Preparing Your Family To Be Used By God
 By Kim Butts

    How often in the Bible do we see how God has used the small, the insignificant, the imperfect, the young, the old, the poor, and many others with seemingly little ability to do amazing things? Over and over again, He has chosen those who are not the most powerful or influential to accomplish His will. Do you ever wonder how the Lord could possibly use you and your family right now? If not, perhaps it is a good time to determine that you will be ready should He call upon you! What if God has decided to use your family for the advancement of His kingdom on this earth? Will you be ready?

    Do not fall into the trap of those who have already decided that God will not use them because of timing or circumstance, because that trap has been set by the devil himself! He takes delight in incapacitating Christians…or at least slowing them down. Perhaps you feel that you must get through this particular season of your life, and then God will call upon you. Maybe that season involves the years of having young children, or dealing with financial pressures, or the busyness of beginning a new job. Whatever it might be, it is easy to determine that the time is not right for the Lord of the Universe to use you…and THIS is the lie of the enemy of our souls! If he can succeed in disabling as many Christian families as possible, they will not be prepared to do the work the Lord has for them.

    Now is the time to determine that your family will not sit on the sidelines, but will be available for the Lord’s use whenever He chooses. Decide that the choice will be the Lord’s, not yours. Purpose that the timing will be His and not yours. Trust that it is His plan and not yours. The mystery of God is not for us to know, but wouldn’t it be exciting to follow the Lord wherever He wishes to take you and your family…and to do whatever He wants you to do?

    God’s people need to clearly understand that there will never be a "perfect" time to be used, and that we do not have to be "perfect" people. God has only used one perfect person throughout all of time – and His name is Jesus! How can you prepare your family to be ready to respond when the Lord calls upon you? Begin by praying over these areas fervently, and putting them into practice in the daily life of your family:

   · Pray that your lives will be yielded to the perfect will of God and that you will be willing to do whatever He asks, whenever He asks it.

    Isaiah yielded himself to the service of the Lord: "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me’" (Isaiah 6:8)! Does your family spend time preparing for readiness? If the Lord desires to send your family to the ends of the earth, will you be willing to go? Or, even a less difficult question – if the Lord calls you to service in your church, or your neighborhood…will you respond? Being ready may mean getting rid of some of the busyness and clutter around you so that it won’t hinder you. Teach your family to hold loosely to things, because they are not eternal. God knows what you are ready to do, and will probably move you along in steps as you yield yourselves to Him. He may ask you to share food or financial resources with the less fortunate. You may be amazed to see how quickly your children get excited about helping others, praying for the lost, and sharing the love of Christ wherever they go. What would you be prepared to do if you clearly sensed the Lord calling you to move out of your comfortable house into an economically disadvantaged area of your city? These are hard questions, but if you desire to be used by God, you must be ready to consider the various ways He may choose to do so. It won’t always be in easy, simple ways…sometimes hard choices will be involved. Don’t miss the opportunities that the Father will set before you – you will not only miss the chance to serve Him – you will also miss great blessing. Your family’s faith will grow by leaps and bounds as you respond to His calling.

   · Pray that you will be spiritually prepared for God’s use.

    If your family is growing in the knowledge of the Bible through study, meditation and memorization…and if you are putting it into practice daily, you are pleasing the Lord as you train up your children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). If you are waiting until you feel they are mature enough to completely understand, or if you are not taking the time to prepare your family spiritually, you will certainly not please God. Focus on His Word because, "All Scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man [family] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Do not neglect the spiritual training and nurturing of your family. Be passionate about seeking after the heart of God!

    You must also prepare your family for battle. "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…"(1 Peter 5:8 – 9a). Train your children to put on the armor of God: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes" (Ephesians 6:10-11). The enemy hates families – especially families who pray and study the Word. He will do anything to cause divisiveness, dissension, or turmoil in your midst to distract you from spiritual pursuits. If you are always aware as a family of the devil’s schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11), and know that he is out to "steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10), then you will be able to take your stand against him (Ephesians 6:11). Don’t let the enemy keep you from being used by God. Memorize this verse as a family: "…the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

   · Pray that you will continually be faithful in word and deed.

    "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:24). "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man" (Proverbs 3:3-4). Because the Lord is faithful to us, we must also be faithful to Him. Teach your family the importance of faithfulness in the small things of life so that you can lead them toward faithfulness in areas that are larger and more difficult. Children need to know that they cannot be loyal to the world and to God. They need to know that everything they do and say must honor Christ. As we stretch and grow in our understanding of faithfulness, the Lord will respond by giving us more responsibility and entrusting His work to us. Christ was faithful unto death on a cross so that your family and mine could have life eternal. How can we refuse Him our absolute loyalty and faithfulness in return?

   · Pray that you will be obedient to do whatever the Lord chooses.

    "And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love" (2 John 1:6). "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him" (John 14:21). "But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did" (1 John 2:5-6). Our love for Christ must be the driving force behind our obedience to Him.

    Jonah argued with God and even disobeyed His command to go to Nineveh. He ended up in the belly of a great fish…and eventually did what the Lord had originally called him to do. Had he obeyed the first time, he would have avoided a lot of difficulty. When God calls your family to do something for Him, you can argue, disobey, or quickly do as He asks you, because you love Him. Sometimes the things He asks will be difficult and you won’t want to do them. The enemy will try to convince you that you shouldn’t have to obey, often putting thoughts into your minds that God is being unreasonable. Sometimes you may not feel you are ready to obey when He calls you to a task, but remember: "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

   · Pray that you will live holy lives, completely surrendered to the Lord.

    "Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right" (Proverbs 20:11). "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’" (1 Peter 1:15-16). The Lord will use imperfect people and families for His purposes, and He also knows and judges our hearts. If your hearts’ desire is to live lives of holiness, the Father will be honored, and honor you in return – by calling you to serve Him. Your family weaknesses should never be a hindrance to your desire for holiness. Remember that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26). Allow Him to develop and build a passion for holiness within your family.

   · Pray that your family will have complete trust in the Lord’s ability to work in and through you.

    "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6). "Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun" (Psalm 37:3-6). It is so important to teach our families to trust completely in God for our wisdom, strength and provision. If we are intent on trusting in our own abilities, we will most certainly fail. Teach your children that the Lord, who began a good work in them, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

   · Pray that your family will live lives filled with the joy of the Lord so that He can work in and through you during every circumstance.

    "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior" (Habakkuk 3:17-18). Sometimes, when things do not go the way we plan, or when the enemy has dealt a blow to our family, we become useless to the Lord. If we will allow Him to, we can instead see the Father do amazing things through our adversity. The key is to be able to allow Him to maintain or restore our joy in the midst of every circumstance through which we walk so that we are not disabled by it. Even when we are given less than pleasant circumstances, the Lord can still use us. The key to joy is to remember that God can use us to minister to others because of what we are going through or have gone through in the past. If we will always stand firm in the knowledge that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), He can use us to advance His kingdom.

   God can work through the most ordinary family. Are you preparing yours to serve? Whenever you think you are weak and unable, remember what the Lord said to Paul and take it to heart: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). "May the God of peace…equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and honor for ever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:20-21).