Wednesday, September 30, 2009
All people everywhere are looking for acceptance.
As humans, all of us require space, or freedom, to be who we are. We want to be accepted as we are. That does not mean that we don't know we need some change, but we don't want people giving us the message, even subtly, that we must change in order to be "in."
We are more likely to change for those who are willing to accept us with our flaws, than we are for those who make demands and expect us to live by their list of rules and regulations.
One thing is for sure, God won't change the people we are trying to change. He has a "hands off" policy when He is working in human lives.
Even when we think we are hiding our disapproval, people can still feel it. It is in our voice tone and body language even when it isn't in our words. We may try to control what we say, but whatever is in the heart eventually comes out of the mouth. Sooner or later we slip and say what we have been thinking.
I am not saying that we must accept sin and wrong behavior in other people and merely put up with it. But I am saying loud and clear, from my own personal experience and from God's Word, that the way to change is prayer, not pressure! If we love people and pray about their sin, God will work.
Many people who irritate us are simply being themselves, and their personality just does not mesh with ours.
Often the things we need the most in other people are available for us to enjoy, if we will stop judging them and trying to change them.
I, I, I - that is our biggest problem.
Sometimes we want others to change, when actually we are the ones who need to change.
We cannot change people by pressuring them or by nagging them.
For change to be lasting, it must come from the inside out. Only God can effect that type of heart change.
Anytime we expect someone else to keep us happy all the time, we are in for some disappointment.
I have come to realize that we are always looking for the perfect marriage, perfect friend, perfect job, perfect neighborhood, perfect church, and the truth is it does not exist! As long as we are in earthly bodies we will manifest imperfection.
There is no place in God's Word that we are told to reject people. Instead, we are to love them, we are to give them understanding, mercy and compassion.
I am free to be me, and you are free to be you. All we need to do is personally obey God, we don't need to prove anything to ourselves or anyone else. If we obey God, He will take care of our reputation.
Unrealistic expectations also affect us in our relationships with other people. As we have already mentioned, people are people, and all people come with strengths and weaknesses. To be in a relationship with people we have to take both. To expect others to be responsible for our personal happiness is a big mistake.
People are not perfect, and to expect them to be is frustrating for everyone involved. We must learn to be generous with mercy and to sow seeds of mercy, so we can reap mercy when we need it.
Unrealistic expectations concerning our circumstances can also be a tool used by Satan to bring us into discouragement and despair.
We all like to plan our life and have it go exactly the way we planned, but that rarely happens. That is not negative - it is truth. As believers, we are given the power of the Holy Spirit to help us do different things, not to make our life so easy that we never have to use our faith.
I urge you to expect good things to happen in your life. I certainly would not tell you to expect bad things. I also urge you to be realistic and realize that we all have to deal with things that are unpleasant and people who are disagreeable. Our attitude in these trying situations makes the difference between whether we enjoy life or not.
I encourage you to set your mind and keep it set in this area. Be determined never to be defeated again by circumstances that don't line up with your desires. Stay calm in trials and trust God. What Satan intends for your harm, God will work for your good as you trust Him. Pray in this area and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit. As long as you live in the deception of unrealistic expectations, you will never succeed at being yourself.
Just as we can never be free to succeed at being ourselves unless we learn about and receive God's unconditional love, so it is with receiving His grace, favor and mercy.
I mentioned that we must receive grace, favor and mercy, but many people don't know how to receive at all. We are accustomed in our society to working or paying for everything. We struggle to get, but God wants us to freely receive.
Again and again, the Bible speaks of receiving from God. He is always pouring out His blessing, and we should, as empty, thirsty vessels, learn to take in freely all that He offers us.
To get is to obtain by struggle and effort, while to receive is to become a receptacle and simply take in what is being offered.
This distinction between getting and receiving helps us understand why so many Christians struggle in their walk with the Lord. They are trying to get everything they need from Him when they should be simply asking and receiving.
When we learn to ask and receive, truly our joy will be full. Once we have freely received, then we can freely give.
In our society today we find very few people who are able to freely give. Perhaps this scripture sheds light on why. If we never learn to freely receive from Jesus, we will never learn to freely give to others.
Satan has done a good job of deceiving us into believing that we must earn or pay for everything. We have somehow been convinced that we must struggle and strive to get what we want from God.
"Come unto me" is a comfortable feeling invitation. It is not filled with sounds of struggle and effort.
We must learn more about receiving and come to the realization that according to God's Word all of His blessings come by grace, through faith.
We are saved by grace through faith, and we must learn to live our daily lives the same way. Grace is something that cannot possibly be earned, it can only be received as a free gift.
Grace is the power of God to help us in areas in which we cannot help ourselves. We need help in every area of our lives. If we are to live victoriously, we must realize our impotence and exercise our faith in God's grace. He is more than willing to help us if we are willing to give up our independent attitudes.
Grace is always flowing to us in every situation, but it must be received by faith.
God will not permit us to succeed without Him. If He did, we would take the credit that is due Him. If we could change people, we would be changing them to suit our purposes, which would steal their freedom to make their own choices.
Many believers are frustrated in their Christian experience because they don't understand how to freely receive grace, favor, and mercy. They are always working at something, trying to earn what God only gives by grace through faith.
First Peter 5:5 teaches us that He gives grace only to the humble. The humble are those who admit their weakness and total inability to truly succeed without God's help. The proud are always trying to get some credit. They want to think it is their ability that accomplishes what needs to be done. Proud people have difficulty asking, and even more difficulty receiving.
Once we understand grace, we must grown in learning how to receive it in every situation. Trusting God fully is something we grow into. The more we trust God, the stronger we are spiritually. The more we trust ourselves, or even other people and things, the weaker we are spiritually.
