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Born and equipped for a time such at this

The title of my message today is “Born and equipped for a time such as this”. I am continuing my series from Romans 12. So far we have looked at verses 1-3 which talked about being a living sacrifice, renewing our minds and having a right view of ourselves. For those of you who are online I have put the text and audio of my last message “10 things God says about you in the Bible” on the website. For those who are not online I have printed a summary of the main points and verses here.

In today’s message I want to look at the idea of being made and equipped by God with all the gifts we need to do His work. I want to look at three things that will help us to be effective in using our gifts for God.

Bible Readings: Romans 12:4-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-8.

1. We are born for a time such as this

In my last message several weeks ago we looked at a number of verses that talked about being chosen by God and God preparing works for us to do before the foundation of the earth.

We saw that Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

We are created by God for good works that He planned for us before He made the world. You were on His mind and He had a job for you to do. Like Queen Esther was chosen for a time such as this, so are you.

Before I came to Christ and before I started reading the Bible I thought I was born on the 29th of April 1967 by chance. I thought it was some random act of the universe – a cosmic chance. But I have learned that I was born at the exact moment in history because God wanted me born then. He had work for me to do that only I could do, because He uniquely shaped me for it.

If you think about it God is in a habit of raising people up at the right time. Noah when He needed an Ark, Moses when He need His people out of Egypt, Abraham when He needed a nation, Elijah when He need some false prophets defeated, Nehemiah when He needed the wall rebuilt, Ezra when He needed the people revived, David when He needed a King, Gideon when He needed an army lead, Esther when He need His nation saved, John the Baptist when He needed the Saviour announced, Jesus when He needed a Saviour, and Paul When He need the Gentiles to be reached with the Gospel. These are just to name a few.

You could have been born at any time in history, but God chose for you to be born now. You could have been born in 200BC, 57AD, 1232AD or even in 100 years from now. But you weren’t, you were born exactly when God wanted for His reasons and His purposes. When we realise this, it makes us want to find out why we were born at this time and what God has for us to do?

2. We are gifted for a time such as this

In the Bible it looks at the Gifts in four main places. This is Romans 12-4-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-12, 1 Peter 4:9-11, and Ephesians 4:11-12. The first three are about Spiritual Gifts for believers to help them do God’s work and the last ones are the Ministries Gifts that help equip the church to help people use their gifts.

As we can see from the screen there are a number of gifts that are mentioned in several lists. This is probably because the Apostle Paul wrote Romans, 1 Corinthians and Ephesians and there is always a little bit of crossover in his writing.

Definitions

I am going to share some definitions of the various gifts mentioned in these passages. I want you to keep two things in mind. One is that I only have time to share a short definition of each. While some write books about them. The second is that I went a Bible College that was non-denominational and had people from all types of churches – Brethren, Church of Christ, Baptist, Apostolic, Salvation Army, Lutheran, Four Square – so there was a wide variety of thoughts on the gifts. The Bible College took a middle of the road approach.

APOSTLE: Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:28 – to be sent forth to new frontiers with the gospel, providing leadership over church bodies and maintaining authority over spiritual matters pertaining to the church (Greek Word: apostolos – ‘apo’=from ‘stello’=send; one sent forth)

DISCERNMENT:  1 Cor. 12:10 – to clearly distinguish truth from error by judging whether the behavior or teaching is from God, Satan, human error, or human power

EVANGELISM: Eph. 4:11 – to be a messenger of the good news of the Gospel. While we are all called to share our faith. People with the gift of evangelism are always thinking about bring people to Christ.

EXHORTATION: Rom. 12:8 – to come along side of someone with words of encouragement, comfort, consolation, and counsel to help them be all God wants them to be (Greek Word: paraklesis – calling to one’s side)

FAITH: 1 Cor. 12:8-10 – to be firmly persuaded of God’s power and promises to accomplish His will and purpose and to display such a confidence in Him and His Word that circumstances and obstacles do not shake that conviction.

GIVING: Rom. 12:8 – to share what material resources you have generously and cheerfully without thought of return.

HEALINGS: 1 Cor. 12:9,28,30 – to be used as a means through which God makes people whole either physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually

HELPS: 1 Cor. 12:28 – to render support or assistance to others in the body so as to free them up for ministry or other things.

HOSPITALITY: 1 Pet. 4:9,10 – to warmly welcome people, even strangers, into one’s home or church as a means of serving those in need of food or lodging (Greek Word: philoxenos – love of strangers; ‘philos’=love; ‘xenos’=stranger)

KNOWLEDGE: 1 Cor. 12:8 – A Word of knowledge is a revelation from God, concerning a difficulty or need, of facts not known naturally to those involved.

