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Sunday: Differing Gifts ~ United in Service — 16 Comments

  1. In the last couple of years, we have had to put up with a road rebuilding project on the major highway between us and our local major shopping center. This is one of the most heavily trafficked roads in the country as it is the major highway between Sydney and Brisbane. When they first built it a few years ago, it was a divided highway with two lanes on each side and it now needed to be widened to three lanes per side. The logistics of the rebuild was horrendous. They had to rebuild it and at the same time support the heavy traffic flow. Essentially they had to rebuild the highway twice. We followed the progress of this roadworks closely, mainly because every time we wanted to buy something more complicated than groceries we had to travel through this section of road. It was a bit of a nuisance because they reduced the speed on that section of the raod from 110kph to 80kph

    What impressed me the most was the complexity of the task. hundreds of men were employed, Surveyors, heavy machinery operators, supply chain organisers, men with shovels, women who held stop/go signs, planners, jack-hammer operators, engineers, environmental scientists, and so on.

    They must have worked well together because they finished the project about 6 months ahead of time and a couple of months ago, they officially opened the rebuilt road and we can now travel at full speed to our shopping centre.

    How do you get so many people to work together on such a complex task? We do a surprisingly good job of managing these tasks. If you want to be impressed, go to Youtube and watch some of the videos of building cruise liners, or A380 Airbuses. Each of these projects employs hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people with a wide range of skills, working together with one purpose in mind, to get the job done.

    Spiritual lesson coming up: How do we get the Gospel commission project done? Can we learn something from the engineers? Working together requires multiple skills and recognizing the strengths of each participant.

    And here is a little corollary for the current situation. In the last few months, many of us have had to take individual control of our spiritual lives because of the social distancing and isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. That is probably a good thing in one respect, but we may need to think about the role of Church organization in helping us to work together as a team utilizing our special skills to advantage. Teamwork is demonstrably important in engineering projects. Is spreading the Gospel all that different?

    You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”: apostles prophets teachers miracle workers healers helpers organizers those who pray in tongues. But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts. But now I want to lay out a far better way for you. 1 Cor 12:28 MSG

    • Thank you Maurice. If I might add; none of this happens by accident as you well know. It takes good leadership (Christ), good planning and preparation before the project begins or it would just turn into chaos. It all begins on paper (computers now) with a design, a strategy and finally, coordinated execution. Those down the line do not always see or have access to the “big picture” as it were but they perform their tasks with the skills they possess and have refined through practice over the years.

    • Thanks for the great analogy of road engineering works and Holy Spirit work on believers and in constructing and repairing his Church.
      Grander scale Motivated by Eternal Matters

    • There's an old saying here in US, "TEAMWORK makes the DREAM work." However, and sadly, we still have a lot of people in the church that want to be the Leader, and want a pat on the back for all of their Hard Works. They do not want to work behind the scenes, they want to be out front where everyone can see their Good Works. Maybe this could be part of the problem that we as a church can not finish the Gospel Commission that Jesus gave us to do.

      I learned a long time ago, you can not be a Good Leader until you learn how to be a Good Follower. We have too many Chiefs and not enough Indians; we need Gospel Warriors (plain folks) that are ready to go to battle to finish the Gospel Commission, of spreading God's Word to all nations. I told my Sabbath School class many years ago that we are the reason why Jesus has not come, because we have not finished the work that He has given us to do. But one day, Jesus is not going to wait any longer; He is going to STAND UP and say:
      "11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
      12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be."

      Are you willing to be an regular Indian for the Lord? A person that is willing to be used in any capacity that is needed to get the Job done? Let us all take our STAND and pledge now (even during this crisis) to do whatever is needed to finish God's work on the Earth.

      God Bless you all!

  2. Eph 4:12 KJV gives 3 reasons for differing spiritual gifts:
    1) perfecting the saints
    2) for the work of ministry
    3) for the edifying of the body of Christ

    I understand that spiritual gifts are given to reach unbelievers but their purpose does not end when they first believe, they still need to develop into mature Christians. Jesus said make disciples, teaching them all my words for they are life.

    So I believe that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do personal witnessing and to fulfill various functions within the body of Christ.

