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You Are God’s Canvas

Nov 17, 2017

PROGRAM D-7970

It took me far-too-long to accept and appreciate the way God created me. For many years I thought that my personality was not appropriate for a Christian woman, and I felt guilty about it. However, I really couldn’t change it, though I tried.

When we live like that, we not only fail to appreciate God’s creativity in us, but we also open ourselves up to envying others, being jealous of them, and to discontentment. When I finally began to learn the truth which set me free from this wrong thinking—and this truth is that I am God’s creation, his workmanship, and his masterpiece, and that I am created in his image for his purposes—I can honestly say that now I’m perfectly happy with how God chose to create me. I no longer live in that place of guilt and lack of contentment.

Of course, God isn’t finished with me yet. Yes, I am his canvas and he’s painting his picture in and through me, but there are still areas that need improvement. He’s polishing my rough edges and helping me grow more like Jesus—which is his purpose for me. However, I don’t want to be anyone else any longer. I no longer feel disappointed in how God chose to create me, but the opposite: I feel appreciation for his creativity in me!

Are you at that place yet? Oh, I hope so, because when you are, you are free from yourself! It sets you free to appreciate who you are, and then you can forget yourself and think about others. You can reach out to others with God’s love and care, knowing you are secure in Christ and he is alive and at work in your life. Knowing that you are God’s canvas and he’s a master artist really frees you from being self-focused. It’s an amazing thing that happens, as you no longer have to think about yourself, compare yourself to others, degrade yourself, or cover-up yourself! You can be free from yourself—and that is really great freedom!

I pray you will know this freedom of who you are, so you too can live in a place of contentment and become more focused on others and less focused on yourself. This is the abundant life Jesus came to give you!

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You Are God’s Canvas

Nov 16, 2017

PROGRAM D-7969

You are God’s canvas and he is a master artist! This is my message for you: God did not make a mistake when he created you; you are his image-bearer, created in his image; you are not an accidental coming-together of atoms or molecules; you are God’s specific and intentional creation.

If you began each day affirming this truth, I believe it would change the way you see your world and the way you see yourself! Remembering who you are in Christ and how God values you starts to undermine all those negative tapes that have been playing in your head for way too long.

What are some of your negative tapes? I think of a woman who could never meet her mother’s expectations. She had this old tape in her head that says she never did things right and she never measured up. Another friend heard her mother say—almost daily—that she was a mistake, an unplanned baby, and that her mother’s life would have been much easier had she not been born. This tape kept playing in her head that she was an unwanted mistake, so she spent most of her adult life trying to hear her mother say that she was glad she had been born.

What negative message has someone programmed into your mind in the past that keeps repeating itself over and over? If you can identify that tape and call it what it is—a lie—and refuse to believe that lie any longer, you can begin to appreciate who you are. You can know that you are God’s canvas and he is in the process of painting a beautiful picture in you.

I have a good friend who began to see the tapes that had been playing in her mind for what they were—lies—and she started confronting them out loud. As that negative lie would start to play again, she would say, “That’s a lie! I don’t believe it anymore!”  Then she would recite who she is in Christ, affirming that she is God’s canvas and that he is doing beautiful work in her life. It took a while to erase those old tapes, but she faithfully confronted them with God’s truth. Now those tapes no longer have any power in her life because she resisted them and refused to let them have a place in her mind.

Remember, you are God’s canvas and he’s doing good things in and through you.

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You Are God’s Canvas

Nov 15, 2017

PROGRAM D-7968

Are you happy with the way God created you? I want to encourage you and help you get to that place because, as soon as you can accept yourself and believe that God has made you for special and unique purposes, you experience wonderful benefits: You are free! The person God has created you to be starts to shine through beautifully! You are able to see just why God made you the way you are! You discover that there is a lot more to you which you didn’t even recognize before!

God is free to work in and through us when we’re free to say, “Thank you, Jesus, you didn’t make a mistake when you made me. Now, please take what you have made and use it for the purposes you intended.”

When an artist creates a painting—and it is a good painting—what do we say about the painting? We say, “What a wonderful painting! That artist is very good.” Who gets credit for the painting? The artist, of course. We don’t give the painting credit; that would be silly. It is nothing but a blank canvas until that artist turns it into a thing of beauty.

Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s workmanship—or God’s masterpiece—created in Christ Jesus to do good works which he ordained in advance for us to do. He is the artist and we are his canvas. As God’s canvas, we are not our own; we belong to him. We were created by him and for him.

Paul writes that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit; we are not our own, but belong to Christ. For those of us who have been born from above through faith in Jesus Christ, we have been made new. He created us anew in Christ Jesus. The old has gone, the new has come. Have you been created anew in Christ? That’s what Jesus was talking about when he told Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” You need to be created anew. It is that new creation that then becomes God’s canvas on which he paints his masterpiece.

This verse then tells you why he created you, why you are here: you are here to do the good works he planned for you to do. This means that God has a list of good things for you—explicitly you—to do, and your reason for being here is to know and do those good things.

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You Are God’s Canvas

Nov 14, 2017

PROGRAM D-7967

You are God’s canvas, and that he is a wonderful and perfect artist! Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s workmanship or, as another translation puts it, we are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ to do good works.

First of all, this truth means that you are not a mistake! God didn’t make a mistake when he designed you. You were planned in the mind of God. You were not a haphazard coming-together of atoms or molecules, nor were you an accident of nature. You were designed according to God’s plan.

Secondly, what you are is like what God is! You were created in the image of God. Be careful: don’t confuse this with New Age teaching which says we’re all gods. That certainly is not true. But it is true that we were all created in God’s image. This means that God has traits like you. Part of God’s personality is just like your personality, because you were created in his image.

It is very important that you understand this basic truth of Scripture. It will change your whole attitude toward who you are. I remember when it first began to dawn on me that God had given me my personality for a purpose. What looked to me like a big mistake was not at all so.

I began little by little to accept that God had made me the way I am for his purposes. He gave me gifts and abilities which he intends to be used in his kingdom and for his glory. As I’ve become more and more comfortable with who I am and the way I’ve been created, then I’ve learned to enjoy and appreciate who I am. I don’t think I’d really want to be anyone else any longer. I like the way God created me.

And it’s okay to say that. It’s okay for you to say that about yourself! Go ahead and say it: “I like the way God created me.” What you are doing is affirming that God doesn’t make mistakes, and you are pleased with his creation. That’s not pride—assuming your heart attitude is correct. That is simply thanking God for his creativity and recognizing that his creation is good.

Remind yourself over and over throughout the day that you are God’s canvas, his masterpiece, and he doesn’t make mistakes!

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You Are God’s Canvas

Nov 13, 2017

PROGRAM D-7966

Do you ever wish you could be someone else? I imagine all of us have wished we could change ourselves or our lives in some way—at some time.

I remember after my freshman year in college, I tried very hard to change my personality and be like I thought a young woman should be. I was trying to copy another girl in my college who seemed to be everything I wasn’t; I thought surely that was how I should be. I truly tried to change, but I couldn’t keep it up. Instead of coming across like this other girl, I came across as phony and aloof. I remember feeling very discouraged as I realized I was stuck with who I was, like it or not.

I suppose we’ve all been through similar experiences—when we’ve tried to change our personalities and be like someone else instead of being ourselves. Could it be that you are unhappy with who you are and find yourself wanting to be like someone else? Maybe, like me, you’ve tried to change your personality and have found it doesn’t seem to work.

Did you ever stop and think about what it really means when you try to be like someone else? It means you think God made a mistake in the way he made you. It means you would have created yourself differently if you’d had a choice. It demonstrates a lack of trust in God’s wisdom. Finally, it says you think God was either wrong or cruel to make you the way you are.

