We Have the Authority Part 2

Greetings to all my sisters in Jesus Christ!  As promised this is Part 2 of defeating strongholds and more.

Pastor Steve Berger put a clear perspective on who we are in God’s Kingdom, “A Christian’s identity as a sinner is a “before Christ” identity.  A believer is a saint who sins, not a sinner who sometimes “saints”.  Therefore, we cannot as believers let shame and condemnation have any foothold within us.  Those are “before Christ” conditions with their roots in Satan; they have no standing in our position as daughters of the Most High King.

Once again before we begin I feel the need to pray as we embrace God’s Truth that the devil has no power over us…

Father, we come before You asking for all scales to be removed from us that would hinder our ability to receive Your Truth, Your Word and to walk in Your Ways.  God, we proclaim Your Goodness and Mercy and ask now that You would instruct us in Your Truth which will destroy the enemies lies.  Holy Spirit come and fill us with the courage and strength to discern darkness and cast it out!  We speak now to any spirit of chaos or confusion and cast it out in the name of Jesus…we bind any manner of oppression right now in the name of Jesus…therefore we now fully receive all God has for us through His Word and the instruct of others who speak clearly of Your Truth God.  AMEN

Part of our fight against the darkness happens within our churches and amongst our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as with our ministry leadership.  I want to address the thought pattern that takes hold, the enemy knows if he can get us to dishonor our brothers and sisters as well as our leadership, by twisting the perception of their motives in our hearts, then he has blocked our ability to break strongholds and defeat the strongman.  In other words, we cannot be delivered from what is holding us captive.

The stronghold will manifest by speaking untruth in a number of ways, here are a few; Pride (you know better than the one giving Godly counsel); Offense (something a Godly believer did or says offends you or hurts you); dishonor (you hear and believe that the pastor or believer is all about money or raising themselves above this is an effort to discredit or “dishonor” that person); Justification (you seek out the yes man among your peers, looking for someone who will agree with your wrong thinking).  When the enemy does this you and I are unable to receive God’s Truth through these men and women of God.  Our deliverance from any existing stronghold is delayed or even becomes greater.

If your stronghold can stir you up in anyway, it has just stopped you from your source of freedom.  And if you say, “Jesus is my source” and do not seek help from your sisters in Christ then he has gained ground by isolating you and that in itself becomes a stronghold.  Spirit filled believers are the embodiment of your Savior, we need one another to defeat the darkness.  Godly instruction, worship, and prayer for and by others are part of the process of freedom, this process also extends outside of ourselves and generously gives forward.

Who is this strongman?

Kimberly Synder, founder of Royal Girlz Ministry gives us some details about the strongman,  “A strongman spirit is a high-ranking principality spirit.  They sit on thrones in the spirit realm and rule over the evil demonic spirits that operate in the earth realm.  These spirits can rule over certain geographical areas of the earth.  Strongman spirits can operate in churches as a ruling spirit.  They can be passed down through family generations and also dwell within an individual.  These forces block our prayers, our deliverance and our freedom.”

Ephesians 6:1NKJV says “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

In Matthew 12:28-29NJKV Jesus gives us some details of who the strongman is and how we must destroy his efforts.  “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.  Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?  And then he will plunder his house.”

Furthermore, Kimberly gives us more details and the method by which he can be overcome, “God’s Word tells us that when the strongman Satan is fully armed and guards his palace, his possessions are safe until someone even stronger attacks and overpowers him, strips him of his weapons, and carries off his belongings.  We are the stronger, we have been given authority from Jesus to go into the enemy’s camp and bind him up and take away his goods.  These goods include our marriages, our children, our businesses, our churches, and most important lost souls.  Anything that the devil has stolen from us is ours to go in and take back.  The Bible says that the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it ( Matthew 11:12).  We have been given the strength and weapons to advance upon the enemy and take back the goods under the protection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus has given us the keys to bind and loose.  Whatever we bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever we loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  We bind them from operating while we loose the gifts of Holy Spirit to come in and take over.  We loose the gifts and workings of Holy Spirit to set captives free, bring light into darkness, remove the chains that have us bound and to proclaim freedom (Matthew 18:18).”

Let’s continue to look at ways we give evil spirits an opportunity to establish footholds and/or strongholds in our lives…there are numerous areas of sin through which the enemy gains ground in our lives so that he can bully and oppress.

Generational Sin:  We can and are influenced by the idolatrous sins of past generations.  Exodus 20:4-6 tells us, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth.  You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, inflicting the punishment of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing favor to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  When our ancestors set things of this world above their love of God the cycle of generational sin began.  We learn from  what has been modeled before us, we live in ways that our parents taught us, with each generation this darkness grows and consumes.  Some easily seen examples are addiction, divorce, child abuse, and sexual sin.  However, there are subtle sins that make our relationship with God and our power to defeat Satan difficult.  We grow up watching our elders even believers…gossip, lie, and hate.  Selfishness is a tool of the devil, and we are spoiled into thinking about self and rising our pleasure and comfort above God.  What will I get if I….reward becomes more important than obedience.  These all fall under idolatrous sin.

