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.

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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,

Imitating Christ – The Word.

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John 1: & Gen. 1

Have you ever tried to translate the original scripture into English? After trying to do this a few times, I found it difficult at times to come up with the correct word to use. I found that many of the original words have different ideas attached to them depending on how they are used and written. Also, when we translate the text do we use a word for word, modern language, or a concept translation?

Using my own method I chose to translate John 1:1 as follows: In the beginning was the voice, the voice was with God and the voice was God. That voice became a man and lived with us.

To understand this verse we need to return to Genesis 1. In the beginning was God. Because God is a spirit, his spirit hovered over the vast space. The mind of God decided that he wanted to create a world, and formed the plan to do so. The mind of God decided on creating the heavens and the earth in a logical manner but was unable to do so on his own power. Likewise neither could his spirit create anything, all he could do was move God from one place to another. To create all things God needed a voice. It was this voice that created all things and without him nothing was created.

God said let us (mind, spirit and voice) make man in our own image, male and female. Man was made of the mind (to do the thinking), the spirit (for movement), and the voice (the voice and body creates what we want to create). Since the sin of Adam, man has been a finite person. We have a beginning and we will have an end. Not only do we have a finite physical body but our mind is also very limited.

There are many scriptures that indicate that God’s wisdom and power is so much greater than we can conceive of or understand. With our limited mind we try to understand God. To do this we use the culture we grow up in, our life experience, and how we interpret life, (what make since to us). Into this mix God has also give us a desire to find him. As a side note here, all cultures have some concept of God although none fully know him.

For those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, Jesus now lives in us. (Rev. 3: 20, Galatians 2:20). Furthermore we also have the mind of Christ in us, (1 Corinthians 2:16) the mind of God. If this is true then why do we not see God moving in our lives as we have seen him move in the lives of the early followers of Christ? This may be due to trying to understand God with our own understanding and our desire to be in control of our own lives.

How do we allow Jesus to have more control over our lives? For some this is a desire strong enough to overpower all that this world has to offer and to live a life in the power of God. For most of us it is learning to release those parts of our lives that hinder us from being like Christ. This will always involve earnest prayer, studying Gods word, and following what God wants us to do. We may suffer setbacks in our spiritual lives. God will pick us up, dust us off and use that experience to help us grow in His spirit.

May you grow in Christ as you imitate Him.

Imitating Christ – Hope

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Isaiah 9:2 (NKJV)

2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined

As we look around us today we might wonder if there any hope for our world.

Is there any God out there that cares for what is going on in the world today? If there is a God why does he allow the evil events to happen? When we focus on these ideas we will find there are no real answers. History does not offer any lasting hope either because there has always been evil in this world. We have wars, natural disasters, and personal problems. Is there any hope?

Every generation has faced the same problems that we do today and in the time of Isaiah they were losing hope as well. Isaiah reminded the people of what God had done in the past and reminded them that God will do the same again. He goes one step further and tells them that God will send God’s light into the world and gives his people a great hope. Jesus was the hope that God sent to the world.

Jesus left his followers with the hope that he wold be with them always. With this promise of hope Jesus gave two other promises. The first promise (warning) was that the world would hate them as they hated him. Whit this he told them that their lives would be in danger. The other promise was that if they would endure to the end they would live with him in heaven.

Jesus also gave a promise for the entire world. He said that there will come a time when he will do away with all evil in the world. This will includes all adverse thing that effect us, all wars, and all storms that destroy the land.

As we see our world get worse remember that this world is not our home, that God is still in control, and he will come again for us who are found faithful at his return.

God bless you as you continue to imitate Christ.

Imitating Christ – the good shepherd

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I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. John 10:11 kjv

When I was a child we lived next to a sheep farm and they would sometimes ask us to bottle feed a new born lamb. I had the fun of raising one of those lambs. As the lamb grew it became rather attached to me and started to follow me where ever I went. One day I had left the front door open just a little too long and the lamb followed me into the house. My mother took one look at that lamb, got her broom (as if to sweep it out of the house) and yelled to get it outside. It was fun to have a lamb put her full trust in me, that it would follow me everywhere.

