VIDEO Do You See Your Calling?

Do You See Your Calling?

…separated to the gospel of God… —Romans 1:1

Our calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be proclaimers of the gospel of God. The one all-important thing is that the gospel of God should be recognized as the abiding reality. Reality is not human goodness, or holiness, or heaven, or hell— it is redemption. The need to perceive this is the most vital need of the Christian worker today. As workers, we have to get used to the revelation that redemption is the only reality. Personal holiness is an effect of redemption, not the cause of it. If we place our faith in human goodness we will go under when testing comes.

Paul did not say that he separated himself, but “when it pleased God, who separated me…” (Galatians 1:15). Paul was not overly interested in his own character. And as long as our eyes are focused on our own personal holiness, we will never even get close to the full reality of redemption. Christian workers fail because they place their desire for their own holiness above their desire to know God. “Don’t ask me to be confronted with the strong reality of redemption on behalf of the filth of human life surrounding me today; what I want is anything God can do for me to make me more desirable in my own eyes.” To talk that way is a sign that the reality of the gospel of God has not begun to touch me. There is no reckless abandon to God in that. God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character. Paul was not conscious of himself. He was recklessly abandoned, totally surrendered, and separated by God for one purpose— to proclaim the gospel of God (see Romans 9:3).


To read the Bible according to God’s providential order in your circumstances is the only way to read it, viz., in the blood and passion of personal life. Disciples Indeed, 387 R

The Heart and Soul of the Gospel – Romans 1:1-7 – Skip Heitzig

A Future with Forgiveness

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

In 1994, when South Africa made the transition from government by apartheid (imposed racial segregation) to a democracy, it faced the difficult question of how to address the crimes committed under apartheid. The country’s leaders couldn’t ignore the past, but merely imposing harsh punishments on the guilty risked deepening the country’s wounds. As Desmond Tutu, the first black Anglican Archbishop of South Africa, explained in his book No Future Without Forgiveness, “We could very well have had justice, retributive justice, and had a South Africa lying in ashes.”

Through establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, the new democracy chose the difficult path of pursuing truth, justice, and mercy. Those guilty of crimes were offered a path to restoration—if they were willing to confess their crimes and seek to make restitution. Only by courageously facing the truth could the country begin to find healing.

In a way, South Africa’s dilemma mirrors the struggle we all face. We’re called to pursue both justice and mercy (Micah 6:8), but mercy is often misunderstood to be a lack of accountability, while pursuing justice can become distorted into pursuing revenge.

Our only path forward is a love that not only “hates what is evil” (Romans 12:9) but also longs for the transformation and good of our “neighbor” (13:10). Through the power of Christ’s Spirit, we can learn what it means to have a future of overcoming evil with good (12:21).

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

When have you witnessed times when the goal of mercy and grace seemed distorted to enable injustice? When have you seen both justice and mercy working in harmony?

Loving God, when the pain and injustice around me breaks my heart, help me to still believe in Your love and power to transform and heal. Help me to point with my life to Your justice, mercy, and love.

Sunday Reflection: The Freedom to Fly

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

The flying trapezeis one of the most thrilling acts at the circus. With faces turned skyward, we watch with a sense of awe as fliers somersault, twist, and glide across the arena into the arms of a catcher, then return to their perch in triumph.

What we don’t see are the hours of grueling practice. Trapeze artists need to build trust with one another, if they ever want to move together with grace and beauty. It is only through mutual submission that they are free to attain something greater than they ever could alone.

Believers can experience a similar joy. Paul emphasized the importance of differences and gifts, describing us this way in 1 Corinthians 12:19-20: “If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body.” Yes, we are each uniquely designed. Yet in Christ, we discover our fullest, truest selves by working together as one, surrendering ourselves to each other in love.

Think about it
• Describe the joy that comes with being part of Christ’s body. If you haven’t experienced it, how might you pursue it?

• To what specific task in the body are you called? How can you exercise your gift more fully at church, home, or work?

Outward Appearances

“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)

Man does, indeed, look on the outward appearance rather than inward convictions. This has always been true, but never more so than in these latter days, even among evangelical Christians.

There is very little emphasis in the Bible on such things, however. As far as dress and adornment are concerned, Paul said: “I will therefore that….women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works” (1 Timothy 2:8-10). The same principle surely would apply also to men.

With respect to physical conditioning and development, the following is almost the only reference in the Bible: “Bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things” (1 Timothy 4:8). The apostle Paul himself (probably the most effective and fruitful Christian of all) was a man of most unimpressive appearance (2 Corinthians 10:10). “I was with you in weakness,” he reminded them, but nevertheless it was “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:3-4).

There is nothing wrong, of course, with physical beauty or athletic prowess, unless they center attention on self rather than Christ, but it is the “inner man” of the heart where true strength and beauty should be sought. Therefore, as Jesus said: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). The Lord looks on the heart, and so should we. HMM

Your Personal Holiness

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. —1 Peter 1:15-16

You cannot study the Bible diligently and earnestly without being struck by an obvious fact—the whole matter of personal holiness is highly important to God!

Neither do you have to give long study to the attitudes of modern Christian believers to discern that by and large we consider the expression of true Christian holiness to be just a matter of personal option: “I have looked it over and considered it, but I don’t buy it!”…

Personally, I am of the opinion that we who claim to be apostolic Christians do not have the privilege of ignoring such apostolic injunctions. I do not mean that a pastor can forbid or that a church can compel. I only mean that morally we dare not ignore this commandment, “Be holy.”…

But, brethren, we are still under the holy authority of the apostolic command. Men of God have reminded us in the Word that God does ask us and expect us to be holy men and women of God, because we are the children of God, who is holy. The doctrine of holiness may have been badly and often wounded—but the provision of God by His pure and gentle and loving Spirit is still the positive answer for those who hunger and thirst for a life and spirit well-pleasing to God.   ICH061-062, 068

Oh, Lord, strengthen me today, walk with me, keep me cognizant of Your presence, guard me from any thought or action that would be displeasing to You. Amen.

God the Real Fixed Point

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.—Exodus 3:14

A satisfactory spiritual life will begin with a complete change in relation between God and the sinner; not a judicial change merely, but a conscious and experienced change affecting the sinner’s whole nature.

The atonement in Jesus blood makes such a change judicially possible and the working of the Holy Spirit makes it emotionally satisfying….

In determining relationships we must begin somewhere. There must be somewhere a fixed center against which everything else is measured, where the law of relativity does not enter and we can say “IS” and make no allowances. Such a center is God.

When God would make His name known to mankind He could find no better word than “I AM.” When He speaks in the first person He says, “I AM”; when we speak of Him we say, “He is”; when we speak to Him we say, “Thou art.” Everyone and everything else measures from that fixed point. “I am that I am,” says God, “I change not.” POG092

Our greatest need is to make room for God, [the I AM]. HS167

First Steps into Freedom

Deuteronomy 31:8

This was no dream. No, the beauty of this morning all around me was real, and the songs of birds and fragrance of flowers were real. How pleasant to be in this quiet and beautiful spot under the bushes where I spent my first night of freedom. How wonderful to know that I would never more be in a dark, narrow cell. No more starving, no more pain of separation from my beloved ones, no more heartbreaking loneliness.

I realized that it was time for me to get up, leave my hiding place and face my new life. I stood up straight, and took a deep breath of the fresh, fragrant air. My thoughts turned to my family. “O Lord, soon, very soon I shall press them all to my heart, my beloved Erna and the children.”

For 10 long years like a robot I had been taught to obey without question the orders of my oppressors. I was afraid of people, of life and the future. But is it not 360 times written in the Word of God, “Fear not”? I would trust Him. My fear disappeared and in my heart rang the words:

I will not care how dark the night,

I will not care how wild the storm.

Thy love will fill my heart with light,

And shield me close and keep me warm.

With this determination I faced a new free life with a fervent prayer on my lips and in my heart to the Lord, that He would hold my hand and lead me as He did in the past. I felt the presence of the Savior gloriously, and overflowing joy came into my soul. Through fields and meadows I walked for many miles to the nearest railway station. From there I sent a telegram to my wife, asking her to meet me at the train, and with only our children. Now I wondered, how would they look, and how would they accept me? Ten years is a long time during which many things change, especially in the life of a child. It was hard for me to accept that the sweet years of their childhood were irrevocably lost for me.

