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About this series
Your Divine Design
How to Discover, Develop, and Deploy Your Spiritual Gifts
Do you know how God has uniquely wired you? Every believer was created to play a strategic role in the body of Christ, with the gifts God has given them. But many of today's Christians face one difficult question: How do I discover my spiritual gifts and then use them effectively in my church? This series will unpack key passages from Romans, Ephesians, and 1 Corinthians to explore the role of spiritual gifts in the believer's life, while helping you to pinpoint your own. With biblical insight and practical steps, you'll learn how to discover, develop, and deploy your spiritual gifts so you can live a life of greater impact.More from this series
As we get started, I want to make a confession. In fact, I’m going to make three really small confessions, so brace yourself. And if you don’t know me very well, I don’t want to be too vulnerable too early, but my first confession is, I do not watch a lot of primetime TV, and I do not like it. Okay? I don’t like TV a whole lot. There are not a lot of good things to watch. It’s just a confession.
My second confession is, of all the things on primetime TV that I hate, that I loathe, are reality shows. Have you noticed, in the last few years – I mean, reality this, reality that? I just hate reality shows.
So, here’s a guy who doesn’t like TV a whole lot, and, he loathes reality shows. So, are you ready for this – my third confession? I watched a reality show recently. Yes, I did, and I loved it. It was called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
And I had taught that night – it was a Sunday night – and I came home and wanted to relax, and I turned it on. I had no idea what was going on. But before I knew it, here is this guy, and he had, like, six kids, or five kids, and four of them were teenagers. And they began to unfold the story.
His wife had died about a year and a half or two years ago, and you could tell, from the little snippets they gave, that he was a believer in Christ. And I mean, he was now working two jobs, trying to be a dad, and any time the thought of his wife was brought up, he would begin to tear up. It was a really close-knit family. And your heart just began to break.
And, apparently, the theme of this program, Extreme Makeover, is, they find people in very difficult situations, and then they have a team of construction people and designers, and then they go into the neighborhood and to the relational network – in this case they went to this guy’s church – and they went to his neighbors, and they asked them to donate their skills, and they brought in a group of pros.
And then, they take the family away – I don’t know if it’s for a week, or ten days, or how they do it; I didn’t get that much into it. But then, they totally revamp the house. Now, it looks a little bit like it used to look on the outside, but they knocked out walls. They increased the square footage. They put in an upper floor. They redid a room for every one of the kids. And each one of them was designed according to the needs of the people.
The dad was working two jobs just to make it now, and so they created this unbelievable office, so he could do his second job at home. The four teenagers – no hope of going to college; they were financially strapped. And so, one was kind of a strong guy, and he was working out. They created an indoor gym, with a spiral staircase, and they had every piece of equipment you could imagine.
And then, one of the girls had this artistic flair, and she had this dream of maybe being a designer, or an artist. And her room, the bed, they could pull out the bed, and she could do drawings.
One of the other kids had this dream about working with animals. And so, everything in the room – there was an aquarium, and the bedspreads, and the pillows, and everything was about animals.
Every room was designed around the desires and the gifts, to help their life and their family function in a way that would be extremely different, and extremely more wonderful than before.
And then, they bring the family back in, and they look at the house from the street. And all the neighbors who helped are there, and they’re all cheering. It’s going crazy. And they pull this big truck, and then the truck goes away, and they look at their house. And then, they walk in and open the door.
And then, this is what happens: The tears start going down their eyes. “Dad!” And then, they just walk them from room to room to room, and they tell them why they created this room for them, and how to help their family.
And the people, you can tell, I don’t think the people who run the show are necessarily Christians, at all, but when they love someone that much, they start crying, the neighbors start crying, the people who get loved start crying, and I’m on my couch going, “I hate reality shows . . . but I just love this one!” I’m crying in my living room! And I thought to myself, Ingram, this is ridiculous.
