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God Can Use Anybody

Streams of Mercy  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:23
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Welcome to Streams of Mercy 2
Last WE we looked at What Mercy Is and learned that God shows us mercy when we’re
Ashamed - of the things we have done wrong
Angry - over things we don’t have
Afraid of things that might happen in our future.
Today - God Can Use Anybody … because of His Mercy.
Greatest Joy In Life - is to be used by God for a greater purpose than yourself

The Greatest Joy in Life is to be Used by God for Something Bigger than Yourself

Nothing compares with this feeling… You go… this is it… it’s why God placed me here.

You Were Made to Live for God

If you live for yourself, you’re going to live a frustrated / unfulfilled / bored life because you are not a big enough cause to live for. We have to live for something bigger than ourselves.
Your life is more significant that your career / getting an education / working etc. You were made for more than that.... eternal purposes.

You Were Shaped to Serve God

Today… as we continue, I want us to look at the idea that God can use anybody… even me… you. Because of His Mercy.
Romans 6:13 The Living Bible
Do not let any part of your bodies become tools of wickedness, to be used for sinning; but give yourselves completely to God—every part of you—for you are back from death and you want to be tools in the hands of God, to be used for his good purposes.
Problem - Most people secretly fear that God could not possibly use them.
They are stuck in the past from past mistakes.
They are afraid they are disqualified … or are not qualified.
All we have to do is look at the life of the Apostle Paul to defeat these myths.

No One has Ever been Used more by God Than Paul

He personally … almost single handedly spread Christianity all over the Roman empire… before and after his conversion.
He planted churches everywhere and wrote half of the NT.
He was amazing … hard to argue for anyone else to top what he did.
Paul had a past that was not so good. He persecuted Christians / had them thrown in prison / killed.
In 2 CO 5, paul gives 5 secrets to being used by God.

Paul Gives 5 Secrets to Remaining Usable

If you want God to bless you… God’s power in your life… your life to stand for something bigger than yourself - you need to understand these 5 secrets.

1. NEVER FORGET IT’S ALL BECAUSE OF GOD’S MERCY

Mercy - Undeserved forgiveness and unearned Kindness.
When ever anyone gives you a break or shows kindness, it’s mercy. You did not deserve it, but you got it.
2 Corinthians 4:1 The Living Bible
It is God himself, in his mercy, who has given us this wonderful work of telling his Good News to others, and so we never give up.
God has given us the wonderful work of telling others about his Son.
This work or ministry means that anytime you use your talents for the Lord, you are doing ministry. It’s not just something you do in church, it’s something you do in your every day life.

Every Person is a Minister

Each of us are shaped to serve the Lord...
Accountant - you help people with your accounting - that’s your ministry.
AC - you help people with AC, that’s your ministry.
Attorney -
Teacher -
Anything you use your talents / gifts / abilities that God has given you to help other people… that’s your ministry. Your job can be your ministry if you are doing it because you love God.
In his mercy he has given us this work to do… created to make contributions … to something bigger than ourselves.
God out of his mercy, shaped us to do the work he has for us.

Grace is the Fact that God Knows… and still uses us.

There are a couple of benefits to understanding that God shows us mercy every second and that he loves you unconditionally. Even when we blow it, he shows us mercy.

The First Benefit of Grace is that I Don’t have to Prove My Worth

This will relieve the root of workaholism. People work too much to prove their worth and value. Your worth has nothing to do with your work. Worth has everything to do with the fact that God made you and sent Jesus to die for you.
Your value had nothing to do with your valuables… your stuff.
Understanding mercy takes you off the performance track. You don’t have to prove that you are valuable or worthy. God loves you unconditionally! If someone else doesn’t like you, it doesn’t matter because you KNOW God loves you / likes you no matter what.

The Second Benefit of Grace is that I Don’t have to Wallow in my Failures.

Listen, WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES / SIN. We make bad decisions.
You don’t have to wallow in it. You repent and don’t dwell on it because God’s not dwelling on it. Because of God’s mercy, you don’t have to be stuck in your past.
You may feel… you don’t know what all I’ve done. You’re right - I don’t. But it doesn’t matter.
Paul was brutally honest about this. Before he was a preacher, he was a terrorist. He persecuted and killed Christians.
1 Timothy 1:12–13 NCV
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who gave me strength, because he trusted me and gave me this work of serving him. In the past I spoke against Christ and persecuted him and did all kinds of things to hurt him. But God showed me mercy, because I did not know what I was doing. I did not believe.
Paul was a terrorist - wanted all Christians dead, but God was using him. He saw serving Christ as a gift.
Your past doesn’t preclude your future. It’s the past and it’s over. God says, because of my mercy, I will still use you.
Galatians 1:13–15 NLT
You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors. But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him
another way to say mercy...
Paul said God decided to use him before he was even born… not because of anything Paul had done, but because of God’s mercy. Even though God knew all the sin Paul would commit, he still chose him.
The same is true of you and I. God has called all of us to serve him. We were created to make a contribution with our lives. Even though God knows all of the stupid sins we will commit, he shows his mercy to us.
God has Never Used a Perfect Person because There Aren’t Any
The only perfect person was Jesus. Here are some people God used in spite of their weaknesses.
Abraham - he was 100 when God began to use him. You may think you wasted a lot of time, but not as much as ABE.
Jacob - was a chronic liar… ran away from every difficult situation, but God used him.
Leah - unattractive… ugly. God used her.
Joseph was abused.
Gideon - Poor, weak and afraid
Samson - reckless codependent
Rahab - prostitute, but she is listed in Heb 11 and is in Jesus lineage.
Jonah - fearful and reluctant to obey God.
Elijah - suicidal
Naomi - elderly widow but used by God.
Jeremiah - chronic depression
David - adultery & murder… a man after God’s heart
John the Baptist - eccentric
Peter - Impulsive and anger management problems.
Martha Worried a lot
Samaritan woman - failed in marriages but evangelized a town.
Thomas - doubts
Timothy - timid
Paul - murder...
What’s your excuse? Write this down

Every Saint Has a Past and Every Sinner Has a Future!

You look at some people here… he’s a good guy… he has a past… she has a past.
You look at someone else … they’ve messed up…doesn’t matter… mercy of God.
Ephesians 2:10 The Living Bible
It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.
God made us to serve Him and he has work that He wants us to do… that he has planned for us to do.
Paul’s Second Secret is

2 BE REAL

We must be authentic… real. You have got to follow Christ with the unique SHAPE that he has given you. You will look different that me.
God did not create you to be someone else. We are all originals. He will never ask, why weren’t you more like… Moses… Paul, etc.
God doesn’t want you to try to be like someone else… too many people feel like… if I could just be like (so and so)… That’s not what God wants.

God Doesn’t Use Fakes, Phonies or Pretenders

God wants you to be the unique person he created you to be… not someone else.
You don’t need to wear a mask. We wear mask so people will accept us. Stop trying to be someone you aren’t. Stop living for the approval of others.
If you keep trying to be someone you are not, you will
always be under stress
fear being exposed.
End up manipulating people.
2 Corinthians 4:2 NCV
But we have turned away from secret and shameful ways. We use no trickery, and we do not change the teaching of God. We teach the truth plainly, showing everyone who we are. Then they can know in their hearts what kind of people we are in God’s sight.
Paul is saying, I have nothing to hide… it’s not even my job to convince you but to present the Good News about Jesus… you either reject Him or you accept him. Paul - what you see is what you get.
You don’t have to be perfect to be used by God - - - Just authentic.
You are looking at a flawed person. That’s good because you may be thinking that if God can use him, he can use me… you are right.
Do you know what perhaps the #1 barrier that keeps us from being used? FEAR

Fear is the #1 Barrier that Prevents us from being Used By God.

Fear keeps us from trying. It keeps us fro being honest and transparent… If you really knew me, you would… So we put on masks of confidence, etc. to hide the fact that we are afraid.
The antidote for fear is to receive God’s mercy and realize that God loves you unconditionally.
Romans 8:15 NCV
The Spirit we received does not make us slaves again to fear; it makes us children of God. With that Spirit we cry out, “Father.”
Paul says here that we can live under the bondage of fear or as a free child of God under the mercy of God. You get to make the decision. You can remain stuck or you can be transparent and let the Lord help you live as his child because of his mercy.
When you understand you are a CHILD OF GOD you don’t have to fake it anymore… you can be real.
The Third Secret Paul shows us is

3. REMEMBER, IT’S NOT ABOUT ME

EVERY TIME you forget that, you will either get bitter from problems or prideful from blessings in your life. When you forget that it’s not about you, you take everything personal.
2 Corinthians 4:5 NLT
You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.
It’s not about you… counter cultural to our culture because our culture is all about us and what WE want… opposite of the world… what we’ve been taught.
It’s about Jesus. Paul uses Jesus 2x in this passage. We need to constantly remind ourselves of this… it’s not about us, it’s about him.
Perseverance or lasting in following Jesus is about motivation. They why is important… more important than the what. You might do everything right with the wrong motives, but that doesn’t interest God. You might mess up, but your motives were right… God says that’s ok.

