Discernment: The People God Uses

sadDo you feel you know who the “right” persons are to do Kingdom work? Do they have the right credentials, right training, know the right people, live in the right neighborhood, wear the right clothes, and are a part of “right crowd” of “leaders of tomorrow”? Where do these assumptions come from? Are you absolutely sure you know who will do God’s Kingdom work?

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. 1 Corinthians 1:27

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

Are you open to God? Are you open to God using circumstances and people who don’t fit the image you have imagined? What if God chose someone who did not fit “The Checklist”?

Many plans are in a man’s heart, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

Recently my dad shared with me an article bringing to light the issue of the people God uses. An inner city student with autism from a single parent home, did what many think is impossible. He became the salutatorian of his high school class, mastered four languages (fluent), and on track to study mechanical engineering at one of the nation’s best science based academic institutions. Man says that “inner city” kids are trouble, are all in gangs, and should be avoided. Man says that children with autism have no hope of academic success and should be prepared for a group home for the rest of their lives. Man says that children from single parent homes don’t even have a chance compared to dual parent home children. However, God in the power that only He can display declared that this inner city student with autism from a single parent home is exactly capable of all things according the Kingdom of God. This child is a walking miracle and a sign post to the Body and the world that we cannot assume we know who God will use for His purposes.

In Acts 5, there is a story of the apostles being placed in jail by the religious leaders and during the course of the night they were released by an angel of the Lord and charged to teach in the temple the next day about the Believer’s life. The following morning the religious leaders and guards checked the prison house and found all the locks secured as they were placed the night before. They were confused as to how the apostles got out and into to the temple where they were teaching. The leaders ordered that the apostles be brought back to them. Upon the apostles arrival, they were immediately chastised for having continued to disobey their human orders to not teach about the Believer’s life. Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus who you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given those who obey Him” (Acts 5:29-32).

Now rather than recognize God’s work in these individuals and surrender to God, the leaders turned to anger and planned to kill the apostles. One of the religious leaders, Gamaliel, could see God’s hand at work in these individuals and could see a disturbing pattern in those who worked against the apostles.

‘But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be over thrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”’ Acts 5:34-39.

In God’s perfect universe, there are no right credentials, right training, right neighborhood, right clothes, right family, or right crowd that can do His Kingdom work. Our God is the God of love and inclusion. He uses even the most tarnished or challenging individuals to do great work. In fact, God believes so much in this principle that more than one of Jesus’ descendents were considered tarnished or challenging by historical and modern day moral standards (Tamar, David, Rahab). Coincidence?

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Biblical Counsel: Help! My friends/family need advice. What should I say?

counselQuestion: How can I advise my family or friends in difficult circumstances?

Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy…But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 1 Corinthians 14:1,3

Do everything without grumbling or arguing. Philippians 2:14

We’ve all received the call from a friend or family member with the latest worrisome trial. We’ve all offered the “flesh” response of our personal opinion, sometimes leaving those seeking comfort more worried or fired up than comforted and at peace. Abba is calling the Believer to offer advice in a not so new but Scriptural way which is through His Word. The purpose of Biblical counsel or gift of prophecy as 1 Corinthians 14:3 defines it, is to strengthen, encourage, and comfort. Though it may be instinct to “Tell it like it is”, “Keep it real”, give “Mama’s advice”, or offer “I’m just sayin”, God is looking for a more controlled approach in advising others and that approach is His. Each call we receive from family and friends is an opportunity to strengthen, encourage, and comfort one another.

Now some of us don’t have God’s Word committed to memory by topic or season of life. That’s okay…that’s what Google and Biblehub are for! 🙂 Seriously, God needs us to be committed to Him and be obedient in giving His counsel to our individual circle of family and friends. His Word needs to be imprinted on our hearts and minds, so that we can effectively strengthen, encourage, and comfort those God has allowed us to influence. If your Word has collected some dust, take it off the shelf and commit yourself to reading it as regularly as you read FB or Twitter posts. Then when you receive that call during the worrisome trials, you can effectively strengthen, encourage, and comfort one another and ultimately point your loved ones towards Him the God of all comfort. Amen

Scriptures on Comfort:

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. Psalm 55:22

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3

I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip, he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you, the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:1-8

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