When was the last time you sat at the feet of Jesus in worship? I’m not talking about a Sunday morning church service. I’m talking about you and Him, no distractions, pressing into His presence with a heart that is overwhelmed and overflowing with thanksgiving and worship and adoration. I’m talking about praying in the spirit or singing in the spirit or sitting in silence or crying or dancing or shouting – all springing from a heart that is experiencing the presence of God. This is what we were created for. We were made to live and move and have our being in Him.
Have you ever felt like you were going through the motions in life? Perhaps, like me, there have been times that you were so busy working for God that you began to neglect ever spending any time with God, you know, just because you love Him, not solely to get some quick answers to some pressing issues. Am I the only one?
While serving God is a beautiful fruit that comes from being connected to The Root, it is not what we were created for. It is wonderful to be a faithful servant of God. It is wonderful that we are entrusted as stewards over His things, but above all else, we are His very own children. He has lavished His love upon us! Hear this Word:
Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children.
(TPT, 1 John 3:1)
Have you ever sat and pondered what this means? I know I can always make the connection when I consider my relationship with my own children. It’s hard to express to anyone what parental love is like. The first time you hold that baby in your arms, the explosion of joy and love that commences is nothing short of miraculous. It’s a deep bond and connection that stirs up every instinct in you to love, nourish, protect, guard and guide them; yet, even in having some grasp of this depth of love, God’s love is deeper still.
God doesn’t want your service, God wants your heart. He wants a Father-son/Father-daughter relationship with you. What about advancing the kingdom and being a soldier in God’s army and fighting the good fight? All very important, but what is the ultimate goal of it all? To reconcile the world back to Himself. Why? He wants a relationship! He wants to live eternally in a deep, authentic love relationship with His children. Why do we preach the Gospel? So people can turn back to God and live in relationship with Him. It’s not to recruit more servants. Again, I’m not saying service is not important, but let’s keep the main thing THE MAIN THING.
We can all fall into this trap – a rat race mentality where we run, and run, and run – we run so far we end up away from God’s heart! We volunteer our time, we execute programs, we counsel people, we are willing to lay down our lives – ALL GOOD! All noble endeavors! Just make sure you don’t leave Jesus behind because you might wake up one day only to end up burnt out, bitter or bored, wondering what happened to the fire that used to stir inside you when you heard the name, Jesus. Don’t let that be you! The Bible exhorts us to examine our own heart, to look at what motivates us to do what we are doing. I repeat, that HEART is what God wants my friends! Hear what the Word says:
I know all that you’ve done for me—you have worked hard and persevered. I know that you don’t tolerate evil. You have tested those who claimed to be apostles and proved they are not, for they were imposters. I also know how you have bravely endured trials and persecutions because of my name, yet you have not become discouraged. But I have this against you: you have abandoned the passionate love you had for me at the beginning. Think about how far you have fallen! Repent and do the works of love you did at first. (TPT, Revelation 2:2-5) (Emphasis mine.)
Is it important to stoke the fire of that passionate love we have for God? According to this scripture it is. Look at the stellar accomplishments of these believers! Hard work, perseverance, no toleration of evil or false teachers – even enduring of persecution without discouragement; but, something was missing, and according to God it was equal to falling very far from Him.
Do you see yourself here? Faithful in service, moral in practice, enduring hardness as a good soldier – yet far from God, burnt out, dry inside? I have good news. You are here for a reason and the solution is very easy. Return to His feet. Soak in His presence. Like a vessel broken open before Him, pour out your heart to Him and begin practicing His presence again.
I believe this is a year of growth. It is a year to bear fruit. Sometimes that means some pruning takes place. Ask God what to cut out and what to keep. Spend time abiding in the vine and drawing strength from Him. As the year progresses, please come back and let me know how things have changed as a result!
Before we dive into the idea of approval addiction, let’s just talk for a moment about why you are here. There are four major questions to answer as you progress through life if you are going to do and be all that God called you to do and be.
