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A Thousand Unseen Gifts

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
January 18, 2023 12:00 am

A Thousand Unseen Gifts

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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January 18, 2023 12:00 am

Behind every great event are countless individuals that have worked, often without accolades, to make it happen. The Church is no different, filled with God-empowered Christians serving each other’s needs in support of a single grand purpose: to glorify God!

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Be careful. You are not an improviser. You're a messenger. What Peter is cautioning the speaker here to remember is to be conscious that you're not creating the content.

You're not making it up. You're not sharing an opinion when you speak for God. You'd better be truly delivering the utterances of God. Let me give you a fact for every one of you who are gifted in speaking as you speak God's Word.

Here it is. You are absolutely unoriginal. If you're involved in teaching God's Word, the content of your message is not yours. No teacher is allowed to change, modify, or adapt the truth of God's Word as they teach it to others. If you have a teaching role or the gift of teaching, you use that gift to proclaim God's truth. But as you know, teaching isn't the only gift. There are many gifts required to make the church function, and all of them are significant. Today, as we think about the gifts God gives us, we'll see that all of them support a single grand purpose to glorify God.

Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen called this lesson, A Thousand Unseen Gifts. After Apollo 11's incredible feat of placing three men on the moon in July of 1969, astronaut Michael Collins said all this was possible only through the blood, sweat, and tears of thousands of people. All you see and hear about are the three of us, but behind the scenes are thousands of others. In fact, author Catherine Thimesh wrote that thousands of people indeed served to make it all happen, people that you'd never think about, like spacesuit seamstresses, radio telescope operators, cafeteria workers, parachute designers, but everyone's abilities made it possible to get men to the moon back home again and let the rest of the world watch it happen. In fact, she goes on to recount in detail, I've added just a couple of things down, but she said at Kennedy Space Center during that historic event there were 17,000 engineers, mechanics, soldiers, contractors. There were the two Bobs, two men named Bob who spent their time monitoring the fuel level in that lunar module. The team also included a 24-year-old computer whiz kid named Jack who helped solve computer glitches during the landing and there were problems. In fact, I had a gentleman come up to me after the first service and tell me that his father was a doctor his entire career to astronauts working for NASA who knew Jack and he said that as it was landing on the moon, the computer began to do the wrong things and this 24-year-old kid figured out how to override the computer and safely land the module.

The computer code was developed by a team at MIT. There were at least 500 different people working on the astronaut's space suit. In fact, one seamstress commented, we didn't, after the fact, we didn't worry too much about those space suits working until the astronauts on the moon started jumping up and down and it made all of us twitch nervously. When Neil Armstrong stepped out of that lunar module onto the surface of the moon, that's what we know best, and said one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind, what no one knew, and certainly I didn't until reading this, was the fact that before that one small step could take place, 400,000 people had been involved behind the scenes. Thousands of unseen gifts, talents, sacrifices made it possible for mankind to take that giant leap forward. Thus far in our study, Peter has challenged us as the end draws near to remain calm, stay focused, that's verse 7, to keep praying and continue loving one another, that's verse 8, to be available and open to others, that's verse 9. And then if you were with us last Lord's Day, we began to study the idea as Peter introduces us to the subject of spiritual gifts, verse 10 again, as each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, he's thinking within the local church context, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. And so what Peter does next and for our study today, he gives us two illustrations in the form of broad categories and that's in verse 11. Whoever speaks is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God.

Whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies. So Peter gives us two very broad categories of these special gifts. He doesn't provide us any breakdown, in fact I don't think any list in the New Testament is comprehensive, they use different words seemingly for the same kinds of things. Paul gives a lot more detail. But Peter just kind of whittles it all down to speaking gifts and serving gifts.

Now before we dive into the weeds here, keep in mind gifts don't let any of us off the hook. In other words, God expects all believers to participate in exercising, in fact most of the gifts that are mentioned in the New Testament. What I mean by that is that most of the gifts specifically mentioned in the New Testament, you could also go to the New Testament and prove that they are responsibilities of every believer. For instance, Paul lists evangelism as a gift or a gifted individual but the New Testament tells every believer to be prepared to give an answer for the hope they have within them. In fact Peter taught us that in chapter 3 verse 15. We can't say, well I'm not gifted or comfortable with being a witness for Christ.

