Putting OFF the Old Things / Putting ON the New You!

THE KARATE KID STORY –

The Karate Kid is a 1984 American martial arts feel good film.  It’s an underdog story.

Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) trains the young man Daniel (Ralph Macchio) in the art of Karate for protection against neighborhood bullies.

Mr. Miyagi begins Daniel’s training by telling him the requirement of commitment that accompanies Mr’ Miyagi’s curriculum.

After Daniel agrees, Miyagi assigns Daniel to complete various lengthy, menial chores that appear to have nothing to do with Karate.

“Wax On / Wax Off”

THE EPHESIANS 4:21-24 STORY – “Putting OFF / Putting ON”  and the COMMITMENT Begins…

[21] assuming that you have heard about him, and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus  [22] to PUT OFF your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  [23] and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  [24] and to PUT ON the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.  [ English Standard Version (ESV) Bible.]

2 Corinthians 5:17 says,  “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away.  Behold, the fresh and new has come!”  [Amplified Bible]

I beg to differ with a lot of Christians living in the world today saying or thinking that they can keep on LIVING the old life and claim to be a child of God.

I’ll admit it is not easy...it’s the hardest thing we have ever done.

  • TO SHARE THE GOSPEL,
  • PREACH THE GOSPEL,
  • TEACH THE GOSPEL,
  • LIVE THE GOSPEL.

The Bible says if you are SAVED by the GRACE of God, you’re a NEW CREATURE.

There is a lot of people who are hanging on to the old lifestyle; trusting in the material things and not living by the spiritual things.

Galatians 6:15 says,  Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation”  (NIV Bible).

Romans 6:4 says We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

Thank God We Are SERVING A Risen Savior…

And the Bible tells us that we’re supposed to WALK in the newness of life.  I remember when my three children were learning to walk.  My wife and I would hold our hands out across the room, encouraging to take one step, to place one foot in front of the other.  As long as they could see our faces they would slowly move forward.  As soon as they looked down at their feet, they lost focus and would stumble and tear up.  When that occurred, I think mom and dad also teared up.  But the training, the exercise, the dedication to commitment went on.

IT ISN’T EASY –

“Yes, but we all sin–we slip, we fall down and skin our knees– and fall short of God’s glory, don’t we?”  We sure do.  We still have the old body–the outside, but thanks be to God, we have a new man on the inside!

We sure do.  We still have the old body–the outside, but thanks be to God, we have a new man on the inside!

IF we are SAVED…and we’re a NEW CREATURE, we ought to live like it, then!

I’d like to point out a few training steps in “Putting Off and Putting On” A NEW NATURE.  

I’m not a Mr. Miyagi by any means, but here we go.

THE REQUIREMENTS OF COMMITMENT:

NUMBER ONE:  We need to be FOCUSED.

There are people who will talk about everything BUT God.  In church, social gatherings, sharing on social media, etc.  They are worried about everything BUT God.  They are not worried–not concerned–about lost souls.  I don’t care if the church I’m attending has 5 or 500 members on Sunday morning or if we have carpet on the floors. We’ve got to get past all the ‘STUFF’ in the church and start focusing on putting God first and caring about lost souls.

We’ve lost our FOCUS.

It’s sad to say that there’s a lot of Christians in the world that never picks up the WORD of God, then tries to stand up and give praise to God.

You’ve got to READ God’s Word, PRAY and SEEK God’s face in all that you do.  That’s what a godly or any relationship is all about.  You can’t have a close relationship, an intimate relationship at a distance.

The Bible says that JESUS came to SEEK and to SAVE that which is lost.  That’s what our FOCUS should be.  Nothing else!

I’ve been asked over the years by some people, “Why do we even have the church?”

The answer should be, “So we can get more lost people in here so they can find salvation!”

Sure the pastors of our churches could stand on a platform and preach, and preach, and preach and you’ll get some strength from it.  But if there aren’t any lost people sitting there on Sunday mornings, what are you going to do with that “strength”?  What are you going to do with the wisdom of God when you get it… IF you get it?

