Sermon 7/19/2015 Pentecost 8

8TH Sunday after Pentecost – July 19, 2015 Pastor Don Ninmer
I Corinthians 12:4?11

“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. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determined.”

We know that in a family there are a variety of gifts. One person is good at one thing. Another person is good at something else. One of the family members can raise beautiful plants. Another one has difficulty getting weeds to grow. One member of a family can draw beautiful pictures, another has difficulty drawing a stick man. One can run fast and has all kinds of medals and ribbons, the other stumbles over the lines on a basketball court.

And there are times when one of the family members says, why can’t you be like your brother? Why can’t you be more like you sister? Why can’t you be more like your cousin? The father wants his son to be the star quarterback on the football team. He can only throw a football for six feet. The mother wants her daughter to be the soloist on the high school choir. She can’t carry a tune. Parents say or think: the neighbor’s kid is the starting quarterback on the football team or the lead singer in the school musical what happened to mine?

Sometimes this thinking carries over into the church. We expect every member of the church to be able to do everything that there is to do in the church. Not everyone can be congregational chairman or serve on a board or committee. Not everyone can sing in the church choir. Not everyone can lead a youth group or teach Sunday School.

There was a congregation where a man was nominated and elected as treasurer. He had no book keeping skills. At the end of the year nothing on the annual report added up. There was a congregation where a man was elected as congregation chairman. He had no leadership skills and did not know how to conduct a meeting or what parliamentary procedure was. There were some long and confusing meeting.

There was a church where the organist was not even a good pianist. Those who knew music cringed every time that they heard the organ. There was a congregation in which a lady had a terrible voice. Yet she wanted to sing lead soprano. There was a church where the Sunday School Teacher did not particularly care for children, and yet wanted to teach Sunday School.

But these things should not surprise us. In fact we should expect them because in our text for today the Lord tells us that this will be the case. That is the real lesson that Paul brings to us in

all of I Corinthians 12. In the words after our text he tells us: The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free. Paul is saying that the Holy Christian Church, the total of all those who believe in Jesus, is made up of different people, of many different nationalities with many different skills and abilities.

But in our text Paul shows that this is also the case in a congregation of believers. He says:

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. He points out that in a Christian congregation there are different kinds of gifts. There are different kinds of abilities. There are different kinds of skills. Yet the key here is that he says: But the same God works all of them in all men.

Then if you read on he says: Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. He then lists the special gifts that were given to the church at that time. We are not going to talk about them individually. Please remember that these were gifts that people needed in the church of that time and that they were given by the Lord.

Here is the list: The message of wisdom...to another the message of knowledge...to another faith...to another gifts of healing...to another miraculous powers...to another prophecy...to another distinguishing between spirits...to another speaking in different kinds of tongues. These were the gifts that were needed by the church of that time.

While we are not going to speak about them individually, we note what Paul says of all of them:

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines. Where do these gifts come from? Paul answers that: All these are the work of one and the same Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives different gifts to different people so that the message of salvation will be preached.

Do you suppose there were some in the church that said, Apollos over there has so many gifts. He has such knowledge. He can even speak in foreign languages. Pricilla has such gifts. Look at the fine art work that she made for the church. When we have a church supper, no one can top her casserole. Look how she can teach the little kids. And Amos ? what a beautiful voice as he leads us in singing.

In our Scripture lessons for today, we saw how Jesus sent out the disciples to preach the message of salvation. Did they all have the same ability? Of course not! Yet each served faithfully in the church. Amos recalled how God called him when he was just a shepherd boy and God used his abilities to carry His message to the people. In I Timothy Paul reminds us again that certain abilities are required for certain positions in the church. But all have some skill or ability that God can use in his church.

So what skill do you have? Could you serve on the church council? Could you serve on another board of committee? Could you build something for the church? Could you usher? Could you be a greeter? Could you sing in the choir? Could you teach Sunday school? Could you clean the

church? Could you read to the kids in school? Could you assist with office work? Could you visit the people who are not able to get to church?

We could go on and on, listing all the ways we can serve in the church. If we made a list of all the things that people do in the church for the love of Jesus, it would be a long, long list. Do you want me to list them all now? I am not going to. Instead I will just remind you that you have some skill or ability which God has given to you. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. What gifts has God given to you? Are you using them in the church?