God Makes Us into Worthy Vessels
< Genesis 1:16-19 >
�Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.?/b>
God made the stars and placed them in the heavens to give light to this earth. Today, I would like to speak to you about the role of the God-made stars. That God made the stars means that God made His workers on this earth.
In the Old Testament, the people of Israel brought gold and offered it to God to build the Tabernacle, and some of this gold was hammered into a lampstand, others into gold vessels and spoons. Just as the people of God made the articles used in the Tabernacle with gold, God has given true faith to you and me who now believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and He has refined our hearts, so that we may lack nothing to be used as His servants. As we are now trained with the Word of God, we are being shaped into the people of faith, into God�s workers.
God wants to mold His children into workers worthy of using for His Kingdom. So we see how God permits various circumstances to His people. Through these different circumstances, God is refining you and me until we are shaped into instruments ideal for His use.
When a sculptor makes a statue, he carves it with a sculpting knife or chips it away with a chisel. Sometime he glues different pieces together, other times he breaks them apart, and through all this process he shapes the mold into the figure that he wants to make. Likewise, God also shapes the saints in this way. In order to mold them into His useful instruments, God trains them through necessary courses. For those who are unable to deny themselves, God enables them to do so by putting them into a situation where they are able to deny themselves, and He renews them more for His use. As God has given us His Word, He is making us follow His Word by faith. God is training us, fit for each of us.
Each of us must give up our own carnal thoughts before God and believe in His Word. It is because we have our own thoughts that we want to preserve our old things, but God wants to transform our carnal thoughts. That is why God allows us to find ourselves in various circumstance and face different situations, thus breaking our flawed thoughts and making us believe and follow the Word of God. God does not want to use your old selves, but He wants to shape you into the vessels of His desire and use your renewed selves.
Put differently, our thoughts are different from God�s thoughts. All that there is to our carnal thoughts is about the things that we have experienced so far. We try to approach God with our own carnal thoughts. You try to protect yourselves instinctively, rather than approaching God with your true selves to be transformed by faith. However, this is not what God wants from us.
God said, �Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.?/i> God sows seeds on this exposed land, and He wants these seeds to sprout, grow, and really bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit that He desires. God wants all our evil nature to be fully exposed as it is, and He wants us to see our wicked selves, believe in the grace that He has bestowed for such wicked people, and live the life of righteousness.
Like this, God wants to renew us with His Word. In today�s Scripture passage, that God made the stars means that He wants to make us, the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, into His servants and use us as His instruments. That is why no matter under what circumstances you might find yourselves, you must listen carefully to what God is saying, and obey it by faith. That�s because God is shaping us into His servants in all circumstances. The Lord says, �In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths?(Proverbs 3:6).
God Reveals His Will with His Word
No matter to what kind of circumstances God might lead us, in the end, it is a process by which God is making us according to His will, turning us into His worthy vessels. Therefore, the wise thing for you and me to do is to obey the Word of God in faith as soon as possible. By nature, you and I tend to dislike it when our flesh is broken and made new by faith. However, when God demands patience from us and makes us deny ourselves, we must obey accordingly in faith. To do so, God wants to fill our shortcomings with the Word, break the righteousness of our flesh, and mold us into those who are able to do His work by faith. To this end, we must quickly confess, �God, this is how wicked and insufficient I am,?and believing in the Word of God who has bestowed His grace on such people, become people of faith. We must stand firmly on our faith in the Word of God.
God continues to shape us ceaselessly until His will is fulfilled. If there are carnal impurities in our hearts, He removes them, and He breaks down our own human righteousness. When God breaks our righteousness, we tend to think, �So my existence is over now.? However, once breaking the righteousness of the flesh, God has given us the faith of power, so that we may live trusting only in the righteousness of God. This is the powerful faith that is based on the Word of God.
