Published on December 26th, 2016
"And Nathanael said to him, 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' Philip said to him, 'Come and see.'" --John 1:46
Prior to the birth of Christ, Nazareth was not an important part of the national and religious life of Israel. It had a bad reputation in morals and religious life. Even the Galilean language had crudeness to it. Due to these factors, Nathanael is surprised that the Messiah would come from Nazareth or be identified by it. God has an interesting sense of humor. He chooses to bring greatness out of a place or person who seems unlikely; the less likely the human possibilities, the more likely the divine possibility.
The Lord laid upon our hearts to relocate the Nehemiah Project headquarters to Portland, Oregon in 2010. As we contemplated the move, we asked, "Why Portland?" Even after we moved, many who live in Portland asked us the same question. They are asking, in other words, "If you could move anywhere else in the country, why would you choose a place so liberal, so un-churched, one of the least ethnically diverse in the country, and one of the most hit economically. Can anything good come out of Portland?" The good news is good things can come out of anyplace where God is present and there is a righteous remnant who are committed to His will. I ask all who are curious about "Why Portland?" to take a visit and see a city where, despite its challenges, God is moving in a dynamic way in the marketplace. From weekly small groups, to networking events, to philanthropy, to social transformation, to equipping His people--God is at work in Portland. Prophetically, Portland will serve as one of the model cities of what God can do when people come together across denominational, political and ethnic lines to bring community transformation for His glory.
I come from a well-to-do family in Cameroon, Africa. I was born in Africa and my family viewed me as very rebellious and playful. I decided to relocate to America at a young age and when I did, I did not speak English at all. People might assume that I would have gone to seminary or have obtained an MBA, but I did not. Many people thought, "Can anything good come out of that boy?" and my response was, "Wait and see".
No matter your origin, race, education, or circumstances, if you commit your works to the Lord and trust Him with your life and business, He will do more through you than you can hope or imagine. If it does not happen on this side of glory, wait until you get to heaven. You will be amazed. So the next time you are asked, "Can anything good come out of...?" Just respond, "Wait and see." As you celebrate this Christmas season and upcoming year, remember where our Savior came from, remember what He did, and remember His words, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father (John 14:12)."
My prayer for you today is that you would not be limited by your background, but propelled by it, remembering that God can transform anything.