Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Imitators of God

Ephesians 5:1-21

I won't post the whole passage, as it is long, but I'll post a few key verses. I decided to use the Amplified version today because the devotional I read used it and I enjoy reading it.

v. 1:Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].

im-i-tate (verb)

1. to follow or endeavor to follow as a model or example
2. to mimic; impersonate
3. to make a copy of; reproduce closely
4. to have or assume the appearance of; simulate; resemble

What a difficult call for all of us mere mortals. Certainly we cannot achieve resembling God on our own. We really must give up our own desires, agendas, and goals and replace them with the desires of God. We must make Him our only example and follow that example closely.

v. 15: Look carefully then how you walk!Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people),
v.16:making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.

These verses are so relevant. We live in a time where people are more worried with protecting the planet than with the lives of children and people in general. There are millions of orphans who need homes. There are millions of children being exploited and sold into the sex trade. There are millions starving in this world. Yet far too often we waste are days worrying about who has the newest car, TV, etc. God's heart is for these souls and if we are called to imitate Him, then our hearts must also break for the poor, the lost, the broken, the abused of the world. We must take each opportunity presented to us to make a difference.

Finally a passage from Isaiah 55, verses 8-9:

v. 8: For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord.
v. 9: For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.

When we decide to follow after Him, we must give up earthly ways and concerns. We must allow Him to guide our thoughts and mold us into children who resemble their Father.

Thank you for these words and please work in my life to make me a better reflection of you. Remind me when I am worried with frivolous things that your ways are higher and better and where I should place my attention. Purge the ideas and ways of this world from my heart. When I am quick to anger, remind me of your amazing mercy and love. When I do wrong to another, make me quick to apologize and mend the relationship. Guide my steps, Lord, so that others will see You in my life.
In Jesus name,

Monday, August 3, 2009

I Surrender All

In service yesterday, Pastor Johnny referenced the verses Mark 1:14-18 (ESV).

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."
16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men." 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Johnny continued his sermon by stressing four commands that Jesus gave and elaborating on their meaning. The first word was REPENT. He explained that for the Jew of that day, repent meant "Get ready! God is about to do something great". I found this so encouraging. Far too often it seems that present day people view repenting in a negative light. It means admission of guilt and often carries a fair bit of shame. While repenting does require us to examine our lives and turn away from the things that aren't of God, it is so awesome to realize that God wants us to repent, not so that we will feel shame, but so that He can do great things for and through us.

The second word was BELIEVE. Johnny focused on the fact that to believe is not just the initial realization that Jesus is the savior. Rather it is a "continual and repetitive action" and a "dependence" on Christ. It is an ongoing relationship with our Lord that involves our involvement. We were encouraged to pray and study our Bibles regularly, daily, ceaselessly. This is certainly an area that I struggle with. I let everyday obligations and senseless distractions fill up my time. What amazing things would God do in my life, if only I would be more consistent in my act of believing?

The third word was FOLLOW. Johnny taught that to follow, you must "be attached to, not far from, always with" the one you are following. He explained that even though we aren't perfect, we can still follow Jesus. When we stumble, we just need to stay with Him and continue to mirror his life as best we can. It goes back to the repenting and believing. If we continually do those things, we will also be following Him more closely. What would Christianity look like if all who claimed to be Christian, followed Jesus and not religion?

The final word was FISH (for people). Johnny began his sermon by asking what the "great thing" God could be getting ready to do would be for each one of us. When he got to the word fish, he asked how many had that in mind. He talked about how most people were probably thinking about help with finances, or marriages, or other things. To fish requires us to surrender our great thing and substitute it for God's great thing. God's desire is to be in relationship with his creation. What an amazing privilege that he wants to use us to help bring others to him! We just need to remember that "It's not about me!".

Thank you, thank you for this church that you have led us to. Thank you for Johnny and the blessing that he, and his preaching, is to my life. Help me Lord, to take your truths that I have learned and put them into practice in my life. You know that my "great thing" was to go on a mission trip, or some other thing like that. I do desire to reach others for You, but I am so often distracted by the everyday, earthly things. Father, help me to repent, believe, follow, and fish. Lead my steps so that You can accomplish great things through me and let me always be reminded that it is ultimately not about me. It is all about YOU! I want to surrender all to you.