God’s desire to be in relationship with us is evident from the beginning. Even though, we have not always sought to reciprocate that relationship it doesn’t change God’s desire to know and be known. He is relentless and patient with us as He extends His love, grace, providence, and guidance.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NIV
From the beginning, God has always had a plan of redemption and reconciliation for all of us. God doesn’t need our help to carry out His plan or get the job done, but He has chosen to include His followers. We are part of the team. We are His “witnesses”, workers, and harvesters.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NIV
“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38 NIV
As His followers, our labor or work for the “Lord of the harvest” is not out of obligation. It is not forced labor. We do it out of gratitude and love for God. It is a labor of love. Jesus shares, even laments, in Matthew 9 that the “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” He sees our suffering and the work that needs to be done. Today, we call it ministry or service. Ministry is a “work or a vocation” according to one definition. We think of “ministers” as professional church staff, but God calls all of His followers into ministry or to be “workers” in His harvest field.
The gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are a record of the life and teachings of Jesus, but it is also an example or a model of training for ministry. Jesus didn’t go to Jerusalem University or Seminary to find the elite for His ministry team. He picked a rag tag group of misfits: fisherman, a tax collector, a zealot, and a thief. Later on Jesus called a Pharisee named Saul who actually persecuted the Church. Saul, who later became the Apostle Paul, was a part of the religious mob that killed Stephen, who is considered to be the first martyr of the church.
To be considered as a team member or worker for the “Lord of the harvest”, we don’t have to have a pedigree, degree, or title. We just have to believe, be willing to learn, follow, and serve using our spiritual gifts for God’s glory. As I shared last week, you don’t have to be a super Christian or be able to perform miraculous miracles to be spiritually gifted. We looked at the miraculous gifts of healing, speaking and interpretation of tongues, and miraculous powers last week. Remember that whether they are practical or miraculous, or considered “greater” or “lesser”, they all come from the same place and are equally important.
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NIV
Jesus didn’t send the disciples out to do ministry empty handed and unprepared. He trained them, empowered them, and gave them the tools or spiritual gifts they would need to do the work of ministry. The “Jesus Training Program” or model continues today. The Bible is our training manual. Our toolbox includes Spiritual Gifts, and a “POWER TOOL”!!! Everybody likes power tools right? They make our job easier. Well, that’s who and what the Holy Spirit is and does. He is the ULTIMATE power tool! He takes our spiritual gifts to another level, levels that we can’t reach on or in our own power. In other words, He makes miracles happen! He can reach, drill, or smash through hearts of stone. This is making me think about Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor from Home Improvement. Are you grunting right now? Power tools make us grunt with joy!
Okay, so let’s take a look at all the spiritual gifts. Spiritual Gifts are found in various passages of scripture throughout the New Testament including 1 Corinthians 12. Even though there are skeptics of taking a “spiritual gifts” test or survey online or in a church small group, I have found them to be very useful in finding my own spiritual gifts. I would recommend “S.H.A.P.E.” by Erik Rees, but there are others. Here is a basic list of most or all of the spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible:
- Being an apostle
- Exhortation (Encouragement)
- Speaking in tongues
- Teaching (sometimes known as shepherding)
I’ve run out of room for a brief description, so we’ll take a closer look at each one next week. I am trying to keep these devotionals to 1,000 words or less. Some weeks, like this one, it’s hard to stop! However, there is one gift in particular that I want to mention that we are all called and equipped to do, Evangelism. When Jesus gave the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations” it didn’t mean only those who have the gift of Evangelism. Sharing our faith and the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is an ability that we all have and should use, but we all do it in our own way, using our own unique spiritual gifts.
Love y’all! Have a great weekend!
Weekly Devotional by Robby Morris, Director of Family Ministry & Facility Coordinator @ Andrews UMC.