It is almost imposable to be the type of Shepherd that can care for their sheep all the time. Yet Jesus said in John 10: 11 that he was that good Shepherd. Jesus is again portraying himself as being God in the flesh by calling himself the good Shepard.

Psalms 23 has a great understanding of what the good Shepard does, lets go through this psalm. As with many parts of the bible there are two meaning that we can get from a passage. One is the physical meaning for those that need to have a picture of God’s teaching, and the other is a spiritual meaning that is the application to that teaching, this is what we will be looking at now. God will provide all the things that we need to maintain our spiritual life in him. Because we can not separate ourselves from the physical world we will find ourselves spiritually depleted so God will restore our souls. He will lead us in the path of righteousness. When we face temptations we do not need to fear because he will fight to protect us and if we fall he will pick us up again. He will also give us the spiritual food we need to fight the temptation that we face each day. If we fail in our spiritual walk he will anoint us with his healing oil and restore us again to his flock, so that we may dwell in his house for ever.

In Psalm 100 it tells us that it is God who has made us and that we are his people: sheep of his pastures. In Psalm 95 he tells us that if we hear his voice do not to reject it but to follow it. When Jesus was asked by the Jewish leaders if he was the Christ, he said that he had told them but they would not accept him. John 10

Have you accepted Christ as your Shepherd? If you have then he will guide you in all things, and live in you. Rev.3: 20. He will also give you your own flock of sheep. This flock may be your family, or friends, or those you come in contact with, Whoever they are lead them as God would have you lead them.

God bless you as you imitate Christ.

Imitating Christ – I am the Gate

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In John 10: 9 Jesus continues the “I Am” saying by telling his followers that he is the gate. Jesus is talking to a group of people that knew what it is to be a Shepard. They knew that if left alone the sheep would wonder off and get lost thus they needed to have a pin to keep them safe at night. Most pins will have only one gate to allow the sheep to enter and leave by. Often it is the Shepard that will lay at the entrance and become the gate to the pin. The Shepard has won the trust of the sheep so they lay down in safety. To inter this pin the sheep must be allowed In by the Shepard for he allows only his sheep to inter in.

Why does the Shepard have this effect on his sheep? It is because of what he has done for them. He shows them that he cares for them. He provides a pasture of green grass, calm waters to drink, a safe place to rest, a safe path to travel from pasture to pasture, and protection from harm. By laying at the entrance to the pin he will not run off like a hired servant would when danger came and he will protect them with his life.

Jesus was not talking about himself as the gate to the sheep pin but rather the door to enter into heaven. We must inter heaven through Jesus Christ our savior because there is no other way to enter in (Acts 4:12) . Because Jesus is the gate we are kept safe from the attacks of Satan. With each temptation that we face he will provide us with a way to avoid it (1 Corinthians 10:13 ). When we are attacked he will fight our battles for us and if we find ourselves in a conflict he will give us peace within our hearts. As we face our darkest hour he will provide a light to guild us through the darkness.

As we imitate Christ, we must remember that we are also his sheep and at the same time we are the ones that become Christ to others. As sheep we will need to learn from Christ how to live ever closer to him each day. As Christ to others we are to share the love of Christ with them calling them to enter into his fold. We are to teach the word of God to others and encourage them when they fall short of God’s ways. Just as sheep are different so the way we show Christ to others will also be different, but it will always be that we become personally involved with them. Some of those that you are trying to bring into the fold of Christ will resist your efforts just as many had resisted Christ. When our attempts fail we need to give the results to God and allow him to do the rest. I have found that there are some that will not accept us to talk to them about Christ but if we are just friends with them they will accept the message from someone else. More often it is the time we spend talking about the things of God and how it applies to life today that is needed. A great time of excitement does come when we are given to lead someone to Christ personally. What ever relation you have with someone allow God to take the lead in the conversation.

God bless you as you imitate Christ.