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One of my first sermons
by Shiree Welch
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We were designed to live in holiness and honesty. We were designed to live blameless lives before God. God from the beginning, when He placed Adam and Eve in the garden, designed us to live honest before Him. We were never intended for lies, doubt, fear, adultery or negative thought patterns. We were made to dwell with God forever, unashamed, fully accepted and purely loved by Him.
I don’t think God’s heart has changed. I believe He is beckoning us to a deeper place of realness before Him. The same place He has been beckoning us to be since the beginning. As I read His word I see Him constantly beckoning His people. Constantly reminding us, saying “If my people will humble themselves and pray, I will answer them from heaven.”

Let’s pray.

God I ask you would come and open our hearts to your word today. God that you would teach us by the power of your spirit, the people you created us to be, honest, fearless and completely accepted by you, a holy God. God that you would show us how pure your love is so we can live honest lives and thought lives before you. Amen!

The other day I was reading in Ester and I had a beautiful picture come to my mind of myself approaching Gods throne and in acceptance, Him extending His golden scepter towards me. As I kept reading the Holy Spirit reminded me of how Jesus died so that I could come completely accepted before a Holy God. The Holy Spirit than reminded me of the many times I have approached God’s throne ashamed of the things I had done and how every time God extended His golden scepter to me, in acceptance, I ran. In my mind I could not understand or even accept this kind of love He was trying to show me. I would constantly remind Him of all the things I had done, reasons I believed in my mind, as to why He could not love or accept me.
A while ago I read, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I know everyone of you have read this verse, probably many times, but as I sit meditating on these words, even today, I am reminded that God wants our thoughts. All of our thoughts. He does not just want the thoughts that are lovely and pure but also the thoughts that trap our mind into believing lies about ourselves, God and others. He wants our thoughts that are ugly as well. In this place of honesty before God, we are transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit working inside of us. You and I must learn to bring our minds inline with His thoughts. His thoughts about ourselves and others. In line with what His word say to be true. But in order to do this we must learn to be honest about what we are thinking. We can not hide our thoughts from God or others we trust.

Luke 2:35 says, “Thus, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For God’s word is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are. Nothing in all creation can hide from Him. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes.”

Both these verses speak for themselves, everything is already revealed and exposed before God. To me these verses say, I no longer have to hide and neither do you.

As each of us sit before Gods word our innermost thoughts are exposed, whether we realize it or not. Thoughts of doubt, thoughts of fear, thoughts of unbelief, thoughts of sexual desire, thoughts of pride, all exposed! God is not surprised by how we think. It is not like we approach God and say, “God I am thinking, that all men are out to hurt me,” and God says, my goodness, I did not even realize, or I can’t believe you actually think that! Instead He says, Shiree, I know that life has taught you this lie, but it is not true, I am going to heal this thought and replace it with my truth. I will walk with you and teach you.
When David wrote Psalm 51, his sexual sin had been exposed. David came before the Lord and wrote, “You desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being.”

David also writes in Psalm 25:21 “May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you.”

God takes our honesty and He makes us wise. That is amazing! He takes our honest thoughts and renews our minds, He transforms our inmost being. Really this is amazing!
I don’t know about you but often I forget about these verse’s that cause me freedom. Instead we sit and wrestle with thoughts of shame, insecurity, fear, pride, hate and unbelief as if God will not understand or He will come down and hit us over the head saying, “I can’t believe you think like this.”

I think often we don’t think it is ok to share thoughts of frustration, dislike, or even hate we might feel for people, with God or with others. We feel as though we are being mean and then shame and guilt fill our thoughts and, it is just like the enemy to cause us feel these things, we get in this cycle of beating ourselves up. But if we do not share these thoughts, get them out of us, how can we allow God to renew our minds? To allow Him to come into the parts of us we think are so dirty. But really what God is saying: Come share these things with me, I am not afraid of them, I will renew these thoughts and cause my thoughts to take their place.

I have heard people share their thoughts and then in the very next sentence they say, I know I should not doubt, or I know I should not lack faith, or I know I should not live life in fear. I know I myself have said these things. I wonder if this is something God puts on us or we put on ourselves. We put on this image that we have to be perfect and always have the right thoughts. However when we do this we are caught in a cycle of guilt and shame, instead God put words in this book so we can see, He is not shocked we doubt, fear, lack faith. He knows we will, so He allowed men and woman to write their stories down so we know we can overcome just like they did. God understands us more than we realize, He created us, therefore He knows just how we think, feel, and react to
life around us. Then in His great wisdom He gave us His word that is full of people just like ourselves to bring us hope. We can approach His word knowing, We are going to discover, we are not alone.
When I sit down to read the bible I often pray, God teach me, or God speak to me. Then there are other times when I am feeling down and out and I just want to know I am normal. To read something that is not calling me out of where I am exactly but read something that says, God sees me and He understand me, something that says He is not ashamed of me. The bible is full of words that really cause us to see He really understands how weak we are. Words like Psalm 136:23-24
He remembered our utter weakness, His faithful love endures forever. He saved us from our enemies. His faithful love endures forever.

