Friday, September 10, 2010

How Can God Use Me?

1 Samuel 17

Have you ever asked "How can God use me?" That question will have different answers for different people.

Jack Lewis is an intellectual giant among preachers. He has two Ph.D.s, one from Harvard and one from Hebrew Union. When he was young he listened to a sermon about one of the prophets. The preacher talked about how the prophet may not have had much to offer, but he was willing to give God what he had - himself. And then God could use that however he wanted.

Jack said, "I listened to that preacher. His lesson wasn’t particularly outstanding in its development, but it emphasized something I needed to hear then. God could use any man who was willing to be used. I determined to do what I could with my life in service to God."

Years later Jack had his two Ph.D.s and began teaching at a Christian school. Today he can boast that he has trained as many preachers, missionaries and Bible professors as any other teacher in his church’s fellowship, all because he asked, "How can God use me?"

One night in the mid 1990s Jack would stand outside of the mansion at the graduate school that housed the faculty offices. Fifty years of his research and work was in the building. In the middle of the night fire billowed out of the broken windows. Jack stood there with his wife Annie Mae and said, "There goes a whole life’s work up in flames." Annie Mae said, "That’s not your life’s work, Jack, books and papers and notes. Your life’s work is out in the field preaching the gospel." And they were. Thousands of guys. All because Jack asked, "How can God use me?"

God’s answer to that question for you may be different. I have friends who serve as missionaries in Africa, Brazil, Europe, Asia, the Unites States and Canada. The serve in those places because they asked, "How can God use me?"

I have friends who are firemen and emergency personnel. I have friends who are school teachers, nurses, doctors, mechanics. I have friends who are construction workers and big game guides. They faithfully serve God in ways he makes available to them. The question they ask is, "How can God use me?" The answer to that question may differ for us individually. But let’s make sure we asked the question. And let’s listen to God’s answer.

A young boy once asked, "How can God use me?" I don’t know if he actually asked the question out loud, verbally. But it was in his heart. And God answered his question.

"Be a servant to your brothers. Help them out."

"My brothers? You have to be kidding? God, when I asked, ‘How can you use me?,’ I wasn’t asking to be a servant boy. Don’t you have anything else for me to do?"

God must have said, "He who is faithful in little will be faithful in much. I want to see how you handle the little chores. Do as I say. Serve your brothers."

"Ok, Lord, I will serve. What shall I do?"

"Take some food to your brothers and their boss."

No service in the name of Jesus Christ is really "small service." We use that term: "serving God in the ‘small things.’" But the small things are often big things. A $1.00 bolt that gets left out
of an airplane can cause millions in damages, not to mention loss of life. What is the real value of a $1.00 bolt on an airplane if it is carrying our family members?

In Matt. 25 we see a glimpse into the heart of God regarding the "small things" we do in his name. (Verse.34-40) The small things become big things when done in the name of Jesus.

How can God use me?

"Ok, Father, I’ll take the food to my brothers." This young man was about to learn that faithfulness in the small things opens doors of opportunities to the big things.

Jesse knew he was sending his son into a war scene. But did he think his son would be in the war? I doubt it. What kind of a father would let his son go off into a war unprepared? Untrained? (1 Samuel 17:17-19)

But God knew. God knew it was a war scene. And God let David go. What kind of a God is he? A God who can see things we can not. God knew there were two battles being waged that day in the valley of Elah.

One battle was being waged by Goliath, a big hunk of a man. Nine feet tall, armor weighing 125 to 200 pounds. His shield was larger than a man. Everyday Goliath would come out and taunt and challenge the armies of God. (17:8-11) Everyday his insolence and bravado sent chills into the hearts of Saul and his men.

This was David’s first battle scene so far as we know. And it was a big one. All the soldiers knew that. None of them would take up Goliath’s challenge. They cowered in fear.

And then David said, "I’ll go fight him."

"You? You’re only a boy, a delivery boy. You do good with bread and cheese. But that guy out there is not a sandwich. He is a soldier. A big one. He’d break you in half with his bare hands."

And David said again, "Let me go. I’ll fight him." When he tried on the armor he said, "I can’t wear that stuff."

With the blessing of the commander David ran down to the stream. He looked into the
clear water for the stones he wanted. He picked out some smooth ones, put them into his bag and went after the bear of a man.

Goliath wasn’t impressed. (V.41-44) And David wasn’t impressed with Goliath. He ran at him with his sling, threw the rock and knocked the giant to the ground. David won.

He started out delivering cheese and he ended up delivering Israel.
He started out tightening $1.00 bolts and ended up flying the plane.

And it all started with an attitude of heart: "God, how can you use me?"

I told you there were two battlefields that day. One was in the valley of Elah. A valley where men pitched tents, cooked over open fires, sharpened swords, tested their bow strings, and laid awake at night worrying about the next day. A battle where men hurled insults and challenges to each other. A battle where men dreamed of killing.

The other battlefield that day was pretty much ignored by most people. It still is today. It was the battlefield of heart.

This battle was really fought and won in someplace other than the valley of Elah. For David it began sometime before. In 1 Sam. 16:12 God told Samuel, "I pick the boy David." Then, the Spirit of the Lord came upon David IN POWER (16:13).

Fighting a giant was really nothing to David. The spirit of God reigned in his heart. Fields of battle are much easier to win after you’ve won the battle of the heart. That is why David could say to Goliath, "I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty" (17:45). And, "This day the Lord will hand you over to me." This wasn’t really David’s battle - it was God’s.

And this explains why Saul wouldn’t fight Goliath. 1 Sam. 16:14 says the spirit of Lord departed from Saul and an evil spirit took his place. Saul lost the great battle, the battle of the heart. So Goliath really was a giant to him.

On that day many years ago there were two battles. One between armies. One in the hearts of men. In a sense, Golaith doesn’t even matter in the story. He was only filler. The real story was about a young boy who asked, "God, how can you use me?"

What do you think God’s answer to you will be when you ask that question?

Warren Baldwin


  1. That was a very encouraging post! Thank you, Warren.

  2. Great story again! Love that Goliath didn't even matter in the story - it was all about God and His glory and a little boy named David!

  3. Terry - Thank you.

    Karin - I love this story too, Karin. Never gets old! This was my sermon for this morning.


  4. I love Jack's wife's answer to his comment about his life's work going up in flames, and I love your perspective that Goliath was only a filler. You are so wise.

    Thanks for sharing your heart with us,
    Audience of ONE