Discover Your Identity

As soon as a new baby arrives in the world, we try to discover who that child most resembles. Later we see traits that resemble adults we know who are involved in the child’s life. What’s your story?

  1. Who do people say that you look like or act like?
  2. What is one character trait that you hope to pass on to the next generation?
  3. Describe your family of origin. What made your family unique?
  4. How do you think that adopted kids feel about hearing comments about how much someone’s child looks like one of the parents?

Video Discussion:

  1. In what ways did you attempt to define who you were as you were growing up?
  2. How does that differ from how you define yourself now?
  3. What are some defining markers in your life?
    1. Women tend to define themselves in terms of relationships (I’m Scott’s wife, or I’m Bethany’s mom).
    2. Men tend to need more autonomy to strengthen their identity and create individuality (I’m a pastor, I’m a golfer, I’m a Packers fan).
    3. Definition of Identity Crisis: According to Merriam-Webster online, it is “personal psychosocial conflict especially in adolescence that involves confusion about one’s social role and often a sense of loss of continuity to one’s personality.”
    4. Men can experience a loss of identity when they lose a job, or survive a divorce, or face a tragic loss.
  4. How do you describe your understand of “identity in Christ?”

Bible Study:

Paul wrote almost half the New Testament, covering tons of topics. He has likely influence the faith of Christianity more than any other human being. Let’s take a look at the event that cause Saul/Paul to have an identity crisis in his life:

  1. Acts 8:1-3
  2. Acts 9:1-31
  3. Philippians 3:3-6
  4. Acts 22:2-5, 28-29
  5. Galatians 2:18-20

Paul had every reason to take pride in his accomplishments, he was a guy who made it to the top of his profession, but none of those achievements mattered from God’s point of view. Take a look at how Paul sums up what happened to him (Philippians 3:7-10).

  1. Are you able to look at your own identity markers and say the same thing to God?
  2. Imagine for a moment that you are holding that which is most precious to you, it is possible for it to be a total loss compared to knowing Christ?
  3. How does this all play out in practical everyday life?

Take a look at Jeremiah 2:4-13. To whom is God speaking? Israel should have known better, but they chose to forsake God for wooden idols. An Idol is simple something that receives your faith other than God. It’s not always a false religion; it can be a job, a relationship, a position or status, a marriage, a possession. These are the things that begin to define our identity and relationships other than Jesus. Which identity marker do you struggle with the most? Which item has become to you as a broken cistern?

New Creation in Christ: 2 Corinthians 5:17

There are two Greek words which are translated “new” in the Bible. The first, neos, refers to something that has just been made, but there are already many others in existence just like it. The word translated “new” in this verse is the word kainos, which means “something just made which is unlike anything else in existence.” In Christ, we are made an entirely new creation, just as God created the heavens and the earth originally—He made them out of nothing, and so He does with us. He does not merely clean up our old selves; He makes an entirely new self. When we are in Christ, we are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). God Himself, in the person of His Holy Spirit, takes up residence in our hearts. We are in Christ and He is in us.

Regeneration in Christ:

In Christ, we are regenerated, renewed, and born again, and this new creation is spiritually minded, whereas the old nature is carnally minded. The new nature fellowships with God, obeys His will, and is devoted to His service. These are actions the old nature is incapable of doing or even desiring to do. The old nature is dead to the things of the spirit and cannot revive itself. It is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) and can only be made alive by a supernatural awakening, which happens when we come to Christ and are indwelt by Him. Christ gives us a completely new and holy nature and an incorruptible life. Our old life, previously dead to God because of sin, is buried, and we are raised “to walk in newness of life” with Him (Romans 6:4).

New Status in Christ:

In our relationship with God, we are no longer His enemies, we are His children.

  1. Romans 3:10-11 describes the old self: “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.”
  2. Romans 5:10 describes the old self as enemies of God.
  3. Hosea 2:23 predicts the change of God’s heart toward us: “I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.'”
  4. Galatians 3:26 announces the arrival of our new position in Christ: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Set Free in Christ:

If we belong to Christ…

  1. We are united to Him and no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:5-6)
  2. We are made alive with Him (Ephesians 2:5)
  3. We are conformed to His image (Romans 8:29)
  4. We are free from condemnation and walking not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1)
  5. We are part of the body of Christ with other believers (Romans 12:5).

The believer now possesses a new heart (Ezekiel 11:19) and has been blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:3).

