Steps to Spiritual Maturity

Do you remember as a child experiencing growing pains? We know that in order to physically grow into maturity there is a growing process that takes place. 

The moment we receive Christ we become born again and have to learn a new way of life, learning Gods word and living it out. Just like as a baby is born and  grows into maturity, we also need to spiritually grow and mature. But that doesn’t come without work and some discomfort.

Philippians 3:12-14 (TPT) 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 that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover. I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this;[a] 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.”

Spiritual growth/maturity can look different for everybody! We are all at different stages in our faith walk. The important thing that we need to know is that we are continuing to mature in our faith. We cant remain stagnant and complacent, but going from glory to glory! Just as Paul states we press forward towards the goal.

There are a lot of scriptures that talk about us growing up as Christians. We want to read and take a look at just a few to emphasis the importance of us continuing forward progression in our spiritual growth.

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The first scripture is:

Hebrews 6:1-3 (MSG) So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ!”

Love how the message translation is in your face, very blunt and straight forward. Just like as children we enter school and we don’t remain at the same level but we graduate and move onto higher learning so we can be productive in life. We must moving in a forward progression growing in the things of God. Just like in school we learn the basic elementary principles and build upon them and grow in knowledge and understanding. This is a comparison to our spiritual growth. We must build upon the foundation that has been laid for us.

Ephesians 4:14-16 (NLT) Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.” 

We can not remain as immature children. Children are vulnerable, naive and easily swayed. God does not want us being gullible falling for anything that sounds good, but to know the word of God.

If you don’t know your word you are more easily deceived!

1 Corinthians 13:11  “When I was a child, I spoke about childish matters, for I saw things like a child and reasoned like a child. But the day came when I matured, and I set aside my childish ways.”

Paul says “But the day came when I matured.” Paul is saying that we only see a glimpse now of our heavenly eternity, but one day we will see it all in heaven. Until then, we are maturing every day to get closer and closer to gaining more wisdom and understanding into the truths of the Word and our faith walk.

We should never stay the same, but see throughout the days, months, years that we have matured and grown in our walk.

1 Peter 2:1-3“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Just like a baby needs milk to nourish and grow the Bible tells us to feed on spiritual milk, which is the word of God. In order to spiritually grow we must read our word, get it inside our hearts, meditate on it. It’s fuel to our sprit so when pain and discomfort comes we have the word of God as our strength. We have to chew on the word of God that nourishes our spirit.

This was the measure by which my sister and I realized we had grown in our walk. The attributes by which we use to handle certain situations, more in the flesh were no longer present in our solutions to working out our problems. 

Hebrews 5:12-14 “For you should already be professors instructing others by now; but instead, you need to be taught from the beginning the basics of God’s prophetic oracles![a] You’re like children still needing milk and not yet ready to digest solid food. For every spiritual infant who lives on milk is not yet pierced by the revelation of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, whose spiritual senses perceive heavenly matters. And they have been adequately trained by what they’ve experienced to emerge with understanding of the difference between what is truly excellent and what is evil and harmful.”

We have to take what we learn and put it into practice. We can gain all the knowledge but we have to do something with it so we don’t become fat Christians. Just like in school we were given homework so we can put into practice the principles we have learned. We must do the same with Gods word, put his word to work! We can not just be hearers only but doers of the word.

 There are many different things that help our growth, here are a just a few:

    1. Stay rooted and planted in a church

It is so vital to stay rooted and planted in a church if we want to grow spiritually mature. We can not church hop, find a church and remain committed!!!

When we church hop it has damaging affects to our spiritual growth. Think about it this way, when a child continually moves schools it has an affect on their learning and even emotionally. WE know that! Spiritually if we do not remain committed in a church it can affect our spiritual growth. Also when a child has to switch schools its harder to build friendships, it’s the same for us in church.  When we become rooted and grounded in a church we can build community and friendship that is vital to our spiritual well being.

Psalm 92:13 Those who are planted in the house of the Lord Shall flourish in the courts of our God.”

Hebrews 10:24-25 “Discover creative ways to encourage others[a] and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. This is not the time to pull away and neglect[b] meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing, because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.”

Ephesians 4:11-13 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

    2. Prayer – stay in communication with God

Prayer strengthens your faith.

Ephesians 6:18 – “Pray passionately in the Spirit, as you constantly intercede with every form of prayer at all times. Pray the blessings of God upon all his believers. And pray also that God’s revelation would be released through me every time I preach the wonderful mystery of the hope-filled gospel. Yes, pray that I may preach the wonderful news of God’s kingdom with bold freedom at every opportunity. Even though I am chained as a prisoner, I am his ambassador.”

The scripture says to passionately pray in the spirit. We believe in praying in ur heavenly language. The bible tells us that when we pray in tongues it edifies our spirit. We all need to be edified and speaking in tongues will lift our spirits!

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – “Pray without ceasing.”

      3. Feed on Gods word

1 Peter 2:2 (NLT) Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment.”

Just like we need food for our physical strength and growth, we need the word of God for our spiritual growth. We eat three meals a day and don’t go without feeding our physical bodies. We wouldn’t go days without food, we know the affect it would have on us physically. We would become lethargic, drained, not able to focus, even sick. So we can not go without feeding on Gods word!!! If we do not feed on Gods word we will become spiritually lethargic.  We need to place and see the value of Feeding on God’s word. 

Job knew the importance….

Job 23:12 (NKJV) “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”

We can not survive spiritually with out God’s word!

4. Trials and testing

Growth doesn’t come with out some pain and discomfort. Like we mentioned earlier, when we are little we experience growing pains, it’s part of the growth process. Our spiritual growth comes with some growing pains as well. 

Romans 8:28  “All things work together for good to them that love God….”

See difficulties, trails as opportunities to learn and grow spiritually. How can you measure your growth without being challenged and tested. Once again paralleling as children in school we are tested to see our growth, to measure or level of knowledge. We will all go through hardships in life. But like the famous saying goes “what doesn’t break you makes you.” Its up to you if in those moneys you let them strengthen you spiritually or not.

In every situation and circumstance we can learn ad grow from them. Even in trials and tribulations look for the lesson!

Like scripture tells us we can rejoice and boast in our weakness, for that is the perfect time for God to shine the most.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

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Bearing Fruit Pt.2

The root system of a tree symbolizes our spiritual life. We know that roots provide nourishment to the tree to bear fruit, so how and what is nourishing our spirit? What are we feeding on?

We may have some roots that we need to dig up!

The Word tells us in Jeremiah 4:3 – “Break up your fallow ground, And do not sow among thorns.”

Also in Colossians 2:6-7 it reads – “In the same way you received Jesus our Lord and Messiah by faith, continue your journey of faith, progressing further into your union with him! Your spiritual roots go deeply into his life as you are continually infused with strength, encouraged in every way. For you are established in the faith you have absorbed and enriched by your devotion to him!”

Christian Pictures

There are several ways and reasons we may have unhealthy roots, but it isn’t too late to dig them up! Keep in mind, that we have several roots!

Just because we have some unhealthy ones doesn’t mean we don’t have good ones, too!

But to bear good fruit, we must dig up the bad roots to allow the good ones to grow!

 

Matthew 13:6 – “…but when the days grew hot, the sprouts were scorched and withered because they had insufficient roots.”

These are some roots that we have personally struggled with and had to dig up:

Roots of Fear

Fear is one of the biggest struggles we face as a people. Roots of fear can manifest in different ways for different people. Some roots of fear that God wants us to uproot include fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, fear of other peoples opinions, fear of failure – the list goes on.

But we do not have to fear for 2 Timothy 1:7  tells us – “God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” 

Fear is = False Evidence Appearing Real. On the contrary, we know that Faith is = the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Both have the word evidence, and evidence is facts, proof right? But, we see that fear is false proof, false truth and we cannot live our lives off of false truth but in Faith!

Roots of Bitterness

We can become bitter for a number of reasons, mostly due to unhealed wounds. Roots of bitterness can easily be overlooked when we decide to allow these wounds to grow in us without confronting them. 

Ephesians 4:31-32 – “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

 

Hebrews 12:15Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God: lest any root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by this many become defiled…”

There is hope, though! When we choose to uproot bitterness, God promises in:

Ezekiel 36:26“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Roots of Unforgiveness

This is huge because we may not even realize sometimes that we are walking in unforgiveness. That’s why 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves. We can easily allow things in and not even know deception has taken root. 

We need to uproot unforgiveness because it serves as a hindrance to receive anything God has for us. Remember that forgiveness toward others releases US from God’s judgment. Forgiveness isn’t easy and doesn’t right any wrongs, but it does release YOU to be open to receive God’s blessings. 

Matthew 6:14-15 – “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Now that we know what some of the unhealthy roots are, how do we uproot them? The answer is simple, yet complicated… CHOOSE TOO…unknown

Sissy and I have dealt with most of these and probably more. Dealing with roots becomes a part of your life, nature and honestly comfort. Digging them up literally comes from standing at a crossroads where you are finally fed up of going around the same mountain any longer.

You make the hard choice to go against your flesh and what you are comfortable with and you choose to grab onto God’s hand and run! Psalm 1 now becomes your safety net – surrounding yourself with Godly influencers who will encourage and support your efforts. I’m not talking about those that will stand on the sidelines and pray for you, but the ones/one who will get in those trenches with you no matter how many times or how long it takes.

You will get out what you put in. As my sister poured into me, “HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT?” Remember fruit doesn’t grow over night! Give yourself grace as it takes time for fruit to grow!

You literally live a life of worship. You wake up and you pray! You drive to work and you worship!! You pray without ceasing, as the Word says. Worship is in everything you do, how you operate and function on a daily basis. You immerse yourself in His Word that is the living water! The water that nourishes your spirit!

You do these things and THEN – THEN you will be like a tree planted by rivers of flowing water!!! THEN you will bring forth good fruit! THEN your leaf will not wither and THEN – THEN WHATEVER YOU DO WILL PROSPER!!!

Jeremiah 17:7-8 – “Good will come to the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. He will be like a tree planted by the water, that sends out its roots by the river. It will not be afraid when the heat comes but its leaves will be green. It will not be troubled in a Dry year or stop giving fruit.”

Bearing Fruit Pt.1

Last week, Sissy and I were walking an unknown trail. As we walked, we noticed huge IMG_4887trees on both sides of the trail. There was one particular tree that stood out. From decades of rain it washed the dirt away and half of this trees roots were open and exposed. It was very beautiful to see. We usually don’t get to see the roots of trees because they are hidden underground. This tree was massive and so were its roots. I felt God in that moment. I knew there was something about this tree that God was going to speak to us about and I had to stop and take a picture.

The obvious was the root system, but I felt this pause in my spirit to continue to allow God to speak. I knew there was something spiritual He was trying to convey, but sometimes we have to take a moment to truly hear from God and wait for His voice. 

Later that day, I looked at the picture again and this time, God clearly spoke a verse in Psalm 1:3 to me, which says, “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf shall not wither: and whatever he does shall prosper.” 

How great would it be to yield good fruit and prosper in everything we do? We look at that verse and see the blessings of God being promised, but if we back up a couple verses and read it in its entirety, WE have to do something. WE have to walk in the counsel of the Godly and make wise choices. 

PSALMS 1:1-3 “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”

Let’s take a look at each verse:

Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit n company of mockers…..”

This Psalm basically contrasts the two paths of life we can choose – the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked; the faithful verses the faithless. The first verse talks about the man who is blessed because he chooses NOT to walk in the way of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners. 

We are easily influenced by those around us, especially those who society may deem as “cool” or we have the social media “influencers” these days, which add even more pressure for our generation to flock with just to stay popular. God has called us to be different, to be influencers of HIS Word and walk with others who have also made that choice to follow Him. To disciple and bring others to Christ, we have to set the example and look different than the world and raise a standard against sin and ungodliness. 

The people we allow to influence us will determine if we become like that tree in Psalms 1 

Yes, we are called to minister and witness to unbelievers, but that doesn’t mean we take part in their lifestyle or allow ourselves to be associated with sinful living. People should be able to see Christ in is, in our actions, decisions and behaviors and a lot of that revolves around WHO we hang around with, whom we call friends and allow in our inner circle. Are those closest to you sharpening you in the things of God, edifying and encouraging Godly decisions in your life? Ask yourself these questions…

Proverbs 13:20 – “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”

1 Corinthians 15:33 – “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Psalm 1:2 “…but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night…”

Once we have Godly friends and people to uplift and encourage our walk with God, WE have to know His Word! When we are at work or out in the world and all hell breaks loose, do you have the Word hidden in your heart? Can you pull scripture out and declare the Word of God over that situation if you don’t have it stored in you?

Psalm 119:11 says I have hidden your Word in my heart…

Joshua 1:8 – “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

I know that when I am not in my Word in the mornings or don’t have my prayer time with the Lord, my day goes much differently. I am not as armored and equipped for what may come, and if you wake up in the morning, know that something will come your way! That’s life!! How you deal with it when you have had your time with God and been strengthened is going to be much different than if you go at it on your own.

We will go further to say that you also need those who will speak truth and life over you and your situations. We need those that will push us to God not away!

Psalm 1:3 “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”

Wow – now here’s the part we like – haha! We’ve got our Godly influencers in our inner circle! We are meditating on His Word day and night! If we are doing those things, the fruit should be evident. As we grow closer to God through His Word, we should be bearing productive fruit that touches those around us, affects others lives, as well. The more we are in His Word and in His presence, the more fruitful we should become.

John 15:5-8 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

The more we meditate on scripture and remain close to Jesus (the vine), our fruit grows prosperously because He is prosperity. Conversely, when we are NOT in our Word or in His presence, there is no nourishment feeding our branches, thus leaving us dry and brittle, useless and unproductive, bearing NO fruit.

What is good fruit? God tells us in Galatians 5:22 that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

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The concordance translates this verse stating that, “whatever he does shall prosper,” does not mean immunity from failure or difficulties, but rather when we apply God’s Wisdom, the fruit we bear will be prosperous. As a tree soaks up water and bears luscious fruit, we are to soak up God’s Word and display fruits of love, joy, peace etc., revealing in our very actions and attitudes that we have God inside of us. We hope and pray that God spoke to you!

Divine Connections, Part 2

As we head out of 2019 and into a new year and a new decade, we wanted to talk about something that is so vital, yet so often missed in our walk with God. If you missed Part 1, go back and watch. We are going into Part 2 of Divine Connections and while we have talked before of Covenant Friendship and spiritual connections, something we sometimes miss is the fact that divine connections usually come when we least expect them. In fact, divine connections are usually unexpected and serve as a bit of an interruption in our daily lives or routine and normalcy. That’s what happened with my sister and I and on the last show, we talked about a few people in the Bible who changed history because of their obedience to allow God to interrupt their lives.

My sister and I went through a season of complete intimacy with God. Now, granted that should be every season of our lives, but we had both been in that time where God was just speaking to us and we were just happy where we were with Him. Literally in what seemed like a flash, God brought the two of us together. We were living our own lives and we were interrupted. It seems odd to call a new friendship an “interruption,” but both my sister and I knew from the start that what we had was not a normal friendship. It was definitely a God ordained divine connection from the very beginning.

We tell our complete story on our blog under Covenant and we also talk about it in our first few shows archived on hsbn.tv, so we won’t go completely into that, but what we did want to talk about is what it cost us, the risks it takes to follow something so out of the ordinary and the blessings it brings, as well.

Because we had never seen anything like this, we fasted and prayed, watched sermons, read blogs, everything we could get our hands on about covenenant friendship. We literally took everything to God and it didn’t take long for us to realize the magnitude of what we had AND the risks it would take to live this. It was never a question for us. We both immediately said yes.

Saying yes to the call of God on your life and the interruption of what you know to be “normal” can literally be scary. We lost friends, family members didn’t understand us. Honestly, we didn’t fully understand us either. BUT we knew God was in this and we wanted to walk this out. It took the risk of losing friends, ridicule from those around us, the looks, the talks. But when Mary was called out, she was ridiculed. She was a teenager; pregnant with a baby that was not her fiancée’s. Noah looked ridiculous to his people, building an ark that had never been done before AND when there was no sign of rain. We understood that this would not look normal. We understood that God’s purpose in interruptions were His greatest invitations to embark on the most beautiful journeys ever!

No victory ever came from playing it safe. It takes risk to follow God and do something you have never seen be done. God literally took my sister and I out of our comfort zones and placed us on a path together we had no idea where we were going, but we trusted Him and we knew we had God and each other and it has been the most beautiful journey ever.

In Luke 1:5-25, Elizabeth was a respectable woman married to Zechariah, a member of the Jerusalem priesthood. She was past menopause, her husband was elderly, and she had given up hoping for a child. But her life took an unexpected turn. She became pregnant, to the amazement of all.

While she was pregnant with the future John the Baptist, she gave shelter to her young cousin, Mary. Mary, pregnant with Jesus and unmarried, may have been fleeing from the anger of her family. When the women met, each knew that they and their children would be an extraordinary part of God’s plan. 

Mary’s life was interrupted as a teenager to carry of the Son of God!! Elizabeth’s life was interrupted by becoming pregnant with John the Baptist AND while pregnant, now also caring for her pregnant cousin Mary. God divinely connected these two women when all they could do was hold onto God’s promises and each other. They both understood what no one else could, that they had a divine invitation together and they shared something so special.

Like all of us, my sister and I have fears, insecurities, things that are hard to shed. BUT, after divinely connecting us, we suddenly had more power, authority and anointing together, and have been able to overcome things we never could apart from each other. Our maturity in our walks with God came because of each other and that opened doors for us in Ministry, which we had never saw ourselves doing! Who we were before each other, carried burdens and brokenness we struggled to heal from alone. We couldn’t be good in the Kingdom carrying weights we weren’t meant to carry. Together and literally fighting in the trenches for each other through hell, we have been able to overcome and heal! Through that, we have been used in ways we couldn’t imagine. Covenant and divine connections bring healing to others. My sister and I now write our own blog, host this show and are able to pray for others and see God’s restoration in those around us like never before. WE have changed and we changed each other.

An article by Frederick Drummond stresses that “no one can make it on their own – to be otherwise is dysfunctional.”

“If you are planning on going any further than being a face in the crowd or perhaps a loner that never gets anywhere, you are going to have to acknowledge the importance of divine connections, go after them, and secure them at any price. Everyone needs to learn how to trust in God for their divine connections,”

Frederick Drummond

  1. Divine connections are controversial

Consider the old prophet Paul, whom God connected to young Timothy. Their faithfulness to one another helped make Paul the great man he became. Timothy gave up all to stick with him through thick and thin, even to the execution block, because he knew his destiny was connected to that man Paul.

My sister and I knew right away our relationship was controversial. We knew people were talking. People had never seen a bond like this before and people thought we were way too close, odd, weird. The things my sister and I do for each other, people had never seen.

We had a moment when we even questioned ourselves, but just like a loving Father, God immediately showed us the bond between David and Jonathan. Talk about controversial. They were called gay and probably a lot of other things, but without that covenant friendship, that divine connection, David would not have been the King he was! And they remained committed and loyal despite the controversy and haters.

“Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul…. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt” (1 Samuel 18:1,3,4). Theirs was not a perverted relationship at all; it was a divine connection, holy and of God.

  1. Divine Connections are committed

“Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16,17).

These powerful words of commitment have been used down through the centuries by Christians as wedding vows, and yet originally they were spoken between two women, reflecting their commitment to a divine connection.

My sister and I immediately had this “hell or high water, life or death” loyalty to each other. We knew it literally came from God and honestly, you have to have that to be able to weather the hell that might come against you, your relationship, your purpose. Acquaintances, friends, most people will only stick around for so long or go through so many battles with you, but that ONE God-ordained friendship will lay their life down for you, take a bullet for you!

  1. Divine Connections are pre-ordained for our lives

Best selling author Shae Bynes says God is a relationship strategist and that these divine connections are pre-ordained for our lives; completely tied to our very own destinies and God given assignments. God honors covenant and as we have discussed previously, there are consequences for breaking covenants. Covenant relationships are protected by Gods power, presence and love. He knew before He created us what we would need and what He had in mind for us to live to the fullest we can, and with that, WHO we would need.

Remember, God is a God of relationship. He created Adam for Himself and realized Adam needed someone like him, therefore created Eve. Relationship was always God’s design and it is also the very thing that can hurt and damage us the most, so it has to be prayed for, prayed about…Talk to God about your divine connections and the purposes He has for you through them. Remember, they might not always look obvious to you at the beginning, but God will guide you. Be open to receive and ready to be that to someone else, as well.

Divine Connections, Part 1

Heading out of 2019 and into a new year, we wanted to kind of circle back to the premise of not just our show or Ministry, but our lives together. We have done shows on Covenant Friendship and spiritual connections, but today we wanted to just talk about sometimes how these connections happen.

Have you ever been in the middle of an important or deep conversation and been interrupted? What about a day planned out – of all the things you need to get done and all of a sudden something happens to where you aren’t able to get it all done like you wanted? There is nothing more frustrating than to be interrupted in life; when something gets in the way of our plan. But there is one interruption that can be the best life changing interruption and that is when God interrupts our lives.

Other words for interruption are interfere, intrusion, a stoppage, and hindrance. None of these words are pleasing to hear. They are not the words that bring a joy or happiness. However, God at many times will interrupt our lives and those are the interruptions we need to be willing to allow.

A divine interruption can be the greatest blessing, the greatest opportunity and invitation from God.

If we hold on too tight to our agendas and our plans, we could miss out on an opportunity and invitation from God. We must be willing and open for God to interrupt our lives!

There are many stories in the Bible of divine interruptions; many who were faced with what seemed like the greatest interruption when it was really an invitation from God. Let’s take a look and learn from them…

Proverbs 19:21”You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”

Jonah(Chapters 1-4)

“The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: Get up and goto the great city of Nineveh…But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction. We are all familiar with the story. We see that God told him “get up and go.” Jonah was comfortable where he was. He didn’t want to go to a city filled with sin, to a people that (in his eyes) didn’t deserve Gods grace ad mercy, but God tells him to get up and go. For one, we know that Jonah didn’t immediately obey and there were consequences for his disobedience. God interrupted Jonah’s life with an opportunity to lead a people to repentance, which we know that he later obeyed. Jonah was told to go. God told him where and what to do. Sometimes, God just says go and there isn’t direction, but God leads as you go.

Then there is Mary, who is a great example as we just celebrated Christmas.

Mary

Luke 1:26-31

“During the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent from God’s presence to an unmarried girl named Mary, living in Nazareth, a village in Galilee. She was engaged to a man named Joseph, a true descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Grace to you, young woman, for the Lord is with you and so you are anointed with great favor.”

Mary was deeply troubled over the words of the angel and bewildered over what this may mean for her. But the angel reassured her, saying, “Do not yield to your fear, Mary, for the Lord has found delight in you and has chosen to surprise you with a wonderful gift. You will become pregnant with a baby boy, and you are to name him Jesus.”

Talk about an interruption! I mean, we have a hard enough time when we have an unexpected/unplanned pregnancy. Mary not only was going to be pregnant unplanned but it wasn’t even by her fiancé Joseph. Everything about this is such an example of a divine interruption! The risk it took, the courage it took, and the trust it took for both Mary and Joseph. You know people would talk- family, friends… Joseph himself would come close to leaving her. Talk about the ridicule, the mockery, and the gossip. Her life was interrupted and would be forever changed!

Noah(Genesis Chapters 6-9)

The story of Noah is one we all know very well. Noah was favored with God. The Bible says Noah was a righteous man who was blameless among the people of his time and most of all, he walked faithfully with God. The world at that time was corrupt with sin and violence and God decided to destroy the earth and all it’s inhabitants and start over. Because Noah was favored by God, he and his family would be spared. God interrupted his life and asked him to do something that would look completely and utterly ridiculous! He asked Noah to build an ark. Nothing like this had ever been built and there was no rain in sight! BUT Noah, obeyed and God gave him specific instructions every step of the way. Because Noah allowed God to interrupt his life and even what seemed “normal” to him, Noah and his family were saved.

We have to understand that when God interrupts our lives, it is always for a purpose to further His Kingdom AND often times, it will look completely ridiculous and absurd. We will have people looking at us like we have lost our mind. We will look weird, odd, unusual, BUT the Bible says God is doing a new thing. It won’t look like we think it should or even adhere to societal norms or standards, but it will be what God needs us to do and if we allow Him to interrupt us and use us, there are great things ahead!

When God interrupts, it’s not for us, but always about others, and in our obedience, we are blessed. Often, if not always, God brings what seems like interruptions as invitations for His miracles and purposes to take place.

  • We have to be willing to relinquish control of our plans, our agendas and allow room for God to interrupt our lives.
  • We have to be willing to take risks, tune out the noise and banter of others
  • We must be willing to adjust and allow change

 

The Importance of Divine Connections, by Frederick Drummond…

While working on our Show about Divine Connections, we came across this article by Frederick Drummond that beautiful illustrates the value of Covenant and Divine Connections that we had to share…

The Scriptures say, “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate,” or as the old King James puts it, “put asunder” (Matthew 19:6). The phrase “joined together” in your English Bible comes from one Greek word, which literally means “to be yoked, or coupled with.” It is formed by two words speaking of “association, companionship, completeness, as a yoke, a couple, a pair, a team.”

While in this context it refers to marriage, in its broader application it speaks of anything or anyone that God has joined together and made one to further His plans and purposes. Don’t forget, these are the words of Jesus. He believed in divine connections, and He warned the Pharisees and the intellectuals of His day to beware not to break them. Some things in life are too holy to be touched.

Nowadays, divine connections aren’t in vogue. They definitely are not fashionable. And even though we may dream about them and want them, they don’t suit our freethinking society. Some even frown on them and consider them to be strange and unhealthy.

Nevertheless, the Holy Bible is full of examples of God joining people together in marriage, in partnership to accomplish His purposes, and as teams to do great things for Him. Though man may have shrouded divine connections with mystery and even intrigue, God considers them vital to our destiny.

In fact, I want to go one step further and say, no one can make it on their own. We need one another—we are social creatures and can’t make it alone—we were all born to be team players.

To be otherwise is to be dysfunctional. If you are planning on going any further than being a face in the crowd or perhaps a loner that never gets anywhere, you are going to have to acknowledge the importance of divine connections, go after them, and secure them at any price. Everyone needs to learn how to trust in God for their divine connections.

Allow me to share some potentially controversial examples of divine connections that God used mightily to accomplish His purposes. Consider the old prophet Paul, whom God connected to young Timothy. Their faithfulness to one another helped make Paul the great man he became. Timothy gave up all to stick with him through thick and thin, even to the execution block, because he knew his destiny was connected to that man Paul.

Allow me to go deeper. There is the old woman Naomi, a bitter person who had lost more than most, including her husband and two sons, and was reduced to poverty. Her one daughter-in-law, Ruth, recognized a divine connection there, and when her mother-in-law was going to go her way, used these incredible words to describe her connection with the old woman: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16,17).

These powerful words of commitment have been used down through the centuries by Christians as wedding vows, and yet originally they were spoken between two women, reflecting their commitment to a divine connection.

Let us go even deeper. There is David and Jonathan, whom God joined together to suit His purposes. Hear how committed Jonathan was to David. The Scriptures tell us, “Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul…. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt” (1 Samuel 18:1,3,4). Theirs was not a perverted relationship at all; it was a divine connection, holy and of God.

The greatest mistake Jonathan ever made was choosing to go with Saul against that divine connection, and it cost him his life.

There is more. There was the older prophet Elijah and his young assistant Elisha, who had a divine connection that was so powerful that the young man turned his back on his family and career and devoted himself to serving the old man as a servant to the end.

The list of divine connections is long. I could speak of the old prophet Eli and Samuel the boy, or of the prostitute in Jericho and the spies sent by Joshua, and then there was Jesus and His beloved John, of whom the Scriptures say, “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). And again, referring to their special connection, “Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” (John 21:20). There was also the ex-harlot, Mary Magdalene, who poured  expensive oil on Jesus’ feet and washed them with her hair and caused an uproar among religious folks. The list goes on, and it includes wonderful people whom God joined together in special ways to glorify Himself.

I would like to refer to one last divine connection that is found in the New Testament Scriptures—it is between church members and their churches. Hear the words of Paul in this regard: “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). The phrase here, “perfectly joined together,” is used again to speak of the importance of divine connections. They are irrevocably linked to your destiny.

To get the most out of them, you need to recognize that they are:

  • God-given opportunities—holy
  • Open doors to growth—full of purpose
  • A key to your destiny—prophetic
  • Heaven-blessed and attended to by angels—purposeful
  • Always under attack—a threat
  • Very necessary to your spiritual life—strengthening
  • They call for sacrifice—giving to receive
  • Teach us loyalty—price tag

I believe in divine connections, because they are of God and vital to your destiny and mine. This is why God hates those who create division, sow discord, speak evil of one another, or are too proud to be a part of a team and pay the price to support it.

This is also another reason why the New Testament Scriptures unanimously teach us to walk in love towards one another—you never know how important that person you are sitting next to may be in helping you fulfill your destiny. It is also why I believe in adding value to one another in our relationships, and building on them. I am always on the lookout for my divine connections. These connections deserve preferential treatment.

http://frederickdrummond.com/Article_Drummond_Divine_Connections_071907.html

Anxiety and the Holidays

Change_pin2

We just celebrated Thanksgiving and are heading into the Christmas season. We celebrate the holidays as the most wonderful time of the year! We hear the Christmas music on the radio stations as early as the first of November and while it does put most of us in the Christmas spirit; it isn’t always the happiest time of year for everybody.

We have done shows on Anxiety and Depression and as the statistics unfortunately rise, the Holiday Season is always the hardest for those who do struggle with any type of mental illness, usually more than any other time of the year. Often times, it doesn’t have to be from something that recently happened, but can also be just a variety of things.

We love the holidays and even though I struggle with anxiety, we wanted to share some things we do that help us enjoy them as one who struggles with anxiety and one who is a sister. It can be challenging on both ends and we have always wanted to recognize that not only does the person struggling have a hard time, but the “caretaker” also feels the distress, as well.

I think it’s important first that we recognize our struggle instead of trying to hide it. Hiding it brings on a whole new level of anxiety that will pop up in when you least expect it. When I feel those moments coming on, I try to pray right away and also talk to my sister about it. I know that if I don’t talk, it’ll show in my actions and words and it makes things worse, so I would say to make sure you have that safe place, that person who knows you and you can trust.

Some of the things that bring on that anxiety through the holidays are:

  1. Social Isolation– You may be dealing with anxiety already and sometimes being in large groups makes you feel even more awkward and anxious. This was always huge for me. Although I thought I was a social person, in bigger groups, I tend to shut down.
  1. Grief– Grief isn’t always death, but also divorce, broken relationships. Grief is one of the biggest issues people struggle with over the holidays. For me, it’s always a painful reminder of losing my grandmother and aunts around the holiday season. Although God has abundantly blessed me with my sister and family, there’s always that part of me that misses my family I lost. Sometimes if we dwell on that, though, we stop ourselves from fully enjoying all we do have!

There are several reasons we didn’t talk about that cause people to struggle and feel loneliness over the holidays. These are just a couple that we have dealt with.

Everyone is different and there are several ways to cope and even learn to enjoy the holidays, BUT it does take work. We are use to allowing our feelings and emotions to control our joy and peace, but when we fully learn to be wholly dependent on God and His provision first, He will lead us through the next steps.

Psalm 119:50– “In all of my affliction I find great comfort in your promises,
for they have kept me alive!”

1 Peter 5:7– “Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.”

Psalm 68:5-6– “To the fatherless he is a father. To the widow he is a champion friend. To the lonely he makes them part of a family…”

Psalm 147:3– “He heals the wounds of every shattered heart.”

Here are a few ways we can learn to enjoy the holidays! Of course, we can’t do any of it without prayer and truly allowing God to come into our hearts and work through the process of healing with us. This can be grief, loss, abandonment, neglect, fear – whatever the root cause of your anxiety or loneliness is – it has to be dealt with first with God.

