Chris Hodges - Spiritual Gifts
All right, who's glad to be in church today, anybody? Would you do me a favor at every campus? Come on, put your hands together. Come on, give Jesus some praise today. It's awesome, that's awesome. And welcome to week number four of the series that we call "By My Spirit," and I'll tell you more about that in just a second. But as always, let me take a moment and just look straight into that camera and say hello to all of our locations. We are one church that meets in 23 locations all across Alabama and right into Georgia, in Columbus, Georgia. And God bless every single one of you guys. And we've had an amazing 21 Days of Prayer with all of our campuses, and I want to say a big hello to the men and women in the Alabama Department of Corrections. I love you. We pray for you. We're so grateful, we consider it one of the greatest honors of our life as a church. Right, church? It's an honor to bring all that we are to church, into every one of those facilities that we have the privilege of being in.
And, or course, for all of you who are watching online for the variety of reasons, we're so glad we have the miracle of technology that makes that available, but there's nothing like being in the room. We're so grateful that you're with us. I will say, at the end of the service today we are going to receive communion together, and that's something we normally do on a Sunday. We normally reserve those for our first Wednesday services, and we'll have that again this coming Wednesday at first Wednesday. But just really felt led of God today to end our 21 Days of Prayer, as we did yesterday, with just a time of Communion.
So, if you're watching online, maybe go find some bread or a cracker and some juice, and you can join us, and we'll do that at the very end of the service. It's a very special time together. We're concluding a series today that we have brought to you to really talk about one of the values of the New Testament church, and that is the person, and the presence, and the power of the Holy Spirit, and we've used a verse out of Zechariah as our theme verse. In fact, we took the three words in this verse to really give us our series title, but this is a prophecy in the Old Testament about the New Testament church, and it's very, very critical for your life for a variety of reasons. And it goes like this, where "He said to me, 'This is the word of the LORD, Not by might..." In fact, let's read it all aloud together, starting with the word "Not". Every voice, here we go. "'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty".
So, there's the tendency for all of us to kind of live our lives with natural understanding, natural ability, and it can get you to a certain level, that God always intended for us to live Spirit-empowered lives. The word in the Hebrew there, the word "Spirit" is the word "ruach," and then in the Greek, New Testament, it's the word "pneuma," and both of them translate this invisible wind or this force of God that when you experience it, you know it's there. You may not be able to see it, but you know it's there, and it propels you. In fact, probably the best translation for the word is the "breath of God". It's just God empowering you to live a life beyond your own. And I really believe that it's critical, especially in the day that we live today.
And so, we've been trying to teach you. This is something that many people have a hard time understanding. But in week number one, we talked about Spirit-filled prayer. What is Spirit-filled prayer? That phrase is mentioned all throughout the New Testament. What does that mean? And if you want to go back and watch that message, they're all archived. We also started our 21 Days of Prayer with that message. Then at week number two, we talked about what does it look like to be filled with the Spirit? So, you would see the church filled with the Spirit in Acts chapter 2, and then they were filled again a couple of chapters later, and then they were filled again a couple of chapters later. And what does that even really mean? And something again that a lot of people just don't understand or maybe even try to avoid, because they don't understand it.
And then last week, I thought Pastor Mark brought a brilliant message, as he talked about the Holy Spirit wanting to put a holy spirit inside of me. We're living a Spirit-shaped... didn't Pastor Mark do a great job last Sunday, everybody? I thought it was powerful. And so, I encourage you to go back and watch that, as well. But today, I want to give you a message that is so important for your life on a variety of ways. And one of the reasons why I give you this message, it's going to define everything about why you're even living on Planet Earth. It's going to define what your purpose is all about. It's going to bring meaning and understanding to your life in a way you can't even possibly imagine. And when I say that, I say that because it is not only important for you, but it's also mission critical for what God wants to do on the planet. I don't know that I could bring you, if you're a Christian, I don't know if I could bring you a more important message than the one I'm gonna bring you today, and that is on the topic of spiritual gifts, spiritual gifts.
Now, there's a lot of misunderstanding about spiritual gifts. In fact, there are even some traditions that would say, "Well, no, that doesn't happen anymore". We know spiritual gifts took place in the Bible, but they actually have a theology called Cessationism, that there's parts of the Bible that ceased or no longer exist like they did in the Bible, that God doesn't move in miracles and power anymore. Those are just great stories for us to read today. I'm just here to tell you we don't believe that, everybody. We believe that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Come on, is he still moving in our lives today? I really believe that. And there's not really one verse that would say that God's gonna stop all of that.
In fact, Jesus said, "Greater works shall all of you do, because I'm gonna go to the Father," that all the things that he did on the Planet Earth weren't just for us to admire 2,000 years later, that he always (look at me) wanted to empower his church; because the same power that was needed to transform people's lives in the Bible days are needed for people today, and he always intended the church to live that kind of life. And so, there's a verse in 1 Corinthians, where the Apostle Paul was trying to help people who really didn't understand what it looks like to have the gifts of the Spirit operating in their life. And he says, "about the spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I don't want you to be uninformed". And I'm going to do the very best I can in about 20 minutes to explain, give you the best clinic I can, teaching I can on spiritual gifts, and I have probably 4 hours' worth of material.
Somebody said to me, "Boy, I really love what you said". I said, "You'd be more impressed to hear what I didn't say". I mean, like, I have so much material, and I'm gonna do the best I can, and here's how I thought I'd bring it to you. Understand that God is a good God, and he's a God who loves to give gifts. I hope you like receiving gifts. I love receiving gifts. And he has three for you that I want to encourage you to open, and the first gift is the gift of eternal life. You know that Jesus saw the condition of our lives, that the wage of sin is death. So, if you've committed even one sin, the penalty or the payment of that sin is death. But then Jesus stepped in, perfectly sinless, and said, "I'll pay for all your sins, and it is a gift from God the Father, and it's the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord".
In fact, another verse says, "For it is by grace you've been saved". The word "grace" means to receive something you did not deserve. "For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and it's not from yourselves, it is the", say the last three words, "It is the gift of God". And look in my eyes. There are some of you today that still need to open that gift, and you're trying to pay for your own sins, or maybe you're trapped in your sins, and you feel the guilt and shame. Listen to me. You're one heartfelt prayer away from opening the most beautiful gift, the gift of eternal life. Now, that gift is salvation, and that gift is all about heaven, but the next two gifts are gifts that God gives separate from that gift so that you can have a successful life here on earth until you get to heaven, and that is the second one, and that is the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We talked about this in week number two. Jesus said, "Do not leave Jerusalem," and he was talking to believers. He was talking to his own disciples, to Christians. He says, "I've given you salvation, I've given you that beautiful gift, but I've got another one that I want you to wait for, the gift my Father promised, which you've heard me speak about. For John baptized with water..." That's the first gift, that's the gift of salvation. "But in a few days you will be..." So, it hadn't happened already. "You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit". And that's that Spirit-empowered life that we've talked about in the first three weeks. And if you want more information about it, go back and watch those three weeks previous to this message. Or better yet, next week we're launching small groups. And if you want to know more about the Holy Spirit, probably the best place that we deliver that and explain that to people in more depth is in our Freedom groups.
Has anybody been to a Freedom group in this place, anybody? Yeah, so, it's probably the only small group that we encourage every person in our church to at least sometime in your Church of the Highlands journey to jump into a Freedom group. So, if you're looking for a group... of course, we're shopping for groups all week long. Maybe go check that out. But today I want to talk about the third gift that still remains unopened. You ready for this? By more than 80% of the body of Christ. So, according to Fuller Theological Seminary in California, they did a study, and more than 80% of people who call themselves Christians either do not know what their spiritual gift is or have never really operated in their spiritual gift, and there's a variety of reasons why.
And I want to encourage you today, because it's important for the success of your personal life, and then it's mission critical for what God wants to do on Planet Earth. Here's the verse I chose to teach you for spiritual gifts. It's in Romans chapter 12, where the Bible says, "We have different gifts..." Now, going back to the original language of the Bible 'cause it helps us understand deeper truth, and the word there for "gift" in the Greek is the word "charisma," charisma. It says that "We have different gifts," or we have different charisma, "according to the grace," and that's the word "charis". So, basically, they're the same word. The question, obviously, is "Then why is there two different words translated for the same word"? Because what a charisma is, is a grace gift. That's what it is. It's something you didn't deserve that God gave you, but it's a grace on your life, and grace meaning when you do it, you almost feel like you were naturally made to do that thing.
