There are many different ways to measure success in the religious realm. Some will look at the building, and all of the extras it has. Others will remark about the large crowds, the full pews. Another way to measure the success of a church is by its reputation or influence (Windsor Hills). Then we have those ministries that are on the cutting edge and they are known for introducing new styles of worship, different ways to present a message, etc. But listen to me this morning, the real measure of success for a church, ministry, or even down to the individual Christian is this: Does it have the power of God resting upon it? And is that power exercised? Before I go any further this morning, let me assure you that I do not recommend that a person get involved with evil powers, satanic influence or demon possession. I believe that we have become partially desensitized to the wicked influences of our day, and do not readily recognize the work of the Devil.
Remember last week that we spoke of Jesus on the mount of transfiguration, the glory the three disciples saw, the visit of Moses and Elijah, and I called the message the view form the mountaintop. This next account follows in line with last week’s lesson, and I could have easily called this one, “Life in the Valley, or Back to reality.” Some of the disciples are called upon to help a father who has a son that is possessed with a demon. He is known for taking, tearing, foaming, gnashing, jumping into fire and water, wallowing on the ground and pining. We could say that he is absolutely miserable condition. The disciples gave it a shot and did not succeed, the scribes took this opportunity to question the disciples about their failures, so the father asks Jesus to intervene. Verses 23 and 24 are a contemporary commentary on the state of Christianity, but that is a sermon for a different day. But I really want to focus in on two phrases of our text, and they are found in verses 18 and 28. Here is my question for us this morning: Could We? Are we known for being a place of spiritual power or are we just another place that sits on Williamson Valley Road? When people drive by our property daily, they should see three words—Liberty
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Baptist—We are committed to teaching and preaching the Word of God to help people get close to Jesus.
Church—A called out assembly.
I hope that some see this message as they drive by daily—We want to introduce you to God, we would like to help the hurting, restore your family, and show you the best way we know how the love of Jesus Christ.
I want to talk to you for a few minutes about what every church needs. Some say buildings, money, eloquent speakers. Those things are not necessary to witness the power of God, as a matter of fact I think they sometimes hinder the opportunities. What every church needs is believers getting plugged in and exercising their God given spiritual gifts. We find lists of spiritual gifts mainly in Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians 12. You will hear and read different names for the gifts, but let me just list and explain a few.
· Leadership—Leadership aids the body by leading and directing members to accomplish the goals and purposes of the church. Leadership motivates people to work together in unity
toward common goals (Rom. 12:8).
· Administration—Persons with the gift of administration lead the body by steering others to remain on task. Administration enables the body to organize according to God-given purposes
and long-term goals (1 Cor. 12:28).
· Teaching—Teaching is instructing members in the truths and doctrines of God’s Word for the purposes of building up, unifying, and maturing the body (1 Cor. 12:28; Rom. 12:7; Eph. 4:11).
· Knowledge—The gift of knowledge manifests itself in teaching and training in discipleship. It is the God-given ability to learn, know, and explain the precious truths of God’s Word. A word of
knowledge is a Spirit-revealed truth (1 Cor. 12:28).
· Wisdom—Wisdom is the gift that discerns the work of the Holy Spirit in the body and applies His teachings and actions to the needs of the body (1 Cor. 12:28).
· Prophecy—The gift of prophecy is proclaiming the Word of God boldly. This builds up the body and leads to conviction of sin. Prophecy manifests itself in preaching and teaching (1
Cor. 12:10; Rom. 12:6).
· Discernment—Discernment aids the body by recognizing the true intentions of those within or related to the body. Discernment tests the message and actions of others for the protection
and well-being of the body (1 Cor. 12:10).
· Exhortation—Possessors of this gift encourage members to be involved in and enthusiastic about the work of the Lord. Members with this gift are good counselors and motivate others to
service. Exhortation exhibits itself in preaching, teaching, and ministry (Rom. 12:8).
· Pastoring—The gift of shepherding is manifested in persons who look out for the spiritual welfare of others. Although pastors, like shepherds, do care for members of the church, this
gift is not limited to a pastor or staff member (Eph. 4:11).
· Faith—Faith trusts God to work beyond the human capabilities of the people. Believers with this gift encourage others to trust in God in the face of apparently insurmountable odds (1 Cor.12:9).
· Evangelism—God gifts his church with evangelists to lead others to Christ effectively and enthusiastically. This gift builds up the body by adding new members to its fellowship (Eph.
· Service/Helps—Those with the gift of service/helps recognize practical needs in the body and joyfully give assistance to meeting those needs. Christians with this gift do not mind working
behind the scenes (1 Cor. 12:28; Rom. 12:7).
· Mercy—Cheerful acts of compassion characterize those with the gift of mercy. Persons with this gift aid the body by empathizing with hurting members. They keep the body healthy and
unified by keeping others aware of the needs within the church (Rom. 12:8).
· Giving—Members with the gift of giving give freely and joyfully to the work and mission of the body. Cheerfulness and liberality are characteristics of individuals with this gift (Rom. 12:8).
· Hospitality—Those with this gift have the ability to make visitors, guests, and strangers feel at ease. They often use their home to entertain guests. Persons with this gift integrate new members into the body (1 Pet. 4:9).
People always say that they do not know what their gift is, and then ask for some sort of test to discover it. I do not think it is a great mystery. What did God give you at salvation that you didn’t have before? Then it is your responsibility to plug into the right outlet and ask God to use you.
Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
It is not as easy as just saying I want to be filled, did you see what Jesus told His followers? Prayer and fasting. Prayer is communication and fasting is a picture of surrender. I believe that we get the individual believer on the same page, then we are ready for what is promised in
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Where are you in prayer life this morning? Do you ever give yourself in complete surrender and fast for a time? Are you exercising your spiritual gifts in a local church?
When it comes to seeing your lost loved ones saved—could you?
This church exists to see the city changed with the gospel of Jesus Christ—Are we?
Maybe you have never been saved—today would be a great day to trust the Lord with your soul.