23 Jul 2023
One thing is absolutely certain - God wants to use you. It is sobering to think that God wants to use us today as he used men and woman of the past. When we think of Paul the Apostle and all that God did through him we are prone to say that he was one of a kind. When we think of the missionary to Inland China Hudson Taylor, or the evangelist D. L. Moody who led 750,000 people to Christ we often reason God could never use me today as He used them. But that is not true. God desire to use us today as He used these men and women of the past. The question is, ‘are you usable? ’ Have you placed yourself in a position where God can use you?
Turn with me, if you have a Bible, if not, whatever you're using these days, whether you're just watching the screen using your phone, your iPad, or whatever it may be, but we are in Acts, chapter nine, Acts chapter nine in your Bibles this morning. It's a great passage, as you will know, this is the story of the conversion of that man, Saul of Tarsus. And it happened like this. It was an A.D. 33 that a young Pharisee, highly educated and loaded with zeal was traveling down that Damascus Road. And he had one thought, and that was to stamp out that new sect called Christianity. But along the way, he was struck down by a bright light. There with that cry of conversion, he said, Who are you, Lord? And when those words came back, Saul of Tarsus, when those words came back, and Jesus said, Remember I am I am Jesus, Saul of Tarsus died. But rising above and up from that Damascus Road was Paul the Apostle now converted, consecrated and commissioned, he turned his energy towards the cause of Christ. And for the next 20 years, he would travel the Roman Empire teaching and preaching Christ, building churches, and discipling men. And Paul has gone down in the annals of Christian history as being without a doubt, the greatest Christian who ever lived, because you see, this man placed himself in a position where he could be used by God. Mark it down, God used him, because he placed himself in a position where he could be used by God.
Some years ago, there were two men walking on the banks of a river in Dublin, Ireland. And an older man said to the younger man, he says, you know, the world has yet to see what God can do through one person that is fully dedicated to him. And the younger man looked at that older man, he said, Could you please repeat that again. And so this time he did with renewed emphasis, he said, The world is yet to see what God can do through one person that is totally dedicated to him. And there in that Twilight hour, a young man by the name of Dwight L. Moody, lifted his hands to heaven, and he said, by God's grace, I will be that man. And DL Moody went on to be the greatest evangelist of his era. In fact, it is said before there were, you know, iPads and iPhones, before there was actually electricity. Before there were cars and airplanes, this man traveled over 1 million miles and he preached over to over 100 million people, personally leading over 750,000 people to the Lord.
But just see this man D L Moody, like Paul the Apostle placed himself in a position where he could be used by God. And I want you to know today that God wants to use you. God wants to use us, God wants to use us to reach our world, right where we live, God wants to use us to reach our family, our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues, our communities, you know, our Baron guys, our cities, our states, God wants to use us to reach the world in which we live. And maybe you're here today and you'd say, you know, I want to be used by God. I want God to use me to reach my family. I want to be used to reach my friends. I want to be used to reach my colleagues. But maybe God is not using you. Maybe you're not being used in any measurable way. And you wonder why? Well, maybe it's because you have not placed yourself in a position where you can be used by God. You see, God wants to use you. Isn't that a great thought the God of heaven, He who made all that we see and know, wants to co labor with us to reach this world for His glory. Friends, that's it. God wants to use us. But if we're going to be used by God, we must place ourselves in a position where God then is free to use us.
A Surrendered Man (v1 to 6)
So when we come to this passage here and Acts chapter 9, as we look at the conversion of this man, Saul of Tarsus, we find in this great story, some principles of usability, principles that if we were to apply to our life, guaranteed God would begin to use us in a new and a fresh way. So what are these principles of usability? Well, if God is going to use you, first of all, we need to realize that God always uses, always a surrendered person. Now this was true of this man, Saul of Tarsus. Now remember, verse 5 is classically referred to as a salvation where he cried out and he said, “Who are you, Lord?” (Acts 9:5a) And yet Paul was surrendered when we read in verse 6, although I'm sorry to say it's not found in the ESV. It is found in other translations such as the New King James, which I use. Paul said this. And by the way, we do find that by way of context, he said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (Acts 9:6a) He was saved when he said, Lord, and then he was surrendered when he said, Lord, what do you want me to do?
And friends mark it down. One thing is true about this man, Saul of Tarsus is that he was a surrendered man and that's one of the primary reasons God used him. Have you ever noticed how Paul introduced himself in his writings, here's an example Romans chapter one and verse one. Remember what he said, he simply said, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:1). And as you know that word servant is the Greek word Doulos and from it we get the English word, slave. Now, in Paul's day, a slave was a purchased possession. He was a person who lost, as being a purchase possession, he lost all the rights to guide and to govern his own life. He was a slave, he took his hands off his life and he placed his life into the hands of his new master, for his master to use. And that's the idea Paul had in mind for himself when he called himself a servant of Jesus Christ.
