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.
If you are anything like me, you do not like tests! I get nervous, palms sweaty, if it’s an oral test or having to answer a difficult question from a teacher or other person in authority I get really nervous. Even when I am confident of the answer, suddenly…I am speechless, and I cannot find the right words. For me, a test is confrontational, and I just do not do well. All that being said, the Bible speaks about God’s testing. As a believer and follower of Jesus…you will be tested…no two ways about it! So let us talk about testing and how in life we all will be tested, ALL meaning even the non-believer, new believer and what you might call the mature believer. I want to stop right there and clarify the new and mature believer…we are all in the same boat, sailing to our eternal destination. I know I have touched on this before and it is extremely important to not put labels on ourselves or others. We are all moving in the same direction, mature believers do not have all the answers. They, just like the new believer must study, look, ask for help, pray, and seek for answers in God’s Word. Once you have been born-again, became a believer…you have total access to your Heavenly Father, and He is the same for every believer. Mature believers struggle, face troubles and testing just as the less experienced believer. Now let us move on…
Tests are designed to demonstrate knowledge and point out areas for improvement. In math or history, a test will show a persons ability and help the student know what areas need further study. God tests His children in the same manner. Here is where many times you might find yourself confused. When ministering, I have heard more than once someone say God did this to me, caused this illness, tragedy, loss, situation, or circumstance. I want to make this perfectly clear…GOD DOES NOT CAUSE ILLNESS, TRAGEDY, LOSS, UNFAVORABLE SITUATIONS OR CIRCUMSTANCES. In His Word, God tells us there will be difficulties. Matthew 6:34 says “ So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Also “These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.” And then in John 16:33, “Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.” John 14:27 NASB Throughout the Bible God shares stories about His people and their troubles, always God also shows them the way out.
It is in these times that God reveals what you know and what you have developed within your heart. Every situation is a teaching moment…a process in your life. In fact, without His testing, there is no opportunity to grow and become who He created you to be. It is in those times that you are strengthen so that you might use this strength for His purpose. More is happening than the circumstances you find yourself experiencing, God is working behind the scenes. When you look with the right perspective, you will find God bringing out His character in us or revealing that you have a deeper need of His influence. James 1:13 reminds us, “No one is to say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” The more often you understand and respond to God’s priorities, the closer you will come to the fullness of all He has designed and purposed in your life.
Looking at the three types of tests…
The Test of Servanthood
As a believer you are all called to the life of a servant. You demonstrate your love for God by loving and serving others. This love is expressed when you put your personal desires aside for the benefit of others. Personal sacrifice is part of this servanthood, giving of your time and resources within healthy boundaries…this is not a part-time position but a lifelong pursuit as a believer. You must be ready when God calls on you. The most difficult test of servanthood is when you are treated like a servant, maybe you feel that you should have received recognition or possibly you are mistreated “persecuted” while serving. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10 NASB Here you must check your motive…in today’s world you may find yourself having a selfish view, the world is focused on individual rights and rewards, pride clouds your ability to serve…God’s view is you serve without return. Knowing you serve a loving Father is more than enough.
There are many biblical examples; Ezekiel spoke to God’s people many times through embarrassing ways, Noah suffered under years of ridicule as he built the ark and warned people of what was coming, Hosea married and remarried a prostitute despite what those around him must have thought and in spite of her unrepentant heart. These and others demonstrate that the test of servanthood is designed to reveal the level of obedience a believer will offer.
Your servant heart is evidence of a believer willing to go and do as God has asked, leaving your personal comfort and desires to meet the needs of others.
The Test of Sacrificial Love
Love is a concept confused by its multiple uses. For you love might be a flood of emotions, warm feelings or possibly a decision of commitment despite your emotions. Perhaps love has lost all meaning, it seems unattainable or able to satisfy the cravings of your broken or troubled heart. The world may have confused your thoughts concerning love however here you see that the love required of a believer is sacrificial. God will develop this love in your heart if you allow Him through testing. The test of a sacrificial love comes when you are confronted with a command to action from your Savior. Love can mean many things, but love that has a price is clearly sacrificial love. In the life of a believer there will be many choices that oppose the world. There will be a cost in this love…a financial, deep emotional requirement, and hard-fought forgiveness are some of characteristics of sacrificial love. Paul speaks of denying himself, you will be called upon to deprive yourself of things others pursue happily. Other times you will be called to forgive and extend love to those who certainly do not deserve it.
There is a distinctive difference between sacrificial love and unconditional love, but they flow from the same heart. Unconditional love is love without strings attached, love offered freely and not base it on what someone does for you in return. Sacrificial love focuses on the one giving love and the length that person will go to maintain that love.
Abraham’s trip to Mount Moriah with his son Isaac found in Genesis 22 is a significant example of the test of sacrificial love. Abraham had to have been traumatized by the possible outcome of this journey. How could God ask such a thing? Abraham may have been thinking the price is to great or unfair! This raises the question how could he obey, how did he? While the Bible does not give details to his emotional struggle we know it was tremendous. You get a glimpse of how Abraham was able to obey in Genesis 22:12 with an angel’s observation, “now I know that you fear the God”. This fear is the ultimate form of love and trust in God. God was Abraham’s greatest focus and priority, and obedience to God’s commands…even the ones that did not make any sense. Like Abraham many times this test will come without the desired explanation or understanding. You may feel thoughts of overwhelming unfairness, defenses are raised, and rationalizing happens. We know the outcome, God stepped in and stopped Abraham’s act of obedience. Generations to come will and are continuing to be blessed because of it.
Do you remember in the Bible where Jesus asked the rich young man to sell everything he had to follow Jesus? Most likely that will never happen for you. Yet some of you who are reading this right now maybe experiencing that very thing. There maybe consequences that have put you in the position of losing everything and yet I am confident that if you respond with that same “fear” God will restore the loss…His way NOT yours. The truth is that what God has for you is much bigger when you take the step of faith in sacrificial love.
What you are unwilling to part with moves into the place of God and begins to control you. Yes, people, places and material things that become obsessions are idolatry in its clearest expression. Anytime you say no to God and choose something or someone else, you sow seed for future destruction, and you take a clear step away from the God who called you His. The more you cultivate a giving spirit, the more easily you can give what God requires. Now listen, I am not saying to give everything away…but if you have trouble responding with compassion and self-sacrifice in times you are confronted with an opportunity to meet a need, you will not be able to give sacrificially when God calls upon you.
It is important to avoid the attention of others when you give, only then will you shutout the pride that causes you to desire to hold on to what is yours. Be intentional in your giving, not careless. Knowing the price and choosing to give on purpose brings the experience to a place of worship. Remember I am not speaking of finances alone, there are many opportunities to give in serving others.
The Test of Faithfulness
Faithfulness is bound in constancy and dependability. It is the choice to remain steadfast regardless of the changing circumstances. God’s faithfulness is demonstrated in the constancy of His love regardless of your worthiness or actions. Simply…God still loves you and is extending His hand to you when you are right in the thick of sinful choices or behavior. Your faithfulness is demonstrated in the constancy of your obedience regardless of your understanding or comfort. It is remaining faithful despite your circumstance or situation, having the confidence that God is there right with you…the test of faithfulness is in your reaction. Your faithfulness is evident when you look to His promises no matter what the world says, believing God will provide a way. Joseph is an amazing example of faithfulness…more than thirteen years of near-death experiences, suffering and imprisonment and yet his faithfulness never faltered. In the end God restored his family, bought abundant provision for not only Joseph and his family but all of Egypt. Joseph did not know what God was doing yet he remained faithful.
How do you react, were does your mind go and in what does it dwell? How do your emotions and behavior reflect your faith in God? This is the test…where is your trust? Look at Simon Peter, he allowed the confusion and his emotions of Jesus’ arrest to test his faith and he failed three times…however later when he had the opportunity Peter jumped out of the boat to reach Jesus and ask forgiveness, this act was an opportunity for restoration. God uses your circumstances to teach you the hard lessons of faithfulness. The Israelites are a great example of God’s love and faithfulness, over and over again they separated themselves from God by complaining and seeking after selfish desires instead of trusting God. He will let you experience the consequences of your choices to help you discover how completely unsatisfying they are. God never gives up and He will never give up on you!
You will become consistently faithful by using the commonsense God gave you, having a biblical plan for daily living which includes finishing what you start, keeping your promises and giving of your resources when no one else sees. You must have a plan when faced with a challenge, start now by removing anything you sense that could get in your way. In other words, when objects that breed unfaithfulness are eliminated, you have limited your choice to faithfulness in times of crisis. Faithfulness starts with faith. You should aggressively build your faith…understand what it means to fear God and call upon the Holy Spirit to help you walk in a path of obedience. Faithfulness is tied to repentance…you are faithful when you are quick to turn from wrongdoing and ask God to forgive you…seeking His help in resisting sin.
In closing remember…passing the tests of servanthood, sacrificial love, and faithfulness begins by knowing who you are in Christ, committing to follow God and allowing Him to reign over every part of your life. Those who do not live to give God glory will not experience the lasting freedom and peace He is offering. Do not let pride stumble you in serving others…Paul would not allow people to worship him, he reacts strongly, pushing away the moment in no uncertain terms (read Acts 14:8-14). Be careful what you attach your heart to. Do not be afraid to love what you should love, and how you should love, but do not choose to love what is unworthy of eternal attention. When faithfulness is a priority in your life, it will be easier to respond faithfully in times of crisis. Finally, surround yourself with others who are on the same journey, cultivate your faith and relationship with God by surrendering daily to His Ways…from the place of surrender God can and will work in your life.
Romans 8:38-39 AMP tells you “For I am convinced and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt… that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the unlimited love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Last writing dear sisters I spoke of having a healthy heart. Today I wanted to share with you how living with a heart that has been damaged keeps you from the freedom God is offering all His children. You were created to live a full life with purpose, confidence, love, with the strength…not let the littlest offense send your mind and spirit reeling. Once again I want to remind you of the connect between the mind and spirit or what the Bible refers to as your heart. Your heart is where your true self is revealed, where daily decisions and actions are born. This means each of us must let our spirit be in charge, it is our spirit that is in communication with the Holy Spirit. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, you are the daughters of God. For you, my sister have not received a spirit of oppression leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as His daughter by which you cry out, Abba! Father! The Spirit Himself testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God.” Romans 8: 14-16 NASB personalized Remember, your spirit must become bigger than your mind because out of your spirit flows the passion and power of God through the work of the Holy Spirit. A healthy heart grows and flows forth for the purposes of God’s Kingdom and benefits all those God puts in your circle of influence.
There are three types of damaged heart each has its own characteristics however they can work with each other building strongholds in your life that does not allow God’s Truth to reach your spirit. These strongholds reside in you mind and block the work God wants to do within your heart. That is why living with one of these wounds or a combination of them will bring broken relationships and strife into your life. An unhealthy heart will not only devastate the work of God in your life, but it will have an effect on those you love. This is a battleground, the devil works to hold you captive in unforgiveness, bitterness and self-focus, let us look closely at these three hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to identity areas in your heart that need housekeeping and healing.
The Wounded Heart
You will face hurt and disappointment, mistreatment and criticism in life, there is no getting around it. Your past and your ability to forgive plays a huge part in your heart condition. As a woman you were wired to nurture and love, be the strong one emotionally. But many times you find yourself coping in your own strength, suppressing feelings, or denying disappointments even abuse. Emotions that are neglected will resurface, in the form of a wounded heart. If these emotions are left untreated wrong thinking becomes a way for bitterness to form. Bitterness or hidden anger toward someone who has hurt you is compromising your heart health, that hurt will slowly move into hate and will change how you react to situations based on past experiences. “Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God’s best blessings. Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.” Hebrews 12:15 TLB Neglecting the wound gives the devil entrance remember sin is crouching at the door.
Right now, your saying…I am not wounded, I have forgiven them…yet you live guarded, with your own armor, suspicious of people or the motives behind their actions. Is that you? Do you trust? The wounded heart battles paranoia unable to experience kind efforts from others. Another evidence of a wounded heart is fear or deep anxiety. Unresolved hurt or anger will lead you to expect more of the same. The smallest failure of another individual opens old wounds they hold you captive and unable to move forward. Unresolved pain does not diminish with time, rather strongholds become larger within your heart making a healthy relationship with God and others impossible.
How then can I be free of the hurt I feel, the bitterness and anger I have been holding on to? Carefully choose a woman of God, find a safe place, and let your story be told, let your emotions vent. God cannot heal what we fail to give Him! Yes, God was there, and He saw however we need to share it with Him. Here is where forgiveness comes in, the only true way to move past even the most horrible hurt is through forgiveness. “For if you forgive other people for their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14 NASB Only through forgiveness can you stop bitterness and hate from withholding what Jesus did for you on the cross. Jesus gives you the ability to forgive because He forgave those who crucified Him and you as well. This is not up for negotiation…forgiveness of sins and forgiveness of what other have done to you goes hand in hand. The choice is yours and so it takes willingness on your part. Some people like holding on the hurt, it becomes a platform for attention, an excuse to hate. Sadly, the damage caused by holding on keeps you in broken limbo. Your ability to forgive is essential in the healing processing, no matter how difficult you must lay those hurts at Jesus’ feet and forgive those who have hurt you. Ask God to heal your heart and then declare that healing over yourself. When you have a healthy heart, you are not careless or naïve in your view of people, but you are open and able to believe the best about others’ actions and motives. Dwelling on the hurt, reliving the circumstances or experience allows the devil to continue to fuel your wounds. If you find yourself in this situation I strongly suggest reading “Battlefields of the Minds”, by Joyce Meyers.
