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The rich variety of God's Spirit-powered "tools"

July 22, 2022
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Daily Scripture

1 Corinthians 12:27-30, Ephesians 4:11-13, Romans 12:6-8

1 Corinthians 12

27 You are the body of Christ and parts of each other. 28 In the church, God has appointed first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, the ability to help others, leadership skills, different kinds of tongues. 29 All aren’t apostles, are they? All aren’t prophets, are they? All aren’t teachers, are they? All don’t perform miracles, do they? 30 All don’t have gifts of healing, do they? All don’t speak in different tongues, do they? All don’t interpret, do they?

 

Ephesians 4

11 He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. 12 His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ 13 until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ.

Romans 12

6 We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. 7 If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. 8 If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

As you read these three passages, imagine yourself in a showroom filled with different tractor tools. The various devices do many different tasks—but not all by themselves. When you connect them to a tractor, its power brings them “alive.” The body of Christ needs to have all of its members’ “tools” to fully achieve God’s purposes. But unity and power come into being as we realize we don’t acquire or use these gifts in our own strength, but as we connect them with the Holy Spirit at work in us.

  • Are you clear about which of these gifts the Spirit has given you? If not, ask one or more people who know you well what gifts they see in you. You can also click here to access a short tool for spiritual gifts discovery we use at The Church of the Resurrection. Once you have a sense of what your gifts are, how can you put those gifts in action to serve and build up the body of Christ?
  • We also read about the “fruit of the Spirit” (cf. Galatians 5:22-23). Those are qualities the Spirit grows in every Christian. But your “package” of spiritual gifts won’t be exactly like anyone else’s—note how Paul used words like “some” and “if” in writing about the gifts. Spiritual gifts are aptitudes you need to mature and season. You have a natural capacity in your areas of giftedness, but room to grow in using them well. How are you developing your spiritual gifts as you use them?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, the Spirit has gifted me in unique ways so that the Kingdom might come to earth. Help me to recognize the joy and responsibility of my giftedness. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe & his wife, Doris, first met in a Resurrection Single Adult Sunday School class in 1997 & were married in what is now the Student Center. They are empty nesters with 2 college-aged sons, Matthew & Jacob. Darren serves as a Couples Small Group co-leader & Men's Group Leader, while volunteering in a variety of other capacities at Resurrection.

Our family has enjoyed the recent sermon series on tractors & spiritual revival. Of course, this shouldn’t be too surprising considering the massive public relations investment Fisher-Price made in piquing kids’ interest in being a farmer.

Realizing that the entire Biblical era occurs in a primarily agrarian economy, farming & its many lessons were essential to the depiction & development of God’s story. Let’s consider a few examples:

Aside: My neighbor’s girlfriend dumped him for a wealthy farmer. He knew it was over the minute he opened that John Deere letter.

For the Jewish holiday of Sukkot (which can be pronounced sue-coat), God commands the Israelites to hold a 7-day festival after the crops had been harvested. God deliberately schedules this celebration around the agricultural calendar.

  • Interestingly, God is not urging us shirk our work or our responsibilities, but rather we are to celebrate our accomplishment after the work is done.
  • Also, it’s odd that God doesn’t put in a caveat on the celebration like, “Celebrate IF the yield was above expectations or IF it was an improvement over the season prior.” Huh. We are to celebrate our harvest whether it disappoints us or not.
  • Finally, for those who view God as some grim taskmaster, the idea of Him commanding a 7-day celebration is a bit disorienting. Maybe it is our view of God that is a tad muddled. What if God is a God who loves us & genuinely wants us to have a full life, including its joyful celebrations?

Aside: A friend desperately wanted to convince his wife that he needed a new tractor. Realizing her passion for stitching, needlework, & quilting he came up with the perfect pitch: “Honey, I think we should upgrade our sowing machine.”

Secondly, Jesus constantly used agrarian themes in His parables & His teachings. With a simple agricultural reference, Jesus could quickly bring His audiences up to speed. For example, His audience would readily understand the deeper meaning of the necessity of “good” soil when planting seeds, or the somber significance of pruning dead/useless branches, or the ecstatic joy symbolized by the father ordering the killing of the fatted calf when his long lost son has returned.

Aside: Years ago we had a neighbor living on the ranch next door who was a bit obsessed with the rapture & apocalyptic end-times. I’ve often wondered whatever happened to Farmer Geddon.

Finally, for much of the church’s history, even the church’s schedule was developed around agriculture. Some suggest that the traditional time of 11:00 church service was established to give farmers time to get their chores done before coming to worship. (Our college-aged sons’ jaws just dropped – chores/work BEFORE church?)

So, living in our sophisticated world of Gigabytes, Google, & Grubhub, can teachings & stories revolving around farming & agriculture really still be relevant? I would submit, that the Biblical emphasis of agricultural teachings is actually quite a genius move. Consider:

The agrarian lifestyle is universal. It has no geographic or linguistic or age restrictions. Every person of every culture, regardless of age or experience, can readily relate to caring for animals or the process of sowing, cultivating, & harvesting plants.

The agrarian lifestyle is timeless. Imagine if Jesus was sharing parables just 40 years ago, He would reference answering machines or making ice in an ice tray & our younger generation would just stare blankly at Him.

Finally, the agrarian lifestyle lends itself to Godly thoughts & ideas:

  • Witnessing the amazing workings in something as basic & common as watching a seedling become a plant, one can’t help but be in awe of God’s brilliant creation.
  • As we wait for a plant to blossom & reach its full potential, one is immediately grateful for God’s patience with our own spiritual journey.
  • The seasons of a plant’s life are a comforting reminder of the cycle of our own lives – each stage is full of potential & possibilities. Thus, encouraging us to fully embrace each phase & live our lives to the utmost.
  • Finally, farming is hard work. A Godly life is never promised to be easy – just worth it.

Here’s a photo of me circa 1970 contemplating a career in farming.

It would be cool to win an award in agriculture & maybe receive a trophy that read: “Darren Lippe – Out Standing in His Field.”

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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