Romans – Wayne Barber/Part 75
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2007|
|If you’ve ever seen how different individuals fit in the body of Christ and how God works through each and every one of them to accomplish this work, you can really see this in Romans 16:1-16.|
The Body of Christ, Part 1
I cannot believe that we’re in chapter 16. We’re going to begin a series that will run down through verse 16 of this chapter entitled “The Body of Christ.” If you’ve ever seen how different individuals fit in the body of Christ and how God works through each and every one of them to accomplish this work, you can really see this in Romans 16:1-16.
When you come to chapter 16 and you realize that he’s sending his greetings, the temptation is to skip it and go on to something else. When I got to it, I thought, “Oh me! Are we going to wade through all of this?” Oh! Thank the Lord for His forgiveness. The more I got into it the more I realized some of the greatest truths and the summation of so much truth that we’ve seen in Romans is found right here in the verses that close out Romans.
Paul’s going to point out some folks who were the unsung heroes, you could say, of that time. God uses a lot of people to get His work done. We see the people who were out front like the Apostle Paul and others. In today’s time, they would have the Billy Graham’s, etc. The people who work behind the scenes are so clearly important to what God is doing. Never forget that. Man tends to push people and pump them up, but God sees it all as one great big work that He’s doing and He has many who have a smaller piece of the pie. He has others who have a larger piece of the pie that we talked about in Romans 12. But He uses them all to accomplish His will and His work.
Have you ever sat by a campfire or a fire at home in your fireplace and watch it burn and just get mesmerized by the flames? Every now and then something in the fire just flares up. It’s like it just gets brighter for a few seconds. Then it just sort of disappears. You don’t see it again. The fire has to be at a certain point before that happens. Well, to me, it’s kind of like that in Romans 16. These are some of the precious people you haven’t heard of before and you’ll never hear of again in the New Testament. But because of the Holy Spirit working through Paul, Paul just brings them to the surface. They light up. You see them and then they disappear on the pages of time. They were so important to the work that God was doing in His kingdom. In their willingness they were just as faithful as the Apostle Paul, but they were not seen or heard from like he was. We’re going to be surprised one day when we get to Glory at the ones who are up front and what they’re going to be rewarded. We think of the ones that are seen down here. But the ones behind the scenes are so very important to what God is doing.
When I played ball in college, I had a friend who was a scorer in basketball and averaged about twenty-eight points a game. He was six-five. He used to walk by my room and say, “Well, Barber, have you been reading my clippings lately?” He was just doing that to goad us. I would always point to my nose. My nose sits over on the side of my face. There’s a huge hump right in the middle. My nose has been broken five times; four times in basketball. I would be under the boards getting the ball out to my friend who got all the glory. So every time he’d walk by the room and say, “Hey, Wayne, been reading my clippings lately?” I’d always point to my nose which was sideways on my face and he’d leave me alone and walk on down the hall. Why? Because he might have gotten the points and been the center of attention, but if there hadn’t been four other guys out there on the floor getting their heads knocked around, he would have never gotten the points that he had gotten.
That’s exactly what we’re seeing here, the team effort, the family effort, the body of Christ that is working together. Well, when a believer lives the surrendered life, Romans 12:1-2, that’s the well out of which all of this flows. If they’re living a surrendered life, “Lord, I present my body as a loving offering to you,” then God’s going to take them and use them. They’re going to get to test for themselves what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. It’s the will of God that determines if we will be involved in what He’s up to in these days. It doesn’t matter if it’s man, woman, boy or girl. It does not matter. It doesn’t matter if they are educated or uneducated. It doesn’t matter if they’re tall or short, young or old. God is looking for surrendered people. Some will be more known about than others. But all of us are instrumental and important in the purposes that God has.
Remember, Romans 12:4-5 says, “For just as we have many members in onebody and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, areone body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” And so it is. We needeach other. God uses us all to accomplish His work while we’re here on this earth.
