Identity {Who or What Defines It?}

Indentity 1

Identity – Who or What Defines Us

We are not defined by who others think or say we are. We are not even defined by who we have worked so hard to be or believe we are. Honors, corporate ladders, and titles are all man-made distinctions – and distractions. God is not more pleased with gold tassels than with those who care for the poor or feed the hungry.

In Matthew 20, Jesus told the parable of the workers in the vineyard. He described the kingdom of heaven as being like a landowner who went out to hire workers for his vineyard. Although the workers were hired at different times throughout the day, they were all paid the same. Why? Because they each had agreed to work for that amount. The landowner was completely fair to each person, challenging the grumbling workers by asking them if they were envious that he was being generous.

Jesus stated in verse 16, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” We American Christians have trouble accepting this as the standard for us too. Surely this cannot be right. We cannot possibly all receive the same grace from God, can we? Doesn’t it matter who we are in this world? Don’t we have to be somebody?

The truth is that we are who God says we are, and God says a lot about us. Look at a few verses from the book of Ephesians:

  • Ephesians 1:4 says God chose us.
  • Ephesians 1:7 tells us we are forgiven.
  • Ephesians 2:10 states that we are His workmanship (not our own).

Let’s not stop here.

  • I Corinthians 6:19 says that we are God’s temple.
  • John 1:12 says that we are God’s children.
  • John 15:15 says that we are friends of Jesus.

Oh friends, the Bible tells us a lot about who we are as believers in Christ. We cannot allow the world or even well-meaning friends and family to wrongly define and label us. When you start to hear that lying voice in your head saying, “you are not good enough, pretty enough, rich enough, or that you are not smart enough, that you deserve that horrible thing that happened to you” STOP RIGHT THERE and tell yourself (yell it out loud if you have to):

  • “No! I am not stupid. I am God’s workmanship!”
  • “No! I am not unloved or unwanted. I am a friend of Jesus!”
  • “No! I don’t deserve to be abused. I am a temple of God!”

Sometimes the lying voice you hear is your own, and

Christ wants to be heard above it.

Instead of talking about how “proud” you are of someone (or someone telling you how “proud” they are of you) for whatever accomplishment(s) it my be at the time; tell them how proud you are of them for accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and for seeking to follow Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.

You see, accomplishments (while they should be celebrated) are not what makes us good enough. What makes us enough is that we are transformed by the mercies of Christ Jesus.

  • Ephesians 1:3-14 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”
  • John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
  • Isaiah 6:8 “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

 

Who or what are you allowing to identify you?

In Christ I Am SHE {Saved. Hopeful. Empowered}

Excepts taken from Reclaiming Sanity by Dr. Laurel Shaler edited by Colleen Woodruff.

Serving Leftovers to a Holy God

Crazy Love written by Francis Chan (excerpt from chapter five pages 83-88)

“…now we are going to look at scriptural examples of poor responses to God’s gift of love. Before you discount or ignore what I am about to say, read these passages objectively, without preconceived opinions staunchly in place. My examination of lukewarm Christians in chapter 4 was by no means exhaustive. However, it did serve as a call to examine your heart in light of the points I listed. As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there’s no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are “lukewarm” are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven.

In Revelation 3:15-18, Jesus says,

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”

This passage is where our modern understanding of lukewarm comes from. Jesus is saying to the church that because they are lukewarm, He is going to spit them out of His mouth. There is no gentle rendering of the word spit in Greek. This is the only time it is used in the New Testament, and it connotes gagging, hurling, retching. Many people read this passage and assume Jesus is speaking to saved people. Why?

When you read this passage, do you naturally conclude that to be “spit” out of Jesus’ mouth means you’re part of His kingdom? When you read the words “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked,” do you think that He’s describing saints? When He counsels them to “buy white clothes to wear” in order to cover their “shameful nakedness,” does it sound like advice for those already saved? I thought people who were saved were already made white and clothed by Christ’s blood.

