Philippians 3:14 “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (KJV)
Genuinely praise God.
Opportunities to serve God are everywhere.
Anticipate greatness because God is great.
Live to the glory of God.
The importance of setting our sights on a target is easily grasped. “To-Do” lists seem to be a part of life. My father-in-law has been retired for years but still ends every evening by writing out a list of things he hopes to accomplish the next morning. School children begin every day by copying the learning objectives for the day’s classes. No matter in what stage of life we are, goals are important. We have been immersed and indoctrinated into the philosophy and need to target a goal; however, we miss the value of setting goals in the church.
Paul said he was pressing on toward the goal. We too are pressing on toward the upward call of God, but what does that mean? We know what it means in sports. We understand incentives and prizes as they relate to contests and games, but what is the GOAL of a Christian life?
Praise is an important aspect of our life in Christ. We should genuinely praise God. Every situation affords us an opportunity to praise God, but is our praise always what it should be? Is it a true reflection of our heart or just what we want others to see? Genuine means authentic, sincere, real. We can probably understand praise best if we relate it to our personal experience. Real praise offered to us, is based upon our accomplishments. Oh, the things we will do to earn praise from those we admire. Oh, the things we have done to be noticed. The world is full of approval seekers. People are attracted to us or repelled by us based on their estimation of our character and accomplishments.
We may begin to approach praise from our human understanding, but the praise that leads us into worship and the presence of God follows a different path. While praise that we receive is the result of our accomplishment, praise offered toward our Heavenly Father does not result from His deeds alone. With God we begin our praise based upon who He is. Then we move into thanksgiving for what He has done. God shows Himself worthy of our praise in countless ways each day. The GOAL of a Christian life simply stated is the completion of four tasks: 1. Genuinely praise God. 2. Take advantage of Opportunities to serve God everywhere. 3. Anticipate greatness. 4. Live to the glory of God.
Genuine praise comes from the heart. When we love someone or something, it is easy to praise either them or the attributes we feel attracted toward. The awesomeness God displays in His creation is a magnificent place to begin. Just the name of God is enough reason to praise Him according to the scripture. Greatness, beauty, splendor, holiness –– all these are places we can begin genuine praise. (Deuteronomy 32:3)
Once we recognize God for Who He is we can begin to pour out our affection, adoration, and praise to Him freely. At that point, God’s actions and involvement in our lives also allow us opportunity to give Him genuine praise. Music and song are powerful emotional elements and should be incorporated into our praise. Joyful heartfelt individual praise leads us into corporate worship. Who God is –– simply awesome! What He has done –– wonderful! Our response offered to God as authentic expressions of our thanksgiving –– powerfully uplifting. (1 Chronicles 16:9)
Genuinely praising God gives us reason to rejoice. God is what no other power can be. He does what no other power can do, and we are glad and rejoice because of His love, mercy, and forgiveness. (Psalm 9:2)
Praise and worship go beyond music and become a way of life. They are opportunities to serve the Lord. Lifting our hands to assist others is as much a part of our praise as dancing and waving banners in the sanctuary. Recognizing Who God is and sharing His blessing with those around us is the essence of serving God. Helping others with the love of God in our hearts, offering words of encouragement using every opportunity to glorify God, it’s all part of a life of praise and worship. The giver of life inhabits our praise and pours out His presence upon us as we worship giving us abundant life both here and in eternity.
Do you ever feel trapped here just wanting to step on into eternity? It is a delicate balance and a tender struggle. Living here, in the world, without being part of it calls for spiritual wisdom. Using every opportunity to glorify God, calls for spiritual maturity. That type of maturity grows and develops from our fellowship with Him. We talk about serving God where He places us, but what does that look like? The old saying, “Bloom where you’re planted.” –– How do we do that?
Unique individuals created by an awesome God are not limited in their expressions of worship. They are not mindlessly bound to a single vocation and they reflect the creativity of God as they use the gifts He has given to meet needs. Blooming where you’re planted means use every opportunity to shine for the glory of God. Just as I cannot tell you what your gifts are I cannot tell you how to serve. Where I fall short, God is able — trust Him. I simply challenge each individual to get involved and serve God where you are. Be part of the marketplace (daily life, faith filled interactions) ministry.
