Greetings to all of you, my sweet sisters in Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 38:16-17NIV personalized, “Lord, by these things people live, and in all these is the life of my spirit; You have restored me to health and let me live! Behold, for in my own belief before you rescued me I had great bitterness and hurt; But You kept me even then…because You love my soul from the pit of destruction and nothingness, and in Your great sacrifice You have hurled all my sins behind Your back.”
Today victory is mine…despite the doctors’ reports, despite what is ahead…Jesus saved me. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5MSG personalized tells me, “I know that when this body of mine is taken down like a tent and folded away, it will be replaced by MY new body in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and I will never have to relocate my “tent” again. Sometimes I can hardly wait to move—and so I cry out in frustration as my tent that is my flesh and bones age giving way to sickness. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and I am tired of it! I have been given a glimpse of the real thing, my true home, my heavenly spirit body! The Spirit of God whets my appetite by giving me a taste of what’s ahead. He has put a little of heaven in my heart so that I will never settle for less.”
I know that God will not relieve me from my earthly body not one minute before my great commission is finished. By now most of you have heard that I have been diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer. God has given me comfort in this because victory is already mine, I have received my miracle, my victory…salvation, which is the knowledge that I am forgiven and the daughter of the Most High King, loved and valued!
As you know this year God gave me the word “Grateful”, He knew what was coming and He wanted me to focus on all He has done in my life, how He saved me in my darkest times, how He lead me to taste His love and experience His Design for His children in such way that I would sing…NO SHOUT His Truth… “We all belong to Him and He wants to restore all that has been lost and redeem His children!”
A few weeks ago, I was thinking about what to write to you, my sweet sisters and God had me open His Word like many times before…He whispered “Just let it fall open and read…I have something for you there”. This was just days before I received the news my tent was stricken by this intruder… God said, “This is for you my daughter let this be your comfort.”
“God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath; My arms wave like banners of praise to you. I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy; I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises! If I’m sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. Because you’ve always stood up for me, I’m free to run and play. I hold on to you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post.” Psalm 63:1-8MSG
God was telling me look at Me, not what you are hearing with your ears or seeing with your eyes…sweet daughter I AM your portion, NO MATTER WHAT! COME WHAT MAY!
There are tough days coming…surgery, reconstruction, chemo, radiation, hormone therapy…all of these things cannot…WILL NOT…disrupt or confuse the truth that Jesus is my King, my Forever Father! Father God, I pray for you to continue your work in me, cast out any thought or iniquity still in me…open any stronghold and destroy any fear for I am your creation God and You are my Savior in whom I trust.
2 Corinthians 5:7-8 tells us “for we walk by faith, not by sight… but we are of good courage and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”
In closing, there are some lyrics of a popular worship song that has ministered to me, here it is for you to take in…be blessed and comforted.
CHAMPION by Bethel Worship I’ve tried so hard to see it Took me so long to believe it That You’d choose someone like me To carry Your victory Perfection could never earn it You give what we don’t deserve and You take the broken things And raise them to glory
You are my champion Giants fall when you stand Undefeated Every battle You’ve won I am who You say I am You crown me with confidence I am seated, in the heavenly place Undefeated, with the One who has conquered it all
Now I can finally see it You’re teaching me how to receive it So let all the striving cease This is my victory
When I lift my voice and shout Every wall comes crashing down I have the authority Jesus has given me When I open up my mouth Miracles start breaking out I have the authority Jesus has given me
You are my champion Giants fall when you stand Undefeated Every battle You’ve won I am who You say I am You crown me with confidence I am seated, in the heavenly place Undefeated, by the power of Your name I am seating, in the heavenly place Undefeated, with the One you has conquered it all
Greetings to all of you, my sweet sisters in Jesus Christ. “When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun! All these new things are from God who brought us back to Himself through what Christ Jesus did. And God has given us the privilege of urging everyone to come into His favor and be reconciled to Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 TLB
What an amazing gift we have in Jesus. This gift is beautiful wrapped with paper and ribbons, the paper and ribbons can be thought of as salvation, a guaranteed home with Jesus and our Heavenly Father. The sacrifice Jesus made on the cross confirmed our reservation in eternity when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior.
Today, I want to talk about the contents of the gift. Deuteronomy 11:21TLB gives us a glimpse of what God has for those who believe in Him… it says, “so that as long as there is sky above the earth, you and your children will enjoy the good life awaiting you in the land the Lord has promised you.”
You see this gift is to be used here and now, embraced, pursued, practiced, and welcomed. As you embrace God and walk with Him Psalm 115:14NASB tells us “May the Lord increase you, you and your children.” This increase comes in the form of love, joy, peace, hope, grace, strength, mercy, and so much more. He will meet your needs and restore what the Locust has eaten. Now many might speak these scriptures and others spouting material riches however I caution you that while God tells us He will supply all our needs this does not necessarily mean prosperity as the world measures it. I would much rather cultivate and harvest the Fruits of the Spirit along with an intimate relationship with Jesus than financial gain.
