Changed into His Image

 

CHANGED INTO HIS IMAGE

 

WHO IS SAVED?

  

John 1:12-13   But as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons (children) of God, even to them that believe on his name:  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 

   Who is saved?  To answer that question we must know what one must do to become ‘saved’, or to become a child of God.  Simply being born of blood (natural birth) does not make anyone a child of God.  There is a difference in being a part of God’s creation and being one of His children.  God created the devil, but the devil is not one of His children.  We are not all God’s children (Hebrew 12:6-8 & John 8:41-44) 

   Neither does the will of the flesh make anyone a child of God.  We do not become a child of God just because we ‘will’ to make a profession of faith in Christ, or we ‘will’ to come into faith in Christ (whatever that means to the individual), or we ‘will’ to confess Christ as our savior (their idea of a savior), or we ‘will’ to walk a church isle, or we ‘will’ to join a church, or we ‘will’ to change and be a better person. 

   Does ‘receiving’ Christ make you a child of God?  That all depends upon what you mean by receiving and what christ you are receiving.   Most have produced a christ of their own making and design, one they feel comfortable with.  A savior that is not intrusive into their lives, that makes no demands, that requires no obedience, but that provides insurance against fire (hell fire), and one that gives them what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.  

   Most have simply added Jesus to what they already have and are.  When I was a child it was popular for Catholics to have a small statue of Mary on the dash of their car, and so there was a saying “we don’t worry about cashes, we’ve got Mary on our dashes”.  Just hanging a cross on a chain around your neck does not make you a child of God, nor does a bumper sticker. 

   Most have designed their own rules for receiving Christ, just as they have designed their own idea of Christ, who He is to them, and what He requires of them and must give to them.   Let me say,  any ideas of Christ and of receiving Christ must be scripturally based, or they are of no effect.  It is the Christ of all the scriptures that we must receive, not our own personal idea of Christ, and we must receive Christ according to the requirements of all the scriptures (not just the scriptures that we are comfortable with). 

   How do we receive Christ on scriptural grounds?  First we must humble ourselves and receive Him as a little child – with childlike faith that translates into submission (Matthew 18:2-4).  We are not born again of our own will, but rather as we submit to the will of God in all things at all times. 

Romans 10:1-2  Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.  For I bear them record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 

   Many have a zeal for God, but their zeal for salvation is without knowledge.  How can anyone receive a Christ that they know nothing about?  How can anyone receive if they have no scriptural knowledge of how to receive?  And how can we have knowledge unless we get into the word of God? 

3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. 

   To receive Christ means to submit to Christ in all areas of our life, holding back and reserving nothing for ourselves.  To receive Christ means to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Christ (Luke 9:23).  

THE KEY IS TO HUMBLE OURSELVES 

James 4:6  But he gives more grace. Wherefore he said, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble 

   It is by grace that we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and therefore if we want His grace, we must humble ourselves and submit to Him daily.   This grace is not an unmerited favor, rather it is the power of God that one earns by submission to Him. 

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

   All are submitting to someone or something.  If the devil is not fleeing from you, then either you are not resisting him or you are not in submission to God. 

8  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded. 

   I hear so many whining about not feeling the presence of God, but yet they have no time to draw near to God.  God only responds when we draw near to Him. 

9  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 

   Do you attend a mourning and weeping church, or do you attend a feel-good happy church?  Jesus didn’t laugh in the Garden of Gethsemane, rather He was sorrowful, in great heaviness, and in agony as He prayed Not my will, but your will be done”. 

10  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (save you). 

   Do you want to become a child of God, to be ‘saved’?  Then humble yourself in the sight of the Lord by submitting to Him in all things at all times.

PEACE

  

   There is much talk about peace, but yet we find no lasting peace in this world.  Jesus and His disciples were sailing across the sea when “there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full”.   They had peace, but seemly out of nowhere came a storm that greatly shook their peace. 

   Now Jesus was asleep in the back of the ship, and the disciples came and awoke Him and said to Him, “Master, don’t you care that we perish?”   Their hearts were full of fear as they observed the circumstances that threatened their very lives.  

   Is there a great storm raging around you now?  Are you about to drown as problems fill your ‘ship’?   Have devastating waves come against you, and now your peace is greatly disturbed?  Do what the disciples did, and go to Jesus right now with your problems – wait no longer – go to Him now! 

Mark 4:39  And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 

   Just as there was a great storm, so the Lord brought a great clam.   I tell you we must arise, and in the name of Jesus speak to our storms and command a great peace to come right now. 

Philippians 4:7  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

   It is our natural understanding that causes unrest in our heart and mind.  Jesus said, “My peace I give to you, not as the world gives, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”, John 14:27.   But nothing is granted to us by our Heavenly Father unless we ask for it (James 4:2) and speak to it in the name of Jesus (Luke 17:6).   So we must ask for His peace, and speak to the storm in the name of Jesus! 

