Love, grace, and freedom!!!

One of the consequences of having a low self-esteem is the tendency to be someone else, to behave in ways you never thought of. You try to be that person people would love and appreciate and want to be with. And at the end, you don’t know who you are, what you like, and what you want. You have become a people-pleaser and have ceased to be the person God intended you to be.

But God gave a remedy for that emotional and spiritual sickness as He did for all the other ones. When He sent Jesus to earth to bear our sins and shames and sicknesses; when Jesus chose to give His life for our healing, He offered us that remedy. He offered us reconciliation with the Father, the boldness to enter the throne room with confidence, the freedom to be ourselves even at our worst. Since He paid for us and gave us His righteousness, we can just be ourselves before God as we are being changed into Christ’s likeness. Yes, we are disciplined. Yes, our actions have consequences. But yes, they work for our good. And yes, God does not discipline us out of anger, but to make us share in His holiness.

It is not easy to accept that aspect of grace. Salvation, we get it. But the rest? Our past, our experiences, sometimes our parents and siblings, people around us, circumstances, etc.  cry that it is too easy. And we live as if God would be angry at our failures, and even at our differences; as if He would be mad at us every time we don’t do what He expects us to do, the way He expects us to do it. There is no place in our lives to be trained by God’s grace to become more like Christ. We should already be perfect. And that is not the worst. The worst is all the rules and regulations we have and apply in order to please God. In our mind, God can easily be that another person who would never accept us if we don’t behave in a certain way; if we are not a certain kind of person. We forgot that Jesus died for us when we were weak; when we were enemies of His Father. We forgot that He loved us first. We forgot that He pursued us before we even thought of loving Him.

But when we remember, when we accept this incredible grace, we are free. Free to be ourselves; free to just be because we are totally and completely welcomed and accepted in Christ.  And if the Ruler of the universe, the perfect and holy One, the One who judges and provides, the only One who matters accepts us, we can begin to stop trying to belong and to be loved at any cost. We still need fellowship and love and friendship and affection, but not at any cost anymore. Yes, it is not perfect. We still struggle with low self-esteem and acceptance, but now we know the truth that sets free and, more than ever, we are becoming that amazing person God created us to be.

And if you are not there, no worries. He is already there and will bring you there because it all depends on His power that is perfected in your weakness.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them… But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

(Ephesians 2: 4- 10; 13-22)





All we like sheep

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want… Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1-4 ESV)

Today I read about God being our shepherd and it was encouraging, a blessing. It is always encouraging to  hear/read that God meets all our needs. Yes, we shall never want. However, today, here is what was really encouraging:

  1. God choosing to be a shepherd, choosing in Christ to get His hands dirty to save and keep us;
  2. God protecting us against our enemies with His staff, and disciplining us with His rod to prevent us from wandering far from Him. (2 Samuel 7:14)

To be honest, I don’t like the “discipline” part, but I am grateful for it because the world is filled with dangers, with waves, torrents, falls, wild animals,etc. All things that would kill my soul if God were not my shepherd.

I guess it is the reason God’s word commands us to be grateful in all circumstances. Indeed, even in the worse, we are never alone and we are safe.

For this purpose…

“And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them,  but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” (Luke 4:42-44)

Sometimes we can feel there is too much to do and not enough time to do it. We need to find time not only for God but also for work, friends, church, evangelization, serving and encouraging others… and we need to sleep. Sometimes  we want to choose:  maybe stop working to share more Jesus with unbelievers or meet fewer people to be able to spend quality time with God and so on.

Jesus was a very busy man, but He achieved so much more than us. He served, preached, taught, healed, resurrected, spent quality times with His friends…  John even told us that He did  so many others things that it was impossible to write all them (John 21:25). How was He able to achieve so much? Mark 1:35-38 gives us the answer.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him,  and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.”  And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.

Jesus had a busy evening. He healed people,  casted out many demons, handled a whole city… I guess He was tired. However, early in the morning, He went out to pray. Then when people tried to prevent Him from leaving, He said no because He had a purpose. He knew why He was there and was determined not to be distracted.

So maybe the solution to our “not enough time” is to spend time with God, to pray even if when we are tired and to know for what purpose we are on earth. Spending time with God should come before everything else. We easily forget that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). We easily forget that Him alone can renew our strength (Isaiah 40: 30-31). We also need to remember that He created us for good works that will glorify Him (Ephesians 2:10; Isaiah 43:7; Matthew 5:16).

So the question for each of us is: “Is your calendar  full with things that are for God’s glory?”  Let’s imitate Jesus by depending on God and by leaving for His glory.