And so, I did a little research. And I found out that there’s not one reality show. It is a movement. I actually did a little research. Not only do they do Extreme Makeover for houses, they do Extreme Makeover for cars. They take old cars, and then they turn them into spiffy cars. They do Extreme Makeovers for motorcycles. In fact, I’ve found there’s a channel that, I think, the only thing they show is the Chop Shop, and they keep redoing these motorcycles. On good authority – I have a friend who tells me they have Extreme Makeovers for pets. You bring your ugly mutt, and it’ll come out woo-woo-woo, you know? Woo-woo-woo-woo-woo! Unbelievable.
They do Extreme Makeovers – and this is one, I do confess, out of pure curiosity, they actually do it for people. The one I saw, okay, fourth confession, I guess. They took a lady who was significantly overweight, and who, by her admission and everyone else’s, was not very attractive, and they did everything to her you could ever do. I mean, it was scary, scary.
I mean, she got a facelift; she got a liposuction. She got new dental work. She didn’t like her jaw; they broke it and gave her a new one. They did implants in all kinds of places, and they cut stuff off in all kinds of other places. And I’m just going to let your imagination know where it goes.
But, there’s a lady who came in at about a size 40, and then they took a hairdresser, and then they took an expert in clothing, and a designer, and about, I don’t know, three months later, she ended up on the top of this staircase, and she walked down the staircase.
All of her friends, and neighbors, and her kids. And she’s got a facelift, and just imagine, from the neck down, all the other things that occurred. And I still remember, they went, “Ohhhh!” And I just thought to myself, Unbelievable. I mean, she had more plastic surgery done on her body than I think is humanly possible.
And I thought to myself, Man, we are into this Extreme Makeover stuff. And then, I asked myself, Okay, what is an extreme makeover, and why are we so fascinated by it?
Let me give you a definition of what I think an extreme makeover is. It is the process of taking something that is old, broken, imperfect, damaged, or not useful, and recreating it into something that is whole, useful, beautiful, attractive, and new.
And then, I asked, Well, what is it about something that’s old, that’s made new, something that’s broken and made whole, something that isn’t right, and then is made beautiful and useful – what is it about that, that really attracts us? And there may be a lot of reasons, but let me give you my top three.
The first is, I think we all inwardly love to see positive change. In my human heart, I love to see positive change. Remember, even as a kid, when I was a kid, when I found a penny, I thought it was really cool. And we had this stuff where you could rub stuff on an old, yicky penny, and it would become a bright, shiny penny, and it’d be like, “Woo!” I mean, what is that? There’s something about seeing positive change that is so exciting for all of us, as human beings.
The second reason is, I think our curiosity is riveted by the skill and creativity involved in making the old, new; and the broken, whole; and taking that which was unbeautiful and then making it beautiful. The curiosity, I looked at this Extreme Makeover thing, and I was asking myself, How do they knock out a whole wall? That house doesn’t look big enough to have two stories now.
The third reason, I think, that we’re fascinated by extreme makeovers is this: I think all of us secretly long for an extreme makeover in some area of our lives or relationships. See, I’m just like you. And I think, down deep in my heart, and down deep in your heart, is, I long for, Boy, I’d like to be different. I’d like to take something old in me and make it new. I’d like to take a broken relationship and see it whole. I want to see positive change.
And, you know what? Rather than feeling bad about that, I think it’s God-given. I think it’s rooted in the spiritual DNA of your Creator, in your heart, in your life, that you want an extreme makeover. Because I’m going to suggest that the ultimate extreme makeover is Jesus Christ working in a human heart, and taking that which was old, and making it new; Jesus Christ working in a human heart, and taking that which is broken, and fixing it; taking that which is unuseful and dysfunctional, and making it useful, and functional, and winsome, and beautiful.
In fact, I believe our fascination with makeovers is rooted in the Author of extreme makeovers Himself. The ultimate extreme makeover: 2 Corinthians 5:17. It says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, the new has come!” God’s desire – listen to this: God’s desire, the One who created all that there is, the One that created you – His desire is to do an extreme makeover for every single person on this planet. An extreme makeover.
As fascinated as I was with the woman’s “before” picture and “after” picture, as amazing as it was to see the house look like this, and then the house look like this…God wants to do a relational, spiritual, emotional, internal, forever transformation in every man, every woman, every child. He wants to do a recreation.
