If you were with us this time last year, I did three nights on 'Barriers To Blessing'. We looked at hindrances as to why people don't move on in God, and why they don't mature as they would like, and experience and encounter God as others do and as the Bible teaches us we ought. We looked at 'Sins', 'Wounds', and 'Demons', and we looked at those quite comprehensively each night. Those recordings are available, I think, if you wanted them again we could get those for you all right, although they're not out in the hall. But we've been praying and seeking God as to what to concentrate on this season, and we really came to the conclusion - very much led by the Spirit, we believe - that the Lord wants us to go deeper. I suppose if you were wanting to think of a title, we're 'diagnosing deeper issues of the heart', and we're going to go from one subject to another - but there is a theme, deep areas of the human heart, the soul, or the spirit that need the healing touch of the Lord Jesus. Tonight we're looking at the subject of identity, we're going to look at it very comprehensively and in quite a reasonable depth, although we can't cover everything - it's a huge, vast subject, but we want to do it justice tonight. So I hope you will give me the time to do that, and I believe God is really going to touch people's lives and bring deep healing to many folk in the gathering.
So let's turn in our Bibles to the book of Judges and chapter 6, and when you get there, we will then just take a moment's prayer. Judges chapter 6 - now, if you're familiar with Judges you'll know that, guess what, it's about the judges. It's about these deliverers who God raised up, and there is a cycle in the book - I don't have time to go into it - but there is a cycle whereby God's people start to depart from Him, and then the Lord allows them to be overwhelmed and overcome by an enemy. Then, when they finally wise up and realise that it's their own sins that have brought this judgement against them, they repent and God then raises up a 'judge', or a 'saviour' is a basic way of looking at each judge. We are interjecting in the story of Gideon, who is a mighty judge and saviour of God's people. We're not going to look at the whole story tonight, but there is something I really want us to look at, and that is: how Gideon saw himself, and how God saw him. Alright?
But let's pray just now before we read, and I want you to pray for yourself - OK? I want you to ask the Lord that He might speak to you, would you do that? Would you just say: 'Lord, please come and speak to me, please come and minister to me. Open my eyes, open my ears and minister to my heart'. So let's pray to that end, and you pray for yourself right now: Father, we want to thank You for Your praises tonight, and that You inhabit the praises of Your people. Lord, we believe Your presence is with us, and that You are manifestly felt by some in the gathering. We pray that all of us would be aware of Your very near presence and, Lord, that it would be personal to us and intimate in such a way that we would know that You're touching our hearts, that You're doing divine surgery, that You're reaching into the deep place that we don't even know exists, perhaps. We thank You that the Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God, and also searches our hearts. So we invite the Holy Spirit, Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus, to come, to search us, and to minister to us deeply. For the glory of Christ we pray, Amen.
Verse 11 then, we're going to read down to verse 16 - that's Judges 6 verse 11: "Now the Angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, 'The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valour!'. Gideon said to Him, 'O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?'. But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites'. Then the LORD turned to him and said, 'Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?'. So he said to Him, 'O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house'. And the LORD said to him, 'Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man'".
Now I hope you see it. It's self-explanatory, isn't it? Here is this man, and for fear - you understand that, and if you know the whole story of Gideon you will know that fear was his primary problem, and if you know my story you'll know that's been the case with me as well. Here he is in fear of the Midianites, and he's threshing out wheat behind the winepress, scared, hiding. The Angel of the Lord comes and appears to him, and says: 'You mighty man of valour!'. What would you think? You'd be saying: 'You're having a laugh! Is this the Lord at all? Do you know who You're talking to? I'm Gideon, scaredy-custard, hiding from the enemy'. But God comes to him, and though he pleads that he is the weakest, that his tribe is weak and he's the weakest in his father's house, the Lord is not seeing Gideon the way he sees himself - and maybe not even the way others see Gideon - but the Lord is seeing Gideon through His own eyes, through His own destiny, through His own purposes and His sovereign will and plan.
That's what I want you to understand tonight, because that effectively is the foundation of identity that we find within the Bible. I don't know how you see yourself tonight, but I believe that if you're open to God, that by the power of the Holy Spirit He is going to come and - as He is the Potter - He's going to take your life and your heart and remould it according to His will. I don't know if you're familiar with this sculpture, it's Michelangelo's sculpture of David - some of you may have even seen it, or some replicas of it. This is really understood as one of the greatest works of art that exists. The statue was first commissioned as far back as 1466, and a lot of people don't realise that Michelangelo was not the first artist to work on this statue. There was a marble block that was very highly prized, and there was little progress that was made on it even after the statue had been commissioned. All that had been done was a few markings of legs and feet, but they had never chiselled away at it. The project, after 10 years having been commissioned, was effectively resurrected by another artist - and no real progress was made by him either. So the contract of this statue of David from the Bible was terminated. The marble block lay neglected for 25 years in the courtyard of the cathedral in Florence. It was around the year 1500, Michelangelo was now 26 years of age, and he was getting a reputation as a master of his craft. He was then contracted to sculpt David out of this piece of marble that now, over the years, had become very weathered by exposure to the elements. In fact, it is said that he was not impressed with the material that he was given, not happy at all, but it was too expensive - this large piece of marble - to dispose of, so he took on the job. I have often heard it said, and maybe you have as well, that when Michelangelo looked at that piece of marble, that block, he didn't see mere misshapen weathered stone - but he actually looked with vision, and he saw the completed statue of David that your eyes looking at on the screen. It was two years later that what he saw in his heart - and no one else saw, for that matter - actually was created: 17 feet of a statue of marble David, which is still the marvel of the world today.
Now, as I was researching the story, I discovered that around 1967 a man by the name of Charles Seymour actually wrote a book - it's said to be a groundbreaking book - on the work of David by Michelangelo. Do you know what the title of the book is? 'Michelangelo's David: The Search for Identity' - isn't that interesting? Maybe you're here tonight, and you think God ought not to be happy with the material that is before Him. Maybe you feel misshapen, weather-beaten by the elements of life - but here's the truth of what God's revelation in the Bible says: you are too expensive to dispose of. God values you! We're not overlooking your sin, we're not ignoring our own fallenness in the holy eyes of the God of heaven, but the fact of the matter is: God values you, even if you don't value yourself! What you may not see in your own personhood, or for that matter what others may not recognise in you, God sees.
