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About this series
Discover Your True Self
How to Silence the Lies of Your Past and Actually Experience Who God Says You Are
Who are you? Who says so? You? Your family? Your friends? From the first two chapters of the book of Ephesians, Chip helps you discover who God says you are as a believer in Christ. Understanding your position, the freedom, and the power you possess as a child of the Most-High God, enables you to move beyond the struggles and the uncertainty we all experience to living an amazing life of peace and assurance. It equips you to serve others with humility and patience and it empowers you to forgive and share with lavish generosity. People will wonder what your story is and with the help of this series, you'll be able to answer with confidence.More from this series
The first most important thing about you, as a person is how you see God.
The second most important thing about you, as a person, is what comes into your mind when you think about yourself. That collage, that mirror of how you see yourself.
There are all kinds of fears that shape us, but there are not just fears that warp our view of ourselves. There are certain feelings. And at the top of the list of the feelings, that probably does more damage to how you see yourself and impacts every relationship and nearly all your behavior is a feeling called shame.
If you’ll pull out your notes, I want you to get an actual definition. Shame is a painful feeling of regret, self-hate, and dishonor. Brené Brown describes it as a painful feeling or experience of believing that you are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. It’s interesting you can teach something and then have interaction and the interaction after the last service really shaped how this one came together; what people shared with me.
I had a number of really great illustrations that I shared, but they weren’t even close to the number of people sitting in this room and last night who lived with the shame that there is an abortion in your past, and you have never shared it with anyone. Or you are a man who pushed someone to have an abortion.
And when that bubbles up to the surface, there is a part of you that feels unlovable and like you are being punished. There are a number of people in this room that have an unbiblical divorce that they just got fed up and you broke away or someone left you or you have a divorce in your past and, literally, people don’t know. It was twenty-some years ago. Because, somehow, you think that marks you as a second-class Christian. That it’s the unpardonable sin.
For others, you – drug addiction, sexual promiscuity. And then you have had this major change and now you’re walking with God and, yet, there’s just parts of your past that when those things come up, certain songs you hear on the radio, man, the last thing in the world you want is a friend or any of your kids to know what you “used to be like.” It’s shame. And that shame, that does something to you. You are who you are. Some of your struggles, the drivenness, the desire for everything to look good and for your kids to be so much different than you and, man, it just shapes us. And for others in this room, it wasn’t personal things that you did, it’s some things that people did to you.
It’s interesting to meet people that look really great and find yourself in a living room or at a coffee shop and as my wife has done every year with different groups of women – and they all look great – and within, she never tells me names and she is super with confidentiality, she said, “Chip, you cannot believe the pain in our church. One woman broke down in tears as her father committed suicide and it has marked her life. I have three women out of the twenty-two that were sexually abused as children. One woman said she has never told anyone she currently has a son in prison, but she feels ashamed, and therefore…”
And what I want you to know is shame is debilitating. Shame marks your life. Shame is what keeps you from believing that you are worthy and it’s like BBs off of a tank when I talk about God as your Father and you’re adopted and you’re valuable and you’re redeemed and He paid for you and He loves you and all that is just like BBs off a tank where you feel like, I’ve got to earn it. And I’ve got to perform.
Or some of you are living in shame right now with private lives and duplicity and addictions because you medicate and you feel inferior and you are desperately afraid like all the rest of us: if someone really knew who the real you was, they would reject you.
We are going to go to a very sensitive place. Notice in your notes: shame usually results in guilt and self-depreciation. Here’s the good news: but it can also lead us to search for God and His answers.
I know what I just shared – I just wish sometimes I would have a video camera and you could see you the way I see you. After what I just shared, if you could see the faces and the body language, you know what? You would actually feel really good because you would go, Wow! I am not the only one and I was trying not to show it.
Everyone in this room has been deeply marked by shame. Some far more than others. In fact, the unhealthy things that happen when that impacts our life is we have feelings of inferiority, often, that people never see. Self-destructive behaviors.
Within the last twelve hours, I have heard of two specific suicides of people whose life was going well, they lost their job, and they just couldn’t face the future. Self-pity, passivity. Some of you haven’t taken a risk in so long, you can’t remember. Some of you, when we talk about getting in a group or using your gifts – no way. Because you are convinced that you’re not competent, that you’ll fail, and that people will think less of you – just like your parents did or that teacher did or your peers did.
Withdrawing and hiding is a very common response. For some of us, we go the other direction. I’m a driven person. I have covered my shame and my inadequacy and my insecurity by being the ultra-overachiever. I was the shame of the shortest kid in my class who couldn’t make it and I had been living most of my life at least apart from Christ with, “I’ll show you! I’ll show you what someone really short and really skinny can do if I work harder than everyone else.”
And that imprint, that imprint has taken years to transition and to understand: I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I am loved and accepted by my Father.
There are some even in this room that, when you look in the mirror, it’s painful because you don’t like how you look. And if you’re a young woman in our world, you have been so overwhelmed with: you’re not skinny enough, you’re not beautiful enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not anything enough.
Girls have never been more successful. GPA, college enrollment, all the rest. And they have never felt more like they don’t measure up. Teen depression, teen suicide – boys and girls – is off the charts in our day and climbing. And a lot of it is parents creating a world that you need to be a super-girl or a super-guy and have everything together and if they don’t excel at everything, and no matter how much the excel, they are driven to the next level. And all with the good intentions of parents who want them to be “successful” and when they don’t measure up, they feel shame.
Turn in your notes and let’s get to the answer, because shame is powerful and debilitating, but grace is more powerful. So, what is God’s antidote to shame? From the first time that shame entered the planet, it happened in a garden. And it was true shame, not false shame.
It was the shame of knowing the right thing to do and wanting to be God, wanting to usurp God and believing that if you would do this thing, that you would be just like God. And God has dealt with shame in that first garden then the way He does now.
First, He asked a question to get you and me to be honest. “Have you eaten?” Have you done something wrong? Second question, face your shame, “Who told you that you were naked?” And then finally, He covers their shame and He forgives. And even repairs and starts a journey of healing.
The Bible’s promise is that if, “Any man or if any woman is in Christ, you are a new creation. The old things,” literally, the tense is passed away. They are gone. “Behold,” it’s a process, “all things become new.”
God’s antidote to shame is the gospel. His antidote to shame is that God the Son came and lived a perfect life, died in your place, rose from the dead, and offers healing and restoration. But how does that work? That’s easy to say. How does that really work? And if it’s true, why are there so many Christians whose lives don’t seem to be that much different or that privately are still living with shame after years and years and years of being a follower of Christ?
The apostle Paul is going to show us exactly why that is and how it can be different. In the book of Ephesians, the context is he has reminded that Ephesian church and us of this dramatic new standing with God, that we have every spiritual blessing in Christ, and then in one long sentence, verses 3 to 14, he said, “Remember, you are chosen; you are wanted.” He said, “You are adopted. You have a Father.” He said, “You are redeemed; you are valuable. You are secure. You have been sealed with the Spirit.”
All these amazing things he says, “These things are true of us.” And then he does something. Because I don’t know about you, some of these things I have known have been true of me for years and years and years and years and yet, I still try to overachieve. I still have the same old things. And I’m guessing you do too.
So, how do you get things from your head, truth that you agree with, to truth that is not just with you but in you. The apostle Paul models something for us. Look at verse 15. “For this reason” – what reason? “since all these things are true of you,” the apostle Paul writes, “ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus, and your love for all the saints,” notice how many times he talks about the power of prayer, “I haven’t stopped giving thanks for you.” Focus on the change and what has happened in your life.
“Remembering you in my prayers, I keep asking,” present tense, continually, “I keep on asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,” here’s his request, “may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation.” And spirit of wisdom is insight. Insight and awareness. It’s that “ah-ha” moment that God would, by His Spirit, as we pray for others and pray for ourselves, would take these truths about adoption and about redemption and, Oh! This is how it actually applies to me and my history and my shame and my failures.
And not only He would give me the spirit of wisdom, but a spirit of revelation. In other words, the word just means that the truth would be unveiled. That you would see it like never before. And the goal is that you would know God better.
