The baggage that should not be claimed

Philippians 3:13-14 (AMP) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul was a man with a past. Paul (known as Saul) held the coats of those stoning Stephen. He was responsible for persecuting the early church. Then he was the one who was being persecuted. Why? Jesus became real to him and he could not keep quiet about it. He learned first hand what Stephen was going through physically, and he held the coats of those doing it, while cheering them on.

We often wonder what Paul’s thorn was in 2 Corinthians 12, could it be the hurt he caused those that he is now trying to minister to? How he wished that they would forget like God has forgotten who he was. Paul was not the same man he was holding those coats. He was not the same man who searched the cities with the intent of killing anyone who professed Christ. That did not mean he was trusted by them now.

Paul said that in verse 10 that his determined purpose was to know Him more. That is something you and I have to grow in, just like Paul did. He was humble enough to admit that he did not reach there to completion yet, he had some things he was still working out, but one thing he did know was to forget what lies behind and reach forward.

He had to let go of the baggage of his past. There are some areas that we have to get to the root cause of. Those areas are rejection, hurts, orphan spirit, victim mentality, etc.. The area I am talking about is our mistakes. Like us, Paul had made some mistakes. He could not put his focus there. We can carry it around like baggage and let it way us down. If we try to unpack it, we eventually put it on and identify with it.

Have you ever flown and your luggage was too heavy? Instead of paying the surcharge to check a heavier piece of luggage. you take out items and put them on. So now you are wearing two pairs of pants and three bulky shirts. That is what it is like when we identify with our mistakes because we tried to unpack them and examine them. How comfortable is that flight going to be? The seats are already tight enough. Don’t you think a little bit of anxiety is going to set in? We sit there long enough like that and depression gets a hold of us. Then you do not want to move. You would rather hide in your bed than face the world because you have identified with your mistakes. Relationships start to suffer and now you have isolated yourself.

The biblical word for baggage is strongholds. It is the one area that always stays with us. Always trips us up.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (NIV) For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

The definition of stronghold here is: a prisoner locked by deception. Living life by something that is not true.

This is why Paul said forgetting what lies behind. God chose to forget our sins. We have to choose to forget our past. The Hebrew words for “forget,” shakach and nashah means to cease to care or to ignore. It is has not dropped from the mind, but it has dropped from the equation.

Still think it’s too bad? You have been through too much?

This is when you need to stand on Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Paul fought with his flesh, the human nature to do things with self concern. The inability to walk in forgiveness and not letting go of who we use to be, has to do with us. We need Jesus.

Ephesians 4:22-23 (AMP) Regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude].

I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

How? By forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. Drop it. Your mistakes do not have to form your future. There may be consequences. Like Paul, the people had to watch and see the character change that happened. There is not need of convincing. Take off that old self and let them see the true you, the you that was made in His image. Glorify God with where you are right now. We are all still progressively growing. We are going to make more mistakes. None of us have perfected this, not even Paul. Jesus has been the perfect one. Keep going. Keep focused on Jesus. Get to know Him more through the Word, through prayer, through the Holy Spirit and through showing love (the unselfish concern for others). We are His, let Him work through you today.

Father, I thank you that you are the God that sees me. You know my every thought and action. Yet, you sent your Son to die for me. Please help me in the areas that try to weigh down my mind. I know you have forgiven me for my past, please help me not to live there any more. You say we can come boldly before you in your grace and mercy. I know you do not identify me by past and I am not asking you to control the thoughts of others. Please help me to not see them as my enemy and not ones who bring condemnation. Let your love flow through me. I desire to be close to you and glorify you in all that I do. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Even Here

Genesis 39:20 (AMP) So Joseph’s master took him and put him in the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined; so he was there in the prison.

I love the story of Joseph. There is so much you can glean from someone who overcomes to a story of forgiveness. Today I want to look at how much favor was on Joseph. Joseph had a relationship with God that he did not fret when bad things happened to him. We do not know what faces he made. I am the type of person that if I have a little bit of frustration it shows. I do not have to put any actions to it, my brow furrows.

If you do not know this story, I encourage you to read Genesis 37-50. He is a very important person to the Israelite’s, second to Moses. First he is sold into slavery by his own brothers and now, in the above verse, he is imprisoned for something he did not even do. If anyone had a reason for self pity, it would have been Joseph.

The next verse:  But the Lord was with Joseph and extended loving kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the warden. Even in prison he still had purpose. It was not when he got out of the situation, it was right in the middle of it. It was while he was going through some of the hardest moments of his life favor was still there. These were the steps he had to go through to save a nation.

The Apostle Paul had something similar to say while he was in prison. If you did not know, he wrote most of the letters to other churches while in prison. He had favor there also.

Philippians 1:12 (AMP) Now I want you to know, believers, that what has happened to me [this imprisonment that was meant to stop me] has actually served to advance [the spread of] the good news [regarding salvation].

Philippians 1:14 (AMP) Because of my chains [seeing that I am doing well and that God is accomplishing great things], most of the brothers have renewed confidence in the Lord, and have far more courage to speak the word of God [concerning salvation] without fear [of the consequences, seeing that God can work His good in all circumstances].

Here is my question: Do you think these two men waited until the right circumstances to do anything for God? Did they have to get to a certain place? Paul was waiting to speak to Caesar. He was not the only one he was going to share his faith with. He shared the story of how he received Christ whenever he got the chance. He told of the change that Christ made in his life and how he cannot help but serve Him everywhere he goes.

Joseph as a slave and as a prisoner served. He did it to not get him out of a situation, but to glorify God while he was at any place. Those over him recognized the favor on his life and wanted to be a part of that.

Matthew 5:14-16 (AMP) You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.

I know life can throw some really tough things at us. If you need to write Matthew 5:14-16 on a mirror, or on your refrigerator door, and say it out loud to your self as often as you see it. Memorize it. So that every time the enemy tries to get you down on your self because of your situation you can tell him ‘even if’ and ‘even here’ “I am the light of Christ”. “I have purpose.” “I am going to continue to glorify my God with whatever I put my hands to.” ” I will continue to talk about his goodness.” “His mercy and goodness follows me wherever I go.”

Do not believe the lie that you are hidden for later use. You were created for now. You are needed now. You have purpose now. People may not recognize it until later, but who are we doing it for anyways. I choose to glorify His name today. I am actively looking for opportunities to tell about His goodness and show them through my good works. How about you?

Happy Love Day

1 John 4:19 (NIV) We love because he first loved us.

We all want someone to lay down their lives for us. We want someone to make the greatest sacrifice so that I know that I am loved. Jesus did that when He died on the cross for us. We are suppose to do it every day because of that great love.

John 15:13 (AMP) No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends.

Yesterday, during Love Sunday, my husband and I got to minister together. We talked about us being created for a purpose. Marriage has a purpose. Marriage is not to give each other purpose, it is to enhance our created purpose. In marriage we get to do it together.

Genesis 1:28 (AMP) And God blessed them [granting them certain authority] and said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate it [putting it under your power]; and rule over (dominate) the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

Our union was not just to have lots and lots of babies. We can be fruitful and multiply and it not apply to having children. They are a bonus, my children are not my purpose. The anointing for multiplication is on my life and on yours. We are called to fill the earth with our ideas and concepts planted in our hearts by Him. I am believing for the unusual. I am believing for the unheard of and outlandish blessing to be poured out on my life. Why? Everything that is birthed through me will subdue the earth. We are called to walk in dominion all the days of our lives (men and women). We were given this authority by Jesus.

There is no greater motivator than love. In receiving it and in giving it. God speaks love all around us. He created us in love. In turn we love each other in our actions, because He first loved us.