Galatians 5:22-23 MSG, “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”
As the contents of the gift unfolds we find Jesus has given us…
“ For as you know him better, He will give you, through His great power, everything you need for living a truly good life: He even shares His own glory and His own goodness with us!” 2 Peter 1:3TLB
“yet now God declares us “not guilty” of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in His kindness freely takes away our sins.” Romans 3:24TLB
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-13NASB “Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
“For because of our faith, He has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be.” Romans 5:2TLB
“who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was granted to us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” 2 Timothy 1:9NASB
“He disciplines us for our own good so that we may share in His Holiness.” Hebrews 12:1NASB
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39NASB
In Closing, I urge you my sisters to step into all God has for you, there are many believers who once they take off the ribbon and paper leave their gift untouched for one reason or another. This gift can only be fully experienced through daily pursuing Jesus with all our body, mind and spirit. Allowing God to refine us…transforming us into the very image of Himself, our Father. Ephesians 2:10AMPC confirms this… “For we are God’s own handiwork, His workmanship, recreated in Christ Jesus, born anew, that we may do those good works which God predestined, planned beforehand for us taking paths which He prepared ahead of time, that we should walk in them living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live.”
Greetings to all of you, my sisters in Jesus Christ. Several weeks ago I began praying for a scripture and word from God for this coming year. Some might call this a vision for the coming year and in the past I have written out the vision as God gave it to me. This year it was different, God gave me one scripture and then one word to study on, meditate on and let them motivate me to remain faithful and patience in 2022. To keep moving forward allowing God to be my direction and center.
“For we reach the goal of fulfilling all the commandments when we love others deeply with a pure heart, a clean conscience, and sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5 TPT
This scripture touched me deeply, love and learning to love as God loves us is so key in our life. Many of the struggles you and I have come from our inability to love and forgive as God has directed us.
As you might have guessed the word God gave me is “Grateful”. I believe we just don’t spend enough time expressing our gratitude to God and those around us. The word “grateful” is defined as “feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful; conscious of benefit received, affording pleasure or contentment : PLEASING, pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated.” God’s Word and science tells us that living in an attitude of gratefulness is beneficial to both our spiritual and physical being.
Your ability to be grateful is directly related to the level of joy in your life and how you handle anxiety. It is impossible for both joy and anxiety to be present at the same time within you. The root of anxiety is found in your desire to control…the people you love, your co-workers, your physical environment, career. It is said that control is an illusion, never really attained because you don’t know what is going to happen next. Moreover, your mind is prone to discontentment, wanting what is out of your reach. Over thinking, dwelling upon that next material thing, success, popularity, status that somehow will give you the control you desire. This develops into anxiety which lends itself to chaos, the feeling of being out of control, and so a vicious cycle ensues. Being thankful requires you to relinquish your control.
The Apostle Paul understood this cycle all too well and God gave him the answer to finding the lasting joy we all desire. Philippians 4:6-8TPT says “Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell Him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ. Keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable, and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising Him always.”
I have spent the day researching the how to of living in a grateful state, it is there where the joy and peace of God exists. Not surprisingly, there are many articles both Christian and secular that speak about living in a grateful state. There are two common thoughts; first, it is a decision and secondly, it is important to have people around you how are pursuing this joy as well. We must rid ourselves of the naysayers, and cynics. It is far more enjoyable to spend time with someone who is grateful and positive than it is to be with someone who is negative and self-consumed. Gratefulness frees you from your negativity so that you can be more open in your relationship with God and people. Let me put it very plainly…God is calling us to gather and pray with one another to build one another up not tear down, not dwell, our prayer life must be full of thanksgiving and gratefulness directed at what God has done, is doing and will do. I’m not saying that we should not bring our concerns to God BUT our sincere gratefulness must outweigh the concerns. Gratefulness must be cultivated by being involved in small groups, attending church, serving, praying with others.
I have put together a list of thoughts and scripture for you to embrace in your journey to live gratefully.
