Eyes fixed on Jesus
If we are honest it is difficult to live to a set of values and ideals isn’t it. Its difficult to proclaim on a Sunday morning that we want to be like Jesus yet lose it in the office on a Monday or with the family on the way back from Church. Is it just me or do you have those moments as well, hands up please if you are perfect 100% of the time you should be giving this message not me. The thought of being holy just at times seems impossible unattainable. No we are human, God knows what we are:
Genesis 6:4-6 The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.
Sometimes its easier to deaden our hearts to wrap ourselves in religious clothing and rituals then distance ourselves from the world in an inward looking introspective holy huddle called Church. BUT! That’s not what God wants is it? Not the God who sent his only son Jesus to live as a human to, to die on a cross if our God was a God of religion he could have just sent a list of rules or a book to guide but our God is a God of relationship a God of love who is not distant and remote a God who loves and is closer than skin we wear. Our God the great I AM the most Holy one speaks to our hearts and says things like in 1 Peter 15 – 16 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy. When we give our lives to Jesus we often claim that we want to live like him and be like him, if that is true we need to be holy and take it to the world in need
At this point it could be so easy to go on a guilt trip to give up, me holy well that’s impossible, the thoughts I have, the acts I do and then there’s my attitudes all far for the Christ likeness idea we would want. Then you think of the way of our Lord we Christians don’t typically wear clothes or embellish ourselves with markings to be obviously “Christian” people are meant to know that we are by the way we are, the love of Christ flowing out or us to those around us. This sounds a tough one doesn’t it, I mean can any of us honestly claim that say if every one we had met or interacted with over the previous week was questioned and asked what we were like that all would report back that its was just like being in the presence of Jesus? But take heart don’t lose faith, look at Pauls prayer to the Ephesians to us look at the words and I would ask you to consider them from these perspective of living like Jesus:
Verses 16 – 18 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.
Do you get it this is not about us its not down to our strength and character, thank God its not as if it were we would fail. No its out of Gods glorious riches, out of that never ending ocean of love that we can draw our love the love of Christ and let that love flow to all around us every one we meet. I’ll ask a question, tell me what is Gods treasure here on earth? Answer, people you, me and all you will ever meet.
I’ll ask another question, tell me of anyone Jesus did not or would not love? Answer there is none. So our journey begins when we give our lives to Jesus then Christ himself is routed and established in our hearts
Do you see we are not alone our God will never leave or forsake us, he come with us at the centre of our very beings we just need to remember and open our hearts to that amazing love and let Christ dwell on our hearts. This is gives us freedom, in our surrender we become free in Christ, we are then given the greatest of liberties think about it we don’t have to prove ourselves anymore, when you are accepted and adopted by God what greater acceptance could there be . Answer there is none.
So how do you feel?
Free and liberated from fears and rejection, from worries and legal religious chains? This freedom this liberty is the cornerstone of the Church it is through this freedom that we carry Jesus to an imprisoned world to set the captives free.
In the Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning puts it like this “In Christ Jesus freedom from fear empowers us to let go of the desire to appear good, so that we can move freely in the mystery of who we really are. Preoccupation with projecting the “nice guy” image, impressing newcomers with our experience, and relying heavily on the regard of others leads to self-consciousness, sickly pedestal behaviour, and the unfreedom in the iron grip of human respect”
John 12:45-47 When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. Sin and sinfulness which is the opposite of holiness and surrender to God, sin wants the darkness wants to be hidden perhaps beneath a wafer thin veneer of pseudo holiness enough to deflect the other Church members, the Pharisee look at me how great I am but still a stench to God, who is THE great I AM!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person”
Jesus came to save us, gave his life for us, think again of the cost of the cross, go on think of the God of all creation hanging there, think for a moment again the pain the suffering the shear anguish to be separated from God for us, to suffer to the point of death for you for me and to do so to open the door to a relationship with God with Jesus.
We have no right to claim this this is our creator pouring out an unimaginable immeasurable love a love for his created a love for relationship a love that calls us from the darkness into light.
Into the Light!
We are told by Jesus that no one who believes in him should stay in the darkness, this means we can’t stay as we were before we gave our lives to him Jesus is the way the light the life. This I believe brings us into the world of Grace and love. We do not have the right to keep ourselves in darkness shackled to our past once Christ has set us free
When we give our lives to Jesus and our sins are washed away by the power of his shed blood, that is it folks it is done we are forgiven reborn, an amazing divine exchange has taken place were Jesus pays the greatest of cost an unimaginable cost to set us free to let us off without charge or jail sentence free, free!!!
But it’s a difficult one to come to terms with if we are honest I wonder how many struggle with this let me put it another way if God has forgiven you why is it so hard to forgive yourself?
But it is for some, for some they can be their harshest judge, jury and executioner all rolled up into one. But if God has set us free we need to let go of our past ways, our past indiscretions and step into our new life free in Christ. If we have broken the law we might still go to prison but we would be free even in the captivity of such a place, why well because Christ would be their with us. This freedom in grace, this forgiveness from God of our sins means that we are free to unclothe ourselves from ourselves and clothe ourselves in Jesus him self.
This an amazing and God given exchange one for which none of us are worthy and none of us could ever pay for should such a currency exist yet is freely given and received. When Jesus pays this price we are then called to be well Holy, to be like Jesus. Back to my starting point sounds impossible doesn’t it? But its not and we can if we let Jesus and the Holy Spirit lead.
What is it to be Holy?
What does the term “Holy Man” conjure up in your imagination, a frail looking weathered person, someone saying “thou shall not…”, perhaps someone with an ever radiant face or is it someone who makes you feel wanted and loved? Wikipedia defines Holiness, or sanctity, is in general the state of being holy (belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power). And Divine Grace as Grace is enabling power sufficient for progression. Grace divine is an indispensable gift from God for development, improvement, and character expansion. Without God’s grace, there are certain limitations, weaknesses, flaws, impurities, and faults (i.e. carnality) humankind cannot overcome. Therefore, it is necessary to increase in God’s grace for added perfection, completeness, and flawlessness.
So back to my question what is a Holy Man, I would say a person associate with a divine power, living in Gods enabling power and by grace receiving Gods gift for development, improvement and character expression. That character being the character of Jesus
Now Holiness does not sound so unattainable does it? I’m not about to launch into a three step plan or give you a formula for success as that not what its about. If you want to be holy then two key steps are firstly give your life to Jesus Christ there is no other path to the holy and secondly surrender to the Holy Spirit of God and allow God to transform you to change you into the real you the one God knows you can be. This holiness is then expressed in what are often termed “fruits of the spirit” which like many fruits are expressed by the tree to spread its seed, our in our case God uses the fruits of the spirit when expressed in our lives to show others the goodness of God and his all accepting love to plant the seed into the heart of one yet to believe so they to can then bring forth fruit when they turn to the Lord and allow him to breath life into the seed of faith. What do I mean well look at the world, people are hurting, broken busily attacking and biting each other, it’s a world were hope is disappearing into a darkness of self-centred life styles, yet there is a hunger for acceptance, a crying out need to be loved.
As I write this I’m sitting in Baltimore the day before Barrack Obama’s inauguration and everyone is speaking of the hope of a new beginning, the African American’s are rejoicing in seeing one of there own becoming president of the USA unbelievable and a great feeling of optimism and new beginnings. Hope, Acceptance are key factors a people once slaves now being allowed to lead that’s a God way, its redemption it echoes in the bible look in Exodus. Yet what encourages me most is Mr Obama in his interviews saying I am only human I will make mistakes, he is and no doubt he will
But the king of the kingdom I serve does not make mistakes, does not fail does not give in and take an easy more popular action. He’s a king that would give his own life to save yours, that if you or I were the only people on the earth would still sacrifice himself to save us and will never forsake us. What’s my point well its just this you can trust Jesus he will not fail or reject you, he does not mess up and he loves you. What was that last part – yes he loves you forever no matter what God will not give up on us. This is about surrendering every part to Jesus consider:
Philippians 2:1-11 1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So take comfort from his love, take fellowship from the Holy spirit and join in unity of love for the good of others, that’s living like Jesus!!!
I confess I have a long journey to go, how about you?
People notice that sort of living and gather to it like light draws moths to a flame shining and flickering in the dark, the hope the truth and love of Jesus which can never ever be snuffed out.
Fruits low hanging and available.
Galatians 5 22 – 26 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
That’s what we can express and as the text states against such things there is no law they are not defined and controlled by man. Or put it another way they cannot be stopped like the wind or water it goes were it flows. Listen open ears and receive these words “God Loves Everyone” even us and so should we even ourselves, its is not sinful to love oneself it is a sin if the love stops there. We should love ourselves as God loves us, but I believe when we truly love our selves we can then stop being self centered and become focused on the needs of others given them the love as we are secure in the knowledge or Gods love for us
As freely as we receive then freely we should give we are told and its true. How can we speak of the love of Christ to the lost if we don’t look loved and act as if we are loved?
When someone comes to Church do they feel loved or judged?
It has to be loved or its not of or for Jesus.
Also our holy gifts are given to us to give away all of the fruits of the sprit are low hanging easy to gather fruits, that’s the point
Our holiness is meant to be shared meant to be given to the unholy just as Jesus did and does. If we are worried about being “polluted” or “corrupted” by the un holy the un saved then I doubt if we a holy. If we were the thought would not bother us as we would know the we “know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,”
Do we fully grasp what Paul is saying in his prayer, do we truly realize that the love of Christ is beyond all knowledge, beyond anything we can define or imagine do we fear that the world can take it from us and snuff it out? Do we fully grasp the power and promise of the prayer we have studied today? Think to be filled with such a love and acceptance from God by God that’s his promise to all who give themselves to his son Jesus and its guaranteed by God! Let these words resonate in your inner place “strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” and “being rooted and established in love” and “you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”. Tell me honestly if these words are true and you accept them as such do you feel fearful, worried or timid – No you should not you should feel like being unafraid to reach out and show others the love in word, thought and deed, just like Jesus did and does and will do through you if you let him.
Have a Personal Revival.
A W Tozer encouraged people wanting to be seeking God with ALL of their Heart to consider these two points:
1. Get thoroughly dissatisfied with yourself. Complacency is the deadly enemy of spiritual progress. The contented soul is the stagnant soul. When speaking of earthly goods Paul could say, "I have learned to be content" (Philippians 4:11); but when referring to his spiritual life he testified, "I press on toward the goal" (3:14). "So stir up the gift of God that is in thee" (2 Timothy 1:6, KJV). We are not in heaven yet pray to let God perfect you and refine you through his grace and love
2. Set your face like a flint toward a sweeping transformation of your life. Timid experimenters are tagged for failure before they start. We must throw our whole soul into our desire for God. "The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it" (Matthew 11:12).
Topped with the prayer “Lord, I want to grow not just tomorrow or in the years ahead but now, today. Show me what it means to seek You with all my heart.” Show me what it means to be like Jesus to live like Jesus – please Lord I’m desperate for this. Remember Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Be encouraged when we hold the mirror up to ourselves none should see perfection we only see perfection when we gaze at Jesus as it says in:
Hebrews 12 2 – 3 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
So as I close today can I you to think again of the cross think again of a God who so love and still loves each and every one of us, please allow yourself to love yourself anew to let the love of God in to every part and as you do you will lose yourself and find Jesus, take his hand and follow.
Let us pray:
My dear Lord Jesus I confess you and you alone are my saviour, please Lord help me fix my gauze on you and you alone, help me reflect you in my everyday living may I being rooted and established in your love show others your love and may I have power together with all the saints in your church to grasp how massive and immeasurable and how total is the love of Christ and may I live in the fullness of God and live in the knowledge that God can do immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine and may I be unafraid to bring glory to God and to Christ Jesus through out all of the days of my life. May I strive to love all people I meet as I walk this life. Transform me Lord and Holy Sprit and help me Lord to be ever more Holy as you are Holy, living like Jesus.
I ask and pray in Jesus name.