Let’s go to Ephesians, Chapter 4. And for the third time, I’m going to choose the same text, the same passage and go over it again. Remember what I said last time that, you know, God’s word is multilayered, multidimensional.
And you can take the same text and explore it from different perspectives. And using that metaphor of several layers of interpretation, you can peel off a layer, almost like a transparency, and it has some things in it, and you can put it on top of another layer, and together they make a pattern. And you can put another layer, and together those three make a pattern as a whole, but each one of them separately is also a pattern onto itself. And those are the messages that you can preach on a text. So you can take the same text… Thank you so much, I appreciate it. You can take the same text, and you can just keep mining it many times, several, several times, and you will always find new elements, new dimensions, new sermons, new meditations for that same text. So even though we’re exploring the same text, remember, we will not be going through the same terrain, and I hope to show that again to you. So verse 9, chapter 4, Ephesians, and I do hope you have your Bibles. If not, just listen. Actually, let’s go to verse 11, because verse 9 is really preparatory.
Verse 11. It says, it was He—meaning God of course—who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers. For what? To prepare God’s people for works of service. Another place says to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. That’s another, the King James version, or the new King James version. And I like that. To equip God’s people or the saints for the work of the ministry, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Now, as a result of all of that, all those things that we’re going to try to unpack, this is what happens. Then, as a consequence of all those different things that are going to happen to believers, we will no longer be infants tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of man in their deceitful scheming. That’s the negative thing that we will not be. The positive thing that we will be is instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the head. That is Christ. From Him, the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work.
Notice there, in case I forget later on or I don’t get to it, all of a sudden the present kicks in in verse 16… grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work, meaning what? That this is an ongoing thing. Using the present in that literary way is a way of saying, hey, this is an ongoing feature of the life of the Church. We’re always doing that. It’s a never-ending process. It’s an ongoing thing, this growing up and becoming joined together, and building ourselves up in love, each of us doing our own thing within the body and the Kingdom of Christ.
OK. We talked last time that I was speaking about this multiplicity of ministries, of gifts, of passions, I called it, that some people call functions in the Church, or offices, apostles, prophets, evangelists. And I pointed our attention to the fact that God releases His spirit upon His people in a supernatural sort of way, and His people develop different kinds of ministries. Now, this list, as I said, is not exhausted. There are all kinds of other lists that could be concocted. And there are, as a matter of fact in the Epistles, different kinds of works or functions or specialties that different people carry out in the Kingdom of God, all designed for the purposes that we’re going to see now.
But it is the one God doing that kind of giving out. He gave some to the apostles. Look at how, beginning with verse 7, there’s this idea of God giving. To each one of us, grace has been given. And then, in the quotation of that sound that He later on said, “When he ascended on high, he led … and gave gifts to men. And then He gave some to be apostles.” This is why these skills are called gifts, because it is God who is giving. He is giving in very diverse sorts of ways, but they’re all working together for the same purpose. And each of these people: apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, each one has their own temperament, their own capacity, their own outlook, their own way of doing things, their own focus, and that is their power, and it is also their limitation. You know, no leader is perfect. You are not perfect. I am not perfect. And our strengths are sometimes also our weaknesses. So for example, a prophet, the gift that a prophet receives enables that individual to be in touch in a very special way, in a very supernatural and powerful way with God’s revelation for a specific moment, a specific place, a specific people, a specific situation. But it doesn’t require the development of other skills, so often prophets can be very deficient on the relational side. Many prophetic people are often weaker on the side of maturity and relational gifting, and being able to see the institutional side of the Church. And that can lead them sometimes to get into conflict with pastors, for example, and to become sometimes a little bit of a, what is the word, goad. There’s a word, on the side of the pastors, you know, just a sting there. It can be bothersome at times. They’re wonderful. They can really have some powerful insights, but it can be problematic in that sense.
