Self-Identification — Realigning to our God Identity

Biblically, self-identification comes through realigning to our God identity and coming into agreement with what He says is true about us.

While the western world has perhaps created confusion around self-identification, the concept of recognizing and acknowledging who we are goes beyond the realms of governments and social correctness. How we view ourselves and who we verbally declare ourselves to be forms the grid upon which we make life choices and decisions.

The Bible offers a clear view of who God declares us to be in Christ. Adopting His viewpoint becomes pivotal to our success and reaching our full potential.

I constantly remind myself of these basic principles, introducing them to the people I mentor. I ask them to daily repeat (out loud) God’s identifying truth for several weeks to solidify them in their hearts and minds.

The first step to realigning to our God identity begins as we experience His love for and acceptance of us — welcoming us into a personal and ongoing relationship with Himself. From that beginning, God calls us to steward His truth. This includes His truth about ourselves.

If we don’t allow God to “label” us, the world will.

Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value].”
Colossians 3:2 AMP

Our words repeat heavenly realities, and our lives reflect our beliefs.

Who I Am

Realigning to our God identity falls under three main categories: who God says I am, what God says I can do, and what He says I can have. I don’t believe in a “name-it-and-claim-it” philosophy, but I do believe God’s Word to be infallibly true. As a result, whatever He says I believe.

That faith-hold on His Word comes by hearing it again and again. Just as an abused child believes their worthlessness through repeated actions and verbal declarations, the reverse holds true. The lies and judgments we have heard and come to believe break away as we steward God’s truth over ourselves.

Though this list is far from exhaustive, I include a few main points below.

I am

  • a Son (Daughter), a child of God and not an orphan (John 1:12)
  • God’s adopted child (Ephesians 1:5)
  • in Christ and He is in me (Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:30)
  • holy and blameless through the finished work of Jesus on the cross (Ephesians 1:4)
  • a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)
  • secure in my relationship with God (John 10:28-29)
  • fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14)
  • a friend of Jesus (John 15:15)
  • rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17)
  • chosen, holy, and dearly loved by God (Colossians 3:12)
  • more than a conqueror through Christ (Romans 8:37)
  • a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)

What I Can Do

Everyone encounters discouragement and failure. We have given our best and somehow fallen short. However, God’s declaration over us destroys the twisted delusion of previous experience. Here is a snippet of what God says we can do.

I can

  • stand firm because God has anointed and stamped me with the seal of His love (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
  • accomplish anything in cooperation with God — even the impossible (Mark 9:23)
  • grow and mature spiritually as God’s child (Ephesians 4:15)
  • understand what God’s will is for my life (Ephesians 5:17; Romans 12:2)
  • be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power (Ephesians 6:10)
  • approach God with confidence and freedom through Christ (Ephesians 3:12)
  • overcome any obstacle that stands in my way (Mark 11:23)
  • have the ability to create wealth and glorify God through it (Deuteronomy 8:18; Proverbs 8:17-21)
  • forgive others as Christ has forgiven me (Ephesians 4:32)
  • be kind and compassionate toward others (Ephesians 4:32)
  • choose to give thanks for everything (Ephesians 5:20)
  • stand firm in my faith clothed in God’s armor when troubles come (Ephesians 6:13)

What I Have

Every time we declare God’s truth over ourselves, we are realigning to our God identity. We fix our eyes on Him, while refusing to allow the past to define us. God points our gaze to the future and the fullness of our God-potential.

The Bible says a lot about who we are and what we can do in and through God’s abiding presence. But it also makes powerful declarations about what we have in Him.

I have

  • everything I need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3)
  • received God’s grace poured out on me (Ephesians 1:5-8)
  • a fruitful and productive life (John 15:1-5)
  • the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)
  • an eternal hope through Christ (Ephesians 1:12)
  • everything I need according to God’s riches through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)
  • a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • treasure and riches stored for me in secret places (Isaiah 45:3)
  • supernatural peace in Christ (Ephesians 2:14)
  • fresh opportunities and a new beginning in Christ (Isaiah 43:18-19)
  • unhindered access to the Father through Jesus (Ephesians 2:18)

Realignment

May we receive our true self-identification, receiving biblical truth and realigning to our God identity. For most of us, realignment comes as a life-long process, allowing what God says about us to become our standard.

As I walked through inner healing and the Steps to Freedom these truths began to develop strong roots in my life. Rather than a leap of faith, each truth grounded me in the soil of God’s love, allowing enduring growth and spiritual fruit.

May the same be true for you. May each truth become life-giving nourishment. And most of all, may what God says about us become our self-identification.

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Procrastination — The Great Destroyer

The effects of procrastination plague like rusting relics — visible and invisible evidence of the presence of the great destroyer. Why does procrastination invade so many of our lives, paralyzing us from making decisive decisions and confident actions.

