In the book of Acts, Paul stands out as the most prominent preacher and apostle. That’s why we tend to pass over the names of other individuals who are mentioned only briefly. An example is Aristarchus—one of the men dragged into the theater of Ephesus during a riot. Paul was the target of the dispute, but Aristarchus was also on the receiving end of the hostility.
>Who was Aristarchus? Though not well known, he is actually mentioned five times in the New Testament. We know he was from Thessalonica and that he joined Paul on his third missionary trip as the apostle was going to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4). The next time he showed up in Scripture (Acts 27:2), he was boarding a ship with Paul, who by that time was a prisoner on his way to Rome. At sea, Aristarchus and Paul suffered through a great storm that resulted in shipwreck. The last mentions of Aristarchus are as a fellow prisoner with Paul in a Roman jail and a fellow worker (Col. 4:10; Philem. 1:24).
Almost every reference to Aristarchus involves suffering for Christ. Yet this isn’t a popular concept today. We want a Savior who will make life easy, comfortable, and prosperous. But that’s not the message Jesus preached, nor is it the example Paul and Aristarchus set. As the apostle wrote, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).
Although most of us probably won’t experience the hardships Paul and Aristarchus suffered, we must be willing to stand for Christ in the face of rejection, ridicule, misunderstanding, discrimination, and even hostility. Are you willing to suffer for Christ?
Bible in One Year: Song of Solomon 1-4
Read: Ecclesiastes 3:1–14
Bible in a Year: Psalms 26–28; Acts 22
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.—Ecclesiastes 3:1
While flying recently, I watched a mother and her children a few rows ahead of me. While the toddler played contentedly, the mother gazed into the eyes of her newborn, smiling at him and stroking his cheek. He stared back with a wide-eyed wonderment. I enjoyed the moment with a touch of wistfulness, thinking of my own children at that age and the season that has passed me by.
I reflected, however, about King Solomon’s words in the book of Ecclesiastes about “every activity under the heavens” (v. 1). He addresses through a series of opposites how there is a “time for everything” (v. 1): “a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot” (v. 2). Perhaps King Solomon in these verses despairs at what he sees as a meaningless cycle of life. But he also acknowledges the role of God in each season, that our work is a “gift of God” (v. 13) and that “everything God does will endure forever” (v. 14).
We may remember times in our lives with longing, like me thinking of my children as babies. We know, however, that the Lord promises to be with us in every season of our life (Isa. 41:10). We can count on His presence and find that our purpose is in walking with Him. —Amy Boucher Pye
Lord God, You lead me through the seasons, and whether I’m laughing or crying I know You are with me. May I reach out to someone with Your love today.
God gives us the seasons of our lives.
INSIGHT: The writer of Ecclesiastes lists fourteen pairs of “times” we may find ourselves in throughout our lives. But following this list is a question, “What do workers gain from their toil?” (3:9). The answer is quite encouraging. From our toil we gain satisfaction, and that is a gift from God (v. 13). Thank God for the season of life you are now in. Thank Him for the satisfaction of work. J.R. Hudberg
The sharp distinction between the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith common in New Testament studies has proven to be an inexhaustible mine for those searching for melodramatic ideas to bounce around during important Christian holidays. The historical Jesus is taken to be the merely human person who was born and raised in Palestine and was crucified during the days of Pontius Pilate. The Christ of faith is assumed to be a mythical, supernatural figure invented by the early admirers of the earthly Jesus. Such thinking flourished in eighteenth century German biblical scholarship, particularly after the posthumous publication of the private notes of Herman Samuel Reimarus between 1774 and 1778.
Inspired by Reimarus’s doubts concerning the historicity of the biblical record, many other scholars published monographs in which they cast Jesus in various religious and cultural roles unhinged from the supernatural. The whole movement, which became known as “the old quest of the historical Jesus,” was brought to a near screeching halt by the 1906 publication of Albert Schweitzer’s book, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, whose title also branded the movement. Schweitzer demonstrated that the scholars of the old quest shared something in common—they relied heavily on their presuppositions about who they believed Jesus was and so “each individual created him in accordance with his own character.”(1) In other words, each one of them ended up producing the Jesus they went out looking for in the first place.
