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Devotional - Acceptance, Approval, Acknowledgment - All Found In Christ

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, May 6, 2014.

  1. Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, - Luke 8: 1-2 (NKJV)

    Beloved, we are in a spiritual war. I did not say it - God did. You will hear very little of it preached today. It is not seeker friendly to those who are not saved. That is because the unsaved do not have the indwelt Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth. It is why the things of God are foolishness to them. For believers in Jesus Christ however, we should be better prepared. We should understand the war we are in and the tactics our enemy likes to use against us. We talk all the time about saved Christians who are crawling into heaven or those who fall into repeated sin cycles. We circle the same mountain over and over again. Sometimes for years and sometimes for decades. It need not be.

    I think that even in the world, most psychological professionals will agree that when it comes to women, many are seeking the three "A's" listed in the title. They are seeking acceptance, approval and acknowledgment. Perhaps because of the lack of a father figure growing up. Perhaps because of a childhood trauma. Perhaps because of unrealistic societal expectations placed upon women. Perhaps because they were wronged in early relationships with men. Whatever the reason, it stays inside of us like a malignant tumor. We feed it by compounding our bad decisions with more bad decisions. Buried feelings of inadequacy or somehow being undeserving are then confirmed by our bad decisions and fuel who we end up becoming.

    While salvation in Jesus Christ should resolve these things often they remain unresolved. I see every day young Christian women who go too far to the other extreme; what I call the "Daughter of the King" syndrome. Where no man is now good enough. This combined with the confusing pseudo-worship music that over sexualizes Jesus and you end up with young Christian women who seem to be waiting for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb because they think they are going on the honeymoon. All the while, the devil keeps pushing the right buttons. Feelings of rejection. Of not being worth more. Of seeking acceptance, approval and acknowledgment in all the wrong places.

    Let's take this even further because while it is always the women portrayed in this light the devil knows no gender divisions. It is society that convinces males that they do not need anyone's acceptance, approval or acknowledgment. But that is all false bravado and macho male stereotypes. Deep down inside we all seek the three "A's"; it's just for the guys it gets buried way down deep. It becomes weakness to admit it. Again however, this is what we should expect within the world system, which is run by Satan. For Christians however, we have the risen Savior to rely upon and all of the promises of God. Let's take a closer look at what we feel we lack and what we always seem to chase. So we can break these cycles and stop circling the same mountain.

    Acceptance. If ever there were a basic human need; this would be it. Some might conflate it with the need to be loved but the devil has so muddied the word love most people do not even comprehend what God intended it to be. There is no love however, without acceptance. It is the bedrock foundation of any successful relationship. Usually when relationships fail to work it is because one side simply no longer accepts something on the other side. Besides male-female relationships however, acceptance goes all the way back to our upbringing and our relationships with people as we were raised. For many of us we had unaccepting parents - either one or both and absent parents are essentially unaccepting parents in our hearts. Harsh teachers and cruel peers. Words are like daggers that can leave wounds that never heal.

    There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. - Proverbs 12: 18 (ESV)

    And rest assured, Satan will pick at our scabs to reopen all of our old wounds. But we do not have to let him. We do not have to give in to the same old same old. We do not have to continue to live in the futility we lived in while we were in the world. We do not have to be stuck in a past that shackles us to futile thinking. When we grasp that God sent His only Son to die in our place - how can we not become changed by that reality?

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. - 2Corinthians 5: 17-21 (ESV)

    We have surely heard these verses before but without faith to believe the promises of God they remain merely words. Nice phrases we can say hallelujah to on Sunday and then go home and cry ourselves to sleep. That is not a reconciled Christian! The dictionary defines reconciled as having settled a dispute. We were in a dispute with our Creator. Our sin, which we all know runs deep, is what causes this separation. Yet Christ took that sin upon Himself to reconcile us back to God - so we are once again accepted by God! Our acceptance in Christ is rock solid beloved. It does not change. It will not falter. Why? Because it is not based upon anything we can do! It is based upon what He did on the cross! Really meditate on that truth for a moment. We seek acceptance from people by trying to earn it. We think if we do something right or something they want then they must accept us. But God comes along and says no my child. I will accept you based upon what I will do. Therefore there is no more need to strive for acceptance within your own power. We need to accept the gift that has been freely given to us and find our acceptance in Christ Jesus.