We only learn to trust God by doing it. We grow in grace by practicing putting our faith in God and receiving His grace in situtations that are difficult or impossible for us. Sometimes we put our faith in God, and He gives us grace for a deliverance. At other times we put our faith in God, and He gives us grace to "go through." We must leave that choice to Him and know that either way we can have victory, but only by grace through faith.
If you are struggling with something right now in your life, ask yourself honestly if you are putting your faith in God that His grace will meet the need. Remember, grace is unmerited favor to us sinners. It is God's power coming into our situations to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
Proud people compare themselves to others and feel superior if they are able to do something others cannot do. As Christians, we are to judge ourselves soberly, knowing that without God we cannot do anything of value and that whatever we are able to accomplish is only by His grace. He gives us a measure of His own faith to do whatever He assigns us in life. He gives us abilities by His grace and favor, not by our earning it.
God's grace manifests in each of is in a different way.
Grace manifests itself in different ways in different people, but whatever we are good at or successful at is due to the grace of God. None of us is gifted in every area, and even in those areas in which we are gifted we are rarely perfect.
These things keep us dependent on God and not ourselves. In order to succeed at being ourselves, we must understand how to receive grace, favor and mercy. We cannot receive something if we do not even understand what it is. It is vitally important to remember that grace is God's undeserved favor which we receive through our faith. It leaves us thankful and living our lives with an "attitude of gratitude."
Favor is available to us also, but like many other good things in life, just because something is available to us does not mean that we will ever partake of it. The Lord makes many things available to us that we never receive and enjoy because we never activate our faith in that area.
I think we all have some personality quirks that can turn people off, so praying for favor is a wise thing to do. When God gives us favor, people favor us - and often for no reasony they can even explain.
Favor is actually a part of grace. The grace of God is the favor of God. And the favor of God is the grace of God - that which causes things to happen in our life that need to happen, through the channel of our faith - the power of God doing something for us that we can neither earn nor deserve.
When we say to someone, "Can you do me a favor?" We are asking that person to do something for us that we have neither earned nor paid for. We are depending on that individuals goodness to manifest in the first of a blessing, even though there is no natural reason for it to be given.
I believe there are many things God would do for us, if we would be bold enough to ask. Boldness in prayer cannot be obtained without an understanding of mercy. We all make mistakes, and our reward should be punishment, not favor. That is exactly why boldness is required to go before the Lord and ask first for forgiveness and then for mercy.
Friday, September 25, 2009
People only see what we do, and they want to know why we are not doing it better, or why we are doing it at all. Jesus knows why we behave the way we do. He sees and remembers all the emotional wounds and bruises in our past. He knows what we were created for. He knows and understands our weaknesses. He knows about every fear, every insecurity, every doubt, all our wrong thinking about ourselves.
Once we enter into personal relationship with Him by being born again, He begins a process of restoration in our lives that will not be entirely finished until we leave the earth. One by one He restores to us everything Satan has stolen from us.
Jesus understands us, He loves us unconditionally and He is committed to working with us through the Holy Spirit - and He does not condemn us while He is at it.
The world demands that we change. It persistently gives us the message that something is wrong with us if we cannot do what is expected of us. On our own, we will never be able to do all that is expected of us. Our only hope is in who we are in Christ.
When we receive Jesus Christ as Savior, we are considered to be "in Him". What He earned and deserves we get by inheritance. We must know who we are in Christ. It is our beginning, the place from which we begin the new life. Without the deep understanding of this truth, we will ramble around in life and even in Christianity believing the lie that our acceptance by God is based on our performance.
The truth is, our acceptance by God is based on Jesus' performance, not ours. When He died on the cross, we died with Him. When He was buried, we were buried with Him. When He was resurrected, we were resurrected with Him. That is the way God chooses to see all of us who sincerely believe in Jesus as our substitutional sacrifice and the payment for all our sins.
...We enter into a loving relationship with God wherein He accepts us because of His own goodness and not ours.
It is impossible to "earn favor"; otherwise, it would not be favor. A favor is something someone does for us out of kindness, not because we deserve it.
It is freeing to finally see that our worth and value are not based on what we do, but on who we are in Christ. God has assigned value to us by allowing Jesus to die for us. By the very act of Christ's death on the cross, and the suffering He endured, God the Father is saying to each one of us, "You are very valuable to Me, and I will pay any price to redeem you and see that you have the good life I originally intended for you."
God does care about our actions. He wants them to be correct. He actually wants us to grow up and become mature Christians who act like Jesus did when He walked the earth. God wants us to do good works - but He does not want us to depend on them to gain us anything. He wants us to do good works because we love Him. He wants our good works to be a response to what He has done to, for and in us.
Many people do good works for wrong reasons, and get no reward for them.
Our motives are of utmost importance to God.
I want to know the right way to approach God, and as far as I can see in His Word, it is through faith in what Jesus has done, not faith in what I can do.
We cannot succeed at being ourselves without knowing these things. We cannot succeed without stepping out in faith, not works. If we believe our acceptance is based on our doing, we will always feel rejected when we fail to do the right thing. But if we put our dependence on who we are in Christ, rather than on what we do for Him, our "who" will fix our "do".
How do you see yourself?
Are you able to honestly evaluate yourself and your behavior and not come under condemnation? Are you able to look at how far you still have to go, but also look at how far you have come? Where you are now is not where you will end up. Have a vision for the finish line or you will never get out of the starting block.
The changes in us personally, as well as those in our circumstances, take place in degrees.
