The Most Important Gifts...

 

Dedication

 

This is a Bible study dedicated to all of those hard working, Jesus loving, industrious and servant-minded folks out there, the ones who are virtually unknown by the Christian church world.  They are the salt of the earth.  Theirs’ is not a grandeur ministry of prophetic gifts, healings miracles, casting out demons, or preaching wonderful sermons.  They seek no recognition from man, but live only to please the Master.  They demonstrate their love for God and Jesus by extending themselves, their talents, skills, gifts, and resources to those in need.  They are the most important gifts..........

 

Introduction

 

Have you ever been to a Pentecostal ‘revival’ meeting?  Or to a charismatic ‘renewal’ meeting?  Or to a prophecy conference?  If so, have you asked yourself the question, “Why is so much of the Christian church obsessed with manifestations and gifts of the Spirit, or with prophecy, or prophets, or apostles, and what has been called, ‘the five-fold ministry?’”

 

It has become popular to follow the ministry of big name men and women who go from church to church, seminar to seminar, or conference to conference.  These ministries teach, and preach, and lay hands on the sick for healing, and call down the presence of God, renewing others with manifested signs.  As wonderful as it is to experience this kind of gifting, these are not the most important gifts in Jesus’ church.

 

In the mind of the average Christian, the most single important person in their church is undoubtedly their pastor.  Others feel that it is the ones who minister in music during worship services, because they usher God’s people into His presence.  And for those who claim to be operating in the “five-fold ministry,” they may say their “apostle” or their “prophet” has the position of most importance.  Still other Christians look to popular ministers who have the gift of healing, or who are eloquent preachers.  Others believe it is those who pray for renewal and revival in the church.  All of this is valuable, but as we will see from scripture, none of these are the most important gifts.

 

1 Luke 9:46-48  And an argument arose among them as to which of them might be the greatest.  But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for he who is least among you, this is the one who is great.”  (NAS)

 

With the emphasis in the churches focusing on that which is dominant, or charismatic, or flamboyant, most individual Christians feel like they have very little to offer in the church.  They feel their personal contribution is of little or no real spiritual value.  Even if they are busy helping others, or encouraging, or serving, they somehow feel that what they do is subservient to the “pastor” does.  After all, they are not as “spiritual” as those in the ministry.........or are they?

 

Most Christians compare themselves to those who “lead” the church.  They can never measure up to the spiritual giants in the church.  There is a feeling projected in many churches of an ‘inner-circle’ of clergy and leaders who are the most “spiritual.”  Those outside of this inner circle think of themselves as mere “laymen.”  The Bible makes no such distinction between “laymen” and “clergy.”  This is a man-made religious concept, handed down to Christianity from the Roman Catholic Church.

 

Unfortunately, our society has influenced the church’s outlook on whom, and what is important.  Too much emphasis has been put on education, seminaries, and Bible colleges.  The average Christian feels spiritually inept, and substandard to Bible teachers, theologians, pastors, and scholars.  Many people consider themselves inferior because they are not as well versed in scripture, theology, and or in doctrine as their pastor. 

 

Our society has glamorized sports figures, movie stars, authors, adventurers, and so on.  This has created a sort of mania for people who are influential, or popular for their unique abilities.  As a result, the average folks have been lost in the wallpaper of humanity, never being acknowledged for their contribution.  While we can understand this mentality prevailing in the world, such a disposition should not even exist in the body of Christ!!  And yet, this is the predominant outlook of most believers in the church.

 

1 Mark 9:33-35  And they came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He {began} to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?”  But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which {of them was} the greatest.  And sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.”  (NAS)

 

It is certainly important that we have Bible teachers, and those who can shepherd and lead the church.  Without leadership, the church becomes like a ship without a rudder.  But teaching, preaching, prophesying, and other outward gifting is useless without the strength of those in Christ’s body who minister the little seen, but vital administration of service.  If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.”  Each person has a unique personality, talents, inert abilities, acquired skills, and gifts which they must employ for the building up of the body of Christ, and for reaching the lost for Jesus.  We are all, great and small, called to be humble servants like Jesus.

 

1 John 13:13-17  “You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for {so} I am.  If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.  For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master; neither {is} one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”  (NAS)

 

Purpose of the study

 

It is the purpose of this study to help each believer see that what they do, and how they reach out to others is vitally important.  It is just as important as what any pastor or minister does. 

 

The manner in which God uses each person’s personality and their abilities is all a part of the working of the body of Christ.  It is vital that each person in the body of Christ realize how important they are to helping the church function.  Each one must take the individual responsibility to serve others, and so express their love for God:

 

1 James 2:15-17  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  (NIV)

 

James 2:15-17 says that faith without works is dead.  A dead person is useless to others.  Many claim to have “faith” for what they can “receive” from God, but true faith is expressed in how you give to meet the everyday needs of others.  Jesus expressed his faith in God by giving himself as a sacrifice for us; we ought also to sacrifice ourselves for one another.

 

1 Heb 9:14  How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  (NAS)

 

Christians are forever claiming “faith” for their healing, or their finances, or whatever they can get from God.  This is dead faith, unless it is accompanied by the kind of action that meets the essential needs of others.  The intent here is not to show disrespect for someone that is trusting God for healing, but rather to expose the inherent selfishness which exists in the Christian community and to tear down the idea that faith is always to be used to receive from God.

 

There are people who will never be great orators, but whose life is an expression of the very word of God.  They are the ones who are moved in their hearts with compassion when they see a person in need.  They are the ones who are the tender-hearts.......they cry to see a starving child or a whimpering puppy.  They are moved to action when they see someone who is hungry, or hurting.  They are the ones which comfort others who mourn.  They are encouragers for those who are depressed.  They are the listening ear for the lonely soul who needs a friend to share with.  They are those who do what needs to be done, without expecting thanks or praise.  They are the intercessory prayer warriors who are the unseen pillars of the church.  These are the ones who see a chance to love Jesus every time a need confronts them:

 

1 Matt 25:32-40  “And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you gave Me {something} to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, {even} the least {of them,} you did it to Me.’  (NAS)

 

One day we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  Most people don’t give much consideration to the reality of this day.  Most Christians fail to realize how it is vital what they do, or don’t do, because Jesus will examine them one day in the realm of eternity:

 

1 2 Cor 5:9-10  So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.  (NIV)

 

“Depart from Me”

 

In that day, what will we say is the most important gift?  What will we tell Jesus Christ?  Will we boast that we were knowledgeable in the scriptures?  Will we boast on our revelations, and our prophetic gifting?  Will Jesus be impressed with our miracle working faith?  There are three places where Jesus tells those who thought they knew Him to “Depart...I never knew you.”  They are found in the following passages:

 

1 Matt 7:20-23  “So then, you will know them by their fruits.  Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”  (NAS)

 

1 Luke 13:26-30  “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth there when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being cast out.  And they will come from east and west, and from north and south, and will recline {at the table} in the kingdom of God.  And behold, {some} are last who will be first and {some} are first who will be last.”  (NAS)

 

1 Matt 25:41-46  “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me {nothing} to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’  Then they themselves also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’  Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  (NAS)

 

Why would Jesus tell these ones, who thought they were God’s own to “Depart” into eternal destruction?  First of all, notice how these accursed children boasted of the things they had done for Jesus:

 

·        “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name?”

 

·        “and in Your name cast out demons?”

 

·        “and in Your name perform many miracles?”

 

·        “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.”

 

These lukewarm Christians thought that if they prophesied, performed many miracles, cast out demons, heard teaching about Jesus, and even basked in His presence, this would be enough.  How many times have you heard someone say, “I can’t wait for the day when God will perform mighty miracles through our hands.  Then the world will really come to Jesus!”  And yet, these things do not impress Jesus.  Why?

 

First of all, when a miracle or healing is performed, Who is the One doing the miracle?  Isn’t it God?  And when someone truly prophesies in Jesus’ name, Who is the source of the inspiration for that prophetic utterance?  Isn’t it the Spirit of God?  Or if a believer casts a demon out of someone, Who gives them the authority and power to overcome the evil one?  Isn’t it God’s authority that the demon recognizes?  You see, all these things are that which GOD does!  We are merely the human instruments that God uses, but this is no cause for boasting!  Neither does it prove that we truly know Him.

 

1 1 Cor 1:26-31  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.  But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  (NAS)

 

Furthermore, in the final passage in Matthew 25:41-46, Jesus tells them to “Depart,” and he then reveals what these selfish Christians did NOT do.  They could not boast for their miraculous accomplishments; all they could do was make excuses for why they failed to do their part:

 

·        Then they themselves also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’  Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 

 

Many who prophesy, and work miracles, and cast out demons, will come before the judgment seat of Christ, only to realize that those gifts were NOT the most important ones.  Many will say, “We were in Your presence, and we taught Your word,” only to find themselves being rebuked by the Lord.  He will tell them, “Depart from Me!  You selfish folks!  Why were you so concerned about prophecy, and miracles, and healings, and teaching?  Why weren’t you concerned with helping the poor, the widow, the bereaved?  Why didn’t you care for the sick?  All you did was offer to pray for them!  Depart from Me!” 

 

So we see that those who seem to be “first” now in the church, will be last when they appear before Jesus.  And those who are less esteemed, and considered “last” (or low man on the spiritual totem pole), will be first in the eyes of their Lord.

 

It is time for the Christian church to recognize what is truly important to God.  Yes, miracles, prophecy, and healing are wonderful things, BUT THEY ARE NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT GIFTS!!

 

Worthless religion

 

Before examining which gifts are truly the most important (i.e. - those which call for us to do our part), let’s consider what God recognizes as true faith:

 

1 James 1:23-27  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for {once} he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.  But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the {law} of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.  If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his {own} heart, this man's religion is worthless.  This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of {our} God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, {and} to keep oneself unstained by the world.  (NAS)

 

Undefiled “religion” is to visit (i.e. - care for) the widows and the orphans (the bereaved).  The contrast to undefiled religion is “worthless religion.”  Worthless religion is when a person thinks they are spiritual (or religious), and yet they have ceased to be an “effectual doer.”

 

People can talk about how great their church is, or about how powerful this person’s ministry is, but it is all worthless unless they care for the needs of the widows and orphans.  The term “widows” can include those who are needy like widows, (e.g. - single moms, the elderly, the disabled, etc.), and the term “orphans” which means “bereaved” can refer to those who have lost their parents, or who are hurting inside their heart for any reason.

