Abilities and Limitations (Acts 6:2–3, 7)
- What would happen if you tried to work every hour of every day?
- Share a time when you worked with a group of people who cooperated well together.
These verses explain one of the ways that the believers in Acts organized their efforts. They worked together to form a system. It wasn’t chaotic. They didn’t waste energy, time or resources. They wanted to work efficiently for God.
They recognized their own abilities and their own limitations. They didn’t run around trying to do everything at once. They didn’t try to do more than they could do, and they worked hard at what they could do. As a result, the church grew, and more and more people came to know Jesus.
Believers today also need to share responsibilities. No one can do it all. And everyone should be doing something. We need to prayerfully consider where our abilities best fit into God’s work. We need to ask God to assign us to tasks that will allow us to best serve him. And as a result, the Word of God will spread.
Dear God, please help us to know and use the abilities you have given us. Please also help us to know our own limitations. Amen.
Taken from Once a Day At the Table
Strength to Wait
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. (Colossians 1:11)
Strength is the right word. The apostle Paul prayed for the church at Colossae, that they would be “strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11). Patience is the evidence of an inner strength.
Impatient people are weak, and therefore dependent on external supports — like schedules that go just right and circumstances that support their fragile hearts. Their outbursts of oaths and threats and harsh criticisms of the culprits who crossed their plans do not sound weak. But that noise is all a camouflage of weakness. Patience demands tremendous inner strength.
For the Christian, this strength comes from God. That is why Paul is praying for the Colossians. He is asking God to empower them for the patient endurance that the Christian life requires. But when he says that the strength of patience is “according to [God’s] glorious might” he doesn’t just mean that it takes divine power to make a person patient. He means that faith in this glorious might is the channel through which the power for patience comes.
Patience is indeed a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), but the Holy Spirit empowers (with all his fruit) through “hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:5). Therefore Paul is praying that God would connect us with the “glorious might” that empowers patience. And that connection is faith.
The events of the book of Job probably took place between 2000 and 1800 b.c., during the era of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”
Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”
“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.
Any person who is committed to God should expect Satan’s attacks. Job, a blameless and upright man who had been greatly blessed, was a perfect target for Satan. Originally an angel of God, Satan became corrupt through his own pride. He has been evil since his rebellion against God (1 John 3:8). Satan considers God his enemy. He tries to hinder God’s work in people, but he is limited by God’s power and can do only what he is permitted (Luke 22:31-32; 1 Timothy 1:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:23-26). Satan is our enemy because he actively looks for people to attack through temptation (1 Peter 5:8-9) and because he wants to make people hate God. He pursues this goal by using lies and deception (Genesis 3:1-6).
From the conversation between God and Satan, we learn a great deal about Satan. (1) He is accountable to God (Job 1:6). God knew that Satan was intent on attacking Job. (2) Satan can be at only one place at a time (Job 1:6-7). Satan’s demons aid him in his work; but as a created being, he is limited. (3) Satan cannot see into our minds or foretell the future (Job 1:9-11). (4) Because Satan can do nothing without God’s permission (Job 1:12), God’s people can overcome his attacks by trusting in God’s power. (5) God limits what Satan can do (Job 1:12; 2:6). Satan’s response to the Lord’s question (Job 1:7) tells us that Satan is real and active on earth. Knowing this about Satan should cause us to remain close to the one who is greater than Satan—God himself.
Although God loves us, believing and obeying him does not shelter us from life’s calamities. In our tests and trials, God calls us to remain faithful and continue following him. How do you respond to your troubles? Do you ask God, “Why me?” or do you say, “Use me!”? Commit yourself to being faithful no matter what happens.
Streams in the Desert – May 27
“Bring them here to me,” he replied. (Matt 14:18)
Are you encompassed with needs at this very moment, and almost overwhelmed with difficulties, trials, and emergencies? These are all divinely provided vessels for the Holy Spirit to fill, and if you but rightly understood their meaning, they would become opportunities for receiving new blessings and deliverances which you can get in no other way.
Bring these vessels to God. Hold them steadily before Him in faith and prayer. Keep still, and stop your own restless working until He begins to work. Do nothing that He does not Himself command you to do. Give Him a chance to work, and He will surely do so; and the very trials that threatened to overcome you with discouragement and disaster, will become God’s opportunity for the revelation of His grace and glory in your life, as you have never known Him before. “Bring them (all needs) to me.”
—A. B. Simpson
“My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
What a source—“God!” What a supply—“His riches in glory!” What a channel—“Christ Jesus!” It is your sweet privilege to place all your need over against His riches, and lose sight of the former in the presence of the latter. His exhaustless treasury is thrown open to you, in all the love of His heart; go and draw upon it, in the artless simplicity of faith, and you will never have occasion to look to a creature-stream, or lean on a creature-prop.
—C. H. M.
“MY CUP RUNNETH OVER”
There is always something over,
When we trust our gracious Lord;
Every cup He fills o’erfloweth,
His great rivers all are broad.
Nothing narrow, nothing stinted,
Ever issues from His store;
To His own He gives full measure,
Running over, evermore.
There is always something over,
When we, from the Father’s hand,
Take our portion with thanksgiving,
Praising for the path He planned.
Satisfaction, full and deepening,
Fills the soul, and lights the eye,
When the heart has trusted Jesus
All its need to satisfy.
There is always something over,
When we tell of all His love;
Unplumbed depths still lie beneath us,
Unsealed heights rise far above:
Human lips can never utter
All His wondrous tenderness,
We can only praise and wonder,
And His name forever bless.
—Margaret E. Barber
“How can He but, in giving Him, lavish on us all things” (Rom. 8:32).
Our Required Work
Suppose you gave me a gift. Let’s say you presented me with a new tie. I take it out of the box and examine it. I say thank you and then reach for my wallet. “Now how much do I owe you?” I ask.
You think I am kidding. “It’s a gift,” you say. “You don’t need to pay me.”
“Oh, I understand,” I respond, but then show I don’t by asking, “Could I write you a check?”
You’re stunned. “I don’t want you to pay me. I want you to accept the gift.”
“Oh, I see,” I respond. “Perhaps I could do some work around your house in exchange for the tie?”
“You just don’t get it, do you?” you state firmly. “I want to give this to you. It is a present. You can’t buy a present.”
“Oh, forgive me,” I hasten. “Perhaps if I promised to purchase you a tie in return.”
By this time you’re insulted. In trying to buy your gift I have degraded your grace. I have robbed you of the joy of giving.
How often we rob God.
Have you ever considered what an insult it is to God when we try to pay him for his goodness? God loves a cheerful giver because he is a cheerful giver. If we, who are evil, enjoy giving gifts, how much more does he? If we, who are human, are offended when people want to turn our gift into a bribe, how much more is God?
Spend some moments slowly reading the response of Jesus to their question, “What are the things God wants us to do?” (John 6:28).
Jesus replied: “The work God wants you to do is this …”
Can’t you see the people lean closer, their minds racing? “What is the work he wants us to do? Pray more? Give more? Study? Travel? Memorize the Torah? What is the work he wants?” Sly is this scheme of Satan. Rather than lead us away from grace, he causes us to question grace or to earn it … and in the end we never even know it.
What is it, then, that God wants us to do? What is the work he seeks? Just believe. Believe the One he sent. “The work God wants you to do is this: Believe the One he sent.”