My Identity in Christ:

  1. I am God’s child (John 1:12)
  2. I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
  3. I am a friend of Christ (John 15:15)
  4. I belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:20)
  5. I am a member of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27)
  6. I have assurance of God’s best (Romans 8:28)
  7. I have redemption (Ephesians 1:7-8)
  8. I have purpose (Ephesians 2:10)
  9. I have access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18)
  10. I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)
  11. I have victory (1 John 5:4)
  12. I am blameless (1 Corinthians 1:8)
  13. I have been set free (Romans 8:2)

Think About It:

  1. Which of these claims is most comforting to you?
  2. Which of these claims is most difficult for you?
  3. What part of your life will you surrender to Christ? (this does not mean you can walk away from your roles or relationships… but consider it loss in relation to the fact of loving and knowing Christ.

Giftedness and Talents

We are called to love God and serve others, but many people don’t know where to begin to find out what they’re good at. We tend to discount our abilities believing that God can’t use us; ministry is for the one who received a special calling from God. But we can do various ministries with a certain ease and effectiveness if we would only discover our spiritual gift and seek to actively employ it in service to the Christ.

Besides these suggestion below, make sure to discover your spiritual gifts by using this free online spiritual gifts inventory:

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Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive. — Gil Bailie

There is nothing with which every person is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much they are capable of doing and becoming. — Soren Kierkegaard

Top 10 Ways to Activate Your Gifts:

  1. Consider classes or seminars to develop your natural gifts.
  2. Take a spiritual gifts inventory to discover your strengths.
  3. Ask your friends and close family members what gifts they see in you.
  4. Tell God you eagerly desire your gift (1 Corinthians 14:1) and see what He does.
  5. Talk to your pastor about outlets for your gift.
  6. Experiment with your spiritual gifts in a small group.
  7. Spend time with someone who is spiritually mature in the areas of your giftedness.
  8. Read a book on spiritual gifts, or use the online inventory.
  9. Go to conferences and learn more about giftedness.
  10. Look for practical ways to use spiritual gifts in your school or workplace.

Finding God on the Journey

During the week of January 27 – February 3, King’s Grant Baptist Church opened its doors to the Volunteers of America Winter Shelter. There were about 80 or so homeless men and women in need of shelter from the cold. Just so happens that our weekend brought the worst snowstorm in 20 years, about 8-9 inches, which shuts down a city that does not have the equipment to properly deal with this sort of situation.

I came up on Friday evening to spend the night, and the snow hit overnight. So on Saturday we made the decision to keep our guests all day (rather than the normal VOA bussing the homeless out and bringing them back at night). If the snow worsened, they might not get back on Saturday night.

Due to the inclement weather, many churches called off services, and we were no exception. The safety of our members and guests is a greater priority than the congregation gathering for corporate worship. But the fact is that many of our members still made it up to the church because of their commitment to the Winter Shelter guests: cooking meals, maintaining rest rooms, leading a Bible study each evening, and visiting with our temporary guests.

On Sunday evening, before meal time, I was able to have devotional time with our guests. I read from Genesis 28:11-13, 15-18, 20-21.

Jacob was on a journey escaping the wrath of his brother Esau. He finds a place to set up camp and pulls a rock over to use as a pillow. In a dream that night, he sees a stairway to heaven (while Led Zeppelin made the phrase famous, the real story is found in Genesis 28). It seems that angels are going up and down this “ladder” (remember the children’s song, “we are climbing Jacob’s ladder”?).

God speaks and reminds Jacob that he is not alone, that God is with him and will guide him back to the place he needs to be, to his father’s house. These are the wonderful words of God, “I will not leave you.”

Jacob arises the next morning and declares that “God is surely in this place and he did not know it,” (Genesis 28:16) and makes a vow to the Lord, “If you protect me, provide me food and clothing, and a safe journey, then You will become my God.” (Genesis 28:20-21, as opposed to the Lord being only the God of his fathers). Jacob encounters God and eventually the Lord gives him a new name, Israel (Genesis 32:28).

The point is that even in the dark times of life, when we are on a journey toward a place we do not yet see, we are not alone for God is with us. God provides for us and makes His presence known. It is our deepest hope that each our guests found God in a place that perhaps they did not expect to find Him, in a Winter Shelter. We hope they encountered God through His people who gather in and serve Christ in this place. As God protected Jacob, we pray that He would protect our guests, and bring them to the place they need to be. No one places to be homeless, and we pray the Winter Shelter is only a temporary measure on their journey in life.

The facilities were warm in the midst of a cold world; we welcomed them and provided much more than a rock for a pillow. We know that God will not leave us or them. He will protect us and guarantee His presence, especially in times of trouble. Jacob named the place, Bethel, which means, the House of God. Let our facility be forever called, Bethel, (Genesis 28:19) where people find God, even when they might not be looking for Him.