WHERE IS JESUS AND WHAT IS HE DOING TODAY?
I love having conversations with non-Christians who are curious about Jesus. We had one recently; a guy came up after a service. He said, “Okay, I’m trying to figure out Christianity.” Really nice guy. I said, “Okay, any questions? What can I help you with?” He says, “Okay, so Jesus is God?” “Yep, been paying attention, good job.” “And he died on the cross for our sins.” “Yes, he did.” “He rose from the dead.” “Yes, he did.” He said, “So, where’s he at today? Does he live in Israel?” That was his question. I said, “No, if he lived in Israel, somebody would have found him by now, and we would all just go to his church.” But he said, “Well, where is he?” I said, “Well, he’s in heaven.” He said, “Well, what is he doing?”
It’s a good question, right? It’s the question that Paul answers for us today. Alright, where’s Jesus and what’s he doing today? And so if you’ve got a Bible or a fake Bible on your phone, go to Ephesians 4:1–16, as we look at the fact that “I Am Gifted.” And let’s just read the whole thing together. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Let’s read it all together, and we’ll answer those questions, where is Jesus today, and what is he doing?
Paul says, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord,” so their pastor’s in jail, “urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another,” why? Because we’re going to annoy one another. It’s one of the things we’re supposed to do. So you’re doing a good job. Verse 3, “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body,” the church, “and one Spirit,” the Holy Spirit, “just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.” He’s talking about us all being one and in this together. “—who is over all and through all and in all.
“But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.’ (In saying, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds,” or pastors, “and teachers, to equip the saints,” that’s you guys, the church, “for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” A lot of false teachers out there who want to lead us astray.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
JESUS IS IN HEAVEN WITH BELIEVERS
Where’s Jesus today? Well, he tells us, first of all, that Jesus is in heaven with believers. That language of “descended” and then “ascended” explains the whole ministry of Jesus—that Jesus descended down from heaven, that Jesus is God—he’s eternally God; he’s the second member of the Trinity. And he descended from heaven to earth, and he lived without sin, and he said he was God, and we were opposed to him, and so we crucified him.
Then he descended, it says, into the lower parts of the earth. He was buried in the ground, literally, physically dead, and then three days later he rose, so he ascended from his grave back to life, conquering death and sin, and then he witnessed his resurrection by demonstrating he was alive for forty days. Crowds large and small, individual people, small groups, numbers upwards of five hundred people—1 Corinthians 15 tells us—he appeared to his mom, he appeared to his brothers, he appeared to his friends and his disciples. He evidenced that he had, in fact, been crucified, showing the scars in his body. Everybody knew that he was alive, conquered death, did the one thing that no one has ever done, beat sin and death. And then he ascended back into his heavenly kingdom.
So, where is Jesus today? Well, that’s what he tells us. This language of “ascending,” this language of “descending.” And when it says this: “‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.’ (In saying, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he also descended into the lower regions of the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)”
Where did Jesus go when he ascended? He ascended back into heaven, and it says he took captives with him. So if you’ve ever wondered what happened to the people in the Old Testament, Jesus hadn’t died on the cross yet, so their sins were not yet atoned for, so they couldn’t enter into the presence of a holy and righteous God—what happened to those people? Well, their souls were awaiting his ascending, and when Jesus died on the cross he died for the sins of all of God’s people, and when he ascended, he took those who had been waiting. Their souls had been anticipating their ascending, their journey with Jesus into the eternal kingdom. They ascended with him.
So, where is Jesus today? He’s in his heavenly kingdom; he’s ruling and reigning over all peoples, times, and places, and with him are those who have died in faith. The Old Testament believers and those who have died over the course of the last two thousand years—that’s where Jesus is at today.
JESUS IS SERVING THE CHURCH
Then the next question is, “Well, what’s he doing?” Have you ever wondered that? Like, you’re going to wake up tomorrow, and you’re going to grab your calendar or your phone or your punch list of things to do. What’s on Jesus’ list tomorrow? What’s he doing? What’s he focused on? What’s he care about? What’s he paying attention to? What’s a priority for him? Where is he investing himself?
He keeps talking over and over and over and over about the church. So his next point is that Jesus is serving the church, and he’ll use this language of, “The church is like a body.” And this is the most common language in the whole New Testament for all the metaphors of the church regarding the church. It’s Paul’s favorite. And just like a body has many parts, and they all work together for health and life and progress, so you and I, and we—we’re like a body; we’re all a part of this great family of God, and everybody has their bit to contribute, which then leads, of course, into his discussion about spiritual gifts, and what part of the body you are, and what gift you have and what contribution that you make.
He says that this is all possible by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. This is very important because when Jesus ascended, when he went back to heaven—you read this in the opening chapters of the book of Acts—I’ve actually been to the place in Israel where they believe he ascended from. It’s quite beautiful—the question is, is he gone now? Are we abandoned? Are we orphans? Is this like a dad who has a family, and then turns his back and walks out on the family, and all the kids are just devastated because dad’s gone, and now we’re on our own?
There’s actually a theology that teaches that; it’s called deism. God’s just gone. It’s like a dad who just walked out on the family, and we’re on our own. You could see, if you didn’t understand the teaching of the Bible, and you didn’t believe in the supernatural, where you could end up with that kind of erroneous assumption.
So the question is, when Jesus left, did he leave us alone? He didn’t. He said, “It’s actually better for you if I go, so that I can send the Holy Spirit.” And he says this to the early disciples gathered around him after his resurrection, just prior to his ascension: “I’m going to leave, and I’m going to send the Holy Spirit, and he will come with power.”
So Jesus has not abandoned us; in fact, he says, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.” Jesus sends the Holy Spirit. And God the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity, is present with the church. He’s present with the people of God, and so he brings the presence of God among us, and so he’s the one who connects us to the Lord Jesus. He’s the one who, in every way, brings to us the life of the Lord Jesus. And he says it in verse 3, talking about the unity of the Spirit, and in verse 4, speaking of one Spirit.
So what is Jesus doing right now? Well, he’s serving the church, he’s loving the church, he’s paying attention to the church, he’s devoted to the church, he’s concerned for the church, and he’s working in the church through the person, and the presence, and the power of the God the Holy Spirit.
Is the church a priority for you? If your priorities are in line with Jesus’ priorities, then the church will be a great priority for you. You may be in school, but your school will not be here in two thousand years. You may have a job, but in two thousand years, your company will no longer exist. You may love your nation, but in two thousand years, your nation will be a footnote in history. But in two thousand years, there will still be the church of Jesus Christ.
The church of Jesus Christ is the most amazing group of people in the history of the world. Nations come and go, circumstances come and go, and the people of God continue moving forward. Across all the cultures, and all the opposition, and all of the persecution, and all of the ostracism, and all of the complexity, the church just keeps pressing forward. And there are a few billion people on the earth today who claim to worship Jesus Christ and be part of the church. Why is that? How could that possibly be? How could people as disorganized as we are, with such a poor giving base as we have, with such an offensive message that we bring, still abide, and continue, and flourish? God is with us. The Holy Spirit’s doing something. It’s a miracle.
So, when the world looks in and says, “What is the biggest organization on the earth?” The church. “What’s the strongest organization on the earth?” The church. “What’s the longest-lasting organization on the earth?” The church. “How could that be? Look at them. “Oh, God is with them. There’s the variable. That explains everything.” So, what is Jesus doing right now? Well, he is serving the church, he is loving the church, he is growing the church, he is building the church. What is on Jesus’ heart is every local church that loves and serves him. AWe love all the churches that love and serve Jesus. We want our heart to be his heart.
So, what is Jesus doing? Well, he’s empowering leaders. So, Paul here talks about the fact that he’s a prisoner of the Lord Jesus. So he empowers leaders to suffer, he empowers them to lead, he empowers them to evangelize, he empowers them to write, he empowers them to preach and teach. Paul is doing all of those things by the power of the Holy Spirit. And then the Holy Spirit, on behalf of Jesus, is empowering God’s people, you all who are Christians.
He uses language like humility, gentleness, patience, love, unity, peace in verses 1–5. In verses 13–16, he uses these words as well: unity, knowledge, mature, speaking the truth in love, growing, building, loving.
What I don’t want you to do is turn that into a list of things to do. I want you to know that if you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, and you’re in relationship with Jesus, those things come into existence—that he is the branch, right?—and our life is fruit on his branch. But if we are filled with the Holy Spirit, if we submit to the Holy Spirit, if we are following the Holy Spirit, we will treat one another differently, and we’ll treat one another increasingly like Jesus has treated us. So, we’ve all got something to work on, but it’s the Holy Spirit who helps us to become more like Jesus, and, as the church, to treat one another more like Jesus treats us.
JESUS IS GIVING GIFTS
Then he says that Jesus is giving gifts. So, we’ve looked at the fact that Jesus is currently in heaven with believers, that he’s serving the church, and one of the ways that he serves the church is through the giving of gifts. Some of you have heard of spiritual gifts. Some of you are new Christians or non-Christians—you’ve not heard of this. That’s going to be my theme for the remainder of our time together. And he talks a lot about gifts.
Do you like to give gifts? Do you like to give gifts? You should. If you’re a Christian and the Holy Spirit’s in you, you should like to give. You realize God’s a giver, and to be a giver is a good thing. See, the more you give, the more joy you have. That’s why no one is more joyful than God. No one’s more joyful than God.
God loves to give. We don’t have to beg God to give. “God so loved the world he gave us his only Son.” God loves to give. Our God loves, loves, loves to give, and the more you get to know the God who gives, the more you become like the God who gives, the more you give—the more you give. The older I get, I think one of the easiest tests for Christian maturity is whether you’re a giver or a taker.
1. HE GIVES JESUS
He says that Jesus gives. Jesus gives. And there’s a list in this section—first of all, that Jesus is a gift. He talks in verse 7—he says, “Christ’s gift.” I want you guys to know that Jesus is a gift. God may not give you health, he may not give you wealth, but he gives you himself. That’s amazing. Of anything you could ever want, nothing, nothing could even remotely compare to God giving you himself.
You know the greatest gift Grace, my wife, ever gave me? Grace. Not just all the things she does for me, and I appreciate them, but she’s given me herself. She’s given me her whole self for her whole life. She’s a gift. God gives himself. Jesus gave his life, he gives his righteousness, he gives his salvation, he gives his love, he gives his affection. And when the Bible uses the language of grace, that’s what it’s talking about. Our God, the Lord Jesus—he’s a giver.
I want you to know how radical this is. If you look at other religions, their god is a taker, and their god is a taker, and their god is a taker, and their god is a taker, and he’s going to take through karma, and he demands a certain percentage, and he demands certain good works, and he demands certain pilgrimages to sacred places. And Jesus shows up to give. First of all, our God is not a taker. He’s a joyful giver, and he gives us himself. So in verse 7, when he talks about Christ’s gift, Christ is our gift. We’ve been given Jesus. What a gift! All of his righteousness.
2. HE GIVES THE HOLY SPIRIT
Number two, he gives us the Holy Spirit. In verse 3, he talks about the “unity of the Spirit” and in verse 4 “one Spirit.” So God has given us his Spirit, so we’re not orphans, we’re not abandoned, we’re not alone. We don’t have to live by our own power; we can live by the power of God. We’re not left to our own thinking; he can direct our understanding. The Holy Spirit is present in the church.
To some degree, the Holy Spirit is present and at work in the world, but he is particularly and powerfully at work in the people of God, particularly when we assemble together. The Holy Spirit loves it when we get together. He loves to show up at our Community Groups, he loves to show up at our Redemption Groups, he loves to show up at our services. He loves to help us work out our conflicts, he loves to help us love and serve one another, he loves to be present wherever Jesus is praised. God’s given us Jesus. God’s given us the presence, the person, the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. HE GIVES PEOPLE
Number three, God gives us people as gifts. You need to know that you are a gift. You’re a gift to others; you’re a gift to our church. And here, he’s talking about: these people have these abilities, and these people have these abilities, and these people make these contributions, and these people make these contributions. Let me just say that people don’t just have gifts; people are gifts. People don’t just have gifts; they are gifts. And if we only think that people have gifts, then we use them for their gifts. But if we believe that people are gifts, we love and appreciate the person, not just their function. People are gifts. People are gifts. And some of you, let me just say, are great gifts. Others of you are painful gifts, but you’re all gifts. You’re all gifts.
