New Identity 5

“Now you are the body of Christ,
and each one of you is a part of it”
 (1 Corinthians 12:27)

Reflection:
Something dramatic has happened to us as believers. We have received the Holy Spirit of God. He makes our new relationship with the Father into a living reality. He also unites us to Christ in a new way as we become a part of the Body of Christ – the visible sign of His presence in the world, directed and controlled by the Lord Himself as the Head.

  • “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3)
  • “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink”  (1 Corinthians 12:13)
  • “And he is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18)

Now when we become united to Christ in His body we also become united to those who are also a part of that body. Our relationship with them becomes completely different as well for we are now brothers and sisters of each other and with the Lord Jesus, and are children together of the same Father.

 “In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others”  (Romans 12:5)

What this means is not that other people have become like us, or we like them. What has happened to us all, and what we need to embrace, is that we have all left our previous backgrounds and identities and have stepped together into a new foreground in which we begin to explore our new relationship with the Lord and with each other. That this is important and what the Lord desires could not be clearer.

  • “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34)
  • “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35)
  • “This is my command: Love each other” (John 15:17)

It is a journey of which we are all a part and in equal relationship. And if we are to discover and enjoy the blessings and fruit of our new identity and these new relationship we will let go of what will not be helpful.

In summary – the Holy Spirit leads us into and witnesses to the reality of our new identity in Christ and as a part of the Body of Christ. He works with us to unite us to the Lord and to each other. And He produces the blessings and fruit that God has prepared for us all and that are found only in Christ Jesus.

Response:
I cannot have two identities for I cannot have two Masters. Choose the one that gives life

Prayer:

Lord forgive me for holding onto the things and ways of my old world – help me to embrace freely the people and ways of Your new world and to enjoy all that You have prepared for me. Amen.

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New Identity 4

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit
that we are God’s children”
(Romans 8:16)

Reflection:
Such is the desire of God that we should be redeemed as His children – and know it for ourselves – that He has given us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is not to be with us as a companion but within us as a living Presence.

Here the Spirit has a number of functions.  The first is to testify to and with our spirit that we are God’s children. This is so important that God has not left us to believe only in His spoken Word for He knows how easily we can doubt not only His Word but ourselves. So He witnesses Himself, by the Spirit, to our own spirits of the truth of our new and eternal relationship with Him. This is one that cannot be broken. God desires, accepts and commits Himself to it for all eternity. And He wants us to know it, receive and trust it, and live within it always.

An allied work to which the Spirit is committed is that of introducing us to the fullness of God’s love for us.

  • “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5)
  • “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19)

This testimony by God to our new identity, and of His great, unconditional and unending love, is vital to our relationship with Him – and of course to our relationship with ourselves.

Response:
The Holy Spirit is speaking to you at your deepest level. Are you listening and giving Him the space to be heard?

Prayer:

Holy Spirit of God please help me to listen, to hear and to respond to Your precious presence and marvellous message. Amen.

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Click across to It Came To Pass for a good free recording of The Psalms!

New identity 3

“Having believed,
 you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance
until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–
to the praise of his glory”
(Ephesians 1:13-14)

Reflection:
Our new identity in Jesus Christ is not merely a matter of words on a page, or of a promise of something to come – it is a present reality for believers.

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come to us in a new way – in a relationship that was even closer to the one that His disciples enjoyed with Him. For whilst He was with them the Holy Spirit would be in them – and in us too.

“But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you”  (John 14:17)

Furthermore, Paul tells us now that He will be to us the ‘seal’ of God. That is a sign of ownership from God, indicating that we belong to Him in a new and unbreakable relationship. It is also a sign and a guarantee that we are under and within the power and protection of God Almighty. Lastly the Holy Spirit represents a deposit, or first payment, of our inheritance from God. The remainder of the blessings that God has provided for us are eternally secure and we will enter into and receive them in the fullness of time.

Paul underlines this new identity for us again when he writes,

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Very clearly something remarkable has taken place. We are no longer the people of the world. We are no longer the products of our past with all its influences and allegiances. Our new and primary identity now is as the people of God – even more, as the children of God, His daughters and sons, both now and through all eternity. And as such

nothing “in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39)

This is what we are called to live out with Him.

Response:
As a believer I have received the Holy Spirit – I am a precious daughter/son of God – He is my eternal Father

Prayer:

Holy Spirit I am so glad that You are a part of my life. Please fill every part of me with Your presence and light, cleansing, healing and growing me, and filling me with the Father’s great love. Amen.

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New Identity 2

“John answered them all, “I baptize you with water.
But one more powerful than I will come,
the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire”
(Luke 3:16)

Reflection:
All four Gospels testify to the fact that Jesus Christ will baptise His followers with the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit, whom we understand to be God, was poured out in a completely new way on the Day of Pentecost. He transformed the spiritual lives of the disciples and the way that they lived. He also equipped them with the gifts and power that they would need for their new lives and ministry. And when in response to Peter’s Pentecost sermon the crowds were convicted and cried out, “What shall we do?” Peter’s response was brief and explicit,

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call”  (Acts 2:38-39)

This is the fulfilment of the prophecy of John the Baptist, it is the fulfilment of the promise of the Lord to send another “Counsellor, the Holy Spirit” and is the fulfilment of His word to Nicodemus concerning being born again through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

New life does not come without the Holy Spirit and yet He is freely available to all believers – not only as a once off blessing but as a continuing source of life and love and light.

  • “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)
  • “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5)
  • “But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26)

Finally as Paul makes clear “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9)

Our new identity comes about because God has called us to Himself and given to us the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the One who brings about the transformation in our lives from being children of the world to becoming children of the Most High God.

Response:
Keep on praying for more of the Holy Spirit in your life and invite Him into all your areas of concern

Prayer:

Holy Spirit of God please fill me with Your presence, pour the love of God into my heart and teach me all that I should know as I journey onward with You. Amen.

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New Identity – 1

“Yet to all who received him,
to those who believed in his name,
He gave the right to become children of God–
children born not of natural descent,
nor of human decision or a husband’s will,
but born of God”
(John 1:12-13)

Reflection:
Jesus came to offer to us a new identity – in line with God’s original intention in creation.

No longer children of the Fall with all its consequences, through faith in Christ we become children of the Lord God Almighty Himself. John made it clear at the beginning of his gospel that this was not a natural but a supernatural event.

This new birth is important for us to acknowledge, to believe and to own. In coming to faith in Jesus Christ we are no longer to see ourselves as a product of our past – our human genealogy, our culture and our lives – but instead, and in all humility, as a daughter or son of God. This comes about not by our own actions but by the action of God Himself, and through the agency of the Holy Spirit. It is one of the reasons for the Church’s celebration of Pentecost – observed yesterday.

This has enormous implications for the way in which we see ourselves and other Christians and, vitally, the way in which we see God and our relationship with Him.

We will explore this further during the week.

Response:
For today as a Christian – live with the truth that ‘I am a child of God’

Prayer:

Heavenly Father – our Father – my Father – thank You for adopting me as Your own son/daughter. By Your Holy Spirit please help me to believe and receive the wonder of this truth and to live within it. Amen.

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My heart not my deeds

 

“Peter asked,
“Lord, why can’t I follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you.”
(John 13:37)

Reflection:
It can be easy to be brave when there is no immediate threat. Sometimes it is just bragging and sometimes it is sincere. There is probably an element of both in Peter’s statement.

It seems clear that He was really committed to the Lord. And he was no doubt disappointed to be told that he could not now go wherever Jesus was heading. So he expresses his attachment in the strongest possible terms – only to be told that he will fail to carry out his boast. And to give him his due he did follow the Lord right into the courtyard of the high priest’s house – only to end up denying his relationship with Jesus when questioned by those around him.

However, the glorious truth would later be revealed – that instead of rejecting Peter as unworthy the Lord re-affirmed and re-instated him. And this would be because, unlike Judas, Peter really did want to be the sort of person who would give up everything for his Lord – and his Lord knew it! What Peter was to learn was that laying down his life for the Lord had more to do with his living than his dying!

If you have ever wept over your failures and failings – if like Paul you have cried out –

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15)

then take encouragement from the fact that the Lord does not merely consider your actions but He knows your heart as well. And it is your heart that He wants most of all – for if we give Him our hearts then all things become possible.

Jesus very next words to Peter and the others, after predicting Petr’s denials, were astounding.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”  (John 14:1)

He knew even then that they would all desert Him, but He also knew their hearts and that they would return. He knows your heart and He knows mine, far better than we know them ourselves, and so He asks us to just trust Him in all the ups and downs, the successes and failings, the joy and the pain, of our lives with Him.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”

Response:
Look to the Lord at all times – He will never look away from you.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I really do want to trust You with all my heart all of the time – it’s just that I don’t trust me! Please help me to keep my focus on You even when I foul up. Amen.

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Who is This?

“They were terrified and asked each other,
“Who is this?
Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
(Mark 4:41)

Reflection:
Jesus had been asleep in the stern of the boat when a storm threatened it. Awoken by His disciples

“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still.” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (Mark 4:39)

If Jesus, although fully human, was also the divine Son of God, then we would expect Him to reveal some of the same power and authority. The account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis reveals the majesty and power of God as He speaks creation into existence. (Note here that the focus of the Bible is always more upon ‘Who’ than on ‘How’ – which is the focus of science. God was setting out what He wanted and God then got what He wanted and was pleased with the result. Whether the process took six days as we know them or thirteen billion years as we know them is not the point.)

Jesus exercises this same majestic authority over creation when He commands the wind and the waves to be quiet and still. The result was such that the disciples were terrified and asked each other who this could be – for they realised the implications of what they had just seen.

There was no attempt to question how He had controlled the elements – no discussion on things like high or low pressure areas. They knew what they had seen and experienced, and that they were in the presence of someone terrifyingly like God!

The centurion was aware of a similar supreme authority when He amazed Jesus by saying

“Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8)

Response:
All the words of Jesus Christ are majestic and true – do I receive them as such?

Prayer:

Lord Jesus You speak words for a purpose – help me to give honour and attention to Your words and allow them into my life and living. Amen.

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