‘Father, How Do You Want to Use Me?’

‘Father, How Do You Want to Use Me?’

God not only has a general will for our lives, but He has a specific will for us too. God’s general will is found in Scripture: don’t steal, don’t lie or be dishonest, speak gracious words, be filled with the Spirit and walk in His light, bear witness to all of God’s goodness, put on the Lord Jesus and make no provision for the flesh, let your reasonableness, your gentleness, be known to all, be forbearing and patient, love all – believers, your neighbors, and even your enemies – be kind.

These are just a few of the general character traits the Lord expects to find in His people. And they’re easy to discover – just open the pages of God’s Word and they’re there for all to find.

The specific will of God for our lives is more of a challenge. God’s perfect plan for one believer maybe to spend his or her life on the mission field, laboring for the Gospel in a foreign land. For another, His will may be to serve as a teacher in a public school, patiently shining the light of Jesus wherever there’s an open door. Such is the magnificent mystery of God’s wise design to build His kingdom.

For the Christian teacher laboring within the tricky walls of the public school, each class is a mission field; to the missionary serving in the dangerous underground church in China, each person is a potential follower of Jesus. Special grace is needed by both. The believer on the foreign field would not have the grace to serve in the public school and the brother or sister serving in the public school would not have the grace for the foreign field. They simply haven’t been equipped for it, because that’s not God’s calling upon his or her life.

God gives us the grace and the gifts we need to fulfill the specific call He has upon our lives.

Psalm 25:12: “ Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.”

Acts 13:2: “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’”

Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

We have to be honest about whether or not we’re actually embracing God’s call, or whether were living a fruitless Christian life. One thing is absolutely certain, the Bible has tough things to say to fruitless Christians! God created us “unto” good works and expects us to bear fruit. To bear no fruit, or to bear bad fruit, is to be what Jesus called, “a useless branch.”

He said, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he [the Father] takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit … I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing … By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples” (John 15:2, 6, 8).

But being a ‘fruit-bearing’ Christian is not God’s specific will, it’s God’s general will for all believers. The question that we all need to be asking is, ‘How specifically does God want to use me?’ To answer that, let’s ask two more basic questions: ‘How can we discover God’s perfect will,’ and, ‘Why do so few Christians find it?’

Well, the answer to the first question – how to discover God’s perfect will – is found in our old friend Romans 12:1-3: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

So, in a nutshell, (1) present your physical body to God as a daily, living sacrifice; (2) present your mind to God for continual renewal; and (3) through testing, you will “discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Or think of it as a mathematical formula:

Present Body + Present Mind = Discover “the will of God” through testing.

The answer to the second question – why so few Christians discover God’s perfect will – is simplicity itself. They don’t do the two things in front of the equal sign (=) in the formula above!

The sad fact is many believers don’t get serious about discovering God’s specific will until they’ve already spent their best years serving their own will.

So, Solomon encourages God’s people to “remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 12:1-8).

All of the poetic imagery above speaks of the aging process. (The almond tree blossoms pure white, like the Q-tipped head of an aged man.) Solomon is saying, ‘Look, friends, don’t wait until you burned up all of your youthful energy serving yourself before you consider how God wants to use you!’ ‘Don’t wait until your spirit is ready to return to “God who gave it”! For to do so is to waste a life, it is vanity, emptiness, vacuity.

Rather, the wise Solomon says, remember your Creator in the days of your youth.

You may still be young as you read this – I hope you are! Or, your youth may largely be in your rearview mirror. But, wherever you are, determine to discover the Lord’s perfect, specific will for your life. The best time to start is today.

 

To consider:

  • Do think you’ve clearly discovered God’s perfect will at this point in your life?
  • What do you think of the Romans 12:1-2 formula:

Present Body + Present Mind = Through testing, discover “the will of God”?

  • Do you agree that “many believers don’t get serious about discovering God’s specific will until they’ve already spent their best years serving their own will?” Why or why not?
  • What are some of the distractions to discovering and fulfilling God’s specific will?
  • Jesus talked about His followers as “branches” connected to the “Vine” (Himself) in John 15. He described the Father’s work of carefully pruning productive branches so that they might produce fruit of an even higher quality. The branch that remains connected to the Vine will bear fruit that glorifies his or her heavenly Father. However, the branch that bears no fruit is virtually useless – good only for fire wood. Reflect on this passage. Evaluate your own spiritual life in its light. What kind of branch are you?
  • Do you believe that each believer has a unique “call” (Acts 13:2)? What does this mean to you? Are you walking in God’s call for your life?
  • How does Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 sit with you? Do they make you feel encouraged? Regretful? Sad? Optimistic? Prayerful? Melancholic? Why?
  • What action will you take with respect to discovering the specific, perfect will of God for your life?
share

