This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Part 1—Your Calling is Holy
The theme of my talks today is indicated by the title on the outline there which you might take a moment to look at: “Finding Your Place.” This is a theme of tremendous importance to every Christian. And until you have found your place, you will never be a totally fulfilled Christian. God has a place for each one of us, for each one of you. He has a place of employment or service. He has a place in the body of Christ and he also has a geographical place. It’s not the same whether you live in Hawaii, California, or New York. God has a place for every one of us.
In the book of Proverbs it says “Man who is out of his place is like a bird who wanders from it’s nest.” Have you ever seen a bird that got out of it’s nest and couldn’t get back again? Nothing is more weak and pitiful than that. And that’s how it is to be out of your place. I’ve counseled many people and simply had to tell them, “One of your problems is you’re not in your right geographical place. This isn’t the place where you ought to be. And you’ll never really flourish until you find your place.”
However, it’s not primarily a geographical place that I want to talk about. But a place in God and above all, a place in the body of Christ. The scripture says every one of us should be a member of the body. And as a member each one of us has to fit into the right place for that member. A hand looks ridiculous at the end of a leg. A foot looks ridiculous at the end of an arm. So you have to find out what kind of a member you are and fit into the place that’s appropriate for you.
I want to begin by emphasizing the importance of your calling. Which is directly related to your place. I’d like to read from 2Timothy chapter 1 verse 9. You have to begin with the last word of the previous verse which is “God” and it comes out:
“God, who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling—not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. Which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.”
That’s a tremendous verse. It’s almost unsearchable in its depth. It says God has saved us. Now this applies to those who have been saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have not been saved by faith in Jesus then the next thing you need to do is get saved. But I am speaking this message to those who know what it is to be saved by God through faith in Jesus Christ. “God has saved us” and he doesn’t stop there, and there is no punctuation, it goes straight on, “and called us.” What I want to point out to you today, and this may be new to many of you, is that to be saved is to be called. There is no one who is saved who is not called. There are multitudes of Christians who are saved and don’t know their calling. But it’s not because they’re not called. When you are saved, you are saved to a calling. And you will be frustrated and unfulfilled until you enter into your calling.
I want to point out three wonderful facts about being called of God. First of all, it says our calling is “holy.” It’s something very sacred.
In 1944, which is a long while ago and some of you could hardly imagine that people were alive then, but they were, and I was one of them, in a little medical supply depot in the land of Israel, just north of Haifa, the Lord called me. Absolutely, specifically. Now I’m not saying that God will treat you in exactly the same way He treats me, but I use this as an example. And I’ve never forgotten the words that God spoke to me there. They’re as clear to me today as they were in 1944. He said “I’ve called thee to be a teacher of the scriptures in truth and faith and love which are in Christ Jesus for many.” You heard in the introductory talk that was given, that my radio broadcast today, alone, probably reaches upward of two billion people. When God called me in 1944 I could not have even conceived that such a thing would be possible. It’s not possible because I’m gifted or intelligent or educated. The only reason is stated in 1Thessalonians 5:24:
“Faithful is He who calls you and He also will bring it to pass.”
That’s one of the scriptures I’ve rested on for years. If God calls you and you respond to His call He will be faithful and He will bring it to pass.
As I meditate on those words with which God called me, I see a number of truths that only came out as I began to walk in this life of faith. First of all, God has given me many assignments today. I travel widely. I have a kind of evangelistic ministry. I have a ministry that in some sense is prophetic to nations. But the basis of my whole ministry is what God originally called me to do, to be a teacher of the scriptures. And if I ever get away from my basis, I’m in trouble. I have to begin everything I do by teaching the scriptures. And when I do that I’m like a fish in water. I’m where I ought to be. I have no problem swimming, it’s natural to swim. It’s natural for me to teach the scriptures. I can’t help it. You put me in any place, in any situation, and you’ll find me teaching the scriptures. It’s my life. It’s the thing that God has put in me.
As I look back, I see that God knew me pretty well. And He outlined a kind of progression. Before I was a Christian I was a professor of Philosophy. I was very interested in abstract truth and analysis and reasoning. And so God told me to be a teacher of the scriptures first of all in truth. I was occupied with the truth. I wanted to be exact about everything I said. I wanted to dot every “I” and cross every “T.” But truth by itself doesn’t always help people. I could teach people how things ought to be and what they ought to be but there was a big gap between what I was teaching and what they were experiencing. But then God began to increase my faith. And He began to give me the faith to bring people into what I was teaching. Truth moved on into faith. But then I came to see, and this is a truth I would wish to emphasize, that without love nothing is really effective. The only time we can really bless people in ministry, is when we minister out of love. Anything else really accomplishes very little of permanent value.
By nature I would not describe myself as a loving person. I was an only child, I had no brothers or sisters, I was always successful at school and college. I really didn’t need other people. I learned to go it on my own. And it was hard for me, in a way, to see that other people needed me. Or that I had some responsibility to other people. And it’s taken many, many years of the Lord’s dealings to bring me to the place where I can minister out of love. But today I do. God has given me a real passionate love for people. And the conviction that I can help them. That if they will listen to the word of God it will change them, it will meet their needs. That’s really the basis of my radio ministry. It’s a desire to reach the whole world with the truth that changed my life.
I started to study the Bible as a professor of Philosophy not because I believed it but because I thought it was my philosophic duty to find out what it said. And I was honest enough to admit that I really didn’t know. Well it’s been said somewhere, and I may say it to you again, “Remember this, while you’re reading your Bible, your Bible is reading you.” And after awhile I found out I wasn’t the kind of person I thought I was. I discovered a lot of weaknesses and flaws and inconsistencies in my life and character. I began to see I needed something more than I had. And as a result of that I met the author of the Bible. And that changed me radically, permanently. In one night I became a totally different person. It didn’t make me perfect by any means. But it gave me, in every area of my being, a totally new direction for living.
So that’s my own testimony. That was in 1941, and in 1944, three years later, God called me. Specifically, as I’ve said, to be a teacher of the scriptures. And I believe I could say without being dishonest, that my calling has always been holy to me. It’s very, very special. I give it preeminence, I give it priority. Everything I do is designed to enable me to fulfill my calling. The books I read, the exercise I take, the way I spend my time, my vocation. Everything has as it’s goal to be the best Bible teacher I can be. Ruth sits here in front and nods her head because she knows that is true. And that’s something that troubles me when I see Christians who either don’t know what their calling is or don’t treat their calling as holy.
Many, many years back, even longer back than I’ve told you about, just after Brontosauruses went out of existence, as a young man I became a fan of the ballet. I would sit in the front rows and watch the ballet every time I could. And I also became a fan of one of the famous ballerinas of our century, Margot Fonteyn. I came to know her well as a personal friend, and I—this is in a secular context, but I understand why she became the kind of dancer she did become: because she devoted her whole life to being the best dancer she could be. Everything she did, the exercise she took, the books she read, the friends she cultivated, everything had that one goal: To be the best ballerina that she could be.
And that’s how we ought to treat our calling. Paul uses secular examples. He talks about athletes and all they go through in order to achieve and win their crown. You think of any athlete that competes in the Olympic Games today. In order to get that far he’s had to discipline himself, devote himself. He’s had to tailor his whole life to jumping higher or running faster or swimming farther than anybody else has ever done. And without that dedication he would never make it to the Olympic Games. Paul says these athletes do it to obtain a corruptible crown, a laurel wreath that’s going to wither. But he says we are doing it for an incorruptible crown. So that’s motivation to view your calling as holy. To give it it’s proper priority. To be in a sense ambitious. I believe ambition is a good thing if it’s rightly motivated and directed. A person who has no ambition is probably never going to make much progress in life anywhere. An unmotivated person is really just a disaster.
