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About this series
Precious in His Sight
Seeing Me Through Jesus' Eyes
This series, taught by Theresa Ingram, wife of Chip, helps women understand that they are fully forgiven, deeply loved, and have great worth because of their relationship with Christ. We all spend many hours and days trying to be someone significant, only to realize we often don't like the person we see in the mirror. Little do we know how precious we are in God's sight.More from this series
The goal of the teaching has been that each of us would learn how to reflect Christ in our world by the free expression of the truly unique individual that God has created you to be, the wonderful you that you are. And, God tells us that there is a calling upon each of our lives. Because of all the spiritual blessings that we possess, because of all that He has given us, because of what Christ has done in our lives, because of who we are, we have a responsibility to make an impact in the sphere of influence so that others will experience the love of God through us, and that we will bring the message of God's truth to them.
We have a responsibility, we have a calling, because of all the wonderful things that God has given to us. In Ephesians 2:10, it says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before Him that we should walk in them.” We have been called to do good works. We were all created, and prepared, to do God's work of love. And He has chosen us to be His hands, and His feet, and His voice, and His arms of love, and His ministers of good works to others. He says, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and then glorify your Father who is in heaven."
As we love someone who is unlovable, and as we give sacrificially of our time, and as we serve others, and we put their needs before our own, and as we use our gifts – our spiritual gifts, and abilities to build up the body of Christ – then the light of Christ shines brightly through those things, and people see Christ in us. They’ll see Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 5:20 it says, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ." We have been called to be God's ambassadors. We have bee n appointed by Him to be His ambassadors. And as an ambassador, we represent Him. We speak for Him. We influence others on behalf of Christ. And we're here, as His representatives, to tell others who He is. And God has entrusted us with this special job. He has entrusted this to all of His children. So, God didn't just give us a position in His royal family, and He didn't just give us a new identity, but He has given us the privilege of being His representative – of carrying His name, of being His witness to the world.
And He says to you that you are so significant to Him, that He is going to allow you to represent His name to the rest of the world, and that, as you do that, His power will work in you, and He will use you in a mighty way.
God's truth says about you - it says: I am a competent person, equipped by the Holy Spirit to carry out God's will in my life, in a way that pleases Him, regardless of what stage of growth I may be in at the present. My real importance in life is connected with the way I am touching other people's lives with the love of God, and the message of Christ.
Now, sometimes, though, it’s hard for us to believe that God would ever use us in a great way, or that we could ever do anything significant with our lives. And we think, Does my life really count for anything? You know, when I die, have I made any difference at all? You know, we all, down deep inside, long to be significant. We long to know that we’re doing something important with our lives. But, sometimes, we wonder, When it’s all said and done, you know, have I made any difference? Have I made any impact? Does anything really matter? And, What will people remember about me? What will they remember about me when I die?
Well, many times, the only hindrance standing in the way of us having a great impact for God in our lives is us. We are the only thing standing in the way. And, sometimes, the other thing is that we wrongly perceive what those significant activities are. What are the things that are truly significant to God? We wrongly perceive what those are. And so, this morning, we’re going to talk about four roadblocks, four negative beliefs that we might have, that hinder God being able to use us in the way that He wants to.
When my children were little, I just loved reading storybooks to them. And I still love to read children's books. I read lots of the kids’ books that we’ve put in the library, just because I like to read them. Sometimes, I would read be reading a story to my kids, and there was a truth in it that just really spoke to me. That would happen a lot and. And there was one particular story that I’ve always remembered, and the name of the story is Wings. And it is about a little garter snake, and a caterpillar.
And, one day, this little caterpillar slid down from the branch of a willow tree. And a young garter snake came out of the flowerbed, and they introduced themselves to each other. The garter snake said, "Everybody knows me. They admire my golden stripes, and my shiny, dark green skin." Well, the little caterpillar began to stretch, and curl down softly. “You don't do that right," said the garter snake. “Can't you put more movement into it, more wiggle and twist?" The garter snake began to show the caterpillar how he could twist – do an up-and-over, a side-to-side, and whirl into a circle.
The caterpillar tried again, and did her best to dance like the garter snake. "How's that?" she asked proudly. "Terrible. You'll never be a snake." The garter snake looked at her sadly. “I'm afraid you just haven't got the talent.”
Well, the caterpillar was getting tired, and decided if she could rest for a while, maybe she would be able to learn. So, the caterpillar crawled back into the tree, and began to spin something fine and glossy, and tied herself to a branch. You're a funny one, thought the snake. The snake glided away to another part of the garden, and forgot about the caterpillar.
Well, spring came, and the garter snake remembered the caterpillar. He wondered what had become of her, and went back to the tree to find out. All he could see was a strong-looking bundle hanging from the stem of a leaf. "Caterpillar, is that you? My, you're a sleepy head! Do you know how long you've been there?" The little caterpillar stretched out a sticky wing to dry in the air, and then she stretched out another wing. “Wings!” exclaimed the garter snake. “How on earth, Caterpillar? What have you done?" "I didn't do anything," the butterfly said. "I really didn't do anything."
The garter snake begged her to think: “There must be something you can tell me. I must grow wings!” A bird looked out from her house. "Why aren't you happy the way you are?" she asked. "I’m happy just to be me," she said. "That's all right for you to say," said the garter snake, "you already have wings." He begged the caterpillar, again, to tell him what she did. "I didn't do anything. I just went to sleep." The garter snake said, "Oh, that must be it – plenty of rest. I'll go to sleep and see what happens."
Well, the garter snake slid over to the rock, and yawned, but he wasn't sleepy. Then, the bird said, "My poor boy, don't waste your time. You'll never grow wings." "Why not?" asked the little snake. "Why can't I grow wings?" "Because your parents didn't have wings, that's why," said the bird. "My parents had wings," said the butterfly. "So did mine," said the bird.
Sadly, the garter snake said, “You mean I'll never be able to fly?” And he tried not to cry. "No, you won't," the butterfly said, "but you dance like a dream!" "Yes I do, don't I?" said the garter snake, and he did his special twist and twirl. “There are not many as good as I am. I guess I like myself the way I am.”
I thought that was a pretty cute story. And the garter snake, you see, thought he was pretty special, until he began to compare himself with the butterfly. Then, he became dissatisfied with how he was uniquely made, even though he could dance like a dream.
Our first roadblock, to God being able to use us in the special way that He wants to is, comparing myself with others: If I could be like her, if I could have her spiritual gifts, if I could have her money, or if I had her abilities, or her personality, then God could really use my life. If I could be like her . . .
You know, it’s looking around at what others are doing, and what their gifts are and we start thinking, That person’s gifts are better than mine. Or I may become envious of the way God is using her life. And so, then, I try to be like them, or to be better than them, and I fail to see, and to appreciate, the special gifts and abilities that God has given me.
Well, in 2 Corinthians 10:12, it tells us what God says about comparison. It says, “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves, but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding." He says that when we compare ourselves with others, we don't really understand who we are. We are not really being content with how God has made us, and we’re not accepting the special qualities that God gave us, or we think that our gifts don't really matter, and that our gifts aren't really as important as someone else's.
We can find an example of this in John 21. That's a real interesting passage, here, that, after Jesus' death and resurrection, He appeared to His disciples, and He spent time with them at the Sea of Galilee. And Jesus dearly loved all of His disciples; they were very special to Him, and they were each one chosen very specifically by Him. Each had a unique background, and personality, and gifts that God would use, in a special way, to build His Church, and to proclaim the Kingdom of God.
John 21, versus 20 to 22: "Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had leaned back on His breast at the supper and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’” Now, Peter is referring to John, here. He’s looking back, and he sees John. “And Peter, therefore, seeing John, says to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’
Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’”
Peter was talking to Jesus, and he said, "Well, what about John? How are You going to use his life?" You know, “What's gonna happen to John?”
And He says, "You follow Me, in what I have called you to do, and I will take care of how I will use other people."
And John and Peter were called to very different types of ministry, very different types of service for the Lord. And they were not to question why, and they were not to compare their ministries with each other.
But they were to be obedient to God in what He wanted them to do with their unique gifts, and abilities. And God would use each of them to have an impact in their world for Christ.
Out of the Life Application Commentary, I read this. It says, “If we want to follow Jesus, we must be totally committed to obeying Him, but God's call and the result of that obedience are different for every person. God can use all kinds of people. He has specific plans and service for the impulsive Peters, the thoughtful and sensitive Johns, and the forceful Pauls. God takes into consideration each person's nature and abilities.
Each Christian is called and guided by God, and is accountable to no one but God. Christians should not make comparisons among themselves, or judge others regarding how each is fulfilling God's plan. We must be content with where God has placed us, and not be jealous about what He has given others to do.” It tells us not to compare ourselves with other people, but Jesus' command is to, “Come, follow Me.”
See, that's what He wants us to do. And as we do that – as we follow Him with the unique gifts, and the abilities, and our backgrounds, and our personalities, and even in our pain, and in our struggles – even if what we have seems small, in comparison to others, He’ll use us, in a great way, to spread His love, and the message of salvation, in this world.
So, God wants to use you, in the unique way that He’s created you. No one else is like you, and no one else has the sphere of influence that you have. You think about that. The people that you are connected with, that are in an area that you have an influence over – no one has that but you. And your life may be the only connection with Christ that some people will ever have.
Byron Michow wrote a little psalm, called, “Me.” And he says, “All my life I've tried to please others. All my life I've put on an act for others. I will not do this, for if I spend my time trying to be someone else, who will spend time being me?”
God wants you to be you, because He has gifted you, and given you abilities, and a personality, that will have an impact in the sphere of influence where He has placed you, and what He wants you to do. And, sometimes, our deeds seem so small, and petty, that we think they're insignificant.
God watched, as the widow put her couple of pennies in the offering that day, and as she gave all that she had to Him. And you know what? It was no small thing to God. It may seem insignificant in the world, but it was no small thing to God.
There are no small deeds that are done, in God's eyes, when they are done out of a heart of love towards Him. And there are no spiritual gifts so small, and so unimportant, that they are not critical to the health of the Body of Christ. We need to remember that we're all important. God needs you, and He needs your gifts, just the way you are.
There's an older lady in our church, and she just loves to bake cookies. I'm sure some of you know who she is. She loves to bake cookies, and she's good at it! She can make all kinds of little, fancy cookies. And she has had a ministry of encouragement, by baking cookies, and sharing those cookies with other people.
And our family has been one of those that have been able to receive her cookies. And our kids call her, affectionately, “the cookie lady,” because we know, when a holiday rolls around, or, sometimes, just in between, there’s gonna be a plate of cookies left for us. And you know, God has used her offering of love to encourage us, so many times. And it's been amazing – and she doesn't even know this – that she would leave cookies for us, and it was right when we were having people over, or we were reaching out, in some way, to people, and I didn't have the time to make something. And those cookies were there and, they were wonderful.
God’s using her. And it may seem insignificant, compared to other things that we think about, but it’s not insignificant to God. And she’s doing that in the will of God, and her reward will be great in heaven because of that.
Well, if you're taking prayer seriously – let’s talk about something else that sometimes seems insignificant to be involved in. If you're taking prayer seriously in your life, you're already having a great impact. You already are. We tend to think that, when we're doing something out there, when we’re accomplishing these great things, doing some kind of activity, it's something that others can see – we tend to think that that’s really having an impact, that we're really doing something. But you know what? Prayer is the most significant activity that we could ever be involved in, that we could ever do.
There's a prayer team that's praying for this retreat – they’re praying for you, and for all that’s happened here. And, you know, probably, hardly anybody in here knows who they are. We don't know who they are. But they are having a great impact, and it’s evidenced by what has happened here this weekend.
Prayer is the most significant thing that we can do. Prayer is a vehicle through which God empowers our ministries, and our lives, to accomplish His will. And I'm convinced that, in the storehouses of heaven, there are all kinds of blessings, and answers of prayer, for which people didn't even bother to ask.
