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A Little Christ in Me

I have recently been reminded that there are a lot of meanings for the word “Christian” in the world today. Everything from the simple “believe and receive”, to “following and obeying”, to a complex religion of “rights, wrongs, and rituals”, and everything in-between. But the true meaning of “Christian” is much more simple, much easier to understand, simply put it is “to be a disciple of Christ”. A disciple is so much more than just a “follower”, Merriam-Webster.com defines “disciple” as “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another” (emphasis mine). A disciple takes action and “assists” in the spreading of the doctrines after they accept them, rather than just following along for the ride. A disciple of Christ does not “lead from behind”, we are out front, leading the way by the life we live and the fruit it produces…This means we should be digging into the Word to find out what Christ was like for ourselves, so we can become a “little Christ” and assist in spreading the doctrines (principles and teachings) of Christ. How many “Christians” do this on a daily basis?

It was the non-Christian world that first referred to Christ’s followers as “Christians” or “little Christs”; it was because Christ’s followers were different than everyone else. They did not just “follow” Christ’s teachings, they lived and taught them daily. It was easy to see who was a Christian by how they lived their daily lives, and it irritated the world. Is the world irritated with how we live our lives, or do we blend in with the world so well that the difference is unnoticeable? If we  were not to tell someone we are a Christian, would they know it by the fruit in our lives?

And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Acts 11:26 (NKJV)

Matthew 16:24 says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” The Greek word used in this text is “akolouthe?” meaning “to be in the same way with”. The word follow used in this verse means much more than to follow someone around, it means to be the “same as” them, to be like them. If we believe this as truth, then we can understand why the disciples were called “little Christs”, they were in the same way as Christ, they were a “mini-me” of Christ.

Salvation itself is a free gift, it cannot be bought, sold or earned (Eph. 2:28). The Bible also teaches us that our “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20); that we may not continue in sin that grace may abound (Rom. 6:1-2); and that the liberty in our salvation is not to be used as an opportunity for the flesh (Gal. 5:13). This tells us that after we are saved we are to walk in the faith of our salvation and as we do so, our lives will change to be more like Christ. We are not to use the liberty given to us by our salvation to continue living in sin, rather we are to use our salvation to live in liberty and freedom from sin…live like Christ.

Everyone commits sin, no one is perfect except Christ, but what makes a Christian different is being repentant of the sin. Repentance is not a feeling of guilt or a feeling on condemnation, rather it is remorse and sorrow for our wrong actions. Christians are “sorry” for our sins, we are remorseful for our actions that hurt the heart of our Heavenly Father and cause separation from His presence. We are to come to Him daily and repent of our sins, that we may be cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). It is our unrighteousness that separates us from God, for light cannot fellowship with darkness (1 John 1:5-6).

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
1 John 1:6 (NKJV)

Christians who choose to continue to live in known sin with an unrepentant heart are deceiving themselves and creating a separation from God (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thes. 5:19), possibly believing a lie unto death. Those who believe they are are under liberty to do as they please are deceived, for we were not given our liberty in order to please or satisfy the flesh. These teachings and beliefs are very dangerous and may be jeopardizing the salvation of many. Christ did not call us to “make nice” to fill churches or make friends with the world. He called us to live a life of righteousness and to make disciples (His disciples). He called us to lay down our flesh and take up our cross, that we might show the world His light in us. How much of His light shines through each of us on a daily basis? Are we lighting the world around us?

There is a big difference between “believing” in Christ and being a “Christian”. Even the demons believe and tremble (James 2:19), but they are not saved. Being a Christian means you live your life in such a way that your faith and salvation is evident to those around you.

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
James 2:19-20 (NKJV)

Each one of us have our own life to live and must walk out our faith with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). We are all in a different place in our walk, but we are all on the same path, the path of righteousness in Christ. If it is not our goal to walk out our faith and find our righteousness in Christ, how can we call ourselves “Christian”? If we are not following His ways, how can we call ourselves “Christian”? We are to be “in” the world that we may be a light in the darkness, but we are not to be “of” the world, participating and/or condoning its ways. How can we bring correction to those around us if we do not correct the sin in our own life? How can we call others into righteousness if we are not living it ourselves? As Christians, we must set the example for others to follow, the example of a “little Christ”.

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
Luke 6:40 (NKJV)

Are you only a Christian on the inside, behind closed doors, or are you a “little Christ” for the world to see and follow? Ask yourself, can others see Christ in you, the way He lived, spoke, and brought correction unto righteousness? Are you striving to be like your Teacher, your Master?

When others look at your life, do they see a “Little Christ”?

Whose life is it?

Every Christian would agree that “God is real.” But the more important question we should ask ourselves is “Is God real to me?” The other day the Lord showed me there is a difference between believing “God is real” and having Him “be real” in our everyday life. Too many Christians are preparing for a “what if” circumstance and treat their salvation like a life insurance policy. “What if” Jesus is real…”What if” He does come back tomorrow…“What if” I die in a car wreck…? These Christians are getting their ducks in a row and checking a box, rather than building a relationship.

As Christians, we are called to more than “salvation”, we are called to relationship with Christ. We should be working to build a relationship with our Lord, Master, and Savior, making Him real in our lives on a daily basis. But how many of us do this on a daily basis? It takes time, submission, and commitment to build the type of relationship we are called to build. Too often our lives are too busy and we put off the “distraction” of the Holy Spirit’s nudging, so we can finish “more important” things in our life.

I admit, it can sometimes be hard to stay quiet and seek His face until He is found, our flesh cries out that there are so many other things needing to be done. But what if it was a lost child you were seeking to find? Most of us would leave no stone unturned and would not stop or slow until the child was found, especially if it was one of our own children. We would not sleep, eat, work, or play until we had our child back in our arms. This is the same fervency we should have when seeking after the Lord. He cannot “be real” in our lives until we seek Him, find Him, and invite Him into our daily life.

When we seek Him, find Him, invite Him into our daily life, and become His we are able to produce the Spiritual fruit needed to live our life unto Christ and be the Christ-like example to those around us. He helps us crucify [put to death] our fleshly passions and desires and walk in [live by] the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. – Galatians 5:22-25 (NKJV)

Without Christ in our daily lives, we are powerless against our flesh and our enemy. It is through Christ’s strength we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). Notice it doesn’t say when we get extra sleep we can do all things, rather it is through Christ. Philippians 4:13 does not tell us we can do what ever we want, it tells us we can do all things and go through all things in that are in His will for us. We must lay down our own desires and passions [our life] and live the life He lays our before us. We must crucify our flesh daily and allow Christ to live in us. It is no longer our own life to live, it is His (Galatians 2:20). How can we live His life and do what He desires if we are not spending time with Him on a daily basis or if He is not leading and guiding us as we go about our day?

I have been crucified with Christ; 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, who loved me and gave Himself for me. –Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)

What did we really give him when we “gave our life” to Him and asked Him to be the Master over our life? Did you hand everything in your life over to Him or did you just ask for a life insurance policy you could neatly tuck away for a later “what if” time? Did you sign the deed to your wants and desires over to him, or are you still holding it? Did you hand Him your calendar and schedule, or are you still in control of it? Are you still holding control over any part of your life? Or have you submitted it all to Him?

We are called to “count the cost” of our salvation before we accept it (Luke 14:25-33). In Luke 14:33 Christ himself tells us if we do not “forsake all” we cannot be his disciple. Those are very strong words that cannot be misunderstood; unfortunately they are ignored by many Christians today.

So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple.Luke 14:33 (AMP)

Have you counted the cost of your salvation? Have you laid everything at His feet, so you can follow Him without distraction or compromise? Are you holding a life insurance policy…or are you building a relationship with Christ that will produce the Fruit of the Spirit in your life? Are you continually building your relationship with Christ on a daily basis?

Whose life are you living?

Understanding Icebergs

icebergThe other morning I cried out to the Lord about what is going on in my life, how He was not using me as I expected, and why things were not happening faster or in a bigger way in my life…Sadly, I was actually complaining out of fleshly discontentment. But the the Lord is so gracious and loving, rather than being upset with me in my impatience and frustration, the Lord answered the cry of my heart with a simple question, “Do you want what you think you can see in the life of someone else, or what I have for you in your life?” He showed me that His work in my life was like an iceberg, only about 10% is visible on the surface. But if I would step back and not worry about how it “looks” from the top, He would continue to do a wondrous work below the surface, out of sight. I realized I must lay down what I am not seeing and trust that He is working and using me as He said He would use me.

If God is to get the glory, then who are we to demand that we “see” the works in our life. A single word spoken to one person could change the lives of hundreds by word of mouth alone. We need to realize that by living our lives committed and surrendered to Jesus Christ is the best “ministry” and “work” we could ever provide to the world.

One of my favorite movies is Facing the Giants. In one of the scenes the janitor gives a Word from the Lord to the coach, instructing him to prepare for the harvest, even before he can hear or see the rain. This is  a great example of the Lord telling someone they need to stand on what He has already told them and “believe” it will come to pass. If the Lord tells us to prepare our fields for the harvest, then we must prepare our fields in faith, even before we see a single rain cloud in the sky. We are not in charge of the soil we till or the seeds we plant or the garden we work or the field we harvest or when the rain will fall…He is. If we are to walk by faith, then we need to believe His Word will not return void and that He will bring the harvest in the right season, His perfect season.

Everyone who desires to be used mightily by God will have times when they cry out to the Lord and ask why they cannot see Him doing “BIG THINGS” in their life. Why they cannot see Him using them in a BIG way like they believed He would…Or why they have not seen Him “move mountains” in their life like they know He can. Often when He plants BIG dreams and goals in our hearts we must go through a “preparation season” before He is able to use us according to His plan. This season can seem like it goes on for a very l-o-n-g time. We may feel “stuck”, like we will never move forward toward our dreams. The question we keep asking is, “WHEN GOD, WHEN WILL YOU USE ME IN A BIG WAY!!!” What we need to remember during these seasons is that we will never see the full picture, we need to believe there is 90% that we cannot see below the surface even during this season.

The Lord sees what is in our hearts, whether we are truly taking Him at his Word, or are we doubting Him in our human wisdom. If He tells us He has answered our prayer, do we thank Him for the answer and go out in faith to prepare our field for rain, or do we stay on our knees and keep asking until we can “see” the answer?

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