Read an ExcerptIn His Image
By Matthew Lee Smith AuthorHouse Copyright © 2007 Matthew Lee Smith
All right reserved.
Chapter One January 1 Read: Genesis 1-3
In His Image
So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NLT)
Who am I? Self-Esteem, self-image and self worth are all key to our value. Here we see that we are very special, of incredible worth! Our worth flows from our unique creation by the hand of God. Every designer has a purpose for His work. You are no exception. You are wonderfully and specifically made by God for His own purposes.
We have been created! Stop to think about the myths so prevalent today. Evolution teaches that you are the result of random chance and circumstance. Somehow, over time and genetic mutation, you came to be. God however tells us that we are carefully and skillfully made. He tells us that we were hand-crafted in heaven! The psalmist responds to this thought by saying, "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-and how well I know it (Psalm 139:13-14)."
We have been created in God's image! Not only are we hand-crafted by God, we have been made to look like the model. That model is God! Contemplate the enormity of that statement. You possess many of the inner qualities of God Himself!
We have been patterned after God Himself! He used His person as the pattern for your being. God loves, so we love. God rejoices, so we rejoice. God communicates, so we communicate. As we walk on this journey this year, we will discover many of the characteristics of God have been impressed upon our being because He is the pattern for our nature!
We, together as male and female, find our fulfillment as His image bearers! God dwells in community. As the Godhead, he communicates and has relationship with Himself. We are patterned after that image and we too find our ultimate fulfillment of His image when we are united together with the opposite sex in marriage. Then the facets of our differing perspectives begin to reveal the complexity of God's character and the unity of His diversity in personhood.
Thought for today: You were made for a purpose. You were made for a reason. You were made from a model, and that model is God Himself. Today, begin to seek out that purpose and fulfill all that you were designed to be by asking God for guidance to do His will for your life.
January 2 Read: Genesis 4-6
Finding God's Favor
But Noah found favor with the Lord. This is the history of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless man living on earth at the time. He consistently followed God's will and enjoyed a close relationship with him. Genesis 6:8-9 (NLT)
Am I important to God? Throughout life many people struggle with this question. It may come out as "The universe is so big and I am so small." Others may say, "God's so busy with important things, He doesn't have time for me!" The reality is that God has time for you! God loves you! God desires to spend time with you. Noah's example shows us what God is looking for in each of us. He shows us the keys to finding favor with God.
Noah was a righteous man. Righteousness is a big word which simply means living a life which is right before God. Right is a standard. God sets the standard. Noah listened to God and did what God said was right.
Noah was a blameless man. Blame is a common reality in today's world. We who don't want to accept responsibility seek to place the blame for our lives on others. Noah was unspotted by blame. When all was said and done, Noah could not be blamed for the hurts and injuries, the failures and falls of others. Noah sought to live his life before God blameless.
Noah consistently followed God's will. Following God's will means following the heart's desires of God. God has a desire for everyone's life. We will discover His will as He speaks to us along the way. Noah listened to God when He spoke and no doubt reviewed what God had said to his family before him. Then he simply sought to do what God had already communicated. We are fortunate to have the Bible already recorded for us so that we can study God's words and thus follow His will for our lives.
Noah enjoyed a close relationship with God. Relationship comes from time spent with another. Close relationships come from spending a great deal of time with another and appreciating their differences as steps to building character in oneself. There is no Person with greater differences than God! Spending time with Him will transform us into His image.
Thought for today: You were made for a relationship with God. You can have a close relationship with Him. In fact, Jesus tells us, "But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way (John 4:23)." Start to follow Noah's example today and enjoy the results of a closer relationship with God this year!
January 3 Read: Genesis 7-9
Precious In His Sight
And murder is forbidden. Animals that kill people must die, and any person who murders must be killed. Yes, you must execute anyone who murders another person, for to kill a person is to kill a living being made in God's image. Genesis 9:5-6 (NLT)
Does God care what happens to me? Many of us struggle with the complexity of God's world. Does He see what I am doing? Does He care about what happens to me? The answer to this is a resounding "Yes!" God cares so much about you because you are made in His image! You were designed by Him to accomplish great and wonderful things. You are precious in His sight!
