|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES
|BEING GOD’S SERVANT
Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King
I AM REVEALED
Mar 17 2013
If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the
Father will honor him. (John 12:26)
BACK ON TRACK
Once at a large convention, a man approached me, grasped my hand, and said, “I used to be a pastor.” He went on to
explain that in his first church some ungodly leaders bitterly opposed him and determined to run him out of the church.
They hurt him and his wife deeply by their actions and their lies. The pastor eventually resigned in anger, vowing he
would never serve in the ministry again. He took a job with a friend in a new company as its executive vice president.
The business became extremely successful, and the former pastor enjoyed financial prosperity like he had never
imagined. Then one day, the church he attended began a study of Experiencing God. Those taking the course learned
that God is at work to redeem a lost world and that He invites people to join Him in His work. The former pastor was
struck deeply as he remembered the time God had invited him to join His work in the church. The man realized he had
forsaken his divine calling by leaving the ministry. He resigned his lucrative position in the company and accepted the
pastorate of a small church. “I’m a pastor again,” he told me with tears in his eyes. This dear brother had lost sight of
the fact that he was a servant and that his Lord had a right to assign him to any task He chose. After he regained
a clear view of God, it put his bitter feelings in their proper perspective. Once again, he was fulfilled and content as a
The point is not that every business person should resign to enter the ministry, but that to participate in God’s work you
must be a servant. Many Scripture passages describe Jesus as God’s servant. He came to earth to accomplish God’s
will in redeeming humanity. Paul described Jesus’ humble attitude and commended it to us in this way:
something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking
on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming
obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
We are to develop the servant attitude of Christ that requires humility and obedience. In His instructions to His disciples
about servanthood, Jesus described His own role of service: “Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave;
just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life – a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27-
Jesus also explained our relationship to Him, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). When you
respond to God’s invitation to salvation, you join Him in His mission of world redemption. The salvation God
offers comes with a corresponding summons to be on mission with Him. In this new relationship you move into a servant
role with God as your Lord and Master.
The common understanding of a servant is someone who approaches the master and says, “Master, what do you want
me to do?” The master tells him, and the servant goes off and does it. But that is not the biblical picture of a servant of
God. Being God’s servant is quite different from working for a human master. While an ordinary servant labors for his
master, God works through His servants.
The biblical portrayal of God’s servant is more like a potter and clay. God described the relationship with His people this
and there he was, working away at the wheel. But the jar that he was making from the clay became flawed in the
potter’s hand, so he made it into another jar, as it seemed right for him to do.
LORD'S declaration. “Just like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, house of Israel.”
DIVINE MASTER AND HUMAN SERVANT
This portrayal of our service to God is far different than the way people serve one another. When you offer yourself to
God as His servant, He first expects to shape you into the instrument of His choosing. He will always work in you before
He works through you. As you obey, He is the One who completes the work. We’ll address this subject further when we
look at Jesus’ life in chapter 6.
As God’s servants, we must do two things: (1) be moldable and (2) remain available for the Master’s (Potter’s)
use. Then the Master will use us as He chooses. We can do nothing of kingdom value in our own power. As Jesus
said, “The Son is not able to do anything on His own” (John 5:19) and “you can do nothing without Me” (John 15:5).
When God works through His servant, that person can do anything God chooses to do through his or her life. The
potential is unlimited. But servanthood requires obedience. Servants of God must do what they are told, and they must
remember who is accomplishing the work – God.
If you have been operating from a disoriented approach to spiritual servanthood, this concept should change your
perspective about serving God. You don’t receive orders, then go and carry them out to the best of your knowledge and
ability. You relate to God, respond to Him, and adjust your life to Him so He will do what He wants through you.
When the World’s Fair was coming to Vancouver, our affiliation of churches was convinced God wanted us to reach out
to the twenty-two million people who would visit our city. Yet the combined membership of all our Vancouver churches
was only about two thousand. How could such a small group impact such a mass of tourists from all over the world?
