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Motto Text PM 2005 Administering God's grace

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! Faithfully administering God’s grace

 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:10, 11

 

Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!

                                                                                        The Message

10 ἓκαστος καθὼς ἔλαβεν χάρισμα εἰς ἑαυτοὺς αὐτὸ διακονου̂ντες ὡς καλοὶ οἰκονόμοι ποικίλης χάριτος θεου̂,

If you were here last Sunday evening you will know that we are like folks still surrounded by a great mound of unopened presents!

John – who knew Jesus personally, just like the writer of this our second motto text – reminded us:

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.       JOHN 1 v 16

 

Through the coming of Christ we are the recipients of ONE BLESSING AFTER ANOTHER.

What shall we do with all these wonderful things?

And again this morning – we reminded you of the wonder of Christ who is ABLE TO HELP, ABLE TO DEAL GENTLY and ABLE TO SAVE COMPLETELY

One blessing after another – surely we are expected to DO SOMETHING WITH ALL THIS WONDERFUL GRACE?

And of course the answer is YES!   Share it!

And so – as I bow out as your moderator I commend to you all in particular this view of the CHURCH IN ACTION as presented by Peter

 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.     ….    so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

I want you to think about it in the following way:

À                The gifts                                                                  WHAT

À                The grace                                                                 HOW

À                The glory                                                                 WHY

But before I settle in to my exposition I want to point out a number of ways in which this little passage is suited to our fellowship here at Bristol Road.

We have been looking for a pastor for a long time now – and the task continues. We have considered many of the gifts that we expect a pastor to have – but what we really need to know about are the gifts already distributed within the fellowship.

We have been concerned recently with Elders and Deacons – and there is something of the distinction of office here in this little passage too – for Peter distinguishes between the SPEAKING and SERVING gifts of the church.    Notice how his words about sharing actually begin in verse 8

8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

I do not think you can call love a gift – but hospitality is certainly one of the SERVING gifts. Keep that in mind as we look at our motto text.

I also want you to notice the full extent of the READING – I chose to read on into Chapter 5 – because that passage has a lot to say to Elders (as well as pastors)  and I want them to study the passage carefully!

So, let’s look at what Peter says here about SHARING THE GIFTS and the MULTICOLOURED GRACE of God – for that is what it means – it is a rich tapestry of different colours – different gifts – whether they be speaking or serving gifts.

1.  The gifts – what they are

9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides,

Both Paul and Peter have a lot to say about the GIFTS given to the Church.  Sometimes we get a bit sensitive about that – because we think that we are on dangerous ground – and that it is the CHARISMATIC GIFTS that are being mentioned.

Well, so they are, but there are other gifts as well.

If in the great scheme of Christmas presents you had been left out – whether by design or choice – or accident – you would be very much aware of it.

In the great scheme of things the Holy Spirit gives to each believer AS HE WILLS,

and in the light of what Jesus said about talents and pounds and digging holes in the ground – we should all be very careful that we KNOW WHAT GIFT WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN.

I remember as a child being made to make a list every Christmas Day – so that I would remember WHO gave WHAT.   This was so that I would be able to say or write a suitable Thank You!   As time passed I developed other strategies. This applied  particularly in the classroom when – on other occasions – I was given gifts by the children in my class and they didn’t all write their name on the object – but on the packaging that came with it. Oh it was so easy to forget!

I challenge you to examine the list of your own spiritual life.  What gifts has God given to you which He expects you to use for Him?   How many holes are there in your life and mine – where gifts and talents have been buried that should be “invested” in the service of the King?

Notice that Peter tells us:

Given to all

Different gifts

Of which examples are provided

10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Each one should use whatever gift he has received

There is no suggestion of being left out – is there?

Notice the stresses:

EACH ONE

WHATEVER GIFT he has received

We notice that Peter describes a range of gifts – although his list is nothing like as comprehensive as those elsewhere in Paul;

À    Hospitality

À    Speaking

À    Serving             -  the word is the verb from which we get Deacon!

The one thing that is clearly missing here is INACTIVITY!

2.  The grace in it’s various forms

faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

The phrase Peter uses to describe the grace of God is interesting - 

ἓκαστος καθὼς ἔλαβεν χάρισμα εἰς ἑαυτοὺς αὐτὸ διακονου̂ντες ὡς καλοὶ οἰκονόμοι ποικίλης χάριτος θεου̂,

multicoloured grace    “in its various forms”  “manifold” 

What the Message renders as “God’s bright presence”

God’s gifts are MANY and VARIOUS – it is not in His nature to be uniform. Consider the wonderful variety of His creation – and you will begin to understand what manifold grace is!

