Ordinary to Extraordinary (Part 1)

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How would you feel if I said to you, “You’re very ordinary. There’s nothing special about you!” Would you take that as a compliment or a criticism, a blessing or belittlement, an insult or an incentive? There’s no question about it in today’s culture. Calling somebody ordinary is one of the meanest things you can say to person.

After all, what do we teach our children from Day 1? We’re all special. Everyone is a winner! You all deserve a trophy! So we give each child an award just for taking part. We promote kids to the next level even if they aren’t ready for it. And at sporting events, we no longer keep score lest someone feel bad about losing. And I get it! We’re compensating for the dog-eat-dog cruelty that’s in the world, which is fine as long as we realize it isn’t actually true.

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The fact is there’s only One Special Person in this universe, and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Unique Son of God! As for the rest of us, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 says, “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many… influential; not many… of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise… the weak things of the world to shame the strong… the lowly things of this world… to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him… Therefore, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”

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They say the truth hurts, and sometimes it does. In our case, the truth is this: None of us is special. We’re all just ordinary people. But that’s OK because in the hands of Jesus, that which is ordinary can turn into something extraordinary for His purposes. They do not start out that way. Moses had a rod. David had a sling. Jael had a nail. But in the hands of God, that which was once ordinary became something of miraculous value and use.

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We find the same thing in this study. Open your Bible to John chapter 1, starting at verse 35, where Jesus begins to gather His first disciples, and what’s amazing is that not one of them is special. Not one of them is a priest, a Sadducee, a scribe, a rabbi, or a Pharisee. They are just ordinary people like you and I. Yet by the amazing grace and power of Jesus Christ they become the first witnesses, preachers, and missionaries of a movement that has turned the world upside down by their influence.

In fact, that’s how you can tell it’s a “God-thing.” You don’t have to put extraordinary effort into it, which is what you have to do if you’re trying to get your will rather than God’s will done. Instead of scouring the countryside to find the best man in each town or village, Jesus is able to take half a dozen ordinary guys who’ve followed John the Baptist and make them disciples of His own. And that makes them special. The fact that they’re followers of John means they are already true believers who have repented of their sins and are waiting for the promised Messiah to appear.

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But now He’s here! That was John’s message on Day 1: “The Messiah is here! The Christ has come!” Then on Day 2 it was: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” But now it’s Day 3 and John the Baptist, who has no ego or ambitions of his own except to make Jesus known to the world, directs his two best men to follow Jesus, knowing that once he does, his ministry will begin to end. But he’s OK with that, because that’s the reason God sent him—to make Christ known to the world.

Let me remind you that that was also John’s reason for writing this book. He says in John 20:31—“These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you may have life in His name.” Because it is only by believing in Jesus that you receive the eternal life He offers! So like a brilliant attorney, John begins to call witness after witness to prove his case. Last week we heard from his first and greatest witness, John the Baptist. This week it’s the first six disciples of Jesus who, by the providence of God, are already best friends and ready to be turned into the greatest men who ever lived.

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Let’s see how it happened to them and how it can happen to us too. That’s my outline for this study: three ways that meeting Jesus can change us from ordinary to extraordinary people. The first change we’ll witness tomorrow: 1) He changes us from unbelievers to believers.

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