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Identity

January 3rd, 2012

“If you’re content to be yourself, your life will count for plenty.” Matthew 23:12 The Message

“Spiritual growth and development rests upon the holy potential God offers you.”

My thoughts today are about “identity.”

When you consider the issue of personal identity, there are three possible factors – the person you present yourself to be; that’s image – the person other people believe you to be; that’s reputation – and the person that God knows you to be; that’s identity. Identity is not about externals and posturing; identity is about your inner life, about character, spiritual integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness. See Psalm 15:1-5/24:3-6 NKJV. The latter is the most important because God’s opinion matters most and that’s where you truly discover who God means you to be and who you can fully become. What others believe about you is of lesser importance, except to your sense of well-being. It isn’t so bad when you are not sure of other people’s real identity but if unsure who you are, that’s a problem.

Know this; a healthy sense of identity is important. “If you’re content to be yourself, your life will count for plenty.” Matthew 23:12 The Message. A more familiar translation of Jesus’ words is: “Whoever exalts Himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Humble yourself and leave it to God and others to exalt you, if they choose.

Here’s the Bible’s advice: “Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you.” Romans 12:3 NLT. God has an accurate knowledge of exactly who you are now and a correct understanding of the unimagined potential you have. You usually have an estimate only; so be honest with yourself and others. People seem inclined to some measure of the extreme, either creating a false exaggeration of their own importance or self-imposing a devalued estimation of themselves – neither of which would be accurate.

James, the early church leader and brother of Jesus, described people who are, “like a man observing his natural face in a mirror, for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” James 1:23-24 NKJV. He described a person observing then forgetting the reflection they saw, because their reflection was without real regard for the amazing original God designed them to be. This verse always encourages me: “As many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12 NKJV.  Power to become! That’s what God offers. That’s what I need; that’s what I want.

Everything about your journey of spiritual growth and development rests upon the holy potential God offers. It is not so much about who you are presently. Who and where you are now is just a place from which God begins your exciting journey to His image and likeness. See Genesis 1:26-28 NKJV/Romans 8:28-29/Colossians 3:8-10 NKJV. Image suggests appearance, which is outward resemblance; likeness suggests attributes, which are inward realities. Being a copy of anyone else never works out very well. Don’t settle for being a cheap copy of anyone or anything rather than the original God made. It takes courage to be yourself. Be yourself, as God made you. God says you are “children of God, an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ.” Romans 8:16-17 NKJV. That’s why “your life will count for plenty.”

My prayer for you today is that you allow God alone to shape who you are becoming.

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Remarkably Original

September 21st, 2010

“Train up a child in keeping with his individual gift or bent.” Proverbs 22:6 Amplified Bible

My thoughts today are about being “remarkably original.”

Today the World Population Clock estimates the world’s population to be 6.87 billion people, and among all of that number, you are unique, a remarkable original. Now, that’s amazing! There are no two persons whose fingerprints are identical! During the worst of blizzards and in the deepest of snowdrifts, there are no two snowflakes alike. And children, even from the same family, though similar are never exactly the same. Each individual has a singular and identifiable DNA that differentiates and distinguishes him or her apart from all others.

You are definably unique – remarkably handmade and custom designed by God! Read Psalm 139:13-16 NIV. Temperaments vary. Abilities differ. Interests are unique. Personalities are distinctive. Aptitudes are individual. Assignments are diverse. God’s limitless creativity made you that way, altogether unique, remarkably original. Imagine a God who can do that!

By divine design, you are “one of a kind.” There is no one anywhere who is exactly what you are. God must have had a reason to do this way beyond “just because He could.” Here’s why all this matters. I think uniqueness means that God has something for you to be and do, which no one else can do as you will, for which you are especially purposed and divinely prepared; it is critical that you dedicate yourself to God’s calling and gifting because there is no one else who can fill your place in His world except you.

Parents, teachers, pastors, and friends – anyone in Godly authority – have a responsibility to study you carefully and handle you wisely, to help you discover how you are unique, and why God has made you so. Then you can learn to value and celebrate how God has made you, and use what God has given you for the good of others. You compliment your Creator by striving to become the best that you can be, for the glory of God. “You are not your own, therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20.

As it relates to a work of art, every copy made is worth substantially less than the original from which it was copied. God made you an original; some people are willing to be copies. Don’t devalue yourself by trying to be exactly like anyone else, nor how anyone else wants you to be. You are already have a Creator; you don’t need an amateur wanna-be messing it up. Doesn’t it seem ironic that people either try to be poor copies of others, or attempt to be different from everyone else, often in the most bizarre of ways?

