Monday, June 30, 2014

You are Called {Guest Post}







Good morning Living Free in Him readers!  Today's post of "Finding our True Identity" comes from a dear friend and fellow Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study Leader, Melissa Sherlin.  Thank you Melissa, for sharing your wisdom with us today!


Day 11:

 Have you ever felt like God was calling you to do something, but didn’t know exactly what?

Have you ever felt like there were so many other people that God would want to use, other people more qualified?

What is God calling you to do?

I spent so much time pondering this question myself. I felt like God was calling me to something but the question was:  What is God calling me to do?

I had so many questions and doubts. Not doubts that God COULD use me, but doubts that he would want to. Every day, I am surrounded by so many talented people singers, speakers, writers, musicians, people that are much more educated than I, people that have lead much more righteous lives than I, and haven’t made as many mistakes in life as me.

What do I have to offer that could glorify God?

As I began to really reflect on this question, along with God’s Word, God began to speak.  It was through these scriptures God began speaking straight to my heart!

1 Corinthians 1:26-­31 "Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: 'Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.'"

As I got deeper into the Word, I started realizing something, many of the Bible “greats” were not great at all apart from God. They were bad speakers, deceivers, murderers, cowards, and adulterers.

Sometimes to know what God is calling you into, we have to remember what he has called you out of.

What trials has he brought you through? Is he asking you to share how he brought you through those trials with others that may be going through them? It is when we share it that is becomes our testimony.

Your testimony is so much more powerful than you think! The enemy would like nothing more than to keep you from sharing it. Do you know why?

Revelation 12:11 "They overcame him by the blood of the lamb, and by the word of their testimony, they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death."

Only you have your exact testimony! Only you can use it for God’s glory! No matter how ugly or messy it may look, someone else needs to hear it! The enemy is shuttering at the thought of you using it.

You my sweet friend are CALLED to use it!

 



Thursday, June 26, 2014

You are a Royal Priest




Day 9:

"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.  His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1Peter 2:9




A priest was an honored member of society whose purpose was to minister, pray and present offerings. In the old testament, only a Levite from the tribe of Levi could be a priest and only someone from the line of David, the tribe of Judah, could be royalty. When Jesus came, He demolished the Leviticus Law lines and created a new royal blood line...His.

God calls us priests, but He goes one step further and declares us of the "royal priesthood".  The -hood at the end of priest signifies that we are accepted or belong in a group. (For example, a neighborhood is a group of neighbors, or a childhood represents a group of years.)  We are part of a group of priests ordained, chosen and set apart by the Lord.  We were chosen and  "called out of darkness into His marvelous light."

The only name now that determines if we are qualified to do the work of the Lord is the name of Jesus. When we are in Christ, we are qualified to minister, pray and present our lives as an offering to the Most High God.  We are a part of His royal bloodlines, and heirs with Jesus.

You wear a priestly robe of righteousness and your head is adorned with a crown regally enveloped with jewels of royalty.  Step out into the light and answer the call to proclaim His praises.

Father God, I thank You that You chose us.  You said we are a royal priesthood, that You picked us out to belong to Your club of priests.  Let us proclaim Your praises.  I pray that we would embrace our identity as your royal priests and live our lives as an offering to You, in a way that honors You.    In Jesus' Name, Amen.  

 















Wednesday, June 25, 2014

You are Blameless



Day 8:

 "I am blameless before God; I have kept myself from sin. The Lord rewarded me for doing right, because of my innocence in his sight."  2 Samuel 22:17-25


King David wrote this at the end of his life.  The same King David who committed adultery and murder says at the end of his life,  "I am blameless". 

How is this?  David knew the power of the forgiveness of God.  David knew his covenant with the Lord and he knew the heart of God.  In 1Kings 15:3, it says that David's heart was perfect with the Lord.  After all, His claim to fame is that he was known as a man after God's own heart.  

When you think about David's past and how he is viewed historically, we can get a clear understanding how God redeems the past and how He does not measure us by our biggest failures. 