First, “Who am I?” – and let me answer that for you if you are born again of God’s Spirit. You are His child. Your identity, your value, your self-worth has to come from the unchanging fact that you are a child of God born of the Spirit of God. You are not what you DO. If you place your identity in anything other than Christ you will at some point suffer an identity crisis. Think of it. If your identity is resting on your athletic ability, your position, your looks, your fame, your money, your intelligence, your job, your parenting skills – any of these temporal things – then what happens when the athlete is injured, when the beauty fades, when the company goes belly up or the kids leave home? Identity crisis! We MUST have the foundation of our identity, our value, and our self-worth in who we are in Christ.
Second, “Why am I alive?” – and I can answer that one with scripture:
For we are His workmanship [His own masterwork, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us]. (AMP, Ephesians 2:10)
Why are you alive? Because God prearranged and made ready a life for you to live! He created you the way a painter would create a masterpiece, the way a poet would write a poem, the way a sculptor would carefully chisel away at a piece of stone until it became what he or she envisioned! You are alive to be an expression of God’s heart in the earth; to live as He lived and love as He loved.
This leads to the next question, “Where am I going?” – and this has to do with your destiny. When you know who you are and you know that you were created with a purpose, then you know you are to live into a destiny. What is that destiny? What has God put inside of you? What graces? What gifts? What natural and supernatural abilities? These are equippings that come with the call, and the very moment God gives you the word concerning your destiny, the equipping to do what He has called you to do comes with it! So where has He called you? What has He destined for you to become?
Lastly, “What impact will I make when I get there?” Identity. Purpose. Destiny. Impact. What will your legacy be? What will you be remembered for and how will the world be different because of the life you have lived? What impact will there be when you dream God’s dreams, think His thoughts, and align your values with His values? What will be the outcome of you living into your destiny?
OK – now why did I start out with these very introspective questions? The Bible says in Proverbs 29:25, The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. (NKJV) Did you know that there is a snare, a trap out there that can keep you from your destiny? It is the fear of man and it is connected to what I mentioned above. If you don’t know who you are you will look to man to find your self-worth instead of looking to Christ. So many of your life’s decisions will be based on what others think instead of what God thinks.
If you don’t know you were created with purpose you will look to this world for your sense of purpose. Your supreme appetite will be for the approval, accolades, acknowledgment, and recognition of man rather than your supreme appetite being the will of God. If you don’t have in your heart the God-breathed destiny – the path you are to travel to come into the fullness of what God has called you to be – and if the vision of the impact is not present in your mind’s eye, you will easily be derailed by the opinions of the masses.
Just imagine me right now grabbing you by the shoulders, looking you in the eye and shaking you! Do not live for the approval of man! It will entrap you! It’s a snare! Stop feeding the addiction! Don’t live for the “Likes” – don’t feed on the number of “Followers” – don’t sell your soul for more “Subscribers” – do you hear me!? STOP looking to man for approval! Live for GOD! Can I get a witness up in here!?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. There is safety there. Look to God for your identity, your purpose, and your destiny. It is only in living for God that you will have the impact and leave the legacy that He intended for you to have and to leave.
What is Redemption?
What is redemption? That’s a good place to start. To redeem means to “buy back,” or “to regain possession of something.” Some synonyms are retrieval, recovery, and reclamation. Why is it such a powerful word? Jesus is the Redeemer of all of humanity. He bought us back with a very high price. God has regained, reclaimed and recovered His people through the power of the cross.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (NKJV) 1 John 2:6 tells us, He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (NKJV)
Who is the “He” that we are supposed to walk like and imitate? Jesus!
If Jesus is the Redeemer, then His followers are also redeemers! What do I mean by that? We must look to recover, reclaim, and regain things that are lost or stolen!