I know that all of you, if you're honest, have been on the search for identity. If you could imagine your life as a block of marble, what do you see? What do you see when you look at yourself or consider your own life? Do you see potential or do you see a hopeless project? I think I'm right in saying - it has always been the case, but particularly in our modern era - there is an identity crisis. People are asking: 'Who am I? Why am I here? What is the purpose of my existence?'. Many young people in particular are growing up not knowing who they are, or who they are meant to be. You can Google it if you like, and you'll be even more confused by the end of it - all the answers that illustrate the confusion. This modern generation doesn't understand who they are or who they are meant to be. There are so many conflicting voices telling us who we should be and who we should be like. Take the media for instance, whether it's the advertisements or pop culture, or even religion: we're being told how we ought to conform, how we ought to measure up. That's the reason why there is such a great identity confusion.
So let me ask you again: who do you think you are? Some of you remember, I don't know if it's still going, on BBC1 the programme by that title, 'Who Do You Think You Are?'. It was mainly celebrities who traced their lineage to find out who their ancestors were, and there was often quite a surprise - whether it was horse thieves, or aristocracy, or something like that. But it was interesting that even celebrities, entertainment stars, were searching for understanding and meaning for their present-day existence by looking into the past, to give them more of a sense of meaning to their life. How do you see yourself? I think it's true to say that most of us, if not all of us, have an internal picture of ourselves that dominates every aspect of our lives. Whether it's our personalities, our capabilities, our aspirations and dreams - our self-image, if you like, it affects how we perceive ourselves and therefore how we perceive others see us, and how we begin to relate to others and effectively how they will relate to us. More than that, not only does our self-image affect our own well-being and how other people relate to us, but it affects how we view God - it shapes our understanding of the Almighty, and in fact how He sees us and what we think He feels about us.
So this is a huge subject, so significant - whether you're a Christian or not. You see, your self-image can actually become a stronghold in your mind, a spiritual stronghold that incarcerates your mind and blinds you from the truth and robs you of everything that God intends for your life. Let me ask you this question: not only how do you see yourself, but where do you think your true identity lies? Where? Does it lie with yourself? Does it lie with your own self-image, your perception of who you are? Does it lie with your family, or your friends, your peers? Does your true identity lie with public opinion, what society says or thinks? Does it lie with popular culture, what is in vogue in our modern day? Now we are Christians who believe the Bible, and if you're a Christian you've got to confess - there has been confession, we have alluded to the Apostle's Creed tonight - but we've got to confess that we believe God Almighty is the only One who made us, who formed us, who sculpted us, and He created us in His image, and He has ordained our destiny. He is the only one who has the right to tell us what our identity is - do you believe that?
I want you to see tonight the source of our identity confusion, and indeed the whole confusion that there is in our world. If you were to turn to Genesis chapter 1, you can if you wish, Genesis chapter 1 and verse 26, or you can listen. At the very beginning of the creation story, before man fell into sin, it says: 'God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over all the earth''. Now right away there, God is creating mankind, male and female, in His image; and He creates them in His own identity. Now that means a whole lot of things that I don't have time to go into tonight, but one thing we do know is: God breathed into the clay that He made from the ground, into the body, the physical form of Adam, He breathed into Him His 'ruach', His breath, and Adam became a living soul. So there is a spiritual entity in all of us that connects us to God, it's called a human spirit. It's that part of us that can engage with spiritual reality. So that's how we're different from the beasts of the field, the whole animal kingdom. It means that we as human beings can have a relationship with Almighty God.
But more than being made in God's image, we read in that one verse that we were given dominion over all the earth - that means we've got significance. We have, as humankind, an authority that is God-given, and a responsibility to look after ourselves, look after one another, look after all the animals and all of nature - that's what God has seen in us, the potential that we have. Now, of course, if you know the Genesis story, you will know that there is a serpent that enters the Garden, that is Satan. He effectively is the first identity thief. He tempts Adam and Eve. God said: 'Of all the trees of the Garden you may freely eat, but of the one tree in the Garden you may not eat, for in the day you eat of it you will die' - and it was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is always the way Satan works, he comes along and he tempts us with knowledge. He says: 'God is not telling you everything. There is hidden knowledge that you need to know'. He tempts us with significance, a significance that he lies to us about, saying that we don't already have it and we need to get it, and God is withholding it from us. He effectively tempts us with knowledge and significance apart from God - that's what the temptation originally was, and still is today.
So Adam and Eve sinned, and sin brought this confusion, this identity confusion, an identity crisis into society. So all the questions that are being asked by you and the rest of humankind today: 'Who am I? What am I worth? What is my purpose? What is my destiny?' - the source of this identity crisis is in our alienation from God, who gave us our identity in the first place. Satan's objective has always been, and will always be, to distort and to destroy the image of God in us. So very simply: your healing, whatever your issue might be, whatever your hurt in your heart, your healing will come when you realise you were created by divine worth in God's image. Sin, of course, has damaged us, but through Jesus - this is the Gospel message - through the death of Christ upon the cross, through His shed blood and the power of His resurrection, we can be redeemed! We can be restored, and reformed, and regenerated! Some of you here tonight - whatever stage you are on on your spiritual journey, let's put it that way - some of you need to hear this message, and it is that God has not lost sight of who He created you to be. Whatever has happened to you, whatever you've been through, whatever you've become; God has not lost sight of His vision, His dream, His blueprint for your life!
I hope that encourages you. I love Psalm 139, and I want you to listen to a couple of verses from it and apply it to yourself tonight. We are created in God's image: 'For You created', the psalmist says, 'my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are Your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand - when I awake, I am still with You'. Isn't that beautiful?
You are not a mistake. Did you hear that? You are not an accident, you're not a freak nor a misfit - but God made you on purpose. You are His thought, you are His dream. Now, I wonder how many of us can actually read a Psalm like Psalm 139 and these verses, or look at our own conception and life hitherto, and stand back and say: 'Lord, what a good job You did'. I mean, honestly, could you say that? That's effectively what David is saying: 'You made a good job when You made me, Lord'. You think: 'Well, that's very proud or self-assured' - far from it! You see, this is one of the mistakes - particularly that we make, I think, as Irish folk; and I can't speak for the other nationalities here - but we are so down on ourselves at times, and we so often mistaken self-loathing and self-hatred for humility, and it's nothing of the sort! We're not saying that we are great in and of ourselves, but we're looking at God the Creator and saying: 'What a great thing He did when He made me, and He made only one me! There is no one like me!'. If you think it's boasting, you've misunderstood it.
