Sunday, August 28, 2016

Imitators of God

Imitators of God

As followers of Jesus, our lives should change. As we ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18), more and more over time, what we think about, desire, say and do should epitomize the character of God and the life of Jesus. High calling?  Yes!  But that is what God is calling us to do and to be.

Paul implored the believers at Ephesus to live the life to which God had called them.
  • Ephesians 4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,

Later in the book of Ephesians, Paul told these followers of Jesus just what this call means: be like God and live like Jesus.
  • Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

But Paul is not the only one to give believers this message.

Jesus told us to be like God
  • Luke 6:36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
  • Matthew 5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Peter and John told us to live like Jesus
  • 1 Peter 2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
  • 1 John 2:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

But this is not an act. We aren’t pretending to be something we aren’t. Jesus detested hypocrisy. He wasn’t preoccupied with the rules; He emphasized relationship. When you imitate the Love of God, you will fulfill the Law of God.
  • Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
  • Romans 13:10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

This is a metamorphosis!
  • Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

We are to put off the old and put on the new.
  • Ephesians 4:20-24 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Those who don’t know God must see Him in us. Living in a way that draws others to God is one of the primary responsibilities of ambassadors for Christ.
  • Ephesians 5:20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

But God doesn’t just call us to live like this; He also gives us the desire and ability to do it.
  • Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Therefore, surrendering to these truths, in obedience to His desires for my life, I pray for:

     The Word of God to Be My Foundation

     The Love of God to Open My Eyes

     The Mercy of God to Purify My Motives

     The Grace of God to Inspire My Benevolence

     The Wisdom of God to Transform My Thinking

     The Forgiveness of God to Impact My Relationships

     The Compassion of God to Soften My Heart

     The Spirit of God to Enable My Obedience

     The Will of God to Guide My Steps

     The Power of God to Leverage My Weaknesses

     The Humility of God to Destroy My Pride

     The Promises of God to Inspire My Hope

     The Peace of God to Calm My Fears

     The Immutability of God to Steady My Course

     The Son of God to Define My Life

In all of this, we must point others to Him.

Don’t See Me
See Him

Don’t Rely on Me
Trust in Him

Don’t Commend Me
Surrender to Him


Father, may I surrender to You and Your will be absolute. May Your character and faithfulness, the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ, the power of Your Holy Spirit, the Truth of Your Word, and the faith and gifts You have given me enable me to live as a genuine and effective ambassador for Jesus. I pray that all Your saints embrace the call to be like You and to live like Jesus. May Your truth draw others to salvation in Jesus Christ. For it is in His precious name I pray these things. Amen.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dealing with the Shame of Sin

Dealing with the Shame of Sin

Shame due to sin is an unfortunate reality in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ. We love our Lord and Savior, we appreciate all He has done for us, and we hate falling short of the life He wants for us.

But we do fall short.
  • 1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

And though shame is a natural response to our sin, we serve a supernatural Savior who has delivered us from a life characterized by shame.
  • Romans 10:11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

Sources of Shame

The Shame of Sin before a Holy God
  • Isaiah 6:5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”
  • Job 42:5-6 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. 6 Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”
    • God is absolutely pure, righteous and sinless. When we encounter His perfection, we see just how sinful we really are (all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags compared to Him – Isaiah 64:6).
    • This shame recognizes how far we have fallen from the sinless life He designed and desires for us.

The Shame of Sin from the Past
  • Jeremiah 31:19 Surely, after my turning, I repented; And after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh; I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated, Because I bore the reproach of my youth.’
  • Romans 6:20-21 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
    • We all have sin in our past (Ephesians 2:3). As we walk with our Savior and mature in our faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God, we begin to overcome the sins that defined our life without Him. But the memories of our past lives are not wiped from our minds.
    • This shame remembers the rebellion that was in our lives before we surrendered to Christ and the weaknesses in our lives since our salvation in Christ.

The Shame of Sin in the Present
  • Ezra 9:6 And I said: “O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.
  • Luke 18:13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
    • No matter how far we have come in our journey as a believer, we still battle with sin (1 John 1:8). Not until we are in Heaven with our Lord will we be totally freed from the presence of sin and our fleshly propensity to sin.
    • This shame results from a life where Satan, the world and our flesh still tempt; and we still miss the mark. 

Moving Past Shame
  • Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
    • Stagnating in shame brings no glory to God. We are called to a life and eternal future that warrant drive, determination, confidence and dependence. We are children of a loving and Holy God who saved us from the coming wrath and promised us a glorious future in Heaven with Him. Leave your failures behind and move ahead toward those things He has promised you. It is a high calling. If anyone told you it would be easy, they lied to you.

Shame is a Sham
  • Galatians 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
    • Face the facts, if you could live without sinning, Christ would not have had to die on the cross.
    • Dwelling in shame shows a lack of understanding of and appreciation for what Christ did for you.
  • Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
    • Through Christ, you are completely reconciled to God.
    • Drowning in shame is a waste of your time and an insult to His grace.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
    • In Christ, we are perfect before God. In practice, we still fall short. Live like the saint that you are!
    • Don’t be defined by your failures, be distinguished by His victory.

God loves you more than you can possibly imagine or understand. He longs for you to quickly move past any shame in your life and enjoy the peace that only a right relationship with Him can bring.


Holy Father in Heaven, I thank You for dealing with my sin in such a way that shame should never weigh me down or linger in my life. As much as I hate falling short, I love and trust You more. Christ died to free me from shame, guilt, despair, depression and anything else that interferes in my relationship with you. Please dear Lord, use the truth of Your Word to free me and others from the grip of shame. We fall short, You never do. We get stuck in the here and now, You are focused on every moment of eternity. I praise you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Anger Management

Anger Management

I have dealt with a great deal of anger in my life; from others and from within myself. I share this only as a testimony to God’s grace. Although I am still far from perfect in this and other areas, my faithful and loving Heavenly Father has brought me a much closer to where I should be as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Is getting angry a sin? No.

We know this because Jesus got angry, and He never sinned.
  • Mark 3:5 And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.
  • Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

However, an inappropriate response to our own anger can lead us into sin. Anger must be dealt with promptly so it doesn’t grow into something that takes us outside the principles, guidelines and expectations God has established for His children.
  • Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,

If anger is not addressed quickly and effectively, it can mutate into something very ugly. Here is a very simplified description of how anger can grow into sin. From beginning to end, this process can take seconds or years.

Reaction – Initial Response
  • You experience or become aware of something that you respond to with anger.

Rage – Unhealthy Progression
  • You feed your anger and it grows into a passionate preoccupation.

Retribution – Seeking Satisfaction
  • You appoint yourself judge, jury and executioner; you are determined to even the score.

Determining when your response to anger becomes sinful will require close self-examination. However, this is not about figuring out when you ‘crossed the line’. It is about preventing it if you haven’t or confessing and forsaking it if you have. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

What stirs your anger?
  • Angry because of your own sin
    • Pride, selfishness, impatience, greed, laziness…
  • Angry because of the sin of others
    • Murder, stealing, pride, sexual sin, gossip…
  • Honestly, I get very uncomfortable with Christians using the phrase ‘righteous indignation’ to justify their anger. Yes, Jesus got angry. But Jesus is the sinless Son of God. The weaknesses of our ungodly human nature can and will cloud our judgment and warp the mirror we use to examine ourselves. The Word of God along with the conviction and guidance of His Holy Spirit are our only hope of accurately assessing the source of our anger and determining an appropriate response to it. Trust God to help you see clearly, not yourself. Speaking to the religious leaders of His time Jesus said:
    • Luke 16:15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
      • May it never be so for us.

What appeases your anger?
  • Satisfying Yourself
    • Rejecting – Are you turning your back on someone because of your anger?
    • Retaining – Do you refuse to let go of your anger?
    • Retaliating – Are you looking for revenge?
  • Obedience to God
    • Resolving – Are you truly seeking to address the issues that trigger your anger?
    • Releasing – Are you willing to forgive someone even if you think they don’t deserve it?
    • Restoring – Are you showing Christian love by putting other’s needs ahead of your own?
  • We serve the one true God, a God of grace, mercy and love. Yes, He is a God of wrath; but we aren’t.
    • Romans 12:17-21 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
      • May it ever be so with us.

God makes abundantly clear that our wrath can never accomplish His righteousness.
  • James 1:19-20 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Here a few verses from God’s Word that deal with our anger and His wrath. His wrath is always justified. We see our wrath as self-justification.
  • Ezra 5:12 But because our fathers provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and carried the people away to Babylon.
  • Proverbs 16:32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
  • Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
  • Ecclesiastes 7:9 Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.
  • Psalm 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.
  • Colossians 3:5-7 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

Anger in response to sin is appropriate.
Anger that leads to sin is not.

Has your anger become sinful? I can’t answer that. But if you truly seek after God and submit to Him and His truth, He will help you find the answers you need. In His love you can learn to manage your anger appropriately. Please, deal with your anger promptly; do not let the sun go down on your wrath.


Holy Father, I know that when Your wrath comes, it is right. But anytime my anger has escalated to the point of a wrathful response, I know I have sinned against You. Above all else You teach us to love You and to love others; to put other’s needs ahead of our own. Please forgive me where I have failed. Please use Your Word to touch the hearts of others and to lead them to repentance over any sinful response to anger in their lives. I pray to You in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Christian’s Defense Against Satan

A Christian’s Defense Against Satan

In last week’s devotion, ‘Satan’s Battle with Christians’, we looked at how the attacks of Satan on Christians can leave us feeling scared, wounded or defeated. And though Satan wages war against God, he does battle with Christians. Why? Because he knows a defeated Christian is his most effective weapon against Christianity. Reading the content of last week’s devotion will provide some context for this one.

God knows Satan’s tactics and has provided us all we need to successfully defend ourselves. That’s right, we assume a defensive posture when it comes to attacks from Satan and his demons.
  • Ephesians 6:10-12 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Our Heavenly Father has given us very specific instructions about how to be victorious in our battles with evil powers:

‘… be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.’
‘Put on the whole armor of God, …’

But don’t think of these as two distinct strategies; God is actually telling us to do one thing:

Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might
by putting on the whole armor of God!

The scripture below will help clarify this concept.
  • Deuteronomy 20:3-4 And he shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; 4 for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’
    • Father God has always desired that His children depend on Him when facing battles.
  • Psalm 91:2-4 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” 3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. 4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
    • God is our protector and our protection.
  • Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you
    • God never intended for us to stand in our own strength; we need His strength to survive.
  • Ephesians 6:13-17 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
    • The whole armor of God includes Truth, Righteousness, the Gospel (good news), Faith, Salvation and the Word of God: these are all references to Jesus Christ – who is God in the flesh.
  • Luke 13:34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!
    • Christ uses the exact same analogy of a protective mother hen as we saw in Psalm 91 above. Christ is available, capable and longing to protect us.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
    • It can be difficult to let go of an, ‘I can do this on my own!’ attitude. But we have to surrender to God’s strength to experience true victory in our lives. Attempting to wins battles in our own strength is prideful. God hates pride and will humble the proud.

When Satan attacks,
we must stand in God’s power,
not our own.

We do this by donning
the armor of God,
which means putting on Christ.

Fully immersed in the salvation and attributes of Christ is where every Christian belongs.
  • Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
  • Romans 13:12-14 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Although I focused on the defensive aspects of spiritual battle in the material above, it is critically important to acknowledge, understand and become proficient with the offensive weapons God has provided His children. Technically speaking, any piece of our armor can function as a weapon. However, the sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God), along with prayer, are our primary weapons.

NOTE: To gain more perspective on the truth of God’s Word presented in this devotion, please reference the following items also posted on this site: Jesus is God (June 2014) and God With Us (February 2015).


Father God, thank you for providing Your armor and Your love for all the battles of life. Forgive me for sometimes fighting in my own strength. Please help me to put on Christ in all areas of my life. Please use the truth of Your Word to touch hearts, bring victory to those actively engage in battle, and to bring salvation to those who are not followers of Jesus Christ. Help us all to surrender to Your strength. I pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.