Greetings to all of you, my sweet sisters in Jesus Christ. “When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun! All these new things are from God who brought us back to Himself through what Christ Jesus did. And God has given us the privilege of urging everyone to come into His favor and be reconciled to Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 TLB
What an amazing gift we have in Jesus. This gift is beautiful wrapped with paper and ribbons, the paper and ribbons can be thought of as salvation, a guaranteed home with Jesus and our Heavenly Father. The sacrifice Jesus made on the cross confirmed our reservation in eternity when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior.
Today, I want to talk about the contents of the gift. Deuteronomy 11:21TLB gives us a glimpse of what God has for those who believe in Him… it says, “so that as long as there is sky above the earth, you and your children will enjoy the good life awaiting you in the land the Lord has promised you.”
You see this gift is to be used here and now, embraced, pursued, practiced, and welcomed. As you embrace God and walk with Him Psalm 115:14NASB tells us “May the Lord increase you, you and your children.” This increase comes in the form of love, joy, peace, hope, grace, strength, mercy, and so much more. He will meet your needs and restore what the Locust has eaten. Now many might speak these scriptures and others spouting material riches however I caution you that while God tells us He will supply all our needs this does not necessarily mean prosperity as the world measures it. I would much rather cultivate and harvest the Fruits of the Spirit along with an intimate relationship with Jesus than financial gain.
Galatians 5:22-23 MSG, “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”
As the contents of the gift unfolds we find Jesus has given us…
“ For as you know him better, He will give you, through His great power, everything you need for living a truly good life: He even shares His own glory and His own goodness with us!” 2 Peter 1:3TLB
“yet now God declares us “not guilty” of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in His kindness freely takes away our sins.” Romans 3:24TLB
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-13NASB “Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
“For because of our faith, He has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be.” Romans 5:2TLB
“who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was granted to us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” 2 Timothy 1:9NASB
“He disciplines us for our own good so that we may share in His Holiness.” Hebrews 12:1NASB
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39NASB
In Closing, I urge you my sisters to step into all God has for you, there are many believers who once they take off the ribbon and paper leave their gift untouched for one reason or another. This gift can only be fully experienced through daily pursuing Jesus with all our body, mind and spirit. Allowing God to refine us…transforming us into the very image of Himself, our Father. Ephesians 2:10AMPC confirms this… “For we are God’s own handiwork, His workmanship, recreated in Christ Jesus, born anew, that we may do those good works which God predestined, planned beforehand for us taking paths which He prepared ahead of time, that we should walk in them living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live.”
Greetings to all of you, my sisters in Jesus Christ. I’m reading a new book, well at least a new book for me entitled, “Blessed Beyond Measure”, by Gloria Copeland. In the first couple of pages, she got me thinking about God’s Word and how every circumstance, every word shows us just how much God loves us and wants absolutely the best for you and I. Gloria’s book speaks to God’s Goodness and how we miss out on receiving all He has for us by our own misunderstanding, wrong thinking and actions. God NEVER withholds, it is us who miss what He is offering. God’s Holy Word clearly tells us the outcome of our obedience to Him and the outcome of disobedience. In His Words God says “Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.” Deuteronomy 11:18-21 MSG God is telling you right here what to do in order to make way for His goodness to be manifested in your life.
Just like God’s children of the Old Testament, it is our life choices, our decisions and actions that put us into captivity. Many believers and non-believers get confused about the sovereignty (supreme power or authority) of God, they find themselves blaming God for the misfortunes, disasters, heartbreaks, sickness…saying this must be a curse put on us by God. The truth is it is our own curse, through man’s sinful nature and the influences of the devil. Now I must make something perfectly clear…illness in most cases is not the result of sin however sinful behavior can weaken our body making it vulnerable to sickness. An example of this would be drug addiction which damages God’s perfectly created body and makes it susceptible to health conditions, often leading to death.
The famous scripture which hangs in many homes today says, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NASB But most people stop right there believing all I have to do is believe and I will live in prosperity. We have a responsibility in receiving the “goodness” God is speaking of…read further, “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will let Myself be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:12-14 NASB
Now let me get to the entrée of what I wanted to share with you, we are sitting at God’s Table, and He wants to serve a full course meal including dessert, I believe one of the best scriptures that describes God’s Goodness is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. I know your thinking that’s the “love” chapter and is not God telling us how to behave? How to love? Well, yes but how much better we can understand if we look at it as a description of God and know with confidence that we being made in His image have the ability within our spirit with the help of the Holy Spirit to demonstrate the same goodness in our lives. We know that God is love and all true love flows from Him into us therefore let us look at these precious words exchanging the word “love” for God to gain a deeper understanding of the depth of God’s goodness. I have personalized these scriptures using several translations.
God is patient, enduring, understanding…God is kind,
God is not suspicious or bitter however He desires for us to keep our eyes on Him some might say He is jealous, but I say protective.
God has no need brag He is sovereign, God is not arrogant, boastful, proud or rude there is no need for there are no other Gods only those manmade with no power and influenced by Satan to distract us. If we look at nature and all of God’s creation we see there is no need for God to boast or demand His own way…He is a gentleman who never forces.
God never acts disgracefully, God does not seek his own benefit; God cannot be provoked, He is not irritable, God does not keep an account, no record of a wrong suffered, God exists in the light never in darkness, no good thing EVER comes from darkness. God is GOOD!
God does not rejoice in unrighteousness or wrongdoing; He never rejoices concerning injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. God’s heart breaks at man’s sinful nature, His Word was meant and remains our personal guide in life to experience God and all He has for us. God’s great sacrifice is the evidence of His love, that He Himself is Love…to suffer and die for each of us upon the cross.
