While filming a music video years ago, the lead singer of a famous rock band beat up one of his security guards. When the police picked him up for questioning, he initially denied his offense.
“Maybe it was his twin,” someone offered.
“That’s impossible,” the accused’s bandmate interjected. “Gene’s brother was an only child.”
The faulty logic of this quote is inescapable. If you have a brother, you can’t be an only child. But really, even if you grew up without any siblings, you are not an only child.
Please join me in today’s daily Bible conversation as we discuss why.
Isaiah 66:24-Jeremiah 2:30
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Isaiah 66:24-Jeremiah 2:30. Jeremiah was a priest who served as a prophet to Judah for over 40 years. He began his ministry during the reign of King Josiah and later witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple at the hands of the Babylonians. He was known as the weeping prophet, partly because of the painful life he lived, but also because he wept over the destruction of God’s holy city and temple. Other prophets at that time included Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah.
As you’ll read, his messages were not well-received and even his hometown plotted against him. Only two men in the book were empathetic toward him and his message— Baruch, his scribe (Jeremiah 32:12; 36:1–4; 45:1–5), and Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian eunuch who served the king (Jeremiah 38:7–13; 39:15–18). His willingness to prophesy in the face of ridicule and persecution demonstrate a depth of uncommon courage and devotion to God.
Philippians 3:4-4:23. “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).
Paul considered anything that brought glory to himself to be a loss. In fact, he considered it rubbish.
I have yet to read a translation in the Bible that has the guts to give the literal translation. The Greek word “rubbish” is skubalon. It doesn’t mean trash, it’s a guttural word for “dung.” In various places, Paul didn’t hesitate to use coarse language when he was trying to make a point. If Paul were standing before us today, he would say “I consider anything good I do that distracts people from Jesus is as worthless as crap.”
Paul was transfixed on two things: proclaiming Christ and knowing Christ. He concludes this section with these profound words:
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
After calling him to be a prophet to the nations, Jeremiah responded by saying, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” But God responded, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’”
In his infinite wisdom and generous grace, God has given every person a unique mix of gifts. Then he invites us to join him in building his kingdom.
But how often do we respond by saying, “I’m not gifted like (fill in the blank of a famous preacher). I’m not talented like (fill in the blank of a famous Christian singer). I’m only an average person.”
You are not an “only” child!
Jeremiah came from a poor family in a small tribe and a small town in backwater Judah. What matters most isn’t our past but our future. When Jeremiah objected to God’s call, God responded by telling him, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
Then God reassured him, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you” (Jeremiah 1:8).
Just because Jeremiah’s life wasn’t easy and full of pain doesn’t mean that God didn’t have a plan for him. In the same way, just because your future may look difficult, frustrating and full of pain doesn’t mean God doesn’t have a plan for your life as well.
One of the greatest challenges I face as a pastor is the “only” child syndrome. People believe that God can’t and doesn’t want to use them because they are “only a plumber” or “only a carpet installer” or “only a housewife.”
You are a child of God and you have a calling on your life. Please don’t resist God by claiming you’re an “only” child.
Be Like Grace
A year ago, I wrote a book for a man named Dwight Robertson. In his book You Are God’s Plan A, he tells the story about Grace, a very ordinary woman. She lived in an old farmhouse in rural Indiana. One of her legs was shorter than the other, giving her a signature limp. In her seventies, Grace wore her wiry gray hair in a bun, along with a colorful dress and nylon stockings that occasionally bunched around her ankles.
After her husband passed away, she decided that she didn’t want to spend the final years of her life limping to the finish line. She wanted to sprint! (see Philippians 3:12-14) So she asked God to give her something significant to do for him.
“I don’t know how God could use an old woman like me, but if he’ll show me what he wants me to do, I’ll do it!” Grace once told Dwight.
One day, while thumbing through a prison ministry magazine, she read an open letter from an inmate. Bobby had just committed his life to Christ at a prison revival service, and he wasn’t sure what to do next. So in his letter he asked for a “godly grandmother” who would disciple him.
Grace wrote the magazine editor and asked if he could help her get in touch with Bobby. She had experience raising five boys, she explained, and now she wanted to be this man’s spiritual grandmother. The editor decided to help her. And to her surprise, the inmate was eager to be discipled by this very ordinary woman.
Grace began by leading Bobby through a Bible study correspondence course. Soon, however, Bobby led his cellmate to Christ, who then became Grace’s second spiritual grandson.
Several months later Dwight paid her a visit. When he walked into her home, he opened her closet door to hang up his coat—but there was no room inside because it was packed with filing cabinets and Bible study booklets. To his amazement, she replaced her couch and coffee table with work tables and computers.
“You’ll never believe what’s happened,” she explained to Dwight. “Did you know that prisoners get transferred? Some of my boys were moved to prisons in Alabama and Texas, and they’ve been sharing Christ with inmates in those prisons, too. I’m now leading Bible studies with inmates in three prisons—all from my little farmhouse in rural Indiana.”
Eventually, her ministry extended to the Caribbean islands and Latin America after some of her “boys” were released to their native countries. And their extended families were impacted as well.
Dwight explains, “Throughout history—which is his story—he often chooses obscure people who live in remote places to accomplish his eternal plans and purposes.”
Grace understood she wasn’t an “only” child.
And neither are you!
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- What reasons do you gravitate toward that communicate you might consider yourself an “only” child?
- What has God called you to?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.