Be grateful in every situation, leaning on God…this gratitude positions us in God’s will. God’s will is found in obedience. There are three areas your life you must focus on: (1) living in God’s unrestricted joy, (2) praying continually, and (3) giving thanks to God no matter what happens in your life. These three virtues combine to form the wonderful expression of Christ’s life within us. “Let joy be your continual feast, joyous in every season. Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18TPT
God’s love is the only thing that will last forever. Do you remember before you surrendered to God, you held on to all the hurt, you were unlovable; self-centered, and focusing on pleasing yourself. Now let this sink in…God looked down and loved you, the sacrifice of His Son was for you, Jesus Christ died for you. Right now, give thanks to God because you are loved passionately and without condition. “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!.” 1 Chronicles 16:34AMPC
Be grateful for the abilities God has given you. As His daughter, you have the ability to show your gratefulness to God in action. The way in which you treat those around you, despite their behavior, is the outpouring of your love for God. It is God who gives us the strength to give, serve and work. When you have this attitude, even the most difficult task can be accomplished through your love for God. Simply put when you love God you love people. “Let the word of Christ live and grow in you richly, flooding you with all wisdom. Apply the Scriptures as you teach and instruct one another with the Psalms, and with festive praises, and with prophetic songs given to you spontaneously by the Spirit, so sing to God with all your hearts! Let every activity, commitment of your lives and every word, promise, oath that comes from your lips be drenched with the beauty of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. And bring your constant praise to God the Father because of what Christ has done for you!” Colossians 3:16-17 TPT
Be grateful for God’s deliverance. Without God you would be hopelessly lost. Only through the power of Jesus Christ, you are given the strength to rise above your sinful nature and overcome the desires of the flesh. You may have been saved while still snared by the lies of Satan, held captive. BUT through the Holy Spirit, you now have been set free. YES God! “My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up in you the power of endurance. And then as your endurance grows even stronger, it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.” James 1:2-4TPT
Be grateful for God’s miraculous hand over your life. Always be thankful, giving God the glory and make sure that others know that this freedom you now have comes from God alone. There is no such thing as coincidence or luck, only by the hand of God and His intention for your life may you perceive how God is working things out for good in your life. So, with boldness declare God’s goodness daily. “I will worship you, Yahweh, with extended hands as my whole heart erupts with praise! I will tell everyone everywhere about your wonderful works!” Psalm 9:1TPT
Let your praise of gratefulness be in every prayer. Even before you see the answer…give God your praise. Thank Him just for listening, your attitude of gratefulness ushers a spirit of expectancy in our prayers. “Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell Him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:6-7TPT
The good things in your life are ALL because of God. Make sure you thank God continually in all things big and small. This is your mission to speak with love, spread the Truth of God. “Everyone come meet His face with a thankful heart. Don’t hold back your praises; make Him great by your shouts of joy! For the Lord is the greatest of all, King-God over all other gods!” Psalm 95:2-3 “Then my song will be a burst of praise to You. My glory-shouts will make Your fame even more glorious to all who hear my praises!” Psalm 69:30TPT “God always makes His grace visible in Christ, who includes us as partners of His endless triumph. Through our yielded lives He spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere we go.” 2 Corinthians 2:14TPT
Gratitude helps you see God. Gratitude glorifies God not for the gifts you have received but the Truth of who He is, Today, give all your praise to the Giver! Gratitude helps you realize all you have comes not because of you, but from God. Gratitude helps you enter into His presence, feel His personal care and experience His prefect timing. Dear sister, be careful to not be fooled or turn to sin to get what you want. “So, my friends, don’t be fooled by your own desires! Every gift or legacy God freely gives us is complete, wholesome, abundant, sufficient, enough, and perfect, streaming down from the Father of lights, who shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness and is never subject to change.” James 1:16-17TPT
Find contentment in Gratitude, let it deepen your faith. If you are not satisfied with what God has given you, more will not satisfy you either. Being thankful is the key to contentment. Keep a record of God’s past faithfulness and look back and reflect when a new challenge comes. Remember where you came from and who you are now as God’s child. Re-evangelize yourself by sharing what God has done and how you are now free. This will deepen your faith and lead you to the joy you are seeking. “We have a “profit” that is greater than theirs—our holy awe of God! To have merely our necessities is to have enough. Isn’t it true that our hands were empty when we came into the world, and when we leave this world our hands will be empty again? Because of this, food and clothing is enough to make us content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8TPT “Let everyone thank God, for He is good, and He is easy to please! His tender love for us continues on forever!” Psalm 136:1TPT “It was like a dream come true when You freed us from our bondage and brought us back to Zion! We laughed and laughed and overflowed with gladness. We were left shouting for joy and singing Your praise. All the nations saw it and joined in, saying, “The Lord has done great miracles for them!” Yes, He did mighty miracles, and we are overjoyed!” Psalm 126:1-3TPT
Gratitude confronts Satan’s lies. This is my warning to you against evil. There are many scriptures that will testify of Satan’s plan to kill, steal and destroy you. He is jealous, he hates us and is a great deceiver. However, true gratitude for God and the abundance God gives protects us from falling victim to the enemy’s lies. Gratitude helps us live in the present and guards against envy. It is impossible to be thankful and jealous at the same time. Do not romance your past, your memory is distorted by evil. “For the Lord God is brighter than the brilliance of a sunrise! Wrapping Himself around me like a shield, He is so generous with his gifts of grace and glory. Those who walk along His paths with integrity will never lack one thing they need, for He provides it all!.” Psalm 84:11TPT “Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.” Ecclesiastes 7:10AMP “I thank you, Lord, and with all the passion of my heart, I worship You in the presence of angels! Heaven’s mighty ones will hear my voice as I sing my loving praise to You.” Psalm 138:1TPT
This writing has been long, I pray it ministers to you and sets you on a course to join me this year in being grateful for all God has done and continues to do in your life and mine as well. I leave you with this last Word of Truth…Gratitude is your testimony! Gratefulness, thanksgiving creates a fire in your spirit that burns bright and hot giving you and I the confidence to tell others.
“Go ahead and give God thanks for all the glorious things He has done! Go ahead and worship Him! Tell everyone about His wonders!” Psalm 105:1TPT
Sister Laurie JesusTruth 1/4/2022
If you would like to personally write to me, I welcome you to do so. I would love to share what God is speaking to me and pray for you, pour into you so that you may grow your relationship with our loving Savior Jesus Christ. It is in the sharing and studying of God’s Word that we find the freedom only God, our Forever Father can bring.
Blessings, Sister Laurie
I want to acknowledge those that helped in my search for a deepen understanding of what it means to give God our Gratitude. Real Joy by Pastor Akshay Rajkumar the lead Pastor of Redeemer Church in New Delphi, India. It is available on RightNow Media.com 15 Thankful Bible Verses to Remind You the Power of Prayer, by Sophia Caraballo, 11/24/2019 Top 7 Bible Verses About being Grateful, by Crystal McDowell
Our life compass is our heart. It is divided into three parts, our minds (where our ideas, and desires live), our emotions/feelings (they react on what your mind is thinking), will (this is where we put into motion what the mind desires and how it feels). It tells us who we are and dictates what we believe and how we live. It can be void of self-control therefore it is in our life compass that we set a course in the direction of what we want and what we desire. Without Christ it is like a runaway train with an engine out of control.
The Bible says “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NASB It might be said “it is said our hearts are the wellspring of our lives and is driven by what we desire, it from there your life finds direction.” The truth is we are creatures of desire and what we desire rules our life.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:21AMP, “for where your treasure is, there your heart…your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers will also be.” The power of the heart leads us into how we will live.
Unfortunately, you and I believe that right thinking will lead to healthy living, so we pursue our quest searching for the right technology, the right diet, the right practices even the right doctrine but the problem is when we try we are unsuccessful. Everything in the world today is telling us get all the world has to offer, it says the key to fulfilling your desires can be found at the touch of your figure on Amazon, YouTube…
The real problem is we do not know how to love…we love the wrong things, or we love the right things wrong. Our right love happens disproportionately, God clearly tells us Kingdom First, love Him first.
Matthew 6:33NASB , “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.”
“And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37NASB
WE MUST DESIRE HIS KINGDOM, HIS LOVE AND HIS WILL ABOVE ALL ELSE!
We have access to the best Christian life and yet we set our thinking on what we do not have, our hurt, frustration, the lack of and so we find our focus inward. We sooth our condition with things of the world instead of allowing God to comfort us.
In the movie, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, Harry Potter finds a magical mirror, this mirror shows you what your deepest desire is…Harry stands before the mirror and he see his Mother and Father who are dead, his entire family is dead. You see, Harry was an orphan, and he has had a dreadful life, rejected and unloved. He has a deep desire to belong, to be loved in a family. Ron, his friend now looks in the mirror, He see a champion at school leading the Quidditch (I had to look the spelling up)Team to victory. Ron the youngest in his family felt invisible, like a loser, he wants to be a winner. The reality is both Harry and Ron are looking to belong, to be loved, to be valued.
Now, I ask you if you could see in the mirror what would you see? What is it that you want more than anything else? This is an important question…what you want is what you love and what you love is what you really worship. What you worship speaks to what you desire. What you worship is what is defining you right now!
Let us look at Paul’s life for it is there we find the answer to the struggle. God knew we would grapple in the same way and so He had Paul record through inspired Word Pauls’ witness. Paul struggled with this we see it when Paul says…”“I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” Romans 7:13-25
Later Paul writes to the church at Philippi these amazing words for us to embrace with all our spirit and heart…” Yet all of the accomplishments that I once took credit for, I’ve now forsaken them and I regard it all as nothing compared to the delight of experiencing Jesus Christ as my Lord! To truly know him meant letting go of everything from my past and throwing all my boasting on the garbage heap. It’s all like a pile of manure to me now, so that I may be enriched in the reality of knowing Jesus Christ and embrace him as Lord in all of his greatness. My passion is to be consumed with him and not cling to my own “righteousness” based in keeping the written Law. My only “righteousness” will be his, based on the faithfulness of Jesus Christ—the very righteousness that comes from God. And I continually long to know the wonders of Jesus and to experience the overflowing power of his resurrection working in me. I will be one with him in his sufferings and become like him in his death. Only then will I be able to experience complete oneness with him in his resurrection from the realm of death..” Philippians 3:7-11TPT
YES GOD!, This is what I hunger after, So let you and I put ALL our desire into knowing Jesus Christ!
