Gifted: Wisdom

Gifted - Wisdom Slide 1  We begin a news series of talks today – entitled ‘Gifted’.   What comes to mind when you hear that you have been ‘gifted’ something?  You may think of a present you were given or about something you are naturally good at which others are not. As we will see, God does give gifts to his people – but what are they like? Slide 2  What has God gifted to you? In this series we will look more closely at some of gifts that God gives to his people by the power of his Spirit. These gifts are


Author: Alan Smith Date: Sunday, June 7, 2015 Campus:

Gifted - Wisdom

Slide 1 

We begin a news series of talks today – entitled ‘Gifted’. 

What comes to mind when you hear that you have been ‘gifted’ something? 

You may think of a present you were given or about something you are naturally good at which others are not.

As we will see, God does give gifts to his people – but what are they like?

Slide 2 

What has God gifted to you?

In this series we will look more closely at some of gifts that God gives to his people by the power of his Spirit. These gifts are startling, even strange and it may not be obvious why God would want us to have them.

The passage in the Bible we will be studying over the coming weeks is in Paul’s first letter to the early Christian church which was in the Greek city of Corinth; 1 Corinthians, and Chapter 12.

We will focus in on verses 8 to 10 but let’s read from verse 1 so we see it in context:

Slide 3 

1 Cor 12

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Slide 4 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

 

The very next chapter of Paul’s letter is the famous one about love – often read at weddings. But the love that Paul wrote about is not the love in a marriage but the love that should underpin our use of all God’s gifts. 

If God gives good gifts for us to use to help others then we must use them in love, not for selfish or vengeful purposes.

Slide 5

We believe and the Bible explains that God is made up of three distinct persons – God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Spirit (or ‘Holy Spirit’). They are quite a team! God speaks, Jesus acts to carry out the Father’s wishes and the Spirit provides the power for things to happen in line with what God wants. When Jesus came to Earth he was sent by Father God – not just to be a good example to us (although he was) but to once and for all deal with the problem that we are far from God in thoughts and actions because of sin. We do wrong both to God and to others. We naturally prefer to behave as if God does not exist and we want to please ourselves more than anything else. As a consequence of doing wrong we may feel guilt but we cannot make things good again or remove our guilt. We see but rarely completely understand situations and we often act selfishly instead of lovingly. 

We are stuck far from God in our condition of ‘sin’ and we can never do enough to be reconciled to God by our own efforts. 

But because of Jesus we can be reconciled to God!

We can become God’s people and we can receive God’s power from the Holy Spirit which can transform us. How do we become God’s children? By Faith. Not by learning the Bible – although we can learn a lot from reading it. Not by copying others who have been Christians longer than us – although we can learn a lot from them. Faith means accepting that Jesus sacrifice of his life was enough to give you complete forgiveness and freedom for all the wrong you have ever done. 

Jesus took your punishment and you were given his righteousness. 

By faith if you accept that Jesus died for you, then you are saved. God sees you as perfect - you are forgiven. You are a child of God and you have the presence of God’s Spirit with you. You don’t have to work at being perfect in God’s eyes!!

Isn’t it amazing to think that the same power which was at work in Jesus when he was here on Earth can also be at work in us? It is the same Spirit of God. If you listen to what the Spirit is saying and live obediently to God then you will have the mind of Christ – the mind of Jesus himself. (1 Cor 2:16) 

Consequently, Jesus promised that we would do greater things on the earth than even he did!!

Slide 6 

John 14:12-14

12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

You may become aware of the Spirit before you understand who he is or he may come much later in life. Some people experience the Spirit powerfully at the time they turn to God and accept Jesus as Lord of their life. Some experience him when they are baptised in water showing they have become Christians. Some are still waiting to experience him in power. 

