MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

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We know that all things work together for good to those who love God…  Romans 8:28

It is only a faithful person who truly believes that God sovereignly controls his circumstances. We take our circumstances for granted, saying God is in control, but not really believing it. We act as if the things that happen were completely controlled by people. To be faithful in every circumstance means that we have only one loyalty, or object of our faith— the Lord Jesus Christ. God may cause our circumstances to suddenly fall apart, which may bring the realization of our unfaithfulness to Him for not recognizing that He had ordained the situation. We never saw what He was trying to accomplish, and that exact event will never be repeated in our life. This is where the test of our faithfulness comes. If we will just learn to worship God even during the difficult circumstances, He will change them for the better very quickly if He so chooses.

Being faithful to Jesus Christ is the most difficult thing we try to do today. We will be faithful to our work, to serving others, or to anything else; just don’t ask us to be faithful to Jesus Christ. Many Christians become very impatient when we talk about faithfulness to Jesus. Our Lord is dethroned more deliberately by Christian workers than by the world. We treat God as if He were a machine designed only to bless us, and we think of Jesus as just another one of the workers.

The goal of faithfulness is not that we will do work for God, but that He will be free to do His work through us. God calls us to His service and places tremendous responsibilities on us. He expects no complaining on our part and offers no explanation on His part. God wants to use us as He used His own Son. From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition

Bible in One Year: Obadiah; Revelation 9

The Strength of Christ’s Unity, Day 2

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Call to Unity

Today’s reading is drawn from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and John 17:21-23.

Unity is a triple-braided cord. One friend plus another plus Christ make the cord not easily broken. Our commitment to Christ binds us irrevocably to each other. We find our oneness in Him (John 17:21–23). We begin to think, feel, hope, and work with unity of purpose and direction.

When Christ is the source and center of a friendship, negative forces cannot pull us apart. There is a buffer of Christ’s grace when we fail or disappoint each other. We belong to Him and to each other in spite of what happens around us. Christ longs for us to know the same oneness with one another that He has with the Father (verse 11).

To implement the answer to His own prayer for us, He engenders in us love, forgiveness, and patience for one another. When Christ is the unbreakable strand in the triple-braided cord, it cannot be severed. Praise Him for truly great friendships in which He is the strength of the relationship.

Combat by Champions, Day 2

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Today’s reading is drawn from 1 Samuel 17:26 and 1 Samuel 17:45-47.

The contest joined between the “champion” Goliath and David is perhaps the best known example from antiquity of a military conflict decided by “single combat,” namely, a fight between representatives of the warring factions intended to get an initial indication of how the general battle would go. The logic behind such contests was grounded in the belief that battles were ultimately decided by God or the gods, and that the champion representing the more powerful deity would triumph.

The premise that the people of the loser would serve the people of the winner did not suggest that the general battle would not be fought; it just gave an assessment of the expected outcome. A superior champion would serve as a ready instrument for the god, but the gods were not constrained to the relative skills and strength of the combatants. In a match as lopsided as this, a victory by David would serve as incontrovertible evidence of the superiority of Yahweh.

Other examples of similar situations from ancient sources are well-known, such as those in Homer’s Iliad (Paris versus Menelaus, Hector versus Ajax) and the Egyptian Story of Sinuhe, in which Sinuhe defeats a Syrian challenger. Sinuhe uses an arrow in place of David’s sling, but, like David, he then uses his opponent’s own sword to complete the victory.

While certain similarities with the story of David’s triumph over Goliath are striking, it is important to distinguish between duels settling personal grievances and representative combat. A good example of the latter is found in an account by Hattushili III, who defeated the champion of the enemy with the result that the rest of the army fled.

We can therefore see that David’s confrontation with Goliath illustrates a practice that was familiar in the ancient world. By any account, it should have been Saul, who had been chosen to lead the armies, who represented the Israelites in battle.