 

An important connection between “worthless religion” and he who “does not bridle his tongue” is demonstrated here.  Remember in the accounts in Matthew chapter 7 and Luke chapter 13?  These people boasted about being in the presence of the Lord.  They bragged about the prophecies, and many miracles, and healings, and casting out demons.  They had an unbridled tongue!  They had forgotten what manner of persons they really were!  Their “religion” was worthless...it yielded no fruit.  They failed to distinguish between the gifts of the Spirit (something which God gives freely), and the fruit of the Spirit (that which a believer must cultivate in their own lives).

 

What exactly is meant by “religion?”  As Christians, we often tell unbelievers that we have a “relationship” not a “religion.”  Yet the scripture says we are to have an “undefiled religion.”

 

The word “religion” is translated from the Greek word “threskeia” and refers to a demonstrative form of worship.  We often think of worship as the music ministry portion of a church service.  However, this word, which can also refer to one’s piety, speaks more of the manner in which a person’s service to God is performed.  Romans chapter 12 explains what worship truly is; it is offering one’s entire life up in service to God:

 

1 Rom 12:1  I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, {which is} your spiritual service of worship.  (NAS)

 

Therefore, “worthless religion” (or demonstration of worship) would be that which does so only with words.  This could refer to singing nice songs about Jesus in church, but without having a life of caring for what God cares about.........those who are in need!  Worthless religion means those who are ‘Sunday-only’ Christians.  They forget about Jesus the other 6 1/2 days of the week.  It could also refer to all the hype which exists in the church; all the clamor for teaching, for the ‘anointing’, for prophecy, etc..

 

In contrast, undefiled religion and the true demonstration of one’s faith is to care for those who are in need, and who are hurting inside.

 

Love is the foundation

 

How does one lay the foundation for the most important gifts?  A gift is something freely given by God, but how can a person employ that gift so that it serves God’s purposes? 

 

1 1 Cor 13:1-8  If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have {the gift of} prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed {the poor,} and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind, {and} is not jealous; love does not brag {and} is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong {suffered,} does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails; but if {there are gifts of} prophecy, they will be done away; if {there are} tongues, they will cease; if {there is} knowledge, it will be done away.  (NAS)

 

Love must be the foundation for all that we do, whether it is prophecy, faith, or even caring for the needy.  It must be the kind of love which comes from our relationship with God, and extended to mankind.  It must be patient, and kind.  It must not be jealous, and it must not brag!  There is too much boasting which exists in the Christian church today.  Christians are caught up in petty jealousy over whose church or ministry is the best, or who has the most powerful gifts.  God could care less.  He wants our love to be more than mere words!

 

1 I Jn 3:16-19  We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?  Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.  We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him.  (NAS)

 

Our love, our “religion,” (outward demonstration), must be with more than mere words.  Actions speak louder than words.  We must take the truth, and apply it by helping those in need, particularly those in the body of Christ.  Again, in contrast to this are the one’s whose “deeds” are worthless and defiled religion:

 

1 Titus 1:15-16  To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.  They profess to know God, but by {their} deeds they deny {Him}  being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.  (NAS)

Notice the language of Titus 1:1; they are “worthless” for any good deed.  In the same context of Matthew chapter 25, where Jesus compares the “sheep” and the “goats” He also compares the servants to whom he entrusted with various talents.  To one he gave ten, to another five, and to another one.  The servants who were given ten and five talents increased what their master had given them.  But the servant who was given one talent hid it in the ground.  This is like many Christians today, who hide the talents, abilities, skills, and gifts God has given to them.  They exalt those in the church who preach, prophesy, teach, or pray for the sick.  They are “worthless” slaves:

 

1 Matt 25:29-30  “For to everyone who has shall {more} be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.  And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  (NAS)

 

Our love for God is not demonstrated in prophetic gifts, or even in praying for the sick, as important as these gifts may seem.  Our love for the Lord is seen in our actions; in how we treat one another.  This kind of love must begin in our own homes first.  How do you speak to your wife?  Or how do you treat your husband?  Our relationship with the Lord must extend His love to our spouse, and our children.  It must then reach outward, and extend to the household of faith:

 

1 I Jn 4:19-21 We love, because He first loved us.  If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.  (NAS)

 

1 Gal 6:10  So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.  (NAS)

 

1 1 Tim 3:5  But if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?  (NAS)

 

The Most Important Gifts

 

We have discussed that there are a variety of “gifts” within the body of Christ.  1 Cor. 12:4 says that such “gifts” come from the Spirit of God.  Because the structure of the churches in America are not in line with scripture, we have set up a hierarchy of those who are deemed as the most important gifting of God.  However, careful examination of scripture proves this is not the way God sees it.

 

To understand what these verses are saying, and apply them to this study, it is necessary to itemize key points, and comment upon each one:

 

 

 

all the members do not have the same function

 

1 Rom 12:4-5  For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  (NAS)

 

We are uniquely individual.  We do not all function the same, nor do we all have the same “function.”  The Greek word for “function” is “praxis” and means “practice” or an “act.”  This word comes from a root meaning, to “practice,” (i.e. perform repeatedly or habitually).  In other words, God is saying that we do not all have the same way of acting, or habitually practicing what we do within Christ’s body.  It has been said, “Practice makes perfect.”  As individual Christians learn to “practice” (praxis) what they do best for others, then perhaps the church can be ‘perfected.’

