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The Bible Study WarehouseSeries: The Call - Lesson 7

Preparation for Ministry

Isaiah 49:1-3 speaks of God preparing His servant for ministry. It refers to Israel, but, particularly, is prophesying of the Lord Jesus Christ who was going to come as the Servant of His Father. However, it can also apply in principle to every servant God is preparing to use. Every believer is called to serve the Lord, and we all have a ministry to fulfil. Verse 2 reveals the four main principles of God's preparation in our lives:

"He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver".

"He made my mouth like a sharpened sword"

God desires to use our mouths to speak for Him. But before He can do so He must bring it under His control.

The Importance of our Words

"The tongue has the power of life and death . . " Proverbs 18:21 .

What we say can affect people's lives for good or evil. We can encourage and help them, or hurt and destroy them - just by the words we speak.

The Need for our Mouths to be Cleansed

Romans 3:13-14 describes the condition of man's speech before he is cleansed by Christ. James 3:2-3 describes the tongue as a "restless evil" in need of taming (read verses 1-12). When Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord, he cried out:

"Woe to me! ... I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips..." Isaiah 6:5.

God cleanses Isaiah's lips before He commissions him to go to the people with His message (verses 6-10).

How does God Cleanse our Mouth?

He begins first with our heart, for it is "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34) (read also verses 33-37). In Psalm 51:10-13, David cries out:

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me .. Then I will teach transgressors your ways".

The Creative Power of God's Words is in our Mouth

"I have put my words in your mouth...I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth..." Isaiah 51:16(see also Genesis chapter 1, Psalm 148:5; Hebrews 11:3).

The creative power expressed through the tongue finds its ultimate in Mark 11:20-24, where Jesus says that we can have whatever we SAY. Romans 10:9.

A Sharpened Sword

"The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow: it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" Hebrews 4:12 (see also Revelation 1:16; 19:15; Eph.4:29).

This is the dimension we are called to move into. Part of God's preparation in our lives as His servants is to put His Word into our hearts and mouths so that we speak with the thoughts, authority and power of God Himself ... and see it happen!

"In the shadow of His hand He hid me"

A sword is held and wielded by the hand. It is God's hand that is to wield His sword -- the words of our mouth. This is also our protection against the enemy, Satan.

"Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes ...Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" Ephesians 6:11-17 (see also Psalm 91).

"He made me into a polished arrow"

An arrow is made for one purpose only -- to hit a target. God desires to make us like an arrow that will hit the target -- His particular plan and purpose for our lives.

In Bible days, an arrow was made out of ACACIA wood, which is very rough, crooked and knotted. It is a perfect picture of the condition we are in when we first come to the Lord. In order for the wood to be made into an arrow, it was put through a certain process, which also pictures how God works in our lives to make us useful ministers for Him.

THE LEAVES ARE STRIPPED (John 1 5:2).

THE WOOD IS PLACED IN FIRE to make it pliable (1 Peter 1:6-7; James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3; Isaiah 48:10; Romans 8:28).

IT IS THEN STRAIGHTENED by being confined between pegs driven into the ground in a straight line (Ephesians 2:21; 4:15-16; Hebrews 10:24-25).

IT IS SANDPAPERED to make it smooth (Hebrews 12:7-11).

OIL IS THEN RUBBED IN to polish it (Psalm 104:15; Galatians 5:22-23: Ephesians 5:18).

"And concealed me in His quiver"

When the arrow is ready the archer puts it in his quiver ready to place it in his bow and shoot it at the target. The success of the arrow depends on the marksman. So it is with us. We will fulfil the call and purpose for our lives as we submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Our Continual Ministry

God desires to use us every day and through every stage of growth in our lives. It is as we are obedient to His direction each day that we will be fruitful for Him.

Our Special Ministry

As well as our continual ministry, each one of us has a special goal in life that the Lord wants us to hit, and He "hides us in His quiver" until the time is right for us to be released (Luke 1:80).

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will... Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord" Romans 12:1-2,11.

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Copyright 1981,1996 Paul, Bunty and David Collins. All rights reserved. This study may be freely used and reproduced, wholly or in part, except for profit, provided copyright and contact information is included.

Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures quoted in these studies are from the New International Version of the Bible, New York International Bible Society, used by permission. Other versions referred to are: KJV (King James Version), NKJB (New King James Bible), TLB (The Living Bible), Amp (The Amplified Bible) and The Message.

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