4. HE GIVES SPIRITUAL GIFTS
Number four, what happens then—so God gives us Jesus, the Holy Spirit, one another, and then he gives to each Christian spiritual gifts, spiritual gifts. And he speaks of this in verse 8, “He gave gifts to men.” He gave gifts. Who determines what gift you get? He does. He does. God determines what you do, God determines what they do, God looks at the church, and he says, “Okay, we’re going to need this, we’re going to need this, we’re going to need this, we’re going to need this, so I’m going to give them this ability, and them this capacity, and them this experience, and then they’re all going to come together, and it’s going to be far better.” Paul uses the language in 1 Corinthians, like, you know, we don’t need seventeen feet; we need a body that has all the right parts, orchestrated, organized together, so there’s a lot of diversity, but we’re all unified in this together. “He gave gifts to men.”
So let me say some things about spiritual gifts, and then we’ll talk about individual, particular gifts.
Number one, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a natural talent or a supernatural gift. A natural talent is something you just innately have from birth; a supernatural gift is something you have from your new birth. A natural talent is something you can do before you’re a Christian; a supernatural gift is something that accompanies the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit when you become a Christian.
Let me just say, I don’t care which one you use. Some people ask, “What’s my spiritual gift?” Well, your primary area of service to Jesus Christ and the church may not be according to your spiritual gift; it may be according to your natural talent. The Bible never says that there’s the spiritual gift of singing. That’s a natural talent. Non-Christians can sing too. If you become a Christian, and you have some musical ability, just use that for Jesus. Or if you’re a programmer, or if you’re an accountant, or whatever the case may be. Maybe you’re an engineer or an architect, maybe you’re a graphic designer. I don’t know what your skills are. And you become a Christian and you say, “Well, what do I do?” Well, maybe these abilities God’s already given you are for ministry. So, it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s a natural ability or a supernatural ability. As long as it’s used for ministry, that’s all that really matters.
Number two, the way you find your spiritual gift is trial and error. You try something, you’re no good at it, or you don’t like it, or everybody else says stop. That can be an indication that maybe that’s not your thing. You do something else, and you’re like, “Hey, I’m pretty good at that, and people seem to appreciate that, and God seems to bless that, and I kind of like that.” Maybe that’s your thing. So, trial and error.
In addition, you can have multiple gifts. So, it’s not like they’re exclusive. Some of you have one gift, some of you have multiple gifts, and the gift mix is combined to give you a particular ministry capacity. People have differing amounts of a gift.
So, let’s say you’ve got a leadership gift. You’re like, “I can lead people one on one,” “I can lead small groups,” “I can lead large teams,” “I can lead a massive organization.” There are different levels for each giftedness. Some of you say, “I’m a teacher.” “I can teach one on one,” or, “I can teach a small group,” or, “I can teach a large group,” or, “I can teach a really large group.” There are different levels of gifting.
In addition, you need to cultivate them. Let’s say you have the gift of teaching. You can’t just say, “Well, I have the gift of teaching. I will teach.” “Do you read? Have you studied?” “No, I haven’t, but I have the gift of teaching.” Well, you don’t have the gift of discernment, I can tell you that, because before you teach, you’re supposed to study. So, you’ve got to cultivate your gift.
Some of you say, “I have the gift of leadership.” Well, you’re going to have to cultivate and grow in that gift. Let’s say you have the gift of administration. You’re going to need to start with simple responsibilities and grow and get more training and learn. So, we’ve all got to cultivate and grow in whatever our gift is.
In addition, we need to learn to serve outside of our area of gifting. Alright, somebody walks in, and they say, “I’m really hurting. Can you pray for me?” “Sorry, that’s not my gift.” Alright, come on, you don’t have the gift of mercy? To some degree, we need to be humble enough to say, there are times when we have to serve outside of our area of gifting because there’s a need. It’s not about our gifts; it’s about their need. So you can’t say, “Well, that’s not my gift.” They’d say, “But that is my need.” So perhaps you need to serve in an area that’s outside of your gifting, at least for a season until God brings somebody else.
And let me say this—this will be perhaps helpful. If you come to our church, and you are annoyed by something—alright, other than me—but if you’re annoyed by something—it just bothers you; it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. You’re like, “I hate that. That’s not right. That just drives me crazy. I don’t know why they don’t fix that. Why is that like that?” That might actually be your gift—not to be annoyed, but to help fix the thing that annoys you. If you walk in and you say, “Why don’t they fix that?” That may be that you have the gift that no one else has, and you’re seeing the need that no one else is seeing. And you shouldn’t get frustrated; you should assume it’s a call from Jesus to go to work. You’re welcome. Got you.
But honestly, this is true; this is how it works. Sometimes you’ll be frustrated. It’s because someone with your gift is not fixing that. Well, maybe God’s showing you, so that you can be the one to fix it.
CONSUMER MENTALITY VS. CHRISTIAN MENTALITY
So, why does God give gifts? He says in verse 12, and this is one of the more important Scriptures in the New Testament about the church. Why does he give gifts and leaders? “To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.”
So, what Paul is saying here is, there’s a difference between a consumer mentality and a Christian mentality. In a consumer mentality, the leadership exists to serve you. In a Christian mentality, the leadership exists to equip you to serve others. So, in a consumer mentality, it’s more like a business transaction. “How can I give the least amount of money and commitment and get the most return on investment?” That’s a consumer mentality. A Christian mentality is, “How can I give my money, my time, my gifts, my capacities, my abilities, and where could I help bring unity and health to our church family?”
See, the first perspective is really business; the second is really family. I don’t know of any mom who looks at the family and says, “How could I give the least and get the most like a business transaction and negotiation?” Right? The moms chuckle because the moms know, no, that’s not parental thinking. Parental thinking is, “It’s a family, and I’m here to love, and serve, and give. This is not a business transaction. This is a family interaction. This is not a consumer mindset. This is a Christian mindset.”
You need to be very careful because we live in a day that really is about Christian consumerism. Parachurch ministries competing, churches competing, and then people shopping for churches and shopping for ministries. We use this language; it’s all consumer. “How can I get this, and this, and this, and this program, and these contributions, and how can I give the least but get the most?” That’s consumer thinking, and it doesn’t lead to joy because it’s not the heart of Jesus. Christian thinking says, “Where am I needed? What can I do? How could I help to build up the church?”