Rebellion: Rebellion is failing to submit to the authority of God and to the authorities that He has placed over us in our earthly lives.  In the first half of  1 Samuel 15:23NLT we see, “Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.”  Saul had been given clear instruction to destroy everything in the battle against the nation of Amalek, the instruction was very clear and yet Saul decided he knew better.  In his rebellion and stubbornness, he kept back some of the livestock for sacrifice.  This simple seemingly “good” disobedience caused Saul to lose God’s favor.  The Word gives us specific information about those to whom we are to submit…those not to rebel against.

Pride: When we elevate ourselves above others, behave arrogantly or harbor prideful attitudes, we are emulating Satan rather

 than being who we have been created to reflect, the image of God.  Satan was removed from God’s presence and cast down

because of his pride.  God gives us all the strength we need to stand against such evil desires.  James 4:6-8TPT personalized says,

“But He continues to pour out more and more grace upon us.  For it says, “God resists you when you are proud but continually pours

Out grace which is the greater gift when you are humble.” So then, surrender to God.  Stand up to the devil and resist him and he

 will flee in agony because of the One who stands with you.  Move your heart closer and closer to God, and so close He

will be touching you.  But make sure you cleanse your life, you sinners, and keep your heart pure and stop doubting.”

Habitual Sin: The repeated habitual practice of a specific sin can lead to bondage to “the god of this age.”  Ephesians 4:26-27 gives a clear example of habitual sin, “unforgiveness” left to fester it gives the devil a foothold leading to greater sin.  This is the nature of sin…rebellion against God and this rebellion is the root is who Satan is.  He was the first to rebel and he continues this today by influencing and deceiving God’s people.  Addictions are all forms of habitual sin as well as being a habitual gossip, liar or thief.  Habitual sin opens the door to be demonized (demonization) meaning that there is some measure of inner, at least partial, direct influence (or control) being exercised by the demonic realm.  Wherever sin exists, the demonic realm also exists and is at work to negatively influence believers.  This is done in an effort by the demonic realm to limit or negate the powerful effects of the person’s gifts and faith in Christ.

Deception: Jesus described Satan as a liar and the father of lies. In John 8, Jesus is speaking to some Jewish leaders he tells them their hearts are closed to God’s truth he then tells them “You are the offspring of your father, the devil, and you serve your father very well, passionately carrying out his desires.  He’s been a murderer right from the start!  He never stood with the truth, for he’s full of nothing but lies—lying is his native tongue.  He is a master of deception and the father of lies!”

Paul also warned Timothy of deceiving spirits using men for the purpose of seducing them away from the truth, “The Holy Spirit has explicitly revealed: At the end of this age, many will depart from the true faith one after another, devoting themselves to spirits of deception and following demon-inspired revelations and theories.  Hypocritical liars will deceive many, and their consciences won’t bother them at all!” 1 Timothy 4:1-2TPT

We can be easily deceived by cultural messages, behaviors and customs into false beliefs.  We can also deceive ourselves, “So why fool yourself and live under an illusion?  Make no mistake about it, if anyone thinks he is wise by the world’s standards, he will be made wiser by being a fool for God!” 1 Corinthians 3:18TPT

Clearly God is warning us about being self-deceived.  Having a teachable heart and learning wisdom from above is the best way to guard from self-deception. Romans 12:1-2 speaks clearly that we are not to conform to this world but to renew ourselves in God’s truth continually.  Often it is difficult to reveal the source of our wrong thinking, the lie but we know without a doubt that Satan is the father of lies.

The good news is…THE GRACE OF GOD CAN CHANGE ANY PATTERN WITH DIVINE POWER!

Here are the Symptoms of Oppression which indicate a stronghold,  keep an eye out for them in yourself and others, be quick to rebuke and seek help from those you hold as spiritual warriors in God’s Kingdom.

Disinterest in or inability to read Scripture, comprehend the teaching of the Word, or participate in worship and prayer

Possession of items used in Pagan, New Age, Eastern, or Native American worship rituals or in Freemasonry ceremonies, these must be destroyed, thrown away.

Fearful, bizarre dreams and/or night experiences related to sexual perversion, occultic symbolism, or violence, evil presences, visitations, or impressions of demonic face

Conscious invitation extended to Satan and/or demons to become involved in one’s life

Systematic patterns of personal sinfulness, i.e., lying, dishonesty, and resentment toward others; sexual acting out; and racial hatred

Personality disturbance, i.e., paranoia, vengefulness, abuse of others (physical, emotional, sexual, or spiritual), self-mutilation, suicide attempts, depression, rebellion, and bizarre, violent, blasphemous thoughts

Addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, work, food, exercise, internet, or television

Experiencing no relief from medical treatments (including prescribed drugs), personal prayer, or psychological counseling

A family history of demonic influence coming from witchcraft or satanic worship; Native American, New Age, or Eastern religious practices; Freemasonry

Sweet sisters, I know this writing has been difficult for some of you.  BUT we have a Savior and a Father God who loves us and gives us HOPE in every situation.  Stand on this truth…” So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love.  I’m convinced that His love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken His love.” Romans 8:38TPT

If we are going to tear down strongholds through the Word of God’s Truth (John 17:17), then you need to know what God is saying about you and how he sees you. The Bible tells us that God does not see or think about us like our parents, friends, and others see or think about us.  1 Samuel 16:7NASB “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  Since this is the case, we therefore should not see ourselves through the subjective thoughts of man (how are parents see us as well as how our friends, co-workers, and people we come in contact with see us.)

Many people are living their lives base on how people see them or who people say they are.  People will not always know your worth; you need to know your worth.  Your true identity is found in God who created you for His purpose alone.   Your parents may be the one who gave birth to you and brought you up, but you did not come from your parents, you came from God, your parents are just vessels God used to bring you into the world. Remember “I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:14

Closing Prayer for you…

Heavenly Father, let these words Your Words sink deep within my sisters, root out and expose anything that is not of you.  Renew their mind and clean up their hearts, give discernment to their spirit, Holy Spirit speak to their spirit and strengthen them.  Father I proclaim this 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.” Remove any spirit of fear or doubt within them let them know and experience supernaturally their value in Your Kingdom, let them walk in Your peace, make them battle ready warriors to help others to reveal and destroy any darkness. In Jesus’ name…AMEN

Blessings, Sister Laurie

Thank you to the following amazing men  and women of God for their insight and inspiration.

Pastor Steve Berger, “Winning the Mind Wars, Tearing Down Strongholds Through Prayer”, Grace Chapel, Franklin TN 

Pastor Gary Costella, Awesome Church, Sydney Australia

Kimberly Synder, founder of Royal Girlz Ministry

Rev. Dr. David M. Oliver, Living H2O Ministries

All We Need God’s Grace

As I open my Bible I am drawn to Philippians 2:12-14MSG which says “What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God Himself willing and working at what will give Him the most pleasure.”

 Paul had just reminded the church at Philippi what Jesus had done on the cross and he is encouraging them to not forget but to live out this Truth that God saved us and is at work in us.  We must ask ourselves are we totally living the supernatural wonder of our salvation in our words and actions? Do we talk about being a Christian, yet our lives do not reflect this truth? Why are we unsuccessful in sharing our wonderful Savior Jesus with others?

We are called to show the Truth by our lives, not just tell the Truth by our words.  There is that old saying that “talk is cheap”, this can be truly seen in the body of believers today.  We come and hear the Word of God spoke on Sundays yet the minute we leave the parking lot we become discontent because the car in front of you is not moving fast enough or on their phone.  We are an frustrated, unsatisfied people grumbling when the server at breakfast doesn’t refill the coffee soon enough.  We even twit or post our grumbling on social media.  Social media has become a platform for discontent and grumbling, there is no consideration for how what we say and do will affect others.  So now we don’t only voice our negative opinion to the person next to us at church, the market or any gathering we spill it out there on the web for all to see! We must become aware that when we attend church, gather with other believers God’s presence surrounds us with beauty of God’s Words, our worship, the pastor or teacher’s lesson, yet if we are harboring a grumbling thought or share a negative opinion it undermines the power of the gospel, in fact it inhibits the work of the gospel even in social media.

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is the source not your pleasures that wage war in your body’s parts?  You lust and do not have, so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend what you request on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3NASB

We have lost our moral compass…we are selfish, self-indulgent, self-centered, and self-pleasing only seeking what makes the minutes in our day work out the way we want. Ouch!  This is brutal truth…we grumble, argue, blame, and complain…having it our way at any cost.  We hear people say, “It’s just the way I am” as they selfishly walk through life.

1 Peter 2:12MSG  tells us “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life in your neighborhood so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when He arrives.” 

We find ourselves like the people of Babel wanting more, Genesis 11:4 says, “And they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let’s make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of all the earth.” They believed if they could build a tower as high as God they could attain importance, a title, a throne as mighty as Gods in power unable to be defeated, in essence to be just like God. How incredibly sad that they didn’t understand that God was with them working in them…if they would only open their hearts (spirit) to Him, they could not see the beauty of our creator and how His love for them was enough.  These people did not have to build a tower; they could have experienced a wealth and security far more enduring then found in a building made of rock.  An eternal, everlasting wealth in a personal relationship with God. 

God saw today coming, He gives a warning to us found in Philippians 2:14-16NASB, “Do all things without complaining or arguments; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding firmly the word of life, so that on the day of Christ I can take pride because I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.”

Superficial, shallow things of the world will never satisfy our hearts (spirit) because this spirit we have within us, placed there by God is supernatural and hungers for God’s supernatural provision.  It is here we find God’s grace, as the song says  “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”.

Psalm 2:11 personalized tells us  “Serve the Lord with reverence, devotion and rejoicing in wholehearted delight…that is hold firm and celebrate with trembling”. This trembling also spoken of as fear  is “feeling the awe” this awe is experiencing, is knowing God’s Truth intimately, embracing His freely given grace.  If we can get hold of His mercy and love it becomes very difficult to hold on to our grumbling and angry attitude.  God is looking to perform divine heart surgery on your troubled and discontented heart. This is where grace is found in the Great Physicians hand…my dear sisters in Christ let God through His loving touch apply the grace needed today!

Blessings, Sister Laurie

This writing came to me after watching a teaching on Real Beauty by Pastor Akshay Rajkumar the lead Pastor of Redeemer Church in New Delphi, India.  It is available on RightNow Media.com

Confidence

GERARD DOU PAINTING OLD WOMAN READING A LECTIONARY BIBLE – REMBRANDT’S MOTHER

People today live-in fear of death. There are organizations all over the words spending millions on research that will extend life and even prevent death. People are choosing to be frozen in hope that their body can be restored at some point in the future.

Isaiah talks about his body being a tent which is folded up as it dies. In 1 Corinthians 5:1NASB, Paul says “For we know that if our earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made by hands, eternal in the heavens.”  I share this scripture with you, because our flesh was not created to last and in this fallen world it is even more vulnerable to the wear and tear of life.  That is why God uses the word “tent” or in some translations “tabernacle” which was also made of canvas to describe where our spirit lives here on earth.  It weathers, grows rigid, and is torn as time goes by…yet God wants us to have confidence because our everlasting existence is found in our spirit.

We find ourselves distracted by this fear, making bucket lists, living indulgent lives trying to get it all in.  Paul writes to the church in Philippi these wonderful words while in prison…Philippians 1:23-26TPT, “So here’s my dilemma: Each day I live means bearing more fruit in my ministry; yet I fervently long to be liberated from this body and joined fully to Christ. That would suit me fine, but the greatest advantage to you would be that I remain alive. So, you can see why I’m torn between the two—I don’t know which I prefer.   Yet deep in my heart I’m confident that I will be spared so I can add to your joy and further strengthen and mature your faith.  When I am freed to come to you, my deliverance will give you a reason to boast even more in Jesus Christ.”

Notice the words in italics…Paul knows that his task of equipping, discipling and loving believers is not yet done.  He even says his desire is to be spared so he can add to their joy and strength as well as grow their faith.  He knows the wonder and pure joy of going home to be with Jesus, yet his spirit knows that his time on earth still is full of purpose.

The thief on the cross heard these words from Jesus…”And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”” Luke 23:42-43NASB

Death is better than to remain in the body, however, to stay in our temporary tent and serve God is to live in the joy of sharing Jesus with those we encounter.

Paul has found how to live in confidence, he keeps on living because he is compelled to continue teaching, serving and loving those God has placed around him.  We must pattern ourselves after Paul…

Paul knew with confidence that Jesus breaks the power of death in two ways;

  1. We live in confidence because Jesus destroyed the fear of death by breaking sin and death’s power over us through His death and resurrection.
  2. He gives eternal life to you and me when we make Him our Savior, in that, we now live with confidence to see Him face to face in Heaven.

Now with confidence embrace this truth… “In Jesus, my sisters, after listening to and reading in God’s Word the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise,  who is a first installment of our inheritance, in regard to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14 NASB personalized.

In closing my sisters in Jesus Christ, I urge you to live for Christ, make the most out of every day.  For not only is your time short but those around you time is short as well.  Embrace them in the love of Christ.

My prayer for you is that when you feel anxious or fearful, ask God to give you the confidence to live for Him and be set free from the fear of death.  Speak with the authority of heaven and cast out any spirit of anxiety in you!  Ask God to increase His power within you to say as Paul did…”For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Sister Laurie

This writing came to me after watching a teaching on Real Confidence by Pastor Akshay Rajkumar the lead Pastor of Redeemer Church in New Delphi, India.  It is available on RightNow Media.com

Holy Communion an Expression of Love

selective focus of bread and grape beverage and stand wood cross for background and inspiration

The scripture says…And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new (khawdata) covenant, which is shed for many for the remission(forgiveness) of sins.”  Matthew 26:26-28 NKJV, also found in Mark 14 and Luke 22

Bible Gateway footnotes make the significance of these precious words from Jesus’ lips even more intimate…translated from the Aramaic we now see the depth of these words…The word “khawdata” can be translated as “new,” but is even better defined as “renewed” covenant or “repaired” covenant.   After each disciple took the cup and drank from it, they passed it to the next one. This was a love covenant between Jesus and each of his disciples, and it sealed the affection they had for one another. This remains today, when you and I take communion with our family, other believers it becomes an expression of our love and affection for them and for our loving Savior Jesus.

