Where is Your Identity?

Where is your identity?

Most of us, as children, reflect the image  of our parents. The truth is, our spirits were made to reflect something, to become the image of something. As little babies and then children, our eyes watch what goes on around us. We learn to behave in certain ways, usually by watching those who are raising us. Our identity is in what our family name is, who our family is, what behavior they exhibit. Our inner image is based on the image of our parents. That’s why people can lose their way when their parents pass on. Who they are becomes a question mark in their hearts and minds. Identity is important. It defines a person. I remember the first time I ever saw my elderly grandfather very drunk. His weakness made me shake to the core. I was very dependent on him. He and my grandmother raised my brother and me, so my identity was built on who they were. It really upset me to see him in that state.

In Scripture, when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, we see a manifestation of the triune Godhead appearing….God the Father announced who Jesus was from Heaven. Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22  After that, Jesus was driven into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. It’s interesting to note that two of the three temptations He went through included a questioning of His identity. Twice the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God….

As believers, we too are bombarded daily by questions about our identity, although maybe not so blatant as that. They will usually be more subtle. The enemy is always seeking to place doubt within us about who we are.

The Scriptures say we are now “in Christ.” We are seated with Him in heavenly places. Scriptures clearly tells us where our identity now is. Our identity is in Christ. We are dead to the world. We have become “new creations” and the old is passed away. It is one thing to know it in our heads; it is quite another to believe in our hearts. Believing in our hearts is where we need to be established. The book of Colossians in the New Testament says to “establish ourselves in the love of Christ.” That means we are to come to KNOW, without any doubt, the love of Christ. When the bills pile up and the money isn’t there, we still KNOW and believe in the love of Christ. That becomes the anchor of our soul. When we are sick, we still KNOW and believe the love of Christ. When people gossip about us and spread lies about us, we still KNOW that Jesus loves us and all things are working for our good, according to Romans 8:28.

If Jesus had doubted the Word He heard his Father say over Him at His baptism, He could have lost the battle with the devil in the wilderness. And there’s no doubt he could have entertained the temptation, first to turn stones into bread after fasting for 40 days. Let’s face it, the guy was hungry! What would you do????

Then the devil took him up to the top of the temple and quoted Scripture to Him. That is a dirty trick. We need to be on guard for this too. The devil told Him to throw Himself down, that the angels would catch Him. What a twist on the Word of God.

The third time, the devil didn’t even bother to say, “If You are the Son of God,” he just went direct and tempted Him with the lust to be worshipped. Each temptation was met with the Word of God, a Scripture that Jesus used to shut him up. That is how we are to fight our own battles, just like Jesus did, using the Word of God, which is truth. That is the path to victory.

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According to the Pattern, Part 2

The longer I know and walk with God, the more I am convinced that God says nothing, and does nothing without a purpose or a reason. He doesn’t speak without a reason. Whenever He tells us something, there is a purpose and a reason for it. He doesn’t give words of knowledge out just so you can know a secret about someone else. He doesn’t give dreams without a reason. He does nothing that is wasted or is just meant to be gossip or a “prayer request.” God does not gossip. He is not vain. There is purpose in everything He says and does. He is trying to get something accomplished in the earth…and we get to be a part of it! He is trying to bring heaven to earth.

Remember Jesus said this: I only do what I see My Father doing and I only say what I hear my Father say. Jesus was keyed in to only doing and saying what he saw His Father do and say. That’s why Hebrews chapter 1 can say He is the express image of the Father. Jesus always had a purpose and reason behind everything he did.

So knowing this and believing this, I ask, why was God so adamant that Moses follow the plan for the wilderness tabernacle that He showed him on the mountain?

God could not have direct contact with mankind after Adam and Eve sinned. He is too holy and man is not holy. His presence would kill men, without an intermediary. But God longs for a family and He loves mankind, which to me seems obvious as I look at the great lengths He went to to make it possible for His presence to come and dwell in the tent.

In the New Testament time period in which we live now, we don’t need the tent. The intermediary has come in the person of Jesus Christ. When He died on the cross, the huge tent curtain keeping man AWAY from the presence in the tabernacle was torn from the top to the bottom. Angels had to do that because the curtain was very tall. Now the way is open in to the presence of God and all are welcome.

