“He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in irons: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.” (Psalm 105:17-19) If you have a fervent desire to serve the Lord Jesus with all your heart, I hope you haven’t made a lot of plans for the future. If, while you are going about your daily chores, your mind is on the things of Christ, your thoughts are revolving around the ways you would ask that He would bless your service to Him, and lead you in the path that He has chosen for you, than whatever other plans you have made for yourself you must be prepared to lay aside at a moment’s notice.
For those who seek the face of the Lord continuously, and have a heart that desires above all to serve Him, God has a way of sneaking up on them, as it were, and answering that prayer, and very rarely is it ever in the way that we have imagined. I believe that there is another thing that He always does also, He tests us to let us know in ourselves if we have been honest with ourselves in this desire, the word of the Lord tries us. There are many followers of Christ who will say that they have a desire to serve, but when the opportunity presents itself, they will give excuses to Him, “Oh, no, thank you Lord, but not in that way.” There is an old analogy that Christians use to use in this area, that God might send them to some far away foreign land to serve Him. Think about this, do you really believe that He would send you someplace where you can’t even speak the language, of course not, He has servants there already.
A servant does not say to his master he will serve here and there, he says, “Where do you want me to serve,” and then he goes there, without questioning, without complaining. Can you ever imagine an angel in heaven questioning a commandment given to him by God, what makes us think that we should be able to. This is why the Lord tries those first who desire to serve, not to see whether or not they are serious about this vocalized commitment, He already knows the future, remember, He does so to show us where we really stand, where our trusts really are.
Jesus knew before He arrived here on earth what was going to happen to Him, Paul knew he was going to be imprisoned, Jeremiah knew the people would not listen, and they still went. We are to put no limitations on the Lord when we ask to be of service to His kingdom, we are not to say use me in this way, we are simply to say use me, and then go and do what we have been told to do, we are to be obedient without question. Abraham was told to go and sacrifice his son Isaac, I don’t think he got much sleep that night, but he got up the next morning and obeyed, (Gen. 22:3) and it wasn’t a short walk, God gave him three days to think about what He had commanded him to do, He tried him with His word. If you are a Christian who does not want to be convicted by the word of God, then the first mistake you are making is reading the word of God, because once you have read, you are convicted, and if you do not act upon these convictions, you will be accountable. There are no excuses for the follower of Christ who knows the truths of Scripture and does not adhere to them in the full confidence of the promises that he has read. The one who does not trust God should not be asking to be used by God.
Even the smallest amount of faith in Christ can be used by our Lord to glorify Him, those who have a desire to serve He will use, but there must be no limitations, no pre-conceived idea of where that service should be, it must come with no stipulations, no thought of the consequences. When we put limits on our service to Christ, He is, in a sense, limited in His ability to use us, for just as the Lord loves a cheerful giver, (2 Cor. 9:7) He also loves an unquestioning, willing servant. Our proper duty is to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, (Romans 12:1) and the one who is sacrificing is not to say in what way he would like to be sacrificed, he offers himself without question, without a strict set of guidelines that must be met first, the servant does not question the master, he obeys. This is why the word of the Lord tries us, to let us know if our faith is real, to show us what is truly in our hearts, because no sacrifice is possible without a cost, and we must know within ourselves if we are willing to pay the price.
This is why the majority of Christians simply go to church today and do very little else for the Lord, the price is too high. They have limited themselves to a small sacrifice, serving instead themselves and the items and pleasures of the world, the offering of self is for self, and not for Christ. There are those now in what I consider these final days, as there always have been, that have little choice, as it were, they are compelled to do the will of God, they cannot stop, as it is in my own life as these letters will attest to, they have offered their lives as a sacrifice, they have said “use me,” no matter the cost, the word of God has been used to try them, and they have found His promises to be faithful and true.
No life devoted to Christ is a wasted life, but the life that will never sacrifice all to Him is a half-lived life, and no one my friends gets a second chance. (Heb. 9:27) To those that our Lord has tried and found to be willing, there are great rewards waiting, but here, hardships are all but guaranteed, whether they come externally, internally, or both, the trials are what test a child of God, His word tries them. Most have not chosen this path, many others who have, have found it too difficult to remain on, but some have continued, even unto death if necessary, for their greatest reward is not the pleasures of heaven, but in Christ Himself.
Joseph did not know for many years why the Lord was allowing all of those times to befall him, but he did not need to wait until he attained a high place in Egypt before he gave glory to God, he had done that long before, and when the word of the Lord tried him, he was found faithful. May we be found to be the same.