While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent the delegates to Jerusalem, and they stopped along the way in Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers. They told them—much to everyone’s joy—that the Gentiles, too, were being converted. When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders. They reported everything God had done through them. But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.”Acts 15:1-5
I love how God uses you wherever you are. I want Him to use me like that. Tell me how it happens.
Now for the final one of those “questions” I have omitted. I must admit the other two I figured I had already addressed in an indirect way before this but Ross was still insistent I hadn’t. Last Gem you got the summary of the way in which uncannily God’s Word seems to match our personal situation so often for every one of us. I don’t know how that can be; I just know that it does. Now I turn my attention to the final matter in this group of three before I go back to Antioch again.
How do you get to feel that you can be used by God in your everyday life and feel that closeness of His presence? How do you feel like your life has more purpose than simply going through the motions of the daily routine without feeling God’s presence or perhaps more importantly God’s purpose on your life?
I always put my life in God hands to use on a daily basis. I allow people to interrupt my planned schedule. I simply pray most days that God will order my steps before me and bring me across the path of someone He may want me to help. I have done that for years. It is not that every day is random and disjointed when I do that. Most days continue on as planned. However some days take a dramatic turn from what I had planned for the day in order to help someone in need.
It is a matter of being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to direct your steps. The verse which immediately comes to mind is Psalms 37:23. In fact the song I know related to the verse came to mind before the verse. I have pulled up a quick survey of the verse by using the search feature in E-Sword and then used the <Comparison> to give me the verse in all the versions I have loaded on E-Sword. The ones below I felt were the most significant or noteworthy. Each contains a subtle difference in meaning or an added perspective to our overall understanding.
(BBE) The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he takes delight in his way.
(CEV) If you do what the LORD wants, he will make certain each step you take is sure.
(ERV) The LORD shows us how we should live, and he is pleased when he sees people living that way.
(ESV) The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way;
(NLT) The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.Psalm 37:23
When you commit your way to the LORD you soon learn that you can trust Him to work things out for you. Here is one of the first verses I stored away in my memory banks. It’s one of the verses I have tried to make a life verse. I have given it to you in the Message Version.
Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.Proverbs 3:5-6
I hasten to add I am not always consistent in doing it to the nth degree but I do try to leave room for God to change my day in the way He wants to do. Apart from asking for His guidance day by day we have to be willing to submit to a potential change in our plans when He intervenes or when He brings someone across our pathway who’s in need. At times it can be inconvenient, at times it can be disruptive and it certainly can mean more work or effort than I may have originally intended. But in the process of it all I try to stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit to show me which ones are His promptings and which ones are my own thoughts or worse yet the responses that come from feelings of guilt because I think maybe I should be doing more. Just remember if satan can’t stop you from doing something then his next ploy is to push you to do more of a “good thing” than God ever intended you to do. The secret is to stay close to the LORD and listen for His input to you. Note the above verse – let Him direct your steps, not your guilt or the insistence of someone else. I can’t save the whole world so I refuse to get sucked into every need around me. However, I have learned by experience over the years that God makes it clear which needs He wants me to take on.
It can happen as a result of someone in need we come across, as in the story I told you of the woman in Wellington who had a puncture by the side of the road (see Gem 1656). God used that serendipitous moment to not only help her but to lead my life in the direction He desired. I have had other occasions when I have felt the LORD’s prompting to go over and talk to a particular person – at the mall, in the room, along the way. I once spent an entire weekend at a rock music festival paired with someone else and being led by the LORD as to which people to go to talk to next. That my friends turned into such an awesome weekend it was awe inspiring.
It can all happen so simply and yet become so profound. It is just a case of putting your life in God’s hands and allowing Him to take control. It’s about allowing yourself to be inconvenienced, as you will read shortly in something I have clipped for you from Paul Scanlon.
Sometimes those moments of leading turn out to be something way more than you ever imagined you were getting into. But as you start out, just go with the flow and learn to hear His voice and respond accordingly. When you do you will learn the truth of the above verses I have clipped for you. They become life principles and not just another Bible verse. As you learn to follow Him in the little things He will start to speak to you in other ways too. A little over a year ago I had a dream of a particular family of refugees we had met and through the dream I realized that God was asking me to do something about their situation. I had no idea what that meant nor what it involved. But as I have followed Him in the process He has opened up the doors and brought people across my pathway to enable me to do that which He was prompting me to take on. I believe we are close now to seeing the reality of this assignment from God realized. I would never have imagined Tania and I would do something like this and I certainly never imagined what it would entail. But bottom line I am excited to be a part of what God is doing and more importantly what He is accomplishing through me. You see that’s where it is at; it’s about walking with God in such a way that He trusts you to be the answer to the problems He brings across your path. Now you have to admit that is exciting.
I would like to tell you another story I came across related to all this, but I realize that is a foible I have. I am too prone to tell story after story to the point of being excessive. So I will resist the urge and not add the story that came to mind. However I will tell you about Paul Scanlon who has come a number of times to our church in Jakarta and shared his heart. Some years ago Paul shared the essence of his 15 Minute Revolution, which he has written a little book about and made a video clip . As he shared his idea that first time I was thinking, “that’s what I do”. Maybe not in the strict sense of what Paul was talking about but I certainly was intentional in allowing God into my day in whatever way He wanted. To quote from Paul Scanlon himself, Paul’s revolutionary idea is as simple – and as difficult – as being willing to give 15 minutes a day to be inconvenienced in order to help someone. I’m not trying to offer some complex new theology or evangelistic concept. This is more about mobilization than theology. Because we are all selfish by nature, we do not default to helping others. So without a revolution of some kind, that innate selfishness always wins in the end.
The 15 Revolution sets out to reverse this trend, to make us more aware of the people in our immediate space and to provoke us to be the bringers of God’s life to the hurting world on our doorstep.
It is that simple and it is that difficult. If you are willing to consciously give at least 15 minutes a day to be inconvenienced in order to help someone, search for the link and join the revolution!
I believe I have now responded to the statement I love how God uses you wherever you are. I want Him to use me like that. Tell me how it happens. I have told you. Now you know the way to make it happen and to transform your life in the way I think your statement is saying you want to. It’s as easy and as difficult as giving the LORD of the Universe 15 minutes of your time. Just do it once and I think you will find you will do it again and again until it becomes a daily thing or at least a life principle. But also be willing for that 15 minutes to grow into a lifetime of service to the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords. Do you dare to take the challenge? That is what sorts out the men from the boys, the sheep from the goats. The next step is yours.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he takes delight in his way.Psalm 37:23
It is the Lord delighting in your way as you give yourself as a living sacrifice to Him to use, in response to all He has done for you.Ian Vail
Be willing to give 15 minutes a day to be inconvenienced in order to help someone.Paul Scanlon
Follow His voice, not your own, nor the voices of others who would put a guilt trip on you. Just follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit.Ian Vail
I have now told you how you can know God using you to do His bidding and to be His hands, feet and mouthpiece. Now you know; go and do it.Ian Vail