It is too difficult for us to try to live our lives of faith with our own righteousness. Once the righteousness of our flesh is broken, however, we can experience for ourselves that it is by the righteousness of God that we are living. In the end, we are made according to God�s desire and used by Him as His instruments. It�s a blessing for us to become so before God. God makes it impossible for all of us to live without faith in the righteousness of God: For those who pretend to be noble like glass vessels, God breaks down their nobility, and for those whose own will is stubborn and hard like a rock, God softens them to lose their stubbornness. Also, God drains the water of this world from those who still have many attachments to this world even though they believe in God�s Word.
Sometimes God even sends someone who cannot tolerate heat to Africa as a missionary. We must be able to do God�s work wherever we might find ourselves, whether in a cold place or a hot place. The Apostle Paul confessed, �I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need? (Philippians 4:12). From this, we can see how faithfully Paul was trained by God to be His servant.
What we should all remember is that no matter what circumstances we might be facing, we must believe in God�s Word and obey it. If we want to lead a spiritually correct life of faith before God, then we must accept the Word of God into our hearts. If we do not accept God�s Word into our hearts and instead try to live with some type of our own carnal wisdom or righteousness, God will invariably break us apart. God wants our hearts to have nothing of our own, but only His Word to be accepted into them. He wants us to become the kind workers who serve Him with our hearts filled with His Word alone. That is why even today, God is molding us into His. So there is no need for us to fear about the righteousness of our flesh being broken.
Our righteousness of the flesh must be broken before God, so that we may be able to work according to God�s pleasure. We should not insist on our carnal stubbornness before God. Instead, we should believe in God�s Word, fill our hearts with His Truth, and be transformed into such workers that preach His gospel all over the earth. To achieve this, we must accept God�s Word into our hearts by faith. Our hearts cannot change unless we accept God�s Word. Spiritual transformation is possible for us only when we accept God�s Word into our hearts, and only when we hold onto this Word of God. Only when we become people of faith can God use us freely and entrust us with His work.
While leading my life of faith to this day, and following the Lord all this time, I, too, have been amazed many times to see what God has done to me. I am fully aware of just how well God knows me, and how fittingly He has trained me. God knows all about my heart, and it is with this full understanding that He leads me. I have also had many experiences where God rebuked me and pointed out my failures whenever my heart was misplaced.
My fellow believers, God is molding you into His servants. When God wants to make you His people and servants, can there be any objections? Can you really hold a grudge against Him for this? Of course not! Among our students at the mission school, there are some married couples as well. Even though a married couple is of one heart and one body, God molds the husband and the wife separately.
You need to realize that you came here to the mission school to be made new by God. As a matter of fact, God�s workers labor hard for His work. We work all the time, day and night. We also think about tomorrow�s work, and we have the overall purpose of serving the will of God in our minds when we plan and work in detail. So given this, just how many workers are needed? We came here to be made into the vessels that are used according to the will of the Lord. That is why we desire to be used for God�s work, and for the building of His Kingdom.
While you are being made into His servants, you must first believe in and hold onto the Word that your old selves had died. For God to make us His workers, we must have faith in His Word above all. We should hold onto the Word of God, place our faith in it, and yearn to be made into the kind of workers that are ideal for God�s use. Only when we willingly submit ourselves to be made into the people of faith by God can both our Lord and we be content. As our Lord shapes us for His use, we should be molded smoothly, or otherwise it will take more time, and the Lord will not be too pleased. Since we are to be molded according to the will of the Lord anyway, we need to obey.
When a craftsman seeks to hammer a nugget of gold into a spoon, if the nugget cries out, �Ouch! It hurts!?and flies off whenever it is hammered, then the craftsman will obviously not be pleased. If the nugget refused to be molded and flies off every time the craftsman hammers it with a certain shape in mind, then he has no choice but to pound it even more until it is all beat up. This gold should be molded by the craftsman; how can it fly off just because it hurts? If the lump of gold is not fit for its master�s use, then its life is over.
So, when our Master shapes us, even if there is pain, we should endure it and follow the Lord, contemplating on His will even more deeply. When we reflect before the Lord, �Why am I now suffering like this, so troubled and agonized??we can realize what it means to be trained by the Lord, and so we can endure all our difficulties. The brothers and sisters who are now being trained in the mission school are different from the ordinary lay believers.