As many as one quarter of people struggle under the weight of procrastination. Often the issue is linked to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or an inability to focus. Perhaps, it results from a combination of many factors. Whatever the reasons, we are all affected by it in some way.

This lack of confidence in making decisions and moving into action impact us all in so many ways. God knows the root lies deep and He says much on the subject. But one of the most sobering is this:

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
James 4:17

Whatever holds us back from doing the right thing or making the right choice, God counts as sin. That alone should be enough reason to take procrastination seriously and recognize it as a great destroyer of God-given potential.

Mental Health

Just as we seek help to overcome physical health issues, we cannot afford to ignore the crippling impact of poor mental health. I’ve struggled enough in this area to realize change isn’t a simple one-two step and your done. Recovery requires time and often professional assistance. But the first step in any recovery begins with acknowledgment.

Procrastinators habitually put off for later the things that should and could be done now. Later may mean an hour, a day, a year, or a lifetime. The resulting consequences of the delay could prove to be small or devastating. To procrastinators, it all feels overwhelming.

In the wait, life falls apart around them — a fence, a house, a business, a marriage, or an entire life. The pressure of making a decision and acting upon it proves far more risky than any consequence.

“One day I passed by the field of a lazy man, and I noticed the vineyards of a slacker. I observed nothing but thorns, weeds, and broken-down walls. So I considered their lack of wisdom, and I pondered the lessons I could learn from this: Professional work habits prevent poverty from becoming your permanent business partner. And: If you put off until tomorrow the work you could do today, tomorrow never seems to come.”
Proverbs 24:30-34 TPT

Limited

Most often the areas of procrastination show up where a person feels the most vulnerable and insecure. Those times when a person feels at the greatest risk of failure or making a mistake. But it is also a sign of passive aggressive behavior — a deliberate avoidance of what needs to be done.

Little by little the walls begin to crumble. Finally, one more missed project turns into a missed grade. One more failure to step up at work turns into dismissal. One more refusal to be responsible results in a breakdown in relationship.

Several times this past week, I have heard the tell-tale comment of the great destroyer, “May I have an extension. I thought I had more time.”

The procrastinator assumes they will be granted more time, more opportunity, more grace, more tolerance, more of whatever is needed to continue dancing with the great destroyer.

Time is short! Today’s opportunity to do what is right and good will never come again! When the sun sets, today is over — never to return.

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
Ephesians 5:15-17

Occupy

Jesus used the parable of the talents to illustrate the importance of fully using opportunities. When He handed His servants their gifts, He commanded them to “work until I come back” (Luke 19:13). Another version says “occupy until I come.” This implies immediate and consistent action.

Those who used their time and resources wisely were delegated greater authority and received a greater reward. The one who was slothful and procrastinated, delaying action and decisions on how to use the talents, ended up losing everything he had been given. How tragic! But how common!

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! …”
Matthew 25:26

God doesn’t take the abuse or misuse of our time lightly! Both are a precious gifts from Him. He holds us accountable for both. If God takes it seriously, we would be wise to do the same.

Healing

We might consider God’s assessment a bit harsh, but the first step toward better emotional health and healing begins with confession and prayer. God knows procrastination is self-protection, an escape from the responsibility whenever possible. But there is good news.

“If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
1 John 1:9

Forgiveness is the beginning step. To overcome the great destroyer, we must redeem the time! God can and will turn things around, when we work with Him through the healing journey. He has not left us to fight any battle alone.

  • Choose to no longer put mental health on hold.
  • Seek Christian counsellors and mentors.
  • In a healing environment, confess faults to one another so we will be healed (James 5:16).
  • Identify the specific areas when we tend to procrastinate and ask others to hold us accountable in that area.
  • Don’t expect a quick rescue! Work through the healing process.

Well Done

Everyone wants to hear Jesus say, “Well done.” God cares far more about who we are than about what we accomplish for Him. He wants us free from the control of the great destroyer.

We dare not expect more time, when we are not fully using the time God has already given to us. He has given us time to receive His grace, time to share our faith, and time to love others.

God is not obligated to guarantee any of us more time or opportunity.

“For God says, ‘At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.’ Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2

“The right time is now.” Let’s make today the day for change. Let’s not let procrastination remain as the great destroyer in our lives.

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Find Your Identity in Christ

Do you know your identity in Christ? Are you experiencing the freedom and ease of being all God called you to be?

Yesterday while on my daily walk, a little robin ran ahead of me along the paved path. In spite of his ferocious paddling and unable to maintain a safe distance, he finally lifted his wings and with complete ease and freedom flew to far off reaches. I felt in my spirit an invitation from God to rediscover my identity in Christ — to abandon frantic self-efforts and rise to the ease of what He has anointed and called me to be. But what is that? How do I know when I’m soaring in my true identity?

The only way we discover and fulfill our identity in Christ is through relationship with Him. Apart from our loving Creator we will forever be like that little bird running along the ground instead of flying freely.

Our identity in Christ is grounded not in what we do for Him or others, but rather in what He has done for us. Let’s explore this more!