Now, one of the things that you’re going to notice here in chapter 16 is the mention of the women who are being used for Christ. Sometimes women just feel like, “We just have to stay at home and take care of kids. Can’t ever do anything. We’re just not usable to God at all.” That’s not right and what we’re going to see in this list are particularly the women that God uses.
We’re going to begin the list with a lady named Phoebe, a woman who said, “God, I present my body a living sacrifice.” God used this woman in His kingdom’s work. We must remember God will take anyone who will surrender themselves to Him and make them a part of His eternal work. If you feel like you’re not usable then that’s just a lie of the devil. You get surrendered to Christ. You say, “Here am I, God. Use me.” And God will use you if it’s nothing more than having a prayer meeting in your house, if it’s nothing more than being hospitable to the saints. Whatever it is, it all pays a role to effect the work that God is doing.
Okay. My points will be the people God mentions all the way down through verse 16. Point one, first of all, Paul mentions Phoebe. Look at verse 1 of Romans 16. “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church with us at Cenchrea;…” Now the word “commend” comes from two words, sun, together with, and histemi, which means to stand. Paul says, “I take my stand with her.” In other words, I commend her. I’m right alongside her. I give all of my recommendation to her. When the Apostle Paul, the bondservant of Christ, the great man of God, puts his stamp of approval on somebody sit up and take notice. There’s something about their life.
The word “Phoebe” is the word in the Greek that means radiant, even has the sense of being pure. So we have a radiant person here, a person who is pure in her walk with the Lord God. She is called a servant of the church of Cenchrea. Now where in the world is Cenchrea? Remember Paul wrote the book of Romans from Corinth. Corinth was like an isthmus. It stuck out into the water. It had a seaport on one side and a seaport on the other side. On the eastern side towards Asia was the little seaport of Cenchrea, about seven miles from the main city of Corinth. The church that would have been there would probably have been the daughter church of the main church that was at Corinth.
The term “servant” has been the cause of much confusion in Christianity because many people say that since she was a servant of the church of Cenchrea, then evidently a deaconess was an official position of women in the church in that particular century. I can understand why people see that. Is that what Paul is saying? The word that is used there that makes it more confusing is the word diakonos. In 1 Timothy diakonos refers to the office of deacon, but the word also means servant. A diakonos is simply a menial servant. It’s still not a position of honor. It’s a position of service. The word means a menial servant. I’m at the restaurant and my tea glass gets empty, somebody walks by and says, “Hey, do you need another glass of tea?” “Thank you. Can you bring some ice?” “Is there anything else you need?” That’s what the word means.
So therefore, the thing that causes confusion is you can use it either way. Whether it’s in an official position or not, if a position is a servant, that’s the word you’re going to use for them. It’s a menial servant. It’s someone who wants to do for somebody else. Now when you try to make it so that a woman, a deaconess, a woman servant, was in an official position in the church the ground is very shaky that you’re standing on. I’m not going to fight anybody over it. We have the elder system, and I believe that is exactly right. You have women who serve. You have men who serve. But I want to show you that it’s the men who are put in the official position of service, not the women. I didn’t make this up. This is from God’s word.
Let’s go back to the original pattern of deacons. Where did they come from? What is the whole purpose of having these people alongside in official positions anyway? Go to Acts 6. The seven men who were chosen in Acts 6 were not official deacons as they became later on. But this is the very beginning of the early church and the pattern that was set. The apostles, of course, were the ones in official positions. Later on there were elders of the church, etc. But here’s the pattern in Acts 6:1. It says, “Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. And the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. But select from among you, brethren, seven women of good reputation.’” Is that what your scripture says? No! Seven men. Okay, “’seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.’ And the statement found approval with the whole congregation.”
Now, two of the most noteworthy of these original seven men who were appointed to come along side the apostles were Stephen and Philip. Later on they became evangelists in the work of the ministry that God had assigned. The day by day care of the churches fell upon the deacons as the helpers to the elders who held the distinct office. The actual office of deacon came later on as the church began to grow and is found in 1 Timothy 3:8-12. This is when they became an official servant of the church, appointed as such to come alongside the elders who were in the positions of leadership.
