Sermon

 

 

 

The Rector’s sermon for August 13, 2017  

                                                                                                                                        

THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT


Week 10 of 16 –Evangelism, Miracles – including slides #63—70  

     

 

1 Kings 19:9-18; Psalm 85:8-13; Romans 10:5-15; Matthew 14:22-33


 

Today we resume our study of the Gifts of the Spirit.  These are the gifts we have covered: twenty-two of the thirty-one gifts.  (SLIDE #64)

 

Gifts of the Spirit

                

              Faith                         Teaching                 Mercy

              Generosity               Apostleship             Encourager

              Worship                    Leadership              Interpreting dreams

              Hospitality               Wisdom                  Prophecy

              Martyrdom               Service                   Celibacy

              Pastor                        Helps                     Missionary

              Deliverance             Discernment           Speaking in tongues

                                                                          Interpreting tongues

  

 

Here’s a recap.  (SLIDE #65).

 

Faith – a belief in God’s will in my life

Generosity – a giving/sharing of one’s entire self

Worship – an intimate encounter with God

Hospitality – opening your home to others

Martyrdom – enduring suffering and persecution for the cause of Christ

Pastor – one who assumes long-term responsibility for God’s people

Deliverance – the ability to confront demonic forces

 

We began with Faith.  While all gifts are equal, where would we be without the belief that God is in control of our lives?  So we should all strive to have the gift of Faith.  Next we looked at Generosity, sharing of our entire self with others in whatever way God’s directs us;  Worship, that intimate encounter with God that we can experience through prayer and music, especially when we gather together on Sunday morning in a community of faith;  Hospitality, specifically the gift of opening our homes to others; Martyrdom, enduring suffering for the sake of the Gospel; Being a Pastor, one who assumes a long-term responsibility for a group of God’s people;  Deliverance, while we don’t like to think of demonic forces being among us, God gives a few of his people the ability to drive them out only with very special instruction through the church;  (SLIDE #66) 

 

            Teaching – empowering another for ministry

            Apostleship – a godly leader of leaders

            Leadership – a protective authority that glorifies God

            Wisdom – insight to make godly choices

            Service – meeting the needs involved in God’s work

            Helps – using your talents to in turn support another’s ministry

            Discernment – the ability to detect Truth

 

Teaching, empowering and guiding others for ministry; Apostleship, a leader of leaders; Leadership, one who leads God’s people for the purpose of doing His Will;  Wisdom, that God-given insight to be able to make godly choices;  Service, meeting the needs of others—again, doing what’s involved in the work of God;  Helps, using your talents to support another’s ministry; Discernment, the ability to understand truth;  (SLIDE #67)

    Mercy  - the ability to feel genuine empathy

    Encourager – one who offers words of comfort and help

    Interpreting dreams  - decoding God’s message through dreams

    Prophecy – an inspired message from God to encourage, edify or correct

    Celibacy – one who gives up the gift of human intimacy for the glory of God

    Missionary – the ability to use gifts in a second culture

    Miracles – signs that proclaim God’s presence

    Speaking in tongues – praying in a language only God understands

    Interpreting tongues – a gift to interpret what is spoken in tongues

 

Mercy, empathy and compassion for others in need.  Encourager, one who offers words of hope to another in need or distress;  Interpreting dreams, being able to understand messages from God through dreams; Prophecy, that gift that brings a specific message from God to his people;  Celibacy, the gift that allows one to sacrifice human intimacy for a greater relationship with God; Being a Missionary, taking the gospel to another culture;  Speaking in tongues, praying in a language only God understands;  and Interpreting tongues, the ability to interpret that language when it is spoken in public.  That’s where we’ve been in this preaching series.  If you missed any of them or if you are new today, all of those sermons can be found in the Narthex or on the website.   

 

In today’s reading from Romans, Paul gives us a definition of being saved and how it only happens if someone else tells that person about Jesus, which is a rough definition of the gift of Evangelism (SLIDE #68). 

 

Evangelist

The gift of evangelism, in short is bring another to Christ.

One with this gift can present the Gospel in such a way

That others believe it and accept Christ into their lives.

