by Sarah Smith
Sunday Devotional Playlist:
This week’s playlist starts with some songs to sing along with, but then will move into some instrumental music as a backdrop to your devotional time.
Feel free to use the opening songs as moments to worship, or just have them as background music while you read. It’s up to you!
Hit play on the video above and it will run through the songs in the playlist.
YOU’RE NOT ENOUGH (EXCEPT THAT YOU ARE REALLY!)
Over the last few Sundays we have been reflecting on our core values as a church and asking ourselves honestly where we are up to in the journey of encountering God, being empowered as his children and engaging the city. Reflecting on these things reminds me again that the life and mission we are called to is huge. It’s beyond what any one of us can do and yet at the same time it is precisely what each and every one of us is called to do!
NO WAY – NOT ME
When we get even a glimpse of what God is calling us into it is so easy for us to feel totally inadequate and we are in very good company if we do! All the way through the bible we see regular people called into God’s extraordinary plan and often their first response is “no way, not me! Who am I? How on earth? God, you’ve got the wrong person!”
Take a look at these moments in the lives of some bible heroes to see what I mean:
- Gideon (Judges 6) “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest, I am the least”
- Moses (Exodus 3) “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?”
- King Saul (1 Samuel 9) “I’m from the tribe of Benjamin and my clan is the smallest – why do you say such things to me?”
- Mary (Luke 1) “How can that be?
For all of these people the impossibility and challenge of the situation and call was all too apparent. They each felt disqualified by their own glaring lack and inadequacy and yet….. God was unmoving in his call to them.
Somehow we have to find a way to acknowledge the reality of where we find ourselves, the limitations we have and yet move past them to still give our complete yes to what God is calling us into.
PAUL: A MODEL TO FOLLOW
As a brief aside I think it’s fascinating to consider the life and calling of Paul in all this. If anyone in the bible really should have been disqualified from being called and used by God then it was him. As he says of himself he was once a blasphemer, persecutor and a violent man; “I was the worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:13).
But then we read his conversion story in Acts 9. He goes from persecuting and murdering christians to a radical revelation of Jesus, is blinded for three days, healed and baptised, spends a few days with disciples and at once goes and starts preaching in synagogues!
In this upside down kingdom what Paul had done, even in his very recent past, didn’t disqualify him any more than who he was and his religious and social status qualified him (See Philippians 3.) He put no confidence in worldly status and achievement but equally didn’t allow his past failings to discount him from walking in everything that God had called him to.
So back to you and I – What do we with do with our lack and inadequacy, with our awareness that in ourselves we are not enough? Listen to what Paul has to say:
4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.2 Corinthians 3:4-6 (ESV)
Paul was fully aware he was not sufficient (other translations use adequate, qualified or competent) in and of himself. He knew, probably better than anyone, that his sufficiency was entirely and only from God. He knew he wasn’t enough but he also knew the stronger truth was that God had chosen and called him.
So often when we hear or gain sight again of the call we have, individually and together, we feel understandably pretty insufficient, incompetent and disqualified. If we look in human terms then each of us really are all of those things. Not one of us is actually adequate, worthy or qualified to be accepted as a child of god and given a share of the inheritance of Jesus but the truth of the gospel is that we all have been! He has made us sufficient, adequate and qualified as “ministers of a new covenant” just like Paul. We can now know the King and carry his kingdom everywhere we go and to everyone we meet and so we need to take hold of this truth.
In saying it’s ok to recognise our “not enough” – please remember that’s the reality without him. The other side of the truth is that with him and in Him we are competent and we can do all things. A demoralised, disempowered church consumed by how inadequate they are is of very little use to a world that is groaning to know God. The mind-blowing truth that Christ in us is the hope of glory is enough and needs to silence all my objections based on my flaws, failings and limitations.
LOAVES AND FISHES
I guess what I’m realising is this: I am neither competent, sufficient, able or qualified to receive what God is giving me or walk in what he is calling me to. On my very best day – I am not enough. But us not having enough, being enough, being competent or adequate is really not the issue. Jesus just asks us to give what we have and who we are, to say yes wholeheartedly and completely to what he is calling us to.
Think about the five loaves and two fish that the small boy had, it was undeniably nowhere near enough. But when it was given completely to Jesus it became not just sufficient but more than enough.
If we look in human terms at ourselves and what we have in our hands – it’s not enough and never will be but it will always become enough when we give it wholeheartedly and obediently to him .
You are not enough – except that you are really.
You don’t have enough – except that you really do.
- Which is the louder/stronger truth in your life – your inadequacy or Gods call?
- What is or has been your response to Gods call – are you like Paul, Saul, Mary, Gideon?
- Are there times you have let the inadequacy you see in your self or a situation mean you haven’t answered a call from God?
- Or do you maybe put too much confidence on your sufficiency/competency – what does Pauls’ reflection in Philippians 3 about his social and religious standing mean for you?
- What are the “loaves and fishes” in your hands that Jesus is asking you to give?
- Are there specific places of lack, feeling inadequate, disqualified that are holding you back? Who can you reach out to and share and pray through these things with?
Take time this week to meditate on Jesus’ words in John 15:1-8 and notice the twin truths that in him we will bear fruit but apart from him we can do nothing.
Spend time reading and praying Psalm 62 or 46 as places of confessing our dependence and trust in God.