  3. This is a great study. As I read the posts, I see I may really have a gift or talent this Church would admire. I am beginning to feel like part of an extended family...Thank you so much! 🙂

    • Hi John. So glad that you feel part of this extended family. And it is interesting to see someone who shares their journey and search for truth and understanding with us.

      • Maurice:

        Thank you! Yes, it has been an interesting journey-I have "been" Catholic, Lutheran. studied in Reform Synagogue, and a few others I can't even seem to remember! But with SDA it feels totally different for me-the questions in my mind-have seemed to have been answered here at SDA teachings...I am perplexed why it took me so long-but maybe The Spirit is using me (as imperfect as I am) to understand these other faiths I had been with to be able to witness? I don't know but I am surely excited for my new learnings with the SDA Church! 🙂 And you are quite a learned Scripture scholar sir-I enjoy your posts and learn so much from your perspectives-I highly admire you sir! 🙂

    • Hey John;

      Agree - this is a really great study and one that we each need to personally understand so we can be effective in reflecting Christ's character to the world by using the gifts He has given us.
      Gifts and talents used to glorify our Creator are always welcomed and enjoyed.
      Do you think that the talents that you have are the same thing as the spiritual gift that is promised to each one of us??
      I have some musical talent and also I am mechanically inclined, but they are not what I believe my spiritual gift(s) is.

      • Hi Philip -
        Hoping to provide an answer to your question. James 1:17 -The Holy Spirit gives gifts - God given abilities - to all of us; they are developed in the individual to different levels of excellence and are used for the benefit of others.
        Isaiah 11:1-5 speaks about the Spirit of the LORD coming to rest on Jesus to give the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding; the spirit of Counsel and Might; the spirit of Knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. These are gifts to be employed for spiritual matters.
        1Peter4:8-11 - all gifts are to be shared; 1Cor.12:1:14 - Talents are practical abilities. Gal.5:22,23 speaks to the Fruit of the Spirit. This spiritual Fruit is to form our new nature's emotional personality.
        All in all, through submitting all that we are to the Holy Spirit, we are being transformed into the image of God.

  4. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father that is in heaven. Matt 5:16.

    'The power of speech is a talent that should be diligently cultivated. Of all the gifts we have received from God, none is capable of being a greater blessing than this. With the voice we convince and persuade, with it we offer prayer and praise to God, and with it we tell others of the Redeemer’s love. How important, then, that it be so trained as to be most effective for good.' {COL 335.2}

    Learning, talents, eloquence, every natural or acquired endowment, may be possessed; but without the presence of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched, no sinner be won to Christ. On the other hand, if they are connected with Christ, if the gifts of the Spirit are theirs, the poorest and most ignorant of His disciples will have a power that will tell upon hearts. God makes them the channel for the outworking of the highest influence in the universe. {COL 328.1}

    'When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Ephesians 4:8. “Unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ,” the Spirit “dividing to every man severally as He will.” Ephesians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 12:11. The gifts are already ours in Christ, but their actual possession depends upon our reception of the Spirit of God. {COL 327.2}

    'The special gifts of the Spirit are not the only talents represented in the parable. It includes all gifts and endowments, whether original or acquired, natural or spiritual. All are to be employed in Christ’s service.{COL 328.2}
    'Every temporal blessing would be received with gratitude, and every spiritual blessing become doubly precious because the perception of each member of the household had become sanctified by the Word of truth'... {CG 149.1}

    As a child, I had wanted to have a certain career. As I grew that career became difficult to obtain. I decided to take other classes for other careers, but the Lord brought me back to the former career that I had wanted. I then went on studying in that field. I finished at a certain level, satisfied and happy. Never went a day without work. People usually call me a life long learner. Presently, I am doing a certificate course.
    Many years ago I said I will not do anything major in life without consulting God for guidance. I was asking God if I should cont studying in my career or not, I was not going to do it before I got the answer from him. After a while, I heard a voice saying to me that I should go and preach. That stopped me in my tracks. My career has nothing to do with preaching, not even close. I then began to ask the Lord, the where, the how the when, etc. I do not know how to go and preach but the same voice who told me that, when he is ready will empower me from above. Jesus never went to the school of the prophets to preach or be empowered. So I think Jesus will guide me but he is smoothing up some edges in me now.
    Pray for me.

  5. For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not evil, to give you an expected end Jer 29:11

    Bro John, I am so glad the way the Holy Spirit is guiding you, He has never made a mistake. He is taking you step by step in the way moving you from place to place-religion to religion for a reason, nothing happens before time. I am not telling you to denounce your church, the Holy Spirit will do his part, his perfect work in you. He that started the work in you and others will bring it to completion. You can read, if not already about Martin Luther. He was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, Augustinian monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. Luther was ordained to the priesthood in 1507.
    Born: November 10, 1483, Eisleben, Germany
    Died: February 18, 1546, Eisleben, Germany
    He wrote the '95 theses' and nailed it to the church door. He was the founder of the Lutheran religion. Do you know it was providential that the Holy Spirit took you through the same journey as he did in terms of RC to Lutheran?

    The just shall live by faith and faith alone in God.

    • Thank you so much for that post...wow-I never thought of it that way. That has inspired me to continue on this path and study as I have been. There is a reason I think as to why I have been led this way-and will continue to let the Spirit do the work. I am enjoying this "ride" I am on! 🙂

      • Hi John, having grown up in the SDA belief, it’s refreshing to have you sharing your discovering this for the first time. It’s amazing how God leads each of us and the direction we are taken through our life. Your question earlier of why you hadn’t learned of our beliefs before this time, made this text come to mind
        John 16:12 - I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
        Perhaps all the things you learned before, were necessary for you to understand what you are learning now. We serve an amazing God, and He knows each of us intimately, and knows when and where to lead us. Enjoy your study of Gods word.

  6. Many times projects are given a name. What is/are the names(s) of the project we have been called to work on together? Are there several projects going on at the same time? If so, what is the overarching project that all other projects are part of?

    The context to show where the work - LIFE - takes place:
    God has called us out of this materially focused and governed world, offering us a different world, a spiritually guided world to live in. All who have accepted are now part of God's project and are workers in it; it's overarching name is 'GOD RECONCILING THE WORLD UNTO HIMSELF'. The other project we are involved in is related to 'on-the-job-training'; its name is 'RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH' or 'SANCTIFICATION'.

    To equip ourselves to live successfully in this materially focused world we went to school to educate our minds, learn special skills and develop a strategy to employ everything we have learned to maintain our physical life successfully. The happiest in their profession are usually those who are early on aware of their talents, their passions, and the field of work they wanted to use them in.
    Being now participants in the spiritual work of Salvation, our education focuses on the spiritual aspect of the use of our talents and gifts as we employ them in the work toward the completion of the project - to show the world the need for being reconciled to God.

    I do not know if 'God delights in taking people of different backgrounds', but I know that He chooses those which He finds suitable to be included in the work of His project. He conceived the idea, He designed the project, functions as its Project Manager as well as the head of the Human resource office which is tasked with hiring the right people to do the work.
    God knows us intimately; He knows everything about us. We are tasked to use our already existing 'talents/personality trades', augmented by His spiritual gifts toward the completion of the overarching project - 'Salvation'; which is Reconciliation to God - the process as well as the project's goal.

    As Maurice so vividly explained, it is quite awe-inspiring to contemplate the complexity as one watches a project grow toward completion. Everyone is affected by it and can observe the project's progress, but not everyone can fully appreciate the reasons why the project was commenced, the exclusiveness of the quality of the organization and the qualification process of its workforce; but it takes all aspects, observable and invisible, to work in unison to bring the project to a successful completion.

    Eph.2:8-22 - We are called to be fellow participants in this marvelous, awe-inspiring work of the Salvation of mankind - to give ourselves completely to the project of God RECONCILING THE WORLD UNTO HIMSELF.

  7. I would like to comment on the final question for today. Our “proper place” is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and understanding with all the saints the full measure of the love of Christ(Eph 3:16-19). Exhibiting this love to all others is our “proper place”, not comparing ourselves with the abilities of others. All who are “meek and lowly of heart” like Jesus will be like Jesus, who “made himself of no reputation”, but served in a selfless manner(Phil 2:5-8). Looking to Jesus, not at others, will give us victory over all pride, selfishness, and love of the world. Besides, do we really believe that our “talents/gifts” are actually OURS(Gal 2:20)? Keeping our eyes upon Jesus will fix all wrong ideas in our thinking.

    God's Word is the lamp for our feet, that Word which was made flesh and lived among us.


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