You Mustn’t Quit
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14
Paul writes: ‘Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me…All of us…who are mature should take such a view of things’ (vv. 13-15). Paul was driven by his vision of reaching the world for Christ (Romans 10:1). It was his yardstick for daily living and his motivation for every effort. It made him relentless. An unknown poet wrote: ‘When things go wrong as they sometimes will, and the road you’re trudging seems all uphill. When funds are low and the debts are high, and you want to smile but you have to sigh. When things are pressing you down a bit, rest if you must, but don’t you quit! Life is strange with its twists and turns, as every one of us sometimes learns. And many a failure turns about, when he might have won if he’d stuck it out. Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow—you might succeed with another blow. Often the goal is nearer than it seems, to a faint and faltering man. Often the struggler has given up, when he might have captured the victor’s cup. And he learned too late, when the night slipped down, how close he was to the golden crown. Success is failure turned inside out—the silver tint of the clouds of doubt. You never can tell how close you are, it may be near when it seems afar. So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—it’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.’
Heavenly Father, help me fight the good fight, finish the race, and never give up on what you have planned for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace Ephesians 1:7
‘Peter asked, “How many times should I forgive someone who does…wrong to me? Is seven times enough?” Jesus answered: “Not…seven…but seventy-seven times!”’ (Matthew 18:21-22). But we shouldn’t stop there. If God gave each of us only seventy-seven ‘forgiveness passes’, we’d be in trouble! You can’t bankrupt your ‘forgiveness account’ with God. But when you refuse to forgive others, you’re overlooking the fact that ‘You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out’ (Galatians 6:1). Jesus said, ‘Forgive—only then will your heavenly Father…wipe your slate clean’ (Mark11:25). Whether it’s seven, seventy-seven, or seven thousand times, you always reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7). We’re all human, and when somebody hurts us we want justice. But God wants you to forgive the wrongdoer before he asks or shows any sign of remorse. Does that mean he will escape the consequences of his actions? No, it just means you’re not responsible for making it happen—God is. Harboring grudges is spiritually, emotionally and physically draining; forgiveness energizes and frees you to move on. Remember, you’ve been forgiven ‘in accordance with the riches of…grace…He lavished on us.’ But it comes with the requirement that you forgive others! When you think about the debt God forgave you, anything anyone could ever do to you pales by comparison, right? ‘His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again’ (Annie Johnson Flint, 1866-1932). Now that’s lavish grace!
Heavenly Father, thank You for the grace You lavish on me each day. Help me to forgive others with the same grace You give me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Don’t Be A Stirrer!
At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home. 2 Samuel 11:13
Try to picture these two scenes. First: Christ in heaven defending you and acting as your Advocate before God. ‘If anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ’ (1 John 2:1). Second: You here on earth, accusing someone. The Bible calls Satan ‘the accuser of our brothers… who accuses them before our God day and night’ (Revelation 12:10). Which side are you on? You say, ‘But I heard it on the grapevine.’ Has it ever occurred to you that you might not be connected to the right vine? Jesus said, ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit’ (John 15:5). The fruit Jesus referred to here is ‘good’ fruit. He said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ And what’s the opposite of a peacemaker? A stirrer! These are often people with inner turmoil, unresolved issues or a chip on their shoulder who go through life stirring stuff up. When they see a tapestry, they look for a thread to unravel it. Some do it deliberately, others unwittingly. When you have little or no joy in your own life, it’s hard to celebrate joy in the lives of others. To be a peacemaker you must nip conflict, criticism and complaining in the bud. Tactfully steer the conversation in a different direction. And if need be, talk to the person who is stirring things up. At best, you’ll help them to change. At second best, they’ll think twice about what they say to you.
Heavenly Father, help me to be an agent of peace in situations where there is strife. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Prepare For Challenges
The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. Proverbs 27:12
The path to your God-given destiny will have different challenges, so you must expect them. Indeed you must prepare yourself to face them. Solomon wrote, ‘A sensible man watches for problems ahead and prepares to meet them.’ Wouldn’t you rather look ahead and prepare, instead of looking back with regret? Why does the Bible record the failures of great men like Abraham, Moses, Elijah and Peter? To give you hope; to let you know that nobody performs flawlessly; to help you believe if they can do it, by God’s grace you can too. The road to success has many potholes. You’ll fall into some—and they’re messy. Not only will you have to climb back out, you’ll have to dust yourself off, refocus, recommit, and keep going. Since failure is inevitable, why not make it your friend by examining each experience and growing stronger through it? Once you learn to do that, you won’t keep repeating the same mistakes, and you’ll become more emotionally and spiritually stable. Timelines change, resources dry up, assumptions prove false, plans and people fail. As comedian Bill Cosby quipped, ‘Nothing fits in a pigeonhole but a pigeon.’ As you walk the pathway to your God-given dream, remember the old Italian proverb: ‘Between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out’. No problem; you can get another pair of shoes! Just make sure you don’t wear out and give up. Here’s God’s promise to you: ‘Keep travelling steadily along His pathway and in due season He will honor you with every blessing’ (Psalms 37:34).
Heavenly Father, give me strength and perseverance to continue to run the race. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
How Well Do You Know Jesus?
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:9
A fascinating encounter took place between Jesus and Philip. When ‘Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father”…Jesus answered: “Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?”’ (vv. 8-9). There’s a lesson here for all of us. You can go to church regularly, serve on the board and sing in the choir, yet not really ‘know’ the Lord. To truly know someone, you must spend time with them, sharing and opening your heart. In other words, the relationship must become your top priority. What you are reading is called a ‘devotional’ because its aim is to bring you to the place where you’re more devoted to Christ than anything else. Does that mean neglecting other things? No, it’ll actually enhance every other area of your life. The Bible says, ‘He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel’ (Psalms 103:7). Israel knew God’s acts because they were observers, whereas Moses knew His ways because he was intimate with Him. Israel saw what God did; Moses was close enough to understand His thinking and why He did what He did. Three times Jesus asked Peter, ‘Do you love Me?’ (John 21:15). The first two times Peter answered, ‘Yes.’ The third time, frustrated by the question, he answered, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You’ (v. 17). Note the words, ‘Lord, You know.’ You can fool others, and even yourself, but the Lord knows the quality of your love for Him. Today His desire is to draw you closer to Himself. Are you available?
Heavenly Father, help me submit to You and grow in my love for You as You love me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen