Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King

B. Childress
Apr 02 2013

In Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself…and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.  
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ; certain that God is appealing through us.
 (II Corinthians 5:19-20)


I have had the privilege of ministering in Africa on a number of occasions, but one trip was particularly meaningful.  While
there, I met a wonderful African-American missionary who told me with deep emotion about the millions of AIDS orphans
across Africa and their heartbreaking suffering.  As I prepared to return home, this missionary told me he was burdened
that African-American churches in North America take on the challenge of helping those in Africa who were suffering and
in need.

I was deeply moved by what He shared and promised if there were any way I could help, I would.  But, added, I had not
spoken in many African-American churches, and I didn’t have a large platform from which to urge them to join the work in
Africa.  It seemed a bit strange God would place a burden such as this on me when it lay beyond my expertise or sphere
of influence.  So I determined to pray and watch to see what God revealed next.  

I had not been home two full days when my telephone rang.  The call came from a pastor of one of the largest African-
American churches in the United States.  He explained that his church was hosting a national gathering of African-
American church leaders, and he wanted me to speak to them.  I instantly recognized I had just been handed my next set
of divine instructions!

Not long after that, I received another unusual invitation.  This time it was to address a group of African ambassadors at
the United Nations.  After I spoke to them about being spiritual leaders in their homelands, many of them gave me their
business cards and asked when I could come and visit their nations and respective presidents.  Since then, God has
steadily revealed to me His great love for the people of Africa and especially for the millions who suffer there daily.  As I
responded to God’s invitation through that one missionary, I had no idea God had so much He intended to do through
me.  Every invitation from God has limitless possibilities because of Him “who is able to do above and beyond all that we
ask or think – according to the power that works in you” (Ephesians 3:20).


The Bible reveals that God has always been involved in the world to reconcile people to Himself.  He is in the center of
all that takes place.  When we read the Bible, we read how God has accomplished this divine work in our world.  We see
that He always takes the initiative to involve His people in His activity.

When God wanted to save people from a severe famine, He helped the young man Joseph understand that a drought
was coming.  When God wanted to save His people from a widespread massacre, He raised up a young woman, Esther,
to the royal throne.  When He was preparing to send the Messiah into the world, God first commissioned John the Baptist
to prepare the way.  As Jesus lay His life down for the sins of humanity, the Father prompted a businessman, Joseph of
Arimathea, to make his own tomb available for Jesus’ body.  Whenever God was about to accomplish a new work, He
invited people to join Him in His activity.


As God’s obedient child, you are in a love relationship with Him.  In His timing, He will show you where He is working so
you can join Him.  Don’t be in a hurry to be constantly engaged in activities for God.  He may spend years preparing
your character or developing your love relationship with Him before He gives you a large assignment.  Don’t get
discouraged if the task or “call” does not come immediately.  Remain faithful in what He has told you to do, no matter
how small or seemingly insignificant it may appear.  God knows what He is doing.  Focus on deepening your communion
with God, and out of that fellowship will inevitably flow effective service for God.

Jesus was twelve when He went about the Father’s business in the temple.  Yet, He was thirty before He began the
public ministry God had prepared Him for.  The Son of God spent several years as a carpenter, waiting until the Father
was ready for Jesus to begin His public ministry.

In this process of knowing and doing God’s will, you may ask: “Why doesn’t God give me a big assignment?”  Be patient
and learn to trust Him.  God will first build some basic foundations into your life before He gives you a larger role in
service to Him.


Have you ever said something like, “Lord, if You will just tell me what you want me to do, I will serve You to the best of my
ability”?  If God
were to put you in that kind of assignment, could He trust you to handle it?  Are you ready to go to the
next level of faith in God?

On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter said to the Lord, “I’m ready to go with You both to prison and to death!”  In
response, Jesus warned him, “The rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know Me” (Luke 22:33-
34).  God also knows the exact limits of
your faith.  He knows what you can handle.