Unfortunately, the tendency to recast Jesus in our own image continues even in our day. In scholarly circles, it is represented by the Jesus Seminar which refuses to allow the possibility of the supernatural for those who have “seen the heavens through Galileo’s telescope.”(2) Even among believers, it rears its ugly head whenever we prefix the name of Jesus with the possessive pronoun “my” in order to secure our turf from unwelcome scrutiny. A few years ago, a friend and I attended a church in which several people broke out in convulsive laughter in the middle of the worship service. My friend later informed me that they were laughing in Jesus. I knew something about the historical Jesus, but this was my first encounter with the hysterical Jesus and further evidence of his protean flexibility in human hands.
Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men.—Colossians 3:23
Life wasn’t meant to be dull and boring. We are not created by God to merely do the same thing over and over until it has no meaning at all. God is creative. If you don’t think so, just look around you. Many of the animals, bugs, plants, birds, trees, and other living things are unique, out of the ordinary, and totally amazing.
You were created to be unique, out of the ordinary and totally amazing too. That is why I think it is good to occasionally do something that seems outrageous to people and perhaps even to you. Do something that people won’t expect. It will keep your life interesting and keep other people from thinking they have you tucked away nicely in a little box of their own design.
One great woman who was seventy-six years of age said that her goal was to do at least one outrageous thing per week. Isn’t that a great idea? If you purposefully do something out of the norm on a regular basis, this will keep you from getting stuck in a rut, bored and unenthused about your life.
What outrageous thing will you do today?
Refuse to be bored and just limp along through life. Be creative and add fun to whatever you do.
From the book Closer to God Each Day by Joyce Meyer.
“Everyone who conquers will be clothed in white, and I will not erase his name from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and His angels that he is Mine” (Revelation 3:5).
Perhaps you have rejoiced – as I have – at the reminder that our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, God’s heavenly record of the redeemed.
Here are two more promises to the conqueror, the overcomer, the victorious Christian – one having to do with future reign, the other with our security in Him.
Not only to the believers in Sardis who should be victorious, but also to those in every age and every land, lies the hope – indeed the promise – of appearing with Christ in white robes expressing holiness and joy in that future day when He shall rule and reign on this earth.
If you are a believer in Christ, your name is in the that book which contains the names of those who are to live with Him throughout eternity. Not to have our names erased, of course, means that the names will be found there on the great day of final account, and forever and ever.
What better way could we use our time today – and tomorrow – and the next day – than to add names to the Book of Life, by faithfully witnessing to others about the good news of the gospel? Our privilege and responsibility is to share; God’s Holy Spirit does the work of convicting and saving.
Bible Reading: Revelation 3:1-6
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, help me to add names to Your Book of Life by sharing my faith in You at every possible opportunity.”
1 Samuel 16:7 says, “. . .man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Those words were written for misfits and outcasts. God uses them all. Moses ran from justice, but God used him. Jonah ran from God, but God used him. Rahab ran a brothel. Sarah ran out of hope, Lot ran with the wrong crowd, but God used them all. And David? Human eyes saw a gangly teenager, smelling like sheep. Yet the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is the one!” (1 Samuel 16:12).
God saw what no one else saw– a God-seeking heart. David took after God’s heart, because he stayed after God’s heart. In the end, that is all God wants or needs. Others measure your waist size or wallet. Not God. He examines hearts. When he finds one set on Him, He calls it and claims it.
From Facing Your Giants
For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.
Stephen Colbert is the most popular talk show host on late-night television. He has discussed his Christian faith frequently over the years; I have written about the fact that he teaches Sunday school and attends mass regularly with his family.
Last Tuesday night, however, Colbert made an extremely obscene gesture as he was ridiculing the Republicans’ failure to pass health care reform. Last May he made headlines with another sexual obscenity as he lambasted President Trump.
How does his lewd behavior reflect on his faith?
A Christian in Israel is accused of stabbing his daughter to death because she was dating a Muslim. A report released Tuesday claims that at least 547 members of a prestigious Catholic boys’ choir in Germany were physically or sexually abused between 1945 and 1992.
Meanwhile, books condoning marital rape were found in an Islamic high school library in England. Three Muslims shot and killed two Israeli officers at the Temple Mount last Friday, triggering tensions that are continuing today.
When you read such stories about Muslims, how do they make you feel about Islam? When non-Christians read stories about the sins of Christians, that’s how they feel about our faith.
Now consider a story you might have missed: Betty Dukes died recently. You may not know her name, but the world’s largest retailer certainly does.
