100-Day Identity Makeover: Day 57

Day 57

You Have Been Brought Near to God Through the Blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13)

Hear the heart of God in which He pursues humanity to reconcile us to Himself.

“…Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ… He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:12-13, 17-18).

Jew, Gentile… the Bible states clearly that the dividing line of hostility has been removed, and through the cross, there is reconciliation to God.

His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace (Ephesians 2:15).

The excerpt from the second chapter of Ephesians speak to God’s reconciliation of humanity as a whole, but it also speaks to you as an individual. You see, there is no other way to attain access to the Father in heaven except through Jesus. To refuse the promise of peace granted through the cross of Christ is to remain far from God, forever lost and without hope. That is a choice made voluntarily by each individual; never does God choose it for someone, for it is God’s will that none should perish, but have everlasting life in Jesus Christ, the Savior.

Mike Dow was not seeking everlasting life the night he met Jesus Christ. His reason for standing at the altar at the close of service was merely in submission to another person’s request. He wasn’t even certain what the pastor was asking him when the name Jesus was mentioned. Mike had other pursuits in mind and thought that if he could quickly say the things the pastor wanted him to say, he then could get out of the building and be about the things he came to do. The last thing the pastor asked Mike before they prayed was if he was ready to lay down his life and live for the Lord God.

Mike had no familiarity with the things of God. Drugs he knew. Deals he knew. He understood that his life was broken, but he didn’t know a way out existed. In a moment, though, as he began to pray with the man in front of him, Mike encountered a new reality- the risen and alive forevermore Savior, Jesus Christ, revealed Himself and demonstrated the all powerful truth of identity in Him when you say “yes” to your need of a Savior. Although no man put his hands upon him, Mike was tightly embraced in a bear-hug like manner, and he knew that he had been brought near to God! That is the power of the blood of Jesus, and that changes everything! Mike left the church service an entirely new man! Nothing was the same! He was now one with Jesus and embraced by God!

Child of God, you have been brought near to God because you have believed upon the blood of Jesus to make you a new creation. No longer do you have to wonder if God is pleased with you or if He accepts you. God sees the application of the blood of His Son upon you and He declares you holy and dearly loved. Run, therefore, to the Father’s embrace and know His undying love for you.

Walk It Out     Hear God’s Word and put it into practice (Luke 8:21)

Whether or not you have ever had an encounter with God’s Presence, ask Him to reveal Himself to you in new ways.

100-Day Identity Makeover: Day 56

Day 56

You Are Created in Christ Jesus to Do Good Works (Ephesians 2:10)

Have you ever seen a strong-willed child and wondered what kind of battles his parents endure on a daily basis? Maybe you were that strong-willed child, or perhaps you’re raising one! It amazes me how the strength of one’s character reveals itself in the very beginning. Parents and grandparents quickly recognize the dominant personality traits. My response to such observations- “God has a great purpose for that!”

There are certain things that each of us has been good at ever since we were little kids. Maybe we didn’t use the gift for good, but we were certainly good at it, and with some training, we had potential to use it for good. Take, for instance, the child who can strategize and work a situation to turn in his favor… Sure, it’s manipulation at its finest, but in the adult business world, it’s the gift of reading people well, selling your product in such a way that the potential customer sees no better solution to solving a need, and sealing the deal! See? God has a great purpose for the strategic thinker!

In Scripture, I often look to the example of Aaron. During the time of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, Moses and Aaron led the people according to God’s divine direction. However, on one occasion when Moses was away from the camp and receiving God’s conditions for Israel’s worship, the people grew impatient and asked Aaron to make a god for them! And he did! He fashioned a calf idol from their donated gold, and they had a pagan- style celebration of their new god.

Aaron had great potential for leading people in worship; however, he was mistaken in solving their need, and, in the process, misled the entire community! Through his story, we see the mercy of God; for, although Israel’s actions angered Him, still the Lord gave them another chance. God selected Aaron to be the first of the Levitical line of Israel’s priesthood- the men who would be separated unto God to live holy lives and to bring God’s people into holy communion with Him through worship according to His Word. Yes, Aaron was indeed gifted in leading others in worship.

What about you? Child of God, you were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance” for you to do (See Ephesians 2:10). Through the Spirit’s empowerment, the strength you have becomes a powerful tool for revealing the glory of God in the earth. In addition, gifts of the Spirit work in and through you to reveal God’s goodness in ways that far excel your natural abilities. These are supernatural gifts, and and through the filling of the Holy Spirit, you operate in one or more of them for the common good of all believers (See 1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

Part of the adventure in your journey with Jesus is discovering God’s potential within you. Jesus said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). But through your abiding in Christ, the true vine, you bear much fruit. Yes, you please God by doing the good things He planned in advance for you to do. Jesus said, “This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples” (John 15:8).

Walk It Out     Hear God’s Word and put it into practice (Luke 8:21)

Align your life with God’s purpose by simply giving Him your “yes.” Walk in the way He leads you with complete trust that His Presence and empowerment through the Holy Spirit will accomplish the good works in and through you.

100-Day Identity Makeover: Day 55

Day 55

You Are God’s Workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)

I once heard an account of Corrie ten Boom’s typical style of sharing her faith in God with a group of people. The late author and survivor of a German concentration camp had a compelling story, but her presentation may not be what you expect. It is said that she rarely looked up at her audience. It’s not that she had a bad case of stage fright, or she relied heavily on her notes; Corrie was known for working on a cross-stitch design as she spoke. And the conclusion of her message carried a dramatic punch! The backside of the cross-stitch artwork housed a chaotic display of strings and knots. She emphasized that we view our personal lives much the same: Careless actions. Traumatic events. Poor decisions. Countless failures… But, when Corrie reversed the cross-stitch piece and showed her audience the finished artwork, she drove home the point that God carefully places each part of our lives into a beautifully finished tapestry. Nothing is an accident. In fact, every step is meticulously crafted by God’s masterful hands.

In the same way a cross-stitch kit has an image to create and the instructions to assist the crafter in achieving the goal, God has a completed picture of your life. O, and it is so good! Not good as you understand good. God-style good! Beyond what you could hope or even imagine!

All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139: 16).

Even if the current circumstance or the blow you recently recovered from does not feel particularly good; still, the Father is working it all together for good- like a cross-stitch design yet to showcase its finished beauty.

Child of God, you are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance” (Ephesians 2:10). Do not grow weary in doing good. You are promised a harvest if you do not give up. With harvest time comes celebration, so keep your hand to the plow knowing God is doing a good thing in you.

Walk It Out     Hear God’s Word and put it into practice (Luke 8:21).

Take some time to write out a timeline of your journey thus far. Include the highlights and the lowlights. Put an ellipsis (dot, dot, dot) at the end of your timeline and write this prayer: Father in heaven, I give You the entirety of my life’s story because I know You have been in it even before my life began in the womb. You know fully what I’m currently facing, and You see the beautiful picture at the culmination of all my days. I trust You, Father, in crafting this life in such a way to tell the story of Your glorious grace.

100-Day Identity Makeover: Day 54

Day 54

You Are Raised Up with Christ and Seated with Him in the Heavenly Realms (Ephesians 2:6)

Jesus’ work in securing a gloriously victorious life for us through salvation and deliverance is already complete! “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s works” (1 John 3:8). And destroy them He did! Hell, death, the grave…. defeated! And not just for Himself, but for all who believe upon His death and resurrection!

To emphasize the truth of the already accomplished status, the Word of God states that Jesus is seated at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. And in case any further clarification is needed: “…far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:21-23).

Child of God, you are raised up with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly realms!

Live the Rise-Above Life.

God has so much more for you, and your perspective has everything to do with your receiving His abounding grace to you. Yet, if we only maintain an earthbound perspective, we miss heaven’s realities. Think about the man at the pool of Bethesda. The Bible says he had been an invalid for thirty-eight years! He was at the pool along with many others who gathered in hope that their afflictions could be healed. Where do we gather today when we seek resolution to something out of order in our lives?

The man was face-to-face with with the Spirit-anointed Son of God, the One who said He only does what He sees His Father doing (heaven’s realities). Jesus, hosting the Holy Presence of God, asked the man if he wants to get well. Perfect peace is Jesus’ reality, so perfect peace He offers. But get this: the man looked then to the pool and explained to Jesus that he tried to receive the miraculous healing that accompanied an angel’s divine visitation to the pool, but someone else always got into the waters ahead of him.
An earthbound perspective says, “I do believe there are miracles for a select few, and if I could be the first in the angel-stirred waters of this pool, I would be counted among the fortunate winners.”

A heavenward perspective says, “‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” (John 5:8).

Child of God, you know upon whom to fix your gaze! As one who is raised up with Christ, your view is from heaven toward the earth. You place the totality of your faith in Him who already overcame the world and is now seated and named the highest above every name and title! You live the “Rise Above Life” because God’s grace abounds to you in Jesus Christ.

Walk It Out   Hear God’s Word and put it into practice (Luke 8:21).

Target a situation that currently challenges your community of faith. Are there vacant seats proving the unsaved are not being reached? Is there apathy towards God’s Word? Are some suffering physical afflictions? Is someone walking through the valley of the shadow of death?  Acknowledge your privileged position as the Church- raised up and seated in the heavenly realms with Christ, and pray over the targeted situation with specific wisdom as the Holy Spirit guides you.

100-Day Identity Makeover: Day 53

Day 53

You Are Marked in Him with a Seal, the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)

Do you wear any ink on your body? If you have one or more tattoos, then you understand the draw to connect your life to something bigger than yourself. Placing words, numbers or images on your flesh sends the message, “It’s not about me. There’s something/someone greater.”

Man’s desire for a mark began with the purest of intentions, because the Lord God Himself instituted it. When God called Abraham to follow Him, He created a covenant in which Abraham would mark his body to prove he belonged to the Almighty. We know this act as circumcision, and all the men in Abraham’s family took the mark. Circumcision of the flesh continues today, but Christ- followers know our spiritual marking is deeper than an altered physical appearance – our tattoo is a heart circumcised by the Holy Spirit.

“A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code” (Romans 2:28-29).

