Air1 Radio Features – November 2014
Do you feel like a failure? All of us will, at times, see ourselves in this way. But there’s an absolute cure: and that’s knowing the One who died to make us a success—not in the eyes of the world, nor even in our own eyes, but in His eyes—the eyes of the only Person who knows what’s best for us. I choose to see my life from God’s perspective—the finished product, the person He intended me to be. Our identity can be either shaped by our earthly failure, or by our Heavenly Father. I choose to believe God’s truth about me. He says, “…I know the thoughts that I think toward you…thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV) There’s no one who’s more excited about your future than God.
One of the darkest clouds covering the lives of many Christ-followers is a “Cloud of Shame.” Shame says, “You’re feeling bad, because you’re inherently bad.” Whereas guilt says, “You’ve done something wrong but if you respond well it will lead to freedom and victory.” Shame leads to bondage and death. Responding properly to guilt leads to deliverance and life. Guilt can last a moment if we repent and ask Jesus to forgive our sin. Shame can sadly last a lifetime if we choose to believe the devil’s lies about who we are. I choose to believe the only truth that will set me free—God’s truth. His Word says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, ESV)
Knowing God’s Word
The devil will always question what God has said to you. Therefore, you have to know what God really said. The Bible is not a good luck charm I put on a coffee table, it’s a breathing machine I hold fast to my face! Job said, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:12, NKJV) I have no chance of being a naturally healthy person without eating good food. Likewise, I have no hope of being a supernaturally healthy person without feasting on the Bread of Life: the Bible. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35, NLT) Hunger and thirst after God’s Word every day and you’ll live a filled and fulfilled life.
God Wants To Be With Us
Would you believe me if I told you that God wants you to be in Heaven far more then you do; and that He wants to forgive you infinitely more than you want to be forgiven. So, what is one of the greatest hindrances to us believing that God is this captivated and committed to not only forgiving us but also wanting to be with us, now and forever? I believe our fixation on our own imperfection becomes a constant distraction from focusing on His perfect love for us. The key to being successful in God is not working harder; it’s resting more fully in His love and acceptance. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3, ESV) Trust in God’s love for you and you will never feel like a failure.
God’s Heart For You
One of the best descriptions of God the Father’s heart for us is found in the lowest moment of King David’s life. He’s just committed adultery with the wife of one of his most loyal subjects…Uriah. Uriah is then sent to die in an unnecessary battle. Nathan the prophet comes to tell David what God really thinks of him. You’d think God was about to reject David. Instead, God mentions all of the wonderful things He’s done for David and finishes with “…if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!” (2 Samuel 12:8) Here’s God: no regret, no venom, no saying, “You’re a loser!” All God can say is, “If you had needed more…more of anything, I would have given it to you.” It’s the heart of a loving, caring Father! It’s the same heart God has for you.
Help My Unbelief
God can work with “no belief”, but He can’t do much with “unbelief!” When Jesus went to minister in His hometown, the Bible says, “And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any mighty miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.” (Mark 6:5) Faith is a room lifter! Unbelief is a room killer! For Jesus, healing a few sick people is “no big deal.” “No belief” doesn’t amaze Him, but unbelief does. The next verse says, “He was amazed at their unbelief.” (Mark 6:6) Would to God we were all amazed at our unbelief! After all God has done for each of us, our unbelief shouldn’t just amaze us, it should break our heart, and make us cry out like the man whose son was demonized, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, ESV)
Is God Holding Out On You?
No one is more excited about wanting to be with us than God. So what keeps us from wanting to be with Him? The same thing that made Adam and Eve hide! After doing what they knew was wrong they hid in shame. Until that time they loved coming into God’s presence. Sin changed all that. The devil deceived them into believing that God really didn’t have their best interest in mind and that He was holding out on them. This is the first and biggest lie of all time. The devil said, “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5, ESV) The truth is God has never held back anything from us that would work for our good and bring about His perfect will for our lives.
Playwright David Mamet writes, “…most people lost in the wilds…die of shame… ‘What did I do wrong? How could I have gotten myself into this?’ And so they sit there and they…die. Because they didn’t do the one thing that would save their lives.” The Bible says we are all lost, but we don’t have to die of shame if we look “…to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) He despised the shame of becoming sin for us because He knew it would lead to rescuing all humanity who would turn from sin to Him. The greatest shame is: not wholeheartedly believing this marvelous truth.
Grace is Free, But Not Cheap
There is no more marvelous word in the Christian faith than: “Grace.” It’s what Jesus provided for us when He died in our place. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is kindness from God we don’t deserve. There is nothing we have done, nor can ever do to earn this favor. It is a gift from God. Grace is divine assistance given to humans for our rebirth, and sanctification—a virtue coming from God alone. It’s our “Get Out of Hell For Free” card, but it didn’t come cheap. It cost Jesus His life! The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV) Jesus, I receive Your grace today!”
Receiving God’s Grace
Can you imagine being given an amazing present and never opening it? Sadly, it happens every day in the lives of most people. The Bible says, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…” Who wants to flunk being forgiven? Who wants to fail to obtain the grace of God? Who wants to walk around bitter, like a plague looking for a place to happen? I don’t want to have a chip on my shoulder that will eventually make me act like a chump. One of the most important disciplines you’ll need to learn in life is receiving the grace to be forgiven, to forgive yourself, and to learn to forgive others as well.
Do you feel like an outcast? Jesus wants to embrace you and make you know how accepted you are. There was a woman in the Bible who was chronically bleeding for twelve years. (Mark 5:24-25) But she was desperate. According to the Jewish custom if she touched anyone, they became unclean as well. The law said she could be divorced by her husband, she couldn’t live in her home or make contact with friends, and was excommunicated from the synagogue. She had spent everything she had to pay doctors, but only got worse. (Mark 5:26) But when she touched Jesus, all of this changed! Have you spent far too much time and money on the doctors of entertainment, pleasure and success only to remain sick in your soul, or are you courageous enough to touch Jesus and get healed?
When Adam and Eve did the one thing God the Father asked them not to do: eat the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.” (Genesis 3:7, NLT) Disobeying God always leads to shame and a feeling of being uncovered, empty, and vulnerable. And every attempt to eliminate this feeling, whether it be through entertainment, drugs, alcohol, philosophy, sensual pleasure, or denial is just fig leaves, and will never remove this sense of shame. Only receiving forgiveness can do that. And that only comes by returning to the One we originally disobeyed and letting the blood His Son wash us clean.