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God Chooses Ordinary People

Scripture: Exodus 4:10, Judges 6:15, 2 Samuel 7:8
Date: 01/12/2013 
God chooses ordinary people. Some of us may think the Lord can't use us. We may not know what our gifts are yet because sometimes God does't activate our gifts until we step up to serve Him.
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Subject today, we’re going to be talking about how God chooses ordinary people. And some may be thinking, “Oh, I don’t know what the Lord can do with me. I don’t have any great gifts.” You may not know what your gifts are because God sometimes does not activate a person’s spiritual gifts until you step up. And then all of a sudden, you’ll discover, “Wow, maybe I can do this!” Do you realize most people don’t know that they can speak publically until they speak publically? And, by the way, that’s one of the greatest fears that people have. And so, I just want you to be thinking about that.

I’m going to introduce the message this morning by telling you the story of an individual—a very unique individual. Have you heard of Tibor Rubin? Tibor Rubin was born before World War II in Hungary. He was one of six children of a Jewish cobbler—shoemaker. When the war broke out, because they were Jewish, their family was rounded up and scattered among a couple of different concentration camps. Tibor was thirteen years old. His mother, his father, and two sisters died in the concentration camps. I don’t think I need to tell you what conditions were like there, but surviving for a thirteen-year-old for nearly two years was miraculous.

When finally the war ended and American soldiers came through the gates of that camp and liberated the people in the camp, it was very inspiring to young Tibor, and he thought, “If I could ever go to a country where soldiers, instead of killing children, are saving children, where they’re fighting for freedom instead of oppressing people,” he said, “Lord, if You’ll ever let me go to a country like that,” he says, “I’ll be a soldier. I want to be a G.I. Joe and help other people be free.”

And so through providence, he made it to America. And true to his word, one of the first things he did is he tried to enlist as a soldier. But he spoke such poor English; his Hungarian accent was so thick, the first time he applied, he failed. He studied with his friends and took the test again, and he passed, made it in the US Army just in time to go to Korea for the Korean War.

And as you might have guessed, he was right in the thick of it there in the Korean War in the peninsula fighting against the communist North Koreans and Chinese. And he had a sergeant that—well, it’s believed that he was anti-Semitic. When he found out that Tibor was Jewish, he just kept giving him the very worst assignments. And he did it all cheerfully, and it aggravated the sergeant even more. And it broke Tibor’s heart because he thought, you know, “I thought I got away from that when I left Europe.” And finally, the sergeant started sending him on suicide missions. He would volunteer him for these suicide missions hoping he wouldn’t come back, but he always did.

And eventually, when they were under attack from the Communists in the North, the Americans needed to retreat during this particular battle, and he assigned Tibor by himself to take a mountain. And he said, “I want you to hold that mountain. Don’t let anyone take it because you’re going to be protecting the road of our retreat.” So he figured it was all over. He went up on the mountain, and they gave him plenty of ammunition. He was by himself. He filled all these different foxholes with hand grenades and put two or three different rifles and ammunition, carbines, M-1, in the different foxholes. And sure enough, as the night approached, waves of soldiers began coming up the hill. And he was all by himself.

He said he just started throwing hand grenades and shouting hysterically. And he said he knew he had to convince them that there were a lot of men up there guarding that mountain, and if they found out there was only one man, he said, “I was done for. So I’d go from hole to hole, and I’d scream and make all these different hysterical noises, and I’d throw hand grenades, and I’d pick up the carbine and I’d shoot. But the M-1 makes a different sound, so I’d roll over and jump in a different foxhole and then shoot with the M-1.” And he did this for 24 hours, trying to hold back wave after wave of enemy soldiers trying to take the hill that would then have been attacking his friends that were trying to make a retreat. Finally, the waves stopped coming, and he dared to poke his head up, and he couldn’t see anybody moving.

