Imitating Christ – Living By God’s Word

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Matthew 4, 1-11:

If Satan had not tempted Jesus, could he, or would he have turned those stones into bread? First could he have turned the stones into bread? The answer to this may be yes. He was fully God and we are told that he had made all things. Furthermore when he was at the wedding feast, his mother asked him to make more wine for the feast. To do this he turned water into wine, showing that he still had power over creation. Next, would he have turned the stones into bread? This would seem unlikely. When he was at the well with the Samaritan woman, he told the disciples that he had food they did not know about. When on the cross he said that he was thirsty but allowed others to give him something to drink. He did how ever provide food for others. He fed the people that followed him, and provided a large catch for the disciples who went fishing. Finally he said that he had come to serve, he would put the needs of others before his own needs. This would also give others the opportunity to show their love for him by providing for his needs. He would not turn the stones into bread but would allow the father to provide food for him. Satan would have known this, and when Jesus was physically and mentally weak, tried to convince him to provide for his own needs.

This brings us back to the temptation of Satan, to turn the stones into bread. Jesus quotes Duet 8 in which it says that the children of Israel were to live by every word of God and not bread alone. The children of Israel were reminded that when they were in the wilderness, it was God’s word that provided all they needed to live. When they needed food, God spoke and they had food, when water was needed God provided water, and protection was also provided by God. When they did not follow God’s worMatthew 4, 1-11:
If Satan had not tempted Jesus, could he, or would he have turned those stones into bread? First could he have turned the stones into bread? The answer to this may be yes. He was fully God and we are told that he had made all things. Furthermore when he was at the wedding feast, his mother asked him to make more wine for the feast. To do this he turned water into wine, showing that he still had power over creation. Next, would he have turned the stones into bread? This would seem unlikely. When he was at the well with the Samaritan woman, he told the disciples that he had food they did not know about. When on the cross he said that he was thirsty but allowed others to give him something to drink. He did how ever provide food for others. He fed the people that followed him, and provided a large catch for the disciples who went fishing. Finally he said that he had come to serve, he would put the needs of others before his own needs. This would also give others the opportunity to show their love for him by providing for his needs. He would not turn the stones into bread but would allow the father to provide food for him. Satan would have known this, and when Jesus was physically and mentally weak, tried to convince him to provide for his own needs.

This brings us back to the temptation of Satan, to turn the stones into bread. Jesus quotes Duet 8 in which it says that the children of Israel were to live by every word of God and not bread alone. The children of Israel were reminded that when they were in the wilderness, it was God’s word that provided all they needed to live. When they needed food, God spoke and they had food, when water was needed God provided water, and protection was also provided by God. When they did not follow God’s word there was punishment. When people repented then God forgave them. Jesus not only lived by every word of God but he also showed us how we can do the same. Jesus was obedient even to the death on the cross, because that was God’s will for him. Along with obedience, he taught what the meaning of scripture was. Much of which was how to love God and others. The old testament laws were important to Jesus as well as the church of today. God has written them on our hearts.

What does this have to do with us? Jesus taught us that the old testament laws were given to us as a school master. They taught us what God considered sin and how we are to live our lives. Jesus came to change those laws form outward righteousness to spiritual righteousness. This means that we keep the laws out of love

d there was punishment. When people repented then God forgave them. Jesus not only lived by every word of God but he also showed us how we can do the same. Jesus was obedient even to the death on the cross, because that was God’s will for him. Along with obedience, he taught what the meaning of scripture was. Much of which was how to love God and others. The old testament laws were important to Jesus as well as the church of today. God has written them on our hearts.

What does this have to do with us? Jesus taught us that the old testament laws were given to us as a school master. They taught us what God considered sin and how we are to live our lives. Jesus came to change those laws form outward righteousness to spiritual righteousness. This means that we keep the laws out of love rather than an obligation. Most of the New Testament from Romans to Jude was correcting the misunderstanding or misapplication of the old testament laws.

God bless you as you imitate Christ.

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Imitating Christ – Soul winning

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Matthew 4:19

 

Have you been as discouraged as I, after attending an evangelism class?  These classes have promised to be helpful.  They give Scripture as well as methods and how to use them.  Then a few days later you put what you have learned into practice but nothing happens.  Why can’t we lead someone to Christ?  We may have to take another look at the words of Jesus.

