Express His Glory in Your Life

Posts tagged ‘character’

Let’s Look Like Jesus: Wisdom

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father most glorious, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation through knowing Christ fully. (Ephesians 1:17)

Christ’s spirit of wisdom and revelation infuses the Christian’s character. Christ demonstrated this spirit in all of His human interactions. He saw, listened and comprehended from His Father’s viewpoint. Jesus looked beyond the circumstances presented by those who came to Him and focused on their spiritual needs. He shared the Father’s interests in individuals –and a character built on Him will evidence that same association.

As Ambassadors for Christ, our natural reactions to those we encounter–whether sweet compassion or abrasive frustration–should never be the source that motivates us to action. We are not to be amateur Providences and change people’s lives according to our feelings. God’s ways are not our own; He has measured the weight He puts upon every person. What may seem excessive and unfair from the human perspective may be just the weight needed to save their eternal soul. Alternatively, what may appear to be tremendous blessing in a person’s life may be a curse blinding them to their need for Jesus. As Christ’s Ambassador, we need to share the reason for the hope with which we live and allow Him to guide in every interaction!

We need His Spirit to give us deep understanding of situations and the Truths of God that will speak to hearts. We receive discernment to help us intercede for others–never to judge them. The wisdom of God is pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere (James 3:17). As we listen to the hearts of others through the Spirit, He will give us words that encourage others and reveal His beauty. He may impress upon our hearts the need to provide direct help or He may simply burden us to pray and love. As we heed His guidance, we will learn more about Him ourselves and grow ever closer to His likeness! Might we each increasingly embrace the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation He offers so freely!

Let’s Look Like Jesus: Prayerful

The prayerful spirit of Christ offers a shining facet to our transformed character! Christ’s commitment to communing with the Father is a design we must emulate. Despite being God incarnate, Jesus Christ demonstrated a high priority on prayer fellowship with God, the Father.

Scriptural accounts show Christ seeking private prayer time throughout His earthly life. He arose before down and climbed mountains to be alone with the Father. He walked away from crowds of seekers to commune with God in heaven. He chose fellowship with His father over sleep on some nights. Private times of intimate communion with the heavenly Father under-girded the earthly walk of Christ. Such an example by the One who creates and sustains all life should impress on us our desperate need. Prayer must have a higher priority in our lives than our comfort, our service and our physical needs.

The communion of Jesus and the Father was not restricted to private times, though. Prayer was an integral part of Christ’s every day. He instructed His disciples on ‘how’ to pray. He prayed for His followers through the ages. Sometimes He prayed for the benefit of listeners. The scripture records indicate a prayer life that was as ‘real’ and natural as the human conversations in which He engaged. Indeed, Christ’s prayers are often in the midst of human dialogues. Clearly, the presence of the Father was as much a reality to Jesus as the people with whom He walked each day. This reality of continual prayer must thread throughout our own lives.

In the Garden of Gethsemane prayers, Jesus reveals communion in the deepest sense. The Son’s cries enter directly into the Father’s love. God’s love answers with angelic delivery of divine strength that enables Jesus to complete the purposes of His life. Prayer is not a divine wishing well. Prayer is entering the essence of God. Prayer is receiving the Father’s love and power to accomplish His plans and purposes for our lives.

Science and illusions of self-sufficiency often veil miraculous answers to prayer in the western world. Our unchanging God was—and is—a miracle worker. When you seek the Lord in prayer, expect Him to reveal Himself in you and through you.

Let’s Look Like Jesus: Holy Fear

This series of articles, “Let’s Look Like Jesus” complement the perpetual prayer list for Christian Character.

Holy Fear is actually the antidote to the horrible fear immobilizing so many in the world today.  Fear is a common part of our world; in fact, sometimes it seems fear makes the world go round.

Proverbs 28:14 challenges us though:  ‘happy is the man who is never without fear.’ The words stop me as all of the foolish fears of life eddy through my mind: the fear of aging and infirmity, the fear of disappointing or offending others, the fear of failing, and the fear of shame. The list is endless of those things that we can fear. Yet, those are the fears of evil which destroy life.   Dr. Caroline Leaf explains the deadly impact of fear-based thinking in this brief video:

 

Clearly the wise writer of Proverbs spoke of fears which lead to blessing and life.  There is a reverent fear…an awe…which protects from evil and leads to life.   There are earthly things which inspire a reverent fear. Electricity is one. We often take its power for granted but unleashed electricity is indeed a fearsome, deadly force. The wind is another. At times it is a gentle, refreshing breeze and others a destructive force beyond the control of our best efforts.

The only fear, though, that leads to happiness is awe of our eternal Creator. As a Christian, holy fear is that aspect of our character which flattens us before our mighty God. It is the reverent awe of lying prostrate before the King of Kings which transforms a child of God. It is an attribute of great value in the character of a child of God.

With reverence and fear as an integral trait, we will not only read the Word of God, we will seek to see it become alive in our relationships with others. We will take His Word not only as our standard but as the reality in which we long to live. Our choices will never become completely perfect…our humanity is not eliminated as the character of Christ controls us more fully.  Less of us and more of Him is a life-time process.

Fear of God, though, will lead us to trust in His design, to obedience to His ways. His blessings will overflow into the details of our days. Our lives, and the impact of our lives, will reap eternal rewards with a heart that is humbly reverent. Rejoice today in trusting submission to the Creator…in laying before Him every worry and care knowing that He can and will bring good!

Let’s Look Like Jesus: Integrity

Character is said to be ‘who we are when no one is looking.’  It is about integrity to our core beliefs.  As Christians, our life is Christ, so we ought to look Him.  We can’t do that if we don’t know Him well!  This series of Let’s Look Like Jesus is all about examining Character.  We began with humility…recognizing and embracing our limits.  Today, we consider what integrity to our identity looks like

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  Galatians 5:22-25

Integrity of character is the essence of the One who is Truth, but it is a fading attribute in this sin-damaged world. Disposable marriages, bankruptcies in Fortune 500 companies and situational ethics make the concept of intrinsic, lasting value increasingly elusive.

The Greek word for Truth encompasses the concept beautifully: ‘unveiled reality lying at the basis of and agreeing with an appearance.”

Jesus Christ is the expression of God’s character in all He says and does. The alignment of our lives with the Word produces a Spirit of Integrity in our character as well. A Christian demonstrating Christ’s spirit will be inherently trustworthy: a person who says what they mean and means what they say!

Genesis to Revelation speaks to this aspect of Christ’s character for His is the nature of the eternal, unchanging God. The character of Christ is unadulterated; it is the way to the Father. Christ reveals God in His manner of living: seek to know and do the will of the Father. Every account of Christ’s words and works found both their root and expression in the desire of God. The integrity of the pathway to God is clear in the character of Christ.

Christ’s character speaks of truth in the same manner. Just as Jesus commended Nathanael for his forthright speech, the words of Christ are not always politically correct or syrupy sweet. Jesus’ words ‘simply’ conveyed truth. Every word He spoke flowed directly from the Father’s desire to redeem a dying world. On the other hand, Satan’s words are often tempting and appealing for he masquerades as an Angel of Light. The father of lies used words to deceive people–to obscure truth.

Jesus lived with authenticity:

truth could be seen, heard and felt in His presence.

Completing the picture of integrity in Christ’s character is intrinsic life. As Creator and Sustainer of life, Jesus is life. Simple fleshly life is an incredible gift but only a shadow of the truth of real life! In an incomprehensible truth, God became man that He might die the deserved death of man. That sacrificial death on the Cross opened the doorway for the fullness of life God always planned for mankind. Jesus Christ is life through and through. The life of Christ dwells within every believer–true, eternal, holy life!

The transformation of our character into the likeness of Christ allows His glory to flow into every mundane aspect of earthly life. Integrity is beautiful when the core is Christ. Integrity matters–and it will make us look different from the world!

Sweet Fruit!

As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.   

Song of Solomon 2:3

Some tasty observations on a short morning walk and a simple grade school science fact have me rethinking a lifelong practice of early-morning berry picking. Better yet, my newly found berry fact reminds me of a God-truth. Time in the presence of the Son is sweet, and it sweetens the fruit of the Spirit dwelling in me!

The sun’s warmth persistently penetrated the morning fog as I walked along the wooded path toward town. The thorns of the blackberry bushes at trailside tugged on my jeans, and my delight in fresh berries tempted me to munch. Yielding to the lure, I popped a berry in my mouth. It was cool and juicy, but the sweetness that had enticed me was absent. I snacked my way to town never finding a sweet berry. A couple hours later, errands complete, I made my way back up the now sun-drenched path. In the mid-day heat, the glistening berries tempted me with a promise of juiciness. Surprisingly, this time the berries were delightfully sweet.

At the end of the trail, our neighbor–the caretaker of the bushes–happened to be working outside. He chuckled as I shared my puzzling observation, and said, “Of course. The sunlight draws the sugars up into the plant. Berries in the sunshine are always sweeter.”

Photosynthesis, of course, I should have known!

Out of that simple, natural-world truth, the Spirit reminded me of a more important truth: it is the warmth of the Son that draws wandering souls! There is sweetness in the Son’s powerful, persistent love that exists nowhere else. When I walk in the Son’s Light, my thoughts, words and actions fill with the sweetness of the indwelling Spirit! Just as the berries grow sweeter in the sun, I grow sweeter in the Son too!

Are you getting enough time in the Son? Are you walking within His light? He loves to share His sweetness. Soak in the Son and let His sweet Spirit ooze out of you.

How can we look like Christ?

The plan for believers in Christ is that we be transformed into the image of our Savior.  More than two decades after surrendering to God, I realize more and more how much work God still has to do in me!  The only way to know what God is doing in my transformation is to know more about the One whom I am to become like.

