‘Father, How Do You Want to Use Me?’
by Pastor Gene
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.
- 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?
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