Today my sweet sisters in Christ Jesus I want to explore with you Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi found in Philippians 2:1-11. The church was experiencing many of the same challenges you and I face as believers. Conflict, unforgiveness, pride, selfish ambition, vain conceit, dislike, and false teaching had found it way into the church.
Paul opens his letter in this way… “Therefore, if there is any encouragement and comfort in Christ as there certainly is in abundance, if there is any consolation, comfort, support of love, if there is any fellowship that we share in the Spirit, if there is any great depth of tenderness, affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love toward one another, knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel—the good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ.” Verses 1-2 personalized Paul is pleading with them to resolve the tension and seek to heal any brokenness found. He says if that can be accomplished it will make his joy complete (verse 2).
Paul further describes the condition of the church with these words “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit through factional motives, or strife, but with an attitude of humility being neither arrogant nor self-righteous, regard others as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”( verses 3-4)
Put simply you cannot claim to love God and dislike, hold bitterness for others. The question arises “Why do people do the things they do?” I believe that we have not fully comprehended the suffering and sacrifice Christ made for us…that day on the cross in which supernatural love was poured out for us…Loving others is so costly only Jesus’s costly love for us can move us to bear the cost. Jesus has a radical love for us! This love is so profound, so expense…it is a mystery so deep we can only know it in our spirit! If we can grab hold of this love, we will be so rich in love we will be forever changed, unable to dislike or hold bitterness. In our humanness…our mind and body cannot ever understand! This love is spiritual and supernatural! When we step into this love it is spiritually supercharged.
I want to try and bridge our lack of understanding by helping you and I to understand exactly what Jesus did that day. Most of us can easily say these words “Jesus suffered and died on the cross for me” however that is so limited. The depth of Jesus’s love for us is revealed on the cross not so much in the physical suffering but in how society looked at this form of death. What does it cost for God to love us? We know He sent His only Son to earth for the purpose of leading us in knowing God and restoring his relationship with us, revealing who we really are and redeeming us through Jesus’s death. Philippians 2:6-8TPT says “He existed in the form of God, yet he gave no thought to seizing equality with God as his supreme prize. Instead he emptied himself of his outward glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant to be exploited. He became human! He humbled himself and became vulnerable, choosing to be revealed as a man and was obedient. He was a perfect example, even in his death—a criminal’s death by crucifixion!”
The cross was consider to be the most degrading form of death, the people of Jesus time saw crucifixion differently; the Jews saw it as being cursed by God, ultimate insult, shunned; the Romans used it much like the Mexican cartels today who hang their victims in a public place as if to say “don’t mess with us”; the Greeks saw it as humiliating, scandalous, disgraceful, further evidence that God could care less about humanity; to all it was an abomination, degradation, torture fit only for a slave. There is no other death in which the individual’s life could be destroyed that has the same impact and yet Jesus took the weight of the world, the sin and suffered this for you and me. I don’t know about you but just writing these words is making me nauseas and tearful.
What great love…I will never fully comprehend while I walk this earth. This is where love is revealed…we must let this revelation lead us into understanding how much we are loved and redeemed by a risen Lord. And for this reason alone…verse 9-11TPT says “Because of that obedience, God exalted him and multiplied his greatness! He has now been given the greatest of all names! The authority of the name of Jesus causes every knee to bow in reverence! Everything and everyone will one day submit to this name—in the heavenly realm, in the earthly realm, and in the demonic realm. And every tongue will proclaim in every language: “Jesus Christ is Lord Yahweh,” bringing glory and honor to God, his Father!”
You see, the Father, the Creator of us all acknowledges what Jesus has done for love! We are rich in love! And so now I leave you with this question can you love as He did? Philippians 2:5 leaves us with these words…”And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let his mindset become your motivation.”
Blessings, Sister Laurie
This writing came to me after watching a teaching on Real Love by Pastor Akshay Rajkumar the lead Pastor of Redeemer Church in New Delphi, India. It is available on RightNow Media.com
People today live-in fear of death. There are organizations all over the words spending millions on research that will extend life and even prevent death. People are choosing to be frozen in hope that their body can be restored at some point in the future.
Isaiah talks about his body being a tent which is folded up as it dies. In 1 Corinthians 5:1NASB, Paul says “For we know that if our earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made by hands, eternal in the heavens.” I share this scripture with you, because our flesh was not created to last and in this fallen world it is even more vulnerable to the wear and tear of life. That is why God uses the word “tent” or in some translations “tabernacle” which was also made of canvas to describe where our spirit lives here on earth. It weathers, grows rigid, and is torn as time goes by…yet God wants us to have confidence because our everlasting existence is found in our spirit.
We find ourselves distracted by this fear, making bucket lists, living indulgent lives trying to get it all in. Paul writes to the church in Philippi these wonderful words while in prison…Philippians 1:23-26TPT, “So here’s my dilemma: Each day I live means bearing more fruit in my ministry; yet I fervently long to be liberated from this body and joined fully to Christ. That would suit me fine, but the greatest advantage to you would be that I remain alive. So, you can see why I’m torn between the two—I don’t know which I prefer. Yet deep in my heart I’m confident that I will be spared so I can add to your joy and further strengthen and mature your faith. When I am freed to come to you, my deliverance will give you a reason to boast even more in Jesus Christ.”
Notice the words in italics…Paul knows that his task of equipping, discipling and loving believers is not yet done. He even says his desire is to be spared so he can add to their joy and strength as well as grow their faith. He knows the wonder and pure joy of going home to be with Jesus, yet his spirit knows that his time on earth still is full of purpose.
The thief on the cross heard these words from Jesus…”And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”” Luke 23:42-43NASB
Death is better than to remain in the body, however, to stay in our temporary tent and serve God is to live in the joy of sharing Jesus with those we encounter.
Paul has found how to live in confidence, he keeps on living because he is compelled to continue teaching, serving and loving those God has placed around him. We must pattern ourselves after Paul…
Paul knew with confidence that Jesus breaks the power of death in two ways;
We live in confidence because Jesus destroyed the fear of death by breaking sin and death’s power over us through His death and resurrection.
He gives eternal life to you and me when we make Him our Savior, in that, we now live with confidence to see Him face to face in Heaven.
Now with confidence embrace this truth… “In Jesus, my sisters, after listening to and reading in God’s Word the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise, who is a first installment of our inheritance, in regard to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14 NASB personalized.
In closing my sisters in Jesus Christ, I urge you to live for Christ, make the most out of every day. For not only is your time short but those around you time is short as well. Embrace them in the love of Christ.
My prayer for you is that when you feel anxious or fearful, ask God to give you the confidence to live for Him and be set free from the fear of death. Speak with the authority of heaven and cast out any spirit of anxiety in you! Ask God to increase His power within you to say as Paul did…”For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
This writing came to me after watching a teaching on Real Confidence by Pastor Akshay Rajkumar the lead Pastor of Redeemer Church in New Delphi, India. It is available on RightNow Media.com
Friendship 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
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ! We as believers have a tremendous responsibility in how we speak and interact with others. Before I begin my next writing God has given from Romans 13; I want to address a situation I was witness to yesterday, in fact two situations. Unfortunately, each of these situations happen with the same believer who I know well and regard as a sister in Christ. I know she had best intentions however we must be ever so careful with our words. Our tongue can do the devil’s work! Let me explain…
First Situation: During a Sunday morning greeting around a cup of coffee at church a young woman who is a growing believer approached a sweet sister in Christ with a typical greeting. The usual “How are you?” was exchanged. This young woman had recently stopped dating a man, who had followed her to church a couple of times. The concerned sister started a deeper conversation, fishing for details…well-meaning but the result left the young woman in anguish. You see this young woman’s marriage ended several years ago. The relationship was a violent one, abuse and drugs were a huge part of the marriage. This young woman spent years broken and held captive in this relationship. Over the last 5 years she has been delivered from her traumatic past. She is now walking in the light of Jesus full of hope. Somehow the conversation got around to the fact that she was divorced, the sister began down a path that divorce was breaking a covenant with Moses, negatively speaking she pointed out how this young woman needed to seek reconciliation. Without knowing the details or what this young woman has been through this sister now becomes God’s judge and convicts this young woman with her words. I might add mixing biblical truth with condemnation. Do you see what I am getting at…WE MUST BE CAREFUL WITH OUR WORDS?! I believe the sister was speaking out of her flesh and not out of her spirit. We must always speak out of love and ask God to give us words of encouragement no matter what the circumstance. Fortunately, I caught the tail end of the conversation and the young woman now crushed, privately asked me to clarify and pray with her.
Second Situation: I attended a prayer meeting and one of the prayer requests was for us to pray for a woman who son had served in Afghanistan and was killed in action several years ago. The woman bringing the request was a family member. Based on what is happening over there currently, all the grief of this loss has come back along with the sense that this young man sacrificed his life in vain. I want to say that this scenario of someone suffering loss and how we as believers in our effort to bring comfort fail. I have heard this question asked so many times…”Was he a believer?” “Was he or she saved?” What difference does this make? Can you see how these questions can send the one asking for prayer down a dark road, dwelling on where the loved one is now? Does that change the way we pray for those loved ones hurting in their loss? Definitely Not! Even if the family members are not believers God still is working and will still bring comfort. Can you see how distressing this can be for the person asking for prayer? Once again be careful what questions we ask and how we respond when loss is involved. This is a time when little words can be spoken and listening ears are needed. Offer prayers of comfort.
Ok, thank you for listening I pray you carefully consider my words. I will get off my soap box…
Romans 13:12-13TPT says “Night’s darkness is dissolving away as a new day of destiny dawns. So, we must once and for all strip away what is done in the shadows of darkness, removing it like filthy clothes. And once and for all we clothe ourselves with the radiance of light as our weapon. We must live honorably, surrounded by the light of this new day, not in the darkness of drunkenness and debauchery, not in promiscuity and sensuality, not being argumentative or jealous of others.”
Today I want to talk about the darkness spoken of in these verses. Last week I offered words of encouragement and with intent spoke of the urgency of this hour. Verse 12 continues this thinking because for we are closer now, this moment to meeting Jesus face to face closer then we were this morning. Right? Think about that…does that inspire you? The darkness of living in this fallen world will soon end for believers! Hallelujah!
Let us move forward and see what God is now teaching us…Verse 13 is a warning to put aside certain behavior, put your seat belt on the Truth is about to challenge you;
Depending on your translation you might find…
Rioting KJV, gluttony GNV, carousing NASB or orgies NIV in the Greek “komos” letting loose, carousal, binder, binge, spree. This might mean overspending, loss of self-control in behavior or speech. Excessiveness or greedy, unreasonable.
Drunkenness KJV, GNV, NASB and NIV in the Greek “methe” use of an intoxicant, intoxication, that being any kind of substance, a condition of disgrace.
Chambering KJV, GNV, sexual promiscuity NASB, sexual immorality NIV in the Greek “koite” cohabitation outside of marriage, aggressive infliction, perversion of God’s design for intimacy.
Wantonness KJV, GNV, debauchery NASB, sensuality NIV in the Greek “aselgeia” licentiousness, recklessness, lasciviousness, carnality, shameless behavior, pursuit of physical sexual pleasure, lust.
Strife KJV, GNV, NASB, quarreling NIV in the Greek “eris” to quarrel, wrangling, bickering, contention, rivalry, an unsavory, immoral desire for power or control.
