This was the first non-funeral sermon I had preached in quite sometime.  I actually had begun writing this about a week before I was invited to preach it.  So it felt good to be in a pulpit again just preaching because I was moved to and invited to, not in the course of mourning a loss. There is an interesting story regarding how this sermon developed, but I will save that for another time.  Hope you enjoy it.

1st Corinthians 12:1; 4-11

Now concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant. .........Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.  For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;  To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;  To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:  But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

What Is Your Spiritual Gift?

Let us pray…………..

We have here Paul speaking to the church at Corinth about the several gifts that God has given man.  These special gifts that God has given to each and every person.  Some say there are 19 spiritual gifts.  Some say there are more than 20. And there are others, which is the one I personally believe, who say that there are so many spiritual gifts, it would be difficult for us to number them all.

But what exactly is a spiritual gift?  And how do you know you have it?  And then once you figure out that you have it, how do you use it?  How do you use it for the betterment of God and yourself?

I think one of the reasons Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians was to do something more than just lift them up and given them encouragement.  There is a large part of me that says that Paul wanted the members of this early Christian Church to know that God has a plan for them.  And while we are all endowed with that great gift called Free Will, Paul still wanted the members of Corinth to know that God has already equipped them with certain attributes or gifts, to give them help and aid.

Have you ever encountered someone who said they weren’t good at anything?  Or maybe someone who was at a point in their life where they didn’t exactly what they wanted to do or what they wanted to be.  As you are preparing for your Youth Revival, it is particularly noteworthy to acknowledge that there are a lot of children, teenagers, young adults and adults alike who have no idea what they are capable of.

Finding your station in life is not an east task.  There are millions of people who wander around aimlessly in life, not knowing what to do next or how they should do it.  But somewhere, in the core of their soul, they feel as if they are destined for something greater. 

They can’t explain it, they can’t describe it, they can’t put their finger on it.  But somewhere deep inside, they know, that they should be doing something……ANYTHING…….aside from what they are or are not doing at the moment.

And it is that gnawing, gut feeling, that indescribable “thing” that you need to seek out.  To find what it is that God has placed within you.  And to use it not only for the betterment of yourself, but also to the glory of God in the process. 

Sometimes it comes easy.  I realized one of my gifts early on in life.  My gift of writing.  Now I was never a great athlete, I was never a wiz at the books, but I knew, almost from the start that I could write.  In grade school I would write short stories and plays and the like.  As I migrated to high school, I developed an interest in journalism, which carried over to college.  Then as time grew on, my interest in journalism dissipated, but my desire to write, to express myself with the written word intensified.  In college I started writing a book, but never finished it.  I kept writing short stories and other stories.  I would keep a journal just to have something to write.  It didn’t always matter to me if someone read it, but I had to write.

Then one day, before going to church, inspiration struck me.  And I would spend the next six years of my life working on that inspiration.  The result of that is a yet to be published novel, but one that I know will be published.

My writing talent, depending on who you talk to, has been both a blessing and a curse in my ministry. In fact, after the first time my father heard me preach, he said, “Well, I knew you could write, but I didn’t know you could speak.”  Tho there are still some people who still claim I can’t speak very well in public.

But it was this writing thing, this desire to express myself, this need to put words to paper, or my case, fingers to a keyboard, since I type everything on the computer……but it was this need to express my spirituality, my faith, my calling, my religion, my God…….that has brought me through some really rough times.

And it wasn’t really until about 5 years ago I really realized that this writing thing, this talent, this gift, came from none other than God.  This was the one thing that God decided I would be good at, the one thing that no one could take away from me.

So why am I bringing all this up?  Very simple.

How many people here this morning know EXACTLY what their spiritual gift is?  Show by raising your hands…..

Now, how many people THINK they know what their spiritual gift MIGHT be, but aren’t too sure?  Again, raise your hands.

Finally, how many people here have NO CLUE as to what their gift is?

The majority of us fall into the latter two categories.  Those who think they know and those who have no clue.  But I am here to show you this morning that you in fact DO know what you gift is.  All you have to do is think a little bit, do a little bit of self-examination, and do some prayer, and I tell you, with a bit of faith, your spiritual gift, your personal gift from God will be revealed to you.

Think of it this way.  Is there one thing your friends, family, co-workers or church members are always asking you to do?  Is it one of those things that no matter where you go, where you are, even if you are with people who do not know you at all.  Somehow, someway, you wind up doing the same thing time after time after time.

Now this can be as simple as singing in the choir.  But you don’t think you have a great voice.

Or maybe it’s decorating the church or making up really pretty signs.

Maybe you are the one your friends always call when they have a problem.

Or maybe you are the one that they call not when they have a problem, but when they need someone to listen.

Maybe you’re the type of person that is a wiz with money, even though you are not an accountant or a CPA. 

Or maybe you’re good with your hands, able to fix any and everything just by looking at it once or twice.

Now there are millions of other examples.  But if you find yourself doing something time and time again, and you’re GOOD at it……you, my brothers and sisters, are on your way to discovering your spiritual gift. 

If you stop and think about it, the gift from God is something that is usually quite obvious to everyone but YOU.  But they’ll call you arrogant or conceited if you are always doing it and know you’re doing it well.  But why should you be arrogant about a gift that your Father, your Heavenly Father, the one who knows all, sees all and creates all, gives you?  Once you get to the point that you realize what it is that God has given you, why shouldn’t you use it?  Why shouldn’t you help people with your gift.  Or the better question, why shouldn’t you help YOURSELF with the gift that YOUR God gave YOU?

