Worship That Pleases God

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.- Mark 12:30 (NIV)

God wants all of you. God doesn’t want a part of your life. He asks for all of your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. God is not interested in halfhearted  commitment, partial obedience, and the leftovers of your time and money. He desires your full devotion, not little bits of your life.

Where you worship is not as important as why you worship and how much of yourself you offer to God when you worship. There is a right and wrong way to worship. The Bible says, “Let us be grateful and worship God in a way that will please Him”.-Hebrews 12:28 The kind of worship that pleases God has four characteristics:

God is pleased when our worship is accurate. People often say, “I like to think of God as…”, and then they shared their idea of the kind of God they would like to worship. But we cannot just create our own comfortable or politically correct image of God and worship it. That is idolatry.  Worship must be based on the truth of Scripture, not our opinions about God. “True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks”-John 4:23-24. To “worship in truth” means to worship God as He is truly revealed in the Bible.

God is pleased when our worship is authentic. When Jesus said you must “worship in spirit”, He wasn’t referring to the Holy Spirit, but to your spirit. Made in God’s image, you are a spirit that resides in a body, and God designed your spirit to communicate with Him. Worship is your spirit responding to God’s Spirit. When Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart and soul”, He meant that worship must be genuine and heartfelt. It is not just a matter of saying the right words; you must mean what you say. Heartless praise is not praise at all! It is worthless, and an insult to God.

When we worship, God looks past our words to see the attitude of our hearts. The Bible says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”.-1 Samuel 16:7 Since worship involves delighting in God, it engages your emotions. God gave you emotions so you could worship Him with deep feeling-but those emotions must be genuine, not faked. God hates hypocrisy. He doesn’t want showmanship or pretense or phoniness in worship. He wants your honest, real love. We can worship God imperfectly, but we cannot worship Him insincerely.

Of course, sincerity alone is not enough; you can be sincerely wrong. That’s why both spirit and truth are required. Worship must be both accurate and authentic. God-pleasing worship is deeply emotional and deeply doctrinal. We use both our hearts and our heads. Christians often differ on the most appropriate or authentic way to express praise to God. God wants you to be yourself. You don’t bring glory to God by trying to be someone He never intended you to be. 

God is pleased when our worship is thoughtful. Jesus’ command to “love God with all your mind” is repeated four times in the New Testament. If worship is mindless, it is meaningless. You must engage your mind. Jesus called thoughtless worship “vain repetitions”. 

God is pleased when our worship is practical. The Bibles says, “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship”. Why does God want your body? In worship we are to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices“. God wants us to live for Him! One thing worship costs us is our self-centeredness. You cannot exalt God and yourself at the same time. You don’t worship to be seen by others or to please yourself. You deliberately shift the focus off yourself.

When you praise God even when you don’t feel like it, when you get out of bed to worship when you’re tired, or when you help others when you are worn out, you are offering a sacrifice of worship to God. That pleases God. 

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God’s Power in Your Weakness

We are weak…yet by God’s power we will live with Him to serve you.”-2 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV).

And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.- 2 Corinthians 12:9

God loves to use weak people. Everyone has weaknesses. In fact, you have a bundle of flaws and imperfections: Physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.  You may also have uncontrollable circumstances that weaken you, such as financial or relational limitations. The more important issue is what you do with these. Usually we deny our weaknesses, defend them, excuse them, hide them, and resent them. This prevents God from using them the way He desires. 

God has a different perspective on your weaknesses. He says, “My thoughts and my ways are higher than yours”, so He often acts in ways that are the exact opposite of what we expect. We think that God only wants to use our strengths, but He also wants to use our weaknesses for His glory. The Bible says, “God purposely chose…what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful”,-1 Corinthians 1:27. Your weaknesses are not an accident. God deliberately allowed them in your life for the purpose of demonstrating His power through you.

God has never been impressed with strength or self-sufficiency. In fact, He is drawn to people who are weak and admit it. Jesus regarded this recognition of our need as being “poor in spirit”. It’s the number one attitude He blesses. The Bible is filled with examples of how God loves to use imperfect, ordinary people to do extraordinary things in spite of their weaknesses. If God only used perfect people, nothing would ever get done, because none of us is flawless. God using imperfect people is encouraging news for all of us.