You see, the problem that we have is: we see so many negative things on ourselves, we see things that we can't change about ourselves that we don't like, and so many of us begin to identify ourselves with our failures and our struggles. Do you understand? We integrate our brokenness into our identity, and we can even get to the stage where we explain away these particular negative traits in our personality by saying: 'Oh, God just made me this way'. How many of us say that? This is what happens - and I know this might be a bit deep and complicated, but you've got to understand this - we begin to integrate our behaviours into our identity, and we say: 'Because I'm doing that, because I'm failing here, this is who I am'.
Do you know what gender identity disorder is? It is when someone effectively rejects the sex that they are, and favours being the opposite sex. I heard of a case recently of a young person with so-called 'gender identity disorder', and the explanation that the senior gave - I'll not go into the details for obvious reasons - the explanation that the senior gave for this particular condition was: 'O, God just made a wee mistake'. God doesn't make mistakes. We have to deal with all these issues today very sensitively, but we've got to understand that humankind has got an enemy, and Satan wants to create you in his image. He will do that with lies, and if those lies are believed there will be pride, there will be selfishness, resentment, bitterness will grow; there will become rebellion against God and His laws and, effectively, unbelief. The enemy uses this world-system to proliferate his propaganda, to completely confuse us and send us in a spin of crises concerning who we really are and why we are here.
Another example of this is folk who struggle with same-sex attraction. Now, I'm not dealing with this subject tonight, and there are several reasons why people may struggle with same-sex attraction - it's a huge subject, one that needs to be dealt with with great care and compassion. But the world's answer for this is: 'If you, no matter what age you are, have a sense of attraction toward the same sex - you are gay'. Period. That's what's going on. They don't address the truth of how God has created gender to be. It says He created mankind, male and female, in His image - and there wasn't any other alternative other than male and female. But rather than addressing from the creative truth of how we are made in God's image, and starting from there, we start from the confusion and the lies of the enemy. Take a six-year-old boy, and he likes dolls and he likes wearing dresses - rather than affirming his true sexual identity and gender, and teaching him the difference between male and female, the 'experts' are telling this child: 'You be a girl if you want to'. What's going on - and we've got to understand this - is that the world is trying to push us into its mould. It's not just with the issue (though it is a huge one today) of sexuality, but it's in so many other areas - with advertising, as I've said. 'You won't be fulfilled unless you drive this car, unless you eat this ice cream or drink this particular type of cola. You won't be admired unless you wear these jeans or have these designer glasses. Unless you have this or look like this you won't be accepted'.
We have our own particular flavour of this in Ireland, and it's called nationalism. Whether it's unionism or republicanism, it is the concept that we take our identity from our cultures or our political persuasion - and that is another lie. You can have your culture, and you can have your political persuasion - I'm not going to try and take that away from you, I might have my own! But it's not my identity! It's not really who I am. You see, the enemy is engaged in identity theft. He wants to rob us of our true identity, and give us a substitute identity. The voice you listen to, whatever that is that tells you - supposedly - who you are, and how you to view yourself; if you conform to that voice, that is the force that will mould you.
Now, that applies to everybody on the planet, everything I've just said - but most Christians, believe it or not, continue to live their life out of a broken picture of how they see themselves long after their identity has been changed in Jesus Christ. They still live and breathe and exist out of a broken self-image. So I want to ask you tonight, whether you're a Christian or not: what is the mask that you wear? What is the image and the identity that you put on in the morning, that you show to others? Is it the true identity, your true self? Maybe you've got a different face that you put on for different circumstances, depending on the people that you meet in any given day? What if we were to do an exercise tonight, and I was to hand out paper - blank paper - and we were to make masks, and I asked you to make a mask: on the outside of the mask you portray the face that you show to everybody else, but on the inside of the mask you design what you think about yourself, what you see? For many of us it will be very different - how do you see yourself? Why do you see yourself that way?
Dan Sneed, who has written a marvellous book on 'The Transforming Power of a New Identity' (I highly recommend it), he says there are some contributing factors in all of our lives as to how we view ourselves. I'm going to give you them here. First of all, there is our parental relationship, our parents, Mum and Dad, if we had them or didn't have them, or whatever guardians brought us up. We have touched on this in previous times, but probably our parents - whether they were there are not - have been the greatest influence on our formation as children. What we've got to realise is that a child often discovers what kind of person they are, and how they feel about themselves, from their parents and how their parents react to them. Now, sometimes we can blame everything on our parents, and I think we have to be very careful here. We have to honour our father and mother, as Scripture says, and we can't blame everything on mums and dads. It is true to say that often how we perceive a thing is not actually the truth of the matter, though it is our reality and it needs to be dealt with, we can't always say that it is fact that mums and dads have done what we have perceived them to have done. Nevertheless, whether it's just perception or actual reality, often forgiveness is needed for our mums and dads, and our guardians and the people who have brought us up - because often they have affected us through their behaviours, reactions to us, the things that they have said about us and over us. They have moulded us into a certain image, and that's how we can view ourselves.
Another way that influences our self-image are the experiences of our lives, particularly the repeated experiences, repeated patterns - if you like - of particular circumstances that come into all our lives. Let me give you an example: from childhood we may have experienced rejection. I have said it here before, that the devil, rather than hitting ten nails once, will rather hit one nail ten times. If he can see rejection, or abuse, or some other aspect of brokenness in your life, he will perpetuate that type of behaviour through circumstances to bring continually rejection, control, or humiliation - or whatever else it might be - along your path; so that you will be influenced by it to such an extent that you will view yourself and understand yourself through those lenses of life's experiences that are repeated.
