Sunday March 21 2021

TO BE LIKE HIM

Part TwoA Spiritual Heart

We are going to challenge ourselves, and all of you, in the next few weeks to consider our lives, taking a hard look at ourselves, and specifically our hearts, and a good look at Jesus, and His heart, as we know Him from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Bob showed us very well last week how it has always been God’s good plan and purpose that we become just like Jesus. God works diligently with us daily to help us become “renovated”/transformed into the image of His Son, that we may be like Him. The Lord is able to take every situation, every circumstance of our lives (even when the devil means it for evil) and work it out for our good: for our benefit and blessing; and for the molding of our character to be more like Jesus. And why does God want us to become like Him? . . . . . that HE might be glorified. When people see Jesus in us, Jesus and the Father are glorified. Hallelujah! (John 13:31, John 11:4, John 14:13)

Paul has much to teach us about the change that takes place in us when we believe that Jesus did indeed die for our sins, was resurrected to new life, and now sits at the right hand of the Father in the throne room of Heaven. Some people say that this experience is a rebirth, and indeed we are “born again”. The fellowship that we had lost with God as our Father was lost ages ago in the Garden of Eden. We lost our citizenship in Heaven at that time. But because Jesus redeemed us, buying us back at the expense of His own precious blood and life, we are restored to fellowship with God, reinstated as sons and daughters of God, and we are once again citizens of Heaven. This change takes place in our hearts – our hearts are indeed reborn to newness of life. The death penalty for our inherited sin condition has been waved, it was paid in full when Jesus died on the cross in our place. It is a new beginning for us. We are now on a journey of eternal life, death no longer carries any sting for us nor will it ever again have victory over us.

The essential change that takes place immediately happens in our hearts, this is where the eternal spirit of man resides. Some people say spirit when they mean heart, and some say heart when they mean spirit. That is okay. If we look at Paul’s teaching on the matter in 1 Corinthians 2 verses 11 to 16 (AMPC) we will discover  something amazing and wonderful:

11 For what person perceives (knows and understands) what passes through a man’s thoughts except the man’s own spirit within him? Just so no one discerns (comes to know and comprehend) the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

12 Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favour and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God.

13 And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the [Holy] Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit].

14 But the natural, non-spiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated. 

15 But the spiritual man tries all things [he examines, investigates, inquires into, questions, and discerns all things], yet is himself to be put on trial and judged by no one [he can read the meaning of everything, but no one can properly discern or appraise or get an insight into him].

16 For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.

This text reveals that the Holy Spirit has been given to us on the day that we made a heart decision to believe in Jesus and His completed work on the cross. As the Holy Spirit unites with our spirit we are born again, made new, becoming a new creation in Christ Jesus. The Life of Christ is planted within us, just like a seed is planted into good soil. How well that life grows and influences our attitudes and how we behave depends on how much we cooperate with the Holy Spirit to cultivate and help this new life within us to grow into maturity. Our cooperation is necessary because the Lord will never force anything on us, we need to be willing. As the new creation, the new life within grows and it will bring healing and health to all of us, body and soul (mind, will, emotions). Praise God and Hallelujah for the gift of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to be our Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby – John 14:26)  “that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts … bestowed on us by God.” Wow! In our natural state (without Jesus) we cannot understand or appreciate any of the things of God or the wonderful truths about God and His Kingdom. “They are folly.” The things of God are only understood and discerned and appreciated with the help of the Holy Spirit. And when we speak about these things to other people who have not been born again, they simply cannot understand us – it is as if we are speaking a foreign language.  We should not be surprised or hurt or feel rejected because of this when it happens. Then Paul goes on to say that no one knows the mind of the Lord, no one is able to give Him knowledge, He is Supreme over all. BUT WE who have been born again, who have been given the Holy Spirit, now have “the mind of  Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.”  Wow!  Therefore it is possible for us to know the mind of the Lord. How absolutely amazing and wonderful! What a difference that makes in our lives. (Please refer to Appendix A for other translations that will help increase our understanding of ‘the mind of Christ’.)

Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! – 2 Corinthians 5:17 AMPC

And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude],  And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. – Ephesians 4:23-24 AMPC

God has high hopes for each one of us: that we may be conformed into the image of His Son, that we may be like Him. But please, don’t panic. Everyone of us needs to know and thoroughly understand that God loves us just as we are. He accepts us completely in our present state or condition, whatever that may be. There is nothing we could ever do or say in our present lives, nothing in our past, and nothing in our future that will ever change His Great Love for us. We need to remember that we are no surprise to Him. We don’t deserve such great love, but He lavishes it on us anyway. We can never, ever, ever earn such great love, but, thanks be to God, He lavishes it on us anyway. All we need to do is relax and let Him love us, He will do the rest. If we are willing to plug in, He will, with great delight mold us into the image of His Son.

