by Angie Thomas

The question of our identity and purpose is perhaps one of the most perplexing, challenging, and ongoing struggles of our lives.  If I were in a conversation with you and said, “Tell me a bit about who you are,” what would be your response?  Would you say, “Oh, I’m a teacher, an accountant, or nurse; a wife or mother; an artist or writer; a sport’s fanatic, craft person, or musician; a runner, a health fanatic”? The list is endless.

But is that really who you are, or just a description of what you do? What if instead I asked you the question, “Who are you in Christ?”  If you are like me, you might stumble over your word’s a bit and say something like, “Hmm, well, let’s start with the fact that I’m a Christian.  I’m a Bible reader….most days. I am a regular church attender and when I can, a tither.  I am a Thistlebend discipleship study participant.  Do you know how challenging those studies are?  I am pretty sure God is giving me extra brownie points for participating in those. I am a volunteer twice a month down at the crisis pregnancy center and I really have a heart for missions and orphan care. Oh and did, I mention, I really love Jesus.”  Great. Thanks for the Sunday school answer.  Sorry, but actually that is not who you are.  You are still describing to me what you do. (And no, God doesn’t give extra brownie points for works—ever. 🙂 )

Sometimes I wonder if our Mighty God in heaven laughs or is deeply grieved because we just really don’t get it.  We want so desperately for our identity to be about us, but it just isn’t.  We have been given a new identity that has nothing to do with what we do but has everything to do with what Christ has done for us.  Here is what Paul says our response should be to the question, “Who are you in Christ,” based on Ephesians 1-2.  I beg of you to read through this list slowly, asking the Holy Spirit to really allow these truths to penetrate your heart.  Don’t blow through this list and then mutter a, “Thank you, Jesus” and be on your way with the rest of your day.  Stop.  Revel in these truths.  Be delighted, refreshed, renewed.  If you are a believer, these promises are for you.

In Christ, I am:

  • A saint
  • Blessed with EVERY spiritual blessing
  • Chosen before the foundation of the world
  • Holy and Blameless
  • Adopted as a son or daughter
  • Redeemed through His blood
  • Forgiven of my trespasses
  • Lavished with grace
  • Given knowledge of the mystery of His will
  • Sealed with the Holy Spirit
  • Guaranteed an inheritance
  • Made alive
  • Saved by grace
  • Raised up with Him
  • Seated with Him in the heavenly places
  • God’s workmanship
  • Created for good works
  • Brought near by the blood of Christ
  • Reconciled to God
  • A member of God’s household
  • A dwelling place for God

Can you catch a glimpse of the magnificence, the glory?  Isn’t it actually sort of unfathomable that the God of the Universe would bestow this amazing identity upon us, wretched sinners?  Our minds can barely grasp it, which is why I think we just tuck it back into our brains as biblical knowledge without allowing it to ravish our hearts.  I beg of you, please do not allow Satan the victory of stealing the treasure of these truths and promises from your heart. Paul knows that these truths are so profound and yet so hard to understand that he prays in Ephesians 1:17-19 that we would be given wisdom, revelation, and enlightened hearts to know the hope, inheritance and power that we have been given in Christ.

Ladies, this is our identity and every other identity is really just an illusion.  Every other identity we try to cling to can be lost or taken away from us in an instant.  Our profession, our family, our health, our hobbies.  Christ alone is the only thing we can cling to for eternity.

I humble ask that you would consider printing out this list of who we are in Christ this week and pray through it.   What are a few of those descriptions that puzzle you, amaze you, or perplex you? Spend some time doing a biblical word search on one or two.  Perhaps it is “adopted” or “redeemed” or “made alive.”   Allow the Lord to lead you through His Word to really cement some of these truths in your heart so that when the storms arise or continue to rage, you can rest assured of the glorious riches that you have been given in Christ. Your new and amazing identity.

An Anonymous Post

He is alive! We serve a risen Lord who could not be held by death or sin in the grave! This makes all the difference!

I know the Lord spoke to me so gently and sweetly during worship Easter morning as I was struggling with guilt and shame over several decisions I had made in the 24 hours preceding our arrival at church.  Two scenarios kept playing over and over in my mind like a broken recording.

The first involved something that has become very near and dear to my heart, loving and evangelizing our neighborhood.  My husband and I had been praying about who we could invite to attend Easter services with us and we have been intentionally praying for several of our neighbors.  Two of them just “happened” to stop over at our house yesterday and I neglected to extend the offer to attend services to both of them.  I allowed my fear of man and my “common sense” to win out.  One of them we have extended an offer to many times and she has always declined.  The other one seems very skeptical of church.  I chose fear over faith.

The other situation involved an ongoing area of sanctification for me…being concerned about my appearance and image.  I got up early with the intention of having some time with the Lord in prayer and praise.  I was really looking forward to it on this Easter morning.  However as I walked into my closet to get dressed the enemy knew I was a sitting duck.  It was Easter and in my heart I wanted to look “cute.”  What could I find in my closet to fit the bill?  So instead of having 30 minutes in holy communion with Jesus that morning I spent it frazzled as I tried on multiple outfits that just didn’t work.

Admitting this to you all is pretty embarrassing, but I am so glad that while my sin at times may describe my struggles it does not define me and that is especially poignant and beautiful on Easter.  The verse Laurie shared recently in her Who Am I in Christ lecture rings true, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

So as I sat in worship try to self-atone for my stupid mistakes the words of the songs we were singing about the cross finally penetrated my heart. Jesus was whispering to my heart, “…look to the cross. It is your sins I bore there.  Confess them and walk forward in newness of life, free from guilt and shame.”

If you are struggling with any guilt or shame today bring it to the cross and remember that Jesus suffered once for all time and bore God’s wrath on our behalf.  Let’s let Jesus and the cross have dominion over our sin today and this week as we walk forward by His grace in faith!

by Susan Sampson

Recently my husband saw what he thought were mice droppings in a drawer in our kitchen.  I have an irrational fear of mice.  We had mice several years ago, but we remodeled our kitchen and I thought that problem had been solved.  I was immediately sick to my stomach and started crying so Jeff tried to convince me they were just burnt food pieces off the oven mitts.  Then the other morning as I was making breakfast, I saw mouse droppings in the food pantry and again began to panic.  Jeff said he didn’t think they were in there so I looked again and then actually saw a mouse on the shelf!  My heart was pounding and I was fighting the tears again.

As he was wondering where they were getting in, I suddenly remembered years ago when we did our remodel seeing a small hole in the wall of the pantry which I’m now thinking never got closed up. I didn’t even remember this hole was there, but the mice have silently crept in and have been causing destruction to the food in our pantry little by little.

All our thinking must be built on the Word of God, on the truth of His Word, or else it is sand.  If not, there are holes and the structure will not be able to stand. Feelings are sand.  The waves of our circumstances are not solid ground.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matt. 7:24-27)

I am really weak in the area of my thought life.  I so easily allow my thoughts to wander and spiral.  I do more listening to myself talk than I do speaking truth to myself.  I want to take God’s Word seriously.  I want to dwell in Christ and on His Word and no longer on how I feel moment by moment.  That is sinking sand.

I desperately need the grace of God to enable me to obey His word in Philippians 4:8-9.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

I could probably recite this verse somewhat accurately from memory, but I do not do this moment by moment day by day.  I know I dwell more on “what if.”  The “what if’s” aren’t truth.  They are sand.  They will cause us to drown and our house to fall.

I also see that God’s Word tells me not just on what to think but also to practice what I’ve learned (Phil. 4:9).  In many ways I do not do this.  But most painfully the Lord is revealing to me how I’m not completely honoring all of God’s Word with respect to the Scriptures of how I am to treat my husband.  I have put myself before him.  I have not considered him more highly than myself.  I have not loved him as myself.  I have allowed my feelings to be more important than my husband.  This is not the gospel. This is building on sand.

But there is good news.  Because 2000 years ago, the Son of God chose to humble himself and become obedient to death on a cross out of His great love for us, all the wrath I deserve for my disobedience and idolatry was poured out on Him instead of me!

…and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Cor. 5:15)

Lord, help us to see the cross of Christ, to see our sin upon our Savior, and to be grieved into repentance (2 Cor. 7:9).  May we turn from our sin of building on the sand and turn in faith to the Rock, Jesus Christ.  As we see Him carry His cross to Calvary on our behalf, may we, by your Spirit, be compelled to pick up our cross and put our selves to death and follow Him, the Chief Cornerstone, in humble surrender. Thank you, Jesus, for bringing us near by the blood of your cross.  In your name we ask this, Amen.