Another influence is unattainable standards - any perfectionists here tonight? Well, all of us, probably, have had unattainable standards to some degree or another - but particularly perfectionists. Those of us who have been brought up, and have had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home, this can be a particular problem for us - we can become introspective, and we're always self-analysing, and trying to achieve a very high standard that, frankly, can't be found. Now what that breeds in any of us who engage in unattainable standards is inferiority, because none of us is perfect. None of us can reach the 100% - maybe you can in an exam, but not where this is concerned. Perfection doesn't exist in humanity! So we get inferior, and feel inferiority, and that then in turn will bring along behind it, inevitably, in a train, it will bring a carriage of shame. So what you've got is an unattainable standard, perfectionism, then you've got inferiority because you're failing, and then shame comes through that failure. Dan Sneed puts it like this, listen carefully: 'Shame is the result of a deep sense of inferiority. It tells me that there is something deeply wrong with me' - anybody feel like that? - 'something deeply wrong with me that cannot be fixed. Shame declares, 'I cannot change, I am hopeless''. Then he goes on to say that what happens then is: constant and repeated failures seem to confirm this conclusion of ourselves, that I'm a failure and I cannot be fixed. If you start believing that, that's the way you will be. Proverbs 23 verse 7 says: 'As a man', or a woman for that matter, 'thinks in his heart, so is he'. So if you have this standard of ethics, this high bar that you're never going to reach, nobody can reach - maybe it was given to you, maybe it was inherited by parents or from a religious persuasion, or maybe it's your own set of Ten Commandments that you've etched out of stone for yourself - and you're constantly failing; you will have inferiority, you will have shame, and then the cycle of constant repeated failure will cause you to go deeper down until you despair and think: 'There is no hope for me!'.
A fourth way that we are influenced in our self-image is unwise comparisons. Do you ever do that? Do you ever compare yourself with anyone else? We always do! It's not often good, I'm sure. Paul never did that, or at least if he did he caught himself on. In 2 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 12, the NIV put it like this: 'We dare not classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise'. There you go! Paul says it is utter foolishness to compare yourself with another - but how many of us do that, even as Christians? We look at another person in the church, or maybe it's a Christian leader or some hero that we have from Christian biography, and we say to ourselves: 'Wow! I want to be like them!'. Now that's not necessarily a bad thing, Paul said: 'Follow me as I follow Christ'. But what he's saying is that it's utter foolishness to try to mimic another, and try to be like another at the expense of actually allowing Jesus to live His life through you - that's what the Christian life is really all about.
I believe in the spiritual gifts, I believe that we need to be encouraged on to spiritual maturity, I believe that all of these gifts are given to the body of Christ in our modern day and age. But even in circles - or maybe we might say particularly in circles - where there is a belief in those gifts, there can be a great inferiority among people who don't have them, or haven't got there yet. They can be made to be very small, uninitiated, out of the circle. Now that is wrong, and we need to desire earnestly the best gifts, but we ought to never belittle anyone, or never make someone feel that they are out of the club because they don't have the particular abilities that you might have, or I. I wonder is that the way you feel tonight? Well, I want to release you from any of those burdens, because - listen, and you need to hear this from God, this is marvellous. I didn't hear any 'Amens' when I said when God made me He only made one me - you should either be happy for me, or glad for yourself that there is only one of me, it warrants an 'Amen'! But He broke the mould when He made me and when He made you, and listen carefully: the best you you can be is when you are you. Listen: the best you God can make of you is when you are you with the Holy Spirit in and upon you. You will never do great exploits for God if you're trying to mimic another or be like another, even with the Holy Spirit on you - you cannot be like another. Isn't that tremendously freeing and liberating? Isn't it? You know, it allows you to look at other people's gifts and abilities and actually appreciate them, rather than covet them. Do you do that? Do I?
Kurt Cobain - anybody know who Kurt Cobain was? He was the lead singer of 'Nirvana', and we believe he killed himself - shot himself with a revolver. Yet he made this very profound statement: 'Pretending to be someone you're not is a waste of the person you are'. That's amazing, and I just wonder was he searching for who he really was in his life - he certainly hadn't found satisfaction or peace when he took his own life. I think that's amazing, pretending to be someone you're not is a waste of the person you are. God made you you - eh? He knit you together as you are. A lot of folk probably in our gathering tonight, if you're normal, you will be eaten up with self-hatred - that's normal in a fallen humanity, because we are believing the lies of the enemy about how we ought to see ourselves, rather than what God says about us in His intended creation and in His redemption of us through Jesus on the cross! We're not seeing ourselves the way God says we are! Will you stop trying to be somebody else? Would you make that a resolution tonight at the beginning of our season - I know it's not a New Year, but it might as well be for us - make it a resolution, a 'Stables' resolution: 'I'm not going to try to be like anybody else any more. I will follow people's example, yes, I will be edified by how they follow Christ and live godly lives, but I'm stopping right now pretending to be someone else, I'm going to be who God made me with the Holy Spirit in me'.
Another fifth influence which is a huge one on how we have formed our self-image is self-talk. There are so many bubbles there on the screen of the things that we might call ourselves - negative self-talk: that you're worthless, or ugly, or stupid, or a failure, or you're slow, or a loser, or useless, or pathetic. If we're honest, a lot of us constantly, on a daily basis, are reciting these things. They might be things that were said over us by another, but we have agreed with them and started to say them over ourselves. It is definitely the case that the enemy is saying these things over our lives, and when we say them we enter into agreement with him, and we give him an authority to oppress our minds.
Now I've been using the terms tonight 'self-image' and 'identity' interchangeably. That's a wee bit naughty. It's usually how we see things - your identity is your self-image - but does anybody know the difference between self-image and identity, true identity? Silence. You don't want to feel stupid or a failure, do you! Here it is, OK: self-image is the perception, the way you see yourself, got it? Identity is the way you truly are, if it's true identity it's the way you truly are. Now to give you an example, excuse me ladies, here on the right - this isn't anybody here by the way, this is a computer graphic, it's not a real person - here on the right you've got, what have you got? This is a mirror, by the way: on the right you've got identity, this is who the guy really is; but in the mirror you've got his self-image, the way he sees himself - OK? So one is reality and fact, and the other is perception. Normally it's reversed in the sense that we tend to see ourselves more negatively, but listen: what is more important than how you see yourself - this is vital - is what you think about God, OK? That's much more important than how you see yourself, because what you think about God will determine what you think about how you He thinks about you. Do you understand? The view that you have of the Almighty - and I want to ask you tonight: is there a difference between your perception of how God is with you - and maybe the way you think God is with you is the way that other people have been with you, the way that your friends, your peers, your family have been with you, the way that you've been with yourself, how harsh you are on yourself; and you think that's the way God is. That could be perception, but it's not reality - and therefore, because it's not reality, it's not your true identity.
What is the truth? Well, the truth is, if you're a Christian, you have a reborn identity, you have a new identity - that's a pun on a film just in case you missed it, but there you are. You are a new creation. Now listen, if you're not a Christian here tonight, you need to become one right now, right now - this is the reason why you were born! There is a God-shaped void in your heart. You will never be satisfied, you will never be fulfilled unless you have God in your life through Jesus Christ, His Son. So tonight is the night, you confess your failures, your witnesses, your sins, how you've broken God's laws - and you are damaged piece of marble, we all are, but you've got value; so much value that the Gospel teaches us that the precious blood of Jesus was shed in order to redeem you and buy you back from the slavery of sin. So if you want to know how much you mean to God, you mean every drop of the blood of His Son! That's how much He loves you, how much He was willing to pay to purchase your salvation! So why would you not come, why would you not enter this adventure of new life in Jesus Christ? You see, this is the message of the good news of Jesus: that you are now a new creation when you trust Jesus Christ. Yet so many Christians are not living out of their reborn identity, they are living out of this broken picture of how they have always seen themselves. Yes they know, maybe, they've trusted Christ as their own and personal Saviour, but they're not living in the reality of 2 Corinthians 5:17, which says: 'Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new'.
The NIV puts it: 'The new creation has come; the old one has gone, the new is here'. Now that has often been used over the years to infer that once to become a Christian everything changes - haha! If only it did! That does not happen. Some things do change, some things - even if they are small - ought to change to a degree, but not everything changes. That's not what this means, this is talking about your identity - not the actual behaviour in your life. This is vital, because it's understanding your identity that will effectively change your behaviour. Do you remember me saying to you - I don't know when, I've said that many times, it's wonderful - Neil Anderson says: 'How you behave does not determine who you are, who you are determines how you behave'. Right? Think about it. How you behave, the things that you do and say, do not determine who you are. So if you fall, if you sin, if you fail, that does not make you a wicked sinner, a fallen creature, and a failure. If you are in Christ, you need to see yourself in Christ - who you are will determine how you behave. That's why, in the book of Ephesians, Paul takes three chapters to explain who you are, and then he starts saying in chapter 4: 'Now, walk worthy of the calling wherewith you are called. Do not grieve the Spirit, and stand against the wiles of the devil'. The behaviour comes out of the identity.
I want to ask you tonight: do you view yourself as a new creation in Jesus Christ? Is that the vantage point, your new identity? God sees you in Christ, and when He looks at His Son He says: 'You are My Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased'. Paul said in Galatians 2:20: 'I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me'. The old Paul, the old David has died, the old you - if you're a child of God, and you've come to the foot of the cross, repented of your sins, believed the Gospel, the old you has died; so stop breathing new life into it! Stop doing CPR on your old person and reviving it, and reckon it to be dead. Reckon you to be a new creature, alive through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the gift of eternal life - do you believe that? It will affect the way you behave if you do. Colossians 3: 'If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God'. So if you've got a mental stronghold formed by lies, telling you things about yourself image that are coming either from your upbringing, or your peers, or life circumstances, or just the voice of the devil, you will not be living out of your new created image - but you've got to listen to what God says.
Your new creation, that's your reborn identity. The second thing - and I could say a whole load of things, we don't have time - but you're a child of God now. If you're a true Christian, you're a child of God. John 1 and verse 12 says: 'To as many as received Jesus Christ, to them He gave the authority to become the children of God, even to as many as believed in His name'. Now that's just wonderful! All you have to do is repent and believe, and God gives you the authority to call God your 'Abba Father', and you His child, His son or daughter - that's just incredible! You've come right into God's family. You're not coming by works or merits of your own, or self-achievements or performance, you're coming because you've believed what He said, and you've confessed your sins, and you're just coming to Him in faith - you're a child of God! Is that the way you see yourself? Do you have an intimate relationship with God as your 'Abba Father'?
Thirdly, your reborn identity, your sins are forgiven and you have received eternal life. We take that for granted in evangelical circles, but that is just incredible! Listen to John 5:24: 'Most assuredly', Jesus said, 'he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has', present personal possession, 'everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment' - shall not come into judgement - 'but has passed from death into life'. Hallelujah! You've got forgiveness and eternal life - that's how you ought to view yourself! More than that, you've been delivered from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God. Now, you might still be struggling with darkness, that's the whole process of sanctification and deliverance and Christian experience; but your position has changed. The authority has been taken away from the enemy, you're now a new creation - Colossians 1:13-14 says: 'God has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins'. You're in another kingdom, and I don't care tonight how you are struggling with the enemy, it is only his lies that are keeping you bound and those can be dealt with through the power of the name of Christ and the blood of Jesus - because, if you're a true child of God, you're from one kingdom of darkness into another; and if you're not a child of God that's what you need tonight. You need to be transferred from under the enemy's authority into God's, and then we can deal with the stuff.
Isn't it wonderful to have a reborn identity like this? I'll give you a fifth thing, and this is the last - there are so many things we could say - but you are accepted by God. Some of you are struggling with that right away. You are accepted. You've believed a doctrine of demons that you need to be up to a certain standard, or a certain requirement of holiness, in order to be accepted. That's not what the Bible teaches. It tells us in Colossians 1 verses 19 to 22, listen: 'For it pleased the Father that in Jesus all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight'. That's what the Bible says about you if you're a born-again child of God! You are accepted, and you belong to God.
