Saturday, July 21, 2007

I desire more. . .

I want God to use me more and more. I started thinking, is there anything that I can do make it more likely that He will use me in the future? What does He look for when He puts together His plan and chooses people to have roles in a work of His?

Why did God choose Noah to build the ark? Did God ask a thousand other men before Noah said yes? I think that unlikely. I don't know for sure, but I think Noah must have had some expertise in wood working. It is surely within God's capacity to teach someone a brand new skill, but I think it more likely in this case anyway, that Noah was familiar with saws, and gouges, and drills and awls before God approached him. So maybe this is Axiom number 1:

1. Have a skill that God needs


If you only have one skill, if the only thing you can do is to knit baby booties, then don't be surprised that God doesn't ask you to build an ark. If you have a dream of one day God using you to build an ark, go to the career center, go sign up for classes at Ivy Tech, enroll in a carpentry apprenticeship program, carry shingles for a roofer, volunteer for Church-in-a-Day, sign up for a Habitat for Humanity work day, call La Casa over in Goshen to see if they need any help in their projects. Develop skills in your life that will expand your usefulness to God.
People fall into two categories in the Bible. They are either doers or doees, people active in God's plan doing a task for Him or they are people who God is filling a need for.

Granted everyone has needs that only God can fulfill, so in a sense we are all doees at times in our lives and there is nothing to be ashamed of in that, but many people never get past that stage of staring at the cruet waiting for an Elijah to come along and fill it with oil.
Staying with Noah, another characteristic that Noah had was that he was willing to do something for the Lord that he had never done before. He wasn't intimidated by the task that God put before him. In the old Bill Cosby skit, in a deep deep voice God asks Noah to build an ark and fill it with pairs of each kind of animal and Noah responds, "You want me to what!!!!" That would be the reaction of most of us.

Sure Noah had carpentry skills, but this was beyond anything he could have imagined on his own. To build a 450 foot long boat. . . it's said to have taken him from between 50 and 100 years, a daunting task to say the least. Don't put handcuffs on God. Axiom number 2:

#2 Be willing to let God come up with the plan, then follow it no matter how impossible it might seem.


When God tells you He needs a boat, don't do a Google search for canoe designs. Let God tell you, show you the scale of His plan. Don't limit God by your fears. Don't limit God by your lack of imagination. Be ready for, be willing for anything that God puts before you.

Genesis 6:22
Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

After Peter came back from his little walk on the water, 11 guys may well have been sitting there wondering, regretting as to why they weren't chosen to get out of the boat, forgetting that it was Peter who spoke up, that it was Peter who was ready and willing to get out of the boat. Peter was an impulsive guy, maybe even rash at times, but it was a rashness, a seeming recklessness based on his faith in God. He was always ready for anything. Noah must have been a similar type of person, not intimidated by the seemingly impossible before him.
I'm sure that there were many men who had the necessary carpentry skills to build God a boat, but God did not need a vast flotilla of canoes. He needed an ark. He needed an ark builder, therefore He asked Noah. Noah had it within him to follow the plan of God and not be intimidated.

Most of our lives are littered with half finished projects. How many of us have. . . name it, bird houses half built, baby blankets half crocheted, cross stitch projects gathering dust, landscaping projects growing weeds, home remodeling projects gathering dust, crafts with missing pieces from being half done for so long, books half written, songs half composed, etc. etc. etc. Lots of dreams, beautiful plans, but the harvest, the fruit is always still to come some day off in the future.

What good would it have done anyone to have had a half-built ark? Noah not only had to be willing to say 'yes' to God when God asked, but he also had to be a man who would keep at the task until it was completed. Axiom number 3:

#3 Be absolutely dependable. Finish what you start. Be there when you say you will. Be true to your word. No excuses. . .Do it!!!


Don't worry. You aren't going to derail God's plan by not finishing a task that He was counting on you to do. He knows your heart ahead of time. There is no record of half-finished arks laying here and there, dotting the landscape all over the region from men who started them, but did not complete them. Our purpose here is to try and structure our lives so that we can be used by God more often and for greater tasks. If you are a person who cannot be depended upon, God will not ask you in the first place.

Genesis 6:22
Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

Follow your word with actions that fulfill your word, even to the point of being ridiculous. If you tell someone that you will be there at noon. You have not kept your word if you arrive at 12:01. Strive to be as absolutely dependable as you can in all your relationships and business. Show God that He can count on you by others being able to count on you. It is the small things by which a man's integrity is measured.

