Spiritual Gift or Talent?

gifts1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Last week we talked about using our Spiritual gifts. Today, we are still talking about our Spiritual gifts and the difference between our gifts and our talents. Talents are available to everyone. Christians and unbelievers. Every person is created with certain abilities that can be of benefit to other people. However, it is believers in Jesus who are said to have spiritual gifts that benefit other believers and help in outreach to unbelievers.

Talents are essential to the church. How much would our services lack without music? How plain would our worship spaces be without those with a talent for decorating? Our church meals wouldn’t be enjoyable without our members who have a talent for cooking or the ability to get out of the house early enough to stop by somewhere and pick something up to bring. And Lord bless those that use their talent to watch over the finances of the church. We’d be lost without them.

But Spiritual gifts are different. They may come through when we use a talent and they may go hand-in-hand with a talent, but where a talent may touch someone while you are using it, when you put your Spiritual gift to work it can touch someone for a lifetime.

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Throwing Away God’s Gifts

Thrown giftGod has given us each a gift, but if the gifts aren’t used in the service of God and His church, they are useless. And it’s not just that those that don’t use their gift waste something God has given them, they also affect the strength, health, and vitality of the body. Think about that for a second, using Paul’s analogy of the parts of your physical body. If a part of your body is sick, diseased, or infected, what does that do to the rest of your body? If a skier or mountain climber gets frostbite, doctors will amputate the frost-bitten part because if they don’t, the gangrene will spread and take over the whole body. The body will eventually die. The body of Christ, the church, is like that. If members are not working together with the gifts given by God, the church will die.

The difference between the Corinthian churches and many of our churches today is that the Corinthian believers were all claiming their gifts loudly and proudly. Like kids on a playground, they were arguing over whose was the best. In many of our churches today, no one wants to claim a gift, much less use it.

God blessed the Corinthians believers with an abundance of gifts to reach the pagans in Corinth. But, because of their misunderstanding, misuse, and abuse of their gifts, the church never came close to launching the ministry God intended.

God has blessed believers today with an abundance of gifts so that we can reach the lost around us. But because we don’t care enough about God to find out our gifts and how to use them, many churches are dying.

There’s so much talk these days about the decline of Christianity and the Church. And it’s true talk. However, many of the reasons given for the statistics are either wrong or don’t go deep enough. In our communion liturgy, we, say “we have failed to be an obedient church,” but that doesn’t go deep enough. We have failed to be an obedient church because we have failed to be obedient people!

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

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You Had One Job!

one jobA couple of weeks ago, I mentioned Luke’s reason for writing his letter. He wrote in Luke 1:3 that he wanted people to have an orderly account of Jesus’ life. The fact that Luke wanted an “orderly” account may explain why he is the only writer to include the story that we are looking at today. However, there is also the thought that Luke was writing primarily to the Greeks and wanted them to have details about Jesus’ life that would personalize him and make him real. There’s a possibility that Luke included this to emphasize that Joseph and Mary raised Jesus following all of the requirements of the Law. It could be any of these reasons, none of these reasons, or a combination of them and others. We don’t really know.
What we do know is that Mary and Joseph lost Jesus.
Have you seen the pictures captioned “you had one job?” The picture might show a pack of hamburger buns in a wrapper that says “hotdog buns.” Across the top of the image, it’ll say, “you had one job.” If memes had existed when Jesus was twelve, I am sure that there would have been one of Mary looking for Jesus captioned, “you had one job!”

Luke 2:41-52

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Lessons and Carols 2021


Lessons and Carols 2021 I love this service. In the hustle and bustle of the season it’s good to take a bit and remember the reason that we celebrate. It’s all about Jesus! We can get so sad about the people that are missing from our lives and things we are currently facing that it can be hard to focus on what we have in the here and now. Right now because of Jesus, we know that any separations are temporary and someday, the holes in our hearts will heal and we’ll be worshipping God with those we have lost.

If you are hurting, if you are worrying, if the weight of the world is on your shoulders, know that Jesus understands. Take these 36 minutes and lay your burdens down at Jesus’ feet. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to scream, scream. Give your hurts and worry to Jesus and let him comfort you.

