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You Can’t

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As Christians, we buy into many lies about ourselves. The lie that I worry about most is the one that comes from the Great Accuser (Rev. 12:10). It’s a lie that often keeps us from hearing God’s call to a specific task or mission. Even when we do manage to hear it, sometimes the lie creates so much self-doubt that we try running away from it. In my opinion, it’s the greatest hindrance to followers of Christ actively ministering as his agents in our everyday lives. It comes in the form of two simple words – “You can’t.”
You can’t because you’ve failed.
So many of us carry around baggage from our past. You may have made a mistake earlier in life that haunts you to this day. You know you’ve been saved by God’s grace but you feel sidelined and worthless. There might have been a day when you once dreamed of doing something great for Christ but this shame looms over you like a cloud, serving as a constant reminder of where you’ve been… and where you’ll never go. At the end, you believe you’re damaged goods. Saved? Yes. Worthy? No.

You can’t because you aren’t very good at it.
One of the reasons I can’t watch American Idol (and there are many…) is the stream of delusional dreamers who stand in front of the judges with unwavering confidence and shriek at the top of their lungs. Animals outside are moaning but they are convinced they are the next big deal. Do you feel like one of those contestants when God calls you to do something? The task feels too big, too complicated, or too difficult to be done by someone like you.

You can’t because you have too much to lose.
Maybe you feel called to minister in a specific area of life but the cost is too high. You could lose your job. Giving away that money might put you at too high of a financial risk. Your reputation is on the line. Would God really call you to something if it meant stepping so far outside your safety net?

If those two words, “you can’t” keep ringing in your ears, shaking your confidence, I have some encouragement for you. You’re right. You really can’t. In the end, those two words are a dangerous half-truth.

He can

You can’t but he can overcome your sin and restore you for a greater purpose. Many people limit the Gospel’s impact on their lives so much that it only informs where they will be when they die. But the Gospel is about more than eternal security. Christ did not die and save you from your sins only to leave you in a place of shame. Paul writes that he “has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light (Col. 1:12).” In other words, he made you worthy to become a part of his Kingdom and share in his work in this world. He wants you on the field and in the game, not wallowing on the sidelines under a cloud of guilt. Remember, he is the God who chose a murderer to lead his people out of captivity, a shepherd to be king, and a dirt-poor teenage girl to bring his son into the world. Do you honestly believe your sin is too big for him to overcome?

You can’t but he can work through your weaknesses. In fact, we serve a God who revels in calling out the weak, uneducated, damaged, and overlooked. In II Corinthians 12, Paul writes of a thorn in his flesh that was an object of torture to him. After begging Christ to remove it, his reply was shocking. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (II Cor. 12:9).” In other words, Jesus was using Paul’s weaknesses to advance his own glory and Kingdom. Could your lack of skills or abilities actually be the catalyst to bringing Christ greater glory as you pursue his plans for your life?

You can’t but he can break you free from your fears and reservations. He is a God who gives and takes away, who breaks us from our idols while blessing us beyond our wildest dreams. God takes those idols from our lives and uses them for his own glory. All he asks of us is complete surrender. Jesus tells his audience at the Sermon on the Mount, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you (Matt. 6:33).” As we make his plans our top priority, he provides for our needs.

Just don’t forget.

Don’t forget that just as you couldn’t save yourself from your sins, you can’t grow as a Christian by your own efforts. In the end, you and I aren’t worthy of being used by God and we can’t make ourselves worthy. But Christ delights in using our failures, weaknesses, and fears for his glory. Our job is to give them up. We do this through confessing those sins and leaving them behind. We do it by asking him to make his grace perfect in our weaknesses. Finally, we do it by taking the first steps towards obeying his call on our lives, trusting him to provide along the way.

Discuss: What is the thing that often keeps you from experiencing God’s calling on your life?

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