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Posts Tagged ‘2 Corinthians 3:18’

Culture Wars

February 19th, 2018

Cues from a wrong source are misleading.

“You ought to live holy and Godly lives, as you look forward

to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Peter 3:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Culture Wars.”

There are things about the current, secular culture that disturb me. I am disturbed that we too often take our cues from unworthy and inappropriate sources, with neither discernment nor discrimination. Much of the surrounding culture has a far greater influence on the Church and its people than could ever be justified – whether speaking of morals, materialism, or immodesty as expressed in fashion, media, music, profanity, incivility, or self-centeredness. We seem to take our cues from those wrong sources without discernment that we are doing so. Apparently, we are afraid to look different as we mimic the surrounding styles of how we dress, how we talk, and to a greater degree, how we live.

The Bible provides clarity. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV. When I was a young teen, the Church seemed to take a reactionary stance to the culture that appeared imbalanced and in clear opposition. Conversely today, we are too concerned about fitting in with the culture and too comfortable when we do.

Then, Christians seemed to consciously try to look, act, and talk differently. It might be wiser to just confidently and comfortably choose to be who we are always called to be, “Salt and Light,” in a deteriorating and darkening world. In retrospect, However, I believe my grandparents’ and parents’ generations chose a safer margin for error with less consequences than may result from our indecisive course today.

The Bible’s counsel is wise, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father, but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 NIV. Be advised and wise and live successfully and effectively now and eternally safe forever.

Today, we seem to feel the need to apologize that our standards and expectations are other than the surrounding cultural norms. Because we are unclear about how to be Godly people in an ungodly age, a generation of young “teens and twenties” are confused, and thereby easily succumb to the bombardment of media, movies, music, fashion, and celebrities’ lifestyles to determine how they should dress, talk, think, and live.

The nature of the culture is not what disturbs me most. That is neither surprising nor redeemable except on an individual basis, never collectively. I am concerned about the secular culture’s influence and our naive approach to the lure of their example. Why mimic the opinions and lifestyle of celebrities because they have wealth or fame, lavishly granted from those whom they merely amuse and entertain? Except for few exceptions, they are in graphic contrast and conflict with what the follower of Jesus is meant to be, never examples to be esteemed and followed.

The Apostle Peter asked and answered a reasonable, but probing, question to the young churches and new Christians. “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and Godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Peter 3:11-12 NIV. You must ask and answer that question for yourself, “What kind of person ought I to be?” Life is best lived with a singular focus. As a follower of Jesus, I would suggest Paul’s words to you, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV.

Choose carefully the people you admire and emulate, or you will find yourself in a gradual decline and indiscernible process of becoming like them. There is a clear and right choice to make. “Christ, is your example. Follow in His steps: He never sinned, never told a lie, never answered back when insulted; when He suffered He did not threaten to get even; He left his case in the hands of God Who always judges fairly.” 1 Peter 2:21-24 TLB. Yours and my goal should be to allow the Word of God and invite the Holy Spirit to make us a little more like Jesus every day.

Today, I pray for you to be a Godly example of a chaste and consecrated life of faith.

Christian Communications 2018

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High Standards

August 28th, 2015

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Colossians 3:17 NIV.

Passionately protest mediocrity.

My thoughts and comments today are about “high standards.”

Standards are important to a worthwhile life. Standards provide a benchmark – a standard of excellence against which similar things must be measured or judged – for what you deem acceptable or unacceptable. Using others as your standard is inadequate. If you don’t establish your standards, your friends or the surrounding culture will. “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV.

A person with low standards ultimately has no standards. The Father’s intention for us is clear: “Until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a [mature] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 NKJV. That is a high standard, fully achievable in Christ Jesus. Maturity is your destiny in Christ.

Some years ago, while teaching a Pastoral Counseling class to young Bible school students, I needed to define spiritual maturity in practical terms. This is my definition, “Spiritual maturity is rightly responding to life’s situations according to Biblical patterns of behavior.” That defines our Savior and should describe you and me. Christ-likeness should always be your choice. In any and every situation, you are presented with this choice, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 NKJV.

Spiritual conformation is the progression by which the Holy Spirit accomplishes that. “We know that when Jesus is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2 NKJV. Meanwhile, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV. Maturity is much more than increasing Biblical knowledge. Maturity is the embodiment of Biblical truth woven into the fabric of daily life – how you think, what you will sacrifice, what you believe, how you behave, what you value, how you live.

God’s Word and Christ’s example are high standards, not achievable apart from submission to the Lordship of Christ and dependence upon the indwelling power of the Spirit. Paul applied these high standards in simple, practical terms: bear with each other; forgive grievances; embrace love; let peace rule; be thankful; let the Word dwell in you; admonish with wisdom. Paul’s summary was, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Read Colossians 3:12-17 NIV. Passionately protest mediocrity; for me, that says it all.

Today, I pray for you that Jesus is the high standard to which you aspire.

Christian Communications

EDL PIX and quote standards

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Achieving Your Potential

November 4th, 2014

“Stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Colossians 4:12 NIV.

Spiritual disciplines determine spiritual potential.

My thoughts and comments today are about “achieving your potential.”

Your innate desire to be more than you have been is from God. You have a God-given potential to become more than you have imagined. Boundaries are limits imposed by yourself or others. You were created “in the image and likeness of God.” Imagine the potential, presently and eternally, that God has invested in you. The only uncertainty is whether you will recognize and realize the divine potential within you. When you think of “achieving your potential,” what do you envision? Your capabilities will likely be more than your accomplishments.

Recognition of potential is the prerequisite for achieving potential. Paul described Godly potential this way: “That you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Colossians 4:12 NIV. Do those words – “standing firm . . mature . . fully assured” – describe you? They can. Achieving your potential does not just happen; the process requires purpose and priority, as well as sacrifice. And add patience, perseverance, and obedience to that list. Your full potential, being “mature and fully assured,” rests upon your priority and practice of living fully within the will of God.

Spiritual maturity is the pathway to your potential. “. . that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:12 NIV. Maturity is not measured by comparison with others. Paul warned of those who, “. . measure themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12. Jesus is the only adequate and accurate standard for comparison. Not only is Jesus the standard by which you will be measured, He is the willing accomplice for all of your spiritual accomplishment.

Spiritual maturity is the goal; becoming like Jesus is the process. Be patient; your spiritual potential is achieved progressively in a process that is lifelong. “As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him and reflect His glory even more.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT. In the simplest of terms, spiritual maturity can be described as Christ-likeness. See Romans 8:28. There is very good news about this process. John wrote, “We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” Read 1 John 3:1-3 NIV. Usually, we seem unclear as to the practical implications of Christ-likeness. Here is a useful, practical definition that has helped me. “Spiritual maturity is rightly responding to life’s situations according to Biblical patterns of behavior.” In every circumstance, a good question to ask is, “What would Jesus do?”  Your natural tendencies do not lend themselves to spiritual achievement.

Spiritual disciplines govern spiritual potential. (1) God’s Word is essential to spiritual life. “Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise . .” Colossians 3:16-17 NLT. Spiritual maturity is achieved through a growing knowledge of the Word of God and a deepening obedience to the ways of God. (2) Welcome the Holy Spirit to rule your heart. “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do . . let the Holy Spirit fill and control you . . making music to the Lord in your hearts. And you will always give thanks for everything to God.” Ephesians 5:17-20 NLT. See Galatians 5:8-10/22-23. (3) Make prayer a daily priority. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 NIV. See Philippians 4:6-7 NIV. (4) Let love be your lifestyle. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John  13:34.

Today, my prayer for you is to refuse limits that prevent your being all that God intends.

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The Process of Progress

March 6th, 2013

“We . . are being transformed . . with ever increasing glory.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV.

Real changes are deliberate and progressive rather than immediate.

Since our first grandchildren, Gayle has stubbornly perpetuated an annual day when each child’s height is measured, marked, and dated on the same piece of door trim. Each kid hopes for a spectacular burst of growth; in reality, their growth is noticeable but seldom if ever as notable as they wish. They want growth that surpasses and amazes their siblings and cousins, and probably to reassure themselves. Good health, profitable habits, and time seem to be the things that propel growth, not yearning or extra effort.