A Mission to Recover and Restore
What are some things that can be lost or stolen? Of course, there is the obvious assignment we have been given in the Great Commission to go into all the world and preach the Gospel for the purpose of recovering the lost souls of men and women. Souls are lost. These are people Jesus died for. They have been “bought back” but have not yet found their way home. Our greatest assignment is to lead them back to the Father – it’s a recovery mission!
Beyond lost souls, there are other things in your life, in my life, that may have been lost or stolen. Being lost implies a carelessness on our part. Being stolen implies a crime committed by the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy – the devil. Have you ever lost something because you did not value it enough to care for it properly? Maybe it was a relationship. Maybe it was a place of influence. Maybe it was a material possession. Whatever it may have been, experiencing that loss in our lives can be painful.
Has anything ever been stolen from your life? Maybe it was your innocence. Maybe it was a child in the womb. Maybe it was a marriage or the life of a loved one. Some of these encounters with the thief, with the enemy of our soul, leave us incapacitated as waves of grief, anger, and fear attempt to bury us. Add to that the spiritual pressure that bears down on our thought life as we try to grapple with these circumstances that are challenging the name of our God, the foundation of His goodness, and the reality of His love for us.
How do we recover when the rug has been pulled out from under us? How are we – as redeemers – to respond when we experience loss? How do we respond when we have been stolen from? Do we throw a pity party? Blame others? Do we punish ourselves because we neglected to value what was in our hands? Do we drown in a sea of questions or torment ourselves as “Why?” plays on repeat in our mind? These are all responses that the devil would love to see in our lives. These responses would keep our godly confidence buried under the weight of shame, guilt, anger, and regret among other things; but, as redeemers and followers of Christ, we must respond differently!
Did you know that every situation you will encounter in this life, when placed in the hands of the Redeemer, can have redemptive value? God never steals. He never kills. He never destroys. He’s not the one that creates the loss, but here is what God does: He says, “Hand this over to me. I will take everything the thief intended to destroy, and I will bring resurrection life to it. I will take everything he has stolen, and I will recover and reclaim what belongs to you. Believe for redemption in this and I will vindicate my name. I will show you my goodness and demonstrate my love for you.”
When we take our brokenness (whether caused by our poor choices or thrust upon us by another’s choices) and we refuse to let it undermine our faith, but rather purposefully place it in the hands of God, there is a supernatural exchange that takes place! It is one the devil fears.
The redemptive power of a broken life makes him very nervous! He will attack God’s character, challenge His goodness, call into question your qualifications, all in a weak attempt to destroy your destiny. That is what he is after – YOU knowing your identity; YOU fulfilling your purpose; YOU living into the fullness of your destiny; YOU having a lasting impact on your generation! The attack is designed to destroy YOU and what lies inside of you! I pray you are getting a revelation of this!
Don’t let the thief continue to steal from you! Catch him! Demand that he restore sevenfold! Act like Jesus. Place the loss into the hands of the Redeemer and confidently expect the supernatural exchange. His life where there was death. His healing where there was sickness. His vindication where there was injustice. His restoration and recovery in every area! Glory to God!
I have lived this word when I was violated, when I was betrayed, when 2 pregnancies ended in miscarriage, and yes, even when my own shortcomings produced loss! I am just beginning to get a greater revelation of what can still be redeemed from these situations if I look to God in faith. My pain will have a purpose! God didn’t cause it, but He can use it – are you getting this? He can make the devil so sorry that he ever messed with this anointed, purpose-filled, destined child of God! My REDEEMER lives! He is your Redeemer too.
Let’s look at every area of loss in our lives with redemptive eyes. God took the death of Jesus and made it a seed. God took the cowardice and denial of Peter and made him bold and courageous. God took the religious fervency of Saul and made him an apostle to the Gentiles. Can you see the redemptive potential of every situation that appears to be a loss? If you will look to Him through the tears, my friend – if you will have faith in The Redeemer – it won’t be long until He turns your mourning into dancing and your sorrow into joy! It will excite you to know that everything the devil meant for evil can be turned around for your good and God’s glory. Amen. So be it.
