Scripture: 1 Peter 2:9, Genesis 1:26-27, Luke 15:1-32
Date: 02/26/2011 
Lesson: 9
In a world that seems intent on breaking down self-esteem, God offers a perspective of human value that can help to overcome this problem.
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath. Welcome to Sacramento "study hour" this morning, right here in Sacramento, California at central Seventh-day Adventist Church. A very special welcome to those that are joining us this morning in the sanctuary and again a special welcome to those of you that are joining us from across the country and around the world faithfully like you do every Sabbath, live on the internet streaming this morning, television, radio, however you're joining us. I know that you will truly be blessed this morning. Our first hymn this morning that we're going to sing is hymn number 10, "come, Christians, join to sing.

" This comes from angenika, veronica, angel and jasmine in the bahamas, dimitri in the british virgin islands, francis and bernadette in grenada, bob and Paula in Idaho, pearl in india, molly in Iowa, David, dave, orville, shellaine and syian in jamaica, jerrydith in the Philippines, walter in trinidad tobago-- oh, walter was from south korea, sorry--dana in trinidad tobago, kaylia, sherace and margaret in the united kingdom, and Daniel in venezuela. Hymn number 10, "come, Christians--" sing-- "join to sing." And we will sing all 3 verses. [Music] If you have a special hymn that you would like to sing with us on a coming Sabbath, go to our website at And you can click on the "contact us" link. And there you can request any hymn in the hymnal that you would like to sing with us on a coming Sabbath and we would love to sing that with you.

And this morning you have picked a new hymn that I have never heard of before. Hymn number 440 is our next song. So we sat and learned it this morning, anthony and i. "How cheering is the Christian's hope." This comes as a request from ralph in Alaska, carson in antigua and barbuda, caroline in australia, birdie, ralph, carmetta, marcel and rose in the bahamas, pedro in barbados, celeta in Delaware, kabelo in florida, linda, sharon, wilfred and Karen in grenada, earle in Maine, arlene, gershwin, Paul and ella in New York, patricia in saint kitts and nevis, joyce, vernessa, shovon in saint lucia, akeem, avril, dwayne, ganelle and henry in trinidad tobago, lourdes in the u.s. Virgin islands and sharon in Washington.

Hymn number 440, and we'll sing all 3 verses. [Music] Let's pray. Lord, we are longing for that day when we will reach that blissful home. And we will spend eternity with you, praising you and adoring you because you have saved us. But Lord, we're not going to start then.

We're going to start now. And we just thank you this morning on your holy day that we can come before you and worship and honor you. Please be with Pastor Doug as he brings us your message this morning of hope, Lord. Please help us to take the words that we hear to those around us that we meet every day and that we can hasten your coming. Lord, we're looking forward to that day.

And we just thank you and praise you that you have saved us. We pray these things in your name, Jesus. Amen. Our message will be brought to us this morning by Pastor Doug Batchelor. And he's the senior pastor here at Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Good morning. And thank you jolyne and anthony, our musicians. And want to welcome everybody who's part of our regular class, and especially all of our visitors today to Sacramento central. Those who are watching, welcome to you as well. It's always encouraging to hear the requests coming from the four corners of the earth.

Now our earth isn't square, but that means north, south, east and west. As you can tell today we have a gauntlet of instruments around us. It's because Sacramento central church today is happy to host the Sacramento adventist academy. And they're going to be bringing music to us later in our service today. For those who are joining us, we always have a free offer that we hope will enhance your Bible study.

And it's the book, "steps to Christ." If you have not read that book and you do not have a copy, we will send you one. Just call this number, 866-study-more, 866-788-3966. And I just might mention at this point, the entire central church, as well as the Batchelor family, we have been encouraging everybody for the first part of 2011 to read the book, "steps to Christ." And we know you'll find a tremendous blessing from doing that. Going through our quarterly dealing with the subject of the Bible and human emotions, called, "Jesus wept: the Bible and human emotions." And today we're on lesson number 9. And we have a memory verse.

Now the lesson has a number of different sections we're considering. The memory verse is from 1 Peter 2:9. And I'll be reading this to you from the new king James version. 1 Peter 2:9, I always hope you'll say it with me. Are you ready? "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

" This is one of my favorite verses. Sometimes I go from place to place and I'll occasionally share my testimony. And when I do that, this is the one verse I read is talking about the one proclaiming the praises of the one who brought us out of darkness into his marvelous light. And it goes on and says, "but you are a chosen generation, royal priesthood, holy nation, special people." Well, you'd think that would give a person a little bit of self-esteem to recognize our value with God. Now as we talk about the Bible and human emotions and especially this lesson here dealing with self-esteem, there's a balance here.