God Says

The Bible offers clear assurance of our true identity. We are …

This list is by no means complete. It barely gives us a glimpse into God’s wonderful plan and purpose for us. Though we often measure ourselves and others by earth’s standards, God sees us from a higher perspective. Only when we begin to visualize ourselves through His eyes will we understand and acknowledge our secure identity in Christ.

Then we will spread our wings and soar into our destiny and God-purpose.

Destiny

Our identity in Christ forms the foundation on which our lives grow and our destinies come to completion. May we allow the above truths to shape our thinking and silence our hearts to rest secure in Him. I encourage us all to take as much time as necessary to read each verse, mediating on them. God promises to reveal new truths as we read and ponder His Word.

Which five items in the list are settled in your soul?

  • #1__________________________________
  • #2__________________________________
  • #3__________________________________
  • #4__________________________________
  • #5__________________________________

Which five do you struggle to believe as personally true?

  • #1__________________________________
  • #2__________________________________
  • #3__________________________________
  • #4__________________________________
  • #5__________________________________

Security

One of the biggest assaults against Christians of all ages and ethnicities comes against our identity in Christ. But when we walk secure in who God says we are, we become an unstoppable force for His Kingdom.

That little robin never pretended to be an eagle. Neither does an eagle pretend to be a robin. Each is secure in their true identity.

We must never fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others in the body of Christ. Our security lies in who God says we are. Loved and secure within our relationship with Him, we thrive! And thrive is exactly what God desires for us all.

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Freedom and Victory: Living the Victorious Christian Life Today!

The cross of Jesus Christ delivered us from the sordid penalty of sin. It also guarantees our freedom and victory from the power of sin. What He accomplished is for today! For here! For now!

As a Christian, our future deliverance from the presence of all sin will eternally be experienced in Heaven. But how well have we been taught and demonstrated a life of freedom and victory in the grungy realities of our present circumstances?

The enemy keeps way too many people trapped in the recesses of darkness by blinding us to this beautiful reality.

Probably for you, as it is for me, the battle with sin refused to cease upon the confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Why? What’s going on? Why are so many Christians living cloaked in unnecessary guilt and shame.

We find the solution in Romans chapter 6.

Because of Baptism

Paul encourages the Roman believers, and us today, that because of baptism in Christ, we sin no more!

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Romans 6:1-4

In Christ, we died to sin. It is done! Finished! Past tense!

And in Christ, we were baptized into his death. So in the same way, in Christ we may live a new life of freedom and victory now — today.

That’s worth shouting, “Freedom! Celebrate! Victory is ours!”

No Longer Slaves

Our old lives conditioned us to listen to the slave master of sin, who continues to bark out orders. Everything in us cringes and cowers to the sound, while we resist the urge to obey our old master.

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”
Romans 6:6

The Passion Translation contains a wonderful note:

“…that the body of sin might be annulled and put out of business. To beg God for victory over sin is a refusal to understand that we have already died to sin. Our joyful task is to believe the good news, rather than to seek to “crucify ourselves.” Sin is not suppressed by the cross; it is eliminated. Upon the “water” God commands us to step out and walk, for we are now in him.”

We don’t need to beg God for victory over sin in any area of our lives. But oh how marvelous to understand that we have already died to all its demands. Through our union with Jesus Christ, every sin in our lives has been put out of business.

Listen to the Right Voice

Jesus gives us the freedom and victory to listen to the right voice — His voice.

The voice of sin barks commands, “You may as well give in, you will do it anyway … You’ll enjoy this … Just once more … You know you want this …” Whatever his enticement, we don’t need to listen to the deceptive voice of our old slave master, sin.

Jesus whispers His truth to our hearts, “You don’t need to do this anymore. You don’t need to watch that, tweet that, smoke that, eat that, say that, or do that. You are mine! I have set you free! You don’t have to sin anymore!”

I keep a simple “self-portrait” in my Bible as a cheerful reminder of my union with Christ. Just as this little image is in my Bible, I am in Christ. Where my Bible goes, the sketch goes. As Christ leads, I follow. Why? I am in Christ Jesus.

“For by his sacrifice he died to sin’s power once and for all, but he now lives continuously for the Father’s pleasure.”
Romans 6:10 TPT

Consecrate

The Oxford dictionary defines consecration as declaring something to be sacred and formally dedicated to a divine purpose. Things are consecrated and sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intended. Everyone, once consecrated, lives according to God’s design and perfect purpose for their lives.

With Jesus’ example before us, we consecrate and devote ourselves to also live continuously for the Father’s pleasure. We give back to Him what He has already given to us — our hands, our feet, our mouths, our time, our resources, our gifts, our all — living each day in freedom and victory.

