God knows something about small beginnings that we don’t, said Paul Scanlon as he preached a timely message of not giving up during tough times.
Zechariah 4:10 says “For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the Lord, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”
With this passage, Paul Scanlon, the former senior pastor of Life Church, UK, and an international speaker today, began his sermon to encourage the City Harvest congregation to stay strong in the difficult days of small beginnings. Scanlon preached at CHC two weekends in a row: Aug 16-17 and Aug 23-24.
Giving the background to the verse in Zechariah, Scanlon said that God gave Zechariah the daunting task of rebuilding the temple when the Hebrews returned from exile.
“It’s daunting because they were returning from exile after 70 years; they had no resources and no finances,” Scanlon explained. Yet, of all the things God could have said to Zechariah to encourage him, He said, “Don’t despise the small beginnings”.
“God knows something about small beginnings that we don’t.” Scanlon went on to describe small beginnings as the start of relationships, an education, business ideas or simply answering a call from God. The beginning of a new venture is difficult, demanding and painful but God calls us not to quit.
“Many people don’t realize their dreams because they can’t get past this difficult stage,” said Scanlon. “But everything begins small and God is committed to small beginnings. In that small beginning, God wants to do a work in our heart that can only happen during this stage.”
Jesus went through small beginnings Himself. On the day of crucifixion, none of His followers was with Him, not even the 12 disciples. Scanlon said that if anyone were to take a photograph of Jesus on the cross, He would be considered a failure in that moment. There was no church, no resurrection and it seemed like nothing He had said and promised would ever happened.
Yet, from this small beginning on the cross, millions have come to Christ in the two millennia that followed.
“Never take a photograph of people and allow that difficult moment to freeze in time. Don’t do it to yourself especially, because what you cry about today may be something you laugh about it in a month, or in a year. Take a video instead—it can be your finest moment. The best is yet to come.”
Addressing the recent passing of the renowned comedian Robin Williams, Scanlon said, “I wonder how many people who knew Robin Williams had a thought to call, text or mail him, or reach out to him in some way in the days prior to his suicide.”
He urged the congregation to reach out to their friends who were starting a new venture with a text of encouragement. “A text or email may not solve depression or financial problems, but it’ll bring light to them.”
Reading from Matthew 25, Scanlon explained that the parable of the talents in that chapter is a lesson on remaining faithful in the little things. In the days of small beginning, resources are few and help is scarce—that is when a person’s faithfulness is tested.
“That is the time where you cultivate gratitude. Because help is so limited, you are grateful for whoever comes along to offer help.”
God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is not limited to time and space like Man and thus does not think like Man. In fact, God knows the ending a person will have when he is still in his beginning. The devil will try to bring temptations and struggles because he knows that if he can get a person to quit while he is at the beginning, the person will never reach the end that God has prepared for him.
“God is committed to small beginnings,” Scanlon encouraged the congregation in conclusion. “In the small beginnings, God is building things in your life that He can’t build later. Don’t despise that this time that you have and don’t give up, or the things that God has written in the future will never come to pass.”
Tian Ming, 23, a university student shared his takeaway from Scanlon’s message: “Be diligent and don’t waver. Have a positive attitude and don’t give up because God is working in us, preparing us for the future.”