You are made in the image of God and recreated in the image of Christ when you were saved. We are talking about today the natural abilities that God has given to you. We have emphasized the uniqueness that you have that nobody is like you, that you are an original. And that God made you for a purpose and God designed you for a purpose and you will have joy and happiness and fulfillment when you fill that purpose. In fact, we are going to looking at two passages of Scripture that speaks about this. One talks about God's working with you and through you and then one that talks about your special abilities that God has given to us. Today's message is "Naturally Gifted."
Ephesians 2:10 "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
You see Adam was created in the image of God but he sinned. And the image of God was marred so Jesus came as the second Adam. And when you are saved you are recreated in the image of Christ. And as such you are God's workmanship. So if you are down on yourself, you are denigrating God because you are the workmanship of God, and the image that God has placed in you. So God doesn't want you to be down on yourself because you are important to Him. He is busy at work. He is a craftsman molding and making and refining your life.
Then in I Corinthians 12:4 it talks about the fact that it doesn't matter what your abilities are, that they are important and you are important because those are God given abilities. Paul says there are different kinds of Spiritual gifts but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving but the same Lord is served. There are different abilities to perform service but God gives us ability to everyone for their service. So as we look at this, he mentions gifts and abilities. Gifts are different than abilities. Gifts are given to you by God when you become a Christian. Abilities are given to you by God when you are born into this world. We are talking today about the natural abilities that God gives.
Now God prepared in advance what He wanted you to do in life, what would fulfill you, what would bring happiness to you and what would benefit the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. And we are not to compare ourselves to someone and say, I wish I had that ability. Or they have a tremendous ability and I don't have abilities. In fact, we are told that there are 500-700 abilities that every person has. And that in mind, I don't think any of us can say we are living up to our abilities. God gave us those abilities for a purpose. And we can find what God wants us to do, what God's will is for our lives when we look at the image that God gave us, the image in which we were created.
Now, we have talked about those five things in these messages that make up your image. Number one is the letter "I", your inward motivation. Everyone has been given a desire by God to achieve certain things. And then we talked last Sunday about your makeup, your personality. Everyone has been given a different personality. We talked about the four basic personality types and pointed out that personality is very complex, but God has given you also, unique abilities. That is the letter "A"; He has given you Spiritual gifts. And finally He has given you experiences in life to shape you and mold you into the image that He wants you to be.
As today as we look at abilities, I want us to realize that not all of us are given the ability to do the same thing. Not everybody here today is gifted to be a basketball player. I mean you can look at me and tell that I was not gifted to play professional basketball. You can look at Michael Jordan and see obviously, he has the ability to do that. But you know, not everybody can do everything well.
For example, Michael Jordan hasn't exactly set the world on fire as a baseball player, amen? But that is okay because, you see, he has that tremendous ability in basketball. And some people weren't made to be basketball players but basketball players weren't made to be jockeys, either? Did you ever think about that? They can't fulfill the physical requirements. And so, the way we are made physically and the way we are made emotionally and psychology has a lot to do with what God wants us to do in life, His will and His plan for our life.
Now, once in a while, you get the idea that if somebody isn't like you then they are wrong, and you know, that is silly! I read the other day about the animals having a conference, a school. They had a school for all the animals and they had certain courses. They had running, swimming, climbing, and flying. And then they decided that every animal should take all of these courses. So, the duck was better than the teacher in swimming but he only made passing grades in flying and he was very poor in running. So they made him drop out of swimming and stay after school to practice running.
But that tore up his webfeet, so he did very, very poorly in running but everybody else felt better because they weren't threatened by how well the duck did in swimming and everybody was happy about it but the duck. The rabbit started at the top of his class in running but because of so much make up work in swimming he caught pneumonia and had to drop out of school. Now, the squirrel showed outstanding ability in climbing but he was frustrated in flying class because the teacher wouldn't let him start from the top of the tree down, she wanted him to start from the bottom up.
And so, he had great difficulty in flying class, but in climbing class he could beat everybody else to the top of the tree, except for the eagle. He was a problem student. And was disciplined because he was a nonconformist. He insisted on using his own way in climbing to get to the top of the tree. Now, he beat everybody else, but he wouldn't conform. And he used a different way to get there. And so because of that, the eagle was kicked out of school. And the point is, God made every animal with different abilities to accomplish different things and God made every person with different abilities to accomplish different things. A duck is meant to swim and an eagle is meant to fly and a squirrel is meant to climb and a rabbit is meant to run. And if God made you to be an eagle, you are not going to be able to do what the rabbit does. And we are going to look at that this morning.