‘euangelistes’

Greek for “bearer of Good News”

 

An evangelist is one who brings another person to know Jesus.  Simple as that.  Such a person is able to present the Gospel in such a way that others believe it and accept Christ into their lives.  The apostle Paul says in this morning’s reading: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  But then he says how can anyone call on the name of the Lord if they have never been told about the Lord?  “How are they to hear without someone to teach them?  And how are they to proclaim Him unless they are sent?...How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!  That is the gift of Evangelism. I’d rather use ‘evangelism’ than ‘evangelist’ because the word “evangelist”—sadly—carries with it a lot of baggage, both positive or negative.  You might disregard this gift thinking that you could never be an evangelist because you could never measure up to the likes of a Billy Graham, or you could dismiss this gift altogether because the last thing you would want is to be like some of the imposters on television who claim to be evangelists. 

 

The word ‘evangelism’, however, surpasses all that baggage.  Evangelism is simply and profoundly bringing another person to Jesus.  Evangelism is presenting the Gospel to a non-believer, or even someone who has fallen away from God, and leading him or her to faith in Christ.  Would that we allhad the gift of evangelism!    Someone with the gift of evangelism will freely speak about God and help others to understand the saving grace of Jesus.  How would you do that?  By making your pitch on that person’s level.    You wouldn’t go up to a blind person, preach about church doctrine and expect him to drop to his knees and accept Christ as his Lord and Savior.  No, you would tell him the love story of a God who became man, lived as we live, and that he eventually was put to death out of love for him—that blind person—and that because of that sacrifice, there is a place prepared especially for him in heaven where he would be able to see.  That he would understand and surely be ready to embrace.  In the letter to the Hebrews the writer says you can only reach baby believers by using “milk, not solid food.”  The writer says, “Solid food is for the mature, for those who can distinguish good from evil…”   Milk, however, is that evangelism that can be understood by all, especially at the beginning of his or her walk with Christ.

 

People often commit themselves to Jesus not only because of what an evangelist says, but also because of who an evangelist is.   You may not think you have the gift of evangelism, but your manner of life may speak otherwise.  Someone may see you as an example of a follower of Christ, and your example may be all that is needed to bring someone to commit their life to Jesus.    

The second gift of the Spirit I want to talk about this morning is the gift of Miracles.  (SLIDE #69)

 

Miracles

energemata Dunameon

in New Testament Greek

Translated “operation of powers”

wonders and signs that proclaim God’s

presence and authority

 

Miracles are supernatural, outside of our comfort zone.  Miracles transcend the law of nature and proclaim the power and presence of God.  Miracles are amazing to say the least.  And this morning’s gospel gives us somewhat of a miracle when Peter walks on the water toward Jesus.  Nobody can walk on water, unless the water is frozen!  When Jesus told Peter to step out of the boat and walk toward him, a miracle was about to occur, and the only way it could occur was with the faith of Peter…I’m about to step out of this solid boat and walk on water, because Jesus told me to, and I believe that Jesus will keep me safe!  As the gospel account goes, Peter has a moment of fear, begins to sink, and Jesus still saves Him.  The lesson is even in our sinful, doubtful human nature, Jesus will always save us, as long as we believe in him.

 

Now there are those who believe that those things we might call miracles don’t happen any more, that they ceased when the apostles died.  But in John’s gospel, chapter 14, Jesus himself says, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.  I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have done.  And he will do even greater things than these…”  Miracles—things that cannot be explained—happen all around us if we become aware of the possibilities.   But miracles are not ends in themselves; miracles are signs that proclaim the presence and power of God in a sinful, broken world.  Miracles give glory to God, they testify to the power of God, and they are meant to lead people to a deeper faith or even to repentance and an amendment of their lives.  As examples, physicians can’t explain how a person’s cancer has disappeared when that person was given a negative diagnosis.  Physicians see miracles.  And how do we explain the survival of only one or two people in a horrific plane crash?  Oh, yes, maybe they were in just the right spot on the plane to be protected, but why can’t it simply be a miracle, and that God has a special task for that person to accomplish?