 

Since the Greek word “praxis” carries with it the idea of what a person performs “repeatedly,” the early church recognized that each member of the church had an important function that they regularly, and repeatedly exercised while living amongst the other believers.  Today we should see each other’s skills, and practices, and gifts as necessary to the overall function of the body of Christ.

 

If Christians would begin to recognize how important what they practice is, there would be less looking for “signs” and “miracles” and “prophetic utterances.”  For example, there are many men who have mechanical aptitude, who could reach out to seniors, and single moms who need basic automotive work done to their vehicles (which they probably cannot afford to have done by a paid mechanic).  With their cars running efficiently, these people can then be free to travel about and share their skills and abilities with others without worrying about a mechanical breakdown.

 

Jesus used the Greek word “praxis” when he spoke of how each person would be rewarded for their “works”:

 

1 Matt 16:27  “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works (praxis).” (KJV)

 

You see, each person will be rewarded by how their repetitious performance or application of themselves in what they are gifted, or skilled at.  When you “practice” (praxis) something, it means you do it until you become proficient at it.  You must see that your condition of becoming proficient at something is usually through a systematic exercise of that skill or gift.  What you do as an individual will help others to function at their ability.

 

Another example of this is the man who dedicates himself to helping a teacher of the scripture by mowing his lawn each week.  This enables the one who is skilled in studying scripture to have the time to invest in digging out precious truths from God’s word.  You see how one man’s willingness to do what seems to be a mere mundane deed, is actually contributing to the spiritual edification of the entire church?  Now the church receives more depth in the scripture, and this releases each one to excel in that in which they are proficient.  There is now no emphasis on special “gifts” which are considered better or more needed than any other.  Everyone is working together.

 

And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, {let each exercise them accordingly}

 

1 Rom 12:6-13  And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, {let each exercise them accordingly}  if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.  Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.  (NAS)

 

Everyone in the body of Christ has a gift, which differs from another person’s gifts.  The Greek word for “gifts” is charisma, and it means a (divine) gratuity, or a (spiritual) endowment, or (objectively) miraculous faculty.  Of course, this definition of charisma allows for allot of diversity in the body of Christ.  A person could be endowed from God with a “divine gratuity”; that is, given something by God, with the anticipation (by God) that what had been given would be used to serve His people. It could be using miraculous power, or it could be counseling, or musical gifting, etc..  But gifts aren’t limited to just those things we do when assembling together for spiritual edification.

 

God has granted each one of His children special “favor” to gratify, and edify others.  His gift of divine influence upon the heart of each member of Christ’s body is so that we can use and employ it.  We are to use our gifts for serving others, whether they be miraculous gifts, or other forms of endowment.  Prophecy is no greater than the one who is gifting to sew a pair of torn blue jeans.  Both are needed, both are essential.

 

The word charisma has at it’s very root meaning the idea of being “cheerful,” i.e. calmly happy or well-off.  As we are set free to use what God has given us, unique to us and our personality, interests, skills, gifts, etc., we will find true happiness.  We can then be the Lord’s “cheerful” giver, being content with using what we know we are good at:

 

1 2 Cor 9:7-15  Let each one {do} just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, "He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness abides forever."  Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.  For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.  Because of the proof given by this ministry they will glorify God for {your} obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!  (NAS)

 

All gifts come from God.  Whether the gift is miracles, teaching, prophecy, or the less noticeable (but just as important)..........they are all from God.  The woman who is gifted in showing hospitality is a tremendous blessing, and her contribution to making others feel welcome in the home is essential for establishing meaningful relationships in the body of Christ.  Other women who observe her hospitality will be encouraged to do the same (as God has gifted them).  Thus, there is a godly example set, and this generates more and more service within the body.  Soon, everyone can begin to use what God has given them by His “grace” (i.e. - unearned favor) for service to the church, and for reaching out to the lost.

 

A few examples of lesser known, but vital gifts are given in Romans 12:6-13:

 

The gift of ‘serving’

 

There are various ways in which the gift of serving may be performed.  Much of what we do by way of service does not seem to be anything spiritual.  Yet to God, to Jesus, and to the church in need it is vital.  Jesus was a servant.  Imagine, the Lord and Master a simple servant.  Jesus washed the disciples feet, and so gave us an example of service.  Besides foot washing, Jesus revealed to us the service of reconciling people to God.  This is the ultimate manifestation of serving others.  Remember the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery?

 

Let us examine the word “service” as it applies to a gift in the body of Christ:

 

·        Ro. 12:7 - “if service, in his serving” - This word “service” is the Greek word diakonia and means to attend to something, or someone, as a servant would tend to the needs of his Master.  We are all called to be servants, with Jesus as our Master.  In 1 Cor 12:5 it says, “There are different kinds of service (diakonia), but the same Lord.”  Here are some examples of how service (diakonia) can differ:

 

Acts 6:1  “...the daily serving (diakonia) {of food.}”  (NAS)

 

Acts 6:4  “.... the ministry (diakonia) of the word.”  (NAS)

 

Acts 11:29  And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send {a contribution} for the relief (diakonia) of the brethren living in Judea.  (NAS)

1 Cor 16:14-16  Let all that you do be done in love.  Now I urge you, brethren (you know the household of Stephanas, that they were the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves for ministry [diakonia] to the saints), that you also be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labors.  (NAS)

 

2 Cor 5:18  ...........through Christ, and gave us the ministry (diakonia) of reconciliation. (NAS)

 

2 Cor 8:4   ..........the privilege of sharing in this service (diakonia) to the saints.  (NIV)

 

2 Cor 9:1  .........this service (diakonia) to the saints.  (NIV)

 

2 Cor 9:12-13  This service (diakonia) that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service (diakonia) by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.  (NIV)

 

Think of the variety of ways in which ‘diakonia’ serving has been mentioned in the Bible, and then try to make a connection with how God can use you! 

 

The daily serving of food was mentioned in Acts 6:1.  How often we fail to see our wives and mothers as anointed to serve the daily meals.  They are God’s chosen vessels, carefully preparing what we eat.  They must consider how to budget the finances so that food can be bought and prepared for weeks to come.  Special attention is given to consider what is nutritious, and to what is delicious.  Do we think of this as the gift of God?  How would we function without the proper diet?

 

Then there are those who feed not only their own families, but also feed others in need.  They may make a casserole for a family, or may feed the poor.  They may figure ways to set aside money enough to buy groceries for a single mom with kids, or an elderly lady on welfare.  This is the gift of God.  These people are not only fed, but this help, seeing it as God’s provision for them through His people, encourages them.  This causes their faith to be strengthened, and gives them hope for the future.  Do you see how important this gift is?

 

In Acts 11:29 there were those who manifested their “gift” for service by contributing to the needs of other Christians who were suffering from famine.  Is this type of service really a ‘gift?’  Yes!  The “relief” given was their diakonia.  We must see that a gift is exactly what the word implies...a GIFT!!  We shouldn’t think of gifts as merely something we do for a person’s birthday.  The gift of service includes relieving the discomfort and hunger of those in need of help.  It shouldn’t be something we charge on a credit card (as is suggested by so many Christian television programs), but it should be, “ And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send {a contribution} for the relief (diakonia) of the brethren....” 

 

In 2 Cor 8:4 the scripture says it is the, “privilege of sharing in this service (diakonia) to the saints.”  We must view the gift of service as a privilege; the privilege to share our lives, our resources with others.  As we do, we are, in fact, sharing what we have with Jesus himself.  If we have done it to one of Jesus’ brethren, even the least of them, we have done it unto him! 

 

To summarize the gift of “service” (diakonia), we need look no further to Col 4:17, which speaks to each of us, “Take heed to the ministry (diakonia) which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”  (NAS)

 

 

The gift of “exhorting”

 

This gift is greatly misunderstood.  Most Christians view exhortation as a rousing time of preaching done by a pastor, or a minister.  The Greek word for “exhorting” however means much more than merely stirring up a passionate and anointed speech.

 

·        Ro. 12:8 - “he who exhorts, in his exhortation” - The Greek word for “exhort” is parakaleo and it means, “to call near,” i.e. invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation).  This can be an entreating to come near to God, but it can also be a gift of being persuasive (not manipulative).  In other words, it is a gift given by God to an individual to invoke others.  It is an inner ability to invite others to be a part of something in which God’s purposes in the church can best be served.

 

There are examples where Paul, Peter, and the other apostles exhorted the disciples and the church.  But we must see that this gift operates in many other members of Jesus’ body in a vital manner (vital to the life and purposes of God).

 

1 Acts 9:38  And since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, entreating (parakaleo) him, “Do not delay to come to us.”  (NAS)

 

In Acts 9:38 two men, whose names are not mentioned, entreated (parakaleo) Peter to come to Joppa to pray for Tabitha (aka Dorcas) who had died.  Tabitha was a woman who had been abounding with deeds of kindness and charity, which she continually did.  She was well known in the community, and her death was greatly mourned by the many.

 

Now this precious sister had been taken away in an untimely death.  Tabitha’s love and example of kindness to others would cease, unless God raised her from the dead.  Peter, being one of the apostles, was gifted in the miraculous, and had the authority from God to raise Tabitha from the dead.  But unless these two un-named men had been gifted in parakaleo (entreating; calling near), Peter most likely would not have gone with them!!  What an important gift these two men had!  And yet, their names are not even mentioned.

 

As a result of this event, the faith of the church was increased, and Tabitha was able to continue using her service and gifts to bless the needy in the church.  Even more profound, was the effect that Tabitha’s resurrection had on the lives of the unsaved:

 

1 Acts 9:42  And it became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.  (NAS)

 

Can you imagine?  An entire city (Joppa) was impacted by this event.  And it all began because two humble servants of Christ were willing to exercise their gift of being able to entreat, or call near Peter to accompany them to Joppa!  How often-similar things must happen in the church today, and yet all the acclaim is given to the one who raises the dead, or lays hands on the sick.  We must see that every gift is needed, especially those less noticeable.

