What if, for one day, Jesus were to become you? What if, for twenty-four hours, Jesus wakes up in your bed, walks in your shoes, lives in your house, assumes your schedule? Your boss becomes His boss, your mother becomes His mother, your pains become His pains? With one exception, nothing about your life changes. Your health doesn’t change. Your circumstances don’t change. Your schedule isn’t altered. Your problems aren’t solved. Only one change occurs.
What if, for one day and one night, Jesus lives your life with His heart?
Your heart gets the day off, and your life is led by the heart of Christ. His priorities govern your actions. His passions drive your decisions. His love directs your behavior.
What would you be like? Would people notice a change? Your family – would they see something new? Your coworkers – would they sense a difference? What about the less fortunate? Would you treat them the same? And your friends? Would they detect more joy? How about your enemies? Would they receive more mercy from Christ’s heart than from yours?
And you? How would you feel? What alterations would this transplant have on your stress level? Your mood swings? Your temper? Would you sleep better? Would you see sunsets differently? Death differently? Taxes differently? Any chance you’d need fewer aspirin or sedatives? How about your reaction to traffic delays? (Ouch, that touched a nerve.) Would you still dread what you are dreading? Better yet, would you still do what you are doing?
Would you still do what you had planned to do for the next twenty-four hours?
Pause and think about your schedule. Obligations. Engagements. Outings. Appointments. With Jesus taking over your heart, would anything change?
Keep working on this for a moment. Adjust the lens of your imagination until you have a clear picture of Jesus leading your life, then snap the shutter and frame the image. What you see is what God wants. He wants you to “think and act like Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
God’s plan for you is nothing short of a new heart.
“You were taught to be made new in your hearts, to become a new person. That new person is made to be like God – made to be truly good and holy” (Ephesians 4:23-24).
God wants you to be just like Jesus. He wants you to have a heart like His.
I’m going to risk something here. It’s dangerous to sum up grand truths in one statement, but I’m going to try. If a sentence or two could capture God’s desire for each of us, it might read like this:
God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.
If you think His love for you would be stronger if your faith were, you are wrong. If you think His love would be deeper if your thoughts were, wrong again. Don’t confuse God’s love with the love of people. The love of people often increases with performance and decreases with mistakes. Not so with God’s love. He loves you right where you are. To quote my wife’s favorite author:
God’s love never ceases. Never. Though we spurn Him. Ignore Him. Reject Him. Despise Him. Disobey Him. He will not change.
Our evil cannot diminish His love. Our goodness cannot increase it. Our faith does not earn it any more than our stupidity jeopardizes it. God doesn’t love us less if we fail or more if we succeed.
When my daughter Parris was a toddler, I used to take her to a park not far from our home. One day as she was playing in a sandbox, an ice-cream salesman approached us. I purchased her a treat, and when I turned to give it to her, I saw her mouth was full of sand. Where I intended to put a delicacy, she had put dirt.
Did I love her with dirt in her mouth? Absolutely. Was she any less my daughter with dirt in her mouth? Of course not. Was I going to allow her to keep the dirt in her mouth? No way. I loved her right where she was, but I refused to leave her there. I carried her over to the water fountain and washed out her mouth. Why? Because I love her.
God does the same for us. He holds us over the fountain. “Spit out the dirt, honey,” our Father urges. “I’ve got something better for you.” And so He cleanses us of filth: immorality, dishonesty, prejudice, bitterness, greed. We don’t enjoy the cleansing; sometimes we even opt for the dirt over the ice cream. “I can eat dirt if I want to!” we pout and proclaim. Which is true – we can. But if we do, the loss is ours. God has a better offer. He wants us to be just like Jesus.
Isn’t that good news? You aren’t stuck with today’s personality. You aren’t condemned to “grumpydom.” You are tweakable. Even if you’ve worried each day of your life, you needn’t worry the rest of your life. So what if you were born a bigot? You don’t have to die one.
Where did we get the idea we can’t change? Jesus can change our hearts. He wants us to have a heart like his. Can you imagine a better offer?
The Heart of Christ
The heart of Jesus was pure. The Savior was adored by thousands, yet content to live a simple life. He was cared for by women (Luke 8:1-3) yet never accused of lustful thoughts, scorned by His own creation but willing to forgive them before they even requested His mercy. Peter, who traveled with Jesus for three and a half years, described Him as a “lamb unblemished and spotless” (1 Peter 1:19). After spending the same amount of time with Jesus, John concluded, “And in Him is no sin” (1 John 3:5).
Jesus’ heart was peaceful. The disciples fretted over the need to feed the thousands, but not Jesus. He thanked God for the problem. The disciples shouted for fear in the storm, but not Jesus. He slept through it. Peter drew his sword to fight the soldiers, but not Jesus. He lifted His hand to heal. His heart was at peace. When His disciples abandoned Him, did He pout and go home? When Peter denied Him, did Jesus lose His temper? When the soldiers spit in His face, did He breathe fire in theirs? Far from it. He was at peace. He forgave them. He refused to be guided by vengeance.
