In his devotional book Drawing Near, John MacArthur on the page for May 7th, John reminds us that “God can use your natural abilities as a basis for your spiritual service. Peter is a good illustration of how God builds a spiritual leader. He begins with a person’s natural traits and works from there. Natural traits alone don’t make a spiritual leader; the person must also be gifted and called by the Holy Spirit to lead in the church and to be a model of spiritual virtue. But often God endows future leaders with natural abilities that constitute the raw materials from which He builds spiritual ministries. That was certainly the case with Peter, who demonstrated the leadership qualities of inquisitiveness, initiative, and involvement.
Peter was always asking questions. In fact, the Gospel records show that he asked more questions than all the other disciples combined! People who aren’t inquisitive don’t make good leaders because they’re not concerned about problems and solutions.
Initiative was another indicator of Peter’s leadership potential. He not only asked questions, but also he was often the first to respond when Jesus asked questions (e.g., Matt. 16:15-16; Luke 8:45).
Also, Peter loved to be in the middle of the action, even when it got him into trouble. For example, we might criticize his lack of faith when he sank after walking on water, but remember, the rest of the disciples never even got out of the boat.
Peter was inquisitive, showed initiative, and sought to be involved. How about you? Are you inquisitive about God’s truth? Do you take initiative to learn about Him? Do you want to be involved in what He is doing? If so, you have the raw material for spiritual leadership. Continue to cultivate those qualities, allowing the Spirit to use you for God’s glory.”
As John MacArthur just mentioned, God has given not just Peter, but every follower of His specific and unique talents and abilities. Someone told me not too long ago that “the best ability is availability.” Letting God know that you're available and genuinely willing to be used by Him takes practice, courage, and obedience. In Mark 16:15 (NIV) “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation…’”
God commissions every follower of Christ – commands every follower to GO! So how will you respond? With a “here I am, send me.” An “I’m available.” Or “no, thanks,” “maybe later,” or “let me think on it.” In this series we’re going to consider a few scriptural examples of those who made themselves available to the Lord and His work.
The Prophet Isaiah…Isaiah 6:8 (NLT) Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
God already knew who would respond and how he would respond, but He still wanted to give Isaiah the opportunity to build his character in the moment. Isaiah was so close to God that he could hear Him and His request. Knowing God was near made it easier for Isaiah to confidently respond the way in which he did.
David…1 Samuel 17:31-37 (NLT) 31 Then David’s question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him. 32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!” 33 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” 34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!”
David had experienced the Lord being with him his whole life. He knew there was no way he could defeat a lion or bear on his own, and he knew he couldn’t beat an experienced man of war either unless the Lord be with Him. Knowing and experiencing the Lord’s presence gave David the confidence to face anything and anyone. If the Lord is with me, then who can be against me? (Romans 8:31; Psalm 118:6; Psalm 56:9; Psalm 27:1; Luke 12:4-5).
A Scribe…Matthew 8:18-22 (ESV) 18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
The Lord has great compassion for those in mourning. He’s not being inconsiderate or insensitive in this moment. He just wants to know where this scribe’s allegiance lies. He wants to know where his priorities are. He knows the heart of man, and his tendencies. To go back would cause the scribe to be less responsive to the call to go. Most likely the scribe would’ve found himself too attached to family that his choice would be to rather stay home than follower the Lord. It’s easy to say “I will follow” and “I will go,” but to actually do it is another story.
Matthew 15:8 (NLT) These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
Isaiah 29:13 (NIV) The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
I know this is from the Old Testament, but go ahead and read, and then we’ll fit it into our prayer.
Ezekiel 22:30-31 (NLT) “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one. So now I will pour out my fury on them, consuming them with the fire of my anger. I will heap on their heads the full penalty for all their sins. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!”
John 4:35 (NLT) You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.
There’s a lot of work to be done for the Lord. He sees it and knows it. He could do it all on His own, but He’s chosen us to be used by and for Him for His glory. Consider your community and the work for the Lord that needs done in it. God sees it. He looks around for a heart that is willing to step up and get the work done. Is there anyone volunteering and stepping up to the challenge, or would He say, “I found no one”? Check out the resolution in the last Chorus of the song below. Will that be your honest resolve today?
Song Lyrics: Be the One by Al Denson
In a world full of broken dreams
Where the truth is hard to find
For every promise that is kept
There are many left behind
Though it seems that nobody cares
It still matters what you do
Cause there's a difference you can make
But the choice is up to you
Will you be the one
To answer to His call
Will you stand
When those around you fall
Will you be the one
To take His light
Into a darkened world
Tell me will you be the one
Oh sometimes it's hard to know
Who is right and what is wrong
And where are you supposed to stand
When the battle lines are drawn
There's a voice that is calling out
For someone who’s not afraid
To be a beacon in the night
To a world that's lost it's way
There are still some battles
That I must fight from day to day
Yet the Lord provides the power
For me to stand and say
I will be the one
To answer to His call
I will stand
When those around me fall
I will be the one
To take His light
Into a darkened world
I will be the one
Joshua…We previously discussed Peter above…a man loving to be in the middle of the action. We’ll notice today that he and Joshua were much alike. Maybe you can relate with both of these individuals God’s used as well. Joshua 1:9 (NLT) This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua understood that the Lord would be with Him wherever he went…in whatever circumstance he would face. Knowing the Lord would be with him made it an obvious “YES” for Joshua. “I am AVAILABEL, YES. Use me. Send me. Here I am.” Many of us “need to learn to seek and find God’s presence [desire to have God place you in the middle of what He’s up to]. Because God promises us victory. But just like in the Book of Joshua we have to actively participate in it. You see what I’m saying? God’s victory is there. God’s promises are sure…God promises if you seek Me with all your heart I will be found. He promises we can find Him, but our part is that we have to seek Him. Our part is that we have to go to Him. Our part is that we have to participate. Here’s a hint, Exodus chapter 33, remember Moses and the tent of meeting? The cloud comes down, [the Israelites are like] ‘yeah that’s Moses speaking with God,’ and it says in verse 11, ‘when Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.’ Joshua just stayed there. Why? Presumably because he didn’t just want to witness Moses speaking to God, he wanted to speak to God. He didn’t just want to be someone who saw God do great things through Moses, he wanted God to do great things through him. He wanted to hear from God himself, he wanted to meet with God himself, he valued being in God’s presence, he was serious about being with God. Joshua practiced and prioritized being in God’s presence. It wasn’t random. It wasn’t only when in desperate times. It was all the time.” http://gracecovenantchurch.sg/sermons/
On pages 249-250 in Tim Tebow’s book Through My Eyes, Tim states that “Just because something bad happens doesn’t mean that He stopped caring about you or that He stopped being sovereign. Those things are simply part of His plan that we’ll never understand here on earth…That’s where faith comes in. It’s not knowing about tomorrow, but it’s knowing that I have a God who loves me and is going to keep me in His plans and safe in His hands through those coming days without my even knowing what’s going to happen. It gives me great comfort to know that God is not only with me and carrying me when I need to be carried but, already waiting for me in my tomorrow [in my ‘wherever I go’ moments]. Now what is there for me to worry about with God already there to care and lay out His plan for me?”
Do you find yourself in the middle of what God’s doing, or have you allowed yourself to be full of excuses? Paralyzed by fear? Don’t just want to be involved, actually get up and do something…be an active participant. Desire for God to do great things through you too. Practice by taking baby steps of obedience and service and see where it leads to in the years to come. Remember, He’s already there and just waiting for you to arrive.
In John MacArthur’s devotional book Drawing Near, John states on the page for May 20th that, “When you think of Thomas, you probably think of a doubter. But if you look beyond his doubt, you’ll see he was characterized by something that should mark every true believer – an intense desire to be with Christ [when you’re with Christ you’re also involved in what He’s doing].
John 10:39-40 tells us Jesus and His disciples left Jerusalem because of threats on Jesus’ life. While they were staying near the Jordan River, Jesus received word that His dear friend Lazarus was sick. He delayed going to Lazarus because He didn’t want merely to heal him, but to raise him from the dead.
Lazarus lived in Bethany—just two miles east of Jerusalem. So when Jesus decided to go there, His disciples were deeply concerned, thinking it would surely be a suicide mission (John 11:8). Despite the danger, Thomas said, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him’ (v. 16). That’s a pessimistic attitude, but it also shows his courage and his desire to be with Christ, whether in life or death. An optimist would expect the best, making it easier to go. Thomas expected the worst but was willing to go anyway.
I believe Thomas couldn’t bear the thought of living without Christ. He would rather die with Him than live without Him. That’s also evident in John 14, where Jesus told the disciples He was going away to prepare a place for them. Thomas responded by saying in effect, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you’re going or how to get there. Please don’t go somewhere we can’t go!’ (v. 5). He didn’t understand what Jesus was going to do. All he knew was that he didn’t want to be separated from his Lord.
Can you identify with Thomas? Is Christ such an integral part of your daily decisions and activities that life without Him is unthinkable? Do you love Him so much you long to see Him? That was Thomas’s passion. May it be yours as well.”
God makes no mistakes. His timing is perfect. We often tend to fear the possibilities – the “what if’s.” Someone once told me that the safest place to be on earth is in the will of God. If God directs you into dangerous territory, then He will provide a way to escape. If it’s God’s will for you to do something for His sake, then we need to trust His plan. Setting self aside is a tough task. Living for the Lord is tough. But just take some time to consider Thomas’ mindset. Meditate for a while on the underlined words above. What hits home the most for you? Pray and ask the Lord how He’d have you respond to this lesson we’ve been working through concerning making oneself available to and for Him.
Additional Complimentary Verses:
How can I get to the point where I boldly and confidently tell God “here I am send me”? That no matter what, life or death, I have determined that I’d much rather be in His presence.
Prayer: Use me as You will…I am available. I am willing to be a living sacrifice for Your glory!
Nate Smith is a college baseball and football coach, a husband, a father of 6 girls, grandpa to 2 granddaughters, a police chaplain, and has a passion to see men grow in Christ.
#girldad including granddaughter