So, for me, I feel like I have a grace gift, I hope you think so, to speak in front of people. I just enjoy this. I'm not nervous. In fact, I wish I could talk all day long. I have a lot of material. I'm not nervous about it at all. My wife, who's sitting right here on the front row, a lot of times in worship I'll lean over to her. I said, "Hey, you want to come up and say something to everybody"? And she, like, leaves the room and goes to use the bathroom. She doesn't want to do that. But she has other gifts on her life that I don't even understand. She has the patience and the mercy, she can handle people that are going through things. When people come to me with their problems, I'm like, "Well, that's easy. Fix it right here, here, here, here, done, counseling session over". And she looks at me like, "My God, Chris, you need to be more patient," right? Why? Because she has a different gift on her life.
There are people who have a grace gift for children, and they can just handle all the noise, and all the running around, and all the doodling, and... y'all, you don't want me in children's church. Can I tell y'all that? I'd need some duct tape and a chair. Come on, somebody. Right, everybody? It's like, right? I'm like, "Well..." What? No grace, that's just it, there's just no grace. There are people who just have a grace on their life for people that are hurting. There are people that will walk in the same room with somebody crying and hurting, and see, "Well, that light's out. I think I'm gonna go find a maintenance guy to fix that". Why? Because we all are graced. We have a different gift on our lives.
And listen to me. You have one, too. And when you find that thing that defines everybody about your life, in fact, here's my attempt at a definition of a spiritual gift. A spiritual gift is a special God-given ability that he gives to each of his children, so that together, so that one is doing one, one is doing another; and if we'll all kind of put it together in what the Bible calls the body of Christ, we can advance his purposes in this world. Now, I want you to hear this. This is God's hope for the church. The hope of God was never to create a place for you to have a spiritual moment once a week. I'm gonna say that again until somebody says amen. God never intended you just to have a spiritual little moment for all of us to create, so that you can feel spiritual once a week. We are the church, and we were created to make a difference in this world. And together, we all have to find our place.
Now listen to me. This is an important point for you to hear. All of hell is banking on that not happening. Even if he loses some of us to eternal life, he would love to mess your life up enough, or to keep your life in confusion or pain, keep enough problems or maybe even make something like this confusing to you or something you avoid, so that at the very least, even though you may go to heaven, you never connect with the rest of the Christians and advance God's purposes on this planet. So, let me tell you how it's played out in story form. In the Old Testament, special people were given abilities. They called them priests. And these priests would go into the place where God physically was, the ark of the covenant, and the mercy seat, and the presence of God, and they would talk to God, and then they would come out and tell the rest of the people what God said. Only special people had that special place, and God found fault with that, the Bible says. He did not like the covenant he had made in the Old Testament.
So, Jesus comes along, and he intentionally takes ordinary people: fishermen, tax collectors, people with problems, people that had been failures in their life before Jesus, and he said, "I'm going to anoint you, and you're going to be my church. And it won't just happen with my 12 disciples. I'm gonna pour it out on the whole church". Then he died and paid for sins, and the Day of Pentecost came 50 days later. That's what the word "Pentecost" means. It simply means 50 days. And in Acts chapter 2, the Holy Spirit was poured out, not just on the 12 disciples, but to every believer who was there. And Peter, who thought he was special, he thought, "I'm one of the disciples, I'm one of the main ones," he realized, "You know what? I'm not". And he actually quoted Joel when he said, this is Acts chapter 2, that "In the last days..." This verse is being fulfilled right now on Pentecost. "I will pour out my Spirit on", say the last few words, "on all people".
There's no longer going to be ministers and then the rest of the people, special priests and then all the pagans and all the, just the nons. No, no, no. In fact, it won't even be a male thing. "Your sons and daughters will prophesy". They'll all proclaim the Word of God. They can all get involved. "Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams". It won't even be to those who were old and been saved a long time. No, no, no. Even new Christians could have the Word of God in their life. "Even on my servants", come on, everybody, "both men and women. I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy". That means to proclaim the Word of God. And the church was born, and everybody was involved. And then when the church days were over, they started hiring preachers again and ministers again. And people didn't know anything, and they came up with terms like clergy, a word that's not in the Bible, Old or New Testament. You can't, it's not in one single place in the whole Bible. It's a manmade word.
