Sunday, 3 January 2021

Spiritual Resolutions

 Scripture:  Philippians 3 v 13 - 15: "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15  Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you."

Micah 6 v 8: "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

If we who love Jesus Christ start 2021 by dedicating our lives to Him afresh, pledging our time and resources to furthering the gospel, and being obedient to the will of our Father, we shall do well.

We can then begin to press towards the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ.  It requires forgetting the hurts, grievances, bitter memories of the past.  Because keeping those experiences alive in our minds gives the enemy control over our behaviour and commitment to forgive and love.

Mark 11 v 25 - 26: "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
26  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."  Words of Jesus.

When we forgive it must not be fake but real and complete.  It must be something we no longer brood over and suffer emotionally about.  If we let it go, God heals us, if we hang on to it it becomes a continual bruise in our soul, always being reignited.  So make a decision right now that this will no longer hinder us from the prize of the calling of Jesus.

We all have a desire to win a prize, but none of them equals the high calling of Jesus.  He has a prize for each person who commits his way to doing something, anything, to advance the Kingdom of God and rescue souls from hellfire.

So let's make a resolution to find unique or interesting ways to make Jesus known to those who have no idea of how precious a friend He is.

Many live through poverty, famine, war and grief, even this pandemic, a living Hell, but also have never heard of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  He gave us the commission to go into all the world and bring the truth to them.  

It's not enough to send verses and prayers on Twitter, etc., although some have been blessed this way.  Jesus came Himself to save us and if we are following we must go where He sends us and realise that all those who are not yet born again are living in terrible deception.  

I urge you to feel this burden with me.  Think of all the different churches you know and find out what their "gospel" consists of.  Only those churches preaching the full gospel of salvation will qualify for God's approval, without which they will have their candlestick removed, if they ever had one.  Churches transformed into Bingo Halls are those with no candlestick.

Acts 2 v 36 - 39: "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
37  Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39  For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."

We will not win that prize through our ability to tweet or use other media to spread the Word.  We must physically be willing to go to the needy and meet the need.  The prize goes to those who are brave and bold enough to put love and faith into action.

Finally the Lord requires that we live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.  With so much corruption in governments everywhere its easy to join in the clamour of condemnation.  It is not the way of Christianity to run the world, we are no longer part of it although we live in it.  We can exert an influence through righteous living, prayer, uplifting the poor and needy, and rejecting compromise with evil.

There are many who support getting more Christians into government.  This may help in the short term to achieve some changes but the Lord is building His Church, this is the invisible Body of Christ made up of true believers everywhere.  We are new creations who are submitted to the Highest of the High, and trying to fit in with governing the world is a compromise that will probably backfire.

We have to make rational decisions based on spiritual truth.  The late David Wilkerson had his life turned upside down when he was called by Jesus to move out of his comfort zone to minister to the gangs of New York, and in particular, Nicky Cruz, one of the worst offenders.  Today, Nicky Cruz runs the ministry Teen Challenge, that has turned many lives around through deliverance from drugs, alcohol, sex and crime to the joy of Jesus.  David Wilkerson wrote the Cross and the Switchblade about this transformation.

He was not called to run for high office in New York and make laws against crime, but to get going in the ultra messy, dangerous business of confronting gangs with the truth about Jesus.  He had many hair raising moments but he won their trust and their hearts for Jesus.  He made a huge difference with the love he had for gang members who lacked the moral and social boundaries that parents should give their children.

To walk humbly with our God in these days when low self esteem is considered a disadvantage in many church programs where leadership is taught, is a difficult way of life.  However, we were never called to be leaders, we have our leader and His name is Jesus.  We are called to follow Him.  His ways are contrary to the world's ways and we need to change to conform to Him.

To conform to Jesus we need to study how He behaved towards people, what He loved, what angered Him.  He walked 204 miles to minister to a Samaritan women drawing water from a well.  He fought against religion, He went out to heal the sick and deliver the oppressed from demons.  He said follow Me.  Paul said follow me as I follow Christ.  He never abused women, He never lied, cheated, slandered nor cursed.  He loved, prayed and gave His life so spiritual death would pass from us.

Let us start this year by humbling ourselves to follow Jesus and heeding every word that came out of His mouth.  Let us consciously change from being afraid to go through doors where some unknown thing will occur and rather trust Jesus to go before us to prepare our way.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I dedicate this year to You, to be a follower of Jesus, willing to do His bidding, reach out to the needy and extend His Kingdom. Thank You for the opportunity to partake in seeking the prize of a high calling to become a useful instrument in Your hands.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.