Friday, February 1, 2008

Being Changed Into HIS Likeness

As the new year began, I found myself longing to make this year really count for God. I wasn't really sure what that meant, until one of our pastors challenged us to make two resolutions this year that are important enough to keep. Those resolutions are Christ's commands in Matthew 22:36-40 -- to Love God with ALL of who we are and to love our neighbors in the same way we love ourselves. He preached on this passage in a way different from anything I've ever heard, bringing those verses to life in a way like never before. (Click here, to hear this sermon.)

I have been asking God to teach me what it really means to love Him with ALL of my heart, soul and mind and to love and value myself as He does, so that I can in turn love and value others as He does. One thing God has been showing me is that my focus in life shouldn't be about the things the world says we need -- like being financially well off, being healthy...or skinny, or even having a good self-image. It's about walking with Him...following Him and living in HIS will and plan for me every single second of every minute of every hour of every day. As I do that, I will be changed into HIS likeness -- or as my friend would say I will have a "God-image" rather than a "self-image."

I can never achieve a perfect self-image. I will ALWAYS find things in me that still need "fixed" and will live in defeat, knowing that no matter what I do and no matter how hard I try, I am still not good enough. However, if I am living every second for Christ, I will learn to see myself as HE sees me and accept the value that HE places on me...a value that says I was worth Jesus' death on the cross.

The same is true in every area of my life. I can never really achieve financial bliss or perfect health. The more money and material possessions I have, the more I want. My body is decaying...that is part of life. No matter what I do to take care of my body and improve my health, there will still be areas that aren't perfect. But, Jesus tells me to seek HIM first and THEN everything I need will be given to me. (Matthew 6:25-33) God knows my financial/monetary needs. He also knows my health needs as well as my emotional needs. It is GOD who meets ALL of OUR needs (Philippians 4:19) and it is through CHRIST that we are able to do ALL things. (Philippians 4:13).

I went to bed last night with these thoughts on my heart...and a renewed prayer that I WOULD love God with ALL of me...seeking HIM and not the things the world says I should seek. It was really no surprise that I awoke this morning and the "verse of the day" on BibleGateway,com was Deuteronomy 6:4-5 -- which is where God commands the people of Israel to love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength. Then I went to the other website that I use for my Bible Study ( Bible Study Tools). The "verse of the day" on that site was Romans 8:32 which says, "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all -- how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Do any of you see a pattern here? It all goes back to the fact that God loves me and places such HIGH value on me, that not only did He send His son to die for me, but He GRACIOUSLY gives me EVERYTHING I need.

Well, I guess God is really trying to drive home a message in my heart today because the next thing I did was to look at the "devotion of the day" on that same website. WOW!! Did it fit in!! Rather than try and summarize it, I have copied (below) the part of it that really struck home with me.

Being Changed Into HIS Likeness
by Max Lucado

The reward of Christianity is Christ.

Do you journey to the Grand Canyon for the souvenir T-shirt or the snow globe with the snowflakes that fall when you shake it? No. The reward of the Grand Canyon is the Grand Canyon. The wide-eyed realization that you are part of something ancient, splendid, powerful, and greater than you.

The cache of Christianity is Christ. Not money in the bank or a car in the garage or a healthy body or a better self-image. Secondary and tertiary fruits perhaps. But the Fort Knox of faith is Christ. Fellowship with him. Walking with him. Pondering him. Exploring him. The heart-stopping realization that in him you are part of something ancient, endless, unstoppable, and unfathomable. And that he, who can dig the Grand Canyon with his pinkie, thinks you’re worth his death on Roman timber. Christ is the reward of Christianity. Why else would Paul make him his supreme desire? “I want to know Christ” (Phil. 3:10).

Do you desire the same? My idea is simple. Let’s look at some places he went and some people he touched. Join me on a quest for his “God-manness.” You may be amazed.

More important, you may be changed. “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

As we behold him, we become like him.

Click here to read the rest of this devotional.

I challenge you today to truly fix your eyes on Jesus. He is not only the author of your faith -- the one who wooed you to Him when you first received His gift of salvation -- He is also the finisher (perfector) of your faith. (Hebrews 12:2) Determine to love and seek HIM with your WHOLE heart, as you allow Him to perfect your faith, mold you into His image...His likeness. Don't settle for souvenir t-shirts and snow globes when God offers you the Grand Canyon!

Pressing in to HIM!!

Debbie Guinn

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