Identity Theft

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV)

John tells us that one of the enemy’s main tactics is to steal (See John 10:10). One of the things the enemy tries to steal from you is your identity. He knows that if he can take that away, he can rob you of what God has promised and purposed for you. There is a few ways he tries to do this.

1) He tries to get you to believe your identity has to to with your condition and not with your position.

The condition you might find yourself in does not change your identity. The enemy wants you to think that your career, your job, your house, your car, your situation, your circumstance, and your bank account define you. But no matter what the situation or circumstance, it still doesn’t change who you are in Christ. The Prodigal Son took his inheritance, left his father’s house, wasted it all, and found himself in a pig pen; but that still didn’t change the fact that he is still his father’s son. Too many times we find ourselves in Mephibosheth’s shoes. He was the grandson of the king, he was from the lineage of royalty; but because of his ugly condition, he forgot his true identity. You were created in the image of God (See Genesis 1:27), you are a child of the King, you are chosen, you are victorious, you are more than a conqueror; and no condition the enemy puts you in or nothing he can put around you can change that.

2) He wants you to believe your identity has to do what people say and not what God says.

What the enemy says or what people say does not define you. The opinions of others don’t determine who you are, but the truth of God’s Word does. Before God called Abraham, his name was Abram which means great father. God comes along and tells him who he really is, Abraham, which means father of many. Abraham found himself chasing after and trying to live up to what everyone else told him he was. Too many times we find ourselves trying to live up to what culture has told us we should be and we miss out on what God has purposed us to be. We waste time pursuing what the world says our identity is and not what God says it is. That’s why Jesus said “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” When you know your true identity, you are free from the lies that the enemy tries to use to hold you down.

3) He wants you to believe your identity has to do with what you have done or what you do and not on what has already been done.

You can not earn your identity, you are born into it. Nothing you can do or have done can change it. The work has already been done for you by Jesus. All you have to do is embrace it. Nothing I did gave me the identity of being the son of my parents. I was born into it. The work had already been done. This is why Jesus said “you must be born again.” We can believe this principle when it comes to the natural and physical, but we find it hard to grasp when it comes to the supernatural and spiritual. We think that the things we have done or do can change this fact. But the truth is no matter what I have done or do, it doesn’t change the fact that I am my parents’ son and the degree at which they love me. The same is true with God. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Stand firm in that truth today.

So has the enemy stolen your identity? Have you been held back because of his lies? Let the truth of God’s Word set you free today.

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It’s Not Over

In Luke 7:11-17, we find a story of how Jesus raised a widow’s son from the dead. As the people were carrying the coffin out of the city, Jesus was coming into the city. Now the city, Nain, that they were carrying the dead boy out of was set up on a hill. So as they were coming down from the city, Jesus was coming up to the city. You have one group of people carrying death and then you have Jesus carrying life. One group is exiting and Jesus is entering. One group is coming down and Jesus is coming up. And these two collide at the intersection, at the gate of the city. Jesus touches the coffin and the people carrying it stand still. Then He speaks to the young man, the boy sits up, and begins to speak.

There’s a saying “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.” And Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees, said “It’s not over until it’s over.” But I want to let you know that it’s not over until God says it’s over. Your promise, dream, hope, and faith may be dead, in a coffin, and being carried out of the city to be buried by the world, family, and friends; but it’s not over until God says it’s over.

As long as you’re still breathing, God isn’t done with you yet. Jesus is coming to meet you at the gate right before you exit, give up, throw in the towel. Right before you enter into hopelessness, depression, and despair. You might be going down but Jesus is coming to raise you back up, to resurrect the promise, to give life back to the only thing you have left. He is going to speak life into your situation and circumstances; and it’s going to sit up and begin to speak.

The Bible says that Jesus humbled Himself to the lowest of lows, the lowest point, the lowest level, the cross (See Philippians 2:5-11). I believe He did this so that when you’re going down and falling that He can raise you and your promise back up, bring back life, and resurrect whatever it is that has died.

So don’t give up, don’t quit, don’t loose heart. It’s not over until God says it’s over.

Spot Remover

So that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:27 ESV)

This Monday a guy that I work with came into work with some extreme discomfort. He kept grabbing at his stomach and saying that he was feeling a lot of pain. I asked him what was wrong, he said he couldn’t sleep all night, that the pain was getting worse and if it didn’t get better he was going to get it checked out. About 10:00 a.m. he couldn’t bear the pain anymore so he went to get it checked out. Before he left, I prayed that God would heal him. Tuesday morning he came in all shook up. He told me that they took a MRI, found a spot on his kidney and they needed him to come in Wednesday morning for a CT scan and further testing. I immediately prayed for his healing again, that God would remove the spot on his kidney that when the doctor takes the scan they won’t find a thing. Wednesday afternoon he comes in with a big smile on his face, tells me that the doctors couldn’t find anything, what was there Monday was gone, and everything looked normal.

