God And Self-Esteem Part 2

Self-esteem has a lot to do with comparison. What or who are we trying to measure up to? The person who lives next door? Our professors or boss? A colleague at work…? The standard we chose will define our success or failure in how we see ourselves. Competition can be a dangerous thing. One of the big problems with defining ourselves by other people is that the standard changes.

"Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;" Is 48:16a

“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;” Is 48:16a

But with God, the standard is always the same. The standard is perfection, but, and this is a HUGE but: God knows we fail miserably and he loves us perfectly, not matter what, always. Christ’s death and resurrection gives us free and open access to the throne room of the Creator!

We have to understand how God sees us. It is crucial! Because of the sacrifice of Jesus and His blood poured out for us, God does not sees us as sinful people. God sees us as redeemed children, chosen and perfectly loved.

In spite of what we may have been told about our worth by people, we are completely accepted by God. As the creation narrative in Genesis tells us, each day of creation ends with the statement, “And God saw that it was good.” That includes humankind. What God makes is good. I am good because of God, not because of what I have done. You are good because God loves you!

How do any of us begin to change the way we think about ourselves? In part 1 we prayed for it.

This time I ask you to declare the truth, out loud! God created everything by speaking it into existence. As people created in the image of God, our speech has power, to tear down and build up. So, I encourage you to read this out loud, every day for at least a week. No need to site the Bible references, just the truths themselves are sufficient.

Take note if any of them tug at you or are hard to say. Those are places to pray about, then declare those all the more the next day. THESE STATEMENTS ARE WHAT GOD SAYS IS TRUE OF YOU! BELIEVE AND ACCEPT! Look them up in context when you have time. Please let me know how it goes. You are in my prayers.

WHO I AM IN CHRIST*

I AM ACCEPTED…

            JN 1:12                I AM GOD’S CHILD

            JN 15:15              I AM CHRIST’S FRIEND

            ROM. 5:1             I HAVE BEEN JUSTIFIED

            1COR. 6:17          I AM UNITED WITH THE LORD (ONE SPIRIT)

            1COR. 19-20       I AM BOUGHT WITH A PRICE; I BELONG TO GOD

            1COR. 12:27        I AM A MEMBER OF CHRIST’S BODY

            EPH. 1:1               I AM A SAINT

            EPH. 1:5               I HAVE BEEN ADOPTED AS GOD’S CHILD

            EPH 2:18             I HAVE ACCESS TO GOD THRU THE HOLY SPIRIT

            COL. 1:14             I HAVE BEEN REDEEMED AND FORGIVEN

            COL. 2:10             I AM COMPLETE IN CHRIST

 

I AM SECURE…

            ROM. 8:12                 I AM FREE FOREVER FROM CONDEMNATION

            ROM. 8:28                 I AM ASSURED ALL WORKS TOGETHER FOR GOOD

            ROM. 8:31-34           I AM FREE FROM ANY CHARGE AGAINST ME

            ROM. 8:35-39           I CANNOT BE SEPARATED FROM THE LOVE OF GOD

            2COR. 1:21-22           I AM ESTABLISHED, ANOINTED, SEALED BY GOD      

            COL 3:3                       I AM HIDDEN WITH CHRIST IN GOD

            PHIL. 1:6                    I AM CONFIDENT THAT THE GOOD WORK GOD HAS

                                                            BEGUN IN ME WILL BE PERFECTED

            PHIL. 3:20                  I AM A CITIZEN OF HEAVEN

            2TIM. 1:7                     I HAVE NOT BEEN GIVEN A SPIRIT OF FEAR, BUT OF

                                                            POWER, LOVE, AND A SOUND MIND

            HEB. 4:16                    I CAN FIND GRACE AND MERCY IN TIME OF NEED

            1JN. 5:18                     I AM BORN OF GOD; THE EVIL ONE CANNOT TOUCH ME                                                

 

I AM SIGNIFICANT…

            MATT. 5:13-14         I AM THE SALT & LIGHT OF THE EARTH

            JN 15:1, 5                   I AM A BRANCH OF THE TRUE VINE, A CHANNEL OF

                                                            HIS LIFE

            John 15:16                 I HAVE BEEN CHOSEN AND APPOINTED TO BEAR FRUIT

            ACTS 1:8                    I AM A PERSONAL WITNESS OF CHRIST’S

            1COR. 3:16                I AM GOD’S TEMPLE

            2COR. 5:17-21          I AM A MINISTER OF RECONCILIATION FOR GOD

            2COR. 6:1                  I AM GOD’S CO-WORKER (1COR.3:9)

