VIDEO Conformed Through Worship

And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
1 Corinthians 15:49

Neuroscientists say that the brain reacts to focused thoughts in almost the same way it reacts to physical actions. That is, repeatedly imagining a perfect tennis serve or golf swing results in the same progress toward perfection as actually practicing the action itself.

The Christian’s goal of perfection is becoming conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. That’s not something we accomplish in our own strength—it is something that the Holy Spirit works in us. Yet the more we focus on Christ, the more we can cooperate with the Spirit in us, moving us to the goal of conformity to Christ. And what is the best way to focus on the Person of Christ? Worship. After all, worship is directing our love, attention, and praise to Him who is Lord of all. The more we focus on Christ in worship, the more we become like Him—conformed to His image.

Worship is not just a religious exercise; it is a spiritually transforming process of focusing on the One to whom we desire to be like—to be conformed to His image.

The more the soul is conformable to Christ, the more confident it will be of its interest in Christ. Thomas Brooks


We Will Receive a New Body in Heaven! | David Jeremiah | 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

Out of the Heart

Out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. Matthew 15:19

A rescue mission nicknamed “Operation Noah’s Ark” might sound fun for animal lovers, but it was a nightmare for the Nassau Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. After receiving complaints about the noise and the horrid stench coming from a certain house, workers entered the Long Island home and found (and later removed) more than four hundred animals from their neglected conditions.

We may not be holding hundreds of animals in filthy conditions, but Jesus said we might be harboring evil and sinful thoughts and actions in our hearts that need to be exposed and removed. 

In teaching His disciples about what makes a person clean and unclean, Jesus said it isn’t dirty hands or “whatever enters the mouth” that defiles a person, but an evil heart (Matthew 15:17–19). The stench from our hearts will eventually leak out from our lives. Then Jesus gave examples of evil thoughts and actions that come “out of the heart” (v. 19). No amount of external religious activities and rituals can make them clean. We need God to transform our hearts.

We can practice Jesus’ inside-out ethic by giving Him access to the squalor of our hearts and letting Him remove what’s causing the stench. As Christ uncovers what’s coming from our hearts, He’ll help our words and actions be aligned with His desires, and the aroma from our lives will please Him.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

Why is it important to take frequent inventory of your heart? How can you seek God’s help?

Loving God, my heart is desperately wicked. Only You can fully know it and remove the evil that’s in it.

For further study, read The Forgiveness of God.

The Abiding Life

Our service for the Lord becomes joy-filled and effective when we depend on Him to guide our steps

John 15:1-5

Yesterday I shared with you about a time when the Lord reminded me that I am not the vine—He is. For years I had tried to accomplish by myself what Jesus wanted to achieve through me. My desire was to impress God and earn His approval. His goal, on the other hand, was for me simply to abide

The Holy Spirit’s job is to live the life of Christ through us. This is known by a variety of names, including the exchanged life, the Spirit-filled life, and the abiding life. All of these describe the joyful existence Paul spoke of in Galatians 2:20: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.” 

Seen from the outside, a branch does not appear to be doing anything. But that doesn’t mean that the abiding life is passive. Jesus was the perfect example of a Spirit-filled life, and He certainly didn’t sit around! He worked hard out of a reservoir of divine energy (John 8:28). All of Christ’s wisdom, knowledge, and courage was drawn from God through the Holy Spirit. 

Christians bear fruit through surrender. We “take root” in the Lord by meditating on His Word, praying, and serving. We reserve nothing for ourselves to control but fully rely upon Him. That’s not passive living; it’s an abiding life.

The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

This verse contains the fourth “I am” statement of Jesus in John’s gospel. It’s given in the same discourse in which He previously indicated He is also the door of the sheepfold. The two ideas are connected because Middle Eastern shepherds would often sleep at the entrance of the sheepfold and literally become the door by which predators were barred and the sheep were led in and out.

But Christ is adding yet another dimension, and He elaborates with the clause “the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” And we know this to be so because through Him “we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).

