USEFUL TO THE MASTER

USEFUL TO THE MASTER Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Some believers are useful to the Master, to Christ. Others are not as useful. Why is this? It is because they have not cleansed themselves from the seductions of the world, from the moral filthiness of the flesh, or from their personal ambitions. They are not in the moral image of Christ; neither are they at rest in God’s Person and will; neither have they coveted the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit that they might build the Body of Christ. They have wasted what has been given to them, and their end shall be the outer darkness.

USEFUL TO THE MASTER

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (II Timothy 2:20,21)

An elderly man came to me after one of the services and said, "That is the greatest sermon I have ever heard." (I guess he hasn’t heard many sermons.)

Then he went on to tell me he was available for anything God wanted. He was ready to do God’s will.

Nothing came of this. A year or so later he passed away.

His statement may seem to portray a worthy ambition. However, he was of no use to the Lord. He had betrayed God and his family. In no manner was he prepared to perform the needed tasks of the Kingdom.

In order to be useful to the Master we have to prepare ourselves.

It may seem to us that we can get ready and serve the Lord any time we choose. This is not the case.

Sometimes an individual will repent and come to the Lord when he is elderly, after having rejected Christ for most of his lifetime. It is not always possible to repent, however. Repentance is a gift. We can’t live according to our sinful nature for many years, and then expect the Lord will receive us graciously and appoint us to a place of honor in His Kingdom

Americans are so busy that many of them put off into the future a life of service to the Lord. Again, this is not always possible. We may find that when we are ready the Lord is not.

It is absolutely true that when someone comes to Christ, Christ will not turn him or her aside. What we may not realize, however, is that it is the Father who chooses who is to come to Christ. If God decides we have shown ourselves to be unworthy of His Kingdom He may not give us the time, strength, or desire to come to Christ. Salvation always is of the Lord! It is God who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

I think we often forget we are dealing with a king, and also a businessman. Jesus is not some exalted religious icon far removed from our daily affairs. He is very much involved in the lives of the believers. He walks among the golden lampstands, His churches. He is looking for interest on His investment.

When I awakened this morning, the phrase "fit for the Master’s use" kept going through my mind. I thought sure this was a passage in one of the Timothys. But it isn’t, at least not in the translations I use.

The King James says "meet," not "fit"—"meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work." The New International Version has "useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work."

So where I got "fit for the Master’s use" I have no idea. I think the main idea is to be prepared to do whatever Christ has need of.

Then two E-mails came in, one from a local person and another from a distant state. They both were stating Christ is ready to move and His people are not prepared, nor are they preparing themselves. One brother had a vision, and the other had a strong impression.

One of the E-mails announced that we now are in the time of the ten virgins. (I have suggested this in some of my writings.) Some of the believers have maintained a supply of the Life of Christ in them and are ready to move on with the Lord. Others are foolish and careless. The door will be shut in their face. They will not be able in the future to overcome the sins they are not diligently gaining the victory over today.

I think it remarkable that I should awaken with this phrase (fit for the Master’s use), and then a hour or so later have two E-mails come from brothers who are not in contact with one another

There is no doubt in my mind that Christ is ready to perform an awesome work in our country, and numerous believers are involved with their own secular and church programs and are not prepared to be of use to the Master.

How do we prepare ourselves so we are of use to the Master?

In America the problem is largely one of time. There are only so many minutes in the day. If we allow it to, the American culture will consume every waking minute.

There are so many fascinating and constructive enterprises available to American people. There are all sorts of professions one can enter. There is the expanding field of electronic communication. There are opportunities for higher education. There are goods and services that can be purchased. And then there are all sorts of entertainment, from professional sports to television and the Internet.

All of these activities require time for their pursuit and development. But few or none of these prepare us for the Master’s use.

Notice our lead verse:

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (II Timothy 2:20,21)

In order to be of use to the Master we have to cleanse ourselves from that which is not noble, that is, from the Antichrist spirit of the world, from the lusts of our flesh and soul, and from our personal ambition.

Actually, Romans 12:12 says the same thing. We must present our body a living sacrifice. We must not be conformed to the world spirit but be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

What this means to us in America is that we cannot participate fully in the available opportunities of our culture. We are in the world but not of it. We participate only as it is necessary for the ordinary conduct of life.

I can’t tell anyone what he or she should or should not do. One must make up his own mind. The idea is that preparing ourselves to be of use to Christ requires time—time that our culture is demanding for its pursuit.

We need to set aside time each day to pray and meditate in the Scriptures. To many believers in America this is impossible because they are holding down two jobs. If they do not work at two jobs they do not have enough income to support their family. Or, the husband and wife work and leave the young children with baby sitters.

This is our problem. In the area where we live an apartment rents for one thousand dollars a month. How can a young family afford to pay this much rent?

