This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
I believe this is a message which is important for every Christian. There are some messages from the word of God which only concern certain people but I believe this message, “How To Find Your Place,” is of the greatest importance for every Christian. I believe the lack of understanding about this message often leads to great frustration in the lives of Christians. So, I just trust that God will enable me to present this truth in such a way that you’ll be able to receive it and apply it whatever way is appropriate in your own life.
I want to begin with a scripture from 2 Timothy 1:9. We have to read the last word of verse 8 which is God, and then we go on with verse 9.
“...God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our own works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.”
So that scripture says that if you are saved you are also called. Let me ask you a question tonight. Ponder on it for a moment and then respond. How many of you here tonight know that you are saved? All right. Now if I were to ask how many of you know that you are called—all right, how many of you are called? That’s a good response. The fact of the matter is that many, many Christians who know that they are saved do not know that they are also called. If you are saved you are called. You may not know it but you are called because when God saves us He also calls us.
And, Paul says with a holy calling. It’s very important to understand that God has a calling for you which is holy. It is something that you need to treat with the greatest reverence and respect. It is a treasure, it’s more valuable than any earthly treasure that you can ever possess.
I remember when God specifically revealed His calling to me. I was saved as a soldier in the British Army in 1941. Then the army sent me to the Middle East and I was there for the rest of my military service, four and a half years. In due course the army took me to the country that was then called Palestine which is now Israel. And there in what was then a little kind of settlement, it’s now quite a major populated area called Kireat Mostskin, north of Haifa, one day I was walking up and down amidst a lot of bales of medical supplies because I was in the medical corps and they were storing medical supplies, ready to take them to Europe when Europe should be liberated from the Nazis. I was just walking up and down between these bales and the Spirit of God came on me and I spoke very clearly and forcefully in an unknown tongue. And then God gave me in English the interpretation of what I’d said in the unknown tongue. This was not the first time that it had happened.
I would like to say in general God has spoken to me this way probably, over the years, several hundred times. And, I cannot recall a single time that it was not absolutely accurate. I have discovered that if we will hear the voice of God and let Him speak to us, He speaks with total accuracy. And this time the Lord said this—and He usually but not always speaks in what I call King James English, which is very elegant English, much more elegant than our modern English. Also, much more specific. One reason being that in King James English, Elizabethan English, we have singular and plural for you. Thou is singular, ye is plural. And sometimes it’s very important to know whether it is singular or plural. It was for me in this case. God said to me, “I have called thee to be a teacher of the scriptures in truth and faith and love, which are in Christ Jesus for many.” Now, that was 45 years ago and as I look back on the 45 years that have elapsed since then I have to say every word of that has proved totally correct. And, in those days I could never have had any idea of how many the many would be.
I suppose today through the grace of God my ministry by radio, in cassettes, in the printed word and in my personal ministry, reaches millions every day. I don’t think that’s an exaggeration because it reaches mainland China seven times in four dialects every 24 hours. It reaches Soviet Russia in Russian two or three times every 24 hours. It reaches much of the English speaking world in English. It also reaches Central and South America in Spanish. That’s the radio. My books and cassettes are in more than 100 nations in the hands of leaders and teachers. And then there are the people that Ruth and I minister to personally. But I suppose we only see two percent of all the people who are reached by my ministry.
Now, if God had told me in 1944 that I would be reaching millions every day I think I would have said it just couldn’t happen. Because, in those days they didn’t have the means of communication. Radio was not yet fully developed, there were no tape recorders and there was no television. And in general, communication was very limited. But God knew in advance what it would be. And so He declared to me then the central thrust of my ministry, which is to be a teacher of the scriptures. Everything else in my ministry has been built on that foundation of teaching the scriptures.
God has given me other ministries. I have a ministry of healing, ministry of delivering people from evil spirits, and so on. But everything is based on the teaching of the word of God. And if I ever get away from teaching God’s word I get into trouble. Actually, you probably heard the saying “a duck in water.” When I’m teaching the Bible I’m like a duck in water. I mean, I’m absolutely free, I’m in my element. But you take a duck out of water and put it on land and it looks very clumsy. And that’s how I am if I ever get out of the scope of my ministry. And I give you this as an example because it’s true in some measure for every Christian. In your ministry, in your calling, you’re like a duck in water. When you get out of your calling, if you’re not in your calling, you’re like a duck on land. A duck waddles on land, it’s clumsy. You look at it and wonder how it could ever get around. But once it gets into the water it’s altogether different. And that’s why it’s so important for every one of us to know the area in which we are called.
Another thing that I would bring out in those words that God spoke to me, He said, “in truth and in faith and love.” And that again has proved progressive. Before I was saved I was a philosopher, I was a logician, I was a reasoner. So the first thing that I grasped in the scripture was truth. And I sought to find the truth and fit the truth together and see what I would call the intellectual framework. But, people used to tell me I was very hard to approach. I was distant, I just presented truth and let people help themselves.
And also, truth really can sometimes frustrate you if you can’t receive it with faith. Because, you can see what you could be but you can’t appropriate it. So God led me into a place where I could minister in faith and I could minister in faith to the people to whom I ministered truth so that they were then able by faith to apprehend and apply the truth.
But that wasn’t the end because the end of the commandment, as it says in 1 Timothy 1:5–6, is love. And basically I have learned that we really cannot help people in the Christian life unless we love them. If you don’t love people you can’t really do much for them. And I have to give God the glory that gradually He has melted my somewhat austere, military, British exterior and today I really love people. I love you people. I look at your with the love of God. I long for the best for every one of you whether I’ve ever known you personally or not. My desire is that you should be all that you can be in Christ.
So I just give that as an example of the faithfulness of God in respect of calling. Now you don’t probably have the same calling as I do but you have a specific calling from God. And you will never be really satisfied, you’ll never be a duck in water, until you’re in your calling. There are many, many different callings.
Going back to 1 Timothy 1:9, we find it’s even more exciting. It says:
“...God has saved us and called us with a holy calling...”
I want to emphasize that your calling is holy. Once I realized what God had called me to be I made up my mind that I, by His grace, would be the best teacher of the scriptures that I could be, not comparing myself with any other teacher. And for well over 40 years my life has been shaped by my desire to be able to teach the scriptures the best that I can. One of the things that I have done is discipline my mind. I am very, very careful what I let into my mind. Basically, I hardly ever read anything unless I feel God wants me to read it. Before I was saved I read hundreds of books in various languages. But I’m not that way now. I very seldom look at a newspaper. If I want to find out what’s going on in the world my wife Ruth and I have made up our minds the best way is to buy a weekly news magazine. I don’t want to advertise any one particularly on television but there are two or three magazines. You see, if you try to find the news by watching television, you waste a whole lot of time. I don’t know whether you have commercial television here. You’ve got to sit through a lot of advertisements. And, a lot of news is news that’s absolutely unimportant one week later. You might just as well have never heard it. I don’t want to waste time. For me time is extremely precious. And so I try to store my mind only with the things that will enable me to teach the Bible with clarity. If I have one ambition it’s to be clear. And sometimes I’ve worked at it for years. There are truths in the Bible that were very confusing to me years ago but I have plowed away at it, worked at it, whittled it down, until in most cases now what I teach I’m able to teach with simplicity and with clarity. My aim is not to confuse people. Sometimes at the end of a sermon somebody will come to me and say, “Brother Prince, that was a deep message.” And I say, “Lord, what did I do wrong now?” I don’t have any aim to be profound in the usual sense of the word. My aim is to be simple.
People have said sometimes about me that when I teach they think why didn’t I ever know that, because it’s obvious. That’s my aim. I would like everybody to go out of a meeting saying what he said was absolutely obvious. I have no higher ambition than that.
So I’ve disciplined myself. Let me give you an example from athletics. Any athlete today that wants to compete in the world Olympics has got to discipline himself or herself. Such an athlete has to be very careful about what they eat, about the way they spend their time, the exercise they take, the things they read, they’ve got to build up a positive attitude in their minds. They’ve got to go into that competition believing they can succeed.
I was a very close friend in my early years with one of the most famous ballerinas of our century. Anybody who knows about the ballet, her name is Margot Fontaine. I was a close friend of hers when she was an unknown dancer. I consider her to be the most successful ballerina of this century. That’s in my judgment. But I’m not surprised because I know how seriously she took her dancing. There were other ballerinas in the same company that perhaps had the same ability but they didn’t have the same dedication. I’m not encouraging you to go in to the ballet but what I’m trying to show you is if you want to succeed you’ve got to discipline yourself, you’ve got to order your priorities, you’ve got to eliminate a lot of things out of your life which are non-essential.
So, it’s a holy calling. I wonder if you understand that. I mean, it’s not to be played with, it’s not to be bartered for anything else. It’s holy.
And then Paul goes on here in 1 Timothy 1:9:
“...has called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before time began.”
That’s an exciting statement. Before anything was ever created, before God ever set time in motion, He knew what He was going to do, He knew you would be born, He knew you would become a believer and He had a plan for your life. I tell people you are not an accident looking for somewhere to happen. There’s a divine plan and purpose for every believer which didn’t start in time; it started before creation. God foreknew us. The scripture says He predestined us. That means He arranged the course that our life was to take and He had a specific plan and purpose for every one of us.
And then it says it’s not according to our works. It’s not according to what we can do. It’s not according, necessarily, to what we have been trained to do. I think I can illustrate this from my own case. I was an only child, I never had brothers or sisters. Girls were a very strange race to me. I didn’t understand them. I mean, I had girlfriends but that’s different. You can have a girlfriend without understanding girls! And, you know, I was intellectually very successful. So you’d think God would have me to be a professor in some college or something like that. When I discovered my calling I married a lady who had a children’s home with eight girls in it and I became a father to eight girls in one day! You couldn’t think of anybody less naturally qualified for that position than me. See? Basically God tends to put us in a position for which we’re not qualified. That’s not always true. The reason being, He doesn’t want us to rely on our own ability. It’s not according to our works but it’s according to His grace. You think of some of the most successful servants of God throughout the centuries, they’ve been weak people. Often people with few qualifications who’ve been put in places of danger and difficulty. You wouldn’t ever imagine that they would succeed. But you see, the thing about grace is this. Grace cannot be earned. You’ll never achieve grace by working for it. Works and grace are mutually exclusive. I explain it this way. Grace begins where human ability ends. If you can do it by yourself, why should God give you His grace? But when you come to the place where God wants you to do something and you can’t do it, then you have to depend on His grace. And that’s what God wants us to do.
So let me read that verse again. I didn’t intend to spend more than about two minutes on it but anyhow, here we are.
“...God 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.”
If you can just begin to grasp that it will give you a sense of being important. Not that you become conceited but that you realize you’re part of a tremendous plan which God conceived before He created anything.
One of the greatest problems with people in the world today is low self-esteem. They don’t think they’re worth much. And I would have to say a person with low self-esteem is unlikely to make the best of life. And I believe a Christian should never have that problem. Let me explain two reasons. First, the one I’ve given. If you’re a Christian you’re part of an eternal plan. You have a special job, you have a special calling—one that nobody else has. You have a responsibility that no one else can carry out.
And then secondly, you know how to find out how much you’re worth? I’ll tell you. Right now my wife and I are in the middle of selling a house. Let’s say we were told, which we were when we bought it, that it was worth 55,000 U.S. dollars. When we tried to sell it we discovered nobody would pay 55,000 U.S. dollars for it. So we are happy to get fifty. Now, what’s the house worth? It’s worth what someone will pay for it. You can put any price tag you like on something you want to sell but it’s worth what someone will pay, no more.
Now, you are worth what God was willing to pay for you. What did He pay for you? He redeemed you with what? The precious blood of Jesus Christ, something that is infinitely valuable, something on which you can put no price tag. And if you can grasp that fact that God was willing to pay the blood of His Son to redeem you, you’ll never have a problem with self-worth again because you’re worth what God was willing to pay for you. See that?
I’m sure you didn’t see that because I look at your faces and you’ve got a kind of look of surprise on your face. Well, try to digest it. Try to absorb it. Meditate on it. Read it over and over again until it becomes real to you. You see, God’s word is a mirror. And if you want to know what you’re really like inside you have to look in the mirror. The first time you look in the mirror it’s horrible. You discover you’re a sinner, you’re defiled, your garments are horribly unclean. But if you’re wise and you act on what God shows you, you repent and trust Jesus for salvation, you’re cleansed, you’re washed, you’re sanctified. God takes away your filthy garments and clothes you with a garment of salvation and a robe of righteousness. And next time you look in the mirror you’re astonished. You don’t ever see that old person, you see somebody quite different. You, changed, transformed, wearing a garment of salvation and a spotless robe of righteousness. But that’s only the beginning because God intends to go on changing you.
I didn’t intend to look at this scripture but look for a moment at 2 Corinthians 3:18, if I remember rightly.
“But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror...”
What’s the mirror? The word of God.
“...the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
You see, if you want the Spirit of the Lord to transform you, you’ve got to keep looking in the mirror. If you look away from the mirror the Spirit of God no longer works on you. He only works on you when you’re looking in the mirror. But if you go on looking in the mirror and yielding to the Spirit of God you see glory. That’s for you. And you think that’s wonderful. The next time you look you’ve been moved from glory to glory. It’s progressive, you understand?
The problem with most Christians who have a low sense of self-worth is they don’t spend enough time looking in the mirror. They spend a lot of time looking in the physical mirror and they’re not always satisfied with what they see. But they don’t spend time looking in the spiritual mirror which is very satisfying if you yield to the Spirit of God.
And really, there are no limits. We are continually being transformed from glory to glory to glory to glory. Indefinitely.
Now let’s turn to Ephesians 2:8–10, which was the passage that Ruth and I proclaimed.
“For by grace we have been saved through faith; and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God...”
I understand that to mean we didn’t get the faith, God gave us the faith. He gave us the faith to be saved. I know when I was confronted with the gospel I realized two things. I couldn’t understand the gospel and I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to understand and I wanted to believe. But God brought me to a place where when I did understand and I did believe I realized God had given me the understanding, God had given me the faith. I had no thing to boast about. It didn’t proceed out of myself, it was given me by God’s grace.
And then it says:
“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
That’s a wonderful scripture. It doesn’t fully come out in the English translation. The word that’s translated workmanship in Greek is poeima. And it’s the word from which we get the English word poem. So, we’re God’s poem. We’re not just something He manufactured but we’re His creative masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus.
And then what really blesses me when I meditate on this is when God wanted to show the universe what He could create, to display His creative ability to the whole universe—and all of it had been created by Him—just to prove what He could do He went to the scrap heap for His material. And that’s where He found you and me, on the scrap heap. Is that right? At least I know where I was. And God said, “You want to see what I can do with scrap material? This is going to be the crown of all my creative genius. It’s the church of Jesus Christ, the bride of Jesus Christ.” That’s what we are. We’re His poem, we’re His creative masterpiece. And we’re created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. That brings out the same truth as 1 Timothy 1:9. We don’t have to decide what we’re going to do. We don’t have to fashion a career for ourselves. We have to find out what are the good works which God prepared beforehand for us to walk in.