You see, Paul realized that he too, was a purchased possession. And as a purchased possession, he lost the rights to guide and to govern his own life. He, in an act of his will, he took his hands off his life and he placed his life into the hands of the master, for the master to use. Hey, listen, no wonder God used him. Because that's the kind of person God uses. God can't use you in any measurable way if you're holding on to your will, you're holding on to your desires, you're holding on to your plans, your hopes and your dreams. Friends, we have to allow the Lord to have complete control in our life. We must surrender to Him our plans. And that's exactly what Paul did. He was a surrendered man. And by the way, it is very interesting. As you just kind of move through the teachings of Paul, how often Paul is calling us to live a surrendered life.
How about Romans 6 and verse 13, Paul said, “Yield yourself to God”. Yield, surrender yourself. It refers to the totality of your being, all that you are, you know, from the top of your head to the sole of your foot, and everything in between. We are to surrender, we are to give over to him. Paul went on to say in that same book, in Romans 12 and verse 1, you know the verse, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present yourself that you present yourself that you present yourself as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1). He's talking about presenting ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice: surrendering. And he says, “I beseech you”, interesting words. It's not a command. It's what we call a soft command. And it pictures, you know, God upon bended knee and there with an outstretched arm, He's looking at us and He’s begging, He’s pleading with us, will you present yourself to me? Will you take your hands off your life and place your life into my hand that I might use you for His glory? You see, God desires that we live a surrendered life, and you know why He desires it? He desires it simply because He deserves it. We are purchased possessions. If you're a child of God today, you are a purchased possession, He purchased you with the price of His own, with the price of His own blood. In fact, Paul made that clear to us, did he not?
When he said to us in Romans, I mean, he said in Second Corinthians 5 and verse 15. It says that, Jesus Christ says that, “He”, that is Jesus, Jesus Christ, “died, that we which live should no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died for them”. Jesus Christ died for us that we might right now begin living for Him. He went on again to say in First Corinthians 6, you remember he says, “you're not your own”. Can I stop and pause for a moment? “You're not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19b). I didn't say that, the Scripture says that, you're not your own. We think we are. We live as if we are but you're not your own. You have no right to guide and govern your life. You're not your own. You have been. Finish it for me. You have been “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20a) and what was that price? The price was the blood of Jesus who came and died for our sins not just to redeem us and to set us free from the power of sin and hell right now. And that's glory in itself. But God set us free that we might be free to be used by Him, to impact our world for His glory. Even bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body, which is His. How do you glorify God in your body, you glorify God in your body by presenting your body to Him. And that's the kind of person God uses always. He always uses first and foremost a surrendered man.
There was a man some years ago, his name was P Cameron Scott. He founded what we know today in missions as the Inland African mission, as a result still going on today seen 1000s and 1000s of people born again. But there was a day in his life when he was a young man that he had no thoughts on God's claim upon his life, he just kind of drifted upon the shallow tides of shallow Christianity, you know, no desire for God or the things of God. But the Spirit of God began to work on upon his heart. In fact, the Spirit of God began to use First Corinthians chapter six, “You're not your own, you are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20a), and began to trouble his soul. And he was so troubled by that verse that he actually took an ink pen, and he marked it out of his Bible.
Friends, you know, you can mark a verse out of your Bible, but you can't mark it out of your heart, God began to tug and God began to pull upon his heart, calling him to a life of surrender. And eventually he took his hands off his life. And he placed his life into the hands of the master, for the master to use. And God began to change his life. Soon, he found that he was living a victorious life, he saw power in the sharing of the gospel, and God began to speak to his heart. And he eventually called him to Inland Africa, where he did a marvelous work by seeing multitudes of people come to Christ. And this decision to take his hands off his life and to place his life into the hands of the master, for the master to use was so radical in his life, it so radically changed him that it became his central message. It's what he preached everywhere he went. In fact, it was said that when he was on his deathbed, he called around him, his family, his friends, and even his coworkers. And he looked at every single one of them in the eye, and he asked them this question, he asked, Are your hands off? Are your hands off your life? How many of you placed your life into the hands of your master, for your master to control?
Because you see, that's the kind of person God uses. So I ask you, what are you holding on to that God wants you to let go of. For some, you know, it's just, you know, God's calling you but you don't want to follow God's call as if God doesn't know what he's doing. God wants you to let go. Maybe you're holding on to a lifestyle of sin that God wants you to let go of. And instead of embracing a lifestyle of sin, which is bringing you in a wrong direction, and you know it, you need to embrace the God of heaven, who loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life. Hey, by the way, the devil has an awful plan for your life. But God has a wonderful plan for your life. God wants you to take your hands off your life and place your life into the hands of the master, for the master to control. So what are you holding on to? God wants you to let go of it. Because God wants to use you. But God's waiting for you to come and say to him, Lord, what do you want me to do? First of all, God uses a surrendered man.