I am grateful for the obedience of those saints who have gone before me. Their lives are an example for me to follow. The scriptures say that these things were written as examples to us. We can learn from their mistakes and their faith.

Pray with me: Dear Jesus, Thank you for the faith of those who have gone before me and the record of their lives that instructs me how to live for You now. As I follow You, let my life, my actions and my words, also be a light for others, helping them to know You and love You.

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According to the Pattern, Part 1

Perry Stone is a prophetic teacher who looks for patterns in the bible. After listening to Perry teach this, I am convinced that God works in patterns and that we need to pay attention to that. Eccesiastes 1:9 seems to concur. “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

The first mention of patterns in the bible is in Exodus 25:9 where God said to Moses “According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.”

Exodus 25:40 “And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.”

Exodus 26:30 “And you shall raise up the tabernacle according to its pattern which you were shown on the mountain.”

In these two chapters, God repeats himself three times. I think it was important.

Numbers 8:4 uses the expression again, saying “Now this workmanship of the lampstand was hammered gold; from its shaft to its flowers it was hammered work. According to the pattern which the Lord had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand.”

So during the time that Moses spent on the mountain, God was showing him things. And He was most emphatic that Moses make sure that what he built on earth followed that pattern exactly. When Noah set out to build the ark that would eventually save mankind  and animals from total extinction, again, God was very specific about how to build it. (See Genesis 6-7) I am certain that Noah was probably a builder already, but most likely had never built anything as huge as the ark and, since there had not ever been a flood on the earth, had also had no experience with something that could withstand the enormous waters of the flood. He would need supernatural insight into this project.

The instructions for the tabernacle were different. The instructions Moses received were for building the place where God’s presence would actually DWELL with the Israelites as they traveled through the wilderness and beyond. It was to be built according to the pattern God had shown him on the mountain. The holy God would actually be able to dwell there without harming sinful man because of Moses’ obedience to these instructions.

Hebrews Chapter 8, verse 5 says the earthly priests “serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.'” So the earthly tabernacle with its priests are a “picture” of the heavenly things.

I believe the Old Testament paints a picture of the heavenly kingdom through the lives of the Old Testament saints, while the New Testament reveals the spiritual realities, revealing in plain English the message of God’s love and salvation extended to mankind. The Old Testament is called a type and shadow of the New Testament. Man could not actually be born again until Jesus came, but there were men in the Old Testament who had the Spirit upon them and could actually hear from God. In the New Testament, EVERY man can have the indwelling Holy Spirit (be a tabernacle) and hear from God for himself.

My husband and I have a large framed print of the wilderness tabernacle on our wall. It is a beautiful print showing the shekinah glory of God descending on the inner court of the wilderness taberncle. It speaks to me of how great God’s desire was and is to dwell with men. All of the effort that went into building this tent tabernacle, which would eventually be packed up and moved to the next camping spot and reassembled, speaks of this great desire, and the Israelites’ dependency on the tabernacle. It is a foreshadowing of the future when Jesus would come, and the same Holy Spirit of God would actually come inside the hearts of men instead of a tent.

I know this post has been long and I haven’t yet arrived at my premise, but I am attempting to lay a foundation through examples and scriptures for the idea that there are patterns in the Bible. This post will give you some things to ponder!  Look for Part 2 to come.

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What a Beautiful Name

Worship Jesus for all He has done and is doing for you!

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What manner of love is this?

Easter is almost here. I call it Resurrection Day. Easter is the world’s name for it. The church commemorates the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son and Savior of the world at this season. It is the most pronounced act of LOVE ever known. Has anyone else ever died for you?

Consider this song. It’s been out a long time, but the words say it all. Bet you’ll cry.

Amazing Love

“I’m forgiven because You were forsaken”

I’m accepted, You were condemned

And I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me

Because you died and rose again.

 

“Amazing love, how can it be

That You my King would die for me

Amazing love, I know it’s true

It’s my joy to honor You

In all I do, I honor You

Jesus, You are my King.

 

If that one doesn’t make you cry, try this one.

