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About this series
Precious in His Sight
Seeing Me Through Jesus' Eyes
This series, taught by Theresa Ingram, wife of Chip, helps women understand that they are fully forgiven, deeply loved, and have great worth because of their relationship with Christ. We all spend many hours and days trying to be someone significant, only to realize we often don't like the person we see in the mirror. Little do we know how precious we are in God's sight.More from this series
The goal of the teaching has been that each of us would learn how to reflect Christ in our world by the free expression of the truly unique individual that God has created you to be, the wonderful you that you are. And, God tells us that there is a calling upon each of our lives. Because of all the spiritual blessings that we possess, because of all that He has given us, because of what Christ has done in our lives, because of who we are, we have a responsibility to make an impact in the sphere of influence so that others will experience the love of God through us, and that we will bring the message of God's truth to them.
We have a responsibility, we have a calling, because of all the wonderful things that God has given to us. In Ephesians 2:10, it says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before Him that we should walk in them.” We have been called to do good works. We were all created, and prepared, to do God's work of love. And He has chosen us to be His hands, and His feet, and His voice, and His arms of love, and His ministers of good works to others. He says, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and then glorify your Father who is in heaven."
As we love someone who is unlovable, and as we give sacrificially of our time, and as we serve others, and we put their needs before our own, and as we use our gifts – our spiritual gifts, and abilities to build up the body of Christ – then the light of Christ shines brightly through those things, and people see Christ in us. They’ll see Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 5:20 it says, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ." We have been called to be God's ambassadors. We have bee n appointed by Him to be His ambassadors. And as an ambassador, we represent Him. We speak for Him. We influence others on behalf of Christ. And we're here, as His representatives, to tell others who He is. And God has entrusted us with this special job. He has entrusted this to all of His children. So, God didn't just give us a position in His royal family, and He didn't just give us a new identity, but He has given us the privilege of being His representative – of carrying His name, of being His witness to the world.
And He says to you that you are so significant to Him, that He is going to allow you to represent His name to the rest of the world, and that, as you do that, His power will work in you, and He will use you in a mighty way.
God's truth says about you - it says: I am a competent person, equipped by the Holy Spirit to carry out God's will in my life, in a way that pleases Him, regardless of what stage of growth I may be in at the present. My real importance in life is connected with the way I am touching other people's lives with the love of God, and the message of Christ.
Now, sometimes, though, it’s hard for us to believe that God would ever use us in a great way, or that we could ever do anything significant with our lives. And we think, Does my life really count for anything? You know, when I die, have I made any difference at all? You know, we all, down deep inside, long to be significant. We long to know that we’re doing something important with our lives. But, sometimes, we wonder, When it’s all said and done, you know, have I made any difference? Have I made any impact? Does anything really matter? And, What will people remember about me? What will they remember about me when I die?
Well, many times, the only hindrance standing in the way of us having a great impact for God in our lives is us. We are the only thing standing in the way. And, sometimes, the other thing is that we wrongly perceive what those significant activities are. What are the things that are truly significant to God? We wrongly perceive what those are. And so, this morning, we’re going to talk about four roadblocks, four negative beliefs that we might have, that hinder God being able to use us in the way that He wants to.
When my children were little, I just loved reading storybooks to them. And I still love to read children's books. I read lots of the kids’ books that we’ve put in the library, just because I like to read them. Sometimes, I would read be reading a story to my kids, and there was a truth in it that just really spoke to me. That would happen a lot and. And there was one particular story that I’ve always remembered, and the name of the story is Wings. And it is about a little garter snake, and a caterpillar.
And, one day, this little caterpillar slid down from the branch of a willow tree. And a young garter snake came out of the flowerbed, and they introduced themselves to each other. The garter snake said, "Everybody knows me. They admire my golden stripes, and my shiny, dark green skin." Well, the little caterpillar began to stretch, and curl down softly. “You don't do that right," said the garter snake. “Can't you put more movement into it, more wiggle and twist?" The garter snake began to show the caterpillar how he could twist – do an up-and-over, a side-to-side, and whirl into a circle.
The caterpillar tried again, and did her best to dance like the garter snake. "How's that?" she asked proudly. "Terrible. You'll never be a snake." The garter snake looked at her sadly. “I'm afraid you just haven't got the talent.”
