Foundations Series: INHERITANCE & IDENTITY, part 2

IdentityHello, SUMites! Yesterday my hubby and I walked through our house to see the changes in just the last week or so. The drywall is up and the rooms are more defined now. As we passed through an unfinished doorway, my husband pointed a written Scripture still exposed there. He asked me, “Is this one of yours?”

I answered, “Yep.” And I laughed with delight inside, my friends. This was a victory for me, as I felt no concern about his reaction. I simply rejoiced in knowing what’s coming and seeing the evidence of it all around him, even though he isn’t seeing it…yet. Just like this house, seeing only the present stage, yet knowing so much more is coming and yet to be seen. The floor tiles, the walls painted, cabinets, kitchen, etc. So much more is coming…salvation. My heart dances with expectation of the coming promises.

As I thought about our Scriptures being a part of the structure of the house now, the structure that holds up the roof and defines the parts of the house, I began to see how we are like this house. As we read and learn about God’s Word and truths, they become a part of us. They transform our minds and make us stronger in our foundation and our structure. And not only that, they define us and our many parts. Like the walls define the rooms, these truths define who we are in Christ, what our spiritual gifts and purposes are and how were are to live as believers.

This is our identity. Everything God created us to be with unlimited potential. And the only things that limit us are ourselves and the enemy if we let him. I find this happens when we aren’t walking in the truth of who we are, and thus why our continual intentionality to know God and grow in intimacy with Him are so important. As we spend time with God learning about Him we are in actuality learning who we are. 

My friends, as I sought God for greater understanding about inheritance and identity, the Holy Spirit helped me understand they are very deeply interconnected. If we look at inheritance in the New Testament, we see two parts.

  1. We are Christ’s inheritance, His holy people.
    I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. — Ephesians 1:18
  2. We have inheritance in Christ as co-heirs with Jesus. And this is where our identity sits and is defined.
    So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. — Romans 8:15-17

This piece of Scripture alone tells us:

  1. We are no longer slaves to fear and have received the Holy Spirit.
  2. We belong to God and are His children.
  3. We have a heavenly Father who not only saved us but connected us directly to His Spirit. This is what happens when we accept Jesus. Our spirit is called out from the “dead” (Eph 5:14) and is united with the Holy Spirit in us. Thus why He is in us and we are in Him.
  4. As His children, we are co-heirs with Christ (not after, but with) and as His heirs, we also receive God’s glory! However, as we are reassured of receiving God’s promises as His heirs, we must also accept that persecution is going to be part of this journey and is another sign that we are God’s children. SUMites, we already understand this, which makes us unique in our experiences. I firmly believe God uses this understanding to equip us with a compassion and a heart to reach the lost in this world. 

So, who are you in Christ Jesus? That’s an excellent question and one I highly encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit. And I’m beginning to see and experience that the Holy Spirit loves questions as much as prayers, because our questions are the start of the answer to the prayer. 

Ask questions like these:

  • Lord, who am I in You? Show me how you see me so I may walk in peace and clarity of these truths.
  • What have You designed me to be and do? 
  • How have you gifted me uniquely to operate according to those truths?

My friends, identity is something we choose to believe and live as truth. Our culture has so imbedded a striving mentality in everything we do that we even apply this to our faith. As I shared in my video last week and my post on Tuesday, we can stop striving to be Christians and simply live in the truth of who we are—God’s kids!

I think we could spend weeks, even months on this topic, and that’s because it is so relevant and important that we stay aware of how we are operating in our lives. Are we operating out of a place to prove who we are, or are we living in the truth of who we already are according to Jesus? 

The amazing thing is, when we live from that place of truth, people are drawn to us, SUMites. It’s attractive, because we live in a peace and freedom the world is desperate for. So, as you live in and out of the truth of who are you are, you’r letting your light shine brightest! 

Isn’t that amazing? That’s freedom, my friends, and peaceful living. It’s so simple it’s almost ridiculous. But notice I didn’t say easy. Just ask God who you are and then live it out everyday as best you can. And when you don’t, God’s right there to help you get back into the center of that truth—Him. 

I will see you tomorrow (or rather you’ll see me—ha ha!) in my last prayer video for July. 

Love you dearly, SUMites!
Dineen

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Guest Post: Follow Me by Dee Rusnak

Steps“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:26

I totally get where the Israelites were coming from in yearning to be like those around them, even to the point of desiring a king (1 Samuel 8:5). They were a very small nation, the "runt" of sorts among everyone else in the entire world. To them the outside world was the norm.

Yet, God set them apart to belong to Him in His very own way, making them unique, one of a kind, chosen to follow Him like no other. Runts were the smallest or weakest ones compared to the others in the litter. They didn't live long, expensive to care for, and pretty much worthless. That's why most farmers euthanized the runts - more out of an act of kindness to the struggling animal.

In the book Charlotte's Web, the farmer's daughter begs her father not to kill the runt of the litter of piglets, Wilber. Not only was Wilber on the chopping block, but was snubbed by other barnyard animals because of his size. He is befriended by a spider named Charlotte, who weaves words of praise for Wilber so others can see him differently and not be slaughtered. He became renown because of her words and his life was spared.

In Judges 6 we read about Gideon, who thought of himself as the "runt" of the tribe of Manasseh. The Angel of the Lord called him a mighty warrior and sent him to save Israel out of the enemy's hand. "But Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." The Lord encouraged him, "I will be with you." Gideon had to believe what God said about him instead of thinking of his own limitations, and he followed.

I struggled with the path God had chosen for me with this mismatched marriage thing. None of my Christian friends have spouses who are unbelievers. Just me, and I often felt small, the runt among those in my church. My mindset was that if only my husband were saved, then I can be like everyone else. What I failed to see is what God has purposed for me in spite of the condition of my husband's soul.

Jesus called us at the time of salvation with His powerful words “Follow Me!” and we got up and followed. As with the small nation of Israel, as with Gideon, as with Matthew the hated tax collector, as with the ordinary fishermen, as with the adulterous woman, as with the leper, and everyone else who definitely did not appear to be the logical choice to follow, Jesus wants us to continue following Him in this very unique ministry saying “I will be with you.”

Winning our spouses without words in our own homes does not sound logical. Almost lame. Bordering on lazy. It’s not common, and few understand it. You can almost see the proverbial question marks hovering over the heads of those confused by it. When thinking of missions, imaginations carry the mind to a far away place from their own front door, while ours takes us directly behind it.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

As my retirement approached, I had it all figured out. I would dive into every bible study and outreach available, not only to learn, but to get me out of the house and away from my husband. The Lord had other plans and said to me, “Come with Me by yourself to a desolate place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31) He showed me this barren place filled with those whose hearts were very dry and thirsty. Those with unsaved spouses who felt all alone, almost ashamed, runts of sorts, because they weren’t like everyone else in the church. That was me. I immediately dropped my agenda and followed Him to the SUM nation where everything changed.

EVERYTHING!

I found myself in this refreshing oasis of constant living waters that soothed and quenched this parched heart. I found truth, hope and encouragement at every turn that salvation for my lost husband was not an IF but a WHEN! My mission became crystal clear as the Lord took my hand and pointed to the one who sleeps beside me every night whispering go there!

God sees no one as “normal” or as a“runt.” We are His precious children, His very own whom He cherishes and treasures, His workmanship set apart for His extraordinary plan (Ephesians 2:10). He established an online ministry and set two remarkable women at the helm. Dineen and Lynn have spent the last 10 years gathering all of us who are in this same EXCEPTIONAL situation – a spiritually unequal marriage – while nurturing us with the Word of God to dispel the lies, giving us hope in our desolate valley, camaraderie in our loneliness, determination in an unfamiliar ministry, understanding in our confusion, and great love in our thirsty hearts.

Here we can be ourselves, sharing, confessing, praying, blessing, and encouraging each other. I’m convinced that the Lord plans to bring more and more SUMites out of the woodwork and into the church pews where God is preparing us to minister for that very scenario. We were chosen for such a time as this. And, on that day when we step aside and watch all the lost souls come valiantly to Christ, we will all triumphantly praise God for initiating, establishing, and setting in motion this vital ministry of winning them without words!

“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus.” Romans 15:5

 

Dee and JerryDee Rusnak and her husband of 44 years, Jerry, both retired, live in Westerville, Ohio. They have three grown sons and three adorable grandchildren, with one more on the way due Christmas Day!

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THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. 

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Foundations Series: INHERITANCE & IDENTITY

HeartDear friends, in this foundations series we’ve talked about the foundational truths of salvation, love, hope, faith and specifically God’s love. That one seems to be the one I keep coming face to face with. I’ve grappled with the full truth of God’s complete love for us and now God is connecting me to others that need the same truth. As desperate as I was for this truth to come to full bloom in my heart, spirit, soul and mind (something that is still happening even now), I am even more desperate for others to know it and find myself hating the enemy for stealing this truth from us. And I am not one to use the word “hate” lightly. 

SUMites, I honestly didn’t plan to write more on this subject, but it is a very near and dear subject to my heart. Most likely because this was a huge struggle for me, one that nearly made me want to give up on trying to be a Christian. And that is exactly what I’ve had to do—let go of trying to be a Christian and simply live in the truth of who I am in Christ and the truth that God really and truly loves me. It’s a very freeing place to be!

God loves us because that is who He is and He chose us. And all that God has for us comes from His love for us, including Jesus. When we struggle in that truth and continue to believe the lies the enemy throws at us that say, “God is angry with me, I can’t please God no matter what I do, or there is no way God can work through me,” we aren’t living in the truth of God’s love for us. And His love is a foundational truth of our inheritance and our identity, which are intertwined and inseparable—another mystery of God.

So, let’s talk about what these words mean, because I know my journey to understanding required a choice and a question.

  1. I chose to believe the truth of God’s Word that told me He loves me and that nothing can separate His love from me (Romans 8) and to go after the lies and the feelings that told me otherwise. As I did this, intentionally capturing every thought and bringing it before Jesus (2 Cor. 10:5), my thinking changed and the truth that was in my heart finally came to sit on the throne of my intellect. Along with Jesus!
  2. I asked what did this mean for me in terms of identity and inheritance. These are words we see used a lot, but I’m not sure we fully understand their meanings. So that is where I am now with the goal to bring deeper understanding and wisdom of what this truly means for us.

In the Old Testament, the Lord called Israel His inheritance and in Ezekiel 44 God declares that He is the inheritance and possession of the Levitical priests.

whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.” — Isaiah 19:25 (ESV)

“This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance: and you shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession.” — Ezekiel 44:28 (ESV) 

When God spoke to Jeremiah of His plan to restore Israel, He said of their enemies that they “have filled My inheritance with their abominations.” 

Now this I find so fascinating—when we look at inheritance in the New Testament, we see that the saints (that’s us—all believers) are Jesus’ inheritance. The Israelites were symbolic of what was to come—the fulfillment of God’s plan for a people set apart and made holy through the final blood sacrifice of the Messiah, Jesus. And as the Levitical priests were set apart, so too are we set apart as the inheritance of Jesus through salvation.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. — 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. — Ephesians 1:18 (NLT)

Again, I’m fascinated with the symbolic and prophetic connections between the Old and New Testaments. God intended to build a strong example of legacy and inheritance, because what He had in store for us was the ultimate inheritance in Jesus—our identity as children of God. The Israelites learned about inheritance through the possession of the promised land. We learn about inheritance through our “possession" of the Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God. Both are given as rights of ownership (co-heirs with Christ) through the love and bequeathal of God.

Okay, my friends, I will stop here for now and let you digest this a bit. On Thursday I will continue this search for understanding of inheritance and identity and how they are so very much inseparable. Until then, be sure to come back tomorrow for a beautiful guest post from a fellow SUMite. 

And please share your thoughts in the comments. What has Jesus shown you about His love and your inheritance and identity in Him? I can’t wait to read your comments. 

Love you!
Dineen

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THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. 

Both books


Foundations Series: GOD'S LOVE

God's love is complete. Jesus made sure of that at the cross. So if God did that in order to love us that way, why would He be angry with us or withhold His goodness from us? Something to think about. The truth always turns the lie upside down.
Love you, my friends!
Dineen

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. 

Both books