Lesson: Identity

20130909-220215.jpg

 

Where do you find your identity? Some people find it in their children, work or being a wife /husband, a Christian. Some are not sure at all how to identify themselves.

When someone asks who you are what do you say?

Most people will say “I am a mom, I am dad, I am a husband/wife, I am a Christian, I work at >>>”. But who are you really? Getting deeper into how they really see themselves: they will say “I am kind, I am hardworking, I am a control freak, I am shy, I am …”.

Where does your “worth” come from?

Many people measure their worth from what people say about them. They repeat what others have said since childhood. These statements become who they are, what they think about themselves. How they measure their worth is how much worth or value someone else attached to them.

Do you feel important? To whom? The worth and value that was assigned while growing up then makes a person feel important or not important. We all have that one person (a grandma or grandpa or aunt/uncle/brother/sister) that made us feel important and valuable. They were glad to see you and said good things about you. You then believed you had worth/value. Does that mean you only have value that someone else assigns to you? “one mans trash is another man’s treasure?” And the best you could hope for is someone to not think you’re trash?

If your life changed drastically and you lost a part of how you identify yourself, how would you handle it?

Many people in ministry identify themselves by their ministry. I am the praise/worship leader. I am a teacher. Some women identify as a mom. A woman may identify herself as a wife. What happens when that identity ends? You are not the teacher anymore. Your children move out. Your husband dies or leaves? That sends many people into depression and great anxiety. Post-partum depression- loss of freedom and how you identified yourself your entire life and fear of being a good mother.

Do you think you are beautiful? Dove Campaign for Real Beauty (Unilever) “Beyond Stereotypes: Rebuilding the Foundation of Beauty Beliefs” (2006) and “Real Truth About Beauty” (2005) global studies:
92% of teen girls would like to change something about the way they look, with body weight ranking the highest.

75% of teenage girls felt ‘depressed, guilty and shameful’ after spending just three minutes leafing through a fashion magazine.

70% of girls ages 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities such as attending school, going to the doctor, or even giving their opinion “due to feeling badly about one’s looks.”

61% of all women and 69 % of girls (15 to 17) feel that their mother has had a positive influence on their feelings about themselves and their beauty.

25%of women would consider undergoing plastic surgery.

While only 19% of teenage girls are “overweight,” 67% think they “need to lose weight” (UK Teen Body Image Survey, January 2004)

• Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful (up from 2% in 2004)
• Only 11% of girls globally are comfortable using the word beautiful to describe themselves
• 72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful
• 80% of women agree that every woman has something about her that is beautiful but do not see their own beauty
• More than half (54%) of women globally agree that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst beauty critic
Do you think you are important? Can you actually say “I am important and I am valuable”? Does saying that bring to mind at least one person that thinks you are valuable? Would you still feel valuable if that person was not in your life?

What would you change about your appearance? Glamour survey of more than 300 women of all sizes found that, on average, women have 13 negative body thoughts daily—nearly one for every waking hour. And a disturbing number of women confess to having 35, 50 or even 100 hateful thoughts about their own shapes each day.

55 percent of women had abusive thoughts about their overall weight or size; 43 percent said they targeted specific areas (the most berated: belly and thighs).
Women are constantly bombarded with images and descriptions of what our identity is “supposed “ to be in modern culture. (Skinny, Barbie Dolls. Superwoman.)

What image do you buy into? (What image comes to mind?)

You can’t buy into the image and identity the world sets for you. You will be depressed, anxious, worried, & feel inferior. If you compare yourself to celebrities or magazines or the seemingly superwoman down the street, you will find that you are comparing yourself to an incomplete viewpoint. Nearly one in four women ages 50-64 were found to be on an antidepressant, with 13 percent of the overall population also on antidepressants. (Source: http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=173763#sthash.ViQ8BDPf.dpuf) Personally, I think the number is way more than that. People who claim to be depressed but may not have prescriptions for medication.

God did not intend for you to compare yourself to others. He did not intend for you to compare yourself to any standard other than the Bible. The Word of God is the standard by which we should all measure ourselves. In fact, no other standard will do.

Who does God say you are?

What does God say of your abilities?

What does God say of your worth?

