Crossways Concepts

Because it is all about the cross...

Insights from the scripture as lead by the Holy Spirit

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Service to God

From time-to-time conversations turn to “who do you think is the most inspiring character in the Bible?”  My answer to this question may be pretty startling, because my choice does not happen to be human.  I have always been inspired by Balaam's donkey.

    But God was incensed that Balaam was going, and the Angel of the LORD took His stand on the path to oppose him. Balaam was riding his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD standing on the path with a drawn sword in His hand, she turned off the path and went into the field. So Balaam hit her to return her to the path. Then the Angel of the LORD stood in a narrow passage between the vineyards, with a stone wall on either side. The donkey saw the Angel of the LORD and pressed herself against the wall, squeezing Balaam's foot against it. So he hit her once again. The Angel of the LORD went ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn to the right or the left. When the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, she crouched down under Balaam. So he became furious and beat the donkey with his stick.
    Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she asked Balaam, "What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?"
   Balaam answered the donkey, "You made me look like a fool. If I had a sword in my hand, I'd kill you now!"
   But the donkey said, "Am I not the donkey you've ridden all your life until today? Have I ever treated you this way before?"
   "No," he replied.
   Then the LORD opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the path with a drawn sword in His hand. Balaam knelt and bowed with his face to the ground. (Numbers 22:22-31)

So what is so inspiring about this donkey?  She came without any special talents, but the Lord was able to use her to further God's perfect plan.  God didn't expect her to be a genius.  God didn't need her to be a wonderful speaker.  God didn't require her to be talented.  It didn't matter that she hadn't attended seminary and didn't have a PhD.  God just used her the way that He had created her to be used.  

The truly inspiring part of this story is if God can use a donkey, then he can even use me, or you, or anybody that makes themselves available.

There is nothing more fulfilling than being used by God.  While we call Him Lord or King, we seem to have forgotten that these terms imply that we must be a servant.  For us to be a servant, we must serve.  Inside our churches is a lot of talk about service, but in many cases this just a call for volunteers in the church.  This service in the church may or may not be service to God.

Now certainly God can call us to service within the church, but we must remember who we need to be serving.  If we are putting in 30 hours a week working in the church, does not mean that we are fulfilling God's plan for our lives.  Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His making, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”  God has a unique plan for each of us.  We are not to be cookie-cutter Christians.  God has created and equipped each of us for the exact plan He has for us.

It is mind-boggling enough that the creator of the universe, the sovereign, perfect, almighty God would be able to make any use of any flawed human at all, but it is even more incredible that He would have a specific plan for each person.  This plan starts with where you are today, even if you have a past that is full of mistakes and bad turns, the plan still is available from where you are.

Although God's plan is like a map that has your entire life planned out,  His navigation rarely consists of providing us with a full map.  His navigation usually is more on the order of a whispered instruction to “turn right here.”  Regrettably, His instructions are frequently easy to miss or even to ignore.

However, when we consider that He has good works that have been prepared specifically for us, this puts a whole new meaning to obedience.  For us to be considered obedient to our Master, we must be doing what He wants.  This includes being where He wants us, doing what He wants us to be doing, when He wants us to be doing it.  Being obedient to His plan isn't covered by simply spending an hour on Sunday morning.  To be obedient to His plan, we must be open, listening and available, every day.

As you look through the Bible, you can see some folks that were sent to do things that seemed pretty crazy to them.  There have been a good number of folks from the Bible that tried to persuade God that He must have made a mistake (Ha!).  But then, He is God, with an eternal perspective and we are just human, we can't really expect Him to plan things the same way we would.  He has a different viewpoint, different purposes and a heaping load of additional wisdom beyond ours.

We are called to be obedient servants.  We need to serve Him as He calls us to serve.  We need to be, “a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:11)  God's call isn't just for those with special talents, education and skills.  Remember Balaam's donkey, what she lacked (voice) was provided by God.  Being used by God is an opportunity that is open to everybody.

So what is God calling you to?  To determine where He wants you, only requires listening and trust.  

Do you believe that He is your King, Master and Lord?  Then you must be His servant.

Are you afraid of what He might ask you to do?  Rest assured that what He asks for, He provides for.  Did He tell the donkey to speak and then not give her a voice? Of course not.  Beyond that, His work is far more important than anything else we might be doing.  The three sentences the Lord gave the donkey to speak may well have changed the course of history, it was doing His will, working for His eternal kingdom.  What could ever be more important?

The old hymn says we should “trust and obey.”  To truly obey the Lord does require trust, but there is none that is as trustworthy as Him.

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Lexington, Ky