Let me say, for those of you who are Christian consumers, there is a great illusion that Christianity is doing well. The latest statistics say that between 7–9 percent of Americans are practicing, Bible-believing, church-attending, evangelical Christians. Let’s say it’s 8 percent, to set a number. Eight percent of people are giving, serving, participating in a church. That means that 92 percent of people don’t know Jesus and/or are not walking with him faithfully.
Now, if there’s only 8 percent, we’re putting a great burden and responsibility on a very small minority. I don’t want you to have a consumer mindset, because what you’re doing then is, number one, you’re dishonoring Jesus; number two, you’re using your brothers and sisters. In some regards, you’re guilty of stealing. They’re giving, and you’re taking. The result is there’s nothing left for those who don’t yet know Jesus.
Our goal is that all of God’s people would be giving, so that we could be reaching those who don’t yet know Jesus. And the way we do that is then by determining, “Okay, what’s my gift? How has God wired me? What is it that is my contribution?”
YOUR GIFT IS NOT YOUR IDENTITY
Let me say this—that in Christ is your identity, and then your gift is your activity. Your identity in Christ explains who you are; your spiritual gift helps clarify what you do. There’s a difference. Your gift is not your identity. Okay, I’m not a preacher; I’m a Christian who preaches. You’re not an administrator, you’re not a leader, you’re a Christian who administrates or a Christian who leads. So, the most important thing is that we love the church and do whatever’s best for all of God’s people.
In addition to that, that it doesn’t become our identity, but it helps clarify our activity. And Paul says over, and over, and over, thirty-some times in the book, “In Christ, in Christ, in Christ, in Christ.” He does it in this section as well. Let me just be very clear: you’re not what you do; you’re what Jesus has done. You’re not what you do; you’re what Jesus has done.
Then what you do is in relationship with Jesus. This will be controversial, but I think Jesus had all the spiritual gifts. He could do everything, alright? He’s perfect. So whatever gift you have, you could look to Jesus and say, “Okay, how did he use this capacity that’s like mine? What does it look like?” And then Jesus gives you a gift that looks like one of his abilities, and then he sends the Holy Spirit to empower you to do a little bit of his ministry.
Okay, but your identity is in your relationship with Christ; your activity is out of your relationship with Christ. And I say this because sometimes people then turn their gifts into idols. “You can’t say I can’t do that. That’s who I am.” Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. I love preaching, but it’s not my identity. It’s not; Jesus is my righteousness. He’s my Savior, he’s my friend, he’s my—he defines who I am. Preaching—I love preaching, but I can tell you with all sincerity, if he ever tells me to stop preaching—I don’t anticipate that he will—I’ll still be a Christian, because my relationship with Jesus is not contingent upon my activity for him. I’ll still love Jesus, I’ll still walk with Jesus, I’ll still love the church, I’ll still love the church. Why? Well, because I love Jesus, and I love the church, and my gift may be a way to serve the church and love Jesus, but my gift is nowhere near as important as Jesus and the church.
NINETEEN SPIRITUAL GIFTS
That being said, there are four places in the New Testament you’ll find lists of what we call spiritual gifts. For those of you with the gift of administration, this is where you now take notes. Okay, 1 Corinthians 12:8–10, 1 Corinthians 12:28–30, Romans 12:6–8, Ephesians 4:11—which we’re in this week—and 1 Peter 4:11. If you forget all that, okay—1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4. Those are the four places that all the spiritual gifts lists are given.
The lists are not the same, so there are some gifts over here, some gifts over there. I don’t think there are any comprehensive lists. I don’t believe this is necessarily the limit of all the spiritual gifts. And even if you put them all together, the lists, I don’t think you get the sum total list of all the spiritual gifts. But I’m going to walk through them. It’s nineteen things, and some of you are going to say, “Wow, that’s going to take a while.” Yes, it will.
So, you are gifted, but I want you to see this, and this is important. You’re gifted. See, some of you have never heard that. You’ve never heard, you know, “You have a meaningful, valuable, purposeful contribution to make. You can do things that matter and help people who need you. And there is a need there with your name written on it.”
See, this is where sometimes Christians think of serving as guilt-based. No, it’s joy-based. “Oh, I’m needed, and Jesus would be honored, and someone would be helped, and I have a particular, unique ability with my personality, and my gifts, and my experience, and my background to meet that need? Well, and Jesus wants me to do it? It’s a little assignment from the King for the kingdom?” That’s encouraging, right? Like, well, hey. Jesus comes up to you and says, “Hey, you know, they really need you. Could you do that for me?” “Yeah, Jesus. Hey, thanks! Yeah, that sounds great. I mean, you’ve been so good to me and I get to go to work with you? That sounds great. That sounds great.” That’s all ministry is, friends. It’s going to work with Jesus. That’s all it is. That’s all it is.
When I was a little boy, my dad—I think I’ve told you this story. I’m getting old, I repeat them. But my dad, Joe, he’d wear construction boots. He’d wear jeans and a white t-shirt, and so that’s what I wore. He had a lunchbox, so I got a lunchbox. He had a hard hat, so I got a hard hat. My dad would go to work, and sometimes I’d get in the truck and go to work with him because I just wanted to do what my dad was doing. Ministry is like that. God’s already doing stuff, and he takes his kids along for the ride, so they can get to know him, and they get to serve alongside of him, and they get to share in his joy.
These are various gifts that God gives for you to be going to work with your Dad. The first is wisdom. This is in 1 Corinthians 12:8. Okay, if you have this gift, you love giving timely, helpful insight. You can read people and circumstances, and everybody’s looking at it like a knot. They’re like, “How do we untie this knot? I don’t understand what we—” and you say, “Okay, how about this? How about that? Let me explain.” And you say the truth. You give wise insight, and everybody’s like, “That’s it!” This can be organizationally. This can be interpersonally.
For me, this is Pastor Dave Bruskas, one of our executive elders. I’ll go to Pastor Dave, I’m like, “Okay, I don’t know what to do here. I can’t figure out what’s right.” Pastor Dave has the gift of wisdom. He has the gift of wisdom, so he’ll think, and he’ll pray, and he knows the Bible, and he’s got a lot of experience in ministry. He’s got a beautiful family. He’s got a lot of wisdom to draw from. What you don’t need is counsel; you need wise counsel. Alright, the world isn’t lacking in counsel, right? It’s lacking in wise counsel. Some of you are looking for advice. Make sure you go to a wise source. People with the gift of wisdom are a great gift.