The word "clergy" means "one who reads". I'll read the Bible for you. You come once a week, and I'll tell you what it says. And they created another word called "laity" or "layman," and that's what they do. They just lay around and do nothing. That's what they do. Not in the Bible, Old or New Testament. It's not there, can't find it. And so, about the 1500s came along. And if you know your church history, there was this event called The Protestant Reformation. And Martin Luther said, "Wait, wait, wait, we're not doing this the way the Bible says". And so, he posted his theses on the door, and one of them was called "The Priesthood of All Believers," that we're a kingdom of priests, like, we're all pastors, we're all ministers, we're all called. And people were shocked.
That was like... and that was why it's called a reformation. And after the reformation, guess how much changed? Goose egg, nothing. And 2,000 years later, here we are. We still have preachers, and you have the people, and the called, and the non-called, and it's not in the Bible. In fact, I'll never forget my first year here. I was having fun. That was like a Disney World, my first year. I still enjoy what I do, but it was just so much fun in that first year 'cause I didn't know anybody in town, I'm new. And everybody that was new to our church, I think I went to lunch with every single person in the church and just enjoyed every moment. I just wanted to get to know people. And I'll never forget one of the newest members. I think he came literally to the very first service. It was Buzz and Terry Borman. But they called him Buzzy, Buzzy B. I called him Buzzy B.
But anyway, his name was Buzz Borman. I don't think his name was really Buzz. I think it's William. But anyway, they called him Buzz. And Buzz says, "Have you ever heard of Lloyd's on 280"? Y'all been to Lloyd's, anybody? You Birmingham folks, you got Lloyd's? Okay. I'd never been. So, he goes, "Ah, this is like a famous restaurant in town". Oh, great. You know, and I'm from South Louisiana, y'all. Eating is an Olympic sport. Come on, somebody, right? So, I was excited. We go in there. This is country cooking. This is not Cajun cooking. This is country. In fact, I think I ordered a chopped steak. And I don't know where it was. It was under like eight pounds of gravy. Y'all know what I'm talking about? I knew it was in there somewhere, but anyway... And we're eating, we're just kind of visiting across the table in a little booth, and he sees somebody across the room that he knew. He goes, "Oh, I want you to meet my friend. I see him right over there". I said, "Great". I mean, I want to meet people.
And so, he waved at his friend to come over to our booth. And so when his friend walked over, of course, I stood up and shook his hand. And Buzz said to his friend, "Hey, meet my new pray-cher". Pray-cher, he said it like that, pray-cher, you know, Alabama, pray-cher. I said, you know, I looked at him, like, pray-cher? You know, I'd never been called that before in my whole life, pray-cher, pray-cher. So, I said, I'm just a pray-cher, you know. So, anyway, I shook his hand. And I shook his hand, and we talked a little bit, and he went back to his table, and we sat down. And I looked right across the table. I said, "Buzz, I am not your pray-cher". And I knew what he meant by that 'cause a preacher in the South means preach. You stay home and get a good message and do a few hospital visits between Sundays. That's your job, pray-cher. I said, "I am not your preacher".
And I quoted him Ephesians 4. It says, "He gave some to be pastors, to equip the church people to be the pray-chers". I said, "You're the pray-cher". He goes, "No, I'm not either". His eyes got big. "Oh, no, I cant preach". I said, "Oh, yes, you are. And if you'll let me, I'm going to teach you this thing called spiritual gifts that he never intended it to be on some people's lives". He intended the whole church, and honestly, if there's one thing that's made Highlands what it is, other than just incredible, undeserved grace of God, is that we've been working for 20 years on this thing called a growth track to pull out the best in people and to help them find their spiritual gifts, and now we have an army of preachers out there. There's not just one. I'm telling you.
Okay, so here we go. It's your turn. I will never rest until every person who calls themselves a follower of Jesus is doing their thing that God's called them to do, because that's how we advance God's purposes. I am not here to build a church, and I'm not here because I enjoy myself speaking. I don't even enjoy, I don't even listen to myself, y'all. I don't do this for this. I am not called just to preach to y'all every Sunday. I'm called to equip all of us to do what God's called us to do in this world.
So, I'm gonna give you three truths, and then I'm gonna pray for you, and then we're gonna receive communion together. And here's the first one, and that is that God has called all of us to be ministers. I'll never stop saying this. I am not a minister. I'm an equipper of ministers. He gave some pastors (Ephesians 4) to equip the saints, the people to do the work of the ministry. I'm not the minister here. All of us are the ministers. I'm doing my part, but my part is not enough. God is counting on all of us, and God wants to put his Spirit, stir his Spirit inside of you, listen to me. God is ready, if you're willing, to supernaturally empower you by his Spirit to do something that's going to impact another person's life, and that's a lot, I say fun in the fulfilling way, not just fun in the fun way. But it is fun, because there's nothing better than laying your head down at night knowing, okay, I tapped into that wind.
What I was doing today, there's no way, there's no way I could've done that without God, and God's using me. We were at the final grand finale yesterday of 21 Days of Prayer. And this guy came up to me, and I don't think he would mind me saying it this way, you could see the wear and tear on his life. I mean, you could just see that there was a story behind what I was, you could see it. And he had this giant smile on his face, and he said, "Pastor Chris," he goes, "I'm one of the men that's been in the prison, prisons, all these years, that you and the church had ministered to". He goes, "I've been released". He had this giant smile on his face, and he goes, and he said, "I've been out for a few years now, and I've been going through the Growth Track, and I have found my purpose". He goes, "And tomorrow I won't be here for service because now I serve on the Dream Team at Bibb County. I'll be ministering to the men at Bibb County tomorrow".
Giant smile on his face. You ready for this? The same thing that happened to Jesus can happen to you. God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit, so that he could have a bunch of goosebumps and have fun in church. No. And that's what the charismania world has turned the Holy Spirit into. Well, let's just have fun in church. Goosebumps, woo, well, praise the Lord. No. That's not what the Holy Spirit is for. I don't mind you having a goosebump, but he's not here for your personal entertainment. He is here to anoint you to go around doing good and healing all who are under the power of the devil, because the anointing and the wind and the breath of God are on the inside of you, and that's true of every single one of you. You've gotta hear this, you're God's handiwork.
He specially crafted you in Christ Jesus to go to church? Nope. To have fun in church services? Nope. To do good works, which he prepared in advance for you to do. Do you know what that means? That he had the thing for you to do first, and then he created you. He didn't create you to go, "Hm, wonder what I can do with that. I don't know, let's see". No, he had the thing for you to do, and then he created you, and that's what a spiritual gift is. A spiritual gift is given to everybody so we can help everybody, and I'm asking you to get in the game, not for the church's sake, for the kingdom of God's sake. God needs all of us to realize that the breath and the wind of God comes inside of you, not for your personal or entertainment, but so that the cause of Christ can be advanced on Planet Earth. And the church said a good... Yes, yes.
Here's the second thing you will need to know, because a lot of people get it wrong, and that is that every gift God has is unique and important. So, you can't covet somebody else's gift, and you can't say, "Well, I wish I could preach like that," or "I'm not on church staff". You're thinking about it wrong. God intentionally gives every one of us his gifts (watch this) from a great variety. Why? 'Cause there's a lot to do of the spiritual gifts. Our job is to discover it and then manage it well (again, here it is) so that God's generosity can flow through you. So, there's a lot of different ones, because there's a lot of different functions. It's just like my body. In fact, the Bible teaches spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. Go read the whole chapter. And after it explains what the gifts are, and it says, let me explain it to you in a picture form. And it says, like, you need a hand, you need an eye. And the eye can't say to the hand, "I don't need you," just 'cause it's not an eye. No, no, no, we need them all.
So, I was trying to think, how can I illustrate this to all of us in a just cookies on the bottom shelf and even in kind of a little bit of a fun way? So, I had this thought, this picture that we're all at a banquet, right, okay? And now we're eating dessert, and everybody's standing around eating, and this person, who just got their dessert, trips and falls and spills dessert everywhere. Now, if you were to see the spiritual gifts in operation in that moment in time, here's how it would look. The mercy gift would say, "Oh, I'm so sorry. Are you okay"? The preaching gift, same room, would say, "Well, that's what happens when you're not careful". The serving gift would say, "I'll clean it up. I've got that. You go ahead. I've got it, I've got it".