“So let it be the same way with you! Since you are now joined with him, you must continually view yourselves as dead and unresponsive to sin’s appeal while living daily for God’s pleasure in union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”
Romans 6:11 TPT

An Invitation

“This life of reflected goodness, and beauty is not only a demonstration, it’s also an invitation. By its very nature, it calls to people and invites them to more. More than they ever thought was possible. More than they could ever ask or imagine … So the life we live and the work we do reveals a new reality in Christ that is both available now, and will continue to unfold for all eternity … How you live matters to God because you are His plan for releasing His Kingdom in the earth … This is the work of the Kingdom. It’s for now and it only gets better. Abundant, transformative living with an eternal hope.”
– Matt Tommey

Let’s respond to God’s invitation to walk in liberty, united with Christ in the freedom and victory we possess today.

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Code of Conduct Determines the Outcome

In every aspect of life, we encounter a code of conduct. Our greatest satisfaction and highest achievement exist within those guidelines. Ignore them and life becomes increasingly uncomfortable.

I’ve spent my fair share of watching and coaching little league sports. Initially, the equipment used and the playing field dimensions are the strongest indications of what sport is involved. The more rules become understood and applied, the more exciting the game also becomes.

Many say, “Rules are meant to be broken!” Broken rules lead to penalties of one kind or another, adversely affecting the individual’s performance and the entire team’s outcome.

What holds true in sports certainly holds true in our daily lives.

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”
Philippians 1:27

Why do we value rules and codes of behavior in sports and the workplace, but so easily reject them as Christians? The longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, amplifies the importance of God’s code of conduct.

Wisdom and Insight

“Oh how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.”

Psalm 119:97-104

The wisdom and insight we wish to possess comes from understanding and following God’s commands and rules. Just as a game of sports quickly becomes chaos and confusion when rules are thrown to the wind, so our lives reflect the same.

Full Potential

Whether a team sport or an individual endeavor, we only reach our full potential by adhering to a code of conduct. The scriptural term sanctification primarily means “holiness, to sanctify, or make holy.” But another meaning is “the state of proper functioning.”

To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. Through Christ’s atonement, we are set apart unto service for God A pen is “sanctified” when used to write. Eyeglasses are “sanctified” when used to improve sight. In the theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intends. A person is sanctified, therefore, when he or she lives according to God’s design and purpose 1.

God ultimately designed within each of us a unique and fulfilling purpose. The only avenue to achieve His full purposes for us comes through adhering to His code of conduct.

I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
Romans 6:19

Throw away the code of conduct and our world, including us, becomes a free-for-all! Learn from God’s perfect laws and everyone thrives. One leads to “lawlessness” the other to “sanctification” — the fulfilling of God’s intended purposes for our lives.

Grace

But alas! Rules are difficult, even impossible, to consistently follow.

So by God’s great grace, He gave us Jesus Christ. By living in and through Him, He enables us to overcome the draw of lawlessness and walk in the freedom of becoming. Freedom comes as we are motivated by love, respect, and grace. These three form the true motivation behind God’s code of conduct.

He desires everyone to reach their full potential and intended use. So, He gave us the freedom and the power through the Holy Spirit to go that direction.

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.
Romans 6:13

The word “offer” signifies a once-and-for-all surrender of ourselves to God, like a gift of gratitude.

Practical Steps

We recognize following God’s code of conduct cannot be done in and of ourselves. But as we surrender, first in our hearts and minds, once-and-for-all to Him, we begin the process. Then, we learn to daily walk it out.

Here is how:

  • Read the Bible to discover who God is and His design for us.
  • Pray. Prayer, honest communication with God, forms the bedrock of our relationship with Him.
  • Repent of attitudes and actions misaligned with His code of conduct.
  • Consecrate ourselves, committing everything to Him — our hands for His service, our hearts for His molding, our minds to His instruction, our feet to His direction, our motives to His desires.
  • Dedicate. We also choose to dedicate all we are (or ever will be), and all we possess to His service. We are nothing and receive nothing apart from Him. Each day, we have the privilege of committing it all back to Him.

“But now, O LORD, You are our Father,
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand.”

Isaiah 64:8

Prayer

Lord, teach me Your ways — Your code of conduct. Instruct me and show me how to reach the full potential You have designed for my life. I confess that I have attempted to live by self-made rules. Thank You for redirecting me back to You. Holy Spirit fill me with the power and desire to walk according to God’s ways. Because life is not a game to be casually played, I recommit myself to You, Lord. May I experience the joy and freedom of living a life set apart for You, fulfilling You purpose and calling. Amen.

1. Walter A. Elwell, Ed., Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Entry for Sanctification, (Grand Rapids, Baker Book House Company, 1996)

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Soaring High on Wings Like Eagles

When fatigued and discouraged, we often find it difficult to envision ever soaring high again, especially soaring on wings like eagles. But God gives a special promise to all of us weary ones.

A rare sighting of bald eagles, passing through our prairie region, occurs only in the spring or late fall. Each appearance of these majestic birds fills one with awe as they spread their massive wings, effortlessly rising to great heights. These stately birds of prey command attention. They were born to soar!