            EPH. 2:6                    I AM SEATED WITH CHRIST IN THE HEAVENLY REALM

            EPH. 2:10                  I AM GOD’S WORKMANSHIP

            EPH. 3:12                  I MAY APPROACH GOD WITH FREEDOM AND CONFIDENCE

            PHIL. 4:13                I CAN DO ALL THINGS THRU CHRIST WHO

                                                            STRENGTHENS ME

 

*From Neil T. Anderson, Freedom in Christ Ministries: info@ficm.org; www.ficm.org

 

God And Self-Esteem, Part 1

To state the obvious up front, God does not have a problem with self-esteem! We, however, are another matter…. Because the world is full of imperfect people, we are all treated badly at some point. Depending on several factors such as when and how often we were mistreated, and whether we received love to counteract the effect of it, all help to determine how well or poorly we think of ourselves. That is our self-esteem.

Yes this is blurry. On a good day, this is how most of us see ourselves. "though a glass dimly," as Paul said.

Yes this is blurry. On a good day, this is how most of us see ourselves. “though a glass dimly,” as Paul said.

There are lots of ways to improve our self-esteem. I am a fan of some ways and not of others. For example, when children in school get away with thinking 1+1 =11, or anything besides 2, I am not a fan. There are facts and truth. (I plan to approach these subjects in another post in the future.)

My favorite way to improve self-esteem is to approach it from the perspective of our Creator.  We are all created in the image of God. There are no two people completely alike. The one who made us is so vast and creative that he never runs out of variations of humans. Each of us reflects God to others in unique ways.

This is a better representation of how our Creator sees us.

This is a better representation of how our Creator sees us.

Our problem is that we do not know how valuable that makes us. We do not focus on the beauty, but on the things that are not right. Humans are the only living things made in God’s image. When we read the Bible we learn we are priests and kings! Rev. 5:10 We are on this planet to rule and to reign over the earth as God’s representatives. Think about that for a  moment. You are a priest and a king in God’s eyes! I don’t know about you, but that makes me want to sit up straight, stand a little taller and smile at the world around me.

Just imagine what the world would be like if we all went around believing that and treating each other like priests and royalty!

I do not mean dictators who are over bearing, greedy and abuse authority! I mean people who know they are special and it is their job to help others. Better yet they have the resources to make other people’s lives better. That might mean physical resources, but more often it means honoring, respecting, loving and forgiving.

This all begins at home. In me. In each of us. And I suspect it comes in the opposite order I just listed them.

First we forgive ourselves, specifically. I need to forgive myself for continuing to treat myself and others poorly, because I did not know another way, or I forgot (or perhaps I was intentionally mean, reacting from a wounded place in me.)

Sometimes we need to forgive God. Not because he did anything wrong, but in our twisted minds, we think He did… So we let go and thank God that He knows better.

Then there is the need to forgive others who have wronged us. (Another post for a more in-depth treatment of forgiving.) We let go of the offense and the offender. We know we have forgiven when we can genuinely bless the other.

We begin to grow in loving ourselves and others as we grow in understanding of who God created us to be and how he empowers us to love God and “our neighbors as ourselves.”

Respect an honor are degrees of the same thing. A synonym for respect is esteem. As we begin to understand how much God loves and respects us, we begin to grow the capacity to:

Receive the love God has for us “for God so loved the world….” John 3:16;

Love God back “we love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” Matt 22:37-39.

We will be able to fulfill both commandments better day after day as we give God permission to teach us, heal us and grow us into the people He intended us to become.

Honor is a higher level of respect. Honor is not worship. We reserve worship for the triune God alone. We grow in the process of honoring when we begin to follow the Apostle Paul’s advice: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Phil 2:3 When we understand  every person carries the same weight of glory honor becomes possible. We begin to look for it in every person.

So how’s your self-esteem? If you are like me, there are good days (moments) and not so good. Do you know how your Creator sees you?