You see, I’ve seen Christians take two different courses. Some of them, they’re saved but they’re personally ambitious and they want to make something of themselves in this world. So they go about the ordinary way, they get education and so on. They work hard at it and they become something. But it probably isn’t what God intended them to be.
And then there are other Christians who abandon themselves to God. They give up their personal ambitions. They say, “God, make me what you want.” I don’t want to boast but in a certain sense when I married my first wife and became father to those eight girls, I renounced a very promising university career. The leader of my college told me that within a few years I’d get such and such positions. And really, I was set for success, if you know the British educational system. Before World War II if you had become a fellow at King’s College, Cambridge at the age of 24, you had it made. And a lot of people, some of my friends, thought I was just throwing my life away to give all that up and just take responsibility for eight girls.
Well, if I’d gone back to Cambridge and got the position that maybe I could have got, I would have had to retire at age 65, if not sooner, with a very minimal pension. Here I am age 74, I’m not even thinking of retiring. I’m traveling the world, I’m doing the thing that I enjoy most. I’m seeing lives continually changed. Why should I give that up for the sake of some little career at a university? See what I’m saying?
You’ve all heard, I’m sure, of David Livingstone, the missionary who really opened up Africa, who is a world famous name. He became a doctor but then went to Africa. His brother also became a doctor. So when David went to Africa his brother thought he was doing totally the wrong thing. The brother said, “I don’t want that kind of life. I want to make a name for myself.” Today in the British encyclopedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, David’s brother has one line stating he’s the brother of David Livingstone. David has sixteen paragraphs!
You see, in the long run it always pays to trust God. There’ll always be a step of faith. You’ll always have to give up something. Jesus said you have to give up your own life but if you lose your own life you’ll find the life that God has for you, which is exciting, it’s challenging. I don’t for a moment suggest that you’ll have the same kind of life that I had but you will have a life that will be rich and exciting and challenging. And when you come to the end of your life you won’t look back on many, many years that have produced nothing of permanent value, you’ll have fruit that will endure for eternity. So, bear in mind you are God’s workmanship, created for something special that He has for you to do. And you will never find full satisfaction until you discover that special something. My aim is to help you.
I believe the best place to turn to in the Bible for the step to discover what God wants you to be is Romans 12, the first 8 verses. And we’ll look through these systematically. Romans 12:1–8. Paul begins:
“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.”
The first line contains the word therefore. I am always telling people—and some of you have heard me say it—when you find a therefore in the Bible you want to find out what it’s there for. So, I want to tell you what the therefore is there for in verse 1 of chapter 12. The previous 11 chapters have been the most wonderful exposition, in my opinion, the greatest masterpiece of logic in language, by which Paul has unfolded the eternal plan of God for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. He’s dealt with it in many different aspects. Also in chapters 9, 10 and 11 he has particularly unfolded God’s plan to deal with Israel. Now he’s dealt with the theology and I want to point out to you that the New Testament never presents mere theology. It always challenges us to apply the truth in our lives in a practical way. So that’s where the therefore comes in. Paul says in the light of all that God has done for us, of all His grace and mercy, what is our appropriate response? And now he tells us.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, that...”
Now, I love this passage because I was a philosopher and I know how complicated philosophy can be, how involved. And a lot of theology is just philosophy with religious language. If Paul had been an average theologian he’d have come out with a lot of complicated long sounding words. But, he didn’t. He came down to what Americans call the nitty-gritty. And what is it? It’s what you do with your body. So in the light of all this glorious truth Paul says now, I want you to put your body on God’s altar as a living sacrifice. So it’s essentially what you do with your body that’s going to determine your success in life.
Why does Paul say a living sacrifice? Because he’s contrasting it with the sacrifices of the Old Testament where the animal sacrificed was placed on the altar but it was dead. He says I want you to put yourself just as really on the altar of God but alive, not dead. So that’s the response that God requires, is that we give ourselves unreservedly to God as a sacrifice. We put ourselves on the altar.