We need to ask Him. He says, “The effective prayer of a righteous person accomplishes much,” in James. It accomplishes much. And, you know, it's easy to get out there, and do things that look good, but God might not be in them. And He uses those whose hearts are tender, and open towards Him.
And only by spending time in prayer, and seeking His guidance for our lives, and for our ministries, will we experience the power in those activities and works that we do. And so, that's not insignificant to God. You're having a great impact if you're praying.
So, roadblock number one is: comparing myself with others. She who measures herself, and compares herself with others is without understanding, because she doesn't see the whole picture. She doesn't understand who she really is.
Well, the second roadblock is: focusing on my weakness and failures, instead of God. And that is, Well my, my life is too messed up. My life is too broken for God to use me. He'd never use me. I used to believe that.
Second Corinthians 12:9 and 10 says, "And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness! Most gladly, therefore, I would rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
You see, it's when we're weak that we realize that I can't do this on my own, that I need the Lord, I can't do this in my own strength, and that we'll stop, and we'll allow the power of God to begin to work in our lives. And we realize, I need God if this is going to happen. I need the Lord. He will be the one that will give me strength. And as I yield my life to Him, then there's no telling what God can do. You will be amazed at what He can do. He says that we should set our eyes continually upon Him: “Because He is at My right hand, I will not be shaken.”
He will be there in a powerful way. And God wants to take ordinary people, like you, and me, and, with all of our cracks, all of our failures, and all of our weaknesses – and we all have cracks. Some of our cracks are just bigger than others. But we all have them. And He wants to use us, as His witnesses, in this world. And God uses our broken past. He uses the sins in our lives that we have confessed to Him. He uses the failures that we’ve experienced in our lives to help other people grow, to teach other people, and give them hope, as they see how God has changed us. He uses those things.
And He says, "All things work together for good to those who love Him." God promises us that He will always bring good out of everything that is offered up to Him, that is given to Him, with a sincere heart. Even though we know that we will experience the consequences of our wrong decisions, and we'll experience, at times, the discipline for our sins, as those sins are offered up to Him, He’ll use them, in a great way. And He’ll use us to impact other people, to help them.
And the One who loves you with an everlasting love, who loves all of His children with an everlasting love, never gives up on us.
And He’ll bring something good out of the worst of experiences that we’ve been through –whatever it is. I don't care what you’ve been through. I don't care what you've done in your life. God can use that for good in another person's life. And He wants to do that, if you’ll let Him do it. So, you've never messed up, you've never blown it, too greatly for God not to be able to put the pieces back together, and transform our broken vessels into something useful to the Master.
Well, when God's people were enslaved in Egypt, He allowed a Hebrew baby, named Moses, to be raised in the Pharaoh's home, by the daughter of the Pharaoh. And He, I think, supernaturally, allowed Moses to be placed in this place of authority, in this position where he would, one day, be able to help God's people. But Moses – you know what he did? He blew it, big time! God had taken the time to allow this baby to be found in the water, and to be raised all these years in this place of influence, and authority – Moses blew it.
Do you know what he did? He murdered an Egyptian, and then, he fled for his life. He ran to the land of Midian, and he spent the next 40 years of his life there – 40 years – while God's people were still enslaved, and in bondage in Egypt. And you know, God had placed Moses there for a special purpose, to deliver God's people, but he blew it. How do you think he felt about that?
But God didn't give up on Moses. He didn't give up on him. God came to Moses, in Midian, in the wilderness, and He commissioned Moses to go back to Egypt, and deliver His people, to go back and do what He planned for him to do.
And Moses, after giving excuse after excuse of why he just couldn't do it – he finally obeyed the call of God, and he stepped out in faith. And do you know how old he was when he went back? He was 80. He went back, and he led God's people out of Egypt, and he obeyed the call of God. He stepped out in faith, and he did what God called him to do.
And so, you see, you can't mess up too much. You can't mess up so much that God won't take you into His arms, forgive you, and give you new marching orders. He wants you to do something with your life.
God used King David, even after he committed adultery, and murder, because of David's repentant heart. And God even calls him “a man after God's own heart.” I mean, even after he did all these things. That's how God referred to David.