Identify!

clouds-sky-0057

There are times when we don’t quite believe who God says we are. But that never changes who we are or the plans He has for us.

There are even times when we put a lot of energy into making excuses and explaining to God why we aren’t who He says we are. But that doesn’t change anything either.

Case in point: Exodus chapter 3.

A man named Moses finds himself in a conversation with God, who informs him that he, Moses, will be the one to go bring the Israelites out of Egypt. He is going to be the voice that frees six hundred thousand men and their families from slavery.

Moses’ response?

  • “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh…” (3:11)
  • “[But] If I come to the people of Israel …and they ask me ‘who sent you?’ what do I say then?” (3: 13, paraphrased)
  • “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice…” (4:1)
  • “I have never been eloquent…I am slow of speech and of tongue.” (4:10)
  • “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” (4:13)

With each comment, God continues to explain how He has chosen Moses, how He will influence the Israelites to listen to Moses, how He will enable Moses to handle whatever is ahead, how He will display His power through Moses, how He defines who Moses is and He has decided Moses is the man for the job.

But Moses responds with more excuses. Moses simply refused to buy it. He was sure he was a nobody, and that the best place for him was right where he was, in obscurity taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep.

So finally, in 4:14-16 God essentially says “Fine. Your brother Aaron will go with you and he’ll do the talking. Does that make you happy?” (My personal interpretation, of course…I’m pretty sure none of that was in the original Hebrew text.)

But here’s the rub  – pay close attention now – because if you read through the next 9 chapters of Exodus, in all the interactions that took place with Pharaoh, not once do you read “And Aaron said unto Pharaoh…

The only place we see Aaron taking the lead is when they first talk to the Israelites (4:30). From there on out, Moses is the point man.

To me, this is significant, because it is one of the starkest examples in scripture of what Bob Perdue and others refer to as the concept of the true self.  It says “You are who God says you are, not necessarily who you think you are.”

As much as we try to hedge and detour and deflect and make excuses, God knows who we really are. He knows because He defines who we really are.

Our maneuvering, our excuses, our doubts, what we think we’re capable of or not capable of – none of that trumps what God planned from the beginning of time.

Our mistakes, our past, our faults or failures – none of that disqualifies us from what God planned from the beginning of time.

The Creator of the universe, designated you for a purpose and then designed you to meet that purpose.

Trust Him, you’ll find that the person he designed you to be is exactly what brings deep fulfillment, more so than your highest personal aspirations. (I’m pretty sure that in the end Moses knew that what he accomplished was a whole lot more fulfilling than another 40 years of tending sheep).

So stop making excuses and believe who God says you are.

He knows what He’s talking about.

 

Advertisements

Leave It at the Cross

Religion  266

“You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross.” – MercyMe, Dear Younger Me

This line strikes home for me every time I hear it. Because I look back at things that I know I shouldn’t have carried beyond the cross and see the pain it brought and the problems it caused.

I think to some extent all of us have things that we try to carry beyond the cross.

We talk about turning things over to Jesus. We nod confidently and agree there is nothing that He can’t carry for us.

But still there are things we try to carry ourselves.  We plant our feet firmly, heave it up on our shoulders, and trudge forward, one laborious step at a time.

Maybe it’s because we feel like it’s not something that’s worthy of turning over to God – it’s too trivial to bother Him with.

Or maybe it’s too ugly and we don’t want to expose it to our relationship with Him – like somehow revealing the thing (which He already knows about) will somehow taint His impression of us.

Or maybe someone has convinced us that God’s grace doesn’t quite cover that.

But Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

He didn’t say “all who labor and are heavy laden with big things.” Or “all who labor and are heavy laden unless your burden crosses this line.” He said “all.”

So no matter the size, shape, appearance, or form of your burden, bring it to Him. You were never meant to carry it beyond the cross.

Alcoholism? Bring it. Pornography? Bring it. Unwanted homosexual desires? Bring it. Bad temper? Bring it. Guilt from a painful past? Bring it. Hurt caused by someone else? Bring it. Drug problems, gambling addictions, trust issues, gossip, hate, lying, cheating, jealousy, judgmentalism – whatever form your flaw or your struggle takes…bring it to His cross.

And leave it there. Don’t carry it one step further.

When we try to carry it ourselves, bigger problems result. Struggles become addictions. Secrets become complex networks of deceit. Angry outbursts become abusive behavior. One more compulsive bet becomes financial ruin.

The scenarios are exhaustive (and exhausting!).

Trust me, carrying whatever it is ourselves and trying to keep it stuffed inside only leads to more (and deeper) hurt. I know. I’ve been there.

So make the commitment now to leave everything at the foot of the cross. Everything…and live free!

p.s. – since I mentioned it, take a listen to this song if you have time. It’s worth it.

What Defines You?

We are not defined by our failures, our weaknesses, our temptations, or our bad choices in life – past or present.

We are not even defined by our victories.  After all, if we get into the habit of defining ourselves by our victories, then we are just one fall away from defining ourselves by our failures, right?

As believers, we are defined by God.  That’s it.  We are who He says we are, and then comes victory.  Victory doesn’t form our definition of self … it results from it!  

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

“Then He said unto them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit” (John 15:16).

“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son” (1 Cor 1:9).

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

“…you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

” [you] who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation” (1 Peter 1:5).

(Emphasis mine in all references.)

Do you notice the commonality?  

Jeremiah prophesied that God had an intentional, predetermined plan for His children (directed originally toward the Israelites exiled to Babylon, this also applies to each of us as the spiritual children of Abraham – see Romans 4:9-18).

Jesus told the men He called that He would make them fishers of men, and later reminded them that He chose them, not the other way around.

Paul dealt with issues such as lust, gluttony, divisiveness in the Corinthian church.  Yet He says “God is faithful, and He called you!”

To Ephesus, Paul addressed believers who, like many at the time, were dealing with various false teachers trying to either cheapen the Gospel or intellectualize it or turn it into a form of hyper-Judaism.  He also addressed drunkenness, domestic relations, and spiritual warfare, among other things.  Yet he tells them that God gave them new life and brought them into relationship with Him.

And Peter, addressing the church in general, reminded them that it was God’s power that kept them secure.

In each instance, God is acting and believers are recipients.  He defines us.

So don’t ever forget that your identity does not rest in you.  It didn’t start with you, it isn’t enhanced or impaired by you, and it certainly isn’t secured by you or anything you do.  

Jesus did say, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15), but note that obedience is not a precondition, it is an outflowing.  

1 John 4:19 says “We love Him because He first loved us.”  So here’s the scenario: (1) He loves us and speaks our true identity into us, (2) we fall in love with Him as we come to believe, (3) obedience flows out of our love for Him.

So what have you allowed to define you?  A past mistake?  A lifestyle you came out of?  A habit you can’t break?  A weakness that continuously resurfaces?  Your church attendance?  Your ability to outperform others athletically, career-wise, academically, spiritually?  Whatever it is, throw it out.  Let your concept of who you are come from God alone.