Grateful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sister Laurie
JesusTruth 1/4/2022

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

Blessings, Sister Laurie

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

We Have the Authority Part 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

Boomerang

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

The lyrics of the song go something like this…

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

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

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

I never want it to end…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings, Sister Laurie

Friendship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings, Sister Laurie

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

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

We ALL are Disciples

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

Email: JesusTruthBeliever@gmail.com

Not a Test God!

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.”

Blessings, Sister Laurie