The captain said, “We’ll come back for you,” and they didn’t come back. After two days they didn’t come back. He said, “Well, enough of this,” and he got out, and he walked out of the hole, and there were numberless enemy casualties all around the hill. They never even took a count, but it was just very significant. He made his way back. The sergeant was absolutely shocked when he saw him coming back alive. And two commanders put in a recommendation that he get the Medal of Honor for what he had done in protecting everybody. But they then gave that sergeant that didn’t like him very much, they said, “You take care of the paperwork. We’re recommending him for a Medal of Monor.” Well, he never did it, and the two commanders died in action.

Well, after that, they went back during an advance in the North, and Tibor was with his troops up there. They were overwhelmed by the Communist forces. Finally, they had a 30-caliber gun, and it was the only gun that was left defending his troops. Basically, his whole regiment was virtually wiped out. The three men prior to him that had been manning this gun had been killed. He finally took the gun, held it for 18 hours, ran the gun, and it finally ran out of ammunition, and he was wounded and then captured.

Well, he was taken by the Communists up north, and they found out that he was Hungarian. Hungary now was behind the iron curtain. They said, “Why are you fighting for the Americans? Tell you what, instead of going to the prison-of-war camp with the other Americans, we will give you plenty of food, we will give you clothes, we will send you back to Hungary and set you free.” Well, that would be a tempting offer as opposed to being at a prison-of-war camp where there is filth and disease and mistreatment and death. And he said, “No, I’m going to stay with the Americans in the prison-of-war camp.”

And so he stayed with the soldiers there. And they were all despairing. Many were dying from starvation and from terrible conditions. Tibor, he had learned how to live in a concentration camp when he was thirteen. He healed from his injuries when he had been in the battle, and he began to sneak out of camp at night. He would escape from the POW camp, he would collect food from gardens or even steal it from the guards and sneak back in, every time knowing he would either be killed or tortured if he was caught doing that, and he’d give it to the other soldiers. And he kept many of them alive. And when they’d get discouraged and be at the point of death, he’d do just about anything to encourage them. He says, “Look, I know you can make it through this because I made it through this when I was thirteen years old.” And many did survive. Dozens were saved by his feeding them. There are a lot of stories I could tell you about what happened, but there wouldn’t be time for it all.

Well, he was finally released from the military as an ordinary citizen. Even though several of his associates had put in that he get an award or a medal, nothing ever happened. Fifty years went by, and some of his friends that had survived the POW camp and others who had been on the battlefield with him began to say, “This just isn’t right. This was one of the greatest heroes of this war, and he had never been recognized.” And so they got 42,000 signatures. You ever heard the expression, “It took an act of Congress?” It finally took an act of Congress fifty years late, and they said, “You know, he deserves the Medal of Honor.” And in 2005 they gave Tibor Rubin the Medal of Honor, and it was quite a feat to see all these people that had been saved by him finally standing, giving him an ovation, honoring him for his courage.

The interesting thing is now that he’s got a Medal of Honor—he was just, you know, private; he finally left the military as a corporal—according to the Medal of Honor, generals need to salute him, and the President needs to stand up when he enters the room. Did you know that? That’s tradition. When someone has a Medal of Honor, generals must salute that person, and the President needs to stand up when they enter the room. And he got quite a kick out of that! And, you know, he said, a couple of things he said—and I saw the interview—he said, “It’s a miracle I’m alive. Only God kept me alive.” And he said, “I don’t understand it. I’m just an ordinary guy.” But, you know, God is able to use people that are just ordinary. As a matter of fact, most of the great things that God has done through Bible history, He does it through people that thought of themselves as pretty ordinary. It’s when you think a little too much of yourself that God can’t use you.

Now I’m going to go through a little list in the Bible. I want to start with Moses. You know, when Moses was living in the palaces of Egypt, he thought, “I’m going to be the great savior of my people,” and he tried to do it through his own means, everything backfired. It was only after he had wandered in the wilderness as a shepherd for forty years following the south end of north-bound sheep that finally God could do something with him. He had to get Moses to the point where he realized that he was just another shepherd.

And then when God finally came to him—you can read this in Exodus 4:10—and He said, “Look, I’ve got a great work for you to do,” proof that Moses was ready, is that Moses didn’t think he was ready. Now, don’t miss that. So many of you, when you think about, “Oh, you know, there’s really nothing I could do for the church,” that may mean that you are finally qualified, because God wants ordinary people. He chooses ordinary people.

Moses said, “O … Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant.” You know, when you don’t talk for a long time, your vocabulary starts to suffer. And I know; I’ve spent days where I didn’t see anybody, and then you see somebody and you start struggling to find words, speech, like anything. Moses says, “I’ve been out here; you know, other than my wife and some of the tribes I meet every now and then, I’m by myself in the wilderness! And You want me to go talk with the leaders of Egypt? I know what that’s like, and I can’t do it!” “‘I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.’ So the Lord said to him, ‘Who … made man’s mouth? … who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what [to] say.’” When was God going to be with his mouth? When he goes. When we take steps of faith to do what God is calling us to do, He empowers us to do that thing.

You find the same attitude in Gideon. Judges chapter 6, verse 15, the children of Israel have been oppressed for years by the Midianites because of their unfaithfulness. As a matter of fact, all of Gideon’s brothers and older family have all been killed off by the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East. And Gideon is now hiding, trying to thresh some wheat, and the angel of the Lord appears to him and says, “Look, I’ve got a work for you to do. I want you to deliver God’s people.” He’s going, “Me? Not me!” “O … Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh,”—Manasseh was kind of an obscure tribe—“and I am the least in my father’s house.” There we have the weakest clan, and “I’m the youngest in my father’s house.” “And the Lord said…, ‘Surely I will be with you, and you [will] defeat the Midianites as one man.’” “You’ll do it with unity. You’re going to lead this group.” And was God able to do great things through Gideon? I think he, of course, became a judge in Israel. Why could God use him? Because he was just an ordinary person out there threshing wheat for the next meal, and God said, “You know, if I call you and I’m with you, you can do anything.” All things are possible with God.

First king of Israel, he started out right. You know what his name was—King Saul. And Saul did not run for office; he was chosen by God. And you notice in 1 Samuel 9 where this appears, 1 Samuel 9:21, “And Saul answered and said, ‘Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family [is] the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?” “Why would you speak to me like this?” When Samuel first said, “You’ve been called to be the king of Israel,” he’s going, “You must be kidding. I’m from Benjamin.” Now, Benjamin had just about been decimated if you know your Bible. In the book of Judges, there was a war between Benjamin and the other tribes. They were almost annihilated. So they are a very small tribe. And here, he is one of the young people in the tribe, and even though Saul was tall, he felt he was just an ordinary—. As a matter of fact, you know, when God calls him to be a king, he’s out looking for lost donkeys, and God calls him to be a king. Doesn’t sound like the way that kind of announcement is usually made.

But then after he had a little bit of success, things started going to his head, he stopped listening to God, he thought, “You know, maybe it’s because I had extraordinary ability. That’s why God picked me. After all, I am tall, dark, and handsome.” And when he started thinking like that, Samuel said to him (this is 1 Samuel 15:17), “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel?” Now you know what it says about Saul physically, that he was a head and shoulders taller than every other man. That means when you saw an army of men, you’d see one head sticking up above everyone else—that was Saul. And it began to affect his thinking. He really thought he was something. And Samuel said, “When you were small in your own eyes I could use you because you thought you were ordinary, and I could do great things.”

Luke 14. Jesus says in verse 11 of Luke 14, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he [that] humbles himself will be exalted.” And so if we’ve got a humble attitude and we say, “Lord, if there’s something I can do, You let me know; I’m willing,” then God is able to use us. But when we start thinking, “You’re very lucky to have me in this church because I’m just oozing talent,” well, that scares pastoral staff when someone has that attitude because Christ can do the most through people who are humble that realize that we’re just all ordinary people.

David. Now I don’t think anyone here will argue that David was the greatest of the kings. He was one of the greatest men that has ever lived. But why was he great? Did God look down from heaven and say, “I’m going to see if somebody’s down there that’s hyper-talented. I’m going to see someone down there that just has all these different gifts, and I want him to be able to play, I want him to be able to sing, I want him to be able to fight, I want him to be able to judge, and I want him to be able to talk. They got to look good. I want the whole package in one man. Let Me see if I can find that man.” And He picked David because he had all that talent. Well, David did probably have some natural ability, but God picked him and gave him most of that ability. And so it’s the Lord ultimately who equips anybody that He calls.

Notice what David’s attitude was. First of all, when Samuel comes to town to anoint the next king, his family doesn’t even bring him. They think, “Yep, we’ve got our sons here. The whole family is here. You have something to say?” And Samuel looks around, and the Holy Spirit told Samuel, “The one I want to anoint as king is not here.” And he says, “Jesse, are all your boys here?” “Oh yeah! Why, there’s that one daydreamer.” That’s how ordinary David was to everybody else. They didn’t even remember to invite him. He didn’t really matter. And David felt that way about himself too. “There remains the youngest. He is out keeping the sheep.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we are not going to sit down till he comes.”

Second Samuel, now David’s been king for a while and a message is sent by Nathan the prophet. 2 Samuel 7, verse 8, “Now therefore, thus [says the Lord] to My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and [I] have made you a great name, like the name of the great men who are on the earth.”’” “I took you from extraordinarily ordinary and made you great because I was with you.” David recognized this. You can look at verse 18. 2 Samuel 7:18, David is sitting before the Lord, and he says, Lord, “Who am I, O Lord…? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” You know why David was a man after God’s own heart? Because he never lost that awareness that deep down he was just an ordinary man that God was doing extraordinary things through.

And that can be anybody. There is no limit to the usefulness of someone who will lay self aside and make room for the working of the Holy Spirit in their hearts—what He can do through that person. There is no limit; it’s unlimited. Why? Because if you have God in you, and with God all things are possible, then anything is possible through you if you’re surrendered to God. But you have got to know that it is God and it’s not you, that we’re all people, we’re all just one breath away from the grave, we’re one heartbeat away from the grave. That makes you pretty ordinary, right? Nothing that prevents anyone here from escaping the next meteor shower. It’s just the grace of God. And that sort of levels the playing field when we realize how mortal we really are. David knew that.

And it’s not just David. It’s not just the men. What about Esther? Talk about ordinary. I mean, she was a dedicated person, but she was a captive, didn’t even have a mother and father. She was an orphan in a foreign land, and just out of the blue, because someone spotted she had natural beauty (evidently she had never thought of herself that way), she is taken to the palace. And maybe it was—you know what I think it was—the master of the eunuchs for the king of Persia, the thing that attracted him the most to Esther, where he gave her the best clothes and some of the best treatment, was her humble attitude. She didn’t go strutting like a beauty queen through the courts of Persia during that trial period. She realized, “For whatever person God has me here for, whatever purpose it is, and I don’t know what that is, but I’ll just keep my mind open.” The next thing you know, because of her humble attitude—I’m sure she was beautiful, but I don’t think that’s the only reason that the king picked her. I think there was an air of humility about Esther that was very different from Vashti. (That was the king’s former queen who thought, “I’m not going in.”) And her humility attracted him. And she is chosen to be the next queen.

And then, of course you know what happens. Through the intrigue of what’s happening in the palace of Persia, there is a death decree made where all the Jewish people are to be annihilated. They are all to be exterminated. And Mordecai says, “You’ve got to do something.” And she says, Esther chapter 4, verse 11, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, … he may live. Yet I myself have not been called to go in [before] the king these thirty days.” “Because if I go in uninvited before the king, even though I’m the queen, unless he holds out the golden scepter, it’s a death decree.”

You know what Mordecai says in verse 14. He says, “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” You’ve been wondering why such an ordinary Jewish girl would become the queen of the Persian Empire from nothing. I mean, usually, you get someone who has got some breeding. When you’re looking for a queen, you know, someone’s going to look at their family tree pretty carefully. For her to just come from obscurity! And Mordecai said, “Maybe it’s because God has a plan for you. Maybe you’ve come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” Was God able to do great things? The whole nation ended up being saved because of her courage to go in and risk her life. God did it with an ordinary girl.

Isaiah, one of the greatest prophets in the Bible, chapter 6, verse 5; he has a vision of God. When he sees the goodness of God, he sees by contrast his own sinfulness. Verse 5, he says, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” “I’m just one of these people with unclean lips.” You notice that Moses didn’t think he could speak right, and Isaiah didn’t think he could speak right. A lot of being in God’s service involves sharing, but that’s not the only thing. And then God cleansed him. As soon as he confessed and repented of his sin, God sent an angel with a coal from his heavenly altar, touched his lips. He said, “Your sin is purged, your sin is cleansed.” And then God says, “Who will I send? Who will go for Us?” He looks for a volunteer, you notice that? I mean, couldn’t God have said, “You, come with Me.” But He wants us to volunteer, and He says, “Who will go?” And Isaiah said, “Look, well, since You cleansed me from what I confess to be a problem, I’ll go.”

And the other thing I think is amazing about God’s story, or Isaiah’s story, which are one and the same, immediately after he is cleansed, I mean, it’s within sixty seconds of his repenting, God then calls him and puts him to work. If you wait until you think you’re good enough to work for God, you’ll probably never work for God. As a matter of fact, I worry about those who think they’re good enough. Could it be that your serving God in some capacity is part of your sanctification process? And so if you want to be what God wants you to be, maybe He can do a lot more if you’ll step out and say, “Lord, I’m willing to serve You in some way. Use my gifts for You. Use my time for You.”

Are you involved in serving Jesus in the church somehow? This is His body. The object on earth upon which God bestows His supreme regard is His church. The church is the vehicle that God wants to use to reflect who He is to the world. Jesus is not in the world any more physically. His body in the world right now is you and me. We are His hands and His feet and His eyes and His mouth, and He wants to show the world who He is through us collectively. But if we’re only coming once a week to sit down and evaluate a message, that’s not really being part of Christ’s church. Am I right? I mean, that’s what the Bible teaches. It’s more than putting in your time, saying Yes, I’m a member, and it’s even more than putting in your tithe and your offerings. While we appreciate that, that still doesn’t make you part of the body. It’s service. Are you using your gifts in some capacity to accomplish the great mission? God has got something for everybody to do.

Amos—I like what he says in Amos chapter 7. He’s called to be a prophet, and he had some tough things. If you’ve read the book of Amos, he said some great things. Amos talks about that famine for the word of God. He’s got some great statements. But he answered and he says, Amos 7, verse 14, Amos says to the king, Amaziah, “I was no prophet, Nor was I [the] son of a prophet.” I wasn’t a prophet growing up, I have no prophets in my family tree, “But I was a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit.” I was a farmer and a shepherd. And “then the Lord took me as I followed the flock.” And he doesn’t tell exactly how that happened, but he was like Moses just out following the flock one day, and somehow God got him between the eyes and got his attention. “And the Lord said to me,

‘Go, prophesy to My people.’” He said, “I was about as ordinary as anybody could be.” And God said, “Okay, you’ve done this.” It doesn’t even tell us how old he was—he might have been 60 years old, and all of a sudden… I mean, let’s face it, Moses was 80, right? So some of you have thought, “Pastor Doug, I’m in a rut right now. I don’t know if I could ever do any more for God because it’s been this way for years.” Well, God can change people even later in life, can’t He? Who knows how many years he was taking care of sycamore fruit. Sycamore fruit is like a primitive fig tree. It’s the kind of figs—they’re not even good. The sycamore fruit was the kind of figs they gave the animals. Taking care of figs and taking care of sheep, and one day, God says, “Hey, I want you to be My prophet.” He said, I didn’t, you know, God said, “Go.” He was ordinary. And He called him, and now there’s a book in the Bible bearing his name because God does things through ordinary people.

You read the story of Jeremiah. Jeremiah chapter 1, and if you read verse 4—we’re not going to read the whole book of Jeremiah; that would take a while—but in particular, when God called him. “Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’ Then [I said]:‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” Jeremiah did not see himself as a prophet in the nations, and he had some difficult messages that he was supposed to bear. You know, an amazing thing about Jeremiah, so many people had him on their hit list. The religious leaders had him on their hit list, the king had him on the hit list, and he managed to survive the destruction of Jerusalem. And it was just amazing how God preserved Jeremiah because he was faithful doing what God told him to do.

But he said, “I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” Now, we talked about people who were old that said, “I’m too old, I’m retired.” God called Moses out of retirement, didn’t He? And then you’ve got Jeremiah who says, “I’m too young. I have no experience.” And God says, “I know who you are. I formed you. Before you were born, I figured out what I wanted you to do. I have called you to be a prophet to nations.” He says, “But Lord, I can’t speak. I’m a youth.” And “the Lord said to me,” I’m in verse 7, Jeremiah 1, verse 7, “the Lord said to me: ‘Do not say, “I am a youth,” for you [will] go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.’”

That’s kind of like what Paul said to Timothy. 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul says, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Young people, if you’re following Jesus in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity, in conduct, God can use you! You know, during the time of the Reformation, there were child preachers. God was able to fill these young children with His Spirit, and because they had learned the Word at their parents’ knee, they were able to get up and do boldly what was really forbidden for everyone else to do. And God was preaching, and people were being converted—through children!

And so, some of us think we’re too old, we’re too young, we’re just not smart enough, or we just don’t have the pedigree, or we don’t have the training. God wants everybody with their various gifts to be involved in serving Him in some capacity.

And then jumping to the New Testament. Oh, by the way, before I leave the Old Testament, I don’t have it up on the screen, but I was just thinking about Samson. Now, here is somebody who was called when he was very young. He was given supernatural strength. And God had great plans for Samson, told his parents, “Take care of your health because you’re going to have a boy that’s going to really have a great physique and ability and strength, and be able to fight like a good fighter.” There were no one to fight like him.

And as long as Samson thought that he was something special—. You know, one of the problems was, Manoah only had one boy, named Samson, and I think Samson got spoiled. And because the angel had visited them, they were so careful with him and gave him everything he wanted, and you find out later they couldn’t tell him no even when he wanted to date a Philistine girlfriend. And he just wanted his way. And it wasn’t until Samson became ordinary that God could do His greatest work through him. When he thought, “I’m so talented and I’m so strong. Watch this, I can go stay with the Philistines, I can tempt them, I can flaunt my strength, I can stay with forbidden people. I’ll just tear the gates off the city at night and march up the hill. I can do whatever I want to do because I have this supernatural strength.” Sometimes God gives talents to people and they abuse them. And they might need to be brought to their knees.

And finally… Someone said, “Sin will find you,”—sin caught up with Samson—“sin will blind you, sin will grind you, and sin will bind you.” And after sin caught up with Samson, he was found, and he was bound, and he was blinded, and he was grinding in their grinding house for the Philistines. He repented, and when he realized that he had no strength like anybody—he had no more strength than an ordinary man, the Bible says. Did you know that says that? He became like everybody else. When he finally realized that, God could then answer his prayer and give him supernatural strength. And he killed more men by his death than he did through his life. But God had to bring him to the place where he realized, “Without Me, you can be very ordinary.”

Going to the New Testament—Peter. Luke 5, verse 8. Peter and his brother Andrew, James and John, they started following this young Nazarene Carpenter that John the Baptist said was the Lamb of God. And they weren’t too sure what to think of it, but when Jesus absolutely performed a miracle—they had been fishing all their lives, and after a night of catching nothing, He filled the net, so much so that both boats were sinking under the weight of all the fish they caught by Jesus’ word—Peter realized that he was in the presence of the Divine. And this is Luke 5:8, “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’ … And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.’ So when they … brought [the] boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.”

When he got to the place where he fell down and said, “Lord, I’m a sinful man. I can’t serve You because I’m sinful.” Maybe you can’t talk or you’re too young or you’re too old or you don’t have the heritage or the pedigree or the natural gifts, or maybe you’re just a sinner. But you come to Jesus like you are and say, “Lord, I don’t deserve to follow You,” Jesus says, “Not only do I want to call you, but I’m looking for some good people who will trust Me that will go out and work for Me.” As a matter of fact, they’re not always good.

Part of Peter’s conversion process was serving the Lord. I always thought it was interesting that three years into Peter and the apostles’ following Jesus—they had been out preaching, casting out devils, performing miracles—Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Peter, Satan has desired to have you that he might sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith does not fail; and when you are converted, strengthen the brethren.” When you’re converted! You mean He had him out there teaching and preaching, and he wasn’t thoroughly converted yet? Maybe working for God is part of the conversion process. Because if God only works through perfect, extraordinary people, we’re all in trouble!

You know, someone made a list. I did a little editing to it, but this is what it says. “Noah got drunk and stumbled around naked. Abraham was a liar. Sarah was impatient. Isaac played favorites. Rebekah was deceptive. (She played favorites too.) Jacob was a cheater. Joseph was a dreamer. Moses was a murderer and had a speech impediment. Moses’ sister Miriam was a gossip. Gideon looked for signs. Samson was a womanizer. David had an affair with a married woman and murdered her husband. Elijah battled with discouragement. Elisha was bald. Jonah ran from God. Jeremiah was a whiner. John the Baptist ate bugs. Peter was a bragger. James and John were ambitious. Martha was a worrier. Mary was demon possessed. Zacchaeus was vertically challenged and a crook. Thomas doubted the Lord. Paul was a murderous Pharisee, and Lazarus was dead.”

You’ve heard this before: God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. And so, maybe He’s calling you to serve Him. He might have a special work for you to do, and you think, “Oh, but I’m just ordinary.”

You know, I read a story this week. You ever heard of Harry Winston? There’s a famous jewelry company named Harry Winston. As a matter of fact, I understand they own one quarter of the diamonds in the largest mine of Canada. But it began with this famous jeweler. He started the company. Harry Winston was one of the most famous jewelers and a diamond broker. He is the one who donated—you’ve heard of the Hope Diamond? Harry Winston is the one who donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution back in 1958 after owning it for a decade—very wealthy man. And he has an office; as a matter of fact, I think there’s a picture of it. Yeah, his office is still there. That’s a picture of him on a corner of 5th Avenue.

And one day, he was expecting the delivery of one of the most rare diamonds in the world. I think it was the Crown of Charlemagne, a 37.5 carat sky blue diamond. And all of the reporters came. Everyone wanted to look at this, one of the most exquisite, rare diamonds in the world that, I think, had been part of the crown of King Charlemagne. And they’re waiting for the armored car to come up the street, and the reporters were there, and a lot of the elite of society were there, and a number of other people who were just gathered in New York were there, all waiting to see the delivery of this great diamond.

It so happened they were blocking the whole sidewalk so the postman couldn’t get up his route. And the postman kept trying to get around the corner, and people kept pushing him back. And he was trying to make his way through the crowd because he figured he needed to make his rounds. But some thought, “Oh you just want to get closer and see the diamond yourself.” And so it was quite a struggle that ensued for a while, and some people were standing out on the street looking to the right and left, waiting for this police escort motorcade to come with the armored car and deliver this very valuable diamond.

Finally, the postman was persistent, and he pushed his way through the crowd, came up to Harry Winston, and handed him a little brown package tied with a string. Winston looked aghast when he saw the return address on it, and he undid the string and opened the packet, pulled out a box, and in front of everybody there on the street corner, he pulled out the Charlemagne Diamond and held it up glistening. Nobody had expected it to come in the mail in a brown paper bag. And you know, I think sometimes the world would be surprised the wrapping that God uses for His greatest gifts.

Jesus is an example of that. He came in very common wrapping. Don’t even known what he looked like, but it’s what He said because God’s Spirit was in Him. And what God did in the world through Christ He wants to do in the world through us. God wants to use ordinary people, and He wants to use you—every one of us—in some capacity in His service.

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Is It a Sin to Be Tempted? (PB) by Joe Crews

Is It a Sin to Be Tempted? (PB) by Joe Crews
God's Promises




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