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Monday, August 5, 2019

Transformers, The Spiritual Gifts

When I was a kid, one of my favorite toys/shows was The Transformers.  It was a cartoon about alien robots that came to earth who could transform from robots into a cars, jets, construction equipment, even dinosaurs.  The Autobots were the good guys who fought against the evil Decepticons who were trying to steal the earth's energy resources.  Each individual robot had special powers and characteristics that made them an important asset to the team.  Plus, the individual robots could combine together into a super robot.  It was a cool show, at least for a 8-year-old boy!  Click here to see a trailer for the 80s TV series cartoon!

I was thinking about the transformers a few months ago and meditating on how the Holy Spirit of God transforms us.  Because of what Christ did for us on the cross, Christians are transformed. We’re not robots, but the Holy Spirit transforms us from our old sinful ways into new creations, with a new nature and new power to serve God.  Part of that transformation is receiving special abilities and powers to serve God and make a difference in this world.  We call these special abilities spiritual gifts.  The Apostle Paul teaches about them in the Bible.

Romans 12:6-8
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Lists of Spiritual Gifts
The spiritual gifts come from the Holy Spirit.  We are born with some of our talents.  However, the Holy Spirit can enhance a talent you already have so that it becomes a great asset to the Kingdom of God.  The Holy Spirit can even bless you with a talent you’ve never ever had before.  Maybe you were not born a natural leader or with a great singing voice or the ability to read and understand and tech Scripture.  However, through the power of the Holy Spirit, God can enable you to do these things and many others.  It is a gift from God through the Holy Spirit to all who follow Jesus Christ as Lord.

The Bible offers several different lists of Spiritual Gifts. Romans 12:6-8 lists seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 4:11 lists five.  1 Corinthians 12:8-10 lists nine.  1 Corinthians 12:28-30 (the same chapter) list 8.  The Apostle Paul offered each of these lists.. The fact Paul gives numerous lists with differing gifts is a clue that the specific number and types of gifts is not important. Here's what's really important that we need to know.

First of all, no gift is better than any other; and no person is better than another.  When talking about spiritual gifts, the Apostle Paul reminds the Church that we are a body.  Some people are hands and some people are feet and some people are eyes, etc.  In order for the body to function properly, it takes all the parts working properly.  1 Corinthians 12:21, “The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”  We are all essential to the body and we ought to appreciate everyone for the vital roles they play in the work of the Church.

Second, there is a division of labor in the Church.  No one person is supposed to do all the work.  The Holy Spirit intentionally equips different people with different gifts so that we all have to work together to accomplish the mission of the Church.  If the hand keeps trying to be an eye, the Church will be blind and have no vision.  If the feet keep trying to be hands, we will stumble and fall.  In order for the Church to be most effective, all the different parts need to do what God called them to do.

Third, the gifts of the Spirit are not for individual advancement. They build up the whole Church.  Perhaps Holy Spirit gave you the special gift of a great singing voice.  Then, you should use that gift for the glory of God, not your own glory.  You should use the gift of music to build up the Church and accomplish God’s mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  Did the Holy Spirit give you the gift of preaching or teaching or fixing things or healing or administration?  Whatever gift the Holy Spirit gave you, He gave it so you could use it for the Kingdom of God, not your own selfish benefit.  The Spiritual Gifts are for completing the work of the Kingdom.

Fourth, The Holy Spirit Lives Inside All Believers.  When you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside you.  Spiritual gifts are evidence of God’s grace working through our lives to benefit others. Our gifts are not for us. God intends us to use them for the good of His church. My gift is for you. Your gift is for me.  But the gifts are evidence of the supernatural power of the God of the universe working in our life.  They are an assurance that we truly are God's children destined for eternal life.

Now, there is something else I need to say here.  If Jesus is not your Lord and Savior, you don’t have the Holy Spirit.  You are not all you can be, all that God wants you to be.  You lack the power of God’s Holy Spirit in Your life.  If you’ve never decided to surrender to God, repent of your sins, and follow Jesus as your Lord, you have not received God’s forgiveness.  You have not yet received the gift of eternal life.  And you have not been filled with the Holy Spirit.  If that describes you, I pray you will make a decision to follow Jesus as your Lord today.  Then, He will save you and God will fill you with the power of the Holy Spirit.  And you will receive a gift from the Holy Spirit to help you serve in God’s Church.

Over the next several weeks, we will look at the seven gifts of the Spirit Paul lists in Romans 12:6-8.  My prayer is that through this, we will all find new insights into the way the Holy Spirit has equipped us to serve together.  I encourage you to take a spiritual gifts assessment to help discern how the Holy Spirit may have gifted you to serve in His Kingdom.  Here are a few you may try:

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