When Jesus called you out, He set a plan in motion to redeem, restore, and transform your entire life. He also put plans in place to use you for His glory- to be a part of His mission in reconciling the world back to His heart. If you are struggling today, wondering if God sees you or hears you- please take heart- He has NOT forgotten about you. Keep seeking Him with your whole heart. His plans will be laid out for you in the perfect way and time.
Lie: The Performance Trap
False Beliefs: I must meet certain standards in order to feel good about myself.
Consequences: The fear of failure; perfectionism; driven to succeed; manipulating others to achieve success; withdrawal; from risks.
Gods Answer: Justification- this means that God has not only forgiven me of my sins, but also has granted me the righteousness of Christ. Because of justification, I bear Christ’s righteousness and am therefore, fully pleasing to the Father.
[Excerpt from Follow: Learning to Follow Jesus by Daniel McNaughton & Bryan Koch]
Many people struggle with believing God will forgive them. When we do not know we can be forgiven, there are only a few options for us. We might work to try to get God to like us and to forgive us (volunteer at church, help the poor, give money) in hopes that our good deeds will outweigh our bad deeds. We try to prove to God that we are worthy to be loved. But we always wonder if we did enough so we live under a cloud of fear. We might ignore the question of God’s forgiveness, trying to not think about it. Since there is nothing we can do about it, why dwell on it?
We might minimize our sin by saying “everyone does it” or “what I did want as bad as…” We might get angry at ourselves. It is a terrible weight to remember what we have done. Some of us beat ourselves up emotionally or in other ways, thinking that if we hurt ourselves enough, maybe we will never do the bad deed again…
We might even get angry at God. No one is perfect. “Since God is already upset with me for doing wrong, I might as well continue to do what pleases me.” We might do even more things that we know displeases God because we have given up trying to please Him. We might ask God to forgive us as well.
- What types of the responses do you see among the criminals crucified beside Jesus?
- What was Jesus’ response to the criminal who asked Jesus to remember him?
It is really important that you notice that Jesus accepted that criminal and that the criminal did nothing to deserve it. Jesus simply gave him the gift of forgiveness and relationship for eternity because he asked.
- What is your normal response to dealing with memories of past failures?
My (Bryan- the Author) natural inclination is to work. I tried various ways over the years to prove to others that I was worthy to be loved. This was especially true in high school when I was focused on becoming a good baseball player. I had a real performance mentality toward acceptance and approval. I really felt the better I performed the more I would be valued. While I did achieve some success, the feelings of happiness and self-worth were only temporary. I was coming to realize success in any area didn’t necessarily lead to feeling significant cant. I often though, “There must be more to life than this.” Have you ever felt that way? If so, what did you do to try to find meaning in life?
One of the problems with thinking this way is that we think our value is established by what we do rather that what Christ has done for us. When we do this, we live our lives based on a lie, that our worth is dependent on us and not God.
Jesus already paid the price for your sin. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more or love you less. No matter how hard you work or how perfectly or imperfectly you serve Him, He will not love you any more or any less than He does right now.
- What are you initial reactions to that statement?
- How will knowing this truth affect that way you respond to God?
"To laugh is to risk appearing a fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk rejection.
To place your dreams before the crowd is to risk ridicule.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To go forward in the face of overwhelming odds is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, has nothing, is nothing. He may avoid suffering, but cannot learn, feel, change, grow, or love.
Chained by insecurities and fear, he is a slave.
He has forfeited his freedom.
Only a person who takes risks is free."
This reminds us of the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30:
In this parable, a Master entrusted talents (which is a form of money) to three different servants. The first two servants advanced and increased what the Master entrusted to them. They took risks. The Master commended them for their faithfulness and the action they took to expand what was given to them.
But then there was the servant, whom out of fear, hid the talents that was given to him. Let's read that part of the scripture;
The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’
“The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.
“‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’
(Matthew 25:24-30 The Message)
The servant who didn’t take any risks and hid the talents was greatly rebuked. The one’s who took risks heard, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Following God will take steps of faith out into the realms of the unknown. It will take going past your comforts, taking risks, and following God’s plan. God’s plans don’t often look like our plans. It will grow and stretch us, and we must be willing to follow the Lord’s leading if we are to fulfill the destiny he has for us.
The risk you may need to take is to love, to serve, to start a business, to make that phone call, to forgive, to speak up, to confront, to write a book- the list is endless! God knows what you need to do or overcome, and He will show you if you are willing to follow Him.
Take risks, but don’t be stupid. Use wisdom and common sense in all things. If you don’t know what Gods is asking of you, seek Him diligently and He WILL show you. He wants you to fulfill His plans more than you want to- never forget that!
Join God is His journey. No matter what He asks you to do, He will NEVER leave you nor forsake you. He is with you through all the steps and risks you take. Live fully for God no matter what the risk- in the end it will be worth it!
One of the greatest scriptures to meditate on is God is love, and His love endures forever, everlasting, His love is unconditional and never ending! He is your Father and you are His child. How exciting is that!
You have the honor of going to Him anytime you want, because you are precious to Him. You have privileges and one of those is the fact He has given us power and authority over the enemy.
“There is no fear in God’s love. But perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:8
We need to spend time with Him to get saturated with that love.
God didn’t give us the spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. If God didn’t give you the spirit of fear, then it has to go!
So, take back what is rightfully yours! Use that power and authority to rid yourself of the schemes of the enemy.
The devil is a roaring lion- that roar is designed to freeze and overwhelm you with fear. The word of God says “say to the mountain” (the mountain is anything that is coming against you) Take action and use your authority! Say- “worry, fear, anxiety, and get out of here in the name of Jesus!”
Then replace it with Gods peace. He is the Prince of Peace.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” John 14:27
He will give you peace in the storm and it will surpass all understanding. Then watch as the joy of the Lord becomes your strength. Peace and joy instead of fear, I will take that any day! So how does it feel to not be a slave to fear anymore?
Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.