Jesus had never envisioned for ministry to be associated with fame and notoriety. To the contrary, Jesus trained His disciples to face rejection, accusation, and persecution and to continue to advance the Kingdom of God in the midst of it. Ministry was never meant to be about individuals but about the Kingdom of God! …
Humanity labors needlessly attempting to find acceptance in life by various natural means. Jesus called all those who labor and weary to come to Him. Jesus’ invitation is the Lord opening His arms of acceptance to bring security and sanity in a confused world. His acceptance also brings life and fruitfulness in our lives. …
The Lord holds the times and the seasons, and He has placed each of us on this earth at this time for His purpose and pleasure. If we are going to be effective in the Kingdom of God and have satisfaction in life, we all need to be in tune with the Lord and understand His will for the season we are in. We are also called to steward our time well and use it wisely. We cannot earn more time, but we can squander it if we are not intentional with it.
The Meaning of Life
What is the meaning of life? Can there be meaning to life apart from the designer of life!? I shared in the last devotional that our value and importance is tied to the one who created us. If our origin stemmed from natural processes, then we have no significance! If there is no significance then there is no purpose or meaning to life! …
Are you laying hold of all that Jesus laid hold of you!? Apostle Paul shows us how to do it. He is a good model of someone who continually fought the good fight! His life is a testimony of longevity and success in fighting the good fight of faith!
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; 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 3:12-14
Although Paul had accomplished much in his ministry, he knew that he needed to continue to press on and lay hold of God! The above scriptures give us insight on how he persevered and continued to advance in God’s purpose!
Paul did not think that he had attained everything or had arrived spiritually. He did not see himself as a completely perfected believer. Instead, he saw himself as one who was still on his way to perfection. This reminds me of what Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 13.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13:9-12
Paul likened his walk to a child and saw himself putting childish things away as he matured. Even though he had put childish ways aside, he still only saw in the mirror dimly. He did not assume that he saw everything clearly. Paul had a correct evaluation of his maturity in the Lord. He did not confuse his success in ministry with perfection in the faith. He also was not deceived with the fact that just because the Lord had given him revelation and insight in the spiritual realm, that it meant that he knew all there was about the Kingdom of God! This humility and correct evaluation of his walk allowed him to remain dependent on the Lord and keep pressing on!
Similarly, we may have impressive ministry in preaching, prophecy, or writing, but none of those should make us think that we have arrived! The Lord graciously gives us insight, revelation, and understanding, but what He shows us, is minute in comparison to the magnificence of God and His total plan for the humanity. Recognizing our dependence on the Lord will cause us to continue to press on and not get complacent or lazy.
In the above passage in Philippians, Paul continued by stating that as he pressed on, he forgot what was behind him! He did not look back! Paul’s past was a mixture of worldly success and failure since he had persecuted the church. If Paul had looked back at his life, he could have been trapped by the guilt and shame of the past and what he did to the innocent believers such as Stephen. On the other hand, he may have missed the prestige and the status he used to have among his counterparts. Looking back would not have produced any good fruit, and it would have only trapped him in the past and derailed him from pressing on and moving forward in God’s purpose.
The only benefit of looking back is when we remind ourselves of God’s loving kindness and His deliverance in our lives. Otherwise, the past can trap us. Some people stay stuck in “the good old days”, which causes them to want to be focused on the past. Others may be burdened by the pain of the past. Neither of those memories produce any good fruit.
Instead of looking at the past, we need to focus on the fact that God’s mercies are new every morning. Everyday is a fresh new day with new possibilities and new mercies. God is always at work, and He has new opportunities, new encounters, and new revelation. The Lord is never done with His work on the earth, and He chooses to use us in partnering with Him in bringing His Kingdom and His will on the earth. That requires all of us to press on and to lay hold of what Jesus laid hold of us! This is fighting the good fight of faith!
How do you perceive your spiritual maturity? Do you find yourself leaning on your laurels from past accomplishments? Are there things from the past that causes you not to press into the Kingdom of God?Do you continue to press on towards God, so you can lay hold of what Jesus laid hold of you?
In the last few devotionals, I shared about the life of Moses, Joseph, and Jesus and their wilderness experiences. In each of their lives, their wilderness journey had a different purpose.
In the case of Moses, the Lord had to break Moses’ pride and natural strength and to teach him to rely on Him fully. Moses experienced his own wilderness before he could lead the Israelites through their wilderness for forty years! He was being prepared to represent the Lord before Gods’ people, and he had to be shaped through humility, consistency, and perseverance in the wilderness.
As for Joseph’s life, although he was loved dearly by his natural father, Jacob’s love was not enough to fulfill God’s plan for his life! Joseph learned to lean into the Lord when he was all alone, and he had no earthly love to draw upon. It was during this time that God gave him more than a dream but gave him interpretation to others’ dreams that opened the door to his destiny!
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. Luke 4:13-14
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15
Jesus did not go into the wilderness because he had any sins or weaknesses in His life. Instead, the fasting and the wilderness experience allowed Him to come out full of power for what he was going to experience for the next three years of His life! He was being prepared for what was coming ahead as He was going to suffer on the cross for the sins of the world! He was also tempted in the wilderness in order to identify with our frailty and to be fully qualified as the High priest to intercede on our behalf before the Father. He remained strong and courageous when all the powers of hell broke lose against Him. He resisted every temptation and allowed the Lord to do His perfect will through His life!
What is beautiful and amazing about the stories of Moses, Joseph, and Jesus is that they were all gracious and forgiving towards those who mistreated them and falsely accused them! The wilderness had taught them to give up their rights to their own plans and to have a resolve for God’s will! They were willing to be the vessel that God wanted them to be in order to be used for the benefit of others! In the case of Jesus, His forgiveness opened the door for the entire humanity to have a chance to be saved from hell and darkness! The Bible shows us that many of God’s people experienced wilderness in their lives, and the Lord used the wilderness for His own purpose and for the benefit of His people.
If we are truly honest with ourselves thriving in the wilderness is a tough process! Many yearn to change the world but struggle greatly to allow the flesh to fully die in the wilderness! Why is wilderness so distasteful to most of us? Because there is nothing there to keep us busy or distracted. It’s boring! It feels like it will never end. We can’t set goals or make any progress. We are not in control! We don’t know what to do with ourselves, and we get fidgety looking around to get our hands busy with something. Our main focus becomes how to get out of the wilderness!
The wilderness experience is supposed to shape us for God’s glory and purpose! However, it is also full of temptations! Hence, it requires our attention, courage, and patience to be able to successfully persevere through it until such a time that the Lord gets us out of it! We don’t know how the Lord is going to do it, but we know that He is faithful and He will do it in time as we cooperate with Him!