He wants to take the old and put it away. He wants something new to come in. He wants an open door in your heart and life, and a relationship with Christ that gives you new desires, and a new future, and a new purpose, and a new life, and a new peace. And He wants to take the old, and forgive, and He wants to take the old, and He wants to cleanse, and He wants to put your past behind you. God wants to do an extreme makeover in your life, and mine, and the way He does it is through His Son, Jesus.
Now, what I’d like to do – are you ready for a little analysis? I’d like you to open your Bibles to the book of Ephesians, and I want to spend a little time and ask ourselves, How does it work? Okay? If we were doing Extreme Makeover with God, we’d say, “How’d He do that? How’d He do that?” And in the Book of Ephesians, we’re going to learn exactly how He did that.
Let’s begin in chapter 2 and notice who you used to be. Over here is the “before” picture. In a minute, we’ll see the “after” picture. The first three verses of Ephesians 2 are going to give you the “before”: before the spiritual plastic surgery, before they came in and knocked out the drywall, and put in the second floor.
Notice what it says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, and the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us” – no exceptions – “also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”
Now, we could spend a lot of time studying this, but I can give you three quick observations about how you used to be before Christ, or where you are at if you don’t know Him personally.
Number one, it says we were dead in our transgressions. Theologically, that just means we are separated from a life with God. We are separated from God. There is a wall; there’s a barrier. We are separated from a relationship with the God who made us.
Second, you’ll notice, we’re prisoners of the world’s system – the ruler of the power of the air. We’re prisoners to addictions. We’re prisoners to dysfunctional relationships. We’re prisoners to being addicted to pleasing people.
And then, finally, notice, it says that we’re objects of wrath. There is just judgement for living in a way that hurts people – the stealing, and the lying, and the manipulation, and the image casting, and the things that we all have done.
And God says, “This is who you used to be. You used to be dead. You used to be a prisoner. You used to be an object of wrath.”
But notice, it gets really good. Notice, who are you now? For those who have a personal relationship with God, by faith in Jesus Christ – picking it up at verse 4, what does it say? “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions – it is by grace that you have been saved.” And then, notice what He did, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”
And if you had a lot of time to study that, you would realize some major changes occurred. You used to be dead; now, you are alive. You used to be a prisoner; now, you’re delivered from sin’s power, Satan’s grip, and past mistakes. You used to be an object of wrath, and now you have a new standing with God. You are righteous. You’re cleansed. You have a new identity. You have new power. You have a new future, a new purpose, a new family, new privileges. And then, very excitingly, you have a new inheritance. “Before” and “after.”
And then, you ask yourself, Well, why? Why did God do that? Look at verses 7 through 9. In verse 7, notice the purpose clause here: “In order that in the coming ages He” – God – “might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in the kindness to us in Jesus Christ.” And then, we get a very familiar passage, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and that’s not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – it’s not by your works” – not by your effort, extreme makeovers are done by God, not by you – “lest any man should boast.”
God wants to do an extreme makeover in your life, and mine, and the reason He wants to do it is so that we could see the riches of the kindness of His grace demonstrated in Christ. We could see – here’s a person’s life. Instead of a physical body going from a size 38 dress to a size 12, instead of a shabby house going into a beautiful palace, He’s saying: here’s an old life in Adam, in an old family with sinful patterns that brought destruction to you, and alienation from God, because of what Christ has done.
He wants to do an extreme makeover, beginning in your heart, and change the way you think, change the way you act, change your standing with God, change your relationships with people. And the reason He wants to do it – did you notice this? It says so that in successive ages – that’s the idea, in time of history – God would exhibit that which He’s really like, to men, and women, and angels.
See, when that lady came down the stairs, I still remember her daughter, they panned the camera really close. And I’m telling you, she looked different. I mean, she looked so different that when she came down, her daughter went, “Ohhhh, Mom! Is that you?”
When those people walked into the house, and they saw that bedroom, instead of the old one, when they saw the living room, and the kitchen, “And we can eat together as a family!” The kids had tears in their eyes, “Is this our house?”
And what’s behind that? It’s a sense of awe. It’s a jaw dropping, “That was so bad, and this is so good.” And what do they do? Then they turn to the people who recreated the house, with a sense of, “Thank you so much.”
