A Vessel Fit For The Master’s Use
July 27, 2014
Message, Tim LaFleur, Discipleship Pastor
During these days, we have been walking through the book of II Timothy, the Epistle of II Timothy. It is one of the pastoral epistles we have been walking through. And this, I can?t believe it, is our last installment of Career Opportunities. And here is what we have been trying to share with you with. We have been trying to share that every believer is to be a gospel co-worker. Every believer is to find out what their gifts and abilities are and engage them so that they can be employed to bring God glory. It is the idea that God works in us to work through us to meet the needs of others for His glory. Amen? And I can?t believe we are coming to the last service. And we have got an incredible text.
Look at it in II Timothy Chapter 2 and Verse 20. II Timothy Chapter 2 and Verse 20. And while you are turning there, let me say thank you to Bro. Robby and thank you so much for letting me have the privilege of being able to preach the Word of God. Now I don?t want you to misunderstand me, I am not sharing these things with you and encouraging you to get out of the pew and get into the game and work for the Lord. I am not doing that to try to get you to do something you don?t want to do. I am doing that because that is the next step. If you are learning about who Christ is, if you are learning to follow Jesus, one of the things you learn is you ought to be engaged in some kind of ministry. You ought to follow in His steps. And one things about the Lord Jesus is this, He served others. You recall in John 13, He took out a wash tub and He wrapped a towel around His waist and He washed the disciples? feet.
Now imagine that picture. The King of Glory washing the disciples? feet. And that is what God calls us to do, Amen? Look at it in Chapter 2 Verse 20. ?Now in a great house, there are not only vessels of gold and silver but vessels of wood and clay. Some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.? Do you see it? Some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.
Lets pray together. Father, we ask that you help me during this time to communicate Your Word. And God, more than anything else, I pray that our people would be vessels that are fit for the Master?s use. God, we want to be useful to You. We want you to work in us, to work through us to accomplish Your purposes. We pray, God, that as we examine this text that You give great insight, that You fill me with Your Spirit and You speak the very oracles of God as we surrender to you. And we pray it in the name, the strong and powerful name of Christ. Amen.
More than anything else, I want to be used of God. My passion, my desire, is to know Him in an intimate way and to make Him known. My desire is to show and to share the love of Christ with everybody everywhere. I wonder, is that your desire? Do you want more than anything else to be used of God.
I heard an old chorus many years ago by a woman, some of you who are involved in gospel music might have heard of this name. Her name is Audrea Myer. And here is the chorus, O to be used of God, to sing, to preach, to pray, to be used of God and help others to find their way. I long so much to feel the touch of His consuming fire, to be used of God, this is my great desire.
Is that the desire of your heart? Do you want to be useful to God? To be useful means to be suitable for service, to be a vessel that is fit for the Master?s use. The Apostle Paul said, we have a treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. And so he saw himself as a vessel that God could work in and work through to accomplish His purposes. This idea of usefulness is found in Scripture. Let me show you a couple of places.
Turn if you would in your Bible to II Timothy and Chapter 4, Verse 11. II Timothy 4:11. See it. Paul is coming to the end of his life and he is writing his beloved Timothy and he is saying, listen, Timothy, you come before winter. I am being poured out as a drink offering. I have fought the good fight. I have kept the faith. I have run the race. And then he talks about his state. Some have deserted him. But he says, look at what he says in Verse 11, he said, ?Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him to me. Bring him with you because he is very useful to me for ministry.? Do you see it? Very useful for ministry.
And that is God?s desire for your life and for mine, to be very useful for gospel ministry. Every believer is to be a gospel minister. Every believer is to allow God to work in their lives, to work through their lives to accomplish His purposes.
Look at Philemon just a few books over and Verse 11. There is only one chapter, so it is Verse 11 of Philemon. Now Paul is writing to Philemon about the slave Onesimus. Evidently Paul had led Onesimus to faith in Christ while in prison. And look at it in verse 11. He says, ?Formerly, speaking of Onesimus, he was useless to you. But now he is indeed useful to you and to me.? Do you see it? At one time he was useless. At one time he was not useful, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.