…so I’ve spent the past few days reading the Gospels. Rather than examining a verse and dissecting it, I chose to peruse one gospel in each sitting. Furthermore, I attempted to do so from the perspective of a twelve-year-old who knew nothing about Jesus. I wanted to rediscover what reasonable conclusions a person would come to while objectively reading the Gospels for the first time. In other words, I read the Bible as if I’d never read it before.

My conclusion? Jesus’ call to commitment is clear: He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a “Christian” without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd. But please don’t take my word for it. Read it yourself.

For years I struggled with the parable of the soils. I wanted to know if the person representing the rocky soil is saved, even though he has no root. I then wondered about the thorny soil: Is this person saved since he does have root?

I doubt if people even considered these questions back in Jesus’ day! Is this idea of the non-fruit-bearing Christian something that we have concocted in order to make Christianity “easier”? So we can follow our own course while still calling ourselves followers of Christ? So we can join the Marines, so to speak, without having to do all the work?

Jesus’ intention in this parable was to compare the only good soil to the ones that were not legitimate alternatives. To Him, there was one option for a true believer.

Let’s face it. We’re willing to make changes in our lives only if we think it affects our salvation. This is why I have so many people ask me questions like, Can I divorce my wife and still go to heaven? Do I have to be baptized to be saved? Am I a Christian even though I’m having sex with my girlfriend? If I commit suicide, can I still go to heaven? If I’m ashamed to talk about Christ, is He really going to deny knowing me?

To me, these questions are tragic because they reveal much about the state of our hearts. They demonstrate that our concern is more about going to heaven than loving the King. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). And our question quickly becomes even more unthinkable: Can I go to heaven without truly and faithfully loving Jesus? 

I don’t see anywhere in Scripture how the answer to that question could be yes. 

James 2:19 says, “You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” God doesn’t just want us to have good theology; He wants us to know and love Him. First John 2:3-4 tells us, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”  Call me crazy, but I think those verses mean that the person who claims to know God but doesn’t obey His commands is a liar and that the truth really isn’t in him.  In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save is life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” And in Luke 14:33, He says, “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”

Some people claim that we can be Christians without necessarily becoming disciples. I wonder, then, why the last thing Jesus told us was to go into the world, making disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that He commanded?

You’ll notice that He didn’t add, “But hey, if that’s too much to ask, tell them to just become Christians—you know, the people who get to go to heaven without having to commit to anything.”

Pray. Then read the Gospels for yourself. Put this book down and pick up your Bible. My prayer for you is that you’ll understand the Scriptures not as I see them, but as God intends them.


I do not want true believers to doubt their salvation as they read this book. In the midst of our failed attempts at loving Jesus, His grace covers us. Each of us has lukewarm elements and practices in our life; therein lies the senseless, extravagant grace of it all. …His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3). His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). I’m not saying that when you mess up, it means you were never really a genuine Christian in the first place. If that were true, no one could follow Christ.

The distinction is perfection (which none will attain on this earth) and a posture of obedience and surrender, where a person perpetually moves toward Christ. To call someone a Christian simply because he does some Christian-y things is giving false comfort to the unsaved. But to declare anyone who sins “unsaved” is to deny the reality and truth of God’s grace.

From other references in Scripture (Colossians 2:1; 4:13, 15-16), the church at Laodicea appears to have been a healthy and legitimate church. But something happened. By the time Revelation was written, about twenty-five years after the letter to the Colossians, the Laodiceans’ hearts apparently didn’t belong to God—despite the fact that they were still active as a church. Their church was prospering, and they didn’t seem to be experiencing any persecution. They were comfortable and proud.

end of quoting from book…




Dear friend,

My heart has been ever so challenged and extremely rebuked by these few pages. To be lukewarm brings no glory, no honor, no pleasure to God, but clearly demonstrates where the love of my heart truly lives. 

We know that one cannot lose their salvation – once a child of God always a child of God, but just because one claims Christ doesn’t mean they are His. Scripture clearly states that “you will know them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:16-20). This doesn’t give you nor I the authority to cast judgement upon one another, but rather to cast the judgement upon ourselves—to take our own blinding, humongous, pride-centered-filled beam out of our own eye, first and foremost, before we even attempt trying to take out the speck that is in our brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5).

  • So rebuked, yes!
  • Challenged, yes!
  • Warned, yes!
    • Am I lukewarm?
    • Am I cold?
    • Am I hot?

When you ask yourself these same questions, you know the answers, as do I.  The question is what are you and I going to do about it?

  • What does my heart look like–is it filled with gratitude to my Savior or filled with pride because I somehow I think I am entitled to His grace.
  • My actions speak my hearts motives!

We only have but one life to live; it is either all mine or all His.

Blessings to you dear friends. May we be a sweet smelling savor into the nostrils of God and hear, ‘well done’!

In Christ I am SHE {Saved. Hopeful. Empowered.}

 

 

It’s Strange

* It’s strange how twenty dollars seems like such a large amount when you donate it to church, but such a small amount when you go shopping.

* It’s strange how 2 hours seem so long when you’re at church, and how short they seem when you’re watching a movie.

* It’s strange that you can’t find words to say when you’re praying, but you have no trouble thinking what to talk about with a friend.

* It’s strange how difficult it is to read one chapter of the Bible, but how easy it is to read a popular novel.

* It’s strange how everyone wants front-row-tickets to concerts, but they want to sit in the last row at Church.

* It’s strange how we need to know about an event for Church 2-3 weeks before the day so we can include it in our agenda, but we can adjust it for other events in the last minute?

* It’s strange how difficult it is to learn a fact about God and share it with others, but it’s easy to repeat gossip.

* It’s strange how we believe everything that magazines and newspapers say, but we question the words in the Bible?

– Author unknown

Matthew 6:21

In Christ I am She

ps 46 5

Before any conclusions are made, I want to make one thing clear…I am a work in progress. In Ephesians 2 in says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus…” He is truly the Potter and I the clay and I am thankful for that. The other day in my personal time with God, I was reading I Corinthians 15. In verses 57 and 58 is says, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” WOW! these are powerful and encouraging verses to this soul of mine. In my journaling Bible I wrote this {in much fancier letters} :0)

Whenever discouragement arises…

{{REMEMBER}}

  1. be steadfast [means: resolution, dutifully, firm, loyal, faithful, committed, dedicated, constant; firmly fixed or established; not fickled or wavering]
  2. be IMMOVABLE [never distracted; giving ourselves over to that which we know is not vain; locked on one = Christ; not affected; not having the passions excited]
  3. always ABOUNDING [always excelling] in the WORK of the LORD, {and this next part is just the sweetness of God towards His creations} KNOWING this [you can know; you do know], that in the LORD your labor IS NOT IN VAIN.

Nothing you do for Christ is a waste of time or effort. 

Nothing! Time with Christ is never time wasted! In Christ I am She is truly & simply born out of a deep longing and personal desire for God. I need God. Without Christ; I am nothing; I can do nothing. This heart, soul, and mind is continually needing reminding, spurring, challenging, rebuking, comforting, leading, loving, directing, and fastened to the One and only that can truly fulfil. And this is how In Christ I am She blog blossomed; a needy heart for Christ and thee incredible working power of Christ in a soul = a changed life.

I do have a deep prayerful desire: that in some small way the Lord uses His working in this heart on mine, as weak and needing as it is, to somehow be an encouragement to you. That you may see the wonder working power in their own life, and in return give Him all the glory and praise due to His name, so that others will be pointed to Christ. May we live an abundant-intended life in Christ and glorify our Maker!

Today, 12.01.2016, as In Christ I am She: Saved. Hopeful. Empowered. I pledge to my Lord Jesus Christ, from this day forward, may I be willing to obey and walk willingly, serve and love Him with all my heart unconditionally, then share that obedience, walking, serving, and love with others {in both written and verbal form}. May your hearts be challenged yet encouraged to love Christ with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. May Jesus Christ be praised!

Rejoice for you are a daughter of the King,

In Christ I am SHE {Saved. Hopeful. Empowered.}