Nowhere can you find that the deacon had anything to do with leadership in the church. It was the servanthood of the church. It’s not a position of honor even here in 1Timothy 3:8-12. It’s a position of service. We must understand that. I tell you what, when you’re working against the grain of what people traditionally have understood it’s very difficult to tear that down. It’s not a position of honor in that sense. It’s a position of service, an official position of service. First Timothy 3:8 begins, “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.”
In verse 8 the word for deacons is the word diakonos. All the adjectives that describe diakonos are in the masculine form, never in the feminine. That gives you a good reason to understand that these are men and not women.
There’s some confusion that comes in verse 11: “Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.” Some people use the King James Version of this which says “the wives of deacons.” It says, “Even so must their wives be grave.” You must be very careful here. The King James does not translate that from the Greek. It gives an interpretation with that, and that’s why a lot of people have gotten confused. They read into the fact that the word used there must mean wives of deacons because of the context and they stake their whole point upon that.
The New International Version has the translation, “Women likewise grave.” That’s exact Greek. If you go over to the New American Standard as we read from, “Women must likewise be dignified or grave.” It’s impossible to determine is he talking about the wives of the deacons or about women in general. It’s impossible to determine. If somebody’s going to stake the fact that they believe women were official deacons in the church on this statement, then they really don’t have much to stand on. I guess you could bring that up, but that’s the only place you can bring it up. And it’s shaky waters all around it. So my personal conclusion is women did not have an official position as deaconesses within the church at that time.
Now you say, “Wayne, thanks a lot. I’m a woman. I just think that’s not right. Does God not approve of women?” You see, this attitude is absolutely of the flesh. It’s not of the Spirit at all. Just because they were not in an official position as a deaconess did not mean they were not usable and needed and critical to the work that God was doing. I’ve always believed that if a man or a women is seeking a position, is seeking an office, there’s something wrong with them. It does say in Scripture, “If anyone desires to be an elder.” But that does not mean to be seen on a platform and to be built up but to desire the shepherding work of the elder and all the things that go along with that.
You see, when you start desiring to be recognized you’ve completely gone against the grain of the context of chapter 15. Paul says in chapter 15, “I can only boast of the things that Christ has done through me, not what I’ve done for me, not what position I have as an apostle.” He says in 12:3, “It’s only by the grace of God that I can write these things to you.” He didn’t boast in his position. So, the whole attitude of the woman is key here. Women were very critical to the work of the ministry.
I want to walk through with you the women who were critically used in the New Testament to show you that just because they were not in an official position of deaconess did not mean they were not deaconesses, servants in the church. They were so used by God. As a matter of fact, one of the first places you find them is associated with prayer. Women and prayer have gone together for as long as I can remember. We’re going to walk our way through Acts, and I want to show you some of these people who God used mightily. Acts 1:14 says, “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” Women were always there. As a matter of fact, there are many times that the women were there when the men were not even there.
You say, “Well, Wayne, that’s not a great ministry.” What do you mean, not a great ministry? There are some people that if they ever prayed for me to die, I’m going to crawl in the box. You talk about important to the body of Christ. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Ms. Bertha Smith. She died when she was one hundred years old. You talk about a lady of prayer. She had a place over in Cowpens, South Carolina, called “Penial” which means a place of prayer. She’d bring people over to teach them to pray. It wasn’t a seminar. She didn’t get out a pencil and a great big board. She got you down on your face before God.
She was a part of the great revival over in China. One of their missionaries, a man, was going blind. Back then very few men were going into missions and they were critically needed on the field. Here was one of their main missionaries about to go blind. Miss Bertha believed in prayer. She’s enjoying heaven right now because that’s one lady that just transitioned right over. It’s kind of like God said, “You know, Miss Bertha, you’re closer to Me than you are to them. Come on over.” That’s when she died. She walked with God.
