Friday, December 31, 2010

Character: A Spirit of Generosity

The generosity of our God is an awesome thing to behold; as we do, our own character is sweetened with a spirit of giving that blesses all! Love and generosity walk hand in hand throughout the scriptures. God’s Word opens with the story of Creation—a world created for and entrusted to mankind. John 3:16, the foundation of our faith, tells us “God so loved…He gave.” Thankfully, God’s generosity is not tied to our merit for in Hosea we read, “I will heal their backsliding, and I will love them freely…” The generosity of God is His character: nothing we do makes God love us more or give us more. He always loves us perfectly and gives to us all we need. His call is constant and the scriptures close with an invitation for us to drink freely at the river of life. The generosity of God flows eternally and transforms our character when we receive it!

Abundance is a truth woven throughout scriptures! God does all things well and abundantly. Christ came that we might have abundant life. Jesus told His disciples, “Freely you have received, freely give.” So what have we received; what can we give? All of scripture and the touch of the Spirit are needed to explore the treasures God has given, but our souls will be excited with even a glimpse of His gifts! The obvious gift to begin with is the redemption of our souls. Though we all have chosen to go our own way, the love of God paid the price to restore us to Him! He has loved us wholly as we have trampled His gifts. Forgiveness, grace and mercy are all rolled into the redemption concept. What treasures those are to share in a hurting world!

Simply considering how our world would be sweetened by forgiveness, grace and mercy is a breath-taking thought. Imagine ill-timed words and actions covered by a love that forgives the hurt caused! Consider the blessing of giving "Grace:"  the beautiful taste of God's Spirit: love, joy, peace, a willingness to suffer, kindness, gentleness and mercy offered to another! Do you know anyone who needs peace today—confidence in God’s love and power? Or perhaps someone who is drowning in the darkness of this world who needs you to sit in the mess with them giving a gentle touch of love? Giving mercy--seeing and meeting a need rather than condemning and punishing would bear precious seed. This world is abundant in need; what need can you meet today by sharing the blessings of Jesus you have received? The words of Christ to freely give are preceded by some miraculous things: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils.” When we share Jesus—when we share what we have received—His Spirit is freed to work in and transform more lives…what a privilege to embrace.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Character: A Spirit of Unity

The Christian character will demonstrate a respect for others that leads to unity!  Respect and unity go hand in hand but they make rare appearances in our world today.  Most of us, even Christians, are so focused on getting our viewpoint across that it is our individuality people see--not the character of Christ.  Our Lord is always respectful: even when we 'despise and reject' Him, He recognizes our individual will and ways. Yet, the Father never stops loving.  He never lowers Himself to respond in kind to our actions.  He remains focused on His glorious purpose: that 'we might know that He is God.'  The character founded and built on Christ will be motivated by that same purpose.  With the goal of revealing God's glory, the Christian character draws people to God and together!

The inner being of each human being is revealed in either individuality or personality.  Individuality is the mark of a natural man; it separates us from others and seeks to distinguish the uniqueness of a person.  Personality is no less unique but it is the mark of the spiritual man; it is infused with the glorious respectfulness of our Lord.  The Christian character is secure in Christ and not driven by the need to be set apart and glorified. 

Self-vindication, self-glory--self-righteousness--is an anathema to the Christian character.  The glory of the Christian is present in the character of Christ!  When we choose to sacrifice our individuality, our personality will bring the glory of Christ to the world around us!  We receive the gift of Jesus for the purpose that others will know Him; you have been created uniquely for touching the lives around you--let His beauty flow through!

Merry Christmas to all of you!  Enjoy the gift of Jesus and may His glory light your world!

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Character: A Spirit of Faithfulness

And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

Ruth 1:16

The Spirit of Christ exudes faithfulness and the character built on Christ can be equally steadfast!  During Christ's earthly life His Spirit demonstrated fidelity to the heart of the Father; the character of the Christian is intended to do the same. 

The ancient words of today's scripture model the attitude of the Christian:  'whither thou goest, I will go...'. While Ruth's words were spoken in loyalty to her earthly mother-in-law, our commitment is to be to  God alone.  Our character, embodied with the life of Christ, readily responds to the movement of the Spirit.  Obediently presenting our lives as living sacrifices to God necessitates a Christ-like character.  It is only such a character which demonstrate fidelity to the cause of Christ. 

Our natural selves continually demand loyalty to our own dreams, desires and felt needs.  Sacrificing our self-will for the will of the Father is possible only as we surrender ourselves to Christ's transforming power.  The glory of God will flow forth from a character rooted and nurtured in Christ's character.  Ask God to reveal to you the sacrifices of self which would please Him most today. 

Allow your Spirit to be flooded with Christ's character and you will be awed by the expansiveness you have entered into!  The character of Christ is a treasure God has entrusted to our clay vessels.  Receive Him!