as-in-a-mirror

Today’s Scripture:  (2 Corinthians 3:18, KJV)

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Introduction:

Greetings Christlike Ministries NWA Family, and welcome to the ninth message of this 30 message series from Oswald Chambers legendary devotional “My Utmost for His Highest”.

I have really enjoyed this series.  I’ve since found that I was a bit too eager when it came to what I thought I was going to be able to write and maintain proper balance to everything else in my life.  That balance now includes being a stay at home dad for the time being, and having to give some of my extra time to seeking another employment opportunity.

I’ve also had the Lord want me to take a few breaks along the way just to be sure that when I write I’m writing out of the anointing, and not out of an obligation to write so that we stay on track.  We’ve lost a few days since this series started, but when the Holy Ghost says take a break…how many of you know…you take a break!?!

Well, I’m not going to bore you with anymore introduction stuff…let’s get into today’s message…and see what God would have to say to us about being “Transformed By Beholding”.

Today’s Message:  “Transformed By Beholding”

A little unknown fact is that 2 Corinthians 3:18 is  the secondary foundational scripture for Christlike Ministries NWA.  I mean it goes right along with Romans 8:29.  For those of you who don’t know where “conformed to the image of His Son” comes from…now you do…it comes from Romans 8:29.  However, how many of you know that we’re transformed into the image of His son step by step, faith to faith, and as 2 Corinthians 3:18 says…from glory to glory.

In other words, the Christian walk requires a maturation process just like our normal lives do.  We all start as babies, and then day by day we grow.  The older we get, the more we learn, and that’s one thing I get to see day by day with the progress of my daughter who is nearing 6 months old now.

Here’s the point.  How many of you know my daughter can do things now that she couldn’t do when she was first-born?  How many of you know that in another 6 months, my daughter will be able to do things she isn’t able to do now?  That’s how the Christian life works as well.  There are things I don’t do now that I did several years ago…one of them being this ministry.  There are things I do now that I’m hoping that God will help me to grow out of by this time next year.

The point here being is that we’re always growing and learning whether in life, in our careers, as parents, or in our walk with God…and I believe that those who remain humble enough to understand they don’t know everything are the ones who may not always look like they have it together…but they have the one thing that keeps them teachable…they’re humble.

Have you ever met prideful Christians who think they know all there is to know?  Some of them preach from pulpits.  Listen, I can see myself just as humble if I’m blessed to be doing this for 20 years as I am going into my second.  You will never read or hear me say that I know all there is to know about living the Christian life…because the truth is I don’t…and that’s really not my desire.  My desire is to know God…not know of God.  I want to have that kind of relationship with God that I wind up being like Enoch. (Yes, that’s a rapture reference).

Anyways, 2 Corinthians 3:18 is one of the scriptures that I’ve founded this ministry upon…well…that God gave me to found this ministry on.  And I’m excited to see what I can learn from this message…so let’s get into it and see what Mr. Chambers has to say…

The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish that mirror in you. It is almost always something good that will stain it—something good, but not what is best.

Let’s be honest.  Can you talk to God in a way that you can’t talk to anyone else?  Can you talk to God about things that you can’t and don’t talk to anyone else about?  This is the kind of trust and faith that God wants us to have in Him…the kind where we will trust Him to talk to Him about any and every thing…even the things that we won’t talk to anyone about whether that’s our spouses, our parents, our closest friends, or even counselors.

I mean, I talk to God about stuff that I have never or will never share with anyone other than Him.  I know that’s going to rub some people the wrong way, but the truth is that during those eleven years between the call and the embracing of that call…there were a lot of times that all I had was God.  How many of you know that if all you have in life is God…you have all you need!?!

I remember many a night walking down by Lake Michigan  late at night when it was just me and God.  No one else.  I was talking about this a little bit earlier in something I wrote about praying without ceasing.  I learned to really trust God in those eleven years.  The thing I’ve learned the most about Him is that He keeps everything that you talk to Him about between you and Him.  He’s not going to blubber to your friends or His friends.  He’s not going to gossip about you.

This shoots some holes into those people who are always coming up to you talking about how God told them to tell you this, that, and the other thing.  Now, I’m not going to dispute that God talks to other people about you, but what I’m going to say is that the majority of the time when God is talking to me about you it’s because He wants me to see something that you do that He either does or doesn’t want me to do.  Yes, I know that God will some times give people a word of knowledge for you…but generally speaking…at least in my personal experience…when God talks to you…its about YOU.

I can’t tell you how many times someone has come up to me to give me the old “God told me this about you”, and as that person is speaking God’s talking to me to say that what that person is about to say isn’t from Him at all.”