Jesus told the disciplines to follow him and he would make them fishers of men.  Three aspects are in this statement. First Jesus tells us that we are to follow him, then he will make us a soul winner. Finally we will be soul winners.  There are times when it would help for scripture to expand on what is said.  What is Jesus telling us and how are we to put this into action?

At the time of Jesus, it was customary for a Rabbi to gather a group of students around him.  The students would be taught by this rabbi in all aspects of the Jewish faith. At the conclusion they would hold the office of a priest, and the rabbi would gather another class.  Jesus called the twelve to be his students knowing that this will be his only group of students.  These students came from many different walks of life.  He called them from the working class (fishermen),  known sinners (tax collector), and professionals, (doctor).  The twelve that he chose would have been a representation of each class of people.  After these students were filled with his spirit, they became the person of Jesus collectively.  Individually they would only be a part of him but together they were his body. Each one portraed Jesus by his own personnality.

From the calling of the twelve Jesus starts to teach them to be fishers of men.  He first builds a relationship with them by allowing them to go where he goes.  As Jesus builds his ministry he teaches his students as well as others the basics of God’s word.  As time goes on we start to see Jesus taking the students aside for more in depth instructions.  Close to the end of his earthly ministry Jesus gives his students the power to preach, heal, and over Satan and instructs them to go preach God’s word in the area.  Now he withdraws from the public for the last and most intense teachings. Among his last lessons is the instruction to wait until they receive power from on high.  This power is the spirit of God.

The students did not go out and lead anyone to Christ, rather they feared for their lives and hid.  As much as they could they stayed behind a locked door.  It was a while before the Spirit of God filled them.  The night the Spirit of God made a noise that drew the people from town to them.  Then they did not speak for themselves but as God gave them words and many came to salvation. 

2000 years later Jesus still has this command for us;  follow me and I will make you fishers of men.  Our directions are clear but not always how to put the instruction into practice.  A few years after Jesus gave this instruction, the apostle said (1 Corinthians 3:5-7) that some planted the seed, some watered the seed, and God gave the increase.  What is God calling you to do?  Does he want you to plant the seed, or water the seed?  Maybe you might plant the seed for one person and water it for another.  Maybe you will just be able to do it for your own family.  What ever your roll is God will give the increase and we will be fishers of men.

God Bless you as you imitate Jesus.

Imitating Christ – Baptism

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Matthew 3,

Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.

There are many things in scripture that I do not understand, The baptism of Jesus is one of those things. Baptism is not mentioned in the Old testament, so it would seem that it started with John the Baptist. If it was started by John why did Jesus say that it was a requirement for “righteousness”? What does the Old Testament have to do with Baptism? To answer these questions I would like to look at the concept of baptism in the Old testament, and how Jesus relates it to his life.

John’s baptism was for the forgiveness of sin (Matt 3: 11). He makes it clear that when we have sinned against God we need to repent of our sins. After we have repented, we are to be baptized so that God will forgive us. Two concepts are at work here, first that we are baptized to separate us from our sins, and second is that God makes us righteous in his sight. This can be seen in the Old testament.

The flood became a type of baptism in that the world was purged of sin. ( Genesis 6 – 9, 1 Peter 3:20-21) Noah found favor with God and was chosen to be the salvation of all living things. He was called upon to build the ark which would save people and animals from the flood. The flood was to remove the sin from man. Another type of baptism is found when the Israelite crossed over the Jordan on dry ground. (Exodus 14, 1 Corinthians 10:1-2) The Israelite left the land of bondage and passed into a land of freedom (salvation). Sin is referred to as bondage, and if Christ makes you free from bondage you are free indeed.

There are instruction for ceremonial cleansing as well. (Exodus 30:18-21, Hebrews 9:8-10) Before any utensils could be used for worship they had to be washed. This washing was to remove it from sin and make it righteous before God. Likewise the priest were to wash before they could inter the temple. Again this is a form of baptism from God’s point of view.

In the old testament any illness or bad thing that happened to a individual was thought to be because of sin in their lives. (Job, Leviticus 14:5-8) Once they were made whole again they would wash and present themselves to the priest. Again this was to remove sin from their lives.

Jesus identified himself with sinful man and therefore would need to be separated from sin. In his case, this was the ceremonial cleansing that was preformed for setting one’s self apart for God’s service. By accepting John’s baptism Jesus accepts the two aspects of baptism. The first aspect is to repent of our sins, which was often done in the Old testament. Secondly, baptism separates us from sin in order to inter God’s service.

I pray that you to have been baptized for the forgiveness of sin and set aside for God’s service as you imitate Christ.

Imitating Christ – The Father’s business

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Luke 2: 40 – 52

We sometimes wonder if a child can know if they are saved or if they can know the will of God. We have seen children who have been great preachers at an early age, or believe they have been called by God to be in a particular ministry. Today we will look at a child of about twelve years of age and see his calling.

At least three time a year the adults were required to attend the feasts in Jerusalem. The parents of Jesus had been doing this for a number of years, and had normally left Jesus behind when they attended the feast. This year Jesus had turned twelve and was now old enough to attend with his parent. After the feast a group of them left to return home not knowing that Jesus had stayed behind. That night, not finding Jesus, Mary and Joseph returned to Jerusalem to find him. Finding him after five days (two days travel, and three days searching), Jesus says to them, did you not know that I would be about my fathers business?

We have very little information except tradition on the life of Jesus up to this time. We would know that he was taught the same lessons that other children would have been taught. Mary and Joseph must have told him how he was conceived, so he would have known God as his father both physically and spiritually. From our scripture we find that he exceed in his studies. Because he excelled in his studies the priests were amazed at his know;edge of scripture.

A closer look at how he came to know his calling and the roll that his parents played may help us understand Jesus better. Prov. 22: 6 tell us to train a child in the direction he will go and when he is older he will not depart from that path. Mary and Joseph first knew that the will of God for Jesus to be the savior of the world. They may very well have taught him to have a personal relationship with the heavenly father. Second they would give him the best religious training that they could. Finally they allowed him to be a child. This gave Jesus his religious of God the father, knowledge of scripture and how or relate to others.

Although we will not have the same mandate from God about our child we are to train our children in the direction they are to follow. We are to first of all teach them to have a personal relationship with God. Second we are to discover, with the child, what God has gifted them to do and give them training for that gift. Third we are to teach them how to relate to others. There will be some children who will know what God has called them to do at an early age. For these children we should not discourage them but help them to realize God’s call. Others will not know God’s call for many years. As the child grows we as parents can introduce them to many different studies until they find their calling.

Today’s lesson was not as much about imitating Christ as it was about imitating his parents. God bless you as you imitate Mary and Joseph to raise a godly child.

Imitating Christ – hope, expectation

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Isaiah 35

My father-in-law passed away a short time ago. His mother, and father had both accepted Christ and had also passed. His wife of many years had also passed away and he was looking froward to seeing them as his immortality was getting closer. If you were able to have spent much time with him, you would have known it was not his loved ones he wanted to see but that he was finally going home. He knew that as a follower of Christ, he had a home in heaven and that he was an ambassador for God in this life.

Isaiah 35 gives us a glimpse of what my father-in-law was looking forward to. There is coming a time when God will pour out His Spirit upon this world and usher in the kingdom of heaven. The waste land will have flowers growing, there will be rivers of (living) waters, no wild beasts to harm us, no evil deeds will occur. There will be a highway called holiness and only the redeemed shall be able to walk on it. Verse 10 says that only those who have been ransomed by Christ will return home and have joy for ever. Our sorrows will pass away never to return when that day come.

Verse four tells us that we are to be strong and not to fear, for God will come and save us. Our part is to encourage others who are weak, and feeble to be strong as well. When God does come he will give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, the ability to walk, and a voice to those who can not talk.

Our hope is, that as one who has been redeemed by Christ, we will walk that highway of holiness to our home with God. Our expectation is that we will be with him for evermore. Let us bring others on the highway of holiness as we travel home.

Hope to be able to post soon.

It has been a long time since I have been able to post anything but with God’s help I’ll be able to do it again soon.

Thank you for reading my post while I have been absent.  Your reading and comments have been an inspiration to me.  I have enjoyed reading some of your posts as well.

I write my post late at night because normally I work nights and sleep days.  This past few months my wife tells me that this keeps her awake, so I postpone my writing.  I did buy a laptop but was not able to use it because I refused to pay for Microsoft’s word.  This past week I found a version of open office for windows10.  Maybe this will be used more often now.

In March we found out that my wife has colon cancer.  She will have sergery this morning and another round of chemo soon. She also has many other health problems. Thank you for praying for her.

