I am . . .

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Fill in the blank:  I am ____________.  Fill that blank in with how you identify yourself.  Are you somebody’s mother, someone’s child, someone’s sister or brother, someone’s wife or husband?  Would you identify yourself as it relates to your profession?  Would you identify yourself according to your past?  There are many ways people identify themselves and we need to make sure we get this right when we’re talking about our faith walk.  When we take a stand in our faith and we’re believing God’s Word and standing on His promises, one of the ways the enemy can come against us is “Well, who do you think you are that God’s going to move on your behalf?”  That’s why it’s important that we establish who we are and more importantly who we are in Christ.

I was listening to a sermon this week entitled “Precious in His Sight” and he made the statement that our identity needs to be anchored in bedrock; a solid, reliable, immovable foundation, and that foundation is God and His love for us (and I believe these two are inseparable).  This is what will cause our confidence to rise up and cause us to be who we’re supposed to be in Him.  Many times when the enemy comes against us like this, it not only challenges our identity, but it challenges our value and our worth.  One thing that we need to remember is that we are very precious to God.  We have been purchased with the precious blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18-19), and since that blood is so precious, then that tells us how precious we are to Him.  Even though there may be times when we may not feel very precious we have to go back and look at what purchased us; what purchased our salvation, what provided us with authority and put us in right-standing with God.

We need to look at who we are in Him and let that become real to us.  We need to know who we are, what authority we have, and be grounded in that.  Our fight of faith is mainly against the thoughts the enemy brings and we have to remember that he is a defeated foe already, so we have to know who we are in Christ and know that the enemy is powerless.  There’s so much that we haven’t grasped when it comes to who we are in Christ.  We know that if we have been born again we are a child of God and that’s something I think we take way too lightly.

So who are we?

  1. We are loved by God. (1 John 3:1) (And there are many more)
  2. We are a child of God. (1 John 3:1)
  3. We are born of God. (John 1:12-13)
  4. We are heirs of the Father, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:16-17)
  5. We have been seated with Christ. (Ephesians 2:4-6)

These are just a few so I would encourage you this week to do a search through the Bible looking for scriptures that say things like “in him”, “in Christ”, “through Christ”.  Write them down and meditate on them and use them to establish your identity in God.

I want to share with you something the Lord showed me this morning.  He said “You can’t move not one little bit without touching My love.”  That was a real revelation for me!  That love surrounds us.  It’s what we can stand on no matter what is going on in our lives right now.  We can rest in the love of God.  We can stand solidly on that love and that is how we should identify ourselves.  That is who we are.  We are a child of God and we are loved by Him.

When we become established in who we are in Christ then we can firmly tell our flesh to sit down and shut up and we can tell the enemy, “Do you know who you’re talking to?  I’m a child of God.  I’m born of God.  I am His heir and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, and you are a powerless, uncircumcised nobody.”  We have got to know who we are in Christ.  Remember we have to establish our identity on a firm foundation which is in God, which is solid and firm and immovable, and the love of God.  This is what our identity is based on.  That’s our bedrock.  That’s our foundation that no matter what comes our way we know that we are God’s and He is our loving Father.  It’s what surrounds us, it’s what we stand on, it’s our basis.  It’s our identity!!!  I know I’m repeating myself here, but this is so important!

I really believe that these are things that we need to get established in in our faith walk and it needs to get established early on because if we don’t get these things established in our heart then we’ll be scrambling and not knowing what to say and keeping our mouth closed and playing mind games with the enemy.  Let me give you a news flash here, the enemy can’t read your mind.  He comes against you in your mind but he can’t read your mind, so when you’re doing that battle you fight with an open mouth.

Again, I encourage you to get in the word.  Write these scriptures down.  Get grounded, get your feet on that bedrock, that unchangeable solid rock; that firm foundation of God and His love.  Just spend some time meditating on the Word and ask the Lord to reveal to you His love for you and He will.  If you will open up your spirit to His Holy Spirit – remember He lives in us, we abide in Him and He abides in us – He will reveal His love to you in ways you’ve never known before.  I pray that God will reveal to you this week the breadth and length and depth and height of His love and that it becomes so much a part of you, that you are so grounded in it that that’s what you stand on and that’s who you identify yourself as, that you are loved by God and you are His child!

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Fully Persuaded

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“God delights in His children stepping out over the aching void with nothing underneath their feet except the Word of God.”

Dr. Lillian B. Yeomans

I hope you’ve had a good week and you’re ready for part two of our Faith series!  Before we get started, there’s a scripture I want to share with you, and I would encourage you to refer to it quite often throughout this series, and that is Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (KJV)  I really like how the Amplified puts it – “And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].”  The reason I wanted to share this is to encourage you to take this time to renew your mind and examine – or re-examine – how you look at faith.  As you study the scriptures open your mind to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to daily increase your knowledge and understanding.

