"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, July 13, 2012

THIRTEEN - PART 3

Matthew 25:23 (NKJV)  "His Master said to him, 'Well done good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your Lord.' "



Culturally, we live in a performance based society.  

We are rewarded for doing things and completing tasks.  We are recognized for climbing the ladder of success.  Even though our jobs or ministries may require us to do certain things, our motive of why we do them is crucial to understand.  
Do we serve to be noticed or applauded?  Or, do we strive to exhibit the very nature of Christ to others?  Do we serve without wanting to be served in return?  Do we understand God gave us spiritual gifts for a purpose?

Part three of this series wraps up a vital component regarding serving: the ministry the Lord has given us to serve His kingdom.

God gives Christians spiritual gifts to minister to others.  1 Corinthians 12:4-6 tells us the body has different parts and each function is to serve the other. Romans 12:5 reminds us that we possess spiritual gifts according to His grace.  1 Peter 4:10 teaches that we administer God's grace when we serve others with the gifts He entrusts to us.   

God's grace is made evident in the various ways He gifts His people.  In truth, our gift is not for our benefit, but for the good of the Kingdom.

One thing I've noticed (and have been guilty of) is the tendency for believers to shy away from their God-given gift(s).  We assume if we acknowledge the gift we are being prideful.  However, I believe the enemy twists our thinking to believe this because if we aren't using our gift for the Kingdom it brings kudos to satan.  

Over five years ago I sensed the Lord calling me to serve Him in a more specific direction with women's ministry, speaking and writing.  Through various confirmations I knew this was clearly God's leading.  Over and over He made it very evident of His purpose and use of my life for His kingdom.

An internal struggle occurred for several months while I wrestled with doubt, discouragement and fear.  A few times I even convinced myself others were quietly criticizing me.  I continued to move forward with what I believed God called me to, but hesitated to really dive in, due to fear of what others might think of me.  

Pride is manifested with our spiritual gift when our heart is focused on "Me" versus a heart focused on God.  This is a false humility because the very nature of shying away is trying to take the light off of ourselves when it should have never been there in the first place.  

When our attention is on the Gift Giver, we begin to embrace the idea our gifts have nothing to do with us; we are merely the vessel being used.  A humble person can acknowledge the gift and readily point to God using them to fulfill His calling.  Their purpose and passion meet by making much of God, not themselves.

During a quiet time over two years ago the Holy Spirit convicted me while studying Matthew 25:14-30.  In this passage we are reminded through the parable of the talents how important stewardship and faithfulness is. We are to be faithful with the gifts God entrusts to us.  A faithful steward invests the gifts given from God to serve the Kingdom.  A worthless servant hordes the gift.  

God humbled my false humility with these words:  How can you partially bury the gift I've given you?  Why do you let fear of what others think keep you from obeying me?  I thought you were living for Me, not them.  Hester, you will be held accountable for the talent I have entrusted to you?  Will you join me?  Will you invest this gift into my Kingdom?  Will you trust me for the unknown?  Will you let my glory shine through your weaknesses?  Will you allow me to bring forth the spiritual fruit of righteousness in others lives because of the ministry I've put in your heart?  The time is now . . . pick up your shovel and unearth this gift.

This breakthrough settled many things for me.  For the first time I saw how I allowed the enemy to deceive me.  This awakening enabled me to fully embrace what God has called me to regardless of fear, discouragement, doubt and especially regardless of what others think.  These thorns still creep in time to time, but I must choose to squash the lies with His truth.  

The enemy doesn't want God's Kingdom to flourish and the more he can convince us to bury our gift, the more he wins in our personal lives.  Instead, we must be purposeful to bury his lies.

Here are a few friends who have chosen to not bury their gift:
  • Natalie, a deaf, single, 33yr. old woman writes weekly encouragement to many and serves children's ministry in various ways.
  • Kathy invests Titus 2 on Monday's at her home with her three daughters and seven young grandchildren.  She also ministers to adult women and teaches God's Word.
  • Sonja prepares and serves lunch at the homeless shelter on Tuesdays.
  • Tammy ministers to orphaned children in foster care on the weekends. 
  • Mandy serves junior high and high school girls on Wednesday nights at youth group.
  • Tonia consistently disciples and mentors a handful of adult women needing spiritual guidance.
  • Carol opens her home to her daughters' family for them to live with her.
  • Patti cradles the infants every Sunday morning in the nursery.
We are guilty of hording if the very gifts and ministry we are given are not used to serve the Kingdom.  If we serve ourselves we miss the point of being entrusted with them.  If we bury them we fail to partner with God in the furtherance of the Gospel.

To answer the question at the beginning: Why do we serve and what is our motive? We serve the Kingdom with our entrusted gifts to further the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, to edify the body of Christ and bring glory to our Lord.  We serve the Kingdom to be a good and faithful servant.  

Thirteen words make all the difference.  Thirteen words will reveal where we stand with the Lord.  Thirteen words declare how we invest what is entrusted to us.  Will we finish well?  Will we serve selfish or selflessly?  Will we dig up buried gifts?

When we stand before God our hearts desire should be to hear these thirteen words: "Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord."


Heart Work:
Write down the spiritual gifts you believe God has entrusted you with.  Thank Him for the gifts He has given, according to His grace, for you to minister to others.

Heart Exam:
How are you using your gift to serve the Kingdom?  How has the enemy deceived you with the use of your gifts?

Are you shrinking back from serving with your gifts or have you fully embraced God's purposes and personal ministry for you?

Why do you serve and what are your motives?

What ways have you been personally blessed by the spiritual gifts of others?

Heart Changing Word:
Romans 12:4-8  "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.  If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

1 Corinthians 12:4-6  "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."

Ephesians 2:10  "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Ephesians 6:7  "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men."

Colossians 3:23-24b  "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, . . . It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

1 Peter 4:10  "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."



Copyright 2012 by Hester Christensen.  All rights reserved.