Of Presents and Gifts and More!

As we celebrate Christmas this year I want to Thank God for His most perfect Gift to us. Our Lord Jesus Christ!

Ephesians 4:7-11 “7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”

Luke 2:1-18

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

For those of us Born again Christians, Christ who is our savior will be in our future life in Heaven in a really powerful way. The gift God gave all of us on earth is a gift that just keeps on giving. One day we will lay at the feet of our Lord as He sits on the Judgment seat of Christ, and we will face judgment, yes judgment. 2 Corinthians 5:10 10. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Because of the blood of Christ our sins are not going to be what Jesus will talk to us about. No, this judgement isn’t about am I going to Heaven, because you are already there!

What, might you ask ,will He talk to us about, well that’s where things will get interesting for all of us.

Jesus preached about this very thing while He was here on earth.

He told the people in a parable, the parable of the gold coins. Luke 19:11-27 11. “And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.

13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.

17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.

19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.

20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:

21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.

22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:

23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?

24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.

25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)

26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.

27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”

What might this parable have to do with the judgment seat of Christ, and some of the things He will be judging us on?

The answer is gifts! What gifts and where did they come from, and what God wants us to do with them here on earth, and what danger is there in having these gifts, this is what I’m going to write about.

Each of God’s children receive a gift from God. He wants us to be good stewards of this gift and use it to serve God by serving one another. Romans 12:4-8 “4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:

5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

And Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12: 1-11 “1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”

Jame told us in the book of James these things about gifts.

James 1:17 “17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

God gives us all a gift and wants us to use these gifts, but He knows the danger and the blessing we His children get from His gifts. The danger is that we all still have sin nature in us from Adam and this makes us weak towards pride and arrogance. We are always in a battle with these two enemies. Using our God given gifts might lead us towards thinking more highly of ourselves then we ought to think. Or others may think more highly of us then they ought to think. Yes, our own sin nature and Satan is always attacking us. We should think of these beautiful gifts from God with humility, as we don’t really deserve them any way. Let me give you an example. We might think our gift from God makes us special or better then others, or others have a better gift then you do. We might feel that we are not as gifted as we would like to be, or maybe we don’t feel we received enough recognition. We might want another gift then what the Lord gave you.

Here’s how the gifts God gave us bless others and sanctify us if we use them. God uses our sin nature and the work of Satan as part of God’s design in the distribution of His gifts to us, His children. It works like this: as God gives out His unearned gifts among us unequally, it has the gracious effect of drawing pride and arrogance out of the shadows and into the light. Every time we fall prey to one of these sins God is inviting us to glorify Him by repenting of our pride and arrogance and humbling ourselves to God. God sent these gifts to us so we can receive another gift. If we use God’s gift that He gave us, God channels blessings to others, and they in turn channel the blessing of humility to us by exposing our pride and arrogance and pushing us to receive God’s grace by pleasing Him.

God’s gift to us is to benefit others which in turn pleases God. Let’s look at what Peter had to say about gifts from God. 1 Peter 4:10-11 “10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

These words are important and you should take them to heart. God wants us to know that the gifts God gave us are not an accident, God knew what He was doing when He made each of us and intentionally gave us the gift He wanted us to have in the measure we have them. Therefore we are stewards of these gifts God entrusted to us. And He has entrusted them to us primarily for the benefit of others.

A warning, our gifts are not intended to be used to gain our sense of significance from other people we think are important. No, our real significance in life comes from God choosing us in Christ, gifting us, and then deploying us into His kingdom here and in Heaven for His purposes. There is more significance there than we can fully comprehend and appreciate. The praise from man is meaningless.

Doing the work of God is what we are suppose to be doing. God gave you and I an assignment to do, your work may differ from mine but it’s all the work of the Lord as He wants it done. Paul said it this way in 1 Corinthians 7:17

But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.” God is our master, our Lord, why, if for no other reason then He made us all and everything we have, eat, wear, breathe and walk on should be a good enough reason. Not to mention He is God. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:19 “ 19 What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

1 Corinthians 7:22 “ For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.”

In case you have been wondering, what are these spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit? And what does the ability enable someone to do?