  1. Cling to the Promises of God

We don’t always feel like it. I know for myself, there are times when loneliness, anxiety and despair seem too great to even think about praying. God knows this and He doesn’t hold that against us. When you push through that flesh and just say the name of Jesus, He will lead the path to continue! He will give you the strength you need to forge through any pain or discomfort.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10– “My grace is always more than enough for you and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.”

John 14:18– “I promise that I will never leave you helpless or abandon you as orphans—I will come back to you!”

Phil. 4:6-7– “Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].”

  1. Confide in Someone

I thank God for my sister and what we have! It’s because of her we have been able to take a different stance when it comes to mental illness and realizing that there is another heart involved that is just as important and that is of the “caretaker.” Now, my sister isn’t necessarily my “caretaker,” but that simply refers to those that are close to someone who struggles with mental illness.

Especially during the holidays, my sister can tell when things start to get a little hard for me and it is so much easier that she is loyal and knows my heart and has learned how to deal with it and we have kind of learned together what works for us and how to get through those moments. If you have someone who you trust and know is out for your best interest and praying for you, then please reach out!! We cannot go through this alone and I know at times, it feels burdensome to tell someone, but when it’s that one God gives you – He will make it work. It can be a spouse, sibling, friend, or even therapist. But I do believe we need someone to talk to. God didn’t call us to go through life alone or the struggles.

1 Thess. 5:11 – “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

1 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 13:20– “The friends we choose can change our lives forever. If we choose the wrong type of friend, their influence can corrupt us and cause irreparable damage.”

Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 18:24 – “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Ecc. 4:9-12– “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

John 15:13– “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

3. Self-Care

A lot of mental illness, depression, anxiety is heightened with bad eating and sleeping habits. Eating a healthy diet as much as possible and getting the right amount of sleep, drinking water – all things that can help aid in a healthier mood. God tells us many times throughout scripture that taking care of our bodies are important to Him because we house His spirit!

1 Corinthians 6:19-20– “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body.

Romans 12:1– “Therefore I urge you brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship.’

1 Corinthans 9:27– “But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service].”

4. Start New Traditions and Volunteer

Change_pin1I think a lot of people who struggle with anxiety are not good with change. When we get use to something being a certain way, it is very difficult for us to let go and believe that the new will be as good or better than the old. Starting new traditions that trade our past can be a huge deal most don’t understand. The new may be great, better than before and we may even see that!! But, it still is difficult to embrace letting go of what was comfortable and “normal” to us.

One way to help overcome this is to start new traditions. This doesn’t mean completely having to let go of the old, but even meshing some old traditions with new ones and embracing something you started! You may have lost loved ones, but there are plenty of people in your circle, in your Church or around your city that could also use some love over the holidays, who also may be hurting.

Bake cookies for the neighbors, leave thankful notes on their doors, walk their dogs or offer to pick up groceries for them. Have holiday dinners with friends or extended family or invite others over and host them! There are plenty of ways to give and when we take the focus off of us, soon you will realize God has been healing your heart!

Matthew 25:35– “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me [with help and ministering care]; I was in prison, and you came to Me [ignoring personal danger].’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You as a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘I assure you and most solemnly say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it for Me.’”

1 John 3:17– “But whoever has the world’s goods (adequate resources), and sees his brother in need, but has no compassion for him, how does the love of God live in him? Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].

5. Align your expectations with Reality

We talked last show about how change is something that can be quite difficult for people struggling with anxiety. We understand routine and become accustomed to that, to trust it, so when something changes – it begins a whole new area of unknown that is scary. Recognizing that fear is the root of that and meditating on scriptures that denounce fear will help!

2 Timothy 1:7– “ For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Recognize that your feelings, fear and emotions are not reality and meditate on scriptures that transform your mind.

Romans 12:2– And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Understand that the reality of what you had before may not be your reality now. People may have come and gone, lifestyles may have changed! BUT God is still in control and He desires a prosperous life for you! Change is good! Trust me, I DO NOT embrace change like I should myself and I am preaching to the choir here.

Get yourself use to the new way, the new traditions, the new people. Once you let go and allow the newness to kick in, it can be better than before! Don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself. Don’t try to do everything or see everyone. Be real and honest about your boundaries, limits and how much you can handle at a time. It will take time to adjust, but with allowing God to hold your hand and taking it one step at a time, soon you will see your healing at hand.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new,” Socrates

The holidays are a beautiful time and should be shared with ones we love. Dealing with anxiety can be very real and we are not trying to diminish that. What we are saying is that all hope is in Him and if you can divert your whole attention and submit your heart to Him, He will meet all of your needs and you can enjoy this season more than ever!

“You cannot change what’s going on around you until you change what’s going on within you,” Anonymous

 

Jesus; The Lion and the Lamb, Pt. 2

Last blog, we talked about Jesus being the Lion and the Lamb, two very different characteristics and attributes of God. We realized that as the body of Christ, we too are very different in how we fight and our emotions and traits. Some of us may fight with words, some may fight with tears, and others may fight just as passionate in silence.

Although the Bible gives many references to Jesus as the lion and the lamb, there is actually only one verse that showcases both.

READ– Revelation 5:1-7

So, both the lion and the lamb refer to Jesus. He was the Lion of the tribe of Judah, as well as the lamb who was sacrificed for our sins.

Last blog, we discussed the attributes of the Lion and how we need that fierce ferocious warrior for some battles, but just as fierce and ferocious are the warriors who fight a little quieter, with a piercing beauty and words that cut like a sword.

Today, we are talking about the Lamb of God. The Lamb of God was the lion becoming the lamb, the lion of the tribe of Judah, stepping out of throne of heaven and becoming a man, then a living sacrifice.

The crazy thing is the name Lion of Judah is only used once in Revelation. The name Jesus and Jesus Christ are used 12 times in the book of Revelation. BUT the name Lamb is used 24 times in the 22 Chapters of Revelation! God always does the unexpected – a crowning lamb is used more than the Lion of Judah! That’s not to say the Lion was not as powerful, but it was the sacrifice, it was the heart, the surrender that took precedence.

Phil. 2:6-9– “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name…”

We want to be more like Jesus, so what are some attributes of the lamb we can relate to?

Sheep are meek animals. They are usually very quiet and gentle, holding themselves aloof from the world. In a herd, all the sheep tend to listen to their leaders and show esteem to them. Because of the obedient character, sheep are among the most popular animals beloved by mankind. Sheep need a leader.

Meekness

Psalms 37:11 – “The meek shall inherit the earth…”

Matthew 5:5– “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth…”

Colossians 3:12 – “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;”

Gentleness

Galatians 5:22-23– “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Ephesians 4:1– “I therefore the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love…”

Philippians 4:5– “Let your gentleness be known to all men” 

How do we have the mindset of Jesus as the Lamb? 

