VIDEO The Spiritually Vigorous Saint, In Hot Pursuit

…that I may know Him… —Philippians 3:10

A saint is not to take the initiative toward self-realization, but toward knowing Jesus Christ. A spiritually vigorous saint never believes that his circumstances simply happen at random, nor does he ever think of his life as being divided into the secular and the sacred. He sees every situation in which he finds himself as the means of obtaining a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ, and he has an attitude of unrestrained abandon and total surrender about him. The Holy Spirit is determined that we will have the realization of Jesus Christ in every area of our lives, and He will bring us back to the same point over and over again until we do. Self-realization only leads to the glorification of good works, whereas a saint of God glorifies Jesus Christ through his good works. Whatever we may be doing— even eating, drinking, or washing disciples’ feet— we have to take the initiative of realizing and recognizing Jesus Christ in it. Every phase of our life has its counterpart in the life of Jesus. Our Lord realized His relationship to the Father even in the most menial task. “Jesus, knowing…that He had come from God and was going to God,…took a towel…and began to wash the disciples’ feet…” (John 13:3-5).

The aim of a spiritually vigorous saint is “that I may know Him…” Do I know Him where I am today? If not, I am failing Him. I am not here for self-realization, but to know Jesus Christ. In Christian work our initiative and motivation are too often simply the result of realizing that there is work to be done and that we must do it. Yet that is never the attitude of a spiritually vigorous saint. His aim is to achieve the realization of Jesus Christ in every set of circumstances.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

We are not to preach the doing of good things; good deeds are not to be preached, they are to be performed.
So Send I You


In Hot Pursuit – Part 1 // Philippians 3:10-11

Hope in Grief

We do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13

As the cabbie drove us to London’s Heathrow Airport, he told us his story. He had come alone to the United Kingdom at age fifteen, seeking to escape war and deprivation. Now, eleven years later, he has a family of his own and is able to provide for them in ways unavailable in his native land. But he laments that he’s still separated from his parents and siblings. He told us that he’s had a hard journey that won’t be complete until he’s reunited with his family.

Being separated from our loved ones in this life is hard, but losing a loved one in death is much harder and creates a sense of loss that won’t be made right until we’re reunited with them. When the new believers at Thessalonica wondered about such losses, Paul wrote, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). He explained that as believers in Jesus, we can live in expectation of a wonderful reunion—together forever in the presence of Christ (v. 17). 

Few experiences mark us as deeply as the separations we endure, but in Jesus we have hope of being reunited. And in the midst of grief and loss we can find the comfort we need in that enduring promise (v. 18).

By:  Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

How has loss marked your life? How does Jesus provide the help and hope you need?

Father, there’s nothing on earth that can fill the places in my heart made empty through loss. Draw me to You and comfort me with Your love and grace.

Sunday Reflection: Follow Your Heart

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

You’ve probably heard that “the heart is more deceitful than all else” (Jer. 17:9), and perhaps you’ve witnessed this truth at work in your own life. But Scripture also says anyone who believes in Jesus is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)—so how do we know whether our desires are good or dishonest?

In Ezekiel 36:26-27, God made a promise to the nation of Israel, saying, “I will give you a new heart … I will put My Spirit within you and bring it about that you walk in My statutes, and are careful and follow My ordinances.” With this new heart, promised by the Father and fulfilled by His Son, come new desires to replace the old, and with the Spirit comes wisdom.

That promise is for believers today—we, too, have the indwelling Holy Spirit, and it’s by His guidance that we navigate which of our desires to honor and which to let go. But this relationship is a two-way street. It’s up to us to listen for the Spirit’s promptings and follow His lead. The more we tune in to His voice, the better we’ll discern the desires of our new heart.

Think about it
• Have you ever wondered if a desire of yours was from God?
• What can you do to develop a closer relationship with the Holy Spirit?

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear.” (Psalm 46:1-2)

Martin Luther’s journal entries inform us of his continual battle against evil forces and that Psalm 46 was a great comfort to him. As he meditated on the words of our text, the thrust of a mighty song was born that openly declared victory in the great battle: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”

A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.


The battle to be fought is “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). Satan, along with his henchmen, is an ancient foe, “a roaring lion,” as it were, “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But there is no need for alarm, “the LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Psalm 46:11). He “is our refuge and strength” (today’s text), a bulwark never failing. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

Only God could accomplish this victory, for Satan is “the prince of this world” (John 14:30), “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). No man on Earth is his equal.

But how did the Son of God gain the victory? By taking on Himself “flesh and blood” and dying a substitutionary death, “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). JDM

As Thou Hast Believed”

Luke 7:1-17

OUR Lord, having healed elsewhere, returns to Capernaum and brings blessing at home as well as abroad (Matt. 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10). A Roman centurion comes to Him on behalf of a sick servant. How we ought always to come to our Lord on behalf of others—and not only of the high and mighty but even of servants, the despised and lowly! This centurion had lived up to the light he had; he had befriended the Jews and built them a synagogue. Such men always find more light.

