Challenge, Healing, Identity, Insecurity, Parents

Your Destiny

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 28

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! 

I John 3:1

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. Psalm 139:17

There is this scripture: “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!  I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of the sand!  And when I wake up, you are still with me!  (Psalms 139:17, 18 NLT)

It is difficult for us to conceive that God thinks about you and me.  That His thoughts toward us outnumber the grains of sand.  The God who moves the wind, who brings the spring rain, who blankets the earth with freshly fallen snow and who named every star known and unknown to man also knows every breath you breathe.  He knows every detail of your life.  There is no need to ever feel insignificant, small, rejected or less-than anyone or anything because the God of the universe loves you with an everlasting love.  (See Jeremiah 31:3.) 

Pastor Craig Groeschel wrote in his book, Alter Ego, “The way God made you was not by chance or accident.  You are divinely inspired, with his divine intention to guide you.  Once you begin to grasp who you are—and whose you are—you begin to understand why you’re here and what to do.”  You are not an accident!

What has captured your heart?  What is your number one priority in life? The answer to that question will tell you what you value most.  It will tell you where your heart is at in relation to your search for personal identity.  Please remember in this search, your Creator has never given up on you, never rejected you and never has He said that you are too far gone.  He created each of us with a purpose, with a destiny and He is longing, He is waiting for the “big reveal party” in each of our lives.  What potential does He see in you?  Where does He desire to take you?  Where has He called you in life?  These questions all connect to the identity He has placed within you.

To follow God’s pathway, we must first know Him, know that He is good.  We must trust Him and we must identify Him as our Lord and King.  He desires nothing between us; nothing to hold us back.  However, there is an area, a major area that I often see holding us back: that area is parent wounds.

It is imperative to engage in healing steps from our wounds because nothing affects the present like our past.  While we addressed this somewhat earlier in the book, taking it a step deeper will allow us to fully enter into the identity that our heavenly Father has for us.  Here’s why: we will most certainly struggle with God as our Father, a parent, if we still struggle with our earthly parents.  If we have not forgiven those wounds from our past, they will block our relationships in the present and the future, especially with God as a heavenly Father.  Throughout scripture, God uses family language: father, mother, son, daughter and children.  He created the family as the basis of every culture on earth.  It is this structure that also naturally continues the human race.  But all too often, those family relationships can provoke some of our greatest and deepest wounds.

From the book, Transforming the Prodigal Soul, author Scott Prickett writes, “Bad choices are driven by wounded souls.  I helped this young woman connect the dots between the hurt arising from abandonment by her father and her use of drugs to mask the pain.  We worked backwards…to the lie regarding her worth.  In the wound of her father’s abandonment, the lie that she was worthless and unlovable took root.  It became her truth, her identity.”

Have you allowed a past hurt to become your reality today? It can be different. In tomorrow’s devotion we will confront this area of our lives.

Question for reflection:

When you read that God thinks about you, what do you hear from Him?

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Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, Identity, Insecurity

Is Your Identity for Sale? II

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 27

I am more than a conqueror. Romans 8:37

I have been given fullness in Christ. Colossians 2:10

The gospel of John chapter 4 gives us an amazing story of insight of Jesus.  It’s a story of a woman at a well.  She had been married five times!  She had repeatedly tried to find security and identity in men. Plus, Jesus revealed to her that the man she was presently living with was not her husband.  Jesus does not say one condemning word.  He did say that drinking water will make you thirsty again, “but whoever drinks the water He gives them will never thirst again…a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”   

When the Samaritan woman asked for this water, what was Jesus’ answer?  He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”  Do you notice the dialogue going on?  “Give me the water; go get your husband.”  Jesus tells her He has living water with which she will never thirst again and she yearns for it.  

What would you do, but ask for it?  He does not answer her request in the typical way.  He puts His finger directly on the drawback in her life, the issue, her place of missing the mark, her one area that is out of control: the need of looking to men for security, identity, emotional and physical needs.  She then attempts to redirect Him in verses 19 and 20.  Jesus makes it clear that one day all will worship in spirit and in truth.  Then in verse 26, Jesus reveals Himself to her, not in a parable, not in an allegorical story, but simply saying, “I am He.”  How often was He that straightforward about who He was?