We show true humility, by putting others before ourselves.

Philippians 2:5– “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, butmade Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” 

Lamb-like attitudes produce words of edification and praise 

Because we’re learning to see others as Jesus sees them, we use our words to build unity in our families, workplaces, and churches. We make sure our wordsare tender and compassionate,rather than selfish and conceited.

Philippians 2:1-4– “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Again, lamb-like attributes are meek, gentle, and selfless. We look out for others before ourselves and we cultivate unity in the body of Christ.

Lamb-like attitudes also generate works that bring Jesus glory 

Philippians 2:13– “ for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things withoutcomplaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

Our attitude flowsnaturally from a mind that seeks to “act according to his good purpose”

In Phil. 2:13, “we’re willing to be “poured out like a drink offering” for others.”

We put ourselves out there as a sacrifice on the earth as Jesus did for us and we expect nothing in return. We joyfully volunteer to do mundane tasks for others, not expecting anything in return.Their response does not concern us because we see even the mostmundane action as a sacrifice of praise to the Lamb of God.

The Lamb of God willingly “made himself nothing” for us, becoming a servant so he could redeem us. Are we equally willing to become a sacrifice of praise to him through our attitudes, words and actions?

We see throughout the scripture that while Jesus is both the lion and the lamb and they host very different characteristics;both were needed to accomplish His purposes. As His children, some of us carry one of those traits stronger than the other. We are all different, but the power in being warrior-sword-ready fierce is just as important and powerful as being meek, gentle andfighting with sacrifice and praise.

Jesus; The Lion and the Lamb, Pt.1

We had this vision years ago, when God brought us together – it was a picture of a field of sunflowers. Now, as most of you know that follow us, we use sunflowers in almost everything! That was something God personally gave to us. Sunflowers are very unique flowers as they literally rotate their faces during the day toward the sun. When the sun rises and sets in the evening, the sunflower has followed it’s rays all day!

It was a picture to us of how we should follow the SON from morning till night, how we need to constantly set our eyes upon the Son and remain in His light to grow and mature. And another amazing thing about sunflowers is they feed off each other! They follow the path in unity. Again, a symbol of how God wants the body of Christ to follow Him and grow in His light together!

Psalm 34:5– “They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed.”

We had a dream years ago, when God brought us together and it was of an army – God’s army! There were women in groups of two’s and they were ready to fight, but they didn’t have swords and armor. When we think of God’s army, we often see us as warriors in battle, black artillery and shield and sword in hand! And that is true!! We are called to be God’s army and we need that spiritual armor for the battle we are in, BUT for my sister and I, we saw a different side, too. We saw the fight strong and mighty, but with a gentleness that was just as strong as the fierce warrior, a different light to it.

It got us thinking about the nature of Jesus. We see throughout scripture that He is referred to as the lion and the lamb! He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, fierce and strong! But, He was also slain for our sins and offered Himself as the sacrificial lamb for our redemption. He had two very different natures, however both supernaturally powerful and both very needed to complete the full picture of redemption, salvation and eternity.

Although the Bible gives many references to Jesus as the lion and the lamb, there is actually only one verse that showcases both.

READ– Revelation 5:1-7

So, both the lion and the lamb refer to Jesus. He was the Lion of the tribe of Judah, as well as the lamb who was sacrificed for our sins.

Revelation 5, which we just read, takes place in the heavenly throne room. After receiving the command to write to the seven churches in Asia Minor, John is “caught up in the spirit” to the throne room in heaven where he is to receive a series of visions that culminate in the ultimate victory of Christ at the end of the age. He notices that there is a scroll in the “right hand of him who was seated on the throne.” The scroll has writing on the inside and is sealed with seven seals.

An angel proclaims with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” John begins to despair when no one comes forth to answer the angel’s challenge. One of the 24 elders encourages John to “weep no more,” and points out that the Lion of the tribe of Judah has come to take and open the scroll. The Lion of the tribe of Judah is obviously a reference to Christ. The image of the lion is meant to convey kingship. Jesus is worthy to receive and open the scroll because he is the King of God’s people. Out of the tribe of Judah came the Kings of Israel. Christ is the “lion of the tribe of Judah” which means He is the ultimate, true, and eternal King. The roaring lion speaks of strength, majesty and royalty.

As the Lamb of God, He is the perfect and ultimate sacrifice for sin. His victory at the cross is symbolized by his appearance as a “Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6). Before the exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were commanded by God to take an unblemished lamb, slay it, and smear its blood on the doorposts of their homes (Exodus 12:1–7). The blood of the slain lamb would set apart the people of Israel from the people of Egypt when the death angel came during the night to slay the firstborn of the land. Those who had the blood of the lamb would be spared. Fast-forward to the days of John the Baptist. When he sees Jesus approaching him, he declares to all present, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus is the ultimate “Passover lamb” who saves His people from eternal death.

So when Jesus is referred to as the Lion and the Lamb, we are to see Him as not only the conquering King who will slay the enemies of God at His return, but also as the sacrificial Lamb who took away the reproach of sin from His people so they may share in His ultimate victory.

For my sister and I, we have always seen Gods Army as fierce and powerful, yet gentle and it got us thinking how different the body of Christ is. Some of us are more physically strong than others. Some of us fight differently; have different strengths and different weapons. We all know people who just have strong personalities and aren’t afraid of confrontation. And we all know people who have softer personalities and refrain from conflict. Neither is right or wrong, but just handle situations differently.

Much like the lion and the lamb, as God’s children, we, too possess everything He does. While we need the fierce warriors with swords drawn to battle the enemy armies, we also need those meeker sacrificial lambs to bring peace into situations, as well.

We wanted to talk about those differences in our characteristics because sometimes I think we only view spiritual warfare and battle like swords, shields and fatigues, when the quieter spirit who watches and observes and fights a different way is just as strong and powerful and can sometimes see things coming the other’s can’t.

Let’s look at the attributes of a Lion: A Lion symbolizes royalty-power, dominion and strength.

Some attributes we pulled off line about lions are:

  1. They are very protective– Lions are extremely protective of their territory, their “pride.”

God is extremely protective of His people, too.

1 John 5:18We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

Psalm 138:7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.” 

  1. Lions are Brave– They are very courageous and willing to fight for what is theirs when they need to. What are we willing to fight for? Is it a job, marriage, children? Are we willing to be brave against the enemy and remember that the victory is already ours?

Romans 8:37– “Yet even in the midst of all these things, we triumph over them all, for God has made us to be more than conquerors and his demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything!”

