God Given Gifts

So this was the preach which I did this morning (3/9/17) I hope you take something away from it as much as I did.

Introduction

Good morning everyone, I hope everyone has had a good summer holiday and soon enough we’ll be back to what was regularly scheduled, whether that be work, some people I know are back to school and I shall be back to Mattersey within the next two weeks or so. It shall be fun and challenging, as our walk with God should be. This morning, I believe God has drawn me to a piece of scripture that I would like to show you and hopefully we can all take something away from it. We’ll be reading from Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 25. Now one thing I think we can all agree on is that during his ministry, Jesus’ teachings was simply put, phenomenal.

Dr. John Andrews says that the best teachers are the ones that can make the complicated, simple. If we are going to go with that then Jesus was and continues to be the best teacher that has ever lived. One of Jesus’ tools to teach were parables, because we can learn more easily from a story, we get connected to it in a way that is easier than just saying what you want people to learn. We’re going to be looking at one of Jesus’ parables this morning, so starting from verse 14:

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more.  But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
– Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus said those words, we tend to forget that Jesus can talk like this. Not just to people who live in sin, but clearly as it says to his own servants. He is good and just in all circumstances. But Jesus told this parable to his disciples shortly after telling them that he himself will come back at the unknown hour and he expects us to do work and to be ready for him.

Now I do want to say very quickly, that if you know me then you will know that I am not a big fan of the “We are in the final days”, in the sense of that people will say “It’s going to happen this week, this day, RIGHT NOW! THE END IS COMING!”, please sit down, have a cup of tea, relax! I do find that belief too much, but I can truly say without doubt is that Christ is going to return, we don’t know when, but he will. He will come like a thief in the night, so we need to be ready for him at any situation.

Jesus teaches his disciples this lesson, and he tells them to be ready. In this parable there are many things that we can take away and I have discovered three which will be useful for us as a church today.

  • God Gives us Gifts

That’s nice isn’t it? God has given us gifts. The master in the parable calls his servants and gives to each of them some gold. What I love most about Christianity, is that it is a lot more than just coming to church singing a few songs, then leaving. There is a lot more to it than that, God wants to be a part of all our lives, in every aspect and he is the God that wants to provide for us as well. You can ask many people in this church this morning and they can tell you that God has provided for them in special and unique ways. God has provided people financially, through health scares, through education, through drugs and alcohol and through a variety of blessings to each of them. But more than gifts of this world, God has given us the gift of eternal life, through the death of his son, Jesus Christ. Who died on a cross so that you and I can be reconciled to God, that us sinners that can never get it right, can be made righteous through his blood. Now that the curse of sin has been broken, God can provide for us in the ways that we have already said but also through spiritual gifts. Gifts which are extremely useful for us when we are building his glorious kingdom.

When we read Paul’s letters to the church, we can see quite clearly that there are a number of gifts that God has given us, they include prophecy, serving, teaching, healing, mercy, the gift of tongues, interpreting tongues, I can go on if you like. What I would like to say is that God has given each of us gifts, what we need to do not just as a church but individually, we need to accept them and receive from God. The only way we can truly receive these gifts is through the Holy Spirit, the one who comes into our lives and gives us what we need in whatever season it may be. So, if we do want these gifts, that will mean that we need to be in communication with the Holy Spirit. God wants us to have these gifts from him, it is rude to refuse a gift after all.

  • We Have Different Roles

As we go back to the parable, we see the master before he goes on his journey gives to each of his servants different amount of gold each according to their ability. For one, he is given 5 bags, for another 2 bags, and another just one bag. Now does this mean that God has his favourites and only gives gifts abundantly to those that he likes more? Absolutely not. Paul again writes to the Corinthians that we all have a purpose in the church as well as doing what I like to call ‘Kingdom building’. Paul writes:

Just as a body, though one has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. – 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

