Wealthy in Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings, Sister Laurie

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

Confidence

GERARD DOU PAINTING OLD WOMAN READING A LECTIONARY BIBLE – REMBRANDT’S MOTHER

People today live-in fear of death. There are organizations all over the words spending millions on research that will extend life and even prevent death. People are choosing to be frozen in hope that their body can be restored at some point in the future.

Isaiah talks about his body being a tent which is folded up as it dies. In 1 Corinthians 5:1NASB, Paul says “For we know that if our earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made by hands, eternal in the heavens.”  I share this scripture with you, because our flesh was not created to last and in this fallen world it is even more vulnerable to the wear and tear of life.  That is why God uses the word “tent” or in some translations “tabernacle” which was also made of canvas to describe where our spirit lives here on earth.  It weathers, grows rigid, and is torn as time goes by…yet God wants us to have confidence because our everlasting existence is found in our spirit.

We find ourselves distracted by this fear, making bucket lists, living indulgent lives trying to get it all in.  Paul writes to the church in Philippi these wonderful words while in prison…Philippians 1:23-26TPT, “So here’s my dilemma: Each day I live means bearing more fruit in my ministry; yet I fervently long to be liberated from this body and joined fully to Christ. That would suit me fine, but the greatest advantage to you would be that I remain alive. So, you can see why I’m torn between the two—I don’t know which I prefer.   Yet deep in my heart I’m confident that I will be spared so I can add to your joy and further strengthen and mature your faith.  When I am freed to come to you, my deliverance will give you a reason to boast even more in Jesus Christ.”

Notice the words in italics…Paul knows that his task of equipping, discipling and loving believers is not yet done.  He even says his desire is to be spared so he can add to their joy and strength as well as grow their faith.  He knows the wonder and pure joy of going home to be with Jesus, yet his spirit knows that his time on earth still is full of purpose.

The thief on the cross heard these words from Jesus…”And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”” Luke 23:42-43NASB

Death is better than to remain in the body, however, to stay in our temporary tent and serve God is to live in the joy of sharing Jesus with those we encounter.

Paul has found how to live in confidence, he keeps on living because he is compelled to continue teaching, serving and loving those God has placed around him.  We must pattern ourselves after Paul…

Paul knew with confidence that Jesus breaks the power of death in two ways;

  1. We live in confidence because Jesus destroyed the fear of death by breaking sin and death’s power over us through His death and resurrection.
  2. He gives eternal life to you and me when we make Him our Savior, in that, we now live with confidence to see Him face to face in Heaven.

Now with confidence embrace this truth… “In Jesus, my sisters, after listening to and reading in God’s Word the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise,  who is a first installment of our inheritance, in regard to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14 NASB personalized.

In closing my sisters in Jesus Christ, I urge you to live for Christ, make the most out of every day.  For not only is your time short but those around you time is short as well.  Embrace them in the love of Christ.

My prayer for you is that when you feel anxious or fearful, ask God to give you the confidence to live for Him and be set free from the fear of death.  Speak with the authority of heaven and cast out any spirit of anxiety in you!  Ask God to increase His power within you to say as Paul did…”For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Sister Laurie

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

Let Love Be the Defining Quality in Your Life

“So, let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat, drink, or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.”

Romans 14:19-21 MSG

Romans 14 speaks about how as believers we should make every effort to walk in love.  Here in verses 19-21, we see a wonderful example of using every encounter with others to love and live out our relationship with Jesus.  In the Greek translation the word “diokein” is used which translated “make every effort” or “to pursue”.  We should actively pursue peace and seek to build others up in order to bring about something which does not yet exist, that is the Blessed Hope, also known as the Rapture. Titus 2:11-14 tells us that our main pursuit in life should be to complete the work Jesus began so that He can return and bring an end to the forces of evil now operating on earth.  “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and in a godly manner in the present age,  looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, eager for good deeds.”

