[Message given at Momma Jo’s, at the Andre House in Phoenix, October 2018]
Good morning brothers and sisters. I want to share a testimony and a message about who God is, about who we are, and truth that sets us free. No matter who you are, no matter what you believe, no matter what you do or what you’ve done, Jesus loves you.
I’m asking you to open up your hearts and hear what God is saying to you. After I share this message I am going to invite you up to join me for prayer. I believe that the Word of God will speak to many of you, and if anything I am saying is stirring your heart, please come boldly, and we will go to our heavenly Father together in prayer, believing through faith, that Jesus will come to restore your life and heal your heart.
Before Jesus came into my life five-and-a-half years ago I viewed other people as rivals, threats, competitors, obstacles, pawns, and pieces of meat for my consumption. I regarded people as objects that either threatened my selfish desires or served them. The Word of God tells us that the thief came to steal, kill, and destroy. I didn’t know truth and I didn’t know love—I didn’t know Jesus. I didn’t have wisdom, I didn’t have understanding. I didn’t know how to give love and I didn’t know how to receive love.
Because of the wounds I experienced as a child, people represented pain to me so I intentionally isolated my heart from being vulnerable to people. I didn’t want my shame to be exposed so I employed tactics to prevent myself from getting hurt. I chose to avoid, or manage people and circumstances. I kept people at an arm’s length from me and I refused to receive wise instruction or good counsel from anyone. Because I didn’t know love I lived like a spiritual orphan and made the choice to live my life in the folly of my own wisdom and strength—I made my decisions based on my feelings, to avoid pain and gain pleasure. I lived my life apart from wisdom and truth, and instead followed my earthly senses—what I could see, smell, taste, hear, and touch.
As I grew older my heart became hardened and I refused to be around others who did not see things the way I did unless I was getting something from them. I complained about everything and blamed everyone for all my problems and judged people who crossed my path even if they served my selfish desires. I was empty, dry, tormented, and broken.
But God. After spending twenty-three years in and out of rehabs, jails, hospitals, medications, programs, relationships, homes, jobs, and cities, Jesus came into my life. Jesus forgave me; He saved me, delivered me, and healed me. I ended up going through the Transformations program at the Phoenix Rescue Mission, which is available to men and women, and God restored my life. God is filled with mercy and compassion for you, wanting all of us to come to repentance and to the knowledge of Him; He desires a personal, intimate relationship with each one of us—isn’t that amazing? Brothers and sisters, Jesus is the Lover of your soul.
Jeremiah 31:3 says “I have loved you with an everlasting love; with unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.”
Let’s dive in to God’s Word. I’m looking at 2 Corinthians. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 says: “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Brothers and sisters, when we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, we are saved. With the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. The Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” There is no distinction between Jew and Gentile; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him. And “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
When someone is saved, they are born-again by the Spirit of God. They become a new creation that is transformed by the renewal of their mind. God replaces their heart of stone with a heart of flesh and puts His Spirit in them. God lives in us! He makes us His temple to house His very presence. So when Jesus makes His home in us we have new eyes, spiritual eyes, to see—spiritual eyes that discern the difference between good and evil so that we may walk with God in a way that is loving and honors people, and brings glory to Jesus Christ, the Lover of our souls.
1 Timothy 1:5 says “The goal of our instruction is love; that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.”
From now on, therefore, having received the Spirit of God, we regard no one according to the flesh. I used to view people as rivals, threats, competitors, obstacles, and pieces of meat, but now I view people as precious souls created for God’s glory.
Isaiah 43:4 “You are precious and honored, and I love you.”
The Bible says, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Before we come to know God, we form impressions about other people based on the things we see and hear. Here are some the ways we view people “according to the flesh:”
- We regard people according to their appearance.
- According to their gender.
- According to their race.
- According to their place of origin.
- According to their abilities.
- According to their family.
- According to their work.
- According to their home.
- According to their possessions.
- According to their experiences.
The list goes on and on, but it has nothing to do with who God says they are. Brothers and sisters, do you see why is it so destructive to regard others according to the flesh? When we choose to view a person or determine a person’s value according to the flesh we dishonor God and fail to see that person for who they really are—a precious soul created for the glory of God.
My whole life I judged everyone that crossed my path with wrong judgment—why? Why did I do that? Because the easiest way for me to elevate myself, to feel better about myself, was to tear others down. When I was seven years old I made judgments based on the things I was experiencing and then formed false beliefs that I was unlovable, undesirable, unacceptable unclean, and unworthy. Everyone experiences rejection and everyone’s view of themselves is altered and shaped by their circumstances. Because of this truth, everyone forms false beliefs about God, themselves, and others.
