Net Questions:

Have you ever wanted to imitate someone famous? Who would that be and why?

The Bible makes it clear we should imitate God. Jesus’ life gave us the most beautiful picture of what that would look like. What are some areas of our lives which could be effected in a positive way if we sought to imitate Christ?
2 Th 2:16  May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,
2 Th 2:17  encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

It may seem like an unrealistic goal to imitate Christ Jesus, especially the way He loved and the way He lived. But we don’t depend on our power when pursuing this goal. See if you can find some of the components of this power in the following Scripture...
1 Pet 1:13  Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Pet 1:14  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.
1 Pet 1:15  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
1 Pet 1:16  for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
1 Pet 1:17  Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.
1 Pet 1:18  For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,
1 Pet 1:19  but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
1 Pet 1:20  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

If we are going to imitate and reflect God in our lives, we must learn to lead, learn and listen like Jesus. Take these three traits one at a time and describe how Jesus did these things and ways in which we can do the same.

15Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise,
Ephesians 5:15 (NIV)
16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:16 (NIV)
17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Ephesians 5:17 (NIV)

Sermon Notes:

Church Defined-Chosen to Imitate
Ephesians 5:1-21

I was watching the news the other day and there was a report about a new designer Tennis Shoe that Kanye West has designed.
People had camped out for as much as a week in order to get a pair of these shoes which will cost 250.00. Amazing what people will do in order to get something they think will help them imitate someone famous.

What was funny was this…They interviewed one guy and asked him what was the hardest part about the wait. He been camped out since Monday and it was the end of the week. He said, "The hardest part is just having to put up with all these crazy people!"
He was oblivious to the fact he was one of those crazy people!"

Then they talked to this girl who was there camping out and waiting as well. When asked about the price of the shoe, she responded, "There worth it no matter the cost!"

Really? A pair of shoes worth it no matter the cost?

Our quest to be like the famous people out there seems to be insatiable. We want to imitate them right down to their shoes no matter the cost!

What is the definition of the word imitate?

imitate |ˈimiˌtāt|
take or follow as a model
• copy (a person's speech or mannerisms)
• copy or simulate

imitation |ˌimiˈtāSHən|
a thing intended to simulate or copy something else
• the action of using someone or something as a model: a child learns to speak by imitation.
• an act of imitating a person's speech or mannerisms

We all go through phases in life where we want to imitate someone, to be like them.
When we're young it may be our parents. When we get a little older it may be one of our peers. Then when we become a teenager, the desire to become like a famous athlete, famous singer, or a famous actor kicks in.

As adults we're not immune! Many adults want to be like some famous person, or they want to be like their successful co-worker, or their successful neighbor.

Preachers are not immune. Sometimes the mega church pastor, who travels the speaking circuit, and writes best sellers, seems to be a great person to imitate and unfortunately that's what drives some guys. Just another type of fame and fortune and it has brought down many good men.

Now it is not always bad to have someone you look up to and want to be like, but choosing who you will imitate is a very important decision. God's Word tells us we were chosen to imitate and also tells us who we should imitate!!
Let's PRAY and then we'll take a look…

 Please open your Bibles to Ephesians 5 and we'll begin with verse 1.

1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
Ephesians 5:1 (NIV)

 God has chosen us to be imitators of God, and I love the way Paul put this...

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children."

Why does he say therefore? He's once again pointing back to verses he had just written. Because of what those verses say, he encourages his readers to be imitators of God! Let's go back and catch three verses from last weeks message, that precede the verses for the day...

22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
Ephesians 4:22 (NIV)

23to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
Ephesians 4:23 (NIV)

24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:24 (NIV)

 How in the world do we put off the old self, corrupted by its deceitful desires, become new in the attitude of our minds, and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness?

 The only way is to become an imitator of God! To begin to desire with all that is within you to be God-like. You and I will never be God, but our goal in life should be to more and more like God.

 In fact, Paul said we were created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness!
True righteousness and holiness can only come from God! We could never achieve true righteousness and holiness in and of ourselves!!

You might wonder what this true righteousness and holiness would look like. What would it look like to be like God?

 Aren't you glad God didn't leave us guessing? He showed us what that would look like when He took on human flesh and lived among us in the form of His Son Jesus!!!
And what an amazing example Jesus was!!!

You might remember this conversation between Jesus and Philip...

8Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
John 14:8 (NIV)

9Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
John 14:9 (NIV)

10Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
John 14:10 (NIV)

Jesus was the perfect image of His Father!
There was a unique and special relationship between the Father and His Son.

The fact that we were created to be like God, indicates a Parent/Child relationship as well. Let's look at our first verse again...

1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
Ephesians 5:1 (NIV)

As dearly loved children, we should desire to be like our Heavenly Daddy!
And the more we learn about God through the life of Christ, we should desire to be more like Jesus every day!!

But how can we become imitators of God, imitators of Christ? It's just so hard to be that good!

Well, maybe we just need to get Zapped! The theme of our Vacation Bible School this week is Zapped! The children are going to talk about Saint Peter and the fact that he wasn't always a saint! However, he met Jesus and began to hang out with Jesus! The love of Jesus transformed his very life.

I guess you could say that Saint Peter got Zapped with the love of God through Jesus!

However, if you study the gospels, you'll discover, that Peter still had a long ways to go in his quest to be like Jesus. God doesn't just zap us and all of a sudden we're just like Jesus.

