November 11, 2013

Who Do You Think You Are?!

“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed…” Romans 8:19

Who do you think you are?!  God knows who you are. The enemy knows who you are. Creation even longs for you to know who you are. But do you know? Do I? And what would happen if we did? How would we act? What would our lives look like?

When we really boil down most of our struggles, problems and needs it usually comes down to the question of our identity and value. It's been the question that's been asked since the beginning of time. A sense of identity and value was lost in the Garden when Adam and Eve entertained the doubts posed by the serpent about God's goodness and they believed the lie that the Father's way was inferior and His motives were suspect. They acted on that lie and chose their own path apart from His way and were driven from the presence of the One who created them, who knew them and who defined them. Thus began the search for identity and worth apart from God. 

When Moses was commissioned by God at the burning bush, his first thought was to doubt his abilities and his worthiness for such a task. It’s almost as if Moses turned around to see if God was talking to someone behind him with a, “Who me? Are You sure You got the right guy?” He questioned God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" Moses practically begged the Lord to send someone else. He just couldn't seem to believe that God had picked the right guy. God conceded in letting Moses' brother Aaron speak for him but it was obviously not His first choice.  And when Moses finally approached Pharaoh, Pharaoh fanned the flame of Moses' insecurity by asking him, “Who do you think you are?” every time Moses approached with his request. Moses’ worth and identity were attacked and questioned by Korah and Dathan and even his own brother and sister. But at some point Moses must have come to grips with it. Because there is no leader (other than Jesus of course) in Biblical history more respected than Moses. He had challenges and he had opposition but at some point in his regular conversations with God, Moses got His heart and he accepted God's calling and walked it out. And in the end, the world had no doubt about who Moses was and what God thought of him.

It’s what the enemy has always been afraid of us finding out. He is terrified of us knowing who God has declared us to be. He is terrified of us finding out our tremendous value to the Uncreated One and about the inheritance that’s ours NOW and the purpose and authority we carry in Christ. And he will pull out all the stops and plant thoughts or use people to speak his lies over us. Lies that we are failures, we are worthless, we’ve made too many mistakes, we are hopeless, we aren’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough… you fill in the blank. He causes us to question our identity so that he can lead us away from God’s plans for us. He’s afraid of God’s plan. When Jesus was in the Garden, with each temptation the devil intoned “IF You are the Son of God”, “IF You are the Son of God.” It’s the button he always pushes. It’s the target he always aims for. It’s the question that’s always raised- Who are we? He doesn’t want us to know so he attempts to place doubt and confusion. If he tried it on Jesus, we can be sure that he’ll certainly try it on us.

I want to know who God says I am. I want to stand firm and not budge when my value is questioned or I’m told the opposite. I want my default to be God’s opinion above mans and to be so rooted and grounded in His truth that nothing or nobody can shake that sure knowing. This is a challenge living in a world populated by imperfect people who are often wrong and who say stupid things. And the enemy will sometimes use the most unlikely people to speak his lies over us. He doesn’t just use wicked deviants in back alleys because they’d be too easy to spot. But he has been known to use parents, pastors, bosses, authority figures, loved ones and friends as his mouthpiece. And if we’re honest we’ll admit that there have been times he’s even used us because let’s face it- we have ALL at some point been stupid and have voiced things to others that aren’t consistent with God’s truth or His heart for them. 

Who do you think you are?

Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church in Redding California says it like this “I cannot afford to have a thought in my head about me that’s not in His.”
What is in His head about us? How do we find out? There are enough voices around us eager to express their opinions but I encourage you to really know for yourself and not just because someone told you so. You are valuable and precious to Him. But don't take my word for it either. There comes a time in our lives as Christians that we need to find out for ourselves. Ask God and read the word for yourself. God does give us teachers and pastors to guide us and this is good but their instruction was never meant to replace our own personal journey of discovery. Shepherds help by leading the sheep safely to the good grass but they don’t then chew it up, spit it out and spoon feed it to them. The sheep feed themselves. If you have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, you are fully capable of hearing from God. You may not be an ordained minister but you did not receive a smaller portion of the Holy Spirit when you believed. You got the full package!