On the other hand, pastors, for example, are very good. Most pastors in the area of caring for people, of, you know, seeing the whole institution, of being very sober many times and prudent about making decisions. But also, that means that sometimes they’re not visionaries, and it’s very hard for them to be daring and enterprising and to undertake things that are ambitious, because they are more given to be prudent, because that’s usually the skill that is most useful and applicable to a pastor. So sometimes, you know, if you’re expecting your pastor, or the evangelist, or the prophet to be everything, it’s a problem. You have to understand that there’s a gifting that goes with each. And God’s spirit is giving them a particular skill, a particular gift that they can carry out.
And on the other hand, you know, altogether, they work together like a body, so you know, the evangelists are more aggressive and enterprising, and they’re always looking out there, and being the front, and being missionaries, and all kinds of… They can help. So if a church has people who are of a missionary temperament, that church will generally—and if the evangelists are given room appropriately to develop their gifts and to carry it out—that church will never be lacking in evangelistic activity. You know, these people with an evangelistic gift will always be prodding the pastor. “Hey, let’s do this, let’s do that. I mean, there’s a new neighborhood that’s opening up. Let’s go and give cards out on Saturday. Or let’s…” You know, they’re very enterprising in that sense. So the pastor, if he’s wise, he will understand that maybe evangelism is not his strength, his forte, so he should give those people more room to work that out.
And you know, prophetic people are necessary, because many times prophetic people can get in touch with a particular revelation of God. And it may not necessarily be through some sort of divine vision or dream, or some kind of spectacular revelation of God. It may simply be an impression that they have, an understanding that they have about some particular way that the Church could be going. They may come to the pastor, and say, “Pastor, I have a feeling that, you know, the holiness element in the Church is not as strong as it should be, and we need to be encouraging the congregation to look more at the aspect of holiness, because I feel, we feel that if we don’t do that, we are opening ourselves up to demonic attack.” Now, that person is getting an instinctive impression from the spirit of God, so it doesn’t have to be always the spectacular thing. “Thus said the Lord, o pastor.” It can be an impressionistic kind of thing, but it is still of the spirit. And these people here, and for example, in the Latino congregation I have often benefited from those individuals who, you know, they’re always getting into dreams, and revelations, and impressions, and they’re always coming to me. Sometimes I kind of, you know, I take it with a huge grain of salt, actually a whole bottle or box of salt. But many times they are a target, and I have learned to respect their insights, and I have learned to say, “Well, sister, I will pray about that. Thank you very much.” And sometimes they are right on the money. And so as a pastor, for me, that’s a great source of intelligence, so to speak, about the spirit world. And the pastor is very good if he benefits from that.
And then, you know, you have the teachers, people who are good at inquiring about the word, and they have a curiosity about the intricacies and the subtleties about the world of God, and they are very good at sometimes discerning the theological and Biblical health of the congregation. And they have a desire to foment and to encourage the teaching aspect and the discipling aspect of the life of a congregation. And the pastor should also, as the overseer, as the head elder, allow those people to have their place and encourage their ministries, and encourage their educational heightening in preparation.
So all of these different individuals should be in the Church. You see? That’s why I cannot understand when people say, “Well, these gifts we just for the first century before the Bible was written.” There is that interpretation in many evangelical churches. These functions are no longer in play in the modern church or in the post-Biblical, post-Bible church. That was necessary only before we had the texts of the cannon. You’ll find that in many places. I think it’s an absolute mistake, and a deadly one, and one that impoverishes the complexity that God designed the Church to function in. And you know, it doesn’t mean that we have to have these sort of spectacular, supernatural manifestations in the Church. I think many of these offices, they manifest themselves today in the life of God’s church, of the Church of Jesus Christ in very unspectacular sorts of ways. In every church, I think you will find people of a prophetic nature, of an evangelistic nature, of a teaching nature, of a pastoral nature. And in some cases, there will be individuals that God is forming for an apostolic function as well. And you know, God designed it that way so that nobody would have the entire puzzle, so that we would all be forced to depend on each other, and to give the glory to God, and to function as a body. How wonderful it is when I know my faults, my flaws, my weaknesses, my deficiencies, and I see my brother or my sister in the congregation as a resource that God has sent to bolster and to strengthen that side of my ministry, because … it’s not my ministry, it’s not her ministry. It is Jesus Christ’s ministry through a congregation that matters. Yes or no? Can I hear an Amen for that? Yeah.
