Measuring Success, Re-Visited!

Confession time – tonight, I was glancing through my Facebook wall.  A friend had posted something a few days ago that I had neglected to respond to, and so I had a moment and wanted to go back and respond.  When I pulled up my page, one of the first things I saw was my own blog post from yesterday – “How Do You Measure Success?” 

redefining-success

I saw that no one had like my post.  I thought, “What the heck???!!!!!  That was a good blog!  I did some good writing!”  I wondered what was wrong.  I started to become discouraged.

Then I realized what I had done.

I had allowed the fact that no one “liked” a post – a post about not finding your value in goals and recognition from others – to discourage me.

I had judged myself on the very standard that I had told others to avoid!

Now why am I writing this and admitting it?

Because I need to.  Because if I keep that in the dark, it can create issues for me.

Instead, I’m exposing it to the light. 

One of the things that is a struggle for me is that I seek peoples’ approval.  And that means that if I’m not careful, if I’m not intentional, and if I’m not walking in the Spirit, I can act out of that need for peoples’ approval. 

That’s not healthy.  It’s rooted somewhere in a lie that I’ve believed about my own lack of value or in where my value comes from.  I’m still working through where and when and why I first believed that lie, and what the actual lie is.  And, I’m still learning that all the approval I need is my Father’s approval.  My value doesn’t lie in what anyone else thinks of me or says about me, and my value doesn’t even lie in what I think about myself.

My value has already been determined by my Father, and He demonstrated my value through His Son Jesus at the cross.

The tough thing is that I know this.  In fact, those of you who attend Awakening Alliance know that I preached on this very thing just two weeks ago.  But man, is it hard to re-program our thinking when we have lived under the influence of lies for a long time.

Honesty is hard.  But it is powerful.  And I want to be free.  So, here I am, being honest about not practicing what I just preached about and blogged about it!  This wasn’t easy to admit to myself, let alone to all of you.

But I’m learning.  Tonight or tomorrow, I’ll probably be on Facebook, and I’ll probably notice if anyone like this post or not.  But before I do, I’ll remind myself that it doesn’t matter.  As my friend Rob Reimer says often, the issue of my value was settled at the cross.

I’ll end with the same two questions I asked Wednesday, because I needed to ask myself these same things again: “What about you?  How do you measure yourself?”


If you’re interested in learning more about following Jesus, check out my new devotional book, Forty Days of Walking With Jesus:  A Devotional Guide, now available on the Kindle Store.  A paperback version will be available in just a few weeks.

Identity and Authority

You are the light of the world.

I know, I know.  That’s a difficult concept to wrap our heads around.  Even knowing it to be true, it still sometimes sounds at the very least egotistical, at the very worst blasphemous.

But it’s true.  It’s what Jesus said about us.

Understanding that you are the light of the world and that I am the light of the world – not just knowing the concept in our heads, but understanding that it is true, and believing that with all of our hearts – will dramatically change the way we pray.

Why?

It raises the issue of our authority.

Let me add one more piece to the puzzle – one more aspect of our identity – and then I’ll come back to that issue of authority.

You are the light of the world.  But more than that, you are united with Jesus.  You are one with Him.  He is in you, and you are in Him.

Jesus said this in John 14:20:  “On that day you (according to the context, “that day” is after Jesus’ resurrection, when the Holy Spirit has been given – Pentecost) will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

So here’s what Jesus is saying:  “I am in my Father.”  Jesus is one with the Father.  They are two, separate, distinct persons; but they are also one – one God existing as Father and Son (and of course, as Holy Spirit also).  So Jesus and our Father are one.

Then Jesus says, “…you are in me, and I am in you.”  In other words, just as the Father and Son are one, so too (hold onto your hats!) you and Jesus are one.

What does that even mean?

It means that you and Jesus are two separate, distinct persons, just as Jesus and the Father are two separate, distinct persons.  But it also means that you and Jesus are also one, in complete union, just as the Father and Son are one, in complete union.

I know, it SOUNDS wrong.  It sounds prideful, arrogant, New-Age-y; it sounds like false teaching.

But it’s all through the New Testament.  Here are a few other examples:

  • You are united with Christ, one with him in spirit – 1 Corinthians 6:17
  • You are complete in Jesus – Colossians 2:10
  • Your old life is now spiritually dead; you are now hidden with Christ in God – Colossians 3:3
  • Your position is that you are actually seated with Jesus in the heavenly places – Ephesians 2:6
  • You are the actual temple of God on this earth – 1 Corinthians 3:16

Now, none of those incredible statements are platforms to claim we are gods, or to walk in arrogance.  All of these things are true of you and of me because of Jesus, and only because of Jesus.  They are completely dependent upon His grace and His work on the cross.  But they are absolutely true of every one of us who have repented of our sins, believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and chosen to follow Him.

These truths are a gateway to absolute humility (because they are only true of us because of what Jesus did for us) as well as to incredible authority (because we are one with Jesus, and so our words, actions, and prayers carry behind them the incredible weight of the power of Jesus)!

When you understand that you are one with Jesus, your concept and practice of prayer becomes transformed.  It shifts from a practice of begging God for help, for intervention, for action, for provision, for healing, for whatever, to instead being a platform for authoritative declaration.

Jesus-Calms-Storm

Calming the Storm

Jesus prayed with authority because He knew He was one with the Father.  He prayed powerful prayers like:  “Lazarus, come out”; “Pick up your bed and walk”; “Peace, be still”; and “Be opened.”  He heard the Father’s voice, understood the Father’s will, and then spoke that will through declarative prayer.

You, a person who is in union with Jesus, have the ability, capacity, and authority to learn to pray the same way, with the same effectiveness.  You have the authority to speak healing, to command mountains to move, to speak peace into turbulent situations, to declare forgiveness, to rebuke and stop the work of the enemy.

We’ll dive deeper into this in our next devotional, and in our service on Sunday.

In the meantime, let me close with this quote from author Ted Dekker.  Think on this throughout the day:

“Remember:  it’s never what you believe about yourself that defines you; it’s your Father’s opinion of you that defines you.  Your opinion of yourself only defines the experience you have in this life.  Indeed, to believe in Yeshua (Jesus) is to believe like Yeshua.  To believe like Yeshua is to believe…you were raised with and in Him.”

You are the Light of the World

You are the light of the world.

Until you believe that, I can’t really teach you much that will help you in your prayer life.

At least, not that will help you pray like Jesus prayed.

Yesterday in our service, we looked at the simple truth from James 5 that Elijah was a man just like us, and that God did powerful things because Elijah prayed.

Although most of us have no problem believing that God can do powerful things in response to prayer (even though our prayers don’t always seem to be answered), it’s a more difficult thing to believe that Elijah was a man just like us, and that our prayers can have the same kind of results that his had.  But God’s Word says that YOUR prayers can be powerful and effective.

Well, it’s time to step beyond even that.

You are the light of the world.

I know, I know.

That sounds blasphemous.  New Age-y.  Egotistical.  The power of positive thinking gone overboard.

After all, we’re sinners saved by grace.  We’re totally depraved.  We were born in sin and we have a sin nature.  It’s all true.

But there is a deeper truth.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”  And then later, he looked at his disciples and said, “you are the light of the world.”

You’re a sinner saved by graced.  You were born with a sinful nature that was totally depraved.  But, you see, there’s this thing called the gospel – the good news.  And the good news is that if you place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior, not only are your sins forgiven, not only are you promised heaven, but you are also transformed.  You become a new creation.  (See 2 Corinthians 5:17, for example.)  You who were born in darkness are no longer darkness – you are light, the light of the world, because the Spirit of Jesus (we call Him the Holy Spirit) is now in you.  You are no longer the person you used to be.

identity

I cannot over-stress, over-emphasize, or over-teach the importance of understanding who you now are in understanding how to pray.  Knowing God – His loving nature as Father, His kind heart, His grace and mercy – that’s the most important thing you need to know about prayer.  But I think the next most important thing you need to know is who you are – what your identity is.  Because it influences your approach to God, and in so doing, influences how you actually pray.

So let’s begin today with this – your identity in Christ.  Here are a few things that God says about who you are, once you are a follower of Jesus:

  • You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
  • You are a saint (Ephesians 1:1).  (Yes, I know.  There are no statues of you anywhere.  But that’s not what makes a saint.  God says you are a saint, even if you don’t feel like one or always act like one.  What makes you a saint is what Jesus did for you, not what you do for God.)
  • You are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27).
  • You are the son/daughter of God (John 1:12).
  • You are complete in Jesus (Colossians 2:10).

That’s a lot.  But that’s enough for today.  In my next post, I’ll start to explore what all of that means, and why it matters as far as our attitude in prayer.

In the meantime, here’s your homework for each day.  Stand in front of the mirror each morning and read the five statements above.  Declare them over yourself.  Do this every day until you truly believe it.

Why?  Because that’s what God says is true about you.  And He is smarter than you and me.  He knows things that we don’t know.  And the One who created us in His image knows more about us than we know about ourselves, including who we are.

Remember – the prodigal son was ALWAYS the father’s son, even when he was living in a pig-sty and felt like becoming his father’s slave would be a step up.

Your feelings don’t determine your identity.  What God says is true about you determines your identity.

And you are the light of the world.