SUNDAY JULY 5 2020
LOOKING FOR DONKEYS AND FINDING YOUR MINISTRY
I have presented messages featuring donkeys before. On two occasions on Palm Sundays I discussed the donkey that bore Jesus in through the gates of Jerusalem. I also discussed the donkey talking to Balaam from Numbers 22. If you will bear with me I wish to borrow another donkey lesson from a dear pastor friend of mine, Pastor Lloyd Shivrattan, from his weekly Bible tweet. I accompanied Lloyd for forty two days in 1999 on a mission trip to his home country of Guyana. It is the title of his message, “Looking for donkeys and finding your ministry” that I borrow for this message. It centers about a passage from 1 Samuel 9. It is the story of Saul, the future first king of Israel, who, as a boy, was running an errand for his father, to go and find his father’s donkeys. Let me quote 1 Samuel 9:1-3.
“There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish, son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bekorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome as a young man could be found anywhere in Israel and he was a head taller than anyone else. Now the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father Kish were lost, and Kish said to his son, ‘Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.’”
It was during this mundane, ordinary task that the prophet Samuel anointed Saul to be the ‘commander’ of the Lord’s inheritance. While trudging the hot hills about his home, looking for lost donkeys, Saul found his destiny in God.
Let me again quote, this time from 1 Samuel 10:1,
“Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, ‘Has not the LORD anointed you ruler [captain] over His inheritance.’”
Isn’t it amazing that while young Saul was out scouring the countryside for his father’s lost donkeys he should meet his destiny! 1 Samuel 9:27,
“. . . ‘Tell the servant to go ahead of us’ – and the servant did so – ‘but you stay here for awhile, so that I may give you a message from GOD.’”
GOD has a habit of calling people who are busy doing other things. James and John were mending their fishing nets, Matthew was collecting taxes, Elisha was farming, and Saul was out looking for his father’s lost donkeys. It was just another day on the job, working to make a living. But when GOD has a destiny for you, and a date on His calendar with your name on it, He will come and get you.1 You may say, “But I’m nobody special!” That’s what Saul said too, listen, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?” (1 Sam. 9:21) Your social status does not concern GOD. It matters not your ethnicity, nor whether you are male or female, nor elderly or young. None of this constrains the Lord. When He has a plan in mind for you, He will reach into the background and bring you into the foreground.2 Ordinary people, working at ordinary jobs, working to provide for their family and themselves are primed for the hands of the Potter.
Consider the following examples.
Luke 5:1-2, “One day as Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him, and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets.”
Two men, sun-baked and sore from hours of toiling at sea, occupied with the tedium of washing their fishing nets so they would be ready for the next day’s labours, perhaps with thoughts of supper and rest and with a dissatisfaction concerning their lot in life, yet faithful to see the job to completion, were about to meet the One who had their names circled upon His calendar.
Luke 5:27-28, “After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed Him.”
We’ve seen them in the malls, H and R Block tax consultants. Ordinary people doing ordinary things to provide for their families. Most probably dissatisfied with their daily boring routines and yet remaining responsible, remaining faithful in the little. Perhaps Levi felt much the same, tired of the struggle, the ridicule, tired of his being shunned by the ‘good people of town.’ Two words, ‘follow me,’ and it was settled. Another date circled on His calendar and another name written there, and another Divine meeting.
Luke 10:40, “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me! ‘Martha, Martha, you are upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.’”
Perhaps there are many among us who can identify with this account. We may even be tempted to identify our Marys and Marthas among us. For now, Mary has encountered her circled day upon His calendar and as for Martha, her date is still some time off, but she too has a date circled and an ultimate, intimate call to ministry. Ordinary ladies engaged in routine activities forever changed and brought from the background into the foreground.
There are so many others we may suggest who were out “looking for lost donkeys” but finding their destinies.
Esther 5. Esther was cooking and preparing a banquet when her date on His calendar arrived and she was used to save her entire race.
In 2 Samuel 7:8 we learned that David, because he was faithful in tending and protecting his father’s sheep, GOD took him to tend and care for the sheep of His pasture, Israel. We know his story, of how he fought off a bear and a lion to the saving of his sheep. He proved himself faithful in the ordinary mundane occupation of his youth and it proved good training ground for when the LORD came calling.
Perhaps you too are like young David as he played a harp for a beleaguered king in 1 Samuel 16:23. A ministry of music may be in your future. Perhaps you grow tired of the countless hours of practice and the sore fingers or lips. Perhaps you are upset at the lack of recognition. “No one has any idea of the effort I put into this, and what thanks do I get!” There is One who knows. He has your name circled upon His calendar and He is counting the days. Don’t give up or despise your ‘donkey days.’
In Acts 3:6 we meet Lydia who was a self-employed woman. She dyed and sold cloth for a living. Hour upon hour, day upon day, washing and rinsing cloth, squeezing and ringing it between purpled hands. Hanging the cloth to drip dry, pushing aside her hair as she laboured beneath a hot summer afternoon. Her name too was written upon His calendar and a date circled. She would hear the Name above any name and step into a high calling, orchestrated by He who held her in the hollow of His own crimson-stained hands, and she would become a church planter throughout Greece.
