I just read a story about this guy, who was heading home from work on a Friday night with a pocket full of cash. But he had nowhere to go, and nothing to do, and nobody to do all that nothing with, so he figured he’d just head on home. But it just so happened that as he was walking home, he saw a little flyer nailed to a telephone pole. The flyer said, “Midnight harbor cruise, music, dancing, all you can eat, all you can drink 50 bucks. Departs from dock C at midnight” He thought, “Man, now that sounds like a great deal, something I can’t pass up.”
So, he headed down to dock C at midnight. But when he got to the dock, there was nobody there, and there was no boat. So he figured he must have misread the flyer, and decided to go home. But as he turned to leave, bam, he got hit on the back of the head, knocked out cold. Well, the next thing he knew, it was morning, and he was floating in a dinghy about a hundred yards off-shore, by himself. His pockets were empty. And he had a big lump on the back of his head. He sat up and looked around. About 20 yards away, he saw another guy in another dinghy with a bump on the back of his head. He called out to the guy, “Hey, do they serve breakfast on this cruise?” The other guy said, “I don’t think so, at least they didn’t last time.”
Does this sound like your life? Sometimes it sounds like mine. You keep making the same mistakes, falling for the same tricks, falling for the same lies, doing the same thing over and over, winding up with another lump on the back of my head. You think, “Why can’t I stop doing that? Why do I keep making the same mistakes, repeating the same bad habits?“ Why can’t I change? And the answer is that we often focus on simply trying to change our behavior. But true change can only be accomplished when we change the way we think about things. The Bible says,
“Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.”Romans 12:2 (GNB)
I know we talked about this verse a couple weeks ago, but I want you to circle “conform” again. To conform means to be fitted into a mold. Think of Play-Doh. Remember all the cool molds and even that press thing with the different shaped dies? You would put the doh in it and press down on the lever and out would come a round tube, a star shaped one or a long square one. And you would take out the plastic knife and cut off pieces and to play with. Then pound it down and do it again. Well a person being conformed is like Play-Doh, passively being shaped by the thoughts of others. Now God doesn’t want His people to live that way. He doesn’t want you to be pounded and shaped by others. But God does want you to change. Circle “Transform”. To transform is to change the essential nature, character, or personality of something. To be transformed is to become new. Now circle ”change of mind.” God’s way of changing you starts with how you think. Perhaps the most life-changing, foundational way that God want to change in your thinking takes place when you consider How God thinks about you! So today we will talk about 3 ways that God thinks about you.
God thinks you have incredible value
The Struggle with self-worth
A lot of people struggle with a low sense of self-worth. They lack confidence and shrink back from challenges. You feel like you don’t have anything of value to contribute and don’t speak up or keep your opinions to yourself because you feel like you really don’t matter. These are all elements of having a low sense of self-worth. And thinking this way has all sorts of negative consequences for your life. Remember, the way you think effects the way you feel. A low sense of self-worth can contribute to depression. And the way you feel effects the way you act. Other people can pick up on your negative vibe and think less of you as well. This will negatively influence your relationships, career and even your emotional health. So clearly this is a problem.
And while there are many ways that people respond to low self-worth, overachievement, workaholism, – to name just a few. God has a better solution. Instead of determining your value by what you do or what you accomplish, let God establish how valuable you really are. And God thinks you are pretty valuable. God thinks you are worth dying for. The bible says,
“Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God…”1 Peter 3:18 (NLT)
Circle, “He died for sinners.” Strike through the word “sinners” and write your name there. When I was a new believer I struggled with the idea that Jesus died for me. He not only died, but He was tortured to death. I thought, “Wait a minute, this makes no sense. I’m the one who sinned. And it isn’t like I didn’t know any better. I knew I sinned. And I knew I sinned willingly. I also knew I deserved to be punished and lived in fear that I would be punished. And God was the one I sinned against. Why, why in the world, would God send His Son- the Son whom He loved, to die for me?” Well the answer is right in this verse. Circle “to bring you safely home.” God wants you to be at home with Him. He wants you to be a member of His family. He wants to enjoy close and regular fellowship with you. That is what God wants. And God paid a tremendous price to make that possible. This tells you what God thinks about your worth. You are incredibly valuable to God.
God thinks about your present and your future, not your past
A lot of people constantly dwell on their past. They sound like a broken record. It is always the same thing. They are reliving past pain, regretting past failures and feeling guilty over past sins. And this is a surefire way to get stuck in life. If you are focused on the past, you aren’t living in the present and are completely incapable of preparing for or envisioning a better future. But God has a better way for you to think and live. The Bible says,
“…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
Circle “the old life is gone” I love the symbolism of Baptism. In baptism we take a new believer and immerse them completely in the water. This represents the fact that the he or she has died to their old life and are being buried together with Christ. And then we raise them up again to new life just a Jesus rose from the dead. This physical demonstration illustrates a spiritual reality. A new life has begun- the old life is gone. When God looks at you this is how He thinks. And God wants you to think this way too! Let me apply this to three different scenarios.
Pain of past hurts – Forgiveness
Maybe you have been hurt or betrayed by someone. And usually the deepest wounds are inflicted by the people who are closest to us. Family member, a spouse or a parent. And what is God’s solution for the pain of the past? Forgiveness. Perhaps this is the hardest thing that God asks any of us to do. But holding on to a grudge is hurting you. It keeps you stuck in the past and makes you relive the old pain. Forgiveness is the only way to deal with the pain of the past. And Jesus knows how hard it is to forgive, because as He hung on the Cross, he offered forgiveness while He was still experiencing the pain.
Regrets of past failures – Confession
Everyone has regrets from their past. The older you get the more you will have. So how do you live with regrets? You confess. The Bible says,
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so God can heal you.James 5:16 (NCV)
Regrets will eat you alive. And the solution is confession. To confess is simply to agree with God that what you did was wrong. You can’t undo what has been done. But you can get it off your chest. And you don’t need a clergyman. It says to confess to confess to each other. That is what friends are for.
Fear – Accept God’s Pardon
Many people live with fear that the sins of their past will finally catch up with them. They know what they have done and they know that God knows. And so they kind of avoid God not asking or expecting anything from Him. Now we do serve a just God who will hold people accountable for their sins. And that is why the good news of the gospel is such incredible good news. Because Christ-Followers have received a complete and irrevocable pardon. The Bible says,
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”Romans 8:1 (NLT)
Circle “condemnation”To be condemned is to be found guilty and simply awaiting punishment- like a prisoner on death row- guilty and simply waiting for execution. But this passage says that that Christ-followers are not condemned. No Condemnation. Even though we are guilty-and we know we are all guilty. We received a full and irrevocable pardon. We don’t have to look backwards in life with regrets and pain. And we don’t have to look forwards in fear of certain punishment. We can look forward in life with hope and expectancy because we belong to Christ!
God thinks you can get through any challenge
Some people believe that God will never allow us to face a problem that we can’t handle. I strongly disagree. The Bible is filled with stories about people facing circumstance they can’t handle. Noah against a worldwide flood. Moses against the Egyptian Empire. David against a 9” tall Giant. Do you really think that any of them had a chance? No! Not without God. And that is the key to getting through whatever you re going through.
We all received the prayer request for Javion, the precious little boy who had the terrible accident. Please keep praying for him and his family. Among other things he is paralyzed from the waist down. Thinking about him and his family having to deal with this new reality at such a young age is kind of overwhelming for me. What would I do in his situation? How would I respond if I was his mother or father? And so I have been praying for him and his family. Because apart from God, I don’t know how anyone can move forward in life when everything is turned upside down like that.
And there are lots of things in life that can overwhelm us. Death of loved one. A divorce. A wayward child. An addiction. A family member with an addiction. A serious health condition, a business failure. Finding yourself deep in financial trouble. All of these can be overwhelming for us. Nevertheless, God thinks you can get through any of these challenges – with Him. Let me share a few scriptures. You might want to save these or better yet memorize them. Because sooner or later you will face an overwhelming problem. The Bible says,
“With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine.”Ephesians 3:20 (NCV)
The things that we think are overwhelming, are not when we invite God into the middle of our struggles. Circle “God’s power working in us” As a Christ-follower you have a divine source of strength that others do not have. You have within you a source of strength to endure impossible situations and power to overcome the impossible.It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead- God’s Holy Spirit. You see God never expects us to go through overwhelming challenges without Him. He expects us to rely on Him to get us through whatever we are going through. And He is reliable. He will not let you down. The Bible says,
“I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.”Philippians 4:13, (NCV)
Circle ”all things” name a thing that is overwhelming to you. Identify an obstacle that is in your way. Name a thing that is scaring you stopping you or stopping you from doing what God wants you to do or becoming what God wants you to be. And now circle “I can”. Instead of avoiding or retreating- instead of thinking “I can’t “ Think the way God thinks. Through Christ I can.
Now here is one more passage I want you to commit to memory. The Bibles says,
“… God’s Spirit, who is in you, is greater than the devil, who is in the world.”1 John 4:4 (NCV)
If you are a Christ-follower even the devil himself can’t defeat you. Because God’s Spirit in you is always greater than anyone who can come against you.
Some people are so concerned about how other people think about them. That can be good or bad depending on who you really are. I think the world is a better place when bad people behave themselves to avoid the disapproval of others. But simply behaving isn’t the kind of life that God wants for you. God wants you to have a “rich and satisfying life” And this kind life proceeds from knowing how God thinks about you.
God thinks you have incredible value
This is true of all people. We all matter to God. But we can only have a relationship with God through Christ.
God thinks about your present and your future, not your past.
The assurance of no condemnation is only made available to those who are in Christ.
God thinks you can get through any challenge.
The way you get through overwhelming challengesis the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is only given to us by Christ.
Are you in Christ today? Have you ever received His forgiveness and asked Him to lead you through life? Have you wandered away? Have you forgotten?
Jesus save us. Save us from ourselves. Save us from our sin. Save us from our wrong thinking. Come into our lives. Renew our minds. Help us become the people you want us to be and help us to become a convincing evidence of you power and goodness to others.