God Can Use Any one or thing for His Glory

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Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Fill in the blanks.  How many times in your life do you say to yourself “God can’t use me because I’m not _____________ enough, I’m too _________________, I’ve done too many _______________”.?  Do you realize that God can use anyone for His glory? Remember Balaam?  God used Balaam, a pagan prophet who was hired by Balak, to share with Balak the blessings that He intended for Israel.

Today let’s talk about how we are called to BE the Church, not just GO to church.  We are called to engage in our faith and fill our role in the body of Christ.  Each of us is uniquely gifted, and each of us is vital to the life and function of the Church. Balaam had just seen God speak through his donkey.  Now, doesn’t that beat all? People, if God can use a donkey for His work, He can certainly use us!!   After hearing the donkey speak, God opened Balaam’s eyes (Nu 22:31) and effectively made Balaam understand that God and God alone would give him the words to speak to Balak.

This means that God wants to use each of us as His vessels to accomplish His purposes here on earth, in our Churches and in our workplace, in our schools, and in our world.  For some of us, this is a given, of course God wants to use us, that’s why we’re still here right? But for some, the thought of God wanting to use us sounds pretty crazy. Maybe that’s you right now. You’re sitting there reading this thinking “God really wants to use ME?

Doesn’t He know who I am? Doesn’t He know what I’ve done? I don’t have any special gifts or talents, I can’t speak well…” Yes, God wants to use YOU! In fact, if you feel that way, you are the prime candidate to be used by the Lord. You see, God is not in the habit of using exceptionally talented people, He wants to use the ordinary, the unexceptional, the weak, the useless, the boring, the fallen, the broken, and the meek.

God is in the business of showing His glory and His grace. He wants to use those that will give Him the glory for the work He does. What better candidates than those who seem to be insignificant?

Let’s take a quick look at 1 Corinthians 1:26-31.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (NKJV) For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Yes, you read that right, Paul just said “Look around at us, we’re a bunch of weak, foolish dummies.” God chose to use the weak and foolish things (you and me) to show how great HE is. It’s not about you, it’s about Him. So, can God you even you? Yes, absolutely, and that’s exactly what He wants to do.

“But I’m unqualified to serve God, I didn’t go to seminary, I don’t know the bible very well, I don’t know as much as I should.” That’s fine. God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. If you belong to Jesus, you are called, and He will give you the qualification you need to serve. He will equip you by His Spirit to fill your role in the body of Christ. You don’t have to go to seminary to be used by the Lord. In fact, I would go so far as to say that sometimes higher learning for Christians can hinder our effectiveness in spreading the gospel, because we humans naturally tend to lean on our own skills, knowledge and talent rather than the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

So be confident in your calling. The Lord wants to use YOU to proclaim His message of hope to a lost and hurting world. He wants to use YOU to help His body, the Church, function as it should. The less confident you are in yourself, the more room He has to work in you and through you.

The rich and famous are people, too, and they wonder about the meaning of life just like everyone else. Most celebrities possess everything that is traditionally thought to bring happiness — beauty, success, money, power — yet many find themselves asking, “Is this all?” Celebrities are infamous for gravitating towards some of the more “different” religious paths, yet many have also chosen various traditional organized. So be confident in God. He can and will use you to accomplish His purposes if you will let Him. No matter what you do  President, CEO, Nanny, Singer or Trash Collector give God the glory he deserve. We even seem some of the most acclaimed celebrities seemingly see the error of their secular ways and publicly turn to God for solace. Some transformations appear to be brought on by a genuine affinity for God, others look like praise given in exchange for publicity. But we know God will always get his Glory! Which made me think about:

Do you think a celebrity would make even better ministers?

Plenty of celebrities have made the jump into ministry by leveraging their name recognition. Whilst I agree that ministers need to be good all rounders, I disagree with the fact that qualifications are necessarily a requirement. I firmly believe that people should not be excluded from a position merely because of a lack of qualifications. Many famous and successful people have gained these “qualifications” via real life experience.

Not all celebrities are uneducated. When singing or performing on stage they do use their intelligence:Moves,lyrics and lines need to be practiced memorized over and over; it takes strength, tolerance and patience to keep doing takes to get the performance just right by the director, the idea that they look silly to entertain us; does not entail that they are not capable of making sensible decisions when it is required of them.

