Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Who Really I Am - Part 2

In my last blog I concluded by saying that we cannot understand who we really are except by revelation. This revelation has to be from and by our Maker, our Creator, the One who made us. We didn't make ourselves (Psalms 100:3) but were made by a company, as the late Dr. Munroe used to say, called "Heavens Inc." Many people don't know about it because it's not listed in New York Stock Exchange, or London, or Shanghai. It doesn't trade in dollars or pounds or yuan or rubble but in prayer, faith, and revelation. It's total worth is way more than all the world's stock exchanges combined.
A while back we heard of some US companies that had to be bailed out because we were told they were too big to fail. Well, this company, Heavens Inc., is really too big it CANNOT FAIL. It's total worth is "according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:19).
This company that manufactured you and I has a manual called the Bible and in it it reveals who you really are, which is what we continue to look at.

1. You Were Individually 'Formed' by God. 

You were not mass-produced but individually formed by God. Many times we think that only Adam and Eve were actually 'formed' by God, and that the rest of us were just born by our parents as a result. That means if our parents tell us we were born by mistake or that we are actually a mistake, then we believe it. As you'll see shortly, that is not true. The manual says in Isaiah 44:24, "Thus says the Lord your Redeemer, and He who 'formed' you from the womb..." 

The difference between Adam and you is that God formed Adam outside the womb but formed you and I, and everyone else for that matter, 'inside" the womb. However, what matters is that, whether inside or outside the womb, you were formed by God.
Adam was so important to God that he was not formed as an afterthought but was actually formed after a Triune meeting in heaven. And just like there was a council in heaven among the Trinity to discuss the creation of Adam, so was there a council meeting in heaven to discuss your formation. In other words, God discussed with the other members of the Trinity and said, "Let us make John, or James, or Mulani , or you, etc, in our own image." This means that you are not an accident but very intentional. It also means that you didn't just start existing when your Pop and Mom came together but rather, your Papa and Mama came together, and actually had to, to bring forth what God had already purposed to happen. That's what the manual says in Psalms 139:16, "Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed . . ."

To put it in a different way, it means that before I was conceived, before I was formed, the complete blue-print of me was available in the mind of God. It was just waiting for the right time and the right people (parents) to be brought forth - and of course God says He is able to make sure it is done. We read in Isaiah 46:10, "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure, Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it." 

To illustrate how serious God is in fulfilling His purpose, take King Cyrus, for example. He's referred in the above passage as a "bird of prey," called by God to fulfill His purpose. He is a bird of prey because he was a Persian king who, though his people were the ones who had taken Israel into captivity, God was going to use him to issue a decree to not only send the people of God back to Israel but also give them resources to take with them to rebuild the broken down city of Jerusalem - once the time came for God's purpose to be fulfilled. And just like the ravens fed Elijah with meat although they themselves eat meat, King Cyrus was gracious to Israel although they were really his prey - he was a bird of prey to Israel. We read in Isaiah 45:4, "For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel my elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me." (See Isaiah 45:1ff for more details about King Cyrus' decree).

God will use whatever means He wishes to employ to fulfill His purpose.It's clear from the above scripture that God works in this order: Purposes, then speaks out, then does it. You and I are the counsel or purpose of God, spoken in His word and "formed" at the right time. Armed with this revelation, no one, including yourself, should tell you that you were a mistake. And even if they tell you, respectfully tell them they don't know what they are talking about!

2. You Were not Casually but Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.

 We read in Psalms 139:14, "I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and this my soul knows very well.

"Fearfully means with great reverence, heart-felt interest, and respect. God not only made me with reverence but also had, and still has, heart-felt interest in me. That's why God loves and thinks of me all the time.Yes, the Almighty God is always thinking of me. He says in Psalms 139:17-18, "How precious are your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them. If I were to count them, they would be more in number than the sand. . . " And we also read in Jeremiah 31:3, ". . . I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with loving-kindness." Max Lucado illustrated it so well when he said, “If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning... Face it, friend. He is crazy about you! ”

You are so important to God that He so loved you that He gave His only begotten Son, so that if you believe in Him you should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). I like the way C.S. Lewis put it, "He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.” That's why it hurts God when anyone dies in sin and perishes (Ezekiel 33:11, 18:23). Remember, hell was never created for man but for the devil and his rebellious angels (Matt. 25:14). We were made in His image, intended to dwell, fellowship, and have intimacy with Him forever.

In addition to being fearfully made, David also says that we are wonderfully made. Wonderfully means that you and I are unique, set apart, and marvelous. It means I am intentionally created different from any other person on earth for a purpose. This knowledge frees me from inferiority complex and the nagging fear of comparing myself with others. It means I shouldn't strive to be like others or better than them, I just need to be the best me. You see, no one will ever be the best me unless I do it. Moreover, unique doesn't mean I am better than you but that I am just different from any other person for the goal of fulfilling the purpose He has for me.Some people like who they are too much, in the sense of being proud, thinking they are better than others. That is not right. On the other hand, other people don't like the way they are. Some hate their shape, color, race, height, place of origin, and wish they were born different. That's not right either.

Our Racial Background is by Divine Design.

In Acts 17:26-27a, we read, "From one man He made all nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and He determined their boundaries . . .He did this that they might seek Him" 

From this passage we can infer three things about who we are:
1. God is the one who made ethnic groups, nations, and/or races.He is the one who has made one black; another, white; another Hispanic; and another, Chinese, etc. On a similar note, we read in 1 Cor. 4:7, "Who made you different from the other. . . " The answer to the rhetorical question is of course, God. 
2. God set their times of existence beforehand. Have you ever wondered why you are living now instead of 2000 years ago or 100 years ago or in the future? Remember Mordecai's words to Esther in Esther 4:14, ". . . Yet who knows why you have come into the kingdom for a time like this?She probably thought it was coincidental that she won the "Miss Persia" beauty contest and happened to be the queen, the first lady of the empire. Remember the book of Esther is the only book in the Bible that doesn't mention "God" and yet God and His providence are clearly manifest throughout the story. Mordecai was of course trying to tell her that she needed to know that it was God who made her exceptionally beautiful and who put her there in the palace, a position of power and influence, at a time like that for a purpose - His purpose of salvation. 
3. God determines their boundaries. Or to put it differently, God determines their limits - in power (rise and fall), influence, and even geographically locations and habitations. He is the one who makes one stronger than another, and for a purpose.The whole purpose, the Bible says, is so that men and women would seek Him. In other words, the purpose is redemptive or salvific. 
The totality of who I am (including my biological, physical, geographical, parental, social, psychological backgrounds) have been predetermined by God for the purpose of my redemption and that of others. This is obviously hard to understand because we are not God and our minds are not as infinite as His but we have to believe it, accept it, receive it, and start praising Him for the totality of who we are. We have to know it, not only in our heads, but as David says in Psalms 139:4, ". . . my soul knows that very well." And then praise Him!(Visit www.dfichurch.com or www.dffichurchfredrick.org)


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Who am I? Understanding Who I Really Am!

"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

Who really are you? If you ask most people that question, most of them will answer by telling you their name. They will say, "I am John Mbithi, or Charles Johnson, or Paul Mulani, etc." 
But do you know that your name is only what man calls you or says you are? You see, someone came up with your name and said you shall be called so and so. That person could be your mom, dad, or even you yourself. Remember when we say "men" or "women" it includes you. Someone came up with your name, gave it to you, and you believed it and own it.

Now I am not downplaying the power of people naming you. In fact names by people are very important and powerful. That power was given to the first man, Adam in Genesis 2:19b, ". . . and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name." Period. That was it! Both in heaven and on earth! Adam looked at the elephant and called it "elephant," and that became that! He looked at giraffe and called it "giraffe" and that became it's name. Even the first woman, Eve. The man looked at her and named her "Eve," and that became her name. Whatever name man gave any creature, that became its name and even heaven said "Amen" and registered it in eternal records. In other words, your name that man gave you is not only known here on earth but also in heaven and will be so even after this life.

Did you know, for instance, whenever an angel appeared to someone, they called them by their name? For example, "Annanias," or "Manaoh," or "Abram," etc. Why I am saying all these? To show you that I am not downplaying the power of man's names, and that there is actually power in what men have called you.

A very good example is found in John 1:42 regarding Peter. We read, "And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter.)"

We see that Jesus acknowledged Peter's existing name as "Simon bar Jonah." He said, "You are . . . but you will be . . ." You are Simon now. That's what People called you. That's what your mother and father called, and still call you. And as a result, that's what you call yourself, but you will be called Peter. This is future. You will be called "Cephas."

When did this future naming take place? It's found in Matthew 16:18, which reads, "And I tell you that you are Peterand on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."  Jesus was no longer saying, "You will be Cephas," but rather "You are," it's now, present tense. Peter was now Cephas.

What happened for the shift to take place in Peter's life? Revelation. Peter started operating in revelation of who God says he is, not what man (including himself) says he was. And that's what will happen to you as well when you start operating in revelation of who God says you are, and not man.

Let's look at the passage in whole and in context - Matthew 16:13-20:
" When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,“Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah."

The whole incident starts with Jesus asking his disciples what men said that He, the Son of man, was. They said that some folks thought that Jesus was John the Baptist; others, Elijah; others, Jeremiah; and others one of the prophets. That's what people said Jesus, the Son of Man was. And imagine this was after Jesus had done so many miracles and said so many words that proved he was not just an ordinary man! 

Notice how off the mark people (without revelation) were,and can be, regarding who Jesus Christ was, and is! We are here talking about God in the flesh, the Eternal God, and yet men are putting Him on the same level with Elijah, John the Baptist, and the prophets! We are here talking about the One who made Elijah and the prophets and send them out being put on the same level with His creation and His people. This is the One who said in John 8:58, "Very truly I tell you . . . before Abraham was born, I am!" 

As you can see, it is very clear that man cannot know who Jesus Christ is without revelation. Not even one of them was close to figuring out! That's why when Jesus turned and asked his disciples who he was and Peter responded by saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God," Jesus did not applaud and congratulate Peter but rather deflected all the praise to God by saying, "Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father in heaven (v.18)." 
And that was the time Jesus told Peter, "And you are Peter . . . " That is, when Peter begun understanding by revelation who Jesus Christ was.

Let me say again. Man will never figure out by their intellect, regardless of how many miracles they see, who Jesus Christ is, except by revelation. They will always remain "Simon," so to speak, and not "Peter." They will always be what man says they are, until they start operating in revelation - that's when they become "Cephas," a "Stone," or Peter.

Here is the point:You can never know who Jesus Christ is unless by revelation. You can never know who you are, unless by revelation, and you cannot know what other people are, really, unless by revelation. You'll call them "monkeys" or "useless" because you only know them by how men calls and views them. By revelation I mean understanding in your spirit through the Word. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 2:14, "The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit." In other words, they are not understood by the mind but by your spirit, and for your spirit to understand, it will have to quickened by the Spirit of God.
In the same passage in the preceding verses, Paul writes in verses 9 -10, " But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God."

Let's face it, if no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered the heart of men, how will man be able to speak what he has not seen or heard and what is not in his heart about you? The Bible teaches that from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh (Luke 6:45). If it is not in the heart, how will man speak it? You see, man (including you) will call you what he has seen with his eyes, heard with his ears, and what is in his heart. He cannot do anything else. That means, if all that you know about yourself is what man has told you, then most likely you are very much off the mark. You need to understand yourself by revelation. That's why verse 10 talks about revelation: "But God has revealed them to us through His spirit. . ."
What are the "them" referring to in verse 10? These are the "things" God has prepared for us. What are these things? 

I used to think that these are the things Jesus went to prepare for us when we go to heaven, like the heavenly mansions of our inheritance. But are they really? A closer look at the context shows that they are not futuristic but present. They are for now, here on earth because it says, "God has revealed them to us by the Spirit." That's present tense, not future tense. Another reason you can be sure it's not talking about future things is because it says in 1 John 3:2 that what we will be has not yet been revealed to us. We read: "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed to us . . ." However, our passage says that these things have been revealed to us by the Spirit, and that they are spiritually understood. 
The passage also calls them "deep things" of God. What are these deep things of God? They are deep things of God about you and me, about who I am in Christ, that if you understand them well, it will blow your mind, and change not only how you view or call yourself, but also totally change your performance. 

Yes, it will completely change you and how you view yourself. Someone rightly observed that most of us were created by our manufacturer (God) to perform at 180 miles per hour but we have been operating at 40 miles per hour because we believed what man told us we were capable of. For example, some of us believe what the results of exams tell them about themselves. We believe the result of exams that we take, don't we?. If we fail in the exams we believe we are failures. The question is, who set the exam, man or God?

Here in America people without papers are labeled as "Illegals." This is what man calls them. But is that what God calls them? Think about the many people that God used mightily who would be "illegals" in the eyes of man? Think of Daniel, Moses, Esther and Mordecai, Jacob, Abraham, etc. You see, it is very easy to end up believing what man through his systems tell us we are. If we don't have any other means of understanding, like revelation, we will have no choice than to accept man's witness of us. 
So, in light of revelation, who really are you?
David, who understood this very well put it this way in Psalms 139:14: "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
my soul knows that full well."
(We will pick up from there next time - Coming soon!)