We don’t need to go to a physician, we can go directly to the Great Physician. Jesus took those stripes on His back for our healing. The blood He shed washes us white as snow and removes all spots and wrinkles. Jesus is the greatest spot remover.

I don’t know what you have done, what you’ve been through, where you’ve been, or where you’re now; but Jesus can make all things new. The song by Hillsong United “Jesus Paid It All” has a line that says “Sin had left a crimson stain, Jesus washed it white as snow.”

Whatever it is Jesus can wash it away. If it’s pain, Jesus can remove it. If it’s depression, Jesus can remove it. If it’s debt, Jesus can remove it. If it’s hopelessness, Jesus can remove it. If it’s despair, Jesus can remove it. If it’s fear, Jesus can remove it. No matter what it is, Jesus can remove it.

Take it to Jesus today and let Him make all things new.

Relationship Status

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:15-17 ESV)

Everyone who has a Facebook page knows what I mean when I say what is your relationship status. You know that there a couple options Facebook gives you that you can choose to answer that question. One of which is “complicated.” What makes a relationship complicated? There are many reasons why that could be your status.

Sometimes our walk and relationship with God becomes complicated. I heard Stovall Weems, Senior Pastor of Celebration Church, say “We need to get into the real Facebook. We need to get on our face, get into the Book, the Bible, and lay hold of God.” When we stop seeking after God, our relationship with Him starts to be a little complicated. We need to push pass religion into a relationship because religion tends to complicate things.

Religion says you got to do in order to get. Relationship says everything has already been done so that you can get. Religion says it’s all about principles. Relationship says it’s about position. Religion makes you back away. Relationship says to draw close. Religion casts condemnation. Relationship causes conviction. Religion restricts you. Relationship liberates you.

So what’s your relationship status?

Supply and Demand

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 ESV)

In earning a Bachelor of Science degree in business, I learned about the principle of supply and demand. I was taught that you always wanted more demand than supply. It was never good to have more supply than what was demanded because then you would have excess and would be stuck with a loss. God’s business system works a little bit different. His supply is and will always be greater than your demand. No matter what you ask for, He always has enough supply stored up for you. His grace is sufficient. His mercies are new every morning. His love never fails.

There are a few things about this verse in Philippians that I would like to point out that we seem to overlook. We have a tendency to take this verse out of context. We always want to quote “My God will supply” but we leave out the other key words to this verse that Paul writes to the Philippians.

Paul starts of his statement with the word “and.” Now I wasn’t very good in English class but I remember that “and” was a conjunction. Which means you have to go back and take a look at what Paul said in the previous verses. In those verses, he commends the Philippians for sharing with him in his suffering and for sowing into his ministry. Because of this, Paul then writes “And my God will supply.” So many times we think that we don’t have to do anything and God is just going to bless us. But the reason why Paul said that God would supply for the Philippians was because they had sowed good seed in order to help supply for Paul and his endeavors.

The next thing we tend to leave out or misinterpret from this verse is the word “need.” Paul says God will supply every need not every want. Too many times we are still asking and believing that God will supply but we are believing for our wants and desires when in fact, if we took a look around, we would see that He has already provided us with everything we need. For instance, I would really like to have and want a Lamborghini but what I need is a reliable vehicle to get me from point A to point B. I would really like to have the new iPhone 4s but what I need is a phone that I can afford that will do everything I need it to do.

Paul goes on to explain how God will supply our needs. Paul writes “according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” We think that God is going to supply according to what man considers riches, but God supplies according to His riches which far outweigh this world’s riches. I’m so glad God’s supply is not based on man’s standard or is limited to the world’s resources.

Lastly, Paul tells the Philippians that God’s supply is in Christ Jesus. In other words if you have Jesus, you have everything you need. Everything minus Jesus equals nothing, but Jesus plus nothing equals everything. You might not have an expensive car, but you got Jesus. You might not have the biggest house on the block, but you got Jesus. You might not have a ton of money, but you got Jesus. You might not have what the world tells you that you need in order to be happy, but you got Jesus. You might not have that high paying job, but you got Jesus. You might not have all that you want, but if you have Jesus, you got everything you will ever need.

Stand Up And Say Something

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them. Acts 2:14 (ESV)

The title and the basis of this post comes from a message I heard Bishop Michael Pitts, Senior Pastor of Conerstone Church, give at Kingdom Momentum at Redemption World Outreach Center.

Until someone stands up and tells the truth, the world will continue to believe a lie. Paul writes “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (See Romans 10:14) The world is waiting for the sons of God to rise up and take a stand (See Romans 8:14-19). We have what the world needs. The problem is they are seeking after the lie of what they have been told they need, what they believe they need, and what they see others have and think they want. They are like the cripple at the temple gate, who thought he needed money and the world kept bringing him back to the same spot day after day never taking him into his breakthrough. Finally Peter and John came along to give him what he really needed (See Acts 3:1-7).

There seems to be something that is holding us back from standing up and saying something. Everyone knows what we are against but no one knows what we stand for. My dad always told me that if I didn’t stand for something, I would fall for anything. Nobody is taking a stand, so everyone keeps falling for the lie over and over again. Here are a few things that I believe keep us silent.

1) We fall for the lie that everyone is doing it, so I should do it.

2) We fall for the lie of talking ourselves out of it.

3) We fall for the lie that nothing has ever changed, so why say something now.

4) We fall for the lie that I am only one person, I can’t do anything significant, I can’t have an impact.

Just like the apostles got out of the upper room, we have to get outside of the four walls of the church. The world is waiting for someone to tell them the truth about who they are. The animals wandered around wondering who they were until Adam told them who they are. People have wondered around too long listening to the lies of the enemy telling them they’re a loser, there is no hope, their dreams are dead. There is a valley of dry bones out there that is waiting for us to speak to them. To speak life into them. It’s time to stand up and tell them the truth of who they are in Christ.

In Christ there is no more condemnation (See Romans 8:1). In Christ you have peace (See Philippians 4:7). In Christ all your needs are supplied (See Philippians 4:19). In Christ all things are made new (See 2 Corinthians 5:17). In Christ you’re made alive (See 1 Corinthians 15:22). In Christ you can stand firm (2 Corinthians 1:21-23). In Christ you are reconciled to God (See Ephesians 2:13). In Christ you are a son or daughter of God (See Galatians 3:26-27). In Christ you are free (See Galatians 2:4). In Christ you are always triumphant (See 2 Corinthians 2:14). In Christ you are blessed (Ephesians 1:3). In Christ you have grace, faith, and love (See 1 Timothy 1:14). In Christ you are righteous, holy, and redeemed (See 1 Corinthians 1:30). In Christ you have a purpose (See Philippians 3:13-14). In Christ you are perfect (See Colossians 1:28). In Christ you are joyful, prayerful, and thankful (See 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). In Christ you have salvation and an eternal hope (See 2 Timothy 2:10).

Stand up and say something!

Daydreaming

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11 NIV)

How many times has someone been talking to you and you’re not hearing a word they say because you’re zoned out, caught in a trance, thinking about something else, or daydreaming? In order for them to get your attention and for you to respond to what they’re telling you, they got to raise their voice, yell, scream, shake you, or even hit you in order to wake you up from your trance. This happens a lot. So many times we miss out on the reality of what is happening around us because we are caught up daydreaming about something.

In Acts 1, we see the disciples doing the same thing. Jesus has just given them their instructions and has ascended into Heaven, but they’re still staring up in the clouds pondering about what all has happened and waiting for Him to return. God had to send two messengers to wake them up in order that they might follow up with the task that Jesus had given them.

Most of the time we, like the disciples, get lost daydreaming about what God has already done in our lives, our church, our city; that we need someone, the Holy Spirit, to come along and wake us up in order that we might get moving so we don’t miss what God is about to do or what He is going to do next. There is a saying that says “Some people make things happen, others watch things happen, and some people say ‘What just happened?'” If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves in the third category wondering what in the world just happened.

Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t look back and reflect on what God has done every now and then in order that we might be reminded that He was faithful back then, He’ll be faithful again and to see how far He’s brought us from where we had been. I’m saying we can’t live there in that state of daydreaming about the past because if the disciples had kept staring up at the clouds; they never would have got to chapter two, been filled with the Holy Spirit, seen 3,000 people get saved and baptized, establish the church, and change the world.

Are you caught in a trance? Are you zoned out from what God is telling you to do next? Are you daydreaming? If so, here’s you’re wake up call. Get your head out of the clouds and start moving in the direction God has told you to do today.

Sound Check

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. Acts 2:2-3 (NKJV)

This post is inspired by a message Apostle Ron Carpenter, Senior Pastor of Redemption World Outreach Center, spoke at Bishop Eddie Long’s, Senior Pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, church.

