Credentials; November 25, 2018

1 Timothy 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

Here we have one of the keys to Paul’s ministry. He could never forget that he had violently opposed all who followed Christ, and was forever amazed that God in His grace had chosen to use him in His service. Far too many church leaders feel they have somehow earned their positions, whereas Paul, in contrast went on at some length to explain how all of his “qualifications” were worthless before God. (Philippians 3:4-14) Paul could never have written half of the New Testament had he not realized he was a “Class A Sinner” in the “war crimes trial” of those who had opposed God. What we need to realize is that his circle of friends before he went to Damascus considered him very admirable, a rising star in the Jewish sect of the Pharisees. Probably no one but God (and those fully in tune with Him) would have considered him a “sinner” at that time. Part of God’s grace to him was in showing him just how bad he really had been. There are many comparable stories today of drug addicts and criminals of all sorts who turn to God, and sometimes that creates the impression that we can’t be mightily used by God unless we have a terrible past. That’s a lie from the devil! The thing is, every human being on the face of the planet has rebelled against God, disobeying their own conscience at the very least. (Romans 3:23) And any sin disqualifies us from communion with an absolutely holy and righteous God. (James 2:10-11) We have a deep-seated desire to take credit for what we have or whatever good we have done, but God in His grace revealed to Paul how foolish that is.

My own “Damascus Road Experience” was in a church in Denver, Colorado, when the Lord tapped me on the shoulder and then showed me my soul in a mirror, figuratively speaking. It was only a glimpse, but it was enough to drive me to my knees quite literally, crying out, “My Lord and my God!” Like Paul, I have human “credentials,” growing up as a son of missionaries and a grandson of a pastor and a seminary professor. I too had to learn that those were worthless if I claimed them as “mine.” They had and have value only as they are submitted to God in recognition that they are no more than indicators of God’s grace to me. It is a problem when people look at my pedigree and think they can never be like me because their background is different. The thing is, God wants people with their background in His kingdom as well! I cannot draw anyone closer to Christ by talking down to them; I have to come alongside them and walk with them. That’s why it’s so important that I’m getting teaching/training in coaching, because that’s what I need to do. I’m not to be uptight about it, however, because if God could save and use me, he can save and use anybody!

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You also for the good response we’ve been getting to the idea of the Thanksgiving dinner tonight. I leave the total number in Your hands. May we be neither disappointed nor overwhelmed! May Your Word go forth in clarity and power, both in the service this morning and at the dinner tonight. We anticipate quite a few people who are not yet believers being here. May this be a powerful witness to draw them to You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

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