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He Wants To Live Through You
Dr. Bill Gillham, www.lifetime.org
"If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him" (Romans 8:9b).
When you turned toward Jesus to become a Christian, the "Spirit of Christ" (Holy Spirit) entered into you. Why did Jesus come into you? Why didn't Jesus come before you so He could lead you (some say that's His function); or beside you so you could lean on Him when you grow weary (some say this is His function); or behind you to give you a jump start when you need help (others claim this is His job), or perhaps under you to carry you when you can't make it on your own (as the poem "In His Steps" teaches)?
It's because Jesus is the only One who ever has or who ever will live the life which is pleasing to the Father, and He is to express His life through you on a moment-by-moment basis. Christ's life alone gets God's Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Everything else is trashed.
It's presumptuous of any person to think he can emulate the life of Christ.
God doesn't want to "help" you live on earth any more than He wanted to "help" you get saved. He did it all for you then: He's made provision through Christ to do it all for you now. This way God, not you, gets the honor (glory).
Salvation is all of God, nothing of man. Guys, the Christian life is to be experienced in exactly the same way it's begun. He wants to do it all for you, through you. In this way He gets just as much glory (credit) for saving you from the hell of life as He does for saving you from the hell of death, and He gets to build the intimate, bonding relationship with you which He longs for.
He died to attain this relationship with you! Imagine that! Please don't continue in your independent self-sufficiency, naively believing that this is pleasing to the Father, that He is proud of your strength. He's covered this in His love letter: "They will be held guilty, they whose strength is their god" (Habakkuk 1:11).
Your personal strength is His enemy. It keeps you from intimate fellowship with Him.
Freedom or Slavery?
Anabel Gillham, www.lifetime.org
"...for by what a man is overcome,
by this he is enslaved" 2 Peter 2:19
I read that verse and decided to dig a little deeper for understanding. I checked with my friend, Mr. Webster, to clarify some meanings:
Overcome: to get the better of in competition; to master; prevail over; or surmount; to win.
Slave: a person having no freedom or personal rights; one dominated by some influence.
Let's imagine a person "enslaved" to some sort of drugs. What is he like? Well, from what I've read or heard from those with whom we have counseled, he is a driven person with one passionate goal—to satisfy a burning need. This desire may be so all-consuming and powerful that in seeking to meet this craving he is in danger of harming others or himself. His whole body is screaming out for satisfaction—the sense of well being that this "force" inside him will bring about when he is "high"—when he is "overcome" by this urgency—this frantic need. When this happens, he has the feeling that all is well. He is confident. He has no fear. He does things he normally wouldn't do. His will has been "anesthetized." He has no control. He is "enslaved" to this drive.
Lord, I know that other things can control me—it doesn't have to be a substance that abuses my body like drugs or alcohol. It can be anger or pride or depression, any number of things, and when I am under the "control" of these things I am "enslaved" to them. I might lash out with hurtful words to someone I dearly love, or do things that I know are wrong. It seems as though my will is anesthetized! I do what I don't really want to do. I am under the domination of something or someone.
Now, let's think about a person enslaved to Jesus Christ. What is this person like? He has this burning passion to know Jesus and to bring honor to Him and that passion may be so all-consuming and powerful that he gives himself and all he possesses completely to fulfilling that passion. When this person is under the control of this inner "force" there is confidence, there is no fear, there is a peace that is inexplicable to others. He does things that he normally wouldn't do—kind things, loving things, thinking of others and how to encourage them. This "inner force" controls him.
There is this profound difference: A person enslaved to drugs has lost control of his will—the desperate craving of his body controls him. A person enslaved to some pattern of behavior, such as pornography, greed, hateful words, or jealousy—is under the control of that action. The man enslaved to Christ chooses to become enslaved. He chooses to place himself under Christ's control. He gives up his personal rights. His love for Jesus gives him a new love for others and for their well-being. His will has been committed to Christ and it is with our "will" that we make decisions. You've never made up your mind to do or say anything! Your mind suggests to will what to do and will makes the decision.
