Who Father God Says We Are

    If we are new creations in Christ, we need to view our life from that vantage point, rather than from any other point of view. This is both freeing and humbling. When I think about who and Whose I am, I think about my childhood and the way I was raised. I think about who my father is and was.  So much about me and the way I perceived my identity was based on what I learned from him. Whether we like it or not, we are heavily influenced by our parents - or lack thereof. Parents - especially our fathers - have great power when it comes to bestowing identity upon their children. That is simply a fact, again, whether we like it or not. If we perceive our father to be proud of us, we tend to walk in confidence. If we perceive him to be displeased with us, we tend to question everything about ourselves. That was my story.

    Everything changed when I replaced my man-centric worldview with a God-centric worldview. Not only did I begin to view myself in a whole new way, I also viewed my perceptions of my father and the way he raised me in a whole new light. I stopped blaming my father for my wrong choices. I stopped blaming him to the way I thought about myself. How did I accomplish that? Certainly not on my own! It was Father God and others who helped me put off the old ways of thinking and replace them with thew new way of thinking that brought me to the place of freedom I have come to enjoy!

    Rather than identifying myself by the way I perceived my earthly father saw me (which was skewed and perverted, to say the least!), I chose to view myself and think about myself from the vantage point of my heavenly Father. In fact, one of my personal rules to this day is that Dennis Jernigan does not get to call himself something his Father does not call him! But, again, just how did I get to the Father’s pint of view? I had to become like a child!

“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
Luke 18:17 NASB

    What is it about becoming a child that brings us to the place of entering the kingdom of God, of entering into the kingdom point of view, the kingdom way of thinking? Let’s think about the qualities of a child. A child trusts. A child desires to know his or her father. A child pursues his father. A child wants to know her father. A child believes it when his or her father expresses joy over their existence. A child is ready for the father’s embrace and finds joy in just being with him. A child jumps into thin air when they know their father is ready and willing and able to catch them! How did I get to know my Father? I asked Him to reveal to me who He says He is. In so doing, I believed knowing His nature would reveal mine! Jesus, when He was a boy, actively sought to know His heavenly Father, even risking alienation from his earthly parents. Once, he remained behind in the town synagogue when his parents headed for home. After searching high and low, they found him with the church leaders and elders. The response of Jesus?

“Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
Luke 2:49 NKJV

    A major part of our Father’s business is leading people know Him. That is why He sent Jesus to Earth in the first place! So, let us begin there in the process of renewing our mind. Let’s lay down all our preconceived notions about Who God is and let us be open to having our misconceptions about His character sent packing. Knowing Who He says He is will help us determine who we were/are created to be!

A good name is to be more desired than great wealth,
Favor is better than silver and gold.
Proverbs 22:1 NASB

    In God’s Word, He reveals much about Himself through the names He calls Himself. When I hear my own name, I hear the meaning of my name. Dennis means ‘Follower of Dionysius, the Greek god of wine’. When I was born again, one of the first things I was led to do was to redefine my name. Whenever I hear my name now, I hear ‘Follower and worshiper of the One True God’. That was an is a whole new way of seeing myself! That one mental rethinking moment was a major turning point in my self-thought life! Let’s take a few of the names God calls Himself and then let’s see how they apply to our own existence and identity…and lets’ be open to a change of reality from darkness to Light!

    He calls Himself Jehovah Shammah in Ezekiel 48:35. It literally means ‘The Lord is There’. What doe that mean? Regardless of where we find ourself, regardless of how we feel, and regardless of our pain or circumstances, He is there WITH US! In fact, one of the names by which Jesus is known in Scripture is Immanuel, which means ‘God With Us’ (Isaiah 7:14). We are never alone. When I was bound up in homosexual thought, I felt utterly alone for much of my life! But even in the midst of my feeling alone, reality was that I was NEVER alone. Not even one moment! As I began to look back on my life from that vantage point, I was able to see God as compassionate and always there pursuing me! I was able to find healing for the pain and wounds left by all those times I had felt alone…by simply seeing my God’s point of view! He loved me right where I was even in the midst of depravity, but loved me enough to not leave me there! That changed everything! I would never be alone again! Hallelujah!

    He calls Himself Jehovah-Nissi, which means ‘The Lord Is My Banner’ or ‘The Lord Is My Victory’. In Exodus 15, when Moses and Aaron led the children of Israel against the army of Amalek. The army of Israel was being pushed back, until Moses went to the top of a hill and lifted his arms. As he lifted his arms toward heaven, the army of Israel made headway. As his arms grew tired and fell to his side, they were again pushed back. In order to help hold his arms up, Aaron and a man named Hur helped hold the arms of Moses toward the sy…and Israel defeated the Amalekites! Moses named the place Jehovah-Nissi to remind the children of Israel that their God had brought about their victory.
    What that means to my life is this: God is the same God to me that He was in the battle with Amalek! He has my back just as He had the back of Israel! Jesus was victorious over sin! I am born again in Him, therefore I have victory over sin! Before I believed this, I walked in constant defeat, believing my inability to overcome sin and failure was just who I was! I considered myself a complete failure! As I began to proclaim this truth - Jesus is my Victory, therefore I am victorious - over my own mind, my feelings of defeat began to be replaced with feelings of triumph! I did not stop having moments of failure, but I decided to keep getting back up and heading for Jesus! I decided it was better to be a victor rather than to be a victim!