Abba, We are wounded people who live in a fallen world. Yet you see us as priests and kings. You created the world and put us in charge. Forgive me Lord, of not believing and remembering the value you have placed in every person, including me. Thank you for forgiving me and loving me no matter what! I pray that truth transforms how I see myself and others. Give me eyes to see me as you see me! Fill me to overflowing so I can experience your love and encourage everyone I come in contact with.  

 

Entering God’s Rest

What does rest look like? I know I have sought it for decades. It is often elusive. But once tasted, really tasted, it creates a desire for more. The author of Hebrews tells us in Chapter 4 that disobedience prevents us from rest and tells us to “strive to enter that rest.” That phrase has always made me scratch my head in wonder.

An orchid living peacefully in the cleft of a tree.

An orchid at rest in the cleft of a tree.

How do we strive to enter the rest? Isn’t striving the opposite of rest? One translation says “make every effort….” That sounds only slightly softer than striving. It all sounds like a lot of work! In our high-tech lives, the work of entering rest has become more of a challenge.  “Be still and know that I am God!” PS 46:10 Being still does not come easily for most of us.

This following poem reminds me of Moses on the mountain and Jesus sleeping in the boat during the raging storm. Worship may open the door to rest, but then we need to enter it, and rest. Try reading it out loud, slowly.

Not in the turmoil of the raging storm,

Not in the earthquake or devouring flame;

But in the hush that could all fears transform,

The still, small whisper to the prophet came.

O soul, keep silence on the mount of God,

Though cares and needs throb around you like a sea;

From prayers, petitions, and desires unshod,

Be still, and hear what God will say to thee.

All Fellowship has interludes of rest,

New strength maturing in each level of power;

The sweetest Alleluias of the blest

Are silent, for the space of half an hour.

O rest, in utter quietude of soul,

Abandon words, leave prayer and praise awhile;

Let your whole being, hushed in His control,

Learn the full meaning of his voice and smile.

Not as an athlete wrestling for a crown,

Not taking heaven by violence of will;

But with your father as a child sit down,

And know the list that follows His “Be still!”

By, Mary Rowles Jarvis (From Streams In The Desert, April 7.)

 

How do you find rest…real rest? Do you “unplug?” Do you remember what it is like to “unplug?” I forget sometimes. I like to walk in nature, pray or sing (I make a joyful noise=}.) But at some point in that process I like to stop and listen. When I do, often the word of God begins to fill my mind with God’s love and promises. When that happens, I hunker down on my Abba’s lap and let those truths wash me clean.

I would genuinely enjoy hearing how you unwind and find rest in the presence of God.

HOPE WANTED…Found Between Palm Sunday… Through Easter

We all want hope! “Hope deferred makes the heart-sick.” I have many friends now facing unprecedented challenges of all kinds! Life saving surgeries, uncertainties of possible and/or definite job changes, babies born with defects.  Some talented people have too many options, some more normal people are stuck in places they don’t want to be. We all need hope!

Majestic palms welcoming and worshiping the King of Kings.

Majestic palms welcoming and worshiping the King of Kings.

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem with throngs waving palm branches and proclaiming his Kingship!

By this Thursday in Holy Week, he is washing the feet of the disciples and Judas leaves the last supper to betray him.

Friday, when you receive this, is the day we commemorate the death of Christ on the cross for our sins. That is good news for us in the long run. But oh how the “mighty” fall…in five days time…or so some thought….

The sun comes up every morning. Jesus rose from the dead once for all!

The sun comes up every morning. Jesus rose from the dead once for all!

From Thursday night of Holy Week until the disciples realize they are in the living presence of the resurrected savior – Jesus, they are full of doubt, fear and confusion. These feelings come at all of us naturally when we face things we do not understand or do not know how to respond to.

But…

“Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.” Psalm 146:5

“The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11

“There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:8

Christ came and died to give us hope. More than hope, He gives us eternal life, and we become children of God. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”— John 1:12

For now, in our every day lives we face death, suffering and disappointments. We face them far more often and longer than the few days the disciples did between the Last supper and the resurrection. Yet we live on the side of the resurrection every day. We have this truth to guide us and we have the Holy Spirit in us to guide and comfort. “ And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,  even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17

Remember the truth:

Christ has risen! Christ has risen indeed! Alleluia!

And this gives us hope! We are never alone. Christ is in us, the hope of glory.

Have you misplaced hope? Remember the promises! Is there one above you want to hang on to?