Genesis 1:27

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Jeremiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

1 Corinthians 12:27

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Colossians 3:1-4

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Ephesians 4:22-24

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Romans 8:14-15

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Isaiah 43:1

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Psalm 100:3

Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Colossians 3:12

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

Romans 8:15

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

John 1:12

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

Psalm 139:14

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Isaiah 64:8

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

We are created in God’s image. We have the ability to think, feel, choose, and love. Eph 5:1 says “Therefore be imitators of God”. James reminds us that we should speak to all people with honor and respect. “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God (James 3:8-9)

Do I treat others in such a way that it honors God? Do I treat myself in such a way that it honors God?

Do I see what God sees when I look in the mirror?

 

We rely on so many other sources for measuring our worth. If our man loves us. If he thinks we are beautiful. What if we only relied on God’s opinion of us and no one else?

Challenge:

This week, to practically apply this Word of God.

  1. By taking every thought captive that is does not line up with what God says about me. I do this by immediately examining the thought, compare it to scripture and if it does not line up with what God says then I speak either out loud or to myself what God’s word says and I choose to believe it.
  2. By meditating on what God say I am. The more you read it and absorb it into your spirit the more the Word of God will renew your mind. Memorize key scriptures that speak to you.
  3. Pray the Word. Put your name in the scripture and pray it over you. You can also pray this way over your children and husband.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I repent for believing all other opinions about me rather than your opinion. Only your opinion really matters. What you say about my worth, my skill, my talent, my purpose is more important than what anyone else has ever said about me or will ever say. I believe your Word and what it says about me. I will not believe lies of the enemy any longer. I will not rely on other people to give me my worth. I believe that I am more than a conqueror. I am your daughter, loved and accepted. You chose me even if no one else will. I freely give to you all my past hurts, feelings of worthlessness and feelings of inferiority. I forgive anyone in the past for hurtful things that have been said that caused me to believe bad things about myself. I repent for comparing myself to someone else and I will now look to your Word for truth. Send your Holy Spirit to help me and guide me to your truth. Use your Word to light my path to better understanding of your love and acceptance for me.

20130910-233916.jpg

Advertisements

Lesson: Why Don’t I Feel Loved?

 Featured Image -- 585

 

 

A. Sometimes people have trouble receiving love. They don’t feel love or loved. Many reasons can lead to this. 

1. Feeling unworthy or inferior can lead to feeling unloved or un-loveable.

If you don’t value yourself or even like yourself you may find it hard that someone else would love you. So you have difficulty receiving (feeling) love. You think you are not worth love from another person. You think the best you can hope for is leftovers.

2. Sometimes it’s because there was no example of agape love while growing up. So there is no point of reference.

People who are raised in an unloving, un-nurturing environment have no example of true love. If you have never seen it at work then it’s difficult to recognize it. You may have a wrong definition of what love is.

3. Some people don’t love themselves or accept themselves. They don’t realize their worth and significance. Mark 12:31

B. Past experiences and past relationships help to shape our ideas of love. What experiences in your life taught you what love is? Does that love match the kind of love described in 1 Cor 13?

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

There may be experiences in your past that trigger certain emotions. When someone in your life today says or does something that triggers an experience from the past. You will often have the same emotions from the past arise within you again. Even if the person does not intend to hurt you it’s easy to take it that way because someone from your past did hurt you.

The way to overcome this is to identify where it started. Forgive that person (or yourself if necessary).

What are your reference points for love?

It’s shown by how you give and receive love.

Are they healthy?

C. Sometimes we don’t recognize love from someone because it is given in a way that we are not programmed to receive it.

“The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman gives great examples of how people respond to the action of love in different ways.
Understanding the 5 love languages can help you identify when someone is showing you love. Many times we miss it because it’s shown in a way that we “receive” love or “give love”.

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

Identify the one or more that make sense to you. Now identify one or more ways to show love to someone special in your life. Give love to them in the way they will receive it. Sometimes that is a sacrifice but it is worth it to make that person feel special and loved.

*Is love a feeling or a choice?

It is a choice. It is not that “butterfly feeling” portrayed in Disney movies. Romantic books and movies have romanticized love in such a way that no one can ever measure up to that kind of love. It is unrealistic and does not line up with God’s truth about what love is.

Ask God to show you what love is. Ask Him to show you any ways that you are not receiving love–either His love or love from your spouse, children, etc.