    He calls Himself Jehovah Rohi in Psalm 23. It literally means ‘The Lord My Shepherd’. Whenever I thought of God before I knew Him, I thought of Him as a distant dictator or cosmic policeman. My view was that He waited for me in heaven to see if I would obey Him or not - and whenever He saw me fail, He would swoop down and bop me on the head and beat me back into line. Into submission. This thought was reinforced by the way I treated a lamb I once owned. Her name was Abby. My job was to train Abby for the livestock show. My way of doing this? If she disobeyed, I struck her! I was so perplexed whenever I went for our daily truing session only to find her cowering in the corner, obviously gripped by fear! I felt mortified! Terrible! My solution? I began to take her carrots and other goodies - and began to treat her with kindness. After only a few days, the once-cowering lamb began to greet me at the gate…and followed me wherever I led her.

    When I was born again, I soon learned that Jesus is a good Shepherd! A good Shepherd never beats Hi sheep into submission, but leads them by example! As I applied this to my own life, I began to listen for the voice of Shepherd Jesus. He led me to clear fresh waters of understanding who I was called to be. He led me to fresh green lush pastures of His Word that began to transform the way I viewed reality…myself. He led me through the process of healing as He began to assess my wounds and began to apply the necessary balms of Truth to those same wounds. He led me to a feast of His presence in the very midst of my most dire circumstances.

    Before I saw God asGood Shepherd, my view was pathetic. I saw myself as deserving of only sitting beneath the table of His presence and groveling for any crumbs that fell o my lowly head from somewhere above. All along He had been calling me to sit AT the table and enjoy the feast of His presence - in THIS life! In THIS existence. That is how He sees me…and how I began to see myself! A child of the Shepherd Who is the King seated boldly at the table WITH Him! That was a life-altering point of view for sure!

    He calls Himself Jehovah-Rapha, ‘The Lord That Heals’. In Exodus 15, God reveals His healing nature to the children of Israel who had just come out of slavery in Egypt. In spite of all the miracles God performed to get them out of bondage, they still longed for the security of those old chains - and He still chose to heal them of all the diseases that afflicted the Egyptians! How often do we feel that same way? At least in our old way of thinking we knew our limits! How sad is that way of thinking?! And make no bones about it, it is a way of thinking! The Israelites had been enslaved to the Egyptians for 400 years. That’s a lot of time to build up the thought process that says ‘this is just the way it is and this is just the way it will be’. While that may give you a measure of peace, it does not give you victory. This is a sickness- a wrong way of thinking - that can only be healed by changing the way one thinks!

    If one does not believe they are sick, then one does not seek the Healer. My mental and spiritual healing began to be realized the day I chose to agree with God that I was sick in the way I thought about Him and about myself and then chose to put off the lies He revealed to me and then actively choose to put on the Truth according to His Word. It had taken me 22 years to build up the wall of lies I had believed. He encouraged me with the understanding that it may take time to tear down that wall and rebuild it with the Truth. Some lies have come down instantly while others have been a process. Some Truths have been grasped quickly while others have taken time to take root in my mind. Healing has come as I have chosen to trust my Healer rather than the wisdom of man!

    In Jeremiah 23:6, God reveals Himself as Jehovah Tsidkenu - The Lord Our Righteousness. This is actually a prophecy about the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 1:30, we find this Truth:  “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption…” When I was bound up in stinkin’ thinkin’, I felt (there’s that word again) that my only recourse to my constant failure was to perform my way through life - to gain God’s approval and acceptance and earn HIs love. That is how I FELT about the people in my life as well! The feeling should have given me the clue to the truth. Everything changed the day it dawned on me that there was absolutely no way to ever earn God’s acceptance, approval, or love other than the free gift of simple faith in Jesus Christ! In the most simple terms I can convey this Truth, Jesus Christ exchanged His life for mine on the cross. “He (God) made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” That’s 2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB. In other words, When He exchanged HIs life for mine, and I exchanged my way of thinking/life for His, I effectively became righteous in the sight of God! How could that not rock my world and drastically alter the way I thought about myself? This newfound way of thinking made me want to turn from my sin more than ever…and to seek the Righteous Savior Who set my thoughts spinning in the right direction!

