Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Words of conviction and encouragement.

Do you ever have those Sundays where you come away particularly convicted, but also encouraged? Sunday was one of those days for me.

Pastor Mark preached from John 14:22-29. In this Jesus tells His disciples, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." Jesus does not tell us to keep his words but his word. In John 1, it says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God....And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." I am not a Bible scholar, but here are my thoughts. When Jesus tells His disciples (he is speaking to His disciples there with Him, but also to all the disciples to come) to "keep my word" it seems to me He is referring to Himself. Believe in Jesus and He will make His home in us.

Okay here was what convicted me: self-criticism. I can't remember exactly how this fit into the sermon (I promise, I was paying attention!), but near the end Pastor Mark brought up self-criticism and how dwelling in that is harmful for us. I am, and always have been I think, rather hard on myself. I demand perfection of myself and grow frustrated when I fail, which not surprisingly pretty much happens every time. (You'd think I'd learn.) I've been very much aware of late that this isn't right. God created me. He loves me. And yet I berate myself to no end. I struggle to see the beauty in myself that I know that God sees, that He created, that He loves. Having high standards for myself isn't wrong, but unattainable expectations that leave me frustrated with myself and often with God, is unhealthy and wrong. My goal in life should be to glorify God in how I live and I cannot fully participate in that with the way I have been living and viewing myself. I've been praying for God to cause me to learn to see myself through His eyes, that I might live a glorifying life. My Jeremy has also been encouraging me in this.

The encouragement: I am a child of God; I know that. However, perhaps out of laziness, I often think of my salvation as a passive occurrence. You know, that Jesus died on the cross and eventually because of that I was saved. On Sunday I was reminded that my salvation is an active act of love. Jesus didn't die and rise again for the possibility of my salvation, He went through that specifically to purchase my salvation. If I was the only person in history that was saved, Jesus would still have died. Wow! My salvation was part of that plan from the beginning. He died for me, for Stephanie! I've known this since I was a child, but what a blessing to be reminded of Christ's love for me. My eyes filled with tears as I thought about Jesus suffering on the Cross so that this girl, born in the 20th century would be saved to eternal life. That Jesus desired specifically to make His home in me.


Kim said...

Awesome post, Steph, and so good for me to read, too. Thank you.

Margaret said...

This is great! It's something I've been working on too. It doesn't bring anyone happiness, and it certainly doesn't bring God glory when I am constantly critical of myself.

Lana Joy said...

As might not be surprising, I can relate to this post -- to the self-criticism and wrong view of self part. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and reminding us, your readers, that Christ died for us, individually, and that we can live and be free from our expectations of ourselves when we live to glorify him. Thanks, Steph.

Anonymous said...

A good reminder for all of us. I have trouble remembering things in church and am easily frustrated with many things after car issues, and not getting a certain job this week. This blog is one that I need to bookmark. Well-written!!

Evan said...


You are an awesome person and I'm lucky enough to be your relative! I can't wait to see you and Jeremy at Memorial Day. I really hope you can make it. I miss you.

Your post was just what I needed to read today. It has been a rough week at the Gottschalk (2) House.

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