Kings Valley ChurchYouth Pastor Andy Broad brought a super helpful teaching on forgiveness in our weekend worship gathering. I’m stoked for you as I believe Andy will challenge you to dig in and make the most of your story with Jesus!
When I hear, “It’s easy, just be yourself” I have to laugh. It’s costly to be yourself. To be real in this world demands a grace that is beyond us. You were created to reflect the character of God into your world every day. But like the rest of us you need help. Before we go on, you need to be reminded that you have been “fearfully and wonderfully made”.
Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I had always been part of a church family. That also meant that I had to endure the pressures of religion and especially misguided religious people who put my dad and our family on a pedestal. As a result I learned very young to pretend and present the right image at the right time to keep the crowd happy. Hiding became a lifestyle for me.
By the time I was eighteen I was torn and imprisoned by the lie that I could manage my life by myself. I couldn’t. In the Fall of 1980 I finally surrendered to Jesus with this prayer; “Jesus, Whether you are happy about this or not, you are stuck with me. Because I am not going to let go of you.” What I didn’t see was that He had never let go of me. Thus a journey began. It has been a tough journey of surrender. But, I have always been sure of His presence with me.
Maybe you get my struggle. You know what it is like to feel that you can’t be yourself and follow Jesus. There is hope!
How can you discover “The Real”?
When you embrace faith in Jesus Christ, you receive something the Bible calls “eternal life”. Another way to think of it is life the way God designed it. You become part of the culture of heaven. You still live your ordinary life but your eyes open to a brand new dynamic in the world that Jesus called the “kingdom of heaven”.
Tucked into the package of eternal life is a promise. As you trust God’s agenda in your life you will grow into who you really are. The real you will actually break through the surface and shine for God’s glory.
I want to share a couple of scriptures and personal habits that have helped me break through to more authenticity.
Jesus Christ entered into our world as God in the flesh. If you study his life you will find that he won the war against all that is fake, toxic and dark in this world. He even faced death and came back to life in order to free you and me from the prison of counterfeit, dead existence.
In this letter to the Colossians Paul reminds his friends that their true identity is secure and hidden with Christ. He is with us and we are with Him as we face every day. If you will trust in Him you will know it for yourself.
But don’t miss what Paul said next. You can be confident that when Christ appears for everyone to see, you won’t be revealed as an imposter. Instead, because you have learned to surrender by God’s grace, the “real” you will be known and appreciated because you will shine with His glory.
Remind yourself every day that no matter how things seem, if you put your trust, faith and dependence in Jesus, He is bringing the real amazing you out into the open for all of us to appreciate. In the end the real you will be a testimony to God’s glory.
Make it a regular habit to remind yourself that as a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is guiding you through a process of becoming who you really are. All of the ups and downs of this life are bringing the real you out into the open. The best is always yet to come!
So glad you took the time to read this today. If you have found it helpful, I’d love it if you would leave a comment. Also, please share it with a friend who could use some encouragement in living today with Jesus.
They had joined his revolution. Three years earlier they had first encountered him. They had never met anyone like Jesus. He spoke and lived with authority as if he “owned the place”. And then he demonstrated in countless ways that he actually was in control because God had given him authority to usher in a brand new day for all of creation.
But, now they had arrived at the climax of Jesus’s plan. The next few weeks would prove to be the ultimate test for these followers. Not all of them would make it. But, for those who did, it would be because they learned to trust in the Spirit of God with them.
Do you sometimes wonder what the Holy Spirit means to you? You aren’t alone in that. I want to give you three helpful tips on not missing the Holy Spirit in your everyday life. If you are up for that, lets go!
Can you imagine being one of Jesus’s best friends? It was costly to be his friend but you wouldn’t have traded one moment for all of the gold in the world.
You didn’t really see this coming, but Jesus had begun to talk about what was going to be next for him. “The Son of Man must suffer and even lay down his life”, he had told you. Through many conversations along the road he had explained that he would be taken from you and the other disciples. He hadn’t held back. It was going to get very rough for all of you.
