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Journey Toward Identity II

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The Journey Toward Identity II
Last week we started this journey toward identity - based upon some things I learned while on sabbatical. What I’m doing is letting you in on the process of how God prepared me to tell me what He wanted me to know. And my hope is twofold: 1) That we will see the importance of engaging God through His Word, thus giving Him an opportunity to speak. 2) That we will discover a little more about our own identities - embracing who He created us to be and reaching our full potential in Christ.
Let’s review: As I’ve stated, I discovered that I am not to be pastor. I am called to be a godly man who serves as a pastor. How did I come to that conclusion? God told me. It wasn’t audible. No heavenly vision. No thunderbolts and lightening - it wasn’t very very frightening ....
God spoke simply through His Word.
Hearing God often comes as a result of being consistently engaged in His Word.
And I’m concerned that if we’re not engaged in His Word, then we’re missing His primary means of speaking. Thus, we are missing our identities - who God wants us to be as individuals and as the Body of Christ. In your handout, there are some websites to help you engage Scripture. It is my opinion that personality does not exempt us from engaging the Bible - but it may modify how we engage the Bible (we can chat about that in Sunday school).
Like I said last week, God was planting within me seeds for revelation - leading me, step by step, thought by thought until I was ready to hear what I needed to hear.
The first seed came from Luke 14:26–27 - Jesus said unless you love me more than anyone or anything, you cannot be my disciple. That’s what started this internal conversation with me and God. The second seed came from Ephesians 1 - In love, God chose us before the foundations of the world to be holy - to be entirely His. So, I start connecting dots. God was saying something to me through His Word. He was saying, “Chad, I want you to be entirely mine.” We ended last week with me asking, “Lord, am I entirely yours? His answer was, “No. You’re meeting with Me (I’m good at being consistent) but you’re thinking about other people - you’re thinking about the sermon.”
The idea of being a godly man who serves as a pastor had not entered my mind yet. It wasn’t time, but God’s getting me there. Listen to what Jesus said -
John 12:26 ESV
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
I always equated that verse with serving - doing - external location. But I think this also applies to being - my internal condition. Jesus was leading me - helping me become who I am supposed to be. And I had a choice to follow, to go where He was going internally or stay put and remain unchanged.
If we are not spending consistent quality time alone with God, we will miss going where God wants us to go and being who God wants us to be.
This is one reason why connection groups are essential. Sunday morning doesn’t cut it for spiritual growth. We’ll have new groups in January - just FYI.
So, by this time I’m making my way through Ephesians. As we read through Ephesians 2, keep 2 things in mind. 1) This is not an exegetical study. We’re not looking at the Greek and what mood or tense was this written in, etc. This is alone time with God. I’m interested in what the passage tells me about God and what God wants to tell me.
2) As we read this, pay attention to what Paul writes about God. Take out a pen, and as we read do two things: underline everything that pertains to God (His actions and attitudes …). And also circle what Paul says about our performance and our responsibility regarding God’s love and grace. This is just one way to engage.
Ephesians 2:1–19 ESV
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
How many words or phrases did you underline? Should be a lot.
How man did you circle? I circled one phrase - by faith.
What does this tell us about God? About performance? Identity?
Last week I mentioned the P.P.R.O.A.P.T. method of reading the Bible: pray, preview, read, observe, apply, pray and tell. So, I’m reading through once, twice, three times and questions start formulating in my mind (not so much the first reading …). But the second and third time - when did God love me? How did God love me (it’s His love)? What kind of love is this for someone like me?
Then I zero in on verse 19. That’s the verse that said, “Focus.” So I focused.
Now, what do you notice about verse 19? Write down just one thought. Something very significant about that verse 19 and verse 10. Look closely. What does it say? Paul uses a word that emphasizes being - not performance. You are! Doesn’t say, “You should do this or do that.” It says, because of God’s love and grace … I am His workmanship. I am a citizen of God’s Kingdom. I am a saint (literal, a holy one - God called me / us to be holy, entirely His). I am a member of God’s family. I am a child of God. I am a son. Why? How?
I happened to look down at my study Bible notes and little light bulb went on. Can anyone find anything in this passage about human performance? None of what Paul wrote about has anything to do with performance - but everything to do with the work of Christ on the cross so that we could be children of God! Being a child of God has nothing to do with my performance and has everything to do with being who He made me to be in Him.
Yes, there’s a difference between being saved and being a disciple, but that’s not the conversation this morning. Salvation is all about being saved by Christ which is all about grace. Discipleship is all about becoming like Christ, which does require effort and time, but that’s not so God will love us. God’s love and acceptance and salvation have nothing to do with performance!
Back to me - I asked myself why then do I still at times find myself struggling with performance? With a pass or fail mentality?
I would like to tell that God spoke again and gave me the answer, but He didn’t. It wasn’t time yet. Remember, God was planting within me the seeds for revelation. I remember that morning: I closed my Bible, prayed and I was left wrestling with those questions. And that’s where I’m going to leave us this morning - wrestling with some questions.
One question to settle: Do you know Christ? Accept Believe Confess
How would I rate my alone time with God (consider consistency and quality)?
Am I going where Jesus wants me to go? Where does He want me to go?
Am I becoming / being who Jesus wants me to be? Who does He want me to be?
What or who might be hindering me? Helping me?
Have I fully received God’s love and grace without any condition on my part? If not, what might I need to do to receive His love and grace?
Where might my life be more about performance (what I do) than being (who I am in Christ)?
Is life still pass or fail?
What might Jesus want to tell me about performance verses value?
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