David delivers the stunning truth that in the womb you are a living being under the hand of a designer, God, thousands of years before sonograms would prove it by showing us the beating of a baby's heart at nine weeks.
Thousands of years before we would see a 3D image of an unborn baby sucking his thumb or responding to sound. David says, You, O God, were busy crafting us from the very moment sperm met egg and that cell first divided. God's sovereign creation of your life includes giving you gifts and abilities. We like to think that our abilities are something that we should get the credit for, but the truth is your gifts and abilities are from God. But did you know that the gifts God gives you don't actually belong to you? The gifts God gives you actually belong to God. And one of the ways that you can honor him is by using those gifts for his glory.
Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen has a lesson for you entitled Giving Away Your Gifts. Stuart Briscoe, who's been with us in the past, tells the humorous story of an astronaut bound for the moon who was interviewed by a reporter who wanted to know all the details, certainly the hazards of the trip and the potential disasters that could occur. And so he was interviewing him and and he asked the astronaut, how do you eventually leave the moon once your mission is over? How does the module take off to return to Earth? The astronaut answered. Well, in very simplistic terms, we fire off several rockets that power the engine of our little module and we lift off. The reporter asked, Well, what are the engine will fire up?
And it doesn't work. The astronaut said, Well, we're stuck on the moon. The reporter pressed, Well, how long will your life support systems last? And the astronaut answered, six hours. The reporter said, You mind if I ask you what you would do for the last six hours of your life?
The astronaut laughed and said, That's easy. I'll work on the engine. It's great advice. What would you do if you had only six hours left? What would you do with your life?
Would it be interesting to be able to live such a life that we wouldn't really change much about our lives? The apostle Peter has been reminding the Church of the imminent return of Christ. In our last session, we pointed out, if you'll go back to First Peter Chapter four, five pieces of advice that Peter provided the believer as he announces the end is near, which means today it is nearer.
Right. He says, Remain calm, stay focused, keep praying. Here's how he puts it. Look at First Peter four seven. The end of all things is near. Therefore be of sound judgment. That is, remain calm and sober spirit. That is, stay focused for the purpose of prayer.
Keep praying. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins. In other words, don't abandon each other. Demonstrate forgiving love toward each other.
While you're at it, stay open and available. Verse nine, be hospitable to one another without complaint. So while the rest of the world would advise you to prep for the end of your life or the end of the world as we might know it, and think less about people around us and more about our own life and more about our own needs. Peter is telling us instead, this happens to be the perfect time to become more visible and more involved and more invested in the lives of people than ever, especially as he writes to one another.
That is, to those in the life of the church. Notice the next verse for this Lord's Day study, as each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. In other words, as the end draws near, keep working on the engine. In other words, exercise your abilities, stay the course, use the talents God has given you. To stick with the analogy, now is the time to join the other astronauts if there ever is a time to stay at it, to provide your God-given role as the end draws near.
Let me just sort of unpack Peter's inspired advice here in verse 10. Let me put it into five principled statements. Number one, none of us have been left out of the picture. Notice how the text opens, as each one has received a gift.
In fact, in the original language, each one stands at the beginning for the sake of emphasis. We would say it this way, each and every one of us are involved. Each and every one has been included. No one is left out. There is absolutely no Christian who cannot contribute to the body of Christ. Or to put it another way, every one of us are needed to contribute what we can to the body of Christ. No matter what role you play, whether it's up front or out back, whether it's on stage or backstage, whether it's visible or as it is for most in the body, invisible, seen by a few perhaps, God has gifted you for your service to one another, that is specifically the church. So if I could put it another way, there's no such thing as a useless member of the body of Christ.
If the church were taking a family portrait, no believer in the mind of Christ would be left out of the picture. Secondly, none of us decided what we'd be good at. Now this is a little different and I think very important to understand.
None of us decided what we'd be good at. Notice the wording in the text. As each one has received a special gift, Peter uses the Aorist tense here to give the sense of an historical bestowal of the gift upon the believer. You have had, by God's grace, bestowed upon you some gift or gifts. It could have been a part of God's wiring.