I recently read an article about each of the elements and how they not only fulfill prophecy but bring to life the events of the Old and New Testament.  We know from scripture that the last supper was celebrated in remembrance of Passover.  Passover found in Exodus 12 speaks about a time in history when the Israelites were slaves living in Egypt.  God sent Moses to free the Israelites…Pharaoh didn’t listen or pay attention as God’s emissary Moses  brought God’s wrath down upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, nine plagues later Pharaoh still would not relent and let God’s people go!  The tenth plague would be one which would bring death to the first-born male of every household.  God’s people were instructed to cover their doorways with the blood of a sacrificial lamb thus keeping death away from their household. 

The shedding of sacrificial blood marked freedom for the Israelites and from that time forward Passover has been celebrated in remembrance of all God had done for His people.

Let us move forward in time…Passover had come, Jesus was in Jerusalem with His disciples, moments before they were sat down to share the Passover meal, Jesus spoke to His betrayer (let me leave that right there for another time) after which Jesus began by taking a piece of bread, blessing it carefully tearing a piece for each disciple He said, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19 AMP

Jesus was speaking to them about the coming events when He, the prefect Lamb of God, would be tortured, beaten, tormented, crucified, and buried.  Jesus told us that His body would be broken for us.  A prophecy fulfilled in Isaiah 53:5 that says, “…He was whipped so we could be healed.”   This healing power achieved in the act of the One True God, Savior, God’s Only Son…holds the power to heal our physical and mental ailments no matter how severe or life threating. Peter reminds us in I Peter 2:24 “…by whose stripes you were healed.”

As you think and visualize what Christ endured for you…every lash of the whip, flesh torn, blood shed…all done willingly to heal you and me. This is the pure and simple truth of Christ and its power is available to all who believe.

Jesus then took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission(forgiveness) of sins.” Jesus drank along with the disciples; this established the FINAL and NEW COVENANT for all God’s children (believers) once and for all. 

The word covenant in English traces its roots back to a Latin word that means “coming together”.  The Old Testament Covenants clearly demonstrate that God’s plan of redemption was in motion soon after the fall (Adam and Eve’s sin). In fact, Hosea speaks of a covenant between God and Adam in verse 6:7 saying, “Like Adam, they (the Israelites) have broken the covenant…they were unfaithful to me.”   In these covenants there are conditions to be met by the human parties involved.  At other times, God declared what He was going to do no matter how the parties responded.  Once God made a covenant, it was not to be altered or renegotiated.

I want to briefly establish each of the Old Testament Covenants so that as we look to God’s New and Final covenant marked by Holy Communion we can see how they each relate to God’s promise for His children both you and I as well. 

Abrahamic Covenant – Genesis 12 God established a covenant with Abram (who later name was changed the Abraham by God) when He said “I will make you into a great nation and  will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you,…and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  Later God spoke more about this covenant saying, “your offspring will be like stars in the sky to numerous to count”.  This covenant can be summed up as (1) a promised people, (2) a promised blessing, (3) a promised land.

Mosaic Covenant – Exodus 19-20  God has always had great plans for His people.  After freeing the Israelites from Egypt.  God shared his plan with Moses and from that encounter we God’s people were given the Ten Commandments.  This covenant is conditional “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.” Exodus 19:5 NKJV The Mosaic Covenant was based on faithfulness of both God and Israel.  Of course, Israel failed, but God is faithful, even when we are not.  The Laws (covenant conditions)  found in the Ten Commandments were given as an opportunity to show our love for God through obedience, even as they stumbled… God still had blessings for all the peoples of the world.  Israel was chosen as a servant to help bring that future “blessing” the gospel and Jesus Christ.

Davidic Covenant

Is the prefect link between the Old Testament Covenants and the New Testament Covenant.  Just as God gave Moses a message to deliver to Israel, God gave Nathan a message, a divine covenant, to deliver to King David found in

(2 Samuel 7:5-16) so important to God’s plan it is repeated twice…”Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me;  I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” Nathan was speaking Of Jesus who’s coming kingdom would be established forever through David’s lineage.  There was no condition to this covenant, God would and has fulfilled this covenant through Jesus.  Peter tied the two together in his Day of Pentecost Sermon found in

Acts 2:29-31TPT personalized, “Everyone, I can tell you there is no doubt that David has both died and been buried in his tomb, which remains to this day. So, you can see that he was not referring to himself with those words.  But as a prophet, he knew God’s faithful promise, made with God’s unbreakable oath, that one of his descendants would take his throne.  So, when peering into the future, David prophesied of the Messiah’s resurrection. And God revealed to him that the Messiah would not be abandoned to the realm of death, nor would his body experience decay.”