I. HOW TO DETERMINE YOUR ABILITES
First of all you have to remember that every ability that you have is God-given. The Bible says in Romans 12:6, "God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well." That means if I have a natural gift, an ability I was born with maybe some special physical ability, or some special mental ability, it means I have one person to thank for it and that is God. If I am a good planner, if I am a good administrator, or if I am a good leader, a good speaker, a good writer, or if I understand that sciences, if I am good on the computer, then I need to recognize that I have that ability because God wanted me to have it and it has something to do with what God wants me to do in my life.
You can go through the Bible and find all kinds of abilities that God gave people in the Bible. You can start with "A" and go all the way through. The list is too long to read all of them but her are just some of them.
IN the Bible it says that God gave people athletic ability, artistic ability, architectural ability, administering, baking, barbering, boat making, candy making, debating, designing, embalming, embroidering, engraving, farming, fishing, gardening, leading, managing, masonry, molding, musical ability, making weapons, needlework, painting, planning, poetic ability, inventing, carpentry, spelling, soldiering, tailoring, teaching, tent making, writing, many, many abilities mentioned in the Bible. So don't say God didn't give me ability. God gave you many, many, many abilities and they are very special abilities. And you are not to compare your ability with someone else's because God gave you the abilities He wanted you to have to accomplish what He had for you to accomplish in this world.
Number two, not only is every ability given by God, but every ability can be used to glorify God. Paul said, "Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God", Colossians 10. If you are farming it can be done for the glory of God. If you are building a business, it can be done to the glory of God. If you are singing a song, it can be done to the glory of God. The abilities that you have can be done to the glory of God and must be done to the glory of God.
Not just what you do in the church but what you do in your vocation. Your career is to glorify God and bring glory to Him. If you provide a service in your business that helps people, that can be done to the glory of God. If you build computers, that can be done to the glory of God. You can engineer a project as an engineer to the glory of God. The Bible says that our common, everyday life is to be lived to the glory of God. Don't think you have to be a vocational minister in a church to glorify God.
Folks, listen, the Bible says all of us were called to minister. Some were called to minister through their business, or through their vocation. And some were called to minister to the church, the body of Christ, and that was to be their ministry. But whatever you do in life can be done to the glory of God. The Bible says you can make wealth to the glory of God. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 8:18, "remember the Lord your God for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth." God gives to some people the ability to produce wealth for His honor and for His glory. And you see, everything that you do comes as a result of the fact that God wants you to glorify Him in your life.
Then number three; my abilities show God's will for my life. If I want to know what God wants me to do, I look at my abilities and ask the question, God what is it that you want me to do? And my abilities help to tell me that. Look at what the Bible says in Hebrews 13:21, "God will equip you with all you need for doing His will." Now if God had wanted me to be a professional athlete He would have given me the ability to do that. So I look at that and I say that is not what God intended for me to do.
I look at what I enjoy doing, I look at the abilities I have, I look at the things that I do well and then I begin to draw from that what the Lord would have me do in my life. I have said before that all the surveys show that a large percentage of people in our nation are unhappy in their work because they are not doing what they really enjoy doing. And that is sad and that is wasteful because, you see, that joy and that productivity, that fruitfulness comes when you are doing what God has given you the ability to do. My calling and my abilities match.
One of the business writers wrote a book called "The 'C' Zone." And he said that at any point in the day all of operate in one of three zones. He said zone 1 is the panic zone. That is when we are asked to do a job that we don't have any ability to do. Now some of you, if I asked you to come preach a sermon this morning would be in a panic zone for sure. And if you asked me to do what you do on your job, some of you mechanics, some of you engineers, some of you who work in the sciences, many of you who work in the building trade, I would be in the panic zone because I don't have those abilities. That is the panic zone.
Then on the other end is the drone zone. The drone zone is when you are bored because what you do is so easy that you don't even think it takes any effort. So you are bored. But in between the panic zone and the drone zone is the "C" zone. That means the commitment zone. It means the zone where you are comfortable and you are productive and you are happy because you are doing something and it challenges you yet you have the ability to do it. And when it is done, you feel like you have accomplished something. And you see, it tells you something about God's will for your life. If you are doing something and you are in the drone zone all the time or you are in the panic zone all the time, then probably that isn't what the Lord gave you the ability to do.
