Summary: Jesus restores and reaffirms us when we fail, making us fit for the Master’s use.
Title: Can God Use Me?
Text: John 21:15-19
Introduction: Annie Armstrong
It is said that Annie Armstrong never tired of serving God and serving people. In 1893 because of her belief in the powerful hand of God to change lives and our world she wrote over 18,000 letters many by hand. She was the driving force in founding the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and she is the namesake of our Easter offering. How was she able to make such an impact? She believed the word of God. She believed in the Power of God. She realized her responsibility before God. (Billy Ricks. Sermon Central.)
Question: Can God use me if I can never accomplish what Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon accomplished?
Quote: God writes with a pen that never blots, speaks with a tongue that never slips, and acts with a hand that never fails. (Source unknown. Quoted in Pulpit Helps, July, 1991)
Question: Can God use me, considering how great He is and how small I am?
Illustration: We Have Been Saved From Our Sinful Past
Two brothers were convicted of stealing sheep. For their crime they were each branded on the forehead with the letters "ST," for "sheep thief."
One brother immediately ran away from the area and attempted to build a new life in another country. Even there, people asked him about the "ST" burned into his forehead. He continued his wanderings and finally, unable to bear the burden, he committed suicide.
The other brother took a different approach. He said to himself, "I can’t run away from the fact that I stole sheep. But that’s the past. I can stay here and win back my self-respect and the respect of my neighbors." The years passed and he built a reputation for integrity.
One day a stranger saw the brother, now an old man, with the letters "ST" branded on his forehead. He asked a resident of the town what the letters stood for. The townsman replied, "It happened a long time ago. I’ve forgotten the particulars, but I think the letters are an abbreviation for Saint." (Christian Cheong. Sermon Central.)
Question: Can God use me, considering how sinful my past is?
We may consider ourselves too inadequate, too prone to failure, or just too sinful to serve an almighty, all powerful, and holy God. Isaiah said, “Woe is me” when he was confronted with the presence of the Lord, yet he declared, “Here am I, send me.” When face to face with the glorified Christ in the Revelation, John fell at his feet as a dead man, yet he wrote the Book of Revelation as the Lord directed him.
The point is it’s too easy for us to sit back and think that God cannot use us because we don’t have certain abilities or opportunities that other people have. It’s too easy to think that God is so great He couldn’t possibly need me to do something for Him. And it’s much too easy to believe that God can’t use me because of the sins of my past. This is the point I want to focus on today. This is a lie of the devil, as we can see by studying the life of the Apostle Peter. Here we will find that, in spite of our sin, God wants to use us and equips us to be fit for the Master’s service.
I. CONSIDER THE PRIORITY OF YOUR LOVE (EVALUATE IT).
“Do you love Me more than THESE?”
Note: “THESE” could refer to the fish.
A. More Than Fish (Career)? (John 21:1-3a)
1. Peter had seen the empty tomb. (John 20:1-7)
2. He saw the risen Lord at His appearance to the 10 disciples (except Thomas). (John 20:19-25)
3. He saw Him again 8 days later when He appeared to the 11 (with Thomas). (John 20:26-31)
4. Still, he decided to go back to his previous career.
a. Feelings of guilt?
b. Feelings of inadequacy?
c. Experiencing doubt?
B. More Than Friends?
Note: “THESE” could refer to the other disciples. (Matthew 26:33)
C. More Than Family? (Luke 14:26)
Note: The “hatred” called for here is actually a lesser love. Jesus was calling His disciples to cultivate such a devotion to Him that their attachment to everything else – including their own lives – would seem like hatred by comparison. (John MacArthur, “The MacArthur Study Bible,” note on Luke 14:26, p. 1544.)
II. CONSIDER THE PROOF OF YOUR LOVE (AUTHENTICATE IT).
Feed My Sheep…
Note: The word “feed” conveys the idea of being devoted to the Lord’s service as an undershepherd who cares for His flock. (1 Peter 5:1-4)
A. Where Peter Began.
1. A simple fisherman who did not know Jesus. (Matthew 4:18-20)
B. Where Peter Was.