It's always important to know who we are. To REALLY know who we are. Our strengths, our weaknesses, our fears, our doubts, our hopes. To be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and be confident in who is staring back. We may try to grasp pieces of culture to create this identity, or our family, our experiences. But as a Christian, a Christ follower, our identity has to begin with who we are in Christ. Throughout the next few weeks, I'll be sharing a few aspects of who we are in Christ and what that means for us as we follow Him into discipleship.
2 Corinthians 5:17 states that if we are in Christ, we are new creatures. Old things have passed away and new things have come. As we launch into reflecting on who we are as Christians, we have to know that the moment we accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, the old self and old sins and old mindsets were removed. WE ARE NEW CREATURES IN CHRIST!
Being made new in Christ implies that we have a clear and clean slate on which to become who He has created us to be. In order to do this, we must make sure we keep in mind that this opportunity is given to us through Him - His life, death, and resurrection. As a result, it is imperative that we look to Him for our steps to move forward. The aspects we used to use to identify ourselves may need to be replaced with scriptural actions and attitudes. If you have done anything in your past that was wrong or hurtful, God forgives you through Christ. If you at times have bad thoughts about yourself or others, God forgives you through Christ. You are His new creation. Walk, think, and talk confidently in the knowledge that you are a new creation in Christ.
Identity in Christ can only begin to take shape in us and through us if we know the Christ who has made us new. As we continue this series of posts about Identity in Christ, I'd encourage you to look at the gospels to find out who He truly is and who He is calling you to be.
1. What aspects/parts of yourself do you need to give to Jesus so He can make you a new creation?
2. How does the knowledge that you are a new creation impact how you live day to day?
3. Keep in mind that God loves you so much He sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for your sins. On the third day, Jesus Christ rose from the dead and defeated death and the grave. It is this same God who has made you a new creation in Christ Jesus!
4. Seek God in prayer and ask Him to reveal and renew the things in you that need to be made new.
It's the time of the year when we pause to reflect upon the significance of the birth of Jesus Christ. It's the time when we focus efforts on helping and supporting those who are less fortunate than we may be, those who are in need, those who hope for a few small items to keep them going.
And that has me thinking about Jesus' command to take care of those around us, to love our neighbor as ourselves at all times. It is great that churches and organizations reach out during this time, BUT this isn't a seasonal call to action. This is a year-long call to action. This is a constant and perpetual effort to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, share the gospel.
So while we get in the spirit of the season and enjoy the time, let us also keep the spirit into the new year. Even though the new year is a month away, it is never too late to create the habits and actions that will be who we are in one more month.
Let's share the spirit and love of Christ with the same fervency in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November.
In 2 Samuel 7, David has a good idea. He wants to build a house for the ark of the covenant where God dwelt. His friend, the prophet of God Nathan, encouraged him and thought it was a good idea as well.
That night, the Lord told Nathan that he needed to share a different plan with David. It was going to be David's son, not David, who built God a dwelling place that was not a tent. Hearing this news the next day could have set David into an angry rant. A frustrated explosion of emotions and the feeling that the planning and energy were wasted. But he responds by going to the Lord in prayer.
So many times we make plans, even good God-centered plans, but that isn't what the Lord has in mind. And instead of turning to others first and arguing with ourselves on what should have happened, we should turn to the Lord of our lives and plans and ask Him what He has. It is a hard path to take, and at times it may not be enjoyable, but if we believe God is who He says, it will always be worth it.
This isn't to say that planning isn't important, as it is. But if the Lord interrupts our plans with His, we need to go directly to Him to hear the amazing things He has in store!
With August beginning, many begin to focus school's return. New classes, new teachers, new schedules, and new opportunities. Maybe you, as a student, are interested in redefining who you are. That person who left in June is gone and now everyone will be introduced to a new version of (insert your name).
I remember defining and redefining who I was, but why was I changing? Was it a fear that I'd be identified as something I didn't want to be? Was it a desire to be accepted? Did I really know who I was? What was changing about me? Was it good? Was it going to work out? Could I keep up with the image I wanted to create?
As the date closes in for school to start, keep one thing in mind. If you are a follower of Christ, you have become a new creation in Him. He should be the focus of our identity, of who we shape ourselves into. Salt and light, speaking words of encouragement and truth in love. Living in a manner that reflects Him and who He is. As a new fall approaches and the new you emerges, let this passage encourage you.