So you know, it’s wonderful, because it requires a complementarity that glorifies Christ, because when a congregation is able to live like that, so harmoniously, then what happens is that everybody gets to develop their gift. You know that everyone, and you will see this time and time again in all of scripture: every believer who has the Holy Spirit in him or her has a gift, has a calling, has some measure of divine energy in them. Everyone here has a gift, has a skill, something to provide to the Kingdom of God, and part of our challenges… Lord, how can I find that? How can I get in touch with that gift that you have given me? That’s a matter for an entire sermon or more. But know that God has gifted you. He gave to all of us something. God’s design for the Church is that everybody in the Church would be working in complementary sorts of ways, nobody doing the same thing.
I remit here to First Corinthians, chapter 12, where the Apostle Paul develops this beautiful idea, very fully, that he also treats in other parts of scripture about the body, that we are all like different parts of the body. The ear does one thing, the eye does another, the hand does another, the heart, the lungs, the internal organs, the brain. All of them working together to produce a functional organism. That is what the Church is. And blessed is the Church that can learn to work that way, acknowledging, recognizing, encouraging the gift that each individual has. But look at this, not only is it that. Not only is the Church designed like that, to function as a composite of different gifts, different skills, different temperaments, different ways of seeing the world, different perspectives, different ways of apprehending the Kingdom of God, but look, it says, it gave some apostles, evangelists, so on for what? Was it just to have them around, a bonding? What a great gathering of different people so that we can, like in a zoo, go and contemplate all these different specimens? It wasn’t for that. No. It was for a very functional purpose. It was for a very utilitarian—to use a big word—purpose. It was for a specific result that was to happen, and teach us to prepare God’s people for works of service.
The other translation that I read to you, which is more close to the Greek: “to equip the saints for the work of the ministry,” the aconia is the word that is used for service. OK, so that’s why these different gifts exist in the Church. You see, what is a church? What should be a church? Some of us think that a church is a place where I can come and be fed, and be encouraged, and be consoled, and have a good social repertoire that I can benefit from on, you know, different occasions, and have interesting people that I can associate with, and have pastors and counselors, you know, that can rub me in the back when I’m discouraged, or when I’m having problems, or psychologists that I can sit with and get me a good counseling when I’m in trouble. Yes, all of those things are good, and those are some of the things that a church does, but you know? That’s not why the Church exists, and that is not why God has distributed his gifts. It is really for the Church, a church to be a place for training. Now, we don’t like that. See? Because in the 20th, 21st century, in the last part, I think there has been developed this idea that the Church is kind of a service center, you know? That churches should have really nice children departments, and great music departments, and good counseling departments where people can come and be serviced, and they pay for the service. You know? That’s an abomination before the eyes of God. I think it is a travesty of what the Bible projects for the purpose of the Church. The Church is a training center.
Remember what I was saying in the last preaching that I did of this muscular way in which the Church is portrayed in this passage. These images, these metaphors that the apostle uses of a body, of an edifice that is built up, of speaking the truth in love, a body joined and held together by every supporting ligament, honor or none. You know, when you look at this image, it’s not of the Church as this place of, you know, kind of rubbing people’s backs. It is a place of great activity. It is a place of great undertaking. It is a place of service. It is a place of warring. It is a place of preparing. And it goes totally against the grain of this entitlement culture that we live in where if I am not serviced correctly, I’ll just find a place where they’ll do it, have a nice parking lot where I can park my car, and it won’t be scratched, and you know, I don’t have to do anything. I juts give my, at the best circumstances, my tithen. That’s it. I’m done. Now, give me a good service. Give me good preaching, good worship, and this and that, and then I’ll stay. It’s not that. The Church of Jesus Christ exists for the purpose of propagating the Gospel, spreading the Gospel and the preparing men and women to become servants of Jesus Christ, to serve the Church, to serve the Kingdom of God, and to serve the world. You are in a church to be prepared for service. You’re not in the Church to be served and to be catered to. You’re not in the Church to be a client. I’m not in the Church to be a client. I am in the Church to prepare to be a warrior, to become a servant of Jesus Christ. Can I hear another Amen to that? Even if you don’t believe it, say it. You might start believing it if you say it.
