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Changed by Beholding

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Date: 03/18/2006 
By beholding we become changed. Studying Christ and putting on Christ changes us and is the whole of Christianity.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

[Welcome comments] This message is one of the most important messages. And if you can really latch on to the core of what I'm going to share with you this morning, it can transform your life. It can revolutionize your experience with Jesus. And I'd even invite you to look past the messenger today and look to the message, because the message is a very important, valid Bible truth. And it's very simply this, we are changed by beholding. That would be the sermon title. Actually, I sort of regret, I wanted to call the sermon, what are you looking at? But that sounded a little bit rough. And it's based on the scripture, I want to read it one more time, that we had during our scripture reading, II Corinthians 3:17-18. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there's liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed.” And that word transformed there comes from the Greek word metamorphu. What do think that relates to? It's where we get the word metamorphosis. And so you could even be thinking about what a radical transformation a worm goes through as it comes out of its chrysalis and becomes a butterfly. But here it's saying that this metamorphosis takes place by looking at something. Changed by beholding.

I don't completely understand how it works, but you can see that around the world creatures seem to be influenced by their environment. For instance, if you go to the jungles, there's all these different creatures. It's amazing. You get little bugs that look like leaves. Did they decide to look like leaves? Are they that smart? Can you tell that there's a praying mantis on the right there, in with those leaves? Look how camouflaged it is. Matter of fact, they are a study in themselves. They've got praying mantis that look like white orchid flowers, and when they stand on a white orchid flower you can't tell what's the flower and what's the bug. How did they do that? And then if you go to different parts of the world, just look at the animals, and then their environment.

Go to the Arctic for a moment minute. You've got your Arctic fox, what color are they? And your Arctic hare, or bunnies. And your polar bears. They all look like what? They all look like snow. Why? Because they look at snow all the time. Or, is it possible. Now this is caveman theology, but it’s solid stuff. Or is it possible that snow is white, because the foxes and the bears and the hares are white? And if the foxes and the bears and the hares were black then the snow would be black. How many of you buy that? So we all agreed that the environment is not changing to suit the creatures. The creatures are metamorphosing somehow. No, I do believe in what you call microevolution, not to be confused with macro, the typical views of evolution. In other words, dachshunds can eventually be bread into St. Bernards. There are variations between species, but they don't go from species to species.

And when you see the rabbits that are in the Southwest, what color are they? A white bunny out in the desert doesn't last long. They just stand out. And if you go to the savanna of Africa, do you think it's an accident that the animals blend in with their environment? I don't understand exactly how God does this. And if you talk to evolutionists they'll talk about natural selection and only the ones that happened to be colored right managed to survive over millions of years and that's why they all sort of take on this. That's really hard to sell when you think it through. I think the Lord in His goodness helps them blend and I also wonder if by beholding they’re transformed. It just seems true.

I remember somebody telling me years ago, “Doug, after people are married long enough they start to look alike.” And I thought, “That’s ridiculous.” But then I started looking at it and I thought, “You know, they do start using some of the same words and they start walking and talking the same. And maybe it’s because they eat at the same table, pretty soon they just start looking like each other.” Am I the only one who’s thought this before? Have you ever noticed that people, after they’re married long enough, they start to look like each other? I mean, you can understand why the children would look like the parents, but why would the couple start to look like each other?

And then someone took it a step further, and I’m not sure I buy this, but they say that after a while people start looking like their pets. Have you heard this before? By beholding we become changed. [Pictures on screen] Now we borrowed these off the Internet or someone e-mailed these to me from some pet food advertisement and I thought they would let me share this with you. But I thought, “Boy, they did an uncanny job of matching up which pets go with which owner.”

There is a point to this. The point is that we become like what we look at. So, what are you looking at? They've got a series of programs now that are very popular. They're called extreme makeovers. And sometimes it might be a person that's made over; it might be a room or a house that's made over. And the difference before and after is pretty radical. I remember one time. Have any of you seen my caveman book? On the back of my book it's got the now picture and the before picture-- when I had the long hair. There was an advertisement one time, we were advertising and evangelistic meeting and said, “What changed this man?” And it shows the caveman picture and it shows the more modern, contemporary picture. And somebody had taken the poster and wrote underneath it, “Super Cuts.”

