Category: Imitating Jesus

Ten – The Completed Work of Christ – p. 384

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May 21

Reasons why we don’t live in the fullness of God’s provision (cont.)

The constant struggle in Christianity is the desire (and practice) of attempting to blend the things of God with other things that are important to us. This can only lead us to being a double-minded person, a state described by James as…

James 1 4

We cannot experience the fullness of the provision of the new life, that God is offering freely to us, if we are trying to blend that life with other pursuits, practices, or beliefs.

The proper solution is to return to our first love (see Revelation 2:4) – to fully recognize the error of our ways, and restore our passion for a sincere and singular devotion to Jesus – and to His revealed truth. Jesus gave us one more amazing picture of a person who returns to a singular commitment and devotion to the Father – it is the prodigal son, and how he is lovingly received and restored back into the Father’s waiting arms (Luke 15:11-24).

the-prodigal-son

We must all realize that, at the heart of God’s desire for His people, is an astonishing premise. Our lives are meant to be a living testimony of the Person, and provision, of Our God. We are meant to be seen by the people of this world and, like a “city set on a hill, we are meant to draw them to the joy, security, and provision of the Most High King.

weighed downWe cannot do this properly, if we are constantly weighed down with sin, failures, addictions, and inconsistencies. We are divinely-called to represent the Most High – to be imitators of God. If this is true, then it only follows that the One Who calls us to this noble purpose would provide everything necessary for us to accomplish His purpose.

Christian disciples are called to walk and live just as Jesus walked and lived. To do this, we simply must have the ability to do so. This is exactly the wonderful message that God gives to us in the New Covenant. He has, indeed, given us everything we need for life and godliness – made possible because of His efforts, on our behalf, through Jesus.

Our part is to understand, embrace, and apply God’s provision in our lives. We must truly live as He intends His people to live – as the individual representatives of “God with us” in every generation, and in every place…

Ten – The Completed Work of Christ – p. 379

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May 14

A truth to live by…

A simple and profound truth captures our attention: we cannot truly be disciples of Jesus unless we are fully committed to being like Jesus – living just as Jesus lived, loving just as Jesus loved, speaking as Jesus spoke, and doing as Jesus did.

As we have continually mentioned in this work, Jesus Himself established this very standard: “It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.” (Matthew 10:25)

John, the apostle, also brought focus to this truth in his first inspired epistle:

In His steps

The apostle Paul was also inspired to echo this same standard: “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son…” (from Romans 8:29)

From all of these admonitions, we realize that it has always been God’s goal that His New Covenant people should live, on this earth, as nothing less than a literal imitation of The Christ, the Son of the Living God.

God’s desire is that we should all live and act just as Jesus did. To fulfill this desire, we cannot mislead ourselves by dwelling upon our human weaknesses, frailties, and shortcomings.

We also cannot afford the folly of seeking to achieve what God desires by earnestly applying human effort or resolve. God’s desire for us is never attained by human ability. We can only achieve what God wants for us by applying the fullness of God’s efforts towards us.

was vs is

The extremely good news of New Covenant Christianity is that God has fully and abundantly provided all that we need to live in His desire of conforming us to the likeness of His Son. He has already accomplished what was needed to enable us to “walk as Jesus did.”

This truth emerges: we cannot be what God has called us to be unless we learn to live our lives in the fullness of the provision of the new kind of life He has provided to us. The goal of this chapter is to discover, understand, and apply the full provision of God, to our Christian lives…

Ten – The Completed Work of Christ – p. 377

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May 9

A God of full provision (cont.)

The abundance of God’s provision to us is even more amazing when we take the time to consider what God requires of His New Covenant people. God commands His people to do many things that are just not humanly possible. A brief overview of the New Testament reveals that the will of God, for His people, carries some incredibly high expectations and standards…

jesus-2Jesus commanded His disciples to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” and to, “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (from Matthew 5:44, 48)

apostle paul writesPaul, the apostle, was inspired to offer these commands: “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love… be made new in the attitude of your minds…” and, “be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children…” and also, “be joyful always…” (from Ephesians 4:2, 23; 5:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:16)

PeterThe apostle Peter also offered God’s commands: “be self-controlled…” and, “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.’” (from 1 Peter 1:13-16)

Most Christians have been ingrained with the notion that these types of commands are simply impossible to keep. Who can ever be perfect? Who can possibly be completely humble and gentle – or always joyful? How can we ever possibly hope to be imitators of God? And how is it even remotely possible to be holy at all times, and in all we do?

