Imitating Christ – I Am

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People have always been set in their way of thinking and will often find it difficult to accept new ideas. The more radical the new is the more difficult it is to accept. Take transportation for and example: which is better the horse or the car, the train or a airplane? There are some that still do not accept new forms of transportation. The same principle can be applied to our spiritual lives. If we have been raised in a denomination it is difficult to leave and accept another denominations teaching. When the Word of God became a man it would have been very difficult to be a follower of Jesus.

The Jews had been taught from the beginning that God is a spirit. Jesus said in Mark 4 that God is a spirit and must be worshiped in spirit, and Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us that God is one. For some one to say they are god then they were to be stoned to death. Likewise to be accepted as a prophet from God they can not be wrong on any point, if they are wrong on any one point they are considered a false prophet and put to death. Jesus would have to find a way that the people would accept him as the Son of God or at the very least a prophet of God. How then can Jesus convince the people that he is the Word of God. He does this by three methods, miracles, signs, and teaching the word of God. For the next few weeks we will be looking at the “I Am” statements of Jesus.

I Am” is the name God used for himself in Exodus 3:4. This name means that God will always be with the people of God. The Hebrew language does not have a future tense so this could be taken that God would be in the present at all times. With His presence He would provide the food they need, illuminate their path, protect them, lead them, give them life everlasting, teach them how to live, and live in them. The Jews believed that God would be with them in both the good times as well as the bad times, and that he would be active as well.

The gospel of John records the “I Am” sayings of Jesus. The Greek word John uses does not have a future tense meaning. Jesus tells his followers that he is with them and then tells them how he is active in their lives. The way that Jesus teaches that he is with his followers is a breakdown of the name I AM. He will teach them that he is their bread, light, good shepherd, resurrection, life, way, truth, life, true vine and the gate keeper.

Just as Jesus taught his followers who he was he also teaches us the same lessons through the Holy Spirit. The great news is that as we imitate Christ, he teaches others these same lessons through us. As we look back on our lives, it is exciting to see how Jesus has revealed these truths to us, and to others through us.

God bless you as you imitate Christ.

Imitating Christ – Who do you say I am?

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Jesus asked the question “who do you say that I am”. (Mark 8: 28) Peter responded by saying he was the Christ; for the Christian that has become our standard answer. A better question for today’s Christian might be “how do you believe Jesus is the Christ?”

At that time Jesus had a large following of people from all walks of life. There were Jewish leaders, labors, house wives, business owners, military, the sick, the poor and the wealthy, all groups of people could be found following him. Each on could be placed into one of four types of people. The military who had no real opinion of him, the Jewish leaders who rejected his teachings, those who wanted something from him and the disciples who wanted to know God’s word. Today let us look at this last group as to why did they want to learn more of God.

In John 6 Jesus starts teaching about his mission here on earth and many stopped following him. This may have been the reason Jesus asked who they thought he was. At Peter’s response Jesus tells them that the Spirit revealed this to them. Also in John 6, Jesus tells them that the father draws them to himself and in John 12 Jesus tells them that he will draw all people to himself. If Jesus draws all people to himself then why will only a few follow him?

Jesus tells the story of the sower and the seeds. Some fell on ground where the seeds could not grow, some seeds were eaten by the birds. Some could not take root and some started to grow but soon were choked out. Yet other seeds fell on fertile ground. We are the ground and the word of God is the seed. Some of us, for some reason, can not accept the word of God. Others accept the word of God but as time passed they start to watch others and get their eyes off of God and fall away. Still others will accept the word of God and grow in God’s grace through the word. Let us take a lesson from John when Jesus walked on the water. When John took his eyes off of Jesus he began to sink but when he refocused on Jesus he was saved.

For those of us who follow Christ, we can not offer any real proof for our faith, we can only tell others what God has done for us. Our faith is based on what God has revealed to us and what he has done for us even when things did not go our way. We have seen God take us through difficult times and he will always be with us even in death. We keep our eyes on Jesus and not the thing that are going on around us. A great quote is from Thomas Aquinas: “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

Have you answered Jesus’ question for yourself? What you believe about Jesus will determine how well you are able to imitate him. As we grow in our faith the Spirit of Christ becomes stronger in us. There will come a time that we can say that it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. It is when we see Christ living in us that we are imitators of Christ.

