Tag Archives: identity

Isaiah 63:1-9

Scripture: verse 8

He said, “They are indeed my people,
children who are not disloyal.”
So he became their Savior.

Observation: I don’t know where God got the idea that Israel wouldn’t be disloyal.  Israel ignored Him and rebelled against Him over and over again.  But the passage isn’t about Israel’s loyalty.  The passage is about the abundance of God’s steadfast love, which is apparently undeterred by all the idiocy that Israel has already gotten up to.

God is our Savior.  He sets us free and defends us.  He gives us a new identity and a new safety, and keeps re-giving them as often as we mess up.  He loves us, just like I will always love my children, no matter how many times they cut their own hair or spread yogurt all over the table or leave plastic bricks on the floor to be stepped on.  They are mine.  I am His.

Application: Trust in His love.  Lord knows we can’t trust ourselves.

Prayer:  Yeshua, I praise you because you became my Savior when I wasn’t interested.  I praise you because your love is bigger than ever mistake and every wrong decision I make.  Thank you for defending me.  Help me to trust you.  Amen.

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Isaiah 62

Scripture: from verse 2

you shall be called by a new name
    that the mouth of the Lord will give.

Observation: It’s not like the names God’s people already had were especially bad.  The verse before uses “Zion” and “Jerusalem” which mean “landmark” and something like “peaceful hills,” respectively.  The name “Israel” isn’t especially clear, but when it was given in Genesis it was accompanied by the description “you have struggled with God and man (or possibly gods and powers, the Hebrew is complicated) and have prevailed” so that name is probably a good one too.

But God has a new name planned for His people, one which He will give when the time is right.  A new name and a new identity and a new understanding of who they are.

He has a new name for me, too.  The names my parents gave me are also pretty good – my English first and middle names mean “judged pure by God,” and my Hebrew names mean “bride” and “little bird.”  My current identity and my current sense of myself are pretty good.  But God has a better name waiting.  He wants to teach me a whole new way of seeing myself, one that I only get hints of now.  His truth about me is way bigger than mine.

Application:  Seek His truth about yourself.

Prayer: Father, I praise you because you made me who I am.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and I will take it on faith that your work is marvelous.  Thank you for having new knowledge for me.  Help me to trust that you understand me better than I do.  Amen.

Isaiah 54:4-8

Scripture: from verse 4

…you will forget the shame of your youth…

Observation:  More of God’s blessings for His redeemed people.  He promises to wipe out the things that we look back on with shame.

I have plenty of things from my youth to be ashamed about.  Some of my journal entries are mortifying, though of course that’s a small thing.  Some of my actions were not so small, and much more shameful.  Some of those things were sinful.  Some were just thoughtless.  Some were rooted in the anxiety I didn’t realize I was experiencing, which means they probably shouldn’t really be a source of shame, but there it is.

And it will all be gone.  God is wiping the shame away, as if it never happened.  Poorly-chosen words and thoughtless actions and all the times I forgot to shower (which was more often than it should have been, during my teen years) and choices made out of anger or jealousy or pride….all gone.

I can’t imagine it, to be honest, but that is still God’s promise.

Application:  In the immortal (and seemingly endless) words of the song, let it go.  Don’t keep hanging on to shame that God has already erased.

Prayer:  Yeshua, I praise you because you are Truth.  Thank you for changing who I am.  Help me to walk in the freedom you have given me.  Amen.

Isaiah 44:1-11

Scripture: from verse 5

…another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord‘s’…

Observation: The passage is about the future redeemed Israel, and how the people will identify themselves as belonging to the Lord.  It’s interesting that I got this verse today, because today I also prayed for a friend who is going through a difficult time and is questioning her self-worth.  And the word I got for her was very similar: that she would go into her meeting with God’s name on her brow and his brand on her heart.

Our first identity is that we belong to the Lord.  That means that He is the only one who can judge our worth: neither my friend’s supervisors nor my own self-doubts have any say over who we are and how we are doing.  They make their opinions known, of course, but their words are just words.  God’s words are eternal.

It also means that we take His glory when we take His name.  The hymn says that “God the Just is satisfied/to look on Him and pardon me.”  Accusation and criticism could attack me easily enough, but as long I am wrapped in Him, they can’t get to me.  They bounce off Him, because I bear His name.

There’s no guilt here, no condemnation.  He matters so much more than I do.

Application: Take His name.  Rely on it.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for finding me and giving me your name.  I praise you because all power and all consolation and all glory flows from you and in you.  Please help me to hide in you when I am not enough in myself.  Amen.

Leviticus 16:1-17

Scripture: verses 1 and 2:

After the death of Aharon’s two sons, when they tried to sacrifice before Adonai and died;  Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell your brother Aharon not to come at just any time into the Holy Place beyond the curtain, in front of the ark-cover which is on the ark, so that he will not die; because I appear in the cloud over the ark-cover…”

Observation:  People are screwed up.  We really are.  Despite the extensive instruction, and despite the thunder and fire and other manifestations of God being God, the new priests figured they knew what they were doing.  So they did things their way, and they died for it.  God isn’t like other gods.  He is Himself, and we shouldn’t assume that we can figure Him our or expect Him to make sense to us.

After those deaths, God created a new set of rules to remind the priests that they didn’t have things figured out either.  God is a different God.  They weren’t allowed to wander in and out of His presence.  They had to follow the rules too.

And what of us?  We are allowed to enter into God’s presence whenever we want to.  We are told to “boldly approach the throne of grace” in Hebrews 4.  Does this mean we have things figured out, that we don’t need to be reminded that God is holy?  Not likely.

We aren’t welcome because we have followed the Law correctly.  We aren’t welcome because we’ve gotten it right.  We’re welcome because we’re family.  Our actions haven’t changed, but our identity has.

