Be Prepared to Be Used By God
Dear Christian friends,
So many times we hear people say that the Bible has outlived its usefulness. No book written from 1500 BC to 100 AD can be practical in the twenty first century. Many leaders in the church are buying that argument. I’m here on Sunday so I am taking what others have said to be true. Some have told me that when they have gone to some other churches the sermon did not come from the Bible. That isn’t surprising since many church bodies are saying that what the Bible says to be sin is no longer sin. Obviously to them the Bible is out of date.
This is one of the reasons I prepared this summer sermon series on the life of Abraham. He didn’t live in this computer age and wouldn’t have a clue what the difference is between an I-pad and an I-pod. While he lived 2100 years before Christ, he struggled with what we struggle with; he struggled with sin in his life and faced challenges like we do. He undoubtedly asked himself what he was here for and what his purpose was. God made that clear to him.
Our theme for today might make people cringe – “Be Prepared to be Used by the Lord.” To use someone has a negative connotation. Someone who uses someone is a creep. If you are being used that is often understood as a huge weakness. When the Lord uses us, however, he is accomplishing his purpose through us. That is nothing but an honor and privilege. Let's look at the life of Abraham and particularly his father Terah to help us better understand what it means to “Be Prepared to Be Used by the Lord. 1) He calls you by name; 2) There is no time to waste; 3) He accomplishes his purposes through us.
When God inspired Moses to write the book of Genesis, God had him write in a very organized way. In the Hebrew, the word “toledoth” appears ten times. It is translated “this is the account.” For the most part, the toledoths begin a section that speaks of people in Jesus’s family tree. For instance “this is the account (toledoth) of Adam.” Adam’s history is then recorded. Then comes the toledoth of Noah. His history is explained and so on. Our Scripture for today is one of those ten toledoths. “This is the account of Terah’s family line. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot.”
If we were playing Bible Trivia and you were asked to identify Terah, would you have known who he was? A clue is given: ‘He is the father of Nahor and Haran.’ Doesn’t help much, does it? The answer is given that he is the father of Abraham. A few might say, “Oh yeah!” But I believe most would say, “I didn’t know that.” Let’s face it, Terah is not as well known as his son, Abraham.
There is no doubt that Terah played an important part in God’s plans for his church. Terah was the father of Abraham. Abraham was the father of the Hebrew nation. Jesus came from the Hebrew nation. Without Jesus, the Hebrew nation and all nations would be lost.
If you look at the map on the inside of the last page of the bulletin, you can see that Terah lived in the city of Ur of the Chaldees. Ur isn’t even close to Canaan, the land where his descendants would dwell, the land to which his own son Abram would be led to, the land of Jesus Christ. All this begs the questions: Why did God use Terah who lived so far away? Why did God use Terah in the first place? What was God’s rationale? The Bible even says that Terah worshipped in heathen temples. All reasonable questions, don’t you think? Yet the Bible says that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts; his ways are not our ways. We are not privy to or able to peer into God’s eternal majesty of God’s knowledge and explore what thoughts he has or why he has them. We simply accept them, not question them. Why Terah? We ought to be asking the same question about ourselves: Why me? Why does God call me? Why does he use me? The simple answer and the only answer is God’s grace.
Terah did indeed worship false gods. The book of Joshua says that “Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods.” In the 1920’s and 30’s a lot of archeology was done around the remains of the city of Ur. Pottery was found with impressive engravings on them. Ur was a very progressive and wealthy city. Stunning jewelry and headdresses were found that indicated Ur was the place to be if you were an up and comer. But it was also a very pagan city. They worshipped a moon god, Nanner and companion Ningal. It would seem that Terah set foot in their temples and bowed down to them. Maybe that’s the reason why God didn’t want Terah and his family there anymore. He didn’t want his descendants, the Jewish nation to be fighting that influence all the time; not to say they didn’t have problems in the land of Canaan.
But isn’t it interesting that God used Terah, a heathen man but known by God. There are reasons to believe that perhaps he didn’t remain a heathen. But the point is that God used Terah for his purpose.
