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.

Imitating Christ – I Am the Light of the World

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John 8:12

Have you ever had to walk down a dark winding driveway in the country?You can not see the path to walk, you hear the animals moving in the woods, you wonder if you will be confronted by one of those animals. Walking down the path you feel for the dirt and not the grass, your hearing is more intense, your eyes get bigger looking for any light there is. You want to move faster but are afraid of running into something, which often happens.

Just as walking in the physical darkness can harm us so spiritual darkness can harm our spiritual life. Jesus came into the world at a time when many of God’s people were living in spiritual darkness.

Living in spiritual darkness can be from two different reasons. The first is that people did not have the word of God, the scripture referred to them as gentiles. The second was that the people had the word of God but did not follow it. This is the world that Jesus came into. The Jews had made many laws to help the people keep God’s law. In the course of time the laws and the traditions of their faith became more important than mercy. They had forgotten how to love God with their heart and others as themselves, therefore they were living in spiritual darkness. In scriptural terms we find that “light” refers to holiness which is and comes from God. Darkness is the life that is lived without God’s holiness, or living in sin.

Jesus was teaching in the temple when he said that He was the light of the world John 8:12 and he continues by saying that if we follow him we will not walk in darkness but we will walk in the light of life.

2 Corinthians 4: 6 tells us that God commanded that the knowledge of his glory be shined into our hearts. Another scripture tells us that how we live is by what is in our hearts. Luke 11: 34 tells us that when we have the light in our lives then there is no darkness, therefore with the spirit of God in our lives we will live without sin. (a topic for another time) This light will give us the laws of God in our hearts as well of a love of the father that our desire is not to break his laws. This is the first and greatest commandment.

The second commandment is that we love our neighbors as ourselves. We want to live in the light of God and therefore we want others to live in that light as well. Acts 13: 47 says that it is a command from God that we are to be the light to the gentiles so that we might bring salvation to the world. God has gifted each of us to shine our light in a darkened world and at the same time we work as a team to reach more people.

God bless you as you imitate Christ in your life.

Imitating Christ – I am the Bread of life.

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“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.” John 6:35

If you were asked who you are , how would you respond? Would you have a short answer or would you have the need to give a more detailed answer. Jesus would find it hard to tell everyone that he was God in the flesh so he used several ways to explain who he was.

The first part that Jesus uses is that he is the bread of life. Bread was thought of as any type of food that would give nourishment needed for life. Here Jesus is using the term for a bread that is thin and round, with no yeast in it (leaven). This bread is made to be broken never cut. It would be used at the passover meal. To use a knife on this bread would have meant that you were cut off from God. By referring himself to the bread of life he was reminding them of the manna that came down from heaven in the Exodus. “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6: 32, 33.

Jesus now takes the bread of life from the physical realm and gives it a spiritual meaning. Just as bread gives us our physical nourishment so the bread of Jesus gives us our spiritual nourishment. This bread gives us our spiritual life. (According to the Strong’s Greek Lexicon that I use.) As the nourishment of our spiritual life, we will never hunger or thirst after righteousness. At the last supper, Jesus took the bread, gave thanks to God, and gave it to the disciples. He said that this bread signified his body which was broken for them. His life was given that we might have eternal life. Revelation 3: 20 tells us that if we will let Jesus into our lives he we live in us. As we partake of the bread that he gives us we will never hunger nor thirst after righteousness.

As we imitate Christ we have the privilege of offering the bread of Christ to those we meet. How do we do this? It is through the gifts that God has given us through the Holy Spirit, who empowers us. What if we do not know the gifts that we have? We start by doing what we like to do the most. Do we like to sing, or teach, or talk to others, or write? What ever we do, do as unto the Lord. By doing this we will find our gifts.

The gifts that God has given me has changed over the years. It depends on what is going on in my life and what I think that God has called me to do. The gifts that I have today is preparing me for the gifts God will give me in the future. Your gifts will be different than mine so that we can reach more people for Christ. God may give you many gifts or he may give you just one gift. What ever that gift is do it for God.

God bless you as you imitate Christ.

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.