Inseparable: Who I Am, Was, and Will Be in Christ

Inseparable: Who I Am, Was, and Will Be in Christ

by Ashley Linne, InScribed

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401680237
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 10/07/2014
Series: InScribed Collection
Pages: 209
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Ashley Linne is a wife and mom who loves to write, sing, and travel. She has been writing and leading small group Bible studies for over 15 years and cut her ministry teeth as a collegiate campus minister in her home state of New Mexico. Ashley has a Master of Arts in Family Life Education from the Oxford Graduate School and studied at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She lives with her husband and son in Bellingham, WA.

InScribed is a collection of studies by women inspired by Proverbs 3:3,"Stay focused; do not lose sight of mercy and truth;engrave them on a pendant, and hang it around your neck;meditate on them so they are written upon your heart" (The Voice).

Read an Excerpt

Inseparable

Who I Am, Was, and Will Be in Christ


By Ashley Linne

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2014 Ashley Linne
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4016-8024-4



CHAPTER 1

IN Christ


A few nights ago, I was lying in bed, praying about this book, as I have done many, many nights previous. It feels as if I've been praying about this book for years—and that I've been asking God who I am for even longer. Finally, I feel He has answered me clearly. That night, as I was nestled safely in my bed, He lovingly whispered, "It doesn't matter who you are. I AM."

For a book about my identity in Christ, what matters most in that sentence is "Christ." The truth is, no matter who I am, Christ is the same today as He was yesterday and a thousand years before that. He is. He is God. He is the One who walked on water, who raised the dead, who spoke through prophets, who spoke the very universe into existence. And I am a very, very miniscule part of that universe. In ten thousand years it won't matter who I am. What will matter is who God is.

But even though I am merely a speck of dust in this vast expanse, God undeniably cares for me. I don't know that I'll ever really understand how or why. Maybe that's okay.

If He cares for me, He cares for you and billions upon billions of other people too. If He spent an incomprehensible number of years creating His divine rescue plan and executing that plan through His Son at just the right moment, I have to believe that it wasn't for nothing. He wouldn't do that for a bunch of meaningless dust. He would do it for something He cherishes, for creations that somehow matter, even if they are small in the grand scheme of things. He would do that for the beings He intended to bear His likeness.

I've come to realize that if I'm truly in Christ and allowing Him to shape me into His image, then I have to stop trying to "put Jesus first" in my life. In the past, by attempting to prioritize Him, I was implying that there were arenas in my life into which He was not allowed. I wondered what it would look like to instead view myself as a sponge and Jesus as water. Or perhaps to look to Him as the wind in my sails and not as a copilot. Or even better, to see Jesus as the Master Artist, painting the whole of time and space, and me as the tiniest paintbrush available that He chooses to use.

I think I went through a lot of my life observing Jesus rather than being saturated in Him. I concentrated hard on knowing as much as I could about Jesus and the Bible and following the rules. I had faith that He had saved me and had a plan for my life. But it took a while for me to really trust Him (and honestly, it is something I continually work on). It took some time for me to stop dipping my toes in and just dive in deep. It also took a while for me to let Jesus define me. I had always called myself a Christian, but that was just my face to the world. What about the deepest parts of me? I had a really messed-up view of myself for a really long time, and I'm not just talking about a low self-esteem. I struggled to know why I was still alive, why I mattered at all to anybody in the world, and what on earth God was thinking when He put me here. Did God really love me? A lot of really horrible things had happened to me, but I knew Jesus had suffered more than I ever had. I struggled with what it meant to not just say I was a Christian but to actually live as a disciple of Jesus even when no one was looking.

Being in Christ is a big deal. It's a make-it-or-break-it kind of deal. You're either in Christ or you aren't. Personally, I really would like to think that in the end everybody makes it to heaven. But if that were the case, why in the world would the Son of God go through torture and crucifixion? The fact of the matter is, "God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16 HCSB). Jesus' message was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17 ESV). The word "repent" literally means to change one's mind or perception; to stop pursuing one direction of life, turn around, and go in a different direction. I pray that if you haven't already turned from sin to pursue Jesus, this book will help you do that. Following Christ, being in Christ, is the best adventure we could ever have because it is an eternal one, and it is worth any challenges we might face along the way.

