Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Let’s put verse 40 in modern terms “on these two commandments depend all the Bible study from Genesis to Revelation!” In other words, if after studying portions in the word of God and I don’t love the Lord more and my neighbor too, I have missed the whole purpose!!! All I received was good information!
I love those intimate times in worship (Romans 12:1) when the Lord begins to open up revelation and insight. He does so to bless us, yes, but what do we do with this insight? Do we sit on it and keep it to ourselves (there are times that is exactly what He intends) or do we ASK Him what we are to do with this special piece of love that He has shared?
I mention this because the teacher of this series asked a very important question that each of us must answer. Some may just choose to close out the devotion once they see what the question is because they do not want to deal with it, “but I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.” (Hebrews 13:22)
Most reading this will probably say they “want” to be available but if they are honest they would realize there are many things that are hindering them. Remember the man who said he wanted to follow Jesus? And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” (Luke 9:59) Notice he doesn’t say that his father has died or is even sick but he is more committed to his family ties than to Jesus. Don’t take this wrong….I’m not saying that taking care of family is wrong. Notice Jesus said to the man “Follow Me.” This was Jesus’ desire (or plan) for this man but in his ability of “free choice” he declined. But also look at the wording very closely, he states it in such a way that he is trying to make it look like he is not being disobedient, he says “permit me first”, in other words, let me do what I think is important and then I’ll do your will. Is that obedience? Is that being “available”? Let’s look at Jesus’ response, But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60) Jesus knew that this man’s family did not believe He was the Messiah. He was telling this man to let the unbelievers bury the other unbelievers, they are lost and there is no work for you there, you are to go and “love the Lord” (which is to serve Him) in the plans He has for you.
You would think that this exchange between Jesus and this man would have settled any doubt in other disciple’s minds as to the seriousness of what Jesus had just commanded. But we again see the sinful mind of mankind at work in those following Jesus. Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” (Luke 9:61) This man has listened to the exchange and rather than asking permission to do his will up front, he tries to manipulate Jesus by stating he definitely intends on following Him (can’t you just hear him?), so since you know I am faithful (because I just said so), surely there is no problem with my going home and just letting everyone know that I’m going to be gone for awhile.
I love how Jesus never gets caught up in discussions with us and tries to “reason” with us about our justifying and manipulations, unreasonable requests, demands, and lies. Jesus simply speaks truth and leaves it in our ball court to respond.
What Jesus states in this next verse to those who have proclaimed they are believers and wish to follow Him is serious. Please don’t miss this. I would probably guess that you have never heard a sermon on this passage because the pastor is concerned that people will leave his congregation because this is just “too heavy” for them to hear. That’s the problem! The church is teaching a “milk toast” (spiritual baby food) message that has no repentance, no conviction and certainly not a message of a narrow road! “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
What did Jesus respond? But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) Jesus was telling them that one who has the revelation and understanding after examining the situation and believing Jesus to be the Messiah is at a crossroads. They must choose to follow Him or they can return to the old life. But once they have received this truth then they decided the cost is too much for them to pay, the truth of their hearts have shown they are not His. Remember the teaching of the sowing of the seeds? There are seeds that take root quickly but also die quickly because the cares of the world choke them out. “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.” (Matthew 13:20-21)
Let’s ask the question again. Are you really available for God to work in your life?
If you are like me, when you think of those that God has worked mightily in their lives, you might think of the Apostles, of King David, Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Samuel, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Esther or Ruth to name a few. These were men and women, just like you and me, who said “YES” to God. But today I’d like us to meet a woman who said “YES” but you may not be quite as familiar with. I believe she represents you and me quite well. She is a great example of allowing God to use her right where she was. As we meet her I pray you will begin to hear the Holy Spirit speak to you that He may be able to help you hear what the Spirit is saying to you.
“And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.” (Acts 16:13-15)
Scripture never gives useless details so let’s look at the above verse. First of all we notice that Lydia is from Thyatira. Why is that important? First of all, it establishes her expertise and that she was a business woman and probably had wealth. The purple fabrics were very expensive and required great skill to dye. Lydia is now in Philippi selling her fabrics. Lydia was also a “worshiper of God”. This is important. She didn’t just believe in a sovereign God, she worshiped Him. There is a difference between believing in the Almighty God and worshiping Him! “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1) Here she was in a foreign land and she was at a prayer meeting on the Sabbath. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
God had also sovereignly moved the Apostle Paul to Philippi (through a dream) and he sought out those who were gathered together on the Sabbath and found the women on the beach. Here he shared the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ and Lydia was one who responded. Scripture tells us that she, and her whole household, were immediately baptized. But the next part is what I want you to meditate on. She immediately responded to God in accepting His free gift of His Son, but then also opened her home to the Apostle Paul and those traveling with him. Her home became the first church in Philippi!