Church leaders are apt to approve laymen at the slightest achievement. But it�s because these laymen are not God�s workers yet that they are praised for even small things they have done. However, you, who are now being trained as God�s workers, should not even expect to be commended. Is there anything good, were it not for us to be made into God�s workers? No, there is nothing good. The saints are mere saints on this earth, not the stars in the sky. The stars shine from above day and night.
Just as God made the stars in the sky, now we know that we must be made new by God to become His workers. Now, you and I are being made into the stars in the sky. God teaches those who have no faith in His Word to have this faith. So God turns the lowly into the noble, and the noble into the lowly. That is what our God does. That�s because the noble and the lowly are both too difficult to be used if they remain as they are. That is why God molds them according to how He intends to use them. Since it�s hard for the lowly to preach the gospel to the noble as they are, they must be turned into the noble, and since the noble are too lofty for God to use them freely, He makes them preach the gospel by turning them into the lowly.
With His Word of power, God is molding both you and me alike. We may not be aware of all this, but God is shaping us all. However, if you look back and see how much you have changed since receiving the remission of your sins, you will acknowledge that God has indeed changed us in many ways.
God is constantly shaping us into His workers. Are you unhappy with this, complaining to God, �I can�t understand why God is making me like this against my wish. He just doesn�t know me at all? But such thoughts are all your own carnal thoughts.
God is not someone who does not know us. On the contrary, He is the omniscient God; He knows everything about us. The Bible says that He is even counting the hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30). Such omniscient God is refining us to mold us into His workers.
Are you now facing difficult circumstances and suffering? If so, then believe that this is all part of the process by which God is making you into His workers according to His will. It is because the Lord will ultimately turn you into His servants in the end that He is now refining you continuously. The vessels that are promptly made by the Lord will be used preciously for the Lord�s work. In contrast, those who do not relent their stubbornness soon but insist on their obstinacy will suffer for long.
God trains us in various aspects. He teaches us to cope with poverty, and He teaches us to deal with wealth as well. If we do not know how to deal with wealth, our faith will be finished as soon as we become rich, and so we must know how to cope with affluence also. We must become the kind of people who do not go out into the world even when we attain material prosperity.
Everyone thinks that he is the only one having so much hardship while serving the Lord, but in fact, everyone else is also facing difficulties. You and I alike go through difficult trials while doing God�s work. At a quick glance, we may think that some people are just lucky to serve the Lord in so much comfort, but when we look more closely, they all are struggling in their own way. Our ministers keep themselves quiet, but when we look at them in this light, we can see that they are also struggling with certain issues and going through a great deal of suffering. Through all these things, God is molding these servants for a certain end.
You are now being trained in the mission school, but those of you who have too much of your own things are difficult to be made into God�s workers. While attending this mission school, you must wholeheartedly believe in the Word of God preached by His servants and accept it into your hearts, and only then can you bear all your hardships and be trained properly. That we can bear all things and do God�s work is all because of our faith in the Word.
We should not try to do God�s work without first accepting His Word into our hearts, through the strength or power of our own flesh, or with the knowledge or experiences that we had before we were born again. If we try to follow God with our own carnal thoughts or strength, then we will never be able to follow Him until the end. It is only when we follow the Lord always with the grace of God that we can do His Work until the end.
Sometimes, God�s servants deliberately make it hard for you on certain issues. Long ago, I once asked my congregation to build walls and put in a heating system for a chapel that was about 230 m² (2,500 square feet) in size. I knew very well that the brothers at my church were no experts at this, but I still called them all and asked them to work. When I asked them to buy cement in the wee hours, they wondered where they could buy it this late in night. I then told them to do whatever necessary to get it, even if they had to pound on a hardware store.
As I looked at these saints?hearts, I could see that they had just labored continuously without folding away their carnal minds. I needed to break down their minds. Once I even told the saints to take out the heating system that they had put it, and replace it with a new one. So after Sunday�s worship service was over, I gathered them all together and told them to take apart the chapel floor again. In the afternoon, after the morning worship service was over, another round of construction began. Some of them came to me to voice their objection, saying, �Why do you want to take it out? It�s all finished nicely. You should have told us what you wanted to do from the beginning. How can you do this, after we put so much effort into it??/p>
Regardless of how high or low one�s position might be in the world, before God, his thoughts must be broken for him to be used as a worker. As I trained the congregation for a year like this, from then on, they all obeyed me the moment I spoke. They were all properly trained. From then on, no matter what I asked them to do, they obeyed without any grumbling. After this, on my part, I also became reasonable in my request.
Our ministers get together to play soccer once in a while. As a player dribbles the ball, sometimes it would go out of bounds ever so slightly. The opposing team would insist that the ball is out of play, but the other team would insist that it�s not. It all gets quite noisy and the game would be stopped for a while. Like this, if one does not break his heart and does not deny himself, then God cannot entrust His work to him. If there is �self? before God, then we cannot do His work.
Do the saints in our church have �self?in them? No. God trains all laymen and workers alike. As God leads them, if any of them disobeys His will, then God will train him more. God shapes us like this, by making us go through various experiences in church. When we fulfill what has been entrusted to us by faith, God will entrust us with an even greater task.
God does not want to assign just one task of His work to one person. When we do God�s work well by faith, He entrusts us with more work. If I am unable to fulfill what has been entrusted to me, then God assigns it someone else and redirects me toward some other task. None of us can please the Lord with the strength and power of our own flesh. It is only by the spiritual power given by God, and by the power of our faith in His Word, that we can serve Him. This is the faith of Truth.
In general, when a married couple is going through a spiritually tough time, the wife would nag at her husband, and the husband would be annoyed by his wife. The husband would blame his wife for his troubles, and the wife would blame her husband for her troubles. This is how most couples tend to think. So the wife thinks, �I�m sure it�s all because of my husband that I�m having so much trouble, and no one respects me,?and the husband, in turn, thinks, �This is what I am all because of my wife.?Clearly, most people think like this at the beginning.
However, once time goes by, they come to realize that whatever situation they might be facing, it�s not because of their husband or wife, but all because of themselves. But, at the beginning, people invariably snap at their partner who is closest to them. Are you not like this also? Instead of blaming your partner and complaining, �I have to go through this hardship all because of you,?I admonish you to believe that all these things are actually part of the process by which God is molding us.
Having shaped us into His workers, God uses us as the right instruments in the right place. When you are faithful to a certain role, God will use you for another role; in this way, God wants you to be able to do all things. God wants you to reign over the whole Garden of Eden. How would you feel if you were sent to a place that you did not want to go? �Why did God send me here? Why must I be here, when someone who is even less talented than me is over there??Wouldn�t you conclude like this in your own way, and think that God is not fair?
But God always works in a fitting way. You were sent to where you are now because this is what you need. Just because it doesn�t quite fit in with your own thoughts or fails to meet your own expectations, this does not mean that the circumstances and conditions are bad. I admonish you all to realize that God permitted such circumstances in order to use you as His workers. We can see how God trains laymen like this.
God makes the stars. God makes His servants into the people of faith. It is for this purpose that God made the stars in the sky. Those who have no faith in material affairs, God makes them get their financial problems solved by placing their faith in Him. Also, those who have no faith in planting church or preaching the gospel to souls, God makes them fulfill this task by faith, by relying on Him and trusting Him. Everyone else is all like this. God trains us so that we would pray in faith for all problems and get them solved. God molds us into the people of faith, into His useful instruments, and into His blessed servants. We cannot train ourselves to be God�s servants on our own. It is God who shapes us. Even at this very moment, He is molding us all. And He is using us as His instruments. God is turning you into His workers.
I believe that God is molding our ministers, as well as our brothers and sisters, into His workers. When we are too weak, He opens a way for us to find some rest, and when we are too strong, He breaks us. God works like this in His power. We may not have realized it all this time, but we now know that we have been made by God. Once we go through this process, we come to realize that God has shaped us. And we can also appreciate just how easier it now is to work, once we are shaped by God. If we have little faith in God, He addresses our faithlessness and makes us have faith.