If you are not consistently READING your Bible during the week, you can bet you’re NOT SHARING Christ either.

We’ve lost our FOCUS.

If you’re going around trying to find a place where you can fit JESUS into your life, you’re in bad shape.  You have to fit your life into what Christ wants you to do.  Don’t go around telling God you need to see if you can fit Him into your schedule.

Christ Jesus is my whole life!  Without Him, I’m nothing!!

Several years ago, after realizing I had been playing spiritual games with people around me, I made this vow to God NOT to listen to man and just listen to Him.

Luke 14:27 says “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follows Me cannot be my disciple.”

There are more churches today than there has ever been…And there are more church goers than there has ever been.

BUT the Bible clearly says that the HARVEST is great but the LABORERS are few.

I see something wrong with that.  Hosea in the Old Testament, chapter five, says ‘a man should go with their herds and their flocks to SEEK the Lord but they shall not find Him for he has withdrawn Himself from them.’  [Paraphrased]

I saw a marquee in front of a church, a big church, awhile back that read…

MESSAGE For SUNDAY:

HOW TO GET ALONG WITH YOUR SPOUSE

I thought, if you get close to the LORD, you’ll know how to get along with your spouse.

You’ll know how to get along with everybody!

We’ve got to stay FOCUSED on JESUS–keeping our eyes on Him.

NUMBER TWO:  We need to be FAITHFUL.

John 8:31  “…If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples”  (AMP).

Christians will go work at a job and be there every day to get their paycheck–and God will tell them to do something and they can’t do it.

The LORD called me to SHARE the Gospel message through a weekly blog six years ago.  So I’m going to keep doing what God says to do.  I’m not going to back up or slow down so others can catch up.

WE NEED TO BE FAITHFUL.

Don’t ask what you want, but ask what He wants!

NUMBER THREE:  We need to be FRUITFUL in our new life.

Being FRUITFUL means you’re SAVED AND…you’re growing in the process!

It means that God’s ministry through you reaches other people and helps them the way God is helping you.

There are people who look back on their lives saying they haven’t done anything for the Lord.  It doesn’t work that way.  Our BLESSINGS come from our labor.  That’s why a lot of people aren’t acting blessed.  They aren’t doing anything!

Galatians 6:7

“Don’t be misled:  No one makes a fool of God.  What a person plants, he will harvest.  The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others–ignoring God!–harvests a crop of weeds.”  [MSG}

 

What are you planting; producing for the Lord Jesus Christ?

NUMBER FOUR:  Being Friendly!

We need to be friendly in our NEW LIFE.

Some of the meanest people can be “church folks”.  Whether you attend a Baptist, Assembly Of God, Independent/Bible church…YEP,  we are often called the “church folks” in the community.

It’s NOT niceness that will get you into heaven…BUT IF YOU ARE NICE, God will BLESS you for it.

According to Dictionary.com, the word NICE means  “pleasing; agreeable; amiably pleasant.”

We in the family of God are not supposed to have any kind of evil communication or put a stumbling block in front of our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus for them to trip over.  Like a child learning to take their first steps, our SPEECH is supposed to be established with GRACE and encouragement and not condemnation.

Romans 7:6  says this:  “But now that we.re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God”  [MSG].

And in Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus’ words,  [24] “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  [25] For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it”  [NIV].

There seems to be a lot of folks more involved with themselves than they are with their Savior.

In a Discipleship Journal, Carole Mayhall tells of a woman who went to a diet center to lose weight.  The director took her to a full-length mirror and on it, he outlined a figure and told her, “This is what I want you to be like at the end of the program.  Days of intense dieting and exercise followed, and every week the woman would stand in front of the mirror, discouraged because her bulging outline didn’t fit the director’s ideal. But she kept at it, and finally one day she conformed to the longed for image  [Daily Bread, August 8, 1990].

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU LOOKED AT THE IMAGE IN THE MIRROR?______________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – Settings: Advanced search.

Various Bible Translations:  Furnish by BibleGateway.com

 

 

 

 

Crippled In His Feet, Able In His Mind

.Many of us say we are living by FAITH.  But we are not getting Faith results.  

We say to ourselves and to other Christians around us that we are living by FAITH and when we PRAY the reason for our prayers, things remain unchanged.  Could it be, just maybe,  we’ve been taught a Faith is nothing more than simply believing God to take care of things while we sit back and wait?  Could it be that we’ve been taught a Faith that means we take our needs, both physical and mental to God and because He’s in control let Him decide whether or not He will help us?

We’re going to look at Scripture and see whose FAITH really matters.  And I hope you’ll see and understand as I have in the study, that when we PRAY, we are not waiting for God to answer us.  He is waiting for our FAITH.

ACTS 14:8-11

Many of us read and hear the words in the Bible BUT…WE NEVER TRULY LIVE the Bible.

When we don’t LIVE what we read and hear God’s Word daily we can find ourselves in a space of UNBELIEF that separates us from FAITH that receives the “rewards of faith.” But so many of us do!  That’s right, “REWARDS”.

As we HEAR and OBEY the Word of God, we slowly close the space of unbelief that separates us from FAITH that will bring the rewards!

GOD REWARDS FAITH WITH HIS PROMISES

“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).

Okay, so, the WORD says FAITH pleases God and that He rewards those who have A LIFESTYLE OF FAITH.

So I want to closely look at the testimony of a man in ACTS 14

SETTING:  The Region of Lystra.  A region bursting with Greek Mythology/Roman “2 gods” beliefs.

In this region,  “there sat a man who was lame [crippled[ from birth and had never walked”  (Acts 14:8)

And sometimes, do we think about physical ailments way too much?  Think again!

God’s finest creation/MAN–created to be agile and mobile.

So here we have before us the Creation of God who SAT–going nowhere because he was crippled in the feet:

  • The AREA that should have undergirded him.
  • The AREA that should have supported him.
  • The AREA that should have served as his foundation–FAILED HIM.

Not because he didn’t want to or believed he couldn’t move, but rather because he was in this state from birth.

In other words at no fault of his–because of his predicament, he was STUCK IN A RUT, do to no fault of his own.

BEING STUCK IN A RUT–

  • Because touched inappropriately;
  • Spoken disparaging–discouraging words.
  • Experience–never experienced.

Such A Debilitating Beginning –

Never had he walked, but he BELIEVED he could one day, walk by FAITH.  This man, while crippled in his feet, was a man not crippled in his mind.

I might add here that a deficiency in one area does not constitute an excuse in another area.  CRIPPLED IN HIS FEET, ABLE IN HIS MIND! 

VERSE 9:  “He listened to Paul as he was speaking.”

“So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself)” ~ Romans 10:17 (AMP).

If we are going to WALK BY FAITH:  Learn to use what you do have, to receive what you have never had.

I don’t have to have mobilization of my feet, U-TIL-IZATION of my ears.

FAITH HEARING:  We must see what we have–to usher in our HEALING:

  • Our EARS – Be Positive/filter out all the negatives.
  • Our EARS – MOTIVATE NOT DENIGRATE.

ACTION:  RESUME/SKILLS; NAME/TALENT; CAR/DRIVE…

All I need to do is HEAR one word from the Lord and everything will be alright!

THE TEXT:  “He was listening to Paul as he talked and [Paul] gazing intently at him and observing that he had FAITH TO BE HEALED…”

Paul didn’t FOCUS on the man’s crippleness; he immediately FOCUSED on the man’s FAITH.

If we are going to WALK BY FAITH:  Sometimes when you have nothing to stand on, you have to stand on YOUR FAITH.

  • FEET/FAITH 
  • SURROUNDINGS/FAITH
  • I KNOW WHAT I’VE HEARD ABOUT/AROUND ME
  • I KNOW WHAT I BELIEVE INSIDE ME.

Some people around me say,  “I’m never going to walk, I’ve never walked…”

BUT BY FAITH…

THE TEXT:  Paul observing that he had faith…shouted at him (challenged him–the area of his strength…) “STAND ERECT ON YOUR FEET!”  AND HE LEAPED UP AND WALKED.

If you are going to WALK BY FAITH, KNOW AND UNDERSTAND that whatever previously bound you, you can presently GET UP from it!

Sharing A PROPHECY from a church service on Sunday, January 22, 2017.  The title is “Climb Higher and Believe Me” – [See Footnote [i]. ]

“O, I simply want My body to believe Me.  I want those who are Mine to take My Word as if they know nothing else, to place it at the forefront of their thinking and to believe Me.  This is the life in the spirit.  My words are spirit and they are life.”  I desire My Word to be primary in your thinking.  Kingdom thinking includes refusing to receive thoughts and imaginations that do not agree with My Word and My ways.  If something does not agree with My Word and My ways, I do not agree with it,  Be challenged by these things and come up higher in Me.” 

FAITH’S RESPONSIBILITY –

Who is responsible for having the FAITH to receive answered prayer?

When my prayers seem to go unanswered, it isn’t because my Heavenly Father didn’t want to answer them.  I simply didn’t give Him the FAITH He needed to move on my behalf.

So I encourage you to feed your mind with God’s Word.  Let it become that which dominates your thoughts day and night.  As you do that, your FAITH will be like a SEED planted in the ground.  Over time it will grow and grow and grow!

PHOTO PIN

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTE (S) –

Footnote [i] :  Who’s Faith Matters? by Barry O. Johnson, Associate Pastor at Grace Christian Center on May 1, 2017.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, Advance Settings, and PHOTO PIN.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV).

 

A CALL TO HOLINESS IN A HOSTILE LAND

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Last week I participated in a political discussion group on social media where the attacks got pretty hot and heavy.  And, I have to confess, my “flesh” got in the way of my heart and I had to repent from my reciprocal reactions.  

Was I right in making a “political” point? Perhaps, but my thought process and reaction to unbelievers wasn’t.  I’ve since disconnected with the group.

The Holy Spirit directed my repentance, to a study in 1 Peter–and so here I am: A CALL TO HOLINESS IN A HOSTILE LAND–“But as the One Who called you [MEL] is holy, you [MEL] also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living” (1 Peter 1:15 AMP). Now that’s…personal!

A BIBLE STUDY IN 1 PETER 1:13-21 –

PETER begins his letter to the churches, in the northern part of Asia Minor in the first twelve verses to the future of the Christian.

[13] “THEREFORE, prepare your minds for action…” and this is a good place to start from.

I capitalized the word “THEREFORE” for emphasis.  When reading the bible, it can become a tired old saying, but true–and it’s there for a reason.

In the Amplified bible, verse 13 reads “So brace up your minds; be sober (circumspect, morally alert)…”

PETER is about to make a transition from the FUTURE HOPE of the Christian, to the PRESENT HOPE…Peter wants Christians to understand, since God has given us a living HOPE, our incorruptible Inheritance and His promised of PRAISE, HONOR and GLORY, and there is a certain way He expects believers–that’s us–to conduct ourselves publicly, in our homes privately, or anywhere we travel in this life.

This takes us to 1 Peter 1:15, “as the One Who called you holy…be holy in all of your conduct and manner of living.”

So Peter in essence is saying–no, what Jesus said in Luke 12:48,  “For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required; and of him to whom men entrust much, they will require and demand all the more.”

WOW!  Living a holy life in the expectations of a HOLY GOD, can that be a reality in today’s world?  It’s a hostile land out there!

THE CALL TO HOLINESS –

God calls His people today to HOLINESS.  A “HOLY PERSON” isn’t an odd person but a distinct person.

A holy person has a quality about their life that is separate; and their present lifestyle is not only different from the past way of living, but is different from the way of living of unbelievers around them.  They are real, genuine, authentic people and they should be representing the likeness of Christ Jesus to the watching world.