2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he/she is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
If any of us have been around churches or churched people, we have probably heard Matthew 28:18-20 quoted. GO and MAKE disciples. Commands of action. So what happens if we don't activate our faith? So what if we don't GO or DO or SPEAK or LIVE? It's about a relationship with Jesus, right??? Absolutely, but it is much more than just having a closed-door faith and it is this call that we need to strive toward in each day of our lives.
As I sit in my house, comfortable temperature, coffee cup next to me, iPhone at the ready, family fed, youth pastor at a fantastic church, great friends who love Jesus, the challenge rings and rattles throughout my heart, mind, and soul. KEVIN - What are YOUR actions today in relation to the Kingdom? Who has the Lord planted in my path? What words has He deposited into my heart and mind that are for that person? If I don't activate and listen to the Lord, I will be happy to ignorantly walk through the day and never share. Never know. Never allow the Spirit of the Almighty inject life into someone else.
James 2:16-26 cuts directly into the meat of our faith. If someone is without clothes or food, and we simply say we hope the Lord helps them, what are WE DOING? Our faith is shown by what we do, and if we are doing nothing, our faith is not being shown. As summer moves along, let us grab ahold of the need for action and activation of faith to fulfill the call of Christ, to be used by the Almighty, and to experience the life-giving expressions of Jesus.
It's official! All schools are out and it is time to enjoy the summer! As we begin to fill up our time with events, picnics, swimming, and friends, we want to remember to keep the Lord as our priority. One of the best ways to do that is to continue to read His Word and be prayerful in each day.
Psalms 119:11 - Your Word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.
As we desire for the Lord to continue to change us as His children, we should also strive to bring honor to Him through obedience and righteous choices. Learning and following His word allows us to know what His standard is and how He helps us meet that.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Our attitudes should reflect the relationship we have with Christ Jesus through His sacrifice for us. Rejoicing and celebrating who He is and what He has done begins to be a natural response once we align ourselves with Him through prayer.
Whether you are a night owl who makes their time at night to pray and read, or if you are an early bird who studies and prays during breakfast, God our Father is waiting for us to seek Him and know Him more!
As each day presents new challenges, changes, and opportunities, keep in mind God's great mercy. The mercy of Christ on the cross, His resurrected life for our redemption and forgiveness can not be overlooked. When we know and believe He has poured out His grace and compassion and love to the point of death, it should shake our foundations each and every morning so that the walls of bitterness and revenge come down. Christ states that the merciful are blessed for they will receive mercy (Matthew 5:7). It is not based on our own standards that we give mercy; it is based on Christ's standard that mercy is not necessarily deserved as His death and resurrection resonate.
I pray that we are all reflective this week as His mercy showers over us. What does that mean for me as His follower? How should I treat those around me? May we all allow the Holy Spirit to move us toward being merciful in light of Christ and His message of hope, love, and life.
As we continue through the beatitudes, the Holy Spirit is challenging us all to evaluate and reflect on who we are in Christ and what it means to follow Him. From being humble to seeking righteousness, we are on a journey of faith.
A new school week begins tomorrow (or for some a new work week). Take a minute to look around and notice where God is working and join in through His empowering. If you see one mourning, mourn with them and provide comfort. If you find yourself taking on pride that is not from Him, repent and change the attitude. If you notice you are not being as gentle as Christ Himself, ask Him to help you to reflect Him.
Our Father is waiting to pour His spirit of power over us and in us so that we can be the salt and light to the earth, one that is longing for hope and redemption. Let this be a week that we are all workers in the vineyard reaping the harvest of God.
Matthew 5:3 states that the poor in spirit are blessed, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The opening words of Christ's Sermon on the Mount challenge us to reflect upon our "spirituality." Are we humble? Can the Lord correct and direct us? Or are we more like the Pharisees who thought they were super-spiritual individuals and had a hard time accepting and living Christ's words?
Being poor in spirit doesn't mean we are weak in spirit, but rather we understand our need and dependence upon God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We can receive His guidance and correction. No matter if we are new in our walk with Christ or we have been following Him for years, we should strive to respond with an attitude of reverence. It is because of HIM that we are able to have a relationship with our Father. May we all grow this week as the Holy Spirit works within us.
This Wednesday, May 4, we will begin our new series "Blessed are the..." Christ's words in the opening of His sermon on the mount challenge believers to examine themselves through prayer and accountability. We are anticipating the Holy Spirit to move among us, in us, and through us. Join us for fellowship, worship, and discussion!