Well, the caterpillar was getting tired, and decided if she could rest for a while, maybe she would be able to learn. So, the caterpillar crawled back into the tree, and began to spin something fine and glossy, and tied herself to a branch. You're a funny one, thought the snake. The snake glided away to another part of the garden, and forgot about the caterpillar.
Well, spring came, and the garter snake remembered the caterpillar. He wondered what had become of her, and went back to the tree to find out. All he could see was a strong-looking bundle hanging from the stem of a leaf. "Caterpillar, is that you? My, you're a sleepy head! Do you know how long you've been there?" The little caterpillar stretched out a sticky wing to dry in the air, and then she stretched out another wing. “Wings!” exclaimed the garter snake. “How on earth, Caterpillar? What have you done?" "I didn't do anything," the butterfly said. "I really didn't do anything."
The garter snake begged her to think: “There must be something you can tell me. I must grow wings!” A bird looked out from her house. "Why aren't you happy the way you are?" she asked. "I’m happy just to be me," she said. "That's all right for you to say," said the garter snake, "you already have wings." He begged the caterpillar, again, to tell him what she did. "I didn't do anything. I just went to sleep." The garter snake said, "Oh, that must be it – plenty of rest. I'll go to sleep and see what happens."
Well, the garter snake slid over to the rock, and yawned, but he wasn't sleepy. Then, the bird said, "My poor boy, don't waste your time. You'll never grow wings." "Why not?" asked the little snake. "Why can't I grow wings?" "Because your parents didn't have wings, that's why," said the bird. "My parents had wings," said the butterfly. "So did mine," said the bird.
Sadly, the garter snake said, “You mean I'll never be able to fly?” And he tried not to cry. "No, you won't," the butterfly said, "but you dance like a dream!" "Yes I do, don't I?" said the garter snake, and he did his special twist and twirl. “There are not many as good as I am. I guess I like myself the way I am.”
I thought that was a pretty cute story. And the garter snake, you see, thought he was pretty special, until he began to compare himself with the butterfly. Then, he became dissatisfied with how he was uniquely made, even though he could dance like a dream.
Our first roadblock, to God being able to use us in the special way that He wants to is, comparing myself with others: If I could be like her, if I could have her spiritual gifts, if I could have her money, or if I had her abilities, or her personality, then God could really use my life. If I could be like her . . .
You know, it’s looking around at what others are doing, and what their gifts are and we start thinking, That person’s gifts are better than mine. Or I may become envious of the way God is using her life. And so, then, I try to be like them, or to be better than them, and I fail to see, and to appreciate, the special gifts and abilities that God has given me.
Well, in 2 Corinthians 10:12, it tells us what God says about comparison. It says, “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves, but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding." He says that when we compare ourselves with others, we don't really understand who we are. We are not really being content with how God has made us, and we’re not accepting the special qualities that God gave us, or we think that our gifts don't really matter, and that our gifts aren't really as important as someone else's.
We can find an example of this in John 21. That's a real interesting passage, here, that, after Jesus' death and resurrection, He appeared to His disciples, and He spent time with them at the Sea of Galilee. And Jesus dearly loved all of His disciples; they were very special to Him, and they were each one chosen very specifically by Him. Each had a unique background, and personality, and gifts that God would use, in a special way, to build His Church, and to proclaim the Kingdom of God.
John 21, versus 20 to 22: "Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had leaned back on His breast at the supper and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’” Now, Peter is referring to John, here. He’s looking back, and he sees John. “And Peter, therefore, seeing John, says to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’
Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’”
Peter was talking to Jesus, and he said, "Well, what about John? How are You going to use his life?" You know, “What's gonna happen to John?”
And He says, "You follow Me, in what I have called you to do, and I will take care of how I will use other people."
And John and Peter were called to very different types of ministry, very different types of service for the Lord. And they were not to question why, and they were not to compare their ministries with each other.
But they were to be obedient to God in what He wanted them to do with their unique gifts, and abilities. And God would use each of them to have an impact in their world for Christ.
Out of the Life Application Commentary, I read this. It says, “If we want to follow Jesus, we must be totally committed to obeying Him, but God's call and the result of that obedience are different for every person. God can use all kinds of people. He has specific plans and service for the impulsive Peters, the thoughtful and sensitive Johns, and the forceful Pauls. God takes into consideration each person's nature and abilities.
