We see too much of this world and what is around us. It can clog our eyes and mind with astonishment, unease, worry, or fear and dread. Yet, with spiritual eyesight, we can see beyond the temporal world in which we live. Paul talks about seeing the unseen things even in the midst of troubles in 2 Corinthians 4:18. “while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
So the question is, are you seeing the unseen? You might answer yes and no. Yes, you see God’s promises and believe they’re yours but no, you’re not participating in them yet. How do we see the unseen things of God, the promised blessings? It comes down to faith. You can’t even please God in any way without faith. With faith you believe Jesus loves you and died for you. It’s by or with faith you receive the blessings of His new covenant of grace. It’s time to put aside the smack-in-your-face sights and put confidence in trusting God’s Word, His promises. Then step out in faith and with an open heart receive what God has promised. It’s already yours. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see,” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV).
Paul says to follow his example in Philippians 3:17. Here he adds an important point. I have both Twitter, Facebook, and other accounts where people “follow” me. Even though I try to be a good example, I don’t expect people to follow me in everything I do or believe. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul says to follow his example but makes it clear we aren’t just following him but ultimately our example is Christ. “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (NIV2011). The image of Jesus is what we want to shine through us, so our example is Jesus.
“To be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). The Word is Jesus and following the Word is following Jesus as our example. We can look at the imperatives of the Word as examples of how Jesus lives. We can read the scriptures and see how Jesus handles situations. If we follow His example, we can’t go wrong. Paul was just a normal person like you and me, but he was following Christ just as we can.
Maybe we can be an example to follow as we follow Christ.
The Ark of the Covenant was to rest on the shoulders of the Priests. They were the ones to carry it. Israel got into trouble when men carried it, placing it on an ox cart. But when the ox stumbled and it looked as if the Ark would fall off, Uzi reached out to keep it from falling but it cost him his life. He didn’t follow instructions not to touch it. It was to be carried by the Priests (on poles). The ox cart was not authorized either. Now the Ark weighed close to 250 pounds. No wonder man wanted it carried on a cart because that’s a lot of weight.
But isn’t that how we are, trying to do things when we should be relying on the Lord’s strength, grace, and wisdom? Daily we have a choice of carrying our problems, difficulties, and burdens and trying to fix them or turn them over to the Lord and let Him carry our load and fix our problems. It’s a matter of letting go, trusting Him, and then resting in His ability, strength, power, and grace to work things for our good. He provides the rest when we trust Him.
It does matter how we look to others. What do people see in you that they like? Could someone follow your behavior as a good example? Paul was bold enough to say follow my example and others who live the life he proclaimed. “Brethren, together follow my example and observe those who live after the pattern we have set for you” (Philippians 3:17 AMP). Us grace people often disparage the idea of behavior or performance. In one way, it is true that God has an unconditional love for us that performance and behavior can’t change. Our motive in life is not to try to impress God with our good behavior but to allow the image of Jesus to shine through us. Behavior is highly subjective.
The older generation always thinks the behavior of the younger generation stinks, but they forget they were once the generation that older people didn’t like. However, Paul intimates that there is a pattern in scripture which helps us live the life that glorifies God. There are many imperatives in this verse such as, “follow my example,” that show us the way to allowing Jesus to shine through us. We don’t look at these as ways to get points with God, but ways to show Jesus to the world.
You may have read accounts and testimonies of soldiers being totally delivered from horrible situations or other testimonies of ordinary folks experiencing God’s deliverance from unthinkable circumstances. You may have experienced God’s protection and deliverance in a supernatural way yourself. Whatever you have faced or will face or are even facing right now, know that Jesus is right there with you, and HE will bring you through. Know as the Psalmist did that ‘surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow you all the days of your life’ (Psalm 23:6).
Too often when we’re in the middle of a very tough time, we only see the tough time. Let’s focus and see through the eyes of faith looking beyond, past the tough time. Hear Jesus speaking these words to you today, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you” (Isaiah 43:1-2, NASB).
Have you heard the saying, get your mind out of the gutter? The Apostle Paul says it a little nicer when he says to set your mind on things above. “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2 NKJV). So what does it mean to set your mind on things above, not things on the earth? Jesus told Peter “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Matthew 16:23 NASB). There are things we have to do every day in our jobs, finances, and relationships, which all demand earthly attention. Yet we can look at all these things with a heavenly perceptive. You might even use the saying, “What would Jesus do.”
In The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence, though a humble cook, experienced life in the kingdom of God to its fullest by learning to commune with God each hour of the day even when doing his menial tasks. Our minds have the ability to multitask. Even when filling out a spreadsheet, you can be thanking God for His blessings. It is setting you mind on spiritual things such as the word, mediating and communing with God all day.
Many times when our children were young and we were in a new area, we’d take off and drive around. Sometimes we just enjoyed the countryside. Other times we wanted to find a particular destination. A few times we would not be on the right road and our children would ask us “are we lost?” We always replied, “No, we just don’t know where we are”. It can seem that way in our lives at times. Other times we come to a crossroads and wonder which way to turn. Heaven forbid you make the wrong turn.
No matter the decision, don’t allow condemnation or guilt to override your mind because you found out you made a wrong turn. There’s a solution for that. It is God’s great grace. Just like your car GPS system informs you to make a U-Turn when you missed a turn off, God’s grace simply says make a U-Turn by renewing your thinking and then carry on.
God’s U-Turn is always available and filled with greater peace, joy, and favor.
As grace people, we are not to think that grace doesn’t mean growing in the Word or just being our old selves. Some think that grace means doing whatever you want because God’s grace covers us and He won’t love us any less for what we do. Though that’s true, it doesn’t stop there. God’s gift of grace means that we now want to allow that grace to shine through us to others. There are plenty of scriptures telling us how that should be. We all come from different backgrounds, family situations, and lifestyles. I grew up in a Christian home so I knew what the Word expected of me.
But many people coming to Jesus didn’t have the opportunity to know the Word and lived apart from its admonitions. “1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3 NKJV). Because of our love for the Lord, we want His character to shine through us to the world.