The teaching gift would say, "The reason it fell is because your plate was too heavy". They explain it to you, right. "It's too heavy on one side". The exhortation gift would say, "That's okay, that could've happened to anybody". The giving gift would say, "Oh, here, have my dessert". And the administration gift would say, "Jim, you get the mop. John, you clean it up. Mary, why don't you..." They're like, they're organizing stuff, right? Same room. Does that help you a little bit? Y'all got that, right? But that's really, that's what I'm talking about. It's a variety of gifts, same situation, because all those are actually needed. Okay, here's the question. How do we know which one it is? Like, how do you know yours? This is the most fun part. That's why we created the Growth Track. The Growth Track does really two things. First, it'll get you connected to a local church. It'll give you the membership class for you to decide if this should be your home church, and it doesn't have to be, but you need a home church.
Please do not be an orphaned Christian. There are 30 verses in the New Testament alone that you cannot fulfill if you're not a member of a church. So, get in a church. It doesn't have to be this one. Find one, find one where you love the leadership, the vision, how they do things, everything. Just find one, and there'll be one perfect for you, I promise you, and it doesn't have to be this one, but find one. But we have a membership class, that's step one of the Growth Track.
Step two, all about these gifts, that's it. We'll do a spiritual gifts profile. We'll do a personality profile. We're going to help you isolate how God's made you. Here's the theme of it: your design, how God made you will reveal your destiny. Your design, how you were made points to what you're supposed to do. You're uniquely wired. In fact, King David said it this way: "For you created, God, my inmost being". So, when I walk in the room, if I see the crying person or the light out, "God, you did that. You wired me a certain way. You knit me together in my mother's womb". And then you can celebrate your life.
Look in my eyes. Too many of you are disappointed with your life. Your life doesn't make you happy at all. In fact, you're wandering. You're looking, you're searching. You're like, "I don't find fulfillment". Why? Because it's all found here. The fulfillment of your life comes when you know why God made you and what you're supposed to do. You're fearfully... David said, "I've got mine, and I'm fearfully and wonderfully made, and my soul, like, knows it". And that's a good thing for your soul to go, "At least I know what I'm called to do. I know what my life's all about".
And then he takes it a step further, and now I realize that God actually planned my life, that all the days ordained for me... are you kidding me? The days I'm living right now, God planned them? Not necessarily. We've added a few chapters God didn't write, but the last chapter still fits. I feel like I need to say that to somebody. God's got a book, and it's called, "Your Life," that he wrote, and we added a few chapters he didn't write, but he can make the last chapter still fit. He's created you, listen to me. Oh, I'm trying everything I can for you to hear this. He's created you so that you can do something he's called you to do, and you could have.
It's the motto of the Dream Team here at Highlands, and that is I, like, I was made for this, and you were made for the thing that God called you to do, and this is my dream church, that everybody walks up to me and says, "Hey, Pastor, let me tell you what happened to me. I came, and I found Jesus, and went to a small group, and I got settled some of my issues and my past stuff, and I went to that Growth Track, and I found my gift". And now, like this guy told me yesterday, "I'm at Bibb County Correctional Facility, and, like, and I was made for this".
I grew up in a church that had testimony services. Y'all remember, anybody? Y'all Baptist people, were y'all at, right? Okay, testimony night, and it was dangerous 'cause they passed the mic, not knowing what people were gonna say. Come on, that's why we don't do that. We have videos. You can edit those bad boys. You know what I'm talking about, right? Okay, it's like, hm, that ain't coming into the service, right? So, you can do that. That's why we don't do testimony night. We used to pass the mic. Like, here you go. Say what you want to say, you know. And anyway, it gets... anyways, it got bad at times. But if it all went good, I have a dream that we could have a service one day, and it's not gonna happen, but I dream this. And we just, like, wireless mic.
It starts right here, and just, we just go, and you hear things like, "Hey, my name's John. And PC's not the only minister around here. I'm a minister, and I'm a follower of Jesus Christ, and I have the gift of mercy. I feel what hurting people feel, and that's why I serve at the Dream Center".
And then the mic goes to the next person. "Hey, everybody, I'm Len. PC's not the only minister around here. I'm a minister. I'm a follower of Jesus Christ, and I have the gift of administration. I just see, I see organization. So, I help the check-in process at Children's Church go much faster".
Next person, "Hey, everybody, I'm David. I'm a minister 'cause I'm a follower of Jesus Christ, and I have the gift of technology. All those wires in computers make sense to me. And actually, I'm in the production ministry here at Highlands. And PC thinks he preaches; but if it wasn't for us, it wouldn't get nowhere else. Can I tell you that? I'm getting the Word out there. I'm called".
