Making A Difference
1.  Make A Difference Day

"And of some have compassion, making a difference:"  Jude 22

The fourth Saturday in October is "Make A Difference Day".  Since 1992 Newspapers and Magazines have been celebrating the lives of those who give of themselves through community service to improve the lives of others.  Editors choose who to feature in their articles from stories that are sent in by their readers.  For the next two weeks I would like to look at different people in the Bible who made a difference.  Some are well known such as Noah and Jonah, while others really had an impact on people around them, but have gone nameless through centuries.  As we look at these real heroes, you may want to look at your own life and try to make a difference for others. 


2.  Jesus, The Most Compassionate Man Of All Time

In looking at Jude 22, "And of some have compassion, making a difference:" our first choice for our Bible Make A Difference Day is Jesus Christ, the most compassionate man who ever lived.  There are several verses which tell us that Jesus had compassion on His followers as He healed the sick (Matthew 14:14), fed the hungry (Matthew 15:32), and opened blinded eyes (Matthew 20:34).  There are more verses such as these, but the one that matters most to me is found in Matthew 9:36.  "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd."  In His compassion, Jesus became the Good Shepherd.  "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep."  (John 10:11)   When I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and come into my heart, I became one of His sheep.  "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.  As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.  And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."  (John 10:14-16)  I am so thankful that I heard His voice when I was about eight years old, and I answered His call.  On that day He made a difference in my life, and continues to make a difference in the most positive sort of ways.  Not only did He promise me eternal life in heaven, but He gives me strength and healing just as He healed the sick so long ago.  He supplies my needs and provides my food and water just as He fed the multitudes on the hillside.  He opened my eyes that were blinded with sin and continues to lead me and guide me in His Light.  And He knows me!  I don't know any famous or important people in our society, but I know the Lord, and He knows me.  He knows all my faults and failures, but He still loves me!  He has made the greatest difference in my life, and He can do the same for you if you ask and believe.


3.  David - Fighting Battles To Make A Difference

I am deeply saddened to see the disrespect and even hatred that some people have for our police force and people in authority.  It is hard to understand how people can turn against those trying to protect them.  In our Bible lesson today we see that sometimes when we fight for right, our victory turns the very people we were trying to help, against us.  David was a young boy who killed Goliath, the Philistine giant and enemy of Israel.  He made a difference that day in battle because the Israelites gained confidence in his courage and defeated the Philistines.  As they went back home he was greeted as a hero. "And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.  And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?   And Saul eyed David from that day and forward."  (I Samuel 18:7-9)  King Saul was not used to sharing the victory.  Have you ever noticed how he took credit for his son's victory in I Samuel 13:3-4?  "And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.  And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal."  King Saul tried to kill David, and even threw a javelin at Jonathan because of his friendship towards David.  David fought courageously and won the battle, making a difference for Israel, but he had to run for his life when King Saul turned against him.  We can learn from David's battle.  An example that I think of today would be when someone tries to help a friend in an abusive relationship.  You may do all you can to help that person in her battle, only to find that she turns against you in the end.  Don't stop trying to help people win their battles, just be prepared because sometimes the battle turns away from them, and turns against you.


4.  You Are Not Too Small To Make A Difference

My next nomination for the Bible Make A Difference Day is someone that might surprise you.  I don't even know her name, but she made a big difference for Naaman.

"1  Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
2  And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife.
3  And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
4  And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
5  And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
6  And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
7  And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
8  And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel."  (II Kings 5:1-8)

I chose this little girl to encourage us to do what we can and tell what we know about the Lord.  She had been taken from her family and home to a strange, foreign land to be a servant.  She could not help her own situation, but she saw the opportunity to help someone else.  She told her mistress about the prophet Elisha.  Even when we can't do anything else to help someone, we can tell them what we know about the Lord because He can make a difference in his or her life.


5.  Daniel - To Make A Difference, Be Different

If we really want to make a difference for Christ, then we have to be different.  Daniel was another young person who was carried away to a strange land into captivity.  Look at how this group of children were chosen.  "And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes;  Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.  And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king."  (Daniel 1:3-5)  Daniel was born in royalty, with no physical blemishes, and he was very smart and skilled.  Suddenly all his life changed and all his freedom was taken away. "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself."  (Daniel 1:8)  He chose to be different and took a stand on his convictions.  Daniel never returned to his home land, but he made a difference in Babylon.  The book of Daniel is filled with wonderful, amazing, stories and miracles that show how he made a difference.  He lived through the reigns of several kings (Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus) and was an old man when he was thrown in the den of lions.  He not only interpreted dreams, but also the handwriting on the wall.  He was given great prophetic visions, some which came to pass, and some still to come.  All because, at a young age, he "purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself."  I believe that the influence of Daniel extended long beyond his years.  I believe that the wise men of the east who followed the star to worship Jesus had learned of His coming through Daniel's wisdom, passed down through generations.
I close with these verses of Paul who tells us to separate ourselves from the world.  If we want to make a difference as Christians, we must be different.

"14  Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
18  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."  (II Corinthians 6:14-18)


6.  Jonah - He Got A Second Chance To Make A Difference

God told Jonah to go and preach to Nineveh.  The people of Nineveh were wicked people and they were enemies to Israel, so Jonah got on a boat to go as far away from God's direction as he could go.  You have probably heard the story... God sent a storm and the mariners threw Jonah overboard and he was in the belly of a whale for three days.  Jonah prayed.  The whale spit Jonah onto dry land and again God told Jonah to go preach to Nineveh.

"3  So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.
4  And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5  So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
6  For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7  And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
8  But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
9  Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
10  And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."  (Jonah 3:3-10)

Jonah got a second chance to do what God told him to do.  He preached to Nineveh and everyone in the city repented.  They even put the sackcloth of repentance on their animals.  Jonah's witness made a difference in Nineveh and God did not destroy the city, where there were "more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand."  (Jonah 4:11)

Many people have crossed my path through the years and I did not tell them about my Lord, and I will not get a second chance.  But, I am thankful for the times I did get a second chance, or third, or more.  Sometimes God would put a special person on my heart and I would say a little to them the first time, about how God had been so good to me, then say a little more the next time, and pray that God would give me the words to say each time we met.  I am thankful for second chances.  I feel like I fail Him so many times, but I praise Him for second chances.


7.  Noah - Make A Difference For Your Family

We looked at Nineveh and how all the people, from the king on the throne, to the lowest servant, all repented at the preaching of Jonah.  Today we see a man who was "a preacher of righteousness" (II Peter 2:5) but the people did not listen.  In chapter three of Genesis, Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden.  Just three chapters later people were so wicked, "And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years."  (Genesis 6:3) God gave Noah time to build the ark and prepare the food for the animals, and I believe Noah tried to warn the people as they gathered to see what he was building.  Only eight people were saved from the flood.  It must have been great sorrow for Noah to think about all the people he knew that would not believe.  Noah was six hundred years old when he went into the ark.  He had brothers and sisters that did not listen.  He had aunts and uncles that would not listen.  How sad it must have been to hear them screaming and maybe pounding on the sides of the ark.  Noah may have even felt like he didn't make much of a difference, since there were only eight people saved.  But he made a great difference.  In saving his family, he saved the human race.  He saved the animals from being destroyed and becoming extinct.  Sometimes we may feel like we have not done much for the Lord, but if we lead our families to the Lord, we have made an eternal difference in their lives.


8.  Elijah - His Prayer Made A Difference

I get discouraged when I look around at the sin in our country and I sometimes feel that it is too bad to ever be corrected.  But then I read in my Bible and see that there were times in the past when the Israelites had kings and leaders who led the people away from God.  We read of King Omri in I Kings 16:25, "But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him."  If that wasn't bad enough, his son was King Ahab and he was worse than his father.  " And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him."  (I Kings 16:33)  Elijah was a prophet of God, and he thought it was time to get Ahab's attention.  "And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word."  (I Kings 17:1)  Elijah prayed and God answered.  James tells us that Elijah was a man, but he prayed earnestly.  "... pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit."  (James 5:16-18)  Elijah made a difference through his prayer life.  I believe that is the one thing that all of us can do to make a difference in our country.  We need to humble ourselves before God and pray earnestly that He will give us leaders who will turn to God for guidance.  God wants us to pray.  "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."  (I Timothy 2:1-4)  We also have the promise of God found in II Chronicles 7:14.  "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."  God is our only hope. 


