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

We Have the Authority – Part I

Greetings to all my sisters in Jesus Christ! This is a week to take time to be thankful for the love we have from the Father and the  position we hold in His Kingdom as Daughters of the Most High King! Hallelujah! Lift your hands and praise Him, the one who give us life through His Son Jesus!

A beautiful sister in Jesus asked me to answer an important question a couple weeks ago, I felt in my heart I knew the answer, but I decided to do some research as well.  That being said… these words are not all my own, but they do reflect what I believe God would have me share on the subject of Footholds and Strongholds.

I want to open up with a prayer for revelation not only for myself but for all of you who are receiving this word.  I believe that we are all vulnerable to not only demonic oppression but also possession throughout our earthly life…believer and non-believer alike. Pray with me now…

“Heavenly Father, as we look to Your Word for answers, gather understanding from other godly believers, I pray that You God would give us the battle-ready armor and weapons upon which we wear to fight against the enemies attempts to distract and destroy Your chosen children. God give each one of us a hunger and thirst for only You God. We thank You God for how far You have brought us and now we look to go deeper in knowing You intimately and for You God to train us to use the weapons of spiritual warfare that You have provided for us. Reveal to us the strongholds in our lives and give us the courage to fight and demolish anything within us that is not of You! Thank You God for the men and women of God who have brought insight, bless them, and thank You God for Your written Word which fills us with hope and power to defeat the evil! AMEN!”

Let us begin by defining…Footholds and Strongholds.

Pastor Steve Berger defines strongholds as “A satanic lie, A generational mindset or a human wounding that you have listened to long enough, believed strongly enough and owned deeply enough that it has become part of your identity. It has fortified itself in you and dictates your thought, beliefs, actions, and reactions. It is an unholy filter through which all thoughts pass.”  Strongholds can include feelings of shame, condemnation, unforgiveness, rejection, depression, addiction, pride, unbelief, anger, and defeat. This stronghold or firm grip on our mind, spirit, body, or heart will enslave  you and I…motivating us to act out against God’s will through repeated sinful behavior.

Footholds are similar, however to me they might be considered a steppingstone before a stronghold is established or a foothold that feeds an existing stronghold.  A foothold starts out as a lie that we believe to be truth, we haven’t tested it against what God says and so we let it fester which lead us into unrepentant sin. As the unchecked lie gains momentum in our life and we began making decisions based on the lie…Satan gains ground in our lives and soon that seemingly small untruth has become a stronghold making it harder to hear the voice of your Forever Father God. Your ability to see yourself and those around you through God’s eyes grows dim.

Ultimately, the false belief is so deeply entrenched in your thinking that Satan can safely operate your life as if he were protected within the walls of a strong fortress. You see, you will defend the sin, the thought, the lie by making excuses, walking in the shadow, and isolating yourself. All Footholds and Stronghold have their beginning in our mind, just as all sin begins with a thought.

Satan and evil spirits know that if they can establish a stronghold in your mind they can control your mind.  Once they have control of your mind they can control all of you in other words when Satan has a hold of your mind, he blinds you to the truth. Unfortunately,  unbeliever or someone who has not been Born Again has their mind already held captive by Satan. This is where physical manifestations occur including illness, sickness, self-destruction, and addictions. 

There is good news coming…we overcome the devil’s schemes when we understand how he oppresses us and how we must defeat him. Paul tells us clearly one of the more common ways Satan gains a foothold,  Ephesians 4:26-27MSG he warns, “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”

In this writing I will address two of the more common strongholds…Bitterness and Fear.

BITTERNESS:  (long-held unforgiveness)  is defined as “multilayered emotion that has been described as a mixture of disappointment, disgust, anger, and fear. Bitterness can be aroused in the face of insult, injury or trauma. If not quickly dealt with bitterness grows into hate, leading to hostile actions.”  In the Bible bitterness is referred to as a posion, pungent, an acid which destroys.

Let us look at an example of how bitterness manifests into hate. When you are offended or emotionally wounded, becoming angry or embittered, you may think things such as:

  1. If I forgive the person who offended me, he/she will just hurt me again.
  2. By holding onto my anger, I can punish the one who offended me.
  3. The offense is so egregious i.e., traumatic, physical and or mentally appalling, I cannot forgive.

There is no truth in any of these thinking patterns. Wrong thinking leads to wrong behavior which is sinful disobedience of God’s instruction and in direct conflict of Christ’s sacrifice. Through unwillingness to forgive, the devil gains a foothold which quickly seeks out and builds upon other offenses or trauma you may have built a stronghold around. The walls of the stronghold harbor the lies, the justification and wrong thinking or behavior.

Only through complete forgiveness can we destroy the stronghold of bitterness and hate. The forgiveness required is not for one who hurt or offended you, it is so that no stronghold of bitterness can be formed within you. No matter how traumatic the incident, the abuse, verbal or physical we must go before our Lord and forgive them. God tells us he will take care of our transgressors. God gives us an amazing example of forgiveness found in Acts 7, Stephen had been speaking to a group of high priests, sharing the gospel using the history of the saints found in the Old Testament to bring the truth of Jesus Christ to them. We find in verses 57-60 they turned on him, drove him from the city where they stoned him to death. Verse 60 says it all, “Then he fell on his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.”  Forgiveness is not a choice, it is an absolute, Jesus died for us allowing us to be forgiven, therefore, we MUST forgive.

Hanging on the bitterness is self-destructive and poisons the soul (the place where our mind, will and emotions exist).

 Hebrews 12:15 says “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”

Ephesians 4:30-32 tells us, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

1 Corinthians 13:5 reminds us that if we say we love God we must also love people and with that we “do not keep an account of a wrong suffered.”

FEAR: is defined in the dictionary as, “an unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined.” While this may hold some truth…the true definition of fear is “the absence of faith.”  The absence of faith is nothing more than the absence of God’s Word, lack of an intimate relationship with God which is grounded in truth and trust, simple stated fear is nothing more that ignorance or laziness to find out what God’s Word says and walk in the fullness of who you are in Christ.

Romans 1:19-20TPT says “In reality, the truth of God is known instinctively, for God has embedded this knowledge inside every human heart. Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance, because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities of God’s nature have been made visible, such as his eternal power and transcendence. He has made his wonderful attributes easily perceived, for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible. So then, this leaves everyone without

Excuse.”

Jesus confronts the disciples when they were crossing the sea and “a great windstorm arose and the waves beat against the boat”, read Mark 4:35-40. The disciples quickly cried out saying “do you not care we are perishing?”  Jesus’ responds with three questions:

  1. Why are you fearful?
  2. How is it that you have no faith?
  3. Where is your faith?

Anyone with a stronghold of fear MUST ask these same questions, the answers will reveal the source of the stronghold and how it was established. It is then that you can begin to take down the mental fortress of fear.

Let us look closer at the three questions.

  1. Why are you fearful? What is the reason for your fear, and does it have any rational truth to it? Most fear is nothing more than unintelligent or foolish reaction to something that may not even exist. If you do fear something you must ask yourself “Have I elevated this fear above God’s Word?”
  2. How is it that you have no faith? Jesus is rebuking the disciples, you and I included. When you read it in the Greek it screams of sarcasm.  He is saying to us…Do you believe my Words?
  3. Where is your faith? Mic Drop! Here is the heart of the issue…what are you trusting in? If your confidence and trust is not in God’s Word then anything else is sure to disappoint you at some point.  God NEVER disappoints, it is our skewed  perspective, God tells us over and over He will never leave us or forsaken us.

Fear when left to grow within us causing us to isolate ourselves, become increasingly unable to be around other people, some suffer with not being able to leave their home or even room. This is mental imprisonment fueled by the enemie’s lies now believed and lifted higher than the truth of Jesus Christ and God’s Word.

In a separate writing I will speak of the manifestation of fear deeper. Here are examples where fear brought great difficult to God’s people.

Isaiah 36 is the account of King Hezekiah and his people being held captive by the lies spoken by the king of Assyria (Satan) this siege went on for 4 years, only God’s Truth could set them free.

Exodus 3 Moses was afraid when God told him to leave his humble profession of shepherding to confront Pharaoh to release the Israelites.

Numbers 13 The ten leaders Moses sent to scout the Promised Land were afraid of the giants they saw and that led to another 40 years of wandering in the desert.

Jonah 1 Jonah was a prophet sent by God to preach to the people of Nineveh but was afraid of the command. As such, he was swallowed by a big fish when running away and stayed there for three days and three nights.

Bitterness and fear permit the devil to infiltrate our mind, these footholds and strongholds rob us of the peace and joy God has for us, it keeps us at arm’s length of the intimate relationship God desires to have with you and me. There are the other ways in which evil spirits gain access to our lives making us vulnerable to demonic attack in part two I will address how deception, rebellion, pride, habitual sin, generational sin and the occult (false religions) are a gateway to strongholds.

The door for spiritual attack in our life is opened by sins we commit as well as the sins committed against us. There are numerous articles and books on the subject of “spiritual warfare” they reveal that there are several areas of sin through which the enemy finds entrance into our lives, so that he can as scriptures says, “A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy.” John 10:10TPT 

However, the verse does not end there so right now claim this as a refreshing truth in your life “But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow!”  Let that sink in!

We have all we need to defeat any evil spirits and destroy any stronghold within us. Once we embrace this truth, we must go to the scriptures for freedom.

My life scriptures are those which bring the breaking of strongholds, so I will start with those and in Part Two I will bring more weapons and ways of dealing not only footholds and strongholds but defeating the strongman as well.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6NKJV personalized  “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare (God’s Word, Prayer, Deliverance, Worship and Confession) are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments (lies, deception, opinions, theories, and philosophies) and every high thing (material possession, status, position, behavior) that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,  and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”

For me I give special attention to 2 Corinthians 10:5, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”  Now this is an important stage it will require you to be disciplined in taking captive wrong thinking, the infiltrated thoughts by the enemy before they escalate and take hold.

That same scripture in The Passion Translation puts it like this “We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and breakthrough every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One.”

Once we identify the thought be it cloaked in bitterness or fear, we know there is an evil spirit behind it.  There is  a two-step process…

First, we rebuke it out loud… you have the authority through Jesus Christ, Matthew 10:1 NKJV says “He gave them (you and I) power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. When addressing evil spirits or the devil we must speak it out loud, he cannot read our minds or spirit, he can only suggest to our mind.

Secondly, we now take control over your emotions if they are engaged, maybe even your physical body and tell them to be still. We shift our focus. Paul wrote the following scripture while in prison, he knew the battle in his mind needed to be obedient to God’s truth and not his physical environment. Philippians 4:8 tells us to give our attention to whatever is…

               True: Truth combats lies, it gives us and keeps us free.

               Noble: Honorable, honest, moral

               Just: Innocent, holy

               Pure: Modest, chaste, humble

               Lovely: Friendly, welcoming, and accepting

               Of Good Report: Reputable, well spoken, trustworthy

               Virtuous: Excellence, valiant, right with God

               Praiseworthy: Commendable, holy, and good

This is what Jesus did that night in the boat…He identified the wind or spirit behind it (the evil spirit attempting to prevent them from crossing the sea)and rebuked it (cast out).  Then He spoke to the physical conditions wind and waves saying “Hush, be still.”  Immediately the sea was calm, and the wind/spirit left.

In closing, I pray I have not given you more questions but answers! 

Here is a basic prayer to get you started in defeating footholds and strongholds, speak to God without reservation, repent quickly and ask Him to restore you.

Father God, instruct the Holy Spirit who is regarded as the Spirit of Truth to reveal and guide me in all truth.  I submit myself to You and ask that you would look deep within me and reveal any area of my life in which I have made vulnerable to demonic attack.  (John 16:13)  It is the desire of my heart to recognize and destroy footholds and strongholds that evil spirits may have established in order to influence my thoughts and actions. Once revealed help me to stand on Your Word, to use every spiritual weapon and destroy anything that would  separate me from you God. God I give you all praise and glory and am thankful for all you have done in my life and continue to do. AMEN (Psalm 21:2, Ephesians 4:26-27; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Romans 8:39)

Blessings, Sister Laurie

Thank you to the following amazing men 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

Boomerang

Greetings in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ! I was out working in my flower beds and my husband was moving the lawn we were sharing earpieces and listening to the same worship music.  The song “Stay” by William McDowell was playing…God just started downloading and as He was my husband came up to me and put his arms around me, he began tearfully praying  while I could not hear his prayer I could feel the Holy Spirit surrounding us.

The lyrics of the song go something like this…

I know what it’s like, To be in the presence of the Lord And not know what time it is, Because time stood still

And bodies were healed, Families restored Because we stayed here, In the presence of the Lord

No one had to say a word, Couldn’t even make a sound But I’d give up everything, For this treasure I’ve found

I never want it to end…

In that moment God was saying…stay focused on Me, Stay with Me, Hold My Truth Close…Now my daughter spread your wings and share My Truth…Send it out…BEYOND! I have you in My arms He said, I have your Children and Loved Ones in My arms those battles have been won NOW move out and pour out!

Isaiah 40:31 is what God was saying to me…”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.”

So many people spend their Christian walk micromanaging instead of seeing God’s purpose. Solomon realized this to late, he lived a life of a blessed King, every comfort, the platitudes of victory rang in his life so much so that he lost sight of his purpose, the one God had given him. He thought I have rebuilt the temple, I have made the holy sacrifices, followed the law and yet it left him wanting.  He realized this truth towards the end of his earthly life and penned the book of Ecclesiastes as a warning to us. God inspired him to write of how we can become caught up in meaningless living.  Even our search for knowledge is as “striving after wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:17-18) What is wisdom without Kingdom Truth. Our prayers become no more than fleshy pleading for ourselves, our wayward children, dissatisfaction in our careers. Our desire to find happiness is what we pray and those empty prayers only leave us empty and hungry.

Do you find your prayers unanswered? The troubles seem unsurmountable, your relationships remain broken…your thinking “Why me?”  May I offer these scriptures, “What is the cause of your conflicts and quarrels with each other? Doesn’t the battle begin inside of you as you fight to have your own way and fulfill your own desires? You jealously want what others have so you begin to see yourself as better than others. You scheme with envy and harm others to selfishly obtain what you crave—that’s why you quarrel and fight. And all the time you don’t obtain what you want because you won’t ask God for it! And if you ask, you won’t receive it for you’re asking with corrupt motives, seeking only to fulfill your own selfish desires.” James 4:1-3 NASB  The believers in the early church had not learned how to set aside offense, their selfish desire to have it their way was affecting their relationship with God and those around them. Their prayers went unanswered because of their bitter, selfish, prideful attitude was like a great wall separating them from walking in God’s truth, satisfying their thirst and hunger.

James 5:17 TPT says this “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!”

I encourage you to spend time with God not asking for anything but giving Him your best praise!  Pray scriptures of praise that speak of His goodness! Philippians 4:4-8 tells us in the passion translation “Be cheerful with celebration in every season of life. Let your joy overflow! And let gentleness be seen in every relationship, for our Lord is ever near. Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life,  then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ. Keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable, and admirable, beautiful, and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.”

Now embrace these words from your Father, “The moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:26-28 MSG

Here is the boomerang, what we send out is what we get back…in our relationship with God and in this world… our ability to be “in His presence” is directly affected by our relationship with Him, time spent in His Word, at His feet and just worship Him for ALL He has done, All His is doing and What He is about to do!

Blessings, Sister Laurie

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

Wealthy in Love

Today my sweet sisters in Christ Jesus I want to explore with you Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi found in Philippians 2:1-11.  The church was experiencing many of the same challenges you and I face as believers.  Conflict, unforgiveness, pride, selfish ambition, vain conceit, dislike, and false teaching had found it way into the church. 

Paul opens his letter in this way… “Therefore, if there is any encouragement and comfort in Christ as there certainly is in abundance, if there is any consolation, comfort, support of love, if there is any fellowship that we share in the Spirit, if there is any great depth of tenderness, affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love toward one another, knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel—the good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ.” Verses 1-2 personalized  Paul is pleading with them to resolve the tension and seek to heal any brokenness found.  He says if that can be accomplished it will make his joy complete (verse 2).

Paul further describes the condition of the church with these words “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit through factional motives, or strife, but with an attitude of humility being neither arrogant nor self-righteous, regard others as more important than yourselves.  Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”( verses 3-4) 

Put simply you cannot claim to love God and dislike, hold bitterness for others.  The question arises “Why do people do the things they do?”  I believe that we have not fully comprehended the suffering and sacrifice Christ made for us…that day on the cross in which supernatural love was poured out for us…Loving others is so costly only Jesus’s costly love for us can move us to bear the cost.  Jesus has a radical love for us! This love is so profound, so expense…it is a mystery so deep we can only know it in our spirit!  If we can grab hold of this love, we will be so rich in love we will be forever changed, unable to dislike or hold bitterness.  In our humanness…our mind and body cannot ever understand!  This love is spiritual and supernatural! When we step into this love it is spiritually supercharged.

I want to try and bridge our lack of understanding by helping you and I to understand exactly what Jesus did that day.  Most of us can easily say these words “Jesus suffered and died on the cross for me” however that is so limited.  The depth of Jesus’s love for us is revealed on the cross not so much in the physical suffering but in how society looked at this form of death.  What does it cost for God to love us? We know He sent His only Son to earth for the purpose of leading us in knowing God and restoring his relationship with us, revealing who we really are and redeeming us through Jesus’s death.  Philippians 2:6-8TPT says “He existed in the form of God, yet he gave no thought to seizing equality with God as his supreme prize.   Instead he emptied himself of his outward glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant to be exploited. He became human!  He humbled himself and became vulnerable, choosing to be revealed as a man and was obedient.  He was a perfect example, even in his death—a criminal’s death by crucifixion!”

The cross was consider to be the most degrading form of death, the people of Jesus time saw crucifixion differently; the Jews saw it as being cursed by God, ultimate insult, shunned;  the Romans used it much like the Mexican cartels today who hang their victims in a public place as if to say “don’t mess with us”;  the Greeks saw it as humiliating, scandalous, disgraceful, further evidence that God could care less about humanity; to all it was an abomination, degradation, torture fit only for a slave. There is no other death in which the individual’s life could be destroyed that has the same impact and yet Jesus took the weight of the world, the sin and suffered this for you and me.  I don’t know about you but just writing these words is making me nauseas and tearful.

What great love…I will never fully comprehend while I walk this earth.  This is where love is revealed…we must let this revelation lead us into understanding how much we are loved and redeemed by a risen Lord.  And for this reason alone…verse 9-11TPT says “Because of that obedience, God exalted him and multiplied his greatness! He has now been given the greatest of all names!  The authority of the name of Jesus causes every knee to bow in reverence! Everything and everyone will one day submit to this name—in the heavenly realm, in the earthly realm, and in the demonic realm. And every tongue will proclaim in every language: “Jesus Christ is Lord Yahweh,” bringing glory and honor to God, his Father!”

You see, the Father, the Creator of us all acknowledges what Jesus has done for love!  We are rich in love!  And so now I leave you with this question can you love as He did?  Philippians 2:5 leaves us with these words…”And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let his mindset become your motivation.”

Blessings, Sister Laurie

This writing came to me after watching a teaching on Real Love 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

Friendship

Friendship is a precious part of life. Real joy comes from friendships established with Jesus Christ at the center.  Much like marriage God has a plan for true friendship.  God put it on Pau’s heart to l write to us in Philippians about the significance of God centered relationships. Our friendships should be a reflection of our relationship with Christ.

Today, social media has changed the face of relationships, instead of personal interaction…sharing a coffee or meal, watching a movie, taking a walk or just quietly sitting together enjoying someone company our relationships have been reduced to how many likes our post, tweet, photo receive.  Social media is a platform to create a fantasy, a false you.  How many of you have observed someone creating an untrue image, an exaggerated condition, even a totally made-up situation to gain attention. People are using social media to hide what’s really happening, they filter their photos so that people can’t see their true self.  Suicide has risen because people have become isolated using social media to express some of what they are feeling yet those responding somehow are unable to decipher their true desperation, their feelings of hopelessness. We answer with an “I Care” emoji, or even “I’m praying for you” these empty responses are so swallow without any true cost.  Texting is causing indifference and further isolation.  There is a price in godly relationships…time, comfort, even financial at times. What if when that distressing tweet, post, text came to your attention you got in your car and showed up?  It is in our nature to gather, have physical contact, true affection, pray together, share our sorrow…this is friendship.

Before we take a look at Paul’s opening words in his letter to the Philippians let me share a little background about this intimate letter of love and friendship.  Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians while he was in prison, he had visited and established a church in Philippi among the gentiles which within itself is one of God’s miracles, Paul was a Pharisee before coming to Christ and the people in Philippi were gentiles so a relationship between these two was very unlikely in fact gentiles where seen as unclean. Yet God’s love and truth broke the social barrier creating a deep love for these people in Paul.  True friendship and love between believers cannot been attached to a worldly perspective.

1-2 Paul and Timothy, both of us committed servants of Christ Jesus, write this letter to all the followers of Jesus in Philippi, pastors and ministers included. We greet you with the grace and peace that comes from God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ.

3-6 Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

7-8 It’s not at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality. You have, after all, stuck with me all the way from the time I was thrown in jail, put on trial, and came out of it in one piece. All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God. He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does! Philippians 1:1-8MSG

Paul understands the value of friendship, he recognizes how the relationship he has with God and the tangible friendships…better said love and affection he shares for those dear friends in Philippi have sustained him during his imprisonment and trial.  Our love for Jesus should be reflected in our friendships.  This is why, it is so important to gather and fellowship with other believers only they can fill the need for friendship as God designed.  When we have a friendship with someone which is like minded in their belief in Jesus, it deepens our relationship with God and allows our true beauty and purpose to emerge.

It saddens me greatly when I see bitterness and misunderstanding between believers, how can we possible say we love God and yet hold grudges, offense and jealousy in our hearts.  The answer is we cannot.  I urge you my sister to seek out broken friendships and mend them.  Start praying that God might lead you and if a softening is needed that the Holy Spirit would work in both of you.

Sometimes guilt or shame is holding you back from forgiveness.  These are two very different feelings; guilt is focused on something we have done, while shame focuses on the person…self.  Shame says something is wrong with me.  As women shame is fed by a misconception or confusion tied to our identity.  It is a constant feeling that we are not good enough.  This is bound to a worldly perspective, a lie of the enemy, an experience.  Shame is an epidemic effecting everyone…it is everywhere, every nation, every culture it is related to addiction, depression, violence, homosexuality, bullying, aggression, eating disorders, suicide and more.

The righteousness we find through Jesus Christ is the antidote for shame.  Shame is the opposite of righteousness. Look at what shame did for Adam and Eve, filled with shame they, hide from God, covered their bodies, they felt they had to protect themselves from God.  This is Satan’s trap, a weapon shrewdly used.  Shame has destroyed the beauty God intended for friendship, fellowship, intimacy with God and people. BUT God has given us the fruit of righteousness that is to be “right with God”.  Isaiah 32:17-18 says “And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness will be quietness and confident trust forever.  Then my people will live in a peaceful surrounding, and in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places.”  This kind of life and friendship is available to us right now.

Now think of your relationship with God…If your relationship with Him is fractured how can you fully embrace and receive what He did for you on the cross? How can He help you mend and restore broken relationships?  How can you love and sustain godly friendships? Right now, go before your Heavenly Father and ask Him to forgive you and reveal hidden shame that is affect your ability to love as He loves you.  Speak with confidence and proclaim who you are in Jesus, immerse yourself in godly music, fellowship, study, and prayer.  Give the enemy no room to corrupt who God says you are.

Dear Sisters…Paul prayed this prayer for his friends, his brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus and now I pray it for you my dear sisters in Christ Jesus…”So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11MSG

Blessings, Sister Laurie

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

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

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.