Using your life productively for the Lord. Rev. Shine P. Thomas
Everyone has their own weaknesses and faults in life. Sometimes we use our shortcomings as excuses for not being used by God. We say, “I cannot do anything great, I have got these limitations.” The good news is that God does not just use perfect people. If he did, none of us would have a chance. God’s calling in your life is not put on hold until you overcome in every area and perform perfectly 100% of the time. No God will use you while you are growing, while you are changing, while you are maturing. So, don’t let your weakness be an excuse to settle where you are. God wants to use you.
Come with me to Ephesians 2. This passage deals with 3 things. First, what we used to be like? How we used to live? Secondly, what God did in his grace to change us? Thirdly what he expects us a result?
Ephesians 2:1-2 1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
Ephesians 2:4-5 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:8-10 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Notice what Paul says. God took us from sinfulness and the wrath of God, saved us, created us in Christ Jesus, for what? To do good works that God prepared in advance for us to do.
1. God plans to use everyone.
No matter who you are he has planned to use you. According to the Bible, he saved us in order to serve Him. Believers must be a Holy Spirit lead energetic movement of people whose lives count where they work, where they live, and where they are.
Now ask yourself a question. When was the last time you know that God used you? What are you doing on a daily basis that is an indication that you are serving God in some fashion?
Some say: What big task has God given me? God does not have to give you a big task, it is a matter of using us in our day-to-day activities like work, home, neighbourhood, friends and the way we relate to them, the way we talk, the way we deal so that they can see good work in us, Christ in us.
1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. You have been bought with a prize. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross purchased you and me. You belong to God. We have a mandate; we have a command to serve God. It is clear in the word of God that no Christian can just waste their time without serving God.
Now you may say, “Pastor, I want to do something but I am not able like many.”
2. You have been uniquely gifted.
You have been uniquely gifted for the good works surrounding you. When God created you he has already blessed you with that personality, that skill, and ability to use you.
1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
You have been uniquely given a gift. It is a special gift suited to your personality and God intends you to exercise them in a way that impacts the people around us. God is the one who created you. He has given you a special gift; we are to put it to work.
Whatever our vocation, occupation, it should impact the people around us. You maybe a nurse, doctor, in the company, use your gift and talents it in serving one another, make an impact on others with the gifts.
1 Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
Let God be glorified when you exercise your gifts in the society and guess what? The Holy Spirit is there to empower you. Jesus said, “I am going to send you another helper.” Why did he say that because we needed help? When you trusted Jesus Christ as saviour, the Holy Spirit has sealed us. The Holy Spirit is in you, with you and upon. So he will strengthen you with your unique gifts for good works.
3. We are accountable to God.
We are responsible to use our gifts, skills, resources, work, and talents in ways that honour Him. Remember the parable of the bags of gold in Matthew 25?
Illustration: Before going on a journey, a man gave his servant 5 bags of gold, another 2 bags of gold, and another 1 bag of gold, each one according to his ability. After a long time the master returned and settled accounts with them. The man who received 5 bags brought 5 more. The man who received 2 bags brought 2 more. The master said to them, “Well done, good and faithful servants! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”
The man who had received one bag of gold came back and said, “Master, I was so afraid and hid your gold in the ground. See here is the one bag of gold that belongs to you.” The master said, “You wicked, and lazy servant. You should have at least put it in the bank, so that I would have got the interest as gain.” Then the master said: Matthew 25:29-30 29For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
We are accountable to God with our gifts to serve him for good works. I strongly believe that if believers do not serve God wherever they are, they are disobeying the command of God and committing a sin unto God.
4. Why don’t people serve God?
Some people feel inadequate to serve God. They say, “The Lord can never use someone like me. I just don’t feel worthy.” Neither do I. I just do not feel worthy when it comes to God’s standards.
Illustration: If anyone has to be inadequate for the gospel, it has to be Apostle Paul. Paul was a murderer. He persecuted the church and yet God used him so mightily.
Apostle Peter was far from perfection. He was hot tempered, used bad language, cursed people. One time he got so upset, he pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of a solder. Later he was so afraid he denied that he knew Christ. He had plenty of areas to come up higher in yet he was a chosen, disciple, one of Jesus’ right hand men. Not long after he cut the soldier’s ear off, he stood up to minister and 3000 people became believers.
There is no one who is really adequate to serve God. It is the Holy Spirit that makes us adequate. When you feel inadequate look to him, trust in God, he will empower you.
Another reason why people are not used by God is because they compare themselves with others. Haven’t you ever told God, “Why don’t you ask him or her to do this? He could do it so much better than I can?” The problem with this reasoning is that the Lord called you to do that job, not someone else. God doesn’t need your advice about who can do it better; He just wants your obedience.
