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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 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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Leave It Better Than You Found It

Nov 10, 2017

PROGRAM D-7965

Leave it better than you found it—that’s a Boy Scout slogan. I’ve never been a Boy Scout, but I’m sure I could benefit from making that a personal goal—to leave everything better than I found it.

I’ve examined how we can leave our jobs better than we found them, leave our relationships and environments better than we found them, and leave our churches better than we found them.

I want to tell you about my friend, Cynthia, who definitely left a situation at her work so much better than she found it. Some years ago, she worked in a department where one coworker made it very clear that she and Cynthia could never be friends because Cynthia was African-American. It’s hard to believe that someone would actually say that, but this person said those very words to Cynthia.

Thankfully, Cynthia was able to get beyond her hurt feelings and respond appropriately to this situation. She prayed about it, and got the idea to start what she called “Project Love.” She didn’t announce to her coworkers that she was starting “Project Love,” she just decided to do it. Besides being kind and considerate on a daily basis, she decided to invite each person in her department to have lunch with her as her guest. Once a week she would deliver a written lunch invitation to a coworker, including this woman who said they could never be friends.

Who can refuse such an invitation? So, the two of them went to lunch. As a result, they began to get to know each other and this woman saw how wrong her attitude had been. She realized what a good friend Cynthia could be, and before long they became friends. Now this woman openly and proudly claims Cynthia as a friend and, though they no longer work together, they still keep in touch.

Cynthia left that place and that relationship so much better than she found them. She could have responded with anger and bitterness, but she chose to respond in love. That’s the power that we have as believers because we have the Holy Spirit within us to enable us to do what otherwise we would find impossible to do.

I hope you’ll remember this simple slogan: Leave it better than you found it. It’s one sure way to show God’s love to others.

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Leave It Better Than You Found It

Nov 9, 2017

PROGRAM D-7964

How’s your church doing? Since I’m on staff at my church, I’m well aware that churches which thrive and do well are those which have lots of involvement from the congregation. I’ve been proposing that we adopt the Boy Scout mantra to leave it better than you found it, and I was thinking about applying it to the following area of our lives:

Is your church better because you are a member?

It’s not difficult to find things wrong with our churches. They’re full of people—people who make mistakes, people who don’t have it all together, and many are new believers with lots to learn. As a result, we won’t have trouble finding something about our churches that we don’t like so much. But if it’s a Bible-preaching church and under godly leadership—and that’s where God has put us—then we have to ask ourselves what we’re doing to make it a better church.

I think of a woman who was in our church until God called her home—we called her Miss Shirley. Miss Shirley never held an office in our church, but few people have benefited the church like she did. For years she made it her job to greet someone new every Sunday and to invite that person to sit with her so she could get to know them and share God’s love with them.

One of my friends tells how when she started coming to our church, she was very wounded and was trying to isolate herself from everyone. However, Miss Shirley found her, sat with her, invited her to my Sunday class, and eventually helped her get involved and find healing. Miss Shirley definitely left our church better than she found it.

Ask yourself this question: If you dropped out of your church today, would it leave a hole? Would your service to the church be missed?

God created us for community. We are one body in Christ, and we need each other for fellowship, for healing, for growth, and for accountability. I hope you are very much committed to your church and you can say for sure that you are leaving it better than you found it.

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Leave It Better Than You Found It

Nov 8, 2017

PROGRAM D-7963

I’m taking a phrase from the Boy Scouts and applying it to our lives: Leave it better than you found it. I’ve examined how we can leave our jobs better than we found them, and leave our relationships better than we found them. Now I want to think about a third area:

We should leave our environment better than we found it.

There’s a lot of concern in our day about what’s happening to our environment. We should be good stewards of God’s universe, that’s for sure. This should compel us to recycle as much as possible, and to do whatever we can to make our physical world better than we found it.

There’s also our more personal environment to consider—our living space and our working space. I have a friend who decided she could do something for her personal environment. She got tired of how messy and unclean public washrooms tend to be. She decided that she would try to leave any washroom she used better than she found it. When she told me what she was doing, I realized I had never even thought of taking that kind of responsibility—to leave a public space better than I found it.

If we all did that, we’d live in cleaner, nicer environments, wouldn’t we? Our streets and roadways wouldn’t be cluttered with trash.

Someone has said that cleanliness is next to godliness. While I’m not sure that can be supported biblically, there’s no doubt that we should care about cleanliness for ourselves and for others. Why not decide to leave our environments—wherever they may be—better than we found them?!

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Leave It Better Than You Found It

Nov 7, 2017

PROGRAM D-7962

Leave it better than you found it! That’s what Boy Scouts are taught to do. What a good idea! I’m taking a look at how we, as Christians, can leave things better than we found them. One such thing is our jobs: When we leave our jobs, do we leave them better than when we were hired? Another area of our lives I want to encourage you to consider is this:

We should leave our relationships better than we found them.

Relationships are the sandpaper of life, are they not? We all need to live in relationship with others, and yet getting along with the people in our lives can be the toughest assignment we have. How can we leave our relationships better than we found them?

Let’s start with what we call The Golden Rule which Jesus gave us when he said, “Treat other people exactly as you would like to be treated by them—this is the essence of all true religion” (Matthew 7:12, J.B. Phillips New Testament). Jesus says that we should take the initiative to improve the relationships of our lives, not wait on the other person to do it. Has someone treated you unkindly lately? If so, are you willing to put this Golden Rule into practice and respond to them the way you wish they would respond to you? If you do, you will definitely improve that relationship.

Here’s another relationship principle from the Bible that will definitely leave a relationship better than we found it, and it comes from Philippians 2:3-4:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.

Putting others first is a sure winner when it comes to improving relationships. I remember when I read that passage, I just shook my head because I couldn’t figure how in the world I could ever live up to it. Value others above myself? That doesn’t come naturally for me. How about you?

I began to pray and ask God to show me how to put this into practice. God showed me that it begins with an attitude of the heart. An older New International Version says to “consider others better than yourself,” to think of others in that way. I find that if I change my thought life—if I remind myself that truly, others are just as important as I am, and that what they’re doing is just as important as what I’m doing—then I can start to genuinely look to their interests and not just my own.

If we practiced these two principles in our relationships, there is no doubt we’d see great improvement, and we’d leave them better than we found them!

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