Please put a box around the word know in your notes. There are two primary words in Greek for know. This is one of them. It means an intimate, personal experience. We know by way of personal experience. He is praying that all those truths will go from their head to their heart so they would know in their soul, in their emotions that how they would view themselves would completely change, because they would begin to actually believe and experience: God is my Father. I am actually wanted. My dad didn’t want me, but God does. I am actually valuable. I was called a loser, but God says I am valuable. And those things would go from here to here because we would see God for who He is.
But that’s only the first prayer. Notice the second prayer. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” You might write above that, grammatically, it’s actually that the eyes of your heart, having been enlightened. It already occurred.
The moment that you receive Christ, the eyes, not just of your intellect, but of your heart, the understanding ability of what God has done in your life, it begins and it’s a process. He is praying that the eyes of your heart, having been enlightened – why? “In order that you may know,” and then he is going to give us three things that you may know.
Guess what you should do with the second word know – put a box around it, that’s right. This is the other word for know. This is a word for facts, completely objective. Ironclad, it’s data, it’s true. Two plus two is four. E=mc2. This is just absolute facts. First, I am praying for an experiential knowledge of what is true of you. Second, I am going to pray that three specific facts are true of you, that you could go, “Yes! That’s true.”
Number one fact: the hope to which He has called you. And in your notes, just jot: my salvation. By the way, when the Bible talks about hope, it’s not like we do in English.
We hope our kids turn out right. We hope if we are single we meet the right person. That’s called wishful thinking. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We hope it doesn’t rain when we’re having a picnic.
But the word hope in the Bible means: an absolute certainty. In other words, the blessed hope is Christ is returning. There’s a new heaven, a new earth, a new life. My hope is in Him means it will never change.
And so, as a fact, not – he wants you to understand and believe that this calling, this new relationship, it’s certain. There is confidence. Your past has been put behind you.
Second fact is that the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints. It’s a fact. Now, did you notice, earlier we studied, we talked about our inheritance. Put a circle around the word His. Who is it talking about? He wants you to know the fact that not only is your hope absolutely secure, but he wants you to know the riches, the glorious riches of God’s inheritance in you.
I have tried to explain this for many years – there’s a sense of awe that I can’t get other people to grasp and I can’t put it into words until this morning. And I was thinking of this this morning as I was praying.
And I thought, What does this really mean? And then I thought, Chip, you got to adopt two kids. Yeah. You have your estate plan done. Yeah. When you die, those two kids like your other two kids are going to get an inheritance. But how have they been your inheritance? And I thought: for whatever amount of money I am going to leave them is so miniscule compared to my inheritance. I have had two young men become my sons. I have watched them grow up and change. They have brought joy to me that is inexpressible. I watched them go through ups and downs and then marry well. I have watched one write songs that people all around the world worship Jesus through. And another one learn a skill that he heals people’s bodies and tells them about Christ the way he does.
And them, between them, they have given us five grandchildren. And what I realize is my inheritance – they are so wonderful. Are you ready for this? What if you believed that’s how God saw you?
What if you believed that, yes, you get an inheritance, but what it – it’s an absolute fact the heavenly Father, the Creator of the world goes, You are My treasure. And, yes, you have your ups and your downs and you have failed and you have had struggles and My Son has taken care of that. And there is coming a day, not only today when you change and you grow and it brings me such joy and you talk to Me and we get connected. But then there is going to be a final day where you and I, forever and ever – and there will be no sin, there will be no shame. And you are My treasure. He says, That’s what I want you to believe as a fact.
The third thing is the incomparable great power – who? For us who believe. And then he describes this power and he literally takes out his thesaurus because he just can’t communicate clearly enough the extent of the power that is inside every genuine follower of Christ.
He says, “That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ,” and then he gives us three specific: if you want to think about power, this is awesome! Let me give you three examples of how great, how surpassing, this actual power is inside every, single believer the moment you receive Christ.
He says it’s the same kind of power that was exerted in Christ when, one, He was raised from the dead. And not only that, but seated at the Father’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Where is that? Far above rule, authority, power, and dominion. That’s, in the Jewish mindset, those were these classes of angels and principalities.
And every title that can be given. In this world or in the world to come. Second, “And God placed all things under His feet,” that’s authority. He’s at the right hand of God, this is the authority. And third, “He appointed Him,” Jesus, “to be head over everything of the Church, which is His body,” us, “the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.”