My goal this morning is simply this. I want to show you in the Word of God what God requires from this text so that you and I can be someone that God is pleased to use for His glory. That is what I want to try to accomplish today. I want to show you from the Word of God, from this text, how you and I can be people who are used of God, someone God is pleased to use, Amen? Is that your desire?
Listen, I want to tell you, if you have ever experienced the smile of God on your life, this is what you long for. You long to be used of God. I will never forget the first time I felt the smile of God on my life. I was a brand new believer. I was involved at LSU, involved in the college ministry there and had an opportunity to do summer missions. And I went away to North Carolina. Can you imagine a boy from the bayou going to North Carolina? The first day I got there, the director of the camp handed me a guitar and said, guess what? You are our new worship leader. I said, ?Excuse me. I don?t even know how to play the guitar.? He said, ?That is your problem! We have a camp fire every night and we want somebody to play the guitar.? So he handed me the guitar and he handed me a chord book and I learned to be a worship leader, if you can imagine that.
I had the opportunity during that summer to invest in the lives of young men. And that is where I began to get a passion for what God eventually would call me to do, to invest in the lives of others. And during that time, listen, I was worn out. It was hard work. I can identify with what I preached about last week, the hard working farmer because I was worn out. But you know what? It was the greatest time of my life because I was sensing the smile of God. I was using the gifts and abilities that God had given me. And God worked in my life. He was changing and rearranging some things. And He was helping me to meet the needs of the young men who I was involved in and with for His glory. Do you see it? That is what we are wanting. We want you to experience the fulness of God. We want you to experience joy unspeakable and full of glory. We want you to experience, to be a vessel that is in the Master?s hand and fit for His use.
Now the first thing I want you to see as we examine this passage of Scripture is this?I want you to see the word picture used here. Look at it in Verse 20, ?in the great house,? he says, ?there are vessels, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.? Do you see it? There are gold and silver vessels. There are wood and clay vessels. Some, the gold and silver for honorable use, others for dishonorable.
Now what does he mean by the Great House? Well, I am glad you asked. Look at Verse 19. It says, ?But God?s firm foundation stands.? We know in another place in the pastoral epistles that the church is referred to as God?s foundation and pillar of truth. So this is the church. The Great House is the church and the church not only has a firm foundation, but it is filled with various kinds of utensils that are used to furnish the house. And so the Apostle Paul uses this word picture of a vessel that is in a great house.
Now there are several things I want you to notice about the church. Look at the word ?sealed? in Verse 19. But God?s firm foundation stands bearing this seal. Do you see it? These believers at Ephesus would have been familiar with the Roman seal. And the Roman seal would speak of safety and security. And because something was sealed by Rome, understand that is was safe and it was secure. Why? Because it had all of Rome?s backing behind it.
Now think about the church of God. God?s foundation stands. It stands, it is firm. It is secure. It is safe. Why? Not because it is backed up by Rome, but because it is backed up by the living God. Amen? And you and I can know that our church will stand. The Lord Jesus said, ?Upon this rock I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.?
Now look at the last part of Verse 19. There is a godward focus and there is a manward focus here. Look at it. Here is what the seal is. The Lord knows those who are His and let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity. And so here in this text, you have the foundation. You have the seal of God upon His church. There is a godward focus. Look at it. The Lord know those who are His. And there is a manward focus, and that is for us. All of us who belong to Him are to depart from iniquity. That is what the Scripture says.
I like the way Warren Wiersbe says it. Here is what he says. He said, ?the Lord knows those who are His. He knows those who are the elect of God. And the elect of God prove it by living godly lives.? You want to show the world that you are a Christian? You want to show the world that you belong to Him? Prove it, Paul says, by living a godly life.
Now I don?t know about you, but I want to be a vessel that God can use. How about you? I don?t want to be like Onesimus was. I don?t want to be useless. I want to be useful.
How would that happen? I am glad you asked. Look at Verse 21. There are some modifiers in this verse. Look at what it says. It says, ?If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use.? And so the Scripture is quite clear, if we cleanses ourselves from what is dishonorable, we will be vessels for honorable use.
Now notice that we are the ones who ought to cleanse ourselves. And in this context, what Paul is telling Timothy is this: Timothy, you need to separate yourself from those false teachers and ungodly people that follow them. Separate yourself from them.
