"... the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Neh. 8:10)
A. One of the Hottest Topic within the church today is the issue of Self-Esteem.
1. There are Truckloads of self-help books offering advice on how to Feel Better About Yourself --- how to Love Yourself.
2. Over a decade ago James Dobson announced that Maní Greatest Need Was Self-Esteem.
3. However, Time and Experience, as well as Biblical Evidence, have made us Rethink that proposition.
B. Bill Bennett in his book, "The Devaluing of America" notes that Self-Esteem May Not Be Our Greatest Need.
1. South Korean Students score Four Times Higher on math skills than American Students --- in spite of this, when asked if they are good at math,
a. 68% of American students say "Yes",
b. only 23% of South Korean students answer "Yes".
2. Bennett then say, "This Country Is A Lot Better At Teaching Self-Esteem Than It Is In Teaching Math."
C. From a Biblical Viewpoint manís greatest need is Not Self-Esteem but rather Self-Acceptance.
1. Self-Esteem is thinking Highly of oneís self.
2. Self-Acceptance is thinking Rightly about oneís self.
D. A Lack of Acceptance of Your Place In Godís Creation is the Cause of most of your Inter-Personal Problems.
E. Jeptha --- in the Old Testament --- is a good example of a man who could Not Accept Where God Had Placed Him in this world.
1. Being born Illegitimately to a Prostitute was Hard For Him To Accept.
2. He was Always Trying To Prove what a great man he was.
3. Sadly, this nearly Cost Him --- The Life of His Own Daughter --- His Own Credibility as a leader.
F. Many Others have followed this same pattern --- Allowing Dissatisfaction With Their Place In Life To Ruin The Life That God Has Given Them.
I. God Had A Purpose In Creating You!
A. To begin to Accept Yourself and find True Peace, you Must Understand what Godís Purpose was in Creating you in the first place.
1. Much of life is spent in Search For Meaning.
2. Evolution has so Devalued Life --- that it has Become Pointless to many people.
3. However, You Are Godís Masterpiece --- you are a Work of Art in progress.
4. Every move God makes --- He is writing His Purpose on your life.
B. First --- God Created You To Have Fellowship With Him.
1. Paul had much to boast about in his life.
a. He had Done It All and Seen It All.
b. Yet, Paul considered Fellowship With Christ as more Important than anything else in this world.
c. Phil. 3:7-8, "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ," --- V. 10, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;"
2. Whatever Hinders your Fellowship with Christ is Rubbish.
a. God created you to have fellowship with Him.
b. That is where the Meaning of Life Begins.
3. When Adam Sinned, the First thing he did was to Hid From God.
a. His Purpose In Life, fellowship, had been Marred.
b. Only In Christ can that Purpose of life be Restored.
4. The Most Important thing to God is Fellowship With You.
What is More Important to You:
How you look to Others? --- How you look to God?
C. Second --- God Created You To Be Like Christ.
1. Rom. 8:28-29, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
2. Paul said --- Galatians 4:19, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again Until Christ be formed in you,"
3. God Is Reproducing Himself In You!
4. God will often Sacrifice Outward Things in our lives to Force Development of Christlikeness in our Spirits.
2 Cor. 4:10-11, (NIV) "We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesusí sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body."
V. 16-18, (NIV) "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
II. Satan Will Try To Thwart (Defeat) Godís Purpose In Your Life.
A. First --- Satan encourages us to Doubt Godís Motive and Character in our creation.
1. Adam --- Eve --- Gen. 3:1-5, "Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
2. Satan is constantly at work seeking to Slander & Malign God --- He is Not Good and His Intentions are Not Pure.
B. Second --- He Encourages Us To Doubt Godís Sufficiency.
1. Paul warns us --- Colossians 2:8-10, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:"
2. In the Heart of Every person is a base Feeling of Insufficiency.
3. The world constantly attacks you with doubts about yourself:
a. Your Teeth arenít White enough.
b. Your Breath isnít Sweet enough.
c. Your Car isnít Fast enough.
d. Your Bank Account isnít Big enough.
e. Your Credit Line is not Extended enough.
4. All of this Implies that the Secret To Contentment is found in Things We Do or Possess --- Rather Than Who We Are In Christ.
5. True Joy come from Experiencing The Character of Christ rather than from Outward Beauty.
III. Everything About Your Life Was Calculated And Designed By God --- Nothing Has Been Left To Chance.
A. First --- God Prescribed Your Exact Creation.
1. David --- Psalm 139:16, "Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."
2. Man is Not the Haphazardous Result of Some Cosmological Accident.
3. James Hufstetler says: "You are the result of the Attentive, Careful, Thoughtful, Intimate, Detailed, creative work of God ..... He made you the way He did because that is the way He wants you to be ..... "
4. There are Some Things in our life that are Unchangeable.
Parents --- Race --- Age --- Gender --- Physical Features --- etc.
a. Women wish they were Men --- Role Reversal .....
b. Men wish they were Somebody Else --- Rich --- Famous --- Powerful.
c. Some seek to Deny Their Racial Heritage or to use it as a Crutch.
5. Much of our life is spent Trying To Change what God has created.
a. I Donít mean that you shouldnít Strive To Be All That God Intends For You To Be.
b. Just be Sure --- It Is What God Intends.
B. Second --- God Chose You Before Creation.
You are Not An Afterthought With God.
Eph. 1:4, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:"
C. Third --- God Formed You With Purpose.
1. To Believe Otherwise, would be No Different than those who believe in Evolution.
2. Life is Not An Endless Parade of Meaningless Tasks.
Isa. 49:1-5, "Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. 2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me; 3 And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. 4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God. 5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength."
IV. Godís Plan And Purpose For You Has Continuity.
A. God Never Abandons His Plan Nor His People.
Eph. 2:10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
Psa. 138:8, "The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands."
Rom. 11:29, "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."
B. God Is Never Caught By Surprise because of our Circumstances or Problems.
C. However, when we Try To Be The Captain of Our Life --- we get in Trouble.
One night at sea, a shipís captain saw what looked like the lights on another ship heading straight toward him. He had his signal man blink to the other ship: "Change your course 10 degrees south." The reply cam back: "No, you change your course 10 degrees north." The ships captain answered: "I am a captain. Change your course south." To which the reply was: "No, I am a seaman first class. Change your course north." This infuriated the captain, so he signaled back: "I say change your course south. Iím on a battleship?" To which the reply came back:: "And I say change your course north. Iím in a lighthouse."
V. Symptoms of A Person Who Is Frustrated With Himself And Is Lacking In Self-Acceptance.
A. He has Trouble Handling Criticism.
1. How Well you receive criticism is a Good Indicator of how you See Yourself.
2. When you are Criticized, that is an Opportunity To Be A Blessing.
Matt. 5:44-46, "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?"
3. 1 Peter 3:9, (NIV) "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."
B. He Tends To Cover Up.
1. They may seek to Cover their lack of self-acceptance in Their Appearance.
a. Often they show an Unusual Obsession With Fads, Clothes, etc. --- Stores love to see these people shopping.
b. Or, they show a Total Lack of Care for their appearance.
2. Others, have an Obsession With Gaining Otherís Approval.
a. Many times they do Foolish Things, thinking that will Gain Approval from their peers.
b. If You Live For Other Peopleís Approval You Will Die By Their Criticism!
3. Others, reveal their lack of self-acceptance by Making Unreasonable Demands On Other People.
a. They become Very Petty at times.
b. They seem to be Unhappy with whatever the People Around Them Do.
c. Even to the extent of --- Taking Up Other People Offence.
A. All these Symptoms are Indicators that :
1. We have Forgotten our Primary Responsibility to God.
2. We Witness to the world concerning --- what Kind of God we have --- by the Way We Handle our problems.
B. We need to Remember:
1. God Knows What He Is Doing --- Trust Him.
2. We Must Allow God To Mold Us As He See Fit.
Rom. 9:20-21, (NIV) "But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ĎWhy did you make me like this?í" 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?"
A Pilot was experiencing difficulty in landing his plane because of fog; and the airport decided to bring him in by radar. As he began to receive directions from the ground he suddenly remembered a tall pole in the flight path, and appeared in panic to the control tower about it. The reply came bluntly, "You Obey Instructions; Weíll Take Care of Obstructions."
C. Many a Christian Hesitates To Obey Godís Word because of problems and difficulties.
1. If We only Obey, He Is Capable of dealing with the problems and difficulties.
2. Recognize What Godís Intention (Purpose) Is For You.
3. Remember, A Lack of Acceptance of Your Place in Godís creation Is The Cause of most of your inter-personal problems.
4. Celebrate Who You Are In Christ.
5. Why Did God Create You?
Find Godís Purpose For Your Life .....
Accept It --- Fill It!
There Is No Second Chance After Death!
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