Well then you're disobedient whether you're comfortable or not. Further, Paul lists giving and discerning as gifts but then again he commands everybody to test everything according to the scripture to discern what is truly good. First Thessalonians chapter 5 and verse 21. And he also tells every believer to give financial contribution to the Lord's work.

Second Corinthians 8 verse 7. In other words, none of us can dodge the responsibilities of a church family by claiming they don't have the gift. And on a very practical level that nobody's given a free pass from the mundane task like working in the nursery or setting up chairs because hey, that's just not my gift. So if these gifts are, it can be shown in the New Testament to be responsibilities as well for believers. How are we to understand Peter's comment here that we individually have received from God some kind of special gift, a speaking gift or a serving gift.

Well let me define it this way. A spiritual gift is a heightened capacity endowed by God's Spirit for something other believers can do to a lesser degree. Let me illustrate it with a gift we're all aware of because it's more public and that is the gift of teaching. We're all told that a mark of maturity for every believer is that we all become teachers. In fact in Hebrews chapter 5 verse 12, the writer asks this rather blunt rhetorical question when he says, aren't all of you by now teaching?

It's a mark of maturity. Every believer is a teacher. Now the writer of Hebrews isn't thinking of formal settings or opportunities. He's thinking of every believer taking those teaching opportunities to communicate. It might be to a child, truth about God and His Word. It might be to a neighbor who asks you a question. It might be in a small group setting. It might be in discipling, one-on-one, anybody. It might be that co-worker who swivels around in that chair tomorrow and asks you a question about God or the Bible or whatever and you find yourself giving them a biblical answer.

Guess what? You just became a Bible teacher and every believer in the mind of God is to teach, communicate biblical truth but a heightened capacity. What I'm defining here as Peter's designation of a special gift would be where that ability is taken by the Holy Spirit in His endowing work. He takes what is to be a normal responsibility for every believer and He excels it.

He expands it. He heightens it in the lives of fewer believers. In fact, the gift of teaching in a local church, here's how it works. It creates room for a regular role of teaching which is reserved for fewer believers in the local church.

They become identified as gifted teachers and their commitment to teaching finds a way to express itself regularly, fruitfully for Christ. It might be then a Sunday school teacher or a small group leader or a Bible study teacher for men or for women or young people. It might be a pastor teacher. It might be a missionary, church planter. It might be a small group leader. It might be a counselor.

It might be a disciple or a one-on-one. In other words, the gifted teacher is devoted to exercising and developing and honing and studying so that they can exercise that gift and it becomes a regular process simply because if you've got that gift, you've just got to do that. You desire to exercise it. You think about ways to put it into practice. You volunteer to do it.

You're not happy unless you can find ways to do it. One author defines spiritual gifts this way, a gift is a capacity and desire for ministry given by God for regular use to bear fruit in the church. Now with that is backdrop, okay? That's the introduction.

It's going to be a long morning so buckle up. In Peter's mind, every one of us is going to have a heightened capacity and we will find ourselves fitting underneath one of these two categories, speaking gifts or serving gifts. So in case you check out and you think, well, you know, God didn't put you in the parade.

No, there's no such thing as a Christian who cannot contribute to the body of Christ. You might not be that astronaut, you know, jumping up and down on television. More than likely, you're the seamstress who made a suit or the engineer or the guy working in the cafeteria so they could eat or maybe you're the guy or the gal who put the decals on the module just so or painted it or designed it or maybe you invented the packaging of foods they would eat or maybe you're the one that invented that drink.

Remember that drink, Tang? Disgusting. It should have been left on the moon. Somebody invented that though. Help keep them alive.

You might not be one of the three astronauts watched by the world but you might be one of the 400,000 that made it possible for those three to walk on the moon. Let's take a closer look at Peter's categories of spiritual gifts. Verse 11, whoever speaks is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God.

Verse 11 opens. The word Peter uses for speak is not the word for teach. It can be a part of that but this is a rather general term for the use of speech and in Peter's mind he's using it for the communication of truth so you're exhorting biblically or teaching, speaking, evangelizing, counseling, whatever it might be.

In fact there are some Greek scholars I encountered in my study who believe it can even refer to singing. That is a speech, the speechifying so to speak of truth. Certainly words of encouragement or counseling but this speaking here now isn't just talking about talking. It isn't referring to talking about the weather or politics or sports. You are delivering the utterances of God. In other words, the message you are speaking is not yours.

It's his. So if you're in that position or that class or that conversation or whatever it might be, that event or setting, you're speaking or sharing something from God's word, this phrase doesn't mean, beloved, that whatever comes out of your mouth is the word of God. It doesn't mean that everything you say is true either. Just because it came from behind a pulpit or a lectern and I've heard preachers as I was growing up saying, hey, it came from here so it's right. What Peter is cautioning the speaker here to remember is to be conscious that you're not creating the content.

You're not making it up. You're not sharing an opinion when you speak for God. You'd better be truly delivering the utterances of God. Let me give you a fact for every one of you who are gifted in speaking as you speak God's word.

Here it is. You are absolutely unoriginal. Be careful. Be careful.

You are not an improviser. You're a messenger. We read this warning and understand.

In fact, if you expand for a moment, I will. Just the idea of these giftings, there is a potential dark side to every good gift. It's possible for a skillful speaker to use his or her gift to gather a following and that's really all it's about. It's possible for someone with a gift of teaching to lead people astray with their own opinion, that they cloak as if it were the words of God. It's possible for someone with a gift of mercy to stroke their own ego, that they're the only one who cares. Or someone with a gift of giving to do it for recognition and applause. Or someone with the gift of administration to think they're indispensable to the organization. Or someone with the gift of evangelism to just get decisions rather than make disciples. Every special gift has the potential for our sinful hearts to distort it and make it all about us and not him. And Peter here especially cautions in that regard the speaker because they get attention naturally.

They're focused upon, which means the danger is even greater for you. So when you deliver the truth, he cautions you and me. You didn't come up with the message. You didn't originate the content.

You are just a messenger boy. Don't forget that. When you speak, men and women, in the varieties of ways that God gives you in the local church, make sure that God wouldn't mind signing his name to what you've said because it is indeed true to his name. Let's move to the serving gifts. Notice next, whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies. The word Peter uses here is translated in the noun form to give us the term for deacon. Peter isn't referring here to just one office but to a plethora of serving ministries.

Diakonos is the typical word. In fact, in Peter's day for the household servant who in the first century were given the responsibilities to serve or administrate a household. That, by the way, would include every menial task in the household behind the scenes. So you bring that into the setting of the church and you can catch the principled implications. You do not have to be seen in order to be significant. You don't have to be visible in the body to be vital to the ministry of the body. Yes, speaking gifts proclaim Christ but guess what? Serving gifts portray Christ. Speaking gifts explain truth. Service gifts apply truth. So keep in mind that speaking gifts, if I could use this analogy, are the mouthpiece and serving gifts are the muscles.

And since the body has more muscles than mouths, that would be weird if it weren't true, right? Not surprisingly, predominantly in the ministry of the church, it seems the Spirit gives more muscle than mouth. In fact, if you trace that word for service, it shows up in a number of ways. The serving of deacons, obviously illustrated in Acts, perhaps originating in chapter 6, vital to the ministry of the church. In fact, cards were handed out, I believe, by the ushers for deacon nomination cards, hoping and praying along with the deacons as I met in their meeting with them recently along with Dr. Bergraff who leads them. They need 15 more. Maybe you've come here from another church and you served as a deacon.

It's time. God perhaps has gifted you in that way to serve here and join these godly men. The word is also used for anyone, not just deacons and helping other Christians, Hebrews 6. It's used for giving of relief funds, actually giving money, Acts chapter 11. It's used for doing menial tasks, Philemon verse 13. It's used for sharing the gospel, actually considered a service, 2 Corinthians 8. It's used for waiting on tables, literally supervising meals, Luke chapter 10 and verse 24 and on and on.

Part of our problem, beloved, I think in the church is that we view gifts as if some were more important than others. We have in our minds, because of the culture in which we live, that there's a ladder and you climb it and out there you do and you get promoted and you get the next rung up. So you come into the church and then people look for the ladder. Where do I find it? How do I start out on the first rung? Maybe that's out there parking cars.

It's raining today. Tough job. If you do a good job out there and there are no accidents, we'll move you inside to usher.

High control, comfortable. If you don't drop the offering plates, offerings go up 2%. If that would be a danger, we would wonder what you're doing to people you're passing that plate to. At any rate, you know, maybe we then promote you to a Sunday school class teacher, then maybe to deacon, then maybe to elder and where's the ladder? That's errant thinking. There's no ladder to climb. There are no, let me put it this way, there are no promotions in the church, only placements by means of the Spirit of God who master plans the church.

He endows us to speak or serve or both in a way that enables the church to take one step forward. I came across this news article recently of a renowned German orchestra now rife with division. I don't know if it's over now but I read the article. Evidently the violinists were suing for a pay raise claiming they play more notes per concert than their colleagues. So the 16 violinists declared how much more important this made them to the orchestra, so much more important than they said their less busy colleagues who play the flute and the oboe. And they sued.

I don't know if it worked out or not but you can't imagine the damage, right? What a messed up orchestra now. Hey, what a messed up church. The church is like an orchestra in that we all play a part, some loud, some long, some soft, some short. We play a part.

I don't know about you but I have never heard a cymbal solo. And yet when the time comes, that guy over there is ready and it's crashed, it's like wow, it wouldn't have been the same without that. In an orchestra and in the church everyone plays a role and listen, there is no room for people who keep track of how many notes they play. Notice again, whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies. Peter is encouraging the service gifted people. Remember, you draw on the strength of Christ.

Why? Well, because serving can be exhausting, right? In fact, if you change your focus to serving for Him and serving others, they may not be grateful.

By the way, make sure you thank all the people around here that you can for something they did for you. So draw upon, if you speak, draw upon God for the message. If you serve, draw upon God for the power. And I love this word here translated supplies. Notice the strength which God supplies. The first century this word chorege was used for someone who paid the expenses of a choir or the actors and the production in the drama.

From chorege we fiddle with it and we get our transliterated word choreography. I couldn't help but think what a wonderful implication. God is doing all of the choreography. He's doing all of the arranging for everyone involved in the drama. And He even supplies the strength as you play out your divinely choreographed role. So are you willing? Are you willing to lend your muscle? Are you willing to lend your mouth?

Perhaps both. Are you willing to pray? Share a moment. Observe what's needed. Ask what has God made me good at? What do I seem to notice when I arrive? Where is there a need?

Where's the spot? Peter tells you why. If you ever wonder, here's why. So that we can bring to one another needed ministry and we can bring by our lives to Christ greater glory. So we live through the mundane. We slug through the tiresome and the repetitive and the difficult and the sacrificial and in serving and speaking in order to use what God has endowed within you to use for His glory and the benefit of everyone else in the body. And when we do that, His reputation and the gospel of Christ and the local church, guess what happens?

It takes one giant leap forward. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. He called this lesson A Thousand Unseen Gifts. One of Stephen's passions is training and equipping men and women for service to God. That's why he founded and serves as the president of Shepherds Theological Seminary. Graduates of Shepherds Seminary are serving God in their churches and communities all over the world. Many men have earned their degrees from the school and have gone out to plant churches. If you or someone you know is interested in graduate level theological training, I encourage you to consider STS. The main campus is here in this area of North Carolina, not far from the offices of Wisdom International.

There's also a campus in Wyoming, Texas, and Florida. Perhaps even more convenient, you can take classes online. Even if God has not called you to serve Him in full-time Christian ministry, the classes Shepherds Seminary offers will help you. Go to our website, wisdomonline.org. You'll find a link to Shepherds Seminary at the bottom of the page. Do that today, then join us next time for more Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-22 09:27:50 / 2023-01-22 09:37:01 / 9

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