So after "digging deeper," what do I do? Well, I examine myself and ask the Holy Spirit to guide me in this very personal examination. What controls me? What influences me to the degree that I do things I deplore—things I am ashamed of—things not in keeping with my decision to be under the control of the Lord. And when I comprehend, when I become aware of these "deplorable" actions, then I tell Christ, "I don't want to do things like this. I want You to control me. Thank You for giving me that option—freedom, or slavery. I love You."
Your Identity in Christ
Jon Walker, The Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV)
God spoke you into your mother's womb at just the right time for you to be here now. It wasn’t by accident, nor was it a pleasant surprise to God; he designed you on purpose to be on mission with him for such a time as this.
Your faith will grow stronger as you focus on your identity in Christ. What this means is that you abandon any image of yourself that is not from God. You stop believing what others have said about you; you stop believing how others have labeled you; you stop accepting how others have defined you.
Where I’m going is here – if you don’t know who you are, then you’re vulnerable to other people telling you who you are. But the concrete, solid, gospel truth is that you are who God says you are and no one else has a vote in the matter.
You are now identified with Christ and have the power of the Holy Spirit within you. You are God’s precious child and he created you in a way that pleases him.
This “identity issue” is an important part of living the abundant life. Jesus was able to face the incredible demands of his mission because he’d settled this identity issue. He knew exactly who he was; he knew that he mattered immensely to his Heavenly Father, and that gave him confidence to move purposefully in faith.
What does this mean?
· God wants you to be you – You can relax knowing that being yourself is exactly what God wants of you. A pencil brings glory to God by being a pencil. But, if you take a pencil and try to use it like a screwdriver, it won’t work and you’ll likely break the pencil. You will find the stress drained from your life when you stop trying to be somebody you’re not and instead start being who God purposefully designed you to be.
· Believe God calls you by name – God didn’t call you as part of a blanket invitation; he called you specifically by name. You are his masterpiece, a work of his own hands. Like many earthly fathers, God feels pleasure when he sees you just being you.
· Believe you are who God says you are – No one else has a vote on who you are. You are free to be you instead of imitating someone else. You are free to use your unique, God-given gifts and there is no need to compare your gifts to the gifts of others. No one else is in competition to be you!
Question to consider: Where are the places in your life where you’re still trying to be someone other than who God shaped you to be?
Jon Walker is presented daily on this website and at The Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional.
The Lowly Baby Jesus
Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. (Philippians 2:6-7, NLT)
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
Humility is such a slippery slope. The more conscious you are of being humble, the less likely you are to remain humble. It’s like the old joke about the humble man who received an award for his ever-present humility. The problem was, once he stepped forward to receive the award, they had to take it away from him. Ha!
The thing is this: Most of us approach humility in one of two ways.
· The first approach is consciously acting as if we are humble; we create a false humility by trying to imitate what we think humility looks like.
· The second approach is to assume we’re not worthy, that we’re some how second class.
Neither of these approaches reflects authentic biblical humility. The biblical approach to humility means you understand exactly who you are – but more importantly – you understand exactly whose you are, and that God has placed you where he wants you, for such a time as this.
In this way, your humility is not attached to your self-esteem.
In other words, rather than trying to think less of yourself, think more of God. You begin to agree with his view of you and that you are totally dependent upon him.
From this emerges a Christ-like humility. You’re no longer burdened by having to know all the answers or be in control of everything.
What does this mean?
· Dependence requires humility – You will succeed in your purpose because of who God is, not because of who you are. God loves you and wants you to succeed; he will support you in your mission for him, not because you pretend toward perfection, but because he knows you can’t succeed without him.
· Humility leads to purpose – As you move toward dependence (a biblical humility) on God, he gives you his strength for any task before you – to take the steps of faith required to complete your purpose. For such a time as this, God created you, prepared you, and called you to share the Good News.
· Christ-like humility – Look at the picture of humility Jesus presents in Philippians 2. Ask God to show you what needs to change in your life in order for you to fit into this picture of humility. Where is there false humility? Or where do you believe you are, in a sense, worthless, that you are not fearfully and wonderfully made by God? “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”
How Much More
By: Dr. Bill Gillham, Lifetime Guarantee
Consider Paul's statement, "For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Romans 5:10).