Thank you for being patient with, and hopefully there will be other post coming soon.

Imitating Christ – I Am Conclusion

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Normally when I have heard ministers preach on the “I Am” sayings of Jesus they deal with them individually. If we can look at them as a group can we see why Jesus used them, and why they were in the order of usage.

As to why Jesus used these sayings we will need to understand the people Jesus was talking to. Most of them were not trained in the scripture and their knowledge was limited to the teaching of the priests. This teaching may have been that God was the creator and sustainer of all living things but his interaction in the lives of the people was limited. Another teaching may have been that God would save his people from those who were oppressing them some day. This savior would more likely be a military savior. With these teachings the people could not accept Jesus as being God with them. They knew Jesus was a man, that he interacted with them and was not a military person. The question now becomes how does he get them to accept him as God with them?

Jesus starts with a progressive plan to show that he is God and that he lives with them. The first two sayings deal with the creation of the world. Second Jesus tells them that in him they have their spiritual lives secure in him – the third and fourth sayings. The following two tells us how we can inter into our heavenly home. Finally Jesus tells us that we must become a part of him.

Being the Bread of life (JN 6) refers back to the manna in the wilderness but may also refer to the creation story as well. God created all we need for both our spiritual and physical health. John 8 tells us that Jesus is the revelation of all God has for us and how we are to live. Again the time God walked and talked with Adam and Eve.

John 10 tells us that Jesus is the one who lets us into the family of God and not our birthright and that he is the one who will lead us into the path we should go. He will protect us from all the tricks that Satan can throw at us.

John 11 and 14 tells us that he is the one that brings us out of a life of sin to a life of righteousness. In other words: from death to life. Furthermore it is he who teaches us the was to the truth and to eternal life.

The final saying teaches that if we are to be the children of God then we must be a a part of him. This deals with the understanding that God is not involved with his people on a personal level. To be a part of God’s family we must be grafted into his life and he must flow through our members.

For those who have not accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior this will mean a complete change in thought and behavior. First there will need to be an acceptance of who Jesus is and then a desire to be with him. Once we have the desire to be with Jesus it will take the rest of our lives to become more like him.

God bless you as you continue to imitate Christ.

Imitating Christ – The True Vine

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Imitating Christ – the true Vine

John 15: 1   “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.

The significance of the vine was a part of Israel’s history.  The vine was to grow and produce fruit.  At the same time when God used the image of the vine it was a warning that Israel had gone astray and become a wild vine.  Instead of producing the grapes that were large and cultivated, they produced those that were wild, weak, and small. (Ps 80, Hosea10)  The vine has not been used to refer to a single individual.  Jesus comes to the disciples and tells them that he is the true vine.

As the true vine, he is the one who comes from God and will not change. Jesus would give the branches all they needed to produce good fruit. This puts the Israelites one more step from the father.  This will make the Israelites the branches and are required to produce good fruit.  Jesus continued to say that although he was the vine, the father was the one that pruned the branches, gardener.

Let me take a look at Psalms 80, and Hosea10 in the understanding that Jesus is the true vine (that never disobeys the father).  Starting with Psalms 80 verse 8, it could read more like this.  Jesus was transplanted (born a man) a vine on earth, he drove out nations (sin) from our world. The father cleared the hearts of man of sin and Jesus filled him.  The mountains were covered by his spirit, and mighty men of God became the branches.  The branches became far reaching and those who were saved by their testimony reached throughout the land.  Because Jesus is the true vine and would always proclaim the true word of God, verses 12 – 18 would not happen.

Hosea 10: one could read something like the following.  Jesus was a spreading vine – spread to where his word was accepted.  He brought forth fruit for himself – it is Jesus that produced the fruit and not the branches, the branches carried the spirit of Jesus to the fruit.  As more people accepted the spirit of Jesus, he built more places of worship.  The people were blessed and others were drawn to them.

As we see Jesus as the vine we also need to look at the father as the gardener.  The gardener would prune the branched removing that which is dead or unproductive.  First God would remove those who would fall into sin and would not repent, dead branches.  Also God would prune that which was unproductive.  For a new believer this would be removing sin from their lives.  For those who have been living a life of following Jesus it would be that he would remove those things from their lives that hindered their relationship with him.