A weakness, or “thorn” as Paul called it, is not a sin or a vice character defect that you can change, such as overeating or impatience. A weakness is any limitation that you inherited or have no power to change. It may be a physical limitation, like a handicap, a chronic illness, naturally low energy, or a disability. It may be an emotional limitation, such as a trauma scar, a hurtful memory, a personality quirk, or a hereditary disposition. Or it may be a talent or intellectual limitation. We’re not all super bright or talented. 

When you think of the limitation in your life, you may be tempted to conclude, “God could never use me”. But God is never limited by our limitations. In fact, He enjoys putting His great power into ordinary containers. The Bible says, “We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us”.  -2 Corinthian 4:7 Like common pottery, we are fragile and flawed and break easily. But God will use us if we allow Him to work through our weaknesses. For that to happen, we must follow the model of Paul.

Admit your weaknesses. Own up to your imperfections. Stop pretending to have it all together, and be honest about yourself. Instead of living in denial or making excuses, take the time to identify your personal weaknesses. If you want God to use you, you must know who God is and know who you are. Many Christians, especially leaders, forget the second truth: We’re only human! If it takes a crisis to get you to admit this, God won’t hesitate to allow it, because He loves you.

Be content with your weaknesses. We want to be freed from our weaknesses, not be content  with them! But contentment is an expression of faith in the goodness of God. It says, “God, I believe you love me and know what’s best for me”. Whenever you feel weak, God is reminding you to depend on Him. Our weaknesses also prevent arrogance. They keep us humble. God often attaches a major weakness to a major strength to keep our egos in check. Our weaknesses also encourage fellowship between believers. 

Honestly share your weaknesses. The more you let down your guard, take off your mask , and share your struggles, the more God will be able to use you in serving others. It can be scary to lower your defenses and open up your life to others. When you reveal your failures, feelings, frustrations, and fears, you risk rejection. But the benefits are worth the risk. Opening up relieves stress, defuses your fears, and is the first step to freedom. We have already seen that God “gives grace to the humble“, but many misunderstand humility. Humility is not putting yourself down or denying your strengths; rather, it is bein honest about your weaknesses. The more honest you are, the more of God’s grace you get. You will also receive grace from others. 

Glory in your weaknesses. Instead of posing as self-confident and invincible, see yourself as a trophy of grace. When Satan points out your weaknesses, agree with him and fill your heart with praise for Jesus, who, ‘understands every weakness of ours,” and for the Holy Spirit, who “helps us in our weakness”. Sometimes, however, God turns a strength into a weakness in order to use us even more. If you want God to bless you and use you greatly, you must be willing to walk with a limp the rest of your life, because God uses weak people! 

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What Drives Your Life?

Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This is also vanity and vexation of the spirit-Ecclesiastes 4:4

The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder- a waif, a nothing, a no man”– Thomas Carlyle

Everyone’s life is driven by something. Most dictionaries define the verb drive as “to guide, to control, or to direct”. Whether you are driving a car,  a nail, or a golf ball, you are guiding, controlling, and directing it at the moment. What is the driving force in your life? Right now you may be driven by a problem, a pressure, or a deadline. You may be driven by a painful memory, a haunting fear, or an unconscious belief. There are hundreds of circumstances, values, and emotions that can drive your  life.

Many people are driven by guilt. They spend their entire lives running from regrets and hiding their shame. Guilt-driven people are manipulated by memories. They allow their past to control their future. They often unconsciously punish themselves by sabotaging their own success. When Cain sinned, his guilt disconnected him from God’s presence, and God said, You will be a restless wanderer on the earth”- Genesis 4:1-16. That describes most people today-wandering through life without a purpose. We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it. God’s purpose is not limited by your past. He turned a murderer named Moses into a leader and a coward named Gideon into a courageous hero, and He can do amazing things with the rest of your life too. God specializes in giving people a fresh start. 

Many people are driven by resentment and anger. They hold on to hurts and never get over them. Instead of releasing their pain through forgiveness, they rehearse it over and over in their minds. Some resentment-driven people “clam up” and internalize their anger, while others “blow up” and explode it onto others. Both responses are unhealthy and unhelpful. Resentment always hurts you more than it does the person you resent. While your offender has probably forgotten the offense and gone on with life, you continue to stew in your pain, perpetuating the past. Listen: Those who have hurt you in the past cannot continue to hurt you now unless you hold on to the pain through resentment. Your past is the past! Nothing will change that. You are only hurting yourself with your bitterness. The Bibles says, “To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do” – Job 5:2. 

Many people are driven by fear. Their fears may be a result of a traumatic experience, unrealistic expectations, growing up in a high control home, or even genetic predisposition. Regardless of the cause, fear-driven people often miss great opportunities because they’re afraid to venture out. Instead they play it safe, avoiding risks and trying to maintain the status quo. Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be. You must move against it with the weapons of faith and love. 

Many people are driven by materialism. Their desire to acquire becomes the whole goal of their lives. This drive to always want more is based on the misconceptions that having more will make more happy, more important, and more secure, but all three ideas are untrue. Possessions only provide temporary happiness. Because things do not change, we eventually become bored with them and then want newer, bigger, better versions. It’s also a myth that if I get more, I will be more important. Self-worth and net worth are not the same. Your value is not determined by your valuables, and God says the most valuable things in life are not things! The most common myth about money is that having more will make me secure. It won’t. Wealth can be lost instantly through a variety of uncontrollable factors. Real security can only be found in that which can never be taken from you- your relationship with God.

Many people are driven by the need of approval. They allow the expectations of parents or spouses or children or teachers or friends to control their lives. Many adults are still trying to earn the approval of unpleasable parents. Others are driven by peer pressure, always worried by what others might think. Unfortunately, those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it. I don’t know all the keys to success, but one key to failure is to try to please everyone. Being controlled by the opinions of others  is a guaranteed way to miss God’s purposes for your life. Jesus said, :No one can serve two masters“. 

There are other forces that can drive your life but all lead to the same dead end: unused potential, unnecessary stress, and an unfulfilled life. Without a purpose, life is motion without meaning, activity without direction, and events without reason. Without a purpose, life is trivial, petty, and pointless. Knowing your purpose gives meaning to your life. We were made to have meaning. When life has meaning, you can bear almost anything; without it, nothing is bearable. Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope. 

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The Reason For Everything

For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. A-men’.-Romans 11:36 

The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. -Proverbs 16:4

It’s all for Him. The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God. It is the reason for everything that exists, including you. God made it all for His glory. Without God’s glory, there would be nothing. What is the glory of God? It is who God is. It is the essence of His nature, the weight of His importance, the radiance of His splendor, the demonstration of His power, and the atmosphere of His presence. God’s glory is the expression of His goodness and all His other intrinsic, eternal qualities.

Where is the glory of God? Just look around. Everything created by God reflects His glory in some way. We see it everywhere, from the smallest microscopic form of life to the vast Milky Way, from sunsets and stars to storms and seasons. Creation reveals our Creator’s glory. In nature we learn that God is powerful, that He enjoys variety, loves beauty, is organized, and is wise and creative. The Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God”-Psalm 19:1.

Throughout history, God has revealed His glory to people in different settings. He revealed it first in the Garden of Eden, then to Moses, then in the tabernacle and the temple, then through Jesus, and now through the church. It was portrayed as a consuming fire, a cloud, thunder, smoke, and a brilliant light. In heaven, God’s glory provides all the light needed. The Bible says, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light”- Revelation 21:23

God’s glory is best seen in Jesus Christ. He is the Light of the world that illuminates God’s nature. Because of Jesus, we are no longer in the dark about what God is really like. The Bible says, ‘The Son is the radiance of God’s glory”-Hebrews 1:3. Jesus came to earth so we could fully understand God’s glory. God’s inherent glory is what He possesses because He is God. It is His nature. We cannot add anything to this glory, just as it would be impossible for us to make the sun shine brighter. But we are commanded to recognize His glory, honor His glory, declare His glory, praise His glory, reflect His glory, and live for His glory. Why? Because God deserves it! 

We owe Him every honor we can possibly give. Since God made all things, He deserves all the glory. The Bible says, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created everything”-Revelation 4:11 Jesus honored God by fulfilling His purpose on earth.  We honor God the same way. When anything in creation fulfills its purpose, it brings glory to God. Birds bring glory to God by flying, chirping, nesting, and doing other bird-like activities that God intended.

There are many ways to bring glory to God, but they can be summarized in God’s five purposes for your life: 

We bring God glory by worshipping Him. Worship is our first responsibility to God. God wants our worship to be motivated by love, thanksgiving, and delight, not duty. Worship is far more than praising, singing, and praying to God. Worship is a lifestyle of enjoying God, loving Him, and giving ourselves to be used for His purposes. 