Many Christians have accepted that it is these types of pursuits that can only lead us to colossal failure in our attempts to be obedient. After all, God knows, we are only human. We are prone to shortcomings, weakness, and failure every day of our lives.

were-only-human

Such things as perfection, complete humility, perpetual joy, continual self-control, and abiding holiness are standards just too lofty for mortal men to attain. We are left to ponder: how could God ever command us to do things that we are just not able to do?

But He certainly does. And what is more, what He commands… He expects us to do.

This tells us something vitally important. These seemingly impossible commands are really the very centerpiece of what it means to be Christlike.

Christlike

Jesus did not come to this earth to offer sage advice on how we can all be better people – He came to embody the fullness of the character and power of God.

He came to be “God with us.” Jesus came to reveal God as He really is, and to reveal the kind of life that is actually available to all who would see the vanity of human effort and the total inadequacy of human ability…

 

Nine – Our Purpose, pt. 2 – p. 372

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May 2

Direct encounter with darkness (cont.)

True Christianity rises from this undeniable connection between the message and the power behind that message. Jesus’ words were backed by Jesus’ works – all flowing from the Heart of the One True King seeking to bring His Kingdom rule to this earth. We cannot read of our Lord, in the gospels, or of the disciples in the early Church, and not see the vital importance of this connection between the message and God’s power.

jesus-healing-the-sick

What we see in Jesus should, and must, be seen in every generation of His Church. As Jesus was, so are we – no more, no less. As Jesus came and brought the rule of the King to nearly everyone He encountered, so also should all the sons and daughters of the King. This was always God’s intention for His New Covenant people. Ministry today ought to have the same color and flavor of the ministry of our Lord Jesus. “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6)

As Jesus looked around at those afflicted in His day, He saw how the rule of the usurper had devastated those souls. He also knew the will of the King – and of His desire to bring wholeness and fullness of life to every human soul. But Jesus did far more than merely observe those afflicted around Him – He acted upon what He saw, and actively brought the rule of the True King into the situations of those afflicted by the usurper’s tyranny.

jesus-heals-leper

The eternal Son of God came to this earth as a human man for just such a purpose. This is verified by the apostle: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8)

The devil’s work may be properly defined as anything that opposes the will, and the rule, of the One True King. Jesus appeared among us to destroy this usurper’s work. The culmination of Jesus’ earthly appearance was His death upon the cross, with its distinct purpose:

Hebr 2 14-15

Jesus came to this earth to bring the Kingdom of God to all humanity. In His death, He utterly destroyed the dominion of the devil. And with His life and ministry, He gave a constant and dynamic demonstration of what the rule of the King would look like in the lives of those who are wholly devoted to the King.

True Christians are those who have come to understand that the work of the Church is all about representing an accurate picture of The True King, and of what He is able to do for every person. The needs of the afflicted should be met by those who represent the One Who deserves to rule over all things. Christians are the redeemed of the Lord so that we can genuinely, and accurately, represent Him on this earth – just as the true sons of the Living God should do…

Nine – Our Purpose, pt. 2 – p. 371

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May 1

The third way in which we may participate in Kingdom work is…

Direct encounter with darkness

casting out demons

There are times when we must directly act to implement the King’s will. We are not only called to pray, and called to give testimony, but we are also (at times) called to interact with the needs and circumstances around us – to bring the will of the King into direct encounter with those in need. There are moments when the advancement of the Kingdom of God requires the power of The King.

God not only desires to assert His will on this earth, He also has the power to do so. The gospel of the Kingdom declares the King’s desire to openly display His Kingly qualities – and reveal the ample benefits of His Kingdom rule. God, the King, is good and loving and nurturing. But He is also almighty and powerful. His ability is unlimited. The Kingdom of God is about the full discovery of the power of God at work in the lives of those who need to experience His infinite goodness and love.

This is another of those defining characteristics of the ministry of our Lord in His time among us. Peter, in his message to Cornelius and his friends, brought this summation of Jesus’ ministry: “You know… how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him.” (from Acts 10:37-38)

Jesus heals 2

Jesus Himself testified: “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’” (Luke 4:18-19) As was stated before, The Lord’s message of deliverance, liberation and healing came with a demonstration of the power of the King, behind that message. Jesus did not just come and offer the promise of liberty to the captives – He came and gave undeniable evidence of the power behind that promise.

The gospel itself is a promise based upon the power and trustworthiness of God. It has the power to set us free only because there is a King behind this gospel Who empowers it to set us free. The gospel of the Kingdom comes with a guarantee and a demonstration of the power of the King of that Kingdom – and we cannot separate these things from each other. The message of the King, without the power of the King, is only empty talk and shallow promises.

empty talk

The apostle warned of a powerless message when he was inspired to say: “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20) The promise of a king, who shows no power to back up what he says, offers no incentive to any listener. What is more, faith in the power of a powerless king only deludes and deceives those who are devoted to Him…

Nine – Our Purpose, pt. 2 – p. 368

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April 25

Prayer (cont.)

James was inspired to instruct us that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) True righteousness is centered in the focus of what the King desires – and powerful and effective prayers are always centered in the will, and rule, of the King.

John was inspired to teach us that:

prayer effective

The goal is always effective prayer – prayer that results in the Almighty working to effect and impact the things of this earth. The key to this type of powerful and effective prayer is the will of the King. When we discover His will, know His will, and pray His will – we can be assured that “we have what we asked of Him.”

Our Lord Jesus prayed. There is no doubt that prayer held a significant place within His life. There is also no doubt that prayer was a vital part in the effectiveness of His earthly ministry. He knew the Father’s will. He sought out the King’s desires. He prayed according to the King’s will, and He saw the King’s results come to life through His ministry.

jesus pray

As Jesus did, so all true disciples are called to do.

If Jesus was devoted to prayer, we should also be devoted to prayer. This was exactly what we found in the early days of The Church (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 4:24, 31). All the disciples were devoted to prayer – to seeking out the King, and gaining a knowledge and an understanding of His will. Empowered by this understanding, The Church (led by the apostles) lived in the awe of seeing the Almighty move in power, daily. In only a brief time, the world around them was dramatically touched and impacted by the power and presence of God, in, among, and through His people. And at the heart of all this wondrous divine activity was prayer – the direct communication between the Almighty King, and His people.

Nine – Our Purpose, pt. 2 – p. 356

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April 8

The importance of divine authority

Jesus came to this earth with the authority to represent the Most High, and to perform His will and His work upon this earth. This is the summation of Jesus’ earthly ministry. But Jesus always had every intention of passing on this assignment to those who would surrender themselves to Him. We find affirmation of this fact when we see a vital part of the disciples’ training unfold.

12 apostles

This one fact emerges: the ministry of Jesus’ disciples unfolded and occurred just as Jesus had demonstrated to them. When Jesus sent them out, their ministry was just as effective and productive as His ministry. This was exactly as Jesus had purposed and intended. This was His plan for His people – for all those who would commit their hearts and lives to Him and to His purposes.

But so that we would not conclude that Jesus intended this effective ministry only for the chosen twelve we also read:

jesus_sends_72

What were the results of the ministry of the seventy-two? “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your Name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you…” (from Luke 10:17-19).

12-return.jpg

Once again, we see the intentions of Jesus unfold for those committed to Him and to His purposes. Jesus’ disciples are meant to impact the world with God’s love and God’s power – just as their Lord did before them. They are intended to bring God’s touch to those who desperately need Him – and they are meant to be the ambassadors of the rule of God for those long subjugated to, and ravaged by, the powers of darkness.

All this is just as Jesus Himself had done. All this is only possible through the power of divine authority given to submitted subjects of the One True King. As Jesus was submitted to the rule of the King (in His time of earthly ministry), so also those who are devoted to Jesus must be similarly submitted to His rule. Those wholly submitted to Jesus are true disciples of Jesus – fully committed to the passions and purposes of their Master.