The Hypocritical Heart
A hypocritical heart is one that fails to achieve honesty in view of itself. It focuses on the faults of others while at the same time ignores their own situation or sin. Luke 6:42 is well known for its description of hypocrisy “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” This heart condition is more concerned with how things appear then what is going on inside. It hides behind a mask, there is a disconnect between what is seen and what is true this leads to a destructive heart condition. Many times, this heart condition attaches itself to a wounded heart, ignoring what is brewing inside, pointing the finger elsewhere. A focus on the failings of others reveals your hypocrisy. The hypocritical heart engages in gossip…spreading less than kind words about others. Jesus suggests that the right response when we witness another’s sin is mourning, not private satisfaction. Heart check right here! Is that you? Something like, “It’s about time Sally got caught with her hand in the cookie jar” said with a smirk. Love does not desire the sin to be magnified or the punishment to be without mercy. The Bible commands us to guard and evaluate our own heart. If you fail to do so or focus greater energy on evaluating others, hypocrisy is in full bloom. One easy way to identify hypocrisy in your own heart is by taking inventory of your life. On Sundays at church, in public, or at home…are you the same person? React the same? Is there a hidden part of you? Ouch! For those of you who are Moms your consistency speaks volumes, if you “put on” an act at church your children will see church, see Jesus as their Savior as nothing more than shallow or unreal. It is your responsibility to represent Jesus to your children with consistency and love in every area of your life.
The first step in healing this heart condition is humility. We must take an honest look at our life; we must humble ourselves and acknowledge our wrongdoings before any process of healing can begin. Repentance is key. Many times, this repentance must be made to those you have hurt or gossiped about. You cannot hold back…those negative words spoken about another must be forgiven. A healthy heart does not allow embarrassment or shame keep it from offering a heartfelt apology. You must adopt a habit of self-evaluation based in God’s Word and let the Holy Spirit work within you to expose wrong thinking.
The Greedy Heart
A greedy heart has the desire for one’s own benefit. Luke 12:15 NASB warns “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed.” As a sister in Jesus Christ, your heart must be void of greed. Another way to describe a greedy heart is to say it is self-focused or selfish. The Bible defines greed as a form of idolatry, revealing a love for things of this world, setting your priorities on self-satisfaction and recognition. The greedy heart focuses on things that cannot truly appease; wealth, popularity and power are illusions as they cannot fill your need to be satisfied. Your temptation to have what others enjoy can be surprising powerful. The greed or your pursuit of self-gratification can quickly become bondage, blocking your ability to be sensitive to God’s purpose for your life. Idolatry is a clear violation of God’s first and most significant commandment. You, my sister must not let anything interfere or hinder your devotion to the One True God, your Heavenly Father. He made this commandment first because it touches every aspect of your life. When your focus becomes inward or upon worldly aspirations God’s position in your life becomes out of focus.
Healing such a heart begins with confession; acknowledging the greed which opens the way for God to remove it. What is important to God must become your guide. When you take the “me” out of a situation and look to honor God it changes your position, there is a shift, a newfound sense of worth. Your true worth in found in God and not in the mirror or acquired goods of this world. God has the right to supreme leadership in the your life and to the unhindered devotion of the your heart. When your devotion is centered on God, He provides safety and protection. God is asking you to make Him first in your life, when your focus, thinking, and desires belong to Him you will be satisfied. Nothing else in the world has the lasting, supernatural power that your devotion to God brings. You were born with a hunger that only is satisfied through your relationship with God.
Expose right now, what is hiding in your heart dear sister. Become sensitive to those things that can bring sickness or destroy your heart. The symptoms of these three heart conditions hide in the dark places of your life, you must expose the negative experiences of your life and allow God to heal them. You have come so far in your relationship with God. He is calling you to go deeper…the Holy Spirit within you is working with your spirit to bring healing. Through God’s Word the Truth is revealed…With God you can face the past, heal the wounds, say no to wrong thinking, close the door on feelings that do not line up with who God says you are…His daughter, the daughter of the Most High King! Today! Proclaim your position…you belong to the One True God, loved, valued, worthy to do the work and live a life full of purpose.
“Create, begin the process in me clean and purify my heart, make it healthy according to Your standard, focused on You God, I ask You My Loving Father to renew and remove, to do the work necessary so that my spirit would be steadfast and positioned to receive all that You have for me so that I am able to serve You and fulfill the purpose You have given me.” Psalm 51:10 personalized
Our heart or better known as your “mind and spirit” will shape your relationship with God, people, and the choices you make in your life. Everything proceeds from the heart. It is our true self, revealed and lived out daily. Jesus works through your heart giving you the ability to live for God’s purpose. God intends for all His children to work out of their heart, sharing in different ways all He has done for them through Jesus Christ. In my current studies, it is said, “The believer, yes, you my sister must allow the beneficial traits of the heart (in this case spirit) to emerge unhindered, while cleansing your heart (mind) from those attitudes and ideas that can be destructive.”
For me this means we must let our spirit be in charge, it is the spirit that is in communication with the Holy Spirit. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the daughters of God. For you, my sister have not received a spirit of oppression leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as His daughter by which you cry out, Abba! Father! The Spirit Himself testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God.” Romans 8: 14-16 NASB personalized
I often say, ”Your spirit must become bigger than your mind because out of your spirit flows the passion and power of God through the work of the Holy Spirit.” A healthy heart grows and flows forth for the purposes of God’s Kingdom and benefits all those God puts in your circle of influence.
There are three attributes of a healthy heart let us take a closer look at these three elements and how they work together so that you and I will be enabled to live our life full of purpose and love as God intended.
The Thirsty Heart
Matthew 5:6 tells us “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” The hunger and thirst speaks of what do we have our attention on…is it positioned to see the world through Jesus’ eyes? How does someone become hungry and thirsty? Our hunger was always there! We are spiritual beings and we long for an intimate relationship with our Creator. It begins when we acknowledge that only through Jesus and the redemptive love in His death and resurrection for you personally. As we recognize His love…come into an understanding of the sacrifice made and embrace without question that we were dead spiritually and near death physically. How many times can you say if not for God I would have… It is at that point we fall in love with God igniting a passion to know Him, our hunger and thirst is revealed. This “righteousness” simply stated is “to be right with God”, only through this position we realize who we are and that only God can fill our emptiness, satisfy our spirit and bring our flesh under control.