God’s truth bears up under anything and everything that comes, God is always ever ready to believe the best all His children, God’s hopes are fadeless under every circumstance…
God will never fail you…He will never change, fade out or become obsolete…GOD IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY and TOMORROW!
In closing, I will leave you with this final truth. The goodness of God and the glory of God spoken in the Bible are practically synonymous meaning interchangeable, identical, equal or it might be said one in the same. In the Hebrew language the word “glory” means “to be heavy with everything good.” In today’s world and language, we might find words that seem superior to the word “good” such as best, better, or excellent, however, in Hebrew “good” is the superlative word meaning there is no higher word, nothing more grand or descriptive. In other words, the word “good” found in God’s Word speaks of the highest and greatest, everything that is positive and desirable. Ladies that is who God is…God is Good.
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.
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
Greetings to all of you, my sisters in Jesus Christ. Several weeks ago I began praying for a scripture and word from God for this coming year. Some might call this a vision for the coming year and in the past I have written out the vision as God gave it to me. This year it was different, God gave me one scripture and then one word to study on, meditate on and let them motivate me to remain faithful and patience in 2022. To keep moving forward allowing God to be my direction and center.
“For we reach the goal of fulfilling all the commandments when we love others deeply with a pure heart, a clean conscience, and sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5 TPT
This scripture touched me deeply, love and learning to love as God loves us is so key in our life. Many of the struggles you and I have come from our inability to love and forgive as God has directed us.
As you might have guessed the word God gave me is “Grateful”. I believe we just don’t spend enough time expressing our gratitude to God and those around us. The word “grateful” is defined as “feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful; conscious of benefit received, affording pleasure or contentment : PLEASING, pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated.” God’s Word and science tells us that living in an attitude of gratefulness is beneficial to both our spiritual and physical being.
Your ability to be grateful is directly related to the level of joy in your life and how you handle anxiety. It is impossible for both joy and anxiety to be present at the same time within you. The root of anxiety is found in your desire to control…the people you love, your co-workers, your physical environment, career. It is said that control is an illusion, never really attained because you don’t know what is going to happen next. Moreover, your mind is prone to discontentment, wanting what is out of your reach. Over thinking, dwelling upon that next material thing, success, popularity, status that somehow will give you the control you desire. This develops into anxiety which lends itself to chaos, the feeling of being out of control, and so a vicious cycle ensues. Being thankful requires you to relinquish your control.
The Apostle Paul understood this cycle all too well and God gave him the answer to finding the lasting joy we all desire. Philippians 4:6-8TPT says “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.”
I have spent the day researching the how to of living in a grateful state, it is there where the joy and peace of God exists. Not surprisingly, there are many articles both Christian and secular that speak about living in a grateful state. There are two common thoughts; first, it is a decision and secondly, it is important to have people around you how are pursuing this joy as well. We must rid ourselves of the naysayers, and cynics. It is far more enjoyable to spend time with someone who is grateful and positive than it is to be with someone who is negative and self-consumed. Gratefulness frees you from your negativity so that you can be more open in your relationship with God and people. Let me put it very plainly…God is calling us to gather and pray with one another to build one another up not tear down, not dwell, our prayer life must be full of thanksgiving and gratefulness directed at what God has done, is doing and will do. I’m not saying that we should not bring our concerns to God BUT our sincere gratefulness must outweigh the concerns. Gratefulness must be cultivated by being involved in small groups, attending church, serving, praying with others.
I have put together a list of thoughts and scripture for you to embrace in your journey to live gratefully.
Be grateful in every situation, leaning on God…this gratitude positions us in God’s will. God’s will is found in obedience. There are three areas your life you must focus on: (1) living in God’s unrestricted joy, (2) praying continually, and (3) giving thanks to God no matter what happens in your life. These three virtues combine to form the wonderful expression of Christ’s life within us. “Let joy be your continual feast, joyous in every season. Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18TPT
God’s love is the only thing that will last forever. Do you remember before you surrendered to God, you held on to all the hurt, you were unlovable; self-centered, and focusing on pleasing yourself. Now let this sink in…God looked down and loved you, the sacrifice of His Son was for you, Jesus Christ died for you. Right now, give thanks to God because you are loved passionately and without condition. “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!.” 1 Chronicles 16:34AMPC
Be grateful for the abilities God has given you. As His daughter, you have the ability to show your gratefulness to God in action. The way in which you treat those around you, despite their behavior, is the outpouring of your love for God. It is God who gives us the strength to give, serve and work. When you have this attitude, even the most difficult task can be accomplished through your love for God. Simply put when you love God you love people. “Let the word of Christ live and grow in you richly, flooding you with all wisdom. Apply the Scriptures as you teach and instruct one another with the Psalms, and with festive praises, and with prophetic songs given to you spontaneously by the Spirit, so sing to God with all your hearts! Let every activity, commitment of your lives and every word, promise, oath that comes from your lips be drenched with the beauty of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. And bring your constant praise to God the Father because of what Christ has done for you!” Colossians 3:16-17 TPT
Be grateful for God’s deliverance. Without God you would be hopelessly lost. Only through the power of Jesus Christ, you are given the strength to rise above your sinful nature and overcome the desires of the flesh. You may have been saved while still snared by the lies of Satan, held captive. BUT through the Holy Spirit, you now have been set free. YES God! “My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up in you the power of endurance. And then as your endurance grows even stronger, it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.” James 1:2-4TPT
