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Good or Bad - I am HIS

Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life, your bodies feeling the effects of your sin; You couldn’t stand the sight of food, so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time. He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves; Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what he’s done—sing it out! (Psalm 107:17-22 MSG)

It is so true - our bodies feel the effects of our sin. Our minds feel the effects in feelings of guilt or shame. Our emotions play on our memories and these weigh us down with depression, anxiety, and perpetual feelings of low self-worth. Live well and there is balance; live poorly and there is imbalance. Convictions aren't always enough to carry us through in life - we need to make the right choices to back up those convictions - without compromising the values by which God wants us to live.

Despite our greatest efforts to make ourselves 'feel better', we find ourselves feeling worse than before. We allow ourselves to be "belittled" by our own thoughts. It is one thing to allow another to belittle us, but quite another to do that work ourselves. We can tell ourselves all kinds of "horror stories" about why we aren't "good enough", "worthy", or even "forgivable", but the truth of the matter is that God sees us through the finished work of Christ - nothing can detract from the beauty he sees when he looks at us through the blood of Jesus.

A couple of thoughts this morning for us to ponder:

1. Choice doesn't have to define us. We make one choice in life that really matters and which can "define us" - that is the choice of asking Jesus into our lives - of accepting his finished work of grace. Notice I said it is a finished work. In our everyday exchanges, it may not seem like God has "finished us", but in terms of what needed to be done to restore us to right relationship with him - it is DONE. All the other choices we make in life don't have to be what gives us our definition. Sure, they might leave imprints on our lives that make it hard to ever deny they existed. But...grace redefines those definitions. We may want to hold onto them a little bit too long, though. We refuse to believe we have really been changed. If we have been embraced by God's grace, the change is both complete and underway. Complete because all he does is final - underway because our minds and hearts have to catch up to what he already has accomplished!

2. Criticisms don't have to paralyze us. In life, there are those who encourage and those who seem to be in the place of holding us down, making us feel inferior, or just plain making all kinds of observations about us that are unnecessary and not uplifting. Criticism is judgment taken to the point of hurting another - it is pointing out the demerits in another and demeaning the worth or value of the other person. Criticism compares something to something else and comes to the conclusion one of the objects being compared is inferior. When that object is us, we are left with broken dreams, damaged emotions, and faulty feelings of self-worth. There is hope, though, for damaged emotions, unfulfilled dreams, and of feeling valued - it is found in Christ. To look to another to give us any of these things is to look to a faulty source.

3. Convictions aren't always aligned well - we can have lots and lots of convictions and still take a totally wrong path in life. It is so important to ensure our convictions align with what God reveals of his will in his Word. To have other types of convictions apart from what God determines to be right and true is to set ourselves up to make wrong choices, be open to criticisms galore, and to then deal with deep-seated guilt or shame. To be solid in our convictions doesn't immediately change our feelings of self-worth, but it does begin to change our choices. Right choices may not make us stand out to the world as "better than", but it helps us to feel good about where we stand with God and that is really all that matters. Criticize all you like, but when our choices are right, the only judgment that matters is God's! Just sayin!

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