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DEVELOPING GODLY CHARACTER

“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.” 2 Peter 1:5-10

How many are pursuing godliness in their walk with the Lord? How many are satisfied with just knowing that God’s grace will get them to heaven? Do we hunger and thirst for righteousness? In the world hunger and thirst isn’t a good thing. It brings suffering. But to hunger and thirst for righteousness and godliness, is to immediately be filled. And it is even satisfying to hunger and thirst more and more, because until we get to that place of hunger, we are not able to be satisfied with His righteousness. As soon as we do…He is there to fill it.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Matt. 5:3,6

Do you know how poor you are? Do you know how greatly you are in need of His righteousness?

The first step to developing godly character is to realize one’s need for it. To hunger and thirst for God to be all in you and to see that your flesh can never be godly.

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot, I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent.” Rev. 3:15-19

The Laodecean church didn’t understand their spiritual poverty. They didn’t know they needed to hunger and thirst for God. If you are dry and just do not have that hunger and thirst as you know you should….that is actually the first step…acknowledging that fact, and asking God to fill you with a hunger and thirst. Come to Him daily for it and sit before His Word asking Him to give you once again that hunger and thirst. He will!

So getting back to 2 Peter 1:5-10, how do we “add to our faith godliness, etc.”? How do these characteristics become more and more a part of our Christian life? Godliness (Godlikeness) is of God. It is never of our selves. We cannot ever in our flesh, no matter how self-disciplined, or no matter how much we strive, produce godliness (Godlikeness). We may become very good at some things, or very disciplined at some things, but that is different than godliness. If we could produce godliness in our selves, we would not need the Holy Spirit to indwell us. We could all just live up to the law and be saved by it. But God sent Jesus because we could not. He gave us His Spirit because we could not. Godliness only comes through God Himself indwelling and filling and controlling our lives. The more yielded we are to Him and dead to self, the more godly character is able to be formed in us. The more we see that we can’t…the more we are able to find that He can. The more we see our lack…the more we cry out to Him to fill it and be our sufficiency. And when we come to that place, He does fill it, and not before. As long as you are striving in your flesh to “ add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love,” you will never reach the true godly character that is pure and undefiled, that only comes from the Holy Spirit.

God begins to work this in us by showing us our lack. At first we see our lack so greatly that we wonder if we could even be a real Christian! We seem to always fall short and suddenly see that we just can’t live up to these attributes. We fail in them again and again. If you are seeing this in yourself, take heart. It means God is graciously showing you so that He can work them in you. Your part is to acknowledge and confess and agree with God about your failings and falling short in this, and to surrender, (by your will, not your feelings), to Him, and then to trust Him to work in you this godliness, in childlike faith. As you do, you will begin to notice that you are being tested all the more to put these godly attributes in to practice. Again and again you will have circumstances and experiences that will test you. Each time you are to acknowledge that there is no good thing in your flesh and ask God to give you His grace to obey in surrendering not to the flesh, but to virtue and self control, and perseverance, and godliness, and kindness, and brotherly love. Each time we are to draw on the power of the Holy Spirit for these.

When a baby learns to walk, he first learns to pull himself up holding onto a piece of furniture. Then gradually he learns to hold on and walk around the furniture. Eventually he gets brave enough to let go and take one step. With the first few steps, there is more falling then success. But just watch that baby get up again and again, undaunted by his failure and keep trying. If God had not put that in the child he probably would have given up the first time he fell and got hurt, and never learned to walk. When we experience failure in our learning to walk a godly walk, we must also persevere, and not give up. It is our calling and purpose to pursue godliness. It is our assurance from God that He is able to give it, and work it in us. It is in learning to die to self and trust Him to be our life that we become godly in Christ Jesus.

Let us remember that all the circumstances in our life are for this purpose as believers…to conform us to godliness. We are being made into the image of Christ. So instead of running away from those trials, let us remember how we are admonished from the Word when they come, because they are working in us something more precious than we will ever understand here on this side of eternity.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Rom. 8:28-29

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 1:6-7

James 1:2-4

We can be sure that godliness will not be worked in us if we fill our minds and hearts with everything but His Word. As we daily expose ourselves to the written Word, it becomes living in us, only as we believe it, understand it, meditate on it, and yield to it, applying it to our lives by God’s grace.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Rom. 12:1,2

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Heb. 4:12-13

Come before His light daily, so that the light may expose all in you that may be tested and tried against His Holy Word. This is sometimes painful, but in the end, is life, godliness, and healing. What is the alternative? Can you ever hide from His truth? You only hide it from yourself. Instead, let it have its way in you to bring you into conformity with Him. Let His Word set you free!