Last week I had an amazing time showing love. Widows were delivered flowers. Conversations were had with grocery store clerks (not just exchanging pleasantries, but now I know that they work multiple jobs and looking for a new apartment). Future plans have been made to touch back with all of them. One chance encounter changed my perspective on Mary pouring the oil to anoint Jesus for burial. What if you were someone’s last encounter before they left this life? Would they know they were loved? Would they know they were seen?

What opportunities will be opened up to me this week? I was created for a purpose. To be fruitful, to multiply and to fill the earth, and subjugate it through love.

John 3:16 (AMP) For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Happy Love Day!

Check out the full message on YouTube: Love Sunday 2022

The struggle of acceptance

Ephesians 3:16-19 AMP May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].

I struggle with acceptance. In my previous post titled, “Stepping out of fear into my hiding place,” I mentioned how I am coming out of being an extreme introvert. Yesterday was another challenge for me. We have had to do video worship before, when we were lacking musicians, for a season. Yesterday was such a day. When doing video worship I and others will stand in front of and face the congregation to worship (a style of leading). Thankfully the screen for the lyrics were above everyone’s heads. However, now we are live streaming the service. Now I have to be mindful of my face. Something that I was told to me to do in the past. I was told that I had the look of someone who could bite a car in half. Wow! That was sure encouraging to hear!!

The above scripture was needed for me yesterday and I hope it encourages you to do the hard things. Without the Holy Spirit I would not have been able to stand in front of people. He is who energizes me. He is the one who I want to reflect in my innermost being and personality. He is the only one who can soften that face of mine. How? I am rooted and securely grounded in the love of Christ. Even though it was someone “in Christ” that told me that I had the look of someone who could bite a car in half, that was not what Christ would say. Christ would never tell you something that made you feel unlovable. His love is endless!

I do not like that I struggle with acceptance. I do not like not feeling uninvited. So what do I need to do? Verse 19, above, tells me that I get to know this endless love more when I allow Him to work through me through practical experiences. I can know all those scriptures in my head, but until I step out (in courage) I am not going to know the true richness of those Words. In order for me to be complete, made whole, I have to give the Prince of Wholeness something to work with. I had to stand up in front of the church yesterday and lead worship by video. Why? Verse 20 has a promise…look for the key word “now.” Now follows a responsibility on my part.

Ephesians 3:20-21 AMP Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

When I yield the feeling of not being accepted and rest in Him (faith in action, not the absence of acting), He can fulfill His purpose. His purpose is superabundantly more than I can thing or dream of. I have often read the scripture about seeking first and foremost the Kingdom and all things will be given to you also (Matthew 6:33). If we really believed that and did that with all of our hearts, the things we thought we wanted would pale in comparison to the fulfillment of walking in your purpose. That is where I want to be.

Praying this encourages you to step out a little more into your purpose today.

Isolation is not your purpose

John 17:17 (AMP) Sanctify them in the truth [set them apart for Your purposes, make them holy]; Your word is truth.

This was the key verse in my Smith Wigglesworth devotional yesterday. The devotional was talking about making the Word the authority in your life. He wanted to convey that instead of praying whether you should obey the word (which is just disobedience), do the Word. He questioned the heart of the believer for having to pray whether God wanted them to do what was written in the Word.

This got me thinking about the “set them apart for Your purposes,” as it is written in the Amplified Version. Since the beginning of man, Satan has taken God’s Word and twisted it (taking it out of context). Taking this Word out of context we can justify us isolating ourselves from the community of believers. A person can attend a weekly service and still be isolated, because they choose not to get involved with each others lives. They have been “set apart for a purpose.” Really they have a deep rooted fear of not feeling important to the community of believers, but only important to God, therefore, they are “set apart.” I know, because I used to be one of those. Fear will tell you that you are not wanted, not needed and not loved.

