Monthly Archives: January 2014

It Does NOT Taste Like Chicken

How did chicken ever become the cultural culinary flavor baseline?  Is its taste so bland and indistinct that everything tastes like it?  Or has the poultry industry become so dominant  (you’d think so if you live in the Ozarks region) that our palates have been overwhelmed to the extent we just can’t possibly contrive any other comparisons?

Just know that we may be ill-equipped to appreciate the challenge to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).  We should also know that this isn’t the only time that tasting God’s goodness is promoted in Scripture (see Heb. 6:5 and 1 Pet. 2:3).

What does that taste like?  It’s not…well, you know.

It tastes like blessing and praise and compassion and salvation and strength and peace and righteousness and deliverance and comfort and protection and redemption and, yes, goodness (read all of Psalm 34).

God’s goodness isn’t just to be heard about or contemplated; it’s to be known and experienced.  It is to be tasted!

–David Deffenbaugh

For “A Week in the Word” Bible readings (Jan. 26-Feb. 1) CLICK HERE

You Don’t Know How to Praise God

That might seem a rather presumptuous statement on my part, but I’m sticking with it.

Typically, praise appears to be thanks offered to God for some perceived good He has done for me.  I think a cautionary reminder is in order: I am not the center of God’s universe.  He’s not all about me.  And His greatness and power are not shown by His capacity to make every individual His greatest concern.

God is not praised when all I can think about Him is “What can You do for me?”.

Angry with me yet?

I’m NOT saying that we shouldn’t recognize God’s work and the good things He has done and the ways He has blessed us.  But if that’s primary motivation for our praising Him something is seriously amiss.

I am saying that we can very easily turn our relationship to God into a very selfish and self-serving enterprise; that there develops a direct correlation between the praise we offer to God and the degree to which He has done for us what we want.

In our self-consumed existence we don’t know how to praise God.

The path to greater praise is not an altered perception of life that construes every event as a means by which God is making things “just right” for me.  It’s not a heightened sensitivity to the ways God is working out every detail in my favor.  I am not the center of God’s universe.

The path to greater praise has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God.  Forget me.  Forget my petty wants and small concerns.  Forget my little life and frail being.  Do think on God.  Think on His majesty and glory, His magnificent power and marvelous love, His astounding grace and  unfailing steadfastness.  Think on His holiness and His care for the lowly and downcast. Think on Him.

We don’t know how to praise God because our orientation is all out of whack.  God is not all about me, I am all about God.

–David Deffenbaugh

For “A Week in the Word” Bible readings for this week, Jan. 26-Feb. 1, Psalms & Proverbs–Praise God! CLICK HERE

A Week in the Word, January 26 – February 1

Theme: Psalms & Proverbs–Praise God!

The dominant thought when one thinks of Psalms is praise.  That connection is not unwarranted, far from it.  But neither is praise the exclusive purpose of the Psalms.  Other important uses and purposes of the contents of this book will be the focus of readings in later weeks. This first visit in the Psalms, though, during this year’s weekly themed readings will begin with the obvious: Psalms of praise.

Unlike previous weeks we will not have introductions for each of the readings, but rather this introduction will serve that purpose for them all.

Among these Psalms are calls to God’s people, those blessed by God, all nations, and even nature itself to give praise that is due to God.   Other of the Psalms are not calls to praise, but are the actual act of praising Him.  To repeat the words of the these Psalms is to engage in praise to Him.  In other words the previous Psalms are addressed to men (calling them to praise) while the latter ones are addressed to God (to give Him praise).

Many of the Psalms tell the reason that God should be praised.  Not only are the Psalms valuable in giving us language we can borrow to praise Him, but they also detail why God is so valued, so important, and so worthy of our adoration.  They become a good tool for self evaluation of how we think about God. In other words, am I praising God for these same reasons?

The Psalms selected for this week’s readings should not be considered a complete listing of the Psalms of praise.  Very similar are also Psalms of thanksgiving, to which we will devote a week of reading later this year.

“Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised” (Psa. 96:4).