If you are born again, then you are somewhere on the path of the righteous. You may not be as far along as you would like to be, but thank God you are on the path. There was a time when you were totally outside of covenant relationship with God through unbelief. But now you belong to the household of God and are being transformed by Him day by day. Enjoy the glory you are in right now and don't get jealous of where others may be. They had to pass through where you are at some time themselves.
We have a strong (fleshly) tendency to compare our glory with everybody else's. The devil arranges for us to think that way, but it is not God's way. God wants us to realize that each of us is a unique individual and that He has a unique plan for every one of us. Satan wants to make sure that we never enjoy where we are at the moment. He wants us in competition with one another, always wanting what someone else has. When we don't know how to enjoy the glory we are in right now, all we do is slow down the maturing process.
We are usually too hard on ourselves. We would grow faster if we relaxed more. We cannot live by our feelings in these matters. Satan makes sure we frequently "feel" that we are an unredeemable mess or that God is not working in our lives. We must learn to live by God's Word and not by how we feel. His Word states that as long as we believe, He is working in us!
Often we "feel" rejected, so we believe people are rejecting us. Perhaps the truth is they do not even see us; therefore, they are not accepting or rejecting us. If we believe that people are rejecting us, it is likely that they will reject us. Our "poor me, nobody loves me, I'm always rejected" attitude is what makes people want to stay away from us.
We must not develop the attitude that if we don't perform perfectly, we will be rejected. I will admit that the world often operates on that principle, but God doesn't, and neither should we. None of us who has taken an honest look at ourselves would dare refuse to accept others unless they are perfect. Jesus taught that we can demand perfection in others as a prerequisite to relationship with us only when our own perfection is complete.
We become so accustomed to people in the world being overly concerned about our performance and what we are doing, that we bring wrong thinking into our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We think God is the way the world is, and He is not. The fear of being rejected (or not being accepted) is one of the major hindrances to our succeeding at being ourselves.
As we step out to be all we can be in Christ, we will make some mistakes - everyone does. But it takes the pressure off of us when we realize that God is expecting us to do the best we can. He is not expecting us to be perfect (totally without flaw). If we were as perfect as we try to be, we would not need a Savior. I believe God will always leave a certain number of defects in us, just so we will know how much we need Jesus every single day.
A gap is a space between two things. There is a gap, a space between us and God put there by our imperfections and sins. God is perfect and completely holy. He can only fellowship with those who are like Him. That is why we come to Him through Christ. Jesus is just like His Father.
Jesus stands in the gap between God's perfection and our imperfection. He continually intercedes for us because we continually need it. Jesus came to us as both the Son of God and the Son of Man. He is the mediator between the two parties - us and God. Through Him, we come into agreement and fellowship with the Father. In Him we are acceptable to God.
God accepts us because we are believers in His Son Jesus Christ. If we believe the lies of Satan, we spend our lives struggling and in frustration. Our abilities are crippled, and we never succeed at being ourselves.
If we spend years on the performance/acceptance treadmill, it is hard to get off of it. It becomes a way of living. It affects our thoughts, perceptions and decisions.
Many people would rather stay on the performance/acceptance treadmill than step off it and have to face the possibility of failure. Others feel so bad about themselves due to their past failures that they won't even try to start a new way of life.
When people are addicted to feeling good about themselves only when the perform well, they are in for a life of misery. It is a cycle of trying and failing, trying harder and failing again, feeling guilty and rejected, trying again and failing again, and on and on.
God does not want us on the performance/acceptance treadmill. He wants us to feel good about ourselves whether we perform perfectly or not. He doesn't want us to be filled with pride, but He certainly did not create us to reject ourselves...If we perform poorly, we can be sorry and hope to do better the next time. We can try to improve our performance (our "do"), but our worth and value (our "who") cannot be determined by our performance.
People who have problems in this are perceive things wrongly. If they are expecting to be rejected when their performance is not good, they react as though they were already rejected - which confuses those in relationship with them.
We receive through the act of believing; what we believe is what we receive, and nothing else. If we don't believe in the grace, mercy and favor of God, then we cannot receive it. If we believe we must do everything perfectly right to be accepted by God, then we will reject His love even though He is not rejecting us. This wrong thinking and believing keeps us trapped. It is like a treadmill that is going so fast we cannot seem to find a place to get off.
You and I pressure ourselves when we have unrealistic expectations, when we expect ourselves to be perfect. God does not want us to live under this kind of pressure.
Actually I was trying to be like so many people at once that I got lost.
Have you also lost yourself? Are you frustrated from trying to meet all the demands of other people while feeling unfulfilled yourself? If so, you will have to take a stand and be determined to find yourself and then succeed at being yourself. If you buy into the world's strategy, something will be screaming at you from every side.
Have you ever felt that you could not be everything that everybody wanted you to be? Have you ever known deep down inside that you really needed to say "no" to a lot of people - but the fear of displeasing them had your mouth saying, "I'll try," while your heart was screaming, "I can't do it!"
Insecure people say "yes" when they really mean "no." Those who succeed at being themselves don't allow others to control them. They are led by their heart, not by the fear of displeasing others or being rejected by them.
We cannot get angry at people because they place demands on us. It is our responsibility to order our lives. We need to know our identity, our direction and our calling - God's will for us. We must make the decisions that will keep us pressing toward our goals. We must be focused individuals with purpose.
I can remember feeling intense pressure when people would ask me to do something that I really did not want to do. I thought they were pressuring me, but in reality it was my own fears and insecurities that were creating the pressure.
Of course, there are times in life when all of us do things we would rather not do. We do things for others because we love them, and we should do that. But in doing so, we are still being led by God's Spirit to walk in love and make a sacrifice for someone else's benefit or welfare. This is entirely different from being controlled and manipulated by other people's demands and expectations.
We are all different. Like the sun, the moon and the stars, God has created us to be different from one another, and He has done it on purpose. Each of us meets a need, and we are all part of God's overall plan. When we struggle to be like others, not only do we lose ourselves, but we also grieve the Holy Spirit. God wants us to fit into His plan, not to feel pressured trying to fit into everyone else's plans. Different is ok; it is all right to be different.
We are all born with different temperaments, different physical features, different fingerprints, different gifts and abilities, etc. Our goal should be to find out what we individually are supposed to be, and then succeed at being that.
Romans 12 teaches us that we are to give ourselves to our gift. In other words, we are to find out what we are good at and then throw ourselves wholeheartedly into it.
I have discovered that I enjoy doing what I am good at doing. Some people feel they are not good at anything, but that is not true. When we make an effort to do what others are good at doing, we often fail because we are not gifted for those things; but that does not mean we are good for nothing.
To be honest, as long as I was busy trying to be everyone else, I was failing at almost everything. When I accepted what God had for me and started doing it, I began to succeed.
I encourage you to focus on your potential instead of your limitations.
We all have limitations, and we must accept them. That is not bad; it is just a fact. It is wonderful to be free to be different, not to feel that something is wrong with us because we are different.
We should be free to love and accept ourselves and one another without feeling pressure to compare or compete. Secure people who know God loves them and has a plan for them are not threatened by the abilities of others. They enjoy what other people can do, and they enjoy what they can do.
Comparison and competition are worldly, not godly. The world's system demands it, but God's system condemns it.
It has occurred to me that "they" seem to run our lives. It is amazing how many decisions we make based on the opinion of "they". If we begin to listen carefully, we will realize how often we make the statement, "Well, you know, they always say...."
For example, "they" decide what colors we can wear together, what clothing styles are appropriate, how we may cut our hair and what we are allowed to eat and drink. "They" happen to be a person or a group of people somewhere who are not much different from us. "They" have set a standard by doing something a certain way, and now all of us seem to feel it must be done that way, just because "they" say so.
I started realizing "they" were running my life, and I decided I didn't like it. I didn't even know who "they" were. I decided I was tired of being enslaved by what "they" wanted and that I was going to live free of the bondage of public opinion. We can all do that, because Jesus has already liberated us.
Surely Jesus has set us free from being controlled and manipulated by an elusive group called "they". Surely we don't have to compare ourselves to "them" or be in competition with "them."
If we are really liberated, then we are free to be who we are - not who someone else is! That means we are free to do what God has for us to do, not what we see someone else doing.
God wants us looking to Him for answers and direction, not running to and depending on other people. This does not mean that we cannot learn from each other but we do need to stay balanced in this area.
I learned that no matter how much I may want to do what someone else is doing, I cannot do it unless God wills and anoints it for me. He might have a different plan for me. I have to accept that or I will be frustrated all my life.
"They" tell us that only big things are important, but God has different ideas. The thing that is important to Him is obedience.
It seems that each role in life has expectations attached to it, but we must be sure whose expectations they are.
When we pressure people to do what we are doing, or what we think they should be doing, we often miss the gift they could contribute if we would let God choose their ministry. People are naturally going to want to do what God has gifted them to do. By the same token, we won't feel fulfilled if we repress our gifts and do what others are doing just to be approved or accepted by them.
I have discovered that boldness is required in order to be led by the Holy Spirit, because He may not always lead us to do what everyone else is doing. Some insecure people tend to feel "safer" doing what others do. They are fearful of "breaking the mold" or standing alone. Anytime we step outside the boundaries of what "they" say is permissible, we take a chance on being judged or criticized. Insecure people will usually give into the expectations and demands of others rather than face disapproval and possible rejection. We must not allow such things to keep us from fulfilling our God-given purpose.
Confronting the criticism and judgment of other people becomes easier when we remember that ultimately it is before our own Master that we stand or fall. In the end we will answer to God alone. It is a sin to be critical and judgmental, but it is equally sinful to permit the adverse opinions of other people to control our decisions. Romans 14:23 says that whatever is not of faith is sin.
We crave acceptance; therefore criticism and judgment are hard on us mentally and emotionally. The fact is, it hurts to be criticized or judged!
Criticism and judgment are the devil's tools. He uses them to stop people from fulfilling their destiny and to steal their liberty and creativity.
Some people criticize whatever is different from their choices. It is interesting to note that most of these people are also very insecure - that is why they are uncomfortable with people who don't conform to their way of thinking or acting.
Secure people can handle being the only ones doing something. They can easily allow friends and family members the liberty to make their own choices.
Jesus obviously wasn't concerned about what others thought. He had a goal - to do the Father's will - no more, no less. He knew He had to maintain His freedom in order to fulfill His destiny.
Criticism and judgment may be painful but not as painful as allowing ourselves to be controlled and manipulated by that criticism and judgment. To me, the greatest tragedy in life would be to get old and feel that somewhere along the way I had lost myself and never succeeded at being me.
Have you lost yourself, or have you found yourself?
To succeed at being ourselves, we must be confident. It is not self-confidence we are to seek, but confidence in Christ. It is actually a sin to be confident in ourselves - but to be confident in Christ should be the goal of every believer.
We keep attempting to do things in the strength of our own flesh, instead of placing all our confidence in Him.
