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Posts Tagged ‘conformed’

An Original

September 28th, 2012

“[God] fashions their hearts individually.” Psalm 33:15 NKJV

Pressures can conform you into something other than your God-given uniqueness.

My thoughts and comments today are about “an original.”

I find the endless creativity of God amazing. “He created everything there is. Nothing exists that He didn’t make. Life itself was in Him, and this life gives light to everyone . . For everything comes form Him; everything exists by His power and is intended for His glory. To Him be glory evermore. Amen.” John 1:3-4/Romans 11:36 NLT. Of all the people who have lived before you and all who live alongside you, there are no two identical fingerprints. The structure of each and every snowflake is unique to itself. And who but the Creator of all could imagine the limitless possibilities or create the variety of plants, or the species of insects and animals? The things the most creative people make are mere discoveries of what God has created, or adaptations and improvements of what has been made.

Very little is truly original; but you are an original – fashioned by God, made in His image, gifted for achievement, and destined for purpose. There is no one exactly like you, before or after you. Why then would you be willing to be a cheap copy of anyone else? In life, as in art, a copy however masterfully reproduced is of lesser value to the original. You sell yourself short and discredit the One who lovingly made you when you fail to identify and celebrate your originality. The Psalmist marveled at the creativity of God with these words, “The Lord looks from Heaven . . He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.” Psalm 33:13-15 NKJV.

Read again those words, “[God] fashions their hearts individually.” God doesn’t deal with people en masse – neither by ethnicity, nationality, religion, nor by associations or family. You stand individually made by God and personally responsible to God. Your heart, in its original purity, is fashioned by God personally. The practical application is this: God will work in your heart in ways unique to how He fashioned you to be. God may speak into your heart differently than He makes Himself known to others. God’s way of relating to you will be suited to the personality and temperament that He gave you.

I think Paul’s instruction is relevant, “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 12:1-2 NIV. Internal and external pressures can conform you into something other than the uniqueness with which God endowed you. Maybe you don’t wish to be different, but neither should you default by conforming to others’ opinions or expectations.

By His original design and continuing intent, God is working in your life transformatively, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose . . predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son . .” Romans 8:28-29 NIV. You are an original, yet all of us remain a work in progress, a work of His hands He is faithful to complete. “God, who calls you, is faithful; He will do this.” Read 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NLT. See 1 John 3:1-3 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you become only and all that God created you to be.

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Clarity

June 4th, 2012

“Then we will see everything with perfect clarity.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT

The promise of good is incomplete without the process of being conformed.

My thoughts and comments today are about “clarity.”

What I have observed about myself and others is this: we cannot know everything we need to know, and often don’t understand everything we think we know. That is especially true when it comes to matters involving God’s will and His actions (or presumed inaction) in everyday life. Are you perplexed about something God has done, or more particularly a time when God hasn’t done what you wanted or believed He would? Sometimes in one’s life of faith, there seem to be more questions than answers.

Understanding can become a bit clouded, less clear than may feel comfortable to you. I have friends who live with serious health issues, and have for too long of a time. They are good people; they have served God faithfully, often carrying the burden of others’ needs. Maybe your present situation is like theirs in one way or another – a marriage that doesn’t heal, a prodigal who doesn’t return, financial crises that aren’t resolved. How does your heart and mind personally reconcile God’s righteous character and gracious care with the apparent absence of relief to dear people who trust God – loving and serving Him – even in the face of their own dire needs? My friend, Dennis, wisely observed that our present experience is safely” bound within God’s sovereignty, not our own choice or devil’s device.” Our time continuum is so small, eternity so vast.

Faith must occasionally wrestle with an apparent gap between God’s wisdom in a particular circumstance and His will and character as expressed in the Bible. In spite of what may first appear, there is no inconsistency. The Apostle Paul experienced such times and found satisfaction in God’s answer, “My grace is sufficient for you.” See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV. There is a day when God gives clarity, but that day is not necessarily this day. This verse describes both psychic pain and spiritual promise, “Now we see things imperfectly . .  but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT. Just as God knows! What a day that will be.

Here is the problem as I see it. The Bible says our knowledge and understanding are “imperfect, partial and incomplete.” There are times and situations when the miniscule portion of reality you see is not the full reality, until you are able to understand more clearly all that God is doing in this moment and how your small puzzle piece complements the over-arching purposes and providence of God. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God . . who are called  according to His purpose . . to become conformed to the image of His Son.Romans 8:28-29 NAS. The promise of good is incomplete without the process of being conformed. Romans 12:1-2 NIV.

The Bible’s good news is this. “Then you will see everything with perfect clarity . . then you will know everything completely, just as God knows you now.” Supposed ambiguity can yield to profound clarity about the will of God, when balanced with the eternal wisdom with which He lovingly and sovereignly directs the affairs of your life as well as His church and world. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge God and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV. Life requires trust; trust yields spiritual clarity.

My prayer for you today is that you will be clear about Who God is and what He does.

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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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Seeing the Good

May 25th, 2010

“Prove all things; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21 KJV.

“Everything that is good or will be good, may not seem good to you at the time.”

My thoughts today are about “seeing the good.”

Maybe everyone’s mother said, “Eat your vegetables; they’re good for you.” All I knew was that they didn’t look good, and I didn’t think they would taste good either, and I had no interest in trying them. But Mom knew best (and was the boss!); she knew, and had convinced Dad, the nutrition and vitamins that I needed, and that my tastes would eventually mature and change.

Ever wonder who decides what’s good and what’s not? It would seem to me that only the one who knows why something is good can pronounce it as such. God looked at His creation and pronounced, “It is very good.” Genesis 1. God should know!

Eventually you learn that everything that is good, or will be good, may not seem good at the time. Usually, good is a subjective and arbitrary interpretation of how you feel about something at the moment, rather than an accurate evaluation of potential or intrinsic value. People rush to judgment, with little time or regard, accepting as fact what they judge true right now.

If you know the story of Joseph, you know how amazing is the grace and forgiveness he showed his brothers and the even greater faith in God he demonstrated when he said, “God intended it for good.” How they treated Joseph was not good by any definition, and what subsequently happened to him because of their behavior could not be described as good.

Joseph did not feel good about being abandoned in a pit, and sold as a slave far from home. He did not feel good about a woman’s accusations and lies, nor see any good about being wrongly thrown into prison. The day came when he saw the providential hand of God all along the way – not causing the very bad things that happened to him – but faithfully orchestrating the good that did result. Not good at the time, but best in God’s time! Then Joseph could confidently say, “You planned evil against me, but God intended it for good.” Genesis 50:20.

Much later, the Apostle Paul would write, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV. Really, there are difficult times when trusting that truth is quite a leap of faith. Remember; God does not promise everything begins as a good thing or concludes in the way you regard good, nor that the promise is true for every individual who wishes it to be – it is only irrevocably true for those “who love God, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Read the verse that follows. The good to which God promises to work is: according to His purpose for your life. And what is that? “To be conformed to the likeness of His Son!” Romans 8:29 NIV. That’s what life is all about; that is very good.

My prayer for you today is that you understand all that is good is always best.

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