Our Identity

In one of the devotions in her book, Embraced, Lysa TerKeurst says when the heavens opened and God spoke at Christ’s baptism before his ministry began, God was well pleased with his Son. Jesus’ identity was in being God’s Son not in the great works he was about to accomplish.

Her point in saying this is just as God was pleased with his son before Christ began his earthly minister, God’s pleasure with us is not dependent on what we do.

Before we did a single thing for God, he was well pleased with us. Our identity is found in being a chosen Child of God. His son. His daughter.

Our identity is not found in the amount of good works we do.

It is not found in the number of times we say yes to a request of our time or resources for ministry.

Nor is it found in eloquent speech or Christian-sounding words.

In my present situation as a writer, I remind myself my identity is not found in the number of articles, devotions, blog posts, or novels I have or have not published.

My identity is not found in the number of writing awards I have or have not accumulated. It is not in the number of my followers nor is it in the size of my platform.

I would think in your life you have areas where you can say the same.

When we lean too far one direction in connecting our worth with our accomplishments, it can lead to pride. Lean too far the other direction, it can lead to discouragement.

Our identity is found in God and Christ alone.

God’s voice is the One we want to hear say he’s pleased with us. Sure. Having others say we’re on the right track and doing a good job is nice, but that’s not what defines us.

Do you find it difficult to separate how you view your worth from your works?

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Then John agreed to his baptism. Jesus came straight out of the water afterwards, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting upon him. And a voice came out of Heaven saying, “This is my dearly-loved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17 (Phillips)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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God Sees

Tuesday I received a text from a friend which brought me to tears. Instead of replying to her text, I phoned immediately. For the next hour her brokenness and emotional pain came through in sobs.

El Roi sees. Jehovah-shammah is there. Jehovah-nissi fights for us.

God sees us. He is with us. He fights our battles.

Two days later another friend entered the hospital for an invasive medical procedure – surgery. Facing the unknown can be scary.

El Roi sees. Jehovah-shammah is there. Jehovah-nissi fights for us.

God sees us. He is with us. He fights our battles.

On Monday of this same week I heard from yet another friend saying she went to an interview for what could turn out to be the long-awaited dream job she hopes for.

El Roi sees. Jehovah-shammah is there. Jehovah-nissi fights for us.

God sees us. He is with us. He fights our battles.

When we find ourselves in situations filled with uncertainty, we don’t have to face them alone. Just as God was with Hagar in the desert and the Israelites in the wilderness, he is with us.

It does not matter the situation. Relational. Physical. Financial. Emotional. The same God who has power over all things is our El Roi, Jehovah-shammah, and Jehovah-nissi today just as surely as he has been in days past. And will be in the future.

God sees us. He is with us. He fights our battles. Wherever we are and whatever we go through, God will never leave or forsake us.

Is there a battle you face today? Hang onto the promise you are not alone in the fight.

El Roi sees you. Jehovah-shammah is with you. Jehovah-nissi fights for you.

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Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” Genesis 16:13 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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When Our Arms Grow Tired

For Christmas this past year, Pie gifted Pilot and me with tickets to a Beach Boys’ concert which the three of us attended several months ago. We each thoroughly enjoyed the event. Especially Surfer Boy, Pilot.

Near the beginning of the concert Mike Love, one of the remaining original Beach Boys, asked everyone in the audience to take out their cell phones and turn on its light.

He then instructed us to wave our phones through the air while the band played one of my personal all-time Beach Boys’ favorites, Surfer Girl.

It was great. Arms waved back and forth in the audience in time with the song.

Well.

Pretty much.

Some folks were a little off beat.

Nevertheless, it was great.

Until …

I looked over the audience and noticed some arms no longer waved. They’d grown tired. They couldn’t keep up the pace. They fell in defeat.

After thinking about it, several things came to mind. One of those thoughts I’ll share with you today.

When we’re on the front lines for God, doing his work, fighting his battles, we can grow tired. Can we not?

Our arms can grow weak. We might want to fall on our knees in defeat to all the opposition thrown at us. It doesn’t matter our age one bit.

Just like Moses in the desert fighting the Amalekites, we need help.

As Joshua and his men fought the Amalekites, Moses stood on a hill overlooking them. As long as Moses kept his arms and staff in the air, the Israelites prevailed.

Whenever Moses’ arm dropped, the Amalekites prevailed.

Moses’ arms grew weary. He couldn’t help it. No matter how hard he tried to keep his arms in the air, he just couldn’t.

That’s when his brother, Aaron, and friend, Hur, stepped in. The two men found a large stone for Moses to sit on. Then they stood on either side of Moses, holding up his arms.

With the support of these two men, Moses was able to keep his arms and staff held high. Because of that, the Israelites were victorious over their enemy.