The gift of knowledge—1 Corinthians 12:8. Okay, if you have this gift, you love to study. You love to research, alright. “Love the Lord your God with all your mind—” you’re like, “I will.” You love that. You might like books and footnotes and dead people. You love that. You love that. If somebody comes up to you, and they’re like, “Have you ever studied?” You’re like, “Oh yes, I have, and I thought that perhaps that nerdy joy would never be used, and I am so glad that you have showed up to talk to me about the difference between Barth and Berkhof, and I’m ready.” Okay, you’re—now, the rest of you don’t even know what I’m talking about, but the nerds, I just spoke their love language, okay? You love to research. You love to study.
I’ve got a pretty significant knowledge/nerd side. I’ve got a huge library. I’ve got a lot of books on my laptop. I like books, I like to look at them, I like to have them around. They’re like friends, right? I like to study, I like to think, I’m more of an introvert, I like the life of the mind.
Okay, it’s a gift of knowledge. Some of you have that. Those of you that love this, you love it when people come up to you, they’re like, “Can I ask you a question?” You’re like, “Yes, you can, anytime!” You’re very excited. If somebody says, “Do you have a good book for me?” you’re like, “Yes, a stack of extra ones, and I will give you one of them. I was hoping someone would ask.” Okay, gift of knowledge.
Gift of faith. Okay, if you have the gift of faith—this is 1 Corinthians 12:9—you love tough or impossible situations. Other people are like, “That’ll never happen,” you’re like, “Yes, it will.” My wife, Grace, has this gift. She’s big faith girl. She just trusts God. It’s been super helpful in this job, because I’ll come up to her—I’ll be like, “I think we’re supposed to put a waterslide on the moon.” She’ll be like, “Great! So, we’ll pray for a waterslide, an astronaut, and a shuttle. When do you need it by?” I mean, she’s—and she’ll pray, and I’ll get a waterslide, and an astronaut, and a shuttle. And I’ll be like, “It happened.” She’s like, “Of course it happened; we asked for it.” Whoa!
Okay, some of you have the gift of faith. You just—you trust God, but it’s not a naïveté; it’s a childlike faith. It’s not a childish faith, but it’s a childlike faith. You’re like, “Well, if God wants it, and he tells us, it’s going to happen.”
Some of you have the gift of faith, right? This is the opposite of some of you who have the gift of discouragement. “It’ll never work,” right? You’re like Eeyore. “It’s going to be terrible.” The opposite of that is the gift of faith. You believe things can happen.
Number four, there’s the gift of healing. This is in 1 Corinthians 12:9. If you have this gift, you love to pray for those who are sick. They’re sick. You love to pray for sick people because you fully know that God is a great physician and that he can heal people. So, we don’t heal people; God heals people. And he does heal people, and we pray for people in faith, trusting that God could heal them, and we expect that he will.
I’ve got a friend of mine who has, I believe, the gift of healing. And he prays for those who are sick and has a very, very, very, very long list of people that have been supernaturally, miraculously healed. And then, see, immediately, some of you are going to be skeptical because you’re the rational type, and you’re influenced by modernism, and you have questions about the supernatural. You’re like, “Well, how do we verify those miracles?” He’s also a medical doctor. He’s a medical doctor who loves Jesus. So, he’ll deal with the body, and he’ll treat physically, but he prays over his patients and has seen many of them healed spiritually. Some of these people I personally know, and I’ve referred to him, and God’s answered the prayer.
We don’t negate the possibility of healing. That’s why even after our services, we say, “Hey, if you need prayer, come forward,” because James says, if you’re sick, to have the elders anoint and pray over the sick person, and then God could heal them. Some of you love sick people, hurting people. You follow CaringBridge websites; you want to know who to be praying for. If there’s somebody in the church, you want to go visit them at the hospital. You want to pray over them, and you want to keep in touch, so you can be praying for them. And you’re a real gift.
There’s also the gift of miracles—1 Corinthians 12:9. You love to pray and see God show up in power to do extraordinary, amazing things that reveal his power and his might and his majesty. And you just like to see God show up and do crazy things. And when you pray, you pray in anticipation and expectation that he’s going to show up in such a way that the only way to explain what has happened is that God showed up. Okay, that’s the gift of miracles.
Discernment—1 Corinthians 12:10. You love truth and holiness. This is where you can discern teaching. You’ll be hearing somebody, like, “That doesn’t sound right; that’s off. That’s not what the Bible says; that’s off.” Some of you will be reading a book and, like, “Whoa, something in me doesn’t feel right,” right? You’ll say, “I don’t know, my gut tells me.” The Holy Spirit is your gut a lot of the time. Just like, “I don’t know, that doesn’t—” Some of you are more intuitive that way. “That person—I don’t trust them.” “Well, what did they say?” “I don’t—I’m just—I’m telling you, I don’t know what it is. I could be wrong, but something’s not right,” with a person or a teacher or a doctrine. That’s a gift of discernment.
Some of you can discern the presence of Satan and demons. You’re like, “You know, I think Satan’s at work here. “I think he’s got a little plan. I think demons have been commissioned. I think this is all going in a bad direction. I think we need to stop and pray and ask God for clarity and wisdom. I think we’re losing our ballast here a little bit.” That’s the gift of discernment.
See, the Bible says that people are sheep and that they’re supposed to have shepherds. The Bible also says that there are wolves who want to come in, and they love sheep, but not like the shepherds. They don’t love to help the sheep; they love to eat the sheep. More fame, more money, more power, more glory, more authority. It’s all about them; it’s not all about Jesus. When Paul is talking here about being “carried away by every wind of doctrine, by cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes,” he’s talking about the wolves.
Those with the gift of discernment will go, “Sheep, shepherd, wolf, hireling.” There are four. Sheep—they love Jesus, we’ve got to love them and protect them. Shepherd—they’ve got to help, love, and protect the sheep. Wolf—they’re here to cause real trouble. Hireling—for them it’s just a job. They don’t love the sheep; they just love the job. And as soon as it gets hard, they’re not going to fight for the well-being of the sheep; they’re going to let the wolves take this place over.