Ask God overflow your heart with His love. He will.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for your perfect love. Help me to receive love. Open my heart to be open to love. I allow your Holy Spirit to show me places in my heart that do not allow love to penetrate. I give you all these feelings of rejection, of misunderstanding and of unworthiness. I give it all to you. Instead, work in my heart your acceptance, and forgiveness. Open my heart to how worthy I am to you. How important I am to you. Most of all, I want to feel your love, abounding in my heart and overflowing. So that I may show love to others. Not just the imperfect love of earth but of your heavenly love that you shed abundantly for us.
I forgive people in my life that have hurt me in the past. I ask forgiveness for not believing your love and not showing love because of past sins and unforgiveness. I ask that you begin to show me a more perfect way-your way and not my way.

How Satan Stole the Church

I listened to this podcast from Your Move with Andy Stanley. I enjoy his preaching and he is one of the few podcasts to which I subscribe.

I wrestled with the term “Christianity” recently. Actually, for over a year I have struggled with the definition or lack thereof.

Andy Stanley has a series right now on this. While listening to one particular podcast in this series called “Christianity: Quitters”, I realized something. I want to share with you this thought.

First, let’s give you some background on this subject.
Above is a link that is part of Andy’s introduction of his 30 minute podcast. He so eloquently describes an atheist turned Christian, turned non-Christian 10 years later. If you watch only this segment and stop you will miss the point.
(Maybe you were raised in church, maybe you don’t like church because of the people. I get it. And so does Andy Stanley. Watch or listen to his entire series on this subject if you are struggling with this same issue of the definition of Christianity.)

The term Christian is my issue. There is no definition of this term that is universal and agreed upon by all. It is one word that means different things to every person.
To some it means to act like Jesus Christ or to resemble him as much as possible.
To others it describes someone who attends church. To others it may mean someone who believes in Jesus. And yet, I do not have enough time or space on this page to list all the possible definitions I personally have discovered.
I get so confused with so many definitions of this one word. Even to the group that call themselves Christians they don’t agree on just one single definition.

Did you ever speak to someone that said “oh yeah, I’m a Christian”? But then your definition of that term did not match their actions. So you determined quietly within yourself that they are not really a Christian. And thus judged them as not the same as you. “I don’t know what he/she is but it’s not what “I” call a Christian!” And they may have said the same thing about you.

Andy made an interesting point. The term Christian was not even used by the early church. They called themselves disciples of Jesus Christ. The term Christian was actually a derogatory term used to describe Christ’s disciples of the early church.
Over time this term stuck and is a widely popular and most used term to describe people of the church. I live in the Bible Belt so it’s super common.

Here’s my profound thought! (It was Big deal to me)

Satan is the king of compromise. If he can’t get you to out-right break one of the Ten Commandments maybe he can blur the lines a bit. Let’s diffuse the label. Let’s take out all the meaning. Since the term Christianity can mean a wide variety of lifestyles, beliefs, and practices the term has no substance.
The term Christianity has no standard. We say the Bible is the Word of God and is the standard by which we all must live and be judged. But anyone referring to that term does not have to adhere to the standard of the Bible.
In fact, there’s much confusion in the church world even of what the standard is.

The term Jesus used was “disciple”. That carries a hefty weight. You can do all kinds of things in the name of Christianity but if you call yourself a disciple you are “locked” into a very specific, well defined description. It describes behavior. It describes thoughts.
Disciple: learner, pupil, follower.

John 13:34-35 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


THIS is how you know you are a disciple.

If you want to make an impact on the world it will be because HOW you love. Not what you say you are.

1 John 5:2 NIV This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.

If I do not SHOW love to everyone I cannot say that I am a “disciple” of Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 13:1 NLT If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I pray better than anyone else. If I can preach so well that all who listen are stirred to tears. If I can sing so that goose bumps go down your spine. If I am used in the gift of the Holy Spirit but I do not love I am no better than a clanging cymbal. I make no more impact on the world than a loud, short, annoying, forgotten noise.

Satan will try everything he can to cripple the Church from promoting the Kingdom of God. Anything he can do disable the Gospel.

How easy is it then to destroy the meaning of Christianity? Water it down. Take out the LOVE command. I can love my friends, love the people I hang out with. But don’t expect me to love those heathens. Or to love those that hurt me.

If we don’t love the way Christ loved then we cannot call ourselves a disciple of Jesus Christ. That is what “Christianity” is supposed to mean-Disciple of Jesus Christ. My life should resemble His. I should strive for the same standard by which Jesus lived.

It is time to take back the church. Take it back what God intended.

The author Andy speaks about in the clip above said “It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group.”