That’s Not How This Works

3rd week of advent

Luke 3:7-18

Are y’all ready for Christmas? We spend a whole lot of time preparing for Christmas, don’t we? We take our time trying to decide on the best gift for everyone on our list. Putting up decorations,  picking out recipes, shopping, wrapping, cooking…the list goes on and on.

How much time, though, do we spend on Advent? How much time do we spend on preparing for Jesus’ coming? Advent should be a season of prayer, fasting, and repentance, but most of us, me included, we spend more time on Christmas than we do Advent.

John the Baptist came out of the wilderness preaching the things people needed to hear to prepare their lives for Christ, and he didn’t mince words when he did.Gods Approval

John preached truth. He told the multitudes that came to be baptized what they were. They were vipers. Poisonous snakes who were infecting others with their venom. They were sick, and they were doomed, and they were dooming others. And here they were, wanting to be baptized.

John asked them who warned them to flee from the coming wrath. Apparently, they had come to hear John preach and be baptized, but John calls them a bunch of snakes. Why?

See, the thing is, they didn’t come because they had changed or even wanted to change. They came to be baptized because they were hedging their bets. They wanted to be baptized just in case the stuff they were hearing about the Messiah was true. They were willing to listen to John where they could be baptized, but they had no thought that they would have to change their lives.

John preached repentance. He went so far as to say that without repentance, their fruit was worthless. Our fruit must be consistent with our repentance. Matthew 7:16 tells us that we will be known by our fruit.

The thing is, you can fake fruit. I can’t tell the difference between the fruits of someone that has repented from someone who hasn’t. Can you?

Guess who can. I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

God can tell the difference.

We can do for others, take care of others, do works of charity, love others, and if we haven’t repented, no one can tell. We fit into the social group with the nice people. Repentance? We don’t need no stinking repentance!

John said no, that’s not the way this works. You must repent. You must turn from your sin before your good works can produce fruit that God accepts.

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Prepare the Way

straight 2065314 640Luke 3:1-6
Would John the Baptist be the person that you would chose to be the forerunner of Christ? When I get a mental image of John, he looks far more like a Neanderthal Man than Billy Graham! But the fact that God chose John gives me hope. God chooses specific people, at specific times, in specific places to do what He needs done. What has He chosen you to do? If, as a friend of mine said one time, you haven’t gotten your memo yet, you can still be preparing the way for Christ’s return.
Luke 3:6 says, “And all people will see God’s salvation.”
All people will see God’s salvation, but not all will recognize it. John’s message then was the same as mine today. Repent, Prepare, and Look.

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Yesterday and Today and Tomorrow

hebrews 13.8Hebrews 13:8-16

We live in a world of strange teachings. If we aren’t there yet, we are approaching the time Paul warned about in 2 Timothy 4 when people will not listen to sound doctrine but, instead, will follow their own desires and only listen to teachers that will tell them what they want to hear.

Probably the most blatant example of this is the prosperity gospel. But that is by no means the only heresy being taught these days.

There’s antinomianism that goes hand in hand with a theology of hyper-grace. Antinomianism teaches that there is no more sin. Since Jesus set us free, we can do anything we want. Combine that with teaching that God’s grace is such not only do the moral laws of the Old Testament no longer apply, we can even disregard what Jesus taught because God will grant grace to everyone. They change John 3:16 from “For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him will be saved,” to “For God so loved the world that everyone goes to heaven. Y’all, I know Christian teachers and preachers who preach a universalism that says everybody get in because God’s grace is so great.

Along with all of that you’ve got those that a teaching that the bible isn’t reliable. It’s just a collection of myths and stories. Going along with all that, you get to those that teach hell isn’t real. Why would God need a hell if no one is ever going to go there?

Just as wrong as those teachers are the ones that say that this sin or that sin takes you outside of the reach of God’s love. Those that try to scare people into salvation. Those that wrap Christianity up in something that has nothing to do with Jesus to make it attractive.

Y’all, no lie, I was watching a documentary recently about evangelicals. Did y’all know that there is a Christian Wrestling Association? Their vision statement is to be a Christian outreach ministry that shares the love of Jesus Christ, through wrestling events around the world. Wrestlers such as Brother Greatness, Omega, and Jesus Freak duke it out around the world or at their venue just this side of Dallas called the Lordatorium and win, according to the guy they were interviewing, between 10 to 20 souls to Jesus each week. My Grandmother was addicted to wrestling and I can tell you it did NOT put that woman in a Jesus state of mind!

Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever. He said that He didn’t come to replace the law. He said that He is the only way to the Father, and He said more about Hell than He did Heaven. Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.

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Make an Effort

Mother Teresa Quote

The writer of Hebrews tells us that we should make every effort to be holy. The Greek word means that an object or person is dedicated to the service of and loyalty to God. The root meaning of holiness is to be different. We, as believers, are to be different from unbelievers.

We live in the world, but we are not of the world. We aren’t to indulge our wants when what we want is contrary to what God wants. The text tells us that we will not see the Lord unless we are holy. That’s a scary thought y’all! Especially considering that we can’t be holy if we don’t make an effort to live in peace with everyone.

Believers are to set themselves apart. Not in a “better than you” way, but in a “concerned with myself” way. The person who sets themselves apart doesn’t call attention to what they do for human accolades; they do what they do for God.

Where is the middle ground between seeing to it that no one falls short of God’s grace without causing bitterness?

First, by remembering that we ourselves are under the grace of God. We have no worthiness on our own. We are no better than those that we are accusing of unrighteousness.

Then, we need to consider the faith of the person.

It does absolutely no good to confront a nonbeliever about a sin. Those who have not accepted Christ have not entered into a covenant with God. Getting in their face about their “sin” is counterproductive to conversations about their salvation.

Even with professing Christians, the good that might possibly come from confronting a believer about their sin is typically outweighed by the damage it does to peace depending on our manner when confronting them.

The keyword of those statements is “confront.” When Jesus was questioned by the Jewish authorities, He did not get confrontational about their wrongness. He allowed them to be wrong because losing His own peace wouldn’t make them see the truth.

God makes His grace available to everyone through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. How dare we make someone feel less than worthy of that grace than we are when we ourselves are not worthy of that grace.

Hebrews 12:14-17

Hebrews 12:28-29

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Look at verse 2 with me, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at heb 12.1 3the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

If we want to keep going on this race of faith without growing weary and without losing heart

–          the key is for us to fix our eyes on Jesus.

As we look at Jesus’ life of faith – as we look at all He did to secure us – to save us – that strengthens us to endure.

The more we reflect on His beauty and grace – the less appeal other things will have.

Hebrews 12:1-3

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Faith Through Suffering

sufferingI read an article this week where the author questioned the intelligence of people who believe in God. He questioned those who believe God created the world because they can’t say who created God. He questioned the belief in an all-powerful, all-loving God when there are diseases and cataclysmic events like earthquakes and tsunamis. He questioned the morality of a God that commanded the genocides of the Old Testament. He questioned the belief in a God who answers prayers because millions die from horrible diseases.

The author wants god to be a supernatural being, a fairy godmother, or a genie in a bottle. A being that gives us perfect lives. He doesn’t want to have to have faith. He says that if someone wants to have illogical beliefs, that’s a good thing but ends his article with the statement, “more and more of us are doing just fine without it.”

He and I have huge fundamental differences in our thinking. I don’t think that those without faith are doing just fine. Honestly, I feel very sorry for people who do not want to consider that there is something bigger than they are, for those who do not want to recognize that life itself is about more than them.

But, he’s not alone in wanting a fairy godmother. Many professing Christians want the same thing. But like so many things with God, He turns the way we think upside down. As believers, the world isn’t here for us, we are here for the world, and when God allows us to suffer, to go through things that are inconceivable to us, He is giving us the opportunity to be a gift from God to the world. Does that make those times easier for us? No. But it does give purpose to them.

Hebrews 11:30-38

Bible Study on Hebrews 11

Faith Through Suffering Audio