When Your Identity in Christ Doesn’t Match the Realities of Your Life

SONY DSC

When you have faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin, you become a child of God, a son and daughter of the king.  That means, when you have faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin, you receive the gift of His goodness, His righteousness.

That gift is not like a gift I could give you.  I could give you the new iPhone X, and you could use, put it on your bedside table, lose it, or even break it.  The gift of Jesus’ righteousness is not like that.  You can’t pick it up and put it down.  It is “imputed” to you.  Jesus’ righteousness was given to you, and your sin was given to Him.  Through faith, we become His righteousness.

2 Corinthians 5: 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The challenge to this truth comes when our identity as sons and daughters of God don’t seem to match up with the realities of our lives.  We ask,

“I know I’m a child of God, but I’m also so anxious and depressed.  Is that how a child of God is supposed to live?”

“I know I’m a child of God, but our finances are so bad.  We have so much credit card debt.  Is that how a child of God is supposed to live?

“I know I’m a child of God, but we fight so much at our house.  We don’t tell anyone because we are so ashamed.  Is that how a child of God is supposed to live?”

And you know what happens when our identity as children of God and the realities of our lives don’t seem to match up?  We are tempted to sin, and quite often give in.  That’s a lot like what we see with King David in 1 Samuel 21.

In 1 Samuel 21, King David doesn’t live like a king.  He is on the run from King Saul.  David is the anointed king of Israel, but he isn’t the coronated king of Israel.

David’s identity is a king, but he doesn’t have the wealth of a king.  In 1 Samuel 21, he is penniless and begging bread.

David’s identity is a king, but he doesn’t have the authority and power of a king.  He rules no one.

David’s identity is a king, but he doesn’t have the home of a king.  In 1 Samuel 21, he is homeless and on the run.

And guess happens?  David is tempted to lie because he is on the run and hungry.  And guess what?  He gives in to sin just like we often do.

David tells the priest that he is on a mission from King Saul.  He’s not.  But by saying that, the priest is compelled to give him food (which David is not supposed to eat no matter whose mission he is on).  Then, David asks for a weapon.  The priest gives him the sword of Goliath.  That’s fine because that sword is technically David’s.  But David says he needs it because he is on a mission from Saul which is a lie.

The connection between David’s identity and the reality of his life is too much for him.  He gives in to sin.  Just like David, when our identity and our reality don’t seem to match up, we do the same.

Our hope is learning to live out our identity in Christ while embracing the promises of God that may or may not be seen in the day to day.  2 Peter explains.

2 Peter 1: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,  and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ

Verse 8 is so wonderful.  What God is promising is a change of character and person more so than a change of circumstances.  As we embrace that work of Jesus, we will then grow to be effective and fruitful for the work of Christ.  That hope, coupled with those promises, is the reality we should hope for and look for in our lives.

Gordon

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

 

Advertisements

Gordon Wrecks His Car and God Gets His Attention

This past week, my daughters and I were in a car crash.  Thank God everyone walked away okay.  Physically, there is nothing but bumps and bruises.  Mentally and spiritually, there is a lot more going on. 

First of all, the wreck was traumatic.  For various reasons, none nefarious, my Honda Accord wound up straddling two trees while being suspended over a 5-foot drainage ditch in my neighborhood.  Because of the trees, we never hit the bottom, and I fear the accident and wounds would have been much worse if we had hit the ground.  I’m thankful for God’s uses of those two trees.

Now, we sort out our hearts and minds post-wreck.

For example, my totaled car is 11 years old.  My children only know me driving that car.  They love it.  They said it smelled like me (coffee).  I was planning on gifting it to my daughter when she gets her license next year.  All of those plans have changed. 

Financially, waiting until next year to get a new car made a lot sense for us.  Now, we have to figure out whether we are shelling out cash to get an older car back on the road or whether we need to buy a newish car.  Neither were the plan right now.  What a time to trust God because I don’t have the answers

Spiritually, we are so thankful to God.  Once we got everybody home, we circled up and prayed.  I thanked God for his faithfulness and mercy in a wreck that could have been much worse.  I also encouraged my children in this way.  I told them, “I’ve said all summer that this is the summer we get closer to God.  God just agreed.”  I don’t want to waste this moment. 

The wreck last week was one of those moments where God just pushes the pause button in your life.  It was an occurrence that we just weren’t expecting.  Our plans were good, but they didn’t include the demolition of my car. 

Human wisdom says, “Man plans.  God laughs.”  Biblical wisdom says:

James 4: 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

I don’t know if we were boasting in our plan for a new car next year or not, but I do know that right now, I am praying a whole lot more about things like new cars, a new driver, and my finances. 

