What I Do Is Not Who I Am

 

Genesis 1:26 (NIV), “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.””

We all have something that we do. I sew, crochet, and love to read. My husband is handy with any tool, can fix everything from cars to blenders. I write, he runs a splitter at a plastics factory. I have a friend who is a nurse and one who makes jewelry. These are all things we do. We also tend to have some bad habits like leaving the toilet seat up, putting off chores, watching too much TV, or spending too much time on the computer. All of these things I have mentioned, both good and bad, both helpful and harmful, are only things that we do. They are not who we are!

In the world we live in people frequently ask this question, “What do you do?” I am aware that they are referring to our line of work; however we have adopted the answer to this question as our identity. People say, “I am a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, a childcare provider, etc.” Then those same people have an identity crisis when it comes to knowing who they are. There has been some work in trying to get past this issue. You can watch people, especially cute little children, on YouTube saying things like, “I am strong,” “I am gifted,” “I am healthy,” and so on. All good things. What we think about ourselves is important. Yet, am I just that list of character traits? God has a call on each life. He has a purpose and a plan for them that will benefit their own lives and those around them. Some are called to be doctors, to take care of children, or to run a business. Those are specific calls. Before we can even begin to walk on that chosen path, we have to surrender ourselves to Him. Then, after we find ourselves (by acknowledging our need for Him as our Heavenly Father) then we begin this journey.

Each one of us also has a general call on our lives. It includes many aspects of being a child of God, but today I am focusing on this one.

“Our general, primary call is to be Christ like.”

Romans 8:29 (HCSB), “For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.

First, before anything else, we need to be like Him.

That’s who we are not something we do.

Then we go into the world, on our jobs, doing those things that we do, and we represent Him. We show the world what He looks like, how He loves them, and what it means to belong to the Family of God. We love, first each other, and then those who haven’t joined our family yet.

I John 4:17 (ISV), “This is how love has been perfected among us: we will have confidence on the day of judgment because, during our time in this world, we are just like him.”

His love is perfected, made perfect, in us during our time in this world. We can be confident! Of what? That we have been conformed to His image and that we are just like Him.

When we walk on this earth just like Jesus did, things happen. Lives are changed. Nations are humbled. Peter tells us what happens when we set our hope on the grace that came through the revelation of who Jesus is.

I Peter 1:13-22 (ESV), “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,”

Will we do everything right? Heck no. Does it matter? Not a bit.

Learn from your mistakes, stay humble (teachable), repent when needed, and move on. It will take the family of God to change the world. Jesus already gave us everything we needed to do this. Let’s get moving.

The Importance of Commitment

Hebrews 10:24-25 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works,  not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

Our human nature sure can be a pain. Even though my new nature in Christ is His nature, that old man sure tries to resurrect itself. I have been thinking about the importance of belonging and faithfully attending a local church. I love mine, hate to miss any service, and so whenever the doors are open, you will find me there. However, for a lot of people that just isn’t so. I don’t understand it frankly, except to chalk it up to that same human nature. We quite often find ourselves in a pickle or face to face with what seems to be a grand predicament, or maybe a whole set of problems all at one time. We find ourselves looking for a “specialist” who can set things straight. Now days we don’t have to even “let our fingers do the walking” through the yellow pages, all we have to do is grab our smart phones and do a quick search.

How many of us will run to a doctor, lawyer, therapist, psychologist, dietitians, financial advisor, or counselor? We expect them to fix or at least help us with our mountain (trouble). I expect that from the world, but why are God’s children going to the world first? Our senior pastor brings this point up quite often. We run here and there and when they can’t fix it, or we end up facing yet another issue days later, then we turn to God. How many time have we heard, or God forbid, said, “The only thing left to do is pray”? No, we should first pray! He is doctor, mentor, counselor, father, advisor, He knows us inside and out, He knows our problems, issues, weaknesses, and He knows exactly what we need, and when we need it.

Once we get stuck in the worlds ways of handling problems, we end up running to all of these appointments, setting our schedules around them. We wouldn’t miss one for any reason short of death! You know how hard it is to reschedule an appointment with a specialist. But, when was the last time you missed church? We will miss a service, a prayer meeting, or bible study for the smallest reasons. Did you stay up too late, the kids weren’t cooperating, the dog ran away, your favorite show is on, or just too tired, well then stay home. God understands… right?

I think that is so backwards. How do these worldly people with some fancy letters behind or in front of their name rate as more important than our brothers and sisters in Christ, or more able than God?

How easy is it to tell a doctor all your embarrassing bodily issues,  to tell a counselor all of your weird dreams or troubles, or talk about your financial mess to a financial advisor? How hard is it to go up and ask for prayer during a service, or to call a friend from church to confess your mess and ask for prayer? It shouldn’t be that way.

I remember a conversation with a family (relative) member about sharing something with my pastors and their reply was, “you told your pastors that!” I answered, “if I can’t tell them, who can I tell.” God places us, hand picks us for each local body. If we seek Him, He will put us with believers that are to now be our FAMILY. Sometimes we may act a little dysfunctional, just like our natural families, but unlike in the natural, we have a supernatural Father! He will help us work things out when we are humble and real with Him, each other, and ourselves.

