Renewing Your Mind Day 9 – Changing My Mind About The Present

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Renewing Your Mind In 30 Days

(Eph 2:4-6) “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus:”

As far as God is concerned, we have already been raised up together with Christ. We are already seated together with Him in Heaven. Although you aren’t there yet, God sees you as if you were already reigning in the heavenly places! This is a powerful truth about your identity in Christ. It is a key to understanding and appreciating how God sees you.

This is where we find the real depth and core of living the Christian life. Living as a real Christian isn’t about measuring up to a standard or trying hard. Real Christianity is living in the present in a way that is consistent with who we already are – seated next to Christ in heaven!

Renewed Thought – Do you want to live a life that pleases God? Align your life with who He’s already made you to be in heaven.

Renewing Your Mind Day 4 – Changing My Mind About Identity

This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series Renewing Your Mind In 30 Days

self-image photo(1 Corinthians 1:2)  “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:”

One of the most difficult but life-shaping questions we could ever answer is: “Who Am I?” It goes to the heart of how we perceive ourselves. Like you, I’ve had many roles at different points in life: son, student, husband, father, employee, boss, pastor, teacher, coach and the list goes on. But then I also consider my behavior and have to consider another aspect of identity: Am I a sinner? Am I religious? Am I a good Christian? Am I a bad Christian? For sure, a lot of my self-perception has been shaped by upbringing and environment. But one critical thing I’ve had to learn is that God doesn’t expect my past to define my present and certainly not my future. In other words, God shapes who I am – nothing and no one else!

This issue of identity is so important because I live aligned with how I think about myself. I am an adult, so my decisions are adult decisions. I am a father, so I make decisions based on fatherhood. So if I start to think of myself as a sinner, or “merely a sinner saved by grace,” then I will not have the confidence that God has instilled in me as His child. I will live my life based on thinking about who I was before Christ instead of who I am in Christ. My decisions will be based on thinking I am a sinner instead of thinking I am a saint of the Most High God. Who I believe myself to be in the eyes of God affects how I live my life.

How could the Apostle Paul write to the Corinthian church full of believers involved in all types of immorality yet still call them “sanctified” and “saints?” It goes to the heart of how God views His people. One of the key things I had to learn after coming to Christ is that God gave me a new identity. My true identity rests in who He made me to be in Christ. Calvary and the empty tomb are the lens through which God now sees me and everyone else who trusts Christ for salvation.

It’s hard to believe that God actually does see me through the finished work. The cross is what allows me to be set apart from this world for a holy purpose. I am righteous because of His resurrection. I am also a saint, which is not a description of my behavior. Saint is another name for someone who is no longer identified as a sinner! This is what allows me to recover even after stumbling in the eyes of God. I don’t have to live in self-condemnation believing I am a dirty rotten sinner who will never measure up to God’s standards. I can live free because that is the person I am in Christ!

Renewed Thought – I am…all of the awesome things God declares me to be in Christ. Today, He wants me to live like that person.

Don’t Bottle Up Grace, Peace and Love!

bottle photo  (Ephesians 6:23)  “Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

At the beginning of this letter to the Ephesians, God’s provides us with His official proclamation in this Dispensation of Grace: “grace and peace.” (Eph 1:2)  We see this throughout Paul’s epistles. Here we arrive at the end of this epistle full of advanced information for our edification and encouragement. We see God has even more than “grace and peace” for us. He also gives us “love with faith.”  Grace, peace, faith and love are the key provisions we have from God at so many different levels it would take libraries of books to describe it all.

Ephesians provides the Church with the ideals in doctrine and application. Every local church is supposed to be a mini-picture of what is designed for the entire Body. We are supposed to be the visible demonstration in our communities that there can be true peace and true love. We are supposed to live at a higher level than the economic, political, entertainment and media driven society in which we are immersed. It’s important we recognize what God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ directs towards us today. But if we look around at all the problems and hypocrisy in Christianity, it’s hard not to wonder how God could possibly expect this out of human beings. On one hand God tells us he directs peace and love towards us but on the other hand we see just the opposite. Is God wasting His time or expecting something that isn’t possible?

In Christ, we are free from judgment and condemnation (Rom 8:1). We are free from the bondage of our old identity. Therefore, we are free to exhibit the attributes of God Himself because He is our identity and gave us every provision we need for Him to personally live through us. We are designed to live on a higher level than our flesh and the old sin nature. He is the One who makes us qualified and capable to live in a mature faith. The Lord doesn’t direct grace, peace and love towards us for it to be bottled up within the boundaries of our own soul and spirit. He provides us with His identity and indwelling, and thus a capacity, so we can reflect these attributes towards each other. This is the real key to overcoming every problem in a local church – living out who we were made to be in Christ. We can live better, higher and more powerfully than what most believe is “normal” in our local churches.

Renewed Thought – What kind of impact could we have for the gospel if our local churches were made up of believers reflecting the attributes of God towards each other and those without?