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
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.
Discipline yourself to do two necessary things you do not like to do every week.
Fix your eyes on a clear, specific goal.
Study the “whys” behind God’s commands.
Write out the promises you have made and take responsibility for all your actions and emotions.
Monitor and adjust the motives behind your actions.
Tell the truth no matter what the cost.
Live the truth even when it is not popular…are your words gratifying God or man?
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
“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.
Psalm 23:6 KJV says “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
Wherever you go, the people you encounter, the physical work you do, the words you speak, even the way you sit, walk, run, or move leaves a mark. In other words, how you live each day leaves a legacy of who you are and what truth you embrace.
The great psalmist, David knew exactly what he was saying when he compared us to sheep and called our wonderful Heavenly Father our Shepherd. Sheep can and will ruin and ravage the land almost beyond remedy. But in bold contrast they can, be the most beneficial of all livestock if properly guided by their shepherd…leaving the land beautiful, rich, and healthy.
In ancient literature sheep were referred to as “those of the golden hooves” simply because they were regarded and esteemed so highly for their beneficial effect on the land.
In the 6th verse of Psalm 23 David says that “goodness and mercy will follow you ALL the days of your life.” However, there is a cavoite to that…ONLY the sheep who follow the Shepherd will leave that legacy behind them.
What does that mean? The sheep who follow their Shepherd, allow Him to speak into their life, listen and move where He directs, surrenders to His will and follows His purpose; they will leave behind them something worthwhile, productive, beautiful and beneficial to both themselves, others and to their Shepherd.
Close your eyes right now and see the land as the Shepherd sees this land and sheep He tends…Where they walk the land is fertile and weed free. It continues to reproduce the work of the Shepherd and is seen as beautiful, rich and abundance…green pastures, clean and clear water in a running stream safe to drink deeply…lush trees to rest under. The new growth gives way to new fruit, delicious and beautiful and all that encounter it hunger and thirst for the abundant goodness available. All are welcomed, valued, and loved here by the Good Shepherd.
Now a question comes to me….there is no room for excuse…I claim to be a daughter of the Most High King and so I must acquest that is other than by inheritance… I have been purchased at a great price…supernatural blood shed so that I can follow my Shepherd, look behind myself and see all that God has done through me.
As I look more questions form, a deeper surrender is needed and so I also ask the same of you…
Do I leave a blessing behind me? Do I leave a trail of sadness or of gladness behind? Is my memory, in other people’s minds, intertwined with mercy and goodness, or would they rather forget me altogether? Do I deposit a blessing behind me or am a nuisance to others? Is my life a pleasure to people or a pain?
In Isaiah 52:7 a picture of one who leaves a godly legacy is revealed, “How beautiful on the mountains, in all the land are the feet of the messenger bringing good news, breaking the news that all’s well, proclaiming good times, announcing salvation, telling all the people of the earth, “Your God reigns!” MSG personalized
Sometimes we must ask ourselves tough yet simple questions…
Do I leave behind peace in lives…or turmoil?
Do I leave behind forgiveness…or bitterness?
Do I leave behind contentment…or conflict?
Do I leave behind flowers of joy…or frustration?
Do I leave behind love…or resentment?
Some people leave such a sorry mess behind them wherever they go that they prefer to cover their tracks. When making out a list of people…relatives and friends…do you write their names with joy and excitement looking forward to enjoying their company or is there a hesitation as you recall your last encounter or conversation? How about where you work, do you avoid some people? How do others see you?
For the true child of God, the one under the Shepherd’s care, there should never be any sense of shame or fear as you encounter people from your past or present. Why? Because there you have left a legacy of uplift, encouragement, and inspiration to others. For some of you I know this is tough…harm has been done however no situation is to big for God. He promises to restore what the locust have eaten. (Joel 2:25-27) Patience and waiting on God is key if this applies to you. There can be nothing stopping you now…as you live in the care of the Good Shepherd.
There was an amazing man of God Dr. David Livingstone, who was a missionary in Africa (1813-1873), who’s good and kindly acts were always blended with mercy. So often people he encountered were harsh and vindictive…yet his compassion and tenderness were always evident. He found forgiveness for others despite their behavior and offered God’s mercy.
