Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #97

#97 "Manifestations of Christ"
May 22, 2007
"...that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
....so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body." (2 Corinthians 4: 10-11)
On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription: "James Butler Bonham—no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by the family that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom." No literal portrait of Jesus exists either. But the likeness of the Son who makes us free can be seen in the lives of His true followers. (Bill Morgan/Source unknown)
The Greek word for life used in our verse is "zoe". It's not just breathing. It is life, real and genuine. A life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in this world and after the resurrection when we have a more perfect body to last for ever. (The Unbound Bible/Strong's Lexicon) It is the living, breathing life of Jesus manifested in our living, breathing mortal bodies.
Every day we have countless opportunities to show Christ to a hurting, dying world. There's a little ditty that says, "Preach the Gospel. Sometimes use words."  The life of the Son of God, manifested in our lives speaks more for our Savior than our church attendance, bible studies and small groups. Our faith should be visible. Jesus Christ should be visible. He should be seen when people wonder why on earth we bless and do good to our enemies. He should be visible when we choose to handle adversity with perseverance and quietness, not with misery and grouchiness. When we choose to give our attention to the man in the dirty, shabby clothes instead of the one with the gold watch. When we put our arm around and choose to love the unlovely. When there's nothing in it for us. When we choose justice, mercy and walking humbly with our God. (see Micah 6:8)
I know I've used this quote before but it is so good here. Mahatma Ghandhi said, "You Christians are so unlike your Christ." When we read our Bibles are we just reveling in what Jesus did for us? Or are really studying this man Jesus? Are we truly getting how He lived? How He treated people? What He loved and what made Him cry or get angry?  Are we allowing Him to transform us into His true likeness, from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord? (see 2 Cor 3: 18 KJV) Or are we sticking with being how we think Christ was?
It's not all about us, folks! It is AWESOME that we are loved, forgiven, sanctified and justified. But there is so much more to this Christian walk. It's about taking on the character of the One who saved us, so that others might be saved. It is about our willingness to take whatever our Sovereign Lord sends our way and turn it into an opportunity to put Christ on display. Not ourselves. Not our church. Not our building. Not our good works or our Christian talk. Put Christ on display. Lift Him up. Exalt Him. With your life!!  
In Discipleship Journal, Carole Mayhall tells of a woman who went to a diet center to lose weight. The director took her to a full-length mirror. On it he outlined a figure and told her, "This is what I want you to be like at the end of the program."  Days of intense dieting and exercise followed, and every week the woman would stand in front of the mirror, discouraged because her bulging outline didn't fit the director's ideal. But she kept at it, and finally one day she conformed to the longed-for image. (August 8, 1990 Daily Bread)
God's Word and the power of His Holy Spirit ... that's God's program for Christlikeness. The more time you spend with someone, the more you become like that person, right? The more time you spend with Christ, in His Word, the more you will become like Him. Jesus Himself said, "Apart from Me, you can do nothing." You are the branch and He is the Vine. You need to be rooted and grounded in Him. No root...no fruit. If He's not your passion, you will display none of His life in your mortal body.
We all like to display photos of our spouse or our children for everyone to see those we love and are so proud of. How about if we purpose to display Christ? In our actions, in our speech, even in our thoughts. How about if we get excited with every new opportunity to show Him to those around us. In good times and especially in adversities. I can't exactly tell you how to do that. The only way that I know is to love Him with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength. The only way that I know is to love His Word more than life itself. And the only thing that will get the job done is the Holy Spirit of the Living God, changing you from glory to glory....if you want Him to. Be ready to face anything that life throws at you. Make it your goal to manifest the Son of God. Be delighted to obey Him in everything, if it will bring the Son glory. Oswald Chambers said that, "Discovering a new way of manifesting the Son of God should make our heart beat with renewed excitement."
Time is short and people are dying out there, my friends. We don't have time anymore to play with our programs and fundraisers and building projects and internal fellowship. Those things are important. But Jesus is not physically walking our planet any longer. That's why He left us here...His life living on the inside of every born again believer...to manifest His life to others who need Him so desperately.  The Message translation says that "while we're going through the worst, others are getting in on the best." The "best" is the day someone has a heart to heart encounter with Jesus Christ that changes their life forever, because they saw Jesus in you.
When the wife of missionary Adoniram Judson told him that a newspaper article likened him to some of the apostles, Judson replied, "I do not want to be like a Paul or any mere man. I want to be like Christ. I want to follow Him only, copy His teachings, drink in His Spirit, and place my feet in His footprints. Oh, to be more like Christ!" I pray for each of you, my friends, that this will be your heartfelt prayer...."Oh, to be more like Christ!" There are lives and eternities depending on you. Put Christ on display in your life...Today!
Donna Schultz                                                                             

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