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Life Reference: Genesis 1:27, 5:3; Luke 20:19-26

Focus Verse:

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” (Exodus 20:45).

Have you ever walked down a hall of carnival mirrors? The first mirror shows you pencil thin. Wow! This is not too bad. You move to the next mirror. You are grossly overweight. Move on. As you stroll down the hall, your reflection undergoes wacky transformations. Each optical illusion is a shock—bulging Atlas muscles, an inflated head, exaggerated limbs. Mirror after mirror distorts your image into comical, coarse figures.

Life Reflection:

Are you satisfied with your physical image? What about your social or professional image?

How much time, money, effort do you spend trying to improve your image?

Whose Image?

The goal of the chief priests and scribes was to distort Jesus’ image. They constantly tried to trap Him into saying something politically incorrect. One trick question was, “Should we pay taxes?” (Read Luke 20:19-26.)

Had Jesus said no, the Romans would have put His name on the no-fly list. Had He said yes, the Jews would have labeled Him a traitor.

In reply Jesus called for a coin. “Whose image and superscription is on it?”

Staring at Jesus’ accusers was Caesar’s engraved image—his pointed chin, his hard forehead, and his dead eyes. It was Caesar’s autographed picture.

Jesus said, “Give to Caesar the things that bear his image and to God the things that bear His image.” Zip! Jesus’ accusers’ mouths were shut.

Bottom line: We belong to the one whose image we bear.

“God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him” (Genesis 1:27).

What an image! Beautiful! Perfect! But Self squeezed between God and His creation distorting Adam’s and Eve’s vision. When their focus blurred, they lost their paradise.

“And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth” (Genesis 5:3).

First, God created Adam in His perfect image, then Adam begat children in his distorted image. After the birth of Adam’s grandson Enos, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26). They yearned for what Adam had lost.

Life Reflection:

What did Adam lose in the garden?

What were the differences between Adam as created in God’s image and the sons of Adam as begotten in Adam’s image?

Fake Images

Satan excels at distorting man’s vision with smoke and mirrors, making unholy appear holy, evil appear good, and dirty appear clean. Even as God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, Satan played mind games with the Israelites, tricking them into thinking that they could fashion an image of God.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” (Exodus 20:4-5).

While studying to teach the second commandment to children, I did an Internet search on “idol,” looking for a picture of Buddha and his buddies. Can you guess what I found? Hundreds of links to American Idol.

We Christians do not bow at the shrine of carved sculptures. After all, we are sophisticated, civilized, and educated. But so is Satan. His mission has been the same since the Garden of Eden, and he is smart enough to match his methods with the times.

Life Reflection:

How is Satan attempting today to distort the image of Christ? The image of Christians?

What images are sophisticated, civilized and educated Christians tempted to worship?

Name some methods Satan uses to seduce us into idolatry.

Generation Image

“I am Generation Image. The generation that speaks in images is making itself heard.” This advertising slogan by Nikon, a leader in the imaging product business, raises a red flag for Christians.

Do we hear the message Generation Image is screaming from the pages of social media sites? Do we get the picture? It’s all about self—self-image, self-promotion, self-deification. It is the so-called New Age doctrine that is as old as the Garden of Eden. Self-worship is the root of idolatry.

Like Israel in the time of the judges and kings, the idolatry is engraved into our culture. The only difference is the form of images. Instead of worshipping carved idols, we revere bulging portfolios, velvet voices, pigskin-carrying quarterbacks, and enhanced figures. We imagine making a million (or billion) like him. Starring on YouTube like her. Dictating to subordinates like that guy. Power. Pleasure. Possessions. Popularity.

What images do our children idolize? Whose pictures are posted on the walls of their rooms? Who are their heroes? Whom do they spend hours watching on YouTube? Whom do they dress like, walk like, and talk like? Our children will become like what they worship.