My prayer is that the church of Jesus Christ does not resemble that description. Granted, not everyone that calls themselves a Christian behaves like that. However, it is too common to see hateful, judgmental, condemning behavior.

Join with me to pray that the church gets a new, full dose of LOVE the way Jesus lived it.

Identity Theft

Millions of people are victims of identity theft each year costing millions of dollars. Companies claim they can protect your assets for a nominal fee. But there is an identity theft that is facing every person on the planet today. It costs much more than money.

1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Satan works diligently to strip our identity from us. He starts at an early age with every child. The media is just one of his tools. TV, movies and books display a culture and behavior opposite how our Heavenly Father intended for us to live.
Jesus said He came to give life and give it more abundantly. Popular culture depicts a life pretty on the outside but void of “life”. You can only have “life” through Jesus Christ. All other options are a mirage of the real thing and lead you down a threatening path.

Know who are in Christ.
From youth people are bombarded with lies saying they are worthless, they can’t do anything, they are not as good as someone else. God can never fully forgive you. He is just waiting for you to mess up. You are not pretty or handsome. You focus on all your flaws.
These are lies. Think about all the bad stuff you tell yourself…
This is your true identity: You were born for a reason. God has a purpose and a plan for your life. You are more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ.
You are a child of God. You a wonderfully and fearfully made. God made you for a reason and made you wonderful! You are beautiful! Handsome! You are unique treasure of the Heavenly Father! You are valuable. Period.

Have you ever heard that someone is searching for who they are? That phrase is used as an effort to excuse to describe poor behavior of someone that “hasn’t found themselves”. Humans search for “who they are”. Teenage years are difficult for this reason. “Who am I?”

If we really knew it would shock us, in a good way. Satan does not want humans to ever know or fully realize “who we are in Christ”. If we did the world would be impacted and his kingdom would be desolate. So he uses an ancient strategy of deceit to strip away everything good thing God created us to be. Systematically changing our view of ourselves and thus our view of the world.

Linda Foley, founder of the San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), a non-profit organization that provides education on identity theft and assists identity-theft victims says that thieves “are looking for our weaknesses.”  Foley said, “They take advantage of our apathy.”

Christians have become apathetic. We accept the cultural view of who we are. We accept the lies fed to us all our life. The apathy keep us from diligently searching the truth. The truth of who we  really are.

If Satan works this hard to destroy it could it be something amazing? Could you really be strong, confident, accepted, loved, powerful? Could God really have given you an amazing gift of abundant life found only in Jesus Christ? All you have to do is believe the truth of the Word of God.

Go read you Bible and see what God says about you…

*Psalm 139:13-16   For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

1 Peter 2:9   But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light

Jeremiah 29:11   For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Ephesians 1:4-5   For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will

Ephesians 2:10   For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Psalm 139:1-4   O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

Colossians 2:13-14   When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

John 1:12-13   Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Galatians 4:6-7   Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

1 Samuel 16:7   But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

John 15:15   I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

Romans 5:1-2   Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Colossians 3:12   Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Galatians 3:26-27   You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Psalm 138:8   The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever-do not abandon the works of your hands.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-6   For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:14-15   because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Colossians 3:3-4   For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Ephesians 2:19   Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,

1 Thessalonians 5:5   You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

Philippians 3:20   But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Hebrews 3:14   We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.

Matthew 5:13   “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22   Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

1 John 3:1   How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Matthew 5:14   “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden

1 Corinthians 3:16   Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?

Romans 6:18   You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

1 John 5:18   We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21   Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Peter 2:5   you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:6   And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

 

*There is no condemnation for us (Romans 8:1)

We can never be separated from God’s love (Romans 8:39)

We have wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 1:30)

We are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)

We become God’s children (Galatians 3:26)

We have every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)

We have the forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7)

We were also chosen (Ephesians 1:11)

We are for the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:12)

We’ve been given the incomparable riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 2:7)

We may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 2:22)

We are light (Ephesians 3:12)

We are holy and faithful (Ephesians 5:8)

Our joy overflows (Philippians 1:26)

*Adapted from John Sachen on Yahoo and Bill Gaultiere at Soul Shepherding.

“Sell Yourself Short”

sell“Don’t sell yourself short” is a phrase I’ve heard many times. Usually, I hear it said in reference to underestimating your abilities. I started thinking about how we “sell” ourselves out to many things and people. Sometimes at a cost unperceived and unrealized until we face the debt in our heart of pain and loneliness.

What do we sell ourselves to?