We are to be a source for the world to see God…I want people to see Him more than me.  God is worthy of our total dedication to know Him more and to reveal Him more.  As we learn more of His traits and practice them in the details of our lives, His purposes are accomplished.

Below is an incomplete list of Character Traits of Christ that I want to see more of in my life.  It makes a great Perpetual Prayer guide to go through each month.  Years ago, I began using it as a guide for praying for my children but quickly realized I–and every other child of God–needs the same prayers.  May it bless you as your pray through it.

1. Humility—willingness to submit.   James 4:10

2. Reverence—fear of the Lord.   Proverbs 9:10

3. Purity—desire to be clean.   Matthew 5:8

4. Purpose—wisdom to set goals.   Proverbs 4:25

5. Simplicity—an uncluttered life.   Romans 12:8

6. Commitment—dedication.   Joshua 24:15

7. Diligence—willing to work hard.   II Peter 1:5

8. Servanthood—desire to help others.   Galatians 6:9,10

9. Consistency—be faithful, reliable.   James 1:8

10. Restoration—ministry of healing.   Isaiah 61:1,2

11. Assurance—deep faith in God.   Hebrews 10:22

12. Availability—willing to go.   Isaiah 6:8

13. Loyalty—zeal for fidelity.   Ruth 1:16

14. Sensitivity—open heart.   Luke 10:30-37

15. Compassion—love in action.   Mark 8:1,2

16. Tenderness—willing to weep.   II Kings 22:19

17. Maturity—capable of growing.   Hebrews 5:12-14

18. Holiness—Christ-like actions. I Peter 1:16

19. Reliability—dependable.   I Corinthians 4:2

20. Authority—capable of commanding.    Matthew 16:19

21. Revelation—learn to listen.   Ephesians 1:15,18

22. Self-denial—willing to sacrifice.   Luke 9:23

23. Confidence—strength of the Lord.   Philippians 4:13

24. Integrity—truthful.   Romans 12:17

25. Repentance—willing to change.   Luke 3:8

26. Trust—fearless reliance. Psalm 125:1

27. Submission—choose to yield. Ephesians 5:21

28. Teachability—humble enough to learn. Titus 3:2

29. Prayerful—longing to wait.   Isaiah 40:31

30. Unity—respect for others.   1 Corinthians 1:10

31. Generosity—desire to give.   Matthew 10:8

Another great tool that aids in transformation is knowing God by Name.  My devotional book, Fixing our Eyes on God is one such tool.  The glory of God transforms!  Seek Him.

Glory Glimpse: Misjudging Jesus, the Nazarene

James Emery

James Emery

Jesus of Nazareth, the Nazarene, is our focal point today.  Though the Old Testament does not mention the village of Nazareth, Matthew declares that Jesus dwelt in Nazareth “that the words of the prophets might be fulfilled.”  Jesus referred to Himself as ‘of Nazareth, demons used the title and the cross of our Lord bore the reference.  That Jesus was of Nazareth—was a Nazarene—has tremendous significance for us.

Nazareth was a small village in Galilee near the border of Samaria.  Passing by the village was a well-traveled trade route that would have brought the ‘world’ into view for residents.  In the eyes of those passer-bys, Nazareth was a community of backward, uncultured people.  Devout Jewish people looked down upon this village almost as much as they despised Samaritans.  In the eyes of the religious, Nazareth was a community of pagans.  Very few saw the truth of Nazareth from God’s view.  Even the people of Nazareth failed to recognize Truth—for they would reject the One who came from them.  The disciple Nathanel conveyed the sentiments of the day toward Nazareth with his question, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Indeed, we know great good came from this despised village!  As the Crusaders of the 12th century inscribed on a church erected in Nazareth, “Here the Word was made flesh.”  For centuries, the prophets proclaimed the coming Messiah.  Some prophesies revealed His Kingly nature—some His Suffering Servant role.  Our human tendency is to hear and see that which promises pleasure:  preferring power to persecution is human self-preservation.  It is comfortable for us to be blind to Truth when it does not fit our plans and pre-conceived ideas.  Our Jesus, the Nazarene, calls us to seek the Father’s perspective and His acceptance above all else.  Jesus of Nazareth reminds us that God’s ways our not our ways.

Just as man erroneously judged the village of Nazareth, so, too, man mis-judges Jesus.  As Isaiah prophesied of the coming Messiah, Jesus was ‘despised and rejected of men’.  The plans of man have no room for suffering.  Yet, God chose Nazareth as the hometown of the Savior because rejection of the world is the path to acceptance of God.  Embracing the Nazarene, the One the world rejects, is the only way of acceptance for each one of us.  Only in Him–the Beloved–can God accept us.  This world, though created, loved and redeemed by Him, received Him not.  The world prefers the darkness of its own plans above the Truth and Light of the Father’s plans.    Love of the world cuts us off from the love of the Father.  May our hearts rejoice that Jesus, our Savior, accepted the path of rejection that acceptance would be ours.

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