Called to Imitate Jesus

<strong>Called to Imitate Jesus</strong>

We are called to follow Jesus’ example on earth.  He is our example, or pattern, of godliness and holiness.  In order to model ourselves after Jesus, we must first comprehend what He was called to do.

Jesus had prophetic Scriptures to fulfill, and He was very aware of those Scriptures.  Let’s turn to the Bible and explore this topic.

  • The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord anointed me to bring good news to the humble; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to captives and freedom to prisoners . . .  (Isa 61:1 NASB)
  • The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.  (Lk 4:18 NIV)
  • The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.  (Mt 11:5 NKJV)

Jesus came to bring the good news of salvation to mankind.  He was sent to heal the brokenhearted, release the captives, heal the lame and blind and deaf, and to declare freedom to the prisoners of evil.

  • But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  (1 Pet 2:9 NIV)

We are told in 1 Peter, chapter 2, that we who have accepted Christ as our Savior and Lord are a chosen people, called out of darkness into His marvelous light.  As His royal priesthood, we are called to live holy, righteous lives that shine before all men to the glory of God.

In imitating Christ, not only should we desire to act as He did, but to do so with the same purity of character and the motivations of LOVE for His Father in heaven and for the people to whom He ministered.  Without the correct heart attitude and inspiration, our actions would become a mere parody of our Lord’s. In order to fulfill our calling, we need to maintain a profound relationship with our Redeemer—a living relationship clearly conspicuous by our obedience, submission and love for the Lord.  Such an ongoing relationship coupled with an honorable character will result in a life of true service to the Lord and to His Kingdom.  God bless you!

Pray for the Increase of Evangelism

Pray for the Increase of Evangelism

As believers and followers of Jesus, we’re called to pray for the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to spread over all of the earth. 

Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you . . .  (2 Thes 3:1 NIV)  Pray for your Pastor and the missionaries that your church supports that God will bless and prosper their work.  Pray also for the family of your Pastor and the families of the missionaries that you support.

. . . for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.  (1 Cor 16:9 NIV)  Remember that there are spiritual opponents and challengers who stand against the gospel of Jesus Christ.  But the Bible reminds us that God has given us the victory.  It is part of our calling to pray for that victory to be manifested in every evangelistic outreach.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Cor 15:57 NKJV)

But the word of God increased and multiplied.  (Ac 12:24 NIV)  By the grace and mercy of God, our prayers can turn a situation around by faith in Jesus.

. . . therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  (Mt 9:38 NIV)  Ask the Lord in your prayers to send out more evangelists so that His good news of salvation may bring about the end-time harvest.

Of course, we should pray for our unsaved relatives and friends to be saved.  It’s a measure of our love for them that we desire to pray for their salvation.  Remember what the Bible tells us: If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (Joh 15:7 NIV)  Rejoice!

Who Knows the Things of God?

Who Knows the Things of God?

Who can know the mind and heart of the Lord?  Who knows God’s thoughts?

For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  (1 Cor 2:11 NKJV)

The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being.  (Pro 20:27 NIV)

Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?  (Rom 11:33-34 NASB)

The Spirit of God is the only One who knows the thoughts of God.  Even as we humans are the only ones who can know our own thoughts.  No one else can know them unless we share them verbally or in writing.

The Lord has given us His Word in the form of the Bible so that we may know Him better and learn all about His personality, His virtues, and His ways.  We can come to understand His thoughts much more clearly by studying and memorizing His Word.

The Bible teaches us that God’s thoughts are far higher than ours and they are also very different from ours.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
 (Isa 55:8-9 NKJV)

The Bible also reveals to us that God thinks about His people constantly:

But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks upon me.  (Ps 40:17a NKJV)

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  (Jer 29:11 NKJV)

The good news for us is that God thinks about each one of us all of the time!  His thoughts include planning a good and peace-filled future for each one of us.  Glory to God!

Set Apart

Set Apart

But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself:  the Lord will hear when I call unto Him.  (Ps 4:3 KJV)  We have been “set apart” by God.

Moreover, when you divide the land by lot into inheritance, you shall set apart a district for the Lord, a holy section of the land; its length shall be twenty-five thousand cubits, and the width ten thousand. It shall be holy throughout its territory all around.  (Ezek 45:1)  God instructed the Israelites to “set apart” land for Him that would be considered holy.  In present times, we believers have become His dwelling place—the “land” set apart for God!  (1 Cor 3:16, 17; 6:19)

What does it mean to be set apart for God? 

