Welcome to my latest blog! I have been hitting a certain issue that I see as problematic within the lives of followers of Jesus, so I want to hit it hard one more time (actually, it may be more than one more time!)! That issue is for those of us who follow Christ, to understand who we really are in Him! I've found that most professing followers of Jesus don't have an adequate understanding of who they are in Christ! So, let me start with this blog that tells us who God is, and when we understand who He is, hopefully we can better understand who we are!
First of all, God is PERSONAL. He formed us; He has created a covenant with us. That word “formed” was used in Gen. 2.7 to describe the creative process of making man from the dust. It’s used again in Jere. 18 to picture how a potter shapes clay. It’s really cool to see a potter get behind a pottery wheel and shape things right before your very eyes—except when that “thing” being formed is you! That’s kind of scary! But then, God affirms His absolute, total commitment to us when He says, “I have redeemed you.” In other words, He’s bought us back! In order for Him to have a relationship with us, He had to personally pay for it. He paid for us with the death of His Son, Jesus! We were bought at a great price!
His personal commitment to us is illustrated by saying, “I have called you by name.” Here at Trinity Faith Church, we are this week beginning the use of nametags for everyone who attends on Sunday Morning; if you’re like me, it’s really tough to be able to place faces with names of the people in our Church.I think that it’s important that we know who we are worshipping with, particularly as we are going to be launching our “Connect Group Ministry” over the next couple of months! But let me give you a really liberating thought: God knows our names! Each and every one who has ever been born, God knows their names! It’s not just about you and I communicating love and care to each and every person on our nametag list; it’s about you and I taking people to God! That’s incredibly freeing! In addition, God says, “You are Mine”; when I tell those Grandson’s of mine that they are “Grandpa’s boys”, that isn’t entirely accurate! Only God can make that statement with 100% honesty and integrity! In this massive sea of humanity called the human race, if you are among the many who have been redeemed…wow! God has called you by name!
God is also PRESENT. Here’s the truth about God: He is with you—especially in hardship! He is present not just in the year, or in the month, or in the day you experience hardship, He’s with you in the hour, and in the minute, and in the second—in the precise moment of heartache! I love the fact that God specifically measures our trials; His hand is on the thermostat, and the heat will be just enough to refine us! So why does God allow hardship? To show us how strong we can be in Him. Deep within each of us is this inclination toward independence. We think that we can make it on our own, and we want to prove it! Fact is, we are all very weak; in fact, I have come to believe that human strength is an illusion that God is committed to obliterating! He lovingly uses hardships and painful circumstances to teach us how badly we really need Him. The best part? We can receive the precise amount of strength that we need, provided we are willing to reach out for it! Faith will get you started in this Christian walk, but perseverance will keep you going!
Next, God is LOVING. Where in the world are Cush and Seba? They are provinces in southern Egypt. The audience that Isaiah was speaking to, in Isaiah 43, had slavery on their minds, so God references some ancient history to them. “Remember when I delivered you out of slavery?” The ransom for their freedom was the lives of the Egyptians; you remember the plagues; the Egyptian army drowning at the bottom of the Red Sea? Here’s the principle God is bringing to them, and to us: “I will deliver you at the expense of others.” This is referring to the principle of substitutionary atonement. Because of God’s holiness, He demands that sin be paid for, but out of His love for us, He allowed a substitute to take our place in paying that debt! Jesus was pure, spotless, righteous, and holy, and He deserved no judgment—but He took judgment for sin upon Himself so that we might be forgiven! He paid for the penalty of our sin! Why? “Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you.” Does God’s love make us valuable? No! There is nothing in us that makes us valuable; the fact that God values us says something about God. It says nothing about us! There’s really something incredibly liberating in that, because if it’s because we are valuable that God loves us, what happens when we fail, or when we change? Does God stop loving us? No! Our value is not in who we are, but in Whose we are. In a world where the majority of marriages end in divorce, where a career job is one that lasts more than 5 years before the company folds, or fires you, or replaces you with new technology, where people change churches like they change their underwear, we can find security in God’s love! If we didn’t earn it, and we didn’t pay for it, and we didn’t deserve it, then we’re not the ones who have to keep it going! He loves us with an everlasting love, and nothing we could ever do would cause Him to change His mind about us!
In addition, God is FAITHFUL. Even when we don’t feel it or see it—God hears us! He doesn’t always answer how we want, or when we want, but He does answer our prayers. It’s not about us saying the right words, or following some silly formula; God hears us when we pray, and He’s working in ways that are beyond our imagination! Are you interceding for someone in your family? Maybe you have a prodigal, a kid who wants nothing to do with God, and you’re praying for him or her to return? Maybe you’re praying for wisdom in how to raise your toddler? Maybe you’re praying for the protection of your College student across the country, or maybe you’re praying for the future spouse of a newborn, or praying to see a heart for Christ as your child enters High School. Maybe you’re praying for the conversion of an adult child? Whatever it is that you’re praying, keep on praying! God hears you, because He is faithful! If your heart is in a storm, let God hear from you, and let His faithfulness grip your heart with peace!
Lastly, God is PATIENT. He is patient with us; He’s not keeping tabs on how many times we’ve fallen into a certain sin; do you really think that what you’ve done shocks God? He formed you, so He knows what you’re about. He desires that we put what is past behind us, so that He can begin doing a new work in us today! That means that we must put the pain and disappointment of past failures behind us, and press ourselves in to the grip of an incredibly patient God. It has been said that “every heart that truly comprehends the reality of God’s forgiveness bursts forth in a fountain of praise that drenches everyone in the near vicinity!” Praise is more than a compliment; praise is giving honor and ascribing worth to a superior. When we praise God, we express joy in His very nature, and thank Him for His goodness. When are we to praise? We are called to bless the Lord when we see His goodness, and when we don’t! To really be gripped by your identity in God’s greatness, you must wade out of the shallow waters of self-absorption, into the deep waters of praising God at all times for all things. He formed us for that very purpose!
As you might have already guessed, I have more to say about this topic, so until next time, “walk in the liberty that you have been called into!”