Encouragement for Today - Feb. 23, 2011

February 23, 2011
Not Just Anyone
Rachel Olsen

"He's just the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us."

Mark 6:3 (NLT)

Ever feel like you are just a wife, just a friend, just a daughter or just a mom?

Or, do you ever feel like you are stuck in some dead-end place that even God isn't much interested in visiting? We all feel marginalized at times. Jesus did.

Early in the gospel of John, the disciple Phillip eagerly tells Nathanael, "We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth."

"Nazareth!" exclaimed Nathanael. "Can anything good come from there?" (John 1:46)

The Jewish people considered Nazareth a God-forsaken place but nothing was farther from the truth. It was the God-chosen spot for the Son of Man to grow up, study the scriptures and prepare for His world-changing ministry.

Apparently, God thought planting Jesus in a small, overlooked spot would not be a hindrance to carrying out His magnificent plan for Him - a plan for the world's eternal redemption. Do you view the spot you are in a hindrance to what God wants to do through you?

Once He'd grown, the people of Jesus' home region had a hard time accepting Jesus as the Messiah. How could this man they'd seen learning to walk, learning to talk, learning to hammer and saw, be God's Son? In fact, they leveled the strongest possible accusation at Him. They claimed, in Mark 3:20-25 after He healed a man on the Sabbath, He was working for the devil.

That's not just marginalizing someone, that's attacking them! Have you felt misunderstood or attacked? Notice that God did little to stop these people from running their mouths incorrectly about Jesus. Instead He kept right on leading Jesus down His destined path.

Jesus eventually left His home region to preach, teach, heal and deliver people throughout the Middle East. His preaching was unrivaled. He performed jaw-dropping miracles. And crowds mobbed Him most everywhere He went.

After stunningly raising a girl from the dead, Jesus returned home to Nazareth with His disciples. Still the people there were "deeply offended and refused to believe in him" (Mark 6:3b). Although He taught them with uncommon wisdom, they replied, "He's just the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us" (Mark 6:3a).

How frustrating. How sad.

Jesus lamented, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family" (Mark 6:4). The Scriptures say Jesus was taken aback by their degree of unbelief in Him and, because of it, His ministry there was limited.

Do you come from a "could-anything-good-possibly-come-from-there" kind of town or home? Have you ever felt that your own family or friends couldn't see past your humanness to recognize your God-given potential? Has your parents' or peers' view of you limited you in some way?

After more ministry on-the-go, Jesus returned to Galilee once again in Mark 9:30-32. This time, however, He avoided towns-folk and focused on His disciples. From there, He made His way to Jerusalem where He would be crucified.

He was about to endure His hardest test—I wonder if He just wasn't in the mood to take the skeptical jabs.

After His resurrection, do you know where Jesus went? In addition to His disciples, who do you think He appeared before in the truth of His resurrected glory? The people who knew Him the longest, yet hadn't believed in Him. He headed straight for Galilee, going to His earthly home before ascending to His heavenly one.

Being overlooked or misunderstood is hard to take. Jesus was no doubt disappointed by those in His home region, and by the leaders in the synagogues whose job it was to recognize the Messiah when He came. But ultimately Jesus' identity, worth and power came from His Heavenly Father and not from the validation of any earthly being.

The same is true for you and me.

If you feel overlooked or misjudged today, take those feelings to Jesus and let Him reassure you. If you haven't received love and support from the people important to you, take that disappointment to the Lord who understands completely.

He is more than just a carpenter. More than just the brother of so-and-so. Jesus has the ability to transform anguish into peace, to trade our sorrows for strength, and to replace pity with power. Let's trust our often marginalized Messiah to shape our identity and define our future.

Not just anyone can do that.

Dear Lord, I will believe that I am complete in You. My life is worthwhile in Your service. And I am who You say I am. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Jesus?

Join us in our upcoming online study of It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know by Rachel Olsen.

Connect with Rachel at her blog and on Twitter. Today she is talking about who you are in Christ.

His Princess, Love Letters from Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Application Steps:
If you are raising children, go out of your way to ensure they know they possess precious God-given potential.

Choose to believe it matters not where you came from, or who you are related to, or even what you have done up until now - but WHO you spiritually belong to.

Where do I draw my identity and strength from?

Can I articulate who I am in Christ?

Power Verses:
Colossians 2:9-10, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority." (NIV)   

© 2011 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105


Christianity / Devotionals / Encouragement for Today / Encouragement for Today - Feb. 23, 2011