One last thought this revelation Paul has had came from God lips to us as well and so…Let us keep moving forward! “I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose for which Christ Jesus laid hold of me to make me his own. I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this; however, I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead. I run straight for the divine invitation of reaching the heavenly goal and gaining the victory-prize through the anointing of Jesus. So let all who are fully mature have this same passion, and if anyone is not yet gripped by these desires, God will reveal it to them. And let us all advance together to reach this victory-prize, following one path with one passion. My beloved friends, imitate my walk with God and follow all those who walk according to the way of life we modeled before you. Philippians 3:12-17TPT
Heavenly Father, Help these women reach for you God, let them humble themselves before your throne and offer repentance for any sin that stand between You and them. God help them rise in their desire for you and gasp hold of everything you have for them. For who can defeat us, hold us back God when we have Your Son, the Great Advocate, King Jesus fighting for us. In your Holy Name Jesus! AMEN!
Dear sisters, “May Yahweh give you every desire of your heart and carry out your every plan as you go to battle.” Psalm 20:4TPT
Blessings and Merry Christmas! Sister Laurie
This writing came to me after watching a teaching on Real Desire by Pastor Akshay Rajkumar the lead Pastor of Redeemer Church in New Delphi, India. It is available on RightNow Media.com
Greetings to all my sisters in Jesus Christ! As promised this is Part 2 of defeating strongholds and more.
Pastor Steve Berger put a clear perspective on who we are in God’s Kingdom, “A Christian’s identity as a sinner is a “before Christ” identity. A believer is a saint who sins, not a sinner who sometimes “saints”. Therefore, we cannot as believers let shame and condemnation have any foothold within us. Those are “before Christ” conditions with their roots in Satan; they have no standing in our position as daughters of the Most High King.
Once again before we begin I feel the need to pray as we embrace God’s Truth that the devil has no power over us…
Father, we come before You asking for all scales to be removed from us that would hinder our ability to receive Your Truth, Your Word and to walk in Your Ways. God, we proclaim Your Goodness and Mercy and ask now that You would instruct us in Your Truth which will destroy the enemies lies. Holy Spirit come and fill us with the courage and strength to discern darkness and cast it out! We speak now to any spirit of chaos or confusion and cast it out in the name of Jesus…we bind any manner of oppression right now in the name of Jesus…therefore we now fully receive all God has for us through His Word and the instruct of others who speak clearly of Your Truth God. AMEN
Part of our fight against the darkness happens within our churches and amongst our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as with our ministry leadership. I want to address the thought pattern that takes hold, the enemy knows if he can get us to dishonor our brothers and sisters as well as our leadership, by twisting the perception of their motives in our hearts, then he has blocked our ability to break strongholds and defeat the strongman. In other words, we cannot be delivered from what is holding us captive.
The stronghold will manifest by speaking untruth in a number of ways, here are a few; Pride (you know better than the one giving Godly counsel); Offense (something a Godly believer did or says offends you or hurts you); dishonor (you hear and believe that the pastor or believer is all about money or raising themselves above this is an effort to discredit or “dishonor” that person); Justification (you seek out the yes man among your peers, looking for someone who will agree with your wrong thinking). When the enemy does this you and I are unable to receive God’s Truth through these men and women of God. Our deliverance from any existing stronghold is delayed or even becomes greater.
If your stronghold can stir you up in anyway, it has just stopped you from your source of freedom. And if you say, “Jesus is my source” and do not seek help from your sisters in Christ then he has gained ground by isolating you and that in itself becomes a stronghold. Spirit filled believers are the embodiment of your Savior, we need one another to defeat the darkness. Godly instruction, worship, and prayer for and by others are part of the process of freedom, this process also extends outside of ourselves and generously gives forward.
Who is this strongman?
Kimberly Synder, founder of Royal Girlz Ministry gives us some details about the strongman, “A strongman spirit is a high-ranking principality spirit. They sit on thrones in the spirit realm and rule over the evil demonic spirits that operate in the earth realm. These spirits can rule over certain geographical areas of the earth. Strongman spirits can operate in churches as a ruling spirit. They can be passed down through family generations and also dwell within an individual. These forces block our prayers, our deliverance and our freedom.”
Ephesians 6:1NKJV says “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
In Matthew 12:28-29NJKV Jesus gives us some details of who the strongman is and how we must destroy his efforts. “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.”
Furthermore, Kimberly gives us more details and the method by which he can be overcome, “God’s Word tells us that when the strongman Satan is fully armed and guards his palace, his possessions are safe until someone even stronger attacks and overpowers him, strips him of his weapons, and carries off his belongings. We are the stronger, we have been given authority from Jesus to go into the enemy’s camp and bind him up and take away his goods. These goods include our marriages, our children, our businesses, our churches, and most important lost souls. Anything that the devil has stolen from us is ours to go in and take back. The Bible says that the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it ( Matthew 11:12). We have been given the strength and weapons to advance upon the enemy and take back the goods under the protection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus has given us the keys to bind and loose. Whatever we bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever we loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. We bind them from operating while we loose the gifts of Holy Spirit to come in and take over. We loose the gifts and workings of Holy Spirit to set captives free, bring light into darkness, remove the chains that have us bound and to proclaim freedom (Matthew 18:18).”
Let’s continue to look at ways we give evil spirits an opportunity to establish footholds and/or strongholds in our lives…there are numerous areas of sin through which the enemy gains ground in our lives so that he can bully and oppress.
Generational Sin: We can and are influenced by the idolatrous sins of past generations. Exodus 20:4-6 tells us, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, inflicting the punishment of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing favor to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” When our ancestors set things of this world above their love of God the cycle of generational sin began. We learn from what has been modeled before us, we live in ways that our parents taught us, with each generation this darkness grows and consumes. Some easily seen examples are addiction, divorce, child abuse, and sexual sin. However, there are subtle sins that make our relationship with God and our power to defeat Satan difficult. We grow up watching our elders even believers…gossip, lie, and hate. Selfishness is a tool of the devil, and we are spoiled into thinking about self and rising our pleasure and comfort above God. What will I get if I….reward becomes more important than obedience. These all fall under idolatrous sin.
Rebellion: Rebellion is failing to submit to the authority of God and to the authorities that He has placed over us in our earthly lives. In the first half of 1 Samuel 15:23NLT we see, “Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.” Saul had been given clear instruction to destroy everything in the battle against the nation of Amalek, the instruction was very clear and yet Saul decided he knew better. In his rebellion and stubbornness, he kept back some of the livestock for sacrifice. This simple seemingly “good” disobedience caused Saul to lose God’s favor. The Word gives us specific information about those to whom we are to submit…those not to rebel against.
Pride: When we elevate ourselves above others, behave arrogantly or harbor prideful attitudes, we are emulating Satan rather
than being who we have been created to reflect, the image of God. Satan was removed from God’s presence and cast down
because of his pride. God gives us all the strength we need to stand against such evil desires. James 4:6-8TPT personalized says,
“But He continues to pour out more and more grace upon us. For it says, “God resists you when you are proud but continually pours
Out grace which is the greater gift when you are humble.” So then, surrender to God. Stand up to the devil and resist him and he
will flee in agony because of the One who stands with you. Move your heart closer and closer to God, and so close He
will be touching you. But make sure you cleanse your life, you sinners, and keep your heart pure and stop doubting.”
Habitual Sin: The repeated habitual practice of a specific sin can lead to bondage to “the god of this age.” Ephesians 4:26-27 gives a clear example of habitual sin, “unforgiveness” left to fester it gives the devil a foothold leading to greater sin. This is the nature of sin…rebellion against God and this rebellion is the root is who Satan is. He was the first to rebel and he continues this today by influencing and deceiving God’s people. Addictions are all forms of habitual sin as well as being a habitual gossip, liar or thief. Habitual sin opens the door to be demonized (demonization) meaning that there is some measure of inner, at least partial, direct influence (or control) being exercised by the demonic realm. Wherever sin exists, the demonic realm also exists and is at work to negatively influence believers. This is done in an effort by the demonic realm to limit or negate the powerful effects of the person’s gifts and faith in Christ.
Deception: Jesus described Satan as a liar and the father of lies. In John 8, Jesus is speaking to some Jewish leaders he tells them their hearts are closed to God’s truth he then tells them “You are the offspring of your father, the devil, and you serve your father very well, passionately carrying out his desires. He’s been a murderer right from the start! He never stood with the truth, for he’s full of nothing but lies—lying is his native tongue. He is a master of deception and the father of lies!”
Paul also warned Timothy of deceiving spirits using men for the purpose of seducing them away from the truth, “The Holy Spirit has explicitly revealed: At the end of this age, many will depart from the true faith one after another, devoting themselves to spirits of deception and following demon-inspired revelations and theories. Hypocritical liars will deceive many, and their consciences won’t bother them at all!” 1 Timothy 4:1-2TPT
We can be easily deceived by cultural messages, behaviors and customs into false beliefs. We can also deceive ourselves, “So why fool yourself and live under an illusion? Make no mistake about it, if anyone thinks he is wise by the world’s standards, he will be made wiser by being a fool for God!” 1 Corinthians 3:18TPT
Clearly God is warning us about being self-deceived. Having a teachable heart and learning wisdom from above is the best way to guard from self-deception. Romans 12:1-2 speaks clearly that we are not to conform to this world but to renew ourselves in God’s truth continually. Often it is difficult to reveal the source of our wrong thinking, the lie but we know without a doubt that Satan is the father of lies.
The good news is…THE GRACE OF GOD CAN CHANGE ANY PATTERN WITH DIVINE POWER!
Here are the Symptoms of Oppression which indicate a stronghold, keep an eye out for them in yourself and others, be quick to rebuke and seek help from those you hold as spiritual warriors in God’s Kingdom.
Disinterest in or inability to read Scripture, comprehend the teaching of the Word, or participate in worship and prayer
Possession of items used in Pagan, New Age, Eastern, or Native American worship rituals or in Freemasonry ceremonies, these must be destroyed, thrown away.