Why We Do What We Do is Important.

When people first become a Christian, they are on fire and they are following Christ for the right reason… out of gratitude to the Lord. Sometimes, not all, people’s motivation will change… they like the attention or the feeling of being important. That’s the wrong motivation.
I have even seen this in pastors… you go into ministry but then you become a celebrity.
Paul says the motivation is for Jesus Sake
2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
Paul says we are like frail and breakable jars of clay, but God puts his power in us. The power comes from God, not us.

God Often Puts His Greatest Gifts In the Weakest People! That Way His Power Shines Through

Except for Jesus, God has always used flawed people. None of us like to admit our weaknesses, but we all have them and God will use us in spite of our weaknesses.
Humility is not denying our strengths… it’s recognizing both.
The Fourth Secret Paul gives us is,

4. WE NEED TO USE OUR PAIN TO HELP OTHERS

This is a big secret of being used by God… being willing to allow our pain to help others.
Paul went through a lot of pain in his life.
2 Corinthians 11:23–28 NLT
Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.
You think you have it hard?
Paul was used in an enormous way because he had enormous pain and he used it for good and for God.
If you were to ask Paul why did you do it?
travel all those places?
put up with jail, beatings, stonings and shipwrecks?
go without food and sleep and comfort and safety?
never give up
He would say - for Jesus sake.
His Response
2 Corinthians 4:8–9 CEV
We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again.
You will go through pain in your life… you may as well us it. Use it to help others.
2 Corinthians 4:15 The Living Bible
These sufferings of ours are for your benefit. And the more of you who are won to Christ, the more there are to thank him for his great kindness, and the more the Lord is glorified.
Three kinds of suffering
The kind of suffering we bring on ourselves....
The kind of suffering that is innocent… you get hurt by others through no fault of your own.
Redemptive Suffering - where you endure pain in order to help others. Jesus is the picture of redemptive pain when he was on the cross.
God can use all three for Good. It doesn’t matter what we go through… loss… disease… relationships… god can use all of these situations to help others.
Paul said he kept going so that it would help others. Why do we keep doing what we are doing

God had Never Made a Person He Doesn’t Love and want in Heaven

2 Corinthians 4:16–17 NLT
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
Listen, our physical lives decay with time. reading glasses… elastic waistbands… aches and pains… You can’t stop the aging process. People try, but it doesn’t work.
Paul says even through our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. Moses in his old age was full of strength… Caleb also.
You can’t keep your body from aging, but you can keep your spirit from aging. Paul renewed himself daily.
It doesn’t matter how much you have messed up in the past, God’s Mercy will make a way.
maybe talk about chichi or gerado or someone in prison serving God
The thing that will help us continue on is

5. STAY FOCUSED ON ETERNITY

Paul’s secret was that he was focused on eternity and not on what was happening to him at the time.
2 Corinthians 4:17 CEV
These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing.
Little Troubles… shipwreck / stoned and left for dead / prison / beaten 5 times - he called these small problems.

When you understand that this life is short compared to eternity, you can put up with a lot more that before.

2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
Listen, there are only 3 motivations in life.
Internal - could be good or bad. want to be happy… to be comfortable… to have money… to be popular...
External - being afraid of being fired… carrot and stick.
Internal Motivation - life is a test for eternity. You look past your problems to the reward.
Hebrews 12:1–2 NLT
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

A Key to Staying Focused on Jesus is Connect Groups

You need a support system in your life.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Matthew 18:20 NLT
For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
Close with a couple of Questions
What is holding you captive?
Do you want the rest of your life to be for yourself, or do you want to be used by God?
Your future is determined by the decisions you make… now is a decision time.
Salvation Prayer
I want to fully understand your mercy. I wan to stop living for myself and start being used by you for your purposes.
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