Accepted, according to Webster’s dictionary, means regarded favorably: given approval or acceptance.
At some point in your life you may have heard that word - possibly when getting into your dream school, making it on the team, or joining into a loving family by marriage or adoption. Acceptance feels good.
Contradictory to that, rejection does not. Feeling less than, not chosen, or being left out can burn. Have you ever had a great idea? Maybe at work you had something you wanted to bring to the table but no one else felt the same way about it? Or maybe the family you are a part of doesn’t value or approve of you. Sometimes you may feel left out, perhaps purposely or by personal fault, but either way, the idea of not being accepted can derail us if we can’t fully grasp the depth to which we have already been accepted. Our acceptance happened long before we were even born.
If anyone understands what it’s like to not feel accepted it’s Jesus. At one point when he was performing miracles, he went back to his hometown of Nazareth. Jesus was speaking in the synagogues and on one account they didn’t like what he had to to say.
Luke 4:28-30 says, “When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.” (NLT)
Not many of us have actually been pushed to the edge of a cliff in hopes we would fall to our death. But, as we can see, Jesus certainly understands rejection.
Think about the disciples whom Jesus chose to walk with during his final years on Earth. These men weren’t exactly regarded as favorable. Honestly, some people couldn’t believe they were walking with Jesus- some of which were a tax collector, fishermen, a zealot. If we looked at their given titles, we wouldn’t think much of such men. But Jesus chose them because he saw something others couldn’t see. He accepted them when others didn’t, not because of “what” they did, but because of “whose” they were.
That same acceptance is extended to you. It’s not an exclusive club meant just for those that act a certain way, have a certain look, come from a particular upbringing, work a certain job or drink only strong coffee (whew, cuz I’m definitely a decaf kinda girl 😅). Acceptance is joining the body of Christ, coming as you are, being fully accepted into His family. In time, you may change as you grow in your relationship with Christ, but he doesn’t ask you to wait until you’re at that point to be His. Right now, He chooses you. I love this verse:
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT
Once we can grasp that long before we were born we were already chosen, accepted and designed with a particular purpose in mind, rejection won’t have the final say. It may still sting, but it won’t define us because the one who created the universe calls us His masterpiece. Let that sink in.
“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Romans 8:31 NLT
The voices around you may say rejected, but the Voice within you says “accepted”.
Loneliness is something that we all struggle with. Maybe for you it's not a physical loneliness, but it's a spiritual or emotional loneliness. Our enemy wants nothing more than to make us feel alone, weak, and unwanted, but GOD's truth says so much more. In Him we are never alone, strong in our weakness, and have been chosen for a specific purpose.
2 Timothy 4:16-18:
The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.
Walk down any of the aisles of your local grocery store and you will see what fear, panic, and anxiety look like. Just ask any person today what COVID-19 is and unless they are sleeping under a rock they will be able to tell you, “Coronavirus.” What has happened to our neighborhoods, communities, cities, nation, and world is nothing short of spiritual terrorism. Peace and calmness have been replaced with fear and anxiety. As Christians, we must take this opportunity, and yes I said opportunity, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. As we read the gospel stories about Jesus, never once did we see Him act out in fear or panic. He always sought to pray, listen, and then speak or act. Most of the time he was speaking and acting in conjunction with what He heard from the Father.
In John 11 we see the calmness of Jesus at work in a situation that was filled with anxiety and fear. Let me give you some context: Jesus’ was just alerted that His good friend Lazarus was sick. Instead of racing to Bethany where Lazarus lived, He stayed where He was for 2 more days. During that delay, Lazarus died and Jesus decided it was time to go to Bethany and raise His good friend from the dead. Flashback to a few days earlier and Jesus had just left Bethany because the leaders of the town tried to stone Him. Now Jesus has decided to go back. Here is where the story resonates with us.
Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” John 11:7-10 NLT
The disciples had every right to question Jesus in this moment. Did He really need to go back to the same city that just tried to kill Him? Was that necessary in the grand scheme of things? There were so many other towns to preach in and Jesus could easily just say the word and Lazarus would be healed. But Jesus wasn’t going to run. It wasn’t in His character to run. Jesus faced troublesome situations head on and this one was no different. In the middle of the chaos and threat of death was Lazarus. Lazarus was the reason Jesus was going back to Judea and Lazarus is the reason we as the Church have an opportunity in this moment to make an impact on eternity. Lazarus is your neighbor who is anxiously watching the news and nervously stockpiling toilet paper. Lazarus is your children who are looking to you for strength and faith when the world seems to be running in a panic. Lazarus is a co-worker who is sick and is worried that it might lead to something worse or even deadly.
Today, this month, this year, we have an incredible opportunity to see the power of GOD manifest itself in the body of Christ. Our prayer is that we will step up to the challenges that lay ahead of us and look to Jesus as not only our peace and comfort, but our example of what to do in troublesome situations. Mark 16:15-18 outlines our mission:
And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.” NLT
If you would like us to stand with you in prayer, please connect with us here . We will continue to pray for our followers as we walk through these eventful times together.
A few months ago I was having a discussion with a brand new Christian and she was asking me questions about the Bible and certain things she had been reading in the book of Matthew. After a little while the conversation turned to prayer and she asked a question that I had never heard before, “How do I pray?” I stood there thinking for a minute and finally just said, “It’s like having a conversation with a friend.” In all honesty, it was this very conversation that inspired me and Valerie to start the series, “Back to Basics” on the Anchor Movement Blog. As we began doing research, Google searches, and social media scanning, we noticed that many Christians don’t have a good understanding of the basics of Christianity. Often times, we noticed that people would quote something and say that it came from the Bible when in reality, it’s not anywhere in the Bible. My favorite: GOD helps those who help themselves. That’s actually a quote popularized by Benjamin Franklin written in Poor Richards Almanac in 1733. Basic knowledge of scripture and GOD’s character would underscore the fact that we can’t help ourselves at all. Jesus had to come, live a sinless life, die on a Roman cross, and be raised from the dead by GOD, so that He could give us eternal life. So, when my friend asked me the question, “How do I pray,” she illuminated the fact that many new believers in Jesus and even people who have been a Christian for a long time, might not know how to pray or feel uncomfortable praying. So, lets see what the Bible says and give some practical steps to help you begin have a conversation with GOD.
1. Prayer is a conversation
Prayer is nothing more than a conversation with GOD. When you accept Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, the Bible tells us that through Jesus we can now come to the Father (Ephesians 2:18). That simply means we can have conversation or fellowship with GOD anytime we want. GOD is not in some far off place or only at church, but GOD is with you every minute of every day. Whether you are in the shower or in the car, GOD is ready and willing to talk, sing, or even just listen to you. How do you talk to your family and friends? Do you text your friends with Thee’s and Thou’s? No. You just talk and it’s you, individual and unique, you. That is the same way you can talk to GOD. He’s doesn’t need any fancy language or special chants before you pray. GOD just wants to hear your voice and spend time with His child. Just like any good father would want to spend time with his children and hear them talk, GOD is the same way.
2. Prayer can be verbal, written, or silent
The most comment form of prayer is a verbal conversation with GOD, but that’s not the only form of prayer. Many of the writings in the Bible are prayers to GOD expressed through written word or song. When my friend asked, “How do I pray,” she wondered if she was doing it wrong because she expressed herself better through journaling and painting than actually sitting down and speaking out loud to GOD. My answer was, “Yes!” GOD gave each one of us unique ways that we can express ourselves and many of those talents can be used during prayer. For me, there have been times where the situation leaves me speechless and I don’t know what to say. Thankfully, GOD knew we would have those moments and in Romans 8:26 Paul writes:
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” Romans 8:26-27 NLT
GOD is speaking for us even when we are silent. Your prayers to GOD don’t need to be the same as everyone else. Sometimes we talk and oftentimes we are silent. It’s not in the action or way that GOD hears our prayers but it’s through our hearts.
3. Prayer is constant
One of the misconceptions about how to pray is that is has to be done in a certain place or at a certain time, but in reality prayer is constant dialogue with GOD. Prayer can be done on your way to school, getting ready for work, in the grocery store, watching your kids on the playground, or as I mentioned earlier, the shower. Some people have a prayer closet—I have a prayer shower. What I have noticed is that GOD is not concerned with the where or how I pray, but He’s more interested in the conversation. Our prayer time isn’t limited to minutes or hours, but its a continual dialogue as we go through our day. If you had the opportunity to spend the entire day with your best friend, odds are you would talk to them for most of that day. With GOD, we have that opportunity, but many times we give Him the silent treatment for most of the day. Philippians 4:6 in the New Living Translation says it like this:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
Prayer doesn’t have to be an overly complicated experience between you and GOD. In its reality, prayer is simply communication between GOD and His children. Don’t let tradition or experience keep you from enjoying the fellowship that comes when GOD’s children seek Him through prayer. Just like any loving Father, He only wants a relationship.
Over the next several weeks and months, Anchor Movement is going to focus on a series called “Back to the Basics” where we answer and define what it actually means to be a Christian. We want to answer some of the questions that new and old believers have in their walk of faith. Some examples include, “How to study the Bible,” and “Why should I go to church.” If you have a question you’d like us to answer or explore on the blog, go to our connect page and leave your response or visit our Instagram page here and leave your response in the comments.