And I'm not claiming that I've got the perfect place to pinpoint the fulcrum between self-esteem, appropriate, right, self-esteem, understanding your value, and humility, and then the unhealthy pride or thinking too much of yourself. I think all of us recognize that there's a place where you need to put that pivot. God wants us to understand something of our worth to him. And then we've all met people who think they're worth more than they are. They have a pretty high estimate of themselves, and that's unhealthy and we usually don't enjoy being around that crowd.

So what is the right place? How do we value ourselves so that we have a biblical concept of healthy self-esteem? You know, in that great commandment, "you should love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength. And love your neighbor as you love yourself." So it's almost understood there in that commandment that you should have a certain amount of self-love. Now if you were to identify a person and say, "that person really loves themself, that wouldn't be taken as a compliment, would it?" But if you don't have a certain amount of self-respect, a desire to care for yourself because you love your neighbor and you love God first, that is the best reason to care for yourself, because of the value God puts on you and because of the way you want to witness to and help your neighbor. You need to take care of yourself. You need to care for yourself.

You need to understand something of your self-worth. Hard to convince other people how valuable they are to God if you don't demonstrate that you recognize that value in yourself. Is that making sense so far? This is just how I've kind of grappled with that in my own mind. And so God wants us to have that right balance. Now in our first section, we're talking about--oh wait, before I go there.

A lot of people have diminished self-esteem. And they have a very low estimate of themself. They're constantly feeling guilty. And that's understandable, because--especially with media today and the special effects. And you got cameras.

And the cameras tend to focus on a few very beautiful, very-- you know, most of us are sort of average, right? But the cameras, you know, they do that search, like ahasuerus in persia, for the most beautiful girls in the Kingdom, or beautiful guys in the Kingdom. And they'll take these, you know, virtual models that are ready to run for mr. And mrs. America. And they put the makeup on, and they screen the camera lens.

And they get the lighting just right. And they dress in the most expensive threads. And the people with this very high, you know, i.q. And they parade them across the stage. And we all sit and look and go, "well, I guess I'm not very good-looking.

I guess I'm not very talented. I can't sing like that. I can't look like that. I'm not that fast or strong or smart." And you then broadcast that to the millions of the masses. And you can get a lot of people thinking they're not very good because by comparison with the best of the best and the most beautiful and the brightest, we start to feel a little insecure.

But the fact is that those people are pretty rare, and they are special effects and lighting. And they've been staged and prepped a little bit. And a lot of these reality shows are anything but real. There's a whole lot of coaching that goes on in the background. And so a lot of people are left feeling, "I guess I'm pretty homely.

I'm not very smart. I'm not very beautiful." It's like the guy that comes to church, wealthy church member, he's got his wealthy wife. And she always comes to church. And one guy elbows his friend in the pew, and he says, "that guy's wife always looks like a million dollars." And his wise friend responds, "yes, and it costs him a million dollars a year to keep her looking that way." So some people are able to do that because of, you know, they've got the best tailors and cosmetic surgeons. And so leaves everybody else feeling, "I guess I'm just not beautiful enough.

" And so a lot of people struggle with low self-esteem. And you know, there's an epidemic of depression that's out there. A lot of people are depressed. And one reason for that depression is they just don't think they're worth very much. A lot of people struggle with thoughts of suicide, because they don't feel like they're loved.

"Nobody loves me. I'm not lovable." And so, and some of that comes from not knowing their origins. Now that leads me into section number one. I'm going to read Genesis 1:26, talking about our origins, giving us some self-esteem. Where did we come from? "Then God said, 'let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air--'" so they're given authority-- "and over the cattle, and over all the earth and every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.

" So should man have a certain amount of appropriate self-esteem based on their value to God? Whose image are we made in? The image of--what image could be more sublime than the image of God? Nothing. And you think about what a privilege it is. And then dominion is given. There's an authority that is given to man. Alright, John, I want you to go ahead and read psalm 8:5.