I hope some of you are getting it in your subconsciousness, because it's not showing on some of your faces, that's for sure! I've already mentioned Neil Anderson, and I would highly recommend all of his works, 'Bondage Breaker', 'Victory Over Darkness', and there are whole myriad of other books that he has written since then. But there's a little bookmark, and I have produced it, and Brenda has very kindly run them for all of you tonight - hopefully there are enough of them, if not we can get more - they are just on the table at the back. It outlines who I am in Christ, and it's just incredible. Some of you may have encountered this before, but if you've got a problem with your identity and you're struggling with self-image, this is amazing because he gives you scriptures and then a confession (we talked about declaring things) about who I am in Christ. There is a section 'I am accepted. I am a child of God, I am Christ's friend. I have been justified, I am united with the Lord, one spirit. I am bought with a price, I belong to God. I'm a member of Christ's body, I am a saint. I have been adopted as God's child. I have access to God through the Holy Spirit. I have been redeemed and forgiven. I am complete in Christ' - that's just the section about being accepted. Then there's one 'I am secure. I am free forever from condemnation. I am assured that all works together for good. I am free from any charge against me. I cannot be separated from the love of God. I am established, anointed, sealed by God. I am hidden with Christ in God. I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected. I am a citizen of heaven. I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind. I can find grace and mercy in time of need. I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me'. 'I am significant', that's the third section, 'I am the salt and light of the earth. I am a branch of the True Vine, a channel of His life. I have been chosen, appointed to bear fruit. I am a personal witness of Christ. I am God's Temple. I am a minister of reconciliation for God. I am God's co-worker. I am seated with Christ in the Heavenly Realm. I am God's workmanship. I may approach God with freedom and confidence. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me'. This is only dipping your toe in the edge of the ocean of who we are in Christ. Now, you've got one of those, you can take it home and pray over it, meditate over it, memorise the scriptures. Get it into your heart, renew your mind with the mind of Christ, according to what God says about you and your reborn identity.
Now, this is key: a psychiatrist or self-help book, or some motivational life coach or guru, might be able to make you feel a bit better about yourself - but only Jesus can make you a new creature. Only Jesus Christ can change your identity. Now I want to leave you tonight, practically, with a strategy for how to come into line with your true identity in Jesus, rather than the self-image that you might have. Again, I get this from the very helpful book by Dan Sneed. The first thing he says is that you've got to identify - it would be good to write these four things down - you've got to identify something. You've got to identify the strongholds of the mind that are built of lies that have formed a belief system in your life. Are you with me? So the self-talk for instance, when you say things like: 'I'm a failure' or whatever - that is a lie, and you've got to understand it as a lie according to how God sees you, who you really are in Christ. So you need to identify: what is the lie that I have believed about myself, or about my circumstances or whatever, or about God Himself and how He deals with me as His child? Where is the lie? You identify it, because out of it has come a belief system - do you realise that? Strongholds of the mind built on lies engender belief systems that we actually behave out of, we live out.
Now I want to quickly show you this from Judges 6, if you're still there, in the life of Gideon. This is very interesting, I wish I had the time to deal with Gideon, it's just amazing. He struggled with fear right throughout his early biography here in Scripture. You remember he kept asking God to do things to prove Himself to him. The missing verses that we're not going to read here tonight talk about him putting an offering out, and asking God to send fire down from heaven. God receives the offering, and later on you know the whole fleece thing that he does with God - even though God has spoken to him and given the assurance of His word, he just finds it hard to believe. Isn't it wonderful that God condescends to a guy like that, and me? He condescends to our weaknesses. Here's what I want you to see: you may not know this, but Gideon's Dad was the priest of the pagan god Baal and Ashtoreth, which is really sex worship in the Canaanite world. Gideon's Dad had a shrine in his backyard to Baal and Ashtoreth, and God commands Gideon - the fearful guy - in verse 25 this is what He tells him to do: 'It came to pass the same night that the LORD said to Gideon, 'Take your father's young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; and build an altar to the LORD your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down'. This is incredible - you know, 'Go and tear down your Dad's Cathedral in the backyard', OK? God asks us to do strange things at times. He is afraid, he's the last fellow you would expect to do this - and, you know, God is so gracious, and it's even a wee bit humorous: Gideon goes in the dead of night when nobody is watching, hopefully nobody would notice until they got up in the morning. He tears down these big idols and Ashtoreth pole, and he sacrifices these bulls, his father's livestock unto the Living God. But do you know what he's doing? He's tearing down strongholds, do you understand? He's identifying the lies that he has believed, that probably have fed into his fears. He had a view of God that God wasn't going to come through for them; he had a view that the gods of their enemies were maybe greater than the Living God. God hadn't been around for a while, that's what he says: 'If You're with us, where are all the miracles that our fathers told us of? Where are You, Lord, if You're really with us?'.
So what you need to do is identify the strongholds, the lies that have formed a belief system; and the second thing you need to do after identifying them, is confront the strongholds with the truth of God's word in the power of the Spirit. Do you know how to do that? Well, you need a Bible, OK? And to get it into your head you need to read it, and you need to meditate upon it. Now the Holy Spirit can bring out verses that we maybe haven't even learned, but that's very rare thing and I wouldn't be relying on that - it's input/output, it's basic computers, which I know nothing about - but to get output you need input, don't you? You need programming, so program your mind with the word of God and you will find that that will jettison strongholds of the enemy, so that when you identify a lie that pops into your head some day - maybe all day you're receiving these - that you confront it in the power of the Spirit with the truth of the word. So identify the strongholds, the lies; confront it with the power of the word through the Spirit; and thirdly, replace - identify, confront, and replace the lies with the truth.
Now, I want to be really practical so that you can understand this. Here are a few examples, and some of you may have seen this slide - but you say, and God says. You might say: 'I can't figure it out', God says 'I will direct your steps' (Proverbs 3:5-6) - do you see that? So when the lie of the enemy comes in that will bring a stronghold into your mind that, 'I can never figure anything out, I'm so indecisive and I can never make anything of my life', you replace it with the truth. 'I'm too tired', Matthew 11 says 'I will give you rest'. 'It's impossible', Luke 18, 'All things are possible', God says. 'Nobody loves me', 'I love you', God says. 'I can't forgive myself', 'I forgive you', God says. 'It's not worth it', 'It is worth it, for all things work together for good'. 'I'm not smart enough'; God says, 'I'll give you wisdom'. 'I'm not able'; God says, 'I am able'. 'I can't go on', 'My grace is sufficient', says the Lord. 'I can't do it', 'You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you'. 'I can't manage it', 'I will supply all your need'. 'I'm afraid', 'I have not given you fear'. 'I feel alone', 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'. You see, you identify the stronghold that has been built on the foundation of a lie, you confront it with the truth in the power of the Spirit, and then you replace it with the truth - that's what the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, the rhema word of God in Ephesians chapter 6 is. It's not the whole Bible, it's the word of God that the Spirit gives you in any given moment of temptation and trial to replace the lies of the enemy. That's why, when Jesus was in the temptation in Matthew chapter 4 in the wilderness, three times He said 'It is written, it is written, it is written' to the devil. Now you'd think if you were Jesus you wouldn't need to quote Scripture, would you? But He did, He did, and Deuteronomy is what He quoted - how many of you have memorised Deuteronomy? I haven't either, just in case you think I have - but Deuteronomy, three times! But that was the rhema word that ran the enemy through, and defeated the tempter.
Are you with me? Identify the stronghold that is built on the lie; confront it in the power of the Spirit with the truth; and replace the lies with the word of God. Then the fourth thing is: guard the truth. This is important, because a lot of people go through this process, but they don't guard the truth in their lives, and they expose their mind to all sorts of confusion in this world which we are in. Satan is the prince of the power of the air, and I think a lot of the times he runs the airwaves. We bless the media, and we want to see God's Kingdom influence in it, but we've got to be realistic that the enemy is pulling the strings of a lot of what is being perpetuated right throughout our society, and people are drinking it in. But Christians, you cannot do that! You cannot, with unfiltered minds, just receive things from the world like everybody else does and think you're not going to be affected. So you've got to guard the truth, and that will mean submitting yourself to God, resisting the devil on a regular basis - and eventually he will get the message. But I want to say this, because this is important - we will have prayer ministry tonight, we have seen God do amazing things, and some of you can testify yourselves to the things God has done in your lives at the nights in The Stables, and we give Him glory for that - but listen: healing doesn't usually happen overnight, particularly healing of the heart. There can be a really quick, swift, accelerated moment that happens in prayer ministry, but that often has to be worked out in a process. None of us are fixed overnight, none of us - and if that's what you're looking for, you're looking for the wrong thing. Now there is great healing and great power in prayer ministry through the cross, the resurrection of Jesus, I don't want to underestimate that - but I want you to be realistic: there is a battle on. You can't just get some prayer, and somebody to wave some charismatic magic wand over you, and you go out and you're fixed and you'll never have a problem with the devil, temptation, sin, feeling bad about yourself, a down day again. If that's what you're expecting, forget about it - that's not life, that's not the life we are called to live. We can be victorious over those things, but we've got to guard the truth and fight the good fight.
I want to ask you quickly, before I bring everything to a close - and especially Christians here tonight - where do you get your identity? You might be able to say 'amen' to all of that, but there are some of you here tonight - and this is going to hit hard home - some of you get your identity from what you do, rather than who you are, especially some of you who are in Christian work full-time (whatever that means, I don't like that phrase, but you know what I mean). Turn with me to John 13 quickly, this is a marvellous passage of our Lord just before He goes to the cross on the night in which He was betrayed, and we read in verse 3: 'Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands', now watch that - Jesus at this moment, He always did, but particularly at this moment, He knows that the Father has given everything into His hands - 'and that He had come from God', He knows His origin. In other words, He knows His identity, that He is God the Son, 'and was going to God'. He has His destiny sorted, He knows where He's going, Yes, He has to go via the cross, and that's not going to be easy - but He knows where He's going. 'He rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded'. He washes the disciples' feet, and He takes the form of a lowly servant - and Peter balks at it: 'You'll never wash my feet!'. But how can He do such a lowly thing? Here's why: because He knew who He was. He was secure in His identity - and listen: that's where service ought to come from, not trying to be somebody, trying to achieve a reputation. Jesus was able to do the small thing, the lowly thing. It says that everybody else walked past the bowl, all the disciples walked up the stairs past the bowl, nobody wanted to wash anybody else's feet. Jesus washed their feet, why? Because He was secure in who He is with God, He had His identity sorted.
Now listen: in the temptation we mentioned already in Matthew chapter 4, what did the devil say to Jesus? 'If You are the Son of God make these stones into bread'. What was the ground of his attack? His identity: 'If You're really the Son of God, do this'. The enemy is always coming to make us doubt our identity. If you identify with what you do, or you identify with your sin and your constant failure, or you identify with the guilt of the past - do you know what you're doing? You're agreeing with how the enemy sees you. You're like Joshua the high priest in Zechariah chapter 3, where he is standing in filthy garments, and it says that Satan came to oppose him: 'And the Lord said to Satan, 'The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?'. Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, 'Take away the filthy garments from him'. And to him He said, 'See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes''. That's the way you need to see yourself tonight, whatever you've done, whatever you've done. Yes, there might be consequences - but some of you are still seeing yourself as 'I'm only a sinner saved by grace'. Nice tune, not great lyrics - because you're not only a sinner saved by grace, you're a child of the living God, you're divine royalty. You're better than that, you're a joint heir, an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus - everything He gets, you get. That's not only a sinner - but if you see yourself as 'only a sinner', what do you think you're going to be? Only a sinner.
How do you see yourself tonight? Michelangelo's David in the hands of the master sculptor, even with a damaged piece of stone, in the master's hands it becomes a masterpiece. Let me ask you again: what do you see? What do you see? What have you seen? What do others see, that maybe has influenced you to see? But you have seen tonight what God sees, how He sees you, how He values you. This is Ephesians 2 verse 10 in the New Living Translation, this is marvellous: 'For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago'. You - believe it or not, it doesn't really matter - you are God's masterpiece.
Let's pray. Now there are some of you here tonight, and God has already done a work - I believe that, I really do. I believe that there have been strongholds shaken in our midst, to the foundation. In faith, while every head is bowed and eye closed, before I pray any prayers or lead you at all, in faith - I would ask you to bow your heads and close your eyes - in faith I would ask you to raise your hand if God has really spoken to you about your identity tonight, and He has touched you. God bless. Just quickly put your hand up, God bless you. Their hands going up all around, praise God. Isn't that wonderful? God can do all sorts of things here tonight, and we're going to ask Him to do all sorts of things - but we're going to start with the reason why we're here tonight, particularly this identity. I want you, where you're sitting, if you haven't already done it, in the quietness of prayer right now I want you to identify that lie that has given you a wrong self-image - OK? An untrue identity - I want you to identify that lie, and I want you, where you're sitting just right now, from your lips (the person beside you doesn't have to hear), but just take it on your lips. Just say: 'I renounce the lie that...', just say that, 'I renounce the lie that I am... whatever', put it in your own words. That is you confronting that stronghold. Now what I want you to do is, I want you to say: 'And I replace that lie with the truth that...'. Now, I'm not going to give you it, the truth, because the Holy Spirit is going to give you it just now. If you listen to Him, if you listen to Him in the quietness right now, you give Him that lie, and you say: 'Lord, give me the truth, give me that sword of the Spirit to slay this lie'.