Each Christian is called and guided by God, and is accountable to no one but God. Christians should not make comparisons among themselves, or judge others regarding how each is fulfilling God's plan. We must be content with where God has placed us, and not be jealous about what He has given others to do.” It tells us not to compare ourselves with other people, but Jesus' command is to, “Come, follow Me.”
See, that's what He wants us to do. And as we do that – as we follow Him with the unique gifts, and the abilities, and our backgrounds, and our personalities, and even in our pain, and in our struggles – even if what we have seems small, in comparison to others, He’ll use us, in a great way, to spread His love, and the message of salvation, in this world.
So, God wants to use you, in the unique way that He’s created you. No one else is like you, and no one else has the sphere of influence that you have. You think about that. The people that you are connected with, that are in an area that you have an influence over – no one has that but you. And your life may be the only connection with Christ that some people will ever have.
Byron Michow wrote a little psalm, called, “Me.” And he says, “All my life I've tried to please others. All my life I've put on an act for others. I will not do this, for if I spend my time trying to be someone else, who will spend time being me?”
God wants you to be you, because He has gifted you, and given you abilities, and a personality, that will have an impact in the sphere of influence where He has placed you, and what He wants you to do. And, sometimes, our deeds seem so small, and petty, that we think they're insignificant.
God watched, as the widow put her couple of pennies in the offering that day, and as she gave all that she had to Him. And you know what? It was no small thing to God. It may seem insignificant in the world, but it was no small thing to God.
There are no small deeds that are done, in God's eyes, when they are done out of a heart of love towards Him. And there are no spiritual gifts so small, and so unimportant, that they are not critical to the health of the Body of Christ. We need to remember that we're all important. God needs you, and He needs your gifts, just the way you are.
There's an older lady in our church, and she just loves to bake cookies. I'm sure some of you know who she is. She loves to bake cookies, and she's good at it! She can make all kinds of little, fancy cookies. And she has had a ministry of encouragement, by baking cookies, and sharing those cookies with other people.
And our family has been one of those that have been able to receive her cookies. And our kids call her, affectionately, “the cookie lady,” because we know, when a holiday rolls around, or, sometimes, just in between, there’s gonna be a plate of cookies left for us. And you know, God has used her offering of love to encourage us, so many times. And it's been amazing – and she doesn't even know this – that she would leave cookies for us, and it was right when we were having people over, or we were reaching out, in some way, to people, and I didn't have the time to make something. And those cookies were there and, they were wonderful.
God’s using her. And it may seem insignificant, compared to other things that we think about, but it’s not insignificant to God. And she’s doing that in the will of God, and her reward will be great in heaven because of that.
Well, if you're taking prayer seriously – let’s talk about something else that sometimes seems insignificant to be involved in. If you're taking prayer seriously in your life, you're already having a great impact. You already are. We tend to think that, when we're doing something out there, when we’re accomplishing these great things, doing some kind of activity, it's something that others can see – we tend to think that that’s really having an impact, that we're really doing something. But you know what? Prayer is the most significant activity that we could ever be involved in, that we could ever do.
There's a prayer team that's praying for this retreat – they’re praying for you, and for all that’s happened here. And, you know, probably, hardly anybody in here knows who they are. We don't know who they are. But they are having a great impact, and it’s evidenced by what has happened here this weekend.
Prayer is the most significant thing that we can do. Prayer is a vehicle through which God empowers our ministries, and our lives, to accomplish His will. And I'm convinced that, in the storehouses of heaven, there are all kinds of blessings, and answers of prayer, for which people didn't even bother to ask.
We need to ask Him. He says, “The effective prayer of a righteous person accomplishes much,” in James. It accomplishes much. And, you know, it's easy to get out there, and do things that look good, but God might not be in them. And He uses those whose hearts are tender, and open towards Him.
And only by spending time in prayer, and seeking His guidance for our lives, and for our ministries, will we experience the power in those activities and works that we do. And so, that's not insignificant to God. You're having a great impact if you're praying.
So, roadblock number one is: comparing myself with others. She who measures herself, and compares herself with others is without understanding, because she doesn't see the whole picture. She doesn't understand who she really is.