And so now here we are the New Covenant sealed with the blood of Christ at that first “Holy Communion” shared by Christ, Himself and His disciples. The new covenant is a spiritual relationship with out Creator.  But we sisters in Christ need help in maintaining that divine fellowship.  The Old Testament is a continuing story of failures of God’s chosen people.  Yet God’s plan from the beginning included a solution for this need…Jesus is the mediator in our relationship with the Father see Hebrews 12:24.  Jesus overcame the differences and restored a loving relationship between a sinless deity and sinful humans.  To overcome required a painful sacrifice.  Look again at the words Jesus as He instituted the Lord’s Supper. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:20  The Old Mosaic Covenant required the blood of a slaughtered animal as a sin offering. These regular offerings did not bring permanent obedience and relationship.  The sin offering was a repeated bloody event that took the life of an animal.  The animal could never be a mediator.  But of Son of God could, and He willingly came to earth to be that needed permanent sacrifice.  1 Timothy 2:5 says, “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men.”

 I have come a long way so that you might fully understand why the taking and sharing of Holy Communion is an intimate experience between Jesus our Personal Mediator and God our Forever Father.  Listen closely to the voice of our Mediator the next time you partake in Holy Communion: “and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

One more scripture found in John 6:53-58 ESV,  “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. …”

In closing, the words communion, community, communication and common all have similar origin.  The church of Jesus Christ is a community of believers that are not divided by denomination by are united by Christ.  It also is an opportunity to have communion with God.  It is an expression of God’s Glory poured out and into us through Christ’s Body and Blood. 

Blessings, Sister Laurie

God’s Design

 “Older women similarly are to be respectful, loving reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor addicted to much wine, teaching what is right and good, so that they may encourage the young women to tenderly love their husbands and their children,  to be sensible, pure, makers of a home [where God is honored], good-natured, being subject (respecting) to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”  Titus 2:3-5 AMP personalized

While waiting for my granddaughter to come out of Zoo Camp. God gave me this scripture; He began to speak to me about His design and how we His children have abandoned His Truth. As I sat in my car right in front of me another car parked.  A gentleman (the father) and a young woman (the mother) got out of the SUV.  The father opened the back, and the mother began organizing their wagon with all the snacks, water bottles and other necessities for a day at the zoo. The couple worked together in harmony, each keenly aware of what needed to be done.  The father got their youngest out of his car seat.  I was witnessing God’s design right before my eyes…God spoke clearly and said, “This has always been my design”.  Keeping an observant eye, the dad and mom watched as more littles poured out of the SUV, there were 3 girls in pink shirts and 2 little boys in orange shirts all matching so dad and mom could quickly identify their children.  As the father lovingly held one of the daughter’s hands and pulled the wagon with the youngest riding. Mom was walking alongside with the others.  Tears came to my eyes as I thought of how we have corrupted and abandoned this beautiful design of one man and one woman teaching their daughters and sons how to be who God created them to be…

Children today have been abandoned by their parents.  Fathers and mothers are consumed with their own lives, selfishly existing, electronic devices, social media has destroyed relationships, sadly the parents look to how many “likes” their TickTok, Instagram, Snap Chat pictures are receiving to find fulfillment. Broken families now Co-parent as if to say, having one Mom and one Dad together is no longer valued. They put their children in a variety of sports and activities that move everyone further away from God’s design for the family. Parents google how to handle everyday life raising children instead of going to their parents or other older adults for wisdom and answers who have already experienced raising a family.  These same parents never consider that the answers to raising a family and having a loving, fulfilling marriage is found in God’s Word. The internet has taken the place of Godly instruction, subtly corrupting God’s design.

The principles of teaching our sons to be gentlemen and daughters to be ladies has been abandoned to girls wrestling and playing football.  Likewise, boys are not being taught to be gentlemen, leaders, to love and respect girls. Scripture is clear…God knew this time would come, that people would dismiss the importance of training a child in the way that he or she should go, the Bible says…

“Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 AMP

The pressure is on for our children to fit in an ever changing and corrupted identity.  The Barbie doll image for girls which put pressure on girls to be arm candy for men with no real depth has changed into girls dressing as boys and wanting to be identified as male.  How wrong both are for females…God created each of us to be beautiful and unique, God is the “ beholder” and true beauty is through His eyes. The devil has twisted our sexual identity and made it something perverted.  Instead of women feeling blessed to be female and cherishing our position as the ones who carry new life as mothers, women believe they are sexually and physically aggressive,  one example is serving as combat soldiers in the military.  The word “equal” has been twisted, we are not “equal” in this context and should not desire to be.  Please don’t miss understand…we need women in the military to serve in many areas, but combat is not one of them. The devil has tried to destroy the distinction between men and woman however complete breakdown will never be achieved because every time we put a female in a position meant for a male we compromise the outcome.  A clear example is young girls wrestling against young men.  If our young men are being taught (as God planned) to be gentlemen (respect and protect) then grabbing a girl and pinning her on the ground is an uncomfortable task for the young man.  Likewise, on the battlefield, if a woman is partnered with a male, in a critical situation the male soldier hesitates as God’s design says protect “her” the female soldier at all cost.  I pray you see what I am trying to desperately to explain.  Hollywood tries frantically to show women as aggressive and physically equal to men.  Humanity and the devil attempt to destroy God’s design for us however since we are spiritual beings placed in our earthly bodies by God deep within us the Truth, God’s Truth is there.  We are extremely strong and capable but not in the way world portrays us.

