Sunday, February 27, 2011

Identity in Christ (Notes from Thursday Morning)

Continuing with our topic, Covenant Identity, this past Thursday I had the privilege of sharing a warning on how satan tries to counterfeit our identity at Sisterhood Mornings at Seacoast Church. Despite that fact that we who are Christ-followers, are His children – true Princesses and Princes, the author of lies often uses three temptations to go after that identity: appetite, affirmation, and ambition.

In Matthew 4:1-11, we find Jesus in the wilderness after forty days and nights of fasting when the tempter comes against Him in these three areas. First, he tempted Jesus with food (appetite). Have you been tempted in this way? It may be with food, but it also may be a thirst for things of this world such as shopping or TV or money. Any of these things in moderation are acceptable, but when we, in our own strength, try to fill an emptiness in ourselves with these things, we will continue with a discontent spirit as only true fulfillment can come from God through the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew God would provide, so He refused the temptation. Do we trust the Father for provision or do we choose to satisfy our appetites our own way?

The second temptation we find is in affirmation. So often we seek the affirmation of others to find our identity. However, your identity has to come from the Source, your Creator, and your Heavenly Father. The truth is YOU are his child! Not a Princess/Prince of a country, a pampered one or even the Disney type, but a daughter/son of the King of kings! We must lean on Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Rather than resting in the confidence of being our Father’s Child, it can be easy to seek the approval of others, seeking quick hits of affirmation. The tempter will use this addictive process of affirmation to cripple us. We need to find the people and cycles that are our hits and remove ourselves from those places.

Lastly, ambition, performance, and success can be not only a temptation but a common addiction for women. If I do A, B, and C I am a good parent; If I do X, Y, Z I am a good spouse; If I do M, N, O I am a good Christian… and the list goes on. If our identity lies in our personal success we cannot represent God because we want to advance our own kingdom before His. We need to choose to lose, die to self! (Matthew 10:39, Phil 1:21)

As Christ-followers, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome. During the temptations, Jesus is able to remain unshaken in who He is, secure in His Father’s words to Him. Will you remain unshaken when your identity is attacked? God’s Word talks about putting on the Armor of God. All of the pieces of armor are defensive, except for one - the sword, God’s Word. We can offensively use His Word to come against attacks with truth. Looking at Matthew 4, each time that Satan tempted Jesus, he answered him with Scripture. That is our model. We must be equipped to combat the lies. Use scripture – Memorize it! Quote it! Believe it!

In conclusion, when your identity is threatened, there is an enormous opportunity for God’s Kingdom to be advanced. Where are you being tempted? How can you intentionally press into your identity as God’s child? Your Father loves you, believes in you, and is proud of you. May you walk in that knowledge.

In Christ Alone,

-God's Love Letter to You, His Child-

My child,

You may not know me, but I know everything about you (Psalm 139:1). I know when you sit down and when you rise up(Psalm 139:2), I am familiar with your ways (Psalm 139:3), even the very hairs on your head are numbered (Matt 10:29-31). For you were made in my image (Genesis 1:27). In me you live and move and have your being (Acts 17:28), for you are my offspring (Acts 17:28).

I knew you even before you were conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5). I chose you when I planned creation (Ephesians 1:11-12), You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book(Psalm 139:15-16). I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live (Acts 17:26). You were fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), I knit you together in your mother's womb (Psalm 139:13), and brought you forth on the day you were born (Psalm 71:6).

I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me (John 8:41-44) I am not distant and angry, but I am the complete _expression of love (1 John 4:16) and it is my desire to lavish my love on you. (1 John 3:1) Simply because you are my child and I am your Father (1 John 3:1) I offer you more than your earthly father ever could (Matthew 7:11) For I am the perfect father (Matthew 5:48) Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand (James 1:17) For I am your provider and I meet all your needs (Matthew 6:31-33)

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) Because I love you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore (Psalms 139:17-18) And I rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17) I will never stop doing good to you (Jeremiah 32:40) For you are my treasured possession (Exodus 19:5) I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul (Jeremiah 32:41)

And I want to show you great and marvelous things (Jeremiah 33:3) If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me (Deuteronomy 4:29) Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4) For it is I who gave you those desires (Philippians 2:13) I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:20) For I am your greatest encourager (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17) I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you (Psalm 34:18) As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart (Isaiah 40:11)

One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes (Revelation 21:3-4) And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth (Revelation 21:3-4) I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus (John 17:23) For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed (John 17:26) He is the exact representation of my being (Hebrews 1:3) He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you (Romans 8:31) And to tell you that I am not counting your sins (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you (1 John 4:10) I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love (Romans 8:31-32) If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me (1 John 2:23) And nothing will ever separate you from my love again (Romans 8:38-39) Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen (Luke 15:7) I have always been Father, and will always be Father (Ephesians 3:14-15)

My question is, will you be my child? (John 1:12-13)  I am waiting for you (Luke 15:11-32)

Your Dad. Almighty God

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Food Fight

This evening we dared to dine after church. It was always tradition for us to go to Saturday night service then go out to dinner afterwards. However, when little Daniel hit that certain age when he no longer liked to be out late and would make that known in pulic, we choose to do dinner at home before service. Forgetting what craziness it could be, we headed to Jim N Nicks (Oh, Heaven in my mouth!) around 8pm. It was crowded and there was a wait; so by the time we were seated, Daniel's patience was already used up.

After a portion of their incredible bread was enjoyed by all (especially Daniel), our food arrived. Daniel's mouth was opened like a little bird, and I could not get his 2nd dinner spooned into him mouth quick enough. (He actually got to eat before church so this was like dessert dinner for him.) The problem was that him and I usually share dinner, so he gets a bite and then I get a bite. However, tonight was different as I ordered the Kitchen Sink Nachos (oh so good!) and felt that was not quite the best dinner for him. He got their incredible homemade Mac and Cheese. That forced me to have to eat mine with my fingers, then wipe my hands, then pick up the fork, then give him a bite. Well, I just could not do this as fast as he desired. He was literally attempting to leap out of his highchair to grab the fork himself. Occassionally he even reached hard enough to grab the fork, but despite what he grabbed, he still was unsuccessful as he just coud not do a good job of feeding himself yet. I made a comment to Mark as this was occuring. I said, "He is so anxious that he is not giving me a chance to provide for Him." Right then it clicked. It was like God whispered in my ear... Do you do that Christie?

I sat there thinking how I would give Daniel exactly what he needed when he needed it. I would not fill his mouth too much that it could hurt him or cause him to choke, and I would not give him too little that it would frustrate him... I'm his Mom and want to give his exactly what is best for him. I also give it to him at the exact time he needs it... I do not shove more food in his mouth before he finishes what he has, not do I just leave him there starving. Just when he finished up his bite, I would give him another.

It made me realize that my Heavenly Father takes care of my provisions in the very same way... often not giving me too much and not allowing me to lack, but giving me just what I need exactly when I need it. The question is - am I fighting for that fork? or peacefully resting and trusting my Father to bless me?