"For you have made him a little lower than the angels. And you have crowned him with glory and honor." You know, it definitely has an influence on our self-esteem to understand where we came from. Now just think about the two great paradigms that are out there in the world today. One paradigm says, "you are made by God, and you are made patterned after God in the image of God." Somebody asked me this week, "Pastor Doug, does God have a form, a body, hands and head?" I said, "I think so." "How do you know?" I said, "well, 'cause we're made in his image and we do." I think that's reason to believe it. And man is not made in the image of a goat or these other creatures.

A man is unique. And in the creation story, God reserves the greatest part of his creation for the final act, the crescendo of his creation was man and then woman. And so humans were made in his image. And they were given this divine authority and dominion over the planet. Now look at that paradigm that would give you a sense of purpose, that would give you a sense of dignity.

The greatest authority in the universe specifically fashioned man in his own image as a child. Adam is called the "Son of God." He doesn't call the goats and the snakes The Sons of God; they're creatures. Man is The Son of God. Take that paradigm. And then you have this other paradigm.

Man has just by a series of accidents managed to through intelligence and brute force survive for millions of years and evolve. But we are really nothing more than animals. Life is nothing more than a series of biological spasms and little bit of luck. And when you die you will turn back into fertilizer. And that is your life.

You're here to experience this strange thing called life. A certain time, you've got 50 or 60 years of self-awareness. I say that, 'cause you usually don't have it 'til you're about 3, and you start to lose it after 50. But so you got these few years of, you know, "here I am. I'm aware," you know.

And then you die, and you turn back into dirt. And that's your purpose in life. And people are not happy, most of the time people are striving for happiness. And so what is the purpose of life? Is it any wonder that with that paradigm a lot of people commit suicide? And it shouldn't surprise us that the largest group that commits suicide are teenagers who are asking those big questions, "who am i? What is the purpose of life?" And they want so much to be loved and accepted. And they think there's no purpose to life.

I'm going to turn back into fertilizer. My friends don't like me. They're having all these hormone ups and downs. And they say, "what's the point? There's no point." Does it matter to understand our origins? Understanding the right origins, will it give you a different purpose? Now one reason this is very close to my heart is because I came from that background. I was raised believing passionately in evolution.

And as a result of that, I thought there was no purpose in life. And for me when I began to read the Bible and when it said, "God created man in his own image," I said, "no. How can all these people be wrong? How can all these educated people be wrong?" I mean it's in every nature program in national geographic, that over millions and millions of years we've slowly evolved from lower forms of life. And men are really just worms higher up on the scale. And I struggled with that.

But you know, when it finally occurred to me, how illogical and unscientific, not to mention unbiblical evolution was, and I realized man really was made in the image of God. That totally changed my thinking about the purpose of life. That does something to increase your sense of your value exponentially. I've got another verse, psalm 100:3. "Know that the Lord, he is God; it is he who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

" Made in the image of God. You know, it really is a revolutionary thought for people if they're raised believing in evolution to then suddenly realize that you're made in the image of God. You've probably heard me allude to this before, but when I was a young man I remember reading this story about a family of missionaries in the deep, dark, jungles of africa, husband, wife. And she had actually just had a baby. They had a little baby.

And they were both taken with some malarial fever and died. And the baby was left alive in their jungle cabin. And a female gorilla finally was brave enough to explore the abandoned cabin, 'cause she heard the baby crying. Well, this female gorilla had just lost her own baby. So she was pining for her baby.

She saw this human baby. She took up the human baby, began to suckle the baby. It survived and it grew up into a human. True story called "tarzan," edgar rice burroughs. Now, that is a fictitious story, but you know edgar rice burroughs wrote his classic based on some true stories from history and even more modern stories of feral children, children who they found out in the wild that somehow who had been cared for by some wild animals, in two or three cases in history, wolves; one case, monkeys.

And then were rescued and they then discovered that they weren't dogs or monkeys, but they were humans. Some of you know the story of romulus and remus. They used to think it was totally a legend of these two twin brothers, romulus and remus, that were cast out into the woods by their parents because they didn't expect twins or something and then reared by wolves and rescued by a farmer or a shepherd and raised. And they founded rome 700 years b.c. If you ever go to rome, you'll see these two infants underneath a wolf.

And people thought that was a legend. And then they found a girl in india being suckled by a wild dog. They found a wild child in lacombe, France, they actually captured. And he was developmentally impaired, but they did try to tame him and civilize him. He ran around kind of on all fours.

And can you imagine thinking you're a dog and then finding out you're a human? Or thinking you're a monkey. Missionaries in africa found a boy that had somehow been abandoned. And green monkeys were caring for it, bringing it food. Strange things happen. I saw this week where on youtube, they had a cat that was nursing baby squirrels.

I mean, you know, I don't have a problem thinking that those stories have some element of truth to 'em. But what I'm getting at is can you imagine being tarzan, thinking all your life that you're a monkey and then finding out you're a human. That's how I felt, 'cause I had been told all through my youth, "you're just an animal." And it affected my whole worldview, my plans. Because you don't think there's any eternity. You think you die.

You live a totally selfish existence. Get all you can, 'cause you're going to die. It's all about you. You're just lucky that you evolved and you happen to be alive. And the idea that God created you in his own image for his glory to love God and love your fellow man is a whole different paradigm.

That also does something for your self-esteem, realizing that God made you. "Behold what manner of love The Father's bestowed on us that we should be called sons of God." Now there are some, and you know, I don't want to be unkind. But I think it's a dishonest for people to say you can reconcile the Bible and millions of years of creation. I don't see how you can reconcile that man slowly evolved from lower forms of life and there were millions of years of death and killing before the sin of man. The Bible says the death and the dying and the disease all came as a result of man's sin.

So how can you have dinosaurs tearing each other apart, and all this death and dying going on in this perfect world that God's created. Man hasn't sinned yet. He hasn't evolved yet. But you know, the pope says, "oh sure, evolution is a plausible--we don't know exactly where it was when God gave a soul to these monkeys that were turning into humans." I can't buy that. First of all, if you believe the words of Jesus you can't buy that.

If you believe the first 11 chapters of the Bible you can't buy that. Here's the words of Christ. Mark 10, you can find several references. Mark 10:6, Jesus, red-letter, "but from the beginning of the creation," not the evolution, "God made them male and female." They did not evolve. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.

" Jesus is now quoting Moses verbatim, the creation story. "And the two will become one flesh, so they are no longer two but one flesh." The Bible is very clear about creation. And by the way, one of the messages--how someone can be a Seventh-day Adventist and say they believe in evolution is to me an enigma, because part of the three-angel's message there in Revelation 14 is we are to proclaim to people that they should direct their attention towards the creator who in six days made the heaven and the earth and the seas and the fountains of water. And so that's part of that message that is to go to the world. It's the antithesis of evolution.

And so it's just totally irreconcilable. And you know what? It's just not scientific-- I'm sorry--or logical. Somebody said one time--i know I'm spending a lot of time on this, but I think a lot of people's self-esteem struggles because of this point. To me it is just not logical that you can get organization and design from chaos. It doesn't matter how many millions of years of chaos you've got.

It's not going to produce organization. You're going through a trail off in the desert, and you see four rocks stacked on top of themselves, you'd say, "somebody's been here." Right? And what if you're going off through the desert and you found a honda motorcycle, would you think it oozed up out of the rock? Would anyone ever convince you of that. You'd say, "no, there had to be an intelligent, sophisticated creator to make that honda motorcycle. And then suppose you ran upon a most expensive bmw or mercedes, more complex, the more intelligence you'd attribute to that somebody had been through that desert, right? What is more complicated, a human being with all the interworking systems or a motorcycle or a lawnmower? If you saw a roller skate in the desert, you'd think some intelligence was there. Right? So how can intelligent people look around and see human beings, these incredibly miraculous, sophisticated, complex organisms with all these systems, and say, "billions of years, just happened.

Look, all these different chemicals collided and, voila! Just get enough time in from rocks, this is what you get." Right? "The earth was water, rocks and elements. And look around you now. Isn't it amazing?" You know I watch some wonderful nature programs. And some of you have probably seen David attenborough. He's done a number of nature programs on everything from birds to insects to mammals to the sea.

And he always says, "isn't this incredible? Isn't this amazing? What a wonder! What a mystery how nature did this!" And really it's code for God. But they can't say God, so they say mother nature is so wonderful. Mother nature evidently has an intelligence all her own. But they can't say God. They say it just happened.

But that whole concept-- you know, I sort of have my own theory. You've probably heard about the alpha of deception. And there's an omega of deception. And I think the omega of deception that comes into the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the last days is that people begin to embrace the teaching of evolution. The omega was pantheism.

That we could believe--and again friends, I'm not trying to insult anybody that may believe this. I'm just trying to tell you I used to. And I just got to where I could not see that it was scientific. "Oh but Pastor Doug, how could so many educated people--" do you know that's exactly what they said before they crucified Jesus. They said, "but the scribes and the pharisees, where did this man get this learning? How could he know these things?" "Oh, it's all the ignorant that follow Jesus.

" That's exactly what they said. These people are cursed. They're unlearned. They're uneducated. They don't know what they're thinking.

And they crucified Jesus. And so be careful. Even intelligent people will declare that one race is not sophisticated enough and begin to try to exterminate them. Now I'm married to a german girl and I'm part german, so I don't want to be unkind. But the nazi's were extremely intelligent, very sophisticated.

Their airplanes were knocking the british and the American airplanes out of the sky for the first half of the war because they were such good engineers, highly educated. Great scientists. Matter of fact, we built the atomic bomb because we kidnapped their scientists. We didn't kidnap 'em. We recruited them.

Educated. But here you had a nation that had a philosophy that some people were not as highly evolved as other people and they should be exterminated. Isn't that right? So just because you tell a lie often enough. And the lie of evolution has been told so often. You know, if there is a conspiracy--i don't believe in conspiracies typically.

I laugh at those that, you know, are always chasing after the illuminati and they got jesuits hiding behind every bush. I don't laugh at 'em, but I think it's a strange distraction. But there is a conspiracy out there that's right in our faces. You know what it is? It's the conspiracy that we have all evolved. It has infiltrated just every corner of publication and media because the devil by telling us that--think about it.

God says that immorality is a sin. You are made in the image of God and we are to live holy lives. But if you're just an animal, then you've got an excuse for acting like an animal. If you're just an animal, then immorality doesn't matter. And I forget what I've said before, but something I'll never forget is I went to a school, boarding school.

And we had a science teacher. His wife was pregnant. And one day she was off in the cafeteria sobbing and drying her eyes. And we were trying to figure out what the problem was. And she said, "well, my husband--" she named him-- was at that very moment having an affair with another teacher at the school who was another science teacher.

And his rationale was, "this is perfectly normal for humans because we have evolved from gorillas and not all chimpanzees are monogamous and this is, you know, we're animals and so what's wrong?" And that was his rationale. And he was science, educated guy, having an affair in front of his wife, excusing it with evolution. If we have all evolved, and this is all a biological accident, and we're all animals, then we don't have to give an account to God. And I think, you know what the conspiracy is? Delete God from the equation of our lives where we don't have to answer to him for our conduct. And so there are a lot of evil people in the world that are highly motivated to develop some scheme, some philosophy that takes God out of the picture.

Well, at the same time, what it does is it gives us a pretty low self-esteem, that we're just animals. Does this make sense. I know this is pretty strong stuff, friends. But it's what I believe. And you may disagree with me, and I can love and respect you, but I used to believe it.

And I saw what that mindset did to my life, and it made me an animal. And you know what I guess angers me about it? Can you tell I get upset? It's being taught to our young people. And it's wrecking them. It wrecks their purpose for life. It wrecks their philosophy.

It wrecks their self-esteem. You've got to know we are made in the image of God. And that we have a noble purpose, that we have a very high calling. So yes, it does matter what we believe. Hebrews 4:3-4, again, another new testament reference, "although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

For he has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise: 'and God rested on the seventh day from his works.'" Earth was made in six literal days, seven if you include the Sabbath. I think he made one more day for our love relationship. Let me give you another verse, acts 17:24. This is in your lesson. "For God who made the world and everything in it," since the Lord is heaven-- "since he is Lord of heaven and earth and does not dwell in temples made with hands.

Nor is he worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, he's made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the face of the earth, and he has determined their preappointed times and their boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us; for in him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'for we are his offspring.'" God has made us of one blood. Jesus basically gave the human race a transfusion when he died on the cross of his blood. We've all got that disease. And you realize you cannot give rabbit blood to a human. You can breed rabbits with rabbits and cats with cats.

You can cross a donkey and a zebra and get a zonkey. You can cross a lion and a tiger and you get a liger. It's true. You can cross a whale and a dolphin and get a wholphin. They've got all these crosses, but you know what? They're within their kind.

And it doesn't matter if you are chinese or australian or european. If I get hit by a car and you've got o-positive, I can use your blood. God has made of one blood all nations. If you are a squirrel it's not going to work. You know what I'm saying? So Jesus, God, became one of us to save us.