If we read and embrace the Proverbs Woman, our qualities are revealed, she is strong, gifted and capable.  Each of us has all of these characteristics in us.  God told us here in scripture and throughout the Bible who we are and what a wonderful position we hold in God’s design and kingdom.

So, what am I asking you? Go back to the Titus scripture…stop gossiping, speaking poorly of one another, don’t be corrupted by any substance that distorts your ability to hear God, communicate, think and walk in God’s ways.  Love the women around you lifting them up and building confidence.  Teaching one another the truth of God and how to be leaders and mothers to the future generations according to God’s design.

Love, Sister Laurie

Look Behind You

Psalm 23:6 KJV says “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

Wherever you go, the people you encounter, the physical work you do, the words you speak, even the way you sit, walk, run, or move leaves a mark. In other words, how you live each day leaves a legacy of who you are and what truth you embrace.

The great psalmist, David knew exactly what he was saying when he compared us to sheep and called our wonderful Heavenly Father our Shepherd.  Sheep can and will ruin and ravage the land almost beyond remedy.  But in bold contrast they can, be the most beneficial of all livestock if properly guided by their shepherd…leaving the land beautiful, rich, and healthy.

In ancient literature sheep were referred to as “those of the golden hooves” simply because they were regarded and esteemed so highly for their beneficial effect on the land.

In the 6th verse of Psalm 23 David says that “goodness and mercy will follow you ALL the days of your life.” However, there is a cavoite to that…ONLY the sheep who follow the Shepherd will leave that legacy behind them.

What does that mean? The sheep who follow their Shepherd, allow Him to speak into their life, listen and move where He directs, surrenders to His will and follows His purpose; they will leave behind them something worthwhile, productive, beautiful and beneficial to both themselves, others and to their Shepherd. 

Close your eyes right now and see the land as the Shepherd sees this land and sheep He tends…Where they walk the land is fertile and weed free.  It continues to reproduce the work of the Shepherd and is seen as beautiful, rich and abundance…green pastures, clean and clear water in a running stream safe to drink deeply…lush trees to rest under.  The new growth gives way to new fruit, delicious and beautiful and all that encounter it hunger and thirst for the abundant goodness available. All are welcomed, valued, and loved here by the Good Shepherd.

Now a question comes to me….there is no room for excuse…I claim to be a daughter of the Most High King and so I must acquest that is other than by inheritance… I have been purchased at a great price…supernatural blood shed so that I can follow my Shepherd, look behind myself and see all that God has done through me. 

As I look more questions form, a deeper surrender is needed and so I also ask the same of you…

Do I leave a blessing behind me? Do I leave a trail of sadness or of gladness behind? Is my memory, in other people’s minds, intertwined with mercy and goodness, or would they rather forget me altogether?  Do I deposit a blessing behind me or am a nuisance to others?  Is my life a pleasure to people or a pain?

In Isaiah 52:7 a picture of one who leaves a godly legacy is revealed, “How beautiful on the mountains, in all the land are the feet of the messenger bringing good news, breaking the news that all’s well,  proclaiming good times, announcing salvation, telling all the people of the earth, “Your God reigns!” MSG personalized

Sometimes we must ask ourselves tough yet simple questions…

Do I leave behind peace in lives…or turmoil?

Do I leave behind forgiveness…or bitterness?

Do I leave behind contentment…or conflict?

Do I leave behind flowers of joy…or frustration?

Do I leave behind love…or resentment?

Some people leave such a sorry mess behind them wherever they go that they prefer to cover their tracks. When making out a list of people…relatives and friends…do you write their names with joy and excitement looking forward to enjoying their company or is there a hesitation as you recall your last encounter or conversation?  How about where you work, do you avoid some people? How do others see you?

For the true child of God, the one under the Shepherd’s care, there should never be any sense of shame or fear as you encounter people from your past or present.  Why? Because there you have left a legacy of uplift, encouragement, and inspiration to others.  For some of you I know this is tough…harm has been done however no situation is to big for God.  He promises to restore what the locust have eaten. (Joel 2:25-27)  Patience and waiting on God is key if this applies to you.  There can be nothing stopping you now…as you live in the care of the Good Shepherd.

There was an amazing man of God Dr. David Livingstone, who was a missionary in Africa (1813-1873), who’s good and kindly acts were always blended with mercy.  So often people he encountered were harsh and vindictive…yet his compassion and tenderness were always evident.  He found forgiveness for others despite their behavior and offered God’s mercy.

I must ask myself and you must do the same…is this my attitude to other people? We must ask God to help us; Psalm 19:13 NASB tells us  “Also keep your servant back from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; then I will be innocent, and I will be blameless of great wrongdoing.”

