We ALL are Disciples

God’s Word is ever wasted with that being said…Today, you, my sister in Jesus Christ  were meant to read this…it is a divine appointment with the Father.   From the moment you and I accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we became His Disciples.  This is an adventure more than a journey!  Adventures are exciting, extraordinary, God’s adventure does not ask us to carry uncertainty but certainty, it is a bold undertaking, and we must be a willing participant.  

John 15 tells us that you and I have been chosen to do the work of Christ, God also says there will be success in our work …we will bear fruit.  As His disciples Jesus gives us everything we need to do His work through the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

 John 14:12 confirms our position and purpose… “Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I am going to the Father.”

The Great Commission is spoken of in several different scriptures however here we hear our calling clearly from Jesus…“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:19-20NASB

We must embrace who we are, and this word “disciple” is not a  title it is a  position in God’s Kingdom,  it is spoken of more than 250 times in God’s Word. We can try to worm our way out, you might have many excuses,  but in the end this is WHO WE ARE…His Disciples.

Right now maybe you are saying…”not me” for a number of reasons so let us just bring God’s Truth to those reasons.

If the answer is “Yes” to these two questions then you are a disciple.

You maybe still saying “but I do not know enough”, or “I am not even sure if I am forgiven” possibly “I am not sure I’m worthy.”  All of that as well as any other questions…doubts are not from God; they are the devil holding you captive to lies about yourself. How did you answer questions one and two? If the answer was “yes” then it is time to declare you are who God says you are and not this world, person or circumstance.  Your TRUE identity is found in Jesus and Him alone!

Ok now that we have cleared that up let us move on…being a disciple requires you to put God’s agenda first and stop focusing on yourself.  There is immediate healing in your mind and spirit when God is truly first in your life, and you receive the love He is offering.  There is no wondering involved…so if you are, now is the time to ask yourself “What is the hold up?” If this is where you are at…we have some work to do!  Write to me!

As God’s disciples we have a twofold purpose often they overlap however I have broken them apart so that you might be able to receive a deeper understand.

The Mission – Is a Burden we carry for the lost when we love God…He tells us clearly that His desire is that not one should perish and so this should always be in our hearts as well. There should be a sense of urgency for all to know…not just those you love but those you do not know and even those who have hurt you.  God’s calling you to step out of your comfort zone pursue His plan to help save the lost.  This mission begins with prayer…First, those that have hurt you as well as the family members who you are hesitate to share your relationship with Jesus; make them part of your daily prayer, when and if God wants to use you to speak into their lives He will give you the opportunity and the words. Next those you don’t know or maybe those who are an acquaintance i.e. co-worker, grocery clerk, neighbor, gym this is your mission field. Begin your day asking God for opportunities. 

Romans 10:14-15  How then are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? How are they to believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? But how are they to preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

The word preacher and preach are the same here in the Greek they are not a title or position but a call; to herald and proclaim meaning to speak out without hesitation, this applies to every believer/disciple to proclaim with boldness…the Good News.  To be ready and aware of those around you…ask God how you can bring Your Truth and Love to this person.  I want to clear something up right here…many believers had been led to believe they need to know all kinds of scripture or have a testimony ready to share.  This is not true!  We start by loving this person…listening, giving your time, are you getting it?  It is the relationship you build that will speak volumes, be conscious of what God is telling you and how He wants you to respond.

God’s Word is Truth inspired by God  and 2 Timothy 3:17 it further says “so that the man or woman of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work.”

Acts 1:8 “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.”

You and I are equipped, through faith and God’s Word we have all we need.  The Holy Spirit will bring the words to your mouth and your life is a demonstration of God’s love and Truth.

There is a cost you and I must  abandon our agenda and pursue God’s agenda. As the daughters of God sharing His Truth with others is a privilege,  when we give ourselves completely to God every part we become tools in the Hands of God, to be used by Him for His good purpose. (Romans 6:13 LB)

Ministry – Because God loves us we are compelled to share this love with others this is the heart of discipleship.  Discipleship mainly happens within our home church it is an opportunity to love and encourage believers God has put in our lives.

“But instead we will remain strong and always sincere in our love as we express the truth. All our direction and ministries will flow from Christ and lead you and I deeper into Him, the anointed Head of his body, the church.  For His “body”  yes, you and I have been formed in His image and are closely joined together and constantly connected as one. And each of us has been given divine gifts to contribute to the growth of all; and as these gifts operate effectively throughout the whole body, we are built up and made perfect in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16 TPT personalized

James 5:17 TPT says “Confess and acknowledge how you have offended one another and then pray for one another to be instantly healed, for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer!”

Hebrews 10:25 TPT “This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing. In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.”

If it was not for two wonderful beautiful women of God, I would not be here right now writing to you…They never gave up…They just kept on loving me without judgement.  This is how we now as believers need to love.

“Each of us are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 NASB

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”  NASB

If you say you love God but harbor offense and bitterness towards others then you are not following God…God’s greatest two commandments to you and I is to love God with all your heart and to love others as you love yourself.  This solicits a question or two…Do you love yourself?  Have you forgiven yourself?  Have you experienced God and His love for you?  Do you believe that God loves you and because of Jesus you are forgiven completely?  If there is a “no” in there then again I urge you to write me and to also find a woman of God to speak God’s Truth into your life.

Blessing, Sister Laurie

If you would like to personally write to me, I welcome you to do so.  I would love to share what God is speaking to me and pray for you, pour into you so that you may  grow your relationship with our loving Savior Jesus Christ.  It is in the sharing and studying of God’s Word that we find the freedom only God, our Forever Father can bring.

Laurie Acuna, Minister JesusTruth/Generations Church 425 Greenvalley Drive Andover, Kansas 67002

Email: JesusTruthBeliever@gmail.com

Answer the Questions

Galatians 3:3 says “Are you so foolish? Having embraced God’s truth and received the gift of the Spirit, are you now allowing the flesh to direct your journey? Have you forgotten some or all that God has done and promised?” personalized

Today these are the burning questions on my heart…not just for you my sisters in Christ Jesus but for myself as well.  We must take a deeper look at what you and I believe…I am going to let God speak to us through His Living Word…

”But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in us sweet sisters.  It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.” Micah 6:8 MSG personalized

There is a daily struggle…Paul says it best, “I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn I can’t make myself do right. I want to but I can’t.  When I want to do good, I don’t; and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway.” Romans 7:18-19 TLB

How are we living out our Salvation? Our faith in God? When our faith is built on God’s Truth it can withstand any storm.  “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock (God’s ways).  And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand (man’s ways).  And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and its collapse was great.”  Matthew 7:24-27 NASB

The Rock is God’s Truth…His Living Word…His Son, Jesus who came, suffered, died as your sin offering and then beat the sin death causes through His resurrection but that’s not all…God promises a supernatural helper for each of us the Holy Spirit.  Eternal Life, Heaven, a New World…where we are no longer held captive to disease, pain, loss, emotional strive.   All of this is the ROCK!