LEADERSHIP: Rom. 12:8 – to provide direction of the local church with such care and diligence so as to motivate others to get involved in the accomplishment of these goals. My favourite description of Christian leadership is, “Christian leaders are people who are moved at God’s pace and in God’s time to God’s place. Christian Leadership is about taking a central role in taking people further into God’s plans and purposes and encouraging others into a deeper relationship and understanding of God.”

MERCY: Rom. 12:8 – to be sensitive toward those who are suffering, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally, so as to feel genuine sympathy with their misery, speaking words of compassion and caring for them with deeds of love to help alleviate their distress.

PASTOR: Eph. 4:11 – to be responsible for spiritually caring for, protecting, guiding, and feeding a group of believers entrusted to one’s care. I rate 100% in surveys.

PROPHECY: Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10; Eph. 4:11 – to speak forth the message of God to His people. This can be one on one or to a church group – sermon or words.

SERVICE: Rom. 12:7 – to identify undone tasks in God’s work, however big or small, and use available resources to get the job done.

TEACHING: Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11 – to instruct others in the Bible in a logical, systematic way so as to communicate pertinent information for true understanding and growth. I usually rate 100% when I do gift surveys in this area.

TONGUES: 1 Cor. 12:10; 14:27-28 – to speak in a language not previously learned so unbelievers can hear God’s message in their own language, or to the church body to be edified when shared publicly. There is also a private speaking in tongues for personal growth.

INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES: 1 Cor. 12:10; 14:27, 28 – to translate the message of someone who has spoken in tongues.

WISDOM: 1 Cor. 12:8 – to apply knowledge to life in such a way as to make spiritual truths quite relevant and practical in proper decision-making and daily life situations.

We are given these gifts for the purpose of building the church up – growing us in our faith and growing the church in numbers. God wants us to grow in our faith and new people to come to faith that is why He has gifted us to partner in His work.

As followers of Christ it is important that we understand how God has made us and what gifts He has given. This allows us to be most effective for Jesus and His desire to see everyone saved (2 Peter 3:9).

There are also spiritual gift surveys we can do that ask questions and help us to narrow down a few areas. We have one on our website. If you type in www.bkchurch.org.au/gifts/ you will find one.

Once we work out how we are gifted it is important to develop them by using them, working alongside other who have those gifts and undertaking further studies if required. Years ago one of my Pastors said he thought I had a teaching gift. He gave me a chance to lead communion, then in time speak and the youth group and eventually he gave me the chance to preach my first sermon. This combined with 7 years of study helped me to develop this gift.

3. Time alone with God is the key to using our gifts well

We see in the Bible that Jesus often drew aside to a solitary place to spend time with His Father. In Mark 1:35 we read that, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

On this occasion Jesus had spent the night before healing many people and preaching to great crowds, so He drew aside to spend time alone with His Father. He drew strength, for fellowship with His Father, and it seems direction because they went off to another place.

As I read about this and other passages when Jesus drew aside, I can’t help but think of the importance for us to have time alone with God too. If Jesus, as the Son of God, needed time in His Father’s presence, then so do we.

When I was at Bible College I read an article by Pastor and author Dr Gordon MacDonald about spending time alone with God. In the article he says, “the forming of the soul that it might be a dwelling place for God is the primary work of the Christian leader”. He went on to say that developing this intimate relationship with God through daily prayer, reflective Bible reading and time alone in God’s presence is vital if Christian leaders and Christians are going to be all they can be in God.

Understanding that Jesus drew aside for intimate time with His Father and that my primary responsibility as a Minister is to maintain and intimate relationship with God, have helped me to stay on fire for God. If I am to lead people into an intimate place with God, I need to be there myself.  So when the world around me presses in and the circumstances of life try to force me away from God, I stop and focus my attention back on God and seek intimate times with Him.

When I am in tune with God, I see His bigger for the world and my part in it. I know that I am here for a reason, that I am gifted for God and I need to be about His work for me. Time alone with God – TAWG – is just so vital if we are going to all we can be for God and use our gifts well.

Summary

So in closing today I want to finish with a summary of today’s message. You were born for a time such as this. You were no accident, not by chance, it was by God’s prior choice.

You were also gifted for a time such as this. God has given you gifts to do the things that He planned for you in advance. Our role is to find these gifts, develop them and use them to build the church and bring people to Christ.

Lastly, time alone with God is the key to using our gifts well. Jesus, who was the Son of God, drew aside from the business of life to spend time alone with His Father. He drew strength, encouragement, and direction during these times of fellowship. If Jesus needed this, how much more do we.

Amen.




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