Special Note from Pastor Tim: Hi Readers. I just wanted you to know that this will be my last Fresh Manna for a couple of weeks. I have not taken a break from writing for over three years – even on my vacations. I am going to this time! Renee and I have been working furiously hard the past six months and we are going to take two weeks off together just for ourselves. No writing, no work, no phone calls or emails – nothing – just each other. I’ll be back to writing on Tuesday, March 31st. In the meantime, you can go to my web site: http://readfreshmanna.blogspot.com/ and click on the archives button and you’ll find hundreds of past devotions I have written you can read. We’ll be praying for God’s best for each of you every day! Thanks for your understanding for the break!
Your servant Pastor Tim
Hosea 12:6 (NLT) “…come back to your God! Act on the principles of love and justice, and always live in confident dependence on your God.”
Many years ago, when all four of our children were very small, it was quite a feat on Sunday mornings to get them up early, get them fed, dressed, and in the car for church. For a season it was stressful most every Sunday. It was the only day of the week that demanded that particular routine. I just kind of had this expectation that because we were going to church, things should be peaceful and go smoothly. It seldom was! Anyone who has small children knows exactly what I’m talking about.
During those years as a younger Christian, I was working hard at learning patience. I was trying to keep cool in those stressful moments. I was trying to love each of my children and give them the godly help and nurture they needed. It seemed like there were too many Sundays where if I was grading myself, I would have given myself a low grade. It made me feel bad. I had a tendency to beat myself. I’d talk to the Lord about not wanting to be some plastic hypocritical Christian who didn’t love his family the way he was supposed to. At times like that the Lord would forgive me and encourage me to remember that I was a work in progress and that I’d get it over time if I just kept seeking Him for help.
Over the years, I’ve changed a lot. The Holy Spirit is a wonderful helper. It’s important to lean on the Lord in prayer and let His Word be the mirror of what you purpose to become instead of looking into your own mirror. When I looked into my own mirror I saw a guy that couldn’t measure up and that fell short in his efforts way too often. If I’d have kept looking in my own mirror – examining too closely my failures vs. successes, I’d have quit trying. Instead I looked at who and what God said I was “in Christ.” 2 Cor 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” God said He made me a “new creation” and I believed what He said. I was new “in Christ” and that God was doing a new work in me. I had to be patient for transformation to happen. I kept focusing on what God said I was and worked to match that. For example, 1 Cor 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Instead of meditating on how often in failed at these I instead made them the continuing prayerful confession of the work God was doing in my by His Holy Spirit. I’d say, “Jesus, though I missed it again today, I thank you that I have a beautiful wife who loves me and is patient as I become a godly man. I thank you that your Word says I have “your love shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 5:5) Because I do, I thank you that I am patient and kind. I do not envy. I rejoice in others blessings. I do not boast. I know every good thing in my life is because of Jesus. I am not proud because I don’t want the glory for what Jesus has done in me. I am not rude because I love people and want to represent you. I am not self-seeking because you’ve directed my life to be about helping others. I am not easily angered because I am patient to know others perspectives and they usually shed light on a situation. I keep no record of wrongs because you have forgiven me every time I ask. I Praise You! I hate evil because you do and will work to expose it, not secretly live in it. I will work to protect, trust, hope in, and persevere in my love toward people because that is the purpose of the life you have given me in Christ.”
I’ve made way too many faults and made way too many mistakes and sins along the path of life. If I focused on those, I’d never change, only become discouraged. Instead I let God’s Word be the letter and mirror of my heart and who He has created me to be. I would pray and say what God said about me often, daily, and sometimes even more often.
Over the years God did do a work in my. I leaned on this promise – Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” It made me thankful because if God was confident of performing a good work in me, then I could be confident of it too.
On my way to church this Sunday morning all these years later, there were a few stressful things going on. I responded to them with great patience and calm. Suddenly the Lord spoke to me about how I had actually changed over they years. He was encouraging me that He had done a great work in me (and still is!) I was so thankful for His encouragement. It reminded me of how today’s Fresh Manna verse: “Act on the principles of love and justice, and always live in confident dependence on your God.”
I was so thankful for His grace in helping me change and grow. I’m just as dependent on Him today as I was those many years ago. It’s just that I have a confident dependence. Praise His name!
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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