Who Am I?

Friday, November 18, 2016, 6:11 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 6:1-7 (ESV).

His Purpose and Grace

We read in Psalm 139 that God created our inmost being. He knit us together in the wombs of our mothers. All the days ordained for us were written in God’s book before one of them came to be. We read in Jeremiah 1 that God knew Jeremiah before he formed him in the womb of his mother. Before he was born, God set him apart to be a prophet to the nations.

We read in 2 Timothy 1:8-9: “Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

And, in Ephesians 1:3-4 we read: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”

In Romans 12:4-8 we read: “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

And, in 1 Corinthians 12:11, 18: “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”

As well, we read in Ephesians 4:15-16: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

It’s Not Right (Ac. 6:1-4)

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

You have probably heard the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” This figure of speech is “used in reference to a person that is competent with many skills, but no particular one” (Wikipedia). This can be good if you are a handyman, i.e. if your job is to do maintenance work in a building, and therefore you need to have multiple and/or overlapping skills. As Christ’s ministers, though, it is possible that this could be a detriment if we stretch ourselves over too many ministry areas and thus we neglect the one prominent area of ministry to which God called us even before the creation of the world, and before we were even formed in the wombs of our mothers.

Many pastors, for instance, are expected to do all the preaching of the Word, all the hospital and shut-in visitations, all the counseling, and all the planning and implementation of “church” programs, etc. In addition to this, in today’s modern institutional church, they are expected to be business men with marketing skills, and entertainers and actors who must keep the “customers” coming back for more. Thus, they feel they have to focus more on doing what appeals to human flesh, rather than on spending the necessary time and heart with God in prayer and in his Word so that they are able to lead their flocks to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in obedience.

Yet, this passage of scripture should not be taken as only applying to those who are professional ministers with congregations under their authority. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are all his ministers. God has called each and every one of us to something that we alone are to do. It doesn’t mean other people don’t have the same gifts or similar functions, but that God has a unique assignment for each of us. In other words, not one of the apostles was exactly the same as the other, although they were all apostles.

So, we need to focus our attention on who God created us to be, on why we are here, and on what he has called us to do. We need to spend time with God in prayer, and in his Word, and we need to seek his face concerning what part of the body he wants us to be, and then we need to dedicate ourselves to being that part, and to not trying to spread ourselves thin. Then, the body can grow, because every part is doing its assigned work.

Full of Faith (Ac. 6:5-7)

And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

If we don’t have faith in Jesus Christ, God does not have an assignment for us, at least not Holy Spirit empowered for the building up of the body of Christ. So, first of all, we need to examine ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith. Belief in Jesus Christ is not mere words we recite after someone else, or a one-time emotional or intellectual experience we go through. When we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives, we die with Christ to sin so we can live with him to righteousness. We are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). If we say we have fellowship with God, but we conduct our lives according to a sinful lifestyle, then we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6).

Once we are sure we have true faith in Jesus Christ, then we need to spend quality and quantity time with him each day in prayer (talking to God), in the study of His Word, listening to him speak his truths to our hearts, and then in obedience to what his Word teaches us we must do. God will guide our hearts into his truth, and he will show us the way we should go. As we follow him where he leads us, and we get to know him and his heart, we begin to see what gifts he has given to us and how he wants us to use them in the body, and for his glory. And, then we need to say “Yes” to his leading, and do what he asks us to do. We should then care more about pleasing him than we care about the acceptance of humans. He is likely to call us to do something which will get us rejected by other humans, and so we need to be willing to be hated, persecuted and even killed for obeying our Lord.

We may not always see immediate fruit for our labors, though. Some people are called to plant, while others will reap, so even if you can’t see all the produce now for the sowing you are doing in other people’s hearts, trust God, follow his lead, do what he says, and leave the results to him.

Let him have his way in your heart and life, and let him use you in the way in which he called you even before you were born. We won’t always know all the impact we have on other people’s lives. But, God will use our obedience for good, for the salvation of human lives, for the encouragement of the saints, and for the building up of his body if we surrender to him and let him mold us into the people of God he designed us to be. I surrender all!

Have Thine Own Way, Lord / Adelaide A. Pollard / George C. Stebbins

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

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