Max Lucado, in his book “Just Like Jesus” includes a good illustration to help us understand this concept:

“When my daughter Jenna was a toddler, I used to take her to the park not far from our apartment. One day as she was playing in a sandbox, an ice-cream salesman approached us. I purchased her a treat, and when I turned to give it to her, I saw her mouth was full of sand. Where I intended to put a delicacy, she had put dirt.

“Did I love her with dirt in her mouth? Absolutely. Was she any less my daughter with dirt in her mouth? Of course not. Was I going to allow her to keep the dirt in her mouth? No way. I loved her right where she was, but I refused to leave her there. I carried her over to the water fountain and washed out her mouth. Why? Because I love her.

“God does the same for us. He holds us over the fountain. “Spit out the dirt, honey,” our Father urges. “I’ve got something better for you.” And so He cleanses us of filth: immorality, dishonesty, prejudice, bitterness, greed. We don’t enjoy the cleansing; sometimes we even opt for the dirt over the ice-cream. “I can eat dirt if I want to!” we pout and proclaim. Which is true─we can. But if we do, the loss is ours. God has a better offer. He wants us to be like Jesus.”[1]

This is really good news for all of us. We do not have to live our lives having rages of bad temper because our father used to, or worrying about every detail of our lives because our mother used to. We are neither stuck with bad tempers nor bad attitudes any more than we are stuck with a broken arm. Anything can be fixed, especially when we invite God, who loves us more than anyone else ever could, to help us.

What was Jesus like?

  1. His heart was pure. Peter described him as a “lamb, unblemished and spotless” – 1 Peter 1:19 NASB. Jesus travelled with men and women but never sinned in His relationships with them – Luke 8:1-3, 1 John 3:5 NIV.
  2. His heart was peaceful. He often found himself in challenging situations that upset others, but He remained calm and peaceful. (crowds of hungry people, storms on the sea, wild demoniacs, pressing crowds).
  3. His heart had purpose. We could condense all that He said and did into this one statement: “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” – Luke 19:10 RSV. He knew where and when to visit different places, and He knew when His work was done. And He treated people well along the way, He showed great mercy and compassion at every opportunity.
  4. His heart was spiritual. We know that he worshipped regularly in the Synagogues, that He memorized scripture and often went off by Himself to pray. (Luke 4:16, Luke 4:4, Luke 5:16) He was led by the Spirit, full of the Holy Spirit, and empowered by the Spirit. (Matthew 4:1, Luke 4:1, Luke 4:14)

If we compare the heart of Jesus to our hearts in the natural we may see a vast difference. Is there any hope that we can have a heart like His? Let me tell you now the best news ever: if we are born again, we already have the heart of Jesus! Paul states it simply: “Christ lives in me”. – Galations 2:20 NKJV  The Lord is ready to begin His work of “renovating”/transforming us into the image of His Son. And He will do it little by little – taking us from strength to strength, faith to faith and glory to glory. (Psalm 84:7, Romans 1:17, 2 Corinthians 3:18)

Some of us might be wondering about this: if we have been born again for many years but still have many of our old bad habits, how can it be true that Jesus dwells in our hearts. How can it be true that we are a new creation if the old “us” is still acting out. Max Lucado includes a good story to help us understand what  may be happening (or not happening):

There was “a lady who had a small  house on the seashore of Ireland” around the year 1901. “She was quite wealthy, but also quite frugal. The people were surprised, then, when she decided to be among the first to have electricity in her home.

“Several weeks after the installation, a meter reader appeared at her door. He asked if her electricity was working well, and she assured him it was. “I’m wondering if you can explain something to me,” he said. “Your meter shows scarcely any usage. Are you using your power?”

“Certainly,” she answered. “Each evening when the sun sets, I turn on my lights just long enough to light my candles; then I turn them off.”[2]

Ahahahaha . . . This lady had the power but did not really plug in. She was denying herself the great joy and benefit of being bathed in light. She was settling for the minimum of power and choosing the dimness of candlelight. She was choosing to continue to live in the shadows when she could have had ‘daylight’ all the time. Is this possibly where we might have gone wrong? We are happy to be saved and loved but we don’t really make the effort to PLUG IN to the power. We have chosen to resist the challenge of transformation that would result because we chose not to walk in the fullness of His light (in the way that Jesus did – 1 John 1:7a).

What is the light that Jesus walked in? It is the Truth of the Word of God. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life” – John 14:6a. It would be so good to keep our eyes on Jesus, discover who He is and what He said and why.

