buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Become like Jesus”

A New House

There is an older neighborhood in my city close to my gym. Sometimes I use the cut through to get to another area of town because it’s less traffic and a more scenic way to go. The neighborhood is in one of the booming areas so the older homes are being fixed up or torn down and made into something new. I love to see these transitions. The updated versions look fresh and new, but the new houses are vastly different. The updated versions are put on the market and sold quickly. But the older homes that are sold before the updates are quickly torn down. I love to see the progress of new things being built. Don’t you?

However, it’s quite a different story about progress we need to make in our own transitions to become new. Our spiritual lives are like that neighborhood. Some of us are the old houses that need some repair work. We are comfortable in our broken down condition; never seeking a carpenter to help us and eventually our bodies and our lives are in a ruinous heap. There are some who have sought out a carpenter and repairs are being made to remodel their lives. Then there are those who have not only sought out The Carpenter, but our houses have been demolished and the new houses are in the process of being built. Jesus, The Carpenter, doesn’t come to make us a better version of ourselves; He comes to make us new.

One of the things I struggle with is making goals. In the corporate world, we are told to make SMART goals – goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. When I was in the corporate world, every year I had to come up with a couple of goals. It was so hard to do in the position I was in. I did the grunt work – I was the detail person. Like I said last week, I was not the big picture person. I helped to make the big picture come together. It’s hard to have goals dictated by another’s vision. However, progress needed to be made in my own growth as an employee and a member of the team in order to achieve the big picture vision.

Andy Stanley said recently in a message “direction leads to destiny.” I have heard it said this way “we have to be going there to get there.” We need to be on the path moving in the right direction in order to become who we want to become. The only way to become someone new is to have goals to get there. We are given the vision of becoming new, but what does that look like for us as individuals? For us as believers in Jesus, we have our own personal transforming life coach living in us. The Holy Spirit dwells in us to help us to become the one Jesus saved us to become.

When I started on this transforming journey years ago, I didn’t realize the new me would be so totally different. I thought I was just a better version of who I was. However, I met up with some old friends from college and they wondered why I was so different. I no longer drank. My language was different. I was a different person before them. Unfortunately, I was afraid to tell them why I had changed. My life was different because of Jesus. When Jesus began His work in me, I didn’t know He would clean me up as He did. But He did and I am still being made new each and every day when I surrender to His work in me.

The thing about demolishing the old and making something new – it takes time. Sometimes the old comes down with a wrecking ball, sometimes it’s a tedious process of taking it down brick by brick. The new isn’t made overnight either. Our mindset is transformed every day as we open up God’s word. The thoughts we capture; the things we listen to and watch or read; even the people we even hang out with are transformed day by day when we give access to our internal and eternal life coach.

I still don’t have SMART goals yet, but I need the vision of who I want to become. In five years, I want to be completely different from who I am today. I must have my direction pointed toward my destiny. I can’t get there from here unless I am on the right path. How about you? Are you on the right path; going in the right direction? The key is letting our life coach have access to every part of our lives. Only then will we end up becoming brand new. In five years, we can all have a new house but it takes letting the Holy Spirit do His work in every area. He has to have access – give Him the keys. It’s the only way to become new.

Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new. And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (TPT)

We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it! Ephesians 2:10 (TPT)

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Family Secrets

Have you ever had a family secret you wanted to share? There is a verse in scripture that begins with “and we know.” It’s like that family secret – we know it, but others outside the family don’t know it. We know that we know somehow some way everything will come out all right because we know the family secret. All things will work together for good. But it is conditional. It’s not for everybody. The scripture (Romans 8:28) says for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose. That’s us – the family of God.

Sounds a bit like and “us and them” kind of distinction, right? There is a dividing line between us and them. Right now that’s the way it is. However, it isn’t meant to stay that way. God isn’t exclusive. He is a “whosoever” kind of God. Anyone who is breathing has an opportunity to know Him and love Him. It’s the ones who are no longer breathing that have a problem that can’t be resolved if they didn’t know Him before they died. That dividing line is forever etched and can never be erased.

I know it seems rather harsh that God would allow that dividing line for eternity. God did not design eternity apart from Him. He wanted all His creation to be perfect, but sin interrupted the plan. God had a counter move that He put in place to resolve the sin issue. God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not die apart from Him (John 3:16 my paraphrase). God’s character is centered on love. But He also has a character based on justice and righteousness. These characteristics cannot be separated. It is who He is. Scripture tells the story and gives us insight to God’s character through the story.

Jesus told everyone that He is the representative of God – if you have seen me, then you have seen the Father (John 14:9-10) – I and the Father are one (John 10:30). The Jews wanted to stone Jesus because of His words, not His actions. They saw the miracles, but they didn’t believe His words even though He backed His words with miracles.

