Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it? Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it? That would be like a club wielding those who lift it, or like a rod lifting him who is not wood. – Isaiah 10:15
Although Assyria had been God’s “rod of chastisement” on Israel, Isaiah pronounced God’s judgment upon it because the Assyrians refused to acknowledge YHWH as God. For this act of negligence, they were utterly destroyed.
Christ is Lord of all, even of those who refuse to accept Him. Every person must (and will eventually) acknowledge this truth. In fact, each (and every) one of us is a tool in the hand of a sovereign Creator, used by Him to accomplish His divine purposes.
While this may be an ordinary thing to some, it is an exalted status for those who realize it. To be God’s “axe” does not require our allegiance or thoughtful submission to His plans, but when both are present then it will be a blessed experience.
God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him. – Jim Elliott
Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16
The first three chapters of Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church address what we should believe. The last three chapters then proscribe how we should live out that belief, or as he put it, how we should walk.
Some walk through this life completely unaware of all that is going on around them. If this condition becomes severe, then a person might be labeled mentally handicapped. There are those, and let it not be us, who likewise walk through life “spiritually” handicapped, completely unaware of God’s handiwork.
Those who claim to know Christ were re-born for a higher purpose than this. Don’t waste it.
And people who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives, and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted. – Nate Saint
You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. – Acts 19:26
The Ephesians didn’t have a problem with Paul until Paul’s message began to affect their pocketbooks. As the world-renowned home of the Temple to Artemis, Ephesus also served as a tourist destination for idol worshippers. The ones who made these silver statues saw their income decline as the gospel of Jesus Christ was declared and received by residents and visitors alike. Though certainly framed by some at the time as an attack on their religion, it was really about business. If “The Way” would have remained the quiet and reserved belief of a few, then life could have gone on as usual.
When Christ’s gospel is received by an individual, that person is transformed. If His gospel is received by many in a neighborhood, village, county, province, country, or people group, then everything will reveal this change. Commerce, law, and culture cannot escape the regenerative power of God. A riot cannot stop it, nor can it cause it. Legislation may allow the gospel to go forth, but it will never enable it or hinder it. God’s truth will always destroy Satan’s lie and be assured that it will not go down without a fight.
The lie must still die, and it will, one life at a time.
Will power does not change men. Time does not change men. Christ does. – Henry Drummond
Thus says the Lord, “As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one says, ‘Do not destroy it, for there is benefit in it,’ so I will act on behalf of My servants in order not to destroy all of them.” – Isaiah 65:8
As it is often the work of a painter or sculptor to see art in a blank canvas or an uncut stone, we who serve the Lord Jesus Christ must be able to see what God could do with someone who the world might consider beyond redemption.
The nation of Israel gave God more than enough reason to wrathfully destroy them, but as Isaiah (God’s prophet) communicated (above) that Yahweh’s grace would prevail. As the person who runs a vineyard is in the business of drawing new wine from what appear to be ruined clusters, God can redeem any person’s life for the sake of His glory.
We must let this truth direct our efforts in reaching out to all those that many might “write off” as beyond the hope of salvation. No matter the location, religion, ideology, lifestyle, or opposition, Jesus has the power to save, renew, and redirect for His purpose. As long as there is physical life within, there is the potential for regeneration from without.
Jesus Christ did not come into this world to make bad people good; he came into this world to make dead people live. – Lee Strobel
They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. – Acts 16:6-8
While most Bible readers are familiar with Paul and Luke’s “Macedonian Call,” they might have overlooked the frustrating occurrences that immediately preceded that nocturnal vision.
The first missionary journey came off without a hitch. Sent out by the church at Antioch, Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark (okay, John Mark might have left the party a little early) took the good news of Jesus abroad with great success and amazing stories of receptivity. The second trip was a different story. It began with a sharp disagreement between old friends and then moved into a series of Holy Spirit directed prohibitions.
In ministry, we often build from our successes. A plan or program “works” and, therefore, we assume it will always do so. Rather than look continually to the place from which our help must come, we begin to trust in our own methods and power to achieve, but God would not have it this way. He has determined to direct the path of His church and its members. We are clay and as such must remain pliable and moldable, useful in His service. Paul (and the team) had to learn this truth and so must we.
While we can only serve out of previous experience, we must not assume that such historical paths can be followed into the future. Only if we remain in constant contact with our Lord will we successfully achieve His purpose and plan. God’s prohibitions, as we must also learn, are merely His guides to His obedient service.
The will of God for your life is simply that you submit yourself to Him each day and say, “Father, Your will for today is mine. Your pleasure for today is mine. Your work for today is mine. I trust You to be God. You lead me today and I will follow.” – Kay Arthur