- What does it mean to believe in Jesus?
- Know Him as Savior.
- Knowing Jesus as Savior means you know He lived, died, was buried, and raised from the dead for your sins and to break your bondage from sin.
- What does it mean to receive Jesus?
- Know Him as Lord.
- Knowing Jesus as Lord means you accept His position in your life. It means you are under Him, following Him. He is supreme authority. You submit to Him and let Him take the leadership. You submit all things to Him- your desires, ways, wishes, thinking… all things.
There is a difference between Savior and Lord. When Jesus is Lord of your life, you are a follower of Jesus. You may know of Jesus as Savior and not be a follower of Jesus. In order to be a follower, you must receive His lordship in your life.
I think sometimes the reason we find ourselves in a stalemate in our faith is that we aren’t understanding Jesus as Lord. We have this idea that we must be perfect to fully follow Jesus. That we’re unusable until we’re perfect.
Well, God loves imperfect people. He died for imperfect people. There are no perfect people on this side of Heaven and anyone who thinks they are, or thinks they can be, are severely mistaken.
John 1:4-5 Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.
Do you have dark places in your life? Any areas where, if you’re honest, you feel God’s power can’t reach? Things that you feel like you know you need to deal with, but can’t seem to get rid of? Are there things you have pleaded with God to remove or get rid of and you feel like He’s just not taking it? What are your dark spots? Do you feel at times that those dark spots do overcome you?
I think sometimes the reason we have a hard time receiving Jesus as Lord is because we don’t know how to handle our dark spots.
I have dark spots. I have had dark spots. I will have more dark spots. I have had so many dark spots in my past and felt overcome by them, over and over and over again.
It used to be drugs. I used to plead with God to take the addiction from me or just to kill me to keep me from the vicious cycle. And time and time again I would end up back in the same spot.
It used to be alcohol. I used to get so drunk that I would black out, not knowing how I got home, telling myself I had fun, feeling miserable the next day swearing I would never do that to myself again, asking God for a way out, yet going right back to it.
It used to be an eating disorder. Eating till I was absolutely stuffed full of food then making myself throw up. I hated it. I didn’t want to, but I overate because I was upset then would get upset I overate and hit the “reset” button. I pleaded with God time and time again to take it from me, but He didn’t.
Those were three of my really bad dark spots that I thought I would never be set free from, but I was freed. God came in and released me from those, but not until I truly started to release my issues to Him.
You know what I realized? Those weren’t the dark spots. Those were just the way my dark spots were manifesting. I was using those outlets to try to cover the dark spots. What was really going on, what were really the dark areas in my life, those were much, much uglier and harder to deal with.
My true dark areas are my overwhelming doubt, my deeply rooted insecurity, my incessant need to compare myself with others, my fear of stepping out of my comfort zone, my worries for the future, my lack of self worth.
The deeply rooted thought patterns and belief systems I tried for over half my life to run from. I used alcohol, drugs, and food to cover those negative areas of my life because I didn’t want to deal with them. I thought for sure once I got rid of those surface issues everything would be easy. Ha! I didn’t even know what those issues were about. I had no clue what was really below the surface. Drugs, alcohol, and an eating disorder were just the outward manifestations of what was going on deep within.
When I got rebaptized, I thought it’s done. I am in. That’s it. I’m good. Little did I know that’s when the real work begins. That’s when we had to start the process of unseeding all those negative things that I shoved deeper and deeper into the soil of my heart and mind in an effort to not deal with them, but in truth, I was actually planting them deeper and deeper into my mind and heart.
For that year after my baptism in April 2015, I felt like a failure. I felt overwhelmed by the work I had to do. I felt like I still wasn’t good enough. That I had done too much damage.
I kept trying to fix everything on my own. Make it better on my own while still crying out to God to fix it, asking Him to remove it. It’s kind of hard to give something to someone when you’re holding onto it with everything you have.
We serve a God who can do everything, but He isn’t going to force us to do anything.
He has given us free will. He may set things in motion so that we know what we should do, but He will never force us to take a step. That part, the movement, is always our choice.
When we cry out to God to take things that we are gripping so tightly to and hiding from Him, He won’t forcefully take it.
God loves us enough to break our hand to let go of things we hold on to too tightly. If we are holding onto a relationship too tightly, God may break our hand from that person, removing them from our life, but that’s not the true dark spot. That person is not the problem, the problem is that distrust of God or insecurity down below the surface that made us cling to the person we never should have been in relationship with to begin with. God may remove the object, the manifestation of things below, but only to show us those deeply rooted thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes, which is why He allowed that object to be in our life to begin with. Those are the things He won’t force us to let go of, but He will gladly take them from us if we give them to Him.
We have a God who loves us so much. He wants nothing but good for us. But sometimes to get to the next level of good, there’s a painful pruning process that needs to happen first. We need to allow Him to cut back the dead, dark places. We need to open our hands and say, “Here, God, take it. Do what you must to show us how to rid ourselves of it, heal this, and bear fruit from it.”
As we start to allow God to cut away our dark, dead spots, our light shines brighter. We look like Jesus when we go through the pruning process. As our light grows brighter, more and more are attracted to the Light within us.
We who believe in Jesus as Savior and receive Him as Lord of our lives, have the right to be called children of God. God wants to do a bigger work in all of us and through all of us. God doesn’t just call some. He calls ALL His children. He has a purpose and a plan for all His children and it is something unique and special for each one.
He loves us all equally and so much so that no two of His children’s stories are the same. Each one is specifically designed for each child. No one else can do what God has ordained to do through you. You bring a specialized set of talents, gifts, and experiences that He has placed in you for your specific purpose.
But so many Christians miss out on that purpose because they’re too ashamed to be vulnerable about their dark places.
The more we open up and share about our dark places, the more freedom it brings to our life. The less control that thing has in our life. We need to be open about what is going on so we can have a breakthrough to get past it.
The breakthrough happened for me when I became part of a Community Group- a group of women whose purpose is to meet regularly, to learn and grow in Christ together, holding one another accountable, celebrating praises, praying for one another, encouraging in disappointment. I shared with them that I felt unworthy. That I didn’t see myself as a child of God and oh my goodness, did that opening up to them cause a breakthrough in my life!
The more we share, the more we show our dark places, the more we shine a light on it and allow it not to overcome us. Our light gets brighter as we share our dark places with others. This blog is an effort to do just that. To be honest and vulnerable about what is going on in my life. Share the triumphs and the trials.
Try examining your life to allow God’s light to shine brightly to reveal the secrets of every dark area. God is not fazed by our past or our current situation. He will not run away. His promise is to stay. You are completely known and completely loved. Just as you are. Nothing will change that. Believe it and receive it.