Using the Gifts God Gave You

Pastor Kim Gilliland
Epiphany 2
SCRIPTURE: John 2: 1-11 and 1 Corinthians 12: 1-11
The Spirit has given each of us a special way if serving others.
1 Corinthians 12: 7

I CAN’T DO THAT!

One day I was visiting with a man who was new to the church. I try to do that when new people show up. If I see them for a few weeks, then I try to get together with them and get to know them a bit better. This man was like a lot of others whom I had visited. He liked the worship. He liked the people. He seemed to fit in fairly well. He told me a little bit about himself and how he had come to our church. It was a very nice time together.

But then I asked him a question that I often ask people who might be just starting in to get familiar with the church. I asked him, “So how can you see yourself getting involved in the ministry of the church?” He wasn’t quite sure what I was getting at so I said something like, “There are a lot of opportunities to do something at the church. For example, we like to have people read the Bible in worship on Sunday morning. On the other hand, there are various committees that do things around the church or get involved with various missions. Maybe there is one of those that you might find interesting. There are all sorts of ways of getting involved.”

He looked at me and said, “Oh, I could never do any of those things. I don’t have that kind of ability.” And I thought to myself, “Really? You look like you can do lots of things.”

So I said, “Or you could join the choir. It’s a really good choir and we have lots of fun.”

But he said, “I can’t sing.”

“The turkey supper is coming up soon. We can always use more help with that!”

“No, I can’t cook.”

“We’re always looking for different people to take up the offering.”

But he said, “I’d probably just get it all mixed up.”

And I thought, “I know you mess up the offering but you really can’t mess it up very badly. Like don’t worry, we’ll make sure the plates get around to everyone.”

I suggested a few other things and finally came to the conclusion that one of two things were happening. Either he wasn’t yet ready for that level of involvement which is fair. Or he really thought that he wasn’t capable of doing even the smallest task. As it turns out, I think it was the latter. He just didn’t think he had the necessary gifts and skills to get involved.

GOD GIVES US GIFTS

The funny thing is that there are all kinds of people out there who feel exactly the same way about themselves. They don’t see themselves as being particularly gifted or talented. They don’t expect that they will ever do anything significant in life.

But then we come face to face with the truth of the Bible. Let’s listen to what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NIV) where it says, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” What we have here is a statement about the source of all of the gifts and talents that each of us possesses. It is, of course, God. What this tell us that, within creation, God has made all of the things that are necessary to fulfill his purpose. There are different kinds of gifts and different kinds of service but they all come from the same place. That is, they all come from God. They are truly God-given. Don’t forget that.

But then we read this verse in 1 Corinthians 12:7 (NIV) which says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” This is actually a very clear statement of why God gives us gifts. It is a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. It is one of the ways in which God comes to us and, in his love, equips us for ministry. But note that God doesn’t give us gifts for our personal gain or benefit. Rather God does it for the common good. God does it in order to build up the body of Christ to do his work in this world so that, as the people of God, we can together make a positive impact on society.

We do that in two ways. First we do it by reaching out in acts of charity and justice. Many of us are involved at the Food Bank or volunteer at Gleaners or the Downtown Mission. Lots of us sponsor children though Compassion and World Vision or support recovering addicts through Teen Challenge. That’s all great stuff and there are a lot of other things in which we can get involved. In fact, there seems to be no end of possibilities. But remember that God gives us gifts not for our personal benefit but rather for the common good.

The common good is about reaching out into the world and making a positive difference. That’s the first thing. The second one is that we reach out to each other. The Church, as the body of Christ, is comprised of people who care for each other. That means that when one of hurts, we all hurt. When one of us rejoices, we all rejoice. Isn’t that what it says in Romans 12:15 (NIV): “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” And don’t we do that? When visiting people in from this congregation who are going through tough time, I often hear about how other church members have reached out to them by sending a card or making a phone call or bringing over some food. I know of people who have come home to see their grass cut or their snow shoveled. That’s great. It’s called looking after one another. Not only that, we also rejoice with each other when children are born or someone graduates or retires. All of this is done to build each other up, not for our own personal benefit but for the common good of the Church.

And then in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV) Paul lists the gifts of the Spirit: “To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.”

Let’s just review that list again: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues. These are not intended to be an exhaustive list of the gifts that God gives us but they sure cover a lot of ground. God gives all sorts of different gifts to all sorts of different people but, again, these are given for the common good, to build one another up in the Lord.

But then we come across people like the man I was telling you about at the beginning of this message. He didn’t think he had any gifts. But he did. Note what it says in 1 Corinthians 12:7. It says that the Spirit has given each of us special gifts for serving others. It says each. It doesn’t say a few or even quite a few have gifts. It doesn’t say that most or even that almost everyone has been given gifts. It says that each has been gifted. Each means all. Everyone who comes to Christ receives gifts from the Holy Spirit which are intended to be used to build each other up for the common good.