   When the disciples asked for peace in their storm, they did it in great fear and unbelief, and Jesus answered them, Why are you so fearfulHow is it that you have no faith?”  This is the root cause of our unrest and absence of peace – unbelief and fear! 

   However, we cannot appropriate peace for today that will last this entire coming year, for the peace of God is granted on the ‘daily bread’ principle.  The manna did not fall from heaven into their basket while they were sitting in their tents, but rather the children of Israel had to go out and gather up manna in the wilderness on a daily basis. 

   Peace is not automatic.  There are storms that daily come against our peace, and therefore we must gather up His peace every day.  Peace is like manna, it is used up on a daily basis, and therefore it must be replaced on a daily basis. 

Colossians 3:15   And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be you thankful.

BEING A VESSEL CHRIST CAN DWELL IN

 

   There is no possible greater blessing that can be afforded to us, or be accomplishment in us, than to have Christ dwelling and abiding within us. If we were to gain the whole world, it would not profit us as much as having Christ dwelling within us. Does it really matter if Christ dwells within us?

   Romans 8:9 Now if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

   Perhaps someone has told you that the only thing necessary to have Christ dwelling within you is to believe. There are so very many that go through their life having faith that Jesus is dwelling within them, but in reality He is not, and their life proves it. They claim to have Christ dwelling within them because they have faith that He is, but really they are having faith in their faith – they are resting solely on having faith. Faith is necessary, but there must be a reality. There must be something by which we can measure and judge the product or result of our faith. Anyone can claim to have faith, or believe that they have faith, but where is the reality or the proof of their faith?

   James 2:20 But are you willing to recognize, O vain man, that faith without works is dead (useless)?

   James goes on to say (under the influence of the Holy Spirit) that we must show or prove our faith by our works. What works are necessary to prove that Christ is dwelling within us?

   John 14:21& 23 He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

   1 John 3:24 And he that keeps His commandments dwells in Him, and He in them. And hereby we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us.

   If Christ is truly dwelling within us, then we will demonstrate that fact by keeping His commandments. “And his commandments are not grievous”, 1 John 5:3, at least not to those that love Him. Who alone does Christ dwell within? Only in those that love Him, and prove that they love Him by joyfully keeping His commandments.

   For Christ to dwell within us means that the Holy Spirit is revealing Christ within us (2 Corinthians 3:18). A great purpose and value of Christ dwelling within us is that we all “may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me”, John 17:23. We cannot hide behind some sort of pseudo faith, but in all things we must prove that He lives within us.

   I have written a 100 page book, ‘CHRIST INWARDLY’, explaining this Treasure we have within our earthen vessels.

 

 

COME A RUNNING

 

   I have ten grandchildren. Some of them will dilly dally when you call them, or ignore you, or even go the opposite direction. I grew up in Dallas Texas on a street lined with two-bedroom frame houses built at the end of World War II. One day my dad called me to come home, but I was just having too good a time playing with friends down the street, and so I ignored his calling. Well, I wished I hadn’t done that because it didn’t turn out well for me. Suddenly my dad appeared with his belt in his hand, and he popped my bottom all the way down the sidewalk to our home for the whole world to see (that was before there was Child Protective Services).

   Do we come a running when the Lord calls us to Himself? Jonah ran, but he ran the other direction. My chickens and cows come a running when I call them, but many of God’s people don’t come a running when He calls. And I’m not talking about running to do work for Him, but to just be with Him. They don’t come because they’re feeding on other things, and they’re full of other things, they’re just not hungry for the Lord’s presence. When the Lord calls, do we answer? Do we say, “Yes Lord, speak for your servant hears“. Or is the Lord wasting His time when He calls us to be with Him? No matter how many hours and years one spends in a classroom, or being mentored by an expert, before we attempt to go forth to minister, we must first and continually be with the Lord, for out of that being with Him comes ministry that is of Him.

   Mark 3:14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

   There are many times when we desperately need to seek the Lord’s face, and thankfully He is not far from any of us! But there are also many times when the Lord seeks our face for intimate fellowship, to comfort us, to impart revelation to us, to give us instruction, to warn us, etc. How do we react to His calling us? Do we turn a deaf ear to Him? Are we too busy? Are we preoccupied? Martha had an opportunity to be with Jesus, but:

   Luke 10:38-42 Now it came to pass, as they went, that Jesus entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about (over-occupied, too busy) with much serving, and she came to him, and said, Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she helps me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

   When we were building our new church I made a commitment not to get too busy to draw near to the Lord. One day while I was working on the building I felt the Holy Spirit drawing me to the secret place (which was my office in the old church next door) to be with the Lord, but I was wanting to get the immediate thing I was working on done first.

   I said to the Holy Spirit, “in just a minute or two I will come”. About 15 minutes later I realized that the Holy Spirit had stopped drawing me, and I realized I had done wrong. I laid down my tools and hurried to the secret place to be with the Lord. Well, the Lord didn’t get a belt out and pop my bottom all the way to my old office, but something worse happened, He had left! I had missed the appointment! I learned a valuable lesson that day – we must not put the Lord off – He will not be second to anything – we must come a running when He calls us!

 

 

SET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER

 

 

   2 Kings 20:1-3 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus says the LORD, Set your house in order; for you shall die, and not live. Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying, I beseech you, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before you in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in your sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.

   What do you do when you hear bad news? How do you react? Hezekiah makes an altar on his death bed; he goes into his closet and shuts the door behind him by doing the only thing he can do on that bed. Hezekiah turns his face to the wall, and by doing so he turns from all other forms of help, from everyone and everything he turns to the Lord.

   Can we claim what Hezekiah claimed, are we living a life of truth, have we walked before God with a perfect heart, and have we done what is good in God’s sight? Hezekiah was a wise man; he has stored up collateral so that when he goes to God in prayer he has something to remind God. Have we lived a life that we would want to remind God of, or have we lived a life that we hope God will forget?

   2 Kings 20:4-5 And it came to pass, before Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father, I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears: behold, I will heal you: on the third day you shall go up unto the house of the LORD.

   This disappointing and dire word was sent by the mouth of the same prophet that God used to send an encouraging word to Hezekiah. Those that prophesy must be prepared to have your words reversed when those you prophesy to respond in a manner pleasing to God.

   Has our life been such that God will hear our prayers and see our tears? If we have been living in disobedience and sin, then God has a different word for us than the word He sent to Hezekiah by the mouth of His prophet: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear, Isaiah 59:2.

   2 Kings 20:6 And I will add unto your days fifteen years; and I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.

   Not only is Hezekiah successful in changing the mind of the Lord concerning living or dying, but God goes above and beyond what Hezekiah asked for so humbly with tears. God also gives assurance of His intervention for the deliverance of Jerusalem.

   Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

   I want to return now to the first verse of our scripture text:

   2 Kings 20:1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus says the LORD, Set your house in order; for you shall die, and not live.

   Hezekiah was 39 years old and in the prime of his life when he became sick unto death. At this time Hezekiah had no heir to replace him upon the throne of David in Jerusalem. Hezekiah was a righteous king, who lived to please the Lord, so why did God allow him to be struck with a sickness unto death?

   Hezekiah’s sickness, and Isaiah’s prophetic declaration, had a specific purpose for the life of Hezekiah and the kingdom of Israel. God’s intention was not for Hezekiah to die, but for Hezekiah to humble himself and turn more fully to God. Hezekiah’s sickness was not unto death, but for the glory of God to be manifested. We see how that God’s glory was so manifested by Hezekiah’s healing that the king of Babylon heard about it, and so he sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah.

   John 11:4 When Jesus heard (that Lazarus was sick), he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

   John 9:1-3 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

   Notice that Hezekiah did not focus on dying, but on living, and thus he focused on what he could do to live and not to die – which was to cry out to God in faith for his healing and recovery. This is an example which shows that prophetic declarations are often not always an absolute prediction of what is certain to happen, but they are warnings designed by God to allow us to make adjustments in our life style. The adjustment that God wanted Hezekiah to make was to set his house in order.

 

WE MUST ALSO SET OUR HOUSE IN ORDER AND KEEP IT IN ORDER

   It was Hezekiah’s spiritual house that God wanted him to set in order, not his physical affairs. Hezekiah did set his spiritual house in order – long enough to be healed, but he did not go forward and maintain his spiritual house in order. In a short time Hezekiah allowed his heart to be lifted up in pride, and for that sin he came into judgment. It will do little good for us at some point in time to set our spiritual house in order if we do not keep our spiritual house in order.

   We are warned in the scriptures that we must take heed to ourselves, and that only those that endure to the end shall be saved. What it took for us to get saved, it will take for us to stay saved – and what it took to set our spiritual house in order it will take to keep our spiritual house in order. The devil is not so much concerned about a sinner getting right with God as he is about those persons staying right with God.

 

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SETTING OUR HOUSE IN ORDER?

   Some just want to wait for the Lord to set their house in order, and He does work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. But there are things that we must do ourselves – we have to hear the gospel, we have to believe the gospel, we have to repent of our sins, we have to tarry for the Holy Spirit to fill us with His power, we have to walk in the Spirit, we have to study to show ourselves approved unto God, we have to pray without ceasing, we have to cast all our care upon Him because He cares for us, we have to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, we have to speak the truth in love, we have to resist the devil, we have to flee sinful lusts, we have to watch and be ready because Jesus is coming in an hour that we think not.