We bring God glory by loving other believers. When you were born again, you became apart of God’s family. Following Christ is not just a matter of  believing; it also includes belonging and learning to love the family of God. It is your responsibility to learn how to love as God does, because God is love, and it honors Him. Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”- John 13:34-35

We bring God glory by becoming like Christ. Once we are born into God’s family, He wants us to grow to spiritual maturity. What does that look like? Spiritual maturity is becoming like Jesus in the way we think, feel, and act. The more you develop Christlike character, the more you will bring glory to God. The Bible says, “As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him and reflect His glory even more”- 2 Corinthians 3:18 God gave you a new life and a new nature when you accepted Christ. Now, for the rest of your life on earth, God wants to continue the process of changing your character. 

We bring God glory by serving others with our gifts. Each of us was uniquely designed by God with talents, gifts, and skills, and abilities. The way you’re “wired” is not an accident. God didn’t give you your abilities for selfish purposes. They were given to benefit others, just as others were given abilities for your benefit. The Bible says, “God has given gifts to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you…Are you called to help others? Do it will all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then God will be given the glory”. 1 Peter 4:10-11

We bring God glory by telling others about Him. God doesn’t want His love and purposes kept a secret. Once we know the truth, He expects us to share it with others. This is a great privilege- introducing others to Jesus, helping them to discover their purpose, and preparing them for eternal destiny. 

Living the rest of your life for the glory of God will require a change in your priorities, your schedule, your relationships, and everything else. It will sometimes mean choosing a difficult path instead of an easy one. Even Jesus struggled with this. Knowing He was about to be crucified, He cried out: ‘My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, “Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour, Father, glorify Thy name. God will give you what you need if you will just make the choice to live for Him.

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Created to Become Like Christ

“God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son….We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him”– Romans 8:29 

We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created”– Colossians 1:15 

We were created to become like Christ. From the beginning, God’s plan has been to make you like His Son, Jesus. This is  your destiny and the third purpose of your life. God announced this intention at Creation: “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings, are made “in God’s image”- Genesis 1:26. This is a great privilege and gives us dignity. We don’t know all this phrase covers, but we do know some of the aspects it includes: Like God, we are spiritual beings-our spirits are immortal and will outlast our earthly bodies; we are intellectual- we can think, reason, and solve problems; like God, we are relational- we can give and receive real love; and we have moral consciousness – we can discern right from wrong, which makes us accountable to God.

The Bible says that all people, not just believers, possess part of the image of God; that is why murder and abortion are wrong. But the image is incomplete and has been damaged and distorted by sin. So God sent Jesus on a mission to restore the full image that we have lost. What does the full “image and likeness” of God look like? It looks like Jesus Christ! The Bible says Jesus is “the exact likeness of God,” “the visible image of the invisible God”, and ” the exact representation of His being”. 

People often use the phrase “like father, like son” to refer to family resemblance. When people see my likeness in my kids, it pleases me. God wants His children to bear His image and likeness, too. The Bible says, “You were…created to be like God, truly righteous and holy”. Let me be absolutely clear: You will never become God, or even a god. That prideful life is Satan’s oldest temptation. Satan promised Adam and Eve that if they followed His advice, “ye shall be as gods“.- Genesis 3

This desire to be a god shows up every time we try to control our circumstances, our future, and people around us. But as creatures, we will never be the Creator. God doesn’t want you to become a god; He wants you to become godly- taking on His values, attitudes, and character. The Bible says, “Take on an entirely new way of life- a God- fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces His character in you”.– Ephesians 4:20-24

God’s ultimate goal for your life on earth is not comfort, but character development. He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ. Becoming like Christ does not mean losing your personality or becoming a mindless clone. God created your uniqueness, so He certainly doesn’t want to destroy it. Christlikeness is all about transforming your character, not your personality. God wants you to develop the kind of character described in the beatitudes of Jesus, the fruit of the Spirit, Paul’s great chapter on love, and Peter’s list of the characteristics of an effective and productive life.

Every time you forget that character is one of God’s purposes for your life, you will become frustrated by your circumstances. You’ll wonder, “Why is this happening to me? Why am I having such a difficult time?” One answer is that life is supposed to be difficult! It’s what enables us to grow. Remember, earth is not heaven! Many Christians misinterpret Jesus promise of the “abundant life” to mean perfect health, a comfortable lifestyle, constant happiness, full realization of your dreams, and instant relief from problems through faith and prayer. In a word, they expect the Christian life to be easy. They expect heaven on earth. 

