God Loves to Use the Small Things
- 2010 1 Nov
I put a note on Facebook this week to say I'm working on a sermon on this theme, based on Zechariah 4:10, "Who has despised the day of small things?" I asked the question, "What small things have you seen God use? Think of things I may have overlooked."
The answers are still coming in. A song. A flower. A little boy's lunch. A baby in a manger. A teenage mother. A star. A cup of water. A couple of coins in the offering from a widow. Mustard seed.
In the last year or two, I've written on this website a sermon on two on this subject. Without an index here to locate the myriads of messages, the only way I know to locate them is by googling something like "McKeever/Day of Small Things." It should take you to the previous sermons on this blog.
That sermon--any sermon on the subject I would think--needs to point out that God loves to use:
- Small numbers. Jonathan told his armor-bearer (I Samuel 14:6) that it makes little difference to God whether He saves by the few or the many.
Good reminder. You and I know small churches that feel than can't do anything because their members are few in number. Not so.
- Small people. The Apostle Paul suggested in I Corinthians 1:26ff that the members of that church look around. They would see not many celebrities, not many people the world acclaims as great or mighty or rich or gifted. God chose to use the nobodies of the world.
- Small gifts.No one illustrates this better than the boy who gave his lunch to Jesus and ended up feeding five thousand (John 6:9) or the widow who dropped her two coins into the offering and went on her way (Mark 12:42). Neither had any way of knowing what this meant to the Lord or that we would still be talking about them 2,000 years later.
- Small moments.You prayed a prayer of commitment. You said "I do" at the altar. You decided to start reading your Bible. You went next door and invited your neighbor to church.
God loves to use small things. The thrust of what follows, however, is the implication of that for us. Mark it down in big letters and underscore it, the fact that God delights in using nothings and nobodies means a great deal to his children.
It means there is hope for all of us.
He can use even me.
If God can take a 16-year-old farm boy from the North Carolina dairy, one who had done nothing to that point to distinguish himself, and make a Billy Graham out of him, He can do something with you and me.
It means there is no hiding place for any of us.
I no longer have an excuse for not giving my life and my gifts (or talents or whatever) to Him.
I cannot hide behind the excuse that "Well, I am a nobody," "I don't have anything He would want," "I can't sing," "I can't preach," or "I can't go as a missionary."
You can do anything God wants you to. To bear this out in Scripture, He chose an 80-year-old shepherd and made him into a Moses. He picked out a timid teenager and made a Jeremiah.
It means we have great reason to share our faith.
The next world-changer may be the little dirty kid in the trailer park you bring to Sunday School. You cannot look at a child and see his future.
Anyone can look at an apple and count the seeds, but only God can look at a seed and count the apples.
We should quit trying to tell God why it's not a good idea to share our faith with this guy or that woman, why we're not qualified to obey Him, why we don't have enough resources, our faith is too small, our fears too many--and just go. No one but God knows what can come from our obedience.
It means we have all the encouragement we will ever need to persevere with our small class or tiny church.
God knows what He is about. He loves to do the surprising thing and pluck a nobody from obscurity and elevate him/her to great effectiveness in the Kingdom.
I can never recall his name, but the last time Billy Graham and Franklin Graham held a two-day crusade in New Orleans, some six months after Hurricane Katrina, a guitarist preceded them on the program. Billed as the world's fastest guitar player, the man gave his testimony to us.
What struck me about his story was that he came from a tiny church where he and his brother made up the entire youth department. Their pastor was 75 years old. And yet, here he is, maybe a half-century later, criss-crossing the world, telling people about Jesus.
One wonders what would have been the response had we gone back to that church when the man was a child and told the congregation, "Out of you will come one who will bear a witness to the world for Jesus." Would they have picked out that child? I doubt it. God loves to surprise us by his choice of instruments.
It means we have a crisis of faith: do we believe in Jesus Christ or not?
When Gabriel told the teenage Mary of God's plans for her, he had to strengthen her faith. He said, "For with God nothing will be impossible." (Luke 1:37) We all need that reminder from time to time.
You're trying to decide to do something God has placed in front of you. It's tough...
- Should you uproot your family and head to seminary? It means selling your house, living in an apartment for perhaps three years, living in New Orleans, trying to find a secular job to support your family until God opens up a church that wants you to help them.
- Should you stay home and be a full-time mother to your children? It means getting by on less income, cutting your career short, increasing financial stress at home. It would also mean more time with the family, helping the children with their studies, and possibly a better life in the future for them as adults.
- Should you volunteer to teach that class? You aren't a natural teacher and the task would be enormous until you got the hang of it. But you could be a real influence on that class of boys or those young ladies.
- Should you forego that luxury purchase and give that offering to the needy family in the church whose father just lost his job?
- Should you obey the Lord no matter the cost and inconvenience?
- Should you try out your litany of excuses with the Lord, remembering that he has heard them all and is impressed by none of them?
- Should you give your small offering even though you know it's only a drop in the bucket toward the actual goal?
- Should you go next door and share the Word with your neighbor even though he has shown no interest in going to church with you in previous years?
Decisions, decisions, decisions.
The answer comes down to a very simple thing: How sufficient is the Lord for all your needs?
Your answer will determine ten thousand things about the rest of your life.
Dr. Joe McKeever is a Preacher, Cartoonist, and the Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Visit him at joemckeever.com/mt. Used with permission.