Those with the gift of discernment say, “Sheep, shepherd, wolf, hireling.” And oftentimes they’re right, and they’re right well in advance. And after a while, you say, “Oh wow, we didn’t see that. We didn’t know that that was in their heart. We didn’t know that’s where they were going or doing,” and then it all gets exposed. And those with the gift of discernment are like an early warning system for the church.
Those who have the gift of apostles—1 Corinthians 12:28, and it said it here in Ephesians 4:11. They love leading a movement. We’re not talking here about the eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, who were chosen by him to write the books of the New Testament. What we’re talking about is not those with the office of apostle, but the gift of apostle. These would be missionaries, church planters, cross-cultural missionaries, and that would include those who work across multiple churches, right?
This is one of my spiritual gifts. So we’ve got a church that has fourteen locations, which is one of the most distributed churches in America. And the fact that we’re across so many states—it’s really complicated. It’s very complicated. And with that there’s writing, and there’s teaching, and preaching, and technology, and media, and criticism, and honestly, that’s different than just a regular pastor. A regular pastor teaches and loves this flock; an apostle helps a lot of flocks and is helping develop leaders across multiple locations and churches.
So, pray for me, and pray for the team that works with me. I’m not Paul, that’s for sure, but writing—I have to do that—preaching—I have to do that—traveling—I have to do that—being hated—I get to enjoy that. We have some similarities. We have some similarities.
Okay, the next gift is teaching. This is Romans 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:28, and we saw it here as well in Ephesians 4:11. If you have the gift of teaching, you love to impart biblical truth. You love that. What makes you so excited is when you teach something, and they got it. Whether you’re a mom who’s homeschooling, or you’re a Community Group leader or Redemption Group leader, or lead pastor teaching a class, or doing a one-on-one mentoring or discipleship meeting, or investing in a new believer or a non-believer, you’re teaching, and they get it. And you see the light bulb go on, and that just absolutely excites you. You’re so fired up. That’s the gift of teaching.
Some of you are good to teach one on one, so you’d be more teaching-type counselors. Others of you—it’ll be groups; it’ll be Community Group leader, Redemption Group leader, maybe teach a class, teach a serving team. Some of you are going to be larger groups. That tends to be the role of some of our elders and our lead pastors, teaching classes and training days and training and developing leaders as well as others across the church. Gift of teaching. Gift of teaching.
The next one on the list—helps and service. And I put these together because I think they’re basically synonymous. Romans 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:28, and 1 Peter 4:11—helps and service. You love coming alongside people. You’re not the one who has this massive global vision; you’re the one who comes and says, “Where can I help?” They say, “What do you want to do?” “I want to help, so tell me what you need.” “Well, what are you good at?” “I’m good at helping, so tell me what you need.” These are people who they tend to like being in the support role, not the lead role. They don’t come with a huge agenda, “I feel called to do this.” They’re like, “You’re called to do something, and I’m called to help you.”
My wife, Grace, definitely has this gift. She will do anything happily. She loves Jesus, she loves the church, she loves our family, she loves people. She loves to help. She finds great joy in helping, great joy in helping. So even this morning, I got up really early, and I’m trying to be ninja quiet and not wake Grace up, right, because I don’t want to wake her up. And then I smell coffee brewing, and I know that she set her alarm. She wasn’t—I said, “Please sleep in.” She gets up, she cooks me breakfast, I go out, and I’m like, “What are you doing?” She’s like, “I’m your friend; I’m supposed to help you.” She said, “So I’m going to make sure you have breakfast and that you get prayed for before you go teach today.” So she likes to serve; she likes to help. It works out great—I love to be served, so it is like, wow, what a match! Okay, so if you have this gift, you don’t really care what you’re doing as long as you’re helping, right? You’re like, “I’m happy just helping in general.” And praise God for those people.
Administration, if you have the gift of administration—this is 1 Corinthians 12:28—you love stewarding resources, right? Not surprisingly, this would be Pastor Sutton Turner, our executive pastor. You love to make sure, “How are we doing with the money? How are we doing with the people? How are we doing with the real estate? How are we doing with the resources? Are we good stewards? Are we taking everything that Jesus has given us and getting the most out of it?”
Some of you have that gift of administration. Your life verse is in 1 Corinthians: “Do everything in a fitting and orderly way.” For you, you’re like label maker, files, charts and graphs. You like to organize things. And you can even tell, sometimes these people—their personal space is pretty tidy. You notice that? Like, it’s in order. If you walk into somebody’s house, and there’s like laundry on the chandelier, maybe not the gift of administration, okay? You’re a person who naturally—my daughter Ashley’s like this. She’s a natural organizer. She walks into chaos, and she knows how to bring order out of chaos. Do you have that gift?
Number eleven, there’s the gift of evangelism. If this is you, you love non-Christians. You love them, and you love talking to them about Jesus, and you love seeing them meet Jesus. You love that. Just so you know, not a lot of Christians really have and maximize this gift, but if you do, a lot of your ministry is going to be talking to people, praying for people, giving books and Bibles to people, inviting people to church, inviting people to Community Group, right? Just building all of those relationships and talking to people about Jesus, excited that they’re going to become a Christian. If that’s your gift, that’s who you are. I mean, some Christians are, frankly, annoyed by non-Christians. Those with the gift of evangelism tend to be annoyed by those Christians, okay, because they love non-Christians.
There’s also the gift of shepherding, or pastor, or counseling. It says it here in Ephesians 4:11. Sometimes you do become a pastor, there’s a pastoral office, but this is also a pastoral gift. What this means is that you love to help people, you love to care for people, you love to nurture people, you love to invest in people.
A lot of our shepherding happens in our Community Groups. So we have our big meetings, and then we have our little meetings, and that’s where what we talk about in our big meeting gets worked out in our little meeting. And it’s the Community Group hosts and leaders who tend to do a lot of the shepherding. “What did you hear? What did God tell you to do? What are you struggling with? How can we pray for you? You know, how can we come alongside of you? How can we help you do, as he says here, come to maturity, no longer be like a spiritual infant but spiritually mature?”