A Supplicating Man (v7-16)
Number two, that he always uses a supplicating man or we'll just say it this way, he uses a praying man, always. Notice the story. Immediately after his conversion, in his consecration, he rises from the dust upon that Damascus Road, and he realizes that he has been struck blind. So his companions take him by the hand and lead him into the city of Damascus. And yet at the same time, God speaks to the hearts of another man in another place, but the name of Ananias. And so we pick up the story in verse 11. And listen to what the scripture says. In Acts 9 in verse 11, the Bible says, “So the Lord said unto him, Arise and go to a street called straight and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is his praying”, mark it down. Friends, another reason that God used this man, Paul, the apostle, Saul of Tarsus, is because he was a praying man. You see, Paul knew that because of his former life as a persecutor of the church, he knew that his new life in Christ was not a playground, but he realized that the Christian life is a battleground. Are you with me? And friends, if the Christian life is a playground for you, I want you to know something, that you have never really entered into the Christian life. Are you with me? Now I'm not saying you're not saved. I'm just saying, Hey, you're not in the battle. You're not helping push back the gates of hell. You are not advancing the kingdom. In fact, you're not being used by God because the Christian life is not a playground. It's a battleground. Our enemy is not flesh and blood. It's not a physical battle that we're fighting. It's a spiritual battle.
In fact, Paul makes that real does he not? He tells us in Ephesians 6 in verse 12, he says, “We wrestle not with flesh and blood”. You know, sometimes we need to stop and think about that we wrestle not with flesh and blood, Man is not my enemy. Are you with me? Man is not my enemy. Are you with me? You may say, but you don't know my neighbor, Man is not your enemy. You know, you don't know my family. Man is not your enemy. We wrestle not with flesh and blood. Standing behind Man is an unseen enemy, and he is a tyrant. And he is dead set and hell bent on stamping out Christianity and destroying your children and discouraging you and keeping you out of the battle. “For we wrestle not”, Paul says “with flesh and blood, but powers and principalities and the rulers of the darkness” (Ephesians 6:12). We fight the devil and his diabolical minions, that is our battle. And friends, if we're going to fight and win this battle, then that battle demands fighting with spiritual means.
That's why Paul said to us, in Second Corinthians 10, verse 4, he said, “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal”. Friends, you know what that means? It means that the weapons that we fight with are not, are not human, they're not fleshly, they're not of my mind, are not of my intelligence. They're not fought and won by my wisdom. They're not carnal. We wrestle not with flesh and blood, with powers and principalities. Therefore, we must fight with spiritual weapons. So the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they are mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds. And the primary weapon and fighting this spiritual battle is the Weapon of Prayer. It's you and I taking the battle to our knee.
And may I say, if you are not winning the battles that you are fighting in life, and all of us are fighting some battles. Maybe you're fighting the battle of your flesh, and you're losing. Maybe you're fighting battles with your children, maybe you feel you're fighting the battles with the world. Maybe you're fighting the battle, just surrendering the battle itself. Listen, these battles need to be fought because they will be won on your knees. We must learn to take the battle to the knee. In fact, we have to be surrendered enough to take the battle to our knee because friends, that's where the battle is fought. And that is where the battle is won, because our enemy is not physical. Our enemy is a spiritual battle.
You guys know the name? Charles Spurgeon. I'm sure many do if you don't, he was without a doubt, the greatest preacher of the Victorian era, about 150 years ago, built the largest church in the world, extremely evangelistic, even this day, I mean, many of his sermons are read on a regular basis, was a wonderful man of God. And the church was growing, reaching people, you know, shaking the City of London to this day and one day it is said that Charles Spurgeon was standing outside of his church. And a group of people came by and they said, Mr. Spurgeon, can we ask you a question? They said, What is the secret to your spiritual success? Where does your spiritual power come from? And Mr. Spurgeon looked at those men and those ladies and he says, It is knee work. He said, It is knee work. He says, Come, let me show you the power station of the church. And so they took him into the basement of his church. And Mr. Spurgeon said on Monday morning, 3000 people gather here every Monday morning, and they pray that as I'm upstairs on Sunday, preaching that God would grant me wisdom, power and boldness to preach the Word of God. Then he took them to another room. And he says on Friday night, 200 people gathered together in this room and they pray that as I'm preaching upstairs, that God would come and meet with the congregation, by giving me wisdom, power and boldness to preach the Word of God. Then he took them to another room. And he said on Sunday morning, 500 people gather together in this place, and they pray, and they pray that as I am preaching the word of God on Sunday, that God would give me wisdom, boldness and power to preach the Word of God. And he says, That is the secret to our spiritual success. He said it is knee work, it is knee work, and friends, not only is that true in a church, but that's also true in your personal life, is true for your family. Listen, parents, your family needs you to be men and women of prayer. If God's gonna use you to impact your family, influence your children for the glory of God, you must be a man or a woman of prayer. It is knee work, it is knee work.
I remember a few years ago, I was in Indonesia, and I was holding a revival meeting for a small Independent Baptist Church of about 25 people. And halfway through the meetings, I asked the pastor, I said, is there another church in your city that is growing? And he said, yeah, there's a church down the road. He says it's a Chinese Indonesian Church of about 2000 on Sunday morning, and I thought to myself, I want to go talk to that pastor. So we gave him a call and, and we sat with him. And I wanted to talk to him because my friend had 25, he had 2000. Are you with me? He had 25, he had 2000. I wanted to say, Pastor, what are you doing that my friend is not doing? I want to look for transferable principles. So we sat down, we began to talk, ‘shop’, you know, as preachers do. And so I said, Pastor, why is your church growing? And my friend’s church is not growing? Of course, my friend was there as well. Because I wanted him to hear this, all right. It wasn't about me. It was about him, right? And he said, Well, you know, we believe the Bible. And I thought, Well, my friend believes the Bible. You know, we believe in its authority and its power. And I said, Well, my friend believes in its authority and its power. He says, Well, I'm an expository preacher, you know, I just take a book of the Bible, and we work through it verse by verse every Sunday, and I thought, well, that's what my friend does well, and we talked about an hour and I could find no real big difference. You know what I mean? No big difference.
And so we concluded our meeting and as we were moving out to the parking lot, we came to a long hallway. And the pastor said, Please be quiet as you go through this hallway. And so you know, we obeyed and we're kind of tiptoeing along and as we're moving along, I could hear mumbling. On that side, I can hear mumbling on this side, and I thought, torture chambers, you know, so we're walking, you know, and I hear this mumbling, hear this mumbling, hear this mumbling. So when we got to the end, I said, Pastor, I have to ask you a question. Why did we have to be quiet? And what's that mumbling I hear behind closed doors. And he said, very simply, you know, something that he forgot to tell us. He says, Oh, those are our prayer rooms. And there must have been seven doors on each side. And I said, wow, that's interesting. Tell me about it. And so he began to tell me, you know, their doors are open 24 hours a day. And he said, people go in there, you know, in between work on lunch hour, they just pop in there, and they pray. And I said, Why are there people in there all the time. And here's what he said to me. He says, you know, there's not an hour that goes by that there's not somebody in one of those rooms, praying and seeking the power of God on this ministry.
And I thought to myself, friends, that's the secret. No wonder God was using that church. It was a church who they were surrendered enough, there were people that were surrendered enough to take the battle to the knee. Would it be exciting if a group of people in this church decided and say, Pastor Jason, at the nine o'clock service, we're going to get up on our knees, and we're going to pray that upon you and upon your ministry and upon this church, that God would come and descend and flash power upon the people, then you come to the 11 o'clock service. And then those who would come to the 11, come to the 9 and 9 to the 11, won’t that be exciting if God's people were surrendered enough to take the battle to the knees? There's a battle going on. It's battle for the souls of men and ultimately. There's a battle for your children. There's a battle for you. And the man and the woman and the person that God uses. He takes his hands off his life and he places his life in the hands of the master for the master to use. And he realizes that the battle that we're fighting that we're all fighting, not a physical battle, but it is a spiritual battle. So we take the battle to the knee.
Let me ask you a question. How's your prayer life? How's your prayer life? You can ask me afterwards, if you want to. I'm asking you. You can ask me if you want to. How’s your prayer life? Are you praying for your family? I'm not talking about just your immediate family, your extended family. I got burdened, I think earlier this year, I got burdened in my prayer times in the morning to pray for my extended family. I have so many people in my family that are not saved. And now that I've discovered this, I began to pray for them. And I began to plead to God that they would be saved, that when I meet them doors open, opportunities are given. And all I need to do is take a step of faith and walk through that crack, walk through that opportunity. And the door has been wide open and becomes a beautiful opportunity to share the gospel but it begins where? It begins on your knee. Why? Because there's a battle. Listen, the devil wants to blind the minds of men and women who believe not. There's a binding and a blinding and friends we break those spiritual strongholds on our knees. God wants to use you, right where you are in your family. God wants you right here in your city. God wants to use you but He waits for you. That's the kind of person God uses. He uses a surrendered man. He uses a praying man.
A Spirit-Filled Man (v12-18)
Thirdly, God always uses then a spirit-filled man. Always. After Ananias had received his heavenly vision, here's what the Bible says. We read in verse 17, it says, “And Ananias”, went in obedience, “went his way and he entered the house and there he laid his hands upon Saul and he said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road, as you came, he sent me that you might receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). Friends, mark it down. God always uses men and women who live a spirit dependent life. Always. Remember our Lord and Savior. Friends, do you realize that our Savior Jesus Christ did not begin His public ministry until He was filled with the Holy Spirit, you know that? He didn't begin it. At His baptism, He was filled with the Spirit of God, and then He went into the wilderness. That's when He began His public ministry 33 years later, as He was filled with the Spirit of God. 30 years God used Him as He filled Him with the spirit and everything that Jesus Christ did in His public ministry He did as a spirit-filled man.
Can I give you a little piece of theology? Can I challenge you a little bit this morning? Pastor Jason said I have no timeframe. Except 11 o'clock, right? I did, I asked him back there, time? Little piece of theology. This is helpful by the way. Theology has to be practical, this is practical. Jesus was 100% God and 100% Man. When Jesus left the glories of Heaven, what did He do? He set aside the free exercise of His attributes, didn't cease being God, but He decided not to live as God on Earth, but to live as Man. That's why we call him the man Jesus. You see, God didn't die upon the cross, right? The Son of man died upon that cross, God can't die, right? So Jesus set aside the free exercise of His attributes, and He chose to live in His earthly sojourn, as a man filled with the Holy Spirit. Are you with me? Jesus did not do what He did in the power of deity. He did what He did as He depended upon the power of the Holy Spirit. Hey, that is why Jesus could say to us.
