Being Salt and Light in Ocean View, HI

Becoming Like Jesus – Part 1 Midweek Study with Bob

Good evening last week in our discussion of intimacy with god and with each other as a benefit of belief we looked at the critical importance of trusting in god’s love for us as a necessary foundation for intimacy with god and intimacy with each other only as we trust god’s love for us can we truly draw near to him without the fear of condemnation and judgment and only when we trust in god’s love and sovereignty can we bring ourselves to risk intimacy with each other this is a truth that we found reflected in paul’s prayer in ephesians 3. so in the coming weeks we are going to examine this prayer more closely as it gives us great understanding about how we are transformed from our old sinful nature into the likeness of jesus christ himself but to understand paul’s prayer we need to be able to look at it in context that god desires to transform us into the image of christ is clear in his word in romans 8 28 and following paul tells us for those whom he god foreknew he also predestined to become conformed to the image of his son so that he would be the firstborn among many brethren and those whom he predestined he also called and those whom he called he also justified and those whom he justified he also glorified i can’t help but point out the richness of these verses christians are first foreknown by god then predestined then called then justified and what are we called and predestined to to be conformed to the image of his son jesus to be glorified john says much the same thing in john 3 2 beloved now we are children of god and it is not yet appeared what we will be but we know that when he appears we will be like him because we will see him just as he is and everyone who has this hope fixed on him purifies himself just as he jesus is pure we will be like him that is our great hope for future glorification and current transformation paul says the same thing to the corinthian church in second corinthians 3 18. but we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory justice from the lord the spirit so we ask ourselves how is this accomplished john says it comes from having a hope fixed on him on jesus paul says the same thing in different words beholding as in a mirror the glory of the lord both clearly teach that we become like jesus when we spend time in his presence fixed on his glory desires of being like him and while our transformation into his image is fundamentally a work of god in our hearts and lives we do have a part to play remember paul writing to the philippians he says so then my beloved just as you have always obeyed not as in my presence only but now much more my absence work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is god who is at work in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure part of working out our salvation is keeping our eyes and hearts focused on jesus so paul knowing that our transformation into the image of christ is fundamentally based upon the contemplation of and understanding of god’s character and glory in the first chapter of ephesians reminds us of who god is and who we are in christ and the indescribable riches that are ours in christ he reminds us that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing that we have been chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him that we are the adopted sons of a loving and gracious father that we are brother and kinsmen of jesus himself part of god’s household and kingdom he also speaks of our redemption and our forgiveness that flows from the bounty of god’s grace of the wisdom that is ours as he reveals his will and his plan for his creation of the inheritance that is ours that we will be glorified many of these are the same things that we have looked at in the last few weeks he goes on and also reminds us of who we were dead in our transgressions without hope in the world captives of satan the prince of the power of the air indulging in the sinful desires of our flesh and mind far away from god and aliens and strangers to his promises but now being made fit together as a dwelling place for the very spirit of god all of these truths are designed to give us a picture of god to look to to enhance our understanding of our appreciation of and our awe of god and that picture then serves as a as the foundation for our desire to love and to follow and to obey him paul makes this abundantly clear when he prays for the ephesian church in ephesians 1 18. paul could have prayed for so many things on behalf of the ephesian believers he could have prayed for their protection he could have prayed for their steadfastness for their endurance he could have prayed for their spiritual growth or for their continued obedience and while all of these things are important and are things paul prays for at other times and places here he prays for that which is foundational to everything else that they may know he says this i pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of his calling what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints and what is the surpassing greatness of his power toward us who believe the very things that he has just been talking about in earlier verses you see paul knows that this is the starting point for becoming like christ in later chapters paul exhorts the ephesian believers to walk to behave in a certain manner ephesians 4 1 and following says therefore i the prisoner of the lord implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called there is the inherent expectation that as a result of our coming to faith in christ we will be changed transformed as we continue on in chapter 4 we see that our walk is to be characterized by humility by gentleness and patience all attributes of jesus in verse 13 paul says that we are to attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of god to a mature man to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of christ then as a result we are no longer to be children tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men by craftiness in deceitful schemings but speaking the truth in love we are to grow up in all aspects into him who is the head even christ and then continuing verse 22 he says that in reference to your former manner of life you lay aside the old self which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new self which is in the likeness of god and been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth beloved i hope that as we hear these verses our hearts are stirred to a great desire to be like jesus to be men and women who are steadfast not carried away by every wind of doctrine to have hearts and minds focused on heavenly treasure rather than on worldly treasure to walk with humility and assurance and steadfast love to be a mature man experiencing the fullness of christ yet i fear we often find ourselves losing sight of these things and growing weary of doing good we are easily distracted by worldly trouble and pursuits we echo paul’s words in romans 7 15 for what am i doing i i do not understand i am not practicing that which i would like to do but i am doing the very thing i hate we find ourselves guilty like the church of ephesus in revelation 2 having left our first love and growing cold toward god and the things of god how do we practically stay the course and come to christ likeness how do we move from the truth and glory of our identity and resources in christ to walking in a manner worthy of these truths the answer to these questions can be found in paul’s prayer of ephesians 3 14 where he prays for this reason i bow my knees before the father from whom every family in heaven on earth derives its name that he would grant you according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his spirit in the inner man in order that christ may dwell in your hearts through faith in order that you being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of christ which surpasses knowledge and one more in order that in order that you may be filled up to all the fullness of god and then he gives his benediction now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us to him be the glory in the church and in christ jesus to all generations forever and ever amen in this prayer we see the steps that god has designed that bring us to a place of being like jesus we see that the final step brings us to a place where we can be filled up to all the fullness of god it is a fullness that is to result in power and accomplishment not the power and accomplishment of human achievement that is not how we become effective ambassadors and stewards of christ look again at verse 20. it is god who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to his power that’s not surprising he is the all-powerful all-seeing all-knowing creator god of course he has the power to do that which is beyond all that we ask or think now the amazing thing the surprising thing in this verse is that he works this power in and through us the consequence of being filled up to all the fullness of god is that he then accomplishes his plan his design his work and will in us that is why jesus can say in john 14 12 truly truly i say to you he who believes in me the works that i do he will do also and greater works than these he will do because i go to the father beloved please understand that god calls us into his family and kingdom so that he can accomplish his will in and through us so that we can experience a unity with him and his purposes so that we can participate in expanding his kingdom but the degree and depth of that unity and kinship is dependent upon our being transformed from our old thoughts and habits and nature to our new ones you know we desperately need truths to cling to and god in his grace has provided many this evening we are reminded that the success of our christian walk is founded on our deepening knowledge of the character and heart of god and of his son knowledge of his majesty and his grace of his provision and deep love for us of his continuous desire for relationship and intimacy with us we see that he wishes to duplicate his character and his purpose in our hearts and lives that he wishes to accomplish his will in and through us and he gives us the instruction and insight to make it all possible join me over the next few weeks in seeking to be transformed into the very image of our beloved lord and hearing from god’s word how that might come to pass and also let us affirm with paul where he says in philippians 3 20 and 21 for our citizenship is in heaven from which we eagerly wait for a savior the lord jesus christ who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of his glory let us pray father our prayer this evening is a simple one father help us to have hearts that yearn to be like you that yearn to be like your son teach his father in the weeks to come how that takes place and then father just give us insight into your word and into your will so the father the very things that you would love to give us are the very things that we would love to receive we thank you for your son for his redemptive work for his transforming work and we ask he sings in his precious precious name amen

 

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