That’s why Yeshua died.  The rules didn’t work to make us good.  We can’t serve God the way He wants to be served.  So we’re not asked to.  We couldn’t make it as servants, so we’re invited in as family.

Application:  Boldly approach the throne of grace.  Treat God like family.  Tell Him things, and expect Him to tell you things.

Prayer:  Hi God.  Thank you for welcoming me into your family.  Thank you for listening to whatever I have to say.  This has been a good day so far.  Thank you for making things go well, and help me deal with the things that don’t.  Amen.

Leviticus 8:18-36

Scripture: verse 33 and 34

You are not to go out from the entrance to the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your consecration are over; since Adonai will be consecrating you for seven days. He ordered done what has been done today, in order to make atonement for you.

Observation:  This is part of the instructions Moses gave Aaron and his sons after the sacrifices were made to consecrate them as priests.  They had been washed and dressed and anointed and sprinkled in the blood of the sacrifice, but they weren’t done – they had to spend a week in God’s presence, letting Him do His work.

What strikes me here is that Aaron and his sons weren’t especially holy or qualified to be priests.  They needed atonement like everyone else.  They needed to let God purify them, like everyone else.  God doesn’t choose us because we are special or perfect or better.  He chooses us because He loves us – and that is a fact about Him, not a fact about us.

God’s grace is not a fact about me.  It didn’t start with me, I didn’t make it happen, and I can’t make it stop.  His grace is about Him.  I’m just in the right place at the right time.  And He was the one who put me here.

God put you where you are, too.  He placed you there to receive His grace.  It has nothing to do with what you have or haven’t done.  It has everything to do with the fact that He made you and He loves you.

We are safe and loved because of Him.  There is no deserving or earning.  There is only His love and our decision to accept it or ignore it.

Application:  Accept His love and His grace.  Let Him work on you.  Don’t worry about whether you are good enough; none of us are.  He is Good enough for all of us.

Prayer:  God, thank you for being my goodness.  Thank you for placing me where I am to receive your grace.  Thank you for taking all the steps I am unable to take for myself.  Amen.

Leviticus 1:1-9

Scripture: verse 4

He is to lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.

Observation: This passage describes the process for bringing a burnt offering (a sheep or a bull) for sin.  What struck me here is how personal this is.  The man can’t send the sheep with a messenger.  He can’t have his secretary do it, or contribute to a fund.  He has to bring it himself.

“The fault is mine and so must the remedy be,” as Mr. Darcy put it. This is a public confession of that he is a sinner.  Not that sin exists in general terms, or that society is rotten, or that mistakes have been made but no one is really to blame.  He has to put his hand on the sheep and admit that he, himself, is a sinner.

And in doing so, the blame is erased and he is forgiven.  Because he came himself.

Application: Admit your own sins.  Not just that bad things happen or mistakes get made, but that you, personally, have done wrong things.  In our case, the sacrifice has already been made.  But we need to acknowledge that it was made for us.

Prayer: Father, I am a sinner.  I have done plenty of wrong things.  Thank you for providing the sacrifice to wipe my guilt away.  Amen.

Ephesians 6:21-24

Scripture: verse 24

Grace be to all who love our Lord Yeshua the Messiah with undying love.

Observation: This is Paul’s final salutation, as he prays for God to bless us.  What caught my eye was the phrase “undying love.”

We talk a lot about how Gods love for us is perfect and endless and infinite.  We can’t offer God perfect love, but we can offer undying love.  We can choose to be faithful.

Elsewhere in the Bible it talks about people whose love has grown cold, through indifference to God and selfishness or fear of man or both.  And obviously we are fallen humans and our love for God will not be perfect all the time.  But we can choose to make God our priority, and to keep our love for Him alive.

At the ladies’ meeting yesterday, we talked a lot about shame.  But shame only makes sense when we forget the facts of the matter.  The fact that other people don’t like God says far more about them than it says about God.

The fact is, God is amazing.  Powerful and wise and loving and perfect.  Our love dies when we forget that.

Application: Remember who God is.  Turn to Him for comfort when things are difficult, instead of rejecting Him in anger.  Ask Him to show the truth of the situation.  Because He will.

Prayer:  God, I thank you that your truth is beautiful.  I thank you that you are making all things perfect in their time.  Please help me to see your beauty, even when I’m tired or distressed.  Amen.

Ephesians 3:11-15

Scripture: from verse 14 and 15

I fall on my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth receives its character.

Observation:  That word translated “character” is another tricky one.  It’s derived from the Greek for “name.”  At the time this was written, people believed that names had power.  Your name was the sum of yourself – your thoughts, authority, personality, everything – and to know someone’s name gave you understanding of them and control over them.  There are several times when demons, meeting Yeshua, screamed that they knew His name, probably in an attempt to assert power over Him.  And this idea is still powerful today – it’s a common part of magic in fantasy, and even without a magical component we attach a great deal of meaning and and thought to our names.

And here we learn that every family in heaven and on earth receives their Name – their identity, their character, their role and authority – from God.  From the context I’m sure that this was meant to be about Jews and Gentiles, but it’s also about my family, and my husband’s family, and the family that we’re building together.  It’s about your family.  It’s about the Jews and the Irish and the Chinese and the Arabs and the people across the street.  All of them, individually granted a unique identity by God.

Application: To love my name.  To love my family.  To love my married name, which has always been a bit of a struggle for me.  To know that God has a calling for all of us.

Prayer: Father, thank you for my name.  Thank you for my family name, for your calling on us.  Thank you that we are not all the same, that we are not like others and they are not like us.  Help us to work together to glorify you.  Amen.