    Besides acceptance we also seek approval as part of the human condition. Realize even people who the world deems sociopathic or disturbed fall into the same paradigm, they just have abandoned hope that they ever will find acceptance, approval, or acknowledgment so they seek their justification based upon themselves. Approval also stems from childhood and wanting to know that we were doing good or right in the eyes of our parents or those in authority. It changes as we grow up and becomes integral in who we seek to be in relationship with. It becomes a huge reason why we end up in bad relationships. Either because we pick people we secretly would never approve of or we strive to undermine ourselves by picking people we know will disapprove of us on some level. This is the story of the girl who dates the bad boy when she is younger or the even the mature Christian who casually tosses Scripture aside to date someone who is unsaved proclaiming they will change them. It is all chasing approval but we need to embrace today that God has set us free from this as well. Through Christ - we are approved!

    In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, - Ephesians 1: 7 (ESV)

    He redeemed us beloved! He purchased us back unto Himself. Through the blood of Christ, shed for us, He has approved us. Once again, not because of anything we have done but rather because of His great grace and what He has done. Once we accept this, we should strive to seek His ongoing approval in godly fashions:

    Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. - 2Timothy 2: 15 (ESV)

    but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. - 1Thessalonians 2: 4-6 (ESV)

    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. - Galatians 1: 6-10 (ESV)

    These three sets of verses all deal with the approval of God. Paul instructs Timothy that an approved worker knows how to divide the Word of God correctly. He instructs the Thessalonian Church that he is approved by God through the entrusting of the Gospel. Lastly, he explains to the Church at Galatia that the one who seeks the approval of God does so by sticking to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do we see the theme? God has already approved us because of the work of Jesus Christ. The ongoing perfection of that approval is found in His Word. If we want to grow up more in Christ it is found in His Word. If we want to have stable relationships - the answers are found in His Word. It is a mindset change; a paradigm shift. To no longer seek the approval from the world but instead, seek approval in His Word. Christians often talk about seeking the will of God. If we truly break that down what we are seeking, it is His approval for what we want to do. It doesn't work that way. The two main categories of God's will (not including His permissive will - things He allows to happen) are His decretive will and His revealed will. His decretive will is what He decrees to happen and His revealed will is the Word of God. The mistake we make all too often is in seeking His decretive will when in most cases He has no intention of revealing it. That is the journey. That is our walk. The reality is that He has given us His revealed will for a reason yet we ignore it all to often. We seek false prophets instead of what He has already prophesied in His Word. We seek false teachers instead of what He has already taught us in His Word. We seek a "spiritual experience" instead of seeking the Holy Spirit within us to lead us into all truth. The reality is that the more we find ourselves in His revealed will the closer we will be to His decretive will. Our approval is always found in Christ alone; through His revealed will.

    Lastly, as humans we seek acknowledgment. This is all about recognition. It is about significance. How many people become disillusioned at some point in their life. Mourning the passing of time that cannot be recovered and feeling like our lives should have amounted to something more. That is why so many people live vicariously through the lives of their children. They essentially trade in their own significance for simply being the mother or father of their child's significance. That is not the answer beloved. God created all of us for our own purposes.

    For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2: 10 (ESV)

    When you break this verse down what we find is that our new creation in Christ was done for a purpose. That purpose was a life set apart (good works) and of holiness and that we should walk the rest of our lives as such. We are to shine the light of Christ for others to see. There are no earthly rewards that do not rust or fade with the mere passage of time. Eternal rewards for lives brought to the foot of the cross are the only thing that will matter in eternity. You do not have to be a master theologian or an expert preacher to live a life worthy of the significance of Christ for all to see. That is our purpose beloved - not serving in the security ministry. Because here is the thing. Man can always take away our ministry but only we can choose to remove our holiness. Only we can choose to make our lives insignificant for eternal considerations.

