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Vol.  9  No. 6 June 2007  Page 8
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Priscilla's Page By Marilyn LaStrape *Editor's Note*

A Nobody Who Became a Somebody

Marilyn LaStrapeBy Marilyn LaStrape

    God takes us and makes us what he wants us to be when we bow to him in submissive obedience. We are who we are because of God and the work we have allowed him to accomplish in our lives. Paul told the church at Philippi to “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do according to His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12b-13).

    When God called Abraham and told him to get out of his country and go to a land he would show him, Abraham was a nobody! What had he ever done for God? At the time God called him, his name was Abram. When he became what God made him, God changed his name to Abraham. He was a nobody who became somebody when he gave his life to the LORD!

    In the course of time as the relationship between God and Abraham developed and flourished, God told him to take his son Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice. Notice the extent of this man’s obedience. “So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him” (Genesis 22:3). Abraham obeys without questioning God, informing Sarah or looking for a way out of God’s command and expectation!

    At the time Abraham was prepared to slay Isaac, God stopped him and said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me” (Genesis 22:12).

    God makes this nobody a somebody when he said, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:18). Nothing can take or will ever take the place of obedience to God! Abram, a nobody who became Abraham the somebody when he gave his life to the LORD!

    Moses was called by God when he was 80 years old to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. Up to that point, Moses had never done a thing number one for God! He had tried 40 years earlier to make a wrong right, but when his deed was discovered, he was forced to flee for his life. He ended up in Midian as a sheepherder for the next 40 years. Moses had his “burning bush” experience when God told him that he would deliver the children of Israel. Moses was most reluctant about this to the point that he incurred God’s anger!

    After God had sent the 10 plagues on the land of Egypt, Pharaoh was ready for the Israelites to leave at once! God had told Moses, “But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed…So you shall plunder the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:19-22). Under God’s direction and protection, Moses led them out of Egypt without firing a shot; he fed that numerous host of people without opening a grocery store; he led them across the Red Sea without building a bridge! Moses was a nobody who became somebody when he gave himself to the LORD!

    When the people asked for a king, “God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will’” (Acts 13:21-22).

    God had told Samuel he was sending him to Jesse because he had provided for himself a king among his sons. David was the youngest of the eight sons of Jesse. Samuel told Jesse his purpose and Jesse brought his seven sons before him, but Samuel told him the Lord had not chosen any of them. When he asked if all the young men were there, Jesse said the youngest was keeping the sheep. Samuel commanded that he be brought to them. When David arrived, the Lord said to Samuel, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” (I Samuel 16:12b).

    David, the man whom God had anointed king, the man after God’s own heart committed the sins of adultery, conspiracy and murder! David committed adultery with Bathsheba the wife of Uriah. Bathsheba informs David she is pregnant with his child. David brings Uriah home hoping he will be intimate with Bathsheba and he would believe the child was his. David’s plan failed, and he conspires to have Uriah murdered! David sent a letter to Joab, the commander of his army, by the hand of Uriah. Uriah had no idea that he was carrying his death warrant! David told Joab in this letter to put Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, retreat from him, so he would be struck down and die. Second Samuel 12:27b says, “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” Mark it down; whenever what we do displeases the Lord, reaping what we have sown is inevitable!

    God sent Nathan the prophet to tell David about himself and what he had done. Nathan told David, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight?” (2 Samuel 12:7-9a). David said, “I have sinned against the Lord” ( 2 Samuel 12:13a).

    First Kings 15:5 says, “David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” When David repented of this sin he said to God, “For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when you judge” (Psalm 51:3-4). David was a nobody who became somebody when he gave his life to the LORD!

    When we are introduced to Saul who later becomes the apostle Paul, an angry mob has just stoned Stephen to death and the witnesses had laid down their clothes at this young man’s feet. Saul was consenting to Stephen’s death and he “made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 7:58-8:3).

    We next read of Saul in Acts 9:1-2, “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”

    As he and the men who journeyed with him were on their way to Damascus, Saul had an “eye-ball-to-eye-ball” encounter with Jesus Christ! Jesus asked him the most pointed question, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4b). Saul then asked who the Lord was and what was it that Christ wanted him to do. The Lord told him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6).

    In the course of time, the Lord tells a certain disciple in Damascus named Ananias to go to Saul, that he is praying, and for him to lay his hands on Saul that he might receive his sight. Ananias is most reluctant to do this and he said, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, and how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name” (Acts 9:13-14).

    “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake’” (Acts 9:15-16).

    Ananias obeyed the Lord, he went to Saul, layed his hands on him, told him what the Lord had said and “Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized” (Acts 9:18). Saul receives food, is strengthened and spends some days with the disciples at Damascus.

    “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). All who heard him were amazed and asked wasn’t Saul the one who destroyed those who called on the name of Christ in Jerusalem and had come to Damascus for that purpose to bring them bound to the chief priests? “But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus proving that this Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 9:22).

    Sometime later in Acts 13:9, Saul’s name becomes Paul. He recounts his life as a persecuting nobody of the Way and his conversion in Acts 22. In verse 4 he says, “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.” Paul goes all the way back to that hideous act he was a part of when Stephen was stoned to death.

    After his conversion Paul recounts how the Lord had told him, “Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me. So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him’” (Acts 22:18-20).

    The Lord had told Ananias Paul was going to suffer many things for his name’s sake, and suffer he did! Paul actually enumerates some of his sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:16-33. The things he mentions in this passage would make the strongest among us shudder! Saul who was a nobody, became Paul a somebody when he gave his life to the LORD!

    If we want to be somebody in God’s sight and by God’s standard, we will become the salt, light and fragrance of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16). “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).

    Our identity as Christians is rooted in our relationship with God. “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). As we continue to be that light, salt, and fragrance of Christ in every place, God can and does fulfill his plan and purpose for creating us. Because of our redemption through Christ, we were a nobody who became somebody when we gave our lives to the LORD!

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