But they walked in to pray for this man who was losing his eyesight, and they laid hands on him. When they did immediately they were all convicted of sin in their life. She said, “For three weeks I was confessing sin, things I had borrowed and never returned, things that I had done and never repented of. Finally one day we came back together, and when we began to pray God fell. God moved upon those women praying for that one man. The man’s eyesight was restored and remained restored until the day he died.”
Tell me that prayer is not important. Just because a woman is not up in front teaching, just because a woman is not traveling, just because a woman’s face is not on a magazine, doesn’t mean that God can’t use you. God needs vessels. Men, women, boys, girls, it doesn’t matter to Him. He just wants people who are surrendered to Him, and women are just as critically needed as men are critically needed. They played a very important role in the early church as we can see in the book of Acts. Just because they didn’t have an official position, so what.
I remember when I was ordained years ago they asked me, “Wayne, what are you going to do if we don’t ordain you?” I said, “I’m going to do exactly what God’s called me to do. I know you don’t really ordain me, because the scripture says you just set me free to do what God’s already ordained me to do.” What’s wrong with us sometimes? Wanting to be recognized. That’s not the heart of the servant.
Well, the scriptures point out that there were multitudes of women who were converted in the early church. Look over in Acts 5:14. It says, “And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number.” It wasn’t a man thing. It was whoever would respond by faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, and multitudes of women were constantly added to the number.
Boy, a beautiful story occurs in Acts 9. This is a wonderful story about a lady by the name of Tabitha. It describes her in Acts 9:36: “Now in Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity, which she continually did.” There was a consistency in her life of kindness and charity, helping to those who were down and out. Well, she died, but look in verse 40 at what Peter does: “But Peter sent them all out, and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.”
Now, I get fired up when I see stuff like that. Do you know what I believe about that? Don’t get hung up in the miracle. It’s God saying, “I’m not through with you yet, Tabitha. I like what you’re doing. I need you doing what you’re doing. Come on, sit up.” And she sat up. God raised her from the dead.
Look over in Acts 12:11-12. It was in the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, that a prayer meeting was going on when Peter was miraculously freed by an angel from prison. It says, “And when Peter came to himself, he said, ‘Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.’ And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.” Once again, prayer and the women were together. Her house was an open place for those to come to pray.
The first convert Paul saw in Macedonia and Philipi was Lydia. Look in Acts 16:14. Lydia was a religious woman, but she was not a believer. She came to know Christ as a result of the gospel being preached there. Acts 16:14 reads, “And a certain 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.” Now, once she’s saved she immediately opens up her house, showing her hospitality to the believers. Acts 16:15 continues, “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.” I want to tell you, people who open up their houses, women who are hospitable, are so important in the body of Christ. You say, “Well, but I don’t get to teach and I don’t get to do all these other things.” So what! You’re still performing a very strong function in the body of Christ.
There’s a family over in Ft. Worth, Texas who had a prophet’s room built onto their house. As a matter of fact, when I got there I was overwhelmed because the prophet’s room was nicer than any other rooms in their house. They did that by intention. One time I was speaking in Grand Prairie, Texas on the other side of Dallas, and they called me and said, “Wayne, you’re going to be in the area. Would you come and stay in our prophet’s room?” I said, “Sure, I’ll go.” I want you to know, it was better than any motel I’d ever stayed in. It is a great big room which was built strictly for one thing, for people who are preaching the Word and doing the work. By offering this room they are saying, “Come alongside. Come to my house. Stay with us.”
They had a prophet’s room and anybody who came through there could stay in that house. You say, “Wayne, is that ministry?” What do you mean? Ask someone who has gone overseas about the hospitality of the saints. I guarantee you it’s not the man. It’s the woman every single time who will say, “Hey, come to my house.
Come to my house. We’ll feed you. We’ll take care of you.” Do you think that was not important to what Paul did? Paul’s not going to stand alone for the ministry to the Gentiles. There are going to be a mass of people you’ve never heard of that are going to be right there beside him. God used everyone of them to accomplish His work among the Gentile people, especially the women who were surrendered to Him.
When Paul preached to the Greeks in Athens at the Areopagus over in Acts 17:34, a woman named Damaris was saved. Anytime someone is mentioned in scripture, the most holy book we have, God’s word, that must signify something about them. God put her into the Word of God. Acts 17:34 says, “But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.”
When Paul got to Corinth, where this book was written, he ran into a couple. As a matter of fact, the man was a tent maker just like Paul. Here was a couple who said, “Lord, use us.” Their names were Priscilla and Aquila. Look in Acts 18:2 when he gets in Corinth who he runs into. Most of these people were associated with him in Corinth. “And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.” Priscilla’s name is usually mentioned first which probably meant she was more prominent for one reason or another, maybe spiritually or whatever. I think it’s significant that Priscilla normally appears first before Aquila. You say, “Well, that’s not a put down to women is it?” No, it’s not a put down to women. God wants to use women.
In Philippians 4:2-3 Euodia and Syntyche are spoken of as fellow laborers of the apostle Paul. The funny thing about these two ladies is the way they were fighting with each other. I mean, a lot of the time there was contention between these women. Philippians 4:2 reads, “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.” Come on, folks! He’s saying, “Settle down.” Verse 3 goes on, “Indeed, true comrade, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Paul says, “Hey, they’re a little bit of a problem here but get with them and help them. These are fellow laborers. These women have helped me.”
Then look over in 1 Corinthians 1:11 at Chloe. “For I have been informed concerning you [This is a lady he trusted so much to bring him information concerning the church], my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you.”
You can go on and on and on. There are going to be several more mentioned in this chapter that we’ll talk about. But in none of these instances, not a single one, is it said that an individual woman was an official deaconess in the church. The only place you can find anywhere that a woman’s name is associated with a church and being a deaconess is Phoebe in Romans 16:1.
Speaking of Phoebe, we kind of left her, didn’t we? Go back to verse 2. Welcome back Phoebe. Here’s what it says about her: “that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.” The word “receive” is prosdechomai. Dechomai is the word that means to eagerly receive. “Don’t just take her in. Look forward to taking her in,” the Apostle Paul says. It means to receive and take care of whatever need she has.
He says, “in a manner worthy of the saints.” “Saints” is the word hagios. It means now you measure up what a saint ought to be. You take care of this woman. Why? Because she’s taken care of us. He goes on to say, “and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you.” “Help her” is paristemi), you come along side her. The word for “matter” is pragma, which could be a business matter. Nobody knows really who she is other than what scripture tells us. Some people think she’s the very bearer of the epistle of Romans to the church at Rome. Could be.
Paul doesn’t tell us for sure. Is she a business woman, a very wealthy woman like Lydia who was over in Macedonia? Could be. Paul says, “Whatever matter she has, you get along beside her and help her out.”
Then he goes on and says, “for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.” That word “helper” is prostatis. She’s done more than just help. The idea is that this is a wealthy woman and she has taken her money and been a tremendous help to many. Paul’s not honoring a rich lady. That’s not what he’s saying. She has sacrificially given and she has gone the route in being a minister to the saints. Paul says, “You stand beside her and you measure up in the way you take care of her.”
Man, woman, boy or girl, God wants to use you. It doesn’t matter whether you can teach or you can’t teach. We have really done a disservice over the years of telling people that if you’re really called to minister, you’ve got to either lead the singing or you’ve got to be able to teach or preach. That’s ridiculous. We’ve studied chapter 12. The gifts are in many areas. You can serve, mercy, exhort. You don’t have to be out front. God uses those people who are surrendered to Him. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how young you are or how smart you are. God uses me. That qualifies that one. It doesn’t matter. What He’s looking for is a heart that is totally bankrupt unto Him, surrendered unto Him.
I know this is difficult passage for some of us. But I want to share something with you. I think it will help you. Maybe you’re not being used and you know you’re not being used. You’re frustrated. You’re a believer. You’re about the will of God. You have gotten about everything else but you’re not about the will of God. It’s sin in your life. It may not be the gross sin of something but it’s sin. It’s missing the mark of what God’s will is in your life. And you’re saying to me, “I want to be free to be what God wants me to be. Something’s imprisoning me. Something’s holding me back. What’s wrong with me?”