Be yourself! Be yourself in the wonderful way that God made you, in His image and likeness. A couple of years ago, the Army recruited young men and women by challenging them, Be all that you can be.” That’s a worthy goal that will serve you for a lifetime.

My prayer for you today is: that you find joy in what God is working to do with your life.

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Be Yourself

November 24th, 2009

“Having then gifts . . let us use them.” Romans 12:6 NKJV

“Take inventory of your interests; consider your experiences; serve others in your giftedness.”

My thoughts today are, “be yourself.”

It is sad, and a real waste of time, energy, and God-given uniqueness, when anyone tries to be someone other than themselves. You gain nothing by being a second-best copy of anyone else. If it were possible that two people are just alike, one of them is obviously unnecessary. You are an original, an individual similar in some ways to others, yet wonderfully distinct in most. Do not depreciate or hide your distinctive traits and talents, but rather identify and celebrate them for the common good.

It is a good thing to take a personal inventory. During college, I worked after classes at a drug store. Once a year we took inventory, carefully accounting for everything that we had in stock. From that, the business learned three things: what we had that we needed, what we had that was no longer necessary, and what we thought we had but didn’t.

That strikes me as the same information you need in order to be successful, as well as comfortable about who you are and what you can do. Do you realize what you are good doing? Take inventory of your interests; consider your experiences; utilize your education and training; observe where you succeed and feel fulfilled; evaluate your skills; serve God and others generously with your abilities. Everybody is good at something; no one is best at everything. Find your place and be yourself – to the glory and service of God. “For everything comes from God; everything exists by His power and is intended for His glory. To Him be glory evermore. Amen” Romans 11:36 NLT.

Wanting to do what someone else does well and being unsuccessful and unsatisfied would seem to me to be counterproductive and a tragic waste of time and talent, when there are many wonderful things that you are capable of doing well and making a real difference while doing so. Know your giftedness and appreciate your own God-given magnificence by serving God and others with the best of what you have been given. Invest yourself in what you are best at doing.

“God has given (you) the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability . . take the responsibility seriously.” Romans 12:6/8 NLT. Talents, skills, and abilities are God’s gifts to be used for the glory of God and the benefit of others. Use them well and use them wisely.

My prayer for you today is to honor God with the abilities and opportunities given you.

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Be Yourself

August 26th, 2009

“I have finished my course.” 2 Timothy 4:7 KJV

Stay on course as God intended; that’s where your reward will be found, in life and eternity.”

My thoughts today are be yourself.”

Do you ever wish for a moment that you could be someone else, or at least be more like someone else? I think everybody probably thinks about that wistfully once in awhile. Who would you want to be more like? Someone with a certain talent you don’t possess, more popular, with athletic prowess that breaks the will of opponents, having more money, less worries, or clearer plans for the future?

What about yourself would you change if you could? When asked most people’s first answer would likely identify something of appearance, or cosmetic – all outward, superficial and ultimately inconsequential. Imagine if you applied yourself to simply be better in who you are and what you can do.

The models the culture incessantly imposes upon you suggest empty promises that you would be better off, happier, more satisfied, or the life of the party if you would be more like the images they project for products you must buy, cars you must drive, homes you must have, and celebrities you could be like. But like too much of what this world sells as “must have,” the promises are hollow. You will always be better off and more confident just being yourself.

Your life is not the product of happenstance. You are not less than you need to be. You are not less than someone else. Besides, who could be better at being you? Why be a second best copy of someone else when you are an original? You are a wonderful creation of God’s own hand and genius. You are a bundle of potential and possibility yet to be realized more fully. You are graced with gifts and abilities that are wonderfully your own, unlike any other’s.

God can only bless what He has created and intended. You are made in His image and likeness, and are to be a unique expression of His nature, unlike any other of His handiwork. Paul describes you in this way, “You are His workmanship” (Read Ephesians 2:10 NIV), a Greek word, poema, that is like our word, poem, a creative work of expressive thought. A secret to a happy life is fulfilling God’s “creative work of expressive thought” in all you do, and all you are.

When I have previously read today’s verse, I seemed to focus on the aspect of finishing the course, but today my thoughts are directed to my individual assignment to be diligent in my course – the singular plan and path that God has thoughtfully chosen just for my life, uniquely different from any other. “For I know the plans that I have for you . . plans for good . . to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT. I cannot walk someone’s else’s path nor best accomplish someone else’s assignment even if I would prefer, try as I might. I am prepared and qualified by God to be best at just being myself, and so are you. Stay on course as God intended; that’s where your reward will be found, in life and eternity.

My prayer for you today is: be a wondrous original that best reveals the Creator’s genius and design in making you who you are.

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