THE BIG IDEA

Before we can know who we are, we need to understand who God is.

THE BIBLE

Exodus 34:6

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INTRO: Today we are starting a new series called “True Story”. In it we are going to be talking about identity.

Identity is who you are. Who you are determines what you do and why you do it. A baseball player plays baseball because, he is a baseball player. A painter paints because, she’s a painter.

I drink Dr. Pepper cause I’m a doctor. Ok that one doesn’t really work. But you get the idea. Right now you are all students, and so you go to school. Right now you are teenagers, and so you are under your parents authority.

Who you are determines a lot about our lives. And while the things we just mentioned can change, there are some parts of our identity that are way deeper and don’t change easily.

Like if we are an introvert or an extravert.
If we are down to earth or have our head in the clouds.
If we are a dreamer or a realist.
If we are a thinker or a feeler.
If we are a planner or go with the flow.

Identity is complex. Most people spend most of their lives trying to figure out who they are. Many never do. Maybe you are just starting to explore this, or maybe you have an idea, maybe you are totally lost. I can relate to all of those. I have been at each stage. It can be hard to sum up our entire personality and lives in just a few words.

Throughout this series we will be exploring our identity and seek to understand who we are in light of scripture.

Today though we are going to lay a foundation for the whole rest of the series. Because before we can know who we are, we need to understand who God is.

QUESTION: How many of you guys have ever built something? Legos, a bike, furniture, anything?
Did you use instructions?

What do instructions do? They tell you how something works. BUT, if you have the wrong instructions, what happends? You won’t be able to use it correctly.

Sure, by trial and error you can get some things right, but without detailed instructions on every part of something, you will never be able to use said thing to its full potential.

Humans, believe it or not are the same way. We come with a manuel, its called the Bible. And while it may not tell you where to apply for a job or what to eat for lunch, it does give us the blueprints for a good life.

And any good instruction manual will tell us not only how to build something, but also what it is for.

Now don’t answer these questions out loud, but really think about them.
QUESTION: Why did God create humans?
Who is God?

This the first page of the instructions. These two questions are the first two lego bricks of your identity. Because whether you realize it or not, these two questions have shaped your entire life.

Even if you never even thought of them before, every human being throughout all of history has been shaped by these.

The word “god” is actually kinda generic. We use it to describe Jesus, Muslims use it to talk about their god.

Any Percy Jackson fans here?

Yeah me too. Notice they use that same word god to refer to all kinds of different beings. Other religons use the word god to mean even more different things. To some, god is not a person or being but rather just a force, like in Starwars.

Some religions have many gods, and some people reject the idea that there is a god at all.

To them, the word god means something else.

So often when we talk about God we say Jesus, or even capitalize the word God to signify it’s a proper noun, a name, not just a title.
But even among Christians I have found that we don’t all think the samething when we hear someone say “God”.
Even in this room, everyone in the room has a different idea of what I mean when I say “God”.

If I asked everyone to write out who they thing God is, we would end up with many different answers.

To some God is:
A Dictator who controls what you do and don’t do.
Like Santa or a genie, you make a list and if you do it right you get what you want.
Like our parents; whether that is good or bad.
Mad.
Angry.
Hard to please.
Unhappy.
Pushover.
An old man with a beard.
To be feared.
Going to church.
Just like us.
Too different to understand.
Far away.

The word God brings up a bunch of different ideas and experiences to each one of us. Some of us have been hurt by people claiming to serve God, and I find many reject God not cause of who He is, but because of who they think he is.

If you learn about God from shows like Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, or the Good Place, you got the wrong idea.

So before we get into figuring out who we are, we need to know why we are here. And before we can know that, we need to all be on the same page about who God is.

For just the next few moments, Im going to ask that all of us set aside who we think God is or what our experience of Him has been so far. I want us to take a step back from all our questions, and just for a moment look at who God says He is. He does this in Exodus 34:6

Exodus 34:6
6 The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The Lord!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

This is how God describes Himself. That means everything He does, and everything that happened in the Bible, and everything going on in our world is based on these.

God’s 5 Attributes:
1. Compassion
2. Mercy
3. Slow to anger
4. Unfailing Love
5. Faithfulness

What do these mean?

Compassion- means God sees and feels what we feel. He knows when we hurt, and it hurts Him too. He wants the best for us.

Mercy- God is patient, He isn’t surprised when we mess up, but He does want us to get back up and always strive to be better. He is there to help us. As long as we are truly sorry, He will always forgive us.

Unfailing Love- God has affection. God likes us. He wants to be around you. He is interested in you. He loves you in a way that nothing can change.

Faithfulness- God doesn’t give up, and He never betrays or forgets about us. He always comes through, we can trust Him. He doesn’t have mood swings or break promises.

Slow to anger- Anger is not a bad thing when used correctly. God is so full of compassion, mercy, love, and faithfulness for all people that it upsets Him when humans hurt one another.

God has a perfect plan for all people, and when we choose to step outside of it it angers Him, not because He hates us, but because He loves us so much.

Anger is a good thing- have you ever needed someone to defend you? You were being hurt and a parent or sibling got angry at what was hurting you and stepped in to save you? It is a good thing God gets angry. You wouldn’t want friends that didn’t care when something affected you. You would want them to be motivated to help.

This is what God’s anger is. The fact that He is slow to anger means He doesn’t freak out at the drop of a dime or if we bump into Him wrong.

It means He is patient in working with us, though if we are continually disobedient He will eventually let us chose our own way, even if it is a way of death.

This is who God is. This is what I mean when I say God. Everything God does is based on these five characteristics.

Its based on these same Characteristics that God decided to make humans, and that’s what we are going to talk about next. Why did God make us?

The following weeks after that we are going to explore how we can discover our identity and who we are based on who God is. We will learn how to recognize lies about our selves and how to live free of guilt and fear.

SUMMARY:

This is how God describes Himself. That means everything He does, and everything that happened in the Bible, and everything going on in our world is based on these.

 

God’s 5 Attributes:

  1. Compassion
  2. Mercy
  3. Slow to anger
  4. Unfailing Love
  5. Faithfulness

 

TALKING POINTS:

  • Over the past few weeks we learned about the 4 key values of our church. What are they?
    • What does it mean to GROW?
    • What does it mean to CONNECT?
    • What does it mean to SERVE?
    • What does it mean to SHARE?
    • What motivates us to GIVE?
  • What are God’s 5 attributes from Exodus 34:6?
    • How is God compassionate?
    • What is mercy?
    • Why do you think the author wrote “unfailing love” instead of just “love”?
      • How is God’s love different then human love?
      • Did you ever think about God having affections for you before?
        • How does that make you feel?
      • What does faithfulness look like?
      • Is anger good or bad? Why?
        • What does slow to anger look like?
      • Are any of these ideas about God new to you?
        • Are they different then you thought before?
      • What else do you think about God?

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