Sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. Larry Maley at Dardenne Presbyterian Church on October 18, 2015
“Why Would God Want to Use You?”
Scriptures: Genesis 12:1-7 and Hebrews 11:8-16
Most people sitting in this sanctuary would like to serve God in some significant way. You may even have some ideas about something exciting you could do for God. It may be:
Assisting poor mothers in our community;
Helping addicts overcome addiction;
Teaching children to read;
Saving unwanted babies from abortion; or
Introducing people to Jesus Christ.
However, our desire to do something of significance for the Kingdom of God is often stymied by our feelings of unworthiness or lack of qualification. One of the saddest comments I frequently hear when I talk to people about serving God is, “God doesn’t want me, after the things I have done.” They assume God is like most people they know. After we’ve made a mistake, people write us off. They reason that God only uses deeply spiritual, highly trained, and morally perfect people. They disqualify themselves from doing the very work which God has intended them to achieve.
A quick survey of the Bible uncovers numerous people who were considered unqualified by themselves or others to do Godly service. I want to highlight three such people for you: Peter, Moses and Abraham.
Peter was a guy Jesus personally chose and spent a lot of time training. Jesus seriously complimented Peter when he labeled him “the Rock” (Matt. 16:18). (What man doesn’t want to be called “the Rock?”) After Peter denied Jesus in the high priest’s courtyard (John 18:15-18, 25-27), just as Jesus had predicted, Peter felt unworthy to continue being called Christ’s disciple, let alone the leader of Jesus’ followers. So Peter retreated to his old life as a fisherman because he figured he was now a reject in God’s service. Jesus had qualified Peter and that was a miracle. Peter had disqualified himself and that was a tragedy.
However, a few days later Peter was fishing on the Sea of Galilee when the Risen Jesus appeared on the shore waving to him (John 21:1-18). When they sat down together for breakfast, Jesus reminded Peter that He had chosen Peter to be His disciple not because Peter possessed sterling qualities, sharp intellect and exemplary character. Rather, Jesus had chosen Peter because Jesus loved him. He had not stopped loving Peter and there was still work for him to do (John 21:19).
Another Biblical character who considered himself unqualified to serve the Lord was Moses. For the first forty years of his life Moses lived in a place of worldly strength. As a member of Pharaoh’s household, he had social prestige, wealth and youthful strength. Then he used his physical strength to exact vigilante justice on an Egyptian overseer who was oppressing a Hebrew (Exodus 2:11-13). He killed the Egyptian and had to flee for his life into the desert. Just like that, He went from being a prince of Egypt to the leader of a pack of sheep. The next four decades of his life were lived in obscurity and shame. He moved on and forgot about the God of his forefathers.
Then one day he stumbled on a burning bush with a voice calling out his name, “Moses! Moses!” (Exodus 3:1-4). The voice of the Lord told him, “I’ve chosen you to go to Pharaoh and bring my people out of Egypt” (Ex.3:10). This call scared the wits out of Moses. So much so that he argued his case with God. He raised four objections to serving the Lord. Listen to whether these objections sound familiar to responses you’ve made to the Lord’s calling:
Objection 1: I’m a nobody, God. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Ex.3:11). In fact, Moses was just a shepherd and shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians (Gen. 46:34).
Objection Overruled: God said, “I will be with you.” I don’t want Egypt or Israel to be impressed with you. I want them to be impressed with Me. (Ex. 3:12).
Objection 2: They are not going to believe or listen to me (Ex. 4:1). They will think I am looney, especially if I claim God is speaking to me.
Objection Overruled: God said, “The same power I demonstrated to you, I will demonstrate to them… so that they may believe the Lord has appeared to you.” (Ex. 4-5).
Objection 3: I am not gifted to do this, God. “I am slow of speech and persuasion” (Ex. 4:10). I know the rhetorical expectations for speaking in Pharaoh’s court, and I just don’t have it.
Objection Overruled: God said, “I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (Ex. 4:12). You’re still missing the point Moses. I want Egypt and Israel to be impressed with Me, not you. Don’t be afraid, I’ll be with you.
Objection 4: Please, Lord, don’t make me do this. “Lord, please send someone else” (Ex. 4:13). God, there has got to be a better candidate for this job. I’m still wanted in Egypt for murder. To be brutally honest, I don’t want this job.
Objection Overruled: God said, “Enough! I have chosen you for this purpose. I will be with you and teach you what to do” (Ex. 4:14-15). Now get moving!
Have you been arguing with God over your calling qualifications? Remember Moses! And remember that God’s call on you is not about you. It’s about God working through you.
The third Biblical character who thought himself not qualified to do God’s work was Abraham. Apart from Jesus Christ, Abraham is probably the most important person in the Bible. Abraham was the first man chosen by God for a role in God’s plan for humanity’s salvation. Great sections of the Bible explain the spiritual significance of Abraham. But Abraham came from a family of idol worshipers, and was undoubtedly an idol worshiper himself (Joshua 24:2-14, Isaiah 5:1-2). So why would God select this obscure pagan from northern Mesopotamia to become the father of a great host of believers?
It is impossible to understand Abraham’s faith without realizing that there was nothing in Abraham that commended him to God. God did not look down from Heaven, spot Abraham by an oasis and say, “Oh, wonderful! I’ve finally found someone with a bit of faith. I think I’ll save him.” When God looks upon the earth He sees that all people are without faith. “There is no one who is righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:12). That included Abraham.
Why did God select Abraham? The answer is simply that this was God’s will. Deuteronomy 7 explains God’s reason for selecting the Hebrews and us to be His people. We read, “The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. It was because the Lord loved you” (7:7-8). Why did God love us? Because He loves us! Why did God choose us? Because He chose us! That is not human logic. It is Divine logic. It is the logic of Grace!
Grace explains the way God loved Abraham, Moses and Peter. Grace is the way God loves us. For you are like Abraham, Moses and Peter, there is nothing in you to commend you to God. Yet, God still chooses to love you. Do you still feel unqualified for what God is calling you to do? Welcome to the club! Service in Christ’s Kingdom is supernatural work. God intends to use you by shining through you. Christ takes what is weak in the world to shame the wise; what is despised by the world, to display His power; so that you can only boast of what God has done through you (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
Perhaps God has given you a command to do something and you have put it off. You prefer to be where you are. Perhaps you’ve insisted that you are unqualified, unworthy, unfit to pursue God’s calling. Get to the end of yourself and realize it’s time to respond. The fullness of the Lord’s blessing is never going to come to you until you obey God and do what He has set before you