Most of our internal agony, our struggling and frustration, come from misplaced confidence. In Phillipians 3:3 Paul says that we are to put no confidence in the flesh. This means our own selves as well as our friends and family. I am not saying that we cannot trust anyone, but if we give to others or to ourselves the trust that belongs to God alone, we will not experience victory. God will not allow us to succeed until our confidence is in the right place, or more correctly, in the right Person. He is willing to give us the victory, but He must have the glory, which is the credit that is due Him.
In order to succeed at anything, we must have confidence, but first and foremost it must be confidence in God, not confidence in anything else. We must develop confidence in God's love, goodness and mercy. We must believe that He wants us to succeed.
God did not create us for failure. We may fail at some things on our way to success, but if we trust Him, He will take even our mistakes and work them out for our good.
It is important to realize that a mistake is not the end of things, if we hold on to our confidence.
I have discovered that God will take my mistakes and turn them into miracles, if I continue to trust confidently in Him.
Just because we are destined to do something does not mean that it will automatically happen. Confidence is definitely required for any of us to truly succeed at being ourselves.
Confidence is actually faith in God. We must learn to be consistantly confident, not occasionally confident.
It is easier to remain confident when we see progress, but during a time of waiting the devil attacks our confidence and attempts to destroy it.
Sometimes our confidence is shaken when trials come, especially if they are lengthy. We should have so much confidence in God's love for us that no matter what comes against us, we know deep inside that we are more than conquerors. If we are truly confident, we have no need to fear trouble, challenges or trying times, because we know they will pass.
Whenever a trial of any kind comes against you, remember: This too shall pass! Be confident that during the trial you will learn something that will help you in the future.
Without confidence we are stifled at every turn. Satan drops a bomb, and our dreams are destroyed. Eventually we start over, but we never make much progress. We start and get defeated, start and get defeated, start and get defeated, over and over again.
But those who are consistently confident, those who know they are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ, make rapid progress.
If we dont' believe in ourselves, who is going to? God believes in us, and it is a good thing too; otherwise, we might never make any progress. In our lives, we cannot wait for someone else to come along and encourage us to be all we can be. We may be blessed enough to have that kind of support, but we may not.
Confidence is something we decide to have. We learn about God - about His love, His ways and His Word - then ultimately we must decide whether we believe or not. If we do believe, then we have confidence. If we don't believe, we live in doubt about everything.
I encourage you to take a big step of faith and stop doubting yourself. As the old saying goes, "Don't sell yourself short." You have more capabilities than you think you do. You are able to do a lot more than you have ever done in the past. God will help you, if you will put your trust in Him and stop doubting yourself.
Like everyone else, you will make mistakes - but God will allow you to learn from them and will actually work them out to your good if you will decide not to be defeated by them. When doubt begins to torment your mind, start speaking the Word of God out of your mouth, and you will win the battle.
When we are confident and free from tormenting fears, we are able to develop our potential and succeed at being all God intended us to be. But we cannot develop our potential if we fear failure. We will be so afraid of failing or making mistakes that it will prevent us from stepping out.
When we are insecure, frequently we will stay with what is safe and familiar rather than taking a chance on stepping out and failing.
When God is ready to move in our lives, we need to believe that He will equip us with what we need at the time we need it.
Our problem is not honestly feeling we are not ready for the next step, it is pridefully feeling we are ready when we really aren't. Pride always causes problems and ultimate failure. Humbly leaning on God leads to success. I believe God calls us to step out when we don't feel ready so we will have to lean on Him totally.
Insecurity, self-doubt and fear can totally prevent us from ever reaching our full potential. But if our confidence is in Christ rather than in ourselves, we are free to develop our potential, because we are free from the fear of failure.
The amount of undeveloped, wasted potential in the world is pathetic. God places a part of Himself in each of us. We are created in His image, and He is filled with potential - with God nothing is impossible.
All of us have potential and many of us want a manifestation of it, but too often we are not willing to wait, be determined and work hard at developing that potential. We have a lot of "wish bone," but not much "back bone."
The development and manifestation of potential requires firm faith, not wishful thinking.
I hope you have a dream or a vision in your heart for something greater than what you have now. Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above and beyond all that we can hope or ask or think. If we are not thinking, hoping or asking for anything, we are cheating ourselves. We need to think big thoughts, hope for big things and ask for big things.
I always say I would rather ask God for a lot and get half of it, then to ask Him for a little and get all of it. However, it is an unwise person who only thinks, dreams and asks big but fails to realize that an enterprise is built by wise planning.
Dreams for the future are possibilities, but not what I call "positivelies." In other words, they are possible, but they will not positively occur unless we do our part.
Far too many people take the "quick fix" method for everything. They only want what makes them feel good right now. They are not willing to invest for the future.
There is a gold mine hidden in every life, but we have to dig to get to it. We must be willing to dig deep and go beyond how we feel or what is convenient. If we will dig down deep into the spirit, we will find strength we never knew we had.
Quite often we look at a task and think there is no way we can do what needs to be done. That happens because we look at ourselves when we should be looking at God.
If God promises to be with us - and He does - that is really all we need. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Whatever ingredients we are lacking in the natural man, He adds to the spiritual man. We can draw what we need out of the spirit.
Most of the things that are truly worth doing are never easy - we are not filled with the Spirit of God to do easy things. He fills us with His Spirit so we can do impossible things!
If you want to develop your potential and succeed at being all you can be, keep your eyes on the prize and press on! It won't all be easy, but it will all be worthwhile.
Most of those who blame everyone and everything for their failures had potential but either did not know how to develop it or were unwilling to meet its requirements.
When things don't work out in our lives, it is not God's fault. He has a great plan for each one of us. It isn't really circumstances that are to blame, because they can be overcome with faith and determination. It isn't other people who are the problem because Romans 8:31 says, "...if God is for us, who can be against us?" Even though people do come against us, and Satan does use them to hinder and torment us, they cannot prevail. If God is on our side, it just does not matter who comes against us; they are not mightier than He is.
