VIDEO The Compelling Force of the Call

Beware of refusing to hear the call of God. Everyone who is saved is called to testify to the fact of his salvation. That, however, is not the same as the call to preach, but is merely an illustration which can be used in preaching. In this verse, Paul was referring to the stinging pains produced in him by the compelling force of the call to preach the gospel. Never try to apply what Paul said regarding the call to preach to those souls who are being called to God for salvation. There is nothing easier than getting saved, because it is solely God’s sovereign work— “Look to Me, and be saved…” (Isaiah 45:22). Our Lord never requires the same conditions for discipleship that he requires for salvation. We are condemned to salvation through the Cross of Christ. But discipleship has an option with it— “If anyone…” (Luke 14:26).

Paul’s words have to do with our being made servants of Jesus Christ, and our permission is never asked as to what we will do or where we will go. God makes us as broken bread and poured-out wine to please Himself. To be “separated to the gospel” means being able to hear the call of God (Romans 1:1). Once someone begins to hear that call, a suffering worthy of the name of Christ is produced. Suddenly, every ambition, every desire of life, and every outlook is completely blotted out and extinguished. Only one thing remains— “…separated to the gospel…” Woe be to the soul who tries to head in any other direction once that call has come to him. The Bible Training College exists so that each of you may know whether or not God has a man or woman here who truly cares about proclaiming His gospel and to see if God grips you for this purpose. Beware of competing calls once the call of God grips you.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with Him.… We have to pitch our tents where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be. My Utmost for His Highest, January 6, 736 R


Woe unto me if I don’t preach the gospel

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Stepping Into Opportunity

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Colossians 4:5

Like lots of people, I struggle to get enough exercise. So I recently got something to motivate myself to move: a pedometer that counts steps. It’s a simple thing. But it’s amazing how much difference this gadget makes in my motivation. Instead of grumbling when I have to get off the couch, I see it as an opportunity to get a few more steps. Mundane tasks, like getting one of my kids a cup of water, become opportunities that help me work toward a larger goal. In that sense, my pedometer has changed my perspective and my motivation. Now I look to get extra steps in whenever possible.

I wonder if our Christian life isn’t a bit like that. There are opportunities to love and serve and interact with people every day, as Paul exhorts in Colossians 4:5. But am I always aware of those moments? Am I paying attention to opportunities to be an encourager in seemingly mundane interactions? God is at work in the lives of every person I relate to, from my family and coworkers to a clerk at the grocery store. Each interaction offers a chance for me to pay attention to what God might be doing—even if it’s something as seemingly “small” as kindly asking a server at a restaurant how she’s doing.

Lord, please help us to become people who notice the needs of others.

Who knows how God might work in those moments when we’re alert to the opportunities He sends our way.

Lord, there are so many opportunities to love, listen, and serve those around us each day. Please help us to become people who notice the needs of others.

Take every opportunity to serve someone.

By Adam Holz 

INSIGHT

Paul’s normal pattern for writing letters to churches is well evidenced in this epistle to the Colossians. That pattern calls for the first half of the book to be primarily theological in nature, with the remainder providing practical application of that doctrinal teaching. The first two chapters of Colossians describe the relationship between Christ, the head of the church; and the church, the body of Christ. Chapters 3–4 then give the practical outworking of those realities. In today’s Scripture reading, we find clear counsel on how to live and function as the church body. This includes the need for intercessory prayer (vv. 2–3) and the importance of personal testimony, which includes graciously using the opportunities God gives us (vv. 5–6). This is wise counsel that is still needed today.

Bill Crowder

Our Motivation for Serving

Colossians 3:22-25

Oftentimes we think serving the Lord is limited to something done in the church—such as working in the nursery, teaching Sunday school, or singing in the choir. But God’s view of service encompasses everything we do, wherever we are. No matter who is the object of our service, we are ultimately serving the Lord.

Today’s passage is addressed to slaves, but the principle it describes can also be applied to employees—as well as to every person and situation in our life. Knowing that we serve Christ will …

Affect the quality of our work. Although we may be tempted to give an employer half-hearted service and mediocre effort, none of us would do that to Christ. If we’ll keep Him foremost in our thoughts, we will become His faithful ambassadors by doing our best for those we serve.

Guard our attitude. Regardless of the way others treat us or the demands they make of us, working “heartily, as for the Lord” (Col. 3:23) melts away bitterness and purifies our motives. Then our goal will be to please Christ in all we do.

Prevent discouragement. If we’re seeking approval for our efforts, we’re going to be consistently disappointed when it doesn’t come. But since the Lord never overlooks our service, we can persevere, knowing He’s the one who will someday reward us.

When it comes to work, commitment to Christ must be our motivation rather than feelings. If we ask God to empower our efforts and watch over our attitude, grumbling will turn to joy, and our service will be pleasing to Him.

Our Holy Conversation

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” (2 Peter 3:11)

The picturesque phrase “holy conversation” occurs only twice in the New Testament, both in Peter’s epistles; one in his very first chapter, 1 Peter 1:15, the other in today’s verse. The other is, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” This distinctive King James rendering does not really mean “clean speech” but assumes the older, more precise meaning of “conversation,” namely “behavior,” especially behavior that involves other people. The Greek word translated “holy” primarily implies “dedicated to God.” Thus, holy conversation simply means living in such a way that our entire manner of life is oriented to honor God and to influence other people to honor Him.

These two exhortations of Peter tell us why we should live this way. The first incentive is simply the holiness of God Himself: “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). We have become children of God through faith in Christ, and we should therefore behave “as obedient children, not fashioning [ourselves] according to the former lusts in [our] ignorance” (1 Peter 1:14).

The second incentive given just before the words of today’s verse is the ever-imminent return of Christ, following which, eventually, “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:10). Incentives, both past and future, are thus given for holy living in the present!

Eight of the 13 occurrences of “conversation” (Greek anastrophe) are in Peter’s epistles, stressing his vital concern that Christians ought to demonstrate “all holy conversation and godliness” in their lives. HMM

The Lord God is my strength

Habakkuk 3:2-19

In all probability the prophet Habakkuk flourished about the time of the short reign of Jehoahaz. We will read his prayer.

Habakkuk 3:2

This prayer well suits the case of the Church of God at this time; may the Lord graciously hear it. The prophet describes the Lord’s appearance to his people at Sinai, and the way in which he conducted them to the promised land through the Jordan, subduing all their foes before them. Thus he strengthened his confidence that the Lord would again appear to deliver his people.

Habakkuk 3:3, 4

Or beams like those of the sun:

Habakkuk 3:3, 4

Even this glory was not a full display of his power: the horns or emblems of his power, and the beamings of his glory were seen, but not the power and glory themselves, for these are insufferably bright. It has been well said that even the clearest revelation of God is also an obvelation or concealment. If the face of Moses needed a veil before men could look on it, much more does the glory of the Lord.

Habakkuk 3:5

To destroy the Canaanites and make room for Israel.

Habakkuk 3:6, 7

Nations hitherto unconquerable trembled at his might; none could stand before him.

Habakkuk 3:8, 9

God’s bow was taken from its case, and used for war, even as he had sworn to his chosen.

Habakkuk 3:12, 13

Deadly were his blows of vengeance; he smote nations as when the axe severs the neck and smites off the head.

Habakkuk 3:16

All holy men have thus trembled at the sight of God, yet faith has given them rest. How sweet are the closing verses!

Habakkuk 3:18, 19

Though war and famine should cause a failure of all comforts, yet would the prophet find joy enough in his God; yea, he would leap with exultation like a hind upon the rocks. Should the worst come to the worst, he would still attune his heart to magnify the Lord. May this devoutly trustful spirit rule in all our hearts!

 

Are You Sharing God’s Nature?

Precious promises, that by these ye might he partakers of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)

Our heavenly Father disciplines us for our own good, “that we may share in His holiness.” God’s motives are always loving!

I have known people who seemed to be terrified by God’s loving desire that we should reflect His own holiness and goodness. As God’s faithful children, we should be attracted to holiness, for holiness is God-likeness—likeness to God!

God encourages every Christian believer to follow after holiness. We know who we are and we know who God is. He does not ask us to be God and He does not ask us to produce the holiness that only He Himself knows. Only God is holy absolutely: all other beings can be holy only in relative degrees.

Actually, it is amazing and wonderful that God should promise us the privilege of sharing in His nature. He remembers we were made of dust. So He tells us what is in His being as He thinks of us: “It is My desire that you grow in grace and in the knowledge of Me. I want you to be more like Jesus, My eternal Son, every day you live!”

 

Grow Up

“And ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” Mal. 4:2

Yes, when the sun shines, the sick quit their chambers, and walk abroad to breathe the fresh air. When the sun brings spring and summer, the cattle quit their stalls, and seek pasture on the higher Alps. Even thus, when we have conscious fellowship with our Lord, we leave the stall of despondency, and walk abroad in the fields of holy confidence. We ascend to the mountains of joy, and feed on sweet pasturage which grows nearer Heaven than the provender of carnal men.

To “go forth” and to “grow up” is a double promise. O my soul, be thou eager to enjoy both blessings! Why shouldst thou be a prisoner? Arise, and walk at liberty. Jesus saith that His sheep shall go in and out and find pasture; go forth, then, and feed in the rich meadows of boundless love.

Why remain a babe in grace? Grow up. Young calves grow fast, especially if they are stall-fed; and thou hast the choice care of thy Redeemer. Grow, then, in grace, and in the knowledge of thy Lord and Saviour. Be neither straitened nor stunted. The Sun of Righteousness has risen upon thee. Answer to His beams, as the buds to the natural sun. Open thine heart, expand and grow up into Him in all things.

 

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