Friday, October 14, 2016

Finding yourself

Identity... it's the very heart of the main quest of our generation. 

Who am I? 

Why am I here? 

What is the point?

It is also one of the biggest areas in which the devil likes to attack us, as Christians.

I have felt it, I have seen my husband struggle with it, and I have heard from one too many dear brother or sister the cries of their heart echoing the cry of my own...

God wants to settle this issue once and for all. We can no longer give the devil any voice in our hearts. We have to stand on the truth God has spoken. It's right here for us to find.

It's in His Word. It's the whisper of truth in our hearts. It's the hope we feel when we enter into true worship.

Our identity is found only in him. It is this crazy paradox: you can't find yourself until you lose yourself in Him. 

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 10:39

We have to trust in Him, and make His voice the one that we choose to agree with. 

Maybe we have screwed up many times. Maybe we feel like a failure. Do we live by what we see? Do we live by what we feel? Or do we live by our faith in the Word of God?

For we walk by faith and not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7

Let's start with 1 John. Chapter 3 opens with, "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (NIV) 

I use the NIV here because I love the wording so much. He has lavished his love on us! 

The dictionary definition for lavish is 
1) bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities upon
2) cover something thickly or liberally with.

That must be why I love it in this context. It is something extravagant, and is liberally showered on us! But I also love that next sentence "And that is what we are!" It's declaratory, and honestly seems thrilled! And why wouldn't the writer be? It is a thrilling thing, we have been given such a great gift. The gift of identity, and truly valuable identity at that.

In some ways the children of God are like Anastasia in that cartoon from the 90s. Walking around in raggedy clothes, stealing food because you have no idea who you really are. She was a princess! She had rights to so much. All she needed to do was take it. But she didn't know. So, for most of her life she wandered around like a street rat, and was mistreated in an orphanage. We are royalty to God -his blessed children, not that we should walk around in a cocky, self-righteous way, but that we should walk in the confidence of who we are because of who He is and what He did for us.

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 
Mark 10:42-45 (NIV)

This lesson must be really important, a version of it shows up in three of the four gospels.
Matthew 20:25-28, Mark 10:42-45, Luke 22:25-27

But the best way, aside from pride, that the enemy can eliminate us as a threat to his kingdom is to beat us down.

Have you ever felt like you were worthless? That you had no value or real purpose? That you were a failure? Or a burden to your loved ones? 

These are all lies the enemy will use to keep us down. We have to fight back!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)

One of the best ways I have discovered is to counter every lie from the devil with a truth from God. 

I heard a preacher once say, "Every time the devil speaks to me I know it is a lie, so I declare the opposite truth. If he says, "You are worthless!" Then I say, "Thank you, God, that I'm so worth it!""

Note that he's not even giving the devil his attention, like he isn't even worth a glance, but keeps his eyes on the Lord, declaring the truth over himself. This is a great practice! Because another thing the devil tries to do to us is to get our eyes off Jesus and onto anything else. Our circumstances, ourselves, even him! If you turn away from Jesus to rebuke the devil, you just made yourself vulnerable. Keep your eyes fixed on the King of Kings, and let His Spirit fight for you!

Here are some truths from the Word of God. 

You are a child of God.    - 1 John 3:1, Romans 8:14-17
He will not abandon you.    - John 14:18, Hebrews 13:5
He is with you (You are not alone)    - Matthew 28:20
You are loved by Him.       -  Jeremiah 31:3
You were bought with a price.    - 1 Corinthians 6:20
You are valuable to Him!      - John 3:16
You are an overcomer!        - 1 John 5:4
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.     - Psalm 139:14
You are a new creation.     - 2 Corinthians 5:17
God does not remember your sin.   - Psalm 103:12, Micah 7:19

But I would encourage you, anytime you are feeling attacked, first of all, do not ignore it! Do not excuse it! 'Oh, I've just been under a lot of stress lately.' or 'It's because so and so said such and such to me.' Do not blame people, the devil can use people in our lives to attack us. Remember our fight is not against flesh and blood! Don't make excuses, get ready to fight! Acknowledge that you are under attack and ask God to help you. I like to sit down with my journal and my Bible. I will write in one column all the things the devil is saying to me. We know if he is saying it, it is a lie because Jesus said he is a liar and the father of lies.

He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
John 8:44 (NIV)

So, I write what I am feeling down, and write next to it (in another column) the opposite truth, God's truth. You can even cross out the lie if you want. Many times the Holy Spirit will give me verses to back up those truths! You can use the ones I have given you here, but I encourage you to sit at His feet, because He will speak truth over you personally and that is much more powerful than taking my word for it. Let the Holy Spirit counter those lies with truths. It will shift your perspective. An example from my own journal is:

I am not a a failure - You have given me victory!
I am not hopeless - Jesus is my eternal hope!

The question I have come to face is who am I going to agree with? The devil? Myself? What people say about me? Or what the God of the universe who created me and bought me with a terrible price says about me? 

Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true.
Romans 3:4

A friend once spoke to me about labels. In the sales industry there are rules about labeling, the only person who has the right to put a label on something is the creator, or the owner (the one who purchased the item). So, even I do not have a right to label myself! Only God, my creator, and my purchaser, has the right to label me. And he calls me lovely, glorious, wonderful, child... Consider this in your own life. 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. 
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)

In closing, here is a song that is so powerful, it really speaks to me anytime I am struggling with my identity. I hope it speaks to you, and I hope this entry helps you fight back and accept who you are, a wonderful and valued child of God.

*All verses quoted are in the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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