On April 26, 1607, three ships arrived in the Chesapeake Bay, and within a few weeks the settlers established the colony of Jamestown on the James River.
The Jamestown venture wasn’t a spiritual enterprise but a commercial endeavor. Unlike the Pilgrims and Puritans, who would cross the Atlantic a few years later to settle areas farther north, there was little Christian spirit at Jamestown. Consequently, things didn’t go well. The community was splintered by conflict, greed, drought, and disease.
All told, half the settlers perished during that summer and fall of 1607.
A single pastor was present—Reverend Robert Hunt. On June 21, 1607, he presided over the first communion service in the new land. It was held under a sail suspended between trees, and the pulpit was a board nailed between trees. He died within a year.
After Hunt’s death, Jamestown again fell into chaos, splintered by weak leadership and laziness. Many settlers refused to do manual labor. They had come to dig for gold and they had no intention of digging for crops.
On September 10, 1608, Captain John Smith became leader of the Jamestown community. Appalled by the idleness of a few settlers, Captain Smith made an important ruling based on 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” He told them that it was not reasonable that the labors of thirty or forty honest men should be consumed to maintain one hundred and fifty loiterers; that, therefore, every one that would not work should not eat.
People grudgingly went to work, the death rate dropped, supply ships arrived, a well was dug, crops were grown, and the colony established a foothold.
In 1 Thessalonians 3, Paul addressed the issue of idleness, reminding them that when he visited the city, he didn’t sponge off the Christians there but “worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you” (1 Thessalonians 3:8). Then he proceeded to lay down the principle that became so important to the mind-set of America—“If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”
It is the same for every Christian. There is a work that were meant to do and we should be about that work. Today, I want us to see how God can use even a terrorist to do His will if they are willing to do the work.
We all remember 9/11! We knew that terrorism existed but never on our shores till then.
Terrorism is as ancient as man, especially in the days of Jesus. Zealots struck the Romans.
A different terrorism cell existed in Jerusalem, this one in the very temple against Christians.
They had killed their prophet and now they intimidated and murdered His followers.
Saul, their master terrorist, was on the way to Damascus when blinded by a light.
He was moved that God might speak to Him but what was this persecution of His. So, he asked who this was. He was no coward.
When Jesus revealed Himself, you cannot imagine His terror. He had killed his share of men and knew he lived only at the will of Christ.
For the first time in his life, Saul trembled and was afraid. How could he have been so wrong? Why was he spared?
So, he fell before Christ and asked, “What do you want me to do?”
It would take 3 years in a desert, but Saul would get His answer and emerge the Paul we know.
Paul knew what he was to take Jesus to the far corners of the empire. He would pen half of our New Testament and leave churches in his trail.
But a terrorist is never forgotten, and Jerusalem would not forget him. They would attempt his death multiple times but, in the end, it would be the Romans who took his life.
Yet, every day, Paul would rise with that same question on his lips, “What do you want me to do, Lord?”
Is there a better model for how we should live our days? Each morning, we too should ask the same question. Consider what would happen if you offered yourself each day for a week. God only knows.
Just remember that no one could have done what Paul would do except Paul. He was the perfect choice.
It is the same for you and me. No one is like you, no one! No one else knows the people you do. No one else can-do things the way you do, and you can become what no one else can. God knows that. Do you?
Many Christians lay out their day like a to-do list to God. We want Him to facilitate what we decide.
What would happen if you set aside the list, went to Him in prayer, and asked Him if there was anything He wanted you to do today?
What if you and I believed what the prophet Jeremiah already knew?
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
What if you accepted that God knows you like no other and has set you apart for His work because you can do a work that no one else can?
What if the work you do, the people you know, the problems you face and all you hold precious we part of that work that God is doing through you?
Know this: No one else, no one, can do the work you are prepared to do. The world may know a lot about you, but He knows everything about you.
Now here’s the part that made a hardened terrorist quake in his shoes: He knew all this before you were even conceived. You were no accident; there has always been a design for your life.
Think on that: Look at your life right now, He knew you would be just where you are.
But that’s not all the prophet revealed: Before you were born, you were sanctified, set aside and treated by God as holy. That was the part that broke the pride of Saul and enabled him to become Paul.
God has set you apart from all others, to do what only you can do, and He considers that sacred.
Just like God set aside the Sabbath and the Tithe to worship and honor Him, God set you aside before you drew your first breath.
If that is indeed true, to use your life for anything less than His plan is sacrilege and an affront to God.
You are indescribably special to Him. He has a heavenly name for you written on His palm.
In the text, Jeremiah says that God had ordained him to do that special work. The word ‘ordain’ is the same word to describe how God placed the stars and planets in their orbits.
More than the sands of the sea, each star and planet have an appointed place and time and they work with the clockwork precision they were designed to do.
He has done the same with you. He has placed you where you are for a reason and knowing that reason should become the goal of your life. Just like Paul, that answer is found in where He has placed you.
I remember assembling Megan’s first bike. Marcia said I should have bought it assembled but I told her I had two graduate degrees and I should be able to do it. I didn’t know as much as I thought.
I did learn that every piece has a purpose, and you can’t leave them out, but I also learned that the right tool makes all the difference.
If you find yourself struggling more in this life than you ought to, may you are not doing what God planned and designed you to do the way you are supposed to do it.
Nothing outside of Christ can change your life that discovering what you need to be doing in your life; what you were designed to do; the way He meant you to do it.
It all begins with a question every day: “Lord, what do you want me to do today?”
God of Grace, there is never a need to wonder if there is a plan or purpose in our lives. All that you have planned comes to fruition. You do not waste a moment but ever work you will. Help us to do the same. We dare to offer ourselves because you knew us before our birth. Use us, Lord, we are ready to work in the example of your son. Amen.
1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”