The message of Jesus and His followers became known as the good news. It was a message that said, “God isn’t angry with you, God loves you. God isn’t against you, He is for you.” Another reason it became known as the good news is the fact that Jesus gave an invitation for people to believe not just behave. Jesus promised those who would believe both an eternal life and a better life. It seems like for many of us, we heard a lot of talk when we were growing up about eternal life but not much about the better life.
Perhaps that is one of the reasons that many have experienced a disconnect between how we feel we are living currently and the better life Jesus promised us. He promised peace but I feel stressed. He promised joy but I feel discouraged. He said I was an overcomer but I feel defeated. He said I was loved but I spend so much time wondering if God is mad at me. He said I was forgiven but I’m plagued by guilt and shame.
There are two questions we must get right if we are going to live the better life Jesus promised: Who is Jesus? Who am I?
1. In your experience of faith and church, did you hear as much discussion about the better life Jesus promised as you did his talk about eternal life? Why do you think that is?
2. Jesus promised a better life of peace, joy, fail-proof faith, no condemnation, overcoming emotions, much fruit, help, never being alone, freedom, no fear, possibilities, and greater things. Which of those promises stands out the most to you? Why?
3. Why is it so much easier to answer the question "Who is Jesus?" than it is to answer "Who am I?"
4. What are some of the labels you have accepted throughout your life that would help answer the question, “Who are you?” Use the categories from the message: what you do, what you’ve done, what you have, what others have said about you, your relationships, your geography, life events, etc.
5. How does what I say about myself affect how I think, how I feel, and ultimately how I live?
6. Family history is perhaps the biggest factor that shapes our identities. Families can affect our thinking and behavior even without us noticing. It isn’t easy to do, but being honest about our families and the dysfunction that sometimes exists in them is necessary for us in order to move forward. What are some blessings and baggage you have received from your family that still affects you today?
7. How can we build in some practical steps into our lives to reinforce our identity as given to us by our Heavenly Father? In other words what can we do in order to keep that identity strong no matter the circumstance? Think of the examples examples of Gideon, David, and Moses.
This week, take a moment at least twice during the course of each day to say aloud, “I am who I Am says I am.”
Then confess the following:
I am loved by the Father.
I am chosen by God.
I am a new creation in Christ, old things are passing away and behold all things are becoming new.
I am righteous and holy in Him.
I am forgiven.
I am justified.
I am more than a conqueror.
I am free from the power of sin, from the hold of condemnation, and from the things holding me back.
I am gifted.
I am never alone.
I can not be separated from the love of God.
I am a son or daughter of God.
I can not be shaken or moved.
I am not afraid.
I am more than what I have done, more than what I have, and more than where I came from.
I can do all things through Christ that gives me strength.
I have faith that can not fail.
I have peace that can’t be taken away.
I have joy not contingent on my circumstances.
I am a fruit bearer.
I am destined for greater things.
I have the mind of Christ.
I am washed, I am clean, I am set apart.
I am new. I’m not what I used to be.
I am destined to be like Jesus.
How do I know these things? God said so!
Ephesians 4:22–24 (NIV) You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.