We're made in his image. Alright, enough about that. We better go on to our other section, "self perceptions," self perceptions. Luke 6:41 and verse 43, talking about judging, "and why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye but you do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself don't see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite, first remove the plank from your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." That's something that often messes up our perception is just the selfishness in our nature obscures our clarity. Isn't it often easier to see what's wrong with everybody around us? And not to be able to have perspective and to see through another person's eyes.

And that can affect our self-esteem. He that compares himself by others can always find people who are better off or worse off and it can skew your self-perception and your self-image. Matthew 22:39, Jesus talking about the great commandments, we already quoted this, he says, "and the second is like it: 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" How many agree that you should love your neighbor? Do you all agree with that? How many agree you should love yourself, almost as many hands. That's good. You know, you've got to have a certain amount of self-love to scrub your teeth and comb your hair and take care of yourself before you go off in the day.

And you know, pick up the cans in the front yard. You gotta have a certain amount of self-respect. You gotta wash your car once every six months whether it needs it or not. A car doesn't really run any better if it's got mud on the outside, but you, you know. It says something.

Romans 12:3. Now why we ought to have a humble attitude and not think we're better than others. Someone read this for me. I've taken up all the Scriptures. Someone read Romans 12:3.

"For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." Now Paul could have stopped that with a period. He could have said, "not to think of himself." Period. He didn't say that, did he? Is it okay to think of yourself? And should you have an appropriate concept of, you know, what your gifts and talents are and what they're not. Have we all met people that don't know where to draw the line? And I think we've all met people before that said, "I want to do special music." And then it's really special when they do it. And they're sure they can sing.

But they're the only ones that are sure. The only one who ever complimented my singing had to turn up his hearing aid after the service. So you need to have a right balance. But you know, you want to be humble, but then you also want to be honest. So if Michael Jordan should be asked, "can you play basketball?" And he were to say, "well, I'm not very good.

" Is that humility or is that dishonesty? It's dishonesty. Would it be considered proud if he said, "I'm actually pretty good." No, because it's true. So he's not thinking of himself more highly than he ought to think. But if you're going to err regarding your abilities, err on the side of being self-effacing and humble. Nothing worse than thinking too much of yourself.

You're better off thinking a little less. Jesus said, "when you go to a feast, take the lower seat and tell someone else, 'no, you actually deserve a higher seat.'" But you take a higher seat, you think that you're going to play the first fiddle and the conductor says, "no, you're not first fiddle; you're tenth fiddle." So you know what I'm saying? You're better off having that balance. I remember reading this story from history. It's kind of humorous. It's true.

And I've shared this before about Joshua abram norton. I don't know if you've heard about this guy. He lived in san francisco. Oh, he was especially famous in the 1880s. He preferred to be called "his imperial majesty norton i.

" He had come from south africa during the civil war. He was off in the east coast. No one's exactly sure what happened to him. But when he got to the west coast, somehow he fabricated a couple of uniforms and made himself this fancy regalia uniform he'd wear around san francisco. And he introduced everybody to himself that he was "emperor his imperial majesty norton.

" They called him the emperor of the United States. He lost a fortune in some poor business transaction and they think he became mentally imbalanced. "From 1859, norton began to boldly proclaim himself the emperor of the United States. Many people found it entertaining to play along with his delusion. Although he was a pauper, he fed in san francisco's best restaurants for free.

And even though he was generally considered insane or at least highly eccentric, san francisco's newspapers published all of his state proclamations. And the citizens of san francisco and the world at large in the mid 19th century celebrated his peculiar presence and his humor and his deeds. Among the most notorious, he commanded that u.s. Congress be dissolved by force. And he decreed for a bridge to be built across san francisco bay.

" Which of course that one was finally done. It's called the golden gate bridge. But he would parade up and down the streets giving orders and everyone just laughed and they thought it was very interesting. But he went around thinking he was the emperor of the United States issuing proclamations. He was living in a delusion, 'cause he didn't know who he really was.

Now does God describe a group of people in the last days who don't have a healthy understanding of who they are? What's the last age of the church called in Revelation 3? Laodicea. What is the principle problem with laodicea? They think too highly of themselves. They think they're rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing and they don't know that they're poor and wretched and miserable and blind and naked. They've got a skewed concept of themselves. Now then you've got the other extreme.

Some people think too highly of themselves like Joshua norton. And then you've got the ones that the devil basically has hijacked their identity. How many of you have heard all these ads now on the different companies that will help protect your identity? Just curious, don't be embarrassed. Have any of you had anybody now steal a credit card or credit card number or charges have came in that somebody got a hold of your number? Yeah, that looks like about 25%-30% of the group. We have, happened just not too long ago.

I stopped at an airport and somebody swiped my card. And they had one of those old machines. And I saw them turn around, read the number. And I made a mental note, and I said, "ah, I didn't like the way they looked at that." You know, they say it takes one to know one. I used to be one.

And sure enough Karen said, "doug, we're getting charges from New York city. Did you buy some electronics in New York city?" And all these charges began to come in. And they had sold the number to some of the russian mafia here in town, if you want to know the truth. They sold the number. And they do this they told us pretty commonly to some people in New York.

And they were just really living it up with my name. And it kind of angers you when someone does that. You want to then gravitate and to become a stalker and find them. But yeah, I wish I could have had the sunglasses they bought for $150, stuff like that. It's kind of unnerving when someone steals your identity.

But do you know, the devil has, to some extent, stolen the identity of God's people. When the children of Israel were in Egypt and they had been slaves for oh at least 200 years, they began to think like slaves. You know what prison recidivism is? It's a period of time where prisoners are released and they often go back to crime again, and they're rearrested and I think that in some cases it's as many as 50% within 2 years are back in prison. It's terrible. And they say one reason for that is they keep thinking like criminals.

They keep thinking like prisoners and they can't break out of that mindset that now you're free and you're to act like a law-abiding citizen. It's a whole different state of mind. When God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and he told him to take over the promised land, they were so used to thinking like slaves and prisoners that they couldn't get out of the mindset of thinking that way. And when the spies went in to look at the promised land, ten of them came back and they said, "oh, we're just grasshoppers. We could never conquer them.

They're so big." And they're still thinking like slaves. Now does that happen to God's people? When God forgives our sins and saves us from sin, says, "I've given you a new identity. I've given you victory. You are a child of mine. Act like a child of the King.

" We keep acting like slaves. You know there's a lot of stories in the Bible of God taking people in one day from the prison to the palace. Name some of 'em with me. Joseph, one day from the prison to the palace. Who else? Moses went from being a slave to the palace in one day, correct.

Daniel went from being at least a captive to being prime minister in one day. Esther, I was waiting for that. She went from the status of being a captive to being queen. But that didn't happen in one day, but it happened pretty quick. Manasseh went from prison.

You remember he was arrested, put in prison, he prayed, he went back to the palace. Jehoiachin, you read in the last chapter of Jeremiah, he went from the prison rags to eating at the King's table. A number of stories in the Bible of this radical transition of going from prisoner to palatial living. What happens when we accept Christ? Don't we go from being a captive of the devil, a slave, to being a child of the King? In one day. Now some people like the wording, but they don't live like their new status.

It should influence how we live. Does that make sense? Alright, "what God sees." Oh, wait a second here. Someone read for me Galatians 3:28, talking about that status. Mike, you got that? Let's get a microphone over here. "There is neither jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you all are all one in Christ Jesus.

" Once we accept Jesus, don't we all then have freedom and complete access to God? Does God give a little more attention to one than another, or can everybody approach him boldly? Do we have to go through a priest? We have to go through mary or one of the saints to get to Jesus? Or through Christ we can all access him. In 1 Samuel 16:7, I think we gave that. Go ahead, right there. "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

'" You know, a lot of people try to compensate for what's in the heart by changing what's on the outside. And Jesus said if you're going to begin, begin where? You want to begin on the inside. If you're going to clean a cup and you can only clean the inside or outside before you use it, which one would you clean? You want to clean the outside so everyone thinks you're drinking out of a clean cup? Or would you rather know you're drinking out of a clean cup and let everyone think what they want? You know what I'm saying? So I'd rather know that the inside is clean. With the Lord, when you start with the inside, that's where he begins. It then makes changes on the outside.

But do we judge each other typically by what we see on the outside? Eh. I mean if you're going to buy a book, do you look at the cover? Sure. And you know, whenever we put out books, we put a lot of attention into trying to make the cover look good. Somebody did an experiment, John t. Molloy, wrote the book, "dress for success" in 1988.

He went by port authority bus station in New York city and he panhandled. And first he panhandled just wearing a jacket and a white shirt. And I think in an hour he ended up getting $7.23. He'd go to people and he's say, "you know, I lost my wallet and I have no bus fare home. Could I have 75 cents?" Then he added a tie.

Now I have no burden for ties, but I'm just telling you what the report says. Once he added the tie, he then made $26 an hour. One guy even gave him extra money, and said, "here why don't you also buy a paper, so you can read something on the way home." But they've done several, colleges have done, experiments with people who are panhandling. And if they are dressed--they've had professional actors that have gone out and they dress like a wall street executive. They'll go up to another wall street executive and say, "you know, I just don't know how to say this, but someone has picked my pocket.

And I don't have any taxi fare." And they'll hand 'em $20. But then you come up like a hobo, same actor, and say, "could I have 10 cents?" They wave 'em off. Do we look at the outside? Sure we do. I was in the supermarket this week. This happened this week.

I was thinking about this. I'd just come from the health club. And I'm wearing my shorts, sweaty t-shirt. I'd just been playing racquetball. I'm wearing one of those sweatshirts 'cause it was cold that day, with a hood on it, like a gang member, baseball cap.

And I still got my sunglasses on, 'cause I just came from the car. And I walk in the supermarket and this little girl is pushing her, I think it was her grandma's, shopping cart. And the purse is in the little pocket there in the shopping cart. And the little girl is kind of blocking my way, 'cause I'm trying to go down the aisle. And she walks up to check out the fruit loops.

And the grandma is somewhere else. And the grandma sees me walk by the shopping cart, and she says, "right there in front of me," she yells at her granddaughter, and says, "don't you ever leave the cart unattended like that when my purse is in it!" I was the only person in the aisle. And she really thought--and I thought to myself, "if I had come from church in my suit, would she had said that to her granddaughter? But because I looked like a thug, or maybe not that intimidating, but I looked creepy anyway. We look on the outside, don't we? But God looks on the heart. Having said that, should we care how the outside looks? We should because you represent Jesus.

You want to, you want to rightly represent him, but don't judge people. I always say you ought to live a life that people can look at. But don't you look. People are going to look. You can't help it.

So be a good witness, inside and out. But you as a Christian remember to think about the heart, 'cause that's what God is looking at. Alright, self-esteem. What have we got left here? Let's talk about--well, if you go to Luke 15, you've got three analogies there. And we don't have time to read all of this.

Someone read for me Luke 19:10. I think we got time for that. Who's got that one? Luke 19:10 says, "for The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Thank you. In all three of these illustrations, something is lost: lost sheep, lost coin, lost son. They're all precious.

When you've got the lost sheep, sheep might know it's lost, but it doesn't know how to get home. And that shepherd could have said, "well, I've got 99 other sheep. May as well stay home." But he doesn't; he thinks about the one that's missing. Wolves are going to get it. His heart is yearning for it.

He has to go pursue it. Then you've got a lost coin. It's lost and it doesn't know it's lost. Are there people in the world like that? They're valuable to God. They don't even know what their value is.

They're totally unaware. And here it's got a woman who lights a lamp--that's a type of the church you might say--gets a broom and scours the ground until she finds that which is precious. Then you've got the lost son. He knows where home is. He ultimately--he has to realize that he's lost and come to his senses and come back home.

But you know what? The Son in particular, he had to realize what had happened to his self-esteem that he had come to. He says, "what has happened to me? I started out living like a prince. I didn't appreciate it, and now I'm in a pig pen." And he comes to his senses. And sometimes with our self-esteem we got to realize, "my father has servants better off than I'm living. Why am I living like this.

I'm the child of the King, and I'm living with the pigs." And so you need to have that right recognition of what God's calling is for you. Well, there is a lot more to say, but I am out of time, friends. You know, I do want to remind you we have a free offer that we're making available to everybody, if you just call this number: 866-788-3966. We'll send you the book, "steps to Christ," wonderful classic book, translated in hundreds of languages. That'll be a blessing to you.

We're out of time for our study this week. God bless you until we can study again together our next lesson. Thank you for joining us for this broadcast. If you've missed any of our Amazing Facts programs, visit our website at There you'll find an archive of all our television and radio programs, including "Amazing Facts presents," "central study hour," "everlasting Gospel," "Bible answers live," and "wonders in the word.

" You'll also find a storehouse of biblical resources geared towards answering some of your most difficult questions. And our online Bible school is just a click away, one location, so many possibilities, [Music]

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