Liberated Identity

Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

When in doubt, go back to what you know. As I sit in my makeshift writing space praying, researching and gathering the copious amounts of writing I have done over the years, I sense God whisper, write what you know.  Over 9 years ago my charge was given to encourage and enlighten others to live in the shameless freedom and forgiveness of Christ. It has been my gathering place when I doubted my purpose or wasn’t solidified in my identity. It is simple really but I have chosen to complicate it.

I have not been set free just to be free. I have not freed myself but it is because of Jesus that I am free. It is my responsibility to live that way. Christ has set us free dying under the curse of the law so we should not take the yoke of slavery upon us again. Freedom is a gift not to be abused but used so that we will serve. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36. It includes telling others of the treasures I have found and my mode of sharing happens to be writing. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last- and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16 

When you realize how much God loves you, you’ll begin to live in true freedom.

As I grew up, I never felt like I belonged in my family. I was a surprise which could have been the reason. God chose my family and I love them intensely. I don’t know why I felt that way and I don’t blame anyone for that. It was what it was. It could have been the impetus for me seeking to fill that empty place in my heart and soul and unfortunately the choices I made to do so weren’t always great ones. The choices were temporary numbing to my emptiness but the true fullness came in the form of Jesus. In this place, awareness of my true identity and purpose collided together in a myriad of new truth. It has now been 15 years of God process, healing the places of me to line up with who I truly am in Him.

I was surprised at the simplicity of the definition of identity. Dictionary.com: Identity – the fact of being who or what a person or thing is. In the world it means being who we are but when identity is rooted in Christ, it is embodied in the Greek definition of identity which means – the vital breath, breath of life or the soul. Identity in Him is full of purpose and power and meaning.

These are just a few of the truths in Scripture speaking the certainty of who we are in Christ:

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John 1:12 I am God’s child.
John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.
Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.

My freedom deepens as I allow God to love me through the truth of His Word. God’s priority is our heart and character, not our circumstances. Freedom isn’t a literal releasing as much as it is a becoming. Oh to be like Him! That is true freedom.

Where have you looked for your identity? What part of God’s truth about you do you need to sink deep into your spirit? Sit with it, soak in it and choose to believe it. Live from freedom, from victory because Christ died for it. Period.

Branch Requirements

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

We as Christians are referred to by John in this passage as branches. If you think of a branch, what is required of it? grapes-984493_640To hang around, to draw from the life of the vine, to be grounded by the root, to be prepared to bear the fruit of the plant. What is the branch apart from the tree? It is a dried up stick! I know this illustration is used often and we go ya ya, we know, but are we really remaining?

Remain in Hebrew is translated as to stay, continue, abide, dwell, endure, be present, stand! These are not passive words nor do they portray just a hanging around attitude. This requires us to stay connected to Jesus in the midst of all that we encounter in this life. It is the lifeblood of victory and abundant life in a world that can squeeze the life out of us if we don’t.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the beauty in creation as the summer months are upon us. It is far easier to appreciate all of that when I am not in the middle of a winter season. I am able to breathe a little easier and see a little more clearly and remain a little more firmly. I just went through a season of wilderness in my own spiritual life, this combined with premenopausal hormones has made for a wild ride. A more apt description might be a crazy train!

And try as I might, like the branches, I was not able to muster up anything of my own volition. I kept pressing in even when it felt like I would snap off of that vine at any given moment. I did the things I knew to do when things looked hopeless. I watered my branch with many tears and went through periods of drought when tears weren’t even possible.

Sometimes God calls us in to the deep and it is a period of waiting that sometimes seems unending. But He never leaves us there, He is with us even when we can’t see clearly. Sheila Walsh recently described that getting to know Jesus is the antidote to shame and that we have never lived an unloved moment.

Consider that…Selah…Pause for contemplation…not One unloved moment!sunset-1207326_640

Sheila also said that when we walk through a dark season in our life it will alter the landscape of our heart. This is absolutely true but the new scenery is not always a bad thing. I learned that I could not always trust my feelings, my requirement as a branch was to trust God, to walk with Him and obey even if I didn’t ‘feel’ like it. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in All things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

This frees me in knowing that He works it out for good, I do not have to manage that. It doesn’t say that the circumstances are good necessarily but that All things can be used by Him. In this wilderness time there has been a lot of disappointment; in people, in ministry, in not accomplishing what I thought this season was for and in some of this I see the truth of this verse and the solidifying of my branchness. (My word)

You see, as I heard in my heart the other day, God doesn’t waste anything. He works All together in our lives, we have been called according to His purpose. So not only do we not need to work it out, He has purposed what it is for. And our requirement is not to become a stick. To nurture our relationship with the vine and to be planted firmly in the root of who we are in Him.

It is about authenticity and identity. It is about receiving His love and allowing it to change us. It is to trust and be willing even when we don’t understand. It is to keep our eyes on Him even if it seems like nothing is changing. And so in our process, we unlearn, we lean in, we listen, we trust the preparation, we speak His truth, we learn His Word, we love Him and receive the abundance of love He has for us. Meet with Him as you are, dance, sing, write, talk, garden, love others, be honest and real and raw. Fruit will come as you cultivate your relationship with Him, after all that is what He created us for.

Micah shows us a branch requirement very clearly, “He has shown you , O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

How are you making that sacrifice of your heart and remaining in the vine?

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May I See Your ID?

2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”

This is an amazing promise in God’s word, so packed full of hope and expectation. Some of us may say, ok God if we have everything we need then why isn’t our life everything we imagined it would be with you?  Could it be that our expectations have been in ourselves and other people instead of in God and now we are disillusioned or confused or depressed or we are still hanging on tight trying to ‘make’ our life work?

In Susie Larson’s Your Beautiful Purpose, this line jumped out at me, ” Movement doesn’t change us, soul engagement does.” She was talking about how churches are filled with sincere Christians who consistently come to church and volunteer etc, in other words ‘look the part’ but when you look up close nothing changes in their character. The difference she says is engagement, ” God’s work through us is directly proportionate to His work within us. And He’ll only work in us to the extent that we give Him access to our soul and permission to change us. Either we humble ourselves, admit our daily need for more of His life and influence within us (and we’re beautifully changed in the process) or we continue to show up at church, look the part, and miss out on the absolute miracle of life transformation.” POW!

That was just one paragraph, needless to say this book is kicking my butt in a good way. Her perspective goes along with the teachings God has been showing me through Graham Cooke. It is all about identity. If we operate from the position of knowing who we are in Christ then our response is from what He has done in us.  We will serve, live and give from the life giving power of God at work in us, not out of obligation or our own goodness or an attempt to please people.

In Christ we receive our identity, we don’t create it as the we do in the world. We are made in the image and likeness of God. When a man is asked to describe himself, he typically responds by saying what he does for work, a woman typically identifies herself through relationships, like she is a wife or a Mom, or a friend etc.  Are we all of these things? Yes, but the loss of these kinds of identities can be devastating. A man losing a job for example or the last child moving out or a friend betraying us can rock our world if we are rooted in those temporary identities. God gives us our new identity immediately when we choose Jesus as our Saviour and from that point on, God’s perception of us is through the lens of our perfect Saviour. He saw the old us die on the cross with Christ. Our new identity is based in Him.

God did not choose us because we are good, but because He is good. We need to start there. He loves us. Period.

One exercise that Graham Cooke gave with his sermon was to make a list of all the things that hold you back, the lies you believe about yourself, the things keeping you from your destiny. Then number these things and on another piece of paper put the opposite word or words to each one of those words. Then with every one of the new words write a blessing or a scripture and those will be your new promises. Now burn the old list. Mine had 24 and I am working through the promises, slowly changing the old beliefs and lies to the truth of how God sees me. This exercise will help you to see how you are seen in heaven and to walk out what God has for you and in essence for others. As I heard the other day, we are healed so that we may serve. Luke 4: 38,39

If someone says May I see your ID? How would you respond right now? Who does God say you are? His identity is the one that will count for eternity.

http://www.wateroflifecc.org/media/sermon/key-to-personal-breakthrough

– this is the link to the Graham Cooke sermon I referred to and you can click on download the notes on that link to see the full exercise.