Do we envision our children becoming Hollywood stars, country-and-western artists, NFL champions, or American idols? Every day we read about the tragic end of the lifestyle of the rich and famous—perversion, addiction, and suicide. Stop. Reality check. Are we so enamored by the images flashed before us that we unconsciously glorify them by our conduct and conversation? Do our unrealistic expectations pressure our children to live up to a certain image?

One of the leading causes of death amongst teenagers is suicide. The Centers for Disease control report that it is the third leading cause of death, behind accidents and homicide, of people aged 15 to 24. Even more disturbing is the fact that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 14.

Taken from http://teensuicidestatistics.com/ Accessed 1/3/19

 

We stand in danger of being drawn into Israel’s cycle—prosperity, idolatry, immorality, bondage. As we glory in our prosperity, we teeter on the edge of a dangerous precipice, one step away from idolatry. Let us carefully consider our position lest we lead the next generation over the cliff into immorality and bondage.

“So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day” (II Kings 17:41).

Read that verse again. They feared God, yet served idols? Is this possible? Did they go through a form of worship? Showing up for the ceremonies, shouting “Hallelujah” at the right time, bowing their knees, but not their hearts? Yet bringing their sacrifices to the groves, indulging in the sexual perversion, rejoicing in their freedom from the law? Does this sound familiar?

Revival came to Israel only when they tore down their idols. So, it will come to our lives when we tear down the images that our culture has built upon every high place. The idols must go!

Jesus, the Master Teacher, often used images to teach eternal lessons. Satan, the great imitator, is not about to let the visual teaching tool gather dust in his tool box. Consider the effect of pornography on our culture and the recent rise in sexting among teens. The master of deceit is still flashing images before our eyes, attempting to infiltrate our minds with his message.

We would do well to adopt the psalmist David’s consecration: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me” (Psalm 101:3).

Life Reflection:

Is there a connection between preteens’ and teens’ perceived images of success and the suicide rate among them? What can we do to protect our children from the distorted images portrayed by our society?

It is possible to engage in a ritual of worship in church, while bowing to idols on our computers, iPads, smart phones, and cameras? Discuss.

Are there idols in your home or life that need to be torn down? When do you plan to do that?

The Image of God

For generations mankind struggled in vain to regain the image God created—to be perfect, to be godlike, to be super-heroes. But nothing man did was enough. The carnal man prevailed. Then Jesus came.

“In whom [Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God. . .” (Colossians 1:14-15).

“And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:10, New International Version).

Jesus, God revealed in flesh, the image of the invisible God showed us the way to put off the old man and be renewed into the image of our Creator—the image that Adam lost in the garden.

Let Me Lose Myself
(These words are as I remember them.)

Many years I longed for rest
Perfect peace within my breast,
And I often sought the Lord alone in tears.
But I could not pay the price,
Would not make the sacrifice;
So I wandered on and on for many years.

Then one day while knelt in prayer,
Jesus whispered to me there,
“Take up your cross and follow Me to Calvary.”
Oh, how hard it was to die, and all self to crucify,
Just to lose myself and find it, Lord, in Thee.

Let me lose myself and find it, Lord, in Thee.
May all self be slain, my friends, see only Thee.
Though it costs me grief and pain,
I will find my life again.
If I lose myself, I’ll find it, Lord, in Thee.

Life Reflection

Whose image do others see in me?

Life Response

Surely God is displeased with the distorted reflections displayed in Generation Image’s mirror. Let us tear down the idols in our lives and worship only at the feet of Jesus.

We belong to the one whose image we bear.

My Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me recognize the tactics of the enemy and resist his attempts to seduce me into worshiping at the altar of self. May Your image be reflected in my face, my attitude, and my action. Make me in Your image.  

More Life with God References

Romans 8:29
Hebrews 1:1-3

Written by Barbara Westberg
This Bible study is a revision of an article published in the Pentecostal Herald. It is reprinted here with permission.

Radiance

Focus Verses:

“And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:4)

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house,” (Matthew 5:14-15)

The Word of God says that we are the light in this world and that we are to be separated and divided from the darkness. Matthew 5:16 says, “let your light shine.” Even the world recognizes light and darkness as the universal battle between all things good and all things evil.