But we are radically transformed by our environment. In these extreme makeovers people are interested because they don't like who they are and they want to be different. I'll submit to you that the most extreme makeover is where people who are lost and they take on the image of the enemy are transformed into the image of Christ by beholding Him. I Corinthians 15:49, “And as we have borne the image of the man of dust,” Adam, “we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man,” Jesus. When you read this in context, it's comparing the first Adam and the second Adam. Now God’s plan in the beginning was man was made in the image of whom? Of God. But when man turned his back on God and to listen to the serpent he began to take on the image of the enemy, the serpent. And the purpose of the plan of salvation is to restore the image of God in His creatures. The whole thing is an extreme makeover. That's the plan of salvation. It is to restore in man the image of God. And what is a Christian? Romans 8:29, “For whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” “To be conformed to the image of His Son. That he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” A Christian is being transformed into the image of the Son of God. That's what Christianity is all about. Would you like to have a new image?

Companies have learned, successful companies have learned that in order for them to grow and to thrive they must have a good vision for the company. How many of you are part of some corporation or company or agency that has a vision statement? Even churches have vision statements. We have one here at Central. What does the Bible say? “Where there's no vision, the people perish.” You’ve got to have a vision, why? Because that organization, that agency, that company, that church, will be transformed into the likeness of the vision that they are moving towards. And if man has his vision on the world and the devil, he begins to take on the image of that master.

Some people are experts at impersonating. And you don't have to drive very far from Sacramento to see that there's a virtual army of Elvis impersonators in Reno and Las Vegas. Now Karen and I one time went to a potluck after church. [aside about finding a penny] There was a gentleman there and he did look a little odd, because he had the big sideburns and a pompadour, and he was about 50 years old. And during the course of our dinner, he told us a story. I'm going to say his name was Joe for the purpose of retelling. And he was an Elvis impersonator. He wasn't dressed up like Elvis because he went to church with us that day in this town. When he was 16 to 18 years old he went to an Elvis concert. Back when Elvis was just beginning his stellar rocket launch into fame. And he saw the girls screaming and swooning and throwing their clothes, and he thought, “Wow, I'd like to be Elvis. I'd like to be like him.” And he became fixated with Elvis. He began to get all of the magazine pictures of Elvis. He dyed his hair black. He got a guitar and he learned to play. He'd stand in front of the mirror by the hour, and he'd sing Elvis' songs. If there was an Elvis movie he'd go. And as bad as they were, because he was never known as a great actor, he'd sit there all day long.

That was back in the days where you could go into the theater and keep watching it over and over again. And he'd watch it again and again. He wallpapered his room with Elvis Presley posters. Whenever Elvis was doing a concert within hundreds of miles he'd go and he'd be there and he got all of this paraphernalia-- Elvis signatures and a cinder block Elvis had karated. And then when Elvis died (what was that, 30 years ago now) he had spent so much time, just a sort of a gimmick among his friends, imitating Elvis that he had become very good at it. And he began to go work in Las Vegas. He was one of the first ones who began to be an Elvis impersonator. He could sing like him, move like him, talk like him. And when we met him he was already getting to be a little older. He was a 50 year old, a little bit dumpy, Elvis. And he said he was still making $10,000 at a concert in Japan doing Elvis impersonations. Now this experience was 15 years ago. It was really sad because he said, “Here I am. I realize I can't do this for long. I was raised a Christian home, and I spent all of my life worshiping somebody who was really a big zero, spiritually. Now I have no identity.” I always thought to myself after that experience, if he could become that much like Elvis (it was eerie) by worshiping and idolizing a mortal man, what a powerful church we would have if we would do with Jesus what some people do with Elvis. If we would surround ourselves with Christ and look at Him and study Him and think about Him and want to imitate Him.

