Unified

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Most of us live by certain principles based upon personal values and beliefs. Our identity often rests on these ethics and ideologies. Once we become an independent individual and are on our own, we have the freedom to separate or unite with the standards our parents established (or did not). Just like our salvation, we are given the freedom to choose our individual morals and tenets.

So, how do you identify yourself? “I am a good person.” “I am a renowned doctor.” “I consider myself a productive citizen.” “I am just a soul trying to make ends meet.” “I am independent.” “I do the best I can with what I have.” I am a legendary athlete.” “I deem myself as a conservative.” “I am a male Native American.” “I am a prominent business owner.” “I am an educator.” And the list goes on and on of a multitude of answers people might give. Maslow theory states that our identity is a formation process beginning as an infant which is based on a hierarchy of needs. The psychologist notes there are levels to accomplish before obtaining self-actualization.  

Paul might argue that self-actualization occurs differently. We all know how he distinguished himself in his early years. However, I bet if we asked Paul how he identified himself after his Damascus road experience, he would probably say, “I am a child of God through His unity!” Have you ever thought of yourself as unified? I am not sure I have given it much thought until now.

In Ephesians, Paul sheds great light on being identified as unified. Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 1 that Christ Jesus came down from His heavenly home for the primary purpose to join Himself with man. It establishes the mere fact that God loves us beyond measure and desires for us to become one in our beliefs and faith in Christ. This first chapter affirms that our Lord and Savior extends the gift of grace with the opportunity to find identify ourselves in Him. Once we accept this distinct portrait of who we are in Jesus, the worldly identification seems to fade away. It no longer holds the significance it once did. Our notorious titles, positions, crafts, race, etc. is not our primary standard nor is our self-individuality.

We now want to be known as: UNIFIED!

I am unified with Christ. I am not my own. I am a child of GOD! In Him I find my security and empowerment. Through my faith, He has freed me from all unrighteousness. Christ Jesus has connected me with the Father and fully equipped me with all I need including His Spirit, which is alive and well within me. I treasure my unity and I never want to be found without Him by my side. I am who I am because of the the GREAT I AM!

Who do you say you are?

Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:13

Clothed in Love

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:14

Happy weekend friends! What fun are you having? I spent the majority of the morning cleaning closets and washing clothes. This crazy weather has had us wearing everything from shorts and t-shirts to thick sweaters and thermals within a week’s period of time. Instead of having a closet with clothes for the current season, it holds everything I own.

How do you decide what to wear during your week? Wake up and grab whatever is clean? Plan the night before and lay it all out? Start on Sunday and build your weekly outfits down to accessories? Do you iron everything or tumble the wrinkles? No matter the approach, none of us gets dressed accidentally. We all purposely choose to cover our body with clothing.

What if every morning we purposely clothed ourselves in love as well? Can you think of someone who exhibits a fine “love outfit” daily?

My thoughts immediately proceed to a neighbor I had for over a decade. Her name was Sally Richardson. This sweet lady displayed the finest evening gown of love day-to-day. She was far from being self-centered and always focused on other’s needs. Her prayers filled the room with love and wrapped around your heart like a high-end cashmere scarf on a snowy day. When life was difficult or she was sick, I would visit her with the intent of lifting her spirits. However, I was always the one walking away so elevated in God and filled with amazing hope and faith. How did she do it?

She believed…

Love is patient. She knew God was always patient so she strived to be patient with others. (I Corinthians 13:4)

Love keeps no record of wrong. She gave love without keeping score of what she received from others. (I Corinthians 13:5)

Love always protects and preserves. She was confident that when she prayed God’s love over the situation, the Lord would protect His children. (I Corinthians 13:7)

Love is controlled by actions not feelings. She would love people even when they didn’t deserve it. (Matthew 5:44)

Love is powerful, unconditional, and life changing. She extended love because she knew the power of the Lord and His miraculous, life changing abilities. (Romans 12:20)

What are you wearing tomorrow?

Tribute to Sally Christine Richardson

When it reaches out and grabs you

For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as his child. As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? Hebrews 12:6-7 (NLT)

It is up to us to stay in His Word and pay close attention to His call. When we are plugged into God, we will know His voice. John 10: 27 says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” It is a mutual recognition. The Spirit of truth prompts us to dig deeper into the verse/s which personally stand out in order to fully digest scripture. He bids us to apply it to our circumstances and claim it over our lives and those around us.

Let me share one of my attention moments with you.

During my difficult season of life, I began questioning if my faith was real. Why would I feel so helpless if I was truly a child of God? Honestly, this was a dark period of my soul. I was struggling for answers and asking God why over and over and over. Nevertheless, I continued to attend church, show up for small group, and worship the Lord through song.

One particular Sunday morning, the pastor was preaching from 1 Corinthians to shed light on the faults we continue to exhibit like those addressed by Paul with the church in Corinth. As the pastor read and explored chapter 4, he began examining and analyzing reasons we can become self-absorbed and arrogant. I was curious how he would deliver his closing comments. While summarizing the various points of the sermon, he read 1 Corinthians 4:20-21. I leaned in and fixed my mind on what I anticipated to be his main point. Like in many churches, the words appeared on the screen: For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.  What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit? It was like fireworks on the fourth of July. I saw those words and knew God was talking directly to me. I went straight to my iPad, opened the notes app, and typed out the verses.

What? You aren’t seeing fireworks too? Perhaps you can’t even imagine a bad sparkler. Why? Because God personally luminated this particular scripture at that very moment just for me. He desired my attention. The Lord removed all distractions in my mind and spoke loud and clear while I was fully present in an environment focused on Him. Upon hearing those scriptures, my question of faith was answered.

It became clear that this dark valley was a discipline gorge. God revealed my lack of engagement in His Word and the Holy Spirit had definitely exposed my deficiency. When seeing those words, I realized I had not placed myself in the Lord’s text. I was lacking the ability to fully submit to His great power because my life wasn’t drenched in scripture. For all those years, I had viewed the bible as talk uttered by God without acknowledging the supernatural force, potency, and capability it possessed. This was God’s invitation to infuse my life with scripture. He welcomed me to a completely different way of thinking and living. His empowerment lured me to seek Him on a more intimate level and to bring my life under His absolute authority.

This was my attention moment which exposed me to a personal definition of submission. 

How has God used scripture to grab your attention?

But Who Is the Real God?

Hi friends! How’s your week been? I am adjusting to my new weekly travels and students for the spring semester. Getting to know each student takes time. Most students are a little reluctant at first and seem to be more receptive once I share a bit about my personal life. I am always ready to talk about my #1 love but, as you know, this isn’t always allowed in an educational setting. So, very rarely is God the topic of our discussion.

At each location, I meet with students in various locations: janitor’s closet, library, conference room, teacher’s lounge, someone’s office, guided reading closet. . . This week, at one of the locations, we utilized the assistant principal’s office. When entering the room, colorful posters filled the walls and 3D models were carefully displayed on every table like an art exhibit. As the student and I sat down to begin the intervention session, the student asked who the people were on the crafted posters. I replied, “It looks like a class has been studying Greek Mythology.” “Oh yeah, all those gods and goddesses. I’ve read about them,” the student stated. I decided to use this as a teachable genre moment and defined Ancient Greek folklore. After I shared the basic explanation of a myth, the student asked, “So, who is the Real God? Is it Zeus? You know, the true one, the main God?”

Silence. . .Wheels turning. . .Appropriate “educational setting” response or the TRUTH? “No, it is not Zeus. The one true, real god’s name is God and He is not a myth,” I replied. Then out of nowhere, a god poster fell off the wall.

On my way to the next location, I kept hearing the student’s question over and over in my head. “So, who is the Real God?”. How can someone know that they know the true God? Vaguely I could hear Jack Graham, Power Point Ministries, in the background. I turned up the volume. Graham was referencing John 16 as the words in verse 25 caught my attention, “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father.” The plain truth. Just speak the plain truth of who the Real God is.

God is . . .

Yahweh, Almighty GodI appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’—but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them. (NLT)Exodus 6:3
CreatorThrough him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (NIV)John 1:3
Holy OneFor thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. (KJV)Psalm 16:10
All Knowingfor whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. (ESV)1 John 3:20
Ever PresentO LORD, You have searched me and known me., For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.Psalm 139: 1, 13
JehovahThat they may know that You alone, whose name is the LORD, Are the Most High over all the earth. (NASB)Psalm 83:18

God is my everything. He is my Jehovah Jireh. He has never failed me nor left me as stated in Deuteronomy 31:6. May I forever declare Psalm 91:2 so the world will know He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, I will trust in Him always. God’s love and truth is the highest-ranking genre that could ever be taught, studied, or experienced. God is the Real REAL! He stands alone. Nothing else can compare. He is Holy, Holy, Holy! The Almighty Lord is beyond supernatural. God is the ONE and ONLY! And that’s the plain truth.

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