Called to Preach the Gospel

But Scared as a Jack Rabbit!  Does This Sound like You?

by Pastor John Hamel


Testimonial: "Your article 'Called to Preach but Scared as a Jack Rabbit' made a profound impact on me. I am finding speaking so much easier. I am speaking with more boldness & confidence than ever before. I minister in the local jail facility & next month I start at a women's prison. My volunteer position has turned into a paid Assistant Chaplain position. By God's goodness I was ordained during Winter Bible Seminar & how that happened was purely God's favor as it was not something I sought after. Thank you again for taking the time & being led by the Holy Spirit, to put those words on the Internet. It made a difference in my life." KH, Oklahoma, USA


"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are. That no flesh should glory in his presence …" (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)


There’s something in the above verse of Scripture you don’t want to miss.  Especially if you are called to preach the Gospel and have cold feet.  Maybe you think you aren’t wise enough or noble enough to undertake such a task.  Possibly you feel you are too weak, base and despised to preach the Gospel.


Well, I have good news.  The above verses reveal those are all qualifications to preach the Gospel.  Lacking wisdom, ignoble, weak, base and despised.  These are all the reasons God has called you to preach the Gospel.  Sound foolish to you?  Do you wonder why He would call the unwise, ignoble, weak, base and despised?  Well, God answers that question in the very same passage of Scripture.  “That no flesh should glory in My presence.” (Vs. 29)


Inability: The Rule of the House


Almighty God deliberately chooses unqualified people to preach His Word so they will not become dependent upon themselves.  He deliberately chooses unqualified people to preach His Word so those folks cannot steal His Glory when supernatural things start happening.  This is why He called me.  This is why He’s called you.  This is why He calls everyone, even men such as the Apostles Peter and Paul.

When it comes to the Calling of God, inability, not ability, is the Rule of the House. 


Let’s look at a fascinating aspect of their Divine Callings from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Believers in Galatia.


“For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:” (Galatians 2:8)


Here the Scripture reveals that Peter was called to the “circumcision.”  That’s a reference to the Jewish people of that day.  It is a reference to the educated Jews who just happened to represent the area of Peter’s greatest weakness.  Peter was a hot-tempered, uneducated, rough and tumble fisherman.  He knew nothing about the Scriptures and ran in fear from anyone who did.  Particularly Jews who were educated in the Scripture. 


All Peter knew how to do was fish, stink like fish, lose his temper and throw punches at problems.  Those were his very best credentials.  Yet, here we see God’s Call on his life to the sophisticated, high-stepping educated Jews.  Why would God do such a thing with Peter?  Simple answer.  So Peter wouldn’t become dependent upon himself in his Ministry.  So Peter couldn’t take any credit for all the good things that would occur through his preaching and eventual writing, as well.  Just like you and me.


Now let’s look at the Apostle Paul.  Paul himself says in this very same verse that the Holy Spirit “…worked effectively in me towards the Gentiles.” 


The Gentiles.  Those are non-Jews.  Paul didn’t know a whole lot about non-Jews.  He grew up pretty much isolated from the Gentiles. He was raised and educated in a strict and scholarly traditional Jewish environment.  He was from the elite Jewish Tribe of Benjamin and was one of the absolute best Hebrew Teachers of his time, if not of all time.  He even said so right here to the Philippian Believers. 


“…If any man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” (Philippians 3:4-6)


Paul’s specialty was Jews.  Educated Jews.  He probably knew more about the Scripture than all of them combined.  However, he knew nothing about uneducated, unclean, uncouth Gentiles.  So, the Holy Spirit looked at Paul’s extremely impressive portfolio and said, in essence, “Pretty good, Paul. I’m impressed with your Hebrew credentials. You are the bee’s knees of Pharisees.  Sweet.  You got it down when it comes to dealing with educated Jews.  Therefore, I’m sending you into the area of your greatest weakness, too.  Uneducated Gentiles.”


Why in the world would Almighty God send educated Paul to uneducated Gentiles?  Simple answer.  So Paul wouldn’t become dependent upon himself in Ministry.  So Paul couldn’t take any credit for all the good things that would occur through his preaching and eventual writing.  Just like you and me.


