Today’s message of January 29, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:
We have been spending time over the past few months in Sunday school studying the act of discipleship. Discipleship involves the ability to communicate the gospel effectively to those who desire to learn more about a relationship with Jesus Christ, and also to be able to come alongside those who are believers in Jesus with encouragement, instruction and accountability. Both of these actions are Spirit-driven through both your desire to serve Jesus and through the enabling and guiding power of the Holy Spirit.
Your ability to serve requires preparation, including preparatory study, and this involves the practice of living daily in God’s IMAGE.
Genesis 1:26-27 HCSB
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”
So God created man in His own image;
He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female.
Being created in the likeness of God is a big deal! We are the highest honor of His creation, and we were created to be in the family of Jesus Christ, who is also in the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4):
Hebrews 1:1-3 HCSB
Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
With this in mind, living in His IMAGE is a great responsibility! To live in His IMAGE is to live in a Christlike manner according to His will, His purpose and His glory!
Romans 12:2 HCSB
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
1 Peter 2:15 ESV
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
Romans 8:28-29 HCSB
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.
Galatians 3:26 ESV
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
The word “IMAGE” is an acronym of the characteristics of a believer of Jesus Christ living a Christlike existence:
- The letter “I” is to investigate Scripture, which is more than just reading the bible. It’s digging deep into the Word.
- The letter “M” is to meditate on His Word in prayer.
- The letter “A” is to act on His word in consistency and with obedience.
- The letter “G” is to grow in your faith and mature as the Holy Spirit continues to impart wisdom and knowledge along with your life experiences.
- The letter “E” is to endure life’s moments and shine before others to glorify God.
Another aspect of growing as an effective disciple for Jesus Christ incorporates this past year’s introduction of effective decision-making as a believer. It involves making a PACT with Jesus Christ. It is a commitment to make the best life choices in obedience to honor God and cherish His Word.
The word “PACT” is an acronym for how to be an effective decision-maker as you live for Jesus Christ:
- The letter “P” is for prayer (Philippians 4:6-7).
- The letter “A” is to ask God for wisdom within your decision-making (Matthew 7:7-8).
- The letter “C” is to consult others who can offer their own good advice or wisdom to you before you make decisions. God puts people in your life for this very purpose.
- The letter “T” is to trust in Jesus to provide you with the best advice as you make your decisions.
Making the right decisions in life will help you to remain consistently obedient to Jesus Christ, and in this process, the Spirit will help you to conform to living as Jesus desires for you to live. It helps you to go beyond what only the world, or even the flesh, offers.
Matthew 5:43-48 HCSB
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
These principles are all reinforced with Scripture, and the effort of preparation makes for better practitioners as servants of Jesus Christ. He provides us with the Holy Spirit to give us the energy and effort that we need to be successful.
Your preparation is very, very important in the process of growth and development in your relationship with Jesus Christ. In the same way that an athlete has to undergo training in order to participate at a high level in a sport, and just as we need to have a healthy diet and exercise to take care of our own bodies, we must prepare to serve Christ in order to be at our best. But there is also another important reason why we prepare to be effective practitioners of discipleship…the ongoing preparation should also provide you with a greater insight into the character of God and an even greater desire, as you learn more about Him, to serve Him in everything that you do.
Philippians 4:13 NKJV
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Serving Jesus Christ is not a hobby. It is a full-time endeavor.
Serving Jesus Christ is a fulfillment of your participation in His Great Commission.
Serving Jesus Christ is an expression of your love for Him and your desire to bring everything you learn about Him into everything that you do.
Your preparation of participation in ministry for Christ should be an ongoing process that reveals to you how you are capable of serving Him. There is much to learn about Him, and you will find that there is much to learn about yourself, too. As you get to know more about Jesus Christ, the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit molds and shapes you into a better “you” in Christ. It is as this occurs that you get to know more of who you really are in Christ. This is much better than who you are in the flesh, or who you thought you were before and ever after you accepted Christ as your personal Savior. It is the Spirit’s sanctifying power that reveals His wisdom and knowledge about yourself and who you are in Christ.
Until you learn who you are in Jesus Christ, you will always be searching for something. But once you learn who you are, you will find your purpose in Jesus Christ. You will be compelled to live openly and actively for Christ. You will find your passion in Jesus Christ.
For those listening that are still uncertain about all of this devotion over Jesus Christ, it is important for you to know and understand that Jesus Christ lived on this earth and gave His life for you. He paid the ultimate price to sacrifice Himself because He loved you. He demonstrated, through His death on the cross, that He loves you. He showed that He is passionate about you.
John 3:16-17 ESV
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
So what this is all about is how you, in learning more about Jesus Christ, recognize the passion of living for Jesus Christ that He has for you.
Galatians 2:20 ESV
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, which is your spiritual worship.
What are you passionate about? What do you really, really care about?
If you are seeking Jesus Christ, you will eventually learn what you are passionate about. You will find that there are things that you like to do, and things that you like to do more than other things, but following Christ will reveal your passion for Christ.
Your passion is rooted by your gifts. Your gifts consist of your God-given gifted talents and your spiritual gifts if you have declared Jesus as Lord and Savior. Let’s be clear about something here…you can have all kinds of God-given talent and even spiritual gifts and still not realize your passion. You have to use these talents and gifts with the understanding that God has given them to you, and that you want to serve Him with all of your heart and soul. Only then will you get this passion thing down pat.
Without this passion, you’re not really living your life in the way that God would like to see you live it. Sure, you’re doing more than existing, but not much more than that. There are people that you love and care for, help and give of yourself, and you can even go your entire life in church serving others; however, you can still be unsatisfied with the direction of your life. Ask yourself this question: How can I live the abundant life that God promises for me?
John 10:10 HCSB
A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
You can live the abundant life with passion by “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
You can live the abundant life with passion by “presenting yourself as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).
You can live the abundant life of passion by humbling yourself before God and allowing yourself to be teachable.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
If you make the effort to seek God, He will affirm your efforts. Sometimes the blessings come when you take the steps to live for Him.
Living in His IMAGE, making a PACT with Jesus, and discovering passion as you live out your life purpose. There can be nothing more fulfilling than when you learn your passion as you live for Jesus Christ.
In this new year, make it a personal commitment to discover your passion. Jesus Christ wants to see you live the abundant life!
Copyright © Melvin Gaines