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The Band Aid Scripture

If you have been attending a church for any length of time, you may have noticed people getting “saved” over and over, accepting Jesus again and again. Why do they do this? I believe it is because they may fall away, go back to their old sinful ways, and then, doubting their salvation, they make their way back to the altar to do it all over again and again. (This is not to disparage a backslider’s true return-to-God trip to the altar.) But the reality may be, they are saved, but they sin and feel they aren’t saved. At least that is what the devil would tell them. I think they are in need of the “band aid scripture.”

What is the “band aid scripture” you ask? It is 1 John 1:9. The band aid scripture can save your life.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all sin.” John is writing to believers in this passage and giving them assurance that when they sin, forgiveness AND cleansing are always available. Jesus always takes you back after you mess up, simple as that. He does not discard us. We don’t have to keep going to the altar to “get saved” again. We are saved. Now we need to start believing His promises. This is one of them.

In my Christian journey, I found that the longest distance in the world was between my head and my heart. It is helpful to pray scriptures out loud. My heart hears my verbal confessions of the word of God and eventually my heart embraces the scriptures and agrees with them. I’m not sure why it works that way. There are scriptures that allude to it, such as “Be careful what you hear,” and scriptures about the power in spoken words. I believe that because we are made in the image of God, this establishes the power of spoken words in our lives too. When God spoke, He created. All mankind has this same power in their mouths. It’s a mind-boggling thought!

So feel free to use the band aid scripture every time you have (make) a “boo-boo.” Jesus thought of everything we would need.

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A Life of Surrender, Part 2

Many years ago, I became part of an organization called Al-Anon. The group is for families of alcoholics. The twelve step program offered by this organization is based on Christian principles. The program aims at helping people start to believe in God again and to have hope in their seemingly hopeless family situations. Through weekly (or more) meetings with others in like situations and accountability with a sponsor, many find help. Many Christian leaders deny the effectiveness of twelve step programs, but it is only their pride that says that.

I’m not going to go into a big long defense of 12 step programs, but I will say this: The Scriptures say that only the Father can draw people to the Son. “No one comes to the Father except through Me, Jesus said. And no one comes to Me except the Father draws him.” The principles of Al-Anon, along with the fellowship and mentoring provided for me there by a Christian woman, brought me to the Son!

What these Christian leaders fail to see is that God is using 12 Step programs to draw people to His Son! God can use anything, or, anyone (even a donkey) whenever He wants! There are things that the church misses as far as relationships and mentoring, that 12 step programs have provided.

At this point in time, I was just learning how to have a relationship with God. I journaled everything. One spiritual thing I learned was that if the same thing came by me twice, or happened to me twice, that was usually God trying to get my attention. The key to relationship with God is surrender. God is ALWAYS right. I found that I was most always wrong back in those days. My thinking was messed up. I wasn’t thinking at all along heavenly ways. In the group,the pain from the way I had been living drove me to get honest with myself and others. I learned to make a personal inventory, and make amends to those I had harmed. After some measure of freedom had been obtained, I learned to daily continue aiming to be the best, but making amends immediately if I needed to. It became possible to have some measure of peace and not be plagued by guilt. God meets you where you are.

But there was a deeper surrender coming. I wanted to be free of a sin that had dominated my life for many years. I needed the power of the cross of Jesus Christ to get there, and even then, it was a battle. But I won. Finally.

All praise goes to Jesus Christ. He paid the price on the cross so that I could have His power living in me that would set me free from all sin. In my mind, the greatest gift from God is our freedom from sin that is provided for by the death of Jesus. He overcame all sin and works of darkness FOR US. He rendered the devil’s lies impotent FOR US. All of it FOR US. If you haven’t experienced release from the burden of your sins (and you do have them, believe me!), you simply must come to Him and acknowledge your need. You have not LIVED until you have experienced freedom from sin!!! Only then can you begin to TRULY LIVE!

Oh, how He loves us!

Pray with me: Dear Jesus, I am not living the way I would like to. I need help. I want to have a clear conscience. I want to experience this freedom from sin that You paid for me to have. I surrender my life to You. From this day forward, I pledge to read Your Word so that I can learn who You are and how much You love me and what You have done for me. I believe that only You can restore my life. Thank You for all You have done. Fill me with Your Spirit every day. I want everything You have for me.

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