Now the moment had come. Imagine being in the room at the Last Supper as Jesus walked his disciples through this:
“Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and getyou so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”
5 Thomas said, “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road?”
6-7 Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you wouldknow my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”
8 Philip said, “Master, show us the Father; then we’ll be content.”
9-10 “You’ve been with me all this time, Philip, and you still don’t understand? To see me is to see the Father. So how can you ask, ‘Where is the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words thatI speak to you aren’t mere words. I don’t just make them up on my own. The Father who resides in me crafts each word into a divine act.
11-14 “Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doingbut even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.
15-17 “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you! John 14:1-20
God’s bold move was to launch his restart of all creation through Jesus. Once it was launched he took a risk that only God would take. He handed the mission over to human beings like you and me.
How can you make sure you don’t miss the Holy Spirit’s help?
1. Do the works that Jesus did in your ordinary day.
Jesus called us out by saying, “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you”. The Holy Spirit is with you to lead you back into accomplishing Jesus’s mission in the world. One of the best things you can do for yourself each day is to give your plans to God in exchange for what he wants to do. The Holy Spirit has a plan for your day. It will always lead you back to serving the people around you with the love of Jesus. Anything that doesn’t lead us back to the mission of Jesus is not the Holy Spirit. I encourage you to start your day with a simple prayer like this. “Spirit of God I surrender my plans to you. Lead me to accomplish the mission of Jesus in this day so that my world can see that you are real. In Jesus Name, Amen.”
2. Love being a student of Jesus for the rest of your life.
For many reasons we can get fooled into a very limited view of Jesus’s identity. One of my favorite scriptures is found in Hebrews 1:1-3. The Bible teaches us that Jesus actually reveals God to us. We know who God is and what He is like by studying Jesus. Jesus and his life are the most important message we will ever receive from heaven.
And according to John 14:26, Jesus wants us to know that the Holy Spirit is just waiting for us to set our hearts on knowing Jesus. He is an endless supply of support for us in showing and reminding us of what Jesus said and brought into our world.
3. Dig in to the teachings of Jesus in order to give the Holy Spirit the space to speak to you.
Many people will say that they aren’t sure if God ever speaks to them. If that is the way you feel, I challenge you to focus your Bible reading in Matthew, Mark, Luke & John for the next few months and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you. I know you will be surprised by the results in your everyday life.
A powerful wisdom hack for the person who wants to hear from God is found in two letters written by the Apostle Paul to two different churches in his day. His comments to his friends in these churches are very much the same with one twist. The first is found in Ephesians 5. The second is found in Colossians 3. The only difference is that he coaches the Ephesians to be filled with the Spirit while he calls the Colossians to let the words of Christ dwell in them.
A wise principle that has helped me many times is this:
Without the Holy Spirit the words of Christ won’t come alive in you. And without the words of Christ the Holy Spirit has nothing to work with in helping you know his voice. You need both.
Thanks for reading and I hope it helps you live this day with Jesus. Leave me a comment if you have a minute. And if it helped you please share it with someone else.
But, it won’t come easy. In order to possess the life of boldness and adventure you were designed for you will have to fight for it. One of the key battles is over what you truly believe. The good news is that Jesus came to set you free, bring you to life and empower you to overcome toxic, false beliefs. Are you up for it?
Real people who carry the fire of God are always a threat to human power brokers. On that day they confronted Jesus asking him, “What gives you the right to do these things?”. Jesus knew that these leaders were religious and wanted to “save face”. He pressed them to say whether or not this message he carried was from heaven or simply a human agenda.
They couldn’t answer because if they admitted it was from heaven, their hypocrisy would be obvious to everyone. So he told them a story and asked them a probing question that unmasked their toxic belief:
28 “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’29 The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway.30 Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go.
Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.32 For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins. Matt. 21:28-32
Toxic belief is saying you will live according to what Jesus taught and not doing it.
The “chief priests and elders of the people” heard John’s message, didn’t believe or “change their minds”. Even when they witnessed the change in the “sinners” it didn’t budge them. The darkness within them was powerful & deep because they had convinced themselves that God endorsed their shallow self righteous ways.
How can you avoid toxic belief and live authentically?
Two Life Hacks for Authenticity:
1. Remind yourself every day that God has called YOU to make “AWESOME” happen.
Much like the sons in Jesus’s story your Father has come to you and said; “Go to the vineyard and work today.” So let’s camp on that a second.
Since you are God’s masterpiece designed to make “awesome” happen today for his glory, “What are you waiting for”?
2. Change Your Mind from Religion to Revolution
If you are serious about unmasking toxic belief in your own life you need to change the way you think. Following Jesus as a child of God is not about being religious. Jesus didn’t come to start a religion but he DID launch a kingdom revolution. Authentic belief is all about faith in Jesus that results in daily engaging with “the vineyard” of our ordinary lives.
In his book, “With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God”, Skye Jethani wrote, “Fear and control are the basis for all human religions.” @SkyeJethaniClick here to watch a 5 min video for more on this idea. The hope of the world is not found in religion. According to Jesus, the life that God honours is engaging our everyday lives in His name.
Recently I was talking with a friend of mine. She was having a rough time and needed to talk. “I just feel distant from God”, she said. It was a just a quick comment made in the middle of sharing her heart over some confusing dilemmas in her life. When a friend tells you they feel distant from God, it hits a nerve, doesn’t it? You likely know that feeling! Our mind sometimes is our worst enemy.
The Accuser (Satan) loves to intimidate us with doubt-filled questions about our connection with God.
He tried to do the same to Jesus when he said, “If you are the Son of God, then…”. We all need friends to listen when those clouds start to roll in. Much of our emotional health comes from being close to our Creator, our Father in heaven.
It seemed to me that my friend was quickly losing her peace. Something had shifted in her perspective. I wanted to help her get back to feeling confident to face her day. I said, “Maybe you aren’t distant from God. I know you and that your faith is strong that He is with you and He has promised to never leave. I think you feel distant from yourself. It’s like you aren’t really sure how to understand this moment and how to move forward as the real you.”
In a beautiful way, from that point on in our conversation it was like the sun broke in. Warmth and clarity seemed to move in on her and she left with a smile. Later she thanked me for the reminder and was feeling so much more hopeful and positive about where she was going in her life.
How are YOU feeling about today?
There is hope for this moment right now. In fact Jesus was very clear that today… THIS day demands your focus. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matt 6:34
You don’t need to go on feeling distant from God. But, you may need to learn to see your life from a different perspective. One of my favourite motivational quotes by the Apostle Paul is “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” As a Jesus follower you have received a calling and it starts with truly being yourself as God’s son or daughter.
There is a devastating lie in our culture that says you can’t truly be yourself and follow Jesus. Those who believe that deception have confused being religious for the freedom of being a child of God by faith in His Son. The reality is you will never discover more about yourself than when you embrace life in God’s family.
John Mark Comer writes in his book “Loveology” that as a Christian you live “in the process of becoming who you really are.” In other words with every step forward you take the Holy Spirit is helping you grow into the real you.
Don’t kid yourself however. Even though it is truly amazing to discover the true you that God designed some days it will still demand all you have. But it is GOOD.
I love this section from “The Message” by Eugene Peterson talking about Jesus. Peterson refers to him as “The Life-Light”:
The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life he brings into Light. He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten. John 1:9-13
What a powerful way to describe what it means to know and love Jesus. You get to be your true self, your “child-of-God” self.
Here are some powerful life hacks for becoming the real you:
Becoming the real YOU:
1. Receive your adoption into God’s family
When you aren’t sure of who you really are you will often feel stuck. One of the most important things for you to know is that God has not and will not abandon you. The Bible is clear that God’s message to you is that He is offering to adopt you into his family. You receive that offer by praying a simple prayer. You can pray something like this right now; “God I believe Jesus did everything that was needed for me to become your child forever. By faith I receive my place in your family. I don’t take credit for this myself. Jesus deserves all the credit for my adoption today. Thank you for saving me.” – Amen.
2. Engage with God’s mission for the world
When the Bible talks about God “saving” us it includes rescuing us from a meaningless life of serving ourselves and our desires. Following Jesus is the craziest adventure around. Since you are already wired to do good things and make a difference in the world, it makes sense that the Apostle Paul would write the following in “Ephesians”: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10
Remind yourself often that the good things you do for others to show them Jesus’s love aren’t about you gaining a place in God’s family. You do good works to restore things back to what they should be as part of God’s plan for all creation. In other words, you aren’t trying to prove that you are worth something. Instead you are showing how awesome it is to be at peace with God and to be partnering with him and his good plan.
3. Welcome the chance to stretch and grow
In his book, “Failing Forward” John Maxwell wrote, “Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.”
God’s goal for you is to become more of who you really are. Don’t be intimidated by the challenges of this day.
There is a story I have been pulled back into repeatedly in my life. It’s a story about a woman who committed a beautifully inappropriate act because she loved Jesus too much. At least that was the opinion of everyone who was there that day. Everyone except Jesus.
Do you ever wonder what it looks like to “love” God? You may have heard that the most important call or command in all of life is to love God and to love your neighbour as yourself. But, giving love or showing love can be vague and confusing sometimes. How can you know when your heart is in the right place in your claim to be someone who loves Jesus?
This woman who stirred up anger from the haters & warm acceptance from Jesus for her awkward act is a great example of how it’s done!
Here is her story:
Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume?It could have been sold for more than a year’s wagesand the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.The poor you will always have with you,and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them.They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over. Mark 14:1-11
There is something about her story that pulls me in. Her love for Jesus created a path and an open door into His affection. (click to tweet) She did a beautiful thing “to” Jesus. When you know that what you are doing means something wonderful to Jesus, it changes you. (click to tweet)
On that day she packed up her most valuable possession (worth a year’s salary) and was determined to find Jesus. And find him she did! Making a scene, she broke open this alabaster (clay like) jar of costly perfume made of burial spices and proceeded to anoint Jesus with it… the WHOLE jar! In one amazing provoking act she captured a picture of the sacrifice Jesus would make within the next week. His blood would be poured out for them and all of us. Jesus would explain that to his disciples as they gathered for the passover feast with bread and wine.
But she also painted a powerful picture of what it looks like to follow Jesus and love him in our everyday lives. In the teachings of the Bible we learn that as Christians we carry in us the treasure of Christ’s presence. Our bodies are referred to as jars of clay. We are fragile and easily broken. But we don’t need to be discouraged or to beat ourselves up over our condition. It is actually for the best.
As very human, well meaning but broken people we are filled and surrounded by the presence of God through faith in Jesus. This is so that the aroma we give off to our world is awesome (surpassingly great) and all can see that it comes from God not from us.
Back to our story… Our “inappropriate” hero who couldn’t help herself in love received the smile and deep affection of Jesus for her “over the top” sacrifice. He defended her, put the rest of the dinner party in their place and then announced the most incredible thing.
Jesus leaked it to the press… actually held a “press conference” and announced that wherever His story was told she would be spoken of. Her story was now officially part of His. The same gift Jesus gratefully received was ridiculed by the religious crowd when they asked, “Why this ‘waste’ of perfume?”
If you are stirred up with desire to love Jesus more deeply in radical ways, you are in great company! Church at it’s best is a passionate community who “waste” their most valuable treasure on Jesus. (click to tweet)
Why did this unnamed woman waste her valuable perfume on Jesus instead of doing something “practical” with it? Because doing something beautiful to Jesus was worth everything.
