I’ve got to tell you I am so excited about this series, just looking at the last few weeks and seeing what God has been doing here in our church, I just can’t wait to see what he’s going to do with this God has been speaking to me on this theme for a while now and I hope that throughout this series each of you will feel as encouraged as I have.
What it’s all about//
So let me start by telling you what it’s all about. We’ve called it ‘we are One & Many’ – which comes from the verse in 1 Corinthians:
The Body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all it’s parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.’ 1 Corinthians 12:12
We are all ‘one’s’ aren’t we – all individuals, and together as the many of us, we form One church, or one community. We could also take it a step further and say there are many individual churches that build up the One body of Christ… anyway you get the point, we are one and many on many diff levels.
The bible talks in several places about giftings, or how God gifts us and we are going to be looking at these passages over the coming weeks, but the essential message is that “We are One and Many’ - We are ONE - ie: we are unique, ourselves - but also that we are MANY - many individuals together. Many individuals make ONE whole - one church. So we celebrate our uniqueness but also that those unique gifts make us able to work together as one body. All the needs provided for the whole through the individuals. We all have a part to play but we’re part of something bigger.
So I just want to start by giving you an idea of how this is going to work. So this series will run until the beginning of December. It will encompass teaching on Sunday mornings, and there are small group sessions that go alongside the teaching If you are not in a small group we’d encourage you to get in one – lists at info point – great way to learn together and support each other… However I know that for some of you that is hard – work etc – and so we’ve put all the info on our funky new website – if you got to the ‘latest teaching’ button on the homepage it will bring you to the series page – there are links from there to all you need. There is also a resource list on there.
Towards the end of the teaching we are going to have the opportunity to hear a range of different talks on Sunday mornings too. This whole series about us working together, recognising who and what we have on our church so on those sundays we are going to hear from people who are not normally out the front (although there will be some of us too!), sharing their gifts with you. You will have a choice of who to go and hear. We will be seeking God together, as individuals and for each other, in church, by ourselves and in our small groups.
So resources… I have asked those leading those sessions to make some recommendations for further material, so for example we’ve got books on various different gifts if you have an interest in one area. There’s also a general section on giftings. It’s a comprehensive list, so don’t look at it and think argh that’s too much, it's for you to dip into if you want to. And I know how busy some of you are, and not everyone is a book fan so there are also some videos and talks on there too. And there’s some secular stuff too, to give a broader look at the subject, so just have a look and see what takes your fancy. If you cant get online and need a printed copy of this just let me know.
So the one thing we do want you all to get if you can is this book… talk about it…. And questionnaire, why chosen etc.
Being gifted //
I think the term gifted can have negative connotations, let me explain
At my daughters old school they had a programme called ‘gifted and talented’, I think a similar thing is run in lots of schools and I have to be honest, I have mixed feelings about it.
Firstly I don’t like the name, ‘the gifted and talented programme’ - it implies that only these kids are gifted and talented, when the truth is, that we all are gifted, just in different ways.
So Basically it takes kids who are already gifted and makes them more so, or it offers them opportunities to become better at something they are already good at.
This annoys me because I’d like to see others having these opportunities. Many kids would develop an interest in something or a love of something if they just had the opportunity. I hated sport at school, I wasn’t terrible I just wasn’t one of the best, so I never got picked for teams and or to go to extra training. But as an adult I started a womens cricket team and I learned that I love running... That was missed at school.
So what I’m saying is that this series is about opportunity, that just because you don’t know you’re gifted in an area, doesn’t mean you aren’t – here’s your chance to find out about areas you might not have considered before
On the other hand, last year at my sons school there was a debate amongst the parents last year about who would be picked for the first team in football and rugby. One group of mums said that their boys weren’t getting a fair go because they never got picked for the team whilst the other group said, our boys are best at football so that’s why they are chosen. Now you could take this 2 ways. You could say everyone should have a go, or you can say, they are playing to win and the best boys should be picked. After all, as one of the mums said to me, my son is not academic, but he is good at football. He wouldn’t get picked for a spelling challenge or a maths competition for the school and I wouldn’t expect him to - the kids who get picked for that are the ones who are best at spelling or maths. So why should it be different for football?
So what is my point?