Imitating Christ – Not Knowing everything. Part 2

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1 Corinthians 13: 9 – 10

Last time we looked at the divinity of Jesus and we saw that he was the voice of God. When he became man was there a difference in who he was?

It has been said that Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph because of who they were. They were no one spacial. Mary, a young woman not much more than a teen. Joseph was a common man and may have been much older than Mary. This would give Jesus the ability to identify with the common people. In a privileged family he would not have been able to go through the struggles of trying to make a living.

As a baby Jesus would need to be cared for. He would need his diapers changed, be fed, taught to talk, walk, play, and due home work. At the age of twelve, the age of accountability, he was taken to the temple to celebrate a feast. Those who were there found his questions and answers amazing. When he did go bask to Nazareth with his parent he continued to grow. Luke 2 continues to tell us that he grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man, and was obedient to his parents.

At the age of thirty, the age when young men would enter the priesthood, we find Jesus going into the wilderness to fast and pray. At the end of these forty days Satan came to tempt Jesus. These tree temptations were the same types that all of us will face in our lives and yet he overcame each one of them by using scripture. The first was the lust of the eyes. After forty days without food Jesus would have been hungry and all he wanted was to have something to eat but he resisted the temptation to turn the stones into food. In this temptation Jesus resisted the desire to have what ever he wanted. The second was the pride of life. This was the ability to live any way he wanted to expecting God to keep him healthy and from harm. The third temptation was that of power. Satan was willing to give Jesus all the power he wanted if he would worship him instead of God. We can resist any temptation because Jesus has overcome them. We will have the temptation to have whatever we want, live unhealthy lifestyles expecting to have good health or have a desire for power at any cost. It is worth noting that because Jesus worshiped the father, he never went hungry for long, had good health, and is given all power. (Matthew 4:1-11)

Because Jesus was able to live a sinless life, he was able to become the sacrificial lamb for our sins. A sacrificial lamb would have been one without a blemish or a spot on it, Therefore Jesus would not have had a broke bone nor a scar on him. Being perfect he was able to take the punishment for our sins to the cross that we might have the forgiveness for sins and to have life everlasting. (Exodus 12:3,6; Roman 3: 25)

Because of our human limitation we can not fully know who Jesus is nor have the fulness of God in us. So each of us are given different gifts that as we worship together people will get a better idea of who God is. As we grow in our faith and knowledge of Christ he reveals more of himself to us and we become more like him. For now we know him in part but at his return we will know him fully.

God bless you as you imitate Christ.

Due to the length of this post many points have been shortened. If you have used this post in any way please let me know how it was used and what the results were.

Imitating Christ – Not Knowing everything.

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1 Corinthians 13: 9 – 10

Did Jesus know everything? He knew of things in heaven and on earth, the word of God and there meaning, what people were thinking, what was in man’s heart, and how the disciples would die. Can you think of anything he did not know?

To answer this question we will need to see who really is this person we call Jesus. Is he fully God or is he fully man? We will look at Jesus being fully man next week. But is Jesus fully God as we find in the scripture? In Genesis it tells us that God hovered over the face of the earth and then he spoke everything into existence (concerning the world we know). Here we find the reality of how Godly Jesus was. The creativity of what God did come from his mind, and we can now call this mind of God “the father”. When he hovered over the earth we find that he had no body but rather it was the spirit of God that moved over the earth. What ever the father spoke happened. It was the voice of God that created all things. In John 1: 1 it tells us that it was the voice of God that became man. These three are one and can not be separated at any time. The mind of God is moved wherever he goes by his spirit and when he speaks it is by his voice.

How does God make the transition to become fully human as well as fully God? In Deuteronomy 18 he tells us that he will raise up a prophet from the Jews and he will command him what to say. Jesus himself tells us that it is the father who tells him what to say. (Jn 12: 49) Back to our question, does Jesus know everything? When asked when heaven and earth will pass away Jesus tells us that he does not know the answer because the father has not revealed it to him.

If Jesus does not know everything and we are his followers and he lives in us then 1 Corinthians 13: 9 would make perfect sense. We know in part and we prophesy in part. John 3 tells us that there are some things we might not be able to understand so what we do know that we speak of. Looking at the ministry of Jesus we can see that Jesus did not start out teaching about the kingdom of heaven and his death but he started with what his followers could understand. As his time on earth was coming to a close he spent much more time with them explaining what was to come. It was not until the day of Pentecost that they fully knew what Jesus had been telling them and then it was the father speaking through the spirit that taught them.

For know we will be content with knowing in part and sharing that knowledge with others. We will also be looking forward to that time when Christ returns in all his glory and then we will know fully. Since we know in part let us continue to learn from God asking him for the knowledge that we need to know.

God Bless you as you imitate Christ.

Imitating Christ – Love never fails

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1 Corinthians 13: 8

Why would Paul tell us that prophecies will fail, tongues (languages) will cease and knowledge will vanish? To answer this question let us go back to the Old Testament and hear the words that God spoke to two of the prophets.

God told Zechariah that in the past he had tried to send prophets but the people refused to listen to them. The prophets pleaded with the people to listen to God’s words but they still refused. Because they refused to listen, God sent the people into foreign lands. Now when the people cried out to God he refused to listen to them for a time. Then God spoke to Zechariah with another message that he said they would not listen too.

Again God speaks to Jeremiah and tells him that the people will not listen to God. When Jeremiah tells the people this they will not listen, they will not come to hear him and the truth of God’s word will vanish from them. From the Old Testament we can see that prophecies were disregarded, people stopped listening to God and the knowledge of God was removed from them.

In Matthew 13 the disciples ask Jesus why he often spoke in parables. Jesus replies by quoting Isaiah; they have hardened their hearts, refused to hear God’s word and refused to see what God is doing (paraphrased). And yet Jesus tells the disciples that the secrets of heaven are for them, and all those that believe in him. Jesus tells the disciples that they will be persecuted and hated because the people hated him. But Jesus encourages them by saying that he will be with them to the end and they are to be his witnesses throughout the world. If they are faithful to the end of their lives they shall see him again in heaven.

By being filled with the Spirit of Christ and imitating Jesus the disciples were able to pass the word of God down to us. We in turn are to pass God’s word on to others. Yes it is true that people will not listen to prophesies, nor listen to us speak, and therefore the knowledge of God will be removed from them. So why do we continue to spread God’s word if no one will listen? Take a look at the first few words of verse 8: (God’s) love never stops loving! Both the Old and New Testaments are the recordings of God’s love toward us that we might be saved. John 3: 17 is often over looked by many but it tells us that God’s love is so strong toward us that Jesus was sent that none of us should perish but all might have eternal life. God’s love compels us to share his love with others even if they will not listen to our words.

God bless you as you imitate Christ.

 

Imitating Christ – Love Endures All Things.

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1 Corinthians 13: 7d

In Mark 5 we have the story of a man being delivered form a large number of demons. When Jesus was asked to leave the country side this man asked to go with him. Jesus told him to return to is home town and tell them what had happened to him. The man return to his own people and spread the word of what God had done for him. As he was left behind, the love for Jesus enabled him to endure all he had to go through.

As we look at how love endures all things let us look first at what Strongs lexicon tells us about  “enduring”. The english understanding of this Greek word is: “is-under-remaining”.This is being defined as to stay behind, and persevere through misfortunes, trials and holding fast to our faith in Christ. It also means to bear bravely and calmly ill treatment.

From this understanding of love enduring all things we can see that Jesus was to some degree left behind on earth to endure all thing. In the ability to endure all things he is truly able to be an example for us to follow. From an early age Jesus knew what his life’s mission was to be and as he grew he was trained for that purpose. At the proper time he started his ministry. At first there was little resistance to him or his followers. As he grew in popularity and influence we find that some were rejecting him and calling for his death. The temptation that he would have faced may not have been exactly like ours but they were more intense. Just like us, he was tempted to have what ever he wanted when he wanted it, tempted to do what ever he wanted to do regardless of the out come, and he was tempted to have total power. In all of these temptations he did not sin.

