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