Jesus knew that she had been selling her identity to men, but He also knew an encounter with the One who could give her living water, water that would quench her insecurity and her identity thirst forever, would radically change her life.  I will never believe this meeting was accidental or a random encounter.  It was a sovereign confrontation, a meeting that was orchestrated by heaven itself because of the love of God for that one single woman at the well.

To you and to me He says, “I am He.”  I am your living water.  I am your security.  I am your identity.  I am your foundation for relationship so that your neediness issues can be resolved.  I am your healthy boundary keeper.  I am your esteem.  I am your beginning and your end.  I am your employer, your real-estate agent, your banker and your lawyer.  I am your retirement, your health insurance, your accountant.  I am your father and your mother.  I am your security and I am your identity.  I am He.

Have you found Him to be all these things? It’s okay to be at the well, but it is not okay to leave The Well still thirsty. He is present to quench your thirst regardless of how you came to the well or where your heart was at when you first encountered Jesus. He speaks to you today, “I am He.”

Question for reflection:

When you consider Him as the “I am” in your life, what do you know to be true about your identity?

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Challenge, Encouragement, Identity, Insecurity, Issues of the Day

Is Your Identity for Sale?

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 26

I am seated with Christ in heavenly realms. Ephesians 2:6

I am loved with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3

I am qualified to share in the inheritance of the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:12

Imagine that you lived 2000 years ago and you just recently heard of this One named Jesus and most of what you have heard has been negative.  In some strange way, this man and the controversy that surrounds Him intrigues you.  You would love to meet Him and you think about traveling to His town.  

The thought leaves you until one day you hear that He is coming to your region and your town is in an absolute uproar. There are so many questions, so many reports circulating; why is He coming; will you see Him; will He see you?  You determine to get to the Main Street to get a closer look; you see the crowds making their way toward you and here He comes.  A strange anxiety and nervousness intensify within you as you anticipate His closeness. 

Suddenly, He’s right there in front of you and He looks your way.  You want to look down, but don’t know why.  In reality you can’t look anywhere but straight at Him.  Surprised, He’s looking straight at you—eye-to-eye.  You don’t know how to describe the feeling: His eyes, are warm, inviting, questioning.  You can’t look away; you’re undone, you’re lost in His presence and your heart is pounding.  He opens His mouth to say something, but to you it’s all in slow motion as you hear the words, “Come follow me.”  You want to say, “Who me?” but you can’t utter a word.  Without thinking, you find one foot going in front of the other and you are, in fact, following Him.

His latest teaching is strange, like He’s going somewhere that you cannot come.  You feel almost rejected, pushed out of the nest.  Being thrust into the future without Him is incomprehensible and unimaginable.  For you there’s no going back, no return.  You have caught something from Him and there is now no other way to live life.  It’s even stranger how He prays these days.  His prayer focus has shifted to something about returning to the Father and sending another to be with you and your eleven friends.  You don’t desire another; you desire only Him.  

You remember that first glance on Main Street and how His eyes met yours.  You remember feeling unclean but accepted, all at the same time.  You reflect on so many things now, things that you took for granted over the past three years.  “Go away, Jesus?  Where would you be going and why would you be going away from us?  We gave everything to follow you.  We gave up our businesses and our families.  We gave up our homes and our belongings.  We gave these things up to follow You and now You leave us and promise another?”  You scream inside, “I don’t want another. I want You.”  You go off to pray and He goes off to pray. 

Where did Jesus end and His disciples begin?  Where did His disciples end and He begin?  The relationships are so interwoven in this story and yet there is such clarity of who you are and whose you are.  Even though Jesus walked with these men for over three years, He did not request of the Father to bring them with Him or to stay a while longer with them.  Jesus knew who He was and He knew whose His disciples were.  He was not comparing Himself with the Father or in competition for the relationships.  He was not jealous or possessive of His disciples’ relationships with His Father and neither did He try to manipulate His Father’s plan.   Jesus did what He came to do and now He was leaving earth without His disciples.  (See John 17.)

