|UNITY OF VANCOUVER
3814 FRANKLIN ST. VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON 98660 360-696-0996
Your Divine Gifts
Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
November 6, 2022
All Rights Reserved
YOUR DIVINE GIFTS
A basic Truth that Unity teaches is “What we see is how we experience the world.” This is important to remember because we may see someone play the piano, sing or be great in sports and think “I wish I could do that, then I could give something special to my family or the world.” We often compare ourselves to others and overlook the fact that we are all special because we are all individualized expressions of God endowed with our own gifts of Spirit. Jealousy and envy of another’s gifts isn’t a new problem. Jesus’ disciples constantly bickered among themselves. They all wanted to be “the one he loved most.” The Bible says it was John, but if you read the Gospel of Thomas, Peter asks Jesus why he loves Mary best and puts his tongue in her mouth. Jesus replied, “I just love her differently.”
Paul also experienced this in his work with the early Christians in Cornith. Some of them said, “I want to be a healer,” others said, “I want to be a prophet.” In other words, I want to do something big and so important that it changes lives. So, Paul wrote them a letter about spiritual gifts recorded in I Corinthians 12:1, 4, 12, 14, 17, 20, 27. “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, and sisters, I do not want you to be ignorant. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service and different kinds of working, but it is the same God who works and activates all of them in everyone. To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given the utterance of wisdom, to another the utterance of knowledge, to another faith, to another gifts of healing, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another the ability to speak different kinds of tongues and to still another, the interpretation of tongues. All of these are the work of one and the same Spirit. God gives to each one, as he determines. For just as the body is a unit made up of many parts, so it is with Christ. We were all baptized by one spirit into one body, given one Spirit from which to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I don’t belong to the body, it wouldn’t for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it and just as God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be, so it is with you.”
Each of us is gifted in our own perfect way but each of us has also been conditioned by the culture we live in to believe some gifts are better than others. In our culture some gifts produce more results in the form of money. For example: Movie stars often earn more for their gifts than you or I do. When you are trying to pay the bills or buy groceries, it is hard to remember that you are an invaluable part of the whole. Poet John Dunne reflected on this Truth when he wrote: “No one is an island entire of itself. Everyone is a piece of the continent, a part of the main, and anyone’s death diminishes me.” Jesus put it like this. “If I be lifted up so are all men lifted up.”
You are drawn here not only to receive teachings and experience God’s grace in united prayer, but because you have a gift to share, and practice with this church family at this time and then to share beyond these walls with humanity. Our business is to remember that we are spiritual beings created to live our lives from spiritual principle. Like Jesus, we are destined to be about our Father’s business. We are a vital part of the transformation that will unite all life consciously as the one body of God made manifest. We each have a gift but if you are like me that gift might not come to the surface unless you are pushed by Spirit through some life experience into bringing it forward.
I was pushed by my minister to lead a meditation and to become a minister. I was pushed by my boss to teach a class. Examine your own life and if what you’re doing today is so comfortable that you can do it without thinking, God is probably nudging you in some area of your life with discontent and pulling at you, because there is more in you to release into expression.
Here is an example. Many years ago, there was a piano bar that had a great piano player and a terrific soloist. People would come from miles around to hear the music. Then one night, the soloist was sick. The owner of the bar realizing the importance of the piano music and the singing, went to the pianist and said, “Tonight, you not only play, you get to sing!” The piano player looked at the man and said, “I can’t do that.” The bar owner said, “Help me out and I’ll double your paycheck.” And that night for the first time ever, the world was gifted with the mellow and beautiful voice of Nat King Cole; a man who knew he could play the piano but believed he could not sing.
God stretches us into the fullness of our gifts whether we’re open and receptive or not. And like Nat King Cole, when someone asks us to do something out of our comfort zone the temptation is to say “No, I can’t do that.” But there is always a spiritual question behind the physical question, no matter what they ask you to do. And that spiritual question is: “Are you looking out from God in you, knowing God can do anything through you, or are you looking out there somewhere to find God.”
Jesus taught that God is right here within us, closer than our own breath. Unity teaches there is only one presence and power. Right now, God is looking through me, doing through me, thinking through me because God is consciousness. There is a part of me, my “I or Ego” that has become awake and aware of the movement of God life and knows, “It is not I but the Father within who does the works.” But if my “I” spends time thinking that my gifts are better or worse than someone else’s, then my I is thinking it’s me that does the works and not God, not the I Am.
Let’s look at the 10 gifts Paul described and how they work in our lives and flow into everything we do. These 10 gifts are paired, just as all our physical body parts work in relationship.
1. The first pair is wisdom and knowledge: Wisdom is of the heart, feeling and Heaven. Knowledge is of the head, thinking, and Earth. We seek the mystical marriage of heart and head. Charles Fillmore, Unity’s co-founder, described wisdom as: An intuitive knowing that we are one with God and all life; an awareness that a direct connection to God is accessible to all of us. It’s when you know what you know but you can’t tell anybody what you know but you can demonstrate what you know, and people can learn from your example. Wisdom often comes after we develop knowledge. Knowledge is gathering facts. Do you know the difference in you between heart wisdom and head knowledge?
Myrtle Fillmore used wisdom and feeling to reach God. Charles used knowledge while acknowledging that knowledge often blocks the movement of wisdom.
