ELEMENTS

Greetings to all of you, my sweet sisters in Jesus Christ.  “It was for freedom that Christ set you and I free…completely liberated; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be hampered and ensnared or allow sin to put a leash on you which Jesus Christ has removed.  There is no sin that can hold you captive unless you give in to it.” Galatians 5:1 personalized

This life we are living…the relationship we have with Jesus and others are as vital as the very air we breathe.  There are specific elements to our relationship with our Savior which are also necessary in our earthly relationships.  A couple weeks ago our youth pastor at Generations Church, Pastor Jesse Jamerson, spoke some words of Truth on this very subject.  Here find my takeaway from Pastor Jesse and God’s Truth.

God’s Word pours out the elements of our relationship with our Creator, His Son, and His children.  Let’s explore each of these elements so that you and I might find the Truth concerning a more intimate bond with God and others.  This has always been God’s Plan from those first days when Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden until Jesus returns…God’s primary concern has been our relationship with Him.

We know from God’s Word (Genesis 1:26-28) we were created in His image.  Unfortunately, that image was twisted and distorted by sin.  Jesus came to restore that image, His sacrifice paid the price for our sin once and for all…past, present, and future.   Now this opportunity is for this moment, here in our earthly bodies, to experience God’s Love through a relationship with Jesus.  To claim our Kingdom position as His Children, the daughters of the Most High King.  This position can only be manifested in your life through a thriving relationship with Your Savior and Heavenly Father.

This relationship I am speaking of has elements or attributes, without them we CANNOT receive the love God intends for each of us.  These very elements also must be found in our relationships with others.  Let’s take a close look at what is required…

Be Yourself –  There is no need to try and make a false impression on God, He already knows…also be real with those around you.  The Apostle Paul puts it right out there…”And when I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come as someone superior in speaking ability or wisdom, as I proclaimed to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.  I also was with you in weakness and fear, and in great trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of mankind, but on the power of God.” 

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NASB  We also find in 2 Timothy 2:15. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” False impressions to impress quickly fade.   Remember, God made you so let others see the real you.

Further study; Psalm 139:14, 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, Romans 12:1-21, James 5:15

Spend Time – It is said what you spend time with what you value.  Your relationship with God and others is dependent on the time you invest.  How can we know someone, or they know us if we don’t spend time with them?  God is passionate about a relationship with you.  God wants us to spend time with Him!  In fact, the more time we spend with God, the more He will be involved in our lives.  James 4:8 MSG says “So let God work his will in you.  Yell a loud “NO” to the Devil and watch him make himself scarce.  Say a quiet YES to God and he’ll be there in no time.  Quit dabbling in sin.  Purify your inner life.  Quit playing the field.  Hit bottom and  cry your eyes out.  The fun and games are over.  Get serious, really serious.  Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.”

More than anything, spending time with God not only builds your relationship but your faith.  “Come, let’s talk this over, says the Lord; no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool!” Isaiah 1:18 TLB  Our personal relationships also require time and conversation…How are we to know one another if there is no investment of our time. 

Further study: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Hebrews 10:25

Communication – 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” The Bible warns us that what we say and how we say it is important to God.  Conversation like spending time is crucial in every relationship.  God loves to hear our thoughts and ideas after all He created us to be unique and have a life purpose.  Through our conversations with Him that purpose is revealed.  With others God’s Word, speaks clearly about how through our communication we build or damage relationships.  “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.”  Proverbs 18:13NLT Also, Colossians 4:6NLT says, “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”  What we say and how we say it makes all the difference.  “  If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying?  You might as well be talking into empty space.”  1 Corinthians 14:9NLT

Further study: Proverbs 13:17, James 1:19, Psalm 19:14, Proverbs 15:1

Humility – This word often is confusing for us even the dictionary doesn’t really define what it means to walk in humility, in fact it is completely a world’s view and not Gods.  Simply stated to walk in humility is to fully understand “It’s NOT about you!”  Humility is better defined by servanthood, that is the way in which we serve others and God.  In fact, to serve God is to serve others without expectation of reward or recognition.  A true believer gives with a cheerful heart, quietly without expecting something in return.  You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure.  “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NASB, Here it is so plainly put…meditate upon these words, “Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life.  Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God!  Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious free life.  Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God.  Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God.  That person ignores who God is and what he is doing.  And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.”  Romans 8:5-8  When we are unable or unwilling to humble ourselves we are saying we don’t trust God.