Ok cannot help it…a small aside here…Peter was not the rock, think about it and then read over the scripture…Matthew 16:13-28.  Would God entrust His Church to just one man? NO!  Jesus is saying “I just revealed to you who I am, the Messiah, Savior to the world and this is the Rock, the Truth I will build my church upon!  Verse 23 confirms this when Jesus rebukes Peter for his limited understanding “But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s purposes, but men’s.”  We must read all the scriptures surrounding any given scripture in order to fully understand what God is saying to us.

What you believe put your faith in defines who you are…God tells us we are His creation, His personal workmanship…therefore we must have confidence that He would not just leave to our own devices.  Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  You see because we have faith and a growing relationship with Jesus we are then compelled to live and do the work of the Kingdom.

Here is the truth, God is working in you and me… this causes a shift in us, a desire grows to do His work because it pleases Him.  “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;  for it is God who is at work in you, both to [a]desire and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13 NASB

Now we come to not an end but a beginning…God tells us to be ready, “I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.  2 Timothy 4:1-2 MSG

You my faithful sisters, there is an urgency in the air…we know the last days are upon us so heed these final words found in Titus 2:11-14 MSG “God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.”

Go back to the beginning…Answer the questions, ask God to reveal the areas of your life still clinging to the old you! Be quick to repent and embrace God’s Truth in a fresh and deeper way!

Blessing,

Sister Laurie

God’s Mercy a Stepping Stone to Salvation

What does it mean in the Bible when scripture talks about God’s Mercy? How does God’s Mercy play a part in the gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ?

Mercy defined in Webster’s Dictionary is “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”

In the Old Testament, God’s mercy or forgiveness without judgement is displayed over and over again as God pursues a relationship with His children.  Like the Shepherd and sheep relationship spoken of in Psalms, you and I are the stubborn, selfish sheep who have no self-control.  Without the Good Shepherd they and we find ourselves leaving the protection of the Shepherd for what we think is a greener pasture.  This mercy God so freely gives is the deepest demonstration of God’s love.  It is God’s patience in action.

The word “mercy’ in Hebrew has several words…

 “Racham” means; to love or have compassion, to have a disposition of mercy in Psalm 116:5 NKJV “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful.”

“kaphar” means; forgive, cleanse, pardon or reconcile Deuteronomy 21:8 KJV “Be merciful, O Lord, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them.”

“Kapporeth” means to cover, it is the cover for the Ark of the Covenant where atonement for sin was demonstrated, Exodus 25:22 KJV “And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.”

 “Chesed” means goodness, kindness or mercifulness in Psalm 136:1 NKJV “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

From these words we gleam a picture of how God’s mercy was a constant in the Old Testament.  This is still true today however God took it up a notch…God laid aside His splendor, His position as the perfect and faultless One.  He knew precisely the price that would be paid, the ridicule, accusations, rumors and gossip that would label Him a glutton, drunkard, friend of sinners…those society had cast away and He would even be called an imposter. His mercy demonstrated would involve physical suffering, mental anguish and spiritual agony.  Yet He came…

In the New testament this word mercy takes on a deeper meaning…in the Greek there are two words;

“Eleemon” means to have pity on, to show compassion or to be merciful in Matthew 5:7 NKJV “ Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.”

“Oiktirmos” means compassion or pity as well.  It is the idea of divine forbearance in showing compassion and passing over sins. Romans 12:1 NKJV “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

His coming to earth as the Christ, as Jesus of Nazareth was a straightforward act of mercy, self-sacrifice that finished in the cross of Calvary for each of His children.  He took the weight of sin for all of us and demonstrated His love and mercy…this is our Shepherd.  Jesus told us Himself, that He had come that we might have life and have it abundantly.  “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV Salvation happens through God’s mercy completed through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Probably the most well-known verse in the Bible defines mercy best “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV

Mercy is God’s patience in action.  This patience never wants us to perish, He is calling us to repent, but those who refuse will receive judgment as spoken of in 2 Peter 3:9 ad Proverbs 29:1.  God desires today to extend mercy to all His children and that mercy is part of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  The mercy seat of old was sprinkled with blood by the high priest but now Jesus Christ is our mercy seat…only through His mercy can we “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.”

Today, sweet sister receive the gift of God’s mercy through His Son Jesus Christ…a simple prayer of repentance and acknowledgement of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for you is needed. 

Blessing,

Sister Laurie

Not a Test God!

If you are anything like me, you do not like tests!  I get nervous, palms sweaty, if it’s an oral test or having to answer a difficult question from a teacher or other person in authority I get really nervous.  Even when I am confident of the answer, suddenly…I am speechless, and I cannot find the right words.  For me, a test is confrontational, and I just do not do well.  All that being said, the Bible speaks about God’s testing. As a believer and follower of Jesus…you will be tested…no two ways about it!  So let us talk about testing and how in life we all will be tested, ALL meaning even the non-believer, new believer and what you might call the mature believer.  I want to stop right there and clarify the new and mature believer…we are all in the same boat, sailing to our eternal destination.  I know I have touched on this before and it is extremely important to not put labels on ourselves or others.  We are all moving in the same direction, mature believers do not have all the answers.  They, just like the new believer must study, look, ask for help, pray, and seek for answers in God’s Word.  Once you have been born-again, became a believer…you have total access to your Heavenly Father, and He is the same for every believer.  Mature believers struggle, face troubles and testing just as the less experienced believer.  Now let us move on…

Tests are designed to demonstrate knowledge and point out areas for improvement.  In math or history, a test will show a persons ability and help the student know what areas need further study.  God tests His children in the same manner.  Here is where many times you might find yourself confused. When ministering, I have heard more than once someone say God did this to me, caused this illness, tragedy, loss, situation, or circumstance.  I want to make this perfectly clear…GOD DOES NOT CAUSE ILLNESS, TRAGEDY, LOSS, UNFAVORABLE SITUATIONS OR CIRCUMSTANCES. In His Word, God tells us there will be difficulties. Matthew 6:34 says “ So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Also “These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.” And then in John 16:33,  “Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.” John 14:27 NASB  Throughout the Bible God shares stories about His people and their troubles, always God also shows them the way out.

