Archive for the ‘From Deception to Redemption’ Category

You Are Not Damaged Goods

September 3, 2010

The Truth:

I am loved and accepted.

I am fully redeemed.

I possess infinite worth.

God’s Word:

He hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine… Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.  Isaiah 43:1, 4 (NIV)

You are my servant; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.  Isaiah 41:9-10 (NIV)

The Lie:

I Have No Value.

The Deception:

As A Result My Choices, Decisions, and Circumstances,

I’m Damaged Goods, Worthless, and Disposable

Today’s Reading:

John 4:1-30

Within every human heart is a longing for love, acceptance, significance and value. Tragically, humanity’s fall into sin not only separated us from God, but also introduced evil into our lives. Like Adam and Eve, our attempts to satisfy our desires independently from God, leave us feeling damaged, empty, unloved, and hopeless.

The Samaritan woman’s pursuit for love left her experiencing all these emotions. Her culture and her choices set her up for rejection. Samaritans were dismissed by the Jews and believed to have no value. They considered any vessel handled by a Samaritan unclean and defiled. With a string of five husbands, plus the current lover, this woman’s domestic arrangement was not only culturally unacceptable but unthinkable in the first century. Even the Samaritans discarded her worth and shunned her life-style.

Like the couple in the Garden, her sin sent her into hiding. During the heat of the day, while others found a protective spot away from the open sun, this social outcast emerges to fill her water jar away from the disapproving glances and judgmental stares of others. Her physical body had a better chance of surviving the scorching sun than her heart had in enduring further emotional rejection.

We’ve all made choices we’ve regretted, spoke words we’re unable to take back. The longing for love, and the unloving actions of others and ourselves, make it natural for us to want to hide away from society and from God. Yet, our emotions expose us. There’s no hiding away from the guilt, regret, and our shameful past.

Instead of allowing us to hide away, Christ approaches us. Our sin, not our strong moral character caused Him to come to earth. Like the Samaritan woman, he shares his complete knowledge of our sin thereby inviting us to come out of hiding and into facing our empty pursuit that led us into sin. Christ then invites us to find our acceptance in Him, to embrace the unconditional love from the genuine source, to discover our worth from the one who created us, and to live fully free in his acceptance.  

An encounter with Christ brings more than forgiveness of a sordid past, it births a life impacting discovery of one’s untarnished value and worth before Christ. The result of this kind of love ignites us with boldness and confidence. This woman eagerly returned to the community that shunned her and invited them to come, see, hear, and meet the Promised Messiah. Her acceptance of Christ’s love and forgiveness and the discovery of her identity and purpose in Him, transformed her and sent her out to invite others to discover The Messiah. Within two days, these new converts experienced a deepened discovery of Christ and knowledge of God’s Word that transformed their lives.

Turn today to Christ and turn away from the rejection of others and your own self-rejection. In doing so embrace His acceptance and receive His empowering love.

Personal Prayer

Father, I’m tired of my empty pursuits for love, acceptance, and approval through others. Help me to turn away from false sources and to turn to you. Help me to live in the awareness that your death at Calvary is greater than my past and powerful enough to enable me from this day forth to live a life that glorifies you.

Reflection Questions

How does Christ’s acceptance and redemption help you overcome feelings of guilt, shame, condemnation?

Do you have thoughts of the past or areas of regret that make it challenging to accept Christ’s love and acceptance?

Thoughts to Ponder

Your life has been redeemed.  You may not be walking it out, embracing it, believing it, transformed by it’s truth, nonetheless, you are accepted and have been redeemed.

Until we accept and embrace God’s love, we will not be changed by it.

 Quotes to Consider

“What is notoriously missing from the external, mechanized concept of salvation is self-acceptance, an experience that is internally personalized and rooted in the acceptance of Jesus Christ. It bids good riddance to unhealthy guilt, shame, remorse, and self-hatred. Anything less-self-rejection in any for-is a manifest sign of a lack of trust in the total sufficiency of Jesus’ saving work. He has set me from the fear of the Father and dislike of myself, or has he not?…Unbounded trust in the merciful love of the redeeming God deals a mortal blow to skepticism, cynicism, self-condemnation, and despair.”

Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning pf. 7-9

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I’m Trapped in a Bad Situation

August 20, 2010

The Truth:

 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 4:7

And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14 (ESV)

The Lie:

Since I have no value, my life has no significance, power, or purpose

The Deception:

I’m trapped in a bad situation (marriage, job, family…)

 Today’s Reading:

 The Book of Esther

Many Christians along with non-Christians have embraced faulty perceptions of the “ideal Christian life.”  This dangerous error creates expectations that, when unmet, leave us disillusioned with life and with God. Queen Esther’s life shows us that living smack dab in the center of God’s will may at times appear more gruesome than glamorous. I absolutely love the way Esther’s life fractures the fairy tale façade that once Jesus is embraced, life skips happily down the Christian yellow brick road.

The life of Esther, an orphaned Jewish girl raised by her Jewish uncle, could direct many women to demand refunds from the products purchased at cosmetic counters. Beauty may have appeared more of a curse than a benefit for this young teen whose pretty face herded her and another 126 young teens in into King Ahasuerus’ corral, or harem. Scripture says that Esther “was taken” meaning no volunteer sign-up sheet was used in the selection process. Esther’s new life would be lived out in a far from a happy home environment.

Whether you believe Esther to be the lucky or unlucky pick as queen, she finds herself married to a king who commentator Frederick Bush says he ruled with “the pride and pomposity of buffoons.” That’s not a desirable character trait for any marriage partner, political leaded, family member, or employer.

To those fighting not to despise their spouse, work or family situation, or the political condition of your government, Esther’s story offers us hope. Esther’s life shows us God is at work in the ugliest of situations and able to develop godly character in us despite our less than ideal circumstances.

Esther’s life reminds me not to assume God is negligent, absent, or unloving when life is unjust, circumstances disappointing, and when my desired outcomes are unattainable. Like Esther, I’m discovering God hasn’t abandoned me, even when life is a daily struggle.

Esther invites me to stop fixating on my desired change of circumstances and people and to instead look inwardly at my need to change. When Esther looked beyond the pain of her life to discover a purpose bigger than her own happiness, comfort, and security, her eyes were open to see God’s bigger need, saving a nation. Esther’s words, “If I perish, I perish,” convey the heart of a young woman willing to release her desires to upgrade for God’s. This decision allowed Esther to receive God’s transforming power to conquer fear, speak boldly regardless of the cost, and become an agent of change for God’s kingdom.

God wants to do the same thing in our life as He did in Esther’s. He wants to transform us through our difficulties while accomplishing His plans through our lives. This doesn’t mean we are to resign ourselves to an empty life. It does mean seeing our lives as a platform for God to work. Viewing our lives in this way allows us to offer our lives to God as they are, not as we think they should be. When we realize He redeems our lives from the pit, and that He doesn’t need to clean up others or alter circumstances before He cleans us up, the change process can begin.

Personal Prayer

Father, I’m thankful that you are not lost in the ideal circumstances that have escaped my grasp, but you are at work in the challenges of my real life.  Help me to surrender my desires for the life I want for your greater plans for my life. I ask you to work in the midst of my challenges transforming me into your likeness.

 

For Discussion and Reflection

Share your thoughts and comments on the following comments:

Some would say when Esther addressed the king her life was in jeopardy (approached a possible death sentence), others say at that moment she was more alive than ever before.

Our problem as believers is really not our circumstances. Our problem is our perspective on our circumstances.

Thought to Ponder

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies within us while we live.

 

Quotes to Consider

 “The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”

Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life, pg 17

From Deception to Redemption (Introduction)

August 18, 2010

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

It’s easy to read about Eve’s deception by the serpent in the Garden of Eden while failing to observe the deceptive thoughts that come to our minds daily. Come learn to recognize the presence of the slippery snake through uncovering and discovering the subtle lies that come as thoughts in our minds. Once those thoughts are accepted and believed, seeds of discouragement, despair, and hopelessness take root in our hearts.

Join me for the next weeks as we examine the deceptive lies we believe about God, ourselves, others, and our circumstances. Allow God’s Word to expose the deception, empower you to resist faulty thinking, and replace deception with God’s truth.