Saturday, May 30, 2015

Identity

One night, back in January, I sat down and preached a sermon to my soul in bits and pieces. I reviewed it again this morning, and thought I would share it all as one piece. 


If you enjoy God's word and seeing what He has to say about things, then stay tuned tonight for a special treat. See, I believe in preaching to myself, especially when I am breathing.
Today, I had to write a sermon just to Tim, but it was so good to my soul that I am going to shrink it into bite sizes pieces and give it to my FB friends. It's called "Who Believers are and what God calls us." I'll tell you why I sought the Scriptures out for these two things... people will tell you what they think you are and who they think you are. SOMETIMES they'll ask, "Who do you think you are?" or "What do you think you're doing?" Rarely are they inquisitive; usually brusque, at best. So, my beloved friends in Christ Jesus, I have learned it's healthy to listen to another voice; to lean in and believe what God is saying, rather than being made anxious by what everyone else is saying. Anxious? Ain't nobody got time for that!
Homie don't play that. I took it to the Lord in prayer (see Philippians 4:6-7), and He reminded me of Psalm 42... "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you..." (Psalm 42:5-6 ESV) That's right! I preached to me, hoped in God and remembered His good words and works. He reminded me of who we are in Christ and what He calls us in Christ.


Who we are ... What God calls us #1
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, we are saved from condemnation. Hell is not our destiny!
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1 ESV)
Often, the enemy screams, but most of the time he simply whispers, "You're not worthy"; "you're no good"; "how dare you think God loves you!' What a big, fat-headed liar the enemy is! We who believe in Jesus are saved from condemnation! Whether the enemy whispers or screams, you remind him who you are in Christ.

Who we are ... What God calls us #2
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, we are at peace with God.
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1 ESV)
Since sin came into the world, man has been at enmity --in hate-- with God. Jesus paid the sin debt, and any who receive His payment take part in the peace He purchased for we who believe.
When the enemy preaches war, we proclaim peace. In Christ, we are at peace with the Father!

Who we are ... What God calls us #3
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, we are in possession of eternal life.
"Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life." (1 John 5:12 ESV)
People might say, "You don't deserve eternal life!" 
We can answer honestly, "You're right. Praise God, it doesn't depend on me!" 
In Christ, we are possessors of eternal life, not based on our merit, but based on His sacrifice on the cross and defeat of death.

Who we are ... What God calls us #4
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, we are made right!
"...and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," (Romans 3:24 ESV)
Many of us have experienced that overwhelming feeling that SOMETHING else needs to be done. Many of have experienced that overwhelming feeling that we simply ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Sometimes, that's the voice of the enemy. Sometimes, that's a thousand voices of our personal history collecting against us.
Friend, show them all the receipt that is CALVARY! He's paid it all! The bill has been made right. It is finished! We are justified in Christ Jesus!

Who we are ... What God calls us #5
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
"...the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe." (Romans 3:22 ESV)
We do have to face it, our righteousness is no better than filthy rags (see Isaiah 64:6). And, people will let us know it, too. We'll let ourselves know it. The enemy will definitely let us know it. God has let us know it!
Good news! In Christ, we get new clothes! YES! Hallelujah!

Who we are ... What God calls us #6
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, we are of great value.
"...for you were bought with a price." (1 Corinthians 6:20a ESV)
Just think about it...our sin was so serious that it cost Jesus His life. Likewise, our lives are so valuable, God sent His only begotten Son to redeem us. Wow!
How many times have you felt worthless? Yes, we all go through it. You are NOT worthless! In Christ, we are of great value! We were bought with a precious price!

Who we are ... What God calls us #7
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, we are made part of God's family.
"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God," (John 1:12 ESV)
It hurts not to belong. It hurts to be alone.
When God offered us Jesus, and when we accepted, we became family! We are in the Father's household. What a privilege! That's why the Spirit makes it natural for us to call Him "Abba" -- Daddy (see Romans 8:15).
I am so thankful to belong. Thank You, Jesus.


Who we are ... What God calls us #8
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, we are set apart --sanctified-- as God's special possession for God's special purposes.
"To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours" (1 Corinthians 1:2 ESV)
Uncommon. That's us. In Christ, we are not meant for the ordinary. We're set apart for God's good pleasure and purposes. The common becomes destroyed, but the set apart is carefully protected.
But, the best part of being sanctified is where God places us...IN Christ. What a wonderful place to be situated and safe.

Who we are ... What God calls us #9 
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, we are something new; something we've never been before.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)
Whatever sin has made us, in Christ Jesus, we're becoming something else. We're becoming like HIM! Wow! Listen, God sees it...He sees it completed even though sometimes we can't sense it's happening. He sees you as new; He's hidden you in His Son and when He looks, He sees Jesus...day by day, He is making you into what He already chooses to see you as.
Boom...when I think of this, I'm blown away...

Who we are ... What God calls us #10
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, we are accepted. Yes, it's another way to look at the fact that we are adopted, but let's think on it...
"...In love, he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will," (Ephesians 1:4c-5 ESV)
We aren't foster kids. We're not the always-around-neighbor kids. God has accepted us into His family. He's given us His name. He's made us His.
In a world filled with so much rejection, praise God, in Christ we are accepted by the Father!