What I love most about that, is that we all do have a place in the kingdom of God. That God has called us all into his truly incredible plan. He could very easily done everything on his own, but he wants us to be a part of it. Whether for a small time it could be a huge thing, like speaking to someone about the kingdom of God, or doing what I’m doing and preaching on a Sunday morning, but it could just be helping out wherever you can. For example, just this past week I was in Maltby and me and a friend called Mac had to move some tiles in the church from one room into another, like proper take them out of the floor and then place them into another room, using nothing but mallets and chisels. Now after the first two hours, our hands were shaking, they were red and there was scrapped skin all over our knuckles, Mac said that when he went home his hand was swollen, but whilst we was doing the job, I jokingly say ‘Hey! This is for the kingdom!’ and Mac just turns to me and he says ‘Yeah! We shouldn’t be complaining, this is what God wants to us to do and we’re going to do it gladly!’ Despite our hands looking wretched, we carried on because that was where God wanted us to be and that’s what he wanted us to do. Within the next few months that room will eventually be turned into a café where people in that area can have a coffee, relax and be in a church and have every opportunity to be taught the Gospel. Now moving tiles may not be a massive thing for many people, but I can say boldly that we did something that has influenced someone’s decision to follow Christ and with that I am satisfied.

Of course it can be a small thing, but as we will soon see that when we trust God that he will provide when we do the small things, he will provide us more with bigger gifts that we will more than blessed. One quick story, as some of you may know Mattersey lost a principal this last year. On the 12th October it was announced that would be the case, so me and a friend set up a night of fellowship where we would all be together, praying about what happened that day. Now I went out of my way and bought pizza for everyone and I didn’t really mind whether I got paid back or not, but God used me in circumstances which I never saw myself doing at the start of the year, I was valued and respected by staff members and class mates alike, and I was also blessed to see the leadership qualities that God has blessed me with.

Now I would really don’t want to blow my own trumpet so instead I’ll blow God’s trumpet and be ever so amazed that God worked through that situation, it was really was a grey day at Mattersey, and I was going to get pizza just for myself because I’m greedy like that, but God just said to me within minutes of the announcement “People are upset, get pizza, be together” and that’s what we did.

  • Gifts Are to Be Used

Which brings me to my last point, we know that God gives us gifts, and to that he gives them to different people for different roles, but then it is our responsibility to use those gifts. Gifts are meant to be used. Now we see in the parable that the two with 5 bags and 2 bags earned double then what they had, because they used them and invested with them. The one with 1 bag just buried it and never used it. Now when the master comes back in the story, he is overwhelmed with joy for the men who have increased their amount of gold and are then trusted with more. The one who didn’t use his gold, that gold was taken from him and was not regarded as a servant by the master and was thrown outside. Now, remember Jesus is telling this parable to his disciples in reference to his eventual return, so he expects us as church (not just Peoples but The Church) to use the gifts that the Holy Spirit has provided for us to further on his church. God has provided us with gifts and tools as I have already said, we need to use them otherwise they are being wasted, and we may as well (like the one servant) bury God’s gift in the ground. What are we to do with the gifts that God has provided us with? Use them! Again from Paul he encourages us to use the gifts that God has given us, it says in Romans 12 that:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. – Romans 12:6-8

Again, we are all called to do different things within the church, some of these gifts people here use and they use them well, this morning we are surrounded by leaders and teachers and amazing servers. But in listening to what Paul tells us to do, we all can do these gifts in some capacity, and God wants us to do all of these not just the bare minimum but for us to do them all to the best of our abilities. Now church, this is important for us to be able to use the gifts that God has given us, because if we don’t then we are wasting what God has handed us. I believe that when God hands us something, he wants us to use what he has handed us and when we do, he will celebrate with us when we see him face to face, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Jesus coming back, and asking me what I have done with what he has given me and I just dig it out of the ground, God’s gift covered in dirt and mud. I would rather not do that, and see the look of disappointment on his face.

Now again, if we was to do everything on our own with these gifts it would be a train wreck, all of us are great at something, but are really not good in many other things, but again it is all about being dependent on the Holy Spirit, who gives us these gifts, encourages us and will bless us through these gifts. Now I’m not going to say, if we are dependant now then we are going to be great at everything, because if I did then I would be a liar, but I will say is that as we continue spending time with the Holy Spirit then he will build us up, and with every step that we take with God, we will be bolder and stronger in the gifts that God has given us.

Conclusion

As I come to a close, I believe it is important for us this morning to be dependent on the Holy Spirit because without God working in our lives, without God having an input in our lives then we are truly nothing. But it shouldn’t be just every Sunday morning, it should be every day as we continue living our lives, going to work, going to the shops, even going to school. I’ve said this plenty of times already, but God is ready to give us all gifts, it is our responsibility to accept, receive and use them.

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