Now you might be thinking, “Doug, isn’t’ that faking?” If that’s where you start, He’s a good person to imitate. There’s nothing wrong with that. Maxine Dunham said, “In many ways we act our way into Christ’s likeness more than we pray our way into Christ’s likeness.” There’s nothing wrong with making a conscious effort to say, “Now what would Jesus do in this situation?” and then do it. And you might think, “Doug, isn’t that works oriented?” Call it whatever you want. That’s our mission. We are to act like Christ. And pray as you do it and the Holy Spirit will give you the grace to be Christ-like. Little brothers imitate their older brothers, don’t they? And the older brothers will say, “Mom, Dad, he’s copying me. Tell him to stop copying me.” And then you’ll hear in the background, “He’s copying me.” Because they’re looking for someone to model after. I saw some of the parents nodding. You know what I’m talking about. Because we’re looking for somebody. We’re trying to find an identity as we grow up; who are we. And somewhere along the way, everybody picks somebody.

I understand that one of the challenges in our culture, with the almost epidemic increase in homosexual issues. And I’m not taking this opportunity to fire at that. I’m just stating what I think is a clinical fact. At the same time there has been a proportionate increase in the breakdown of the family and single families, single parents. And young children, at a very important time in their development, if boys do not have a strong male model and if girls do not have a strong female model they can begin to imitate the wrong sex and they get confused. And it affects them the rest of their lives. There’s a time when little ducks are first hatched and they look around and as their little eyes clear they latch onto whatever looks like it could be in control and they begin to follow it.

Karen and I were kayaking down river one time with some friends and we came upon a baby duck that had either been abandoned or somehow separated from the brood. And we thought it was so cute. There was no mother around. We picked it up, little baby squeaky thing. Took it back to the camp, showed it to our friends. We all cuddled it for a little while and then we thought, “Well, what are we going to do? We’re kayaking down the river.” We thought we’d better let it go. We felt so sorry for the thing. We let it go. It wouldn’t leave. It stayed with us. And it slept in our sleeping bags that night. In the morning it was peep, peeping all around the camp. And it was kind of fun; a little mascot. And then we thought, well, we've got to say goodbye. We're kayaking now. We waved goodbye, and thought maybe its mother come back. It started following us down the river. It jumped up on our kayaks, rode with us, would not let us go. Rode out the whole camp trip with us, and so our friends took it home. It bonded; it wanted to be with us. And who knows, it might have learned to preach if we’d kept it long enough.

I hesitate to tell you that it came to a tragic end. Our friends let it go in their bass pond and it was still too small. But the point was still there. They model; they bond. And we do it to, whether we admit it or not, or think about it or not. We have our heroes, we have our idols, we have those we worship. Not only what are you looking at, who are you looking at? Now in the Bible, we are invited to put on Christ. Do you remember when Aaron was commissioned as the high priest? The Bible says that they went through this elaborate ceremony where Aaron was washed and then, one vestment at a time, they put on his linen garments. And then they put on the priestly garments, and then they put on the ephod, and they put on the crown, and they dressed him. And little by little as he put on these holy garments he then became the holy priest. You and I are to put on the garments of Christ. And we become a nation of kings and priests. Isn’t that right?

You know, something comes over a person. If you are a police officer you have an authority. And you know, if you’re a police officer, that authority seems to be more real when you’re in uniform. Isn’t that right? And if you see an out of uniform officer you might not treat them the same way as when you see one who’s got his uniform and his badge on. Pastor Brauner [?], who was a pastor here for years, he was always connected with the National Guard. He came last time in his uniform. And I noticed that everybody treated him differently when he was in uniform as a chaplain. It makes a difference. While you are a Christian you are to be in uniform. You have been invited to put on the vestments of Christ, to put on the robe of Jesus’ righteousness. There’s several verses here that explain this. Romans 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.” Is it safe to assume that if you have not put on the Lord Jesus Christ it’s going to be difficult the lusts of the flesh? Do you find that there? Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” The same time that Aaron began his work as priest he put on the vestments. When you and I are baptized we put on Christ. We put on His robes of righteousness. Ephesians 4:24, “And that you put on the new man, which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness.” You notice there, it says, “put on, put on, put on.”

