Dear Church Family and Community,
The first sermon I ever preached was Christmas Sunday, in 1997. I was a high school sophomore, fourteen years old. I remember thinking that this was such a gift to me, because this was such an easy Sunday to preach. I was excited because I got a chance to just share about Jesus, God’s perfect gift to us. And I was humbled because my church, the one I grew up in, was willing to gift me this opportunity.
My message was simply, God gifted Jesus to us. We see this in Jesus’ coming as the holy child of Bethlehem. We see this in how Jesus lived and loved, to show us how to live and love to please God. We see this in Jesus dying at Calvary, for our sins. We see this in God raising Jesus from the dead. And we see this in God’s gift to us of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, the present indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us, and the hope of heaven.
To help flesh out this message, I asked a few people, to share with me some brief thoughts on gifts, and what was the best gift they ever received. Perhaps they saw me coming, or maybe the Holy Spirit was already ahead of me, but all their answers basically were Jesus. Now I wasn’t just asking this question in Sunday School, where the best answer is almost always “Jesus.” For example, one person I asked was a pastor, who was sitting near me, on a trolley ride in Southwest Philly.
The answer that was most surprising morphed into another sermon, and was given by that pastor on the trolley, Rev. Armon E. Lowery. He gifted me a lesson on spiritual gifts. He shared that God gifts us by divine providence to build faith, confidence, trust, and reverence to God. We all have spiritual gifts from God not for our own personal gain, but for growth and ultimately for God to be glorified.
Years later, I was reminded of this trolley car lesson, when Pastor Lynda offhandedly stated her belief that God gifts the church all that the church needs to do God’s work. By this she meant that within our churches, God blesses and nurtures gifts that help the local body do the work God’s calling them to do. God gifts the church, all the church needs, to do God’s work where the church is established. This teaching has morphed into a proverb for me.
This week we will continue our current sermon series, Called to Steward: Growing in Christlikeness, Caring, and Trust. We will do so by focusing on our call to steward our spiritual gifts. Now while there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, they are all distributed by the Holy Spirit. Each gift provides a different kind of grace, service, and work, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work for the kingdom and for common good.
This week, to help us in our call to steward our spiritual gifts, we will be focusing on Romans 12:3-8. For more context in preparing for this week’s service, it would be good to read and pray through all of Romans 12. As you read, I want you to reflect on the following questions:
How has God gifted you?
How are you presently using your gifts to serve God and others?
How can your spiritual gifts be used by God for our body here at HBIC?
How is God being glorified by the gifts you have been blessed with by divine providence?
Last Sunday, we were able to gather together to worship in person for the first time in months. It was a joy and a blessing to see and be with each other, and to praise God together. I am also grateful that we are committed to keep providing our online YouTube services as well. We are even working hard to provide a livestream of the outdoor services as well. If necessity is the mother of invention, I’m grateful to God our Father for blessing us with gifts to be able to offer all these ways to worship as a community and a family.
In whatever way you are able to join us in worship each Sunday, I am just overjoyed that you are with us. We are one body, with many members. We are one family, committed to doing life and ministry together. We are God’s people here, and called and gifted to do God’s work together, here and around our world.
May the Lord continue to shine light in and through you, and may we all learn and grow in loving God, and in loving one another.
God bless you all. And take care.
Love in Christ,
P: (717) 561-2170, ext. 104
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