It is in these times that God reveals what you know and what you have developed within your heart.  Every situation is a teaching moment…a process in your life.  In fact, without His testing, there is no opportunity to grow and become who He created you to be.  It is in those times that you are strengthen so that you might use this strength for His purpose.  More is happening than the circumstances you find yourself experiencing, God is working behind the scenes.  When you look with the right perspective, you will find God bringing out His character in us or revealing that you have a deeper need of His influence. James 1:13 reminds us, “No one is to say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”  The more often you understand and respond to God’s priorities, the closer you will come to the fullness of all He has designed and purposed in your life.

Looking at the three types of tests…

The Test of Servanthood

As a believer you are all called to the life of a servant.  You demonstrate your love for God by loving and serving others. This love is expressed when you put your personal desires aside for the benefit of others.  Personal sacrifice is part of this servanthood, giving of your time and resources within healthy boundaries…this is not a part-time position but a lifelong pursuit as a believer.  You must be ready when God calls on you.  The most difficult test of servanthood is when you are treated like a servant, maybe you feel that you should have received recognition or possibly you are mistreated “persecuted” while serving. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10 NASB  Here you must check your motive…in today’s world you may find yourself having a selfish view, the world is focused on individual rights and rewards, pride clouds your ability to serve…God’s view is you serve without return. Knowing you serve a loving Father is more than enough. 

There are many biblical examples; Ezekiel spoke to God’s people many times through embarrassing ways, Noah suffered under years of ridicule as he built the ark and warned people of what was coming, Hosea married and remarried a prostitute despite what those around him must have thought and in spite of her unrepentant heart.  These and others demonstrate that the test of servanthood is designed to reveal the level of obedience a believer will offer.  

Your servant heart is evidence of a believer willing to go and do as God has asked, leaving your personal comfort and desires to meet the needs of others. 

The Test of Sacrificial Love

Love is a concept confused by its multiple uses.  For you love might be a flood of emotions, warm feelings or possibly a decision of commitment despite your emotions.  Perhaps love has lost all meaning, it seems unattainable or able to satisfy the cravings of your broken or troubled heart.  The world may have confused your thoughts concerning love however here you see that the love required of a believer is sacrificial.  God will develop this love in your heart if you allow Him through testing.  The test of a sacrificial love comes when you are confronted with a command to  action from your Savior.  Love can mean many things, but love that has a price is clearly sacrificial love.  In the life of a believer there will be many choices that oppose the world.  There will be a cost in this love…a financial, deep emotional requirement, and hard-fought forgiveness are some of characteristics of sacrificial love.  Paul speaks of denying himself, you will be called upon to deprive yourself of things others pursue happily. Other times you will be called to forgive and extend love to those who certainly do not deserve it.

There is a distinctive difference between sacrificial love and unconditional love, but they flow from the same heart.  Unconditional love is love without strings attached, love offered freely and not base it on what someone does for you in return.  Sacrificial love focuses on the one giving love and the length that person will go to maintain that love.

Abraham’s trip to Mount Moriah with his son Isaac found in Genesis 22 is a significant example of the test of sacrificial love.  Abraham had to have been traumatized by the possible outcome of this journey. How could God ask such a thing?  Abraham may have been thinking the price is to great or unfair! This raises the question how could he obey, how did he?  While the Bible does not give details to his emotional struggle we know it was tremendous.  You get a glimpse of how Abraham was able to obey in Genesis 22:12 with an angel’s observation,  “now I know that you fear the God”.  This fear is the ultimate form of love and trust in God.  God was Abraham’s greatest focus and priority, and obedience to God’s commands…even the ones that did not make any sense.  Like Abraham many times this test will come without the desired explanation or understanding.  You may feel thoughts of overwhelming unfairness, defenses are raised, and rationalizing happens.  We know the outcome, God stepped in and stopped Abraham’s act of obedience.  Generations to come will and are continuing to be blessed because of it.

Do you remember in the Bible where Jesus asked the rich young man to sell everything he had to follow Jesus?  Most likely that will never happen for you.  Yet some of you who are reading this right now maybe experiencing that very thing.  There maybe consequences that have put you in the position of losing everything and yet I am confident that if you respond with that same “fear” God will restore the loss…His way NOT yours.  The truth is that what God has for you is much bigger when you take the step of faith in sacrificial love. 

What you are unwilling to part with moves into the place of God and begins to control you. Yes, people, places and material things that become obsessions are idolatry in its clearest expression.  Anytime you say no to God and choose something or someone else, you sow seed for future destruction, and you take a clear step away from the God who called you His.  The more you cultivate a giving spirit, the more easily you can give what God requires. Now listen, I am not saying to give everything away…but if you have trouble responding with compassion and self-sacrifice in times you are confronted with an opportunity to meet a need, you will not be able to give sacrificially when God calls upon you.

It is important to avoid the attention of others when you give, only then will you shutout the pride that causes you to desire to hold on to what is yours.  Be intentional in your giving, not careless.  Knowing the price and choosing to give on purpose brings the experience to a place of worship. Remember I am not speaking of finances alone, there are many opportunities to give in serving others.

The Test of Faithfulness

Faithfulness is bound in constancy and dependability.  It is the choice to remain steadfast regardless of the changing circumstances. God’s faithfulness is demonstrated in the constancy of His love regardless of your worthiness or actions.  Simply…God still loves you and is extending His hand to you when you are right in the thick of sinful choices or behavior.  Your faithfulness is demonstrated in the constancy of your obedience regardless of your understanding or comfort.  It is remaining faithful despite your circumstance or situation, having the confidence that God is there right with you…the test of faithfulness is in your reaction.  Your faithfulness is evident when you look to His promises no matter what the world says, believing God will provide a way.  Joseph is an amazing example of faithfulness…more than thirteen years of near-death experiences, suffering and imprisonment and yet his faithfulness never faltered. In the end God restored his family, bought abundant provision for not only Joseph and his family but all of Egypt.  Joseph did not  know what God was doing yet he remained faithful.

How do you react, were does your mind go and in what does it dwell?  How do your emotions and behavior reflect your faith in God?  This is the test…where is your trust?  Look at Simon Peter, he allowed the confusion and his emotions of Jesus’ arrest to test his faith and he failed three times…however later when he had the opportunity Peter jumped out of the boat to reach Jesus and ask forgiveness, this act was an opportunity for restoration. God uses your circumstances to teach you the hard lessons of faithfulness.  The Israelites are a great example of God’s love and faithfulness, over and over again they separated themselves from God by complaining and seeking after selfish desires instead of trusting God.  He will let you experience the consequences of your choices to help you discover how completely unsatisfying they are. God never gives up and He will never give up on you!