Do I sit up on my pedestal of self-pride and look at others in a condescending manner or do I identify myself with them in their dilemma and allow the goodness and mercy God overflow onto them?  Are my eyes critical?  I know with all my heart that Jesus has and continues to extend goodness and mercy to me!  In fact, this overflow is purposed to lead others to Him.

Now that we belong to Jesus and He is our Shepherd we must also consider these words, “So roll up your sleeves, get your head in the game, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Do not lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You did not know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”” 1 Peter 1:13-16 MSG

Finally sweet sisters, Jesus looks upon our lives in tenderness for He loves us deeply.  He sees the long years during which His goodness and mercy have followed you and I without slackening.  He longs to see some measure of that same goodness and mercy not only passed on to others by us but also passed back to Him with joy.

Our Shepherd longs for our love to be demonstrated by what we leave behind…how we love proof that we love Him and this overflowing love happens because HE LOVED US FIRST!

Blessings, Sister Laurie

This writing comes from my thoughts and insight while reading “A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23”, by Phillip Keller.

Waiting for Your Miracle

I do not know where you are today in your relationship with Jesus, I also do not know what demons are still pulling your strings, what troubles you are experiencing or if you have even surrender to God completely.  Maybe you have asked God to help you conquer something in your life however, you are still waiting for your miracle.  So today I want to share a truth with you…God is always on time, and He is patiently waiting for you!

John 5:1-8 Healing the man at the sheep gate pool in Jerusalem.  Which in Hebrew is called Bethesda, The House of Loving Kindness, having five porticoes, covered porches in which people could wait to enter.  Here hundreds of sick, crippled, blind, paralyzed people would gather waiting there to enter the water.  These waters were known for their healing qualities, in verse 4 we read “For an angel of God periodically descended into the pool to stir the waters, and the first one who stepped into the pool after the waters swirled would instantly be healed.”

Now in verse 5 we are told there was a man that was ill and crippled for 38 years.  A little later on in verse 6, we see Jesus knew he had been like “this” for a long-time. 

This healing teaches us several things about Jesus, first, we learn…this healing demonstrates that Jesus is equal with God in nature, power, and authority.  You must understand that the healing touch we need where the spiritual and physical meet is all about timing.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Jesus begins a conversation with the man by saying “Do you truly long to be healed?”  This man replies to Jesus “Sir, there is no way I can get healed, for I have no one to lower me into the water when the angel comes. As soon as I try to crawl to the edge of the pool, someone else jumps in ahead of me.”  I believe he was not even trying or asking for help at this point.  He had allowed bitterness and hatred to grow within his spirit, possibly the devil had repeatedly lied to him reminding him of how no one cared if he was healed, how unloved he was, how unworthy of the chance to be healed.  It was easier for the man to sit and complain, blaming those around him for his continued state.   

If you notice there were several entrances into the pool yet somehow this man continued to miss his opportunity. Maybe he had become comfortable in his situation, even playing to the crowd around him…you know whining about his circumstance looking for pity. 

The devil used this situation to build resentment in him. The “if only” became the man’s excuse for staying just as he was, convinced he would never reach the water. Do you have something in common with this man?    

Now, in verse 8 we see a loving Father, Jesus frees this man from his suffering, not only the physical aliment but the spiritually imprisonment, a stronghold of bitterness and self-loathing…Jesus says “Stand up! Pick up your sleeping mat and you will walk!”  Immediately he stood up—he was healed!

I am confident God is always working in us, even before we know Him, He is there intervening, positioning us so that in His perfect time we will be ready.  Many of us call this “coming to the end of oneself.” 

That attitude or behavior, say it now out loud, my “sin” that I am stilling holding on to or hiding is keeping me from receiving the full immersion of living water Jesus brings.

Right here I need to point out that nothing is hidden from God, you maybe fooling yourself or others but not God.  God’s timing is perfect in every situation, He is patience and His love steadfast. It is different for everyone, there is no exact formula, what I will say, you will reach that point, an end to your wrong thinking, captivity in sin as I said earlier “coming to an end of yourself” and God will call.  Respond do not delay…He will call again however why miss out even one more moment of all God has for you.

Remember, Jesus is always on time.

In  closing, Jesus meets the man later that day in the temple. Verse 14 says “A short time later, Jesus found the man at the temple and said to him, “Look at you now! You are healed!  Walk away from your sin so that nothing worse will happen to you.”  Here is a warning for all of us, sweet sisters…have you already received your healing and yet you hold on to your sin, romancing the good old days or maybe you have slipped back into your old self.  Jesus issues a powerful warning to all of us…live in your deliverance, the freedom you found when you surrendered to Him completely. 

It is God’s desire to give you that miracle…Jesus wants us to grow our relationship with Him so that when temptation comes, trouble comes we are ready to fight telling this fallen world and the devil “Not Today Satan!.”  Right now, proclaim your position as the daughter of the Most High King!

Blessing, Sister Laurie

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