I grew up in a traditional church where I learnt a lot but the Holy Spirit was not mentioned as working in power today – so I thought the gifts of the Spirit were things that were around in the early church to start it off. I turned to God and accepted Jesus into my life when I was 18 and I was baptised in a pool of water in that church. Later when I went to college I met people who did have some of the gifts of the Spirit (the ones we just read about) and I thought they were crazy - so I didn’t want those gifts. I got married, had two children and got so busy with my job and church life I never really thought about the Spirit. I prayed a bit but I behaved as if I was in charge and needed to run my life the best way I could. I wasn’t aware of God’s presence and I was doing things in my strength instead of in God’s strength by the Spirit. In my late 30’s I ran out of will power and became tired and resentful about many things. My behaviour became very selfish and I started a relationship with another woman while I was married - my marriage ended in divorce and the other relationship ended too. I was empty, lost and completely broken. I cried more than at any time I can recall in my life. But God didn’t send disaster to serve me right for my actions. No! God sent mercy and gave me second chance and I found myself living near the Vineyard Church. I came in and experienced not just Jesus but also the Spirit who is the power of God working in us. If you feel you have turned to God but that life is still too difficult it is the Spirit who can help you know the truth and to become what God intended you to be. We so need the Spirit of God with us!

Paul writes to the Corinthians that the Spirit of God is a person - the power of God and he is ready to give ‘gifts’ or abilities to help you operate better as a Christian and empower you to reach out to people who have not yet turned to God.

If you have been coming to this church a while or have been to other churches where the Spirit is accepted as being alive and at work today then you may recognise some of the things Paul is describing – and we will cover some of these in the ‘Gifted’ series:

Slide 7

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

Notice these abilities are all from the same Spirit

The same Spirit distributes them to people. 

In the times when this letter was written many different gods were worshipped. The people may have misunderstood that when they saw people healing or speaking in other languages (tongues) or they had supernatural knowledge that perhaps different gods were at work. Paul confirms they are different gifts from the same Spirit of the one true God. 

Also these abilities are gifts; they are not learnt, they are not rewards for being a 5-star Christian - they are more like a spiritual toolkit to increase the spiritual effectiveness of the church. And like any toolkit we take to do a practical job, some of those tools will be useful on some occasions to carry out certain tasks but rarely will they all be used at once! I know a little bit about practical jobs and the number of tools a man can hoard in his shed in case they are useful is quite amazing! 

The choice of which tool to use is ours but the effectiveness of the tool is down to our experience and understanding of what it can do and when we should employ it. Most tools can be used to hit a nail into a wall but experience has shown that a hammer is the best one to use. But even the humble hammer when used with a lack of experience can result in a flattened thumb placed too close to the nail!

Do you wish you had more of God’s presence and power in your life? Then just ask him and believe he has given them to you!

It is interesting to see that the first gift Paul lists is wisdom – which is the one we will now focus on.

We might think it is more important to be filled with supernatural power so we can run around like Marvel heroes, healing here, healing there, performing miracles to astound those who do not yet believe… but no, perhaps what we need most of all is wisdom.

Slide 8

What is this wisdom from the Spirit? Is it the same as worldly wisdom?

That fountain of information (but not wisdom!), Wikipedia says

Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight… 

it is a habit or disposition to perform the action with the highest degree of adequacy under any given circumstance… 

it often requires control of one's emotional reactions so that reason prevails to determine one's action.”

So wisdom is really hard to describe and yet most of us know it when we see it.

It’s about taking everything into account in a given situation and deciding the best possible course of action, without allowing emotions to sway you – a course of action which others when considering later what you have done would say you did a wise thing.

This is secular wisdom – and one ingredient to it is experience which is often attributed in part to growing older (and wiser!). As you get older you will meet more situations that you have met before or remember what others did before you so that may help to make you wiser. 

However not all old people are wise and not all wise people are old.

But what kind of ‘message of wisdom’ is God’s Spirit able to convey to those who are listening for it?

In order to do spiritually wise things we need to take everything into account, not just the physical things we can see and hear and measure. We need to understand the spiritual truth behind physical situations in order to act wisely

Slide 9 

In fact we need to know what God knows. 

