Step Towards Transformation
All of us have areas that we struggle in. We make mistakes, and do things that we know we shouldn’t.
It’s easy to go around feeling guilty, condemned, wrong on the inside, thinking, “I can’t believe I’m still struggling in this same area.” Voices will whisper, “God’s never going to bless you. You can’t get it right, you don’t deserve it, just sit on the sidelines.” We think we have to have a perfect performance for God to bless us. We think Once we get rid of all these weaknesses, once I overcome in these areas that I’m struggling in, then i’ll have God’s favor, feel good about myself.”
But the scripture says:
2 Chronicles 16:9 (ASV)..9 For the eyes of Jehovah run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.
God is not looking for people who have a perfect performance, perfect behavior, people who never make a mistake; He’s looking for people who have a perfect heart turned toward Him. That means, you may make mistakes, but you have a desire to please Him; deep down, you want to honour Him with your life. It’s your heart that matters. God looks on the inside; He is more pleased with someone with the right heart that makes mistakes every once in a while than with someone with a wrong heart and performs perfectly all the time.
Illustration of Pharisees: We See this in the scripture. The Pharisees kept all the religious rules: they prayed at the right time, gave the exact amount required, went to great lengths to perform the religious ceremonies exactly like they were supposed to. They had the perfect performance. The problem was, their heart wasn’t right. They were self-righteous, proud, critical, and even though they performed perfectly, Jesus said to them:
Matthew 23:27 (NIV)…27 …You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.
Illustration of Disciples: When Jesus chose his 12 disciples, it was just the opposite. He didn’t choose people who had it all together:
Matthew 9:9 (NIV)…9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
Matthew 4:18-22 (NKJV)..18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
These weren’t the most qualified, disciplined, upstanding people, these were people who had flaws and weaknesses, people who came out of dysfunction, people who were not raised in a religious background. But what God can see that others cannot see is the heart.
People look on the outside, at the performance, behavior, background. God looks beyond all that; He knows, it’s the heart that matters.
John 15:16 (NIV)..You didn’t choose me. I chose you. In effect he was saying to his disciples, “I chose you, not because you have it all together, not because you perform perfectly, no, I hand-picked you because I can see your heart is turned toward me.”
God is saying the same thing to you; you wouldn’t be here, listening, if you didn’t have a heart turned toward God. Your performance may not be perfect: your behaviour, your attitude, your character may need some improvement, we all do, but just like with the disciples, God is saying, “I hand-picked you because your heart is sincere, your heart is to do the right thing, you’re flexible and mouldable, so I’m going to show Myself strong in your life.”
Now The Key Is,
You Have To Learn To ACCEPT Yourself While You’re In The Process Of Changing.
It doesn’t do any good to go around beating yourself up because of flaws and weaknesses, living guilty and condemned, because you’re not where you think you should be in life.
The scripture says:
2 Corinthians 3:18 (KJV)..18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
You may not realize it, but you’re in a phase of glory right now; learn to enjoy the glory that you’re in while God is changing you, and taking you to the next level of glory.
Too often, we’re not going to feel good about WHO we are until our behaviour gets better, we break the bad habit, control our temper, then we’ll start accepting ourselves. The problem with this approach is there will always be something that’s not right; there will always be some reason to feel wrong about WHO we are.
You have to ACCEPT yourself right where you are, faults and all. You are not a finished product; God is the potter, you are the clay, He’s still working on you. He goes at His own pace; nothing you can do, to make it happen any faster. He knows what’s best.
You should say, “God, my life is in Your hands, not just my goals and dreams, but my flaws and weaknesses, these areas that I struggle in. God, I know only You can give me the grace to overcome. I’m going to do my best, work with You, but in the meantime, I’m going to ACCEPT myself and enjoy the GLORY that I’m in.”
If You’ll Keep Your Heart Turned Toward God, Your Performance Will Catch Up.
The disciples started off rough, they had a lot to overcome, but they ended up men of great character who touched the world.
Illustration Of Peter: Peter had a problem with cursing, using bad language. He didn’t change overnight; I’m sure there were plenty of times that he got upset, fell back into that bad habit. Remember, it happened the night before Jesus was crucified:
Mark 14:69-71 (NASB)..69 The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, “This is one of them!” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.” 71 But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!”
