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THE SEARCH FOR SIGNIFICANCE DEVOTIONAL JOURNALBased on The Search for Significance
By Robert S. McGee
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 Robert S. McGee
All right reserved.
Chapter One- Day 1 -
WHO HAS THE ANSWER I'M LOOKING FOR?
And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father."
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"
But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Knowing the Right Question
What are the various reasons people search for their worth anywhere else but in God?
Whether labeled self-esteem or self-worth, the feeling of significance is crucial to man's emotional, spiritual, and social stability and is the driving element within the human spirit. Understanding this single need opens the door to understanding our actions and attitudes.
What a waste to attempt to change behavior without truly understanding the driving needs that cause such behavior! Yet millions of people spend a lifetime searching for love, acceptance, and success without understanding the need that compels them. We must understand that this hunger for self-worth is God-given and can only be satisfied by Him. Our value is not dependent on our ability to earn the fickle acceptance of people, but rather, its true source is the love and acceptance of God. He created us. He alone knows how to fulfill all of our needs.
Think over the past twenty-four hours. When did you feel most valuable? Describe those situations.
What would be different in your life if you walked around with that valuable feeling all the time? What would this world be like if people everywhere felt valued?
In John 6:65-69 Simon Peter came to the place each of us hopefully comes to-God is the only one who has the answers. It just takes us awhile sometimes to start asking the right questions. How does God answer the question of what makes you valuable?
Today, right now, in this moment, what do you feel you're worth? On what are you basing your answer?
Talk To God
Heavenly Father, it takes time for me to sort through all the things I think I need in order to get down to my most basic needs. Sometimes the small things in life cause me to scurry past the important stuff. I give myself to You. Here I am for You to help me see what my most basic needs are so that I will know that You are the source for all I need. Help me this day not to give in to the temptation to find those answers anywhere else. Amen.
- Day 2 -
IS IT REALLY DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN?
I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -Psalm 73:23-26
Exposing the Wounds
If it were easy to be honest with yourself, words like denial wouldn't be used so often. That's why we need God's help sometimes to get gut-level honest before Him. Write a prayer giving God access to your most innermost thoughts and feelings. Ask Him to help you be totally honest in this process of discovering your own worth.
Is it really darkest before the dawn?
When the light of love and honesty shines on thoughts of hopelessness, it is often very painful. We begin to admit that we really do feel negatively about ourselves-and have for a long time. But God's love, expressed through His people and woven into our lives by His Spirit and His Word, can, over a period of time, bring healing even to our deepest wounds and instill within us an appropriate sense of self-worth.
Ask the Lord to give you the courage to be honest. Give Him permission to shine His Spirit's light on your thoughts, feelings, and actions. You may be surprised by additional pain as you realize the extent of your wounds, but our experience of healing can only be as deep as our awareness of the need for it. This takes the power of God's light. Ask Him to turn on the light.
When the light does come on in our lives, we will discover that we have tried to meet certain needs in the wrong way. It isn't that the needs are not real, it is just that we have tried to meet these needs in inappropriate ways.
Our self-worth is at our very core. It's a scary journey. We often try other avenues first to feel good about ourselves: attempts at perfection, one-upmanship, people-pleasing, even invisibility. What are some of the tactics that you've tried to make you feel good about yourself? What has been the result?
According to Psalm 73, we can trust God even more than we can trust ourselves. What difference would it make in your life to trust God's opinion of you over your own?
All of us have wounds. It's part of being human. Think about what made you angry over the last twenty-four hours. Some of our anger is connected to old wounds, which is why it's painful to explore. What is the last thing you can remember that made you angry?
How is what made you angry related to old wounds you still may carry?
Because you've invited God into this process with you, He is working in your life. In these next few days, let God use the situations or people that spark emotion in you to reveal old wounds that He would like to heal. What do you look forward to or dread in this journey of self-discovery and God-discovery?
TALK TO GOD
Holy God, when life gets difficult it's easy to believe that I'm just doing it wrong. It's easy to think, when things are painful, that I need to make it better right away by getting busy or taking something for the pain or simply running away. Father, help me to sit with You as we sift through these troubled places in my life. When You bring to light something difficult, help me to trust You enough to stay by Your side and let You clean and heal my wounds. Thank You for Your healing. Amen.
