There is much we could discuss in today's news. Hillary Clinton is being treated for pneumonia after her sudden exit from a 9/11 ceremony in New York City. North Korea's recent nuclear test is still making headlines. "Sully" was the winner at the North American box office over the weekend. The NFL's first full Sunday of action produced several surprises (Dallas Cowboys fans are still frustrated this morning by our loss, but that's another subject).
However, I'd like to focus for a moment on Savvy Shields, who was named Miss America 2017 last night. She is an art major at the University of Arkansas and won the talent competition with her jazz dance. And she is a Christian. She prayed for her fellow contestants before the competition and noted on her Instagram, "God is so much greater than we can imagine."
It is encouraging when people with beauty, talent, and charisma make their faith public. But here's the downside: we can mistakenly think we must be successful to be useful to God. Our challenges and failures can discourage us from serving Jesus.
So think with me about the great heroes of Scripture. Noah was used by God to save the human race, then he became drunk and embarrassed his family. Abraham lied about his wife and agreed to a sexual relationship with her servant. Moses was a murderer; David was an adulterer; Peter denied Jesus three times; Paul persecuted the church. The list goes on.
Why does God so often use flawed people for great purposes? Here's my explanation: the further we fall, the more we admit we need help to get back up. The greater our pain, the more readily we trust a Great Physician.
God can use anyone except the person who won't be used. He can lead anyone except the person who won't be led. It's not that God hates self-dependence more than other sins—it's that this sin keeps us from admitting that it's a sin and exempts us from repentance and redemption.
As you and I respond to a culture that is becoming more aggressively anti-Christian by the day, we must resist self-sufficiency, remembering that human words cannot change human hearts. But we must also resist discouragement rising from our flaws and failures. Satan loves to use guilt to handicap the guilty. He delights in tempting us, then condemning us when we sin.
So know that guilt is not of God. If you are dealing with guilt today, confess your sin specifically to God and claim his unconditional forgiveness and grace (1 John 1:9). The next time guilt attacks, say to it: "I have confessed that and been forgiven, and grace is greater than guilt." You may have to reject guilt 100 times today and ninety times tomorrow, but eventually grace will win. Jesus died for every sin you will ever commit. Claim his empowering grace right now.
Your Father promises, "I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish" (Jeremiah 31:25). Is your soul weary today?
Publication date: September 12, 2016
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