God bless you. It’s a joy to come into your homes. And if you’re ever in our area, please stop by. Be a part of one of our services. I promise you, we’ll make you feel right at home. I like to start with something funny, and I heard about this senior citizen. He was driving down the freeway in his brand-new Corvette, with the top down, going 80 miles an hour, when he saw flashing red lights from a state trooper in his rearview mirror. Without thinking about it, he floored it, took off to a hundred miles an hour. He heard the sirens behind him. He finally pulled over and said, “Officer, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking.” The state trooper said, “Listen. It’s Friday, 4:00. My shift is over in 30 minutes. If you tell me a reason why you’re speeding that I’ve never heard before, then I’ll let you go.” The man thought about it and said, “Officer, years ago, my wife ran off with a state trooper, and I thought you were bringing her back.” The officer said, “Have a great weekend.”
Say it like you mean it. This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught the word of God. I’ll boldly confess. My mind is alert. My heart is receptive. I will never be the same, in Jesus’ name. God bless you.
I want to talk to you today about peace with yourself. Too many people go around feeling wrong on the inside. They don’t really like who they are. They focus on their faults, weaknesses. They’re constantly critical toward themselves. That recording of everything they’ve done wrong is always playing in their mind. “You’re impatient. You blew your diet yesterday. You lost your temper. You’re still struggling with that addiction. You should be ashamed of yourself.” They wonder why they’re not happy. It’s because they have this war going on on the inside. You’re not supposed to go through life feeling wrong about yourself. Quit focusing on your faults. Quit overanalyzing your weaknesses. Quit beating yourself up because you’re not where you thought you would be.
Here’s the key. You’re not a finished product. God is still working on you. The scripture says, “God changes us from glory to glory.” You have to learn to enjoy the glory that you’re in right now. You may have some weaknesses. We all do. There may be some areas where you know you need to improve, but being down on yourself is not going to help you do better. Having that nagging feeling telling you, “You don’t measure up. God is not pleased with you. You’ll never get it right,” it’s not going to help you move forward. You have to accept yourself right where you are, faults and all. God is the potter. We are the clay. He’s the one making you and molding you. And it may not be happening as fast as you would like, but you don’t control the timetable. Will you trust him in the process? Will you accept yourself in the glory that you’re in right now?
The problem with not liking yourself is you’re the only person that you can never get away from. You can get away from your boss, you can get away from your neighbor, you can get away from that crazy uncle, but you can never get away from you. You wake up with you. You take a shower with you. You go to work with you. You even go on vacations with you. If you don’t like you, life is going to be very miserable. Don’t go around being against yourself. You may have some things wrong with you, but can I tell you? You have a lot more right with you. You may have a long way to go, but if you look back, you’ll see how far you’ve already come.
Keep your flaws in perspective. Every person has something they’re dealing with. You may see someone that looked further along. They look like they’ve got it all together. They’re happy, enjoying their life, but they’re on the potter’s will. The reason they’re not upset, the reason they’re not down on themselves, is they’ve learned this principle to enjoy where you are while God is in the process of changing you. We think, “I’m going to feel good about myself as soon as I lose this 10 pounds, as soon as I break this addiction, as soon as I control my mouth. Then I’ll get rid of the guilt, the heaviness.” I’m asking you to feel good about yourself right where you are. If you don’t understand this, you will go through life not liking yourself, because as soon as you overcome this weakness, you cross this off your list, God will show us something else that we need to improve. It will be a never-ending cycle.
I talked to a man recently. He said, “Joel, you’re so calm and good-natured. Do you ever get upset? Do you ever lose your temper?” This is an area that I’ve never struggled in. Always been easygoing. My mother tells people she’s never seen me angry a day in my life. Well, God gives us grace in different areas. When I told him that, he shook his head and said, “Man, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I get upset so easily. I’ve done this my whole life.” I’ve told him what I’m telling you. As long as you’re down on yourself, feeling like you don’t measure up, you can’t get it right, that’s not only going to keep you from enjoying your life, but it’s going to keep you from improving. You have to give yourself a break. You’re on the potter’s will. You can’t change yourself. God has to give you the grace to change.
And it takes a mature person to accept who you are, to be at peace on the inside, even though you have some areas you need to improve in. It’s easy to stay negative towards yourself, down, you can’t get it right, but when you make this decision to accept yourself, faults and all, instead of beating yourself up, you have the attitude, “No, I’m not perfect. I have some areas I need to improve in, but God, I want to thank you for the glory that I’m in right now. I know you’re the potter. I’m going to stay on this will and keep being my best, knowing on your timetable that you will change me,” this is what allows God to work. Not always beating yourself up.
The scripture says in Hebrews, “Looking away from all that will distract to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” You have to look away from your faults. Look away from your shortcomings. Focusing on your weaknesses will distract you from your purpose. Always thinking about how you don’t measure up will distract you from the good things God has in store. This doesn’t mean we don’t try to improve. It means you don’t let that heaviness weigh you down to where you think that there’s something wrong with you.
One of the worst mistakes you could make is to go through life being against yourself. Some people live with this nagging feeling that’s always telling them, “You’re not attractive enough. You’re not disciplined enough. You still have that addiction. You’ll never get it right.” They’ve heard that playing in their mind so long that it’s become normal. Why don’t you turn off that negative recording? Why don’t you quit thinking about everything wrong with you and start thinking about what’s right with you? You may have some areas you still struggle in. Join the crowd. We all do. There’s not one perfect person in here. What I’m saying is it’s okay to feel good about who you are while you’re in the process of changing.
Somebody asked me the other day. What is the one thing I would change about myself if I could? And I don’t mean this to sound arrogant, but I couldn’t think of anything. And yes, there are plenty of areas I need to improve in. Here’s my point. I don’t sit around thinking about everything wrong with me. I don’t have on the forefront of my mind my flaws, my weaknesses, my shortcomings. I don’t go through the day reliving my failures, beating myself up for past mistakes, letting that negative recording remind me of everything that I’m not. I say this with humility. I like myself. I’m happy with who I am. I’m proud of who God made me to be.
Again, I’m not bragging on me. I’m bragging on the goodness of God. I know I’m the apple of his eye. I know I’m a masterpiece. I know I’m a prized possession, fearfully and wonderfully made. And yes, I have shortcomings, but I’m on the potter’s will. I’m a work in progress. God has his own timetable. While he’s changing me, I’m going to feel good about who I am. I’m going to keep my head held high and enjoy my life, knowing that God will get me to where I’m supposed to be.
It’s very powerful when you can say, “I like who I am. I feel good about myself. I’m proud of who God made me to be.” Most people can’t do this. They say, “I would feel good about myself if I didn’t have these weaknesses. I would be happy with who I am if I was a better parent, if I was more patient, if I wasn’t so jealous,” or “Joel, I would hold my head up high if I hadn’t made these mistakes, if I hadn’t blown that relationship.” There will always be some reason why you shouldn’t feel good about who you are. The accuser will make sure to remind you of something that you’re not doing right, some area you’re not up to par, some way that you failed.
If you’re going to live in victory, you have to put your foot down and say, “That’s it. I’m done being against myself. I’m done feeling wrong on the inside. I’m done focusing on my weaknesses. I know I’m a child of the most high God, redeemed, restored, forgiven. God is taking me from glory to glory, so I’m going to look away from all that distracts and I’m going to enjoy the glory that I’m in right now.” Now, when you do this, don’t be surprised if every voice tells you, “You’re a hypocrite. You can’t feel good about yourself. Man, you still struggle. You still have that weakness.” This is when you have to have the boldness to say, “Yes, that’s true, but I’m on the potter’s will. I’m growing. I’m changing. In the meantime, I feel good about me.”
Your destiny is too important to let that heaviness weigh you down. Your time is too valuable to sit around thinking about everything that’s wrong with you. That’s taking your joy, your energy, your creativity, your anointing. Start looking away from all of that. You’re on the potter’s will. You’re not going to change overnight. It’s going to happen little by little. But if you’re always down on yourself because you’re not far enough along and you’re not growing as fast as you would like, you’ll live frustrated. It’s very freeing when you can be happy with who you are, even though you have some areas that you still need to improve in.
Think about the apostle Paul. He said, “The things I want to do, I don’t do. And the things I want to do, I end up doing.” He wasn’t perfect. He still struggled in some areas. If he would have been down on himself, thinking, “Why can’t I get it right?” he wouldn’t have written almost half of the New Testament. He wouldn’t have become one of the heroes of faith. You don’t have to have it all together in order to do something great. And if you’re waiting until you overcome all your weaknesses, until you perform perfectly, then you’re going to feel good about yourself, you’ll be waiting your whole life.
There are some weaknesses that God leaves on purpose so we have to depend on him. Otherwise, we would think we could do it all in our own strength. What I’m saying, why don’t you start feeling good about yourself right where you are? If Paul can write almost half of the New Testament with flaws and weaknesses, then you can accomplish your dreams with what you’re dealing with. When you are on the potter’s will, you are the most pliable, the easiest to work with, when you’re at peace with yourself, not upset, angry on the inside, disappointed because you’re not what you think you should be. All that’s doing is slowing down the process. The right attitude is “I may have some things wrong with me, but I’m at peace. I know I’m on the way. I’m in the process, and what God started in my life, he’s going to finish.”