All in all, my family is okay.  We have such a more rich prayer life and dependence on God right now.  For those things, and my family’s safety, I am so thankful.

If you would like to hear more about this moment, I talk about it in my podcast, “This is Gonna Hurt”.  You can find the direct link here.

Gordon

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

 

 

Saul Tries to Kill David and How We Should Be Like Him

In 1 Samuel 19, King Saul is trying to kill David. After David’s home is raided, he escapes to Naioth to spend time with Samuel.  Saul finds out that they are there, so Saul sends soldiers to kill David.  When the messengers of Saul show up to take David, God has other plans.

In fact, instead of capturing or killing David, they see Samuel and other prophets prophesying and proclaiming the glories of God, and at that point, they start to prophesy as well. Saul is so wicked, he doesn’t see God directly frustrating his plans.

He wants David dead.  He doesn’t want his men prophesying.  So, he sends a second set of messengers to capture David, and they start prophesying as well.  Then he sent a third set, and they start prophesying.

God will not be frustrated here.  Saul will be, but God won’t.

Saul is so resolute on capturing and killing David, he just takes things into his own hands.  He personally is planning on going to Naioth, capturing David and killing him himself.  It is like Saul is saying, “I know I won’t get distracted and prophesy.  I’ve got some killing to do.”

But sure enough, Saul shows up to Naioth, and he is completely undone.  Saul is so undone, he strips off his clothes, lies prostrate day and night in the nude, and declares the glories of God. This is so shocking and so out of place for Saul that folks begin to ask, “Is Saul a prophet now?”

David is so protected by the hand of God, that every time Saul tries to kill him, the accusers are turned away – not just turned away but speaking of the glory of God. Every sinful plan is turned and transformed to give God glory. Saul thought it couldn’t happen to him, but it did. 

Murderous letch to prophet of God.

One small note:  Wouldn’t it be great if the next time you planned on sinning, you did this?

You go online, and you are about to click on a link that you know you shouldn’t, and all of a sudden, you sing, “Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost…”

About to slander someone, and you break out into praises.

Tempted to be jealous?  Start singing your favorite hymn.

We might be transformed if we prayed that way.  “Dear God, next time I’m tempted, help me to sing your praises. Move me from my most selfish intent to glories in your name. Would I find that praising Jesus is all I can think of the next time I’m so tempted?”

And perhaps, you will be transformed in the process even more so than Saul was. 

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

 

Podcast Interview with Dr. Ligon Duncan about the Church & the #metoo Movement

While at the Presbyterian Church of America’s (PCA) General Assembly, it was my privilege to interview Dr. Ligon Duncan.  If you don’t know who he is, Dr. Duncan is the Chancellor/CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary and the John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology.

During our conversation, we discussed the #metoo movement, focusing on two areas:  how the movement can inform the church and how the church can inform the movement.  His insight was helpful, as one might imagine, and his starting point of the conversation was poignant.

Dr. Duncan emphasized that the beginning place of any conversation must be the church’s admittance of failure in protecting those who have been abused and also the church’s failure of calling out our its who are guilty.

He also feels that once that conversation begins and honest admittance of wrong is made, the church would then have an opportunity to speak about moral absolutes – meaning, how does the declaration of the wrongs of abuse speak to a higher authority of holiness.

Additionaly, he goes on to give advice to those who are starting new churches, and he also speaks to what he would say if he got to interact with #metoo leaders like Rose McGowan. 

If you want to explore more of this conversation, you can find the podcast link at https://anchor.fm/thisisgonnahurt/episodes/Episode-15—Interview-w-Ligon-Duncan–the-church–metoo-e1lvot.

Thanks go out to Dr. Duncan for taking the time to speak about these important topics.  Hopefully, his honesty will create more conversations between both the leaders of the #metoo movement and the church. 

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

“I am so done.” Jesus Knows Exactly How You Feel

Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t go on anymore?

Have you felt like your circumstances were too great to bear?

Have you ever prayed that God would just simply make things better?

You are not alone, and you are in good company. 

Right after Jesus gave His disciples the Lord’s Supper, and right before He was arrested, Jesus got away in order to spend time with His Father.  He spent the night in prayer.  This was a prayer of anguish and a prayer of pain.  

Luke 22 tells us that His prayers were in such earnest that He literally sweat drops of blood.  In fact, Luke 22 tells us that great drops of blood fell to the ground, and we are privileged to hear a few of the words that Jesus prayed that night. 

Now before I tell them to you, ask yourself what you would be praying.  If you had been betrayed by one of your best friends and you knew that you were about to be executed for a crime for which you were innocent, what would you be praying? 

