Let Love Be the Defining Quality in Your Life

“So, let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat, drink, or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.”

Romans 14:19-21 MSG

Romans 14 speaks about how as believers we should make every effort to walk in love.  Here in verses 19-21, we see a wonderful example of using every encounter with others to love and live out our relationship with Jesus.  In the Greek translation the word “diokein” is used which translated “make every effort” or “to pursue”.  We should actively pursue peace and seek to build others up in order to bring about something which does not yet exist, that is the Blessed Hope, also known as the Rapture. Titus 2:11-14 tells us that our main pursuit in life should be to complete the work Jesus began so that He can return and bring an end to the forces of evil now operating on earth.  “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and in a godly manner in the present age,  looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, eager for good deeds.”

Are you a stumbling block for others?  Verse 13 tells us to “Make up your mind not to put any obstacle in your sister’s way.”  This is love lived out, are you participating in behaviors or having an attitude that drags others into wrong thinking or clouds their ability to be delivered from Satan’s grip?  Maybe you have been delivered and you yourself find arrogance and pride welling up because you have walk out of your sinful past.  Do others see you as being better than them based on your attitude? There is sin attached to that way of living and thinking.  Jesus tells us we must remain humble at all times, knowing that you are not the one who redeemed you BUT your freedom and redemption comes through Jesus Christ alone.

Food was being used as an example in the main scripture because many of the new believers were of Jewish heritage and pork was consider unclean and could not be eaten, it also speaks of wine in other translations as well.  Obviously, if someone is working through their deliverance from alcohol, as a believer we should honor that deliverance by abstaining from any alcohol to help encourage them. This also speaks of words we speak, attitudes or any behavior not honoring our Heavenly Father.  As the scripture says “Don’t eat, drink, or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.” Romans 14:21 MSG

Many times, the taming of our own flesh is challenged as we are called to “build one another up”, promote spiritual growth…Romans 15:3-6MSG says “That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever He will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!”  Let Jesus be your example!

Jesus welcomed each one of us when we came to Him in faith…regardless of ethnic origin, cultural background, or position.  Union with Jesus Christ overrides differences and forms a common bond among believers.  When we accept one another we glorify God.

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love and seek the best for one another; for he who unselfishly loves his neighbor has fulfilled the essence of the law relating to one’s fellowman.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and any other commandment are summed up in this statement: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor it never hurts anyone. Therefore, unselfish love is the fulfillment of the Law.”  Romans 13:8-10AMP

“Owe nothing to anyone” in other words “no debt” this was spoken in regards to being diligent in paying taxes, tribute, honor and  respect they are to be paid in full.  However, there is a continuing debt to be paid out…the debt of love.  And that needs to be seen in every opportunity.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” sums up the entire law…how can you love when you gossip or speak ill of another person, maybe you are jealous, covet or have unforgiveness still corrupting the work Jesus wants to do in your spirit. 

So how then can you activate “love” or in other words express your faith.   Here are six ways that will help you activate Christ like love in your daily life.

  1. Invest your life in others.
  2. Be careful to give ONLY Godly advice as well as be an excellent listener.
  3. Bring the best out of people through affection and encouragement.
  4. Forgive…be willing to forgive even when there is no repentance.
  5. Make the world a better place by acts of kindness.
  6. Intercede daily for those you encounter in prayer before the throne of grace.

Every opportunity, every encounter will fail if your motive is for selfish gain…let me explain.  Many times, we give of our time and finances in expectation of a return, we see opportunities as investment with an earthly return instead of a kingdom return.  Seek the love of your Heavenly Father, every investment here on earth will see a heavenly return.

That hurting sister that you prayed for who you tirelessly share Jesus with…will greet you with loving arms in Heaven, as Jesus welcomes you home!  Make it then your life’s pursuit, your “love walk”…receive these words…“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-3ESV

When the trumpet sounds…may you and I be known…for the love we demonstrate to others!

Sister Laurie

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

Waiting

A couple weeks ago I shared with you my sweet sisters in Jesus Christ, how the crippled man at the pool in John 5 spent years waiting for his healing.  For this man much of the waiting and frustration he experienced was of his own doing…his attitude kept him from the miraculous healing God had for him.

Waiting is a part of life, and the Bible teaches us how we wait has a lot to do with our relationship with Jesus.  Here in this writing, I would like to share with you some insight on how in the process of waiting our faith is exposed.  In other words, waiting causes us to encounter many different emotions, we get to know ourselves better.  So, you might even say waiting can be a test of our faith and the importance you and I put on our relationship with God. 

There is a direct link to waiting, our faith and our obedience.  In  Isaiah 40 the final verses tell us  “He gives strength to the weary, and to the one who lacks might He increases power.  Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord.  Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

Now I am not speaking ONLY about waiting for your prayers to be answered, I am speaking about the everyday waiting we do. Traffic lights, test results, airplane flights, vacation, Amazon orders, checkout lines, and doctor’s appointments; the list goes on and on.  How handle the wait speaks volumes about our relationship with God.

As believers we are called to respond as Jesus would in ALL things including waiting.  To help us the Bible teaches us 6 principles for living with a Kingdom perspective daily.

  1. Remember God is sovereign, no matter what we see and hear in this world…He is the ultimate authority. “All the inhabitants of the earth are of no account, but He does according to His will among the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can fend off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” Daniel 4:35 To more clearly understand this read https://newcreeations.org/sovereignty-of-god/
  2. We must trust and depend on God.  Psalm 9:10 tells us “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, Lord, have not abandoned those who seek You.”
  3. Spend time with God daily, make God part of your day.  The more we know God the clearer we will hear His voice and see Him working in our life.  Prayer is a huge part of this relationship, talking with God, simple words wholehearted spoken to Him about your life and those around you…Pastor Rick Warren uses “breathe prayers” throughout the day to privately connect with God.  Throughout the New Testament we see Jesus leaving the crowd to be alone with God, uninterrupted.  “But as for you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:6
  4. Be expectant, know with all your heart that God is listening and that He sees what you are going through, the joy and the tears…there is a well-known saying “garbage in…garbage out” what you allow in your body, mind and spirit will directly affect your relationship with God.  ”And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure, it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.” Mark 11:24
  5. Obedience even when it seems impossible. When you do not understand remain obedient until understanding comes.  This is faith lived out. “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves.” James 1:22
  6. God has given each of us gifts and talents to do the work of the Kingdom.  This work expresses our love for God.  We keep moving forward, keep pursuing Jesus NO MATTER WHAT.  Romans 12:4-8 “In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we are talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we would not amount to much, would we? So, since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.  If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.”

Now you might be thinking what does this have to do with waiting?  Whenever you or I find ourselves waiting in any given situation it becomes an opportunity to show our love for Jesus and one another.  The emotions that are stirred up during the wait express how we feel about God…is He a priority or a weekend duty? Or even forgotten during these times?  I pray for you it is the first.  Our reaction in any given situation reveals our faith.  Jesus tells us that we will have a variety of emotions and feelings given to us by God. It is when those same reactions, feelings or emotions do not reflex our position in God’s Kingdom we leave ourselves wide open to the devil’s plan to destroy us and our relationship with God. 

Some of you are facing much larger waits…the same applies to these seasons as well.  God gives us a very clear example of how when we wait on Him…He is faithful to send the help we need. Daniel fasted as an offering of obedience for 21 days while waiting for God’s help.  An Angel of the Lord answered Daniel in this way…

 Daniel 10:12-13  “Then he(an angel of the Lord) said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I (the same angel)  have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia (the devil) was standing in my way for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael (the guardian angel of the Lord), one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia(the devil). ”  Try inserting your name instead of Daniel and make it personal…God is fighting your battle and He is sending the help you need today…it is on the way so hold on!  In the meantime, God is asking for obedience before understanding.  Why not start today…

There are 3 scriptures I frequently use to remind myself of who I am in Jesus and how I need to react in any given situation.

Philippians 4:8 “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.”

Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

2 Corinthians 10:5 “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.”

I pray these words minister to your heart and that you use your waiting time to reflect the truth and love of Jesus Christ!

Blessings, Sister Laurie

Thank you to Pastor Jesse Jamerson for his thoughts on waiting last Sunday, much of which I have used in this amazing truth about waiting and the opportunity it brings.

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

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