 

Reading Texts:

Psalms 29, 34, 48, 66, 67
92, 95, 96, 98, 99
100, 103, 104, 105, 108
111, 113, 117, 135
145, 146, 147, 148, 149
150

 

Study/Thought Questions

29:3—In what are we to worship the Lord?
29:5-9—What are some of the things the voice of the Lord does?
34:1—How often ought we to praise God?
34:4,6—What is one reason God is to be praised?
34:8—What is one way the goodness of God is to be experienced?
34:15-16—To whom is the Lord responsive?  To whom is He not?
34:18—To whom is God near? Whom does He save?
48:2—What location is tied to the praise of God?
48:10—How far does God’s praise extend?
66:3-4—What are we encouraged to say to God?
66:7—Upon whom does God keep watch?
66:10-12—What has God allowed to happen to His people?
66:18—What would have happened had I cherished iniquity in my heart?
67:2—Who is to know God’s saving power?
92:4—What makes us glad?
95:3—Why is God to be praised?
95:4—Where are the depths of the earth and heights of the mountains?
96:5-6—How is the Lord distinguished from all other gods?
96:11-13—What is the response of creation to the fact that God judges the world in righteousness?
98:1—What of God’s appendages have worked salvation for Him?
99:9—Why should God be exalted and worshipped?
100:3—What is it that we are to remember about God and ourselves?
103:10—How does God not deal with us?
103:12—How far from us does God remove our sin when He forgives?
104:2—With what does God cover Himself like a garment?
104:34—What should be pleasing to God?
105:7-45—What events are recalled as reasons to praise God for His wondrous works?
108:4—For what two traits of God is He to be praised?
111:1—With what and with whom is God to be praised?
111:10—Where does wisdom begin?  And what is true of those who practice it?
113:7-9—God’s work with whom is among His wondrous deeds?
117:2—For what two traits is God praised?
135:3—Why should the Lord be praised?
135:6—What does the Lord do?
145:4—To whom should one generation commend the works of God?
145:8—In what does God abound?  And to what is He slow?
145:18—To whom is the Lord near?
146:6-7—What has God—who is to be praised—done?
147:10-11—In what does God not delight or take pleasure?  In what does He delight?
148:2-6—Who and what are called on to praise God?  Why?
148:7-13—Who and what else are called on to praise God? Why?
149:1—Among whom is praise to be offered?
150:2—According to what measure should God be praised?
150:6—Who is to praise God?

 

Meditation Thoughts:

Quite often people are called on to praise God with the use of musical instruments (trumpet, lyre, harp, tambourine, lute, cymbals, etc.; see 98:5-6; 92:3; 150:3-5; etc.), clapping and dancing (149:3; 150:4).  Why or why not are these appropriate means for giving praise to God today?

What is my motivation for praising God?  Is it anything beyond the way He has “blessed my life”?  Consider the various reasons for praising God mentioned in the Psalms.  How might I adopt these same reasons?

How is God praised in my own life, especially outside of the regular worship assemblies?

 

Memory Verse:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” (Psa. 103:1; ESV)

 

Devotional Writings:

“You Don’t Know How to Praise God” (CLICK HERE)

“It Does Not Taste Like Chicken” (CLICK HERE)

Too Much Jesus

John 6:66

The crowd went looking for Jesus and they found him (John 6:24-25).  It sounds like everything was working out just right doesn’t it?  Isn’t that the ideal circumstance; people looking for and finding Jesus?

Maybe so, but on this occasion it just didn’t work out so well.  This crowd had been with Jesus the day before and had been miraculously fed by Him. As a result, they perceived that He was the Prophet and that He should be their king (John 6:14-15).

Having now found Jesus, He encouraged them to work for food that endures to eternal life, rather than physical food (v. 27).  He had given them literal bread the previous day and now He shows Himself to the “bread of life” (v. 35).  For the former they wanted to make Him king, as a result of the latter many of them rejected Him (v. 66).

Jesus proved to be more than these people really wanted.  They found more than they anticipated when they went looking for Him.

So here’s a question most people probably never think to ask, “Am I looking for Jesus as He is, who may be more than I expect, or am I only looking for the Jesus I expect and want?”

Following Jesus isn’t so much a matter of Him accepting me as I am, but of me accepting Him as He is.

