Last week we started the season of Advent. “This time before Christmas is a time of preparation and anticipation, a season that the church calls Advent. Today is the second of four Advent Sundays. While these are just dates on a calendar, Advent is a time of profound truth as laid out in scripture. The meaning of Advent is simple. Advent is a time to remember the first coming of Jesus (or to find out anew) It is also a time to remember all Jesus has done when He came to save us, and the available power given to all who would believe. Advent also refers to the return of Jesus at the second coming to take us home for eternity. Peter tells us 2 Peter 3:14 “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” During this season we ponder what Jesus has actually done for us. We ponder this gift of eternal life He has offered us, but we must also ponder what happens if we do not accept His words of life. We ponder all that He showed us and anticipate all that is to come both here on earth and on that final day where eternity will begin. We must also ponder why the church looks nothing like the Messiah we celebrate at Christmas. This is a time where we come face to face with the truth of God’s words when we spend time reflecting, introspecting, and anticipating but this can only be done when we look to the word of God.”
Today we are going to spend time reflecting. The word reflect means the “consideration of some subject matter, idea, or purpose.” It also means “the production of an image by or as if by a mirror.” Our advent journey is about preparation and anticipation and as we prepare and anticipate, we must be found spotless. To be found spotless we must return to God’s word. John 6:68 “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Many will say but I read the bible, I memorize verses, I’ve gone to church my whole life, yet Jesus said John 5:36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” Jesus also said, Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Luke 13:23 “Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” So, as you can see, being a true Christian is much more than going to church and praying a little prayer as the church defines Christianity today. It is even much more than just reading about Jesus; we must believe all He did and all that He will do in us.
We see that many are like those who study diligently but don’t actually believe what they read. The church is filled with people like this. People read and hear about the miracles of Jesus but don’t believe them possible for today. We also have lots of hearers who do not put His words into practice so really, they are not actually hearing. In the end most will have chosen the wide way and miss eternal life. Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” This time of reflection has eternal consequences. The word of God never returns void. God’s word will save you or you will be condemned by them. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Jesus went on to say when asked about being saved, Luke 13:25 “Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!” Many church goers are anticipating heaven but will never see it because they are looking at the wrong reflection. Due to the massive deception in the church, they do not reflect on their spiritual condition because they have been told, you are secure; don’t worry. 2 Peter 3:17 “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” Millions have been deceived by the error of the lawless.
For now, let’s look into the mirror you use most often. Who do you see? Do you like what you see, or do you cringe when you look, or do you even avoid mirrors all together? Some people love what they see, maybe a little too much while others try to cover up what they see. For most the mirror has a pretty loud voice. Someone can complement you, but you let the mirror decide whether to listen or not. Some look in the mirror and all they see are those funhouse mirrors that distort your looks. Some are like Narcissus who was “a figure from Greek mythology who was so impossibly handsome that he fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.” “The character of Narcissus is the origin of the term narcissism, a fixation with oneself.” One person described a narcissist as a person who has a “hunger for appreciation or admiration, a desire to be the center of attention, and an expectation of special treatment reflecting perceived higher status.” While it is nice to look in the mirror, we have to be very careful not to become fixated with ourselves. Not only do we have to be careful with fixating on our looks, we must also guard against everything becoming about ourselves. The world we live in fixates on looks and success. The focus is on what we can accomplish and there is very little emphasis on God.
The church has fallen prey to this narcissism and it is no wonder since satan himself fell from heaven because of this. Ezekiel 28:12 “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; 16 So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. 17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth.” Revelation 12:9 “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. 12 But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” 2 Corinthians 11:13 “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” The church has become mesmerized with the deceptive beauty of satan. Instead, we should be focusing on the image of God. The church has rebelled against God and has followed in satan’s ways. Most in the church are self-absorbed and do not humble themselves before God. They follow in the ways of man and do not seek the word of God wholeheartedly and they love how they look in the mirror. Most in the church only know what they have been told, yet they do not know that they have been deceived and have fallen from their secure positions. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” Paul said, 1 Corinthians 3:3 “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?”
Today we have men and women who are more interested in what the world thinks than what God thinks. They look in the mirror to impress the world but are unconcerned about submitting to God. They listen to the words of man and fail to listen to the word of God. Therefore, they listen to satan’s words over God’s words. God said James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” This is why we must spend time reflecting. Many have no idea what God actually says and many listen to them. For example, it is interesting that Job was told Job 34:35 “Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight. Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost for answering like a wicked man! 37 To his sin he adds rebellion; scornfully he claps his hands among us and multiplies his words against God.” Yet Job 42:7 “After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”
I would say that most people have staked their eternity on the empty ways of man. The eternity they think they have is not life but death. They have followed the wrong preachers and teachers, evangelists, prophets and apostles who have led them astray. Paul then gives us the truth. Ephesians 4:11 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” Nowhere does the bible say there are no longer prophets and apostles by the way. Also if there are false apostles and prophets of which there are, there must be true apostles and prophets. There are too many infants in the church that are still sucking on the bottle and falling for the schemes of satan. Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Paul also said 1 Corinthians 3:1 “I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. Hebrews 5:11 “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
It is imperative that we take the time to reflect on God’s word. When we do, the bible becomes our mirror. Yes it is good to look in the mirror. The other day I had a shower, brushed my teeth, put on deodorant and went to the grocery store. As I was driving, I looked in the rear view mirror and realized I forgot to brush my hair; It was all over the place. Look in the mirror to get ready but don’t look for the reflection you see in the mirror to guide your life unless it is Jesus. When the bible becomes our mirror that reflects truth, looking in the biblical mirror changes everything as we then see Jesus instead of ourselves. It even changes who you see when you are getting ready. You will no longer focus on yourself, or be unhappy with your appearance. If we are going to be found spotless and ready, we must take a good look in the mirror and see Jesus. James said James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” During this time of reflection, we must look intently into God’s word but as we saw earlier, we must also believe and do what it says. When we believe, we have this promise of hope. John 6:40 “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
The problem today is that when most look in the mirror, they see themselves and not Jesus. We are supposed to be like Jesus and do as He did. When we look in the mirror, we should see Jesus, not ourselves. You can respond by saying who do you think you are – God, or you can say I want to be more like Jesus and repent so that the Kingdom of God comes near. This can’t be done on your own, but you can start the process by repenting of your wicked ways. God gave us the promise that if we seek Him, we will find Him! We will not find Him if we continue to put ourselves first. We put ourselves first by setting God’s words aside and going our own ways. Most people who call themselves Christians pay lip service to God by going to church but if that church doesn’t meet their own needs or they don’t like something or someone, they move on, all the while forgetting church is not about them. If they started being the church, the church we know today would be totally different.
Today most churches have adapted to the world’s beliefs and their way of doing things. Jesus makes it clear that we must follow Him and not the world and when we do, we become like Him. John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” The amazing part of this is that when we become like Him, God dwells in us. Ephesians 2:19 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” Revelation 21:3 “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” God does not dwell among us if we refuse to follow His word.
We are told to be like Jesus. Ephesians 5:1 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” 1 John 2:3 “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” Paul said Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Why should we follow the example of Paul? 1 Timothy 1:12 “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst (remember he persecuted the church). 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” We saw Paul become like Jesus and then do as Jesus did. Acts 9:15 “But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name. 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.” He was told Acts 26:15 “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
We then see the results of Paul being sent out in the likeness of Jesus. Acts 19:11 “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” He preached as Jesus did and went where he was sent. We then saw those who received the message imitate Jesus and Paul. This was supposed to continue in the church. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out.” Paul said to Timothy 2 Timothy 2:1 “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 4:16 “Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. John 15:20 “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”
We also see those who did not listen to Paul’s instruction just as many refused to listen to Jesus. Peter said 2 Peter 3:15 “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Colossians 4:16 “After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.” Revelation tells us Revelation 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
Jesus tells us that we must remain in Him. John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” When we talk about discipleship, you have to ask whose disciple are you? Whose teaching do you remain in? Many churchgoers will die and never know the truth. Jesus said Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” For generations the church looks in the mirror and only sees men and women. They see the gurus, the rock stars, CEOs but Jesus is nowhere to be found. The walls are going to fall and have fallen because of this. Ezekiel 13:3 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! 10 ‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. 12 When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?” 13 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. 14 I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the Lord. 15 So I will pour out my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, 16 those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign Lord.”’