Verses like Psalm 94:17-19
Unless the lord had helped me, I would soon have died. I cried out, “I’m slipping!” and your unfailing love, Oh Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

In Gods heart, He is saying, be honest with me. In your honesty I will comfort your heart and renew your hope. Honesty holds power in our lives. These stories of Gods unfailing love and acceptance give us so much to live for. To live honest before God releases us from shame and guilt. We don’t have to worry that God will not understand, because He does understand. We won’t have to worry about standing before God real, raw and completely open. We can stand before Him confident and full of boldness within our complete honesty.
I can say to Him, God I am very fearful you are not going to supply my needs, I know your word says you promise to, but God I am having a hard time. God comes, His unfailing love gives me support and then out of that unfailing love He comforts me and renews my hope, but He does not stop there, He then brings me joy!! Oh my goodness, this is really amazing! He did not say, I am shocked by your doubt in me, He does not say, I can’t believe you don’t trust me. Instead He meets you and I, right where we are and supports us, comforts us and brings us joy! Simply amazing!

We talk all the time about overcoming fear, overcoming doubt, overcoming poverty mind sets, overcoming you can fill in the blank. I honestly believe the first thing we must overcome is our fear of being honest. Our fear of being real, and struggling honestly before God and before others.

As Christmas draws near I am reminded of Mary.
Luke 1:26-38 Mary is having a conversation with the angel Gabriel.
In The sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.

Let stop here for a moment, so remember that the people of God have just gone through 400 years of silence from God. Then all of a sudden an angel appears to Mary. It says here she was confused and disturbed and she thought “what could this mean?” It does not say, “than great faith filled Mary’s mind!” She was confused, distraught even.

Lets keep reading, “Don’t be frightened, Mary,” (Mary was afraid) the angel told her, “for God has decided to bless you! You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever, his kingdom will never end.”

Put yourself in Mary’s shoe’s here. She is a virgin, engaged and was just told she was going to have a son. Imagine the thoughts going through her mind. Things like, what will the people think? Will I be stoned to death? What will my fiancé say?
Lets keep reading, Mary asked the angel, “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin.” Again, it does not say, then great faith filled Mary, it does not say, all her doubt was erased. She asked the angel a question. Revealing her confusion, her disturbance.

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born will be holy, and He will be called the Son of God.”

I can only imagine the great pause as Mary processed through all of this information. She is going to be an unmarried woman, a virgin, and she is going to become pregnant. In her time, woman were stoned for actions like this. I can imagine her sweating with fear as she processes the information this great angel has just given her, than Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true.” Mary was willing, it does not say, “than great faith filled Mary and she overcame her fear, it says, “and I am willing to accept whatever he wants.”

God is looking for honest, willing hearts and minds. Not perfect hearts and minds, willing hearts and minds. Willing to look fear, doubt, brokenness and stigma’s in the face and say, “God, I am willing.”

We have looked at several verses that allow us to see, God just wants us to be real and honest with Him. He does not want us to hide in a false faith, Christian talk or minimization of our humanity. He knows we will doubt. He knows we will fear. He knows we will hate. He knows we will slip. This is why He left His word, to show us, we are not alone.

Isaiah 42:1-4 says of Jesus, “Look at my servant, whom I strengthen, He is my chosen one, and I am well pleased with him. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will reveal justice to the nations. He will be gentle- he will not shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush those who are weak or quench the smallest hope. He will bring full justice to all who have been wronged. He will not stop until truth and righteousness prevail through out the earth.”

Jesus is gentle, He will not crush you when you are down, He will not stomp out your hope. He will not give up on you. He understands our humanity, because He too was human. Instead He come’s with truth and justice on our behalf and restores us, comforts us and renews our strength.

As we approach God with honest minds and hearts, let us come bold, fully accepted and willing to allow God to change us. Change how we think so we will be transformed. Transformed into the people God has created us to be, from the beginning of time. Holy, pure, fearless and blameless.

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