Sunday Morning Service, 3/14/2010
- [ God Is Working]
- [ Because Of Your Love]
- [ Made Me Glad]
- [ Grace Flows Down]
- [ Enough]
- [ That’s Why We Praise Him]
- [ Hallelujah]
Message: Who Art Thou?
> Pastor Ulysse
Who art thou? Who are you? Who am I? This is a question that you should ask yourself, I should ask myself.
Are you sure of your role in life, or are you unsure of your role in life? Do you feel that you know “the real you”?
This goes for everyone, both as individuals and as families. This goes for us as institutions. We need to ask ourselves, “Who are we? What is our role?” If you are unsure of who you are, you may be experiencing what is called “identity crisis.” This is not a light thing; it is one of the most important conflicts that people face in life. As a teenager, you get to the point where you ask, “Who am I? Where am I going?” In your career, you face the same question. At my age in life, I ask myself, “Where am I headed? How do I want to finish my life?”
These are questions that people ask about us. There is a definition of “identity crisis” that I would like you to read.
Identity Crisis > A time of intensive analsys and exploration of different ways of looking at oneself.
There are times when you sit down and forget about fun, forget about the little things of life, and intensely ask yourself, “Who am I?” Just to help you understand, in my own life, as a teenager, I didn’t know what I would be. I liked my life, but I wanted to be someone else. I liked working with my hands, but somehow I decided that I wanted to be a doctor, because it is a bigger name. When someone calls you “doctor”, you feel great. My wife and I used to discuss our plans and dreams in life. But that’s not the real you. You have someone else inside of you saying, “That’s not the real you.” When I got saved, I shared with my wife, “I am a different person. My life has changed course.” It is a struggle, getting used to a new lifestyle. One day my wife asked me, “Is that it? Is that who you are?” Yes, that’s it. We had finally found out who we were.
In your relationships, you might be asking yourself, “Who am I?” “Do I see myself as a single person? Do I see myself as married, living the family life?” These are important questions. We can’t avoid them.
I remember a time when I was in the Navy, in the Middle East, and I asked myself, “Who am I?” “Here I am, a Haitian, fighting on foreign soil.” I finally had to answer, “I am a soldier. As a soldier, it doesn’t matter where I am; all that matters is who I am. I must be the good soldier that I am called to be.”
We have to answer these questions, or else we will spend our whole lives not knowing who we are. I read some research that I think is interesting. I have a two-hundred-page message here. You can catch the message in five minutes, or I can read these two-hundred pages. It’s up to you.
The first thing is that you need to know your status. You need what is called “identity achievement.”
- Identity Achievement When an individual has gone through an exploration of different identities and made a commitment to one of them.
- Moratorium A person who is actively involved in exploring different identities, but has not made a commitment.
- Foreclosure Status When a person has made a commitment without attempting identity exploration.
- Identity Diffusion When there is neither an identity crisis or a commitment.
Some people go through life not caring who they are; they just live it. But researchers have found that those who have made a strong committment to a specific identity tend to live a happier and healthier life. Who would not want to be healthier and happier? Those who live in the status of Identity Diffusion don’t care. They don’t have a problem with identity, and they don’t seek for one. But researchers have found that they tend to feel out-of-touch with the world.
There is a balance. You ask yourself, “Who am I? Where should I go?” I’m telling you because I know. There is a confusion; you don’t know what to pick. But there is a balance between identity and confusion. The balance lies in making a commitment to an identity.
Don’t you have some days when you wake up and you have things to do, but nothing works right? You feel that your days are being wasted. Sometimes you feel like you’re half-there. When that happens, I say, “Forget about everything else; I’m going to make sure that I do at least one thing today.” Then I pick up my Bible and make it happen. You have to make a choice; you have to make a commitment to a specific identity to get rid of the confusion. That is the balance that keeps you straight as you go through life.
Somebody else might ask about you, “who is that guy?” Jesus didn’t have an identity crisis. He knew who he was, and he didn’t need anyone to tell him. But he wanted to know what other people thought.
- When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
I think you will see that he wasn’t asking because he didn’t know. He wanted to know what the disciples thought, and the other people around thought.
- And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
- He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
- And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
He wasn’t surprised. He said, “Peter, you’re good. God has revealed that to you.” And he was glad. He was not far from completing his mission in life. He wanted to make sure that at least some of those around him knew who he was. Because Jesus knew who he was, he accomplished everything just like (snap!) that.
We find another person who knew who he was, without a doubt.
- And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
- And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
He knew that some people thought he was Christ, but he told them that he wasn’t.
- And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
- Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
“I mean, say something about yourself. You have to know.” As I was reading this, I wonder if some of us get cornered that way. When someone asks, “Who are you?” I’m sure that some of us don’t even have an answer. But you need to know. So he answered,
- He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
- And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.
“I am the voice.” Basically, he said, “I am nobody. I am but a voice.” They probably said, “Well, you look like a nobody. You don’t shave or anything.” So they said, “If you are nobody, then why do you baptize?”
- And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
- John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
- He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
He said, “I baptize, but compared to the one who will come after, I am nothing. So don’t worry about what I am doing.” John knew who he was.
- I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
John was the voice, but the word needed to be manifest. The word is the important thing.
God knows who we are. He knows that we are not that important. He made us. We may not know who we are, but he knows. The Lord expects less out of us than we expect out of ourselves. Sometimes by not knowing who we are, we expect to do some great things. But God says, “Come on; you are just dirt. Don’t you know who you are?”
I am reminded of the psalm:
- He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
- For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
- As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
- Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
- For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
There isn’t any day that passes by that God doesn’t remember who we are. He knows what we can and cannot do. Sometimes we push ourselves so far. There is a verse that I like in Genesis:
- And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
Can anyone tell me what is the greater and lesser light?
> The greater light is Christ, and we are the lesser light.
Yes, but in Genesis, what does it mean, not so spiritual? They are the sun and moon. He made the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. The Bible says that we are the light. And the light that you get from the moon isn’t its own. It reflects the light of the sun. And when the earth gets between the sun and the moon, it doesn’t shine anymore. That is like when we let the world get between us and Christ. We shine in the night. You see the moon isn’t full all of the time. There are times when we don’t shine to our full potential. We are half-moon, quarter-moon. But if we know who we are, we can be that full-moon all of the time. If we remember we are but dust, God can use us.
- But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
- And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
- That no flesh should glory in his presence.
If we know who we are, we will end up saying, “If there is any glory, it is glory in the Lord.” Because, we are but voice. The Bible talks about being saved by grace.
- For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
- Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Paul recognized that he was somebody.
- For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
- But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
You must remember that if you are anything, it is by the grace of God. Whatever you are, you’ve got to work for it, but you are saved by grace, not of works.
When I go to an interview for a job, I know my limitations, and I know what people need to think. So I make double effort to get that position. The last time I went to interview, I oculdn’t read the face of the man who was to hire me. He asked me if I had any questions, and I said, “You think that you are not going to hire me, but you are going to regret that. If you do hire me, I will surprise you.” A month or so later, he hired me. So I had to work twice as hard as anybody else. Seven months later, he called me in and said, “You were right. I didn’t think you could do it.” No I’m looking to go higher. They had me take tests and interviews, and finally they had me to drive four hours to talk to the big boss. Again, I thought that he wasn’t impressed with me. Again, at the end he asked if I had any questions, and I said, “I know that you don’t think I can do the job. But I tell you, if you don’t promote me, the day will come when your boss will call you and ask why you didn’t spot me sooner. Are you blind?” He laughed, and they haven’t called me back yet. But if I do get that job, I tell you that I will have to labor more abundantly than they all, lest I be found to be a liar.
I tell you something about Jesus. Do you think he would have prayed, “Father, let this cup pass” if he wanted to die? But God wanted to kill him.