Some people sell themselves to fame. They receive money, and admiration of man, as the payment.

Fame, comfort, people, money, sex, control…

What is the payment?

I have seen women sell themselves, completely giving themselves to a man. In return they perceive “love” as the payment. However, they take any form of “love” even if it is self deprecating, selfish “love”. They are used and abused thinking that is all they deserve as the payment for their SELF.

I see young girls sell themselves to young men. The cost is more than they expected to give. Young girls, beautiful and gifted “sell” themselves for a sexual love. The payment pales in comparison to the “cost” of SELF.

People who seek after the admiration of others as payment loses their SELF. They forsake their own creativity, talents, desires, and ability to please someone who does not value them. In turn, you will not value yourSELF.

People who seek after comfort actually find discontent.  People who seek after fame will find only loneliness because fame and money are fleeting.

The payment may seem good at first. Later, you find that payment is not sufficient. This starts a continuous cycle of disillusionment, fear of rejection, and pain.

So, what do you cost? What form of payment is fair and reasonable?

Matthew 6:33 (NLT) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you
everything you need.

This command is difficult to understand by the worldly standard of living. We are conditioned to be masters of our destiny, that we make it or break it, that we can make anything happen.

However, Jesus Christ paid a price for you far above anything you could ever imagine. In fact, you will never fully understand it until you stand in front of God, the Father.

1. The price has already been paid. It cost a life.

2. The price was so great that you (SELF) are more costly than anything this world could pay.

3. Once you understand this the command is to “live righteously”. Live like you believe the cost is great. Live like you are worth more.

4. God promises something in return. HIS payment is “he will give you everything you need”.

 

way-out-picDon’t you wish life had signs like this?

Signs that tell you when to start and where to go on the highway of life?

Well, the Bible does just that. Here’s your starting point. Read these scriptures. They tell you the starting point.

John 10:10 (KJV)  I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life

God’s love is this:

1 Cor 13 (NLT) 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

That is the type of love you are worth. That is the type of love worth a life. That is the type of love you deserve and receive only through Christ Jesus.

Start Here:

1. If you acknowledge your immense worth as a child of the living God you will not “sell yourself” to just anything or anyone.

2. If you begin to live like you are worth, as God made you, you will live up to the potential God put in you.

3. If you believe what God says about you, then you will not believe what other people say about you that is hurtful and causes pain.

Lesson 5: Praying for your Spouse: Be the example

Be the Godly example.

This is the hardest part. (for me anyway, because I’m stubborn and I want vendication)

1 Cor 7:13-14   And the woman which hath a husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

You can’t be the example as a “holier than thou” “throw it in your face” type of christian. You are the example when you retaliate and respond in love and forgiveness rather than bitterness, strife, anger, or resentment.

1. Fight against the evil of resentment.

It will start as a “Keeper of Wrongs”. Keeping a list of every unkind deed or word he ever did. It will grow to resentment and eventually into bitterness.

It’s fairly easy to determine if you have resentment in your heart right now. Start praying for God to show you any resentment or unforgiveness you may have.

Ask yourself a few questions.

1. How does my spouse treat me?

If all you can thing of are the bad things, then you have kept a record of only wrongs. You need to start thinking of the good things. Maybe it’s only “he provides partial financial help”. Maybe it’s a stretch for you but start with something.

2. How much do I love my spouse?

Depending on how long you have been dealing with issues in your marriage and how severe the issues are this could result in various answers.

I remember a time when I knew I loved my spouse but I couldn’t say that I respected him. This is very serious. This is a sign that you are in trouble and need God’s help. Seek God’s help and seek godly counseling if at all possible.

Ultimately, you must come to a place where you realize that “love” the way the world views love is very different from the way God views love.

You must realize that “love” is a commitment not a feeling. Unconditional love doesn’t only return love when it “feels loved”. Unconditional love will love no matter what. This type of “agape” love is difficult when you are more concerned about yourself and how you “feel”.

The world will tell you that you deserve better. You deserve this…that…You deserve nothing but to keep your marriage together and sacrifice whatever is necessary for it. We don’t even understand what true sacrifice is anymore. That is why the divorce rate is just as high in churches as it is in the non-church world.

2. Fight against the temptation of bitterness

Hebrews 12:15    Make sure that everyone has kindness from God so that bitterness doesn’t take root and grow up to cause trouble that corrupts many of you.

Bitterness will feed hate into a struggling marriage until separation or divorce seems the answer. Your spouse may succumb to this but you can’t.

