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Gifted: CDL 007

“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:17-20)

Do you look at license plates? I’ve always wanted a cool plate on my car. Not a “vanity” plate I had to pay extra for, just a cool set of the regular numbers and letters that stands out from the crowd a little. Maybe something that makes a cool acronym or ends in 007. It never works out that way.

dock_350God is not the Department of Motor Vehicles. When you go to the DMV to get plates for your car, an often bored looking lady behind the counter reaches for the closest stack and hands you whatever is on top of the pile. Your vehicular ID is assigned at random and without any thought about how it fits you or your world.

That’s fine for license plates, but people sometimes accuse God of working that way in our world. He doesn’t. If you read the middle of today’s passage, you’ll see that He hands out spiritual gifts by design to specific people in specific situations to meet specific needs. Or as Paul put it, He arranged the parts of the body of Christ according to His plan. There are no accidental feet or happenstance ears. Your part in the body is your part for a reason. For His reason.

Think: Are you convinced that God made you as you are — including your spiritual gifts — for a good reason? Why is it hard for us to believe that sometimes?

Pray: Thank God for arranging your part in the body of Christ just as He wanted you to be.

Do: Look for some cool license plates this week.

Gifted: I’m No Superman

“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.” (1 Corinthians 12:14-16)

Wait a minute! Didn’t Paul just write in the last verse that we are all one body? Baptized by one Spirit? All of us given that same one Spirit to drink? Isn’t being a Christian all about unity?

dock_350Well, kind of. But it’s not about being stamped out by a cookie cutter, one identical item after another. Christians get accused of wanting everyone to be that way sometimes, but that’s not God’s idea. We are unified by the same power source (the Holy Spirit), but we’re all given different powers.

Geeky metaphor alert: It’s kind of like Aquaman and the Flash — united by being superheroes, but with wildly different supernatural abilities. Aquaman will never run faster than Superman, and the Flash will always have to come up for air. Our spiritual gifts help to define our purpose in life. The Flash can’t stop being the fast guy just because he’s mad he can’t swim so good. We’ve got to get comfortable with the gifts God gives us.

Think: What are the most important parts of your body? What are the least important parts? Are you sure? Are there any parts you can live without?

Pray: Ask God to help you to come to a clear understanding of what your specific spiritual gift/gifts are — and what they are not. Then ask Him to help you to be fully satisfied to use your gifts to serve Him and others.

Do: If you’re a comic book fan, make a quick list of a few of the lesser superheroes. Think they’re ever resentful not to be Supes, Batman, or Spidey?

Gifted: One Spirit to Drink

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. ” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Slow yourself down for a minute to catch the impact of this short verse’s big ideas about the Holy Spirit.

dock_350Paul clearly states that every single believer is included in Christ’s body by the one and only Holy Spirit of God. Every believer. God throws out our human comparison measuring sticks (nationality, skin color, height, hair, money, popularity, smarts, smells, etc.). None of them count for or against you.

Without exception, every true believer in Jesus is filled up with the Holy Spirit at the moment we trust in Him to save us from our sin. What poetry! We drink the Spirit into us by our faith in Christ. This is the living water Jesus promised to the woman at the well, the kind that keeps us from ever feeling spiritually thirsty again.

And He brought us presents.

Think: How often do you consciously think about the fact that, as a Christian, God’s Spirit lives in you? When you do think about it, what difference does it make to you?

Pray: Thank God for giving you the one Spirit to drink, along with all of your Christian brothers and sisters around the world.

Do: Try to imagine following Jesus in this life without the power of God’s Spirit in you.

Gifted: Don’t Be Ignorant

“Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. . . . The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:1,12)

The Bible describes a weird and wonderful thing that happens to every single person who puts his or her trust in Jesus Christ for salvation from sin. And, honestly, way too many of us are ignorant about it. Paul called this thing “spiritual gifts.” It’s the idea that we’re each given the supernatural ability — through the power of God’s Holy Spirit with us — to do certain things unnaturally well for a specific purpose.

dock_350Three major passages describe some of these gifts. Some churches teach that all the gifts are still “active” today; others say some of the sign gifts were needed only while the church was being established. What we’re going to focus on this week is not the what or how of spiritual gifts, but the why. What’s the point of this crazy power God hands out to His people through His Spirit?

Paul’s metaphor: a human body. The church — all of us who say Jesus is Lord of all — is often called “Christ’s body” in the New Testament. Like a human body, Paul writes, we’ve got lots of parts. That is, we’re all parts of His body. In other words, I’m a toe; you’re an eyelash, etc.

See, I told you this was going to be a weird and wonderful idea.

Think: What are some ways in which the church operates like a body?

Pray: Ask God to help you get a better understanding for why he gave you a spiritual gift.

Do: Speed drill: List as many body parts as you can think of in 3 minutes. Go.

Take the Lead: Three Questions for Leaders

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Three big questions pop up for me from God’s instructions to Joshua about leadership:

boat_3501) Do I really believe I control my own emotions? God obviously cared a lot about Joshua’s state of mind, not just his actions. He commanded Joshua to be strong, to be courageous, and to reject fear and discouragement. We have the choice what to feel. God gives us the power to choose feelings that help us to do what He asks of us.

2) Do I really believe God is right? If so, I’ll do exactly what He says. When I disobey Him (or don’t take the time to know what He says), that’s evidence I’m not convinced He knows what he’s talking about.

3) Do I really believe God is with me — and for me? If so, I can do any impossible thing He asks. Paul put it this way: “If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . . in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:31, 37)

Think: Do you wrestle with the answers to any of these questions? Which answer do you need the most help to believe?

Pray: Ask God to help you believe Him more and more in each of these three areas, then thank Him for the ability to control your state of mind. Thank Him that He is always right. And thank Him that He is always with and for you.

Do: If you haven’t already, memorize Romans 8:38-39.

Take the Lead: Speak it. Think it. Do it.

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8)

This last week, we’ve listened closely to God’s instructions to a new leader about to set off on an impossible mission that can’t possibly fail — because it is God’s mission. Have you noticed what God did not say to Joshua? “Just be like Moses, and you’ll be fine.”

boat_350God didn’t call Joshua to follow a human pattern for leadership. He called him to follow His own voice. Specifically, He told Joshua to find success by installing the Law on the hard drive in his head. “Don’t be consumed with asking, ‘What would Moses do?’ Be consumed with My Law. Speak it. Think it. Do it.”

Today, we can follow that same pattern with all of God’s Word (not just the Law). We can make the Bible our default setting for words, thoughts, and actions. Talk about it with friends and family. Roll it around in your brain while staring at the ceiling at night or moving through your day. Know it well enough to obey God’s instructions in every critical moment.

What a rich life that would be.

Think: What percentage of your words in a given day are about God or His Word? What percentage of your thoughts? How do your choices reflect those percentages?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be passionate about His Word and to spend more time talking about it, thinking about it, and acting on it.

Do: Start by memorizing today’s verse (Joshua 1:8) and rolling it around in your head as you fall asleep tonight.

Take the Lead: Power. Guts. Obedience. Success.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7)

Again the command: Be strong. Be courageous. In yesterday’s verse, the source of that courage and strength came from God’s absolute promise: “You will accomplish this mission.”

boat_350Today’s verse: Same command, but a new source of confidence: “Obey my law completely, and you will be successful.” Obedience to God can bring strength, courage, confidence into our lives, because we’re on exactly the path He called us to follow. Disobedience — from all out rebellion to dabbling in sin — can sap our strength and kill our courage.

Why? We become divided. We want two opposite things — to accomplish God’s purpose for us and to indulge in the sin God has warned us away from — at the same time. On top of that, God has promised blessing to those who obey and discipline when His children wander off. Be convinced about Him; run toward the blessing.

Think: Have you found in your own life that obedience to God can bring more confidence, courage, and strength? Have you seen a choice to sin lead to less confidence in yourself and your mission in life?

Pray: Ask God to help you to have the strength and courage to obey Him this week.

Do: In a sentence or two, describe what you see as your God-given mission in life today.