Be grateful for God’s miraculous hand over your life. Always be thankful, giving God the glory and make sure that others know that this freedom you now have comes from God alone. There is no such thing as coincidence or luck, only by the hand of God and His intention for your life may you perceive how God is working things out for good in your life. So, with boldness declare God’s goodness daily. “I will worship you, Yahweh, with extended hands as my whole heart erupts with praise! I will tell everyone everywhere about your wonderful works!” Psalm 9:1TPT
Let your praise of gratefulness be in every prayer. Even before you see the answer…give God your praise. Thank Him just for listening, your attitude of gratefulness ushers a spirit of expectancy in our prayers. “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.” Philippians 4:6-7TPT
The good things in your life are ALL because of God. Make sure you thank God continually in all things big and small. This is your mission to speak with love, spread the Truth of God. “Everyone come meet His face with a thankful heart. Don’t hold back your praises; make Him great by your shouts of joy! For the Lord is the greatest of all, King-God over all other gods!” Psalm 95:2-3 “Then my song will be a burst of praise to You. My glory-shouts will make Your fame even more glorious to all who hear my praises!” Psalm 69:30TPT “God always makes His grace visible in Christ, who includes us as partners of His endless triumph. Through our yielded lives He spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere we go.” 2 Corinthians 2:14TPT
Gratitude helps you see God. Gratitude glorifies God not for the gifts you have received but the Truth of who He is, Today, give all your praise to the Giver! Gratitude helps you realize all you have comes not because of you, but from God. Gratitude helps you enter into His presence, feel His personal care and experience His prefect timing. Dear sister, be careful to not be fooled or turn to sin to get what you want. “So, my friends, don’t be fooled by your own desires! Every gift or legacy God freely gives us is complete, wholesome, abundant, sufficient, enough, and perfect, streaming down from the Father of lights, who shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness and is never subject to change.” James 1:16-17TPT
Find contentment in Gratitude, let it deepen your faith. If you are not satisfied with what God has given you, more will not satisfy you either. Being thankful is the key to contentment. Keep a record of God’s past faithfulness and look back and reflect when a new challenge comes. Remember where you came from and who you are now as God’s child. Re-evangelize yourself by sharing what God has done and how you are now free. This will deepen your faith and lead you to the joy you are seeking. “We have a “profit” that is greater than theirs—our holy awe of God! To have merely our necessities is to have enough. Isn’t it true that our hands were empty when we came into the world, and when we leave this world our hands will be empty again? Because of this, food and clothing is enough to make us content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8TPT “Let everyone thank God, for He is good, and He is easy to please! His tender love for us continues on forever!” Psalm 136:1TPT “It was like a dream come true when You freed us from our bondage and brought us back to Zion! We laughed and laughed and overflowed with gladness. We were left shouting for joy and singing Your praise. All the nations saw it and joined in, saying, “The Lord has done great miracles for them!” Yes, He did mighty miracles, and we are overjoyed!” Psalm 126:1-3TPT
Gratitude confronts Satan’s lies. This is my warning to you against evil. There are many scriptures that will testify of Satan’s plan to kill, steal and destroy you. He is jealous, he hates us and is a great deceiver. However, true gratitude for God and the abundance God gives protects us from falling victim to the enemy’s lies. Gratitude helps us live in the present and guards against envy. It is impossible to be thankful and jealous at the same time. Do not romance your past, your memory is distorted by evil. “For the Lord God is brighter than the brilliance of a sunrise! Wrapping Himself around me like a shield, He is so generous with his gifts of grace and glory. Those who walk along His paths with integrity will never lack one thing they need, for He provides it all!.” Psalm 84:11TPT “Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.” Ecclesiastes 7:10AMP “I thank you, Lord, and with all the passion of my heart, I worship You in the presence of angels! Heaven’s mighty ones will hear my voice as I sing my loving praise to You.” Psalm 138:1TPT
This writing has been long, I pray it ministers to you and sets you on a course to join me this year in being grateful for all God has done and continues to do in your life and mine as well. I leave you with this last Word of Truth…Gratitude is your testimony! Gratefulness, thanksgiving creates a fire in your spirit that burns bright and hot giving you and I the confidence to tell others.
“Go ahead and give God thanks for all the glorious things He has done! Go ahead and worship Him! Tell everyone about His wonders!” Psalm 105:1TPT
Sister Laurie JesusTruth 1/4/2022
If you would like to personally write to me, I welcome you to do so. I would love to share what God is speaking to me and pray for you, pour into you so that you may grow your relationship with our loving Savior Jesus Christ. It is in the sharing and studying of God’s Word that we find the freedom only God, our Forever Father can bring.
Blessings, Sister Laurie
I want to acknowledge those that helped in my search for a deepen understanding of what it means to give God our Gratitude. Real Joy by Pastor Akshay Rajkumar the lead Pastor of Redeemer Church in New Delphi, India. It is available on RightNow Media.com 15 Thankful Bible Verses to Remind You the Power of Prayer, by Sophia Caraballo, 11/24/2019 Top 7 Bible Verses About being Grateful, by Crystal McDowell
Our life compass is our heart. It is divided into three parts, our minds (where our ideas, and desires live), our emotions/feelings (they react on what your mind is thinking), will (this is where we put into motion what the mind desires and how it feels). It tells us who we are and dictates what we believe and how we live. It can be void of self-control therefore it is in our life compass that we set a course in the direction of what we want and what we desire. Without Christ it is like a runaway train with an engine out of control.
The Bible says “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NASB It might be said “it is said our hearts are the wellspring of our lives and is driven by what we desire, it from there your life finds direction.” The truth is we are creatures of desire and what we desire rules our life.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:21AMP, “for where your treasure is, there your heart…your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers will also be.” The power of the heart leads us into how we will live.
Unfortunately, you and I believe that right thinking will lead to healthy living, so we pursue our quest searching for the right technology, the right diet, the right practices even the right doctrine but the problem is when we try we are unsuccessful. Everything in the world today is telling us get all the world has to offer, it says the key to fulfilling your desires can be found at the touch of your figure on Amazon, YouTube…
The real problem is we do not know how to love…we love the wrong things, or we love the right things wrong. Our right love happens disproportionately, God clearly tells us Kingdom First, love Him first.
Matthew 6:33NASB , “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.”
“And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37NASB
WE MUST DESIRE HIS KINGDOM, HIS LOVE AND HIS WILL ABOVE ALL ELSE!
We have access to the best Christian life and yet we set our thinking on what we do not have, our hurt, frustration, the lack of and so we find our focus inward. We sooth our condition with things of the world instead of allowing God to comfort us.
In the movie, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, Harry Potter finds a magical mirror, this mirror shows you what your deepest desire is…Harry stands before the mirror and he see his Mother and Father who are dead, his entire family is dead. You see, Harry was an orphan, and he has had a dreadful life, rejected and unloved. He has a deep desire to belong, to be loved in a family. Ron, his friend now looks in the mirror, He see a champion at school leading the Quidditch (I had to look the spelling up)Team to victory. Ron the youngest in his family felt invisible, like a loser, he wants to be a winner. The reality is both Harry and Ron are looking to belong, to be loved, to be valued.
Now, I ask you if you could see in the mirror what would you see? What is it that you want more than anything else? This is an important question…what you want is what you love and what you love is what you really worship. What you worship speaks to what you desire. What you worship is what is defining you right now!
Let us look at Paul’s life for it is there we find the answer to the struggle. God knew we would grapple in the same way and so He had Paul record through inspired Word Pauls’ witness. Paul struggled with this we see it when Paul says…”“I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” Romans 7:13-25
Later Paul writes to the church at Philippi these amazing words for us to embrace with all our spirit and heart…” Yet all of the accomplishments that I once took credit for, I’ve now forsaken them and I regard it all as nothing compared to the delight of experiencing Jesus Christ as my Lord! To truly know him meant letting go of everything from my past and throwing all my boasting on the garbage heap. It’s all like a pile of manure to me now, so that I may be enriched in the reality of knowing Jesus Christ and embrace him as Lord in all of his greatness. My passion is to be consumed with him and not cling to my own “righteousness” based in keeping the written Law. My only “righteousness” will be his, based on the faithfulness of Jesus Christ—the very righteousness that comes from God. And I continually long to know the wonders of Jesus and to experience the overflowing power of his resurrection working in me. I will be one with him in his sufferings and become like him in his death. Only then will I be able to experience complete oneness with him in his resurrection from the realm of death..” Philippians 3:7-11TPT
YES GOD!, This is what I hunger after, So let you and I put ALL our desire into knowing Jesus Christ!
One last thought this revelation Paul has had came from God lips to us as well and so…Let us keep moving forward! “I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose for which Christ Jesus laid hold of me to make me his own. I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this; however, I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead. I run straight for the divine invitation of reaching the heavenly goal and gaining the victory-prize through the anointing of Jesus. So let all who are fully mature have this same passion, and if anyone is not yet gripped by these desires, God will reveal it to them. And let us all advance together to reach this victory-prize, following one path with one passion. My beloved friends, imitate my walk with God and follow all those who walk according to the way of life we modeled before you. Philippians 3:12-17TPT
Heavenly Father, Help these women reach for you God, let them humble themselves before your throne and offer repentance for any sin that stand between You and them. God help them rise in their desire for you and gasp hold of everything you have for them. For who can defeat us, hold us back God when we have Your Son, the Great Advocate, King Jesus fighting for us. In your Holy Name Jesus! AMEN!
Dear sisters, “May Yahweh give you every desire of your heart and carry out your every plan as you go to battle.” Psalm 20:4TPT
Blessings and Merry Christmas! Sister Laurie
This writing came to me after watching a teaching on Real Desire by Pastor Akshay Rajkumar the lead Pastor of Redeemer Church in New Delphi, India. It is available on RightNow Media.com
Greetings to all my sisters in Jesus Christ! As promised this is Part 2 of defeating strongholds and more.
Pastor Steve Berger put a clear perspective on who we are in God’s Kingdom, “A Christian’s identity as a sinner is a “before Christ” identity. A believer is a saint who sins, not a sinner who sometimes “saints”. Therefore, we cannot as believers let shame and condemnation have any foothold within us. Those are “before Christ” conditions with their roots in Satan; they have no standing in our position as daughters of the Most High King.
Once again before we begin I feel the need to pray as we embrace God’s Truth that the devil has no power over us…
Father, we come before You asking for all scales to be removed from us that would hinder our ability to receive Your Truth, Your Word and to walk in Your Ways. God, we proclaim Your Goodness and Mercy and ask now that You would instruct us in Your Truth which will destroy the enemies lies. Holy Spirit come and fill us with the courage and strength to discern darkness and cast it out! We speak now to any spirit of chaos or confusion and cast it out in the name of Jesus…we bind any manner of oppression right now in the name of Jesus…therefore we now fully receive all God has for us through His Word and the instruct of others who speak clearly of Your Truth God. AMEN
Part of our fight against the darkness happens within our churches and amongst our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as with our ministry leadership. I want to address the thought pattern that takes hold, the enemy knows if he can get us to dishonor our brothers and sisters as well as our leadership, by twisting the perception of their motives in our hearts, then he has blocked our ability to break strongholds and defeat the strongman. In other words, we cannot be delivered from what is holding us captive.
The stronghold will manifest by speaking untruth in a number of ways, here are a few; Pride (you know better than the one giving Godly counsel); Offense (something a Godly believer did or says offends you or hurts you); dishonor (you hear and believe that the pastor or believer is all about money or raising themselves above this is an effort to discredit or “dishonor” that person); Justification (you seek out the yes man among your peers, looking for someone who will agree with your wrong thinking). When the enemy does this you and I are unable to receive God’s Truth through these men and women of God. Our deliverance from any existing stronghold is delayed or even becomes greater.
If your stronghold can stir you up in anyway, it has just stopped you from your source of freedom. And if you say, “Jesus is my source” and do not seek help from your sisters in Christ then he has gained ground by isolating you and that in itself becomes a stronghold. Spirit filled believers are the embodiment of your Savior, we need one another to defeat the darkness. Godly instruction, worship, and prayer for and by others are part of the process of freedom, this process also extends outside of ourselves and generously gives forward.
Who is this strongman?
Kimberly Synder, founder of Royal Girlz Ministry gives us some details about the strongman, “A strongman spirit is a high-ranking principality spirit. They sit on thrones in the spirit realm and rule over the evil demonic spirits that operate in the earth realm. These spirits can rule over certain geographical areas of the earth. Strongman spirits can operate in churches as a ruling spirit. They can be passed down through family generations and also dwell within an individual. These forces block our prayers, our deliverance and our freedom.”
Ephesians 6:1NKJV says “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
In Matthew 12:28-29NJKV Jesus gives us some details of who the strongman is and how we must destroy his efforts. “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.”
Furthermore, Kimberly gives us more details and the method by which he can be overcome, “God’s Word tells us that when the strongman Satan is fully armed and guards his palace, his possessions are safe until someone even stronger attacks and overpowers him, strips him of his weapons, and carries off his belongings. We are the stronger, we have been given authority from Jesus to go into the enemy’s camp and bind him up and take away his goods. These goods include our marriages, our children, our businesses, our churches, and most important lost souls. Anything that the devil has stolen from us is ours to go in and take back. The Bible says that the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it ( Matthew 11:12). We have been given the strength and weapons to advance upon the enemy and take back the goods under the protection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus has given us the keys to bind and loose. Whatever we bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever we loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. We bind them from operating while we loose the gifts of Holy Spirit to come in and take over. We loose the gifts and workings of Holy Spirit to set captives free, bring light into darkness, remove the chains that have us bound and to proclaim freedom (Matthew 18:18).”
Let’s continue to look at ways we give evil spirits an opportunity to establish footholds and/or strongholds in our lives…there are numerous areas of sin through which the enemy gains ground in our lives so that he can bully and oppress.
Generational Sin: We can and are influenced by the idolatrous sins of past generations. Exodus 20:4-6 tells us, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, inflicting the punishment of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing favor to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” When our ancestors set things of this world above their love of God the cycle of generational sin began. We learn from what has been modeled before us, we live in ways that our parents taught us, with each generation this darkness grows and consumes. Some easily seen examples are addiction, divorce, child abuse, and sexual sin. However, there are subtle sins that make our relationship with God and our power to defeat Satan difficult. We grow up watching our elders even believers…gossip, lie, and hate. Selfishness is a tool of the devil, and we are spoiled into thinking about self and rising our pleasure and comfort above God. What will I get if I….reward becomes more important than obedience. These all fall under idolatrous sin.
Rebellion: Rebellion is failing to submit to the authority of God and to the authorities that He has placed over us in our earthly lives. In the first half of 1 Samuel 15:23NLT we see, “Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.” Saul had been given clear instruction to destroy everything in the battle against the nation of Amalek, the instruction was very clear and yet Saul decided he knew better. In his rebellion and stubbornness, he kept back some of the livestock for sacrifice. This simple seemingly “good” disobedience caused Saul to lose God’s favor. The Word gives us specific information about those to whom we are to submit…those not to rebel against.
Pride: When we elevate ourselves above others, behave arrogantly or harbor prideful attitudes, we are emulating Satan rather
than being who we have been created to reflect, the image of God. Satan was removed from God’s presence and cast down
because of his pride. God gives us all the strength we need to stand against such evil desires. James 4:6-8TPT personalized says,
“But He continues to pour out more and more grace upon us. For it says, “God resists you when you are proud but continually pours
Out grace which is the greater gift when you are humble.” So then, surrender to God. Stand up to the devil and resist him and he
will flee in agony because of the One who stands with you. Move your heart closer and closer to God, and so close He
will be touching you. But make sure you cleanse your life, you sinners, and keep your heart pure and stop doubting.”
Habitual Sin: The repeated habitual practice of a specific sin can lead to bondage to “the god of this age.” Ephesians 4:26-27 gives a clear example of habitual sin, “unforgiveness” left to fester it gives the devil a foothold leading to greater sin. This is the nature of sin…rebellion against God and this rebellion is the root is who Satan is. He was the first to rebel and he continues this today by influencing and deceiving God’s people. Addictions are all forms of habitual sin as well as being a habitual gossip, liar or thief. Habitual sin opens the door to be demonized (demonization) meaning that there is some measure of inner, at least partial, direct influence (or control) being exercised by the demonic realm. Wherever sin exists, the demonic realm also exists and is at work to negatively influence believers. This is done in an effort by the demonic realm to limit or negate the powerful effects of the person’s gifts and faith in Christ.
Deception: Jesus described Satan as a liar and the father of lies. In John 8, Jesus is speaking to some Jewish leaders he tells them their hearts are closed to God’s truth he then tells them “You are the offspring of your father, the devil, and you serve your father very well, passionately carrying out his desires. He’s been a murderer right from the start! He never stood with the truth, for he’s full of nothing but lies—lying is his native tongue. He is a master of deception and the father of lies!”
Paul also warned Timothy of deceiving spirits using men for the purpose of seducing them away from the truth, “The Holy Spirit has explicitly revealed: At the end of this age, many will depart from the true faith one after another, devoting themselves to spirits of deception and following demon-inspired revelations and theories. Hypocritical liars will deceive many, and their consciences won’t bother them at all!” 1 Timothy 4:1-2TPT
We can be easily deceived by cultural messages, behaviors and customs into false beliefs. We can also deceive ourselves, “So why fool yourself and live under an illusion? Make no mistake about it, if anyone thinks he is wise by the world’s standards, he will be made wiser by being a fool for God!” 1 Corinthians 3:18TPT
Clearly God is warning us about being self-deceived. Having a teachable heart and learning wisdom from above is the best way to guard from self-deception. Romans 12:1-2 speaks clearly that we are not to conform to this world but to renew ourselves in God’s truth continually. Often it is difficult to reveal the source of our wrong thinking, the lie but we know without a doubt that Satan is the father of lies.
The good news is…THE GRACE OF GOD CAN CHANGE ANY PATTERN WITH DIVINE POWER!
Here are the Symptoms of Oppression which indicate a stronghold, keep an eye out for them in yourself and others, be quick to rebuke and seek help from those you hold as spiritual warriors in God’s Kingdom.
Disinterest in or inability to read Scripture, comprehend the teaching of the Word, or participate in worship and prayer
Possession of items used in Pagan, New Age, Eastern, or Native American worship rituals or in Freemasonry ceremonies, these must be destroyed, thrown away.
Fearful, bizarre dreams and/or night experiences related to sexual perversion, occultic symbolism, or violence, evil presences, visitations, or impressions of demonic face
Conscious invitation extended to Satan and/or demons to become involved in one’s life
Systematic patterns of personal sinfulness, i.e., lying, dishonesty, and resentment toward others; sexual acting out; and racial hatred
Personality disturbance, i.e., paranoia, vengefulness, abuse of others (physical, emotional, sexual, or spiritual), self-mutilation, suicide attempts, depression, rebellion, and bizarre, violent, blasphemous thoughts
Addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, work, food, exercise, internet, or television
Experiencing no relief from medical treatments (including prescribed drugs), personal prayer, or psychological counseling
A family history of demonic influence coming from witchcraft or satanic worship; Native American, New Age, or Eastern religious practices; Freemasonry
Sweet sisters, I know this writing has been difficult for some of you. BUT we have a Savior and a Father God who loves us and gives us HOPE in every situation. Stand on this truth…” So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that His love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken His love.” Romans 8:38TPT
If we are going to tear down strongholds through the Word of God’s Truth (John 17:17), then you need to know what God is saying about you and how he sees you. The Bible tells us that God does not see or think about us like our parents, friends, and others see or think about us. 1 Samuel 16:7NASB “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Since this is the case, we therefore should not see ourselves through the subjective thoughts of man (how are parents see us as well as how our friends, co-workers, and people we come in contact with see us.)
Many people are living their lives base on how people see them or who people say they are. People will not always know your worth; you need to know your worth. Your true identity is found in God who created you for His purpose alone. Your parents may be the one who gave birth to you and brought you up, but you did not come from your parents, you came from God, your parents are just vessels God used to bring you into the world. Remember “I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:14
Closing Prayer for you…
Heavenly Father, let these words Your Words sink deep within my sisters, root out and expose anything that is not of you. Renew their mind and clean up their hearts, give discernment to their spirit, Holy Spirit speak to their spirit and strengthen them. Father I proclaim this truth…”For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Remove any spirit of fear or doubt within them let them know and experience supernaturally their value in Your Kingdom, let them walk in Your peace, make them battle ready warriors to help others to reveal and destroy any darkness. In Jesus’ name…AMEN
Blessings, Sister Laurie
Thank you to the following amazing men and women of God for their insight and inspiration.
Pastor Steve Berger, “Winning the Mind Wars, Tearing Down Strongholds Through Prayer”, Grace Chapel, Franklin TN
Pastor Gary Costella, Awesome Church, Sydney Australia
Greetings to all my sisters in Jesus Christ! This is a week to take time to be thankful for the love we have from the Father and the position we hold in His Kingdom as Daughters of the Most High King! Hallelujah! Lift your hands and praise Him, the one who give us life through His Son Jesus!
A beautiful sister in Jesus asked me to answer an important question a couple weeks ago, I felt in my heart I knew the answer, but I decided to do some research as well. That being said… these words are not all my own, but they do reflect what I believe God would have me share on the subject of Footholds and Strongholds.
I want to open up with a prayer for revelation not only for myself but for all of you who are receiving this word. I believe that we are all vulnerable to not only demonic oppression but also possession throughout our earthly life…believer and non-believer alike. Pray with me now…
“Heavenly Father, as we look to Your Word for answers, gather understanding from other godly believers, I pray that You God would give us the battle-ready armor and weapons upon which we wear to fight against the enemies attempts to distract and destroy Your chosen children. God give each one of us a hunger and thirst for only You God. We thank You God for how far You have brought us and now we look to go deeper in knowing You intimately and for You God to train us to use the weapons of spiritual warfare that You have provided for us. Reveal to us the strongholds in our lives and give us the courage to fight and demolish anything within us that is not of You! Thank You God for the men and women of God who have brought insight, bless them, and thank You God for Your written Word which fills us with hope and power to defeat the evil! AMEN!”
Let us begin by defining…Footholds and Strongholds.
Pastor Steve Berger defines strongholds as “A satanic lie, A generational mindset or a human wounding that you have listened to long enough, believed strongly enough and owned deeply enough that it has become part of your identity. It has fortified itself in you and dictates your thought, beliefs, actions, and reactions. It is an unholy filter through which all thoughts pass.” Strongholds can include feelings of shame, condemnation, unforgiveness, rejection, depression, addiction, pride, unbelief, anger, and defeat. This stronghold or firm grip on our mind, spirit, body, or heart will enslave you and I…motivating us to act out against God’s will through repeated sinful behavior.
Footholds are similar, however to me they might be considered a steppingstone before a stronghold is established or a foothold that feeds an existing stronghold. A foothold starts out as a lie that we believe to be truth, we haven’t tested it against what God says and so we let it fester which lead us into unrepentant sin. As the unchecked lie gains momentum in our life and we began making decisions based on the lie…Satan gains ground in our lives and soon that seemingly small untruth has become a stronghold making it harder to hear the voice of your Forever Father God. Your ability to see yourself and those around you through God’s eyes grows dim.
Ultimately, the false belief is so deeply entrenched in your thinking that Satan can safely operate your life as if he were protected within the walls of a strong fortress. You see, you will defend the sin, the thought, the lie by making excuses, walking in the shadow, and isolating yourself. All Footholds and Stronghold have their beginning in our mind, just as all sin begins with a thought.
Satan and evil spirits know that if they can establish a stronghold in your mind they can control your mind. Once they have control of your mind they can control all of you in other words when Satan has a hold of your mind, he blinds you to the truth. Unfortunately, unbeliever or someone who has not been Born Again has their mind already held captive by Satan. This is where physical manifestations occur including illness, sickness, self-destruction, and addictions.
There is good news coming…we overcome the devil’s schemes when we understand how he oppresses us and how we must defeat him. Paul tells us clearly one of the more common ways Satan gains a foothold, Ephesians 4:26-27MSG he warns, “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”
In this writing I will address two of the more common strongholds…Bitterness and Fear.
BITTERNESS: (long-held unforgiveness) is defined as “multilayered emotion that has been described as a mixture of disappointment, disgust, anger, and fear. Bitterness can be aroused in the face of insult, injury or trauma. If not quickly dealt with bitterness grows into hate, leading to hostile actions.” In the Bible bitterness is referred to as a posion, pungent, an acid which destroys.
Let us look at an example of how bitterness manifests into hate. When you are offended or emotionally wounded, becoming angry or embittered, you may think things such as:
If I forgive the person who offended me, he/she will just hurt me again.
By holding onto my anger, I can punish the one who offended me.
The offense is so egregious i.e., traumatic, physical and or mentally appalling, I cannot forgive.
There is no truth in any of these thinking patterns. Wrong thinking leads to wrong behavior which is sinful disobedience of God’s instruction and in direct conflict of Christ’s sacrifice. Through unwillingness to forgive, the devil gains a foothold which quickly seeks out and builds upon other offenses or trauma you may have built a stronghold around. The walls of the stronghold harbor the lies, the justification and wrong thinking or behavior.
Only through complete forgiveness can we destroy the stronghold of bitterness and hate. The forgiveness required is not for one who hurt or offended you, it is so that no stronghold of bitterness can be formed within you. No matter how traumatic the incident, the abuse, verbal or physical we must go before our Lord and forgive them. God tells us he will take care of our transgressors. God gives us an amazing example of forgiveness found in Acts 7, Stephen had been speaking to a group of high priests, sharing the gospel using the history of the saints found in the Old Testament to bring the truth of Jesus Christ to them. We find in verses 57-60 they turned on him, drove him from the city where they stoned him to death. Verse 60 says it all, “Then he fell on his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.” Forgiveness is not a choice, it is an absolute, Jesus died for us allowing us to be forgiven, therefore, we MUST forgive.
Hanging on the bitterness is self-destructive and poisons the soul (the place where our mind, will and emotions exist).
Hebrews 12:15 says “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”
Ephesians 4:30-32 tells us, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
1 Corinthians 13:5 reminds us that if we say we love God we must also love people and with that we “do not keep an account of a wrong suffered.”
FEAR: is defined in the dictionary as, “an unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined.” While this may hold some truth…the true definition of fear is “the absence of faith.” The absence of faith is nothing more than the absence of God’s Word, lack of an intimate relationship with God which is grounded in truth and trust, simple stated fear is nothing more that ignorance or laziness to find out what God’s Word says and walk in the fullness of who you are in Christ.
Romans 1:19-20TPT says “In reality, the truth of God is known instinctively, for God has embedded this knowledge inside every human heart. Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance, because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities of God’s nature have been made visible, such as his eternal power and transcendence. He has made his wonderful attributes easily perceived, for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible. So then, this leaves everyone without
Jesus confronts the disciples when they were crossing the sea and “a great windstorm arose and the waves beat against the boat”, read Mark 4:35-40. The disciples quickly cried out saying “do you not care we are perishing?” Jesus’ responds with three questions:
Why are you fearful?
How is it that you have no faith?
Where is your faith?
Anyone with a stronghold of fear MUST ask these same questions, the answers will reveal the source of the stronghold and how it was established. It is then that you can begin to take down the mental fortress of fear.
Let us look closer at the three questions.
Why are you fearful? What is the reason for your fear, and does it have any rational truth to it? Most fear is nothing more than unintelligent or foolish reaction to something that may not even exist. If you do fear something you must ask yourself “Have I elevated this fear above God’s Word?”
How is it that you have no faith? Jesus is rebuking the disciples, you and I included. When you read it in the Greek it screams of sarcasm. He is saying to us…Do you believe my Words?
Where is your faith? Mic Drop! Here is the heart of the issue…what are you trusting in? If your confidence and trust is not in God’s Word then anything else is sure to disappoint you at some point. God NEVER disappoints, it is our skewed perspective, God tells us over and over He will never leave us or forsaken us.
Fear when left to grow within us causing us to isolate ourselves, become increasingly unable to be around other people, some suffer with not being able to leave their home or even room. This is mental imprisonment fueled by the enemie’s lies now believed and lifted higher than the truth of Jesus Christ and God’s Word.
In a separate writing I will speak of the manifestation of fear deeper. Here are examples where fear brought great difficult to God’s people.
Isaiah 36 is the account of King Hezekiah and his people being held captive by the lies spoken by the king of Assyria (Satan) this siege went on for 4 years, only God’s Truth could set them free.
Exodus 3 Moses was afraid when God told him to leave his humble profession of shepherding to confront Pharaoh to release the Israelites.
Numbers 13 The ten leaders Moses sent to scout the Promised Land were afraid of the giants they saw and that led to another 40 years of wandering in the desert.
Jonah 1 Jonah was a prophet sent by God to preach to the people of Nineveh but was afraid of the command. As such, he was swallowed by a big fish when running away and stayed there for three days and three nights.
Bitterness and fear permit the devil to infiltrate our mind, these footholds and strongholds rob us of the peace and joy God has for us, it keeps us at arm’s length of the intimate relationship God desires to have with you and me. There are the other ways in which evil spirits gain access to our lives making us vulnerable to demonic attack in part two I will address how deception, rebellion, pride, habitual sin, generational sin and the occult (false religions) are a gateway to strongholds.
The door for spiritual attack in our life is opened by sins we commit as well as the sins committed against us. There are numerous articles and books on the subject of “spiritual warfare” they reveal that there are several areas of sin through which the enemy finds entrance into our lives, so that he can as scriptures says, “A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy.” John 10:10TPT
However, the verse does not end there so right now claim this as a refreshing truth in your life “But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow!” Let that sink in!
We have all we need to defeat any evil spirits and destroy any stronghold within us. Once we embrace this truth, we must go to the scriptures for freedom.
My life scriptures are those which bring the breaking of strongholds, so I will start with those and in Part Two I will bring more weapons and ways of dealing not only footholds and strongholds but defeating the strongman as well.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6NKJV personalized “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare (God’s Word, Prayer, Deliverance, Worship and Confession) are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments (lies, deception, opinions, theories, and philosophies) and every high thing (material possession, status, position, behavior) that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”
For me I give special attention to 2 Corinthians 10:5, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Now this is an important stage it will require you to be disciplined in taking captive wrong thinking, the infiltrated thoughts by the enemy before they escalate and take hold.
That same scripture in The Passion Translation puts it like this “We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and breakthrough every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One.”
Once we identify the thought be it cloaked in bitterness or fear, we know there is an evil spirit behind it. There is a two-step process…
First, we rebuke it out loud… you have the authority through Jesus Christ, Matthew 10:1 NKJV says “He gave them (you and I) power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. When addressing evil spirits or the devil we must speak it out loud, he cannot read our minds or spirit, he can only suggest to our mind.
Secondly, we now take control over your emotions if they are engaged, maybe even your physical body and tell them to be still. We shift our focus. Paul wrote the following scripture while in prison, he knew the battle in his mind needed to be obedient to God’s truth and not his physical environment. Philippians 4:8 tells us to give our attention to whatever is…
True: Truth combats lies, it gives us and keeps us free.
Noble: Honorable, honest, moral
Just: Innocent, holy
Pure: Modest, chaste, humble
Lovely: Friendly, welcoming, and accepting
Of Good Report: Reputable, well spoken, trustworthy
Virtuous: Excellence, valiant, right with God
Praiseworthy: Commendable, holy, and good
This is what Jesus did that night in the boat…He identified the wind or spirit behind it (the evil spirit attempting to prevent them from crossing the sea)and rebuked it (cast out). Then He spoke to the physical conditions wind and waves saying “Hush, be still.” Immediately the sea was calm, and the wind/spirit left.
In closing, I pray I have not given you more questions but answers!
Here is a basic prayer to get you started in defeating footholds and strongholds, speak to God without reservation, repent quickly and ask Him to restore you.
Father God, instruct the Holy Spirit who is regarded as the Spirit of Truth to reveal and guide me in all truth. I submit myself to You and ask that you would look deep within me and reveal any area of my life in which I have made vulnerable to demonic attack. (John 16:13) It is the desire of my heart to recognize and destroy footholds and strongholds that evil spirits may have established in order to influence my thoughts and actions. Once revealed help me to stand on Your Word, to use every spiritual weapon and destroy anything that would separate me from you God. God I give you all praise and glory and am thankful for all you have done in my life and continue to do. AMEN (Psalm 21:2, Ephesians 4:26-27; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Romans 8:39)
Blessings, Sister Laurie
Thank you to the following amazing men of God for their insight and inspiration.
Pastor Steve Berger, “Winning the Mind Wars, Tearing Down Strongholds Through Prayer”, Grace Chapel, Franklin TN
Pastor Gary Costella, Awesome Church, Sydney Australia
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!
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
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