Joel Osteen — God Will Use You With Your Limitation
I want to talk to you today about how "God will use you with your limitations". Every person has weaknesses, faults, even things that we would consider to be a handicap: "If I just wasn't so short, if I had a better personality, if I was a different nationality," or maybe, "If I controlled my temper better," "If I was a little more patient".
So often we let our faults and weaknesses be excuses to settle for mediocrity. We think, "I can't do anything great. I've got these limitations". But the good news is God doesn't just use perfect people. If he did, none of and God's calling on your life is not put on hold until you overcome in every area and perform perfectly 100% of the time. No, God will use you while you're growing, while you're changing. Don't let that weakness be an excuse to settle where you are.
In the scripture, Peter was far from perfect. He was hot-tempered, used bad language, cursed people out. One time, he got so upset, he pulled out his sword and later, he was so afraid, he denied that he knew Christ. He had plenty of areas to come up higher in, yet he was a chosen disciple, one of Jesus' right-hand men. Not long after he cut the soldier's ear off, he stood up to minister, and 3,000 people became believers, the most recorded in the scripture.
You would think God would use somebody more polished, more disciplined, more mature. No, God doesn't just use people that have it all together. God is a God of hearts. He looks on the inside. He doesn't just judge us, based on our performance. When you have a heart to please God, you may make mistakes, you may have areas you need to come up higher in, but that doesn't disqualify you from doing something great along the way.
In fact, the scripture says God's power shows up greatest in our weakness, and Peter wasn't perfect, touched a crippled man, and the man was instantly healed. If God can use him in such a great way with his weaknesses, his shortcomings, surely God can use you and me.
I've learned, some weaknesses, God will never remove. If he did, we wouldn't need him. So if you're waiting to feel good about yourself until you overcome in every area and perform perfectly 100% of the time, you're going to be waiting your whole life. You have to give yourself permission to have some flaws. You'll never be happy if you don't give yourself the right to have some weaknesses, and I'm not saying that we should take the easy way out and just accept things. No, we should always be growing, improving, striving to do better, but in the meantime, we should not beat ourselves up because we haven't arrived.
There will always be some area that God's dealing with you in about coming up higher, and the scripture says, "We are God's workmanship". It indicates it's an ongoing process, and just because we haven't arrived, doesn't mean we're supposed to sit on the sidelines until we get it all together. God wants to use us with our limitations.
And all through the scripture we see people just like Peter. They didn't have it all together. They made mistakes. They weren't perfect. They had handicaps, yet God used them to do amazing things: Jacob was a cheater, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossip, Mary was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sarah was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Zacchaeus was short, Abraham was old, and Lazarus was dead.
Now, my question is "What's your excuse? Why can't God use you? Why can't you do something great? Why can't you accomplish the dream God's placed in your heart"? If God used people that doubted and worried and cheated and got drunk and were impatient and stuttered, and had handicaps, can't use you? "Well, Joel, I don't come from an influential family. I don't have all the connections. I don't know all the right people". That's what Gideon said, but God called him a "Mighty man of fearless courage". God stirred him out of that inferiority. He went on to help save the people of Israel.
"Well, I've got this problem with my temper. That's why I'm on the sidelines. That's why I feel unqualified". Had, yet he was so anointed, his shadow touched someone, and they got healed. What makes you think you're any different than Peter? If God didn't write him off, why would God write you off? "Well, I've got this addiction. I've got a problem with alcohol. I'm all washed up". No, so did Noah, but he got free, and he went on to do something great. "Well, I've had some moral failures. I haven't been faithful in my relationships". Neither was David, but he repented. God forgave him, restored him, and he went on to fulfill his destiny.
Whatever it is you think is holding you back (a limitation, a failure, a fault, a weakness) I can tell you with confidence, it has not disqualified you from the amazing future you've got to do your part and get in agreement with God. Get rid of the guilt. Get rid of the condemnation. Don't go around feeling bad about yourself. As long as you feel wrong on the inside, it will keep you from God's best.
Many times, the enemy doesn't have to condemn us. We condemn ourselves: "Well, I blew my diet yesterday", "Lost my temper last week," "Should've spent more time with my children," "I'm so undisciplined". No, if you stay focused on your weaknesses, on your faults, on how you didn't measure up, that's not going to help you improve. That's just going to drag you down and cause you to do worse.
The scripture says our faith is made effective when we acknowledge everything good. If you're acknowledging everything wrong with you, your faith is not going to be effective. If you're focused on your flaws and you're reliving every mistake you've made for the last 30 years and you're down on yourself because you're not where you want to be, because you're acknowledging what's wrong, it'll keep you from moving forward.
One of the worst mistakes we could make is to go through life being against ourselves. There's already enough people against us, enough circumstances against us. Don't be against yourself. Quit beating yourself up. Quit overanalyzing quit taking inventory of everything you don't like about yourself. So often we spend more time looking at what's wrong with us than we do looking at what's right with us. It should be just the opposite. Start acknowledging everything good about you.
Let me help you. You came to church today. That was good. You turned the television on. That was good. You were on time at work this week. That was good. You overlooked an offense. That was good. You stopped by your neighbors and encouraged them. That was good.
Listen, there is a lot right about you. Start focusing on the good. That's what makes your faith effective. When you're for yourself instead of against yourself, you're in agreement with God. He'll breathe in your direction. You'll be stronger, more focused, more disciplined, more determined. That will help you overcome anything that's holding you back, and the scripture says in Ephesians 6, "Put on the breastplate of God's approval". If we're going to live in victory, instead of condemning ourselves, we need to start approving ourselves.
Something powerful happens when you say, "I like who I am. I'm not perfect. I've got some faults, areas I need to improve in, but I know I'm growing, I'm improving, and since God approves me, then I approve myself". When you put on the breastplate of God's approval like that, in the unseen realm, chains are broken: chains of inferiority, chains of guilt, chains of low self-esteem. Those strongholds are broken, and God's favor is released.
But some of you have never once said: "I like myself, I like my personality. I like my looks. I like my gifts. I'm happy with who I am". "Well, Joel, that's kind of far-out. I'm not going to say, 'I like myself.'" No, if you don't like yourself, then other people are not going to like you. You project what you believe on the inside.
If you feel wrong about yourself, you'll project low self-esteem, inferiority, unhappiness, discontentment. If you don't respect yourself, other people will not respect you, and I'm not saying to go around high-minded, but I am saying not to go around inferior like a weak worm of the dust: "I can't do anything right. I got so much wrong with me. I wish I was like those people". No, those people that you think have it all together, they don't have it all together. Nobody does.
They just learned this principle to not beat themselves up while they're our attitude should be "I'm no better than anybody else, but I'm no worse than anybody else. I'm a child of the most high God, approved, accepted, redeemed, forgiven.
Listen, there's something special about you. Don't go around feeling wrong on the inside, acknowledging every mistake, every flaw, every weakness, every imperfection. Sure, you may have areas you need to improve in. We all do. You may not be where you want to be, but you're not put your shoulders back. Hold your head up high. God calls you a masterpiece. Now be proud of who God made you to be.
I saw a story about this man and his small son. They were out taking a walk through the mountains, and at one point, the little boy slipped and slid about 30 feet down the mountainside, and he was able to grab onto a tree branch. He screamed out, "Help me!" This voice boomed back, "Help me!" He looked around, kind of confused. He said, "Who are you"? The voice boomed back, "Who are you"? He got aggravated. He said, "You're a fool!" The voice boomed back, "You're a fool!" He said, "You're a coward!" It shouted back, "You're a coward!" About that time, his father got down there, and the little boy looked at him and said, "Dad, who is that"? The dad kind of laughed, and he said, "Son, that's called an 'echo,' but really, it's called 'life.'"
He said, "Son, let me show you something". The dad shouted out, "You're a winner!" It shouted back, "You're a winner!" He shouted out, "You've got what it takes!" It boomed back, "You've got what it takes!" "You're going to make it!" It came back, "You're going to make it!" He said, "Son, that's how it is in life. Whatever you send out always comes back to you". "What're you sending out about yourself"?
"Well, I'm clumsy. I can't do anything right. Nobody wants to be around me. I got all these faults". No, start sending out "I'm approved, I'm accepted, I'm talented, I'm creative, I'm a masterpiece". What you send out will come back, and some of you would go to a new level if you would just start accepting and approving yourself. God made you like you are on purpose. He knew what family you would come from, what personality you would have, how tall or short you would be. He even knew the areas that we would struggle in.