The truth is, when things don't work out for us, and we feel that we are sitting on the sidelines somewhere with life passing us by while everyone else is successful, it is because we have not obeyed God, not pressed on and been willing to take giant steps of faith. We have not been willing to look foolish, to be judged and criticized, to be laughed at, to be rejected and labeled radicals who need to calm down and just "go with the flow."
The world wants us to conform, but the Lord wants to transform us, if we will do things His way. He will take us and change us into something more than we could have ever dreamed - if we will refuse to give up and just keep running the race that is set before us.
To develop our potential and succeed at becoming what God intended us to be, we will have to lay aside other things. To be a winner in life we must do those things that support our goals and help us fulfill our purpose. We must learn to say "no" to well-meaning people who want us to get involved in endless things that ultimately steal our time and produce no fruit.
We must make up our mind and get into agreement with God that we are going to be excellent, not mediocre. We must take an inventory of our life and prune off anything in it that entangles us or simply steals our time. We must be determined, work hard, and refuse to quit or give up - drawing strength from God and not depending on ourselves. If we will do these things persistently, we will eventually have victory. If we are in the race just to have fun, we will not win the prize.
It is virtually impossible to be a spiritual success with known, willful sin in our lives. I don't mean to say that we must be 100 percent perfect in order for God to use us, but I am saying that we must have a aggressive attitude about keeping sin out of our lives. When God says something is wrong, then it is wrong. We don't need to discuss, theorize, blame, make excuses or feel sorry for ourselves - we need to agree with God, ask for forgiveness and work with the Holy Spirit to get that thing out of our lives forever.
Those of us who intend to run the race to win must conduct ourselves temperately and restrict ourselves in all things. We cannot expect someone else to make us do what is right. We must listen to the Holy Spirit and take action ourselves.
Self-discipline is the most important feature in any life, but especially in the life of the Christian. Unless we discipline our minds, our mouths and our emotions, we will live in ruin. Unless we learn to rule our temper, we can never achieve the success that rightfully belongs to us.
Part of the righteousness God wishes and desires for us is the development of personal potential. Angry people are too busy being angry ever to succeed at being the best they can be.
If we are truly intent on running the race to win, we must resist negative emotions. There are a great many negative emotions other than just anger, and we certainly should know what they are and be ready to take authority and control over them as soon as they rear their ugly heads. The following is a partial list of negative emotions we must watch out for: anger, bitterness, depression, despair, discouragement, envy, greed, hate, impatience, jealousy, laziness, lust, pride, resentment, sadness, self-pity, unforgiveness.
We cannot come to fullness without patience.
An impatient attitude is one of the main reasons that many people never reach their full potential.
Patience is not the ability to wait, it is the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.
Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that manifests in a calm, positive attitude. Impatience is filled with negative emotions and is one of Satan's tools used to prevent us from reaching fullness and completeness.
God knows the exact time that is right for everything, and none of our impatience is going to rush this.
"Due season" is God's season, not ours. We are in a hurry, God isn't. He takes time to do things right - He lays a solid foundation before He attempts to build a building. We are God's building under construction. He is the Master Builder, and He knows what He is doing. We may not know what He is doing, but He does, and that will have to be good enough. We may not always know, but we can be satisfied to know the One Who Knows.
God's timing seems to be His own little secret. The Bible promises us that He will never be late, but I have also discovered that He is usually not early. It seems that He takes every available opportunity to develop the fruit of patience in us.
Patience is vital to the development of our full potential. Actually our potential is only developed as our patience is developed. It is God's way - there is no other, so why not settle down and enjoy the journey!
If we don't develop our potential, it won't get developed because no one else is interested in doing it for us.
Find out what you want to do and begin to train yourself for it. Be relentless in your pursuit of reaching your full potential.
Whatever your gift and calling, entrust it to the Lord and begin to develop your potential.
In some way we should improve ourselves every day. We should go forward, letting go of what lies behind. That includes past mistakes and past victories. Even hanging onto the glory of past victories can prevent us from being all God wants us to be in the future.
Make a decision right now that you will never be satisfied with being anything less than all you can be.
If we truly desire to succeed at being ourselves, it is absolutely necessary that we have a thorough understanding of what justifies us and makes us right with God.
If we have real faith, we will do good works, but our dependence will not be on works. Our works will be done as an act of love for God - in obedience to Him - rather than as a "work of the flesh" by which we hope to gain right standing and acceptance with Him.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Self-rejection and even self-hatred are the root causes of many relationship problems. God wants us to have great relationships.
God's Word instructs us to have good relationships, but it also teaches us how to develop and maintain these relationships.
...the Holy Spirit revealed to me that first I must have peace with God. I must believe that He loves me. He does not wait until I am perfect to love me; He loves me unconditionally and completely at all times. Second, I must receive His love.
Receiving is a big issue. When we receive from God, we actually take into ourselves what He is offering. As we receive His love, we then have love in us. Once we are filled with God's love, we can begin loving ourselves. We can also begin giving that love back to God and bestowing it on other people.
Always remember: we cannot give away what we don't have!
We all need to ask ourselves what we are doing with the love of God that has been freely given us. Are we rejecting it because we don't think we are valuable enough to be loved? Do we believe God is like other people who have rejected and hurt us? Or are we receiving His love by faith, believing that He is greater than our failures and weaknesses?
It never occurred to me that I even had a relationship with myself...I now realize that I spend more time with myself than with anyone else, and it is vital that I get along well with me.
You are one person you never get away from.