Well, the second roadblock is: focusing on my weakness and failures, instead of God. And that is, Well my, my life is too messed up. My life is too broken for God to use me. He'd never use me. I used to believe that.
Second Corinthians 12:9 and 10 says, "And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness! Most gladly, therefore, I would rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
You see, it's when we're weak that we realize that I can't do this on my own, that I need the Lord, I can't do this in my own strength, and that we'll stop, and we'll allow the power of God to begin to work in our lives. And we realize, I need God if this is going to happen. I need the Lord. He will be the one that will give me strength. And as I yield my life to Him, then there's no telling what God can do. You will be amazed at what He can do. He says that we should set our eyes continually upon Him: “Because He is at My right hand, I will not be shaken.”
He will be there in a powerful way. And God wants to take ordinary people, like you, and me, and, with all of our cracks, all of our failures, and all of our weaknesses – and we all have cracks. Some of our cracks are just bigger than others. But we all have them. And He wants to use us, as His witnesses, in this world. And God uses our broken past. He uses the sins in our lives that we have confessed to Him. He uses the failures that we’ve experienced in our lives to help other people grow, to teach other people, and give them hope, as they see how God has changed us. He uses those things.
And He says, "All things work together for good to those who love Him." God promises us that He will always bring good out of everything that is offered up to Him, that is given to Him, with a sincere heart. Even though we know that we will experience the consequences of our wrong decisions, and we'll experience, at times, the discipline for our sins, as those sins are offered up to Him, He’ll use them, in a great way. And He’ll use us to impact other people, to help them.
And the One who loves you with an everlasting love, who loves all of His children with an everlasting love, never gives up on us.
And He’ll bring something good out of the worst of experiences that we’ve been through –whatever it is. I don't care what you’ve been through. I don't care what you've done in your life. God can use that for good in another person's life. And He wants to do that, if you’ll let Him do it. So, you've never messed up, you've never blown it, too greatly for God not to be able to put the pieces back together, and transform our broken vessels into something useful to the Master.
Well, when God's people were enslaved in Egypt, He allowed a Hebrew baby, named Moses, to be raised in the Pharaoh's home, by the daughter of the Pharaoh. And He, I think, supernaturally, allowed Moses to be placed in this place of authority, in this position where he would, one day, be able to help God's people. But Moses – you know what he did? He blew it, big time! God had taken the time to allow this baby to be found in the water, and to be raised all these years in this place of influence, and authority – Moses blew it.
Do you know what he did? He murdered an Egyptian, and then, he fled for his life. He ran to the land of Midian, and he spent the next 40 years of his life there – 40 years – while God's people were still enslaved, and in bondage in Egypt. And you know, God had placed Moses there for a special purpose, to deliver God's people, but he blew it. How do you think he felt about that?
But God didn't give up on Moses. He didn't give up on him. God came to Moses, in Midian, in the wilderness, and He commissioned Moses to go back to Egypt, and deliver His people, to go back and do what He planned for him to do.
And Moses, after giving excuse after excuse of why he just couldn't do it – he finally obeyed the call of God, and he stepped out in faith. And do you know how old he was when he went back? He was 80. He went back, and he led God's people out of Egypt, and he obeyed the call of God. He stepped out in faith, and he did what God called him to do.
And so, you see, you can't mess up too much. You can't mess up so much that God won't take you into His arms, forgive you, and give you new marching orders. He wants you to do something with your life.
God used King David, even after he committed adultery, and murder, because of David's repentant heart. And God even calls him “a man after God's own heart.” I mean, even after he did all these things. That's how God referred to David.
Well, the third roadblock is: focusing on what I don't have, instead of on God, Who is my adequacy in all things. And I could say, “I'm not adequate enough. I don't think I'm adequate enough for God to use my life.”
And we can limit God, because we think that we don't have enough training, that we don't have enough education, or that, Maybe I'm too old, or, Maybe I'm too young. I'm not smart enough, or, I'm not . . . I'm not . . . I'm not . . . We can come up with all kinds of reasons that we think we're not adequate to do what God would want us to do.
God says to us that we can do all things through Him, because He is our adequacy, even things that we think we’re not able to do. In 2 Peter 1:3, He says, "Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything – everything – that we need pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." And in 2 Corinthians 3:5: "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God." It is from God. It's not from us.