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah promised his weary, discouraged, and defeated nation,

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles …”
Isaiah 40:30-31

High Nest

A mating pair of eagles usually builds their nest in one of the tallest trees in the forest or on a high rocky ledge, near fresh or salt water. Perched high above, they defend a territory of up to two kilometers, keeping other eagles and predators at bay. Though impressive in the sky, they awkwardly walk on the ground with a rocking gait.

From the time an eaglet breaks through its confining shell, it sees the world from dizzying heights.

In the same way, when we come into relationship with God through new birth by the Spirit, God opens our eyes to see from a higher perspective — to cast our gaze over “earthly” regions with altitude vision.

As we back up a few verses, Isaiah directed the vision of his people to a higher level as well. Tired and broken, they felt powerless, lacking any strength to fight. But God!

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become tired or grow weary;
There is no searching of His understanding.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who has no might He increases power.”

Isaiah 40:28-29

But God! God is and always will be the “Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator” of all. He NEVER grows tired or weary. His understanding is beyond comprehension. Oh, how wonderful! Because we are His, in a personal relationship with Him, “He gives strength” to all those who are weary. He increases the power of the weak.

The weak will rise, soaring high on wings like eagles!

But Wait

Isaiah reveals the key to accessing all that God has. It involves waiting.

The Hebrew word translated “wait” means to bind together, collect, or expect. The Amplified Bible says, “those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] will gain new strength and renew their power.”

Sometimes we view waiting as passively, patiently, and quietly staying in the condition we’re in until the right moment. We think waiting is something to be endured.

Waiting with God implies a melding together, surrendering of our will, and aligning ourselves with His purposes. It includes expectation and complete trust. Waiting involves a deepening relationship with God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Those little eaglets don’t despair while flightlessly waiting in their nest. They trust for their daily provision, protection from the elements, and defence from predators. Unaware of subtle changes, their feathers grow in, their wings strengthen, while internal structures develop the power to maneuver their increasing mass.

Only in the waiting, only in the trusting, only in abiding in the “nest” of God’s care does our strength come as well.

He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who has no might He increases power.”

Isaiah 40:29

Wings like Eagles

God rescued us from the captivity of darkness and raised us to soar. He calls and equips us to rise to higher levels on wings like eagles.

The enemy desires to keep us grounded, incapacitating us. God never meant us to walk focused on ground-level initiatives. He embedded in us an eagle incentive. He invites us to “nest” with Him and rest in Him — becoming like Him, knowing His heart, gaining His perspective, and growing in spiritual strength and power.

The time to take flight comes only after waiting. Let’s come and wait. Then spread these powerful wings, sons and daughters of the Living God. Together, let’s exercise our gifting and anointing.

They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun];
They will run and not become weary,
They will walk and not grow tired
.
Isaiah 40:31

They will lift up their wings and rise up close to God. They will run and not become weary, walking without growing tired. What a promise God gives!

Though the nest has been a comfortable habitation, the adults encourage the eaglets to spread their wings on the upward currents. Some early flights result in crash landings. Ease of flight requires practice. But God created them to soar. This is their destiny.

Rise

No matter what you have been through. No matter how desperate your situation is. Rise little one! Ascend to the fullness of God’s calling over your life.

Eagles roost and rest for the night, but each morning they spread their wings and rise again.

Rest when you need to rest. Wait for God’s strength to surpass your weariness. Then, soar high on wings like eagles. God planted in you the craving for more. Whatever level you are living now is not your full potential.

May God give you courage to push above. May He grant you the strength and vision to ascend higher and to reach farther. Without taking your eyes off Him, fly — fly effortlessly into the next stage of your calling.

Bless you.

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5 Keys to Improve Judgment

Today, I offer concrete strategies to improve judgment, helping us make solid decisions in virtually every area of our lives. To be honest, I acknowledge that I’ve been working to improve this area as well.

A few weeks ago (on one of those frigid, windy, -30-degree days), I purchased a “small” palm plant. Our future held no possibility of sunny vacations to sandy beaches with warm lazy days in the sun. So, I bought a little something green to bring home. Only it wasn’t so little! I didn’t realize just how large my “small” purchase was until I brought it into our cozy condo, thereby exposing my error in judgment. When I showed my daughter-in-law, she laughed and said, “That is HUGE!”

A few years ago, another daughter-in-law and I checked pasture fences. As we walked along, we heard rustling in the tall grass. I whispered, “Ah! A bunny!” I gently pulled the grass aside to see a skunk inches away from my feet. Cautiously, I backed away. After running for our lives, we laughed hysterically at my gross error in judgment.

I recently decided my daughters-in-law will not be allowed to contribute to my obituary after I die. Otherwise, everyone would need handfuls of tissues to hold back tears of laughter from the stories they could tell.

Seriously though, we would all be wise to develop our ability in making sound judgments.

#1 Seek Wisdom

This morning, I was reading in Proverbs 9. Both “wisdom” and “folly” hold similar positions on the “highest point of the city.” Both call to those passing by to “turn aside” to their direction. The resulting outcomes stood in direct contrast.

“For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you …”
Proverbs 9:11-12

True wisdom begins with God and leads to understanding.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Proverbs 9:10

However, the choice of “folly” leads to multiple layers of death.

The first key to improve judgment begins by rooting and grounding ourselves in the ways of God. Out of His surpassing wisdom flows sound judgment.

#2 Honest Self-Evaluation

After first seeking wisdom from God, we must honestly evaluate ourselves. Any hidden motives or agendas, sources of envy or jealousy, and areas of pride or arrogance will warp and hinder judgment. To develop the necessary skills to improve judgment demands a deeper, honest approach.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
Romans 12:3

Sheltered in the grace and goodness of our Loving Heavenly Father, He liberates us to evaluate ourselves honestly without condemnation or comparison. Personal insecurities evaporate in His unfailing love.

With an accurate concept of God, seeking His wisdom, and a realistic view of ourselves, God frees us to make solid judgments about people and things.

#3 Consecration

The preceding verses in Romans also carry gems for us. The first is the consecration of ourselves to God and His ways.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.”
Romans 12:1

What does this have to do with judgment? Everything!

As we continually recognize God’s mercy toward us, every judgment becomes grounded on His mercy! Through consecration, we offer every aspect of ourselves to Him — our hearts, minds, tongues, hands, feet …

How radically different judgments and decisions become when we lay every area on the altar of complete consecration to God! At the place of consecration, we view people and things in a much different light.

#4 Transformation and Renewal

God resists instantly transforming us, eradicating old patterns of thinking and conditioned behavior. Rather, He enters a partnership of transformation and renewal with each of us. As we surrender and commit ourselves to Him in ever deepening circles of faith and trust, He works with us and through us to bring radical change. Old patterns evaporate. New patterns form.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:2

Rather than a suggestion, He straight up commands us to unite with Him in the process — however messy it might be.

Hidden in this passage we find the key. In the transformation and renewal, God improves our judgment to discover “his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Isn’t that what we desire for ourselves and others?

#5 Improve Judgment

My humorous illustrations demonstrate lack of judgment. Unfortunately, all situations I stumble through aren’t funny. But honestly, to improve judgment we need an ability to take God a lot more seriously and ourselves much more lightly.

When we hit the high mark, rejoice! When we miss it, move on! But either way, let’s keep seeking God for the insight we need. After acknowledging and confessing our failures, let’s give ourselves the grace and space to learn from mistakes and step back on track.

Don’t allow the enemy to taunt, “What were you thinking? Were you thinking?”

Rather,

“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.”
Lamentations 3:40

God is so much bigger than any past failures. He comes beside us, guiding us into better living, mastering how to make solid judgments. So let’s develop a resilience that allows us to laugh a little more often as we seek His wisdom, evaluate ourselves honestly, consecrate ourselves completely, and co-partner with Him to bring transformation and renewal.

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Unleashed! You are Free!

During prayer, I clearly heard the word, “Unleashed!” I felt a strong sense of God releasing people from things that hold them captive. It wasn’t an audible voice, but a certain knowing in my spirit. God was extending a personal invitation to respond — an invitation open to others. I believe we are entering a season in which God is throwing open gates and pushing open doors that have been closed for a long time.

The image of cattle being released from wintering pens came to my mind as I thought of the word “unleashed.” What joyous imagery!

During the long cold winters, we confined cattle in small paddocks to feed and bed them. All winter they ate baled hay and slept on heaping beds of straw. When the snow melted in spring, the pens became mucky. But then came the day when we opened the gates. The cattle dashed through the open gate, leaping and jumping, jostling and playing. Age didn’t matter! They were delighted to taste fresh grass and romp in open pastures.

But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.”
Malachi 4:2

Unleashing contains a sense of sudden even violent action that cannot be controlled — even to throw, shoot, or set in motion forcefully.

Once those cattle were unleashed from the pen, they would not easily return. They experienced open spaces and tasted fresh pasture. Limited confines no longer contained them. Dead grass no longer satisfied them.

This represents a frail example of how God unleashes His people.

Remember

As a result, God commands us to remember on a weekly basis His unleashing power. Enslaved by Egypt for over 400 years, Israel knew nothing of rest or freedom. Until God came. Suddenly, with violent force, God set in motion, with irreversible power, a taking of one nation out of another.

“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commands you to keep the Sabbath day.”
Deuteronomy 5:15

Lois Tverberg writes,

“All of life’s rhythms were to revolve around celebrating the indescribable joy of the day when the whips ceased cracking, the shackles fell off, and the cell doors swung open toward freedom. Week after week, season after season, year after year God commanded Israel to remember his extravagant, rescuing love . . .”
Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus

God called them to remember, and never forget, His powerful act of grace and redemptive love.

Unleashed

Yet, this was only a foreshadowing of what would one day take place. In the most violent act in history, God sent his Son, Jesus, to die the cruelest of deaths to unleash His greatest act of rescuing love. With one mighty blow, He crushed the enemy’s hand forever. Through Jesus, God redeemed not just a nation, but people from all nations freeing them forever from the slavery of sin and death.

Who but God could do such a thing? No one!

When God spoke the word “unleashed” to me, He wanted me to remember, too. My shackles are off! I now have the ability to walk free — a slave no more. I often find this truth more viable for others, struggling to fully identify with what He has done.

Yes, we contend from what is ours. Yes, standing in freedom takes grit and perseverance. But freedom is ours! We must not forget.

And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12 KJV

Live Free

God directs our gaze toward open gates. He leads us through open doors. But it is up to us to walk (or even run), taking our freedom. Perhaps it will take a violent or forceful act on our part to solidify that freedom.

So, I ask, where do I still feel the crack of the whip of other slave masters? Where am I living more bound than free? We all have areas awaiting God’s redemptive grace to move in. What is mine? What is yours?

He speaks His word, “unleashed,” over each of us. May we sense the freshness of what stands open before us. Today, may we drink the fresh water of His Spirit and eat from His open meadow of provision. May we hunger and thirst for His Presence like never before.

Now unleashed, He grants us freedom to either run to Him or away from Him. Only in Him will we taste true freedom, however.

Faithfulness And Kindness

God heard the cries of His people under the yoke of slavery in Egypt. He responded, unleashing them and setting them free. While His strong arm held back their enemies, His gentle compassion guided His people toward safety.

Centuries later, out of His faithfulness and kindness, God sent Jesus to again delivery, unleashing us from sin’s cruel bondage. I’m not sure we could ever comprehend such love and mercy.

“I don’t keep it a secret or hide the truth. I preach of your faithfulness and kindness, proclaiming your extravagant love to the largest crowd I can find!”
Psalm 40:10 TPT

May we tell of God’s great unleashing everywhere we go, to anyone who will listen. May we not hold such good news to ourselves. Like calves released from their pen, may we romp in the goodness of God’s vast pasture, never looking back.

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The Beautiful and Bountiful Discipline of God

Although painful, the discipline of God brings comfort and reassurance. Often His discipline comes through hardship or suffering. Biblical discipline includes the concepts of training, teaching, instruction, and correction. In the strongest form, it comes with chastening and warning.

Let’s make one thing clear, no one likes discipline in the moment. We all find it difficult, but we need God’s discipline to become all He created us to be.

A key life verse for me comes from Isaiah.

“Indeed, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested and chosen you in the furnace of affliction.”
Isaiah 48:10

The refining of silver occurs at a relatively low temperature. However, God says that our refining requires more extreme measures. He purifies us through the blazing “furnace of affliction”. Silver never resists the process. We, on the other hand, often do! As we recognize the beauty of discipline, we find peace in the process. We may even begin to anticipate the bountiful results of discipline.

God’s Love

True discipline flows from the depth of loving relationship. The discipline of God demonstrates the Father’s deep love for His own.

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”
Proverbs 3:11-12

Because God loves perfectly, He brings correction into our lives perfectly — with perfect timing and in perfect ways. Many people perceive God as harsh, judgmental, and uncaring. Nothing could be further from the truth! “My son,” He whispers, “I delight in you! I want you to be all you can be!”

” . . . My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Hebrews 12:5-6

The discipline of God proves our value and position as His sons or daughters. How wonderfully reassuring!

God’s Word

As a parent, I wanted my children to listen to my instruction and obey. Discipline only became necessary when my words were ignored. God responds in a similar fashion. He desires for us to hear and heed His Word, willingly responding to His direction.

“For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.”
Proverbs 6:23

Those who never experience corrective influence become a hazard to themselves and those around them. We thrive within healthy boundaries, productive routines, and predictable parameters. God’s Word, the Bible, offers all these things to us and more.

Through His commandments and instruction, we discovery to path to a fulfilling life. When we stray from His sure ways, He graciously draws us back. He loves us too much to leave us to our own destruction.

“To learn the truth you must long to be teachable, or you can despise correction and remain ignorant.”
Proverbs 12:1 TPT

The psalmist wrote under divine inspiration,

Blessed is the one you discipline, LORD, the one you teach from your law.”
Psalms 94:12

God’s Purpose

I find a repetitive pattern both in God’s Word and in my own life. During affluent times, it becomes easy to take our eyes off God, to become complacent about our relationship with Him, or even drift away. The greatest spiritual dangers come with wealth, power, and privilege, giving room for pride and presumption.

God uses hardships to refine us, setting us back on course.

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”
Revelation 3:19

In other words, we must take the discipline of God seriously, learn from the struggles we go through, and quickly align ourselves with His heart and His ways.

