"TO BE USED OF GOD!"
Written and preached by David P. Nolte




PHILIPPIANS 2:3-11


The song by Audrey Mieir expresses the Christian desire: "I've a yearning in my heart that cannot be denied, It's a longing that has never yet been satisfied. I want the world to know the One who loves them so, Like a flame it's burning deep inside. To be used of God, to sing, to speak, to pray; to be used of God to show someone the way. I long so much to feel the touch of His consuming fire; to be used of God is my desire." That was the desire of a group of young people in California. They spent three months preparing and planning to go to Mexico during Easter break to help the poor. They had prayed that God would use them in some mighty way, so in anticipation of His answer they set off to help a small church in a village near Mexicali. They had a desire to be used of God; they had a desire to benefit someone. Paul urges upon all who would be Christ-minded, who would be used of God, to have the same purpose.

  1. To Be Used Of God We Must Have A Desire To Benefit Others: VV2-4:
    1. Paul's words may sound lofty and pious but wholly unrealistic. But he is not engaging in mere rhetoric. He is telling us what we need to be doing in actual life. His words are difficult and challenging and unsettling. They are not easy words. But they are basic to those who genuinely want to serve Christ and be of use in this world.
    2. This idea goes cross grain to a culture that is self-absorbed and preoccupied with being benefitted by others. Paul's words are the death knell to selfishness, egocentricity, and possessiveness.
    3. What will this take on our part? To truly desire to benefit others we need to come to
      1. A realization that we are not the center of the universe and that the sun doesn't rise or set on our concerns.
      2. An admission that other people's needs are of equal importance to our own.
      3. An acceptance of the fact that we have some responsibility to fulfill toward others.
      4. A willingness to set aside self-seeking and self-indulgence in favor of the welfare of our fellow man.
      5. A genuine concern and commitment to actively affect for good what happens to other people.
      6. A recognition that true greatness derives from true service.
    4. Though it is alien to modern thought for the most part, people need a sense of "oughtness," an awareness of duty, a concept of indebtedness to the distress of other human beings. To be used of God we must have a desire to benefit others.
This group of young people had such a desire. On Sunday morning when the young people arrived in the village, they saw the church building. It had been badly burned, the roof was caved in and only four walls remained standing. They cautiously made their way in to find a discouraged preacher leading nine worshipers in a song service. This was nothing like they had envisioned. They had not been prepared for the dilapidated and run-down building or the weary, discouraged people they would encounter. But shaking off their first culture shock and bracing themselves to do what they had come to do, they determined to be of some benefit whether it was easy and comfortable or not. Paul represents Jesus as having the same desire. Leaving the ecstasy and bliss of Paradise and coming to a world in shambles was a real condescension. To be faithful, we need to be possessed of the same purpose.
  1. To Be Used Of God We Must Be Willing To Leave Our Comfort Zones: VV5-8:
    1. While Jesus was totally in agreement with emptying Himself to become a human being through the incarnation, it was a definite lowering of position, a leaving of His comfort zone. It would be tantamount to a king whose velvet-slippered foot had never stepped on less than luxurious carpet walking barefoot in a vermin infested alley littered with refuse and garbage. It would be like a connoisseur of only the finest of cuisine, whose mouth had never tasted the vile and disgusting sitting down to a plate of oysters topped off with clam chowder (yuck!)
    2. What is a "comfort zone" anyhow? It's when we have no challenges, no stresses, no sacrifice, no uncharted territory to deal with. Jesus clearly left His comfort zone when He came to earth, the Prince of Heaven to become a peasant on earth. The Creator to serve the creature, the Giver of Life to die on the cross.
    3. People say it as though it were a legitimate excuse for not serving or doing or working; "I'm just not comfortable doing that." But "comfort" has never been, is not now, and will never become the standard for doing or not doing something that needs to be done.
      1. It was not comfortable for Moses to confront Pharaoh to say, "Let My people go!" But he confronted him.
      2. It was not comfortable for Jeremiah to be cast into a pit where he sank into the mud. But he endured it rather than back down from faithful preaching.
      3. It was not comfortable for Daniel to be uprooted from Judah and hauled off to Babylon. But he served God there anyhow.
      4. It was not comfortable for Stephen to be ridiculed and then stoned to death for preaching Christ, but he was faithful even to death.
      5. It was not comfortable for Paul to be imprisoned for the faith. But he learned to be content even in prison.
      6. It was not comfortable for Jesus Christ to leave heaven, to be rejected, tried, condemned and crucified. But He did it.
    4. If we expect to be of account for the Lord, we have to be willing to stretch ourselves, to expand our limits, to push out our borders and to do what we've never done before and to stop worrying about what is comfortable! We will never count for Christ and the church unless we are ready and willing to do so.
The young people had left the comfort of their own homes to come to a place strange and foreign to them. They found a situation beyond that for which they had been prepared. The congregation eyed the young people suspiciously and at the end of the hymn the preacher approached them and asked, "What are you doing here, and what do you want?" It became quickly evident that there had been a communication break-down and that their letters explaining their plans to come and serve had not reached the preacher. He was as bewildered as they were. Finally, one of the group spoke, "We are Christians, and we are here to serve." The preacher explained that some of the villagers had burned the building and that the congregation had been praying that God would send help but they had given up hope that help would come. But the answer came in the form of young people who believed that God had called them to help someone and who were willing to obey that call. They were not motivated by simple humanitarianism; they were there to do the Lord's bidding. If we would count for Jesus, if we'd be used of God, we must be governed by the same spirit of obedience.
  1. To Be Used Of God We Must Submit To Jesus As Lord: VV9-11:
    1. The same spirit of obedience that brought Jesus to earth and took Him to the cross is crucial to anyone who would honestly claim to be His follower. Whatever you may accomplish in life, to really be of use to God you need to serve Jesus Christ.
    2. Many would love to know Jesus as Savior but that isn't possible unless we also know Him as Lord, acknowledge His authority and willingly submit to His commands. Paul makes it clear that whatever controls us, whatever is the prime mover in our lives, whatever we obey is our lord and we are slave to it!
      1. If we love riches, money is our lord.
      2. If we pander to our physical drives, sex is our lord.
      3. If we yield to our creature comforts, ease is our lord.
      4. If we obey our desire for control, power is our lord.
      5. If we are dominated by athletics, sports is our lord.
      6. If we are subservient to popular opinion, the crowd is our lord.
      7. But if we want to serve God, if we want to be used of God, then Jesus must be Lord.
    3. Consider this:
      1. When Jesus foretold His coming death, Peter said, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." But Jesus answered, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." Matthew 16:22, 23. Peter could not be a real servant of God as long as he challenged the authority of Jesus. If Jesus is Lord we never tell Him what's going to be, we simply report for duty.
      2. Saul of Tarsus did not become Paul the Apostle and serve God until he acknowledged Jesus as Lord.
      3. Jesus disavows those who do even apparently miraculous deeds but don't truly submit to Him in obedience. Matthew 7:21-23.
    4. If we truly want to be used of God it begins with a heart that acknowledges and submits to the authority of Jesus Christ as Lord of all.
The students wanted to serve Christ and encountered a situation unlike any they expected. But they had come to serve, and serve they would. When the students heard that the congregation had been praying for someone to come help, one of them said, "I can't believe it. We're an answer to prayer!" They were an answer to prayer because they sincerely wanted to be used of God. We can all be the answer to someone's prayer if we live by the last verse of Audrey Mieir's song, "When I think about the shortness of my earthly years, I remember all the wasted days, the wasted tears. I long to preach the Word to those who've never heard Of the One who can dispel all fears. To be used of God, to sing, to speak, to pray; To be used of God to show someone the way. I long so much to feel the touch of His consuming fire; to be used of God is my desire." Is that your desire this morning? Do you want to be used of God? Would you like your life to count for what lasts? Would you invest in the work of eternity? Then have a desire to benefit others, be willing to move out of your comfort zone, and acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ. You can make that decision today, and you can begin in earnest to serve Him, by committing your life as we sing our hymn of invitation, "I Surrender All."
 
Story submitted by Roy Johnston to "Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks" compiled by Wayne Rice. Youth Specialties, El Cajon, California. 

"To Be Used Of God" © copyright 1964 by Manna Music, Inc., 2111 Kenmere Ave, Burbank, California.


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