“Who am I?”
Hello and welcome to “Key to the Kingdom”. My name is Bret McCasland. At various times throughout our lives we ask some deep, soul searching, questions. We consider the world around us, and our place in it. We try to understand the direction we are to go, and the purpose of life. Sometimes we come up with a clear answer, while at other times it seems we don't even have a clue. There is something we can know, however, when we think about who we are in the sight of God. In our lesson today, on “Key to the Kingdom”, we will look at 3 things from the Bible that help us identify and answer the question; who am I? These 3 things never change or go away. We cannot earn them, and certainly do not deserve them, and yet they will change our life forever, if we let them. Yes, God blesses us in some special ways, and He simply wants us to receive His gifts. I hope you will stay tuned to this station for the next few minutes, and that you will now open your heart and your Bible as we study together.
Much of the world today is experiencing what we might call an identity crisis. We're constantly trying to figure out our purpose and direction in life. We are trying to find ourselves and where we need to go in this world. Oh, many years ago the prevailing thought was to get an education, find a job, and start a career, and somewhere along the way find someone to marry, settle down, and begin a family. However, that doesn't seem to be a very high priority for many people today. The bottom line however is, we all still want to find a purpose and a direction for our life. We long to be significant and to offer some value to this world. We want to accomplish something good in our time here upon this earth, and we take various paths in order to do that. And then, even when we think we might have our identity, and purpose, and direction all figured out, something happens, and it all changes, and we have to start all over again. Oh, in the midst of all of the confusion, and the changes, and the uncertainties of life it seems people ask themselves 2 basic questions. And those 2 questions are; who am I, and why am I here? We have asked those questions before, haven't we? But what answer did we come up with, when we ask our self who am I and what is my purpose upon the earth? Today's lesson is the 1st of a 2 part series, where we will seek to answer those 2 questions, and so I want us to begin our study today by asking, and hopefully answering the question from the Bible; who am I? At the basis of that question is really a search for something upon which to build our lives. We're looking for something that will bring meaning and significance, and sometimes we don't know where to find it. Sometimes we may not even know how to start searching for it. And that perhaps is illustrated by the following video clip, “Searching for Something”. I hope you will take just a couple of minutes to watch it.
Sometimes I like to come into a book store not knowing for sure what I want to purchase, but I am always amazed at the variety of books on the shelves. There are sports books, and history books, and information books, psychology, and all sorts of books available for purchase. As I'm looking around at various books to purchase I also see a variety of people looking for books as well, something that might fill up their life with information, with news, with entertainment, something that will satisfy that which is missing inside. “Excuse me, young man. Can I ask you a question?” “What's up?” “What are you looking for today?” “I'm not sure. I'm just looking for something;” looking for something. That seems to be the attitude of so many people. We don't know for sure what were looking for, just looking for something. And I think that's the way it is with many people in the world today. They're looking for something but can't quite find it. They're looking for something to fill that void and that emptiness, and perhaps that is the way it will always be, until those people find Jesus. Jesus tells us, in Matthew 6:33 – Seek first Him, and His kingdom, His righteousness, and everything else will be added unto you. Yes, when we seek the Lord above anyone and everything else, it is then that everything else will fall into place and we will find what we are looking for in life. I'm reminded of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, who said that you will find the Lord when you seek Him with all your heart. Today, you might be looking for something but don't know for sure what that is. I would encourage you to begin by finding the Lord, finding Jesus and the salvation He offers, and then other things will fall into place.
Yes, when we find the Lord, our eyes are opened up and we begin to understand a little bit better who God is, what God has done for us in the past and what He continues to do for us on a regular basis. Yes, lots of things come to mind when we wonder who we are in the sight of God. But in our lesson today I want us to focus on 3 specific things the Bible tells us about our identity in the sight of God. Number 1, we know that we are loved. We are loved. Listen to these words from Deuteronomy 7:9. –Know that the Lord your God is God; the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations.- Oh, even though Moses spoke these words to a group of Israelites going into the promised land of Canaan, they still apply to us today. Yes, we still have a God who is faithful in love. We still have a God who cares for us a great deal. And 1000 generations is a long time, isn't it? If we were to think of one generation as 40 years and then multiply those 40 years by 1000 were talking about 40,000 years. That is simply an example, or an illustration, of that steadfast and faithful love of God. When we think about the steadfast love we know that God initiated it. He is the one who came up with the idea to love people. Because it came from Him, He will never abandon His love for you and for me. How many times have we heard the words of John 3:16? -For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.– Oh, there is not a single person in all of this world who is excluded from God's love. It does not matter who we are or where we live. It does not matter the color of our skin or our social/economic background. It does not matter our gender, how old or how young we might be. God's love is extended to each and every one of us. If we were to list all of the characteristics of God, the things we read about Him in the Bible and other things perhaps we don't even know about, perhaps love would be at the top of that list. Yes, God is a God of love. And there are several ways in which that love is demonstrated to us. I think about the words of Romans chapter 5:8. –God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.– This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture, even in the midst of my sin God sent His Son to die for me. Why, because of His love, and for no other reason. Yes, He loved me enough, in spite of my sin, to send His one and only Son to die on a cross in order to receive God's love. The apostle Paul writes this, in Ephesians 2:4,5 –Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. It is by grace you have been saved.- For no other reason than for His great love, and through His rich mercy, God makes us alive and saves us. Yes, our transgressions, or our sin, make us dead in the sight of God but because of what Jesus Christ did for us we are now made alive. We are brought to life so that we can experience the grace, the mercy, and the salvation of the Lord. Here is another passage of Scripture for us to consider. Again, it comes from the apostle Paul; 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 beginning with verse 16, reads like this. –May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage and strengthen you in every good deed and word.- Some of you, like I, have children, and there is nothing we probably would not do to show our love to them. We make all kinds of sacrifices on behalf of our children. We provide for them, and we care for them, and in fact there is no sacrifice that we would not make in order to let our children know they are somebody very special and very valuable, and we love them with all our heart. And yet, no matter what kind of sacrifice or demonstration of love we might offer to them they will all fail in comparison to the love that God gives to you and to me. And when I know that God loves me like that, I can live each and every day with the strength, and hope, and encouragement I need to make it in this world. Yes, God's love encourages me for I know without a doubt that God loves me very much. Oh, there are many more passages in the Bible, just like these, that remind us of God's great love for us. But this is what I want us to know. God loves us more than anybody ever has, and He loves us more than anybody ever will. In fact God loves us more than we will ever know. And so when we ask our self the question, who am I, as we search for our identity in this world, the 1st answer we can give our self is, I am someone very special, who is loved by God, very much. But then 2nd, as we think about answers to the question who am I, we know that we are called. We are called. We are called by God to be saved. We are called by God to believe in and trust His Son, Jesus Christ. We are called by God to live in praise and honor of His holy name. And that calling extends to all of us. That calling extends to each and every person on the face of this earth. In fact, it reminds me of God's love for us. There is no one excluded from God's love, and likewise there's no one excluded from the call God makes to us. I think about the cell phones that so many people have in the world today. When someone calls us on our cell phone we have the option to either accept or decline that phone call. We can either receive or reject it. Well, for the most part we generally accept it. We receive that call because we want to hear what the other person, on the other end of the line, has to share with us. Likewise, the same is true with God. He calls on us to receive His love and His salvation. He invites us to receive the wonderful gift of Jesus Christ, which He offers. And we have the option, to either decline or receive, to reject or to accept that invitation of Jesus Christ, and God's call on us. A moment ago we read from John 3:16. Often times we stop right there, but now listen to verse 17. –For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.- Jesus was not sent by His Father to the world to condemn us and to keep us separated from God, but rather to save us and to bring us into a close fellowship with Him. In 1st Corinthians 1:9 we read –God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.– That’s encouraging, isn't it? God calls us into His fellowship. He invites us to be a part of His family, to sit at His banquet feast and to share in all of His wonderful blessings and promises. Oh, my physical family, here upon this earth, extends to me some wonderful blessings and privileges. And I, in turn, extend some blessings back to them. But those blessings and privileges within our family are only for our family; that those who are in our family can enjoy those, and nobody else has access to them. And I'm sure that's the way it is with your family as well. The same is true in God's family. We are someone with whom God wants to have fellowship. He doesn't want anyone to be outside of His family looking in. God gives to us all of those blessings and promises which are available when we have that fellowship with God. Here's something else to consider. When God calls you and me, He knows what He is doing. He knows our sins and our problems. He is well aware of the shortcomings and the inadequacies in our life, and yet He still calls us to be a part of His family. God did that on several occasions with people in the Bible. He saw beyond what other people might consider to be a shortcoming, or a problem, or an inadequacy, and He called them to fill some very important roles in this world. And God does the same with you, and with me. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, He does not see our sin, and problems, and our inadequacies, but yet He invites us to enjoy His blessings and promises. The apostle Paul writes this, in 2nd Thessalonians 2:13,14. – We ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.- There is one thought I want us to take away from those 2 verses, and that is; you are someone special with whom God wants to share His glory. Now think about that for just a moment. Allow that one thought to sink into your heart. God wants to share His glory with you; the very same glory that He gave to His Son, Jesus Christ. He wants to share it with us. That's exciting, isn't it! God calls us, He invites us through His Son Jesus Christ, so not only can He bestow blessings and promises upon us but also His glory. So when we seek to answer the question, who am I, the 2nd answer we can give is, we are called by God to share in His blessings and His glory. The 3rd answer we might give to the question, who am I, is, I am redeemed. I am redeemed. When we respond to God's call upon our life, and when we receive His love for us, we are then redeemed; and the word redeemed simply means to be set free. We are set free from sin. We are set free from Satan and his control over us. The apostle Paul does a great job of explaining that to us in Galatians 3:13,14. – Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.- Now here is the message of those 2 verses. Jesus died upon a cross so we do not have to die in our sins. He set us free from a law keeping system so that now, by faith or belief in Him, we can receive all of the blessings and the promises God has in store for us. Yes by His death upon the cross, Jesus removed the curse that kept us separated from God, and now we can have fellowship with Him. We can be set free from the sin that keeps us separated from a holy God. Paul goes on in Galatians to write this, in the 4th chapter beginning with verse 4. –When the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law so that we might receive the full rights of sons.- Yes, once again, Jesus died so we can receive an inheritance, so we can be set free from a curse, and it is only through Jesus we receive it. There is no other way to receive that redemption. There is no other person who can set us free except Jesus Christ, the Son of God. On occasion my travels take me to the country of India, and when I am there I see many things I do not see in the United States of America. One of them, that always catches my attention, are the number of little places that are set up throughout the towns and villages where people come to worship, those little temples. Inside of those temples are idols, or images, that are carved out by human hands, and people then are lined up in order to get into that temple to worship that particular image. Those images are simply made of stone. Those images cannot hear, and cannot see, and cannot understand, and cannot speak. Yet the people come with their sacrifices; with fruits, or vegetables, or some kind of burnt offering that they make to this idol. I wonder about that. On my recent visit I met a young lady who said for many years I worshiped the idols and the images of India, but yet I came to know Jesus Christ and I came to realize that Jesus Christ is a real person who does hear my prayers, and He is the only one who can offer to me salvation. Oh, I wish more people in India, in fact I wish more people throughout this world, could understand that great truth; that it is only through Jesus Christ we receive redemption and the forgiveness of our sin. Oh again, there are many other passages of Scripture that emphasize the great truth of being redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I think about 1st John 3:1, as Jesus sets us free we become the children of God. In Romans 5:2, as Jesus redeems us from sin we then gain access to God's grace and we live with the hope of someday seeing Him in glory. Then in Romans 8:2, we know that as Jesus died upon a cross we are now set free from sin and from death.
As we seek to answer the question, who am I, that is posed by so many people in the world today, let us know number 3; we are people who are redeemed and set free from sin.
When people ask you the question who are you, what is your identity, or when we ask our self the question, who am I, what is my identity in the sight of God? We know the answer, don't we? We know that we are loved, that we are called, and we are redeemed. And because of that, in the sight of God we have an identity in this world and therefore we can now live with a purpose and a direction for our lives. We have a hope for today that no matter what happens today we're okay, because we are somebody special in the sight of our God. And we also have the promise of someday seeing Him, and living with Him for all eternity, because of who we are in His sight. Oh the question, who am I, is asked millions of times by many people each and every day, and many answers are given but only one answer matters. I hope you can, today, give that answer; that you can confidently say I am loved by God, I am called by Him to receive that eternal inheritance as I am redeemed and set free by the blood of Jesus Christ. Today I pray that you will give that answer when anybody ever asks you the question who are you, or when you ask yourself the question who am I.
Thank you for tuning in to today's broadcast. Hopefully this message from God's Word blessed your life and reminded you of how special you are in His sight. Yes, when we are searching for the answer to the question who am I, we can know that God has the answer. Please feel free to browse our website where you will find a free Bible study, along with other videos and lessons. I do hope you will take advantage of these opportunities and that they will be a blessing to you. You can now download the "Key to the Kingdom" app onto your android or Apple iPhone. It is free, and available at your phone's app store. Once again, let me say thank you for being our guest today and I trust you will join us again next time as we study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom”.