Tag Archives: used by God

April 5; The Past Is The Past

Judges 10-13

Today we read about two men who became leaders of Israel. Jephthah, described as a mighty warrior, led the people in some decisive victories in a civil war against their warring family. Samson, a man with super-natural physical strength, led Israel against the Philistines. They were both great leaders, albeit flawed individuals.

I am struck by their very different beginnings. Jephthah was the son of a man named Gilead and an unnamed prostitute. His brothers, as soon as they were old enough, drove Jephthah out of their lives. No son of a prostitute was going to get any of their inheritance! But Jephthah used his gifts and abilities, and eventually rose to a position of power in Gilead.

Samson, on the other hand, was born to a married, God-fearing couple whose goal was to raise their son exactly according to God’s plan. It would not have been easy to raise a Nazarite, even back then. But these godly parents were determined to do just that. We’ll read that Samson grew up to be a great leader in Israel.

Sometimes we might be tempted to use our own beginnings as a weight to hold us down. Maybe we weren’t born into a middle class Christian family. Maybe our parents never married, never went to church. Maybe we weren’t able to afford college. So we let our past dictate our present.

In contrast, maybe we were born with that proverbial silver spoon in our mouths, went to the best schools, wore the best clothes, drove the coolest cars. Maybe our parents made sure we were in church every time the doors were open, and we can quote Scripture like a Baptist preacher.

Does one past guarantee success in God’s kingdom while the other guarantees failure? Is how we were raised an indication of our ability to serve God? The answer, of course, is NO!

Your past is past. It’s your choices today that render you useful or useless in God’s plan. A privileged child needs to come to God in exactly the same way as a child who grows up on the streets.

Neither Jephthah nor Samson allowed their past to be a “thing.” Both men followed God and chose obedience.

Here’s something else God has laid on my heart. Sometimes we let our own past sins hold us back from serving God. We tell ourselves we have no room to talk about sin, being the filthy sinner we were. We tell ourselves no one would take us seriously, considering the bad choices we’ve made in our past. I think God would remind us that when He forgives sins, He buries them, washes them away, never to remember them ever again. The past, under the blood of Jesus, is the past.

You can’t control or change your past. But God has given you today – this minute – to choose Him.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13b-14)

Choose God today. Then see what He can do with a yielded heart. I know that God can use even the likes of you and me.

Genesis 11 – God’s Choice

Abram might not have been my first choice to start an entire nation of people who would be known as “the children of God.” He came from a long line of idol worshippers, he was an older gentleman married to a wife who couldn’t even have kids. But he obeyed God, and I am blessed today because he did.

God doesn’t always nudge the obvious choices into service. We look at the outward appearance. God looks at the heart. His ways are not our ways. His choices are not always what we would choose.

Don’t ever think you are too insignificant, or too uneducated, or too shy or untalented for God to do something amazing in and through you. Obey Him. Follow His lead. Get out of His way and watch what He can do with the abilities He’s given you.

November 16 – Transformers

Acts 1-3

Is anyone else blown away by the change in Peter? He was an uneducated fisherman who had become a disciple of Jesus. He was a bit impulsive. What did he do when Jesus asked him to pray for Him? Peter fell asleep. More than once. And when things got sketchy, our hero denied even knowing Jesus… three times. That after swearing to Jesus he’d be faithful.

Uneducated. Impulsive. Weak. That’s the Peter we know and love.

So what happened? If you read these first chapters in Acts you’ll see a confident, articulate, controlled leader. The first sermon he ever preached saw 3,000 converts. That sermon, and his second recorded in chapter 3, are still speaking to hearts thousands of years later.

And, dear one, these things happened only weeks after Jesus’ death on the cross. Peter hadn’t gone to seminary, or watched You Tube videos on public speaking techniques. The change in Peter happened after the Holy Spirit filled him.

You and I have the same Holy Spirit in us, once we repent of sins and accept Jesus’ gift of forgiveness. That same Spirit that transformed Peter has the power to transform us, too.

If you have kids, you know what Transformers are. They are toys that can morph from one form to another. The child is in control. He manipulates a few parts, and you have a powerful robot to fight their battles. It’s a completely different toy. The transformed toy doesn’t look like the original toy at all.I thought of that when I read about Peter.

Because Peter was transformed when the Holy Spirit took control. And the transformation is astounding.

Do you have the attitude that God can’t use you? You’re too shy. Or uneducated. You don’t know what to say. Your past is too ugly. You can’t sing, and you would probably die before you had to stand in front of a Sunday School class full of eight-year-olds. That’s the old you.

If you know the Savior, the Holy Spirit is living within you. And if you adopt the attitude of, “I can’t” you are telling the Spirit that HE can’t. Do you really want to go there?

I believe God wants us to be His Transformers. He wants to change us, to use us, to morph us into vessels through which He can reach the world. He transformed Peter in a dramatic way.

And He’s transforming lives still today. Has He transformed you?

April 14 – God Uses Sinners

I Samuel 21-24

David was described as “a man after God’s own heart.” But David sinned. And some of his sins were doozies. Here in these chapters of I Samuel we see David lie to a priest of the Lord. Ahimelech the priest gave David food and Goliath’s sword because David told him the king had sent him. In fact, King Saul had not sent David.

David got what he had come for. But it cost Ahimelech his life, and the lives of his family. David would have to live with the fact that his lie brought about those deaths.

Yet this liar is described as a man after God’s own heart.

My pastor talked to us last night at prayer meeting about Zaccheus (Luke 19). Zaccheus was a hated tax collector, getting rich by extorting money from the people. His neighbors described him as a sinner. But Zaccheus was radically changed when he met Jesus.

Think of the cruel and murderous Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus. And think about how he was used by God after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus.

What I notice about these three men is that they didn’t let their past sins stop them from serving God. Read David’s psalms and hear him repent of his sins, and put his trust in the Lord. The Bible is full of examples of how God used David to bless the nation of Israel, and yes, even examples of what a man after God’s own heart looks like. See how, when God called Zaccheus and Saul by name, their encounter with the Savior effected the rest of their lives.

God didn’t say, “Clean up your act, then come back to me.” Instead God says, “Come as you are.”

Hear God call you by name, then respond to Him with a repentant heart. No sin is too great for Him to forgive. No life too shattered for Him to transform. And no sinner is too far gone to be used by God, once that sinner has met the Savior.

I prayed for you today.