Evil is a reality. Ever since Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6), sin has become a reality in every person's life. "When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned (Romans 5:12)." With sin comes the reality of one person putting their agenda ahead of another. This often results in injury to the other. Remember Cain and Abel! We all have the ability to bring about harm to another, often to the point of murdering them. Jesus reminds us that although we may not take a gun to another, there are more subtle and often used methods at our disposal. "You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell (Matthew 5:21-22)." Jesus equates verbal anger with murder!
God finds you precious! Should the evil choices of another lead to your death? God so loves you that He must bring about the ultimate penalty for such injustice - the death of the murderer. The reason for this is clear: You were made in His image. To destroy that image is to destroy the work of God! It is essential that God bring retribution upon those who destroy His image, "and in his justice he will punish those who persecute you (2 Thessalonians. 1:6)."
Thought for the day: You are precious to God! God desires that you understand you were made in His image. You possess a reflection of Him everywhere you are. When people look at you, they are seeing an aspect of God. When anyone mars or destroys that image in you, God takes personal offense. He will repay that person in a manner which is right in His sight. We should be honored to carry about the image of God!
January 4 Read: Genesis 10-12
Following the Leader for Blessing
Then the Lord told Abram, "Leave your country, your relatives, and your father's house, and go to the land that I will show you. I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you." So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. Genesis 12:1-4 (NLT)
How does God bless anyone? What person hasn't thought about the benefits of knowing God? But have you thought about how God sends those benefits to His children? Abram demonstrates to us a clear pattern for receiving the blessing of God.
God initiates blessings by setting out specific commands for us to obey. Abram was contacted by God here in the text. There is no "lead-in" to the story to tell us that this is the result of some previous action or event. It is just like God to initiate blessing in your life! God wants to bless you! God desires your joy (John 15:11)!
God's blessings are often hidden, leaving us with the choice to trust His goodness. When God begins to explain what is required in order to receive His blessings, the cost may seem high. Imagine what must have went through Abram and Sarai's hearts as they realized they would leave all that they knew for all that God wanted to give them! "We must give up to go up," John Maxwell reminds us. Here we see that with clarity.
God's blessings are frequently all we could ask or hope for - and even more! As God reveals His hand of blessing to Abram, the results of obedience are immense, even by today's standards of prosperity! Father of a great nation, fame, a blessing to others, God's personal friend, and a gift to all the world! Ultimately Abram's fulfillment comes in his distant grandchild, Jesus (Galatians 3.8-9).
God's blessing requires a simple response - we must obey what God has told us to do. All Abram had to do to begin the process of receiving was to obey - to leave all and follow the Leader of His life!
Thought for the day: All you need to do to begin the process of receiving the blessing of God is to obey the Leader of your life. What has God asked you to do that you have left undone? Who has God asked you to forgive? What has God asked you to say that remains unsaid? And what has God asked you to give that remains ungiven? Just obey!
January 5 Read: Genesis 13-15
Yearning for a Legacy
 Afterward the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, "Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great."  But Abram replied, "O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don't even have a son? Since I don't have a son, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth.  Then the Lord brought Abram outside beneath the night sky and told him, "Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can.  Your descendants will be like that-too many to count!" And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord declared him righteous because of his faith. Genesis 15: 1-2, 5-6 (NLT)
What do you really want out of life? Abram reminds us that life is meant to have meaning. Despite the tremendous wealth Abram possessed, and the fortune he gives away in Genesis 14, Abram's heart is afraid. Not afraid of poverty, but of insignificance! One can almost hear the angst in his voice as he says, "O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don't even have a son?" In this poignant moment Abram reveals to us how to attract the heart of God and receive the blessing of a legacy.
