How did you know that?

Genesis 43:33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment.

how did you knowHave you ever been in a situation where someone seems to know a lot about you, but you know nothing about them? It’s kind of uncomfortable, really. There you are face to face with a stranger and they are talking to you about things in your life that you’ve never shared with them.  You just want to say: how did you know that? Do I know you?

In Genesis 43, Joseph’s brothers were in that same kind of situation. Not only was he asking them about his family, he invited them to dinner and perfectly seated them in their birth order.  I’ll tell you what, they were certainly trippin’ out. How did he know that!?  You see, to them, Joseph was a perfect stranger.  They had no idea who he was but he knew exactly who they were.  He had insight into their lives that messed with their heads.

I think God is like that. He knows us really well. He reveals things about us that we didn’t know about ourselves. Sometimes we are completely in the dark about it. We are living our life for ourselves and He intersects it with revelation. He reveals our identity, our faults, and our destiny. He speaks purpose, and hope, and calling into our hearts that crave it. And we didn’t even know we craved it at times.  He knows. Yes, He knows.

I love to live for a God who knows things I don’t know. He knows me better than I know myself.  Like Joseph’s brothers, it blows my mind some days. But I wouldn’t change a thing.

*The God who knows is the God who formed you. He knows your name and He knows your future.

From cheater to champion

Genesis 32:27-28 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

dv1644052As we have learned over the past several weeks, Jacob was kind of a scoundrel. He lied, stole, and cheated… yet he got really mad when someone cheated him.  Through it all, however, Jacob started growing up.  He turned to the Lord and asked for favor.  He worked hard and tried to honor God.  Today, Jacob finds himself on a journey to meet up with his older brother who he had not seen since he stole his birthright.  He is kind of hanging around at the back of the pack when he finds himself alone.

Then it happens.  A mysterious man (God) shows up and wrestles with him.  Jacob is tenacious and wrestles all night long with this guy.  Somehow he realizes that this is no ordinary man, but one sent from heaven.  So he is determined to not let go without receiving a blessing.  Can you just see Jacob holding on for his life?  “I won’t let go of you, God! I am about to meet my angry brother. I need your favor and your blessing.”

What takes place next changes Jacob’s life forever.  This “man” asks him what his name is.  He responds with “Jacob.”  And at that moment, God changes his name to Israel.  That may not seem all that significant, but if you take the meaning of these names into account, it really is.

What’s your name?

Heel grabber.  Cheat, Liar, Thief.

That’s not who you are any more.  Your new name is God Prevails. 

God truly did prevail with this heel grabber.  He pursued him and loved him.  In Malachi 1:3, God says “Jacob have I loved.”  Did you catch that? Jacob have I loved.  Not Israel. Jacob.  He loved that heel grabber.  He loved that man who wrestled with men and overcame.  He loved that man who held on to his God all night in desperation.  And he loved him enough to change his future.  That future started with his identity.  He said, “You are no longer a heel grabber, son.  You are a man in whom I will prevail!”   Jacob the cheater became Israel the champion.

*What’s God saying about you?  Are you identifying yourself with the person you used to be? Cling onto Him and begin to discover what God says about you! 

 

 

Unfinished

Genesis 17:5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.

unfinishedYou don’t call a boy a man.  You don’t call a caterpillar a butterfly.  You don’t call a construction site a house.  These are things in their unfinished state; they are growing, transforming, being built.  They are in essence – in process.  Abram was in process, too.  Here’s a guy in his nineties being promised that he will have many descendants through his wife Sarai.  She was in her nineties, too, and hadn’t given birth to a single child.

Yet, God renamed him Abraham before anything happened.  He called him a father of many nations when he wasn’t even a father of one nation.   God essentially called a caterpillar a butterfly and a construction site a house.  He called a childless couple a father and mother to nations.  It’s like He knew something they didn’t.  It’s almost as though He had some idea of what was going to come.  Oh, yes, that’s right… He’s God; He does that.

You see, God sees things how they could be, not how they are.  He sees things the way He designed them, not how they are currently functioning.  With Abraham and Sarah, His destiny for them was to be the Father and Mother of nations.  Just because they hadn’t seen it yet, didn’t mean that it wasn’t their destiny.  I love that in this verse, God calls him a father ahead of time.  It reminds me that I need to start speaking out the prophetic identity that God has placed in my life.  You need to start speaking yours out too.

*What is God saying to you that you have a hard time believing?  In what places do you need to start declaring out who He has called you to be?

Making a name

Zechariah 10:12 I will strengthen them in the Lord and in his name they will walk.

make-a-nameYou’ve heard the expression, “make a name for yourself.”  It generally means to be well known or respected and is accompanied by accomplishment.  For example, “Carrie Underwood has really made a name for herself since American Idol.”  Making a name for yourself often involves fame, wealth, and privileges.  That is, unless, you make a negative name for yourself.  People who do stupid things make names for themselves everyday.  But that’s probably not what they want to be known for.  No, we all want to make a name for ourselves in a positive light.  We want to be known and respected.  We want to be successful.

So what does it mean in Zechariah 10, when it says “in HIS name they will walk?”  It means that rather than walking in our own accomplishments, we will walk in His.  Rather than walking to achieve our own fame, we will strive to bring fame to His name.  To do that, we have to know where our identity lies.  We have to know who we belong to; we have to know our real name.

