Who would be foolish enough to choose him for it? He was no one.

“Who was he to save the world?
And who would be foolish enough to choose him for it?
He was no one.”

from “Relentless (Dominion Trilogy Book #1)” by Robin Parrish

Forget literally saving the world.  
How about just saving a few people?  
Maybe just one person?  
What about joining with others to save just one person?

Does the thought of any of these make you feel like the little blue person on the right?
Does it make you feel like – I can’t do it!  I’m nobody.  You need someone who is somebody.  You need someone else!

Even a “somebody” can feel like a “nobody”

In order to understand what I mean by that, there’s this awesome scene from the life of Elijah that’s told in 1Ki 18:16-39 –

Elijah on Mount Carmel

1Ki 18:16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”
1Ki 18:18 “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’S commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
1Ki 18:20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing.
1Ki 18:22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’S prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”
Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”
1Ki 18:25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
1Ki 18:27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
1Ki 18:30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which was in ruins. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
1Ki 18:34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
1Ki 18:36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
1Ki 18:38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
1Ki 18:39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”
1Ki 18:40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.
1Ki 18:41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
1Ki 18:43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
1Ki 18:44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’ ”
1Ki 18:45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 46 The power of the LORD came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

I think that’s just so awesome!

But – look what happens next.

Elijah Flees to Horeb

1Ki 19:1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
1Ki 19:3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
1Ki 19:7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.

But – God’s not about to let Elijah stay there, wallowing in fear,  And doubt.  The mighty prophet Elijah was so shaken by the death threat that he was ready for God to just kill him.

Why?  After what Elijah had just done, we’d think that he, of all people, would realize just how powerful God was and that with God Elijah could do literally anything.  After all, together they had just done the impossible in a really big way!  And yet, Elijah run’s for his life, hides, and wants to die.

There are different ways to look at what happened.  I choose to look at this this way –

When we’re scared, running away, even when we know God is with us –
we’re in really good company!
If Elijah felt like that, who are we to get mad at ourselves or feel pity for ourselves when we get like that?

 Seriously!

To be sure, Elijah will respond to God again – so he does allow God to work through him after this event.  That’s coming up next.
But let’s fast forward a bit to this event with Jesus –

The Transfiguration

17:1-8 pp — Lk 9:28-36
17:1-13 pp — Mk 9:2-13

Mt 17:1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Mt 17:4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
Mt 17:5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
Mt 17:6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

To be sure, Elijah didn’t lose any standing with God over what happened at Horeb, with Elijah hiding and wanting to die.
He shows up at the Transfiguration of Jesus – along with Moses!

The Lord Appears to Elijah

And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1Ki 19:10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
1Ki 19:11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1Ki 19:14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
1Ki 19:15 The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”

Ultimately, Elijah was one of two men taken by God while they were still alive.  Enoch was the other.

Enoch –

Ge 5:21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

Elijah

2Ki 2:11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.

Side note – Elijah and Revelation

Because Elijah and Enoch didn’t die while on earth, many think they will be back again – as the two witnesses in Revelation –

The Two Witnesses

Rev 11:1 I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. 2 But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. 6 These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
Rev 11:7 Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. 8 Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. 10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.
Rev 11:11 But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.
Rev 11:13 At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
Rev 11:14 The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon.

I mention this to show the importance of Elijah to God.  Even after what he did.

That may sound odd, given what happens to God’s messengers in the end.  However, if we really understand and believe what Jesus said – it is actually to be expected.  In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis has his title character say this of God and “His favorites” –

Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else.  [1]Lewis, C. S.. The Screwtape Letters (p. 38). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The peaks that Screwtape talks about are the high points in our lives – where things are going well, and we feel God’s presence in our lives.  The troughs, on the other hand, are the times when we’re under attack by Satan and the word, really feeling down and maybe even like God has deserted us (which, of course, He hasn’t).  For Elijah, Mount Carmel and the fire was definitely a peak.  Immediately after the death threat by Jezebel, Elijah went right down into the deepest of troughs.

If you are interested in The Screwtape Letters, 
I have a study guide for it here.