The Gift of Administration – 1 Corinthians 12:28

With this gift the Holy Spirit enables certain Born again Christians to organize, direct, and implement plans to lead others in the various ministries of the Church. This gift is closely related to the gift of leadership, but is more goal or task oriented and is also more concerned with details and organization.

The Gift of Apostleship – Ephesians 4:11

The Apostles were given authority by Jesus Christ to do many different things to establish the church, including writing Scripture and performing miracles.

There are no more that hold the office of Apostle today, but the gift of apostleship continues in a different sense. Jesus gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers at His ascension (Ephesians 4:7-12), and these represent a distinct category of apostles. They do not have the authority to write Scripture as the original Apostles did. They also have a different purpose in the sense of establishing the church – the foundation has already been set.

The mission for those with the gift of apostleship today is to plant new ministries and churches, go into places where the Gospel is not preached, reach across cultures to establish churches in challenging environments, raise up and develop leaders, call out and lead pastors and shepherds, and much more. They often have many different gifts that allow them to fulfill their ministry.

The Gift of Discernment -1 Corinthians 12:10

The Holy Spirit gives the gift of discernment to enable certain Born again Christians to clearly recognize and distinguish between the influence of God, Satan, the world, and the flesh in a given situation. The church needs those with this gift to warn believers in times of danger or keep them from being led astray by false teaching.

The Gift of Evangelism – Ephesians 4:11-12

Evangelists are given the unique ability by the Holy Spirit to clearly and effectively communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others. They are burdened in their hearts for the loss of a soul and will go out of their way to share the truth with them. Evangelists are able to overcome the normal fear of rejection and engage non-believers in meaningful conversations about Jesus. Their gift allows them to communicate with all types of people and therefore they receive a greater response to the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. They continually seek out relationships with those who don’t know Jesus and are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit to approach different people.

The Gift of Exhortation – Romans 12:8

The Holy Spirit gives this gift to people in the church to strengthen and encourage those who are wavering in their faith. Those with the gift of exhortation can uplift and motivate others as well as challenge and rebuke them in order to foster spiritual growth and action. The goal of the encourager is to see everyone in the church continually building up the body of Christ and glorifying God.

The Gift of Faith – Ephesian 2:9

The gift of faith is rooted in one’s saving faith in Christ and the trust that comes through a close relationship with Jesus Christ. Those with this gift have a trust and confidence in God that allows them to live boldly for Him and manifest that faith in mighty ways.

In the Bible the gift of faith is often accompanied by great works of faith.

The Gift of Giving – Romans 12:8

The Holy Spirit imparts this gift to some in the church to meet the various needs of the church and its ministries, missionaries, or of people who do not have the means to provide fully for themselves. The goal is to encourage and provide, giving all credit to God’s love and provision. Those with this gift love to share with others the overflow of blessings God has given them. They are typically very hospitable and will seek out ways and opportunities to help others. They are also excellent stewards and will often adjust their lifestyles in order to give more to the spread of the Gospel and the care of the needy. They are grateful when someone shares a need with them, and are always joyful when they can meet that need.

The Gift of Healing – 1 Corinthians 12:9

Those who have this gift are compassionate toward the sick and pray over them regularly. They have great faith and trust that God can and will heal those He wants healed and are not deterred when God chooses not to. They are motivated knowing that God’s revealed power will draw people to faith in Jesus Christ. Their ultimate concern is the spiritual well-being of those being healed and their relationship with Jesus Christ. They yearn for the day that there will be no more pain and suffering, and sin will no longer wreak havoc on the people of God.

The Gift of Interpretation -1 Corinthians 12:10

This is a revelatory gift, meaning that God “reveals” the meaning of the words or message being spoken and allows the interpreter to communicate its meaning to those who need to hear it. When this happens in the church two things happen: the church is edified and God is glorified.

The spiritual gift of interpretation is given by the Holy Spirit to certain individuals to reveal messages sometimes spoken in an unknown tongue to God for the building up of the church. Like the gift of prophecy, tongues that are interpreted have the effect of encouraging and blessing the church to love and serve God more deeply and effectively.

