Ordinary People–Extraordinary Results!

Christ doesn’t need our ability. But our Availability

SCRIPTURE:  Matthew 4:12-23

Intro

If you think you’re too small to have an impact.- try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.

Our scripture text starts by saying, “Now when Jesus heard that John was delivered up, he withdrew into Galilee” (v. 12).  It then tells us that Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (v. 17).

This is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  Matthew has told us about Jesus’ birth (chapter 1)–the visit of the Wise Men (chapter 2)–the ministry of John the Baptist in the wilderness–the baptism of Jesus (chapter 3)–and the temptation of Jesus.  It is at that point that Jesus officially kicks off his ministry.  He calls four disciples–Peter and Andrew–James, and John.

It’s interesting to note the kind of people that Jesus called:

o They were brothers–two sets of brothers.  Peter and Andrew were brothers, as were James and John.

o They were fishermen.  Peter and Andrew were casting a net into the sea when Jesus called, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men” (v. 19).  James and John were helping their father repair nets when Jesus called them.  All four men dropped what they were doing and followed Jesus.

o All four men were ordinary people.  They weren’t the worst, and they weren’t the best.  They weren’t poor, and they weren’t rich.

o As far as we know, these four men were successful fishermen.  That meant that they worked hard and worked smart.  It meant that they used their hands and their heads.  It meant that they seldom went hungry, but they just as seldom had money left over at the end of the week.

You would think Jesus could have done better!  You would think that the Son of God could have anyone he wanted–and you would think that he would want the best!  You would think that Jesus would assemble a team to beat all teams–a team of superstars–of super-disciples!  Each disciple should specialize in a particular skill:

But those weren’t the kind of people that Jesus chose.  Jesus chose Peter and Andrew–James and John.  He chose ordinary fishermen.

o Perhaps Jesus couldn’t find the kind of people he needed.

o Or maybe he didn’t feel like he needed great people.

o Perhaps he preferred ordinary people.

o Maybe he felt more comfortable with ordinary people.

o Or maybe he was making a point.

o He may have been telling us that it is all right to be ordinary.

o He may have been saying that God can use ordinary people.

o Perhaps he was trying to encourage us. After all, most of us are pretty ordinary.

o Maybe he was telling us that if we respond as these four disciples responded, we too can change the world.

I think that those possibilities have much to commend, but the bottom line is that God prefers to work with ordinary people.

o If God calls a brilliant person–a person with a genius IQ–then people will give that brilliant person credit for whatever happens.

o If God calls a rich and famous person, then people will give that person credit for whatever happens.

But we aren’t likely to accomplish much for God unless we’re God-powered–Holy Spirit powered–so God wants us to know that it was God who achieved the results.  So, God often prefers to work through ordinary people.

That’s Good News!  If God wanted only the rich and famous, we would be left out in the cold.  The call of these four disciples–Peter and Andrew–James and John–tells us that God can ordinary people and enable ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results.  That’s Good News for us because we’re ordinary people–but God can use us to do extraordinary things.

. I was a young woman in my 20s and only came to faith in Christ for a few years. I was training as a nurse then and met other nurses working in a neighbouring hospital. They told me about the success of their Nurse’s Christian fellowship. Once I learned from them exactly what the fellowship was all bout by attending one of their meetings, I wanted to start one in my hospital. With the help of my Pastor, the group grew from 2 to 30 in no time at all. I am nothing special- just an ordinary person with ordinary ideas, and God did extraordinary things. We had four nurses give their lives to the Lord, two were baptised through that group, and several patients came to faith and were baptised.

When Jesus called these four fishermen, he didn’t invite them to read his book.  He invited them to follow him. 

He invited them to become his disciples. 

Jesus allowed these four men to live with him and observe him at close hands daily.  By doing so, they learned much more than Jesus’ ideas.  They became familiar with his moods.  They observed how he treated other people.  They saw how he dealt with problems and opposition.  They began to copy his manner of speaking and his gestures.  Slowly but surely, they became like Jesus in thought, word and deed.