Have you ever had that happen? God is giving you a message, but the facts get in the way. The doctor says it’s impossible to get well. Charles Fillmore also said, “When separate, the distance from the head to the heart is further than the distance from one end of the universe to another.” God brings us our good in spite of outer facts. Outer facts are often the stimulus that send us in search of God. All that matters is our response to that stimulus. Our response must be positive. As Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”
2. The next 2 gifts are FAITH and healing. Faith is the heart healing the head. We all have faith. It’s just a question of what we put our faith in: outer facts by authorities who tell us we’re going to be sick and die or that we’re never going to prosper or faith in God and in ourselves as joint heirs in Christ to the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Good News of the Gospels is that we have within us all that is needed to live a life of wholeness and abundance. The question is: Do I direct my faith inward or outward? Healing and faith are paired because when our faith is rightly placed, healing happens. Healing is a reflection of faith. The more aligned our minds are with Divine Mind, the more we experience wholeness and freedom. We can experience cures through medicine and doctors, but we experience healing only through God. The difference is one is permanent the other isn’t.
3. Gifts 5-6 are: working of miracles and prophecy. Miracles are of the heart and God. Prophecy is of the head, and man or earth or as Jesus put it, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” The Prophets of the Old Testament who foretold of doom and gloom were just good observers of society and people. Just as right faith reflects healing rather than temporal cures, prophecy reflects the law of karma, cause and effect, or the law of mind action: as in mind so in manifestation, which is subject to change. Miracles reflect what God is, the Law of Grace. Prophecy reflects the idea: What you see is what you get. The question to ask yourself is what am I choosing to see? There are only two choices: We can have a positive response or a negative response. We can look at the world and see doom and gloom or we can see God and good. Only plant positive seeds that affirm peace, love, and wholeness.
4. The 7 and 8 gifts are: The speaking of tongues and interpretation of tongues. The speaking of tongues is called glossolalia. In some churches it’s considered a visitation of the Holy Spirit. Does it happen in Unity? Of course. It happens when you are with someone and say just the right thing that allows him or her to have a breakthrough and let go of their pain. It happens when you are desperately seeking a new understanding and a friend says something that catches your attention, and you realize you’ve been looking outside and not inside for answers. It happens when you interpret something that is said on a far deeper, personal level. You are ‘interpreting in tongues’ as you listen to my lesson and drawing your own meaning for your own life from what I say. It works the same with reading. The Holy Spirit is the movement of God in us. God is listening in you and responding through you. My prayer before each service for over 40 years is “Dear God let me say at least one thing that helps somebody today! If I do that, I’ve spoken in tongues, and you have interpreted those tongues.
5. The final 2 gifts 9 & 10 are the discerning of Spirit and the listening to Spirit. The discerning of Spirit is simply recognition that “By the fruits of their labor you shall know them.” As you look at your life, what is the prominent direction of your faith and heart, your thoughts, and head, you can see whether you are living life from the law of Grace or the Law of Karma. The gifts: discerning of Spirit and the listening to Spirit begins with the recognition that like comes to like; that we attract to us, through us that which we are.
At the burning bush Moses heard the words: I am that I am. I am and I experience the climate of my heart and head. ‘I am what I behold. I choose to behold the Christ in you, and I am happy and healthy. As we move about life, we’re constantly discerning, which means, asking ourselves questions. Where am I comfortable and happy? What’s makes me feel good and at peace? Is it going to a movie filled with violence? Is it finding a community of people who are positive, joyous, and working together so our children can have what we had or better? Spirit is guiding you to tap into the resources of your greater self so that you are excited about your spiritual journey. As you discover more about your spiritual gifts and how you can make a difference in your life and in the lives of others, you get more excited about your life. At Unity, I learned that “I am a spiritual being having a human experience.” I live my life guided by divine wisdom and not just human knowledge. Listening and following Spirit’s guidance for a positive response to a challenge is the most important thing we can do. Albert Schweitzer summed it up when he said, “The hardest thing I have ever in my life had to do was to follow the very guidance I had prayed so hard for.”
Jesus said, “The gifts of the Kingdom of God are already yours.” When he looked at people, he saw their humanness, but he also saw their blessedness. He saw God. I hope this lesson makes you think twice about the phrase ‘what you see is what you get.’ Think twice: see your personality and human self but then look deeper and see your spiritual individuality and Christ self. Are you a human being trying to get more spiritual or a spiritual being having a human experience? The spiritual journey is about remembering who you are and not just learning and spouting off more facts.
After his discussion of Gifts, Paul describes his vision of a community of Light, as a city of light set on a hill for all to see. I invite you to close your eyes and see it coming into manifestation. I see the power and spirit of the living Christ expressing through our loving hearts, receptive minds, and willing hands. I see God flowing steadfastly through us, from generation to generation. I see Spirit going forth in wondrous directions and blessing the lives of those with whom we pray and to all life on this planet and beyond. There is only one presence and power in the universe and in my life, God the good omnipotent. May we feel our deep interconnected roots and live to make those roots visible as peace on earth, good will to all. Amen.
I’ll close with a writing by Mary Knight-Burdsal called: “What is Hand?” Let us take the hand. Look at your own. Some say there are 5 fingers. Others would argue: 4 fingers, 1 thumb and a palm, and the back of it, and a very important connection called the wrist, although the wrist is not truly a part of the hand, So, why are the fingers? And can there be a back to a palm if the essence of palm is the chakra inside of hand? Oh, we could go on and on. Yet, what is the answer? How can we come to know the hand as “hand?” And is it really all that important?
Unless. . . Let me reach out and take your hand. Ah yes! Already I feel the knowing! It is in the giving of mine and the taking of yours, the giving of yours and the taking of mine. From movement to movement, from grasp to grasp, We hold what hand is in the meaning of us.
What do you think?
© Unity of Vancouver, 2004 All Rights Reserved.