(What an honor! This article is also featured as CBN’s Daily Devotion.)
“God can’t use me.”
Have you ever thought that? I confess that in my early Christian walk, I felt that way at times. But I have since learned that the statement is not only wrong, but even sinful. It is wrong because God is sovereign over all. He can use anything or anyone He chooses to accomplish His wonderful purposes. He can even do so without interfering with a person’s free will. God is that creative.
But the statement is also sinful for one simple reason. It elevates self over God. What I can do, what I can’t do. The moment we center our thoughts on our service to God, we move away from centering our thoughts (our worship) on God. On Who God is, on how much He loves us, and what He has done for us. The difference seems subtle, but nothing could be further from the truth.
God is Always at Work
But there is good news! There is hope for the heart that wrestles with the thought, “God can’t use me.” The moment you and I turn our eyes away from what we can or cannot do for God, and instead center our hearts on Who He is and His love for us, our relationship with God will blossom. God then slowly opens our eyes to how He is already at work around us. Then, when we are ready, He invites us to participate in His holy work.
God recently reminded me of this precious truth when I received a message from my friend, Shelley. (Name used with permission) Shelley explained that for the past two years, she has been speaking with three young ladies in Cairo, Egypt. Once each week, she meets with them on Skype in order to help them with conversational English. As their friendships blossomed, the women began to talk about their beliefs.
When Shelley began sharing what she is learning about Hagar and Ishmael from my Bible study, HAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me, the women asked Shelley to tell them more. They were eager to hear about Hagar’s story because, like themselves, Hagar was Egyptian! And, unlike the Quran which never mentions Hagar by name, the Bible has a LOT to say about this fascinating woman. And a LOT to teach us about God’s great love for her.
God’s Love is Available to All
As the women talked each week, God began to use that seemingly ordinary situation to open the door for the Gospel. Shelley was simply being faithful in the abilities God gave her. When the time was right, she began sharing her faith in Christ with her Egyptian friends. Praise the Lord! God’s love is available to all! This is the message the world is longing for.
The same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' (Romans 10:13) Click To Tweet
“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
But this statement is followed by a very critical truth:
[But] How can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe [if] they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:12-14 NIV)
As Christians, we can possess a sincere desire to show kindness, even making sacrifices to help another person, and these are surely wonderful. However, without the courage to share our faith, the true Source of our acts of kindness remains hidden. Acts of kindness alone can never point a person to Jesus Christ. The Gospel must be spoken. Otherwise, even if it is not our intent, we alone receive credit for our actions when God is the One Who deserves all the glory.
Whenever Jesus sent his disciples to heal and minister to the people, He always commanded them to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God wherever they went. Even Jesus, after healing many, was urged by the people to stay, but He did not, saying “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also; for I was sent for this purpose.” (Luke 4:43) See also Luke 9:26, 10:9; 2 Timothy 1:7-8.
Meeting the personal needs of people was always accompanied by proclaiming the gospel. The primary purpose of Jesus’s miracles was never solely to meet the outward needs of the people, though certainly Jesus loved them and showed compassion, but the primary purpose was to confirm His words of Who He claimed to be and His good news of the Kingdom of God.
So let us be like Shelley who, as she served in love, kept her eyes open for an opportunity to share her faith. When God opened the door, she courageously stepped forward. Please pray for God to open the hearts of Shelley’s three friends to His wonderful truths: just as God loved Hagar and Ishmael, God sees and loves every person He created. Please also pray for Shelley to continue to be a “light shining in the darkness” (2 Corinthians 4:6) as she ministers to her beloved Egyptian friends.
Father, may You grant us open hearts and open minds to see how You are at work in our lives and in those around us. Give us courage, oh Lord, to speak the truth in love. You alone know the hearts of every person You created for Your glory. Amen.
If you or someone you know has mixed feelings or animosity towards Arabs and/or Muslims, or struggles to understand the story of Hagar and Ishmael, I invite you to explore how God sees them through my 7-week Bible study, HAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me. It just may change your life!
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