How does God Define Us?

It may not be the easiest concept to accept or understand. But it is life changing. When we finally realize that people’s words don’t define us. When we understand that the only thing that matters is what God says and thinks about us. It will change the way we live our lives. It has truly changed mine.
Growing up, I was small, shy and lacking in confidence. As a result I was picked on. I was called names. And those names defined me for the longest time. Those words were who I thought I was. I thought I was no good. I thought I had no worth. I thought that these words defined me. I thought that these words controlled who I was and what I did. I didn’t know that they really didn’t matter. That’s right. They honestly didn’t matter. 
How does God define us?
Genesis 1:27
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
27 So God created man in His own image;

He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female.

2 Corinthians 6:18

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
18 I will be a Father to you,
and you will be sons and daughters to Me,

says the Lord Almighty.<sup value="(C)”>[a]
<sup value="(C)”>
<sup value="(C)”>“You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

Do you see? What people say about you doesn’t matter. I can not continually be dragged down into a deep hole of despair because someone said something about me that isn’t true. I can not continually look to approval from man, because he will fail me. Man will fail me. Man is sinful and broken. But God knows who I truly am. The words He defines me with are whole and pure and truth. They are filled with love, not insecurities or hate. 

I encourage you to read the rest of Psalm 139 and make this your prayer to God. 

 Psalm 139

New Century Version (NCV)

God Knows Everything

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

139 Lord, you have examined me
    and know all about me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up.
    You know my thoughts before I think them.
You know where I go and where I lie down.
    You know everything I do.
Lord, even before I say a word,
    you already know it.
You are all around me—in front and in back—
    and have put your hand on me.
Your knowledge is amazing to me;
    it is more than I can understand.
Where can I go to get away from your Spirit?
    Where can I run from you?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there.
    If I lie down in the grave, you are there.
If I rise with the sun in the east
    and settle in the west beyond the sea,
10 even there you would guide me.
    With your right hand you would hold me.
11 I could say, “The darkness will hide me.
    Let the light around me turn into night.”
12 But even the darkness is not dark to you.
    The night is as light as the day;
    darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You made my whole being;
    you formed me in my mother’s body.
14 I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way.
    What you have done is wonderful.
    I know this very well.
15 You saw my bones being formed
    as I took shape in my mother’s body.
When I was put together there,
16 you saw my body as it was formed.
All the days planned for me
    were written in your book
    before I was one day old.
17 God, your thoughts are precious to me.
    They are so many!
18 If I could count them,
    they would be more than all the grains of sand.
When I wake up,
    I am still with you.
19 God, I wish you would kill the wicked!
    Get away from me, you murderers!
20 They say evil things about you.
    Your enemies use your name thoughtlessly.
21 Lord, I hate those who hate you;
    I hate those who rise up against you.
22 I feel only hate for them;
    they are my enemies.
23 God, examine me and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any bad thing in me.
    Lead me on the road to everlasting life.

Maybe some of you today need to ask God to take away those titles and names you have been given in your life. Maybe some of you need to let go of your past and even accept Christ, the giver of new names and new life. Maybe today for you is just accepting your identity in Christ and running with it and not letting any of your past, present, future slow you down. 

**Honestly this post did stem from a comment I received this week. Realizing it was an attack from satan, I have moved on and I am remembering who I am in Christ.

Blessings Ya’ll,
Joseph. 

Moving Beneath the Surface

Last week I posted about the shortness of life. A student at our school had just passed away last Thursday and there seemed to be many unanswered questions. Just yesterday though in chapel, through the work underneath the surface, 70 to 100 students got saved. God is always working, even though we can’t all the time see it.

As humans, our minds are limited. We can’t wrap our minds around eternity or death or tragedy. We are finite creatures that are distracted and discouraged if results don’t come quick and easy. But even through our distracted ness and discouragement, God is working. He is working in ways in which we could never imagine. It is incredible. What seems like chaos and confusion to us, is order to God.

33 For God is not the  author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:33)

I know for me personally, that is my story. My parents, friends, relatives, were always in constant prayer for me. For years they prayed but saw no results. For years they begged and pleaded with God for me but there was no change. But God was moving, opening my eyes little by little, opening my heart slowly. And then one day, God grabbed me. In His timing and in His Way, He rescued me. No one saw it coming. Many had given up hope but God was working and had been for a long time.

Right now, I’m in the middle of praying earnestly and diligently for non believers. It is easy after praying for a while and seeing no results, to believe God is not working. But He is. He is always working and will continue to work in amazing, mind blowing ways, until He returns.

Blessings,
Joseph

The Brevity of Life

We don’t all the time realize it but it’s true. Life is short. Do we live that way? Do we have an urgency to reach our families and friends with the love of Jesus Christ before it is too late? I believe the answer to both of these is no. Why? We believe we have all the time in the world. We get complacent. Today I was reminded how short life really is and all that I take for granted.

Do you believe you will wake up tomorrow? Most of us would say yes. Would you say then that you already have plans laid out that you wish to accomplish? Most of us again would say yes. As humans we are creatures of scheduling and busyness.

What if I told you tomorrow morning that you would die that afternoon? How would your life change? You’d probably drop your schedule and business engagements and spend your time with loved ones or making amends. You would live life to the fullest.

14 You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. (James 4:14)<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”>

So if what James said is true, why do we live in a a way that we have all the time in the world? And I’m not just speaking to older folks. I’m speaking to you too high schoolers and college students.
I know for me I feel like death is a far way off but is it? I feel like God will use me to share His gospel, so why would he take before I was at least 50? Today though a student at my school died. He was a junior. He was following The Lord and even in the process of getting a degree in Christian Studies. 
Wait. So your telling me that God can take anyone at any moment? Regardless of who they are or what they are doing? Yeah. It’s crazy to think about but our plans are not God’s plans. Was dying in this guy’s plans today? Probably not. But God will use it in ways in which only He can.
Earlier this week I was listening to a friend dealing with life long disease. He began to talk about how others probably had plans five years down the road. He didn’t. With this disease, he never knew if this day would be his last. He lived each day fully for Christ, believing each day to be his last.
Do you believe that today or tomorrow could be your last day? Are you living your life for the temporary moth ridden earthly treasures that will soon fade away? Or are you storing up heavenly investments? One day we will all face a Heavenly perfect God who created the universe. And He will ask the question, “How did you use your brief time on earth?” He won’t look at earthly rewards or earthly riches. He will only look at how you used your vapor of a life for His glory. 
Today gave me lots to think about, including how I spent my time. Even though we as a university lost a student today, I take comfort and joy in what he is experiencing in heaven at this moment, worshipping the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, face to face.

I love how the Living Bible puts this verse, even though this is not the version I use. 

1 Corinthians 13:12

Living Bible (TLB)
12 In the same way, we can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at his reflection in a poor mirror; but someday we are going to see him in his completeness, face-to-face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now.

What an amazing intimacy this guy is now experiencing with God.
Have a blessed night y’all,
Joseph.

Happy to Suffer for His Glory?

God works in mysterious ways. Ways in which none of us will ever understand, while on this earth. Does God use sufferings to bring glory to His name? Does He use catastrophes such as 9/11 or  Hurricane Katrina to bring people to Himself? Does He use terrible, life long diseases to show His grace? These are hard questions and I don’t seem to have the answers. Last night though my view of God was changed forever, seeing something in someone that I had never seen nor heard before.

On Monday nights this fall I have begun attending a small group. A group filled with lots of different people, who I am still getting to know. At the end we usually break up into small groups to pray and to give intentional encouragement to one another. Last night I got to meet a new guy.

We began to talk through stuff and be an encouragement to one another. That night this guy had talked about some physical pain he was dealing with. So I began to ask him about it, not knowing what it was he was dealing with. I was expecting him to be dealing with knee pain; worse case cancer or something like that. What he said next though, blew me away.

He had been dealing with a rare disease, Job’s disease. As he explained it to me and how rare it truly was, I cringed. Here is a website that tells you more about this disease: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/job-syndrome I felt like maybe God wanted to heal this guy. Here is our conversation about it.

“Do you believe God can heal you?” I asked.

“Yes, I do. But as long as He is using this disease for His glory, I’m okay with suffering,” he said. 

Literally this is what this guy said. And my mind was absolutely blown. Like literally. I couldn’t believe that this guy was okay with having a disease that hurt so much, was so painful, because God was using it for His glory. So we continued.

“Do you believe God is using this for His glory?” I asked. 

“Oh yes. God uses this disease to be a constant encouragement for believers and non-believers alike. I am “happy” to suffer for His glory,” he said.

How many of us are “happy to suffer” for His glory? I know I’m not. I hate to suffer. Here is a guy though that is completely sold out to Christ. He is living Paul’s quote, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” He trusts God completely to use even his disease and his suffering to show God’s grace and glory.

“Do you ever wish you didn’t have this disease?” I asked. 

“Yeah sometimes. This disease though is what brought me to Christ and if I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t have cried out to Him like I did. It’s only an earthly body, right? One day God will give me a perfected body in Heaven,” he said. 

By the end of this talk, I was given hope once more. Given hope in so many areas and even able to look at my own struggles and wonder what if I had this guy’s mindset. What if I looked over the struggles of my life and of my present and was able to see God’s grace and sovereignty in it all?

Last night encouraged me in so many ways. From the mouth of a friend, came the words of Jesus Christ. The came through pain and suffering but they came all the same. I was encouraged to thank God for the suffering and be thankful for all I had been given. I don’t know if God would have given me this disease, would I be able to see His grace and His compassion and His mission, like this guy does. I am looking forward to more mind blowing, grace filled conversations with this guy. By the way, he has only been a disciple of Jesus Christ for two years. What faith! What trust! I pray that I also may have that much faith and trust!

Blessings ya’ll,
Joseph.