Today I spent time reading in Matthew 18 and pretty much the WHOLE chapter spoke to me in several different ways. For that very reason, I will be doing a three part series on Matthew 18 and these three separate blogs that will be spaced out over the next three Wednesdays. This first blog will focus on Matthew 18:3, the importance of repentance and seeing true change in our lives. CAUTION: Be prepared for a very deep and authentic/vulnerable testimonial type blog as I believe that the Lord is calling me to go there with you today and throughout these three blog postings. A scripture that comes to mind as I prepare to move forward with this blog is, “They triumphed over him (the accuser/Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11).
The scripture that I will be focusing on in today’s longer blog is, “Jesus said, ‘I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self – your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven'” (Matthew 18:3 AMP). No matter what we have gone through in life, as followers/believers of Christ, we are called to give it all to Jesus, to leave it all on the cross. Leave the past hurts and sin with Jesus so that He can put it on the cross where it belongs. When you make the decision to walk with Jesus, you make the decision to leave that old destructive/hurt person behind and walk in the new life in Christ that Jesus died for you to have. You no longer have to live in that guilt, shame, anxiety, and depression, but rather you give it all to Jesus and walk in His grace, mercy, and love.
Here is where the CAUTION part of my blog begins… when I was 10 years old, the “circle of trust” (this could be a: teacher, babysitter, family member, church member, etc.) in my life was broken and as a result I lost my virginity before I even knew what sex was. This sexual abuse continued to happen to me for several years and by the time I was 12 years old it had dawned on me what was actually happening and that it was wrong. That is when the guilt, shame, anxiety, and depression began to kick in and I began to walk around in life with my head down and my eyes staring at the ground. I wasn’t really sure how to deal with all of this hurt and pain, but I do know that the guilt and shame kept me from talking about these events with anyone else. The enemy (Satan) would whisper to me that I would feel better if I acted out sexually with other women, and that is exactly what I did. I would hook up with girls from the club or whenever the opportunity to sleep with someone would arise. I quickly learned that the voice whispering to me was a liar as sex never made me feel better, but in fact always made me feel worse. Sex was the very thing that hurt me in the first place, and it was never going to heal me or make me feel better. As the matter of fact, my having sex with other girls actually ended up hurting them too as they would catch feelings and the act of sex was meaningless to me. That is one example of how the saying ‘hurt people, hurt people’ rings true.
Now that I’ve shared that part of my testimony, let’s get back to the application of that original scripture… I had to repent of my sins and turn to Jesus. At the age of 17, I finally decided to repent of my sins and accept the gift of salvation from Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, when I accepted Jesus I was happy to receive His gift of salvation, but I was too ashamed to give Him the hurts of my past… it was like I put out one hand to receive His gift of salvation, but I hid the other hand of hurts, pains, and sin, behind my back. As a result, I was a man that was going to church and learning the depths of my Savior, but I was still feeding my hurts and pains of the past by continuing to: act out sexually with other women, watch porn, masturbate, etc.. These acts continued to happen until I was about 30 years old and found myself sitting in a Celebrate Recovery (Christ Centered Recovery Group). While at Celebrate Recovery, I shared the fullness of my testimony with the brothers that were in my recovery group. As I was sharing, my voice was trembling, and my tears were soaking the ground beneath me. The tears that poured out were healing tears and Jesus began to embrace me and heal the wounds of my past. This was that moment where I gave the other hand that was behind my back to Jesus and He then became the Lord of my life.
This is where I wrap up Part 1 of 3 in my Matthew 18 blog series. I know that I am coming to a screeching halt here, but I want to encourage you to take that first step of just being real and vulnerable with Jesus. Take some time to talk with Jesus in prayer about the hurts of your past/present and ask Him to begin to do a healing work within you. If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior and Lord, then I encourage you to pray a simple prayer to ask Jesus into your heart and to become your Savior and Lord. Ask God to reveal to you a trusted ‘believer’ friend that you can talk with about your past/present hurts and/or sins. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16 NIV). I believe this scripture is true not just for sin, but for past hurts and shame that we are still ashamed of and navigating through. When you share these things with a trusted friend, you will experience freedom as the secret between you, God, and satan, is now out in the open and you realize that you are still loved and accepted by others. Take some time to meet with that trusted person over the next week. Share with them, pray with them, and watch the Lord begin to do the healing work within you. Be sure to come back to my blog next Wednesday (5/22/19) to catch Part 2 of my 3 part Matthew 18 blog series, which will be titled, 'The Struggle Is Real - Matthew 18 (Part 2)'.
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