Scripture - Hebrews 12:1,
The author of Hebrews used the illustration of a runner running a race to describe the Christian life. How urges us to run with all perseverance, until we cross the finish line. We must be aware that we easily can become side-tracked by the frustrating circumstances of life.
I was thinking of another sport, soccer. The soccer player knows the importance of perseverance. His opponent will aggravate him, bump him, and knock him down. His opponent tries to get him so worried about himself until he cannot concentrate on getting the ball into the net. But a good player keeps going, never taking his eye off the goal. This is what we must do when Satan attacks us and tries to claim our attention with unimportant matters that will keep us from living a faithful and committed life for our Lord. He will use unfair treatment by others (Psalm 37:1); or some tempting desire to get us thinking more about ourselves and forgetting or taking our attention away from the goal of obeying God.
There is help for us when we get knocked down (1 Corinthians 10:13). Just knowing that other believers have faced similar circumstances and have overcome Satan’s strategy by keeping their eye on the goal and finishing the race. This is a great source of encouragement for those of us that are yet running (2 Timothy 4:7). The cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12:1 is composed of the saints referred to in chapter 11; those who persevered.
Being aware of our weaknesses can help us lay aside every weight and sin that so easily diverts us from our God-ordained path (Psalm 37:23). Let us not be side-tracked by the temporary pleasures of this world as we run our Christian race. Keep going for the goal (2 Timothy 4:8).
Tell somebody about Jesus today. Pray for all Pastors. Remember, we are one at the throne (1 Thess. 5:17).
— Sister Catherine Raphael
Scripture Matthew 20:17-28
Personal ambition and servanthood aren't always compatible. In fact, they are often at odds with each other. A servant's goal is to please his or her master in whatever way is required, but person ambition stives for self-advancement. Jesus' words from today's passage must have sounded foreign to the disciples' ears since, according to the thinking of their culture, greatness was acquired by striving for it, not by serving.
Like them, we live in a world where many people are seeking to make a name for themselves. They set goals, make plans, and do whatever is necessary to achieve what they've set out to do. But as Christians, we're to live by a different standard: exalt Christ, obey His commands, and serve Him faithfully by doing His will, not our own.
We're not called to gain fame and fortune by leaving our footprints in concrete for all to admire. Our task is to humbly follow in Jesus' footsteps. Whether our lives have a large or small impact is up to God, not us. The greatest acts of service are not usually flashy displays; more often they're commonplace gestures like being kind to strangers, ministering to fellow believers, and praying for others.
Jesus humbled Himself, surrendered His rights, and obeyed God even to the point of death on the cross (Phil. 2:5-8). Being His servant with the same attitude. It requires helping others when it's not convenient, doing tasks that are not glamorous, and obeying the Lord even it it's costly. We aren't on earth to build our own kingdom but to faithfully serve God as He builds His.
—Dr. Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministries
This Month's Scripture
Scripture: Hebrews 12:22
This progression of blessing is laid out beautifully in Psalm 128. In verses 1–2 we see the blessing that comes from personal responsibility or self-government: “How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you.”
Then the blessing moves to the family: “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table” (v. 3). When you become responsible for yourself, your mate and your children flourish.
Next in line is the church. “The Lord bless you from Zion” (v. 5). Zion was the place of worship where the temple was located. The church—the people of God, the spiritual community—is blessed when God’s government operates the way it should, since it is the New Testament expression of Zion (see Hebrews 12:22-24).
Then what happens when the individual, the family, and the church get it right? The government of the nation experiences blessing: “May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Indeed, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!” (Psalm 128:5-6).
When people govern themselves under God, you have peace and blessing. Are you governing your life according to God’s Word and His principles of government? If you are, you can expect God’s blessing. But if you aren’t, then don’t blame anybody else.
Are you governing your family under God’s kingdom rule? If you are, there’s blessing waiting for you again. But if you aren’t, don’t complain about the church or the government.
Reflection: Do you sense God’s blessing on your life and your family? In what ways is God opening the door for you to bless others outside your family? Pray that God will open opportunities for you to bless your family and others.
Lord, grant me the legacy of Psalm 128. Where I have failed, forgive me. Where I can change, show me. Let my life be a living testament of what this passage proclaims.
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