Posts Tagged ‘in His image’

When Push Comes to Shove

March 25th, 2013

“They were about to . . take Him by force to make Him king.” John 6:15 NKJV.

Jesus will not be King at the time or terms of anyone but His Father.

My thoughts and comments today discuss “times when push comes to shove.”

Has anyone pressured you to become what they want you to be? Have you tried pressuring someone? How did that work out for you? Not so well, I would imagine. Manipulation of another is rarely successful and never as satisfying as you hoped. Yet many people insist God be and do as they wish. How has that worked out for you? Not so well either, I would imagine. But people still try.

Chastening Israel for their idolatry, the prophet Isaiah describes the folly of a man cutting wood to warm himself, roast his meat, “and of the residue he makes a god . . falls down and worships it, prays to it, and says, ’Deliver me for you are my god.’” Isaiah 44:17. How foolish you say? Without success, people try to force God to be what they prefer or do what they insist. A god of your making is not much of a god. Idolatry is not always the inadequate representation of God in wood or stone; more commonly, idolatry can take the form of your demands and expectations of God, to suit your convenience or pleasure.

God made you, “in His image and likeness.” He will not allow you to make Him, “into your image and likeness” – a god subservient to demands, catering to whims, excusing faults, indulging sins, supplying wants, requiring little, and giving much. God will not be coerced nor obliged to you. At all times, He will remain true to His nature, character, wisdom, and purpose. There always seemed efforts to force Jesus to comply in ways contrary to the Father or Jesus’ own substitutionary purpose – such as the Tempter’s taunting in the wilderness, the criticism and plotting of religious leaders, the resistance of His disciples, or the mocking crowd at the cross, “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross . . and we will believe.” See Matthew 27:40-44 NKJV.

Following Jesus’ miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fish, John reported, “When they had seen the sign that Jesus did, [they] said, ‘This is truly the Prophet [we have been expecting] (NLT).’  Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” John 6:14-15 NKJV. Imagine; to fit their expectations, people would attempt “by force to make Him king.”

Manage your reaction when God or others do not promptly bend to your will. Earlier in Jesus’ ministry, some people in His home synagogue in Nazareth became so angry with His words that, “they took [Jesus] to the top of the hill on which their town was built. They meant to throw him over the cliff, but He walked through the middle of the crowd and went His way.” Read Luke 4:28-30 TEV. Most are not as violent; some just persist, plead, and pout to weary any opposition. God is too wise and loves too much to indulge your insistence.

Jesus will not be King at the time or terms of anyone but His Father, nor should you be swayed by the coercive manipulation of others. You cannot force God to act in the way you want or at the time you want, just because that’s what you want. See Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV. God’s ways are best, whatever pressure you are feeling at the moment. Be wary “when push comes to shove,” in your relationship with the Lord Jesus on your journey of faith.

My prayer for you this day is that you will let God be God and accept His timing as perfect.

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March 20th, 2013

“God created man in His own image.” Genesis 1:27 NIV.

God is the Creator; you and I are to become His willing apprentices.

My thoughts and comments today are about “creativity.”

I admire people who understand and consecrate their creativity. Every person is gifted by God with creative abilities and potential, and that includes you. All persons are innately gifted in a diversity of ways and measures. On this, the Bible is clear.“God has given to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” Read 1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT.

I read an interesting quote about the creative process, “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Safely in God’s hands, you do not fear your mistakes. Creativity is so much more than the expression of one’s native talent, brilliance, or artistry. Creativity is the profound submission of yourself as a simple vessel through which the genius and greatness of God can flow. God is the Creator; you and I are to become His willing apprentices. The more prepared and diligent you are as you offer yourself to Him, the more creative you become.

Giftedness may differ in its nature or expression, but God is the source and origin of all gifts, and their best and fullest expression is with His empowerment and direction. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . .” James 1:17 NIV. Some use their giftedness constructively and profitably for the common good and well-being of themselves and others. “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” Proverbs 18:16 NKJV. Others leave gifts undiscovered or dormant, or use them selfishly and destructively.

God is the Creator. The Bible begins with the establishment of that truth, and underscores it in the New Testament. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . God created man in His own image . . all things were created by Him and for Him.” Genesis 1:1/27/Colossians 1:16-17 NIV. How then could you have been “created in His image and in His likeness” without potential for creative expression? Creativity should be more natural to us than is often the case. Creativity has to be valued and nurtured. As children, teens, or adults, some are praised and encouraged to cultivate their giftedness, while others lack necessary reassurance or opportunity to discover and develop latent gifts.

Among family and friends, I marvel at the unique expressions of Godly creativity. Often I see something as ordinary while they see extraordinary possibilities awaiting their touch. My wife is creative in so many ways, but especially as a hostess who makes anyone feel special; our son is an artistic genius at design and construction of homes and churches; our daughter sees beauty in people and loves them until they see it in themselves. (And talking about the grandchildren’s variety of interests and abilities, well that might just sound like bragging.)

Our friend, Jill, is masterful at managing people and administrating projects with skill and efficiency. Devi is a gifted author, teacher, and interior decorator. Ken, a pastor and church builder, is a creative force of unlimited ideas to reach and serve people. Rick and Andrew express exceptional creativity in sharing Biblical insights and teaching clarity. Rod has more stories, ideas, and images in his heart to communicate with children than he has time to fully pursue. Michael is an unbridled reserve of energy with wide-ranging, artistic creativity. Paul’s decided, “We have different gifts according to the grace given us . . use [your] gift in proportion to [your] faith.” Romans 12:6-8 NIV.

Pray as did Jabez, “Bless me and enlarge my territory.” Read 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NIV. Creative potential is unlimited, unless you accept boundaries or allow others to impose them. Unwise comparisons with others will undermine your own God-given gifts and your confidence in using them. Read 2 Corinthians 10:12-13 NKJV. Be inspired by others’ gifts, not intimidated; share your gifts freely, not sparingly. He gave them; glorify Him with them.

My prayer for you today is this: serve God and others well with the giftedness He gives.

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