Why God Likes You More Than You Think

Believer’s Paranoia

Whether they know it or not…

Whether they admit it or not…

….every believer struggles with having a positive image of God. Is he mad at them for their latest sin, committed for the umpteenth time? Is he holding back blessings…or even sending curses on them? Has he stopped hearing their prayers?

Sound familiar?

If you want to know how I know what you’re going through so well, it’s because all believers signed up for  the same challenge of serving an invisible and silent Father in heaven. Yes, we all know it’s a matter of faith to believe in and serve God. But being told that over and over does little to help us with our day to day uncertainty on how he judges in general, and us in specific. We’re all left kind of paranoid about God because we are lacking information.

I finally recognized this universal problem after noticing similar questions from believers like above. I would receive these questions from people despite my advertised area of expertise being in Bible prophecy (the topic of my first book), not in, say, pastoring or Christian counseling. That indicates how desperate people are for answers on this problem.

For example, here’s the latest one from just this week on this theme:

i pray to Jesus but I’m afraid because i am not very christian in my ways that he don’t hear me

what do you think?

When I answered her she was quite pleased with what I said. Therefore I am going to publish my answer to her below knowing that for every person who has asked, there are many more who have not yet have the same doubts.

Here’s What I Said:

What you’re saying about having doubts and fears is very common. In the last few years I conquered my own doubts about God not wanting to hear from me or to help me. I did this by studying Jesus words and deeds which he said was always “showing the Father” and only doing what the Father willed.

And what did he do? He only loved those who came to him for help (which excludes the religious leaders he rebuked because they came to attack him). He even healed every single person who came to him, even when there were masses of hundreds, it says he healed them all. Of course, in crowds of that size there were certainly some there of “unchristian ways” like you have, and even heavy sinners. Yet we find that he never said, “go repent and do better before I’ll heal you.” He healed all who came.

God is the same way because Jesus said he reflected the Father’s wills and ways. He will do the same for us if we seek him. He will not reject us and say we’re not good enough.

Now, if you think you’re not good enough or worried that you are not right with God, then that’s actually a very good sign. The real problem would be if you were not worried about your ways or relationship with God. You know, just like most of the world who does not give God a passing thought let alone care what he says? You’re not like that based on what I’m hearing, so your every attempt at prayer or good works, even when you fail, is pleasing to God.

In Revelation it reveals that the prayers of the saints are as sweet incense to God. How can that be? Because it takes faith to pray to an invisible God and to believe he will do good in response. Hebrews says without faith its impossible to please God. You’re very pleasing to God when you act in faith, no matter how imperfectly (or even boringly!).

Consider by comparison how we view toddlers who try to do well but stumble and get in trouble and make messes. Even though we are imperfect and “evil” (Lk 11:13), we love them and enjoy their every cute attempt to please us, no matter how disastrous. I think God has to see us as toddlers, too. When we keep stumbling while trying to do right he still loves and enjoys us as, compared to us, he is full of patience, mercy and love.

And here’s another thing: he expects nothing less since he made us this way: limited in strength, understanding, and willpower. He already knew we’d make mistakes, forget to do what we promised and , etc. He forgives all because this is how we designed us: imperfect and learning through repeated, inevitable mistakes. When you think about it, we probably in total do more things wrong in life than right, yet we’ll all be in the kingdom for our intent or heart to do right and not be kept out for all our failures.

Do you feel better yet? Then go pray to God and just talk to him like a toddler goes on and on and know that, like we do with our toddlers, God will laugh and enjoy it. God wants to hear from you, his child who seeks to please him.

Is There Still Punishment For Forgiven Sins?

I received the following question on Facebook about how forgiveness works:

Feeling as if it is a fresh start and that yesterday’s mistakes aren’t part of ‘today’ have made a large difference. I ask for forgiveness and hope for the best and try not to doubt the forgiveness. I guess I sometimes wonder about that word too; forgiveness. Like, does God forgive us our sins in the fact that they are erased so much that we don’t go to hell but still receive punishment in life for the sins.. or is the forgiveness wiping away our sins entirely as long as we ask, and we suffer no punishment?