When Jesus is referring to His sheep, He’s not just talking about His initial mission wherein He was “sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). In fact, He clarifies who His sheep will eventually be in John 10:16: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”

Praise God that Christ’s mission went global, as prophesied by Isaiah. “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). And Paul proclaimed, “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:11-13). JPT

When God Breaks Through

I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth.Jeremiah 1:8-9

Pascal wrote on a piece of paper a brief account of his experience, folded the paper and kept it in a pocket close to his heart, apparently as a reminder of what he had felt. Those who attended him at his death found the worn, creased paper. In Pascal’s own hand it read:

From about half-past ten at night to about half-after midnight—fire! O God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob—not the God of the philosophers and the wise. The God of Jesus Christ who can be known only in the ways of the gospel. Security—feeling—peace—joy—tears of joy. Amen.

Were these the expressions of a fanatic, an extremist? No. Pascal’s mind was one of the greatest. But the living God had broken through and beyond all that was human and intellectual and philosophical. The astonished Pascal could only describe in one word the visitation in his spirit: “Fire!”….

What we need among us is a genuine visitation of the Spirit. WHT090-091

Nothing can prevent the spiritual rejuvenation of the soul that insists upon having it. SIZ015

Imagineering

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace.Isaiah 26:3

How many times, when making an approach to God in prayer, have we gone immediately into a series of petitions that have to do with our problems, our difficulties, our circumstances? And so, by focusing our attention on what is troubling us, we end up wondering whether or not God is big enough or strong enough to help us.

In the first six words of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus shows us a better way. He tells us to take a slow, calm, reassuring gaze at God—at His tenderness, His eagerness to give, His unwearying patience, and untiring love. The result of this, of course, is that we develop a calmness and tranquility in our spirit which means we will find it no longer necessary to plunge into a panicky flood of words.

In some parts of the world one can enroll in courses called “Imagineering”—courses that are designed to stimulate creative imagination. Most of our problems begin in the imagination—hence the instruction in the words of our text for today. “One can never become proficient in prayer,” said one great writer, “until the imagination has been redeemed.” He meant that when the imagination is redeemed from self-concentration, sex-concentration, and sin-concentration, and makes God its primary focus, then it becomes creative-conscious, since its attention is concentrated on the Creator and the Re-Creator. And when the imagination is redeemed, all the doors of the personality fly open.

Prayer

O God, how can I be calm and tranquil when my imagination is more self-centered than God-centered? Help me to be a God-focused person, not only at prayer times, but at all times. Amen.

Further Study

1Co 2:1-16; Gn 6:5; Rm 1:21; 2Co 10:5

How can we “cast down imaginations”?

What has God given to us?

Confession

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful.James 5:16

Confession is God’s provision to clear obstacles that hinder our relationships with God and with others. Confession is not just for those who don’t mind admitting their faults. Confession is a command, given to every Christian. James advised that when we sin, it is important for us to confess not only to God, but also to our fellow Christians. There is a tremendous freedom that comes as we openly acknowledge the sinfulness of our actions to others.

If confession does not come out of repentance, it is merely admission, and not true confession. It is important to confess your sins specifically and not hide behind generalities. It is one thing to pray, “O Lord, forgive my sin.” It’s quite another to identify specifically in painful honesty. Whenever possible, confession ought to be made directly to those whom your sin has hurt. You are not to confess the sins of others but only your offenses. Confession is not a sign of weakness; it is evidence of your refusal to allow sin to remain in your life.

Significantly, James linked confession with prayer. Your prayers will be hindered if you hold on to unconfessed sin. When James promised that the “effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much,” he did so in the context of confession. If you wish to have a powerful prayer life, you must regularly confess your sin. Only when there are no obstacles separating you from God and others will your prayers be effective. Pride will discourage you from admitting to others the sinfulness of your heart. A desire to please God will compel you to confess your sin and rid yourself of its oppressive burden.