First Impressions

clotheyourself

“You can’t judge a book by its cover, but it does tell me whether I want to engage it or not,” my sister stated on Facebook the other day. I have no idea what she was referring to, but I have an idea it wasn’t a book. It made me chuckle. I had just had a run in with someone who claimed to be a Jesus follower but from the attitude she was wearing, I wasn’t so sure.

Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 13:14

What does it mean to be to be clothed in Christ?

This may be where people find difficulty. Do we know what Jesus looks like? We use a lot of statements about what the Bible says, but how often do we think about how Jesus interacted with the world around Him? When was the last time you investigated the Scriptures to see how Jesus did things? I must admit I spend more time in the instruction found in the letters of the New Testament texts than in the actual stories of Jesus showing us how it’s done. How about you?

To know what it means to clothe yourself with Christ, you will first need to know what He looks like. Let’s take a peek. Our very first glimpse of Jesus acting on His own sets the stage for the rest of us. Start here by reading the story in Luke 2:41-52. I’ll wait.

Seek

In this tiny bit of Scripture, we get to see a snippet of His childhood. Right from the beginning, Jesus is demonstrating to us the importance of seeking God. Here we find Him in the temple courts. Jesus went to the place where He was sure to find what He was looking for. I know, I know, you’re right when you point out that Jesus was always in God’s presence since He was God. But He was also a man, living a man’s life. If we look at His life lived here on earth, we can learn how to live ours better. In this case, He shows seeking is good but there’s more. Jesus also submitted His life to God, His Father. His first recorded words reveal His heart in this when He said, “Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business.” Luke 2:49 KJV

Learn

Along with seeking and submitting, Jesus was also listening and asking questions. In my last post How’s Your Spiritual Life Going, we investigated the importance of taking time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His teaching. Jesus goes a step farther here and shows us to ask questions as we search for wisdom. There is a young woman in my Bible study group who is always full of questions. I love this girl and her bravery to investigate what she does not know. As a new Christian, there is much for her to discover in God’s word. Let’s face it, there’s much for all of us to discover no matter how well versed we think we are. When we stop asking the questions, we will also stop growing. Questioning is a sign of the desire to move forward and grow.

Obey

Finally, Jesus shows us the importance of obedience. This story ends with Jesus living in obedience. Our obedience to the Lord is key to living a life that wins God’s approval and is attractive to those around us. Proverbs 3 puts it like this—“My son, do not forget my teaching but keep my commands in your heart for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you. Bind them around your neck, write them on the table of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:1-4 NIV

Do you see something familiar here?

The passage in Luke ends with these very words. “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52 NIV It all came from seeking God out, learning all He could from Him, and living according to His ways.

In a sense, this story begins with the submission of the heart and ends with the practicing of submission in life. If we follow Jesus’s lead, our outside will tell the world exactly what’s on inside. To look like Jesus, we can’t just believe in Him. We must do what He did. The result will be a beauty the world will want to engage.

Those who say they live their lives in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
1 John 2:6 NLT


What is your favorite story about Jesus? What do you learn from His example that can become a part of how you live?

 

 

When God Became Real

girlonadventure.com 

Now, the Word became flesh and took up residence among us.

John 1:14a

When I was a young woman, I walked away from the church. Maybe it was just the religious part of church I left behind. I just didn’t fit in. Where there should have been acceptance, I received rejection. Where I should have found encouragement, I found a bar set so high it was not only above my reach, it was far out of my sight. It was such a pity because I believed in God, yet I was left thinking Him too far away.

As you can imagine, life beyond the influence of regular input from God’s Word was precarious at best. I dabbled in risky behaviors of drugs, alcohol and sex. With the world as my guide, these things were not taboo. They were accepted—embraced even. Each step I took in the world’s direction distanced me a little farther from God. At least that’s what I thought.

A day did come when I wanted God back in my life. There seemed to be a very quiet whispering in my soul that I hadn’t heard in a while. In hindsight, I know it was actually His voice I was hearing. I had just forgotten what He sounded like.

During that time, I found myself at a women’s retreat. I don’t remember many of the speaker’s words, but something she said ignited a desire within me to know the God who became man and dwelt among us. She was of Jewish heritage, so she knew what it was like to believe in God without actually knowing Him. It was the knowing part I was intrigued with. At some point she shared that meeting Him would involve a simple turning in His direction.

I remember the moment that I changed course so clearly. It was as if I was coming out of a cloud. As I turned, Jesus came into my full view. His presence took on form in my mind’s eye. I can’t really explain it all without sounding too far-fetched, but I could picture Him. I have to admit, He looked a lot like the Sunday school room picture I saw when I was a kid—beard, robes, sash and all. Regardless of the image I saw, it was the look of acceptance on His face that touched my heart the most. There I stood, covered with the marks of worldliness in His full view, and all I could see was love in his eyes. That’s it. He loved me just as I was at the moment.

What happened next was extraordinary. It was as though He reached up and grabbed that bar that had been placed so high above my ability to achieve. He brought it down to a manageable level, took my hand and guided me across it. All I had to do was turn my eyes toward Him.

Religion gave way to relationship. Jesus moved into my life in a very tangible way bringing with Him a standard of living that elevated me. Acceptance and guidance brought a confidence that I had not experienced before. I cannot stress enough how my life is different. If you have never considered welcoming Jesus into your life perhaps you should give it some thought. There is nothing that isn’t made better by His presence.

We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth,

who came from the Father.

John 1:14b

 

Living Water

Life is wonderful, crazy and messy all at once. To portray it as anything else is just fooling ourselves and everyone around us.  Hope can be found somewhere at the center of everything we live through each day. That is, if Jesus happens to be found there as well.

Take my life, for instance. No, I am not going to venture into the More Than You Ever Wanted to Know realm but I am going to tell you good choices were not my strong suit.  I was one of the “girls just wanna have fun”.  I made many decisions that were not only unhealthy but down right dangerous.

So, how did this girl who was self-centered, undisciplined and reckless to faithfully following Jesus in the midst of all the insanity of this world?  The short version–I took a large drink of the Word.

I went for years experiencing the Bible only on the outside,  A little splash now and then was all I was getting. Not even quite enough to get wet and none ever made it to the inside,  Soon after I left church each Sunday, I would be dry again.  No problem except I didn’t know how dehydrated I was.

In John 4, there is a story of Jesus meeting a woman who, like me, was thirsty. She had come to the well in her town to quench her thirst only to find the water she was drinking was not going to provide any lasting goodness in her life.  She would soon find herself just as parched as before.  In verses 13 and 14  Jesus gives her some advice–

 Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again.
But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again — ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.

This beautiful idea of a “well of water springing up within us for eternal life” is something to gulp down.  Drinking from the water Jesus gives creates a life that is real and genuine.  One that is active and strong.  It’s influence cannot be contained as it flows out to others.  Add the lasting forever part and that’s a pretty sweet deal.  All from taking in what Jesus has to offer.

So, what happened to this woman in the story who dared take a drink? In addition to her own life being changed, many people in her village came to know Jesus and eternal life as she shared her story with them.  Your story will have the same result.  I can say that from experience. Just take a good long drink of Living Water.  Can I get you a cup?

… And the one who is thirsty should come.

Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift.

Revelation 22:17


  • During the time the New Testament was being written if a town was without a synagogue, people gathered near the river to worship. Rivers were seen as living water and were often used as places of prayer. Their constant movement symbolized purity and constant renewal. This place on the Zygaktes River in Greece is where the first European church was born. Living Water at work.

Zygaktes River near Philippi.  Taken by Paul Schell

Zygaktes River near Philippi. Taken by Paul Schell

“On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we thought there was a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there.
A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was spoken by Paul.  After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.”   Acts 16:13-15