Found In You Devotional - Day 2
In yesterday's devotional, I mentioned that I was writing this devotional on a cruise. My wife, Lauren, and I have not been on a big vacation (just the two of us) since our honeymoon, 8 ½ years ago. So, I desperately needed to pull back and take some time with my wife, and I have to say we are living it up!
One of my favorite moments so far has been standing at the back of the ship as we took off from the Falmouth port in Jamaica at sunset. Talk about breathtaking! It’s an amazing view! The sky is on fire, the lush greens of the mountains are just about to be covered by shadows, and I can taste salt on my lips from a day of snorkeling. I am at peace and my soul is full of God’s goodness. I’m looking at one of the most beautiful places on earth, and all the colors I am taking in reminded me about another beautiful place--New Mexico.
I lived in New Mexico for about three years as a worship minister at a church that had a lot of different campuses. I was placed at our Santa Fe location and had to commute about an hour to and from work. I loved those times spent with God in the car, while getting to see such a beautiful landscape. I remember one very early morning on my way to church when I was praying and God revealed Himself to me in one of the strongest and most powerful ways that has ever happened to me. I mean, any stronger and it would have been an audible voice from a burning bush! You know, Moses style. Now, I am very cautious to ever say that God told me something because, in my experience, most of the people who say that phrase are just a little bit "looloo." Haha!!! I think most of the time we are discerning God’s will through prayer, thought, and scripture. But every once in awhile (at least for me) there is a voice inside, and when it speaks it is undeniably God.
Now, before I share with you what God revealed to me, I need to tell you something about myself, and I think you’ll be able to identify with me (if you're honest with yourself). Sometimes I don’t have anything nice to say to that guy staring back at me in the mirror. And if I am just really transparent with you, there are days I say unspeakable things to myself. It’s not every day, I don’t live in a state of self-loathing, but none the less, I have those days.
Maybe you have the same thoughts or have said some mean things to yourself. Maybe, just like me, you wonder why. I believe that we slowly let lies come into our hearts. Maybe it’s the harsh words of an abusive parent, or maybe you were bullied, or maybe you feel guilty about a sin that bubbles up from deep in your past. Whatever the cause is, you find yourself not liking who you are, and you can’t even fathom that Jesus cares for you, let alone died so you could be with Him.
For me, it was as simple as not feeling like I had a place socially when I was young. I honestly got my approval from other people and not from God. Even now, those old feelings can sneak back into our thoughts. There are things in our lives that tell us what our identity should be, and these things grow deep roots in our hearts. The only way to rid ourselves of these thoughts is to know where we can truly find our identity and our self worth. It’s in Jesus Christ! We actually take on the name Christian (which means little Christ) when we decide to follow God. So when we forget where our identity and self worth is from, we have to remember! It is not a coincidence that the title of our song is "Found in You". And that the phrase “found in you” is heard over 45 times in the time span of about three minutes. I think if you get anything out of this song, it helps us remember that our identity is found in God alone.
Let’s get back to what God showed me as I traveled to Santa Fe, gazing at the Sangre de Christo Mountains. You see, my payer that morning was a struggle because God was calling me to a new church. I didn’t know at the time it was going to be Bethany First Church. In fact, this was months before there was even a job opening here, and to be honest, I was really having a hard time because a lot of really great things were happening at my current church. So after "having it out" with God for about 30 minutes, I said, “Fine! Okay God, I’m gonna put my resume out there and really commit to finding a new job, but you are gonna have to open the right door and close the wrong ones ‘cause I’m an idiot! And I can’t do this on my own!” And then as plain as day God said, “You’re not an idiot, you’re my son and I love you.” Needless to say, I lost it. I broke down. The rest of the drive, I was wrecked, but I knew I was loved, and that I belonged to God. He didn’t even address what I was praying about! See, God knew in that season of life, I had forgotten who I was.
So check this out: Exodus 15.13 says, “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” Those are a few lines from the song that was sung in response to God saving the Israelites from Pharaoh. Now remember that our relationship with God can parallel the Israelites walk with God. So, if you think about this Scripture in this way, you come to the conclusion that God loves you. That should make you have some self worth right there! The God that hung the moon and stars loves you! But God didn’t just say He loves us, He showed us by redeeming us from our sin and the shame that enslaved us. Our God is a God of action! He’s not going to just say He loves us, He proved it on the cross. Ephesians 1.7 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” In God's infinite strength, He destroyed Satan, sin, and death, and has not only told us He loves us and freed us from sin, but “leads us to His holy dwelling.” This is God saying, “I want to be with you.” Not only that, He is saying, “I want you to be part of my family.” Take a look at these verses.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
2 Corinthians 6.18
And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. (please don’t miss the power in this) So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly, I will sing your praises.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.” Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might break the power of Him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who, all their lives, were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Here is the bottom line: we have to remember who we are. We are the children of God! The lies of the enemy, the world, and our past will tell us the worst things about our worth and identity. That is why we tell and retell the story of Jesus to ourselves. So we never forget who God is, what He has done for us, and who we are in light of it. When you don’t have the strength to live a life of remembrance, God will pursue you and set you straight. For me it was in driving towards the Sangre de Christo Mountains early on a Sunday morning. Here’s a little side note: In Spanish, sangre means blood, and de means of. Christo is Latin for Christ. Ha! Through the the blood of Christ, I am adopted as a son of God. My Father reminded me of my identity while looking at the mountains created by Him, and they are named “Blood of Christ”. If that doesn’t light your fire, your wood’s wet! Praise God! Praise God! Praise God!
Can you see glimpses of God through creation? For me it is sunsets and sunrises.
What are some of the lies (about who you are) that keep bubbling up to the surface?
In light of Hebrews 2 and knowing that Jesus is not ashamed to call you family, can you let these lies die?
What is one thing you can change about your schedule to afford yourself time to live a life of remembrance, a life centered around God?
Take one of the scriptures you just read in this devotional and speak it over your life every morning this week. Then every night before bed, thank Jesus for His blood that binds us together as family.
2 Corinthians 6.18
Father, you are a great and loving father. You are perfect and holy in every way. I want to praise you with my words, actions, and thoughts. I confess today that sometimes it is hard to remember that I am your child. Please help me not to believe the lies that can overcome my mind. Instead, let me be overcome with your victory over my sin and shame. Let me live freely in your unfailing love. I want to abide in you, Father. Would you hold me close to your heart? Would you help me find my worth and identity in you alone? And would you forgive me if I should fail? Would you lift me up again and show me who I am and that you have given me your love and affection? May I be ever grateful for the love, mercy, and grace you have shown me. I love you, amen.