I want to encourage you to remember that you are unique: There’s no one else like you in the whole world! God is so infinitely creative that he’s able to give each of us unique traits and personalities, and he has designed you to be yourself. You are God’s canvas! Scripture tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, that God knit us together in our mother’s womb, that he is intimately acquainted with us down to counting the hairs on our heads, and we are each created in his image.

Let me remind you that you are God’s canvas and he is an amazing artist! You are his masterpiece, and you don’t have to be anyone else in order to be who God created you to be. Yes, I’m aware that he hasn’t finished his artistic work in you yet—there are still some improvements to be made. However, he has chosen the canvas—you—and he is forming you into the image of Jesus Christ!

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An Attitude of Gratitude

Nov 11, 2017

PROGRAM W-1701

I believe one of the greatest challenges we face is to develop a real attitude of gratitude—a true heart-filled wonder at God’s goodness so that we are focusing on the good things instead of being swallowed up by the troubles and difficulties of this life. Don’t you know that the enemy of our soul would love to keep us from being thankful people? If we stay mired in worry, complaining, and negative attitudes, then we’re not much of a witness for our Lord.

However, a person who develops a real, genuine attitude of gratitude is the kind of person you love to be with, the kind who exudes the joy of the Lord. In this Thanksgiving month, I want to remind you of some ways you and I can develop a life-long attitude of gratitude. We have to be intentional about it; it won’t just happen. It’s all in our minds—how we think and what we think about.

I think we need to go back to the wonder of all that God has done for us. It is that childlike wonder that we so often and so easily lose in our walk with the Lord. Yes, we’ve got the doctrine straight; yes, we’re faithful to our church; yes, we read the Bible and pray occasionally. But we lose the wonder—the joy, the excitement, the curiosity, the sunshine-basking that is ours to enjoy. We lose it, and we lose that attitude of gratefulness.

The church at Ephesus had lost the wonder. In Revelation 2 we read about all the good things they had done and were doing, but it was written about them that they had forsaken their first love. That’s another way of saying they lost the wonder.

Have you lost the wonder? Check up on yourself as I mention some of the wonders we need to recover.

Have you lost the wonder of your salvation?

Have you lost the wonder of being born from above? When was the last time you shared your story of the time when you became a child of God? When was the last time you prayed: “Lord, thank you so much that I’m born from above and I know that I’ll spend eternity with you”?

Nothing could be more wonderful than our salvation—to wonder that the God of heaven sent his Son to die as a sacrifice for our sins; that he has enabled us to believe in him; and, because we have believed, we are now his children and destined for heaven. That is wonderful! Have you lost the wonder of it?

If so, here are some ways to regain it: Meditate on it daily. Thank God for your salvation every day. Think about where you would be if you were not saved. Think of the pit from which God picked you up. To help me remember the wonder of my salvation, I often pray this passage from Psalm 40:2-3:

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.

Oh, the wonder of salvation! Recover the wonder. Next time you’re with some Christian friends, instead of small talk or some equally unedifying conversation, why not have everyone share their salvation testimony? It’s a great way to spend an evening and, believe me, it will help you recover the wonder of your salvation.

Have you lost the wonder of God’s creation?

Do you just take all the beauty and extravagance of the world for granted? When was the last time you enjoyed a beautiful flower or sunset? Many of us have little balance in our life when it comes to enjoying God’s creation, and we miss a great deal when we ignore the wonder of creation. David was a man after God’s own heart. One reason was because he never lost the wonder of God. He wrote:

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4)

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1)

You see, when we lose the wonder of God’s creation, we lose a lot of the wonder of who God is. Many times I just sit and think about how God spoke the worlds into being. He created this unfathomable universe where we live. Our galaxy has over 100 billion stars and he knows everyone of them by name. Snowflakes are all designed by him. He created atoms and angels and ants and crocodiles and chiggers and clouds and elephants and eagles and electricity and orchids and onions and octopuses and frogs and hummingbirds and tigers and raindrops and sweat drops and blood drops and dew drops!

If we were any closer to the sun we would burn to a crisp. If we were further away our planet would turn to ice. But God keeps our earth exactly the right distance from the sun. The oceans and tides are controlled by him—he keeps them in bounds.

Have you lost the wonder of his creation? Take some time to sit and look around you at the beauty of the world. Whether it’s boat rides or long walks in the woods, you need to find some way to recover the wonder of the creation of God.

Have you lost the wonder of your uniqueness?

So often we forget who we are in Christ and the wonder of how God has created us. David wrote:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14)

You are made full of wonder; have you ever really appreciated the wonder of who you are? I’m certainly not talking about improving your self-esteem or working on your self-image. Much of that teaching is not biblical. But it is totally biblical to be awestruck at the wonder of God’s creativity in you.

Right now, list out loud the things about you that are unique. You may be a wonderful listener, a great encourager, a gifted writer or speaker; a gift of joy that you bring to others. Are you a helper—someone who is just there for others in their times of need? That’s wonderful! Say so. Thank God for who you are.

If you’ve lost the wonder of who you are, maybe it’s because you keep comparing yourself to others and wishing you were like them. That really cramps your style, keeping you discouraged and depressed. Recover the wonder of who you are by appreciating who others are but not envying them. Thank God for who you are.

If you’ve lost the wonder of who you are, maybe it’s because you haven’t been a good steward of what God has given you. If you fail to use your gifts and abilities, if you never develop your skills and talents to their potential, then you really don’t know how wonderfully God has created you.

Have you lost the wonder of what God has called you to do?

Sometimes we get caught up in the hard work, the busy schedule, and the long days—and we lose the wonder that God calls us to serve him, and uses us in the lives of other people. As I read emails from our listeners and meet many of you in my travels, I am awestruck when you tell me how God has used a message or a book of mine to help you. Truly it is wonderful that God would use me to help others—it still blows my mind because I know that I personally have nothing to offer anyone. Yet God uses the weak and lowly things of this world, the despised things and the foolish things—like me—to shame the strong. That is awesome, isn’t it?

Has your ministry and work for God simply become another thing on your to-do list? Have you lost the wonder that God would, could, and does use you as part of his kingdom work? Ask God to restore the wonder of what you have been called to do. It makes it so much easier to get up each day when you feel a sense of wonder at God’s working in your life.

Have you lost the wonder of Jesus?

In Mark 9:15 we read, “As soon as the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.” When was the last time you were “overwhelmed with wonder” because of Jesus? Have you thought about these truths lately:

  • He is the centerpiece of civilization – he stands in the solitude of himself.
  • He is august and he is unique.
  • He is unparalleled.
  • He is unprecedented.
  • He is undisputed.
  • He is unsurpassed.
  • He is the miracle of the ages.
  • No means of measure can define his limitless love.
  • No far-seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of his shoreless supply.
  • He is enduringly strong.
  • He is entirely sincere.
  • He is eternally steadfast.
  • He is immortally gracious.
  • He is imperially powerful.
  • He is impartially merciful.
  • He is the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizons of the globe.
  • His life is matchless.
  • His love is limitless.
  • His mercy is enough.
  • His grace is sufficient.
  • His reign is righteous.
  • His yoke is easy.
  • He is indestructible.
  • He is indescribable.
  • He is incomprehensible.
  • He is invincible.
  • He is irresistible.
  • He is inescapable.
  • He is inestimable.
  • You can’t outlive him, and you can’t live without him.
  • You can’t get him out of your mind and you can’t get him out of your heart.
  • The Pharisees couldn’t stand him, but they found they couldn’t stop him.
  • Pilot couldn’t find any fault with him.
  • Herod couldn’t kill him.
  • Death couldn’t handle him, and the grave couldn’t hold him.

 

Recapture the wonder of Jesus. Go back into that first love, that awestruck wonder that Jesus came to earth for you, died for you, rose again for you, and ever lives to make intercession for you. If that’s not wonderful, I don’t know what is!

This Thanksgiving month is a great time to recover the wonder of your salvation, God’s creation, the unique way God has created you, the special gifts and calling he has given you, and Jesus.

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