The love of God is the greatest force in this universe. God is love, and He has manifested His love to us in the person of Jesus. You know, when Jesus walked this earth, He was (and still is) a reflection of the Father’s heart toward us. When we look at Jesus, we see the Father. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Jesus is the “express image of God,” and “the exact representation and perfect imprint of God’s essence.”
I have been soaking in the love of God, and looking at and beholding Jesus, and I can tell you that there is NOTHING like it. It is a place that I never want to leave. When I look at Jesus, I see mercy and grace and truth. His actions express God’s heart. So, what is God’s heart toward the sinner? Toward the unlovely, and the unloved?
When the religious leaders of Jesus’ day took a woman caught in the very act of adultery, drug her to Jesus, and threw her at His feet I am telling you that is the safest place she could have landed! Glory to God! When every person in the crowd (stones in hand) was ready to execute justice and exact punishment for her sin, her mighty Savior, JESUS, extended mercy and provided protection from her accusers.
The truth is, Jesus attracted sinners, the unlovely, and the unloved. Why? Because He was the love of God in human flesh. He was the grace of God in human flesh. When religion said, “You are worthless,” Jesus said, “Come to me and I will make you worthy.” There is something so attractive about unconditional love – a love that still loves you when you mess up, that still loves you when you haven’t been good enough, that still loves you when you have failed. This kind of love is what makes sinners drop to their knees in total surrender – THIS LOVE is so good!
I have always identified with the story in Luke 18 that tells of a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee stood in his own self-righteous pride, looking with contempt at sinners, and thanking God that he “wasn’t like THEM.” He prided himself in his “good works,” and particularly looked with disdain at the tax collector who wouldn’t so much as enter the temple or lift his eyes toward heaven. What was this tax collector (who would have been seen as the scum of the earth in Jesus’day) – what was he feeling and thinking? “I am unworthy of any good thing. I am an outcast and a traitor to my own people. I have sold my soul for what? For some money. I don’t deserve your love.” This man beat his chest and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
I identify with that man. I remember being a young woman – I was an unwed, teenage mother. Struggled with drugs. I was so desperate for love that I gave my body to anyone who would show me some love, even if it was very, very temporary. I remember the day that the shame of all of my foolish choices converged on me and I couldn’t bear the weight of it any longer. My heart cried out to God, knowing I had nothing to offer Him but a broken mess of a life. I had never felt more unworthy of love than at that moment – BUT GOD – Who is rich in mercy – God, like a loving Father, wiped away every tear, and removed all my shame by speaking to my spirit three simple words – I LOVE YOU. When God (love) became real to me, I fell into Love’s arms and where rejection, shame and condemnation had sought to tear me down, acceptance, love and forgiveness built me up! From that day to this, God has been faithful to me!!!
I am here to tell anyone who would read these words – society may give up on you, people may call you worthless, you may have been rejected from the womb by your mother or father, BUT GOD will never give up on you! God will never let go of His hold on you! People may throw you away, but God will never throw you away! You may not feel worthy of love, but surrender your life to Him and He will make you worthy! I am telling you, He will NEVER leave you or forsake you!
Hebrews 13:5 says this:
“for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you, nor give you up, nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]”
Ephesians 2:4-7 says this:
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Are you a sinner? An adulterer? A drunk? An addict? A thief? Are you full of religious pride and hypocrisy? You are a prime candidate to receive of the grace of God SO THAT in the ages to come, all would look at you and say – look at what the Lord has done!!! Where sin had abounded grace did SUPER abound! Where people forsook them, God never let them go! He NEVER gave up on them, and now look at this glorious, whole, love-filled, joy-filled, hope-filled masterpiece of a man (or woman) He has created from one that was so broken and lost! ALL the glory goes to HIM!
