Summary: Jesus chose "ordinary, unschooled" men to be His disciples. For 3 years He equipped them for a ministry that turned the world upside down. But how did Jesus change them so they were ready for that adventure. And how can He do the same for us?
OPEN: In 1972, NASA launched a space probe named Pioneer 10. The satellite’s primary mission was to reach Jupiter, study the planet and its moons, and beam the data back to earth. Scientists regarded this as a bold plan, for at that time no earth satellite had ever gone beyond Mars, and they feared the asteroid belt would destroy the satellite before it could reach its target.
But Pioneer 10 accomplished its mission and much, much more. Swinging past the giant planet in November 1973, Jupiter’s immense gravity hurled Pioneer 10 at a higher rate of speed toward the edge of the solar system.
At one billion miles from the sun, Pioneer 10 passed Saturn.
At some two billion miles, it hurtled past Uranus;
Neptune at nearly three billion miles;
Pluto at almost four billion miles.
By 1997, 25 years after its launch, Pioneer 10 was more than six billion miles from the sun. Earth finally lost contact with Pioneer 10 on January 23, 2003.
It’s trajectory is expected to take it in the general direction of the star Aldebaran, and at its present rate of speed Pioneer 10 will reach that star in a little more than 2 million years.
Before they lost radio contact with the spacecraft a NASA spokesman named Jaroff said:
“Perhaps most remarkable, those signals emanate from an 8-watt transmitter, which radiates about as much power as a bedroom night light, and takes more than nine hours to reach Earth.”
Can you imagine accomplishing that much exploration in space with only an 8 watt transmitter?
Imagine accomplish so much... with so little!
In Psalm 144:3 David asks:
“O LORD, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him?”
David openly wondered how God could possibly consider using insignificant men and women for His purposes.
ILLUS: That’s what captured the imagination of astronaut Jim Lovell. He said
“At one point (in space) I sighted the earth with my thumb — and my thumb from that distance fit over the entire planet. I realized how insignificant we all are if everything I'd ever known is behind my thumb.”
Compared to God… we ARE insignificant.
We are not all that impressive.
And yet God desires to use us.
One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 2:10
“… we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
God prepared things for YOU to do.
But many people don’t do anything for God because they don’t they are important enough for Him to pay attention to.
And I believe THAT’S one of the main reasons Jesus chose men like Peter, James and John to be His disciples. They weren’t all that important. They were just insignificant fishermen.
And yet… when Jesus got done with them, they shocked even the Sanhedrin.
“When (the Sanhedrin) saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were UNSCHOOLED, ORDINARY men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
So, can God use you?
IF you spend time with Jesus.
The more time you spend with Jesus, the more God can equip you to be used by Him
So what we’re going to look at this morning is how God can EQUIP you to serve Him.
What does God do to make you useful in His kingdom?
Now, I borrowed the idea of this sermon from another preacher. And as I watched the video of his sermon where he presented this concept of God equipping us, I noticed he had a whiteboard on stage that he used to present his understanding of how God “equips” us. On the whiteboard, the preacher presented something I call a “character evaluation”. He used the acronym SHAPE (each letter standing for some aspect of a person’s character) and tried to use that evaluation to help his congregation to understand how they are “shaped” by God to serve.
A lot of churches use stuff like that:
Spiritual Gift assessments… and so on and so on…
And I enjoy those. In fact, I’ve taken several of those types of tests. And they’re ok… in so far as they go. But I have yet to have the results of those assessments do more than make me feel good about myself.
Maybe it’s just me, but I am a little suspicious of their true value in making me a better servant of God. And I suspect my suspicion harkens back to an experience I had in High School.
ILLUS: Back when I was in High School, the guidance counselor had me take a test to evaluate my potential in various occupations. It was supposed to help me know what kind of work I could be successful at when I graduated. I scored high in being a Doctor or a Lawyer or a factory management. But guess which occupation I had one of the lowest scores in…