And see, what God is about, for everyone that will let Him – He is about doing something in you that takes who you were, and changes it, through the power of Christ, into this new creature and this new person, that if you would meet someone ten years later who maybe you went to school with, or maybe you used to do drugs with, or maybe you used to run with, or maybe you did some stuff back in junior high with – if they could see you, and your life, and your relationships, they would go, “Ohhh, Bobby? Is that you?”
I actually had this experience.
And, uh, there was a fellow that I played basketball with in high school. And he went on to play in one college, and I went on to play at another, and he was a couple years behind me. And we were a couple of high school guys, both non-Christians, both living the high school life in the ‘70s. And I came to Christ, lost track of him for twenty-five years. He later went through some hard times, came to Christ. And he got on the Internet, and looked at our website, found out what we were doing, emailed somebody.
So, I’m, it’s a new members thing, and we’re saying, “Hi, it’s good to have you.” And I look at the first row, and I’m going, I literally stopped, “Phil, is that you?” “Yeah. Chip, is that you?” “Yeah.” And it was kind of like we knew our history: “What are you doing here?” And he looked at me, and I looked at him, “God did an extreme makeover on you, didn’t He? And God did an extreme makeover on me.”
Let me give you one picture that I think will encapsulate it. There is a fellow named Jim, became a very good friend. And his “before” life was one of, he lived in Alaska, made a lot of trips to Mexico, and then did business throughout California. And his business was cocaine.
And he was a cocaine addict, and he was an alcoholic, and his family was falling apart. And he was running for his life, and he had his messed-up life – all of his kids had already gone south. Anything you can imagine, in terms of, he was a spiritual junkyard. His life, his relationships, his body – years and years of cocaine pushing, and use, and alcoholism.
And then, God gloriously started the extreme makeover process. And he came to Christ in Alaska, and he realized, You know something? If I stay living up here, this is not going to be good.
So, he ends up coming down to Northern California. He’s a new believer; he doesn’t know much. And it was about his third or fourth week. And so, you know, he was living the high life, but he kind of went incognito, and he became the janitor at a local high school, just trying to stay sober, and getting a little bit of help, and starting to read the Bible a little bit. And his name was Jim.
And we were early on, the first couple years there at the church, and we were in this old building. And my wife had started a little library, just a little hole in the wall. And in my mind’s eye, I can still remember, he and his wife – it was in between services – He goes, “Hey, Theresa, how you doing?” And so, this couple is there, and there was just something about them that reeked of, “Would somebody help me? Does anybody care about me?” It was like our first time at church.
And my wife is very merciful, which is really good, because I need that, and it’s good for other people, too. And she just invited them in, and we had a little conversation. And before long, they came to the library for a few weeks, and before long, she was meeting with the lady, and talking with her. And before long, I hear his story.
And if you fast forward the camera, we watched this guy – within a couple years, he became our custodian. And within about three years, he was in a back portable, meeting with two or three alcoholics, trying to get them sober. And they showed up about once every other week, and he was pretty frustrated.
But little by little by little, the extreme makeover in the community of God’s people. And as he heard God’s Word go into his heart and his mind, and he got very serious about getting it into his heart. And now, he was in a safe place, and he got in a small group in our church. And Joe was the counselor, the family pastor, and really invested in this guy. And pretty soon, he wanted to know, “What does God want me to do with my life?”
What he was doing wasn’t working, and he heard about this thing down in Southern California, called “Celebrate Recovery.” And so, he said, “I’d like to go down there. I found three or four other addicts in our church, and we want to go down there and see what it’s like.”
So, we threw very little money at it. I mean, very little, like, “Dream a dream, find a team.” That was sort of the goal of – that’s how we did our church, and then figure out how to pay for it.
So, they went down to Southern California, and they saw it and they came back. And all I can tell you is, a janitor who was rescued by Christ, in an extreme makeover, after about three years came back with a team of three or four people, and a year and a half later, we had the second largest Celebrate Recovery ministry in all of Northern California.
