Jan. 17, 2010
Second Sunday after Epiphany
1 Cor. 12:1-11
Ever have a problem finding just the right gift for someone—a spouse, child, grandchild, fiancé or parent? In the past, I would shop and shop months in advance and make sure I had the right gift for my wife for Christmas, birthday or anniversary.

Lately—maybe for a decade or so—I’m finding that I’m still looking for the right gift to give, but I’m doing it at the last minute. I thought this would never happen to me, but sadly I have the “Last-Minute Gift Syndrome” with which many husbands are afflicted.

I’m so glad God isn’t like that! He knows just the right gift to give to each—and He gives us that right gift for a reason.

I. The Right Gift Offers Us the Experience of Serving Others
My pastor, Rob Prince, in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback newsletter wrote to our church board recently. In the email newsletter, he mentioned that he loved learning from business models. He wrote that considering that millions of customers pass through the 16,120 Starbucks every week, “it’s probably worth looking at how they do what they do. There is a common denominator in great churches and business … they are always reinventing themselves.”

Pastor Prince quotes Howard Schultz of Starbucks, “Great companies are defined by their discipline and their understanding of who they are and who they are not. We know we need to win back customer loyalty every day. Great retailers recognize that they’re in the business of constantly surprising and delighting their customers…We’ve known for a long time now that Starbucks is more than just a wonderful cup of coffee. It’s the experience.”

Pastor Prince said that churches that don’t offer “experiences” won’t survive past the middle of the 21st century. Whether we like it or not, churches need
to do the same thing on a weekly basis!

That is what the spiritual gift is all about: to put the customer (others) onto our spiritual radar. Spiritual gifting isn’t about how wonderful we are, how important
we are to the world—it’s about serving others so they can have the experience of knowing Jesus. It’s about coming alongside someone in need; as Paul writes, “Now to each the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7).

Find your spiritual gift and do something with it for the common good of humanity.

II. The Right Gift Offers Us an Authentic Spiritual Life
Christ delivers to us spiritual life through His own death and resurrection. His death on the cross shows us the great love that God has for humanity. The resurrection is the demonstration of the power God has to give us this new spiritual life that He so generously offers us.

Henri Nouwen wrote, “The spiritual life is a gift. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who lifts us up into the Kingdom of God’s love. To say that being lifted up into the Kingdom of love is a divine gift does not mean we wait passively until the gift is offered to us. Jesus tells us to set our hearts on the Kingdom. Setting our hearts on something involves not only serious aspiration but also strong determination. A spiritual life requires human effort.”1

No gift that God gives can be used for anything less than spiritual life…if done so, it is a corruption of that gift and an affront to the living God.

III. The Right Gift Offers Us Ultimate Satisfaction
This anonymous prayer echoes my heart’s cry, “Almighty and eternal God, so draw my heart to You, so guide my mind, so fill my imagination, so control my will, that I may be wholly Yours, utterly dedicated unto You; and then use me, I pray, as You will, and always to Your glory, and the welfare of Your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.”2

If my gift is to be useful to draw hurting people to Jesus…
If my gift is to be useful to help the lost find salvation…
If my gift is to be useful to encourage others to be unified in Christ…
If my gift is to be useful to—(you fill in the blank)…

Then I will experience holy satisfaction!

I sure hope you are not afflicted with the “Last-Minute Gift Syndrome”—it’s so much better to receive and use the right gift now!

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