Faithfulness

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

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

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

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

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

  1. DO NOT Look to the World for Guidance

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

  • DO NOT Compare

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

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

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

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

  • Be Honest with Yourself

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

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

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

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

Blessings, Sister Laurie

Grateful

Greetings to all of you, my sisters in Jesus Christ. Several weeks ago I began praying for a scripture and word from God for this coming year. Some might call this a vision for the coming year and in the past I have written out the vision as God gave it to me. This year it was different, God gave me one scripture and then one word to study on, meditate on and let them motivate me to remain faithful and patience in 2022. To keep moving forward allowing God to be my direction and center.

“For we reach the goal of fulfilling all the commandments when we love others deeply with a pure heart, a clean conscience, and sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5 TPT

This scripture touched me deeply, love and learning to love as God loves us is so key in our life. Many of the struggles you and I have come from our inability to love and forgive as God has directed us.

As you might have guessed the word God gave me is “Grateful”. I believe we just don’t spend enough time expressing our gratitude to God and those around us. The word “grateful” is defined as “feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful; conscious of benefit received, affording pleasure or contentment : PLEASING, pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated.” God’s Word and science tells us that living in an attitude of gratefulness is beneficial to both our spiritual and physical being.

Your ability to be grateful is directly related to the level of joy in your life and how you handle anxiety. It is impossible for both joy and anxiety to be present at the same time within you. The root of anxiety is found in your desire to control…the people you love, your co-workers, your physical environment, career. It is said that control is an illusion, never really attained because you don’t know what is going to happen next. Moreover, your mind is prone to discontentment, wanting what is out of your reach. Over thinking, dwelling upon that next material thing, success, popularity, status that somehow will give you the control you desire. This develops into anxiety which lends itself to chaos, the feeling of being out of control, and so a vicious cycle ensues. Being thankful requires you to relinquish your control.

The Apostle Paul understood this cycle all too well and God gave him the answer to finding the lasting joy we all desire. Philippians 4:6-8TPT says “Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell Him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ. Keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable, and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising Him always.”

I have spent the day researching the how to of living in a grateful state, it is there where the joy and peace of God exists. Not surprisingly, there are many articles both Christian and secular that speak about living in a grateful state. There are two common thoughts; first, it is a decision and secondly, it is important to have people around you how are pursuing this joy as well. We must rid ourselves of the naysayers, and cynics. It is far more enjoyable to spend time with someone who is grateful and positive than it is to be with someone who is negative and self-consumed. Gratefulness frees you from your negativity so that you can be more open in your relationship with God and people. Let me put it very plainly…God is calling us to gather and pray with one another to build one another up not tear down, not dwell, our prayer life must be full of thanksgiving and gratefulness directed at what God has done, is doing and will do. I’m not saying that we should not bring our concerns to God BUT our sincere gratefulness must outweigh the concerns. Gratefulness must be cultivated by being involved in small groups, attending church, serving, praying with others.

I have put together a list of thoughts and scripture for you to embrace in your journey to live gratefully.

