ELEMENTS

Greetings to all of you, my sweet sisters in Jesus Christ.  “It was for freedom that Christ set you and I free…completely liberated; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be hampered and ensnared or allow sin to put a leash on you which Jesus Christ has removed.  There is no sin that can hold you captive unless you give in to it.” Galatians 5:1 personalized

This life we are living…the relationship we have with Jesus and others are as vital as the very air we breathe.  There are specific elements to our relationship with our Savior which are also necessary in our earthly relationships.  A couple weeks ago our youth pastor at Generations Church, Pastor Jesse Jamerson, spoke some words of Truth on this very subject.  Here find my takeaway from Pastor Jesse and God’s Truth.

God’s Word pours out the elements of our relationship with our Creator, His Son, and His children.  Let’s explore each of these elements so that you and I might find the Truth concerning a more intimate bond with God and others.  This has always been God’s Plan from those first days when Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden until Jesus returns…God’s primary concern has been our relationship with Him.

We know from God’s Word (Genesis 1:26-28) we were created in His image.  Unfortunately, that image was twisted and distorted by sin.  Jesus came to restore that image, His sacrifice paid the price for our sin once and for all…past, present, and future.   Now this opportunity is for this moment, here in our earthly bodies, to experience God’s Love through a relationship with Jesus.  To claim our Kingdom position as His Children, the daughters of the Most High King.  This position can only be manifested in your life through a thriving relationship with Your Savior and Heavenly Father.

This relationship I am speaking of has elements or attributes, without them we CANNOT receive the love God intends for each of us.  These very elements also must be found in our relationships with others.  Let’s take a close look at what is required…

Be Yourself –  There is no need to try and make a false impression on God, He already knows…also be real with those around you.  The Apostle Paul puts it right out there…”And when I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come as someone superior in speaking ability or wisdom, as I proclaimed to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.  I also was with you in weakness and fear, and in great trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of mankind, but on the power of God.” 

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NASB  We also find in 2 Timothy 2:15. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” False impressions to impress quickly fade.   Remember, God made you so let others see the real you.

Further study; Psalm 139:14, 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, Romans 12:1-21, James 5:15

Spend Time – It is said what you spend time with what you value.  Your relationship with God and others is dependent on the time you invest.  How can we know someone, or they know us if we don’t spend time with them?  God is passionate about a relationship with you.  God wants us to spend time with Him!  In fact, the more time we spend with God, the more He will be involved in our lives.  James 4:8 MSG says “So let God work his will in you.  Yell a loud “NO” to the Devil and watch him make himself scarce.  Say a quiet YES to God and he’ll be there in no time.  Quit dabbling in sin.  Purify your inner life.  Quit playing the field.  Hit bottom and  cry your eyes out.  The fun and games are over.  Get serious, really serious.  Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.”

More than anything, spending time with God not only builds your relationship but your faith.  “Come, let’s talk this over, says the Lord; no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool!” Isaiah 1:18 TLB  Our personal relationships also require time and conversation…How are we to know one another if there is no investment of our time. 

Further study: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Hebrews 10:25

Communication – 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” The Bible warns us that what we say and how we say it is important to God.  Conversation like spending time is crucial in every relationship.  God loves to hear our thoughts and ideas after all He created us to be unique and have a life purpose.  Through our conversations with Him that purpose is revealed.  With others God’s Word, speaks clearly about how through our communication we build or damage relationships.  “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.”  Proverbs 18:13NLT Also, Colossians 4:6NLT says, “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”  What we say and how we say it makes all the difference.  “  If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying?  You might as well be talking into empty space.”  1 Corinthians 14:9NLT

Further study: Proverbs 13:17, James 1:19, Psalm 19:14, Proverbs 15:1

Humility – This word often is confusing for us even the dictionary doesn’t really define what it means to walk in humility, in fact it is completely a world’s view and not Gods.  Simply stated to walk in humility is to fully understand “It’s NOT about you!”  Humility is better defined by servanthood, that is the way in which we serve others and God.  In fact, to serve God is to serve others without expectation of reward or recognition.  A true believer gives with a cheerful heart, quietly without expecting something in return.  You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure.  “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NASB, Here it is so plainly put…meditate upon these words, “Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life.  Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God!  Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious free life.  Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God.  Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God.  That person ignores who God is and what he is doing.  And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.”  Romans 8:5-8  When we are unable or unwilling to humble ourselves we are saying we don’t trust God.

Further Study: 1 Peter 5:6-7, James 4:6, Philippians 2:3-4, Matthew 18:4, Ephesians 4:1-3

Trust – Putting your trust in God is the way forward.  Set aside your anxieties and doubts and turn it all over to the Lord.  God says “Trust in me, your Father, the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to me, and I will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6personalized  “You will keep the man in perfect peace whose mind is kept on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 NLT How can you find peace without trusting God, in this world with so much uncertainty.  In those you love as well, there must be trust, without trust every single  other element in the relationship will fail. 

Further study: Psalm 9:10, Proverbs 28:26, Philippians 4:19, 2 Corinthians 5:7

Listen – Are you a good listener?  Listening is one of the easiest things you’ll ever do, and one of the hardest.

In a sense, listening is easy, or I should say hearing is easy. It doesn’t demand the initiative and energy required in speaking.  That’s why “faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ”. Romans 10:17NASB.  We must make listening to God a priority.  God is speaking to us continually; we must train our spirit to hear His Voice. But despite this ease — or perhaps precisely because of it — we often fight against it. In our sin, we’d rather trust in ourselves than another, amass our own righteousness than receive another’s, speak our thoughts than listen to someone else.  True, sustained, active listening is a great act of faith, and a great means of grace, both for ourselves and for others.   This happens when we invest time.  It is through reading His word, fasting, and praying we increase our ability to listen to God.  In our relationship with others the same applies, if you are so busy talking how can you know what your loved one is feeling or thinking.  Humility is at work in listening as well as having good communication skills.  So, learning to listen well won’t happen overnight. It requires discipline, effort, and intentionality.  You will get better with time.  Here are seven steps to becoming a better listener (1) Good listening requires patience.  Remember it’s not about you.  (2) Good listening is an act of love. (3) Good listening asks perspective questions.  (4) Good listening readies us to minister words of grace to precisely the place where the other is in need.  (5) Good  listening can be a greater service than speaking.  Lean in express concern with your body language. (6)  Put more emphasis on affirmation than on answers.  (7) Good listening should reflect our relationship with God.

Further Study: John 10:27, James 1:19, Matthew 7:27, Proverbs 12:15 and 18:13

Intentional – We must pursue God with intention.  Let’s be honest, the fast pace of life can easily whisk us away and into the busy grind, leaving the day void of conversations with God.  This is true for our relationships with others as well. “So then, be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17NASB  Our deepest friends should be committed Christ-followers that encourage us spiritually, and whom we are actively encouraging.  We are to be a light in our relationships and conversations with non-believers. “and let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25NASB  We must actively pursue two types of relationships: ones that contribute to our spiritual walk and ones to whom we can contribute, both believers and non-believers. “Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:13-14

Further Study:  Ephesians 4:15-16, Philippians 2:2-4, Colossians 4:2-6, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Proverbs 13:20

Intimacy – “Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.  Test my motives and my heart.  For I am always aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to your truth..” Psalm 26:2-3NLT  When writing to the church at Philippi, Paul said this, “I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself.  If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.” Philippians 3:10 When we look at this word “know” in its fullness of translation we see there is or was nothing more intimate, more personal, this is experienced through the Holy Spirit residing within us.  We can confidently say when we know God we are never alone.  Jesus had such an intimate relationship with God that He knew He was never alone.  No matter the circumstance, no matter who was around Him or how people felt about Him or treated Him, Jesus was at peace, confident, and able to overcome. This is what it is like to experience intimacy with God. God  is the starting place for this kind of intimacy with others.  If we cannot be intimate with our Savior, then we will surely struggle to be intimate with people.  Yet if we can be intimate with God, He can and will show us how to be free to encounter the kind of intimacy in relationships that we all desire.

Further Study: John 15:4-6, Zephaniah 3:17, John 17:3, Colossians 3:1, Romans 5:8, Matthew 10:30

When you are pursuing a relationship with God built upon these elements, it affects every aspect of your life. You’ll love differently, treat people differently, you will see the world and others through Jesus’ eyes.

In closing here are a few more scriptures to meditate upon…

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”  1 John 3:18NLT  

“You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters.  Love each other deeply with all your heart.”  1 Peter 1:22NLT

“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7 NLT

Finally, this is my desire for you sweet sisters…“I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love.  I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.”  Colossians 2:2 NLT

Blessings, Sister Laurie

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

Peripheral

Greetings to all of you, my sisters in Jesus Christ.  I am just going to jump right in.  There is a battling raging in the world.  Our position with God is solid, however God tells us in His Word…”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 2:16KJV

Today, the kingdom of God is under full attack…the forces of evil are out there bringing confusion and destruction.  While we know with confidence the battle is won for God’s eternal purpose people are still perishing daily.  The lines of identity, social justice, moral value have been blurred.  You might ask why is this happening?  It is because believers all over the world have taken the back seat and allowed God’s Truth to be silenced.

We must arm ourselves and not be shy, the back seat is not working, God wants us driving!  We must remember who has been given authority against the forces of darkness in this world right now!  Who has been called to share God’s love in this world with power and influence?  It is you and I my sister!  So, what can we do?  Let me make it clear…everyone is important and has value!  No matter how far astray they have become from the beautiful person God created them to be.

First, in God’s Word and Truth as spoken in Luke 4:18AMP, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me (the Messiah), Because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor.  He has sent Me to announce release (pardon, forgiveness) to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed (downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy).” 

Second, we have a responsibility in our relationships, not just family but those we encounter in our peripheral daily life, Colossians 2:2TLB says, “This is what I have asked of God for you: that you will be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love, and that you will have the rich experience of knowing Christ with real certainty and clear understanding.  For God’s secret plan, now at last made known, is Christ himself.”  Further, Colossians 3:13-14NTL “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”

We must stand up in a loving way to Satan’s attempts at destroying or should I say taking as many as he can with him, that really what it amounts to…Jesus is coming and those who have not heard, have not taken Jesus Christ as their Savior will suffer the consciences.  That is the harsh truth!

Here are some steps we can take to help those lost in the devil’s grip find freedom.

  • Arm yourself, know God…daily talk, pray and read His Word, seek out Godly instruct, worship, prophecy and sing of His power and goodness.  The more time we invest in Him the closer we grow and the more power to free those captives is revealed.  It is all about relationship with Him and then taking it to others.
  • Meet people where they are both physically and spiritually.  Right in their mess…reach out in love, offer encouragement that there is something so much better coming.  Identify with their situation, remember one size does not fit all, we must be relevant to the culture and situation.
  • Use world tools to reach people, don’t engage in political arguments instead promote God’s love.  Consider who is in your peripheral, their culture, background, past, outward appearance.  Remember everyone deserves to be loved.  Forgiveness is key.  We must live without offence, quick to forgive.  Please know I am not talking about living in an abusive relationship or tolerating abuse, it is how we react that shows our forgiveness and love. Live with healthy, Godly boundaries.
  • Listen…less words more listening.  Are you taking the time to really listen?  Do not be in a hurry, there is nothing more important than representing Jesus Christ, we do this through listening.  Be slow to speak and make sure your response is not coming from hidden hurt.  We must look to God for the Godly counsel that is what is needed in today’s world.  That doesn’t not mean pointing out sin.  As a person comes to Christ, Jesus will lead them out of their sin.  Romans 8:1TPT says…”So now the case is closed.  There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”  We must not give a list of rules to the one searching for it can be a huge stumbling block.  The first step for the one searching is to come to a place of encountering God and asking Jesus into their hearts, confessing He is Lord and asking for forgiveness.  Scripture does not tell us to point out their sin.   
  • Am I approachable?  1 Timothy 1:12-16TPT personalized says “My heart spills over with thanks to God for the way he continually empowers me, and to our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, who found me trustworthy and who authorized me to be his partner in this ministry.  Mercy kissed me, even though I used to be a blasphemer, a persecutor of believers, and a scorner of what turned out to be true.  I was ignorant and didn’t know what I was doing.  I was flooded with such incredible grace, like a river overflowing its banks it is a superabounding grace,  until I was full of faith and love for Jesus, the Anointed One!   I can testify that the Word is true and deserves to be received by all, for Jesus Christ came into the world to bring sinners back to life—even me, the worst sinner of all!   Yet I was captured by grace, so that Jesus Christ could display through me the outpouring of his Spirit, a demonstration of his perfect patience as a pattern to be seen for all those who would believe, in fact they are destined to believe in him for eternal life.”  We must consider, Colossians 4:4-6TPT personalized which instructs us through Paul “And please pray for me, that God will open a door of opportunity for us to preach the revelation of the mystery of Christ, for whose sake I am imprisoned.  Pray that I would unfold and reveal fully this mystery, for that is my delightful assignment. Walk in the wisdom of God as you live before the unbelievers and make it your duty to make him known giving this purpose your all.  Let every word you speak be drenched with grace, compassion and tempered with truth and clarity. For then you will be prepared to give a respectful answer to anyone who asks about your faith.”

Who can you bless today?  With a Word, a gesture or action?  Who is in your peripheral?

Blessings, Sister Laurie

Faithfulness

It has been several days since I have been in my refuge, the room I have in my house where I seek God’s presence, pray and study.  Our home has had family here and the littles brought germs with them, my husband was the first to catch the bug which appeared as a cold, and then I felt the symptoms invading me as well.  I never really got congested but my head felt full.  I found myself just sitting and staring at the TV, unable to get myself inspired to do anything.  My husband will tell you that I am a busy person who always sets out with a plan daily of things to accomplish and yet for the last couple of weeks I just could not get moving.  I will also say that retirement can be challenging, you have more days to do “stuff” less “money” to do them and so you find yourself saying “that can wait.”   A frustrating place to be…my foggy head, lack of motivation and no real deadline to make me move.  And yet there is something is there not?  There is God.  The True force behind the “why” of everything.  I cannot imagine what it would be like to not believe, to not know that I am His child, to live without purpose in the fourth quarter of life.  This is where faithfulness comes in.  And so, in my stupor I will say “Yes God!” I will call upon my Father to help me rise up and get moving…I will remain faithful!

The dictionary defines faithfulness as the concept of unfailingly remaining loyal to someone or something and putting that loyalty into consistent practice regardless of extenuating circumstances. Faithfulness is adhesion, allegiance, attachment, commitment, constancy, dedication, devotedness, devotion.  Faithfulness comes from a place of trust and loyalty.  The Bible says in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is a confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  Faithfulness requires us to submit our ways to God, it means that even when are physical body is failing us we keep saying “Yes God.”   Even when something we hoped for, someone we thought would extend an invitation, an opportunity dissipates into thin air we continue to say, “Yes God”. 

I receive a newsletter from the Assemblies of God quarterly and in the fall issue an article about faithfulness caught my eye, it’s simple truth lead me to share these thoughts with you and so I extend a thank to Donna Barrett, author.  It spoke to me right in the midst of my funk (for lack of a better word), encouraged me to stay the course, do my best and give God all the praise.

King Saul had it all, selected by God when the Israelites asked for a leader.  Set up as King, he had wealth, wisdom, and looks but most of all… he had God on his side.  So, what happened?  Simple put he let the distractions of this world blur his vision, congest his mind.  In a nutshell, he become unfaithful to God.  Scripture says, “So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he committed against the Lord, because of the word of the Lord which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of her, and did not inquire of the Lord. Therefore, He killed him and turned the kingdom over to David, the son of Jesse.”  1 Chronicles 10:13-14NASB 

Every person in the Bible, every situation is placed there with purpose by God, to warn us, to teach us how to navigate life on planet earth.  With that being said, Saul is given to us as an example of what can happen when we take our eyes off God and put our faith in things of this world.  King Saul made three mistakes.  Let us look at each of these and see if you and I are vulnerable as well.  

  1. DO NOT Look to the World for Guidance

Saul stopped seeking God for guidance, consulting a medium instead. In today’s world you and I do this when we let popular opinion guide us.  On social media we look to see how many “likes” we get to affirm a thought or decision.  Any information source you seek before or more than God is just a modern-day medium.  God’s Word is the ultimate guide, the internet provides a multitude of information that can be spun, miss quoted, and edited to sway our decision in the wrong direction.  I know I find myself saying “let me google that to see what is said concerning that”, now please let me say that we my husband and I have consulted the web on home repair, which item might fit our needs best and it can be a wonderful resource.  Even in studying God’s Word, the internet has thousands of amazing articles and other sources for us to build our faith.  You and I need to put God’s Gospel first, more than whatever version of truth is presented to us at the moment.  I find Philippians 4 as a source of comfort and guidance.  His Truth is still the Truth, even if no one believes it.  A lie is still a lie, even if everyone believes it.

  • DO NOT Compare

Saul’s second mistake was comparing himself to others especially to David. 

1 Samuel 18:7-9 tells us, “The women sang as they played, and said, “Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.”  Then Saul became very angry, for this lyric [b]displeased him; and he said, “They have given David credit for ten thousands, but to me they have given credit for only thousands! Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 And Saul eyed David with suspicion from that day on.”

This song of celebrated victory caused Saul to become jealous of David.  It rendered he unable to escape the comparison trap.  He saw David as a rival instead of acknowledging him as someone Saul had mentor and sharing in the victory.  Embracing the truth that together they were a winning team.   How would this scenario have changed if Saul had recognized his jealousy and brought it before the Lord in repentance?

I used to find myself begrudging other sisters in Christ who knew more scripture, who’s prayers were more elegant than mine, who I thought reached a higher level in their faith than me, friends who’s relationship appeared closer.  But as I have grown as a believer, God has shown me that I have value in Him, my own unique value that He has grown in me.  Even my marriage, in my friendships they are unique and God has taught me not to compare with others.  Comparing ourselves to others in any respect leads to jealousy, losing sight of who you are, or your value in God’s Kingdom.  Once again social media is a trap in this area, it has become today’s tool for unfair comparison.  Unfair comparison and jealousy feed off one another and result in a never-ending vicious cycle.   The way out is to be faithful to God with who you are and what He has given you.  DO NOT let the enemy lure you into the comparison trap.

  • Be Honest with Yourself

The worst kind of deception is self-deception.  Saul began lying to himself, believing those lies and then lying to those around him.  The lying thought in your mind is a prelude to sin in action.  In 1 Samuel 13:7-14, we find Saul disregarding God’s instruction to wait for Samuel…we see Samuel confront Saul as to why he did not wait for him as instructed.  Here comes the excuses.  When Saul disobeyed God and kept some of the plunder, he justified his actions as recorded in 1 Samuel 15:7-15.  This pattern of excuse-making starts  with self-deception.  An excuse is nothing more than a lie wrapped up in rationalization.  Who we are and what we do are connected, it might be said that our action verifies our character.

A person’s character is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as, “Your character is your personality, especially how reliable and honest you are. If someone is of good character, they are reliable and honest. If they are of bad character, they are unreliable and dishonest.” Even the world identifies that we are subject within our character to good and evil.   The sinful nature you and I were born with is found within our character.  However, there is good news in that God has given you and I a spirit within us, along with the Holy Spirit to overcome the sinful nature “bad character” within us.  As we look to God remain faithful to His Word our character is refined into the image of Jesus Christ as spoke of in scripture.  This is lifelong process well worth all our effort.  The apostle Paul reminds us that there is a constant conflict, a battle within us that must be surrendered to God. He tells us in Romans 7 that this struggle is real and that it continues even though Paul himself  teaches and speaks God’s Truth at every opportunity.  For me this is an inspiration to not give in or give up. 

In closing, Saul allow his character to be compromised by putting is faith in the world’s view instead of God’s.  Once he took his eyes off God, sadly Saul began making decisions based in the world and self-deception, he became lost to God’s Truth and suffered eternal consequences.

“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught.  You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.  You have been taught the holy Scriptures for some time now, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.  Cling to this truth, All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.  It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.  I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when He comes to set up His Kingdom:  Preach the Word of God through what you speak and in action. It must be your lifestyle to represent His Truth daily no matter the circumstance you find yourself in.   Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not.  Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching.  In fact, it is now upon us.  They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.   They will reject the truth and chase after myths.  But you should keep a clear mind in every situation.  Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord.  Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.”  2 Timothy 3:14-4:5NLT personalized

Blessings, Sister Laurie

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

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.