Even though the Father had given these relationships to the Son, the Son respected the boundaries given Him and handed them back to the Father.  (See John 17:10 – “All I have is yours, and all you have is mine.”)

Walk with Him today. He does see you and you can see Him. You are His and He is yours.

Question for reflection:

What were you feeling as you read today’s devotional and placed yourself in the midst of the story?

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Challenge, Identity, Insecurity, Issues of the Day

You are Uniquely You II

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 25

I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live. Galatians 2:20

I have been given all things that pertain to life. II Peter 1:3

Have you ever experienced something in your past and then either externally or internally responded with the expression, I’ll never let that happen again?  Or perhaps your response was, No one will ever get close enough to hurt me that deeply in the future.  By doing so, you are literally speaking words over yourself, inhibiting your present and your future.  These words can become spoken vows, bringing destruction to future relationships and yourself.  

When you repeat the words, “I will never… again,” you are attempting to shield yourself from future hurt, but what you are actually doing is speaking curse-filled words over your present and your future.  In other words, those present-day words spoken from broken, hurtful relationships in your past have a profound effect upon your future connections.  

Victims remain victims because they harbor unforgiveness that has turned into bitterness.  Victims live out this bitterness on an ongoing basis by reliving the hurt and the pain and then telling themselves the person or persons who hurt them, who abused them or who took advantage of them deserve justice and do not deserve their forgiveness.  

It may sound harsh, but victims remain victims by living in their victimization – it keeps them in the past.  Victims do not need to change to create a better future, because we enable victims today to stay victims.  Too often, victims view themselves as powerless people, powerless to change and create a better future.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

One of the most significant ways to be a victor today and in the future is through forgiveness.  To forget your past is not humanly possible, and the more traumatic the event it was, the less chance of forgetting.  But forgiving is a choice you can make that releases you and the one who hurt you so that you can live victoriously in the present and the future.  Isaiah reminds us to forget the past, to not dwell on the former things so we can see what God is up to today and tomorrow.  (Isaiah 43:18, 19) It is not possible to clearly see tomorrow through the cloudy lens of the past.  

But one thing I do (present): Forgetting what is behind (past) and straining toward what is ahead (future), I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (present/future).  (Philippians 3:13, 14)

And Jesus told us, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you (past/present), your heavenly Father will also forgive you (present/future).  But if you do not forgive men their sins (past/present), your Father will not forgive your sins (present/future).”  (Matthew 6: 14, 15)

True forgiveness allows us to live in freedom today because we no longer hold onto anything from our past.  Forgiveness is not a natural act; it is an act of God in our lives.  It is letting go of revenge or the thought of getting even.  

Lastly, true forgiveness will eventually allow me to forget the wrong.  Deep wounds can lose their sting long before the mind forgets.  When we suffer a deep cut, we tend to it immediately.  We require an x-ray, injections to numb the pain, and it is eventually sewn up.  Antibiotics are administered, a tetanus shot is certain, and the wound is watched for weeks to come.  When it comes to emotional wounds we often administer a little bit of, “Oh, it’s not very deep, it doesn’t hurt, and it doesn’t need any spiritual attention.”  

For each of us to be distinctly and uniquely who we are created to be, forgiveness is an essential ingredient.

Question for reflection:

In what ways have you ever expressed spoken vows out of hurt or abuse, hoping to control the world around you so that the wounding does not continue?

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Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, Identity, Insecurity, Issues of the Day

You are Uniquely You

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 24

I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. Ephesians 1:3

I am the temple of the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 6:19

Every decision we make is made through our past experiences, our present desires and thoughts or our future wants or needs.  God has created us with the capacity to think within all three of these realms or dimensions.  The memory capacity of our brains is simply amazing, as it provides for us the knowledge needed from past experience for decision making today.

Just imagine if we lacked memory.  We would not know how to drive home from work today.  We would not know or be able to identify our spouse in the morning when we wake up.  We would have to start each new day reading a memory log from the day before: who we are, where we live, where we work or go to school.  Life would function so differently.  We can conclude memory is not only necessary for life, it provides so much wonderful meaning to life.

