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.

http://www.lucretiacargill.com

motherprayaing

Advertisements

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! 

http://www.lucretiacargill.com

Godisreal1

 

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!!

http://www.lucretiacargill.com

imagesK5SI7N7S

Transformed by Trouble

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”- 2 Corinthians 4:17 

God has a purpose behind every problem. He uses circumstances to develop our character. In fact, He depends more on circumstances to make us like Jesus than He depends on our reading the Bible. The reason is obvious: You face circumstances 24 hrs. a day. Jesus warned us that we would have problems in the world. No one is immune to pain or insulated from suffering, and no one gets to skate through life problem free. 

Life is a series of problems. Every time you solve one, another is waiting to take its place. Not all of them are big, but all are significant in God’s growth process for you. Peter assures us that problems are normal saying, “Don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you”.-1 Peter 4:12 God uses problems to draw you closer to himself. The Bible says, The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those who are crushed in spirit”-Psalms 34:18

Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days-when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pain is great- and you turn to God alone. It is during suffering that we learn to pray our most authentic, heartfelt, honest-to-God prayers. When we’re in pain, we don’t have the energy for superficial prayers. We learn things about God in suffering that we can’t learn any other way. 

God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion’s den, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy pit, kept Paul from being shipwrecked three times, and kept the three Hebrew young men from being thrown into the blazing furnace-but He didn’t. He let those problems happen, and every one of those persons was drawn closer to God as a result. Problems force us to look to God and depend on Him instead of ourselves. Paul testified to this benefit: ” We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us”- 2 Corinthians 1:9 

God is all you need until God is all you’ve got. Regardless of the cause, none of your problems could happen without God’s permission. Everything happens to a child of God is Father-filtered, and He intends to use it for good even when Satan and others meant it for bad. Because God is sovereignly in control, accidents are just incidents in God’s good plan for you. Because every day of your life was written on God’s calendar before you were born, everything that happens to you as spiritual significance. Everything! Romans 8:28 explains why: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, wo have been called according to His purpose”

We live in a fallen world. Only in heaven is everything done perfectly the way God intends. That is why we are told to pray, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Our hope in difficult times is not based on positive thinking, wishful thinking, or natural optimism. It is certainty based on the truths that God is in complete control of our universe and that He loves us.

http://www.lucretiacargill.com

transformed

 

Defeating Temptation

“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart”- 2 Timothy 2:22

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it”1 Corinthians 10:13 

There is always a way out. You may sometimes feel that a temptation is too overpowering for you to bear, but that’s a lie from Satan. God has promised never to allow more on you than He puts within you to handle it. He will not permit any temptation that you could not overcome. However, you must do your part too by practicing four biblical keys to defeating temptation: 

  • Refocus your attention on something else. It may surprise you that nowhere in the Bible are we told to “resist temptation”. We are told to ” resist the devil”, but that is very different. Instead, we are advised to refocus our attention because resisting a thought doesn’t work. It only intensifies our focus on the wrong thing and strengthens its allure. Every time you try to block a thought out of your mind, you drive it deeper into your memory. By resisting it, you actually reinforce it. This is especially true with temptation. You don’t defeat temptation by fighting the feeling of it. The more you fight the feeling, the more it consumes and controls you. You strengthen it every time you think it. Since temptation always begins with a thought, the quickest way to neutralize its allure is to turn your attention to something else. Don’t fight the thought, just change the channel of your mind and get interested in another idea. This is the first step in defeating temptation. 

 

  • Reveal your struggle to a Godly friend or support group. You don’t have to broadcast it  to the whole world, but you need at least one person you can honestly share your struggles with. If you’re losing the battle against a persistent bad habit, an addiction, or a temptation, and you’re stuck in a repeating cycle of good intention- failure-guilt, you will not get better on your own! You need the help of other people. Some temptations are only overcome with the help of a partner who prays for you, encourages you, and holds you accountable. God’s plan for your growth and freedom includes other Christians. Satan wants you to think that your sin and temptation are unique so you must keep them a secret. The truth is, we’re all in the same boat. We all fight the same temptations, and “all of us have sinned”

 

  • Resist the Devil. After we have humbled ourselves and submitted to God, we are then told to defy the Devil. The rest of James 4:7 says, “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you”. We don’t passively resign ourselves to his attacks. We are to fight back. Remember this: If you are a believer, Satan cannot force you to do anything. We must use the Word of God as your weapon against Satan. Jesus modeled this when He was tempted in the wilderness. Don’t ever try to argue with the Devil. Christians are often compared to soldiers serving in the enemy’s territory. If you don’t have any Bible verses memorized, you’ve got no bullets in your gun!

 

  • Realize Vulnerability.  God warns us never to get cocky and overconfident; that is the recipe for disaster. Given the right circumstances, any of us are capable of any sin. We must never let down our guard and think we’re beyond temptation. Don’t carelessly place yourself in tempting situations. Avoid them. Remember that is easier to stay out of temptation than to get out of it. 

