So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. Acts 11:26
In Acts 11, Barnabas was overseeing the work in the local church at Antioch, and he needed an assistant. He recruited Saul of Tarsus, who was coming to be known as Paul. They devoted an entire year to the project of growing the church and teaching the Word of God. The effort was so successful that people began calling these believers by the name of Christ Himself—Christ-ones, or Christians.
Imagine what would happen if you devoted a whole year to personal Bible study! It would produce a new you! Millions of people around the world take online courses in their homes. They build specific time into their daily schedules to work on their degrees. What if you said to yourself, “This year I’m going to become a student in the School of God’s Word. I’m going to build time into my daily schedule to become proficient in Scripture.”
There are all kinds of resources to help you with that, but it begins with an open Bible and a pencil. This year, let His Word dwell in you richly.
When you open your Bible, God opens His mouth.Mark Batterson
[Goliath] looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy. 1 Samuel 17:42
Baby Saybie, born as a “micro-preemie” at 23 weeks, weighed only 8.6 ounces. Doctors doubted Saybie would live and told her parents they’d likely have only an hour with their daughter. However, Saybie kept fighting. A pink card near her crib declared “Tiny but Mighty.” After five months in the hospital, Saybie miraculously went home as a healthy five-pound baby. And she took a world record with her: the world’s tiniest surviving baby.
It’s powerful to hear stories of those who beat the odds. The Bible tells one of these stories. David, a shepherd boy, volunteered to fight Goliath—a mammoth warrior who defamed God and threatened Israel. King Saul thought David was ridiculous: “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth” (1 Samuel 17:33). And when the boy David stepped onto the battlefield, Goliath “looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy” (v. 42). However, David didn’t step into battle alone. He came “in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel” (v. 45). And when the day was done, a victorious David stood above a dead Goliath.
No matter how enormous the problem, when God is with us there’s nothing that we need to fear. With His strength, we’re also mighty.
By: Winn Collier
Reflect & Pray
When do you feel small and insignificant? How can you see God present with you and strengthening you despite insurmountable odds?
God, I feel tiny today. Left to myself, there’s no way forward. But I trust You to be with me and guide me. I’m trusting in Your strength.
If Jesus’ ministry on earth could be summed up in one concise verse, it might be John 6:38: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” Even at a young age, Jesus was conscious of His mission (Luke 2:49). And later when He began His public ministry, He depended fully on the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1).
The Father’s ultimate purpose for His Son was this: Jesus was to live a perfect life of total obedience and then offer Himself as a sacrifice to atone for sin, resulting in reconciliation of fallen humanity to God. Even when overcome with despair, Jesus did not turn from His calling but prayed, “Yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). He suffered the agony of the cross while bearing God’s wrath for sin. Then He died and after three days was raised to life, having fully accomplished all that His Father gave Him to do.
This is good news for us today because redemption is complete. It’s now the Father’s will “that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life” (John 6:40). Have you trusted in Christ yet?
“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)
The key New Testament doctrine of imputed righteousness, received through saving faith in the Word of God, is foreshadowed beautifully in the life of Abraham. Because of his strong faith, demonstrated again and again in difficult acts of obedience, Abraham has been called “the father of all them that believe” (Romans 4:11). Our text verse is quoted four times in the New Testament (Romans 4:3, 22; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23) and is made the basis of the great gospel theme of salvation and righteousness. This is obtained not by one’s good works but by imputation, and is received through faith in the gracious promises of God through Jesus Christ. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
“Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure…to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all” (Romans 4:16). Just as “Jerusalem which is above…is the mother of us all” (Galatians 4:26), so faithful Abraham is “the father of us all.” Spiritual Jerusalem speaks of salvation by grace rather than by law, and Abraham testifies of righteousness through faith rather than by works. And yet, 12 of the 40 verses of Hebrews 11, the great “faith chapter,” deal with the outward evidences of Abraham’s inner faith.
There is still another reference to Abraham’s spiritual seed: “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). As Abraham’s spiritual children, therefore, we also ought to believe God’s Word at whatever cost, demonstrating the reality of our faith to the world—as did father Abraham—by obeying God. HMM
And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. —John 6:3
Just prior to [His] miraculous multiplying of the bread and fish, Jesus “went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples” (John 6:3). That fact is noteworthy. It seems plain that Jesus withdrew purposely from the great press of people who had been pursuing Him.
There are some things that you and I will never learn when others are present. I believe in church and I love the fellowship of the assembly. There is much we can learn when we come together on Sundays and sit among the saints. But there are certain things that you and I will never learn in the presence of other people.
Unquestionably, part of our failure today is religious activity that is not preceded by aloneness, by inactivity. I mean getting alone with God and waiting in silence and quietness until we are charged with God’s Spirit. Then, when we act, our activity really amounts to something because we have been prepared by God for it….
Now, in the case of our Lord, the people came to Him, John reports, and He was ready for them. He had been quiet and silent…. Looking upward, He waited until the whole hiatus of divine life moved down from the throne of God into His own soul. FBR130,133
Lord, I come in quietness and silence to wait for You to fill me. Amen.
And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. —John 1:32
John the Baptist possessed…the right kind of vision, a true spiritual discernment. He could see things as they were.
The Holy Spirit came like a dove, descended like a dove, putting down His pink feet and disappearing into the heart of the Son of God.
I wonder out of all those crowds who saw the Holy Ghost come?
Only John the Baptist. I do not think anyone else had the kind of vision that was necessary to see Him….
John the Baptist was a man of vision in the midst of men who had no vision. He knew where he was in his times. The drift of the hour or the trend of the times in religion would never carry him away. CES132-133
The central event in all human history is the crucifixion of Jesus at Calvary. It was here that the war between good and evil reached its climactic battle, and to the superficial observer it must have seemed that evil had triumphed beyond any possible doubt.
The strange and wonderful thing is that the New Testament writers, far from remembering the cross though a haze of tears, actually celebrate it as the place where Jesus ultimately triumphed over Satan. You would expect the leaders of a new religious movement to keep quiet about the fact that their founder had died a criminal’s death. Those early Christians, in fact, gloried in the cross. What seemed at first glance to be a terrible tragedy was actually the key move in God’s master strategy!
Jesus’ willingness to go to the cross is all the more remarkable when we remember that He was the most sane, the most balanced, the most life-loving man who ever lived. When we read the story of Jesus in the Gospels we are not in the company of a religious fanatic with a death-wish lodged deep in His psyche.
This is the man who rescued the wedding celebration at Cana in Galilee by changing water into wine; this is the man who ruined every funeral He ever attended by raising the dead to life. And this is the man who, in the most poignant moment in the New Testament, pleads with His Father in Gethsemane that He might be allowed to take another road than that of the cross. Only the deepest conviction that the cross was the one way in which evil could be defeated could have led Him to say, “Yet, not what I want, but what You want” (Mark. 14:36, NRSV).
The cross is a place of victory because it demonstrates the justice and love of God. The daring assertion of the Gospel writers is that God turned the most evil act in history into the supreme act of righteous love.
The cross is a place of victory because it deals with the sin of mankind. The cross is the ultimate confirmation of the condition of humanity. But the paradox is that the cross is not only the place where our sinfulness is starkly displayed; it is also the place where God deals with that sinfulness.
The cross is a place of victory because it defeats Satan and the powers of evil. The victory has been won at Calvary. Insofar as we enter into the victory of Christ by faith we will share that victory.