Excluding Ourselves; February 2, 2018

Isaiah 56:3 Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.”
And let not any eunuch complain,
“I am only a dry tree.”

Very often we exclude ourselves from God’s purposes, His blessings, when He intends to include us. It all comes back to our focusing on ourselves instead of on God. When our focus is on Him, literally nothing is impossible, but we can’t wrap our minds around that. We aren’t to dream things up on our own, either positively or negatively, but rather listen carefully to God. God is under no obligation to fulfill our pipe dreams! However, if God has said it, that settles it, whatever things look like to our natural mind. God has quite a track record of using “inappropriate” people to accomplish His purposes. Moses had no administrative skills, yet God used him to lead the whole nation of Israel out of Egypt. Saul was a violent enemy of the Church, but God used him to take the Gospel to Europe and to write half of the New Testament. Paul himself was very aware of this dynamic, speaking of it repeatedly in his letters. He reminded the Corinthian believers of it in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, and he told Timothy he himself was the chief among sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15) At the same time, he gave God the credit for all he accomplished. (Colossians 1:29) Whether the world would view us as qualified or not, we need to keep ourselves available for however God wants to use us.

As a pastor I run into this issue all the time. Japanese society frowns strongly on bragging, to the point that people often won’t take credit for things they have done. Of course the best response is to say “God did it,” but people don’t like to acknowledge that they were the instrument. In consequence, it can be very hard to get people to volunteer for anything. Japanese have a strong tendency to leave things to the “experts,” when often the “expert” just happens to have read the manual. I was greatly blessed to be raised by parents who never once told me something was too difficult for me, but encouraged me to try. As a result, I have a wide range of abilities that are intimidating to some. In the church, I’m often considered the “expert” who should be allowed to do everything! I can’t overcome that by my own wisdom and strength, but God can by His Spirit. I am never to give up, but trust that God can do whatever is necessary, and maybe even use me in the process.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me be effective in encouraging the believers to recognize what You have already placed in them and to trust You to use them, so that Your kingdom may come as Your will is done, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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