I must ask myself and you must do the same…is this my attitude to other people? We must ask God to help us; Psalm 19:13 NASB tells us “Also keep your servant back from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; then I will be innocent, and I will be blameless of great wrongdoing.”
Do I sit up on my pedestal of self-pride and look at others in a condescending manner or do I identify myself with them in their dilemma and allow the goodness and mercy God overflow onto them? Are my eyes critical? I know with all my heart that Jesus has and continues to extend goodness and mercy to me! In fact, this overflow is purposed to lead others to Him.
Now that we belong to Jesus and He is our Shepherd we must also consider these words, “So roll up your sleeves, get your head in the game, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Do not lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You did not know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”” 1 Peter 1:13-16 MSG
Finally sweet sisters, Jesus looks upon our lives in tenderness for He loves us deeply. He sees the long years during which His goodness and mercy have followed you and I without slackening. He longs to see some measure of that same goodness and mercy not only passed on to others by us but also passed back to Him with joy.
Our Shepherd longs for our love to be demonstrated by what we leave behind…how we love proof that we love Him and this overflowing love happens because HE LOVED US FIRST!
Blessings, Sister Laurie
This writing comes from my thoughts and insight while reading “A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23”, by Phillip Keller.
God’s Word is ever wasted with that being said…Today, you, my sister in Jesus Christ were meant to read this…it is a divine appointment with the Father. From the moment you and I accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we became His Disciples. This is an adventure more than a journey! Adventures are exciting, extraordinary, God’s adventure does not ask us to carry uncertainty but certainty, it is a bold undertaking, and we must be a willing participant.
John 15 tells us that you and I have been chosen to do the work of Christ, God also says there will be success in our work …we will bear fruit. As His disciples Jesus gives us everything we need to do His work through the power of the Holy Spirit in us.
John 14:12 confirms our position and purpose… “Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I am going to the Father.”
The Great Commission is spoken of in several different scriptures however here we hear our calling clearly from Jesus…“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20NASB
We must embrace who we are, and this word “disciple” is not a title it is a position in God’s Kingdom, it is spoken of more than 250 times in God’s Word. We can try to worm our way out, you might have many excuses, but in the end this is WHO WE ARE…His Disciples.
Right now maybe you are saying…”not me” for a number of reasons so let us just bring God’s Truth to those reasons.
If the answer is “Yes” to these two questions then you are a disciple.
You maybe still saying “but I do not know enough”, or “I am not even sure if I am forgiven” possibly “I am not sure I’m worthy.” All of that as well as any other questions…doubts are not from God; they are the devil holding you captive to lies about yourself. How did you answer questions one and two? If the answer was “yes” then it is time to declare you are who God says you are and not this world, person or circumstance. Your TRUE identity is found in Jesus and Him alone!
Ok now that we have cleared that up let us move on…being a disciple requires you to put God’s agenda first and stop focusing on yourself. There is immediate healing in your mind and spirit when God is truly first in your life, and you receive the love He is offering. There is no wondering involved…so if you are, now is the time to ask yourself “What is the hold up?” If this is where you are at…we have some work to do! Write to me!
As God’s disciples we have a twofold purpose often they overlap however I have broken them apart so that you might be able to receive a deeper understand.
The Mission – Is a Burden we carry for the lost when we love God…He tells us clearly that His desire is that not one should perish and so this should always be in our hearts as well. There should be a sense of urgency for all to know…not just those you love but those you do not know and even those who have hurt you. God’s calling you to step out of your comfort zone pursue His plan to help save the lost. This mission begins with prayer…First, those that have hurt you as well as the family members who you are hesitate to share your relationship with Jesus; make them part of your daily prayer, when and if God wants to use you to speak into their lives He will give you the opportunity and the words. Next those you don’t know or maybe those who are an acquaintance i.e. co-worker, grocery clerk, neighbor, gym this is your mission field. Begin your day asking God for opportunities.
Romans 10:14-15 How then are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? How are they to believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? But how are they to preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”
The word preacher and preach are the same here in the Greek they are not a title or position but a call; to herald and proclaim meaning to speak out without hesitation, this applies to every believer/disciple to proclaim with boldness…the Good News. To be ready and aware of those around you…ask God how you can bring Your Truth and Love to this person. I want to clear something up right here…many believers had been led to believe they need to know all kinds of scripture or have a testimony ready to share. This is not true! We start by loving this person…listening, giving your time, are you getting it? It is the relationship you build that will speak volumes, be conscious of what God is telling you and how He wants you to respond.
God’s Word is Truth inspired by God and 2 Timothy 3:17 it further says “so that the man or woman of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work.”
Acts 1:8 “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.”
You and I are equipped, through faith and God’s Word we have all we need. The Holy Spirit will bring the words to your mouth and your life is a demonstration of God’s love and Truth.
There is a cost you and I must abandon our agenda and pursue God’s agenda. As the daughters of God sharing His Truth with others is a privilege, when we give ourselves completely to God every part we become tools in the Hands of God, to be used by Him for His good purpose. (Romans 6:13 LB)
Ministry – Because God loves us we are compelled to share this love with others this is the heart of discipleship. Discipleship mainly happens within our home church it is an opportunity to love and encourage believers God has put in our lives.
“But instead we will remain strong and always sincere in our love as we express the truth. All our direction and ministries will flow from Christ and lead you and I deeper into Him, the anointed Head of his body, the church. For His “body” yes, you and I have been formed in His image and are closely joined together and constantly connected as one. And each of us has been given divine gifts to contribute to the growth of all; and as these gifts operate effectively throughout the whole body, we are built up and made perfect in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16 TPT personalized
James 5:17 TPT says “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!”
Hebrews 10:25 TPT “This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing. In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.”
If it was not for two wonderful beautiful women of God, I would not be here right now writing to you…They never gave up…They just kept on loving me without judgement. This is how we now as believers need to love.
“Each of us are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 NASB
1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” NASB
If you say you love God but harbor offense and bitterness towards others then you are not following God…God’s greatest two commandments to you and I is to love God with all your heart and to love others as you love yourself. This solicits a question or two…Do you love yourself? Have you forgiven yourself? Have you experienced God and His love for you? Do you believe that God loves you and because of Jesus you are forgiven completely? If there is a “no” in there then again I urge you to write me and to also find a woman of God to speak God’s Truth into your life.
Blessing, Sister Laurie
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.
Laurie Acuna, Minister JesusTruth/Generations Church 425 Greenvalley Drive Andover, Kansas 67002
If you are anything like me, you do not like tests! I get nervous, palms sweaty, if it’s an oral test or having to answer a difficult question from a teacher or other person in authority I get really nervous. Even when I am confident of the answer, suddenly…I am speechless, and I cannot find the right words. For me, a test is confrontational, and I just do not do well. All that being said, the Bible speaks about God’s testing. As a believer and follower of Jesus…you will be tested…no two ways about it! So let us talk about testing and how in life we all will be tested, ALL meaning even the non-believer, new believer and what you might call the mature believer. I want to stop right there and clarify the new and mature believer…we are all in the same boat, sailing to our eternal destination. I know I have touched on this before and it is extremely important to not put labels on ourselves or others. We are all moving in the same direction, mature believers do not have all the answers. They, just like the new believer must study, look, ask for help, pray, and seek for answers in God’s Word. Once you have been born-again, became a believer…you have total access to your Heavenly Father, and He is the same for every believer. Mature believers struggle, face troubles and testing just as the less experienced believer. Now let us move on…
Tests are designed to demonstrate knowledge and point out areas for improvement. In math or history, a test will show a persons ability and help the student know what areas need further study. God tests His children in the same manner. Here is where many times you might find yourself confused. When ministering, I have heard more than once someone say God did this to me, caused this illness, tragedy, loss, situation, or circumstance. I want to make this perfectly clear…GOD DOES NOT CAUSE ILLNESS, TRAGEDY, LOSS, UNFAVORABLE SITUATIONS OR CIRCUMSTANCES. In His Word, God tells us there will be difficulties. Matthew 6:34 says “ So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Also “These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.” And then in John 16:33, “Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.” John 14:27 NASB Throughout the Bible God shares stories about His people and their troubles, always God also shows them the way out.
