Purpose Of Heart...
In Daniel, we read of another man who perservered for God: In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god. And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego. But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Daniel 1:1-8.
What set Daniel apart from the rest of "the children of Israel", that kept him in the favor of God? He purposed in his heart that he would NOT defile himself. He set boundaries and determined to NOT allow anyone or anything to entice him to cross them! And EVERY time his adversary tried to put him down, God elevated him! Then a "royal statute" went out: it was decreed that NO one could ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days. Whoever did so would be cast into the den of lions. Well, that sure scared old Daniel into hiding, didn't it? He ran pell-mell to his pastor to tattle tale how he was being persecuted, didn't he? OK, so WHAT did he do? ...He went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Daniel 6:10. Oh it meant he would face man's consequences, but God brought him through and promoted him again!
Press Toward The Mark...
Let's read what Apostle Paul declared: 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, I press toward the mark for the prize of the HIGH calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13,14. Such a declaration is neither the determination NOR the testimony of a QUITTER! To apprehend means to "acquire, catch, seize, overtake or take hold of". Paul knew he had not yet "acquired, caught, seized, overtaken or taken hold of" all that God had for him, but he knew how to keep striving toward that mark: by forgetting those things he had left behind and reaching FOR that which he wanted to obtain. And what did he want? To reach the MARK for the PRIZE of the HIGH CALLING of God in Christ Jesus. Paul had a goal; far too many today have no goal in life. Their lives are aimless shuffles through a period of time, without any "marks" of accomplishment. Please note use of the word there, "press". It doesn't read, "I coast toward the mark..."!
Paul listed some of the tribulations he had endured: Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. II Corinthians 11:24-28.
The ONLY way a person could survive so much is by the Grace of God! Paul was convinced beyond the shadow of ANY doubt, that God would deliver him, no matter what might come against him! He was so SOLD OUT TO GOD, his own life meant nothing to him--he was totally and completely prepared to lay down his life for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. II Corinthians 6: 3-10.
What? Paul meant that we were to be willing to go through ALL those things and NOT QUIT, not throw our hands up in defeat? That's right. What a testimony! Paul had "counted the cost" and had not only already paid dearly, but was willing to pay even more, even unto his own life! Now one might think that ole' Paul had others to lean on and support him. Wrong! He wrote that ...no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. II Timothy 4:16. So how did he get through it all? Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord SHALL deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. II Timothy 4:17,18. Glory to God!
Paul KNEW in Whom he had believed! For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. II Timothy 1:12. God will stand by us IF we are willing to stand by Him! He will NEVER lead us to do something, or send us somewhere to do something but what He's not right by us ALL the time!
Don't Look Back--Finish The Course!
Jesus, Himself, said, in language anyone can understand, ...No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:62. Don't be concerned about what is behind you, if it is covered by the Blood of the Lamb! Oh the world wants to make a joke out of it: "Don't look back, something may be gaining on you." I tell you, don't you worry about what is behind you, if it is covered by the Blood of the Lamb (salvation through Jesus Christ)! Our adversary, the devil, may try to use your past to defeat your future, but you need to remind him of his: he is ALREADY defeated! Don't give him any ground! The Bible calls it "giving place to the devil": don't allow him to worry and batter and biff you around! He's a liar!
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your PERSONAL SAVIOR, you have been blood-bought and your past is just that: the PAST. Oh, you will never forget many things (and we need to remember a lot of them for their lesson value), but they cannot be used against you by the enemy of your soul, UNLESS you give up or give in!
A Findochty fisherman had been converted under James Turner's preaching. He was assailed by the enemy, who cast doubt on the Word of God. Lying awake one night, the fisherman's soul was in great conflict with the adversary. His wife heard him say aloud, "God says it in John 6:37." Then after a little, she heard him say, "I'll prove it," upon which he sprang on to the floor, lit a candle, turned to the Bible reference, and said, "Look at that, and say nae mair."
We MUST, just like the Apostle Paul, continue to PRESS toward the mark! We cannot allow ourselves to be seduced, by anyone or anything, into quitting or giving up. Just as Noah was the laughingstock and considered insane as he built the ark, don't you reckon folks' opinions quickly changed when the rain began to fall and the rivers began to overflow? When we reach that which we have pressed toward for so long, all those who declared we were "strange", or "out of step" won't think so any more! We will have obtained the greatest prize of all: the MARK--our goal. Not by quitting, not by "coasting", but by pressing onward!
Some folks don't "last long enough" to allow God to prove Himself to them! Jesus said, Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. John 15:4-7.
Remember just before the Israelites crossed the riverbed, dry-shod? They looked back and could see the Egyptian army coming after them. Oh how they began to lament their "fate". Lot and his family were warned to "not look back" as they fled. Yet his wife could not resist--and was turned to a pillar of salt. On the other hand, let's read about Paul and Silas: And when they had laid MANY stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas PRAYED, and SANG PRAISES unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. Acts 16:23-26.
What? Singing praises when they'd been beaten and thrust into prison? And we throw our hands up in defeat over an unkind word, or some imagined slight? Someone might say, "But we can't be like Paul or Silas." Truer words were never spoken! And the reason for it is because they pressed toward and we draw back! Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. Hebrews 10:38. Paul and Silas counted it "high calling" (privilege and honor) to serve the Lord; we consider it an imposition and inconvenience! We have the records of what these great men of faith went through so we can know the same is available to us, even in this modern world! For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4.
Don't stop. Don't quit. Don't give up. Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. Hebrews 10:35, 36. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us RUN WITH PATIENCE THE RACE THAT IS SET BEFORE US, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1,2. [ The End ]
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