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When God Blesses Small Things
by Jim Appleby, pastor at White Head Baptist Church

The Bible is filled with intriguing questions! One such question is found in Zechariah 4:10, where we read, “For who hath despised the day of small things?” We live in an age and culture which despises small things. “Small” just isn’t “in” today; rather, “mega” is the watchword. And, sadly, the Church has bought into the “bigger is better” philosophy.

Someone once said that “faithfulness in small things is a big thing to God.” Small things matter to God! And God is in the business of doing great miracles with “small” things, when we faithfully entrust them into His keeping. No better example can be found in the Scriptures than in the opening verses of John 6, where a boy entrusted his “small” lunch to Jesus. The disciples, like so many today, focused on the size rather than the Saviour. All they saw was a “small” boy with a “small” lunch and concluded, “What are they among so many?”

The truth is that, for the vast majority of Christians, the service God calls us to will be considered “small” by the world’s standards. Most pastors – especially in our geographical location – will be called to pastor “small” congregations of believers. The danger comes when we look at numbers and adopt a “small” vision, concluding – like the disciples – “What are they among so many?”

Just over 5 years ago, God led us to pastor a “small” work on a “small” island. How small? Well, so small that most New Brunswickers know nothing of our island. Located off Grand Manan – our island has a population of about 330 in the summer and about 175 in the winter. Besides homes, we have one store, one post office, one school (grades K through 6) and one church. The economy here depends upon one industry – lobsters.

By most standards, our church is “small”, with a weekly attendance of around 75 people. I never intended to pastor here. For that matter, I never intended to pastor anywhere! After 21 years in youth ministry, I was working in construction, waiting for God’s direction for my life. One day, I received a phone call asking if I would “fill in” for a Sunday, since the church here was without a pastor at the time. That visit turned into a year of “filling in” until the Lord led us to pastor White Head Baptist Church.

Perhaps one of the greatest blessings in pastoring this “small” congregation of believers – and there are many – is that they have a “big” vision. I credit that vision to the faithful teaching of the Word by previous pastors who have kept before the people our Lord’s command to be “witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem … and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

The highlight of the each year is our Missions Conference, which was held this year on October 12th through 16th. God did “big” things through our “small” church during these blessed days! What a blessing our Conference speaker was! He had never been to our island before, but God used him, and his wife, to encourage and challenge us to trust God to do great things – to allow Him to open doors of opportunity for us to spread the Gospel “across the street and around the world.”
We were blessed with reports from a number of our missionaries who are serving the Lord in Canada, Japan and Bolivia. One of the highlights this year was a visit by a national believer from West Bengal, India, who told how he came to faith in Christ and how God had called him to reach the lost of his own country.

Missions “faith promise” giving was introduced here many years ago, and God has done great things through the years. This year, we had set a goal of $70,000 for missions, over and above our general giving, – a modest increase over what had been promised last year.

Earlier, I had preached on what the Scriptures say about giving, especially about what it means to give “by faith”, and how we are to give gratefully, eagerly, intimately, cheerfully and sacrificially – that giving to God does not depend upon my circumstances, nor by what I feel I can afford.

When our faith promise offering was received, our missions treasurer went downstairs to add up the figures. A few minutes later, she returned and handed me a slip of paper with the total. Our conference speaker was preaching when she did this, so I put the paper into my pocket without looking at it. I must confess that there are few things more difficult than to sit through the remainder of the message with this paper in my pocket. Our conference speaker stopped his preaching, looked down at me and said, “Pastor, why don’t you tell us what has been promised for missions for the coming year.” I stood, opened the paper and hesitated for just a moment. The total was over $89,000! Our only response was, “To God be the glory, great things He hath done!”

Let me make it very clear that this is not a lesson in “money” – this is a lesson in faith, a lesson in what great things God can do with “small things”. And when we give back to God, in faith, whatever He has entrusted into our keeping, He’ll multiply it far beyond our expectations.

Missions has fallen on hard times in recent years. William Carey, the great missionary statesman of years gone by, said, “Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God.” What a privilege to see God use our “small” congregation to spread the Gospel “in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

God is a great God, doing great things. He is not limited by size. He does not despise “small things”, but wants to use us to do great things. Do we dare, then, to conclude, “What are they among so many?”



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