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About this series
Discover Your True Self
How to Silence the Lies of Your Past and Actually Experience Who God Says You Are
Who are you? Who says so? You? Your family? Your friends? From the first two chapters of the book of Ephesians, Chip helps you discover who God says you are as a believer in Christ. Understanding your position, the freedom, and the power you possess as a child of the Most-High God, enables you to move beyond the struggles and the uncertainty we all experience to living an amazing life of peace and assurance. It equips you to serve others with humility and patience and it empowers you to forgive and share with lavish generosity. People will wonder what your story is and with the help of this series, you'll be able to answer with confidence.More from this series
I don’t know what you pray about. Right? I know for most of us, prayer can be a challenge, right?
When I am stuck or even when I am not stuck, one of the things I pray for me, I pray for my wife, I pray for all my kids, I pray for the elders, I pray for our staff, and I pray for my friends.
And God answers this prayer of, Father, as I think about my grown boys and my daughter, and my grandkids, Father, I am asking You, will You give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation into who You really are? Would You help them to grasp in their inner man and in their hearts how much You love them? Would You help them to understand that You are their Father, that You have adopted them, that You have redeemed them, that You have sealed them. God, would You take the truths that they are learning and would You help them to grasp who you really are? Because you know why? When God answers that prayer, guess what, it deals with shame, it deals with fear, it deals with rejection, it deals with so much junk.
And so, when Paul is wanting the Ephesian church to live out their faith, what does He do? What is His game plan to get it from their head to their heart? What did he do? The answer is prayer. Why don’t you say it together? He prayed. Pray that for you. God will answer that prayer.
Then third, we need to believe three historical facts. Fact number one is: my past no longer defines me. Right? Verse 18. He said, “I want you to know about the hope of your calling.” It is certain. Your past doesn’t define you anymore. In fact, the psalmist put it this way: “As far as the east is from the west, so far as He removed our transgressions from us.”
For many of you in this room and for a lot of people watching and listening, I will tell you this, whether they have been a Christian six months, six years, or six decades, your past still defines you. And part of it is because you have never let that shame come to the surface, been honest about it, and let God work in it.
I have two heroes. A number of heroes, but two people that are really big heroes in my life that I have gotten to know. One is a lady named Valerie Hill. And another is a lady named Theresa Ingram. I know one a lot better than the other.
Valerie Hill had an abortion. For many years, she kept it a secret. Valerie Hill realized it can’t be a secret. It was a mistake. A mistake for which she was forgiven.
Then she recruited a team. And there are hundreds, thousands of women, thousands and thousands of women whose lives are completely different, who have been loved and healed. There are thousands of babies that are alive because instead of living in her shame, she said, “I am going to take the shame and God’s forgiveness – that’s not who I am. I am His daughter and He wants to turn my shame into His fame and He has made me a trophy on His mantel. He has given me hope; I can give hope to others.”
My wife lived with tremendous shame. She was abandoned in her first marriage by an unbeliever who ran off with another woman and found herself with two small babies and someone cared enough to verbally share the gospel. Her boss loved her and every day told her, in the workplace, “Jesus loves you. He is going to help you. Jesus loves you.”
She ended up hearing that for a year, went to a little church where he was a lay preacher, listened to him preach and it was like – nothing. She is walking out to the car. Little Mrs. McGrady, like, eighty-five years old. She is opening the car, putting these two babies in the car, “Hey, young lady?” “Yeah.” “Do you want to be saved?” She said, “Yes.” “Let’s go back in that church and ask God to come into your life.” She did. The whole church did. She knelt at the altar. That lady didn’t know her. That lady was bold. She was confident. My wife came to Christ.
You know where she felt shame? I was in seminary and we had another seminary student tell my wife, “I didn’t know they let people like you in here.” I remember at our first church, she didn’t tell anybody. She wouldn’t tell anyone her background: “I don’t want to go through that again.” She felt like a second-class citizen.
She felt so shameful – my two older boys, are you ready for this? We have a picture in our house and they were in our wedding. So, two little four or five-year-olds, four-year-olds, four-and-a-half-year-olds. And they are in our wedding and we have a wedding picture. Well, Ryan gets to be, he’s our third son, he gets to be six years old and he asked this classic question, “Hey, Mommy, how come I didn’t get to be in the wedding like Eric and Jason?”
And she realized her shame was so deep she was afraid to tell our own son and we happened to go through a thing at Dallas Seminary where, thank God for Bill Lawrence, he helped her understand: you know what? Hey, the Church may shame you; God doesn’t. You are His precious daughter.”
And she told our son and then when we went to Santa Cruz Bible Church, the first thing she did is she gave her testimony and God opened up a world. In fact, I think about it now. I was thinking about these cards and I talk about part of her journey – she was damaged in multiple ways. And part of this renewing your mind, these cards, is what she did thirty-some years ago.