Who we are ... What God calls us #11
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, we are qualified.
"...giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light." (Colossians 1:12 ESV)
You've had some experience in your life where you had lessons to learn, tests to pass, levels to achieve, and standards to meet before someone would say, "You are qualified." Think about your school career; that diploma says you've accomplished at least the bare minimum to graduate (you've qualified).
We'd never be qualified for heaven on our own.
We'd never be qualified for fellowship with the Father on our own. 
We'd never be qualified for righteousness on our own.
In Christ, we are qualified. In the instant we receive Him we have reached BOTH the minimum and the maximum. In the least, we must have Jesus. In Jesus, we have the most bestest greatest of good and wonderful. Yes, in Jesus, to say the least, we are qualified.

Who we are ... What God calls us #12
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, we are protected and pronounced.
"In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit," (Ephesians 1:13 ESV)
The Father calls us into the Son and the Spirit locks the door. We are sealed in Christ! That means we are protected, and neither powers above or powers below can snatch us from the Father's hand nor separate us from the Son's love. We are sealed!
We are also pronounced authentic. The Spirit testifies on our behalf (see John 3:31-36).
When Satan calls you a fake, you can refer Him to the Spirit. 
When Satan tries to snatch you, he can't crack the door open. 
In Jesus, you are safe.

Who we are ... What God calls us #13
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, we are blessed.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places," (Ephesians 1:3 ESV)
The world tempts us to keep up with the Joneses, so we must remember Him who gave life to our boneses. We're blessed. The poorest saint has a treasure in Christ that makes them richer than the wealthiest person who has Jesus not.
All that is coming to Jesus is coming to us. He has made us co-heirs to Himself and His fortune. Wow! WE ARE BLESSED!

Who we are ... What God calls us #14
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, God calls us children.
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure." (1 John 3:1-3 ESV)
Sure, as has been previously said, we are adopted, named into the family, but it's important to see what God calls us...not cousin...not a "step" child...but child.
See, friend, under sin it's true to say we are creations of God. We're all given our substance by Him and He knits each of us together in our mothers' wombs and He breathes the breath of life into each of us. But, in Christ, we move from being only-creation to both creation AND child.
When bullies come after me, because I am His child, I will call my Daddy!

Who we are ... What God calls us #15
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, God calls us servants.
"For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property." (Matthew 25:14 ESV)
God does not need us in His work, but He calls us into His work. From Him, we get holy, good and eternal purpose. We get Kingdom labor that matters and we labor at our normal labors as if unto God Himself.
"Who do you work for?" some might ask. 
We could say this company or that company.
Truth be told, God has called us servants, and HIS work and HIS company are better than all others combined!
Never let anyone tell us our labor matters not!
Who we are ... What God calls us #16
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, God calls us friends.
"No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15 ESV)
You've heard it said: you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family. In our case, God picked us for both. He wants our company.
Let that sink into your heart...
This old world makes you feel like you're not wanted. God wants you. In Christ Jesus, He calls you friend. He wants to spend time with you, hear your stories, laugh with you, comfort you as you weep, struggle beside you as you journey along; God wants you.

Who we are ... What God calls us #17
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, God calls us saints.
"To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:" (1 Corinthians 1:2 ESV)
We think that word --saints-- is reserved for old Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox guys. No, it's what God calls all who He places in Christ. We're all "set apart" --Greek: hagios; "saints"-- in Christ. That's how He sees us and that's what He calls us.
He calls us that because it speaks of our position and His intention. He has set us apart and He has set us apart; He's made us holy to make us holy.
Friend, in Jesus, YOU ARE A saint!


Who we are ... What God calls us #18
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, God calls us sheep.
"To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." (John 10:3 ESV)
That speaks to our need for leadership and His willingness for tender care.
Some, at various times, have accurately noticed that sheep aren't very smart, and it feels like a degradation to be called a sheep in that light. But, think about it, compared to the shepherd, sheep aren't so smart!
Compared to God, we aren't very sharp. But, more than that, it speaks to His willingness to patiently lead and care for us. He takes us into His flock to lead us, sure, but to protect us, too.
With God as my Shepherd, I definitely love being called a sheep!

Who we are ... What God calls us #19
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, God calls us brothers.
"For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers," (Hebrews 2:11 ESV)
Children of God, right? Right. Brothers with Jesus.
Just let that soak in.
Servants for the work. 
Saints set apart. 
Children as part of the family. 
Friends for the fellowship. 
Sheep for the tender care. 
Brothers with the Lord Jesus...
Gracious God, Almighty King...YOU are good to we who believe! We are received and accepted, loved and adopted, wanted and worthy...Just because of Jesus.

Who we are ... What God calls us #20
As believers; as people who have placed trust and faith in Christ Jesus, God calls us Christians.
"...and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians." (Acts 11:26 ESV)
The people in Antioch --probably the unbelieving people in Antioch-- gave us this name, but it was because God set these folks apart and they responded to His work by acting like His Son. So, people called them Christians --it's like saying "a little Christ".

God let the label stick. That's what He wants the world to call us. He wants us to earn this name! No matter if the world means it in derision, let us bear it in honor.

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