I was listening to Tullian Tchividjian speak about the disciples that Jesus chose. He mentioned that Jesus didn’t choose religious or wealthy men. He chose men who had nothing to bring to the table. He also said that God doesn’t need perfect vessels to carry out His will, He needs broken ones. There’s a lot in just those few statements that speaks to me. I think that the 12 men whom He chose to give His life changing message to says a lot about who God is and what He sees in people.
When Jesus chose the disciples, He pretty much walked up to them and said, “Come follow me.” They didn’t ask Him who He was. They didn’t say, “Let me finish doing this task.” They didn’t ask to go say goodbye to family and friends. They dropped what they were doing, left family and friends to follow Jesus. They were chosen because their attitudes were the type that was willing to do whatever God asked without worrying about everything else that typically stops us from doing His will.
These men were not perfect either. Peter had a big mouth. Thomas was a skeptic. Judas was self righteous. Matthew was a tax collector who had cheated people. The list goes on. God does not choose people to carry out His will based on what they offer. He chooses people based on their inabilities. If we could do everything He asked on our own, where would faith come in? If we were confident enough to say what He tells us to say, we would think we were doing it in our own strength. If we had the credentials and expertise, pride would swell up in us. Instead, He finds broken and chipped vessels to put together to do His will so He can get the glory.
Have you limited yourself in what you feel God has called you to do because you don’t have the skills or ability? Have you thought God wanted you to do something that was over your head but turned Him down because you couldn’t do that on your own? You don’t have to have a degree in Public Speaking to share what God has done for you. You don’t have to have a Masters in Anthropology to help the needy. You don’t have to have a Doctorate in Theology to discuss with others what you found in God’s Word. You simply have to be a vessel that’s been broken and ready to use by Him for His purpose and His glory. He will give you all you need to be successful in your calling.
Photo by Marta Esteban Fernando on Unsplash
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Do you ever feel like your faults, failures and past sins disqualify you from being used by God? Sometimes those voices that tell me those things get so overpowering that I start to believe it. My past comes back to remind me to stay grounded while God has called me to fly. They weigh me down like I’m attached to an anchor. They tell me, “Because you did this, God can never do that in your life.” It’s hard to hear anything else sometimes.
When those voices get too loud in my mind, there’s two verses I go back to. The first one is Psalm 65:3. It says, “Our faults defeat us, but you forgive them” (GNT). I use this verse to remind me that my past has been forgiven, and that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. The voices that tell me what God can’t do are not from God. When He forgives, He forgets. He uses those faults and failures as my qualifications to do what He called me to do.
The other verse I go to is Romans 11:29. It says, “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn” (NLT). No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, God still has a plan for your life. He still has a calling that only you can fulfill. He knew your future when He called you. He understood that you wouldn’t be able to live a perfect life so He built it into the plan for you. He doesn’t withdrawal His calling because of our past.
It’s easy to look at someone else and think, “They’re better qualified to do what I’m called to do,” but that’s not how God works. He created you with a purpose and a calling that only you can fulfill. It’s time to quit listening to the voices that tell us we can’t, and start listening to the only voice that matters. It’s not too late. You haven’t gone too far. God’s calling is still valid and you have work to do. Push out the voices that tell you why you can’t, and tell God, “Here am I. Use me.” God hasn’t withdrawn His calling or purpose for your life.
Photo by Francisco Gonzalez on Unsplash
I’m always intrigued by the story of Joseph found in Genesis 37-45. No matter how many times I read it, I come away with a new respect for him. God gave him a dream as a young man that one day his family would bow down to him, including his own parents. His brothers were so outraged that they wanted to kill him. His own father was so disrespected that he rebuked him. Even through that, he still believed in the dream that God had given him. That wouldn’t be the end of it though. For the next several years, he would face one trial after the other without wavering in his belief of that dream. Psalm 105:19 says, “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. (NLT)”
When God gives you a dream, hard times are sure to come. There will be people who will openly resist you in your efforts to bring about your calling. It will not be an easy road. In fact, fulfilling your calling will be one of the hardest things you do. God does not choose the weak to carry out his plans. He calls the faithful ones who will endure anything to see it come to pass. He gives His assignments to those who will survive the pits of despair that they will be thrown in. He gives them to those who are willing to leave family and friends to travel to distant lands that are engulfed in spiritual famines so that others may find the spiritual food that God gives.