This self-absorbed perspective treats God as a genie who simply exists to serve you in your selfish pursuit of personal fulfillment. But God is not your servant, and if you fall for the idea that life is supposed to be easy, either you will become severely disillusioned or you will live in denial of reality. Never forget that life is not about you! You exist for God’s purposes, not vice versa. Why would God provide heaven on earth when He’s planned the real thing for you in eternity? God gives us our time on earth to build and strengthen our character for heaven. 

It’s the Holy Spirit job to produce Christlike character in you. The Bible says, “As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him and reflect His glory even more”– 2 Corinthians 3:18. This process of changing us to be more like Jesus is called sanctification, and it is the third purpose of your life on earth. You cannot reproduce the character of Jesus on your own strength. New Year’s resolutions, willpower, and best intentions are not enough. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to make the changes God wants to make in our lives. The Bible says, “God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him”– Philippians 2:13

Christlikeness is not produced by imitation, but by inhabitation. We allow Christ to live through us. “For this is the secret: Christ lives in you”. How does this happen in real life? Through the choices we make. We choose to do the right thing in situations and then trust God’s Spirit to give us His power, love, faith, and wisdom to do it. Since God’s Spirit lives inside of us, these things are always available for the asking. We must cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work. The Holy Spirit releases His power the moment you take a step of faith. God waits for you to act first. Don’t wait to feel powerful or confident. Move ahead in your weakness, doing the right thing in spite of your fears and feelings. This is how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and it is  how your character develops.

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Formed for God’s Family

“For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings”– Hebrews 2:10 

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not“- 1 John 3:1

You were formed for God’s family. God wants a family, and He created you to be apart of it. This God’s second purpose for our lives, which He planned before we were born. The entire Bible is the story of God building a family who will love Him, honor Him, and reign with Him forever. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure.-Ephesians 1:5 NLT 

Because God is love, He treasures relationships. His very nature is relational, and He identifies himself in family terms: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is God’s relationship to himself. It’s the perfect pattern for relational harmony and we should study its implications. God has always existed in loving relationships to himself, so He has never been lonely. He didn’t need a family- He desired one, so He devised a plan to create us, bring us into His family, and share with us all He has. This give God pleasure. The Bible says, “And it was a happy day for him when[a] he gave us our new lives through the truth of his Word, and we became, as it were, the first children in his new family“-James 1:18 

When we place our faith in Christ, God becomes our Father, we become His children, other believers become our brothers and sisters, and the church becomes our spiritual family. The family of God includes all believers in the past, the present, and the future. Every human being was created by God, but not everyone is a child of God. The only way to get into God’s family is by being born again into it. You became part of the human family by your first birth, but you become a member of God’s family by your second birth. 

God “has given us the privilege of being born again, so that we are now members of God’s own family- 1 Peter 1:3. The invitation to be part of God’s family is universal, but there is one condition: faith in Jesus. The Bible says, “You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus”-Galatians 3:26. Your spiritual family is even more important than your physical family because it will last forever. Our families on earth are wonderful gifts from God, but they are temporary and fragile, often broken by divorce, distance, growing old, and inevitably, death. On the other hand, our spiritual family- our relationship to other believers- will continue throughout eternity. It is a much stronger union, a more permanent bond, than blood relationships.  

Whenever Paul would stop to consider God’s eternal purpose for us together, he would break out into praise: “When I think of the wisdom and scope of His plan I fall down on my knees and pray to the Father of all the great family of God- some of them already in heaven and some down here on earth”-Ephesians 3:14. The moment you were spiritually born into God’s family, you were given some astounding birthday gifts: the family name, the family likeness, family privileges, family intimate access, and the family inheritance! The Bible says, “Since you are His child, everything He has belongs to you”-Galatians 4:7 

As children of God, we get to share in the family fortune. Here on earth we are given “the riches…of His grace…kindness…patience…glory…wisdom…power…and mercy. But in eternity we will inherit even more. Paul said, “I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance He has given to His people”– Ephesians 1:18 What exactly does that inheritance include? First, we will get to be with God forever. Second, we will be completely changed to be like Christ. Third, we will be freed from all pain, death, and suffering. Fourth, we will be rewarded and reassigned positions of service. Fifth, we will get to share in Christ glory. What an inheritance! You are far richer than you realize. 