Can you picture your kids, you're getting ready for school in the morning and you call upstairs and say, “What's taking so long?” They say, “I'm trying to get dressed, but my clothes won't put themselves on me.” Do clothes usually mount themselves on your body? Or do you need to participate in putting them on? Would you accept the excuse of your child when they're sitting on the bed and their garments are all spread out clean, next to them, and they say, “I'm trying to get ready, but they just sit there.” You say, “Well, you've got to do something. You've got to put it on.” And I think some of us have said, “I don't understand. I'd like to be clothed with Christ's righteousness, but it won't get on me.” You've got to put it on. You just reach out by faith because He's provided it for you and you put it on. C.S. Lewis said, “Putting on Christ is not one among many jobs the Christian has to do. It is the whole of Christianity.” And I agree with him. Putting on Christ is the whole; that's what a Christian is. He represents Jesus.

We can have our lives transformed by our families. Children imitate their parents, don't they? It's always a terrifying thought for me how children become like their parents. This last week I went down to Palm Springs. I went to visit Daniel, our oldest boy, and his wife Michelle. They have a new baby, Danielle. And first I got home, and I'm playing with the baby and Daniel came back from work. As soon as he walked in the door, he's got a beard, and a little scruffy, and I looked at him and I thought, “Wow, that's what I looked like at that age.” I just had to laugh. Your kids become like you, don't they? And then as you grow up you find yourself saying the very same things to your children your parents said to you that you vowed you'd never say. You end up becoming like your parents. Matter of fact, the Bible blessings and the cursings can go to the third and the fourth generation. Why is that? Is God arbitrarily saying, “Well, if you're not nice to me I'm going to curse your children and your grandchildren.”? Or is God saying your behavior will be modeled by your children and your grandchildren? Why? Because we’re changed by beholding. And as much as you try not to, to some extent. You're going to be like your parents. I'm not even talking about the genes and DNA. I'm talking about because you’re around them. You become like what you look at.

Which is a very important point for me to emphasize what is maybe the most important point. You may not be able to control what you've inherited genetically. Someone said, “When it comes to heart disease, choose your ancestors very carefully.” Now, I believe there are practical things you can do to promote good heart health, but some of it is hereditary. But when it comes to holiness you can't use that excuse. Because you can choose what to behold. You maybe they didn't have a choice, what family. You maybe didn't even have a choice in your early education. There are some circumstances we all have no choice over, but I think that everybody here can make choices regarding what we choose to look at now. And what we choose not to look at. Because you will become like what you look at. You are changed; you are transformed, by beholding.

With that in mind, what do you think has the biggest impact on morals in our society today? The media. Now it can be good or bad depending on what you're looking at. If you're spending your time watching Christian programming, well that's good. Not all of it, but most of it’s good. Maybe not even most of it. A lot of it can be good. Well, some of it's good. We’ll compromise. But how much time do you think people spend looking at television, videos, the Internet? I was reading some statistics. A group, The Kaiser Family Foundation, said there's great danger in television and videos. It shapes our thinking. They said, “For instance, the number of sexual scenes that television portrays has doubled since 1998.” You don't think that has any impact on the morals of a people? Especially when you consider that next to working and sleeping, people in North America to spend more time watching TV than in any other activity. That's including students. Some students spend as much time watching TV as they do in school. You become like what you look at. And that should make us shudder when you think what people are looking at. And the values that are portrayed by Hollywood are not getting better, in my opinion.

Something else that they observed, another survey, the same company. It revealed that children and teens are spending an increasing amount of time using new media like computers, the Internet, video games, they're not going back on the time that they used to stand with the old media like TV and radio, music. And so we’re being bombarded by media, and we are changed by beholding. I think we need to very carefully, what we're looking at. And I will say what you've heard me say before because, like I said, this is one of the most important things that you can do, practical things you can do to determine how Christ-like you become. “If your right hand offends you, cut it off. If your right eye offends you, pluck it out. If your right foot offends you, cut it off. You're better off entering heaven maimed,” Jesus is using a metaphor, “than going into the lake of fire with a whole body.” And if you can’t control what's coming through the Internet, disconnect. If you can't control what's being watched in your home on TV or a DVD or television, VCR, radio, music, throw it out, cut it off. What profit is it if you gain entertainment and lose your soul?

