Categories
The Holy Spirit

Whatcha Looking At?

But we all, seeing the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord.(2 Corinthians 3:18)

I’ve read that dog owners start to look like their dogs after a while. I’ve also heard that long-married husbands and wives start to look alike, but I don’t think I believe that one. However, I know from the Scripture that if we focus on the face of Jesus, we will become like Jesus.

Here’s C. S. Lewis’s take on this: “If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into…a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly his own boundless power and delight and goodness.”

God intends to transform us. When we accepted Jesus, we were changed, but that was just the beginning. As we continue in our faith journey, we are transformed more and more into the likeness and image of Jesus.

There are no exceptions—everyone who has been saved is in the process of being transformed. For some, the transformation is in quick, dramatic increments. For others, the changes are slow and gradual. Some take a step backward before taking three steps forward. But in the end—do not doubt it—we shall be like Jesus.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, that as we behold the glory of Christ we are transformed more and more into his image. And he reminds us of the Holy Spirit’s role in this transformation. We are being transformed into the image of Jesus by the “Spirit of the Lord.” Through the transformative work of the Holy Spirit, we move from glory, to more glory, to even more glory, becoming more and more like Jesus.

We can focus on our problems, our failures, our wounds, or our fears and miss what the Holy Spirit wants to do in our lives. Or we can focus on the glory of Jesus. Choose carefully. What we focus on shapes our lives.

How amazing is it that we will be transformed into the image of the Son of God? Yes, it’s OK to stop reading and do a little happy dance right now! We will be like Jesus! How much must God love us? And he doesn’t command us to go on a perilous quest in order to become like Jesus. He doesn’t demand millions of dollars from us. We aren’t required to bungee jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. (Thank you, Jesus!) All God asks of us is that we keep our focus on Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to do his work in our lives.

Do you hear his voice now? He’s saying, Child, just fix your eyes on the glory of Jesus, and I’ll do the rest.

We’ve already heard from C. S. Lewis. How about a little Max Lucado, too? “The Wizard of Oz says look inside yourself and find yourself. God says look inside yourself and find the Holy Spirit. The first will get you to Kansas. The latter will get you to heaven. Take your pick.”

I don’t need to find myself and I’m not interested in eternity in Kansas. I’m picking the Holy Spirit and heaven. How about you?

Dear God, I am so thankful for the glory of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit that daily makes me more like Christ. Let me move from glory to glory as I fix my eyes on the face of my Savior, until one day I am in your presence in heaven. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Categories
The Holy Spirit

Led by the Holy Spirit

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirits leading in every part of our lives.” (Galatians 5:25)

The Holy Spirit is like mission control—he influences every area of our lives. He gradually leads us to be more and more like Jesus. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are changed from the inside out.

As we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, our lives produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These changes on the inside result in changed attitudes and actions on the outside. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, we often try to change our behavior on our own but fail because our hearts haven’t changed.

The Holy Spirit changed Peter from the inside out. Remember in Matthew 26, when Jesus was arrested? Peter didn’t handle it well. He warmed himself at the enemy’s fire. He lied and claimed he didn’t know Jesus. He cursed the crowd and swore at them. His heart was full of fear and his actions revealed the fear in his heart. The chapter ends with Peter weeping bitter tears.

Fast forward to Acts 2:1-4. All the believers were gathered together when suddenly they heard what sounded like a strong windstorm in the room. Everyone in the meeting was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” With the Holy Spirit in his life, Peter was transformed.

No longer afraid, Peter, led by the Holy Spirit, stepped in front of a large crowd and shouted out the message of Jesus. Instead of a fearful, “You’re crazy, I never knew him,” he boldly declared, “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” The Holy Spirit moved Peter from fearful to dauntless.

Peter’s words were anointed by the Holy Spirit and, as he spoke, the Holy Spirit began to convict the hearts of those listening. You know, conviction gets a bad rap sometimes. Holy Spirit conviction is not like a criminal conviction. It’s more like when you think it’s time to teach your kids to tie their shoes or quit wearing diapers. It’s a loving push that says, “It’s time to do better. And I’ll help you get there.”

The Holy Spirit convicted and changed the hearts of 3,000 of the people who heard Peter declare Jesus that day. They believed and were baptized. Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, Peter had a part in changing the world.

The Holy Spirit longs to work the same way in our lives today. He wants to change us from the inside out. He wants to guide our steps and anoint our words. He wants to lovingly convict us and help us become more like Jesus. He wants to lead us, anoint us, make us brave, and use us to change the world.

Father, I welcome the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Make me more sensitive to his leading. Help me respond gratefully and faithfully to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Fill my life with the fruits of the Spirit. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Categories
prayer

The Ingredients of Prayer

“Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray…’” (Luke 11:1)

A few years ago, we started celebrating Fridays by making chocolate lava cakes every Friday night. We called them, “Friday Night Cakes,” and they were gooey and sweet and delicious. They were also surprisingly easy to make, only requiring five ingredients. We stirred up the ingredients, put it in the oven, and waited. Eventually, the oven turned those ingredients into a chocolate masterpiece.

We did our part by putting the ingredients together. The oven did its part by turning those ingredients into a cake.

In Luke 11, Jesus gave us the recipe for prayer. Like the Friday Night Cake, the recipe for prayer has five ingredients. When we pray, we put these ingredients together. Then we hand them over to God and we wait. God turns those ingredients into healing, deliverance, freedom, mended relationships, and so much more.

We do our part by putting the ingredients together in prayer. God does his part by turning those ingredients into transformation in our lives.

Interested in knowing the ingredients? They’re taken from the Lord’s Prayer found in Luke 11:1-4. Here they are:

  • Give God Praise and Adoration: “Your name is holy.” God is worthy of praise, regardless of our circumstances. When we exalt God even in the middle of our mess, we bring vision and order into our lives.
  • Seek God’s Will: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done.” For prayer to be effective, it has to line up with the will of God instead reflecting our own selfish desires. These two questions help us align our prayers with God’s will: “God, what do you want to do on earth? What do you want to do in my life?”
  • Put Your Needs in God’s Hands: “Give us day by day our daily bread.” God promises to meet all our needs. Whatever we’re facing, God has a promise for it. He cares about our needs and wants to carry our worries for us, but we have to put them in his hands.
  • Forgive: “For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” Just like sugar sweetens a Friday Night Cake, forgiving others sweetens our lives. We may be super awesome, but we certainly aren’t perfect. We all need forgiveness, and we are all called to freely forgive others. There’s a sweet freedom to be found in forgiving.
  • Ask for Guidance: “Do not lead us into temptation.” Why depend on our own puny intellect when we have access to the infinite wisdom of an all-knowing God? Ask God for guidance, next steps, and direction. If we ask, he will give us the specific answer we need at the exact time we need it.

You have probably heard somebody say, “Prayer changes things,” and that’s true. But prayer doesn’t just change things; thankfully, prayer also changes people. Prayer changes us. Prayer connects us to God. As we continue in prayer, we grow to know God better and he continues to work in our lives. Through the power of prayer, we are gloriously transformed.

Father, I give you honor and praise. I long for your kingdom to come and your will to be done. What do you want to do in the world? What do you want to do in my life? Meet my needs and the needs of my family. Help me be forgiving and lead me in the way you want me to go. In Jesus’s name, amen.