9.  The Leper - Giving Thanks Made A Difference

Just as prayer can make a difference, giving thanks to God can also make a difference.  This is illustrated in the healing of the ten lepers.

"11  And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12  And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13  And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14  And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16  And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17  And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18  There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19  And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole." (Luke 17:11-19)

The one leper who returned to give thanks had saving faith and was made whole.  When we sat down to lunch today my three year old grandson started to eat and Susanna said, "Wait, we have to say the blessing."  He replied, "Why?" and she did a good job in reminding him that God gives us our food and we thank Him and ask Him to bless it.  We need to remind our children to say, "Thank you" and give God thanks in prayer.  A mom once told me that she didn't make her children say, "Thank you" because it doesn't mean anything unless they mean it when they say it.  I agree that we need to mean it when we say it, but I also believe that this is an important habit we need to teach to our children.  There are many scriptures in God's Word that tell us to give thanks.  "O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever."  (Psalms 107:1)  Jesus gave us the example of giving thanks, not only when they were eating, but also at the resurrection of Lazarus.  "Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.  And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.  And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth." (John 11:41-43)  It means a lot to me when I do something for someone and they say, "Thank you" and show their appreciation.  It makes me want to help them again later on.  I think God also likes to hear us give thanks to Him.


10.  Shammah - Defend Your Ground

I just finished reading Second Samuel and wanted to mention a few things that stuck with me.  This book follows King David, and I know we have already looked at the difference he made in killing Goliath, but I want to mention the last few chapters.  Chapter 22 is David's song of deliverance.  The song begins, "The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;  The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.  I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised:..."  (II Samuel 22:2-4)  David was not silent in his praise and worship to God.  He gave us many Psalms and here at the end of his life he continues to give God the glory!  Chapter 23 gives us the last words of David and among them he gives us the names of his "mighty men".  This goes right along with what I have been talking about, "Making A Difference".  There was something special about each of these men and they all made a difference, but the one I want to look at today is Shammah.  "And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines.  But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory."  (II Samuel 23:11-12)  The Philistines came against Israel and all the people fled, but Shammah stayed to defend his ground, a field of lentils.  I suppose all the other men did not think a field of beans was worth defending, but Shammah stood up against the enemy "and the LORD wrought a great victory."  If we want to make a difference, we must stand up and defend what's right, even if the world doesn't think what we have is worth fighting for.  King David thought highly of Shammah, and named him near the top of his list of mighty men.  The Lord also blessed Shammah and gave him a great victory.  Enemies are attacking Christian values all around us, and we must stand our ground and defend what we have, and depend on the Lord to give the victory.  We can also do as David in giving our praise to God, and also letting our family and friends know when they make a difference in our lives.


11.  Moses - Making The Right Choice

Today we see a man of vital importance that God used to make a difference in the lives of the Israelites.  They were in bondage, working as slaves in Egypt to build cities for Pharaoh.  The Old Testament, from Exodus to Deuteronomy, is filled with scriptures following the life of Moses.  Jochebed, Moses' mother, hid him in a little ark in the river and placed his sister, Miriam, there to watch over him.  The princess found him and Miriam said she would get someone to take care of him for her, and went to get her mother.  When he was old enough the princess took him to live and study in the palace.  Because his mother had taught him of God, Moses knew to make the right choice.  Look at these verses in Hebrews 11:23-27. 

"23  By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.
24  By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
25  Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26  Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
27  By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible."

Moses fled from Egypt after killing an Egyptian and God called to him from the burning bush, while he watched the sheep on the backside of the desert.  With the rod of a shepherd, God used Moses and Aaron his brother, to bring the great plagues on Egypt and convince Pharaoh to let His people go.  And as a shepherd leads the sheep, Moses led the children through the wilderness.  Moses chose to follow God, "as seeing him who is invisible" and came to know Him "face to face".  "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,  In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land,  And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel."  (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)   When we make the choice to follow God, "than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" then it will make a difference in our lives and the lives of those around us.