We have been commanded to live a holy life–energetic and blazing with holiness.  

Someone once said, “We may choose a married life or a single life, but it is not left to us to choose whether, or not, we live a holy life.”  It’s what marks us as God’s followers.

Why don’t we then, want to heed the call?

“Wait just a minute,” someone might say, “This holiness thing is just a little bit too much for me!”

The problem becomes, we don’t want to be different–to stand out of the crowd.  We have become an assembly line society…and YES, churches today are part of society in case you forgot.  We’re terrified of being set apart.

We visualize a caricature of “holiness”; we think the whole idea of holiness communicates an attitude and displays actions that become known as “holier-than-thou”.

We discredit spirituality and behavior that puts one on a pedestal of being better than the rest.  Jesus despised this type of mentality and morality that the Pharisees displayed and we agree with Him.

We often misunderstand what it means to be HOLY!

After READING AND STUDYING this passage of Scripture, I found that Peter gives some answers, or KEYS to a holy living that should help us to be what God wants us to be. HOLY.

KEY #1 – VERSE 13 “GIRD UP”:

The King James Version (KJV) reads, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind” and I thought, “Huh?”

gird-up-your-loins-2

In biblical times robes were usually worn–and robes tend to get in the way if you’re doing certain kinds of work or you need to get from POINT A to POINT B, in a hurry.  So “girding up your loins of your mind” is a metaphor for being prepared in your mind…being alert.

Being ALERT mentally–

Is when we see and process the information in the world around us in a different way because of the understanding we should have through the Holy Spirit.

How many times in my life as a Christian, I’ve fallen down by not adhering to this aspect of “holiness.”  Things that others see as the normal way of doing things, or at least the acceptable way of doing things, are not so acceptable when you have a PREPARED MIND–seeing things through the POWER of the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NIV):

[14] The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.  [15] The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment;  [16] “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” (Isaiah 40:13)  But we have the mind of Christ.

“GIRDING UP OUR MINDS” means being ready and able to recognize and reject the worldly influences around us.  My unspiritual banter in a political forum became foolish, just as their argumentative ‘banter’ was foolish.

The 2nd Key to holy living I happened to notice is to LIVE A CHANGED LIFE!

KEY #2 is found in VERSE 14, where Peter tells us to be “obedient children…”

[14]  [Live] as children of obedience  [to God];  do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel].

The word OBEDIENCE seems to raise the hair on the back of one’s arms.

Colossians 3:20:  “Children, OBEY your parents in everything”…

Or, this gets to the ladies sometimes…“SUBMIT to your husbands…Colossians 3:18.

Some of us become rebellious when we hear those words in conversation.  But as those verses in Colossians are brought to mind, the apostle Paul is saying wives, husbands, children…ADAPT to your role in life because it is your service in obedience to not your husband, your wife, your parents BUT…THE LORD!

Peter is telling us that, even though before we knew the LORD, we considered it alright to do certain things, and now, it is no longer acceptable to use our “ignorance” concerning spiritual things.

The apostle Paul gives us a whole list of things that ought not be found in the life of a Christian.  READ 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

DON’T BE DECEIVED; NEITHER THE…

  • impure and immoral,
  • NOR idolaters,
  • NOR adulterers,
  • NOR those who participate in homosexuality,
  • NOR cheats,
  • NOR greedy graspers,
  • NOR drunkards,
  • NOR foul-mouthed…

The list GOES ON!

What I found interesting in reading this passage was, if your LIFESTYLE is a LIFESTYLE that is displeasing to God, and you have no desire or intent to change it, you are probably kidding yourself if you call yourself a CHRISTIAN.

As a student of the Bible, I’m not making up the rules for your living, or my living, neither do the church leaders in place, nor any particular church member.

BUT…if you don’t feel the call of God to change from your former way of life to the life of an “obedient child of God,” then you need to see if that once “confession of Christ as savior” in your life is a genuine one.

KEY #3 – KEEPING YOUR HEART, MIND AND SOUL, FIXED ON JESUS TO BE HOLY 

1 PETER 1:17-19 (The MESSAGE):

[17] You call out to God for help and he helps–he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.  [18] It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in.  [19] He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know.  

[Bible Study Tools-the Message bible, 1 Peter 1:17-19]

Keeping your heart, mind and soul, fixed on JESUS–to be HOLY, not only do we need a PREPARED mind and a CHANGED LIFE, what Peter is saying here, as Christians, we are to claim Almighty God as our Father–not simply as our Creator but as our Father.  And, to understand this, it is through the precious BLOOD of Christ Jesus that allows us to call Him, FATHER!

The BLOOD of JESUS
The BLOOD of JESUS

So Peter is telling us, that if we are going to make that claim of God, we better focus on the SACRIFICE of God’s one and only Son, Jesus, and, that knowledge needs to be reflected in everything we do and say.  Even as we share our comments, or others’ comments, on Social Media, “as is right and fitting and your proper duty to the Lord” (Col. 3:18 (b) AMP).

As Christian witnesses, we often misunderstand what it means to be HOLY.

Today, the WORLD has a desperate need for people who are different.  As in Genesis 17, Abraham was to circumcise himself, his household and his slaves as a mark in the flesh of an everlasting COVENANT between God and His people–His children.

Like CIRCUMCISION was a mark of the flesh in the Old Covenant, Christians should have the spiritual mark of HOLINESS.

Like circumcision, it won’t be easy, in fact, at times it will be painful.  But it will make a difference!

We need people who will be JESUS at the office, in Congress, in Society, in the Classroom…ALL in a HOSTILE LAND.

People who live their FAITH in boldness, even though the rest of society thinks we are different.

Will you make a commitment as I have made, to be serious about truly being repentant when we sin, not to take SIN lightly…after all, our SIN is what caused Christ’s death, after all.

THINK ABOUT LIVING A “HOLY LIFE” THIS WEEK, IN CHRIST’S NAME!!!

 


 CREDITS:

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations, as noted in the text:  King James Version (KJV); The MESSAGE Bible (MSG); The Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

A “Lackawanna” Lifestyle – [Part One]

First John 3:1-9:1johnwordcloud

See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are!  But the people who belong to this world don’t know God, so they don’t understand that we are his children.  Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, and we can’t imagine what we will be like when Christ returns.  But we do know that when he comes we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.  And all who believe this will keep themselves pure, just as Christ is pure.  Those who sin are opposed to the law of God, for all sin opposes the law of God.  And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, for there is no sin in him.  So if we continue to live in him, we won’t sin either.  But those who keep on sinning have never known him or understood who he is.  Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it is because they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous.  But when people keep on sinning, it show they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning.  But the Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil.  Those who have been born into God’s family do not sin, because God’s life is in them.  So they can’t keep on sinning, because they have been born of God.

“CHILDREN OF GOD” —

In 1997, the editorial page of a newspaper had a CARTOON tacked on to the column:

In the 1st Frame, a man said,  “I’m tired. I’ll take a pill.”

In the next frame, he said,  “I’m stressed. I’ll take a pill.”

In the 3rd frame, he said,  “I’m depressed. I’ll take a pill.”

And in the next-to last frame,  “I’m overweight. I’ll take a pill.”

In the last frame, he says,  “I’m unethical–is there a pill for that?”

Yes! There is!  The GOS–pill .

The GOSPEL is…the Good News!!

When it comes to obeying God’s law, are we troubled by our “Lackawanna”?  In JESUS Christ, God does more than tell us, “Don’t do that!”  In Christ, God transforms us–fixes that Lackawanna.  That is the Good News!

1.  What is our Motivation?

JESUS IS COMING BACK.  And when He does, we well know, we have to give an account of our lives.  That should motivate us to live today more Godly lives.

1 John 2:28:

Who Are God's Kids?
Who Are God’s Kids?

And now little children, abide (live, remain permanently) in Him, so that when He is made visible, we may have and enjoy perfect confidence (boldness, assurance) and not be ashamed and shrink from Him at His coming (Amplified Bible).

2.  What kind of a Christian life do we live?

Not everyone in “the church” will be happy to see JESUS’ return.  Those who continue or abide in Him will.  They walk in fellowship with Christ.

I don’t know about you, but personally, that fellowship may be strained at times; I become more ‘self-centered’ and less GOD-centered and the fellowship goes out the window.  Even so, I know and recognize ,there is still rest in Christ and His grace.

If we want to– (versus “Lackawanna”), to stand confident and unashamed when JESUS returns, we better stay in close fellowship with Him right now!  In Him, nothing can shame us.

3.  Image is everything–

One day, all of our works will be judged.  ALL our works–everything we’ve done.  And a question to ask ourselves in our busy and hectic lives,  “How closely have I reflected Christ’s image?”  Just keeping it real and personal.

OUR ONLY HOPE:

Our only hope of righteousness comes by continuing in Christ.  As Jesus puts it in John 15:5, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

Lucille Ball’s Problem–

When I was growing up, my family would never miss The Lucille Ball Show on our small screen television.  Her misadventures had us all rolling on the floor laughing.

On the day Christ judges our works, if we haven’t abided in Christ, we’ll have Lucille Ball’s problem.  When she got in trouble, Desi Arnaz would tell her,  “Luci, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.”

This raises some important questions.  How can we know that we’re continuing (“abiding”) in Christ?  How can we know if we’re saved?  John answers the question:

If you know that He is righteous, you may also know that everyone who does righteously is born of Him  (verse 29).

Christ is righteous!  He never sinned.  He lived a perfect, holy, righteous life.

Only JESUS has ever done that.  How then can we know if we’re SAVED?

Do we look like Him?

Do we do right?

Do we practice righteousness?

By practicing righteousness, we show we really are born of God.  GOD IS RIGHTEOUS.  Everyone born of God increasingly shows His righteousness.

4.  A true Christian pursues, seeks…Christ-likeness.

We try hard to be more like JESUS in our daily living.  And as we are ‘trying’… abiding in Christ, He gives us the POWER to do it!  That’s sanctification–it becomes a life-long process.  In this life of ours, we’ll never get sinless completely.  But we should increasingly “sin less”.

All Christians are in God’s family.  We are related to Christ by blood–His.  As in all families, there should be a trait–a family resemblance. 

Over my, ‘going on 50 years’ of marriage, my wife has said  “Honey, you and your brother and dad’s voice sound exactly alike over the phone”, or “That habit of yours is exactly like your dads.”  Could the reason just be, my brother and I came from the same seed?

John is saying, if we are truly born of Him, we will bear a family resemblance to JESUS; we will practice righteousness.  We’ll still stumble and fall flat on our faces spiritually, but we’ll keep practicing righteousness.  Otherwise, we aren’t true children of God.  If more and more we do right as God does, we show our inherited family likeness.  We show we’re His kids!  His voice (His Word), His habits…His good works.

5.  How Great Is The LOVE…(verse 1)

Literally, John says “See what kind of love the father has lavished on us”.

The Message Bible reads,  “Just look at it–we’re called children of God!  That’s who we really are.  But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously because it has no idea who He is or what He’s up to.”

The world failed to recognize JESUS.  Those living in the world live in darkness and they won’t venture into the light–they hate it!

The more we practice righteousness, the less the world will understand us and we’ll be more like JESUS.  We should fear the world’s approval, not want it!  To be hated by the world isn’t fun.  But it should reassure Christians that God LOVES us, and that’s more important than the world’s hatred.

6.  At times, we might look more like the world than we should–

We might not be as conformed to Christ’s image as we should.  But there is a time coming, when we will perfectly display Christ’s image.

John continues by saying,  “But friends, that’s exactly who we are:  children of God.  And that’s only the beginning…Who knows how we’ll end up!”  (verse 2 (a) -The Message Bible).

WHEN?  When JESUS comes to take us home with Him!

A Great Sculptor’s IMAGE–

Michelangelo's David
Michelangelo’s David

A Great Sculptor sees in stone the image that he wants.  When Michelangelo created the sculpture of David, he chiseled away everything that wasn’t David.

Likewise, God puts JESUS’ image in us–His Spirit lives in us.  And now, God wants to chisel away everything that isn’t Christ.  He is still working on us.  That’s the evidence that we are His true children.

“For we are God’s [own] handiwork  (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus [born anew]…”  (Ephesians 2:10 AMP).

7.  We aren’t finished yet!

When JESUS returns, God will complete whatever is lacking in our conformity to Christ’s likeness.  That’s what Paul was saying:

“He who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return, developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you”  (Philippians 1:6 AMP).

“But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”  (1 John 3:2 (b)).

8.  How Will We Be Like Him?

—  We’ll be like Him physically:

Our bodies will be changed and we will be made like His glorified resurrected body (John 20:14, 19, 26-29; John 21:1-25).  Some Bible Teachers say, JESUS’ age when resurrected bodily from the earth was 33 years.  So…just possibly, our age in the glorified new body will be 33 years of age.   That’s why the apostle Paul tells us,

“But we are citizens of the state (commonwealth, homeland) which is in heaven, and from it also we earnestly and patiently await [the coming of] the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [as] Savior.    Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself”  (Philippians 3:20-21 Amplified Bible).

—  And we’ll be like Him spiritually:

We will be made perfectly holy!  Our sin nature will be eliminated.  We’ll be able to do all that is righteous and pure.  That’s all we’ll want to do.  And we won’t be tempted any longer.

9.  We will have JESUS’ NATURE:

We, too, will be pure and holy.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to see JESUS or enter Heaven’s glory!

Having the Wonderful Hope in Our Lives–

“And everyone who has this hope [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies) himself just as He is pure  (chaste, undefiled, guiltless)”  (verse 3).

Having the wonderful HOPE that John is speaking to us about, should, change our behavior.  We will be completely righteous like Christ in the future.  THAT should, make us want to be more Christ-like now!  That “wonderful hope” prevents us from venturing into a Lackawanna” lifestyle.

Do we really believe …JESUS is coming back for us?

If so, we’d be getting ready for Him.

If we knew that an important guest was coming to our home, I don’t know about you–but personally, I’d be helping my wife by doing some housecleaning in preparation.

If we really believe JESUS is coming back, we would do some spiritual housecleaning now.  Cleaning out our spiritual closets and not sweeping the ‘dirt’ under the carpet.  Is it time for REPENTANCE (getting rid of the spiritual clutter) or, do you have a “Lackawanna” attitude?

10.  What does the word “lawlessness” mean?

I heard a pastor preach one Sunday, that as believers…”we are no longer under the Law”.  Do I disagree with that decree?  Yes, and No.

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness”  (verse 4- NIV Bible).

Our youngest daughter when growing up had a personality trait that, how should I say, often frustrated her mom and dad.  One afternoon, I decided to take the family on a ride in the surrounding country; to see if I could find the perfect strawberry stand.  Finally, after a thorough search, we found the perfect spot: fresh berries, reasonably priced, and under the shade of a large tree.  It was a warm Southern California day.

Defiant-ChildWhen I returned to the car, there she was, standing on the backseat of our 1969 Station Wagon.  This was going against the “Standing up on the backseat Thompson Car Law”:  

“Krissy, you need to sit down.”  She began to frown at my command but continued standing.

“Kris, I mean it!  Sit down or…” 

She sat down at the raising of my voice but, when looking in the car’s rear-view mirror, her arms folded and a scowl on her face– she was still standing up on the inside!  That is LAWLESSNESS pure and simple–open rebellion!  My daughter was “made” to obey.  But, her heart still held rebellion.

Lawlessness isn’t occasional sin.  It is… open rebellion against God–having no regard of what God thinks or says.

[Will continue study in PART TWO– A “Lackawanna” Lifestyle?]