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As   we   learn   more   about   Jesus   Christ,   we   learn   more   about   ourselves.      Jesus   is   not   only   our   savior   and   Lord—He   is also   our   example;   He   is   our   directional   compass;   He   is   the   light   that   reveals   the   darkness   within   our   heart   and   soul; and He is the light that exposes the darkness that surrounds us. Jesus spoke… “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  John 8:12 It   is   important   to   understand   the   objective   of   this   message   is   to   enhance   understanding   of   Jesus   and   ourselves.      However, when   we   open   our   heart   to   guidance   and   correction   by   the   Holy   Spirit…it   can   sometimes   be   “painful”   when   the   depths   of   our sin   are   revealed.      Remember...we   are   forgiven   because   of   the   sacrificial   blood   that   Jesus   shed   for   us;   because   we   believe Jesus   Christ   died   for   our   sins;   and   because   we   have   accepted   Him   as   our   Savior.      Jesus   filled   the   gap   between   who   we   are   and who   we   should   be—and   we   are   justified—or   “just-as-if-I’d”   never   sinned.      Proof   of   God’s   grace—and   our   adoption   as   His children—is evidenced by His promise He would give us a new heart and a new spirit.  I   will   give   you   a   new   heart   and   put   a   new   spirit   within   you;   I   will   take   the   heart   of   stone   out   of   your   flesh   and   give   you   a   heart   of flesh.      I   will   put   My   Spirit   within   you   and   cause   you   to   walk   in   My   statutes,   and   you   will   keep   My   judgments   and   do   them.     E zekiel 36:26-27 Consider   for   a   moment   who   you   were   before   you   accepted   Jesus…and   who   you   are   now.      Consider   the   changes   that   have occurred   in   your   heart,   changes   in   your   behavior,   changes   in   your   thoughts,   changes   in   how   you   view   others,   and   changes   in how   you   view   the   world.      All   of   these   changes   have   occurred—and   will   continue   to   occur—because   God   keeps   all   of   His promises! For   we   ourselves   were   also   once   foolish,   disobedient,   deceived,   serving   various   lusts   and   pleasures,   living   in   malice   and   envy, hateful   and   hating   one   another.      But   when   the   kindness   and   the   love   of   God   our   Savior   toward   man   appeared,   not   by   works   of righteousness   which   we   have   done,   but   according   to   His   mercy   He   saved   us,   through   the   washing   of   regeneration   and renewing   of   the   Holy   Spirit,   whom   He   poured   out   on   us   abundantly   through   Jesus   Christ   our   Savior,   that   having   been   justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  Titus 3:3-7 Each   one   of   us   can   attest   to   the   transformational   power   of   the   Holy   Spirit   because   we   have   individually   witnessed   an increasing   dislike   of   our   sinful   nature;   a   repulsion   towards   the   darkness   that   is   in   the   world;   and   a   desire   to   spiritually   grow, increase knowledge of our Lord, and to become more like Him.  What’s more, we are not motivated by fear.  But rather, we are pulled towards Him by His grace and love. Love and fear are mutually exclusive.  As one increases, the other decreases. When someone is motivated by fear…you can gain obedience…but you will not win the heart. When someone is motivated by love…you can gain obedience…and win the heart. When   we   step   back   and   look   at   the   big   picture…this   is   a   life-long   process   as   God’s   grace   transforms   us   into   an   image   of   His Son…in the same way Jesus was an image of the Father. But   we   all,   with   unveiled   face,   beholding   as   in   a   mirror   the   glory   of   the   Lord,   are   being   transformed   into   the   same   image   from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.  2 Corinthians 3:18 So, let’s introduce the topic our discussion by watching a humorous video. (Click the graphic below.) The   single   word   of   the   song   (sung   by   the   Muppet   character   Beaker)   reveals   a   basic truth   about   human   nature   in   that   we   are   self-centered.      Unfortunately,   the   words me,   me,   me,   me,   me,   me,   me,   me…often   defines   an   undesirable   source   of   human motivation;   and   is   a   subliminal   influencer   of   what   we   think,   what   we   do   and   what we   say.      Note   how   the   various   characters   of   Beaker   harmoniously   sung   the   song; how   he   beat   his   own   drum;   how   he   used   a   violin   to   accentuate   the   song,   how   the intensity   increased;   how   he   became   distraught   as   things   got   out   of   control;   and how destruction occurred in the end (all of w hich correlates to the lifecycle of sin). A   predominance   of   “me”   will   influence two    different    perceptions:    external    and internal.        Both    perceptions    will    often have little to no regard for others. From    an    external    perspective,    self-centeredness    will    influence    how    we    perceive, judge   and   communicate   with   other   persons.      