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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Do You Ever Change Your Stripes?

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

Have you ever heard the old saying, A tiger doesn't change his stripes? That is usually a reference to the fact that a person rarely changes his nature. He is what he is and there is little change that happens. As Christians, that should not be true. God calls for us to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind” (Rom 12:2) and “transformed into ministers of Christ.” (2 Cor 11:15) Romans 12:2 says we aren't “to be conformed to this world” but Romans 8:29 says we are to “be conformed to the image of Christ.” So, although the stripes of a tiger and worldly people don’t change, Christians should be in a life-long process of becoming more Christ-like. Our stripes are to change.

Recently in a private time of praying and worshiping God, I heard the Lord speak to me. He said, People that do not worship Me will also often fail to see the good in others or edify a person with words of encouragement. The Lord was teaching me something so I waited on Him and listened. When you sincerely praise and worship me, you take the time to think about who I am and what I mean to your life. You reverence Me and you love Me. You express that. That is why you are worshiping Me. Because you've learned to “see” Me in your heart for who and what I really am, and express it back to me in praise and worship, you've opened yourself up to something more. You've also trained yourself to look beyond the surface of and see and express the good you see in others edifying and exhorting them. Someone who never takes the time to truly reflect and mediated on who I am and what I am to them in their life, rarely praises or worships Me and consequently struggles to see the good in others and share it with them. The Lord continued to speak. People that praise Me as a form of religious duty or obligation simply mouth words they have learned to speak before others. But, it’s not in their heart. They don’t edify others because they don’t truly worship Me. They have not changed their stripes. They are not a true worshiper. But, as I have taught you from my word, “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. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:23-24

These words exploded in me and really gave me insight. There are always a few people in life that take the time to see the good in others and find ways to express it. They aren't complimenters or people that just say something nice, but they are true edifiers. They look for and notice the good in others and tell them. This is their stripe! These kinds of people help make life so much sweeter! They are probably worshipers of God also. Because they see God for who He is and worship and thank Him, they can see the good in others and edify them.

And then there are those that struggle to even say thank you for something someone has done for them much less edify someone for anything good they see. That is their stripe and they don’t change. And probably won’t because they don’t do the one thing that could change their stripes—they don’t become a true worshiper of God.

When I read in Rev. 5:13-14 of those worshiping the Lord, I see that this is not lip service or obligation going. Their worship is heartfelt and coming from the core of their being, like it should from us. “And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They also sang: "Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever." And the four living beings said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped God and the Lamb.”

Spend time thinking about God's love toward you and all He had Jesus do for you out of that love! Think about His magnificence and the glory of everything He has created. There is no shortage of things to praise Him over. And this will most always help you see some good in others to encourage them with. Worship is a sincere expression and reaction from a heart of love to Almighty God. It changes you! It opens the eyes of your heart and changes your stripes as a person. Worship of God and edification of others are the stripes we are and want to to wear!

Psalm 95:6-7 Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for He is our God. We are the people he watches over, the sheep under His care. Oh, that you would listen to His voice today!

1 Thess. 5:11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt 

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