He went right back into his old ways. He had been a disciple for a long time, but he still wasn’t perfect. You would think God would say, “Peter, you’re a headache, you made Me work overtime, I’m going to find somebody else.” No, as long as your heart is turned toward God, He’s going to keep working with you.
God does not expect us to be perfect, but He does expect us to keep trying, growing. You have to stay flexible, willing to change. When you make mistakes, don’t stay down on yourself; get back up and go again.
Peter blew it big time, but he repented, asked for forgiveness, and kept moving forward. He had to fight off the guilt, condemnation, the voices telling him he was a failure and that he was never going to change; he didn’t believe those lies. He knew he was on the potter’s wheel; God was making him and moulding him, he was in the process of changing.
Here’s the key; Peter accepted himself, even though he had some issues. His performance wasn’t perfect, but he kept his heart perfect, turned towards God.
My Question To You: Why don’t you stop beating yourself up because you don’t perform perfectly all the time, and start accepting yourself because your heart is right?
When you live guilty and condemned, feeling wrong on the inside, it only makes you do worse. It takes a mature attitude to say, “I am happy with who I am, even though I’m not where I want to be. I’ve still got these issues, I still struggle in some areas, but I know I’m growing, improving. My heart is turned toward God, so I’m not going to beat myself up, I’m going to enjoy where I am while I’m in the process of being changed.”
But too many people, they go around feeling wrong on the inside; they’re so focused on their flaws and weaknesses, what they’re not, that they don’t like WHO they are.
If You Don’t Like Yourself, Nobody Else Is Going To Like You. You Project On Others The Way You Feel About Yourself.
If you feel guilty, lousy, condemned, mad at yourself because you’re not far enough along, that’s not only going to hold you back, you’re not going to have good relationships. Quit taking inventory of everything that’s wrong with you; you may have a lot wrong, but you have a lot more right with you. When God made you, He wasn’t having a bad day; you are not a mistake, you have been fearfully and wonderfully made. In fact, when God created you, He stepped back and said, “that was good.” He calls you a masterpiece. Quit living like you’re ordinary, mediocre, average, when in fact you are one of a kind, a prized possession, wearing a crown of favour.
Paul Said In Ephesians: Put On God’s Approval As Your Breastplate
Ephesians 6:14 (NASB)..14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness
Ephesians 6:14 (GW)..14 … Put on God’s approval as your breastplate.
Every day, you need to say, “Father, thank You that You approve me, that you are proud of me.” When you put on this approval, chains of inferiority, of low self-esteem, guilt, and condemnation, those chains are broken. There’s a freedom when you know you’ve been approved by God. You’re His prized possession; He created you in His own image. Don’t go through life being against yourself.
Well Bro Melwyn, “God doesn’t approve me. I make a lot of mistakes, I don’t do everything right, I’m still struggling with my temper”; You’re not a finished product, God is still working on you.
He doesn’t say, “i’ll approve you when you perform perfectly, when you get it all together,” no, He approves you right where you are. He may not approve all of your behavior, but He approves you. God said you were good before you did one good thing. You don’t have to keep working trying to gain God’s approval, you already have it.
You may make mistakes, we all do, you may fail from time to time, but here’s the key; That’s What You Do, That’s Not Who You Are.
We get our performance mixed up with our identity. If you ask someone, “who are you?” Often they’ll say, “I’m A Businessperson, Firefighter, Pastor, Coach, Architect.”
The truth is, that’s what you do, not WHO YOU ARE; Who You Are Is A Child Of The Most High God. That’s where your value, worth comes from, FROM YOUR WHO, NOT YOUR DO, because you may do things that are not who you are.
Well bro Melwyn, “I’m an alcoholic, i’ve got this problem with drinking”; that’s what you do, that’s not who you are. “I failed in business; I guess I’m a failure”; failure is an event, it is not a person. Nothing you can do changes your value; Your WHO Has Been Set By The Creator.
But the enemy would love for us to go around like we don’t deserve God’s blessings; he’s called the accuser. He’ll constantly whisper in your ear, “you’re still struggling with that bad habit; God’s never going to bless you, you can’t get anything right”; don’t believe those lies, your who never changed. Every morning when you get up, no matter how many mistakes you’ve made, how many weaknesses you have, you have to put on the breastplate of God’s approval, “God, I want to thank You that You approve, accept, are proud of me. The breastplate covers your heart; it has to do with how you think about yourself.
If you think you’ve made too many mistakes, you don’t deserve God’s goodness, “I’m so disappointed in where I am now,” that’s going keep you from your destiny. You have to shake off the disapproval, and remind yourself, “i’ve been approved by the One Who matters most.”
Not approved when you perform perfectly, overcome the bad habit, no, you are approved right where you are.
Illustration As Narrated By A Pastor Timothy: I never dreamed that taking a child to Disney World could be so difficult — or that such a trip could teach me so much about God’s outrageous grace.
Our middle daughter had been previously adopted by another family. I [Timothy] am sure this couple had the best of intentions, but they never quite integrated the adopted child into their family of biological children. After a couple of rough years, they dissolved the adoption, and we ended up welcoming an eight-year-old girl into our home.
For one reason or another, whenever our daughter’s previous family vacationed at Disney World, they took their biological children with them, but they left their adopted daughter with a family friend. Usually — at least in the child’s mind — this happened because she did something wrong that precluded her presence on the trip.
And so, by the time we adopted our daughter, she had seen many pictures of Disney World and she had heard about the rides and the characters and the parades. But when it came to passing through the gates of the Magic Kingdom, she had always been the one left on the outside. Once I found out about this history, I made plans to take her to Disney World the next time a speaking engagement took our family to the south eastern United States.
I thought I had mastered the Disney World drill. I knew from previous experiences that the prospect of seeing cast members in freakishly oversized mouse and duck costumes somehow turns children into squirming bundles of emotional instability. What I didn’t expect was that the prospect of visiting this dream world would produce a stream of downright devilish behaviour in our newest daughter. In the month leading up to our trip to the Magic Kingdom, she stole food when a simple request would have gained her a snack. She lied when it would have been easier to tell the truth. She whispered insults that were carefully crafted to hurt her older sister as deeply as possible — and, as the days on the calendar moved closer to the trip, her mutinies multiplied.
A couple of days before our family headed to Florida, I pulled our daughter into my lap to talk through her latest escapade. “I know what you’re going to do,” she stated flatly. “You’re not going to take me to Disney World, are you?” The thought hadn’t actually crossed my mind, but her downward spiral suddenly started to make some sense. She knew she couldn’t earn her way into the Magic Kingdom — she had tried and failed that test several times before — so she was living in a way that placed her as far as possible from the most magical place on earth.
In retrospect, I’m embarrassed to admit that, in that moment, I was tempted to turn her fear to my own advantage. The easiest response would have been, “If you don’t start behaving better, you’re right, we won’t take you” — but, by God’s grace, I didn’t. Instead, I asked her, “Is this trip something we’re doing as a family?”
She nodded, brown eyes wide and tear-rimmed. “Are you part of this family?” She nodded again.
“Then you’re going with us. Sure, there may be some consequences to help you remember what’s right and what’s wrong — but you’re part of our family, and we’re not leaving you behind.”
I’d like to say that her behaviours grew better after that moment. They didn’t. Her choices pretty much spiralled out of control at every hotel and rest stop all the way to Lake Buena Vista. Still, we headed to Disney World on the day we had promised, and it was a typical Disney day. Overpriced tickets, overpriced meals, and lots of lines, mingled with just enough manufactured magic to consider maybe going again someday.
In our hotel room that evening, a very different child emerged. She was exhausted, pensive, and a little weepy at times, but her month-long facade of rebellion had faded. When bedtime rolled around, I prayed with her, held her, and asked, “So how was your first day at Disney World?”
She closed her eyes and snuggled down into her stuffed unicorn. After a few moments, she opened her eyes ever so slightly. “Daddy,” she said, “I finally got to go to Disney World. But it wasn’t because I was good; it’s because I’m yours.”
It wasn’t because I was good; it’s because I’m yours.
When you gave your life to Christ, you were born into a new family. You were given a new name; child of the most high God. You may make some mistakes, you may fall down, have weaknesses; the good news is, none of that changes your name. Nothing you do can change your WHO; it has been set by the Creator of the universe.
It’s Very Freeing When You Can Be Happy With Who You Are, Even Though You Have Some Areas That You Still Need To Improve In.
Think about the apostle Paul; he said:
Romans 7:15 (NIV)..15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
He wasn’t perfect; he still struggled in some areas. If he would’ve been down on himself, thinking, “why can’t I get it right?” He wouldn’t have written almost half of the New Testament, become one of the heroes of faith. Paul was smart. Instead of listening to Satan’s accusations of his own shortcomings, Paul listened once more to the message of Christ. And so he leaves the dark words of Romans 7 to make a startling statement as Chapter 8 begins. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!