Jesus, in His teaching to the Pharisees, pointed out to them that the sacrifice didn’t sanctify the altar but the altar sanctified the sacrifice that was placed upon it. To sanctify means to make holy.
I don’t need to go into your background but many of you in the course of your lives up to this point have been involved in things that were impure and sinful and unholy. Basically, that’s the major problem of the younger generation in the world today, they’ve been involved in sexual immorality, drugs, the occult. Maybe by God’s grace that doesn’t apply to some of you. But suppose such a person gets wonderfully saved by Jesus. Is there any possibility that a body that’s been defiled by sin and evil practices can ever become holy? The answer is yes but only in one way. If you place your body on the altar the altar will sanctify what’s placed on it. There’s no other way that you can have a holy body in the light of all that you’ve been through, some of you.
And suppose you’re not married and you meet another Christian and you want to marry. Marriage is a union of two bodies. Can you come together with holy bodies? Yes, if you’ve placed your bodies on God’s altar. It’s marvelous.
When I think of my own background and I don’t need to go into any details, I could look back on so many things that I wish I’d never done. But I don’t have to spend the rest of my life regretting what I did. All I have to do is put my body on the altar and let the altar take care of the past. The altar sanctifies the sacrifice. Shall we say that together?
“The altar sanctifies the sacrifice.”
Good, thank you. So that’s the first thing.
And then Paul says that your sacrifice will be acceptable to God and it’s your reasonable service. It’s the least you can do in view of what God has done for you. You see, the first great sacrifice in the Christian life was offered by who? Who offered the first great sacrifice? Jesus, that’s right. He gave His body on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. He bore our sins in His own body on the tree that we, being dead to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose wounds you were healed. Now, if we follow in the steps of Jesus we will come to the place where God asks us to put our body on the altar. Not in literal crucifixion but in a total surrender to God where you say, “God, now my body is yours. I don’t control it, I don’t choose what happens to it. It belongs to you. From now on I don’t decide the work I do, the clothes I wear, the food I eat. All that’s your responsibility because I’ve given my body to you.”
And then Paul goes on in verse 2:
“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...”
You cannot renew your own mind. But when you present your body and make that surrender, God moves in and begins to transform the way you think and you are renewed in your mind. Basically the difference between your natural way of thinking, your unrenewed mind, and the mind that God will give you through the Holy Spirit is that your mind is self-centered. The renewed mind is God centered. In the natural we all say what will I get out of this? With the renewed mind we say what will God get out of this? Will this glorify God? Will this please God? Paul says when your mind is renewed then you will be able to prove, to find out in experience:
“...what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
You see, without your mind being renewed you cannot find God’s will. God has a plan for you but you can’t find it. The first step is present your body and let God renew your mind. And with your renewed mind you can find out God’s will.
And, it’s progressive. It’s good, acceptable and perfect. It’s good. God never willed anything evil for any of His children. You can trust God, He knows better what is good for you than you.
Second, it’s acceptable. The more you discover it the more you are pleased with it.
And finally, it’s perfect. This is an astonishing fact but God’s perfect will includes every detail of our lives, there is nothing left out.
As I continue to walk with the Lord I’m surprised from time to time by the fact that God has arranged every tiny detail of our lives. I find myself in a situation sometimes I didn’t plan. I look around and I say, “God, you arranged that. I didn’t even think about it.” Ruth and I travel so much, we’re always staying in hotels. But we’ve learned to pray, “God, put us in the right hotel, in the right room, and let everything be the way you want it.” We travel so much by airplanes, we always pray, “Lord, let us travel in the right airplane. Let us sit in the right seat.”
It makes a difference what side of the street you walk on. Did you know that? I think I told you I have an adopted African daughter. About four years ago she came to spend time with Ruth and me in our home in Jerusalem. One afternoon she said she wanted to go down to the center of Jerusalem. She described to us she was walking on one side of the street and she felt prompted just to cross the street, she didn’t know why. A minute or two later she ran into a couple who were old friends of hers who knew she was in Jerusalem and had been praying that they might meet her. See? God arranged that.