12.  Aaron And Hur - Hold Up The Arms Of God's Man

We saw what a difference Moses made in the lives of the Israelites as he led them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.  Today we see that there were people in Moses' life who made a difference.

"8  Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
9  And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10  So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11  And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12  But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13  And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
14  And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven."  (Exodus 17:8-14)

Aaron and Hur held up the hands of this great man of God, while Joshua fought the battle.  As Christians in a dark world, we have battles to fight, but there are still some great preachers throughout our land holding up the rod of God to lead us to victory.   I am sure their hearts and hands grow weary, just as Moses' did.  We can make a difference by offering a helping hand.  Be faithful to your church.  Be an encouragement to your Pastor.  And lift them up daily in prayer to God.


13.  Esther - "For Such A Time As This"

Let's see if I can give a short synopsis of the book of Esther...  King Ahasuerus ruled over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia.  After 180 days of feasting with the nobles and princes he proclaimed a feast for his servants in Shushan the palace.  On the seventh day while he was "merry with wine" he called for Queen Vashti to show her beauty to all the men at his feast.  She refused and was banished from being queen, so it was decided that a royal contest would be held to choose a new queen.  Esther was a young Jewish girl who had been carried away into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar.  Having neither father nor mother, she was brought up by her cousin Mordecai.  She was chosen as the most beautiful of all the maidens and became the new queen.  In the meantime, Haman was given an exalted position over the princes and became raging mad against all the Jews when Mordecai refused to bow to him.  He had the king make a decree that all the Jews could be killed on a certain day and their possessions added to the king's treasury.  Mordecai told Queen Esther to go before King Ahasuerus and plead for the Jews.  She sent word back to Mordecai that no one could go before the king without being called and she would lose her life unless he held the golden sceptre out to her.   "Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.  For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"  (Esther 4:13-14)  These are my favorite verses from the book of Esther.  You have probably heard of people being "in the right place at just the right time."  Well, that was Esther.  God put her in Shushan the palace to make a difference in the lives of His people.  If you don't know the story of Esther, please read the little book and see how the story ends.  And the next time you feel like you have fallen into unusual circumstances, consider that the Lord may have put you there "for such a time as this" to make a difference in someone's life.


14.  Dorcas - Used Her Talents For The Lord

We have only a few verses about Dorcas, but we can tell that she made a difference in the lives of others during the time of the early church.  We see a description of her in Acts 9:36.  "Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did."  She was charitable towards the poor.  Let's continue...  "And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.  And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them."  (Acts 9:37-38)  In their great love for her they sent for Peter.  "Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.  But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.  And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.  And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord."  (Acts 9:39-42)  She had used her talents to make a difference in the lives of others as she sewed to make coats and clothes for them.  And God used Peter to bring her back to life and be a witness for the Lord.  We may not have much money to give to others, but we can use our time and talents to make a difference in their lives.


15.  A Child - Gave What Little He Had To Jesus

The story of Jesus feeding 5,000 men, plus women and children, with only two little fish and five loaves of bread is found in all four of the gospels, but John is the only writer who tells us where the disciples got the loaves and fish. 

"5  When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
6  And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
7  Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
8  One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,
9  There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
10  And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11  And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
12  When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
13  Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.
14  Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world."  (John 6:5-14)

We see in verse 9 that a small boy took his dinner with him when he went to hear Jesus.  He only took what he needed.  It was certainly not enough for the multitude, or so the disciples thought.  But, this little boy was willing to give Jesus all that he had.  We may think our possessions and talents are small.  Certainly not enough to make a difference in the lives of others.  But, when we give our all to Jesus, He can multiply what we give to Him, and return it to us with enough left over to make a difference.  Another thing I notice is found in verse 6, "...he himself knew what he would do."  Jesus knew what the little boy had.  He knew that He could use it to feed the multitude.  When I think about this, I think about my own life.  Jesus knows what I have and He knows how He can use it.  He is patiently waiting for me to yield my all to Him.


16.  Philip And Andrew - Took Them To Jesus

Yesterday we looked at the small boy in the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.  Let's look at John 6:8-9 again, "One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,  There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?"  Andrew found the little boy and took him to Jesus.  Now, let's turn back in the book of John to the beginning of Jesus' ministry.  "One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.  He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.  And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone."  (John 1:40-42)  Since it is worded, "He first findeth..." it seems to indicate that there were others that Andrew found and took to Jesus.  Philip also found someone to follow Jesus.  "The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.  Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.  Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.  And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see."  (John 1:43-46)  One more example is found in John 12:20-22.  "And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:  The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus."  When we think of the greatest disciples we may not immediately think of Andrew and Philip.  But they made a difference in the lives of others by taking them to Jesus.  We can make a difference in the lives of others if we can get them to Jesus.


17.  When We Make A Difference It Has A Ripple Effect

When Naomi began her trip back home from Moab, she said "Good-bye" to her two daughters-in-law.  Orpah kissed her mother-in-law and went back home, but listen to Ruth.  "And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:  Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me."  (Ruth 1:16-17)   We see that Naomi had made a difference in the life of Ruth for her to have such a great love and dedication to her and her God.  In turn, Ruth went with Naomi and gleaned in the fields to help provide for them.  Thus, Ruth made a difference in the life of Naomi, but it doesn't stop there.  Ruth becomes part of the lineage of Jesus Christ.  "And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.  And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David."  (Ruth 4:16-17)  When we strive to make a difference in the lives of others it has a rippling effect.  There is a story of Sunday School teacher named Edward Kimball, who visited one of his students and led him to Christ in the shoe store.  He was Dwight L. Moody and he became one of the greatest preachers of all time.  One of his sermon's made a difference in the life of Pastor Frederic Meyer, who had an effect on Wilbur Chapman who also went on to become a great evangelist.  Billy Sunday helped set up Chapman's crusades and became a great preacher.  In 1932 his group invited Mordecai Ham to hold a series of evangelistis meeting in Charlotte, NC.  Billy Graham was a young teen among the crowd and gave his life to Christ.  Billy Graham has given the gospel message to more people than any other person in history.  It began with a concerned Sunday School teacher, and years later thousands had been saved due to the difference each one made on someone else.  Do what you can to make a difference and let Christ do the rest!


18.  Paul - He Went West!

I was part of a very active youth group in the late 1970's.  We had several young preachers in our group that preached not only in church services, but also on the streets, under a tent, and at home prayer meetings.  Even though that was many years ago, I remember one time during one of the sermons Preacher Tim White got all excited and started almost yelling, "He went west!  He went west!"  He was preaching from Acts 16:6-10.

"6  Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,
7  After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
8  And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
9  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
10  And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them."

If you look at a map of Paul's missionary journeys you can see that Macedonia was indeed to the west, and when he later preached at Rome, it was even farther west.  Did you know that Christopher Columbus was born in Italy?  The gospel spread to Italy and the surrounding countries and the door of salvation was opened to our ancestors.  We can surely thank God above for the difference Paul made, not only for the people of his generation, but still today as we read his letters and the wonderful plan of salvation in the book of Romans.


19.  Joseph - Sometimes Bad Things Happen

Jacob loved his son, Joseph, and gave him a coat of many colors.  Joseph's older brothers were so jealous they sold him into slavery, and told their father that he was dead.  Joseph spent years in prison when his master's wife lied about him.  Everything seemed to go wrong in the life of Joseph.  If all those things happened in our lives we would think God had forgotten all about us, but look at these verses.  "And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian."  (Genesis 39:2)  "But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison."  (Genesis 39:21)  Joseph became a ruler over Egypt and saved many lives during the seven years of famine.  He even brought his father and family to live in Egypt.  After Jacob died, Joseph's brothers thought he would hate them for all they had done to him.  "And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.  And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?  But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.  Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them."  (Genesis 50:18-21)

As I look at the pictures and videos of the devastating flooding in South Carolina my heart aches for those who have lost everything they have.  I pray that God will help them and that they will turn to God in this time of trouble.  We can't always see the "good" during bad times, but God is always faithful to His children.


20.  John The Baptist - The Greatest Prophet

If we took a poll to see who would be considered as the greatest prophet in our Christian faith we would have many great leaders found in the Bible.  We could go all the way back to Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and many more.  And God used all of them to make a difference in the lives of His people.  But, to find the greatest prophet, let's look at the Words of Jesus, "For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."  (Luke 7:28)  John the Baptist was the one foretold by Isaiah.  "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God."  (Isaiah 40:3)   Matthew and Mark tell of John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness to all to repent.  Luke tells of his birth to the high priest, Zacharias, and Elizabeth.  And John tells of his origin, "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light."  (John 1:6-8)  John the Baptist made a difference as he prepared the way for the coming of the Lord.  The Lord has promised to come back to take His children home, and we can make a difference by telling others and helping to prepare the way for His return.  We can follow the example of this great prophet when we lift up the name of Jesus, as he told his disciples, "He must increase, but I must decrease."  (John 3:30)


21.  Dads And Grandpas

Today our focus is Dads and Grandpas.  My Dad was a sincere Christian man who made a big difference in my life.  After he died, many people told me that they loved to hear him pray, and I miss that about him because I knew his prayer life was real.  My Grandpa Beasley was a preacher and when I was about eight years old he was preaching on the rich man and Lazarus, and under Holy Ghost conviction, I was saved.  In 1980 Mike and I had a son, and he became a Dad for the first time.  He has made a difference not only in the lives of our five children, but I believe that he has had a good Christian influence in hundreds of young lives as he is in his 39th year of teaching school.  You don't have to be the actual father of a child to make a difference in his or her life.  We recently talked about Esther.  Well, Mordecai brought her up after the death of her parents and he was a good Dad to her.  "Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it.  And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her...  And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king's gate.  Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him."  (Esther 2:10-11 and 19-20)  Mordecai looked after Esther, even after she grew up and became queen.  Our next example is Paul, the apostle.  He had a love for several young converts and called each of them his son.  "To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord."  (II Timothy 1:2)  "To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour."  (Titus 1:4)  "I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:"  (Philemon 1:10)  My last example is Joseph, who raised Jesus as a son.  When Jesus went to His home town the people said, "Is not this the carpenter's son?..."  (Matthew 13;55)  Look at your own life.  Are you sitting on the bench?  Maybe you are lingering in the batter's box.  It is time to step up to the plate and give it all you're got.  Be a Christian example to the young people in your life.  Little eyes are watching and God may be calling you to make a difference in a young life.


22.  Grandmothers And Mothers

We have looked at many examples in the past three weeks of those who made a difference in the lives of others.  There were faithful men who fought battles and had the strength and courage of the Lord to stand their ground and accomplish great feats.  There were women who realized that God had put them where they were and they did what they could to make a difference.  We also saw examples of little children whom God used for His glory.  We close today with a group that has made a difference in the lives of a majority of individuals:  grandmothers and mothers.  In addition to the care and nourishment, given in the deepest love, a mother and grandmother can pray over the children and teach them about the love of God.  In Paul's second letter to young Timothy, he writes, "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also."  (II Timothy 1:5)  Paul is commending Timothy for his faith, and he points back to the faith of his grandmother and mother.  He tells us in Romans 10:17, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."  There are many who heard the Word of God from their parents and grandparents long before they were old enough to listen to preaching.  A Christian mother can most definitely make a difference in the lives of her children.  And as our mothers grow older, we need to do what we can to take care of them.  Jesus gave us this example as He died on the cross.  "When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home."  (Jon 19:26-27)  I have always had a great love for my mother and grandmothers, and I am so thankful that the Lord allowed me to be a mother and grandmother.  God gave me a special love for my children and when they got married, the love extended to their spouses.  And it is amazing how great a love can be for grandchildren!  I pray that I can always be a faithful Christian example to them and make a difference in their lives.