No one can dispute that the apostle Paul played a foundational role in the establishment of the early church. We generally think of him as the man who took the gospel to the ends of the civilized world of that era. But Paul never worked alone. Throughout the book of Acts and the Epistles, we catch glimpses of people who partnered with Paul in ministry.
In today’s reading, we meet a small missionary team—including Luke, the author of Acts—who accompanied Paul as he journeyed through Macedonia. Although we know little or nothing about most of them, each played an important part in the formation of the church. From God’s perspective, there are no insignificant people or ministries in the church of Jesus Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, Paul likens the church to a body, whose health depends on the proper functioning of all its various parts. The Holy Spirit gives each believer a special ability for service within the church. Although people like Paul, who have a more visible role, may seem more necessary, in reality every believer is essential. Behind-the-scenes services rendered by less visible people are never forgotten by the Lord.
To God, the issue is not who sees our service or knows what we’ve done; He’s interested in our obedience, attitude, and motive for serving Him. He doesn’t want us wallowing in self-pity or low self-esteem because our work isn’t noticed or appreciated. Instead, we should aspire to glorify the Lord and be faithful in whatever we do, knowing that He promises to reward our service and will not overlook our obedience.
Bible in One Year: Ecclesiastes 9-12
Read: Psalm 93
Bible in a Year: Psalms 23–25; Acts 21:18–40
The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength.—Psalm 93:1
Iguazu Falls, on the border of Brazil and Argentina, is a spectacular waterfall system of 275 falls along 2.7 km (1.67 miles) of the Iguazu River. Etched on a wall on the Brazilian side of the Falls are the words of Psalm 93:4, “Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!” (RSV). Below it are these words, “God is always greater than all of our troubles.”
The writer of Psalm 93, who penned its words during the time that kings reigned, knew that God is the ultimate King over all. “The Lord reigns,” he wrote. “Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity” (vv. 1-2). No matter how high the floods or waves, the Lord remains greater than them all.
The roar of a waterfall is truly majestic, but it is quite a different matter to be in the water hurtling toward the falls. That may be the situation you are in today. Physical, financial, or relational problems loom ever larger and you feel like you are about to go over the falls. In such situations, the Christian has Someone to turn to. He is the Lord, “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20) for He is greater than all our troubles. —C. P. Hia
Lord, I know that You are powerful and greater than any trouble that might come my way. I trust You to carry me through.
Never measure God’s unlimited power by your limited expectations.
INSIGHT: Are there areas in your life that feel out of control? If so, you’re in good company. So many of the psalms were inspired by desperate feelings of fear and confusion. Yet they ended up as songs of hope in the God who has promised to never leave us or forsake us. But who is this God? The author of Psalm 93 identifies Him as the Lord (Yahweh). By contrast to legendary gods of war, fertility, weather, travel, or the hunt, He is the God who created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 2:4).
Consider the implications of such a Creator. Use the measure of modern astronomy. What kind of God speaks into existence billions of galaxies filled with trillions of suns far greater than our own? Yet even the cosmos is not the measure of His greatness. According to the New Testament (John 1:1-3, 14), the God of the Bible is the Lord who, in Jesus, showed that He is greater than our troubles by bearing our sins of indifference, neglect, and contempt. In the weakness of His crucifixion and by the power of His resurrection, He showed that even His love for us is greater than our sin. Mart DeHaan
Dale Henderson gives cello concerts in New York City subway stations because he fears the day when classical music will be no more. He plays for free, focusing primarily on Bach Solo Cello Suites because their “power and beauty unfailingly inspire great appreciation, joy and deep emotion in those who hear them.”(1) Some commuters stop and stare, curious or captivated, many having never heard a cello or Bach concerto before. For Henderson, the music is an offering of something meaningful, seeds for future generations of classical music admirers who would not otherwise know it, beauty well worth lugging his heavy cello down into the subways to protect.
It is not always easy to talk about beauty without a minefield of objections or at best complicating list of qualifiers. Its modern place in the “eye of the beholder” gives it a tenuous feel at best. It’s ancient place as a perfect and ancient ideal is equally abstract. While Henderson describes a world without classical music as soul-less, others may not miss it so much. And the contrast of beauty in a broken and breaking world makes its distinctive encounters increasingly stand out.