    I find it ironically sad that so much of the seeker friendly church movements preach so much about purpose and even personal significance yet still miss the mark so widely. That is because under the purpose driven models we still find our purpose and significance outside of Christ. It is usually found in serving in a church ministry and we are taught that we are putting our hand to the plow but the reality is that we are still merely serving man. That does not even take into consideration that the vast majority of purpose driven churches are not really serving God at all! Our ministry leader cannot give us the acknowledgment we seek from God. Neither can our pastor. We can serve diligently but still feel empty because our significance and purpose is found in Christ. In being set apart for His use. For doing good works that will stand the test of fire. No greater acknowledgment can we experience then when we finally hear - "well done good and faithful servant."

    We only get there however by becoming a servant. We only get there by realizing that the cycles the devil keeps us in are rooted in who we have made this life to be about - even as Christians. Too often the watered down church does not provide the true words we need. That we need to die to self daily. That we need to pick up our cross if we are to truly follow Christ. Beloved, God has accepted us and made us a new creation. He has approved us and we can continue to find that approval by being found in His Word. He acknowledges us through a life set apart for His use. For the development of an eternal perspective.

    I conclude today with the key verses which introduce us to Mary Magdalene. These verses are important for this discussion because of where Jesus found Mary. He found her with seven demons. He cast out seven devils from her. We read things like this and gloss over them too quickly. Ponder this question my pastor asked recently about Mary Magdalene. I wonder what devils had to be cast out of her. Maybe there was a demon of lust. Maybe there was a demon of self loathing. Maybe even a demon of suicide. Of worthlessness. Of depression. Of anxiety. Yet despite this introduction to Mary Magdalene, we essentially only see her two more times. She is one of the few people bold enough to stand at the cross and watch Jesus die. Nearly all had forsaken Him but she stayed until the end. The other appearance is then on Resurrection Sunday as she defies the intimidation of Rome to go an anoint the body of Jesus, only to discover that He has risen! I point this out because Jesus found all of us somewhere. Maybe we didn't have seven demons and maybe for others it was more. We all know that one is quite enough. But even the new creation we are must continue the spiritual war we are in.

    “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.” - Luke 11:24-26 (ESV)

    We cannot simply put a veneer on for our faith. It is not meant to be like the whitewashed tomb or the cup that is clean only on the outside. Look at what these verses teach us about the nature of the spiritual war we are in. The reason why the demon finds the ability to return and bring seven friends is that we have merely swept. We have provided the appearance of holiness without the cost. The reason why the modern church is so impotent is this lesson is lost on her. When you are only about appearance, you are inviting demonic attack. How often do sweep our house of the common sins but secretly tuck away what we really don't want washed? That secret sin we adore and hide away so carefully while we decorate our house with the common gifts and graces of modern churchianity. It is all paint and varnish. But a common contrition does not last because what lays secret still defiles us. It was never given up to Christ, nor dwelt in by the Spirit. We rest in what passes for spirituality here on earth and even in our churches but we have rested well short of heaven. Thus we give full right for our victories to be fleeting. For the same spirits to return. For the same sins to never be conquered! For not only will they return but they will return seven fold when they see that all is merely swept but not truly washed! Then they will dwell there because we have essentially invited them to do so. And our last state will indeed be worse than our former.

    I have come today to tell you that it does not matter what your former state was. It does not matter how many devils had to be cast out of you. They can remain out if we would seek our acceptance, approval and acknowledgment from God and not from anything or anyone in this world. Am I suggesting that relationships do not matter? Of course not. But when two people are in relationship with God first then He is what will matter. And that is the lesson of chasing the three "A's." In Christ we can always find the solid rock to stand on. If we seek them from any other source, we build upon the shifting sands of this world.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - May 5, 2014
  2. Apologies for the length but if the Spirit says keep writing...

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