6 who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. 8 He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death —even death on a cross! 9 As a result God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow —in heaven and on earth and under the earth— 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, 13 for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing,15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world.
How Do We Do This?
Photo Credit Pedrovia @Pixabay
16 by holding on to the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice together with all of you. 18 And in the same way you also should be glad and rejoice together with me.
When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, he launched into the longest sermon ever recorded. At the beginning of that sermon are what we know as The Beatitudes. My husband recently preached a sermon from Matthew 5:3-12, and he stated,
The Beatitudes are “holy attitudes for living the Christian life.”
v. 3: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Poor in spirit: humble. A servant knows that they are reliant on God. The desire to serve God by serving others comes from the love that God pours into our hearts. The more we allow, the more he bestows!
v. 4: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
We tend to link this verse with earthly sorrow and mourning for a loved one who has died. But consider the sorrow that comes because of separation from God because of our sin? Sorrow for our sin brings us into the comforting arms of Jesus.
v.5: Blessed are the meed, for they shall inherit the earth.
Jesus was meek, but not weak. Meekness is not spinelessness. It’s humility. Meekness is knowing that you need God.
v. 6: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
How intense is our hunger and thirst for God? How much do we desire to be more like Jesus, to have more and more of His love filling us? Until we know that what we are seeking is God himself, we will not be satisfied.
v. 7: Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Where would we be without God’s love, mercy and grace? Where would we be? When Jesus taught what we know as “The Golden Rule, (love your neighbor as yourself), He was teaching simple mercy.
v. 8: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
A pure heart is an unselfish heart, a heart with pure motives, a heart like Christ. The more we can truly be like Christ, the more likely we are to bring others to Him.
v. 9: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
The only way to truly have peace is through Christ. Even when we get that peace, Satan will try to steal it or disturb it. We should seek peace in Jesus, and we should let Him be our peace.
v. 10: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
v. 11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
We read, hear and see stories of Christians persecuted for their faith. These persecutions range from “no public prayer” to execution for your faith (depending on where you are in the world.) We must stay strong in our faith. Jesus told His disciples that this would happen, and sure enough, it does!
But Jesus also said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)
v. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Being persecuted for our faith is nothing new. It has happened since the old testament prophets were proclaiming their faith in God.
Finally, Our hope is in Christ.
My point in all of this is a simple one:
If we live according to God’s Holy Word,
… follow the teachings of Christ,
… accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior,
then WE ARE BLESSED.
No matter what each day of life brings,
joy or sorrow,
good or bad,
in abundance or in want,
we are so blessed because of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Count your blessings, and have a great day!
It’s Your Turn!
Add a link to your post about Leaving a Legacy. We’re looking forward to reading it.
In today’s society, many would want you to believe that God is distant or uninterested in our lives. That’s is if He exists at all. But I find Him very near to my heart. Ever watching and directing my life.
Today, I’d like to show you how God strives to be near us. I recently read Dee Brestin’s new book study, The Jesus Who Surprises. In the past, I have seen Jesus throughout history but this book study brought new excitement about how much Jesus (and God) has been involved with us since before the creation of the world.
Thou has formed us for Thyself,
and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.
Augustine, The Confessions
God has always desired to be near us.
He created us for the very purpose of having a relationship. In the very beginning, God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit existed together as one. They were (and are) the epitome of LOVE. That love grew to the point of desiring more fellowship. So They, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, together created the universe.
Puritan Richard Sibbes wrote that the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost were happy in themselves and enjoyed one another before they created the world but that this kind of love cannot help but spread. He spoke of the living God as a life-giving, warming sun who delights “to spread his beams and his influence in inferrior things, to make all things fruitful.
Dee Bristen, The Jesus Who Surprises, chapter 2
His spirit hovered over the darkness waiting for someone with whom to be relational. God created the earth, the waters, the mountains, the skies. He said, “It is good.” (Genesis 1)
Then finally, He reached down with His hands and took the dust from the earth and created Adam in His own image. He bent low to the earth and breathed breath into Adam’s lungs. [Genesis 2:7] [He was not distant.] Because He didn’t want the man to be alone, He took a rib from the man and created a woman for him to love. Then He said, “It is very good.”
God Maintained Fellowship with Adam
Every evening God came down to earth to fellowship with Adam and Eve. God loved Adam so much; He did not want to force Him to return His love like a robot. So He gave man the opportunity to choose for himself. He set rules before him that would give him a wonderful life and would allow him to fellowship with Him continuously. There was only one DO NOT given, Do NOT eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. [Genesis 2:15-17]
Fellowship was Broken by Man
Sadly, Adam and Eve thought what would be the harm of eating from the tree. So they ate. And then they knew the harm. They suddenly felt the shame of their disobedience. And they covered themselves with leaves and hid in the bushes. [Genesis 3]
When God came that evening to fellowship together with them, they could “not be found”. God called to them, “Where are you?” But their shame made them fearful to present themselves to God knowing that they had sinned. God’s desire for fellowship never changed, but Adam and Eve chose to be distant.
