It’s been over twenty years since I prayed this prayer: “Lord, take all of my life and use me however you choose.” Then I gulped, closed my eyes tightly and held my breath.
I knew I had made the most important commitment of my life—more important than getting married or having children. I gave complete control of my life to the Creator of the Universe. What would He do with me?
I just knew God was going to send me to some remote village in Africa. But He didn’t. I thought He would send me to work in a homeless shelter. But He didn’t. Or maybe He’d tell me to throw out all of my make-up products and go natural. But He didn’t. I expected a drastic event of some kind to take place. But it didn’t.
I desperately wanted God to use me.
This is what He did do: He showed me that ministry had to be on His terms, and not mine. His ways are not my ways. His thoughts are not my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).
God bends and breaks those who speak for Him. And I needed some bending, some letting go of fears, past hurts, and attitudes, and even some breaking.
Yeah, I know. It doesn’t sound appealing. This is because when we become Christians we expect that life will be better. Our definition of better is usually different than God’s. But God’s better is the BEST. This took me awhile to learn (I’m still learning).
It’s true that God can use anyone. He doesn’t show favoritism based on race, age, gender, marital status, sexual past or present, income, or any of our failures. But He will never lower His standards because His standards are true and right and the best; He uses only humble, obedient and surrendered followers.
Many Christians will not be of much use to God because of mindsets and behaviors that limit the Holy Spirit.
First Thessalonians 5:19 calls it “quenching the Holy Spirit.” I don’t know about you, but I need as much Holy Spirit in my life as possible. I never want to quench or suppress Him.
If you and I want God to use us, then let’s be careful not to fall into any of these categories:
There are many Christians who enjoy the benefits of salvation but never relinquish control from their tight little fists. Jesus is the savior as well as LORD. He deserves the right to not only guide our lives but override our attempts to make selfish and harmful choices. Holding onto control is pride. It is saying that you don’t trust God to handle your life.
If the Holy Spirit isn’t the one in control of your life, then SIN is in control.
“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6
If we want God to use us, then we must move over to the passenger seat and let the LORD drive.
Oh, how humans love to judge, criticize and blame—and we’re so good at it too! We should be. Humankind has been developing our inner critic since the Garden of Eden. The devil, the Accuser, (Revelation 12:10) was there to spur it on. So, if we are accusing and judging others, we are cooperating with the schemes of the devil.
The Holy Spirit will not work through people who are bitter, angry and judgmental.
The carnal mind is the mind of the flesh and senses. Our senses are an unreliable guide and often contradict the Word of God. We live in a time where it is not only popular but acceptable to lower our standard of moral behavior. It has become increasingly prevalent to live in sinful lifestyles that go against the word of God.
The world and the carnal mind shout things like: Follow your heart. Look out for number one. Do what feels good. The Bible tells us the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). To put others first (Philippians 2:3-4). And not to copy the patterns of the world, but to let God transform our thinking (Romans 12:1-2).
The flesh wants power, money and to be content at all times. We are inundated with messages that tell us what we must have in order to be happy. The Bible tells us if we love God, then we will not love the world and the things it offers (1 John 2:15).
Do not be fooled. Those who live in blatant sin and love the world will not be used by the Holy Spirit. Our usefulness to God is based on whether we are submitted to the sanctification process. This simply means we are in the process of surrender to God at all times.
Holiness is not optional in God’s economy.
“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21
Let’s face it, the Christian message is and always has been countercultural.
We need to face this fact as we choose to follow the Great Commission of sharing our faith (Matthew 28:16-20). When Jesus told us to go and make disciples it was a command. If we are not sharing the Good News, we are not obeying Christ—plain and simple.
Worry is another form of fear. Fear has the power to paralyze. This is why it’s such a popular tactic of the enemy. Fear simply stated is unbelief, which also reveals our lack of trust in God. Faith and fear cannot exist together. Our deliverance from fear is based on faith. We need to understand that faith is not something we generate on our own (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith is a gift. God gives us faith to be courageous.
If you’ve been stuck in fear, repent for your lack of faith and ask God to increase your courage. Memorize a few scriptures about courage to recite when you feel afraid. Here are a few: 1 Chronicles 28:20, 1 Corinthians 15:58, Ephesians 6:10, Deuteronomy 31:6-8
If we want God to use us, we must courageously step out of our comfort zones.
Somewhere in the midst of all the 21-century technology, we’ve lost the discipline of discipleship. God wants more than a quick prayer on our commute or a five-minute devotion read on our smartphones. Going to a weekend church service is great, but it doesn’t take the place of consistent one-on-one time with our heavenly Father.
We make time for the things that are truly important to us. If knowing God is important to you, it will show in your priorities.
If knowing God through His word and prayer matter to you, you’ll do it.
We must be consistent students of the Word who obey what it says. Obedience to the Word will show through our faith and faith will show in our actions. Service is a byproduct of a mature and growing Christian. If we want God to use us, we must make His word, prayer, and service priorities.
Halfhearted, lukewarm people don’t change the world. God calls us to be world changers!