You know, I prefer, to me, I prefer that understanding of the Church of Jesus Christ. It appeals so much more to my enterprising nature to see the Church like that and to see yourself and myself like that. We are ministers in potential, and God gives his gifts to provide the necessary nutrients so that when people come into a congregation, they can be prepared in turn to become servants and ministers, and then they will in turn be able to prepare others to become servants and ministers, and those in turn will produce another generation of servants and ministers. And that is what has kept the Church for two thousand years.
When a church misses its true reason for being, it starts dying out. The spirit and the gift start drying up, because the gifts of the spirit only exist insofar as the Church discharges its true nature and its reason for being. When a church stops doing that, stops training people, starts lubricating itself by continuous exercise of its gifts and producing, the Holy Spirit holds back. Do you see? Do you understand then well how, why the Bible says that to him who, you know, those who have more will be given to them? And those who don’t have even what they have will be taken away from them? If you don’t use your talent either individually or corporately in the life of the Church, the Holy Spirit is grieved and holds back the natural, continual flow of its energy and nutrients. And that’s why churches begin to die out. That’s why churches lose their vitality. That’s why entire regions begin to dry up, and the spirit of God stops speaking, stops flowing, stops blessing, stops giving, because the Church loses its missionary outlook, its outlook of preparation, of teaching, of preparing, of conquering, of giving.
And that’s why, you know, I’ve always said, and through these meditations based on service. Look at them, read them or hear them again on the Internet, and you will see that this is insistence that the secret of a powerful, vibrant, joyful, ever-growing, Christian life is giving of yourself, not seeking your own comfort, not licking your own wounds, not overly obsessing over who you are, your problems, your limitations, not being sorry for yourself. As you give, as you serve, as you concern yourself with the Kingdom of God and its justice, all the other things are given unto you, all the other concerns that you have, all of the other things that people kill themselves to receive, they are given to you. And you enter into the joy of the Lord, and God begins miraculously, mysteriously, the power and the life of the Spirit begins to flow through you, and you feel your organism breathing. All those ligaments begin to be lubricated, all the arthritis in the spirit realm leaves, and you begin to experience a vitality, which comes, because you are moving. You are consuming. And immediately an order is given in the heavenly realms, “Give more,” because that organism is using the energy and the nutrients of the spirit, so they need more. You will only receive what you need, so if you don’t move, if you don’t act, if you don’t serve, you don’t receive, because you don’t need it. Do you see what I’m saying?
So the best way to receive and to thrive and to always wallow in the blessing, in the abundance of the spirit of God is by serving, because that’s what you were made out to do. That’s what churches were made out to do. That’s what regional churches were made out to do. That’s why the Church of Jesus Christ at the universal level was made out to do, to be a place of service, of conquest, of new ideas, new energies, new enterprises for the Kingdom. And when the Church exercises that, it will always be receiving more, and the more it does, the more it receives, and the greater it becomes, the more powerful it becomes, the more abundant, the more contagious it becomes, the more aware of God’s faithfulness, and the truth of God’s promises and God’s word, because it is confirming it day by day. You know, that undertakes the work of the Kingdom. That’s a secret. If I could give you anything that can be useful to you of a powerful Christian life at the corporate level or at the individual level: serve, give, enter into your true identity, your true calling. Do not be so concerned about what is being given to you. Be concerned as to what you can give. The famous words of John F. Kennedy: “Do not ask what your country can do for you.” Do not ask what the Kingdom of the Church can do for you. Ask what you can do for your Church or for your Kingdom. That is the secret.