The second thing that Paul says in this verse is that our calling does not depend on our ability. Not according to our works but according to His purpose and grace. Almost every man in the Bible whom God calls immediately protests, “Lord, I can’t do it.” Think of Moses, “I can’t speak, I’m not eloquent, find somebody else.”
In fact, if when God calls you, you begin to say, “Well, God, I think you’ve chosen the right man, I’ll certainly handle this job,” I doubt that you will. All calling depends on God’s grace not our ability.
I want to give you this assurance that God knows you better than you know yourself. And He calls you to do what he knows He can enable you to do. Provided you depend on His grace. Not on your own ability. Every time we begin to depend on our own ability we get into trouble. How many of you know that? The third glorious fact about our calling is that this purpose and grace of God was given us in Christ before time began. Can your mind conceive that? Before there was a world, before God created anything, He knew you, in Christ He had a plan for you. That was before the world started. See how important you are? Nothing grieves me more than to hear Christians talk about themselves as unimportant or insignificant. There is no such thing as an insignificant Christian. Every one of us is vitally important. God has a special plan and a purpose for every one of us. And it started in eternity. If you go to Romans chapter 8, we won’t turn there, you’ll find out three things that took place in eternity in relation to you:
First of all, God foreknew you.
Secondly, He chose you.
Third, He predestined you. That means He worked out the course that your life was to take.
What I want to tell you this morning is that you were not an accident looking for somewhere to happen. Have you grasped that? I think it would be good if we all said that. I’ll say it first, you say it after me. “I am not an accident looking for somewhere to happen.” Would you say that? Now just to make it more emphatic would you turn to your neighbor on your right and on your left, look them full in the face, and say, “You are not an accident looking for somewhere to happen!” All right, now some of you feel better. Because honestly when you came here this morning you weren’t quite sure that you weren’t an accident looking for somewhere to happen.
All right, let me give you another beautiful scripture, it is on your outline, Ephesians 2:10 which says:
“[of those of us who have received Jesus as Savior]. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has before prepared that we should walk in them.”
We are His workmanship. See, never underestimate yourself because you’re God’s workmanship. If you speak negatively about yourself, you’re criticizing God’s workmanship. The Greek word used there for workmanship poiemagives us the English word “poem.” It suggests a creative masterpiece. We are God’s creative masterpiece. When God wanted to show the whole universe what He could really create, He decided on us. Isn’t that remarkable?
Another thing I see is, to make it even more wonderful, God went to the scrap heap for His material. How many of you know that that’s where you were when God found you? I certainly know that. So we are God’s creative masterpiece, created for something. For what? For good works which God has before prepared for us to walk in. So when God created you in Christ, He had something for you to do. You don’t have to sit down and ponder, “What ought I to do?” What you have to ask is, “God, what do you have for me to do?” There is not a single person here today created in Christ Jesus, for whom God does not have specific good works for you to accomplish.
Some of you heard, and a few of you may have met my first wife Lydia, who’s now with the Lord. Her story is partly told in the book, Appointment in Jerusalem. The key scripture in her whole experience was Ephesians 2:10. She was in a hotel in Stockholm looking down on the people in the street milling to and fro. And she said to herself, “Does it make any difference where they go or where they come from?” And God gave her that verse and she realized that God had created her for a special task which no other person would do. And she said, “God, if you have a special task for me that no other woman can do, I’m ready to do it.” And God gave her a most unusual assignment. She had to give up her position in Denmark as a teacher, go out to Jerusalem without any missionary organization or any church to support her. Took in one little dying Jewish baby, and thus began a children’s home which lasted for twenty years. That’s just one example. She had a special task. We all have a special task. But the principle applies to every one of us.
If I were to ask you this morning, and I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to ask for a response, but I want to ask you, How many of you know what the good works are which God created you? Do you know? You don’t know them all. But do you have at least some direction? Or are you still floundering?
