As the New Year approaches scores of people become reflective. They also begin to hope to reinvent their selves and obtain new goals. Obviously, using January 1 as their launch date to their new selves and different paths than the ones they have been on. They want change, but until they set their priorities in order, it is not going to happen. Unless they focus whole-heartedly on God, they will never live to their full potential. How can people reinvent their selves when they do not know who they really are to begin with? If they manage to reinvent their selves, will they like who they become? Will they be content? If they change directions, will they be pleased with their destination? What does new and different mean to you?
Your worship will determine what type of future you will have. In other words, if you whole-heartedly worship God, your future is already bright. Everyone has to decide whom or what he or she will worship. They have to decide who is God and who is not. You have to seriously consider Who God is before you make any headway. If you make it about you, you might as well plan to be in the same position year after year. You will not change because you cannot change yourself. You might change jobs; dress differently; get a better education; move to a new location and so on. You might actually “better yourself;” but at the core, who gets the glory for it? In some instances, “better” just reinforces self-worship. Accomplishments become idols. No matter how much others may congratulate you, it will never be enough. Until God is your God, you will never be content, nor will you know true peace and joy. When people worship creation, which includes their selves, darkness fills their heart (see Romans 1:18-25). They become the very opposite of what they hoped. Obviously, their eternal destination will be very different from what they imagined.
A major reason people do not fulfill their true calling is they do not know who they are in Christ Jesus. They do not know their identity and do not feel worthy of the calling. Unworthiness is a stumblingblock for people to overcome in order to fulfill their destiny. Therefore, to feel worthy, you have to know Who is worthy. When you stay centered on Jesus Christ, as being the One Who is worthy, you will finally believe you are as well. Why? Because you will realize that in Christ Jesus, His righteousness is your righteousness (see 2Corinthians 5:21). Since we are saved by grace through faith alone, we cannot go about establishing our own righteousness (see Romans 10:1-4; Ephesians 2:8-10). Otherwise, we vacate grace and enter back into dead works (see Galatians 3:1-5:6). We cannot make ourselves better; He does that (see Philippians 1:6). It takes all the work out of it, which means we can be free to be who we truly are. As well-loved children, we can enjoy the relationship with our Daddy (Abba, Father). We can now do things for Him by doing things with Him. Instead of serving ourselves and being miserable human beings, we serve Him by serving others well and find great joy. It begins and ends with Jesus, as He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (see Hebrews 12:1-2).
Embracing the perfect will of God as our own is a step in the right direction for our life. The starting point is surrendering to Him. Sometimes, we think we know what God’s will is for our lives and pursue it, only find it was ours all along. Our desires can override clarity if we are not willing to receive what God has in mind. Even if we desire the right things, the way we obtain them must align with His will. In other words, we cannot choose our path and hope to arrive at the correct destination. Neither can we decide when we are supposed to obtain our vision and hope to steward it well. Direction and timing has to remain in the Lord’s hand for things to come out right. It is a good idea to neither rush nor try to procrastinate our destiny.
It is important to be content wherever you may find yourself. That does not mean complacency; it means squeezing everything out of where you are in the moment. God is doing something where we are now and it prepares us for our future. He is ever present, unchanging, unwavering and in our future at the same time. He holds the ending from the beginning, and He wants us to trust Him with our future now. If you will not enjoy the present, how do you know you will enjoy the future? If you do not love or like yourself now, how do you know if you will in the future? Granted, our present circumstance can be difficult; nevertheless, joy, peace and contentment are available in the Holy Spirit through Christ Who gives us strength (see Romans 14:17; Galatians 5:22-23; Philippians 4:13).
Part of becoming “the new you” is realizing that you are new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (KJV). Secondly, being honest with God about where you are will break down the barriers to being who your are supposed to be. You cannot pretend something that should not be in your life does not exist, when it does. You cannot simply ignore something and hope it will go away. If you get real with God, He will be real in your life. When we confess to Him what is there, we free God up to cleanse us (see 1John 1:9). Not only that, He empowers us to change the way we think in order to stay free. You have to change your mind about your self in order to be free to be who you are supposed be. Then, you will also be free to do what you are called to do. And we find that freedom in Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, be the new you and you will see new things happen in your life.
