“Who You Really Are”

Imitators

Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;  and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God [b]as a fragrant aroma.”

             The picture above shows my son Hunter, and one of his best friends Ace. Both young men are dressed up in clothing that you normally would not see them in. This is a picture of them when they played a pair of young kings in a play for Vacation Bible School. Obviously, to their parents they are more valuable than kings, but neither one have been passed down that title from the families they were born into.

             In the same way our Scripture today tells us to be, “imitators of God” Hunter and Ace were being imitators of a pair of kings who received title and honor from their father. This is a bold and deep statement we are given in Scripture. “Therefore be imitators of God” tells us that we not only can be Christ like, but in fact we are to be Christ like!

             Think about what it means to be an imitator. To imitate something means to act like, behave like, conduct oneself like something or someone else. We see this all the time on the television, at plays, musicals, movies and other places. I remember my dad and I one year took a week long camping trip to the Smoky Mountains. We always camped on the North Carolina side of the mountains on the Cherokee Indian Reservation at a place called Standing Deer Campground. One year my dad took me to a place called, “Ghost Town In The Sky”. Everyone had to travel an extra mile up in the mountains to get to the theme park. The theme of the park was an old ghost town from the west where cowboys and cowgirls lived. It was a lot of fun, and we had a blast. One of the neat things I remember about that place is that everyone who worked there was in costume. Everyone was either dressed up as a cowboy or cowgirl and they imitated the part. There were the good guys, the bad guys and the law.

             Now, Paul is telling us in these two verses today that we are to be imitators of God Himself. The big difference between Christians imitating God and the workers imitating the old west is that we don’t have to put costumes on to do this. In fact, God doesn’t want us to just put on a veneer, or facade. He has made His children new creatures altogether in Christ.  God has washed His children clean as the driven snow from every sin. He has made them new. They are actually a new creature, a new person in Jesus. That is the reason we ( God’s children ) are able to be, and should be imitator’s of God. We are not God, but God lives in us; therefore, we are more than just people putting on an imitation. We are God’s children who should be conducting ourselves like His children.

             It’s important to notice in the later part of these two verses the greatest characteristic of being like Christ. That greatest characteristic is love. In fact, we are told to,  “walk in love”. That is how important that characteristic of God is. He goes on to tell us that Christ loved us, and showed us that love by giving Himself for each of us. This type of love is sacrificial and authentic. In fact it is SO GOOD that it was like a beautiful offering with a fragrant aroma to God the Father from His glorious Son Jesus.

             So here is the question(s) for you and me. When other people look at our lives what do they see? Are we imitating God who lives in us, or are we imitating people and things that would represent greater loves in our lives? It’s very likely if authentic love is characteristic of your life you are probably doing a good job being Christ like. However, if others have to search to find love as a characteristic of your life you might want to re-examine yourself today. Who or what are you imitating?

 Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

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“Extending Grace”

Gods Grace - Eph 2

Ephesians 2:8-9, “ For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

These two verses happen to be two of my favorite verses in the Bible. They were two of the first verses I ever memorized after becoming a Christian. Usually when I talk about these two verses with people I am covering the topic of salvation and explaining the grace of God described through these verses. However, today I would like you to take a closer look at the word, “grace” used here in verse 8.

This is the grace of God by which any saved individual is saved by. Dr. Adrian Rogers used to describe God’s grace by looking at three aspects of God’s character. Those three aspects are God’s justice, God’s mercy, and God’s grace. God’s justice is giving us what we do deserve. God’s mercy is God not giving us what we deserve, and God’s grace is God giving us what we do not deserve.

To better illustrate this I will look at my own self. God’s justice in my life would be God giving me what I deserve. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”. Since this is true of me I deserve hell, condemnation, and eternal separation from God. However, there is God’s mercy. His mercy is Him not giving me what I deserve. Since I have received Jesus into my life, and He is my Lord I will not have to be condemned, sent to hell, and separated from Him for all eternity. He is not giving me what I deserve. Now, that brings me to God’s grace. His grace is Him giving me what I do not deserve. I don’t deserve eternal life with Him in Heaven. I do not deserve the forgiveness of sins, and the washing of me like the white driven snow. I don’t deserve the blessing of eternal security. However, I have received these things by way of God’s wonderful grace. He has given me what I do NOT deserve, but that is His grace in and on my life.

Now if you look at the last part of verse 9 you will see that it says this, “it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”. You see first of all God’s grace is God’s gift to us who receive Him. It is very simple. Grace is God’s wonderful gift! It is the result of God’s infinite love and kindness towards sinful man. I have done nothing to deserve it or warrant getting it. All thanks and all gratitude must go to God alone because I have done nothing that warrants receiving His grace. The Bible says here, “not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” I cannot claim any right to the grace given in my life. I have nothing to boast about when it comes to the kindness and grace of God on my life. It simply is His loving gift on my life.

With all of that said, here is the challenge for us. As we ponder on the grace which God so freely and kindly bestows upon His children, how are you doing in the “Grace Department” when it comes to those around you???
This is what I mean. Have you been showing a Christ-like kindness and grace to those in your life. Think about how many different people you are affiliated with. There’s your spouse, your siblings, your co-workers, friends, acquaintances, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, clerks at the checkout counter, workers at the pharmacy, and oh yes, fellow church-members. What about all these people in your lives?

It is a daily task for me to have to re-examine myself each day to see if I am extending God’s grace the best I can through my own life. This does not mean we excuse sin or let others get away with bad or immoral behavior. It does mean however, that we have a Christ-like spirit in dealing with others. Sometimes it does mean just giving them a break in life. At times it may mean going to that person and sharing in a kind way that helps another person see a blind spot in their life. It may mean praying for someone even when you don’t feel like praying for them.

The reality is that Jesus was right on target when He shared with His disciples that it was easy to love those who show love back to us. However, Jesus said we are to show love to those who are not loving toward us. That is when we are most Christ-like. That is when we are showing the grace of God in and through our lives. Again, the challenge for you and I today is this – Ask God who it is in your life that you need to show grace to today?

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

“The Power of Trajectory”

Hunter - Archery

Psalm 127: 4-5a “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them”

This past week on April 8th, 2014 my son Hunter Bryan Morris turned into an official teenager. He had his 13th birthday. One of the things that he has wanted for some time now is a new compound bow that he could hunt deer with. As you can see in the picture above, he got it.

As I reflected back on this picture, as well as others from his party, this picture became stuck in mind. It reminded me of Psalm 127:4-5 as Solomon talked about children in comparison to arrows. There are a few things I would like to point out in this passage today.

First, look at the position of the parent. The psalmist uses the word “warrior” to describe the parent here. When I think about a warrior I think about someone who is strong, courageous, armed, and willing to do some tough things that some others would not be willing to do. As a child of God, I want to be all of these things for my Lord Jesus. As a husband, I want to be all of these things for my wife. As a dad, I want to be all of these things for my children. With God’s help I will be strong and mighty as He engrafts His word into my heart and spirit. With God’s help I will be courageous to stand for what is right no matter how uncomfortable it may make me at times. With God’s help I will be armed for the battles that come my way by taking up the Sword of the Spirit ( God’s Holy Word ) and being prepared for that battle. With God’s help I will be willing to make the decisions to follow Him even through criticism and the world’s secular judgment that many times can come to God’s children in such harsh measures.

Second, look at the power of the parent in the life of the child. The parent is like the warrior. The child is like the arrow shot from the bow, but it is the warrior ( the parent ) who holds the bow & arrow in his / her hands. God has given me the responsibility of management when it comes to my children while they are still on this earth and under my parental authority. There will come a day when my children will leave the nest of home and be joined to their spouse’s. At that time they will not be  under my parental authority in the same way, but until then God has given me that honor as a parent. Again, with that honor comes much responsibility. With the power of being a parent I have the awesome responsibility to raise my children up in the admonition and fear of the Lord Almighty. To help them the best that I can to know Jesus Christ more and more every day. I should help them in their pursuit to know God’s will for their lives. It is not my desire that I want them to seek after, but God’s desire for them that I want them to seek. God will help me to guide them as they seek Him. There is great power in the position of the parent, and it should not be taken lightly.