Jodi foster studied PreLaw at Harvard. Matt Damon and his friend Ben Affleck both dropped out of Harvard in their last year to pursue acting; there is no suggestion that they were incapable of getting just the few extra credits, they just prioritized acting. They chose to drop out and were not expelled. Where as Dr. Mason Durelle Betha, aka “Mase” (formerly Murda Mase), was a “Bad Boy” who turned into an songwriter, TV personality, inspirational speaker and Pastor who has started 10 churches in the name of God.

celebrities-as-everyday-people-planet-hiltron-15Overseer Deacon Dr. Kanye Omari West and Deaconess Kimberly Noel Kardashian-West of the  Keeping Up with the Fire Baptized Holiness Pentecostal Church for the College Dropout & Gold Digger “Jesus is the best God of all tyme” Ministry in Chicago, Illinois & Los Angeles, California

planet-hiltron-nicki-minaj-kac-072512Psalmist Onika Tanya Minaj is from Saint James Port of Spain in  Jamaica, Queens, New York City. Sister “Nicki” is a (7 times GMA Dove Awards & 6 times Stellar awarding winning Female Vocalist of the Year & Artist of the Year, and Song Of the Year)

celebrities-as-everyday-people-planet-hiltron-1Televangelist and Gospel recording artist Dr. Robyn Rihanna Fenty is the Minister of Music at the Barbados, Bad Girl Gone back to being Good for the Lord House of God Hebrew Pentecostal Inc.

celebrities-as-everyday-people-planet-hiltron-3Pastor Shawn Corey Carter and First Lady Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter of the  Jay-Hova Roc-A-Faith Un-Denominational Tabernacle in Brooklyn NY

Photo(s)/Resource(s): Demilked ~ htp://www.demilked.com/celebrities-make-under-danny-evans/ & JannaRust

The Person GOD Uses…

OrdinaryPeopleRecently I had an interesting and “cute” conversation with a young person that loves the Lord and is so on fire for God. He reached out to me and said, “I want the Lord to use me. How can I be used by the Lord at my age”. That young person unknowingly did what so many persons older than they do each and everyday. So many people think that there need to be certain “qualifications” before God will use you. There is no question that it should be one of the deepest desires of every believer to be a part of the pan of God. There ought to be something inside all of us to get off the bench and get in the game.
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One of the things you can learn from scripture is that every person God uses is not in some high position. God can also use people to further His plan as they go about their day, unaware of how God is even using them to further His plan in their lives and in the world. I am reminded of the wedding at Cana in the second chapter of the Gospel of John. Jesus had an array of persons to choose from to get done what needed to be done. He had His disciples who had been invite there with Him. There was Mary, His mother; there was the bride or the groom; there was even the Master of Ceremonies who makes the announcement at the end. Isn’t that how we think? The ones with titles should be or are the only ones that can be used by the Lord.

Jesus turned to ordinary people to carry out the extraordinary miracle

When the wine ran out, He could have instructed the disciples to go and fill up the water basins. Jesus did the unexpected. He called on the no name servants and used them to assist in the performance of the miracle. Let that settle on you and then let it encourage you. They had no pedigree. They weren’t connected. We aren’t even told their names. Jesus turned to ordinary people to carry out the extraordinary miracle. If you look at yourself as ordinary, then you are a prime candidate for miracle participation. God can use you to do something extraordinary. Too often we assume that people with status will be the Lord’s first choice. Can I tell you that when it comes to the Kingdom, having a title does not set you apart to be used by God? God is looking for a heart that is willing to serve and not a resume that proves previous service.

THANK GOD I’M ORDINARY!

*Photo(s)/Resource(s): BRMJ

Say What You Heard So You Can See What You Said!

No limits no boundaries I see increase all around me stretch forth break forth release me enlarge my territory(repeat) – Israel and New Breed – Alive in South Africa – Take the limits off

These are the words that have rung in my ears all morning. Usually when a asong is suck in my head, it drives me crazy. But this morning I release that now is the tyme to profess the promises for our life. It is the season to see far beyond what our natural eyes can see. Such a powerful statement but many do not know the meaning of this. We have to begin to acknowledge the good things that God as promised us. This is the season where promises have been given and can be fulfilled, but we have to begin speak our blessings into existence.

We have to know that God has given us the authority to be blessed according to His riches in glory. What has God told you?Has God promised you that you would have a better job? Has God promised you better health? Or even that your children’s children would be blessed? Well don’t be afraid say it!

Many tymes we are afraid to proclaim the promises of God due to lack of faith. We are afraid that if we say it that it will not come to pass. God is not a God that can or will lie. What is faith?Faith is not what God will do for us because we know He is faithful in all things, but faith is what we will do for God and knowing whatever choices that we make that we will be alright.