This is a point, you've heard me say it before, but I'll probably have to say it again some day soon, because it probably has the most direct, eroding influence on the spiritual vitality of the church of any single factor in our culture. We are drowning in media input, and through constantly beholding things that are decadent and immoral and unChrist-like. It affects us. Just today I was talking to somebody who’s working in the studio, and they said, “My relationship with Jesus has become so much better since we threw out our television.” It is really something to pray about, especially in the times in which we are living.

Now when you are changed by beholding it is a change that is made from the inside out. It is not made from the outside in. Even though you see the fur on a polar bear or the arctic fox, it seems like they're starting from the outside in. That change really begins on the inside out. I understand a polar bear is black, their skin is black, but because their hairs are hollow, they appear white. Jesus said, Matthew 23:25, “ Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside their full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee; first clean the inside of the cup and the dish that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside they're full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so, you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you're full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” If you were going to borrow your neighbors dishes, but they hadn't had a chance to clean them yet, and as you walk out of their house and say, “Thanks for lending me your dishes,” you don’t have time to clean them. If you could choose to clean either just inside or the outside of a bowl and you're going to use it, what would you clean? The outside that your friends might see or the inside that will make a difference in disease? The one for looks or the one for health? Wouldn’t you want to clean the inside of the cup or the bowl or the dish?

But you know, so often we’re preoccupied. We come to church, we wonder what the other Christians see, or what they think. And that really isn’t the important part. You need to consider it, but I think the important part is are we being cleansed on the inside. That’s what really matters to God. I Samuel 16:7, “For a man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” A real change on the inside will result in a change on the outside. If you start on the inside it will then play itself out to outward change. II Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. All things have become new.” And again, I Peter 3:3, “who’s adorning, let it not be the outward adorning, hairdos, wearing of gold, putting on of apparel, but let it be the hidden man in the heart, that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price.” The emphasis is on the inner adorning.

I would dare say that as we prepare to come to church most of us spend a lot of time considering what we look like on the outside. And it is appropriate. I’m glad that you take time when you present yourself before the Lord to have a concern about your outward appearance. It would be kind of scary if none of us took any time to deal with those things, right? But how much time do you spend before you come to church and say, “Lord, when I come into your presence today I want to be clean on the inside, too. I want to be adorned with your characteristics on the inside. Forgive me for anything in my life or attitudes that displeases you.” The inward adorning. When you come to the house of God what really is the most important thing? You remember, it was a Pharisee who said, “I thank you that I’m not like other men.” The publican said, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Jesus said, “The publican went home forgiven and not the Pharisee.” And it didn’t matter what they were wearing that day on the outside. God looks on the heart. Do you have some heart issues that need cleansing?

Now this principle of looking and living can be seen all through the scriptures. I’m going to give you a list of some examples. You look for life. What you look at determines your life. Jesus, before He gives John 3:16, you’ve got, of course, John 3:14-15. And He points us back to the time when Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. And just to give you a quick reminder of how that all happened, the people were complaining about the manna of God, and the Bible tells us that serpents came among the people and bit them and many of them were dying because of that. And as a result God instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent and to put it up on a pole. Whoever looked would be healed from the venom of that serpent. They were to look and live. And then Jesus, drawing back on that story, He said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” They were to look and to live. In the same way, Jesus says in John 12:32, “And if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself.” Why did He say, “if I am lifted up”? What does lifted up mean? Of course, it means crucified. But even more than that, it means in a position of visibility. If I am at a place where they can look they'll live.

Here's a scripture that I found again today, that I haven't seen in a long time. Zechariah 12:10, it's a prophecy. Listen to this. “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplication. And they shall look upon me, whom they've pierced.” This was written before Christ was born. “From the house of David,” Jesus. “They'll look upon me, whom they have pierced, and they'll mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” “Look upon me, whom they have pierced.” And it's in looking upon Christ like that, that we live.