   1 Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

   Paul did not expect the Lord to keep his body under, but rather he kept it under. Paul did not expect the Lord to bring his body into subjection to the Holy Spirit and the word of God, but rather he brought his body into subjection. Paul was not waiting for the Lord to set his spiritual house in order, but he with God’s help set out on a journey to keep his body under and in subjection to God. Paul had a motive for keeping his body under and in subjection – so that he would not become a castaway after preaching to others, and fail to inherit the kingdom of God.

   Jesus didn’t say He would make us do what is right and make us keep His commandments, but we must do it ourselves. If it was all up to God to do this for us, then we could not be held accountable for our house being out of order. God never commands us to do anything that we cannot do. There are things that we can and that we must do to set our spiritual house in order. There are decisions that we must make and steps that we must take and that we must maintain if we want our spiritual house to be in order when the Lord comes.

 

HOW TO SET OUR HOUSE IN ORDER

   The first decision, the first action, the first step is to confess and repent of those things that are out of order in our spiritual house, or in our life and all that we are responsible for. Not the things that we think are out of order – such as we just don’t seem to be fulfilling our God given destiny, or we still seem to be the tail and not the head, or we aren’t getting the breakthrough we need to succeed in certain areas of our life, or we haven’t reached our next level of attainment, or we are not ruling and reigning yet, or the seed money we have sown (wasted) in some TV preacher’s empire hasn’t produced the promised harvest.

   Only the Holy Spirit can show us the condition of our spiritual house. Several years ago the Holy Spirit told me that my life was out of order, that my home was out of order, and that this church was out of order. One sure way that the Holy Spirit alerts us that our spiritual house is out of order is by showing and comparing our image to the image of Christ:

   2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

   The second decision, the second action, the second step is to seek the Lord’s help in getting our spiritual house, or our life, lined up with His divine order.

   Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

   Jesus’ spiritual house was in perfect order, and only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we be a witness, or the same image, of His spiritual house which is in perfect order before God.

 

A LIFE IN PERFECT ORDER MUST BE WORKED OUT

   Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

   Our spiritual house, which is our salvation, must be worked out. This working out is not a haphazard, hit and miss, nonchalant, unattended and unintentional working out. The salvation of the soul will not take care of itself without an effort on our part. There is no more reason to suppose this will happen than to suppose that our health and life will take care of themselves without our own exertion.

   And yet many live as if they supposed that somehow by chance all will somehow be well; that the matter of salvation need not give them any concern, because things will so arrange themselves that in the end they will be saved. Why should they suppose this in regard to their salvation any more than in regard to anything else? Do we suppose that we can just plant a garden but not work it, and yet it will of its own self succeed? We cannot just produce children and expect them to raise their selves. We will get what we inspect, not what we expect. When something is left undone in setting our spiritual house in order, then our conscience tells us so.

   Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.

   We cannot just leave our salvation to chance, we must be diligent, we must have a plan, and we must work out that plan with fear and trembling. We must have a plan of resisting and fleeing (an escape route) when temptations come in the areas of our known weaknesses.

   Hebrews 12:1 let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

   We will never be successful in laying aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us unless we have a plan to do so. We must have a plan to break off from our sins by true repentance. We must have a plan to give up all that we have and all that we are to God. We must have a plan to break away from all evil companions and evil plans and activities of life. We must have a plan to resist the allurements of this world, and the temptations which assault us and that would lead us away from God.

   We must have a determination and a plan to persevere and endure unto the end. We must have a plan for a time for prayer and study of the word of God. We must have a plan to be faithful and on time to the assembling of ourselves together. We must have a plan to bring our tithes and offerings to the house of God, or our spiritual house can never be in order (a person that is cursed with a curse does not have their spiritual house in order).

   John 6:27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life,

   2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;

   Yes, there is labor involved, there is a working out to do in setting our spiritual house in order and keeping it in order. Nothing is more valuable than our soul, and we are in danger of losing it if we don’t set our spiritual house in order and keep it in order. If our soul is lost, then all is lost, and who can estimate the value of a soul which is in danger of being lost forever? One of the greatest difficulties in working out our salvation, and in setting our spiritual house in order is to cease procrastinating and to begin at once to do what is right.

 

 

FULFILLING OUR DESTINY

 

   Destiny is one of the poignant words that TV preachers use so often, and just its mention is sure to bring the crowd to their feet in joyful expectation. Some even use this word in the title of their books and TV shows. People really get excited when a preacher or a teacher starts talking about fulfilling our God given destiny.

   I realized a long time ago that when someone preaches or teaches, those listening are interpreting that message or teaching in their own restricted context to fit their own personal agenda – unless they have ‘ears to hear’ and the Holy Spirit would open their ‘eyes of understanding’. The same is true when an individual reads the Bible – every reader has their own idea about its meaning and how to apply it, unless they have those ‘ears to hear’ and the Holy Spirit would open their ‘eyes of understan