A treasured possession. Wow, God considers YOU a treasured possession. Whenever I think of being a special possession, I think about Linus from the Peanuts gang. He has a blue blanket that he takes everywhere with him. The blanket is used for comfort, companionship, protection, costume… you name it; Linus uses his blanket for everything. It is the greatest example to me of how God feels about me and how I feel about God. It is a true “I am yours and you are mine” relationship. We are a treasured possession indeed.
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I am tired of mediocrity, how about you? We were created for something! Father, thank you that you chose me and created me for a purpose only I can bring to this world. God show me what I was created to do! I say yes! Thank you for your Amen!
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When I think back to my first couple of years as a Christian, I felt a lot like a baby learning to walk again. I was changed in the midst of some pretty frightening circumstances. My new self on the inside was trying to emerge while the outside still looked toxic. Paul says that we work out our salvation. It’s worked out over our lifetime and in all of the circumstances we find ourselves. As I was working the other day I kept getting an image in my head. Remember the body snatcher in Men in Black? The “bug” who killed a farmer and stole his body to use it as a disguise? I was recalling how he looked while he walked and talked and functioned in a body that wasn’t his, it made me laugh. I see the comparison though. When you are baptized and made new, your new self is foreign. You come in under the wing of God with all that protection and affection but walking in your new self can be awkward.
When you are working out your salvation, God reveals to us the things in our lives that hold us back. As I walked and talked, I had competing voices in my head. One said, “you are messed up, you have nothing to contribute, and no one likes you.” The other said, “I love you, you have confidence because of that, and I forgave you once and for all.” The voice of the Holy Spirit was competing with the voice of shame. I had to choose which one I would believe. There are a lot of ways to define shame. The one I identify with most is: shame says, “my circumstances define who I am.” It is a lie declared by the enemy over your life. Shame makes us want to hide. It silences our testimony. It stifles worship. It keeps us from sharing life with believers and unbelievers. It denies the work of the cross, claiming humility but cowering in pride. Why? Because shame says, “no one can know that and no one can see that.” Shame is the stop sign we sit at, wanting traffic to break long enough so we can resume travel on freedom road. The truth is, you are forgiven of whatever you are hiding and nothing can change the fact that you are forgiven. Because you are forgiven, you are free. You are free to participate in the Christian life, you are free to enjoy your life (thank Beth Moore for that anecdote) and you are free to stand before the Lord.
Shame also keeps us in condemnation. Condemnation at it’s best is walking with a crutch, at it’s worst it leaves us bed ridden. I think that we focus a lot on how we are sinners rather than saints. The longer we believe we are constantly missing the mark the longer it takes to walk in pure love and freedom. Our purpose lies somewhere out there, while we believe that what we desire will never come to pass. It’s all a lie constructed to keep us from living a full life in Christ. We are missing out because we don’t believe in the radical love of a triune God. One that sees your completed self, the fruition of your salvation worked out. You are forgiven past present and future. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus! It’s time for us to shed our shame and put on our confidence in God and who He says He is. The forgiveness of God through His Son Jesus is so radical that it is only supernatural. The truth is, your sins are forgiven. The ones in the past, the ones you think you may have committed today, and the ones you might possibly commit in the future. It is all covered. PERIOD! End of story. Look up because His light shines on you! Yes, you. All the time, everyday. Whether you believe it or not. That is the radical love of Jesus for you. You’re just working it all out, claiming your identity, standing firm on that cornerstone, while the wind tries to blow you over. The awesome thing about that wind…oh, yeah, it’s defeated.
I’m loving a song by Elevation Worship called Evidence. It begins with a cry for our mountains to MOVE! NOW! I believe for my mountain to MOVE! I also believe your mountain will MOVE! NOW! All it takes is a mustard seed. Declare it, yell it, command it, whisper it but by your mustard seed of faith, that mountain has to move!
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Father God has good gifts for us! Sometimes they coming in a big reveal and other times they are revealed as each side of the wrapping is carefully opened. All good things come from God! He’s a good Dad who never changes!
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- I wish Christians knew it was scary and overwhelming to walk into church for the first time. Being greeted at the door can be a little uncomfortable for us. Worship can be a little weird for us. A new Christian needs a soft kind word and space to let God work.
- I wish Christians understood that our lives are a mess! We lived without Jesus! Of course our lives are messy. If you have a new Christian in your group and they feel comfortable enough to tell their story, let them tell it and afterward thank them for their vulnerability. Sharing our stories heals our wounds.
- I wish Christians knew how much we need a prayer covering. A lot of us don’t have families who pray for us, spouses who pray for us or anyone for that matter. It’s just us and Jesus. Please pray for our spiritual growth and protection.
- I wish Christians knew that we need a new family. Our earthly families are often confounded by our new found faith. They haven’t forgotten how we lived our lives before Jesus and being made new is not within their understanding. Being with our families in our new found faith is often difficult and painful. We may need or want to spend holidays, especially Christmas and Easter, with our faith family.
- I wish Christians knew that we have really strong convictions. Our convictions may not be yours and vice versa. Let the Holy Spirit convict. You have the blessing of supporting us while we walk it out.
- I wish Christians knew that our eyes are wide open. Amazing Grace says, “I once was blind and now I see.” New Christians are watching with their eyes wide open. You are an example to us.
- I wish Christians knew that God has called us. We haven’t prayed for 20 years to be in ministry. That doesn’t make us unqualified to be a part of ministry work. The Bible says that we are ministers of reconciliation, all of us. New Christians often have a passion and boldness because this whole thing is new and fresh. We have something to offer the body of Christ. Help us find our place and receive us with open arms.
- I wish Christians knew that vulnerability is important. We want to hear your faith stories. Faith stories are inspiring because it shows us that God is faithful. Your stories tell us how God showed you who he was in a place where your life was less than perfect. Your faith stories give us encouragement and hope.
So, there it is. Eight things I wish Christians knew about being a new Christian. I hope it urges you into love and good works.
Keep on believing! Keep your confidence in a God that keeps all of His promises. The peace that the Holy Spirit gives us is in us always, it is up to us to access it and give it away. While disappointment in humanity pervades, we have the peace that the world wants. Be bold and give it away freely. Let all the world come to know peace and a God who saves.
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Is responsibility overwhelming you? Remember, God sees you as a child entrusted with His Spirit not an adult loaded down with responsibilities. His burden is light. Let Him love you and love Him back. Rest and know. He takes care of the rest. Just listen and follow.
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I love this quote “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” I have never read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship. I often see this quote scrolling through Facebook and when I see it, there is this reassuring “yes” deep down inside of me. This quote is similar to what I heard when I committed my life to Christ. I heard that I get a new life. That was the glimmer of hope lying ahead of me. However, the new life costs the tiny (or not so tiny, depending on how much you like your life when you give it) price of your old life. It costs your old behavior, your creature comforts, your coping mechanisms, it costs you everything that would have preserved your old ways. Including getting your own way. Yes, Jesus asks you to die first. Then follow Him.
The corresponding scripture to the quote from Bonhoeffer is this: “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to follow Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.'” (Matthew 16:24-25) Our humanness is what wants preservation, our spirit wants transformation. That is the tension. When we give up our life, we learn over time that for every life preservation moment, there is a corresponding moment to die and follow. My husband and I talk about this a lot. He will come home and say, “There was a car broken down on the side of the road and the driver needed help. I didn’t want to stop because I just wanted to get home.” That is the self preservation side of him. Then there are other days he will tell me the same story but at the end, “sorry I was late, I decided to stop.” We all have those daily choices. How often do we depart the path behind our savior to maintain our schedule rather than deny ourselves to help someone in need? Probably more often than we would want to admit.
Then there are those self preservation moments where we have dreams and desires and wants and dreams and desires and wants…you get the picture. American life is full of this to such a distraction that we hang on to things that are bad for us in order to look good to the world around us. Following Jesus might ask us to let go of the hopes and dreams we had before we were made new. There are a lot of preaching voices that say the opposite of that. I know, I listen to them a lot. It gets me a little confused sometimes. I truly believe that my old hopes and dreams died when I died. I truly believe that God will show me new hopes and dreams as I grow in love and trust for him. My old hopes and dreams were self created and self preserving. Those hopes and dreams will be replaced with the hopes and dreams sowed into my created value before I was born, into my identity in Christ. Why? Because without knowing God, believing in Jesus, and hearing the Holy Spirit, I don’t believe I can know what I was created for. My old way was to pick and choose. My new way is to search Him and follow. And as I search Him and follow, He will reveal my purpose. A purpose not created by me but created for me. My God given created purpose is so much bigger and so much better than anything I could have ever thought or imagined. The same is for every believer. There is a big life waiting for us if we are willing to drop our own agenda and let God show us what we were designed for!
I feel compelled to pray, because my God given purpose is still being revealed. Maybe it is the same for you. I thank you Father God that you created me for a purpose in this time. I thank you that my purpose meets up with your ultimate plan for humanity, that we would all come to know and love you and love others in return. May my heart be full of your love and compassion for others while I walk out my purpose in my life. I thank you for Jesus and the path that I follow Him on. I thank you that it is narrow, reducing the choices that I have to make. I thank you that your yolk is easy and burden is light and when I choose to follow Jesus it displays your splendor.
In Jesus Name Amen.
When I think of being God’s special possession, I see a picture of Him hugging me. I love how God claims us as His own. He calls us by name and says “you are Mine!” He created us, he formed us, He protects us, and says we are His. How very special we are to our loving God!
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