Sunday, October 18, 2009

Your Best You - God’s Image


Romans 5:1-8 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

So what does it mean to be made in God’s image?

Being made in the image of God means you have a choice. You have a choice in life. Life comes at us hard and heavy sometimes and we can feel off balance. There has been some of the worst flooding in the Philippines. The water Is not solid, but by sheer volume it comes in and pushes and drowns and overwhelms cars and bridges, anything in its way. You get the sense that there is nothing you can do, that you are just caught in the current of life and swept along. Everyone has issues in life. If it isn’t financial, it is social, or mental or even physical. And in the midst of all that, you have a choice. Some people think the only way out is to give up. Some people do the “grin and bear it” thing. But you are made in God’s image, and with that image comes the ability to choose to accept God’s provision of grace in your life or not.
This choice to have God in your life or not is your choice. No one else can make it for you. No one else can deny you that choice. That choice is not dependent on where you are or what you have done in life. It is dependent upon you hearing what God is saying to you and deciding to follow Him.
One of my favourite stories in the Old testament is when Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. He says ask your God to show himself. They tried and failed, but when it was Elijah’s turn fire rained down from heaven and it was obvious who sits on the throne of heaven. The evil queen Jezebel hears and threatens Elijah’s life, so Elijah flees and wants to die. Great victory, sudden defeat. Then the story gets good, for God has not given up on Elijah. He pokes Elijah and says go to Horeb and so he does. After and earthquake and a big wind and a raging fire we see God speaking to Elijah in a gentle blowing… a small breeze. Though God is bigger than we can grasp and can destroy worlds at a single word, He reached down out of eternity and whispered in Elijah’s ear, “You are not alone!” Ever feel like you’ve blown it, that you have no worth? God’s not done with you yet.
In fact, God has done all the work, everything that needs to happen in order for you to be in a vital relationship with Him; so that the choice is now yours. What will you do with Jesus? In the quietness of your own mind and heart you can respond to God calling you to Himself.

Being made in the image of God means you have unlimited potential. Start with the biggest deposit of gold ever reported, in the headwaters of the Busang River in the steaming jungle of Borneo. The Canadian company Bre-X Minerals Ltd. didn't know about that when it bought rights to the site in 1993. But after Bre-X hired a high-living geologist to map the ore body, the deposit, along with the fever dreams that accompany gold, grew to monster size—by March 1997 that geologist was talking about a 200-million-ounce resource. You do the math at, say US$500 per ounce. The potential had several parties trying to get in on the action. Unfortunately within months the gold deposit was discovered to be bogus and it affected the whole gold industry for years. The potential in the ground turned out to be nothing at all.
Now take you. You are created by a personal God. He is the God that created the earth and the universe. You have that power available within you. You were not just created as an object, but created in His image to have relationship with Him. Your potential is not based on who you are or were; or your performance today or in the past. It is based on who God is. He has created you with unique gifts and a place in the church to serve. He has pursued you through the years for a very specific purpose, and continues to pursue when you turn aside and continues to support when you are on the right track. What does it take to change the world. It takes God; but the greatest thing about God is He wants to use you and I to do it.
You get in relationship with Him, and learn how to listen to Him and how to walk in obedience, then there is nothing you can’t do. In days gone by waters parted, men stood unburnt in the midst of fire, had years added to their lives, were healed and saved from sickness and enemies. You may have issues and people say you can’t do anything, but if God wants you to the unthinkable, you had better begin to think it because He is that big. He used a donkey to correct Balaam. He used a prostitute to model forgiveness. He used a self-righteous church leader to give us the most popular verse in the Gospels. He used a shepherd to slay a giant. He used a slave to prepare a nation for a 7 year famine. He used fishermen and tax collectors to found His church. What is He saying to you? I was reminded this past weekend that we can and need to take responsibility for who we are. You want to grow in Christ? Don’t just wait for the right church program to run, or a church leader to drag you to the alter. Go after it. You can do it. Paul said he could do all things through Jesus who strengthens him. So can you.

Being made in the image of God means you are loved. Earlier in our Scripture reading we read the truth that at our worst Jesus loved us more than anything - more than heaven, more than His rightful place there, more than the comfort and perfectness of God’s presence. He gave all that up just so you would know that Jesus loves you. Romans 8 starts with these words: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Do you hear that? Jesus said that to the woman caught in adultery. He asked who condemned her, and there was no one. Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Jonah had a very specific message from God and yet He ran the opposite way, and God still loved Him and used Him. David committed adultery and murder and struggled with pride; but he was the apple of God’s eye. Job suffered tremendous calamity and loss, yet God met him in his need, and Job found grace and blessing. Peter had words that denied Jesus and words that were quick to hurt and pursue pride; but Jesus restores him not just to ministry but as head of the church in Jerusalem. Paul had little patience for the people around him, but took the Gospel to the Gentiles, to you and I.
Do you then dare think that you are beyond God’s notice? Do you think that in you the Creator has made junk or garbage? Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t buy that bag of goods that says that because you are the most important thing in the world to God. You were made in His image. You have the imprint of awesomeness in your life, on your soul. If you need God to quicken your spirit, if you need to be raised from the spiritual grave or rescued from coasting so far away you begin to question how real He is, spend some time in His presence and at the very core of who you are you will know you are loved. He has promised again and again that He will never leave you nor forsake you. You have a Friend that sticks closer than a brother regardless of your circumstances. Romans 8 closes with these words: “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Being made in the likeness of God means you are a warrior. You see depictions of warriors and soldiers on the news, in books, and in the movies. We have this sense of heroes, of people going beyond the normal and accomplishing something remarkable, even unthinkable. An autistic 10 year old boy saved his teacher’s life this past week by doing the Heimlich maneuver when she choked on an apple. There’s a part in most of us that at times has daydreamed about being the hero. In Jesus, you are. You are clad with the armour of God and you take the battle to “the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” You can stand when all around you people are failing because eternity is in your heart, and the power of God is in your life. You have not been given a spirit of timidity or fear, but of power and love and of discipline. You can be that hero who stands in the storm, because you were made in the image of God. Pursue the knowledge and skills you need to understand your uniqueness in Jesus. Draw close to God and be filled with the Spirit. Don’t settle for mediocrity but pursue God with all your heart and soul and mind, and just see what He will do through you.

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