Our own hearts can deceive us (see Jeremiah 17:9).  We can often have a higher estimate of our faithfulness and trust
in God than we should.  God is never fooled.  He always matches His assignments with our character and faith in Him.  
So trust Him.  Don’t insist that God put you in a position you think you should have.  Don’t strive to gain a position you
think you deserve or can handle.  That could lead to your ruin.  You might inadvertently manipulate yourself right into a
position or responsibility that is beyond what your character can manage.  Rather, trust Him and obey whole heartedly
where He has put you, and watch to see where He leads you next.

Remember: God is far more interested in accomplishing His kingdom purposes than you are.  He will move you into
every assignment He knows you are ready to take on.  Let God orient you to Himself.  The servant does not tell the
Master what kind of position he or she wants.  Servants wait on the Master for whatever instructions they may be given.  
So be patient and wait.

Waiting on the Lord should not be an idle time for you.  Let God use times of waiting to mold and shape your character.  
Let Him purify your life and make you into a clean vessel for His service.

As you obey Him, God will prepare you for the assignment that is just right for you.  Any responsibility that comes from
the Maker of the universe is important.  Do not use human standards to measure the significance or value of your
assignment.  Whatever mission God gives, do it with all your heart.


To clarify how God invites us to be involved with Him, let’s review Jesus’ example from John 5:17, 19-20 (see chapter 6).  
“My Father is still working, and I am working also…I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only
what He sees the Father doing.  For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way.  For
the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He is doing, and He will show Him greater works than these so that
you will be amazed.”

Pay attention to these principles modeled by Jesus:

  • The Father has been working right up until now.

  • Now God has Me working.

  • I do nothing on My own initiative.

  • I watch to see what the Father is doing.

  • I do what I see the Father is already doing.

  • The Father loves Me.

  • He shows Me everything that He is doing.

God has been active in our world from the beginning, and He is still working.  Jesus announced that He had come, not to
do His own will, but the will of the Father who had sent Him (see John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; 8:29; 17:4).  To know the Father’s
will, Jesus watched to see what the Father was doing.  Then Jesus joined Him and did the same work.

The Father loved the Son and took the initiative to reveal to Jesus what He (the Father) was doing or was about to do.  
The Son kept watching for the Father’s activity around Him so He could unite His life with the Father and His work.


For Jesus, the revelation of where the Father was working was His invitation to join in that activity.  When you see the
Father accomplishing His purposes around you, that is your invitation to adjust your life to Him and join Him in that work.

Elisha’s Servant.  Is it possible for God to be active around you and you not recognize it?  Yes.  Elisha and his servant
were in the city of Dothan, which was surrounded by an enemy army that was intent on capturing them.  The servant was
terrified, but Elisha remained calm.  “Then Elisha prayed, ‘LORD, please open his eyes and let him see.’  So the LORD
opened the servant’s eyes.  He looked and saw that the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire all
around Elisha” (II Kings 6:17).  Only when the Lord opened the servant’s eyes did he see God’s activity all around him.  
God had gathered a great host of His heavenly forces in that location and yet the servant was unaware of the divine
activity that was occurring dramatically all around him.

Jerusalem’s Leaders.  Jesus wept over Jerusalem and its leaders as He prophesied the horrific destruction that would
occur in A.D. 70.  Jesus declared, “If you knew this day what would bring peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes”
(Luke 19:42).  God was in their midst performing amazing signs and miracles, yet His own people were oblivious to the
Father’s work.  They had not developed their love relationship with the Father, even though they had been diligent
students of Scripture.  Now, with the Son of God Himself among them, they could not see that God had come to them.  In
fact, they were so out of touch with God that they actually put to death the very Messiah they had been looking for all
their lives.

Jesus condemned many of the religious leaders of His day for missing the most important part of life – a love relationship
with God.  He said to them, “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they
testify about Me.  And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

Two factors are important if you are going to recognize God’s activity around you:

  • You must be living in an intimate love relationship with God.

  • God must open your spiritual eyes so you can see what He is doing.  Unless God allows you to see where He is
    active, you will not recognize what God is doing even though He may be working mightily all around you.