Let me ask you a question.  In whom do you put your confidence?  Who in your life can you put complete confidence in and know that no matter what they are going to be there for you and will be with you through thick and thin?  Who’s that person that you can trust to keep your deepest secrets and never let you down?   Who’s that person who, when they tell you they’re going to do something, you can confidently expect them to do it?  I’m sure those of you who have a spouse would be quick to name your spouse.  Many of us put confidence in our parents and close family members, or that close friend that we can confide in.

Let’s look at a scripture I’m sure you’re familiar with, Hebrews 11:1.  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (KJV)  I believe this verse has been hard for us to understand because we’ve looked at it from modern day definitions, so let’s dissect this verse looking at the Greek definitions using Strong’s and Vine’s dictionaries.

  • Strong’s uses the words “persuasion”, “a moral conviction of the truthfulness of God,” and “assurance” to define faith. Vine’s is pretty similar but elaborates a little more:  “firm persuasion, a conviction based upon hearing.”  I thought this was pretty interesting because we know that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  (Romans 10:17) (Just a side note here, conviction is defined as a firmly held belief.)  Vine’s further notes that “The object of Abraham’s faith was not God’s promises . . . his faith rested on God Himself.”
  • I’ve always heard the word “substance” defined as “confidence, assurance, confident assurance”; which both dictionaries support, but Strong’s also defines it as “a setting under (support)”.
  • The word “hope” is defined by Strong’s as “expect”, which is definitely not how we would define it based on the English language.
  • Lastly, evidence is defined as “proof, conviction”.

So if we look at this verse in the context of these definitions, I think we could safely define faith – and I’m going to specifically say faith in God (our firm persuasion in the truthfulness of God) – is the support (it’s what we can confidently stand on) for those things we confidently expect, the proof of things not yet unseen.

Now, you can look at other translations and see various other translations of this verse, but I think another verse to look at that makes is so very simple is Romans 4:20-21.  This, too, is a familiar chapter that talks about the example of Abraham and these specific verses speak to his faith.  “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”  That’s pretty much it in a nutshell; being fully persuaded that what God has promised, He is able also to perform it – and the Bible is full of the promises of God. His promises and His Word is what we can confidently stand on.

When I was thinking about this word “substance” and looking at the definitions, I thought about David – and just let me just say here that the more I think about this passage the more I see it as a true picture of David’s faith in God.  Remember when he told Saul that the Lord that had delivered him out of the paw of the lion and the bear would also deliver him out of the hand of the Philistine?  Then he turns around and tells Goliath the same thing.  He said “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand; and I will strike you down.”  (My paraphrase)  Then I love what he says in verse 47 “And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.”  What a perfect picture of confident assurance in his God!  David didn’t go out to face Goliath hoping (as we would define it today) that God would deliver him; he went out knowing and expecting God to do one more time what He had done with the lion and the bear!  David faced his giant knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt God was going to deliver this giant into his hands!

Whatever you may be facing right know, whatever your “giant” may be, stand on God’s promises, being fully persuaded that what God has promised He will do.  If you haven’t written down scriptures that pertain to your specific situation yet, now would be a good time to do that.  Read them out loud so that you hear them, read them with authority and let the reality of those promises get deep down inside you.  God’s Word is your support,  again it’s what He’s given us to stand on.  If you need a faith booster, look at Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”  We are saved by grace through faith, which is probably our greatest act of faith!

I would encourage you write down those scriptures and meditate on them.  Read the scriptures above and ask the Holy Spirit for revelation and understanding.  I assure you He will do it if you’ll take the time to get quiet and listen.  I pray that your faith will continue to grow stronger as you stand firmly on the promises of God and His faithfulness.  If you have any questions or comments or wish to share your “faith” experiences, please share them with us!

Faith Versus the Giant

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I’m so excited to launch a series on faith!!!  I would encourage you to take notes so you can refer to them throughout the week (or weeks).  Also, please feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have.  Through God’s guidance I will respond to you as quickly as I can.  These will probably be longer than what I have posted in the past, but I know this is where the Lord is leading, so let’s get started!

I know faith is a term we’re all familiar with, yet it tends to be an area we seem to struggle with, at least in certain areas of our lives.  I was listening to a teaching this week, and the Lord revealed some things to me about a particular passage in the Bible that I never really considered could be related to faith, and I felt it would be a great way to kick this series off.  This starts off in I Samuel 17, yes the story of David and Goliath, which I’m sure you’re also familiar with, but let’s refresh our memory.