The bottom line is that stuff that you’re holding inside thinking that there’s no one that you can talk to about them because the would judge you, they wouldn’t understand, or whatever the reason…those are the things you can and should talk to God about…and know that God’s not only not going to judge you or gossip to someone about you…but that He loves you…and that He wants you to trust Him with the most intricate and intimate details of your life.

In the end, the truth is He already knows every detail of your life so there isn’t anything that you’re going to talk to Him about that’s going to take Him by surprise or that He’s not going to be able to help you with.

No matter what those things are…those are the things that Jesus invites us to exchange.  Those are the cares that we can cast upon Him…and if we can get to a place where we trust Him with the deepest, darkest things…we then can allow the light of Jesus Christ to show us the way to defeat those things…Amen!?!

The most important rule for us is to concentrate on keeping our lives open to God. Let everything else including work, clothes, and food be set aside. The busyness of things obscures our concentration on God. We must maintain a position of beholding Him, keeping our lives completely spiritual through and through.

This is what I was getting at.  Listen, if we can’t trust God with the most intricate and intimate details of our lives…how in the world can we truly trust people?  Friends, before I could start to be honest with anyone else about anything is that I first had to learn to be honest with myself and with God.  I mean that.

For much of my life I wasn’t a very honest person, and a lot of that had to do with the fact that not only did I not trust people…I didn’t trust myself.  I can remember when I couldn’t hardly look at myself in the mirror, and we all know that the Bible is some times referenced as a mirror.

Look, I told you back when this series began that there was a time that I didn’t like the person that I saw looking back at me when I looked in the mirror.  I mean that both with the literal mirror, and the mirror of the Word of God.  You do know that the Bible is likened to a mirror?

You don’t?  What does 2 Corinthians 3:18 say?  It says: “with open face beholding as in a glass…”.  Would you like to see that verse translated in a different version?

And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever-increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18, Amplified)

I think part of the reason we have such a hard time making a disciplined effort to read the Bible on a regular basis is because we find ourselves looking into this Mirror…and not liking the image looking back at us.

I once heard Pastor Stephen Robbins teach on this verse, and specifically when he broke down what it really means to behold an image.  Let me just say that I’ve never forgotten that illustration because he used me as his unknowing volunteer.

Close your eyes and try to imagine this as I do the best I can to describe what this was like.

As he was talking about what it means to behold…or what the Bible means when it’s talking about beholding this image is back in Bible times they didn’t have cellphones and cameras…so what they did to remember their loved ones or significant others or children’s faces is that they would take their hands…and literally behold their face.  It goes far beyond just staring at someone’s face.  You’re taking in every wrinkle, every thing…and can I just tell you that I can still see my pastor’s face today.  I can even remember the expression of seriousness on his face…and that sermon was probably seven or eight years ago.

What’s the point…this is how we’re supposed to study the Word of God…like a man beholding his natural face in a mirror.  After all, the Word of God is a mirror…and we have to be careful because as I found out…you might not like the reflection.  Oh, friend, but God can take that ugly reflection and turn it into something that’s easier on the eye when you give your heart and life to Christ.

I still don’t always like what I see when I look in the mirror.  I’ve gotten older, I’ve gained quite a bit of weight, and I don’t have quite the defined muscle mass I once had.  But, friend…there’s a much better reflection staring back at me when I look in the Word of God then there was a couple of years ago…and that’s the proof to me that I’m growing from glory to glory…I can see it.

Let other things come and go as they will; let other people criticize us as they will; but never allow anything to obscure the life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. This is an easy thing to allow, but we must guard against it.

Never allow anything to obscure the life that “is hidden with Christ in God”.

You know, ministry is one of those jobs that no one notices until you do or say something that rubs people the wrong way.  They seldom let you know when you’re preaching (or in my case writing) good, but they’ll be quick to point out something that you said that was either wrong or offensive to them.

I’ve had a lot of people come and go over the last two years, and the one thing I’ve come to realize is that people are always going to get offended because of the Word of God.  Look at the people who came and went when Jesus was preaching and teaching IN PERSON!

I would like to think that I would’ve been one of those people who would’ve had enough sense to follow Him everywhere He went and listened to every word He said…but the truth is…I wouldn’t be.  I know that because I don’t always follow Him everywhere He goes and listen to every word He says now.  I’d like to think that I wouldn’t walk away offended or angry, but I just told you that there was a time when I looked in the Word of God…and I didn’t like what I saw…so what did I do?  I turned and walked away.

I spent eleven years wandering in the wilderness of my own Exodus, friends. Not all of that time was used wisely or was I serving God with it.  There was a lot of time in those eleven years that I was worse than the prodigal son.  Not only did I go off and do my own thing, but I must have enjoyed living in the pig pen of life because I stayed there for a LONG time…it took me a LONG time before I came to my senses and realized that I didn’t belong in the pig pen…I belonged with the King…and I BELONGED TO THE KING.