Then she did them with our daughter and then one day I was talking to the guys at Living on the Edge – “I think there are a lot of women who are struggling.” So, we put one of her series on about this. Then they made these cards. Our chief operating officer said, “Chip, I don’t want to make you feel bad, but we have never had anything, any response like these cards.
This is a raw nerve. Her shame became God’s fame and people have found hope and love, not because she has it all together, but they found hope and love because she was willing to say, “Yes, this is a part of my past. Part were my mistakes. Part were mistakes that people did to me. But I am a daughter of the King. He is my Father. I am redeemed. I am adopted. I am secure. This is who I really am, so I can share that. I don’t have – there’s no pretense.”
Can I ask you? What are your secrets? Where are you still hiding? Is your past still dominating you? You might write in your notes: I am free in Christ.
My question is: will you activate that freedom? It’s heavy, isn’t it? Literally, as I said that, it doesn’t happen very often, but it’s like I sensed the Spirit of God go, Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo. Tchoo.
And a shameful something about so many of you came to the surface. And the moment you had was, Would I be willing, in a safe place, to go public with this and turn my shame into God’s fame and let Him use my hurt, either done to me or my mistake to help someone else?
We are going to learn in a minute that that’s where the power that you already have, power is perfected in weakness.
Second fact: my future happiness is guaranteed. Think about that. Well, where do you get that? The riches of His inheritance. You are His child! You’re His treasure. It’s guaranteed. You may have ups, you may have downs, you may have some big mistakes, your kids may not turn out quite right, you may never get married, you may have a business that grows and then you may go down the tubes. You can, you may have a big failure, but here’s – can I tell you something? You’re here right now – hold it right here – you die, you meet Jesus, you are His treasure, you get a new body in a perfect environment.
You will experience the absolute ultimate happiness. Nothing and no one can ever – your future is a guaranteed happiness. What if you lived your life as though, I can’t fail. I don’t have to worry about what people think. I don’t have to worry about risk. My future happiness is guaranteed by my heavenly Father so I am going to live my life instead of protect myself.
Let me give you a glimpse into your future. Inheritance and God’s future inheritance. “But it is written,” 1 Corinthians 2:9, “things which eyes have not seen, which ear has not heart,” – are you ready for this? “which hasn’t entered into the heart of man.” It is so good, it’s so wonderful, it’s so awesome, your future is so guaranteed of a happiness that you can’t imagine, no one has ever heard about it, no one has ever seen it, it has not even entered your heart. All that God has prepared for those that love Him.
When you think about the future, are you filled with anxiety? Is your thought about the future about terrorism or a personal issue or family issue or what might happen or…?
See, if you – this is a fact. This isn’t subjective. Your future, my future happiness is guaranteed. Therefore, I’m confident. I can be absolutely confident. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to have struggles or setbacks and hurts. It’s a fallen world. But it can’t touch you.
Third, I have incomprehensible power to meet all my present challenges and opportunities. All those words of the apostle Paul talked about. All those examples of: the same power that would raise Christ from the dead, the same power that would seat Him in the heavenly places, the same power that would be over angels and principalities and powers, and the same power that would be over every title of this age and the future. The same power that would make Him head of everything and fill everything.
I can’t, I can’t get my head close to around that. It dwells in me, His Son; and it dwells in you, his daughter or son. Whoo.
I guess the question is: why aren’t we experiencing it? If there’s that much power, why do we have such struggles in certain areas if we have that power?
Let me give you a picture, okay? This is a little word picture. I want you to imagine that your car is broken down somewhere and it’s super, super cold. Like you’re on vacation in South Dakota. Whoever goes to South Dakota in the winter on vacation? But you decided you would. And who ever goes alone, but you decided you would go alone.
When you make up these stories, you can say whatever you want. But that’s you. And you are shivering and then you realize there’s a motel and, Oh my gosh. You don’t have any money, you don’t have money for food, your car stalled out, you’re stranded, your phone battery is dead. What am I going to do?
And then you look over and there is a little blue light and there’s an ATM machine. And you happen to be a fairly affluent person. You happen to know you have one hundred thousand dollars in your checking account. May the Lord bless you and keep you, cause His face to shine upon you. And may the rest of us do as well. But this is what you have.
Now, it’s in the machine, you have the card, you have everything you need, but you are sitting in your car freezing without food, and you’re not in the hotel. Why? What must you do? This is not a trick question. What have you got to do? [Makes ATM noises]
Now you’ve got a hotel room, you can fix your car, you’ve got food. Everything you need is way more than a hundred thousand dollars. You have a power that can break obstacles, you have a power of muscular force that can overcome challenges, you have a power that is like dynamite that can break through things that have held you a prisoner for decades.
