I don’t have to be perfect because Jesus Christ died for me and exchanged His righteousness and perfection for my sin and failure, and He rose again leaving sin and failure at the cross, and He lives forever at the Father’s right hand. He intercedes for us (me), and His Holy Spirit lives in me to work out Christ’s righteousness in my life.
My trying to be perfect and pretending to myself that I am–these prevent me from receiving the mercy and forgiveness Jesus went through so much to provide for me. “If we say we have no sin, we are calling God a liar” (1 John 1:10), and we can’t partake of the pardon and cleansing offered in 1 John 1:9.
I’m through trying to hide my sin, failure, and mistakes (from others and myself) behind a façade of personal goodness. I choose instead to hide them in the blood of Jesus where they are dissolved and carried away.
Let me cease from trying so I can rest in trusting.
Psalm 42:11 says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” (New King James Version)
This is what I need to tell myself when I get disappointed or discouraged: “Self, hope in God. Let the disappointment go and trust God to work it for my good and His glory. O my soul, don’t look to others nor hope in satisfactory solutions. Let God satisfy you. Trust His wisdom, not your own. Remember, soul, that you find rest in God alone (Psalm 62:1). Hope and trust in Jesus our Lord.
“Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.” (from the hymn “I must tell Jesus”)
O Lord our God, the God who hears,
The only God who loves and cares,
The holy One who answers prayers,
You hear our cries, for You are near.
Omniscient God, God all wise
Your love extends beyond the skies.
Let us see truth with open eyes,
Believe Your Word, reject the lies.
We praise You, Lord. In You we hope.
We trust in You because we know
You deliver us from every foe
And comfort, heal, and make us whole.
People who think they have to be perfect feel driven much of the time. I speak from experience. We, in trying to reach perfection, succeed mostly at making ourselves (and likely those around us) miserable. How did I end up in this trap? For me it probably started as a desire to feel good about myself that took root in a crevice of pride and grew into striving to avoid the emotional pain of being corrected. I didn’t understand that the ache of driving myself to be always right was worse and longer-lasting than the pain of correction. I also didn’t grasp the fact that part of that hurt was caused by “all or nothing” thinking—for example, if I’m not 100% right, I’m a total failure.
Now that I recognize the problem, I asked for God’s help to break free. And He is helping. I still sometimes find myself spending my thought time on every mistake I can remember and feeling guilty for every sin (even though I’ve confessed them and received forgiveness–1 John 1:9.) So instead of keeping my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2), I end up focusing on past failures.
One idea that helps me get off the treadmill of perfectionism is to capture the memories of mistakes and forgiven sins before they bump the thought speed control up to “race.” Then I tell myself to think of those things as just reminders that I’m not God—never have been and never will be. And really, what a relief! I’m way too small to handle His job. Any human being is.
Psalm 46:10–“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.
(Verses are New Living Translation.)
Really good sermon by Pastor Tom. I especially appreciated the firefighter illustration of true belief/trust. Hope you’re blessed by it.
We are not necessarily called to an life of increasing comfort and ease. We are not called specifically to get more and more financially secure. We aren’t even directly called to success, or even excellence. What we are definitely called to is the cross. A faith that says: “Yes I believe, but not so much that I would give up my life for him,” is not a faith that truly grasps who Jesus is.
To listen to the sermon, click the play button:
To download, right click on the link (or do whatever you do on a Mac) and save it to your computer: Download Matthew Part 55
Matthew #55 . Matthew 16:20-27
I’m afraid that I’m going to have to take this section slowly also. Don’t blame me: blame Jesus, for saying such profound things. Let’s start with this:
And He gave the disciples orders to tell no one…
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Once when Saul and his army pursued David, David and his men lived for over a year in the Philistine town of Ziklag. At one point, the Philistines prepared to go to battle with Israel. The Philistine king Achish asked David and his men to go with them, which they were going to do. However, the Philistine commanders rejected David, so King Achish sent him and his men back to Ziklag. But when David and his army got home three days later, they found that the Amalekites had attacked Ziklag and had taken as prisoners all the people remaining there, including women and children. (From 1 Samuel 27-30)
“Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. …6 Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (1 Samuel 30:4, 6)
One teacher connected verse 6 above to Ephesians 5:18-20 (“…Instead [of being drunk with wine], be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”). We can encourage not only ourselves, but also others, in the Lord our God.
Dear Father, when distressing things happen, let me encourage and strengthen myself in YOU. Oh may I quickly turn to You and seek and wait on You so my strength can be renewed (Isaiah 40:31)! Yes, as I trust in You, I find that inner peace that enables me to face what life throws at me. You, Lord, are my joy, source of strength, victory, and song. Amen.
(Scriptures are New King James Version).
Colossians 3:12-14 “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” [New Living Translation (NLT)]
Because I’m chosen, set apart, and loved by God, I can show mercy to others, act kindly, have a meek attitude, exercise patience, and think, behave, and speak humbly. In fact these attributes reflect Christ’s character, which I’m called to do, and which I want to do. I can and want to “cut some slack” for others and quickly forgive from my heart when others offend me, because I, myself, am forgiven because of Christ.
And most of all, I need to allow God’s unconditional love to flow through me to those with whom I interact.
Romans 13:12-14 also talks about the way I need to live as one of God’s people: “…Remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in darkness…. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.” (NLT)
How do I do this? Maybe I could set the sail of my will to quit responding to situations in my usual way—suspicion, anger, or self-focus. Instead I would decide to respond with trust in God, remembering His goodness, love and care. Maybe it would help to practice His presence all the time by remembering that He is here and then focusing on Him rather than things of earth. [Colossians 3:2 “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (New King James Version)
(Sailboat picture found by “GoodSearch.” Artist Berton Brown.)
In Psalm 32:8-10, God says, “…I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control. Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD.”
God tells us that He will guide, advise and watch over us. Further, He says that we shouldn’t be stubborn because those who trust Him enough to go His way are surrounded by love and mercy.
Jeremiah reaffirms this idea in Lamentations 3:25-26 “The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.”
How thankful I am for God’s guidance and watchful care of me!
With these Scriptures still in mind, I came upon Psalm 119:35-37: Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found. Give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money! Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.” The psalmist asks God to cause him (the writer) to follow God’s lead because His way is delightful. He prays that God will help him love God’s laws instead of the world’s goods or what has no eternal value. Then he desires that God would turn his focus back to God and His Word or way.
And I would add a heartfelt “Amen!” to this prayer and look to God to hear and answer these requests.
(Scriptures quoted from the New Living Translation)