That should speak powerfully to us about discipleship.  It’s not enough to accumulate knowledge from the scriptures about Jesus.  Becoming disciples involves spending time with Jesus.  We, of course, don’t have the opportunity to sit down with Jesus in the flesh. Still, we can develop an intimate relationship with Jesus through reading the scriptures–prayer–and faithful obedience.    Discipleship is “heart knowledge,” not just “head knowledge.”

Jesus chose these four ordinary men–and a few others like them–some better, some worse–some men, some women–and those disciples turned the world upside down.  It’s now two thousand years later, and everything has changed.  The Scribes and the Pharisees are gone.  The Roman Empire is gone.  But all over the world, people worship Jesus Christ.  That happened because Christ called these ordinary people to be his disciples and empowered them to do his work.

Christ calls us too!  Christ calls some of us to be preachers and others to be teachers.  Christ calls some of us to be youth leaders and others to be youth group members.  Christ calls some to be missionaries in Africa and others to be missionaries in the places where we live and work day by day.  Christ calls some of us to sing in the choir or play musical instruments and others to enjoy the music. 

But for all of Us- Christ calls all of us to love!  Christ calls all of us to bear witness!  Christ calls all of us to spread the Good News!

 Martin Luther  SAID : believe in Christ, and do your duty in that state of life to which God has called you.

If we obey and heed Christ’s call, he will make things happen.  Christ doesn’t need our ability.  He just needs our availability, so others will see the great light!

 Listen for his call!  Listen to hear what he is calling you to be–and what he is calling you to do.

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Remember to live life on purpose, in Hope. Faith and Love

Paula Rose Parish💕

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Christ is calling you!

A minister, arriving at a new pastorate, was invited to join a civic club. Introducing him, the speaker facetiously said that they were electing him “chair of the board” for the club. The minister said, “Gentlemen, I appreciate the great honour that you have conferred on me. When I came to this community, I expected to be the shepherd of the flock. Our text from John reminds us that Jesus is not the Chairman of the Board, ‘ but is the Good Shepherd of the flock. I like that because shepherds take care of sheep. The shepherd:

o Leads the sheep,
o Provides food for them,
o Finds them safe lodging,
o Searches for them when they are lost,
o Tends their wounds when they are hurt,
o And protects them from wild animals.

People didn’t think very highly of shepherds in Jesus’ day.

o Shepherds sometimes allowed their sheep to graze on other people’s land.

o Shepherds were here today and gone tomorrow, moving from pasture to pasture. Sometimes they left town without paying their bills.

o Sometimes people found prized possessions missing after a shepherd had moved on.

o Shepherds lived lonely, isolated lives. They seldom developed much in the way of social graces.

o Shepherds were sometimes not allowed to appear as witnesses in court, because people didn’t trust them.

But Jesus called himself not any old shepherd, but “the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). He was glad to identify with shepherds despite the shepherd’s humble status–or, perhaps, because of their humble status. Jesus had plenty of pride, but none of it was false. He could identify with shepherds because shepherds nurtured and protected their sheep. That is what Jesus came to do.

Jesus said that the shepherd “calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out” (v. 3). Day in and day out, Jesus calls us. A shepherd calls sheep that have wandered away so that they might return to his protection. Fanny Crosby captured the image well in her old gospel song….

Jesus is tenderly calling you home–
Calling today, calling today…
Jesus is pleading, O hear now his voice–
Hear him today, hear him today.

When Jesus calls us, he calls us by name. Our names are important because they identify us personally. A church bulletin board read, “Everybody welcome!” That sounds friendly, but the Good Shepherd doesn’t say, “Everybody welcome!” The Good Shepherd “calls his own sheep by name.” Jesus says, “Sam, follow me! Jack, follow me! Sharon, follow me! Sue, follow me! Carol, follow me!” He knows us personally and calls us by name.

Jesus not only calls us by name but also calls us to live extraordinary lives. Some years ago, a large oil company needed a public relations officer in the Far East. They needed someone familiar with the language and customs; they needed someone who knew the local people. In those days, not many Americans knew the Orient, but the company located an American missionary who seemed perfect. They offered him the job and named a salary several times his missionary pay. He turned them down. They increased the offer, but still, he declined. “What’s wrong?” they asked. “Isn’t the salary big enough?” The missionary thought for a moment, and then responded, “The salary is big enough, but the job isn’t!”