I think I’m the kind of person now that would be smart enough like Peter that when Jesus turned to ask if I was going to leave too that I’d be smart enough to recognize that while I might not like everything Jesus says…it’s the truth, it’s right, and it’s life.

Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. This is an easy thing to allow, but we must guard against it.

I’ve never met Mr. Chambers, but I swear he wrote this part just for me.  Some of that eleven year period (and even some times today) I can find myself stuck in that hurried lifestyle.

The very first thing that God taught me through Elisabeth’s birth was that I needed to eliminate some of the distractions, readjust my priorities, and slow down to enjoy life a little more.  Until she was born I had no idea that my life was in such a hurried mess, but the two weeks that I had off from work was just the beginning of the lessons God would and has been teaching me through the short time my daughter’s been here.

As I write this message I’m able to reflect a little on how busy last year was, and how easy it is (as Oswald writes) to allow the cares of the world to consume us.  We found out just before Christmas last year that we were going to be welcoming Elisabeth into our family, and with a few things happening where I worked…I can honestly say that last year was a blur.  I don’t really remember anything from last year other than most of it was spent worried about my route at work…whether I was at work or home.

By the time Elisabeth was born in August I had no idea just how worn out, worn down, and out of balance my life was.  I had no idea just how out of whack my priorities were.  I also had no idea that God’s voice was getting harder and harder to hear over the clutter of all that was going on…and as I sat one night looking at my sweet little girl…it hit me that I had become so busy that even Martha would’ve had to tell me to slow down.

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This is the moment that I realized that all that hurrying didn’t do anything for me.  This is the moment that I realized all that I thought was important…wasn’t…and the things I took for granted were the ones that were important.  This is the moment God re-arranged my priorities, and today there are few things more important to me then this little girl.

The most important thing in life, friends, is finding that time to sit at the feet of Jesus.  I have to admit that I’ve kind of failed at the 21 day challenge of sitting at Jesus’ feet, but the good thing about God is that if you fail…you can get back up and try again.

I’ve got a couple of challenges that I would like us to do, and I will tell you about them at the end of this message…which is coming shortly because we’re about to the point where I allow Mr. Chambers to have the last words.

It’s important, friends, to sit at the feet of Jesus because out of that time at His feet flows the rest and comes the ability to balance our lives and keep things in their proper place.

With that said, I believe it’s time to give Mr. Chambers the last word, and close this message.  I have some worship music on, and I can hear Him saying “come to the feet of the Lord”…and so I’m going to…right after Mr. Chambers says this…

The most difficult lesson of the Christian life is learning how to continue “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord . . . .”

Let’s Pray:

O Lord, I look to you so utterly that I am worse than useless without You. Be made wisdom and discernment and understanding unto me today.

In Closing:

So, I said that I have a couple of challenges that I’d like us to do together, and I’m going to start them tomorrow.  Here’s the challenges.

  1. A minimum of 15 minutes a day for the next 21 days of doing nothing but sitting at the feet of Jesus.  That means turning of the phones, the televisions, and all other distractions for a minimum of 15 minutes a day.  So, that starts tomorrow Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at midnight and runs to Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 11:59pm
  2. Also starting Wednesday, January 29, 2014 and going through Wednesday, February 27, 2014…I am going to accept the Listen to Nothing But Christian Music for 30 Days challenge from The K-Love Radio Station.

I would like to encourage and invite you to take these challenges with me, and I’d also like to encourage you to journal about your experience with it.  Now, I want to clarify that I’m not doing the 30 Day music challenge to win an iPad, but because I want to grow closer to God.  In fact, I haven’t even signed up to do the challenge…I’ve just decided that starting tomorrow I’m going to commit myself to doing this…and I’m also going to try to journal what happens as a result.

So, who is with me?  Anyone else going to take these two challenges?  I know I’m going to complete them whether you join me or not because the truth is…at the end of the day I still have to work on and maintain my own walk with God…and I just thought this would be a fun way for us to do that together.

Well, I believe that’s all for today.  I hope you’re enjoying this series as much as I am.  I know there’s still a lot of errors in these messages, but I hope you’re able to get the gist of what I’m saying…and more importantly I hope you’re hearing what the Holy Ghost is saying to your heart.

God bless you and thank you for being a part of the Christlike Ministries NWA family. I truly love and am thankful for all of you.

Bryan J. Kizer
Pastor/Founder Christlike Ministries NWA

| m: (479)899-7853 | e: christlikeministriesarkansas@yahoo.com | w: http://www.christlikeministriesnwa.com

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