Years ago, we were faced with a decision that affected our family. We fasted and prayed, got Godly counsel and after a while Keith and I both were certain about the direction God was leading us in and we proceeded in that direction. However, our pastor at that time and his wife met with us and basically told us that they knew what God’s will was for us in this matter and that we were wrong. Now understand, this wasn’t the type decision where we were wondering if we should engage in a life of sin or not. Rather, our decision involved personal choices like- Do we take this job or go to school? Do we move to this state or to that one? Since we had been so rigorously taught about the importance of respecting authority and to never ‘touch God’s anointed’, that after their conversation with us, we were honestly confused for a season. But with the exception of what they said to us, every single thing pointed to the fact that we had made the right decision and time proved it to be so. But during my period of confusion I shared the situation with an older saint who had walked many years with the Lord and she confidently said to me, “Kayla, you and Keith are perfectly capable of hearing from the Lord yourselves. And nobody’s going to hear clearer than you and your husband about what concerns your family.” Now that’s wisdom! Every one of God's children is capable of hearing from Him for themselves. Don't let anyone tell you any different. Kind of off the subject of identity but concerning this sort of thing that happened with our former pastor- years ago we heard a series of messages by Dean Sherman and something he said really stuck with me. It was  basically this-

Authority has its jurisdiction. On this earth there’s governmental authority, there’s church authority and there’s family authority.  A policeman has authority over you in regards to the law but in your own house, were a police officer to come in and tell you what to cook or how to run your home, he’d be out of his jurisdiction. Civil and pastoral authority doesn’t usurp a husband or a father’s authority unless he’s a danger to his family. Anyone who attempts to do that, has crossed the line of their assigned jurisdiction and has moved into control and manipulation.

All of that to say this: If you are a child of God, you are capable of hearing from Him yourself, period. Don’t doubt that. Authority is God-ordained for our protection and guidance, but never as a substitute for God’s voice.  Know God for yourself, know His word and know who you are in Him. Everyone misses it sometimes, but anyone who consistently encourages dependence on a person to hear God for you or your family, then that voice is not speaking truth and should be ignored. Don’t minimize the power of the Spirit of God living inside of you. We must know for ourselves, who we are.

I know I have only scratched the surface here but the importance of knowing what God has declared us to be is a pretty big deal. I think it’s ground zero for every single Christian and until we have a revelation of our value to God and our identity as His dearly loved children, then we are building on a foundation of sand and it will affect our entire perspective and alter the course of our lives. Just imagine how really knowing who you are (that you are a son/daughter) would change everything. A son is going to approach his Father differently than a servant. He knows he is a son and nothing or nobody can convince him otherwise and there is no hesitation or shame in approaching his Daddy. A beloved daughter knows her wise Father's plans are for her good and not for her harm and so she trusts Him and is eager to do what He says- not in order to earn His love, but because she is loved. Children who know they are treasured will likewise recognize the value of others and will view and treat them as they've been treated. A Ruler's son knows his Dad is stronger than his adversaries. He will face his enemy with confidence knowing His Daddy and all the power of heaven have his back. The King's daughter knows her Dad is rich and generous and that He delights in giving her good things. And she gives no thought to the absurdity that He would not meet her every need or provide for her. Knowing. Changes. Everything!

Determine to know who you are. Set your heart on a pilgrimage. We start by seeking Him, He answers by revealing Himself. Most of us could quote the scriptures about His love for us, about being seated in the heavenlies with Christ, about being the righteousness of God in Christ, us having the mind of Christ, being co-heirs with Christ etc. but are we living like we believe it? Has it permeated our entire life and become our reality? I’ve had some good teaching in my life and I’m thankful for it, but I’m not taking anyone’s word for it, I’m finding out for MYSELF. I’ve had some defining God-moments of revelation that have definitely affected my life, but I want the truth of my parentage to permanently alter my course. 

So who do you think you are? "As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is." (Proverbs 23:7)
God thinks some pretty great thoughts about us and has some amazing plans, much better than we could imagine. But we must start thinking like Him. If it takes an entire lifetime, I'm determined to know who I am. Even the creation waits eagerly for us to realize that we believers are sons and daughters of the living God-complete with all of the inheritance afforded, value attributed and authority given to a dearly loved son or daughter by a loving and good Father. When we really truly know for ourselves, the sky is not the limit. It's just the beginning.