Wisdom and direction with regard to our actions in the marketplace come from the word of God. As we live out our faith, unbelievers, or outsiders, see and recognize the glory of God in us. Sooner or later as the Spirit draws they respond. The Word is our standard –– are we living it? The love of God is our sustenance –– do we share it? The salvation of souls is our goal –– do we offer it? (Colossians 4:5)
The Bible calls on us to do some impossible things. One of the most difficult is showing love for our enemies. Even with a super dose of the Holy Ghost there are those people who just get under our skin. Pray for those people when they come into our lives. When we seek God’s best for them, He changes our heart. We become a shining example of His grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness and that is what transforms the world. Opportunities to serve God are everywhere. (Luke 6:35)
Ungrateful might just be the word that sums up the state of this generation; but that does not excuse us from serving God completely. I ministered in a service on a Sunday morning in a very small church. I was surprised at a banner hanging across the piano. Not that banners hanging in the church are a new thing –– but the message was unique. It simply read, “GET OVER IT AND GET ON WITH IT”.
Getting past the fact that some people will never agree with what we do, and may never like us on a personal level, allows us to operate in the fullness of God’s love. He shows mercy to the ungrateful and empowers us to follow His lead. Always offering ourselves in fellowship and ministry touches more lives and changes more hearts through the power of God’s love.
Again, the GOAL of a Christian life simply stated is the completion of four tasks: 1. Genuinely praise God. 2. Take advantage of Opportunities to serve God everywhere. 3. Anticipate greatness. 4. Live to the glory of God. As we work out our own salvation, and minister in relationships with other believers, God irons out our theology and He gains the glory for what is accomplished. (Galatians 6:10)
Genuinely praise God. Opportunities are everywhere. There is always room for improvement, and we cannot allow the devil a foothold by beating ourselves up over our past failures. Repent! Get up and move forward. Anticipate greatness because God is great.
How many small churches are there in any given community? Even the smallest church can be an example of God’s greatness. After all, wherever two or three are gathered in His name He promises to be there. We can rest assured there are more small committed congregations than mega-churches in any community and God is willing to display His greatness in all of them. The GOAL is to save souls and build the Kingdom. God is not worried about our denominational differences. We are. God does not measure our effectiveness by the number of members in the pews. We do.
God’s promise to Abraham can be applied to the church. God intends to make His church great. We are a great nation of kings and priests. We are a holy nation, and when we begin to act on those facts we will see the greatness of our God shining through everything we do as the body of Christ.
God made Abraham a great nation. God blessed him and his name was great. He (Abraham) was a blessing everywhere he went. Anyone who came in contact with him was blessed. Even the unrighteous were blessed because of his faith in God. He acted on what he believed. Do we follow his example? We are expected to be a blessing to others. (Genesis 12:2)
Praise God for everything He is doing, pray for all those He is using, and realize He is not finished. God’s goodness is far greater than we can imagine. It is poured out in the sight of men on anyone and everyone that takes refuge in the Lord. Think about all that God is doing and consider how much more He would do if we took refuge together in Him and began to anticipate greatness because God is great. (Psalm 31:19)
Taking refuge in the Lord does not mean that we are hiding. God does His mighty works out in the open where they can be seen. Our lives are examples of His most glorious work. We need to get out in the open and let the world see what God has done. The GOAL is that people think about what God has done in us and believe that He can and will do the same in them. (Psalm 111:2)
Genuinely praise God. Opportunities are everywhere. Anticipate greatness because God is great. Live to the glory of God. Everyone is not going to agree with us and everyone is not going to accept us, but we will be effective if we can manage to live our lives in such a way that God is glorified.
Our lives will not be problem free. Our actions will be misunderstood, and we will be accused of wrong; however, no matter what they accuse us of, they cannot deny that the hand of God is active and moving in our lives. We know that what we invest our time, energy, and money into has potential to bless untold thousands, when we are investing in His Kingdom, and God has proven Himself faithful in delivering us safely through every hardship. Not because of anything we have done by our own strength, but based totally of the righteousness of Christ and our faith in Him. To glorify God is to give Him real praise. Praise from the heart of our spirit. (1Peter 2:12)
A life lived to the glory of God is marked by these characteristics: 1. It is a life overflowing with hope. 2. It is a life full of joy and peace. 3. It is a life completely equipped to teach godliness by example. 4. It is a life whose foundation is absolute dependence upon God.
Speaking strictly for myself, I must admit these traits did not always mark my life. Is anyone shocked? I was not always a sold-out saint. Yes, I was raised in church. Yes, I had godly parents who taught and lived scriptural principles, but I was not filled with hope. At thirteen I gave my heart to the Lord and immediately got involved in whatever ministries were available –– helping with the bus ministry (making calls and riding along) –– participating in maintenance projects –– making myself useful; but by eighteen or twenty I was just going through the motions. There were a few more ups and downs, but the point is: salvation is a personal issue and God never gives up on us. (Romans 15:13-17)