Now, the rest of my teaching this morning will be specifically designed to get you into your place. Now you won’t get there this morning. But if you will listen and act on what I tell you I believe I can promise you on the authority of God’s word, you will get there. It works. The promises of God are not vague. They’re practical.
Let’s turn to Romans chapter 12. The trouble with me when I get into Romans is I can’t get out again. All right we’re going to begin Romans chapter 12 verse 1:
“I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
Some of you have probably heard me say, when you find a “therefore” in the Bible, you want to find out what it’s there for. You’ll notice that this chapter begins with a “therefore.” “I beseech you therefore brethren.” My answer in this case is that the “therefore” is there because of the previous 11 chapters. The previous 11 chapters are the greatest, most perfectly logical and complete unfolding of God’s plan of redemption for humanity. I was, as I said, a professional philosopher, a logician. And I want to bow before the epistles of the Romans and say it is the greatest work of logic that has ever been penned by a human being. And let me tell you, you never need to be defensive or apologetic for telling some intellectual that you believe the Bible. This is the greatest work in the field of reasoning and unfolding logic that has ever been penned by a human being. It is fathomless. You can read it fifty times and every time you’ll find something in it. Why didn’t I see that before?
So the therefore is there because of Romans chapters 1–8 which I have described as the pathway into the spirit-filled life. Romans chapter 8 is your destination. But to get into it you have to go through chapters 1–7. Because every one of those defines a condition you have to meet. The doorway to Romans chapter 8 is in the first verse:
“There is therefore no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus.”
You cannot live in Romans 8, the spirit controlled life, if you’re under condemnation. And really to be free from condemnation you have to go through the previous 7 chapters. Every one of them deals with some issue that can open us up to Satan’s condemnation. But when we’ve been through it, met the conditions, there is therefore now no condemnation. I’m free, I can live the life in the Holy Spirit which is the theme of Romans 8.
Then Romans 9, 10, and 11 deal with God’s dealings with His special chosen people, Israel. That’s an essential part of Romans. It’s not some appendix. Because God’s plan for the redemption of humanity and the establishment of His kingdom on earth cannot be fulfilled without Israel. Therefore that’s totally essential to the theme of Romans. And everything in that, in the first 8 chapters and in chapters 9,10 and 11, brings out the fathomless mercy and grace of God and the total sufficiency of His provision made for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s all speaking about what God has done for us.
And then comes the “therefore.” How are we to respond? What does God ask from us in return for all He has freely done for us and freely given to us? And this blesses me because the Bible is the most down-to-earth book. God doesn’t ask something super-spiritual. He asks something very simple and practical, “Give me your body, put your body on my altar as a living sacrifice.” That’s the reasonable service, the reasonable response of worship in view of what God has done. We are to present our bodies to Him, put them on the altar of His service, and say “Lord, my body belongs to you.”
Now Paul calls it a living sacrifice because he has in mind the sacrifices of the Old Testament: sheep, goats, bullocks and so on, which were killed and placed on the Lord’s altar. He said you have to put your body on the altar just as really as that ox or that sheep or that goat. But, one difference, don’t kill it. God wants a living body.
Now once you’ve placed your body on God’s altar, in total surrender, your body doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to God. You don’t make decisions as to what happens to your body, God does. You don’t decide what kind of job you are going to do with your body, God does. You don’t decide what place you are going to live, God does. But it’s wonderful when He takes the responsibility. And you see you know when you own a property you’re responsible for the maintenance. You know that. If you just live in a rental property, if you only rent it, you’re not responsible. If God just rents us, he doesn’t have any responsibility. But when He owns us, He’s responsible for the maintenance, you understand? It’s wonderful to know your body belongs totally to God. That’s the first step.
The second step is in verse two:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
When you present your body to the Lord, God does something in you that you can’t do for yourself. He renews your mind. You begin to think differently. You have different motives. Different standards. Different priorities. And because you’re thinking differently, inevitably, you live differently. See, God doesn’t transform us from the outside in, He transforms us from the inside out. Basically religion tries to change people by external practices and rules. What you wear, what you eat, what you drink, where you go, what you touch, what you don’t touch. But that doesn’t really change people. Because it’s the inside that matters. God starts from the inside, with your heart, with your mind, with the way you think, with your motives. He says, “If you’ll give me your body I’ll change the way you think. You’ll be renewed in your mind. You’ll have different attitudes, different priorities, different reactions. They’ll be in line with my will.”
And then the third step, with your renewed mind you’ll discover God’s will for your life. You cannot discover God’s will in its totality and its perfection until you’ve presented your body. When you’ve presented your body God will renew your mind. With your renewed mind, you will discover God’s will. Look for a moment, keep your finger in Romans 12 if you’re there, and look for a moment in Romans chapter 8 verses 5–7:
“For those who live according to the flesh, set their minds on the things of the flesh. But those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace, because the carnal mind is enmity against God. For it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.”
The carnal mind is the way we all think by nature as fallen descendants of Adam. It’s our unregenerate way of thinking about ourselves and everything else. Now that is at enmity with God. And God will not reveal His secrets to His enemies, you understand? God will not reveal His plan for your life to your carnal mind. You cannot discover it. But when your mind is renewed by the Holy Spirit through the mercy of God, then you can begin to discover God’s will for your life. And God’s will is in three phases. Good, acceptable and perfect. The further you go in the unfolding of God’s will the better it gets. The first thing you need to realize is that it’s good. God never wills anything bad for any if His children. The devil will try to persuade you that if you surrender your life to God, you’re going to lose an awful lot. Terrible things are going to happen to you, you’re going to have to make awful sacrifices. You’ll never enjoy life again. That’s not true. I made this surrender to God the night I met Jesus in 1941 and I want to tell you my life gets fuller and richer and better and more exciting the longer I live. I could have been a, what would you have called it, a professor at Cambridge University for the rest of my life, but I would have retired 5 years ago with a very moderate pension, and no motivation for living. Here I am, 70 years old, and having the best time of my life. I just want to assure you out of experience, it’s true, God’s will is good. And when you find it it’s acceptable. You wouldn’t turn it down for ever so much. But you have to embrace it in faith. No bargaining. You can’t say, “God, if you let me do this then I’ll accept your will.” God says, “You accept, then I’ll tell you what I’ll let you do.”
And finally, it’s perfect. And I really mean that. God’s final revelation of His will includes every area of your life. Every detail, every situation. There is nothing left out. You see, some of the things that we consider unimportant may be extremely important. So if we think God just concerns Himself with the important things, we can miss God.
In 1963 with my first wife and our adopted African daughter Jesika, we immigrated to the United States by accident. I just came for a visit. But they told me six months was too long to visit. So I said, “Help me, what do I do?” “Well,” he said, “come in and we’ll help you to immigrate.” So I immigrated to this great nation by accident. I never intended to become an American citizen. But it was one of the most important and decisive moves in my whole life. If I hadn’t been led by the Holy Spirit I would have missed it.
You see what I’m saying? There are some decisions I’ve sweated over and prayed over and fasted over, and they turned out to be unimportant. Did that ever happen to you? And others I’ve just said them casually. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than one hour buying a house. I mean it’s just that way. This is the house. What is the price? I’ve bought a number of houses. When Ruth and I go shopping we buy half the store in about half an hour. Because we don’t like shopping. So we do it once and that’s it for the next six months. Every time Ruth goes shopping she prays before she goes, “Lord, let me be in the right store. Let me be in the right place.” It’s amazing, we never study the newspapers to find out where there are sales but we always end up with a bargain. That’s being led, see, by the Holy Spirit. That’s finding God’s will. And don’t underestimate the little things in your life. Because they can be the most significant.
So you find God’s will and you discover it in three stages: Good, acceptable and perfect. Let’s say those three words together. Now we say “Thank you, Lord.”
Now the next stage is in verse 3:
“For I say through the grace given to me to every one who is among you: Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”
All right, now this is not so easy to most of us. This says in my wording, “Be humble and realistic about yourself.” I want to tell you this, if you’re going to be realistic about yourself you have to be humble. Because when you are really faced with the facts about yourself it’s very humbling. The only thing that keeps us from seeing the truth about ourselves is pride. We look in the mirror and we say impossible. That’s not the way I really look. But it is. So, we’ve got to learn to be humble.
Now, being humble is not feeling humble. God never says feel humble. He says be humble. Humility is not a feeling it’s a decision. You can make it. Jesus gave a good example. He said, “When you are invited to a banquet, my advice is, don’t go sit down at the head table. Because the invited chief speaker will come along and you’ll be moved down. That will be embarrassing. So when you get to a banquet sit at the lowest table. There’s only one way you can go from that and that is up.” You know what John Bunyan said in his beautiful little poem, “He that is down need fear no fall. He that is low, no pride. He that is humble ever shall have God to be his guide.”
See when you are on the floor you can’t go any lower. And humility always involves a decision. A decision about yourself, a decision about where you’ll sit, a decision about how you’ll relate to people. So Paul says don’t think too highly about yourself. The first day you walk into the bank for a job don’t ask to be the president of the bank. When you view yourself and your potential ministry don’t start by being an apostle. Understand? Start by being humble. A servant, lowly, teachable. God will see to your promotion. Jesus said, “Everyone that exalts himself shall be humbled. But everyone that humbles himself shall be exalted.” You choose. If you exalt yourself you’ll be humbled. But if you humble yourself you’ll be exalted. It’s your choice. Whatever situation it might be.
So be sober, be realistic. Look in the mirror of God’s word. Which is a mirror. And let it show you what you’re really like. It can be a shock at first. But if you’ll act on what you see, as James says, and not be a forgetful hearer but a doer of the deeds, God will bless you. The next time you look in the mirror you’ll be amazed at the transformation. But that comes from being humble. Be realistic about yourself. I think with young people there is always a tendency for fantasizing. Which is not altogether bad. I think it’s something that people go through especially in the teens. But it becomes awfully dangerous to live in a world of fantasy. I’ve known many, many, young people that couldn’t distinguish between reality and fantasy.
I was impressed by the fact that recently some magazine held a poll of the most influential Americans, I think it was 11 people picked out, one was President Reagan, most of them were influential people, one was Mother Teresa of Calcutta. As far as I can remember, all the others were in the performing arts. And I thought to myself, what an indication of the generation in which we live. That they cannot distinguish between reality and a show. Most of those people have got nothing to show for their lives. It’s just an act. That’s very dangerous.
We’ve got to come down to earth and be very, very realistic. Face facts. I am overweight. O.K. Face the fact. I do tell lies. Face the fact. I am envious of other people. Face the fact. Be sober, Because God’s willing to help you. But only on the basis of truth. Have you ever discovered that God brings you to the moment of truth before He really helps you? Just when you’ve given up on yourself God says, “No, I’m ready to help you. Now you see that you really need my grace. Before that you thought you could handle it on your own. You can’t.” When you’re humble and realistic about yourself you make a wonderful discovery.
We’re going on now. At the end of verse 3:
“...but to think soberly as God has dealt each one a measure of faith.”
This is the next unfolding. The next step on your journey to your place. You discover that God has given you a specific measure of faith. To each one of us. I think there’s nothing more embarrassing than people who claim to have a lot more faith than they have. And always it leads them to disaster sooner or later. Faith is real. It’s not just talk. The writer of Hebrews says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.” It’s a substance. Either you have it or you don’t have it. Talking about it won’t give it to you. You say, “Well, God, I don’t have enough faith.” God says there are ways you can increase your faith. Romans 10:17:
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
I remember very vividly shortly after I was saved when I was serving with the British forces in the Middle East, in North Africa. I spent a year on end in a hospital. With a condition that the doctors were not able to cure. And in that condition I kept saying to myself, I know if I had faith God would heal me. The next thing I always said was, but I don’t have faith. And when I said that I was in what John Bunyan calls the Slough of Despond, the valley of despair.
