Sermon Overview & Prayer: "Enabled and Empowered"

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Corinthians 12:1-11 – PRAYER POINTS
Enabled and Empowered - Bob Kauflin
These written prayers are intended to fuel your meditation on this passage and your enjoyment of God in prayer.

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed...no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.  (1 Corinthians 12: 1, 3b, 4-7, 11)

Each time the church gathers the Holy Spirit graciously works through ordinary people in extraordinary ways for the glory of Christ.  

THE SPIRIT ENABLES US (v. 3)

Paul redirects their thoughts from spiritual experiences and  comparison to the greatest evidence of the Spirit’s activity – enabling those under God’s wrath to receive and love the Lordship of Christ

PRAYER: Father, if ever I am tempted to question the power of the Holy Spirit in my life, simply remind me that I was once dead in my trespasses and sins, a child of wrath;  that I have been born again, and am now made alive together with Christ. And because of the Holy Spirit I can declare that Jesus is Lord!

THE SPIRIT EMPOWERS US (vs. 4-11) 

Paul shifts our attention from the  “ownedness” of the gifts to the “givenness” of the gifts. He is saying the Spirit’s working in us isn’t something we earn or  deserve. He gives gifts of God’s grace.

The Spirit Empowers us Diversely. There are ways we’re meant to be uniform: in our conformity to Christ and the display of the fruit of the Spirit. But in the ways the Spirit empowers us, yes, we can and should be different. There are varieties of gifts, varieties of service, varieties of activities. His point is that the Spirit distributes a variety of gifts because God is a gracious and generous giver.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the innumerable ways you display your goodness and grace through my brothers and sisters. Open my eyes to recognize those gifts, to affirm and give thanks for those gifts, and to be inspired by the love behind each gift. And help me to do so without comparing or complaining

The Spirit Empowers us Individually. There are no nongifted, dispensable people in the church. Every member of the body of Christ, and every member of a local church, is “unique, distinctive, irreplaceable, unrepeatable,” as  British pastor David Prior expresses it. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit.  

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, please stir in my heart a love for others that compels initiative, serving, and care. Keep me leaning forward to faithfully respond to those promptings – whether the name of a person, sharing a verse or a prayer, seeing and meeting a need, or coming up with an idea or a plan. Hear my earnest desire for the spiritual gifts, and grant me faith to recognize ways in which you are granting that desire.

The Spirit Empowers us Purposefully. The Spirit gives gifts to serve others, not ourselves. And what is that common good? To be drawn both to glory in Christ and to become more like him. “Spiritual gifts are always given to be used, and the use is for the  edification of the whole body of believers, not some individual  possessor of the gift.” (Leon Morris)

PRAYER: Please impart through me, those manifestations that effectively bless, serve, and meet the needs of others. May I bless them in such a way as to make them worshipfully aware of the ultimate giver, Jesus Christ.

Am I more excited about doing what’s needed, or doing what I like to do? 

PRAYER: Father, may my joy be in pleasing you by loving and serving others. Deepen my preoccupation with giving, rather than with labeling and promoting “my” gift(s). And keep me from limiting you in the ways you may use me to bless others.. You can use this frail jar of clay to pour out any treasure you choose!

The Spirit Empowers us Sovereignly. It is that glorious news that the Spirit enables us and empowers us to remember, celebrate, and benefit from every time we gather with the church. 

PRAYER: Lord God, fill my heart with faith and anticipation that as long as Jesus Christ is building his church, the Holy Spirit is giving gifts for that purpose! Sharpen my eagerness, my attentiveness, and my determination to act on the opportunities you provide to serve others as a means to that end.

PRAYER: Father, may the Holy Spirit remind me, as Paul delivered to the Corinthians...

 “as of first importance...that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in  accordance with the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4, ESV)  

OVERVIEW OF THE SERMON:
The gathered church is ordinary people gifted in extraordinary ways. The Holy Spirit enables us to live spiritual lives by uniting us with Christ at conversion and then building us into the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit then empowers each member of the body in diverse, individual ways, for the purpose of building up the church. The Spirit’s giving of gifts does not point to any merit on our part, but continues to reveal the gracious nature of our loving Father who has first brought us to life through the death of his beloved Son and now also gives us the Spirit of Christ so that we are continually built up as the church by his own power.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. What do the spiritual gifts tell us about God?
  2. Bob drew our attention to the fact that the Holy Spirit works in and through the gathering of the local church. What is something you have seen the Spirit do via our weekly gatherings?
  3. Bob brought together the truth of people being united with Christ then united with Christ’s body, the church. How does this line of thinking challenge you to be more engaged with the church?
  4. The Corinthians employed the spiritual gifts as a dividing line between the truly spiritual and the not so spiritual. Bob challenged this line of thinking by reminding us that God gives all the gifts by his grace and sovereignty rather than our merit. How does this shape your thinking about God’s gifts to you and to others? 
  5. The Spirit gives the church unity not uniformity. How does this truth temper your sinful reactions toward those who are Christ’s and where does godly uniformity come into play?
  6. How does knowing it is the Spirit that brings unbelievers to Christ inform the way you engage them with the gospel?