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Jan 29, 2023

Prepared for Purpose 04

Prepared for Purpose 04

Speaker: James Gallaher

Series: Prepared for Purpose

Category: Sunday Morning

What is the purpose of that rough piece of wood?

We are looking at a piece of black walnut that looks unfinished and looks like it doesn't have any value. We can compare ourselves with this product and what it means to have value no matter where we start. Then as we strip the wood and shape it, we can compare ourselves to the process of transformation as we remove what shouldn't be there. God has built gifts into our lives and when submitted to the power of the Holy Spirit fruit will be produced. 

Romans 12:3-6 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.

What does it look like to exercise a gift that God has placed in our lives?

The churches in Rome and Corinth were experiencing the gifts and growing. But along with growth comes struggles. If God is transforming us, the enemy will come against us. Jesus said in John 16:33... In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. We should not fear tribulation that comes with transformation, but rather embrace it as something already conquered through the cross of Jesus Christ. 

With change happening, two problems with the church in those times were that 1) people would assign values to specific gifts and, 2) people were attempting to use the gifts separated from the whole.

When we jump in with our gifts without submitting them to God, we tend to break under pressure. We must be submitted to the Holy Spirit's work in us to be pliable to His working and molding us for His purpose. God's Spirit working in us allows what little we have to be stretched for bigger purposes. This was happening to the early church... People were being transformed and the world noticed. Individuals would try to do things and use their gifts on their own but the transformation of an individual (like in a piece of wood) does not have much function on its own. They missed the goal of transformation. We too after being transformed can misinterpret God's purpose. The body of Christ malfunctions when we emphasize one gift over another and use our gifts on our own. 

I Corinthians 12:1-6 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.

Four spiritual truths to being a part of the body of Christ:

1) We are to recognize variety. Verse 4-6 It is important that we recognize that God has created each one of us for a work in the Kingdom of God. We are all gifted in different areas. We should be encouraging each other in our areas of gifting but sometimes we tend to make people inferior to their gift. We need to call out giftings that lean into God's equipping and encourage each other to good deeds to benefit the Kingdom of God. We need to recognize variety and encourage each other in them. 

2) We are to emphasize unity. Verse 12-14 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one SpiritFor the body is not one member, but many. Paul is comparing the church to the body with its many parts to the many spiritual gifts given. The purpose is not to use our gifts on our own. God's purpose is for gifts to work together in unity - allowing our lives to be brought together.

Sometimes our focus on diversity in the world tends to separate us as individuals instead of uniting. Paul is saying that as Christians, our diversity should create unity and we should be as one in the body of Christ. It is so destructive to divide lines. John 13:34-35 I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another. The church needs to emphasize unity not uniformity. We are given gifts to use in the functioning of the church. Beware of the enemy manipulating us. 

3) We are to maximize equality. Verses 15-20 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has arranged the parts, each one of them in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But now there are many parts, but one body. We are each valuable in the church. Paul talks to the people who thought their gifts were not valuable or important. He emphasizes value in each one - God has a purpose in each one's life. Your gift may look different than others but is valuable to God's work. 

4) We are to minimize self-sufficiency. Verses 21-25 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again, the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those parts of the body which we consider less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor, and our less presentable parts become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable parts have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same care for one another. Paul shows the other side and speaks to those who think they don't need anyone as they elevate their gift. These still need others to operate in unity. We need accountability and each other. God created us to be dependent on each other. Genesis 2:18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” God created us to need others. Notice the gap in Adam's life - "not good" happened before sin. Church is not about checking a box; church is about God providing for the most intimate need in our lives. The picture of unity is throughout the Bible. When we allow God to weld us together with others, He creates something strong. It is an amazing process of how God works to create valuable masterpieces!

You have value. Find your place. Bear each other's burdens. 

Have you found a place for your gifting? 

Explain the difference between unity and uniformity.

In what ways have you experienced unity without uniformity?

Has your gifting been hard to see as valuable? Why?