Therefore, I would say to you today if you feel a call to preach the Gospel and you feel completely unqualified and as scared as a jackrabbit – welcome to the Gospel Preaching Society, where your lack of qualifications are your best credentials.  


I speak experientially.  When God saved me and called me to preach I was a literal wreck.  I was addicted to drugs and alcohol.  I was consumed with fear and anger.  I could not maintain eye-contact with one person, let alone a room full of people or a couple of television cameras.  


But that’s exactly why God called me.  He didn’t want me to be dependent upon myself in my Ministry. That way when lives were changed through my preaching and teaching and writing, I couldn’t steal His Glory.  When signs and wonders followed my preaching, I could never say, “Well, will you look at that.  Aren’t I something?”  Absolutely not!  


Everyone, including me, already knew I was nothing when God found me.  I was foolish, weak, base and despised.  But when everyone else walked out on me, Jesus walked in and gave me a supernatural gift to preach and to teach His Word.  It is entirely supernatural.  Just as it is with you.


I did not start out preaching to big groups or with excellence either.  I stumbled my way nervously through little Bible studies.  But I was faithful to do whatever God gave me to do in spite of being scared.


A Prayer for the Boldness of Smith Wigglesworth


I then followed the leading of the Holy Spirit to attend a reputable Bible School in central Oklahoma.  While there I heard an 83-year-old man, Brother Case, speak about how nervous he was as a young man in England to obey the Calling of God on his life.  He was scared as a rabbit, too.  He told a story of how as a little boy he had opportunity to be around the great British Apostle of Faith, Smith Wigglesworth.  


Because of their friendship, he was able to go to Brother Wigglesworth as a young man and seek his counsel concerning his own nervousness.  At that time Brother Wigglesworth reached out, laid hands upon him and prayed, “Father, let the boldness of Smith Wigglesworth come upon this young lad to preach Your Word, in Jesus’ Name.”


Brother Case testified of how nervousness and lack of confidence ceased to be a problem for him from that day.  For over sixty years he had now been preaching the Gospel with the boldness of Smith Wigglesworth. 


After that service I saw Brother Case standing beside his car in the parking lot so I approached him quite nervously.  I explained that I had suffered from the same malady he had as a young preacher.  I asked him if he would please pray for me.  


He smiled and without hesitation placed his hand upon my head and boldly prayed, “Father, let the boldness of Smith Wigglesworth that came upon me that day now come upon this young man to preach Your Word, in Jesus’ Name.”  


I didn’t feel anything special happen at that moment, but I knew in my heart that God had heard this faithful man’s prayer.


The first time I actually stood up and preached to a crowd was soon after that in my Bible School Preaching Lab.  There were ninety-nine other Ministers in that class and I was so intimidated by the thought of having to preach under their scrutiny that I could have died.  There were times leading up to that day when I actually hoped I would.  Die, that is!


I Devised a Jack Rabbit Plan of Escape  


Preaching Lab was scheduled at the end of the school year, so I devised a plan.  I told myself, “I’ll attend classes right up until the Preaching Lab and then I’ll just bail out.  I’ll quit school.  At least that way I will have learned more about the Bible, and I won’t have to stand up in front of my peers and fall on my face.”


So that’s what I did.  I stayed in school right up until the day it was my turn to preach.  I even prepared a sermon, pretending that I was going to preach, fasting and praying for three days beforehand.  Sounds ridiculous, I know.  But I was going to do everything short of the preaching – and then run like a jack rabbit in the opposite direction when my time came.


For weeks I had sat in the Lab listening to everyone take their turns.  I was cool as a cucumber because I knew I was bailing out when my day came.  However, something unusual happened on the day I was scheduled to preach.  I got up that morning and actually dressed for my classes in spite of my “Jack Rabbit Plan."  The Holy Spirit began to move upon me encouraging my heart that with His help I could actually do this. 


My stomach filled with hundreds of thousands of butterflies but a strange confidence seemed to settle upon me.  It was the Spirit of the Lord which had come upon me to preach the Gospel according to Luke 4:18.  


I drove to the campus, wondering what in the world I was doing and parked.  I walked over to the park across the street and threw up.  That’s right – I vomited.  


Once that was out of the way I had the thought, “Praise the Lord, at least I won’t be doing that in the Preaching Lab.”  


I straightened my tie and walked back across the street to the campus.  Palms sweating, feet nervously tapping, I actually sat there in the Preaching Lab awaiting my turn.  My body and my mind were telling me to run fast and far like a jack rabbit, but my heart was telling me to hold steady, something good was going to happen.  


“What have I got to lose,” I figured.  “I’ve already thrown up."


The Anointing Came Upon Me like a Cloak 


Then came my turn.  I nervously stepped up onto the platform, placing my notes on the pulpit.  Instead of looking down at my feet, I was compelled to start looking individuals right in the eye all across the room.  That strange confidence settled on me like a cloak.   


I then opened my mouth to speak and it seemed as if my sermon literally poured out of my spirit.  It was working.  The prayer Brother Case had prayed was working. I was no longer afraid.  I felt tremendous boldness and authority.  It wasn’t me having to come up with what to say.  The Holy Spirit was speaking through me and I was thoroughly enjoying it.  


The boldness that Brother Case had prayed down upon me, the boldness of Smith Wigglesworth had actually come upon me, if only in part.  


It was the Anointing of the Holy Spirit.


The time passed too quickly.  Suddenly it was over and the room was filled with voices shouting “Amen” and “Hallelujah.”  Dozens of people flocked to the platform to commend me.  Many actually asked for a copy of my message.  I was entirely shocked by this response.  I had sat through many Preaching Labs without ever once seeing this happen.  I am not boasting.  I’m the weak one who threw up, remember?  I’m giving Glory to God.   I’m trying to encourage you to trust Him. 


As stunned as I was by this response, I now had the confirmation I needed.  I was indeed called to preach the Gospel in spite of natural fear, doubt, anxiety and every other human weakness.  God would help me as promised and I wasn’t crazy after all.  I continued on with Bible School and even graduated with excellent grades.  


I am so thankful to the Holy Spirit that He gave me the grace to follow through with the Preaching Lab and with Ministry.


Butterflies Flying in Formation


Still to this day, well over thirty years later, I experience a certain degree of nervousness prior to standing up to preach or to teach.  But I’ve learned to release that nervous energy confidently as part of my delivery.  


Sure, I still have butterflies in my stomach but now they just fly in tight formation.  As I am faithful to study, pray and properly prepare beforehand, the Holy Spirit is always faithful to anoint me with supernatural preaching ability.  He’s always faithful to anoint me with what I believe to be a measure of the imparted boldness of Brother Smith Wigglesworth. 


The Bible says that God is no respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11)  This means He does not show more respect for one person than He does for another.  What He has been so faithful to do for the Apostle Peter, the Apostle Paul, Smith Wigglesworth, Brother Case, Brother Hamel and so many others, He will be faithful to do for you.  


Although He is calling you to the area of your greatest weakness, He will empower you for special service to Him.  How?  Not by the might or the power of your human hand, but by the power of His Holy Spirit.


“…Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)


 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” (Luke 4:18)


The Anointing of God will come upon you even as it came upon Jesus to preach the Gospel supernaturally.  If you will do a little thing and pray, prepare and obey, He’ll do a big thing.  He will give you supernatural ability to speak to the hearts and minds of His people, just like He did with Jesus.  


Signs and wonders will follow you, similar to the way they did with Jesus. (John 14:12)  


People will know that you have spent time with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)  


Satan’s defeat will be enforced.  God will be exalted.  Jesus will be lifted up.  


Hell will be plundered and Heaven will be populated.  


When it comes time to stand before Him in Judgment, Christ will give you all the credit for what He did through you.  Such a deal!


Pray this prayer aloud:  “Father, I believe what I just read.  Without You I am nothing.  But with You I can do everything through Christ Who strengthens me.  Please send the same boldness to me that you sent to Brother Hamel and Brother Case by impartation through Brother Wigglesworth.  I will use it to seek and save the lost and to destroy the works of Satan in the lives of Your precious creation.  In Jesus’ Strong Name.” (Luke 19:10; 1John 3:8)


Go to "Minister's New Testament Prayers for Holy Spirit Utterance."


Be bold and be blessed ... John and Barbara Hamel



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