Identity.  Wether we admit it or not.  Whether we even recognize it.  Identity is at the center of our lives and our journeys as humans on this earth.  Who am I?  It’s a question that plagues us all.  It’s not a new question.  It has been on the hearts and minds of ever person that has ever walked on this planet.  I have often asked this question of myself.  But honestly, the question has always become bogged down in less about who I AM and more about what I DO.  As humans, we tend to define ourselves by what we do.  How good we are at something.  Whether it’s a sport, an artistic talent, a job performance, a grade in school or even the number of likes or shares on social media – we compare ourselves to find our worth.  For me when asked who am I – I often say…I am a husband.  I am a father.  I am a youth pastor.  I am a singer.  I am a tech junky.  But who am I really?  Who are you really?

The Lord’s sovereignty is absolutely incredible.  Let me explain.  This week I’m helping multiple students and families through the question of who they ARE.  So many of my students seem to be struggling more today – than ever with this question.  Partly because of the culture and partly because of the effect of social media and comparison.   As a 43 year old man – I’m not immune.  I’m struggling a bit with my own questions of life purpose, calling and at some level with burnout and seeing fruit in ministry.  So, it’s in those times that I get off center…making it easier to question and consider who I am.

So, as I sat down at my desk today to begin my day in God’s Word – I was blown away at what the Lord showed me.  He put three completely separate Bible studies in front of me today to remind me who I am and especially who HE IS.

  1.  Tomorrow’s youth sermon for Wednesday is called BIG WORDS: ADOPTION.  We are going to talk about what the word “adoption” means for a follower of Jesus.  We are adopted by the Lord into his family.  We are rescued out of sin and shame.  We are taken in and called children of God.
  2. Today in our youth D:Group lesson we are reading DEFINED Week 1 – Day 2.  The title is WHO AM I?  The reading includes passages from Genesis 2 about being God’s creation.  We are made in the image of God.  Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.”  Isaiah further reminds us of our true identity in 43:1 by saying, “I have called you by your name; you are mine.”
  3. Then to add to that – my regular daily devotional in the HE READS TRUTH app is currently in a series called, “I AM: Statements of Our Savior.”  Today’s reading is in Day 2.  It is all about how before even Abraham was, I AM.  The focus passage is John 8.  It’s one of the conversations Jesus had with the Jewish religious leaders.  He told them that they were not really children of Abraham.  They were speaking to Jesus as if they were something special simply because of their heritage as Jews.  Jesus boldly told them that they had no real right to the family of God simply through Abraham.  Jesus said, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.” (John 8:44).  Jesus then clearly tells them in vs 58, “I tell you the truth…before Abraham was born, I AM.”

In just a simple moment at a youth ministry desk on an ordinary day, the Lord brought so much together for me all at once.  We do need to know who we are.  But before we can know who we are…we must know whose we are.  We were once children of the devil because of our sinful nature and complete disobedience.  But, because of God’s great love for us…we can be saved by Jesus.  We can be brought near to God and ADOPTED into a new family…with a new name…with a clear purpose and plan for life.  We can be set free and be children of the most high God…the great I AM.

So, if you’re struggling with who you are…know that the great I AM already knows who you are.  Run toward Him today.  He will be faithful to reveal WHO YOU ARE.  There is hope.  God really is there.  If God can connect all these dots through three totally different devotionals in a single moment at the desk of an ordinary guy in Florence, SC on October 1, 2019…he can do anything.  He is sovereign. He is good. He is God.  He is the great I AM.  Put your faith and trust in Him today.  He’s my only hope.  I pray he is your hope!  I pray that he will reveal to you how much you are truly loved and how valuable you really are to Him.

Hebrews 12 & 13

Hebrews 12 & 13

This is the last day of the Crash Summer Bible Reading. We end today a 60 Day journey through the letters of Paul and Hebrews. What an amazing summer! Honestly, whether one hundred people read along in scripture and read these blogs or whether no one read – it’s been a great summer. It’s been so good for me personally to walk through these scriptures and I pray it has been helpful to you as well.

“Brothers and sisters, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for in fact I have written to you quite briefly.” – Hebrews‬ ‭13:22‬ ‭NIV

I love what the writer says here in verse 22. At the very end of the letter he urges them to listen and take to heart what he’s been teaching them. He says he could have written so much more. That’s how I’ve felt all summer. 60 days is just scratching the surface of what God’s Word has in store for you and me. God’s Word is truly life changing. You can do what you want with these blogs this summer – they are just words on a screen. But the Words of Scripture – now that is a different story. They are our daily bread. Don’t stop “eating” this school year just because we finished our reading challenge. Read God’s Word daily and let it change the way you think and the way you live.

It’s been good to be with you each morning this summer and now I pray that the Lord will use you mightily for His glory as you step into a new school year and share this Good News with your friends.

Amen.

Hebrews 10 & 11

In these two chapters we hear about faith.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In chapter 10 we’re encouraged that Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient to bring salvation once and for all and that we should persevere in our faith.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:19-25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Then in chapter 11 we see this long list of faithful men and women. A “roll call” of some of the most faithful men and women in scripture. At first glance this list might make you feel inferior. It might make you feel as if there is no way to be “as good” as some of these people. I mean…these are some of the most notable people in all of the Bible. A kind of “Who’s Who” list. But that’s not the point. In fact, if you dig a little deeper – every one of these people struggled in their faith in one way or the other. The point is not them. The point is Jesus.

In fact, that’s for tomorrow. Because in order to see fully the point of this roll call of faith…this “great cloud of witnesses,” you have to read on into chapter 12.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It’s all about Jesus. Our faith should only be in him. It’s not about our ability, our position, our popularity. It’s not about whether we come from a church background. It’s not about the law. It is ultimately about Jesus Christ. I pray you’ll put your full faith and trust in Him today.