God is telling us to let our light shine, and not just any light, but a light that is so strong it can only be compared to that of a city. With the power of the Holy Spirit living inside us, we can not only be a light, but we can radiate.

When you look up synonyms for the word radiate you will find the following list; bright, shine, light, dazzle, and illuminate. These words challenge me in so many different areas of my life.

  • Don’t be the typical neighbor. Be different!
  • Don’t be the average co-worker. Be bold!
  • Don’t be the every day stay-at-home mom. Stand out!
  • Don’t be just another sister at church. Be radiant!

The exact opposite of radiant is: darkness, blackness, dim and dull.

Two ways to radiate His light:

1. Recognition. Recognize that Jesus is our source of light. In John 8:12 and I John 1:5, we read that Jesus in the light of the world and that in Him there in no darkness. Psalm 27:1 reminds me that God is my light and my salvation. We need to recognize that all goodness and mercy comes from him. When we’re doing good, flesh likes to take credit. A radiant woman will:

    • Give glory to God
    • Reflect Him
    • Radiate His goodness

2. Separation. In II Corinthians 6:14, the Bible asks a clear question, “What fellowship has light and dark?” Nature itself shows us that there is no fellowship between light and dark. A simple experiment can be done to prove that; go into a dark room and turn on the light. What happens to the dark? Like the light and dark, we are to live a life that is separated. Lines must be drawn that separate our conversations, our outings, meals, friends and choices of entertainment. “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy ” (Leviticus 19:2).

Life Reflection:

Ask yourself: Are the boundaries I put in place that separate me from darkness, evident to nonbelievers? 

 

Our goal as woman of radiance is to reflect Christ. Luke 11:33 makes a clear statement, “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, put it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.” The scripture is so clear, to do anything else would lack reason.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.” (I Peter 2:9)

Let your light shine. Be a woman of radiance!

Devotion

Let’s start with defining the word devotion: love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity or cause. Synonyms for the word devotion include: committed, loyal, practice, or an act of fidelity. The opposite of devotion is infidelity and unfaithfulness.

Nowhere in the definition of devotion do we see that it relates to religion. We do however see words within the definition of devotion that relate to relationship.

Devotion is not religion, it is relationship.

The greatest example we have in the natural realm of an act of devotion, is a wedding. More specifically, at the point when the marriage vows are made. We commit our lives to our spouse in front of family, friends, and God, promising to devote our lives to them. The greatest relationship you will ever have in your life is your relationship with your Savior, Jesus Christ.

There are benefits to committing your life and devoting your life to God. Proverbs 16:3 tells us, “commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” When we choose to commit our lives to God, the Bible says that He will establish our thoughts. Our spouse will offer us comfort and support; be someone to share our joy and victories with, but only God can establish our thoughts. Only He can bring stability and clarity to our mind and give us a firm foundation allowing us to grow in our walk with Him.

Two ways to build a life devoted to God:

1.  Recognition.  We must give God recognition in all areas of our life – career, education, family, finances, relationships, marriage, and ministry. In the Book of Acts, Paul was in Athens and he came upon a statue that the people had erected. “For as I passed by and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD…” (Acts 17:23). If we are going to live a life of devotion to God, we must first be sure that we know who God is.

Devotion to God will require a commitment of our time. Proverbs 31 is a powerful chapter that describes a virtuous woman. Proverbs 31:27 reads, “she looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”

You will know who you serve when you know where your time is spent.

Life Reflection:

Make a list of how and where you spend your time:

 

Matthew 6:19-21 tells us that where your treasure is, there is your heart also. We can also read it as a challenge to us saying, where your time is spent, there is your heart also. It is a reasonable argument that people spend time doing the things they love.

