Our character and identity is really about hundreds of small decisions we make every day as to who we will follow. Believe it or not, whoever has authority over you has a lot to do with your identity. Take the challenge to find out who that is for you.
Gerry Bertier stood awkwardly by the side of the bus; his friend and side-kick felt the same uneasiness. Around them stood a crowd of onlookers, curious to know the words being whispered to them by the team’s new head coach, Herman Boone. The question, “Who’s your daddy?” echoed in Gerry’s head like a lone yodeler’s call on a high Austrian mountaintop. In that instant, Gerry knew instinctively that he had fallen prey to his own arrogance. Yet, he couldn’t bring himself to admit to the obvious answer to his coach’s ringing question. So he stood still, head down, kicking himself for even getting into this humiliating conversation and hoping against hope that he could vanish as vapor. “Who’s your daddy, Gerry? Who’s your daddy?”
POW! Like a powerhouse kick in the face, Saul (who was later known as Paul) was slammed to the ground. He had been on his way to Damascus, but now he lay dazed and confused in the dust struggling to make sense of the bright light enveloping him. Then, out of nowhere, a voice broke through the mental haze. Saul, or Paul, likely had the same confused look of shame Gerry had when he brazenly went toe-to-toe with Coach Boone. It was a short exchange for sure, but it was a moment that forever changed the young Pharisees’ life. In fact, years later while speaking to an angry crowd in Jerusalem, he reflected back to this moment when his identity underwent a radical transformation. He went from obeying one daddy to a whole new daddy! And just like Gerry, he needed to make a serious decision as to which daddy he was going to follow. Let’s take a look at the scene as Luke describes the events in Acts 21. As you read, pay close attention to who Paul obeyed at the beginning of this testimony and who he obeyed at the end of the story.
Lord, sometimes it can be hard for me to know if you or your arch-enemy is my daddy. I know that I can only serve one daddy. I also know that you, as any good father, have nothing but the best interest of your children in mind. And, yet, obeying you can be so hard. Please help to know where I stand with you. Put in my heart a desire to do the right thing, even if it is hard and costs me popularity points with my friends. Thank you for a community of people (your church) who will help me to do that! Amen.
Gamaliel – one of Israel’s finest religious teachers of Paul’s day. He was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin. To be a student of this man was no small honor. It meant that you were the cream of the crop, the best of the best.
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God really began to work in my life when I was in college. I don’t know if I could say for sure that God was my daddy during high school. Sometimes it can be tricky to know who our real daddy is. If he was, I sure wasn’t reflecting Him, or imaging Him, too well. I was a big hypocrite!
Galatians 5:16-18 – Paul makes the contrast between living by the Spirit or living by the flesh.
John 14:15, John 14:23-24 – Jesus says that loving him is the same as obeying him as the authoritative person in your life.
John 8:44b – Here’s what Jesus had to say about Satan.
Matthew 6:24 – Jesus speaking on the issue of treasure and money.
Proverbs 12:3 – One verse among many in this book that contrasts the righteous and the wicked. Notice that each have a daddy they obey.
The psalm writer asks God to do something scary in Psalm 139:23-24. Here’s what he prays:
23Examine me, O God, and know my mind;
test me, and discover my thoughts.
24Find out if there is any evil in me
and guide me in the everlasting way.
Basically, he is inviting God to come and point out every flaw, mistake, or sin that he has embraced. Wow, that seems NUTS! Talk about courage! (If you want to see where his courage comes from – his assurance of God’s love – then read the first part of this psalm).
Take 15 minutes to be completely silent. Begin that time with this simple request in this psalm. Write down in your journal whatever comes to mind. Trust that what you write is God speaking to you.
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