Many psychologists are saying that today's generation has begun to show more narcissistic (Having an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy (compassion) for others) traits than any previous generation. This change has caused our culture to make decisions based on outside influence, rather than morals or convictions (seeking praise and popularity); has caused a high level of materialism and pleasure seeking (because what I want is all that matters); and has caused us to have much less concern for the needs and wants of others around us, or God. This has grown to such a level, that it is common for people to be offended and even attack any pastor who simply has the audacity to tell what God's Word says if that Word doesn't approve of their lifestyle or stroke their ego.
There are a number of Christians today, who have a problem quite the opposite—they have constant, and unshakable feelings of unworthiness. They have lived such a bad life before coming to Christ, or made such bad decisions thus far; because they keep falling and failing in their Christian walk, and feel God is always dissatisfied with them; because their life, "doesn't amount to much", and they don't seem to have the skills and the intelligence to be used. These people usually take every lesson to heart, and often interpret the lesson as one more way they are falling short until they feel overwhelmed and defeated. Many times suffering in their relationship with God, staying in sin, because they feel it's hopeless anyway, and living in a guilty or upset state. These people often see themselves in the eyes of God, as one big walking "mess-up" who will spend their life as the one, "passed by" in God's Favor, and as the one who may slip into the Gates of Heaven unnoticed, at best.
It's to these people, that I would like to speak today; and my first comment to you, on the way you feel about yourself is that:
"It grieves God to see you feeling this way, and it is not the life He died to bring to you.”
1 John 4:18-19.
God uses Mess-Ups! So often I have felt that I have just messed up too many times for God to want to get close to me, again. So many times I have felt that I should have been well beyond acting that way, or falling to that sin again. So many times I know that, "I" would have written "me" off a long time ago. So many times I have felt totally unworthy to be seen or heard, much less used by God. BUT: Exodus 4:10, 13; Isaiah 6:5; Luke 5:8; Psalm 51:1,3,14; Psalm 38:4; Romans 7:15-19.
Adam traded his relationship with God for a chance to be like a god; Noah, got ripped and fell asleep buck naked in front of his family; Abraham called his wife a sister, and gave her to a foreign king, to save himself; Jacob was a liar and a hustler; Moses had a very low self-esteem; David had an affair, and killed a man to cover his reputation; Peter was arrogant, and even denied he knew Christ; Paul fell to sins repeatedly, even when traveling as an Apostle. Each of these men were mightily used by God. God wasn’t shocked or surprised when they sinned or performed poorly; He decided love them that much, and use them that mightily, with the understanding that they would be “mess-ups”.
God hasn’t changed; He loves us that much. God has already seen all of the sins, failures, and disappointments you will ever be a part of. Psalm 139:16-17. He knows we have a fallen nature; He knows we will let Him down, be selfish, get angry, doubt…; and in light of that He has more wonderful thoughts about us than we can imagine. 2 Timothy 2:11-13. When you accept Him, God makes an Unconditional Covenant with you—meaning there is nothing you can do, or not do, to make Him break His Covenant—a Covenant sealed with His very blood. He doesn’t take it lightly—it was done in love. He doesn’t love you any less when you ‘mess-up’. But, does that mean we won’t have to be punished when we sin? [Do you punish your child when they act badly?] Hebrews 12:5-7. Don’t take God’s correction as isolation or rejection; it is an intimate act of love that He wants to use to drive you ultimately close to Him, not further. Honor Him by proclaiming His love and acceptance, even in times of punishment.
Failure is Part of the Big Plan! This is the best news you could possibly hear in our guilt and hopelessness of letting Him down: Not only does He know we will sin and fail; not only does He still love us through it all; but, not one failure has ever been wasted; He uses every failure we have, for a better purpose. If we trust Him, we don't ever even have to look back in regret that it happened because He has used that failure for our good. We are all on a literal journey, to build more faith in God, and more love for God. God knows this journey will be in steps, so with every victory in faith, we see God work in our lives, but also, with every failure to follow and trust Him, it is a chance to see His unconditional faithfulness to us anyway.
In His blessings when you feel most undeserving because He shows His love is true, powerful, and unconditional; only in times of failure, can that real love shine brightest. 2 Corinthians 11:30. One of the sweetest ways to honor Christ, and show your loving faith is by how you accept His forgiveness and love after you've messed up—by showing your childlike faith that our Jesus is still crazy about you; by telling Satan that he doesn't have a chance, even in your screw-ups, because Jesus loves like no other. Instead of shying away, or feeling defeated and unworthy, we should run to him with more appreciation and love than ever.
Living In the Joy of the Lord! Does God's Awesome Grace mean that we have a free ticket to purposefully choose sin over Him, and live guilt-free? So many people miss the day to day joy of being a Blood-Bought-Beloved of Jesus Christ because they live moment by moment depending upon how well they have, "performed!" They live under the guilt of the Laws He came to free us from. They see Jesus as having the same emotions as a sinful man, when we mess up.
Whatever your failures, shortcomings, or sins... Listen to this amazing verse, where Jesus describes Himself to you—when you are under the weight of your own sins and burdens. Matthew 11:28-30.
Jesus said this to those trying to keep the outward appearance of all the burdensome laws the Pharisees placed on them. He was contrasting the difference in how He wanted them to live. He is humble, gentle; He gives your soul rest from its burdens because you are accepted and loved.
If you constantly feel defeated, or inadequate to walk with Christ in real intimacy; to work with Christ in real power and blessing; you've got to get rid of the picture that Satan and the world have given you about Jesus Christ, and know that He sacrificed His life to bring you peace, rest and acceptance in His Gift for you.
Psalm 86:4-7: David plead for happiness in his sins; He had confidence that God is anxious to forgive; He had assurance that God will still listen and answer his prayer, even though he just let Him down in sin—that is how to honor God, and find joy in his love.
God gave such an incredible picture to Israel, when she turned her back on Him in open rebellion and sin. God told a faithful prophet named Hosea, to go and take a prostitute as his wife, and then, to truly love her even though she was going to cheat on him with other men for profit, and even have children with these men, even though he would have to go after her, and buy her back as a cheap, degraded slave (God is not seeing us as His slaves or subjects, but as those He loves as intimately as a Bride). When we fail Him, it is not as though He sees fallen trash in front of Him, but a Beloved Bride, that has broken His heart. Hosea 2:14-16, 19-20.
Do you ever view God this way when you come back to Him after another failure? Zephaniah 3:17. Your God is rejoicing over you, quieting your hurt spirit with His love; He will celebrate your return with loud singing—He will dance in abandonment! Scriptures say that, if you have truly been broken and repentant, God not only runs to you, God not only wants to throw a party, not only wants to sing loudly over you—He wants to dance in rejoicing. When you see that kind of love and reaction from the God of the Universe—over you; how can you ever be burdened over whether He still loves you? Over whether He is wanting to take you back and forgive you again? Over whether He really wants to work with you in His plans?! How could you possibly live one more day in guilt, unworthiness or loneliness knowing this is how He sees you?
Whatever sin or guilt there is keeping you from Him; let it go now. Get it right with Him, now; and run to that kind of acceptance and joy from your Jesus. And this is how He will react!
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