One of my favorite gospel songs is “I’m Available to You” by Milton Brunson and the Thompson Community Singers. It is one of the most beautiful songs you will ever hear and it speaks to the desire of being used by the Lord. It opens with the choir singing to the Lord, “you gave me my hands, to reach out to man; to show him your love and your perfect plan.” The chorus eventually picks up with the choir singing, “Lord, I’m available to you. My will I give to You, I’ll do what You say do, use me Lord to show someone the way and enable me to say, my storage is empty and I am available to You.” The chorus of this song speaks volumes to the train of thought a genuine believer ought to have.
Since getting my transplant, I have been able to sit back and reflect on the last five years on how the Lord worked in and through me. As I said in my sermon last week, I had no desire to lose function of my kidneys and I certainly had no desire to undergo dialysis treatment four times a week for those five years. Yet, I tell you that God was using me as a vessel for His higher purpose in a way that I never could have imagined.
So, I am left wondering today, how many of us desire to be a vessel of God? If we do desire to be a vessel of the Lord, we have to ask ourselves and be able to answer a couple of questions. First: are we willing to submit our will over to the Lord? Secondly: is our storage empty so that we can be available for use by the Lord?
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God’s Use of Man
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph. 2:10).” I believe that God created all of us for a reason and a purpose. Paul states that purpose to us in that he says we, as genuine believers, were created in Christ Jesus for good works. The good works that Paul is speaking of here is the work of ministering (serving) others.
Blessed with a variety of gifts
Now, Peter stated, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Pet. 4:10).” This again points to the fact that we are meant to minister to each other and that God gives us the tools to do so.
One thing I feel I must always say when it comes to the gifts God gives us for the purpose of serving each other is that not all gifts are the same. What I mean by this is that two may be preachers, but both likely preach in a manner that is different from the other. Two may sing, but both likely sing in a manner that is different from the other. Two may be great cooks, but both may have different specialties in what they can cook.
Let us remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians. He said, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all (1 Cor. 12:4-7).”
So, I tell you today that God has poured out a great diversity of gifts on all of His children for His plans and purpose. All of us are just so blessed with a great variety of gifts that come together to serve those around us for the service of God. Not only are we blessed with a diversity of gifts, but I want you to know that scripture shows us repeatedly that God also uses a great diversity of people for His purpose!
Who God uses
For example, let’s remember who the Lord used in order to bring the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt. Moses was a man that God used who’s background included him essentially being orphaned at birth. He was then raised in the traditions of a people that practiced the worship of false gods (Ex. 2:10) and those same people enslaved others. Moses, we also recall, killed an Egyptian and hid his body in the sand when he saw the Egyptian beating a Hebrew (Ex. 2:11-12). God never took His eyes off of Moses and used him according to His plan and purpose.
In the story of Moses leading the children of Israel out from the bondage of Egypt, we often focus a great deal on how the Lord used Moses. Yet, how often do you notice that the Lord was also using Pharaoh as well? God was very active in His use of Pharaoh in hardening his heart (Ex. 9:12, 10:20, 27). Why was God using Pharaoh? Scripture shows that the Lord declared of Pharaoh, “for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth (Ex. 9:16).”
I declare to you today that God very much still desires and still uses man for the purpose of declaring His name to the world! God still uses man for the work of persuading others to trust in and have faith in Him! I want you to know that God has divine assignments for all of those who are fit and ready for His special plans and purpose. The question is, are you fit and ready to be used for His special plans and purpose? Do you desire to be a vessel of God?
Becoming a Vessel of Honor
I tell you that God can use anybody according to His purpose. In the example of Moses and Pharaoh, I believe there is an example of two different types of vessels that God can use. I want to, again, direct your attention to the scripture that I have used for my key verses for today.
Notice that Paul first mentions a “great house” in the first of my key verses for today. Paul was picturing the church building as that great house, and he then says in that great house there are all kinds of vessels that the house is filled with. If you think about it, church buildings are filled with chairs, tables, cups, and bowls. Each vessel within that house is put to some kind of use.
The two different types of vessels
Now, I want you to pay very close attention to what Paul points out about the different vessels in that great house. He tells us that there are vessels of gold and silver, and of wood and clay in that great house. Then Paul sets two different categories for the vessels in that great house to be grouped into. He states that those vessels are either vessels of honor and then there are vessels of dishonor.
I feel we need to understand what is meant by the use of the words honor and dishonor. The word “honor” means to be of high value, great esteem, and great respect. So a vessel of honor was something very special and used for special purposes.
The word dishonor means to lose honor, value, reputation, prestige. So a vessel of dishonor would be a vessel that is not special nor is it used for special purposes. A vessel of dishonor, I want you to understand that since it is not special, is something we would consider to be common. Just because the vessel is not used for special purposes that does not mean it does not get used at all – it still gets used.