    In Exodus 31:13, Father God reveals Himself as Jehovah M’kaddesh, which means ‘The Lord That Sanctifies You’. When I think of sanctification I think of holiness, but God takes it even further than that. To be sanctified in and by Jesus Christ is to be set apart for a holy purpose! Not only am I made holy by simple faith in Jesus Christ, but I am called into a higher, kingdom purpose! This gave my life an never-before-seen vision and purpose - a destiny - that transcended my humanity! When I was in bondage to my particular sin - way of thinking - I could see no further than the sin could take me! In my sin, there was no procreation. In my sin, there was no hope for true love as God had ordained it. In my sin there was only hope for deeper depths of condemnation and fear of disease and ridicule of men. In my sin, there was no hope or future. To have Father God tell me He had made me holy and that I should see myself as holy and pure was quite revolutionary, but that was only the beginning of my revelation! He had a definite purpose for my existence! This new focus took the wind out of the sails of temptation for me in a dramatic way! My very real needs were now being met in the way God had intended them to be met all along. In relationship with Him! I am holy and set apart because He says so!

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
Romans 1:17 NASB

    In God’s Word, we find the details of an episode in the life of the patriarch Abraham. Abraham had finally been given a son in his old age…and when the boy, Isaac,  was still a young man, the Lord directed Abraham to sacrifice him on the altar! Abraham, being a man of faith reluctantly obeyed the Lord and took his son to the place as directed by God…and just as Abraham lifted the knife to sacrifice his son, the Lord intervened:

But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.”
Genesis 22:11-14 NASB

    But the Lord did not stop there. He went on:

Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, "By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
Genesis 22:15-18 NASB

    When I was confronted with the choice of following Jesus, He asked me for everything. Had I held back from Him, He could not bless me in the area I withheld from Him. When we hold on to lie, we hold God’s blessing at bay in a sense. How can He fill with Truth something we fill with a lie? When I got honest with God about my greatest failures and shameful acts and thoughts, I effectively emptied myself - and He was given the freedom to fill those empty places with right thinking. The more I practice right thinking the more freedom came into my life. The more freedom I experience, the more my feelings changed! Why would we ever want to hide from God when rich blessings are the option of our honest confession? What I discovered in that moment of clear thinking was that the very things the world promised - momentary pleasure, selfish ambition leading nowhere concrete, material possessions that would one day crumble into nothingness - were pathetic counterfeits to the richness of knowing Christ! In His economy, we are granted the riches of heaven by giving Him everything we have and are! God is, indeed, the best Provider!
    One of the greatest Truths about Who God is revealed to be to me personally is found in Judges 6:24, where Father reveals Himself asJehovah-Shalom - The Lord Is Peace. In that account of Israeli history, a man named Gideon has been called of the Lord to lead God’s people against the marauding Midianites and Amalekites. Rather than believe God that he could stand against the intruders, Gideon chose to hide in the wine press, choosing to winnow grain in order to save at least the food rather than to fight for the people! He saw himself as something less than Father saw him! This is evident in the following passage:

The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, "The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior." Then 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 abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian." The LORD looked at him and said, "Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?”
Judges 6:12-14 NASB

    Like Gideon, I once believed myself a coward, controlled by fear, frozen by the lies of the enemy into a state of constant panic. Like Gideon, I used to blame God for getting me into the mess I was in rather than to see it was by my own choosing. Like Gideon, everything changed the moment I chose to believe God’s Word. Gideon went on to find peace even before going to battle with the enemy. He and a small number of men routed the formidable foe and sent them packing! Like Gideon, once I believed and received God’s peace, I was able to confront the Liar and rout Him - and send him packing - all by virtue of believing and thinking the Truth of God’s Word to me! I am a mighty man of valor - in spite of the lies of the enemy and in spite of whatever the world and its wisdom may say…or do. I am who Father says I am.

    Of course, these are merely a few of the names God gives Himself in His Word, but they are important beginning steps to understanding Who He is. It is by understanding Who our Maker is that we come to have a roadmap to understanding who we are created to be - in spite of the way we feel. Feelings can change as thoughts are renewed! The name Jesus literally means ‘The Lord Saves’. How cool is that? Every name of God can be summarized in that one name. Jesus. And we need to be saved from sin, no doubt…but we also need to be saved from wrong thinking. Saved from our own self!

    Here is how drastic I became in my assault of stinkin’ thinkin’ as it relates to Who my Father says He is. If I have the DNA of my Father flowing through my spiritual veins, this truth not only affects how I view myself, but it informs me as to the reason of my existence. I am here for His glory and pleasure, not my own! I am to lead others to Jesus. I am to ‘be there’ for others. I am to be a champion for and fight for the victory over sin of others! I am to see myself as a shepherd of those I am in relationship with and seek to lead people to green pasture and fresh water in the Lord. I am f God’s healing power and love. I am called to walk in righteousness and have been set apart for a holy purpose - and am called to lead others to that same righteous and holy identity in Christ. I am to be an agent of provision, meeting the spiritual needs of those I am in relationship with. I am an agent of God’s peace. I am an ambassador for Christ on this planet! That changes everything!

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Philippians 4:8 NASB