And so this is implicit here in this idea that these gifts of evangelism, of apostolic intuition, and prophetic power, and so on, are given to prepare, to equip God’s people for works of service. By the way—I mean, we could just dwell on that alone—the word that is translated here in the … be prepared and in the King James ‘to equip’ is the word catartismo, which means essentially… It’s a very complex word. It has a lot of different meanings, and it’s used differently, but it all has like an underlying message. Catartismo means to put something in the condition that it was designed for. So for example, there’s a passage where, you know, it refers to, in Greek literature, there are passages where in the Bible… a broken limb, to set it in such a way that it will function again as normal, or to mend nets that have been broken through the fishing exercise, and to put them back to normalcy so that they can function again.
So it is this idea of setting something into the condition that it is meant to exist in. And so you can see then here that this idea of, you can say, in order to make sure that God’s people reach the state that they are meant to be in, that they attain the identity that God destined them to have and to obtain. That is the reason why the Church exists. When an individual walks through the Church, accepts Jesus Christ, all the mechanisms of the Church immediately should kick in to conform that individual to the image of the ideal believer serving, equipped with the right knowledge, with the right attitudes, with the right character, in order to become a source of power and service for the Kingdom of God. The Church is carrying out its intended function, when it is able to do that.
And so really, the mission vision of a church is very simple. I mean, in a sense, we don’t have to kill ourselves. You know, churches… We’ve gone through the stages of every church has to have a mission vision statement, and after a while they all start sounding the same. Why? Because, I mean, ultimately, you know, it’s not rocket science. Really, we know the mission vision of a church has really been given by Jesus Christ to prepare people for the work of the ministry. So everything that we do should be geared toward that. Our preaching should be geared not to entertain, not to rub people’s backs, not to raise their self-esteem. All of that is good, and there should be elements of that. But really, there should be this idea of teaching people, giving them the skills. Some people get angry or bothered, “Oh, you know…” And I’m not giving any direct things here, but, “You know, the teaching in my church is not… You know, why can’t it be more encouraging, and you know, more like Joel Osteen, you know about, you know power and success, and all this stuff.” Well, that’s great. That’s a great message, you know? But after a while, the message of the Church has to be so much more diverse. I mean, it has to train people. It has to give them spinach every once in a while, not just pizza and French fries. Do you know what I mean? It has to give them some vegetables, and it has to give them some carbohydrates and proteins, and all kinds of other things to provide a balanced nutrition so that human being can become fully serviceable and a service-oriented individual.
The teaching ministry of the Church should be the same way. It’s not to fill people’s heads with lots of theology and grand ideas and you know, all that kind of stuff. That’s all good, but it is to teach people how to become powerful believers. It has to be of a practical nature. And at the same time, you know, at the Church it’s great to have fellowships, and social times, and all that kind of stuff. That’s wonderful, but that’s not why the Church exists. You know, that is simply a way of consolidating, of giving people some sustenance in the emotional realm. That’s all good, but it is designed ultimately to give them some rest and relaxation like you do to soldiers. You get them out of the battlefield for a while, you give them some nice rest with their family, you know, you beef them up again, and then you get them back into Iraq. You know, it doesn’t sound to pastoral to put it that way, but really, I was never too much of the nurturing type, I must admit.