Saul and the men of Israel had gathered by the valley of Elah to battle against the Philistines.  The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side of the valley and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side and the valley was in between them.  Well, the Philistines had a champion in their army named Goliath.  The dude stood 9-feet 9-inches tall, wore a coat of armor that weighed 125 pounds.  He had a bronze helmet on his head, bronze armor on his shins and a bronze javelin slung on his back.  He had a spear, the head of which alone weighed 15 pounds.  The guy was pretty much covered in armor, and then he had a man going before him that carried his shield.  For forty days, twice a day, he would stand and shout before the ranks of Israel “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me.  If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.  This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” (I Samuel 17:8-10 NIV).  Needless to say, there were no takers.

Well, back on the home front Jesse called David and told him to take some things to his brothers and Saul and see how they were doing.  When David got there the army was going out to fight again the Philistines, so David ran into the army and found his brothers.  While he was there, Goliath came out and gave his usual challenge and David heard him.  When the Israelites saw Goliath they did what they’d been doing for 40 days – ran.  They said “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.” (Verse 25)  I love David’s response – “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel?  Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”  (Verse 26)  So they repeated back to David what Saul had said.  Then David’s oldest brother got into it and it was pretty evident he didn’t want David there and thought his intentions were just to come and see the battle.  David’s response to him was “Now what have I done?  Can’t I even speak?” (Verse 29)  At that point he turned from his brother and asked again, and again they answered him.  Apparently there was some more conversation between David and the men and he was brought to Saul.

Verses 32 through 37 read “David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”  Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”  But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.  The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”  And Saul said “Go.”

Needless to say, David had no armor, so Saul tried to put his armor on David, but David ended up taking it off and he went out to meet Goliath with his staff in one hand, five stones in his shepherd’s bag and a sling in his other hand.  Now you have to picture this.  You’ve got Goliath, a 9-foot 9-inch man, fully decked out in his armor that probably weighed more than David himself, a spear and a man going before him with his shield, and David (remember David was a young man, probably even a teenager) shows up with his shepherd’s staff, a sling and a few stones.  From all outward appearances, this wasn’t really going to be a fair fight – a massive giant versus a little shepherd dude.  Amazingly, instead of seeing this as an easy victory, Goliath got mad; was insulted that this boy had come out to fight him.  “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.  “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”  (Verses 43-44)

And here is David’s response “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”  Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.  So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.”  (Verse 48-50)

What a clear picture of faith!!!  I want to point out a few things to you.  Number one, David called Goliath an “uncircumcised Philistine.”  Circumcision was the sign of the covenant God had made with Abraham.  David realized that first of all he had a covenant with God which had empowered him to kill the bear and lion, and would empower him to kill Goliath, as well; and secondly Goliath had no covenant with God, rendering him powerless, no matter of his stature or how much armor he had.  Number two, he ran right into the midst of the army; the NIV says he “ran to the battle lines.”  Granted he knew nothing of Goliath at this point, but the fact that he was entering the battle lines didn’t scare him (and he also ran to the battle line against Goliath).  Number three, when his brother came against him, he gave him a quick response and turned away from him.  Number four, “David said”.  When David met Goliath and Goliath gave his little spill to David, David didn’t just charge him with a sling and stone, he said “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, and this day the Lord will deliver you in my hands.”

Now, this is how we can apply this to our lives.

  1. We have a covenant with God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Through that covenant we have been empowered and been made victorious (1 John 5:4).  Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  We must realize that our enemy has already been defeated (Colossians 2:15)
  2. We face our battles head on, knowing that God is on our side. Isaiah 52:12 says “…For the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.”  The word “rereward” has been translated in some instances as “rear guard”, however, in the Hebrew it also means “gather you up.”  Know that no matter what you face, you’re never alone.  He has said He would never leave us nor forsake us.  (Hebrews 13:5)
  3. There will be people who will try to discourage you because a lot of people don’t understand what it means to walk by faith. It doesn’t make sense to them.  However, the Lord says that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8).  You have to put your confidence in God and His promises and “turn away” from people who are going to discourage you in your faith walk.
  4. We have to speak. Even though the enemy comes against us in our thoughts and our mind, we must respond verbally.  If you’ll go back and read Matthew 4, when satan tempted Jesus he responded to him with the Word, and this is exactly what we have to do.  Whatever circumstances you may be facing, find scriptures that relate specifically to your situation, as well as the promises of God; write them down somewhere where you can easily access them and read them out loud; meditate on them so that when the enemy comes against you, you can quickly respond to him with the Word.

I pray that these blogs will encourage you and that your faith will grow even more than you could ever imagine in the coming weeks, that you’ll be able to comprehend the authority you have as a child of God, and live in the fullness of Him!