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light . . . (1 Pet 2:9)

It means that we who have accepted Jesus as our Savior are God’s special people, and we are called to proclaim His praises and His good news of salvation to all people, everywhere.  We are Christ’s ambassadors on the earth.  (2 Cor 5:20)

He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.  (Ps 121:3)  This is a promise of God to His chosen people—those who are set apart for Him.  Every promise in the Bible is for us!  These promises are our inheritance. (Ps 119:111)

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.  (2 Cor 7:1)  We who have Jesus as our Savior—and are set apart—are called to holiness.  (1 Pet 1:15, 16)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  (Eph 2:10)  What constitutes “good works”?  Good works are actions which are pleasing to the Lord.  Because we have accepted Jesus as our Savior (we are set apart), He becomes the origin or source of our actions.  Christ is the root cause of everything, and good works are the fruit!

In conclusion, we are set apart as special to God.  Because we are, we walk in holiness and good works to the glory of God.

Note:  This is a reprint of our blog article dated 03/20/2017.

Secrets

Secrets

Are you a person who enjoys having a secret?  Do you have secrets of your own to protect—that you do not want to be revealed?

Well, our Father in heaven has secrets that He will share only with His children.  God also knows every secret of every human being on earth; nothing is hidden from Him.

I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, am the God of Israel.  (Isa 45:3 NKJV, underscoring added)  There are hidden riches in undisclosed places which are known only to God, and He has promised to give these blessings to His own children.

He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.  (Dan 2:22 NKJV)  Only our God and Savior is able to reveal to us His deep and secret things in such a way that they will be useful, helpful, and fruitful to us.

When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private, and he will reward you.  (Mt 6:6 CEV)  When this passage states that God knows what happens in private, it is saying that God sees and knows what is done secretly.

This proves that the conscience is like a law written in the human heart. And it will show whether we are forgiven or condemned, 16 when God appoints Jesus Christ to judge everyone’s secret thoughts, just as my message says.  (Rom 2:15-16 CEV)  God knows even our secret thoughts!  And He loves us no matter what they may be.

Praise God! He can make you strong by means of my good news, which is the message about Jesus Christ. For ages and ages this message was kept secret . . .  (Rom 16:25 CEV)  We are so blessed that the Good News of salvation is no longer a secret but has been revealed to all mankind.  Glory to God most High!

God Makes Wars Cease

God Makes Wars Cease

Jesus is the Prince of Peace referred to in Isaiah 9:6.  It makes sense that the Prince of Peace, sent by His heavenly Father, is opposed to war.  Instead, He chose to make changes on earth through His love and His self-sacrifice even to the point of dying on the cross for us.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.  (Ps 46:9)  God’s mighty power extends all over the earth in every country, region, and land.  He has power to demolish weapons and bring an end to war anywhere on earth.

Then I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand.  (Ezek 39:3)  The Lord can cause weapons to be forcefully removed from human hands and to fall out of a person’s strongest hand! Wow!

He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.  (Isa 2:4)  In God’s perfect timing, He will cause nations to destroy their weapons and cease from attacking one another. 

Until that time, Christians are to “make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”  (Heb 12:14) The gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News for all human beings.  It establishes peace between God and man through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. 

We should always promote peace instead of discord, and be instruments of God to demonstrate His love, mercy, and forgiveness to all.  We are blessed!

BRIGHTEN SOMEONE’S DAY

BRIGHTEN SOMEONE’S DAY

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.  (Pro 12:25 NIV)

A cheerful heart is good medicine . . . (Pro 17:22a NIV)

We all experience days when we feel a little down or maybe worried or stressed out.  On days like those, we all appreciate a cheerful word or a phone call from a friend.  We all need encouragement, and we need other believers to come alongside of us occasionally to strengthen us.

We need a fellow believer to encourage our faith, to remind us of God’s goodness and glorious attributes, and to let us know that we are loved by God.  Only another person who follows Jesus, and has experienced life’s challenges and victories is able to help us in this way.  I encourage us all to cultivate friends who are fellow believers and who have been serving the Lord longer than we, ourselves, have.

Jesus taught us to love one another, and to be kind to one another.  He gave us His own example of how to live like this.

Offering hope, support, and cheer to one another is a wonderful and practical way to spread God’s love in this stress-laden world.  It’s important to encourage yourself first, in the Word of God. Another way to encourage yourself in the Lord is to remember all of the answered prayers you have experienced, and to remember all of the miracles that God has performed in the past in answer to your prayers. Rejoice! Thank and praise the Lord for these past testimonies and victories. Once you have done these things, you will have the strength to minister to others.

