Today’s Scripture:  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Introduction:

The new creation.  Thank God that we become new creations.  It’s a struggle to put off the old creation…is it not?  Yet, the truth is we’re new creations in Christ not because we always feel like it…but because God’s Word says that’s what we become when we are in Christ.

There’s a point to be made here.  It doesn’t matter what or how we feel…when we are in Christ…we’re whatever Christ is.  When the Bible says that we’re the “righteousness of God in Christ Jesus”…that means whether we feel righteous or not…we are…because the Word of God says that we are.  When the Bible says that we have the “love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost”…we may not feel like we have God’s love on the inside of it…but we don’t go by our feelings…we don’t go by what we see in the mirror…no…we go by what the Word of God says…and by faith…we take a hold of it.

I’m excited to get into this message.  I feel like there’s a lot that the Holy Spirit is going to have to say to us through it.

Oh…Holy Spirit…please take control of my fingers…and help me to write what You would have to say to us this day through this message.  I don’t want to write anything that’s not inspired by You…and I ask that You’d make my fingers that as a pen of a ready writer…writing only what You would have to say.  I ask for the utterance and unction that comes only from the Holy Ghost…and I ask that the readers would have open minds and hearts to hear what You would have to say to us through this message.  In Jesus’ name I pray…that You would take me out of the way…and speak to us…Amen & Amen

Today’s Message:

If anyone should have been disqualified from ministry, it was Peter. Paul did some pretty awful things to the name of Christ as well, but Peter? He walked with Christ and ate with Christ and followed Christ and left his family for Christ. He told his Lord that he’d be with him till the end. And he was pretty good right up until the end shortly after seizing the ear from a guard showing his undying loyalty to the King of Kings. That is, until he was asked if he knew this Jesus character. And to that he replied, “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” Not once. Not twice. But three times. The second crow of the rooster was heard and Peter broke down and wept.

I think this is one of those messages where I’m going to bare a little more of my soul and heart to you.  The very reason it took me eleven years to respond to the call of God on my life is because I felt unqualified to do what it is I’m doing today.  I couldn’t stop looking at the old me…the old creation…and as long as I kept looking back at those things…it kept me from feeling qualified…but as I just stated…I’m not qualified to be the pastor of Christlike Ministries NWA because I feel like it…I’m qualified because God doesn’t call the qualified…He qualifies the called.

I think that some of you may be on the fence like I was, and maybe this is the message you need to get off the fence.  You see, there’s a reason Jesus said that we can’t put our hands to the plow and look back…because when we do that…we cannot see us the way God does.  When we look back…we see ourselves the way we were…and frankly the way the devil wants us to see ourselves.

The devil doesn’t want us to know that we’re new creations…so any time he can get our focus on who we were and where we came from…then he knows we’ll find ourselves under condemnation…and once he has us there…he can leave us alone because as long as we’re in a place where we cannot believe we’re new creations…we won’t step into the call of God…and we’re no threat to him.

However…one of the things that helped me was the statement I just wrote a minute ago.  God doesn’t call the qualified…He qualifies the called.  That lead me to understand that I’m qualified to do what He called me to do…not because I feel qualified…but because the blood of Jesus qualifies me.  I’m qualified and chosen because HE chose me…and because of that it doesn’t matter how I feel…that was part of the changes that took place when He made me a new creation…at the moment I was recreated into the new creation in Christ…was the moment that He qualified me…and unfortunately it took me eleven years to understand that…and embrace the calling of God upon my life.

You know…one of the many times I read Peter’s encounter with Jesus at the end of the Gospel of John I knew the Lord was speaking directly to me, and that was the first moment I realized that I wasn’t called to just be a believer, but that He had sheep for me to feed.  I’m sorry to keep saying this…but that was 11 years ago.

Here’s the Holy Ghost…there are some of you who have been walking with God for many, many years like I have with the knowledge that you are called to ministry.  You, like me, have looked at yourself as the old man and the old creation…and what the Holy Ghost is saying to you is it’s time to stop going by what you feel…and go by what the Word of God says you are.  There are also some of you who have been walking with the Lord for many, many years knowing you’re called into ministry…and you wonder when it is that you’ll grow up and be mature to step into your calling…and the Lord is saying to you that when you come to a place where you understand that you’re qualified to serve God not because you feel like you are…but because He says you are…once you gain that understanding…you’ll be mature enough to embrace and step into the calling on your life.

Oh…how I wish I would’ve known this very thing long ago, but God has a reason and purpose for everything.  He knew that it would take 11 years for Him to get me to where I am today, and don’t you know that His timing is always perfect.  Today…in the midst of the Social Media…here I am using the gift He placed within me to do exactly what He’s called me to do…and when I learned about 6 years or so ago that I’d put my writing ability to work for the kingdom of God…here I am using it to bring light into places like Facebook, Twitter, and so on.

Can I be honest with you?  There are still days and times when I allow my feelings to rob me, and get me to take steps back.  However, the Lord doesn’t allow me to stay there very long before He takes me on a journey from where He brought me to where I am today…and then I realize that I’d gotten myself caught in the devil’s trap of looking back with my hand to the plow again.

If that scenario had happened today in our Christian circles, we’d have scorned him. We’d have said he was “no longer fit for ministry”. We’d have said that he’ll never be able to be a witness for Christ again. Thank God Peter was not living today or we might not be in relationship with the One, True God.

Don’t you know that I receive criticism today because I’m not legally licensed or ordained as a pastor?  I’ve never been to Bible school or even taken any correspondence courses, and since the devil can’t use my past to get to me…he was using those things to get me down.  However there’s a message preached by Pastor Curtis Holt of New Life Christian Center that changed that thought process.

I know that message was for the entire congregation, but in truth I felt like it was a message from God directly to me because I used to think of being a “amateur” as someone who wasn’t qualified to preach or teach…but what Pastor Curtis preached that day helped me to understand that God’s not all about titles…He’s about people (like me) who have a passion for Him…and a desire to do His work.

Well.  I was going to try to add the message Pastor Curtis preached to this message, but I can’t.  However, what I can try to do is give you the link to the message and urge you to take a moment to give it a listen because if you have any of the thought like I did about being disqualified to serve God because you don’t have the right Bible college diploma or a “title”…this will help to shut the devil’s mouth…and that’s exactly what this message did for me.

So you can find the message here: Pastor Curtis’ Message:  The Harvest Part 3 – Amateurs

Peter could have forsaken all that he knew and experienced with Jesus. He could have lowered his head and ran away to some secluded desert to spend the rest of his days. Instead, he chose to deal with his failure, shake the dust off his very worn sandals and press on to share the amazing love of the Son of God to the world. For this, I am so grateful.

Here’s some more honesty.  Part of the reason it took me 11 years to respond to the call of God on my life was that I did what Peter didn’t do with his calling.  I believe that we respond to the call of God in two ways…we either embrace it or we run from it.

For about 10 years I ran from it because I couldn’t stop seeing myself through the world’s eyes…and what was worse is I couldn’t stop seeing myself through the eye’s of the old creation that had passed away.  A lot of things changed in a moment’s notice on that day in November of 2010…and from then on there hasn’t been any looking back…and from that day forward I began to see myself through God’s eyes…and not my own.

It still took Him until January of this year to get me to a place where I was ready to fully embrace and begin to walk out what He’d called me to do.  I can also tell you that instead of regretting where I came from…now I regret that it took me so long to get to where I am now…because doing this has been nothing short of amazing.

The growth in my life that’s come from stepping out is amazing. The fact that God’s drawing people to this ministry is such an encouragement to me, and all this is because I began to believe in the person that God sees instead of the person I see.

Let me also add that my wife was instrumental in this process, and helped get me beyond looking at myself through the eyes of the old man that was supposed to be dead in Christ…can I tell you that by looking back you never really put the old creation to death?  It’s only when we look by faith towards the future, and upon the Cross…and begin to receive the Word of God that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, and that we’re no longer the person we were before we became new creations in Christ.

