Monday, April 27, 2015

Living In the Fullness of Christ


 
 
            Our first speaker at The Cove was Dr. Charles Price, senior pastor of The Peoples Church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His weekly television program, Living Truth, is broadcast across the United States, Canada, and more than 60 other countries throughout the world.
       
These are my prayerful considerations from Dr. Price’s first lecture.
            Test yourself to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail the test.” 2 Corinthians 13:5
 
            Dr. Price opened up our first session at The Cove with this scripture. Before arriving, I had prayed for a word or scripture to embolden me in my faith. Dr. Price slammed me with this verse. Test yourself. Examine yourself. The words stung and pierced. Was I a true believer? Was I a follower who was Christ centered? Did my actions represent who I am in Christ?
            Ian Thomas stated, “To so many people, the Lord is in danger of being no more than a patron saint of our systematic theology instead of the Christ Who is our life.”
            I want Jesus to be my life, my hero. I want others to see Jesus in me.
            Test yourself.
            No one can tell me if I’m a born again child of God. It’s the inner witness of the Spirit that shows me this. It’s only been in the last few years that I realized I had to die to myself to make room for Jesus. The whole concept seems insurmountable. Die to self? We aren’t programmed to do this. Our sinful nature wants to be fulfilled in ways that are not Christ-like. Our culture teaches us to live life to the fullest and please ourselves. Nothing we see suggests we should die to self.
            So how do I die to self?
            I become less so He can become more. The things of the world become less attractive to me. I begin to see truth in places where I once saw lies as acceptable. Once I began to see the startling difference, it was exhilarating and terrifying because I had to admit that the things that used to be impressive and flattering weren’t. Then I had to say “no” and disappoint people who didn’t understand that I’d changed. If I thought it was hard to change, it was harder to hear others tell me they liked me better before “the Jesus thing”.
            “Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us.” (1John 3:24)
            Jesus lives in us by the indwelling Spirit of God.
            Examine yourself to see if you are becoming more Christ-like.
            1. Are you hungry to know more about Jesus? The Holy Spirit resides in us. His work is Christ centered. When we begin to draw closer to Jesus, the Holy Spirit creates an appetite in us for Christ. The more we learn about Jesus, the more we desire to live like Him. As we grow closer to God our relationship deepens. Paul said, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death.”
            The process to grow Christ-like is an ongoing process like any other relationship that is worth having and important to us.
            2. Do you hunger to be more like Christ? Qualities of Jesus are found in Galatians 5:22. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
            As I read these attributes, I checked off quite a few. Then I got to the one on self-control. A wall rose to great heights like a perpetual stumbling block. Here comes the battle between the spirit and self. I reread the attributes again. Patience struck a sour note. I haven’t been patient lately. I profess I’m tired, but isn’t that part of the self-control? Jesus, I’m in need of an overhaul!!!
            What I realized was the fruit of the Spirit is not like picking a bouquet of flowers and inhaling their beautiful aromas. Fruit is to be eaten. I have to consume the fruit to squelch my hunger, to be more Christ-like so I can feed fruit to others.
            Being like Jesus is not a trip to the fair. It’s more like going into the projects, or sitting with the homeless, the outcasts, and the misfits. It means denying self and not saying what we’d like to say in the midst of being tired, but refraining and reflecting on the situation and circumstance before speaking. To recognize that thrusting out bitter words is caustic, but when we purpose ourselves to act in love the outcome is usually quite different. This is so hard. Can I repeat this? It’s hard to push our feelings to the back, but when we remember the Holy Spirit resides in us as our Counselor then we are more apt to pause before acting.
            3. Are you hungry to serve like Jesus? This is one I can answer with a definite “yes”. I am hungry to serve. I search for avenues to be Jesus’ hands, feet, and eyes. I’m hoping this blog will be another ministry for me. There are so many ways to serve and so many needs to fill. As you grow closer in your relationship with Jesus, He will guide you to serve in capacities and areas you could never have envisioned.
            But I want to serve knowing I am using the fruit of the Spirit spontaneously in my home and on the ministry field. If I can’t be the wife, mother, and Nana I need to be, I may not be the servant I need to be. If I’m not in God’s Word, I may not be the witness He needs me to be. Daniel said he resolved not to defile himself. Resolve is self-control. I’ve got a lot of work to do!!
            Test and examine yourself.
            Do you recognize Jesus is in you? You might not until you fail the test.
Session 2 of the session from The Cove will broaden our understanding on how we can live in the fullness of Christ.
            God bless you!
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