When a person comes to know Jesus, they are, in a sense Zapped by His love, His grace, and His forgiveness. However, becoming a fully developed disciple of Christ is a wonderful process that takes place daily over a lifetime!!

 Paul gives us some very deep insight into the process of becoming an imitator of God. Remember to imitate means to "follow as a model!" God has given us Jesus as our model. Our role model.
And before I share with you what it takes to become an imitator of God, I want to clear something up for some of you...

Being imitators of God has nothing to do with a cookie cutter!

We each imitate Christ in our own unique and individual way.

God made us all look different, think a little different, and He gave us all different taste and talents. Aren't you glad?

 Each of us are to be a unique imitation of God!!

Let's look at the details of this journey we should all be on. Our pilgrimage to become more like Jesus!!

1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
Ephesians 5:1 (NIV)

2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:2 (NIV)

The first detail of our quest to be imitators of God is to…

"Love like Jesus"

"Just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God!"

If you want to imitate God, you're going to have to learn to love like Jesus!!

He touched the lepers, saved an adulteress from being stoned, reached out to a hated group of people known as the tax collectors, and He even asked His Father to forgive the very people who hung Him on the Cross!

Do you want to be imitate God?
Love like Jesus!! In fact God Commands us to love like Jesus…

1 John 3:23  And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

The second detail of our quest to be imitators of God is to...

"Live like Jesus"

3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
Ephesians 5:3 (NIV)

4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Ephesians 5:4 (NIV)

5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater —has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Ephesians 5:5 (NIV)

And just in case this last verse is worrisome to you, just remember, we all were once immoral, impure, greedy, idolaters, but Jesus forgave us and made us brand new through the Cross!!!

The book of Titus puts it this way...

3At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
Titus 3:3 (NIV)

4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
Titus 3:4 (NIV)

5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
Titus 3:5 (NIV)

6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Titus 3:6 (NIV)

7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:7 (NIV)

8This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Titus 3:8 (NIV)

The third detail of our quest is to be imitators of God is…

"Lead like Jesus!"

6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
Ephesians 5:6 (NIV)

7Therefore do not be partners with them.
Ephesians 5:7 (NIV)

There's always going to be people who will try to deceive you with empty words.
They will taunt you and try to get you to do things they know are wrong

Paul warns us not to be partners with them. This doesn't mean we don't love them, we do, we just don't partner with them in their bad behavior!

When you look back at the life of Jesus, you discover that He was a leader even if it might get Him into trouble...

1One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.
Luke 14:1 (NIV)

2There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy.
Luke 14:2 (NIV)

3Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?”
Luke 14:3 (NIV)

4But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.
Luke 14:4 (NIV)

5Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?”
Luke 14:5 (NIV)

6And they had nothing to say.
Luke 14:6 (NIV)

This is something I tell my kids...Be the leader!!!

 The fourth detail of our quest to be imitators of God is to...

"Shine Light like Jesus!"

8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
Ephesians 5:8 (NIV)

9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)
Ephesians 5:9 (NIV)

10and find out what pleases the Lord.
Ephesians 5:10 (NIV)

11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
Ephesians 5:11 (NIV)

12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
Ephesians 5:12 (NIV)

13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
Ephesians 5:13 (NIV)

14for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Ephesians 5:14 (NIV)

When Jesus was in this world, He was the light of the world...

John 8:12  When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Jesus not only shined the light, He encouraged His followers to do the same...

14“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Matthew 5:14 (NIV)

15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
Matthew 5:15 (NIV)

16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

Want to be a reflection of God, then shine your light in a world of darkness. God's light in you may help others see just how sick and hurt, and lonely and hopeless they really are.

 The fifth detail of our quest to be imitators of God is to...

"Learn like Jesus"

15Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise,
Ephesians 5:15 (NIV)

16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:16 (NIV)

17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Ephesians 5:17 (NIV)

All Jesus wanted was to do the Father's will…In fact it was what He ate, drank and slept!

John 4:34  "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.

 If we are going to imitate and reflect God in our lives, we must lay aside our agendas and ask God to reveal His divine agenda for us!
I spoke to our young people last Sunday evening and I told them no matter how amazing their own plans are, God's plans are even better.

Question is will we trust Him!! Let me just reassure you about God's will...

7No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
1 Corinthians 2:7 (NIV)

8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1 Corinthians 2:8 (NIV)

9However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” —
1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:10 (NIV)

11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 2:11 (NIV)

The sixth detail of our quest to be imitators of God is to...

"Listen to the Holy Spirit like Jesus!"

18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 (NIV)

Even Jesus depended on the Holy Spirit for power and anointing. Listen...

14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
Luke 4:14 (NIV)

15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
Luke 4:15 (NIV)

16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.
Luke 4:16 (NIV)

17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
Luke 4:17 (NIV)

18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,
Luke 4:18 (NIV)

19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:19 (NIV)

20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,
Luke 4:20 (NIV)

21and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:21 (NIV)

What could you and I accomplish if we would allow God's Holy Spirit to empower us and anoint us. I believe we would become like Christ in such a way that we too would preach good news to the spiritually poor, proclaim freedom for those who are spiritual prisoners and recovery of sight for the spiritually blind and release the spiritually oppressed.

The seventh detail of our quest to be imitators of God is to...

Let Jesus Be Lord of our "Worship!"

19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,
Ephesians 5:19 (NIV)

20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20 (NIV)

 Let's Pray!!

Colossians 1:9
1 Peter 1:13ff