Having a thirsty heart is an important part of the supernatural ministry God desires to pour out through His children. If we thirst for God, He is able to work His purposes in our lives without hindrances. When our heart is thirsty we are able to maintain the right perspective on our daily life, God’s purpose for us becomes central in how we live.
The Repentant Heart
“Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19 We must be quick to repent, only with a heart that has been forgiven can we receive a fresh filling through the Holy Spirit. When we confess wrongdoing and choose to turn away from it, God is able to help us experience the born-again life spoken of in His Word. It is ONLY through repentance (taking responsibility) can we experience the abundant life Christ came to give. Being a woman after God’s own heart is not being a sinless person, but a repentant one. There are several examples in God’s Word about how repentance allows God to restore the broken, bring freedom to the captives. David is an excellent source for understanding how powerful a repentant heart can be. David’s pursuit of restoration found in Psalm 51 is an excellent example of how a repentant heart rebuilds our relationship with God and leads us back to a “right standing with God.” When we work from a repentant heart, we surrender ourselves and allow God to do protective work in our hearts which allows us to not hold on to sin that works life-long destruction. Even now you and I face temptation daily however when we hold tightly to a repentant heart with the help of the Holy Spirit we can overcome and become victors in Christ. A repentant heart is cultivated by going back to the beginning. What is your first true experience of Christ…identify the confession of sin, your repentance. Did you have a clear sense of your unworthiness and failures? Was it in this moment you came to the end of yourself realizing without Jesus you could not continue? Were you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Living in chaos? Look back, see clearly the impact sin has had in our life and the consequences. This is where you see how forgiveness of sin is vital to your heart health. This reality and knowing your need of Jesus, holding tightly being absolutely dependent on Jesus, His Truth and Love will help you maintain a heart of repentance.
The Teachable Heart
Many times, when I am ministering, I conclude with asking the attendants about the relationships in their life. Self-examination is necessary…do you find yourself isolated? Do you have a continually need to be right? Are you able to see the fruit in another believer and receive direction from them? Who speaks God’s Truth into your life? Are you accountable to a woman of God who looks to God for direction in her life? Careful selection is required and accountability a must! A healthy Heart requires fellowship with other believers, believers who are pursuing God, you know, those that have that same hunger and thirst to be right with God. You should know by now where I am headed…a teachable heart is reflective of a humble heart. If you find yourself unable to be taught…there may be a stronghold full of hurt guarded by a wall of pride. This MUST be brought down! An unteachable heart will find itself lost to God’s Truth…weak and prey to the devil and temptation. A teachable heart can only grow out of a humble heart. We must acknowledge that this journey we are on is a continual learning experience, arrival happens when you trade in your earthly body for the one God has prepared for us to wear through eternity. If we are not growing in our relationship with God, we are stagnant, God calls us to a constant forward motion.
A healthy Heart is evidence of God working from the inside out. A part of the heart (our spirit) He desires to build is a thirsty, repentant, and teachable. Such a heart knows it desperately needs God, His presence, His grace, and His direction. One last thought…pride works in the opposite direction. When a person’s hunger is for selfish gain, and feels she is above the need to confess wrongdoing, that individual is headed toward a colossal fall. Only with a humble heart can your hunger and thirst be satisfied; can you fully surrender to your Forever Father and receive all He has for you…Right Now!
“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” Colossians 3:15-17 MSG
There are three positions in God’s Kingdom, each and every person falls into one, here and now! Paul pens in Romans 7:24 NASB, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Whether you find yourself still doubting the existence of God, a new believer, or a matured believer there is an ongoing struggle against sin.
The unbeliever battles to understand right from wrong because God has given all people knowledge, an understanding of God and His ways from the very beginning. Romans 1:19 says “Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.” Humanity has no excuse, just as God knew us in our mother’s womb and placed our spirit there, we also knew Him. In this position there is continuous struggle and chaos. A distorted sense of truth exists, selfish ambition and desire guide the decision-making process. Psalms 138 fully describes how intimately God knows us and that we belong to Him. The second half of Psalm 139:14 clearly tells us “Wonderful are Your works, and my soul (spirit) knows it very well.” See right there, as infants growing within our mother’s womb we have the truth, God’s truth! This truth is there for one purpose to be completely discovered and revealed with the help of the Holy Spirit. The word “know” here is an intimate understanding, relational, experiential, and personal. We are God’s creation, made in His image, His children. So yes, Wretched man that I am!
The new believer struggles because they are now acknowledging the “knowing”. Their eyesight improves which gives them hunger and thirst to experience the love of God. It has always been there, just as the ability to know right from wrong, but now there is a shift, an understanding that God see them, sin becomes clearer. We know from God’s Word that we are no longer held captive to the bondage of sin, the old man has been crucified, sin shall not have dominion over you, the mind of the spirit is life and peace. Romans 6:6, Galatians 5:24 and Romans 8:1, 5-6. There is an acknowledgement that God is the great I AM…an embracing of Jesus’ sacrifice for them personally. That without God they are lost to sin and a fallen world. They find themselves asking questions “What do I do now?”, “How do I”, “What now is God’s asking?”, “How is this personal relationship suppose to work?”. They have these habits or behaviors that do not give God honor, acknowledge their love for Him, in some cases they go against the law…all of this has new meaning. The big question now becomes “How then shall I live?” So yes, Wretched man that I am!
The mature believer now has worked this God thing out, a little farther down the road and yet…in Romans 7:15-20 Paul openly shares his frustration. “For I do not understand what I am doing; for I am not practicing what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate. However, if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, that the Law is good. But now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I do the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me.” So yes, Wretched man that I am!
The struggles against sin is real for everyone. This is exactly why God had Paul include this truth about himself. Paul suffered under spiritual attacks, he wrestled with his past and he grappled with unworthiness. Yet, God chosen this man, His grace put Paul in a unique position to share God’s Truth, to testify concerning Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. In all of this God gave Paul the inspired Word in which he authored thirteen letters in the New Testament. Like Paul the mature believer has stepped into greater responsibility therefore subject to greater scrutiny of self. Yet, Paul suffered under his old self just as we do, in Paul’s case I believe that the thorn in Paul’s side speaks of him wrestling with past behavior and the spiritual battle in the form of shame the devil continually heaped on him. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 confirms this thought, “Because of the extraordinary greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” Thank you God, for encouraging Paul to be transparent with us. This is true for all believers serving Jesus, stepping out and living daily for God.
I find myself, the wretched man, forgiven, justified and righteous through God, still battling spiritual attacks and dealing with consequences of sin. You see sweet sisters we are all like Paul “The Wretched Man.” There is no place I would rather be then to be found, proven, and refined by my Forever Father, my King, loved and not forsaken, positioned as His daughter, the daughter of the Most High King.
God carefully constructed you, with His creative finger He mixed your DNA perfectly. He placed your spirit within you, you are the daughter of the Most High King. Psalm 139:13-18
In “The Message Translation” of Roman 8:18-27 a beautiful picture of creation and our position is revealed, “That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.
All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
The birth pangs (groans) are the result of two factors; First, we are subject through our five senses to experience a fallen world. Second, these senses also provide an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father.
There are many scriptures about guarding the gateways of our five senses, yes, we must become well versed in this protecting and taking care to not let the devil and the temptations of the world sidetrack us. We were created to experience God’s goodness through our five senses. On your own meditate on the following scriptures and the amazing power within us to perceive God through our five senses.
Eyes: Matthew 6:22 says “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 13:16, Luke 11:34 ESV
Ears: Luke 11:28 says “But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!.” Proverbs 20:12, Romans 10:17, Psalm 94:9, Luke 11:28, Matthew 11:15 ESV
Touch: 1 John 1:1 says ““That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.” John 20:27, Genesis 3:3 ESV
Taste: Psalm 34:8 says ” Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 119:103, Matthew 5:13, Hebrews 5:14 ESV
Smell: 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 says “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” Psalm 115:3-8, Ephesians 5:1-2, 1 Corinthians 12:17, Genesis 27:27 ESV
You and I must be sure our five sense serve as instruments of righteousness and not instruments of wickedness. Let us look at how God intended for us to use the power behind our physical body to encounter God’s glory.
Guide our eyes. May our vision witness the glory of the Lord and all His creation.
Monitor our hearing. Let our ears be fine-tuned to hear His voice.
Control our tastes. Feast on the manna that being His Word which He has provided.
Watch our touch. Lay hold and embrace the treasure found in God’s grace.
Train our smell. Crave only what is true and that will enrich our souls.
Yes, these are gateways to our spirit. Through these gates pass the tangible and ideas of the world. They are ties to our environment. Place a sentry, God’s Word, at every gate. Watch, listen, consume, touch and be drawn by only that which will edify your spirit. Be sure your five senses serve as tools with kingdom purpose and not captive to the devil and a fallen world.
1 John 1:1-4 ESV says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
Remember: God’s power will keep you. His Spirit will fill you. His wisdom will guide you. His authority will enable you. His love will protect you. His peace will lift you. His provision will sustain you.
Romans 8: 39 in The Passion Translation says, “There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!”
Greetings, in the Name of Jesus! I wanted to quickly get this out to you before the new year. There have been many prophetic words spoken about the coming year. Simply stated in 2021 there will be a reckoning for the church and believers, and there will be those who fall away. So, we must be ready, vigilant and we must not be distracted by the world, our families or others that would tear us from God’s mission.
See Luke 12:51-53, Scripture says that families will be broken apart by God’s truth. People we love will fall and stray even fight against one another. Let God’s truth spoken in His Word be your guide and do not be dismayed. The armies of Gideon were reduced by God several times because God needed the strongest for the battle. He knew that the weaker would drag His chosen away. Deuteronomy 20:8 says “Then the officers shall speak further to the people and say, ‘Who is the man that is afraid and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, so that he does not make his brothers’ hearts melt like his heart!’” See a thinning of God’s people is coming.
The more time we spend with God, the easier it becomes to hear His voice. As we spend time, worshipping, study and talk with God, we begin to recognize His voice immediately and we can differentiate between God and the enemy. As we seek Him we are empowered by His truth.
In the movies, books, and animated features “Star Wars” there is a “Force” that the Jedi use to defend the innocent and destroy evil. It is defined in “Wookiepedia” as “The Force is an energy field created by all life that connected everything in the universe and was known by a variety of names throughout galactic history. The Force was created by life, and therefore, resided in all lifeforms. The Force is the basis of various religious organizations such as the Jedi Order and Sith Order, among others.” This fictional story speaks of how all the universe is connected, which is true because it was created by one creator God. We hunger for the unseen and hold on to a truth that is in all of us and for some to be yet revealed. Like the “force” in Star Wars we all are born, connected to something spiritual in nature. The light sabre for me represents the Sword of Truth, it battles to work in us and through us revealing God’s truth and destroying the lies, sinful desire and God’s enemies around us. Hebrew 4:12 tells us “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.”
I know you are thinking why is she talking about Star Wars. We all were born to hunger and thirst for God because we are spiritual beings created by Him. Therefore, we are captivated by stories of supernatural beings, supernatural heros and enemies. Star Wars like many other science-fiction, fantasy movies and books address forces bigger even supernatural compared to our human flesh or what we see with our eyes, there is a part of us that is born knowing that our bodies are a tent or vessel carrying our spirit. Writers have been forever trying to put this unseen truth into words when God has already supplied us with all the “stories” and the real truth found in His Holy Word, the Bible.
All the hunger, thirst and longing we are born with should tell us that we do not belong here, therefore we must not be fooled by the distractions of this world.
Genesis 32:24-30 tells us about Jacob spending time alone with God. Jacob got away from everything and everyone to seek the Lord. During that time God visited him. By separating himself He was able to experience God intimately. He wrestled, pondered, meditated, dreamed, and asked for God’s will and blessing. Through those alone times with God Jacob was changed forever physically and spiritually.
“For on the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; He will hide me in the secret place of His tent; He will lift me up on a rock.” Psalm 27:5 NASB God offers His protection and strength to rest and resist the world.
Ephesians 4:23-24 tells us, “Let the Spirit change your way of thinking and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God, and so you must please Him and be truly holy.”
Many times, as I am ministering I challenge those in attendance with these words, “I guarantee that you will be changed if you study God’s Word in fact, I challenge you to experience God by reading His Word and praying His Word over yourself. If your mind is filling with negative thoughts or memories, dwell or romanticizing your sin, selfish desires, past experiences, or trauma; I further challenge you to carrying your Bible with you everywhere and when you are under attack open your Bible and read His Truth, declare it over yourself until you feel the Holy Spirit cover you with truth, peace, and God’s love. Go further by speaking the Bible out loud and telling the devil his will not destroy what God has for you.” I have witnessed deliverance and miracles over addiction, nightmares, anxiety, and physical ailments by simply carrying His Word with you wherever you go and speaking God’s truth over yourself. There is POWER is God’s Word…
In the World there are many distractions to keep us from experiencing God’s “force” in our life. God has enemies and they want to drag you down, destroy God’s creation made in His own image, that’s you however, God gave us all we need to resist and even war against His enemies.