Think about the significance of being available. In the Book of Revelation we learn that one of the seven churches that the Apostle John is given a letter for is Thyatira! What if Lydia had refused to leave Thyatira and move to Philippi? She would have missed great blessings and being used of God! There is so much more I could share on this but at this point we SIMPLY need to understand being available!
Remember the last devotion on Partakers of the Divine Life? As we allow the Lord to transform us into His image we are being made ready as the bride of Christ. The same applies to being “available” for His service. It’s not our service, but HIS service. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Let me ask you a very personal question, do you hear the Holy Spirit? If you are reading this blog I tend to believe that you do because to someone who is not serious about their walk with the Lord, these devotions would probably be the last thing they care to read. So I am assuming that you desire to draw closer to the Lord and have greater understanding of His love for you. Because of that love He has for you, He will not leave you where you were when you received Him into your life IF you allow Him. Some of you may have that desire but allowed fear to hinder you. “This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it”. (Psalm 118:24)
Before Jesus left the disciples He spoke some very important words that you and I need to remember, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13) The good news is that we don’t have to figure out what it is the Lord wants us to do, we have the Holy Spirit living in us and He will disclose it to us IF we are willing to seek Him, listen and be obedient.
I think we all understand that when Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven that He was seated at the right hand of the Father (Ephesians 1:20). When I truly understood that I am seated IN Him in the heavenly places and that my true home is in heaven, I understood that my life here on earth is for His glory! (Ephesians 2:6) The Apostle Paul expounds and teaches us that our life is not our own, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
I learned from King David that every action affects the Lord. “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak
and blameless when You judge.” (Psalm 51:4) So when I choose not to seek the Lord’s will in any matter, that is the same as any other sin I may commit! And there will be consequences. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
As I close this devotional, there is one thing I feel led that I am to share with you. There is a very real danger lurking at each of our doorways, and that is false teaching. We have discussed this in several devotionals. But I believe that “being available” must begin with being available to “hear” what the Spirit is saying. Let’s look again at the admonition from the Lord in the Book of Revelation. Before you read the following pray earnestly this prayer:
Dear Abba Father, I desire with all of my heart to be able to hear and be surrendered to what You want me to hear! Open my spiritual eyes to see, my spiritual ears to hear and my spiritual heart to proclaim that I receive it all and will walk in it for the sake of my Lord Jesus Christ who died for me and now lives in me to open my spirit to all I am about to read. Amen!
‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ (Message to the Church of Ephesus Revelation 2:7)
‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’ (Message to Smyrna Revelation 2:11)
‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’ (Message to Pergamum Revelation 2:17)
‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Message to Thyatira Revelation 2:26-29)
‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Message to Sardis Revelation 3:4-6)
‘He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Message to Philadelphia Revelation 3:12-13)
‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Message to Laodicea Revelation 3:22)
Notice that while Jesus is warning those in authority within the church of what is to come, He will judge each individual. Look at the seven promises closely. This is a serious word. Jesus paid the ultimate price in His sacrifice to redeem us. There is a cost to us in walking it out daily until we are taken to our heavenly home! This is not a new teaching in Revelation! Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24) And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)
I am overwhelmed by God’s amazing love! Let’s stop for one more moment and see just how important it is saying “yes, I am available to You my God!”
You will see produced in your walk righteous acts bringing glory to the Lord. And then when you stand before Him as His bride, you will hear, Revelation 19:7-8, "let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright [and] clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Your spiritual garment of fine linen, bright and clean is based upon your righteous acts walked out while you were on the earth and said “yes” to what is written in this devotional. What will it mean to you if you hesitate and make no decision? We’ll allow Scripture to answer that question! “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Abba Father, Your love is so amazing! I can do nothing less than repeat the words of King David! “O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.” (Psalm 139:1-10) Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You died to give me life, Your life which is everlasting. You are truth and Your ways are perfect. I give You my life to do with as You will. Father, I thank You that You are faithful and hold me firmly in Your hand. All this I pray in the blessed name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen!