Our True Identity in Christ

 

We find our true identity and self-worth in Jesus Christ. We are a stem on the Vine of Christ (John 15:5), a slave to Jesus, our Master (Romans 6:16-18), a holy place for the Holy Spirit to dwell (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 5:1).

 

We are dead to self-effort through Christ (Romans 6:4; Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus perfects us, and He is the author and finisher of our faith as we focus on Him and His will for our life (Hebrews 12:2).

 

God sent His Son in the form of human flesh, in order that the law may be fulfilled in Him (Romans 8:3). As we obey God, we will not walk according to the law or in the sinful passions of our flesh.

 

We will walk instead according to the leading of God’s Spirit moment by moment throughout our day (Romans 8:4). We have no righteousness of our own merit, but we walk in the victory of the cross and in dependence upon our union with Christ.

 

A committed Believer wants to do God’s will above all else. That is our goal in life. Our every waking breath and the desire of our heart is to further the Kingdom of God in the earth.

 

Though we may fall short of God’s glory now and then, we surrender our life to Christ in order for Him to perfect us through sanctification (Philippians 3:12-14).

 

Our thoughts, words and behavior match our desires. We put away sinful pursuits and seek holiness. We live life surrendered to God’s unconditional love, unqualified forgiveness and perfect will for our lives.

 

Through the Spirit of God, we are transformed into the fullness of Christ from one degree of glory to another through the process of sanctification (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

Prayer:

Father God, as a container we show that the all-surpassing power in us is from You and not from us (2 Corinthians 4:7). As we totally surrender our life and plans to You, we find all the riches and wonders we could ever want during both this life and the next.

 

Nothing is impossible with You, and we constantly reap the benefits of Your unconditional love for us (Matthew 19:26). Thank You for allowing us to be a part of Your glorious plan of redemption for the earth.

 

Remind us that once our “self-life” is dead, we no longer live, but Christ lives in us and through us (Colossians 1:27; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 2:20). Jesus uses our hands, our feet, our words and our actions to further Your Kingdom in the earth.

 

Thought for the Day:

The only way for every child of God to fully live is to completely die to our own desires, ambitions and goals, and to hide our life with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

 

 

 

 

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The Perfecting Work of Patience – He Who Began a Good Work

Is our salvation and sanctification our responsibility, or is it the work of God’s Spirit within us? Some will say, “We are to work out our own salvation.” (Philippians 2:12) Others will counter with, “It is the Holy Spirit who gives us both the desire and the power” to do that (Philippians 2:13).

Most people agree that salvation is through grace by faith; but believe that we have to work for sanctification (Ephesians 2:8). Yet, the foolish Galatians were reprimanded by Paul for attempting to perfect themselves through their own self-efforts (Galatians 3:1-3).

Paul was amazed that they actually believed they could sanctify their life by their works. Paul constantly reminds the early Saints that nothing in our Christian walk is by works, because then we could boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

God is not interested in our ability, but in our availability to His Spirit. The works of the flesh can only be crucified by the work of the Spirit (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:16). We live and walk only by the Spirit of God; otherwise, we spin our wheels and end up exhausted (Galatians 5:25).

We boldly claim that we can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13); but when we put the emphasis on “we” can do all things, we fail time and again. We pull our self up by our boot straps until they are totally worn off.

This verse is actually saying that we cannot do anything except “through Christ”. When we completely capitulate to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to both save and perfect us, we enter God’s rest (Hebrews 4:10).

It is the Spirit, not our self-effort, which transforms us from one stage of sanctification to the next (2 Corinthians 3:18). Even the armor of God, which Paul encourages us to wear, is the work of God’s Spirit in our life (Ephesians 6:10-18).

God’s Spirit transforms our mind to the mind of Christ (Romans 12:2). He also renews our character with the divine nature of Christ (2 Peter 1:4). He who began the work of salvation in us, will continue to perfect us through His work of sanctification (Philippians 1:6).