Bitternesss starts as unforgiveness, then it turns into resentment, anger, and frustration. Then if it you don’t let God deal with this in your heart it turns into a hard wall that is only seen by harsh words and thoughts that say “I could kill you” “I wish you were not around” “You are…(fill in the blanks)”.

If you already see the fruits of this in your life then you are already ahead of the enemy. You “see” the problem. Now God can begin to heal this in your life.

Read the “Prayer for Bitterness”. This is a good start.

Jesus can set you free from all the bitterness. Once you are free you can effectively pray for your spouse.

Lesson 4: Proclaim in Faith (praying for your spouse)

Proclaim what is not yet as though it is.

Hebrews 11:1     Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (NLT)

Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

1. Caught being good!

Not only do you proclaim the truth of God over your spouse in prayer but also proclaim it to your spouse. Not in a condescending manner or taunting.

Proclaim his identity traits in Christ at every opportunity.When he shows patience in the smallest form praise him for it. Tell him “you are so patient” when he shows patience. When he shows love, praise him for it. “I feel so loved when you do that”, “I am so thankful I have you in my life. “ Even if the trait is faint and hard to see, find ways to tell him how wonderful he is. He may not be wonderful yet but God is changing him from the inside out.

2. Watch your words

The words you use daily are very important to your husband’s spiritual walk. If you use words that tear him down, disrespect or dishonor him whether in private or in front of people will negate everything God is trying to do.

Ephesians 4:29 ESV  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Another verse that is helpful to remember is…

Proverbs 12:18 ESV   There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

We are to bring healing by using words that are in line with the Word of God. Healing is what your spouse requires. And while we can’t heal or change anything. God is the only one that can. We can be helpful or we can hinder it.

Ask yourself before you speak…”Will this help to bring healing to my spouse?” If not, then keep your mouth shut.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to put a guard over your mouth to help you say what is helpful or to not say anything at all if it will hurt.

The Lord will help you of you allow him to.

Lesson 2-Praying for your spouse

This is the 2nd installment of the original lesson summarized in “Praying for Your Spouse”

This is one of the lessons I find hardest to walk out in my life. My flesh tends to think and act to anything that is happening NOW-what I think, feel, who is offending me…

Your spouse is not the enemy.

Ephesians 6:12 “We do not fight against flesh and blood..” (your spouse)

We fight against principalities, and powers, and rulers of darkness (Satan and his kingdom).

Every time I am offended I revert to human nature and temptation to lash back in retaliation against the “person”.  That is the trap of the enemy! And I fall into it almost every time.

Jesus is the best example of how to respond to offense and abuse.

Forgiveness and love

After severe beating and abuse Jesus goes to the cross saying “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”. (I digress at this point–I am not saying to take beatings–that is another discussion).

Jesus saw the people as tools the enemy used against Him and also as souls that needed salvation. He showed great love and compassion.

This is easier said than done sometimes. I see my problem as my husband’s behavior and he has a choice. While that may be true to some extent go back and read lesson 1.

Instead, below are a few things I have resolved to try in my own relationship.

1. Earnestly seek God’s “agape” love (unconditional)

Jesus was a great example of loving the unlovable. He can flood your heart with HIS love. His love covers a multitude of sins, HIS love forgives immediately and without conditions or strings attached.

2. Pray for spiritual eyes

Pray for God to show the heart of man the way HE does. So much of how we perceive problems and people are in direct opposition to the way Jesus sees them.

STOP! in the middle of the argument, situation, whatever…and try to “see” the real problem. The problem many times is not the person you are arguing with or mad it. It is the enemy behind the issue. If your spouse is blind to the root causes it is not your responsibility to tell him about it. It is your responsibility to react in love. Instead of arguing. Smile, soften, diffuse. Then, as soon as possible, pray for him.

3. Go pray!

Depending on the seriousness of the issues at hand, serious prayer along with fasting may be necessary.

First, ask for forgiveness for any bitterness, resentment or anger you may have against your husband and for any behavior you had that was not in love.

Then, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the root issues so you can pray specifically for your spouse.

Pray specifically for anything revealed to you with a heart of love. Many times, you will find that what is revealed are issues in your own heart. Be prepared to pray for those too and be willing to change.

You will have to be the change you want in your husband.

Lesson 1: Because You Know Better

“Praying for Your Spouse” was posted earlier. In the next few posts I plan to share with you details of each lesson learned.

