1. The Important Ability Is Availability
Mike just carried us through the book of Amos and showed us how God used this Old Testament prophet. The Bible is filled with stories of men and women, and even children, that God used in mighty ways. Some were old and some were young, some were rich, and some were poor. Some came from a background of parents and grandparents who served God and others were like Amos, who said, "I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit:" (Amos 7:14) They came to God with different abilities, but the common thread among them was availability. Sometimes with excuses and protests they questioned God's plan, but as they yielded themselves to His will, they were used in mighty ways. Let's look at some people God used to carry out His will.
2. Serve God In Faithfulness
"Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." (I Corinthians 4:1-2)
As we begin our series on "People God Used" my thoughts are to look at how God used different people in the Bible and see how we can place ourselves in God's hands. We often see Bible characters as giants in history with special abilities and characteristics which made them better than we could ever be. But as we look in the scriptures we see that God does not require specific traits as wealth, for everything we have belongs to Him, or great knowledge, for all wisdom comes from God, or human strength and ability, for He made our bodies. James 5:17 tells us, "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months." The men and women of the Bible were men and women like us, but they had a faithful walk with God and accomplished great things through His name. The main requirement I find for service is in I Corinthians 4:2, "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." God wants us to be faithful. No matter what you are called to do for His service, glorious, or small and not recognized, be faithful.
3. Faithful In Our Worship
We can find many faithful men and women that God used in Hebrews 11, so let's turn to those scriptures.
"1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh." (Hebrews 11:1-4)
Abel was faithful in his worship. If we are going to be used of God, we must be faithful in our worship. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was He replied, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." (Matthew 22:37) That is true worship. Many in the Old Testament set up an altar to worship God. Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David and Solomon are a few. God used the three Hebrew children when they were faithful in their worship and refused to worship the image that King Nebuchadnezzar set up. "But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." They were thrown into a fiery furnace and the Lord delivered them. "Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God." (Daniel 3:18 & 28) We need to be faithful in our worship.
4. Faithful In Our Walk
"And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." (Genesis 5:21-24) I have always liked verse 24, "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." The Old Testament does not tell us much about Enoch, but we can find more about his faith in Hebrews 11:5-6. "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." We also find Enoch in verses 14 and 15 of the book of Jude. "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." Amos reminds us of a simple truth in our walk with God. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3) Another simple thought of walking with God is that, in order to walk with someone, you have to be going in the same direction. If we want to be faithful in our walk with God we must be in agreement with God and be going in the path God is leading. Also, to walk with someone you must have the same pace. We often want to rush ahead of God's plans, or lag behind. Let's check our lives and see how faithful we are in our walk with God so that we can be used by God.
5. Faithful In Our Work
When we worship God, and walk with God, then we can work for God. Our next example in the list of faithful servant in Hebrews 11 is Noah. "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." (Hebrews 11:7) We can see in Noah's life that he worshipped God. "And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar." (Genesis 8:20) We are told that he walked with God in Genesis 6:9, "These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." And we know that Noah was faithful in his work. God told him to build an ark, and gather food for all the animals, "Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he." (Genesis 6:22) Not only did Noah work with his hands in building the ark, but he worked for the Lord. II Peter 2:5 tells us that Noah was a "preacher of righteousness". Noah worked hard to save the world, but only eight people, his wife, his three sons, and their wives were saved. He may have been discouraged that his brothers and sisters did not believe him in his work. He was probably disappointed that his nieces and nephews did not follow him in his walk. He must have grown disheartened that his friends did not join him in his worship. But he remained faithful! Can the world say of us, as God's Word said of Noah? "And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him." (Genesis 7:5)
6. Faithful In Our Weakness
I have tried to be faithful in my worship, my walk, and my work, but the message for today is where I am living now, "Faithful In Our Weakness". I have been blessed with good health most of my life and have enjoyed serving the Lord and helping others. With the breathing problems I have had recently it has been necessary to rely on others for help and it has been difficult to accept the fact that I can't do the things I usually do. I am thankful for the prayers and help from Christian family and friends, but I confess that there are days that I get discouraged. I am now on the road to recovery and praise God for renewed strength day by day. I believe that God put this devotional theme on my heart to encourage others to be faithful in weakness. Eliphaz told Job, "Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees. But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled." (Job 4:3-5) Job was faithful in helping others in need, but did he remain faithful in his own weakness? Yes! Look at Job 19:25-27. "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." Job lost his children, his wealth, and his health, but he could still say, "I know that my redeemer liveth." There are so many people today that are being hindered by weakness. It may be physical, mental, spiritual, or even financial, but I want to encourage you with the fact that you are not alone! And even though the road you are on may be rocky and steep and your strength almost gone, try to stay faithful. The Apostle Paul is a great example of someone that stayed faithful in weakness. Through Christ, he could say, "For when I am weak, then am I strong."
