Imitating Christ

Father great is thy faithfulness and great is the love and mercy that you have given to us, your children though faith in Christ. Father forgive us when we fail to act as a child of God should when we fail to love our neighbors or even you Father. Forgive us for not practicing what we preach. Father we give thanks for your love and the glory that is your Son and the light that you have brought to a wicked world. We ask only this Father, use us, use this congregation and everyone in it to glorify you Father and the kingdom that is and the King that is to come. For it is in His name that we pray. Amen!

I think I’ve said this before, but I am just a little bit fond of Paul’s evangelism of Christ. It’s not just the words that Paul uses to describe Christianity in the beginning or the fact that his faith was so powerful. What I found most provocative, the one thing that constantly brings me back to Paul is the way he lived. He lived for Christ. Everything that he did was for Christ. His selfless service to our Lord was not just lip service. Paul lived as an example of Christ’s teachings. He not only preached it, when he told Timothy “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young but be an example for the believers in your speech, your conduct, your love, faith, and purity”. He imitated Christ in all things and that is something that we as children of God through our faith in Jesus should also do.

Brothers and sisters join in imitating me and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. As Christians we really should try to live as Paul lived as an example to others. The hard part is living like Paul the hard part is surrendering your life to the Lord. If we go back to Acts Chapter 9 verse 6 Paul/Saul was blind, and Jesus tells him to rise and enter the city and you’ll be told what you are to do. What does Paul do, he gets up and has some lead him into the city and he waits for Jesus to tell him what to do. Paul has surrendered himself to The Lord without question or complaint and he never turned back from that day until his last, were in service to Christ. He gave up everything for Jesus. In his own words Paul says, “I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith”. Philippians chapter 3 verses 8 & 9. Trash, that’s what Paul thinks about his former life. Everything that Paul had accumulated, and Paul was very successful. Paul was a Pharisee. That meant that he was basically the equivalent of a scriptural lawyer. The Pharisee interpreted the laws and their religious significance and were usually quite wealthy. Paul gave it all up and considered it garbage compared to his faith in Christ. He transformation was so complete that he went straight from persecution and “at once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God”. Acts chapter 9 verse 20. He never stopped glorifying the Lord. Why? Because he knew that evil would never stop. Paul said, “for many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things”. For Paul it was different, he said “and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”. Can we say the same? Too, often I see Christians that live a life apart from God except on Sunday.

Sunday their right there front and center, praising the Lord and witnessing to the waitress at lunch. The rest of the week it’s beer and porn. We don’t really think of this as evil. we don’t consider it a sin and we see nothing wrong with it. In fact, if you even suggested to any Christian that they hate the cross or that they were enemies of Christ. You would instantly have a fight on your hands. You would be offended and highly upset. Still it’s a fact that the majority of people spend their time and money on everything but the Lord. The things that they spend their money and time on are the things that they worship. There’s a name for that. It is called idolatry. It does not matter if it is beer and porn or biscuits and gravy. There is no difference between them. Their desires have become their God and too many are especially proud of their shame, so prideful that they glorify themselves above God. When we place earthly things above the Lord we are asking for death and destruction. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. We are expecting our savior we are looking for the second coming that is what we as Christians have been looking for since the first century. Since the day that Jesus ascended, we’ve been wanting him back. For 2000 years we’ve been wanting to go home, we’ve wanted to cast our crowns at the feet of our Lord and accept our transformation as we leave these clay vessels and accept our spiritual forms. He is coming, 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 13-17 “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so, we will be with the Lord forever”. Now when Jesus comes, we have a right to expect all the things that have been promised to us IF we are faithful. Not just in the big things but in the small things as well. Because we are children of the Lord our faith in Jesus as our savior guarantees us this and His love for us ensures us our place at our fathers table. Where we will finally see Him and be one with Him. John tells it like this: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is”. 1 John chapter 3 verse 2. Because we are Christians it is up to us live as an example of our faith. Because people will watch us, and they will question everything that we do good and bad. Remember you may be the only example of Christ that they will ever see. Please think about these 5 questions: (1) Suppose every Christian lived as I lived? (2) Suppose every Christian gave to the church as I do? (3) Suppose everyone read the Bible as I do? (4) Suppose everyone prayed as I pray? (5) Suppose every person witnessed the way I do? What kind of church would we have? I will leave you with Paul’s encouragement to the church at Philippi.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. Amen!

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