The same God who determines the number of stars and calls them each by name does the same with every person who lives. He knows names, everyone’s names. He is there at everyone’s beginning. Of both believer and unbeliever it is true, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” What a shame it is when that is not acknowledged and believed. What a shame it is when all don’t praise God because we are all so “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
For the child of God what a comfort it is to know that oversaw our creation but there is more. He knew our names from eternity and the Bible includes more incredible details. “He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” Our relationship is from forever to forever. Don’t forget that he knows you and wants to and will use you. He has eternal plans for you.
In fact, don’t waste by trying to get in the Lord’s way. “While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth.” This verse reports a sad but true fact of life. People die. Terah had three sons. When they were still in Ur, Haran, one of his sons, died. Lot was Haran’s son. That’s why we hear so much about Lot and Abraham. It appears that Abraham looked out for or even adopted him.
All these people that are mentioned from Abram’s family – his father, his brothers, his wives - begs this question: While they are mentioned in the Bible, are they in heaven? Did they know believe in the Lord, and did they know what it was like to be of service to God in his kingdom? What a horrible waste of a life if not.
Bill Gates says he wants to give away his fortune of $56 billion dollars to noble causes before he dies. He wants others who are billionaires to do the same. Some have said they would. That’s all very nice, Mr. Gates. I know the money given to cancer research and other causes is good, but -. In an interview he was asked the question if he believed in the Lord. Gates replied, “In terms of doing things I take a fairly scientific approach to why things happen and how they happen. I don't know if there's a god or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid.” It is a shame that a man who has been blessed by God, fails to believe in God and in his Son Jesus Christ. It is a shame that he doesn’t embrace the cause of Christ. It is a shame he isn’t sending missionaries to people in the world who need to know Jesus desperately. The supremely significant thing in life that needs to be done is be used by God to establish the kingdom of God by leading people to Jesus. Life is filled with meaning only when Jesus enters it. God used others to help us. How can God use us for that to happen? Don’t waste time. We have so little time.
God does use you for his purposes. “Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive. Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Haran.” Terah moved with his son Abraham and wife Sarah and Lot his nephew to the city of Haran. It appears that Terah’s wife had died. Another son, Nahor, didn’t make the journey to the city of Haran and stayed behind in Ur. Through it all, silently Terah was part of God’s plan.
In Luke chapter three we see the genealogy of Jesus, tracing Joseph’s family tree, Jesus’ foster father. This genealogy goes backward from Joseph to Adam In the middle of it all is Terah’s name– “the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug” and so on. None of us here today will ever have that hope to be in the blood lines of Jesus. What is important, most important is that we are saved by the blood of Jesus. What is important is that we are used by God in such a way as his vessels so more can know and grow in what the cleansing blood of Jesus means to them. Here is where we fit in here and fit in there.
Hillary Clinton wrote a book a few years ago entitled, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.” I didn’t particularly like the title because it seems to bypass the primary responsibility – the parents. If people are going to have children, then understand the responsibility. Yet we are here to help and aid.
That’s certainly the truth in God’s church. The church in Corinth had some problems with people liking certain pastors and not accepting others. He mentions himself and Apollos who served people in Corinth. Apparently there favorites caused divisions in the church. Paul writes, “What, after all, is Apollos? And who is Paul? Only servants through whom you came to believe…I planted the seed, Apollos watered it but God has been making it grow.” God uses every Christian along the way. Terah was used along the way. You are here at Messiah right now to make sure this church is heralding the message of Jesus to this community. You support what is going on. Parents, you have children and it is your responsibility to teach them. Our Sunday School is here to help once a week and every day with their prayers. Sunday teachers have a year or two with the kids and they move on. Church leaders are here to serve and all of us are here to encourage and help. God uses us along the way. The finished product will only be seen as life lives out.
That’s an honor. That’s a privilege and a sacred trust that needs to be taken seriously by us all. Always be prepared to be used by God.