We're not exactly told when this bestowal takes place. It could have been the way he put you together in the womb with your temperament and how he crafted you with your own creative abilities and talents. He would now use them to advance his church through your skill set. It could have been bestowed upon you at the moment of your conversion when the Spirit of God, certainly at that point, brought it, as it were, to the forefront or perhaps something you would discover over time in your Christian experience as a new creature in Christ. Perhaps at that moment of conversion, God deposited into your heart and mind certain abilities that really had nothing to do with your temperament or what you thought you could do. And I think we have a problem in the church with assuming that with what somebody does maybe out there with their life career, well, that's what they're going to do in here. And I've seen it come true. Some business owner, CEO, who comes into the church and you might think, well, they're going to be involved in administration and say, no, I really want to park cars. I have enough of that stuff Monday through Saturday.
Let me do something else. The truth is we're not specifically told when the bestowal takes place. And as I've studied this subject more and more over the years, there's a gray area here that intrigues me where in my younger years it was more black and white. We're never given in Scripture a clear distinction even between a natural ability and a spiritual gift. God uses everything.
We know some are temporary. We're told by Paul to the Corinthians that those revelatory sign gifts like tongues and the word of knowledge put aside as the Scriptures are completed. Now we go to the Scriptures. You don't come here to hear from me something new from God.
You test me according to what God has said. But that combination of wiring and temperament and skill, those natural abilities and spiritual gifts are all seen as a bestowal of God's grace. In fact, and I just did a little ransacking of the Old Testament.
You can do it too. Just take the word skill and go through the Old Testament. There's a distinct relationship between skill and God's ordination. A man by the name of Hiram was filled, 1 Kings 7-13 tells us, with wisdom and understanding and skill for doing any work in bronze. Hey, Hiram, you're an amazing worker in bronze. Yeah, God gave me that ability. Now obviously he had to work on it and hone it and get his tools and learn.
He had some really, really, really bad stuff come out in those early days and the bronze began to develop in its intricacies. Exodus 35, God has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer. A chapter later, Moses writes, Every skillful person in whom the Lord has put skill. Isn't that interesting?
Don't miss that. Every skillful person in whom the Lord has put that skill and understanding to know how to perform all of the work in the construction of the sanctuary. Exodus 36, 1. Fascinating revelation.
From the engraver to the metal worker to the landscaper to the construction crew. All of them viewed as having received from God those latent skills and abilities which can then be used for the glory of Christ and the advancement of the gospel in many, many, many unique ways as we'll see in a moment. Paul puts it in the New Testament to the believer in the same broad terminology when he asks rather matter-of-factly, What do we have that we've not received? He just sort of boils it all down.
What is there of anything that you have that God didn't give you? And by the way, in that text, he's dealing with pride. He's dealing with the believer. He gets all caught up with what they do. And he comes along and he says, Let me just remind you, what in the world do you have that God has not given you to use? He sort of challenges us.
And the answer to that rhetorical question is obvious. Nothing. We owe everything. Everything, including our skills and creative abilities and spiritual propensities to the sovereignty of God's design. That's how much he's invested in you.
That's how much he cares about you. He's done all this. In fact, according to scripture, God was developing you and preparing you and designing you before the day you were even born.
Every ability, every disability, every inability. You might have said to God, you know, I can't do this and I can't do that and I can't do that and I can't do that and I can't do this. And God says, Yes, I didn't design you to do that and that and that and this and this and that.
I want you to do that. He says, You skillfully wrought me in the depths of the earth. That's a metaphor for the secret recesses of the womb.
Skillfully wrought can be translated intricately embroidered. David delivers the stunning truth that in the womb you are a living human being under the hand of a designer, God, thousands of years before sonograms would prove it by showing us the beating of a baby's heart at nine weeks. Thousands of years before we would see a 3D image of an unborn baby sucking his thumb or responding to sound or even painful stimuli. Thousands of years before medical technology would effectively catch up with divine inspiration and then reveal to us that this preborn baby is emitting brainwaves identical nearly to adult brainwaves before the baby is even three months old. David says, You, O God, were busy crafting us from the very moment sperm met egg and that cell first divided. Obviously, the psalm has obvious implications, right?
On the debate in our culture relative to abortion. The trouble is scripture is not allowed to bear testimony in the courts of our land. The last thing you'd ever want to do is quote a verse.
They'll throw it out of court. But scripture still speaks, delivering to us the truth, and that psalm is an inspiration to the church to view and speak of and speak for the unborn, the preborn as living human beings. Before your birth, God was at work in your life. Isn't that great to know?
Now, you fast forward to take 10 years for the kids in here or 20 or 30 or 60 or 80 or whatever. You are given equally stunning truth. Peter delivers it. He refers to this bestowal in the terminology of God's grace. Again, here in 1 Peter 4, 10.
As each one has received a special gift. If you're a Christian by faith in Jesus Christ, Peter takes it for granted that God also wove into you an ability whereby you can serve the body and advance the gospel. God is the giver of these gifts. Peter uses the word gift, key word, charisma in the Greek language. It's derived from the same root word as grace, choris.
The charisma can be understood as grace gifts. One New Testament scholar defines it as a favor from God bestowed upon us. You didn't deserve it, nor did I.
We didn't work for it. It's in the terminology of salvation. It is the act of the grace of God in our lives.
He did what he did because of his grace to equip us to serve the body. You have been given a charisma. So it's not proper to talk about somebody as well. They've got charisma and I don't.
No, you do too. You've got charisma. It's a word here. In fact, the word charisma gives us the word charismatic. Since every Christian is the recipient of a charisma, according to Peter, every Christian, I mean, get this, happens to be a charismatic. Isn't that great?
You're not sure. Sounds strange, doesn't it? But you happen to be in the biblical sense of the word, which has sort of been abducted from this context, a charismatic in the auditorium today, a charismatic pastor is going to preach to several thousand charismatic people.
This is a charismatic gathering. Not an amen among us, huh? Everyone, Steven needs a vacation.
He's been working too hard. No, it's true. But in a biblical way, listen, I hope so.
I hope so. What do I mean? In other words, I hope and pray that each of us will demonstrate and exercise our charisma, that God bestowed grace gifting for the benefit of one another.
He's talking about life in the body, the body of Christ. I mean, wouldn't it be great if we were that kind of church? I mean, think about this. Wouldn't it be amazing if we had a waiting line of people who wanted to teach second grade Sunday school?
Sorry, you can't teach. We got a waiting line. There's about 30 in front of you, but we appreciate it. Wouldn't that be amazing? Wouldn't it be amazing if we had a waiting line and choir for the alto section?
I'm glad you want to use your talent. We'll find a way, maybe build a bigger choir loft. Wouldn't it be great to have guys standing in line to usher or park cars or set up chairs, guys in the house to make coffee, to counsel the hurting, to mop the floors, to help in the cafe or the kitchen as adult leaders, for teens, as a wanna workers. I mean, you just go on and on and on to join the prayer team to spend an hour during the first service praying or the evangelism teams or the mission teams and on and on and on. Wouldn't that really be unusual? In the mind of God, it would be normal. That's normal that all of us would be exercising our charisma. None of us have been left out of the picture.
None of us decided what we'd be good at. Thirdly, none of us get to keep our gifts to ourselves. And that follows logically, spiritually, as each one has received a special gift, employed in serving one another. Let me remind you, do it as good stewards of the manifold, the multicolored grace of God. We're not owners of our gifts.
Did you notice? We're stewards. That's difference between an owner and a steward. A steward in Peter's day was a household servant who'd been given the responsibility of managing stuff that didn't belong to him.
Think of Joseph in Potiphar's house. You don't own your talent. You don't own that ability to sing or teach or counsel or write or mop or set up chairs. You don't own that capacity to serve in those ways that you just intuitively know, I need to mop, I need to set that up, I need to teach that, I need to put my arm around that person and give them encouragement. God designed you, God endowed you to steward that. Peter is essentially saying, don't let that gift go to waste in the body. If you do, this body, this local assembly becomes disabled. See, Paul will use the analogy of a human body to describe the local church to the Corinthians, and he'll say we've got feet and we have ears and eyes and hands. If your hand doesn't work, you have a disability, right? If your left knee, like mine, gives you trouble, it's not working right. That's a disability, isn't it?
If you don't work, this body has a disability. If you can believe it, there was a first century pastor that was becoming a liability to his own congregation. And there were a couple of letters sent to him by the apostle Paul, and each of them were prodding him. On two occasions, in fact both letters to Timothy, who pastored the church in Ephesus, Paul exhorted him to exercise his gifts. He writes to him in 1 Timothy 4.14, do not neglect the spiritual gift within you.
Now you think that would be just sort of this general statement. No, this is a specific statement immediately applied to Timothy. The word neglect here means to not care for something or care after something, which means a gift has to be cared for, it has to be looked after, it has to be exercised like a muscle. And what's really telling here is that Paul uses a verb tense that informs us that Timothy is already in the process of neglecting it.
You can actually translate this, stop neglecting the spiritual gift within you. Imagine, he's a pastor. We're not told why he's shying away from using his gifts, no doubt related to pastoring and teaching.
We're not told what that looked like. It might have been discouragement over ministering to people. It might have been the rigors of study, preaching. It might have been depression over Paul's imprisonment that was taking place when he wrote the letters. It might have been fear. There seemed to be timidity built into Timothy's personality. He's fearful. I mean, he had seen Paul rushed by angry mobs more than once. Persecution is increasing.
Maybe I'll take a back seat. We're not told exactly, which is wonderful because we can all identify then with Timothy in ways we might want to search for the back seat. We're not told why Timothy was sliding.
We're told that he was. And Paul comes along to prod him into stopping that sliding in the wrong direction and take action in the right direction. Then again, in Paul's next letter to Timothy, he writes, for this reason, 2 Timothy 1.6. I remind you. You see, he's going back to that first letter. I'm reminding you, Timothy.
He says it a different way. Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you. And he uses a word picture of someone putting dry tinder on glowing coals. And then blowing on that tinder and watching the flame pick up. Some of you may be old enough to remember how you did it.
I remember talking to my mother-in-law. They didn't have heat for a long, long time indoors. And it was her chore as one of the older daughters to get up in the morning and go to those hot coals and that stove and put the tinder in and blow it and watch that and kindle that fire. You could translate the phrase stir in the flame the gift of God which is in you. Now, let me make a point. Notice, Timothy is not being told to create the flame or decide on that flame. He isn't told to design it. God does that. But it is his responsibility and yours and mine to fan the flame into a living, glowing fire. To kindle it afresh through self-denying, self-sacrificing service to the body of Christ for the glory of God. So Peter is then prodding all of us into action here. He's reminding all of us, you've been given this bestowal, but guess what?
It can grow cold. Kindle it. Kindle it by sacrificing yourself afresh to the plan of God as it unfolds in your life. Think about it this way. Since God is the giver of the skills and abilities and gifts that you have, since you have received them from God, they are never simply yours. They're not yours. They belong to him. He loaned them to you to manage for the sake of the body. They're not yours. You are not yours either. You don't belong to you. You belong to your designer, creator, gift-giving God.
So where do you start in the process, especially those who are new to the faith, in dispensing this grace, this multicolored grace that God wants us to administrate as stewards through the use of our gifts? Where do you start? Well, ask yourself some key questions like, where can I do the most good? Look around. Where do I already have experience or talent?
Where am I willing to develop and learn? How can I bless the church and serve the body in a way that glorifies God? Begin by praying along with a missionary who wrote in his journal before eventually dying. Jim Elliott wrote, Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one like You, Lord Jesus. God, I pray that You would light these idle sticks of my life, and may I burn for Thee. My prayer, kindle it afresh, God use me in the way You've designed me, for Your glory. Stephen called this lesson, Giving Away Your Gifts.
It comes from his series called, Survival Kit, which he'll continue on our next broadcast. I encourage you to install the Wisdom International app to your phone. In the menu along the bottom is a tab that says, Bible. You can actually hit a play button and listen to the Bible being read to you. Also, if Stephen has a lesson from the section that you're reading, you'll have a link right to Stephen's lesson from the Bible. Install the Wisdom International app on your phone today. And join us back here next time for more Wisdom for the Heart. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-17 00:53:21 / 2023-01-17 01:03:07 / 10