He also refused to be guided by anything other than His high call. His heart was purposeful. Most lives aim at nothing in particular and achieve it. Jesus aimed at one goal – to save humanity from its sin. He could summarize His life with one sentence: “The Son of man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
Jesus was so focused on His task that he knew when to say, “My time has not yet come” (John 2:4) and when to say, “It is finished” (John 19:30). But he was not so focused on his goal that he was unpleasant.
Quite the contrary. How pleasant were His thoughts! Children couldn’t resist Jesus. He could find beauty in lilies, joy in worship, and possibilities in problems. He would spend days with multitudes of sick people and still feel sorry for them. He spent more than three decades wading through the muck and mire of our sin yet still saw enough beauty in us to die for our mistakes.
But the crowning attribute of Christ was this: His heart was spiritual. His thoughts reflected His intimate relationship with the Father. “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me,” he stated (John 14:11). His first recorded sermon begins with the words, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me” (Luke 4:18). He was “led by the Spirit” (Matthew 4:1) and “full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1). He returned from the desert “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14).
Jesus took his instructions from God. It was His habit to go to worship (Luke 4:16). It was His practice to memorize scripture (Luke 4:4). Luke says Jesus “often slipped away to be alone so He could pray” (Luke 5:16). His times of prayer guided Him. He once returned from prayer and announced it was time to move to another city (Mark 1:38). Another time of prayer resulted in the selection of the disciples (Luke 6:12-13). Jesus was led by an unseen hand: “The Son does whatever the Father does” (John 5:19). In the same chapter He stated, “I can do nothing alone. I judge only the way I am told” (John 5:30).
The Heart of Humanity
Our hearts seem so far from His. He is pure; we are greedy. He is peaceful; we are hassled. He is purposeful; we are distracted. He is pleasant; we are cranky. He is spiritual; we are earthbound. The distance between our hearts and His seems so immense. How could we ever hope to have the heart of Jesus?
Ready for a surprise? You already do. You already have the heart of Christ. Why are you looking at me that way? Would I kid you? If you are in Christ, you already have the heart of Christ.
One of the supreme yet unrealized promises of God is simply this: if you have given your life to Jesus, Jesus has given Himself to you. He has made your heart His home. It would be hard to say it more succinctly than Paul did: “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
He has moved in and unpacked His bags and is ready to change you “into his likeness from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Paul explained it with these words: “Strange as it seems, we Christians actually do have within us a portion of the very thoughts and mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).
If I have the mind of Jesus, why do I still think so much like me?
Part of the answer is illustrated in a story about a lady who had a small house on the seashore of Ireland at the turn of the twentieth century. She was quite wealthy but also quite frugal.
The people were surprised, then, when she decided to be among the first to have electricity in her home.
Several weeks after the installation, a meter reader appeared at her door. He asked if her electricity was working well, and she assured him it was. “I’m wondering if you can explain something to me,” he said. “Your meter shows scarcely any usage. Are you using your power?”
“Certainly,” she answered. “Each evening when the sun sets, I turn on my lights just long enough to light my candles; then I turn them off.”
She’s tapped in to the power but doesn’t use it. Her house is connected but not altered. Don’t we make the same mistake? We, too – with our souls saved but our hearts unchanged – are connected but not altered. Trusting Christ for salvation but resisting transformation. We occasionally flip the switch, but most of the time we settle for shadows.
What would happen if we left the light on? What would happen if we not only flipped the switch but lived in the light? What changes would occur if we set about the task of dwelling in the radiance of Christ?
No doubt about it: God has ambitious plans for us. The same one who saved your soul longs to remake your heart. His plan is nothing short of a total transformation:
He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son. – Romans 8:29
You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you. This new life brings you the true knowledge of God. –Colossians 3:10
God is willing to change us into the likeness of the Savior.
Shall we accept His offer?
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What about you? Are you willing to let God have His way in changing you from the inside out into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ? Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about gaining a heart like Jesus’! ~ Devotionals Daily-Are you a tabernacle?-click to view…
The cycle continues for God’s chosen nation. It’s the same old story.
Rebellion – Retribution – Repentance – Restoration
Rebellion led to retribution, repentance would lead to restoration.
God used the wicked Midianites to judge His people. V. 5 says they were like grasshoppers in number.
Imagine a field full of grasshoppers jumping around. What if you were told to count them. There would be no way.
We should shake in our boots when we see the parallels w/ global terrorism. They are innumerable and jumping around and impossible to defeat.
