Written by  //  December 18, 2014  //  No comments

This Month’s Challenge (#1)

As a challenge is issued each month, strive hard to better yourself in that area. With this issue of The Clay Tablet I want to begin a monthly column challenging each of us to press on unto perfection — to grow spiritually and in service to the Lord. The word challenge means, “an invitation to engage in a contest.” Each month we will issue an invitation to each one here to engage in a contest. This contest is not one member against another, but is each individual member with themselves. It is a contest between how we are now and what we should strive to be. The idea is to push ourselves into greater service for the Lord.

Paul encouraged the brethren at Corinth to do this very thing. He said, “Try your own selves, whether ye are in the faith; prove your own selves. Or know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you? unless indeed ye be reprobate” —2 Cor.13:5. He wanted them to stop and put themselves to the test to make certain they were where they should be, spiritually speaking. We should do no less. We need to regularly put ourselves to the test to make certain we are where we should be.

Paul also encouraged the brethren at Philippi to press forward into greater things. He said, “Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before. I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” — Phil.3:12-14.

Paul didn’t want them to be content with their state of spiritual strength. He wanted them to press on to even greater heights for the Lord. It’s like the advertising campaign of several years ago between two dairies. One created an ad touting their milk as the brand to buy because their milk came from contented cows. The other dairy quickly created an ad stating their cows were never content, they were always trying to do better. Well, that’s the way it needs to be with God’s people: never content but always trying to do better.

I hope this monthly column will help us to do this very thing. As a challenge is issued each month, strive hard to better yourself in that area. As additional challenges are issued, meet those new challenges while continuing to exercise yourself fully in the areas of the previous months challenges. In other words, make these permanent changes in your character and service for the Lord.

The challenge I would like for each of us to undertake for the month of February is this:

Take note of every member in the congregation who is unable to worship with us because of illness, even if it is for a single service, and call on them EACH WEEK.

Some may already be proficient in this area, but others of us may need a little encouragement.

James encouraged his readers to be active in this area. He wrote, “Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” — James 1:27. Also in Matthew 25:35,36 Jesus says, “…for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”

In both of these passages the word for “visit” or “visited” means “to look upon or after, to inspect, examine with the eyes.” It means more than just casually looking at someone. It’s the idea of taking careful note of the situation a person is in so you can provide those things they have need of. That is what we need to do regularly with those who are unable to attend the worship services because of illness. We should take note of what needs they have and take action to fulfill those needs. They may need the grass mowed or the house cleaned or a meal prepared or grocery shopping done. Whatever the needs may be, let us all work hard to see that each of those needs are met.

So, are you up to the challenge?