Monthly Archives: November 2014

We Will Be “Like HIM”

With Thanksgiving approaching this week, and several dreary months of winter to follow, I gave a sermon this weekend on a subject that should literally compel us to be very thankful, AND remind us of one of the most encouraging themes of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ as well.  I intend to present this sermon in a 3-part series of weekly  blogs.

Today, I’d like to start out with a passage of scripture that it’s very easy to be inspired by, for a number of reasons. There’s at least three topics we could write about just in verse one. But today, I’d like to focus on a phrase in verse two.

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:1-2)

It’s that last phrase I want to focus on “we shall be like Him.”   What will it be like … to BE LIKE Him?

A Wonderful Future

1 John 3 isn’t the only scripture we could go to that hints at this wonderful future for those who commit themselves to following His example to the end.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Pet. 1:3-5)

And in this glorious future, we’re not going to be weak, feeble human beings anymore. We’re going to be something else, something “like Him.”

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Rom. 8:19-23)

But-we-all-with-unveiledWhy does the creation eagerly await the “revealing of the sons of God?” Because there will be many beings “like Him,” many liberators speaking the truths which set men free!

If I could personally come up with one word to describe this inner groaning while “waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body,” it would be “frustration.” God needs to know the real desires of our hearts, and what better way to assess that than to subject us to a world spiraling towards self-destruction, where we are virtually powerless to do anything against the evils that are causing it all?

For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom. 8:24-29)

Faithful in Little

In Luke 16:10, Christ reminds us, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much.” All of us have at least a small sphere of influence and responsibility in life, even if it’s just with friends and family. In the words of a quote I remember from the TV show Kung Fu, “Grasshopper … To do good anywhere is to do good everywhere.” Once we are “like Him,” we’ll have virtually limitless power to transform lives. To do good, and not like the “do gooders” of today, where they often cause more harm than good.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)

We could read on through this chapter and describe the, at times, painful transformation of putting “to death your members which are on the earth” and being transformed into “the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Col. 3:5, 10). We don’t just become “like Him” with no effort.

And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. (1 Cor 15:49)

So 1 John 3:2 isn’t the only place we are told we will be like Him and be with Him,  if we hold fast and stay faithful in the “little things.” In fact, it’s a promise reiterated numerous times in the Bible.

Real Life

For every one of us, to even be able to contemplate the possibility of being “like Him” is something to be greatly thankful for. But I doubt it’s something any of us would even care about if God hadn’t given us this calling we have. The carnal mind – the old man – isn’t able to value the things of God. The new man with this expectation of becoming like Him can at least begin to comprehend what Jesus Christ spoke of in this verse, for example:

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. (John 14:12)

So how will your real life begin, the one where you are “like Him”?

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thes. 4:13-18)

This vision for the future really should be a comfort to us, as well as a great incentive to hang on no matter what. Actually being “like Him” is a glorious future to look forward to, and even being able to understand that is a great gift. So in this season of of rejoicing and Thanksgiving, what better question could we ask ourselves and meditate on during the cold winter months ahead than, “What does it mean, and what will it be like, to BE LIKE Him?”

A Thanksgiving Post

I read an article last week by a lady who was just tickled pink that Wal-Mart was beginning the Christmas shopping season 2 full months in advance of the holiday. You just don’t see that kind of sentiment expressed about Thanksgiving today. It’s just “Turkey Day” to some people, like a speed-bump on the way to December’s big party.

But giving thanks to God is a hugely important concept, and not just on a certain Thursday in November. Thankfully, we have a Bible full of examples of how the true servants of God gave thanks and offered praise to the great God beings who make up the God family today.

O, Give Thanks

Probably the greatest of thanks-givers is King David, who really raised thanksgiving to an art form in practice in his kingdom, and in his writings for those of us who would follow. In particularly, there is one often used phrase that caught my eye this week in psalms.

That phrase reads like this, “Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and His mercy endures forever.” It is fist found in 1 Chronicles 16:34 in a special psalm David wrote for the entry of the ark into the holy city, Jerusalem. Lets start at the beginning of the chapter to set the stage.

So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. Then they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord. Then he distributed to everyone of Israel, both man and woman, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins.

And he appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the Lord God of Israel: Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, then Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, and Obed-Edom: Jeiel with stringed instruments and harps, but Asaph made music with cymbals; Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests regularly blew the trumpets before the ark of the covenant of God.

On that day David first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the Lord: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! (1 Chron. 16:1-10)

So David spared no expense, and really put a great deal of effort into praising God and giving thanks to Him

Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. …

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.” Let the sea roar, and all its fullness; let the field rejoice, and all that is in it. Then the trees of the woods shall rejoice before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth. Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (1 Chron. 16: 23-24,31-34)

The word “thanks” is from the Hebrew word yada (H3034). The root word means to throw … especially to revere or worship with extended hands. So figuratively, we are to be throwing our praise and thanks up to God. David focuses this on two particular attributes of God’s character: that He is “good” and His “mercy” is forever.

“Mercy” (H2617) is chesed in Hebrew. It means loving kindness, gentleness, steadfastness, love, faithfulness, goodness, justice, righteousness. The word “endures” is in italics (though you can’t see it in this quote), meaning the translators inserted it to clarify the meaning, but I don’t know that word “forever” in the Hebrew needs much clarification. Olam (H5769) means ever-lasting, limitless, and eternal. God’s mercy is forever! It knows no limitations.

Thanksgiving Style

This phrase, coined by David, is used 12 times in the Old Testament, and David’s style of thanksgiving seems to have been somewhat legendary among the prophets of God. Take Ezra for example, at the time of the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem.

 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel. And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord: “For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever toward Israel.” Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. (Ezra 3:10-11)

When we look at Nehemiah 12:22-24, at the time of the dedication of the wall, we see that there were genealogical records kept so they never lost track of the courses of the priests and Levites established by David. There were whole family groups appointed specifically for the purpose of praising and thanking god, and they alternated so that the praise would be continual before God, “According to the command of David, the man of God”.

So I brought the leaders of Judah up on the wall, and appointed two large thanksgiving choirs. One went to the right hand on the wall toward the Refuse Gate.  … The other thanksgiving choir went the opposite way, and I was behind them with half of the people on the wall, going past the Tower of the Ovens as far as the Broad Wall, and above the Gate of Ephraim, above the Old Gate, above the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate; and they stopped by the Gate of the Prison. So the two thanksgiving choirs stood in the house of God, likewise I and the half of the rulers with me (Neh. 12:31, 38-40)

Here again we see another great occasion with a great deal of effort and thought put into thanksgiving and praising God. It must have been a grand thing to participate in, and to behold.

Our Praise

The God beings we worship today are the same ones Who were the subject of all of David, Ezra, Nehemiah, and others great words and deeds in giving appropriate and proper praise and thanks to God in their day. He saw all of their efforts, and obviously looked upon them with favor.

We aren’t living in ancient Israel today. The priests and Levites are long gone, and we just don’t have the numbers to muster large thanksgiving choirs. The culture of our day – by and large – doesn’t seem to have much, if any inclination at all to thank God for all of His goodness and His limitless mercy, but He is still good and His mercy is still without end.

You and I are individuals called out of this world to know that good and merciful God, and each of us can have within us the mind and heart of a David, an Ezra, or a Nehemiah that can make us shine out to God as a light in a dark place.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:15-20)

These verses in Ephesians tell us how we are to express our gratitude to God in our day and age. It doesn’t seem grand and showy by comparison with what we read about in the Old Testament, with large choirs and groups of Levites offering continuous praise. It is more personal, between ourselves, the brethren, and God, in our hearts.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:4-7)

We see here a very desire able result of giving praise and thanksgiving to God. It supplies us with something to be even more thankful for – to have the peace of God (which we don’t even fully understand) on guard over our hearts and minds. To put it in David’s words again, “Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and His mercy endures forever”

The Wait

We all spend an uncomfortable amount of time waiting. But I don’t like waiting, and it’s been my observation that few human beings do. We wait in traffic on our commute to work, at traffic lights, on hold on the phone, in super store check-out lines, at restaurants … but we do not enjoy it, and most of us don’t even like waiting on God. But as often is the case, our God has other ideas. He knows what is truly best for us, and He knows that waiting produces great fruit in the lives of human beings.

The Good In Waiting

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless (2 Pet. 3:13-14)

The Greek word translated “look for” is prosdokao (G4328), and Strong’s dictionary says it means ” to anticipate (in thought, hope or fear); by implication to await: – (be in) expect (-ation), look (for), when looked, tarry, wait for.” So this tells us we are anticipating and awaiting the promises of God.

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; let me not be ashamed; let not my enemies triumph over me. Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day. (Ps. 25:1-5)

Here we see David as a shining example of a man after God’s own heart. Look at this attitude. In Hebrew, “wait” is  qavah (H6960), it means to look for something, and to wait with hope. At the word’s root, it means to bind together, gather, or collect. So the idea of awaiting something with hope is connected to being gathered together. I wonder … would we regularly meet together as a body of believers if it wasn’t for the expectation of Christ’s return? The thing we await helps bind us together.

Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. (Ps. 37:1-7)

Again, we see David expressing the promises of God to those who faithfully believe in and follow Him … and just look at how many blessings are promised for waiting. It seems that waiting can be a really good thing for us.

Waiting to Grow

I don’t know about you, but I usually think of Lamentations as a depressing book. It’s one of the reasons Jeremiah is called “the weeping prophet,” after all. But there is a passage in this book that is filled with great hope.

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lam. 3:21-2)

Even at a time of great anguish in his life and in his nation, Jeremiah was able to say this, and have hope because he waited on the Lord.

Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence — as fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil — to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, the mountains shook at Your presence. For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him. (Isa. 64:1-4)

Sounds like Isaiah was about at the end of his patience here. But he’s still waiting, because he is assured that God will act on behalf of those who wait on Him. We see a very close parallel to this in 1 Corinthians.

But as it is written:  “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (1 Cor. 2:9-10)

Brethren, I find it extremely interesting that instead of the words “wait for” that we read in Isaiah 64, here we see the word “love.” When you stop to think about it, possibly the greatest way to express our love for Him, our faith and hope in Him, and our trust in the veracity of His word is to wait.

Waiting helps us to grow, helps our faith to mature, and develops many attributes of character that God wants to see in us. When He does see them, He fulfills vs. 10 in our lives. We all want to see more deeply into the wonderful mysteries of God’s word, but He expects us to wait for Him to reveal them, no matter how long it may take.

Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. (Luke 12:35-38)

Here in Luke, Jesus Christ Himself tells us exactly what kind of mindset we should have about waiting for Him. So take heart in the assurance that good things really do come to those who wait.

The Relationship

“And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing. Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. (Luke 22:22-24)

This passage, from the last Passover Jesus Christ kept with His disciples, illustrates that pride was a very real problem even for those who were named as a part of the foundation of the New Testament church of God. In Matt. 26:22 it says each one of the disciples asked Him, “Lord, is it I?” when Christ said that one of them would betray Him. But from this brief moment of introspection, they went right into a dispute about who would be greatest!

This desire for self exaltation is so strong among human beings that we consider the story of Johnathan and his self-less friendship with David – who he knew would replace his father as king – a highly unusual departure from basic human nature. Self-exaltation, in one form or another is a priority for nearly every one on the planet, especially every male.

But what about the two members of the Godhead? I’d like to take a brief look at their thoughts and their ways in regard to each other.

The Greatest

There are several places in the Old Testament where God admits that He is a jealous God, but are the Father and the Son ever jealous of one another? Do they ever argue about who is greatest? Do they care if human worshipers give one of Them more honor than the other?

You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)

So there you have it in plain words spoken by “the Word,” the logos himself … “my Father is greater than I.” Just to re-enforce this point a little bit, let’s read John 5.

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. …

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5:19, 30)

Jesus, the Christ speaks of Himself as “the One sent” 48 times in the 4 gospels, and in John 4:34 He says, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” Doing what the Father wanted Him to do is what really sustained Him.  You see this same thing throughout the New Testament. Christ is always in the submissive role, and always yielding to the Father’s ways, and the Father’s thoughts and will. And we see in Hebrews 10 just how far the Son was willing to go with this submission.

Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come — in the volume of the book it is written of Me — to do Your will, O God.’ (Heb. 10:5-7)

So the Father, clearly is “the greatest.” There is no argument about that between Him and the Son, so … as “the greatest,” how does He conduct Himself towards the Son?

Lord and Christ

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matt. 28:18)

The Greek word translated “authority” is exousia (G1849), and it also means delegated influence, privilege, jurisdiction, liberty, and permission. Now, if all authority was given to Him, there had to be a giver … and who could that “giver” be but His Father? This can be viewed as a measure of the love and respect of the Father for His Son, who had ‘finished the work that He was given to do’ … a son with whom He was ‘well-pleased.’ But this greater God being didn’t stop there …as He spelled out in greater detail elsewhere in the New Testament.

This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. … Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:32-33, 36)

John the baptist described Jesus as He who would “baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire” … but that’s not all, as verse 36 points out here in Acts. The title “Lord” is kurios (G2962) in the Greek, and it means owner, master, and ruler. “Christ” is from the word Christos (G5547), and it means, the anointed. So, the Father anointed Him to be the owner, master, and ruler of all mankind, who also has been given “authority over all flesh” (John 17:2).

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Eph. 1:15-23)

This is one of those sections of scripture that you have to read through real slow … thinking about the deep meaning of every word. I’ve probably done that a thousand times, and I still wonder if I’m getting it. Once again, we see something of great importance and gravity being given to Jesus, the Lord and Christ, by His Father who is … “greater” than He. Notice these gifts always include an increase of His responsibility over the welfare of humanity.

Brethren, these are just a few examples of how the “greater” God has exalted and honored the “One sent”, and, in fact has made Him to be the one indispensable link between us and Himself, and thus the goal of eternal life as well.

Hope of Eternity

In fact, there are 441 New Testament  scriptures that speak of Him in exactly those terms … as being the one in whom, through whom, by whom, and in the name of whom we have the hope of eternal life, and through whom we have our relationship with the Father, and all of this by the will and direction of God the Father, who is “the greatest.” I can think of no better area of the word of God to go to to summarize “The Relationship” than this one:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:5-11)

Notice that it glorifies God the Father when we submit ourselves to His will by honoring and glorifying His son, and confess His ownership, His mastery of, and His rulership over us as our ‘kurios‘ in all of the offices and functions to which the Father has appointed Him.
When we do that, we are “letting the mind of Christ be in us.” We are submitting our thoughts and our ways to Gods thoughts and ways. And when we do that, we come closer and closer ourselves, to being invited by these two Beings to fully participate in “The Relationship”!