Upgrading Your Image of God

by Graham Cooke
Apr/May/Jun 2012

Be Thou My Vision

What is your image of God? How you see Him is how you see yourself. It determines how you view your life, your church, even the events that are going on in the Body of Christ. If you fail to see Jesus as your Prince of Peace, that may be why you cannot find any rest. Seeing Him as your personal Prince of Peace means you’re not allowed to worry anymore; peace and worry simply cannot co-exist. The way we live is profoundly shaped by our image of God.

Are you a sinner who struggles in the love of God, or are you a lover of God who occasionally struggles with sin? How do you see yourself? The more you have the wrong picture of God, the more religious and legalistic you may become. Modern Pharisees are people who do not know who God is for them. They don’t understand the nature of God. They don’t live in His compassion or mercy. They live by a rulebook, and lose sight of what He is really like, much like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. They couldn’t recognize who Jesus was or His revelation of the Father. “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father,” Jesus tried to explain. “The Father and I are one and the same.” Even when He performed signs and wonders, a historic way of recognizing God, they couldn’t figure it out.

We must see God as our provider, or we will always be anxious about our needs being met. Every time we are in need, it should be an adventure because we are not intimidated; instead, we should be fascinated about what God might do. We must believe He is our provider and become intrigued by how He might meet our needs.

An Active God

God is not passive in our circumstances, but active on our behalf. We cannot be resigned to our situations – we must be constantly looking for the power of God to break through. Many of us have just learned to put up with things; the western world is completely passive to the things of God. We put up with all kinds of nonsense in our culture, our society, our communities, and our families. When our backs are against the wall, we should fight with everything in us. Instead, when our backs are against the wall, we wither. We must not become resigned to the situations around us; we must constantly look for the power of God to break through for us.

What is your perception of God when you pray? Is He inclining His ear toward you, or do you feel as though you have to persuade Him, or trick Him, into listening? If your image of God is that He is interested and delighted in you, your whole prayer life and approach to Him will be changed. You’ll love prayer! For many Christians, prayer is a chore, something we have to do in order to get our weekly allowance from God. Our view of Him is so skewed that we cannot come to Him properly. When distortions creep into our picture of God, the negative effects are felt in every part of our life. Those issues ripple through our relationships, values, ethics, integrity, love, joy, and peace. It affects our righteousness and purity.

We need to reflect wisely upon our image of the Lord’s nature. What is it that God wants to be to you in this current season of your life? That is the question we must have the answer to. We must know what it is the Holy Spirit wants to upgrade in our life. Every test, every conflict we face in the months following the upgrade will test us on those breakthroughs. God is not punishing us when things go wrong; troubles don’t arise because He can’t protect us. God will not reject us, even if we’re not perfect. When we do well, God approves of us. When we do poorly, God accepts us. He is compassionate either way. The love of God is never less than 100 percent; He just doesn’t know how to be otherwise. He is unchanging and consistent. He takes joy in the fact that He is the Lord and that He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever; we can be confident of who He is for us.

Intimacy and Favor

When God is cemented at the fore of our hearts, we see our relationship with Him deepen in ways we never thought possible. There is a place in the Holy Spirit set aside for every one of us where we can make the enemy tired, depressed, weary, confused, and exasperated. It’s a place where our relationship with God has a profound effect on the enemy and the people we live amongst. What we think about God can shatter the hold of darkness on our friends and family. Our intimacy with God should be our most intimidating weapon against the enemy. We have all seen people trying to operate in authority when they just don’t have it – it’s painful to see. As well-trained charismatic Christians, we think getting louder is how we should try to take authority. But our authority comes out of who we are in Christ, and our capacity to intimidate the enemy comes out of our intimacy with God.

The Lord’s favor is available to every single one of us. It’s favor to understand God, to go to a deeper level in Him, and to upgrade our vision and image of who God is for us. It’s part of coming into the next phase of accomplishing the impossible. It’s a necessary revelation of who God is. It’s amazing how God works. When you move into a deeper place with God, the stress that flows out of your life and ministry actually cements and establishes your upgraded relationship with Him.

The antidote to stress and crisis is upgrading our fellowship with God. I know there are different things on my agenda this year related to my call, and I know that makes me vulnerable. I’m going to have to wade through some stuff about myself, fight my feelings of inadequacy, and battle insecurity. I’m confident where I am right now, but when God increases the call in my life, I know I have to go back to working through all of those issues again. I have to translate my weaknesses into joyful vulnerability. I must upgrade my relationship with Him, becoming more intimate than ever before.

What distinguishes a true believer, someone who is walking in the spirit as opposed to their soul – mind, will and emotions – is the favor that ties into our intimacy with God. In Exodus 33:15-16, Moses made it clear what he needed from the Lord during the next season of his life:

“If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”

Favor comes from having the presence of God traveling with us. We know we carry that favor when He lives among us. We are people of His presence; we must learn how to abide in it. We must learn how to rest, dwell, and remain in God’s arms.

Article taken as an excerpt from his book The Nature of God: Upgrading Your Image of God and Who He Wants to Be for You.

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Graham Cooke Graham Cooke is author of several books, as well as founder of Brilliant Book House and My Emerging Light. Magazine Issue

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