The third thing to see is the position of the child. Here, the psalmist says that children are like the arrows in the hand of the warrior. I love that. He likens them to arrows. Do you know that you can have the best, most expensive bow in the world, but without a good arrow the bow is no good. That is not to say a parent is no good if their child makes bad decisions in life. It just simply shows us how important both positions are – the parent and the child. Here’s the really neat thing to see. As parents train up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord they are essentially training new warriors for the Kingdom of Heaven. Those children have children and so on. A Godly heritage is then built, and more lives are changed in the name of Jesus. It has an eternal effect on the world around us.

So, what’s the challenge? The challenge to us parents is this. Train up your children to love and obey Jesus Christ in all they do. You do your part and when the time is right you will shoot your arrow ( your child ) and he/she will have an eternal impact on the world for Jesus. God tells us many times in His word to train up our children.  There will come a time that it will be right for you to let them go ( so-to-speak ). Prepare that arrow now, so that when you do release the arrow it will have the best trajectory possible.

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

“The Reminder”

Mt View Sunrise Pic

Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

This past weekend was a great weekend for the Morris family. We had the gracious opportunity to take off and go out of town for three days and two nights. We went over to Mountain View Arkansas and stayed in a cabin owned by a good friend of mine. He and his wife were kind enough to let us stay for next to nothing so that our family could have some much needed rest and relaxation. Thank you to the Clement family.

One of the things that I looked so forward to doing on this trip was just to retreat into some quiet time with the Lord and with my family. It was not only something I wanted, but it was something that was necessary. This year has been a very busy year so far, and there has not been a lot of down time. Please understand that I am not complaining, because the fact is, I don’t do well with a lot of down time. Usually, I am the type of person who does better when I have more on my schedule to do. However, that is not always healthy both physically or spiritually speaking.

This was the second time I had ever been to Mountain View Arkansas, but it will not be my last Lord willing. I had forgotten how beautiful it was, and just how great of a place it is to get alone with God. I was reminded of Psalm 46:10 while there which says, “Be still and know that I am God”. What a glorious statement this is to us about God! This verse reminded me of some major things that we must keep in mind as children of God.

First, I was reminded of the rest that I needed. Working day in and day out in multiple positions and trying to raise a family does not provide anyone with much rest. The Lord says here, “Be still”. I believe it is important for us to take time out of our busy schedules and just “Be still”. Being still gives us opportunity to see things we would not normally recognize as God’s wonderful creation and blessings in our lives. One of the pictures above is of the sunrise Saturday morning around 6:30am. It was a great reminder to me that God is the One that made everything I saw and provides the blessings in my life that I experience daily. God is the Giver of life.

Mt View River Pic

Another one of the pictures you see is one of the rivers that flows out of Blanchard Springs Caverns. Something you can’t help but notice is the reflection off the water of the surroundings. The Bible says in Psalm 46:10 not only that we should, “Be still” but that we should, “know that I am God”. In other words this is a command to reflect on God being who He is. He is God! We should not only reflect on God being God, but on who we are in God, where we stand with God, and our position in God Himself.

Mt View Waterfall pic

The other picture you see is that of a waterfall flowing out of natural rock formation. As our family gazed at the waterfalls around us we noticed how important the rocks were. They directed the water where it flowed. Being still and knowing that God is God helps us when we need to be redirected in our daily walk through life. Many times through all the different things going on in life it can become easy to let our lives get knocked off course. In other words, sometimes we need the Lord’s loving redirection of our lives.

The other thing I noticed about the water in the waterfall was how pure and clean the water was coming out of that fall. I don’t know what all that water had been through before it got to the fall, or even where the water had been beforehand, but the water was renewed and fresh as it came out of those falls.

The psalmist in all of psalm 46 instructs us in how we should trust God. Psalm 46:10 gives instruction to us in that we should take notice of God and who He is. He is wonderful, mighty, glorious, powerful, majestic, praise-worthy, holy and so much more! It was this Psalm that was the inspiration for Martin Luther to write the hymn, “A Mighty fortress is Our God”. This Psalm is a wonderful reminder as to how good and great God is for all creation, and all that are His. When we come to Him and get still before Him, He does these things for us. God gives us the rest we need. During that rest He provides us the time we need to reflect on Him and who we are. Then comes the redirection of our lives which means He directs our paths straight as we trust in Him. ( Proverbs 3:5-6 ). Lastly, as we are resting, being redirected, and have a time of reflection, God will bring renewal to each of us that we need.

Do you need a refreshing and a renewal today? Take some time to be still and know that He is God.

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan