Luke 2:49 indicates Jesus had unusual spiritual sensitivity. Does it mean He knew then He was the Messiah? Maybe and maybe not. But it does mean He understood that God had a specific, personal claim on his life to one degree or another. And what did He do about it? He went home and correctly played his proper role as a family member (Luke 2:51-52). He continued to do so for the next eighteen years (John 2:3-10). My first and greatest opportunity to behave in a Christ-like manner is at home with my family. If I don't follow his example there I won't follow it anywhere. Genesis 4:26 states the people began to "call on the name of the LORD". Do I call on his name in surrender as often as I do in request? Do I call on his name asking that He change me as often as I ask him to change others? In my efforts to please my Father I need to emphasize relationships more than rules. I must not allow myself to settle for reasonable success in the "Thou shalt not" category of Christian living, while ignoring the "cup of cold water" part. Joshua 24:15 says "Choose you this day whom you will serve". I think we are also asked each day to decide who we will "worship." This will be determined and demonstrated by which TV shows we watch, what internet images we download, which magazines we read, how we spend our money, which gossip we listen to, what attitudes we reinforce, which priorities we develop and what parts of our culture we embrace.
My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I love every person in my life all the time. My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I want to help every person I love. My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I learn how to express my love to people as individuals, not just as a group. None of this growth will take place until I yield to the influence and power of the Holy Spirit.
God sends us into the world with a trunk full of love to give to others. We are to dip into that trunk and scatter love to everyone we meet. That love takes the form of listening, sharing, teaching, patience and forgiving. (That short list is not exhaustive.) That trunk has compartments that contain all the forms of love. He also gives us the wisdom to use the most effective form of love with each individual we meet. When I find myself running low on the motivational drive to be a "love scatterer" I must remember how empty my trunk was before He filled it, how small my qualification was to be a receiver of that love, and how much better my life is now because of that love.
The best, most effective, most accurate way I can glorify God is to let the Holy Spirit make me like Jesus. "God...decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son." (Romans 8:29, The Message Bible) The Holy Spirit will do the shaping of the way I am. My role is to allow such changes to happen and then behave in ways that exhibit my new shape. Do we Christians spend more time, money and energy trying to change our physical "shape" into the way the world says it should be than we do allowing the Spirit to alter our spiritual shape into the way God wants it to be?
As children of God we should look back and thank Him, look forward and trust Him, look around and serve Him, look inward and find Him. Desperation is often the starting point to getting a passing grade in Grace 101. Patience is developed, often slowly, by waiting. We need to be patient while the Lord teaches us patience. Too often we try to impress people rather than serve people. When we pray God is more concerned with what our heart feels than what our lips say. Our greatest test of faith is believing God loves us, even when He is not blessing us like we feel He should. Dear Christian, if as the song says, this world is not our home, why do we spend so much time and money building houses in it? About 2000 years ago God had a gift to give me, but Jesus had to die before I could open it. Being God's servant is an honor because He chose me for the position. The spiritual success of my interaction with other people is largely dependent on the intensity and extent of my prior interaction with God.
Quiet me, Lord,that I may experience you and worship you. Embolden me, Lord, that I may serve you and testify of you. Guide me, Lord, to appropriate times, places and methods of both. Jesus is my only current and eternal security. As a child of God I should strive to be informed about Jesus so I can be transformed by Jesus. Ultimate wisdom is complete oneness with God. The degree to which I can behave like Jesus depends on the degree to which I am like Jesus. Jesus, the healer of body and spirit, allows us to visit him whenever and as often as we please. No appointments are necessary and walk-ins are welcome. Jesus spent more time teaching than healing. He placed spiritual growth above physical health. Do my priorities match his? When strangers visit my church, do they meet people who want to help them and love them or people who want to only count them?
Acorns become trees, tadpoles become frogs, caterpillars become butterflies. This is God’s plan for orderly change within nature.
In much the same way He intends for each new Christian to become a fully devoted, dedicated disciple of Jesus. Galatians 5:22-23 describes some of the characteristics He intends us to develop during this process. It is a process directed by the Holy Spirit but it can be stopped or slowed by disobedience on our part. No matter how long ago we became his children He expects us to continue to become more and more Christlike.
Too often our selfish nature sees no advantage for us in this growth plan and we ignore it. Other times we judge our growth by comparing ourselves with other Christians. This leads to jealousy, anger and interrupted growth. If we are to become what God has planned for us we each have to develop humility as the Holy Spirit guides us into devoted, dedicated discipleship.
Before our salvation experience we had to learn we needed a savior. After being born again we now need to remember we have a savior…and He has plans for us.
Goodness and holiness are not the same thing. In fact, in the life of a child of God, good may actually hinder holy.
Goodness refers to those acts of kindness we do in order to help others. Holiness means being set apart and used for God’s glory. Goodness does not always produce holiness.
In Mark 9:41, Jesus talked about giving a cup of cold water “in my name.” Goodness prompts the giving of the water, while holiness causes that water to be presented in the name of our Lord and Savior. If we give a cup of water, provide free babysitting for the single mother who lives next door, visit a follow church member in a nursing home or help a stranded motorist change a flat tire – and don’t mention the name of Jesus or give God any praise – we are being good. But we are not necessarily holy.
Our good deeds may hinder increased holiness because such deeds cause us to feel gratified and pleased with ourselves. We may continue to look for ways to help others and overlook opportunities to glorify God
There are many good non-Christians in the world. Only the redeemed children of God are holy. We must allow the leadership of the Holy Spirit to show us how our good deeds (which bring recognition only to ourselves) can become holy deeds which bring glory to the Father.
The Holy Spirit creates a greater degree of holiness in our lives when we allow him to change the motive for our good deeds. Good deeds done in Jesus’ name and for the Father’s glory become holy deeds.
Are we willing to go beyond good to holy ?
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) is one of my favorite verses. This is strange because it is one of the most difficult commands for me to obey. I long to know God more intimately, to spend time communicating face-to-face with Him.
I understand that Bible study will increase such intimacy, as will time spent in active, joyous praise. Listening to God-based teaching and preaching will draw me toward Him.
But “be still?” I don’t understand! When I try to do that I keep hearing my to-do list and should-have-done list and why-don’t-they-listen-to-me list and what-am-I going-to-do list rolling around in my brain. When God saved me He did not intend for me to sit and do nothing, did He?
But maybe “be still” is not an end in itself. Maybe “be still” is part of the larger process of becoming like Christ. Maybe it is no coincidence that three of the world’s major religions were born in desert areas where stillness and solitude are the norm.
Help me, Father. May your Spirit increasingly control my mind and lead me beside still waters for your name’s sake.
As a born again, covered-by-the-blood Christian, just exactly who am I?
Am I a child of the King, a prince of kingdom? Am I a servant of the most high? Could I perhaps be a soldier in God’s army or maybe an ambassador to foreign kingdoms?
YES! YES! YES! YES! I am all of those, but it is easier to announce that answer than to fully understand and explain it.
My position in God’s kingdom is that of a son, a privileged prince who can claim all the blessings and perks available to one of such high status. Yet I am His servant, standing ready to eagerly fulfill His every wish. As a fully-armed soldier in His army I am ready to do battle, clothed in the armor He has provided for me. And my position as an ambassador sends me into the streets and alleys inviting the needy of this world to his banquet.
It seems impossible to successfully fill any one of these roles, let alone all four at the same time. And it is impossible – totally and completely impossible – if I try it within my own power and wisdom. Only the Holy Spirit, working through me can successfully perform this balancing act.