Secondly notice that what Peter is stressing is FAITHFUL STEWARDSHIP OF THAT GRACE

faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

Our trouble seems to be that we have a very limited view of that diversity of grace.

We are accustomed to our own particular range of hues and textures – when God offers us the rich diversity of His person.

It is required of us that we take in it’s breadth – and are found FAITHFUL

Then you will also see that Peter tells us that THE EXERCISE OF THE GIFT MUST MATCH THE POWER IN WHICH IT WAS GIVEN:

11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides,

If a speaking – or perhaps we would say, MINISTRY GIFT – then it must have all the AUTHORITY OF GOD THE GIVER

As one speaking the very words of God…

 

That is a very solemn and demanding requirement.

If serving – whatever it be IN THE STRENGTH GOD PROVIDES

 

 

If ever there were a description of what the believer’s duty in respect of his work for the Master it was this:

FAITHFUL

SPEAKING THE VERY WORDS OF GOD

SERVING IN THE VERY STRENGTH OF GOD

There is nothing here – absolutely nothing at all about believers without gifts, or believers without a duty to use those gifts, or about gifts only given to a select few.

I do not believe that God respects gender in this matter – nor status, nor education, nor cultural advantage – ONLY FAITHFULNESS OF STEWARDSHIP and the recognition of the rich diversity of God’s grace and the POWER and AUTHORITY of the gifted community.

How stands the fellowship here against that standard?

How stands your life and mine?

Given the total ability of Christ to help, to deal kindly and to save completely – how can we deny that we have a part to play – and a gift to share for the benefit of all?

Against the background of the awful events which have dominated our news and our thoughts this past week[1] these thoughts might at first seem to be almost irrelevant. But our responsibility as those who share in the manifold grace of God extends to such things as praying for and helping by donation and anything practical we can do to alleviate this awful catastrophe.   Our responsibility extends to the giving of a cup of water in His name.  And if the circumstances of our world provoke a response in us of giving and sharing – then how much more should the grace of God working within us as individuals and as a fellowship provoke us?

3.  The glory – a reason for everything we do

10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. --- so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

This is the purpose of all that we do as a fellowship.   It embraces every conceivable aspect of our work in this place, for each other, and for the wider world, including our immediate neighbours – the GLORY OF GOD

As servants of the Lord we often get things out of perspective.  We see what we are doing as something that brings us satisfaction, or even, from time to time, praise and recognition.  By such means the purpose of God is subverted in us – and we find that what we do in the church is for US – for ME.   When that happens – and believe me it happens very subtly and most perniciously – we are motivated by self and not Him.

How often we have faced problems in the Christian family because some have felt better equipped to serve in a particular way – or better able to make the important decisions – or better placed to do the work of God than others.

If it happened amongst the close disciples of Jesus you may be sure it happens amongst us still.  

We may not strive for prominence and general recognition – instead we may express it as being undervalued by others, by finding it harder to accept the gifting of others.

We may find it in the clashes of authority over decisions that must be taken.

We are offended too easily – too easily made to conclude that we will not offer ourselves any more to do a particular work in the church – not for the right reasons, which may be health or changing circumstances – but for our own reasons.

This is not the spirit with which the believing community shares its gifts and so becomes a shared stewardship of the diverse grace of God – it is a small mindedness, a “me in my small corner” or an attitude.

Peter is telling us : the Holy Spirit is pleading with us have ONE CLEAR OBJECTIVE to GLORIFY GOD.

If what you are doing has any other reason at all – however noble or self giving – it is NOT FAITHFULLY ADMINISTERING GOD’S GRACE.

So – my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as I lay down the little mantle of moderator I appeal to you:

1.                Make sure you know what God has given you to use for Him

2.                Make sure it is for the service of OTHERS

3.                Make sure that you are FAITHFUL

4.                Make sure that it PRAISES GOD and BRINGS GLORY TO HIM

He is able to transform us in ways we cannot imagine yet.

Measure it         BY WHAT YOU HAVE FROM HIM

                        BY HOW IT SERVES THE FELLOWSHIP

                        BY HOW FAITHFUL YOU ARE NOT HOW SUCCESSFUL

                        BY THE AMOUNT OF PRAISE IT BRINGS TO JESUS.

DO NOT             ignore it

                        Bury it – or exercise it for any other purpose.


----

[1] The tsunami in the Indian Ocean

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