...we are with us all the time, day and night. We never have one minute away from ourselves, not even one second - therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we have peace with ourselves.
It seemed to me that I had always had difficulties in relationships, and I really did not know why. I could not find people that I liked and enjoyed who also felt the same way about me. Through God's help I finally realized what the problem was: I was trying to give away something that I did not have.
...I had heard with my ears that God loved me, but I had not really believed it for myself. I may have believed it in general, but not personally.
We frequently try to deal with the bad first in our lives and never get to the root cause of it. If the root remains, the fruit will keep coming back. No matter how many times we cut it off, eventually it will come back. This cycle is very frustrating. We are trying the best we know how, and yet it seems we never find a permanent solution to our miseries.
I was desperately attempting to display loving behavior, but I had failed to receive God's love; therefore, I could not give away love. I did not have any to give.
I had tried walking in "perfect love" and had failed daily. I thought "perfect love" referred to my loving others perfectly. I was now beginning to see that perfect love was God's love for me - He is the only One who can love perfectly.
God's love is perfect even when we are not!
My problem was a lack of love. I had never received proper love in my life; therefore, I had never learned to properly love myself. I didn't even like myself, let alone love myself. If nobody else loves us, we don't see why we should love ourselves. If others don't love us, we think we must not be worth loving.
We should love ourselves - not in a selfish, self-centered way that produces a lifestyle of self-indulgence, but in a balanced, godly way, a way that simply affirms God's creation as essentially good and right. We may be flawed by the years and the unfortunate experiences we have undergone, but that does not mean we are worthless and good for nothing but the trash can.
We must have the kind of love that says, "I can love what God can love. I don't love everything I do, but I accept myself, because God accepts me." We must develop the kind of mature love that says, "I know I need to change, and I want to change. In fact, I believe God is changing me daily, but in the meanwhile I will not reject what God accepts. I will accept myself as I am right now, knowing that I will not always remain this way."
Our faith gives us hope for the future.
Once we receive God's love and begin to love and accept ourselves, it greatly improves our relationship with Him. Until we accept His love, the cycle is incomplete. We can love Him only because He first loved us.
Insecurity and feelings of unworthiness keep us from being able to receive very well. We may feel that we must earn or deserve everything we get. We may think, "Why would someone want to just give me something?" We may become suspicious: "What is their motive? What do they want from me? What are they after?"
When God reaches out to love us, He is attempting to start a cycle that will bless not only us but also many others.
God's plan is this: He wants us to receive His love, love ourselves in a balanced and godly way, generously love Him in return, and finally love all the people who come into our lives.
Rejecting ourselves does not change us, it actually multiplies our problems. Acceptance causes us to face reality and then begin to deal with it. We cannot deal with anything as long as we are refusing to accept it or denying its reality.
People who reject themselves do so because they cannot see themselves as proper or right. They only see their flaws and weaknesses, not their beauty and strength.
To walk with God, we must agree with God. He says He loves us and accepts us; therefore, if we agree with Him, we can no longer hate and reject ourselves.
We need to agree with God that when He created us, He created something good.
Once again let me emphasize that I realize everything we do is not good, but at this point we are discussing ourselves, not our behavior.
...You see the things in yourself that need to be changed, and it is very difficult for you to think or say, "I accept myself." You feel that to do so would be to accept all that is wrong with you, but that is not the case.
Change requires correction - people who do not know they are loved have a very difficult time receiving correction. Correction does no good at all if it is not received.
We cannot trust unless we believe we are loved. To grow up in God and be changed, we must trust Him. Often He will lead us in ways that we cannot understand, and during those times we must have a tight grip on His love for us.
Accept God's love for you and make that love the basis for your love and acceptance of yourself. Receive his affirmation, knowing that you are changing and becoming all that He desires you to be. Then start enjoying yourself - where you are - on your way to full spiritual maturity.
We have already established that insecurity caused by a poor self-image affects all of our relationships. It also greatly affects our future.
If you have a poor self-image, it has already adversely affected your past, but you can be healed and not allow the past to repeat itself. Let go of what lies behind, including any negative ways you have felt about yourself, and press on toward the good things God has in store for you.
God has a good plan for each one of us, but not all of us experience it. Many times we live far below the standard that God intends for us to enjoy.
A poor self-image causes us to operate in fear instead of faith. We look at what is wrong with us instead of what is right with Jesus. He has taken our wrongness and given us His righteousness. We need to walk in the reality of that truth.
We offer God what we have, and He gives us what He has. He takes all of our sins, faults, weaknesses and failures, and gives us His ability, His righteousness, and His strength. He takes our poverty, and gives us His riches. He takes our diseases and sicknesses, and gives us His healing and health. He takes our messed up failure-filled past, and gives us the hope of a bright future.
God does not have a bad attitude toward you - you should not have one toward yourself! Shake off the past and set your sights on the future.
Almost every one of us could use some improvement in our self-image. It takes time to grasp the hope for ourselves that God has for us.
It is so wonderful and comforting to know that when everyone else only sees our faults, God still sees our possibilities.
In the Bible we find that when people were in trouble, God met them where they were and helped them. Thank God He does not wait for us to manage to get to Him - but He comes to us!
God often makes miracles out of mistakes.
Each of us has a destiny, and there is absolutely no excuse not to fulfill it. We cannot use our weakness as an excuse, because God says that His strength is made perfect in weakness. We cannot use the past as an excuse because God tells us through the Apostle Paul that if any person is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away, and all things have become new.
How God sees us is not the problem, it is how we see ourselves that keeps us from succeeding. Each of us can succeed at being everything God intends us to be.
