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The Rector’s sermon for June 25, 2017   


                                                                                                                                          

A Preaching Series on

THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT



Week 5 of 16 – Teaching, Apostleship – including slides #23—29 



 

Genesis 21:8-21;Psalm 86:1-10; 16-17; Romans 6:1b-11; Matthew 10:24-39


 

(SLIDE #23)   Last week we heard the story—and laughed, I might add—that Sarah was going to have a child at the young age of 90 something!  Well, as we read the morning Sarah did have a child.  They named him Isaac.  The back story to this new family is that Abraham already had a son.  Since Sarah was barren, it would be shameful for Abraham to have no descendants.  So Sarah had given her servant Hagar to Abraham and their union produced Ishmael, and in true “soap-opera” fashion, the problems begin!  Two sons, two different mothers, but only one could be the true descendant.  Sarah tells Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away.  He does, but God does not abandon Ishmael and his mother, and we read this beautiful story of how God rescued them both in the end.  God remains connected to his children, no matter the circumstances of their conception, because there was a plan.  The traditional belief to this day is that Ishmael is the patriarch of the nation of Islam.  And even though Ishmael reappeared to help Isaac bury their father when Abraham died, to this day there still exists more than just tension between the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael.

 

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he continues to stress that even though we are sinners by nature, God does not abandon us.  He reminds us that our baptism covers over our sins, uniting us to the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Our propensity to sin doesn’t eliminate us as saved children of God.  The choice to accept that that promise is ours.

 

And in our Gospel we hear Jesus responding to comments from the Pharisees, that he could cast out demons by the power of Satan.  Jesus takes that accusation and teaches his apostles one of his most difficult lessons; yet, he concludes with a promise of hope.  He says in essence, How can Satan undermine his own evil powers?  That makes no sense.  And I tell you that every lie that is ever told will some day be uncovered; the truth will always prevail.  Jesus tells them that God is aware of everything that happens, even to the tiniest bird, and if that’s true—since it is—how much more will he be aware of you, because you are worth so much more.  Now this sounds all good, right?  Well, here’s the disclaimer.  The joy and peace that Jesus brings doesn’t just gloss over deep differences.  There will still be deep differences between those who follow Christ and those who don’t.  Jesus says that our choice to follow him is a higher mission than to find comfort in this life, which includes peace in families.  We are not to neglect our families, but our highest commitment is to God, and that’s why it’s so important to know how best we can live out that commitment.  One way is to know the gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit of God.  (SLIDE #24)

 

Gifts of the Spirit 

             Administration         Apostleship             Celibacy                       Craftsman

             Deliverance              Discernment           Encourager                   Evangelist

Faith                          Generosity               Healing                         Helps           

Hospitality                Intercessor               Interpreting tongues     Interpreting Dreams

Knowledge               Leadership              Martyrdom                     Mercy

Miracles                   Missionary                Pastor                           Poverty (voluntary)

Prophecy                  Public Speaking       Service                         Speaking in tongues

Teaching                  Wisdom                    Worship

 

Here is a list of all the gifts.  To date we have talked about the ones that are in bold:  Deliverence, Faith, Generosity, Hospitality, Martyrdom, Pastor and Worship.  And if you’ve missed any of them, you can get a copy in the Narthex as you leave this morning along with today’s sermon with handouts.

 

Our readings for today give us a promise of being cared for, no matter what, because we are God’s children, along with one of the most important teachings of Jesus, that loving and following Him will not make our lives easy, but it will bring us eternal life.  And in light of that summary, the gifts we’re going to look at today areTeaching,  Apostleship and Leadership.   And we begin with Teaching.  (SLIDE #25) ... a gift to be able to communicate the faith to empower others to learn and pass it along.

TEACHING

didaskalia

in New Testament Greek

A gift to communicate the faith such that

Others are empowered and equipped for ministry.

The ability to clearly explain the Christian faith

 

Typically the Episcopal Church has been lacking in the gift of teaching.  Very few cradle Episcopalians have as much familiarity with the Bible as do those from other Protestant denominations.  But, some of the blame for our biblical illiteracy must be pinned on ourselves.  We all know that we should be regularly reading the Word of God.  And since many of us don’t, the Lord has specifically called some Christians into the ministry of teaching the faith.   So how would you know if you had this gift?   What would be required of you?   What are some characteristics of a person with the gift of teaching?  (SLIDE #26)

FOUR Characteristics

T e a c h e r s   o f   t h e   F a i t h

A passion for the Word of God

An organized plan of study

A deep desire to see others informed

The ability to communicate on the student’s level!