That’s what shepherds love to do. Do you know what shepherds love? Sheep. They love people. They love people. Some of you say, “Look, I don’t understand all the finances and the real estate and the marketing and the complexity of a large organization. Here’s what I know: I love people, and I like to help people grow in Jesus. I like that.” Do you have that gift? Become a Community Group leader now, because we need as many as we can get, amen? And thank your Community Group leader this week. Say, “Thank you.” These are volunteer people who are doing pastoral work, caring, and loving.
Then there’s also the gift of encouragement—Romans 12:8. If you have this gift, you love motivating people. You’re pretty happy, you just are. Okay, my daughter Alexie—she’s nine—she has this gift. She’s an encourager. She’s joyful, she’s happy, she’s emotionally present, she’s loving. I call her—I say, “You’re like sunshine in my life.” That’s what I tell her. “Daddy gets some dark days. Alexie is sunshine in my life.” And she was lamenting one day because all the other kids play sports. She’s like, “Daddy, they all win trophies and medals.” And she’s not playing sports. She said, “I don’t ever get a trophy.” So I went out. We had custom made this huge hot pink trophy. It’s like this big, and I gave it to her. It’s called the Sunshine Award, okay, because she has the gift of encouragement, and I wanted to encourage her.
Yesterday, I was having a hard day—she could tell. She walks over—she’s emotionally intuitive—“Papa Daddy, are you having a hard day?” “Yeah.” She sits on my lap, rubs my beard, says, “Then I’ll go to Gideon’s baseball practice with you, and I’ll hang out with you and be your friend, and that’ll make you feel better.” And it did. It really—that’s why I’m so happy right now, because I’m thinking about Alexie.
Okay, those of you with the gift of encouragement, you tend to have a lot of friends, right? Who doesn’t want to hang out with a person with the gift of encouragement? “Hey, I love you. That was great. I’m so proud of you. I’m praying for you. It’s going to get better. Boy, I’m seeing big change in your life. God has good things for you.” “Will you be my friend?” Alright, we just love having those people as our friends. They’re super helpful, and some of you don’t know that that’s such a huge gift. The number one category of prescription medication in the U.S. is antidepressants. We need more people with the gift of encouragement.
Number fourteen, there’s the gift of giving. That’s Romans 12:8. If this is you, you love meeting needs. You love to give. So, you’re even the person when people are talking, you’re like, “Oh, do you need that? I’ll get it. Do you need that? I’ll do that. I want to give. I want to meet that need. I want to help.”
Alright, recently we sent out a little letter explaining, “Hey, here’s where we’re at financially. We’re a little behind. We need to catch up.” There were certain people who not only sent a gift but sent a letter saying, “Thank you for letting us know that there was a need. We’re really glad to meet it.” Those are people with the gift of giving. When you give, if you have the gift of giving, you get excited to give, you’re looking for opportunities to give, you rejoice in giving.
I notice this with my kids. We’re a family that likes to give, and so we have our giving to the church, and then we have some additional giving above and beyond that that we’ll do to help some other pastors and church planters that we love. And then we have another line item in our budget where Grace and the kids get to look for opportunities just to give. So, a single mom needs something, and their kids are friends with my kids. My kids will come home and say, “Hey Dad, they need blank, and I need that money.” Okay, great, because we have an account for that. And I want to train my kids to be looking for opportunities to give, and then when they give, I want them to rejoice and enjoy the fact that they get to be the one that meets the need.
If you’re the person with the gift of giving, you’re a person who—you live your life open handed. You say, “You know what? Everything belongs to Jesus, and I’m really glad to be a steward and to give to needs.” Financial needs, emotional needs, physical needs, whatever the need might be, you like that. You like that.
Gift of leadership—Romans 12:8. You love mobilizing people for a cause. You love to be the point leader, and this isn’t just out of pride, alright? There’s a guy in the Bible named Diotrephes, and it says he always wanted to be first. Well, that’s not a good thing, right? It’s not that “I have to be the boss,” but you naturally gravitate toward leadership positions. People see you as the leader. They see you as the leader and you bear that responsibility.
Not everybody has this gift. I was going to share this with you. Alexie, this week—this’ll be fun. I mean, if we’re going to make it fun, we’ll involve Alexie. So, she had a project at school this week, What Would You Do If You Were President? Okay, now I could write that. “Oh, if I were—oh, I have a list of things. Yeah, that’s not hard.” Here’s what Alexie said: “I think being president of the United States would be quite annoying. The Secret Service is always with you everywhere you go. Not everyone agrees with you. I think it would be very hard to live with people not liking you. You also have to make huge decisions, like deciding laws. That would be really, really hard. I would not like the world to depend on me.”
Probably not the gift of leadership, okay? Those of you with the gift of leadership, if I handed you a sheet of paper, and I said, “What would you do if you were president?” You’re like, “Oh, I’ve got a lot of things.” Others of you are like, “No, no, no, no.” Okay, if you have the gift of leadership, let me just say that there are always needs for leaders in the church. Jesus says, “The harvest is plenty and the laborers are few,” so we’ve got to pray in more leaders. Leaders are always in short supply. If you’re a leader, welcome, God loves you, we have a wonderful plan for your life.
Gift of mercy—Romans 12:8. If you have the gift of mercy, you love hurting people. I don’t know if you know this, if some people are hurting—no, I said that wrong. I said that wrong, okay. If you’re a prophet, you love hurting people. “‘I will comfort the afflicted.’ No, I will afflict the comfortable. That’s what I will do.” So, let me say that a little more—if people are hurting because of the horrendous activity of others, then you love to come alongside and assist them in their hurting. Okay, I said it. There we go. Okay, so, if you have the gift of terrorism, you like to hurt people. So, you like hurting people. Man, it’s early. I went to public school, and I’m doing the best I can.
So, now, have you noticed that sometimes when people are hurting, a lot of people—they’re like, “Oh, you’re struggling, you’re crying, you’re emotional, oh…” Right, like, “I’ll pray for you.” A person with a gift of mercy—they’re like, “Oh, I’m here to help, to love, to serve, to pray. You’re emotional—I like that, okay? I’m here to support you.” That’s the gift of mercy. When someone is struggling, you walk to them; you don’t walk away from them.
This is where, quite frankly, like, our Redemption Group leaders—man, this is their slot. And I tell you, Redemption Groups, Jesus loves Redemption Groups, and it’s where those with the gift of mercy, the gift of encouragement, the gift of wisdom—they get to put their arms around people who are struggling and suffering, and to bring the love of Jesus to them.