There is a key to activating your faith just saying you have it is not enough. It’s just like getting a new credit card in the mail but not being able to use it because you never activated it. In order to effectively activate your faith you must first be in the will of God.Pray and ask God what is His will for you in your life. Once you begin to pray for a sensitive ear to hear His word begin to speak those things into existence.

No limits no boundaries I see increase… I see increase… I see increase… What do you see I see increase… Take the limits off… Take the limits off… I want to be free! No limits no boundaries I see increase…all around me stretch forth break forth release me enlarge my territory(repeat) – Israel and New Breed – Alive in South Africa – Take the limits off

Are we both “Old” and “New” at the same tyme?

MiltonGlaser_Old-New_100It’s one of the perennial problems of the Christian life:

I’m supposed to be a new person, but I don’t really feel like it. My struggles are still there. I keep sinning even when I don’t want to—am I doing something wrong?

Our lives are constant blends of old with new. That’s almost one definition of ‘tyme’ — old days / new days. We all own some old things and some new things.  New things become old things. We can acquire some old things and thereby make them new things, for us. We moved from our old house to our new house, bringing some old things and buying some new things. The old year became the new year, looking quite the same, except our old view is now a new view. The old computer became a new computer, looking much like the old one, but behaving in a new way. I’ve finished some old projects and begun some new.
old-and-new-communicationOld and New are simultaneous. Where does one begin and the other end? This is a problem I’ve dealt with for pretty much my entire life as a Christian, and I don’t expect to stop having days when I go to bed thinking, “man, I really blew it today…” (Not that I want to do this, mind you; I just expect it.)

What’s the deal with this tension that we’re dealing with—one Paul arguably describes in Romans 7:19-20:

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

and again in Galatians 5:17:

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Some look at the struggle as being not unlike that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a view Anthony Hoekema describes when he writes:

At tymes the old self is in control, but at other tymes the new self is in the saddle; the struggle of life, according to this view is the struggle between these two aspects of the believer’s being. (Saved by Grace, 209)

While appealing, this “internal dualism”—where there are two persons at war with one another in the same person—doesn’t quite give us the best view of our ongoing struggle with sin.

Hoekema points out that Paul describes the “old self” as being definitively put to death on the cross—and in sanctification, we are progressively becoming more and more our “new selves.” Therefore, the believer who is easily discouraged by the continued persistence of sin (or the return of behaviors you thought you’d long since put to death), need not lose heart

A believer deeply conscious of his or her shortcomings does not need to say, Because I am still a sinner I cannot consider myself a new person. Rather, he or she should say, I am a new person, but I still have a lot of growing to do. (Saved by Grace, 213)

Do not  be discouraged, Christian. The old self has indeed been put to death. We may have a lot of growing to do, but the new has surely come. Rejoice and do not lose heart.

*Photo(s)/Resources:  Aron Armstrong

Why Sunday Sermons Are Necessary But Not Sufficient

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The statement is not: why the Word of God is necessary but not sufficient nor why Jesus Christ is necessary but not sufficient? That would be heretical and not in-line with the biblical text.  The Bible is clear; Jesus and the Bible are sufficient in themselves. Jesus is the sufficient Savior. And the Bible is the sufficient revelation for knowledge of God’s saving plan for humanity and spiritual truth for living.

The statement is: why Sunday sermons are necessary but not sufficient. This still might sound heretical or hazardously mischievous to some. It is not that Sunday sermons are not valuable or important. The preaching of the Word of God is extremely important. Jesus preached, His followers preached, and you are called to preach the gospel too. God places a priority on preaching in His church. However, Sunday sermons standing alone are not sufficient for spiritual growth in the church.

Why are Sunday sermons necessary?

Preaching as one of the ways in which we hear the Word of God rather than the supreme way in which the congregation is led, guided and grows to maturity in Christ. So why is preaching so important? In a day of sound bites, interactive learning and in the midst of a highly visual culture are we simply trying to hide our heads in the sand?

Preaching first of all is a unifying activity where the whole Christian body, preacher as well as hearers, come together to hear what the Lord is saying. That is why preaching must be expository, unfolding and applying the text rather than using it as a trampoline to give a boost to our own speculations. This kind of preaching encourages people to read the Bible for themselves. It is effective not when people are entranced by the ingenuity of the speaker but when they say, ‘That’s clear now. Why didn’t I see it before?’ As more and more of the Bible is expounded people grow not just in knowledge but in grace, because it is the Spirit himself who takes the words on the page, and, by the preacher’s faithful although imperfect words, leads us to the Lord Jesus Christ the living Word.