Then we can mention the jobless street-person of Acts 3:6 who, upon hearing the Name Jesus, received his moment of calling and witness to the Most High God, and entered a ministry of leaping and singing and praising GOD!
And what of the rejected and scorned woman, isolated from her neighbours as she continued the daily mundane task of collecting water at the town’s well. She too had a date with destiny as recorded in John 4:11. “Sir,” the woman said, “You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?” What a wonderful question to ask Him! During our routine tasks, ask! He always meets us right where we need Him, and right while we are doing our daily jobs.
Speaking of water, there was a group of young sisters who were busy watering their father’s flocks. The account is from Ex. 2:16. “Now, the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock.” Again, ordinary young girls doing their household chores. But this morning was circled on His calendar. And this morning a name appeared on His calendar – Zipporah. She would go on to wed Moses and the rest, so they say, is history.
So many others, so many stories, let us continue.
How about the prison guard of Acts 16:27? He had garnered the night shift for the watching of Paul and Silas. He would have told his wife the bad news, endured her coolness as he kissed her cheek to head off to work thus leaving her to mind the kids alone all night. He would have packed a hasty meal to eat alone in the darkness, finally slipping into a disquiet sleep while the two rebel-rousers sang into the night. Boy, talk about a day to remember. “And the keeper of the prison awakening out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing the prisoners had been fled.” Just another ordinary day at work on the night shift! He was providing for his family, working as best he could under the circumstances. And what did this circled night upon His calendar lead to? Acts 16: 30-31 provides the answer. “. . . Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved and thy house.’”
He was busy faithfully doing ‘donkey business’ providing for his family when a new destiny arrived to the saving of his own soul plus his household for whom he cared.
Then there is the account of the young captain leading a military campaign. His name was Naaman and his day of reckoning is recorded in 2 Kings 5:10.
“And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shall be clean.’”
So, here is Naaman, doing his job, leading a military campaign but he has picked up a disease, leprosy. The medic is unable to help and the drugs are not working. A familiar story among many who have served their nation at a time of conflict. In desperation he goes to a prophet in the land, some dude named Elisha. Elisha doesn’t even come out to address the man but sends his servant to tell him to dip seven times in the Jordan. I can just hear Naaman. “What kind of medical advice is this! I have rivers, and much cleaner rivers, back home. Is this the help and care I get from my government. I risk my life for all those fat-cats back there and this guy tells me to jump into this filthy river seven times!” Doing his job, and the LORD’s word arrives at that precise moment. Naaman, of course, obeys, he has been trained to obey orders given by unseen sources, and he has a date with destiny. His leprosy vanishes!
So, what have we seen? None of these individuals were assuming the ‘lotus’ position, humming some holy mantra, while awaiting for Divine inspiration. All were exhibiting “faithfulness in the little,” when GOD showed up.
Saul had his reasons as to why he was unfit for the calling. I am the least of the least tribe of Israel. Are you sure you got the right person? Remember 1 Cor. 1:27 when it says,
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
It is also interesting to note that the selection of Saul met with opposition……1 Samuel 10:27, “But some scoundrels said, ‘How can this fellow save us? They despised him and brought him no gifts, but Saul kept silent.’”
Saul held his peace. The bottom line is: it is not your responsibility to convince others of your calling; it’s their responsibility to discern it. The Bible says in Proverbs 18:16, “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” It’s your gifts – and the results they produce – that validate your calling. 3
Zech. 4:10 tells us not to despise small beginnings. This week I watched a show on PBS called, “Finding Your Roots.” The host interviewed three guests and revealed his in depth searching of each of their family roots. At the conclusion, he asked each what impact the search into their family roots had had on them. And the answer of the one lady was most revealing to me. She said, in effect, “I am overwhelmed and humbled by the efforts it took others to bring me to this point where I am now.” She was speaking of her ancestors and not of the researchers efforts. In other words, all the efforts and struggles and sacrifices of our family members who came before us, down through the centuries, to bring each of us here to this point where we now stand is absolutely humbling. Our opening passage from 1 Samuel 9 gave the lineage for Saul. We too have a lineage and we must be determined to remain faithful to them who have brought us to this time. We owe it to them, to ourselves and to the Lord to remain faithful in the ordinary struggles of life , to never grow weary in doing good. For be sure your name along with a date, is circled upon His calendar and you never know the hour when God will send you out looking for lost donkeys. Amen.
Father God, You are the maker of heaven and earth and all things living and the maker of all things that sustain life. Thank You Lord, for Your Goodness and great Love. Your Mercy is from everlasting to everlasting. Hallelujah! You are the Way-maker, the Miracle Worker, the Designer of Great Wonders, the Miracle Worker, the Promise Keeper, the Saviour, the Deliverer and the Healer. Help us to know Lord, that whatever we need today, You can provide and You are willing to provide. There is none like You, oh Lord. We don’t need to look to other people, or to the trees, or to the sea, or to the mountains. Our help comes from You, El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty, the only true living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Hallelujah!
Thank You Lord, that You are Sovereign over all of creation. Thank You Lord, that You are the only all powerful one. We do not need to fear our enemy, the devil, because You are greater than he who is in the world. Help us to remember that he is a defeated foe. Thank You for Your protection today. Thank You for Your provision in each of our lives, spiritually, mentally and physically. Forgive us Lord, for all of our sins, known or unknown, and strengthen us to adversity and challenges that tempt us to be disobedient. It is our hearts desire to honour You Lord and live lives of righteousness. In Jesus’ name. To God be the glory!
Thank You Lord for Your faithfulness in each of our lives. Thank You Lord for Your faithfulness throughout the ages in guarding and protecting and sustaining Your chosen people Israel. No matter where we are at Lord, or what is happening around us, we pray that You will open our eyes to see Your hand at work on our behalf. Come Lord and steady our emotions. Where we are anxious, bring peace. Where we are troubled, calm our hearts. Where we are worried, we cast our cares upon You, according to Your Word. Thank You Lord that Jesus bequeathed His Peace to us. We choose to rest in that Peace. You are the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. You are our Strong Tower and our Fortress. You are the Alpha and the Omega. There is none like You, oh Lord. Hallelujah!
When we are tired and weary, You promise to renew our strength and multiply power to us. Thank You Lord. Your Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths. Thank You Lord, that as we let Your Word guide us, we will neither stumble nor fall. You are faithful, Lord.
Lord, You know the challenges of everyday life that many of us face, and the stress they create. And Lord, You know how the current pandemic and stories of political unrest around us are increasing that stress. Help us not to be discouraged by any of it but to keep our eyes focused on You, knowing that You are faithful to all of Your promises, and that Your Joy is our strength. Give us Your divine perspective on our lives and what is happening in the world around us that we may indeed, not be distressed or fearful in any way. Help us to remember that You are with us all the time. The Bible tells us not to let our hearts be troubled in any way because we belong to the Almighty God. Thank You Lord that we are secure right now and in the future because Your Love is unending and unfailing. We appreciate Your Word which says that neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor demons, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor any height, nor any depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from Your Great Love. Lord, we fall on our faces before You in unashamed humility and adoration, believing and receiving. We will be strong and take heart because our hope is in You, the Lover of our souls.
Thank You Lord that Your eyes are always upon us, that Your ears are open to our every cry, and that You are always thinking about us and looking for opportunities to pour Your Love and Grace out upon us. You alone are worthy to be praised, You are the one who demolishes strongholds and brings deliverance, bringing freedom and liberty at every level. You are our Healer. Hallelujah! To God be the glory!
We choose to have belief over doubt, to have hope over despair. We choose to exercise faith rather than fear. We choose today to rest in You and in Your Presence. Thank You Lord, for being our Refuge and our Strong Tower, our Present Help in times of trouble or uncertainty. We profess and proclaim Your Word to be true and we rest in the words of Isaiah 41 that we are chosen, and need not fear because You take us by the right hand and help us. Therefore we will not be dismayed. You are our God!
According to Your Word, Lord: when we pass through the waters, You will be with us; when we pass through the rivers they will not overwhelm us; when we walk through the fire, we will not be burned and the flame will not consume us. Thank You Lord for the assurances that are in Your Word. Our well-being is in Your care and keeping. Thank you that You delight in our well-being. How wonderful is that! Thank You for the blessings of peace and comfort in the storms of our lives. Help us to keep our eyes upon You Lord, the lifter of our heads.
Father, thank You for refreshing the weary, for bringing hope to the despairing, for bringing comfort to those who are grieving, for bringing relief to the homeless, for bringing help to the helpless, and for bringing peace to the anxious ones. Thank You Father, that You offer healing everyday to each one of us, in our hearts, in our minds, in our emotions, in our relationships and in our bodies. You have promised to meet every need according to Your glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
And Father, thank You for the message You have brought to us today from Pastor Bob, we are now so encouraged and content in our daily work. Sometimes we feel our daily work is a drudgery or has no real value, but we realize now Lord that it is preparation for Your plans and purposes to unfold in our lives. Thank You Lord, that You are no respecter of persons and that no matter how insignificant or small we may feel, that You have our names marked on Your calendar, and You will come calling on that day. It is our hearts’ desire to be ready, so that when we hear You call our names, we will say “Yes, Lord” and follow You wherever You may lead. We pray heavenly Father, that our Lord Jesus will be glorified in and through our lives.
Thank You Lord, for Your Goodness, for Your Peace and for Your Great Love. Thank You for the Preparation provided in humble mundane tasks like finding the lost donkeys. Thank You for Salvation, Healing and Deliverance in our Lord Jesus Christ. We give You all the praise and all the glory. Amen.
1,2,3 Pastor Lloyd Shivrattan, Looking for Donkeys July 2020 tweet.