There was a time in my pilgrimage when I breezed by this verse, assuming that it referred to my future in heaven. You see, I concentrated solely on the death of Jesus as the payment for my sins, never realizing that He accomplished much more for me than that glorious act. The phrase I just used-"much more"-came right out of the verse. I was unintentionally minimizing a significant part of Jesus' finished work. I believed that the reference to His life related only to a future heaven instead of our life on earth as well. I put all my doctrinal weight on His death and none on His life, and I believe that many Christians are making that same mistake.
You'll agree that the first half of this verse-"reconciled to God through the death of His Son"-references Christ's death as the way God saved you from everlasting hell. Then Paul writes, "much more . . ." You've gotta love those two words. God is not given to superlatives. After all, if you've never told a lie and you're incapable of ever doing so (Titus 1:2), your yes means yes and your no means no. So when God uses words or phrases like "much more," we ought to get ready for an important announcement. Here it is: "Much more, having been reconciled [a guarantee of heaven], we shall be saved by His life." Saved by His life? Saved from what? We are already saved from hell by the death of Christ in the first part of the verse, so what is this "much more" we get saved from by the life of Christ?
His "life through you" saved you from bearing the circumstances of living on earth! That's right. Christ's death saved you from hell below the earth; Christ's life saves you from hell upon the earth.
© Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. Used with permission. Please visit the Lifetime Guarantee Ministries website (www.lifetime.org).
A Bicycle Story
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
I was fixing supper and had everything pretty well under control so I decided to step out front and see how Bill was getting along in the "bicycle repair business." He's quite a "handy man."
As I stepped out the door, he looked up and said, "Boy, am I glad to see you! I need some help." Now, through the years I have learned one thing very well: I do not "help" Bill the way he likes someone to help. I may hand him the hammer the wrong way, or get the wrong screwdriver, or set the ladder up wrong, who knows -- it's just wrong! My emotions start going up and I wish I had stayed inside and stirred the beans.
He's all crouched down in an awkward position and says to me, "I need you to shim this screw right here."
Shim? Shim? Well, there's Shem, Ham, and Japheth -- that's the only "shem" in my vocabulary.
"I don't see what you mean, Honey."
He can move only his little finger, so pointing as best he can he says, once again, "This screw. I need you to shim it for me."
"I'm sorry. I don't understand."
My emotions are doing quite well on their upward climb -- probably three-quarters of the way to being completely undone. He finally gets me to understand (increased decibels and terse statements, guaranteed to prod the emotions in their upward climb).
So now, I'm on the pavement, holding the screwdriver (shimming), and he's in the garage getting whatever mysterious thing it is he needs to complete his repair job.
What's going on inside of me? Bad things. I want to let him know he has hurt me, and several destructive ways to do that are suggested to me via my thought-life: "I just never do things to please you, do I?" (I've chosen that one many times before, and I know the results: another ruined, tension-filled evening in the Gillham household.) But another thought comes to me -- obviously from a different source -- a balm, a positive statement, muttered through gritted teeth no doubt with emotions stomping their feet, demanding that I retaliate. The thought? A rather nauseating one. "It amazes me, the way you can fix these broken bikes, Hon." (I decide to use the balm instead of the bomb. It wasn't easy.)
You talk about defusing a tense situation! Even now, in retelling the story, I get a surge of relief. Those few words set me free. (Of course, Bill was oblivious to the proceedings that were going on inside me where the emotions had reached the pinnacle and were screaming for vengance!) That statement was not easy for me to make, and there is no way I could have made it outside of the power that is mine because of Christ.
Letting Him do it for you works such miracles. Opting for the first "vengeance is mine" choice seems harmless, but one time plus another time equals two times, plus several more times equals many times, plus many more times equals hundreds of such "little" episodes, which equals untotaled hours of tension, which equals divorce. They build. You store them up and then regurgitate them, and as you dwell on them, your emotions climb higher and higher and when you have a confrontation -- even a minor one -- out they all spill!
The bicycle story had a happy ending for both of us: I didn't get depressed out of my tree and Bill had a renewed sense of competency -- his ability to repair a broken bicycle. Oh, joy!
Letting Christ live through you to defuse a volatile setting isn't easy -- but oh, how wonderful! Instead of setting off the fireworks and causing a runaway fire with disastrous results, you can enjoy the sparklers together!
© Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. Used with permission. Please visit the Lifetime Guarantee Ministries website (www.lifetime.org).
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