Even in victory, Abram's heart was crushed by his dilemma. Abram is flush from the victory over the kings yet Abram's heart cannot make merry. Significance to Abram is not victories and recognition. He desires a son of his flesh - someone to continue the family name. That burden is so great, it overshadows all that he accomplishes.
As he cries out to God, God reaffirms Abram's value as His chosen Child. Even when God appears to reassure Abram of His love, the heart's cry isn't ingratitude but agony! Abram's burden overwhelms him. God must relieve that burden, because Abram knows he is powerless to do so. God reassures Abram that His promises are true and they will be fulfilled.
Reaffirmed, Abram believes God through faith and possesses his heart's desire: significance through the legacy of a son! God's confirmation of His promise is sufficient for Abram. His faith is rejuvenated. He trusts in God's character of honesty, and the constant nightly reminder of the immensity of the coming fulfillment.
Thought for the day: Is your heart suffering a faith-attack? Is there a burden so great that no matter what the victory, nothing can remove it? Then cry out to God in your pain. Allow Him to remind you of His faithfulness. And tonight, step outside and count the stars! Remember every night, that God is just as faithful to keep His word to you as He was to keep His word to Abram!
January 6 Read: Genesis 16-18
Refreshing the Lives of Others
The Lord appeared again to Abraham while he was camped near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day about noon, as Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent, he suddenly noticed three men standing nearby. He got up and ran to meet them, welcoming them by bowing low to the ground. "My lord," he said, "if it pleases you, stop here for a while. Rest in the shade of this tree while my servants get some water to wash your feet. Let me prepare some food to refresh you. Please stay awhile before continuing on your journey." "All right," they said. "Do as you have said." Genesis 18:1-5 (NLT)
You are the channel of God's resources! Have you spent much time thinking about how God refreshes the lives of others? Think about all that God wants to do to those whom He loves. He cares about all people and desires to strengthen and encourage them along the journey of life. He possesses immense riches and resources. He desires to unite those resources with those who need to be refreshed. Abraham demonstrates how God accomplishes this task.
Notice the needy. Abraham demonstrates to us that God's first step in refreshing others is for us to have open eyes! We are to be sensitive to the needs of others. Even while we are at leisure, like Abraham, we should be on alert for the needs of those around us. God sees through our eyes.
Go to the needy. Immediately Abraham gets up, disturbing his rest, and initiates hospitality. As a rich man, he could have simply issued a command. However, when God wants to refresh the soul of another, God's child seeks to meet the need personally. When Abraham bows low before them, he demonstrates the attitude of humility before someone of greater importance. He models the New Testament command: "Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had (Philippians 2:4-5)."
Serve the needy. Recognizing exactly what is needed comes with experience in serving. Abraham immediately set out a plan that would refresh the strangers in his midst.
Refresh the needy. By providing rest and refreshment, Abraham distributed the resources of God to the needy in his presence.
Thought for the day. Whatever you possess, God has given it to you to refresh the needs of others. Whatever you can do, God is doing through you to encourage and lift the hearts of others who are made in His image.
January 7 Read: Genesis 19-21
Extending God's Blessings to Others
About this time, Abimelech came with Phicol, his army commander, to visit Abraham. "It is clear that God helps you in everything you do," Abimelech said. "Swear to me in God's name that you won't deceive me, my children, or my grandchildren. I have been loyal to you, so now swear that you will be loyal to me and to this country in which you are living." Genesis 21:22-23 (NLT)
Obedience has its rewards! Abraham's faith yielded a continual blessing, a "shield" about him and all he cared for. His faith protected Lot (Genesis 19) and even protected Sarah when, fearing for their lives, they deceived Abimelech by hiding the fact of their marriage (Genesis 20). Despite the frailties of his cursed humanity, God still protected and blessed Abraham because of his faith. So much so that Abimelelch wants to be associated with, or at least friends of Abraham. Notice the unfolding of the relationship. It is a great lesson for those of us who desire to influence others for the Kingdom of God.
Excerpted from In His Image by Matthew Lee Smith Copyright © 2007 by Matthew Lee Smith. Excerpted by permission.
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