Thursday, 29 August 2013
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. Eph. 5.1, 2
At first sight, Paul’s suggestion here might appear audacious, even scandalous. How can he even contemplate that we might imitate God? Sadly, in contemporary entertainment, impersonators, those who imitate others, often do so for humorous effect. They raise laughs at the expense of others.
This is not what Paul is encouraging. The Greek is helpful here. The words γίνεσθε ούν μίμηται (linesthe oun mimetai) literally means ‘become yourselves imitators’ (of God) or, more helpfully, ‘follow God’s example’. This latter phrase fits well with me. I hear Jesus’ words to me, “Follow me”, and I want to follow. I want to follow His example in living the whole of my life to do the Father’s will. I want to follow His example in looking on people, on all people, with compassion. I want to follow His example of giving Himself for the eternal salvation of others. And I see no presumption in following His example. This would be, purely and simply, my best effort. I would not be saying, “Look out God, here I come, just like You.” No, rather I would say, “Lord, I want to follow You. As I try my very best I ask You to show me the way, to guide me and bless me. I want to be like Jesus. I want to be a fragrant offering and sacrifice to You. I ask You to help me in this, for I cannot do it in my own strength.”
I want to imitate You. I want to act more like You with every moment that passes in my life. This starts with a simple commitment to follow You. I ask You to help me make this decision. Let me not be consumed with my own concerns and responses to life, but let me begin to see things as You see them. Lead me to respond as You would. Whatever the situation, enable me to see it from Your perspective and to respond as You would have me respond.
As I read Your Word I pray that You will speak clearly to me. In my progress of growing more Godly, I seek intimacy with You. I anticipate dialogue of such encouragement and wisdom. I look to follow Jesus and live the whole of my life in obedience to the Father’s will.
Allow me, if it pleases You, to see clearly the ways of the Lord and, as an adoring child imitates the behaviour of a loving parent, let me also follow in Your way and pattern.
I am Your child, Your son. I thank You for adopting me. As I assume Your name let me also partake of Your characteristics and attributes. I would imitate You, my Lord, in daily practice. I ask You to lead me today. Let me embrace Your ways and know the essence of You in my inner being. I adore You, and I seek to follow and emulate You in the fullness of love and obedience. I pray these things in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Monday, 26 August 2013
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3.14
I feel this verse to be more a declaration of desire for me than it might be a statement of fact. Certainly the intent is there. I earnestly want to focus on the goal and to feel myself moving towards it. The prize that I cherish and desire is a heavenly prize. It is my eternal rest/relationship/destiny in Jesus. In the words of a contemporary chorus, I can truly say to Jesus, “You are my all in all.”
This eternal gift has already started. I need to live in present joy in the delight that Jesus is with me. I believe He has been there all along. But since my receiving and acknowledging Him as Saviour, His presence is a continuous, and continuing, reality for me. I may not always be conscious of this, but I can remind myself of it at any moment. He is with me now, and will remain with me for all time, and beyond!!
What, then, can I do to move my declaration of desire to become more a statement of fact? I can do just what Paul did, I can ‘press on’. I have looked up the Greek word: ζίώκω (dioko) means to seek after, to strive for, to follow, to run after. This sits well with a term I have coined just recently which is: I am in hot pursuit of God.
Let’s get on with the chase, and continue the race!
You are my quest and my goal. I am truly in hot pursuit of You. I do not consider what I am to do for, as I seek, strive for and run after You, anything that You wish me to do will surely unfold in the fullness of Your will.
And so I press on. I seek You with every fibre of my being. I call out to You saying, Lord, I want more of You. Dear God, I can’t get enough of You. Hear the pleas of this aching and
searching heart. Be mindful of the condition of this humble servant and dear son.
I love you with a love that compels me to seek more of You, to see You in all that I am and in anything I might do. Receive me; embrace me; enjoy me, in Jesus’ Name I ask. Amen.
Friday, 23 August 2013
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. Eph. 2.4, 5
The first thing this Scripture tells me is that God loves me, and His love for me is great. Right now, I need to hear this. I feel low in spirit, side-lined by God, and not being used by him according to the desire I have for Him to use me.
Yet, even as I write these words, my mind sees through them. My mind says, ‘But surely it’s not what you want, but what God wants. And, as you so often cry out to God for His will to be done in your life, so you need to accept, at this very moment, that you are precisely in His will for this time. His will is to occasion no more ‘doing’ from you than the little that is happening.’ This is most interesting self-talk. I remind myself to listen carefully, for it is as if God is speaking to me through myself.
These verses tell me more than God loves me. They also tell me that, through His rich mercy, He made me alive in Christ even whilst I transgressed. The reality is that I am still in transgressions, yet He makes me alive in Christ. Minute by minute He brings me to life, in Christ. And this is purely and simply by His grace.
I see here a difference between reality and truth. My present reality is that of a ‘downer’. I feel despondent and could easily chuck it all in. Yet I am stopped simply because I don’t know what that means. Chuck in what? And chuck it into – where? I think what I’m saying is that I’m ready to stop trying and sink into an abyss of self-pity. This appears as the present reality. But the truth is vastly different. And the truth breaks forth today in God’s very words to me. He loves me. His love for me is great! And in His mercy He brings me to life. I live in His love, and I live in Jesus. I feel my spirit rise. Again the self-talk comes and says, ’How dare you feel down and low in the face of such love and mercy and abundant grace, that has saved you (yes, I do know this!) and now, this very moment, brings you to life and fills you with the very fullness of Christ.’
First I say sorry. I’m sorry for forgetting that I am a much loved child of the most wonderful God. I’m sorry that I allow myself to give in to doubt and despair, and even to indulge in self-pity. Please forgive me. You are my all. I thank You for the love, mercy and grace that brought me to salvation in Christ. Paul reminds me of the faith that occasioned this. And this faith was not of my doing, but was a gift from You.
My Dear Father, I dare to ask for Your gift of further faith. I ask also for infilling, and constant topping-up, with the fullness of Christ in me. Let me be always aware, every second of every day, of Your presence with me. I will say, with Moses, if You don’t go with me, I don’t want to go. Come with me today. Dear Lord, lead me on, in Jesus’ Name I ask. Amen.
Tuesday, 20 August 2013
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10.21
What captures my attention first of all with this verse is that Jesus looked on the man and loved him. This is the love that took Jesus to the cross to die for the sins of all humanity. This is a love that is worthy of our deepest, sincerest response.
The story then illustrates what Jesus requires when He calls us follow Him. The man in question was extremely rich and his riches proved to be an obstacle to his following Jesus. On his own admission he had always done ‘the right thing’ but his wealth meant too much to him for him to let it go.
I don’t see Jesus here decrying and denying all wealth. Rather I think He is saying, “Don’t let anything take priority over me in your life.”
For some people the obstacle may indeed be wealth. For others it could be power, other possessions, relationships, or a host of self-focused needs. Jesus is saying “Give away the place of focus in your life from anything that holds you from me. Fix your eyes on me. Keep me as your absolute number one priority – and you will have treasure in heaven.”
You are my life. I pray that nothing will distract my focus from You. Lead me further into You. Show me Your ways in everything. I seek to follow You and live in the fullness of the Father’s will. I claim Your promise that the Holy Spirit will teach me all things and will remind me of everything You have said.
Lord Jesus, be my teacher, mentor and guide. Let me do nothing that Your Holy Spirit does not lead me in. I commit to You. Take me. Correct me when I am wrong. Enjoy me, please. And may I enjoy You. I bow before You in true love and adoration. I thank You. Hallelujah!
Saturday, 17 August 2013
Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Mark 12.17
There is a lesson in this quotation that might well be passed over in the tradition of the story.
God says, “I am the LORD your God,...You shall have no other gods before me” (Exod. 20.2, 3).
Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12.30).
This is very clear. To me it is simply saying: Put God before anything and everything else. Make Him your absolute priority.
Yet I wonder how often we might be tempted to put other things before God – things of the flesh, or worldly want or desires. We may not consciously be aware that we are doing it. Without realising it we may be giving to the world what really we should be giving to God.
I truly want to give You the highest place in my life. I look to love You with all of my being. I want nothing but You to occupy that place of supreme worship, adoration and obedience in who I am and what I do. There is none like You. You are my everything. I rejoice in the life I have in You.
I pray that nothing will tempt or provoke me to waver in this. Whatever material needs I may have, I surrender these to You for Your absolute provision. If health issues assail me, I ask You to lead me through in glorious communion to ultimate victory.
I pray that Your grace will enable and allow me to live in right and good relationship with all other people such that my prime relationship with You is not compromised in any way.
Be Lord of my body, my mind, my emotions and my spirit. Show me Your ways. Lead me always in Your ways. Let me never transgress from Your path. I look to You in my weakness for, surely, Your grace is sufficient for me. Hallelujah! I praise Your Name. Amen.