I think it is interesting how sometimes we can base a lot of our beliefs on ideas that aren't really found in Scripture; ideas like "God won't give us more than we can handle" or "a penny saved is a penny earned." I'm certain I've been guilty of mistaking conventional wisdom for Scripture. So I really want to be sure that what we're talking about here is a concept that is biblical. What does it mean to be "in Christ"? Is this some concept people came up with, or is it scriptural? We have some pretty solid evidence from the words of Jesus Himself in John 14–17. Go ahead and read through these chapters now. Pay close attention to these verses:

"If you love Me, obey the commandments I have given you. I will ask the Father to send you another Helper, the Spirit of truth, who will remain constantly with you. The world does not recognize the Spirit of truth, because it does not know the Spirit and is unable to receive Him. But you do know the Spirit because He lives with you, and He will dwell in you. I will never abandon you like orphans; I will return to be with you. In a little while, the world will not see Me; but I will not vanish completely from your sight. Because I live, you will also live. At that time, you will know that I am in the Father, you are in Me, and I am in you. The one who loves Me will do the things I have commanded. My Father loves everyone who loves Me; and I will love you and reveal My heart, will, and nature to you." (John 14:15–21)


If we were sitting across the table from one another over coffee right now, I would be leaning forward and possibly even taking you by the hand because of the urgency of this truth. Jesus said the Spirit of truth will remain constantly with you, dwelling within you. The Holy Spirit within you, as someone in Christ, is completely and totally present with you at all times. He's always there, always speaking to you, guiding you in everyday choices, reminding you of the things you've read in Scripture, showing you the way through life. He's comforting you when the pain inside you feels as if it is seeping out of your pores, He's excited with you when you know you've done the right thing, He's empowering you with patience to get through the day. When you don't know what to pray, He prays for you. When you've royally messed up, He lets you know. When you're so lonely you want to give up, He's the voice that whispers to you to keep going. He is there with you, all the time. He isn't just with you in church on Sundays. He's with you as you're doing the dishes, chasing your kids, taking notes in class, or watching YouTube videos. He's always there.

Not only is God the Holy Spirit always there; He is the most important thing about you. He defines you. If you're anything like me, you've spent a whole lot of time trying to figure out who you are. I love taking personality inventories, those quizzes that tell me my strengths and weaknesses and what I should be when I grow up. I definitely think these tools are valuable but not as valuable as the identity God has given me. There have been too many moments in my life when I felt I had completely come to the end of myself—that I had exhausted every ounce of ability, energy, and sanity that I might have had. I've had moments when I felt completely broken and useless, as if my life would never amount to anything. There have been more times than I would like to admit when I've felt worthless. In those moments, the Holy Spirit within me was all that was holding me together, whether I realized it at the time or not. And through all this brokenness, at the end of myself I discovered God. I saw that if life was going to be worth living, it was going to have to be through His power and not my own—as if I'd had any power to begin with. I saw that if I was worth keeping alive, it had to be because of who He is, because from my vantage point I was not shaping up to be much of anything. I didn't understand at the time who I was to God, and that was okay. He had plans to show me just that.

While I felt lost about who I was, others feel that they have a pretty good grip on who they are, but they still often feel as though something is missing. Maybe they've been Christians their whole lives, but deep down they wonder if there is supposed to be something more to it. Could our faith be summed up by a bunch of checklists of do's and don'ts? I sure hoped not, but I did spend many years wondering if I was good enough for God. I knew He had forgiven me, but I still messed up and was uncertain about how He viewed me in those moments. Was God continually disappointed with me for not living up to the fact that He had died to save me? Did He ever regret saving me? I got to the point where I felt that I must be missing something. Surely all the other Christians around me weren't plagued with these kinds of thoughts and questions. But as I started opening up about it, I found that almost everybody was struggling with the same thing. We knew we were saved from hell if we died, but we weren't quite sure what life was supposed to look like until then.

So if we are all in Christ, does that mean our lives should all look the same? Do we all have the same identity? At the core, I believe yes. Being in Christ evens the playing field; there isn't anyone who is better than anyone else, and no one sits higher than Jesus. Does this mean we're all cookie-cutter Christians assimilated into "the Borg" in some kind of universal consciousness, destined to a life of being just like everyone else? No, I don't think so. God is vast beyond our comprehension, and His beautiful, perfect characteristics are innumerable. As bearers of His image, we are each unique in our expressions of it. This multifaceted array of His glory leads us to appreciate each other and our differences when we're in Christ. But in Him we're united in ways we can't comprehend.

Like the rest of God's Word, Romans has threads of our identity in Christ woven throughout, which is why I have chosen to focus our study on this vital book. Romans is often viewed as containing such complex theology that its study should be reserved only for pastors or seminary students. But I disagree. Romans is indeed chock-full of intense discourse, but I firmly believe this beautiful book is meant for every one of us. Right in the middle of its sixteen chapters sits chapter 8, often regarded as a striking summary of the letter, or perhaps more appropriately, the spoke of the Romans wheel. I hope you'll take a few moments to pray and read through Romans 8 (provided in the following pages) now.


Romans 8

Romans 8 is one of the most powerful, mind-blowing chapters in the whole Bible for me, and the crux for everything we will explore in the pages to come. Let's take a look at the entire chapter together to get our journey under way. Again, if you're not used to reading this much Scripture in one sitting, feel free to take it slowly, but I really think you'll find yourself saying, "Wait—that's it?" by the time we reach the end!

As you read Romans 8, underline or highlight the portions that stand out to you the most—verses you like or dislike, words that jump out to you, concepts that puzzle you, sentences that move you. What might God be asking you to do in response to His words?

* * *

Prayer:

Father, thank You for the invaluable gift of Your Word. Thank You for loving us in ways we can't ignore. Help us to hear Your voice speaking to us clearly what You would have us to know, do, or experience. We love You and are in awe of your glory!


1 Therefore, now no condemnation awaits those who are living in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King, 2 because when you live in the Anointed One, Jesus, a new law takes effect. The law of the Spirit of life breathes into you and liberates you from the law of sin and death. 3 God did something the law could never do. You see, human flesh took its toll on God's law. In and of itself, the law is not weak; but the flesh weakens it. So to condemn the sin that was ruling in the flesh, God sent His own Son, bearing the likeness of sinful flesh, as a sin offering. 4 Now we are able to live up to the justice demanded by the law. But that ability has not come from living by our fallen human nature; it has come because we walk according to the movement of the Spirit in our lives.

5 If you live your life animated by the flesh—namely, your fallen, corrupt nature—then your mind is focused on the matters of the flesh. But if you live your life animated by the Spirit—namely, God's indwelling presence—then your focus is on the work of the Spirit. 6 A mind focused on the flesh is doomed to death, but a mind focused on the Spirit will find full life and complete peace. 7 You see, a mind focused on the flesh is declaring war against God; it defies the authority of God's law and is incapable of following His path. 8 So it is clear that God takes no pleasure in those who live oriented to the flesh.

9 But you do not live in the flesh. You live in the Spirit, assuming, of course, that the Spirit of God lives inside of you. The truth is that anyone who does not have the Spirit of the Anointed living within does not belong to God. 10 If the Anointed One lives within you, even though the body is as good as dead because of the effects of sin, the Spirit is infusing you with life now that you are right with God. 11 If the Spirit of the One who resurrected Jesus from the dead lives inside of you, then you can be sure that He who raised Him will cast the light of life into your mortal bodies through the life-giving power of the Spirit residing in you.

12 So, my brothers and sisters, you owe the flesh nothing! You do not need to live according to its ways, so abandon its oppressive regime. 13 For if your life is just about satisfying the impulses of your sinful nature, then prepare to die. But if you have invited the Spirit to destroy these selfish desires, you will experience life. 14 If the Spirit of God is leading you, then take comfort in knowing you are His children.

15 You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God's own family. That's why we call out to Him, "Abba! Father!" as we would address a loving daddy. 16 Through that prayer, God's Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. 17 If we are God's children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His. If we share His sufferings, we know that we will ultimately share in His glory.

