Catching on Fire: What the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.>
I open a drawer the other day, the special drawer that I have in my study room. It’s the junk drawer. To my utter dismay, I open this drawer and I found several gift cards that now are expired. One of the gift cards was from 2007. They’ve been in there so long years. They had been in there, and I didn’t redeem them. I felt terrible about it because somebody went through the thoughtful process and went to a store, pick out a gift card for me. And I didn’t redeem them! There are tragic, unused gift cards!
And yet I am not alone. I found some comfort in an article in USA Today. It says there are 8 billion dollars of unused gift cards just from last year alone. In fact since 2005, 25% of all gift cards have gone unused. That’s just terrible. I am pretty sure many of you have unused gift card at home also. You might want to check your drawers when you get back home. Because there is nothing more sad than unredeemed gift cards. Well, actually there’s something more sad, I think. It’s unredeemed gifts that the Holy Spirit has given each one of us. You see, there’re many Christ followers who have left the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the drawer of their life. Tucked away in the wallet, they just haven’t used them. That’s I think, way more tragic than 8 billion dollars of unredeemed gift cards. And I am afraid it’s affecting more than 25% of population, you know. I think it’s affecting the whole world that these gifts are going unused.
Today we want to talk about rich gifts of God that are lying dormant in Christ’ followers. Now Paul thankfully wrote a letter to some ordinary followers of Jesus discussing this issue, and we pick it up at 1 Corinthians 12:1. This group of people was unaware of the rich gifts that were lying dormant in their lives. So Paul writes to them and he says this. (slide) “1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.” Yes, We don’t want to be uninformed, either. Right? Paul uses even stronger languages in there in NIV translation. “About spiritual gifts, I don’t want you to be ignorant!” We don’t want to be stupid when it comes to spiritual gifts. We want to know the rich gifts that God has for us, don’t we?
So this morning, we are going to attempt to answer the question, (slide) “What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?” That’s our question for today. And here’s the answer that I come up with. Let’s read it together. (slide) The Holy Spirit gives every Christ-follower spiritual gifts for the building up the body of Christ.
Now we are going to take this apart this morning and find out what this really means. Because of this one chapter of the Bible, we find that ordinary followers of Jesus have these gifts that can build up the body of Christ. Look with me number 1 to fill in the blank. (slide) 1. Every Christ follower has the spiritual gifts. That’s the first thing we want to know. Every Christ follower. When I was in 6th grade, I was there in class and I noticed something happening with some of my classmates. About 4 or 5 of them, every few days they would get up and then go out, do something different while the rest of us learning history or math. When they came back to class, we asked “What did you all do?” And they would do like really cool stuff. And then they started making these field trips. They’d be gone all day. They would go to history museum, art museum. They would go to science exhibit, just all kinds of fun stuff. I thought, “All right. This is it. I want in. Whatever they are doing, I want to be part of it.” So I went to my teacher and I said, “I want to go with those kids. I want to do the cool stuff that they do.” So the teacher said, “Yea, well. They are part of the gifted program, and you are not. So, no trips for you. Back to your desk.” So, I never got to go. So, no wonder when I went to church, I read these words for the first time, the 1 Corinthians 12, and I just discovered when the Sunday school teacher said, “You are all gifted!” And I said, “Me?” I didn’t think I was part of the gifted program! And the teacher said, “Yes, you are!” If you follow Jesus, you are gifted! I’ve got this good news today. If you follow Jesus, you too are gifted, you too are part of the gifted program! Isn’t that good news? How can this be? By the grace of God! Don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at what Paul writes to this group of Christians in the first century in the town of Corinth. He says, (slide) “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. (Let’s read the rest of it together.) A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (NLT) You might want to circle the word, “Each of us.” Everyone of us gets one on this. There are over twenty spiritual gifts. They are not from us, so we cannot take credit for them. They are from God and they are used to build up the body of Christ and do God’s work in the world. Sometimes some of you come to me and say, “I felt like God was speaking directly to me through you.” And my response is always the same, “Really?” Because I am just me. It seems really weird that God would do that through me. But it’s out of God’s grace and God uses my messages to talk to you. My gift is used to build up the body of Christ. This is way more than natural ability. Sometimes it’s even more unbelievable because God would give us spiritual gifts in an area we don’t have any natural gifts in. Think about Moses for example. Moses comes to God, God calls Moses to go and lead people out of slavery into the Promised land. And Moses says to God, “Ugh, God, this is not going to be good because I stu,stu, stu, stutter. I can’t speak. I am not a good speaker.” God says, “No problem, I am still going to use you. I’ve chosen you.” And Moses says several arousing speeches in the book of Exodus, doesn’t he? So how does this happen? It’s supernatural gifts that is given by God to bless others. This is good news, isn’t it? That we can bless others by God’s grace! We can transform others’ lives by God’s grace! We are all gifted! But with this gifts, comes responsibility. Look with me the number 2. (slide) I need to discover my spiritual gifts. This is the responsibility that we all have. Do you have any favorite super hero? Anyone likes Spider man? In one of the comic books of Spider man, there was this line. Peter Parker was told with great power comes great responsibility. Now, what’s true for Spider man is true for Christ’ followers except Spider Man is not real by the way. But it’s true for all of us who are Christians. For Christ’ followers with great power comes great responsibility and the responsibility is that we need to discover our spiritual gifts. Look with me verses 8-11. (slide) To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. (slide) He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. (slide) Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.” 