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

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.

Living with an Unhealthy Heart

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

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

The Wounded Heart

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

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

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

The Hypocritical Heart

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

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

The Greedy Heart

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

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

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

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

Blessings, Sister Laurie

The Five Senses and God

God carefully constructed you, with His creative finger He mixed your DNA perfectly.  He placed your spirit within you, you are the daughter of the Most High King. Psalm 139:13-18

In “The Message Translation” of Roman 8:18-27 a beautiful picture of creation and our position is revealed,  “That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

 Meanwhile, 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.”

The birth pangs (groans) are the result of two factors; First, we are subject through our five senses to experience a fallen world. Second, these senses also provide an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father.

 There are many scriptures about guarding the gateways of our five senses, yes, we must become well versed in this protecting and taking care to not let the devil and the temptations of the world sidetrack us.  We were created to experience God’s goodness through our five senses.  On your own meditate on the following scriptures and the amazing power within us to perceive God through our five senses.

Eyes:  Matthew 6:22 says “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 13:16, Luke 11:34 ESV

Ears:  Luke 11:28 says “But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!.”  Proverbs 20:12, Romans 10:17, Psalm 94:9, Luke 11:28, Matthew 11:15 ESV

Touch:  1 John 1:1 says ““That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.”   John 20:27, Genesis 3:3 ESV

Taste: Psalm 34:8 says ” Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 119:103, Matthew 5:13, Hebrews 5:14 ESV

Smell:  2 Corinthians 2:14-15 says “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”  Psalm 115:3-8, Ephesians 5:1-2, 1 Corinthians 12:17,   Genesis 27:27 ESV

You and I must be sure our five sense serve as instruments of righteousness and not instruments of wickedness.  Let us look at how God intended for us to use the power behind our physical body to encounter God’s glory.

  1. Guide our eyes.  May our vision witness the glory of the Lord and all His creation.
  2. Monitor our hearing.  Let our ears be fine-tuned to hear His voice.
  3. Control our tastes.  Feast on the manna that being His Word which He has provided.
  4. Watch our touch.  Lay hold and embrace the treasure found in God’s grace.
  5. Train our smell.  Crave only what is true and that will enrich our souls.

Yes, these are gateways to our spirit.  Through these gates pass the tangible and ideas of the world.  They are ties to our environment.  Place a sentry, God’s Word, at every gate. Watch, listen, consume, touch and be drawn by only that which will edify your spirit. Be sure your five senses serve as tools with kingdom purpose and not captive to the devil and a fallen world.

1 John 1:1-4 ESV says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Remember: God’s power will keep you.  His Spirit will fill you.  His wisdom will guide you.  His authority will enable you.  His love will protect you.  His peace will lift you.  His provision will sustain you.

Romans 8: 39 in The Passion Translation says, “There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!”

Be Blessed,

Sister Laurie

JesusTruth 3/25/2021

Input > Output

Becoming good at anything in life requires something from us.  The same stands for a personal relationship with Jesus.  Becoming a friend of God takes desire, time, and energy.  You are His child, yes, His creation, your spirit placed within your mother’s womb was done with intention.  You parents were by His design.  When you look in the mirror you are exactly what God choose for you, all the physical characteristics were handpicked by God. A Zebra’s coat of black and white stripes is unique, their hairy coat and stripes would not work on hippopotamus who spend much of his time in the rivers of Africa.  We are much like those beautiful creations in that God made us unique and prefect for His pleasure.

I digress, this writing is not about your freckles, dark brown eyes, or any of your other physical qualities.  I want to share with you my thoughts about being God’s friend and sharing the things He loves and standing against the enemies of God.  Can you feel inside yourself, that yearning, that empty feeling that hungers for meaning? That hunger and yearning comes from your spirit, your soul that is longing for God.  Because we are His, God gave us an appetite for His truth and to walk in His ways.

The question becomes how then? It is a process, each of us must go through it, many times I compare God to a slow cooker, we must simmer on God details only then will we receive and enjoy all God has for us.  On our own we are a microwave set on high, wanting the finished, perfectly cooked in minutes.  To feed this hunger you must intimately connect with God, you must learn to honestly share your feelings with Him, trust His leading, care about what He cares about and desire His friendship more than anything else in your life.

I am leading a Bible Study right now with a group of ladies, and we are encountering God through the book “Purpose Driven Life”, by Rick Warren. Almost 20 years ago when I was first searching for God beyond salvation, God lead me to a group of women who were about to begin this book.  This book forever changed my life.  It is a gateway to the truth of who we are and how God desires a personal relationship with His children, that includes you!  Throughout this writing today I will be quoting from this book and sharing the truths God gave me.

The title of this writing in an amazingly simple way states that our input must be greater than our output.  What you fill your life with is the input and the result is seen in your output, where you spend your time, money and energy is the result.

Let us talk about what that friendship, relationship with God should look like.

  1. God requires complete honesty. Adam hid when God called to him in the garden, not because God did not know where Adam was but because God wanted Adam to be honest with Him. (Genesis 3:9)  God does not expect you to be perfect, but He does require you to be completely honest.  This honesty is seen throughout the Bible; prophets, leaders and disciples openly share their complaints, dissatisfaction, and fears with God.  God encourages us to share every concern. It is perfectly OK to ask, “Why God”.  David, Abraham, Jeremiah, and Job all questioned God.  In each situation, God listened and because of their candor, lives were saved, David would be called “a man after God’s own Heart”, Job would express his bitterness, yet God called him “his friend.” God is looking for transparency in our relationship with Him.  Rick Warren says, “God listens to the passionate words of His friends; He is bored with predictable, Christian cliches.”  You must be honest with God, share your true feelings…honestly…not holding back.  God uses everything in our lives for good, much like Joseph. When you harbor resentment toward God over your appearance, background, unanswered prayers, past hurts, and other things you are holding God at an arms distance.  Many people blame God for something that another person has done.  When you allow an emotion or hurt to separate you from God, a stronghold begins to form, and this prevents our spiritual hunger to be satisfied.  We start looking to satisfy it somewhere else.  Expressing your feelings and thoughts honestly to God is the first step toward the next level of intimacy with God.
  2. Faith is a choice. Faith is unseen meaning that you cannot go down the store and buy some.  Faith is where the intangible meets the tangible. Every time you trust God when you cannot see a result or do not understand, you deepen your friendship with God.  Jesus made it clear that obedience is a condition of intimacy with God.  He said, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:14  Faith is obedience, they go hand in hand, you cannot be a true friend of God if you cannot follow is direction.  Rick Warren tells us  “We are close companions and have special privileges, much like that of a king and his inter court however they still had to obey the king’s commands.  God is our king, and we must follow Him.” Your obedience must be out of love.  Many Christians today have caught the ride of faith and obedience on the back of their parents.  They not only do not have their salvation, but they are also no friend to God.
  3. Value what God values.  As a friend do you value what is important to that friend?  How much more should you value what is important to God, your Forever Father and Best Friend.  The more you know God what is important to Him becomes important to you.   In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul said “The thing that has me so upset is that I care about you (people in Corinth) so much—this is the passion of God burning inside me!” David felt the same way when he spoken this “Passion for Your house burns within me, so those who insult You (God) are also insulting me.”  What does God care about most? You! As well as all His children!  That is why Jesus came, to save His most precious creation, made in His image…YOU! God suffered as He put His Son on the cross…what a sacrifice!  To be a friend of God you must see all His children through His eyes, counting each as cherished as the next.  Friends of God tell others about Him.
  4. Your desire to be a friend of God MUST BE more important than anything else.  David passionately desired to “know” God. This word ”know” means “intimately”. This desire to know God above anything else cries out with words like; hungering, craving, thirsting, aching, wanting…you were born with this inside you, your spirit longs for God and His Truth.  When you do not make Him your “one and only” the world and the devil replace it with selfish sinful desire.  Psalm 27:4 says “Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else:  I want the privilege of living with Him every moment in His house, finding the sweet loveliness of His face, filled with awe, delighting in His glory and grace.  I want to live my life so close to Him that He takes pleasure in my every prayer.”  “Your love means more than life to me.” Psalm 63:3

The truth is you are as close to God as you want to be.  He is right here, right now, beside you…waiting for you to say, “Here I am Lord.”

This relationship is not only ongoing it is eternal…what you do right now, tomorrow, and next week are opportunities to know God…how much more amazing will it be when you leave planet earth to embrace the living God in your eternal home if you already know Him!

Jeremiah 29:13 says “When you get serious about finding Me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you will not be disappointed.”

Start now, pray this through your day, “Dear Jesus, more than anything else, I want to get to know you intimately, I want to experience everything You have for me!”

Be Encouraged and Blessed,

Sister Laurie

I wholeheartedly recommend you take the 40-day journey found in Rick Warren’s book “Purpose Driven Life”.