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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 1

Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 1

Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 1
Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 1
TOPICS: Identity, Identity Theft, Transformation

Identity theft is a big word these days. Are you experiencing identity crisis or are you feeling like your Christian life is lacking in power? This week, I'm gonna start a new series of messages called, "Identity Transformation". It will radically change the way you live out your Christian faith. After the message, there's also a powerful testimony I don't want you to miss, so stay tuned.

Every one of us, without exception, have our identity in someone or something. Even young children, they have their identity in their parents. And therefore, wherever is our identity, that's where we draw our sense of security, our confidence. Now, there are some people who see their identity in their title, whatever that may be, and that's where they have their confidence. There are others who see their confidence and their identity in their profession, whatever that profession may be. Some people see their identity tied to their net worth, and therefore everything about them is in that identity. I'm sure by now you get the point. I believe the Lord wants every one of us to begin to shift from seeing our identity in someone or something to seeing our identity only in Jesus. Why? Because he loves us enough to know that any of these things can be lost, but our identity when it is in Jesus and only in Jesus, it can never be lost.

So, he uses all possible means to bring the children whom he loves so dearly to shift or to exchange whatever their identity may be in to be in Jesus and only in Jesus. Why do you think the New Testament writers, when they're introducing themselves, they don't give their credentials? They all start by saying whatever their name is, Paul, Peter, John, Jude, James, servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, that's where they found their identity, their true identity. I am bringing you a series of messages about identity transformation, and the clearest picture of this identity transformation is found in the life and in the writings of the Apostle Peter, because God had a wonderful plan for Peter's life, just as he has a wonderful plan for every one of your lives. God began in Peter's life to make shifts, to make identity transformation.

Question: shifted from where to where? From wherever it may be, and it may be different for everyone in this room, different for everybody who's watching around the world. Whether it is your achievements, whether it is your business savvy, or it is your strength, or it's your appearance, or it is your outward appearance, whether it is the pride of race or pride of place, whatever it is, the Lord want to shift it. He wants to transform it from being tied to that thing to being tied with Jesus, only Jesus. Here's the one thing that I can tell you about God transforming power of our identity. Whatever he strips out of you, he will replace it with something far more stupendous that you ever thought possible. Whatever he gives you is gonna be far greater than what he removes out of your life. Whenever you place your whole identity in Jesus, it is far superior than all the mirages of our identities.

Saint Peter is a rich study of this all-important aspect of our Christian life. He was a man who found his identity in his self-confidence, in his self-adequacy, in his bravado, in his false pride and the bragging about things. These were his security blankets. These were the sources of his confidence. These were the essence of his reputation, and they were so important to him. But if Jesus was to use him to change the world as he did with all the other 12, he had to do identity transformation in his mind and in his heart. I don't have to tell you this. Peter's name looms large in all the four gospels. Peter stood head and shoulder over and above all the other 12. Peter left us with a deep footprint, deeper than all of the 12 put together.

Please, please, please, please listen to me. You would be making a colossal mistake if you think, "Because I am not her, I cannot be used of God," or "Because I don't have his gifts, I cannot be as effective for God and I can't do things for God," or "Because of this," or "I lack that," or "I lack the other thing, I cannot be used of God". Listen to me. The 12 could not be more different than each other. They were very different from each other, and yet God used every one of them equally. Differently, but equally. Look with me please very closely at Peter's life. And I don't want you to focus so much on Peter, but I want you to focus with me on the transforming power of God, the transforming power of Jesus in transforming Peter's identity. This is really where I want you to focus, on Jesus, not so much Peter.

What are the two areas in which Peter saw himself, saw his identity, and therefore his security blanket and his confidence? There were a number, but let me summarize them into two. Just two, just for the purpose of our time here. The first one is the Sea of Galilee, and fishing, and knowledge of the Sea of Galilee, and knowledge of fishing. That was his thing. That was his expertise. That's where his confidence is. The second one is his outward courage, which is always an indication of hiding something inside, but I'll get to that in a minute. And here's what Jesus does, he hones in on those two things like a laser beam. He hones on those two things in Peter's life. And I want you to look with me at the consequences of what God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ began to do in this identity transformation.

Chapter 1. It's not chapters in the Bible, just chapter 1 in Peter's life. Chapter 1, they'd been fishing all night. Think about this. This man is an expert. Fishing all night, catching nothing, not one. And there's no doubt in my mind that Peter was thinking, "That just couldn't happen to me. Surely, I know fishing. I know this lake". These things just don't happen to Peter. And so, he comes back in the morning bone tired. Bone tired and not a fish to show for it. And then, he sees the crowd and Jesus says to him, "Peter, let's get in the water". I mean, in his mind, he's probably saying, "Well, look, I've failed. I'm not used to failing, but I failed this time. Well, next time I guess I'll do better". But Jesus made things worse. He really did when he asked him to go into the water in the middle of the day. And the sun is beaming on that lake. It's extremely hot.

In the middle of the day, Jesus said, "Okay, Peter". When they got to the middle, he said, "Now throw your nets". What's going on in Peter's mind? "I'm embarrassed enough to be seen on the lake in the middle of the day, let alone fishing in the middle of the day. There is no self-respecting fisherman who would be seen fishing in the middle of the day. Lord, I have a reputation to protect. I have a name to uphold. I have a dignity to guard". He probably was tempted to say, "Lord, you don't understand. We dry our nets during the day. Little fishies go to sleep during the day".

Have you ever been in that place where you stood there and the Lord stripped you from the very thing that's been the source of your bragging, when your self-adequacy have been challenged, when you have thought, "I know more about this than anyone else"? And here comes transformation number one. First step. But that's only the first. They get there in the middle of the lake in the middle of the day and they get more fish than they could handle. Chapter 2, I already told you. As we saw here, Peter born a leader. He really was. He was born a leader. Leadership was not Peter's problem. Peter had a pride issue. Peter had a self-adequacy issue. And many of these problems needed to be replaced, needed to be transformed by his wonderful and stupendous things that only Jesus could give him.

And so, the next encounter with Peter was where? On the lake. In the water, where his identity has been formed through the years, which was the first area that Jesus wanted to transform. And no sooner do the disciples get into the boat than a violent, raging storm start brewing. It got so bad that the boat was bobbing on the surface of the water like a cork. Obviously, this storm was not like anything they've ever experienced before, and so they panicked, and that's understandable. By the way, a lot of people go to blame them. No, no, no, don't blame them. It's understandable for them to panic, but guess who panicked the most? Peter. He not only panicked, he even doubted if the Lord cared for them. Probably what's going on his mind is, "Man, I know this lake like the back of my hand. I thought this is the area of my expertise. I thought this is the area of my strength. I thought this is the area of my self-adequacy. I thought this is the area of my self-confidence".

And no one can deny any of that, but the Master was preparing him, as he's preparing you. He really is. He's preparing every one of us to do great and mighty things for him, amen? And so, Jesus takes authority over the storm and he stops it. And here's another layer of confidence begin to build in Peter's life. Confidence where? In the Lord. Chapter 3, Peter's identity began to be transformed. This time was about walking on water. Not fishing, we got that worked out. He got that confidence built. And so, Peter's confidence began to build in the Lord. If this is Jesus who's walking on water, surely if he says to me to come and walk on water, I know I could do it. If he said it, it can be done. My confidence in him has grown to the point that I know I could do it if he commands it.

And so, the Lord says, "Come on, Peter. Start walking on water". And he start walking on water, and all of a sudden, the old Peter came back. He said, "Hey, look at me, boys. I'm walking on water," and he took a dive. And the cry was, "Lord, save me". What's happening here? Peter began to trust in Christ efficiency, not his own sufficiency. He began and it's another layer. Which reminds me actually of a true story of a missionary in the late 1800s who was in Africa. And he wanted to go from one town to the other, and they said, "You need to hire one of the experts, one of those trackers, the guys who know how to get you there. They know all the paths".

And so, he hired this native guy, and so they're going through the bushes from one town to the next, and this guy was hacking his way with his machete, you know, through the bushes. And then, after awhile, the missionary began to panic. He really began to worry and he said, "Where are the paths"? And the expert said to him, he said, "Bwana, in this place, there is no path. I am your path". You see, in our walk with Jesus, listen to me, in our walk with Jesus, he is the path and he chooses to show it to you through his Word. How else would you know if you're not in the Word every day? Here is absolutely something that is absolutely true. I know I can show it to you from Scripture. You know how parents, when they're teaching their toddlers to walk, and they fall, and they stumble, and they get a gash, and they bleed, and they hurt, and we hurt with them? We hurt for them.

I am absolutely convinced that's how the Lord feels when we fall, and stumble, when he's taking us through our identity transformation process. He hurts with us. Chapter 4, this has to do with the projection of self-confidence, which in reality, it covers up something inside. It's covering either fear or lack of courage on the inside. Jesus was telling the disciples that he's about to be delivered to evil men, to the hands of evil men, and he's gonna be crucified, and he will die on that cross, but he will rise again. But all that Peter hears is that Jesus, the miracle worker, must be down on himself and he needed Peter to pick him up. And expressing his dismay over what Jesus had just said caused the Lord Jesus to say something to Peter that is extremely hurtful. It is extremely hurtful.

You see, Peter projecting himself as a courageous man is one of those two big problems needed transformation. He projected himself he's full of bravado, he's full of strength, while in the reality he was not. And so, he gets carried away and he makes himself to be the protector of Jesus instead of the other way around. And what does Jesus do? He gives him the worst possible rebuke. "Peter, you are the mouthpiece of Satan". The chief apostle, "You're the mouthpiece of Satan. For this, I came. For this, I was brought". In the same vein in another incident, Jesus warns him, as if to say to him, "Peter, I am seeing straight through you. You don't have to pretend with me, Peter. You don't have to project a false image with me, Peter. Before dawn, you'll deny me three times".

Peter does not deny Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the most powerful man on the earth at that time in Israel. He did not deny Jesus to the high priest or the Sanhedrin. He denies Jesus to what society at that time considered to be the lowest of low. I'm not saying it is, but I'm saying society considered. A slave girl, and he swears, "I don't know him". And the Bible said something that, if you see my Bible, is underlined, because every year I go through the Bible I underline it one more time. "And Jesus turned and looked at Peter".

That is why, after the resurrection, Jesus appears to Peter, as if to say to him, "Peter, what I took away from you was to replace with far greater things. I exchange your independence to dependence on me. I have exchanged your false courage for real courage. Peter, I have exchanged false confidence with real confidence in me. I have exchanged false adequacies with my all-sufficient adequacy". Finally, on the beach, right there at the edge of the Sea of Galilee, before Jesus was taken up to heaven, he asked Peter the all-important question. And you've probably heard many sermons about this, but I'm gonna give you the summary of it. What's really Jesus saying is, "Peter, do you really, really, really love me"? That's really the bottom line. The old Peter would have said, "Oh Lord, you know I love you. I'll die for you". No, no, no. "I, I, I, Lord". No, no, no, no, he didn't.

See the transformation began to take place in Peter's life? None of that, none of that. He says, "Lord, you know everything. You know everything". Oh, on the Day of Pentecost, that transformed Peter can stand up, and he preaches one sermon, 3,000 people give their life to Christ. That's the transformation that God wants to bring in every one of our lives. Let me tell you this as I conclude. Wherever you are today, only you know where you are. Wherever you are, wherever you are, you know where you place your sense of security. You know where your identity is tied, what your security blanket is. Is it your reputation or you education? Is it in your wealth or wanting acceptance? Is it on your accomplishments, your intellect? Wherever it may be, only you know. And here's what the Lord wants from every one of us, beginning with yours truly, is that we exchange this for true acceptance by God, for true wealth, for true power, for true confidence, for true adequacies.
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