One day a brilliant ray of light pierced the darkness of the valley. You know what it was? Romans 10:17: “So then faith cometh.” If you don’t have it you can get it. It comes. How? By hearing the word of God. Not by a lot of bragging. Not by a lot of super-spiritual talk.
I remember years ago I called some people forward in a church in Copenhagen in Denmark for prayer. And I was going to anoint them with oil because they were sick. And I said to this man, “Do you have faith?” He said I have all the faith in the world. I thought if you have all the faith in the world what do you mean by being sick? I knew he wouldn’t get healed. I mean I just knew. Nothing happened. He just had head faith. He didn’t have substance. He was talking but he didn’t have the reality.
Jesus said if you have grain of a mustard seed you can move a mountain. It’s not so much the quantity of your faith, it’s the quality of your faith. Faith is given to the realistic and the humble. Now why does God give you a specific measure of faith? Here’s a key to your development. Because He has a specific place for you in the body, He has ordained you to be a specific member of the body of Christ. And the faith He has given you is designed for your position in the body. If God wants you to be a hand, He’ll give you hand faith. If He wants you to be an ear, He’ll give you ear faith. If He wants you to be a toe, He’ll give you toe faith. But you see, if you are a toe and you’re trying to be a nose, you’re all out of whack. There’s a complete imbalance between what you’re trying to do and the faith you have. The reason is not because you don’t have enough faith, the reason is because you are trying to use your faith for something for which it wasn’t given. It was given for the job and the place you have in the body. My hand does a wonderful job as a hand. It opens my Bible, turns the pages. Does everything I ask of it, more or less. But if I tried to do those jobs with my foot, I’d be in trouble. Understand? You can almost always conclude that if a person is always struggling for faith, their trying to do the wrong job. They’re a hand trying to be a foot. Or a foot trying to be a hand. This is God’s way of guiding you into your place. I’m not an expert on telecommunications, but, to me, it’s like the radar that brings the plane down to land in the right place. Your faith fits the place God has for you. And then you’re not always struggling.
I remember God, (well I should reserve this example for the next set. Let us go on.)
When you’ve discovered your place, when you’ve discovered what kind of a member you are, and bear in mind none of us is sufficient on our own. Every one of us is a member of the body and we’re members of one another. Like if you’re a finger, you’ve got to find the hand you should be attached to. Isn’t that so? And you can’t be a finger out here in space. You’ve got to be attached to a hand, if you’re a hand you’ve got to be attached to an arm. You understand? One of the big problems about American evangelical Christianity is the excess of individualism. It’s always “I.” I have a series of messages on Hebrews, the 12 “let us” passages in Hebrews. Twelve times the writer of Hebrews says “let us.” He doesn’t say “let me.” He says “let us.” It’s a corporate decision. Corporate action. There are many, many things we can never achieve on our own. We have to find our place in the body.
Now we are coming to the exciting part that everybody wants. Let’s read on. I’ll read verses 4,5 and following:
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we being many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. [Now this is where everyone gets excited:] Having then gifts [charismata, here’s your exciting word, everybody’s taken up with] according to the grace that is given to us.”
