I applaud Lily House girls for making the decision to change their lives and become women who make a positive impact on the world. Church, each of you can also make a difference in our desperately needy world. One of my favourite stories is this one, because it shows us we can make a difference.
Most of us want to do something significant in life. Most of us want to make a difference and make the world a better place because we have passed through.
Not many of us aspire to be axe murderers, drug addicts, homeless, poor or on benefits. We start with great dreams, but most of us discover that life is harder than expected. It is more disappointing and more miserable than what we dreamed of.
And the task! Look at the world, it’s a mess. Injustice, poverty, sickness, the word is often harsh and unfair. The task might seem overwhelming, our abilities few, our opportunities limited, and our stamina depleted. However, God sees things differently. He sees potential in you that others cannot. Here’s an example…
THE PERSON GOD USES
Judges 6:11-16 (ESV)
Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valour.” And Gideon said to him, “Please, my Lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
One man, one scared, overwhelmed man struggling with little faith, and yet God chose him to rescue His people. God has a habit of doing this…
Noah was a drunk, and Abraham was too old. Isaac was a daydreamer. Jacob was a liar. Leah was ugly. Moses was a murderer, with a stutter, and Gideon was afraid. Rahab was a prostitute. David was an adulterer and a murderer. Elijah was suicidal, and Jonah ran away from God, Peter denied Jesus. The Samaritan woman was divorced five times and living in sin. Zacchaeus was too small, Paul was too religious, Timothy had an ulcer, and Lazarus was dead!
1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (ESV)
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
If you think you are God’s gift to everyone, chances are God won’t use you for anything. But if you feel inadequate, untrained, underprepared, or overlooked, you could be just the person God us looking for to make a difference!
GOD HAS X-RAY VISION
God doesn’t just see the outside like we do, the history, the failures, the hangups. He has divine X-Ray vision to see through what others see.
1 Samuel 16:6-7 (ESV)
When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him.” But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
How does God’s X-Ray vision work?
1. GOD SEES YOUR PAST
God sees your past, your upbringing, your history, and everything you’ve said and done wrong. He also sees every injustice ever done to you, or by you. He knows it all, and yet can see through it.
Gideon had a past. He considered himself the least of his father’s house, which was the least clan in the tribe of Manasseh. But God chose him, and he became one of Israel’s greatest warriors and deliverers.
For some of you here, it’s time to make the past past at last.
Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV)
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Who is ready for God to do a new thing this morning? Most of our society is looking for someone to blame for their failures. Their upbringing, their parents, friends, some guy who left me, or some girl who hurt me. Many people blame God, as we mentioned a few weeks ago.
Proverbs 19:3 (ESV)
When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.
You can’t drive a car by only looking in the rear-view mirror. It’s time to make like Elsa in Frozen and let it go. Even better, confess it, give it to God and let it go.
1 John 1:9 (ESV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If you want to be used by God, give Him your past, and trust Him for your future.
2. GOD SEES YOUR POTENTIAL
God’s X-Ray vision looks deep into your soul and sees your potential. He has plans for you.
Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
This verse was given to the people of Israel when they were defeated, exiled and despised. But God saw through their situation to their significance.
When the angel appeared to a terrified Gideon, he didn’t say to him, get up you coward. This might have been a true reflection of where Gideon was at, but he said,
Judges 6:12 (ESV)
“The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valour.”
God saw the potential in this man’s life, and He sees it in you too. Every one of you has potential to serve the Lord somewhere, somehow, but sadly many will never discover their potential.
But this very day, God stands waiting for you to turn to Him.
3. GOD SEES THROUGH OBSTACLES
We see so many obstacles to us becoming great, and so does God, but He sees them differently. He is the Lord of all, so no obstacle is beyond His control. We see giants. He sees giant opportunities for us. We see rocks and stones; he sees stepping stones to greatness.
We all face obstacles in life, but if we align how we see with how God sees, we realise
1 John 5:4 (ESV)
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
God saw no obstacles in Gideon defeating the Midianites. Even with Gideon’s doubts, laying out fleeces, God persisted with Gideon. He even whittled his forces from 32,000 down to 10,000, then down to 300. Gideon defeated a mighty army with just 300 men.
4. GOD SEES THE FUTURE
Gideon had doubts and fears, his faith struggled, his stamina was weak, but God saw a glorious future for him. He does for you too. God works all things for good,
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
So, if you want to be someone great, trust God and let Him orchestrate everything in your favour. If we walk with Him, He not only blesses us, but prepares awesome, impactive things for us to do.
SO, WITH ALL THIS POTENTIAL, WHY GOD DOESN’T USE US?
What makes the difference? In the end, it all comes down to choice…our choice. We can ask forgiveness and get right with God or not…our choice. We can seek Him with all our hearts, or selfishly live our lives…our choice. You can follow in faith, or pull back in fear…our choice. The biggest thing standing between you and the greatness God has for you is…you. Destiny isn’t something that randomly happens to you. No, decisions determine destiny.
Every decision has consequences. Bad decisions take you off God’s perfect path for you and into the wilderness and the mess of this world. Rather than playing the blame game, or instead of trying to be a better person, perhaps it’s time we took our eyes off the circumstances and place them into Jesus!
Our society is so self-absorbed, this is the generation of the selfie! iPhone, iPad, I-matter-most. Never have so many photos been taken of so many doing so little. We are a self righteous, self absorbed, self promoting, selfish generation, aptly described 2000 years ago by Paul
2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV)
In the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Why doesn’t God use us? Is it because we lack talent, or motivation or money, or good looks? No, it’s because we lack obedience. We’d rather spend time with Facebook or the TV than with God. We’d rather be popular than righteous and holy, and we’d rather follow our own desires in life instead of God’s will.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
When we value our own opinion over God’s wisdom, He will not use us the way He wants too. Obedience is the key. We cannot compromise God’s principles and expect Him to bless us. We must trust Him in word and deed.
IT’S TIME TO STEP INTO YOUR DESTINY AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE
I believe that this is a pivotal moment in time when God is calling us to stand up and be counted. We face unprecedented situations, fear like we have never seen before. Moral compromise on a scale that puts Sodom and Gomorra to shame. People more desperate than ever before, and hence more open to God than any time in our lifetime.
What an incredible moment in history.
Esther 4:14 (ESV)
And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
God has a destiny for you, but where do you start? It starts with a “YES”.
IT STARTS WITH “YES”
JFK famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Maybe it’s time we changed the Christian consumer narrative and say, “Ask not what God’s Kingdom can do for you, but what you can do for God’s Kingdom.”
We can, but it starts with a yes.
Optus may not be very good at retaining your data. But they have a great ad slogan. Any change starts with a yes. If you want your life to amount to something significant, it starts with a yes. If you want to serve Jesus, and do things that will last into eternity then it starts with a yes, Lord. Moses said it this way,
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (ESV)
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days,
To make a difference in this life, you don’t need more money, more fame or more drugs. You don’t need more knowledge, more things or moronic behaviour. What you need is more God. You don’t need a positive mindset; you need a Christ focussed mindset. And it starts with YES!
TWO STEPS TO YOUR DESTINY
Here’s two simple steps to reaching for greatness, for your God given destiny. Just two steps…
- Say yes to Jesus
- Stay obedient to Jesus
1. SAY YES TO JESUS
The first step in finding your destiny is asking Jesus into your life as Lord and Saviour. To say yes to Jesus. You will never know true fulfilment in your life until you let Him in, and allow His forgiveness to transform your life.
Matthew 11:28 (ESV)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
He loves you so much that he has a plan and destiny for your life no matter what you’ve done or been through in the past. The old can be gone starting right now, and the new, an incredible, amazing future can open in front of you. If you have never asked Him into your life, don’t carry the burden of your sin any longer.
Pray this prayer with me…
2. STAY OBEDIENT TO JESUS
Obedience is not just a word, it’s a way to live. And if you say yes to being obedient to God, I promise you He will open opportunities to greatness you never believed existed.
In the next year opportunities will arise in Lily House, at church services, on the streets, in schools and with initiatives for the homeless. You can serve the Lord in hundreds of ways around here, however, I encourage you to start with a yes.
Can you make a difference, a difference in eternity? I believe you can if you are serious about obedience to the Lord. In this church, we do we choose to do this together, we share the journey together, and I believe that we are stronger together.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
PICK UP A STARFISH
Right now, we have a unique opportunity in history, and I believe that it’s time for us to each pick up a starfish and start throwing. Australia needs to see the goodness of God, and hear the gospel of Jesus, and I believe this is our moment. I want to challenge you to join us to make a difference. Gideon stepped up when God asked him to. Isaiah answered God’s call
Isaiah 6:8 (ESV)
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
Whoever you are, whatever your talents, whatever your background, you can make a difference if you say yes. If you feel weak, overlooked, useless or flat, then you are in a perfect position for the Lord to raise you up and use you in profound, eternal ways.
Saying yes to the Lord means being obedient, following Him, and letting Him show you how to make a difference. It’s not your ability, it’s your availability. Who wants to say yes to the Lord right now? You might think you can’t make a difference, but God says you can if you seek Him.
QUESTIONS ON MAKING A DIFFERENCE
DO YOU FEEL UNWORTHY OR UNPREPARED FOR GOD TO USE YOU?
WHAT PRICE ARE YOU WILLING TO PAY TO BE USED BY GOD TO TOUCH THOSE AROUND YOU FOR HIM?
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP OF OBEDIENCE FOR YOU TOWARDS GREATNESS?