What hinders you from following Jesus completely?  This could be something with our attitude, what we spend our time with, what we spend money on, or something we enjoy doing.  All of us will find something in our lives that keep us from be just like Jesus. It is when we allow Jesus to have complete control of our lives that he reveals these things to us. Jesus who know the heart of man knows what and when to remove things that do not fit into his life. This does not mean that what he wants to remove from his people is always sin but something that hinders his people from worshipping him better.

Imitating Jesus – the way and the truth

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John 14 starts with Jesus telling his disciples that he is about to go to the father and prepare rooms for them in God’s house and then return to take them there. This is a new concept for the disciples and they can not really understand what Jesus is talking about. This is why Jesus tells them that he is the way to the father, the divine truth, and the one who maintains their spiritual life (vs 6 paraphrased).

Today I would like to look at “the way and the truth” I have shared thoughts on the life in other posts.

Jesus has spent a great deal of time bringing the father to the people. He started by doing miracles of different types. He turned water into wine, healed people both close to home and at a distance, calmed a storm, and raised people from the dead. This is to signify that he has power over every aspect of the world, if it effects people he has the authority to alter the event.

The disciple could understand that God was able to come to them but they could not see the path that would lead them to the Father. Jesus tells them that he is the way to the father and that no one can come to the father except through him. How is Jesus the way to the father? First he is the leader to the path that goes to the father. He is the guide to those who are on the path, Isaiah 35: 8. He is the teacher to those who do not know the father, John 6: 68. Finally he is the example that we are to follow, 11 Peter 2: 21.

How do we know that we are on the right path? To often we follow leaders that lead us down the wrong path because the truth that they give us is colored by their faulty understanding, agenda, or bias. Jesus tells the disciples that he is the divine truth. Truth comes from the father and taught first thru speaking to the people before the law was given then thru the law, then through Jesus, and later through the Holy Spirit. Not only does this truth come from the father but it is also free from affection, pretense, and simulation. The truth that Jesus gives us is not only spoken to us but it is also revealed in ideas, reality and sincerity.
Paul tells us to imitate him as he imitates Christ. He realizes that he is not always perfect when compared to Jesus. Timothy echos this understanding when he tells us to study so we will not be ashamed of the way we understand the word of God. (2 Tim 2: 15) Scripture also teaches that we need to grow in our knowledge and faith of God. As you imitate Jesus may you allow him to fill you with his Spirit. As Jesus becomes stronger in you, you will see God do amazing things.

 

Imitating Christ – Resurrection and the life

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Jesus came to Mary and Martha with a promise that they could not yet understand. He told them that their brother, Lazarus, would live again. They thought he meant that Lazarus would be raised up in the end times, but Jesus meant that he would be raised from the dead that day. Jesus told the sisters that he was the resurrection and the life. This statement had a double meaning. The first was that Jesus had the power over the physical life and could raise people up. The other was that he also had power over the spiritual life, which we will look at today.

The teaching of the Old Testament was that if you had sinned you were cut off from God. If you were cut off from God then you were spiritually dead and would not inter heaven. Because no one could live without committing sin, God created a system of sacrifices for the forgiveness of sin. Having been forgiven for their sin they were made right before God and restored to life. Jesus is telling Mary and Martha that he is the one that brings people back to the fellowship with God and that he maintains that spiritual life.

For us to be spiritually resurrected two things must happen. The first is that we must be forgiven by God. God never forgave sin unless the person or nation first repented of the sins that they had committed. The second thing that had to happen was the sacrifice for sin. In the Old Testament God commanded that a Goat was to be killed for the forgiveness of sin, Leviticus 23. Hebrews 9: 22 tells us that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. Jesus is telling Mary and Martha that he fulfills both of these requirements. First he has the power to forgive sin and second by dieing on the cross he becomes our sacrifice for sin.

The next point that Jesus makes is that he is the life. Our spiritual life can only be maintained if we live without sin. Jesus tells us that we can not live without sin by our own power, but that we must be filled with the Holy Spirit. This can happen when we allow the spirit of God into our lives, Rev. 3: 20. it is at this point we can add our voices with the followers of Christ and say that it is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me, Galatians 2: 20.

As we learn to imitate Christ we will find that he is given more power over our lives and we will become stronger in him. As we give him more power over our lives sin will have less of a hold over us. The stronger becomes in us the more he is able to draw others to himself through us.

God bless you as you imitate him,