By the way, all this is extra. It's not in the notes. Okay, so no need to click the slide. This is extra. Okay, I'm giving you extra today. All right, no extra charge by the way. You can give a little bit more on the tithes and offerings next Sunday, but not today. All right. Hey, that's why Jesus could say, now let me just back up a bit and remind you, Jesus lived as a man filled with and empowered by the Spirit of God. That's why Jesus could say to us in John 14 and verse 12, “the works that I do these works you shall do and yet even greater works than these shall you do”. Did you hear me? The only way we can do the work that Jesus does, is because we have the very same Spirit Jesus had. Are you with me? Hey, listen, the Spirit of God that lived in Jesus Christ, that same Spirit lives in you. The Spirit that raised Him from the dead, that Spirit lives in you. Are you with me? Man, if we weren't so conservative, we can all get up and jog around the church. That's, that's beautiful truth. “The works that I do, these works you shall do”. And you know what we do? We take that verse, we throw it off, oh, we throw it off into dispensation. We leave it there. They're right there in first century.
Don't you think we need the Spirit's power in the 21st century? It's available, the power of God is available to you. Hey, by the way. Here's another verse. That's why John said in First John two and verse six. Remember John said, “Walk as Jesus walked”. I remember when I was a young believer, sitting where you're sitting, and I heard a pastor say, we need to walk as Jesus walked. In my first response was no way. I can't do that. I'm not Jesus. How can I walk like Jesus walks you know? I'm not God. I didn't realize that, wait a minute. Although Jesus was God, He set aside the free exercise of His attributes, and He chose to live as a man filled with the Spirit of God. Therefore, John can rightly say to us, walk as Jesus walked, we can walk as Jesus walk, we can do as Jesus did, because the power of God that was in Jesus is the same power of the Spirit that is in you. And a man that God uses understands that, and he depends upon that indwelling Holy Spirit to do for him what he cannot do for himself. Hey, listen, how can you live the Christian life? The fact is, you can't. You were never designed to live the Christian life. You see God saved you. And not only did he remove the penalty of sin, but he broke the power of sin, and He raised you as a new creation in Christ Jesus. And thus He inhabited you with the indwelling Holy Spirit. And He desires you now to go in the power of the cross and the power of the Spirit to go forward living a victorious Christian life walking as Jesus walked. That is your potential. Are you with me? Now, let that sink in. So everything that Jesus did, He did in the power of the Spirit of God and friends, if Jesus did everything that He did in the power of the Holy Spirit, how much more do we need that same power upon our life to do what God's called us to do?
Can I take this thought a step farther? You're thinking, I'm not sure I want to go a step farther. All right, I'm pretty sure I want to take you a step farther all right? Step farther. Do you realize that the disciples did not nor could they begin their public ministry until they were filled with the Holy Spirit? Did you catch that? Remember Jesus was just about to ascend into heaven, I can imagine that the disciples chomping at the bit saying, Lord, we want to go, we want to go, we want to go, God, we're ready. And what Jesus said, You're not ready, there's something missing. He says, I want to go to Jerusalem and wait. And I can imagine the disciples thinking, Wait? For what? Jesus says, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Ghost come upon you and then you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and yet, even unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” Hey, listen, they could not begin their public ministry until they were empowered with the Spirit of God. Now, that's amazing to me, considering these are pretty good specimens of men by this age, you know, I mean, three and a half years with our Lord, they knew how to do the work of the ministry. I mean, Acts Chapter One says they spent 40 days studying the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, these were spiritually educated men, and yet they were not yet ready to reach the world. Why? Something was drastically lacking. It was only after they were filled with the Spirit, in Acts two and verse four, that Peter stood up, and he preached that great Pentecostal sermon. And as a result, 3000 people were saved and only at that moment did the work of evangelizing the world begin.
So I ask you, are you filled with the Spirit of God? And do you know it? Because if you're filled with the Spirit of God, you'll know it. Because you know what's going to happen? You'll manifest the fruit of the Spirit. There'll be a boldness. There'll be a quickening. There'll be life when you hear the word of God. Listen, it's not just spirit-filled preaching that we need, it’s spirit-filled listening. Could you imagine the dynamic that could happen? If you had a spirit-filled preacher and a spirit-filled congregation? You know what I'd say? I'd say watch out Punggol. Oh, you better believe it. Friends, we must depend upon the Spirit of God because every person God has ever used has been a spirit-filled man.
Can I take it a step farther? Driving it home. You know, when the church in Jerusalem was looking for leadership, Acts six and verse three says that they chose seven men, you know, one of the characteristics? They had to be full of the Holy Spirit. When the church of Antioch was looking for a new pastor, they chose Barnabas, because Acts 11 tells us he was what? Filled with the Holy Spirit. And Paul gave us a command, what was the command? He commanded, be filled with the Holy Spirit. You see, it's a command that we must obey. We must choose to depend on the Spirit of God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. But you ask Him to fill us, to enable us and to empower us. When sin comes knocking upon your door, you cry out and say Spirit, I need your power to keep this door of temptation close in my life. The Christian life is practical. That's why he says walk in the Spirit, it demands a little bit of activity. Walk is a choice to depend, depend upon the spirit, Depend, you know, choose and find the Spirit of God in your conversations and find Him in your conduct. Ask Him to do what He has been assigned to do from the Godhead. He's a Spirit of truth. And so, if you struggle with truth, ask the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit to give you a truthful tongue. He's a Spirit of love. And you know you having a hard time loving the person you're sitting next to, and maybe your spouse. There's power to love your wife. There's power to love your husband. There's power to love your kids. Kids, there's power available to you to love your parents, and that power is the power of the Holy Spirit. Just ask Him for love and he'll enable you. As we continue to walk, He begins to change our character, begins to break our habits. We begin to walk as Jesus walked. That's the kind of person God uses. Jesus said in John 6 in verse 63, he says, “the flesh profits nothing”. “It's the Spirit who gives life”. If there's no life in your Christian life, it indicates where you're walking. You're walking in the flesh and you're not walking in the Spirit.