Remember Moses? When God asked him to go present himself to Pharaoh he blamed his stuttering problem, He told the Lord to find someone else to confront Pharaoh. God didn’t accept his excuse then, and He won’t accept ours now.
When it comes to serving God, too many people major on their weaknesses: “I’m still struggling in this area pastor. I want to be used by God but I am feeling so guilty.”
Paul says our weaknesses are opportunities for Christ to display His strength in us: 2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Every one of us have weaknesses. That is why we have the helper, the Holy Spirit.
“Pastor I have this problem with my temper, that is why I am nor able to do anything.” That is the same problem Peter had yet he was so anointed, his shadow touched someone and they were healed. What makes you think you are any different than Peter? If God did not write him off, why would go write you off.
“Well I have got this addiction. Well I have had some moral failures.” Neither was David. He repented, God forgave him and restored him and he went on to fulfil his destiny. Whatever it is you think is holding you back, a limitation, a failure, a fault, a weakness, I can tell you with confidence, it has not disqualified you from the amazing future God has in front of you. But you got to do your part, repent and get in agreement with God. Get rid of the guilt, get rid of the condemnation, confess to God, don’t go around feeling bad about yourself. As long as you feel wrong it will keep you from working for God.
The Bible says we are God’s workmanship. It indicates it is an ongoing process. Just because we have not arrived does not mean that we are supposed to sit on the sidelines until we get it all together. God wants to use us with our limitations.
One of the worst mistakes people make is to go through life always fearing insecure about their ability and failures. They say, “What if I fail or don’t measure up? I could make of fool of myself or face criticism. What will they say?” Satan wants fear to hinder us from becoming effective servants of Christ. The only way to overcome our fears is to step into them, trusting God to do His work through us. You are saying, “I cannot, I cannot, I cannot.” God says, “You can, you can, you can.”
Listen, there are already so many people against us, putting us down, talking fear and negativity into us; so don’t be against yourself. Quit beating yourself up, ask God to help you to the next level.
When given an opportunity to serve the Lord, some people say, “I don’t have time, I am too busy.” Sometimes people aren’t willing to serve the Lord because their lives are devoted to family, friends, careers, hobbies, and responsibilities—but they have no interest in serving God. But actually, a more accurate statement might be, “That’s not a priority for me.” Listen: Don’t you have an hour to give God who gives you 24 hours a day?
When we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, these excuses won’t stand. Instead of receiving rewards for accomplishing the good works God prepared for us, we’ll watch the wood, hay, and straw of our lives burn away. But in this life, it’s never too late to change course.
You cannot serve God faithfully and live in sin. David committed a sin as he was serving God and he said: Psalm 32:3-4 3When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
If you have lifestyle of the world, sin in you, you will never be able to be effectively used by God.
5. What is God looking for?
God’s not looking for the most impressive people. God uses the most unlikely people. Just look at the disciples. They were hardly the kind of men typically thought of as great, but God used them to turn the world upside down. His measuring stick is the heart.
God is looking for people who will make themselves available for whatever He asks them to do. When the Lord called Isaiah, the prophet immediately responded: Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” and I said, “Here am I. Send me.”
Remember, when Jesus called his disciples? When he was walking beside the Sea of Galilee he saw Peter and Andrew who were casting their net into the lake. Matthew 4:19-20 19“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “And I will send you to fish for people.” 20At once they left their nets and followed him.
God opposes the proud but calls on the humble to accomplish His purposes. 1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
He wants servants who seek to give Him the glory instead of taking the credit for themselves.
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see God. Another requirement for effective service is a pure life. I’m talking not about perfection but about having a heart bent toward obedience. Purity necessitates keeping short accounts with God through immediate confession and sincere repentance. Allowing sin to remain in our lives hinders our usefulness because it deadens spiritual sensitivity and quenches the Spirit’s power.
d. Right Motivation.
If we serve God for pride, gain, money, popularity, it stops his work in us. God uses people with the right heart. What is the right motive? Father, not my will, let yours be done. Let your name be glorified through all that I do.
6. How long does God want to use us? For the rest of your life.
God wants to motivate you now and use you for the rest of your life.
In Christ, the righteous man should bear fruit even in old age. Psalm 92:12-14 12The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; 13planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. 14They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.
When we retire from our occupation, we shouldn’t retire from serving God.
Throughout the Bible, God used people who were sinful and weak. He used some who had failed miserably and others whom society considered useless. He will use you, too, if you will simply be available and obedient to Him.
Jacob was a cheater. David had an affair. Noah got drunk. Paul was a murder. Jonah ran from God. Gideon was insecure. Thomas was a doubter. Sarah was impatient. Elijah was moody. Moses stuttered. Zacchaeus was short. Abraham was old and Lazarus was dead. God used all of them. No my question is what is your excuse? Why can’t God use you? Why cannot you accomplish your dreams that God placed in your heart? What makes you think that God cannot use you?