Can God Use Me? - 1:1

1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:14
0 ratings

We are God's tools. He creates us to do a specific task that can only be accomplished as we are shaped and fashioned by Him. We are useful as long as we are shaped by God. The moment we resist Him, we lose our usefulness. God is shaping and fashioning you and me for use. Every single believer can and will be used by God for His purpose. You are useful. How do I know that? Because God uses people even when everyone else would cast them aside or write them off as a lost cause.



This morning as we begin we have a statement and two questions.
Statement: I can be used by God.
This statement will be demonstrated as we go through Scripture this morning.
Question #1: Do I desire to be useful?
Question #2: Am I willing to be useful?
Keep these things in mind during the message today.
Have you ever wondered if God can use you?
Maybe you have a history that makes you question your usefulness.
The usefulness of a tool is dependent on the task to be accomplished.
Meaning. I want the tool that is made for the task.
We are God's tools. He creates us to do a specific task that can only be accomplished as we are shaped and fashioned by Him.
We are useful as long as we are shaped by God. The moment we resist Him, we lose our usefulness.
However, there is a bigger point I don't want us to miss here.
God is shaping and fashioning you and me for use.
Every single believer can and will be used by God for His purpose.
You are useful.
How do I know that?
Because God uses people even when everyone else would cast them aside or write them off as a lost cause.
As we dive into 1 Corinthians today, we will meet two men who were used by God contrary to everyone's expectations.
This letter comes from Paul and Sosthenes.
To fully understand the miracle that phrase represents, we need to know who these men are.
That's part of what we will do this morning.
From the lives of Paul and Sosthenes we will learn God's method of making us useful.
Once we know God’s method, we can be made useful.
There are three requirements for usefulness.
Requirement #1…

1. You Must Encounter God

This is the bottom line. This is the foundation.
We cannot be useful if we have not met the Lord.
However, coming to Christ is not normally a single grand moment where someone who had never heard the name of Jesus, suddenly hears and believes.
Coming to Jesus is normally the slow attrition of experience.
You meet a believer who treats you with love and care.
You read a tract someone left.
You have a friend who talks to you about Jesus.
These deposits for Christ eventually reap a harvest of conversion.
That's what we see with both of these men.
Look with me at…

a. The first encounter

We first meet Paul in Acts 7 when his name is Saul.
Turn to Acts 7:57-60.
Acts 7:57-60
Acts 7:57–60 NKJV
Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
This is the first encounter. The first deposit, if you will.
Saul hears the gospel from Stephen. He hears him cry out to God for the forgiveness of those killing him!
Saul gets a taste of what the forgiveness of God looks like.
We can also assume that as Saul persecuted the church, more deposits for Christ were made.
These little encounters with God add up.
As we go on in 1 Corinthians Paul is going to declare that some plant and some water.
We must be faithful in sharing as we have opportunity.
We trust God to bring the increase. We trust God to reap the harvest when the time comes.
That is Paul’s first encounter.
What about Sosthenes?
Turn to Acts 18:1-8.
Acts 18:1-8
Acts 18:1–8 NKJV
After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.
We don’t meet Sosthenes until verse 17.
But this is Sosthenes’ hometown. And, when we get to verse 17, we will learn that after Crispus is converted, Sosthenes takes over as the ruler of the synagogue.
I believe that the conversion of Crispus is Sosthenes first encounter.
He sees a man he looked up to and respected, a spiritual leader, come to faith in Jesus as the Messiah!
That plants a little seed that is going to sprout and bear fruit.
We must take every opportunity to speak of Christ. Even just a few words here and there will add up.
Every word spoken of Christ is a seed planted or watered.
Be faithful in speaking of Christ.
These first encounters don’t immediately result in conversion.
That comes through…

b. The second encounter

The second encounter that turns Saul the persecutor into Paul the apostle is very well known.
Turn to Acts 9.
Acts 9:1-9
Acts 9:1–9 NKJV
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
This is the encounter that finally changes Saul.
He had a powerful encounter with Christ!
What about Sosthenes?
Look with me at Acts 18:9-17.
Acts 18:9-17
Acts 18:9–17 NKJV
Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, “This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.” And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.” And he drove them from the judgment seat. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.
This is what seems to have changed Sosthenes.
Those he went to for justice treated him unjustly.
Both of these men were once leaders of the Jewish religion!
After an encounter with Christ, they have been changed.
If you want to be used by God, you must first encounter Him.
Come to Jesus. Place your faith in Him and find the forgiveness, peace, and hope He has promised.
There are two take away’s from this lesson.
1 - Take every opportunity to proclaim Christ.
2 - Encounter God and be changed.
The process of making us useful begins when we meet the potter.
Requirement #2…