Like I said earlier, I tend to learn things the hard way. My hope is that what I learned the hard way will help someone to make better decisions and have a joyful, godly marriage.

I asked God this question. Inquiring minds want to know…

 “Why must I always be the one to say “I’m sorry” or to take the “high road”?

God’s answer to me… “Because you know better”.

My question included…”Why must I be the one to pray about it, to try to fix it, to educate/gain knowledge from the Word? Why can’t my spouse help with this?”

The responsibility for correcting the situation (applying God’s truth to the situation) falls to the spouse to which the problem is revealed. If you have an understanding of the cause and effect of the offensive behavior, you must be the one to war against the enemy on behalf of your spouse and your marriage.

There is a war for your marriage…to divide and conquer. The enemy of your soul is also the enemy of your marriage.

There are 3 problems I face to obey this truth from the Lord.

1. I have trouble controlling my tongue.

My mouth tends to run at a fast pace. Many times it out runs my better judgement.

I speak before thinking.

Proverbs 15:1 (NET) A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.

Proverbs 15:33 (ESV)”To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!”

Proverbs 18:21 (Amplified Bible)”Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].”

I am in management over 80-90 employees. Everyday I make quick decisions and snap judgements. My opinion at work is important (or so I think) and necessary to the business. However, at home my opinion is not necessary if it will divide, hurt, or offend. Sometimes what I want to say is not what I need to say.

This also includes “attitude”. How you say it is often more important than what you say.

You can create life or death in your marriage relationship. You can divide and drive a wider gap between yourself and your spouse and also between your spouse and God. Watch what you say and how you say it so you create life.

 2. I am prideful.

This is the most difficult to deal with. I am a Type A, get it done, I have all the answers personality.

1 Cor 13:4  Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Did you catch that? “boastful, proud, or demand its own way…and endures…”

I don’t want to follow God’s truth. I don’t want to be the only one to work on the problem and humble myself. I want to yell out everything my spouse does wrong. I want my problem validated and prove that I am in the right and my spouse in the wrong. I demand satisfaction!

You may be the only one right in your marriage. You really may have the answers to correct the problem. But we only see through our eyes of flesh and understand with a limited mind. We fail to remember that God, in His infinite wisdom, is the only one with all the answers. “Fixing” the problem is not “enforcing” biblical wisdom, it is “following” it.

3. I put more trust in fixing problems myself instead of trusting God.

Trust God.

Yelling, fussing, nagging, opinions, derogatory comments, bad attitudes…they will not help your situation. It feels good (sometimes). It feels like we are doing something, anything to correct the issues. We feel validated to express our opinions.

However, none of those things are mentioned in the Bible as possible solutions to any problem. In fact..

Prov 27:15 A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day;

How annoying and counterproductive.

To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This also includes relationships. You can also refer to it as the biblical law of “reaping and sowing”. If we change our actions to line up with the Word of God then we will see different reactions from our spouse.

In that moment when God answered my question I knew he heard every prayer ever prayed for my marriage. He also let me know that I am on the right track…putting it in HIS hands. Of course, that puts some responsibility back on me to search out His Word and practice it.

This may be difficult to do but your marriage is worth the effort.

 

Praying for your Spouse

I, unfortunately, know what it is like to be married to an unsaved person. I say unfortunate for him because he his still lives unsaved and the marriage ended.

I lived through the fiery trial incurring giant, gaping, wounds. Wounds I did not fully comprehend until the dust settled. I cannot even begin to list the deep wounds inflicted by the divorce (consequences to separating what God joined).

I believe we go through tests and trials 1. to make us tried like silver, and 2. to help others.

For example, a women who has been molested will learn much from that experience and  by the grace of God come out on the other side with a greater understanding of God’s grace, mercy, strength and ultimately, healing. She will be a valuable vessel used by God to help other women and to pray for others.

I don’t claim to be an awesome saint living with no sin and no mistakes. I am human and usually learn the hard way.

I just pray that what I learn the hard way (because of stubbornness usually) others will learn from my experience and never fall prey to the same mistakes.

You can judge or you can learn from my mistakes. My prayer is for the latter.

I learned much from 13 years of marriage but I learned so much more after the divorce. I sought God to teach me how to pray more effectively so I would never go through divorce again. Divorce should never be an option. Marriage is a blood covenant and a lifetime committment.

If you are contemplating divorce or separation please read this and give it a try first.