The Bible says what we sow, we reap (See Galatians 6:7, 8.).  What I sow today, determines the return I will have on that seed tomorrow.  If I desire a certain crop in the future, then I have to sow that seed today.  Not one farmer expects to reap where they have not sown, but every farmer fully expects to reap where they have sown.  You may expect to be a millionaire one day in the future, but if you do nothing and place no effort toward that goal today, you will never see it.  It is easy to then become deceived into thinking you’ll win the lottery or inherit that million, but without earning it.  The scriptures describe this type of gain as ill-gotten treasure.  (Proverbs 10: 2)

Do you want to live in health in your latter years?  Take measures today to exercise and eat healthy because when reaching tomorrow, today will be the past.  Do you desire to be free of pain from your past?  Then do something about it today and forgive those who have hurt you and bless those who have cursed you.  

Unfortunately, I experienced a lot of cavities as a child.  My family did not use toothpaste with fluoride in it.  Fluoride wasn’t even marketed in those days.  My trips to the dentist were fear-filled and excruciating.  Today, I pay the price of dealing with crowns to save my teeth.  My past dental care affects my present oral condition and will continue to affect my future.  

You just cannot separate these three: the past, the present and the future.  But you can start making decisions in alignment with God’s word and His direction for your life.  A better decision today means a better outcome tomorrow.  A destructive decision today means certain pain in our future.

For example, are you a worrier?  I mean, does your mind immediately go to the exercise of worry when an unknown is surfacing?  Or, is your response to a present worrisome issue one of going to your heavenly Father in prayer and trust?  One response is trusting and relying upon yourself and your capacity to worry (needing to solve the issue yourself) and the other is trusting God and His capacity to intervene both in the here-and-now and the future.  Philippians 4: 6,7 reminds us to not be anxious and if we’ll petition God along with giving thanks, the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.  Peace does not follow worry; it follows prayer and trusting God, literally giving our worry to God.  (See Psalm 37: 1-8.)

Question for reflection:

If you find yourself to be a worrier, how does your worry affect your present-day life?

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Encouragement, Identity, Insecurity

My Story

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 23

I am chosen by Him. I Thessalonians 1:4

I am rescued from the power of darkness. Colossians 1:13

I am now God’s child. I John 3:2

When we’re struggling to know who we are and why we exist, a sin-filled lifestyle will not take us in the right direction. Yet, self-destructive ways seem to come to us so easily, so naturally.  How do we ever think that partying, stunting our personal emotional growth through alcohol or drug use, hurting loving relationships around us help in any form or fashion?  What makes us think there is anything “normal” about this style of living on the edge or living so dangerously?  In fact, what it does do is reinforce how worthless we are, how valueless we are and how unhealthy we are.  It accentuates the negative self-hatred that we’re continually dealing with and it can become permanently destructive.  

Insecurity and the lack of any identity plagued me.  I never knew who I was, how I fit, why I existed or if I even wanted to or should exist.  For the two summers before graduation from high school, I was hanging out at the beach.  It was there that I heard the gospel for the very first time.  A young, blond haired girl that I was particularly attracted to went on a date with me and began to talk to me about Jesus.  Granted, once in a while I attended my local mainline denominational church in my home community, but I never heard the things that this young girl was about to tell me.

She told me I needed a personal relationship with Jesus.  She told me He was coming back again.  She told me He literally died on a cross for my salvation.  She told me He would change my life if I accepted Him.  All of which I did not argue against because I wanted a relationship with her.  I would tell her, rather manipulatively, that I agreed on all points and that I was cool with God, honestly hoping, all the while, that He was cool with me.

But it was the words of this girl, her passion, her excitement about a living relationship that attracted me to Him within her.  I don’t really know why, but from somewhere deep in my soul or my spirit, I was hungry for this truth.  I was hungry for the real and I desperately wanted God to be real.  

It was December of 1971 and I was receiving one last letter from the blond girl which included a gospel tract about “being saved.”  Oh, how I wanted to be saved, whatever that really meant.  How I wanted to escape the reality of my home and family.  How I longed to fill the huge void in my life.  I didn’t know how it would be possible.  I simply was not raised with faith outside of my grandmother’s words and prayers.

I would read the tract, then throw it down and say to myself, “Oh, I wish” or “Yeah, right…too good to be true.”  Nights later I would pick it up and read it again.  Finally, one night, around midnight, I, with little to no faith, but with huge desire, got down on my knees beside my bed and I prayed, Jesus, I am not sure if any of this is true.  I am not sure of your love, but please forgive me of my sin, my hatred for my father, my bitterness, my anger at You and whatever else I need to let go of to receive You into my heart.  Please change me!

To hate is easy.  To disregard and abandon is natural, but to love, to forgive, to have hope for a lost soul is supernatural.  As a youth, tormented by my father’s out-of-control rage, I wanted him to die or leave our family never to be seen again. Post conversion, I would only long for his redemption.  My heart was being healed and that resulted in an in-depth healing of who I was and who I was to become. Unforgiveness is certainly a road we can take, but it comes with a heavy emotional, physical and spiritual price.  

Question for reflection:

What is your salvation story?

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Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, Identity, Insecurity, Issues of the Day, Men, Pornography, Women

Sexual Brokenness II

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 20

For freedom Christ has set me free. Galatians 5:1

I have the mind of Christ. I Corinthians 2:16

God has always said “Yes” to sex because He is the creator of it.  He has some very clear boundaries with that yes because He has our best interests in mind.  We do not have the right to rewrite or change His word according to our feelings.  

In the Old Testament, one of the priest’s areas of responsibility was to “teach [the] people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.” (Ezekiel 44:23) It seems that ever since the fall of man recorded in Genesis 3, we think we have a better way than God and are out to prove Him wrong, except that we keep getting deeper and deeper into trouble.  We bend the rules further and further away from His moral code, and daily we suffer the consequences of those selfish choices.

Sexual brokenness is a worldwide epidemic, with human sex trafficking as the newest form of slavery to plague our world.  Our insatiable desire for “sexual freedom” has led us right back to slavery in order to feed our base desires.  How much more wicked can our world become than to take fellow human beings, sell them into the sex trade, and then discard them as though they were worthless?  The heart of God surely must be broken over such depravity.

If there is no line drawn for our culture, our nation and our lawmakers, then how do we make any activity illegal or abhorrent, a “crossing over the line”? We need to uphold a standard that establishes that line.  That standard must come from outside of our personal desires and emotions, otherwise it becomes what is right for me and too bad for you.

To add to the tragedy of our day, we have something called pornography.  At one time it was difficult to obtain, as one had to visit seedy places to purchase it.  Today, all we need to do is turn on our phone or computer and, voila, we have any form of destructive, degrading, demeaning and devaluing film that we desire to view.  The incidents of pornography use are decimating today, starting with children in grade school.  It is highly addictive.  It has destroyed individual lives and it has shattered whole families. 

By viewing pornography, you are feeding an industry of sex trafficking, disease and death.  You are destroying your mind, your soul and polluting your spirit.  It takes the sexual gift that God gave to us and perverts it for short-term gratification and lust-filled pleasure.  If you are viewing pornography, you are tearing down any sense of esteem and identity that God is desiring to build within you.  There is nothing redemptive within this sin-filled habit and I appeal to you to seek immediate help so you can leave the grips of this tormentor. 

The Apostle Paul, a man who at one time zealously persecuted Christians, had a dramatic encounter with the living God, and gave his life to Jesus, penned these words with Timothy, his spiritual son and co-laborer for Christ.  He encourages us to press on toward the goal for which Christ took hold of us, to forget what is behind and look ahead.  If at times we find ourselves in disagreement, God will make His truth clear to us if we sincerely desire to hear His voice.  As we posture ourselves with an open heart, set our minds not on our selfish desires or earthly things, He will transform our minds and our bodies so that we can be like Him.

That is our goal: to be like Him; to have His mind.  In all we think, in all we speak, and in all we do, our goal is to be like our Lord and Savior.  He gave His life so that we can walk in sexual freedom in obedience to Him. Let us live knowing that our bodies are temporary, our spirits are eternal, and that He has made a way for us to live with Him eternally. 