God commands the Word to be preached. How will anyone hear the Word of God unless it is preached? [Romans 10:14-16] Second, the faith of God’s people comes in conjunction with the preaching of His Word. [Romans 10:17] Third, hearing the Word encourages doing the Word [James 1:19-25]. An hour-long Sunday sermon that does not affect the other 167 hours in your week is wasted stewardship of the Word.

Why are Sunday sermons are not sufficient?

First, hearing the Word does not mean there is an application or reproduction of the Word [cf. Matthew 23:3]. Second, preaching the Word must be followed up with intensive and active discipleship. Third, the role of the sermon giver is also trainer and discipler, which involve more than preaching, but exemplifying the message and mentoring the hearers to live the message too. A pastor who simply preaches or teacher who just teaches is missing a key component with their message: multiplication of messengers and ultimately Christ worshipers [note: 3 types of pastors and churches].

Pastor as Clergyman Pastor as CEO Pastor as Trainer
Pastor is… Preacher and service-provider Preacher and manager Preacher and trainer
Sunday is… Service of worship Attractional meeting Gathering of worshiping disciples with their Lord
Outside of Sunday… Occasional services Range of events and programs Disciples reaching out to make disciples
Pastoral care through… Counseling and visitation Small groups People ministering to people
Church is like… A small corner store with one employee A department store with numerous staff A team with an active captain-coach
Tends to result in… Consumers in maintenance mode Consumers in growth mode Disciples in mission mode

How can you maximize the Sunday sermons Monday through Saturday?

First, seek to apply the big idea of the sermon to your marriage, parenting, work, school or daily living. Prayerfully, practically and purposely apply the sermon. Second, gather together with your churches small group to discuss the sermon and minister to one another by applying the Sunday sermon [cf. Acts 2:42-47].  Stir up and serve one another through the preached Word. Third, share what you learn from the sermon with someone who does not go to your church. When it comes to Sunday sermons: Listen up. Soak it up. Live it up. Step it up. Love the Word. Speak the Word. Live the Word. Spread the Word.

Good preaching comes with authority. This does not lie in the preacher and his personality, eloquence, mastery of ancient languages or his pulpit presence. Of course God can and does use these and other gifts but if that is all the preacher has to offer it is a performance which may instruct, move the emotions, even entertain, but it will not bring life from the dead or cause any growth in grace. That authority comes from the Spirit of God and the conviction that, in the words of Timothy Dudley-Smith, ‘God in his wisdom for our learning gave his inspired and holy Word’.

That conviction, far from leading to laziness in the preacher, will make him study consistently all his ministry as he seeks to unfold the unsearchable riches of Christ. In his wisdom God has ordained that the folly of what is preached [1 Cor 1:15] means that it is not only pulpit preaching Paul has in mind, but all the ways in which the Gospel is presented. But I do not doubt for a moment that Paul deliberately uses the term ‘preached’ with its connotations of authority, and not ‘shared’, ‘debated’, ‘discussed’ or the like. The note of authority in preaching is a continual reminder that all Gospel work is about enthroning Christ in the human heart.

None of this means that the Word of God is collapsed into the words of men, rather, that as when an ordinary sinful man breaks the Word of Life into digestible pieces that word, like the communion bread, mediates the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why preaching is never simply ‘explaining the passage’ but proclaiming Christ. A key passage is Acts 10:44 — ‘While Peter was still speaking these words the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.’ The word of God is not collapsed into the human words, yet it was in the hearing of these words that the Holy Spirit worked powerfully to bring Christ to people.

Such a vision of the life-changing power of preaching is an exciting prospect which we badly need to recover in our own day. Sadly, much of contemporary evangelicalism has lost its nerve and has lost this single-minded commitment to this ministry. It is no accident, therefore, that there is so much confusion and a loss of the great realities of what used to be called ‘preaching the eternities’. In my view this is responsible for the lamentable failure to make a vigorous stand for the Gospel in the present debates on sexuality and the lack of confidence in the Gospel which lies behind it. Without true biblical preaching a church will not long remain evangelical.
‘How shall they hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?’ says Paul [Romans 10:14, 15]. This is the crying need of today. It affects all of us.
*Photo(s)/Resource(s): Timothy Dudley-Smith & htp:/spreadingthefame.com

I choose to release everything that has tried to hold me back.