Terrorism isn’t our greatest threat, as great as it is. And it’s not N. Korea, Iran, or China. V. 1 says that “The Lord delivered them into their hands…”
In the Bible God often uses one wicked nation to judge another.
Our Christian founded nation has come a long way. We have freedom of religion but many are trying to twist that into freedom FROM religion. And we need to remember which religion we were founded upon.
George Washington: While just government protects all in their religious rights, true religion affords to government its surest support.
Thomas Jefferson: “The reason that Christianity is the best friend of Government is because Christianity is the only religion that changes the heart.”
Jefferson: “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus.”
Can you imagine seeing such quotes in a public school textbook?
John Adams: “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”
John Quincy Adams: “It is no slight testimonial, both to the merit and worth of Christianity, that in all ages since its promulgation the great mass of those who have risen to eminence by their profound wisdom and integrity have recognized and reverenced Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of the living God.”
Benjamin Franklin: God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?”
There are many more quotes, but suffice it to say that when Americans turn their backs on Christianity they turn their backs on America! This doesn’t mean they have to be Christians, but they should at least tolerate us and appreciate us, for Christianity and its principles are what have made America great.
In Judges 6 God’s people are so ravaged by the Midianites that they are hiding in dens and caves. In v. 7 they cry out to God to for mercy and God gives them…
Here’s 4 principles from the life of Gideon that can help us all:
You and I are in a battle spiritually, it’s a fight, not a frolic; a war, not a waltz; it’s a warzone, not some tiptoe thru the tulips.
God just needs a few good men.
1. The Principle of Encounter.
v. 11, 14 Gideon has a word from the Lord.
v. 22-24a He was an ordinary man, not a prophet, preacher, priest, or a king. He was radically changed by this encounter. He used to be afraid. How do we know? Because he threshed wheat at the winepress.
The winepress was at the bottom of the hill so you could carry the grapes downhill. The wheat threshing took place at the top of the hill so the wind would drive away the chaff. Gideon is hiding at the bottom doing the work of the top. He’s hunkered in the bunker! The end of v. 11 says he’s hiding from the Midianites.
But fear turned to faith after his encounter with the Lord. His eyes turned from his enemies to the Lord.
We all must turn our eyes from our foes to our Father! We can live our lives looking at the terrorists or the political imbeciles in Washington or we can turn our eyes to the hills from whence cometh our help! “Looking unto Jesus!”
“The man that fears God can face any foe.”
ill.–the 12 spies of Canaan: 10 saw giants, 2 saw God.
ill.–when most looked at Goliath and said “He’s too big to hit” David said, “He’s too big to miss!”
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus…”
America is truly in a fight for survival, so it’s time we turn to God!
2. The Principle of Courage.
v. 12 “valor”
7:1-3 Gideon raised up an army of 32,000. And God says, it’s too many! The Midianites were innumberable! But God says no, I just need a few good men. I’ll get the glory when I do more with less! God will share anything with us except His glory.
22,000 were afraid and left. Now there’s 10,000 remaining. God doesn’t use the fearful. He hasn’t given us the spirit of fear.
25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.
1 John 4:18
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
Soldiers of the cross have courage and aren’t afraid to take a stand.
366 times the Bible says be not afraid, one for every day, even in leap year!
Some should be serving but are afraid…
[teaching / witnessing / driving a bus / tithing]
Some are afraid to trust God.
In the parable of the talents the bad servant said he didn’t invest his talent because “I was afraid.”
Fear and sin are linked. In Eden Adam said he hid himself from God because he was afraid.
But if God be for us, who can be against us?!
3. The Principle of Wisdom.
Courage needs to be balanced with wisdom.
7:4-7 Still too many? Gideon has got to sweating it now!
The first purging was of the fearful…this one is of the foolish. There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity.
ill.–should we not lock our doors because we trust the Lord?
God told the cowards to go home, and now He tells the careless to leave as well. It was just a little test, and they failed it.
4. The Principle of Strength. 7:9-14 God told Gideon to lurk in the shadows of the enemy camp and see what he can learn.
In this dream we see God doing something extraordinary thru someone who is very ordinary. It was not Gideon’s strength, but God’s thru him.
v. 15-21 What a powerful victory story! 300 vs. a multitude with no weapons. A trumpet in one hand, a torch covered w/ a pitcher in the other hand.
• The trumpet stands for boldness – its sound announced that we’re here and not backing down. It’s time for Christians in America to stop rolling over and playing dead…let your voice be heard. Say to Washington, if you vote against morality and common sense, we vote you out!
• The clay pitcher stands for brokenness – God has placed His treasure in earthen vessels but we must be broken before Him.
• The torch stands for brightness – “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works…”
Now is the time for Christians to get bold, broken, and bright…and we could take America back for God!
It only takes a few good people to do this and with God’s help we can have victory as we hold high the sword of the Lord!