18 Now I'm sure of this: the sufferings we endure now are not even worth comparing to the glory that is coming and will be revealed in us. 19 For all of creation is waiting, yearning for the time when the children of God will be revealed. 20 You see, all of creation has collapsed into emptiness, not by its own choosing, but by God's. Still He placed within it a deep and abiding hope 21 that creation would one day be liberated from its slavery to corruption and experience the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22 For we know that all creation groans in unison with birthing pains up until now. 23 And there is more; it's not just creation—all of us are groaning together too. Though we have already tasted the firstfruits of the Spirit, we are longing for the total redemption of our bodies that comes when our adoption as children of God is complete—24 for we have been saved in this hope and for this future. But hope does not involve what we already have or see. For who goes around hoping for what he already has? 25 But if we wait expectantly for things we have never seen, then we hope with true perseverance and eager anticipation.

26 A similar thing happens when we pray. We are weak and do not know how to pray, so the Spirit steps in and articulates prayers for us with groaning too profound for words. 27 Don't you know that He who pursues and explores the human heart intimately knows the Spirit's mind because He pleads to God for His saints to align their lives with the will of God? 28 We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. 29–30 From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future. You see, He knew those who would be His one day, and He chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of a new family of believers, all brothers and sisters. As for those He chose beforehand, He called them to a different destiny so that they would experience what it means to be made right with God and share in His glory.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Inseparable by Ashley Linne. Copyright © 2014 Ashley Linne. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

How to Use This Book ix

Chapter 1 In Christ 1

Part 1 New Creation 13

Chapter 2 Made Right 15

Chapter 3 Corpse Alive 31

Chapter 4 Failure Commissioned 51

Part 2 As We Go 69

Chapter 5 Saint 71

Chapter 6 Peacemaker 87

Chapter 7 Sister 103

Part 3 New … But Not Yet 117

Chapter 8 Dwelling Occupied 119

Chapter 9 Worshiper Fulfilled 139

Chapter 10 Victim Avenged 159

Chapter 11 Royalty Crowned 173

Acknowledgments 191

Appendix 1 For Further Reading 193

Appendix 2 In Christ, I Am 196

Appendix 3 Romans Reading Plan 202

Appendix 4 Bible Reading Plan 203

Notes 207

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Inseparable: Who I Am, Was, and Will Be in Christ 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Full Name: Natalia Rosa Tekiela <br> Nicknames: None as of yet. <br> Gender: &female <br> Age: Same as Chad. Late-ish teens. She was born July 13th, a point Chad will never let her forget. <br> Godly Parent: Hephaestus <br> Mortal Parent: Unknown. <p> Appearance: <br> - Hair: She has wavy black hair that falls in a thick curtain to her hips. It is usually messily braided or thrown back in ponytail. <br> - Eyes: She has very interesting eyes. They burn with a warm, almost dangerous light. The iris, upon first inspection, appears midnight black with flecks of chestnut brown. Is examined closer, a glowing orance-reddness can be found, very much like that of a flickering coal. <br> - Skin: She is of South American blood, therefore inheriting dark, fair skin. It is relatively unblemished, save for a few scars from working with machinery at a young age. <br> - Build: She has a stout but lithe frame. Her shoulders are well built and very strong and her limbs are built like the runner of a triathalon. She is greatly shorter than Chad, but is generally the controller of a situation because of her strength and boldness. <br> Personality: Despite her ability to control a room, she is heavily introverted and tends to prefer only Chad's company, if even. Often, she will lock herself away and work on a project, away from people. When is public, she can be seen as stubborn, arrogant, snobbish, sarcastic, and highly independent. <p> Attire: She tends to wear oversized sweaters that cover her hands and baggy hoodies that she can store machine parts in. They quickly become stained with oil and paint. The same can be said for her ragged, loose-fitting jeans. Her feet are always either bare or covered in a ratty old pair of TOMS which have been doodled on to where the original art can no longer be seen. <br> Weapon: Her weapon consists of whatever she can lay her hands on. She can make an effective, killing weapon in under two minutes. <p> Kin: None that she can tell about. <br> History: She grew up on the streets but was eventually taken into foster care where she met Chad. <br> Relationship: Just getting to know her well enough will take a miracle. <p> RPer: H&#65430
LarryBarnes More than 1 year ago
A pastor here. Reading this book, I thought that it would be a great for a small group study or just a few women who want to get together and learn more about what God wants for their spiritual identity in Christ.  Overall it's very scriptural founded, isn't afraid to go deep, but always brings it back to real life.  The book is littered with personal stories that flow with the theme and drive the overall feel of the book.  I know I'm a guy, but I loved it and I'm sure there are women who would get a lot out of it too.