Because God is our adequacy, we can do greater things than we ever thought that we could do. And all God desires from us is that we are willing, that we are willing to do it, and that we have a heart open towards Him, to be obedient. And then, He'll do the rest. He'll provide all that we need.
After 40 years in the land of Midian – getting back to Moses, again – Moses probably felt like a failure. I'm sure he did. And he probably had a poor self-image. Did you ever think about that, that Moses could have had a poor self-image? Maybe had an inferiority complex because he had a speech impediment. I'm not sure, you know, how that all worked, and what he sounded like, but the Bible tells us that he had a speech impediment. And he probably thought he was permanently disqualified from God's service, from God using his life.
And when God's call came to Moses, in the burning bush, and He said, “I want you to go back, and I want you to speak to Pharaoh, to deliver My people.” And Moses offered excuse after excuse of why he was inadequate to do the job. He said, "You know, God, I just don't have what it takes. I just don't have that. Take someone else." And he said, "You know, God, I can't talk,” or, “They won't believe me.” You know, “I can't go." And he used all kinds of excuses of why he wasn't adequate to do what God was calling him to do.
But God said to Moses that He would provide all that Moses needed to do the job, to go and deliver God's people, and that God would be his adequacy in everything. And we see this – what God provided for Moses. And He provided it beforehand. He showed Moses what He was going to do. In Exodus 3:12, God said to Moses, "I will certainly be with you." You see, He wasn't sending Moses out there by himself. He was going to go with him. He was going to be with him, in a powerful way. He'll go with you wherever He wants you to go. Whatever He wants you to do, He'll be with you.
In Exodus 4:2, He gave him a rod to perform signs, as a witness of God's power. He gave him something that would authenticate that he was from God, that God was sending him to perform miracles with, and whatever. When God asks us to do something, He'll give us what we need. It's probably not going to be a rod that does miracles, but He'll give us what we need to do that.
In Exodus 4:11, God says that He will give Moses the words to say. He says, “You don't have to worry about it.” He says, “I'll tell you exactly what you need to say. I'll show you.” And then, in Exodus 4:14 and 16, it says, God gave Aaron – that's Moses' brother – He gave him as his mouthpiece, because Moses was unable to speak clearly. And so, He said, “I'll bring Aaron, and you take him with you. And I'll give you the words to say, and Aaron will say the words for you.” And so, God provided everything that Moses needed to do His will.
And God tells Moses, in Exodus 3:14 – He says to Moses, "I AM who I AM." That's how God described Himself: “I AM who I AM.” And He said, "And you shall say to the sons of Israel I AM has sent you." And God told Moses, and He told the children of Israel, that, “Whatever you need, you see, I AM. Whatever you need.” And God says to you, to His beloved children, “Whatever you need, I AM.”
And so, think about what's God calling you to do. Are you willing? Are you willing, and available, to use your life as God would want you to? And God doesn't have a list of assignments, and degrees, that you need to achieve before He'll use your life. It doesn't work that way. All He requires is a woman who loves Him, and who’s willing to be obedient to God's will for her life. That's all. And so, we can say to God, with a sincere heart, “God, I love You. My life is Yours. Use me. Use me, Lord, in whatever way that You would choose.” And you'll be amazed at what God will do, and at the powerful way that He'll work through your life.
And I’ve just learned, every time that God calls me to do something, that instead of dwelling on my inadequacy, I begin to thank Him for my inadequacy. Because I always feel inadequate. I especially feel inadequate doing this. But you know what? I can thank God for my inadequacy, because, you know what? In my own inadequacy, I know that I can be dependent upon the Lord, because He will do it. He will be my adequacy. And He will get the glory, and He will get the honor, you see, not me. That's why He wants us to realize that we're not adequate without Him.
In II Corinthians 4:7, He says, “But we have this treasure” - this life of Christ that we have – “in jars of clay” – “in jars of clay” He describes our weak, human, inadequate bodies – “that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God, and not of ourselves.”
And God takes these blobs of clay –that's how He describes us – and He molds us into a beautiful vessel, into a masterpiece, to reflect the image of God. And He is the treasure that's found inside of every one of you. And, if we will allow Him, He will be our adequacy, in all that we do, and then, people will see Christ, and not us.
