by Pastor Tim Burt
I was talking with a good acquaintance at church one weekend when he opened up and begin to pour out his heart to me. 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 knew 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 imagine myself accomplishing. 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 and behaviors, opening the door to God’s favor and 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! “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.” Luke 10:27 (NIV) Memorize these words and focus on them more than anything else.“
I continued, Begin by taking the first half of this verse. Focus on loving God with all your heart! From the second you get up in the morning, think about God and His goodness and love toward you. Read about His goodness. Learn to praise Him by just saying, praying, and singing what the Psalms say. Throughout your day tell the Lord you love Him. Spend time thinking about all the areas He has watched over you and blessed your life. Think about all He promises to you through His Word. Meditate on it, say it, and pray it all day long. Do this for a few weeks and it will begin to produce something powerful in you. You will experience new life in you. And that will be better than you trying to work on eliminating bad habits. If instead so this with all your heart, I assure you, you will begin to see a powerful change at work in your life. The fact is, if you focus on loving God this way, a number of bad things are simply going to drop off.
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 from God toward you, 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 make 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!
John 13:34-35 (NLT2) “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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