VIDEO The Practice of Purpose

But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

A young, single businessman is committed to hitting the gym for an hour every morning before work. Then he gets married and has children. He now has a higher purpose: being with his family in the mornings. So he adjusts his workout routines in light of his new, higher purpose and priority. There can be only one main purpose in life.

When the apostle Paul became a Christian, he reorganized his priorities. In Philippians 3 he revealed what his single purpose was: “But one thing I do . . . I press toward the goal…of God’s call in Christ Jesus (emphasis added). He no doubt had many goals—be faithful, be disciplined, be generous, be loving—but they all served his one consuming purpose: to press toward God in Christ.

Paul’s purpose ordered his life. It was the standard by which everything else was measured. Paul’s purpose should be the purpose of every Christian.

Life can only be enjoyed as one acquires a true perspective of life and death and of the real purpose of life.  Spiros Zodhiates

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

God of the Invisible

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people. Hebrews 6:10

“Sometimes I feel as if I’m invisible. But I so want God to use me.”

Ann was tidying up the exercise room at the hotel I was visiting when we struck up a conversation. As we talked, I discovered she had an amazing story.

“I used to be a crack addict and prostitute living on the streets,” she said. “But I knew God wanted me to put down my pipe and walk with Him. One day years ago I knelt at Jesus’ feet, and He set me free.”

I thanked Ann for sharing what God had done for her and assured her she wasn’t invisible—He had used her in our conversation in a beautiful way to remind me of His power to transform lives.

God loves to use people others might overlook. The apostle Andrew isn’t as well known as his brother Peter, but the Bible recounts that “the first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon [Peter] and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’. . . . And he brought him to Jesus” (John 1:41–42).

Peter met Jesus through Andrew. When Andrew, one of John the Baptist’s disciples, learned about Jesus from John, he followed Jesus and believed—and immediately told his brother. Andrew’s quiet faithfulness had an impact that would shake the world.

God values faithful service over fame. He can use us powerfully wherever we are—even when no one is looking.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

Whose quiet faithfulness made a difference in your life? How can you serve God by serving someone else today? 

Thank You for never overlooking me, Father! I’m thankful You can use me to make a difference wherever I am.

A Call to Repentance

Luke 24:44-48

Repentance is a concept that isn’t talked about enough in some churches today. Yet it was a key point in what Jesus preached and something He specifically instructed the church to proclaim everywhere (Matt. 4:17; Luke 24:47). 

Repentance is prompted by the Holy Spirit: He brings conviction concerning sin so that we’re encouraged to depend on Jesus’ righteousness. When we commit to repent—that is, to turn from sin and toward God—the Spirit supplies the power for us to do so. He transforms the inner person and gives new desires for holiness and obedience.

While salvation involves an understanding of sin and a choice to repent, some people mistakenly think they themselves must clean up their life before coming to Christ. But that is actually impossible. No one can make himself righteous apart from the work of the Holy Spirit—only God can give a clean heart, holy desires, and a transformed mind.

For unbelievers, that false assumption can seem an insurmountable obstacle to salvation. That’s why God’s children must know the truth about repentance and share it, clearing the way for lost souls to trust Christ as Savior.

Guide and Keeper

“For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.” (Psalm 31:3)

David wrote often about the trials of life, but he leaned on a wise and good Guide for deliverance. The next verses tell of the grave danger ahead and David’s resolve: “Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength. Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth” (vv. 4-5). “Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners” addresses that in its fourth stanza.

Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night o’ertakes me,
He, my Pilot, hears my cry.

There was a time in the gospels when the disciples were overwhelmed by a tempest, but Jesus Christ, their Guide and Keeper, calmed the sea and rescued them. “There arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves….Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm” (Matthew 8:24-26). This was one of their first indications He was more than a mere man. “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” (v. 27).

Sailors know the value of a wise and experienced pilot who can guide their ship into safe harbor. In an analogous way, Christ and His Spirit can keep us from ruin—human, natural, or spiritual. Christ promised, “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). We are safe in His care.

The Old Testament contains the precious truth “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3). We have the assurance that “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). JDM

People Follow Leaders

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. —1 Corinthians 11:1

The history of Israel and Judah points up a truth taught clearly enough by all history, viz., that the masses are or soon will be what their leaders are. The kings set the moral pace for the people….

Whatever sort of man the king turned out to be, the people were soon following his leadership. They followed David in the worship of Jehovah, Solomon in the building of the Temple, Jeroboam in the making of a calf and Hezekiah in the restoration of the temple worship.

It is not complimentary to the masses that they are so easily led, but we are not interested in praising or blaming; we are concerned for truth, and the truth is that for better or for worse religious people follow leaders. A good man may change the moral complexion of a whole nation; or a corrupt and worldly clergy may lead a nation into bondage….

Today Christianity in the Western world is what its leaders were in the recent past and is becoming what its present leaders are. The local church soon becomes like its pastor.   GTM059-060

Strengthen us in the power of Your Holy Spirit, that we might be leaders worth following. Amen.

The Two Shall Become One

A new heart also I will give you, and a new spirit will I put within you…and I will give you an heart of flesh. —Ezekiel 36:26

How can one personality enter another? The candid reply would be simply that we do not know, but a near approach to an understanding may be made by a simple analogy borrowed from the old devotional writers of several hundred years ago.

We place a piece of iron in a fire and blow up the coals. At first we have two distinct substances, iron and fire. When we insert the iron in the fire we achieve the penetration of the iron and we have not only the iron in the fire but the fire in the iron as well….Two distinct substances…have co-mingled and interpenetrated to a point where the two have become one.

In some such manner does the Holy Spirit penetrate our spirits. In the whole experience we remain our very selves. There is no destruction of substance. Each remains a separate being as before; the difference is that now the Spirit penetrates and fills our personalities and we are experientially one with God. POM066

The Christian…is in correspondence with God. He walks “in newness of life.”…Indeed, the deeper walk of the Holy Spirit in sanctification quickens every spiritual sense. CDL167

A Holistic Gospel

Micah 6:8

In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action,” wrote Dag Hammarskjøld in his book Markings. Indeed, we have a whole gospel that is Christ-centered, holiness-summoned and justice-oriented.

The Christian’s cross consists of two beams: the vertical beam of our relationship to God in His infinite love and forgiveness, and the horizontal beam of our relationship to others in the world. The two cannot be separated. They always intersect on the Christian’s cross.

Holiness without social concern is a soul without a body; social concern without holiness is a body without a soul. One is a ghost, the other a corpse. Only when they are wedded together do we have a living organism.

Suffering and tragedy stalk our world every day. News media bring to our living rooms poignant scenes of the carnage of the innocent, the anguish of refugees, the sad spectacle of the millions who are hungry, homeless and hurting. The brokenness of our world constantly impinges upon us.

The evils of pornography and sexploitation relentlessly invade the mainstream of our culture. The traditional family may soon be added to the endangered species list from the infection of increased divorce rates, acceptance of same-sex marriages and the rise of dysfunctional families. Violence and murder now stalk our schools and churches as well as our streets. Terrorism fuels the fears of people worldwide. The silent holocaust of abortion claims 1.5 million lives each year in the United States and over 50 million worldwide. Our world is neck-deep in trouble.

Our nation was founded upon righteousness and reverence for God. The founders of this nation legislated for each session of Congress to open with prayer and inscribed upon our coins “In God We Trust.” But we have strayed from those principles. We have outlawed prayer in our schools, made legal the killing of innocent unborn children and spawned a generation victimized by drugs, AIDS and the specter of nuclear holocaust.

The Christian faith is not an escape from the realities and problems of the world. The cross was the most eloquent demonstration of caring the world has ever known. Christ calls His followers to the costly implications of the cross, to the biblical authority of a vulnerable discipleship. Where the world is at its worst, there the Christian church ought to be at its best.

Henry Gariepy, Reflecting God NIV Study Bible