We’re all gifted in different ways and there is no point in trying to be like someone else who has a gift that you want. We ARE all different. We need to recognize that! We are ALL gifted and talented. We all have different giftings, different talents, different ways of doing things and that’s how it should be! Gosh how boring would it be, and how difficult to get things done if we were all good at the same things! So we need to recognise that we are different and that some of us have gifts in areas others don’t, but equally we need to know what those gifts are - and we need opportunities to find out.
So lets look at the ‘One’//
You know I stand here and look out and I see a bunch of amazing people! And I mean ALL of you! God has made you all in exactly the way he wanted. You are all completely unique. and different. So you have different likes and dislikes, you have different characteristics, you come from different places, work in different places you are perfectly unique, AND we are all gifted differently too.
The bible says we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ Psalm 139 –
Lets look at that from the message version which puts it slightly differently:
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.
I wonder how many of us can say that about ourselves – that we actually believe that we are marvelously made? Do you think of yourself that way – like a work of art, carefully sculpted and created? Because that is the truth! God has created us all to be who we are. Unique and gifted individuals. That’s the first thing we need to take on board – that we are special to God – do you know who you are in Christ? Truly?
And part of the way he has created each of us, is with gifts. Gifts given from a loving heavenly father, gifts that will shape our lives gifts, that will help is to shape other peoples lives, gifts that will lead us along paths we had never imagined possible.
Who has seen the Narnia movies? Or read the books obviously? There’s a great bit in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, where Father Christmas shows up and gives the kids a present each. Each one is different, personal to the child, but each one also has a use as he explains to them and their part in it. Eg: Lucy dagger. Not in the battle. In the book, he also hands them a tray of hot tea, which I don’t think made it to the movie. Buts it’s a great illustration of the gifts God gives to us as individuals, with a purpose for each. But I like the tea too, because it shows that gifts are not just for a purpose but to show love and compassion, kindness, and here of a shared need – sitting in the rapidly thawing snow, cold, probably hungry after a long journey and here is something to warm them up. Spiritual gifts from God are not just for purpose but to enrich our lives… Does that make sense?
So, the many//
So we are individuals, fearfully and wonderfully made, but we are also part of a whole, part of the body. We are united in our love of Jesus, and in this church. Throughout planning for this series, God has been speaking to me about recognising the gifts and the amazing people we have in this church. As we are moving into this new season in our church it is going to be so important for us to work together, as a family, a community, not just the leadership team telling you what we’re doing and where we are going but we are on this journey together and we all have a part to play in it.
Later in 1 Cor 12: 17
17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
God has placed them, just as he wanted to be – if you’re in this church, not by chance or accident, it’s because God wants you here. Simple as that! So what’s your role? What’s your gift? What’s your place?
Thoughts on series// diff people…
Well, I think there will probably be some of you sat there thinking well I know what my gifts are and I’m using them, or maybe you’ve heard teaching on giftings before. But I would like to say to you, this is a new season for all of us. For us as a church specifically, and we are walking into the future of The Point together - So maybe God wants to talk to you about using your gifts in a new way in this season? Or perhaps he has a different plan for you, or maybe even he wants to gift you in a new and exciting way. So let’s all be open to hearing what he has to say through this series.
Then I think there will be some of you who maybe have an idea or an inkling of how God has gifted you but perhaps you are not sure what to do with it, or don’t know how to develop that gifting, or maybe you are sensing a new season for you... Well now is your chance to learn more, or get some training, really step into what God has for you...
And lastly, if you are sitting there thinking well I haven’t got a clue what you are talking about, or I don’t have any idea if God has gifted me, then this series is definitely for you! You can learn, listen and seek God. God has a plan and purpose for every single one of us!
So... this series is for all of us - as individuals and as part of the body. We are one and we are many.
Why are gifts given? ///
I was quite interested in why gifts are given to people and I think there are 4 reasons:
1: Honouring 2: Occasion 3: Purpose/need 4: Love
Let’s look at why we give gifts...
As an honour - a way of honouring other people. For example
You know when a foreign digniatry visits a member of the royal family they always bring a gift. Sometimes they can seem completely bizarre...
So for example during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II she has received the following:
she has received lacrosse sticks, sunglasses, a pair of sandals, pineapples, eggs, a box of snail shells, a grove of maple trees, a dozen tins of of tuna and 7kg of prawns.
Probably the most unusual of all the gifts that have been presented to The Queen are the many live animals.
