WOMEN, PRESSING TOWARD THE MARK
13 "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."
This is January, a new year and a new opportunity to serve our precious Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! I have always loved January. I love to take a long, hard look at myself, put some things behind me and make new goals to better serve my precious Lord. The beginning of a new year for many people is a time for reflecting and for making new goals. Of course, this can be done at any time, not just January. The Jewish New Year started with April so we know there is nothing special to the Lord about our month of January. Yet, any time is a good time to ask ourselves certain questions. "Are we "pressing" forward for Christ's sake?" "Are we working toward the goals that the Lord would have us to?" "Are we working toward becoming the women the Lord would have us to be?" Paul said, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Paul also said that he put some things behind him in order to pursue his goal of serving the Lord. He chose to go in that one direction. He did not linger nor go backwards. He did not let his past stop him. He says he "pressed" toward that goal. He applied himself diligently and did not let anything sway him to do otherwise.
Women, we must often reevaluate ourselves and take a new look at what we can do or should be doing to better serve our precious Lord and Saviour who bought us. Are we "pressing" toward that goal for ourselves? Are we striving or diligently working toward that goal? If not, let's all renew our commitments to put all of our energies into "pressing" toward our goal; that of being what and who the Lord wants us to be!
TO SERVE AND PLEASE HIM WITH ALL OF OUR BEING!
We must not fall into the trap of believing that the Lord will do this for us, or "to us". Some people erroneously believe that "whatever will be, will be", that the Lord will cause His will to happen in our lives. The scriptures abundantly prove that we have a responsibility to serve the Lord. We must CHOOSE to serve Him! He never makes us do this.
II Cor. 5:14-15 tells us:
14 "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus
judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
15 "And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."
We who have been bought with a price should want to serve the one who bought us. Christ died for our sins. He paid the ultimate penalty for us, by shedding His own blood. Hebrews 9:12 says, "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
Because He obtained "eternal redemption" for us, we should want to serve Christ Jesus our Lord and please Him with all of our being.
1 Cor. 6:19-20 tells us:
19 "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy
Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
Someone recently wrote to our women's email list on the internet:
"What an awesome thought that God bought us with the life of his son!! Why would we want to do anything but to 'glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits?' If I could remember this verse all of the time, I think it would take care of my selfishness in a lot of situations. I would not be striving to please me, but to please the one who bought me!"
We can see in the passage in I Corinthians 6, that we are told to "therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." We must notice that this is a command, something we are told to do, rather than something the Lord automatically does for us.
We must also note that it includes serving Him with our bodies. Romans 12: 1-2 says something similar:
1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto
God, which is your reasonable service.
2 "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
What better way can we serve the Lord than to please Him in all areas of our lives? Not only in our spirits but also in this flesh we have, that is, our bodies.
I have listed some of the things that come to my mind, that women can and should do to serve the Lord. These are ways that we serve Him with our bodies. There are many more, of course, but these are some general ones taught in the scriptures.
1. Personal Bible Study
2. Prayer: for others, self, and praise to the Lord
3. Being better wives, mothers, and homemakers
This includes many things, but some I have listed are:
a. Love our husbands as the Lord would have us to (Titus 2:4)
b. Being obedient to our husbands (Titus 2:5, Eph 5:22-24)
c. Loving our children (Titus 2:4, I Cor. 13)
d. Be "keepers at home" (Titus 2:5)
e. To be good homemakers (I Timothy 5:13-14, Proverbs 31:10-31)
PERSONAL BIBLE STUDY
Because personal Bible study is probably the most important thing we can do in this life, I think it is beneficial to study this in more depth. We must ask ourselves, "Is this a priority in my life?" In our heads we know it should be, yet most of us put it on the back burner of our daily lives. "If I get to it!" Or, "When I am in the mood!" are our unspoken, yet true attitudes.
The Word of God is the answer to all of our problems! It changes us. The more we read it, the more we are changed! Our new man is renewed in knowledge! We know that this knowledge is the Word of God. Col. 3:10 tells the saved, "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him".
Women, do you often find yourself struggling to find meaning and purpose in your life? The Word of God will change your perspective. Do you often find yourself wrapped up in the carnal concerns of this world and can't seem to focus on the Lord and His will for you? The Word of God will change your focus. Do you often feel helpless to change yourself? The Word of God will enable you. Do you often feel like a failure? The Word of God will give you strength to do His will!
Do you not know how to pray or find yourself struggling with prayer? The Word of God will teach you how! Do you find yourself in the middle of family problems and you don't know what you should do? The Word of God will show you the way!
The answers to all of life's problems are endless in our wonderful Bible! If we really believe this, our attitude toward the Word of God will be different. We can see why IITimothy 2:15 instructs us to study the scriptures.
II Timothy 2:15 says:
15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
"RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH"
We cannot please the Lord without obeying the command in II Tim. 2:15. The verse says several different things. It says we will be ashamed at the judgment seat of Christ if we do not study the Word for ourselves. We are then told how to study the Word. We see that the verse says to "rightly divide the word of truth"!
This means that as we study, we must divide the scriptures into,
1. Those parts that are said to be specifically to us, and,
2. Those parts that are not to us, doctrinally, but, nevertheless are there for our learning.
All of the Bible is beneficial for us, as II Tim. 3:16 says, but not all of it is written to us, in this DISPENSATION OF GRACE. Many instructions are in the scriptures, but we must know which ones we are to follow. Are we to bring a blood sacrifice to the altar? Are we to stone our children when they disobey us? Are we to keep the sabbath day (7th day) holy? Paul tells us to listen to his words and obey THEM. The following verses show this truth, (emphasis in caps, mine):
13 "For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I AM THE APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES, I magnify mine office:"
16 "That I SHOULD BE THE MINISTER OF JESUS CHRIST TO THE GENTILES, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost."
1 Corinthians 4:16-17 :
16 "Wherefore I beseech you, BE YE FOLLOWERS OF ME.
17 "For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of MY WAYS which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church."
16 "Brethren, BE FOLLOWERS TOGETHER OF ME, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample."
2 Timothy 1:13:
13 "Hold fast the form of SOUND WORDS, which thou hast HEARD OF ME, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 2:7:
7 "CONSIDER WHAT I SAY; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things."
A careful student of the scriptures will see that there is a difference between the apostle Peter's message, given to him by the Lord himself and the apostle Paul's, given to HIM by the Lord himself. Galatians 2:7-8 explains this as do the following other passages.
7 "But contrariwise, when they saw that THE GOSPEL OF THE
UNCIRCUMCISION WAS COMMITTED UNTO ME, as the gospel of the
circumcision was unto Peter;
8 "(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)"
1 Corinthians 14:37:
37 "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the THINGS THAT I WRITE UNTO YOU ARE THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD."
1 "For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you
2 "If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is GIVEN ME TO YOU-WARD:
3 "How that by revelation he made known UNTO ME the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words)."
We see, then, that the apostle Paul was given a separate and distinct ministry from that given to the twelve disciples. He was given a NEW message to take to the Gentiles and thus to us in the present dispensation, or period of time. It was not the same message that the twelve preached.
Galatians 1:11-12 shows us that this new message was given to him directly by the Lord and not by the twelve apostles:
11 "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was
preached of me is not after man.
12 "For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Acts 26:16-18 explains what Paul was told upon his conversion:
16 "But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto
thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of
these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I
will appear unto thee;
17 "Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
18 "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."
Acts 20:24 tells us that Paul was told to preach a new message, that of the "gospel of the grace of God":
24 "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."
Ephesians 2:11-13 shows us this new message was to those who were once the enemies of God.
11 "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in
the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that which is called the
Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
12 "That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
13 "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ".
When we see that this new message and ministry is different and is for a new people in a new age, we then see how to "rightly divide the Word of truth". We are then equipped to "increase in the knowledge of God." The apostle Paul prayed for us that we would increase in this knowledge of God. This is found in Colossians 1.
Col. 1:9-11 says:
9 "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not
cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the
knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11 "Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness".
In the above passage we see that this knowledge from the Word of God strengthens us to do God's will, to work out His purpose in our lives. We, women today, need to study the scriptures, and then seek to apply them to all of our daily lives. Through our study of the scriptures, rightly divided, we are equipped to go on to serve the Lord not only in Spirit but also with our bodies. This was Paul's prayer for us. What better way can we serve the Lord than to obey I Corinthians 6:20: "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's"!
I pray this for all of us.