 

1 Eph 6:21-22  But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you.  And I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort (parakaleo) your hearts.  (NAS)

 

Parakaleo is a gift that also conveys the idea of comforting, and consoling.  When Paul was imprisoned for the gospel, this put the church into a great conflict.  Therefore, Paul sent Tychicus, a beloved brother who was especially gifted at comforting others, to make known to the church at Ephesus how he was doing.  This may not seem significant, but it made the difference between the church losing hope, or being encouraged to spread the gospel even more.

 

Have you ever known a Christian brother or sister who always had a way of finding something positive in negative situations?  If you tell them, “I have lost everything financially,” they will respond with great empathy and love, but encourage you by saying something like, “But you still have your health, and God will supply your needs one day at a time.”  This is one way in which the gift of parakaleo, a little known but greatly needed gift operates.

 

There are numerous places the Bible mentions parakaleo, but to summarize, there is a command for every believer to seek excellence in using this gift:

 

1 Heb 3:12-14  Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God.  But encourage (parakaleo) one another day after day, as long as it is {still} called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.  (NAS)

 

The gift of encouraging, consoling, exhorting, entreating, and so on, is all seen in the most important of gifts...parakaleo (calling near).  The verses in Heb 3:12-14 tell us that we keep our brothers and sisters in Jesus from falling into sin and deception by using parakaleo daily!  Can there be any more important gift than this?  Think of how someone’s timely encouragement was a gift from heaven to keep you from giving up, from falling into despair, from backsliding!  Wouldn’t you say this is one of the most important gifts?

 

The gift of ‘giving’

 

In today’s Christian church, there is an abuse by ministers who demand that people give money.  You cannot attend a church service, or any kind of church meeting without some kind of plea for money.  Some call it “tithing” and others call it an “offering.”  This kind of giving is not God-gifted giving.  It is giving out of duty, or coercion, or in ignorance of what it means to give God’s way.

There are those sincere, and Jesus-loving believers who give their tithes and offerings with a pure heart.  The problem is.... tithing is not a NT practice, and it detracts from what God had in mind when He told us, “the Lord loves a cheerful giver.”  It is time for the Christian church to re-evaluate its concepts of giving, and to see it as a God-given gift to meet the needs of one another in love.  It is never to be for the maintenance of a building structure or an organization alone.

 

·        Ro. 12:8 “he who gives, with liberality” - The Greek word for “give” is metadidomi and means “to give over, i.e. share.”  The preposition “meta” before didomi is denoting accompaniment; “amid.”  Thus, it is a giving “amid” the place, or opportunity where a need exists.  Those who use this giving gift should do so with “liberality.”  Liberality means with sincerity (without dissimulation or self-seeking), or (objectively) generosity (copious bestowal).

 

The following are examples of this particular gift of giving in the scripture.  Note that there are examples of giving which apply to the meeting of a person’s physical needs.  However, metadidomi is also used of those who impart the gift of giving by the very example of their life of giving.  In other words, as they demonstrate a life of meeting the needs of others, their “gift” of giving is imparted, through their example, to those in the church who have the same desire to be like Jesus.   Jesus was the ultimate example of giving, and His life’s example lives on imparting this gift to all who follow His example.

 

1 Luke 3:11  And he would answer and say to them, “Let the man who has two tunics share (metadidomi) with him who has none; and let him who has food do likewise.”  (NAS)

 

1 Eph 4:28  Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have {something} to share (metadidomi) with him who has need.  (NAS)

 

1 Rom 1:11-12  For I long to see you in order that I may impart (metadidomi) some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you {while} among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine.  (NAS)

 

1 1Thes 2:7-9  But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing {mother} tenderly cares for her own children.  Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart (metadidomi) to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.  For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, {how} working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.  (NAS)

 

We are to share what we have with others in need; that is a very basic concept.  As we mature, our metadidomi increases, and we impart spiritual gifts to the brethren, that they might be established in Jesus, and that their faith and ours might be encouraged.  A mature believer, our of fondness for the brethren in Christ, gives their very life as a means of imparting (metadidomi) themselves; that is, the accompaniment of their godly living with their example of sharing without expecting anything for themselves reproduces this same gift in the hearts and lives of those willing to do the same.

 

The gift of showing ‘mercy’

 

·        Ro. 12:8 - “he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” - This gift ranks very high in the gifts, because it is the essence of Jesus Himself.....mercy.  The Greek word used here is eleeo (el-eh-eh'-o); it means “to be compassionate,” (by word or deed, specially, by divine grace.

 

Ironically, this “gift” as it pertains to the Greek word “eleeo” is primarily used in the context of believers who receive it.  And yet, having received it, they are expected to give it.  It is a universal gift amongst believers......but it must be practiced.  In fact, to not practice the gift of mercy (with cheerfulness) can result in the loss of a person’s very soul.  No example of this is more poignant than Jesus parable of the ungrateful slave:

 

1 Matt 18:32-35  “Then the master called the servant in.  ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn't you have had mercy (eleeo) on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’  In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”  (NIV)

 

The gift of mercy requires that forgiveness from the heart towards our brothers be demonstrated as a lifestyle.  This is one gift which is not optional.  It is truly the most important gift.  It is greater than prophecy, or miracles, or healing, or casting out of demon.  It is greater than teaching, or preaching.  It is the very heart of the gospel.

 

Jesus exemplified the gift of mercy.  One could almost say Jesus WAS  the gift of mercy.  Even at the crucifixion, while tormented by his enemies, Jesus manifested the gift of mercy:

 

Luke 23:33-34

And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.  Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”  And they divided His garments and cast lots.  (NKJ)

 

Jesus revealed his compassion for those who were hurting inside, and who were tormented by the devil.  Satan delights in tormenting people mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Thus, the greatest gift we can demonstrate towards those in pain, and who suffer affliction, is to have a compassion which is accompanied by words of deliverance which sets them free.  God’s love must be a part of the fabric of our being, so that we see people as He sees them, and so that we treat them as he would.  Such was the case when Jesus cast the legion of demons out of the man in the country of the Gadarenes:

 

1 Mark 5:19  However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion (eleeo)on you.”  (NKJ)

 

It was not enough that Jesus cast the demons out of the Gadarene man.  Now he commanded this man whom he had done great things for, to go, and bear witness of the compassion which the Lord had on him.  This formerly demon-possessed man had been uncontrollable prior to his deliverance by Jesus.  Rather than have him stay with Jesus and the disciples, he could be much more effective by revealing his changed life in his own community.

 

Like the Gadarene, God wants us to demonstrate the gift of mercy to our community.  This was one of the principle truths which Jesus taught during his sermon on the Mount:

 

1 Matt 5:7  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy (eleeo).”  (NAS)

 

To obtain the gift of mercy (eleeo) we must be merciful (forgiving, with a compassionate heart).

 

Variety in the body of Christ

 

There are many more gifts, ministries, functions, effects, and manifestations of the Spirit of God in the body of Christ.  They would be far too numerous to mention.  The principles of how they should be practiced, and how they should be recognized, are summarized nicely in the following passages of scripture (God always says it better than we do!):

 

1 Cor 12:4-7, 11  Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.  And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all {persons.}  But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.........But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills........

 

We have discussed the varieties of “gifts” and “ministries,” but what of “varieties of effects?”  

The Greek word for  “varieties” means “a distinction or (concretely) variety.”  It’s root word origin means, “to separate, or to distribute.”

 

The Greek word for “effects” comes from a Greek word word energeo (en-erg-eh'-o), which is where we derive our English word “energy.”  Energeo means “to be active, efficient, or operative.”  It is derived from the Greek words “en” (in) and “ergon” (working).  Ergon is where the English word, “ergonomic comes from; something which works.

 

So there are distinct types of work, or activity, or means of operating in the body of Christ.  This encompasses all the activity in which Christians invest their energy.  It could be sending a good Christian book to someone to read.  Or taking the time to write a note of encouragement to someone in need.  Or helping another sister in Christ do some sewing.  Or helping clean up after a Christian fellowship.  Or it could involve mowing a lawn, or cleaning a rain gutter for those unable to do these things.  It could be a visit to an elderly couple.  It could simply be taking the time to fellowship with a brother or sister in the lord.  It could be doing community outreach, loving people in “deed.”

 

What type of activity God has distributed amongst the believers in His church is, “the same God who works all things in all {persons.}  We must see that the “effect” of all of this work by God’s people is a, “manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  We must not view the pastor, or any other minister’s activity as any more or less important than the contribution of each individual person.  Without the proper working of each individual, we are a dysfunctional, and spiritually disabled body of Christ.    

 

It is important to recognize that each person’s gift, or service, or work in the body of Christ is from the same Spirit of God, who works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.  God has given us all inert talents and abilities, different personalities, communication, and so forth.  If we were all the same, or if one person tried to do all the work and ministry, the other members would cease functioning properly.  This is the problem in most churches in America today.  The pastor and his staff do 90% of ministry, and what everyone else does is considered “helping” the pastor.  Wrong!  We are ALL called to work, share our gifts, and service!

 

Col 3:15-17  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms {and} hymns {and} spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do in word or deed, {do} all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.  (NAS)

 

We should always have the word of Christ (anointed) dwelling richly in us, not just at church services.  It is a lifestyle.  Think of how edifying it would be if believers all took responsibility to teach and admonish one another from the psalms.  Or to sing songs of gratitude to God throughout the day!  It would have a profound effect on one another, and on the world.  We must view the word of God as a part of what we all do every day.

 

More abundant honor

 

1 1 Cor. 12:22-25  On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those {members} of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly {members come to} have more abundant seemliness, whereas our seemly {members} have no need {of it.}  But God has {so} composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that {member} which lacked, that there should be no division in the body, but {that} the members should have the same care for one another.  (NAS)

 

What of those believers who seem to be weaker?  They have a chronic illness, and seem incapable of helping anyone?  Are they as important to the church as the pastor?  Is their contribution to the body of Christ to be honored by all?  We will see that the seemingly “weaker” members are actually considered to be the most honored in God’s eyes....and so they should be in our eyes as well!!!

 

The term “less honorable” means literally, “not valued.”  I know a woman who has suffered immeasurably from chronic illness.  She suffers daily pain of fibromyalgia, and myofascial pain.  She has little energy as a result of chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome (CFIDS).  She has had violent seizures.  There is no possible way this dear sister will ever be a part of any organized church services.  She can barely crawl out of bed at times.

 

To add insult to injury, Christians have told her that she is ill because she doesn’t fellowship at a “regular” church, or because of her lack of faith.  Yet never a more compassionate soul have I been priviledged to know.  Never a more intense prayer warrior, who interceds for God’s people constantly.  Never a morte compassionate individual, showering the most unlovable soul with God’s love and mercy.  And yet.........she is less valued than the Bible teachers, the preachers, and the so-called “anointed” men of God.

 

We have our priorities all messed up!  God wants us to see that without the shut-ins, the elderly, the forgotten, the retarded, the street Christians (some of the sweetest folks I’ve met), without the less valued, we have little, or no honor in the body of Christ!  These suffering souls have learned what it means to suffer with Christ.  They are the strength of the body of Christ, because theirs is a genuine faith born of of tribulation, and total dependence upon God!  God says, “the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary,” and “God has {so} composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that {member} which lacked, that there should be no division in the body, but {that} the members should have the same care for one another.”

 

The words “abundant honor” mean literally, “superabundant value and esteem (especially of the highest degree), or the dignity itself.”   Those who seem to be lacking have been given the place of highest dignity.  Are we viewing things this way in the church today?  I dare say not!  The Christian church needs to repent of it’s haughtiness and pride, and turn to God for a fresh revealtion of who, and what is really important!

 

The proper working of each individual part

 

1 Eph 4:15-16  But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all {aspects} into Him, who is the head, {even} Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.  (NAS)

 

In order for the church to mature, to “grow up” from our immature ways, we must see that each individual has a “proper working.”  Just like the human body is composed of thousands of parts, and each part is essential to the function of the whole, so should the church function.  We cannot cause the growth of the body of Christ effectually, and in reality, until everyone participates.  This has NOTHING to do with going to church services and participating.  It has EVERYTHING to do with how we treat one another in everyday life.

 

Even when we assemble together, there needs to be a contribution by everyone.  We need to get away from the ‘one-man’ show of having the pastor preach each week, and see that each person has the need and the responsibility to contribute something: 

 

1 1 Cor 14:26  What is {the outcome} then, brethren?  When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation.  Let all things be done for edification.  (NAS)

 

 

The structure of the church must change

 

The structure of churches and their church service ‘protocol’ prohibits the proper functioning of the individual members of the body of Christ.  How can each person exercise their gifts, their skills, or give their input, when everyone is stacked in church pews, and everyone is looking at the back of another person’s head? 

 

How can there be a practical “function” of the individual member of the church, when the preacher, or the pastor, does 90% of the speaking?  The scripture says that Christians met in homes.  This is not something for just the early church, it is the very foundation of where Christians should gather together.  When we meet in the homes of other believers, then, and only then, will each person’s contribution and participation become essential.

 

There are many scripture which reveal how the early church met in homes.  Today, most Christians outside of America, and Western civilization, gather together in homes.  In China alone, it has been estimated that perhaps as many as 300 million Christians meet underground, primarily in homes (it is illegal to meet publicly in this Communist controlled country).  This country alone has more Christians than the entire population of the United States!  They are increasing in numbers at an alarming rate, in spite of persecution.  One reason why is because they meet together in homes, and share in each other’s lives.

 

We must return to our roots.  We must follow the pattern found in scripture, and open the doors of our homes.  Soon, our freedom to meet publicly as Christians will be taken away from us, even in America.  Will we respond to God’s call now, so that we can grow in the gifts and calling of God?

 

1 Acts 2:46-47  And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.  (NAS)

 

1 Acts 5:42  And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus {as} the Christ.  (NAS)

 

1 Acts 10:22  And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was {divinely} directed by a holy angel to send for you {to come} to his house and hear a message from you.”  (NAS)

 

1 Acts 12:12  And when he realized {this,} he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.  (NAS)

 

1 Acts 16:32  And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.  (NAS)

 

1 Acts 16:40  And they went out of the prison and entered {the} house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.  (NAS)

 

1 Acts 20:20  How I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house.  (NAS)

 

1 Acts 21:8-9  Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.  He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.  (NIV)

 

1 Rom 16:3-5  Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also {greet} the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia.  (NAS)

 

1 1 Cor 16:19  The churches of Asia greet you.  Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.  (NAS)

 

1 Col 4:15  Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house.  (NAS)

 

1 Phile 1:1-2  Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved {brother} and fellow worker, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house.  (NAS)

 

1 II Jn 1:10  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into {your} house, and do not give him a greeting.  (NAS)

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

 

Rom 12:9-13

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

(NAS)

 

 

God’s love is the key to finding, receiving, and manifesting the most important gifts.  The scripture admonishes us to pursue love first, then desire spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:1).  The most important gifts are not always easily recognizable.  They do not brag.  They are not popular.  But they are the most edifying, and they produce in us the character of Jesus Christ when we yield to them.

 

The most important gifts require humility.  They require that we be in touch with God.  We must hear His voice, and respond to Him in obedience.  These gifts are not flashy, not do they get allot of recognition in the Christian church.  But they are the most important gifts to God, and they are the most important gifts to the body of Christ, the church.  Selah.



 

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