There is one big difference between Jesus and everyone else. Jesus was born fully man and fully God. This gave him the ability to sin because of the sin nature of man and to resist sin because of the nature of God in him. Since we are not born with the nature of God, how then can we be like Christ? We are born with the sin nature in us, therefore we will sin. Romans 3 tells us that everyone has sinned. The solution comes from Revelation 20, it is when we open our hearts and allow Jesus to inter into our life. Our next step is to learn how to trust Jesus to lead our lives. We must be able to turn more of our life over to him and we must allow him to guide us in every situation. John the baptist said it this way; I must decrease and Jesus must increase. If we allow Christ to control our lives then we will be able to endure all things to the end.

May God bless you as you learn to imitate Christ.

Imitating Christ – Love Always Hopes

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1 Corinthians 13: 7c

We often think of hope as something that we would like to have happen, this hope may or may not come to be. The hope in this scripture is a hope that we believe something will happen and that we are looking with anticipation for it to be accomplished. With this in mind let us look first at the hope Jesus had and then how he gives that same hope to us.

In Acts 2 we have a quote from the Old Testament concerning the hope that Jesus had. His hope included that the father was with him, that his faith would not be shaken, he would rise from the dead, God was directing his life, and that he would be filled with joy that God was with him. We can also add to this hope that God’s word was true. Jesus was not hoping for this to be true but his hope was that he knew it to be so and was looking forward to the end when it would come to pass. He was able to put the cares of this world in the hands of God and waited with anticipation for the fulfillment of God’s word.

Jesus taught his followers that God’s word was true and could be trusted. God’s word would give us forgiveness, salvation, entrance to heaven, what to do, say, where to go. God would also perfect our faith, provide for our needs, and protect our souls from Satan. Jesus also taught his followers not to trust in the government for they come and go according to God’s will. He also taught them that they would have difficult times but God would be with them in those times. Finally Jesus taught his followers that he would come and live in them; so we can say it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.

As we imitate Christ, he gives this same hope he had to us as well. We to will live in the hope with expectation that we will see Christ face to face when we reach our home in heaven.

Are you living in this hope? If you are not, pray that God will increase in you heart that you might become less. It will give you the expectancy of reaching our heavenly home. John said in 1 John 5: 13 that he wrote that we would know we have eternal life.

God bless you as you continue to imitate Christ.

Imitating Christ – Love Always Trusts

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1 Corinthians 13: 7b

Love always trust, and Jesus loved at all times so does that mean he always trusted? It really depends on how you look at his life and what he would have put his trust in.

Jesus did not put his trust in the government. In Daniel 21 we are told that it is God who will put a king in power and also remove him from power. We will see throughout history that there were good rules as well as bad rulers and yet we are told to be subject to them by obeying the laws.

Jesus did not put his trust in people. Some people rejected him because he did not fit into their mold, some we indifferent to him, they would not go out of their way to be around him. Some just wanted what he could give them, if they did not receive their desires they left him. Others listened to his every word but left him because he asked to much of them.

These were the people that Jesus wanted to give his spirit to so that they would be able to trust in God always, but they refused that love.

Jesus always trusted in the father. Jesus would acknowledge the father wherever he went. He trusted him to keep him safe so no harm would come to him. He trusted in the word of God, and that God would hear when he called upon him. In short what ever need Jesus had he trusted God to fulfill it. Jesus gave this same love to his followers on the day of Pentecost and to all how believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

As we imitate Christ we will receive this same love for the father. We will always trust that God will fill us with his spirit. We trust that his word is true and will never fail. We will trust that he wants to prosper us spiritually for our good and not to harm us. We trust that he will always be there for us even in the worst of time, and that he will guild us all the days of our lives.

Even on our worst days we trust that God will not leave us even when we do not feel his presence.