I find it fascinating that Paul used gold, silver, wood, and clay for an example of the two different types of vessels. We would right away consider the gold and silver to be the vessels of honor when compared to the wood and clay. Yet, I am reminded of how Jesus used the lowly stone waterpots to turn water into wine (John 2:6-10). Scripture declared that from those stone waterpots came a far superior wine to what had already been served at the wedding in Cana.
How many of you had parents or grandparents that had a china cabinet filled with fine china? My grandmother was one of those people that had a china cabinet with all kinds of fine china in it – platters, plates, and glasses to drink out of. We would say that those vessels were vessels of honor, right? That fine china was unique and special when compared to the plain ol’ regular plates. The only time that china was ever used was during the holiday and we, the little one’s, never got to eat off that fine china!
I am absolutely certain that in our own homes we have vessels that we commonly use and vessels that we break out only on special occasions. There is absolutely nothing special about paper plates, but you better believe we will use them in a heartbeat! After we have finished with our paper plates, we then throw them away without care.
Sanctified to be a vessel of God
To all that we have illustrated here, there is a spiritual thought behind this. Notice that in the second verse of my key verses, Paul says that if one desires to be a vessel of honor, then he or she should cleanse him or herself from the latter (the latter being dishonor).
I believe that all of us should have a desire to be a vessel of God. In other words, I believe that all of us, especially we who are a child of God, should have a great desire to be a vessel of the Lord. Again, when I say vessel here, I want you to understand that I mean I believe we should all desire to be used by the Lord according to the purpose He desires to use us in.
If you so desire to be a vessel of the Lord, there are a few things that we must do. By our default nature, which is a nature of sin, we are (or were) all vessels of dishonor. As Isaiah said, in our (mankind’s) nature, when it comes down to it, we are all filthy rags (Is. 64:6). Now, imagine God using a filthy rag for His plans and purpose! We would not use a filthy rag to wash ourselves, nor would we eat from a filthy plate or drink from a filthy cup. It could be cups and plates of gold and silver, but if they are a dirty mess, we’re not going to eat or drink from them!
So, in order for the Lord to use us, we must first be spiritually cleansed of our sin so that we can no longer be what is common to our world. You see, what all of us share in common to our world is sin. So, in order for us to separate ourselves from that which is common, we must be sanctified by the blood of Jesus. Paul again said, “if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” If God is going to use anybody for the purpose of doing the good work – doing something special – He is going to use a sanctified vessel!
Open to God
Now, when we have become sanctified by the blood, we have taken the first step in becoming a vessel of God. The next step I feel is just as important as becoming sanctified. In order for us to be a vessel of God, I want you to know that we must be open – we must be available – to being used as a vessel by the Lord.
What do I mean by this? A lot of times, even though we have turned to the Lord, some of us are a bit reluctant to make ourselves available for the Lord’s use. James said to submit to the Lord (Jas. 4:7) and Peter said that we should humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God (1 Pet. 5:6). We typically consider that we would submit or humble ourselves before the Lord only when it comes to receiving His blessings and favor. Yet, I tell you that we also have to submit our will for God’s will if we desire for the Lord to use us.
This submission proves difficult for many who have professed their faith in the Lord. Why is that? As I said in my sermon last week, the general idea is that we all have our very own plans and our very own desires and many of us don’t want to give up those plans and desires. If you truly desire to be a vessel of God, then you must be open to where the Lord is going to take you and how He is going to use you.
Divine Purpose for All Who Are Open to Him
I tell you today that there is no higher calling or purpose that we can serve to than that of being used by God for His plans and His person. To be a vessel of honor that is used for the special purposes of God, think about it – what could be better than that? I truly believe that the Lord has a divine plan and purpose for all of those who are open to being used as a vessel of His.
When I say that He has a plan and purpose for all of those who are open to being used by Him, I want you to understand that I do not just mean the preachers. Some of us don’t believe that the Lord can use us, but God can and will use anybody as a vessel according to His purpose.
In a recent Sunday School we saw God use Gideon to lead Israel when Gideon thought himself to be nothing. The Lord used David when David was nothing but a scrawny shepherd boy. Peter was brash and bold. The disciples were considered not wise enough to be ministers of God and Paul was a persecutor of the church. God has always used a diverse group of people for the purpose. Our goal as a child of God is to be used as a vessel of honor for declaring His name and for persuading others to trust, believe, and follow after Him
When we are reluctant to be used by the Lord, we are no different than one of those china dishes in grandma’s china cabinet that don’t ever get used. We look nice, spiritually, but we are just sitting there doing nothing. So I say to you today, let us live for the higher calling and purpose of the Lord. Let us become that vessel of honor that is available and open to God for His plans and purpose.