Guys, can I tell you a story? Can I relax you for a moment before we hit the last point? Can I do that? I'm sorry, if I'm stressing you out a little bit. People say to me, you know, Pastor Mike, you are a little bit overwhelming at times. Sorry, it's my personality, so it's why I come here every three years. I'll tell you a story. This is a safe story. All right, tell this one because it's safe. Okay. I'm gonna use Charles Spurgeon again, because he's, you know, he's always safe for us, conservatives. Right. Here's a story about Charles Spurgeon. He wrote a book years ago to the leaders and ministers of his church called Lectures to my students. And in that book, Lectures to my students, he tells a story of a Puritan preacher by the name of Thomas Boston. Okay, so there's my conservative context. Spurgeon, Thomas Boston, Puritan, Calvinistic Baptist. Are you with me? Okay. And he told this story. It was a story told by Thomas Boston, repeated by Charles Spurgeon, in his book, Lectures to my students. So, here's how it goes. So Thomas Boston, one day was walking down the street in his city. And he looked over and he saw the devil preaching the gospel on the street corner. So he stopped and he listened. And you realize he says, Wow, you know, the devil is preaching a good gospel. He's accurate. And he's telling everybody that he believes this book from cover to cover. And so Thomas Boston said, Wow, the devil must be a fundamentalist. So he walked up to him, curious as you could well imagine, and he says to him, are you really the devil? And he says, Yes, I'm really the devil. He says, Why are you the devil preaching the gospel telling everybody that you believe this book from cover to cover? Isn't that kind of contradictory to who you are? And here's what the devil said. He said, I am preaching an honest gospel and I am telling people that I believe the Bible from cover to cover. And he says, here's why. Because I have learned that if you preach the gospel of God, without the anointing of God on your life, is the best way to dam the souls of men and women to hell. Charles Spurgeon said, that when he read those words, he trembled. And friends, so should we. Power. There's no victory in living a life apart from being filled with the Spirit. That's why the Spirit of God lives within you. It's not there just to seal you unto redemption or unto salvation. That's true, but that's not the whole reason. He's not living in you because He had no better place to go. Are you with me? I think there's a better place to go but He lives within you to enable you to be the person God wants you to be, so that you might do what God wants you to do. Remember this, God never asked you to do something without giving you the power to do it. Are you with me? You see, the beauty of God is He has given us a roadmap. It's called the Word of God. All we have to do is live according to its precepts. But then He has given us a power to do what He has asked us to do. How, how beautiful is that? The problem is we try to do what God's asked us to do on our own energy and our own strength. And we come up empty, we come up short. And many times, people walk away saying, hey, there's nothing to the Christian life because you're trying to live a spiritual life in your own energy and your own strength, and we just can't do it. You see, the person that God uses, yes, He takes His hands off His life and He places His life into the hands of the master for the master to use. Then He surrendered enough to take the battle to His knees because He recognizes that, you know, we're fighting a spiritual battle, not a physical battle, then He rises from His knees because we can't live there. And He goes forward in the power that the Holy Spirit provides, that's the kind of person that God uses and God wants to use you and He waits for you to place yourself in a position where He can use you.
A Serving Man (v19 – 20)
Now lastly, is this. I just want you to know you can thank me on the way out that I had extra points in this message and I cut them out. We talked about it up in the AV section, we cut out a few verses. So I just want you to know that if you think I'm going along. Are you with me? I'm just trying to endear yourself, you to Me and Me to you. You with me? Because this last point is a hard one. Are you ready? Here's the kind of person God uses. God also uses a serving man, a man or a woman whose heart is deeply burdened for the lost. This was true of Paul, after Paul received his sight, and after he was baptized and spent some time with the disciples, the Scripture records for us in verse 20. Now listen to these words, it says, “immediately”, immediately. What does immediately mean? Daddy says, Son, do it now. That is what it means, right? Right now, immediately, straight away. It says that, “he preached Christ in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). I love it. It speaks of Paul's heart, you see. It reminds us that this man Paul was a man who was deeply burdened for the souls of men. And he was, I mean, all we have to do is walk through his teachings and we see his heart over and over again. Romans chapter nine is that passage where Paul in essence, he says, that he's so deeply burdened for his own countrymen that he would willingly exchange places with them, he would willingly, willingly go to hell that his countrymen could go to heaven. He speaking of his heart, he reminds us in Romans 10 and verse one. With this, he says, “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that Israel might be saved” (Romans 10:1). That is his heart, he says, his prayer to God and his deepest burden in life is that the nation of Israel would be saved. Friends, you see, that's the kind of person God uses. He always uses a man or a woman whose heart is deeply burden for the souls of men. Let me ask you a question. When you look over man, the mass of humanity, what do you see? Many times we see people as economic opportunities. But you know, ultimately, they're just eternal bound souls. Everybody will live somewhere forever. And friends, if we're going to be part of God's army reaching this world, with this glorious, life changing message of Jesus Christ, then we must have a heart that's burdened for souls, every person God has ever used has a heart burdened for souls. One of my heroes of the faith is a man by the name of James O Fraser. In fact, I was still reading his biography when I was a young, 25 year old man then God called me to ministry. He was a missionary of another era, and he was reaching the Lisu people in Western China, and it was said about this man, James O Fraser that oftentimes he would be heard at night, as his voice kind of drifted along the hills. And he'd be crying out and saying, God, give me Lisu converts and I could truly say that I would be happy even to live with the pigs. In other words, he says, Lord, I'm so burdened for these people, that I'll make any sacrifice necessary, even if it demands me to live with the pigs. Friends, that’s a heart, no wonder God used him.
