Monday, October 18, 2010

The Face in the Mirror

The Face in the Mirror



“The Face in the Mirror”

Psalm 100:5; Luke 6:41-42; 1 Corinthians 13:12-13

Pastor Tom Millner

October 17, 2010


We’re told clearly in scripture that we’re the object of God’s affection. God finds us “to die for”! Yet, when we look in the mirror, we fail to recognize that loved, justified, redeemed, made whole object of God’s affection. We were created in His image – God is love…

What prevents our reflecting God’s love?

The wildfires a couple of years ago in the Everglades shut down long stretches of I-75 across the Alligator Alley. Visibility was virtually zero, so drivers could not even see the road, much less where they were going. In similar fashion, our vision of God’s love is often obstructed by the smoke around us. The good news is that the smoke comes from us and can therefore be cleared by us. Let’s look at the S.M.O.K.E. that hampers the reflection of God’s love as we were created for and commanded to put into action.

Self absorption –

“I Got to be Me,” “I Did it My Way,” – and loads of other popular songs reflect the degree to which we as a society are so absorbed with self. We are so absorbed with self, in fact, that thousands of people are dying of starvation as we now speak. In case you haven’t noticed, self is our favorite subject. “Well, I’ve talked enough about myself, now tell me what you think of me.” It’s nothing new. Even those closest to Jesus did it. Mark 10:35-37 “Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask."  What do you want me to do for you? he asked.  They replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory." When was the last time you prayed exclusively for someone else and not your own need? How many of you just went to a place of self-condemnation or deprecation over what I said? Get my point? We’re grossly self-absorbed and God is calling us to “surrender, Dorothy…” He’ got you covered! Not only are we self-absorbed, but we also experience…  

Momentary distractions

Often we allow the smallest thing to distract us from the purpose of our mission. It takes a conscious effort to keep ourselves focused on the task at hand. Different personalities react in different ways to events or things that cause distraction – a phone call that can wait - a flattering or not so flattering comment – a person who catches your attention – a perceived need to do something right now! Two weeks ago I was discussing my neurological symptoms with a Neurologist and research director at Duke University when I paused, noticing that he was marking off different blood tests to be performed by the lab. I stopped describing some experiences and said; “I apologize for going on… I’ll wait till you’ve finished what you’re focused on.” Without missing a beat, he continued to check things on his sheet and said; “Oh that’s OK, when I was younger they told me I had A.D.D., now I call it multitasking.”   Luke 10:40 “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’”

Other competing demands

Work, tasks, even ministries, may be the instrument that competes for our attention and thus takes us away from being the reflection of love that God calls us to express. When we re-order our priorities we see more clearly.

Luke 9:59-60 “He said to another man, ‘follow me.’ But the man replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’" First things first! When we read “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind,” we think it so simple. Yet we fail at it miserably. God simply desires to be first in our lives. It is so easy for us to place Him second, third, or tenth in our list of priorities for the moment. It takes effort to make that happen… However, we often see no issue with…

Keeping up with the crowd

Heard the statement – “Just trying to get ahead?” – Some would settle for just keeping up! Keeping up with what? Keeping up with what we think is required to appear as measuring up? Luke 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”  We can’t serve God and everything else that we think makes us measure up. There’s a term I use to describe what goes on in our community. I call it “homosexism.” It’s the belief that everyone has to fit a particular image or persona in order to be acceptable or to measure up. It’s just as damaging as the heterosexism and homophobia that has led to the years of what is now being seen as bullying. It’s a thought process that leads to actions that are lethal for people. We’re better off spending time affirming who Christ says we are in His love than trying to measure up to the faulty and reactionary God of prejudice!!!! Another smoke screen is our…

Ego driven ambition

Ever heard people being described as having a big ego? Can’t confront them, can’t discuss with them – have to have it their way. This is not big ego – its WEAK ego that has to puff itself up in defense of its weakness. It gives way to all kinds of distractions from what God calls us to in love. James 3:16  “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

Getting rid of the smoke allows us to live in God’s reflection more C.L.E.A.R.L.Y. Want to see a different face in the mirror…the real one as Christ sees?

Commit to His will.

