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Summary: A message on using your spiritual gifts.

USING YOUR GIFTS

Ephesians 4:7-16

INTRO: According to the New Testament, each Christian has been given gifts or talents and abilities. But many of these gifts have gone unused. Since God has entrusted them to us, it seems fitting that we should find the best way to use them. How can we best use our gifts?

I. DISCOVERY.

Until we recognize our abilities, we probably will not use them. The text mentions apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The persons who were fulfilling these roles were gifted. Obviously, not everyone fits into these particular functional roles, but every Christian can do something. And each must discover what that something is.

ILLUS: When I was a child we often made little jokes like, “When God passed out brains, you thought He said rain and you ran for shelter!” The joke was crude, but nevertheless points out the truth that not everyone excels mentally. However, the fact that we are not all A students does not imply that we are limited to doing nothing. We do have at least one gift.

We must put forth effort to find that gift. For some of us that might mean experimenting with several tasks to find the one we are best equipped to do. It will certainly mean that we all spend time in prayer to discover our gifts.

II. DEVELOPMENT.

Notice the word apostles in verse 11. These men are listed first. They had the unique privilege of spending time with Jesus, but that privilege did not exempt them from daily growth and development. According to Acts 6:4, they continued daily in prayer and in the ministry of the Word.

ILLUS: Those of you who have worked with tobacco crops know that tobacco plants have what are called suckers that grow on the stalk above each leaf. Although they invariably grow back, the farmer must remove these growths. When the plants are big enough, the farmer sprays a chemical that stops the growth of the suckers but stops the growth of the entire plant as well. The plant never grows any bigger. This is what has happened to many Christians. Their gifts or talents have ceased to develop. They have stopped growing.

Perhaps God has given you the ability to speak well. Then you should practice your speaking, read books on the subject, and maybe take a formal course of study to enhance your God-given ability. In other words, learn to speak better.

III. DEMONSTRATION.

According to verse 12, the gifted people were to “prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service.” It would be impossible for them to do this without actually using the gifts that God had given them.

ILLUS: I can remember the time when I wanted to learn to drive. My father had let me sit in his lap and steer the car on several occasions, but that was not good enough. I wanted to sit behind the wheel by myself. Dad had shown me how to shift the gears, and how to steer. Now I was ready to “solo.” But did I have the nerve to try it? I did, and I did not have a wreck. The crucial test was whether or not I would take what I had learned and put it to use.

Discovering and developing your gifts is not enough. The moment comes when you must demonstrate action--actually get up before people and speak or personally share the gospel with someone verbally. Always present is the danger of failure, the possibility of error. But we must take the risk if we are ever to use our gifts.

IV. DIRECTION.

Some people use their talents for the wrong purpose. Verse 14 mentions the teaching of “deceitful” men. They were probably extremely gifted but were using their gifts in the wrong direction.

ILLUS: Nuclear energy can be a great asset to man, but it has already proven to be a destructive weapon and could be devastating to all of humankind. We need to channel this energy in the right direction. The same goes for our talents. There are persons who can use their speaking or writing abilities to sway large Numbers of people in the wrong direction.

Our talents are given to us by God to equip His people and to build up the church. Let us exercise extreme care that we do not misuse that which has been entrusted to us.

CONC: The gift or gifts are there in your life. Find out what they are. Then develop those gifts into something you can actually use. Finally, channel those gifts in the right direction. This will be a good start in using what God has given.

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