You know, the name, Hudson Taylor took the gospel to inland China. He was a man deeply burdened for the souls of men. In fact, it is said that oftentimes, he would be heard crying out in prayer, I feel I could not live if something was not done for the land of China. What about the name William Booth, you know, that name? Founder of the Salvation Army. Friends, may I say 150 years ago, the Salvation Army was the was the most evangelistic organization on the planet. In fact, he was so evangelistic in his day that churches didn't want him. And so the only place he could build a church in London was in the middle of a graveyard. And that's where he started his church and people were so afraid to go there, they wouldn't go because they knew that if they went there, they'd get saved. Are you with me? It's true. It's great if you can ever get the biography of that man. I mean, it's a tremendous story. Imagine that the power of God, people wouldn't even go because they knew that if they did, they would be saved. You see he was a man who had a heart that was broken for the souls of men. He would often be heard crying out in prayer, saying soul soul, my heart hungers for souls. One day, a member of the Salvation Army wrote him a letter and said, Sir, why is it that I'm not seeing any results from my preaching? And he wrote back very simply, and he said, Try tears.
You know, our Lord and Savior was, the Bible says, “A man given to strong crying and tears” (Hebrews 5:7). Hebrews five and verse seven, did you know that? He was a man given to strong crying and tears. I don't know maybe Jesus with the eye of that omnipotent God looked down the tunnel of time and He saw you. And maybe Jesus wept for you. Maybe Jesus wept for your salvation. But He was given to strong crying in tears. We know in Scripture that He wept over the departing of His dear friend, Lazarus. You know the Bible says that He was moved to compassion when He saw the multitudes because He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. The Bible says that He wept over Jerusalem knowing that they would soon reject Him as their Messiah. No wonder the psalmist says in Psalm 126 and verse five that “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalm 126:5). You see a man, my friend, listen, a man or woman that God uses is a man or a woman who's deeply burdened for the souls of men. They fall upon their knees, and they plead to the God of heaven, for the salvation of their family, the salvation of their friends.
That's the kind of person God uses. Do you know the name C T Studd? He was again a missionary of another age. I’m just trying to show you some hearts, are you with me? He spent 30 years as a missionary: 15 In India, 15 in China, then he went back to his home in England because his health was broken at 50 years of age. But as he was a homie, he began to hear about the needs and the crying, dying souls of men in the heart of Africa, and he decided that he was going to go. He had a heart condition and he told his wife who was not well, he says, Honey, I have to go, I know you can't, but I have to go. And so he left his wife probably never able to see her again. He left her at 50 years of age, his health was broken. 30 years on the missionary field, he went to inland Africa and he sat upon a ship on the Congo ready to go into the heart of Africa, he penned these words. Please listen to what he said. He said last June, at the mouth of the Congo, there awaited 1000 prospectors, traders, merchants and gold seekers, awaiting to rush into these regions as soon as the government opened the door for them, for rumor declared that there is an abundance of gold. If such men hear so loudly the call of gold and obey it. Can it be that the ears of Christ soldiers are deaf to the call of God, and to the cries of the dying souls of men? Are gamblers for gold, so many. And yet, gamblers for God, so few.
You see, that's the kind of person God uses. It's a person who takes his hands off their life and places their life in the hands of the master for the master to use, they let go of what they're holding on to because they know that hinders them in their walk and relationship with God. They realized the battle they are fighting is a spiritual battle. So they take the battle to their knee, and then they rise from their knee and they walk in a power that the indwelling Holy Spirit provides. And all of that is channeled from a heart that is deeply burdened for the souls of men.
So I ask you, do you need to put yourself in a position where God can use you? Are you holding on to something that God wants you to let go off? Are you taking the battle to the knee? Are you living a spirit-filled life? How's your heart? You know, if your heart is not burdened for the souls of man, you know, you can ask the God of heaven. You can ask him to give you His heart. Ask Him. Lord, my heart is cold. You know, I will tell you this. There's not a person alive who doesn't often go like this in their Christian life. Their heart is we're hungry, we're hot, God burdens us and God uses us and then you know, the cares and affairs of life, the hustle and bustle of life come along, and all of a sudden that burden goes away. But oftentimes we hear a message or we're stirred by a truth. And we need to come back to the God of heaven and say, God, you need to stir me again. God, I need a fresh anointing. God, I need a fresh enabling. God, I need a fresh empowering. God, I need your love. Lord, I need your compassion. God, I need your heart, restoring to me the joy of my salvation. You know, God will do that. God will do it.
