Tuesday, May 27, 2008

To be in the likeness of Christ

As we move into a brand new year of 2008, most of us have already planned new year resolutions. There are so many targets and goals that we want to accomplish this year. Some of us hope to get a promotion or a pay rise, and there are some who intend to even find a life partner etc. Setting these goals are essential and vital. It helps to push us to strive harder or make an extra mile in order to achieve the end result. However we tend to get so caught up in achieving the best until we become so busy we start compromising on the Godly things and lifestyle we used to have. This will lead us astray from God and ultimately jeopardize our relationship with him. When we look back at our new year resolutions, most of them are of the world. What about Godly goals? Haven’t we forgotten to include that in? Why do we have so many goals for ourselves but forgot about setting goals to achieve for the LORD?

As children of God we must have Christ kingdom perspective in mind. The ultimate goal for our lives is to be like HIM more and more. We as His disciples must reflect God’s light.

We are called to be the salt and light of the world (Mark 9:50)

  1. we should remember God’s faithfulness
  2. we should make a difference in the flavour of the world. (like salt changes meat taste)
  3. we should counteract with the moral decay in society. (salt preserves food from decay)

Whatever we do, our actions are always being observed by the people around us. Therefore before we decide to respond to a certain situation, we must evaluate and ask God to help us discern if it is appropriate to respond in a particular way and whether or not it is His will. For example, if a person makes us angry, are we going to go berserk and burst out back on the other person or are we going to settle it in a calm and pleasant way. The way we respond will ultimately affect the impression that people have on us. We are God’s ambassadors and royal priesthood therefore we must be watchful of how we bring ourselves, our daily conduct and attitudes because the way we portray ourselves must be glorifying to His name. We wouldn’t want to shame and dishonor His name but instead we want to show the world that JESUS is our LORD and He lives in us.

Some important characteristics of GOD that we are ought to follow.

A) Offer forgiveness and unconditional love.

Our God is ever loving and merciful. Even though how much we sin against Him, he still loved us. He wants us to follow thus very nature of HIM.

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do. (Luke 23:34)

If God himself forgave who are we to judge other people when we too are sinners. We must first examine our own attitudes and actions.

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you

shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)

He wants us instead to learn to love our neighbors who include family member, friends, husband/wive, or enemies despite of what they have done in our lives. Why he wants us to forgive like He does? Because he wants to set us free and to experience the true joy and blessings of the LORD. He don’t want us to be burden by all those past that have hurt us. It is better to lift it all up to the Lord than to let these negative emotions as a result of unforgiveness to torment us. Our job is to pray for those who hate us. Love them in spite of what they have done to us. The journey towards healing starts with combining both unconditional love and forgiveness. If there is not love, there is no forgiveness or it will be hard to forgive. Both are closely entwined.

Easy as said than done (when it comes to loving your enemy), but you can do it when you strive to see people through the eyes of Jesus full of love and compassion. We also need to turn to God and ask for strength Real love requires all of our efforts and sacrifice. Everything we have to give like money, time, our pride, and personal involvement to help the other person. By putting the other person's needs ahead of our own we walk with a humble attitude. (we let go of our rights to put others first) When we do this, the person that hurt us will be aware that we are different. We are Christ ambassadors and ought to show a Christ like example to people for them to follow. Remember we do all things to glorify His mighty name.

B) Practice Servanthood

We all need to have a heart of a servant. Even our LORD JESUS, a man who is highly exalted served His people. In the bible it tells us that JESUS washed the feet of HIS disciples which show servanthood. His life on earth is more of serving the people He sees everyday (healing, teaching, feeding, blessing) and does not expect anything else for His own benefit in return but only hope that they will hear the gospel and receive salvation form our heavenly Father. It is the command of our Father to be faithful and sensible servants for Him and for His people.

Matt 24:45-47

How to have a heart of a servant?

- lay down our rights at the feet of the cross (rights to anger, certain advantage etc) Let’s say we waited for the waitress to sit us in a restaurant for a rather long time already and finally she gave another person the sit first. Are we going to scream at her and demand for a free meal because it was our rights to get our sits first.