But God Did Not Want to Be Distant with Adam and Eve
So he provided a way for them to restore that fellowship. Again, He remained near to solve the problem. He killed an animal to use the skins for a covering. The spilling of blood would be the only way to cover the sins of man. At least for then, God promised that one day He would provide a perfect lamb to cover their sins.
Yes, God could have remained distant right then and left a chasm between Himself and Man. But He came down to them. He gently brought their sin to their attention, but then He provided clothing. And He promised to provide an advocate, Jesus.
God Works Through History to Restore Man to Himself
All through the centuries, He came near to them, guiding and directing their lives. They would turn away and become distant from Him and He would gently draw them back to Himself. He promised to take their hearts of stone and live within them. So many times, mankind turned away, but God came close again and again. [ Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26; Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10 ] Again let me share the words of Dee…
The Bible isn’t about us but about Jesus. Jesus is the greater Adam, who resists the temptation that felled teh first Adam. He is the greater Isaac, who is sacrificed for our sin. Jesus is the greater Moses, who leads His people out of slavery and into the Promised Land. And Jesus is the great sacrificial lamb, the perfect Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He came to earth to live with us. His son, born of a virgin, he came as a man, yet still God. His name was Jesus. [ Luke 1 & 2] He lived among them and taught them. But mankind again turned away. They refused to believe it was God in the flesh. They crucified Him on a cross made for thieves and murderers.
BUT GOD, raised Jesus to life again, defeating the grave, death, and evil. [Matthew 28] Once again and for all time the chasm between God and man had a bridge. The Distance was removed and we can fellowship with Him once again. Our sins are covered because Jesus paid the full price of the punishment.
He Desires a Marriage-like Relationship with us
Throughout the Bible, you will find descriptions of the kind of relationship God desires with us likened to a marriage. That is how much He loves us. Think of your first love; how you wanted to be with your love every moment. And when you were apart, you could only think of them. This is how God desires to be with us. God created marriage as a beautiful relationship so that we could understand the possibility of having a relationship with Himself. Songs of Solomon is the perfect Biblical example. There is nothing distant about a marriage relationship. God desires the ultimate love story with us. Dee Brestin put it this way.
This earthly love storypoints to the ultimate love story, that of Christ and His bride. A metaphor that the bride uses in this Song [of Solomon] to describe her beloved has penetrated my heart and helped me to trust Him when He hides.
Dee Brestin, The Jesus Who Surprises, Chapter Two
There are many more marriage metaphors within the Bible: Ruth and Boaz, Hosea who married a prostitute to and kept redeeming her to show us how God keeps running after us even when we sin, and absolutely we can look to Revelations 19 and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
God has given us the choice to be distant from Him or not distant. He has given the choice throughout scripture. The most obvious is when Joshua told the people to choose.
“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
in the Psalms
King David shares in the Psalms many times that God is guiding and directing us. Showing us the way to go. He desires us to choose Him but ultimately, the choice is ours to make.
I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me.
Let Your hand be ready to help me, For I have chosen Your precepts.
Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.
Psalm 119:30; Psalm 119:173; Psalm 25:12
In the Gospels
When he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
in the Epistles of Paul
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9-11; Romans 13:2
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
And Finally, in the New Earth
As we study the Bible and see Jesus in everything, we will realize that this world is not our home. our Desire to be united with Jesus will increase more and more. This world and its evil will be destroyed. God will renew all things. The New Earth and the New Jerusalem will come down. We will live in the New Eden in perfect fellowship with God once again. The prophet Isaiah said and is quoted by the Apostle Paul.
No eye hath seen, nor ear heard, not the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9
What a day that will be! C.S. Lewis said,
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
Let me close with one last quote from Dee’s book.
But indeed, the invitation to our real home is open to all who choose to receive the free gift Jesus offers. He paid the price He did not owe so that we could have the life we do not deserve. It is a free gift, but you must come to Him in repentance and faith…. This is the Good News of the Gospel.
My hope is that seeing this same story from Genesis to Revelation will give you great confidence in the reliability of the Scriptures and the truths they hold. For Jesus that surprised the two on the road to Emmaus, and surprises us in our everyday lives, is not at all finished surprising us.
Dee Brestin, The Jesus Who Surprises
God is Not Distant
I pray that you know Him today. If you are skeptical or if you love Him and just want to celebrate His beautiful plan, Please get your hands on one of these study books. You won’t regret it.
P.S. Dee Brestin’s book is available now for purchase as well as her free videos studies. Find them here.
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