Family of origin, past mistakes, labeling. You have a power that can change how you parent in the future. You have a power that can overcome your fears and give you peace. But you have to activate it. And the Bible is very clear that the key to activating things is as just as you have received the Lord, so walk in Him. How did you receive Him? By faith.
And faith is always rooted in the promises of God. Paul, in a crisis, would say, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Peter would write, “God has given us His precious and heavenly promises,” in the first chapter of 2 Peter, “and by them, we have everything that we need for godliness.”
The apostle Paul would write that there is a promise. He says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” He said, in other words, “I have this power.”
How do you activate? One, God’s promises are in His Word. And what I can say is that when you begin to get Word-centered and claim His promises, it’s like taking withdrawals from the ATM. But the ATM only brings out so much money. Sometimes what you need is other people drawing out of their ATMs.
And so, it’s not just His Word and His promises by His Spirit, but His power is manifested – how? In weakness.
My wife and I were, we are in a big transition and I’m glad, I really don’t feel afraid, but you talk about completely uncertain in so many areas. And I don’t mean, I mean this in the most humble, I’m more amazed than any of you, that we realize now, forty years of marriage this year and I’ll hear reports and things that it sounds like about someone else of, literally, millions and millions of people all around the world that hear what I teach and things that she has done. And we are like this little West Virginia girl out of a broken background and this super insecure skinny little guy. And we both came to Jesus. And it was like God’s power – he has used our lives and I think some of you think that it’s because we have so much together, that we are really, like really got it together.
And we were sitting on the floor this morning drinking coffee, looking back at: it’s His power has been manifested in our weakness.
It was when the lights came on and I just realized, I am desperately insecure and all this stuff I do is mostly to please people and impress people and pose. And I am so sick of it. And so I just went public with that.
And she stopped hiding her background and difficulty and pain and I think it’s not because we have anything together. I think what has happened is people get hope and there is more authority in our lives because we are weak!
I’ve got friends in this church that have had some challenges in their past. Their own kids don’t know anything about their past. They are ashamed of how they used to live. And what they don’t know is they are projecting to their kids: Oh, I never had any real problems. This is how you need to live. Instead of: Hey, I had an alcohol problem, I had a sex addiction. Man, when I was in college, my lands, I was promiscuous and I did this. This is the pain that it caused.
Right time in the right way, I’m not saying you share everything, but I am just saying your shame and the power of God won’t get released until you say, God, I need You. I need You. And it’s Your Word, Your truth that can change me. But it’s going to be Your truth as I am honest with You and I invite people into my life.
Can I just tell you something? You’ll be stuck in your shame and you will be a Christian that changes minimally, if at all until you are in God’s Word, claiming His promises, and you get in some smaller group where you can say, “I was abused when I was fourteen.” “I stole.” “Please don’t say anything out loud. I’m not legal and everyone thinks I am.”
And you would share that only wisely with just the right group. But it will be when the real you shows up that the real God will show up and life-change will happen. That’s our journey. But it’s not our journey. It’s the journey of every believer.
And then, it wipes away and, “We are really busy and at this stage of our kids and things are really, really, really busy right now and this fall we have a lot going on and I just started a business,” or, “I’m just changing jobs,” or, “I’m just doing this.”
And it’s going to be just completely different in six months, right? Right? This is just a season, like the last season, and the last season, and the last season.
And please hear me. The great majority of Christians are not in God’s Word. And I don’t mean in it like I got to read so many verses. I mean, to hear. The great majority of Christians don’t have real, close, honest, authentic relationships where shame can come out and you’re not judged and you are loved.
Turn to the back page, because this is the process by which God has decided He would change us. And the reason He is so adamant that you know that you are wanted and secure and competent and valuable – are you ready? It’s not so you can be more fulfilled and happy. That’s a by-product. You’re His body. The reason He has transformed you is you are the instrument, the ambassador, the agent to share with others that God loves them, that Christ died for them, that He rose from the dead, and they don’t have to go to hell and they don’t have to live in a hell today, but there is a Father who loves them but they will never know unless your life and your words communicate that story boldly.
We have turned the whole Christian life about your self-improvement and your happiness and your fulfillment and your kids being – excelling. All that will mean nothing. The reason He did all this is to transform you and me so that we would be His mouthpiece and His hands and His feet and that we would actually love people. It’s God’s will!. But if you believe misbeliefs, “I am what I am. I cannot change.” Do you believe that? Or does you behavior say you do? How about, “I can’t help myself. This is just the way I have always been, I always will be.” Write that on a card, will you?
And then write, “Stop! I am a competent person, equipped by the Holy Spirit to carry out God’s will in my daily life in a way that pleases Him.” You are! You’re competent. “Regardless of what stage of growth I may be in at the present time” – are you ready for this? “My real importance in life is connected with the way I am touching other people’s lives with the love of God and the message of Christ.”