It is in these times that God reveals what you know and what you have developed within your heart. Every situation is a teaching moment…a process in your life. In fact, without His testing, there is no opportunity to grow and become who He created you to be. It is in those times that you are strengthen so that you might use this strength for His purpose. More is happening than the circumstances you find yourself experiencing, God is working behind the scenes. When you look with the right perspective, you will find God bringing out His character in us or revealing that you have a deeper need of His influence. James 1:13 reminds us, “No one is to say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” The more often you understand and respond to God’s priorities, the closer you will come to the fullness of all He has designed and purposed in your life.
Looking at the three types of tests…
The Test of Servanthood
As a believer you are all called to the life of a servant. You demonstrate your love for God by loving and serving others. This love is expressed when you put your personal desires aside for the benefit of others. Personal sacrifice is part of this servanthood, giving of your time and resources within healthy boundaries…this is not a part-time position but a lifelong pursuit as a believer. You must be ready when God calls on you. The most difficult test of servanthood is when you are treated like a servant, maybe you feel that you should have received recognition or possibly you are mistreated “persecuted” while serving. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10 NASB Here you must check your motive…in today’s world you may find yourself having a selfish view, the world is focused on individual rights and rewards, pride clouds your ability to serve…God’s view is you serve without return. Knowing you serve a loving Father is more than enough.
There are many biblical examples; Ezekiel spoke to God’s people many times through embarrassing ways, Noah suffered under years of ridicule as he built the ark and warned people of what was coming, Hosea married and remarried a prostitute despite what those around him must have thought and in spite of her unrepentant heart. These and others demonstrate that the test of servanthood is designed to reveal the level of obedience a believer will offer.
Your servant heart is evidence of a believer willing to go and do as God has asked, leaving your personal comfort and desires to meet the needs of others.
The Test of Sacrificial Love
Love is a concept confused by its multiple uses. For you love might be a flood of emotions, warm feelings or possibly a decision of commitment despite your emotions. Perhaps love has lost all meaning, it seems unattainable or able to satisfy the cravings of your broken or troubled heart. The world may have confused your thoughts concerning love however here you see that the love required of a believer is sacrificial. God will develop this love in your heart if you allow Him through testing. The test of a sacrificial love comes when you are confronted with a command to action from your Savior. Love can mean many things, but love that has a price is clearly sacrificial love. In the life of a believer there will be many choices that oppose the world. There will be a cost in this love…a financial, deep emotional requirement, and hard-fought forgiveness are some of characteristics of sacrificial love. Paul speaks of denying himself, you will be called upon to deprive yourself of things others pursue happily. Other times you will be called to forgive and extend love to those who certainly do not deserve it.
There is a distinctive difference between sacrificial love and unconditional love, but they flow from the same heart. Unconditional love is love without strings attached, love offered freely and not base it on what someone does for you in return. Sacrificial love focuses on the one giving love and the length that person will go to maintain that love.
Abraham’s trip to Mount Moriah with his son Isaac found in Genesis 22 is a significant example of the test of sacrificial love. Abraham had to have been traumatized by the possible outcome of this journey. How could God ask such a thing? Abraham may have been thinking the price is to great or unfair! This raises the question how could he obey, how did he? While the Bible does not give details to his emotional struggle we know it was tremendous. You get a glimpse of how Abraham was able to obey in Genesis 22:12 with an angel’s observation, “now I know that you fear the God”. This fear is the ultimate form of love and trust in God. God was Abraham’s greatest focus and priority, and obedience to God’s commands…even the ones that did not make any sense. Like Abraham many times this test will come without the desired explanation or understanding. You may feel thoughts of overwhelming unfairness, defenses are raised, and rationalizing happens. We know the outcome, God stepped in and stopped Abraham’s act of obedience. Generations to come will and are continuing to be blessed because of it.