One author describes the common, but individual, effect of our varied encounters of the beautiful this way: “‘Beauty’ seems suited to those experiences that stop us in our tracks. Whether it’s a painting called Broadway Boogie-Woogie or a scherzo by Paganini, the beautiful is conducive to stillness. It doesn’t excite us, or necessarily instill in us the desire to replicate it; it simply makes us exist as though we’re existing for that very experience.”(2) His words are rife with the power of beauty to create longing, a desire to somehow participate. Beauty indeed leaves us with the ache of longing for another taste, another glimpse. And for each of us, this longing can come at unique or unsuspecting times—at the spectacular sight of the giant sequoias or a tiny praying mantis, at a concert or watching a First Nation powwow and taking in the colors, the drums, the survival of a betrayed people.
Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].—1 Colossians 3:13
The world is filled with pain and hurting people; and my experience has been that hurting people hurt others. The devil works overtime among God’s people to bring offense, strife, and disharmony, but we can be thankful that God gives us a tool to disappoint and defeat the devil: We can be quick to forgive.
Forgiveness closes the door to Satan’s attack so that he cannot gain a foothold that might eventually become a stronghold. It can prevent or end strife in our relationships with others. No wonder Scripture tells us over and over that we are to forgive those who hurt or offend us. Jesus made forgiveness a lifestyle, and He taught us to do the same. This is essential to living a joy-filled life.
Prayer of Thanks Father, I am so thankful for the forgiveness You have given me through Jesus and for the grace to be able to forgive others. Regardless of what others have done to hurt or offend me, today I choose to forgive those who have caused me pain. Thank You for helping me to live out that forgiveness each new day.
From the book The Power of Being Thankful by Joyce Meyer.
“And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into His plans” (Romans 8:28).
I waited and prayed in the chapel at the Loma Linda Hospital. My beloved wife, Vonette, had been in major surgery for four hours. Three weeks before, while I was in Brazil, she had gone to our doctor for a physical examination and he had informed her that she had a large growth that could be malignant.
Though he wanted to operate at once, the doctor agreed at Vonette’s insistence to wait until I returned from a tour of several Latin American countries. Vonette called to give me the doctor’s report while I was in Rio de Janerio. Naturally I wanted to return home at once. However, she assured me that she would be all right and encouraged me not to interrupt the meetings since they had the potential of ultimately helping to train hundreds of thousands of Christians to help reach millions for our Lord throughout all of Latin America (which they have subsequently done through a great Here’s Life movement in each of these countries).
We prayed together over the telephone, praising God for His faithfulness to us in the past. As an expression of our faith and an act of obedience to His holy, inspired Word, we thanked Him for this opportunity to trust Him, even though at the moment it seemed very difficult. Then as we praised and gave thanks to the Lord, His supernatural peace flooded our hearts. God always honors faith and obedience.
During the following weeks we continued to praise and thank God as we both continued to speak and witness for Him personally and at many meetings, recognizing that we are His servants, and that the Master is responsible for the welfare of His servants.
After the surgery the doctors assured us that the operation was a success and that there was no malignancy. We continue to thank and praise the Lord for His goodness to us. We know that, if we love God, all things really do work out together for our good regardless of the circumstances and regardless of the outcome. Why did God allow us to go through this experience? In order that we would be reminded of His faithfulness and learn to love, trust and obey Him.
Bible Reading: Romans 8:29-34
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Since I love God and am fitting into His plans, I will, by faith, count all things as working together for my good today and will thank God and praise Him in obedience to His command. I will encourage others to do the same, to trust and obey God as an expression of the supernatural life.
Giants. We must face them. Yet we need not face them alone. Focus first, and most, on God. Read 1 Samuel 17 and list the observations David made about Goliath. I find only two. One to Saul and one to Goliath’s face, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God” (1 Samuel 17:26). David asks nothing about Goliath’s skill, age, the weight of the spear, or the size of the shield. But he gives much thought to God. The armies of the living God; The Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel. In all, the God-thoughts outnumber Goliath-thoughts nine to two.
How does this ratio compare with yours? Is your list of blessings four times as long as your list of complaints? Are you four times as likely to describe the strength of God as you are the demands of your day? That’s how you face a giant.
From Facing Your Giants
For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.
A Pennsylvania high school banned a pro-life club but allowed a gay club. There are now more than 900 “Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs” in American schools. Drag queens are reading stories to kindergartners in a New York Public Library.
Does it seem to you that tolerance is our culture’s only “truth”?
Last week I wrote a Daily Article on the question, should a Christian attend a same-sex wedding? My article elicited a wide range of responses. All were gracious; most readers agreed with the position I suggested. However, some took different positions and several asked about attending the wedding of a Christian marrying a non-Christian, a couple who is living together, or a divorced couple.
Nearly all of us are affected directly by these issues. In order to discuss them more fully, I wrote a white paper for our website titled simply, When To Attend A Wedding. I invite you to read the paper and would like to devote this article to a related theme: What is the balance between grace and truth?
We know that Christianity is a relationship with God founded on his grace: “It is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). We are all sinners in need of salvation and sanctification. The closer we get to God, the further away we realize we are.
How can we refuse others the grace we have received? How can we be legalistic with their sins when the Lord has been so forgiving of ours? When we consider the way Jesus welcomed tax collectors and lepers and prostitutes into his movement, how can we do less?
Whether the issue is homosexuality, adultery, divorce, or any other moral issue, it feels so “Christian” to offer grace to all without judgment. It seems so right to simply love people and trust God to deal with their issues. After all, the last thing we want is to turn someone from eternal salvation because we were intolerant of them.
To help you understand the concept of “saved and sure,” here are three truths that indicate what the Lord wants for all people:
- God wants everyone to be saved. He calls all men and women to Himself, but there must be a response to His invitation. When we answer His call to salvation, the Father makes us part of His everlasting family (Rom. 10:9-13). If we decide to reject the Lord, however, then we will eternally remain outside of His redemption plan for mankind.
- God wants everyone to be saved by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 declares that our salvation is 100 percent the work of the Lord. It is His plan, His work, His gift. We have no responsibility whatsoever, other than simply receiving the free gift that He lays at our feet.
- God wants everyone to be saved by grace through faith and sure of salvation. Lack of certainty can absolutely destroy faith. If you are not sure that you are saved, then the devil will use that seed of doubt to plague your spirit every time you feel you have done something unforgivable. In the Lord’s eyes, though, there is no such thing as unforgivable. He has already established the plan by which every one of us can join His eternal family, and He wants us to have confidence in our salvation.
Passages like John 3:16, 1 John 5:13, and Ephesians 1:13-14 all point to the complete certainty with which we can embrace our salvation. Does your faith fluctuate with your feelings and circumstances, or is it firmly grounded in Scripture?
Bible in One Year: Ecclesiastes 5-8
Read: Romans 5:1–11
Bible in a Year: Psalms 20–22; Acts 21:1–17
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.—Romans 5:8
A church in my city has a unique welcome card that captures the love and grace of God for everyone. It says, “If You Are A . . . saint, sinner, loser, winner”—followed by many other terms used to describe struggling people—“alcoholic, hypocrite, cheater, fearful, misfit . . . . You are welcome here.” One of the pastors told me, “We read the card aloud together in our worship services every Sunday.”
How often we accept labels and allow them to define who we are. And how easily we assign them to others. But God’s grace defies labels because it is rooted in His love, not in our self-perception. Whether we see ourselves as wonderful or terrible, capable or helpless, we can receive eternal life as a gift from Him. The apostle Paul reminded the followers of Jesus in Rome that “at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6).
The Lord does not require us to change by our own power. Instead He invites us to come as we are to find hope, healing, and freedom in Him. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (v. 8). The Lord is ready and willing to receive us just as we are. —David C. McCasland
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing love in Jesus.
God’s forgiveness defies our labels of failure or pride.
INSIGHT: The biblical solution for those who feel alienated from God because of their sin is clearly addressed in today’s reading. Paul tells us that the sinner can be reconciled to a holy God because of the sacrifice of Christ the Righteous One on the cross. Now our sins can be transferred to Him in exchange for His righteousness. Our Lord is ready to receive us just as we are.
Have you trusted Christ to forgive your sin and give you the gift of eternal life? Dennis Fisher
As a young girl, I had the unique opportunity to travel to South Africa. We stayed for a month in December when I was just five years old. My father’s parents and sister had immigrated to South Africa from Britain and it was a rare opportunity to travel to see them. I can still remember the excitement of climbing into the Pan Am jet that would take me to what was surely a land full of adventure. The year was 1971.
Never in my young life had I experienced a place so unlike anything I knew. Growing up in the suburban Midwest of the U.S., my world was filled with snow and concrete, winters lasting long into April with rows and rows of houses lined with sidewalks. South Africa, by contrast, was a land of bright sunshine, vast horizons, beautiful ocean beaches, rugged mountains and diverse landscapes: from the dusty Kalahari Desert to the mountainous coast of Cape Town. Every place was a startling, new discovery of sights, smells, and experiences.
One such experience remains with me to this day. Thirsty after an afternoon at a trampoline park with my South African cousins, we went in search of public drinking fountains. Seeing just such an area not too far beyond where my tired legs could carry me, I ran ahead of the others in order to quench my thirst. Just as I leaned over to drink, a hand grabbed my shoulder and a loud, gruff voice told me not to drink from that fountain. It was for “coloreds” only.
Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God.—Psalm 42:5
O God, why do You cast us off forever? Why does Your anger burn and smoke against the sheep of Your pasture?- Psalm 74:1
As I think about the storms we all face in life, I can understand why people sometimes ask, “Why the storms? Why do we have so many problems and struggles in life? Why do God’s people have to deal with so much suffering?”
As I considered these questions, I began to see that Satan plants these questions in our minds. It is his attempt to keep us focused on our problems instead of focusing on the goodness of God. If we persist in asking these questions, we’re implying that God may be to blame. I don’t think it’s wrong to ask God why things happen. The writers of the psalms certainly didn’t hesitate to ask.
I think of the story of Jesus when He visited the home of Mary and Martha after their brother, Lazarus, died. Jesus waited until Lazarus had been dead for four days before He visited. When He arrived, Martha said to Jesus, Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21). She went on to say, And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You (v. 22).
Did she really believe those words? I wonder, because Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again. Martha replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day (vs. 23-24). She didn’t get what Jesus was saying.
“What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead” (Hebrews 11:1).
Frequently, individuals make gifts of property or stocks and bonds to the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. I am notified by our legal department that the papers have been received, confirming our ownership. Then, on the basis of their word, I consider the value and the potential sale of these properties in light of our budget for this worldwide ministry.
Can you imagine? I make decisions involving literally millions of dollars based upon a word or a memo. I do not see the stocks and bonds. I do not visit the property. I do not even see the papers. But I can take the word of my associates, whom I have learned to trust, and, predicated on their recommendations, I can determine how many missionaries we can send to the field.
That is what faith is all about. I have faith in my beloved colleagues because they have demonstrated themselves to be trustworthy. How much more should I have faith in our loving, holy, gracious, God and Father who has demonstrated His faithfulness and trustworthiness innumerable times? How much more should I believe His holy, inspired Word – His many promises?
However, God’s promises do not become reality unless we act upon them, claiming them in faith, any more than the word of my associates would be of any value unless I acted upon that information.
Vast resources of heaven are available to us. We appropriate them by faith. Consider the following illustration: Suppose I have $1,000 in the bank. I go to the bank with a check for $100 in my hand. I hand it to the teller, get on my knees and begin to beseech the teller to cash my check for $100. This would seem unusual to the teller and to all who might observe me for that is not the way to cash a check. Rather, I place it before the teller with the assurance that I have ten times the amount of the check on deposit and therefore without any hesitancy can expect my check to be cashed.
So it is with the bank of heaven. I know that the promises of God are faithful and true. God does not lie. God is worthy of my trust and, therefore, whatever He promises, He will perform if only I will trust and obey him.
Bible Reading: Psalm 11:89-96
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will claim the promises of God by faith with the joyful assurance that whatever God promises, He is faithful to perform. I will claim His supernatural resources for supernatural living.
You could read David’s story in the Bible and wonder what God saw in him. He fell as often as he stood, he stumbled as often as he conquered. Yet, for those who know the sound of a Goliath, David gives us this reminder: Focus on giants—you stumble. Focus on God—your giants tumble.
You know Goliath. You recognize his walk, his talk. David saw and heard more. David showed up and raised the subject of the living God. He saw the giant, mind you; he just saw God more so. Listen carefully to David’s battle cry: “You come to me with a sword, with a spear and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45).
Lift your eyes, giant-slayer. The God who made a miracle out of David stands ready to make one out of you!
From Facing Your Giant
For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.