Our   focus   on   “me”   will   also   initiate   emotional   responses.      Plus,   it   influences   our willingness to engage others based upon similarities (social status, education, and so forth). Chuck    Smith—founder    of    Calvary    Chapel—looked    beyond    himself,    yielded    to    the    Holy Spirit,   and   reached   out   to   those   who   were   considered   social   outcasts   and   rejects.      Here’s   a wonderful   video   that   reveals   some   of   the   reasons   why   Calvary   Chapel   has   continued   to grow   since   the   1960s.      The   video   is   of   Chuck   introducing   Love   Song   in   2009…as   he   shares the story of the first time he met them.  Click on Chuck’s picture to launch the video. From   an   internal   perspective,   self-centered   thoughts   usually   begin   with   an   “I”   or   end   with “me.” I want it. •   What’s in it for me? I am angry.           •   What will others think of me? I was disrespected. •   Are there personal costs to me? Unfortunately,   this   is   our   “normal”   thinking—which   we   all   experience.      Simply   stated,   “me”   permeates   and   influences   our thoughts.  What’s more, it is extremely rare when a “me-driven” person will consider such thoughts as: Will this please God? Will this glorify God? Will this benefit someone? Is there eternal value? When   you   think   about   it…this   is   very   odd   thinking.      And   if   someone   acts   upon   these   types   of   thoughts   it   will   often   be   perceived as   abnormal   behavior,   and   to   some   shocking—and   will   ask   themselves   “why   would   you   do   that?”      The   reason…this   type   of behavior   conflicts   with   the   desires   of   human   nature,   is   in   direct   contrast   against   today’s   marketing   messages,   is   contrary   to movie portrayals, opposes just about all social norms, and pretty much “messes" with everyone’s minds and expectations. This   type   of   behavior   is   known   as   altruistic.      Altruism   may   be   defined   an   unselfish   act   to   enhance   the   welfare   of   another person—without   anticipation   or   expectation   of   personal   recognition,   or   personal   reward,   or   personal   return.            In   addition,   this type   of   behavior   is   not   easy   because   it   usually   involves   some   form   of   cost.      And   yes,   there   are   times   when   altruistic   behavior   is “me”   driven:   to   make   one   feel   better   about   themselves.      However,   it   is   quite   different   when   altruism   occurs   for   the   glory   of   God.     This   type   of   behavior   requires   heart-transforming   revelation   by   the   Holy   Spirit—followed   by   a   personal   decision—and   continual reminders   and   reinforcement   (via   prayer   and   reading   God’s   word)—in   that   this   whole   thing   of   living…and   the   reason   I   exist—is not about me!  This is when one discovers a mystery…in that living life to the fullest is about loving God and serving others. Jesus   said…”   You   shall   love   the   Lord   your   God   with   all   your   heart,   with   all   your   soul,   and   with   all   your   mind.’      This   is   the   first and   great   commandment.      And   the   second   is   like   it:   You   shall   love   your   neighbor   as   yourself.      On   these   two   commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:37-40 Take some time to contemplate the following statement: Everything Jesus Christ said and did during His life and death exemplified “it’s not about me.”  His life was about seeking the will of the Father. His death was for us. Let   this   mind   be   in   you   which   was   also   in   Christ   Jesus,   who,   being   in   the   form   of   God, did   not   consider   it   robbery   to   be   equal   with   God,   but   made   Himself   of   no   reputation, taking   the   form   of   a   bondservant,   and   coming   in   the   likeness   of   men.   And   being   found in   appearance   as   a   man,   He   humbled   Himself   and   became   obedient   to   the   point   of death, even the death of the cross.  Philippians 2:5-8 Let   nothing   be   done   through   selfish   ambition   or   conceit,   but   in   lowliness   of   mind   let each   esteem   others   better   than   himself.      Let   each   of   you   look   out   not   only   for   his   own interests, but also for the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3-4   Click on the picture above to hear a wonderful song by Shelly Nirider. As   we   go   about   our   daily   lives…as   we   encounter   other   persons,   and   as   we   make   choices…it   is   beneficial   to   ask   ourselves   the following questions. Will this please God? Will this glorify God? Will this benefit someone else? Is there eternal value? These   questions   encapsulate   the   ministry   of   Jesus   Christ.      What’s   more,   they   will   illuminate   your   heart;   they   will   reveal degrees of self-centeredness; and they will reduce the influence of me. All for His Glory! Harold D Thomas
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As   we   learn   more   about   Jesus   Christ,   we   learn   more about    ourselves.        Jesus    is    not    only    our    savior    and Lord—He    is    also    our    example;    He    is    our    directional compass;   He   is   the   light   that   reveals   the   darkness   within our   heart   and   soul;   and   He   is   the   light   that   exposes   the darkness that surrounds us. Jesus   spoke…   “I   am   the   light   of   the   world.   He   who   follows   Me   shall   not   walk   in darkness, but have the light of life.”  John 8:12 It    is    important    to    understand    the    objective    of    this    message    is    to    enhance understanding   of   Jesus   and   ourselves.      However,   when   we   open   our   heart   to guidance   and   correction   by   the   Holy   Spirit…it   can   sometimes   be   “painful”   when the   depths   of   our   sin   are   revealed.      Remember...we   are   forgiven   because   of   the sacrificial   blood   that   Jesus   shed   for   us;   because   we   believe   Jesus   Christ   died for   our   sins;   and   because   we   have   accepted   Him   as   our   Savior.      Jesus   filled   the gap   between   who   we   are   and   who   we   should   be—and   we   are   justified—or   “just- as-if-I’d”    never    sinned.        Proof    of    God’s    grace—and    our    adoption    as    His children—is   evidenced   by   His   promise   He   would   give   us   a   new   heart   and   a   new spirit.  I   will   give   you   a   new   heart   and   put   a   new   spirit   within   you;   I   will   take   the   heart   of stone   out   of   your   flesh   and   give   you   a   heart   of   flesh.      I   will   put   My   Spirit   within you   and   cause   you   to   walk   in   My   statutes,   and   you   will   keep   My   judgments   and do them.  Ezekiel 36:26-27 Consider   for   a   moment   who   you   were   before   you   accepted   Jesus…and   who   you are   now.      Consider   the   changes   that   have   occurred   in   your   heart,   changes   in your   behavior,   changes   in   your   thoughts,   changes   in   how   you   view   others,   and changes   in   how   you   view   the   world.      All   of   these   changes   have   occurred—and will continue to occur—because God keeps all of His promises! For    we    ourselves    were    also    once    foolish,    disobedient,    deceived,    serving various   lusts   and   pleasures,   living   in   malice   and   envy,   hateful   and   hating   one another.      But   when   the   kindness   and   the   love   of   God   our   Savior   toward   man appeared,   not   by   works   of   righteousness   which   we   have   done,   but   according   to His   mercy   He   saved   us,   through   the   washing   of   regeneration   and   renewing   of the   Holy   Spirit,   whom   He   poured   out   on   us   abundantly   through   Jesus   Christ   our Savior,    that    having    been    justified    by    His    grace    we    should    become    heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  Titus 3:3-7 Each   one   of   us   can   attest   to   the   transformational   power   of   the   Holy   Spirit because    we    have    individually    witnessed    an    increasing    dislike    of    our    sinful nature;   a   repulsion   towards   the   darkness   that   is   in   the   world;   and   a   desire   to spiritually grow, increase knowledge of our Lord, and to become more like Him.  What’s   more,   we   are   not   motivated   by   fear.      But   rather,   we   are   pulled   towards Him by His grace and love. Love    and    fear    are    mutually    exclusive.        As    one    increases,    the    other decreases. When   someone   is   motivated   by   fear…you   can   gain   obedience…but   you will not win the heart. When   someone   is   motivated   by   love…you   can   gain   obedience…and   win the heart. When   we   step   back   and   look   at   the   big   picture…this   is   a   life-long   process   as God’s   grace   transforms   us   into   an   image   of   His   Son…in   the   same   way   Jesus was an image of the Father. But   we   all,   with   unveiled   face,   beholding   as   in   a   mirror   the   glory   of   the   Lord,   are being   transformed   into   the   same   image   from   glory   to   glory,   just   as   by   the   Spirit of the Lord.  2 Corinthians 3:18 So, let’s introduce the topic our discussion by watching a humorous video.  (Click on the picture below.) The   single   word   of   the   song   (sung by    the    Muppet    character    Beaker) reveals    a    basic    truth    about    human nature   in   that   we   are   self-centered.     Unfortunately,    the    words    me,    me, me,    me,    me,    me,    me,    me…often defines    an    undesirable    source    of human       motivation;       and       is       a subliminal     influencer     of     what     we think,   what   we   do   and   what   we   say.     Note   how   the   different   personas   of Beaker   harmoniously   sung   the   song;   how   he   beat   his   own   drum;   how   he   used   a violin   to   accentuate   the   song,   how   the   intensity   increased;   how   he   became distraught   as   things   got   out   of   control;   and   how   destruction   occurred   in   the   end (all of which correlates to the lifecycle of sin). A   predominance   of   “me”   will   influence   two   different   perceptions:   external   and internal.  Both perceptions will often have little to no regard for others. From            an            external perspective,                    self- centeredness   will   influence how     we     perceive,     judge and       communicate       with other   persons.      Our   focus on    “me”    will    also    initiate emotional      responses.            Plus,      it      influences      our willingness   to   engage   others   based   upon   similarities   (social   status,   education, and so forth). Chuck   Smith—founder   of   Calvary   Chapel—looked   beyond   himself,   yielded   to the   Holy   Spirit,   and   reached   out   to those   who   were   considered   social outcasts    and    rejects.        Here’s    a wonderful   video   that   reveals   some of   the   reasons   why   Calvary   Chapel has    continued    to    grow    since    the 1960s.      The    video    is    of    Chuck introducing   Love   Song   in   2009…as he   shares   the   story   of   the   first   time he met them. Click on the picture above  to watch the video. From   an   internal   perspective,   self-centered   thoughts   usually   begin   with   an   “I” or end with “me.” I want it. I am angry. I was disrespected. What’s in it for me? What will others think of me? Are there personal costs to me? Unfortunately,   this   is   our   “normal”   thinking—which   we   all   experience.      Simply stated,    “me”    permeates    and    influences    our    thoughts.        What’s    more,    it    is extremely rare when a “me-driven” person will consider such thoughts as: Will this please God? Will this glorify God? Will this benefit someone? Is there eternal value? When   you   think   about   it…this   is   very   odd   thinking.      And   if   someone   acts   upon these   types   of   thoughts   it   will   often   be   perceived   as   abnormal   behavior,   and   to some    shocking—and    will    ask    themselves    “why    would    you    do    that?”        The reason…this   type   of   behavior   conflicts   with   the   desires   of   human   nature,   is   in direct    contrast    against    today’s    marketing    messages,    is    contrary    to    movie portrayals,   opposes   just   about   all   social   norms,   and   pretty   much   “messes"   with everyone’s minds and expectations. This    type    of    behavior    is    known    as    altruistic.        Altruism    may    be    defined    an unselfish   act   to   enhance   the   welfare   of   another   person—without   anticipation   or expectation   of   personal   recognition,   or   personal   reward,   or   personal   return.            In addition,   this   type   of   behavior   is   not   easy   because   it   usually   involves   some form   of   cost.      And   yes,   there   are   times   when   altruistic   behavior   is   “me”   driven: to   make   one   feel   better   about   themselves.      However,   it   is   quite   different   when altruism   occurs   for   the   glory   of   God.      This   type   of   behavior   requires   heart- transforming     revelation     by     the     Holy     Spirit—followed     by     a     personal decision—and   continual   reminders   and   reinforcement   (via   prayer   and   reading God’s   word)—in   that   this   whole   thing   of   living…and   the   reason   I   exist—is   not about   me!      This   is   when   one   discovers   a   mystery…in   that   living   life   to   the fullest is about loving God and serving others. Jesus   said…”   You   shall   love   the   Lord   your   God   with   all   your   heart,   with   all   your soul,   and   with   all   your   mind.’      This   is   the   first   and   great   commandment.      And the   second   is   like   it:   You   shall   love   your   neighbor   as   yourself.      On   these   two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:37-40 Take some time to contemplate the following statement: Everything   Jesus   Christ   said   and   did   during   His   life   and   death   exemplified   “it’s not about me.”  His life was about seeking the will of the Father. His death was for us. Let   this   mind   be   in   you   which   was   also   in   Christ   Jesus,   who,   being   in   the   form of   God,   did   not   consider   it   robbery   to   be   equal   with   God,   but   made   Himself   of no   reputation,   taking   the   form   of   a   bondservant,   and   coming   in   the   likeness   of men.    And    being    found    in    appearance    as    a    man,    He    humbled    Himself    and became   obedient   to   the   point   of   death,   even   the   death   of   the   cross.      Philippians 2:5-8 Let   nothing   be   done   through   selfish   ambition   or   conceit,   but   in   lowliness   of mind   let   each   esteem   others   better   than   himself.      Let   each   of   you   look   out   not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3-4                      Click on the picture above to hear a wonderful song by Shelly Nirider. As   we   go   about   our   daily   lives…as   we   encounter   other   persons,   and   as   we make choices…it is beneficial to ask ourselves the following questions. Will this please God? Will this glorify God? Will this benefit someone else? Is there eternal value? These   questions   encapsulate   the   ministry   of   Jesus   Christ.      What’s   more,   they will   illuminate   your   heart;   they   will   reveal   degrees   of   self-centeredness;   and they will reduce the influence of me. All for His Glory! Harold D Thomas