You don’t have to have it all together in order to do something great. If you’re waiting until you’ve overcome all your weaknesses, perform perfectly, then you’re going to feel good about yourself, you’ll be waiting your whole life. There are some weaknesses that God leaves on purpose so that we have to depend on Him; otherwise, we would think that we could do it all in our own strength.
Why don’t you start feeling good about yourself right where you are?
If Paul can write almost half of the New Testament, with flaws and weaknesses, then you can accomplish your dreams with what you’re dealing with. When you’re on the potter’s wheel, you’re the most flexible, the easiest to work with, when you’re at peace with yourself; not upset, angry on the inside, disappointed because you’re not where you think you should be, all that’s doing is slowing down the process. The right attitude is, “I may have some things wrong with me, but I’m at peace. I know I’m on the way, in the process, and what God started in my life, He’s going to finish.”
God said in Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 1:5 (AMP)..5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you
Something powerful happens when you have the boldness to say, “God, I know You approve me, so I’m going to approve myself. I am happy with who I am.”
You can enjoy the glory that you’re in while God is preparing you for the next level of glory. I want you to feel good about who you are.
When you are positive towards yourself, you’re in agreement with God. “what about the mistake I made last week, that failure I made last year?” The moment you repented, and asked God to forgive you, He not only forgave you, but He doesn’t remember it anymore:
Hebrews 10:17 (NIV)..17 … “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
Hebrews 8:12 (NKJV)..12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
Jeremiah 31:34 (NASB)..34 … declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Isaiah 43:25 (ISV)..25 “I, I am the one who blots out your transgression for my own sake, and i’ll remember your sins no more
Quit remembering what God has forgotten and Quit letting the accuser tell you everything that you’re not.
Your performance may not have been perfect, but your heart is perfect; that’s what matters to God.
I’m not saying to use this as an excuse to live sloppy, mediocre, do whatever you want, I’m talking about not letting guilt and condemnation keep you from your destiny.
Bottom Line; God Is Not Keeping A Record Of All Of Our Mistakes.
Sometimes, we think God must be up in the heavens, sitting at His computer, closely watching, waiting for us to fail;
No, God is not waiting for you to perform perfectly before He can show you His goodness; He is looking for hearts that are turned perfect toward Him.
When you say, “God, I love You, I need You, I can’t do this on my own, help me to make good decisions,” when you show your dependency on Him like that, you go through the day talking to Him, under your breath, thanking Him for life, health, family, opportunity, you go to bed with a grateful attitude, saying, “Lord, thank you for another beautiful day,” when your heart is turned towards God, He’ll not only give you the grace to overcome things that are holding you back, He’ll give you the favor to reach your highest potential.
Illustration: As parents, our children make mistakes, they have weaknesses, but we know that they’re growing, learning, making progress. If you were to ask me if I was pleased with my daughter Hosanna, the first thing that I would do would not be to make a list of all her mistakes, tell you everything she has done wrong for the last 3 months. I wouldn’t have to think twice; I would say, “yes, I’m very pleased, she is a wonderful child.” I would make a list of everything I like about them;
That’s the way God thinks of you. He’s not focusing on your faults, looking at everything that you’ve done wrong, making a list of your shortcomings; He’s focusing on what you’re doing right, looking at how you’re growing, making progress, not where you used to be.
He’s focused on the fact that you’re still in the game, that you got back up again, you’re here today, you have a desire to please Him. That’s what God is looking at. It’s your heart that matters.
When you have the right image of God, you realize that He is for you, that He is not basing His goodness on your perfect performance, then all the guilt, condemnation, the feeling that something is wrong on the inside, they don’t stand a chance. You’ll put your shoulders back, hold your head up high, knowing that just like the disciples, God hand-picked you, not because you were perfect, but because He could see your heart. God is pleased with you. He is not disappointed in where you are, not shaking His head thinking, “when are they ever going to grow up?” You are right on schedule. He has you on His potter’s wheel; He’s making you and molding you.
Now do your part: stay positive toward yourself, keep your heart turned toward God. He’s going to show Himself strong in your life.