You see, walking in His name means that we walk as His son or daughter. It means knowing who we are and living to represent Him well.  When we go to work, we represent Him.  When we parent, we represent Him.  When we work through conflict, we represent Him.  We should be striving to represent Him well.  It should be in His name that we walk.  We should be making a name for Him!  So make a name, today.  But not for yourself.  Make a name for your Lord, that others would hear of His fame and want to know Him too.

*Who are you making a name for? 

Tigger, not Eeyore

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 

Let’s first notice that this verse does not say, “But you are worthless, messed up, sin-stained people.  How in the world could Christ possibly love you?  It’s unbelievable that you would even think you could do something significant for the glory of God.”  Why would I say that?  Because it seems as though God’s people have a case of stolen identity.  So often, we come to God in our state of brokenness feeling pretty lousy about ourselves.  Now inherently there is nothing wrong with that, for compared to Him we are kind of lousy by nature.  But there’s this subtle trap of the enemy to keep us feeling lousy.  So we live like unchosen, common, unholy, orphans.  That’s not who we are.

We are chosen, royal, holy, and adopted!  We have got to embrace that identity and start acting like it.  Many Christians walk around like Eeyore when they should be bouncing off the walls like Tigger.  Where’s the joy, adopted one?  Where’s the security, you who are chosen?  God has called us out of darkness and into His glorious light, yet we continue to run for the shadows.  We forget who we are and let the lie define us.  We get caught in the trap of who we used to be and it keeps us from living for Him.

It’s time to embrace the truth, friends.  It’s time to start living like the royalty we are in Christ.  Yes, now is the time to start singing His praises and proclaiming His greatness.  Today is the day to stand up proud and tall and declare who you are.  You are chosen to be royalty. In Him, you are made Holy.  And best of all… you are His.  So when you hear the deceiver whispering in your ear, simply say: “you’re messing with the wrong person, I belong to Jesus.”

Are you that insecure?

2 Samuel 17:23 When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb.

Wow, that dude is insecure.  It was just one decision, Ahithophel.  Just one.  Here’s the scenario: Absalom had just taken over Israel… forcefully from his father.  Even though David was the anointed king over Israel, Absalom decided he should be the one to sit on the throne.  So he called his officials together and asked, “what should I do now?”

Ahithophel came up with a simply battle strategy to hunt down David and kill him.  But Hushai came up with one the king liked better.  And off they went to battle, all except Ahithophel.  He went home and hung himself.  What drives a man to be that insecure?  I mean, this guy was really insecure.  His job wasn’t to run the kingdom, it was just to give input.  So when your input isn’t accepted, get over it.  That’s the nature of the job.  You don’t have to go hang yourself just because you had one bad day.

We can get this attitude in our heart as well.  We have one bad day and decide we should throw in the towel.  One person tells us they don’t like what we did or said and we feel like our life is falling apart.  Are we really that insecure?  Security doesn’t come from others.  It doesn’t come from what they think about us or our ideas or our personality.  It comes from above.  Our identity is rooted in who Christ says that we are.  If we dig our roots down deep into Him, we will find that feedback, criticism, and rejection from others won’t really seem like that big of a deal after all.

It’s okay to be you

I Samuel 8:19-20 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” 

“If everyone else was jumping off a bridge, would you jump too?”  It’s got to be the most annoying question a parent asks a child and yet we will probably all (if we haven’t already) ask our kids the same question. It is the universal “will you follow the crowd” question.  I don’t know that I actually ever answered that question when my parents asked me it, but knowing me I probably had some sarcastic answer brewing somewhere beneath my breath.  (Sorry mom and dad – they do read my blog)  Anyhow I think the question could potentially be less rhetorical than intended with the right comeback.  My thoughts are: “if I had a bungee rope on, if it wasn’t too high and there was a lake below, maybe if I was having a bad day, and it depends on the bridge and the people jumping with me.”  All of those answers probably would have got me sent to my room so I graciously said them under my breath instead, er, I mean… said “no I wouldn’t.”

Samuel tries to ask the Israelite people the same question when they tell him they want a king.  You see, first the blame seems to be placed on the failure of Samuel’s sons.  Because they were total losers, the people wanted to have someone who they could follow.  I think that was just an excuse.  Later on, the real reason comes out – they wanted to be like everyone else.  It’s something that we all seem to want at our core.  And yet it doesn’t really get us anywhere.  Being like everyone else is selling out.  It is settling for less than who God made you uniquely to be.  But Israel wanted a king… just like everyone else.  They wanted to be normal, I guess.

God tried to warn them too.  He told them that trying to be like everyone else would just cause them a bunch of trouble.  They would find themselves slaves to a king.  They would find themselves having to hand over what they worked so hard for.  They would lose their families and their freedom.   We have similar troubles – we become slaves to fashion and stereotypes, we hand over what we worked hard for to be cool, we give up our freedom and eventually lose our families.  And its all because we desperately want to fit in with what is normal and mainstream.

I’ve got news for you: God isn’t mainstream.  He doesn’t do things like the world does.  And He certainly doesn’t want you trying to mimic their cheap knockoff second rate ways either.  He is the original creator!  He is the one who came up with all the ideas.  All them other slim shadys are just imitating.  This world and its ways can’t hold a candle to God’s.  He knows what He is up to and He knows what is best.  He knows His plan for your life better than you know life itself.  Best of all, He knows you.  He knows how He made you and who you are destined to be.  So rather than trying to fit in and be like everyone else, try being you for a change.  I think you’ll find it fits you quite nicely.