Broadcast

How to Discover Your Spiritual Gifts

From the series The Holy Spirit

If you want to know deep joy, understand how to invest your life in things that bring you deep and lasting satisfaction, and experience the presence of God like never before, you need to know one very key thing. In this message, Chip explains how to discover your spiritual gift.

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Message Transcript

The Holy Spirit does a lot of things, we learned, He indwells us, He controls us, and one of the great things He does is He gives us spiritual gifts. When you think about a gift you think about a birthday, you think about an anniversary, you think about surprising someone, you think about the perfect gift.

We give gifts, what, to whom? People we care about to celebrate major things, to remember certain things, and we think about what do I want to give someone that they could really use, that fits them perfectly, and would express our deepest love?

Isn’t that why we do it? Birthday gifts, anniversary gifts, graduation gifts, special gifts. What I want you to know is that’s so true of us humanly, but when you talk to people in the body of Christ, many regular, ordinary Christians, and you bring up the subject of spiritual gifts you usually have two extremes.

Extreme number one on the left is denial. There’s lots of people that say, “I don’t think God gives any gifts at any time anymore.” And then you have people on the other side that are dogmatic about the gifts. There’s these, or not these, or there’s all these.

And what I’ve discovered in the body of Christ is most people are somewhere in the middle because if you’ve been around people that say they don’t exist or if you be around people who say, “This is the way they exist and it’s got to be like this and this is how we see it.” I find most Christians kind of go to the middle of confusion, I’m not really sure, I don’t think I’m going to talk about that because people seem to argue a lot.

And I’ve done this a lot. But if I asked you to pull out a 3x5 card and the God who died for you, Jesus, and who rose from the dead and sent spiritual gifts to you, I will tell you, there’s probably not two people in ten that couldn’t say on a 3x5 card, “This is my primary spiritual gift, this is my ministry gift, this is how I use it, and this is how I make decisions and this is very important to me and I understand it clearly.”

You will not find that in the body of Christ. You ask people, what’s, “Well what’s your spiritual gift?” “Well, I kind of think it’s mercy and leadership and, sort of, administration. Hospitality. Playing the piano. Tacos.” And how does that really help you live your life? “I don’t know, I just took a test once.” So are you ready to learn about what spiritual gifts are all about, and how it works, and how important it is?

I’m going to suggest there’s four questions everyone needs to ask and answer about spiritual gifts. Number one is super pragmatic. Why bother? Why does it even matter that we understand spiritual gifts. I’m going to give you four reasons.

One, they’re essential for determining God’s will. There’s, people want you to do all kind of things. When you’re in your sweet spot, when you’re doing what God wants you to do doesn’t it make sense if He has an Ephesians 2:10 calling on your life, “You are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which before the foundations of the earth, He’s called you to walk in.”

Don’t you think He’s gifted and designed you to walk in that good work? So you better be doing that, not responding to all the needs everywhere. And if you don’t know what your primary spiritual gift is how will you know where to invest your time and your energy?

Second reason. They’re God’s stamp of approval on your value as a person. Spiritual gifts remind you that you got this gift because Christ died. He loves you, He’s for you. You give gifts to people you care about, He gave this gift to you, to remind you every time you use your spiritual gift, “I must matter.”

It’s like if some of you have had a grandfather give you one of those watches that opens up and every time you hold it and you’ve got that watch or some people have a little thing around your neck and you can open it up and it has a heart and it has a picture of someone or something engraved.

Or some of you for special gifts have a plaque and there’s something engraved in it. And it reminds you that whoever gave that to you says, “You matter.” And that’s when Jesus gave you a spiritual gift He wants you to know, “You matter.” He gave it to you, especially for you.

And third, when known and exercised they put you in the place of meeting needs and building deep, meaningful relationships.

See, when you know your spiritual gift it helps in decision making, it literally helps your self-esteem in the positive sense of that. And third, it really solves a lot of the loneliness problem.

There’s all kind of Christians that are very, very lonely. They don’t feel a part of anything. When you start using your spiritual gifts, you know what you’re doing? You’re meeting the needs of other people and you’re getting close to people. You get connected to people. You’re needed. You’re helping. Your focus is on what God is doing and other people and that’s the fourth one.

It produces something pretty amazing. The byproduct of exercising your spiritual gift is joy. It’s joy.

I remember learning this the hard way. Theresa and I had gone to Dallas to go to seminary. We went to a large, Bible teaching church where a lot of professors were at the seminary. They had a children’s program that was second to none, they had puppets, they had all kind of stuff. I mean, this place ran like crazy. The editor of the NIV Bible taught one class and he did that on the Psalms.

And there was another professor of Christology and he taught a class. I mean, it was like going to a conference every week. It was unbelievable. I mean, you didn’t even have to pay to go to these classes. It was just church.

And I remember, we came from West Virginia where a mega church is two hundred people. I mean, mega, mega church is two hundred people. Maybe three hundred. I mean, it’s huge. There were only a million people in the whole state.

And so here’s this church of two or three thousand people or whatever and Sunday school class is bigger than any church we’ve ever been in, these professors, and the Hebrew word for this and the Greek words for that. And it was like we went week number one, week number two, week number three. It was like, “Can you believe this?”  I mean, it was like we were getting drunk on God’s Word.

And then we got into about week six or week seven and we had this interesting experience. I’ll never forget it. We get into the front of the church, ready to open the doors, and I turned to Theresa and I said, “Do you feel like going to church today?” She said, “No.” I said, “I don’t either.” I said, “You want to go to Wendy’s?” “Yeah, okay.”

So, we’d already dropped off our kids. This doesn’t sound so spiritual does it? But we did. So we go to Wendy’s. And it was right next to the church and we sat down and I said, “Man, I don’t know what it is but this is all great, great, great, great. But something’s wrong. Something is really wrong.”

And as we sat down and jotted a few things on a napkin it was like, you know, where I came from is I had a Bible study every Tuesday morning with a group of guys, and I was teaching every Thursday night to a group of college students. And this is why I came to seminary. And Theresa was meeting with a group of girls.

And what we realized is we were getting, getting, getting, getting and we weren’t using. We weren’t using our spiritual gifts. And you know what? The joy factor, we weren’t growing. We were getting smarter, man, I knew more Greek words and Hebrew words and the Psalm and a lament, man, there was stuff I learned to pronounce things like, “pneumatology” and “eschatology” and something-ology.

You know? I was learning all kind of stuff. But I was shriveling up. And I remember I set an appointment, you know, it was a very large church, and it was my first experience with a large church.

So I get an appointment with the pastor. I got on his calendar so three months later I got to meet with him. And so I thought, you know, I got one shot and I’m pretty organized guy when it comes to this kind of stuff. So, I wrote down on a 3x5 card, “I’ve done this, I live this kind of ministry, I think my primary spiritual gift is this, I’m open to doing whatever anywhere in the church. I just want to serve. Just put me in the game, kind of thing. And here’s a little bit of background, and here’s a couple names of, get a reference because I know it’s a large church, you don’t want some wacko.”

And so we sat down for lunch and his name was Don Geiger. I said, “Hi, Don, how you doing?” I said, “Oh excuse me, I got a card for you and would you just look this over before we eat?” And I gave it to him and then I faked like I had to go to the bathroom.

So, I just went to the bathroom and washed my hands and I thought, “I think he’s got the card read by now.” And then I walked back and I sit down. And I said, “So, Don, what do you think?” He said, “It sounds like you want to get to work, don’t you?” I said, “Don, I know I got a full schedule in seminary. I’m dying. I’m shriveling up. You just, you tell me where you need anybody in this church and my wife and I are in. We need to use our gifts.”

And two weeks later we were teaching a sophomore class, high school class, and a few months later we were leading a college ministry and our whole life changed. The joy factor went up, kids are in our living room again.

Why bother with spiritual gifts? Well, decision making, loneliness, joy – heck – if that’s all that I gave you that would be enough.

Second question you need to ask about spiritual gifts is not just “why bother” but what is a spiritual gift? Let’s get on the same page. Because as wonderful as playing the saxophone, or the piano, or cooking a great dinner, those are talents. Those are not spiritual gifts.

So what is a spiritual gift? Definition: A divine enablement of special ability upon every member of the body of Christ, which fits them for specific and corresponding service. Now, if you will, open your Bibles, 1 Corinthians chapter 12. As I read it I want you to circle three words: Gifts, service, and workings, depending on your translation.

Let’s pick it up at verse 4. The question in the Corinthian church is who is spiritually mature and about spirituality and maturity. A lot of groups think, in this particular church, that certain gifts make you really mature and so Paul is explaining about spiritual gifts.

And so in verse 4 he says, “There are different kinds of gifts but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service or ministry but the same Lord. There are different kinds of workings or manifestations but the same God who works all of them together.”

There’s only two or three doctrines in all of Scripture that when they are described the whole Trinity comes together: The Great Commission, redemption. And he says here, “There are gifts, services, and workings.” Then notice, “The Spirit, the Lord Jesus, God who works all of them in all men.”

You need to understand God has given you a gift. I believe a primary or motivational gift and when you exercise that I think He will give you ministry gifts and then as you function in that way the Spirit of God will cause manifestations of growth to help other people see God for who He is, and love them, and inspire them, and encourage them, and heal them, and comfort them.

A gift, the word is “charismata.” It simply means, used exclusively in the New Testament for a gift, it’s not a natural talent. Its root word is “charis,” which is the “grace” that’s used one hundred and fifty times in the New Testament. And the idea is beauty, or favor in action. That’s what a gift is. It’s beauty, or favor in action.

The prefix, spiritual, or pneumaticos, just has the idea of what kind of a gift, it’s from the source, in the Spirit of God. So God gives something that’s for beauty in action.

It provides ability. When you have a spiritual gift you have a supernatural enabling from God. It may align with your natural gifts, it may not. One of the greatest evangelists I ever knew was a man named John Saville. He was the shyest human being I’ve ever met.