"My name's Cortney. And I'm a minister 'cause I'm a follower of Jesus Christ, and I have the gift of evangelism, and I have a small group at my high school, and my friends are getting saved".
"My name's Mike. I'm a minister 'cause I'm a follower of Jesus Christ. I have the gift of leadership. I mentor young 20-somethings in my house because they need another men to teach them some things".
"My name is Amber. I'm a minister. I'm a follower of Jesus Christ. I have the gift of encouragement, and my small group goes to nursing homes every week".
"My name is Martha, been in church my whole life, but I'm a minister 'cause I'm a follower of Jesus Christ, and all my kids are gone. They've been out of the house for a long time. And I'm on the prayer team. I cover PC and this church every day for three hours a day because I love to pray".
"Hey, everybody, my name's Matt. I'm a minister. I've got the spiritual gift of goofiness, and so I just can make junior highers, who don't know who they are, feel loved. That's my small group, and I was made for this".
That's my dream church, and it can be you, it can be you. 'Cause my name is Chris, and I'm a minister just because I'm a follower of Jesus Christ, and I have the gift of pastor, tour guide, and I was made to help people find their gift. I was made for this. And that's my dream for all of you. But I close with something that may touch you a little bit more personally, and that is the gifts also, they affirm and they show who I really am. And I have this sense in my heart that there's a generation that is so confused. I mean, how much are we gonna listen to about what I identify as, and here's my preferred pronoun. Everybody's searching for like, 'cause there's confusion. Do you know why? God's the only one who has the answer to that question. You're never gonna know who you are unless you go to the one who made you in the first place. You're never gonna know, you're never gonna know.
I'm going to close with this verse. It's a powerful verse, but it requires a little breakdown of its Greek words, so just bear with me. 'Cause it says, "Do not think of yourself more highly," I'm gonna teach that word in a second, "than you ought, but rather think of yourself with a sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith", I'll teach those three words in a second. So, that's how we do it, and it explains what I've taught all day. "Just as each one of us has one body with many members, and these members do not have all the same function, so in Christ we are the many from one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts". But it's all conditional on the highly sober in the faith. He says, "You're only going to get there if you don't think of yourself highly".
It doesn't mean, like, nose up, I'm proud, highly. The word "highly" in the Greek is "huperphroneo". You don't have to know that. That's my job to know that word for you, right? But it means you have the wrong view of you. You have the wrong... you don't see yourself right. But you need to see yourself sober. Sober is almost the same word huperphroneo. It means sophroneo in the Greek. Look at this. Your mind got right. It's the same word when Jesus cast the devil out of the demoniac of Gadara. It says he came into his right mind, same word.
Do you know that all of us need a measure of deliverance from the wrong, some of you, your parents have lied to you. Your coaches have lied to you. The devil's lied to you. Your past has lied to you, and it's created this wrong view, and you've disqualified yourself for something that God has called you to do, and you need to get in your right mind with faith. Faith means to allow the one who created you to give you the right view. So that verse, the PC translation would go like this. "Do not have the wrong view of yourself but rather be set free, put in your right mind by allowing the One who created you to show you who you are and what you were created to do". And this is my dream.
And so, Father, I pray for every person in this church. And God, only you know the struggle and the things that have come into their life to try to get them in the wrong view, the things that have lied to them, the things that have discouraged them, the things that have trapped them into this wrong view, and I'm praying today, God, you set them free. Set them free today, God. Let them be in their right mind by allowing the One, Jesus, to heal us, so that we know who we are, and we know what we were created to do, in Jesus's name.
Heads bowed, eyes closed. If you're here today, and you're not a follower of Jesus, or you are a follower of Jesus, and you've walked away from God, and you're ready to come home, this is that moment I promised I would let you have where you can have a home in heaven. You can secure your eternal life this moment by giving your life to Jesus, making him the Lord of your life. And what he is prepared to do is to forgive you (past, present, and future) of all your sins. He'll pay your bill. If you're prepared to do that, pray this prayer right there where you are. Say:
Jesus, forgive me. I've lived my life without you, and today I realize I need you (say these words with me) so, I make you today the Lord of my life. I'm letting you have control of my life, everything, all of me. Come live inside of me, by your Holy Spirit, and give me power to live the life you always intended for me. And I make a declaration because I believe you're the Son of God, and I believe you died, and you rose again, and today I put my faith in you. In your name I pray, amen.