So the struggle for very existence consumes most of our time.

Then there is the abundance of opportunities, and also of entertainment. It is nearly impossible in America to prepare ourselves to be of use to the Master because of the demands on our time.

It is nearly impossible, but not impossible. The believer who is willing to pray earnestly to the Lord for the desire, time, strength and opportunity to seek the Lord will have his prayer answered. Christ has needs, and He will help any Christian who wants to be prepared to be of use in establishing the Kingdom of God.

The believer who wants to be useful to Christ must decide that his or her calling as a saint is the most important factor of his or her life. No matter how advanced his profession may be, such as a brain surgeon, if he is called to be a saint his first priority in life is to seek the mind of the Lord for his role in serving Christ, building the Kingdom of God, building the Body of Christ. There are enormous needs in the present hour, and the service of every saint is needed.

The Bible commands us to earnestly desire the gifts and ministries of the Spirit. First, we must believe God has something for us to do, some role to play in fulfilling the needs of the Kingdom. Second, we must take the time to seek God until we find out what our place in the Body of Christ is, and then look to Christ every day to make sure we are not burying our talent.

I myself have a doctorate of education from a distinguished university. There is no profession more challenging, more demanding of one’s time, than serving as a teacher or administrator in the public-school system. While I was active in the profession I continued to set aside time each day for the Lord, though it meant rising early in the morning.

After a number of years I felt impressed to write what the Spirit of God was revealing to me. I have been writing ever since, for more than thirty-five years.

Even though I was teaching in an elementary school, and later became a principal, I continued to wait on the Lord.

Finally the Lord spoke to Audrey and me that we should launch into full-time work in the ministry. We were ready. We were prepared. We were prayed-up.

We drew out what money we had in the retirement system, losing many thousands of dollars in the process, and moved to another city. There, in a somewhat miraculous manner, we were installed as pastors of a church that recently had been closed because a dwindling membership.

We have been at the same church ever since, and have lacked nothing.

The point is, we kept ourselves prepared, even though I was involved in a demanding position and on my way to becoming a superintendent of schools, for which I have the necessary educational credentials.

There are times that God intervenes in someone’s life, as God did in the life of the Apostle Paul. But this sort of intervention is rare. For most of us, God requires that we hold ourselves in readiness for many years, as I did, until God’s time comes.

Notice the man to whom Paul was sent after his terrific experience with Christ.

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered. The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying." (Acts 9:10,11)

Ananias was a disciple. He was able to hear the Lord and obey, even though the Lord was sending him to pray for someone who had been putting Christians in prison. Ananias could have been placing himself in great danger.

Ananias was useful to the Master. He was prepared for any good work to which he was assigned by the Lord.

A craftsman likes to keep his tools in a certain place. When he needs a particular tool he does not want to go looking here and there. He wants to know just where the tool is, and he wants it clean and oiled, ready to be used.

The same is true of a surgeon who expects the nurse to instantly hand him the required surgical instrument.

This is the way it is in the Kingdom of God. We are as tools that the Lord uses. He wants us in the proper place, cleaned, oiled we might say, and ready at a moment’s notice.

It is relatively easy to keep ones self prayed-up and ready to move with God when a person is being used quite a bit in the ministry.

But when many years go by, and there is no sign the Lord is interested in us, or He has told us what we are called to do and yet there is no opening, it is then we prove our faithfulness. We must wait on the Lord each day as though we were being used as a mighty apostle, and yet not see any sign that God is interested in what we do.

It is during those boring years between the vision and the fulfillment of the vision that the saints are made.

Christ is building His Church, although from the appearance of things you would think religious leaders were accomplishing the work. The Lord knows exactly where He wants each one of us. He wants us in our place round about the camp, as it were. Then, when He needs us, when He reaches out for that special tool, He wants us ready to be used right then.

So we must hold firmly to the concept that we are saints, that we are not of the world just as Christ is not of the world, and that we are members of His Body. This is our role in existence. Because of this it is absolutely necessary that at some point each day we set aside time to listen to Christ, and to worship Him and let Him know of our needs and problems.

I am not speaking of being saved, or of going to Heaven or Hell. Rather I am referring to preparing ourselves to be of use to the Master. This we have been commanded to do.

So our great problem in America is that of time and energy. The demands of the American culture are such that we have no time or strength left to seek the Lord. As I said, if we will ask the Lord He will lead us in such a manner that we will have the time and the strength to seek His Presence each day.

We must learn to redeem the time. We must ask ourselves during the day: "Is what I am doing now, or planning to do, the best possible use of my time and the Lord’s time?"

There are people who claim they do not have the time or strength to seek the Lord as they should. Yet they may spend hours watching the television, supposing they need the rest.