2. Separation.  When you become devoted and involved in a new relationship, there is a separation from previous commitments. Acquaintances, hobbies, friends, interests and plans that once controlled your time, now begin to revolve around your new relationship. Living a life devoted to God will bring a natural separation as you grow closer to Him. Matthew 6:24 confirms that we cannot serve two masters and in II Corinthians 6:14-15, the scripture asks the question, “What does a believer and an infidel have in common?”

We devote time and self to God in the following ways:

  • Prayer
  • Attending church activities
  • Fasting
  • Reading the Bible
  • Fellowship
  • Praise and worship
  • Ministry Development

Life Response:

Psalm 1:1-3 describes great blessing and favor when our life is devoted to God first. It describes not just a moment in time with our Savior, but a lifestyle of devotion. The greatest relationship you will ever have in your life is your relationship with your Savior, Jesus Christ!

Submitted by Kini Garcia

Download a .pdf version of this Bible study:

Life Reference: John 8:31-32, 43-45

Focus Verse:

“That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee” (Proverbs 22:21).

Before giving testimony in a legal proceeding, the witness is required to give an affirmation to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Some version of this wording can be found in the legal system of many countries. To tell less than the whole truth is perjury—lying.

Have you ever heard someone counter truth with a resolute “well, in my opinion . . .” or “I believe that . . .”? It’s as if they place their opinion above absolute truth. There is a danger in this, especially when we are speaking of the Word of God.

Life Reflection:

Why is “the whole truth” so important in our lives?

How does opinion compare to truth?

Satan Is the Father of Lies

From the very beginning Satan’s goal has been to twist and destroy truth. This is clear in his interaction with Eve in Genesis 3. By adding just one small word he changed truth into a lie. It was his nature to do this. John 8:44 says,

“Because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

We are constantly being warned of scams, which can sometimes dupe the intelligent as well as the gullible. A scam is a trick or swindle dressed up to sound like truth. It may be a legitimate-looking email, a phone call, or even a personal encounter, but the intent is to deceive and steal from us. It is important to learn how to distinguish between truth and a slick lie. An abundance of words stated with great passion does not necessarily mean something is true.

Life Reflection:

What are some of the current scams that are being used to deceive people?

Do you know someone who has fallen for one of these false schemes?

Why do you think they were deceived?

While we need to be careful with our personal business to make sure we are not taken in by some deceptive story, we must also be careful to recognize truth from falsehood in understanding God’s Word. We are warned of this in II Corinthians 11:13-15.

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

How to Determine Truth

How do we determine if something is certain truth, an opinion, or deliberate deceit? We must ask ourselves a few questions.

  • How reliable is the source?
  • Does this align perfectly with the Word of God?
  • Have I sought God for His direction and guidance on the matter?

A Look at Truth

John 17:17  – God’s Word is truth.
Psalm 117:2 – Truth is eternal.
John 8:32 – Truth sets us free.
Ephesians 6:14 – Truth is part of our armor.
John 4:24 – Worship and truth are joined together.

 

Life Reflection:

How do we distinguish between the truth and false doctrine?

Life Response

Truth is not negotiable or open to discussion. When we become careless with truth, supplanting it with personal views and opinions, we are in effect aligning ourselves with the father of all deceit. We cannot allow ourselves to compromise truth. This not only endangers our own souls, it also jeopardizes the souls of our children and future generations. Our mandate is clear—embrace unadulterated truth and pass it on to the next generation.

“We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done . . . that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children” (Psalm 78:4, 6).

Life Reflection:

What is our personal responsibility in imparting truth to the next generation?

Truth is unchanging and eternal. It is ours to cherish and pass on. Hold it tight.

My Prayer:

Lord, give me the discernment to recognize truth and not be deceived by any of Satan’s tactics. Help me to embrace Your truth wholeheartedly and to make it my personal mission to pass it on to the generation which follows.

More Life with God References:

Psalm 86:11
John 14:6
John 17:17
II Timothy 2:15
II Timothy 3:16-17

 

This Bible study was adapted from an article originally published in Reflections Magazine.