The Kind Of People God Loves To Use

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Most of us will never star in a movie, win a gold medal or speak to thousands. In this day of celebrities and even celebrity pastors, it’s good to remind ourselves that God loves to save and work through common ordinary people. That’s one truth the Christmas story teaches us.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. (Luke 1:26-27)

Galilee was a small city of less than 2000 people in an insignificant region of Israel, 63 miles north of Jerusalem in Judea separated by Samaria. Biblical Scholar RT France says, “Judeans despised their northern neighbors as country cousins” “who lacked Jewish sophistication.” Galileans spoke “a distinctive form of Aramaic whose slovenly consonants… were the butt of Judean humor.” Reminds me of how some sophisticated folks disdain a Western Pennsylvania accent: “Hey, yinz goin dahntahn to see da Picksbarg Stillers? Be sure to pick up some chip chop ham ‘n ‘at at da Gian Iggle.” Judeans were also of the opinion that Galileans were lax in their observance of proper ritual, and this problem was made worse by their distance from the temple and religious leaders in Jerusalem.

Remember when Philip told Nathanael about Jesus for the first time: …“We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” …(John 1:45-46)

Jesus himself would have had the Galilean accent and been despised by the religious elite in Jerusalem for his roots.

Gabriel was sent to “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.” Mary was a young girl. According to many biblical scholars, in that day, betrothal (which was like engagement) often took place as young as 12 years old, then marriage a year later.) So Mary was most likely a young girl engaged to a young carpenter named Joseph.

God doesn’t do things the way we would. God didn’t announce the birth of the Messiah to a sophisticated religious leader in the religious capital. He chose to make one of history’s greatest announcements to an ordinary unsophisticated young girl in an unimpressive small town that would have been looked down on by the religious establishment in Jerusalem.

1 Co 1:26- 28 says:

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are…

I said this to our church yesterday: “We are nothing great. We’re a bunch of pretty ordinary folks out here in Indiana PA. Most of the world, and most of the United States have never heard of Indiana PA. When my dad was transferred here from Tulsa, Oklahoma when I was in 8th grade I said, “Indiana, Pennsylvania? What kind of town is that? It can’t even come up with its own name but has to steal it from a state.” We at this church are nothing special. We’re a bunch of sinners that Jesus has rescued and is changing. If you’re new here and you feel like you’re not that great, then you’ll fit in just fine. Because God loves to work through ordinary folks. Even through people with Western PA accents.”

I’m so glad God chose the lowly, the weak and the foolish and those unwise by wordly standards. Because that’s me. That’s most of us who Jesus saves. And that’s who Jesus loves to use. Ordinary people. 13 year old girls from small towns. Carpenters. Shepherds. Jesus wants to use you for his glory. He wants to use you to reach and bless people no one else can reach. Ask Jesus today to use you for his glory.

Little Things Matter

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Little things.  We can think they don’t matter much.  Little acts of kindness, little deeds of service.  Or little compromises, little sins.  Do these little things matter?

“Life is largely a mosaic of little events and little deeds. It is the decision we make when a cashier at the supermarket gives us too much change, or the waiter at the restaurant understates our bill, that reveals whether we are honest or not. It may seem as if I tend to trivialize life by frequently using illustrations of sins that some consider not too big an issue. But the truth is, it is in the minutia of life where most of us live day after day. We seldom have to say no to an outright temptation to adultery. We often have to say no to the temptation to the lustful look or thought. And as some unknown person has said, “He that despises little things shall fall little by little.” — Jerry Bridges

Think small this week.  What little thing can you do for the Lord?  What little thing can you do to bless someone?  What “little” sin should you confess to someone?

Mundane is Glorious

But we urge you, brothers, to [love one another] more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. 1 Thess 4.10-12

You probably won’t hear this verse read at many college graduation ceremonies. Keynote speakers usually encourage graduates to aspire to greatness, not to live quietly and mind their own affairs.

When I first believed in Christ, I dreamed of becoming a Christian performer, singing before thousands at Jesus festivals. I didn’t yearn to trudge off to work every day in the same office for the next 25 years, get married, have kids, go to Little League games, serve in the church, then die. That seemed so ordinary, pedestrian, and bland.

But there’s this little thing called making a living. So I became an elementary art teacher, bouncing among five different buildings, teaching buck-toothed kids how to cut out hearts, carve soap animals and make construction paper Christmas trees.

I got married, had kids, went to Little League games for 19 years, and served in our church, where I’ve worked in 2 offices since 1980.

Most Christians lives aren’t remarkable. Most of us aren’t speaking at conferences, writing books or rocking at festivals. Most of us work at rather humdrum jobs, or labor with little thanks in our homes serving our families. We faithfully plod away, going to care groups and serving our church.

If someone made a movie about most of us it would probably be rated “B” for “boring,” or “U” for “uneventful”.  But when, by God’s grace, we “live quietly”, and mind our own affairs, and work with our hands, God is honored.

He’s no more glorified by the pastor preaching to thousands than he is by the Mom trying to get her one-year-old to eat his Gerber peas for the hundredth time.

He’s no more blessed by the man who leads thousands in worship than by the dad who runs a high lift all day, plays catch with his kids after dinner, and falls asleep reading a Bible story to his kids before bed.

Mundane is glorious in the kingdom of God. Because it takes God’s grace to live quiet lives of faithfulness, serving, and loving.  Aspire to do all you do, no matter how commonplace, for God’s glory.

photo by Myrrien