Questions for reflection:

Have you been able to identify any sexual brokenness from your history and how can Jesus bring freedom to you?

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Challenge, Encouragement, Identity, Insecurity, Issues of the Day

Sexual Brokenness

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 19

I am kept by God’s power. I Peter 1:5

I am in Christ Jesus by God’s act. I Corinthians 1:30

I am redeemed from the curse of the law. Galatians 3:13

When we or our culture or the “experts” link our identity to our sexuality, we are allowing our sexuality to define who and what we are.  I love this thought from the scripture that states, “For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works…”  (Ephesians 2:10) You are a product of God, not your history, not your environment and certainly not whatever lies you have been told about your sexuality and your identity.  

When the teachers of the law brought the woman who was caught in adultery (interesting to note that they did not bring the man as well, because under the moral code of the law, both had committed a crime punishable by death), they wanted to know (as a test) what Jesus would do with her.  Both they and Jesus were aware that adultery was a sin that required death according to the law.  Jesus responded that whichever one of them was without sin could cast the first stone, and as they walked away one by one, He turned to the woman and forgave her.  But He did more than forgive her; He told her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:7-11) Jesus was saying that adultery is still sin, but that He had the power to forgive the sin and cleanse the sinner.

While sexuality is tied in to who we are as a human being, it is not our identity.  What does that mean?  We are not primarily sexual beings; we are primarily spiritual beings who live in a body, have a mind, will and emotions and have the capacity to act sexually.  Our sexuality does not define us; God defines us as created in His image.  It is our spirit that is the eternal part of us and it is our spirit that is to lead the emotional, the physical and the sexual.  

For too many, Jesus has become convenient, no more than a means to escape eternal separation from God.  Meanwhile, they believe they can live according to how they personally interpret the scriptures (if they are even reading the scriptures).  We cannot say we love Jesus only to the point where His words inconvenience us, and then rewrite the scriptures to match our personal beliefs.  Jesus was a reformer, a revolutionary who taught an inconvenient reality.  Even in our culture today, if you or I believe what He taught, it will be inconvenient.  In fact, Jesus warned us that as He was persecuted for what He exposed and taught, we would be as well. (See John 15:18, 19.)  

True freedom is possible for any sin or sickness that human beings have had to face since the third chapter of Genesis.  While the Old Testament exposes the sin, the New Testament provides the truth of the Incarnate One, the Redeemer of this sin.  The Old Testament scriptures are vital to understanding the New Covenant.  It is the old that makes a way for the new.

Too often Christians believe there is no need to read the books of the law or the major and minor prophets.  “That was the Old Covenant,” they repeat, “and we are under a New Covenant.”  But this statement is only partially true.  You cannot have a new without the old.  Jesus Himself walked on this earth under the Old Covenant, and He addressed the need for the Law of Moses.  He taught this law, and He walked in obedience to it. When Jesus was placed upon the cross to die for all of mankind, it would be the dividing mark for the Old and the New Covenant.  We are grateful for the old, all the while we live in the new. It was an act of the Father to bring us to His Son as we are made free from sin and death by God’s power.

Question for reflection:

Reflect on this statement: “You are a product of God, not your history, not your environment and certainly not whatever lies you have been told about your sexuality and your identity.”

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Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, Identity, Insecurity, Issues of the Day

Healing A Damaged Soul’s Identity II

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 18

I am without blemish. Colossians 1:22

I am reconciled to God. II Corinthians 5:18

One day my wife, Mary, who is an RN, came home from work with a smattering of black spots under each of her eyes.  I questioned her about what in the world happened at work.  She told me, “Oh, you know all those white spots, age marks, I had under my eyes?  Well, I had the doctor burn them off.”  I told her I had never seen any white spots but that those black spots were far worse. 

Mary saw those spots every time she looked in the mirror.  Not everyone noticed them, not even her husband, but she did.  We tend to look at a picture of ourselves and see blemishes: the crooked nose, the mole, the scar or the receding hair line. The same is true of our emotional blemishes and past sins.  We “see” and recall our selfish behavior, our sinful sexual exploits and our insecurities.  The evil one even reminds us of them.

Colossians says it this way, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.”  (Colossians 1:17-23)

Once again the word of God confirms that it is not what we can do, but what He has already done for us.  We were far from God and our identity was lost in so many unmentionable ways.  We were actually living a life in which we acted as enemies of God, perhaps even cursing His name.  But then through His sacrifice on the cross, He presents us holy, without blemish and free from accusation!

There are two distinctions concerning human connection – godly, as well as ungodly.  We can bond with the good, the godly and with the ungodly.  “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character,” states Paul in I Corinthians chapter fifteen.  (See also Proverbs 22:24, 25.)

This attachment with one another is a connection God created in each of us in order to care for, minister to, be a friend with, counsel, employ, be employed and be married.  We are not islands.  Within our relationships we are honestly walking out Romans 12: 10 – “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”  When this love and honor occurs, we are responding as Jesus asked us to respond to each other; it is a positive, healthy, godly soul connection.

But there is a negative, ungodly and unhealthy soul connection which each of us encounter and we must be aware of.  Galatians 5:15 warns us, “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”  Soul connections can carry destruction and injury. 

Because you are reconciled to God through Christ His Son, your heavenly Father sees you as without blemish. The next time you look into a mirror, try speaking this very affirmation, “I am without blemish; it’s the way my Father sees me.”

Question for reflection:

Do you carry any negative, ungodly or unhealthy soul connections and how will you break those connections?

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Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, History, Identity, Insecurity, Issues of the Day

Healing A Damaged Soul’s Identity

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 17

I am the head and not the tail. Deuteronomy 28:13

I am forgiven. I John 2:12

Regardless of what has happened to you in your past, those things do not define who you are today.  Your pain-filled memories, your losses, rejections, embarrassments and shame are all a moment in time.  They are moments that fill you with heartache, unforgiveness and bitterness or they have worked to create a better you.  You have either embraced them as truth and told yourself your worth and value are determined by those things or you have embraced the experience of them, sought healing through them and grown tremendously by allowing them to grow you into a deeper, more forgiving, more grace-filled and more loving, genuine person.

You have been given one life to live on this earth and it’s up to you how you will live it.  If you allow anyone else on earth to determine how you will live, then you have sold yourself to another.  It is God who has given you life and breath, not anyone else. 

Every day people are born and every day people die.  You have been given a gift of life and it’s up to you what you make of it.  You can live in history, the present or in constant hope of a better future; it’s up to you.  

If you choose to live in history, then you most likely are choosing to live in unforgiveness. Unforgiveness gives birth to brokenness, being stuck in life, the loss of freedom, physical illnesses, depression, bitterness, anger, self-pity, self-torment and the like.  Living in unforgiveness is an anguishing way to live life.  It holds us in bondage to others. I believe it was author and speaker Joyce Meyer who said that to hold onto unforgiveness is like drinking poison in hopes that the one who you cannot forgive dies.  It only hurts you.  Unforgiveness is certain death to any sense of wholeness and identity.

Counselees would often say to me, “You have no idea what I have been through” and they were right.  But you will not move forward if you stick with that excuse.  You will be stuck forever in history.  Listen, it is not about what we have been through; it’s about who He is in you for yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Does that mean we are in denial of our past?  No, it does not.  But if you are waiting for an apology from that person who hurt you, you might be waiting all of your life.  That confession may never come. Those tears of sorrow for hurting you might never surface.  Then what?  If you keep waiting, placing your life on hold, you have become a captive of the person or persons who hurt you.  You have empowered them to control your life and your emotions.  You have made them more powerful than yourself and more powerful than God.  You are allowing them to determine who you are and what you are.  

Jesus is as concerned about your future as He is your past and the Holy Spirit desires to move you on.  No one created by God was designed to live life looking backwards, constantly filtering everything that happens today through what happened to them yesterday.

Jesus said that we were to forgive as we have been forgiven.  Have you ever needed forgiveness?  How many persons have you hurt, have you damaged?  Every one of us are in desperate need of forgiveness. We are commanded to live in forgiveness. 

Question for reflection:

Are you in any way stuck in the past, bound to people who have hurt you?

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