"7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (II Corinthians 12:7-10)
7. Don't Judge The Service Of Others
Last week we looked at people who served God faithfully. This week I hope to look at how we sometimes misjudge those who are serving the Lord. In the epistle of James he gives the example of a well dressed man with a gold ring coming to the assembly and also a poor man dressed in vile raiment. If we tell the rich man to sit in a good place and the poor to stand to the side or sit under the footstool, we "are become judges of evil thoughts". Paul also warned the church at Corinth, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God." (I Corinthians 4:3-5) Are we guilty of judging people that come to our churches by the way they dress? Do we think those who have musical talent are more spiritual in their service for the Lord. How often do we walk the length of the church to shake hands with certain people, or slip down the side aisle to avoid others? Jesus said plain and simply, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Matthew 7:1) We cannot and should not judge others in their service for the Lord. In reading the story of Sodom and Gomorrha we might misjudge Lot who sat in the gate of Sodom. But we need to leave judgment for the Lord. "And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:" (II Peter 2:6-9) "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (II Corinthians 5:10)
8. Don't Judge People By Where They Live
I was reading in Exodus and God showed me something that I think is very interesting. "Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them." (Exodus 3:6-9) God had promised Abraham that his seed would be blessed. But here are the children of Israel, living in bondage to the Egyptians for 430 years. God tells Moses that He is going to lead them out of Egypt and give them "a land flowing with milk and honey.; unto the place of the Canaanites..." Who were these people? The Canaanites were the cursed sons of Noah. "And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren... And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth, And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite, And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad." (Genesis 9:24-25 & 10:15-18) Do you see what I see? The blessed children of Abraham were living in slavery and the cursed children of Canaan were living in the good land of milk and honey. We are so wrong when we judge people by where they live. Years ago I went to a house and it was so beautiful. The mother was pretty and had a good job. The children were doing well in school. I remember thinking as I drove away, "She has it all, what more could she want?" Not long after that she left her husband and family for another man and gave up her beautiful home, her job, and even her children. We can't judge people by where they live. With the employment situation as it is in our area, many have lost homes that they worked for and took care of for many years. The people living in the best houses are not always the best servants of the Lord.
9. Don't Judge People By Their Wealth
There is a movement among some religious groups that say if you have enough faith you will be wealthy and healthy, with no troubles or problems in this life. There were some rich men that God used. Abraham was the father of the Jewish nation and Genesis 13:2 tells us, "And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold." In Ruth 2:1 we see another wealthy man who was Naomi's kinsman redeemer. "And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz." There were also poor people who were faithful to God. When the angel of the LORD told Gideon that he would save Israel from the Midianites Gideon said, "Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." (Judges 6:15) We also have an example given by the Lord. "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." (Mark 12:41-44) Jesus commended her for being faithful in her poverty. I have often seen Jeremiah 29:11 posted on plaques. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." What bothers me is that these people don't read the previous verse, "For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place." The "end" and time of peace was to come after 70 years in bondage. The same thing is true of Philippians 4:19, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." In verse 16 Paul said, "For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity." They had been so faithful in giving that Paul assured them the Lord would supply all their need. I have seen this verse printed on handbags, but how much money has been taken out of those bags and given to the Lord. Back to my title, "Don't Judge People By Their Wealth." All that we have came from God and belongs to God and we need to be thankful, good stewards of what He provides.
10. Don't Judge People By Where They Are From
When we come into this world, we don't have a choice concerning our place, our race, or our face, but we do have the choice of receiving God's grace. I was born in possibly the most advanced nation, at the most advanced time in history. I have visited several states in our country. But I did not get to choose where I was born, and there are some people who never get the opportunity to travel far from home. We should not judge people by where they were born. Ruth was from Moab, Rahab lived in Jericho, and Esther became a queen in a strange Gentile country even though she was a Jew. Next on the list, we did not have a choice of our family or race. I am thankful that I was born into a Christian home with parents that taught me to love the Lord. I have been blessed! I should never judge someone by his or her family or race. Let's look at the example of Moses. "And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it." (Numbers 12:1-2) God gave Miriam leprosy for their judgment against Moses. We should never be prejudiced against a person because of his or her race. We also did not have a choice with our face, or the way we look. I have heard many times that I look like my Mom. And once on vacation a young girl started talking to Susanna and said something about her mother. Her friend looked at me and then at her and said, "How do you know that's her mother." I have never forgotten what the little girl said. "She has the same shirt and she has the same face!" God made us who we are as David said in Psalms 139:14, "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." When we are born the first time we can't choose our place, our race, or our face. But we can be born again by choosing God's grace. In John 3:7 Jesus said, "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." He also said, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18) Will you choose God's grace? Don't waste your life complaining about things that you did not choose or cannot change. Ask the Lord to save you and change your future. Don't wait too long. The Lord is coming back and I believe it will be soon. I close with the last two verses in the Bible. "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." (Revelation 22:20-21)
11. Don't Judge People By How Spiritual They Appear To Be
The book of Acts tells of the growth of the early church after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the end of chapter four Barnabas sold land and gave the money to the apostles for distribution to those in need. Chapter five begins with the story of Ananias and Sapphira, his wife, who sold a possession and gave a portion to the apostles. That seemed to be a good spiritual act of kindness, but they lied and said they were giving all of the money. "But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him." (Acts 5:3-6) Sapphira went in at a later time and also lied about the money, and she too, fell down dead. We are not to "act" spiritual to be seen of others, and we certainly cannot judge the spirituality of others. Only God knows the heart.
"1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:1-6)
12. Don't Judge People By The Way They Look
God created Adam and Eve in perfection. Have you ever wondered what they looked like? I don't think they looked anything like the media today presents beauty. We are pushed on all sides by the media to seek a certain image. Those that model beauty today usually weigh much less than normal and are often barely dressed. I know that there is a problem with obesity in our nation, but we should not judge others by how they look. (As far as the way people dress, God's Word tells us to dress modestly. "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." (I Timothy 2:9-10)) The media does not stop there. We are told to use certain hair products and make-up. There have been many times that I had "a bad hair day" and I have met friends in the grocery store who apologized for their hair. Isn't it sad that we might try to avoid certain friends because we are afraid they will judge us by the way we look. And now with all the commercials about teeth that don't look their whitest, I can imagine some people afraid to smile so others won't see their teeth. Why do we let others make us paranoid about the way we look? People today can change the color of their eyes with contacts and some choose to change a lot more than that with surgery. Taking away the wrinkles may make you appear younger, but that does not add years to the life you have left. One more thing and I will close. Shoes. When I was young I was sometimes ridiculed because of my big feet. We don't choose how big our feet are. Also, does it really matter what brand of shoe you wear? I hope that I never get so vain that I judge someone by their shoes. If we look at people God used in the Bible we find that King Saul was taller than everyone and Zacchaeus was short, Eli was a heavy old man and Samuel was a small little boy, the priests dressed in fine linen and John the Baptist was clothed in camel's hair. God made our bodies and we are to live to glorify God. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
13. Don't Judge Others By Their Education
Preachers have always been judged by their education, or lack of education. We can find several examples in the scriptures. Moses, who was brought up in Pharaoh's schools, felt unworthy to lead God's people out of Egypt. Maybe he had trouble speaking the language of the Hebrews, or maybe his problem was speaking the language of the Egyptian people. "And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue." (Exodus 4:10) The churches had conflicts over the preachers of the early church period. "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" (I Corinthians 1:12-13) Paul was a very religious, very educated man. "Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." (Philippians 3:4-7) He also said in I Corinthians 14:18, "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:" But of Peter and John we read, "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13) Being used of God was not determined by their ability or education, but by their availibility in yielding themselves to the Lord. We should not judge people by their education or the way they present themselves. The greatest example is how the Lord Jesus was judged by those who knew him as the carpenter.
"1 And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.
2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?
3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.
5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.
6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching." (Mark 6:1-6)
14. Bezaleel And Aholiab - Called By Name And Filled With The Spirit Of God
As we continue with our study of "People Who God Used" we will look this week at individuals and some of their attributes which God used. We begin with Bezaleel and Aholiab. God showed Moses a pattern of how He wanted things completed for the Tabernacle. God even told Moses who He wanted to do the work. The scriptures are very explanatory, but I do want to say that if God calls you for a special work, be sure that He will give you the wisdom and understanding to complete the task.
"1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:
3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,
4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,
5 And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.
6 And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee;
7 The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle,
8 And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense,
9 And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot,
10 And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office,
11 And the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do." (Exodus 31:1-11)
"Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded." (Exodus 36:1)
15. Ehud - A Left-Handed Judge
There is a cycle in the book of Judges that continues again and again. Israel serves God, then they forget God and serve idols, God allows them to be oppressed by surrounding countries, they turn to God, God delivers them through a judge and they serve God again. After the death of Joshua, Othniel (Caleb's son-in-law) is the first judge. The second judge is a man named Ehud. God used him because he was left-handed. After the Children of Israel served Eglon, king of Moab, eighteen years Ehud made a two-edged dagger a cubit (about 16-18 inches) long. Because he was left-handed he hid it on his right side. He went to King Eglon and took a present from the people. Ehud told the king that he had a secret errand for him and the king made all his people leave. Ehud killed the king and locked the doors when he fled. Ehud was able to deliver Israel from this wicked king because he was not searched on his right side where the dagger was hidden. You can read this story in Judges 3:12-25. In Judges 20:16 we read of other soldiers that were left-handed. "Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss." Being left-handed may seem like a small thing, but God can use us when we give our all to Him.
16. A Little Maid And What She Knew
Today I want to talk about a little maid who was used by God. We don't know her name, or how young she was. The Syrian Army had a great deliverance over Israel and took some of the Israelites to be servants. Naaman, captain of the host, took a little maid as captive for his wife. This little girl was taken from her parents and from her home to be a servant in a strange land. As you read the scripture notice what she says to her mistress. "Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper. And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy." (II Kings 5:1-3) This little maid knew of the prophet Elisha and the power of God that was demonstrated through him. I have talked about this little maid on several occasions but today I want to ask this question, "How did this little girl know of Elisha and how he was used of God?" I believe she learned it at home from her parents or family. Now, a question that is more important. Do our children know our God? It is obvious this little one believed in the God of Israel. Do our children believe in the power of our God? When our children leave home are they grounded in God's Word enough to continue to follow Him? If we want our children to be used of God it is never too early to teach them about God and His awesome attributes. He is our Savior, our Great Physician, the Good Shepherd, the Alpha and Omega, and we could go on and on. We need to do all we can to teach our children about our God and lead them to seek a personal relationship with Him, because there will probably come a day that we won't be there for them. It is wonderful for God to use us here or there is great situations but it should be just as important to us for God to use us to teach our children of God's great love and power.
17. Four Faithful Friends
Again today we look at people God used in the Bible, who are not named. I call these men the Four Faithful Friends. Imagine that you have a sick friend lying on a large towel and with three more, you each get a corner of the towel and carry this man to get help, only to find that you can't get in through the crowd. These four friends would not give up. They carried the man to the roof and removed part of the roofing and lowered him down to where Jesus could heal him. As you read Mark's account notice verse 5, "When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." Jesus saw their faith, the Four Faithful Friends. Are we faithful in getting others to Jesus?
"1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.
3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion." (Mark 2:1-12)
18. Caesar Augustus - Ruler Of The World In God's Hands
Around 700 years before the birth of Jesus, Micah prophesied that the ruler of Israel would be born in the little town of Bethlehem. "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2) Gabriel appeared to Mary in Nazareth to tell her the good news that she would be the mother of JESUS. Mary may have known the prophecy of Micah and maybe she wondered how things would work out to fulfill God's plan. Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, sent out a decree to tax everyone under the Roman authority. He had his reasons, to make his name great, or his reputation great, or increase his wealth, but whatever his reasoning was it was for himself, Caesar Augustus. Little did he know that the reason for this taxing was designed by God to get Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. As the great Roman Emperor he did not care about a poor Jewish woman, "great with child", having to travel maybe 100 miles over rocky terrain. He was the ruler of the Roman empire and never knew that he was being used by God to fulfil prophecy of the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! God often moves in mysterious ways. He may use people or things of this world to bring about His will in our lives. Even when we can't see a way, God makes a way!
"1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:1-7)
19. The Good Samaritan - Who Is My Neighbor?
In the eyes of the world, it may seem that God only uses preachers and teachers, and maybe some musicians for His work. It is amazing that something Jesus told almost two thousand years ago can have such great significance still today. I am talking about the story that He told of the good Samaritan. A certain man was robbed and left for dead on the side of the road and a priest came along and passed by on the other side. Then a Levite "came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side." The poor wounded man probably gave up hope by that time, thinking that if a priest and a Levite would not help him, then nobody would. "But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise." (Luke 10:33-37) There are many people suffering today, wounded, poor, and in need. How many times do we pass by on the other side? Even worse, how often do we gaze at them to see how bad their problems are, and even spread the word to others about how low they have fallen, without lending a helping hand? Shame on us! Jesus said, "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31) Jesus gives us another example in Matthew 25:31-40).
"31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
20. Can God Use You?
We have been looking at "People God Used" for several weeks and it is enlightening to study these men and women of Bible days. One of the reasons God has preserved the scriptures for thousands of years is so that these men and women can be examples to us, as we see in I Corinthians 10:11, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples:..." God wants to use us just as He used those men, women, and children so many years ago. Sometimes we feel like these people were like super-heros and we can't possibly do the things that they did. We may feel like we have sin in our past which prevents us from serving God. God spoke of David as "a man after mine own heart" (Acts 13:22), and David did great things for God, even though he sinned in the affair with Bathsheba and death of Uriah. Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, yet they became the twelve Tribes of Israel. Jacob was known as a cheater until God changed his name to Israel. Zacchaeus is another example. "And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold." (Luke 19:8) Maybe you feel too depressed to serve God. God did not give up on Elijah when he was down. "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat." (I Kings 19:4-5) You may have run from God in the past, but God can give you another chance like He did for Jonah. If you feel too young look at Samuel, too old, look at Abraham and Sarah, and Zaccharias and Elisabeth. Maybe you are afraid, so was Gideon. Put your trust in God. Trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Give yourself to Him and seek His paths. Let God's Word encourage you!
"1 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations." (Psalm 100:1-5)
21. A Flood And A Rainbow
We have finished looking a "People God Used" and now I want to look at a few things God used. God created the universe and everything was perfect until Adam and Eve sinned against God's commandment. Once sin entered the world people grew worse and worse. Because the wickedness was so great God decided to destroy the world and told Noah to build an ark so that there would be a remnant of God's creation saved. God used Noah to warn the world, but they would not listen. "And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die." (Genesis 6:17) After the flood, God used a rainbow as a reminder of His promise that He would never destroy the earth by flood again. God used a flood and a rainbow. The wickedness of the world is again growing greater and greater. And even though God promised never to destroy the earth again by flood, Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away." (Luke 21:33) The book of Revelation tells us of the battles and destruction of the end of time. The final destruction will be with fire. God has given us His Word as a warning. Just as many did not believe Noah, many do not believe in the Lord Jesus today. The Lord is coming back. Are you ready?
22. Roosters Still Crow
As we continue with things that God has used, I have pulled this devotional from an earlier time to show that God can use different things or sounds in our lives to remind us of things in the past, and help us go forward with Him. I was driving to work this morning and just up the road from my house I heard a rooster crow. There is nothing extraordinary about hearing a rooster, since it was morning. I grew up next door to my grandparents and they had chickens and roosters so I woke up to the crowing many mornings. My children enjoyed hatching chicks and raising their own chickens for a few years and I never really thought about the roosters crowing. But this morning, God reminded me of these verses. "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me." (Luke 22:31-34) Also those farther into the chapter. "And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly." (Luke 22:59-62) Peter denied Christ three times and the rooster crowed. Jesus looked at Peter and Peter remembered the word of the Lord and went out and wept bitterly. Somehow Peter made it through that day, and maybe he was able to sleep a little that night, and in the morning, the rooster crowed. I believe Peter wept again, and the next morning the rooster crowed. Their roosters may have been like some of ours and crowed during the day, too. I think that everytime Peter heard a rooster crow he remembered the look of the Lord and His Words. I have heard preachers criticize Peter for going fishing in John 21:3, but with the sound of the waves Peter could not hear any roosters crow while he was on the sea. All of these thoughts were going through my mind as I drove to work and then the Lord whispered in His still small voice that roosters still crow. We sometimes fall to temptation and we confess and weep bitterly to our Lord and He is faithful to forgive us of our sin. Then we hear a sound, or see something and it reminds us of our failure. The first sound Peter heard every morning was the rooster crow. Jesus could have told Peter that he would deny Him before dawn, but He said, "before the cock crow". Jesus knew Peter would be reminded of his failure over and over. Peter went on to become a great and mighty preacher for our Lord. In our lives today, roosters still crow. We need to confess our sins, and then let those painful memories stir us to become better Christians. We have been looking towards Mother's Day and I wondered why God put this on my heart today. It may have been just for you. Does that small cry you hear each morning remind you of sin in your life? Do you wake with physical or emotional pain caused by your past? Turn to the Lord. We read in I John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Jesus will forgive. Sometimes it's hard for us to forget.
23. Four Things God Prepared In The Book Of Jonah
God told Jonah to go and preach to the wicked city of Nineveh, the enemy of Israel. Jonah may have been afraid, or maybe he just didn't want God to forgive his enemies, whatever the reason, Jonah went in the opposite direction. He got on a ship headed towards Tarshish, as far away as possible, and went to sleep. God sent a storm in Jonah's life. He also prepared four things to put Jonah back on the right path, physically and spiritually. The book of Jonah shows us that we can't hide from God. It teaches us that God is filled with love and mercy. We also learn that God can use something as small as a worm to fulfill His will.
"Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." (Jonah 1:17)
"And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd." (Jonah 4:6)
"But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered." (Jonah 4:7)
"And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live." (Jonah 4:8)
24. A Boy And His Lunch
During our Back to School parties we always told the story of the little boy who took his lunch to hear Jesus and shared his two little fish and five loaves of bread. I would put two little toy fish and five small biscuits in a cloth bag to illustrate the story. After the story we passed out ten lunch bags, numbered one through ten and taped closed. Inside each bag was an item they might carry to school or somewhere for lunch. I used a hard boiled egg, a large pickle (inside a zip-lock bag), a sandwich, some potato chips, etc. Starting with various children around the table, each guessed the item in the bag and wrote their answers from one to ten. The children always had fun playing this game and it was a good devotional story for them. They learned that God can use children. It can be a lesson in sharing what we have, or giving all we have to the Lord. For our devotional purposes today it shows that God can take what little we have, and use it for His honor. We may feel like our little offering, or helping hand, won't go far, but even kind words can do a lot for a troubled soul. Use what you have for the Lord, no matter how small, and your heart will be blessed. "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward." (Mark 9:41)
25. Jesus Used His Creation In Parables
Jesus spoke in love as He invited those around Him, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) As He called the people to Him, He taught them in parables. He used many things around Him, animals, plants, and common things familiar to His followers. Let's look at some of the things Jesus used to teach His Word.
"Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." (Luke 12:24 & 27)
"11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." Matthew 18:11-14)
"No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light." (Luke 8:16)
26. What Might God Use To Get Your Attention?
God used prophets in the Old Testament to get His message to His people. In the beginning of Jesus' ministry God used John the Baptist to prepare the way. God also sent angels to some, Abraham and Sarah, Daniel, Zaccharias, Mary, and shepherds watching over their flocks to name a few. Some were given signs by the angels and Jacob wrestled "until the breaking of the day." God used a burning bush to get Moses' attention and turned his rod into a serpent as a sign to Pharaoh. The great plagues on Egypt, such as the river turning to blood, frogs, flies, locusts, and others were great miracles to show Pharaoh that the great "I AM" is God. Sometimes God's message was written, as the Ten Commandments on tables of stone, letters to the churches, and once fingers of a man's hand appeared writing on the palace wall when Belshazzar used the golden vessels from the temple. Jesus used Lazarus' death to show He had resurrecting power. God used many ways to speak to His children in the Bible, but often they still did not listen. "But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts." (Zechariah 7:11-12) Whatever God uses to get our attention today, His Word, miracles, storms, or trials, we need to listen and hearken to His Word.
27. God Will Use What He Has Placed In Our Hands
God got Moses' attention with the burning bush. He told Moses to lead His people out of Egypt but Moses had several excuses. I like the Lord's answer to Moses in Exodus 4:1-4. "And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:" God showed Moses that He could use what was in his hand. The rod was held over the river of Egypt and is turned to blood. The rod was held up toward heaven and God sent more plagues on Egypt. Moses held up the rod at the Red Sea and it parted so that the multitude could pass over on dry ground. We also have the example of the familiar story of David and Goliath. When young David offered to face the challenge of the giant Goliath, he could not wear King Saul's armor, because he had not proved it. Instead, he chose five smooth stones from the brook and used the sling that was in his hand. When God asks us to do something for Him, then He will provide what we need to accomplish His will. We close this series on "People God Used" with the question that the Lord asked Moses, "What is that in thine hand?" Use it for the Lord!