Sometimes we wonder if we can really put our trust in him, we may have a situation in our lives that there seems to be no answer to how can God solve it? This is where our trust is truly tested, because he sees our past , present, and future and know what is best. As we go through our difficult days we will learn how God has helped us so we can help others going through those same situations.

By imitating Christ we will want to tell others how God has won our trust. What has God done for you? What has happened years ago is important but is he still doing something in your life today? Lets share it with other.

God bless you as you imitate Christ.

Imitating Christ – Love Always Protects

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1 Corinthians 13: 7a Love always protects

What do you think this verse means? The meaning that I had applied to it made it a very difficult post. The meaning I applied was that of a military term which meant that I was to keep them from any type of physical harm. The correct meaning is that we protect others by covering them as a tent, by keeping silent, keeping secret and by hiding the errors and fault of others.

Jesus always protected his disciples. Mathew was a liar and a thief, yet Jesus never said anything about him to others. On the night that Jesus was betrayed Jesus never said that it was Judas by name nor in his prayer in John 17. We find that he was the same with the faults of the others as well. When the woman was caught in adultery Jesus would have written the sins that had been committed but not the names of those who committed them. To the woman he tells her not to sin again.

Does this mean that Jesus will not hold us accountable if we break a commandment? God gave us his commandments of how to worship him, live our lives, and the penalty if we break those commandments. Jesus said that he did not come to do away with those commandments but to fulfill them. A few thoughts need to be considered here. We are to be held accountable for our action and are to confess our sins. Not all sins should be made public, there is a right time and place for this confession. Note the sinner is the one that does the confessing not others. The writer of 1 John tells us that he wrote so that we would not sin, and Psalms 119 says that we hide God’s words in our hearts that we would not sin.

It seems that in our world today that we want to hold every one accountable for their action and never let them forget what they have done. We also want to let everyone else know what they have done as well. By allowing the spirit of Jesus to dwell in us we will learn to protect others by not revealing the wrongs they have done.

May God bless you as you imitate Christ.

Imitating Christ – Love rejoices with the truth

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1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 13

6.Love… rejoices with the truth.

What is truth? In our world today it is very hard to tell what the truth is. In the news media we will often find that they will report the truth of an event, but when we find out the rest of the story we find that it was much different than it was reported. Many news company will give a different perspective on a story which will give us a different truth. So how can we know the truth? Or do we really want to know the truth?

There are a lot of people who are like Pilot when he asked “what is truth”. He asked the question but did not stay for the answer. Can we remember a time when someone asked you a question and then left with out an answer?

Let us look at what Jesus understood about the truth. In John 17: 17 Jesus asks the father to sanctify the disciples through the truth, and that the fathers word was truth. In John 16 Jesus calls the spirit of God truth and he will teach or guide us into all truth. Also in John Jesus tells us that he is the way, truth, and life, and to get to the father we must go through him. Let us remember that when Jesus was telling his followers about the truth he was referring to how God had spoken to those of the old testament and to to those writings.

The first verse of John goes back to Genesis to tell us that the voice of God, that created all things, is the same voice (word) that became flesh and lives among us in the person of Jesus. Jesus tells us that if we are to worship God then we must worship him in spirit and truth. We are able to do this because Jesus has sanctified us with his spirit and we can say with Paul that it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me.

A little about sanctification. Justification comes to us when we have asked for and God has forgiven us for our sins (initial sanctification). Entire sanctification is when we no longer have a desire to sin because God has removed that desire through the Holy Spirit. In sanctification we are set aside for holy service unto God.

How can we be sure that we are imitating Christ the way we should be? 2 Timothy tells us that we are to study the word of God. He was referring to the Old Testament which will give us the commandments of God. It also tells the history of his people and gives instructions on how to live a Godly life. The New Testament gives us the life of Jesus, the history of the early church. and how to deal with sin. We are also to be filled with his spirit. As we study God’s word we will find ourselves growing to be more Christ like. Studying the word of God not only means memorizing the scripture but it also means that we are to put those scriptures into practice. How we do this will depend on the will of God for our lives. There are times when we get the wrong direction thinking they are from God and when this happens God will guide us back to his will.

God bless you as you imitate Christ.