It goes back to feeling versus faith.  Believe me…friends…if I went by what I feel God would still be waiting for me to embrace what He’s called, chosen, and qualified me to do.  However, what I know now is that there is truth in that what God’s called us to He’s also qualified us for.

Have you screwed up so badly that many are telling you you’ll never be a witness for Christ? Have you shamed your family with failure upon failure only to hear that you’ll fail again? Have you hidden in a corner hoping that no one will remember what you’ve done?

The honest answer is yes.  I have screwed up in live so badly that people still cannot reconcile who I am today because of Jesus, and who I was before Jesus.  However, the truth is that none of us are worthy of anything short of death, but that’s the beauty of what Jesus did when He purchased our salvation, our sanctification, our righteousness, and all that comes with what He did on the Cross.  He gave up everything He had so that I could have a right relationship with God, and then He worked patiently upon me (and enlisted the help of my wife) to get me to a place where not only did I receive what Jesus did…but I began to understand who I was as a result of what Jesus did.

Listen…Christlike Ministries NWA is not about me…it’s all about Jesus, and it’s also all about the Word of God.  I know that within me is no good thing to boast of except for the fact that I have the Holy Ghost living on the inside of me.  I am doing this not so that I can receive the glory, but so that I can equip you to better know who you are…and that you can have an intimate relationship with God too.

Well, my friend, I have good news. For, you see, His mercies, they are new every morning. While there will still be consequences to the sin you once allowed to entangle you, it does not have to keep you strangled from here on out. Repent of your sin. Receive the forgiveness offered to you. And proclaim God’s faithfulness for the rest of your days.

I keep coming back to:  God doesn’t call the qualified…He qualifies the called.  I have a sense that some of you reading this message need to get that deep in your hearts…and meditate upon that for a while.  In fact, some of you need to meditate upon that until you believe it, and it takes root in your hearts because you have been like me…running from the call of God on your life because you can’t see yourself through His eyes.

Let me tell you from one person who has experienced that to another who may be experiencing that now.  You are qualified…not because you feel qualified…but because God says you’re qualified.  I know that you know what God’s called you to do…and that you’re running from it based upon how you see yourself…and this message is a reminder to you…and to me…that God doesn’t see you for who you were…He sees Jesus when He looks at you…and therefore whatever Jesus has…you have.

Let me close with this quote that was used by Cindy in her message by Beth Moore:

“Few unmistakable evidences glorify Him more than powerfully restored lives that humbly and authentically proclaim His faithfulness to the death.” – Beth Moore, The Beloved Disciple

I am now one of those who strives to live a humble and authentic life…and proclaim the faithfulness of God until Jesus comes back or until He takes me home.  I’ve tasted of the goodness, grace, and mercy of God…and my life is living proof of what God can do with a life that’s surrendered to Him…and I know that I’m not perfect.  I know that I stumble, I fail, and I still miss God on a regular basis…but I also know that none of that disqualifies me from serving Him…none of that disqualifies me from His grace…and therefore it gives me the ability to know that no matter what I may think or feel…it’s not about that it all…it’s about what He has said in His Word.

My life has been restored…and I owe it all to Him.  That is why I do what I do for the Lord today through Christlike Ministries NWA…and for those of you who have come along side of me…I just want to say that you mean more to me than you could ever know…and you encourage me beyond what you could ever know.

Points for Pondering:

  • Do you find yourself walking in shame over your past decisions?
  • What is it that takes you back and makes you feel that shame?

Be A Doer Not Just A Reader:

  • Spend some time asking God to renew you from the inside out.
  • Commit 2 Corinthians 5:17 to memory and speak it aloud the next time you experience shame over your past.
  • For those of you who feel disqualified for ministry because you’re an “amateur”…I would like to urge you to give this message a listen…I know that I’m going to:  Pastor Curtis’ Message: The Harvest Part 3 – Amateurs

Conclusion & Prayer:

I hope this message has been helpful to you…and I pray that the Holy Spirit sink this message deep in your heart…and that it will bear MUCH fruit…In Jesus name…Amen.