Giving Your Gifting
What is your gift? Find out what God has gifted you with and then hand it over to Him to use so that you can serve His people.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing alright? Oh, I’m so glad to be back with you once again and trust that God will bless the Word of God to our hearts as we share together from the 16th chapter of Romans. Paul says, “I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church at Cenchrea; that ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you, for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.”
Now, there’s two things that he says about her and two things that the church at Rome was to do for her. First of all, he said, she is a servant. If you’ll look in your Greek New Testament, that’s our word “deacon,” “diakonos,” whether or not she had an official position in that church, I’m not going to argue because we could get into a real rhubarb about it feelings being what they are today about women’s role in the church. So let’s leave that aside. Whatever you believe, go ahead and believe it.
In any case, she was active in the church. She was happily, blessedly, active in the church and she was an official representative of the church at Cenchrea, okay? That, I think, we cannot, successfully dispute. All of those things are true. And it says, “She’s a servant.” And the last time we got together, we remarked that for you and for me to serve in the local church simply means find the gift that God has given you and use it for His glory. There are different gifts that God has given.
“God hath set some in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” Not everyone is an apostle. Not everybody is a prophet. Not everybody is a teacher, and so on; not everybody has the same gifts but you use the gift that you have. He said, “According as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”… this is Romans 12:4… “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office. So we, being many, are one body in Christ. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation; he that teacheth, on teaching; he that ministers, let us wait on our ministering; he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth do it with diligence; he that showeth mercy, do it cheerfully.”
Different gifts, different abilities that God has given to different people. I think there is no question but that God has made provision for different kinds of people with different kinds of gifts all of them working together in the local church and forming part of that greater group which we call His body – the church. I think we can all agree on that, can we not? Now, then, if that be true, and since it is true, when you come to the meaning of this word “serve,” whether you’re a man or a woman is beside the point, find the place where God uses you particularly and then use that gift for His glory.
Teaching, singing, writing, leading, following, praying, calling – whatever it may be, let God use you in whatever way He has gifted you but use that gift to the full. Somebody says, “Well, I can’t get out. I can’t go calling. I can’t even get to church, Brother Cook. I’m shut-in.” Well, beloved, you can pray clear around the world before breakfast any day. Your prayers can help to move the ministry of somebody else who’s in the forefront of the battle, half a world away. A pastor in a church in Michigan pointed out to me a dear lady standing across the church vestibule from us one day after I had finished the service and he pointed out the lady. He said, “That is one of the most wonderful prayer helpers in all the world.”
He said, “When I was on the mission field, there was a time during an uprising in the country that I was in where my life was very much in danger and I recall praying, ‘Oh, God, get somebody to intercede for me and help me.’” And at that very moment, back in Michigan, a dear lady, this lady whom he had pointed out, was awaked out of a sound sleep and felt very strongly she ought to pray for this young man. She got out of bed, got down on her knees, and prayed for some time earnestly that God would watch over him.
When he came back on furlough later to become the pastor of his home church there in that Michigan city, when he came back on furlough, he sought out the lady and he said, “If, by any chance, do you remember, were you particularly burdened to pray for me at a given time?” “Oh,” she said, “yes, I remember clearly. I woke out of a sound sleep and I felt so burdened to pray for you.” They compared the time difference and adjusting for the time difference in the different zones in which she lived and in which he was living half way around the world, it turned out to be that it was exactly that moment when his life was in danger and he was crying out to God for help that the Holy Spirit of God awakened this dear prayer warrior and had her pray.
I have always cherished the knowledge that God dropped into my mind there as I went through that experience with these dear saints of his, a return missionary who discovered that God has His ways of doing things through prayer. And so I formed the deep conviction that even though a person may be shut away from the frontlines of the battle, by prayer, you can serve. I say that for somebody who feels as though there isn’t much more that you can do. Dear friend, call up Heaven everyday on behalf of others and you will be helping them to win the battle through answer to prayer.
Whatever your gift is – to sing, to play, to write, to lead, to follow, to call on people, to win souls in personal evangelism, or to preach or whatever it may be. Some people have the gift of administration and some have the gift of helping. That’s one of the gifts that is listed in Corinthians – the gift of help. Whatever your gift may be, use it for His glory. A dear lady in Florida said to me one day after a service was concluded. She said, “You asked us to decide what it was we could give to God, all I can do is to be a good hostess. I can cook a good meal and I guess I have the gift of hospitality and I promised my Savior that I was going to use that for His glory.” Well, Amen. That’s how God works.
Dr. Ted Place who lives in the Miami area and has a gracious ministry of preaching and counseling and writing told, here on our campus a few years back, what happened to him as a high school boy. He got down on his knees one day and said, “Jesus, I want to give you my life but I don’t have any abilities. I can’t speak, I stammer, and I get embarrassed when I’m asked to recite in school and I can’t sing and I can’t do anything. The only thing I can do is gymnastics. I can tumble. I can do gymnastics. So I’m going to give you that.”
And so he prayed that simple prayer as a young high school boy. The following day after school was over, it was a nice warm spring day and he thought, “Well, I’ll go down by the river at the park by the river,” this was in a little New Jersey town. He said, “I’ll go down to the park by the river just sort of do some tumbling and have some fun.” So go he did and he arrived at the little grassy place where there was a very fine well-trimmed bed of grass by the riverside and he started doing cartwheels and front summersaults and back summersaults and whatnot and when he paused, to his surprise, he saw that he had an audience of good many people watching him.
They had come from nowhere, it seemed, and they were standing there quietly watching this young man doing his gymnastics. The Holy Spirit of God, he said, whispered to him, “Tell them about Jesus. Tell them that you gave yourself to Me.” “Oh,” he thought to himself, “I can’t do that,” but the impression was still so strong and so as he looked at the crowd looking back at him silently, he said, “You are watching me do these tumbling tricks and these gymnastic exercises.” He said, “I want you to know that yesterday, I gave my ability to do gymnastics to Jesus, my Savior, and I want to recommend Him to you as well.” And then he went on with his tumbling.
That, he said, was the start of the development of a ministry in his life because the Lord led him to learn how to lead singing and then led him to seminary and taught him how to speak in public and made him the leader of overseas gospel teams that he took abroad with Youth for Christ and made of him a very fine leader in many ways; a precious man of God. Well, the years have gone by now and he’s a grandfather, young looking grandfather. He can still do a cartwheel and a summersault faster than I can tell you.
But at the same time, the lesson is there: give God the gift that you have. Give Him what you have. What is your gift? Find out what God has gifted you with and then hand it over to Him to use so that you can serve His people in the local church, and in the larger sense, the body of Christ all around the world. “She has been a servant,” it says, “of the church.” Now, then, what else? He said, “She has been a succourer of many.” We won’t be able to get into this word all the way while this broadcast lasts but if the Lord spares us another time, we will.
This word “succourer” is the Greek word “prostatis” which means “a person who has responsibility, who cares for the affairs of others, and helps them out of his or her own resources.” That’s quite a mouthful but you’ll find those exact words in Thayer’s Lexicon, if you want to look it up. “A person who has been given responsibility”, that’s the concept of a patroness or an overseer or whatever it may be – “a person who has been given responsibility, who cares for the affairs of others and helps them from his or her resources.” That’s what that word means.
A “succourer” means “a person who has been given responsibility and who helps others because he or she cares about them, helps others from one’s own resources.” Now that is a profile of Phoebe of the church of Cenchrea. We’ll talk about this matter of helping others, caring about others and seeing for them what needs to be done, and helping them out of your own resources. We’ll talk about that the next time that we get together.
Dear Father today, make us helpers, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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