A local church is where we can share our troubles and our triumphs. We can pray for one another, laying hands on the sick, helping out, and encouraging one another. If “Church” to you is just a building that houses a social group who sometimes asks for your money, or if “Church” is something you do once a week, month, or year as a duty, then you might as well stay home. However, if “Church” is a family that happens to meet in a building, and you go to be with your Father and be in relationship with Him and your brother and sisters, you’ll want to go.

I’ll say it again. I love going to church! Is my church family perfect? Ha! No, but do we love each other? You bet we do. Most of them know me inside and out. They’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ungodly parts of me. I can be real, they know they can too. I am committed to them, and to the growth and upkeep of our family. I pay my tithe, I volunteer, I help out where I can, I offer time, resources, and finances to my church. We hang out together and not just at service.

Everything going good for you? Great! Go to church and give God the glory. Having some issues? Get up, no excuses, and GO to Church! You’ll find help there. “But, my church isn’t like that…” I hear you say.

Find a new one! So what if your parents, or your boss go to “that church”, ask God to place you in a church family. Then listen and obey. You may have to sit through a few services, visit a few churches, talk to a few people, but God will help you find your family.

Confession From Romans

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I am dead to sin and alive in Christ.
Sin is not my master, for I am not under the law, but under grace.
I am free from sin and a slave of righteousness.
I will exult and triumph in times of trouble, and rejoice in my suffering knowing that it is working patience in me.
I am not condemned.
Because I am led by the Spirit of God, I am a child of God.
His Spirit bears witness with mine that I am his child.
I am an heir and a joint heir with Christ.
I will suffer with Him and be glorified with Him.
The suffering of this present time are not to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in me.
I will wait with patience and composure for those unseen things I hope for.
God causes all things to work together for my good, because I love Him and am called to His purpose.
I am predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ.
God is for me, so no one can be successfully against me!
I am convinced! Nothing can separate me from the love of God!

Am I Judging?

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I have been thinking about this subject a lot lately. Some good meaning friends and family members have repeatedly said, “I don’t judge,” or “Who am I to judge.” Of course some of them even quote Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” I understand what they are getting at. We surely shouldn’t be overly concerned about the toothpick in someone else’s eye, when we have a telephone pole sticking out of our own. But did God mean for us to just “be and let be?”
First we have to ask ourselves what our purpose in this life really is. One of our purposes for a born again believer, a follower of Christ, is to bring people into God’s family and help them grow and develop once they are accepted into the beloved. I think we can all agree about that. We want people to be healthy and happy. So now let’s take a look at a natural thing to shed some light on the spiritual. If you had a brother or sister who began to look unhealthy, for example their skin began to turn green and ooze with pus, would you ignore it and say, “I’m not in perfect health so how can I judge what color skin a healthy person should have,” or, “I’m not a doctor, who am I to judge.”
Ok, so that sounds a bit silly. Wouldn’t we all try our best to convince them that there is help and hope for their recovery! Now let’s flip that to the spiritual. You have a brother or sister who begins to slip, maybe even sin…Would you not want to point out to them that they are heading down the wrong road, that there is help and hope for them? We can’t get all holier than thou about judgment.
In a good message about spiritual warfare, by our Senior Pastor, William Hohman, he put it this way (more or less): conviction and condemnation feel the same. The difference is condemnation (or some would say judgment) says, “you are wrong, you are in sin, you are going down, you are bad and going to hell,” while conviction (Godly judgment) says, “you may be doing wrong, but turn from your sin and your life will be better, God still loves you and there is hope for you.” Can you see the difference? We don’t want to condemn people. That’s what Matthew 7:1 means. Even Jesus said he came not to condemn the world.
Our days left here are getting shorter. God loves everyone and want them all to belong to his family. In Luke 11:23, Jesus says, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me Scatters.” How can we help those who need Christ if we aren’t willing to tell them that they have a need? Can we generically tell people God is good, God is love but not say God is Holy, God is just? Sin is sin people. Turning our heads or hiding our eyes from wrong in someone’s life doesn’t help them.
They key is our motivation. If you just want to go around and tell people how to clean up their lives and not work on your own, then you are a Pharisee and Jesus told them they were whitewashed graves. Work at getting and keeping your own life right with God, but in Love and in Jesus name, tell people when they are wrong. I can’t help thinking about so many people that have fallen away because nobody wanted to confront their wrong thinking before it turned into wrong behavior. They won’t always listen, and you’ll hear “Don’t judge me,” more than you’ll want to, but somebody has to do it.
Next time someone tells you, “I don’t judge,” you can say, “Neither do I, but I do warn people about the road they are on, so that they can have better.”
More scriptures about judging (you can judge yourself if all judging is wrong):
John 7:24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
I Corinthians 6:1-5 “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world, and if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters. Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the Church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?
Acts 16:15 “and when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.
I Corinthians 5:1-3 “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the gentiles-that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has done this deed.

Calling

Do you hear the Bridegroom calling for His bride?
The Father is calling all is prepared, the table is set.
The Holy Spirit is calling, the wedding garments are ready.
Can you hear the bride calling?

Are you ready?
Are you washed in the blood?
Is your lamp full of oil?
Are your garments without spot or wrinkle?

“And the Spirit and the Bride say, come.
And let them that heareth say, come.
And let them that athirst come.
And whosoever will, let them take the water of life freely.”
Revelation 22:17