I don’t know specifically, but I think generally I can give you a picture here. As you know from Romans 7 and 8 you’re already free. You’re already free. Do we understand that? You have been set free from the penalty of sin and you have been set free from the power of sin. You are already free. What does free mean? Not the right to do as you please, but the right to do as God wills. You now have the power under grace. “Well, what’s wrong with me? I’m not being used. I come to church every week. Nobody’s asked me to teach a class. I’m not used in anything.” Hold it, hold it, hold it. You mean you’re only used when man asks you? I thought you were used when God said something to your heart. God’s the one who initiates ministry, not man. We just come along to facilitate. God initiates it. “Well then, what’s wrong with me?”
Let me give you an illustration which might draw a picture for you. “If I’m free, how come I’m bound?” Good question. Do you know how they catch monkeys over in Africa?
We were over there on the Zambezi River by Zambia in Zimbabwe. We were in a hotel and when I woke up I was so hot. I looked out the window and I saw all of these things in the trees, and I was just sort of foggy. I was looking out the window, and I said to my travel companion, “Man that’s the biggest squirrel I’ve ever seen in my life.” I’d hunted down in Louisiana and Mississippi and I’ve seen fox squirrels. Fox squirrels can be about four feet long from tail to nose. I’m thinking, “Man, that’s the biggest fox squirrel I’ve ever seen.” I kept looking and Bill said, “Dummy, they’re not squirrels. They’re monkeys.”
There were thousands of them. You can see them in zoos and stuff but that’s nothing compared to the ones just roaming free. Now they’re mean too. You have to watch them. But they told us how they catch them. I thought this was the most interesting thing. They have a chain on a pole that is welded to a container. The container is bigger at the bottom and had sort of a bottle neck at the top. They put candy in it because monkeys love candy, anything sweet. So the monkey comes and sticks his hand in through that opening and grabs the candy in his fist. But there’s a problem here. Once he gets his fist clenched, he can’t get it back outside of the container. Now, the only thing that’s keeping him from enjoying the freedom he has is the unwillingness to open his hand and let go.
Put that in a Christian context and to me it preaches volumes. What are you holding onto? “I want to be used. God, I want to be used.” God says, “You do not. Look at what you’re holding on to.” Is it your money? Is that what you’re holding on to? You’re free, but you’ve imprisoned yourself. Turn it loose. Are you holding on to your pride? What are you holding on to? Bitterness? Is there something in your life that happened years ago that you will not forgive and ask God to forgive you? God says, “You’ve imprisoned yourself. I set you free but you won’t let go.” Just let go. Just give it up and watch what happens. God begins to take your life and make you into a brand new person and uses you like you could not possibly believe.
You see, the will of God is good. It’s acceptable. It’s perfect. Why would you want to stick your hand back in there and grab hold of that which is the will of the flesh? Do you know what? That’s not ignorance, folks. That’s just flat out stupidity for a believer not to be willing to just let go of the sick, ugly flesh that he’s holding on to and enjoy the freedom of being what God wants him to be. Open handed, I think that’s what Paul was talking about when he said, “Lift up holy hands.” He wasn’t talking about raising your hands in church. He’s talking about raising hands that are empty and devoid of self. Holy and set apart that God can use to do His good work.
How does God want to use you? Well, you may never have your name written in the Bible, but oh, friend, it’s written down up there. One day when we stand before Him, all the Billy Graham’s, yes they’ll be there, but I guarantee you there’s going some old fellows down in the swamps of Louisiana who said, “God, use me.” They’re going to be right alongside them. There are going to be some folks over in Moldavia and Russia and Romania and India and Israel, places we’ll never see or hear from them down here but, buddy, we’ll see and hear from them up there because they just came to God empty handed. “God, I want to enjoy the freedom I have in Jesus Christ. Use me. Use me.”