These devotionals are based on the book, Soul Deep identity Theft, by Pastor Stan.
Studies have shown that people mature spiritually much more quickly if they spend 4 or more days a week reading and meditating on God’s Word. For this reason, we encourage everyone to take a few minutes each day to prayerfully meditate on the scriptural passage and devotional message for that day, as we study Soul Deep Identity Theft.
Tuesday, Oct. 15:
The Bible makes it clear that if you have accepted Christ as your Savior and surrendered your will to Him as Lord, then He has fully forgiven all your sins and has adopted you into His Royal family. You are no longer just His "creation", but you are His beloved "child". "But as many as received Him, to them, He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name." [John 1:12]
There are people deeply moved with compassion, who go to great lengths to adopt children in need. They will travel half-way around the world and pay tens of thousands of dollars to earn the legal right to take an orphaned child into their family as their own. If these people, who are sinful by nature, show such great compassion for those who are helplessly in need, then how much more compassion does your Heavenly Father (who is perfectly Holy) have for you?
In order to adopt you as His own, God didn't travel half-way around the world, but He descended all the way from a glorious throne in heaven to be born in a filthy cave used as a shelter for animals. He grew up in a poor family, and even during His ministry, Jesus claimed that "...the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." [Mt. 8:20] He didn't pay tens of thousands of dollars to earn the right to take you into His family. Rather, He willingly received full punishment for all your sins, in order to satisfy justice, so that you could be completely forgiven, and He could earn the right to adopt you as His own blameless and beloved child. For, "... you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." [1 Pet. 1:18-19]
To even remotely suggest that Jesus didn't or couldn't have possibly paid a great enough price to forgive your past sins is to make a mockery of the sufferings He endured for you -- YET, this is exactly what the devil wants you to believe!
This brings us to the first truth of our identity as a child of God: "In Christ, I am a forgiven person, free from the guilt and shame of what I have done wrong in my past." (Dr. Stan Tharp, Soul Deep Identity Theft, p. 24) Finally, going forward, when we sin -- even if we repeat the same sin many times -- we are assured that: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us off all unrighteousness." [1 John 1:9]
"Thank you, Lord, that you loved me so much that you took my punishment and forgave me completely for all my sins, so that I am now your blameless and beloved child. No one can take that from me, because Your word is binding, and no one can snatch me from Your hand! In light of all that, now, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, please help me to fully forgive others who have wronged or offended me, so that they might tangibly experience Your forgiveness, and so that I might experience the fullness of Your forgiveness. Your Word says that if we do not forgive, neither will our Father in heaven forgive our trespasses. [Mt. 6:15]. However, Your Word also says that if we ask for anything in Your Name, You will give it. [John 14:14] Although I cannot forgive others in my own power, I know that in Your power I can. Therefore, please give me Your heart to forgive others, just as You have forgiven me. Thank you, Father! AMEN!”
Monday, Oct. 14:
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!!!!!!!!!!!! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)
When I typed the verse above, I accidentally added several explanation marks, only to realize that the statement in 1 John is worth all that punctuation! What an amazing declaration, that God has loved us so much that He has adopted us as His children! Unfortunately, we often lose our sense of amazement and begin to take our relationship with Christ for granted. The announcement that God loves us begins to feel like old news rather than the good news that it is.
In my late 20’s (many years ago now) I went through a period of doubt and depression. I wasn’t sure whether God even existed. In my despair, one morning I drove to a nearby lake and began to talk to this God whose existence I was doubting. It was the closest thing to a verbal conversation I have ever had with God. As I poured out my heart to Him, expressing my fear and helplessness, He clearly responded to me, “Tom, you’re my son, and I love you, …and nothing will ever change that.” Those words transformed my life, and I continue to live in the reality of God’s love and grace to this day, 38 years later!
Pastor Stan addresses this issue in Chapter 2 when he writes, “Take His Word for it; the Bible says you are loved. God loves you, and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you any more or any less” (italics mine.) “Any more” – I no longer have to impress God with how good I am in an attempt to make Him love me more. “Any less” – there is nothing I can do that will cause God’s love for me to decrease. His love for me is dependent upon His goodness, not mine!
Before this encounter with the Lord, I was enslaved to performance orientation, a deception of the devil that tries to convince us that we earn God’s love for us by being good. Discovering that God’s love is not tied to our performance is a tremendously freeing experience. What about you? Are you still trying to impress God so He’ll love you more? Or, are you fearful that He loves you less because some sin from the past still haunts you? I encourage you to remind yourself today that by your faith in Christ you are a child of God and you have the amazing privilege (!!!!!!!!) of living in His unconditional love.
