So You Have a Past

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message:

The New Testament begins with the book of Matthew and showcases more drama than a Hallmark movie. The book starts off with a genealogy trail that leads from Abraham to the birth of Jesus. This list of names might make you yawn, but it’s actually really important – and even exciting. (Yes. You read that right!) It’s fascinating because it gives evidence to a family line that shows Jesus was a descendent of both Abraham and King David, thus fulfilling what the Old Testament predicted about the lineage of the Messiah.

Scandal steps onto the page in verse three of Matthew chapter one when a woman’s name shows up. (Traditionally, only the names of men appeared in these family lineages.) But this wasn’t just any woman, it’s one from the shady side of the family tree … Tamar. She had a past, and any Jewish scholar worth their salt would know about it. She was used and abused by men that should’ve loved, protected, and provided for her. Once scorned, she schemed for revenge and ended up having twins to her father-in-law. One of the twins, Perez, is an ancestor to King David.

As the list goes on we see a few more eyebrow-raising names…

Rahab’s name is listed. Remember her? She was the prostitute who “turned good” when she helped Joshua and the Israelites capture Jericho. Bathsheba’s on the list too, but they don’t even mention her by name. She’s recorded this way, “David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife.” (Matthew 1:6) Nice. Archived as the woman who had an affair with King David while she was married to a soldier named Uriah.

All three of these women were known, but not necessarily for cleaned up good things. Seeing these women listed among the relatives of Jesus seems very… messy. It seems to me that historians would want to hide those names, not put them out there for everyone to see! But that’s not God’s way.

He doesn’t sweep things under the rug and pretend they aren’t there.

And strangely enough, I’m encouraged by the presence of these women in the lineage of Jesus.

Why?

Because they are powerful displays of His grace.

They are proof that God does not require perfection from us in order for His will to be done through us. The apostle Paul summed it up nicely in his second letter to the church of Corinth. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

So you have a past. So did Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba. I do too. Who doesn’t?

So you have a few people in your family with rusty reputations. So do I. So did Jesus.

So you have some shame or pain regarding things that were done to you… things that were or are beyond your control. You’re not alone.

God’s mercy reaches beyond the muck and mire of our pasts to recreate us in the grace and love of Jesus. He lifts fallen heads, purifies rebellious hearts, and places slippery feet on solid ground. Nothing about having a “past” or “complicated associations” can keep you from walking out the freedom and hope of Jesus.

God uses the broken to showcase His beauty.

Believe it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

You’re More Than a Cleaned-Up Version of Your Old Self

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

Most Christians see their conversion as a cleaned-up version of their old self, rather than as a brand new creation who did not exist before. The Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old is gone, not just spiffied up.

After high school I went to college where I met and married an awesome Christian man whom I met at a friend’s Bible study. I saw him sitting on the floor with his back against the wall and his red flannel shirt rolled up his masculine arms. He had a worn Bible in his lap and an easy smile on his face. Before the year was up, I became his wife. About four years later, I became a mom.

Life was good, except for this termite-like gnawing in my gut that I just didn’t quite measure up to all the other church moms with their smiling faces. I went to Bible studies and even taught a few. However, I walked around with the fear that one day I would be found out—that one day folks would figure out that I wasn’t all that I was cracked up to be. I lived under an undefined self-imposed standard of approval.

Childhood echoes of “you’re so ugly” and “what’s wrong with you?” and “you did a terrible job” left me feeling congenitally flawed. I sat in Bible study groups like someone in a hospital waiting room: hoping for the best but expecting the worst. My greatest fear was that I’d be no closer to being free of the insecurity than I was before the study began.

When I was in my mid-thirties, I sat under the teaching of an older woman in my church, Mary Marshal Young. She opened my eyes to the truths in Scripture about who I was, what I had, and where I was (my position) as a child of God. I had read those verses scattered throughout Scripture before, but when she encouraged me to cluster them altogether into one list, God began a new work in my heart.

  • You are a saint.
  • You are chosen and dearly loved.
  • You are holy.

These truths were right there on the pages of my Bible in black and white and a few in red. I knew it was the infallible Word of God, but I felt rather squeamish hearing them, reading them, believing them.

  • They didn’t feel right.
  • They didn’t sound right.
  • They made me downright uncomfortable.

At the same time I was studying about my true identity, the devil taunted me with lies. Who do you think you are? A saint? Are you kidding? This stuff might be true for some people, but it certainly is not true about you.

One day God asked me an important question—one that He is asking you right now. Who are you going to believe?

That’s what I’m asking you today. Who are you going to believe?

When I decided to believe God…that changed everything. I believe it will do the same for you.