Churches have been built on the sand with flimsy, whitewashed walls. They have also redefined the definition of church to mean somewhere you go once a week and then the rest of the time is yours. During this time of reflection, know that these false teachers, and there are many, will not get away with it. 2 Peter 2:17 “These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.” Everyone is a disciple of someone but there is only one who can give you eternal life. Many in the church have been discipled by false teachers, even though we were warned over and over again not to be deceived. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Since most churchgoers do not really know their bibles or believe what the bible actually states, they are easily deceived. Due to their unbelief God also brings them under delusion. This time of reflection is about looking intently into the word of God and then seeing whose disciple are you and whose reflection you see when you look in the mirror. “Disciple - one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.” If we did look like Jesus, the church would be doing as He did in the power and authority of His name. The church would then look like the Gospels and Acts. The people who call themselves Christians would look in the mirror and see Jesus and others would see Jesus in them.
For generations men and women have become like those who went before them. They look in the mirror and see Calvin, Wesley, Darby, Warren, Hybels, Hinn or whoever the newest guru is today. Who is it that you see when you look in the mirror? Most believe in theology or doctrines that have been passed down from generations usually without questions. Yes, there will be those who leave one denomination and join another but end up jumping from fire to fire. Doctrines and theology are constantly being modified but continually get further from the truth. There is little to no power left in the church yet people Sunday after Sunday stand and sing praises, listen to sermons, meanwhile God is not listening and no one really seems to concerned about it. Isaiah 1:12 “When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being.They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.Your hands are full of blood!” Amos 5:23 “Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.”
Most have been told this is what church looks like and most do not test the spirits to see if it is true. When looking in the mirror they only see themselves or the person telling them everything is ok. Many in the church are like the rich man. Mark 10:21 “Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 10:25 “It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters.” The problem is that most do not want to be like Jesus because there will be consequences. Jesus warned us there was a cost. Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 10:37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Luke 9:57 “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Most will follow just as long as it doesn’t cost anything or interfere to much with their lives. They say they are Christians but don’t know the shepherd’s voice. John 10:25 “Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” They still want to look in the mirror and see their own reflection. Most do not want to ruffle the feathers of family, friends or those they work with but know ruffling isn’t always a sign of truth. There are some very hard-core preachers who ruffle feathers but do not speak the truth. If we are to be like Jesus, we must know Him and remain in Him. If we do, people will hate you and yes their feathers will be ruffled; they will be offended. We know Jesus by His words, so we must seek those words and believe them. Returning to God’s word is the only way for our reflection to be like Jesus. 1 Kings 4:29 “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.” Sadly, Solomon turned away from the wisdom God had given him. 1 Kings 11:9 “The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command.” Proverbs tells us how to get this wisdom. Proverbs 1:1 “The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2 for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; 3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; 4 for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— 5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— 6 for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. 7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction”. Proverbs 2:1 “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— 3 indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.”
For many they love what they see when they look in the mirror and they will continue in their narcissistic ways and refuse to repent. Many, even though they do not see Jesus will feel secure because they go to church and continue in their delusion and deception. Others will look in the mirror and see worthlessness, shame ugliness and think there is no hope and if they do not listen, they will miss the amazing compassion of Jesus. Many think their life of sin is too much for Jesus to atone for but that is far from the truth. 2 Corinthians 5:14 “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:1 “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” Paul describes some of those who believed the gospel message. 1 Corinthians 6:9 “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Don’t think your sin is too much to be forgiven. Luke 15:17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 23 Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
If you do not like what you see, turn and repent. Even if you like what you see, turn and repent because you must see Jesus in your reflection. Some will think I am good person; I’m not a narcissist; I do good in my community but Romans tells us Romans 3:22 “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.” The God we serve is a compassionate and loving God. Psalm 86:15 “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” We see this compassion with Jesus. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” John 6:40 “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” We see this compassion when Jesus walked among the people. Matthew 14:14 “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 8:1 “When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean. 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Matthew 11:4 “Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
As we look at this world it would be easy to give up on hope but then you would have to turn from the promises of God’s word which is what satan wants you to do. He wants to take you to hell with him for all eternity so don’t listen to him. Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” That is not what God wants for you, but you must obey. God gave a promise to David that He will not break. The sun and the moon still do what they are supposed to do so there is still hope even while the world crumbles around us. Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” We have these promises from the word of God therefore we have hope. Jeremiah 29:10 “This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Isaiah 51:3 “The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.” Isaiah 30:18 “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 54:7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back.” 2 Corinthians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
As you reflect on your reflection, listen to these words from the Apostle Paul. Ephesians 3:1 “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. 7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.” Paul then gives us this prayer 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 2 Timothy 2:7 “Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”