Are you a stumbling block for others?  Verse 13 tells us to “Make up your mind not to put any obstacle in your sister’s way.”  This is love lived out, are you participating in behaviors or having an attitude that drags others into wrong thinking or clouds their ability to be delivered from Satan’s grip?  Maybe you have been delivered and you yourself find arrogance and pride welling up because you have walk out of your sinful past.  Do others see you as being better than them based on your attitude? There is sin attached to that way of living and thinking.  Jesus tells us we must remain humble at all times, knowing that you are not the one who redeemed you BUT your freedom and redemption comes through Jesus Christ alone.

Food was being used as an example in the main scripture because many of the new believers were of Jewish heritage and pork was consider unclean and could not be eaten, it also speaks of wine in other translations as well.  Obviously, if someone is working through their deliverance from alcohol, as a believer we should honor that deliverance by abstaining from any alcohol to help encourage them. This also speaks of words we speak, attitudes or any behavior not honoring our Heavenly Father.  As the scripture says “Don’t eat, drink, or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.” Romans 14:21 MSG

Many times, the taming of our own flesh is challenged as we are called to “build one another up”, promote spiritual growth…Romans 15:3-6MSG says “That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever He will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!”  Let Jesus be your example!

Jesus welcomed each one of us when we came to Him in faith…regardless of ethnic origin, cultural background, or position.  Union with Jesus Christ overrides differences and forms a common bond among believers.  When we accept one another we glorify God.

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love and seek the best for one another; for he who unselfishly loves his neighbor has fulfilled the essence of the law relating to one’s fellowman.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and any other commandment are summed up in this statement: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor it never hurts anyone. Therefore, unselfish love is the fulfillment of the Law.”  Romans 13:8-10AMP

“Owe nothing to anyone” in other words “no debt” this was spoken in regards to being diligent in paying taxes, tribute, honor and  respect they are to be paid in full.  However, there is a continuing debt to be paid out…the debt of love.  And that needs to be seen in every opportunity.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” sums up the entire law…how can you love when you gossip or speak ill of another person, maybe you are jealous, covet or have unforgiveness still corrupting the work Jesus wants to do in your spirit. 

So how then can you activate “love” or in other words express your faith.   Here are six ways that will help you activate Christ like love in your daily life.

  1. Invest your life in others.
  2. Be careful to give ONLY Godly advice as well as be an excellent listener.
  3. Bring the best out of people through affection and encouragement.
  4. Forgive…be willing to forgive even when there is no repentance.
  5. Make the world a better place by acts of kindness.
  6. Intercede daily for those you encounter in prayer before the throne of grace.

Every opportunity, every encounter will fail if your motive is for selfish gain…let me explain.  Many times, we give of our time and finances in expectation of a return, we see opportunities as investment with an earthly return instead of a kingdom return.  Seek the love of your Heavenly Father, every investment here on earth will see a heavenly return.

That hurting sister that you prayed for who you tirelessly share Jesus with…will greet you with loving arms in Heaven, as Jesus welcomes you home!  Make it then your life’s pursuit, your “love walk”…receive these words…“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-3ESV

When the trumpet sounds…may you and I be known…for the love we demonstrate to others!

Sister Laurie

God’s Design

 “Older women similarly are to be respectful, loving reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor addicted to much wine, teaching what is right and good, so that they may encourage the young women to tenderly love their husbands and their children,  to be sensible, pure, makers of a home [where God is honored], good-natured, being subject (respecting) to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”  Titus 2:3-5 AMP personalized

While waiting for my granddaughter to come out of Zoo Camp. God gave me this scripture; He began to speak to me about His design and how we His children have abandoned His Truth. As I sat in my car right in front of me another car parked.  A gentleman (the father) and a young woman (the mother) got out of the SUV.  The father opened the back, and the mother began organizing their wagon with all the snacks, water bottles and other necessities for a day at the zoo. The couple worked together in harmony, each keenly aware of what needed to be done.  The father got their youngest out of his car seat.  I was witnessing God’s design right before my eyes…God spoke clearly and said, “This has always been my design”.  Keeping an observant eye, the dad and mom watched as more littles poured out of the SUV, there were 3 girls in pink shirts and 2 little boys in orange shirts all matching so dad and mom could quickly identify their children.  As the father lovingly held one of the daughter’s hands and pulled the wagon with the youngest riding. Mom was walking alongside with the others.  Tears came to my eyes as I thought of how we have corrupted and abandoned this beautiful design of one man and one woman teaching their daughters and sons how to be who God created them to be…

Children today have been abandoned by their parents.  Fathers and mothers are consumed with their own lives, selfishly existing, electronic devices, social media has destroyed relationships, sadly the parents look to how many “likes” their TickTok, Instagram, Snap Chat pictures are receiving to find fulfillment. Broken families now Co-parent as if to say, having one Mom and one Dad together is no longer valued. They put their children in a variety of sports and activities that move everyone further away from God’s design for the family. Parents google how to handle everyday life raising children instead of going to their parents or other older adults for wisdom and answers who have already experienced raising a family.  These same parents never consider that the answers to raising a family and having a loving, fulfilling marriage is found in God’s Word. The internet has taken the place of Godly instruction, subtly corrupting God’s design.

The principles of teaching our sons to be gentlemen and daughters to be ladies has been abandoned to girls wrestling and playing football.  Likewise, boys are not being taught to be gentlemen, leaders, to love and respect girls. Scripture is clear…God knew this time would come, that people would dismiss the importance of training a child in the way that he or she should go, the Bible says…

“Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 AMP

The pressure is on for our children to fit in an ever changing and corrupted identity.  The Barbie doll image for girls which put pressure on girls to be arm candy for men with no real depth has changed into girls dressing as boys and wanting to be identified as male.  How wrong both are for females…God created each of us to be beautiful and unique, God is the “ beholder” and true beauty is through His eyes. The devil has twisted our sexual identity and made it something perverted.  Instead of women feeling blessed to be female and cherishing our position as the ones who carry new life as mothers, women believe they are sexually and physically aggressive,  one example is serving as combat soldiers in the military.  The word “equal” has been twisted, we are not “equal” in this context and should not desire to be.  Please don’t miss understand…we need women in the military to serve in many areas, but combat is not one of them. The devil has tried to destroy the distinction between men and woman however complete breakdown will never be achieved because every time we put a female in a position meant for a male we compromise the outcome.  A clear example is young girls wrestling against young men.  If our young men are being taught (as God planned) to be gentlemen (respect and protect) then grabbing a girl and pinning her on the ground is an uncomfortable task for the young man.  Likewise, on the battlefield, if a woman is partnered with a male, in a critical situation the male soldier hesitates as God’s design says protect “her” the female soldier at all cost.  I pray you see what I am trying to desperately to explain.  Hollywood tries frantically to show women as aggressive and physically equal to men.  Humanity and the devil attempt to destroy God’s design for us however since we are spiritual beings placed in our earthly bodies by God deep within us the Truth, God’s Truth is there.  We are extremely strong and capable but not in the way world portrays us.

If we read and embrace the Proverbs Woman, our qualities are revealed, she is strong, gifted and capable.  Each of us has all of these characteristics in us.  God told us here in scripture and throughout the Bible who we are and what a wonderful position we hold in God’s design and kingdom.

So, what am I asking you? Go back to the Titus scripture…stop gossiping, speaking poorly of one another, don’t be corrupted by any substance that distorts your ability to hear God, communicate, think and walk in God’s ways.  Love the women around you lifting them up and building confidence.  Teaching one another the truth of God and how to be leaders and mothers to the future generations according to God’s design.

Love, Sister Laurie

The Wretched Man

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.

Be Blessed,

Sister Laurie