  1. Be grateful in every situation, leaning on God…this gratitude positions us in God’s will.
    God’s will is found in obedience. There are three areas your life you must focus on: (1) living in God’s unrestricted joy, (2) praying continually, and (3) giving thanks to God no matter what happens in your life. These three virtues combine to form the wonderful expression of Christ’s life within us. “Let joy be your continual feast, joyous in every season. Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18TPT
  2. God’s love is the only thing that will last forever.
    Do you remember before you surrendered to God, you held on to all the hurt, you were unlovable; self-centered, and focusing on pleasing yourself. Now let this sink in…God looked down and loved you, the sacrifice of His Son was for you, Jesus Christ died for you. Right now, give thanks to God because you are loved passionately and without condition. “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!.” 1 Chronicles 16:34AMPC
  3. Be grateful for the abilities God has given you.
    As His daughter, you have the ability to show your gratefulness to God in action. The way in which you treat those around you, despite their behavior, is the outpouring of your love for God. It is God who gives us the strength to give, serve and work. When you have this attitude, even the most difficult task can be accomplished through your love for God. Simply put when you love God you love people. “Let the word of Christ live and grow in you richly, flooding you with all wisdom. Apply the Scriptures as you teach and instruct one another with the Psalms, and with festive praises, and with prophetic songs given to you spontaneously by the Spirit, so sing to God with all your hearts! Let every activity, commitment of your lives and every word, promise, oath that comes from your lips be drenched with the beauty of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. And bring your constant praise to God the Father because of what Christ has done for you!” Colossians 3:16-17 TPT
  4. Be grateful for God’s deliverance.
    Without God you would be hopelessly lost. Only through the power of Jesus Christ, you are given the strength to rise above your sinful nature and overcome the desires of the flesh. You may have been saved while still snared by the lies of Satan, held captive. BUT through the Holy Spirit, you now have been set free. YES God! “My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up in you the power of endurance. And then as your endurance grows even stronger, it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.” James 1:2-4TPT
  5. Be grateful for God’s miraculous hand over your life.
    Always be thankful, giving God the glory and make sure that others know that this freedom you now have comes from God alone. There is no such thing as coincidence or luck, only by the hand of God and His intention for your life may you perceive how God is working things out for good in your life. So, with boldness declare God’s goodness daily. “I will worship you, Yahweh, with extended hands as my whole heart erupts with praise! I will tell everyone everywhere about your wonderful works!” Psalm 9:1TPT
  6. Let your praise of gratefulness be in every prayer.
    Even before you see the answer…give God your praise. Thank Him just for listening, your attitude of gratefulness ushers a spirit of expectancy in our prayers. “Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell Him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:6-7TPT
  7. The good things in your life are ALL because of God.
    Make sure you thank God continually in all things big and small. This is your mission to speak with love, spread the Truth of God. “Everyone come meet His face with a thankful heart. Don’t hold back your praises; make Him great by your shouts of joy! For the Lord is the greatest of all, King-God over all other gods!” Psalm 95:2-3
    “Then my song will be a burst of praise to You. My glory-shouts will make Your fame even more glorious to all who hear my praises!” Psalm 69:30TPT
    “God always makes His grace visible in Christ, who includes us as partners of His endless triumph. Through our yielded lives He spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere we go.” 2 Corinthians 2:14TPT
  8. Gratitude helps you see God.
    Gratitude glorifies God not for the gifts you have received but the Truth of who He is, Today, give all your praise to the Giver! Gratitude helps you realize all you have comes not because of you, but from God. Gratitude helps you enter into His presence, feel His personal care and experience His prefect timing. Dear sister, be careful to not be fooled or turn to sin to get what you want. “So, my friends, don’t be fooled by your own desires! Every gift or legacy God freely gives us is complete, wholesome, abundant, sufficient, enough, and perfect, streaming down from the Father of lights, who shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness and is never subject to change.” James 1:16-17TPT
  9. Find contentment in Gratitude, let it deepen your faith.
    If you are not satisfied with what God has given you, more will not satisfy you either. Being thankful is the key to contentment. Keep a record of God’s past faithfulness and look back and reflect when a new challenge comes. Remember where you came from and who you are now as God’s child. Re-evangelize yourself by sharing what God has done and how you are now free. This will deepen your faith and lead you to the joy you are seeking. “We have a “profit” that is greater than theirs—our holy awe of God! To have merely our necessities is to have enough. Isn’t it true that our hands were empty when we came into the world, and when we leave this world our hands will be empty again? Because of this, food and clothing is enough to make us content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8TPT
    “Let everyone thank God, for He is good, and He is easy to please! His tender love for us continues on forever!” Psalm 136:1TPT
    “It was like a dream come true when You freed us from our bondage and brought us back to Zion! We laughed and laughed and overflowed with gladness. We were left shouting for joy and singing Your praise. All the nations saw it and joined in, saying, “The Lord has done great miracles for them!” Yes, He did mighty miracles, and we are overjoyed!” Psalm 126:1-3TPT
  10. Gratitude confronts Satan’s lies.
    This is my warning to you against evil. There are many scriptures that will testify of Satan’s plan to kill, steal and destroy you. He is jealous, he hates us and is a great deceiver. However, true gratitude for God and the abundance God gives protects us from falling victim to the enemy’s lies. Gratitude helps us live in the present and guards against envy. It is impossible to be thankful and jealous at the same time. Do not romance your past, your memory is distorted by evil. “For the Lord God is brighter than the brilliance of a sunrise! Wrapping Himself around me like a shield, He is so generous with his gifts of grace and glory. Those who walk along His paths with integrity will never lack one thing they need, for He provides it all!.” Psalm 84:11TPT
    “Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.” Ecclesiastes 7:10AMP
    “I thank you, Lord, and with all the passion of my heart, I worship You in the presence of angels! Heaven’s mighty ones will hear my voice as I sing my loving praise to You.” Psalm 138:1TPT

This writing has been long, I pray it ministers to you and sets you on a course to join me this year in being grateful for all God has done and continues to do in your life and mine as well. I leave you with this last Word of Truth…Gratitude is your testimony! Gratefulness, thanksgiving creates a fire in your spirit that burns bright and hot giving you and I the confidence to tell others.

“Go ahead and give God thanks for all the glorious things He has done! Go ahead and worship Him! Tell everyone about His wonders!” Psalm 105:1TPT

Sister Laurie
JesusTruth 1/4/2022

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

Blessings, Sister Laurie

I want to acknowledge those that helped in my search for a deepen understanding of what it means to give God our Gratitude.
Real Joy by Pastor Akshay Rajkumar the lead Pastor of Redeemer Church in New Delphi, India. It is available on RightNow Media.com
15 Thankful Bible Verses to Remind You the Power of Prayer, by Sophia Caraballo, 11/24/2019
Top 7 Bible Verses About being Grateful, by Crystal McDowell

We Have the Authority – Part I

Greetings to all my sisters in Jesus Christ! This is a week to take time to be thankful for the love we have from the Father and the  position we hold in His Kingdom as Daughters of the Most High King! Hallelujah! Lift your hands and praise Him, the one who give us life through His Son Jesus!

A beautiful sister in Jesus asked me to answer an important question a couple weeks ago, I felt in my heart I knew the answer, but I decided to do some research as well.  That being said… these words are not all my own, but they do reflect what I believe God would have me share on the subject of Footholds and Strongholds.

I want to open up with a prayer for revelation not only for myself but for all of you who are receiving this word.  I believe that we are all vulnerable to not only demonic oppression but also possession throughout our earthly life…believer and non-believer alike. Pray with me now…

“Heavenly Father, as we look to Your Word for answers, gather understanding from other godly believers, I pray that You God would give us the battle-ready armor and weapons upon which we wear to fight against the enemies attempts to distract and destroy Your chosen children. God give each one of us a hunger and thirst for only You God. We thank You God for how far You have brought us and now we look to go deeper in knowing You intimately and for You God to train us to use the weapons of spiritual warfare that You have provided for us. Reveal to us the strongholds in our lives and give us the courage to fight and demolish anything within us that is not of You! Thank You God for the men and women of God who have brought insight, bless them, and thank You God for Your written Word which fills us with hope and power to defeat the evil! AMEN!”

Let us begin by defining…Footholds and Strongholds.

Pastor Steve Berger defines strongholds as “A satanic lie, A generational mindset or a human wounding that you have listened to long enough, believed strongly enough and owned deeply enough that it has become part of your identity. It has fortified itself in you and dictates your thought, beliefs, actions, and reactions. It is an unholy filter through which all thoughts pass.”  Strongholds can include feelings of shame, condemnation, unforgiveness, rejection, depression, addiction, pride, unbelief, anger, and defeat. This stronghold or firm grip on our mind, spirit, body, or heart will enslave  you and I…motivating us to act out against God’s will through repeated sinful behavior.

Footholds are similar, however to me they might be considered a steppingstone before a stronghold is established or a foothold that feeds an existing stronghold.  A foothold starts out as a lie that we believe to be truth, we haven’t tested it against what God says and so we let it fester which lead us into unrepentant sin. As the unchecked lie gains momentum in our life and we began making decisions based on the lie…Satan gains ground in our lives and soon that seemingly small untruth has become a stronghold making it harder to hear the voice of your Forever Father God. Your ability to see yourself and those around you through God’s eyes grows dim.

Ultimately, the false belief is so deeply entrenched in your thinking that Satan can safely operate your life as if he were protected within the walls of a strong fortress. You see, you will defend the sin, the thought, the lie by making excuses, walking in the shadow, and isolating yourself. All Footholds and Stronghold have their beginning in our mind, just as all sin begins with a thought.

Satan and evil spirits know that if they can establish a stronghold in your mind they can control your mind.  Once they have control of your mind they can control all of you in other words when Satan has a hold of your mind, he blinds you to the truth. Unfortunately,  unbeliever or someone who has not been Born Again has their mind already held captive by Satan. This is where physical manifestations occur including illness, sickness, self-destruction, and addictions. 

There is good news coming…we overcome the devil’s schemes when we understand how he oppresses us and how we must defeat him. Paul tells us clearly one of the more common ways Satan gains a foothold,  Ephesians 4:26-27MSG he warns, “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”

In this writing I will address two of the more common strongholds…Bitterness and Fear.

BITTERNESS:  (long-held unforgiveness)  is defined as “multilayered emotion that has been described as a mixture of disappointment, disgust, anger, and fear. Bitterness can be aroused in the face of insult, injury or trauma. If not quickly dealt with bitterness grows into hate, leading to hostile actions.”  In the Bible bitterness is referred to as a posion, pungent, an acid which destroys.

Let us look at an example of how bitterness manifests into hate. When you are offended or emotionally wounded, becoming angry or embittered, you may think things such as:

  1. If I forgive the person who offended me, he/she will just hurt me again.
  2. By holding onto my anger, I can punish the one who offended me.
  3. The offense is so egregious i.e., traumatic, physical and or mentally appalling, I cannot forgive.

There is no truth in any of these thinking patterns. Wrong thinking leads to wrong behavior which is sinful disobedience of God’s instruction and in direct conflict of Christ’s sacrifice. Through unwillingness to forgive, the devil gains a foothold which quickly seeks out and builds upon other offenses or trauma you may have built a stronghold around. The walls of the stronghold harbor the lies, the justification and wrong thinking or behavior.

Only through complete forgiveness can we destroy the stronghold of bitterness and hate. The forgiveness required is not for one who hurt or offended you, it is so that no stronghold of bitterness can be formed within you. No matter how traumatic the incident, the abuse, verbal or physical we must go before our Lord and forgive them. God tells us he will take care of our transgressors. God gives us an amazing example of forgiveness found in Acts 7, Stephen had been speaking to a group of high priests, sharing the gospel using the history of the saints found in the Old Testament to bring the truth of Jesus Christ to them. We find in verses 57-60 they turned on him, drove him from the city where they stoned him to death. Verse 60 says it all, “Then he fell on his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.”  Forgiveness is not a choice, it is an absolute, Jesus died for us allowing us to be forgiven, therefore, we MUST forgive.

Hanging on the bitterness is self-destructive and poisons the soul (the place where our mind, will and emotions exist).

 Hebrews 12:15 says “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”

Ephesians 4:30-32 tells us, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

1 Corinthians 13:5 reminds us that if we say we love God we must also love people and with that we “do not keep an account of a wrong suffered.”

FEAR: is defined in the dictionary as, “an unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined.” While this may hold some truth…the true definition of fear is “the absence of faith.”  The absence of faith is nothing more than the absence of God’s Word, lack of an intimate relationship with God which is grounded in truth and trust, simple stated fear is nothing more that ignorance or laziness to find out what God’s Word says and walk in the fullness of who you are in Christ.

Romans 1:19-20TPT says “In reality, the truth of God is known instinctively, for God has embedded this knowledge inside every human heart. Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance, because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities of God’s nature have been made visible, such as his eternal power and transcendence. He has made his wonderful attributes easily perceived, for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible. So then, this leaves everyone without

Excuse.”

Jesus confronts the disciples when they were crossing the sea and “a great windstorm arose and the waves beat against the boat”, read Mark 4:35-40. The disciples quickly cried out saying “do you not care we are perishing?”  Jesus’ responds with three questions:

  1. Why are you fearful?
  2. How is it that you have no faith?
  3. Where is your faith?

Anyone with a stronghold of fear MUST ask these same questions, the answers will reveal the source of the stronghold and how it was established. It is then that you can begin to take down the mental fortress of fear.

Let us look closer at the three questions.

  1. Why are you fearful? What is the reason for your fear, and does it have any rational truth to it? Most fear is nothing more than unintelligent or foolish reaction to something that may not even exist. If you do fear something you must ask yourself “Have I elevated this fear above God’s Word?”
  2. How is it that you have no faith? Jesus is rebuking the disciples, you and I included. When you read it in the Greek it screams of sarcasm.  He is saying to us…Do you believe my Words?
  3. Where is your faith? Mic Drop! Here is the heart of the issue…what are you trusting in? If your confidence and trust is not in God’s Word then anything else is sure to disappoint you at some point.  God NEVER disappoints, it is our skewed  perspective, God tells us over and over He will never leave us or forsaken us.

Fear when left to grow within us causing us to isolate ourselves, become increasingly unable to be around other people, some suffer with not being able to leave their home or even room. This is mental imprisonment fueled by the enemie’s lies now believed and lifted higher than the truth of Jesus Christ and God’s Word.

In a separate writing I will speak of the manifestation of fear deeper. Here are examples where fear brought great difficult to God’s people.

Isaiah 36 is the account of King Hezekiah and his people being held captive by the lies spoken by the king of Assyria (Satan) this siege went on for 4 years, only God’s Truth could set them free.

Exodus 3 Moses was afraid when God told him to leave his humble profession of shepherding to confront Pharaoh to release the Israelites.

Numbers 13 The ten leaders Moses sent to scout the Promised Land were afraid of the giants they saw and that led to another 40 years of wandering in the desert.

Jonah 1 Jonah was a prophet sent by God to preach to the people of Nineveh but was afraid of the command. As such, he was swallowed by a big fish when running away and stayed there for three days and three nights.

Bitterness and fear permit the devil to infiltrate our mind, these footholds and strongholds rob us of the peace and joy God has for us, it keeps us at arm’s length of the intimate relationship God desires to have with you and me. There are the other ways in which evil spirits gain access to our lives making us vulnerable to demonic attack in part two I will address how deception, rebellion, pride, habitual sin, generational sin and the occult (false religions) are a gateway to strongholds.

The door for spiritual attack in our life is opened by sins we commit as well as the sins committed against us. There are numerous articles and books on the subject of “spiritual warfare” they reveal that there are several areas of sin through which the enemy finds entrance into our lives, so that he can as scriptures says, “A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy.” John 10:10TPT 

However, the verse does not end there so right now claim this as a refreshing truth in your life “But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow!”  Let that sink in!

We have all we need to defeat any evil spirits and destroy any stronghold within us. Once we embrace this truth, we must go to the scriptures for freedom.

My life scriptures are those which bring the breaking of strongholds, so I will start with those and in Part Two I will bring more weapons and ways of dealing not only footholds and strongholds but defeating the strongman as well.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6NKJV personalized  “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare (God’s Word, Prayer, Deliverance, Worship and Confession) are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments (lies, deception, opinions, theories, and philosophies) and every high thing (material possession, status, position, behavior) that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,  and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”

For me I give special attention to 2 Corinthians 10:5, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”  Now this is an important stage it will require you to be disciplined in taking captive wrong thinking, the infiltrated thoughts by the enemy before they escalate and take hold.

That same scripture in The Passion Translation puts it like this “We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and breakthrough every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One.”

Once we identify the thought be it cloaked in bitterness or fear, we know there is an evil spirit behind it.  There is  a two-step process…

First, we rebuke it out loud… you have the authority through Jesus Christ, Matthew 10:1 NKJV says “He gave them (you and I) power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. When addressing evil spirits or the devil we must speak it out loud, he cannot read our minds or spirit, he can only suggest to our mind.

Secondly, we now take control over your emotions if they are engaged, maybe even your physical body and tell them to be still. We shift our focus. Paul wrote the following scripture while in prison, he knew the battle in his mind needed to be obedient to God’s truth and not his physical environment. Philippians 4:8 tells us to give our attention to whatever is…

               True: Truth combats lies, it gives us and keeps us free.

               Noble: Honorable, honest, moral

               Just: Innocent, holy

               Pure: Modest, chaste, humble

               Lovely: Friendly, welcoming, and accepting

               Of Good Report: Reputable, well spoken, trustworthy

               Virtuous: Excellence, valiant, right with God

               Praiseworthy: Commendable, holy, and good

This is what Jesus did that night in the boat…He identified the wind or spirit behind it (the evil spirit attempting to prevent them from crossing the sea)and rebuked it (cast out).  Then He spoke to the physical conditions wind and waves saying “Hush, be still.”  Immediately the sea was calm, and the wind/spirit left.

In closing, I pray I have not given you more questions but answers! 

Here is a basic prayer to get you started in defeating footholds and strongholds, speak to God without reservation, repent quickly and ask Him to restore you.

Father God, instruct the Holy Spirit who is regarded as the Spirit of Truth to reveal and guide me in all truth.  I submit myself to You and ask that you would look deep within me and reveal any area of my life in which I have made vulnerable to demonic attack.  (John 16:13)  It is the desire of my heart to recognize and destroy footholds and strongholds that evil spirits may have established in order to influence my thoughts and actions. Once revealed help me to stand on Your Word, to use every spiritual weapon and destroy anything that would  separate me from you God. God I give you all praise and glory and am thankful for all you have done in my life and continue to do. AMEN (Psalm 21:2, Ephesians 4:26-27; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Romans 8:39)

Blessings, Sister Laurie

Thank you to the following amazing men of God for their insight and inspiration.

Pastor Steve Berger, “Winning the Mind Wars, Tearing Down Strongholds Through Prayer”, Grace Chapel, Franklin TN 

Pastor Gary Costella, Awesome Church, Sydney Australia

Boomerang

Greetings in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ! I was out working in my flower beds and my husband was moving the lawn we were sharing earpieces and listening to the same worship music.  The song “Stay” by William McDowell was playing…God just started downloading and as He was my husband came up to me and put his arms around me, he began tearfully praying  while I could not hear his prayer I could feel the Holy Spirit surrounding us.

The lyrics of the song go something like this…

I know what it’s like, To be in the presence of the Lord And not know what time it is, Because time stood still

And bodies were healed, Families restored Because we stayed here, In the presence of the Lord

No one had to say a word, Couldn’t even make a sound But I’d give up everything, For this treasure I’ve found

I never want it to end…

In that moment God was saying…stay focused on Me, Stay with Me, Hold My Truth Close…Now my daughter spread your wings and share My Truth…Send it out…BEYOND! I have you in My arms He said, I have your Children and Loved Ones in My arms those battles have been won NOW move out and pour out!

Isaiah 40:31 is what God was saying to me…”Yet those who wait for the Lord, Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”

So many people spend their Christian walk micromanaging instead of seeing God’s purpose. Solomon realized this to late, he lived a life of a blessed King, every comfort, the platitudes of victory rang in his life so much so that he lost sight of his purpose, the one God had given him. He thought I have rebuilt the temple, I have made the holy sacrifices, followed the law and yet it left him wanting.  He realized this truth towards the end of his earthly life and penned the book of Ecclesiastes as a warning to us. God inspired him to write of how we can become caught up in meaningless living.  Even our search for knowledge is as “striving after wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:17-18) What is wisdom without Kingdom Truth. Our prayers become no more than fleshy pleading for ourselves, our wayward children, dissatisfaction in our careers. Our desire to find happiness is what we pray and those empty prayers only leave us empty and hungry.

Do you find your prayers unanswered? The troubles seem unsurmountable, your relationships remain broken…your thinking “Why me?”  May I offer these scriptures, “What is the cause of your conflicts and quarrels with each other? Doesn’t the battle begin inside of you as you fight to have your own way and fulfill your own desires? You jealously want what others have so you begin to see yourself as better than others. You scheme with envy and harm others to selfishly obtain what you crave—that’s why you quarrel and fight. And all the time you don’t obtain what you want because you won’t ask God for it! And if you ask, you won’t receive it for you’re asking with corrupt motives, seeking only to fulfill your own selfish desires.” James 4:1-3 NASB  The believers in the early church had not learned how to set aside offense, their selfish desire to have it their way was affecting their relationship with God and those around them. Their prayers went unanswered because of their bitter, selfish, prideful attitude was like a great wall separating them from walking in God’s truth, satisfying their thirst and hunger.

James 5:17 TPT says this “Confess and acknowledge how you have offended one another and then pray for one another to be instantly healed, for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer!”

I encourage you to spend time with God not asking for anything but giving Him your best praise!  Pray scriptures of praise that speak of His goodness! Philippians 4:4-8 tells us in the passion translation “Be cheerful with celebration in every season of life. Let your joy overflow! And let gentleness be seen in every relationship, for our Lord is ever near. Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life,  then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ. Keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable, and admirable, beautiful, and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.”

Now embrace these words from your Father, “The moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:26-28 MSG

Here is the boomerang, what we send out is what we get back…in our relationship with God and in this world… our ability to be “in His presence” is directly affected by our relationship with Him, time spent in His Word, at His feet and just worship Him for ALL He has done, All His is doing and What He is about to do!

Blessings, Sister Laurie

All We Need God’s Grace

As I open my Bible I am drawn to Philippians 2:12-14MSG which says “What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God Himself willing and working at what will give Him the most pleasure.”

 Paul had just reminded the church at Philippi what Jesus had done on the cross and he is encouraging them to not forget but to live out this Truth that God saved us and is at work in us.  We must ask ourselves are we totally living the supernatural wonder of our salvation in our words and actions? Do we talk about being a Christian, yet our lives do not reflect this truth? Why are we unsuccessful in sharing our wonderful Savior Jesus with others?

We are called to show the Truth by our lives, not just tell the Truth by our words.  There is that old saying that “talk is cheap”, this can be truly seen in the body of believers today.  We come and hear the Word of God spoke on Sundays yet the minute we leave the parking lot we become discontent because the car in front of you is not moving fast enough or on their phone.  We are an frustrated, unsatisfied people grumbling when the server at breakfast doesn’t refill the coffee soon enough.  We even twit or post our grumbling on social media.  Social media has become a platform for discontent and grumbling, there is no consideration for how what we say and do will affect others.  So now we don’t only voice our negative opinion to the person next to us at church, the market or any gathering we spill it out there on the web for all to see! We must become aware that when we attend church, gather with other believers God’s presence surrounds us with beauty of God’s Words, our worship, the pastor or teacher’s lesson, yet if we are harboring a grumbling thought or share a negative opinion it undermines the power of the gospel, in fact it inhibits the work of the gospel even in social media.

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is the source not your pleasures that wage war in your body’s parts?  You lust and do not have, so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend what you request on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3NASB

We have lost our moral compass…we are selfish, self-indulgent, self-centered, and self-pleasing only seeking what makes the minutes in our day work out the way we want. Ouch!  This is brutal truth…we grumble, argue, blame, and complain…having it our way at any cost.  We hear people say, “It’s just the way I am” as they selfishly walk through life.

1 Peter 2:12MSG  tells us “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life in your neighborhood so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when He arrives.” 

We find ourselves like the people of Babel wanting more, Genesis 11:4 says, “And they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let’s make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of all the earth.” They believed if they could build a tower as high as God they could attain importance, a title, a throne as mighty as Gods in power unable to be defeated, in essence to be just like God. How incredibly sad that they didn’t understand that God was with them working in them…if they would only open their hearts (spirit) to Him, they could not see the beauty of our creator and how His love for them was enough.  These people did not have to build a tower; they could have experienced a wealth and security far more enduring then found in a building made of rock.  An eternal, everlasting wealth in a personal relationship with God. 

God saw today coming, He gives a warning to us found in Philippians 2:14-16NASB, “Do all things without complaining or arguments; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding firmly the word of life, so that on the day of Christ I can take pride because I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.”

Superficial, shallow things of the world will never satisfy our hearts (spirit) because this spirit we have within us, placed there by God is supernatural and hungers for God’s supernatural provision.  It is here we find God’s grace, as the song says  “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”.

Psalm 2:11 personalized tells us  “Serve the Lord with reverence, devotion and rejoicing in wholehearted delight…that is hold firm and celebrate with trembling”. This trembling also spoken of as fear  is “feeling the awe” this awe is experiencing, is knowing God’s Truth intimately, embracing His freely given grace.  If we can get hold of His mercy and love it becomes very difficult to hold on to our grumbling and angry attitude.  God is looking to perform divine heart surgery on your troubled and discontented heart. This is where grace is found in the Great Physicians hand…my dear sisters in Christ let God through His loving touch apply the grace needed today!

Blessings, Sister Laurie

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

Wealthy in Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings, Sister Laurie

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

Confidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sister Laurie

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

Friendship

Friendship is a precious part of life. Real joy comes from friendships established with Jesus Christ at the center.  Much like marriage God has a plan for true friendship.  God put it on Pau’s heart to l write to us in Philippians about the significance of God centered relationships. Our friendships should be a reflection of our relationship with Christ.

Today, social media has changed the face of relationships, instead of personal interaction…sharing a coffee or meal, watching a movie, taking a walk or just quietly sitting together enjoying someone company our relationships have been reduced to how many likes our post, tweet, photo receive.  Social media is a platform to create a fantasy, a false you.  How many of you have observed someone creating an untrue image, an exaggerated condition, even a totally made-up situation to gain attention. People are using social media to hide what’s really happening, they filter their photos so that people can’t see their true self.  Suicide has risen because people have become isolated using social media to express some of what they are feeling yet those responding somehow are unable to decipher their true desperation, their feelings of hopelessness. We answer with an “I Care” emoji, or even “I’m praying for you” these empty responses are so swallow without any true cost.  Texting is causing indifference and further isolation.  There is a price in godly relationships…time, comfort, even financial at times. What if when that distressing tweet, post, text came to your attention you got in your car and showed up?  It is in our nature to gather, have physical contact, true affection, pray together, share our sorrow…this is friendship.

Before we take a look at Paul’s opening words in his letter to the Philippians let me share a little background about this intimate letter of love and friendship.  Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians while he was in prison, he had visited and established a church in Philippi among the gentiles which within itself is one of God’s miracles, Paul was a Pharisee before coming to Christ and the people in Philippi were gentiles so a relationship between these two was very unlikely in fact gentiles where seen as unclean. Yet God’s love and truth broke the social barrier creating a deep love for these people in Paul.  True friendship and love between believers cannot been attached to a worldly perspective.

1-2 Paul and Timothy, both of us committed servants of Christ Jesus, write this letter to all the followers of Jesus in Philippi, pastors and ministers included. We greet you with the grace and peace that comes from God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ.

3-6 Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

7-8 It’s not at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality. You have, after all, stuck with me all the way from the time I was thrown in jail, put on trial, and came out of it in one piece. All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God. He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does! Philippians 1:1-8MSG

Paul understands the value of friendship, he recognizes how the relationship he has with God and the tangible friendships…better said love and affection he shares for those dear friends in Philippi have sustained him during his imprisonment and trial.  Our love for Jesus should be reflected in our friendships.  This is why, it is so important to gather and fellowship with other believers only they can fill the need for friendship as God designed.  When we have a friendship with someone which is like minded in their belief in Jesus, it deepens our relationship with God and allows our true beauty and purpose to emerge.

It saddens me greatly when I see bitterness and misunderstanding between believers, how can we possible say we love God and yet hold grudges, offense and jealousy in our hearts.  The answer is we cannot.  I urge you my sister to seek out broken friendships and mend them.  Start praying that God might lead you and if a softening is needed that the Holy Spirit would work in both of you.

Sometimes guilt or shame is holding you back from forgiveness.  These are two very different feelings; guilt is focused on something we have done, while shame focuses on the person…self.  Shame says something is wrong with me.  As women shame is fed by a misconception or confusion tied to our identity.  It is a constant feeling that we are not good enough.  This is bound to a worldly perspective, a lie of the enemy, an experience.  Shame is an epidemic effecting everyone…it is everywhere, every nation, every culture it is related to addiction, depression, violence, homosexuality, bullying, aggression, eating disorders, suicide and more.

The righteousness we find through Jesus Christ is the antidote for shame.  Shame is the opposite of righteousness. Look at what shame did for Adam and Eve, filled with shame they, hide from God, covered their bodies, they felt they had to protect themselves from God.  This is Satan’s trap, a weapon shrewdly used.  Shame has destroyed the beauty God intended for friendship, fellowship, intimacy with God and people. BUT God has given us the fruit of righteousness that is to be “right with God”.  Isaiah 32:17-18 says “And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness will be quietness and confident trust forever.  Then my people will live in a peaceful surrounding, and in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places.”  This kind of life and friendship is available to us right now.

Now think of your relationship with God…If your relationship with Him is fractured how can you fully embrace and receive what He did for you on the cross? How can He help you mend and restore broken relationships?  How can you love and sustain godly friendships? Right now, go before your Heavenly Father and ask Him to forgive you and reveal hidden shame that is affect your ability to love as He loves you.  Speak with confidence and proclaim who you are in Jesus, immerse yourself in godly music, fellowship, study, and prayer.  Give the enemy no room to corrupt who God says you are.

Dear Sisters…Paul prayed this prayer for his friends, his brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus and now I pray it for you my dear sisters in Christ Jesus…”So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11MSG

Blessings, Sister Laurie

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

Examine Your Foundation

First a little background for those who may not know me personally…I was not raised in a Christian home, in fact, my adopted parents were atheists who lived in the world and embraced a belief system which was extremely self-gratifying. I am a Born-Again Believer; I make this point because I will be talking about how our foundation in life dictates how we think and live.  I don’t remember ever discussing the existence of God or the meaning of this life other than how important it was to have money, live high, have power and reputation within your community.  This reputation was tainted with a worldview of wealth and position.

The long journey of casting off, surrendering my belief system or foundation built from my childhood and adult life experience has been long.  God has never given up on me and so today I celebrate the new foundation God is helping me build based in truth.  I wanted to share this with you because I make this point…IT IS NEVER TO LATE…God is waiting for you sweet sister!  He wants to establish a foundation of truth under you that will redefine you and give you an identity in Him.  Complete deliverance is what I am speaking of…Freedom from your old life!

Daniel had a foundation built on Godly principles, it is here we find how his foundation in God stood the test and kept Daniel from harm.  Daniel was a young man with Godly character and integrity.  Read Daniel 1-2 for details.

Daniel’s foundation is available to us if we allow God to work within us.  Sisters it is not too late to break the destructive patterns in your life and embrace Godly truth.  We know that the patterns we establish early in life, whether good or bad, will impact our future decisions.  Our choices direct the lives we lead.  These patterns form our foundation.

You and I must begin this journey of freedom by taking the scalpel of the Word of God in hand…”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.” Hebrews 4:12.

Begin by asking yourself these simple questions; Are you keeping your word? Do you hold grudges, speak negatively about those around you? Do you finish what you start? Are you easily distracted? Is your gaze on what is instructive and positive or destructive? Only you and God can answer these questions truthfully. Now is the time to let God reveal His truth about the condition of your foundation, ideas, attitudes, and behaviors that do not line up with God’s Word.

Remember, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.   Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything, worthy of praise, think about these things.  As for the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9

Most of the time wrong thinking, believing a lie keeps us from the peace spoken of here.  God has given you a gentle spirit, one that is not anxious, that has ability to live God’s truth as you journey through life.  Let these words encourage you.  Here are some practical steps to growing, redesigning your foundation according to God’s way.

  1. Discipline yourself to do two necessary things you do not like to do every week.
  2. Fix your eyes on a clear, specific goal.
  3. Study the “whys” behind God’s commands.
  4. Write out the promises you have made and take responsibility for all your actions and emotions.
  5. Monitor and adjust the motives behind your actions.
  6. Tell the truth no matter what the cost.
  7. Live the truth even when it is not popular…are your words gratifying God or man?
  8. Align yourself with a woman of God who you can be accountable to in every situation.

In today’s world we must be woman of God who are deeply rooted in God’s Truth and trust in God, not vulnerable to polluting ourselves with pride and lies.  Like Daniel we must be a people faithful and trustworthy, a servant of God. Who’s love for God pours out from every cell within our bodies. Remember you are who God’s says you are and not the world…loved, valued, unique, beautiful, with purpose, designed by the creator, the daughter of the Most High King.

Here is a prayer to help you in your journey…

Lord, give me insight into what makes a healthy, effective woman of God.  Make me sensitive to Your Spirit and show me the areas in which I need to grow and develop.  Show me those in my life which speak Your Truth and help me to distance myself from those who do not.  Help me represent You in every situation.  Rebuild my foundation God, I give you permission to use the scalpel of Truth to do surgery on my mind and spirit.  As you reveal attitudes and beliefs that do not reflect you God help me to let go and invite Godly thinking in.  I desire to have my mind, body and spirit transformed by your truth God so that I would reflect you with every breath I breathe.  AMEN

Sister Laurie

The Armor of Light Our Only Defense

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ!  We as believers have a tremendous responsibility in how we speak and interact with others. Before I begin my next writing God has given from Romans 13; I want to address a situation I was witness to yesterday, in fact two situations.  Unfortunately, each of these situations happen with the same believer who I know well and regard as a sister in Christ.  I know she had best intentions however we must be ever so careful with our words.  Our tongue can do the devil’s work!  Let me explain…

First Situation:  During a Sunday morning greeting around a cup of coffee at church a young woman who is a growing believer approached a sweet sister in Christ with a typical greeting.  The usual “How are you?” was exchanged.  This young woman had recently stopped dating a man, who had followed her to church a couple of times.  The concerned sister started a deeper conversation, fishing for details…well-meaning but the result left the young woman in anguish.  You see this young woman’s marriage ended several years ago.  The relationship was a violent one, abuse and drugs were a huge part of the marriage.  This young woman spent years broken and held captive in this relationship.  Over the last 5 years she has been delivered from her traumatic past.  She is now walking in the light of Jesus full of hope.  Somehow the conversation got around to the fact that she was divorced, the sister began down a path that divorce was breaking a covenant with Moses, negatively speaking she pointed out how this young woman needed to seek reconciliation.  Without knowing the details or what this young woman has been through this sister now becomes God’s judge and convicts this young woman with her words.  I might add mixing biblical truth with condemnation.  Do you see what I am getting at…WE MUST BE CAREFUL WITH OUR WORDS?! I believe the sister was speaking out of her flesh and not out of her spirit. We must always speak out of love and ask God to give us words of encouragement no matter what the circumstance.  Fortunately, I caught the tail end of the conversation and the young woman now crushed, privately asked me to clarify and pray with her.

Second Situation:  I attended a prayer meeting and one of the prayer requests was for us to pray for a woman who son had served in Afghanistan and was killed in action several years ago. The woman bringing the request was a family member.   Based on what is happening over there currently, all the grief of this loss has come back along with the sense that this young man sacrificed his life in vain.  I want to say that this scenario of someone suffering loss and how we as believers in our effort to bring comfort fail.  I have heard this question asked so many times…”Was he a believer?” “Was he or she saved?”  What difference does this make? Can you see how these questions can send the one asking for prayer down a dark road, dwelling on where the loved one is now?  Does that change the way we pray for those loved ones hurting in their loss?  Definitely Not!  Even if the family members are not believers God still is working and will still bring comfort. Can you see how distressing this can be for the person asking for prayer?  Once again be careful what questions we ask and how we respond when loss is involved.  This is a time when little words can be spoken and listening ears are needed.  Offer prayers of comfort.

Ok, thank you for listening I pray you carefully consider my words. I will get off my soap box…

Romans 13:12-13TPT says “Night’s darkness is dissolving away as a new day of destiny dawns. So, we must once and for all strip away what is done in the shadows of darkness, removing it like filthy clothes. And once and for all we clothe ourselves with the radiance of light as our weapon. We must live honorably, surrounded by the light of this new day, not in the darkness of drunkenness and debauchery, not in promiscuity and sensuality, not being argumentative or jealous of others.”

Today I want to talk about the darkness spoken of in these verses.  Last week I offered words of encouragement and with intent spoke of the urgency of  this hour. Verse 12 continues this thinking because for we are closer now, this moment to meeting Jesus face to face closer then we were this morning. Right? Think about that…does that inspire you?  The darkness of living in this fallen world will soon end for believers! Hallelujah!

Let us move forward and see what God is now teaching us…Verse 13 is a warning to put aside certain behavior, put your seat belt on the Truth is about to challenge you;

Depending on your translation you might find…

Rioting KJV, gluttony GNV, carousing NASB or orgies NIV in the Greek “komos”  letting loose, carousal, binder, binge, spree.  This might mean overspending, loss of self-control in behavior or speech. Excessiveness or greedy, unreasonable.

Drunkenness KJV, GNV, NASB and NIV in the Greek “methe” use of an intoxicant, intoxication, that being any kind of substance, a condition of disgrace.

Chambering KJV, GNV, sexual promiscuity NASB, sexual immorality NIV in the Greek “koite” cohabitation outside of marriage, aggressive infliction, perversion of God’s design for intimacy.

Wantonness KJV, GNV, debauchery NASB, sensuality NIV in the Greek “aselgeia” licentiousness, recklessness, lasciviousness, carnality, shameless behavior, pursuit of physical sexual pleasure, lust.

Strife KJV, GNV, NASB, quarreling NIV in the Greek “eris” to quarrel, wrangling, bickering, contention, rivalry, an unsavory, immoral desire for power or control.

Envying KJV, GNV, jealousy NASB, NIV, in the Greek “zelos” unfavorable zeal, malevolence, resentfulness, indignation, mistrustfulness, a strong and relentless desire for what belongs to another

Why am I defining these undesirable behaviors? They are common in this day, even we as believers must examine ourselves and motives regularly.  Let me paint a picture of how this warning must be taken seriously and how we as believers must teach our love ones the dangerous traps hidden here.  During the spring in America, there is a common practice among young people primarily college age to travel during spring break and gather with other young people.  Often this is a time of reckless abandonment to all that is decent.  Romans 13:13 captures much of the conduct during this week…it has been hailed as a time for “the rite of passage”. Passage of what? Innocence and purity? It is a time of relentless evil and awful indulgence.  What a price is paid by the participants…the shame and regret they carry long after.

The Spirit pleads “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23ESV

Again, the Holy Spirit cries out to us…”So, beloved, since you are looking forward to these things, be diligent and make every effort to be found by Him at His return spotless and blameless, in peace that is, inwardly calm with a sense of spiritual well-being and confidence, having lived a life of obedience to Him.”  2 Peter 3:14AMP

This obedience is for you and I, to protect us and prepare us for the future.  Paul says in Ephesians 5:27TPT Jesus in coming and here we find a picture of how He desires to find us…”Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? To surrender yourselves to God to be His sacred, living sacrifices. And live-in holiness, experiencing all that delights His heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.   Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in His eyes.” 

Let us stay as far away from sin as possible…”But clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for nor even think about gratifying the flesh in regard to its improper desires.” Romans 13:14AMP

Right now, examine yourself…how can you be ready, are you properly dressed, completely immersed in our Lord Jesus Christ…How can you clothe yourself in the radiance of Jesus Christ?

There is a fork in the road one way leads to the world and instant gratification that only satisfies for a moment…do not delay take no detour choose the other route… put on the Armor of Light, Jesus Christ!

  Sister Laurie