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Stretched Reach: Serving With What You Have

By: Admin on May 6, 2013

God wants us to be stretched beyond who we are and where we are as individuals as well as congregations. God has set up goals and then has given us resources to be able to accomplish those goals.

Among the resources we have from God are "Spiritual Gifts". Spiritual gifts are abilities and talents given to us by the Holy Spirit, God himself, in order to accomplish what God has planned for each one of us, for the church and for our society.

In both Romans chapter 12 and 1 Corinthians chapter 12 we find a list of these spiritual gifts as well as instruction on the attitudes we need to be able to use them effectively. These gifts are not for personal gain, they are for the benefit of everyone. These gifts are given to each one based on the Holy Spirit's wisdom and desire, but as we see people putting these abilities to use, we realize that God has definitely taken each person's individuality into consideration.

Taking a look at Romans chapter 12:6 - 8 we see this list:
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

This is not an exhaustive list nor are the explanations below the definitive authority on what they mean. Take a look at these descriptions and see where you might fit:

PROPHESYING: the God-given ability to know what God is saying and then announce it to others according to our faith: more mature faith in God leads to knowing more about God’s word and then knowing how to better communicate the incredible message of God.

  • Requires: having the intimate connection with God and the Bible so you are able to distinguish what to say, when to say it, how to say it and to whom it should be directed. Requires a certain amount of boldness because prophets have always been disparaged and ignored.
  • Bible Examples: Old Testament prophets

SERVING: the God given ability of knowing and meeting people’s practical needs. We all must serve, but this particular gift involves one actually being energized through their serving. If you have this gift...then just do it! We all must serve, but this particular gift involves one being able to identify just what is needed and then acting in the appropriate way.
  • Requires: sensitive heart, paying attention, access to resources.
  • Bible Examples: Onesimus according to the book of Philemon. There is also a whole list of them in Romans chapter 16

TEACHING: The God-given ability to communicate God’s message in a way that people not only understand, but then act upon the message so others can see visible results. If you have this gift...use it!
  • Requires: Knowledge of God's word, creativity to see the needs of the ones we are communicating, the ability to creatively communicate truth and then the patience to see people through so they can actually grow.
  • Bible Examples: Priscilla and Aquila with their student Apollos. (Acts 18)

ENCOURAGEMENT: A person possessing the gift of encouragement has a unique ability to help others gain a positive emotional and spiritual perspective on their circumstances. Encouragers are people who find the positive in any situation. For them, “the glass is always half full”. Encouragers are at their best when they can motivate the assembly of Christ Followers to persevere in the struggle against sin and to strive for the accomplishment of God’s mission for the Church (from: Assessme.org).
  • Bible Examples: Barnabas, partner with Paul and leader of the first churches in Asia. Story starts in Acts 9 and Acts 13. His name was actually, “Joseph,” but he was such an encouragement to everyone that the main leaders of the church called him Barnabas, which literally means in Aramaic: “Son of Rest” but has the idea of one of puts you at ease in the midst of your troubles.

GIVING: one with the ability to direct resources generously to meet needs. Not necessarily the wealthiest, but the one who has an open heart and gives willingly to meet needs.
  • Requires: Generosity! God always seems to give so that the person with this gift can keep on giving.
  • Bible Examples: Paul gives us the examples of the Christians in Corinth (1 Corinthians 9) and the Christians in Philippi (Philippians 4)

LEAD: The ability to exercise a positive, forward influence on others. From Howard Hendricks: not necessarily a manager or administrator - it is the person who has a greater vision than just the details and desires to help others capture the vision and carry it through to the end. Do it diligently! All-in with perseverance and integrity. Leaders don’t quit, they follow the vision with full commitment and purity.
  • Requires: vision from God to see what needs to be done and the influence over others to inspire them to jump on board the train
  • Bible Examples: Timothy, Paul’s friend and apprentice - Paul trained him to use his leadership gift to the maximum by not only leading, but training other leaders. Timothy is mentioned all through the book of Acts, in other books of the New Testament and then in the two letters that Paul wrote to Timothy.

MERCY: from the Institute of Basic Life Principles, the basic motivational drive is to sense and respond to the emotional and spiritual needs of others. Those with the mercy motivational gift have a divine ability to sense hurt and respond to it with love and understanding.
For those who have this gift, exercise it cheerfully, the merciful person finds their joy in being merciful.
  • Requires: Kind heart and gentle approach to people
  • Bible Examples: In the book of Ruth, Boaz showed great mercy to Naomi and her Moabite daughter in-law Ruth, both widows.

The question for a follower of Jesus is not, "Do I have a spiritual gift?" It is really, "What is my spiritual gift?"

One of the first questions to ask yourself is, "What is my passion and vision?" Ask yourself what really drives you, what do you really want to do?

You can also try a spiritual gift inventory: Here are a couple you can try: SpiritualGiftsTest.com and BuildingChurch.net

God bless as you take the step to discover and use the gifts God has given you.

Topics: holy spirit, message series, volunteering

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