Two years before the fair, we sought the Lord’s guidance and began to do what we sensed He was telling us. The total
income for our association was $9,000. The following year it grew to $16,000. The year of the World’s Fair we set a
budget of $202,000. Obviously we were attempting something only God could do. Often churches or denominations will
establish a practical budget that represents what they can do. Then they might set a second “hope” or “faith” budget.
The figures they really trust and use, however, are in the “real“ budget – the funds they can manage themselves. The
rest is more of a wish list that we do not make use of unless the funds materialize. But I suggest that is not faith at all.
As a group of churches, we knew God had definitely led us to work that would cost $202,000. So that became our
operating budget. Our people began to pray for everything we believed God was leading us to do during the World’s
Fair. At the end of the year, I asked our treasurer how much money we had received. We had taken in $264,000.
People from all over North America assisted us. And, of course, money was not the goal. It was a means to accomplish
what God told us to do. During the fair we were a catalyst, seeing almost twenty thousand people accept Jesus Christ as
Savior and Lord! Only God could have done that. He accomplished it with a small group of people who had determined
to be servants and who made themselves available for their Master’s use. Today our world does not need to see what
we can do, but people desperately need to witness what God wants to accomplish through us.
ELIJAH THE SERVANT
Elijah was one of the great Old Testament prophets of Israel and a servant of God (see I Kings 17:1) during the time
when King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, through their wicked leadership, led the people of Israel away from God to worship
Baal, a Canaanite fertility god. We read in I Kings 18:16-39 that Elijah challenged the prophets Baal to a public
showdown to prove definitively who was the true God. This was an extremely bold move since Elijah was outnumbered
eight hundred and fifty to one.
Elijah proposed that the prophets of Baal prepare a sacrifice and ask their god to send fire to consume it. He would
similarly appeal to the God of Israel for fire. Of course, Baal – who was no god – did not answer the prophets’ pleas,
even when they wailed and pleaded. When it was Elijah’s turn, he repaired the altar of the Lord and laid out
his sacrifice. God answered with fire, consuming the sacrifice – and even the stone altar – as Elijah had proposed. If
God had not displayed His own work by sending fire, Elijah would have utterly failed, and that would have cost him his
life. It’s crucial to understand that this test was not Elijah’s idea but God’s.
Throughout the process, Elijah had to remain close to God and do whatever the Lord commanded. Elijah acted in
obedience to God’s command. He went where God told him, when God told him, and he did what God told him to do. In
his prayer Elijah said, “Let it be known that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that at Your word I have
done all these things” (I Kings 18:36). Then God accomplished His purposes through Elijah who attributed the
work back to God when he said, “You have turned your heart back” (I Kings 18:37). Elijah wanted the people to identify
the Lord as the true God, and that is exactly how the people responded.
So to review: Did Elijah bring down fire from heaven, or did God do it? God did. What was Elijah’s role? Obedience.
So to review: Did Elijah bring down fire from heaven, or did God do it? God did. What was Elijah’s role? Obedience.
Elijah had no ability to bring fire down from the sky, but God did. Elijah did not have the strength to overcome eight
hundred and fifty hostile idol worshippers, but God did. When God did something only He could do, all the people knew
He was the true God. God did this mighty work, but He acted through His servant Elijah. Because Elijah made his life
available for God’s use, God did a powerful work that impacted the nation.
When you think about working with God in His mission to redeem a lost world, you may ask, “What can one ordinary
person do?” One of the wonderful Scriptures that has helped me on this point describes Elijah: “Elijah was a man with a
nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the
land. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit” (James 5:17-18).
This mighty man of God was an ordinary person just like you and me. But when he prayed, God
responded miraculously. Elijah did not have any unusual giftedness or power. He simply humbled himself in the role of
a servant. He obeyed everything God instructed him to do, and God worked through Elijah to influence an entire nation
to return to God.