- give rather than receive (offer help to shift house or clean the church or help a brother in a project without asking)

- serving means sacrificing (time-going out for a movie, shopping spree, girls night out, sleep over, pillow talk, energy-help to shift house, give tuition to help out in studies, possessions-treat friends once in a while)

Acts 20:35

It is more blessed to give than to receive

- humble

- obedient to the word of GOD

- doesn’t complain but be submissive (do as told e.g leaders)

- does not wait to be called to do something (clean the church, offer to help without asking)

C) Being and Influencer

1 Timothy 4: 12

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

We all influence people every stage of our lives, whether we recognize it or not. The question is how do we influence? In a good way or a bad way. The best model to follow is JESUS and how His life related to people. (basically how His ministry affected the people) The gospel tells us that Jesus poured His life into a few people, and in turn this small group impacted the world and all of history. We are often encouraged to influence other people with our Christian walk not out of obligation, but because it brings great meaning and joy to our lives (when we see other people get touched by what we say or do, we are delighted because we know that we are walking right with GOD and we are encouraged) and It is a high calling and a part of our pre-designed purpose that He has for our lives.

How and who do we influence?

- not limited to people with ongoing relationship (a person that you have been nurturing or sharing the gospel)

- it can be a one time encounter with a stranger u meet at a bus station or it may be a short message in a greeting card that includes the gospel of JESUS.(God’s calling and commission for us)

“Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15)

- not necessarily from a classroom setting where a speaker will talk about a particular topic (sermon, seminar) which influence or impact their lives.

- We can use everyday events and impacting moments as opportunities to teach or influence. (you see a blind man on the street, how u respond to that scenario, or how u have been praying for a payrise or good results when finally your prayers have been answered.

- Can happen in an informal setting e.g: during a shopping spree with your friends, in uni, workplace or church.

- By story telling (JESUS use parables)

- By showing the heart of compassion to those who are in need. (really moving out from the comfort zone and into the darkest streets, deserted places where beggars and prostitutes live.)

- Giving counsel and practical advice.

- Nurture the potential in others to fulfill their God given purpose. Influence them to have a heart that is passionate about serving by telling them what GOD can do with their lives like what GOD has done to you and how they can play an important role in building the kingdom of GOD. (encouragement) This can be done by looking out for gifts and talents which one can serve in church and affirming that what he/she does is right and in the will of GOD.

Matt 28:19,20

Pray that the LORD will reveal to you the people that He wants us to impact with biblical insights, and encouragement for the journey of life.

D) Steadfast in prayer

Having a prayerful life as a Christian is the utmost important. We all need to pour out our hearts desire and needs to God. Even Jesus prayed to His Father often. No matter how busy He was, Jesus still spent time alone with His Father, praying. After a full, tiring day of ministering to people and healing He still woke up early the next day to spend time with the LORD.

Mark 1:35

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.

Why Pray??

- to receive guidance from God to carry you through the whole day.

- Have faith that God answers

- We have hope in God

- We surrender our lives to God and know that He is in control

- Acknowledging our dependence on God

- Because prayer is powerful (our God is a God of possibilities)

- It is God’s will in our lives

1 Thessalonians 5: 17,18

Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

- Because He is glad when His children come to seek Him in prayer

Proverbs 15:8

He delights in the prayers of the upright.

- We acknowledge that He is God over our lives

- To have an intimate relationship with the LORD ( draw us closer – comm. with the Lord about the ups and downs of our lives)

What do we pray?

- For the nation (peace, good leaders, Christian ministers) - intercessory

- Defeat any hindrances and plans from the evil one

- For the people that we are nurturing

- To soften the hearts of our loved ones and uncover the veil for those who do not know the LORD

- To transform lives

- Blessings and protection

- For Him to reveal the purpose that He has for our lives.

How do we pray?

- with a humble attitude

- with expectancy that God will answer

- with a sincere and pure heart

1 Samuel 16:7

“For the Lord does not see as a man sees, for a man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”

- in spirit and in truth

Praying is more effective than actually confronting someone to help him/her as prayers are capable of moving mountains.

Mark 9:29

This kind can come out only through prayer

However there are times when our prayers seem to be not answered but don’t fret because in His due time it will be but maybe not in ways that we want it to be but in His will because He knows what is best for us. Therefore we must never give up praying but instead be steadfast and persevere in prayer.

Galatians 4:4

But when the time had fully come, God sent His son, born under law.

God sees the heart and how much faith that we have to know that God hears our prayers and that something has already been taking place in the spiritual realm.

It is never easy to be like Christ. We made a choice to follow Him which means walking the same path that He walked and using Him as a role model in our temporary lives here on earth. Ask God to mould you into His image everyday and pray that He will give you the strength to follow Him.

Yours truly,
Sabrina Lee 2008

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