Identity

Believing a Lie (Part II)

One of the lies that people have come to believe is that they are not enough and that they need to use whatever means necessary to change themselves. The humanistic philosophies have not helped this mindset as they continue to propagate that man can do life without God and that he has the power to define or re-define himself whichever way he desires. …

The Perils of Personal Truth (Part II)

Personal truth is the logical consequence of evolutionary theory. This theory claimed that humanity is created due to natural selection and that it is result of survival of the fittest. The Evolutionary theory does not believe that there is an intelligent designer or a Creator who has put everything together. Consequently, this theory left people as orphans to fend for themselves in finding meaning and value in life. Personal truth has become an ineffective band-aid for the chasm created by evolutionary thought. …

Hearing God’s Voice (Part III)

In the last two devotionals, I have shared about the importance of hearing God’s voice. As believers, we need to have the word of God as our sword and the voice of God as our compass to navigate through life. We see even Jesus, the Son of God, had to depend on the voice of God to function successfully through life and His calling!

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” Matthew 4:1-4

Definition of Word (according to Strong’s dictionary) comes from Greek word [Rhema]: that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, things spoken, word, utterance.

Jesus’ first temptation was directed at his physical hunger. After having fasted forty days and nights, the devil tempted Him to turn the stones into bread. Just as Jesus turned water into wine, He could have turned the stones into bread. However, He refrained from doing it because He was not led by the Spirit of God!

One of the marks of following the voice of God is that it will not appeal to our flesh, and neither will it compel us to prove our identity or gifting. This is something that we all have to be aware of. We cannot allow the demands of others to push us to do something in the name of God or ministry. Those with prophetic ministry are even in greater danger of trying to prove that they can hear God or prophecy words not sanctioned by the Lord!

The devil was trying to challenge Jesus’ identity in God by prodding Him to prove that He is the son of God! However, Jesus had the self-control not to get baited by the devil. He did not need to prove anything to anyone even though it would have been tempting to do so. He could have reasoned that He needs to prove He is the son of God, so people can believe Him or take Him seriously. Furthermore, Jesus could have easily made the excuse that God would not wanted to Him suffer hunger and could have provided bread for Himself, but He chose to leave the matters in God’s hands.

I love Jesus’ response to the devil! He told Him that while food is important but hearing God’s voice is more important than eating bread! Jesus was speaking about God’s spoken word. Jesus needed to hear the voice of God, and He depended on it regularly more than eating bread. When was the last time this was our attitude in seeking God!?

In the Middle Eastern cultures, bread is an important part of every meal. Therefore, the comparison of the need for bread versus the word of God is very significant! The Middle Eastern people eat bread with every meal regardless of other starches such as rice, pasta, or potatoes. This means that people not only eat it regularly, but also they consume it at least three times a day! Basically, Jesus was stating that it is more important to hear God’s voice and be in communication with Him than to depend on the basic sustenance three times a day!

How hungry are you to hear the word of the Lord for your life? On the sermon on the Mount, Jesus stated that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be filled. It is God’s desire for us to be led by His Spirit. Do you make time for Him regularly? Do you see it as a necessity of life to be led by the Spirit of the Lord?

The Wilderness Experience (Part V)

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,  being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ” Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”

And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”

Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written:

‘He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. Luke 4:1-14

Jesus’ extraordinary baptism experience did not stop Him from being led into the wilderness! He was confirmed by His Father during baptism, but now He was going to be tempted by the father of lies! Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness in provision, authority, and identity.  First, although He had not eaten for forty days, He knew that the Lord was His provider and sustainer. Second, Jesus was secure about His access to power and authority, and He only wanted what the Lord had for Him in God’s timing! He had no selfish ambitions or He would have taken the bait and tried to take a short cut to gain glory without obedience and the suffering! Third, Jesus was tempted in His sonship! Would the Lord rescue Him if He threw Himself down from the top of the temple!?  Jesus knew God’s character and His love towards Him, but He also knew that God did not want to be tested!

The wilderness provides the same temptations for us. First, would we provide for ourselves and take the matter in our own hands or will we wait on the Lord to do it His way and in His time? Are you waiting on God’s provision in a particular area of your life? Are you wondering if you should try to just make it happen with your ingenuity!?

Second, are we willing to sell out our Godly convictions and values to gain honor and recognition? There is much temptation in the body of Christ to be big for God! It seems like unless we do something that is impressive to others, we don’t think we are significant or are making a difference in the Kingdom. To the contrary, there were many times that Jesus told His disciples not to tell anyone about the miracle that He had just done. Are you tempted to advertise your spiritual feats in order to prove that you are mature, prophetic, anointed, etc!?

Third, do we test the Lord by going outside of the His boundaries and relying on His love to rescue us? Sometimes, we can get so desperate that we just throw off God’s boundaries because we want what we want when we want it! We assume if God loves us so much, He will look the other way and that He is not going to hold against us. We may also rationalize it by thinking that God knows our needs and that He wants us to be happy!

How are you doing in the season of wilderness? Do you see the value of it while you’re in the midst of it? I will continue with this subject in the next devotional.

 

The Wilderness Experience (Part III)

But Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, and said, “Let us not kill him.” And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him”—that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father. So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him.  Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it. Genesis 37:21-24

So Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.” And his brothers listened.  Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt. Genesis 37:26-28

Joseph was the favored child of his father Israel, and to show his great love towards him, his father had given him a tunic of many colors.  In addition, Joseph was given big prophetic dreams by the Lord, but they were not appreciated by his brothers when he shared it with them. He was also assigned the unpleasant task of reporting about his brothers to his father when they were out in the field working. All these issues caused jealousy in the heart of Joseph’s brothers, so they came up with a plan to eliminate him! Joseph had no idea that his life was about to change forever.  He was no longer going to rely on his father’s favor or wealth for his wellbeing, and neither could his father protect him from his brothers.

The first thing the brothers did was to strip him of his tunic of many colors before they threw him in the pit in the midst of wilderness. The tunic was a reminder of Joseph’s identity as his father’s favorite. Since the brothers despised their fathers’ affection towards Joseph, they wanted to ensure that they were stripping him of his specialness.  Interestingly, when they lied about Joseph to their father and what had happened to him, they acted as if they were not sure if the bloodstained tunic belonged to Joesph!

The wilderness is the place where our identity will come into question. The enemy knows the believers’ identity, so he attempts to strip it and make believers question their identity. In the case of Joseph, he was his father’s favorite, but the Lord also had big plans for his life! The brothers thought they can thwart Joesph’s future by keeping him at a distance from their natural father. However, God had a bigger plan for Joseph that was not going to be fulfilled by just remaining in his father’s house as his favorite! Joseph had growing up to do, and part of that growing up was for his identity to be established in his relationship to his heavenly Father rather than his earthly father.

There are many Christians who hold on to some of their past as part of their identity. For example, if the parents adored them as a child, they expect to be spoiled in the Kingdom of God. Others had their identity tied to their education or position in the past, and they still want to hold on to that identity to avoid feeling insignificant without it. There are those who had a protector when growing up, and they do not want to lose that special relationship because they feel secure having these individuals around. Hence, they remain in ungodly ties because of what those relationships provide for them. All these types of carnal identities keep us bound to the past. God wants us to be freed from them, so we can grow in full maturity and fruitfulness that He intended for us.

In order for Joseph to come into the position that God had ordained for him, the Lord had to take him out of his familiar surroundings and remove his loving earthly relationships. This would allow him to fully rely on the Lord and to grow in wisdom, favor, and insight. His earthly father was no longer his protector or his provider, but it was the Lord who would guide him and provide for him.

Similarly, some believers enter the wilderness for God’s greater purpose to grow them in His ways and to teach them to depend on the Lord for security and identity. However, some stay there longer than necessary. They argue with God and struggle because they are not willing to embrace the change and allow God to forge their character in unexpected ways that does not make sense to their natural mind.  They keep looking back to what they used to have instead of embracing what God wants to do in their lives now.

How are you responding to your wilderness? Is it causing frustration, anger, and bitterness? Do you feel like a victim of circumstances, family, or friends? Or do you see the Lord using this to grow you and enlarge your capacity? Are you able to remain faithful and peaceful in the midst of your wilderness?

Spirit of Excellence (Part III)

How would you respond if you were invited to the White House and the President desired to share his food and delicacies with you?