Number four; if I don't use my abilities then I will lose my abilities. Matthew 25:28, the parable of the talents, Jesus describes God as the man who give three servants different talents. Talents were money to be invested. And when the master came back he wanted to know what they did with the talents he had given them. And you remember the one man had hidden his talent, the other two had invested theirs and had received a return, had doubled the talents the master gave them. And that is a picture of Jesus Christ.
One day, He is going to come. We are going to stand before Him and Jesus is going to ask what did you do with the gifts and abilities I gave to you? Did you use them unto my glory? And you are going to have to answer. This man hid his talent and so he lost it. Look at what the Bible says, “take the talent from him who didn't use it and give to the one who has ten talents." In other words, God has the right if you don't use your God-given abilities to glorify Him; God has the right to take them away. And I know many people who have the talent to sing in the choir and they didn't use it and they lost it.
I know many people who had the talent to work with youth and they didn't use it and they lost it. Many who could work with children, many people who could glorify God through great abilities that the Lord gave them and they didn't do it and they lost it. And that is exactly what the Bible teaches, you will lose it and you will lose your reward on the day when Jesus Christ comes. That is a principle of right, if I don't use my muscles, I lose their strength, if I don't use my mind, it becomes dull and unable to think and to function. Whatever you have that you don't use, you will eventually lose it. Let a building sit empty and unoccupied and it doesn't fulfill what it is designed to do, and that building will become a dangerous firetrap and it will run down incredibly because it is not being used.
So many people in their spiritual life don't have joy and fulfillment and they don't get anything out of church because they are not using that which God gave them to use. Oh listen, there is nothing like being used of God.
II. HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR ABILITIES
Now, I want us to talk about how to develop your abilities then. How can you develop your abilities and use them to glorify God? Number one, uate them. Romans 12:3, "Try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by light of the faith God has given to you." In other words, uate your abilities. What do you desire to do? What are you good at doing? What turns you on? What motivates you? What lights your fire? That is a good thing to do just uate. Evaluate what your abilities are.
Secondly, not only uate your abilities, but also dedicate your abilities. Look at Romans 12:1, Paul says, "offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him." Recognize what our abilities are, that God gave them to you, and then give them back to God. I will tell you what will happen, just read about Moses. God said, what do you have Moses, what is in your hand? A rod. He said, a rod? Well it is your rod; it is the rod you gave me. When Moses realized that, he threw it down. When he threw it down, it became a snake. God told him, pick it up again.
Now he had to be obedient but I am sure he didn't want to get his hand on the business end of a snake, but he picked it up and it became a rod. Only this time it wasn't the rod of Moses, now it was the rod of God. And when you dedicate your abilities to God, they are no longer yours; they are given back to the one who gave them to you. And because of that, God can be glorified, because you are recognizing it is not my ability, I am simply using what god gave me. So you can't hold up your head and say, look at what I did, you say to the world, look at what God did through me! But you present them as a living sacrifice unto God.
A lot of people use tremendous abilities the wrong way. Abilities are neutral; they are neither good nor evil. For example if you have the ability to organize, you can organize a rescue or you can organize a robbery, amen? If you have influential ability you can use it to manipulate people or you can use it minister to people. And giving it to God means you give it to God for His purpose, under His leadership. Sampson had tremendous ability but I can't believe that God gave Sampson his ability merely to show off to the Philistines. He gave him his strength and ability to glorify God and deliver the nation.
So uate your abilities, dedicate your abilities, then number three, cultivate your abilities. That is to sharpen them. Proverbs 19:8 "do yourself a favor and learn all you can, then remember what you learned and you will prosper." He says, learn all you can, education is important. Young people education is of vital importance because the abilities that you have can be so much more effective if they are sharpened on the anvil of education.
Look at Ecclesiastes 10:10, "if the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened more strength is needed, but skill will bring success." A lot of people are dedicated, but they don't have skill. And they work their hearts out and get nothing done because they have not sharpened the abilities that God has given to them. And that is one of the responsibilities that you and I have. If you minister you want to sharpen those ministry skills.
And then number four; liberate your abilities, that is use them for the good of other people. I Peter 4:10, "God has given each of you some special abilities. Be sure to use them to help each other." We are to use our special abilities in the church of the Lord Jesus, the body of Christ to minister to one another, to meet the needs of one another, to glorify God, and to help one another.