You will become consistently faithful by using the commonsense God gave you, having a biblical plan for daily living which includes finishing what you start, keeping your promises and giving of your resources when no one else sees. You must have a plan when faced with a challenge, start now by removing anything you sense that could get in your way.  In other words, when objects that breed unfaithfulness are eliminated, you have limited your choice to faithfulness in times of crisis.  Faithfulness starts with faith.  You should aggressively build your faith…understand what it means to fear God and call upon the Holy Spirit to help you walk in a path of obedience.  Faithfulness is tied to repentance…you are faithful when you are quick to turn from wrongdoing and ask God to forgive you…seeking His help in resisting sin.

In closing remember…passing the tests of servanthood, sacrificial love, and faithfulness begins by knowing who you are in Christ, committing to follow God and allowing Him to reign over every part of your life.  Those who do not live to give God glory will not experience the lasting freedom and peace He is offering.  Do not let pride stumble you in serving others…Paul would not allow people to worship him, he reacts strongly, pushing away the moment in no uncertain terms (read Acts 14:8-14).  Be careful what you attach your heart to.  Do not be afraid to love what you should love, and how you should love, but do not choose to love what is unworthy of eternal attention. When faithfulness is a priority in your life, it will be easier to respond faithfully in times of crisis.   Finally, surround yourself with others who are on the same journey, cultivate your faith and relationship with God by surrendering daily to His Ways…from the place of surrender God can and will work in your life.

Romans 8:38-39 AMP tells you “For I am convinced and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt… that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the unlimited love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Blessings, Sister Laurie

Living with an Unhealthy Heart

Last writing dear sisters I spoke of having a healthy heart.  Today I wanted to share with you how living with a heart that has been damaged keeps you from the freedom God is offering all His children.  You were created to live a full life with purpose, confidence, love, with the strength…not let the littlest offense send your mind and spirit reeling.  Once again I want to remind you of the connect between the mind and spirit or what the Bible refers to as your heart.  Your heart is where your true self is revealed, where daily decisions and actions are born.  This means each of us must let our spirit be in charge, it is our spirit that is in communication with the Holy Spirit. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, you are the daughters of God.  For you, my sister have not received a spirit of oppression leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as His daughter by which you cry out, Abba! Father!  The Spirit Himself testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God.” Romans 8: 14-16 NASB personalized   Remember, your spirit must become bigger than your mind because out of your spirit flows the passion and power of God through the work of the Holy Spirit.  A healthy heart grows and flows forth for the purposes of God’s Kingdom and benefits all those God puts in your circle of influence.

There are three types of damaged heart each has its own characteristics however they can work with each other building strongholds in your life that does not allow God’s Truth to reach your spirit. These strongholds reside in you mind and block the work God wants to do within your heart. That is why living with one of these wounds or a combination of them will bring broken relationships and strife into your life. An unhealthy heart will not only devastate the work of God in your life, but it will have an effect on those you love. This is a battleground, the devil works to hold you captive in unforgiveness, bitterness and self-focus, let us look closely at these three hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to identity areas in your heart that need housekeeping and healing.

The Wounded Heart

You will face hurt and disappointment, mistreatment and criticism in life, there is no getting around it. Your past and your ability to forgive plays a huge part in your heart condition.  As a woman you were wired to nurture and love, be the strong one emotionally.  But many times you find yourself coping in your own strength, suppressing feelings, or denying disappointments even abuse. Emotions that are neglected will resurface, in the form of a wounded heart.  If these emotions are left untreated wrong thinking becomes a way for bitterness to form.  Bitterness or hidden anger toward someone who has hurt you is compromising your heart health, that hurt will slowly move into hate and will change how you react to situations based on past experiences. “Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God’s best blessings. Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.” Hebrews 12:15 TLB  Neglecting the wound gives the devil entrance remember sin is crouching at the door. 

Right now, your saying…I am not wounded, I have forgiven them…yet you live guarded, with your own armor, suspicious of people or the motives behind their actions. Is that you? Do you trust? The wounded heart battles paranoia unable to experience kind efforts from others.  Another evidence of a wounded heart is fear or deep anxiety.  Unresolved hurt or anger will lead you to expect more of the same.  The smallest failure of another individual opens old wounds they hold you captive and unable to move forward.  Unresolved pain does not diminish with time, rather strongholds become larger within your heart making a healthy relationship with God and others impossible.  

How then can I be free of the hurt I feel, the bitterness and anger I have been holding on to?  Carefully choose a woman of God, find a safe place, and let your story be told, let your emotions vent.  God cannot heal what we fail to give Him! Yes, God was there, and He saw however we need to share it with Him.  Here is where forgiveness comes in, the only true way to move past even the most horrible hurt is through forgiveness. “For if you forgive other people for their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14 NASB Only through forgiveness can you stop bitterness and hate from withholding what Jesus did for you on the cross.  Jesus gives you the ability to forgive because He forgave those who crucified Him and you as well.  This is not up for negotiation…forgiveness of sins and forgiveness of what other have done to you goes hand in hand. The choice is yours and so it takes willingness on your part.  Some people like holding on the hurt, it becomes a platform for attention, an excuse to hate.  Sadly, the damage caused by holding on keeps you in broken limbo.  Your ability to forgive is essential in the healing processing, no matter how difficult you must lay those hurts at Jesus’ feet and forgive those who have hurt you. Ask God to heal your heart and then declare that healing over yourself.   When you have a healthy heart, you are not careless or naïve in your view of people, but you are open and able to believe the best about others’ actions and motives.  Dwelling on the hurt, reliving the circumstances or experience allows the devil to continue to fuel your wounds.  If you find yourself in this situation I strongly suggest reading “Battlefields of the Minds”, by Joyce Meyers.

