Thursday, March 17, 2016

God's Gift Card for You

March is a big birthday month in our house. We not only have Lisa and Dylan's birthdays to celebrate but my Dad, brother, Lisa's sister and our nephew all have birthdays in March. 

In the U.S. there are literally thousands of gifts that you can get someone for their birthday.  There are so many choices that sometimes it can be overwhelming to get the right gift. Some ingenious person came up with something called the gift card. You go to a store and give the cashier an amount of money $10, $25, $50 and they hand you a little plastic card that you give to your friend as their gift. That $50 is on the card as a credit and your friend can take it back to the store and get $50 worth of merchandise just by presenting the card to the cashier.  The strange thing is the card is really only worth $50 if your friend uses it. If they put it in their wallet and never  use it then it is useless gift for them.

In 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6, Paul writes “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.:  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” And in Philippians 2:13 Paul reminds us: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” 

Because God is at work within us, we can accomplish His purposes. We try to instill in our Kenyan leaders that we minister differently because we’ve been gifted differently. The same God is at work in us, but He customizes His work through us for His ultimate glory and the strength of the church.

Let me illustrate. At dinner, suppose someone dropped a plate full of food on the ground. This is how people with different gifts may respond.

- Gift of prophecy…"That’s what happens when you’re not careful.”
- Gift of service…"Oh, let me help you clean it up.”
- Gift of teaching…The reason that it fell was because it was too heavy on one side.”
- Gift of exhortation… "Next time, maybe you should let someone else help you carry it.”
- Gift of giving… “Here, you can have my plate.”
- Gift of mercy…“Don’t feel too bad. It could have happened to anyone.”
- Gift of administration… “Job, would you get the broom? Pascal, please help pick this up."

We’ve all been gifted differently and so we act differently and we serve differently.

While it’s important to identify your gifts, it’s not enough. Gifts are given to be used. Verses 12-30 describe how the church is like the human body, with each part playing a critical role in the functioning of the body. You’ve been given gifts and a key role to play in this world. If you’re hoarding your gifts and not using them, the entire world is handicapped. 

Mwanajuma has grown up in our school and has now entered her first year of high school.  As a child she would lead the children's choir and sing solos. Now that she is older she has joined the women of Injili Baptist Church as part of the usher ministry. She said to Lisa, "I just love my church and want to serve God here." She is just one example of the servant hearts of our Kenyan people. We want them to serve because they love to serve not because it is their duty.  

The gifts of the Spirit are tools not to admire, but to be used. They are not medals to be won, or trophies to be displayed, or treasures to be guarded. Use them! Do you need to allow the Spirit to fan your gift into full flame? Are you burning bright for Him, or are you just flickering or smoldering?

You’re needed in this world! God has gifted you and now He wants to use you. Don’t allow yourself to think you don’t matter. Nobody is a nobody in the body of Christ. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

The Holy Spirit has given you a GIFT CARD with a special gift but it only does someone good when you decide to use it.