With all the humanity that we see and more we do not, it might be easy to throw up our hands or throw in the towel wrongly believing that one person could make any lasting impact upon this world. Don't tell that to a couple of guys who started Microsoft in a garage in 1975. Forty-five years later, almost everyone in the world is influenced on some level by what began with a college drop-out named Bill Gates. Regardless of whether you think his influence to be good or bad, nonetheless his work has and is changing the world.
On another more enduring and I hope encouraging note, the same might be said of anyone when he/she decides to live by faith in the promises of God Word.
In Hebrews 11, often regarded as the hall of faith, you have two people mentioned. A man and woman who believed God and the result was overwhelming. Abraham and Sarah are mentioned in this chapter of God's Word and while most Bible students would vote for Abe's induction into the hall, others might struggle somewhat with Sarah being included. Sarah, if you remember, was the one who laughed within herself when the news came that she would have a son at the age of 90 years. In fact, Sarah responded, "After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?" (ESV) Sarah, like many today, had difficulty embracing such an idea at first. The LORD responded, 'why did Sarah laugh? Is anything too hard for the Lord?" Sarah first denied that she laughed within herself, but the LORD saw her heart and said, 'No, but you did laugh.'
Most know the rest of the story, that within a year, Isaac, whose name means 'laughter' was born to Abraham and Sarah as promised by the LORD.
Fast forward to the Hebrew writer's account. "By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place that he was able to receive as an inheritance. And he went out not knowing where he was going...for he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith, Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore, from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore" (Hebrews 11:8-12).
The Bible reveals that the faith of Abraham and the faith of Sarah released the power of God's promise in such a way that one man who lived a rather obscure life saw the beginnings of something he could not fully comprehend nor contain. Because Abraham and Sarah put their faith in God's promise, this man and woman are remembered for birthing a nation that would forever change the world. One that still is and will! God said this nation would be beyond being able to be numbered. "...as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore" (Hebrews 11:12). All this started with one, but it continues to grow larger than anyone could ever imagine, save for God who promised it!
What applications may be made from this text today? There are most likely several. However, one that came to my mind a few days ago might be framed in the form of a question.
What impossible circumstance are you facing currently that can only be challenged and changed by faith in God alone? I speak of the kind of faith in the promise that He alone provides. God's promises to us today, (some 7,500 of them in the Bible), remain just as binding as His promise to Abraham and Sarah.
Prayer is a powerful weapon that God has provided for His people to use to bring down strongholds and see people brought to God's salvation. However, prayer without faith is powerless and frankly a useless waste of time and energy.
As we pray, we must pray with the right motive in mind, that being His promise concerning His purpose, not our own. God provides the promise and we are the ones who embrace it through faith. Prayer is not God blessing our purpose which by the way is always limited when compared to His promise or His plan. In this text, you and I see God blessing those who were willing to 'faith in' His promises centered on His purpose that is designed to fulfill His plan.
So, what difference can one person really make in a sea of seven plus billion human beings today? More than you could ever imagine, provided you are willing to leave the familiar as Abraham and Sarah did and embrace the enduring promise of God through faith. Abraham and Sarah became a part of God's blessing because they believed God concerning what He said. The magnitude of that blessing still cannot be counted even today. However, His promises can be counted on because God is faithful.
Ask yourself, 'is anything too hard for the Lord?' Have you come to the place of thinking, as Abraham and Sarah did initially that you are past your prime, so to speak regarding the promises of God? With the passing of years, have you come to use that as an excuse to remain in your 'little' obscure world instead of permitting God to help you experience His much larger work, one that cannot be counted, contained, or controlled by man, only by the LORD who promised it?
What difference can one person make in this world? A lot when given to God!
There was once a story told of an older man and a young boy who were both walking on the beach. While walking the older man spotted the young boy crouched by the water, scooping something up from the sand and throwing it into the sea. The beach was normally empty at this time of day, and so the old man stopped to watch for a while. He noticed that the boy kept on shuffling a little further down the beach, then repeating this same action again and again – stopping, scooping, throwing, moving. “What are you doing there, boy?” the old man asked, walking closer. “I’m saving these starfish that are stranded” replied the boy, “if they stay on the beach they will dry out and die, so I’m putting them back into the ocean so they can live.” The old man was silent for a few seconds. “Young man” he said, “on this stretch of beach alone, there must be more than one hundred stranded starfish. Around the next corner, there must be at least one thousand more. This goes on for miles and miles and miles – I have done this walk every day for 10 years, and it is always the same. There must be millions of stranded starfish! I hate to say it, but you’ll never make a difference.”
The boy scooped up another and threw it back in the water and replied, “well I just made a difference for that one,” and went on with his work.
What has God promised you that requires faith to see fulfilled and finished? Like Abraham and Sarah, have you a promise from God that is waiting on your obedience? Are you limiting God's purpose for your life in possibly influencing thousands, maybe millions because you identify with Sarah in her initial response to God?
Many are. In fact, most are currently!
Faith will fuel your prayers with power. Faith will also illuminate the dark recesses of a person's heart as it inspires the soul to live every day in a way that sees God doing something that will long endure after you and I have passed from this world.
God's question to Abraham and Sarah is a good word for you and me today. "Is there anything too hard for the Lord?"
Think about the prospect of His promise to you, lately! I trust that for you personally, you see and believe that there is nothing impossible for one man/woman given to God in faith that obeys! Through that, God will release something larger than we ever imagined because someone was willing to give their all with faith in His promises!
By the way, when someone just happens by this week on the journey of life and reminds you that what you are doing is a waste of time, be sure to keep doing the work. By that, you will let them see that you made a difference in the one you took the time to pick up and help get back to the environment where real life is possible.
After all, isn't that why we are here? Are you one who is willing to make a difference in one more stranded soul this week? Who's your one? 'On Mission 365'
May the Lord bless you with faith that follows fervently!