Don’t you think we need the support of those around us to fight our daily battles when our arms grow tired, too ?

Some days we’re Moses. Some days we’re Aaron and Hur.

When it’s our turn to hold up our friend’s arms, let’s not hesitate to step up. When we grow weak and need help, let’s not hesitate to ask.

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The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Pick out some men to go and fight the Amalekites tomorrow. I will stand on top of the hill holding the stick that God told me to carry.” Joshua did as Moses commanded him and went out to fight the Amalekites, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his arms, the Israelites won, but when he put his arms down, the Amalekites started winning. When Moses’ arms grew tired, Aaron and Hur brought a stone for him to sit on, while they stood beside him and held up his arms, holding them steady until the sun went down. In this way Joshua totally defeated the Amalekites. Exodus 17:8-13 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Allow Love to Rise Above Misunderstandings

Once upon a time, long ago in a land far away, an innocent man was betrayed by a friend. Wrongly convicted of a crime he did not commit, he faced an illegal trial and was sentenced to death.

The man’s heartbroken widowed mother attended her son’s execution.

During the condemned man’s final moments, he looked at his mother. Understanding the gravity of his death upon her, he spoke to a cousin standing beside his mother. The dying man asked his cousin to take care of the grieving woman.

The cousin willingly agreed. Taking his aunt into his home, he treated her as his own mother.

Despite the unimaginable torture Jesus endured during his crucifixion, he was concerned for his widowed mother, Mary. In his final moments, Jesus made preparation for her care. He entrusted Mary to John, one of Jesus’ closest disciples the son of Salome, Mary’s sister.

I believe many thoughts probably flooded Mary’s mind as she witnessed Jesus’ excruciating death. Perhaps among those thoughts were the words said over her eight-day-old baby boy in the temple thirty-three years earlier by the aged Simeon.

I have seen God’s salvation, which God prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of God’s people Israel! This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul, Mary. (Luke 2:30-35)

Do you think it possible Mary didn’t always understand the reasons Jesus did what he did, or the way he went about his ministry?

From my experiences, I’ve found misunderstandings have a way of causing confusion which can escalate and separates people. If there were any misunderstandings between Mary and Jesus, it doesn’t appear those misunderstandings affected their loving relationship.

There might be times our children don’t understand the reasons we do what we do. There might be times we don’t understand the reasons our children do what they do.

This lack of understanding can result in misunderstanding. Fertile ground for confusion and estrangement. Fertile ground for loving relationships to diminish.

As the day set aside here in the States to remember the women in our lives who nurtured and loved us approaches on May 12, perhaps instead of letting our differences separate and divide us from people we love, even in the worst of times, we’d be wise to  consider Jesus and Mary’s example.

Perhaps we should make sure we allow love to rise above any misunderstanding that threatens to separate us from those closest to us.

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Standing near his cross were Jesus’ mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the follower he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the follower, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, the follower took her to live in his home. John 19:25-27 (NCV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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It’s A Sign

One of my fellow teachers often replied to unexpected occurrences with “It’s a sign.”

Sometimes I’ll jokingly say the same thing. I don’t know about you, but I like to have assurance I’m heading the right direction whether that means driving in downtown traffic, which I strongly resist, or following God.

Throughout the Bible people asked God for signs to know they understood him correctly. Gideon and his fleece come to mind, as does Moses. In Gideon’s case, God provided a sign – twice – before Gideon acted. In Moses’ case, God told Moses he’d see the sign when he brought the people up out of Egypt.

It’s been said the most compelling signs are revealed after faith is exercised, not before. Funny how things become clearer when we look back on a situation, and see all God did to get us on the other side of it.

When God addressed Moses from the burning bush, and tasked him with bringing the Israelites out of bondage, God believed in Moses even before Moses believed in himself. It’s the same with us today. We believe in our I CAN’Ts more than we believe in God’s YOU CANs.

Moses’ mission wasn’t all on his shoulders, although at times he sure thought it was. His mission was accomplished through God’s power every step of the way. Moses’ job was to trust God completely and absolutely, then act on that trust.

God led the Israelites through the wilderness. He didn’t simply give Moses a job, then disappear. He accompanied Moses every step of the way.

Moses had plenty of reasons to fear returning to Egypt. Plenty. There was great risk involved. There was also the issue of a former prince of Egypt returning as a humbled shepherd.

Like Moses, when we accept the mission God has for us, when we step out even while shaking with fear, we see God work, we see his sign, and our faith has a chance to grow stronger.

When have you seen God work in your life after accepting the mission he sends you on?

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God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.” Exodus 3:12 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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I know I said I wouldn’t post videos due to the large amount of media space they take up on the blog, but after hearing a group play Take Your Shoes Off Moses last month at the Ozark Mountains Dulcimer Festival, I couldn’t resist. Hope you enjoy this song.