Fall 2022: RickThomas.Net Becomes LifeOverCoffee.Com
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Let me illustrate my point by asking you a question. What is the problem with all of these statements below? Spoiler alert: the running theme in these negative, self-assessing, and introspective statements is that the accent mark is on us rather than God’s grace.
It does not matter if you are like any of these folks or not like them. The list is not the criteria that will determine if God will use you. There is nothing there that qualifies or disqualifies you from the empowering grace of God that works in you. God is not looking for self-qualified men and women. I’m not sure what “qualified” means in the sense that you have to possess this or that to be used by God. God is looking for humble men and women who want to make His name great.
The most basic question, “Can God use me, a simple jar of clay?” has a most basic answer: “Yes He can, and He will use you.” You are a unique person that God has called to do an unusual job for Him. God will use your uniqueness, even your failures and weaknesses to accomplish His purposes.
Here is a truth that should bring you assurance, hope, and boost from any self-imposed doldrums because of your past: there is nothing that should disqualify you from being used by God. God’s empowering grace is more significant than your weaknesses, failures, and sins. God’s ability to overcome your mistakes is higher than your ability to make mistakes.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it (Romans 6:1-2)?
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me (Psalm 19:13)!
Some will argue that I have opened the door to presume on God’s grace, permitting a person to be reckless. No, that would not be true. Paul talked about that in Romans, and David spoke about it in the Psalms. Men and women who are dead to sin and alive to Christ do not think and behave in ungodly ways. They also do not presume against—take for granted—God’s grace.
Christians always desire to live in holiness. That is an expected Christian way of life. Holiness and a desire to be holy is the air the Christian breathes. There is no other way to think for a person who has been born from above. It’s like asking an Italian not to eat pasta. The thought is not fathomable for him. To take away his pasta is to make him into something completely different. To think a Christian would spend his time thinking about sinning while plotting a course to circumvent the grace of God is even more unfathomable. Christians do not do that.
You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God (1 Peter 1:23).
Christians are born again by incorruptible seed. A person looking for a loophole to sin does not need to be thinking about this truth of non-disqualification, but they need to focus on the call to repentance. A natural man thinks about how to sin. Christians ponder how to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16).
But I will say that even if a person chooses to sin willfully, their sin will not thwart the purposes of God. While I would never recommend sin as a fitting response to God and others, there is nothing that can stop God from using you to bring His good purposes to pass. Pharaoh, Pilate, and Judas were men who chose to live contrary to the ways of God. Their wretched lives and determined abandonment from God did not stop God from His purposes. You could say that the Lord used their sin sinlessly.
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Romans 9:17).
God not only uses our sins sinlessly, but He uses all of our imperfections for His world-altering glory. It has to be this way and cannot be any other: God exalts weakness, not strength (Matthew 10:39). If you choose your power over His, He will not compete with you. He demands weakness, and if you become too self-important, thinking you are somebody when you are not, He may send a reminder to let you know that the surpassing power belongs to Him and not to you.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 Corinthians 4:7).
To keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7).
Our call is not to be self-absorbed, wondering if God can use us. We must move forward in a God-centered assurance that nothing can disqualify us from God’s ability to use us (Philippians 1:6). Though our desire is not to sin, we choose not to focus on the negative because of the potent positive that we find in the grace of God. Here are a few situations where the struggle may need to recalibrate their thinking.
You may need to grow and mature regarding some of these conditions—unless you have my “good-looking” problem, for which there is no known cure. But do not ever think that there is a special place you must arrive before God can use you. If so, you may be “sitting on the sidelines” for a long time waiting to “qualify yourself” to play in God’s game of life. You are qualified today to live for God, walk with God, serve God, and make His beautiful name great in your sphere of influence.
God has chosen to take His treasure and place it in jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). That is what is so impressive about how God operates. He does not hide His treasure under a bushel but places it in a perishable, not-quite-ready-for-primetime jar of clay. Remember Peter and John?
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).
The crowd recognized Peter and John as men who had been with Jesus. It was not their pedigree—whatever that means—that God used, but it was the fact that they had been with Jesus. That is your qualification: are you with Jesus? God made you the way you are, so get over yourself and begin owning your strengths and your weaknesses for the purposes that God has for you and others.
Suppose you said, “I’m too short.” Okay. Are you too short for God to use you? Are you too short in comparison to cultural expectations? Are you too short to find use in God’s kingdom? My questions are irrelevant. It does not matter how tall you are. The culture should have no bearing on how you think, and God made you short, so it does not matter to Him.
God is good, all-powerful, and all-knowing. He does nothing haphazardly, whimsically, or without a purpose. For reasons that He has not disclosed, He made you short. These are hidden mysteries only found in God’s divine wisdom. Don’t expect Him to reveal to you why you are short—at least not in this lifetime (Deuteronomy 29:29). Let’s move on. There is a reason you are short, and God is good.
For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it (1 Corinthians 4:7)?
Let His goodness to you be more meaningful than the things you crave. If His goodness drives you, discontentment will flee, and peace will come. Though you may disqualify yourself because of your shortcomings, God will not. Perhaps you have been divorced and have relegated yourself to the lower shelf of Christianity. There is no two-tier system in God’s world. Either we all are worthless before God, or we are all righteous before God. There is no in-between. (See Romans 3:10-12 and Ephesians 2:8-9.)
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing (John 21:3).
God does not disqualify us from being used by Him because He gifts us with the grace that we need, which overpowers our inabilities, inefficiencies, inadequacies, and shortcomings. It’s not about your ability or inability. It is about God’s grace. Even quitting does not disqualify you—think about Peter here. There are no three strikes, and you’re out with God. Let’s be honest. Have you sinned more than three times in your walk with God? Of course, you have. I have too.
I’m not making light of the sin I have committed, nor am I making a case to sin more. I am making a case for the non-disqualifying grace of God that works in you for His glory and your good. You can quit God and “go fishing” if you want to. I can’t stop you, though I’m not recommending you do that. I’m also not calling you to presume on God’s grace. But this one thing I know, God’s grace can overcome your supposed inadequacies or your sins.
The key to living in this kind of grace is getting over yourself and becoming more gospel-centered than self-centered. Thinking about yourself will discourage you. Thinking about God will encourage you. Will you offer yourself to God—just the way you are, asking Him to use you the way you are, regardless of what you think about yourself? The only thing that qualifies you is your emptiness. It is not your fullness or perceived greatness or any other thing that will make you eligible in God’s mind. It’s not about what you have but about what God has done. It is God’s abundance and your emptiness that make a perfect match, but if you are full of yourself, the grace of God will be ineffective in your life.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51:16-17).
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