I might be angry, bitter, depressed, or all of the above. 

I might pray for revenge.

Who knows?  Everything would be on the table.

Well here is what Jesus prays.

Jesus says, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 

Jesus, in one of His most human of moments, cries out to His Father.  He, in essence, says, “If there is any other plan for me other than my excruciating death on a cross, then please do that, but what I really want, Father, is your will and not mine. 

I don’t know how much comfort this brings you, but this passage should be one of the most fundamentally comforting passages in all of the scriptures. 

Jesus, our Savior, knows what it is like to anguish over a difficult set of circumstances and Jesus, our Savior, knows what it is like to wrestle with God’s will. 

Many of us right now are wrestling with God’s will as we know it, meaning we are struggling to be joyful and content in situations that we do not enjoy, and the rest of us are struggling with God’s unknown will.  We ask questions about school, marriage, jobs, children, finances, and the like. 

And here we see Jesus doing it in Godliness.  He cries to God asking for any change that is possible but resting ultimately in whatever God thinks is best. 

Our Savior knows our pain.  Our Savior secures for us, not only an example, but a hope through His death on the cross.  And our Savior gives us yet another reason to love Him.  He gets us.

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

 

Deepen Your Faith Through a Devotional Commentary

What is a devotional commentary? 

A devotional commentary is a brief (25 pages or less) devotion that is based on the line by line interpretation of a text, and Gospel Rich Books has dozens of them on Amazon. 

Culled from sermon notes, some of them do contain typo’s but the central meaning of most remains intact.  If you search Amazon for “Gordon Duncan” and the following books (Ephesians, Joel, and Galatians), you will find them.

Each is only $.99.  To help you get started, we’ve included the links to every devotional commentary from the book of Joel.  Taken together, these make the foundation of a book one day, but right now, enjoy them one by one. 

Happy Reading!

Joel 1:1-12

Joel 1:13-20  

Joel 2:1-11

Joel 2:12-17  

Joel 2:18-27

Joel 2:28-32

Joel 3:1-8

Joel 3:9-16

Joel 3:17-21

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

 

5 Steps to Build a Better Legalist

Jesus directed a large percentage of his teachings in the Gospels against the legalism of the Pharisees and other religious teachers of the day. A legalist is a person who thinks they have earned God’s love and affection based upon either how much they know, how many good things they do, or how many bad things they don’t do.

Now, legalism is the human heart’s problem.  Non-Christians can be legalists but unfortunately Christians are the worst legalists.

Despite the definition of a relationship with God as salvation by faith alone, human hearts are always going to be tempted to look at how good they think they are and think that even if God’s not impressed at least, everyone else should be.  The alternative to the life of legalism of course would be making your lone hope for forgiveness the work of Jesus, trusting only His righteousness and His goodness.

Now, when hearing the two side by side (trusting your goodness or trusting Jesus’) you might ask, “Why would anyone trust their goodness when Jesus’ life of love and perfection is so infinitely better?”

Simply:  we don’t see as God sees.  God sees our heart clearly, and we don’t.

He sees our sinful motives clearly, and we don’t.

And He sees Jesus’ work on our behalf constantly, and we don’t.

You would think that the church would fight harder against legalism, especially when Jesus uses such harsh language against legalists, calling them “a brood of vipers” (Matthew 23:33) and “white washed tombs” (Matthew 23:27).

But I’m afraid the church in America is a legalist factory.  We just keep churning them out.  In fact, we are good at it.  Let me show you it’s done.

Here is the 5-point plan for building a better legalist.

One:  Withhold affection when someone sins or makes a mistake.

Two:  Invent rules for Godliness without either the desire to explain your reasoning or explain their benefit.

Three:  Care more about other’s opinion of your performance than you do God’s opinion.

Four:  Assume what you say or what you do gives you a place of superiority or authority.

Five:  Speak often of others who used to be really good but aren’t any more.

We are so prone to these 5 things, we often don’t see that those types of actions actually blind us from grace and inhibit compassion towards other.  We don’t see that those types of actions are traps that lead to self-righteousness, Christian ghettos, and hardness of heart.  Unfortunately, we are all susceptible to these types of thoughts and actions because we just don’t see our hearts and the hearts of others like God does.

1 Samuel 16:7 For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart

Thankfully, God sees differently than you and I see.  That means that God not only knows the things we think and do in secret, but He can also see all the great things that He is going to do in our lives.

So, when we are discouraged or sad, we can trust that God sees things and knows things that we don’t, and that gives us a great hope as we have faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.