When Christ calls us, he calls us to more than a large salary. He calls us to large lives.

Today, many seminarians are people in their 30s or 40s or even older. Many of them determined that their lives had been too small, so they answered Christ’s call to a larger life. Some have made great sacrifices to do so.

I visited London and worship in the church that had a guest preacher–a man from the congregation who had been recently ordained. Christ had called him to ministry, and he had quit his job to attend seminary. By the time I heard him preach, he had completed his studies and was preparing to take a church. He preached a good sermon and shared his story. The man had been a corporate lawyer , earning a six-figure salary. Six figures is a lot of money. Not many ministers make six figures–and this man had the potential to earn millions as a lawyer. But, at some point, he said, felt the call of God on his life. After much soul-searching, he quit his job and enrolled in seminary. Christ had called him from a generous salary to a great life and he is a blessing to those who benefit from his ministry. Christ doesn’t call all of us, to study for the ministry, but does call all of us, to the ministry of one sort or another. It is not important whether he calls us to things great or small, because God enlarges everything that he touches.

o God called a widow to put her last penny in the collection plate. Jesus pointed her out to his disciples and said that people would remember her for the rest of time.

o Christ called a boy to give five loaves and two fishes. When the boy obeyed, Jesus used the child’s lunch to feed five thousand people.

o Christ called a man to use his gift of hospitality. That man put two extra plates on his table every Sunday and invited two young people from a nearby school to share his Sunday dinner. He did this for many years, and in the process led many young people to Christ. When he died, the funeral home ran out of space, because so many people came to honour the man who had honoured Christ with an extra plate.

o Christ calls each of us to some sort of service. David McKenna, in his book, Love Your Work, tells of a tombstone in a village graveyard. The epitaph read…

Thomas Cobb mended shoes in this village for forty years to the glory of God!

Imagine that! If you needed a pair of shoes mended–or a car repaired–or a house built–or your plumbing unstopped–wouldn’t you like to meet a cobbler–or a mechanic–or a carpenter–or a plumber–whom Christ had called to practice their trade to the glory of God! I have known people like that. It’s a joy to work with them.

o Just think of the many acts of Christian service to which Christ calls people every week in this church. People prepare and serve communion, cook dinners for homeless people, sing in the choir, plant flowers, pay bills, pull weeds, clean toilets, attend meetings, type minutes of meetings, and a perform a host of other duties for the glory of God. (NOTE TO THE PREACHER: Tailor this list to fit your congregation.)

o Each of these small duties might seem inconsequential by itself but, woven together, they become a chorus of praise. Jakob Boehme put it this way. He said:

We are all strings, in the concert of God’s joy.

And so we are. Choir members know how important it is that each voice be precise in pitch and timing. One person’s hesitancy muddies the whole line. Each of us must answer Christ’s call as precisely as possible–to be in perfect harmony with his will. George Eliot wrote a poem about the great violinmaker, Antonio Stradivari. God had called Stradivari to craft fine instruments. Eliot put these words in his mouth……….

If my hand slacked I could rob God – God could not make Antonio Stradivari’s violins – without Antonio.

Jesus says that the shepherd “calls his own sheep by name.” He calls us, each of us, to use who we are and what we have to bring glory to his name. He calls us to obey him–to go where he calls–to follow him faithfully–even foolishly.

What has God called you to do for him? (NOTE: Tailor this list for your congregation.)

o Has he called you to serve as a deacon or an elder?
o Has he called you to serve on the church board?
o Has he called you to cook for a church dinner or for the homeless?
o Has he called you to keep the financial records or to fold the bulletins?
o Has he called you to teach a Sunday school class or to sponsor a youth group?

God calls each of us to some sort of Christian service. But first, he calls us to receive his transforming love into our lives and to love him in return. First, he calls us to let Him be Lord of our lives.

Today, Christ is calling you! He is calling you by name! He is calling you to love him and to serve him. Listen carefully! Listen prayerfully! And answer his call today.

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Live Life on Purpose in Hope. Faith. Love XX


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