“I want you to know all about Christ’s love, although it is too wonderful to be measured. Then your lives will be filled with all that God is.”
“Come here you little biscuit. You’re so stinkin’ cute. Did you know Daddy loves you?”
When Grace was younger I spoke to her this way. Now that she’s almost 15, I still treat her the same, only she prefers to not be talked to like an 8-year-old. She wants to be regarded “as mature, because she is.” Her words.
Jennifer isn’t fully on board with treating Grace like a grown up, nor am I, to be honest. But I can hide this a lot better than my wife. She’s still in mourning for not having a toddler in the house. Withholding overbearing cuddles, baby-talk, and constant doting, it’s not been easy for either of us as we see this beautiful young lady in place of our baby. We both know Grace won’t be living in our home forever and we’re preparing our minds for the day she leaves. I’ll be sad but glad, honored to raise this spectacular person.
I’ve enjoyed every stage of her life so much. From the moment I met her as the nurse laid her under the lamp, holding her tiny feet in my hands; to the days of teaching her how to walk and say, “Dada!”; to swimming with her in our pool as she held onto my neck and I ran in circles. It’s been such a delight raising Grace.
Going to her dance recitals, watching her play the sax, shooting hoops in the backyard and running full court at the Civic Center. There are so many fond memories of this child. She’s funny, smart, gets nearly perfect grades, and now she’s a freshman in high school who’s about to start driving. I’m ready for that too. I’m ready for the next stage of her life as she grows. I’ll enjoy it. I’ll enjoy her.
My dream for Grace is for me to be able to enjoy her. I want to be a part of every phase of her life. As her dad, my dream is also for her to enjoy others, herself, and her own life too.
God’s dream for us is the same. Him enjoying us and us enjoying Him, people, and ourselves. This is all accessed through the love of Jesus Christ by grace through faith. Even for unbelievers this is His desire. God longs for them to believe in Jesus too, so they can become His child. He wants none to suffer (see Ephesians 2:8-9, 3:19, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 John 4:19, Romans 8:17, John 3:7,16).
Grace has her own dreams too, and I know that. Her dreams are my dreams because I love her. We, as God’s children, have our own dreams too. These aspirations don’t nix God’s dreams for us but His dreams empower and center our own. They go hand in hand.
The prosperity gospel has given dreams a bad rap when there’s nothing wrong with dreaming. The “Sow your seed to get your need!” preachers have made dreaming big the center of our faith, rather than Christ. They’ve made Jesus a footnote to our goals and see God as a karma dealer. Now this is wrong. But not dreaming in itself.
God wants us to dream, He just doesn’t want us to shipwreck our faith over ambitions by taking the focus off Christ. To be clear, shipwreck doesn’t mean we are lost. It means we have broken thinking and our thoughts have placed us on an island in our minds. Legalism does the same. A dab of Law here, a sprinkle of Judaism there. The storm blows in and twists the bow, smashing our faith into the rocks. Thankfully, even when we do shipwreck our belief system, Jesus is on that island with us. He never leaves, ever. No matter what error we are struggling with.
As for dreaming, where do you think we got this from? Our Father dreams! He dreamt up this universe, dinosaurs, the animal kingdom, sea life, plant life, and humanity! He dreamt up gravity! He dreamt up seasons! He dreamt up you! He dreamt up the intricacies of the human body and how it would interact with the oxygen, food and water, on this planet–among a bazillion other things! Dreaming is normal, healthy, and wonderful! We’re being like God when we visualize where we want to be, the health we want to be in, and the relationships we want to have! When we establish new objectives and are creative we’re expressing our Creator! Why do you think He’s called the Creator? You are creative too!
Having a vision, both short term and long, is inspiration from God. This isn’t selfish, it is good. Dream, friend. Dream big, dream medium, dream small. To your loving Heavenly Father it’s all good when you dream. He’s extremely proud of you no matter what the world might say or how others measure your dreams.
Never believe the lie that God doesn’t place certain longings and goals in you, because He does. False humility is the cancer of dreams. You don’t need the approval of others. Plan it. Do it. Take steps and move forward, continually shaking off the discouragement through the strength of Christ within. His grace is always enough. It’s everything you need and you have all of it. You lack nothing.
God works in us and through us, toward our ambitions. But in my opinion, more than anything, He wants us to know who we are. There’s nothing I want more, for Grace, than for her to understand who she is. If Grace can comprehend her identity as a righteous saint–which she is because she’s accepted Christ–she’ll enjoy the abundant life He’s already given her. Identity solves so many of our problems because it gives us a base to always stand on.
Identity determines value. God’s dream for you is to understand His appraisal of you. Believer or not, your worth is so great to Him He gave you Jesus. For the unbeliever, the offer is on the table, stretched out, sitting in front of them. When we receive Jesus, we receive God’s love. We don’t earn this, maintain this, nor do we help Him give this. We are not to reach out and take it as some denominations teach. We open up our hands, receive, and say, “Thank you.”
From then on out our identity is not the same as it once was. We learn, mature, and grow. We don’t change but develop. Our changing only happened once, from the moment we believed and received (see 2 Corinthians 5:17,20-21, Galatians 2:20).
God’s Spirit, who is now in us, is constantly renewing our minds to the truth of who we’ve become. From the millisecond of faith in Christ’s ability to forgive us, we were born again in our spirit and now we blossom over the course of our lifetime. When a flower blossoms it’s not changing, it’s flourishing. Same with you.
The enemy knows our identity just as much as God does. For this reason he likes to make Christians think certain passages in the Bible are directed at us. Context-twisting is his specialty, applying Scripture pointed at unbelievers, to us. He wants to remove the firm foundation of our identity from our minds.