Here’s the bottom line. Each of us has been given gifts and each is expected to use them. God has given you gifts so that you can accomplish God’s purpose. That’s because, as I’ve said dozens of times before, God will never ask you to do something that God has not already equipped you to do.

When you ask your child to do something, do you not first give him the tools necessary to do the job? Of course you do. If you want to teach your child to cook, then you need to bring him alongside you when you’re making supper. You teach him. You say, “These carrots need to be pealed for supper. This is paring knife. This is how you use it. Here is the cutting board that you will need to slice the carrots. This is how I want you to slice them, this thickness, this angle. You put them in a pot with some water and boil them until they are tender but not soft.” That’s how you cook carrots. Mind you, you could just tell your child that you want him to cook the carrots and let him figure it out all on his own. I’m sure you’d end up with cooked carrots for supper but I won’t guarantee what they would be like.

If you want something done properly, then you have to invest the time and energy into equipping the person to fulfill the task you want them to do. The same is true for God. God doesn’t want you to make a fool of yourself. God doesn’t want you to try to do something that you aren’t equipped to do. God wants you to do your best. God wants you to be your best. That’s why he gives you everything that you need to be successful at what he calls you to do.

FILLED TO THE BRIM

Each of us, absolutely everyone is a gifted person. You are a gifted person. I am a gifted person. All of us are gifted people before God. God has given each of us the gifts that we need to do his work in the world.

Not only are we gifted people, each of us is filled to the brim with what God wants for us. This morning Carey read for us the story of Jesus’ first miracle, the changing of the water into wine. Jesus was at a wedding where the most unfortunate thing happened. The person organizing the reception didn’t order enough wine. Mary, Jesus’ mother, asked him if he could help out. Jesus agreed to do so. Listen to what it says in John 2:6-7 (NIV): “Nearby were six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim.”

Note how the jars were filled. They were filled to the brim. They weren’t filled half way or three-quarters of the way or even most of the way. They were filled to the brim with as much water as would possibly go into them.

That’s the same way that the Holy Spirit fills you. There are no half way measures with Jesus. When God does something, he does it completely. When he gives you gifts, he gives you all that you need. He fills you to the brim with his blessings.

USING YOUR GIFTS!

There is a reason, of course, for God giving us gifts. Let’s explore that by reading 1 Corinthians 12:11 (NIV): “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” What this tells us is that God doesn’t give us gifts just for the heck of it. God gives us gifts for a reason. And the reason is determined by God. God gives us gifts because God wants us to do something with them.

The trouble is that too many of us are shy about our gifts. Maybe we don’t know we have them. Maybe we know we have them but don’t want to seem showy or arrogant. For whatever reason, some of us are just shy about using the gifts that God has given us.

Jesus had something to say about that. In Matthew 5:14-15 (NIV) he said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

You are the light of the world. One of the reasons you are a light is because you have been given gifts by God to use in the world for his Kingdom. But Jesus said, a light is wasted if it is placed under a bowl. Don’t waste your light. Don’t waste your gifts. Use what God has given to you.

THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH

One of the chief roles of the Church is to encourage people to use the gifts that God has given to them. Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV) says this: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” We are supposed to stir each other up. We are supposed to encourage one another to do that which God as called and prepared each of us to do. So let’s start stirring!

Do you know what’s really fun? It’s really fun to watch people use their God given gifts for the work of the Lord for the common good. We now take for granted a lot of things that happen in worship. For example, do you remember the days before we have presiders in worship? Now we have presiders every week, like John this week, and we’ve watched them grow and develop in this ministry. The same is true for praise leaders. Just like Brian this week, we’ve witnessed people growing into these positions. And then we have someone like Nellie who this time last year was neither a praise leader or a presider but has felt called to both. That is so cool because these are people using the gifts that God has given them for the common good and to build each other up.

So, who do you know that needs to be stirred up? Who has gifts that they aren’t using? We could always put more people on the presider or praise leaders lists. We can always use more singers in the choir. Would you like to read Scripture on Sunday morning or take up the offering? Do you feel God nudging you to letting your name stand for the Church Board? How about the Adult and Youth Education Committee that we are trying to set up. Or what about the Shared Ministry Coordinating Committee? And then there are thing things outside of this church. Maybe you would like to try volunteering at the Downtown Mission or at Gleaners or the Food Bank. There are so many different ways to serve and each of us has God-given gifts and talents that make it possible for us to do those things. So take that bushel basket off of your lamp and let your light shine.