These include several horses,
among them a canary from Germany, jaguars and sloths from Brazil, two black beavers from Canada, two young giant turtles from the Seychelles and an elephant called Jumbo from the Cameroon.
(And unlike our worldy royalty, who send off many of their gifts, to an appropriate place, an animal to a zoo, ancient boat to the British Museum and so on. Our gifts from our heavenly Father are not bizarre or to be put in a glass cabinet or given away, they are perfect and good gifts, for a heavenly purpose.) so we can honour him in using those gifts
Who you are is God's gift to you, what you do with yourself is your gift to God.Danish proverb
Birthday, celebration, anniversary. as a token of celebration, also a token of love. Marking an occasion. A reminder of something good that has happened
So for example we might mark the arrival of a new baby with something like a tankard or some silverware - something for life but a reminder of that moment.
How about in a more Christian sense, at baptism, the Pastor prays for people to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism... and at confirmation, the Bishop does the same.
My Dad for example for my childhood his Christmas list consisted of pants and socks, and the odd item for his toolbag.
Things with a purpose. Things with a use. Also benefited others.
Tokens of love
Just something to show a person you care – might also be for an occasion, but it shows your love. For example an item of jewellery. And sometimes we can be quite ungrateful can’t we? Phil once bought me a ring, which I only wore once or twice and it was only when we sold it at a carboot in the summer that he told me how much it actually cost! I felt slightly bad about that…!
Anyway… point is gifts can be a token of love
Receive in the same vein that its given…
So why does God gift us - I think all of those above. Above all because he loves us but sometimes it’s for a purpose - if he has a task for us to do he will give us all that we need to accomplish it.
So why does God give us these gifts? In James 1 it says this:
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
Or Luke 12
32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Mathew 7:9-11
It is in Gods nature to gift us, he created us to be different but these are also gifts, pleasurable things from our father.
Some gifts are life long, they go with us through thick and thin – others may be used just for a time - for a purpose, a season...
And of course the most amazing gift of all is Gods GRACE – which is there for all of us, the most amazing gift to us all. We don’t deserve it but we get it anyway.
So let’s have a look at what I mean when I am talking about spiritual gifts or how God has gifted you…
Not talking about talents…
The passages that we are looking at throughout this series specifically refer to different spiritual giftings, for example did you know being a good administrator’ is a gift from God, one I’m particularly delighted by – always joke about admin being boring, although I happen to be good at it, but since discovering that I’ve looked at it in a different light.
Or how about being a good encourager: Exhortation/ Encouragement The divine enablement to present truth so as to strengthen, comfort or urge to action those who are discouraged or wavering in their faith. Mentioned in
Or the five fold leadership giftings mentioned in Ephesians 4:
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 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.
Christ gave these roles, in order to build up his people, to serve the body of Christ, UNTIL we all reach unity in the faith and……
Often bible tells us what its for or how it should be used… like eph 4.
Also list of gitings on the website – ones mentioned in these passages plus a few others that Bruce Bugbee uses in his book, to provide consistency. So something he uses is the gift of craftsmanship – look at exodus, building of the temple, Exodus 31:
31 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.
Are you a creative type?
AIM// FINISH WITH THIS
I have a real desire. God has really put on my heart this sense of us all walking in the fullness of who God has made us to be. I want to encourage people, I want to see people realising who God made them to be, what God is calling them to, what plans he has for them, how he has gifted them. It’s no good standing there thinking I wish I could sing like Julie, or I wish I could preach like Will, or I wish I could do that.... This IS ABOUT WHO YOU ARE. We need to think, who has God made me to be - how has he made ME? what does he have planned for me.
This church has over 250 names on the books and yet there is a fairly small number of people who really engage with it and us with you TBH. Now this isn’t a guilt-fest why are you not on a team, type talk. It’s a rally cry to your heart - are you fulfilling your potential. I look around this hall and I see so much potential. I see people who have such a heart to care for people, to help people, to just be there with people. I see dynamic, fired up people who just want to share the gospel wherever they go, I see people who have a gift for teaching, who can make the most confusing things seem so simple and accessible. There are people here who God has given a passion to all kinds of crazy things and yet somewhere, somehow those passions get stuck, or perhaps are not yet even realised.
How many of you feel like you are not fulfilling your purpose here on this earth? how many of you feel like you don’t know what your purpose is - are you just putting one foot in front of the other and just keep going...?
Let's embrace this…