He is reaching, reaching, reaching. Are you ready for this? This first word that I put in bold: power. Guess what word we get in English: dynamite. It’s dynamis. He says: this power that dwells in you, when you feel like, I can’t break through the shame. I can never change and I can never learn to be patient enough. I’m not a good parent. I’m never going to – I can’t break this addiction. He says: this power is the power like dynamite that has capacity and potential.
The second word is working and we get our word energy. It’s an operational power. It’s not just capacity, but it’s the kind of power that makes things happen and brings about change.
The third word is mighty. And the word mighty here is used of bodily strength or muscular force. And the last word is strength and it’s power to overcome obstacles, resistance, or control.
It’s literally the apostle Paul goes, Do you have any idea not only who you really are, but what God has actually given you? Now, here’s the question: how do you access that? If you’re thinking much with me right now, if that is really true of every, single person here whom the Spirit of Christ lives in, or anybody watching or listening someday, somewhere – how do you access that to overcome shame, the fear of punishment, the fear of rejection, the fear of death? That’s where we’re going to go.
He’s going to explain it very, very clearly and then I’m going to take this passage that we just taught and I want to now help you see: what does this truth look like in your life and mine everyday world?
How do we overcome true and false shame? We are living in a day when shame is viewed as a psychological term and any shame that you have is not your fault. There is true shame.
True shame is the kind of shame of your past failures, your moral lapses, your greed, your immorality and mine, our manipulation, our lies, the way that we use people. Stuff that we have done or are doing. We should feel, we should feel a sense of regret, a sense of: I blew it. A sense of: I don’t measure up.
But there’s also the shame that is false shame, cultural standards, ones your parents or the culture put on you. Ones even that the Church – the Church has made a lot of people feel shameful. Religion in many ways, regardless of the background, has tried to control people through shame and get them to behave in certain ways by shaming them into it.
Well, how do you break through of that? Number one, you receive Christ. We talked about it last week. “As many as receive Christ, to them He gives the” – what is our word? “power to become children of God, even those who believe in His name.”
I’m just, I want to pause just for a moment here. In a church like ours that talks a lot about discipleship, that talks a lot about spiritual growth, there is a danger that you can come here and you can sit and you can learn and you can think, I’m on this gradual journey and I am putting some of these things into practice, but you even start to agree with what is true, but you have never crossed the line.
You have to be born again. There has to be a certain day, at a certain time when you say, It’s not about me getting some self-improvement with a little Jesus help. I have sinned before a holy God. I am in desperate need.
But Christ has paid the penalty for my sin. At this moment in time, I am telling You that I don’t measure up, I am placing all my faith on Christ, and I’m asking You to come into my life to save me and I want to follow You the rest of my days. If you have never crossed that line, can I encourage you? Today is the day.
Don’t let it go by. There is no power and everything I am talking about does not apply to anyone that is outside of Christ. Not because God doesn’t want you. It’s we want God on our terms.
I don’t know what you pray about. Right? I know for most of us, prayer can be a challenge, right?
When I am stuck or even when I am not stuck, one of the things I pray for me, I pray for my wife, I pray for all my kids, I pray for the elders, I pray for our staff, and I pray for my friends.
And God answers this prayer of, Father, as I think about my grown boys and my daughter, and my grandkids, Father, I am asking You, will You give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation into who You really are? Would You help them to grasp in their inner man and in their hearts how much You love them? Would You help them to understand that You are their Father, that You have adopted them, that You have redeemed them, that You have sealed them. God, would You take the truths that they are learning and would You help them to grasp who you really are? Because you know why? When God answers that prayer, guess what, it deals with shame, it deals with fear, it deals with rejection, it deals with so much junk.
And so, when Paul is wanting the Ephesian church to live out their faith, what does He do? What is His game plan to get it from their head to their heart? What did he do? The answer is prayer. Why don’t you say it together? He prayed. Pray that for you. God will answer that prayer.
Then third, we need to believe three historical facts. Fact number one is: my past no longer defines me. Right? Verse 18. He said, “I want you to know about the hope of your calling.” It is certain. Your past doesn’t define you anymore. In fact, the psalmist put it this way: “As far as the east is from the west, so far as He removed our transgressions from us.”
For many of you in this room and for a lot of people watching and listening, I will tell you this, whether they have been a Christian six months, six years, or six decades, your past still defines you. And part of it is because you have never let that shame come to the surface, been honest about it, and let God work in it.
I have two heroes. A number of heroes, but two people that are really big heroes in my life that I have gotten to know. One is a lady named Valerie Hill. And another is a lady named Theresa Ingram. I know one a lot better than the other.
Valerie Hill had an abortion. For many years, she kept it a secret. Valerie Hill realized it can’t be a secret. It was a mistake. A mistake for which she was forgiven.
Then she recruited a team. And there are hundreds, thousands of women, thousands and thousands of women whose lives are completely different, who have been loved and healed. There are thousands of babies that are alive because instead of living in her shame, she said, “I am going to take the shame and God’s forgiveness – that’s not who I am. I am His daughter and He wants to turn my shame into His fame and He has made me a trophy on His mantel. He has given me hope; I can give hope to others.”
My wife lived with tremendous shame. She was abandoned in her first marriage by an unbeliever who ran off with another woman and found herself with two small babies and someone cared enough to verbally share the gospel. Her boss loved her and every day told her, in the workplace, “Jesus loves you. He is going to help you. Jesus loves you.”
She ended up hearing that for a year, went to a little church where he was a lay preacher, listened to him preach and it was like – nothing. She is walking out to the car. Little Mrs. McGrady, like, eighty-five years old. She is opening the car, putting these two babies in the car, “Hey, young lady?” “Yeah.” “Do you want to be saved?” She said, “Yes.” “Let’s go back in that church and ask God to come into your life.” She did. The whole church did. She knelt at the altar. That lady didn’t know her. That lady was bold. She was confident. My wife came to Christ.
You know where she felt shame? I was in seminary and we had another seminary student tell my wife, “I didn’t know they let people like you in here.” I remember at our first church, she didn’t tell anybody. She wouldn’t tell anyone her background: “I don’t want to go through that again.” She felt like a second-class citizen.
She felt so shameful – my two older boys, are you ready for this? We have a picture in our house and they were in our wedding. So, two little four or five-year-olds, four-year-olds, four-and-a-half-year-olds. And they are in our wedding and we have a wedding picture. Well, Ryan gets to be, he’s our third son, he gets to be six years old and he asked this classic question, “Hey, Mommy, how come I didn’t get to be in the wedding like Eric and Jason?”
And she realized her shame was so deep she was afraid to tell our own son and we happened to go through a thing at Dallas Seminary where, thank God for Bill Lawrence, he helped her understand: you know what? Hey, the Church may shame you; God doesn’t. You are His precious daughter.”
And she told our son and then when we went to Santa Cruz Bible Church, the first thing she did is she gave her testimony and God opened up a world. In fact, I think about it now. I was thinking about these cards and I talk about part of her journey – she was damaged in multiple ways. And part of this renewing your mind, these cards, is what she did thirty-some years ago.
Then she did them with our daughter and then one day I was talking to the guys at Living on the Edge – “I think there are a lot of women who are struggling.” So, we put one of her series on about this. Then they made these cards. Our chief operating officer said, “Chip, I don’t want to make you feel bad, but we have never had anything, any response like these cards.
This is a raw nerve. Her shame became God’s fame and people have found hope and love, not because she has it all together, but they found hope and love because she was willing to say, “Yes, this is a part of my past. Part were my mistakes. Part were mistakes that people did to me. But I am a daughter of the King. He is my Father. I am redeemed. I am adopted. I am secure. This is who I really am, so I can share that. I don’t have – there’s no pretense.”
Can I ask you? What are your secrets? Where are you still hiding? Is your past still dominating you? You might write in your notes: I am free in Christ.
My question is: will you activate that freedom? It’s heavy, isn’t it? Literally, as I said that, it doesn’t happen very often, but it’s like I sensed the Spirit of God go, Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo.
And a shameful something about so many of you came to the surface. And the moment you had was, Would I be willing, in a safe place, to go public with this and turn my shame into God’s fame and let Him use my hurt, either done to me or my mistake to help someone else?