The Hypocritical Heart

A hypocritical heart is one that fails to achieve honesty in view of itself. It focuses on the faults of others while at the same time ignores their own situation or sin. Luke 6:42 is well known for its description of hypocrisy “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”   This heart condition is more concerned with how things appear then what is going on inside. It hides behind a mask, there is a disconnect between what is seen and what is true this leads to a destructive heart condition. Many times, this heart condition attaches itself to a wounded heart, ignoring what is brewing inside, pointing the finger elsewhere.  A focus on the failings of others reveals your hypocrisy. The hypocritical heart engages in gossip…spreading less than kind words about others.  Jesus suggests that the right response when we witness another’s sin is mourning, not private satisfaction.  Heart check right here!  Is that you? Something like, “It’s about time Sally got caught with her hand in the cookie jar” said with a smirk.  Love does not desire the sin to be magnified or the punishment to be without mercy. The Bible commands us to guard and evaluate our own heart.  If you fail to do so or focus greater energy on evaluating others, hypocrisy is in full bloom.  One easy way to identify hypocrisy in your own heart is by taking inventory of your life.  On Sundays at church, in public, or at home…are you the same person? React the same? Is there a hidden part of you? Ouch!  For those of you who are Moms your consistency speaks volumes, if you “put on” an act at church your children will see church, see Jesus as their Savior as nothing more than shallow or unreal.  It is your responsibility to represent Jesus to your children with consistency and love in every area of your life.

The first step in healing this heart condition is humility. We must take an honest look at our life; we must humble ourselves and acknowledge our wrongdoings before any process of healing can begin. Repentance is key.  Many times, this repentance must be made to those you have hurt or gossiped about.  You cannot hold back…those negative words spoken about another must be forgiven.  A healthy heart does not allow embarrassment or shame keep it from offering a heartfelt apology.  You must adopt a habit of self-evaluation based in God’s Word and let the Holy Spirit work within you to expose wrong thinking.

The Greedy Heart

A greedy heart has the desire for one’s own benefit. Luke 12:15 NASB warns “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed.”  As a sister in Jesus Christ, your heart must be void of greed.  Another way to describe a greedy heart is to say it is self-focused or selfish.  The Bible defines greed as a form of idolatry, revealing a love for things of this world, setting your priorities on self-satisfaction and recognition. The greedy heart focuses on things that cannot truly appease; wealth, popularity and power are illusions as they cannot fill your need to be satisfied. Your temptation to have what others enjoy can be surprising powerful.  The greed or your pursuit of self-gratification can quickly become bondage, blocking your ability to be sensitive to God’s purpose for your life.  Idolatry is a clear violation of God’s first and most significant commandment.  You, my sister must not let anything interfere or hinder your devotion to the One True God, your Heavenly Father.  He made this commandment first because it touches every aspect of your life.  When your focus becomes inward or upon worldly aspirations God’s position in your life becomes out of focus.

Healing such a heart begins with confession; acknowledging the greed which opens the way for God to remove it. What is important to God must become your guide.  When you take the “me” out of a situation and look to honor God it changes your position, there is a shift, a newfound sense of worth.  Your true worth in found in God and not in the mirror or acquired goods of this world.   God has the right to supreme leadership in the your life and to the unhindered devotion of the your heart.   When your devotion is centered on God, He provides safety and protection. God is asking you to make Him first in your life, when your focus, thinking, and desires belong to Him you will be satisfied.  Nothing else in the world has the lasting, supernatural power that your devotion to God brings.  You were born with a hunger that only is satisfied through your relationship with God.

Expose right now, what is hiding in your heart dear sister. Become sensitive to those things that can bring sickness or destroy your heart.  The symptoms of these three heart conditions hide in the dark places of your life, you must expose the negative experiences of your life and allow God to heal them.  You have come so far in your relationship with God.  He is calling you to go deeper…the Holy Spirit within you is working with your spirit to bring healing.  Through God’s Word the Truth is revealed…With God you can face the past, heal the wounds, say no to wrong thinking, close the door on feelings that do not line up with who God says you are…His daughter, the daughter of the Most High King!  Today! Proclaim your position…you belong to the One True God, loved, valued, worthy to do the work and live a life full of purpose. 

“Create, begin the process in me clean and purify my heart, make it healthy according to Your standard, focused on You God, I ask You My Loving Father to renew and remove, to do the work necessary so that my spirit would be steadfast and positioned to receive all that You have for me so that I am able to serve You and fulfill the purpose You have given me.” Psalm 51:10 personalized

Blessings, Sister Laurie

Healthy Heart

Our heart or better known as your “mind and spirit” will shape your relationship with God, people, and the choices you make in your life. Everything proceeds from the heart.  It is our true self, revealed and lived out daily.  Jesus works through your heart giving you the ability to live for God’s purpose.  God intends for all His children to work out of their heart, sharing in  different ways all He has done for them through Jesus Christ.  In my current studies, it is said, “The believer, yes, you my sister must allow the beneficial traits of the heart (in this case spirit) to emerge unhindered, while cleansing your heart (mind) from those attitudes and ideas that can be destructive.”

 For me this means we must let our spirit be in charge, it is the spirit that is in communication with the Holy Spirit. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the daughters of God.  For you, my sister have not received a spirit of oppression leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as His daughter by which you cry out, Abba! Father!  The Spirit Himself testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God.” Romans 8: 14-16 NASB personalized

 I often say,  ”Your spirit must become bigger than your mind because out of your spirit flows the passion and power of God through the work of the Holy Spirit.”  A healthy heart grows and flows forth for the purposes of God’s Kingdom and benefits all those God puts in your circle of influence.

There are three attributes of a healthy heart let us take a closer look at these three elements and how they work together so that you and I will be enabled to live our life full of purpose and love as God intended.

The Thirsty Heart

Matthew 5:6 tells us “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” The hunger and thirst speaks of what do we have our attention on…is it positioned to see the world through Jesus’ eyes?  How does someone become hungry and thirsty? Our hunger was always there! We are spiritual beings and we long for an intimate relationship with our Creator.  It begins when we acknowledge that only through Jesus and the redemptive love in His death and resurrection for you personally.   As we recognize His love…come into an understanding of the sacrifice made and embrace without question that we were dead spiritually and near death physically.  How many times can you say if not for God I would have…  It is at that point we fall in love with God igniting a passion to know Him, our hunger and thirst is revealed. This “righteousness” simply stated is “to be right with God”, only through this position we realize who we are and that only God can fill our emptiness, satisfy our spirit and bring our flesh under control.

Having a thirsty heart is an important part of the supernatural ministry God desires to pour out through His children. If we thirst for God, He is able to work His purposes in our lives without hindrances. When our heart is thirsty we are able to maintain the right perspective on our daily life, God’s purpose for us becomes central in how we live.

The Repentant Heart

“Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19 We must be quick to repent, only with a heart that has been forgiven can we receive a fresh filling through the Holy Spirit. When we confess wrongdoing and choose to turn away from it, God is able to help us experience the born-again life spoken of in His Word. It is ONLY through repentance (taking responsibility) can we experience the abundant life Christ came to give. Being a woman after God’s own heart is not being a sinless person, but a repentant one. There are several examples in God’s Word about how repentance allows God to restore the broken, bring freedom to the captives. David is an excellent source for understanding how powerful a repentant heart can be. David’s pursuit of restoration found in Psalm 51 is an excellent example of how a repentant heart rebuilds our relationship with God and leads us back to a “right standing with God.” When we work from a repentant heart, we surrender ourselves and allow God to do protective work in our hearts which allows us to not hold on to sin that works life-long destruction. Even now you and I face temptation daily however when we hold tightly to a repentant heart with the help of the Holy Spirit we can overcome and become victors in Christ. A repentant heart is cultivated by going back to the beginning. What is your first true experience of Christ…identify the confession of sin, your repentance. Did you have a clear sense of your unworthiness and failures? Was it in this moment you came to the end of yourself realizing without Jesus you could not continue? Were you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Living in chaos? Look back, see clearly the impact sin has had in our life and the consequences. This is where you see how forgiveness of sin is vital to your heart health. This reality and knowing your need of Jesus, holding tightly being absolutely dependent on Jesus, His Truth and Love will help you maintain a heart of repentance.

The Teachable Heart

Many times, when I am ministering, I conclude with asking the attendants about the relationships in their life. Self-examination is necessary…do you find yourself isolated? Do you have a continually need to be right? Are you able to see the fruit in another believer and receive direction from them? Who speaks God’s Truth into your life? Are you accountable to a woman of God who looks to God for direction in her life? Careful selection is required and accountability a must! A healthy Heart requires fellowship with other believers, believers who are pursuing God, you know, those that have that same hunger and thirst to be right with God. You should know by now where I am headed…a teachable heart is reflective of a humble heart. If you find yourself unable to be taught…there may be a stronghold full of hurt guarded by a wall of pride. This MUST be brought down! An unteachable heart will find itself lost to God’s Truth…weak and prey to the devil and temptation. A teachable heart can only grow out of a humble heart. We must acknowledge that this journey we are on is a continual learning experience, arrival happens when you trade in your earthly body for the one God has prepared for us to wear through eternity. If we are not growing in our relationship with God, we are stagnant, God calls us to a constant forward motion.

A healthy Heart is evidence of God working from the inside out. A part of the heart (our spirit) He desires to build is a thirsty, repentant, and teachable. Such a heart knows it desperately needs God, His presence, His grace, and His direction. One last thought…pride works in the opposite direction. When a person’s hunger is for selfish gain, and feels she is above the need to confess wrongdoing, that individual is headed toward a colossal fall. Only with a humble heart can your hunger and thirst be satisfied; can you fully surrender to your Forever Father and receive all He has for you…Right Now!

“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” Colossians 3:15-17 MSG

Blessings, Sister Laurie 

God’s Truth vs Opinion

Opinion is at the heart of conflict among believers.  These opinions quickly undermine harmony and dull our relationship with God.  Unfortunately, many times church doctrine has be written with the same opinions or possibly what I am going to call nearsighted understanding.  To have nearsighted understanding means that an individual embraces some of God’s Word and dismisses scriptures that do not line up with their personal opinion.  The truth is God’s Word is Truth and we can neither add to nor take away ONE Word found in God’s Word. God speaks through people His inspired and trustworthy Words.  Within His Word we find Holy Truth…recorded by God’s chosen disciples, prophets, apostles, or the Words of Jesus Himself documented by those that knew Him, eyewitnesses.

 2 Timothy 3:15-17 MSG  says “We couldn’t be more sure of what we saw and heard—God’s glory, God’s voice. The prophetic Word was confirmed to us. You will do well to keep focusing on it. It is the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts. The main thing to keep in mind here is that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private opinion. And why? Because it is not something concocted in the human heart. Prophecy resulted when the Holy Spirit prompted men and women to speak God’s Word.”

 We must also look at 2 Peter 1:21 TLB, “No true prophecy comes from human initiative but is inspired by the moving of the Holy Spirit upon those who spoke the message that came from God.”

God knows us so well, after all we are His creation.  He even knew that we would take His Word of Truth and try to put our own spin on it.  In order for all of God’s children to live in harmony we must recognize that each of us are on our own journey with God and that it is God’s desire that we accept one another  Romans 15:7.

In Galatians 5:15 MSG,  we receive a warning, a critical spirit is dangerous, “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you do not use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That is an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? ”  This freedom is found in God’s Word…His Words not ours…this Love is God’s Love…not ours.  We fall short when we try to mix our opinion, worldly belief and love with God’s Way and Truth.  It is so important to walk continually checking our eyesight and making sure we are seeing clearly through Jesus’ eyes and not our own. We must embrace all God’s Word not just the scriptures that we like or that bring an answer we want to hear.

No one and no opinion must ever be lifted higher than God and God’s Truth.  Three of my life verses come to mind here:

“We are destroying arguments and all arrogance raised against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB  Ask yourself this question daily…does my thinking, opinion, decision making process, belief, and action line up with God?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything, worthy of praise, think about these things.”  Philippians 4:8 NASB  Where do you find your focus, thoughts, and emotions?  Every sinful desire begins in our mind, we must keep our mind in check with God’s Truth.

“For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”              Hebrews 4:12 NASB Are you daily allowing God, using His Sword of Truth to separate worldly opinions and attitudes to be surgically removed from you?  This takes surrender to God’s Word and His Word alone.

Only when we are surrendered to God can we love one another and be united in God’s Truth, and be the one body,  God has called us to be…Ephesians 4:3 tells us “ make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” We also know…”For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body’s parts do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another.” 

In Romans 14 cultural differences or opinions began to cause conflict among the believers.  These opinions were outside of God’s Word, the fundamentals of salvation and behaviors the Bible commands or condemns are not disputable matters. In other words, God’s Word is not to be disputed, you are God’s child, and we MUST embrace ALL of His Word.  It is without an expiration date; it is active and living today just as it was when God gave it to us.  We MUST NOT let  nonessential issues, cultural differences, and personal opinions destroy the fellowship God has given us with one another, love for one another centered in Jesus Christ.  That love I am speaking of is not denominational, cultural or tradition…it is embracing God what binds all believers into one body.

“So warmly welcome each other into God’s family, just as Christ has warmly welcomed you; then God will be glorified!”  Romans 15:7 TLB personalized

Blessings, Sister Laurie 

More Than Conquerors

More Than Conquerors

Romans 8 speaks boldly about our position in God’s Kingdom, many people say it is their favorite because it encourages, strengthens, and builds them up.  The Holy Spirit is spoken of here more than in any other chapter of the Bible.  Personally, I  agree with those who cling to the Truth found within the power filled Words. Freedom is at the heart of the Holy Spirit’s work in us.  2 Corinthians 3:17 confirms this Truth “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.”

My struggles to live the Christian life in my own strength has been both frustrating and disappointing.  That allusive victory spoken of in Romans 8 is completely unattainable on my own.  It has taken many years to reach the end of myself and truly allow the Holy Spirit, who is the promised “Helper” to begin the necessary work in my spirit. I praise God for His unending grace and mercy as I surrender to the Holy Spirit, who continues to enable me to be victorious in my struggles and at the same time empowers me to pierce enemy territory with God’s Truth. This is victorious living…God wants us to focus on the victories giving Him ALL the praise and glory!  Even now as I am writing, going over my class notes on Romans it is God that inspires me through the Holy Spirit working in me. I pray my understanding of these scriptures will inspire you as well to go deeper, relinquish more of yourself and acknowledge that freedom comes through your relationship with the One True God.

Right now, are there difficulties in your life?  Dear Sister, let the Spirit remind you that “Jesus, who died and was raised to life is at the right hand of the Father interceding for you” Romans 8:34.  Let these Words of Truth fortify your spirit by assuring you that “in all these things (your current situation) you are more than a conqueror through Him who loves you” Romans 8:37 personalized.

Let us look at Romans 8:28, the NASB version says,  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Within this scripture there are five declarations of your position as God’s child and how God through His Son, Jesus Christ has already conquered your enemies and promises to work ALL things: situations, circumstances, even consequences out for His purpose in your life.  Take note of how Paul begins the scripture “And we know”, as believers God has revealed His Truth, it is not unknown but KNOWN, revealed with certainty and now here in 8:28 these five certainties about God and His faithfulness are declared.

  1. God works in the lives of His people. Just look at the Old Testament, story upon story…situations that seem impossible and yet there is God working, intervening for His children.
  2. God works for the good of His people.  Jesus told the disciples that he would have to leave in order for the Holy Spirit to come…it is through the Holy Spirit we now are enabled to do the same good that the disciples did.  That same good that Peter spoke to Cornelius and his household.  Like Paul, Peter begins his message with certainty, “You yourselves know the thing that happened throughout Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
  3. God works for the good of His people in all thingsAll things includes all circumstance, all situations, all consequences, Psalms 23:4 confirms “ Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” You  may not understand everything that happens or that your circumstances will be without pain.  But as Joseph said to his brothers, “ As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to keep many people alive.”  God will if you allow Him to use those troubles to benefit His Kingdom and purpose.
  4. God works for the good of those who love Him.  This is God’s promise to His children who love Him, who seek His direction and follow in His Ways  I can testify with conviction that we are all a work in progress, do not let the enemy’s lies keep you from receiving the good promised. What a comfort to have the certainty of God’s good working even when you cannot see or understand.
  5. God works for the good of those who have been called according to His purpose.  God tells us in His Word that He does not want one of His children to be lost.  The Bible at its core is a story of redemption for all God’s people. God did not send evil circumstances into Joseph’s life; but He foreknew that these troubles would occur. God worked each struggle out for good, positioning Joseph and ultimately fulfilled His purpose in Joseph’s life “to keep many people alive.” Genesis 50:20   When you came to Christ, with a repent heart and made Him your Savior the “calling” is confirmed.  Therefore, you can stand with certainty that He has a purpose for your life, and you can be assured that all the days of your life prior to your salvation has been reconciled and will be used by God.

God has an ultimate purpose in working all things for your good, this good will bring about a change in you, you are right now being transformed by God’s Truth and your desire to love God.  Romans 8:29 MSG says “God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him. After God made that decision of what His children should be like, He followed it up by calling people by name. After He called them by name, He set them on a solid basis with Himself. And then, after getting them established, He stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what He had begun.” WOW! How powerful and beautiful…We are more than Conquerors!

“Friends, let me go over the Message with you one final time—this Message that I proclaimed and that you made your own; this Message on which you took your stand and by which your life has been saved. (I’m assuming, now, that your belief was the real thing and not a passing fancy, that you’re in this for good and holding fast.)” 1 Corinthians 15:1 MSG

Blessings, Sister Laurie

Living Sacrifice

Today, dear sisters I come to you after an amazing time celebrating what Jesus did for us on the cross and through His resurrection.  My heart is full of God’s goodness and the hope we have when we embrace all God has given us through His Word, His Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Romans 12:1-2 says “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

So, what does it mean to be a “living sacrifice”? We are called in Romans 12 to present our bodies…as living and holy sacrifices and the key to understanding what God is asking here comes in the next few words, “your spiritual service of worship”. Worship holds the answer and realizing what worship is and how we worship our Heavenly Father is at the heart of being the living sacrifice God is calling us to become. 

Most Christians would say “worship” it is part of your Sunday church service, singing a few songs, praising God with others before the pastor brings his sermon. Maybe for you it is the entire service, traditionally one might say that worship is believers gathering at predetermined times and places.  Formal, liturgical, and ritualistic.  That sound easy enough…come this Sunday I will be a living sacrifice!  Please understand attending church is vital for your growth as a believer and the scriptures confirm the importance of being part of a church for every believer.  But we are discussing what it is to be a “living sacrifice”.

There is so much more and attending a church service is not even the tip of the iceberg we are exploring.  When we worship God as He intended we are transformed into a “living sacrifice”.  Like an iceberg what you see above the water line is not the depth or size, it is just the beginning.

Authentic worship is about embracing God’s Truth, allowing Him to transform us, and in that ongoing transformation we are changed, there is evidence.

This true worship we seek is placing our entire life “our bodies” on the altar as a sacrifice to God.  This means God is part of our life every day, every hour, and every minute!  We offer all that we are to Him, all that we do as an act of worship to our Most High King.  Our Sundays become either a beginning or a finish of the week…worshipping God in our daily routine, workplace, marriage, parenting, every encounter is an opportunity of worship.  This is the heart of authentic worship.

True worshippers gather together all of life and present it back to Him as a sacred and spiritual act of worship.

I have observed many Christians who profess to love God, attend church and then Monday through Saturday, even Sunday after church go about life excluding God in their activities and treatment of others.  Unfortunately, they are missing out on the best part of a believers’ life which is the transformation that happens as we move from earthly beings to Kingdom beings.  God wants us to walk through our earth bound days experiencing Him, sharing His love with everyone we encounter.

Ok, now you are thinking…how then, what must I do…I want this 24 hour authentic worship…in Romans 12:2 it says “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed”.

 The word “conform” in Greek is suschematizo, meaning “to press into a mold.”  I love this, God is warning us that we must be careful to not be restrained, limited or forced into the design of the world.  Just thinking about how limiting this is and how the world contradicts itself.  The world says there are no absolutes, no realities, except those that are verifiable and measurable by the world.  Truth is a gray area loosely contained and if necessary changed to fit a situation or decision.

Never underestimate the pull of the world. Like the undertow of the ocean, this riptide will carry you away.  This conforming to the world is not easily seen like the undertow, once caught you are drowning.  Growing up in California and spending time at the beach, I have been witness to how the naïve, innocent beach goer finds himself in need of rescue.

Now that we clearly see the warning, let us look at the transformation process.  The authentic worshipper stands apart from worldly thinking and puts each thought up against what God says through His Word, the ONLY TRUTH. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to make our thoughts obedient to the Word of God. Consequently, our decisions and actions will also share in that process of obedience.

Jesus spoke of this “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth; for such people, the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” John 4:23

Authentic worship is transformational, life changing, the Greek word is metamorpho, meaning “to take on a different form.”  2 Corinthians 5:17 provides a deeper understanding of this change, ”Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

This transformation occurs as we continually renew our minds in God’s Truth. God’s Truth nourishes our spirit, strengthen our ability to resist the tug of the world.  This “renewing of our minds” is so important here.  God knows what you face daily, he sees and hears it all.  God knows that the world and the devil will continue to beat you up…this fallen world is full of darkness and so that is why God says to “be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” Renewing is continually, like learning to ride a bike if you fall off, get right back up and try again.  Renewing is a state of continually seeking God and growing in the  knowledge of God.  When we worship God as He intended we begin to change, as His child the broken relationship with God no longer exists, and we begin to see the world through His eyes.  God reveals to us wrong attitudes and thinking.  We are no longer slaves to the world but eagerly surrender to His ways.  The change is not a make-over or cover-up, it is death to the old you and as scripture confirms you are reborn in Christ.

Authentic worship satisfies the Will of God and stands as a witness to the World.  God’s will is achieved when we offer God a life that is separate from the world.  It is a life that looks to God, our life is in harmony with God and His ways.

“so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 

We operate in the Will of God when we say “No” to a behavior, way of thinking contrary to God.  Each time we say “No” and recognize that it is through Jesus that we are able to resist and say “No”…a celebration occurs in heaven.  God provides the strength needed to resist; He has given you a Helper the Holy Spirit.  God loves you and it is His deepest desire is that you would make Him first and only in your life.  When you fall in love with God, His Truth…there is Freedom.

Be encouraged, bring your authentic worship to God…a living sacrifice!

Blessings, Sister Laurie

Much of this writing comes from my class on Romans through Global University. A special thank you to Richard Dresselhaus for his amazing Sermon Notes on Romans.

The Wretched Man

There are three positions in God’s Kingdom, each and every person falls into one, here and now! Paul pens in Romans 7:24 NASB,  “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?”  Whether you find yourself still doubting the existence of God, a new believer, or a matured believer there is an ongoing struggle against sin.

The unbeliever battles to understand right from wrong because God has given all people knowledge, an understanding of God and His ways from the very beginning. Romans 1:19 says “Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.”  Humanity has no excuse, just as God knew us in our mother’s womb and placed our spirit there, we also knew Him. In this position there is continuous struggle and  chaos. A distorted sense of truth exists, selfish ambition and desire guide the decision-making process.   Psalms 138 fully describes how intimately God knows us and that we belong to Him. The second half of Psalm 139:14 clearly tells us “Wonderful are Your works, and my soul (spirit) knows it very well.”  See right there, as infants growing within our mother’s womb we have the truth, God’s truth!  This truth is there for one purpose to be completely discovered and revealed with the help of the Holy Spirit.  The word “know” here is an intimate understanding, relational, experiential, and personal.  We are God’s creation, made in His image, His children.  So yes, Wretched man that I am!

The new believer struggles because they are now acknowledging the “knowing”. Their eyesight improves which gives them hunger and thirst to experience the love of God.  It has always been there, just as the ability to know right from wrong, but now there is a shift, an understanding that God see them, sin becomes clearer.  We know from God’s Word that we are no longer held captive to the bondage of sin, the old man has been crucified, sin shall not have dominion over you, the mind of the spirit is life and peace. Romans 6:6, Galatians 5:24 and Romans 8:1, 5-6. There is an acknowledgement that God is the great I AM…an embracing of Jesus’ sacrifice for them personally.  That without God they are lost to sin and a fallen world.  They find themselves asking questions “What do I do now?”, “How do I”, “What now is God’s asking?”, “How is this personal relationship suppose to work?”. They have these habits or behaviors that do not give God honor, acknowledge their love for Him, in some cases they go against the law…all of this has new meaning.  The big question now becomes “How then shall I live?” So yes, Wretched man that I am!

The mature believer now has worked this God thing out, a little farther down the road and yet…in Romans 7:15-20 Paul openly shares his frustration. “For I do not understand what I am doing; for I am not practicing what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate.  However, if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, that the Law is good.  But now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me.  For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.  But if I do the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me.” So yes, Wretched man that I am!

The struggles against sin is real for everyone.  This is exactly why God had Paul include this truth about himself.  Paul suffered under spiritual attacks, he wrestled with his past and he grappled with unworthiness.  Yet, God chosen this man, His grace put Paul in a unique position to share God’s Truth, to testify concerning Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.  In all of this God gave Paul the inspired Word in which he authored thirteen letters in the New Testament.  Like Paul the mature believer has stepped into greater responsibility therefore subject to greater scrutiny of self.  Yet, Paul suffered under his old self just as we do, in Paul’s case I believe that the thorn in Paul’s side speaks of him wrestling with past behavior and the spiritual battle in the form of shame the devil continually heaped on him. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 confirms this thought, “Because of the extraordinary greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” Thank you God, for encouraging Paul to be transparent with us. This is true for all believers serving Jesus, stepping out and living daily for God.

 I find myself, the wretched man, forgiven, justified and righteous through God, still battling spiritual attacks and dealing with consequences of sin.  You see sweet sisters we are all like Paul “The Wretched Man.”  There is no place I would rather be then to be found, proven, and refined by my Forever Father, my King, loved and not forsaken, positioned as His daughter, the daughter of the Most High King.

Be Blessed,

Sister Laurie