Introduction

Are you fully committed to God’s divine assignment for you?

(NOTE: You can scroll to the bottom to watch today’s sermon.)

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been taking a look at being a vessel of God.  From those sermons, we know that as a vessel of the Lord, God will use us for His higher plans and His higher purposes.  We have seen how in the Old Testament, God used man to teach and to prophecy to one another.  We have also seen in the New Testament, that the Lord still desires to use every last one of His children for the purpose of ministering to those around them.

In His Great Commission, we see Jesus say to those that would choose to follow after Him, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20).”  So, again, it is very clear to us that God’s higher plans and purposes for us is to minister to and make believers of all people.

Now, how the Lord uses us to carry out His divine assignment is unique (meaning personalized) to each of His children.  Again, some He uses to preach the word and some He uses to sing so that they may uplift the spirits of others.  Some the Lord may use to testify of their journey, and others He may use in the work of charity.  God uses us as He sees fit.

Yet, I tell you that there are times when some of us have reservations (concerns) as to how we are being used by the Lord.  Some of us question how the Lord is using us.  We question the Lord’s motive and so, therefore, we begin to question God’s divine assignment.  I want to take a look at these reservations some of us, His ‘vessels’ have and ask again today, are we truly fully committed to God’s divine assignment?

Do We Have Reservations?

I ask this question today because I truly wonder whether or not we are fully committed to being a vessel of the Lord.  Scripture is filled with people who had reservations about the divine assignment the Lord had for them.  Last week, I briefly mentioned Peter in my sermon and I felt compelled to preach a sermon focusing on him this week.

Peter, as you know, was one of Jesus’ twelve closest followers.  Of Peter, Jesus said that He was a rock and on him, He would build His church (Matt. 16:18). So, the Lord had a special plan and purpose for Peter meaning Peter would be a vessel that God would use to minister to others.

Through studying scripture during the years Jesus ministered and even after His resurrection, we see that Peter had some serious flaws.  I don’t know if there is a faithful man in scripture who’s flaws and failures are put on display as much as his!  Which, honestly, is very interesting because scripture usually portrays mostly the good things of those who were righteous, especially when it comes to the apostles.  So, like many of us, Peter must have had many failures.  I want to take a look at a few examples of Peter’s flaws for just a moment.

Scripture shows us that Peter was a bold, brash, and very impulsive man.  With little hesitation, Peter brashly and impulsively cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant in the garden prior to Jesus’ arrest (John 18:10-11).  At another occasion, at the transfiguration of Christ, Peter, without realizing what he was saying, impulsively asked to build three tabernacles to Jesus, Moses, and Elijah (Luke 9:33).  At the Feast of Passover, the disciples argued among themselves who was greater (Luke 22:24) and I believe it was Peter who was boldly believing himself to be greatest among the disciples.

Peter’s rebuke

Actually, it was at this feast where we see another character flaw of Peter rear its ugly head, and this flaw is an extremely dangerous flaw that we must focus on today.  

To teach the apostles a lesson on what those who consider themselves to be great should do for those around them, Jesus chose to wash the apostles’ feet.  This was a lesson on humility but it was also a lesson on serving others.  Scripture tells us that Peter, initially, did not understand what Jesus was doing in that moment.  When seeing Jesus approach to wash his feet, Peter rebuked Jesus.  He eventually relented from his rebuke when Jesus told him the purpose behind washing his feet (John 13:6-9).

Now that was not the first time that Peter offered this sort of rebuke to Christ and to God.  Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus had been predicting his death to the disciples which really frustrated Peter.  So Peter took Jesus to the side and, again, we see him rebuke what Jesus had been saying to which Jesus responded, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men (Matt. 16:21-23).”

Now, I want to direct your attention back to my scripture for today in the book of Acts.  By this point in time, Jesus had ascended to heaven, so Peter has had some time to grow, yet this character flaw is shown to us again.  We are told that while he was on the rooftop of Simon the tanner, he ended up in a deep trance (Acts 10:9-10).  While in a trance, Peter saw a great sheet descend from heaven to him, and on that sheet he saw all kinds of animals.  He then heard the Lord’s voice say to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat (Acts 10:11-12).”  

This, I want you to understand, was a direct command from God.  Yet, Peter, we see, rebukes the Lord and tells Him, “Not so, Lord (Acts 10:14)!”  In fact, scripture tells us that this played out three times (Acts 10:16)!  So, what was the deal with Peter?  Why do we keep seeing him rebuke the Lord?  

13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”  14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

KEY VERSE – ACTS 10:13-14 NKJV

The Great Sin of Stubbornness

Peter could not move beyond his thoughts and feelings – he was very stubborn.  This was a very great flaw that he had because as a vessel of the Lord, he was meant to be fully committed to God, yet He continued to have reservation as to what God was doing.  In a way, Peter’s stubbornness was causing him to question the motives of the Lord.  Where he should have been mindful of the things of God, as shown to us when he rebuked Jesus when He was predicting His death, Peter was too stuck on himself.

As a vessel of the Lord, the ideal response from Peter would have been to do as the Lord had commanded – no reservations, no hesitation, no delay.  As a vessel of God, the ideal response from the believer when God has commanded us, is to do as He commands.  

Something we must understand when it comes to His divine assignment, God is going to move us wherever He sees fit and use us how He pleases.  We have to learn to trust in how the Lord is going to use and we must be obedient to His command without reservation, hesitation, and delay.  We are certainly going to have time to do the things we desire, but when the Lord gives us a task, yes, we should drop what we are doing and put His divine assignment first!  If we say we desire to be a vessel of the Lord, we should be fully committed to God’s divine assignment!  

The Christian’s stubbornness

I feel like many of us actually share a lot in common with Peter in that we can be very bold, brash, and impulsive.  God can direct us to wait while He works on our blessing and we will have times when we ignore His command and act on impulse.  God can direct us to move as He desires and some of us are bold enough to question His direction.  Some of us, in fact, will flat out rebuke the Lord’s direction because we know a better way of being in service to Him.  When we do this, I want you to understand that we are saying our thoughts are better than the Lord’s thoughts.

Last week I said that there is a great sin that today’s Christian commits and that was the sin of laziness.  This week, I tell you that there is another great sin that is present in today’s Christians – the sin of stubbornness.  When we stay attached to our own thoughts and feelings, and are not mindful of the things of the Lord, we are showing ourselves not to be committed to Him.  When God has a divine assignment for us, and we choose to rebuke it because it does not fit our thoughts and feelings, we are not being fully committed to the Lord’s plans as we have so professed.

In the first book of Samuel, when we read of King Saul’s great sin, Samuel said to Saul, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”  This, Samuel said, indicates that spiritual stubbornness is indeed a sin. 

Samuel continued,  “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king (1 Sam. 15:22-23).”  When we reject the Lord in our spirit, we certainly know that we cannot enter into His heavenly kingdom.  Yet, I also tell you today that in our spiritual stubbornness, we find that it can not only be detrimental to us, but it can be detrimental to all of those around us.

Keep your vow to God

Again, I tell all of you that the Lord has a divine assignment for us and it is an assignment that is going to take us in directions that we could have never imagined.  The Lord’s divine assignment may have us go through some things that we never could have imagined.  God may have us speak to and minister to people that we may have never imagined speaking to and ministering to.  We cannot be a detriment to the Lord and to those around us because of our own personal thoughts and feelings – this is a sin.  We certainly should not do this if we have said that we desire to be a vessel of God for His special plans and purposes in our heart.

When we have said that we desire to be a vessel of the Lord, I want you to understand that we have made a commitment (a vow) to God in our heart!  Making a vow to the Lord is very important.

I want to direct your attention to the book of Ecclesiastes for a moment. Solomon wrote, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools.  Pay what you have vowed—Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.  Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?  For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God (Eccl. 5:4-7).”

You see, when we have taken a vow to be a vessel of God, we ought to stand by this commitment.  God expects us to stand by that vow!  I want you to understand that God desires to use a vessel that is fully committed to His divine assignment!  God is not going to use anybody who is going to half step when it comes to His divine assignment.  If you have said that you want to be used for the Lord’s special plans and purposes, then you must be all in and not one foot in.

Commitment Check

I tell you today that it is commitment check time for all of those that desire to be a vessel of the Lord.  I believe that all of God’s children desire to be a vessel of His so I tell you today that it is commitment check time for all of God’s children – all of those who are true worshipers and genuinely believe in Him.  

Peter’s divine assignment

I want to quickly turn our attention back to Peter for just a moment because he underwent a commitment check in the book of Acts.  While he contemplated the vision he saw in his trance, a commitment check came knocking on the door.  Three men from Cornelius, a gentile man that served as a centurion in the Italian Regiment, arrived at Simon the tanner’s house (Acts 10:1).  We are told that they were there because an angel of God told Cornelius to reach out to Peter about his faith (Acts 10:4-8, 30-33).

Cornelius is described in scripture as a devout man who feared the Lord (Acts 10:2).  He was the first of many gentiles who would become a genuine follower of Christ.  I want you to understand that this was one of Peter’s divine assignments from God – to minister to Cornelius, therefore, to all other gentiles as well.  

We know that this was a divine assignment because the Spirit said to Peter while he was still on the rooftop, “Go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them (Acts 10:20).”  So, now was not the time for Peter to have any reservations or rebuke about how the Lord was about to use him.  Now was not the time for Peter to be stubborn in his ways!  

When Peter arrived at Cornelius’ residence, he found not only was Cornelius present but that all of Cornelius’ relatives and close friends were also present (Acts 10:24).  Peter entered the residence and initially remarked, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean (Acts 10:28).”

Peter continued, “But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.  Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me (Acts 10:28-29)?”  

So, the check was to see if Peter had learned his lesson from the trance.  A lesson, I believe, was more about being obedient and committed to following the Lord’s command than the food.  Peter could have chosen to rebuke the Spirit and not have gone to Cornelius but we see Peter ultimately learned to put aside his stubbornness.  We see that he committed himself to the task and was mindful that God was at work on His higher plans and purposes.  Peter recognized that he was meant for something far higher than his own thoughts and plans!

Committed to the Lord  

On that day, scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit fell upon all of those who Peter had ministered to. You see, we are meant for something far higher than our own feelings, thoughts, and plans.  We are meant to help build, establish, and add to the kingdom of God.  The thought never leaves my mind on what happens when we, in our stubbornness, become a detriment to those around us.  The only thing stubbornness does is hold us back and keep us from growing. 

As genuine believers, we have to be mindful and also be able to acknowledge when we are being a spiritual detriment to those around us because we do not want to hold them back from the heavenly gates.  To be stubborn spiritually, is as detrimental as it is to be lazy spiritually with the same end results.  If we have made our vow to be in service to the Lord, let us truly submit our will for God’s will and let us fully commit ourselves to God’s divine assignment.

Thought: The Obedient Sheep of God

By Rev. Leo H. McCrary II – July 25, 2021
Responsive Reading – Acts 10:13-29
Key Verse – Acts 10:13-14