Illustration: Hosanna was a little girl. One day I just spent one hour cleaning the floor and tiles of the washroom and I had swabbed. I could see my reflection in it. I was so proud of it. I just took a break and went down to clean my bike. A couple of hours later Hosanna came running in to me,very excited. She was four years old. She had been in the my bedroom with ruth while she worked on cleaning the window panes. She said daddy daddy I just washed your washroom for you. My heart sunk. I thought surely she did not touch that washroom which I had cleaned. She said I found your cloth and your scrubber. Do you want to come see in. I thought not really. I’m already depressed but i went and looked at the washroom. She had taken my old dirty cloth and gone all over that washroom. It looked terrible but i didn’t say anything to her about it. I didn’t shout at her and say, “Hosanna can’t you see the washroom was clean. You made it look worse.” I knew her heart was right. So I just got the water and cleaned up the mess. Didn’t say a word to her about it.
I wonder how many times God does this with us; we make the mess, but because our heart is right, God causes it to all work out, never says anything about it.
We made a wrong turn, got involved in something we had no business being involved in, but God looked at our heart, and didn’t hold it against us. He cleaned up the mess.
The scripture says in James:
James 1:5 (NIV)..5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
God is not a fault-finder. He doesn’t go around accusing, saying, “I told you so. You should’ve known that was going to happen. You’re on your own now.” No, God is full of mercy. We deserve judgment. We deserve having to deal with our own problems. But because your heart is right, God will show you favor that you didn’t deserve. He’ll help you clean up a mess that you made, and on top of that, not even condemn you for it.
We see this principle in the scripture. Jesus was at a Pharisee’s house, about to have dinner:
Luke 7:37-39 (ISV)
37 There was a woman who was a notorious sinner in that city. When she learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s home, she took an alabaster jar of perfume 38 and knelt at his feet behind him. She was crying and began to wash his feet with her tears and dry them with her hair. Then she kissed his feet over and over again, anointing them constantly with the perfume.
39 Now the Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this and told himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who is touching him and what kind of woman she is. She’s a sinner!”
They looked on the outside, judged her performance. Her performance said, “she’s not valuable, she’ll never amount to anything.” Her performance was poor, but deep down, this lady had a heart turned toward God. She’d made lots of mistakes, but she took this unusual step, to pour this oil on Jesus’ feet. The religious leaders were watching closely; “what’s he going to do? Condemn her throw, her out? Is he a real prophet?” Jesus began to tell a parable:
Luke 7:41-43 (NIV)..41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he said:
Luke 7:47-48 (NIV)..47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown… 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Notice, the lady made the mess, she spent years making wrong decisions, but when she took one step toward God, He didn’t condemn her, He didn’t chew her out, He showed her mercy, cleaned up the mess, and never said anything about it, never talked about her past. That’s the God we serve; it’s not your performance, it’s your heart that matters.
Maybe you too have made a mess of things; you’re not where you thought you would be in life. You brought the trouble on yourself, you’re thinking, “God’s never going to help me, it’s my own fault”; but God is not judging you based on what you’ve done. He is not looking at past mistakes, past failures; He’s looking at your heart. The real question today is, is your heart turned toward God? If you’ll do like this lady, instead of running away from God, run to God, and say, “God, I need you in my life. I want to do what’s right. God, help me to become who You created me to be.” When you take one step toward God, He’ll come running toward you. The scripture says:
James 4:8 (TLB)..8 And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you
He won’t disappoint you. He’ll turn situations around. He’ll help you get back on the right path. He’ll even clean up a mess that you made.
Jesus admonished the religious leaders; they did everything right, but their heart was wrong. This lady he forgave, showed her mercy even though her actions were wrong. It’s your heart that matters.
If God’s goodness was only based on our perfect behavior, none of us would have a chance, because we all fall short, we all have flaws and weaknesses. But when your heart is turned perfect toward God, you may make mistakes, you may get off course, but when you make one move to come back, God won’t say, “I don’t think so. I’ve seen how you’ve been living; you don’t deserve My goodness.” No, because your heart is right, God will show Himself strong in your life. That means, He’ll forgive you when you don’t deserve it, show your favor even though you didn’t earn it, clean up a mess that you made.
Don’t go through life feeling wrong on the inside. You may have made mistakes; good news, none of that changed your name, you are still a child of the most high God. He has already approved you.
Now get up every morning, and start approving yourself; put on that approval, shake off the guilt, condemnation. Keep your heart turned toward God.