 

Sometimes a person is in the right place at the right time and God uses him or her as a spotlight to reveal His glory, to show God’s authority over nature.  Miracles don’t make any sense, but they aren’t meant to; their purpose is to showcase a supernatural God.  If something is supernatural, it cannot be understood.  Miracles simply bear witness to what Almighty God can do.

 

Since we’re talking about miracles, I would be amiss if I let the Old Testament reading go by.  Here we have Elijah cowering in a cave.  Why? What lead him there?  Well, first you need to know a little bit about Elijah and his mission.  Elijah was a prophet sent from God to deliver a message of confrontation, not comfort.  Elijah was not the kind of prophet one wanted around especially if you were doing something wrong!  God sent Elijah to “evangelize” if you will, to the kings of his day who were straying very far from God, and most of the kings rejected Elijah’s message.  God even performed many miracles at the hands of Elijah; still the kings did not believe.  One such miracle, and what sent Elijah running for his life and ending up in a cave on Mt. Sinai, happened just before today’s passage.  There is a confrontation between Elijah and King Ahab.  The king accuses Elijah of being a troublemaker, and Elijah tells the king that he and his family are the problem, because they have continued to worship Baal and other gods and have refused to follow the one true God.  Now comes a showdown at Mt. Carmel.  Elijah stands alone before the king and 450 false prophets of Baal.  Elijah says, “I will prove to you who is the one true God.  Go get two bulls, one for all of you, and one for me.  We’ll cut them up—you lay your pieces on your altar to Baal, and I’ll do the same to God.  We’ll pray to our God to start the fire and burn up the offerings.” 

 

Then Elijah says, “You go first, because there are so many of you!”  So they do.  They cut up the bull, place the pieces on the altar and they start calling on the name of Baal.  It’s early in the morning, and this goes on until noon.  Elijah mocks them and says, “You’ll have to shout a little louder for your god to hear.  Maybe he’s daydreaming or away on a trip!”  The king’s prophets shout louder, they begin to cut themselves, but nothing happens.  Finally Elijah says, “Come over here.”  They watch as Elijah builds an altar, piles wood on it, digs a trench around it, cuts the bull in pieces and lays the pieces on the altar.  Then he tells a couple of men to fill four large jars with water and pour the water over the animal pieces, the wood and the altar!  Now I’m not an outdoor camping person, but even I know that you don’t build a fire with wet wood!  But this was all to show the almighty power and presence of God.  Elijah prays a simple prayer:  “Lord, I know you are the one, true God.  Show these people who you are!”  This is what Scripture says:  “Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust.  It even licked up all the water in the trench!”  The people fall on their faces and believe, but Elijah has all of Baal’s prophets killed.  The king is none too happy, and Elijah flees for his life.  And that’s why we find Elijah cowering in the cave.  Even though God has just performed an amazing miracle at the hands of Elijah, his human fear leads him to flee.  And to show the other extent of the power of God, he doesn’t speak to Elijah in a raging wind, or in an earthquake, or in fire.  God, who has just shown his face in a huge, miraculous visual event, now speaks to Elijah in “the sound of sheer silence.”  Elijah “hears” the silence, realizes that it is his God again, and God tell him that he is safe and gives him his next mission.  You can’t make this stuff up!  The awesomeness of God was present then, is present now, and that same God has given you gifts to do His work in the world!

 

(SLIDE #70) 

What gifts

has Almighty God

given YOU?

 

What gifts has God given you?  How does he want you to continue his kingdom on earth?  As fall approaches our programs will begin again, new opportunities will be offered to you, and the gifts God has given you will come into play.  If your life doesn’t seem very fulfilled, perhaps God has a gift for you that will open doors in other areas in the church.  Remember that our God promises peace and joy to those who love and serve him, not a peace that doesn’t last or a joy that is fleeting, but a presence of His Spirit that will come over your lives and help you overcome any obstacle, any sickness, any disaster that the world can put before you.  The Holy Spirit of God must be the center of your life.  The Holy Spirit of God will strengthen you every day if you just give your lives over to him…and I can’t make this stuff up either!  It’s a promise that has come directly from Jesus himself.  Listen for his direction in the silence of your heart, and he will show you his power to overcome the world!