Hospitality—Romans 12:13. You love welcoming in strangers and entertaining them. So, on Sundays, you love to be on the Welcome Team and the Hospitality Team. You love to host Community Group. “Hey, everybody, come to my house. I’ll feed you, sit on my couch, I’ll have it all set up.” You love to entertain people. You love to welcome people. You love to bring people together and see them meet each other. You’re like, “Oh, they’re going to be—that’s fun, and they’ll get married.” And you’ve got it all figured out, right?
My wife has the gift of hospitality; my daughter, Ashley, has the gift of hospitality. They love to cook, they love to plan, they love to entertain, they love to have people over. You know, so for me, it’s always been thinking about even our physical space of where we live. How can this be a home that allows their gifts to flourish, so that we can practice hospitality?
If that’s you, you could really help us on Sundays. You could help as well being a Community Group host. Some of you are like, “I don’t want to lead the Community Group.” You could be the host. The person with the gift of hospitality is the one who opens their home and welcomes everyone in, and then the leader leads the group.
Two more—gift of tongues—1 Corinthians 12:8–10, 1 Corinthians 12:29–30. You will see in the Bible—I don’t want to get totally down the rabbit trail. I’m already over time, and now I’m into tongues. Yeah, this won’t shorten it. There’s a private gift where you pray in the language of angels, Paul says, and that’s a private, personal time for you to connect with the Lord. And I don’t know where we’re at today, but years ago when I polled the elders, about one-third of the elders had that private prayer language.
Then there’s also a public ability to communicate the gospel of Jesus in a language that you don’t know. So, you speak one language; somebody else speaks another language. Jesus wants them to get saved, so he allows you to speak their language, because the word “tongue,” literally translated, means “language.” We’re going to get into this when we get into the book of Acts. We’re going to get into all of this in detail after Easter. But if you have this gift, it’s either private, and you love to pray and connect and be filled with the Holy Spirit and/or a public ability to proclaim the gospel of Jesus. And it’s a supernatural gift that God gives to some of his people.
Lastly, there is prophets and/or prophecy—Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:10, 1 Corinthians 12:28, and we just saw it in Ephesians 4:11. And that is, you love to either speak or write the truth of God’s Word. You’re not writing the Bible, but you’re taking what the Bible says and not just imparting the information but doing so in a very forceful way that elicits a response.
Okay, one of my gifts is that gift—writing and speaking the Word of God boldly. You’re like, “The Bible’s open, we talk about Jesus for an hour, and we move forward boldly,” and prophets like that. They like that. They like to know that the Word of God is open and that the truth of God is taught, and that there isn’t going to be any apologizing or compromising or editing what God has said. The truth matters, okay. The truth matters.
If that’s your gift, man, you’re super helpful. You could help with teaching, you could help with Redemption Groups, you could help with Community Groups. I mean, we need the Word of God boldly written and boldly proclaimed across the whole church, across the whole church.
HOW ARE YOU GIFTED?
Last series of questions, and I’ll ask them before we close in prayer. How am I gifted? How many of you in hearing this, you go, “That sounds like me,” and then you think of somebody you know, and you’re like, “That sounds like them.” So, this would be your Community Group discussion this week. Think, “You know, that kind of sounded like me, and I wonder what I should be doing,” and maybe you’re already doing it, and you could share what a joy that is. And for others, they may say, “I don’t know,” and you say, “Well, you know what? We know you, so let us look at you and tell you what we see and try to encourage you in that.”
Who or where do you have a passion to serve? What do you have a burden to do? Is there something you’re just burdened for? What needs do you see in the church? What do you find joy in doing for others? What opportunities has God already provided for you to serve others? What’s already working? What are you best at and have the most success in? What have godly people said, “I see that in you, and I want to encourage that”? And what acts of service have given you the deepest sense of satisfaction and joy? It might be an indication of how God has made you and the kind of ministry that he’s prepared you for.
Jesus absolutely loves us, and you are a gift to us. And you come with your gifts, and this is now a great season for us all to be asking, “What is the contribution that I am to make?” And it’s right on the threshold of Easter, which is our biggest Sunday of the year. We’re praying for more than twenty thousand people and hundreds of salvations and baptisms.
And so, in that vein, I’m going to ask the offering stewards to come forward at this time, and we’re going to give. We’re going to give our financial gift, right, to the God who’s given us himself, the Lord Jesus. He’s given us the Holy Spirit; he’s given us the church and one another. We’re going to now give to the God who has given to us, and as our financial stewards are collecting our offering, I want to share with you what’s coming up on Easter. Are you guys excited about Easter? Okay, I’ll share with you what’s coming up for Easter.
[Music] “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” “Take heart. Get up; Jesus is calling you.” “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” [Music]
Exciting! Be praying, be preparing. And right now, we’re going to take Communion. This is where we remember that Jesus is the giver, that he gives us his broken body, that he gives us his shed blood, that Jesus is the greatest gift that’s ever been given. As we partake, all Christians are welcome to partake of Communion, and we will do so as we sing, and we celebrate the God who gives.
So Lord Jesus, we thank you that in two thousand years from now, there will not be the nations of the earth, but there will be the church. And two thousand years from today, there will not be the businesses that we work in, but there will be the church. And two thousand years from today, there will not be the universities that we attend, but there will be the church. And Lord Jesus, I thank you that you have given us yourself, and you’ve invited us to, with our gifts, be part of the biggest thing in the history of the world. We’re grateful for it; we’re excited to be invited to it. We pray for our church, we pray for all churches that love you, and we pray for unity and momentum among the few billion people who call on the name of Jesus. And we call, Lord Jesus, right now, we call the Holy Spirit, and we invite him to be with us, and to be in us, and to be through us, and to help us not only know our gifts but use them for the name and the fame of Jesus, whom we pray to right now. Amen.
Note: This sermon transcript has been edited for readability.
Jesus is in heaven, serving the church and giving gifts. He gives us himself, the Holy Spirit, and other people. To each Christian he also gives spiritual gifts to be cultivated (1 Cor. 12; Rom. 12; Eph. 4; 1 Pet. 4). Some have multiple gifts and different levels of a gift. God gives gifts to equip the saints and build up the body of Christ. Your gift is not your identity, but how are you gifted?