Peter and John
Peter and John were two of the first disciples Jesus called to follow Him. After Jesus’ resurrection, God healed a crippled
beggar through Peter. Peter and John were called before the Sanhedrin – the highest court in the land – to give an
account of their actions. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter spoke fearlessly to the religious leaders. Notice the peoples’
response: When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained
men, they were amazed and knew that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
Most of the people we read about in the Scriptures were ordinary men and women. Their relationships with God and
God’s activity in their lives made them extraordinary. Did you notice the statement – the leaders recognized that Peter
and John “had been with Jesus”? Peter and John were common fishermen, but their association with Jesus made them
world changers. Anyone who enters into an intimate relationship with God can see God do exceptional things
through his or her life. The outcome does not depend upon a person being unusually gifted, educated, or wealthy. The
key is the indwelling presence of God doing unusual things through a willing servant.
D.L. Moody: A Common Shoe Salesman
Dwight L. Moody was a poorly educated shoe salesman who felt the call of God to preach the gospel. While visiting the
British Isles, Moody attended an all-night prayer meeting with some friends. The next morning, his friend Henry Varley
said, “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to Him.”
Moody was deeply moved by those words. Later, he listened to the famous pastor Charles H. Spurgeon preaching in his
massive church in London. Moody’s biographer described how he responded:
“The world had yet to see! With and for and through and in! A man!” Varley meant any man! Varley didn’t say he had
to be educated, or brilliant, or anything else! Just a man! Well, by the Holy Spirit in him, he’d [Moody] be one of those
men. And then suddenly, in that high gallery, he saw something he’d never realized before - it was not Mr. Spurgeon,
after all, who was doing that work: it was God. And if God could use Mr. Spurgeon, why should He not use the rest of us,
and why should we not all just lay ourselves at the Master’s feet, and say to Him, “Send me! Use me!”
Soon afterward, God began to use Moody in powerful ways. Moody had come to realize that his effectiveness did not
depend on his own eloquence, charisma, or intelligence but on his surrendered life to Christ. Moody could not make
himself more talented, but he could choose to be more surrendered. As he yielded his life to God, he
immediately began to experience God using him in ways he could never have imagined. Moody became one of the
greatest evangelists of modern times. During much of the nineteenth century he preached in revival services across
Britain and America where thousands upon thousands of people came to faith in Christ.
Could God work in extraordinary ways through your life to accomplish significant things for His kingdom? You might say,
“Well, I am not D.L. Moody.” You don’t have to be. God wants you to be the person He created you to be and to let Him
do through you whatever He chooses. When you believe that nothing consequential can happen through you, you have
said more about your belief in God than you have indicated about yourself. The truth is that God can do anything He
pleases through an ordinary person who is fully dedicated to Him.
John the Baptist
It probably does not surprise you that God’s standard of excellence is different from ours. The public ministry of
John the Baptist lasted perhaps six months, but what was Jesus’ estimate of John’s life? “I tell you, among those born of
women no one is greater than John “ (Luke 7:28).
Don’t measure excellence by the world’s standards. Many denominations are doing it. Many pastors and churches are
doing it. Many business people are doing it. By the world’s assessment, a person or church may look pretty good yet in
God’s sight be totally unacceptable (see Revelation 3:17). Similarly, a person or a congregation may be wholly yielded
and pleasing to Him yet in the world’s eyes appear insignificant. Could a pastor who faithfully serves God in a small rural
community be pleasing to the Lord? Of course – if that is where God placed him. Could a homemaker or
shoe salesman bring great glory to God through the seemingly ordinary tasks they accomplish? Yes. God will look for
and reward faithfulness, whether the person has been given responsibility for little or much (see Matthew 25:14-30).
God delights in using ordinary people to accomplish His divine purposes. Paul said God deliberately seeks out the weak
and the despised things because it is from them that He receives the greatest glory (see I Corinthians 1:26-31). When
God does exceptional things through unexceptional people, then others recognize that only God could have done it. If
you feel week, limited, and ordinary, take heart! You are the best material through which God can work!
EXPERIENCING GOD, by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King, Copyright 2008, B&H Publishing Group.