Prayer:
Father God, we humans do not want to admit that we are helpless without a Savior. We want to believe that even if we cannot save our self, we can attempt to perfect our self through our diligence and self-discipline by obeying Your Word.

Remind us that we can do good works only as we abide in the faith of Christ within us (James 2:17). We could not justify our self by keeping the law and we cannot sanctify our self through self-effort either. Keeping the law never gave us life prior to salvation and there is no way that walking in obedience to the law can perfect us after salvation. Without Your Spirit doing the sanctifying work, we are totally lost and undone.

Thought for the Day:
When we do choose to obey, the desire and ability is generated by God’s Spirit within us; God has a perfect plan for our life, and we find it only when we walk in the Spirit each moment of the day (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Complete Trust and Rest

Our work in our own self-effort actually hinders the work of the Lord (2 Chronicles 5:14). We spin our wheels by attempting to make things happen on our own. We end up frustrated, anxious and even angry at times.

 

Yet, if we put our needs and the direction of our life into God’s capable hands, and allow His Holy Spirit to guide each moment of our day, we end up in the right place at the right time.

 

If we do not have what we want or what we think we need, we can be sure that God does not think we need it at this moment of time. We often get bored and want a change or feel desperate in some area and decide that we know what is best for us.

 

Yet, when we release all negative emotions and wait on the Lord’s direction, we end up receiving even more and infinitely better than we ever had in our whole life (Ephesians 3:20-21).

 

My sister-in-Christ needed a new house. She combed the papers daily and worked with several rental agencies, desperate to find a new place to live. She falsely believed that it was up to her to relocate her family.

 

After many months and an inordinate amount of stress and time of spinning her wheels, she gave up, prayed for God’s will and timing and entered His rest. She listened to His Spirit each succeeding day. Within a week, she had the perfect home for her family.

 

Another Believer had a similar story with a job. When she decided to abide in God’s rest, she lost her desperate drive. She joyfully turned down a few jobs that God made clear to her were not His will for her. Within a month she had the best job in which she ever worked in her entire life and is so fulfilled and joyful now.

 

A widowed Believer strongly desired a new husband. She tried every avenue she could think of to find a husband. Once she surrendered her need to the Lord, she had peace and enjoyed her life as a single person.

 

Two years later, she met her new husband at the sickbed of a dear friend. The ailing woman highly recommended each of her single friends to one another and they started dating.

 

Within a few weeks, they realized that they were very much in love, enjoying the complete peace of the Lord and were married at the bedside of their dying friend. Years later, they are still head over heels in love with one another.

 

As we cease from our striving and trade our self-efforts for surrender to God’s will, we start to serve God from a position of rest, daily obedience to His Spirit’s guidance and an uncompromising desire to live in the center of God’s will (Philippians 4:7).

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for teaching us to cease from living life in our own wisdom and strength, and from running through life with anxiety and stress, which make us unhappy and unfulfilled in every way. Help us to be grateful to You for every aspect of our life and to be satisfied with Your provision and timing.

 

Enable us to enter into Your complete trust and rest (John 14:27). Help us to be more concerned with Your will than our own, more eager to seek Your Kingdom than our own, and realizing that You will give us everything we need in Your timing and way (Matthew 6:33).

 

Thought for the Day:

Let gratitude for God’s daily provision, as well as the peace of the Lord, fill your heart to overflowing, trusting God to work out all things for your ultimate good. – Colossians 3:15; Romans 8:28

The Greatest Measure of God’s Presence

We can never go anywhere that the love of God cannot find us (Psalm 139:7-12). He wants nothing more than to spend time fellowshipping with us, and filling us with the greatest measure of His presence (Ephesians 3:16-19).

In our busiest or calmest day, He is always within us, desiring to lead us by His Spirit and to direct us to do His will. Yet, in the hustle and bustle of life we often forget He is there.

We proceed through our day relying on our self-effort and human reasoning, making our own plans without consulting Him first and carrying them out with varying degrees of success.

We continue through life like this, enjoying the simple pleasures and the fruit of our labor, forgetting that God has specific work for us to accomplish for His purpose (Ephesians 2:10).

Then, we hit a brick wall and get the wind knocked right out of us. We make accusations against God, calling Him unfair, unjust and unloving.

We may even walk away from God with anger in our heart. We do not realize that we are either reaping the result of our own choices or we are experiencing the effects of Satan’s lordship and sin’s power in the earth.

When we walk away from God, we compound our problems. We abandon our best friend, our most faithful ally and our loving Father who loves to bless His children.

God is still waiting for us right where we left Him. He is calling us to Himself and wanting to cherish us and direct us in His will and purpose for our life.

Prayer:
Father God, when will we ever learn? Since you created us, mankind continually walks away from You. Even with Your Spirit abiding within us, we ignore You and do our own thing, making trouble for our self and living as a poor example of Your child.

You are our loving Creator, Father, Provider and Protector. Surround us with Your love and fill us with Your peace and joy. Submitting our life to You as our sovereign Lord, we appreciate that You are just and righteous in all of Your ways. Teach us to dedicate every moment of our day to loving You in ceaseless praise.

Thought for the Day:
Our walk with the Lord starts at the cross and continues by living in the center of God’s will, which is the happiest place on earth.

The Breaking Point

People often think that the life we know is better than the life we do not know. That is why women stay in abusive marriages and continue to suffer the torment. They believe they do not deserve better.

When we come to Christ, He humbles us; yet He gives us His holy boldness. We start to realize that we are not defective; and that in Him, we are “enough”.

Christ in us transforms us into all that He intends for us to be. We no longer need to strive for perfection, because God’s Spirit within us changes us from one stage of holiness to the next (2 Corinthians 3:18).

We find our true identity and fulfillment in Christ alone (Colossians 3:3-4, 2:9-10; Philippians 1:13-2:16). We are adopted as God’s children, conformed to Christ’s image and co-heirs with Christ of God’s Kingdom.

Most of us need a breaking point in our life in order to step over the line from self-effort to Christ-reliance. The trials, which God allows in our life, are designed to bring us to the end of our self.

My breaking point was when the love of my life decided that there was no option for us, but divorce. I had no job, no alimony and no foreseeable future.

In this bewildering new world, my only option was to rely totally on God for each moment of my day. As I did, I entered a deeper relationship with our Lord; one that I continue to this day.

As I listened to His Spirit within, He led me to get a job at a Montessori school where my training and relationships taught me to nurture my own soul.

He also gave me two other jobs, so I could pay my bills and save for a rainy day. Eventually, in His perfect way and timing, He brought a nurturing, appreciative husband into my life as well, and restored my ministry as a Pastor’s wife.

Prayer:
Father God, You brought me to the place in my life where I stopped trying and gave up. I cast all of my cares on You, because I had no doubt that You cared for me. You taught me that Your Spirit will put us in the right place at the right time, if we will listen to that still, small voice within us (1 Kings 19:11-13).

Remind us that the sooner we stop trying, and enter into Your rest, the sooner our life will hold unspeakable joy, even in the midst of sorrows. Your Spirit leads us to be productive for Your Kingdom; and in the process, all of our needs are met.

Thought for the Day:
As we totally surrender our heart to God in prayer, we give Him our weaknesses and failings – even the sins we commit in secret. We no longer live in shame, but in the fearless confidence and identity of Christ in us. – Job 11:13-15; 1 John 1:9; Colossians 1:27

Mind Over Matter

There is only one way for our mind to control matter, and that is through satanic powers. Most of us never try this; yet, every day we attempt to control our life by our sheer will power (Matthew 6:27).

This accomplishes nothing more than to increase our anxiety (Jeremiah 17:5). The phrase that “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the Bible.

The only profitable result of us using our will power is that we eventually realize the futility of it, and we come to the end of our self-effort.

We quit trying to be good and to make things happen in our own timing and way; and instead, we trust in God’s will for our life (Isaiah 40:28-31). This allows us to enter God’s rest and for His Spirit to totally control our life (Hebrews 4:9-10).

God teaches us to separate our soul from our spirit (Hebrews 4:12). We disregard the thoughts from our mind, and listen to His leading in our Spirit.

Our human thoughts are centered on earthly matters – what we will eat, where we will live and how we will provide these items for our self.

The emotions, which accompany these thoughts are equally as carnal (Matthew 6:31). If we focus our heart on the temporal, we will work for and be controlled by the momentary issues of this life.

If we set our focus on things above, we have a spiritual context to our life, which lasts throughout eternity (Colossians 3:2).This way too, God will lead us in the center of His will.

In this union life with God, we realize in our spirit, rather than our soul – our mind, choices and emotions, what God’s will is for every moment of our day (John 17:11, 20-23; 1 Corinthians 6:17).

We follow His Spirit’s direction, even when it is contrary to the thoughts and feelings in our soul. As we recognize the union life provided for us by Christ’s suffering, we live for our Father every moment of our life (John 10:30, 5:19).

Prayer:
Father God, remind us that our heart is fickle and despicably wicked, and that we do not even know our own mind. Then, we will no longer allow our human heart and mind to dictate our activities and thoughts throughout the day; but we will focus on Christ and Your will for each moment (Psalm 57:7).

We will revere You and never be moved from following after You (Psalm 42:11; Ruth 1:16). You will cherish us in Your everlasting embrace, so that we will not even fear bad news, because we totally trust in You (Psalm 112:1-8). We know You provide a seed for a miracle in every trial.

Thought for the Day:
While we live on this earth, we have only partially tasted the goodness of the word of God and His powers, which will manifest in the age to come. – 1 Peter 1:23; Hebrews 6:5

Temple of God – Personal

As the temple of God, we are blessed that God lives within us, walks among us and calls us as His own unique people (2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Peter 2:9).

As we maintain our confidence and hope in Him, which is our delight, we are actually God’s house (Hebrews 3:6), a fact, which I find amazing!

We rarely appreciate how wondrous it is to actually be the holy temple of God, with His Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Nothing is allowed to destroy us or they ultimately will be destroyed by God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

In Christ, we are co-workers in God’s service; we are his field of ministry and His building made without human hands (1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 5:1). We cannot earn any of this by our works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

We no longer belong to our self, nor do we depend on our self or live according to our own plans (1 Corinthians 6:19). We spend each moment of every day walking according to the direction of God’s Holy Spirit (John 15:4).

Jesus entwines us together as His Body, until we are so united that we rise as spiritual stones to corporately become His spiritual Temple as well, and God abides with us forever (1 Peter 2:5; Ephesians 2:21-22).

Christ, as the Son of God, is faithful to provide for and to protect us as God’s house (Hebrews 3:6). He calls us to live healthy lives, free from addictions and excesses, with our thoughts focused on His Word (Proverbs 15:30; Philippians 4:8).

This maximizes our effectiveness for His Kingdom. We bring Him glory even in our infirmities, which He allows into our life (John 9:2-3). He uses us as living stones for His Temple, His called out ones (1 Peter 2:4-6, 9).
Prayer:
Father God, there is not one thought, idea or desire, which we have as human beings, which amounts to anything worthy of You. Yet, You have a perfect plan for each life, which You decided upon before we were ever born (Ephesians 2:10).

Remind us to walk in Your Spirit, so that we do not fulfill the lusts of our flesh and end up living under the dominion of the god of this world – the devil. Help us to see that nothing good dwells in our self-efforts (Romans 7:17-18).

We are hopeless without Your presence dwelling in our spirit; but, when we abide in You, we have no lack in our body, soul or spirit (Philippians 4:19). Thank you for fashioning us into Your Temple for Your dwelling place.

Thought for the Day:
Walking in the Spirit as God’s Temple does not give us spiritual pride or place us above anyone else, but is merely humble reliance only on God’s love, mercy, strength, wisdom and direction – one moment at a time.