Joshua 7-9; Luke 1:21-38
Vivian and Don are in their mid-90s and have been married more than 70 years. Recently Vivian suffered a setback when she broke her hip. This has been additionally difficult because for several years both Don and Vivian have been saddened by the realization that they are no longer strong enough to be active in the life and work of their church.
However, Vivian and Don are still hard at work for the Lord: They are prayer warriors. While they may not always be physically present and visible in the life of their church, they are faithful “behind the scenes” in their service for Him.
The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 reminds us that we must use the “talents” God has given us wisely. All of us have God-given skills and abilities at various levels—and we must not bury, unused, what God has given us.
It is not only in our years of strength that God will use us, but also in our youth and age, as well as in our sickness and weakness. Vivian and Don continue to serve by praying. And like them, we honor our Savior by using our skills—“each according to his own ability” (v.15) to serve Him who is worthy.
me what I can do to serve You—to honor You with
the abilities You have provided. May my life be a
living sacrifice of love and action for Your honor.
Passing on Faith and Truth
The converted slave trader, John Newton, who became a beloved minister of the gospel and encouraged Wilberforce in his fight against the slave trade, whispered as he lay dying, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Saviour.”
That irrepressible Cornish Christian, Billy Bray, came downstairs for the last time on Friday, 22 May 1868. To one of his old friends, who asked a few hours before his death if he had any fear of death, or of being lost, he said, “What! Me fear death! Me lost! Why, my Saviour conquered death. If I were to go down to hell, I would shout ‘Glory, glory to my blessed Jesus’ until I made the bottomless pit ring again, and the miserable old Satan would say, ‘Billy, Billy, this is no place for you: get you back.’ Then up to heaven I should go, shouting ‘Glory! Glory! Praise the Lord!’
A little later he said “Glory!” which was his last word. 
Christian missionary Geoffrey Bull was held captive by communists for three years at the time of the Chinese invasion of Tibet. He experienced constant interrogation and threat of execution. Later he wrote: “I pictured in my mind’s eye that last morning as I was led out to die. Should I preach, should I pray or should I sing? I decided I would sing. I went over in my mind some of the songs of Zion and then chose this great chorus, determined that by His grace these would be my last words before I saw Him face to face.
Some golden daybreak Jesus will come;
Some golden daybreak, battles all won,
He’ll shout the victory, break through the blue
Some golden daybreak for me, for you. 
A Greek named Aristides, in AD 125 wrote to a friend about the new religion called Christianity: “If any righteous man from among the Christians passes from this world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God, and they escort his body with songs and thanksgivings as if he were setting out from one place to another nearby.
“Live in Christ, live in Christ,” said the dying Scottish Reformer, John Knox, “and you need not fear the death of the flesh.”
Those at the bedside of the influential New England preacher Jonathan Edwards, thought he had passed from the realms of consciousness. They began to lament the sad loss to the church, only to be stopped by a memorable final sentence: “Trust in God and you need not fear.”
Richard Williams, medical missionary to Patagonia, wrote as he lay huddled up in the hull of his little boat, dying of scurvy and starvation:
Should anything prevent my ever adding to this, let my beloved ones at home rest assured that I was happy, beyond all expression, the night I wrote these lines, and would not have exchanged situations with any man living. Let them also be assured that my hopes were full and blooming with immortality, that Heaven and Love and Christ, which mean one and the same divine thing, were my soul; that the hope of glory filled my whole heart with joy and gladness; and that to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. 
Allen Gardiner was the last of the survivors of the seven missionaries who perished of starvation on Terra del Fuego when their relief ship failed to arrive. His final diary entry read, “Great and marvellous are the loving kindnesses of my gracious God.”
Among my favourite stories of those who have faced martyrdom for their faith in Christ are some about the Scottish Covenanters who were executed between the restoration of Charles II and the accession of William III. I have include several of their stories as typical of saints down the ages who have given their lives for their faith. They are particularly relevant in this twenty-first century when, according to researcher David Barrett, something like 160,000 people are killed annually because of their Christian beliefs. These examples are taken from the book Fair Sunshine by Jock Purves.29
The day before Donald Cargill was executed in 1681, a friend took a written testimony from him in which he wrote:
This is the most joyful day that ever I saw in my pilgrimage on earth. My joy is now begun which I see shall never be interrupted…this day I am to seal with my blood all the truths that ever I preached…