Who Am I God?

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Someone who has their life pulled together, or someone who’s life is coming apart at the seams? Do you see a person full of potential, or full of regrets? How do you think others see you? More importantly, how do you think God sees you?

One of my favorite Bible characters is Gideon, a man who saw himself and his people as helpless, hopeless and small before their enemy. I encourage you to grab your Bible and read the account in Judges 6: 11-16 (The whole story of Gideon runs through chapters 6-8). The Israelites were under constant attack by their enemies, the Midianites. For seven years their enemy oppressed them, destroying everything they had and driving them from their homes. The Israelites did the only thing they could – they cried out to the Lord. And He did as He always does – He heard their cries and He responded.

Near a small town, a stranger wandered up to rest in the shade of a tree beside a winepress. (A winepress is a below-ground pool-like structure that used heavy stones to press the juice from the grape sending it through drains to gather the juice.) Gideon is in the winepress threshing wheat. Don’t run past that, because wheat was threshed atop the ground, usually on a high spot where the breeze could catch the chaff (or waste) and blow it away while the heavier grain falls back to the ground. There’s not much breeze down in a winepress, but this tells you how fearful Gideon was. He was down there hiding from the Midianites.

The stranger calls out to him “The Lord is with you mighty warrior” (v. 12). I imagine Gideon spun around looking for the person he was addressing. What Gideon doesn’t realize is the stranger is the Angel of the Lord, and he was calling Gideon by the name the Lord had given him. Mighty Warrior. The angel tells Gideon that God is appointing him to deliver the Israelites from their enemy. Gideon isn’t buying it. “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my family” (v. 15). Gideon sees only his weakness and smallness. He compares himself to the enemy and knows he doesn’t measure up. But Jehovah God sees Gideon as the man He will empower to accomplish great things for Israel. God promises Gideon “I will be with you and you will strike down all the Midianites” (v. 16). And that’s the whole point. God isn’t looking at what Gideon is or what Gideon can do; He is looking at what He will do through Gideon, at what He had destined Gideon to become – a mighty warrior.

The enemy of our soul, Satan, tries to convince us that we are so much less than what God declares us to be.   God has called us His children (1 John 3:1), Satan says God has abandoned us. God says we are beloved (Jeremiah 31:3), Satan tries to convince us that we are unlovable. God says we are able to do great things in His name (John 14:12), Satan whispers to us “you can’t…you will fail…you’re too weak.” God has declared that through Jesus Christ we are forgiven and cleansed (1 John 1:9), Satan tells us we wear the banner of our past across our chest. Satan is a liar.

God is in the transformation business, rebuilding and remaking our lives according to His plan and purpose. And Jeremiah 29:11 says that He has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.” God has created you with “a good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2) in mind. Nothing and no one defines you but God. Whatever your past has been, whatever other voices have said about you, whatever the enemy has tried to tell you about yourself, hear this above anything else: You are who God says you are. And He has said “You are mine.”

God, the world and the enemy and my own past cast me as a weak and hopeless loser, but You have said I am Your child, the apple of Your eye, Your beloved. Lord, help me to see myself as You have declared me to be: Your very own. Amen.

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Little by Little

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

I am leaving this morning with a group of ladies to a Christian Women’s Conference, with a powerful and godly speaker and a wonderful worship music.  Two days of Christian fellowship, singing, hearing the Word, and no kid or hubby.  I am looking forward to this like a thirsty man in a desert looks forward to a refreshing spring.  I have been blessed to attend many of these conferences over the years, but I confess I have not always gotten what I had hoped out of them.

For many years I approached every conference with the same thought, “This one will change me for good!”  I would go with my journal ready to write down some life-altering truth that would finally “fix” everything in me that was broken.  I knew I would come home so filled with the Spirit that my family, friends, co-workers, even my cat would notice the new me.  And I did hear powerful truths and receive wonderful messages from the Lord.  The praise and worship music would wash over me and cleanse so much of the bitterness and anxiety from my heart.

But I eventually had to come home and before too long, the “old me” would show her snarling face again.  What happened to my life-changing experience?  Can I go back and pick up that new spirit again?  It was the same with the many books I read – surely this book will have the answer to all my struggles and I will be changed when I close the cover.

I bet you can relate on some level.  Sunday after Sunday we go to church with the hope that the Pastor will say something today that will put all our broken pieces back in place.  There are those rare and blessed times that a word spoken or read does produce a life-changing effect, but for most of us, that is not the case.  And I think I am beginning to understand why.

Look back at our key verse and you will see that the transformation we seek is an ongoing work, it is a process, one that won’t be fully completed until we are face to face with the One who began the work.  Look at verse 9 where Paul prays “that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” Do you see the progression and growth in his words?  Again Paul says, “…that you may become blameless and pure,” (Phil. 2:15, emphasis added), and in Colossians 1:10 – “growing in the knowledge of God.”   Paul also said that “we are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor. 3:18).  Being-an action word that denotes an ongoing process.

In our society that glorifies the instant, we struggle with those things that come at a slower pace.   God does not rush us through to spiritual maturity.  A tree that grows rapidly often has a weak root system that cannot anchor it during a storm.

In the time of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, God lead them into a land of promise and blessing, a land that was inhabited by strong, wicked people who were not keen on giving up their homes.  Exodus 23: 28-30 is the Lord’s promise to drive them out – but not in one fell swoop.  Listen to verse 30-“Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.”  You see God knew that they would be overwhelmed by the task of settling the land, so He promised to open it up to them “little by little” as they became a stronger nation and could successfully take possession of it.

God has a wonderful possession for you, His child.  He has a legacy of spiritual maturity that He is building in your life and witness, but He will not rush you.  He has a plan, and a timeline for accomplishing that plan.  He desires to build you into a believer with “deeper roots” -roots that will enable you to stand against the storms of life.  He wants to make your life a beautiful offering to His glory.

Do not get discouraged because you are not “there yet,” or because you struggle in your walk.  God sees your heart. He knows you desire to live a victorious Christian life; and the truth is, in His eyes “you are more than a conqueror through Him who loves you” (Rom. 8:37, adapted).

 Holy Father, help me, day by day, to “be transformed by the renewing of my mind” (Rom. 12:2) and to allow you to work in me to bring me to maturity; a strong tree with deep roots in You.  Amen