To understand what the full cost of sin is, you have to first properly understand the nature of our reward in the Kingdom. It’s not as simple as Christians generally understand it, being only about salvation. For example, Revelation says we are rewarded “according to our works” (Rev 20:12-13). How can that be when many NT passages speak of salvation being a free gift according to grace through faith?

The answer is that Revelation is not talking about salvation there but to a second component of our reward after the first component of salvation. Everyone gets eternal life in the Kingdom for having faith in the Word of God. It’s the same “one penny” reward for all by grace through faith (Gen 15:6=Lk 8:21=Mt 20:10). You can’t earn it, Jesus paid for it already so that those who turn to God can have their sins forgiven and they can enter the Kingdom and live forever.

In that eternal life there are different roles, responsibilities and brightness of bodies according to Daniel and Paul (Dan 12:3=1Co 15:40-41). Or what Jesus referred to as “riches in heaven” that come from greater sacrifice (Mt 19:21). What you get depends on your works (Jas 2:24=Mk 4:8=Rev 20:12-13). To qualify higher you need more works and less sin. Because it says love covers a multitude of sins (Jas 5:20) it seems that the equation is something like REWARD = GOOD WORKS – SINS.

So there’s no need to be in guilt on past sins or paralyzed worrying about them as Jesus paid the price to forgive them so you can still enter the Kingdom. If you instead focus on replacing them with good works, they don’t have to hurt your reward level in the Kingdom, either.

A Key to Repentance…From Comedian Louis CK?

Repentance: Why Do We Get Stuck?

Repentance is a nebulous word to modern ears. To repent literally means to turn. Specifically, to turn from your natural selfish inclinations to the way of God, the way of love and peace.

Of course, we tend to fail to act lovingly all the time. We all generally know what we should do in any situation, perhaps the opposite of our natural selfish instinct, but we don’t follow through. For example, the Bible is full of praise for giving generously to the poor or those in need.  As much as we all support that principle, in practice we tend encounter difficulties acting on it. We don’t know why, but we just can’t do it. Why is this and how do we change it? There is a way that I have been practicing that few seem to be aware or do. You probably will never get instruction on this in church, but you might just get a glimpse of it from a top comedian.

The Profound Insight

I certainly was surprised when I heard a comedian describe this key to repentance in a recent interview. Watch the short clip below. It’s profoundly insightful (as well as humorous) when he tells of pulling over and sitting with negative thoughts:

Did you catch the insight and how it relates to repentance? In his anecdote, he gave a powerful example of a habit we all have. When we have negative feelings or thoughts about ourselves, we try to ignore it or distract ourselves from it. In his case, it was sadness from being reminded that he is alone and may always be alone or even die alone. For believers trying to do the right thing, when we fail we likewise feel bad about ourselves. We may feel ashamed, hypocritical, ugly or guilty of not doing God’s will.

What most of have learned to do to handle these unpleasant feelings is to try to put them out of our minds. In our modern, connected world, it is incredibly easy to distract ourselves and not feel these thoughts. We can reach out to a friend through the phone like Louis CK did, or through social media like Facebook. We can go exercise or watch a movie or program on demand. We can eat some comfort food or get a drink or even take a pill like a Xanax. Any number of other pleasures are able to help us forget about how rotten we are.

How to Overcome Our Blockages

But what if we do what Louis CK did and actually get ignore our fear or discomfort and stop and look at ourselves in our moment of selfishness? Then we might actually be able to discover why we failed and fix it.

Going back to the example above where of not giving to someone in need, with a little repeated introspection we may discover that:

  • We hold some prejudices against giving to the poor from a upbringing showing us how to be hardworking and self-reliant (“if I can do it, why can’t they?”).
  • We think the poor get that way only because they are lazy or not working hard enough.
  • We assume that they otherwise must have brought the trouble on themselves or are even cursed by God and “deserve” it.
  • We may be coming from a scarcity mentality that makes it hard for us to give to others because we feel we won’t have enough for ourselves later.

Once we get to the root belief system(s) behind our negative actions, we can work on questioning and changing that false value or false belief and replacing it with the proper true or loving belief. It may take some doing and petitioning in our prayer closet, but in time we will find that our actions align more and more with truth and love.

If you make it a habit to examine the beliefs behind all your selfish or fearful ways, you will be on your way to being called an overcomer (Rev 21:7 KJV) and producing much fruit (John 15:5).