by Pastor Tim Burt
Who are you? Do you remember back in your teenage years when you'd meet a new friend and begin the process of mutual discovery? I would want to get to know who this person was and likewise they would want to know who I was. When I think back to my answers of who I said I was, I’m sure there was some truth mixed with the dreams of who I hoped to become.
I can’t tell you who you are. I hope you are able to tell me. For me, in learning to honestly discover who I was, I had to learn to discover who God made me to be and then how God desired me to live. But, even before that, I had to know who God was and what our relationship was to be. That isn't what I'll focus on today but to keep it short and simple, let me just say that I learned that God loved me so intensely, that He sent Jesus to die for the punishment of my sins. And He loved me to much that He made a way for me to have a personal, intimate relationship with Him. Just park for a minute and reflect on that. It's mind-blowing that the God of this universe could love each and every one of us that much. With a true confidence of His love rooted in me, that made me want to love Him and live for Him! And this is where I could begin to build my foundation on who God created me to be.
When I learned that God's ultimate goal was to bless and protect me, then my trust was completely intact. Only then could I open my heart to learn who God made me to be and how He wanted me to live. I learned that His instructions through His word, the Bible, are the guidelines and boundaries that would promote God's blessing in my life—that would protect me from the temptations and destructive places the enemy of my soul would try to lure me into. It was then, that a life-transforming path of life began and then that my eyes were opened to who God wanted me to be. And from that point, I began to become who God wanted me to be. It was exciting because I knew it was His path, His will, and I could trust the Lord leading me to becoming the person I was to become.
Who does God say we are? Hosea 14:1-2 (NIV) says, "Return O Israel to the LORD your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to him: "Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips."
This verse starts off with Hosea the prophet speaking God’s words directly to His people. He addresses them, “O Israel.” This word "Israel," the name God gave Jacob, literally means “The power and strength to lead as God.” This is how God addressed them. This is what He named these people—“Israel” meaning You are the people who I established a covenant with, who I gave power and strength to lead as God would in the earth. Think about that! That is what God named these people! Why? Because they were to become His influencers—His leaders to represent Him and His ways in the earth. They were to be the people group God was raising up and the light to tell and show the world God’s ways and God’s power in the earth. Just like anyone might, they struggled to believe that God would want to use them like this. They felt so ordinary, how could this be possible? That will be the same question you struggle with!
Israel—the Jewish people, answered the Who did God create me to be? question from who they thought they were, rather than who God said He created and covenanted with them to be. They saw themselves as ordinary people who sinned and weren't capable of much more than becoming like the people they were surrounded by. They, like all of us at times, just wanted to fit in. That's what peer pressure sucks you into. People don't want to be different. People want to fit in. But when you are called to be God's people and you do have a purpose and life God wants you to live out, you aren't going to fit in with the world. The world doesn't know God's standards. The world does not know or understand God's ways or moral compass. The world has a narcissist—all about me attitude toward life. If fitting in is the track you want to run on, you'll never be who God wants you to be. You'll never live in the fullness of His blessing. You'll never be the light to those around you that God desires and created you to be. They didn't and so they ended up in a backslidden state entangled in sin, idolatry, and living far outside of God’s will for them—just like those in the world around them. And it was a curse and made them miserable! Instead of representing God with lives of power and influence, they became slaves to those around them and lived a life filled with sin and complacency. They became a joke to the world.
What did God say to them? “O Israel, return to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity (sin)…” God was crying out for them to come back to be who He created them to be. He then said, “Take words with you, And return to the LORD…” “Take words” means “Take my counsel.” He told them, “Return to Me.” He then told them how. He said, “Say to Him (Say to God,) Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously.” God is the one who at this point said, “Ask me to take away your sins and receive us graciously....” Grace is the undeserved forgiveness and blessing of God-given from His love and mercy as a free gift.
He then told them one more powerful thing to do. He told them to say, “For we will offer the sacrifice of our lips.” That meant they would begin to praise Him for everything He was, for everything He had done in the past for His people, and for all He yet promised to do. He wanted them to acknowledge that they were special and have a special calling upon their life. He wanted them to know He would help them do what they could not seem to do in their own strength—live strong for Him! He wanted to acknowledge and "say it" it to stir their hearts toward who they truly were created to be!
It is from this place that Who am I? becomes more clear. Psalms 95:7 (NIV) says, “For He is our God; and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts...” If Jesus has become your Lord, then like Israel, you are His people. You aren’t just another guy or gal on the block or in the workplace. You are someone who God established a covenant with through Jesus Christ. God gives you power and strength through His Holy Spirit, to grow, mature and over time, rise up as a leader and person of influence for Him in this earth. Is this hard to believe? Most things God reveals to us about who we are in Him are difficult to believe! But, as you believe in this truth, and as you walk the journey in living for him, you will see that it is the only way you could have truly discovered and experienced it! It's the only way to find out Who are you and what is my purpose?
Isaiah 43:1 (NLT) "But now, O Israel, the Lord who created you says: Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine."
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt