God Uses Ordinary People - Common, Everyday Folks Like Most of Us
- Summary: Does God use only “spiritual giants” to do His work on earth? No! Fortunately, it is just common, ordinary, everyday people — like most of us "plain folks"! — that God chooses to do His bidding and to be empowered with supernatural gifts and abilities to succeed.
Acts 4:13-14 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.
- •• Peter and John had just been used by God in an astounding miracle, the healing of a man crippled from birth (Acts 3:1-8). They were dragged before the Jewish religious leaders for interrogation, and Peter answered that it was “by the name of Jesus Christ” that the man had been healed (Acts 4:10).
•• The high priest and other Jewish leaders were astonished that what they perceived as “unlearned and ignorant men” (vs. 13) could do such a miracle. The Jewish priests, scribes, and elders suffered from elitism, believing that only a limited number of people in high positions could be used by the Lord. Their wrong thinking undervalued the multitude, the masses of normal people of average intelligence and skills. That elitism continues in the thinking of many religious people to the present day. But God confounded that prejudice. He chose to use those that the snobbish might consider just ordinary, everyday, common people, such as Peter and John, to do great things for Him.
•• Let’s look at some more biblical examples of what some arrogantly call "the rank and file" people being mightily used by God. And remember, our intent is not just to do a Bible study on the subject, but also to be inspired to expect to be used by God, no matter how humble our natural circumstances may be. Remember, God uses the weak! (1 Corinthians 1:27). As some have aptly said, "God uses the 'ordinary' to do the extraordinary."
Acts 22:12-13 A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.
- •• The apostle Paul was recounting the incident where a man named Ananias was singled out by God and sent to Paul (then Saul of Tarsus) to heal Saul’s blindness. And that he did!
•• What more do we know about Ananias? Was he a great preacher? an elder or other church leader? None of that is recorded in Scripture. What we do know of him is simply that he was a devout, respected disciple of the Lord (Acts 9:10 with 22:12). No more is said of Ananias. Yet he was used by God to heal a future apostle’s blindness. How interesting — an apostle-to-be healed by the ministry of a disciple. But we modern believers tend to get it all backwards. We expect the apostles and other “spiritual giants” to do the remarkable ministry, while the "normal people" remain humbly on the sidelines.
•• That has never been God’s plan. God from the outset has chosen many ordinary, everyday, common people — even supposedly “ignorant” people — to do His work on earth. Moses came from tending sheep in the desert to lead Israel out of Egypt. Daniel came out of slavery and captivity in Babylon to become the godly assistant to the king of Babylon. The apostles Peter and John had previously been fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Similar examples of ordinary people doing extraordinary things for God abound in the Bible. How can this be? The next Scripture portion explains it.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  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.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are,  so that no one may boast before him.
- •• This is a remarkable message. When God “calls” people (vs. 26), He tends not to call the “wise ... [the] influential ... [or those] of noble birth.” No, but rather, in His great wisdom, God chooses to use “the foolish ... the weak ... the lowly ... the despised”.
•• Why does God do that? — “...so that no one may boast before Him.” God does not need one bit of our natural wisdom, our noble birth, or our influential positions to accomplish His work. If it were otherwise, then such persons might be tempted to boast that their own abilities were at least part of the source of successful ministry.
•• But when God mightily uses what the world arrogantly calls foolish, weak, lowly, or despised people, then God alone will receive the glory, as He always must.
Acts 5:15-16 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.  Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.
- •• Here again we see mighty ministry by the former fisherman Peter (Matthew 4:18), now called to apostolic ministry. He came from humble birth and “blue-collar” employment. But the presence and anointing of God in his ministry was such that here we even see people healed as Peter’s shadow passed over them!
•• To me, the relevant insight here is that the Lord can take men and women from the humblest of circumstances, can put His power and Spirit in them, and can make them capable of mighty demonstrations of the Spirit and power (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
•• We see something similar in the man Matthew, the tax collector (Matt. 10:3). His occupation was a despised one in Israel. But remember, God “chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things” (1 Cor. 1:28 above). And this despised tax collector became one of the original 12 apostles and the author of Matthew’s Gospel.
Luke 10:21, King James Version In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
- •• So how would the Lord have us come to Him? Not as the “wise and prudent” — either in our own sight or the world’s — but rather as “babes”. God is not remotely impressed with our puny intellects. But He is touched by humility and teachability. Such a person, such a “babe,” God can train, fill with power, and use in His work.
•• Although I have one, I am not one bit impressed by seminary degrees. Peter, Andrew, James, John, and the other apostles did remarkably well without one! By contrast, the apostle Paul had the equivalent of seminary training, yet it took a long time — and a dramatic encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus — to get Saul of Tarsus straightened out.
•• Pursue all the biblically-sound training you feel that God has for you. But through it all, remember that the things of God are “hidden ... from the wise and learned” [NIV] and revealed to those who will receive them like “little children”. Humbly, openly, transparently, and with total teachability.
Mark 6:1, 3a Jesus left there and went to his hometown ... [3a] Isn’t this the carpenter?
- •• The final and supreme example in our Bible study today is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity came to this earth, not as ostentatious royalty (the “world’s” way), but as an obscure baby, born in a stable, who grew up in a humble part of Israel and worked as a carpenter. It was not by accident that the Son of God did this, thereby forever demonstrating to us the humility that God requires of His people.
Acts 2:16-18 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:  “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”
- •• How, then, can we minister in the supernatural, as God would have us do? How do we prophesy and experience spiritual dreams and visions?
•• The answer is quite simple and is in these verses. Such supernatural ministry proceeds from the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit upon God’s people. Upon any and all of God’s people — not just the church’s leaders, but the vast majority of “common, ordinary people” that are seeking after God.
•• These people had just received the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the Church’s first great Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:5; 2:1-4). It wasn’t given only to the 12 apostles, but also to “sons and daughters ... young men ... old men ... [God’s] servants, both men and women”.
•• That mighty baptism with the Holy Spirit is available for you today! The power of God that comes with it (Acts 1:8) will make you effective witnesses for the Lord wherever you are and in whatever may be the circumstances of your life.
•• Remember: God uses “ordinary people”! Moses the shepherd, Daniel the captive slave, Peter and John the fishermen, and you! God will use you! Give your heart and your life over to Jesus Christ, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and go forth with excitement, in His power, to minister to this world effectively for Him.
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©2009, 2015, 2018 James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.