We are all in the process of becoming. For much of my life I felt that I would never be ok until I arrived, but I have learned that is not the truth. My heart desires to be all God wants me to be, and I want to be like Jesus. My flesh does not always cooperate withe me.
Yes, we all have a way to go. I was distraught about how far I had to go, and it seemed Satan reminded me of it daily, sometimes even hourly. I carried a constant sense of failure, a feeling that I was just not what I needed to be, that I was not doing good enough, that I should try harder - and yet when I did try harder, I only failed more.
I have now adopted a new attitude: "I am not where I need to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be; I'm ok, and I'm on my way!"
I now know with all my heart that God is not angry with me because I have not arrived. He is pleased that I am pressing on , that I am staying on the path. If you and I will just "keep on keeping on," God will be pleased with our progress.
Keep walking the walk. A walk is something taken one step at a time. This is an important thing to remember.
If I invited you to take a walk, you would think I was crazy if I became angry after the first few steps because we had not yet arrived at our destination. We can understand ordinary things like this, and yet we have a difficult time understanding that God expects it to take some time for us to grow spiritually.
We don't think there is something wrong with one-year-old children because they cannot walk perfectly. They fall down frequently, but we pick them up, love them, bandage them if necessary, and keep working with them. Surely our awesome God can do even more for us than we do for our children.
It is very important to maintain balance in all things, for if we don't we open a door for Satan.
We have been considering how to have a good self-image. One way we do that is by realizing that we have not arrived at perfection, that we have some growing to do, but that in the meantime we are ok. It is true that we have to keep pressing on, but thank God we don't have to hate and reject ourselves while we are trying to get to our destination.
What is a normal, healthy Christian attitude toward self? Here are a few thoughts that reflect that kind of wholesome, God-centered self-image:
- I know God created me, and He loves me.
- I have faults and weaknesses, and I want to change. I believe God is working in my life. He is changing me bit by bit, day by day. While He is doing so, I can still enjoy myself and my life.
- Everyone has faults, so I am not a complete failure just because I am not perfect.
- I am going to work with God to overcome my weaknesses, but I realize that I will always have something to deal with; therefore, I will not become discouraged when God convicts me of areas in my life that need improvement.
- I want to make people happy and have them like me, but my sense of worth is not dependent on what others think of me. Jesus has already affirmed my value by His willingess to die for me.
- I will not be controlled by what people think, say or do. Even if they totally reject me, I will survive. God has promised never to reject me or condemn me as long as I keep believing.
- No matter how often I fail, I will not give up, because God is with me to strengthen and sustain me. He has promised never to leave me or forsake me.
- I like myself. I don't like everything I do, and I want to change - but I refuse to reject myself.
- I am right with God through Jesus Christ.
- God has a good plan for my life. I am going to fulfill my destiny and be all I can be for His glory. I have God-given gifts and talents, and I intend to use them to help others.
- I am nothing, and yet I am everything! In myself I am nothing, and yet in Jesus I am everything I need to be.
- I can do all things I need to do, everything that God calls me to do, through His Son Jesus Christ.
Here are some additional suggestions to help you develop and maintain a balanced attitude and a healthy self-image:
- Always reject and hate your sin, but don't reject yourself.
- Be quick to repent.
- Be honest with God and yourself, about yourself.
- When God gives you light, don't fear it.
- Stop saying negative, downgrading things about yourself, but don't boast either.
- Don't have an exaggerated opinion of your own importance, but don't think you are insignificant.
- Don't always assume when things go wrong that it is your fault. But don't be afraid to admit it, if you are wrong.
- Beware if having yourself on your mind too much. Don't meditate excessively on what you have done right or what you have done wrong. Both of these activities keep your mind on you! Keep your thoughts centered on Christ and His principles.
- Take good care of yourself physically. Do the best you can with what God gave you to work with - but don't be excessive or vain about your appearance.
- Learn all you can, but don't allow your education to become a point of pride. God does not want us because of our education, but because of our heart toward Him.
- Realize that your gifts and talents are a gift, not someting you have manufactured yourself. Don't look down on people who cannot do what you can do.
- Don't despise your weaknesses - they keep you dependent on God.
Change does not come through struggle, human effort without God, frustration, self-hatred, self-rejection, guilt or works of the flesh.
Change in our lives comes as a result of having our minds renewed by the Word of God. As we agree with God and really believe that what He says is true, it gradually begins to manifest itself in us. We begin to think differently, then we begin to talk differently, and finally we begin to act differently. This is a process that develops in stages, and we must always remember that while it is taking place we can still have the attitude, "I'm ok, and I'm on my way!"
Enjoy yourself while you are changing. Enjoy where you are on the way to where you are going. Enjoy the journey! Don't waste all of your "now time" trying to rush into the future. Remember, tomorrow will have troubles of its own.
Today you may be wrestling with a bad temper and thinking if you could just get freedom in that area, everything would be all right. The thing is, you may have forgotten that God will then reveal something else that needs to be dealth with, and you will be back in the same frame of mind again, thinking, "If only I didn't have this problem, I could be happy."
We should learn to be joyful about our progress, not depressed about how far we still have to go. We must learn to look at the positive, not the negative.
How can we succeed at being ourselves if we don't know ourselves? Life is like a maze sometimes, and it is easy to get lost. Everyone, it seems, expects something different from us. There is pressure coming at us from every direction to keep others happy and meet their needs.
We put a large amount of emotional and mental energy into studying the important people in our lives and trying to decide what they want from us. We then attempt to become what they want us to be. In the process, we may lose ourselves. We may fail to discover what God wants, or what His intention is for us. We may try to please everyone else and yet not be pleased ourselves.