2. You Must Experience Transformation

Transformation – Paul, former persecutor, murderer, and opponent of Christianity.
Sosthenes, the former ruler of the synagogue in Corinth.
Both of these men were transformed by the gospel!
Paul wants the Corinthian church to also be transformed by the gospel.
As we look at the lives of these two men, we make three observations about transformation.
Observation #1…

a. Transformation involves training

Sometime after he is beaten and before Paul writes this letter, Sosthenes comes to Christ and joins Paul in missionary and evangelistic service.
From what Paul writes in other epistles, we know that training those who ministered with him was important to Paul.
Because Paul himself underwent training after his conversion.
Turn to Galatians 1:15-19.
Galatians 1:15-19
Galatians 1:15–19 NKJV
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
Paul was trained by Christ Himself.
He then trained others.
Timothy, Titus, Silas and many others were taught by Paul.
It is probable that Sosthenes was also similarly trained.
Paul writes in Romans 12:2 that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (S).
Romans 12:2
Romans 12:2 NKJV
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
This is where our minds are changed.
In God’s Word.
We learn that in Psalm 119:9 (S).
Psalm 119:9
Psalm 119:9 NKJV
How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
As we are trained, as the Word of God is received into our lives, our minds are transformed.
There can be no transformation without Biblical training.
All of us need this. We need to be transformed and the process of transformation requires that our minds be renewed by the Word of God.
Before we come to Christ our thinking is messed up. Our theology is messed up. Our viewpoint is messed up. It needs to be corrected.
That correction comes through the Word of God.
Observation #2…

b. Transformation involves trial

In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul lists the trials he had faced up to that point.
When we were going through Acts we noted that there is nothing on this list that takes place after Acts 18.
My point is that Paul suffered.
He experienced trials.
We can only imagine what trials Sosthenes endured when he converted to Christianity as a ruler of the Synagogue in Corinth.
James tells us that the testing of our faith produces patience (James 1:2-4).
Trials strengthen, mature, and grow us.
Trials are the instruments of God.
If you want to be used by God, trials are how He makes us useful.
Trials are how God helps us to identify and deal with areas where our thinking does not line up with His Word.
Yet we fight against them.
Some of us are fighting tooth and nail against the process by which God is making us useful!
The trial you are trying to escape is the potter's wheel! He is shaping and fashioning you into a useful vessel and you're trying to stop him!
If you want to be used by God, endure the process of transformation.
On the potter's wheel: wait, wait! Stop! God, I'm not sure what you’re doing. Trust me. But God, this is uncomfortable. Trust me, I have a plan. Okay. Wait, wait stop. God, I don't know what you’re fashioning me into. If you could just give me a glimpse? Trust me. If you just let me work, you'll love the finished product. Okay, okay. Wait, wait, stop. I'm not sure. Trust me. This discomfort, this pain, I have a purpose for it.
You and I are on the potter's wheel. It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He appears we will be like Him.
For the clay to be made into a usable vessel, it has to trust the potter.
Do you trust the potter?
He is fashioning and shaping you into a usable vessel.
Stay in the hands of the potter until His work is finished.
After all, in the hands of the potter is the safest place to be.
When we get off the wheel too early, we end up looking like this (hold up mis-formed clay).
We wonder why life is so hard. We didn’t let the potter finish.
He still has work to do in you and me.
Observation #3…

c. Transformation involves fellowship

One of the ways God transforms us is through fellowship with the saints.
We see this in the life of Paul.
Turn to Acts 9:17-19, 26-27.
Acts 9:17-19, 26-27
Acts 9:17–19 NKJV
And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.
Acts 9:26–27 NKJV
And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
Ananias and the other disciples at Damascus strengthened and encouraged Paul.
Barnabas brought Paul to the other disciples and vouched for him.
This is where our hearts begin to change.
When we spend time with our brothers and sisters in Christ, God works on our hearts!
Sosthenes spent time with Paul. This fellowship had a transformative effect.
Some of the rough edges we have can only be smoothed through the abrasive means of fellowship.
Blind spots are revealed and rough edges exposed as we rub shoulders with the body of Christ.
Now, some of you are thinking that we can’t do that because we aren’t able to meet as often physically.
That’s simply not true.
As we interact through phone calls, texts, emails, and social media; rough edges and blind spots will be revealed.
We must have the courage, boldness and love to discuss these things with one another.
Fellowship exposes areas where transformation is needed.
Once those areas are exposed, the potter goes to work.
Will you and I submit to the work of the potter?
So far we have learned two requirements for usefulness.
We must encounter God and we must experience transformation.
Requirement #3…

3. You Must Engage In Service

Usefulness. This word contains a vital idea. Use.
You cannot be useful if you are never put to use.
For example. A cup was meant to be drunk out of. Never drinking from a cup means never putting it to use.
We have been created for use.
The gifts we have been given by the Holy Spirit, the natural abilities and talents we possess, and the skills we have learned are all to be used in the service of Christ.
We will learn later in 1 Corinthians that failure to serve is sin.
In the life of Paul we are given two reminders of why we must engage in service.
Reminder #1…

a. Service is our calling

Paul begins his epistle to the Corinthians by stating that he has been called to be an apostle.
When God instructed Ananias to visit Paul and restore his sight, this was his answer to Ananias’ objection. Acts 9:15-16.
Acts 9:15-16
Acts 9:15–16 NKJV
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Paul was a chosen vessel to proclaim Christ!
In his own retelling of his conversion Paul recounts the words of Ananias. Acts 22:14-15.
Acts 22:14-15
Acts 22:14–15 NKJV
Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.
The calling to be an apostle was a call to serve.
We will learn in chapter 4 that this calling as an apostle has meant suffering, rejection, and death.
It means giving everything you have in the service of others.
Paul was called by the will of God.
We are to serve because we have been called to it.
Look at 1 Corinthians 1:2.
We are sanctified and called to be saints, just as Paul was called.
Calling is not an accident, it displays intent.
We have been called by God to serve.
Becoming a Christian means becoming a servant.
The potter made you a cup, or a bowl, or a pitcher.
Function. Serve as the potter commands.
Reminder #2…

b. Service is our choice

We saw in verse 2 that we have been called to be a saints.
God has made you a saint.
Has anyone else noticed that just because we are saints doesn’t mean we act saintly?
The choice to behave like a saint is yours and yours alone.
I cannot behave like a saint for you and you cannot behave like a saint for me.
It is an individual responsibility.
God called Paul to be an apostle because it was His will for Paul to be one.
You have been called to be a saint because it is God’s will for you to be one.
However, we are not robots. God will not force us to behave as saints.
He will convict us. He will correct us. He will discipline us. But He will not force us.
Paul repeatedly chose to serve.
Though he faced persecution and suffering, he served.
Why? Because he had been called to it and so he daily chose to serve.
In 1 Corinthians 9:16 Paul says this
1 Corinthians 9:16 NKJV
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
In 4:2 he says this
1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV
Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
We are vessels prepared by the master potter for His use.
To be useful, a vessel must be used.
Serve as an honorable vessel of the master.
Choose to serve.
Let me revisit something we said at the beginning.
Paul and Sosthenes were not the guys most of us would have chosen to serve.
A persecutor and a leader of an opposing religion.
God chose them and made them useful.
He will do the same with you.


I can be used by God.
Do I desire to be useful?
Am I willing to be useful?
A statement and two questions.
I hope that studying Paul and Sosthenes has helped us realize that all of us can be used by God.
Do you want to be used? Are you willing to be used?
As we consider the commitment we would make today, let me give you a few ideas.
Personal: If I want to be useful, I must know the Lord, be Biblically trained, and begin serving. Are these ideas part of my life? A commitment here might be a decision to trust Christ. Or, it could be a commitment to take a class or attend a bible study or get involved in a particular area of ministry.
Friendship: God has given me my friendships on purpose. He has a plan for those relationships. A commitment here could be recognizing God’s purpose in my friendships. Maybe be a mentor or get to the deeper things of life and communicate a Biblical perspective.
Parenting: You are the perfect parent for your children. How do I know that? Because you are the parent God has given them. As parents we will be held primarily responsible for the Spiritual training of our children. Are we doing our job? Do our children know the gospel? Are we engaging them in service?
Marriage: For those who are married this is our first area of service. We are to serve on another. That is what God has called us to. I cannot serve the Lord if my marriage is not what God has called it to be. Serve your spouse. What I mean by that is not that we should cater to their every whim. What I mean is that we know the emotional, spiritual, and, yes, physical needs of our spouse and we meet those.
COMMITMENT: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Every single child of God can be used by Him.
That is why He has created us in Christ Jesus.
That’s what Ephesians 2:10 says.
Ephesians 2:10
Ephesians 2:10 NKJV
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
We were created in Christ Jesus to do good works!
This demands that we first know Christ.
If you have never trusted in Him, do it today.
It further demands that we have been Biblically trained to know and recognize what good works are.
If you feel unprepared, attend a Bible study, start taking classes. Get into the Word.
It finally demands that we get busy serving the Lord.
If you are not using your gifts, talents, abilities, and skills for Christ, today is the day to start.
Four statements and we are done.
Know Christ.
Learn of Christ.
Serve Christ.
Don’t make excuses, make disciples.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more