Just do it now - wait and I'll ask the Lord: 'Father, we ask You in Jesus' name, through the Holy Spirit, to give people the truth that replaces the lies that have formulated their self-image. Would You give them the truth, put into their hand right now, Holy Spirit, put into their hand right now that dagger for that particular lie, to slay the dragon right now'. I believe He is giving people all over the place the truth. Now you confess that, you now say - you've renounced the lie - you say: 'I confess the truth that I am... whatever He tells you you are'. Now if you need a bit of help with this, we can help you after, but I believe God is moving in our midst. Now ask the Lord, just you say: 'Lord, help me to guard this truth in my life and not give way to the enemy's lies any more'.
Now you might have a lot of lies, work your way through them there, we're not in a hurry. You work your way through them there, whatever those lies are that the Lord has put His finger on tonight. Now while you're praying that through, let me address a couple of other types of people. Is there anyone here, and you've never become a Christian, and your identity is still with the old creation, the kingdom of darkness? You've never become a child of God, and you don't truly know your sins forgiven and God as your Father, and on your way to heaven, and you would like to be reborn tonight into the new creation. Is there anyone, where you are, with heads bowed and eyes closed, you would just raise your hand and say: 'I want to be a Christian tonight' - is there anyone, just where you're sitting? I want to give you an opportunity, is there anyone before we move on? We always want to give an opportunity for people to trust the Lord.
Is there what we would call 'a backslider', someone who has really walked away from the Lord and you're not living out of your new created identity? You've turned your back on it, but you want to step back in now under the authority of the Lord Jesus - God bless you. Is there anyone else? You can put your hand down now. Is there anyone else? You've not been walking with the Lord the way you know you ought. God bless you. Anyone else before we move on? Quickly. OK. If you folk will pray with me now, OK? If there is somebody who wants to be a Christian and you hadn't the courage to put your hand up, that's OK. Just pray with me now, and say: 'O God, I come to You in the name of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ'. Backsliders, you can pray this too. 'I come to You in the name of Your Son, the Lord Jesus. I confess my sin before You, I repent of those sins believing that Jesus died for me. I ask You to cleanse me, save me, forgive me. Make me Your child. I confess You Lord of my life. I renounce Satan and all his works, and I ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill me that I might live a life of glory to Your name'. God bless you, now tell someone afterwards. If you need a bit of help, seek it out.
Just before we wrap up the meeting tonight: God is a good God, and He wants you to understand His Fatherhood. Maybe you have been living out of a wrong self-image, and that has skewed the way you see God. You need to know tonight that God loves you, and that God wants to bless you. Now like any good parent, He doesn't give us everything we're looking. Sometimes that's what we want, but that's a very foolish father that does that, gives us everything we're looking when we're looking it. Maybe there's something here tonight that is really breaking your heart, something you really need. Listen carefully: it could be financial, it could be spiritual, it could be emotional, it could be mental, it could be physical - OK? That just about covers everything. It could be another person's issues in the family. Would you be willing, with eyes closed and heads bowed, would you be willing to stand to your feet in the presence of God and engage with God just in the quietness from your own heart and say: 'Lord, I'm bringing this to You, knowing that You are a good Father; and I give it to You'. OK? 'I give it to You, knowing that You are a good Father. I ask You, Lord, to...' - and you fill in the gap, OK? 'I ask You, Lord, to...', and ask Him to do whatever you need you need Him to do. If it's a touch of healing, if it's deliverance, if it's an issue in your business or your work or your family or whatever. Right now just say: 'Lord, I'm not treating You in a presumptuous way, but I know that Your heart is for me and my identity is in You. I'm asking You, You know this thing, I'm asking You, Lord, to do...' - and you fill in the gap.
Now Lord, I just pray that You will meet people right now, You will meet people right now. You will touch them in that area where they need answered prayer. Lord, that You will touch minds tonight, and You will break shackles on minds, that You will break down strongholds, that You will demolish them, Lord - that the demons that are hiding behind those lies will not be able to stand, and will run. Lord, I ask that You will come and bring emotional healing deep within the heart, deep in the spirit, right down deep to the deep places we cannot see. Lord, that You will bring real healing, that You will show people - drop down in them a sense of being, worth, and true identity in Christ; that they will know that they are accepted and have a true sense of worth and being in You. Lord, deliver people from performance, deliver them from religion, deliver them from legalism tonight. Lord, I pray that You will bring blessing in abundance to those who are struggling financially tonight; to those who are struggling in their work with stress or some kind of controlling influence - Lord, that You will give them wisdom and release them into freedom there. Lord, I ask You will touch bodies tonight. I ask that You will touch bodies where there is disease, that it will go in the name of Jesus; where there is pain, that pain will go in the name of Jesus; where there is dysfunction that there will be creative order in the name of Jesus; where there is curse that there will be blessing in the name of the Lord Jesus - that You will break every curse, Father, in the name of Christ; whether it's on the spirit, the soul, or the body. By His stripes we were healed, and we know that full healing will be one day, we know that - but, Lord, we want a bit of it now, we want to see the taste of heavenly things now to testify that You are a good, good God, and that Your Gospel is to come and heal the brokenhearted, to mend those who are wounded, to set at liberty the captives, and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Lord, would You meet with these folk right now, would You touch them right now; that people would be actually feeling the sense of God on them, and that a work is being done. We thank You, Lord for what You've done, what You are doing, and what You will do the rest of this evening. We pray that throughout the rest of the night, whether we're having a cup of tea or a wee chat, or whether we're deep in prayer with people, or whether we're just sitting on the chair savouring the presence of God; that we will still be aware that You are with us. Like You said to Gideon - no matter about who you are, where you're from, what your tribe is like, or how weak you might feel: 'I am with you', says the Lord. 'I am with you to deliver you', says the Lord.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Stables in Enniskillen by David Legge. It was transcribed from the first recording in his 'Deeper Healing' series, entitled "'Who Am I?' - Finding True Identity" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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