What if we welcomed difficult seasons as God’s purest blessing toward us and validation of His love? What if we approached hardships with tender responsive hearts, desiring to learn, grow, and mature?

“Now all discipline seems to be painful at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bringing a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield to it.”
Hebrews 12:11

As we yield to God’s instruction, correction, and training, He transforms us to bring righteousness and peace.

Discipline of God

Only God can transform trials into triumphs. Only God then uses them to refine us.

“And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart. And that is what I was hoping for in the first place . . . ”
2 Corinthians 7:11 MSG

Oh, that we would come through discipline, “more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, and more responsible.” With God, we can!

May we determine to not waste a moment of God’s instruction, correction, and discipline. Let’s become better, stronger, and more fruitful.

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How to Discern God’s Will

We daily face decisions — big and small. Should we wait or go? Which direction should we take? Can we even discern God’s will for our lives?

We’ve all asked these questions at one time or another. Have you ever wished handwriting would appear on the wall to remove all doubt? I have! God usually chooses more subtle means to answer us, however. He desires that we clearly sense His direction and move within the epicentre of His blessing.

Paul encourages the new believers in Rome with these words:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:2

I find a few significant details here:

  1. The world cannot offer the answers we need.
  2. We should seek spiritual transformation and a renewed mind.
  3. We can discern, “test and approve,” God’s will.
  4. God’s will for us is perfect!

Be Transformed

Rather than offer a few gentle suggestions, Paul commands his listeners to change mindsets and heart attitudes — “do not conform … be transformed!” Bombardment by culturally and politically motivated thinking has become our daily norm. It infiltrates our schools, blasts through media, and asserts itself through authoritative voices.

However, the world’s views differ greatly from God’s all-knowing perspective. We choose whether to flow along the broad stream of cultural thought or look within the pages of God’s inspired Word, the Bible, for needed answers.

“Transformed” comes from the same Greek word we translate metamorphasis — the transition of a caterpillar into a butterfly. I call the process of spiritual transformation the “messy middle” between salvation and Heaven. It is the real living out of our daily lives.

Transformation requires changed patterns of living which are every bit as radical as a caterpillar’s crawling on the ground one week and the butterfly’s effortless wafting between flowers the next.

Transformational renewing comes through time spent reading and meditating on the Bible, seeking God in prayer, and trusting in the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Test and Approve

As we look to God in these ways, we will discover the answer to many of our questions have already been clearly written for us. Other things aren’t quite so evident, however. How do we test and approve God’s will when there is no chapter and verse answers available?

I’ve found these three basic questions helpful:

First, “Is this God’s plan?” The source of inspiration will either come from ourselves, the enemy trying to lead us off course, or God directing us into His perfect will. If any aspect contradicts Scripture, we confidently know it isn’t God’s plan. God seeks to advance and promote His people, but if we sense a push for money over people, or the desire for self-glory rather than God being glorified, we again have the assurance it isn’t God’s plan.

Second, “Is this God’s plan for me?” Maybe, we tested the idea and proved it to be God’s good plan, but is it God’s plan for me? He actually might desire someone else to fulfill His plan, even though we earnestly want to step into it. It may even feel like a perfect fit for us. Yet if we lack the internal peace to proceed, God might be intending someone else to fulfill it.

Finally, “Is this God’s plan for now?” Maybe, the hesitation we sense comes from God, holding us back until we are better equipped, or other circumstances are strategically moved into place. Other times, we recognize a window of opportunity opening for a brief period of time, requiring an immediate, “Yes, Lord!” on our part.

The “not now” feeling has always been the hardest for me to wrangle with. When I sense God’s leading, I want to run with it. Testing and approving God’s plan also includes evaluating the timing.

Beautiful, Satisfying, and Perfect

As we discern God’s will, we discover His wonderful plans for us. The Passion Translation records Romans 12:2 like this:

Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.”

The power to discern God’s will leads to a “beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in His eyes.” Wow! Isn’t that what we all long for?

God doesn’t promise pain free ease. His plans for us include something more beautiful, more satisfying, and more perfect than we can imagine. As we consistently endeavor to discern God’s will, we will experience these qualities in ever increasing measure.

Discern God’s Will

Am I being inwardly “transformed by the Holy Spirit?” Have I experienced a “total reformation” of thinking? Am I developing an increased ability to discern God’s will for my life? How about you?

Let us commit together to daily read and meditate on God’s Word, being transformed in our thinking and renewed in our minds. May we resolve to allow the Holy Spirit to influence our viewpoints, while revealing the motivations of our hearts.

As we face decisions may we honestly answer three simple questions:

  1. Is this God’s plan?
  2. Is this God’s plan for me?
  3. Is this God’s plan for now?

When we discern God’s will, may we all have the boldness to step into His beautiful, satisfying, and perfect will. Bless you as you continue your adventure to discern, test, and approve His perfectly perfect will!

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