Moses said to   Pharaoh, ‘I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you   and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the   frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.’ ‘Tomorrow,’ Pharaoh said.”
(Exodus 8:9–10, NIV)

No more sckacklesWhen the people of Israel   were in slavery to Pharaoh, God sent different plagues to try to convince him   to let them go. One of the plagues was a plague of frogs! The people were so   miserable that Pharaoh finally said, “Moses, we’ve learned our lesson. The Israelites   may go. Please ask your God to take away these frogs.” Moses said, “I’ll do   it, Pharaoh. When do you want it to happen?” You would think Pharaoh would   say, “Right now!” But no, Pharaoh said, “Take them away tomorrow.” He was   saying, “We can put up with these frogs just one more night.”

How many times do we do the   same thing? “I’m going to forgive, but I’m going to do it tomorrow. I’m   going to have a better attitude. I’m going to quit worrying…tomorrow.”   We’re saying like Pharaoh, “I can put up with this addiction, this mediocrity   one more day.” No, our attitude should be, “I’m not going to spend one more   night with the frogs, putting up with things that are not God’s best.”

Why don’t you start today?   Today, make the change. Today, choose to forgive. Today, stop worrying.   Today, get in shape. Today, take a step of faith. Shake off passivity and   procrastination and get rid of anything that would hold you back!

#a

*Photo(s)/Resource(s): #J&VOsteen, & #Kennardrenovations

Out of your comfort zone

God wants to work through us, but often our comfort zones can get in the way. We refuse to do stuff we don’t have confidence in our ability to do well. We don’t like to do things that are strange, hard, or seem crazy. But, as the oh so true cliché goes, if you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat, just like Peter did.

Over the summer I was a counsellor at a Christian camp, which threw up lots of God-given opportunities to step out of my comfort zone. One powerfully stands out as an example of God powerfully working through what happened when I stepped out of my comfort personal comfort zone.

(NB – one important thing to note about stepping out of your comfort zone is you should never step out and do something you are uncomfortable with because you feel it to be sinful, only step out to do things you know God would want you to do but which you aren’t too fussed on, scared of even.)

So I’m very much a quiet prayer kind of guy. I don’t really like praying out loud, even when I’m praying alone. Which is totally fine, God hears all prayers whether expressed with many words or internally thought. (And if we look at the example Jesus gives in the Lord’s Prayer, short is good! Martin Luther even once said “The fewer the words, the better the prayer”… )

But when someone asks you to pray with them and you just stand their silently then I always imagine they are left wondering if you are actually praying for them or just thinking about your weekend. Plus when you ask someone to pray for you, usually you want to hear the words they are praying as often I’ve found God speaks through their prayer to give you encouragement or reassurance.

So because I’m not all that confident at praying with people in a one-on-one context I don’t usually do that. But one night at camp they had played a Louie Giglio DVD (How Great is our God – watch it! Really amazing talk.) And it had a pretty powerful impact on the young people watching, and then there was an impromptu prayer time as a response after it, and the campers were forming little groups of their friends to get together and pray. And I was standing with one of the female counsellors (Heather), just talking about the video and how class it was to see everyone praying, when a female camper came up and asked if we would pray with her. (NB – practicality tip: don’t pray alone with younger members of the opposite sex. Having someone of their sex there too is ideal. When it’s someone your own age of the opposite sex it would still be ideal in most situations to have a third person, but there’s been times I’ve been praying with a girl of my age where having an extra person would have been akin to third-wheeling if you know what I mean…)

So knowing I’d have to pray out loud I was already uncomfortable, then the camper opened up with some personal concerns so I was feeling totally out of my depth, like how on earth do I even begin to pray for this in a way that will help her and won’t be patronisingly wishy-washy ‘there’ll be a light at the end of the tunnel’ optimism that helps no-one? And then Heather whispered that I’d better start as she didn’t know where to. (In rugby they call that a hospital pass.)

And here’s the thing – if you feel totally out of your depth, if you just take a step out of your comfort zone God is faithful. He won’t let you sink. Through the power of the Holy Spirit He will help you. So I began to pray despite my fears. And it probably wasn’t the best prayer in the world. (In fact I can be pretty darn sure it wasn’t!) But even by the time we had finished praying it was clear something had changed. And several months on I can happily confirm there has been a great turn around in that girl’s life. Not because of anything I did, but because of how God used me once I took that step of faith out of my comfort zone.

God rewards our faith and uses us powerfully when we step out of our comfort zones – are you willing to take that step?

*Photo(s)/Resource(s): PeteMcM