My history is as soiled as David's.  Perhaps yours is as well.  Yet, I understand how David can write these words free from the condemnation of past sins.  We too can say with confidence, 

"God is my rescuer.  He has delivered me.  He has upheld me.  He has led me to a place of safety.  He rescued me because He delights in me.  I am blameless before God.  I am innocent in his sight.  He has blessed me beyond measure."      














Monday, June 23, 2014

Breakdown After Bootcamp


At 6:25 am last Tuesday, my dear friend, Becky Crenshaw listened as I poured out my heart behind her van after pouring out sweat in her boot camp class.

My boot may have been sore that morning, but the aching in my soul surpassed any physical pain at that moment.

As I cried and unloaded my hurts, I uttered these words, "I don't know what's wrong with me.  I use to have it all together."

Then Becky said something that I will not soon forget. She hugged me and lovingly said,

"No you didn't, Sue.  You never had it all together."

At first, this may seem like I might need to find a new friend. {smile--I love me some Becky Crenshaw!}
A true friend tells you the truth in love.

She went on to explain that when we don't have it all together, we recognize our need for Jesus.  When we think we have it all together, we overlook Him in our lives.

The place I was at spiritually last Tuesday was right where Jesus wanted me to be.  He wanted me to recognize my brokenness, my un-togetherness, my need, and that He is the only glue that can hold me together.

When I use to think I had it all together, I was a beautiful mess, only I tried to pretend I was fine.  The truth was I was faking it so well that I had myself fooled.  I wouldn't allow myself to go too deep, because I was afraid of what I would discover in the depths of my soul.  I lived on the surface and on the surface, I looked pretty good.

I had reached a plateau in my healing and freedom and I was comfortable being at that level.  I think a part of me feared going deeper, afraid of what I might find in the deep.

However, it isn't what is on the surface that the Lord is interested in.  He wants access to the deep places.  And He wants us to go there with Him.  When we feel like we have it all together, chances are we are living surface level lives, depending on our own strength, in deceptive self-sufficiency.

I am on a journey of discovering that I can do nothing on my own. Without Jesus, I am nothing.  With Jesus, I can do all things.

The beautiful thing about not having it all together is that the pressure of pretense evaporates.  It is only grace that keep us and it is only grace that can change us and mold us into all God has created us to be.

We should always be on a journey of growing in the Lord, however, it is not up to us to change.  The more effort we put into changing on our own, the more exhausted and frustrated we will be, because in and of ourselves we are powerless to change.  The power of the Holy Spirit inside of us is the only One who can truly change us.

The truth is we will never have it all together until Jesus comes back for His bride.  How freeing to know that we don't have to have it all together, and in fact, we are powerless on our own.  With this revelation, we are free to just be as the Lord works on putting us together for His purposes.  

The moment I again start thinking I have it all together, Lord please give me another kick in the boot to a deeper level.  Father, humble me right back to the place of grace.








Friday, June 20, 2014

Forty Days of Finding Your True Identity: You are a Slave (#SayWhat?)


Day 7:

"And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." Romans 6:18



I have to admit that at first glace, this verse made me cringe.  After all, I thought finding my identity was about freedom.  It is.

Do you ever feel defeated because you responded the wrong way... again?  Have you ever felt in bondage to sin and it seemed impossible to break free from the old destructive habit?  That is slavery.

Just this week, I found myself responding to something in my old nature.  I became offended, when I should have been trusting the Lord.  It did not take long for me to recognize that my response was a result of my humanity and I felt stuck in it. Notice I said, "I felt stuck."  The truth is I'm not, I've been made free and have a new Master. 

Father, I so want to respond well when others do something that could cause offense (intentionally or not).  Please help me respond well. 

I think the problem is that sometimes we don't know or we forget who we are.  When we forget who we are, we act like our old selves because we don't remember we have been set free.

In verse 16 of Romans 8, it says, "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or obedience leading to righteousness?"

We are slaves either to sin (leading to death) or to obedience (leading to righteousness and thus, life!).  The Holy Spirit lives inside of us and the good news about Romans 6:18 is that it says that we became slaves of righteousness.  We have the power inside of us to obey and do what is right, which leads to life!

When I think about sin leading to death, it bring my spirit to attention.  God has said that He has given us a choice, life or death.  He then says, "Choose life" (Deut 30:19).  Choosing to obey is a lofty matter and knowing that I have the Power inside of me to help me choose to obey, allows me to be able to rest in Christ.  His grace is sufficient.

You are no longer a slave to sin.  Your old nature died with Christ and You became alive with Him when He was raised from the dead.  Your new Master is benevolent and kind and has empowered you with His grace to live in Christ.




Wednesday, June 18, 2014

You are Chosen and Appointed


Day 6:

"You did not chose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give you."  John 15:16

From being picked for a team in elementary school, being included in a group of friends, or appointed for that promotion at work, we all crave to be chosen.

God does not exclude.  He has chosen each of us.  God not only chose you, He picked you specifically for a very unique and special game plan.  He needs us to run the play He has orchestrated for the win!

With God, your past doesn't matter, your qualifications are irrelevant, and the way you look is perfect (after all, He is the one who made you the way he did for His purpose!)  You don't have to be the fastest or most talented, you just have to be willing to join Him.  He wants you on His team.  He needs you on His team.

Rejoice today knowing you are loved by our Creator and He chose you before the foundation of the world for His purpose!





Tuesday, June 17, 2014

You are Christ's Friend




We are on week 2 of our 40 Days of Finding our True Identity.  If you are just joining us, welcome!

Day 5:

"No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you."  John 15:15

Merriam-Webster defines friend as:  1.  a person you like and enjoy being with
or 2. a person who helps and supports someone or something.  

Friends are a treasure.  It can be hard to find tried and true comrades who enjoy our company and are willing to help and support us when needed.

The best kinds of friends are those that know everything about us, yet still love us.  Jesus is that kind of friend.  Jesus is a friend who likes us even on our worst days.   In fact, verse 16 says that we did not choose Him, but He chose us to be His friend!

"You did not chose Me, but I chose you..." John 15:16a

Doesn't it feel good to be chosen?  He knows all our flaws, our shortcomings, our insecurities, our weaknesses and faults, and yet, He still chose us!  He chose you to be His friend!

So, what are you waiting for?!  Your friend is waiting for you to call Him.  

Father, we thank You that You said that we are Your friend.  Father, thank you for choosing us.  Thank you that You love us regardless of our weaknesses and flaws.  We thank You that where we are weak, You are strong.  Lord, I pray that You would show us what You are doing and I pray that we would grow in our relationship and friendship with you.  I pray that we would become more like you and that we would introduce others to You, our friend.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.  








Friday, June 13, 2014

We are in Christ


Day 4:

"I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." 



I see many Christians who have lost their joy and seem exhausted.  Jesus said that when we remain in Him, our joy will be full.

We aren't called to do every Bible Study, to attend every church service, to volunteer for every good cause or help with every church function.  Not that any of those things are bad, in fact, they are all good.  However, if what we are doing is draining the life out of us, then we need to evaluate what we are doing and why.

We are called to do one thing...abide.  It is the classic story of Mary and Martha ( Luke 10:40-42).  Martha was busy serving,  while Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet.  Jesus said that Mary chose the one thing that was needed.

Friends, without abiding in Jesus, we can do nothing.  It is only through staying connected to the vine that we can bear any fruit.  Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.  We are alive and a part of Him.

We are "in Christ".  What does it mean to be "in Christ"?

It means we are never alone.  It means we are secure in Him.  It means He is our strength.

 Rest in Him. Stay connected to Him.  Don't try to do anything He isn't doing.  Without Him, we are nothing.

In Him is rest and fullness of joy (John 5:11).

If you are feeling dry, exhausted, and joyless, may I encourage you to stop striving, and instead just be still in His presence.  Rest.  Breath. Live.

Abide.




















Thursday, June 12, 2014

Child of God



Day 3:

You are a child of God

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name."  John 1:12



For those of you just joining us, we are on day 3 of 40 days of finding our true identity.  It just so happened that the memory verse for the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study Limitless Life lined up perfectly with today's verse for finding our true identity!