  1. Lions are part of a Pride – Lions are part of a tribe or family, a team. They instinctly know it is better to travel and do life with others. Like lions, we need to surround ourselves with Godly influences that will lift us up, encourage and motivate us to fight when we don’t want to, seek God when we’re tired. We need others to show us things we may be biased and blind to.

1 Corinthians 1:10– “I urge you, my brothers and sisters, for the sake of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree to live in unity with one another and put to rest any division that attempts to tear you apart. Be restored as one united body living in perfect harmony. Form a consistent choreography among yourselves, having a common perspective with shared values.” 

1 Corinthians 12:14– “For the body is not one member, but many.” 

Ecclesiastes 4:9– “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.”

  1. Lions are Loners– While lions are known to be a part of a pride, they are also known to spend time alone. They often times separate themselves from the other lions and can be seen just laying in the sand or desert all by themselves. That shows us, too that we need that alone time with God While being fierce and ferocious, if we are not filled up with our own time with God, we can easily grow weary.

Matthew 6:6-7– But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

Luke 5:16– “So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.”

As Jesus serves as the Lion of Judah, we are also fierce warriors, ready, equipped and armored to fight the battle that has already been won. We are fully equipped and ready! God has given us everything we need to reign victorious. It’s up to us if we will fight for those things God has placed in our hands.

Eph. 6:10READ (Armor of God)

Next blog, we will discuss more of the attributes of the Lamb of God and how we relate!

Walking as the Body of Christ, Part 2

Picking up off of our last blog, we talked previously about how as 3 part beings: body, soul and spirit. Walking in the fullness of Christ is recognizing that we are more than just spirit and soul beings, but that God equally cares about our bodies, as well. Like Christ is a triune being – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – all 3 parts are equally needed. We too are 3 part beings: body, soul and spirit. We often put a much bigger emphasis on our spirit and what we believe is the most important, but sometimes neglect our bodies and our soul, which is where our mind is hosted. We talked last show about our bodies being the temple, but each part is equally important.

In this blog, we are going more into another reference the Bible uses in terms of the body and that is the unity we have as Christians and working together in “the body” to perform different functions just like our physical bodies. We have a mandate from God to walk in unity with our fellow believers, but have we accomplished that? We’re just going to start off by dissecting 1 Corinthians 12, verses 12-31. There are many verses throughout the body that refer to being of one mind and walking in unity as the body, but this one definitely addresses the main concept well.

1 Corinthians 12:12 – 20 (READ)

One Body with Many Parts

Just like our physical bodies, which are so intricate and each ligament and muscle and part perform a different function, but are all vitally needed, so are we individually as Christians with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. As parents, we don’t like to see our children fighting, but encourage unity and likeness for them to get along. As with Christ, I imagine He doesn’t like looking at His children and watching us fight over petty issues, rather utilizing the talents He specifically gave us to work together and function in unity with the body. When one member of the family strays the other way, all members are affected.

In the early Church of Corinth, the members were actually divided because of their different gifts and talents. When we are baptized into the body of Christ, although we still carry our own unique gifts and talents, we have to understand that we have become ONE in the likeness of Christ. We were baptized into the family of God, therefore inhabiting all that HE is and all that our fellow believers now carry, as well.

Paul talks about the importance of each part of our body (each member of the body of Christ), that if one part is taken away, the entire body becomes less effective.

All members of the body are equally effective in making the body function as a whole. One missing or weak link affects the whole body.

Romans 12:4-8– “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

1 Peter 2:5– “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Paul is portraying the church as a living, spiritual temple, with Christ as the cornerstone and each believer is a stone. Christ is the head and the Church is the body. It symbolizes community; unity…one stone is not a temple or even a wall. One body part is useless without the others. In our society today with individualism on a high, we tend to forget our interdependence with one another. We have to realize that when God calls us to something, it is an individual part to a whole and the believers also carry parts, as well that we need to work together to complete.

1 Corinthians 12:21-26 (READ)

No Competition in the Body

Instead of comparing ourselves to each other, we should work together to utilize our different talents to spread the gospel.

This is a bit of why my sister and I share our covenant friendship with the world, not to be boastful or bragging, but to exhibit the very real example of unity in the Body. We live in a generation of social media, where we see comparison bleeding from the posts of those around us, judgment, criticism, and comparison. We don’t just see it in the world, but in the church. We see anointed evangelists and people get elevated, ordained, and instead of being able to congratulate them and support our bothers and sisters, we see such competitiveness in the body. We don’t want to share their accomplishments, we question the call on their lives if WE don’t see it and we downright don’t support them because we don’t understand and could possibly be a bit jealous or envious. We see it all the time.

We truly need to become a people that are s confident in who WE are in Christ and what HE gave US, that we stop criticizing and judging our fellow believers and their callings and just support, edify and encourage them. Our lack of support is more of a reflection of them than us.

The concordance says, “Thinking of your gifts more important that someone else’s is an expression of spiritual pride. We should use the gifts we have been given and encourage others to use theirs. What is your response when a fellow Christian is honored? We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.”

When you compare, someone always comes out losing.

James 3:16– “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

2 Corin. 10:12– “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”

Phil. 2:3– “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

1 Corinthians 12:27-31 (READ)

 We are One Body, but with Different Gifting’s

Paul makes it clear that no gift is superior to another. The greatest gifts are those that benefit the body of Christ more than oneself. He says that the gifts we have been given are not for self-advancement anyway – they are for edifying, serving and enhancing the overall spiritual growth of the whole body of Christ. We need to stop being selfish with what God gave us.

It reminds of me of our kids – when they are little and don’t understand how to share. The say “mine” to everything until we break that rebellious spirit off of them and teach them to share. I can imagine Father God handing down these precious gifts He ordained specifically for each of us and we hoard them to ourselves, when it’s almost like He gave us puzzle pieces that are incomplete and ineffective without the joining of the other gifts given to our fellow believers. We were created for unity and harmony, but because we were also born into a sinful world with a rebellious spirit, we have to literally retrain our minds to adhere to the things of God and understand that HIS ways are truth, not what the world is teaching us. Until we can walk in unity and understand that others’ gifts and talents aren’t to lessen ours, but enhance them, we will keep running into a wall.

1 Peter 3:8– “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart and a humble mind.”

Psalms 133:1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”

Romans 12:10 – “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

God is so concerned with our full part beings and wants us to live exceedingly and abundantly above anything we could think or ask for. He has given us all power, authority and dominion over the beats of the earth, BUT also over our own bodies. Let’s be diligent in taking care of our bodies and feeding our entire being with the things of God so that we can truly walk in the fullness He has created us to!