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.

Lacking Faith?

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Judges 6:11-16 (NIV), “The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

Gideon had a faith problem. He had no faith in himself, or in the fact that God could use him. Even though an Angel came to him, he still wanted some proof. Notice through the whole group of scriptures about Gideon God continues to call him a “Warrior.” God knew who Gideon was; the problem was that Gideon just couldn’t see it. He lists his lowly ancestry as one of the reasons he doubted, and the fact that the Lord had seemingly abandoned them. Gideon was looking in the natural at the natural. God sent an angel to show him the supernatural. Humbly, this mighty “warrior” asks for a sign. Patiently, God provided more than one. Isn’t God good? Bear in mind that this was before Jesus came to redeem us, we now have the Holy Spirit to lead us, so asking for a fleece instead of asking the Holy Spirit for conformation was reasonable for Gideon.

How do we fix a faith issue?

God tells us that we have all been given the “measure of faith,” and that faith comes by hearing His word. If you know me at all, you know that I encourage everyone to read their Bible. It is not a coffee table decoration or one for the back windshield of your car either. It won’t do you a bit of good under your bed, or in your closet. If you are in the habit of leaving it at Church so that you don’t forget it on Sunday, buy another one! Then, when you read it, read it out loud as much as possible. I learned a few things in school that I applied as a teacher. If we hear something we remember 25% of the information. If we hear something and read it also, we retain 50% of that information. If we hear it, read it, and write it, we remember 75% of that information. Now I know that is very general, and that we all have different learning styles, but this has proven true for me and many of my students. So read your bible at home, then listen to sound teaching and preaching that backs itself up with scripture, while at Church, take notes. Even if they are sloppy and you will never read them again! It will help you retain what you are learning, and sometimes God speaks to your heart and you need to jot something down (while still paying attention to the message).

Gideon had an identity issue that led to a faith issue. If we are confident in who God is and how He sees us, our faith grows by leaps and bounds!

Another way our faith is strengthened is by going through some tough stuff. I know, it’s the school of hard knocks and every one of us wants to “play hooky” that day and skip class. The key is to go through. Don’t set up camp, don’t stop to have a pity party, and don’t pause to whine and complain. Allow God’s Holy Spirit to lead you out. There is always light at the end of the tunnel when you serve God. Always. We grow from faith to faith this way, if we allow our hearts to be humble and teachable. The next time we are faced with a similar situation, our knees wont knock as much, and our hearts will not do that Irish jig. We will be able to calmly say, “this too shall pass.”

Gideon did find some courage; he obeyed God and against all odds, including being vastly outnumbered by the enemy, won the victory.

He will do the same for you.

I Peter 2:9 (KJB), “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”

Who I Am

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The Holy Spirit is a amazing gift from the Father. He is a faithful teacher and guide. He reveals to us who God is. Knowing God on a personal level is important to our walk as Christians. Another wonderful thing that the Holy Spirit does is that He reveals to us who we are, not the way we see ourselves, not how the world sees us, but how God sees us. He shows us our true image and our true nature.

He can only do this if we are in a relationship with Him.

Think about when you were young, especially Jr. High and High School. This may not mean as much to you guys out there, but to us girls, having a best friend was so important, now days they call them BFF’s (Best Friends Forever). A true friend was someone you could be real with. They knew you were afraid of the dark, wet the bed, or that you had a crush on Jimmy in second period. You knew they hated math, loved pizza, and once snuck into the movies. For us girls, we stayed up and talked for hours, we shared every part of our lives and our hearts. Another thing about a best friend was that they never let us think too highly of ourselves. They held us accountable, were honest to the point of inflicting pain at times. They had the guts to say, “that dress has to go,” or “Jimmy likes cheerleaders, and you aren’t one.”

That is the kind of relationship we need to have with the Holy Spirit. We may have been hurt a time or two by people we were intimate with, maybe they shared some of our secrets, or in some way turned against us. The Holy Spirit will never be that kind of friend. He is trustworthy and faithful. We can tell Him anything! If what we have in our heart is wrong, He will faithfully convict us, or convince us, depending on what is needful.

John 16:1-11 (NIV), “But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”

That is part of His responsibility, to convict of sin, and convince us of righteousness. If we believe we can’t be healed, the Holy Spirit will convince us otherwise. If we are ignoring the word, or backing away from God, He convicts us, always in love. He guides us into the truth, He doesn’t want us to live in error, deceit, or in a way that isn’t beneficial for us.

John 16:13 (NIV), “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

John 14:26 (NASB), “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”

Just like that earthly friend, the Holy Spirit knows our weaknesses. He knows we tend to have anger issues, or that we “escape” into movies or books, He knows we are getting too friendly with that co-worker, or are in places we shouldn’t be. The Holy Spirit see’s the intents of our hearts, before we ever act on anything. So, He is there to help us through, to say “no” to all temptations. He lines us back up with God’s purpose and His plan for our life, if we will let Him.

Romans 8:26 (NIV), “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

He knows our minds better than we do, better than any human friend ever could, and He uses that information to help us, guide us, and even intercedes for us according to the will of God. He reveals to us the purposes and plans that God has for us. God has a wonderful plan mapped out for each one of us, and it is the Holy Spirit that reveals that map piece by piece. His Spirit has been given to us so that we can fulfill those plans.

I Corinthians 2:9-12 (NIV), “but just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”

Every person born in this world ends up with an image of themselves. For the most part those images are painted from our experiences in this fallen world, from what others have said to us or about us, and from the lies that Satan has whispered in our ears. The Pharisee’s image of themselves was self importance, self indulgent, and self righteous. The woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears had a totally different self image, before meeting Christ. Over the years we have heard words like, “fat,” “stupid,” “lazy,” “ugly,” “skinny,” “poor,” “stuck up,” “whore,” and a bunch of other words that I won’t mention in Church. These words shape us. There are even people who have eating disorders who look into the mirror and see a fat person when in reality they are walking skeletons. Our images of ourselves are distorted, at best.

So God sends us His Spirit to rectify that. He tells us we are sons of God, if we are listening and following Him.

Romans 8:14-15 (NIV), “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

As He reveals who God is, He is revealing who we are. If God is love, then we are loved, and accepted in the beloved. If God is generous, and He is our Father, then we are not orphans and He will provide for us. We know that God is Healer, so we know that we walk in divine health. Satan can whisper all he wants that we are no good, too old, too fat, too weak, too whatever…we just need to tell him to shut up and hear that other voice, the One who says, “you are beautiful, you are loved, you are special, you can do anything, you are mine. We may at times feel unloved or unlovable, but the Holy Spirit is there telling us the truth. He puts a spotlight on the lies of the devil. He also shines that light on the areas were we need strength, deliverance, and change. He wants His fruit evident in our lives.

Galatians 5:22 (NIV), “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

The Holy Spirit is God. He wants us to be free from out past, free from any wrong thought patterns, and free to be who God has called us to be. In order to be free, we have to know who we are! We aren’t our sins. He didn’t create us to sin, He created us in His likeness, for good not for evil. We are being transformed into the image of Christ.

II Corinthians 3:17-18 (NIV), “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

People find their identity in many things besides God. The problem with that is that circumstances change. The woman who finds her identity in her children doesn’t know who she is when they go off to college, or worse yet becomes an obsessive, overbearing, busy body in the lives of her grown children. The athlete who finds his identity in the sport that he plays loses that identity when he is no longer able to perform, the business man who finds his identity in his career is lost after retirement, and the woman who finds her identity in her husband is devastated when death or divorce comes knocking.

However, God never changes. How He feels about us, how He created us, never changes. His plans and His purposes are forever. The only thing that can change our identity in Him is a lack of relationship, a lack of intimacy with the Holy Spirit. Truthfully that doesn’t even change who we are supposed to be, we just “act the part” we have allowed the world to give us. Like some bad sit com. They tell us who they think we are and we foolishly play the part.

In my opinion, that is why so many of our young people think that they are gay. The world says that if you are a boy and you like to cook, shop, the color pink, have creative genes, and hate sports, you must be a homosexual. Or, if you are a girl and you likes playing in the dirt with trucks, love football, like working with your hands, and hate wearing dresses, you must be a lesbian. How foolish is that? Our likes and dislikes, (especially at the age of 5 or 6), do not dictate who we are! God made each one of us, He formed us in the womb, saying that a person is born contrary to God’s plan and purposes for our lives is in effect saying that He messed up or made a mistake. His original plans for men and women are still the same. A man who is loving and gentle is still a man. A woman who is strong and capable is still a woman.

Don’t let the world tell you who you are. Don’t let your weak flesh either. The ultimate authority on who we are, who we are created to be must be God. He made us, He designed us, He is the Master Potter and we are but the clay. Settling for anything less than God’s perfect plan for us will only lead to heartache and brokenness.

God is the one who wrote our part. It will never be contrary to His will, His way, and His word. His plan is already written for us. The part that God has imagined for us is the part of the main character; we have the lead in the story of our lives. We are the Hero, we save the day!

That is our destiny.