CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD

Genesis 1:26 – Then God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.
This verse of Scripture is packed with a lot of information. It reveals the eternal purpose of the one and only true God. He purposed that mankind be created in His image. Two questions arise: “What is the image of God?” “Who is the Us to whom God is referring?” Throughout the Scriptures, the Eternal One is revealed as Triune in His being. In this passage, the Hebrew word “Elohim” is used, which is the “plural” form of God’s name.

The first question in some catechisms is, “What is the chief end of man?” “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” We will experience God in such fashion—we will glorify Him and enjoy Him—only in proportion as we know Him. The knowledge of God is more essential for the Christian, and indeed for the entire world, than the knowledge of anything else. Jesus prays, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John17:3). Paul sums up the goal of his life when he declares, “That I may know Him” (Philippians 3:10).

God’s image is triune in terms of His nature. He revealed Himself to His creation man as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He created man triune as well: spirit, soul and body. When communicating to the church in Thessalonica, Paul said “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thessalonians 5:23). Only the Word of God can bring adequate understanding to this great mystery. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, both joints and marrow, and is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Just as God is One, the human is one. It is the Scriptures that reveal God’s makeup to us and it is the Scriptures that reveal how we have been created in His image and likeness. Through the study of the Scriptures, we learn all that God has chosen to reveal to us concerning Him. Through the study of Scriptures, we also learn what we need to know about God’s plan for His creation man and apply that knowledge to our personal lives. The great promise of God was that forever His Spirit would dwell with those who trust Him (John 14:16-17).

Father, I thank You for creating man in Your image and Your likeness. Father thank You for “eternal life” by knowing You and Jesus Christ whom You sent. Father, I thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to dwell in all those who put their trust in You.

REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS

Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
We can rejoice always because of all the Lord has done for His children. He has given to the children of God His divine nature (see 2 Peter 1:3). Maturing in Christ is yielding to the Holy Spirit’s help in developing the nature of God in the believer. It is not trying to become a better person. We can never attain to God’s righteousness by our own effort. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we grow up into Christ.

As Paul writes to the Philippians he goes on to instruct, “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5). Father God is gentle. The Lord Jesus is gentle. The Spirit of God is gentle. The gentleness of God has been placed in the believer’s spirit in the new birth. The Holy Spirit will help us exercise that gentleness in a world that attacks and can make us reactionary. Paul says “The Lord is near.” I believe that scripture can be understood in two ways.

First, the Lord is near in His coming for His own. In the first century, the Lord did come, not in the promised Second Coming, but in the promise of judgment on that generation (see Matthew 24:34). Second, He is near to be our helper. “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). David writes, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). We can see God is the same in the Old or New Covenant.

Paul goes on to say, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). The real proof of trust in God is the absence of anxiety. Anxiety is controlled by a life given to prayer and supplication connected to gratitude. Not just coming to the Lord when we are in trouble, but a lifestyle of communication with our heavenly Father.

The peace of God surpasses all our comprehension. The peace of God is what guards our hearts and our minds (see Philippians 4:7). That peace is rooted in Christ Jesus. Gentleness, absence of anxiety, peace of God, and a heart and mind that is protected comes to those who “rejoice in the Lord always.”

Father, I rejoice in You. Help me to learn how to rejoice always. No matter what is happening around me, I ask for the Holy Spirit to release gentleness and peace to my heart and mind in Jesus’ name.

EXCHANGING FATHERS

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 – Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.
The main purpose for Jesus’ living among His creation was to reveal the Father. Jesus is the express image of the Father in human form. The disciples really did not truly understand, even after three and a half years of walking with Jesus. This was demonstrated by Phillip’s request in John 14, “Show us the Father and it will be enough.” Jesus responded to Phillip by saying, “Have I been so long with you that you do not yet understand that when you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.”

Fathering is at the heart of restoration in the human race. Adam is the father of all on a human level. In his sin of disobedience, he lost the human standing before God. We have inherited his nature of self. Self is manifested in “selfishness.” Jesus came in human form, but did not have Adam’s nature of self, thus He did not have a sin nature. Jesus came with the nature of His heavenly Father (see Philippians chapter 2). It is a nature of “selflessness.” He gave up all His glory for every human being. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

When the Holy Spirit’s power “gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12), we exchanged fathers. In baptism we die to Adam and are raised up in Christ a “new creation” (see Romans 6 and 2 Corinthians 5). God is now our Father. As His new creation we become part of His whole new work in Christ. Consider what Peter writes, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Father, I thank You that I can call You Father. I thank You for the redemptive work of Christ Your Son. I thank You for the power of the Holy Spirit who is working mightily in me.

PROTECTING YOUR VINEYARD

1 Kings 21:3 – But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”
The story of Naboth and Ahab is a powerful example of how the Lord respects the inheritance of our fathers. Ahab wanted Naboth’s vineyard for selfish reasons. Ahab moved from desire to coveting the vineyard. For Naboth it was more than the money or even the offer of a better vineyard. It was about his inheritance which he had received from his fathers. It was about generations. It was about identity. It was, for Naboth, an integral issue.

Ahab did not understand “integrity.” Ahab’s evil wife certainly did not understand. She only knew the lust in her heart. She plotted to have Naboth killed so evil Ahab could have his heart’s desire. “The thief comes only to steal and to kill and destroy . . .” (John 10:10). Satan is a thief and his objective is to steel our inheritance given to us by our heavenly Father. John 10:10 concludes by saying, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.”

The enemy tried to rob the vineyard of God, but failed through the power of the cross and in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 21:33-46). As the parable declares, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons” (Matthew 21:41).

The parable of the landowner is an illustration of Israel and Christ’s church made up of Jew and Gentile. The Lord protected His vineyard when He judged those who were in charge (the religious leaders of Jesus’ day). He has installed new vine-growers through the new birth. The Baptism of the Spirit is the all-inclusive work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The Spirit causes the believer to be a fruitful branch on the “Vine” which is Christ (see John 15). The Spirit makes us a worker in the Lord’s vineyard and calls us to give Him increased fruit.

Our inheritance is in the Lord. We must, through the power of the Holy Spirit, protect the portion of the vineyard He has assigned to us. It is our inheritance. Do not let an Ahab or a Jezebel rob you. We have authority over Satan’s kingdom as it affects our life and inheritance. Resist the devil and he will flee.

Father, I pray for an infilling of the Holy Spirit to be a successful worker in Your vineyard. I pray for increase that I might give to You, knowing it all belongs to You.

THE CHALLENGE OF OBEDIENCE

Mathew 21:28 – But what do you think?
Mathew 21:28-32 records the parable of the two sons. Jesus asked the chief priests the question, “What do you think?” after they had tried to trap Him with their question about the authority of John’s baptism, whether it was from heaven or from man (see Matthew 21:23-27).

Jesus uses the parable to reveal the heart of these religious leaders. The first son was asked by his father to go work in the vineyard, but he answered “I will not.” Eventually he did go. The father came to the second son and instructed him to go work in the vineyard, and he answered, “I will sir.” This son did not go. Jesus then asked, “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They answered “the first.”

Jesus responds to their answer with an amazing response. “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.” They gave the correct answer, but their lives demonstrated the attitude of the second son’s rebellion.

Jesus then answers their first question about the authority of John’s baptism. “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him” (Matthew 21:32).

Belief is always the issue and belief is demonstrated in action. Some believe that James and Paul had two different views about faith. I believe they were dealing with two different issues. James was combating a superficial faith that had no wholesome effect in the life of the professed believer. Paul, on the other hand, was combating legalism—the belief that one may earn saving merit before God by his good deeds.
Father, I trust You for a belief system that evidences wholesome faith. Faith that is evidenced by my obedience to Your word as I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me.

MAKE SURE YOUR FOUNDATION IS SOLID

Matthew 7:24 – Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
Jehovah God gave to Israel through Moses and the prophets, the material to build a sound foundation. Solid, because the words that formed the Law and the words the Prophets spoke perfectly of Christ who was created in the image of God and of man. Jesus is that man and He is the foundation of the new creation. The Holy Spirit is God’s instrument in the earth to bring forth God’s will through His new creation man born of God’s Spirit. First Christ, then all those who believe on Him.

A solid foundation begins by “hearing” the words of Jesus. Hearing is not simply hearing with one’s ears, but applying what has been heard. The key is in “acting” on Christ’s words. Jesus is the foundation, but the believer does the building with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says the one who acts on His words is “wise.” We begin with a solid foundation then build wisely through obedience to the words of our Lord.

The Scriptures, in many places, guarantee that what we are building will be tested. The testing will be by rain, floods, and winds that will slam against our building. Each of these natural conditions is representative of events that bring destruction. Jesus uses these as examples for spiritual conditions that will arise against the building. If the building was not built wisely, it will not stand.

The truth which Jesus is teaching applies not only to individuals, but to nations as well. It is important that we examine our hearts and examine what we have built in our lives. Is it built upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His words? Are we dependent on the Holy Spirit to empower us in the building process? When we read the Scriptures it is important to ask the question, “How am I applying this truth in my life?”

Father, I ask for understanding concerning the building of my life in Christ. I ask for the Holy Spirit to show me any part that is not up to Your divine code. I pray that I might be a wise builder that brings glory to You as the tests come and as others observe what has been built.