Fearful, bizarre dreams and/or night experiences related to sexual perversion, occultic symbolism, or violence, evil presences, visitations, or impressions of demonic face
Conscious invitation extended to Satan and/or demons to become involved in one’s life
Systematic patterns of personal sinfulness, i.e., lying, dishonesty, and resentment toward others; sexual acting out; and racial hatred
Personality disturbance, i.e., paranoia, vengefulness, abuse of others (physical, emotional, sexual, or spiritual), self-mutilation, suicide attempts, depression, rebellion, and bizarre, violent, blasphemous thoughts
Addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, work, food, exercise, internet, or television
Experiencing no relief from medical treatments (including prescribed drugs), personal prayer, or psychological counseling
A family history of demonic influence coming from witchcraft or satanic worship; Native American, New Age, or Eastern religious practices; Freemasonry
Sweet sisters, I know this writing has been difficult for some of you. BUT we have a Savior and a Father God who loves us and gives us HOPE in every situation. Stand on this truth…” So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that His love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken His love.” Romans 8:38TPT
If we are going to tear down strongholds through the Word of God’s Truth (John 17:17), then you need to know what God is saying about you and how he sees you. The Bible tells us that God does not see or think about us like our parents, friends, and others see or think about us. 1 Samuel 16:7NASB “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Since this is the case, we therefore should not see ourselves through the subjective thoughts of man (how are parents see us as well as how our friends, co-workers, and people we come in contact with see us.)
Many people are living their lives base on how people see them or who people say they are. People will not always know your worth; you need to know your worth. Your true identity is found in God who created you for His purpose alone. Your parents may be the one who gave birth to you and brought you up, but you did not come from your parents, you came from God, your parents are just vessels God used to bring you into the world. Remember “I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:14
Closing Prayer for you…
Heavenly Father, let these words Your Words sink deep within my sisters, root out and expose anything that is not of you. Renew their mind and clean up their hearts, give discernment to their spirit, Holy Spirit speak to their spirit and strengthen them. Father I proclaim this truth…”For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Remove any spirit of fear or doubt within them let them know and experience supernaturally their value in Your Kingdom, let them walk in Your peace, make them battle ready warriors to help others to reveal and destroy any darkness. In Jesus’ name…AMEN
Blessings, Sister Laurie
Thank you to the following amazing men and women of God for their insight and inspiration.
Pastor Steve Berger, “Winning the Mind Wars, Tearing Down Strongholds Through Prayer”, Grace Chapel, Franklin TN
Pastor Gary Costella, Awesome Church, Sydney Australia
As I open my Bible I am drawn to Philippians 2:12-14MSG which says “What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God Himself willing and working at what will give Him the most pleasure.”
Paul had just reminded the church at Philippi what Jesus had done on the cross and he is encouraging them to not forget but to live out this Truth that God saved us and is at work in us. We must ask ourselves are we totally living the supernatural wonder of our salvation in our words and actions? Do we talk about being a Christian, yet our lives do not reflect this truth? Why are we unsuccessful in sharing our wonderful Savior Jesus with others?
We are called to show the Truth by our lives, not just tell the Truth by our words. There is that old saying that “talk is cheap”, this can be truly seen in the body of believers today. We come and hear the Word of God spoke on Sundays yet the minute we leave the parking lot we become discontent because the car in front of you is not moving fast enough or on their phone. We are an frustrated, unsatisfied people grumbling when the server at breakfast doesn’t refill the coffee soon enough. We even twit or post our grumbling on social media. Social media has become a platform for discontent and grumbling, there is no consideration for how what we say and do will affect others. So now we don’t only voice our negative opinion to the person next to us at church, the market or any gathering we spill it out there on the web for all to see! We must become aware that when we attend church, gather with other believers God’s presence surrounds us with beauty of God’s Words, our worship, the pastor or teacher’s lesson, yet if we are harboring a grumbling thought or share a negative opinion it undermines the power of the gospel, in fact it inhibits the work of the gospel even in social media.
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is the source not your pleasures that wage war in your body’s parts? You lust and do not have, so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend what you request on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3NASB
We have lost our moral compass…we are selfish, self-indulgent, self-centered, and self-pleasing only seeking what makes the minutes in our day work out the way we want. Ouch! This is brutal truth…we grumble, argue, blame, and complain…having it our way at any cost. We hear people say, “It’s just the way I am” as they selfishly walk through life.
1 Peter 2:12MSG tells us “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life in your neighborhood so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when He arrives.”
We find ourselves like the people of Babel wanting more, Genesis 11:4 says, “And they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let’s make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of all the earth.” They believed if they could build a tower as high as God they could attain importance, a title, a throne as mighty as Gods in power unable to be defeated, in essence to be just like God. How incredibly sad that they didn’t understand that God was with them working in them…if they would only open their hearts (spirit) to Him, they could not see the beauty of our creator and how His love for them was enough. These people did not have to build a tower; they could have experienced a wealth and security far more enduring then found in a building made of rock. An eternal, everlasting wealth in a personal relationship with God.