You want to know another family secret? We are to become like Jesus. We are Jesus’ representatives while He is away. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us – the family – so that we could become more like Him. The secret is this – we are more like Jesus when we love others – the ones like us and the ones outside the family. This love changes us and changes the world. The more love we express, the more love we feel from God. God’s love for us never changes. However, we can feel more loved when we love others. It’s the way we grow more like Jesus and fulfill our purpose – to love God and to love others – the two greatest commandments.

You see, it’s what we are designed to do. There is a hole in our soul that only God can fill. When that hole is filled with His love, we express it to others. Love overflows from that place that God fills. It’s like love bursts forth from us. We can’t stop loving others when that hole is properly filled. It has to be constantly filled though. Our salvation is a one shot deal – once saved always saved (if truly saved by confessing sin and believing in God’s one and only Son who saved us from that sin) – but the hole in our soul has to be looked after. If the hole is ever filled with something that is inferior to God’s love, it shows in our actions (or lack thereof).

A couple of years ago, I heard a message from Andy Stanley that speaks to this thing called love. His message was about this statement “what does love require of me?” What’s the loving thing to do? When we are faced with a situation where we don’t know what to do, Andy said this would be a defining question to bring resolution. We should always opt for the loving thing to do.

Living this out is a lifetime project. We will never get it right all the time. But if we do it consistently, we will continue to grow in our love for God and for others. And we know that God will work it out for our good and His glory. It’s part of the plan. I have shared family secrets so that we will all share this gift we’ve been given – not because of who we are, but whose we are. We know that we know. Let’s let them in on the secret.

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2:3-6

Imitating the Teacher

This week’s theme is compassion. It started with the message on Sunday from the book Believe by Randy Frazee. We visited the story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10. I’m sure you recall how the “religious” men passed by the one left for dead, but one man Samaritan man stopped. We could look down on those men who did not stop. We could get self-righteous about how we wouldn’t do such a thing. We might believe we are more like the Samaritan than the religious men. The Samaritan actually did more than required. He took the man an inn; paid for room and board and any essentials the injured man would need in order to heal. He even told the inn keeper he would reimburse him for any extra that the injured man needed when the Samaritan passed that way again.

We could place ourselves in the story as the one who stops, but that’s really not the case. Our place in the story is the one who was beaten and left for dead. We are the ones broken in need of a healer. Jesus is the Samaritan man who stops what He is doing and goes to the one who needs help. Jesus is shown throughout the Gospels as the one who had compassion on the men and women He encountered; He always stopped to help those in need. Many times the Gospel writers would tell of Jesus’ compassion for the one who has stopped Him. The Good Samaritan had mercy on the broken man just as Jesus has mercy on us as broken people.

But right after the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10, we find another story about two sisters; Mary and Martha who invited Jesus into their home. Mary was at the feet of Jesus listening to His every word, which when you think about it, this was not done in those times. Women were not taught like the men. The men gathered around teachers but the women were always in the background. They were like Martha who did the work that needed to be done in order for the teacher and the men to have everything they needed. Martha was playing her part but Mary wasn’t. Mary was in the midst of the men; she was out-of-place. This just wasn’t done in those days, but Jesus changed how men and women related to Him and to others. Jesus turned everything upside down.

Martha pointed out Mary’s place to Jesus, but Jesus pointed out Martha’s place. Martha didn’t know Jesus was turning things upside down. Martha didn’t realize that Jesus was elevating women to a new place in society. However, this isn’t the story of elevating women. This is the story of how we all need to sit at the feet of Jesus. We all need to learn from Him if we are to have compassion for our neighbors. This world is desperate for compassion. Societies will not change unless we show compassion as Jesus did.

I was reminded in my quiet time on Tuesday, in Paul’s letter to the Philippians pointed to Christ serving in humility. Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant (2:6). Paul wrote to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves (2:3). When we consider compassion, we look at others – not with judgment – but with humility. That could be us in that situation.

The Good Samaritan saw the man on the side of the road recognizing that it could easily have been him in that same situation. Every person walking that particular road could be beaten, robbed and left for dead. The Good Samaritan showed the man mercy by not only taking pity on him, but provided for him in his hour of need. He did for the man what he wanted to be done for him if he too found himself in that situation. Sounds like the “Golden Rule” to me. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is how I learned Matthew 7:12.

Compassion and love are the foundation of how we are to be good neighbors to those we meet on our paths. The religious men who passed by may have sat under great teaching but there were not good doers of the Word they learned. Learning has to be put to good use. There is a time for sitting and a time for doing. We all have a little Mary and Martha in us, but we first need to get the right priorities. Sit first then do. It’s the only way we will feel compassion and love for the people we will encounter today. But also, the beauty of this message is that we are invited into His story. We get to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We can become the Good Samaritan to someone today.

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 (NLT)

Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher. Luke 6:40 (NLT)

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