When some people want to start a new church, they begin by surveying the demographics of the target community.  
Then they apply human logic to decide where the most promising and productive places might be.  By now, you know
that I would take a different approach, and I have seen repeatedly that what makes sense to people is not necessarily
what God has on His agenda.

The church of which I was the pastor in Saskatoon sensed that God wanted us to start new churches across Western
Canada.  Since there were hundreds of communities that had no evangelical church, we first tried to find out what God
was already doing in the towns and cities around us.  We believed He would show us where He was at work, and that
revelation would be our invitation to join Him.  We began praying and watching how God would answer.

Allan was a small town forty miles from Saskatoon, and one of our members felt led that our church should conduct a
Vacation Bible School for the children in Allan.  So we said, “Let’s find out if God is at work there.”  We conducted the
VBS, and at the end of the week, we hosted a “parents’ night.”  We told the group, “We believe God may want us to
establish a church in this town.  If any of you would like to begin a regular Bible study group and become part of a new
church, would you come and talk with one of us?

An older lady came from the back of the hall, weeping.  She said, “I have prayed for thirty years that there would be a
church in this town, and you are the first people to respond.”

From behind her came an elderly man known as “T.V. George” (he was a TV repairman).  He, too, was deeply moved.  
Through tears, he explained, “For years I was active in a church.  Then I became addicted to alcohol.  Four-and-a-half
years ago I came back to the Lord.  I promised God then that I would pray every day until God brought a church to our
town.  You are the answer to my prayers.”

We didn’t have to take a survey.  God had just shown us where He was at work!  And that was our invitation to join Him.  
We went back and joyfully shared with our church what God was doing.  The congregation immediately voted to start a
new church in Allan.  That congregation has now sponsored several mission churches of its own.

There may have been times when God has given you opportunities to join Him by revealing where He’s at work.  But
perhaps when you saw the evidence of His activity, you failed to identify it as God’s work.  You say to yourself, “Well, I
don’t know if God wants me to get involved here or not.  I had better pray about it.”  By the time you pray, the opportunity
to join God may pass.  On the other hand, a tender, sensitive heart, prepared through a love relationship with the
Father, will be ready to respond to God at the slightest prompting.


If you are going to join God, you obviously need to know where He is working.  Scripture tells us there are some things
only God can do.  So when you learn to identify these things and when you see them happening around you, you will
immediately recognize God’s activity.

The Bible declares that no one can come to Christ unless the Father draws him (see John 6:44).  People will not seek
God or pursue spiritual matters unless the Spirit of God is at work in their lives.  Suppose a neighbor, a colleague, or
one of your children begins to inquire about spiritual issues.  You do not have to question whether God is drawing that
individual.  He is the only One who can do that.  If they’re asking, God is at work.

Many people who have applied this understanding to their witnessing have found great freedom.  They pray and watch
to see how God is working in the lives of others.  When they see or hear someone seeking God, they recognize this as
their invitation to bear witness to the God they know and serve.  We do not have to pressure or manipulate people into a
discussion about Christ or a decision for Christ.  We cannot assume the role of the Holy Spirit.  However, when we
discern that the Spirit is working in someone, we can confidently share our faith because we know the Holy Spirit has
gone before us.


I have known many a Christian who was deeply concerned because a husband or wife is an unbeliever.  As a result, the
believer would continually speak to his or her partner about the need for God.  However, this persistence at times
actually frustrated the nonbeliever and drove the spouse further from God.  When the Christians come to me and
tearfully share that they have done all they know to do but the mate seems more resistant than ever, I suggest they
might be attempting to do what only the Holy Spirit can do.  “Instead of trying to convict your spouse of sin,” I say, “pray
for your spouse daily and then watch to see when the Holy Spirit prepares him or her for a spiritual conversation.”

Invariably, once the Christians back away from browbeating the spouse into a decision for Christ and instead began
watching to see how God draws the partner to Himself, everything changes.  Suddenly, the nonbelieving spouse will one
day declare he or she wants to go to church, or the person will begin reading the Bible or a Christian book.  When
Christians watch to see where the Holy Spirit is working – even in an unbelieving spouse! – they are often surprised to
see how God has gently but persistently been working toward the spouse’s salvation.