Think about it.  Think about it long and hard.  We as Christians are supposed to be this humble lot.  Meek and unassuming.  But when you have a God like the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, the same God that could part the sea, turn water into wine, create the world with the wave of a hand, and that is the same God that gives you a gift…………….shouldn’t you be proud?  Should be bold in sharing that gift?  Especially when it might help someone BESIDES you?

You see, there are too many people wandering around in this life, waiting for their moment in the sun.  Their moment to shine.  Their moment to prove all the naysayers and the non-believers wrong.  But they need something.  Just one thing to show everyone that they are not living their life in vain.  One thing to show that they are worthy to be a child of God.  Just one thing to show that their life is indeed worth living. 

That one thing, is your gift from God.  That one thing is what God has ordained for you to do or be.  The one thing that He has called you to do.  Because let’s not fool ourselves.  Preachers aren’t the only ones that are called.  And even then, some preachers call themselves.  But just as God calls preachers, he calls teachers, doctors, lawyers, electricians, plumbers, bus drivers, caterers, you name it.  If there is something that you excel at, chances are, God called you to be that and do that.

There is no profession that is NOT noble according to God, especially if He called you to it in the first place.

Years ago, there was the big debate between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois.  Booker T. said go and learn a trade.  That was the best thing for black folks to do.  But then DuBois came with his Talented Tenth theory, and encouraged blacks to go to school and get educated.  And you even had them at odds with each other.  Both of these God fearing men, were at odds over what path and what route black people should take.

But God has made it possible for us to take BOTH paths, and then a couple of others.  There are some of us who are not mechanically inclined at all.  Wouldn’t know what to do with a hammer if it hit THEM on the head.  Then there are those people, who aren’t that good with the intellectual pursuits.  They just can’t get into the whole “book and school thing.”  And that’s okay.

Let me pause here for a moment.  You know, sometimes we do our own people, especially our own young people, a disservice.  We push college, college, college.  Well I am here to tell you that college is not for everyone.  There are some people who are just not suited for that environment.  These are people who should be encouraged to go out and seek a trade, if that is their inclination.  What’s wrong with going to cosmetology school or being a barber?  Everyone needs their hair done or hair cut.  What’s wrong with being a journeyman, or a plumber’s apprentice?  Everyone needs a plumber or an electrician.  In fact, I have a friend right now, who never went to college, who stands this year to make more as a electrician and telephone installer than some of my friends who are in corporate America. What’s wrong with using your hands to make a living?  Why do we put this pressure on our kids to make them think that college is the only answer?  It’s wrong and it’s unfair.  We need to allow our children to come into their own in their own way and stop pushing our will, which isn’t always theirs, on them. 

But I digress.  A spiritual gift, is much like a calling.  Sooner or later, you are going to have to use it. So why not spend some time, talk to God, listen to God, and most importantly, pay attention to God and what He is telling you and giving you and use the gift or gifts that He is giving you.

We must notice that Paul does not tell us in the scriptures that I read earlier that we only get one gift. He says in verse 11 “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

Paul says in the beginning of those verses, he didn’t want the people of Corinth to be ignorant.  He didn’t want them to go unaware.  He wanted them to have knowledge.  Knowledge of self and knowledge of God.  And knowledge of the gifts that God has bestowed upon His people.  And God is saying that to you.  What good is a God who has those who are unaware and unexamined?  God wants us to be enlightened, knowledgeable, intelligent, and confident in those abilities that He has given us.  He wants our young people to grow up to use the several gifts He has given them, and use them to the best of their God given ability.

You see, we toss around the phrase “gift from God” lightly.  To me, tho it is not listed, one of the greatest sins is to waste your gift.  To not use it to it’s fullest potential.  Sure you may not be rich, you may not have the big car or the big house.  But you will have that relationship with God, something far more valuable that money, clothes, cars, homes.  That relationship with God, when He works though you and with you, to use your gift.  The right way and the proper way.  If you truly understand what a “gift from God is” something that only God can give you and no one, nothing, no force, no power, real or imagined, can take away from you – then you start getting further and further away from that ignorance Paul spoke of in the first verse.  That a “gift from God”, a spiritual gift, is yours for the using.  After all, why would God give it to you if He didn’t want you to use it.

God makes many avenues available to learn how to use your spiritual gifts.  The church is one good place.  The church – the former hub of the black community.  The place to come to find out information.  Where people honed their skills and their talents.  How many singers have we heard say the place they first learned to sing was not in music school or by listening to the radio, but by singing in church. 

 If we took the collective talent that is present in our churches around this country, molded and shaped our young people into recognizing and utilizing their gifts, there is no telling what we, as a community, would be able to accomplish.  We wouldn’t be worrying about education in our schools, because we’d be turning out the best and the brightest around.  We’d be turning out doctors and lawyers and plumbers and electricians and teachers at a rate none of us can imagine.  If we use the gifts that God has given us, and applied them, and applied them in the right way, with the right motivation, there is no telling what we would be able to accomplish.

God already started us off with one basic gift.  One primary gift.  The gift of all gifts.  The gift of Jesus.  The gift of the one who came to sacrifice all the He was in order that the rest of us might accept that gift, then accept the other gifts that are to come.

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