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 (NLT) So, God decides what you get. Nobody votes on that like church leadership council decision. We cannot decide what gifts we get. No, God decides. The Holy Spirit alone decides, so, we can’t take credit for this. So we need to discover our own spirits because God want us to use our gifts for the kingdom of God! We’ve got some opportunities to do that. Here’s how this works when in an ordinary situation, we need all these gifts. Pastor Rick Warren has a great illustration of this, and I want you to envision this. You might want to close your eyes and envision a dinner where seven people have come to somebody’s house for dinner. When the host is bringing out the desert, they trip and fall down, so the desert goes down all over the floor. And now the spiritual gifts get deployed. Some of you might be having a nightmare now because even just imagining it, it would kill you, right? So, envision each of this seven people using their spiritual gifts. The first person with the gift of mercy says, “Don’t feel bad. It could’ve happened to anybody.” Doesn’t it feel good? We need that person with mercy in our lives, right? And now the preacher says, “That’s what happened when you are not careful.” Haha, the preacher is using the gift of preaching. I am not sure this is the right time to use that gift though. And the person with the gift of serving says, “Let me help you clean that up!” Then the person with teaching gifts, they speak up “The reason you fell is because the desert was too heavy on one side.” They try to explain things. The person with the gift of exhortation says, “Next time, let’s serve the desert with the meal.” And the person with the gift of giving, I love those people, don’t you? They say, “Now I am going to go out and buy you another desert!” I love those people. The person with the gift of administration says, “Jim, why don’t you grab the mob and clean that up? Sue, why don’t you go get the wet towel and wipe the floor? Mary, help fix another desert right now. We will solve this problem.” Can you see how those gifts work together? And if you are the person carrying the desert, aren’t you delighted to be around those people with spiritual gifts? Maybe except for the preacher, right? We all need these gifts. So let me ask you. Have you discovered your spiritual gifts? Here are what I discovered. I discovered my spiritual in community with people in the church, just trying this and that, playing guitar for church, sharing messages with others. Just trying different things. And I love the moments when people come to tell me, “When you do this and that, that really draws me closer to God.” And my response is always “Really? Then I must have a spiritual gift there!” And you have gifts. Have you discovered it?
Now look with me number 3. (slide) 3. It is essential that I use my spiritual gifts! We need to know that we are gifted. That’s fun. We love that part. And we need to discover them. That’s really cool. But why do we do that? So we can use these gifts. We are needed. We are very important. And all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are needed at our church, our community, and the world! And hear me now. You are just as important as I am. Or anybody else. If you don’t use your spiritual gifts, that means we are wasting God’s precious resources for others! What a waste it is! We are cheating the body of Christ and we are cheating the community that needs you if we don’t discover and begin to use the gifts. Look with me the next verses. See how we need each other. (slide) But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” (slide) The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary… All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:18-22, 27 (NLT) Would you circle the two words, “Christ’ body” We are together the Christ’s body and everyone of us is part of it. Now think about the lofty title that has just been placed upon us. Who does the Holy Spirit say we are? We are the Christ’ body! Isn’t that unbelievable? Stop and think about for a moment. Look around. You are it. He is it! You are Christ’ body! We are Christ’ body together! What does this mean? This is a high and holy calling because Jesus no longer has his body here on earth. But, he has the church. So he does have his body here on earth. What does this mean? This means if Jesus wants the hungry people receive some food, Jesus has to find Jesus’ hands to feed the hungry! And who are the hands of Jesus? If Jesus wants to welcome somebody, he has to find you with the gift of hospitality to welcome them. If Jesus wants to teach kids how to read, then Jesus has to find somebody with the gift of teaching. What is your gift? Where is Jesus calling you to be in Christ’ body? What is your calling for your gifts? You are Christ’ body. Everyone of us is part of it. I am troubled when Christ’ body is not active. When Christ’ gifts are laying dormant. This holy discontent bothers me. Christ has no hands on earth, but yours. Would you do something for me? Would you look at your hands and would you look down your feet? And would you recognize Christ has no hands or feet on earth, but yours? It was Saint Teresa of Avila who wrote that Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on the earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes with which God looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which God walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which God bless all the world. Yours are the hands, the feet, the eyes. Yours are the body. Christ has no body now but you. If we don’t use our gifts on earth, Jesus cannot save the world. So, in the junk drawer, I found two Starbucks cards that I forgot that I had them. So I kept them in my car so that I won’t forget to use them. And one day Alexa was riding with me sitting in the passenger’s side. I gave one of the gift cards to her. “You can have it!” I was a very generous big sister. I can give you anything you want. I thought the card that I gave her had only $15 or something like that but actually, the card had $30! If I knew that the card had that much money, I wouldn’t have given that to her. Just kidding. Anyway, Alexa was so happy to have the card. The free gift of $30 gives her nice treats with Starbucks coffee. Our gifts are like that. Use our gifts that are freely given to us. Use them for God and others. Use them. Open your junk drawer and find your gifts, and use them! We are the feet, hands, eyes of God. Thanks be to God!