You see, when we don’t deserve forgiveness, or blessing, or goodness, or kindness, but we get it anyway – that’s grace. When we do deserve punishment, the curse, and hell, but don’t get it – that’s mercy. Did you know that God is full of grace and mercy? His love for the unloved, the outcast, the sinner, the rejected and the abandoned is unmatched. So what is your part? Simply believe that God is real, and receive His love gift – eternal life.
I, for one, am eternally grateful that I encountered LOVE, and LOVE saved me. I am a trophy of His exceedingly rich grace, and His loving kindness. And NOBODY can shut my mouth! I will FOREVER praise the name of my Savior, my Hero, my Lord – JESUS!!
Have you ever wondered why the grand battle between good & evil, and light & darkness dominates so many story lines and movie plots? Why are we drawn to these epic clashes between heroes and villains, ultimately hoping that the “good guy” wins and saves the day? I believe it is the internal awareness that there truly is a battle of epic proportions being carried out on the world’s stage, and it is the battle for the souls of men and women. There really is a war between light and darkness. Of course, we know that Jesus has already triumphed over evil through the cross. The Light of the World spoiled all the plans of the rulers of darkness…
“Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it [the cross].” Colossians 2:15 (NKJV)
Though the light (Jesus) came into the world and exposed the works of darkness – indeed it was His mission to undo the works of the devil by healing all that were oppressed by him (Acts 10:38) – many remain in darkness, having loved the darkness rather than light. (John 3:18-21)
For all of those that believe in Jesus and receive Him, to them He gives the right to become the children of God. When we hear the anointed truth of God’s word and faith comes, and we believe on Jesus, we become God’s children – children of light. We are called the “light of the world.” We are exhorted to “let our light so shine before men” that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. We are called “children of the light and of the day.”
On the flip side there are the “hidden works of darkness” that are carried out by those “whose minds are blinded” by the god of this world – the devil…
“…among them the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving to prevent them from seeing the illuminating light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 (AMP)
So what is this battle about? It is about BELIEFS. What will you believe. Notice Satan has blinded the minds of the “unbelieving.” What do these people “not believe?” It is the gospel, or the “almost too good to be true news” of the glory of Christ. The light comes to reveal and expose TRUTH, but the darkness is here to mask and hide the truth so that people believe LIES. In fact, the principalities & powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age have a commander, and he is the “father of lies.”
Have you ever wondered why it seems that some people have a supernatural stupor over their minds? It seems that they are completely blind to some things that may seem like common sense to those living in the light of truth. There is a scriptural reason! The Bible says that the whole world lies under the power or influence of the evil one:
“We know [for a fact] that we are of God, and the whole world [around us] lies in the power of the evil one [opposing God and His precepts].” 1 John 5:19 (AMP)
So how do we win this war? How do the “good guys” (God’s sons, soldiers and servants) carry out His mission to seek and save the lost, to set the captive free, to open the eyes of the blind, and heal the broken hearted?
We must be children of light! What do I mean by that? It is our mission to be ambassadors of the kingdom of God, to be “ministers of reconciliation.” We do this by “proclaiming the praises of Him who called us out of DARKNESS into His marvelous LIGHT.”
We must bring the light of God’s truth into every fiber of our being. We must live in truth, walk in truth, share the truth. We are living epistles known and read by men! Wherever we go we bring the light with us, and it only takes a tiny bit of light to chase away a whole lot of darkness.
Now, I’m not talking about beating people over the head with your Bible, or quoting scriptures to them all the time, or telling them that they are living in darkness and sin. I am talking about being a vessel that carries around the glorious goodness of God. We proclaim God’s praises by being thankful, being kind to others, walking in love, being forgiving, and sharing God’s goodness through our words and actions. When there is an open door, we invite people to come into the light with us, and to taste and see that the Lord is good! Hallelujah!
Let’s WAKE UP, redeem the time, and be the light of the world. The souls of men & women hang in the balance!