I still use the same principles for prayer with my husband (who is saved). He is human and therefore not perfect. Because we are human we will still face each other’s sins, failures and temptations. Satan never stops fighting and neither should we.

I learned…

1. “Why must I always be the one to say “I’m sorry” or to take the high road?”

God’s answer to me was “Because you know better”.

The responsibility for correcting the situation (applying God’s truth to the situation) falls to the spouse to which the problem is revealed. If you have an understanding of the cause and effect of the offensive behavior, you must be the one to war against the enemy.

So get busy!

2. “We do not fight against flesh and blood..” (your spouse)

We fight against principalities, and powers, and rulers of darkness (Satan and his kingdom). Your spouse is not the enemy.

Every time I am offended I revert to human nature and temptation to lash back in retaliation against the “person”.  That is the trap of the enemy! And I fall into it almost every time.

Jesus is the best example of how to respond to offense and abuse.

Forgiveness and love

After severe beating and abuse Jesus goes to the cross saying “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”. (I digress at this point–I am not saying to take beatings–that is another discussion).

Jesus saw the people as tools the enemy used against Him and also as souls that needed salvation. He showed great love and compassion.

  •  Earnestly seek God’s “agape” love (unconditional)
  •  Pray for spiritual eyes to see the heart of man the way Jesus does. So much of how we percieve problems and people are in direct opposition to the way Jesus sees them.
  •  Then go fight the enemy on your knees in prayer and fasting.

3. I learned how to pray the Word of God.

Inevitably, your spouse will have traits that are not in line with the Fruits of the Spirit (or any other Word of God). Start by placing his name in front of each fruit (trait) …”John is patient, John is kind, etc…”

Use that Sword!

Search out other scriptures that apply spiritually to your situation and pray those scriptures over your husband daily. This is spiritual warfare and effectual prayer.

4. Proclaim what is not yet as though it is.

Hebrews 11:1     Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (NLT)

Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

Not only do you proclaim the truth of God over your spouse in prayer but also proclaim it to your spouse. Not in a condescending manner or taunting. Proclaim his identity traits in Christ at every opportunity.

Caught being good!

When he shows patience in the smallest form praise him for it. Tell him “you are so patient” when he shows patience. When he shows love, praise him for it. “I feel so loved when you do that”, “I am so thankful I have you in my life. ” Even if the trait is faint and hard to see, find ways to tell him how wonderful he is. He may not be wonderful yet but God is changing him from the inside out.

5. Be the Godly example.

This is the hardest part. (for me anyway, because I’m stubborn and I want vendication)

1 Cor 7:13-14   And the woman which hath a husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

You can’t be the example as a “holier than thou” “throw it in your face” type of christian. You are the example when you retaliate and respond in love and forgiveness rather than bitterness, strife, anger, or resentment.

Fight against the evil of resentment. it will start as a “Keeper of Wrongs”. Keeping a list of every unkind deed or word he ever did. It will grow to resentment and eventually into bitterness.

Hebrews 12:15    Make sure that everyone has kindness from God so that bitterness doesn’t take root and grow up to cause trouble that corrupts many of you.

Bitterness will feed hate into a struggling marriage until separation or divorce seems the answer. Your spouse may succumb to this but you can’t. Jesus can set you free from all the bitterness. Once you are free you can effectively pray for your spouse.

Prayer for Bitterness–

 Father, forgive me for not forgiving my spouse as you commanded me to forgive. (Matt 6:14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.) You placed no limit on the amount of times we forgive. So forgive me and forgive me for keeping a record of wrongs.

I forgive (name) of every wrong he ever committed and every offense against me (list every one you can think of) I choose to forgive completely just as you forgive me and to remember those sins no more as far as the east is from the west. i release hm from any debt that is owed to me. He owes me nothing from this point on. I am due no repayment for wrongs against me. In place of anger, hurt, resentfullness, regret and bitterness I pray your great compassion and boundless love abides in me. I pray for grace that is sufficient in all circumstances. I declare that joy is my inheritance in all situations.Thank you for moving on my behalf in this marriage covenant. I Jesus name, Amen.

Do not grow weary in well-doing. When you feel weak or falter in fighting for your marriage especially when fighting what seems to be “alone”. Remember, you walk by faith not by sight. And so important…the battle is not yours, it is God’s. He fights on your behalf.

You are never fighting alone.

The Lord, commander of the hosts of Heaven fights for you!

%d bloggers like this: