How Have You Changed?

1978 HHSOld pictures are funny. Thus the picture of this guy who graduated high school in 1978. If you laugh, I will call my cousin Guido in Chicago and have him bring his friend “Crowbar” to fit you for concrete boots!

People change over time… not just physically, but also as a person. One who was harsh, may now be gracious.  One who was caustic, may now be encouraging. One who was cold, may now be friendly and engaging. People change over time. On that point, aren’t you glad you aren’t now like you once were?

Pictures are snapshots from the past. Likewise, how we remember people may very well NOT be who they are today. It might be a good idea to consider viewing people as a motion picture rather than a still photo. As movies give a running representation of a story, so too people should be understood as morphing over the years.

This is especially true for Christians. When a person is saved, Jesus begins a work of transformation over time to conform them to His image. He does away with the old person, and makes them new… in HIS likeness. The answer to the age-old question, “Can a leopard change its spots?” is no… BUT GOD DOES. Thus Paul from 1 Cor 6:9-11…

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such WERE some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

As God has changed… and is changing you, God is also changing others. Don’t judge them by the picture you have in your mind from weeks, months, or years ago. Accept them as a work in progress The Father is transforming… JUST LIKE YOURSELF.

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Sound Bite Christianity

SBOur attention span is short… 140 characters short… which can be called “Sound Bite Christianity.” By contrast many Christians know the best way to encounter God substantially is in solitude… over time… reflecting on His Word… through prayer.

Christians who are most mature, holy, and godly are those who are adept at reading Scripture and meditating on it for an extended period of time. Those who are most well-adjusted can reflect on God and His Truth for hours at a time. These people are satisfied most by fellowship with God Himself. They have come to understand what is meant by… “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10).

Those who want to know God and the power of the resurrection, are going to have to marginalize a Twitter type faith. They’ll have to invest more time than a few isolated minutes during a day with God. They must learn to read… reflect… and meditate deeply on God. They must redeem the time each day so that walking with God is the priority of their life as is found in…

Mt 6:33 Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…

Mt 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Deut 6:5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

2 Tim 2:7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Those who want a watered down faith will have the power that comes along with it.

Spit In The Eye Is Good!

John 9:1 As (Jesus) passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 6 Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

Yesterday blind spots were introduced. Today a process for dealing with them will be suggested… not for the faint of heart or soul. Sometimes it takes something that seems odd or offensive to enable seeing. Jesus made mud out of spit… put it on a man’s eyes… so he could be healed of blindness. Metaphorically it takes mud in our eyes… made out of spit… for us to see.

OOSConsider, if everyone is out of step BUT YOU, maybe YOU are the one out of step! So what to do? Here are four thoughts…

Ask For God’s Help. Unless God REVEALS to you your blind spots, you will NOT EVER admit their presence. Your mom and dad tried to tell you about them and you ignored them. Your spouse has told you, and you dismissed that thought also. You need a supernatural revelation from God to see the truth about yourself.

Ask A Friend For Help. You will have to press your friend kind of hard for them to be honest with you. They would prefer to keep you as a friend. So press them… listen to them… consider IF they are honest with you it is proof they love you.

Consider Your Contribution To Problems You’ve Had. Contrary to what we think, we’re not always right… perfect… or completely innocent! In every problem there are two sides with the truth somewhere in the middle. Rather than blaming others for their faults and mistakes, look for your contribution to the situation. Then work towards reconciliation, forgiveness, and restoration.

Last, Get Ready For A Bumpy Ride of Love. I asked God for 18 months to show me my blind spots one time. He finally did. And after three weeks I asked Him to please stop. I couldn’t take it. It hurt too much. However, the end result was (As is continuing) to be a great blessing. As it is written in Hebrews 12:10…

(God) disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Seven Encouraging Truths

TtRthRUTH 1: Everything is for God’s glory

Therefore: Everything God causes or allows is first and ultimately for His glory.

Personal Application: As you strive toward the goal of glorifying God in everything, you are able to rejoice in God being glorified in and through your personal circumstances.

Scripture: 1 Chron 16:35; Ps 19:1-3, 57:5, 11; 79:9; 106:47; 108:5; 115:1; Is 42:8; 48:11.; Jn 12:28

TRUTH 2: God loves you and this truth will never change

Therefore: Everything that happens to you comes from God who loves you.

Personal Application: “Just because you don’t see how something can be good doesn’t mean it isn’t good” (Tim Keller).

Scripture: Ro 8:31-39; 1 Jn 4:16; Mt 7:7-11; Jn 3:16; Ja 1:17

TRUTH 3: Everything is for your ultimate eternal good

Therefore: Since God is your ultimate good, everything is working to conform you to the image of Christ, which results in holiness and godliness, which glorifies God.

Personal Application: You are able to rejoice in all things knowing what God will accomplish.

Scripture: Ro 8:28-29; Phil 2:13; Ja 1:2-4

TRUTH 4: God is in control of you, your circumstances, everyone else, and all life events

Therefore: There is no need to worry or be anxious because the one who loves you is in control, is sovereign, and providential in all things. See #3 above.

Personal Application: All you can do is all you can do and all you can do is enough. Therefore rest in Christ (Mt 11:28-30).

Scripture: Isaiah 46:9-10; Daniel 4:35-36; Phil 4:4-6

TRUTH 5: Trust God unconditionally

Therefore: God knows better than you what is best, proper, right, and needed. Therefore do not worry about God getting “it” right, He always does.

Personal Application: You can live your life in God’s Sabbath rest.

Scripture: Mt 11:28-30; Pr 3:5; Heb 11:1-2; 4:9-10

TRUTH 6: Satan can only do what God allows (See #1-5 above)

Therefore: Do not fear Satan at any time over anything.

Personal Application: God uses Satan to bring about your sanctification and His perfect will.

Scripture: Job 1-2; Mt 12:28-29; 1 Jn 4:4-B

TRUTH 7: Expect hardship as part of God’s call… to increase your joy and rewards

Therefore: You can rejoice in this life knowing what awaits you (Col 3:1-3).

Personal Application: Live to hear God say, “Well done!” (Mt 25:21).

Scripture: Mt 5:10-12; Jn 15:20; Ro 8:16-18; 2 Cor 12:9-10; Phil 1:29; 1 Pet 4:12-14, 2:19-21

Passing The Test

EviIn 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul writes to test and examine ourselves for proof that Christ is IN us. He writes a person is saved “Unless they fail the test.” While musing on what “Christ In You” looks like, I settled on a few things to test myself on. I think these MAY be in order of importance:

A passionate love for God from deep in the heart…

Sacrificial love for others, especially enemies…

An intimate walk with God through Scripture, prayer, and meditation…

An insatiable hunger for righteousness…

Personal holiness in thought, mind, and conduct…

Complete rest in Christ relying on God’s providence and sovereignty…

A heart that quickly repents and readily forgives…

Continued growth in all these things (2 Peter 1:8-A).

Baptism isn’t proof of salvation. Neither is right doctrine or denominational affiliation. Instead salvation is a matter of the heart. Our attitudes which originate in the heart are proof of a life transformed by the Holy Spirit.

An Eternal Regret

RegImagine remembering… for eternity… in hell… the time when you could have been saved, but decided not to. Imagine remembering… for eternity… choosing to walk away from the one person (Jesus) who would have saved you, but you rejected him and his offer. Imagine have a regret of that magnitude… for all eternity.

There was a man who came to the right person (Jesus), with the right attitude (Kneeling), asking the right question (How can I inherit eternal life?). And walked away worse than when he was before. He missed heaven because of idolatry. Consider Mark 10:17-22…

And as (Jesus) was setting out on his journey, a man ran up & knelt before him &asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father & mother.'” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, & said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have & give to the poor, & you will have treasure in heaven; & come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

He missed being saved by “just that much”… because the idol of his heart was money and possessions.

His regret is valuing money and possessions more than Jesus. For others it is reputation or family or… or… or. The sad thing is that no one is able to recognize the presence of an idol in their life unless it is revealed to them. Idols hide in our blind spots of rationalization and justification. After all, were not all THAT bad. There are others who are much worse than we are morally. We do good things ever so often. Like the mafia hit man, “I may kill people for a living… but I love my mother!”

Oh God deliver us from blindness to our sin of idolatry hiding in our blind spot!

“Ah-HA!”

Gal 2 20Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

“The only haven of safety is to have no other will, no other wisdom, than to follow the Lord wherever He leads. Let this, then, be the first step… to abandon ourselves and devote the whole energy of our minds to the service of God.” (John Calvin)

Single-minded and joyous devotion to God and His will, to what God wants for us… and to service to Him and to others because of Him… is what the will transformed into Christ looks like. That is the outcome of spiritual formation with reference to the will, heart, or spirit. And this outcome becomes our character when it has become the governing response of every dimension of our being. Then we can truely be said to have “Put on Christ.”

Renovation Of The Heart, page 143.