One day, Jesus is going to come back and ask did you use your abilities to help others. You see, spiritual maturity is not saying I just can't do anything, so God help me in my poor weak way. Folks that is not real humility. Real humility is saying it with Paul, by the grace of God, I am what I am. By the grace of God, I have this ability to sing, by the grace of God I have this ability to lead or to organize, I have this ability to teach in the body of Christ. It is by the grace of God I am what I am and by the grace of God I am what I am not.
Listen some folks will tell you that you can do anything if you are dedicated enough, it is not true. You weren't intended to do everything. Everybody is not good at everything. But you were intended to do some things that only you can do and fulfill in the purpose of God. And it is not just a matter of dedication; it is recognizing what you uniquely were given the ability to do. That is what you can do more than anything else.
Will Rogers once say everybody is ignorant. Everybody in the whole world is ignorant, all of them on different subjects! I am educated in certain areas and there are certain areas of your work or job that I am not educated in. And the same is true of you toward me. And you don't have to be good at everything. All you have to do is use the gifts and abilities that God has given you. And you will be glorifying God, bringing glory and honor to His name.
What does this mean to about four areas of your life? Number one, what about for your career? It means, build on your strengths until your limitations are irrelevant. Build on your strengths so that you limitations become irrelevant. It means minimize your weaknesses and maximize your strengths. Concentrate on being good in the areas of the ability that God has given you, whatever that ability is.
Secondly, what does it mean for your marriage? It means this, as a couple, husband and wife, enhance each other's strengths and compensate for each other's weaknesses. Stop trying to make your mate like you. Stop saying why don't you be normal like I am and recognize that God puts opposites together so that they can compensate for one another's weaknesses. And so that they can build one another's strengths.
Folks, I want to tell you, I couldn't be a pastor, I couldn't be a preacher, I couldn't do what I do today without my wife, Angie(미자). There is no way I could do it. And the weaknesses in my life are compensated for by her strengths. And some of you, who know us well, know that to be a great truth and a great reality. And you know how lost I would be without her. Because there are some very, very important areas in our ministry that she functions in and without that I couldn't function up here on Sunday morning. And I praise God for that.
And we need to recognize that and encourage each other to know that we are here to compliment and compensate for one another. And we are not here to compete with one another. And that means in the family whoever has the talent to do the budget, do the budgeting. Those who can't add, stay out of the checkbook, amen? There is nothing in the Bible that says here are 33 things the husband is to do and 33 things that the wife is to do. No, the Bible just gives us the Biblical roles. I feel like the husband can delegate to his wife to do anything, amen? He is the head! But compensate one another.
What does it mean for your family? What does it mean for those of us who are parents? It means recognize our children's abilities and do everything we can to help them to sharpen those abilities and function in those abilities and be proud of who they are rather than trying to force them into activities and things for which they don't have the ability.
And make them think that somehow because they are not what we hoped they would be, that they are not in the career we hoped they would be in, that they are a failure, they are not. God didn't make them like us. Every person is different and unique and even though they come from our physical union, they may not be like husband or wife. They are their own person. And we as parents need to guide them in the areas where they have that strength.
What does it mean for your ministry as a Christian? Well, the implication is this; offer your abilities to the Lord in your church family to minister and to build up the body the Christ. Folks, I have had a concern for a long time and that is in too many cases the body of Christ, which is you, you are members of the body, give your all or give your best to the career, the community, to the civic organizations, to the lodges and all the rest, and the church gets the leftovers.
That is not the way God intended it to be. All those things are important, but remember the song, "The Church is alive and well?" If you find a church that is alive and well brother, it is alive and well because the people in it have offered their abilities to the body of Christ to be used for the glory of God. Your church ought to have your best. And one of the problems we have, we don't know what your abilities are. And you need to tell us what your abilities are and offer your abilities to God.
If your abilities are carpentry or painting or fixing things or teaching or working with youth or organizing or typing or whatever they are, offer them. Bring them forward and offer them to your church to build up the body of Jesus Christ. What could a group of like this here today with all the multiple abilities that you have do for the kingdom of God if we brought them together and offered them to the Lord for the work of the church of the Lord Jesus? It would just be incredible what God could do through us.
I want to challenge us, in the next years to come, if the Lord tarries, I want to challenge us to offer ourselves to God as never before to build up the body of Christ. That this would be a mighty lighthouse for Jesus. A hundred years from now if Jesus tarries that long that it will be here with a light burning bright reaching out to people across the world with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.