Read an Excerpt
JUST LIKE JESUS DEVOTIONALA Thirty-Day Walk with the Savior
By Max Lucado
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2002 Max Lucado
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDAY 1
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:5 NKJV
Just Like Jesus
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.
God loves you just the way you are. 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. God's love never ceases.
God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. When my daughter Jenna was a toddler, I used to take her to a park not far from our apartment. 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 have 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 truewe can. But if we do, the loss is ours. God has a better offer. He wants us to be just like Jesus.
When are you tempted to have "dirt" in place of "delicacy"?
What delicacy does God want to give you?
Why does God make such an amazing offer?
Philippians 2:513 NIV:
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to deatheven death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyednot only in my presence, but now much more in my absencecontinue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
According to this passage, what does being like Jesus mean?
What did Jesus do for you?
How does that make you feel?
Thank the Father for all he has done for you ... be specific. Talk to him about the "dirt" and the "delicacy."
Give God permission to do whatever he decides to do in your life to make you more like Jesus.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:29 NIV
The Heart of Jesus
Jesus' heart was pure. The Savior was adored by thousands yet content to live a simple life. He was cared for by women (Luke 8:13) 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 NASB). After spending the same amount of time with Jesus, John concluded, "And in him is no sin" (1 John 3:5 NIV).
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.
Jesus' heart was purposeful. Most lives aim at nothing in particular and achieve it. Jesus aimed at one goalto 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 RSV). 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 sins 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 NASB). He was "led by the Spirit" (Matt. 4:1 NIV) and "full of the Holy Spirit" (Luke 4:1 NIV). He returned from the desert "in the power of the Spirit" (Luke 4:14 NIV).
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 6:1213). 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).
Jesus' heart was spiritual.
What examples of Jesus' being "pure" can you remember?
What example of Jesus' being "peaceful" is most meaningful to you?
What aspect of Jesus' heart do you most desire? Why?
Colossians 3:910 NKJV:
Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.
What are some evidences of the "old man"?
What evidence do you see in your life of the "new man"?
How do you know that God is transforming your heart to be like Jesus' heart?
Thank your heavenly Father for giving you the heart of Jesus.
Ask God to show you specific areas in your life that require his special "renewing" attention.
The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV
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" (Gal. 2:20 MSG).
At the risk of repeating myself, let me repeat myself. If you have given your life to Jesus, Jesus has given himself to you. 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 Cor. 3:18 RSV). 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 Cor. 2:16 TLB).
Strange is the word! If I have the mind of Jesus, why do I still think so much like me? If I have the heart of Christ, why do I still have the hang-ups of Max? If Jesus dwells within me, why do I still hate traffic jams?
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 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 into the power but doesn't use it. Her house is connected but not altered. Don't we make the same mistake? We, toowith our souls saved but our hearts unchangedare 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" (Rom. 8:29 MSG).
When do you seem to "live in the shadows"?
What would it mean for you to "live in the light"?
How does having the "mind of Christ" affect how you think and act?
2 Corinthians 3:1618 NLT:
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, then the veil is taken away. Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom. And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.
Think back to when you came to faith in Christ. How did you know that the "veil" had been removed?
When do you most enjoy your freedom in Christ?
How do you know that Christ is living in you?
Thank God for giving you a new mind, new sight, and true freedom.
Talk with God about those times when you've chosen to live in the shadows instead of the light.
Praise God for his transforming work in your heart.
Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
John 13:1 NKJV
The Constant Heart
Chances are you know the claustrophobia that comes with commitment. Pets are only the beginning. Instead of being reminded, "She is your dog," you're eventually told, "He is your husband." Or "She is your wife." Or "He is your child, parent, employee, boss, or roommate," or any other relationship that requires loyalty for survival.
Such permanence can lead to panicat least it did in me. I had to answer some tough questions. Can I tolerate the same flat-nosed, hairy, hungry face every morning? (You wives know the feeling?) Am I going to be barked at until the day I die? (Any kids connecting here?) Will she ever learn to clean up her own mess? (Did I hear an "amen" from some parents?) Such are the questions we ask when we feel stuck with someone.
There is a word for this condition. Upon consulting the one-word medical dictionary (which I wrote the day before I crafted these thoughts), I discovered that this condition is a common malady known as stuckititis. (Stuck meaning "trapped." Ititis being the six letters you tag on to any word you want to sound impressive. Read it out loud: stuckititis.) Max's Manual of Medical Terms has this to say about the condition:
Attacks of stuckititis are limited to people who breathe and typically occur somewhere between birth and death. Stuckititis manifests itself in irritability, short fuses, and a mountain range of molehills. The common symptom of stuckititis victims is the repetition of questions beginning with who, what, and why. Who is this person? What was I thinking? Why didn't I listen to my mother?
This prestigious manual identifies three ways to cope with stuckititis: flee, fight, or forgive. Some opt to flee: to get out of the relationship and start again elsewhere, though they are often surprised when the condition surfaces on the other side of the fence as well. Others fight. Houses become combat zones, offices become boxing rings, and tension becomes a way of life. A few, however, discover another treatment: forgiveness. My manual has no model for how forgiveness occurs, but the Bible does.
Jesus himself knew the feeling of being stuck with someone. For three years he ran with the same crew. By and large, he saw the same dozen or so faces around the table, around the campfire, around the clock. They rode in the same boats and walked the same roads and visited the same houses, and I wonder, how did Jesus stay so devoted to his men? Not only did he have to put up with their visible oddities, he had to endure their invisible foibles. Think about it. He could hear their unspoken thoughts. He knew their private doubts. Not only that, he knew their future doubts. What if you knew every mistake your loved ones had ever made and every mistake they would ever make? What if you knew every thought they would have about you, every irritation, every dislike, every betrayal?
Was it hard for Jesus to love Peter, knowing Peter would someday curse him? Was it tough to trust Thomas, knowing Thomas would one day question Jesus' resurrection? How did Jesus resist the urge to recruit a new batch of followers? John wanted to destroy one enemy. Peter sliced off the ear of another. Just days before Jesus' death, his disciples were arguing about which of them was the best! How was he able to love people who were hard to like?
Few situations stir panic like being trapped in a relationship. It's one thing to be stuck with a puppy but something else entirely to be stuck in a marriage. We may chuckle over goofy terms like stuckititis, but for many, this is no laughing matter. For that reason I think it wise that we study Jesus' heart of forgiveness to understand what it means to be just like him. How was Jesus able to love his disciples?
How does stuckititis feel in your life?
Back to that closing question: How was Jesus able to love his disciples? Think about this between now and your next reading.
Have you inflicted someone else with the condition stuckititis? In what relationships?
Excerpted from JUST LIKE JESUS DEVOTIONAL by Max Lucado Copyright © 2002 by Max Lucado. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.