 

Seeing Yourself as God Sees You

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Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

For many years after I became a Christian, I operated under a false sense of who I really was. I had no idea the change that occurred in me the moment I accepted Christ. I did not see myself as God saw me. I had a grid system or a sieve of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy over my mind. When I processed information about my world and about myself, it had to first filter through that negative grid system.

If someone canceled a lunch date, I interpreted that as “she doesn’t like me.” If I didn’t get invited to an event, I interpreted that as “I’m not worthy.” If my husband didn’t give me enough attention, I interpreted that as “he doesn’t really care about me.” If someone asked me to take on a project, I immediately thought, “I’m not capable.” My interpretation of events and other’s actions were distorted by the devil’s lies.

It was not until my thirties that I began to realize that how God saw me and how I saw myself were very different. Like a hungry child, I began to research and write down verses about who I really was in Christ–my true identity as a child of God. I learned that I was a child of God (John 1:12), chosen and dearly loved (John 15:16), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), a joint heir with Jesus (Romans 8:14), a saint (Ephesians 1:1), righteous and holy (Ephesians 4:24), dearly loved (Colossians 3:12), completely forgiven (1 John 1:9), totally free (John 8:36), and uniquely designed (Psalm 139:14).

I also learned that it was Satan who held that negative grid system in place, and it was up to me to demolish his stronghold by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I came to a crossroads in my spiritual journey. I could continue believing the lies or I could begin believing the truth. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). I decided to believe the truth. It was difficult and didn’t feel comfortable at first. Like the lame man who regained the movement of his legs, or the blind man who received his sight, I had to adjust to my new belief system.

Oh my friend, God has so much planned for you to do and to be, but if you are operating with a false sense of who you really are, you may be paralyzed.

On Jesus’ first day of public ministry, He walked down to the river and was baptized by His cousin John. As Jesus came out of the water, a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). God says the same thing to you…and to me.

“You are my child…whom I love…with you I am well pleased.”

This devotion is very personal for me. I’ve told you some of my deepest struggles. But I want you to examine your own thought life. Do you believe lies about yourself or do you believe the truth?

Here’s my challenge to you at the start of this New Year: Start believing that you are who God says you are. That truth will set you free!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

A Brand New Me

 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

This past week, I have been blessed.  Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful every day but this week was the dawning of a NEW me.  I know, you have heard it before right?  But each transforming step helps me to see the NEW me.

I have been reading the book The Secret.  This book opened my eyes to so many things.  I had been praying to God for guidance.  This book made me look at the way that I was thinking and saying things that kept me stuck.  Stuck in the place that I didn’t want to be in my business.  Stuck in a place I didn’t like in my life.  And with the flick of switch, actually the reading of each page, the light came on.  Guidance came in the form of “The Secret”.

It not only helped my business and my personal life but it is also helping me in my walk with God.  Trusting and believing were my greatest struggle.   The inner gremlins had me judging my journey.  They had me convinced that I was not worthy of God’s grace or love.  Did I see it? NO!  Did I consciously think it?  NO!  What I did was put a timeline in place, dreamed big AND never believed that I would be able to reach those dreams.  I put a timeline in place never trusting that God would provide for my needs. I put goals in place with an underlying belief based on fear and doubt.  I spoke being “stuck” into the Universe and guess what “I was stuck”.

 

This week, I am buried

  • My old self.
  • My old past.
  • My old way of thinking.
  • My old entanglements..
  • My hurt over old words spoken over your life.

TODAY, I feel re-born.  And a new ME is free to emerge in its place.  I have shed the old behaviors. I am sharing my goals proudly with others as if they were already obtained.  It surprised me, actually shocked me.

When I think about an old memory, it is just that — an old memory.  Something that could serve as a teaching marker that I can share with others to encourage them as they struggle in their journey.  Everyone’s journey is different but by sharing our strengths, hopes and experiences with others, we can encourage them to continue on their journey.

I was amazed at how confidently and easily I am connecting with others. I’m bravely stepping out of my comfort zone — not realizing until later it was courageous.  I am not worrying about what people think – I am enjoying building new relationships.

“The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!” 2 Corinthians 5:17b (MSG)

The word “burgeon” means to to flourish!  I am beginning to flourish.  It is a gift that is available for all of us, including you.  Let your Higher Power guide you:

  • As you walk with Him, follow His lead. Let Him show you how to let go of the old.
  • Embrace receiving as you remove your focus from the person who hurt your heart to a Higher Power who treasures you.
  • Embrace the gift as you begin to break the patterns of the past, no longer doing what you’ve always done, or thinking the way you’ve always thought.

Guess what, you’re becoming a brand new girl.  With a new way of thinking.  Heading in a new direction.  With a newly mended heart.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!