His humility is shown in that he thought himself unworthy to have the Lord under his roof. That spirit also always gets a blessing. He recognizes that just as he has men under his authority, so the Lord has authority over disease. Alas, we today do not believe He can and will work wonders; we see no authority beyond the purely natural. There is little recognition of the sovereignty of our Christ over every problem.

In the simple faith of this centurion our Lord saw a prophetic type of Gentiles being saved while the unbelieving Jews would be cast out (Matt. 8:10-12). How true that is in this present church-age is evident to us all.

Jesus commanded the centurion, “Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” It reminds us of His statement to the blind men: “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matt. 9:29). Our faith is the measure of our blessing. As we believe, we receive. How naturally follows the conclusion here: “And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.” We blame many things for our meager, pale and tasteless lives today, but we simply do not believe His word enough to go our way. We must see before believing, whereas these believed and then went forth to see the wonder wrought.

Next day, our Lord entered Nain and met a widow’s son being carried to burial. A procession of life met a procession of death. Many people, we read in the account (Luke 7:11-17), were in each procession. It is not recorded that the widow solicited aid, but the Lord saw her and had compassion. With the simple word “Arise” He raised the dead. Three raisings are recorded in the Gospels. One had just died, the daughter of Jairus; this young man was on the way to burial; and Lazarus had been dead four days. But the Lord raised all three, and, although the details differed, each could say, “Once I was dead, but now I live.” Is it not so in conversion? Elijah and Elisha had raised the dead with great wrestlings, but here our Lord simply calls the dead to life.

Of course, after such an event the people would be in fear and glorify God, but most of the response, doubtless, was of that superficial sort that will not believe unless it sees signs and wonders. Often we think that if Jesus were among us today working such miracles, men would believe—but not so. Skeptics would offer their explanations, the magicians would produce their counterfeits, and sinful men would go on their way, loving darkness rather than light. More blessed are they who see not, yet believe and, believing, rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory!

Our Primary View of Him

Listen, Shepherd of Israel, who leads Joseph like a flock.—Psalm 80:1

Why did David choose to think of God as his Shepherd? The picture of God we carry deep in our hearts is the one we relate to whenever we find ourselves surrounded by trouble or difficulties. But perhaps what is more important is this—we will interpret every event of our lives in accordance with the inner picture that we have of Him.

When I have asked people during counseling to describe to me their primary view of God, I have been surprised that so often they see Him not as a loving Shepherd but as an austere and stern Judge. God is a Judge, of course—as David discovered when he committed adultery with Bathsheba—but that is not His primary relationship to His children. Someone has pointed out that the two most beautiful illustrations of God’s relationship to His people given in Scripture are those of a Father and a Shepherd. It is interesting also that the two best-known passages in the whole of God’s Word—the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23—use these analogies.

What kind of picture of God, I wonder, do you carry deep down in your heart? If your primary view of God is as a Judge, then you will tend to interpret your problems as God’s judgment upon you, rather than an opportunity to experience in your troubles His tender love and care. Make no mistake about it—the image of God that you carry deep in your heart is the one that you will relate to in a moment of crisis.

Prayer

O Father, help me develop a true image of You in my heart: a picture that is exposed, not from my own feelings and ideas about You, but from the principles that lie hidden in Your precious Word. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.

Further Study

Col 1:1-15; 2:9; Jn 1:1-2

How has God revealed Himself to us?

What is your picture of God?

Why Me?

Isaiah 6:8

Why should a troubled world trouble me? Can’t I close my ears and shut my eyes? After all, what can one person do? And anyway, why must that person be me?

Why me? That question was asked by Moses when God called him: “Who am I, that I should go?” (Exodus 3:11). He might have said, “I don’t like the crowds and the clamor and the complications of Egypt. I like the peace of the desert. Why me?” It was the attitude of one who feels inadequate, even fearful. Why me? The answers are given.

First of all, Moses was a man with a cause. It was God’s cause. The Lord said,

“I have indeed seen the misery of My people… I have heard them crying out… I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them” (Exodus 3:7-8). God wanted Moses’ help. It was already Moses’ cause. He too had seen and heard and knew the distress of his people. He had taken his stand with the oppressed. Even though Moses had run away and hidden in the desert, his heart still cared about the slaves in Egypt. Moses was a man with a cause.

Then, Moses was a man with a call. God said, “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring My people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10). It is not enough to recognize a great and worthy cause. There are many such in the world today. We must do more than see a need. We must sense and acknowledge a call which is positive and personal. Such calls seldom come with the dramatic vividness of Moses’ revelation, but however a call may come, God has a task for you and me.

Finally, Moses was a man with a Companion. And that is the best part of it. God said, “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12). And He was: through the Exodus and the wilderness, all the way and every day. From personal experience Moses would later say, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27). God’s promise to every believer is the same: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Moses was a man with a cause, a call and a Companion. He knew where he was going, what he was going for and with whom he was going.

What about your life? In the absence of a burning bush, will you face this burning question: “Who will help to heal the open sore of the world?”

Bramwell Tripp, Big Themes in Small Portions