There are no accidents in the Christian life. Everything is beautifully planned by God. If you could see heaven’s computer it would astonish you. There is nothing that isn’t programmed on it. That’s a metaphor, you understand!
We’re going on. Verse 3, Paul says:
“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.”
Your renewed mind will cause you to be realistic. Sober. You see, I’ve discovered that the Holy Spirit is the greatest realist on earth. He’s never sentimental, He never exaggerates, He never misrepresents. He tells it like it is. Now, some of us when we start the Christian life we may have great ambitions. I’m going to be an apostle, I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that. Paul says be careful. Don’t let your imagination run away with you. Be realistic. Find out just how much faith God has given you because your faith will determine what you’re going to do for God. But, if you walk in the faith that you have faithfully, God will increase your faith.
You see, if you wanted to be employed by a bank in Singapore, you’re a young man or young lady, you wouldn’t walk in and apply to be president of the bank. That would be unrealistic. You’d possibly be quite grateful for a job just emptying wastepaper baskets.
But, I’ll tell you, this is a true story. This is about a young man in Germany who got into the drug culture and his mind was absolutely wrecked with drugs. Then he met Jesus and was wonderfully saved and a Christian pastor took him into his home to rehabilitate him. The teaching of the pastor was very simple: Whatever you do, ask Jesus to help you and do your best. And I mean, he was unemployable, nobody would employ him. But eventually he got a job, I think in some manufacturing firm. And all he was doing was emptying the baskets and taking the trash out. But his method was, “Jesus, help me. I’ll do my best.”
And you know, the Bible says a faithful man, who can find? The only qualification he had was faithfulness. So after awhile he got promoted. And then he got promoted and then he was doing quite a responsible job. And then he thought now I need more education because the Germans really believe in education. I need special training. So he went to see his boss and said, “I think I’m going to leave and get some special training.” And his boss said, “You can’t leave. You’re the only man in this business I can trust! Stay with me and I’ll train you to take over the business.”
That’s just the result of faithfulness, you see? Doing what you’re placed to do.
So, Paul says be realistic. Don’t expect to be the president the first day. But whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord and ask Jesus to help you.
And then he goes on to say—and now this is very important, this is really the climax of what I want to say. He speaks about the body of Christ; that is, all believers. We’re all individual members of one body. And you cannot find fulfillment on your own. A lot of Christians make that mistake. In order to find fulfillment you’ve got to find your place in the body and take your place. You can’t be just a little finger wiggling on your own. You’ve got to be attached to a hand which is attached to an arm which is attached to a body. See that? So the essence of finding your place is finding your place in the body of Christ. And so Paul goes on now:
“For as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
So each one of us is an individual member but we’re all part of one body. And what Paul is saying is if you’ll present your body, be renewed in your mind, be realistic about your faith, start where God puts you; you can find your particular place in the body, you can find your particular job. And then you will discover that the faith that God has given you is the faith you need for that job.
You see, a lot of Christians are always struggling for faith. My observation is in most cases it’s because they’re trying to do the wrong job. If they were trying to do the job for which God created them they would find they had the faith they needed. Take two members of my body, my hand and my foot. Thank God I’m healthy. Essentially they do what they were created to do. But suppose my hand tried to be a foot. It would be a failure. I’d put a shoe on it and begin to walk on it and I would be very clumsy and ineffective. Or, suppose my foot wanted to be a hand. It again would have tremendous problems. So, it may be for some of you that you are struggling and trying to be and do something which isn’t what God created you to be. If that’s so, you need to go back and ask God, “God, where did I miss your purpose?” And very often it’s because you’ve been, let me say, sentimental or you’ve formed a picture of things which is not realistic. Paul says you’ve got to learn to be sober, to think realistically, to see just what you are and what God has enabled you to do.
