Summary: Paul not only prayed for the spiritual well-being of the Roman church but was eager to be used by God as an instrument to help answer that prayer according to His divine will. The church has always been full of people who are quick to criticize, but seems
A Willing and Submissive Spirit
Paul not only prayed for the spiritual well-being of the Roman church but was eager to be used by God as an instrument to help answer that prayer according to His divine will. The church has always been full of people who are quick to criticize, but seems short of those who are willing to be used by God to solve the problems they are concerned about.
Many Christians are much more willing to give money to an outreach ministry than they are to witness themselves. In his book The Gospel Blimp (Elgin, Ill: David C. Cook, 1983), Joe Bayly tells the imagined story of a man who hired a blimp to bombard his neighborhood with gospel tracts. The point of the book, and the popular movie made from it, was that some believers will go to great extremes to avoid personally confronting others with the gospel.
Dr. John MacArthur tells of a man who once came up to him after a worship service and suggested that the church provide $25,000 to create a sophisticated telephone answering service that would give a gospel message to callers. Like the man in The Gospel Blimp story, this man wanted to use his scheme primarily to reach an unbelieving neighbor. Dr. MacArthur suggested, "Why don’t you just go over and tell him the gospel yourself?"
True spiritual service for God must originate from a willing spirit. When we hear of a ministry opportunity are we readily willing to be used by God to accomplish His will? Or do we inwardly hope someone else will rise to the occasion and take the responsibility so we can relax and simply pray for them?
It’s much easier and attractive to the flesh to pray for others to be used by the Lord than to pray that He use us. But like Isaiah, when Paul heard the Lord’s call for service he responded.
I. A Willing Spirit
A. A desire to be used (Isaiah 6)
i. The true measure of our concern for His work is our willingness for Him to use us.
B. A desire to be used according to God’s will
i. Paul’s eagerness to serve God was directed by the will of God
ii. God’s will is not always our will. (Acts 21:11-14)
II. A Submissive Spirit
A. A desire to subordinate his will to that of God
i. This is a proper model of a prayer, and is in accordance with the direction of the Bible. (James 4:14,15)
Some people ask, "If God is going to sovereignly accomplish what He plans to do anyway what is the purpose of praying?" Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse designed an analogy to illustrate the relationship of a believer’s prayers to God’s sovereignty.
We will suppose the case of a man who loves violin music. He has the means to buy for himself a very fine violin, and he also purchases the very best radio obtainable. He builds up a library of the great musical scores, so that he is able to take any piece that is announced on the radio, put it on his music stand, and play along with the orchestra. The announcer says that Mr. Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra are going to play Beethoven’s seventh symphony. The man in his home puts that symphony on his stand and tunes his violin with what he hears coming from the orchestra. The music that comes from the radio we might call foreordained. Ormandy is going to follow the score just as Beethoven wrote it. The man in his living room starts to scratch away at the first violin part. He misses beats, he loses his place and finds it again, he breaks a string, and stops to fix it. The music goes on and on. He finds his place again and plays on after his fashion to the end of the symphony. The announcer names the next work that is to be played and the fiddler puts that number on his rack. Day after week after month after year, he finds pleasure in scraping his fiddle along with the violins of the great orchestras. Their music is determined in advance. What he must do is to learn to play in their tempo, in their key and to follow the score as it has been written in advance. If he decides that he wants to play Yankee Doodle when the orchestra is in the midst of a Brahms number, there’s going to be dissonance and discord in the man’s house but not in the Academy of Music. After some years of this the man may be a rather creditable violin player and may have learned to submit himself utterly to the scores that are written and follow the program as played. Harmony and joy come from the submission and cooperation.