Tag Archive | focus

The Likeness of Christ

s“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” Genesis 1:26a (NIV)

I love this verse! Let US make man in OUR image, in OUR likeness. God is the creator of the universe, of everything in it and He, the Father, Son and Spirit, decide to make people. And not just any people, but people who are made in His image, who are created to be “like” Him.

Everything in the Bible is based on two things: relationships and love. They are at the center of every story. How we live together and how well we love in the process. This isn’t just between us as people, but between us and God as well.

God is love. (1 John 4:8) The very first image of God’s love for us is found in the first chapter when He makes man and then woman so he wouldn’t be alone. We don’t know what it’s like to be God, so we have each other to relate to and live with in a different way than we live with God. Genesis 2 goes into more detail on the making of both man and woman and then finishes up with a picture of how we are to live together and love as men and women.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

So if we are made in his likeness, we should be doing things like He does them. Ultimately, we should be loving Him and each other as He first loved us. Our relationship matters to God. They should matter to us as well!

My husband and I, with a group of friends, recently completed a marriage study titled The Art of Marriage. We were excited to learn what it really looked like to have a God-centered, God-honoring marriage. Not that we haven’t considered it or done other studies on marriage before. We are just in a new place in our walk with Jesus and we really hadn’t been intentional about it for some time.

We went to the first session and got so much out of the teaching, had great group discussion and really felt like we were moving forward. Then, we had to actually talk to each other about the topic and lesson…

This shouldn’t have come as any surprise to us; I just don’t think we thought that far ahead. Maybe we were in denial. Maybe we thought all the years of communication issues (one of our friends had actually nick-named us The Bickerson’s) would just disappear because we wanted to do it God’s way. Maybe we just hoped this time it would be different.

In our group, we had decided that each week a different couple would lead the discussion. Since we had already done session 1, there were 5 sessions remaining and 5 couples in the group, we would have the couple who had been married the longest lead the next lesson, second longest the next and so on. As it turned out, we had been married the third longest so we got the lesson on, of all things, communication and conflict. God definitely has a sense of humor.

And God knows what He’s doing. In everything, He loves, teaches, corrects, and encourages. We did have some difficult times communicating and may even have had some conflicts come up. But this time, we focused on God’s desire for us to love each other and His purpose for our marriage. We made it through with barely a hint of a scratch! We discovered some new ways to communicate and are set on trusting each other for good first!

Something to Consider…

God created you to be in relationship with Him. He loves you deeply and cares about you. How well do you nurture and care for your relationship with Him? Do you love Him first before all things? Consider what you can do to love Him well and keep Him first in your life.

Marriage reflects Gods love for each of us to our spouse. We are Christ in flesh for each other. If you are married, how well do you nurture and care for relationship with your spouse? Does what you do or how well you love depend on the other persons willingness to do the same? Choose to do your part well so your spouse knows they can trust you for good.

If you’re not married, you still live in relationship with many other people. We all do. How well do you nurture and care for the other relationships in your life? Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, people with whom you volunteer, clients you serve, the stranger on the street all need encouragement and love. While we shouldn’t give to get, we do reap what we sow, so be sure to love others well. We don’t need to be married to be the likeness of Christ to others!

Resolutions

Garden Path and Gate“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51 (NIV)

I’m looking forward to what this new year will bring and what new resolutions I will be making. I so often feel like I don’t accomplish my resolutions and I wondered how I had done on those I had made this past year.

As I looked back at two of my posts transitioning from 2011 to 2012, I realized I had really only made two resolutions. One was about getting rid of the old. This included old stuff as well as old attitudes. The other was to be resolved to know Christ more.

They are both hard to measure. Have I ever really reached the end of getting rid of bad attitudes? Somehow they creep back and settle on in. I continue to accumulate stuff so at some point it will all be old as well. When do I know I know Christ more? There will never be an end to what there is to know so how do I move forward in what I do know trusting even in what I don’t?

As I type this blog, my youngest daughter is cleaning out her room. For anyone who knows her, she is organized, responsible, and diligent. What they don’t see is her room: the one place she doesn’t care to care about. Her comment today about the amount of stuff in her room, on the floor and taking up space was, “If I have a bed to collapse on, I’m good!”

Unfortunately, I care about the state of her room so over the school break she is dusting, vacuuming and reorganizing which includes going through every piece of clothing and memorabilia she has. In the process of just doing it, she has found “the zone” and is ready to get rid of anything and everything taking up space without a purpose.

It’s fabulous! I’m grinning from ear to ear!

As we have drawn closer to the end of the year, I realize that there are many attitudes and behaviors I want to be rid of. It isn’t that there is no purpose in the attitude, the purpose just isn’t a good one.

Did I fall short of past my resolution? Did I not really care about this resolution? I have over this past year felt irritated, judgmental, critical, prideful, and unloving. I have said things I shouldn’t have and not said things I should. I have left things undone and done too many things I wish I wouldn’t have. I did not clean out the closets, clean up my house or put myself through an extreme makeover.

But, I did grow closer to God and have come to know Christ more. I backed off a bit on blogging but did write a new Bible study which taught me about the resolution of Jesus.

He had one mission: to reconcile the world to God. In order to accomplish this, He had to be resolved to follow every leading of His Father. Jesus was resolved.

I also realize that the only way I can truly be resolved to shed the old is to know Jesus more.

“Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (GW)

He is the “zone” I need to be in so that I can let go of the old. If I want my old attitude to be made new, I need to be in Christ. I won’t be perfect, but He will continue to work in me. My willingness to be resolved begins with my willingness to abide and stay close to Jesus.

That is my first resolution for this year, to abide in Christ.

Something to Consider…

Resolutions are not just wishes we hope will come true. They are decisions we make based on a firm purpose and determination. We know it matters even if we don’t always know why it matters. We choose to do, not just wish.

Be resolved to abide in Christ. What does this mean in your life? What does it look like? What can you do to draw near to God knowing He will draw near to you?

Be resolved to follow His leading in your life. Every decision results in an action; even inaction is a choice. Because you are abiding, you will be able to better recognize when God shows you an area of your life that He wants to make new. Decide to do what He says and follow His lead.

What’s on Your Mind?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

The first time I gave a brief testimony, I said, “I don’t talk a lot; but when I talk, I talk a lot.” I wish I could say this about what I think. Unfortunately, I tend to think a lot about a lot of things. My husband tells me I think too much. And in many ways, he’s correct. I can sit on something and give it room and power in my mind when it has no business being there. I worry over things I can’t change, re-live situations that are over and done with and ponder things that could be, might be and I hope aren’t.

There are also times when I feel like there is no time to think. I am overwhelmed, stressed out and in constant motion. I have no time to make sense of what needs to be done. My mind is going non-stop wearing me out and wearing me down.

We often seem to think that we can’t help what we think about. We’re just sitting there minding our own business when suddenly we remember a situation, a comment, something that was done to us and we consider it. We let it take up space, take up time and take up energy that could be better spent on something good.

We want to set the record straight. We want to see a right outcome. We want what is good but our thoughts about how to get there are full of bitterness, frustration, anger and our ultimate goal is to prove we are right.

So what thoughts constitute what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy?

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2

Psalm 1:2 says the blessed man keeps his mind on God and His Word. His Word guides and directs our steps and actions. (Psalm 119:35,105)

“I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.” Psalm 119:15

God’s way of handling any situation is worthy of praise. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) That is excellent!

When we choose to do what God says even if we don’t know how it will bring about a right outcome, we get ourselves back into alignment with His truth. As we choose to love God and others as He loves us, our mind goes to what is noble, right and lovely.

Something to Consider…

What thoughts are on your mind? Often, what we see is what we think about. Ask God to show you how to see your circumstance and relationships though the lens of His Word.

 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16

At some point, we need to stop thinking so much and start doing. Laying down our life doesn’t necessarily mean we physically die for another, but rather we set aside our agenda for the benefit of someone else. Our actions in love can change not only our own thoughts, but our hearts and the thoughts and hearts of others as well.

Where is Your God?

“My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” Psalm 42:10 (NIV)

“Why is God silent? Why won’t He intervene and do something to change this situation?”

Sound familiar? There are so many times we may wonder where God has gone. We’ve asked Him to do something, yet we wait and wait; and nothing for what seems like so long.

Daniel, a young man of noble birth, a captive in Babylon, was greatly concerned for the future of his people. He prayed faithfully for twenty-one days; then an angel of the Lord came to him. He prayed three full weeks, never giving up…faithfully. How soon do you get frustrated and want to give up? Assume the answer is no and move on? Maybe you keep it up a couple of days, a week; but three full weeks? What if it had been longer? It could’ve been you know. Some of us have been trying to stay faithful for years.

There are times when I wonder if in my waiting, in my impatience, I made a decision out of frustration rather than faith. Or maybe, I was too hesitant to step into what God had for me. We can pray for an answer – for God to do something; but sometimes we need to step out in faith first.

We never know the day or hour God will answer the prayer we pray with the deepest longing for a desired outcome. When the answer finally comes, we look back and can think it really wasn’t so long but in the middle of it all, it feels like forever. We can wonder why we ever doubted.

When a messenger finally comes with the answer to Daniel’s prayer, he fills Daniel in on what’s been going on.

“Then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.’” Daniel 10:12 (NIV)

While Daniel prayed and fasted, the Prince of the Persian kingdom resisted the angel. There is a battle going on around us all the time. We don’t always know what other circumstances are holding up our answer. Others decisions and actions affect our circumstances as well. We can’t see it and we don’t understand it but we can often feel and see the results.

The message of hope in this passage is since the first day Daniel set his mind to gain understanding and humble himself, his words were heard. From the very first moment he turned to God in his situation, God heard him and began to work. While we may feel alone in the battle with nothing to do but wait, God hears us. He is responding in ways we don’t see and don’t  understand. When we set our mind to gain understanding, it means we want to understand God’s plan, not our own. When we humble ourselves, we give up our will for His.

What do you have your mind set on? Is your attitude one of humility or pride? Are you able to trust in and wait on the Lord knowing He is at work?

Something to Consider…

Are you waiting on God to answer a long felt prayer? Is He asking you to step out in faith to set your answer in motion? When praying, choose to remain faithful, seek God’s understanding of the situation and humble yourself to His will.

Where is your God? Remember, He is with you always, He hears you and He is at work in ways you can’t comprehend.

Wait Quietly

“It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25 (NIV)

There was a day when Jesus had not yet come. God had promised a Messiah. So much time had passed but still He wasn’t here. All people could do was look ahead and believe the promise was real. Too often though, people looked away from the promise and started doing their own thing.

What do you do when you wait? Do you start to get impatient, frustrated, or angry? Think you need to start making things happen or they never will? Do you tell everyone else how unfair it is that you aren’t getting what you want? I know sometimes I just want to vent, let it out to anyone who will listen. What I really want is to know there is someone else who understands and cares.

God’s Word says it’s good to wait quietly. Is there anything more important in this world than where you will be for all eternity? If we are to wait quietly on the Lord for this, for what else should we be quietly waiting?

To wait is to rest in expectation and patience for a certain outcome or event. At the same time, observing and taking notice in order to be ready to act or serve in obedience. If what we are waiting for does not line up with or serve the Lord’s purpose, we need to be willing to reconsider the desired outcome. When waiting, at some point we will be called to action.

To be quiet is to be peaceable and content, not giving reason for offense or exciting controversy, disorder or trouble. When we are quiet, our emotions do not get the best of us. We have security in the fact that God understands and cares for us.

We often think waiting means inactivity and quiet means silent. We feel stuck, unable to do or say anything. But that is not the case. The truth is we move forward doing and speaking while seeking God’s way, not our own. When an opportunity presents itself, we step into it with the full security that our God is with us.

Have you been running full steam ahead without seeing the results you desire? Does your mouth seem to get you in trouble more often than not? When you feel like you can’t stop, that may be exactly what you need to do.

Something to Consider…

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11

God already has a plan in mind for you. His plans are better than any plan we can even fathom. Do you feel like you are at a standstill with your own plans, not getting anywhere and tired of trying? God knows and cares. Decide to wait quietly on the Lord. Let Him show you His plans. Spend some time quietly waiting on God, listening to what He has to say. Choose to be ready, willing and able to move forward in obedience being confident He is with you.