Further Study: 1 Peter 5:6-7, James 4:6, Philippians 2:3-4, Matthew 18:4, Ephesians 4:1-3

Trust – Putting your trust in God is the way forward.  Set aside your anxieties and doubts and turn it all over to the Lord.  God says “Trust in me, your Father, the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to me, and I will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6personalized  “You will keep the man in perfect peace whose mind is kept on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 NLT How can you find peace without trusting God, in this world with so much uncertainty.  In those you love as well, there must be trust, without trust every single  other element in the relationship will fail. 

Further study: Psalm 9:10, Proverbs 28:26, Philippians 4:19, 2 Corinthians 5:7

Listen – Are you a good listener?  Listening is one of the easiest things you’ll ever do, and one of the hardest.

In a sense, listening is easy, or I should say hearing is easy. It doesn’t demand the initiative and energy required in speaking.  That’s why “faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ”. Romans 10:17NASB.  We must make listening to God a priority.  God is speaking to us continually; we must train our spirit to hear His Voice. But despite this ease — or perhaps precisely because of it — we often fight against it. In our sin, we’d rather trust in ourselves than another, amass our own righteousness than receive another’s, speak our thoughts than listen to someone else.  True, sustained, active listening is a great act of faith, and a great means of grace, both for ourselves and for others.   This happens when we invest time.  It is through reading His word, fasting, and praying we increase our ability to listen to God.  In our relationship with others the same applies, if you are so busy talking how can you know what your loved one is feeling or thinking.  Humility is at work in listening as well as having good communication skills.  So, learning to listen well won’t happen overnight. It requires discipline, effort, and intentionality.  You will get better with time.  Here are seven steps to becoming a better listener (1) Good listening requires patience.  Remember it’s not about you.  (2) Good listening is an act of love. (3) Good listening asks perspective questions.  (4) Good listening readies us to minister words of grace to precisely the place where the other is in need.  (5) Good  listening can be a greater service than speaking.  Lean in express concern with your body language. (6)  Put more emphasis on affirmation than on answers.  (7) Good listening should reflect our relationship with God.

Further Study: John 10:27, James 1:19, Matthew 7:27, Proverbs 12:15 and 18:13

Intentional – We must pursue God with intention.  Let’s be honest, the fast pace of life can easily whisk us away and into the busy grind, leaving the day void of conversations with God.  This is true for our relationships with others as well. “So then, be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17NASB  Our deepest friends should be committed Christ-followers that encourage us spiritually, and whom we are actively encouraging.  We are to be a light in our relationships and conversations with non-believers. “and let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25NASB  We must actively pursue two types of relationships: ones that contribute to our spiritual walk and ones to whom we can contribute, both believers and non-believers. “Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:13-14

Further Study:  Ephesians 4:15-16, Philippians 2:2-4, Colossians 4:2-6, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Proverbs 13:20

Intimacy – “Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.  Test my motives and my heart.  For I am always aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to your truth..” Psalm 26:2-3NLT  When writing to the church at Philippi, Paul said this, “I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself.  If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.” Philippians 3:10 When we look at this word “know” in its fullness of translation we see there is or was nothing more intimate, more personal, this is experienced through the Holy Spirit residing within us.  We can confidently say when we know God we are never alone.  Jesus had such an intimate relationship with God that He knew He was never alone.  No matter the circumstance, no matter who was around Him or how people felt about Him or treated Him, Jesus was at peace, confident, and able to overcome. This is what it is like to experience intimacy with God. God  is the starting place for this kind of intimacy with others.  If we cannot be intimate with our Savior, then we will surely struggle to be intimate with people.  Yet if we can be intimate with God, He can and will show us how to be free to encounter the kind of intimacy in relationships that we all desire.

