Holy

Who are you in Christ?

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Fortress, refuge, and strength.
Who are you?

Introduction

Ever wonder “Who are you?” More importantly, have you wondered what it means to have an identity as a Christ follower? Ephesians 1 and 2 can revolutionise our understanding of who we are in Christ. Why? Because it is the gospel! Spend this journey with me through Ephesians and other Scriptures to help you develop the habit of taking these truths from these chapters to heart and become who you have been called to be—bring the gospel to life! I challenge you to take every thought captive and test and see if you are thinking, feeling, and living in light of these truths!

The first three chapters of Ephesians are doctrinal (theory), while the last three are practical. Chapter 1 establishes Paul’s view on the value of our salvation in Christ, and the blessings we obtain from it. He does this in the form of praise, directed at God, and describing in detail what it means to have an inheritance in heaven. Later chapters will build on these ideas as Paul connects who we are in Christ to how we should live as Christians.

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Who you are in Christ

So, I guess you thought I would just drop a list and be done with this topic? This topic is far too deep and real to just drop a list and be done with it.

Don’t be discouraged. Don’t procrastinate. Remember the power you have been given in Christ and replace any untruths with these truths from Ephesians and be radically transformed by the renewing of your mind. Look forward to living the rest of your days in the truths of who you are in Christ.

He died that we might live.

Be who Christ has made you to be

Enjoy His life and His power and His righteousness and walk forward by faith in every spiritual blessing you have been given in Christ and bring glory to His name! Throughout the upcoming days, prayerfully meditate upon who you are and give thanks to the Lord. Imagine the lives of those around you who will be impacted as you fully receive every spiritual blessing you have been given.

Thank you, Lord, for all we have been given in Christ!

Praise Him!

You are Chosen

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love. Ephesians 1:4

God chose every person who believe in Him before He created anything. These words have tremendous implications regarding the wisdom and plan of God. His wisdom and power are so great that He knew the present, even from the beginning. Likewise, He knew the end before the start. God exists outside of time, and created time. He is the only being able to know all things because He created all things.

Paul also notes a few important applications of God choosing us to be His children. Because of God’s wisdom, power, and love, our proper response as His children is to live in obedience to Him. We are to be “holy,” a word meaning “set apart.” We are also to live in a way which is without blame, an important characteristic for all believers, especially church leaders (1 Timothy 3:2).

The reference to “love” is typically considered to be part of a new sentence, not the end of the previous one. The concept is better connected with the thought which continues in verse 5.

You are Predestined

“he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–“ Ephesians 1:5.

Paul continues to discuss the theme of predestination, connecting it to the themes of love and adoption. Because of His love, God chose in advance for us to become His children. Jesus came at just the right time for Paul’s readers to hear the gospel message and believe. When they did, they became members in God’s family. Though they were not Jews, they were adopted as sons through Jesus. (Romans 8:15, 23; 9:4; Galatians 4:5).

Paul also teaches why God chose believers to be His children. It was “according to the purpose of his will.” In an act of love and as part of His divine plan, God designed a way for all men and women, even those not part of the Jewish people.

We are equals, as brothers and sisters, in the family of God.

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in Devotional, Identity in Christ, 3 comments

Are Truth and Love in Conflict?

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Do you feel like the truth is ever-changing? Do you often find yourself anxious about knowing what is true and what isn’t? It doesn’t have to be that way! Truth is unchangeable. Truth is always true despite how one feels about it; even if no one believes the truth, it remains true. Let’s get into God’s Word with this topic!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres..” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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Comparison is the thief of joy

When we consider ourselves in competition with people around us, people like classmates, neighbours, friends, family, it steals the new life that God has given us. When we are gripped by envy or insist on feeling less than enough, we miss out on the truth God proclaims. Jesus came as a man to show us that the kingdom of God was like nothing we had ever experienced or expected.

That’s the Truth.

He challenged the religious to rediscover their love for God. He chased after those who felt like their circumstances or decisions disqualified them from God’s love. In a world of laws, Jesus looks at a child and so we could learn from them how to love God.

His words are exhilarating and confusing at the same time. Discover the truth about the nature of God. Replace the word “love” with “God.” Then discover who God is transforming you to be. Re-read the verses again and replacing the word “love” with “I”. 

Go do that now!

What do these verses remind you about God? About yourself? What can you do today in response to what you’ve read?

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One Way to the Father!

Guard your heart!

God has an enemy who is continually trying to disconnect God from His people. Pop culture suggests Satan is a horned guy in a red suit carrying a pitchfork. He is much more subtle. The enemy’s desire is to drive a wedge between you and God. To twist God’s words, appeal to your ego, and introducing doubts. 

God is the embodiment of love, what better way to confuse God’s people than by distorting our understanding of love? The good news is that there is a true rock that we can stand on. When the world is swirling. The Word of God clearly reflects the nature and character of God. The story of the redemption He offers through Christ.

Been a Christian for years? Newly trusted Him for the first time with your life? God has equipped you with what you need to silence the enemy’s lies– His Word.

The next Scripture reading comes from Christ’s High Priestly Prayer: Christ prayed this prayer when He was in the garden before He was betrayed and crucified. He prays to His Father to protect His followers from the devil and teach them the truth of God’s Word.

How to guard your heart

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. John 17:13-19

The next Scripture reading gives us guidance not only on how to guard our hearts against the lies but how to go on the offensive by proclaiming the truth in love as the unified body of Christ. which is the Church.

Speak in love

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:11-15

Today, you have the chance to speak the truth in love to someone. Take a moment to pray for your conversation.

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Yes, but….

Photo by Joanna Anderson on Pexels.com

Have you ever talked to someone who answered everything you said with “Yes, but. . .”? They agreed that what you were saying was true but felt like there was something else that needed to be factored in to explain or justify their actions.

God’s truth is unchanging and immovable. It is as applicable to us today as it was to Adam and Eve. When we are tempted to respond to God’s truth with “Yes, but. . .” we know that we have allowed something to drain God’s Word of its power.

In the first Bible passage, the author of Hebrews warns his readers to guard against drifting not just from the truth, but from God’s truth that has stood the test of time. God’s truth has proved reliable again and again. So if you feel like you’re drifting, anchor yourself to something dependable. Anchor yourself to God.

Warning to Pay Attention

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. Hebrews 2:1-3

In the second passage, the Psalmist tells God’s people to listen to God and not harden their hearts and turn from Him, like many have done in the past. You may have recently given into the temptation to listen to another voice that seemed to promise better things than what God has promised you. If that is you, it is never too late to turn back to the Lord. Listen to His voice today.

for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.

Today, if only you would hear his voice,
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,[a]
    as you did that day at Massah[b] in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested me;
    they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
    I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
Psalm 95:7-11

That’s the Truth.

Listen very carefully to the truth you have heard. How can you avoid drifting away?

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Does Truth Matter?

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Do you feel like the truth is ever-changing? Do you often find yourself anxious about knowing what is true and what isn’t? It doesn’t have to be that way! Truth is unchangeable. Truth is always true despite how one feels about it; even if no one believes the truth, it remains true. Let’s get into God’s Word with this topic!

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

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Freedom of choice

The curious thing about freedom of choice is its ability to complicate life. Most people assume that they’ll be happier with more choices, but science proves the opposite is true. We actually become overwhelmed when there are too many options. 

The more choices we have, the more likely the options will undermine our confidence that we will make the right decision. We can become paralyzed wondering if there is another option to consider and then another one after that. This overwhelmed feeling is called decision fatigue and it can rob us of our certainty. 

Faced with too many choices, we often find ourselves stuck, making no choice at all.

The reverse can also be true.  Having only one option can feel restricting. Confining. 

That’s the Truth.

So what about when there is only one choice, one option, one path, to determine truth? When faced with the truth that there is only one way to God, and only the things done according to His ways are right and true, we have a choice to make. We can either  dismiss the truth as rigid, or…

One Way to the Father!

True freedom

Take comfort in the simplicity and clarity of Jesus’ invitation into true freedom.

Freedom to be kept in God, eternal life and to have the Holy Spirit lead us in making decisions and to comfort us in hard stuff. 

That’s the Truth.

When it comes to something as important and big as spending eternity with God and as simple as having a teacher and friend to help us every day, isn’t it a relief that the path to a relationship with God has been so clearly explained?

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12

Take a moment to reflect. Is there something, someone in your life that you have the freedom to choose, but that you recognise is not good for you? What can you do today to remove it from your life?

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Transformed by God’s grace

Be Holy

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1: 13-19

The above cripture challenges us to be holy as God is holy. Once we are born again, we are to live our lives as those who have been transformed by God’s grace, and by His power. 

Out of context and without the understanding of how God loves and empowers us, being holy sounds impossible…and honestly, it is. 

Your focus drives you

One of the first lessons a person learns when they start to drive is: whatever you focus on determines where you go. This truth can be found in the Bible too— we become what we behold.

Focus on the past and your mistakes, and you’ll find yourself headed back toward that same dead end. Focus on God, His holiness, and what His Holy Spirit gives you the grace to do, and you will discover that you are equipped to live a changed  and joyful life.

It’s common sense to recognise that something is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. No one would really argue that, right?

When you stop and remember that God looked at you and considered you worth His son, Jesus, as a ransom, you can see just how much He loves and values you.

That’s the truth

The phrase “reverent fear” can seem a little…intense, so let’s break it down. How would you define “reverent” in your own words? What about “fear” (think Bible, not scary movie). Do you feel like you have a reverent fear towards God? Why or why not?

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Relationship with God 

A common theme throughout Scripture is the abiding relationship God makes available to us.

This type of relationship is the kind God wanted with Adam and Eve before they chose to try life apart from God. But their choice to disobey God’s instructions, His laws, created a disconnection between humanity and God. 

In His goodness, God already had a plan—Jesus—to restore what was broken between Him and His creation. 

What you’ll read next is a plea by a man named John, who is a disciple of Jesus, a learner of Jesus’ ways, writes to people being pulled away from God. 

Knowing that God’s desire is an eternal connection, John wastes no words when it comes to challenging His readers not to abandon what they know to be true about God. Today, His Word serves as an excellent reminder to be on guard against sneaky lies masquerading as truth.

Lies come in all forms

Lies can come to us looking like advertising, song lyrics, overheard conversations, or even your own thoughts. The danger they represent can take a while to see, but they still put us in danger.

Both believing a lie or living a lie will lead you away from the truth and the peace that God offers.

As a follower of Jesus, God has promised that His Holy Spirit lives within you. You can trust that what the Spirit and the Word of God reveal is the truth– the Spirit will teach you everything you need to know.

That’s the truth.

Is there a lie that you have believed about yourself or about God? What Bible verse reminds you of the truth?

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The Bible also says that God’s character is reflected most accurately in his Church— not a denomination, a building or campus— but in his people.  

That’s the truth.

Know the Creator

Today, you can know the creator of the universe and trust that he knows you completely. God is trustworthy, because he is the author of truth. Truth is anything that agrees with what God has said in the Bible and what God has created. 

In his time on earth, Jesus reflected God’s compassion, mercy, and willingness to pursue the outcast and the overlooked. Jesus saw past people’s position, status, and condition and reached into their deepest brokenness with love and healing. 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7

Take a moment to express to God something you have not been able to tell anyone else. What is one thing you can do today to do his work and build up the church?

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