The good news is God’s Spirit teaches us the truth! Any passage which creates shame, fear, guilt, or condemnation is not for us. We should know it, but also know who we are. The Counselor makes this perfectly clear in our hearts (see John 14:26, 1 John 4:18, Romans 8:1).
All of our shame, fear, guilt, and condemnation was placed on Jesus, on the Cross. He looked down the timeline of our lives, yanked it all up, and allowed the Pharisees and Roman government to nail them onto Himself (see John 1:29, 19:30, Romans 8:1-4, 1 John 2:12, Revelation 13:8).
As for your children, if you have any, would you ever use the threat of disowning them to motivate them? As if they’d no longer be your son or daughter if they didn’t perform in certain ways? Absolutely not. You’d be respectful and set healthy boundaries out of love, but you know nothing can “change them” from being your child. Birth is final despite how they act. They’ve been born of you. Same with us and God. He warns us about dangers, but nothing can separate us from His love or spiritual DNA. Whereas our kids were born with our physical DNA, we are reborn with God’s spiritual DNA. Both births are unchangeable and why Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (see John 3:3, 1 John 4:10, 5:4).
Let’s talk about feelings. Feelings do not determine identity. Would you ever instruct your children to feel different? No. You would listen to them and address their feelings in a wholesome way. Further, no matter what they feel, they’ll always be your child. The same goes for us and our Heavenly Dad. The Bible never tells us to feel certain ways. Juxtapose, it constantly refers to the renewing our mind, fixing our thoughts, and thinking differently (see Romans 12:2, Philippians 4:8, Colossians 3:2, 2 Corinthians 4:18, 10:5, Hebrews 3:1).
God knows our feelings will follow our thoughts, so He wants us to center our thoughts on Jesus and our true identity. Feelings prove nothing except for how we feel. Although very important, feelings are not barometers of truth nor discernment. Sometimes we can even feel off because of something we ate yesterday or a movie we watched.
What about telling your child they have a reprobate mind? I know you nor I would ever do such a thing, and God wouldn’t either. Only unbelievers have reprobate minds, not us. We, in fact, have the mind of Christ because we are one with Him (see 1 Corinthians 2:16, 6:17). Some grace-confused folks will use Romans 1:28 to make a saint think our mindsets prove salvation. No way. Again, this verse isn’t directed at us. The first five chapters of Romans is about all of humanity’s problem apart from Christ. Paul explains the dilemma of both the legalistic Jews and us Gentiles. The faithless Hebrew people were condemned by not obeying all of the Law perfectly. We Gentiles were condemned by our consciences, not by the Law.
Chapter six then gives the solution! Die in spirit, get buried in spirit, and resurrected in spirit–all three with Christ!
Lastly, would you ever tell your child they have a wicked, sinful heart, but they better live holy? In essence, “You’re a wicked person but you better not act like it! Fake your good behavior until the day you die!” No you would not. You’re better than that. The reality is, Christians have a new heart, a good heart, and we should live from the heart.
Covenant-mixing theologians are to blame. There’s not a single New Testament passage which accuses Christians of having a wicked or deceitful heart. However, according to the Old Covenant, the prophet Ezekiel foretold what would happen after Messiah came. We would get new hearts! (See Ezekiel 36:26). God isn’t giving us new hearts and then taking them away, nor is He giving us half-good hearts.
By grace through faith God takes out our old sinful heart–our spirit–and gives us a new, tender heart; an actual holy spirit of our own combined with His Holy Spirit! (See John 14:20, 15:5, Colossians 1:22, 1 Corinthians 6:17, Romans 6:6-11).
God had to do this–remove and replace our heart–because He can’t live in wicked, sinful places. Jesus said a house divided will fall, so God tore down the house and built a new one on top of the solid foundation of Christ (see Mark 2:25, Matthew 7:24-27). He then moved in permanently and now He’s cleaning up our mess with us. Not us but our mess, our old habits, coping mechanisms, and attitudes. We have a good heart, an obedient heart, a loving heart just like God’s (see Romans 6:17, Ephesians 6:24, Galatians 5:22).
So today, my friends, know this: Ultimately God’s dream for us is Jesus. Receiving Him, knowing Him, and growing in His love. His aspiration for us is to express Christ by expressing ourselves. His Son is a gift to us, but we must accept Him freely. Many will miss out on Jesus because they don’t know how to accept a free gift. They want to pay for it somehow or at least leave the tip. They feel obligated to hand over their own gift before accepting God’s gift. They want a spectacular exchange and He won’t have it. If that’s you, friend, keep your payment. Let our Heavenly Father bless you with Jesus. This is His dream for you.
A prayer for you: Dad, you’re a much better father than I am because sometimes I put pressure on Grace. I want her to succeed, I want her to learn a strong work ethic, and I want her to be prepared for a harsh world. In this devotional I’ve used our father and daughter relationship and compared it to your Father and child relationship with us. But I understand our human relationships can’t be always correlated to yours. You are God, not just Father. You never treat us wrong nor pressure us as we sometimes do our children. Even though we make mistakes, you never do. You’re such a good parent. Your pressure is perfection, and that perfection was placed on Jesus. He succeeded for us and now you simply call us to rest. Thank you for Him! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. Let them know from the state of resting in Christ they can achieve their dreams. They can enjoy you, others, themselves, and their lives. Take them deeper into the knowledge of your dream for them, their new identity. Amen.
This devotional is from The Christian Identity, Volume 2. Get your copy here!