by Carrie Albert
Sometimes we come away from an experience or a sermon and we are all excited about Jesus and living for him. We hear a missionary and think What an experience! I’m ready to go serve in Africa! Or, like a lady said at our 2021 women’s retreat, she is joyful in Jesus today, but will she return to the same routine at home or will this teaching change her actions? This reminds me of the Psalms where God tells us that we are blessed when we delight in and meditate on his word day and night (Psalm 1). In Psalm 119 he tells us to hide his word in our hearts that we might not sin against him. When Paul writes to Timothy, he reminds him that “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof for correction and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”(2 Tim. 3:16-17) God’s word changes lives, and as we interact with it, we learn more about this wonderful God who is faithful and good. We learn more of this great one who created a whole universe but who also knits babies together in their mother’s wombs. We learn that every believer was chosen before the world was created.
As we read the Word, we learn more about ourselves, our sinful state, and the state of the world around us. We read about the lives of people just like us, and we can relate to each of them in some way. We learn about Jesus, his remarkable birth, his authoritative teaching, his miracles, his death, resurrection, and his deity. He changed everything. Perhaps you have heard of him or even know him, but are you in him? If we are, Paul says that we have “learned Christ” (Eph. 4:20).
What does that mean? Well, I have been married to my husband for 26 years now. I knew him when we got married, but now I have learned him. I can finish his sentences! I’ve learned his strengths and weaknesses, so I can encourage him. I’ve learned the right buttons to press, when to push them or when I’ve gone too far! I’ve learned his favorite meals, the activities he likes, and his styles. But there is still much to learn about him. Just like knowing Jesus, the more time we spend together the more I learn about him, and yet there is still much to discover about him.
When my children were smaller, on the first of December I hung up a poster board and told them when they see a name of Jesus in their Bibles to write it on the board and let’s see how many names we can come up with by Christmas. They filled the whole board and were finding more. During this activity they were learning more about all Jesus’s titles. When we read the word, we begin to embrace him for who he is and what he stands for. It’s this that transforms our life and our thinking. When we embrace him as Lord, and we see him as our Creator, our King, our Savior, our Priest, our Shepherd, our Friend, our Life, our End, then we see that our lives are nothing apart from him.
Paul Tripp said, “I am not something because I am in ministry… I am something because I am in Christ.” We tend to put our identity in created things such as titles, abilities, experiences, and in relationships. When I define myself by anything other than Jesus, my view distorts, like looking into a funhouse mirror. But God’s word is clear and true (Jn. 17:17). Jesus says “…if you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (Jn. 8:31-32)
Therefore, let us open the word and discover our identities in Christ. Let’s continue to fall in love with the God who loved us first. Let’s come away amazed at this redemptive story about a God like no other who stepped into this world to save you.
Lord, I pray that as we open your Word, commune with you, hear the gospel preached on Sundays, and as we gather in small groups, that you would open our ears to hear what you have to say. Lord, soften our hearts to be taught, corrected, and trained in righteousness, so we can be made complete and equipped to do the work you have given us. Amen.
Carrie Albert is a member of Living Hope Church. She and her husband, Miles, have four children.