The Bible says, “God has reserved a priceless inheritance for His children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay”-1 Peter 1:4. This means that your eternal inheritance is priceless, pure, permanent, and protected. No one can take it from you; it can’t be destroyed by war, a poor economy, or a natural disaster. The eternal inheritance, not retirement, is what you should be looking forward to and working for. Paul says, “Whatever you do, work at is with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward”– Colossians 3:23-24

Healthy families have family pride; members are not ashamed to be recognized as a part of the family. Sadly, I have met many believers who have never publicly identified themselves with their spiritual family as Jesus commanded- by being baptized. Baptism is not an optional ritual, to be delayed or postponed. It signifies your inclusion in God’s family. It publicly announces to the world, “ I am not ashamed to be apart of God’s family”. Have you been baptized? Jesus commanded this beautiful act for all in His family. He told us to “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”– Matthew 28:19 

Why is Baptism important? I realized it is because it symbolizes God’s second purpose for your life: participating in the fellowship of God’s eternal family. Baptism is pregnant with meaning. Your baptism declares your faith, shares Christ burial and resurrection, symbolizes your death to your old life, and announces your new life in Christ. It is also a celebration of your inclusion in God’s family. Your baptism is a physical picture of a spiritual truth. It represents what happened the moment God brought you into His family. 

Being included in God’s family is the highest honor and the greatest privilege you will ever receive. Nothing else comes close. Whenever you feel unimportant, unloved, or insecure, remember to whom you belong! 

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How We Grow

God wants us to grow up. Our Heavenly Father’s goal is for us to mature and develop the characteristics of Jesus Christ. Sadly, millions of Christians grow older but never grow up. They are stuck in perpetual spiritual infancy, remaining in diapers and booties and on milk. The reason is that they never intended to grow. 

Spiritual growth is not automatic. It takes an intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow, and persist in growing. Discipleship- the process of becoming like Christ- always begins with a decision. Jesus calls us, and we respond: “Come, be my disciple, ” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed Him”. -Matthew 9:9  When the first disciples chose to follow Jesus, they didn’t understand all the implications of their decision. They simply responded to Jesus invitation. That’s all you need to get started: Decide to become a disciple.

Nothing shapes your life more than the commitments you choose to make. Your commitments can develop you or they can destroy you, but either way, they will define you. Tell me what you are committed to, and I’ll tell you what you will be in twenty years. We become whatever we are committed to. It is at this point of commitment that most people miss God’s purpose for their lives. Many are afraid to commit to anything and just drift through life. Others make half-hearted commitments to competing values, which leads to frustration and mediocrity. 

Others make a full commitment to worldly goals, such as becoming wealthy or famous, and end up disappointed and bitter. Every choice has eternal consequences, so you had better choose wisely. Peter warns, “Since everything around us is going to melt away, what holy, godly lives you should be living”. 2 Peter 3:11 God’s part and your part. Christlikeness is the result of making Christlike choices and depending on His Spirit to help you fulfill those choices. Once you decide to get serious about becoming like Christ, you must begin to act in new ways.

You will need to let go of some old routines, develop some new habits, and intentionally change the way you think. You can be certain that the Holy Spirit will help you with these changes. The Bible says, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His purpose.”-Philippians 2:12   This verse shows the two parts of spiritual growth: “work out” and “work in”. The “work out” is your responsibility and the “work in” is God’s role. Spiritual growth is a collaborative effort between you and the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit works with us, not just in us. 

To change your life, you must change the way you think. Behind everything you do is a thought. Every behavior is motivated by a belief, and every action is prompted by an attitude. God revealed this thousands of years before psychologists understood it. To be like Christ you must develop the mind of Christ. The New Testament calls this mental shift repentance, which in Greek literally means, “to change your mind”. You repent whenever you change the way you think by adopting how God thinks- about yourself, sin, God, other people, life, your future, and everything else. You take on Christ outlook and perspective. 

We are commanded to “think the same way that Christ Jesus thought”. We have to stop thinking immature thoughts, which are self-centered and self-seeking. The Bible says, “Stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” – 1 Corinthians 14:20 Babies by nature are completely selfish. They think only of themselves and their own needs. They are incapable of giving; they can only receive. This is immature thinking. Unfortunately, many people never grow beyond that kind of thinking. The Bible says, “Those who live following their sinful selves think only about things that their sinful selves want”- Romans 8:5

Today many assume that spiritual maturity is measured by the amount of biblical information and doctrine you know. While knowledge is one measurement of maturity, it isn’t the whole story. The Christian life is far more than creeds, and our beliefs must be backed up with Christlike behavior. God Bless!!

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