- Until Jesus comes and gives you eyes to see.
- Until Jesus comes and restores your life.
- Until Jesus comes into your life and reveals that He is the risen Christ, the Lord of all, and Lover of your soul.
I regarded others according to the flesh for the purpose of finding fault with them so that I would feel better about myself. I would assign false motives to people, I would attach fault to everyone. John 10:10 says “The thief came to steal, kill, and destroy.” Satan is a withering branch, grafted out, his fate is sealed, he is done. Satan, the thief, the ruler of this world, tricked me into believing that my value was defined by how I compared to others. When we compare ourselves to others we will always be looking down on some and up to others. Before I knew Christ, when I relied entirely on self-sufficiency, life became a performance, and when my performance wasn’t perfect, what happened? My value and security decreased. Life became a game of highs and lows—absent of peace, because I was always looking ahead at the next performance or behind at the last failure. Life, without an intimate relationship with God, is like a treadmill and there is no time to rest; we become weary, tired of the hamster wheel, hoping for “good luck”—hoping for something to cover our shame, hoping for something to give us glory, honor, and hope.
When we rely on our own sufficiency to meet our basic spiritual needs, our needs are never truly met. We live on that never-ending treadmill and burn out, becoming angry and depressed. We never experience real peace of mind and became more and more discontent, bitter, and hopeless–hardened.
At some point many of us decide to give up on the delusion of self-justification, instead focusing on self-protection and self-preservation. We become heartless, insensitive, selfish, greedy, prideful, lustful, and judgmental—while often pretending to be otherwise. This creates separation and division—this destroys relationships and forms wedges between people. Comparing myself to another person is sin because it leads to separation and it dishonors God and His creation.
2 Corinthians 10:12 says “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”
Here’s the good news: Christ does not regard you according to the flesh. Jesus said to the religious leaders of that time, “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.” Jesus is saying to them, “You judge people according to the flesh. But I don’t do that.” Jesus does not form an opinion about us according to the flesh. He does not base a judgment about us on our appearance, ability, age, friends, race, gender, work, home, family, or experience. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
A year after Jesus came into my life I cried out to God—”God you have to help me. You have revealed Yourself to me in your Word and by Your Spirit, and I have received truth, but these thoughts continue to pass through the theater of my mind—judgmental thoughts, violent thoughts, hateful thoughts, lustful thoughts, critical thoughts, cynical thoughts, all kinds of evil thoughts that are not aligned with Your heart, nor are they in agreement with truth, and frequently they influence me. Please help me! Help me to see people clearly with Your eyes. Give me a firm understanding of how I am to view people and plant this understanding deep into my heart that I would not waiver nor be influenced by the oppression of ungodly thoughts and demonic and unclean spirits.”
God answered my prayer. The first time, He gave me a vision of a bright shining golden sphere in the location of a person’s physical heart—so every person that I saw had this beautiful, warm, bright, radiant, golden sphere inside them. He gave me this vision to show me that every person has the same value, and that value is priceless. All the money and riches in the world do not compare to the value of one soul.
Then, on another day, God did something crazy. He put my face on every person that crossed my path—every age, shape, color, gender, it didn’t matter—my face was on everyone’s body. He was teaching me to view others and to love others as I view and love myself. To care for others as I care for myself.
Loving self has nothing to do with defense mechanisms, protective behaviors, performance, or winning the praise or approval of man. Jesus loves you. God has a furious longing for your soul because He created you. You belong to Him and He knows what is the best for you. But, because God is love, you have to choose Him, you have to receive Christ as your Savior and the Lord of your life. When you do, you will experience the unfathomable riches of God’s lovingkindness. Brothers and sisters, His love is for you.
When you come across people who say they are Christian but look nothing like Jesus, do not let this derail you—it doesn’t change who God is and it doesn’t change the truth that sets you free. This isn’t about religion, this is about relationship with the Lover of your soul and your decisions and what or who you choose to be your god will determine the outcome of your life here on earth and all of eternity. Your heavenly Father loves you and wants you to draw near to Him. If you do not have a relationship with Jesus, the living Christ, I invite you to seek Him now. Cry out to Him ask Him to be the Lord of your life. Ask Him for mercy and grace. Ask Him to be forgiven and ask Him for the power to forgive everyone in your life. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. No one is righteous, no not one. While we were still sinners, while we were enemies, Christ died for us. The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let’s pray.