Monday Morning Devotion-November 7, 2022
Small Steps, Giant Leaps
*Revisiting a devotion from 2017 with a touch of 2022 added
Do not despise these small beginnings. Zechariah 4:10
This past week I had a big event that celebrated an even bigger event in my life. The big event was a Book Signing Party at a local store (Hearth&Soul). In fact, it could be said that it came about because of a Giant Leap in my life. That was the publication of my new book: Seeing the Invisible, Doing the Impossible. The small steps that led to it took 10 years of many prayers while grinding away, being frustrated but not giving up until finally I was led to a publisher who saw value in my work. Now the book can be accessed practically all over the world on the internet through Amazon. This devotion reminded me of how God works and how we need to keep on taking those small steps for a bigger reward. And I feel like in my particular situation that giant leap will keep on coming for a while.
Looking at the devotional title you probably thought we would talk about man's first steps on the moon. Wrong. Not even going to mention it. :)
Let's talk about small steps, i.e., small beginnings and where they can take us. As you remember, the magnificent temple that Solomon built was destroyed by enemies and the Israelites were taken captive. That had been some kind of an amazing temple.
Reading about the building of that temple I learned that it was an enormous task that required 30,000 workers employed in cutting timber from the cedars of Lebanon; 80,000 cutters of stone in the quarries of Jerusalem, 70,000 ordinary workers and many superintendents."
When it was finished…talk about a party! They put one on. The elaborate program of dedication (i.e. extravaganza) lasted seven days. Solomon invited the leaders of all of the twelve tribes. The Ark of the Covenant was brought into the most sacred place in the temple. While that was happening a cloud filled the room to hide God's presence.
King Solomon said a prayer of dedication, blessed the crowd, recounted the history of building the temple, then offered long prayers of dedication while standing at the altar. This was big time stuff.
But Solomon got carried away with the power and wealth of his office and neglected to promote the religious life of his people. (Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary). Therefore, the temple was destroyed in the Siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BCE. It had stood for 410 years!
When the Jewish Exiles were allowed to return to Jerusalem under King Cyrus the Great's regime they began work on a new temple. It was completed in 516 BCE. But all was not peaches and cream in the kingdom. The Life Application Bible (LAB) points out:
“Many of the older Jews were disheartened when they realized this new temple would not match the size and splendor of the previous temple built during King Solomon's reign.”
Continuing with that message from LAB here's a lesson for us. "But bigger and more beautiful is not always better. What you do for God may seem small and insignificant at the time, but God rejoices in what is right, not necessarily in what is big. Be faithful in small opportunities. Begin where you are and do what you can and leave the results to God."
Bingo! Small steps can lead to Giant leaps!
Those older Israelites were so tied up in remembering the "Good old days" they forgot to remember the "bad old days." They forgot how it was in captivity and how this kind-hearted king had given them a new start.
No this wasn't a magnificent temple, but it wasn't chopped liver. And more importantly it was theirs and it was a new start. They were ready to write new chapters in history and they weren't even paying attention to what a great opportunity God had provided for them.
Mark Batterson says; "Very rarely does anyone know they are making history while they are making it."
I have fancy a bookmark that I picked up in London at 221B Baker Street. Does that address sound familiar? Sure, it does. It's the home of Sherlock Holmes, the great fictional detective. Anyway, the quote from Holmes on the bookmark says: "Nothing is more deceptive than an obvious fact."
It was obvious that the fate of the Israelites had taken a turn for the better. They were deceived by the obvious fact that the temple was not as big, jaw-droppingly magnificent as Solomon's temple was.
So what? It beats worshiping in tents. Our church, Good Samaritan got its start in a school cafeteria. We called it the "Temple of the Sloppy Joe" because we had to do a lot of housecleaning (tables smeared with Sloppy Joe sauce, peanut butter & jelly, etc) each Sunday morning before we could get it ready for Worship Services. (And now, 16 years later, both of granddaughters---Quinn and Ellee--- go to school and eat in that same cafeteria where our church got its start.)
Now God has blessed us, at Good Samaritan, with not one but two beautiful buildings. I'm sure we can find things wrong with each building without even exerting ourselves. The fact is that those small beginnings have now birthed a beautiful place to worship the Lord.
There were lots of small steps that had to be taken before we made the giant leap to our present location. So, we could choose to complain about the acoustics, the mortgage payments, or other distractions. Yes, the buildings are not perfect. But they present us with a great place, day in and day out, to worship the Lord. They were made to help us grow the Kingdom through Good Samaritan.
We can step back and look at our buildings and see all the ministries we have going and we can see God's fingerprints of favor all around us.
Let me close with the words of Mark Batterson which really are based on Zechariah 4:10:
"If we do the little things God will do the big things. We cannot worry about what we cannot do, we have to simply do what we can do. We have to be exceptional in ordinary things." God will perform a makeover!
It is important to remember that "no one is greater than their prayer life. So, if we pray about it and do the ordinary God will add the extra to it."
"Do not despise these small beginnings." Welcome them. Work faithfully at these tasks even though you can't see what's ahead. God can! These small steps will be rewarded with giant leaps.
Prayer: Lord lead us through these small steps to giant leaps of growth in our faith and trust in You! Amen!