I recently came across a transcript of a sermon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached during September 1956 in Birmingham, AL. King was 27. The Stanford University archive where I found his material says the Birmingham bus boycott had been going on for about 10 months. Pressure was beginning to mount. Critics charged that King was asking for too much and stirring up unnecessary trouble. Blacks believed that white people would never change and that the inherent racism in the state’s laws would perpetually remain in place. It would probably be easier to, …just give up

King appealed on his listeners to draw from their resources of strength and hope. He says, “And we can cry out to the nation, ‘We can do it because we know that as we walk, God walks with us.’” For King, there was no other choice but to reject the critics’ beliefs as untrue. Instead of limiting himself to what the majority believed, he chose to govern his life by the liberating truths that said change was possible, the time was urgent, and his people could experience a better future.

While not yet complete, King’s vision has moved toward reality in our nation. Our country has certainly been blessed because of his resolve and courage. This would have never come about had King limited himself to the idea that things could never change.

What thoughts do you have that are holding you back? What challenges do you face in life that you have or are about to give up on, thinking your situation will never change? How often do you tell yourself that you’re just different — that hardly anything ever works out right for you — while everyone else continually enjoys success? Do you ever think that your circumstances will prevent you from making real, lasting improvement? In many cases, our self-talk simply reinforces outright lies or half-truths about who we are and what we can do.

Who will you listen to: God or your own self-talk?

What you think matters. How you look at the world, others, and yourself is vitally important. For as one thinks within himself, so he is, Proverbs 23.7. Christians enjoy a great blessing in that they have been recreated, 2 Corinthians 5.17. You have a new identity, Romans 8.16. And you are an active participant in the process of allowing God to transform your mind, Romans 12.2, through the word of God, Colossians 3.16. Now, you live with power … the same power that raised Jesus from the dead resides within you and is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that (you) ask or think, Ephesians 3.20. 

This is the liberating truth that God has created for you. Listen to it, repeat it to yourself often, and live by it. When you do, you’ll not only be a blessing to yourself, but others as well. He who believes in Me, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water, John 7.38.

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