Your Identity

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Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.                   John 1:12-12 NIV

It’s extremely easy to lose our identity, furthermore, to find ourselves searching all over to find out who we are. We hear stories on the news and we see it in the people we associate with. Additionally, we certainly deal with it in a very private as well as personal way as we hear voices, voices which tell us and then are projected into the world. We tell the world what we think about ourselves and don’t think for a minute we’re fooling the entire world. We may fool some people, but overall, we aren’t fooling everyone.
We hear the voices in our heart, spirit and mind telling us good and bad. We hear the good from those who really love and care for us, we hear that good from God — yet we tend to believe the bad which comes from Satan and from those who don’t care for us. We hold onto that bad stuff.
We hear things like . . . you’re
Not good enough, Not smart enough, Not attractive enough
Not skinny enough, not rich enough, not smart enough, not athletic enough, Not from the right family, We’re told we’re not enough! And countless other lies. Hearing those lies long enough and your identity will be formed by it. You feel rejected. Eventually you believe you’re not enough. The voices which shape our identity begin early in life, from the moment we are born. Those words and thoughts stick! Don’t they? They play like a broken record. I know I’ve heard them. I was reminded I wasn’t good enough too many times.
As much as we think we can overcome them, they come back and haunt us. You remind yourself, they were right, I’m no good, not good enough.
Then we begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. We realize in our heart, spirit and mind we need Jesus to help us through life. Yet we sin. We know this fact and the world knows it, and we think we’re worthless; unlovable. I’ve committed too many terrible sins. My sins exempt me from God ever loving me. So, I question if Jesus would die for me. Maybe He’d die for a Saint but certainly not a sinner. I’m not good enough.
That’s where we get it wrong friends. You see, there’s nothing we’ve done which is so bad that God cannot forgive us and bring us into His family. Humanly speaking, some may never forgive you, divinely speaking, we have a God who is not human! Thank God for that!! And He can and will forgive you . . . if you ask.
So, whatever you’ve done in your life up until this very second, know that God wants to be in a relationship with you. He loves you, He died for you. In 2 Peter 3:9, as Peter wrote about the return of Christ, he said, The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
That’s God’s desire for us. God doesn’t want you to think you cannot be loved and embraced by Him. Peter tells us repent, turn away from your sin. Turn to God and God will embrace you in a life changing relationship, he will change you and I from the inside, out. He wants you in His family. There is not a wall which is meant to keep you away, the door is always open, the lights are always on. But, we must receive Christ.
To receive this blessing from God, we must except Jesus for who is truly is, the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, the “Great I Am” What Paul wrote to the church in the book of Ephesians was readily understood but is often missed by us. Paul tells us in the book of Ephesians 1:5-6 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will-to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us the one he loves. Paul wanted the Ephesians to remember their identity. He wrote, in love he predestined us for adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.
It was God’s great joy to adopt us into His family. God didn’t have to, He wanted to. What is your primary identity? God adopted you — do you understand that? If you believe in Jesus, you understand you don’t earn God’s love. God loves you because of who you are and who you will yet become in His kingdom. In Ephesians 2:4-5 Paul tells us, but because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace you have been saved. Also in the same chapter 8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God- not by works so that no one can boast. John Wesley the founder of the Methodist Movement summons up grace in three parts-Prevenient Grace, the grace that surrounds us: is the grace that comes to us before we know God. God showers it upon all people whether they are aware of it or not. Justifying Grace- The Grace that makes our brokenness whole. Justifying Grace brings a big change to the relationship we have with God. We come to acknowledge our sinfulness and trust that we are forgiven by God’s grace. Justifying Grace is when God reaches out to a person through Jesus Christ with accepting and pardoning love.
Sanctifying Grace- Smoothing out the rough edges. Prevenient Grace is God meeting you at every corner, Justifying Grace is God reaching out to you with love, you turn a corner in your faith journey. Sanctifying Grace challenger’s believers to go deeper in faith, to love the world energetically, and to keep growing in the knowledge and love of God.
So, Paul was telling the people this — — If you have come to know Jesus, your most defining moment isn’t who threw you out BUT who took you in. God picked you out, picked you up, and took you home. God did that for you!! He was willing to die for you, so you would never again have to face rejection from the world. He wanted you to be part of His family, even when nobody else did!
There were so many issue facing the churches then as well as so many different problems we face today. Paul tells them as well as us of today, we need to change our ways, he reminds them they belong! Their most defining moment is not who threw you out, but who brought you in. If you heard the call of God and responded to Christ, you need to know He picked you out, picked you up, and brought you home. He adopted you. You’re family! Let that sink in. Remind yourself, God adopted me. Hold onto those words, believe them! The term redemption was also a trade word. In Ephesians 1:7, Paul wrote ~ 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.
Jesus paid the price for you and me by his suffering on the cross. That was the purchase price. Christianity is not about doing enough for God so he finally loves you. No, God buys us — redeems us — through the blood of Jesus hanging on the cross: “In him we have redemption through his blood—the forgiveness of sins.” God doesn’t need to punish you for your sins, somebody else was already punished for them.
In Ephesians 1:13, Paul wrote, 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 of the Holy Spirit.
Paul is reminding them, when they believed in Jesus – – – they were marked with a seal of the Holy Spirit.
We need to know and believe our identity in Christ. Whatever happens that is not good in your life. You name it! Maybe you’re in it right now. Know that you are His! You are the King’s child! The Lord of life, the God of all Creation, the Lord of the Heavenly Armies . . .
He loves you . . . He adopted you, He redeemed you, He sealed you. You are His! That my friends are your primary identity . . . You are a child of the Highest God, Jesus, the Christ!
And that is freeing. I don’t have to earn my way in, I don’t have to buy my way in, when life is a struggle I don’t have to buy junk to satisfy me, because I am the Lord’s.
When I remember that I’m loved, I serve differently. When I remember that I’m loved, I love differently. When I remember who I am, I give and live differently.
When I find myself in one of those moments when I’m buying something I don’t need and I think, What am I doing here? Why do I do what I do? Chances are, I’ve forgotten who I am.
When I find myself leaving a conversation and think — Was it necessary to rip into that person and bring them down? Chances are, I’ve forgotten who I am.
When I find my blood pressure rising over something really, really stupid and think, You don’t understand me! Why don’t you agree with me? Chances are, I’ve forgotten who I am. When I remember who I am, when I settle this identity thing, and when I remember it, I’m free to give grace, because I’ve received grace. I’m free to give love, because I’ve received love. I’m free to serve, because God has served me and lavished His mercy on me. When I remember who I am, I live differently. Just as the people of Ephesus needed to remember their identity, we too need to remember who we are. Knowing our primary identity as children of God, bought by the blood of Christ.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

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“Father, Forgive Them”

Luke 23

Two other men, both criminals were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with two criminals, one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the chosen One.”            Luke 23:32-35

The seven times Jesus spoke on the cross are like seven windows that gave us insight into the mind and heart or our dying Savior. In the first three, our Savior elaborates on the love in His heart for His enemies, the two thieves on the cross and also His mother Mary. 

Today, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we reflect on these words, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing. The crucifixion was a brutal act that was not only accompanied by humiliation and scorn, but also by terrible suffering. In those moments of Jesus’ deepest agony, Christ speaks not a curse but a prayer, not a prayer of vengeance, but of sympathy and forgiveness. It is unbelievable by true.!

However, Jesus has a haven amid his suffering: His Father. His Father is also our Father. In our worst grief we can pray to Him. Jesus prays a prayer of compassion. “They don’t know what they are doing!” Jesus prays for others, not for himself. He makes excuses for them rather than condemning them. He preached it, now He was doing it. It was a test of discipleship. He loves us until the very end. His prayer includes everybody: “Father, Forgive them.: And to this day, Jesus intercedes for us. We learn to receive and grant forgiveness at the cross.

Dear Jesus, by your wounds we are healed, thank you for your great sacrificed in our place and your forgiveness of our sins even when we don’t deserve it. Help us to forgive others the way you have forgiven me.                       Amen

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

How To Forgive

 

Matthew 18   Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”                               Matthew 18:22

It was a rabbinical doctrine that a person had to forgive their fellow man three times. They believed that God’s forgiveness covered three transgressions and that he punished the fourth. Peter, the rash disciple with his impulsive nature, answered his own questions by saying that we should forgive seven times. Peter expected Jesus to compliment him, but Jesus answered that the Christian should forgive seventy times seven. there is indeed no limit to the Christian’s forgiveness.