Finish up with Elijah

After that little side note from Revelation and The Screwtape Letters, let’s just conclude with a reminder that Elijah did the same kinds of things that we do sometimes.  Even when we feel good about things and feel like God is with us – we get scared.  For no good reason at all, we feel like He’s not going to be there for us, especially when things get difficult in this physical world of ours.  But this world isn’t where the promised result actually takes place.  It’s in the next life.

So when we get into something, and feel like we just want to die and “go home” to God, we need to think of Elijah.  It would be nice to say I’ve never felt that way – but that’d be a lie.  Actually – several lies, since I’ve felt that way more than once.  Maybe that’s why I like these events so much.  Not that I’ll ever be Elijah – but that I can know that God’s not going to desert me when I feel like that.

 

An ultimate “nobody”

We just saw the example of Elijah – a somebody who all of a sudden felt like a nobody.

Now – let’s look at someone exactly the opposite – a real nobody, who all of a sudden became a somebody.

Surely, no one can be less prepared for what God wants them to do than Gideon.  We see this right away –

Jdg 6:11 The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”
Jdg 6:13 “But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”

Essentially, Gideon is saying – “Yeah, The LORD’s with us? So what?
This doesn’t seem like Gideon’s off to a real good start, does it?

God’s apparently not going to let that remark stand though.  He proceeds to tell Gideon to do it himself.  It’s like God is telling Gideon – I still want you to do this, so if you think I’m no help, then do it yourself!

Jdg 6:14 The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
Jdg 6:15 “But Lord,’” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

 This could be an uh-oh moment for Gideon.  But not quite yet.  He comes back with another quick smart remark – along the lines of “Hey – God – do you know who I am?  And you expect me to do this?”

Next, we see the problem with trying to play games with God.  Of course God knows who He’s talking to.  And God never answered Gideon’s question of “why has all this happened to us” .  God often doesn’t answer this kind of question – He just continues to pursue His goal.

In Gideon’s case, God chooses to just ignore the question.  You may remember God’s response to Job, after Job was relentless in wanting to talk to God about his particular problem –

Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
Job 38:2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
with words without knowledge?
Job 38:3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

Gideon might have wanted to just melt into the ground if God responded like that to his question.
We see here that God responds as appropriate to the person / situation.
Job could handle the response he got.
Gideon got  a firm “I still want you to do  this” kind of response – but not the “who are you to question me” that Job got.

Jdg 6:16 The LORD answered, “I will be with you , and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”

God ignores Gideon’s questions and chooses instead to just let him know that He will indeed be with Gideon and they will accomplish the task.

This should be a reminder to us that when we ask God and don’t get any kind of answer – or get one that ignores our question and tells us to just keep going – maybe there’s something that we should already know?  Maybe there’s something that we are choosing to ignore, and God wants us to search ourselves and realize that the problem isn’t Him, but us.

So far, if all of this sounds like you – it’s supposed to.

One would think Gideon has caught on by now.
We’d probably also like to think that, if we were in Gideon’s place, we would also have caught on.
Think again.
He didn’t.  Chances are – we wouldn’t have either.

Jdg 6:17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.
Jdg 6:18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the LORD said, “I will wait until you return.”

Wow.  God is still patient with Gideon!

So Gideon makes his offering, God gives a sign, and we see –

Jdg 6:22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, “Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!”

Yes!  Gideon got it!  Everything is going to be OK!

Not!

God asks Gideon to tear down the altar to a pagan God that Gideon’s father had put up.

Gee – could this be part of the reason that God had turned away from the people?
Could this be the answer to Gideon’s question if why all those things were happening to the people?

But Gideon had some problems fulfilling this request –

Jdg 6:27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

Oops.  Gideon didn’t quite have the “I’ve got this” promise from God.

Interestingly enough, Gideon’s father got it.

Jdg 6:28 In the morning when the men of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!
Jdg 6:29 They asked each other, “Who did this?” When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”
Jdg 6:30 The men of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”
Jdg 6:31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.”

Gideon should have seen that God does have his back after this.

But – he didn’t.

Jdg 6:36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—
Jdg 6:37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.”
Jdg 6:38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.

Maybe this time Gideon gets it?

Sorry – no.

Jdg 6:39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.”
Jdg 6:40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

Finally – Gideon stops asking for proof.
He got it.  
Or did he?

Even those of us who feel like we are the last one on earth that God would ever choose to do anything have seen ourselves by now in the person of Gideon.

