Did you know that once you became a Christian you started on the journey to being a life-long learner? School started. You signed up for the course called Christianity 101! We get to keep on growing and keep on learning day by day for a lifetime! There are some basics that we are required to know that will help us on our journey. Those fundamentals are essential to overcoming obstacles that might come across your path, because there is a real enemy that we face, and his name is the devil. We have to be prepared for a fight and the best preparation happens when we are listening to our instructor. It is a good fight, because in this fight of faith, we win! Be prepared ahead of time. There are also some character tests along the way, that are pass or fail. You fail, you take the class again! So be a good student, and listen well! Learn the lesson, in fact, you may as well begin to receive the truth with pleasure, realizing what you are learning is for your good now, or for your good later. Truth can be stored up for when you need it. So, every chance you have to learn something, be ready! In the process you will learn what not to do as well as what to do. As you become a better student, it will also make you a better teacher. If we want to impart what we have learned to someone else, the truth we want to share should be operational in our own life. In simple words, we should practice what we preach! A teacher who impacts his or her students, lives the lesson. So here is your opportunity to be like Jesus. His words weren’t just nice sounding fluff, that sounded good on the outside, with no substance on the inside. It wasn’t just the whipped cream on the top of dessert. It was meat and potatoes, a hearty meal that satisfies. Make your words like that too!
Jesus told us to take His yoke and learn from Him. When you think of a yoke of oxen, you realize that the oxen have to work together to go anywhere. There is a will involved in each ox, but if they want to accomplish anything, they must move as one. I think that is what Jesus is trying to say to us. Do like he does, live like He lives, respond like He would respond, and surrender like He would surrender. What we soon realize is that it makes things easier when we yield to Him. His burden is light, His yoke is easy, we are the ones who make it hard by trying to pull our own way. It is really light when we realize that He shoulders the weight for us. We just have to walk next to Him. We just have to stay close to Him. We just have to stay in His presence. Jesus had a way with people that was exceptional. Doing things together in everyday life was important to Him, because as we “do life” together, we are trained to follow Him. He was more concerned with transmitting heart knowledge than head knowledge. The people who were with Jesus “caught” what He taught. It became real because it was personal and practical. He met them right at their level. He let them ask questions and He asked them questions. He made it easy to learn. So if we want to be like Him, how can we make it easy for those around us to learn about Jesus? Maybe the easiest answer is for us to stay close to the Master and to lead them in the same path. As we become more like Christ, others around us will too.
Have you ever noticed what a great story teller Jesus was while He was on the earth? He used parables to communicate the truth of His message in unique ways. One of my favorite choruses about getting the message is very simple and goes like this…..Give me the Word, make it plain and clear to me, Give me the Word, it’s a light that I might see, Give me the Word, it’s my total victory, over every situation, give me the Word. Jesus gave His message out plain and clear. He brought light where there was darkness, and showed the way to live in victory, in His down to earth teaching. Jesus not only taught with words, he trained those around Him by how he lived. To learn by example is one of the best ways to learn. You see that in your home. Your kids don’t do what you tell them to do, they do what you do! Even more reason for our words to match our actions. Jesus started where people were. He wanted to make the truth relevant to their lives. He expressed truth in varied forms, from using humor, case studies, parables, everyday objects, even puzzles and comparisons. His teaching style was diverse, and people flocked to hear Him. Most importantly, I think that Jesus made a way of connecting with His listeners. He invested in people. He did this in small groups, with His three closest friends, with the 12 disciples, and in larger groups with the 72 and the multitudes. People learned at every level. We can learn each day to be more and more like Christ, and in the process, become better teachers and/or mentors to someone else. Why not start today?
How many of you would call yourselves a teacher or an artist? Probably we can all think of people who are incredibly gifted as teachers or artists, and don’t put ourselves in that category. Jesus was both an exceptional teacher and an engaging artist. He was great as a teacher and had an amazing ability to create, just look at today’s sky, or tonight’s sunset! His Spirit and His DNA are alive on the inside of us, and the genetic code from heaven is very strong in you! Think about that, we all have the potential to be great teachers and artists. Jesus was a fantastic teacher. He walked and taught, he sat and taught, he fished and taught. Teaching was a natural as breathing, and He did it wherever He was, whether in the temple or on a mountain, or in a boat. As an artist, Jesus’ life was filled with offering beauty for ashes to those who were hurting around Him. What a beautiful piece of art, God is creating in your life. It is part of the abundant life that He has for us. Not just hum drum average life, but far above average, exceedingly abundantly above all, in fact. So how can we be infused with the skills that Jesus mastered? One way is to daily connect with Him. As we take time each day to sit at His feet, and read His Word, listen to His voice and bask in His presence, His likeness becomes formed in us. We are changed from the inside out. He is being formed in you right now as you think about Him. Your life is taking on new dimensions, and things you never thought you could do, can become natural for you. You can tell others about what you are learning. He encourages us to impart what we have received to someone else. It is part of being His student. We learn from Him, and then we teach others. We have one hand up to learn, and one hand down to teach. It is part of who we are called to be. Just like Jesus!
