You Are My Servant

by LA UBF   06/26/2010     0 reads


You are my servant�

You Are My Servant

Isaiah 49:1-7; Key Verse 3: He said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor." 

Today we would like to welcome Missionary Matthew Lim’s family and listen to their Mongolian Mission Reports. In so doing, we would like to learn of the Lord who calls his servants and uses them for his work of salvation. What then is it like to be called as the Lord’s servant? 

First, the Lord’s servant must have a deep conviction of the calling. 

Look at verse 1. “Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.” Yesterday afternoon I read Missionary Matthew Lim’s testimony. I also read his wife’s testimony. Their testimonies clearly testify that they have a deep conviction of God’s calling.  

“Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations…” Here “distant nations” includes nations such as Mongolia. In talking to the Lim family yesterday I realized that Mongolia is truly a distant nation, not just geographically but in many different ways. Their food, land, culture, and language are all strange. When I visited Saudi Arabia last January I found that Arabic is really strange, and I felt distant from them. I bought a book on how to conquer the Arabic language in a short period of time. But as I tried to learn basic expressions in Arabic, I found the grammar (particularly tenses which changes depending on singular, dual, and plural) is so difficult that after trying a little bit I quit. Out of curiosity yesterday I searched the internet about the Mongolian language, and it looked far stranger than Arabic. 

I showed this picture to Matthew. He said this alphabet set is only for colloquial expressions; you need to learn another set of alphabets that were borrowed from Russia. I replied, “Wow, that is too much.” Yet, the Lord God called Missionary Matthew, and from Day One of his mission journey, the Lord showed him a sign that he called this family from before birth. You can figure this out as you listen to his report.  With this deep conviction they went there and served the Mongolian mission.

Second, the Lord equips his servants.

Look at v. 2. “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. “ 

This verse indicates that God’s servant is none other than the Lord’s instrument. He is not just a good, kind, well-groomed human. He should be a lot more than that, that is, an instrument like a sharpened sword or a polished arrow—not any instrument but the instrument that works, the instrument with which to get the job done. Awhile ago we got the outside patio built. When Dr. David Min saw it, he said, “Wow, you got it built very quickly.” Indeed a few of us were able to get it built quickly all thanks to a lot of good tools such as hammers, drills, or nail guns. 

But God’s servants work on humans not physical buildings such as patios. The question then becomes: How can one be an efficient servant of God? We already know the answer: it is the Lord who equips his servants. This tells us that daily we need to repent and turn to the Lord who in turn makes our mouth and body well equipped. 

Third, a servant of the Lord lives for the Lord’s glory, not his own.

Look at v. 3. He said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor." In this passage the word “my” is repeated twice: “You are my servant…in whom I will display my splendor.” This passage shows the position of a servant and the purpose of a servant: the position is to be the Lord’s ‘servant’; the purpose of his existence is to display the Lord’s ‘splendor’. Therefore a Lord’s servant should not and cannot seek his own glory. In order for the Lord’s splendor to be displayed, the Lord’s servant must be transparent, just like mirror or glass must reflect or let the light pass through without interruption. This in turn requires humility and self-effacement as critical qualities for a servant. 

How can one live as the Lord’s servant in whom the Lord can display the Lord’s splendor? The message Shepherd William served last Sunday has the answer, for in Galatians 2:20 it is written, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” 

Fourth, for his reward a servant must look to the Lord, not to the fruit.

Although we say God’s servant is an instrument it does not mean that he or she is a machine. He is still a human being with feelings and emotions. So it is possible that he can burn out. He can go through fits of anger, frustration, and despair. He can be stressed out. Stress becomes distress, and distress, depression. Then he can become sick, as is commonly said, “Stress is the cause of many diseases such as asthma, fatigue, tension headache, hypertension, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, psychoneuroses, sexual dysfunction, a variety of skin diseases.  

But one of the most common causes that causes God’s servant to feel frustrated is the lack of tangible fruit.  It is like a shepherd going out to a college campus, inviting students, with no tangible success. When this happens, it is easy for a shepherd or a missionary to doubt God’s calling. Then he or she is tempted to say, “I have had enough,” and call it quits. 

In fact this was what the Prophet Isaiah was tempted to do. Look at what he said in v. 4a.  “But I said, ‘I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.’ ” But how did he overcome the temptation? Look at verse 4b. “Yet what is due me is in the LORD's hand, and my reward is with my God." This is a very important truth for all servants of the Lord to remember. His reward is not with people such as number of people filling the church pews or number of students responding to his invitation to the Bible conferences. His reward is with the Lord. “Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.” When we understand this truth deeply we can live as the Lord’s servants and keep our cool as the Lord’s servant from start to finish. 

Fifth, the Lord’s servant has in mind all peoples on earth.

Nowadays the FIFA World Cup 2010 is going on. As of now the game between Argentina and Mexico is going on. If Mexico wins, the people of Mexico will be elated. If they lose, they will feel down and depressed. The same will happen with the people of Argentina. But God’s servant is different from the members of a soccer team. Since he belongs to the Lord, his joy or sorrow coincides with the Lord’s. The Lord is mindful of all peoples on earth. He desires to save all peoples on earth, so all peoples on earth can win victories. 

Look at verses 5-6. “And now the LORD says— he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength- he says: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” 

This passage exhorts us to be “world-mission-minded.” Although we are U.S. citizens, we are the Lord’s servants, so we must be world-mission-minded. So let us pray for the Mongolian ministry. Tomorrow Eli is going to go to Philippines as a short term missionary. Let us pray that the Lord would bless her journey.   

Sixth, the vision to participate not just in the sufferings but also in the glory of the Lord.

Although we say it is an honorable thing to be called and serve the Lord as the Lord’s servant, in our practical life, serving the Lord comes with lots of difficulties. In Mongolia, for example, during the winter the temperature drops to even minus 40 degrees Celsius. Maybe you can go and stay there for a couple of weeks or months, but not as permanent missionaries. In Mongolia the best season is during the summer, for you can see some green colors in summer. But because the winter is so cold, most of the short term missionaries come to Mongol during summer. 

And living as a permanent missionary in a place like Mongolia comes with lots of hardships. When we think about all the troubles it is so easy to become weary and burdened. The Prophet Isaiah must have gone through all these, and yet he did not become depressed. How did he overcome the challenges? Look at verse 7. “This is what the LORD says— the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel— to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: ‘Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.’ ”  

This passage indicates that while on this side of the world, the Lord’s servant suffers even as the Lord had gone through. But in the end, the Lord who is faithful will ensure that all of his servants will be allowed to participate in his glory, just as the Apostle Paul expressed it in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 

In conclusion, let us read v. 3 again. “He said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor."