Christianity 201

June 9, 2017

Big Ideas

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
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Today a short excerpt from the blog of Youth Unlimited. (This is a different YU than the one associated with Youth for Christ.) Click the title to read at source.

Don’t be Afraid of the Big Ideas

Do you ever feel too small for your big ideas? God loves to use people who don’t seem important enough to do his most important work. Consider these examples from the Bible:

Elijah- He spent some serious time in prayer and it changed the weather for THREE YEARS! You know the weather, that thing everyone acknowledges is totally out of our control… Elijah affected it through the power of prayer and he was just a guy like us.

17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” James 5:17-18

Moses- This guy got asked to do big things by God and had some serious doubts about his own ability.

10 But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.’”– Exodus 4:10.

But when he put his faith and trust in the Lord’s power working through him, he was able to lead the Israelites out of Egypt through the Red Sea which he separated to make a dry path. Wow, that is a big dream that God used “un-eloquent” Moses for.

Gideon- Gideon was from a small clan that was being ruled and terrorized by a bigger clan, the Midianites. He was scared and felt hopeless when an angel appeared to him and told him that if he went and stood up against the enemy the Lord would make sure he won! Crazy.

15 And he said to him, ‘Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’ 16 And the Lord said to him, ‘But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.’” Judges 6:11-16

Bonus item:
Sometimes we return to previous blog posts from other years. One we used a long time ago was the newsletter from author and missionary Elizabeth Elliot.

When she concluded writing in that forum, she ended her last piece with a hymn written by Anna L. Waring in 1850:

Father, I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me,
And the changes that are sure to come
I do not fear to see;
I ask Thee for a present mind,
Intent on pleasing Thee.

I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child
And guided where I go.

Wherever in the world I am,
In whatsoever estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts
To keep and cultivate .

May 25, 2014

Communication Cutoff Ends; Transmission Restored

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…Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.   I Samuel 3:1b NLT

…And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.  I Samuel 3:1b KJV

It was like the cable carrying messages from God had been cut. The wires had been severed. The obvious question we want to ask is, Why were visions infrequent and messages rare? Perhaps it was necessary to set the stage for the calling of Samuel in this same chapter.

Matthew Henry writes:

The word of the Lord was precious in those days. Now and then a man of God was employed as a messenger upon an extraordinary occasion (as 1 Sam. 2:27), but there were no settled prophets, to whom the people might have recourse for counsel, nor from whom they might expect the discoveries of the divine will. And the rarity of prophecy made it the more precious in the account of all those that knew how to put a right value upon it. It was precious, for what there was (it seems) was private: There was no open vision, that is, there were none that were publicly known to have visions. Perhaps the impiety and impurity that prevailed in the tabernacle, and no doubt corrupted the whole nation, had provoked God, as a token of his displeasure, to withdraw the Spirit of prophecy, till the decree had gone forth for the raising up of a more faithful priest, and then, as an earnest of that, this faithful prophet was raised up.

A few verses later (7) more of this background comes clear:

Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. NLT

Well of course that was true, the text says that really nobody was having messages from the Lord.

Rick Morley writes:

What I find so very interesting here though is that God was calling upon Samuel before Samuel was a man of faith.

It is, of course, why Samuel didn’t know what was going on when God was calling to him in the night. But, isn’t it strange that God was calling upon him before Samuel knew God?

Isn’t it strange when there was in fact a faithful priest, and follower of God, right there?

I’ve marveled for quite sometime now that God calls the strangest people to do His work, and to spread His Word. He’ll call an old man like Abraham, and a young girl like Mary. He’ll call a man who killed a guy like Moses, or a someone who was complicit in the death of a Christian like Paul. He’ll call someone who is so morally compromised like David, and God will even call pagan-Zoroastrian-astrologers from the east by sending them a star.

And here, in First Samuel, God calls someone who is not yet a person of faith.

So often in the  modern church we can get preoccupied with qualifications, status, education, and rank. We’ll want to see a resume and a few letters after someone’s name before we issue a call—or we’ll deny someone a position because they aren’t technically “a member” or been through confirmation yet.

But, if the call of Samuel says anything—amidst all the calls of the Scriptures—it’s that God calls whomever God decides to call, and oftentimes God calls the most unlikely of people.

In fact that’s not even the exception to the rule, it seems to be the rule.

And, the gem that’s buried in this text is that Eli knows this. Eli could have sent the boy off to bed, chiding him for his lack of faith, or his immaturity.

I mean really, what kind of God would call someone like Samuel?

…Or David, or Moses, or Mary, or Paul, or Peter…

…or me?

May we, the People of God, be granted the wisdom of Eli, AND the willingness of Samuel, when we draw the “least-likely-candidate” straw.

And God comes calling in the night.