Don't be against yourself. Instead, start accepting and approving yourself. So often, what we think is our greatest liability, the thing we like about us the least, really, it's our greatest asset. In the scripture, there was a man named Zacchaeus. His problem, his handicap, what he didn't like was he was very short. While other people could reach up on a shelf and grab something, he'd have to get a ladder. Growing up, he heard all the short jokes. In school, couldn't play on the ball teams. He was too little. All these disadvantages because of his size, and I could imagine he said, "God, it's not fair. Why didn't you make me taller? Why didn't you make me like everyone else"?
One day, he heard that Jesus was coming through his town. He rushed out to the main road, but it was already packed with people, 30 or 40 feet deep, and everybody was on their tiptoes, trying to catch a glimpse of Jesus. Of course, Zacchaeus was so small, he'd he could've gone back home, defeated, thought, "Just my luck. Never get any good breaks. I've got this disadvantage". No, Zacchaeus did what he had always done. He climbed up in the tree so he could look over the crowd. Wasn't anything new for him. He was used to doing that. Jesus came through. Thousands of people were calling Jesus' name, trying to get his attention, but out of all those people, Jesus looked up in the tree and said, "Hey, Zacchaeus, come on down. I want to go have dinner with you today".
What Zacchaeus thought was his greatest liability turned out to be his greatest asset. Friends, God doesn't make any mistakes. Your size, your personality, your gifts, your skin color, nothing about you is by accident. You have been fearfully and wonderfully made. If you needed to be taller, God would've made you taller. If you needed a different personality, God would've given you one. You have been equipped for the race that has been specifically designed for you.
I think about Moses. God told him to go tell pharaoh, "Let my people go". Moses said, "God, I can't do that. I stutter. Let me take my brother, and he can speak for me". In other words, "God, I've got this handicap. I don't speak like other people. I could never do anything great". No, God was saying, "Moses, I can use you with your limitations. Moses, I wouldn't have asked you to do this if you were not already equipped and well able".
Moses finally got his confidence up. He went in there and spoke to pharaoh. See, Moses just needed somebody to remind him that his weaknesses didn't have to hold him back.
God told Jeremiah that he was going to be a prophet to the nations, that he is going to do great things. Jeremiah said, "God, I can't do that. I'm too young. I wouldn't know what to say. I've got these limitations". God answered back quickly, "Jeremiah, say not that you're too young". In other words, "Jeremiah, quit talking about your limitations. Quit thinking you don't have what it takes, don't settle for mediocrity, Jeremiah, when I've called you to do something great on and on".
God used imperfect people that were felt unqualified, that made mistakes, that had weaknesses, to accomplish amazing things. Like Jeremiah, like Moses, we can all come up with excuses: "Joel, I'm too tall," or "I'm too short". "I come from a dysfunctional family". "I'm a single parent". "If I had a better personality," "If I just didn't stutter".
No, we need to start seeing ourselves the way God sees us. You may have made mistakes, but God says you're redeemed and forgiven. You may feel weak, but God says you're strong. You may not feel qualified, but God says you're equipped and empowered. You may not feel valuable, not feel very important, but God says you're a masterpiece. You're his prized possession.
Now, quit focusing on what you're not, and start focusing on who God says you are. Friends, God doesn't choose the way people choose. He doesn't judge the way people judge. God looks beyond the weakness, beyond the dysfunction, beyond the failure, and he sees what we can become.
When Jesus chose the 12 disciples, it's interesting: he didn't choose the most qualified men, the most talented, the most educated. No, he chose ordinary people that had weaknesses and flaws, people that had made mistakes. When he chose Peter and Andrew, he didn't see rough fishermen. He saw men when he chose Matthew, he didn't see a despised tax collector. He saw what he could become.
What if Jesus would've used a consulting firm to help pick the 12 disciples? I could imagine it would've come back something like this: "We've run the tests on the 12 men you've submitted, and we're sorry to say none of them is qualified to be in management. Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of rage. Thomas has a doubting spirit that undermines morale. Matthew is known to be dishonest and has already been blacklisted by the greater Jerusalem better business bureau".
If God chose us just based on our background, on our past performance, or even our talent and our ability, none of us would have a chance. He doesn't choose us because of what we are. He chooses us because of what we can become, and some of you are sitting on the sidelines of life, not pursuing your dreams, your goals, because of mistakes in the past. Because of weaknesses, you feel unqualified, but God is saying, "I handpicked you, not because you were perfect, not because you had it all together. I chose you because I can see the potential on the inside. I know what you can become".
Now, you've got to get back in the race, get your fire back, get your dreams back. You're not supposed to sit on the sidelines until you're perfect. God wants to use you with your limitations. He wants to bless us in spite of our weaknesses. That way, when we rise to a new level, God will get all the credit. We'll know that it's him and not us.
I read something interesting about a golf ball. It's designed on purpose with dimples in it, with imperfections. It seems like you would want a perfectly smooth ball so it would roll better, be more accurate, travel further, but it's just the opposite. Engineers say a perfectly smooth golf ball will travel about half the distance off the tee than a ball with dimples. The dimples or the imperfections create less wind resistance, which allows the ball same principle in life.
God is the master designer. He's the engineer. Everything about you has been designed to help you go further. We may see it a weakness. "This mistake I made, it's holding me back". No, if you'll keep your trust in him with the right attitude, every mistake, every imperfection, every handicap will not decrease you. It will increase you. That's the way that imperfection may be, like Peter, a hot temper, a bad habit, some area you need to improve in.
Instead of seeing it as a liability, start seeing it as a dimple. In other words, "This hot temper is not designed to hold me back. I know it's designed to thrust me forward. So I'm going to work with God and let him make me and mold me," and overcome that weakness, instead of defeating you, it's going to promote you.
That mistake you made, it may look like a setback, but the truth is it's just a dimple. It's designed to help you go further. That's what it says. What was meant for your harm, God will use to your advantage. Instead of going around, thinking, "Well, I got so much wrong with me," "I don't know why I'm like this," no, our attitude should be, "I've just got a bunch of dimples. That means I'm going to travel further. It's not working against me. It's working for me".
This article stated, "The apparent flaw in the golf ball causes it to go further". We all have things that we think are apparent flaws: "If I was taller, if I had a better personality, if I was more outgoing," no, what we think are apparent flaws have been put there on purpose so that we can increase. You have been specifically designed by the creator of the universe to reach your highest potential. Nothing about you is by accident.
I heard about this lady, an elderly chinese woman. She had two large pots that hung on the end of a pole that rested on her neck. Every day, she would walk from her house, down to the stream to get some fresh water. One of the pots had a small crack in it. The other pot was perfect, and when she'd come back from the long walks from the stream, the pot with the crack would only be because it leaked out. This went on, week after week, month after month.
The perfect pot was very proud of its accomplishments, always bringing a full pot of water, but this pot with the crack, it felt a little bit embarrassed, ashamed by its imperfection. One day, it said to the elderly woman, "I really feel bad I'm only delivering about half of what I'm supposed to".
The woman said, "Have you noticed that there are flowers on your side of the path from where the water has leaked out? That's because I've always known about your flaw, so I have planted seeds on your side. Every day we return from the stream, you water those seeds. I've picked flowers and decorated my house. Without you being just the way you are, there wouldn't be this beauty in my house".
Every one of us has unique flaws and weaknesses. We could easily be down on ourselves and think, "Why am I this way"? But the good news is, just like this lady, God knows how to use cracked pots. He knows just where to plant the seeds so that nothing we're dealing with will when you're tempted to be against yourself and focused on your flaws, always remember God is not finished with you, and you may not realize it, but while God is working, he's picking the flowers. He's using that imperfection. It's a part of his design. God knows how to get good out of every situation.
The truth is, we're all we've all got faults, weaknesses, things that we wish were different! But if we're going to live in victory, here's the key: you've got to be satisfied with your pot. Be the best that you can be with what God has given you. He didn't choose you because you're perfect. He chose you because he knows what you can become. Don't go through life being against yourself. Get up every morning. Put on the breastplate of God's approval.
Dare to say, "I like who I am, not perfect, but I'm growing". Start acknowledging everything good about you. That's what makes your faith effective. If you will do this, like the golf ball, those dimples, won't cause you to go less. They'll cause you to travel further, and I believe and declare you will become everything God's created you to be. You're going to have everything God intended for you to have, amen?