If they would spend that same time in prayer they would discover they are refreshed, guided, and strengthened, while watching the television only postpones the problems they must face upon rising the next morning.

There are many aspects of the American culture that are not sinful of themselves, but neither do they move the saint toward the stature of the fullness of Christ.

One may ask: "Is it harmful to watch a Walt Disney production on television?

The answer is: "It may not be harmful in and of itself. But is this how Christ wants you to spend this hour? Are you ready to be of use to Him?"

The question is, is what you are doing of benefit to Christ? Until you adopt this frame of mind you never will be a victorious saint.

Someone raised the question of a Christian drinking one beer, or one glass of wine. Is this proper for the Lord’s disciple?

The answer is: "One mug of beer of one glass of wine is not sinful of itself. But the fervent disciple who is preparing himself or herself to be of use to the Master does not take anything into his or her body that detracts from perfect concentration on the Lord’s will. And beer and wine do not help us focus on the Lord.

We are as Nazirites in this respect. We cannot do everything the people of the world do. It is difficult sometimes for Christian children and young people to accept this. The Lord has commanded us to be holy as He is holy. The Israelites could drink wine. But the Nazirites could not drink or eat anything from the vine—not even raisins!

Christ requires of His disciples that they experience daily crucifixion and resurrection until they are living by His Life.

For us, it is not whether one thing or another is sinful, it is whether it is the very best service to Christ at the moment. We live for Christ, not planning how we

can enjoy ourselves in the world but how we best can be of service to the Master.

The relationship of Eve to Adam is the same as the relationship of the Church to Christ.

Eve was created to be a helper suitable for Adam.

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18)

Eve was not free to run about the garden and do as she pleased. She was created to help Adam in whatever tasks God assigned to him. Instead she began to converse with Satan. If instead of responding to Satan Eve had referred him to her husband, the problem might have been avoided.

God has called each Christian to help Christ perform the tasks the Father has assigned to Him. We are not free to converse with the spirit of the world, with Satan. We are to be a people zealous of good works, uniquely set apart to Christ for His purposes. We always are to refer Satan to Christ.

If we have a goal in life, whether it be in the realm of a profession, or of education, or business, or law, or politics, or the military, or to get a better job, or be a housewife, or a mother, there are steps we have to take to prepare ourselves.

The higher the goal we set for ourselves, such as to win a gold medal in the games, the more strenuously we have to apply ourselves to the necessary steps of preparation.

The goal of each Christian is to be in the moral image of Christ and to be in untroubled rest in the Person and will of God. We are to come to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ. We are to serve for eternity as the chariot of God, as a living stone in His eternal temple. We are to sit with Christ on His throne, the highest throne of the universe. We are called to be filled with all the fullness of God.

The exalted "Man" of the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel is the Lord Jesus Christ. We have been called to this image, to be like Him in every respect, although He Himself remains our Lord.

Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire,  and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. (Ezekiel 1:26)

This is the goal set before us in the New Testament. It is staggering. We are called to be in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. It may take us a few billion years to become like Christ in inward and outward image, but God has spoken. Therefore it shall come to pass just as God has stated.

To be a helper suited to Christ we are going to have to do a better job than Eve did. She brought misery and shame to her husband. We are to bring strength, blessing, and joy to the Lord Jesus.

The Father assigns the roles and tasks of the Kingdom to the Lord Jesus. Jesus needs a helper who will be useful to Him in the performance of these tasks.

At the present time the Lord is ready to build His Body as never before, and also to raise up an army. These are tasks assigned to Him by the Father.

In order to help the Lord with these tasks we have to be to prepared in season and out of season to respond completely to all He is asking of us.

The Lord does not want to have to explain to us what He is doing or why He is requesting a certain action from us. He doesn’t want to have to plow through all of our plans and ambitions in order to get our attention. He doesn’t want to listen to our complaining or put up with our self-pity. He wants us to be ready to do whatever He desires, and to do it cheerfully and diligently without any sort of reward for doing so.

The current stress on giving to the Lord so the Lord will give back to us is an abomination. We are to serve the Lord without thought of reward. We serve Him because it is the right thing to do. He died for us. Now we are to set aside our life for Him.

There is an interesting story in the Old Testament. David was thirsty. He exclaimed that he would like a drink from a well that was guarded by the Philistines.

Three of David’s warriors broke through the ranks of the Philistines and brought back some water to David.

David poured the water on the ground because he felt guilty for putting the lives of his soldiers in jeopardy.

David longed for water and said, "Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!" So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD. "God forbid that I should do this!" he said. "Should I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives?" Because they risked their lives to bring it back, David would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty men. (I Chronicles 11:17-19)

How do you think the three mighty men felt when they saw they had risked their lives for nothing?

