Monday Motivation: Don’t Be a Victim of {Spiritual} Identity Theft

The following is (for the most part) the written version of the sermon I preached at church yesterday.  I am always humbled and grateful for these opportunities to go before the people, and I pray that, even in this format, you are blessed by the heart of this message.

photo credit: dailymail.co.uk
photo credit: dailymail.co.uk

I faced some tough times my 1st year of college.  Going from California to Tuskegee, AL meant that I encountered a lot of new experiences in a whole new world, many of which seemed to knock me down at every turn.  I shared some of my struggles with then interim choir director Mr. Jackson, who at nearly 80 years old was full of wisdom and sound advice.  After revealing that many of my woes were the result of other people, I remember him telling me “It’s not what they call you, it’s what you respond to.”Read More

Monday Motivation: Don't Be a Victim of {Spiritual} Identity Theft

The following is (for the most part) the written version of the sermon I preached at church yesterday.  I am always humbled and grateful for these opportunities to go before the people, and I pray that, even in this format, you are blessed by the heart of this message.

photo credit: dailymail.co.uk
photo credit: dailymail.co.uk

I faced some tough times my 1st year of college.  Going from California to Tuskegee, AL meant that I encountered a lot of new experiences in a whole new world, many of which seemed to knock me down at every turn.  I shared some of my struggles with then interim choir director Mr. Jackson, who at nearly 80 years old was full of wisdom and sound advice.  After revealing that many of my woes were the result of other people, I remember him telling me “It’s not what they call you, it’s what you respond to.”

Those simple yet powerful words were the beginning of my realization of a life-long truth: there will always be people trying to tell you you’re something you’re not!   At 17 it was the start of some true maturation on my part, and later that school year I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I knew that I was incredibly unsure of who I was, and Jesus was the missing piece.

15 years later I know all too well that even as believers there will be negative words spoken or actions taken against you that are intended to cause you to stumble.  In fact, with the persecution, trials & tribulations we’re guaranteed to face, it may seem like this is even more the case.  You’ll be called or perceived as a failure, loser, not good enough on the job, in marriage, as a parent, etc., but here’s where it gets real: how do you respond?  If you don’t know the truth about who God says you are and what He’s called you to accomplish, what’s stopping you from believing the lies?  I’m here to simply encourage you with this:

Don’t Be A Victim of {Spiritual} Identity Theft

Jesus himself was come against with all manner of attacks, and the following is one of numerous examples we are to follow when standing up for who we are in Christ.

John 8:1-18 (NLT)
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
13 The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.”
14 Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. 15 You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. 16 And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. 17 Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. 18 I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.”

There’s so much I could say about this passage of scripture, but let’s keep it simple.  Jesus was face-to-face with people (Pharisees) who were eager to trap him, yet He maintained His confidence, boldness, and assurance of who God said He was. He spoke with authority as He addressed the accusers of the woman caught in adultery, and extended the mercy of the Lord to to her. He let her know (and us) that there’s no condemnation in Christ, and this was all before He went to the cross! Because He “knew where he came from and where he was going”, He was able to face these situations and remain without sin.  Most importantly, He was equipped to fulfill the incredibly difficult mission that would lie ahead.  Do you really think Jesus, REALLY, could’ve gone though with the ultimate sacrifice He made for us if He was unsure of who He was? Did He cry out to God and need to be strengthened at times?  YES!  But he always knew who He was!
You want to know why some of you are not on one accord in your marriage? Because you don’t know your identity in Christ!  You want to know why you’re depressed about the meager state of your finances? Because you don’t know your identity in Christ! You want to know why the cares of this world are beating you up? Because you don’t know your identity in Christ! You want to know why you’ve yet to overcome the stronghold that’s been hindering your walk for the last 5 years? Because you don’t know your identity in Christ! How can you make necessary changes toward the victory we’ve been promised if you don’t even know where to begin?  If you don’t know who God called you to be, how could you possibly know the power and authority you have in him? If we know who we are and how to use what we’ve been given by our Father, we’ll operate in faith, and be triumphant!! That’s a promise, but we must do our part while saturating our minds with God’s Holy Word.

Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

I want to give you just a taste of who God says you are. This is just the tip of the iceburg but if you continue to dig deeper I’m sure you will be incredibly encouraged!

7 Things I NEED to Know about How Christ Sees Me:
1. You are precious in His sight…Isaiah 43:4
2. You are fearfully and wonderfully made…Psalm 139:13-14
3. You are a new creation…2 Corinthians 5:17
4. You are a friend of God…John 15:15
5. You have boldness, access, and confidence thru faith in Him…Ephesians 3:12
6. You are part of the royal priesthood…1 Peter 2:9
7. You are God’s very own workmanship (masterpiece)…Ephesians 2:10

Be sure to click on the links above to access the full verse.

When in doubt, remember God’s Word & the absolute truth about what He says about you.  You are his greatest work of art!  In you dwells the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead, and nothing can separate you from His love!

He loves you, He created you, and wants you to operate in all the confidence and victory that comes from knowing who you are in Him!!!

BE BLESSED!!!

 

 

Monday Motivation: Strength in My Weakness

Just before heading off to college, I had a going away party.  Because of the Tuskegee schedule I ended up being among the first of my friends to leave, and I was filled with emotions.  I was extremely excited for this new adventure, but the thought of being away from the people I loved the most, brought tears to my eyes at the end of the evening.  Few (if any) of my guests had ever seen me cry, and when they all left I was upset that I’d let them see me so vulnerable.  I couldn’t believe I let them see the tears fall.  They must think I’m so weak now.  I’m better than that.  I’m stronger than that.

You see, for a long time I thought my power was determined by the mighty façade I was able to portray, not realizing the glory of the Lord that’s allowed to shine through us in the midst of our infirmities!  Yes, we should relish in certain accomplishments, but there’s no shame in weakness!

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (AMP)                                                                                                                                                                                         9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!10 So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).

To prevent pride from interfering with the work God did in him, the Apostle Paul was given a thorn in his flesh to keep him humble.   He begged the Lord to cause the thorn to depart, but even amid his brilliant and spirit-led revelations, he was told that Our Savior’s grace was sufficient enough for him.

Once upon a time, my pride dictated that tears meant I was “less than” in some way.  Even today I like to be portrayed as a strong person, woman, wife and mom, but I’m not lacking anything as long as I have Christ!  Regardless of how my flesh is perceived, I want the strength of my Spirit to shine brightly, so that He may continue to be glorified!!

Do you allow the Lord to be magnified in your times of weakness?

Related Articles:

Power in the Pitfalls by Shannon at Revelations in Writing

He is Our Strength by Sebastian at Faith 1st Ministries

photo credit: lifting-up-jesus.blogspot.com