Do you remember in the Bible where Jesus asked the rich young man to sell everything he had to follow Jesus? Most likely that will never happen for you. Yet some of you who are reading this right now maybe experiencing that very thing. There maybe consequences that have put you in the position of losing everything and yet I am confident that if you respond with that same “fear” God will restore the loss…His way NOT yours. The truth is that what God has for you is much bigger when you take the step of faith in sacrificial love.
What you are unwilling to part with moves into the place of God and begins to control you. Yes, people, places and material things that become obsessions are idolatry in its clearest expression. Anytime you say no to God and choose something or someone else, you sow seed for future destruction, and you take a clear step away from the God who called you His. The more you cultivate a giving spirit, the more easily you can give what God requires. Now listen, I am not saying to give everything away…but if you have trouble responding with compassion and self-sacrifice in times you are confronted with an opportunity to meet a need, you will not be able to give sacrificially when God calls upon you.
It is important to avoid the attention of others when you give, only then will you shutout the pride that causes you to desire to hold on to what is yours. Be intentional in your giving, not careless. Knowing the price and choosing to give on purpose brings the experience to a place of worship. Remember I am not speaking of finances alone, there are many opportunities to give in serving others.
The Test of Faithfulness
Faithfulness is bound in constancy and dependability. It is the choice to remain steadfast regardless of the changing circumstances. God’s faithfulness is demonstrated in the constancy of His love regardless of your worthiness or actions. Simply…God still loves you and is extending His hand to you when you are right in the thick of sinful choices or behavior. Your faithfulness is demonstrated in the constancy of your obedience regardless of your understanding or comfort. It is remaining faithful despite your circumstance or situation, having the confidence that God is there right with you…the test of faithfulness is in your reaction. Your faithfulness is evident when you look to His promises no matter what the world says, believing God will provide a way. Joseph is an amazing example of faithfulness…more than thirteen years of near-death experiences, suffering and imprisonment and yet his faithfulness never faltered. In the end God restored his family, bought abundant provision for not only Joseph and his family but all of Egypt. Joseph did not know what God was doing yet he remained faithful.
How do you react, were does your mind go and in what does it dwell? How do your emotions and behavior reflect your faith in God? This is the test…where is your trust? Look at Simon Peter, he allowed the confusion and his emotions of Jesus’ arrest to test his faith and he failed three times…however later when he had the opportunity Peter jumped out of the boat to reach Jesus and ask forgiveness, this act was an opportunity for restoration. God uses your circumstances to teach you the hard lessons of faithfulness. The Israelites are a great example of God’s love and faithfulness, over and over again they separated themselves from God by complaining and seeking after selfish desires instead of trusting God. He will let you experience the consequences of your choices to help you discover how completely unsatisfying they are. God never gives up and He will never give up on you!
You will become consistently faithful by using the commonsense God gave you, having a biblical plan for daily living which includes finishing what you start, keeping your promises and giving of your resources when no one else sees. You must have a plan when faced with a challenge, start now by removing anything you sense that could get in your way. In other words, when objects that breed unfaithfulness are eliminated, you have limited your choice to faithfulness in times of crisis. Faithfulness starts with faith. You should aggressively build your faith…understand what it means to fear God and call upon the Holy Spirit to help you walk in a path of obedience. Faithfulness is tied to repentance…you are faithful when you are quick to turn from wrongdoing and ask God to forgive you…seeking His help in resisting sin.
In closing remember…passing the tests of servanthood, sacrificial love, and faithfulness begins by knowing who you are in Christ, committing to follow God and allowing Him to reign over every part of your life. Those who do not live to give God glory will not experience the lasting freedom and peace He is offering. Do not let pride stumble you in serving others…Paul would not allow people to worship him, he reacts strongly, pushing away the moment in no uncertain terms (read Acts 14:8-14). Be careful what you attach your heart to. Do not be afraid to love what you should love, and how you should love, but do not choose to love what is unworthy of eternal attention. When faithfulness is a priority in your life, it will be easier to respond faithfully in times of crisis. Finally, surround yourself with others who are on the same journey, cultivate your faith and relationship with God by surrendering daily to His Ways…from the place of surrender God can and will work in your life.