Further Study: John 15:4-6, Zephaniah 3:17, John 17:3, Colossians 3:1, Romans 5:8, Matthew 10:30

When you are pursuing a relationship with God built upon these elements, it affects every aspect of your life. You’ll love differently, treat people differently, you will see the world and others through Jesus’ eyes.

In closing here are a few more scriptures to meditate upon…

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”  1 John 3:18NLT  

“You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters.  Love each other deeply with all your heart.”  1 Peter 1:22NLT

“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7 NLT

Finally, this is my desire for you sweet sisters…“I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love.  I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.”  Colossians 2:2 NLT

Blessings, Sister Laurie

If you would like to reach out 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.

Peripheral

Greetings to all of you, my sisters in Jesus Christ.  I am just going to jump right in.  There is a battling raging in the world.  Our position with God is solid, however God tells us in His Word…”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 2:16KJV

Today, the kingdom of God is under full attack…the forces of evil are out there bringing confusion and destruction.  While we know with confidence the battle is won for God’s eternal purpose people are still perishing daily.  The lines of identity, social justice, moral value have been blurred.  You might ask why is this happening?  It is because believers all over the world have taken the back seat and allowed God’s Truth to be silenced.

We must arm ourselves and not be shy, the back seat is not working, God wants us driving!  We must remember who has been given authority against the forces of darkness in this world right now!  Who has been called to share God’s love in this world with power and influence?  It is you and I my sister!  So, what can we do?  Let me make it clear…everyone is important and has value!  No matter how far astray they have become from the beautiful person God created them to be.

First, in God’s Word and Truth as spoken in Luke 4:18AMP, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me (the Messiah), Because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor.  He has sent Me to announce release (pardon, forgiveness) to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed (downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy).” 

Second, we have a responsibility in our relationships, not just family but those we encounter in our peripheral daily life, Colossians 2:2TLB says, “This is what I have asked of God for you: that you will be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love, and that you will have the rich experience of knowing Christ with real certainty and clear understanding.  For God’s secret plan, now at last made known, is Christ himself.”  Further, Colossians 3:13-14NTL “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”

We must stand up in a loving way to Satan’s attempts at destroying or should I say taking as many as he can with him, that really what it amounts to…Jesus is coming and those who have not heard, have not taken Jesus Christ as their Savior will suffer the consciences.  That is the harsh truth!

Here are some steps we can take to help those lost in the devil’s grip find freedom.

  • Arm yourself, know God…daily talk, pray and read His Word, seek out Godly instruct, worship, prophecy and sing of His power and goodness.  The more time we invest in Him the closer we grow and the more power to free those captives is revealed.  It is all about relationship with Him and then taking it to others.
  • Meet people where they are both physically and spiritually.  Right in their mess…reach out in love, offer encouragement that there is something so much better coming.  Identify with their situation, remember one size does not fit all, we must be relevant to the culture and situation.
  • Use world tools to reach people, don’t engage in political arguments instead promote God’s love.  Consider who is in your peripheral, their culture, background, past, outward appearance.  Remember everyone deserves to be loved.  Forgiveness is key.  We must live without offence, quick to forgive.  Please know I am not talking about living in an abusive relationship or tolerating abuse, it is how we react that shows our forgiveness and love. Live with healthy, Godly boundaries.
  • Listen…less words more listening.  Are you taking the time to really listen?  Do not be in a hurry, there is nothing more important than representing Jesus Christ, we do this through listening.  Be slow to speak and make sure your response is not coming from hidden hurt.  We must look to God for the Godly counsel that is what is needed in today’s world.  That doesn’t not mean pointing out sin.  As a person comes to Christ, Jesus will lead them out of their sin.  Romans 8:1TPT says…”So now the case is closed.  There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”  We must not give a list of rules to the one searching for it can be a huge stumbling block.  The first step for the one searching is to come to a place of encountering God and asking Jesus into their hearts, confessing He is Lord and asking for forgiveness.  Scripture does not tell us to point out their sin.   
  • Am I approachable?  1 Timothy 1:12-16TPT personalized says “My heart spills over with thanks to God for the way he continually empowers me, and to our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, who found me trustworthy and who authorized me to be his partner in this ministry.  Mercy kissed me, even though I used to be a blasphemer, a persecutor of believers, and a scorner of what turned out to be true.  I was ignorant and didn’t know what I was doing.  I was flooded with such incredible grace, like a river overflowing its banks it is a superabounding grace,  until I was full of faith and love for Jesus, the Anointed One!   I can testify that the Word is true and deserves to be received by all, for Jesus Christ came into the world to bring sinners back to life—even me, the worst sinner of all!   Yet I was captured by grace, so that Jesus Christ could display through me the outpouring of his Spirit, a demonstration of his perfect patience as a pattern to be seen for all those who would believe, in fact they are destined to believe in him for eternal life.”  We must consider, Colossians 4:4-6TPT personalized which instructs us through Paul “And please pray for me, that God will open a door of opportunity for us to preach the revelation of the mystery of Christ, for whose sake I am imprisoned.  Pray that I would unfold and reveal fully this mystery, for that is my delightful assignment. Walk in the wisdom of God as you live before the unbelievers and make it your duty to make him known giving this purpose your all.  Let every word you speak be drenched with grace, compassion and tempered with truth and clarity. For then you will be prepared to give a respectful answer to anyone who asks about your faith.”

Who can you bless today?  With a Word, a gesture or action?  Who is in your peripheral?

Blessings, Sister Laurie

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

We Have the Authority Part 2

Greetings to all my sisters in Jesus Christ!  As promised this is Part 2 of defeating strongholds and more.

Pastor Steve Berger put a clear perspective on who we are in God’s Kingdom, “A Christian’s identity as a sinner is a “before Christ” identity.  A believer is a saint who sins, not a sinner who sometimes “saints”.  Therefore, we cannot as believers let shame and condemnation have any foothold within us.  Those are “before Christ” conditions with their roots in Satan; they have no standing in our position as daughters of the Most High King.

Once again before we begin I feel the need to pray as we embrace God’s Truth that the devil has no power over us…

Father, we come before You asking for all scales to be removed from us that would hinder our ability to receive Your Truth, Your Word and to walk in Your Ways.  God, we proclaim Your Goodness and Mercy and ask now that You would instruct us in Your Truth which will destroy the enemies lies.  Holy Spirit come and fill us with the courage and strength to discern darkness and cast it out!  We speak now to any spirit of chaos or confusion and cast it out in the name of Jesus…we bind any manner of oppression right now in the name of Jesus…therefore we now fully receive all God has for us through His Word and the instruct of others who speak clearly of Your Truth God.  AMEN

Part of our fight against the darkness happens within our churches and amongst our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as with our ministry leadership.  I want to address the thought pattern that takes hold, the enemy knows if he can get us to dishonor our brothers and sisters as well as our leadership, by twisting the perception of their motives in our hearts, then he has blocked our ability to break strongholds and defeat the strongman.  In other words, we cannot be delivered from what is holding us captive.

The stronghold will manifest by speaking untruth in a number of ways, here are a few; Pride (you know better than the one giving Godly counsel); Offense (something a Godly believer did or says offends you or hurts you); dishonor (you hear and believe that the pastor or believer is all about money or raising themselves above this is an effort to discredit or “dishonor” that person); Justification (you seek out the yes man among your peers, looking for someone who will agree with your wrong thinking).  When the enemy does this you and I are unable to receive God’s Truth through these men and women of God.  Our deliverance from any existing stronghold is delayed or even becomes greater.

If your stronghold can stir you up in anyway, it has just stopped you from your source of freedom.  And if you say, “Jesus is my source” and do not seek help from your sisters in Christ then he has gained ground by isolating you and that in itself becomes a stronghold.  Spirit filled believers are the embodiment of your Savior, we need one another to defeat the darkness.  Godly instruction, worship, and prayer for and by others are part of the process of freedom, this process also extends outside of ourselves and generously gives forward.

Who is this strongman?

Kimberly Synder, founder of Royal Girlz Ministry gives us some details about the strongman,  “A strongman spirit is a high-ranking principality spirit.  They sit on thrones in the spirit realm and rule over the evil demonic spirits that operate in the earth realm.  These spirits can rule over certain geographical areas of the earth.  Strongman spirits can operate in churches as a ruling spirit.  They can be passed down through family generations and also dwell within an individual.  These forces block our prayers, our deliverance and our freedom.”

Ephesians 6:1NKJV says “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

In Matthew 12:28-29NJKV Jesus gives us some details of who the strongman is and how we must destroy his efforts.  “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.  Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?  And then he will plunder his house.”

Furthermore, Kimberly gives us more details and the method by which he can be overcome, “God’s Word tells us that when the strongman Satan is fully armed and guards his palace, his possessions are safe until someone even stronger attacks and overpowers him, strips him of his weapons, and carries off his belongings.  We are the stronger, we have been given authority from Jesus to go into the enemy’s camp and bind him up and take away his goods.  These goods include our marriages, our children, our businesses, our churches, and most important lost souls.  Anything that the devil has stolen from us is ours to go in and take back.  The Bible says that the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it ( Matthew 11:12).  We have been given the strength and weapons to advance upon the enemy and take back the goods under the protection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus has given us the keys to bind and loose.  Whatever we bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever we loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  We bind them from operating while we loose the gifts of Holy Spirit to come in and take over.  We loose the gifts and workings of Holy Spirit to set captives free, bring light into darkness, remove the chains that have us bound and to proclaim freedom (Matthew 18:18).”

Let’s continue to look at ways we give evil spirits an opportunity to establish footholds and/or strongholds in our lives…there are numerous areas of sin through which the enemy gains ground in our lives so that he can bully and oppress.

Generational Sin:  We can and are influenced by the idolatrous sins of past generations.  Exodus 20:4-6 tells us, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth.  You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, inflicting the punishment of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing favor to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  When our ancestors set things of this world above their love of God the cycle of generational sin began.  We learn from  what has been modeled before us, we live in ways that our parents taught us, with each generation this darkness grows and consumes.  Some easily seen examples are addiction, divorce, child abuse, and sexual sin.  However, there are subtle sins that make our relationship with God and our power to defeat Satan difficult.  We grow up watching our elders even believers…gossip, lie, and hate.  Selfishness is a tool of the devil, and we are spoiled into thinking about self and rising our pleasure and comfort above God.  What will I get if I….reward becomes more important than obedience.  These all fall under idolatrous sin.

Rebellion: Rebellion is failing to submit to the authority of God and to the authorities that He has placed over us in our earthly lives.  In the first half of  1 Samuel 15:23NLT we see, “Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.”  Saul had been given clear instruction to destroy everything in the battle against the nation of Amalek, the instruction was very clear and yet Saul decided he knew better.  In his rebellion and stubbornness, he kept back some of the livestock for sacrifice.  This simple seemingly “good” disobedience caused Saul to lose God’s favor.  The Word gives us specific information about those to whom we are to submit…those not to rebel against.

Pride: When we elevate ourselves above others, behave arrogantly or harbor prideful attitudes, we are emulating Satan rather

 than being who we have been created to reflect, the image of God.  Satan was removed from God’s presence and cast down

because of his pride.  God gives us all the strength we need to stand against such evil desires.  James 4:6-8TPT personalized says,

“But He continues to pour out more and more grace upon us.  For it says, “God resists you when you are proud but continually pours

Out grace which is the greater gift when you are humble.” So then, surrender to God.  Stand up to the devil and resist him and he

 will flee in agony because of the One who stands with you.  Move your heart closer and closer to God, and so close He

will be touching you.  But make sure you cleanse your life, you sinners, and keep your heart pure and stop doubting.”

Habitual Sin: The repeated habitual practice of a specific sin can lead to bondage to “the god of this age.”  Ephesians 4:26-27 gives a clear example of habitual sin, “unforgiveness” left to fester it gives the devil a foothold leading to greater sin.  This is the nature of sin…rebellion against God and this rebellion is the root is who Satan is.  He was the first to rebel and he continues this today by influencing and deceiving God’s people.  Addictions are all forms of habitual sin as well as being a habitual gossip, liar or thief.  Habitual sin opens the door to be demonized (demonization) meaning that there is some measure of inner, at least partial, direct influence (or control) being exercised by the demonic realm.  Wherever sin exists, the demonic realm also exists and is at work to negatively influence believers.  This is done in an effort by the demonic realm to limit or negate the powerful effects of the person’s gifts and faith in Christ.

Deception: Jesus described Satan as a liar and the father of lies. In John 8, Jesus is speaking to some Jewish leaders he tells them their hearts are closed to God’s truth he then tells them “You are the offspring of your father, the devil, and you serve your father very well, passionately carrying out his desires.  He’s been a murderer right from the start!  He never stood with the truth, for he’s full of nothing but lies—lying is his native tongue.  He is a master of deception and the father of lies!”

Paul also warned Timothy of deceiving spirits using men for the purpose of seducing them away from the truth, “The Holy Spirit has explicitly revealed: At the end of this age, many will depart from the true faith one after another, devoting themselves to spirits of deception and following demon-inspired revelations and theories.  Hypocritical liars will deceive many, and their consciences won’t bother them at all!” 1 Timothy 4:1-2TPT

We can be easily deceived by cultural messages, behaviors and customs into false beliefs.  We can also deceive ourselves, “So why fool yourself and live under an illusion?  Make no mistake about it, if anyone thinks he is wise by the world’s standards, he will be made wiser by being a fool for God!” 1 Corinthians 3:18TPT

Clearly God is warning us about being self-deceived.  Having a teachable heart and learning wisdom from above is the best way to guard from self-deception. Romans 12:1-2 speaks clearly that we are not to conform to this world but to renew ourselves in God’s truth continually.  Often it is difficult to reveal the source of our wrong thinking, the lie but we know without a doubt that Satan is the father of lies.

The good news is…THE GRACE OF GOD CAN CHANGE ANY PATTERN WITH DIVINE POWER!

Here are the Symptoms of Oppression which indicate a stronghold,  keep an eye out for them in yourself and others, be quick to rebuke and seek help from those you hold as spiritual warriors in God’s Kingdom.

Disinterest in or inability to read Scripture, comprehend the teaching of the Word, or participate in worship and prayer

Possession of items used in Pagan, New Age, Eastern, or Native American worship rituals or in Freemasonry ceremonies, these must be destroyed, thrown away.

Fearful, bizarre dreams and/or night experiences related to sexual perversion, occultic symbolism, or violence, evil presences, visitations, or impressions of demonic face

Conscious invitation extended to Satan and/or demons to become involved in one’s life

Systematic patterns of personal sinfulness, i.e., lying, dishonesty, and resentment toward others; sexual acting out; and racial hatred

Personality disturbance, i.e., paranoia, vengefulness, abuse of others (physical, emotional, sexual, or spiritual), self-mutilation, suicide attempts, depression, rebellion, and bizarre, violent, blasphemous thoughts

Addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, work, food, exercise, internet, or television

Experiencing no relief from medical treatments (including prescribed drugs), personal prayer, or psychological counseling

A family history of demonic influence coming from witchcraft or satanic worship; Native American, New Age, or Eastern religious practices; Freemasonry

Sweet sisters, I know this writing has been difficult for some of you.  BUT we have a Savior and a Father God who loves us and gives us HOPE in every situation.  Stand on this truth…” So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love.  I’m convinced that His love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken His love.” Romans 8:38TPT

If we are going to tear down strongholds through the Word of God’s Truth (John 17:17), then you need to know what God is saying about you and how he sees you. The Bible tells us that God does not see or think about us like our parents, friends, and others see or think about us.  1 Samuel 16:7NASB “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  Since this is the case, we therefore should not see ourselves through the subjective thoughts of man (how are parents see us as well as how our friends, co-workers, and people we come in contact with see us.)

Many people are living their lives base on how people see them or who people say they are.  People will not always know your worth; you need to know your worth.  Your true identity is found in God who created you for His purpose alone.   Your parents may be the one who gave birth to you and brought you up, but you did not come from your parents, you came from God, your parents are just vessels God used to bring you into the world. Remember “I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:14

Closing Prayer for you…

Heavenly Father, let these words Your Words sink deep within my sisters, root out and expose anything that is not of you.  Renew their mind and clean up their hearts, give discernment to their spirit, Holy Spirit speak to their spirit and strengthen them.  Father I proclaim this truth…”For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Remove any spirit of fear or doubt within them let them know and experience supernaturally their value in Your Kingdom, let them walk in Your peace, make them battle ready warriors to help others to reveal and destroy any darkness. In Jesus’ name…AMEN

Blessings, Sister Laurie

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

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

Pastor Gary Costella, Awesome Church, Sydney Australia

Kimberly Synder, founder of Royal Girlz Ministry

Rev. Dr. David M. Oliver, Living H2O Ministries

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

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

Live Each Day in the Light

“To live like this is all the more urgent, for time is running out and you know it is a strategic hour in human history. It is time for us to wake up! For our full salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  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.”  Romans 13:11-12 TPT

Today, I am continuing in Romans 13…there is so much to embrace!  I don’t know about you but I don’t want to find my self saying “Oh Crap!” as our King comes to carry me home. How about you?  There is no doubt that I will be take home either through my flesh dying or in the twinkling of as eye with others.  “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the sound of the last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead who believed in Christ will be raised imperishable, and we will be completely changed wondrously transformed.” 1 Corinthian 15:52 AMP  Will there be a moment when we say “But I…” “Just one more…” That’s where the “Oh Crap” comes in.  I don’t know but if there is a possibility of that feeling or emotional I do not want it!  I want to be able to say…”I AM READY!”

In Romans 13 it says “Night’s darkness is dissolving away as a new day of destiny dawns.”  What is this darkness? The darkness is unbelief…the darkness is lukewarmness…the darkness is  persecution. The darkness is every kind of conflict, natural catastrophe, calamity, and war.  Jesus speaks of these in Matthew 24, it is the darkness of the present hour.  How do you receive these words?  Does it put a sense of urgency in your spirit?  This is truth…one way or another a new day for you and I is coming, it is about to burst forth…the long night of this earthly existence is almost over.  When you think about eternity which you and I are currently living; let me explain…eternity started the moment God placed your spirit within your flesh growing in your mother.  Psalm 139:13-14  That spirit…the true you was created by God and it continues now.  When you except Christ as your Savior it like an electrical shock to that spirit, a rebirth, like heart surgery repairing your true self so that you might live as God intended. The main truth I want you to grasp here is the earthly life is so incredibly short, it is but a twinkle in the twinkling spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:52.  Eternity has no earthly language to define, we try with words;  infinite or unending time, endless life, sometimes defined as what exists outside time.  We can put a beginning to eternity as spoke in Psalm 139…but we cannot fathom it’s unending.

So, I now get back to my original thought, my devotion to Jesus has been fueled by this truth…I do not want to be ashamed at His appearing if that is possible, no regret, nothing left undone…Today I just can not bear that thought!  Heavenly Father…reveal those things that MUST GO in me, let me be fully ready, let me not miss an opportunity to speak life and truth…let me love where love is needed, give me compassion, let me see with your eyes and live with Kingdom values.

God gave us the sunrise to remember that Jesus, the Son has Risen.  There is just something life giving and wonderful about a sunrise…clean crisp air…the pure light as it makes it way through the trees, over the mountains.  It touches our emotions and now let it touch your spirit with hope and truth…igniting a fire within you that cannot be contained! Jeremiah 20:9 says, “If I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak His name anymore,” Then my heart becomes a burning fire Shut up in my bones. And I am weary of enduring and holding it in; I cannot endure it nor contain it any longer.”

Look up a New Day is coming…

Sister Laurie

Let Love Be the Defining Quality in Your Life

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

Romans 14:19-21 MSG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sister Laurie

God’s Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Sister Laurie