Today we went to church twice. First, this morning we joined St. James Church in Kenilworth, Cape Town. Mervyn Eloff brought a great exposition of encouragement that was also pointed and practical. His teaching came from 1 Peter 1:6-9. I loved the way he focused on our present joy that is based upon our future joy (heaven). Check the service out here if you can. Then, this evening, we joined the morning service from Emmanuel Church Bellville, Cape Town. Louis Claassen gave a solid exposition on Hebrew 4v15 to 5v10. Check this service out here if you can. This was certainly food for the soul.
Many years ago when our children were young, Jenny went on a clergy wives’ conference. I needed to look after the children. There are many stories about this week! One was that I needed to cook … and every day for supper we had baked potatoes smothered in cheese. The children were pretty good. They never complained until years later, when Angela referred to the challenging meals when mom was away. Since then, maybe apart from putting potatoes in tin foil that Jenny put together on the braai, I never attempted potatoes again … until today.
The potatoes were medium in size. I peeled them, halved them, washed them and rolled them in a flower mixture. I saw my mother-in-law do this 50 odd years back and thought this would be a great idea with a subtle difference … I added braai spice to the flower. Another change from when I baked potatoes for the children five days in a row was that I also baked mealies and Pork Kassler Chops and added salads such as beetroot, tomato and cucumber. (I wonder what the children would say today about their dad’s cooking if they saw and ate this.)
Maybe you tried something years ago … perhaps you tried some practical thing at home, work or church and it did not turn out the way you wanted … or it failed or was not appreciated and you never did it again. That was my take on cooking … I ended my campaign because of failure. A friend of mine taught me a few ‘tricks’ when making breakfast for our men’s breakfast meeting, but apart from that I literally ran from the kitchen until last year. Slowly, slowly, I reentered the “kitchen” and, with Jen’s help this year, I have progressed a little to the point where I tried baked potatoes today. They tasted so good I’ll do it again.
What is my point today? It simply is that in the Kingdom there is much work to be done with very few of God’s people wanting to do “service and ministry”. Some have tried and failed because they had no help and no guidance and no encouragement. They never had an opportunity of being a Timothy to a Paul. However, the Bible is clear on service and ministry … in what some would call a controversial passage Paul writes to a delinquent church:
1Co 12:4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
The context would be good to read, because context is king. In that church, many people were refusing to do ministry according to their gifting. They wanted the spectacular gifts, the upfront ministries, the visible actions that would boost their image and “spirituality”. In our day. we have that too, but we also have people who have tried to do something in the church because they were forced or pressurized … and they failed and were embarrassed.
Look at the verses above again: There are … v4 different gifts given by the Holy Spirit; v5 different kinds of service (ministry) for Lord Jesus; v6 these different gifts work in different ways for different purposes with God the Father Himself powering them in His people; v7 the manifestation means knowing and grasping the gifting you have, which are for the common good–my gifts are not for me but for the Body of Christ. Just that we grasp gifting … every Christian has been giving a spiritual gifting that needs to be used together with their natural abilities and practical abilities for the glory of God.
1Co 12:11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
The Spirit determines which gifts we are to have … and each one in Christ has been given a gifting.
Don’t be like me and wait some 26 years before trying potatoes again! I could have tried again and made delicious baked potatoes years ago. Not doing so became a loss to the family! Find out your spiritual gifting. Learn all you can about your gifting. Talk to people using those gifts. Practice your gifts. Make mistakes. Learn and perfect what God has given to you because you have a role to play in the church. Now here’s the thing … because “normal” has changed to “new normal” and we don’t quite know what “new normal” will be, how can you use your Holy-Spirit-given gifting to benefit the Kingdom of God? This, I believe, will require much prayer and thought so that we do not waste what God has given. Remember, use it or lose it. It’s given for the Body, not you!
Dear God, thank you for giving me natural and practical abilities together with a spiritual gifting when you saved me. Help me to find ways to use them as we enter the “new normal”. I pray this in Jesus name … Amen.