The following Scriptures describe how the Holy Spirit works in our lives:

  • “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another
    Counselor to be with you forever.  He is the Spirit of truth.  The world in unable to receive Him because it doesn’t
    see Him or know Him.  But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.” (John 14:15-17)

  • “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit – the Father will send Him in My name – will teach you all things and remind you
    of everything I have told you.” (John 14:26)

  • “When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.” (John 16:8)

When you are born again, you enter a love relationship with Jesus Christ – God Himself.  At that point the Counselor, the
Spirit of truth, takes up residence in your life.  He is always present to teach you.  The Holy Spirit also convicts you of
guilt regarding sin.  He convicts the world of righteousness and judgment.

Here is a summary of some things only God can do:

  • God draws people to Himself.

  • God causes people to seek after Him.

  • God reveals spiritual truth.

  • God convicts the world of guilt regarding sin.

  • God convicts the world of righteousness.

  • God convicts the world of judgment.


God is at work when you see someone coming to Christ, asking about spiritual matters, beginning to understand spiritual
truth, experiencing conviction of sin, being convinced of the righteousness of Christ or of God’s judgment.  When I was
speaking in a series of meetings, Bill, a plant manager, said, “You know, I have not been looking on the job to see the
activity of God.”  He mentioned Christian people in key positions in his plant, and he wondered if God had placed them in
those jobs for a purpose.  He decided to gather his believing coworkers together and suggest, “Let’s see if God wants to
reach our unbelieving colleagues in this plant through us.”

Does that sound like something God might want to do?  Yes!  Your job is not merely a place to earn a paycheck.  It is an
arena in which God wants to use you to influence others for the kingdom.  Suppose you were in Bill’s place and planning
to bring these Christians together.  How would you proceed?

    1.  Start by praying.  Only the Father knows what He has purposed for the people in your workplace, and He
    knows the best way to accomplish His will there.  He knows why He brought these particular Christians together
    and put them in their current positions.  If God impresses on these Christians that they need to reach out to their
    colleagues, then this is clear evidence God is at work.  After you pray, watch to see what God does next.  Take
    note of what people are saying when they approach you.

    2.  Make the connection.  Suppose someone in the plant approaches a Christian employee and says, “My family
    is really having a tough time financially.” Or, “I am having a really difficult time with my teenager.”  You have just
    prayed, “Oh God, show me where You are at work.”  Make the connection between your prayer and what happens
    next.  If you do not pay attention to what follows your prayer, you may miss God’s answer.

    3.  Ask questions.  Ask the kind of probing questions that will reveal what is happening in people’s lives.  Don’t
    merely chat about trivial matters with your friends and colleagues.  Make inquiries of people who cross your path
    to find out what God is doing in their lives.  Without being intrusive or aggressive, you can ask questions such as:

  • What’s been happening in your life lately?

  • What’s the greatest challenge in your life right now?

  • What’s the most significant thing happening in your life right now?

  • You sound like you’re carrying a heavy load.  Is there any way I can help?

  • How can I pray for you?

    4.  Listen attentively.  Suppose the person responds, “I’m not much of a churchgoer, but lately with this problem
    with my teenager, I sure have been thinking about God.”  Or, “When I was a kid, I used to go to Sunday school.  
    My parents made me go.  I got away from it, but the financial problems I am facing have really caused me to think
    about God lately.”  Those statements reveal God at work in the person’s life.  He may be drawing the person to
    Himself, causing him or her to seek God or be convicted of sin.

    5.  Be prepared to respond.  If someone confides a personal need, pray for that person and ask God how you
    might minister practically in response.  Be ready to share clearly how Christ’s presence has made a difference in
    your life and how Christ is ready to enter their life and change them as well.

To summarize:  When you want to know what God is doing around you, pray.  Watch to see what happens next.  Make
the connection between your prayer and ensuing events.  Ask questions and listen attentively as people share their
concerns.  Be ready to make whatever adjustments are required to join God in what He is doing.


One Sunday, a visitor named Ben read a note at the bottom of our church bulletin: “Pray for our mission in Kyle; pray for
our mission in Prince Albert; pray for our mission in Love; pray for our mission in Regina; pray for our mission in Blaine
Lake,” and others.  He was intrigued.

I explained that our church had made a commitment that, if God ever shows us where someone desires a Bible study or
a church, we will respond.  Ben asked, “You mean to say that if I were to ask you to come and help us start a church in
my town, you would come?”  I told him we would, and he started to cry.  Ben had a construction business in Leroy, a
small town seventy-five miles east of our city.  He said he had been pleading with people to start a church in his
community for twenty-four years, but nobody had wanted to help.  He asked us to come.

We purchased two lots on the main street and established a church in Leroy.  Ben was so excited he bought a portable
school building and moved it to the site.  A few years later, he began acting as lay pastor in a mission church.  Both of
his sons responded to the call to the gospel ministry.

As a congregation, we were already conditioned to seeing things only God could do.  When He revealed that He was
working in Leroy through Ben, we immediately saw this as our invitation to join Him.  Taking this approach meant we did
not have to continually come up with new ministry or master plans for our church.  Instead, we asked God to guide us to
know each new church plant or outreach He wanted us to undertake.  Frequently, the reason God’s people miss His
activity is that they are not committed to joining Him.  They want God to bless their plans, not to adjust to His will.

Don’t keep asking God to bless your plans and goals or those of your church.  Rather, look for God’s invitation to join
Him in accomplishing His work.  The presence and activity of God in your life will bring a blessing as a result of your
obedience.  When you identify where God is at work and respond in love to His invitation, you’ll experience Him at work
in and through your life.  There is no more wonderful experience than being at the heart of God’s activity.

Who can tell what a solitary visit by a stranger might mean in your church?  Ask some questions about what God is
presently doing in that person’s life.  Then you will know how to adjust your life to be an instrument of God so He will
accomplish His purposes.  In addition, the following two factors are important in responding to God’s invitation.


When God reveals to you what He is doing, that is the time for you to respond.  He speaks when He is about to
accomplish His purposes.  That is true throughout Scripture.  But keep in mind, the final completion of God’s work may
be a long time off.  Abram’s son was born twenty-five years after the promise from God.  However, God began adjusting
Abram’s life as soon as He spoke to him.

The time God speaks to you is the moment for your response.  You need to immediately begin adjusting your life to Him.  
You may need to prepare yourself for what He is going to do through you.


God said through Isaiah, “Yes, I have spoken; so I will also bring it about.  I have planned it; I will also do it”             
(Isaiah 46:11).  What God initiates, He completes.  Earlier, Isaiah warned God’s people, saying, “The LORD of Hosts has
sworn: As I have planned, so it will be; as I have purposed it, so it will happen…The LORD of hosts Himself has planned
it; therefore, who can stand in its way?  It is His hand that is outstretched, so who can turn it back?”  (Isaiah 14:24, 27).  
God says that if He ever lets His people know what He is about to do, it is as good as done – He Himself will bring it to
pass (see also I Kings 8:56).  Likewise in the New Testament, we read that “He who started a good work in you will carry
it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).  We must recognize when God is the One speaking.  
When He says something, we can be sure it will be so.

The implications of God’s promises are enormous.  Once we know we’ve heard from God, we can proceed with absolute
confidence, even if we can’t see how things will work out.  God always stands by His word.  He has never yet failed to
fulfill His word, and He does not intend to fail in your life.  So, when God shows you what He is about to do where you
are, you can step out in obedience, assured that the Lord will accomplish His purposes.

Be sure you always base your understanding of God on Scripture, not on personal opinion or experience alone.  
Throughout history, people have claimed to have a word from the Lord, and then it did not come to pass.  Just because
people claim to have heard from God does not mean they have, indeed, received a divine message.  The verification of
God’s message is that what a person hears becomes a reality.


EXPERIENCING GOD, by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King, Copyright 2008, B&H Publishing Group.