- Day 3 -
WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING?
Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth.
Defining the Journey
What do you hope will be accomplished by God's rummaging through your soul and helping you identify false beliefs?
From where do our destructive emotions come? Answer: Destructive thoughts. What triggers destructive thoughts? Answer: False beliefs. And how are the false beliefs energized? Answer: Our life situations.
Can we control our life situations to the degree that we can keep our false beliefs from being triggered? We try sometimes, but obviously that cannot be done. Therefore, we have a great need to destroy the false beliefs and replace them with the truth that God has disclosed to us.
We call this process The Trip In.
If our emotions come from our thoughts, and our thoughts spring from our beliefs, what is the significance of identifying your beliefs? What are the benefits?
Think over the past twenty-four hours. What strong emotions did you feel? What triggered them?
Which of the emotions you felt might be considered destructive? Why?
Think back over the past week. Who were the people and what were the circumstances that brought out negative, destructive emotions in you? What do those feelings reveal about your own thoughts and beliefs?
Talk to god
Holy God, I am Yours, and I matter to You. You made me. It is within our relationship that I can find my most basic meaning in life. Teach me to base my life on that relationship. Help me to see clearly my false beliefs about my worth. Help me build a life based on Your truth. Amen.
- Day 4 -
WHAT'S YOUR NET WORTH?
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
Setting the Standard
Think over the past two or three days. Close your eyes and let the memories rise to the surface. Who are the people you've tried to please or keep happy in some way? Were you successful?
Our desire for acceptance pressures us to perform to gain praise from others. We strive for success, driving our minds and bodies harder and further, hoping that because of our sweat and sacrifice others will appreciate us more.
But the man or woman who lives only for the love and attention of others is never satisfied-at least, not for long. Despite our efforts, we will never find lasting, fulfilling peace if we must continually prove ourselves to others. Our desire to be loved and accepted is a symptom of a deeper need-the need that frequently governs our behavior and is the primary source of our emotional pain. Often unrecognized, this is our need for self-worth.
Think about the relationship between a person's desire to be loved and accepted and that person's deeper need for self-worth. As you review your last few days, what symptoms can you see in yourself that reveal your need for self-worth?
As you think about emotionally painful interactions, or even whole seasons in your life, how did those difficulties relate to your own struggle for self-worth?
Sometimes we try to gain the approval of other people to feel better about ourselves. Why might this be easier than focusing on God's approval? When has this been true for you?
Based on Matthew 10:28-31, what is your worth in God's eyes?
TALK TO GOD
Father, I will walk among people today and their opinions will matter to me. Help me to keep that in perspective. Remind me that Your opinion is what matters most. Keep Your face as real to me as the face of each person I meet. The truth is that I am of worth because You claim me to be of worth. Help me to walk in that truth today. Amen.
- Day 5 -
WHAT DOES FAILURE REALLY TEACH YOU?
[Abraham] did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."
Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Finding God's Standards
Recently, when have you felt like a failure? What caused you to feel that way?
Justification means more than forgiveness of sins. In the same act of love through which God forgave our sins, He also provided for our righteousness, the worthiness to stand in God's presence. By imputing righteousness to us, God attributes Christ's worth to us. The moment we accept Christ, God declares that we are no longer condemned sinners. Instead, we are forgiven, we receive Christ's righteousness, and we are creatures who are fully pleasing to Him.
God desires for those of us who have been redeemed to experience the realities of His redemption. We are forgiven and righteous because of Christ's sacrifice; therefore, we are pleasing to God in spite of our failures. This reality can replace our fear of failure with peace, hope, and joy. Failure need not be a millstone around our necks. Neither success nor failure is the proper basis of our self-worth. Christ alone is the source of our forgiveness, freedom, joy, and purpose.
What's the difference between basing your worth on your experiences and basing your worth on what God says about you? What difference does it make in how you live?
If you had lived the last few days more in the truth of Romans 4:20-5:2 than you actually did (at peace with God, in grace through faith, rejoicing in His hope), what would have changed?
God's love for us doesn't adjust according to our current state of success or failure. Yet often our views of ourselves change according to our circumstances. How has your view of yourself been affected by events in the past forty-eight hours?