As humans we have a tendency to base everything on what we see. Even in our world, the speed of light travels faster than the speed of sound. In the natural what we see always comes before what we hear. But in the supernatural, what you hear always precedes what you see. A sound is always first followed by sight. Impartation comes before revelation.

We find examples of this in the Bible everywhere. Jehoshaphat sent the worshippers first when they were going into battle (See 2 Chronicles 20:1-30), Ezekiel spoke to the dry bones before they came together bone to bone (See Ezekiel 37:1-10), Joshua and the children of Israel had to shout before the walls of Jericho came down (See Joshua 6:20), Gideon and his 300 men blew their trumpets before they saw the Lord deliver the Midianites into their hands (See Judges 7:19-23), and in the verse above we see that the 120, who gathered in the upper room, heard a sound of a mighty rushing wind before they saw the tongues of fire.

Paul tells us that we are to walk by faith and not by sight (See 2 Corinthians 5:7). He also tells us that faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Too many times we walk around by what we see instead having faith in what we hear from the word of God. I heard Christine Caine, founder of The A21 Campaign, say in her message at Elevation Church’s Code Orange Revival “If you see only what you see, you will never see what you’re suppose to see.” In other words if you believe only in what you see around you, you will never see what God has planned for you in your life. Sound is everything. If you don’t like what you are seeing around you, then change the sound you are making. When Paul and Silas were put into the inner prison and had there feet fastened in stocks, the only thing that they could do was use their mouths. They didn’t make a sound of defeat, but they raised their voices in prayer and praise to God. Suddenly there was an earthquake, the prison was shaken, the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were loosed (See Acts 16:24-26). We tend to look around at our situation and circumstances in life, and instead of shouting in victory in order to see the walls fall down in our lives, we make a sound of depression, despair, and defeat. It’s time to rise up and start making a different sound. A sound of triumph. A sound of an overcomer. A sound of a champion. A sound of a warrior. A sound of a conqueror. A sound of victory.

I heard Tavner Smith, Pastor of the Movement Student Ministry of Redemption World Outreach Center, give this illustration at Unite Greenville. Back when they use to only fight by hand to hand combat both sides would line up facing each other. Before they would ever start fighting, each army would raise up a sound in order that they might intimidate the opposing forces. When the other army heard a shout that was louder than theirs, they would have second thoughts as to if it was a good idea for them to participate in this war. Well I’m here to say that I believe that the people of God are beginning to rise up and make a sound that has the enemy second guessing whether or not it’s a good idea for him to be participating in this war.

Are you going to rise up and take your place? Are you going to join the sound? Are you going to join in redemption’s song? If you are, then let me hear you shout with a voice of triumph!

Where Do You Go From Here?

It’s easy to sing, shout, say and do the right things in church, but what do you do when you go back to reality, your regular routine, the real world. It’s not hard when you’re in the right environment and around the right people, but what do you do when you are outside of that environment and around people who don’t act, think, or speak like you do. We all know what to do on Sundays at church in between the four walls, but what do you do on Monday through Saturday out in the world when you’re outside of those four walls. Where do you go from here?

Have you ever asked that question? Have you ever wondered what do I do now? What do I do when life throws me a curveball? What do I do when everything around me seems to be falling apart? Where do I go when everything that works in church doesn’t seem to work outside of those walls? Where do I go when the storms, circumstances, situations, tests, and trials seem to be overwhelming and are overtaking your life?

When we take a look at Peter’s life, we see that Peter is saying all the right words, walking on water, cutting off ears, and is on top of the mountain while he is with Jesus, but denying, betraying, and backtracking when he is away from Jesus. Twice we find Peter stuck in a boat with the rest of the disciples apart from Jesus. Matthew tells us about the first time (See Matthew 14:28-31) and John tells us about the second time (See John 21:1-7). The first time Peter finds himself in the middle of the fiercest storm of his life. The second time He’s doing everything he knows to do in order to get a breakthrough in his life, but nothing is working. So what does Peter do? I’ve looked at, studied, dissected, and analyzed both accounts. The only thing that I can see that Peter did both times was that he got out of the boat. He stepped out of his comfort zone. He went against what was the norm, he got out of what everyone said is safe, and got out of what culture had taught him and what he had become to know as the facts.

Some of you might be in the middle of the toughest storm you have ever faced. Others of you might be doing everything you know to do and still haven’t seen any breakthrough. So what do you do? Where do you go from here? You go back to what you did the first time you got to Jesus. You step out of your comfort zone. You get out of what is considered the norm. You go against what you have become to know as the facts. You get out of the boat!

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