Now what does he mean by an honorable vessel? Notice the qualifiers. Set apart as holy, useful to the Master of the house, ready for every good work. Do you see it? Set apart as holy, useful to the Master of the house, and ready for every good work. What does he mean by set apart as holy? Because of the construction of the Greek, the tenses here, the idea that he is already set apart. This is something that God has already done in his life. And he is not just talking about the believer?s position in Christ, although I believe he is, he is talking about his practice. Listen, the moment you came to know the Lord, God set you apart. That is what the word ?saint? means. And we are the saints of God, Amen? And because when we trusted Christ, when the Lord Jesus came to live within us and indwell us by His Spirit, He set us apart as holy. But here he is talking about the practice of godliness. He is talking about the pursuit of holiness. He is talking about someone who as he said earlier, disciplined himself for the purpose of godliness. He is talking about saying no to sin. He is talking about saying no to the self-life. He is talking about crucifying self. He is talking about pursuing God. Your bent, your desire is to know God in a deep and intimate way. You are set apart as holy. And it is not just a positional thing, it is a practical thing because that is our practice. We want to be holy before the Lord. Why? Because we want to be people that are fit for the Master?s use. Amen? Is that you? Do you want to be holy before God?
We don?t talk much about holiness in the Baptist church, but we ought to, Amen? You shall be holy for I am holy, that is what God says.
We are not only set apart as holy, but the Scripture says that we are useful to the Master of the house. And here is the idea. The idea here is that we are submitted to God. The idea is, we are obedient to Him. Sometmes we say, no, Lord. But think about that. I was talking to Bro. Steve about this this past week. How can you say no to the One who is your Lord? You ought to say, Yes, Lord! To Your will and to Your way. Yes, Lord, to Your purposes. Yes, Lord, I am going to use my gifts and abilities for Your glory, to meet the needs of others so that Your work can be accomplished. Yes!
This was the mindset of the Lord Jesus. He bowed the knee to His Father. And I want to tell you, friend, if the Son of God would bow the knee to His Father, how much more should we bow the knee? Amen?
And then notice the last qualifier, ready for every good work. That is the idea of being available, being ready and willing to serve. When the Lord taps you on the shoulder, guess what, you get up and say, what is my assignment. I am getting in the game. And that is what we are encouraging you to do, to find out what your assignment is, the one that would allow you to use the gifts and abilities that you have and accomplish God?s purpose.
At the end of the service, we are going to encourage you. There is a little slip in your worship folder, we are going to encourage you to take that out and prayerfully consider helping and volunteering for ministry in the life of our church and globally. We are going to encourage you to do that.
I like what Henry Blackaby says. Listen, and while you are considering this, you need to hear this quote. Blackaby says this, a great man of God, he says, ?God is not so much concerned about your ability as He is about your availability.? Guess what? If you are available, we can train you and equip you to do gospel ministry. But the first thing you have got to surrender to God is your willingness.
Now I want to encourage you today, if you are not willing, say God, help me to be willing. Make me willing to be willing, so that I can he willing. That is a tongue twister, isn?t it? God, make me willing to be willing. Amen? God would do a deep work, Oh, that He would in our hearts, to say, Lord, I want to be willing to accomplish Your purposes. I want to be willing to labor together with You for Your glory.
You see, the problem in the church is this: there are so many that are not available to God. Would you be one today who would say, yes, Lord, to Your will, to Your way, to Your purpose. Yes. I want to be an honorable vessel. You see, here is the deal. There is a sharp contrast here. The honorable vessel was proudly displayed. The honorable vessel was used for serving or for eating. The honorable vessel was one that the Master of the house was proud of. But the dishonorable vessel was hidden. It was used for ignoble purposes, dishonorable purposes. That is what that word means, if you have the old authorized version. Ignoble means dishonorable. It was hidden and it was used to carry away garbage and waste. That is not the vessel I want to be. Amen? I want to be the vessel that is fit for the Master?s use.
The second thing I want you to see in this passage is this: there is not only the word picture here but there is also this question that we have got to ask ourselves. What must I do to be an honorable vessel. What must I do to be useful to God? What must I do to be someone that God is pleased to use and to work through? What do I have to do?
Well, there are a couple of things you have to do according to the text. The first thing is this: you have got to pursue a pure fellowship. Notice the context. Paul was admonishing Timothy. Listen, you have got to remove yourselves from association with these false teachers and the ungodly people that follow them. Here is what you have got to do: you have got to cleanse yourself from that which is dishonorable. Look at it in Verse 21. ?Therefore, cleanse yourself from that which is dishonorable.? Do you see it? ?If anyone cleanses himself from that which is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use.? Any questions?
Paul is telling Timothy, listen, you have got to choose your associations. You have got to separate yourself from that which is dishonorable. But I think there is a greater application here for you and I and listen very carefully. Come in close, as Pastor says, and listen. You and I must separate ourselves from anyone or anything that would defile us. This is a clear teaching of scripture. We don?t want to be judgmental, we don?t want to have a critical spirit, we don?t want to point the finger. That is not what I am saying. But here is what we must do. We must guard our associations. We must separate ourselves from anything or anyone that would defile or drag us down. That is not who we want to be with. We want to be around those people who love God and who serve God and we want to be a help to help others up, not hang around with folks who drag us down.
Turn in your Bibles to Psalm Chapter 1 if you would. Psalm Chapter 1. When you get there, say ?word.? Psalm Chapter 1. Look at what the Scripture says. ?Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked nor stands in the way of sinners nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the Law of the Lord and on His Law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither, in all that he does, he prospers.? Do you see it?
Now notice Verse 1, the profile of a godly man. Blessed is the man. Oh, the blessedness. One is blessed of God who doesn?t walk in the counsel of the wicked nor stand in the way of sinners nor sit in the seat of scoffers. Do you see it? What is he saying here? He is saying that if one would be godly, if one would be right with Him, there are some people that you can?t hang out with. There are some things that you can?t do. There are some places you can?t go.
And here in the Scripture in II Timothy, Paul is telling Timothy, listen, if you want to be a vessel for honorable use, you have got to cleanse yourself from that which is dishonorable. Do you see it? So whatever it is that would defile you, cleanse yourself from it. It might be people. The Scripture says in I Corinthians 15:33, ?Be not deceived (what?) bad company ruins good morals.? Bad company ruins good morals. Anything or anyone that would defile, you have got to separate yourself from these things.
Now I know that is not a popular message, but it is what the Bible teaches. Amen? If you would be an honorable vessel, if you would be useful to God, there comes a point where you have got to decide, who do you want to please? Do you want to please men or do you want to please God? Would to God that believers would seek more the approval of God than the applause of men. Amen?
I don?t know about you, but I want to be useful to God. I want His approval. I want to please Him. So you are to pursue a pure fellowship.
But then you are also to pursue a pure heart. Pursue a pure heart. Look at it in Verse 22. The Scripture says, ?So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with all those who call on the name of the Lord from a pure heart.? Pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love and peace.
John MacArthur writes about this verse and here is what he says. He says, ?To be useful to God, you have got to kind of be a running man.? There was an old dance in the 70s the students used to do, in the 80?s called The Running Man. Do you remember that? It was real funny. It was a guy running in place, you know. But that is what we have got to do as believers, we have got to be running men, running women. What do you mean? Run from sin and run to God. Run from youthful passions and run to righteouness and faithfulness and love and peace.
What are youthful passions? Youthful passions are the passions that begin in our youth. And it is amazing, they follow us all the way to adulthood. Imagine that! Think about it. These are not limited to this list, okay. There could be any number of things. Sexual immorality, pride, the desire for money, greed, status, material gain, all these things. Paul tells Timothy, run from them, flee from them.
Now how do you do that? How would some?here is an application. How in the world do you do that? How do you flee youthful lusts? How do you flee youthful passions? A couple of ways. You might want to mark them down.
One way is you do like Joseph did when you are in that situation, you run. What happened in the life of Joseph? Do you recall in the book of Genesis? Joseph is sold into slavery and he winds up at Potiphar?s house. There is only one problem, he is elevated because of his loyalty to God. He is elevated to a place of leadership, but he has got great freedom. And the problem with that is, there is a Mrs. Potiphar who is after him. She makes these advances toward him. And there comes a point of decision where Joseph said, ?How could I do this wrong before God and my Master.? And after she continually pursues him, he takes off. He gets out of Dodge, if you will. He leaves where he is at. In fact, it got him in trouble because he left his robe behind. There are times when the best way to fight sexual temptations and other temptations that we face these youthful passions, is to run.
But then another way to find victory is to abide in the Word of God. Turn if you would to Psalm 119 and Verse 9. We will begin there. When you get there, say ?word.? Psalm 119 Verse 9. ?How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word. With my whole heart I seek after Thee. Let me not wander from Your commandments. I have stored up Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.? How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word. I have laid up, I have stored up, I have treasured Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.
The Scripture says in I Corinthians 10, ?No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man. God is faithful not to allow you to be tempted beyond that which you are able, but with the temptation will also provide a way of escape.? Let me say to you that I have resisted temptation because I have hid the word of God in my heart. That is one of the benefits of memorizing scripture. When temptation comes, you can recognize it. Why? Because your mind has been renewed by the Word of God. You want to flee youthful passions? Run from them and abide in the Word. Run from sin and run to God. Amen?
The second thing he says is that you are to follow after. You are to flee from these things but now you are to follow after. What? You are to pursue, it says in Verse 22, righteousness, faithfulness, love and peace. I think in the ESV it says righteousness, faith, love and peace. Righteousness is being right with God. We are to pursue that. We are to pursue, the Scripture says, being right with Him. And that means a lot of things to a lot of us. I don?t know what the Holy Spirit is saying to you, but is that your desire more than anything else. You want to be right and in right standing with God.
If you are a believer, you are in right standing, as far as your position is concerned, but how about your practice. Are you doing those things that please God? He also say, pursue faith. It ought to be translated faithfulness. God, I am not faithful, but make me faithful, Lord. I am pursuing this. I want to be faithful to you. I want to be loyal to You. I want to be the kind of person You can use.
He says pursue righteousness, pursue faithfulness, pursue love. That is the Greek word ?agape.? It is a love in spite of. I just have a hard time understanding how anybody could love me. Thank God for His mercy. Thank God for His grace. Amen? And because God share His love with me, guess what? I can take that same love and share it with others, even when they are unlovable. Is that you? When somebody does something to upset you, do you write them off? Or do you say, God, help me to love this person? Help me to be kind to this person. Help me to perform acts of kindness toward them so that I can express Your love to them.
I don?t want to be critical. I don?t want to be judgmental. I want to love them. And some way, somehow trust that You can bring them back to where they need to be. And in peace is that tranquility we have when we practice the presence of God. When we are praying and we are living according to Biblical principles, that is the peace of God. Do you want to be a person God can use? Flee from youthful passions and follow after righteouness and faithfulness and love and peace.
So maybe you a wondering, what do I do now? Here is the time of invitation. I don?t want you to miss it. Look in your Worship Folder. And in your Worship Folder, there is a card and it says Brainerd Serve, do you see it? And here is what we want you to do. We want you to fill this out and identify an area that you would like to be involved in. Maybe you are already serving. And here is the deal. We don?t want the same people to do all the jobs in the church. We don?t want the same people to have the privilege of using their gifts and abilities to do everything in the church. We want to see every believer engaged in ministry in some form or fashion. And so here is your time. And if I am going to be true to the test, I am going to have to ask you what the Scripture says, are you willling to present yourself to God as a vessel that He can use?
You might not know what area. There are some very general areas here. But you know what? In the foyer and in the back in the Welcome Center, we have this booklet that lists about 40 position descriptions of ministry areas in the life of our church and we would like you to take the time to look through this as you exit the building. I am going to be in the Next Step area. If God has spoken to your heart, I would like to hear from you. I want you to tell me what God is doing in your life, what God is doing in your heart.
Bro. Steve is going to be at the front here. If you need to come and make these steps at the altar to pray, we want to encourage you to come and pray. But understand this, God is more concerned about your availability than He is your ability. God doesn?t call the equipped, He equips the called. And if you will be available to God, what He will do is He will put you in a position where you can be equipped to do ministry. And like I did so many years ago, put myself out there and was pleasantly surprised when I felt the smile of God on my life.
I want to tell you, Church, there is nothing like it, to be gifted of God. It comes from Him. To be given abilities that you can use for His glory. There is nothing like it. I want to encourage you.