TALK TO GOD
Father God, You are far greater than any success or failure that I will ever experience. The truth is that Your approval is far more important than the opinions of those who stand on the sidelines of my life, for or against me. I want to honor You by walking in that truth. Help me to focus on Your peace, Your grace, and Your hope in my life-no matter what else may happen. Amen.
- Day 6 -
WHO DO YOU LISTEN TO?
I have declared my ways, and You answered me; teach me Your statutes. Make me understand the way of Your precepts; so shall I meditate on Your wonderful works. My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word. Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me Your law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me. I cling to Your testimonies; O LORD, do not put me to shame! I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart.
Distinguishing Doing from Being
Whose opinion of you do you value most? List some of those people. Alongside each one, list an opinion that he or she holds of you.
Isn't it amazing that we turn to others who have a perspective as limited and darkened as our own to discover our worth! Rather than relying on God's steady, uplifting reassurance of who we are, we depend on others who base our worth on our ability to meet their standards. Because our performance and ability to please others so dominates our search for significance, we have difficulty recognizing the distinction between our real identity and the way we behave, a realization crucial to understanding our true worth. Our true value is not based on our behavior or the approval of others but on what God's Word says is true of us.
If we base our worth solidly on the truths of God's Word, then our behavior will often reflect His love, grace, and power. But if we base our worth on our abilities or the fickle approval of others, then our behavior will reflect the insecurity, fear, and anger that come from such instability.
As you see it right now, what does God think of you-what's His opinion?
Consider your recent interactions with people, in particular those that caused you to feel insecure, afraid, or angry. Did your reactions (in those exchanges) indicate that you were secure in your value in God's eyes? If not, what did your reactions reveal?
Our society tends to define a person by his or her vocation. When we meet someone new, we don't ask, "Who are you really?" (That might be scary!) Instead, we harmlessly ask, "What do you do?" In conversations, what do you usually say to describe yourself that makes you feel best about yourself- that makes you feel like you matter?
Why is it difficult to give up false beliefs about ourselves? What will it take for you to submit to God's opinion of you and give up those false beliefs?
TALK TO GOD
Lord, I confess that in many ways I have believed my own heart and the approval of my friends and family to be more trustworthy than Your Word. That is the human condition. Forgive me for not trusting Your love and strength. Forgive me for submitting to the approval of other people when I already have Your fatherly approval. Help me today to live according to Your unconditional approval of me and not by the approval of others. Amen.
- Day 7 -
WHO BALANCES YOUR BOOKS?
For it pleased the Father that in [Jesus] all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight-if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Understanding God's Acceptance
Think about when you have felt rejected by coworkers, friends, or even family. How did you feel? How do you tend to react to rejection mentally? Emotionally? Physically?
God's solution to the fear of rejection is based on Christ's sacrificial payment for our sins. Through this payment, we find forgiveness, reconciliation, and total acceptance through Christ. Reconciliation means that those who were enemies have become friends.
God took our sins and canceled them by nailing them to Christ's cross. In this way, God also took away Satan's power to condemn us for sin. So you see, nothing you will ever do can nullify your reconciliation and make you unacceptable to God. Our unconditional acceptance in Christ is profound, life-changing truth.
God has taken away Satan's power to condemn us for sin. Think about your sins and missteps over the last several days, and the times that you fell short in meeting God's standard. When did you give in to condemnation? Why?
According to Colossians 1:19-23, God has reconciled you through Jesus "to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight." What does this truth mean to you?
On a typical day-let's take yesterday-in what kinds of circumstances do you tend to forget that you are completely forgiven? What do you think would help you remember your true status before God?
Christ's sacrifice is all about giving you access to God. God is all about having a relationship with those He created. God chose you into being. Think about that for a moment. What meaning does that bring to your existence?
TALK TO GOD
Father, You paid the price for my freedom and total acceptance as Your child. You paid off my debts. What a gift! But life has a way of conspiring against my acceptance of that gift. Help me to live in the truth. Give me the strength of spirit and the trust to live today as a grateful child of God. Help me to live so that my family, friends, and coworkers see evidence of this truth in me. Amen.
Excerpted from THE SEARCH FOR SIGNIFICANCE DEVOTIONAL JOURNAL by Robert S. McGee Copyright © 2007 by Robert S. McGee. Excerpted by permission.
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