Envying KJV, GNV, jealousy NASB, NIV, in the Greek “zelos” unfavorable zeal, malevolence, resentfulness, indignation, mistrustfulness, a strong and relentless desire for what belongs to another
Why am I defining these undesirable behaviors? They are common in this day, even we as believers must examine ourselves and motives regularly. Let me paint a picture of how this warning must be taken seriously and how we as believers must teach our love ones the dangerous traps hidden here. During the spring in America, there is a common practice among young people primarily college age to travel during spring break and gather with other young people. Often this is a time of reckless abandonment to all that is decent. Romans 13:13 captures much of the conduct during this week…it has been hailed as a time for “the rite of passage”. Passage of what? Innocence and purity? It is a time of relentless evil and awful indulgence. What a price is paid by the participants…the shame and regret they carry long after.
The Spirit pleads “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23ESV
Again, the Holy Spirit cries out to us…”So, beloved, since you are looking forward to these things, be diligent and make every effort to be found by Him at His return spotless and blameless, in peace that is, inwardly calm with a sense of spiritual well-being and confidence, having lived a life of obedience to Him.” 2 Peter 3:14AMP
This obedience is for you and I, to protect us and prepare us for the future. Paul says in Ephesians 5:27TPT Jesus in coming and here we find a picture of how He desires to find us…”Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? To surrender yourselves to God to be His sacred, living sacrifices. And live-in holiness, experiencing all that delights His heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship. Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in His eyes.”
Let us stay as far away from sin as possible…”But clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for nor even think about gratifying the flesh in regard to its improper desires.” Romans 13:14AMP
Right now, examine yourself…how can you be ready, are you properly dressed, completely immersed in our Lord Jesus Christ…How can you clothe yourself in the radiance of Jesus Christ?
There is a fork in the road one way leads to the world and instant gratification that only satisfies for a moment…do not delay take no detour choose the other route… put on the Armor of Light, Jesus Christ!
“To live like this is all the more urgent, for time is running out and you know it is a strategic hour in human history. It is time for us to wake up! For our full salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Night’s darkness is dissolving away as a new day of destiny dawns. So, we must once and for all strip away what is done in the shadows of darkness, removing it like filthy clothes. And once and for all we clothe ourselves with the radiance of light as our weapon.” Romans 13:11-12 TPT
Today, I am continuing in Romans 13…there is so much to embrace! I don’t know about you but I don’t want to find my self saying “Oh Crap!” as our King comes to carry me home. How about you? There is no doubt that I will be take home either through my flesh dying or in the twinkling of as eye with others. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the sound of the last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead who believed in Christ will be raised imperishable, and we will be completely changed wondrously transformed.” 1 Corinthian 15:52 AMP Will there be a moment when we say “But I…” “Just one more…” That’s where the “Oh Crap” comes in. I don’t know but if there is a possibility of that feeling or emotional I do not want it! I want to be able to say…”I AM READY!”
In Romans 13 it says “Night’s darkness is dissolving away as a new day of destiny dawns.” What is this darkness? The darkness is unbelief…the darkness is lukewarmness…the darkness is persecution. The darkness is every kind of conflict, natural catastrophe, calamity, and war. Jesus speaks of these in Matthew 24, it is the darkness of the present hour. How do you receive these words? Does it put a sense of urgency in your spirit? This is truth…one way or another a new day for you and I is coming, it is about to burst forth…the long night of this earthly existence is almost over. When you think about eternity which you and I are currently living; let me explain…eternity started the moment God placed your spirit within your flesh growing in your mother. Psalm 139:13-14 That spirit…the true you was created by God and it continues now. When you except Christ as your Savior it like an electrical shock to that spirit, a rebirth, like heart surgery repairing your true self so that you might live as God intended. The main truth I want you to grasp here is the earthly life is so incredibly short, it is but a twinkle in the twinkling spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:52. Eternity has no earthly language to define, we try with words; infinite or unending time, endless life, sometimes defined as what exists outside time. We can put a beginning to eternity as spoke in Psalm 139…but we cannot fathom it’s unending.
So, I now get back to my original thought, my devotion to Jesus has been fueled by this truth…I do not want to be ashamed at His appearing if that is possible, no regret, nothing left undone…Today I just can not bear that thought! Heavenly Father…reveal those things that MUST GO in me, let me be fully ready, let me not miss an opportunity to speak life and truth…let me love where love is needed, give me compassion, let me see with your eyes and live with Kingdom values.
God gave us the sunrise to remember that Jesus, the Son has Risen. There is just something life giving and wonderful about a sunrise…clean crisp air…the pure light as it makes it way through the trees, over the mountains. It touches our emotions and now let it touch your spirit with hope and truth…igniting a fire within you that cannot be contained! Jeremiah 20:9 says, “If I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak His name anymore,” Then my heart becomes a burning fire Shut up in my bones. And I am weary of enduring and holding it in; I cannot endure it nor contain it any longer.”
The scripture says…And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new (khawdata) covenant, which is shed for many for the remission(forgiveness) of sins.” Matthew 26:26-28 NKJV, also found in Mark 14 and Luke 22
Bible Gateway footnotes make the significance of these precious words from Jesus’ lips even more intimate…translated from the Aramaic we now see the depth of these words…The word “khawdata” can be translated as “new,” but is even better defined as “renewed” covenant or “repaired” covenant. After each disciple took the cup and drank from it, they passed it to the next one. This was a love covenant between Jesus and each of his disciples, and it sealed the affection they had for one another. This remains today, when you and I take communion with our family, other believers it becomes an expression of our love and affection for them and for our loving Savior Jesus.
I recently read an article about each of the elements and how they not only fulfill prophecy but bring to life the events of the Old and New Testament. We know from scripture that the last supper was celebrated in remembrance of Passover. Passover found in Exodus 12 speaks about a time in history when the Israelites were slaves living in Egypt. God sent Moses to free the Israelites…Pharaoh didn’t listen or pay attention as God’s emissary Moses brought God’s wrath down upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, nine plagues later Pharaoh still would not relent and let God’s people go! The tenth plague would be one which would bring death to the first-born male of every household. God’s people were instructed to cover their doorways with the blood of a sacrificial lamb thus keeping death away from their household.