Commitment to do God’s will is not always easy nor is it popular. We pray the prayer that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Do we know what that entails? It means an alignment of our will to the will of the one who is love. Jesus said to His disciples that if they loved him, they would obey His command… that command was to love one another. If you seek to follow God’s will for your life, see first the love opportunities set before you each day, each moment. That’s what Jesus did even to the end.  Mark 14:35-36 “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’" We do a great job living to try to make God’s will conform to our desires and wishes as we see them for our benefit. When we strive to understand and live out His will for our lives, we’re pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Had Christ not submitted to the Father’s will, there would have been no propitiation for our sin, no resurrection life…no life in grace and mercy. God has something good for all as the outcome of living in His will.

Look out for love’s opportunities.

We are so consumed by our own important agendas that we often fail to see what is right in front of us.  What to some may seem a bothersome distraction, may well be the opportunity to show God’s love to another person. Our tendency to judge another person by the situation can blind us from the opportunity to love as well. Take for instance the story of the woman caught in adultery. The crowd was eager to condemn and stone her. Jesus, however, saw the opportunity to share God’s love for her. 

John 8:7  “When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’" 1 Corinthians 13, the great love chapter, tells us what love looks like. Let’s begin a love revolution…being the love we seek! We so long to be loved with the passion and compassion of our dreams. God gave us each other to be His face to one another!

Establish a daily pattern of love.

Agape love is love that demands an action. Ever notice how we become creatures of habit, going through the same routines each day, week, or month? Exercising our love of God and for others is best expressed through making it a habit, establishing a pattern of love behaviors. Expressions of love don’t have to be grandiose acts that are noticed. These expressions can be made in the form of prayer. Creating a list of those for whom you will pray each day for a specified period of time – or the ministry you desire to pray for during a specified time frame. A daily pattern of phone calls with a prayer buddy, etc., can go a long way to fulfill the love that someone for whom you are praying desires.

Hebrews 3:12-13 “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.”

Apply the temple principle.

I Corinthians 3:16 “Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?”  The Temple in ancient times was where the Holy of Holies dwelled. Only the High Priest who had offered an acceptable sin offering was allowed into that most holy of places. If God were dwelling now is room 2 over here, how would you approach that room? Remember, in the Tabernacle/Temple, the High Priest went in with a rope tied around his garment that trailed behind him so that if his sacrifice had been unacceptable, the other priests could pull his body out from behind the curtain… Fortunately, God does not dwell in room 2 any more than He dwells in the auditorium. Because of Christ and His atoning love, God now dwells in another holy of holies – our hearts. Our bodies, friends, are the temple of God. Knowing that God now dwells within, how do you think His temple should be cared for?

Respond to God’s calling.

You’ve heard each of us Pastors talk about the calling on our lives to Pastor.  What you haven’t heard a lot about in these words is the calling of God on your life. Did you know that God has a calling on your life? His calling is to be His and His alone. His calling is to love Him and love your neighbor as yourself. His calling came at the time of your acceptance of Him as your Lord and Savior. When you accepted that call, you were the recipient of a guarantee of no separation from His love, an inheritance of eternal life, the right to be called the child of God, saints in Him! Amen? Amen! Now, the challenge we face is living in the light of the love that came when the call was answered. Why place the most precious gift ever received on a shelf to gather dust. Use it!

Ephesians 1:18-19  “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength”  Use it by -

Leaning on His promises.

As responders to God’s calling, we are the recipients of a magnificent GIFT… a new creation in Christ Jesus! As a new creation, we have the promise that our destination is secure, our eternity sealed, our life is everlasting. Yet, we as a people are often filled with anxiety and or depression. We worry about measuring up to a standard that only we have set. Even when things happen that are out of our control, we react as though it has something to do with us personally and tell ourselves it’s a result of not measuring up. Enough is enough! Stop dreaming and start leaning – on the One whose promises are for sure.

Matthew 6:31,33 “So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Yield to the Master’s plan

God’s plan is not just for us as individuals, but for His body of believers as a whole. To be the best body builder He created us to be, we have to individually yield to His plan for our lives – loving Him, loving each other… so that we can indeed ignite the world for Christ, one life at a time! His plan is not for our glory, but for His, and His a lone.

Ephesians 4:1-6 “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Living love’s reflection requires the elimination of all the SMOKE so that we can reflect CLEARLY His love in our lives. We are called to be the love of Christ. Let’s start the revolution! Let’s be the face of Christ first to each other and then to this community. That action alone goes further than any advertising, door to door canvassing or community outreach alone. God calls us to love Him above all else…with our hearts, minds, souls, and that translates to loving each other with the same loving acts we would welcome from others. In the words of that famous and popular theologian, Larry the Cable Guy… “Gitter done.”






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