Immediately after accepting Christ as his Savior, Paul asked Him this question, “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10 NIV). What prompted him to address this question to his Lord? He undoubtedly realized that “Jesus Christ ... gave Himself for us ... to purify for Himself a people ... eager to do what is good”(Ti. 2:13-14). For us to stop happily at being saved provides a victory for Satan. Discover Your Gift The brother who had been sent to Paul was told by the Lord that Paul was His “chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles ... and before the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15). He undoubtedly communicated this fact to Paul. So, after several days with the disciples, Paul “at once began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God” (Acts 9:19-20). We need not be gifted to tell others about our Lord Jesus! However, Paul later wrote that “we have different gifts according to the grace given to us ... prophesying ... serving ... teaching ... encouraging ... contributing to the needs of others ... leadership ... showing mercy” (Rom. 12:6-8). Note that this list does not involve preaching! All of us have the responsibility to determine what we are to do for the Lord. We do this through experimenting with the gifts to determine which we think He has given us as we do our part to “go and make disciples” (Mt. 28:19). Trusting in His guidance, we proceed and discover what our gift is. Look For Open Doors If we are seeking His leading, we will consider any opportunity that presents itself as being possibly an “open door” that the Lord has placed before us: “What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open” (Rev. 3:7). Be prepared, however, for the work may not be very prestigious! The disciples who were “well-reported of, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” began their ministry with a lowly but needed task, namely, to “wait on tables” (Acts 6:2,3).
We should always try to go through a door which seems to be opened by the Lord, trusting Him to close it if it’s not His will to proceed. We can learn from Paul’s example. He felt that he should go to teach the Romans, but he had “often been hindered” (Rom. 15:22). However, when going to Rome was the Lord’s will, he went “boldly and without hindrance” and “preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 28:30).
He was right in thinking that the Lord wanted him to go to rome, but not about when He wanted him to go. If something is the Lord’s will, He will arrange for it to happen without our forcing it. Then we will be more productive.
If one door after another closes, and we still feel sure that we are in His will, we should keep taking what seems to be the next step, trusting that if we are wrong, the Lord will show us what is right. For example, when Paul and his companions “had been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the Word in the province of Asia” they did not quit! “They tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” so they “went down to Troas” (Acts 16:6-8). Finally, the hindrance was explained: A new work was to begin! Paul was given a vision “of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’” Then Paul and his companions “got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that now God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:9-10).
Let The Spirit Lead
While we may not receive visions today, we do have the leading of the Spirit, sometimes much more clearly than at others. For example, a present day evangelist/tract distributor described her recent experience this way: “I felt compelled to go to … rather remote and very rugged islands … The trip proved to be of the Lord as He opened many doors for His work – the schools, police department, government workers, department of social services, prison, airport, and of course, people on the streets, in their homes and in the shops. The response was overwhelming!” (Missionary Bulletin, FCS, May ’10, p. 5).
Don’t Get Discouraged
Although the Lord still does mighty things, we should not depend on mighty things for encouragement. We should not be like Elijah who, after being used of the Lord in a mighty miracle, became discouraged when reverses came; and only after the Lord worked mightily again did he do the work the Lord had for him (1 Ki. 18:18-45; 19:11-16). Because getting discouraged is a very real possibility, we are enjoined to “not become weary in doing well, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).
Others may not share our enthusiasm for a certain work for the Lord. And our failure to get the help we need may not be a sign that we should stop trying to serve, but rather that the Lord wants us to do something else. This was true with Martha. She was “worried and upset” because her sister would not help her in what she wanted to do for the Lord. Her problem was that what she wanted to do for the Lord was not what He wanted her to do for Him (Lk. 10:40-42).
Work With Others
Believers working together is a pattern frequently seen in Scripture. The Holy Spirit put Paul and Barnabas together to do His work (Acts 13:2). In the salutations of a number of epistles, we read the names of others who were with Paul in the work. We also see the romans being told to “give (Phoebe) any help she may need from you” (Rom. 16:1-2). And we are told to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).
Each of us has to find an answer to the question, “What shall I do, Lord?” Only then will we have the confidence to say with Paul that “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).
By Alan H. Crosby
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org