The Gift of Knowledge – 1 Corinthians 12:8

The Holy Spirit gives this spiritual gift to some believers to bring about understanding and to inform the church or individual believers. The person with this gift is usually well-versed in the Scriptures and often has much committed to memory. They can retain the truth and communicate it effectively at the appropriate times. The gift of knowledge allows a believer to relate the Scriptures, and particularly the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to all aspects of life in this world. They can see how it connects to every situation and circumstance and how the reality and truth of the Gospel is to inform every decision a Christian makes.

The Gift of Leadership or Rule – Romans 12:8

The Holy Spirit gives the spiritual gift of leadership to some in the church to care for God’s people and lead them into a deeper relationship with Christ and each other. They base their success on how well they help others succeed and grow in their spiritual walk with Jesus. They are able to accomplish many different tasks and objectives as they lead, but they will always lead relationally and with a deep concern for the well-being of others. They are “visionary” and less concerned with mundane details than those with the spiritual gift of administration. Many are entrepreneurial and willing to take risks to see the kingdom of God advanced through the church. They will go to great lengths to protect those under their care and are well-equipped to lead through crisis situations.

The Gift of Mercy or Giving – Romans 12:8

The Holy Spirit gives the spiritual gift of mercy to some in the church to love and assist those who are suffering, and walk with them until The Lord allows their burden to be lifted. The gift of mercy is founded in God’s mercy towards us as sinners and is consistently expressed with measurable compassion. Those with this gift are able to “weep with those who weep” and “bear one another’s burdens”. They are sensitive to the feelings and circumstances of others and can quickly discern when someone is not doing well. They are typically good listeners and feel the need to simply “be there” for others.

The Gift of Miracles – 1 Corinthians 12:10

Those with the spiritual gift of miracles often have a heightened sensitivity to the presence and power of God through His Holy Spirit. They have a special measure of faith and desire for God to reveal Himself and draw many to faith in His Son Jesus Christ. They take care not to draw attention to themselves or have a following of people, but are constantly pointing others to Jesus. Those with this gift understand that God is Sovereign and He can work when and how He desires, but they make sure they are available and listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. This gift is often accompanied by prayer and strong petition by these individuals for God to reveal His glory to people. They do not claim power themselves, but always give credit and glory to God for His mighty works. Often God will deliberately humble them to keep them relying on His grace and pointing to His Son, rather than the miracles.

The Gift of Pastor/Shepherd – Ephesians 4:11

The spiritual gift of pastor or pastor/shepherd is one that carries many different responsibilities. This gift is closely related to the spiritual gifts of leadership and teaching.

In the Biblical context, shepherds had several different responsibilities to their sheep and ultimately, to the owner of the sheep, in this case God. They kept a lookout for predators and protected the sheep from attackers. They cared for wounded and sick sheep, nursing them back to health. They rescued them if they became lost or trapped. They spent enormous amounts of time with them guiding them to the safe places of nourishment and rest. The result was a trust and relationship that kept the sheep following the shepherd. The sheep were attuned to the shepherd’s voice to the point that even if they were temporarily mixed with another herd, at the call of the shepherd they would separate and follow him.

Pastors are called shepherds because their calling and gifting are much like those who care for sheep. They are called and gifted to care for the spiritual well-being of a local body of God’s people. Pastors are first and foremost servants. They are servants of God and servants of His bride, the church. They are given a mixture of abilities by grace that allows them to serve the needs of an entire community.

The goal of the pastor is to reveal the glory of God in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to a people who need God’s grace for life. The primary way the pastor will do this is by teaching the Word of God to the church through the King James Bible. The gift of pastor is directly linked to the gift of teaching in Ephesians 4:11 and elsewhere. In fact, this gift could be called the gift of pastor-teacher. The ability to teach the Scriptures and in leadership is also one of the many requirements of being a Bishop (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9). By teaching the Scriptures to the church, the pastor feeds the “sheep” of God.