Father God, I thank you that your love for me is unconditional and unfathomable. In fact, you love me so much that you sent Jesus Christ to die upon a cross for me, so that I could be forgiven and adopted into your family! Forgive me, when I diminish your love by comparing it to others who have loved me conditionally and inconsistently. Help me to live in the reality of your love today, and to embrace my identity as a child of the King! In the name of Christ, Amen.
Friday, Oct. 11:
Yesterday we discussed how Satan tries to destroy our identity in Christ by tempting us to return to our old identity in the world. He then presses on relentlessly attempting to kill our dreams and destroy our God-given potential. (Dr. Stan Tharp, Soul Deep Identity Theft, p. 9)
What dreams does Satan want to kill? Those for worldly pleasures? No! James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote: "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." [Jas. 4:4] Satan's goal is not to prevent us from obtaining earthly pleasures, but to make us enemies of God. The dreams that he desires to steal are the dreams that God, Himself, has placed in our hearts.
The psalmist tells us: "Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the Light and your judgment as the noonday." [Ps. 37:4-6]
If we truly delight ourselves in the LORD, He will place HIS desires in our hearts, and our dreams will be His dreams. Those are the dreams that Satan wants to kill. If He can kill our dreams of pleasing Christ, then he can easily destroy our God-given potential to be useful for Christ's purposes.
Jesus said, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work." [John 4:34]
If this is your dream -- to do the will of the One who sent you and to accomplish the work He gave you to complete -- then cry out to Him, "Oh Lord, please place Your desires in my heart, and cause those desires to burn with a passion that far outshines the desires of my flesh! Continue to fill me with Your Holy Spirit and accomplish everything through me that you set out to accomplish even before time began. It is in Your Name I pray -- all for Your glory and the building of Your Kingdom. AMEN!"
Thursday, Oct. 10:
"The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” [John 10:10]
According to Pastor Stan, in his book, Soul Deep Identity Theft:
“The one-sentence job description Jesus attributed to [Satan] reflects [Satan’s] work against humanity since creation: he seeks to steal (your identity), kill (your dreams), and destroy (your God-given potential).” (p. 9)
In order to recognize when Satan is trying to steal our identity in Christ, we must first know what our identity in Christ is. The key words here are: “in Christ”. Before we came to know Christ as our Lord and Savior – before we were born again – our identity was “in” the world and “of” the world. It was based on success, according to the world’s standards, such as physical appearance, youthfulness, intelligence, wealth, power, prestige, and/or acceptance by other people. HOWEVER, the very instant that we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior our identity immediately changed. It became rooted in Christ, taking on all His characteristics, and representing who He is to a world in darkness.
The Apostle Paul states it this way: “… you were formerly in darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light, (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” [Eph. 5:8-10]
All too often, Satan tries to steal our identity in Christ, by tempting us to cling to our old identity of the world. If we fall prey to this temptation, thinking that we will find comfort and security in worldly success, Satan knows that we will actually become increasingly frustrated and discontent – regardless of how much worldly success we attain. Our God is a jealous God. Once we belong to Him, His holy Spirit will prick our conscience, causing internal discomfort, insecurity, and discontent until we turn our focus back to becoming like Christ in thought, word, and deed. Fighting with God will never bring peace.
For this reason, if you find yourself frustrated and discontent, be aware that Satan is trying to steal your identity in Christ. However, He (Christ’s Holy Spirit) “who lives in [us] is greater than he who is in the world.” [1 John. 4:4] Consider praying to your Heavenly Father, according to Col. 1:9-13 (below). Make your prayer personal and sincere to the only One Who is infinitely “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness and truth, and faithful to forgive all iniquity, transgression and sin” [See Ex. 34:6-8; Ps. 86:15; 103:8; 108:4; 145:8; Rom. 2:4.]
“Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me for the times I have clung to my old identity according to worldly standards and restore my new identity in Christ! Fill me with the knowledge of Your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that I may walk in a manner that is pleasing to You and worthy of You. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, grant that I may bear fruit in every good work and that I may increase in the knowledge of who You are. Strengthen me with power according to Your glorious might, in order that I would become steadfast and patient, joyously giving thanks to You continuously. For You have qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. You have rescued me from the domain of darkness and transferred me to the Kingdom of Your beloved Son, in whom I have redemption and forgiveness of my sins. It is in His Name I pray, confidently knowing that You will be faithful to grant these things according to your will. AMEN!” (Based on Col. 1:9-13)
Wednesday, Oct. 9:
"Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." [2 Cor. 11:14] Ultimately, he wants to sit on God's throne with all power and glory and receive the worship from people which rightfully belongs to God alone. In Is. 14:14, Satan exclaimed, " I will ascend above the heights of the clouds and make myself like the Most High." For this reason, he tries to draw Christians away from the will (and blessings) of God by masking himself as a righteous and godly being. He influences false teachers to twist the meaning of Scripture, in order to lead people away from the one true God. This is why it is so important for us to know the Word of God, the will of God, the promises of God, and our Identity in Christ. The less we know what the Scriptures really say, the easier it is for us to be deceived, divided, distracted, and discouraged by Satan's "4-D" strategy.
Luke tells the story of Mary and Martha, where Mary choose to sit at Jesus' feet and listen to His teaching, while Martha was distracted with all her preparations. Jesus said, "... only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." [Lk. 10:42]
It takes time to sit at Jesus' feet, to learn and understand the Word of God, to meditate on it, and to apply it to our lives. According to the passage above, we know it is God's will that, like Mary, we would also choose the "good part". Therefore, we can boldly approach the throne, praying that the Lord (who is Lord over time) would open up time in our schedules, so that we might partake of the "good part". And, by praying this, we can be confident that it will not be taken away from us! Ask your Heavenly Father to grant you that time to sit at His feet. When He does, ask Him to pour into you: knowledge, wisdom, and understanding; in order that you might serve Him more effectively -- and so that the enemy would not be given a foothold in your life.
Tuesday, Oct 8:
Scripture makes it clear that there is an invisible world, which is just as real as the visible world. Spirits of that invisible world constantly wage war against us, and the effects of that war have eternal implications. The goal of our enemy is not simply to annoy us; his goal is to utterly destroy us. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. [1 Pet. 5:8]
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. [Eph. 6:12]
Since our struggle is not against people or things in this world which we can see, we can only do battle against our invisible enemy by using spiritual weapons of warfare.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ [2 Cor. 10:3-5]
In short, the only way to gain victory over the enemy is to: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” [Jas. 4:7]
If that’s all there is to it, then why is submitting to God so difficult? Why is it so easy for the enemy to entice us to disobey God? The Apostle, Paul, gives us an answer in Romans 7:21-25: “It happens so regularly that it is predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set thing right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” (The Message translation.) As Jesus said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” [Mt. 26:41]
Pray that the Lord would reveal His will to you and that He would give you the desire and strength to follow His will, and to overcome the drive to follow your own will.
Monday, Oct 7:
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. [1 Pet. 5:8] If we focus on the visible world and forget about (or minimize) the powerful war in the invisible world, Satan can derail us in an instant and send us spiraling on an unthinkable path of destruction. The invisible war which Satan has waged against our souls is real; it is well-organized; and it is INTENSE! We do not live on a playground. We have been born onto a battlefield. Jesus said to his closest disciples on the night He was betrayed, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray, that you may not enter into temptation.” [Lk. 22:46] These were Jesus’ closest friends, who were already strong in their faith, yet He reminded them of their extreme vulnerability to the enemy.
On our own, we are powerless against this formidable enemy, but the Holy Spirit is faithful to give us strength to overcome temptation of the enemy, as long as we remain obedient to God. “Greater is He who is in you than he [Satan] who is in the world.” [1 John 4:4].
The Holy Spirit will only give you strength to overcome the enemy, however, if you have accepted Christ as your Savior and dedicated your life to Him. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? [1 John 5:5]. Therefore, if you have not chosen Christ as your personal savior – or if you have strayed away from Christ and would like to rededicate your life to Him now -- this is the perfect opportunity to do that. Please read the box below:
Regardless of where you are now, the Lord will forgive all your sins – past, present, and future – and He will adopt you as His child. He will guard, guide, and love you more than you can imagine forever and ever! Simply tell Him in prayer that this is what you desire. You can pray something like this: “Dear God, Although I Have lived my life according to my own desires in the past, and I have sinned against You, I am truly sorry for all these things. Please forgive me. I believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for all my sins, and I accept Your gift of salvation. Thank you! Please, now, grant me the power of Your Holy Spirit, and help me to follow You for the rest of my life. I want to spend all of eternity with You! Amen.”
If you just prayed that prayer, understand that the devil has already set his sights on you and wants to destroy your new relationship with Christ. He also wants to isolate you from other believers, so that you will be vulnerable. Therefore, reach out to someone in your small group who can support you in your walk with Christ. If you’re not in a small group and if you don’t know anyone, please contact us at 937-898-8811 or stop by the “Welcome Center” near Door 3 the next time you are at CLC, and we will help you connect with someone who will be glad to assist you in growing with Christ.
If you have already accepted Christ – regardless of whether it was moments ago or decades ago – please reach out to him now in prayer, asking Him to grant you wisdom to recognize the enemy’s schemes and give you the strength to overcome every temptation that enemy throws at you. Tell Him what your greatest temptations are, and ask the Lord to accomplish His will through you, so that He would be glorified, every day, until the day He takes you home to be with Him.