“Prague!” The voice of the train conductor awoke me. I got up. My feet and legs were trembling. Pushing my way through the crowd I at last saw her—my beloved wife. In her simple dress she stood there quietly. She looked different from the flourishing young woman I was forced to leave ten years before. Her dark golden hair had turned grey. The fresh roses on her cheeks had been erased by pain and sorrow. Struggles and persecutions had left their mark on her sweet features. But in spite of all, out of her whole being another beauty radiated—the beauty of a soul purified by fire.

Josef Korbel, When the Gates Were Opened

VIDEO New Year, New You Looking Forward

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 2 Peter 3:8

The word year in the Bible typically describes a period of time which, for us, seems to pass quickly. We’re often amazed at how fast our birthdays approach, and we shake our heads at how quickly our children grow up. The older we grow, the more we realize the brevity of life.

It’s helpful to remember that our God does not experience time as we do. His eternal nature is never flustered by how slowly or how quickly time is passing. To Him, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day.

For us, His children, that means the brevity of our earthly life is countered by the endless nature of our eternal life. If you’re missing a loved one in heaven, don’t brood over your memories of past happiness. Look forward to future fellowship! If you’re feeling poorly, don’t give up; look up. Nothing will help you be fresher or newer than focusing your attention on the Almighty God who resides in the eternal realms. Let this new year bring a new you.

Life is hard—but God is good, and Heaven is real. Billy Graham

2 Peter 3:8-9

Wearing Our Courage

If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven. 2 Kings 1:10

Andrew lives in a country that’s closed to the gospel. When I asked how he keeps his faith a secret, he said he doesn’t. He wears a button that advertises his church, and whenever he’s arrested he tells the police that “they need Jesus too.” Andrew has courage because he knows who’s on his side.

Elijah refused to be intimidated, even when the king of Israel sent fifty soldiers to arrest him (2 Kings 1:9). The prophet knew God was with him, and he called down fire that consumed the platoon. The king sent more soldiers, and Elijah did it again (v. 12). The king sent more, but the third platoon had heard about the others. The captain begged Elijah to spare his soldiers’ lives. They were more afraid of him than he’d ever been of them, so the angel of the Lord told Elijah it was safe to go with them (vv. 13–15).

Jesus doesn’t want us to call down fire on our enemies. When the disciples asked if they could call down fire on a Samaritan village, Jesus rebuked them (Luke 9:51–55). We’re living in a different time. But Jesus does want us to have Elijah’s boldness—to be ready to tell everyone about the Savior who died for them. It may seem like one person taking on fifty, but it’s actually One on fifty. Jesus provides what we need to courageously love and reach out to others.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

How does Jesus provide what you need to be courageous? What does God want you to know and do?

Holy Spirit, thank You for living in me. Fill me with courage as I tell others about Jesus.

The Danger of Error in the Church

2 Timothy 2:16-21

Ever since the beginning of church history, believers have been in a battle for the truth. That’s why, in today’s reading, Paul admonished Timothy to be faithful—not only in preaching God’s Word but also in refuting false doctrines. Both types of instruction are necessary for the health of a local congregation. False teaching …

• Leads to further ungodliness (2 Timothy 2:16). A false teacher’s words may sound religious, but something counterfeit can never make a person righteous. Apart from the true Word of God (John 17:17), no one can grow in holiness.

• Spreads like gangrene (2 Timothy 2:17). Once deceitful ideas infiltrate a church and are accepted by a few, contagion can ultimately make the entire congregation spiritually sick and prone to ignore the Spirit’s power.

• Overthrows the faith of some (2 Timothy 2:18-19). The church as a whole loses effectiveness when individual members turn away from Christ to embrace error.

If we’re firmly grounded in the Scriptures, we can more easily recognize and flee from seductive ideas that would lead us astray. Accurate knowledge of God’s Word is our best protection.