Ok, now here is where we must confront ourselves, I personally am not very disciplined, in fact, I struggle with authority and it is only through God that surrender is possible, by His Holy Spirit working within me. It’s not easy, discipline is not easy when you have always chosen the path of least resistance or allowed the wrong people or things to have authority over you. Many of you may be so lost to this world that right now you are struggling to even grasp these words. Ask God for help, take responsibility for your life and reach out to women of God for help. Men of God if you are a man.
James 4:7 says, “Submit therefore to God. But resist (oppose) the devil, and he will flee from you.” NASB
Oppose means “disapprove of and attempt to prevent, actively resist or refuse to comply with (a person or a system).”
Examine yourself, it’s time to grow up…”Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” Ephesians 4:14-15 NLT
Jeremiah 31:21 tells us “Set up signposts to mark your trip home, Get a good map (God’s Holy Word). Study the road conditions. The road out is the road back, come back dear daughter, child of God, come back to the Lord your God.” Personalized NASB Remember, a transformed woman will embrace the transforming God!
Our identity was always meant to be found in Him, not the world, for the world is dying and eternity is calling each of us. 2 Corinthians 5:1 says, “For we know that if the earthly tent (human bodies) which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
“And so, dear sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let yourself be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 personalized NLT
Live ready, be prepared, do not be carried away by this world’s delusions, they belong to Satan…they are dead things, hunger for God’s Living Truth.
Pray with me right now, “Father, I want to do Your will. What do You want for my Life? I have dreams, ideas and I lay them at Your altar, show me God those that line up with Your will. All these dreams and ideas I want to do are for You and Your Kingdom. I thank You for Your perfect timing, I am trusting You God for guidance and I know You are right beside me. Thank you for the sacrifice You made by sending Your Son, Jesus, so that I might encounter You with confidence, knowing my sins are forgiven. I declare my position as Your daughter, the daughter of the Most High King. AMEN”
If there was no God, we would be “accidents”, the result of astronomical random chance in the universe. There would be no purpose or meaning or significance. There would be no right or wrong, and no hope beyond you brief years here on earth. Some might say so live it up! However, we know deep down there is more and our life here on earth has eternal meaning.
Right now, this place is the book cover, the title page created by God for our earthly life. I am going to personalize the words C.S. Lewis writes at end of the Chronicles of Narina, “For this is the end of my story…But for me it is only the beginning of the real story. All my life in this world…has only been the cover and title page: now at last I am to the beginning of Chapter One of the Greatest Story, God’s Story of who I am, which no one on earth has read, which goes on forever and in which every chapter is better than the one before.” Yes, Jesus I embrace this glimpse of my forever story.
God made you for a reason, and your life has profound meaning! You discover that meaning and purpose only when you make God the reference point, the center of your life. The Message Bible Translation paraphrases Romans 12:3 “The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what He does for us.”
This poem by Russell Kelfer sums it up:
You are who you are for a reason.
You are part of an intricate plan.
You are a precious and perfect unique design.
Called God’s special woman or man.
You look like you look for a reason.
Our God made no mistake.
He knit you together within the womb,
You are JUST what He wanted to make.
The parents you had were the ones He chose,
And no matter how you may feel,
They were custom-designed with God’s plan in mind,
And they bear the Master’s Seal.
No, that trauma you faced was no easy.
<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">And God wept that it hurt you so;And God wept that it hurt you so;
But it was allowed to shape your heart
So that into His likeness you would grow.
You are who you are for a reason,
You have been formed by the Master’s hand and rod.
You are who you are, beloved,
Because this is a God!!
Remember, you are His Child, His Son or Daughter of the Most High King! Let your voice sing Praises to your King!
Blessing, Sister Laurie
These thoughts were inspired by God’s Holy Word and the book “Purpose Driven Life” by Pastor Rick Warren.
“We must each fully embrace how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.” Hebrews 9:14-15 MSG personalized
Strap yourselves in, this is going to get real, the kind of real that you may have brushed to the side, swept under the rug, voiced an opinion, or harbored strong emotions. Right here I want to say that there will be those of you who stop reading at this point or maybe in one of the next paragraphs, it may get to tough or real however, I encourage you to take this journey of truth with me.
I need to get some statistics out of the way so that we can really see how abortion in the United States is destroying all of us. I was sick to my stomach as I was gathering these numbers from reliable sources. So here we go…
Reported Abortions from 1970-1979 were 7,977,611, the female population ages 15-44 in 1979 was 41,857,686 or 19.06% of the women had abortions during the 70’s.
Reported Abortions from 1980-1989 were 13,283,150, the female population ages 15-44 in 1989 was 58,512,473 or 22.7% of the women had abortions during the 80’s.
Reported Abortions from 1990-1999 were 16,633,105, the female population ages 15-44 in 1999 was 49,554,764 or 33.57% of the women had abortions during the 90’s.
My findings were supplied by the Abortion Surveillance Organization and the National Center for Health Statistics, CDC as well as the population numbers through PopulationPyrimad.net and USGOV.org. Note: A small percentage were women who had multiple abortions or were out of the age range however the numbers do give us a picture.
A further break down of these numbers reveal a greater number of people who have been affected by abortion in the United State during 1970 through 1999. Let me be clear why I choose these years and age groups. These women are you and I today, you and I fall into one of three categories we are the daughters, mothers, or grandmothers. We are the ones who have suffered in silence. But this number is much larger let me explain. For every abortion there are at least five people who are involved not including the pregnant woman or her unborn child. There is the father to consider, the confidant, other family members, the doctor, the nurse, even other staff members. Abortion touches way beyond the woman and the unborn child, it is like a pebble thrown into a pool having numerous ripples carrying a horrible secret and shame. All of that being said can we agree to multiply the number of abortions by six and see how many people have really been affected. Let that sink in…
The Secret…as you shop in the grocery store, sit in your favorite spot at church, attend a movie or sporting event; look around…there is a very strong likelihood that you are very near at that moment to someone who has had an abortion and it’s a secret shrouded in shame. This is an all-consuming situation that is affecting everyone lives.
The woman who had the abortion is the victim (yup! I said “victim” every single one of them), you see behind every abortion is a woman who had to make that decision. Every story and circumstance are unique, yet the bottom line is the woman carries the secret and the shame. The procedure is a violation of her body and the killing of an innocent child, both are a complete defilement of God’s design.
Here are some scriptures to support how every child is by God’s Design…valued, loved, not a mistake and created to live with purpose.
The Old and New Testament confirm why God created the world and us.
Isaiah 45:18 God’s Word Translation (GWT) says “The Lord created the heavens. God formed the earth and made it. He set it up. He did not create it to be empty but formed it to be inhabited.”
Ephesians 1:4 (MSG) explains how the earth was created for us “Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love.”
There are many passages that speak of how God is our Creator and Father, each one of us He set in motion from the very beginning, here are two of my favorites.
Psalm 139:15 in the Message (MSG) translation says “You, God know me inside and out, You know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.”
Psalm 139:16 in the Living Bible (LB) Translation says “You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!”
Other verses speak of how “He knew the sound of your voice before you were born” and “He (God) breathed life into you.”
No matter where an individual is in their relationship with God, every person knows that we belong to something greater, we embrace the knowledge that every human life matters, every unborn child is more than important, that baby is precious and a gift NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. This is why, abortion operates in darkness shrouded in secrets and shame.
The secret causes the victims to display many of the symptoms associated with PTSD. Abortion and PTSD share this description “A soul injury, an overlooked, unassessed wound that separates one from their own sense of self.”
The word secret is defined as “not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others; something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others. The skeleton in the closet; a discreditable or embarrassing fact that someone wishes to keep unknown.”
I cannot express to you more clearly how much I am 100% against abortion (the killing of innocent life). It has to STOP! As women we need to create a better, safe place where a woman can come and be encouraged, helped financially, physically, spiritually, and emotionally when they find themselves carrying a beautiful new life unexpectedly.
Now take it back a little farther to the root of the situation…intimacy belongs in the marriage bed between one man and one woman, not before! God has a design for us, a plan and every detail of His plan is found in the Bible. We destroyed His plan when man decided to call it sexual intercourse as if it was a function, sport or game instead of a precious gift to be shared, the “knowing” of someone is one way it is expressed in the Bible, for “two to become one” another. The price of intimacy outside of marriage and the painful results are well documented by God in the Bible. God knew how man would twist this precious gift and that is why He clearly explains His plan to keep intimacy a sacred gift within a covenant created by God.
Right now, I would like to address any unmarried woman as clearly as possible…First, a man who wants intimacy before marriage does not respect you and will never be the man you are looking for. Second, you do not have the “sexual desires” of a man that is a lie made up by men to fulfill their sinful desires. God also explains this plainly in His Word, just read the Song of Solomon.
I know you are probably thinking…who does this person think she is, she does not understand. BUT I do and I will say this…I know on a very personal level every sentence, action, emotion along with the price paid, the life lost to man’s wickedness the idea that it’s permissible for man to murder innocent unborn life. Please stay with me…keep reading.
The shame…let us talk about the symptoms associated with shame and abortion.
I found this statement from the National Library of Medicine. “Many women experience long-term emotional, spiritual, psychological, and interpersonal difficulties following abortion, including complicated grief, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and relationship disturbances. Guilt and shame play important roles in generating and concealing post-abortion symptoms.”
There is a great brokenness physically, spiritually and emotionally when a woman finds herself contemplating abortion, that’s when the secret and shame begin. She does not set the appointment or enter the “clinic” smiling and confident…NO…she is broken, lost, bitter and disappointed in herself that this is where that day is heading. Little girls play with baby dolls for a reason…God wired us to be the one to carry His gift of new life and to raise, nurture those children.
I cried for days after finding out I was carrying a child, unmarried, my mother said these words of encouragement to help “it’s just blood, cells, tissue”, “you are not capable of being a mother”, “this baby is better off not being born”. The shame and guilt overwhelming…my decision…how did I cope, I shoved every emotion, every dream down deep inside…like blowing out a bright candle cutting the wick so short it can never be lit again, my life changed forever…the path was one of self-destruction.
Pro-Choice would say “it’s your body so it’s your choice” that right there puts all the shame and guilt right on the woman. Abortion should never be a choice; should never enter a woman’s mind. Pro-Choice is man’s way of trying to justify their sexual habits and the killing of unborn children.
Those who suffer from post-abortion PTSD experience a disconnection with life. The shame will manifest itself into one or more behaviors, there is NO maybe…we find ourselves self-destructive, suicidal, victims of substance abuse or eating disorders, depression, extreme anxiety, suffering complicated grief, self-loathing, destructive relationships, even anger and violent behavior.
This is true for the Christian and non-Christian alike, each woman must come to grips with her decision, the death of her child at her own hands. There is a natural emotion to grieve the loss of life however in abortion those emotions are suppressed. Women feel they have no right to grieve because they were the ones who made the decision.
The non-Christian woman might be able to bury her decision and death of her child for a period of time. However, the truth is her conscience is built on God’s truth. She will still suffer, there is grief to be dealt with along with shame. She might find temporary excuses, distractions, however, her life will take a different course, who she is, her self-image, self-esteem will be built upon her decision and the death of her child. Anger, resentment, empty self-righteousness, over-achievement, stress, and anxiety, numbness take over, her life will spin out of control. Society will not see it, blame will be laid at her daily commute, finances, disappoint in her career, relationship issues to name a few. She will eventually seek help to cope with life based on man’s acceptable fixes which may or may not address the true root of her physical and emotional state. Self-help books or counseling lead to even a bigger sense of social separation and she reaches to medication eventually substance abuse.
The Christian woman will experience all the above and even more than the woman who does not know Christ. She has the Christian community who unknowing continue to condemn her. She seeks absolution outside of her church family, if she even has the strength to seek. You see, she knows that forgiveness is found in the blood of Jesus but not this…Christians are really good at ranking sin (wrong doing) from one to hundred. Scripture tells us that all sin is equal. She has listened to the lie whispered to her by Satan, possibly for many years, about how her decision and abortion has no forgiveness available. She gathers enough courage to seek out help within her church, unfortunately she witnesses the look of horror and condemnation on the well-meaning Christian she has finally reached out to. This is the hard truth in today’s church.
For me it took over 30 years to gain the courage needed, I had sought forgiveness at the cross after I became a Christian, but the damage done, the shame and guilt remained. The devil had done a work and I had punished myself experiencing most of post-abortion PTSD. So many years lost to self-loathing…
Through the love of some amazing women, I began to embrace God’s truth about forgiveness and sin. I know that God sent them to me when I was ready to forgive myself and accept His forgiveness. It is not an easy journey and I had to stand my ground as Satan tried over and over to destroy. Scripture was so key. My life verses of 2 Corinthians 10:5, Philippians 4:8, Hebrews 4:12 were my go-to every time the devil whisper lies. I had to allow God to cut the damaged flesh thinking vulnerable to Satan’s voice from my inner man, my God given spirit.
Today, I stand with confidence given through God and His forgiveness. I walk in His righteousness, His daughter, restored and free. There is still the pains of guilt a consequence of sin BUT more importantly there is hope that in my forever home my child is waiting. In fact, my story is now His story and He has given me to courage to speak His truth about secrets, shame and abortion from personal experience.
In closing, while researching for this blog, I stumbled onto an article written about women suffering under the weight abortion and how we as a church can help. The article called, ”Post-abortion Counseling” by Julie Ganschow, link can be found below. Here I have included some profound truth which I could not have said better…
Her article written in 2017 opens with this staggering truth…It is estimate that 43 percent of women under the age of forty-five have had an abortion. One is six women in the evangelical church.
Her article ends with these words of hope and our responsibility…
Bringing Gospel Hope. Along with watching the negative things that we say, we also have to actively bring gospel hope to her. Romans 8:1 is very clear that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. So we have to point her to Christ, to the freedom that comes in His forgiveness and His work on the Cross.
We can also turn to passages in the Psalms, particularly ones like Psalm 32:3–5, David’s response to his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. David says, “My body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me” (NASB). What a beautiful illustration of how a post-abortive woman feels. This guilt is weighing on me constantly. He continues, “My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.” Many of these post-abortive women express this idea that they are so burdened by this that it destroys their strength. It consumes them.
But then David says, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.’” And then, here’s the hope: “You forgave the guilt of my sin.” Even with murder and adultery, sexual sin and taking the life of another, his sins were forgiven. God provides restoration, and He provides freedom in Christ. We have to communicate these truths to hurting post-abortive women.
Ultimately, we desire healing through Christ for each post-abortive woman. In our awareness of the very real effects of abortion, as well as the impact of our words on these women, we have the opportunity to love them and point them toward Christ. As pastors and caregivers, we can point them to the One who brings true hope and true healing, but we must do it with grace and compassion rather than judgment or condemnation.
“He Leadeth Me Beside the Still Waters” Psalm 23:2 We get so caught up in the world, our circumstances that we become distracted from the one place we can find the refreshment we are all desperately looking for. David understood that only by the Good Shepherds leading can our emptiness, yearning and spiritual appetite be nourished. The Passion Translation puts it like this…”The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough. He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.” Verses 1-2 That “quiet brook of bliss” is found only in God, no amount of money, career recognition, accolades of physical or mental achievement, will satisfy the void, the empty place in our soul. Instead of going to the source we try drinking from the manmade watering holes of the world only to leave us unsatisfied. You see, the world is full of seemingly delicious delights however they are only a fleeting empty attempt to fill our supernatural spiritual soul.
As look back on my life…I have traveled, shopped, tasted the finest food and drink. These were all wonderful experiences, walking along the Seine in Paris, along many other adventures. Countless hours in the gym, dieting, spending money on my physical appearance believing that would help me surround myself and be regarded by the beautiful people, maybe even accepted and loved. Yet, I still found myself facing the same hollow, empty and unfilled thirst within. Even being a mother…left me aching for something more, oh please believe me I love all my children and my grandchildren however you see when your child reaches an age of spiritual thirst and you are lost to it as well, your ability to guide, love, meet their needs become lost, those once special moments of joy turn to frustration, disappointment, many times dissolution. But I digress from where this blog is leading…
Jeremiah wrote of the result “For My people have committed two evils: They have abandoned Me, the Fountain of Living Waters, to carve out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns…that do not hold water.” Verse 2:13 In my mind a picture is forming of broken lives, shattered hopes, lost dreams…withered souls…full of empty despair. And so, this hunger becomes broken families, relationships, sordid excesses. Our need to quench this spiritual thirst becomes an entrance for Satan to destroy what only the Good Shepherd can satisfy.
The Good Shepherd is where that thirst can be quenched, where contentment is found. Throughout the Bible God and Jesus are called the Shepherd and for good reason. We are so much like sheep. Let me explain, did you know that if sheep are thirsty and clean, refreshing water is not available they will drink of dirty, parasite infested puddles. You see, a thirst like ours needs the constant guidance of the loving shepherd who goes to great lengths to protect and provide the life giving water for his sheep. Our Good Shepard…leads us through His Word to the living water. This is the ultimate provision…Jesus made it clear that our thirsty souls can only be satisfied, content by drawing on Himself.
Matthew 5:6 AMP says “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.” Jesus spoke boldly to those in attendance that last night with His disciples “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” John 7:37 KJV Jesus knew what we would face, the wanting to satisfy our spiritual soul…He tells us “drink”, “take in”, “to accept” and yes there it is “to believe”. This belief moves from an idea of truth, to confidence in truth to a growing “knowing faith” in who Jesus is and who we are in Him. This restless thirst is sated only in Christ and a personal growing relationship with Him. Our earthly bodies, possessions and relationships are a fleeting part of who we really are, we are spiritual beings, God’s children, chosen, loved and cherish by the One True God, who cared so much for His creation…He sent Jesus, His Son, to lead us to the living water.
Drink Today! Let the Good Shepherd lead you to the “Brook of Bliss”, Worship and be Refreshed…
Further study of Psalm 23
This most powerful Psalm is used so many times at the end of one’s earthly existence, yet I find that it is life giving in so many ways. I have written it out for you here to explore on your own. Please explore for yourself the goodness of God found in these six verses recorded by King David a man by God’s own words who had “God’s Heart”.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I will not be in need.
Meaning: My identity is found with Him, I belong to Him, I declare that my Shepherd, God Himself supplies me with all I need.
2 He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
Meaning: He is the place of rest for my body and spirit, He refreshes and renews my spirit. I have drank of His Living Water so I live without fear.
3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For the sake of His name.
Meaning: He brings the spiritual healing needed daily to my inner person. Through His guidance I am made righteous in His sight to live for His purpose and pleasure alone.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Meaning: This life on earth is not easy but my Father, my Shepherd is with me always, His continual protection I receive, and I listen for His instruction making my flesh and mind obedient to His Truth. I am quick to repent and seek forgiveness.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
Meaning: He is my Hope in every situation, my Provision for my hunger, He fills all emptiness and fights for me, I am His Creation, In His image, and I am sanctified that is set apart, loved, and marked by You God as Your Child. Because of this my joy overflows and my heart is full of Your Love and Mercy.
6 Certainly goodness and faithfulness will follow me all the days of my life, And my dwelling will be in the house of the Lord forever.
Meaning: All this pouring out completes my life, gives me purpose, directs my life, I know Your Love Father, my Good Shepherd and I surrender to live in Your Will FOREVER! AMEN!
There are many ways to explore and soak in these beautiful words, one way might be to find confirming scripture to each verse. Pray these scriptures over yourself and add your name wherever possible. Our God and His Son Jesus our are Good Shepherds together with the Holy Spirit we can live out our lives with wonder and expectation…