Romans 8:38-39 AMP tells you “For I am convinced and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt… that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the unlimited love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Last writing dear sisters I spoke of having a healthy heart. Today I wanted to share with you how living with a heart that has been damaged keeps you from the freedom God is offering all His children. You were created to live a full life with purpose, confidence, love, with the strength…not let the littlest offense send your mind and spirit reeling. Once again I want to remind you of the connect between the mind and spirit or what the Bible refers to as your heart. Your heart is where your true self is revealed, where daily decisions and actions are born. This means each of us must let our spirit be in charge, it is our spirit that is in communication with the Holy Spirit. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, you are the daughters of God. For you, my sister have not received a spirit of oppression leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as His daughter by which you cry out, Abba! Father! The Spirit Himself testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God.” Romans 8: 14-16 NASB personalized Remember, your spirit must become bigger than your mind because out of your spirit flows the passion and power of God through the work of the Holy Spirit. A healthy heart grows and flows forth for the purposes of God’s Kingdom and benefits all those God puts in your circle of influence.
There are three types of damaged heart each has its own characteristics however they can work with each other building strongholds in your life that does not allow God’s Truth to reach your spirit. These strongholds reside in you mind and block the work God wants to do within your heart. That is why living with one of these wounds or a combination of them will bring broken relationships and strife into your life. An unhealthy heart will not only devastate the work of God in your life, but it will have an effect on those you love. This is a battleground, the devil works to hold you captive in unforgiveness, bitterness and self-focus, let us look closely at these three hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to identity areas in your heart that need housekeeping and healing.
The Wounded Heart
You will face hurt and disappointment, mistreatment and criticism in life, there is no getting around it. Your past and your ability to forgive plays a huge part in your heart condition. As a woman you were wired to nurture and love, be the strong one emotionally. But many times you find yourself coping in your own strength, suppressing feelings, or denying disappointments even abuse. Emotions that are neglected will resurface, in the form of a wounded heart. If these emotions are left untreated wrong thinking becomes a way for bitterness to form. Bitterness or hidden anger toward someone who has hurt you is compromising your heart health, that hurt will slowly move into hate and will change how you react to situations based on past experiences. “Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God’s best blessings. Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.” Hebrews 12:15 TLB Neglecting the wound gives the devil entrance remember sin is crouching at the door.
Right now, your saying…I am not wounded, I have forgiven them…yet you live guarded, with your own armor, suspicious of people or the motives behind their actions. Is that you? Do you trust? The wounded heart battles paranoia unable to experience kind efforts from others. Another evidence of a wounded heart is fear or deep anxiety. Unresolved hurt or anger will lead you to expect more of the same. The smallest failure of another individual opens old wounds they hold you captive and unable to move forward. Unresolved pain does not diminish with time, rather strongholds become larger within your heart making a healthy relationship with God and others impossible.
How then can I be free of the hurt I feel, the bitterness and anger I have been holding on to? Carefully choose a woman of God, find a safe place, and let your story be told, let your emotions vent. God cannot heal what we fail to give Him! Yes, God was there, and He saw however we need to share it with Him. Here is where forgiveness comes in, the only true way to move past even the most horrible hurt is through forgiveness. “For if you forgive other people for their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14 NASB Only through forgiveness can you stop bitterness and hate from withholding what Jesus did for you on the cross. Jesus gives you the ability to forgive because He forgave those who crucified Him and you as well. This is not up for negotiation…forgiveness of sins and forgiveness of what other have done to you goes hand in hand. The choice is yours and so it takes willingness on your part. Some people like holding on the hurt, it becomes a platform for attention, an excuse to hate. Sadly, the damage caused by holding on keeps you in broken limbo. Your ability to forgive is essential in the healing processing, no matter how difficult you must lay those hurts at Jesus’ feet and forgive those who have hurt you. Ask God to heal your heart and then declare that healing over yourself. When you have a healthy heart, you are not careless or naïve in your view of people, but you are open and able to believe the best about others’ actions and motives. Dwelling on the hurt, reliving the circumstances or experience allows the devil to continue to fuel your wounds. If you find yourself in this situation I strongly suggest reading “Battlefields of the Minds”, by Joyce Meyers.
The Hypocritical Heart
A hypocritical heart is one that fails to achieve honesty in view of itself. It focuses on the faults of others while at the same time ignores their own situation or sin. Luke 6:42 is well known for its description of hypocrisy “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” This heart condition is more concerned with how things appear then what is going on inside. It hides behind a mask, there is a disconnect between what is seen and what is true this leads to a destructive heart condition. Many times, this heart condition attaches itself to a wounded heart, ignoring what is brewing inside, pointing the finger elsewhere. A focus on the failings of others reveals your hypocrisy. The hypocritical heart engages in gossip…spreading less than kind words about others. Jesus suggests that the right response when we witness another’s sin is mourning, not private satisfaction. Heart check right here! Is that you? Something like, “It’s about time Sally got caught with her hand in the cookie jar” said with a smirk. Love does not desire the sin to be magnified or the punishment to be without mercy. The Bible commands us to guard and evaluate our own heart. If you fail to do so or focus greater energy on evaluating others, hypocrisy is in full bloom. One easy way to identify hypocrisy in your own heart is by taking inventory of your life. On Sundays at church, in public, or at home…are you the same person? React the same? Is there a hidden part of you? Ouch! For those of you who are Moms your consistency speaks volumes, if you “put on” an act at church your children will see church, see Jesus as their Savior as nothing more than shallow or unreal. It is your responsibility to represent Jesus to your children with consistency and love in every area of your life.
The first step in healing this heart condition is humility. We must take an honest look at our life; we must humble ourselves and acknowledge our wrongdoings before any process of healing can begin. Repentance is key. Many times, this repentance must be made to those you have hurt or gossiped about. You cannot hold back…those negative words spoken about another must be forgiven. A healthy heart does not allow embarrassment or shame keep it from offering a heartfelt apology. You must adopt a habit of self-evaluation based in God’s Word and let the Holy Spirit work within you to expose wrong thinking.
The Greedy Heart
A greedy heart has the desire for one’s own benefit. Luke 12:15 NASB warns “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed.” As a sister in Jesus Christ, your heart must be void of greed. Another way to describe a greedy heart is to say it is self-focused or selfish. The Bible defines greed as a form of idolatry, revealing a love for things of this world, setting your priorities on self-satisfaction and recognition. The greedy heart focuses on things that cannot truly appease; wealth, popularity and power are illusions as they cannot fill your need to be satisfied. Your temptation to have what others enjoy can be surprising powerful. The greed or your pursuit of self-gratification can quickly become bondage, blocking your ability to be sensitive to God’s purpose for your life. Idolatry is a clear violation of God’s first and most significant commandment. You, my sister must not let anything interfere or hinder your devotion to the One True God, your Heavenly Father. He made this commandment first because it touches every aspect of your life. When your focus becomes inward or upon worldly aspirations God’s position in your life becomes out of focus.
Healing such a heart begins with confession; acknowledging the greed which opens the way for God to remove it. What is important to God must become your guide. When you take the “me” out of a situation and look to honor God it changes your position, there is a shift, a newfound sense of worth. Your true worth in found in God and not in the mirror or acquired goods of this world. God has the right to supreme leadership in the your life and to the unhindered devotion of the your heart. When your devotion is centered on God, He provides safety and protection. God is asking you to make Him first in your life, when your focus, thinking, and desires belong to Him you will be satisfied. Nothing else in the world has the lasting, supernatural power that your devotion to God brings. You were born with a hunger that only is satisfied through your relationship with God.
