Bill Howell, Primary leader at NLI Europe, which stands for Next Level International, preached this morning at The New Life Christian Centre on Normanton Road in Derby. He talked about outreach in Poland, which, yes, made me sit up even straighter than I already was, in my seat, having a Polish husband is going to benefit God's Kingdom. We will return next week for more idea about how.
God has put it on Bill's heart to reach forty nations by the year 2020 with the Good News. This is big and he knows it but he says that God tends always to put things on people's hearts that are bigger than they are because in that way He can be bigger than you. I guess when the vision is so big we have no choice but to rely totally on the Lord for strength.
Bill wanted us to explore whether we have ever felt like the last of Jesse's sons, the one whom his father did not even consider for Kingship, whilst all the time David's heavenly Father had plans to the contrary. Do we ever feel like that last son? Do we ever have that dialogue running in our heads – surely it can't be me Lord? Do we consider all of those around us, our elder brothers and sisters, to be more talented, more worthy than we are? Do we say with Jeremiah 'I am only a child'? Do we make God's vision for our lives too small? Some moments are definitely best characterised as those 'God, you must have got it wrong moments.' They go something like this. 'God, you are awesome and amazing but you know, Lord, perhaps you are having an off-day, perhaps you have it wrong. Because if you are calling me, I am not sure I measure up'.
The thing is we do God's work in his strength and not our own. Peter had one of these moments when he was given the vision of the picnic blanket from which he could take and eat whatever he wanted. There was resistance at first. He thought that God had it wrong. Moses had one of these moments when he asked God, 'But who am I?'
If we look at the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, we see that the first servant was given the equivalent of millions of pounds, the second servant was given about one third of a million and the third servant was given about £625,000. What they went and did with it was what mattered. In God's economy, we know that we are all equal but we also see that some are more talented than others in certain areas. But God gives according to his wisdom and so that we might glorify him. We should not compare ourselves with others but seek to honour him with all that we have been given. The story of the talents is about many things but also this. The first servant doubled the investment as did the second but the servant who was given the least amount evaluates his boss and judges him harshly. He didn't consider his boss worthy so he doesn't even put the money in the bank, he does nothing with what he has been given. He opts out because he didn't think he could do it. Did he instead just sit and brood about what he had not been given in comparison to the other servants? It would seem so. Do we do this? He thought that others would do it better and so he gave up completely. Familiar?
We must not be like this. We can not opt out. We need to get right with God. What we choose to do with what we have been given is so important. It is a reflection of our attitude to God. We all have the same opportunities in so much as we all have 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. We can't afford to say that we haven't been given enough. However, we will. We will say it often and it is this that we need to work on but many people have said 'but I haven't got enough, either.' The widow did not say it when she gave what she had and gave the lot ,but the disciples complained that they didn't have enough. The little boy, simply offered what he had, much like the widow, his picnic lunch. 'Here's what I have been given, take it.' He evaluated his master worthy of his very best and God gave him this opportuniy and so he seized it and gave everything. And look what was left. 12 baskets. 12 baskets! You might have thought about the significance of those 12 baskets and there are many interpretations but imagine each basket now being gathered up by a disciple. Imagine each disciple holding it in their hands, looking at it and marvelling at God's provision. How they had underestimated him with their 'we haven't got enough'. They had failed to evaluate the situation, unlike the little boy for what God might do with it. Yet, there was God's abundance so obviously in their hands. Seize your opportunities and use them to glorify God, God has given you enough!