Let us use them. You understand that just to seek for gifts in the abstract, out of context, is foolish. How do you know what gifts you need? What does determine it? Your place in the body. If you’re a hand you need hand gifts. If you’re an eye you need eye gifts. If you’re a leg you need leg gifts. Your gifts are determined by your place in the body. Just to seek for gifts in the abstract is unrealistic. It’s not being sober-minded. A good many years ago now, not by my request, but rather against my will, the Lord thrust me into the ministry of driving demons out of people. Which made me notorious and either popular or unpopular. The strange thing is I became unpopular with the people I had always been with and popular with people I never thought would ever love me like the Catholics. That was just one of those anomalies. But when this happened I discovered gifts. I remember a friend of mine brought his sister, said she needs deliverance. My first wife was there with me, we were sitting in a hotel room, and I looked at this woman and I said, “You need deliverance from (and I named about 8 evil spirits).” Then I said to myself, “How did I know to do that?” Well later on I realized the Lord had given me a word of knowledge. But He didn’t give me a word of knowledge out of the blue. He gave me a word of knowledge when I was in His will and in a situation where I needed a word of knowledge. Because I was doing the ministry He had called me to do. So it is with you. You can absolutely trust that God will give you the gifts you need for the job He has called you to do. But don’t detach your gifts from your job. There’s always another one to face. I mean you don’t have it made before you do it.
I remember the first time I prayed for a sick person to be healed, he was a Moslem. In the Sudan. I’d never seen anybody lay hands on the sick. But I knew it was in the Bible. So I said, “Do you want me to pray for you?”
He said, “Yes.”
I said, “I’m going to pray in the name of Jesus.”
He said, “That’s all right.”
I mean I handled him like he was a bomb about to explode. I stood at a safe distance, put my hands on him, said a very formal prayer, said, “In the name of Jesus.” He had a sore on his foot that wouldn’t heal. A week later he came back to me and showed me his foot and it was healed. I don’t think he was more surprised than I was. But I mean I got going, understand? I began to move. I was in the place of God’s appointment. I was doing the job God had put me to do. And here was the situation. There’s no way you can rule out faith. You cannot know it all before it happens. In fact, as a general rule, miracles happen when you need them most. When there is nothing else that can help you, God comes up with a miracle.
Now we’re coming to the end of this teaching, let me very quickly capitulate 7 steps into your place.
First of all, present your body a living sacrifice.
Second, be renewed in your mind.
Third, with your renewed mind, discover God’s will in three stages. Good, acceptable and perfect.
Four, be humble and realistic about yourself.
Five, recognize your God-given measure of faith.
Six, this will fit your appointed place in the body as a glove fits a hand.
And seven, when you find your place and you’re there, begin in faith to exercise your appropriate gifts. The gifts that go with the job God has given you to do.
Now God told me years ago, that he didn’t call me to deliver religious lectures. And he challenged me that every time I spoke about anything practical to God’s people, I should give them an opportunity to respond practically. And I want to do that as we close this message now. I want to challenge you. Some of you have listened to this teaching and you’ve followed with your minds but your bodies you’ve left behind. Because you have never placed your body on God’s altar as a living sacrifice. You’ve never said, “God here I am, my body belongs to you, take it and do what you will with me. I’ll go where you’ll send me. I’ll do what you tell me. You make the decisions I’ll carry them out.” That’s presenting your body as a living sacrifice. It’s the gateway. Otherwise you can listen to sermons but you’ll never get there. Because that’s the gate.
Now if you’ve never done that, and many of you have I know or you wouldn’t be here, but if there are some of you that have never done that and you would like to do it here today, I want to help you. I’ll give you a prayer that you can pray and make this decision. If you want to make this decision and you’ve never made it, you want to present your body to the Lord today. You want to lay it at His altar and say, “Here I am Lord, do what you will with me,” would you stand up please? This can be a very significant day for the rest of your life. I want you to say these simple words of prayer. Following me sentence by sentence. You’re praying to the Lord Jesus the head of the church. Your Savior. Say these words:
“Lord Jesus Christ. I thank you that on the cross you died for me that I might be forgiven and receive eternal life, become a child of God. And now Lord I come to you as the head over the church. I ask you to put me in my place in the body and I put my body now Lord, on the altar of your service. I give myself to you, without reservation. From this day forward my body belongs to you. It will go where you tell it to go. It will do what you tell it to do. It will go where you tell it to go. It will say what you tell it to say. It will serve in any way you tell it to serve. Thank you Lord for receiving me. Only because I come to you through the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.”