Last Sunday I spoke about spiritual gifts.
I talked about how all believers are called upon by God to use their spiritual gifts for others.
I spoke specifically about that spiritual gift that we all have which is the gift of encouragement. We are to continually be encouraging one another in the faith.
Today I would like for you to really think about which spiritual gifts you have that can be shared with our congregation.
In today’s New Testament reading the Apostle Paul says that we are the body of Christ. We are the people of God and that God has appointed apostles, prophets, and teachers.
God has gifted some for deeds of power, some with gifts of healing, some with forms of assistance, some with leadership, and still others with the gift of tongues.
The important message to take away here is that there are a variety of gifts that God has given us to be shared with others.
What might be your gift?
It might be one that Paul listed or it might be another kind of gift.
For some time now I believe that God has given me the gift of spirituality in order to share that gift with others.
I consider myself a very spiritual person. This means that I experience God in very real ways as I live my life. I believe that God regularly speaks to me and that God calls me to share what I have been given with others.
For the longest time before becoming a pastor I resisted even the thought of becoming a pastor. But as time went on I realized that it does no good to argue with God because God always wins.
God wanted me to use what gifts I have for others. I realized that I have a deep spirituality that I can share with others. It is out of this particular gift that I preach, teach, and offer pastoral care.
Having this gift from God is the reason why I continue to serve as pastor. I believe God has gifted me with words, a message, and spiritual gifts so that I might serve God’s people.
Specifically, God has called me now to this church in order to share my gifts with this congregation.
As we think about our spiritual gifts it can be hard to know what those gifts might be. You might be thinking… I know that God gives us gifts but I do not know what mine are.
You might be asking God even now, “Lord, what are my spiritual gifts?”
If you are thinking that question right now than I want to say to you: “Good job!” That is the right question.
Go ahead and ask God these questions in prayer say, God… “What are my spiritual gifts?” What gifts have you given me that I can share with others? “How can I know which gifts are truly mine?”
Sometimes it is only through time and much prayer that the Spirit reveals our true gifts.
In the early church they believed in charismatic gifts. Paul speaks regularly about these gifts. These are the very special spiritual gifts given to people by the Spirit as an act of pure grace.
These would include such things as speaking in tongues, performing miracles, and in healing people. The first Christians believed that God gave these special gifts to believers.
For example, in the book of Acts chapter three Peter heals a man who cannot walk. I love what Peter says to the man.
He says to the poor man who cannot walk, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give to you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” After Peter speaks these words the person stands up, begins to walk, and the man praises God.
Another example of charismatic gifts comes again from the book of Acts chapter two.
Here the people gather on the Day of Pentecost, this Jewish festival celebrating the fifty days after Passover, and suddenly all the people become filled with the Holy Spirit and they begin speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave them the ability.
Have you ever known someone who speaks in tongues? As Lutherans we don’t lift up the speaking of tongues or for that matter any of the charismatic gifts as much as our evangelical brothers and sisters do.
But even still we may have something to learn from those Christians who still believe in the charismatic gifts.
When I was working as a hospital chaplain I worked with a very wonderful man, whose name was also Tom. Tom consider himself a charismatic pastor.
Tom believed that he had the gift of speaking in tongues. When I first started working with him my initial reaction was to dismiss him and his spiritual gifts. I wanted to dismiss him as a weird Christian.
But as time went on I and I saw him do the work of God in the hospital I could not deny that he had strong gifts for helping people and for ministering to people.
At that time I felt that God was speaking to me and telling me to be more open to my colleague and also to be more careful about making judgements on another Christians spiritual gifts.
Today I still don’t understand what the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues is all about but I have learned though my friendship with Tom, while at the hospital, that God equips all of us with different spiritual gifts for the common good.
I believe that my spiritual gift is my spirituality. Prayer, meditation, fasting, Scripture reading, being in the silence are all practices that come very natural for me.
God comes to me in very real ways and then God calls me to share what I have received from God with others.
That is the way it is with spiritual gifts. Gifts are meant to be used for others. No gift is better than any other gift.
My gifts are not better than your gifts and your gifts are not better than mine. We each are gifted differently by the Spirit. This is a key point that the Apostle Paul consistently makes in the Bible. No gift is superior from another gift.
This is so important to remember.
Sometimes I get jealous of other pastor’s and of their particular spiritual gifts. For example, I do not consider myself a very dynamic pastor and so I am envious of those pastors that are very dynamic.
But then I need to remind myself that God has gifted me in other ways. God has given me a heart for God’s people and God has gifted me with a deep spirituality that I can share with others.
Remember it is not the kind of gift that matters as much as how we use it to build up the body of Christ. Maybe you are thinking now that you just do not have any charismatic gifts.
That is OK.
For many of us our gifts lie more in the area of practical ministry. These are the gifts of caring for the needy, serving, contributing, performing acts of mercy, administration, and in listening to others.
And as it says in the Bible that all believers are to manifest within their lives the fruits of the Spirit. These are the gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
And I would add that all believers are called upon to use the gift of encouraging. We are always to be encouraging one another in the faith.
We are always to be about the work of building up the body of Christ.
The reign of God is near when God’s people live more deeply into their spiritual gifts. The kingdom of God is near when people use their gifts for others.
May God bless you as you discern and recognize your gifts.
May the Spirit richly bless our church with a large variety of spiritual gifts.
May God lead us by the Spirit into deeper faith in this exciting new church year.
Last Sunday I spoke about spiritual gifts.