Archive for August, 2012

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”

– Luke 9:51 NIV

Do you have a verse that you’ve adopted that has become food for you to inspire you in your effort to be a living sacrifice for Jesus? One of mine is Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” There are others, but Galatians 2:20 is a consistent reminder of the necessary attitude required to be a living sacrifice for Jesus. Luke 9:51 reminds me that I must resolve within myself who I am willing to be as a follower of Christ, understanding that being a believer will not exempt me from misfortune, grief and injustice.

In fact, intimate time spent reading and reflecting upon what is revealed in God’s word tells me that I should prepare to face troubles as one who professes to be a believer. “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” – Philippians 1:29 NIV I understand suffering for Christ to be the reality of what we will face in sincerely seeking to live by faith instead of going our own way. Jesus said in this life we will have troubles (John 14). So there are normal external challenges everyone will face whether they have faith in Christ or not. Then there are the internal unseen challenges we will face as sincere believers seeking to be living sacrifices. Those who respond to Christ’s invitation to deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow Christ, will undergo an internal suffering that crucifies the sinful nature in the process of being transformed more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. There is a ‘spiritual frustration’ we encounter as we wrestle with our flesh to keep in step with the Spirit.

In Luke’s gospel, we discover that the scripture reveals that Jesus resolved to go towards the place of suffering He was destined to encounter that would ultimately lead to His greatest victory and victory for everyone who believes. Becoming a living sacrifice forJesus requires a passionate, relentless pursuit of perfection fueled by an internal resolve to willingly face any encounter, understanding it will ultimately lead to victory! “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” – Romans 8:18-21 NIV

May God instill within you the relentless attitude, determination and resolve that will empower you to walk by faith, as a living sacrifice, so you may experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

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“‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.'”

– John 4:34 NIV

The life experiences of my faith walk with God has taught me that I need to have ambition to be effective and productive in my faith walk as I aspire to succeed and achieve in every other area, or aspect, of life. In fact, without a sincere passionate desire to live victoriously, every other aspect, or area, of life may be impacted. During the most difficult and dark times in my faith walk, transitioning through separation and divorce, I had resolved that I needed to see myself in a better place in order to get through what I would face encountering separation and divorce.

What I receive from what Jesus declares in John 4:34 is His passion for living the way God had ordained for Him to live. Jesus described it as His food. What sustained Jesus in His ability to live according to His Father’s will for His life was His passion to do what His Father desired. Jesus was nourished by His understanding of what the benefits and outcome would be for adhering to His Father’s will that provided Him the strength, vitality and energy He would need to walk by faith! “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life-only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” – John 10:17-18 NIV Jesus was filled with the assurance of His Father’s love for Him that reaffirmed His trust in His Father’s promise that He would live no matter what He faced. Fueled by His passion and filled with His Father’s love, Jesus was satisfied and confident in the outcome of doing the will of His Father regardless of the outcome of His circumstances, because He believed in His Father’s authority to raise Him from death.

As a believer and follower of Christ, the beauty of reflecting on the person of Jesus Christ revealed in the scriptures, is to understand that He now lives in me and I can share in the same food He lived by in order to experience the same outcomes He did! I can now share in the same passion for doing the will of the Father as Christ lived by. I can become filled with the same assurance of the Father’s love for me as Jesus was filled. I can become nourished, by God’s word, and become strengthened in my faith walk with the same energy and vitality Jesus encountered to walk by faith. No matter what I face in this life, I can live with the trust and confidence in the Father’s authority to raise me up from any and every circumstance I face as Jesus declared, because the Father is faithful and provided the life and legacy of His Son to ensure I could trust Him and experience the extraordinary life Jesus encountered!

May God bless you and help you to live with passion to do His will so you may be filled with His love and nourished by His word, growing in confidence and trust in His faithfulness, to experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”

– Ephesians 2:1-2 NIV

Since the beginning of time it has been God’s intention for us to bear His image in the earth. At the same time, it has been the devil’s intention to inhibit and prohibit us from encountering the extraordinary that God has destined for those to step into who believe. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat fruit from any tree in the garden? You will not surely die, the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'” – Genesis 3:1, 4-5 NIV

The devil deceived Eve into believing that she could attain the fulfillment of being an image bearer, becoming like God, by another means. Knowledge is power, but knowledge alone is insufficient in helping us to achieve the extraordinary encounter God has destined for us who believe. “We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.” – 1 Corinthians 8:2-3 NIV Consider this, Eve could have easily gone to God to attain knowledge, if knowledge alone would have been the means by which she would become like God. Eve made two grave mistakes that we could learn to benefit from in order to consistently live the victorious spiritual life. Eve listened to the devil long enough to consider that maybe what God said was not true. She began to lean to her own understanding that led to her and Adam’s destruction.

Even God said, through the prophet Hosea, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” – Hosea 4:6 NIV The devil wants to distract, discourage and create disillusionment within us to dissuade us from embracing the grace and truth of who God is and who we are in Him, through faith in Christ, to prevent us from stepping into the extraordinary encounter God has destined for us who believe. The more we invest quality quiet time with God, in His word and in prayer, the more we avail ourselves to God’s power, wisdom and guidance to help us live victoriously and experience the greatness He promises to those who are willing to adhere to His counsel. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” – James 1:22 NIV

May God bless you and help you to step into the greatness of the extraordinary encounter He has destined for you in your faith walk with Him so you may experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

– Acts 4:13 NIV

In the beginning, it was God’s intention for us to be like Him according to Genesis 1:26-27, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in our likeness.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Out of the ordinary dust of the ground, God created something extraordinary, male and female, and breathed into them the breath of life and they became alive! “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” – Genesis 2:7 NIV

Since the fall of man, when Adam and Eve were deceived by the serpent, the devil,  and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it has been God’s intention to restore us back to the original state of the purpose He intended for us to walk in, in the beginning, to bear His image and likeness in the earth. “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” – Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV Just as God performed the extraordinary act of raising up a living soul from the dust of the ground during the time of Creation, God desires to do something extraordinary in and through those who believe, in our generation, for the display of His splendor, that we might bear His image and likeness as we walk with Him by faith. Since the beginning of time, God has invited mankind to encounter the extraordinary life of Jesus Christ by confessing belief in Him as the Son of God, raised from death to life, so we may be raised with Him to live victoriously. As we believe and walk by faith, others will take note that we have been with Jesus!

In the book of Acts, Peter and John had overcome their past of falling short of who they desired to be as a follower of Jesus Christ. Despite Peter’s denial of Christ and John deserting Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, they were strengthened in their faith. After Christ’s resurrection and ascension into heaven, Peter and John encountered boldness and courage that would propel them to do extraordinary things. This occurred after they received the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. As we transition into Christ and the life God has destined for us to step into, we will encounter the extraordinary manifestation of God’s power, grace and mercy, by the redemptive regenerative work of His Spirit living in us, that will help us live the victorious spiritual life God proclaims in His word and promises to those who believe!

May God bless you and help you to grow in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, by the empowerment of His Holy Spirit, that will enable you to encounter the extraordinary in your faith walk so you may experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

– Galatians 2:20 NIV

Jesus Christ gave Himself over to death for my sake so I would be able to live for Him. I am to present myself before God, through faith in Christ, as a living sacrifice. The means by which I present myself is through prayer. The way Jesus explained it was to take up my cross daily, deny myself and follow Him. It is a lifestyle of surrender prompted by an attitude of humility. Sincere prayer is an act of humility, because it is a reverential acknowledgement that God is who He says He is and a genuine expression of dependency for God to do what He says He will do which includes being transformed more into the likeness of His Son. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6 NIV

God has desires for me He seeks to satisfy in the process of satisfying my desires with good things. I must make sure my desires, when I pray, include what His will is for me, otherwise, my desires become a Christmas list of wishes with no consideration for what God desires from me in return for what I seek from Him. The Apostle Paul explained it this way, “Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV As I mature in my faith walk with Christ, I am compelled to give greater consideration to how I can spend and invest my life for the advancement of God’s kingdom in the earth as I express to God my desire for Him to advance me with my dreams, goals and ambitions.

“For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:32-33 NIV Earlier in my Christian walk I came across two separate Lexus ad campaigns that I felt summarized the principle of being a living sacrifice. Their ads read, ‘The Passionate…’ and ‘The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection.’ Someone who is sincere in being a living sacrifice embraces and embodies the principles of being relentless and passionate in becoming like Jesus. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:14 NIV

May God bless you and help you to grow in the grace and truth of Christ becoming more like Him, in attitude and actions, so you may experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

Philippians 2:15 NIV

The way I read Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God.”It is saying to me that it is a life that is no longer about me. It is a life that begins with humility in recognition of who God is and what Christ did for me and how I will seek to live, through faith in Christ, in recognition and reverence of God and Jesus Christ. Transitioning into life is about sincerely seeking to live the lifestyle of faith required for everyone who believes according to what is revealed in God’s word.

It is a lifestyle that will distinguish us as His children and set us apart from others. It is a lifestyle God ordained for us to walk in. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10 NIV We were created by God to shine for Him, in this life, like stars in the universe, to be an example for others to be a light for Jesus. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31, 33b – 11:1 NIVTransitioning into Christ and the life we are called to live by faith empowers us to be leaders at home, in the workplace, within our respective worship communities, amongst our peers and within the world around us to inspire others to follow Christ. My example may not be perfect, every step of the way, but as I strive for perfection, I leave an example for others to follow.

In advance, God determined that we would serve His purpose in our generation for the display of His splendor, even in the face of adversity, to inspire others to follow Christ. When you look at Naomi’s life revealed in scripture, even during a dark and difficult time in her life, Ruth was inspired to follow the path of faith. “But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” – Ruth 1:16 NIV It is easy to shine in our faith walk when life is going well. As we transition into Christ and the life of walking by faith, when our season of suffering comes, we will be challenged to keep in step with the Spirit. We will prevail if we keep the faith and walk by faith and not by sight!

May God bless you and help you to transition into life and shine like a star in the universe as you follow Christ’s example, to inspire others to walk by faith, as He leads you to experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

– Philippians 2:13 NIV

During the process of my faith walk, as I transition into Christ and the life God has destined for me to step into, my sincerity to live according to God’s word (His will for my life), God will work in me, to desire and to follow through, to do what His word says. This is how I read Philippians 2:13. Galatians 2:20 provides an illustration of what it means to transition into Christ and the life God desires for us to live in accordance with His word and His will for our lives. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20 NIV

When the Apostle Paul talked about offering our bodies as living sacrifices, in Romans 12:1-2, as our spiritual act of worship and reasonable service, this is the disposition he desired that all believers would embrace in their faith walk with Christ that illustrates transitioning into life. The Apostle Paul concluded that transformation into Christ began with the renewing of the mind in Romans 12:2. The renewing of the mind process occurs as we invest quality quiet time reading, reflecting and applying God’s word that allows us to transition into the life He has called us to in Christ. Closer inspection of the second half of Romans 12:2 reveals that the transformed mind is able to better distinguish what God’s will is, because the transformed mind is operating in accordance with what is revealed in God’s word. “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2b NIV

Earlier in this post, I mentioned that the Apostle Paul desired that our disposition would be similar to the one he declares in Galatians 2:20 being crucified with Christ. In Philippians he expresses it this way and refers to it as an attitude about life through faith in Christ. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 2:5 NIV An attitude of humility, being sincere in seeking to be identified with Christ, is the doorway that transitions us into the life required for us to walk by faith. It is an attitude that allows us to shine like stars in the universe (see Philippians 2:15) and empowers us to experience being more than conquerors in whatever circumstances we face, because He who raised Christ from the dead lives in us. This is a critical attitude to embrace to live the victorious spiritual life God requires, because everything about life, through faith in Christ, will not be like walking around heaven all day. “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” – Philippians 1:29 NIV

May God bless you and help you to become transformed by the renewing of your mind so you may transition into the life He has called you to through faith in Christ to experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.