★ Thought for the Day – Who Are You Imitating? ★

You have heard the expression before that,

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”  Charles Caleb Colton 

I have tried telling my daughter that when her sister is echoing everything that she does but to no avail…hahaha!  But whether we realize it or not, we are imitating someone…it could be the latest pop sensation, or a Hollywood movie star, or the newest offering from the fashion runway…We are continually influenced by the culture around us. The question of the day is…Who is that?  And to further the thought…Is it good for us?  1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV1984) says,

“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.””

This is a principle that I have tried to pour into my daughters’ spirit throughout their lives.  That they need to decide now whether they will be a leader or a follower?  I love this quote from Tom Lane,

77 - Daily Dependence - Leader or Follower
“You’re either an influencer or you’re being influenced.”

The people you surround yourself with WILL, NOT MAYBE, influence you to go down one of two paths, the one that leads to destruction or the one that leads to life.  77 - The Path to Life or DestructionToo dramatic?  Maybe, but also true nonetheless.  Experience has taught me that if you don’t set standards up beforehand of the people you will associate with, when the time of decision comes whether to take that first sip of alcohol as a teenager or that first experimentation with illegal drugs, you will be in no position to make the right choice. It is hard enough to resist temptation but when you surround yourself with the wrong people, compromise will always follow.  Perry Noble made this great statement,

“The first step away from God is always a small one.”

I can vouch that this is the truth!  I learned this lesson the hard way as I failed in both areas and was trapped in a downward spiral of self-destructive behavior involving alcohol and drugs.  Jesus referred to the two possible paths or gates in Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)…

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

I barreled through that wide gate and spent so much time on the wide path to destruction, but let my hindsight be your foresight…Who you hang out with is critical!!  Ephesians 5:1-2 (HCSB) gives us the direction to follow,

“Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah [Jesus Christ] also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.”
“Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah [Jesus Christ] also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.”

“Be imitators of God.”  Not really a bumper sticker you see is it?  But imitating God, being more like Jesus Christ, and less like the world around us will keep us of the path that will lead to life.  I love this image of a son imitating his father moving the lawn. The same is true with Jesus.  When He was here on earth, Jesus continually said that He does only what He has has seen His Father doing.  One reference (out of many), is found in John 5:19 (NLT)…

“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself. He does only what He sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”

Jesus Himself imitated God the Father and so should we.  Let’s look back at the last portion of verse 2 of Ephesians 5…Jesus “gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.”  Could there be something in sacrifice that could unlock the key to happiness?

One of the most famous Kings of all time was Solomon. Son of King David, Solomon is known for being the wisest man who has ever lived…but do you know how that came to be?  It wasn’t from any human effort of exhaustive learning, but from an act of humility and reverence to God.  At the beginning of his reign as King of Isreal, Solomon had presented an extravagant offering to God.  1 Kings 3:5 (NLT) says,

“That night the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want?  Ask, and I will give it to you!””

Stop…What would your answer be?  Money, power, fame, you fill in the blank ______.  My guess it would be something that would bring happiness to your life right?  I am no different, I highly doubt it would not have been so selfless as Solomon’s…1 Kings 3:7-9 (NLT) records his answer,

“Now, O LORD my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around.  And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted!  Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong.  For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” 

Wow!!  That is amazing!  What an example for us today!  How many of us would like to be presented with a “blank check” like that from God?!  How many of us would answer like Solomon with such humility and self-awareness of his shortcomings?   Look at the result in 1 Kings 3:10-14 (NLT).

“The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.” 

If we get our priorities right, God’s favor and blessing will follow!  And once that happens who knows where God will take you?  You and I know about the wisdom of Solomon as a result of his humility and obedience, or you could say his imitation of God.  Now as you read 1 Kings, Solomon made his fair share of mistakes but by all accounts Solomon was a world changer!  Lysa TerKeurst said in her book, ‪”The Best Yes”…

77 - Daily Dependence - Lysa TerKeurs - Humility“Humility opens the door of opportunity. In hard conversations, if I truly want to be heard I must humbly approach the conversation.” 

Like Solomon, to be a world changer, humility is key!  Even though he was king, Solomon realized his need for wisdom to govern the people and look at the opportunities that followed!  If we want to be on the path of life, to be a positive influence to the people around us, our friends, our spouse and/or children…to be a world changer, then we must make sure that we are imitating the “One” who created everything and approach people in humility!  When you do, your happiness will not come through imitating culture, but through service to the One person that really matters, Jesus Christ!

I will close with this last thought from Marty Collier,

"The path to happiness is holiness." 
“The pathway to happiness is holiness.”

When you imitate God, you will be on the path of life which will lead to holiness and will bring you far more happiness than anything else in the world!

If you would like to read more on this topic, here is something I posted that you may like, called:

 

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★

In our second installment of the “Back to the Basics” series we are going to answer the question…

If you missed our first post in this series, you can got back and read it here ★ “Back to the Basics” – Religion vs. Relationship – Part 2 ★.  This juxtaposition between “practicing a Religion” or “having a Relationship with God” is the starting point of everything!  I believe that for you to move forward in your faith you have to get this straight in your mind, it is the core of what God desires for all of us.

So let me ask you this question…Do you consider yourself a Glass “Half Empty” or “Half Full” Type of Person?  Or another way to look at it is…76 - Daily Dependence - How do you view life

It really makes a difference, because your response to this question can really influence your answer to the one posed in this Thought for the Day.  If you tend to view life through a “half empty,” or pessimistic lens, than you many think that people can never change so how could 1 conversation make that big of a difference.  But if on the other hand, you have a “half full” or optimistic viewpoint, than you may approach this with a more open mind…which I pray you will!