Comments

  1. Michele von Hein : April 30, 2018 at 6:49 am

    I just read a wonderful book by Katie Davis Majors in which she said, “We want clarity, but God wants us to draw closer.” It has been in the drawing near, that I am able to discern that still small voice. When bad things are happening, and it seems like they happen more and more frequently, God gathers His forces around me. At first He was dragging me kicking and screaming through the trials—more recently I have learned to watch for His activity in those hard places. This does not mean things work out the way I want them to—but I have great assurance that He is WITH ME in the hard places and that whatever the outcome, He is in control. In addition, He is changing my focus—this has been the hardest part. I had my daily list of things I must get done, and please, do not get in my way with your relational needs, because I have this list, you see…so lately I have been bringing Him the list, and would you believe He seems to randomly cross things out and change the order? He puts people on the list, and sometimes all He wants me to do is LISTEN to them. The funny thing is that these people have been in my mission field for YEARS and it is only now that I am reallly seeing them and their needs. My morning prayer with my dear husband is this: Holy Spirit, come and fill us this day and make us attentive to your voice. We surrender our minds, our will, our hands and feet as a living sacrifice to your purpose today.

    • We “Marthas” and our lists! What a beautiful prayer you pray each morning. That is my prayer, too. A few years ago, when it was so “in” to wear the WWJD tee shirts, bracelets, etc., has been coming back to my mind. But more and more, as I shared with our precious discipleship group, I want to have that be my AUTOMATIC response and actually take the time, in all situations and opportunities, to think about it, and actually DO, what GOD puts on my heart. There is a song that came to my mind as I listed to the message: Times of refreshing, here in YOUR PRESENCE, no greater blessing than being with you. My mind is renewed and my heart is restored…
      The call on our lives becomes clearer when we put the equation into play.

      Father, may we be ever at your feet, listening for your still small voice. Thank you Lord, that because you love us so much, that if we’re staying from or not walking in your perfect will for our lives, you put faithful friends, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, kids, pastors, (even donkeys!) in our path to encourage and challenge us. May we be sensitive to your spirit to see when we can be used for just that purpose, to others.

  2. Surrendering to the will of God is the constant I see in every season. Dying daily to my own agenda is only possible through the Spirit of God’s transforming power. My “to do” list looks different than His most days. His “holy agenda” always results in blessing, though it is often uncomfortable. Loving His plan more than my own is a moment by moment submission. His ways are in opposition to the world, so He asks me to put away my childish people-pleasing. At day’s end I am never full of regrets when I have chosen the narrow path He has assigned me. That sanctified path is lined with pit-stops of refreshment.

  3. Lord, have Your way in me. I’m still trying to see Your will;wanting to submit to what Your plan is for my life. Am I listening hard enough? You know me, Lord. I’m not always the best listener. I don’t want my life to pass by without the pruning.

  4. Brenda Riegel : April 30, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    Sometimes I think it is so difficult to find God’s specific will for my life is because I don’t surrender to Him as fully as I think I do. Sometimes He has to point out to me via the woodshed that my motivations are in the way of my listening to Him. I am so grateful that God is so gracious and patient with me as I peel back each layer of the onion so to speak. To learn His specific will, I’m thinking we need to be content at times to doing nothing and listening carefully rather than always doing.

  5. David Medeiros : May 1, 2018 at 7:10 am

    I think we all know believers who have started out with zeal and energy, serving the Lord. But as time passes and things of the world, the flesh and the enemy’s enticements, they fizzle and settle for mediocrity. Reminds me of King Saul, who started so well but we all know his tragic ending. It is what we discuss many times in SS, it’s not how we start the race but how we finish, Hebrews 12:1,2, and I use this statement frequently, ” we can live the Christian life, or we can have Christ live His life through us.” The former I believe ends in mediocrity,complacency,indifference and apathetic toward the will of God. The latter process is genuine discipleship in action, infused with power from on high that keeps us moving forward with endurance, persevering through the trials, honoring the Lord Jesus, Phil. 3:12-14

  6. Joy Lavallee : May 2, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    Realizing God’s call is a wonderful thing. It is not always what we expect it should be and sometimes we feel ill equipped but if God is truly calling HE will provide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *