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The Identity Test | Tested

#storychanging

The Identity Test | Tested

Monday I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.   Galatians 2:20

“I am” statements have been wildly popular since the toothy guy from Houston told us that’s all we needed to have our best lives now. “I am” statements are also found in the Bible, but not in the way motivational speakers use them. The first “I am” declaration was made by the Lord God in Exodus 3:14. When introducing Himself to Moses, God said “I AM THAT I AM.” So HE’S the I AM, not us. Paul gave us another “I am” in Galatians, but it doesn’t sound like our declarations. Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ.” Wow. Not very affirming, is it? Doesn’t sound like he’s saying, “I am complete in my amazing self.”

The world tells us that in order to live victoriously, we must convince ourselves that we’ve been doused in awesome sauce. The Bible says the opposite. It tells us we achieve our highest potential when we consider ourselves dead to this world and alive to God. The declarations that bring spiritual power sound more like this: “I am an unworthy sinner, saved by the amazing grace of Jesus Christ. I am nothing; He is everything. I must decrease; He must increase.” When we base our identity on anything other than who we are in Christ, we need constant fluffing. Trying to stay convinced that we’re wonderful is like trying to fill up on cotton candy. But when our identity is wrapped up in Christ, we find He is the only I AM that we need.

Final Thought: If emotional “I am’s” leave you empty, try it God’s way: Die to yourself and live for Him alone (Luke 9:23).

Prayer: Father, I spend a lot of emotional energy trying to make myself feel better. This verse hints that I might be doing it wrong. The only “I AM” in my life should be YOU. When I am in you, I am the best me I can be. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Tuesday For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  Philippians 1:21

“Sure, I’m a Christian and all, but I don’t wanna be one of THOSE kinds,” said Jack. “You know, those ultra-Christians that are so into it. Everything is about God, and Christ, and yadda-yadda… Sheesh! I mean, God’s great and all, but I’ve got a life too, that has nothing to do with religion. Surely God wants us to enjoy our lives and not be all about Him every minute.” Jack is being honest and he’s echoing the thinking of most Sunday pew-sitters. Maybe—although you’d never admit it—it’s you too.

Jack’s thinking describes an unnatural disconnect between the sacred and the secular. God knows no such disconnect. Receiving Christ as Lord touches every area of our lives. Mowing grass can be an act of worship if our lives are fully devoted to Jesus. Disconnect happens when we keep Jesus separated from daily activities. We become spiritually schizophrenic. This unnatural disconnect is one reason many Christians never live up to their full potential. They keep God in a Sunday box and only take Him out if they need something. Many never enjoy the new identity Jesus bought for them because they don’t understand what it means “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” A Christian is to be a mirror that continually reflects the glory of Christ. Death, then, only ushers us into His presence. It’s a win-win lifestyle with benefits that last for eternity.

Final Thought: There are no regular-Christians and ultra-Christians. For a true Christian, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Prayer: Lord, check my heart. Have I feared becoming an “ultra-Christian?” There is no such thing. Glorifying you is what it’s all about. I’m to love and serve you with all my being. Forgive me for not doing that and change me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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WednesdayThere is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:1

In April of 1975, the North Vietnamese were poised to take over South Vietnam. Air travel ceased, and the South Vietnamese people, including many orphaned children, were without hope. Then a group of flight attendants volunteered for a final daring mission. A Pam Am Boing 747 jumbo jet landed at a base near Saigon. At great risk to themselves, the crew smuggled 500 desperate refugees onboard and took off under communist gunfire. The fortunate refugees had done nothing to earn rescue, but because they were in the plane, they were spared a terrible fate. All others became the victims of a communist regime.

That’s what Jesus did for us. At great risk to Himself, He came to earth on a mission of mercy. When we receive His offer of salvation from sin, He ensures us a place in His kingdom. We did nothing to deserve such a rescue, but because we are “in the plane,” we are spared a terrible fate. The condemnation that we deserve was placed on Jesus and there is none left for us. Those who reject this rescue remain victims of an evil regime run by Satan. We were among them, but the moment we “stepped into the plane,” our identity changed. No longer “in sin,” we are defined by God as being “in Christ Jesus.” He declares condemned sinners to be righteous children of God and the only reasonable response is to live every day in gratitude.

Final Thought:  If you’re among those rescued by Jesus, live every day in light of what you’ve been given (Ephesians 5:3-10).

Prayer: Jesus, I can hardly understand why you came at great cost to yourself to rescue anyone who would get on the plane. But you did and I am so grateful. May I live every moment of every day in gratitude for how you’ve rescued me. Amen.

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Thursday The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”  Luke 4:3

“If you are a Christian, you wouldn’t be struggling with that temptation.” “If God really loved you, you wouldn’t be going through all this pain right now.” “If you really were forgiven for your past, you wouldn’t still feel bad about it.” The voice that taunts us sounds like our own, but listen a little closer. It’s the same voice that taunted Jesus about His own identity.

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve heard the devil’s voice. He can’t get your soul if it belongs to Jesus, but he can tie you up in knots so that you never enjoy the freedom that came with your salvation. One way Satan attacks us is to question our identity. If the devil tried that on Jesus, we can be sure he’ll try it on us. OF COURSE Jesus was the Son of God. Why would the devil try to persuade Him otherwise? Because he knows that identity is at the core of all our decisions. He waited until Jesus was at His weakest—no food for days—and then attacked with temptations that had the most appeal. He still does that. When thoughts rise up inside that cause us to question what God says about us, those thoughts did not come from us. Our enemy shot an expertly-aimed flaming missile. It struck and we’re letting it burn us. Truth will extinguish it.

Final Thought: Our identity must be grounded in who God says we are, not how we feel at the moment.

Prayer: Father, I have those kinds of thoughts sometimes. Maybe they’re from Satan, not from my own mind. Help me remember to do what Jesus did—extinguish them with scripture. I am who you say I am. I am in Christ. In His name, amen.

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Friday He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree…?”   Genesis 3:11

I’m boring. I’m ugly. I’m stupid. I’ll never become anyone important.” Thousands of people recite those mantras over and over to themselves, recreating the voices from childhood or past relationships. The verbal abusers may be long gone, but we take over for them. Someone whose opinion we trusted violated our trust with destructive words and we made those words our own. “I guess they’re right,” we think. “I’m not loveable. Something’s wrong with me.” So we take up the chant until those words become our identity. And because of that skewered identity, we make poor decisions, thereby proving the words true.

With our heads hanging low, we don’t see the thunderous fury of our Creator. We don’t hear His grief struck voice, “Who told you that you were boring, ugly, stupid, and unimportant? Who told you that you’re not loveable? Have you listened to the voice of your enemy?” Humankind has always had a problem with listening to our enemies, but it’s never been as bad as it is now. The internet, television, and social media have amplified those voices until we can’t escape the noise. Our fascination with the opinions of other people has left our hearts wide open for Satan’s messages. Advertisers know this and bombard us with subtle hints that we’re not attractive enough, healthy enough, having enough fun, or driving the right car. And we listen. We obey them. “They must be right,” we think. “I’d better go into debt to buy all that so I’ve got a chance of being loveable.” And Genesis 3 plays out all over again. We can’t stop voices from lying to us, but we can choose the ones who define us.

Final Thought:  Does your self-assessment agree with God’s? Who are you allowing to tell you who you are?

Prayer: Lord, whose voices are defining me? Which ones should I allow into my life and which ones do I need to cancel? Since you designed me, you’re the only one who can define me. Help me tune out enemy voices and hear only you. Amen.