- But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
- Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
God cannot do what he wants with us, if he doesn’t kill us.
To give you an example, I applied for that job because everybody in the office said that I should, so I gave them what they asked for. It is very easy in that type of situation to take it personally. I tell you, that if you take it personally, then you are not dead yet. David was going to battle, and there was a guy who was yelling and cursing at him. One of his men said, “Do you want me to take off his head?” But David said, “Leave him alone. It may be God’s will that he is yelling at me.”
So Paul said,
- Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
- And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
- But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
- All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
- There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
- There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
- So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
- It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
That’s what happens when we let God, and we realize who we are. We are but a voice; we are nobody, and we let God kill us. Finally, when we are resurrected, when we let God do his work in us, we are incorruption instead of corruption. Instead of dishonor, we are raised in glory. Instead of weakness, we are raised in power.
When I went to Haiti and visited the brother who lost a foot, he was the best in the hospital. Everyone else had lost a leg, or an arm, but he had only lost a foot. There was also a lady whose son was in the hospital. She had found him with one arm trapped under a building, but the rest of him outside. She had no one to help her lift her son. So the son said, “Mommy go ahead and cut off my arm.” It was hard for her, but she had to do it. The Bible says that we must decrease for God to increase in us. There is that life that must come to life in us, but first we must die.
During the military regime in Haiti, we had a few close relatives who were in power. There were times when we didn’t have gas, so we would call one of them and they would give us a gas card, or whatever. One time we drove in an official car. When people see that car, they think you are somebody. And when you are driving in that car, you need to act like you are somebody. At one place, they stopped the car, even though they would not usually stop an official car. So my cousin, who was driving, was told to act like she was important, or she wouldn’t be able to pass the checkpoint. But after it was all over, she still acted all important. That happens to us sometimes.
When Peter walked on the water, Peter wasn’t the one who was doing it. He knew that he could not walk on the water; that was why he said, “If you are the Christ, bid me to come.” So he came. But in the middle, he started thinking, “I am walking on the water.” He should have been thinking, “Jesus is making me walk on the water.”
- And Moses said unto the LORD, O my LORD, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
You don’t need to remind God how incapable you are; he knows that already.
- And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?
If God made our mouth, he knows how it works. So he can work in weakness. There is the story of Gideon, for example, when God wanted to send him to war, and there was a multitude. So God said,
- And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
So God chose only three hundred to go.
If you are with me so far, you should realize that you are nobody. Christ is all in all. And once we realize that, God can work in us. Then, he will lift us up.
Jesus said something interesting about John the baptist:
- And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
- But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
- But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
- For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
- Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Out of everyone born of women, Jesus said there wasn’t anyone greater than John the baptist. Let God do that for you. If you didn’t learn anything else today, I hope you take it seriously that you find an identity. In the aspect of religion, let’s say we make peace with ourselves. We say “we are Christians.” That’s who we are. Let’s say we say “I choose to live for God; that’s what I want.” What I have in my heart to tell you before I leave is that if you choose as an identity to say, “I want to live for God,” and I choose to say “I want to live for God,” as a ministry, I believe that we should do more than we are doing right now. If more people choose this identity, then we shall truly be shining full-moon.
I hope you have eyes to see. Don’t lie to yourself; God is not mocked. Are you shining full-moon? Have you chosen an identity as a Christian? Are you at peace in everything you do? Go with that. We don’t need to give an answer to anyone, but let the answer be manifest by the fruits that you bear. Let the answer be manifested by the abundance of works that you are doing. If you would ask me, I would say at one point that I was shining full-moon. I went to work, and I started shining half-moon. Then I went back to three-quarter-moon. If you don’t know what full-moon is, go to Haiti. You can read. You don’t need any other light; if you drop something, you can see it. That’s what full-moon is.
I hope this message did something for you, but the real message cannot be put into words. You need to know who you are.