DAILY DEVOTIONAL – June 12, 2019
Prayer: Our Covenant God, You are ever faithful. We praise You and thank You for the fulfillment of Your promises that we find in Your Son Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Scripture: Deuteronomy 7:7-9
“The Lord did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! 8 Rather, it was simply that the Lord loves you, and he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors. That is why the Lord rescued you with such a strong hand from your slavery and from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. 9 Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.”
Devotional – “Perfectly Unqualified”
If today you and I were to put a committee together for the purposes of hiring professional evangelists and missionaries that we were going to financially support and who would evangelize on behalf of St Mark Lutheran Church, what sort of qualifications would be on our list of requirements? Certainly, we would want to see the right theological education and training with all the right certifications and degrees. We would want to see successful previous accomplishments as a pastor and dynamic preacher. We would want a person who is inspirational and hardworking, and undoubtedly someone with no criminal history or a less than desirable reputation amongst references.
Listen again to the words of Moses spoken to God’s chosen people of Israel from our passage today in Deuteronomy 7, “The Lord did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations.” If you and I were choosing an army or a nation in hopes of conquering the world, we certainly would not pick the smallest group of people with exactly zero training. Yet, that is exactly what God did in choosing the Hebrew people, the nation of Israel, to be the ones through whom God would save the world by sending His promised Son and Savior Jesus Christ to conquer sin, death and the devil.
You know, throughout history, God has also had his own list of qualifications as He sought out the men and women that He would use to carry out His promised covenant and plan of salvation:
A pagan who was a moon worshiper.
A man who was known from birth as a liar and a deceiver.
A man who had a speech impediment and who was a murderer.
A popular prostitute.
A group of completely uneducated day laborers.
An IRS agent (or tax collector)
A woman who was divorced 5 times.
A poor widow who had no more than two pennies to her name.
A dead man.
And, in choosing the man He would use to bring the Good News of Jesus to the entire world outside of Jerusalem, God chose the most hated and despised murderer and persecutor of the Christian faith.
Would we go to the nearest strip clubs, street corners, gang hideouts, atheist conventions or prisons to recruit missionaries? Why has God made such a habit out of hand selecting the most unqualified people to carry out His work of salvation amongst us? Well, it’s because that is all He has to work with! There is no one qualified to work for God. There is no one and never has been or will be anyone worthy of being used by God for His incredible work of mercy and salvation. All of us need the same forgiveness as everyone else. That tattooed gang member with two felonies on his record, that family member who still struggles with substance abuse, that co-worker who is proud of his atheism and antagonism towards anyone of faith…they are all equally qualified in God’s eyes as any pastor or lifelong missionary…because all of us are equally qualified to receive the grace, mercy and forgiveness that God has made available through His Son Jesus.
The truth is my friends, if being qualified for God’s forgiveness or being qualified to be used by God was dependent upon the merit of our own qualifications…I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. God has a history of using the most unqualified people in order to bring glory to His Name and the Name of His Son Jesus. God has chosen the most broken and despised in order to work His salvation so that no one can look at the man or woman God has chosen and credit them or praise their name…and I know I am certainly qualified to join the march of the unqualified. How about you? Are you unqualified enough to be used by God? Of course you are. You like me are sinful in innumerable ways. But that is exactly who Christ came to save, and to bring to new life. As Jesus said in Matthew 9, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
I love what early church father St. Augustine said, “By exalting yourself you cannot reach up to God, but when you humble yourself, God reaches down to you.” And we humble ourselves when we confess what we already know to be the truth; we are sinners. The only thing we are qualified for based on our own merits, is God’s wrath and judgement. In the end, when this universe sees its final end and Christ returns, we will not be saved by our resume or any other person’s resume. We are only saved because Christ’s resume was perfectly flawless. He was the spotless Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world by dying on the cross and taking our sin upon Himself.
We are only disqualified and unworthy of salvation if we reject Christ, His merit and that salvation He won by rising from the grave.
If you are feeling a bit unqualified today…you have reason to celebrate and have hope! For neither salvation nor the life of blessing and purpose that God wants to graciously give us is dependent on our accomplishments or successes. The words that the apostle Paul spoke to the church in Corinth most certainly are still applicable to every church and person today. “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”
So, if your faith and hope is in Jesus, then I guess all that’s left to say is, “you’re hired!” Welcome to the most magnificently unqualified team ever assembled! We as Christians are not the most righteous or capable people by any means. More importantly, we are a team of the redeemed and forgiven through God’s love and mercy in Jesus. He is faithful and has promised to work His power even through our weakness for His name’s sake. We say with Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, “So now I am glad to brag about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
A blessed rest of the day to you all, and remember, that God has forgiven yesterday, is with you today and has already taken care of tomorrow. Amen.