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be the daughter of a king, a princess?  My little girl is seven and just the other day she was telling me how she would love to be a princess and live in a castle.  I would venture to say most little girls dream about being Cinderella at one point or another.

When an earthy prince or princess is born, it is not of their own power.  They didn't do anything to become royalty.  They were simply born into royalty.   And as a result of their birth, earthly princes and princesses receive certain privileges and rights as heirs in their kingdom.

When we were reborn into our heavenly inheritance, it was not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13). When we received Christ and believed in His name, we became royalty not by any effort on our part, but by the power of God.

We became a child of the Most High King.

Rest on that thought for just a moment.

God.  The One who created the Universe.  The One who formed the seas and separated them from the land. The One who existed before time began.  The One who carefully placed every star in its space.  The One who measured the distance from galaxy to galaxy.  The One who formed mankind out of dust and breathed life into our beings. That God loves us and calls us His.

It is amazing to imagine that He (most powerful Being in the Universe!) could love us as His own child.  Yet, He does.  And He doesn't get it wrong like some earthly parents do.  He is a loving and caring Father, who longs for a close, intimate relationship with you, His child.  He never gets it wrong.  He will never leave.  He will never reject.  He will never abandon.  He is love.  He is waiting with open arms.

As children of God, we have a spiritual birthright and are heirs of His Kingdom. Because of our birthright in Jesus, we have been given spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).  Since we are His children, we are His heirs.  We are heirs with Christ of God's glory.

We may have all dreamed about being Cinderella at one time (and for the record I love Disney fairy tales). But I have to say, Cinderella, your fairy tale is a shoe short.  We don't need a fairy god-mother when we have the Father God as the Creator of our glory story.

Father God, Your love amazes me.  You love me as your daughter, the same as You love Your Son, Jesus.  You loved me so much that You sent Jesus to die in my place.  Father I pray that You would surround me with Your love and reveal more and more of Yourself to me.  And I pray that I would rest in the assurance that I am Your beloved child.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.    















Wednesday, June 11, 2014

You are Light



Day 2:

"You are the light of the world."  Matt 5:14a

Matt 5:14-15 says, "You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house."

Think about New York City at night.  When the night lights of New York are shining, the city is radiant and there is no way to hide it.  If the power goes out, only then do the lights go out and it is hard to see in the dark.  

God created us to be light.  God's very presence is light.  In Revelations 21:23, it says, "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp."

The Living God lives inside of us and His light is present in us.  He has made us new, bright and shining!

His power is what fuels our light.  As long as we stay connected to our power source, our light shines.

People are attracted to the light inside of us.  They are aware of their need for light in order to find their way. It is hard to see in the dark.

 Father, You said that we are light.  I thank you that Your light is inside of us and I pray that we would shine for You.  I pray that others would be drawn to You in us and would want to move out of darkness and into the Light so they too can see.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.







Tuesday, June 10, 2014

You are Salt


Day 1:

"You are the salt of the earth."  
Matthew 5:13a

Have you ever sat down to a delicious looking meal and bit into it only to realize that it was missing something....salt?  Salt is an important ingredient and without it, there isn't much taste to most foods.  

I did some research on salt.  In ancient times, salt was considered extremely valuable and the lack of it could effect the health of an entire population.  In a world without refrigeration, salt was the only means of preservation.  This fact made it a popular trade item worth its weight in precious jewels and ounce per ounce in gold.   

I found it particularly interesting that about 2500 years ago, salt was a highly valuable commodity in Rome. Roman soldiers were paid with "salt money" or "salarium argentum", which is where the word "salary" was derived. 

So, when Jesus was teaching that we are the "salt of the earth",  "salt" was viewed as one of the most valuable resources of the day.  

However, like food without salt in the ancient times, if we are not sprinkled with the seasoning of God's Word, our spiritual health will decay.  

We are valuable, and as a result, we need to stay in God's Word so we don't lose our "saltiness".  Food without salt is just bland.  As children of God, we need to show the world that God brings flavor to our lives so they too will want to "Taste and see that the Lord is good." (Ps 34:8)

Our saltiness or lack thereof, can also effect the health of the population around us.  Please pass the salt...

Would you consider "passing the salt" by sharing this post with your friends today?  

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Monday, June 9, 2014

40 Days of Finding our True Identity


 



This summer I wanted to spend some time going through different scriptures discovering our true identity in Christ.

Currently, I am reading two books.  I am reading Limitless Life by Derwin Grey with Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies and Victory over the Darkness by Neil Anderson.  Both of these books focus on finding our true identity in Christ.

Through Derwin Grey's book, I am finding that I have believed labels about myself that simply are not true. Labels such as failure, afraid, rejected, unloved, unlikable.  These labels or other negative labels, if believed, limit our lives.  These labels are false and do not define us.  God defines who we are and He says we are complete, courageous, accepted, loved, and His friend.

In Neil Anderson's book, he states, "It is not what you do as a Christian that determines who you are; it is who you are that determines what you do."

When we have the wrong labels on us, it determines what we do and like I said above, it limits us and what God wants to do in our lives.  When we believe what God says about us and replace wrong labels with the truth, our actions will reflect our beliefs and God is able to work more effectively through our lives.

So, for the next 40 days or so, I want to focus on identity.  I want us to see ourselves differently, through new lenses by the end of this summer.  I want us to see ourselves as Christ sees us, a perfect reflection of His grace and love.  Who is with me?  Who is in for this 40 days of finding our true selves?!  





Wednesday, June 4, 2014

From Mess to Masterpiece




The picture above may look like a watery mess, but it is so much more.

"I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys.  I will turn the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into springs."  Isaiah 41:18  

A friend of mine and fellow Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study Team Member, Melissa Sherlin (Hey Melissa!!) gave me this verse before I left for a recent ministry trip, to serve on the Deeper Still Team in Central Illinois.  I live in Knoxville, TN now, but I am originally from the heartland of the home of Lincoln.  One of the missions of my trip was to go to Champaign, IL and pray healing over the land at the site where I had an abortion 20 years earlier.

This picture was taken on the University of Illinois campus at the exact location where my feet rested twenty years ago while I erupted in anger at some sweet pro-life college student.  I remembered the location because it was under the white blossoms of a cherry tree, the only cherry tree on the quad.  This unnamed college student standing for life, stood by white crosses under the blossoms as they rained down like snow covering the fresh Spring ground.  She representing the unborn, who were never given the chance to live.  My hurt and wounds spewed out all over her tenderness and I ran in despair, dead inside.

I have written about these white crosses once before.  I use to cringe at white crosses even up to about a year ago.  However, God has continued to heal me and I am so thankful to say that I now embrace white crosses, as they honor the graves of the grave-less.

I prayed at three locations that day for healing over the land.  I pray at the abortion clinic.  I prayed at the site of the white crosses, and I prayed at a third place that I didn't anticipate until on our trip.

The third location is another story for another time.

As I look at the mess of water and leaves and mud above, I don't see a dirty compile of mire and grime. Instead, I see beauty.  I see the reflection of a tree bursting to bud with fresh blooms of summer.  I see drought turned into springs of life.  I see colors of new growth sprouting from the soft well-nourished ground.

It is a reflection of how the Lord brought me out of the miry clay where I was imprisoned, and poured transforming Living Water into a life that was dry and dead.

When I look at myself and my life, I no longer see a dirty mess. I see beauty.  I see new growth and fresh blooms exploding with God's sweet fragrance.  I see a Tree full of life, full of vibrant colors, well-nourished and well-watered with God's Word.  He has completely transformed my life and taken something ugly and molded me into His beautiful creation.

God has given me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning and the garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  He calls me an oak of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, for the display of HIS GLORIOUS SPLENDOR, from a MESS TO A MASTERPIECE FOR HIS GLORY.

He calls you the same.    

More pictures from praying to heal the land (compliments of Kay Smith!)...






Spring 2014 Deeper Still Ministry Team  (Beauty for Ashes...Redeemer's Glory!)



 
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