This is what we must be prepared for. When we do our best serving the Lord, and He doesn’t seem to use what we have offered, we are not to be dismayed. He is God. He is to be adored. He is free to do as He will, and our part is to worship Him and be sternly obedient.

It reminds us of the young men who went to minister to the Auca Indians. After all their preparations they were slain almost immediately. They never had a chance to bring Christ to the natives.

Does God know what He is doing? Indeed He does.

Do we always know why Christ makes the demands on us that He does?

Many times we do not understand what is taking place. We do not understand God, but we trust Him, as Mother Basilea says.

We are to spend our lives preparing to do the will of Christ. We are to wait on the Lord, worshiping, praying, making intercession, confessing our sins and turning away from them, cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

We are not to become involved in the world system, except as necessary for our own support and those who depend on us.

We are to present our body a living sacrifice so we may prove the will of God for our life.

We are to desire fervently the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit that we may assist in the work of building the Body of Christ.

We never are to forget that we have been called to be a saint, a holy one. Once someone is called to be a saint, he or she has no other calling. No matter highly placed the person may be in the world economy, the calling as a saint must assume the very highest priority.

Having served as a pastor for many years, I often have been saddened by the lack of diligence on the part of the some of the believers. They are attempting to combine the American way of life and their service to Christ. It cannot be done.

They work hard, hoping the day will come when they can retire and spend their days puttering around the house of traveling about in a vacation vehicle, seeing different parts of the United States. I know they are going to lose part or all of the inheritance to which they have been called.

There is nothing wrong with retiring after a certain number of years working for a company. But then the free time should be spent diligently serving the Lord in some area of His Kingdom.

As long as we breathe the air on this planet we are to be serving Christ. There never is a time when we retire from Christ, from preparing ourselves so we may be useful to the Master. As the Apostle Paul instructed, we always are to be forgetting what is behind. We are to be pressing, pressing, pressing toward life lived in the resurrection and in the sufferings of Christ.

If we decide that we have worked long and hard, and now deserve a rest, and settle down to working around the house, watching television, playing with the grandchildren, we are inviting disaster upon ourselves. Christ never will accept this concept of retirement. It is an American concept, not a Kingdom concept.

We Americans are a privileged people, along with other wealthy Western nations. It is easy for us to forget that millions of people in the world live on the edge of starvation, having practically none of the comforts we take for granted.

We have medical care, a variety of food, transportation, housing, educational opportunities, and just about everything else people could desire. In other parts of the world there is not enough food or water, transportation is usually by foot or bicycle, houses are huts (if there is a hut), and few or no educational opportunities. Medical, dental, and vision care are almost nonexistent.

In addition to this, we have access to all sorts of religious assemblings, to several translations of the Bible, to Christian teaching and worship. While we revel in Spirit-filled praise, there are Christian congregations that never have heard even of raising their hands in praise.

We have it all in America, and we are responsible to share what we have. To whom much has been given, from him shall much be required. This is an inviolable law of the Kingdom of God.

You and I cannot feed all the hungry children of the world. We wish we could. We cannot clothe all the naked. We cannot bring the blessings of teaching and of worship to every nation. We cannot provide medical and dental care to all the suffering.

But there is one thing each Christian must do, and if he or she does not do it there are severe consequences. We must diligently prepare ourselves at all times so we are instantly useful to the Master. Even though we are in the land of abundance, we are to remember always that Christ is concerned about every single human being on the earth. Christ weeps with those who weep. He suffers hunger with those who are hungry. There is not a mother holding a starving child that is not bringing grief to the heart of God.

If we, who have so much, do not show our gratitude by serving the Lord with all of our might, we will hear in that Day: "I entrusted you with the opportunity to prepare yourself to serve Me. I expected that you would do all in your power to keep yourself in the place where I could use you to perform the work of the Father. Instead you lived to yourself, making sure that your desires were met.

"You did not really care that much of the world is without the knowledge of the Kingdom of God. You did not seek the gifts of the Spirit that you might contribute to the building of My Body, the Body of Christ that one day will bring justice to the people of the world

"You planned on working for a season and then spending your time on your own pursuits, enjoying your home and your family while so much of the world is in agony.

"You were given the knowledge of the Kingdom of God as well as every material advantage.

"You repaid My investment in you by concentrating on your selfish desires. You did not come out of the world and prepare yourself to be useful to Me—after I gave My life for you on the cross.

"You are not worthy of the Kingdom of God.

"The poor that you despised will enter with joy into My Kingdom, for that is My way.

"You have been of little use to Me.

"Depart from Me into the outer darkness, for that is where lazy, disobedient servants belong."

With this prospect in mind I think we are wise if we make certain we are doing the best we can every day to prepare ourselves to be useful to the Master.