Hi this is Dorette Schaal with an Encouraging Word for your day. This week we’re continuing to explore how we can love more like Jesus. When Jesus invited us to love like Him, He not only told us how to love, but He demonstrated it by how he lived. As we near the end of this month, we will continue to discover how we can connect more deeply with Jesus, and be transformed into His image. I hope you are realizing that you can change! He is being formed in you. Here is your encouraging word for today.
I read a quote once that said this, “Not everyone can be famous, but everyone can be great through serving.” If we want to be great in the kingdom of God, we have to have the heart of a servant. Jesus definitely lived that! He also showed that to be a servant, we do have to put our flesh under. One important dynamic to both of these qualities is selflessness. In a world where it is easy to boast about our accomplishments, Jesus lived what he taught about, not letting the right hand know what the left hand was doing. Probably even those who were closest to him had no idea of all the kind things He did to those He came in contact with. Jesus realized that living the best life is all about giving, and releasing the desire to have things my own way. In reality, Jesus path was harder than we can ever imagine. He chose to yield to the Father’s will. Instead of saying I will be, I will do or I will decide, Jesus chose to yield to God. What God wills is what I will be, I will do or I will decide. With that emphasis, we do become more like Christ. We are saying our will doesn’t have more precedence than God’s will. A statement by Jennifer Kennedy Dean says it so well. “When the flesh life in the soul has been crucified, the soul is free to live in resurrection power.” And consider this, the same power, that conquered the grave, LIVES IN YOU!
I bet you like to get new clothes every once in a while. When you do get something new, it is a good idea to give something old away. We started doing that when my kids were young, and it keeps us from getting way too much stuff. But what if you got something new, and then went to school with your new clothes on, but forgot to take a shower, or comb your hair, or even brush your teeth. Putting something new over something that isn’t clean, isn’t a good idea. Do you know when we gave our heart to Jesus, he gave us brand new clothes to wear. They are called robes of righteousness. But not only did He take care of the outside, he washed us clean on the inside! So when we get our new clothes of righteousness, we don’t look half dressed. We are clean from the inside out. When it comes to loving like Jesus, we are made to be like Him, so we have everything we need to begin showing the love of God to those around us. We can love like He does, because we are changed from the inside out. How cool is that!
What do you think heaven on earth looks like? From a Christian perspective, I think we can have a taste of what heaven is like when we decide to be self less and put to death the works of the flesh. We get to experience what heaven is like. Can you imagine no selfishness, no self-centeredness, no narcissism, no obsession with who will be first, or whose name will be in lights. In heaven, it is all about Jesus. If we want heaven on earth, our lives need to be all about Jesus. All the benefits of heaven will invade our lives when we make Jesus our central focus. Jesus prayed that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Can you do more of God’s will on earth? Yes! Will it make you experience more of heaven on earth? Yes! To make your earth walk more heavenly, walk with Jesus every day. Spend time with Him every day. Obey his word, every day. Worship Him every day. Share His love with others, every day. When being a Christian is more than a Sunday thing, and really becomes what the word Christian means, which is “Christ like ones”, we will have a greater impact in our world, starting right where we live, in our homes. So be Jesus today. Love like Jesus today. He is changing you from the inside out.
When you think of dying to self, there is probably no better picture in your mind than that of Jesus hanging on the cross. He took dying to self to the very nth degree for us. The days and weeks leading up to Jesus’ death on a cross show us that he took dying to self seriously, and that it was a way of life for Him. Looking in John 13 we see Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. Foot washing was work that was left for the slaves, but Jesus lovingly and carefully washed the disciple’s feet. It was the ultimate ac t of humility just hours before his trial and crucifixion. Why do you think Jesus could submit to his disciples in this manner? The most obvious answer is that He knew who He was. He came from God, and He would return to heaven, but He lived on earth confident of His identity. He lived as if God was with Him, and that is the way we are meant to live. Daily we have God with us! Daily we are who He says we are. We are believers, that is what we are and that is what we do! Think about that. Believers believe. When we are confident of who we are, dying to self isn’t an issue. It becomes an outworking of God within us. Jesus came to serve, we do the same. Jesus came to love, we do the same. Jesus died to self, we do the same. Our focus and life emphasis totally changes from that time on. What a wonderful way to live.
We don’t often talk about death to self, in a world where it is all about looking out for number one. But the Bible tells us to recon, or consider, ourselves dead to sin, and to put off the old man, and to put on the new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness. The unredeemed soul expresses itself by being self centered , self worshipping, self involved, and self focused. The redeemed soul should do just the opposite! So death to self can look like this:
We no longer have to insist on our own way
We no longer have to be concerned about what others think about us
We no longer have to try to get people to notice us
We no longer have to think that we always have the right answer
We no longer have to defend ourselves, or get defensive
We no longer have to look to others for affirmation
We no longer have to be focused on what is mine
When we begin to put our focus on others, and keep our eyes on Jesus, dramatic changes can happen in our lives that will affect our world. If we got everyone doing that, what a different world we would live in! Let’s begin to live selflessly. Let’s make changes that will last a lifetime!