And pretty soon, Friday nights were – it got out. And someone, I remember, a guy came up to me after a service and said, “Man, I had a rough night last night. And that little cable station, you were on it, and I watched you on TV. So, I thought I’d come.” I said, “Well, great.” He said, “Yeah, I mean, it was really bad.” And I’m thinking he’s got a hangover.
And he said, “Yeah, I almost really lost it.” I said, “Well, what do you mean?” He said, “What do you mean, man? Like, I almost OD’d on heroine.” And I’m going, “Uhhh . . .”
Have you ever had one of those times where you’re really supposed to know what you’re doing, so don’t act shocked, be very calm? My insides were going, “Heroine, man – I don’t know what I…” And he’s asking me for help after the service. And I’m realizing, so… But I didn’t show any of that. I was, “Oh, well, good. I’m glad you made it through the night, and God brought you here.” And then, I just – Jim. I said, “Could you stay right here?” And I went and got Jim.
I watched them talk for about four minutes. He looked the guy right in the eye and said, “You ready to get help, or not?” I’m thinking, Jim, why don’t you be nicer to this guy? Jim understood the thing, “You want help, or not?” And I mean, they were just so direct. And the guy said, “Yeah, I really do.” He said, “You really do, this is what it’s going to take.” He said, “We don’t play games here. We’ll really love you; we’ll speak the truth, this is what…”
And, you know what? I watched that thing mushroom, and grow, and grow. And after a while, Jim realized that his calling and his gifts were leading him. And there was a Christian college – and even though I’m not sure – I don’t think he ever went to undergraduate, but they let him in.
He took about a year and a half or two-year program in drug counseling. Jim became our pastor of Celebrate Recovery, and he now speaks around the country, teamed up with that church in Southern California.
Is this, like, an extreme makeover, or what? Is this, like, a “before,” dead in his transgressions, prisoner, and now he is alive, free, living? Jim’s life is not just a picture of Ephesians Chapter 2. Verses 1 through 9. Jim’s life is just a snapshot of what God wants to do in you. And He wants to do it in every single person.
And you say, “Well, where do you get that?” Look at Verse 10. Here’s what I want you to see: You are a masterpiece in the making. Look at Verse 10: “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” You are His masterpiece. Jim isn’t some special guy. Every person on the earth – what’s it say? “If any man” – if any woman – “is in Christ” – what’s it say? “The old, the old things pass away, all things” – notice, it’s a process – “become new.”
Now, here’s what I want you to do. Do you have a pen? Pull out your pen. I want you to circle the word: workmanship. Then, I want you to put a little squiggly line under: created in Christ Jesus. And then, I want you to put a box around: to do good works. “For you are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” – for a purpose – “to do good works” – then, notice – “which God has prepared in advance for you to do.” God wants to give us an extreme makeover. He wants to give you a second chance.
Have you ever been shooting foul shots, or shooting darts with someone, and you make a little bet? I’m sure you’ve probably never done this, but in your former days or something. And you’re not quite warmed up, and you shoot one, and you miss it, and you say, “Redo. Redo.” Right? “I mean, if you want to have good competition – I mean, I wasn’t loose. I’ve got to get loose.” Right? “I want a second chance. I want a redo. I want to start over.”
Don’t we all want a redo? You know what God’s saying, through this passage? He wants to give you a redo. He wants to give you a second chance. He wants to give you a new life. This little phrase, “You are His workmanship” – the Greek word here – literally, it’s the picture of a masterpiece in the making, that’s in progress.
You could picture a beautiful piece of art, and you’re the canvas, and God is painting, and reworking, and recreating. And you’re on His easel, and you are a masterpiece, you’re His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.
Or you could see Him as a sculptor, and He’s resculpting your life. And He’s taking the clay of who you are, and He’s forming the different parts, and He is making you – you are His workmanship.
Or you could be a literary work. This word was used of a poem, or a literary work that was in progress. You are the workmanship of God. He’s recreating you – how? – through your relationship in Christ. Why? For the purpose of good works, doing good. God has a purpose for your life.
Don’t we know that now? I mean, if twenty-three million people buy a book, if twenty-three million people buy a book to discover what their purpose is, don’t you think there’s something, down deep in the heart of men and women, that says, “I want to have purpose”?