The shedding of sacrificial blood marked freedom for the Israelites and from that time forward Passover has been celebrated in remembrance of all God had done for His people.
Let us move forward in time…Passover had come, Jesus was in Jerusalem with His disciples, moments before they were sat down to share the Passover meal, Jesus spoke to His betrayer (let me leave that right there for another time) after which Jesus began by taking a piece of bread, blessing it carefully tearing a piece for each disciple He said, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19 AMP
Jesus was speaking to them about the coming events when He, the prefect Lamb of God, would be tortured, beaten, tormented, crucified, and buried. Jesus told us that His body would be broken for us. A prophecy fulfilled in Isaiah 53:5 that says, “…He was whipped so we could be healed.” This healing power achieved in the act of the One True God, Savior, God’s Only Son…holds the power to heal our physical and mental ailments no matter how severe or life threating. Peter reminds us in I Peter 2:24 “…by whose stripes you were healed.”
As you think and visualize what Christ endured for you…every lash of the whip, flesh torn, blood shed…all done willingly to heal you and me. This is the pure and simple truth of Christ and its power is available to all who believe.
Jesus then took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission(forgiveness) of sins.” Jesus drank along with the disciples; this established the FINAL and NEW COVENANT for all God’s children (believers) once and for all.
The word covenant in English traces its roots back to a Latin word that means “coming together”. The Old Testament Covenants clearly demonstrate that God’s plan of redemption was in motion soon after the fall (Adam and Eve’s sin). In fact, Hosea speaks of a covenant between God and Adam in verse 6:7 saying, “Like Adam, they (the Israelites) have broken the covenant…they were unfaithful to me.” In these covenants there are conditions to be met by the human parties involved. At other times, God declared what He was going to do no matter how the parties responded. Once God made a covenant, it was not to be altered or renegotiated.
I want to briefly establish each of the Old Testament Covenants so that as we look to God’s New and Final covenant marked by Holy Communion we can see how they each relate to God’s promise for His children both you and I as well.
Abrahamic Covenant – Genesis 12 God established a covenant with Abram (who later name was changed the Abraham by God) when He said “I will make you into a great nation and will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you,…and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Later God spoke more about this covenant saying, “your offspring will be like stars in the sky to numerous to count”. This covenant can be summed up as (1) a promised people, (2) a promised blessing, (3) a promised land.
Mosaic Covenant – Exodus 19-20 God has always had great plans for His people. After freeing the Israelites from Egypt. God shared his plan with Moses and from that encounter we God’s people were given the Ten Commandments. This covenant is conditional “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.” Exodus 19:5 NKJV The Mosaic Covenant was based on faithfulness of both God and Israel. Of course, Israel failed, but God is faithful, even when we are not. The Laws (covenant conditions) found in the Ten Commandments were given as an opportunity to show our love for God through obedience, even as they stumbled… God still had blessings for all the peoples of the world. Israel was chosen as a servant to help bring that future “blessing” the gospel and Jesus Christ.
Davidic Covenant –
Is the prefect link between the Old Testament Covenants and the New Testament Covenant. Just as God gave Moses a message to deliver to Israel, God gave Nathan a message, a divine covenant, to deliver to King David found in
(2 Samuel 7:5-16) so important to God’s plan it is repeated twice…”Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” Nathan was speaking Of Jesus who’s coming kingdom would be established forever through David’s lineage. There was no condition to this covenant, God would and has fulfilled this covenant through Jesus. Peter tied the two together in his Day of Pentecost Sermon found in
Acts 2:29-31TPT personalized, “Everyone, I can tell you there is no doubt that David has both died and been buried in his tomb, which remains to this day. So, you can see that he was not referring to himself with those words. But as a prophet, he knew God’s faithful promise, made with God’s unbreakable oath, that one of his descendants would take his throne. So, when peering into the future, David prophesied of the Messiah’s resurrection. And God revealed to him that the Messiah would not be abandoned to the realm of death, nor would his body experience decay.”
And so now here we are the New Covenant sealed with the blood of Christ at that first “Holy Communion” shared by Christ, Himself and His disciples. The new covenant is a spiritual relationship with out Creator. But we sisters in Christ need help in maintaining that divine fellowship. The Old Testament is a continuing story of failures of God’s chosen people. Yet God’s plan from the beginning included a solution for this need…Jesus is the mediator in our relationship with the Father see Hebrews 12:24. Jesus overcame the differences and restored a loving relationship between a sinless deity and sinful humans. To overcome required a painful sacrifice. Look again at the words Jesus as He instituted the Lord’s Supper. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:20 The Old Mosaic Covenant required the blood of a slaughtered animal as a sin offering. These regular offerings did not bring permanent obedience and relationship. The sin offering was a repeated bloody event that took the life of an animal. The animal could never be a mediator. But of Son of God could, and He willingly came to earth to be that needed permanent sacrifice. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men.”
I have come a long way so that you might fully understand why the taking and sharing of Holy Communion is an intimate experience between Jesus our Personal Mediator and God our Forever Father. Listen closely to the voice of our Mediator the next time you partake in Holy Communion: “and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
One more scripture found in John 6:53-58 ESV, “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. …”
In closing, the words communion, community, communication and common all have similar origin. The church of Jesus Christ is a community of believers that are not divided by denomination by are united by Christ. It also is an opportunity to have communion with God. It is an expression of God’s Glory poured out and into us through Christ’s Body and Blood.
James 1:12 says “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
Right now, let us ask God to help us understand this persevering thing, which is to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty. “God help me understand how to recognize and overcome temptation. To embrace Your truth in my life. Reveal to me the spiritual tools necessary to defeat the attacks of the enemy. Amen”
Temptation is defined as “the desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.” Well, that is definitely clear enough…so how do we fight temptation?