But when he, he came to Christ late in life and I watched John in an elevator, the elevator, now it was a really long elevator. You know, like, fifty stories. And I was going to lunch with John and John had come to Christ in his sixties after going bankrupt two or three times and having some really hard times in his life. And he was just, he just loved lost people.

And I remember being in that elevator and I was going to lunch with John and we’re there and it’s Dallas. Business suits, pinstripes, the whole bit, and there’s three very official people behind us and I’m here and John’s there and there’s a nice lady in a business suit and John turns to her and says, “Excuse me?” She says, “Yes?” “Has anyone ever told you how much Jesus loves you?”

And I’m going, “John…John…” I’m his pastor. He’s chairman of the board. I’m thinking, “John, this is, you don’t know, this is uncool. This is not how you do it. There’s three guys in suits. Look, Jesus? Come on.”

And she said, “No.” He said, “Well would you like me to tell you?” And her eyes get watery and she starts to – this is an elevator. This is a twenty second deal. Eyes get watery, tears start to come down. John pulls out a tract. He leans over, he reads the first part of the tract, he folds it, puts it in her hand, he goes, “I own Saville, Dodgen and Company. Tell you what, you come up and give this to my receptionist. I’d just love to tell you about Jesus.”

And she took that thing and held it, doors open, she gets out. I’m thinking, “How does that work?” This is the shyest guy I know. You know why? A spiritual gift is a supernatural enabling. God does something in you and through you that isn’t just, like, super-sizing what you are. It’s supernatural.

It is the ability, it’s the qualification. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe Bible training is important, seminary training is important. But I think we’ve gotten to the day where we’re more worried about accreditation than real qualification.

I’ll tell you, you know what? D.L. Moody was a shoe salesman with a very limited education. He did okay.

When I had the privilege of pastoring at Santa Cruz, twelve and a half years, I remember at one point in time we had about ninety people on staff. We grew from several hundred to a lot of people. And we had about ninety some people on staff.

And I looked one time, and I realized we had, like, thirty-five people in seminary. But all, because our staff came out of our church. I think I only hired two or three people on the outside, you know, like counseling and special qualifications. Why? Because they proved that they could do the ministry. They had our heart, they had our DNA, they were producing spiritual fruit.

Then what they realized was, “I need some training.” So I’m not against training but I want you to know, we’ve gotten in the day where people think that, “Well, I haven’t been to Bible school so I guess I can’t teach that class, or I can’t do that, or I’m not qualified.” Here’s what makes you qualified: Loving Jesus, being gifted, get in the Word, step out.

All through Scripture it’s like these people you would never think God would use. That’s who we are. God has given you power. But if you don’t know what your gift is you don’t even know where to plug in. So it gives ability, qualification. It gives strength, it gives energy, it gives endurance. When you’re in your giftedness there is joy.

Finally, it’s about responsibility. Ability, qualification, strength. A gift is just like your time. It’s just like your money. You’re a steward of it. God has deposited in you a supernatural ability to help people in ways where miraculous things can happen.

Now think of this: He died, He rose from the dead, He gave you this gift. How sad it would be if you don’t know what it is. What would it be like, like your six year old’s birthday. And he wanted a bike, he wanted the bike, he wanted the bike, he wanted the bike, oh, “Could I have a bike?”

And you get this big box and you put it in and so he can’t tell what it is and there’s a big ribbon. And then you stick it right in the center of the garage and then you give him the garage door opener. “It’s your birthday!” And he presses it, and it opens, and there’s the big box. And then he goes, “Well, I think I’m going to go play with my friends.” “Well, what about the box?” “Well, I’ll do that later.” “But what about the box?”

Well, how would you feel as a parent? “Open the box! That’s a two hundred dollar bike, kid! You’ve been dreaming about that! You were made to ride that bike! Open the box!” That’s how God feels. Some of us have never opened the box. You don’t know what it is. You don’t know how to use it. You never got on it and ridden it.

And so there’s a joy factor and there’s a lot of Christians that are very frustrated and really burned out. And part of that is if you don’t open the box because you’re good, sincere people and want to be nice and helpful and it’s really hard to say no you’re on this committee, on this committee, you help out here, you do this, you do that, you do this, you do that. And you do that for a few years and then you get really burned out and then a lot of you, you used to do all that and then right now you don’t do anything.

Correct? You don’t do anything. It’s like, “I’ve spiritually retired. I’m going to let those younger people carry the ball from here on out.”

Where did you get that? In a John Wayne movie or something? This life you have and this spiritual gift deposited, is until the day you die. And God often will use it in the latter part of your life more than in the earlier part because you actually now have some life experience and wisdom to go with the gift.

But if you don’t know what it is, you don’t know how to cultivate it, then you miss. So there’s a stewardship. The stewardship of your spiritual gift is just like your money, your time, or anything else. So, that’s what a spiritual gift is.

Third question is how and why do we receive spiritual gifts? In your Bibles, flip over, as you will, to Ephesians chapter 4. I want to show you a very, very important New Testament picture that I think when I was saying, “Open the box,” you’ll realize why.

First, they are distributed by the ascended Christ. Book of Ephesians: Chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3 – doctrine, clarity. This is who you are in Christ, every spiritual blessing.