1. Start each day by asking God to fill you with His love.
You can start each day with this powerfully simple prayer based on John 17:26: “O Father please do a work of the Holy Spirit in my life so that I will love Jesus with the love you have for him. Thank you that you are in me and I am in your family.” – Amen
2. Pour yourself out in service as a gift back to God.
Look for opportunities in your day to serve ALL people (including difficult people) with the love of Jesus. In this way you will be pouring yourself out in love for God. 1 John 3:16 says it so well, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Sacrificially loving others in Jesus Name reaches the heart of God! (click to tweet)
3. Trust God with your name & your honour.
If others don’t understand and the haters start hating, don’t be surprised. But be wise and don’t allow yourself to get bitter or resentful so that you lash back. Instead let it teach you to trust God to defend your honour. Just like Jesus did in the case of our hero on her day he will include you in His story today and forever.
Live THIS day!
If this has been helpful to you, please share it with someone else who could use the encouragement. Also, I would love to have you leave a comment below. Always love hearing from you.
As a follower of Jesus, you know you have been called to be a light in the world. You may also know that God has invited you to see the world with compassionate eyes. To dig deeper into why we need to “see” our world the way Jesus did, check out “Don’t miss the Spirit’s strategic move!“.
Wrestle with “how” to see the world the way Jesus did?
When he looked at the crowds in his day, his streets, his village, his workplace, etc… He had compassion on them and he longed to see them come alive to God’s new creation and to find their purpose in his mission.
Part of the adventure of following Jesus is…
developing an authentic love for the people we do life with every day.
Sometimes that is easier said than done! There is no way any of us are just going to magically learn to see our world the way God does without being intentional about it.
How can you pay better attention to God’s leadership in your everyday life? The following 5 habits have been huge for me. But first I want to say:
You are here for a reason and God intends for you to make a difference for his kingdom here and now!
Habits you can start today:
1. Invite God into each day
In the morning invite God into the flow and events of your day. click to tweet Tell him that it is ok with you if he rearranges or interrupts some things if necessary. It has been said that most of our authentic ministry happens in the middle of interruptions. So, don’t be surprised and always be flexible. The blessing will be worth it!
2. Ask God to involve you in what He is doing to reach people
Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit would continue to testify to the world about him and that we as His followers should do the same. It is powerful to remind yourself that God is going ahead of you and tirelessly working all around you to reach people in the transforming name of Jesus. Your part in this is to make yourself available. You can pray a simple daily prayer like this:
“Lord, I know you are working hard to reach people all around me. I would love to be involved however you want me to help. This is not about doing things my way. Involve me in reaching people the way you choose.” – Amen
3. Expect that God is attracting people around you to His family
God’s desire is not only to make people aware of His presence in the world. He actually wants every person to embrace faith in Jesus and to become a son or daughter in his family. Remind yourself daily that His unconditional love is compelling every person you encounter in your day.
4. Remember the 2:1 ratio
Choosing to take the time to really “see” people in your world is a powerful way to pay more attention to God’s leadership. The kind of seeing that picks up on what God is doing to reach people includes listening as well. click to tweet Good listening includes seeking to really understand and a willingness to engage in what others want to talk about more than pressing forward on the point you want to make. The 2:1 ratio is so helpful in remembering God’s heart for people. You have two eyes, two ears but only one mouth. Watch and listen twice as much as you speak. It will surprise you how much more aware you will become.
5. Pray onsite with insight
As Christians we learn to pray in every place on all occasions. But remember, prayer is not always spoken aloud. Many prayers are quiet or even silent. As you go through your day, develop the habit of silently or quietly praying for those you notice around you. If you keep a journal you can even write your prayers for them. Praying that God would bless them and that His will would be done in their lives is powerful and effective. This will also have a restoring effect on your love for people who show up in your everyday places.
I’m praying that you grow in your ability to watch for God’s leadership in your day. If this has been an encouragement to you please take a minute to leave a comment. It means a lot!
Live THIS day!
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