I think most of us will consider it a great honor and privilege to be invited to the White House. The fact that the President would desire to feed us with the best, it would be a very flattering complement! We may even think that this is a blessing from the Lord. We have finally been acknowledged and recognized for who we really are. We might imagine that we have arrived at the pinnacle of success!

And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king.  Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the nameBelteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; Daniel 1:5-8a

Daniel had a different response to king’s delicacies than most people. He was already serving a king. His king was the King of Kings and the Lord of lords. He had been at the presence of his King long before he came before the presence of the Babylonian king. His arrival at the palace was just one of many assignments that God had for him, but His identity and significance weren’t tied to it.

When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you;
 And put a knife to your throat
If you are a man given to appetite.
 Do not desire his delicacies,
For they are deceptive food. Proverbs 23:1-3

Daniel refused to eat from the king’s table because his first and foremost allegiance was to His King! An ambassador of Christ is sent to a foreign territory, and he/she is never supposed to get caught up with the culture and customs of the foreign country to the point of not representing the kingdom that sent him/her.

An excellent spirit comes from having settled the issue of our allegiance that regardless of the circumstances and losses one may experience, one’s focus and mission does not change. When we have Daniel’s attitude about our assignments, our outlook and our response to situations are very different. We are not at the mercy of man to recognize us, give us privileges,  or take them away. We know the most important person in heaven and on earth has recognized us, so now we focus on being his instrument in the new place!

Daniel was faced with earthly losses many times. However, he was determined to please His God and His almighty King, and the supposed earthly losses turned out to be to his spiritual advantage!

Today, what are you faced with that may require some losses in order to develop an excellent spirit?

The Significance of Boundaries

pass-road-461283_1280

What is the importance of boundaries?

God is a God of boundaries. In six days of creation, He continued to create and delineate. Boundaries make things clear; they delineate an area and separate what is within bounds and what is out of bounds.

Boundaries show us what is acceptable, safe, & prudent versus what is unacceptable, dangerous, or foolish. They differentiate between our responsibility versus someone else’s responsibility.

The issues of boundaries would be simple if we lived on our own, but because we live in a community with others, there is a continual tug of war as to where our responsibility ends and someone else’s begins. The more clear we are about our boundaries, the more peaceful and healthier our relationships.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

    So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:26-28

Our Identity includes boundary

God defined and set boundaries to everything He created including our identity. God’s purpose causes His creation to have definition and boundaries. We cannot have a clear and secure identity until we understand the boundary and the definition God has designed for us.

In the beginning, God created Adam & Eve in His image and in His likeness. That means we were not created in the image of animals, trees, or mountains, but we were created in the likeness of God. While Evolutionists may consider us having evolved from animals, God has defined us by setting our definition as being God-like rather than animal-like! This has a huge ramification on our purpose and value as people!

Our body has a boundary

God has given us a body with a boundary, and we are called to take care of it and treat it well. Our Soul which makes up our mind, emotions, and will also belongs to us. No one should think, feel, or decide for us. God has given our soul  to steward it according to His ways.

The Lord created humanity in male and female each with his/her own specific physiology and purpose in relating to each other. The acceptance of our gender and body can eliminate much insecurity, sexual identity problems, and food related disorders.

The scripture tells us that our body is the temple of God. Hence, we need to keep it pure from pollution, ungodliness, and sin, so the Spirit of God could comfortably reside in it. No one can exercise for us, eat healthy, or develop a skill. We are the ones responsible to do the work while God may send people to encourage us along the way.

Our marriage has a boundary

God has a set an order and boundary in marriage, and He has designated roles for husbands and wives. At the same time, He calls them “one” because if they look to Him as they do their part in marriage, where one ends and the other one begins will not be easily visible.  

Our purpose has a boundary

God created a job description for Adam & Eve, which clearly defined the boundaries of their responsibility. He designated their sphere of stewardship. Adam & Eve were created to be fruitful, to subdue the earth, and to rule over all living creatures. This was a God given responsibility which came with its associated provision and ability to do it.

Boundaries provide accountability to what we are responsible for, and they also relieve us from the burdens and responsibilities that don’t belong to us.

If you are stressed, frustrated, or worried, you may need to examine your boundary lines. Make sure that you are clear as to where your responsibility ends and someone else’s begins.

I will continue with this subject in the next devotional.