Chapter 4 opens up. It’s the tilt. It moves from doctrine to practice. “Therefore just as you’ve received the Lord now so walk in Him.” And the word there, he’s going to talk, “Work out your salvation,” he’s going to talk about in Philippians 2. And here he says, the word is, there’s a word for “access” here. He says, “I want your beliefs to turn into your behavior. Walk in a manner worthy.” That’s that word. “In a manner worthy of the Lord.”

And if you look at the first three or four verses it talks about some attitudes that you need to have to do that with all forbearance, and gentleness, and humility, and then he’ll talk about the doctrinal clarity that you have. “There’s one faith, one Lord, one baptism.”

And then beginning in verse 7 he’s going to talk about the risen Lord and where spiritual gifts come from.

Picking it up at verse 7 he says, “But each one of us grace has been given as Christ appointed it. That’s why it said: ‘When He ascended on high He led captive in His train, and gives gifts to men. What does, ‘He ascended’ mean accept that He also descended to the lower earthly regions. He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens in order to fill the whole universe. It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.”

You might, in your notes, just jot down in the corner, Psalm 68. He’s quoting Psalm 68. Psalm 68 is a psalm of victory in the ancient Near East and here’s how it would happen is this army, say Israel’s army would go over and they would take care of that army and they would then take all those people and often in this history someone would ride in on a white horse, literally a white horse, and behind him would be all of his army.

And then behind them, this is a little graphic, but they would either be stripped to the waist or stripped naked all the people that you’ve captured to show. They’re humiliated and you’re going to march them through your hometown.

And behind them would be cows and donkeys and all the spoils, and all the, whether it’s silver and gold.

And so the champion or victor would come in, the army would come behind him, the humiliation, the defeated foe, and they would take the spoils and give gifts to the people.

And so if you got a cow it would remind you, “Our army beat the Assyrians,” or “Our army beat the Babylonians,” or “Our army beat the Philistines.” And He takes that imagery and He says, “Christ came and He defeated sin and death and Satan, and He led a host and when He defeated those things one of the implications that reminds you that you have this supernatural gift by the ascended Christ who has overcome death, overcome the power and the penalty of sin, and Satan himself is your spiritual gift. And that gift is the marker to say to you, “It’s finished.”

So, I’m thinking it might be pretty important to Jesus, these gifts. Not just, “Oh well, you know, some are really big on gifts and other people aren’t. I don’t think it really matters that much. It does to Him.”

Notice, second, gifts are distributed to every believer without exception, at the time of salvation, on the basis of grace. 1 Peter 4:10, he says, “Each one of you should use whatever gift he’s received to serve others faithfully, administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

And so it’s just given to every believer. You have a gift. At least one. Probably more than one.

Third, gifts are distributed for the profit of others. 1 Corinthians 12:7, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” Gifts are not about, “What is mine,” and spiritual naval gazing. “I wonder what it is? Could it be this? Could it be that? I’ve taken three tests. I think it might be a little bit more of this, little bit more of that.”

Gifts are primarily about you having an enabling from the risen Christ to build His Church, to love people, to help them grow, to help them develop. And for some of you it’s building and others it’s repairing. For others it’s leading, for others it’s doing things behind the scenes. Others it’s mercy, others it’s generosity. For others it’s leadership. For some it’s the ability to teach God’s Word.

And then the application: For some, you’re gifted and you have passions to teach God’s Word to one-year-olds, and other five-year-olds, and other seven-year-olds, and other junior high, other high school.

For others you have this gift and you long to explain things to people that are lost and you could do it in an apologetic manner. For others, you know what? You want to do some things behind the scenes of the service. You can’t understand just the joy that you get in making things operate and work well.

And whether it’s repairing a bus, or setting up a room, or doing things and you do it to the glory of God and as we learned earlier, there is no difference in God’s economy, importance or value, than the person who is up front speaking, or preaching, or teaching and the people who are doing everything behind the scenes.

That’s going to be his whole point, isn’t it, later? “Can an eye say to the ear, ‘I don’t need you.’ Or the foot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’” We’re a team. We’re a body. And there’s only one head.

And so they’re given for the profit of others. And third, gifts are distributed sovereignly by the Holy Spirit in accordance with each believer’s best interest and God’s ultimate glory and purpose.

Same chapter, 1 Corinthians 12, skipping down to verse 11. “And these are all the work of one and the same Spirit and He gives them to each one just as He determines,” you might underline the word “determines” or “wills.” The word is “boulomai.”

 

There’s a couple different words in the New Testament for God willing, or choosing, or determining something. This is one, this word means “to will or determine something after careful consideration and thought.”

I’d like you to think just for a second. What if this is true? What if an all-knowing, all-powerful, sovereign God of history and time in the universe, has you living in this season of history right now, and what if He has a purpose, one that’s not completely clear to you but there’s not only a purpose for His Church, in general, but for you individually?

What if there’s something that, you know what? See, God looks at it different, you don’t have to be famous, you don’t have to write a book, you don’t have to get up in front of anyone. But when you fulfill the purpose that He made you for, you, like a strategic piece in the divine puzzle, do something that makes the body become all God wants it to be.

And what if when you do that, in ways that you can’t understand, it has impact on people that’s not just positive but it’s exponential, and you can’t quite understand it, and there’s something that happens in you as you do it, where it produces this joy.

So instead of this, “Oh well, I feel guilty and it’s kind of a duty and I know they need a lot of help and no one else will do it so I guess I will,” which is how a lot of Christians serve, there would be this sense of, “God, I want to do what You made me to do. I want to discern what is it that You sovereignly deposited inside of me to fulfill what only I can do to help people in ways that, it may not even align with my natural talents, or it might align with them a lot. But I want to know what that is.”

See, the Bible is really clear. Earnestly desire, the Scripture says, earnestly desire spiritual gifts. And then he’ll go on in that chapter 12 and 14 to say – what? Shoot for the ones that help the other people the most as you’re searching and praying and discerning.

And although that, you know, like with your kids? All the natural talents your kids ever get, they’ve got them when they’re born, right? But they have to be developed. They have to be cultivated. That’s why when you’re kids are coming up, you give them a shove sort of in the music area, and a little bit in the athletic area, and maybe a little bit over here, and a little bit over there, and you just…

And all of a sudden, bang! Woo! I didn’t know that was in there. But everything that they ever have that they need, it’s already inside of them. And as they explore and cultivate and they develop and then they like certain things and they’re good at certain things.

It’s the same of you. If it’s untapped, if you don’t know what it is, if it’s not cultivated then you’re probably not getting to experience what God wants for you. But there’s something more tragic.

There’s probably people in your network that He has you, and you’re the answer to their prayer, but since you don’t know your gift or you’re not exercising it, some of their prayers aren’t getting answered in the way He’d like.

Because did you ever notice that sometimes God intervenes absolutely in these just humongous, amazing, supernatural ways, right? Tchoo! Whooo! But by and large, God answers your prayer in the form of a gifted person. He brings someone into your life that has wisdom, He brings someone into your life with a gift of giving, He brings someone in your life with comfort.

Most of your prayers get answered by a gifted person showing up with a servant’s heart and a willingness and a prompting from God to be Jesus to you in some way. And they help you get through a rough part in your marriage, or they help you have some wisdom to get your business back on track, or they help you deal with one of your kids, or deal with what it’s like to be lonely or some difficult issue in your life.

Or they, like me, I was thinking about, as I was trying to figure out how to tell my little story in about four minutes, and I was thinking of all the people that God has brought in my life. When they first came and said, “Would you like,” someone came to our church and said, “We think this would be good on the radio,” I said, “No,” because I was afraid that someday I would mess up and do something really stupid and embarrass God, and so I didn’t want to do that because some people that I really respected became “a little bit more well-known” and then they did some really immoral things and it so discouraged me I was just, out of fear, I didn’t want to do that.

And I remember God putting His arm around me and saying, “Well, God’s going to use someone. I don’t think being afraid is really a big motivation I find in Scripture. I think you need to take a step of faith.”

And I didn’t know how to organize it. Everything I’ve ever done in my life I can look back and see there was individuals with wisdom, counsel. I had never written a book. And I was asked to write a book, and I was working on the very first one and we were at this conference, and it was a conference that had Ron Blue and Associates. And it’s a financial group, financial planning.

And he said, “You should come up with a wise financial plan, in case something good happens in these books.” He says, “Because, you know, there’s only three things that mess up all of us but especially you preachers and, right? You know, lust of the flesh, sex. Money. Or pride.”

So he said, “You need to make advance decisions on all those things.” He goes, “I’ll pay for the first year.” I said, “I don’t need a financial plan, I don’t have any money.” He said, “Believe me, just, you know…”

So, we made a financial plan and then made a commitment in advance of what we would do with the money before we ever made any of it.

See, a gifted person, he just came into my life at a window of time. And see, you are that person to someone else. Or God wants you to be that person to someone else.

So, with that let’s answer the last question. And the last question is: How do I discover my spiritual gift? Pray seriously and seek God’s guidance, and this isn’t one of those, “Oh, God, please.” I mean, pray seriously.

Have you ever fasted for a day and said, “God, would You make specifically clear what my spiritual gift is? Or for the next thirty days, every day, I will pray and ask You to make that clear.”

Second, study the gift passages in God’s Word. There’s a lot of tools, and a lot of good ways but they’re not real… Romans 12, right? 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, 1 Peter 4, and Ephesians 4. Those are all the gift passages. Study them. Say, “God, I’m going to study these.”

Third, test the waters. Get involved where you think you might be interested and just jump in. We used to have a rule where you could try anything for six weeks. Just jump in and say, “I’d like to help out with this or I’d like to try this and I’m not sure it’s God’s will but I want you to know I’m going to give it six or eight weeks and at the end of that time I may step back and say, I know you have needs, I’m not going to feel guilty, this isn’t the right place for me.”

But a lot of times you think you’re going to be stuck in something forever so you never try. Test the waters.

Four, examine the fulfillment factor. I mean, when you’re doing what God made you to do, I will tell you, there’s something that will come back that you’ll say, “Wow, I’d love to do this. This is exciting.”

And then, evaluate honestly. Ask yourself, “What am I really good at? What am I really good at? Where do I see God show up that it kind of surprises me? There’s a lot of false humility running around the Church. “Well, I’m not really...I’m not really very good in that… And uh…”

And sometimes there’s a lot of just not false humility there’s a false arrogance as well. And so not only do you evaluate honestly, but get quality counsel. I mean, take some steps, and take someone who will actually be honest with you, and ask them.

And there’s people who will come, “Oh I’m called by God to teach!” Or, “I’m called to sing in the church. Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!” And you just go, “Oh my lands.”

So, you’re good at something but get some people around you who will tell you what you’re good at and what you’re not good at. And listen to them.

And then finally here, recognize God’s evident blessing. Where’s the fruit? Where’s God using you? Where are lives changing? What happens that you can’t explain when you teach, or give, or lead, or show mercy, or counsel, or exhort, or preach, or organize, or serve behind the scenes?
I’m not against training but I want you to know, we’ve gotten in the day where people think that, “Well, I haven’t been to Bible school so I guess I can’t teach that class, or I can’t do that, or I’m not qualified.” Here’s what makes you qualified: Loving Jesus, being gifted, get in the Word, step out.

All through Scripture it’s like these people you would never think God would use. That’s who we are. God has given you power. But if you don’t know what your gift is you don’t even know where to plug in. So it gives ability, qualification. It gives strength, it gives energy, it gives endurance. When you’re in your giftedness there is joy.

Finally, it’s about responsibility. Ability, qualification, strength. A gift is just like your time. It’s just like your money. You’re a steward of it. God has deposited in you a supernatural ability to help people in ways where miraculous things can happen.

Now think of this: He died, He rose from the dead, He gave you this gift. How sad it would be if you don’t know what it is. What would it be like, like your six year old’s birthday. And he wanted a bike, he wanted the bike, he wanted the bike, he wanted the bike, oh, “Could I have a bike?”

And you get this big box and you put it in and so he can’t tell what it is and there’s a big ribbon. And then you stick it right in the center of the garage and then you give him the garage door opener. “It’s your birthday!” And he presses it, and it opens, and there’s the big box. And then he goes, “Well, I think I’m going to go play with my friends.” “Well, what about the box?” “Well, I’ll do that later.” “But what about the box?”

Well, how would you feel as a parent? “Open the box! That’s a two hundred dollar bike, kid! You’ve been dreaming about that! You were made to ride that bike! Open the box!” That’s how God feels. Some of us have never opened the box. You don’t know what it is. You don’t know how to use it. You never got on it and ridden it.

And so there’s a joy factor and there’s a lot of Christians that are very frustrated and really burned out. And part of that is if you don’t open the box because you’re good, sincere people and want to be nice and helpful and it’s really hard to say no you’re on this committee, on this committee, you help out here, you do this, you do that, you do this, you do that. And you do that for a few years and then you get really burned out and then a lot of you, you used to do all that and then right now you don’t do anything.

Correct? You don’t do anything. It’s like, “I’ve spiritually retired. I’m going to let those younger people carry the ball from here on out.”

Where did you get that? In a John Wayne movie or something? This life you have and this spiritual gift deposited, is until the day you die. And God often will use it in the latter part of your life more than in the earlier part because you actually now have some life experience and wisdom to go with the gift.

But if you don’t know what it is, you don’t know how to cultivate it, then you miss. So there’s a stewardship. The stewardship of your spiritual gift is just like your money, your time, or anything else. So, that’s what a spiritual gift is.

Third question is how and why do we receive spiritual gifts? In your Bibles, flip over, as you will, to Ephesians chapter 4. I want to show you a very, very important New Testament picture that I think when I was saying, “Open the box,” you’ll realize why.

First, they are distributed by the ascended Christ. Book of Ephesians: Chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3 – doctrine, clarity. This is who you are in Christ, every spiritual blessing.

Chapter 4 opens up. It’s the tilt. It moves from doctrine to practice. “Therefore just as you’ve received the Lord now so walk in Him.” And the word there, he’s going to talk, “Work out your salvation,” he’s going to talk about in Philippians 2. And here he says, the word is, there’s a word for “access” here. He says, “I want your beliefs to turn into your behavior. Walk in a manner worthy.” That’s that word. “In a manner worthy of the Lord.”

And if you look at the first three or four verses it talks about some attitudes that you need to have to do that with all forbearance, and gentleness, and humility, and then he’ll talk about the doctrinal clarity that you have. “There’s one faith, one Lord, one baptism.”

And then beginning in verse 7 he’s going to talk about the risen Lord and where spiritual gifts come from.

Picking it up at verse 7 he says, “But each one of us grace has been given as Christ appointed it. That’s why it said: ‘When He ascended on high He led captive in His train, and gives gifts to men. What does, ‘He ascended’ mean accept that He also descended to the lower earthly regions. He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens in order to fill the whole universe. It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.”