But take heart! I have overcome the world.  (Joh 16:33 NIV)

The Good News is still true.  The Lord is always reliable, and we can depend upon His Word and His matchless love.  He has overcome! 

So take a little time every day to share joy and cheer with everyone around you—with your family, friends, and co-workers.  Hallelujah!

The Message of the Cross

The Message of the Cross

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  (1 Cor 1:18 NIV, underlining and emphasis added) 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  (Rom 1:16, emphasis added)

 . . .  but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  (1 Cor 1:23-25, emphasis added)

. . . because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.  (1 Thes 1:5 ESV, emphasis added)

The message of the cross is sometimes referred to as the:

  • Gospel of Christ (Rom 1:16)
  • Good News (1 Thes 3:6)
  • Power of God (1 Cor 1:23-25)
  • Wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:23-25)
  • Resurrection Gospel (1 Cor 15, entire chapter)

What is the message of the cross?  It is that God LOVES the world, and desires to be in RELATIONSHIP with each and every one of us.  Thanks to this truth, the Father God provided salvation to all mankind through Jesus Christ.

Jesus humbled himself in coming to earth as a newborn baby.  He grew up as a normal, human boy and learned the trade of carpentry.  He lived a sinless, perfect life serving His heavenly Father.  Jesus preached Good News, and demonstrated the love of His heavenly Father by performing signs, wonders, and miracles. 

Jesus displayed the need for continuous fellowship with His Father, as well as drawing apart for prayer.  He modeled forgiveness, wisdom, and walking in the Spirit for us all.

The symbol of the cross is an icon of grim human suffering and public humiliation.  Jesus’ suffering and subsequent death and resurrection are all part of the message of the cross.  In the light of Christ’s resurrection, there is restoration of hope, complete joy, and utter triumph.  Hallelujah!

Notice that the preaching of this gospel of salvation is always accompanied by the POWER of God.

The message of the cross proves the magnitude of the love that God has for mankind.

The Right Way

The Right Way

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He teaches sinners in the way.  (Ps 25:8)

I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths.  (Pro 4:11, emphasis added)

Thus says the Lord:  “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.  But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’  (Jer 6:16, emphasis added)

They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness . . .  (2 Pet 2:15, emphasis added)

From the Scriptures shown above, we can clearly understand that God has given His people the “right path” and a “good way” in which we should walk.  He gives us direction and guidance through His Word, and our Lord Jesus served as our highest example.  (See Isa 30:21; 58:11; 1 Pet 2:21-22)

The Word points out to us that the right way is a narrow and challenging one.

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.  (Mt 7:14)

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.”  (Joh 10:1)

The gate is called narrow and challenging because the gate into the right path is through Jesus Christ, alone.  He is the only “door” into the sheepfold.  Let us look at what more Jesus said about this:

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  (Joh 10:7)

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  (Joh 10:9)

Even in this day and age, there are those who don’t want to hear the name of Jesus.  There are many who speak against Christianity and Christians.  The Good News of the gospel of salvation is unwelcome in many places, therefore following the Lord isn’t always popular.  If you’re known as a Christian, it may bring about harassment, mistreatment, or discrimination against you. 

Nevertheless, as long as we stay on the right path, God promises to bring us safely to His eternal kingdom.  (2 Tim 4:18)  And He will bless and prosper us along the way.

When Did We See You, Lord?

When Did We See You, Lord?

. . . for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’  37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’  (Mt 25:35-40)

Jesus is making a point in these teachings.  He wanted His followers to realize that mercies shown to His people are considered by God to be the same as if they were shown to Jesus, Himself. 

In the Lord’s view, by showing kindness to the poor, the sick, and the needy, we demonstrate that we possess the spirit of Christ.  Jesus also showed His kindness to the poor, sick, and needy.  He gave us a perfect example.

For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.  (Mk 9:41)

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.  (1 Joh 3:14)

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?  (1 Joh 3:17)

We need to have eyes to see the world and all people in the same way that the Lord sees them.  The Lord sees a field that is rich and ready to be harvested. 

The Lord sees people in deep need of the salvation that He has already provided, and He wants us to introduce this Good News to the spheres of influence in which we individually reside.  As we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the needy, provide homes to the lost, and visit the sick and the prisoners, we’re doing it all as unto God, our Savior. 

As we serve and treasure other people, in the same way that Jesus did while He was on earth, our Father God lays up our heavenly rewards for us. Glory to God!