Nothing will ever be achieved, however, without people who are willing to use the gifts and talents that God has given them. Here’s what I believe. God has things for us to do and missions for us to accomplish. That means that as we are worshiping here today, God has already designated the people who will be helping in those ministries. And right now, there are some of you saying, “I’m sure that’s true but I’m also sure that Pastor Kim is not talking about me.” Really? Maybe I am and maybe I’m not. Only you know that, you and God.

Just as God fills each individual to the brim with the gifts that we need to fulfill our purposes, so God also fills this church with the people he needs to achieve his goals for us as a community of faith. You are part of that filling to the brim. You are part of what it takes for this congregation to do God’s work for the Kingdom. Can we do it without you? Sure we can because God will always provide but we can do it a whole lot better with you. Listen for God’s voice. Wait for his touch and see where he wants you to go.

Just as Jesus transformed water into wine, so the Holy Spirit wants to transform your life. And just as the Holy Spirit wants to transform your life, so God wants to transform this church. The Mission Statement of this congregation is “To know Christ and make him known”. Over the next few weeks let’s find out what that will mean in 2019.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

Holy God, we listen for your voice and you faithfully answer our prayers. You hear our pleas and respond in love, providing for us and holding us close to your heart. We thank you for your goodness and for your constant care. You are so great and we are so small but, still, you call us your children and shelter us under your wing.

We offer our thanks for the transformation that you make possible in our lives. You take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. You make simple things special. How grateful we are that you lift us above our limitations and enable us to live as you created us to be. By the power of your Spirit, you change lives. You wash away the sinfulness and make us holy. When others fail to see or accept the changes that you make in our lives, you still encourage us to be all that we can be for Christ Jesus our Lord. Open our eyes so that we can see what you do in the lives of our sisters and brothers. Enable us to see past our differences and look at life through the lens of your love.

We give thanks for the birth this week of Desmond Lane. We are grateful for a safe birth and ask your blessing upon the Lane family as they grow together in love.

Once again, we remember the Canadian soldiers in various troubled places in this world who are seeking to make the world a better, more just and safer place to be for those who are under their care and protection. Keep them from harm’s way and bless them with a special measure of your indwelling peace.

We remember those have been sick this week and need a special measure of your healing touch. We remember especially Lyle and Sharon. Make them well and whole in your sight O Lord.

We remember, also, those who mourn. We pray especially for the family and friends of Cuu Tran whose funeral was on Thursday. Bless them with your healing and Holy Spirit that they may come to the place of peace that only you can give.

God of Grace and Mercy, it is a comfort to know that you care about the things that we do. Enable us to always do all that we can for those around us, and thereby be an example of your love and character. Thank you for your unconditional love and unfailing promises. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

WORSHIP RESOURCE PAGE

January 20, 2019 / Epiphany 2

SCRIPTURE

Psalm 36:5-10; Isaiah 62:1-5; John 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

CALL TO WORSHIP

The love of God reaches the heavens.

God’s faithfulness touches the sky.

His righteousness rises like the mountains,

and justice like the depths of the seas.

Come to us, God, in your unfailing love.

Comfort us under the shadow of your wing.

PRAYER OF ADORATION

We come, God of Love, as a community of faith, gathered to give you humble worship and praise. Speak to us of your love. Hold us in your arms. Protect us in the comfort of your wing. As Jesus turned the water into wine, we ask that you would transform us that our of the clay of our lives, you would fashion vessels of grace and righteousness. Renew us. Refresh us. Perfect us. Amen.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

We come to your holy house out of the goodness of your world. We, also, come in awareness of our sin for all have fallen short of your glory. We fail to live by the standard you have set for us. We hope to do what is right but our human hearts turn us in another direction. We watch television while others sit in loneliness. We waste our resources on lottery tickets and casinos while children in our own community go hungry. We lament the high cost of living while we plan foreign vacations. Forgive our self-centeredness and enable us to live for others with simplicity and dignity. Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON

God renewed the people of Jerusalem as they dwelt in Exile in a foreign land. God heard their prayers and God acted. God continues to save us with acts of compassion and mercy. We are called God’s children, saved in grace and compassion to live fully and freely. Confessing our sins, we receive God’s forgiveness.

DEDICATION OF OFFERING

We offer you our gifts, O God of Creation. We ask that you, who turned the water into wine, would use our offerings to transform the world. May the hungry be fed and the thirsty be refreshed. Enliven us for mission and give us a sense of purpose. May the name of Jesus be heard and known in our words and actions that others may come to receive him as Saviour. Amen.

COMMISSIONING

We have been blessed in our worship with the grace of the Spirit.

We have felt the gentle touch of Godly transformation.

Let us go in Jesus’ name to share the Good News of God’s eternal love.

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