by Pastor Tim Burt
I was ministering at my monthly Men's Breakfast of 250 plus men one weekend. After the breakfast, a gentleman walked up to me and said, Pastor Tim, when I read the Bible, I see so many things that need changing in me. God's ways are so much higher than I could ever live. I feel that I am failing in so many areas. How can I ever be like Jesus and live Christ-like?
I know that feeling. That was how I felt in my first ten plus years of my Christian walk. It seemed like there were so many areas I needed to make changes in—more than I could ever possibly accomplish. I told this man what God tells us. I said, God loved us as sinners enough to save us. How much more does He love us now? Yes, He wants us to make changes because they will produce two very powerful and gratifying results over time. First, the changes we make will allow us to have greater influence for Jesus—helping bring others into the knowledge of His love. Secondly they will help eliminate our destructive thinking & behaviors, opening the door to God's blessing in every area of our life.
This man was still struggling with how to begin to make the changes and what changes to start with. I encouraged him in this way. I want you to focus on Jesus' Words instead of the laundry list of things you see in yourself that need changing. Start with these words first! Luke 10:27 (NIV.) “Jesus answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself." Memorize these words and focus on them more than anything else.“
I then told him, After a month of you being faithful to do this, you'll realize that a change in you has already begun. Then take on the second part of the verse, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Your neighbors are those around you day in and day out. Think about God's mercy and love reaching out to you. Now turn that love—that mercy, that forgiveness, that help that comes by His grace, and turn that out to others. Make that your second infusion of new life into your life. If you just work on those two things, it won't be long before you begin to look like the new person mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:17. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new."
Today's Fresh Manna verse "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind," and, "Love your neighbor as yourself" is followed by these words of Jesus in Luke 10:28 (NIV.) “...Do this and you will live." That last word live comes from a Greek word that means to live quickly or you could say, experience a rapid infusion of new life. That is what loving God and loving others with great purpose and a whole-hearted effort will do for you or for anyone. It will give us a quick and new infusion of God’s love and makes our life feel alive and new again. Our laundry list of changes is good to pursue, but nothing will have more of a lasting and positive change on the development of our Christ-like walk than Jesus' exhortation to love Him and our neighbor whole-heartedly!
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt