God Chooses People of Faith, Regardless of Their Background – Lancaster Farming

hand holding lanterns in stained glass
hand holding lanterns in stained glass
Background Text: Genesis 12-25
Devotional Text: Esther 4:14b
As we read through our Bibles, both Old and New Testaments, have you noticed how often God chose imperfect people with great faith to answer his call?
These people were often underdogs, born of low-estate or even as slaves.
In today’s column, we look at people of the Old Testament and how they became great people of God because they were willing to answer God’s plan for them, even if they had no clue what that meant.
We begin with scripture starting in the first book of the Bible, Genesis.
In Genesis 12:1-3, we find God saying to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
God did not call to Abram because he was already someone great. He called him because he knew Abram had a heart for him. And truly, that is the way it is. God doesn’t focus on the person from the outside. He sees us inside. He sees our hearts.
God called Abram because he was a man faithful to God. God had big plans for Abram, even though he did not always do what was right (read through Genesis 12:10-20 and Genesis 16 and 21:8-20).
Like all of us, Abram was not perfect. For instance, there was that incident in Egypt when Abram said his wife was his sister which led to the Pharaoh wanting to marry her. God got the couple out of that situation (see Genesis 12:10-20).
However, scripture tells us that he walked with God (Genesis 17:1). In chapter 17, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, and his wife Sarai’s name to Sarah. God made his covenant with Abraham. Later, Abraham would become the founder of the Jewish nation. It is helpful to read the life of Abraham from Genesis 12 through 25.
There are many more important people found in the book of Genesis who had their faults, yet were used mightily by God. However, let’s move over to the next book of the Bible, Exodus. This book of the Old Testament takes us through the life of Moses.
Born into Hebrew slavery in Egypt, Moses’ birth coincided with the Pharaoh’s decree to kill all male-born Hebrew boys. The Pharoah made this decree because he was afraid the slaves were becoming too numerous and might rebel against his government.
The mother of Moses made a brave move by placing her child in a woven reed basket and placing him in the Nile River. It would be the Pharaoh’s daughter who would find him and adopt him into her household as her son.
As the story unfolds, we find that as Moses grew up, he was overcome by seeing the suffering of the slaves he knew were part of his true identity. In trying to help a slave, he killed an Egyptian guard and then ran away to save his own life.
Later, after Moses had married in the land of Midian and worked as a shepherd, God called to Moses from a burning bush (Exodus 3). The call of God was to send Moses back to Egypt to lead his people out of slavery and out of Egypt to land that God had planned for them.
Besides being born into a nation of people bound into slavery, and having murdered an Egyptian guard, Moses also had a speech impediment. He stuttered. Yet, God chose him to be the one to rescue the Hebrew nation from slavery.
From being born into slavery, adopted into the Pharaoh’s household, fighting for injustice against his people which led to murder, and having a speech impediment, the life of Moses takes us through many twists and turns. But above all, it was Moses’ trust in God that led his people out of slavery and into a new land.
The next story we go to in the Old Testament is that of Esther. Her story is found in the book of Esther. This book tells us about Xerxes, the King of Persia, seeking a new queen.
Esther, who had no parents and had been adopted by her cousin Mordecai, was one of the beautiful women of the region brought before the king as a possible candidate to become his wife.
Esther was a Jewish woman from the tribe of Benjamin. In this story, we learn how God used Esther, in her role as queen, to save her people from destruction. The plan for the murder of the Jewish people was being orchestrated by Haman, who held the rank of second to the king.
In this story, we clearly see how Esther, who was of no high birth, became a queen. As a woman of faith, we find her willingness to speak to the king on behalf of her people, with courage and humbleness. Esther allowed her position as queen to be used by God to thwart the evil scheme of Haman.
A famous scripture that appears in Esther 4:14b, and said to her by Mordecai: “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
These words speak to all of us. Are we not loved by our God? If we follow his teachings, and allow him to guide our paths, doesn’t he give meaning to our lives? We are all human, but we are not all alike. We each have individual thoughts and needs and behavior.
As we choose to follow God, he shows us in our individuality how we each have a purpose in life. This purpose is always to make life better. Maybe it’s for just one person, maybe it’s for many.
It’s not quantity that matters, but quality of purpose. This is our God of faith.
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Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh continues the story of Esther and how she saved her people.

Many scriptures, including 1 John 4:11-12, tell us our response to God’s love is to love one another.

As we receive God’s love from the Holy Spirit, and as we grow in his love, we will be able to show God’s love to others more and more.

God selected regular people in the Old and New Testaments, molding them into apostles through faith to share Jesus’ message, showcasing how imperfect individuals can grow and fulfill divine purpose.

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The enduring friendship between Jonathan and David in the Old Testament exemplifies unwavering mutual affection, support, and loyalty.

The word “heart” appears in the Bible 826 times, but what does it mean to have a heart for God?
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh is the pastor of Schenevus United Methodist Church in Schenevus, New York.
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