Temptation is a prelude to sin, how we react and who we call on for help makes all the different in the world. There is a pattern to temptation, how it gets our attention and then puts evil desire into our mind. This evil desire turns into sin. Sin is an action word the dictionary says it is a noun, but to me a verb is a better definition. A verb is defined as “a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence” see where I am going? Sin has movement and it starts with a thought, our mind dwells on the temptation until we can no longer resist. Temptation is often a short cut, an escape, or a desire to get revenge. Many times, our genuine desire to be accepted and loved creates an unhealthy temptation to feel pleasure which leads to sin.
God gave us a hunger and thirst to have a personal relationship with Him, Satan corrupted that hunger and thirst into a “shortcut”, this is how Adam and Eve were deceived, the garden was not enough…they wanted more…to be more like God. They did not understand that they already were “made in His image” the closest and most highly cherished by God. In this deception temptation was born.
The first thing you need to understand that no one escapes temptation. Temptation is Satan’s primary weapon to destroy you. In John 10:10 God warns us “The thief (devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy”. We cannot stop there we need to continue to the end of the scripture because freedom is found in those next few words, “ I (Jesus) came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Today, I want to help you and I tune up our skills of recognizing temptation and then stop it dead in its tracks…reaching out to Jesus who is the great Overcomer.
God knew temptation would be part of our life, our ability to resist would need His help, the help of a Savior. So, God turned temptation into an opportunity. God wants us to see temptation as a stepping stone to spiritual maturity, not as something that keeps you captive. Many times we think temptation starts in our circumstances, in fact, it starts in our mind. Many times the circumstance or better said consequence comes later. God warns us in His word several times, here in Mark 7:21-23 we clearly see, “For from within, that is out the heart (mind) of men, come base and malevolent thoughts and schemes, acts of sexual immorality, thefts, murders, adulteries, acts of greed and covetousness, wickedness, deceit, unrestrained conduct, envy and jealousy, slander and profanity, arrogance and self-righteousness and foolishness (poor judgment). All these evil things, schemes and desires come from within and defile and dishonor the man.”
Satan uses doubt and deception to raise up temptation in your mind. He has studied you, your emotions, your body language, and he is very clever. Satan twists our human nature which is to control, compete and win into wrong thinking or sinful action. The Bible says he is the “father of lies” John 4:44, he simply changes God’s truth by a word or two to get you questioning God. The devil’s desire is to keep you from walking in God’s truth.
So, what do we do now that we have a clear picture of temptation and how it leads to sin in our lives? Here are some facts to help us see God’s Truth:
Fact One: No matter how mature you become as a believer temptation will always be there. Do NOT let the devil make you feel ashamed or guilty because you are tempted.
Fact Two: Consider temptation as a compliment, the devil only messes with those he knows carry weapons to destroy him. The real truth is the devil fears us way more than we should fear him, we have God on our side he lost that honor long ago.
Fact Three: Be realistic, you will never be able to avoid temptation completely, you cannot stop the devil from making suggestions, but you do NOT have to act on them.
Fact Four: Know your weakness, your vulnerability and the minute your mind starts dwelling on something unhealthy turn to Jesus, His truth…”Be sober well balanced and self-disciplined, be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion fiercely hungry, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 AMP
Fact Four: Get your emotions under control, speak life into yourself “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.” Proverbs 18:21 Life is messy, but God never leaves you hanging!! Get your thoughts under control, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy negative thoughts and behaviors. We destroy the lies, opinions and every lofty attitude raised against the knowledge of God and make every thought obedient to the truth of Jesus Christ.” personalized
Fact Five: When temptation comes, just CRY OUT for help to God…judge your thoughts and emotions against God’s Word…have your life-giving scriptures ready to speak in your situation. Jesus faced the same temptations we do, He met them head on be saying “It is written”, this truth belongs to us as well…God’s Word will set you free.
Fact Six: We have confidence, know who you are in Jesus…you are His, created in His image. You are loved valued and cherished by God more than any human possible can…His love for you should overwhelm you completely, cover and protect you no matter what is going on in your flesh and circumstances. We live in a fallen world, be you don’t have to be fallen.
Fact Seven: Have patience with yourself, God’s work in you does not happen in a microwave, God uses a slow cooker…transforming you into this amazing, unique and powerful child of God. Claim your position, commit to think Kingdom thoughts and not worldly ones that will just fade away. Let Hebrews 4:16 AMP sink in “Therefore let us with privilege approach the throne of grace that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy for our failures and find His amazing grace to help in time of need an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment. Ask God for the power to do the right thing, make the right decision and then EXPECT Him to provide it.
“No temptation regardless of its source has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability to resist, but along with the temptation He has in the past and is now and will always provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 AMP
Today, I wanted to revisit the armor that God has provided for us to fight against the powers of darkness in today’s world. But before I get into that let us also look at a well know battle between a boy and a giant, read 1 Samuel 17. Focus your attention to verses 38-40, “Then Saul clothed David with his garments and put a bronze helmet on his head, and he clothed him with armor. David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” And David took them off. He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine.”
Notice how Saul’s armor and sword did not fit David. David would have surely lost the battle if he tried to fight Goliath with someone else’s armor. This is truth for all of us, God has given each of us our own personal armor to be worn at all times. It is especially important that you do not compare your armor “relationship with Jesus” to others around you. Everyone’s relationship with God is unique, just as you are uniquely created by God. As you draw closer to God through worship, prayer and studying His Word a deeper level of surrender happens and the Armor of God develops within you. It is important that you fellowship with other believers because as scripture tells us “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 Please know that it is just as important that you do not compare or judge another’s journey with Jesus because the devil will spin it for his purpose. You may find yourself thinking, “I will never be as good as…know as much…pray as well”. We must also be incredibly careful to not let pride interfere with the fit of our armor. The devil uses comparing and judging our fellow believers to slow down and even damage out relationship with God. Instead learn, rub up against those you admire, let them speak life into your personal relationship with Jesus. Praise God for what He is doing in the lives of those around you as well as your life.
