Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Divine Nature, Kingdom Character

God's Word continues to amaze, convict, teach, and grow me. Who am I in Christ, what should my life look like as a citizen of His Kingdom, how am I to live?  After studying the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Chapter 5,  I  find myself  reviewing   the  discussion Jesus had concerning  Kingdom dwellers' characteristics with the apostles and nearby listeners:
3." Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5  “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7  “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10  “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

 Seems impossible and so different from my culture, its values and ways of thinking. So many today seem to be "full of themselves", offering their opinions with harsh, sarcastic words, living lives full of greed and condemnation. Now, I am studying 2 Peter, and in the first chapter Peter tell us that believers in Christ have precious and magnificent promises that grant us to become partakers of His DIVINE NATURE !  More Kingdom qualities. 

5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
9  The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with youFor he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.

WOW again. 
So many believers remark they don't know the will of God, don't know how the Lord expects them to live....well, just these few  verses supply  plenty of guidelines to keep me busy for a lifetime. We have no legitimate excuse.

Paul, in Philippians 4 adds;
8 "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Each one of these characteristics needs to be defined, studied, pondered over and over. When the Lord tells me He will transform me through the power of the Holy Spirit that He has given me....I realize without His power there is NO way of truly changing myself. These qualities are huge, and deep, and change comes slowly. 
 BUT, the journey is exciting though difficult and often painful. The reward, the mind of Christ, eternal life, INCOMPREHENSIBLE! 

Monday, September 3, 2012

In His Image....

As I study and  ponder the purposes God has for man, God’s character, mans’ nature, I continue to be amazed and thankful to the Lord who created all things. Me.

Gruden writes:   Our Great Dignity as Bearers of God’s Image.

“It would be good for us to reflect on our likeness to God more often. It will probably amaze us to realize that when the Creator of the universe wanted to create something “in his image,” something more like Himself than all the rest of creation, He made us. This realization will give us a profound sense of dignity and significance as we reflect on the excellence of all the rest of God’s creation: the starry universe, the abundant earth, the world of plants and animals, and the angelic kingdoms are remarkable, even magnificent. But we are more like our Creator than any of these things. We are the culmination of God’s infinitely wise and skillful work of creation. Even though sin has greatly marred that likeness, we nonetheless now reflect much of it and shall even more as we grow in likeness to Christ.

Yet we must remember that even fallen, sinful man has the status of being in God’s image.  Every single human being, no matter how much the image of God is marred by sin, or illness, or weakness, or age, or any other disability, still has the status of being in God’s image and therefore must be treated with the dignity and respect that is due to God’s image-bearer. This has profound implications for our conduct toward others. It means that people of every race deserve equal dignity and rights. It means that elderly people, those seriously ill, the mentally retarded, and children yet unborn, deserve full protection and honor as human beings. If we ever deny our unique status in creation as God’s only image-bearers, we will soon begin to depreciate the value of human life, will tend to see humans as merely a higher form of animal, and will begin to treat others as such. We will also lose much of our sense of meaning in life.”

How far we have fallen in this great America that was  founded on so many Biblical precepts that were  believed and lived out by Godly men and women.  Now we have the darkness of Islam and other cults as a cloud over our country, rejection of God and atheism finding root in our thinking, becoming a nation of people who call evil, good and revel in our deceptions. We are in more danger from our  homegrown “terrorists” than outside “Taliban”. Shootings in elementary schools, neighborhood theaters  college campuses, medical clinics, neighborhood parks,  and churches. No sacred ground. Why we ask?  Because our mind-set as a nation (full of individuals)  is set on Self Glorification, Selfish Ambition,and Vain Conceit, rather than glorifying the Lord who holds all things together by the power of His Word. The Lord  reminds us of times past stating:

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Hosea 4:6

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight! Isaiah 5:21

How we need to gaze  into a new mirror cleaned off with God’s Truth, view ourselves as we  truly are, and cry out for the transforming and saving power of God. We must bend our knee in surrender to Him who can make all things new.