Jesus tells the story of a servant who was forgiven an enormous debt, yet soon afterwards he had no mercy on a fellow servant who owned him a much smaller debt. This message runs through the entire New Testament like a golden thread: You must forgive others to be forgiven yourself. Those who cannot forgive others dare not expect God’s forgiveness. Godly and human forgiveness must go hand in hand.

In Jesus’ story the fact that stands out in the size of the two people’s debt. The point Jesus is making here is that nothing we do can be compared to what humankind did to God. If God forgives us our sins, we must also forgive others. We were forgiven an enormous debt that we would never have been able to pay, because our sins brought about the death of the Son of the Living God. We can find mercy in God’s eyes only if we forgive others like God forgave us.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Reflecting God’s Love

Proverbs 27.pngTherefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothes yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through him.                                                 Colossians 3:12-17

The Apostle Paul was in a Roman prison when he wrote to the church in Colossae. False teachers were coaching the Colossians to worship angels, and follow special rules and ceremonies. Paul corrected this thinking through his letter, stressing that faith in Christ is sufficient for salvation and that nothing needs to be added to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

As we read these word today from Colossians I begin to think the reflection that you would see over a lake. One of green trees, and a beautiful sky with clouds, these and others are a reflection of God’s beautiful creation. But it also make me think and perhaps you as well, the Bible teaches us how to live by the example of Jesus Christ, He loved the poor, reached out to the sick, and forgave those who hurt him, even when he hung on the cross his words were “Father Forgive them” I ask myself why is it so hard to live like Jesus. Perhaps my soul becomes stress out in the heat of the moment, and instead of taking a moment to breathe in God’s grace and then breathe out praises, I just begin at times lashing out and not taking the time to stop and think.  When I stumble along my faith journey I try to remember to stop ask God for help, and the best way is just to stop and pray, simply talking with God. When I take the focus off of myself and turn to Jesus I see that my own way of thinking can be wrong and he will guide me back on course. And overtime my own reflection will be the reflection within my heart as I become more like Jesus.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Why Should I Forgive

Colossians 3 F.jpgTherefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.                                                              (Colossians 3:12-13)

This has been a difficult thing for all humans to do is to forgive someone after being hurt, and more important to forgive ourselves for any and all of our short comings, and when we did something wrong. As I was reading a post from rethink church they share the following words, of why we should forgive. By forgiving someone we are choosing to let go of our pain in which we do carry and sometimes we carry that pain a long time. It is never easy to forgive anyone however when we ask Christ to help us to forgive the person that hurt us it becomes a lot easy to do. And if Jesus can forgive our sins shouldn’t we do the same?

Before the act of forgiveness can begin, there is the inward struggle of addressing the topic. Because letting go of pain and forgiving the responsible party involves both examining the wound and summoning the desire to move past anguish. Beyond even that, there is the seductive tinge of self-righteousness that comes with carrying a grudge (You hurt me. You should beg for my grace.) Rather than forgiving those who unjustly convicted him as Jesus did just before he died on a cross, the injured party would rather cry out to God, ““Forgive them not, Father, for they knew what they did!”

To live out our faith and confront our own suffering, we have to look in the mirror and ask hard questions…

Do we actually want to forgive? If not, why?

These questions form the root of the problem. As with all matters of the self, the ability to admit an issue comes first. Does a victim of bullying even want to forgive the bully? The injured party will likely feel this is unnecessary work since s/he isn’t at fault. Shouldn’t the bully apologize? The natural answer would be yes, but what if the apology never happens? The victim of the slight has his/her own decision to make. Even though time can heal a wound, the scar remains.

Maintaining a grudge requires a certain energy and a desire to indulge the pain. And the urge to engage in long-lasting self-pity may appear surprisingly attractive. That same self-pity can lock us into our current state, denying us the chance to grow spiritually and emotionally. Beyond that, bearing a grudge prevents us from experiencing greater strength and peace.

What does it say about us if we truly can move past this pain? And if we choose not to?

Forgiving does not mean forgetting. A trauma did occur, and that memory will not vanish. Yet we have control over our reaction to pain. Choosing to move past anguish draws upon a strength we often don’t know we have. In making that choice, we frequently surprise ourselves by developing a reservoir of resilience. When we forgive once, we’re more likely to summon the spiritual strength to forgive again.

What do we gain from forgiveness?

In a word, closure. Again, this does not mean erasing the memory. Rather, this is an opportunity to exercise one’s freedom and spiritual maturity and discover a lasting peace. Without releasing the pain, we can become its perpetual victim and rob ourselves of growth. Forgiveness also declares that the grace and mercy that Jesus showed on the cross is alive in us. An added benefit of forgiveness is gaining the ability to help others experience the same outcome.

Do”Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written. “It is mine to avenge, I will repay says the Lord.                       (Romans 12:17-19)

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Act of Kindness

Colossians 3.jpgTherefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive them as the Lord forgave you.                                           Colossians 3:12-13

I have preach more than once on these words from the book of Colossians that the Apostle Paul wrote while he was in prison in Rome. I had share with everyone who was in attendance, if each and everyone of us can simply do an act of kindness to someone else without expecting any form of payment or anything in return would you do it. Things like the next time you are in line say at a dunkin donuts, buy the person behind you a cup of coffee, especially at the drive thru, they don’t have the chance to say thank you (which is okay).  How about at the car wash leave enough money in the machine to allow the next person to wash there car. When you are in the food market and you see a young mother or father with a fussing child go and offer to help them in someway, and just smile in return when you are going your way. Once on my way to another church to serve there I stop for gas, then went inside to grab a cup of tea ( I enjoy tea), I started talking with a woman who works two full time jobs to keep up being a single mom, as she was in line behind me to pay, when I went up to pay for my tea, I mention to the cashier by the way how much does the woman behind me owe for her items, he told me, I said okay and I paid it for her, I never look back to say a word I just went back to my car Praising God for allowing me to show someone a act of kindness. More than a week ago as I was crossing a bridge to go into another state from the state I was in, you needed to pay a toll to cross over the bridge and so as I get up to the woman and tried to pay for myself she inform me no need for the car in front of you has paid your bill, and so I decided to do the same for the car in behind me. That little act of kindness set off a chain reaction that day, and while I was driving to where I needed to be the person in which I paid for pass me by and everyone said Thank You. Someone else has also paid the price for all of us because we are sinners, and our sin has separated us from God, and that person is Jesus Christ whose kindness and love paid the price for us all. Do one act of kindness to a complete stranger today, you will see the world in a whole new light, and well as saying thank you to Jesus our Lord and Savior who paid the price for all of our sins on the cross.

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Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Meditation in the Morning

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I Am                

There’s no space that His love can’t reach

There’s no place that we can’t find peace

There’s no end to Amazing Grace

Take me in with your arms spread wide

Take me in like an orphan child

Never let go, never leave my side

I am

Holding on to You

I am

Holding on to You

In the middle of the storm

I am holding on

I am!

Love like this, oh my God to find!

I am overwhelmed what a joy divine!

Love like this sets our hearts on fire!

I am

Holding on to You

I am

Holding on to You

In the middle of the storm

I am holding on

I am!

I am

Holding on to You

I am

Holding on to You

In the middle of the storm

I am holding on

I am!

This is my resurrection song

This is my Hallelujah come

This is why to You I run

This is my resurrection song

This is my Hallelujah come

This is why to You I run

There’s no space that His love can’t reach

There’s no place that we can’t find peace

There’s no end to Amazing Grace

I am

Holding on to You

I am

Holding on to You

In the middle of the storm

I am holding on

I am

Holding on to You

I am

Holding on to You

In the middle of the storm

I am holding on

I am

Holding on to You

I am

Holding on to You

In the middle of the storm

I am holding on

I am!

I am

In the middle of the storm

I am holding on

I am!

The storms in our lives can be very, and I mean very painful, and today early this morning thru my own tears of disappointment in human beings, these words I have sung many times before flood my mind. As I ask the why questions we all seem to ask sometime during our own life, why my Lord. Have I disappoint people in what I have done or perhaps of what I have said. The words in scriptures that have come to me more than once are as follows.

Then Peter came to Jesus and ask Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22) If we feel the need to ask forgiveness from God why then is it so difficult for humans to forgive one another. Why do we feel that it is okay to judge someone knowing we are totally far from perfect and we all have fallen short in so many ways. I praise God that he is a forgiving God especially with all of my faults and the many sins I have committed in the past or will in the future. I only wish people in general in all walk of life, would find it in their own heart to forgive each other.