The Holy Spirit gives the spiritual gift of pastor to some in the church to humbly teach them, guide them, protect them, and to lead them in the mission that God has for His church, namely the Great Commission. The pastor loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ and puts it at the center of his life and ministry. Pastors do not seek fame or recognition for themselves, but they are placed in a position of authority by the Holy Spirit. The role of a pastor is one of humility and service as he is reminded daily of his overwhelming need of God’s grace for the task at hand.

The Gift of Prophecy – 1 Corinthians 12:10

The spiritual gift of prophecy is an extraordinary and unique gift. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:1 to “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.” This gift is a blessing to the church and should not be quenched or despised (1 Thessalonians 5:20).

The Greek word for the gift of prophecy is propheteia which is the ability to receive a divinely inspired message and deliver it to others in the church. These messages can take the form of exhortation, correction, disclosure of secret sins, prediction of future events, comfort, inspiration, or other revelations given to equip and edify the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:3-4, 24-25).

The Holy Spirit gives the gift of prophecy to some believers to make God’s heart known and to edify the church. This gift is for the benefit of both believers and is a sign that God is truly among His church (1 Corinthians 14:22-25). Those with this gift are sensitive to both the prompting from the God Head and the needs of the church body. They are humble, Loving, loyal and trustworthy to God and His people and continually study the Scriptures in order to know God and His word better. When they do speak words from God, they encourage and expect others to weigh what is said against the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit. Prophets spoken words that do not line up with Scripture prove them to be a false prophet and to be shunned by the church. Prophets usually have most of the gifts mentioned here because they often are called to do any role within the church as needed.

The Gift of Service or Ministry – Romans 12:7

Those with the gift of service are committed to the spread of the Gospel. They serve in ways that benefit others with different gifts and ministries that are more public. They have a heart devoted to Jesus and a desire to follow His command and example. Those with this gift do not seek recognition or a position in the “spotlight,” they just love to help out. They are content with serving in the background knowing that their contribution will bless the church, display the love of Christ to the world, and bring glory to God and saving lost souls.

The Gift of Teaching – 1 Corinthians 12:28

The Holy Spirit gives certain people the spiritual gift of teaching so that they would help the church fulfill her ministry as “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Without this gift, the church would quickly fall into error and sin. Teachers are there to make sure that doesn’t happen. They hate when Scripture is abused and used out of context or with ill intent. They love the truth and speak the truth in love. They will never hide or withhold it. On the contrary, they desire to follow in the footsteps of Jesus who taught in the synagogues and in the Temple as well as anywhere the people were gathered. They are called to demonstrate God’s love while revealing His truth to the world without fear. The effect of their ministry is the upholding of God’s Word and the growth and maturity of His Bride until the day of His return.

The Gift of Tongues – 1 Corinthians 12:10

There is so much to be said about the spiritual gift of tongues, I will summarize a few points here:

Not every Born again Christian receives this gift. The gift of tongues is not a requirement or a necessary sign of salvation.

Tongues can be human languages such as those heard in Acts 2:4but often may be languages no one understands. See 1 Corinthians 14:2.

No tongues should be spoken in the church gathering without interpretation. See 1 Corinthians 14:27-28.

Tongues should not be forbidden. See 1 Corinthians 14:39.

The Holy Spirit gives some believers the spiritual gift of tongues to glorify God and, with the help of an interpreter, to edify the church. This gift is dealt with extensively in the Scriptures and its use should not be discouraged. That said, it should be used properly with pure motives and intentions, of course in the power and prompting of the Holy Spirit.

It comes down to this, God gave each of us born again christians a gift and a job. Others need your gift. That’s why you have them. Our lives are not about pursuing our dreams, many of our dreams are prideful fantasies and usually selfish when you really look at them. God knows what’s best for us and what will make us really happy. God knows us because He created us and He knows what we are made to do for Him. If you follow Him by faith, let Him lead you through the Holy Spirit into what God ultimately planned for you. I hope you don’t have to explain why you didn’t use your gift at all as you lay there on the floor at the judgment seat of Christ on that day.

So live a faithful obedient life and work hard at the work God gave you, share your gifts with others and God will bless you and your work. May you all have a blessed Christmas and a safe and productive new year.

This is the message God wanted to share with us all as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our savior this Christmas.

All glory to God

His humble servant Lee M Buchanan