Only when we are trained properly during our stay at the mission school can we adapt ourselves to continue to serve the Lord into the future. If there are ministers who have not been trained in faith, God will train them again. That�s because I, too, used to be like this once, and even at this moment, I am still being trained continuously. If hardships still come your way, I admonish you to believe that it�s because you need such training that these things are permitted. Even though it�s hard to do God�s work, all of us must go through this process. We may be struggling, but we must still accept the Word of God and fulfill our task by faith. That is why we are now being trained at the mission school.
We, too, had a very tough time when we first opened this mission school in 1991. We even had to pray for daily bread. When the church had some offerings, we could eat on that day, and when there was no offering, we could not eat. Since it was such a tough time, when someone in the congregation invited us to dinner, I along with the trainees ate so much on that day. We ate as much as we could, since if we did not fill ourselves now, we would regret it tomorrow when hunger returns. But now, we�ve disciplined even in our eating habits so that we don�t succumb to gluttony.
When we plant a new church of God, it�s the best time to be trained spiritually. Faith is most needed when we try to implement faithfully what God�s Church has entrusted us. You all know how financially challenged a new church can be, right? To put up even a window in the nursery requires financial means, and so all that we can do is pray to God for help. So we put in the window piece by piece, when we had just enough money to pay for it. Words cannot express all the difficulties that we have faced while serving the Lord.
When I was ministering at my church in the beginning, I faced tremendous hardships. However, through such difficulties, God made me into His worker. He made me serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and do the work of this gospel. Who knew that we would come to do God�s work like this?
Ever since I began to minister as a servant of the Lord, I have preached this gospel of the water and the Spirit. However, the ministers who were working me at the time had a different faith from mine. Hearing what I said when I preached the gospel to souls, they used to say, �Huh? He�s different from me, isn�t he??Countless pastors in this world do not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit and do not believe in it. Their ministry, in other words, has nothing to do with God�s gospel of the water and the Spirit.
However, I was completely absorbed to gather together souls and preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. When I had an argument with my wife and got into a bad mood, I picked up my Bible briefcase and went out to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
It�s impossible for a married couple to never get into a quarrel. It�s only natural for them to squabble when times are rough. This was the same for me as well. When I quarreled with my wife, I used to go to a hospital, and preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to the patients. Whenever a soul received the remission of his sins after listening to the gospel of the water and the Spirit, I got so elated. So after preaching the gospel, I would come back home filled with the Spirit. And I talked to my wife about what had happened. As I shared God�s blessings with wife like this, we both felt gratified, and so we forgot all about our fight and were reconciled in no time. We then prayed together for the soul.
It�s not that I don�t realize how tough it is to serve the gospel. Rather, it�s because this gospel is so precious, and because it is the work of life that saves souls, that I am doing this work, having accepted the Word of God in obedience. Even though it�s hard and difficult, we labor in joy, all the while admitting our own insufficiencies. Even if it is too hard, it�s because we believe that the Lord�s work is too precious that we are still doing it.
The servants of God may look cold-hearted in human eyes. People who knew me before often say that I�ve changed because I used to be very compassionate. I couldn�t turn my attention from the poor and needy, and tried to take care of them as much as I could. I used to live like this before, trying to take care of everyone else. But now, I can�t do this anymore. Why? Because I�ve come to know that to save people�s souls is far more precious than to help them in material matters. Because this work that saves soul is so precious, I am willing to do anything if it would be beneficial to preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Our God has called us as His workers. I thank Him for calling us as His laborers. As we preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit, sometimes we struggle with hardships and difficulties, but it is still a blessing for us to live as God�s workers.
If you are struggling while following the Lord, I admonish you to accept the Word of God even more. In times of struggle, it is this God-given Word that enables us to overcome our hardships. When we accept God�s Word into our hearts, faith will spring forth. God will make us overcome our difficulties. For us, the Word of God is our life. We will live when we have the Word of God, but we will die without it.
Hallelujah! God has become our strength and our Shepherd. God has shaped us into His workers.