Oddly, God loves to choose the most unlikely, untrained, and imperfect folks to accomplish amazing things. Abraham lied when under pressure, Moses killed a man before he became Israel’s deliverer, King David’s family dismissed him as only a shepherd boy, and the apostle Peter was a fisherman with no formal religious training.
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
Note that those words were written to a congregation of believers in Jesus, not to the clergy. In case you are feeling inadequate and untrained when the Spirit calls, please remember that this is the way God usually works so that he will be guaranteed to receive all the glory.
Let’s look at Paul for a moment. He was Jewish, trained as a Pharisee, and an expert in Old Testament teaching. No one was better equipped to take the good news to the Jewish people but that is not where God placed Paul. Instead, he used him to spread the gospel among the Gentiles!
When God’s Spirit moves, his purposes are revealed and accomplished in ways that no committee, personality test, or computer program could ever figure out. Christ did not die on the cross so that we would spend our time as Christians on earth merely sitting around waiting for his return. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). Jesus said there is a shortage of workers, but the actual work will be done by God’s Spirit through you and me doing things beyond our wildest imagination. It all begins when you offer yourself to serve.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.
“[Jesus] did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). Unbelief always hinders the fullness of God’s revelation and blessing and Scripture makes it clear that God does not take it lightly. He gives us an example of this in the story of King Asa, a righteous king and descendant of David who ruled over Judah (read the account in 2 Chronicles 14 through 16).
During King Asa’s reign, he wiped out idolatry and brought revival to the land. Then, as the people enjoyed God’s blessing, a huge army from Ethiopia invaded Judah, causing Asa to turn to the Lord in prayer, calling out for help. Judah won a tremendous victory in one of the greatest miracles of faith in the history of God’s people. After the battle, a prophet came to Asa and, rather than congratulating him on the great victory, he issued a warning: “King Asa, as long as you rely on the Lord and fully trust in him, you will be blessed. You will win victory after victory and the Lord will walk with you. But if you turn away from him and trust in your flesh, chaos and disorder will follow you.”
King Asa faithfully walked with the Lord and Judah was greatly blessed by God, as the prophet had said. But then another crisis came and Judah was attacked again. The enemy captured a town just five miles from Jerusalem, Judah’s capital, and cut off the vital trade route into the city, which could cause Judah’s entire economy to collapse.
This time, King Asa panicked and instead of trusting the Lord, he turned to an enemy, the king of Syria, for help. Unbelievably, Asa stripped Judah’s treasury of all its wealth and offered it to the Syrians to deliver Judah — an act of absolute unbelief. God had in motion his plan to deliver Judah but Asa aborted it by acting in fear. Because Asa did not trust the Lord, from then on Judah had wars.
Acting in unbelief always brings turmoil and confusion — no exceptions. But trusting God’s Word will enable you to stand firm in the face of any challenge and let God bring victory.
Many voices in the church today say Christians must show a new kind of love. They are talking about a love in which biblical truth must bend with the times. According to their gospel, no personal changes are necessary when one accepts Christ. Indeed, no repentance is needed. Rather, the goal in presenting this gospel is simply to break down any barrier that could be considered a stumbling block to a person’s acceptance of Christ.
Is it possible that we as Christians have allowed the fullness of Christ’s light to become partly darkened? Jesus warned about the danger of allowing our light to become darkness. “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going” (John 12:35). According to Jesus, any desire for worldly acceptance causes our light to darken.
You can easily find acceptance in the world. People will call you friend, admire you, even love the kind of gospel you preach. How? It happens when you allow the ways of the world to seep into your soul. You can cast off the reproach of Christ, convincing yourself you can mix with darkness and still be a light to the world. But it does not work!
At the Last Supper, Christ told his disciples, “A new commandment I give to you” (John 13:34). This new commandment was not about methods of evangelism. He had already told him they were to go into all the world preaching the gospel and assured them they would need the Holy Spirit’s help to fulfill that command. So what was this new commandment? Jesus told them, “As I have loved you … also love one another” (13:34).
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (13:35). Our love for one another in the church must be demonstrated in our deeds; only love in action will get the attention of a lost generation. I encourage you to ask the Lord for a baptism of love so that you can minister to your Christian brothers and sisters and also bring others to him.
Jesus said he came to seek out and save the lost. This was the same One who had power to subdue the very winds and waves, yet he came as a humble servant. The gospels tell us he listened patiently to people’s heartbreaking cries. Multitudes pleaded with Christ to deliver them from their afflictions and he met their needs. He healed the sick, opened blind eyes, unstopped deaf ears, loosed tied tongues, and made cripples to walk. Jesus set captives free from every form of bondage — he even raised the dead.
No one ever loved humankind more than Jesus; he grieved over the multitudes before him, seeing them as lost sheep in need of a shepherd. The truth is, nobody in history should be more revered, respected and loved than Jesus Christ. He performed works of compassion for the people he met; he wept over the world’s spiritual blindness and poured out his life for all. But in spite of the good things Jesus did, the world hated him without cause.
What did Jesus do that he should be so despised, both in his own day and today? Simply put, the world hated him because he came as a light to deliver all from darkness. He declared: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). Jesus also told us, “Everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:20).
Jesus promised to deliver people from their chains of darkness and pledged to set men everywhere free from all satanic power. However, what we Christians see as a holy gift of deliverance and liberty is viewed by the world as a form of bondage. Such people love their sins and have no desire to be free from them.
The Light of the world is come and dwells within you. As you embrace this truth and walk in the Spirit, you will be able to shine forth his light to those around you.
When our fear becomes overwhelming, we must remind ourselves of how great our God is. We need to recall all his great deliverances for those who have trusted in him, and claim the same majestic power for our present trial. Fear cannot get a stranglehold on any servant who has a vision of God’s greatness and majesty.
Nehemiah understood this well. He paced back and forth as Jerusalem was surrounded by a fierce coalition of nations ready to attack. A weary remnant was working around the clock to restore Jerusalem’s walls against these adversaries. They had to toil with a hammer in one hand and a sword in the other. As the hours ticked away, fear began to set in.
How were they able to resist succumbing to fear? Nehemiah reminded them of how great and mighty their God is: “I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight” (Nehemiah 4:14).
That is exactly how Moses dealt with fear in Israel. He instructed the people, “If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’ — you shall not be afraid of them, but you shall remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt … You shall not be terrified of them; for the Lord your God, the great and awesome God, is among you” (Deuteronomy 7:17-18, 21).
Moses was saying, “You are going to face many great enemies who are more powerful than you. You will wonder how you can ever gain victory against such odds but you must remember the awesome might of your God. Remind yourselves how faithful he was to deliver you in the past.”
“He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things” (Deuteronomy 10:21). If your faith is shaken, remind yourself of how mighty your God is. Recount his many deliverances in your life and you will find any grip of fear being broken by a vision of his majesty.