Tuesday, January 20, 2009

On Fire For God

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." ( Phil. 3:13-14).Paul says he is determined to "Press on toward the goal." To press gives us the picture of going on the track of something, like the hounds pursuing the fox. This was his lifelong commitment, it gripped his heart and guided his life. David Livingstone, pioneer medical missionary to Africa upon returning to Great Britain was asked, "Where do you want to go now?" Without hesitation, like the good Christian pioneer he was, Livingstone replied "I am ready to go anywhere provided it be forward." When we speak of our acceptance with God, we are complete in Christ, as soon as we believe. The work of Christ on our behalf is has been finished, but the work of the Holy Spirit in us is not complete. The work of the Holy Spirit goes on from day by day. The Scriptures speak of our new birth lives in the context of progress. Nearly every term used to describe the believer speaks of growth and change. We are plants in the Lord's field, but we are sown so we may grow. We are born into the family of God, where there are babes, little children, etc. We are pilgrims, warriors, wrestlers. These terms connote the very opposite of idleness. Here are a few quotes on zeal that might stimulate us to ponder what it means in our personal life to truly press on toward the goal."It's easier to cool down a fanatic than warm up a corpse." Brother Andrew"Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God." William Carey" As well a chariot without its steeds, a sun without its beams, a heaven without its joy, as a man of God without zeal." C.H. Spurgeon"I cared not when or how I lived, or what hardships I went through, so that I could gain souls for Christ." David Brained"It is better to wear out than to rust out." Richard Cumberland"A zealous man in religion is a man of one thing. He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God." J.C. RyleWe need an outbreak of holy heartburn, when hearers shall be doers, when congregations shall go out from meetings to do things for God." Vance Havner" One live coal may set a whole stack on fire." John TrappGet on fire for God and men will come and see you burn." John WesleyO Lord, make me an extraordinary Christian." George Whitefield"Zeal is like fire; in the chimney it is one of the best servants, but out of the chimney it is one of the worst masters." Thomas Brooks The church of Jesus Christ needs to take a hard look at what she is reading and singing. There has been quite a bit of trite fluff (as well as some great books and songs) produced in recent years. Certainly we need books and songs that lift up our Lord and glorify Him. We also need songs and Christian books that speak of total surrender, humility, repentance, sacrifice and fervent prayer. We need to sing and talk about holiness, the fullness of the Holy Spirit and Christian love. We so often live shallow Christian lives, and wonder why we are always in spiritual crisis. Could it be due to our retarded spiritual growth? Maybe we have forgotten that the prize is Christ likeness. We must remember the works that assure maximum productivity in Christ. "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5). The year was 1023, and the competing track teams of Scotland and France were neck and neck. But among the events remaining was the 440. As the runners, clad in traditional 1920s white, came to the first turn, they were bunched tight, shoulder to shoulder, when one of them was pushed to the ground and off the track. For a second he was down, and then up again, running (though twenty meters behind), his knees high, his head back, flying. As the leaders sprinted toward the finish line, he emerged ahead to win. It was a famous win, immortalized in the movie Chariots of Fire. What would most runners have done? Most would have waved a fist, dusted themselves off, and watched the outcome. Perhaps there would have been a few words exchanged after the race. But the athlete in question was beyond the ordinary. It was as if he had been reading this passage "Forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I focus all my energy on the race; and seeing the goal, I fly to the finish." (Hughes, R. K: The Fellowship of the Gospel. Crossway Books). Years ago, a group of Englishmen tried to conquer Mt. Everest. They pressed on against cold, wind, blizzards, and avalanches. when they came within 2,000 feet of the peak, they set up camp. Two men, Mallory and Irvine, eagerly pressed on, expecting to return in about 16 hours. They never returned. The official record said simply" "When last seen, they were heading toward the summit." Whatever the obstacles in our lives, let's keep pressing on. At life's end, may it be said of each one of us "When last seen, they were heading toward the summit." When the pressure is on, press on. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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