We are going to learn in a minute that that’s where the power that you already have, power is perfected in weakness.
Second fact: my future happiness is guaranteed. Think about that. Well, where do you get that? The riches of His inheritance. You are His child! You’re His treasure. It’s guaranteed. You may have ups, you may have downs, you may have some big mistakes, your kids may not turn out quite right, you may never get married, you may have a business that grows and then you may go down the tubes. You can, you may have a big failure, but here’s – can I tell you something? You’re here right now – hold it right here – you die, you meet Jesus, you are His treasure, you get a new body in a perfect environment.
You will experience the absolute ultimate happiness. Nothing and no one can ever – your future is a guaranteed happiness. What if you lived your life as though, I can’t fail. I don’t have to worry about what people think. I don’t have to worry about risk. My future happiness is guaranteed by my heavenly Father so I am going to live my life instead of protect myself.
Let me give you a glimpse into your future. Inheritance and God’s future inheritance. “But it is written,” 1 Corinthians 2:9, “things which eyes have not seen, which ear has not heart,” – are you ready for this? “which hasn’t entered into the heart of man.” It is so good, it’s so wonderful, it’s so awesome, your future is so guaranteed of a happiness that you can’t imagine, no one has ever heard about it, no one has ever seen it, it has not even entered your heart. All that God has prepared for those that love Him.
When you think about the future, are you filled with anxiety? Is your thought about the future about terrorism or a personal issue or family issue or what might happen or…?
See, if you – this is a fact. This isn’t subjective. Your future, my future happiness is guaranteed. Therefore, I’m confident. I can be absolutely confident. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to have struggles or setbacks and hurts. It’s a fallen world. But it can’t touch you.
Third, I have incomprehensible power to meet all my present challenges and opportunities. All those words of the apostle Paul talked about. All those examples of: the same power that would raise Christ from the dead, the same power that would seat Him in the heavenly places, the same power that would be over angels and principalities and powers, and the same power that would be over every title of this age and the future. The same power that would make Him head of everything and fill everything.
I can’t, I can’t get my head close to around that. It dwells in me, His Son; and it dwells in you, his daughter or son. Whoo.
I guess the question is: why aren’t we experiencing it? If there’s that much power, why do we have such struggles in certain areas if we have that power?
Let me give you a picture, okay? This is a little word picture. I want you to imagine that your car is broken down somewhere and it’s super, super cold. Like you’re on vacation in South Dakota. Whoever goes to South Dakota in the winter on vacation? But you decided you would. And who ever goes alone, but you decided you would go alone.
When you make up these stories, you can say whatever you want. But that’s you. And you are shivering and then you realize there’s a motel and, Oh my gosh. You don’t have any money, you don’t have money for food, your car stalled out, you’re stranded, your phone battery is dead. What am I going to do?
And then you look over and there is a little blue light and there’s an ATM machine. And you happen to be a fairly affluent person. You happen to know you have one hundred thousand dollars in your checking account. May the Lord bless you and keep you, cause His face to shine upon you. And may the rest of us do as well. But this is what you have.
Now, it’s in the machine, you have the card, you have everything you need, but you are sitting in your car freezing without food, and you’re not in the hotel. Why? What must you do? This is not a trick question. What have you got to do? [Makes ATM noises]
Now you’ve got a hotel room, you can fix your car, you’ve got food. Everything you need is way more than a hundred thousand dollars. You have a power that can break obstacles, you have a power of muscular force that can overcome challenges, you have a power that is like dynamite that can break through things that have held you a prisoner for decades.
Family of origin, past mistakes, labeling. You have a power that can change how you parent in the future. You have a power that can overcome your fears and give you peace. But you have to activate it. And the Bible is very clear that the key to activating things is as just as you have received the Lord, so walk in Him. How did you receive Him? By faith.
And faith is always rooted in the promises of God. Paul, in a crisis, would say, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Peter would write, “God has given us His precious and heavenly promises,” in the first chapter of 2 Peter, “and by them, we have everything that we need for godliness.”
The apostle Paul would write that there is a promise. He says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” He said, in other words, “I have this power.”