You might, in your notes, just jot down in the corner, Psalm 68. He’s quoting Psalm 68. Psalm 68 is a psalm of victory in the ancient Near East and here’s how it would happen is this army, say Israel’s army would go over and they would take care of that army and they would then take all those people and often in this history someone would ride in on a white horse, literally a white horse, and behind him would be all of his army.

And then behind them, this is a little graphic, but they would either be stripped to the waist or stripped naked all the people that you’ve captured to show. They’re humiliated and you’re going to march them through your hometown.

And behind them would be cows and donkeys and all the spoils, and all the, whether it’s silver and gold.

And so the champion or victor would come in, the army would come behind him, the humiliation, the defeated foe, and they would take the spoils and give gifts to the people.

And so if you got a cow it would remind you, “Our army beat the Assyrians,” or “Our army beat the Babylonians,” or “Our army beat the Philistines.” And He takes that imagery and He says, “Christ came and He defeated sin and death and Satan, and He led a host and when He defeated those things one of the implications that reminds you that you have this supernatural gift by the ascended Christ who has overcome death, overcome the power and the penalty of sin, and Satan himself is your spiritual gift. And that gift is the marker to say to you, “It’s finished.”

So, I’m thinking it might be pretty important to Jesus, these gifts. Not just, “Oh well, you know, some are really big on gifts and other people aren’t. I don’t think it really matters that much. It does to Him.”

Notice, second, gifts are distributed to every believer without exception, at the time of salvation, on the basis of grace. 1 Peter 4:10, he says, “Each one of you should use whatever gift he’s received to serve others faithfully, administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

And so it’s just given to every believer. You have a gift. At least one. Probably more than one.

Third, gifts are distributed for the profit of others. 1 Corinthians 12:7, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” Gifts are not about, “What is mine,” and spiritual naval gazing. “I wonder what it is? Could it be this? Could it be that? I’ve taken three tests. I think it might be a little bit more of this, little bit more of that.”

Gifts are primarily about you having an enabling from the risen Christ to build His Church, to love people, to help them grow, to help them develop. And for some of you it’s building and others it’s repairing. For others it’s leading, for others it’s doing things behind the scenes. Others it’s mercy, others it’s generosity. For others it’s leadership. For some it’s the ability to teach God’s Word.

And then the application: For some, you’re gifted and you have passions to teach God’s Word to one-year-olds, and other five-year-olds, and other seven-year-olds, and other junior high, other high school.

For others you have this gift and you long to explain things to people that are lost and you could do it in an apologetic manner. For others, you know what? You want to do some things behind the scenes of the service. You can’t understand just the joy that you get in making things operate and work well.

And whether it’s repairing a bus, or setting up a room, or doing things and you do it to the glory of God and as we learned earlier, there is no difference in God’s economy, importance or value, than the person who is up front speaking, or preaching, or teaching and the people who are doing everything behind the scenes.

That’s going to be his whole point, isn’t it, later? “Can an eye say to the ear, ‘I don’t need you.’ Or the foot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’” We’re a team. We’re a body. And there’s only one head.

And so they’re given for the profit of others. And third, gifts are distributed sovereignly by the Holy Spirit in accordance with each believer’s best interest and God’s ultimate glory and purpose.

Same chapter, 1 Corinthians 12, skipping down to verse 11. “And these are all the work of one and the same Spirit and He gives them to each one just as He determines,” you might underline the word “determines” or “wills.” The word is “boulomai.”

 

There’s a couple different words in the New Testament for God willing, or choosing, or determining something. This is one, this word means “to will or determine something after careful consideration and thought.”

I’d like you to think just for a second. What if this is true? What if an all-knowing, all-powerful, sovereign God of history and time in the universe, has you living in this season of history right now, and what if He has a purpose, one that’s not completely clear to you but there’s not only a purpose for His Church, in general, but for you individually?

What if there’s something that, you know what? See, God looks at it different, you don’t have to be famous, you don’t have to write a book, you don’t have to get up in front of anyone. But when you fulfill the purpose that He made you for, you, like a strategic piece in the divine puzzle, do something that makes the body become all God wants it to be.

And what if when you do that, in ways that you can’t understand, it has impact on people that’s not just positive but it’s exponential, and you can’t quite understand it, and there’s something that happens in you as you do it, where it produces this joy.

So instead of this, “Oh well, I feel guilty and it’s kind of a duty and I know they need a lot of help and no one else will do it so I guess I will,” which is how a lot of Christians serve, there would be this sense of, “God, I want to do what You made me to do. I want to discern what is it that You sovereignly deposited inside of me to fulfill what only I can do to help people in ways that, it may not even align with my natural talents, or it might align with them a lot. But I want to know what that is.”

See, the Bible is really clear. Earnestly desire, the Scripture says, earnestly desire spiritual gifts. And then he’ll go on in that chapter 12 and 14 to say – what? Shoot for the ones that help the other people the most as you’re searching and praying and discerning.

And although that, you know, like with your kids? All the natural talents your kids ever get, they’ve got them when they’re born, right? But they have to be developed. They have to be cultivated. That’s why when you’re kids are coming up, you give them a shove sort of in the music area, and a little bit in the athletic area, and maybe a little bit over here, and a little bit over there, and you just…

And all of a sudden, bang! Woo! I didn’t know that was in there. But everything that they ever have that they need, it’s already inside of them. And as they explore and cultivate and they develop and then they like certain things and they’re good at certain things.

It’s the same of you. If it’s untapped, if you don’t know what it is, if it’s not cultivated then you’re probably not getting to experience what God wants for you. But there’s something more tragic.

There’s probably people in your network that He has you, and you’re the answer to their prayer, but since you don’t know your gift or you’re not exercising it, some of their prayers aren’t getting answered in the way He’d like.

Because did you ever notice that sometimes God intervenes absolutely in these just humongous, amazing, supernatural ways, right? Tchoo! Whooo! But by and large, God answers your prayer in the form of a gifted person. He brings someone into your life that has wisdom, He brings someone into your life with a gift of giving, He brings someone in your life with comfort.

Most of your prayers get answered by a gifted person showing up with a servant’s heart and a willingness and a prompting from God to be Jesus to you in some way. And they help you get through a rough part in your marriage, or they help you have some wisdom to get your business back on track, or they help you deal with one of your kids, or deal with what it’s like to be lonely or some difficult issue in your life.

Or they, like me, I was thinking about, as I was trying to figure out how to tell my little story in about four minutes, and I was thinking of all the people that God has brought in my life. When they first came and said, “Would you like,” someone came to our church and said, “We think this would be good on the radio,” I said, “No,” because I was afraid that someday I would mess up and do something really stupid and embarrass God, and so I didn’t want to do that because some people that I really respected became “a little bit more well-known” and then they did some really immoral things and it so discouraged me I was just, out of fear, I didn’t want to do that.

And I remember God putting His arm around me and saying, “Well, God’s going to use someone. I don’t think being afraid is really a big motivation I find in Scripture. I think you need to take a step of faith.”

And I didn’t know how to organize it. Everything I’ve ever done in my life I can look back and see there was individuals with wisdom, counsel. I had never written a book. And I was asked to write a book, and I was working on the very first one and we were at this conference, and it was a conference that had Ron Blue and Associates. And it’s a financial group, financial planning.

And he said, “You should come up with a wise financial plan, in case something good happens in these books.” He says, “Because, you know, there’s only three things that mess up all of us but especially you preachers and, right? You know, lust of the flesh, sex. Money. Or pride.”

So he said, “You need to make advance decisions on all those things.” He goes, “I’ll pay for the first year.” I said, “I don’t need a financial plan, I don’t have any money.” He said, “Believe me, just, you know…”

So, we made a financial plan and then made a commitment in advance of what we would do with the money before we ever made any of it.

See, a gifted person, he just came into my life at a window of time. And see, you are that person to someone else. Or God wants you to be that person to someone else.

So, with that let’s answer the last question. And the last question is: How do I discover my spiritual gift? Pray seriously and seek God’s guidance, and this isn’t one of those, “Oh, God, please.” I mean, pray seriously.

Have you ever fasted for a day and said, “God, would You make specifically clear what my spiritual gift is? Or for the next thirty days, every day, I will pray and ask You to make that clear.”

Second, study the gift passages in God’s Word. There’s a lot of tools, and a lot of good ways but they’re not real… Romans 12, right? 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, 1 Peter 4, and Ephesians 4. Those are all the gift passages. Study them. Say, “God, I’m going to study these.”

Third, test the waters. Get involved where you think you might be interested and just jump in. We used to have a rule where you could try anything for six weeks. Just jump in and say, “I’d like to help out with this or I’d like to try this and I’m not sure it’s God’s will but I want you to know I’m going to give it six or eight weeks and at the end of that time I may step back and say, I know you have needs, I’m not going to feel guilty, this isn’t the right place for me.”

But a lot of times you think you’re going to be stuck in something forever so you never try. Test the waters.

Four, examine the fulfillment factor. I mean, when you’re doing what God made you to do, I will tell you, there’s something that will come back that you’ll say, “Wow, I’d love to do this. This is exciting.”

And then, evaluate honestly. Ask yourself, “What am I really good at? What am I really good at? Where do I see God show up that it kind of surprises me? There’s a lot of false humility running around the Church. “Well, I’m not really...I’m not really very good in that… And uh…”

And sometimes there’s a lot of just not false humility there’s a false arrogance as well. And so not only do you evaluate honestly, but get quality counsel. I mean, take some steps, and take someone who will actually be honest with you, and ask them.

And there’s people who will come, “Oh I’m called by God to teach!” Or, “I’m called to sing in the church. Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!” And you just go, “Oh my lands.”

So, you’re good at something but get some people around you who will tell you what you’re good at and what you’re not good at. And listen to them.

And then finally here, recognize God’s evident blessing. Where’s the fruit? Where’s God using you? Where are lives changing? What happens that you can’t explain when you teach, or give, or lead, or show mercy, or counsel, or exhort, or preach, or organize, or serve behind the scenes?