Circumstances vs. Identity

Today’s online Bible Study message got me thinking about separating my circumstances from MY identity!  Yes, I learn from the experiences I encounter, I grow through the ups and downs.  But that is not what defines me.  The Lord defines me.  I am HIS creation, and therefore, I am one of His GREAT WORKS!  So many times, I will have tears spring from my eyes when I realize who God is and what He has done for us.  He sent His only begotten Son to this crazy earth, to walk it in perfection, to take every sin (past, present, and future) on His shoulders, to die a gruesome death, and to conquer that death for ME.  For YOU!  Would Jesus do that for trash?  Oh NO!  He did that BECAUSE of the VALUE we have in the eyes of God.  God LOVES US THAT MUCH.  And God doesn’t love trash.  As soon as that truth hits me (every single time), I am overwhelmed.  How could I keep forgetting that I have such incredible value?  The lies of the enemy are strong, and GOD IS STRONGER.  So, let’s OWN OUR IDENTITIES.  We ARE daughters (and sons) of the King.

So much scripture speaks to this truth too.  Take a look (I have bolded, Italicized, and underlined specific text…)

Romans 8 English Standard Version (ESV)

Life in the Spirit

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh,could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Heirs with Christ

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Future Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing will separate us from the Love of God.  How deep does His love flow?  It flows deeper than the blood of the Lamb flowed from His wounds on the cross.  It flows deeper than the bonds of death.  It flows through eternity, from before time began, to well after time will end.  That is the greatness of God’s love for each of us, as His people, and as individuals. That is the greatness of God’s love for YOU!  Yes, YOU!  What stops you from accepting that love and letting it flow around and through you to define you?  Give it to God.  Confess it.  Let Him alone reveal your identity.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

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Chapter 5 Reflection Questions (Made To Crave)

Chapter 5:

“I was made for more” is a spiritual truth that unlocks great power for Christians (page 51).  When you think of your past failures and your current struggles with food [or for me, my diabetes], how do you hope this truth might help you?

  • I pray this truth helps me overcome the lies of the enemy.  He so often reminds me of my failures of the past and I get discouraged.  I think, “I am destined to fail again.”  Not this time.  This time, the enemy does NOT have power over me.  I am a child of the King of kings!  I AM made for more than this, more than my past, made for more than failure.  I am weak, but my God is strong!  Lord, equip me!  Help me to put on your armor every day so that I may stand firm, stand strong against the darts of the enemy.  May the shield of Faith block each blow, and may I use your sword of Truth to both protect myself and fight the enemy.

 

When you introduce yourself to someone you don’t know, how do you define yourself?  By your family relationships (as a wife, mother, daughter, aunt)?  By a professional title, or lack of one?  By where you live or go to church?  What might your introduction reveal about how you understand your own identity?

  • The manner in which I introduce myself seems to depend on the situations in which I am present.  This past weekend, I was at a church leadership conference, so I had my name and my church name on my name tag.  I also am the wife of the man leading the church we attend, so I frequently identified myself as his wife.  I had my son with me, so I identified myself as his mother, and Zander as our son.  What I am beginning to understand is that in society, we associate ourselves by those around us.  In God’s kingdom though, the only association necessary is that we are children of God.  When we have Christ in our hearts and have accepted the gift of salvation through his sacrifice on the cross, nothing else matters.  We are adopted into HIS family, and that alone means EVERYTHING.

 

Lysa describes how she once defined her identity by her circumstances:  Lysa, the broken girl from a broken hjome; Lysa, the girl rejected by her father; Lysa, the girl sexually abused by a grandfather figure.  Have you ever felt your identity was defined by your circumstances?  If you were to describe your identity as Lysa did, what would be on your list?

  • We all have our lists, don’t we?  And no list is any more significant that another’s list.  We all have our battles, and to each of us individually, our burdens and battles are hard to bear.  For me, I struggled with my identity for about 15 years.  I was Kara, the type 1 diabetic, the oldest child/grandchild in my family, the studious one, the overweight one, the ugly one.  I was the one who had no confidence, who gave into the desires of others because I was afraid.  I gave up my own convictions because I was afraid I would not be loved any more by the people I was with.  I was the people-pleaser.  I was date-raped.  I was manipulated.  I was lonely, scared, afraid of failure.  And yet, I seems to fail at everything I did.  I was a survivor of suicide.  I was depressed, struggling with suicidal thoughts myself, the one who struggled with grief and “getting over it.”  And the Lord has taught me much since my struggles with these “identifiers.” 

 

Take a moment to review the following list of statements, inserting your name before each one.  How does this understanding of how God sees you impact the circumstance-based view of your identity you listed in response to question 3?

  • Kara, the forgiven child of God (Romans 3:24)
  • Kara, the set-free child of God (Romans 8:1-2)
  • Kara, the accepted child of God (1 Corinthians 1:2)
  • Kara, the holy child of God (1 Corinthians 1:30)
  • Kara, the made-new child of God (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • Kara, the loved child of God (Ephesians 1:4)
  • Kara, the close child of God (Ephesians 2:13)
  • Kara, the confident child of God (Ephesians 3:12)
  • Kara, the victorious child of God (Romans 8:37)

This teaches me much about being an Overcomer!  I am not defined by what I see, what others see, in me,  The Lord alone transforms me, and each obstacle I face is another opportunity to allow the Potter to do His thing.  He shapes me and molds me, He removed the impurities and strengthens and reinforces the clay in His hands.  I am the clay.  I am HIS CREATION, and He has written ALL of my days.  I proclaim victory over the doubt, the depression, the history because I know He renews me every day.  This mindset is a work in progress, and I know I will have to be reminded of it often.  And I trust that God will whisper these truths to me daily.  I know without my past, I would not be who I am today.  That is only true because of who God is, and what He has done in my life.  To God be the glory!

 

Refer back to page 51 or your Bible.  Reread Ephesians 1:17-20 and reflect on the key themes of the passage using the questions below:

  • Be persistent:  “I keep asking.”  Do you have any reservations about asking God for wisdom and power each day to help you on this journey?  How do you hope persistent prayer might help you?
  • Embrace a true identity:  “Glorious Father.”  With what untruths about your identity have you struggled?  How might your life change if you could embrace the truth of your identity as a child of God?
  • Find the deeper reason:  “So that you may know him better.”  How might God use your journey toward healthy eating as a way to help you get to know Him better?
  • Discover a hope and power like no other:  “That the eyes of your heart might be enlightened.”  To what degree do you feel like everything depends on you—your will power and determination?  A little?  A lot?  To what degree do you believe that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is also available to help you?  A little?  A lot?  As you reflect back on each day, how will you know whether you relied on your own strength or leaned into God’s strength?

I didn’t think I had any reservations, and then I realized I have NOT been asking God to guide me on this journey!  Lord, forgive me for not inviting you into my struggle through this!  I need you!  In my weakness, YOU are strong!  I ask for Your Spirit to embrace me and guide me with your wisdom and strength today.  May I feel your prompting to drink more water, to eat smaller portions, and to make healthy choices.  May this journey be an act of worship to you!  I am reminded that my body is YOUR temple, so I desire to choose to care for it, to care for myself, as such.  I need your strength to help me make choices that will glorify you, that will strengthen and cleanse your temple, Mighty God!

In knowing whether I am relying on my own strength or the Lord’s strength, I think reflecting back on my choices daily will reveal the truth.  Am I choosing moderation?  Am I choosing to get up and move?  The daily struggles with temptation and experiencing life as an Overcomer will reveal the source of the strength.  If I rely on my own strength, I will fall.  I am weak, and my God is strong!

 

 

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