Pastor Matt Brown began his message by explaining God’s view of purpose through the lens of the book of Jeremiah. Despite the fact that Jeremiah had fears and reservations about carrying out God’s purpose, God had already prepared the way for Jeremiah to be used, by God speaking through him. Because of this, we know that God has equipped us and eliminated our excuses not to live out our purpose. Ultimately, God is not stressed out about anything that stresses us out. Encouragement can be found in the fact that God will use your story for His glory. Pastor Brown referenced Ecclesiastes 6:10: “Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there is no use arguing with God about your destiny.” This offers comfort to those who have yet to identify their purpose or have run from their purpose in the past. Purpose often goes through phases, from a growth season, to a consolidation season. Pastor Brown offered encouraging words for those struggling with their purpose by explaining that seeds can be changed if you aren’t satisfied with the harvest. He also petitioned the congregation to consistently ask for God to reveal Himself in our lives and circumstances. He concluded his message by explaining how various individuals in the bible were given purposes that were fear-invoking or very difficult projects. There is an embedded call that we have on our lives to find our purpose that God has called us to, we just need to be willing to accept God’s purpose and call on our lives.
Whether you have been following Jesus for 4 months or 40 years, we never cease from needing to be reminded of God’s constant grace and unwavering love. When we forgot those truths, we are tempted to deal with our issues in all sorts of unhealthy ways. We may suppress what’s going on inside of us, become comfortable with dysfunction, seek to solve our problems ourselves, or believe that God will only love us after we get our lives figured out. Not only will these ways of trying to deal our issues not bring the transformation Jesus wants for us, but we may find that our unresolved issues leak out onto the people closest to us.
Pastor Jon shared how this was the case for him throughout the week. He was feeling angry and unconsciously tried suppressing it. He also felt shame for not being able to change his emotions and embarrassment for even having these emotions as a Pastor and a longtime follower of Jesus. Freedom came when Pastor Jon spent some time alone with God in prayer. God reminded him that he couldn’t be loved or forgiven any more than he already is. He also realized that he had been directing his anger toward Yolande. Pastor Jon confessed this to God and to Yolande and asked for forgiveness. He then asked Yolande to pray for him.
Pastor Jon then shared a story from scripture of a community that had become comfortable with dysfunction and how Jesus brought freedom to a man possessed by a legion of demons, wholeness to a woman who needed healing, and life to a little girl. When the man possessed by a legion of demons begs to go with Jesus, Jesus sends him back to his town to share with his community what the Lord has done for him. The point Pastor Jon emphasized from this story is that the person’s problem became his opportunity to discover his purpose.
Have you ever wondered, “Why do I do the things I do?” For Julie and Roy this question, or the absence of this question, has dramatically shaped their lives in recent history. Julie shared a portion of her story in which she slowly, developed a hatred toward men. She shared how being a social worker and working with a population of people that had been abused in every way imaginable lead her to experience a form of vicarious trauma. This was at the root of the surface manifestation of “hating men”. Roy also shared portions of his story. He explained his struggles with masturbation, pornography, and the like. His constant struggle was something that controlled his life for quite some time. He asked the Lord to take it away and fix him an to his surprise healing did not come in the way he expected. Amidst his struggle, Roy met a man who had been through a similar situation. He saw healing and recovery in his own life. He lead Roy through this healing process and Roy found healing, restoration, and freedom. In a similar type of situation Julie found herself in a program, which to her surprise, lead her to find hope and restoration. Using 1 John 1, Julie and Roy appealed to the fact that in Jesus there is no darkness. For the church, and us as his body we shouldn’t be in fear of bringing things to the light, which is often seen as the first step in the healing process.
Continuing on the message Roy and Julie shared last week, Chris honed in on the issue of shame. He defined shame as the belief that who you are is broken and unworthy of love. He outlines two ways to view oneself.
The first being “I am a sinner – and I am also loved by God and created to be like Him”.
The other is “I am loved by God and created to be like Him – and I am a sinner”.
They might sound like the same thing, but they are different in that they highlight different things as being more important. Chris shared the story of Adam and Eve after they ate the fruit off the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They realized they were naked and hid from God because they felt like they were unworthy of his love. In other words they felt shame. On the other hand God went to the garden because He wanted to spend time with them. He didn’t care that they were naked; he made them to be beautiful and be with Him. This poses the question to us. Who do we see ourselves as? Do we see ourselves like God sees us, as a beautiful creation for him that has fallen to sin? Or do we see ourselves as unworthy of the love God offers freely.