Expose right now, what is hiding in your heart dear sister. Become sensitive to those things that can bring sickness or destroy your heart. The symptoms of these three heart conditions hide in the dark places of your life, you must expose the negative experiences of your life and allow God to heal them. You have come so far in your relationship with God. He is calling you to go deeper…the Holy Spirit within you is working with your spirit to bring healing. Through God’s Word the Truth is revealed…With God you can face the past, heal the wounds, say no to wrong thinking, close the door on feelings that do not line up with who God says you are…His daughter, the daughter of the Most High King! Today! Proclaim your position…you belong to the One True God, loved, valued, worthy to do the work and live a life full of purpose.
“Create, begin the process in me clean and purify my heart, make it healthy according to Your standard, focused on You God, I ask You My Loving Father to renew and remove, to do the work necessary so that my spirit would be steadfast and positioned to receive all that You have for me so that I am able to serve You and fulfill the purpose You have given me.” Psalm 51:10 personalized
Opinion is at the heart of conflict among believers. These opinions quickly undermine harmony and dull our relationship with God. Unfortunately, many times church doctrine has be written with the same opinions or possibly what I am going to call nearsighted understanding. To have nearsighted understanding means that an individual embraces some of God’s Word and dismisses scriptures that do not line up with their personal opinion. The truth is God’s Word is Truth and we can neither add to nor take away ONE Word found in God’s Word. God speaks through people His inspired and trustworthy Words. Within His Word we find Holy Truth…recorded by God’s chosen disciples, prophets, apostles, or the Words of Jesus Himself documented by those that knew Him, eyewitnesses.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 MSG says “We couldn’t be more sure of what we saw and heard—God’s glory, God’s voice. The prophetic Word was confirmed to us. You will do well to keep focusing on it. It is the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts. The main thing to keep in mind here is that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private opinion. And why? Because it is not something concocted in the human heart. Prophecy resulted when the Holy Spirit prompted men and women to speak God’s Word.”
We must also look at 2 Peter 1:21 TLB, “No true prophecy comes from human initiative but is inspired by the moving of the Holy Spirit upon those who spoke the message that came from God.”
God knows us so well, after all we are His creation. He even knew that we would take His Word of Truth and try to put our own spin on it. In order for all of God’s children to live in harmony we must recognize that each of us are on our own journey with God and that it is God’s desire that we accept one another Romans 15:7.
In Galatians 5:15 MSG, we receive a warning, a critical spirit is dangerous, “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you do not use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That is an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? ” This freedom is found in God’s Word…His Words not ours…this Love is God’s Love…not ours. We fall short when we try to mix our opinion, worldly belief and love with God’s Way and Truth. It is so important to walk continually checking our eyesight and making sure we are seeing clearly through Jesus’ eyes and not our own. We must embrace all God’s Word not just the scriptures that we like or that bring an answer we want to hear.
No one and no opinion must ever be lifted higher than God and God’s Truth. Three of my life verses come to mind here:
“We are destroying arguments and all arrogance raised against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB Ask yourself this question daily…does my thinking, opinion, decision making process, belief, and action line up with God?
“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.” Philippians 4:8 NASB Where do you find your focus, thoughts, and emotions? Every sinful desire begins in our mind, we must keep our mind in check with God’s Truth.
“For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NASB Are you daily allowing God, using His Sword of Truth to separate worldly opinions and attitudes to be surgically removed from you? This takes surrender to God’s Word and His Word alone.
Only when we are surrendered to God can we love one another and be united in God’s Truth, and be the one body, God has called us to be…Ephesians 4:3 tells us “ make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” We also know…”For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body’s parts do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another.”
In Romans 14 cultural differences or opinions began to cause conflict among the believers. These opinions were outside of God’s Word, the fundamentals of salvation and behaviors the Bible commands or condemns are not disputable matters. In other words, God’s Word is not to be disputed, you are God’s child, and we MUST embrace ALL of His Word. It is without an expiration date; it is active and living today just as it was when God gave it to us. We MUST NOT let nonessential issues, cultural differences, and personal opinions destroy the fellowship God has given us with one another, love for one another centered in Jesus Christ. That love I am speaking of is not denominational, cultural or tradition…it is embracing God what binds all believers into one body.
“So warmly welcome each other into God’s family, just as Christ has warmly welcomed you; then God will be glorified!” Romans 15:7 TLB personalized
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.