 

There are four particular characteristics.   The first is a passion for the Word of God.  How many of us had teachers in school that we just knew didn’t like teaching?   Certainly there were at least a few who had no business being teachers.    So it stands to reason that a teacher of the faith must have a passion for the Word of God.  Next is the ability to pull a lesson plan together, to seek out references, to anticipate questions, to be as thorough as possible.   In the book entitled Spiritual Gifts author Bryan Carraway writes this about this passion, “If [one with the gift of teaching] found his house on fire, [he] would retrieve his Bible, his concordance, and if time permitted, his spouse!”  In case you don’t know what a concordance is, I’ve brought mine to show you.  If you are searching for a passage in the Bible and you only know one or two of the words, this is the book you need.   EVERY WORD in the Bible is referenced in this book.  (Example)  

 

The third characteristic is a desire to help others learn about this God we worship.  You can only effectively pass along information if it means something special to you.   And finally—and perhaps the most important characteristic—the person with the gift of teaching needs to be able to impart their knowledge on the level of the person they are teaching.   When I went through the ordination process in Rhode Island, a certain priest told me that my sermons were shallow.  (Those were his words exactly.)  In all these years, I haven’t made many changes in my preaching style, and yet I’m still told by many that because I speak your language, you have come to understand Scripture, in some cases, for the first time.   A teacher of the word of God doesn’t have to be able to pronounce it in Greek; he or she just needs to have the passion, be organized, and want to impart God’s word to others in a language they can understand.

 

Most of what we’ve been talking about is focused on following Jesus.  And the next gift we’re going to look at today is the gift of Apostleship (SLIDE #27), which one could say is a double-dose of following Jesus. 

 

APOSTLESHIP

apostolos

Greek for “messenger” or “delegate”

Strategic, spiritual leadership

and spiritual authority over large segments

of the body of Christ for the purpose of

greatly increasing the kingdom of God

 

Apostleship is the ability to exercise spiritual authority over large segments of the body of Christ to further the kingdom of God.  The pope, bishops and some priests have the gift of apostleship.  Paul is also a good example.  In his first letter to the Corinthians he writes:  “I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them…I do it all for the sake of the gospel.” (1 Cor. 9:19,23).  Paul was “entrusted with a commission” (vs. 17), Scripture says, to proclaim the Gospel, and he used this commission to build and encourage numerous churches over the course of his life.   And the other apostles did the same as well.   The word “apostleship” comes from the Greek for “messenger” or “delegate.”  One with the gift of apostleship is a leader of leaders….

 

…which brings us to another similar gift to Teaching and Apostleship:  Leadership (SLIDE #28).   

 

LEADERSHIP

proistanai

in New Testament Greek

means lead by sheltering, guiding, modeling,

and other parenting-type behavior

those with this gift glorify God by loving and

caring for others with protective authority.

 

Good leadership is about modeling, guiding, and parent-like behavior.  A good leader doesn’t just ‘talk the talk,’ but he or she “walks the walk.”  Many of us would never lay claim to the gift of leadership; however, given a second look, you might be surprised.  Leadership can be large or small, individual or corporate.   Those with the gift of leadership care for those they lead.   Look at Moses.  The entire book of Deuteronomy (except for the last chapter that speaks of the death of Moses) is a speech, directions given by Moses to His people, telling them to remember their roots, recalling what God has done for them, and making sure they hang on to their commitment to God.  Thirty-two chapters of instruction!   He cared so much for this people that he didn’t give up on them, even when they built a golden calf and gave up on God.   Out of Moses’ leadership came Joshua and a whole new generation of leaders.  Paul went from being a persecutor of Christians to becoming the greatest voice we have of the Christian church.  Paul didn’t mince any words, either.  He always told it like it is.  He didn’t always make friends, but he did and said what he knew was right in the eyes of God—the mark of a true leader.  And could there ever be any question about Jesus as a leader after God’s own heart?   Jesus’ every word was carefully chosen to glorify His Father, to bring others into the kingdom, to preach the message he was sent to preach.   Some like Judas questioned his leadership skills, but for Jesus and the work He was given to do, His skills were right on!  His goal was always to do the will of His Father.  He wasn’t sent to please the people of God; He was sent to serve and save them.  Those are the marks of a gifted Christian leader.   (SLIDE #29)

 

Teaching?    Apostleship?

Leadership?

 

Lord, what do you have for me?

Where can you use me?

And how can I serve you better?

 

So, we’ve completed Week 5 of our study of the Gifts of the Spirit with Teaching, Apostleship, and Leadership.  At the end of our study, I hope you will be able to look at all thirty-one gifts and find at least one that you know God has given you.  Revisit the sermons, read the more detailed description of the gifts on the attached handouts and you might be surprised what God has planned for you.  As we get closer to the end of the study we’ll talk more about how you can share the results with others.  But for now…  Lord, how can I better serve you?





 

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