by Pastor Tim Burt
I was recently talking with someone who was honest and transparent about how he’s slowly slipped backwards in how he walks out his faith and feels like a lukewarm Christian at best. He was missing being passionate about the Lord and being a godly influence on others. He didn’t know how to get refreshed and back to that place of intimacy!
In Matthew 3:1-3 (NLT), we read about John the Baptist’s work and what Isaiah said about Him: “In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him!’”
The religious leaders of the day were having a fit about it. They were all about humiliating sinners and elevating themselves. John was all about exalting Jesus! John knew all men were sinners. He was baptizing people in the river Jordan pointing them to repent and receive the Messiah who would shortly come. He knew the worthy one would soon reveal Himself and he was preparing their hearts for that moment!
At the time that John was proclaiming the soon-coming Messiah, the jealous religious leaders were vehemently plotting against him. It was really the devil working through men—coming at him on every side.
The followers of John the Baptist had been instructed by him to no longer follow him, but instead follow Jesus! They were sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His teachings when He began to reveal something unexpected. Jesus revealed that up to that point and time, John was the greatest man ever born of a woman in the earth. Why did Jesus say that? Because John pointed people to the one who would shortly reveal Himself to the world—Jesus!
Nothing’s changed since then. Satan still works in and through mean-spirited opposers of the gospel to create this hatred and persecution of believers until Jesus’ return. They attacked John and anyone who was tempted to believe or share this wonderful truth.
Becoming an outcast simply because you live your life for Jesus can hurt. People can be mean and shun you. It can lead you to compromise your life to look more like the world. If that happens, you’ll lose your love and fire and back away from your Christianity. And then you’ll eventually lose those feelings of love and intimacy for Jesus. You’ll feel parched and in great need of being refreshed in your relationship with the Lord.
Jesus saw it happening and the people being shaken by it. He gave these words revealing the simple answer to those who had become affected and who could or would lose their joy of Him. It was an eternal word crying out into our lives today that we read in Matthew 11:28. The Message Bible speaks it beautifully saying, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
Maybe you don’t understand grace! It’s God’s willingness and desire to be involved in every aspect of your life and help you. Not like a genie. Like a loving God. When you pray and lean on Him from a thankful heart of faith, then you’ll notice and remember what He did and does for you! You’ll remember all that He declares that He wants to do within you and for you! The goodness He wants to work in your life is the gift of His grace–His undeserved and supernatural help and goodness! And because of His intense love for you, He’s always reaching out to you to give more of it.
Refreshing comes when you take notice of it. It comes when you worship Him for it! It grows stronger when you share it with others. It becomes ever more real when you come boldly to His throne room of grace and ask Him to help you again and again. He does not get weary. He will help you in a personal and intimate way. And when He does, thank Him for it, tell others about it, and thank Him again. And then let yourself spill with that thanks and appreciation to others who are weary. Tell them what God has done for you. Share His gospel and love with those that don’t know Him. Not as duty, but with excitement of how real God is in your life. Do you know what will happen when you do? Praising and worshipping, thanking, and sharing His goodness with others is what heightens your emotions, kindles your love, and refreshes you and impacts those around you! Jesus told us in John 12:32, “And when I am lifted up on the cross, I will draw everyone to Myself.”
Do this and the insignificant elements of your life, and the devil’s attempts to discourage you and rob your joy will fade away. The joy of Jesus will fill your heart! This is the life of joy in Jesus we long for. Not a relationship of obligation, but out a pure love for the one who saved you. It’s not something to be forced. Exalting Jesus in your heart produces this rhythm of His grace. It is the refreshing you need. It’s the leaning on Him, appreciating every good thing He has and does in your life, and letting that joy spill out in testimony of His goodness to others in your life. That is the rhythm of His grace abounding in your life. It will bring you back to intimacy with Him! Glory!
2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV) “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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