THE MAN GOD USES
- John 1:6, 19-23; 3:22-36
I would like you to think this morning, about what a great time this was. More than 4000 years before this date, there in the Garden of Eden, God had promised the coming of One Who would crush the serpent’s head with His heal. Thousands of years had passed since that prophecy, and the Messiah had not come.
But now, in the fullness of time, only 30 years before, God had sent His Son, Jesus Christ to come as man’s Messiah. For 30 years Jesus had been growing in obscurity. Now finally, Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God, the Promised One, the Messiah, was about to begin His 3-year earthly ministry. And how did God decide to announce the arrival of His Son? How did God, in His infinite and infallible wisdom, decide to launch the work of His Son? He sent a man! There was a man sent from God whose name was John.
Many, wanting to start a new campaign, would advertise. They would post flyers. They would send a herald through the streets, but not God. God used none of those methods. He didn’t send angels dragging banners behind them. He didn’t send chariots, writing their flaming messages across the sky. God sent a man. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. God sent a man.
When God wanted to prepare the way for His people in Egypt, He sent Joseph, a man. When God wanted to deliver His people and carry them to the Promised Land, He sent a man. When God wanted the walls restored in Jerusalem and for worship to be reestablished, He sent a man, and when God wanted to announce the arrival of His Son Jesus Christ, He sent a man.
God forgive us. While we spend time looking for better programs, God is looking for better people. “While men look for better methods, God looks for better men” (E. M. Bounds).
There was a man sent from God whose name was John.
As we think of deacons, and those being ordained this morning, I believe we can see in the life of John, the Herald of Jesus Christ, several characteristics that must be in place in the man God uses.
I. THE MAN GOD USES IS A MAN ON FIRE FOR GOD
- Matthew 3:1-2
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea.” Preaching. The word translated there as preaching means “to herald, to trumpet, to proclaim, to preach.” It is a word filled with passion. You see my friends; John was on fire for Jesus. There was passion; there was fire in his words and in his heart. He was on fire for Jesus.
Many of you remember the movie from several years ago about the Titanic. Let me ask you, “What was the difference between the water that floated that ship, and the ice berg that sunk it?” The only difference was the temperature. Warm or hot water would float the ship, and water too cold would sink it. (W. A. Criswell, in his sermon The God-sent Man).
What the church doesn’t need today is more lukewarm, Mama-called, half-hearted, half-committed, fair-weather, when it’s convenient, only-on-Sunday, Christians; without enough power of God in them to blow a fly off a fruit bowl. Our nation is filled with compromising, Christ-denying, chameleon-Christians; who are no longer serving as salt and light.
The man God uses will be so on fire for God that he is able to say with the apostles, “I am unable to stop speaking about what I have seen and heard.”
Let me ask you, “Will you be that man?”
The man God uses is a man on fire for God.
II. THE MAN GOD USES IS A MAN WHO PAYS A PRICE
- John 1:23
When asked who he was, John says, “I am a voice of one crying out in the wilderness.”
John spent most of his adult life in the wilderness. Matthew chapter 3 tells us that he ate bugs and wore camel-hair clothes. We read in Luke’s Gospel that John never drank alcohol. In other words, John lived differently than others around him. God said, “I’m going to use you, now this is how I want you to live.”
Gentlemen, if you are going to be used by God in a great way, it’s going to cost you something. You may never have to eat bugs. You may never have to wear camel-hide clothes or live in the wilderness, but it’s going to cost you something.
It’s going to cost you turning the other cheek, when you want to give back what you’ve just gotten. It’s going to cost you apologizing to someone you’ve wronged or hurt, when your pride tells you no. It may cost you some money, when you turn down some overtime because you have other commitments. It may cost you some friends, when you are unwilling to tell or listen to the jokes others enjoy; or when you forgo a golf invitation for prayer meeting.
It may cost your children getting upset with you, because you won’t allow them to dress and act like their friends. It may cost you a fancy vacation, because God has led you to use your money in a different way.
It will cost you some pain, as you battle temptations others give in to. It will cost you some sleep, and some TV time, as you commit to regularly spend time in prayer and in God’s Word. It’s going to cost you something.
But listen, “You will win no more people and exert no more influence for the Savior than the quality of your life allows” (Billie Hanks).
Let me ask you, “Will you pay the price?”
The man God uses is a man who pays a price.
III. THE MAN GOD USES IS A MAN WHO KNOWS HIS PLACE
- John 3:27-30
In the passage immediately before this, John’s disciples come to him complaining that Jesus is getting more and more attention, and people are beginning to follow Jesus instead of John. John replies, “No one can receive a single thing unless it comes to him from heaven.” In other words, Jesus is called to be the Messiah. God has called me to be His messenger. I have no problem with that. He must increase and I must decrease.
John didn’t complain that he wasn’t getting enough attention. He didn’t complain that others were following Jesus. He said, “God has a plan, and it’s God’s plan for me to be a messenger.”
Gentlemen, God has gifted and equipped each of you differently. He has given each of you a different ministry.
- Tom is my accountability partner and has been for many years. He has more mercy than I and God uses Him to help me see through other people’s eyes. He teaches adults, signs checks, works on the church’s computers, and serves in many other ways.
- Tim, is great with children and young people. He knows how to connect with them and is a willing worker, helping take down equipment after the services and helping with bus boys and waiters.
- Bob Martin teaches and has a soul-winner’s heart. He regularly reminds me and others of our call to witness. He preaches and leads the worship service at the nursing home each month.
- Bob Stone has a servant’s heart. He comes and sets up and takes down the sound equipment each week and has been doing so for the past 6 years. He often takes equipment home with him to repair. He regularly mows the church property and maintains the church’s lawn equipment.
Gene Dolash has taught. He has led music for us. He regularly tells people about the Lord and about the church. He leads the men’s prayer breakfast each Wednesday morning.
Dan Dolash works on the church’s internet system and on our web site. He is gifted with children and leads in Children’s Church each week. He witnesses to his neighbors. He has worked on, and will be heading up our Bible Boot Camp.
My point? God has gifted everyone in this church. He has given each of you a job and He has given each of you different talents in order to carry out the work He’s given you. God has called you gentlemen, for a season, to serve as deacons in this church, but none of you are above any others.
The man God uses knows he is but one part in the Body of Christ. He doesn’t look down on others because they don’t do what he does. He doesn’t build himself up because of how he serves God or the church. He isn’t jealous, advertising everything he does so people will know what a great guy he is, afraid that others will get more recognition than he. The man God uses is a man who knows his place: a servant in the Kingdom of God.
IV. THE MAN GOD USES IS A MAN WHO SERVES JESUS
- John 3:30
In North Shore Baptist Church, in Chicago, the Sunday School Director and one of the deacons in the church was a man named James L. Kraft.
As a young man, just beginning, he wanted to be the most famous manufacturer and salesman of cheese in the world. He was going to be rich and famous, and he was going to do it making and selling cheese.
So as a young man, he started out. He had a little pony named Paddy and a little buggy. He would make his cheese and put it in the buggy and drive Paddy down the streets of Chicago, selling his cheese.
The days passed and the months passed and he fell into despair. He wasn’t succeeding. He wasn’t making any money. He was just working long and hard with no success. One day, driving those streets, in a cloud of despair, he began talking to his pony. He said, “Paddy, there’s something wrong. We’re not doing it right. Our priorities are not where they ought to be. Paddy, He says, “Maybe we ought first to serve God and place God first in our lives.”
When he got home that night, Kraft made a covenant that all the rest of his life he would serve God first. And then he would work as God would direct and open doors and bless.
James L. Kraft went on to found the great Kraft Food Corporation. When you go to the grocery store and see foods with the name “Kraft” on it, you are looking at food made by this man’s company.
Years later, He had the opportunity to speak at a large gathering in Washington D. C. In that address, the founder of one of America’s largest corporations said, “I had rather be a layman in the North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago than to head the greatest corporation in America.” He paused and then added, “My first job is serving Jesus.” (Told by W. A. Criswell).
I charge you gentlemen, be that man. Catch on fire. Pay the price. Know your place. Serve Jesus. Be that man.