And really, I believe that there’s such beauty, such power, such heroic elegance, and that kind of understanding of our lives as believers. And you know, the Church exists to equip the saints for the work of the ministry of the aconia. Service. We are to serve. We are servants. We serve others. We are ministers, not in the sense of these people who are supposed to be looked at with great respect and awe. No. We’re lowly servants. Wherever there’s a need, there we are to fill it. Where’s the need in your church? Where’s the need in your office? Where’s the need in your building? Where’s the need in your neighborhood. You are a servant. I am a servant. I have power. I have been giving resources. I have been given the nutrients of the Kingdom. I carry them with me. I have God’s atomic energy with me. I can afford to look at the needs of anywhere that I am and see myself as a representative of the Kingdom to address those needs. And wherever there is a need, if I can in any reasonable way, help as a representative of the Kingdom of God, I must say, “Yes, Lord.” We have to be careful with that. We don’t want to burn ourselves up, or anything like that. I mean, within a certain amount of soberness and maturity, we have to always say, “Lord, I am here. How do you want to use me?”
I see a lot of people in churches, in neighborhoods, Christians who when there’s a need, I mean, you can almost see the wind behind them as they scramble to disappear before people can point out to them. On the contrary, it should be the very opposite. If there is a need, and I can fill it, and I know that God will give me more as I give, I say, “Yes, here I am. How can I help?” And there’s such glory, such beauty in that. I encourage you to embrace that heroic understanding of the Kingdom of God and of your nature as a servant of Jesus Christ. And I assure you that you will always be raised up. It is the… Added to … in Jesus Christ. That’s why in Philippians 2, 5-11, it says, let there be in you the same spirit that was in Jesus Christ, who being God divested Himself of his glory and adopted the shape of a man. And at that, of a servant, and suffered a death, and not just any death, but death on the cross, for which reason God lifted him up, and gave him a name that is above every other name. Before the name of Jesus Christ, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that he is the Son of God, that he is Lord.
You see? There’s that same dynamic that will manifest itself in your life and in my life. As we divest ourselves of our rights, of what we are entitled to receive, and what we have a right to claim, whether privacy, rest, normal life, whatever, and we give it up, and we die… when the grain of wheat dies, it bears much fruit. As we die, we are entitled while we have a right to expect and to ask of life, of a church, whatever, and we become servants, man, you know what happens? God then lifts you up, and gives you stature, gives you power, gives you energy, gives you more gifting, gives you authority. A lot of people don’t feel the authority of the Kingdom because they do not serve. And the way to authority in the Kingdom of God is by service, by humbling, by abnegation, by self-divesting like Jesus did. There is no other way to power. A lot of people are seeking power, authority, recognition, position in the Kingdom by cajoling, or manipulating, or blackmailing. “Pastor, if you don’t give me a position, I’m going to leave, and I’m going to take my ties with me.” “Well, God bless you my sister. I hope you find a very good church.”
It is not, that’s not the way. You are killing yourself by doing it that way. You must run the race legitimately, not by taking shortcuts. The only way to authority, as Jesus said in another passage, is by dying, by serving others. Remember when the disciples came? Lord, when you’re in Your Kingdom, may we sit one at your right hand, and one at your left hand? Well, can you participate in the same baptism that I’m going to participate in? And what did He mean by that? The baptism of the cross, of deep suffering. And then he said, Hey, bring me a towel, and bring me a basin. He washed their feet and said, Hey, that’s the way to true authority. Serve, humble yourself, humiliate yourself, and then you will have what you’re seeking. You cannot enter into the fullness of the Christian life unless you go through that apprenticeship that Jesus went through, because that’s what you were made out to be.
God has established certain processes. They are laws, as unbreakable as the laws of physics. And when you abide by them, when you dwell within them, when you acknowledge their validity. Whether people see you doing it or not, it doesn’t matter. The laws have life unto themselves, because they have been breathed out by God, so they have life, because God is life. And so they have consciousness. When you navigate the old Christian experience through those laws, you will be blessed always regardless of who’s watching, and the result that those laws provide will always manifest themselves in your life.
Now, when you violate them, the same thing happens. The benefits will not manifest themselves. If you get yourself into a position of authority or influence in the church without following the legitimate path of service, humiliation, apprenticeship, self-divesting, you will never have the power, the legitimate power that you were supposed to have. And in the end, your authority will not last. It will be a very fragile authority, and it will turn against you sooner or later. So why take the shortcut? You’re only fooling yourself. You’ll have to pay the interest at the end anyway. It’s so much better to follow the path to the Kingdom.
And I tell you, there’s such beauty in that, and there’s such legitimacy in that, and then nobody can take that authority away from you. There are a lot of people who are scared. Oh, you know, if I allow so and so to be in my church, they’re going to do this, and they’re going to take, you know. Hey, what God has given you, nobody can take away. Now, if you got it, it’s a different story, because you have to defend it, but if God gave it to you, He will defend it, because you have function according to the design of the entire machinery.
OK? So I’m going to stop here, but this essential idea that we have gotten stalk on here: God’s gift, God’s offices, God’s mysterious endowments are always given for the purpose of producing servants. And wise is the man or woman in the Kingdom of God who understands that they exist, their identity, the identity of service, and that when they come into the Kingdom, it’s not to be served, but to serve. And that when they serve, the wind of the Lord is behind them, and whatever they do will be prospered. There will be so much less effort costly, and the blessing of God will be there, because you are in within your identity. You are doing what you were created to do. You have entered into your true calling. So may the Lord tonight reinforce again in our hearts the sense of calling, and to keep our eyes open. God wants to use you. God already has given you a calling, He already has a destiny for you, He already has a purpose for your life. He already has thinned out in laser-like precision a portion of His incredible personality, and has said, I want him or her to have this aspect of my being. And He ascended from Heaven, from his throne to Earth, and it got to you the moment you became a believer, the moment God’s spirit entered into your life. Now, you have the gift inside. Now you have to fan it into flame. This is why the Apostle Paul tells Timothy, “I urge you to fan into flame the gift of God that is in you. It’s in you,” by the imposition of my hands, or whatever it is. I mean, there are different ways to receive a gift. Now, you have the gift. Your calling is to fan it into flame. How do you fan it into flame? By acting, by moving, by exercising, by probing, by experimenting, by praying, by studying, by serving. As you do that, that gift will all of a sudden start breathing into life. That flame will start shining.
I believe many people say, well, I don’t know what my gift is. Start serving. Start moving. As you move, and as you do things, as you exercise, your gift will become manifest sooner or later. As you throw out your feelers all over the place in God’s Kingdom, you will begin to see a pattern emerging. That’s your gift. That’s your passion. That’s your particular perspective on the Kingdom. Start serving, ‘cause you will see God’s beautiful promises come to life, God’s beautiful life that He has promised for you and for me to become fully manifest in your life.
Father, once more, we pray that we might gain your perspective on the Kingdom, we might be able to see with Your eyes this wonderful organism that is Your church, this wonderful life that is the life of a believer, this heroic life, this tragic, in the best sense of the word, life, that is the life of the hero of the Kingdom. May we embrace it, Father. Help this church to fill its mandate by being a church that will equip people to be servants of Jesus Christ. Give us more, Father, so that we may be able to give more. And allow us to give more that we might be able to receive more. I bless each one of these men and women as they embrace Your word, as they open themselves to Your word tonight, Father. I pray that the gifting of Your spirit will be exulted, will be enhanced in their lives. Just take a moment to welcome the gift of God in your life and to welcome the call of God to service. Will you take a moment even to ask for forgiveness if you have not seen the Kingdom of God in that perspective of serving? Will you take a moment to repent of maybe the tendency to be too conservative in the use of your energies, and your gifts, and your resources for the Kingdom of God, and to say, “Father, from today on, I will make every effort to be more and more of a servant, more and more of a resource for Your Kingdom. And I repent of the expectation that my church has to serve me, or people have to serve me. I want to become a servant, and I trust that as I do that, You will take care of me, and You will bless me, and You will give me all that you have said that you will give me. And I’ll be able to live a full life in the Kingdom of God. Father, we receive Your word tonight. We receive Your calling. We embrace it, and we declare Your faithfulness. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.