Isaiah, what brought about his conversion? Chapter 6:1, “Isaiah saw the Lord and he was converted.” He looked, and he lived. Keep going here. Zacceus, what brought about his conversion? He was a short man, but he wanted to see Jesus so he climbed a tree so he could look and live. Am I right so far? Simple, but I think it's good theology. The thief on the cross, did he see Jesus lifted up? He looked, he believed and he lived. He wasn't even baptized, but will he be in paradise? Yes. What brought about the faith of the disciples? Remember when Jesus rose from the dead, they weren't sure it was Him. He said, “Behold, my hands and my feet.” Look and live. It says, “they looked and they believed.” And then Paul, the conversion of the great apostle; wrote most of the New Testament. What brought about his conversion? He was on the road to Damascus. What did he see? He saw Jesus lifted up. He looked and he lived, and he was converted.

Now, if it weren't for them then will it work for us now? Can you look and live? It's absolutely true today, friends. Exodus 17:11, this is about looking for victory. You might be thinking, “Doug, how do I apply this in a practical way?” It is still true that you become transformed inside and out into what you look at. Why do you think idolatry is so offensive to the Lord? It's because you become like what you worship. You can you understand some of these pagan nations that, I don't mean to be unkind, but worshiping fish and multi-armed creatures and cows. You become like what you worship. And that's why God said, “Avoid idolatry. Because your visual concept of me is so much greater than anything you can contrive with your hands.” The children of Israel were under attack by the Amalekites. God told Moses to go up on a hill. [end side one]

… and he was to intercede for the people. You all know this story, but I want to bring it all together here. When Moses lifted up his hands to intercede for them and pray for them, and they saw Moses up there on the Hill interceding for them, the battle would begin to go their way and they would begin to win the battle against the enemy, the Amalekites. But Moses was 120 years old practically, and his arms got tired and he begins to lower his arms. I’ve got to take that back, just for the record. He was actually in his 80’s at this point. This was at the beginning of the wilderness wandering. But still, his arms got tired. He lowered his arms and then the people couldn’t look and see him interceding; they began to lose and the Amalekites began to win. So he'd lift them back up again, and they'd get tired; win, lose. It's a good thing that Moses wasn't abusive. It would be terrible if you had some fiend up there that did that for humor. I wouldn't want to give that power away to anybody. He wanted them to win. Can you imagine the pressure on someone? You know that when your arms get weak and your hands go down your people start to die. Can you imagine the burning sensation in his arms as he was trying to lift his hands? So, finally, you know what they did. They rolled a rock behind him so he could lean up against the rock, rest himself, and Aaron stood on one side, his brother, and Hur stood on another site, two of the patriarchs, and they held his arms up. And then the people won.

Do you see the connection between how the church was able to win the battle against the enemy? When they could look, they got the victory. When they couldn't see him there, they forgot, they lost. Do we sometimes forget that Jesus is alive right now; that He's here, that He is interceding before the Father? What is Christ doing now? Christ is in heavenly places as our High Priest, His hands are stretched out, He is interceding that you and I should have victory. If you in your mind's eye, if you see Him there, by beholding Him, you become changed. By beholding Him, you live, and by beholding Him you get the victory. How many people have won on the field of some sports event because they knew their parents were in the stands watching? And they looked up and they saw their parents, they saw their mom, their dad there cheering them on, and they came back because of the confidence of someone who love them that was on their side. If that's true with a child and parent, how much more is it true with you and Jesus? He's rooting for you. You need to look at Him and live.

Being a Christian is not easy. Matter of fact, I tell people living a holy life is virtually impossible, but God wants you to live a holy life. The question is, can you do the impossible as a Christian? I'll submit, you can. Is it possible to cross a sea? With the Lord it is, if He parts it. Is it possible to walk on water? How was Peter able to walk on water? Can you walk on water? I'm not talking about 3 inches deep. I'm talking about real water. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus he was able to walk on water. It was by looking he was able to walk that walk. When he took his eyes off Jesus and began to look at the elements and the environment and the problems; you become like what you look at. He started to see the storm and he let the storm define his thinking and he lost his faith and he sank. Then he turned back to Jesus. And Jesus said, “Why did you doubt? Why did you take your eyes off me?” And then he was able to walk back to the boat with Christ again.

Does this seem too simple? You become like what you look at. You can choose to live forever. You can look and live. Christ said, “If I am lifted up I will draw all men.” You are changed by beholding. Metamorphosis. “How could I ever be a butterfly?” the caterpillar asks. We don't know how it happens, but it happens. If you fix your eyes on Jesus, keep Him before you, imitate Him, put Him on, He is your example in these things, you will be transformed into His image. But you notice, a caterpillar doesn't wind up a cocoon and come out the next day. This metamorphoses, there is a process involved, it's called sanctification. Don't get discouraged if you don't change in one day. A red fox did not migrate up to the Arctic and turned white the next day. How many of you would agree with that? Grizzly bears did not head north and suddenly turned white. There was some time involved. I don't believe it was millions of years; don't misunderstand me. But don't get discouraged. You might not see the changes, but if you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus the Bible promises you will be changed by beholding. But you must choose what you look at, because you will become like what you worship; you will become like what you behold. Would you like to join me today in saying, “Lord, I want to fix my eyes on Jesus.”

I just remembered something. There's a quote I want to read you real quick. This is from the book Reflecting Christ, page 310. “As the mind dwells upon Christ, the character is molded after the divine similitude. The thoughts are pervaded with a sense of His goodness, His love. We contemplate His character and thus He is in all our thoughts. His love encloses us. If we gaze, even a moment, upon the sun,” you ever done that? Stare at the sun for just a moment. “It is meridian glory, when we turn away our eyes the image of the sun will still appear on everything we look at. Thus it is as we behold Jesus. Everything we look upon reflects His image. The Son of Righteousness. We cannot see anything else or talk of anything else. His image is imprinted on the eye of the soul and affects every portion of our daily life, softening, subduing our whole nature. By beholding we are conformed to the divine similitude, even the same likeness of Christ. To all with whom we associate we reflect the bright and cheerful beams of His righteousness. We have been transformed in character, for heart, soul, mind are irradiated with a reflection of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.” Isn't that a beautiful quote? I like that picture of, you look at the sun for a few moments and then you turn away and you see that bright spot on everything you look at. We are changed by beholding Christ.

I'd like to invite you to make that decision today, to say, “Lord, I want to be like Jesus. I'm going to turn my eyes upon Jesus, that I might be transformed into His image.” And that is our closing song, 290. Let stand and sing.


If you go to the Alamo, there by the entrance they've got some of the pictures of those who died giving their life to provide freedom. And by one picture of a Captain Bonnin [?] there’s the caption underneath and it says, “This is not actually his picture. No picture of the captain exists. This is a picture of his nephew that the family supplied because they said that he had a striking similarity to his uncle, and we wanted you to know something of what he looked like.” We don't know exactly what Jesus looked like. The world wants to know. But He would like to be reflected in you and me. Not only are we changed by beholding Him, but as you are transformed into His image, others will be changed by beholding Him in you. I want to be a witness for Christ, don't you? I want to reflect Him. That's what it's all about. Is that your prayer?


Father in heaven, it is our prayer today that each of our souls can be something like an ancient photographic plate. And as the lens cap is removed, and we gaze upon Christ that impression will be made and that we will reflect His image. Help us Lord to receive the divine by beholding. I pray that you will honor your promises in your word, that through looking at Christ, we can walk the walk, even if there are stormy waves about us. By looking at Jesus, interceding on our behalf, we can gain the victory over the enemy and temptation. And most important, Lord, by beholding Christ, by abiding in Him and with Him we can be transformed into His image. And that the world will see Jesus in us. Help us, Lord, to do our part to put Christ on and to be Christians in our hearts, beginning on the inside and leading to the outside. Bless this church that we might really have this experience. Help us to make whatever changes we need to make in our lives in a practical way, that we can be changed by beholding. Thank you, Lord, for hearing this prayer. In the name of your Son, we ask, amen.



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Is It Possible to Live Without Sinning (PB) by Joe Crews

Is It Possible to Live Without Sinning (PB) by Joe Crews

Culture And The Christian (PB) by Joe Crews

Culture And The Christian (PB) by Joe Crews
God's Promises

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