Because we Christians are always striving to do our very best so that our lives are pleasing to the Lord, I think sometimes we get a little too hard on ourselves. Yes, there is room for improvement in all of our lives. Every January I tend to set new goals for myself. I want to lose weight, do more exercise, spend more time in the Word, spend more time in prayer, etc., etc., etc. I saw a news report recently that said January is the most profitable month of the year for exercise clubs because people come in and sign year long contracts, and then only come in to actually use the facilities a few times. By the end of February, they never see most of those people back at the gym the rest of the year.
When we don't perform up to our predetermined goals, then we tend to get down on ourselves. Some of that is healthy "if" it motivates us to repent and do better. But always being "down" on ourselves because we keep falling short of our goals opens the door to discouragement and depression and … just a general low self esteem that is not scriptural. As I was praying about this letter I heard one of the most amazing verses in the bible floating up in my consciousness. It was the Holy Spirit reminding me of this priceless truth spoken from the lips of Jesus Himself:
Luke 7:28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
Every time I read that verse my mind goes back to all of the Old Testament heroes of faith. What about Noah, Abraham, Moses, Sampson, Samuel, King David? What about the women of faith like Rahab and Sarah? These men and women had such great faith they literally changed the generation they lived in. Through their obedience to God they shook the world and shaped the course of history. Not to mention the prophets like Elijah and Elisha who demonstrated the power of God to the world!
Jesus said there were none greater than John the Baptist. Yet the least person in the kingdom of God is greater than he? How can that be? I remember the day the understanding came. I will never forget how it changed my self esteem for all time. All of the saints from the Old Testament loved God and obeyed God but they were not "born" of God. Jesus told Nicodemus plainly the requirement to enter into the kingdom of God:
John 3:3-7 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
For years I would see billboards along side the highway that would show the faces of children of all different races and the caption would read, "We Are All The Children Of God." That sounds so right, but then one day this verse stood out to me:
Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
All the people of the world are God's "creation," but only those with faith in Jesus Christ have become God's Spirit-born children. As great as John the Baptist was, the new birth was not made available until after the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. John loved God and served God … but he was not God's child. The only way to become God's child is to be "born again" just like Jesus told Nicodemus.
When I start feeling low and down on myself I use these truths to build me back up again. Even with all of my faults, I am God's own child. I have been born of His Spirit. I am His offspring and He loves me with an unfailing love. He loves me just as I am … but He also loves me too much to leave me like I am. And that's where change is possible. Of course we are to strive to be better and better, more conformed to the image of Christ. But we are not to be miserable along the way. We are to enjoy our God and enjoy our lives even as we press forward. Even the apostle Paul did not consider himself to have "arrived."
Philip 3:12-14 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Remember, you are highly esteemed by God. You may feel like the absolute "least" in the kingdom of God but if you are born again, you are God's Spirit-born offspring and you are greater than all of the Old Testament prophets.
Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!
Your friend and co-laborer,
Gary Carpenter Ministries|
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