Once a Slave to Sin, Now a Bondservant of Christ

In his writings inspired by the Spirit, Paul turned the well-known practice of branding slaves into a beautiful truth illustrating our place in God’s heart. He states that all of us were enslaved before coming to know Jesus the Savior. Paul described the stronghold to sin’s power: “…you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient… But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-5).

Now watch this! Each of us who received God’s grace has been rescued from enslavement to darkness; and although our life used to bear the markings of sin’s power at work in us, we now bear a mark of the Spirit- a “tattoo” declaring new ownership! “Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession– to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14, emphasis added).

Child of God, the Lord says, “You are mine. I bought you with the blood of My Son. I redeemed you, and I have marked you; you are tattooed with the Holy Spirit.”

Enslaved to the power of sin- that is a human condition. But thanks be to God who rescued you from the pit and put a new mark upon your life- a tattoo that proclaims new ownership- to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Walk It Out     Hear God’s Word and put it into practice (Luke 8:21).

Compare the markings of sin’s power at work in you before your salvation in Jesus Christ to the evidences of the “spiritual tattoo” you now have as a believer and bondservant to Christ.

Your Perspective is Everything

Someone needs to hear this.

Abstract smoke background that has spooky effect

Jesus’ work in securing a gloriously victorious life for us through salvation and deliverance is already complete! “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s works” (1 John 3:8). And destroy them He did! Hell, death, the grave…. defeated! And not just for Himself, but for all who believe upon His death and resurrection!

To emphasize the truth of the already accomplished status, the Word of God states that Jesus is seated at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. And in case any further clarification is needed: “…far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:21-23).

My fingers are screaming as I type! O, Father in heaven, embed this reality deeply into our hearts! I mean, let us marinate in this truth for a year or more, and then reassess. Our lives will look radically different because our outlook will be radically different!

Live the Rise-Above Life.

God has so much more for you, and your perspective has everything to do with your receiving His abounding grace to you. Yet, if we only maintain an earthbound perspective, we miss heaven’s realities. Think about the man at the pool of Bethesda. The Bible says he had been an invalid for thirty-eight years! He was at the pool along with many others who gathered in hope that their afflictions could be healed. Where do we gather today when we seek resolution to something out of order in our lives?

The man was face-to-face with with the Spirit-anointed Son of God, the One who said He only does what He sees His Father doing (heaven’s realities). Jesus, hosting the Holy Presence of God, asked the man if he wants to get well. Perfect peace is Jesus’ reality, so perfect peace He offers. But get this: the man looked then to the pool and explained to Jesus that he tried to receive the miraculous healing that accompanied an angel’s divine visitation to the pool, but someone else always got into the waters ahead of him.

An earthbound perspective says, “I do believe there are miracles for a select few, and if I could be the first in the angel-stirred waters of this pool, I would be counted among the fortunate winners.”

Heavenward perspective says, “‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” (John 5:8).

Child of God, where is your gazed fixed? Are you looking to earth’s solutions? Even if our world’s resources have some measure of success, shouldn’t we, instead, place the totality of our faith in Him who already overcame the world and is now seated and named the highest above every name and title?

If your story involves thirty-eight years or only a few months of chaos, will you dare to cast all of your hope on Jesus? His grace abounds to you. There is nothing that He has to return to earth to accomplish in order for your restored wholeness to manifest, because He already destroyed the works of the evil one. Simply come into agreement with heaven’s realities and watch your circumstances change.

100-Day Identity Makeover: Day 52

Day 52

You Are Adopted as Sons (Daughters) Through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5)

My first exposure to adoption was through Different Strokes, a well-known television show that ran during the ’80’s. The weekly episodes our family viewed taught me adoption is a choice based out of love. I gained understanding that those who previously had no belonging are brought into a place of belonging through a legal process. Finally, I learned adopted children share in the same privileges as those naturally born.

The Bible says that God chose to adopt us as sons (inherently means daughters too) “through Jesus, in accordance with His pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:5). Because He loves us, He made salvation in His Son possible for us! For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God, out of His love, willed that no one person should have to live or die apart from Him. It pleases God to reconcile you to Himself through Jesus Christ.

When you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, you immediately become God’s child and a member of His forever family. “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God…” (1 Peter 2:9-10). Child of God, just as an adopted child belongs with his adoptive family, so you belong to God the Father. Jesus’ giving His life for your sins completed the transaction, and the covenant of His blood is eternally binding.

Finally, do not forget that as one adopted through Jesus Christ, you share in all the same privileges. As Jesus hosted the holy presence of God and ministered in the anointing, so you host the Holy Spirit (See 1 Corinthians 6:19). And, when you are filled with the Holy Spirit,  you receive power to be God’s witness.

You are adopted by the Father in heaven, and as His son/daughter, all that is His is yours (See Luke 15:31). It’s time to accept the terms of your adoption. You were selected out of love, brought in to a place of belonging, and now live a privileged life as a son/daughter of the King!

Walk It Out     Hear God’s Word and put it into practice (Luke 8:21).

Repeatedly confess this truth: “I am a child of God, and that comes with great privilege!”

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