How do you activate? One, God’s promises are in His Word. And what I can say is that when you begin to get Word-centered and claim His promises, it’s like taking withdrawals from the ATM. But the ATM only brings out so much money. Sometimes what you need is other people drawing out of their ATMs.
And so, it’s not just His Word and His promises by His Spirit, but His power is manifested – how? In weakness.
My wife and I were, we are in a big transition and I’m glad, I really don’t feel afraid, but you talk about completely uncertain in so many areas. And I don’t mean, I mean this in the most humble, I’m more amazed than any of you, that we realize now, forty years of marriage this year and I’ll hear reports and things that it sounds like about someone else of, literally, millions and millions of people all around the world that hear what I teach and things that she has done. And we are like this little West Virginia girl out of a broken background and this super insecure skinny little guy. And we both came to Jesus. And it was like God’s power – he has used our lives and I think some of you think that it’s because we have so much together, that we are really, like really got it together.
And we were sitting on the floor this morning drinking coffee, looking back at: it’s His power has been manifested in our weakness.
It was when the lights came on and I just realized, I am desperately insecure and all this stuff I do is mostly to please people and impress people and pose. And I am so sick of it. And so I just went public with that.
And she stopped hiding her background and difficulty and pain and I think it’s not because we have anything together. I think what has happened is people get hope and there is more authority in our lives because we are weak!
I’ve got friends in this church that have had some challenges in their past. Their own kids don’t know anything about their past. They are ashamed of how they used to live. And what they don’t know is they are projecting to their kids: Oh, I never had any real problems. This is how you need to live. Instead of: Hey, I had an alcohol problem, I had a sex addiction. Man, when I was in college, my lands, I was promiscuous and I did this. This is the pain that it caused.
Right time in the right way, I’m not saying you share everything, but I am just saying your shame and the power of God won’t get released until you say, God, I need You. I need You. And it’s Your Word, Your truth that can change me. But it’s going to be Your truth as I am honest with You and I invite people into my life.
Can I just tell you something? You’ll be stuck in your shame and you will be a Christian that changes minimally, if at all until you are in God’s Word, claiming His promises, and you get in some smaller group where you can say, “I was abused when I was fourteen.” “I stole.” “Please don’t say anything out loud. I’m not legal and everyone thinks I am.”
And you would share that only wisely with just the right group. But it will be when the real you shows up that the real God will show up and life-change will happen. That’s our journey. But it’s not our journey. It’s the journey of every believer.
And then, it wipes away and, “We are really busy and at this stage of our kids and things are really, really, really busy right now and this fall we have a lot going on and I just started a business,” or, “I’m just changing jobs,” or, “I’m just doing this.”
And it’s going to be just completely different in six months, right? Right? This is just a season, like the last season, and the last season, and the last season.
And please hear me. The great majority of Christians are not in God’s Word. And I don’t mean in it like I got to read so many verses. I mean, to hear. The great majority of Christians don’t have real, close, honest, authentic relationships where shame can come out and you’re not judged and you are loved.
Turn to the back page, because this is the process by which God has decided He would change us. And the reason He is so adamant that you know that you are wanted and secure and competent and valuable – are you ready? It’s not so you can be more fulfilled and happy. That’s a by-product. You’re His body. The reason He has transformed you is you are the instrument, the ambassador, the agent to share with others that God loves them, that Christ died for them, that He rose from the dead, and they don’t have to go to hell and they don’t have to live in a hell today, but there is a Father who loves them but they will never know unless your life and your words communicate that story boldly.
We have turned the whole Christian life about your self-improvement and your happiness and your fulfillment and your kids being – excelling. All that will mean nothing. The reason He did all this is to transform you and me so that we would be His mouthpiece and His hands and His feet and that we would actually love people. It’s God’s will!. But if you believe misbeliefs, “I am what I am. I cannot change.” Do you believe that? Or does you behavior say you do? How about, “I can’t help myself. This is just the way I have always been, I always will be.” Write that on a card, will you?
And then write, “Stop! I am a competent person, equipped by the Holy Spirit to carry out God’s will in my daily life in a way that pleases Him.” You are! You’re competent. “Regardless of what stage of growth I may be in at the present time” – are you ready for this? “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.”