If God can use this little wimp – he can use any one of us – for anything he chooses.

With what happens next, we almost get the feeling that God thinks Gideon must be getting over-confident after all these signs – because look what happens now –

Gideon Defeats the Midianites

Jdg 7:1 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon ) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh.
Jdg 7:2 The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her,
Jdg 7:3 announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ ” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.
Jdg 7:4 But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”
Jdg 7:5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.”
Jdg 7:6 Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.
Jdg 7:7 The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.”
Jdg 7:8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley.
Jdg 7:9 During that night the LORD said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands.
Jdg 7:10 If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah
Jdg 7:11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp.
Jdg 7:12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.
Jdg 7:13 Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”
Jdg 7:14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”
Jdg 7:15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands.”
Jdg 7:16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside.
Jdg 7:17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do.
Jdg 7:18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon.’ ”
Jdg 7:19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands.
Jdg 7:20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”
Jdg 7:21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.
Jdg 7:22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath.
Jdg 7:23 Israelites from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites.
Jdg 7:24 Gideon sent messengers throughout the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and seize the waters of the Jordan ahead of them as far as Beth Barah.” So all the men of Ephraim were called out and they took the waters of the Jordan as far as Beth Barah.
Jdg 7:25 They also captured two of the Midianite leaders, Oreb and Zeeb . They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb. They pursued the Midianites and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was by the Jordan.

God gives Gideon one more sign – a sign that Gideon didn’t ask for (not verbally anyway).  
It seems Gideon still didn’t really get it.
Then – God reduces the number of men with Gideon from 32,000 to 10,000.
Then – God reduces the number of men again, this time to 300!
Gideon has to do this with almost 99% of his men sent back home!!

Fear should be setting in big time right about this time.

But it doesn’t.

Gideon finally knows – God really is with him.

And it’s a smashing victory.

Conclusion

So – we’ve seen the ultimate somebody turned into the ultimate nobody and then back into the ultimate somebody.  (Elijah)

And, we’ve seen the ultimate nobody turned into the ultimate somebody.  (Gideon)

Just in case that’s not enough of an example to show that God really can use you, me, literally anyone – 
here’s one more – this time things from the Apostle Paul.  Remember Paul, formerly known as Saul.  He was the ultimate Jewish Pharisee, persecuting and killing Christians.  Until God called him to be an Apostle, when he did a complete 180 degree turnaround and became a Christian leader and author of much of the New Testament.

1Co 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

1Co 2:1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

Paul’s Vision and His Thorn

2Co 12:1 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.
2Co 12:7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Think you’re too weak for God to use?

Hardly.

When we are weak – we’re perfectly prepared for Him to use us.

If we have committed our lives to God, and God wants to use us – one of three things will probably happen –

  1. we are ready, humble before God, and appropriately giving Him the credit He deserves for the things, not that we do, but that He does through us.
  2. we are too proud, overconfident in ourselves – and He will, as I put it for myself, pop my bubble and bring me back down.  Then we’ll be ready.
  3. we are too scared, too “Gideon-like” – and God will help us to understand that He really is with us, that it’s really Him doing the things through us – not us having the strength to do anything other than allow Him to do the work.  Yes – been there too.  Then we’ll be ready.

Ultimately, there’s only one real question –

Do you want to commit yourself to God?  
I mean really commit?  Not just say some words – but really truly mean it?

If you do – just be open.
Be honest with God about how you feel – like both Elijah and Gideon were.
And then listen.
And act according to His will.

If we do these things – He will use us.

Probably not Elijah or Gideon style –
but in some way that is important..

We may not even know what we did in this life.

But we will find out.

Mt 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Too many people read verses like this and think that we need to do “deeds” – we need to do things.

But they are ignoring the lessons of Elijah and Gideon.
They are ignoring – big time – even the first sentence that Jesus says here –

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Combine that with what Jesus told Paul –

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness

and we should realize that it’s not us doing the deeds and the works.

It’s God.

We’re just the vessel that He is using to accomplish His goals.

Just in case you think that’s nothing –
consider how many people refuse to do that.  
Think how hard it was for you to do it.  
Think how hard you fought God initially, before allowing it to happen.

Then, be glad you surrendered,
and realize that it’s not Him sharing our victory –
it’s us sharing in His victory.

 


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