In fact, every time I get up to speak to a group, or to teach a class, I'm amazed at the power of God at work in my life. Because I know where I came from. You know, I know that I can't do it. I remember a day when I could barely communicate, verbally, to anyone, about anything that was going on deep in my heart.
And early on, when we were in ministry – here I am, the pastor's wife . . . I remember sitting in a group, and sharing things, and my heart would start pounding, because I wanted to say something, but I didn't have the courage to get it out. And I just couldn't get it out. And fear so overtook me. And when I felt God's call on my life to begin to get up, and to teach, and to share of what He has done in my life, I just felt like a Moses. I thought, God, you've got to be kidding! You want me to do that?
But in my fear, I was willing to be obedient to what God was calling me to do, and to trust that God would do it, and that He would be what I needed. And He promised to be my “great I AM” for whatever He called me to do. And He's been so faithful, and I’ve just seen Him work in my life, and change me. But do you know what? I know that it's Him, and it is not me.
And it's not easy. Even though you know something is the will of God, and you know God's gonna be with you, it's still not easy to do; it’s still hard. But I know for certain that He'll give me what I need.
And “I AM,” the “great I AM,” is calling each of us to be His ambassadors, and to let our light, the light of Christ, shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father who’s in heaven. And so, I just encourage you to quit focusing on all the things that you don't have, to quit making excuses, like Moses did, but, rather, focus on the God who will give you all that you need, to do all that He's called you to do, for every good work, and for sharing the message of Christ in our world.
The fourth roadblock is: unwillingness to believe God's promises. Just an unwillingness to believe: I just don't believe that my one little life can make that much of a difference. Who, me? My one little life could make that much of a difference?
In Hebrews 11:6, it says, "But without faith, it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." When we step out in faith, God says that He rewards that, and He's very pleased when we do that.
And faith, or belief, is an action word. It's not just trying real hard to muster up certain feelings. You see, faith isn't a feeling, and it's not just saying, over and over again, “I believe, I believe, I believe,” until I believe it. It doesn't work that way. But it's hearing God's Word. It's hearing His truth, and His promises to me.
And then, it is stepping out to serve God, based on the faithfulness of His promises, and knowing that He will keep His promises. It's a firm expectation that God will do what He said He'll do. It's a firm expectation.
Faith is what pleases God, not accomplishing things, not accomplishing things that, outwardly, make us look significant, but, by faith, doing those things that are God's will for each of our lives. And even though those things may seem mundane, and even though they may go unnoticed by others, they are significant to God. And when we step out in faith, and we do God's will, it pleases Him, and He rewards us, and we have spiritual blessings that are just so wonderful.
And it takes, sometimes – I've noticed in my own life – as much faith to step out, and do those mundane things in our daily lives, and believe that they are important, as it does to step out, and do something that's really big, and something that we feel like we're not equipped to do. Sometimes, it takes just as much faith to do those little, tiny things.
In Romans 10:17, it says, "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." You see, our faith will not grow, if we're not in the Bible on a regular basis. And I know we talked about this a lot last night, but it's just so important. I see how it affects every area of our lives. As God's Spirit lives inside me, He helps me to understand God's Word, and He helps me to apply His Word to my life. And it's God responsibility to make me mature. It's His responsibility to grow me up in Him, and to give me all that I need.
But you know what? It's my responsibility to pick up that Bible, and read it, and to fill my mind with His truth, and to meditate on it, and allow its transforming power to work in my life. But it's a choice. It’s a choice that I have to make. God's not going to take control of my arm, and make me pick up my Bible and read it every day. It's a choice that I need to make. It's a choice to step out in faith, and do what God is calling me to do. And I can either say “yes” to God, or I can say “no.”
You know, I spent time with a young woman this past year, counseling her some. And this young woman was really destroying her life by the negative beliefs that she had – physically destroying her body because of how she viewed herself, and how she believed God viewed her. And as I shared with her, and as I prayed with her about how God viewed her, and her value in Christ . . . She told me one day, as I was praying, and as I was praying God's truth into her life, that, inside, in her heart, she was shaking her head “no.” And you see, she was refusing to believe. She just refused to believe God's truth. It takes a step of faith. It takes a choice, an act of our will, to say, “Yes God. Yes. I will do this. I will believe.”
And so, how about you? You know, are you continually shaking your head “no” to God, to all that He has for you?
Or will you decide to act by faith, to say, “Yes. Yes, Lord, I want all that You have.
Yes. Thank You, Lord, for what You've done for me,” and say, “I'm willing, Lord, for You to use my life in whatever capacity that You would choose. And I know that I'll never deliver a nation of people, like Moses. And I know that I'll never lead a kingdom, like David, and I'll not be an apostle, like Paul.” But that God has gifted each of us, and chosen us, to be a reflection of Him in the sphere of influence that He has given us. And God needs, and will use, your one little life. He'll use you.
Here's an example of one little life that God used: A Sunday school teacher named Edward Kimball wasn't always sure his life had had much consequence, either. In 1858, he at least was able to lead a shoe clerk to Christ. Now, probably, in your life you think, Well, that's okay, but that’s not a significant impact.
Look at what happened: The clerk, Dwight L. Moody, became an evangelist. And, in 1879, Moody awakened an evangelistic zeal in the heart of a man named F.B. Meyer, the pastor of a small church in New England. Meyer, preaching on a college campus, won a student named J. Wilbur Chapman to Christ. While Chapman was engaged in YMCA work, he employed a former baseball player named Billy Sunday to help with evangelistic meetings. Sunday held a series of services in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area, and a group of local men were so enthused by the meetings, that they planned another campaign. This time, they brought preacher Mordecai F. Ham to town. During one of his meetings, a young man named Billy Graham yielded his life to Christ. Since then, millions have heard the Gospel through Graham's ministry.
Kimball had started quite a ripple effect. So can you. In fact, you're probably already making a greater impact than you think you are. Now, that's quite a testimony: one little Sunday school teacher, one little life.
And so, are you ready to claim your inheritance? I am. Are you ready to fully claim your identify in Christ, and not turn back, not look back? You know, God wants to use us, cracks and all.
In 2 Timothy 2:20 and 21, it says, "Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things – and “these things” could be unfaithfulness, corruption, false beliefs – cleanse ourselves from these false beliefs – “he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work." That's who you are. “The Master was searching for a vessel to use. Before Him were many. Which one would He choose? “‘Take me,’ cried the gold one, I'm shiny and bright. I'm of great value, and I do things just right. My beauty and luster will outshine the rest, and for someone like You, Master, gold would be best.’
“The Master passed on, with no word at all, and looked at a silver urn, narrow and tall. ‘I'll serve You, dear Master, I'll pour out Your wine. I'll be on Your table, wherever You dine. My lines are so graceful, my carvings so true, and silver will always compliment You.’
“Unheeding, the Master passed on to the brass, wide-mouthed and shallow, and polished like glass. ‘Here! Here!’ cried the vessel, ‘I know I will do. Place me on Your table for all men to view.’
“‘Look at me,’ called the goblet of crystal so clear, ‘My transparency shows my contents so dear. Though fragile am I, I will serve You with pride, and I'm sure I'll be happy in Your house to abide.’“The Master came next to a vessel of wood, polished and carved, it solidly stood. ‘You may use me, dear Master,’ the wooden bowl said, ‘but I'd rather You use me for fruit, not for bread.’
“Then, the Master looked down, and saw a vessel of clay, empty and broken it helplessly lay. No hope had the vessel that the Master might choose to cleanse and to make whole, to fill and to use. ‘Ah, this is the vessel I've been hoping to find. I'll mend it and use it, and make it all Mine. I need not the vessel with pride of itself; nor one that is narrow to sit on the shelf; nor one that is big-mouthed and shallow and loud; nor one that displays its contents so proud; nor one that thinks he can do all things just right; but this plain, earthen vessel filled with power and might.’
“Then gently He lifted the vessel of clay, mended and cleansed it and filled it that day, spoke to it kindly, ‘There's work you must do. Just pour out to others, as I’ve poured into you.’”
Let's pray. Father, we thank You so much that we are Your vessels of honor, and that we're but clay pots that have many, many cracks, but that You use those very things to draw others to Yourself, and You fill us with Yourself, and that You're our adequacy in everything that we do. Thank You, Lord, that You are our great “I AM.” You are everything that we will ever need.
We love You so much, and we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.