Remember….the more filled with His Word you are…the more filled with Him you are!

Abba, I come before your throne of grace and mercy asking for Your Word to speak to our hearts, and cleanse us, fill us anew with power to live godly in Christ Jesus, as You would have us. Give us understanding and insight in all Your ways, that your Word may be formed in us…Your Living Word…Jesus. My Your Word richly fill us as we walk with you and admonish one another ….”Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Col. 3:16

Amen……..so be it!


THE FULLNESS OF THE GODHEAD IN YOU

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power. In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ. Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickended together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” Colossians 2:6-13

What a chapter! Please read the entire chapter of Colossians 2. There is a treasure there just waiting for you to open and find.

Last week I talked about developing Godly character. This week I want to emphasize that Godly character comes from God, not from man. This flesh of ours can never become Godly. It will always be corrupt. That’s why Paul told us in 1 Cor. 15:53 that “this corruptible must put on incorruption”. And that is why he tells us here in Col. 2 that in Christ we have been circumcised….put off the body of sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ. Trying to improve on our flesh to become Godly is to live as though “uncircumcised”. But in Christ, we put off the flesh.

Note verse 6, that the same way we came to Christ (by grace through faith), we are also to walk in Him, being rooted and built up in Him and established in faith.

Walking in Him…….the One who has all the fullness of the Godhead. It is only in Him that we have fullness and are complete. Faith (that leaning of the entire human personality on Him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), trusting He Himself to be our life…His life itself filling us and keeping us, and working all in us…being rooted in that. I think of a strong tall tree living next to the water, with long, deep roots, planted deeply into the soil, holding onto the tree and nourishing it by drinking deeply from the living water flowing by and the rich nourishment in the soil. What a picture of our Christian life!

“And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].” Ps. 1:3 (amplified Bible)

But let us beware….we can be “spoiled” through philosophy and vain deceit of men. There are so many philosophies of life out there; yes even within the body of Christ! So many that are not of Christ. There are philosophies on how to self improve. There are some on how to love ourselves more. There are some on how to even be better Christians, but as good as they may sound, they are not God’s way, but man’s way of self improvement.

We may, by striving to live good lives, become a better person in man’s eyes…and to some degree that is commendable, but we will never attain Godliness, except through the fullness of the Godhead. That fullness must dwell within us. We must abide in that fullness, drink deeply from that fullness, and trust completely, in child-like faith, in that fullness.

Notice also verse 13. “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him…” And note also it is “through the faith of the operation of God.”

Through our being united with Christ in His death, we are also united with Him in His resurrection. Remember the power displayed that rose Christ from the dead? The earth shook and the stone was rolled away. The body of Christ was raised again! That same power is the power in us to quicken us, to bring us back to life from the deadness of our sins, and give us a new life…the fullness of the Godhead…dwelling in us! He does more than dwell…He quickens us, He gives us new life, He lives in us causing us to will and to do of His good pleasure, enabling us to live Godly lives (Eph. 1:18-20). Yes…He becomes our very life. “In Him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28

Most of our problems in trying to live a Christian life come because we live as though we don’t have the Holy Spirit in us at all. We don’t really believe He will do anything in us and we act as though we have to do it all. Jesus saved us from our sin, forgave us, justified us, now it’s up to us to live the best we can and try not to sin anymore. No! The Christian life is to be lived the same way we came to Him. That was only the start. We are to come by faith and walk by faith, continuing by faith daily trusting in the new life (His Spirit) that He gave us. We are to daily “be filled” with the Holy Spirit. This is a command. We simply need to ask and surrender in faith to Him.

Abba Father, I pray that You will help us each day to live in Christ, just as we came to Him…trusting that there is nothing we can do in ourselves to save us…trusting completely in the power of Your fullness in us to do all in us, and be our life. Remind us to drink deeply from Your living water each day, and not from the things of this world and it’s deceptive philosophies to sustain us. Be our very life, Lord Jesus! Dwell in us, and make it clear to the world that we are Your children.


WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH

What is worship to you? Is it a certain form, ritual, or method? Or is it a personal time of intimacy between you and the Lord. I've heard many arguments about what the right way to worship God is, in my life.

And so it sounds as though the woman at the well did also. She said to Jesus, "Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship."

But Jesus answered her.."Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth."

What is worship?

According to my Bible dictionary....honor, reverence, and homage paid to...when given to God, involves acknowledgement of divine perfections; Four stages of development in the bible: patriarchs worshipped by building altars and sacrificing (Gen. 12:7,8; 13:4); organized worship in Temple ritual, with complex ritual and system of sacrifices; synagogue, which began during exhile; Christian, consisting of preaching (Acts 20:7), reading of Scripture (James 1:22), prayer (1 Tim. 2:8), singing (Eph. 5:19), baptism and Lord's supper (Acts 2:41; 1 cor. 11:18-34), and almsgiving (1 Cor. 16:1,2).

Webster's definition: Intense love or admiration

Strong's: Hebrew: Shachah; a prim. root; to depress, i.e. prostrate (espec. reflex. in homage to royalty or God):-bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship.

Greek (as used in John 4:24), Proskuneo: from 4314 and a prob. der. of 2965 (mean. to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand); to fawn or crouch to. i.e. (lit. or fig.) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore):-worship.

True worship, in spirit and truth then, appears to be a giving up of oneself. There is no selfishness in it. It is a "bowing down of self".

No true worship can take place unless one has first come to the cross and left their self life (their corrupt, self honoring, human nature) there at the cross, and recieved the Spirit life, which Christ Himself puts in us, then, as we surrender our hearts in faith to Him there.

There can be no worship in "spirit" if we have not the Spirit of God in us; not the kind Jesus described here in John 4:24.

Matthew Henry's commentary: Note, It is required of all that worship God that they worship him in spirit and in truth. We must worship God, [a.] In spirit, Phil. 3:3. We must depend upon God’s Spirit for strength and assistance, laying our souls under his influences and operations; we must devote our own spirits to, and employ them in, the service of God (Rom. 1:9), must worship him with fixedness of thought and a flame of affection, with all that is within us. Spirit is sometimes put for the new nature, in opposition to the flesh, which is the corrupt nature; and so to worship God with our spirits is to worship him with our graces, Heb. 12:28. [b.] In truth, that is, in sincerity. God requires not only the inward part in our worship, but truth in the inward part, Ps. 51:6. We must mind the power more than the form, must aim at God’s glory, and not to be seen of men; draw near with a true heart, Heb. 10:22.

Why do we need to worship?

I asked the Lord one day, why must people worship You? I believe what came to me at that moment was His Spirit speaking to my heart...that He gives us the privilege of worshipping Him so He can reveal His glory to us.

"Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You choose and cause to come near, that he may dwell in Your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple." Ps. 65:4 (amplified)

We have the awesome privilege of worshipping a God who truly is worthy! Who, alone, is truly God, and all He says He is. As we worship Him, we are focused on His attributes and He reveals Himself to us. It is an intimate interaction in our spirits. The more we worship, the more of Him we see, and the more we want to worship and adore, and love Him. We delight in Him and find His presence in worship and find joy in Him. We become a holy temple filled with praises to our Saviour who is delighted to dwell in us.

We worship Him because He is worthy. We don't worship because we feel good about ourselves, our spirituality, or even our walk; or because we are happy. We worship Him because of who He is. Even though we are not worthy to worship Him, He is worthy to be worshipped. As we give up ourselves to worship, He reveals His grace to us.

Worship is a presenting of our whole person...body, mind, and spirit to God, considering ourselves no more our own person, but belonging entirely to our Maker and Saviour of our souls. It is expressed in obedience with all of our heart to Him.

"I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship." (amplified Bible) Rom. 12:1

When we do so there are blessings in abiding in His presence.

"Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are those who dwell in Your house and Your presence; they will be singing Your praises all the day long.

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion." Ps. 84:4-5

"One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful lovliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple." Ps. 27:4 (amplified)

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]." Ps. 91:1 (amplified)

If you are weighed down with the problems in your life take your eyes off them for a bit...gaze on the Lord, and who He is, His attributes, perfect in holiness, perfect in love, perfect in wisdom, perfect in goodness and mercy...etc., dwell on His grace and His power, His blessings and provisions in Your life. Tell Him how worthy He is...how good He is. Love and adore Him and sing songs of praise to Him. Read the psalms and praise with them. Let the Lord delight in Your praises.

A Christian life without worship and intimate interraction with God is like a marriage with no intimacy...Very dry and empty. Serving God becomes a hard thing, like serving a husband and taking care of his needs would be a hard thing without that expression of love between them.

Dear Lord, I worship You right now for all that You are. Thank You for Your perfect, awesome beauty. Thank You that You love us enough to put a little of that in our hearts, so others can see You and partake also. Even a small glimpse of who You are in our hearts is so beyond what I can fathom! And one day we will see You as You are, and be like You. How awesome!!!


WHAT GOD DESIRES MOST

What do you suppose is the greatest thing in your life, that could ever please God? What's the thing He looks for the most in His children...the greatest beauty?

If we are His children, we all want to know that...how we can be the most pleasing to Him.

Is it how much we pray and go to church meetings, and how often we read our Bible or how much we give to the poor, or how many ministries we are involved in? Is it that we do all we can to keep our lives clean from the world? Is it that we can dance and sing before the Lord and praise Him loudly? All these may be good, but what is in the heart that God searches for?

Here are some verses that can help us to understand.

Heb. 11:6 (amlified Bible).."But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. for whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]."

1 Peter 3:4 (amplified)..."But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God."

Mark 10:15 (KJV).."Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein."

Isa. 30:15 "For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not."

Nothing is more pleasing to God than a quiet, gentle, child-like faith, that takes Him at His Word and simply trusts Him. There are times, as Christians we try so hard to earn from God what is already ours. We labor to please Him under our own works, because of unbelief and are not able to enter into His rest for our souls. How it grieves Him that you won't trust Him and all He has done, and the love He freely gives you! But instead think to somehow earn it, or work to make yourself more right in His eyes, or more loved by Him, as if you ever could!

You couldn't do one single thing greater than to surrender to that perfect, undeserved love, in quiet trust, casting your whole self and faith on Who He is, and what He has already done for you and is able to do in you...even as you realize your unworthiness, all the more clinging to and trusting Him alone to be your righteousness.

When we are no longer striving He delights in us, and He has a resting place for us. A place where we are at rest from our own works, and He is delighting in us, and our faith in Him. In fact He rests in His love for us because it is complete.

Zep 3:17 .."The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing."

Yes, the Lord delights and rejoices in your faith!

Have you found that rest?

Take a look at Heb. 3 and 4. Just take a second to read it. God had delivered Israel from Egypt's bondage. He wanted them to enter into the promised land, by faith in Him, trusting that just as He had delivered them from Egypt, He would bring them safely into the promised land. They thought they would have to take it by their own strength and because of their unbelief they were not able to enter.

It's the same in us. God alone has set us free from our bondage of sin. Now we look at the Christian life and think we can live it in our own strength. We think to conquor the flesh, the world, and the devil in our own strength. So many give up, thinking it's too hard. Because of their unbelief they never find God's rest for their souls. They never find that it is possible, and they can do all things through Christ who lives in them and strengthens them. They think that now that God has delivered them, it is up to them to live right and overcome the world and their flesh and obey God. But God never intended anyone to work for righteousness, but to enter into His rest from their works, and by trusting in His indwelling Spirit alone, to live the Christian life.

"Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." Heb. 3:10-12

"For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His." Heb. 4:10

The Word must be mixed with faith when we hear it. If we hear it, receive it and believe it, acting on it in our lives we are able to take His promises and rest in them and all He did for us. When we don't...well...

"Hearing alone is of as little value as undigested food in a bad stomach." From Jameison, Faucett, and Brown commentary on Heb. 4:2

"For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."

When we truly find that rest and enter into it, ceasing our own works, we are able, by the Spirit He has given us, who works in us to will and do of His good pleasure, (Phil. 2:13), to live for Christ and do His works. There is no other way to please Him, but by resting in Him and trusting in the power of His Spirit to do all in us and through us. Even while we work for Him, we rest, trusting in Him.

This is the only life that is pleasing to God...the life of rest, trusting in Him completely.

Our Lord, we come to You knowing that we are helpless to live this Christian life and be pleasing to You in our own strength in any way. We ask You to fill us with that quiet and gentle, trusting Spirit that is so beautiful in Your eyes. Help us to labor only to enter that rest in You. (Heb. 4:11) "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief."


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