So, the aim in finding your place is to find your place in the body of Christ. No Christian can be truly fulfilled on his own as an individualist without any connection with the body. You’ll never find satisfaction.
Then Paul goes on to speak about gifts and the word is charisma from which we get the famous word charismatic. Let me say that the word charisma is derived from the Greek word for grace which is charis. So, basically the charismatic gifts are expressions of God’s grace. They enable you to do things which you cannot do by your own natural ability. You remember, grace cannot be earned and grace begins where human ability ends.
So now Paul talks about various different charismata. He gives some suggestions but they’re only suggestions. What I want to point out to you is when you find your place and begin to function in that place you’ll find that God has equipped you with the gifts that you need. I think it is foolish to seek gifts just on their own because you may be seeking a gift which isn’t the one that you need. But if you’ll seek your place in the body God will equip you with the gifts. See?
At a certain time in my ministry I was thrust into the ministry of delivering people from evil spirits. I didn’t apply for the job, I had no ambitions; it dropped in my lap. I mean, I was confronted with a situation where I either had to do it or admit total defeat. So in desperation I came against the demon and I won the battle. And that was a total turning point in my ministry. I’ve often said about my first wife and myself from that time onwards we never had to look for customers! They would beat a path to our door. And that basically would be true today if I would devote myself to that ministry.
But, why I say that is because when I came into that ministry I needed certain gifts. I needed a word of knowledge. I needed discerning of spirits. I’d had them maybe off and on but I suddenly discovered I really had them. I remember a man brought to me his sister who had a lot of emotional problems. He sat her down in the living room with my wife and me and I looked at her and I said to her, “You need deliverance from...” and I named about eight evil spirits. And all the time I was saying it I thought to myself how did I know that? It turned out to be perfectly right, she got delivered. But as I sat there and thought about it I said that was a word of knowledge. Why did I get the word of knowledge? Because God wanted me to help that woman and I couldn’t help her without the word of knowledge.
But it may not be that God has that type of ministry for you. Don’t apply for it, that’s my advice. Be thrust into it. It’s a funny thing, but the people who volunteer for the ministry of deliverance are usually misfits in it when they come in.
Now, we’re very near the end of our time and I think I’ve spoken in such a personal way tonight that I need to end with something personal. There may be some of you here this evening, you’ve never really presented your body on God’s altar. You’ve never really surrendered your life to God and said, “God, you take over. You can run my life much better than I can.” And you see, you will never go beyond a certain point in your Christian experience until you make that decision. So if what I have been saying to you here this evening has made sense to you, you say that’s it. And maybe you’re saying to yourself why didn’t I see that before? But at any rate, you suddenly realize this is something that’s real, important and for me. And you would like here this evening to present your body to the Lord, I want you to do just one thing, very simply and very quickly, I want you to stand to your feet right where you are. As a declaration to God, “God, here I am, I’m putting my life on your altar.” Don’t wait. If God has given you that conviction don’t be embarrassed. Embarrassment won’t help you, God will.
I’m going to ask my wife Ruth to come up and we’d like to pray together. We’re going to pray together for those people who are standing. I would like you as you are standing just to say very simply out loud to the Lord—don’t say very loud but loud enough to hear yourself—will you say these words:
“Lord Jesus, I thank you that you died on the cross for me, that you gave your body as a sacrifice for me. And because of what you’ve done for me I’m giving my body to you tonight. I’m just surrendering myself to you. I give up my own ambitions, my own ideas; and I ask you to renew my mind so that I may find out what is your perfect will for me. Lord Jesus, I thank you for this now. Amen.”
Now, Ruth and I are going to pray together.
“Father, we just want to thank you for every person standing here tonight. We thank you that right now you are opening a door to each one that prayed that prayer with sincerity. We trust you Lord to lead them through that door into all the fullness of the life that you’ve planned for them. We’ll be careful to give you the glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.”