Jeremiah said, “Before you were formed in your mother’s womb, God knew you and approved you.” He doesn’t say he approves you as long as you don’t make any mistakes, or he approves you as long as you perform perfectly, as long as you don’t have any weaknesses. He approved you before you got here, in your mother’s womb. This means he approves you with those weaknesses. He approves you in spite of those shortcomings. You’re not a surprise to God. He knows the end from the beginning. He knew every area you would ever struggle with. That’s why he has you on the potter’s will. That’s why he’s changing you from glory to glory.
You’re not defective. You’re not a mistake. When God created you, he called you a masterpiece. He stepped back and said, “That was good.” You may have some flaws and weaknesses. Those voices will try to convince you to live down on yourself, thinking “God is not going to bless me, Joel. You don’t know what I struggle with. I’ll never get it right.” Don’t believe those lies. Before you showed up on planet Earth, God already approved you. My challenge is since God approves you, why don’t you start approving yourself? Why don’t you start feeling good about who you are?
A lot of times, we think we can’t feel good about ourselves until we do everything right. If we resist the temptation, if we bite our tongue, if we’re more patient, then we believe God will approve us. Then he’ll be pleased. But the truth is there’s nothing you can do to make God love you any more. His approval is not based on your performance. It’s based on your relationship. He handpicked you. He chose you before you could choose him.
And when you understand that the creator of the universe approves you, you won’t go around down on yourself because you’re not where you thought you should be, trying to gain God’s approval by performing perfectly, never making a mistake. You know you already have his approval. This takes the pressure off. You can relax knowing that you’re on the potter’s will, that he’s making you and molding you. And when those thoughts come and try to push you down, tell you, “You’re not far enough along. You should feel bad about yourself,” you can say, “No, thanks. I know God approves me, so I’m going to approve myself. I’m going to feel good about who I am.”
Paul said in Ephesians to put on the breastplate of God’s approval. Every morning, when you get up, you should say, “Father, thank you that you approve me. Thank you that you are pleased with me.” You have to put it on. It’s not going to automatically happen. Thoughts will try to convince you that you don’t deserve God’s blessing. “You made that mistake last week. You still struggle with your temper. You failed yesterday.” If you’re not putting this on, you’ll start living guilty, feeling unworthy, like you don’t deserve God’s blessing. This is the reason people live with the heaviness, that feeling that there’s something wrong with them. They’re not putting on the breastplate of God’s approval.
It’s the breastplate, meaning that it covers your heart, your most important area, where you live out of. And you may have plenty of areas that you still struggle in, but being against yourself is not going to help you do better. Living condemned, feeling like you’re unworthy, you don’t deserve God’s blessing, that’s going to cause you to get stuck. You have to put on this approval, talking about in your thoughts all through the day, “God is pleased with me. He’s at work in my life. I’m not perfect, but I’m forgiven. I have these weaknesses, but I’m on the potter’s will. He’s making me. He’s molding me. I’m coming up higher.” Thoughts will say, “You can’t feel good about yourself. You still struggle in that area.” Just answer back, “Yes, that’s true, but this approval is not based on how good I am. It’s based on how good God is. He approved me before I showed up. He accepted me in spite of my shortcomings, so I’m going to start putting on this approval.”
Remember, when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, a voice boomed out of the heavens saying, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased.” What’s interesting, up to that point, Jesus hadn’t performed one miracle, hadn’t opened any blind eyes, hadn’t turned water into wine, hadn’t raised Lazarus from the dead, yet his father said, “I am well-pleased with him.” It’s the same principle. God was pleased with him because of who he was and not because of anything he had done.
We think, “If I can get rid of this bad habit, if I can bite my tongue and not argue so much, if I can be more disciplined in what I watch, then God will be pleased with me.” The fact is God is well-pleased with you right now. He may not be pleased with all your behavior, but he is pleased with you. He’s already approved you. He’s already called you a masterpiece. But if you listen to these condemning voices, you don’t think you measure up, “You’ll never get it right,” then you’ll start living guilty, condemned, feeling wrong on the inside. Why don’t you start putting on this approval knowing that God is well-pleased with you?
A lot of people think just the opposite, that God is out to get them. “He’s making for you to make the next mistake so he can push you down even further. That’s not how our God is. When you go through the day saying, “Father, thank you that you are pleased with me. Thank you that you have approved me. Thank you that you’ve already accepted me,” thoughts will tell you, “Who do you think you are?” Just answer back, “A child of the most high God, redeemed, restored, accepted, and approved.” Are you putting on your breastplate of approval, or are you wearing rags of condemnation, unworthiness, guilt? Do you believe that God is well-pleased with you, or are you trying to gain his approval by performing perfectly?
As a parent, our children make mistakes. They have weaknesses, but we know they’re growing, they’re learning, they’re making progress. If you were to ask me if I was pleased with my children, first thing I would do is not make a list of all their mistakes. I wouldn’t tell you everything they’ve done wrong the last three months. I wouldn’t have to think twice. I would say, “Yes, I’m very pleased. They’re great children.” I would make a list of everything I like about them. They’re loving, kind, talented, fun, attractive. That’s the way God thinks of you. He’s not focusing on your faults, looking at everything that you’ve done wrong, making a list of your shortcomings. He’s focusing on what you’re doing right. He’s looking at how you’re growing, how you’re making progress, how you’re not where you used to be.
“Well, Joel, what about this weakness? I’ve had it for many years.” You’re not a surprise to God. He’s not thinking, “Oh, boy, they’re wearing me out. I’m done with them.” He’s saying, “That’s my beloved son. That’s my beloved daughter, in whom I am well-pleased.” Why don’t you shake off the guilt? Why don’t you quit feeling wrong on the inside? The right attitude is “I’m going to accept myself while God is in the process of changing me. I’m going to be happy with who I am, even though I still have some areas I need to improve in.”
The enemy does not want you to feel good about who you are. Nothing he would love any more than for you to go through life feeling wrong on the inside. Don’t fall into that trap. Take off the rags of unworthiness and start putting on your breastplate of God’s approval. The most important relationship you have is your relationship with yourself. If you don’t get along with you, you won’t be able to get along with anybody else. It will affect every relationship, including your relationship with God. If you’re living guilty, condemned, feeling unworthy, you won’t go to God with boldness. You won’t ask him for your dreams. You won’t ask him for the supersized life that belongs to you. And this is the reason that many people can’t get along. They don’t like themselves. They’re insecure. They’re bitter. They’re defensive. It spills over into every other relationship.
Jesus said it this way: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” You can’t love your neighbor if you don’t first love yourself. You can’t give away something that you don’t have. And if you don’t have a healthy respect for yourself, if you’re not putting on this approval each day, knowing that you’re a masterpiece, knowing that you’re made in the image of God, then you’ll start focusing on your faults, your shortcomings. You’ll end up insecure, inferior. That will cause you to struggle in relationships.
The scripture says, “Our faith is made effective when we acknowledge everything good.” If you’re acknowledging everything you don’t like about you, your flaws, your shortcomings, your failures, your faith is not going to be effective. That’s going to cause you to get stuck. You have enough to overcome in life as it is. Don’t go around against yourself. Quit taking inventory of everything you don’t like. Sometimes, we spend more time looking at what’s wrong with us than we do what’s right with us. It should be just the opposite. Start acknowledging the good. Let me help you. You came to church today. That was good. You turned on the program. That was good. You were patient in traffic last week. That was good. You were kind to that stranger. You overlooked an insult. That was good. There’s a lot right about you.
Even physically, we tend to focus on what we don’t like. “I’m so old. I’m so wrinkled. I wish I was taller. Where did my hair go?” Listen. Turn it around. Instead of being critical, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am one of a kind. I am a masterpiece.” Something powerful happens when you say, “I like who I am. Not perfect, have some shortcomings, but I’m growing. I’m changing. And God, since you approve me, I’m going to approve myself.” When do you this, in the unseen realm, chains are broken. Chains of guilt, chains of low self-esteem, chains of inferiority. When you are for yourself, you are in agreement with God.
And some people have never once said, “I like myself. I like my gifts. I like my personality. I like my looks. I’m happy with who God made me to be. “Well, Joel, I’m not going to say I like myself. That’s weird.” But if you don’t like yourself in a healthy way, other people are not going to like you. You project what you believe on the inside. If you feel wrong about yourself, you project inferiority, unfriendliness, discontentment. I’m asking you to feel good about who you are. You may not be where you want to be, but you’re on the way. God is changing you from glory to glory. Start enjoying the glory that you’re in right now. You may have some weaknesses. We all do. Don’t you dare go through life against yourself. God is saying today, “You are my beloved son, my beloved daughter, in whom I am well-pleased.”
Now, do your part. Start putting on the breastplate of God’s approval each morning. If you’ll do this, I believe and declare every chain that’s holding you back is being broken. God is going to keep making you and molding you. You’re going to come up higher, overcome those obstacles, and become everything he’s created you to be, in Jesus’ name. If you receive it, can you say “Amen” today?
I’d like to give you an opportunity to make Jesus the Lord of your life. Would you pray with me? Just say, “Lord Jesus, I repented my sins. Come into my heart. I’ll make you my lord and savior.” Friends, if you prayed that simple prayer, we believe you got born again. Get in a good Bible-based church. Keep God first place.