 

Spiritually, your mind is your most vulnerable organ. To reduce temptation, keep your mind occupied with God’s Word and other good thoughts.  You defeat bad thoughts by thinking something better. Satan can’t get your attention when your mind is preoccupied with something else.!!!! 

jealousy3

Accepting Your Assignment

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:10 

“I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” John 17:4 

You and I were put on earth to make a contribution. You weren’t created just to consume resources- to eat, breathe, and take up space. God designed each of you to make a difference with your life. You were created to add to life on earth, not just to take from it. God wants you to give something back. The Bible gives us the details:

You were created to serve God. The Bible says, God has created us for a life of good deeds, which He has already prepared for us to do. These “good deeds” are your service. Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God and fulfilling one of your purposes. What God told Jeremiah is also true for each of us: “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work” (Jeremiah 1:5). You were placed on this planet for a special assignment. 

You were saved to serve God. The Bible says, “It is He who saved us and chose us for his holy work, not because we deserved it but because that was His plan”2 Timothy 1:9. God redeemed you and I so we could do His “holy work”. You’re not saved by service, but you are saved for service. In God’s kingdom, you have a place, a purpose, a role, and a function to fulfill. This gives your life great significance and value. It cost Jesus His own life to purchase our salvation. The Bible reminds us that, “God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God”-1 Corinthians 6:20 We don’t serve God out of guilt or fear or even duty, but out of joy, and deep gratitude for what He’s done for us. We owe Him our lives. Through salvation our past has been forgiven, our present is given meaning, and our future is secured. 

What are the good works God has prepared for me?

Many of us would be inclined to answer this question by pointing to specific things Christians tend to do as an expression of their faith. Good works would include: attending worship services, praying regularly, studying Scripture, giving generously from our financial resources, joining a small group, going on mission trips, caring for the poor, working for justice for the oppressed, loving our neighbors, and so forth. These are surely among the good works God has prepared for us. We rightly engage in these activities as people who have been transformed by God’s grace through Christ.

Prayer

Help me, Lord, to walk in the good works you have in store for me. Help me to be open to all that you would have me do. Teach me to see my whole life as you see it. By your Spirit, may I come to see every moment of every day as an occasion to do good works—including good work—for you.  In Jesus Name. Amen.

http://www.lucretiacargill.com

imagesIUBOLJXI

It All Starts with GOD

 For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels – everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him (Colossians 1:16 Msg). 

It’ not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this earth, you must begin with GOD. You were born by His purpose and for His purpose. The search for the purpose of life has puzzled people for thousands of years. That’s because we typically begin at the wrong starting point- ourselves. We ask self-centered questions like What do I want to be? What should I do with my life? What are my goals, my ambitions, my dreams for my future? But focusing on ourselves will never reveal our life’s purpose. 

Contrary to what many popular books, movies, and seminars tell you, you won’t discover your life’s meaning by looking within yourself. You’ve probably tried that already. You didn’t create yourself, so there is no way you can tell yourself what you were created for! If I handed you an invention you never seen before, you wouldn’t know it’s purpose, and the invention itself wouldn’t be able to tell you either. Only the creator or the owner’s manual could reveal its purpose. You cannot arrive at your life’s purpose by starting with a focus on yourself. You must begin with GOD, our Creator. We exist only because GOD wills that we exist. We were made by GOD and for GOD– and until you understand that, life will never make sense. It is only GOD that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. Every other path leads to a dead end. 

Many people try to use God for their own self-actualization, but that is a reversal of nature and is doomed to failure. You were made for God, not vice versa, and life is about letting God use you for His purposes, not your using Him for your own purpose. God is just not the starting point of your life; He is the source of it. To discover your purpose in life you must turn to God’s Word, not the world’s wisdom. You must build your life on eternal truths, not pop psychology, success-motivation, or inspirational stories. You discover your identity and purpose through a relationship with Jesus Christ. His purpose for your life predates your conception. He planned it before you existed, without your input! 

The purpose of your life fits into a much larger, cosmic purpose that God has designed for eternity. If I could ask you what makes you angry, joyful, excited or passionate, what would you say? Take note of when your emotions are moved; these times can be a sign of your God-given purpose. I get FIRED up about the godless condition of the world. When I hear about little children being abused, I get angry. When someone tells me a story about loyal love, I am deeply moved. An exquisite arrangement of words on a page fills my heart with passion. A story of someone’s heartbreak grieves me. Talking about Christ stirs me up. When coupled with my talents, these passions point in the direction of my purpose of written and spoken communication about things that deeply impact people on a spiritual and emotional level. 

Pray. Ask God to show you things that move you and make a list. And remember, He wants you to discover His purpose for you more than you do. Lastly, consider that your purpose is not just about you; it’s about what God wants to do through you. Therefore, if you ignore or neglect your dissatisfaction, what others say about you, your gifts and your passions, you are not only betraying yourself, but betraying God because He has called you to a purpose and wants you to walk in it– for your own joy. Also consider that since God has called you, He is completely able to reveal your purpose to you, and He will as you diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). #DiscoverYourPurpose

http://www.lucretiacargill.com

Godisreal1