We need to see things as God sees them. 

We need to make the plans that God has in mind, rather than our own plans which we want God to bless. 

The book of Proverbs contains sayings attributed to King Solomon the son of King David of Israel – who was the wisest man who ever lived because he asked God for wisdom rather than wealth so God rewarded him with both in unimaginable abundance!

In Proverbs chapters 1 to 3 there is a story written as if wisdom was a person saving people from being foolish with their lives. Wisdom from God will guide your path, will keep you from being tempted into doing wrong and will bring health and abundance into your life. We need God’s wisdom because our own is easily abandoned so that we do things what we know we should not.

Who is this wisdom from God? Jesus is the wisdom of God personified!

Paul says earlier in chapter 1 of the same letter to the Corinthian church:

Slide 10 

30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Jesus reveals the truth of how God now sees us when we are ‘in Jesus’ – not guilty, defiled and lost but righteous, holy and redeemed. If we turn to him we are in Christ and we are rescued and treated by God as if we were Jesus himself!

Slide 11 

Why should we ask for wisdom from God? 

If wisdom from God underpins our decision making and planning then the outcome will be the best possible one physically and spiritually.

If we follow earthly wisdom then success may still result in earthly terms – in the things we can see and measure – e.g. quantity, quality, popularity, profit – but the outcome cannot be the best possible

People look at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. 

With God’s wisdom then the unseen things will also experience the best possible outcome. By relying on our own wisdom then we simply miss out the most important area – the heart, the underlying truth, and the deep things that need dealing with too.

Jesus is our Wisdom from God. If we ask for wisdom then we also learn more about the character of God – asking to see things from someone else’s perspective teaches us about that person too – and the same is true of God. 

Learn to see things as God sees them and you will also know God better!

Wisdom from God is a gift which is often overlooked because miracles are more exciting and speaking in a strange language may attract more attention. But when we are faced with difficult situations it is Wisdom from God which can show us which spiritual gifts it would be best to use. By choosing the right gift or tool and using it wisely we can achieve the best possible outcome.

Slide 12 

Let us be still and ask the Spirit of God to reveal to us wisdom from God.

To see things as they are, to understand the deep truths from God.

If you have never come to God before but you have heard his wisdom telling you to draw near now then come. Someone will pray for you to receive Jesus who is wisdom from God.

If you have already turned to God and accepted Jesus as your saviour but you feel distant from God or you lack wisdom about your life – then come. 

We will pray for you to receive wisdom. 

For any who do not want to draw attention to themselves then speak to someone you trust who is a Christian and have them pray for you. 

For all who pray – ask for wisdom from God for yourselves and those you pray for.

Questions 

When faced with difficult situations in life what’s the first prayer you say or the first thing you do?

Wisdom is mentioned as the first gift of the Spirit in 1 Cor 12:8-11- how significant is that – and what part has wisdom played in your Christian life so far?

Read 1 Cor 1: 18-31 – what does it reveal about Jesus and the wisdom of God – and what encouragement do you draw from this? 

What difference would God’s wisdom make to the way you deal with difficult situations in life - and why? 

Links

The Spirit of God is a Spirit of Wisdom:

http://www.breakthrough4life.org/index.php/preach-the-word/ptw-list/472-wisdom

Jesus grew physically and in wisdom:

http://www.rbap.net/jesus-grew-in-wisdom-and-kept-increasing-in-wisdom/

Use of the Spiritual Gifts must be driven by love because God is love and acts in love toward us – and we love God because he first loved us.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/articles/daily-reflection/how-does-love-lead-spiritual-gifts

Wisdom will inform our faith – to call things that do not exist (yet) as though they did!

http://www.victorychurch.nu/articles/calling_those_things_that_do_not_exist_as_though_they_did

Worship

God I look to You, I won't be over-whelmed, 

Give me vision to see things like You do

God I look to You, You're where my help comes from

Give me wisdom; You know just what to do.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR5IoWH9OiI