VIDEO Pressing on Toward Heaven

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Infants are content to lie in a crib and focus on lights and sounds coming from a mobile overhead. They care little for matters that occupy the heart and mind of adults, matters like purpose, priorities, and provisions for a meaningful life. The transition happens so slowly that the changes seem imperceptible. And yet infants become children, who become adolescents, who become adults who are serious about life and the consequences of their choices.

The more we grow as Christians, the more serious our own purposes and priorities in life should become. The apostle Paul chastised the Corinthian church for being full of “babes in Christ” who could consume only milk and not solid food (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). They were chronological adults but spiritual infants, not ready for the heartiest fare in the Christian life: the truth about heaven. There is no priority in life more serious for any adult than determining his or her eternal destiny.

The more mature we become as Christians, the more our focus should narrow toward “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” a call which leads to heaven.

Spiritual maturity is not reached by the passing of the years, but by obedience to the will of God. Oswald Chambers


Put On Your Running Shoes – Philippians 3:12-16 – Skip Heitzig

Shining Light

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

 

I felt nervous about a five-week prayer class I agreed to teach at a local church. Would the students like it? Would they like me? My anxiety was ill-focused, leading me to over-prepare lesson plans, presentation slides, and class handouts. Yet with a week to go, I still hadn’t encouraged many people to attend.

In prayer, however, I was reminded that the class was a service that shined light on God. Because the Holy Spirit would use the class to point people to our heavenly Father, I could set aside my nervousness about public speaking. When Jesus taught His disciples in His Sermon on the Mount, He told them, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:14–15).

Reading those words, I finally sent out a class announcement on social media. Almost immediately, people started registering—expressing gratitude and excitement. Seeing their reactions, I reflected more on Jesus’ teaching: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (v. 16).

With that perspective, I taught the class with joy. I pray that my simple deed becomes a beacon and encourages others to shine their light for God as well.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt nervous or self-conscious about sharing your deeds and gifts for God? How can your deeds and gifts help others, and what are ways you can share them?

Jesus, empower me to let my God-given light shine so others can see and glorify You.

The Call to Servanthood

Galatians 5:13, John 12:26

Three New Testament writers opened their epistles in a similar way: “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus…” (Rom. 1:1), “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ…” (2 Peter 1:1), and “James, a bond-servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ…” (James 1:1). They viewed themselves as humble workers.

God calls each believer to a life of service. This should be an exciting prospect, but too many people get hung up on the belief that they cannot be as good as the apostles. A popular idea in the church is that the Lord’s servants are those doing full-time ministry but that everyone else is simply trying to live well. Nothing could be further from the truth. We all are servants with important kingdom work to do.

Some kingdom jobs look more important than others, but that’s only because we evaluate with human eyes. Every work that advances the gospel or serves a need is valuable. Not every person can be on a far-flung mission field, but we all can share the gospel with a neighbor. Some people can sing in the choir; others can give money to someone. God invites us to do His work in the world, whether the task is great or small—and we do it by serving our fellow man. What’s He calling you to do?

Powerful Hand of God

“Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.” (Isaiah 48:13)

The human hand is an anatomical marvel; nothing remotely comparable exists among the primates or any other animals. It is a marvel of design. But surely the “hand of God”—of which a human’s hand is only a very dim shadow—is infinitely more powerful and skillful.

Note the testimony of Isaiah 45:12: “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.” God did not have to use intermediate processes or pre-existing materials. Everything was “commanded” into existence, and “I, even my hands,” made all of it, including humans. Creation was direct—a direct product of God’s mighty hands.

Not only was it direct, it was also immediate, as our text above makes emphatically plain. His hand laid the earth’s foundation and spanned the heavens. Then, “when I call unto them,” He says, “They stand up together!” Not one by one— first the universe, then the sun, then the earth, and so on. No, “they stand up together.” “He spake, and it was done” (Psalm 33:9). It did not take 16 billion years; it took six days—and the only reason it took that long was so that God’s workweek could serve as a pattern for people (Exodus 20:8-11).

God’s hand is omnipotent, and “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” It is wonderful to know His hand is gentle and loving as well as powerful. His hands will bear eternal scars where they were spiked to the cross, because He loved us and died for us. “My sheep hear my voice,” He says, “and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28). The hand that spanned the heavens can hold on to those who trust Him. HMM

There Is A Cure for Difficulties

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature: because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

—1 Samuel 16:7

 

Indeed it may be truthfully said that everything of lasting value in the Christian life is unseen and eternal. Things seen are of little real significance in the light of God’s presence. He pays small attention to the beauty of a woman or the strength of a man. With Him the heart is all that matters. The rest of the life comes into notice only because it represents the dwelling place of the inner eternal being.

The solution to life’s problems is spiritual because the essence of life is spiritual. It is astonishing how many difficulties clear up without any effort when the inner life gets straightened out….

Church difficulties are spiritual also and admit of a spiritual answer. Whatever may be wrong in the life of any church may be cleared up by recognizing the quality of the trouble and dealing with it at the root. Prayer, humility and a generous application of the Spirit of Christ will cure just about any disease in the body of believers. Yet this is usually the last thing we think about when difficulties arise. We often attempt to cure spiritual ills with carnal medicines, and the results are more than disappointing.   NCA082-083

Help our church to focus on “prayer, humility and a generous application of the Spirit of Christ.” Amen.

 

Setting Up a Quota System

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

—2 Corinthians 4:5

 

I have thanked God many times for the sweet, winsome ways of the Holy Spirit in dealing with the heart of this untaught lad when I was only seventeen. We had a neighbor by the name of Holman….[O]ne day I was walking up the street with this friendly neighbor. Suddenly, he put his hand on my shoulder.

“You know,” he said, “I have been wondering about you. I have been wondering if you are a Christian, if you are converted. I just wanted the chance to talk it over with you.”

“No, Mr. Holman,” I answered, “I am not converted, but I thank you for saying this to me. I am going to give it some serious thought.”…

Some Christians set up a quota system for their witnessing. I would hate to think that I was Mr. Holman’s quota for the day! Witnessing is a matter in which we need the guidance and concern of God through His Holy Spirit. MMG127-128

When seeking to bring the lost to Christ we must pray continually that they may receive the gift of seeing. And we must pit our prayer against that dark spirit who blinds the hearts of men. BAM063

 

The Word Spoke

2 Timothy 3:15

It isn’t by accident that the Salvation Army’s first doctrine centers on the Word of God: “We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the divine rule of Christian faith and practice.”

Without the Scriptures we would be lost. The Scriptures give direction, correction, challenge, command, hope, explanation and foundation for living. Scripture is God’s truth for His world. Its words bring life. Its pages confirm the possibility of forgiveness, salvation, renewal and empowering for living as God intends His people to live. Its messages are never exhausted. There is always more to find, more to take in, more to live by. To explore Scripture is to embark on an adventure that goes on and on, challenging both mind and heart and promising God’s presence throughout the journey.

The psalmist was convinced of its value: “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). In the same psalm we read: “Your Word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” (v. 89). Writing to Timothy in the early days of the Church, the Apostle Paul declared that the holy Scriptures “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

With numerous translations of the Bible available to help our understanding, we may reflect on what William Booth said shortly after the Revised Version had been introduced in 1881: “I want to see a new translation of the Bible into the hearts and conduct of living men and women.” If the word of God is to rule our lives we must study it, heed it—and live by it!

God sent His Son—the Word of God—to speak His words personally. We have some of those life-giving words recorded for our guidance and inspiration in the New Testament.

Life-giving though His words were and are, Jesus knew that words alone were not enough to meet the need of mankind. Ultimately He spoke supremely through His sacrificial death on the cross. The word was love—unconditional, total, self-giving love. The Word spoke with His life.

Robert Street, Called To Be God’s People