Remember God’s great plan and purpose for us is total transformation: “He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son” – Romans 8:29 MSG

Let us make a decision today to accept God’s amazing and wonderful offer to mold us and shape us to be like Him. Let us choose today to let the Lord transform our hearts into the image of Jesus. Let us choose to plug into the power that will let us do just that, that He might be glorified. And then relax, obey the leading of the Holy Spirit and be amazed at how the new creation within grows and brings health and well-being to our bodies and souls. When we choose to go with God in this quest to be like Jesus, we are fully in the will of God, there is no more wonderful, nor more free, nor more peaceful and sweet place to be. Hallelujah!  This is why Paul encourages us to “work out our own salvation” ( Philippians 2:12). It is not something we can accomplish on our own but we need to cooperate and agree with the Holy Spirit as He guides the transformation process. We need to plug in. There may be some bumps and ouches along the way, but oh, the journey is so worth it.

Over the next few weeks, we will journey together, looking more closely at Jesus to discover more about what His heart was really like. We will “fix our eyes on Jesus”. – Hebrews 12:2 Amen.

 

Appendix A – 1 Corinthians 2:16b

 

AMPC … we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.

 

CEV … But we understand what Christ is thinking.

 

ERV … But we have been given Christ’s way of thinking.

 

EXB … But we have the mind of Christ [the Holy Spirit reveals God and his ways to us; Rom. 11:34].

 

PHILLIPS … we who are spiritual have the very thoughts of Christ!

 

JUB … But we have the understanding of Christ.

 

TLB … we Christians actually do have within us a portion of the very thoughts and mind of Christ.

 

MSG … Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit.

 

NLT … But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.

 

NMB … But we understand the mind of Christ.

 

TPT … Christ has, and we possess Christ’s perceptions.

 

VOICE … But we do possess the mind of the Anointed One.

 

WE … As for us, we really do have the mind of Christ.

 

For further study:

Page 5 has four items listed about Jesus, take time to look up each Bible verse and take time to find the stories mentioned in item 2 “His heart was peaceful”.

For Worship:

Listen to the following on YouTube if you can:

I’m Forever Grateful to You – video by Bob Burger

What a Beautiful Name by Hillsong Worship

My Tribute (To God Be The Glory) by Andrae Crouch & All Star Choir – Tribute Album

Way Make (Lyric video) by Leeland [Official] or for a fuller experience try Way Maker by  Darlene Zschech & William McDowell or Way Maker by Paul McClure

 

Pastoral Prayer

Almighty God, Creator and Sovereign Lord of All. You are more beautiful than diamonds, more precious than silver and gold. Your wisdom and understanding is so high above ours and yet You invite us, mere lumps of clay, to receive the mind of Christ that we may be like Him. Such things are too lofty for us to take in Lord, and yet You have decided to make it all possible. Thank You for sending Your only son Jesus to die in our place that we might be free from the bondage of sin. Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to Comfort and guide us in our journey. Help us to have the courage to choose to plug in to the power full time that we may walk in the light as Jesus is in the light. Help us to be disciplined in our effort to know Jesus more and understand His heart. Help us to yield to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. To God be the glory!

Father You know the grief and sadness that has gripped the hearts of many people in Ohsweken. Like the rest of the world, the pandemic has affected our Six Nations Community throughout this past year, but perhaps never so much as during the past few weeks and notably the early days of March. We have seen our numbers of active cases of COVID-19 going up and with this several people have been hospitalized and put on ventilators. We ask that you remember and bring comfort to the Johnson Family, who have lost 4 siblings, Mary Johnson, Art Johnson, Polly Johnson and Gloria Skye. All elders who have contributed so much to this community. We pray also for the family of Pat Sandy, who passed away the morning of the 13th. Father all members of the community are grieving the loss of each of their lives. Thank You Father for the many contributions each one has made to our reserve’s life and traditional culture, and to the preservation of our traditional languages. We ask Father, that You comfort each person with Your love and bring the peace that passes all understanding into each heart and mind.

Father, we pray that You will continue to protect Your people from plague and pestilence of every kind according to Your Word. Help us to keep putting our trust in You and to make You our refuge.

Father, we pray also for young mothers and fathers at this time. Help them to press on and retain hope. Help them to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus, that they may know You more, enjoy Your wonderful companionship, and hear clearly from the Holy Spirit.

Father, every one of us is battling the effects of “low” days from recent lockdowns that have reduced socializing, caused job loss and negative thinking. We all need Your help and support Lord to know that You will meet our needs for companionship and employment. Help us to take time to worship and pray regularly in order that we may remain joyful and positive. Help us to encourage each other.

Thank You Lord that though our afflictions be many, You promise to deliver us from them all. You are the way maker, the miracle worker. You never stop working. We praise You and offer our prayers today in Jesus’ name. Amen,

[1] Max Lucado, Just Like Jesus, p. 4

[2] Ibid, p. 8

 

 

 

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