Like me, do you always want your progress to be noticeable and notable in your life? I am usually in a hurry and have high expectations of my ability to grow and change. My desire usually exceeds my ability. But in my life, changes seem to be ordinary and incremental, hardly worth bragging about and seldom spectacular. But maybe that’s God plan. Maybe the right changes are meant to be more deliberate and progressive than immediate. Be patient and faithful.

Isaiah describes process as basic to growth, “For precept must be upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” Isaiah 28:10 NKJV. Everything God does rests on everything God has done. Kindergarten built on what you learned at home, and that laid the necessary, educational foundation for Elementary studies and learning, and the same for Junior High, High School, and College. And all of that was just to prepare you for life itself. Education is a process of progress.

Paul describes the process of spiritual growth this way, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV. God’s glory emanating from your life is a process, “from glory to glory.”

In the above verse, I see three practical steps in the process of spiritual maturity: (1) “Unveiled faces,” suggests that nothing or no one can be allowed to distract or compete with your singular focus and dependence upon the Holy One who works within you. See Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV. (2) “Reflect the Lord’s glory . . into His likeness,” are the direction and defined goals to which you must dedicate your efforts – His glory and His likeness. (3) “Being transformed . . with ever increasing glory,”describes the incremental process whereby God accomplishes effective and enduring change through your experience and expression of His own glory. “Ever increasing glory;” I like the sound of that!

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV. The longest journey begins with a single step and is completed by every succeeding step in the right direction. Real spiritual growth and development result from a process of progress. Read Zechariah 4:10 NKJV. You won’t become Christ-like all at once, but you can become a little more like Him each day. See Ephesians 4:13-15 NKJV. It isn’t how much of the Bible you know, but it is how much of the Bible you believe and obey every day. You will not impact a whole world all at once, but you can touch one life at every opportunity.

My prayer for you this day is that you learn to trust God’s process.

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Copy or Original?

November 22nd, 2011

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world.” Romans 12:2 NLT

“Conformity to this world is the gradual sale of one’s soul by installments.”

My thoughts today ask are you a “copy or original?”

Chameleons are interesting. There are 150 known species and many facts unique to them. Probably the most well known fact is the ability of some species to change their color for social communication or as camouflage for survival. Those species adapt their color to blend with their surroundings, reducing their visibility for cover as a predator or for their safety from a predator. Hence, some people are described as “like a chameleon,” definitely not a compliment.

Here’s the Bible’s advice: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.” Romans 12:2 NLT. Read that slowly. When you “let God transform you . . by changing the way you think,” only then will you truly discover who you are and, ”what God wants you to do.” God’s will is elusive when you conform yourself to any other will or pleasure.

Conformity evidences that you: embrace a lesser god; display a diminished identity; accept a smaller future; and have compromised your potential. This is the problem. If you don’t have a proper model for who you are and can be, then you will choose companions of convenience rather than example. The Bible warns, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning . .” 1 Corinthians 15:34 NIV.

While busy copying someone else – to fit in, or be popular or accepted by the crowd – you gradually lose any sense of who you are, your uniqueness disappearing little by little. Be careful; when you become a copy of others you compromise your future, selling your soul on installments. Be the original God made you to be. This world – with its behavior and customs – is not your home and neither will it be your friend, for . . “your citizenship is in Heaven . . for this world in its present form is passing away.” See Philippians 3:17-21 NKJV/1 Corinthians 7:31 NIV. You are an original, custom designed by God with no one else exactly like you. Be a priceless original, not a cheap copy.

Jesus is your Example! “For the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose . . to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” Romans 8:28-30 NIV. Spiritual disciplines are transformative – God’s Word, worship, prayer, Christian fellowship, obedience, Bible meditation, or any spiritual exercise has eternal influence. “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV. Choose to be a little more like Jesus everyday; with His help and grace that is do-able.

My prayer for you today is that you are not tempted to be other than as God made you.

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