Contrary to how these Thoughts for the Day are usually developed, I will ask you a series of additional questions to get to our answer.  The conversation we will be looking at is recorded in Chapter 3 of the Book of John between Jesus and a religious leader of that time named Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin.  At the risk of going down a rabbit trail…I want to give a little background.  As a Pharisee, Nicodemus was part of a group of Jews who thought that they kept all God’s rules perfectly and were above reproach.  What made this conversation unusual was that the Pharisees were stanch opponents to the teachings of Jesus and were so self-righteous that they believed they were incapable of being wrong.  Interestingly if you look up the word Pharisee in the dictionary, you will see one definition as being “a hypocrite,” which Jesus continually called them.Okay, let’s get back on track…The text that we will start at is from John 3:2-7 (NLT),

After dark one evening, he [Nicodemus] came to speak with Jesus. 
 
“Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
 

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.  Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.  So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’”

STOP…now let’s start with the questions….
When you hear that phrase “born again,” what comes to mind?  It can be confusing if you have never heard accurate teaching on what it means.  Here is a link newspring.cc/watch/stepup/born-again to one of the best on messages I have ever heard on what it means to be “Born Again” from Clayton King (NewSpring Church) if you want to learn more on this.

Some people have the impression that being “born again” is some sort of brainwashing or that people who call themselves “born again Christians” are crazy because they have seen some eccentric preacher on TV in the middle of the night or knew some person who spoke about it in “Christianese” terms that unless you knew the context you will never understand the meaning and it just sounds like nonsense.  Well lets look back in our text because Nicodemus had questions too…

In John 3:8-12 (NLT) Jesus finishes His thought with…

76 - Daily Dependence - John 3-3 - Born Again“The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.

Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?  I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony.  But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”

I love what Jesus said in verse 8…“The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”   You can’t see the wind and yet you know it exists because you feel its effect, it is the same way with the move of the Holy Spirit.  You see, when you ask Jesus to be your Lord and savior then the Holy Spirit comes into your life that will transform you into a new person and making you “born again.”  You may have heard it as “being saved” or “salvation” or “as You are a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.  Max Lucado nailed it when he said, “Christianity, in its purest form, is nothing more than seeing Jesus.”  So…
76 - Daily Dependence - How much evidence do you need to believe in Jesus
76 - Daily Dependence - Answer

“No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven.  And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.”  John 3:13-15 (NLT) 

In the brief time Jesus was on earth He did incredible miracles from healing the sick, making the blind see, the lame walk and even raising a man from the dead!  The author of the text we are looking at was one of Jesus’ closest disciples and was there to record this conversation which does not show up anywhere else in the Bible.  He also state stated in the very last verse of this book that…

“Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.”  John 21:25 (NLT)

So that leads us to our next question…

76 - Daily Dependence - Do you know why Jesus came to earth76 - Daily Dependence - Answer

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”  John 3:16-17 (NLT)

I am sure that you have seen “John 3:16” written somewhere whether held by a fan in the stands, or on a t-shirt, or spray painted along the road.  It is a foundation verse and probably the most quoted verse about how much God loves us and why Jesus came to earth.  God sent His son to die so that we could have eternal life with Him!  You can read more on this in previous blog called ★ Thought for the Day – Sweetly Broken ★.

76 - Daily Dependence - What happens if you don't believe76 - Daily Dependence - Answer

“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.  And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.  But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”  John 3:18-21 (NLT)

This reminds me of one of my favorites quotes from John Wooden which I have shared before but it fits so perfectly…

“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do.  So keep in the mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”

So the choice is yours, but know what you decide about Jesus will have eternal consequences!

76 - Daily Dependence - Answer

Myrrh…You may remember hearing about the Three Wisemen from the east who followed a star to Bethlehem to bring gifts to Jesus.  Part 1 of the answer is found in Matthew 2:11 (NLT):

“They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

Part 2 of the answer is found in John 19:38-40 (NLT)…

“Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body.  When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away.  With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night.  He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes.  Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth.

You are probably wondering why this question is in here…Besides being a fun bible trivia question, the answer is found in Verse 39…Look who is mentioned there…Nicodemus!!  Even though he was a Pharisee and had a lot to lose by assisting Joseph of Arimathea in preparing Jesus’ body for burial, it is clear that he made the decision to follow Jesus and accept the salvation that is available to everyone!!! So can 1 Conversation Change a Life?  I think it is clear!!  Yes, if you will open your mind and heart to Jesus!!

I will close with this quote from Clayton King’s message on be “Born Again,” (that I posted the link to above.)

“Salvation cannot be achieved.  It can only be received and it’s received when you believe.  You can’t achieve your salvation, you can’t earn it.  You can’t work for God’s love, it’s already there, it was they before you were born.

Jesus is willing to save you, but He’s also able to save you.  It’s one thing to be willing, it’s another thing to be able.  He’s the only one who is able to save you…”

 

If you would like to like to pray to accept Jesus, go to this blog post…

★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ 

It has a simple prayer that you can lead you in making the best decision of your life!!  Please message me if you would like to learn more!  I pray that you will make the decision to trust Jesus, I promise you will never be disappointed!!

If you are interested there is a follow-up to this post called:

★ “Back to the Basics” – Follow-Up to Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★