Some people dwell so much on their past that they miss the present and risk missing their future. They remind themselves that they not perfect to the point of believing they are worthless and even unwanted. Fine, nobody is perfect, but God is.
Maybe you did not live a perfect life. Perhaps, you weren’t the perfect son or daughter. You were not the perfect husband or wife, dad or mom. You may have failed miserably as a friend. How big a list do you want to create and live up to? Fine, you were not perfect; but God is.
How determined are you to stay where you are at? Is your imperfection a point of pride for you? Does your past really define who you are today? More importantly, do you want it to define who you are? Fine, your thinking has not been perfect; but His thoughts are.
How perfect do you believe God is? Do you believe the Father gave the Perfect Gift when He sent Jesus to die for your sins? Do you believe Jesus gave the Perfect Sacrifice that completely washes you from sin and makes you new? Do you believe that He Who is perfect can bring you into perfection? Fine, perhaps you have not believed perfectly; but His faith is perfect.
Even though many “celebrate” Christmas, they lose sight of why Jesus came the first time. They forget He is no longer in the manger and no longer hanging on the Cross. The Father gave us the Perfect Gift, and His Gift enables us to make our life a gift unto Him. His Resurrection declared that Jesus is the Son of God and He is more than able to bring you into perfection (see Romans 1:4). Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (KJV). Fine, you cannot make yourself perfect; but He can.
Is it possible that if you change your mind about God, you will be able to change your mind about yourself? Before grace came, humanity could never be brought into perfection. That means without Jesus you will never be perfect. The imperfect cannot make himself or herself perfect. Only the Perfect One can do that. Our perfection is found in Christ Jesus. So, why beat yourself up for not being perfect and always failing to make yourself so? Fine, you have been perfect at failure, but Jesus can bring you into perfect success.
During Christmas, we frequently quote God’s heavenly host, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14, KJV). Until you enter into His rest, you will never know perfect peace. Until you stop striving, the Lord will be limited in your life. Surrender to Him and you will be able to receive His perfect will. Life on earth may not be perfect; in fact, it may even be filled with trouble. We are not home yet, but when we come home, life will be perfect!
Who is your focal point? Often and with the best intensions, people say that when you make a decision to do exploits for God, the devil paints a target on your back. There can be such an emphasis on the Satan that people lose sight of the power of God and the truth of the Gospel. It is easy to get lost in the idea that we should be confronting the devil while losing sight of the True Mission that lays before every believer: make disciples of nations. Jesus said, “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20, KJV). Who has more power and authority, Jesus or the enemy? Our focus should be on Jesus, and not Satan.
Without realizing it, some believers give far too much attention to the enemy of our souls. They feel that unless he knows their name, they are not doing anything for God. Whose Name are we supposed to lift up, Jesus or ours? Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33,KJV). He also said that the servant is not above the Master, if the world hates you, it is because it hated Him first (see John 15:18-25). We do not have to try to get the devil’s attention nor seek to be hated by the world. The enemy seeks to attack Jesus, not us. Jesus is the Focal Point; therefore, he comes against Jesus by coming against His Church. The devil is more concerned about the Name of Jesus than our names. He knows who the believers are because they are in Christ Jesus, and not because of our works. If we are His, His works will manifest through us and He will get all the glory (see Ephesians 2:10).
We do not have to seek persecution; it will find us. Some say or do things to bring it on themselves in order to be validated. They are looking for proof that they belong to Jesus and their works are good. There is a big difference between being persecuted for righteousness’ sake and asking for it. Even jerks have detractors. That does not make them disciples of Christ. If your words are not spoken in truth and love, people may very well reject you. They may come against you; but it is not because of righteousness’ sake. It is because you are being a jerk, dressed up in religious clothing. Jesus said they would know us by our love for one another (see John 13:35).
By overemphasizing the devil, it would be easy to become timid in relation to serving the Lord. People teach fear to others by “warning” them about attacks from the devil because of doing things for God. Secondly, it detracts from worshipping God. How often have you heard others say, “Well the devil is attacking me?” Before you know it, it’s “the devil this” or “the devil that.” Where is God in all of this? They just gave the devil the attention he craves. In Christ Jesus, we have power and authority over him. The Lord stripped Satan of his authority; therefore, any power he has in your life is what you give him. If you walk in the Light, darkness has to flee. James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (KJV). In this verse, who does the fleeing? If you are in the palm of God’s hand, what is the devil doing there?
Final question, where in Scripture do we find Jesus or any of the Apostles speak to Satan, while they prayed to the Father. If Jesus did not stop and yell at the devil while talking with the Father, why then, would we? We do not shout at the darkness when we walk into a dark room; we turn the light on. The way we come against the enemy is by praying for someone. We speak words of Light, and the forces of darkness will vacate the area. All darkness is, is the absence of Light. Walk in the Light as Jesus is Light, and darkness will have no place in your life.
Why do some people show great respect for others, while treating themselves with contempt? Of course, there are those who despise other people as well as themselves. It goes hand in hand with the struggle to love oneself. They simply have difficulty with self-respect. Ironically, they want others to respect them; but when they fail to respect themselves, others tend to do disrespect them as well. Unfortunately, some desire others’ respect, so they may grant themselves permission to value themselves. It is a vicious cycle. Whether it is love, respect or worth, the source of value makes all the difference in the world. It really begins with a person’s belief system. What people believe to be true will influence their point of view. What they believe about God, people and the world around them will affect the way they interact with them. Likewise, the way people view their selves will determine the level of self-respect they will have.
What is your world-view? How do you see God, others and yourself? Here is the bigger question, what do you believe about the way God thinks about you? Okay self-despisers, do you think it makes God happy when you disrespect yourselves? Has it occurred to you that if He created you, then redeemed you with the Precious Blood of Jesus, He values you? If you are His son or daughter, do you think the Father would want others to treat you well? If you answered yes, why then, would you not treat yourself the same way?
Respecting ourselves does not mean we demand respect from others. That kind of demand has an opposite affect on people. If anything, it causes them to despise those who demand it. It is contrary to the nature of God. Meekness is part of the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23). It is a very strong character trait to embrace; yet, some mistake it for weakness. In essence, it is gentleness or restrained strength. It does not insist on having its own way, just as love does not insist on its own way. When you respect yourself in a godly fashion, people will respect you. That does not necessarily mean they will love you. With self-respect comes dignity. Pride in your self is the counterfeit of true nobility. Godly dignity is the result of being a child of the Most High. Because Jesus made us kings and priests, we are nobility (see Revelation 1:5-6). When we walk as Jesus walked, Who is the King of kings, we will serve people well. That is dignity in motion. When Jesus walked the earth, He did not demand people respect Him, even though He could have by all rights. In fact, even today, He does not insist on it. Although, the time will come when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess He is Lord (see Philippians 2:10-11).
Perhaps you blew it somewhere in life and feel unworthy. That is a forgiveness issue. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (KJV). If God forgave you, then forgive yourself. Remember that we are righteous in Christ Jesus, so you do not have the right to declare yourself unworthy (see 2Corinthians 5:21). Some need to rid themselves of self-pity and get on with life.
Respecting yourself means treating yourself well. It means managing your self in a good way because you are bought with a price and you are not your own. You belong to God (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Why not take care of yourself in the way the Father desires? It is time to stop degrading and neglecting yourself. Stop sabotaging yourself by putting yourself in positions where you get hurt. Jesus is worthy of all of us putting away the destructive habits we may have developed over the years. He paid the price for you to have dignity. Respect yourself, for God’s sake!