Let me finish with one story. Can I do that? Then we'll be done. I promise, I hear you laughing out there. Famous last words from a preacher right? It’s a true story, in fact, it's a fact of history. It was said that in 1923, that Russia, desire to spread to the world, its communism, the communist ideology. And so they started with China. And so they sent a man to China, a man by the name of Michael Borden. And his goal from the communist regime of Lenin was to convert China into being a communist country. Imagine that, one man tasked to do the job. So he, you know, like a good evangelist, got some converts, and began to teach these men the tenets of communism, men like Ho Chi Minh, Chiang Kai Shek and others, began to teach them the tenets of communism.
And when the American government you know, they're always poking the nose in everybody else's business, they were doing it then as well. They sent over some correspondents to China to interview this man, Michael Borden, regarding his goal of converting China into being a communist country. And they said, you know, we in the United States, do not believe that you're gonna be able to do this, there's not enough of you, you'll never convince this massive country that what you're teaching is true. And Michael Borden, looked at these American correspondents and said, you know, there's something that you Americans do not understand. I am not here for me. I am not here to get rich, I'm not here to prey upon the people. I am not here for my own personal interest. I am here for one goal, and that is to help convert this country to be a communist country.
They pause for a moment. Then he looked at these correspondents and he said, You know, I used to be like you Americans. I used to read the New Testament. And you know, he said, in fact, it's probably the greatest story ever told. Then he said, you know that man, Paul the Apostle, he said, you know, that pipe man, Paul was a real revolutionary, yes, he was a real revolutionary. And then he said this, where are the men and women like Paul the Apostle today? And that's a good question. Where are the men and the women like Paul the Apostle today? Where are the D L Moody’s, James O Frazier's, the Hudson Taylor's? Where are the William Booth’s and C T Studd’s today?
You know I have the answer. You know where they are? They are right here. Friends, it's you and it's me. And do you realize that God wants to use us today as he used them in their day? How an exciting thought. God wants to use you today as he used Paul in his day. Yes, maybe differently. God maybe not going to send you as a missionary but you are a missionary right here. There’s a world for you to reach. God wants to use you today as he used D L Moody, as he used Paul the Apostle, as he used C T Studd, as he used P Cameron Scott. As God used these men and women of past, God desires to use you in your present but God waits for you to place yourself in a position where you can be used by God.
God wants you to take your hands off your life and place your life in the hands of the master for the master to use and friends, may I remind you, you can trust God. You can trust Him. You can take your hands off, you can trust Him. You trusted Him with your eternal soul, did you not? Why can't you trust Him with your physical life? Isn’t that a funny thing, isn’t that a weird dichotomy? You know, we trust Him with our eternal future, but we're not willing to trust Him with our physical life. Something wrong with that? But you can trust him. So maybe you need to let go of something today. Maybe you need to take the battle to your knee. Maybe you need to live a spirit-filled life or maybe you just need your heart burdened. Friends, if that's where you find yourself, I invite you to come to God. Come to him. Talk to him about it, tell Him, God help you, God enable you because God wants to use you.
Let's pray. Lord, I just want to say thank you, that as we gather together in this room, that your son Jesus Christ died for our sins, available to each and every one is that wonderful, glorious salvation. Lord, thank you, for dying for our sins. Thank you for rising on the third day. Thank you for that wonderful and that glorious salvation. And Lord, we thank you that as you died, you purchased not just our redemption, but Lord you purchased us that we might right now begin living for you. Lord, I want to pray for your people. Lord, I pray that you would use us, each of us right where we are. Use us in our families, use us to reach our friends, use us in our community, use us to be good influences to our children, use us that we might live a life that pleases you. And I pray that if there are some that need to surrender that Lord you would speak to their heart and before they lay their head upon the pillow tonight that they would make that exchange with you that they would let go of whatever they need to let go of. Maybe some, Lord, need to take the battle to their knee and they've been stirred today. Lord, I pray you would strengthen them to be men and women of prayer. Lord, may all of us live in dependence upon your indwelling Holy Spirit, that we might live a spirit-filled life Thank You, Holy Spirit for your Divine Indwelling. And Lord, I pray that all of our hearts, a fresh and new would be broken for the souls of men, may we see people as you see them. enable us to reach them with your glory. Lord, use us for Your glory, we ask, in Jesus name. Amen.
More Episodes from Pastor Mike Redick:
II Samuel 11-12 Satisfied?
13 Aug 2017
13 Nov 2016
06 Nov 2016
19 Jun 2016
25 Dec 2015
21 Jun 2015
20 Jun 2015
20 Jun 2015
Episodes from other sermons:
23 Jul 2023
18 Jun 2023
28 May 2023
07 Apr 2023
12 Mar 2023
25 Dec 2022
20 Dec 2022
11 Dec 2022