Nov28TueNovember 28, 2017
Last Friday I had the opportunity to visit with some of the men who live at the Manor. I take time often just to sit and listen to them talk about what they are dealing with and the chaos they live in thanks to others who live there. Some just can’t wait to get out of that place and when you talk about how long they have lived there, it’s always been too long. So, when I met with Larry this past Friday, something really special happened. We talked about his work situation, the fact that he will bike wherever he needs to go…even when he has too many beers. Larry can come out with amazing insights from the Bible too and I’ve discovered that Larry knows Jesus. So, on this day I put my hand on his shoulder and prayed for him. Afterwards, I said, Larry, I want you to pray for me. As he prayed, he said, “LORD, help Jack to see it’s not what he does for you, it’s about what you created him to be.” It was a moment for sure and a special reminder that God gave me through Larry!
The root of our identity as image-bearers of God needs to be addressed. We were created in His likeness to reflect His goodness and love. It was lost all the way back with Adam and we need to reclaim our identity!
Why is it so important for us to continue to revisit this theme?
- You really can’t live in the fullness of who you have been created to be until you really know who you are.
- If you aren’t fully persuaded of your identity in Jesus, criticism can really devastate you!
- You’ll be able to gauge by how you respond to criticism in determining where you are at. Do you react or respond. When we react, it is usually an unfiltered knee-jerk, fast response. It’s of the flesh and not the Spirit. Responding with grace takes incredible patience. It can only comes from a deep rooted faith and rested identity in Christ.
- Take a moment to think of what is typical of you if you are honest with yourself
- I believe when you aren’t strong in knowing your purpose, your value, you take everything someone says about you personally or completely at face value and allow it to shape your identity. The opposite of this is the ability to step back from a situation when you are being attacked. It will allow you to process and say, “ok, where is this really coming from.”
Have any of you read the story “You Are Special” by Max Lucado. Read it with your children because we need to start this focus on how God truly sees us early in life.
That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
These truths need to be written on our hearts! We need to take off the mask, strip away everything that is part of defining us by the world’s standards. It is a process of retraining our minds through the lens of Scripture.
I want to share about some truths that spill out of your identity in Ephesians.
YOUR POSITION v1-6
All you thought about was gratifying yourself: the WIIFM syndrome, I want it now, I wanted it yesterday. You fill in the blank
We were dead in sin.
We were deserving of wrath, we were deserving of nothing.
We were consumed by Black Friday consumerism
God RAISED you up, you are seated in heavenly places. YOU have a new perspective. God is giving you a window to see things from an eternal perspective….
The question we need to ask ourselves is this, “ In the light of eternity, how much am I going to place on this situation?
Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people come to life!
YOUR INHERITANCE v12,13
You were so far away from God in your thoughts, your decisions,
You were excluded – left out
You were foreigners – you didn’t have a claim to anything, without God, without hope.
You have been brought near to the Father by the blood of Jesus, we can come boldly into His presence.
Included in the covenant of promise – a promise of blessing, a promise of redemption. He is the God who redeems our life with good things!
Fellow citizens of God’s people
YOUR BLESSING v7,14
I have to make it happen. If anything good happens in my life, I made it happen
I am separate from Christ, there is no blessing.
He wants you to tangibly experience the incomparable riches of His grace
He is our peace, our calm in the midst of life’s storms, our refuge.
We have access to the Father by the Spirit.
YOUR FAMILY v19-21
I have to prove that I’m somebody. It’s about my resume, my network of friends,
It’s me being me, a good human being, trying to prove I belong.
This is not just an individual thing. We are being built together to become a dwelling where God lives by His Spirit. I experienced a powerful reminder of this while I visited the wailing wall in Jerusalem and stood at the amazing foundation
Peace and harmony in our relationships. No one is superior. The ground is completely level at the cross
YOUR DESTINY v8-10, 21,22
Following the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
I am saved, I’m God’s handiwork
I have been set up by God to do good works for His kingdom.
I am dwelling place in which God lives by his Spirit.
When we wrap our hearts and minds around this, our attitude, our outlook can significantly change.
My personal journey towards my identity in Christ.
My identity as a Christian was very much wrapped up in what I did. I really took pride in doing my devotions, I was pretty disciplined when it came to doing my devotions. I did Bible lessons through the Mailbox Bible Club when I was younger. As a teenager, I was active in the “Christian Service Brigade” and earned the “Herald of Christ”. I sensed a call to full time ministry when I was 17 and I was off and running to become a pastor. I went through four years of Bible School to get my BRE and another two years to get my MRE for good measure. I thought I was ready for God to use me. I didn’t say it, but I definitely thought it. I jumped through all the “hoops” and I was ready. I put out my resume…everywhere, but no one wall calling, no one was interested in me. It was devastating honestly to the point that I gave up on being a pastor. I honestly thought that I heard God wrong so I focused on teaching. I had given up so much on being a pastor that when the church I was attending and serving at posted a youth pastor position, I didn’t even apply. However, it was at this moment that God took over and the pastor invited me out to lunch and then asked me to become the youth pastor.
So, what’s the lesson?
My, being a pastor, would not come about because of my ministry experience, my education, my training. It had everything to do with Him and continues to have everything to do with Him. It means I actively need to be listening to His voice, finding my purpose, my identity, my calling in Him, in what He has done for me, what He has created me to be, just like Larry said.
Christian discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention to our own; finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives but by believing in God’s will and purposes; making a map of the faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our own enthusiasms. Eugene Peterson