God saw today coming, He gives a warning to us found in Philippians 2:14-16NASB, “Do all things without complaining or arguments; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding firmly the word of life, so that on the day of Christ I can take pride because I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.”
Superficial, shallow things of the world will never satisfy our hearts (spirit) because this spirit we have within us, placed there by God is supernatural and hungers for God’s supernatural provision. It is here we find God’s grace, as the song says “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”.
Psalm 2:11 personalized tells us “Serve the Lord with reverence, devotion and rejoicing in wholehearted delight…that is hold firm and celebrate with trembling”. This trembling also spoken of as fear is “feeling the awe” this awe is experiencing, is knowing God’s Truth intimately, embracing His freely given grace. If we can get hold of His mercy and love it becomes very difficult to hold on to our grumbling and angry attitude. God is looking to perform divine heart surgery on your troubled and discontented heart. This is where grace is found in the Great Physicians hand…my dear sisters in Christ let God through His loving touch apply the grace needed today!
Blessings, Sister Laurie
This writing came to me after watching a teaching on Real Beauty by Pastor Akshay Rajkumar the lead Pastor of Redeemer Church in New Delphi, India. It is available on RightNow Media.com
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
First a little background for those who may not know me personally…I was not raised in a Christian home, in fact, my adopted parents were atheists who lived in the world and embraced a belief system which was extremely self-gratifying. I am a Born-Again Believer; I make this point because I will be talking about how our foundation in life dictates how we think and live. I don’t remember ever discussing the existence of God or the meaning of this life other than how important it was to have money, live high, have power and reputation within your community. This reputation was tainted with a worldview of wealth and position.
The long journey of casting off, surrendering my belief system or foundation built from my childhood and adult life experience has been long. God has never given up on me and so today I celebrate the new foundation God is helping me build based in truth. I wanted to share this with you because I make this point…IT IS NEVER TO LATE…God is waiting for you sweet sister! He wants to establish a foundation of truth under you that will redefine you and give you an identity in Him. Complete deliverance is what I am speaking of…Freedom from your old life!
Daniel had a foundation built on Godly principles, it is here we find how his foundation in God stood the test and kept Daniel from harm. Daniel was a young man with Godly character and integrity. Read Daniel 1-2 for details.
Daniel’s foundation is available to us if we allow God to work within us. Sisters it is not too late to break the destructive patterns in your life and embrace Godly truth. We know that the patterns we establish early in life, whether good or bad, will impact our future decisions. Our choices direct the lives we lead. These patterns form our foundation.
You and I must begin this journey of freedom by taking the scalpel of the Word of God in hand…”For the Word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12.
Begin by asking yourself these simple questions; Are you keeping your word? Do you hold grudges, speak negatively about those around you? Do you finish what you start? Are you easily distracted? Is your gaze on what is instructive and positive or destructive? Only you and God can answer these questions truthfully. Now is the time to let God reveal His truth about the condition of your foundation, ideas, attitudes, and behaviors that do not line up with God’s Word.
Remember, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything, worthy of praise, think about these things. As for the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9
Most of the time wrong thinking, believing a lie keeps us from the peace spoken of here. God has given you a gentle spirit, one that is not anxious, that has ability to live God’s truth as you journey through life. Let these words encourage you. Here are some practical steps to growing, redesigning your foundation according to God’s way.
Discipline yourself to do two necessary things you do not like to do every week.
Fix your eyes on a clear, specific goal.
Study the “whys” behind God’s commands.
Write out the promises you have made and take responsibility for all your actions and emotions.
Monitor and adjust the motives behind your actions.
Tell the truth no matter what the cost.
Live the truth even when it is not popular…are your words gratifying God or man?
Align yourself with a woman of God who you can be accountable to in every situation.
In today’s world we must be woman of God who are deeply rooted in God’s Truth and trust in God, not vulnerable to polluting ourselves with pride and lies. Like Daniel we must be a people faithful and trustworthy, a servant of God. Who’s love for God pours out from every cell within our bodies. Remember you are who God’s says you are and not the world…loved, valued, unique, beautiful, with purpose, designed by the creator, the daughter of the Most High King.
Here is a prayer to help you in your journey…
Lord, give me insight into what makes a healthy, effective woman of God. Make me sensitive to Your Spirit and show me the areas in which I need to grow and develop. Show me those in my life which speak Your Truth and help me to distance myself from those who do not. Help me represent You in every situation. Rebuild my foundation God, I give you permission to use the scalpel of Truth to do surgery on my mind and spirit. As you reveal attitudes and beliefs that do not reflect you God help me to let go and invite Godly thinking in. I desire to have my mind, body and spirit transformed by your truth God so that I would reflect you with every breath I breathe. AMEN