Most everyone gets the big things right. After someone passes on, chatting in the funeral home, it's not often you hear, "Man-o-man was he was an awesome guy. He never robbed his mother or molested his children." I don't desire to have that said about me. I want it said about me, "His word was gold. You could always depend upon him. When he said he would do something, when he said he would be there at a certain time, you knew that he would do what he said." I believe that is pleasing to God. I don't believe that is being legalistic. I don't think it's going to get me into heaven, but I believe it's honorable and righteous to do what you say, to be a dependable person.

Anytime I have been involved in a work of God, His work did not wait for me. I had to be in the right place at the right time. Who knows how many times God wanted to use me for something, but I wasn't willing to be led by His timing.

Three times God has gotten me out of bed in the middle of the night. The most recent was a few weeks ago when I went to the Seven-Eleven on north main street. I can remember that evening getting dressed with a sense of urgency. I was rushing to get my shoes and socks on. I didn't know why, but I knew it was important that I not tarry at all. Luke and I made our two loops around the neighborhood, walking at a normal pace, not racing, but on that second time around I knew I had to get right in the car and go. I didn't tell Jackie I was leaving. I didn't even shut the front door of the house. I knew I had to leave right then. On the way, I felt God told me that I needed to cross the Johnson street dam and go down Beardsley street rather than going directly to the Seven-Eleven from Jackson to Main Street. Going directly there would have saved a couple of minutes and that would have completely ruined the timing of what occurred. It was important for me to follow God's plan exactly.

The time before, this was about three or four years ago or so, God got me up and told me to go to work in the middle of the night. I did as he asked. On the way to Speedgrip, I blocked off State Road 120 with my pickup truck got out and rescued an injured screech owl. By the time I got back in my truck, I had three 18-wheeler trucks waiting for me to get out of the way. . . at 4 a.m. I think you could watch all day and not see three trucks like that pass all in a row. I go that way every day to work and I've never seen three trucks in a row like that, but seeing them then left no doubt in my mind the fate of that little owl if I hadn't been there right on time. . .

Probably a year before that, on another night I felt God call me to get up out of bed in the wee hours and again I went. This time nothing. . . I got to work at around 4 a.m. I don't have to be there until 8 a.m.. I got there at 4 and nothing happened. I've always wondered about that night. I've always speculated, that maybe just by my being on the road when I was, I did something, effected the timing of someone else on the road, thereby preventing an accident or something, but now writing this, this morning I now wonder if maybe I wasn't obedient to God's timing. I wonder if I didn't stay in bed a few minutes after I should have, not being as obedient as I should have been. . . I'm sure that God's plan was successful without me. I'm sure one man cannot derail the plan of God. Maybe it was intended as a lesson, only learned today, but God's plans are very finely tuned as far as timing.

Be very sensitive and obedient to his leading. . .
What a poignant and sorrowful scene. . . What if Noah had decided on his own that he needed, he deserved a little vacation after the building of the ark. . . what if Noah had been somewhere else and not on the ark when the rain started coming down. . . .

Genesis 6:22
Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

The last point in my little essay this morning is we must, in everything we do believe that we are doing the will of God. That should be our only guiding principle for everything.

Here is a verse that Paul wrote:

Romans 14:23
And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Can we reverse this? ~ And he that doubteth not is not damned if he eat, because he eateth of faith: for whatsoever is of faith is not sin.

I don't want to build an entire doctrine on that, but sometimes it is interesting to look at the mirror image of a verse to see where that takes you. Paul's example is especially relevant. Paul/Saul horribly persecuted the early Christians. I don't know Paul's mind, but you know I bet Paul did the things he did believing that he was doing the will of God. I'll bet he didn't do them to be cruel or just to be evil and mean. He believed he was doing the will of God. We may be wrong, but if we err doing something, with full faith at the time, that what we are doing is the right thing, even if it turns out later that we were mistaken, I don't think it will be counted against is as a permanent black mark against us. Here's my last axiom:

#4 Whatever you do, do it in faith.


If you feel you are in a situation, watching something, reading something, listening to something, eating something that is not right, not in the will of God. Stop doing immediately! If you feel like you are supposed to do something, if you feel God wants you to walk around your car three times before you go into the grocery store, whatever it is, if you feel that it is what God wants you to do, then do it!

These are my own musings this morning. Please, I am not pretending to be some expert on these things, but I have a huge hunger to be used by God. That is my passion. I want to do anything that I can to make myself more useful to God. My obedience, my faith, my abilities, my sensitivity. . . everything about me I want to be in tune with what God wants, what God desires for me to be. . . and I write these words to further that goal. . .

I love you my God. . .

Shape me . . . .

Lead me. . . .

Use me. . . . .

Dave Stokely

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