Joseph wasn’t the only one this happened to. Think of Peter and the early Church. Jesus told Peter that He would build His Church through him. When Peter was emboldened by the Holy Spirit, he was beaten repeatedly and thrown in jail. He was opposed by people he knew. He didn’t quit because there were hard times. He let that fuel the fire that God had placed in him. He used those hard times to grow his faith and endurance. Because he didn’t quit, the early Church grew and Christianity spread like wildfire in that region. He trusted the calling he was given over his external circumstances.
Paul was another person who faced opposition. He went from being someone who killed Christians to one who was martyred for his faith. He was stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake and carried off to Rome because he would not keep quiet about the dream God gave him. Because he was willing to endure the hard times, God used him to write most of the New Testament. The Gospel didn’t just stay in one region, it began to cover the known world. His character was tested over and over and he proved to be the person God saw in him.
God tests those He trust His message to because He knows it develops character. Romans 5:3-4 says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. (NLT)” When God calls you, He tests you in order to develop in you the characteristics necessary to fulfill that calling. He allows you to be moved around in order to create the relationships you need in your life and to put you into position. Don’t quit because hard times come. Let them do the work God intends them to do and continue to walk in your calling.
I was recently speaking with a high school student about their college plans. They said they didn’t know what they were going to study yet because they were waiting to hear from God. I encouraged them to at least enroll in the basics and begin the process of college. I explained that with the Great Commission each one of us have already been called to go into all the world. It honestly didn’t matter what degree they chose because God would use them in whatever field they went into. Plus God requires that we take the first step of faith before He moves.
So many Christians sit around their whole lives and waste decades waiting to hear from God before they do anything for the Kingdom. The truth is that if you’re doing Kingdom work, God will bless it. He can’t give an increase unless you sow some seeds. In the parable of the sower, he was throwing seed everywhere hoping some would stick. The ones that fell in good soil produced a hundred times what was sown. Imagine if he had waited on God to tell him where to throw. Those seeds may have stayed in the bag forever.
Proverbs 16:3 says, “Ask the Lord to bless your plans, and you will be successful in carrying them out. (GNT)” You have to make plans before you can commit them to Him. You cannot sit and wait for God to give you plans. Make them, commit them to Him and then ask Him to bless them. This is another example in scripture where we act first and then God moves. We make the plans and then the Lord blessed them. We carry out the plans and He makes them successful. The verse clearly says, “You will be successful in carrying them out.”
We can spend a lifetime planning and waiting, but God is looking for those who will carry out their plans. So much potential goes unrealized because we are waiting on God when He is waiting on us. He already gave us the command to go. Why do we then sit and wait for Him to tell us exactly where? You can pretty much go anywhere, spread the seeds of the Gospel by doing whatever for the Kingdom and God will bless it. All the world includes your job, where you live and the people you interact with. It doesn’t have to be to so where on the continent of Africa.
Not everyone is called to go to a foreign country, but all of us are called to go somewhere. Not all of us will be in full time ministry, but we are called to be ministers wherever we go. Not all of us can preach, but all of us can say something about what God has done. Don’t let waiting on God become an excuse that keeps you from doing something for God. Don’t sit around wasting your life waiting to hear from God for exact directions. Abraham was told to go and then he would be told where. It’s the same for you and I. If you step out, God will provide the direction. He can’t guide and direct you if you’re not moving though.
When we do what God wants us to do and live how God wants us to live, there will be others who oppose us. They will do everything in their power to prevent your growth, your rebuilding or your ministry. When you get opposition, you know that you are where God wants you. The enemy doesn’t try to thwart the plans of people who aren’t making an impact for the Kingdom. They aren’t a threat to his control. The ones who are taking light into the dark places, the ones who build themselves and others up, the ones who are on the front lines of ministry are the ones who face opposition.
Nehemiah was trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. They were working hard when Tobiah found out about the work they were doing. The Bible says that he was displeased that someone was helping Israel. In Nehemiah 4, he began to mock those who were rebuilding the wall. He criticized their work and made fun of it. Verbal abuse is one of the greatest tactics of the enemy. He knows that if he can get in your head, he can slow you down or stop you from doing why’s God has called you to do. You can’t listen to the voice of the enemy that says you are going to fail. It will say that your work is worthless and meaningless. Nothing God calls you to do is meaningless.
The first thing Nehemiah did when Tobiah and his friends started mocking him was to pray. Prayer gets your mind back on God. Prayer causes God to move. It waters the seeds that you have sown and causes them to grow. It thwarts the plans of the enemy. It is powerful and needs to be your first response when the enemy comes in and starts playing mind games with you. Don’t get into a battle of words with him. Don’t get slowed down by arguing. Keep working on what God has called you to do and pray for God to help you.
When Tobiah learned that his mocking didn’t stop the work, he then threatened to harm the workers. Instead of panicking, they continued to work, but were prepared to fight. The had a sword in one hand and worked with the other. When that didn’t stop the work, Tobiah tried to trick Nehemiah into not working. He pretended to be his friend and ally. He made a false accusation to try to get Nehemiah to stop the work. In Nehemiah 6:9, Nehemiah said, “They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued with even greater determination.”
No matter who your Tobiah is or what tactics they are trying to use against you, don’t stop doing the work God has called you to. Don’t let their tactics get to you or keep you from doing what you are supposed to do. Do not be intimidated by others that the enemy would use to keep you from going where God has called you, from building what you know you are to build or from saying what God has placed on your heart. The enemy wants nothing more than for God’s people to be silenced and dormant. In the face of intimidation from the enemy, we should continue the work with greater determination. Pick up your sword and keep building, God is on your side.
I’m on a journey right now. I know my destination. I know what God has called me to do. I’ve known for a while now. After running from it for years, I decided to embrace it. I told God I was ready to step into my calling. All of a sudden things started happening quickly. Faster than I could keep up with. I began to make life changing plans to accommodate where I was going. Confirmations that I was on the right path were coming left and right. I knew I was on my way to my destiny. My calling was sure. My path was clear.
One night, my pastor pulled me aside to talk about it. He saw the changes happening and God spoke to him about it. Prophetically he told me, “Be patient on your journey.” Almost immediately the trail went cold. The path disappeared. The confirmations quit rolling in. I can still see where I’m going, but not the path. I still believe in what God has called me to do, but I can’t see how to get there from here. That was two years ago that he spoke those words to me. I’ve had two years of asking God, “Where did you go? Why did you quit leading me? Why is the path hidden? What’s my next step?”
I’ve traced the cold path back to that night. I’ve blamed the lack of progress on those words. I’ve looked for excuses and other paths that will lead me to where I’m going, but have had no luck. I’ve struggled with God as He’s had me at the point for a while. I’ve listened to His voice and waited for His direction, but I’m still sitting here. I’m still waiting. I’m still hoping. I’m still believing. Each day that I wait, the desire to do what He has called me to grows. Each day I become more restless and fed up with where I am. I’m a doer, not a sitter. I’m a go getter, not a watcher. That’s my personality. Sitting still is hard for me.
God used Mark Batterson’s words to help me in this limbo. One of the things he said is, “The longer you wait, the more you appreciate.” That hit my soul. He also said, “God wants you to get where you are going more than you want to get where you’re going.” Then He must really want it! Then he hit me between the eyes. He said, “God is more concerned with who you become in the journey than with getting you to the destination.” That changed my thoughts. If God is more concerned with who I become on this journey, so should I. This is the training ground before I step into my calling. He is molding me and shaping me into the person He needs me to be so I can completely fulfill His calling.
Then there were the words of reassurance to calm me down. He said, “God knows how to get you to become who He wants you to become in the process of the journey.” All of a sudden my pastor’s prophetic words made sense. Change takes time. It takes pressure. It takes faith to trust God and to keep going when you can’t see the path. It takes patience. I want things now. I want them to happen in my time. I want to be in control of how God moves my life. On the journey I’ve learned to trust His timing. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t take matters into my own hands and try to force the calling to come to a reality. I should be patient and be faithful in the process of becoming who He wants me to be on this journey.