TIP: When you study God’s Word, know the background of the scripture, who is God talking to, find yourself among the recipients. God wants to put you right in the scriptures, when sin is revealed He is always faithful to show you a way back. God is a mighty Hope Dealer!
Now let us look at what God’s says about your personally designed armor and how it will protect and guide you in your journey with Him.
Chapter 6 of Ephesians opens with and continues in verses 2 through 9 admonishing us on our behavior as His children. He speaks to us with love yet encourages us to self-examine our ways. God further through the next 8 verses instructs us on who we are fighting, how he operates, and He then lays out how we should be clothed in the Armor of God through which we are able to war against the evil of this world and live victoriously in Jesus Christ.
Verse 10 – Finally (listen) BE STRONG “Dunamis Power” in the supernatural Holy Spirit for it prevails, it conquers – we find it in Him alone. The Amplified version says, “be strong in the Lord draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him and in the power of His boundless might.”
Verse 11 – Put on the full Armor of God
Not just what you think you need… put on ALL God is providing. Stand firm not being moved from the truth of Jesus and what has been done on the cross, this is God’s complete protection against the devil’s attempts to destroy you. The devil openly schemes – he plots using underhanded, tricky, sneaking, a large-scale systemic plan to capture you and destroy you and your future.
Verse 12 – Remember who you are fighting (wrestling – intimate, up close and personal) take in an account our flesh, mind, wrong thinking, generational mindset or those currently around you, physical circumstances, they are ALL just tools of the enemy, it is satan’s plan to lie, steal and destroy.(John 10:10) The primary wrestling arena is not here on earth – but is a spiritual battle fought in our mind and spirit the consequences are suffered in our flesh, you must ask yourself where is your focus? Is your thoughts, actions coming from your spirit or flesh?
When we look at verse 12 we find God has broken down of the evil forces out to get you into four divisions in satan’s kingdom; “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood contending only with physical opponents, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly supernatural places.” AMP
1. principalities (rulers) – fallen angels, his highest ranking rulers
2. powers – those given authority to execute the will of those rulers
3. world forces – who walk in the darkness of this age (right now) with or without spiritual blindness being used by satan to carry out wicked deeds, people who are in authority and use that authority to carry out satan’s plan
4. spiritual forces of wickedness – earth bound demons who are satan’s servants who do his bidding, these also can include those in 1-3, wicked enemies as a whole who are moving through the earth looking to torment you – looking for entrance/strongholds/sin/an opening.
Heavenly places speaks of a place which encompasses all spirit beings. One place of this area is where God’s throne is…where God sits with Jesus and all of God’s angels also exist. There is a dark side as well in this spiritual place where satan and his evil spirits exist. The heavenly places, sometimes spoken of as realms are a mystery for us, to profound to understand but we get some limited understanding from God’s Word. There will come a time when we will no longer exist in the flesh but in this spiritual place.
Verse13 – take up the full (whole, complete) Armor of God, for strength and knowledge in order to stand firm (spoken again Verse 11) now also further described as happening in this evil day. It is our responsibility to dress for the battle. Are you willing to do everything necessary to fight?
Take up , put on , stand firm speaks of the work required by you in order to fully arm yourself, this scripture also tells us this armor must cover us completely, nothing left exposed, not even a thought left free roaming able to be corrupted. Take Note: Whenever God uses the same words in this case “stand firm” it is because He is either issuing a warning or He wants us to pay close attention to what He is saying. This stand firm is vital to our relationship with Him and our survival her on earth.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the true knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ.” We must be fully equipped using everything God is providing, Romans 13:14 says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”
Verse 14 – Standing firm (therefore – consistently) we are required to wear the armor of God… Belt of Truth(having girded your loins) is the truth spoken over us and about us by our Heaven Father it directly confronts the lies that our enemy wants us to believe. Builds confidence in God’s words over us, a resolve to live by truth. This truth holds everything together, we must love “truth”, there is no other.
Girt is defined as all over, fasten, securely, sealed. Today the world would say truth is relative to whatever you are feeling or are involved in? The world says make up your own truth, if you believe it then it must be true. The devil slyly tells us the lie of “if it’s not hurting anyone else go ahead indulge yourself.” 2 Thessalonians 2:10 tells us “and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.“ Romans 1:25 also says “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature(flesh) rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.”
Verse 14 – Put on the Breastplate of Righteousness (defined here as what was done on the cross through to blood of Jesus.) When Jesus died on the cross your sins, they, all of them, every single one, was not only forgiven but washed away. Stand up and stand firm, right posture, be confident, cleansed, made free, whole, delivered, assurance…live it, walk in it, claim it! If you do not you are missing out…from this grows peace, joy, restoration. This breastplate covers our chest and shoulders it protects our heart, and spirit. Many times when sharing a word, I encourage women to build their Spirit up in the truth of God so that it is stronger than their mind and that only then will they be able to make Godly decisions and fully walk in the truth of Jesus Christ. Proverbs 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”
Verse 15 – having shod (perfectly fit, custom, labored) your feet with the preparation of the gospel ofpeace…readiness (fully prepared, fitness, eager, awareness) in any circumstance knowing through Jesus we will be taken care of NO matter what our eyes see, and ears hear. Ready to fight for truth and ready to receive God’s blessing, ready to go where He sends you, your feet are fitted to carry you the distance through Jesus….2 Timothy 4:2 “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. “ Our readiness comes from knowing God and His Word, Romans 12:1-2 says “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Verse 16 – in addition to all (above all), taking up Shield of Faith extinguishes the “flaming” arrows (put an end to forever, annihilate, finish off, terminate, cease)
Isaiah 54:17 says “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will prove untrue. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their vindication is from Me, ”declares the Lord.”
Acts 16:31 “They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing (testimony/teaching), and hearing by the word of Christ.” You are justified and proven by God…your identity, whole being. When two or more put their shields together they form a wall.
vs17 – Take Helmet of Salvation is knowledge that we have been rescued, our salvation is through faith, our sins no longer counted against us, not only our pasts sins, but those today and in the future when we repent in humility, God sees our motive and our heart. We look forward without fear for the day we are taken home to be with God.
1 Peter 1:13 says “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
the Sword of the Spirit is God’s Word, instructions for life, the ultimate offensive weapon uses to aggressively protect you with a clear strategy . A gift from God to know Him personally, intimately. His Word gives you all you need to understand and fully receive God’s great love for you, it teaches us how to live for Him and receive all the benefits of that life now on earth.
Jesus declares the power found in God’s Holy Word when He was being tempted in the desert “It is written” each time He was tempted by satan.
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing 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.”
Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”
Through His Word comes the power to wear and live fully protected.
Verse 18 “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”
This is the last piece of the Armor of God, just as important as the other pieces it is to be used by all of us. Peter used the gift of tongues in bringing the truth of Jesus Christ to a crowd of 3,000 on the day of Pentecost. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to the disciples and told them to wait for it. He has promised it to us as well. Just as we desire to have every other piece of Armor we should hunger after this amazing part as well. Read Acts 1-2 and Acts 15:7-9 for a closer look at this amazing gift.
Everything God works in you starts from within and manifests outward.
Divine physical healingstarts from within you not in the physical realm, but it starts within you by FAITH in the spirit and it manifests outwardly as physical healing.
So does your gift of speaking in tongues/your personal spirit language with God it begins within your spirit and the Holy Spirit within you.
When you were saved you received the Holy Spirit, however there is a release of the spirit that you must ask for. This release is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, is about the release of the Holy Spirit from your spirit to your soul to your body. The gift of speaking in tongues is the overflow of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said “out of your bellies shall flow rivers of living water” At salvation we receive Holy Spirit , at baptism we release Him…This baptism of the Holy Spirit is separate from Salvation. It is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us which is our helper and comforter, helping us to walk in the will of God and complete the work God puts before us. When that Baptism has reached from the Spirit to the soul, the body then manifests physically as vocalized by the sound that you hear that’s when the overflow has reached our physical body as speaking in tongues.
If you have asked God for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, sought it out in earnest but you have not received the gift of speaking in tongues that does not mean the Holy Spirit has not be released in you.
Let’s look at a couple of scriptures to gain a better understanding…
I Corinthians 2:9-14 says that there is a fellowship between the spirits and that they communication spirit to spirit. No one knows the Father like the Holy Spirit and no one knows you like your spirit (your mind can be deceived).
1 Corinthians 14:2 tells us that when we speak in tongues we are speaking to God not man.
1 Corinthians 14:4 “One who speaks in tongues “edifies” himself… meaning “edify” to be strengthens himself, builds in, personal, intimate with God.
Romans 8:26 says “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” When we pray in the spirit the Holy Spirit himself prays for you.
1 Corinthians 12:10 says “and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.”
The gift of tongues maybe our mightiest weapon against the forces of darkness. There is much more to learned about this piece of the Armor of God, I pray God will illuminate this truth to you. I will leave you with this question…Why would you not want all God has for you? Every piece of His Armor for you!
Becoming good at anything in life requires something from us. The same stands for a personal relationship with Jesus. Becoming a friend of God takes desire, time, and energy. You are His child, yes, His creation, your spirit placed within your mother’s womb was done with intention. You parents were by His design. When you look in the mirror you are exactly what God choose for you, all the physical characteristics were handpicked by God. A Zebra’s coat of black and white stripes is unique, their hairy coat and stripes would not work on hippopotamus who spend much of his time in the rivers of Africa. We are much like those beautiful creations in that God made us unique and prefect for His pleasure.
I digress, this writing is not about your freckles, dark brown eyes, or any of your other physical qualities. I want to share with you my thoughts about being God’s friend and sharing the things He loves and standing against the enemies of God. Can you feel inside yourself, that yearning, that empty feeling that hungers for meaning? That hunger and yearning comes from your spirit, your soul that is longing for God. Because we are His, God gave us an appetite for His truth and to walk in His ways.
The question becomes how then? It is a process, each of us must go through it, many times I compare God to a slow cooker, we must simmer on God details only then will we receive and enjoy all God has for us. On our own we are a microwave set on high, wanting the finished, perfectly cooked in minutes. To feed this hunger you must intimately connect with God, you must learn to honestly share your feelings with Him, trust His leading, care about what He cares about and desire His friendship more than anything else in your life.
I am leading a Bible Study right now with a group of ladies, and we are encountering God through the book “Purpose Driven Life”, by Rick Warren. Almost 20 years ago when I was first searching for God beyond salvation, God lead me to a group of women who were about to begin this book. This book forever changed my life. It is a gateway to the truth of who we are and how God desires a personal relationship with His children, that includes you! Throughout this writing today I will be quoting from this book and sharing the truths God gave me.
The title of this writing in an amazingly simple way states that our input must be greater than our output. What you fill your life with is the input and the result is seen in your output, where you spend your time, money and energy is the result.
Let us talk about what that friendship, relationship with God should look like.
God requires complete honesty. Adam hid when God called to him in the garden, not because God did not know where Adam was but because God wanted Adam to be honest with Him. (Genesis 3:9) God does not expect you to be perfect, but He does require you to be completely honest. This honesty is seen throughout the Bible; prophets, leaders and disciples openly share their complaints, dissatisfaction, and fears with God. God encourages us to share every concern. It is perfectly OK to ask, “Why God”. David, Abraham, Jeremiah, and Job all questioned God. In each situation, God listened and because of their candor, lives were saved, David would be called “a man after God’s own Heart”, Job would express his bitterness, yet God called him “his friend.” God is looking for transparency in our relationship with Him. Rick Warren says, “God listens to the passionate words of His friends; He is bored with predictable, Christian cliches.” You must be honest with God, share your true feelings…honestly…not holding back. God uses everything in our lives for good, much like Joseph. When you harbor resentment toward God over your appearance, background, unanswered prayers, past hurts, and other things you are holding God at an arms distance. Many people blame God for something that another person has done. When you allow an emotion or hurt to separate you from God, a stronghold begins to form, and this prevents our spiritual hunger to be satisfied. We start looking to satisfy it somewhere else. Expressing your feelings and thoughts honestly to God is the first step toward the next level of intimacy with God.
Faith is a choice. Faith is unseen meaning that you cannot go down the store and buy some. Faith is where the intangible meets the tangible. Every time you trust God when you cannot see a result or do not understand, you deepen your friendship with God. Jesus made it clear that obedience is a condition of intimacy with God. He said, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:14 Faith is obedience, they go hand in hand, you cannot be a true friend of God if you cannot follow is direction. Rick Warren tells us “We are close companions and have special privileges, much like that of a king and his inter court however they still had to obey the king’s commands. God is our king, and we must follow Him.” Your obedience must be out of love. Many Christians today have caught the ride of faith and obedience on the back of their parents. They not only do not have their salvation, but they are also no friend to God.
Value what God values. As a friend do you value what is important to that friend? How much more should you value what is important to God, your Forever Father and Best Friend. The more you know God what is important to Him becomes important to you. In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul said “The thing that has me so upset is that I care about you (people in Corinth) so much—this is the passion of God burning inside me!” David felt the same way when he spoken this “Passion for Your house burns within me, so those who insult You (God) are also insulting me.” What does God care about most? You! As well as all His children! That is why Jesus came, to save His most precious creation, made in His image…YOU! God suffered as He put His Son on the cross…what a sacrifice! To be a friend of God you must see all His children through His eyes, counting each as cherished as the next. Friends of God tell others about Him.
Your desire to be a friend of God MUST BE more important than anything else. David passionately desired to “know” God. This word ”know” means “intimately”. This desire to know God above anything else cries out with words like; hungering, craving, thirsting, aching, wanting…you were born with this inside you, your spirit longs for God and His Truth. When you do not make Him your “one and only” the world and the devil replace it with selfish sinful desire. Psalm 27:4 says “Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with Him every moment in His house, finding the sweet loveliness of His face, filled with awe, delighting in His glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to Him that He takes pleasure in my every prayer.” “Your love means more than life to me.” Psalm 63:3
The truth is you are as close to God as you want to be. He is right here, right now, beside you…waiting for you to say, “Here I am Lord.”
This relationship is not only ongoing it is eternal…what you do right now, tomorrow, and next week are opportunities to know God…how much more amazing will it be when you leave planet earth to embrace the living God in your eternal home if you already know Him!
Jeremiah 29:13 says “When you get serious about finding Me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you will not be disappointed.”
Start now, pray this through your day, “Dear Jesus, more than anything else, I want to get to know you intimately, I want to experience everything You have for me!”
Be Encouraged and Blessed,
I wholeheartedly recommend you take the 40-day journey found in Rick Warren’s book “Purpose Driven Life”.
No one is immune to doubt. It can and does happen to us all. You’ve just got to know how to handle it when it comes. Let’s look at the life of John the Baptist for answers.
Jesus said this about John the Baptist,
“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Matthew 11:11
John was greater in the sight of Jesus than Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, or any Old Testament character you can name. Yet John doubted the most important thing of all by questioning whether Jesus was really the Christ.
While John the Baptist was in prison he became so discouraged that he asked two of his disciples to go to Jesus and ask Him if He really was the Christ. This amazing man of faith was lost in doubt and unbelief.
Think about who John was. He was separated unto God and filled with the Holy Spirit while he was still in the womb. Luke 1:15
It is believed he lived in the desert near the Dead Sea with the Essens, the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were a people who were super-legalistic who practiced many rituals of self denial. He certainly had not lived what we would call an easy life. He was described in the Bible as wear animal skins and eating locust. John was separated and focused on his purpose.
His entire life was committed to preparing the way for the Christ. John is the one who saw Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” John 1:29. John shared the truth of God with thousands of people from many nations declaring, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2
John would see the Spirit of God descending upon the Messiah in bodily shape as a dove. That came to pass when John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River.
There are many scriptures that tell us John had zero doubt.
“I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” in John 1:34. In Luke 3:16 he said, “but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” And in John 3:30 he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Jesus responded to John’s disbelief and doubt….”look at all that has happened….see the truth of who I am and believe!”
This is the same thing Jesus is saying to you…look at all I have done and what is written in the scriptures and have faith.
Don’t let the devil lie to you and blind you from truth…dig in, for “It is written” those powerful words that Jesus spoke to Satan. Those are our words now….
Don’t be fooled by the world…our need for something tangible, something emotional we can feel. Overcoming doubt is not about feeling better; it’s about getting back into faith that only comes from the Word of God.
Romans 10:17 says “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
You must stand strong, immerse yourself in God’s Word and know that this battle is won on a spiritual level.
In 2 Peter 1:12-15 Peter writes Jesus will always bring you back to remembering who He is through His Word. He left us this Word because He knew we would face doubt in our flesh.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 spells it out clearly…”For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.”
The Scriptures are more sure and faith building and doubt destroying than if you and I were witness to seeing the risen Christ or hearing an audible voice from heaven! Why? Because the Truth of God Word is always with us, to study, meditate and pray through.
The only sure way to overcome doubt is to place your faith in the Word of God and depend on that more sure word of prophecy. Don’t allow your five senses to dominate your thinking. You must come to a place to where God’s Word is more real to you than anything you can see, taste, hear, smell, or feel. When you’re in doubt, refer back to the Word of God just the way Jesus told John the Baptist to do. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
Facts say you are here, sitting in this chair, struggling because of your decisions, wrong thinking, SIN….truth is God is right beside you waiting for you to activate your faith by standing on His Word which activates His ability to bring you the deliverance you so desperately desire.