–David Deffenbaugh

For “A Week in the Word” (Jan. 19-25) Bible readings CLICK HERE

The Wrong Beaitudes

Luke 6:20-26

If someone asks, “Where are the Beatitudes?” the response is consistent—if the person knows—it’s the opening words of the Sermon on the Mount.  They might even say, “Matthew 5:3-12” if they’re particularly familiar with Scripture.

Both answers, of course, are correct.  But so also would be the response, “Luke 6:20-26.”  This version of the Beatitudes is not nearly so well-known.  Some would even argue it’s from a different sermon.  I might agree with that, but even so, the similarities are too close to just write it off as a different teaching from a different sermon.

Why is the Matthew 5 version so much more readily known than Luke 6?  I have a theory.  The Luke 6 text is so much more straightforward and leaves little “wiggle room.”  For instance one says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” the other simply, “Blessed are you who are poor” (Matt. 5:3; Luke 6:20).  Luke’s account provides blessings on the poor, the hungry, the grieving, and the hated and excluded (vv. 20-23).  Not only that, but this one also includes corresponding pronouncement of woes.  Woe to the rich, the satisfied, the happy, and the loved and embraced (vv. 24-26).

These two lists of blessings aren’t in competition with each other, both are true and right.  But the fact is, we gravitate toward the easy as opposed to the hard, the forgiving and tolerant as opposed to the strict, the lenient as opposed to the rigorous.

But blessed are the poor, hungry, grieving and excluded while woe upon the rich, satisfied, happy, and loved?  How can that be right?  It’s certainly not to say that particular virtue is found in poverty, hunger, sadness, and rejection.  Poor does not equal righteous.

But think about people’s priorities in life.  How many lives are built around the effort to achieve the latter list and avoid the former?  That instead of a life built around doing God’s will?  If God truly is my priority then my life has meaning and significance and purpose even if I’m poor, hungry, grieving and rejected.  Shallow, though, is the faith that is abandoned in order preserve and/or achieve wealth, satisfaction, happiness and acceptance.

–David Deffenbaugh

For A Week in the Word Bible readings for January 19-25 CLICK HERE

“A Week in the Word,” January 19-25

Theme: Christian Living—Discipleship

Jesus called men to be His disciples.  “Follow Me” was His plea.  Before departing earth, He commissioned those who did follow Him to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).

What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?  What did He have to say about how following Him would effect  the rest of our lives?  Jesus had much to say about what it means to follow Him and that single factor in our lives changes everything.

As would be anticipated the Gospel accounts are filled with stories of people being called by Jesus, people failing to understand and appreciate what following him meant, and Jesus’ efforts to clarify our understanding of the most basic tenets of being His disciple.

Readings and Introductory Comments:

John 1:29-51; Matthew 4:18-22; 9:9-13
Here are some examples of people being called by Jesus and also John the Baptist pointing his own disciples to Jesus.

Luke 6:20-49; 12:22-34, 35-48; 13:22-30
Much of Jesus’ teaching was in the form of instruction about what how following Him would reshape priorities.  One simply cannot continue to think like the world—as they had previously thought—and successfully follow Him.

You will notice that these readings from Luke have close parallels to the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).  We are reserving that reading for later.

Matthew 10:16-42; 16:24-28; 25:1-13, 14-30; Luke 14:25-35
Jesus challenged those whom He called to understand that following Him was serious business.  It was not a decision to be made lightly; and it would have to be on His terms.

Luke 9:57-62;  John 6:22-69
Helpful for our intentions to be Jesus disciples are instances recorded when people sought to follow but who obviously needed deeper understanding of the commitment required to do so.

John 8:31-32; 13:31-35; 15:1-17
Three times in John’s Gospel he records statements of Jesus relative to being a “true” disciple.  Obviously, we can make no pretense of following Jesus if these three are not true of us.

Matthew 11:25-30; John 14:1-14
We conclude with two very memorable statement from our Lord that touch on the great blessing of following Him.

Study/Thought Questions

1) John 1:29-51; Matthew 4:18-22; 9:9-13

  • How did John identify Jesus to his disciples? (John 1:29, 36)
  • What did Andrew do “first” upon following Jesus? (John 1:40-41)
  • What did Philip do after being called by Jesus? (John 1:45)
  • What did Peter and Andrew do when Jesus called them to follow? (Matt. 4:20)
  • What had Matthew been prior to following Jesus and what were the prevailing attitudes toward these people? (Matt. 9:9,11)

2) Luke 6:20-49; 12:22-34, 35-48; 13:22-30

  • Upon whom does Jesus pronounce blessing in Luke 6:20-22)  Upon whom does He pronounce woe? (vv. 24-26).
  • To whom does Jesus emphasize that we should show our love? (Luke 6:32-36)
  • What does Jesus teach about anxiety and following Him? (Luke 6:22-31)
  • Like a Boy Scout, a disciple must always be what? (Luke 12:35ff)
  • How does the teaching of Luke 13:24ff compare to Matthew 7:13ff?

3) Matthew 10:16-42; 16:24-28; 25:1-13, 14-30; Luke 14:25-35

  • What should a disciple anticipate encountering since Jesus encountered the same? (Matt. 10:24-25)
  • What is the first thing a person must do to follow Jesus? (Matt. 16:24)
  • Based on the parables of the ten virgins and the talents, what must a disciple be? (Matt. 25:1-30)
  • Three things mentioned in Luke 14:25-35 would keep one from being Jesus’ disciple, what are they?

4) Luke 9:57-62;  John 6:22-69

  • Three potential disciples are challenged by Jesus to understand what following Him means (Luke 9:57-62), based on His statements, what is it?
  • A great multitude sought out Jesus to obtain “food that perishes” (John 6:27).  What is the food that “does not perish”endures to eternal life?”
  • Why did Peter say that he and the others would continue to follow Jesus? (John 6:68)

5) John 8:31-32; 13:31-35; 15:1-17

  • Based on the above texts there are three things that provide proof that one is truly a disciple of Jesus, what are they?
  • What happens to the branch that does not bear fruit?  Who are the branches? (John 15:5)

6) Matthew 11:25-30; John 14:1-14

  • Is great intellect a requirement of following Jesus? (Matt. 11:25)
  • Whom does Jesus invite to come to Him? (Matt. 11:28)
  • What are those who come to Jesus to do? (Matt. 11:19)
  • What assurance do followers of Jesus have? (John 14:3)

Meditation Thoughts:

  • What effect will following Jesus have on the other relationships of our life?
  • Being a follower of Jesus is to have the top priority in my life.  In what ways is that practically demonstrated?  Have I compromised that priority?
  • Given the blessings and woes pronounced in Luke 6:20-26, how does our world work against following Jesus?
  • Who are some people for whom you can do good and love who do not have the ability or perhaps inclination to respond in kind? (Luke 6:27-36)
  • Notice in Jesus’ teaching about the vine and the branches (John 15:1-11) that one of the ways for a branch to become even more fruitful than it has been before, is for the vinedresser (God; v. 1) to prune the branch. What would it mean for God to “prune” me so I might be more fruitful?

Memory Verse:

Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24)

Devotional Writings:

“The Wrong Beatitudes” (CLICK HERE)

“Too Much Jesus” (CLICK HERE)

 

 

He Emptied Himself

Philippians 2:3-8

I’m pretty sure I don’t know what that means.  It’s not that I don’t understand the words, they’re not hard.

My problem is that the “He” is Jesus;  Jesus who enjoyed “equality with God.”  There’s the hitch.  How can I, as a human, begin to know and understand what “equality with God” is?  Especially when in order to be “born in likeness of men” He had to empty Himself?  He had to turn loose of what is beyond what is human in order to become a man.  How can I know what that means?

Here’s the real kicker, though.  Jesus did what I can’t comprehend, but He also did what I can understand—but am so reluctant to do.  He didn’t just become a man, He became a servant, an obedient servant.  How obedient? To the point dying, even dying on a cross.

Jesus left behind more than I can comprehend but also became what I can understand; a fully submissive and obedient servant of God.  The Bible’s whole point in saying all of this is to motivate me to count others more significant than myself.  That’s what Jesus did.

Ouch!

Lord, please forgive my selfish ways, my self-serving attitudes and my insistence on placing my own interests above others’.  May this mind which was in Christ Jesus be my own.

–David Deffenbaugh

For “A Week in the Word” Bible reading for January 12-18 (Jesus–God in the Flesh) CLICK HERE

Jesus and Me

(John 1:1-3, 14; Php. 2:6-11; Heb. 1:3; 1 Tim. 3:16)

He was what I will never be—the Word was God.
He was when I never could be—He was in the beginning
He was where I am unable to be—He was with God
He did what I could never do—All things were made through Him
He has what I do not, and I can only have it from Him—In Him was life and the life was the light of men

And yet…
He became what I am—the Word became flesh
He came where I am—and dwelt among us
He experienced what I do—He in every respect has been tempted as we are
He showed me what I need to see—He is the radiance of His glory
He became what I should—He made Himself nothing and took the form of a servant
He did what I ought to do—He was obedient
He accomplished what I needed most—He made purification for sin
He is now where I want to be—He is with God

“Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16).

–David Deffenbaugh

[For this week’s “A Week in the Word” readings, January 12-18–Jesus, God in the flesh CLICK HERE]

“A Week in the Word” January 12-18

Theme: Jesus, God in the Flesh

Two things about Jesus defy explanation.  One is that Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph and Mary, a carpenter by trade was in reality God in the flesh.  The other is that God would take on human flesh and live as a man.  Both Jesus’ deity and His humanity challenges us.

As is the case any time we attempt to grasp God, it is the finite trying to comprehend the infinite, the mortal mind wrestling with the eternal and the feeble wishing to embrace the almighty.  The reality of God stretches far beyond all of our capacities for knowledge and comprehension.

What we do know and what we can grasp is what it means to be human.  What we are is what God became in Jesus.  The importance and implications of this great truth reach to the very heart of God’s love for us.

Readings and Introductory Comments:

Hebrews 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16
The fact of Jesus’ deity is nowhere any more clearly and definitively demonstrated than in His role as creator.  Just as we observed last week in our consideration of God as creator showing His power and majesty, it only follows that such is no less true for Jesus as the creative agent.

Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7
The Old Testament is filled with prophecies of the coming Messiah.  The number has been placed in excess of 300 such prophecies.  One feature of the Gospel accounts—and particularly Matthew’s—is that Jesus is the one who has fulfilled these prophecies.  In particular, though, is that this prophesied one would be called “Immanuel,” that is, God with us.

Luke 1:1-2:38; Matthew 1:18-2:23
To think that God would become man and live among us is incredible to ponder.  Such is an event of immense magnitude. The means by which God chose for this to transpire are startling.  A young virgin would bear the child.  He would be born into poverty and need and far away from humanities focus and attention. Obscurity, not notoriety, marked God’s arrival on earth in human form.

John 1:1-5, 14-18
Jesus, whom John calls “the Word,” was present when time began and is Himself God. He is the one through whom God created and is the source of light and life. Remarkably, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  Literally, He “tabernacled” with us.  He “took up residence among us” (NET); He “moved into the neighborhood” (MSG).

Philippians 2:5-11
From man’s perspective, baby Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem.  From heaven’s perspective, Christ Jesus did not retain His equal standing with God but divested Himself of whatever necessary in order to take on human form and live as  a man.  And of course, it doesn’t stop there.

Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 1:24; Matthew 8:29, Mark 15:39; Matthew 3:17; 17:5
The Gospel accounts are filled with incidents of recognition and confession of Jesus’ identity.  The most famous of these is that of Peter (Matthew 16:16).  Even demon’s could not but acknowledge who He was (Mark 1:24; Matt. 8:29) and the compelling testimony of the Roman soldier at His crucifixion is powerful (Mark 15:39).  God even audibly speaks on two occasions to this important point (Matt. 3:17; 17:5),

1 Peter 1:18-21; Hebrews 9:11-14; 4:14-16; Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1
Of course, Jesus as God in the flesh meant He was (is) able to fulfill the purposes for which He came; to be the perfect sacrifice for sin, to be our merciful High Priest, and serve as the advocate and intercessor for man before God.

1 John 4:2; 2 John 7
The truth that Jesus was indeed God in the flesh is a fundamental spiritual breaking point.  That is, accepting or rejecting that fact carries very weighty implications.

Study/Thought Questions

1) Hebrews 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16

  • From whom are all things and through whom are all things? (1 Cor. 8:6)  What’s the distinction?
  • Speaking of Jesus, all things are said to be created _______him, ________ him  and ________him (Col. 1:16).

2) Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7

  • Who would be with child and bear a son?
  • Why was the virgin birth necessary?
  • Besides Immanuel, what else will this prophesied one be called?

3) Luke 1:1-2:38; Matthew 1:18-2:23

  • What did the angel tell Mary her son would be called? (Lk. 1:32)
  • How did Elizabeth refer to her cousin Mary when she visited? (Lk. 1:43)
  • Whom did the angels announce had been born in Bethlehem? (Lk. 2:11)
  • Whom was Simeon promised he would see before he died? (Lk. 2:26)
  • What did the wise men call the one whom they sought? (Matt. 2:2)

4) John 1:1-5, 14-18

  •  John 1 calls Jesus “the Word.” Genesis 1 tells us God spoke creation into existence (Gen. 1:3).  What is the connection?
  • What is the significance of Jesus being called “the Word?”
  • Of what was the Word full?

5) Philippians 2:5-11

  • What did Jesus have to do in order to become a man?
  • What did Jesus do beyond being “born in the likeness of man?”

6) Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 1:24; Mark 1:24; Matthew 8:29, Mark 15:39; Matthew 3:17; 17:5

  • How did Peter come to know Jesus true identity? (Matt. 16:17)
  • Consider James 2:19 in light of the confession of demons to Jesus’ identity
  • What is the significance of the Roman soldier’s confession? (Mark 15:39)

7) 1 Peter 1:18-21; Hebrews 9:11-14; 4:14-16; Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1

  • What is the connection between Jesus’ identity and our salvation? (1 Pet. 1:18-21)
  • How does Jesus’ becoming a man effect His role as High Priest? (Heb. 4:14-16)
  • Consider Job 9:33 in light of Jesus role as our intercessor and advocate.

8) 1 John 4:2; 2 John 7

  • What is one who confesses that Jesus was God in the flesh?
  • What is one who does not?

Meditation Thoughts:

  • If you were in charge of arranging for the introduction into the world of the most important human being ever to live, what might that introduction be like?  To whom should it be made known?
  • Here’s one I continue to ponder: God cannot be tempted with sin (Jas. 1:13) and yet Jesus, God in the flesh, was tempted in every respect as are we (Heb. 4:15).  How are these both true?
  • Jesus was not “Jesus” until so named by Joseph and Mary, as per the angel’s instruction (Lk. 1:31).  He was present in the beginning, was God’s agent of creation, was present during Israel’s wilderness wandering (1 Cor. 10:4).  He presently resides at God’s right hand and will be returning to collect His own to deliver over to God for eternity.
  • When God made all things everything about it was very good (Gen. 1:31).   When God came in the flesh to live among His creation, it was unwilling to receive Him (John 3:19).  Think about this; the world God made was so made to allow for Satan to work and influence humanity against his creator.

Memory Verse:

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is come from God”  (1 John 4:2; ESV)

Devotional Writing Links:

Jesus and Me (CLICK HERE)

He Emptied Himself (CLICK HERE)

Created and Re-created

The Bible begins with Creation.  It all happened “in the beginning” so that’s a good place to start.  After six days of creative activity God “rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Gen. 2:1).

That doesn’t mean God was done creating.  In a sense, humanity is the ongoing work of God’s creation.  “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psa. 139:13-14).

Up to this point I have no input into God’s creative efforts.  I have not asked to be “formed,” I have not chosen to exist.  Yet, here I am.

That’s not all there is to creation, though.  The very language used to describe one’s being transformed by Jesus Christ is unmistakable.  We are said to be “created in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).  We also are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Eph. 2:10).  This is a re-creation, if you will. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17).

The parallel imagery is unequivocal.  In Genesis 1 man is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27).  In Christ we put on “the new self” that is “after the image of its creator” (Col. 3:10).

I contribute nothing to being made in God’s image as a human being.  But being re-created “in the likeness of God” cannot happen without me.  My will, my choice, my determination are necessary to “put off” my “old self” and to “put on the new self” (Eph. 4:22,24).  Of course, the end result is the creation of God, but still I must “put to death…what is earthly” in me and put on the compassion, kindness, humility and so on that are the new self (Col. 3:5-12).

Creation has already happened.  That makes me human.

Re-creation needs to happen.  That makes me Christ’s!

—David Deffenbaugh