Let us put that key verse into context. John 17:15-21 (AMP) I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but that You keep them and protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth [set them apart for Your purposes, make them holy]; Your word is truth. Just as You commissioned and sent Me into the world, I also have commissioned and sent them (believers) into the world. For their sake I sanctify Myself [to do Your will], so that they also may be sanctified [set apart, dedicated, made holy] in [Your] truth. “I do not pray for these alone [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for [all] those who [will ever] believe and trust in Me through their message, that they all may be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe [without any doubt] that You sent Me.

I took the liberty of underlining some very important elements. First, Jesus is talking about a group, not an individual. He did not say “some believers,” He said a blanket “believers.” To me that means there is not room for me to not be included in these verses, if I am called a “believer.” So therefore, I should not be praying if this is God’s will for my life. If I am a “believer” then, that is an automatic yes I should be obeying this.

“I do not pray for these alone (it is not for their sake only that I make this request),” I believe these words are written in red in some Bibles. This means that Jesus did not single anyone out. This is meant for ALL who will ever believe. He has sent us out to be apart of this world, not of this world. That means I have to allow the messy part of the world to be a part of my life, so that He can shine bright in it.

“That they all may be one…so the world may believe (without any doubt) that You sent Me.” This right here should give us a heart check in why we are called to a Body (a church, a community of believers). What if I have a gifting that can be done alone? Does this verse say you should? Jesus sent the disciples out two by two (Luke 10:1). When we read about intercession in the New Testament we read about it happening in groups (Acts 12:5). Yes, you can do things on your own, but does that mean you should? I have to remind myself that time and again. It is not “I” that is set apart, it is “we” that is set apart.

Praying that you know that you are needed, that you are wanted and that you are loved. Do not let fear hold you back from really being a part of a community any longer. There is purpose in community!

Hebrews 10:24 (TPT) Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.

Endless love

John 17:26 (TPT) I have revealed to them who you are and I will continue to make you even more real to them, so that they may experience the same endless love that you have for me, for your love will now live in them, even as I live in them!

When God created mankind, man and woman, He did not want to create “robots.” Robots have to obey according to what they are programmed to do. He wanted to create beings that could make a choice. Why? This was the only way He would have a true form of love towards Him. People have to choose to love Him, we are not forced to. Jesus revealed that love to us when He was here on earth.

We all have dreams and desires, that is part of being a created being. We are given choices. It is up to us to make sure it lines up with His Word, and the character and nature of God found in His Word. This means taking our “free will” choices and laying them down before God. Letting Him have the say in our lives. It is a surrendering of choice. A surrendering of will.

I had to make a choice when I first excepted Christ. At that time in our lives my husband and I were engaged. We had just gotten engaged but in a sexual relationship for a couple of years. It was my hunger and desire to know His endless love that I approached my fiance and told him, “if we are going to do this, we need to do it right. We do not need to have sex again until marriage.” I was prepared to walk away from him to walk closer to God. Thankfully, when I prayed for a husband those years ago, that is who he turned into. He honored me by saying yes, let us do this right together. We were abstinent for two years before we married.

When a person comes to this place in their life it represents having a true faith in God. Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Purpose is the motivation for all of God’s actions. Purpose is more important than plans. Purpose is more powerful than plans. Purpose proceeds plans. The only thing that motivates God is His purpose, not your plans. The word purpose means original intent, it also can be translated as will.

When we make decisions to do or not do, to go or not go, what is the intent of the heart? Is it to experience His endless love? Are we willing to show that to others? My plans and decisions cannot move God, I am moved my His purpose. Sometimes we get that backwards and we try to manipulate God. We even use some good religious speech that does not line up with His character and nature that can be found in His Word. Satan manipulates the Word of God to get his way. Check the intent of our hearts. Jesus was the ultimate example. Experience His full love today!

Marathon, not a race

Psalms 119:32 (AMP) I will run the way of Your commandments [with purpose], for You will give me a heart that is willing.

Last week I spent time with my mother at Panama City Beach, Florida. The beaches in the Gulf of Mexico have white sand. They have some of my favorite beaches. Gulf Shores, Alabama, being my top favorite. Panama City is where my mother, and sometimes my grandmother, would take us during the summers. The places we stayed growing up had an old Panama City feel, and the place we stayed at this time reminded me of my childhood. My grandmother would have celebrated her 80th birthday that week.

hile on the beach, where I spent most of the day, I read. I love the written word. I do not read fiction. I read books by authors like John Bevere, Lisa Bevere, Tommy Tinney, Joanne Weaver, Lysa Terkeurst, Joyce Meyer, Lisa Harper, Bob Goff….I have an extensive library. I not only read the revelation of others, but I also read the Bible for myself. Right now I am reading the Bible chronologically and I am about a third of the way through (I started about 120 days ago).

This verse above stood out to me. Sometimes we think that God will run the race for us. Have you ever heard this statement: “It’s a marathon, not a race”? When someone sets out to do a marathon, they have to train. When someone starts running, they cannot expect themselves to do a 5K the first day out. When we start to desire more of the things of God, we cannot expect to sit and pray for two hours, when we have never prayed more than at meal time (the same with reading).

How can I want to do this, you ask? Make a plan and execute it. This verse says do it with a purpose. If it is something we think we are “suppose” to do and don’t, then guilt will set it. Guilt is the biggest lie of the enemy when it comes to getting into a deeper relationship with our Father. It will cause us to run away from Him instead of drawing closer to Him.

So pick up that book study that has been calling you to grow deeper. Spend some intentional time in prayer. Turn off the television, You Tube or whatever you like to listen to to get your Word for the day and start reading it for yourself (good teaching should be a supplement to add to, not your be all). You might start out with a chapter a day…I did. The first time I read the Bible completely through was when I was forty (twenty two years after I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior). That was last year.

We are all at different levels of training for the marathon. Do not get distracted or feel guilty for not running as fast as others. Just keep running, He is the wind that is pushing you along. He will give you the heart that is willing!

You are gifted!

A year ago my husband was in a series called “Finishing the Race,” in this series he described the race we are in. The race is against time…time to complete what God has purposed for you to do on this earth.  Our purpose is Ministry. When I say ministry people automatically think that is pulpit ministry, evangelism or missions. Ministry is whatever helps further the kingdom message. The gift of knowing how to work a camera or do production for television can be used for ministry. The gift of getting a managing of finances is a vital ministry (lights and chairs are not free). I have taken from his notes to write this blog today. I thought it was important, as I put my hands to ministry this week. This week I noticed holes in what I was called to do. I noticed that there are those who are suppose to be linked up with us, that for whatever reason, are not. My prayer is that you see your importance. That ministry is bigger than one person, it takes a team to finish the race strong.

You were created for ministry. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” What are we created with an ability to do…”to do Good Works!”

Once we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, we also accept the responsibility of ministry. 2 Timothy 1:9 “It is He who saved us and chose us for his holy work, not because we deserved it but because that was his plan long before the world began.” Plain and simple a non-serving Christian is a contradiction.

Plain and simple a non-serving Christian is a contradiction.

We have been called into ministry. All of us have a purpose. Galatians 1:15, God, in his grace, chose me even before I was born, and called me to serve him. Ephesians 4:1, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 1 Peter 2:9-10, You have been chosen by God himself…God called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Every Christian, the moment you became a Christian, you were called into ministry.

We have been gifted for ministry. 1 Peter 4:10, God has given each of you some special abilities be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessing. This ability is to be used for Ministry purposes. Philippians 2:4, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Ministry Life does not revolve around self promotion, but rather promotes the development of others and their God given ability. If you succeed then I have succeeded.

If you succeed then I have succeeded.

I want to stop here an ponder on the wonderful Gift that Jesus left us especially during this time of year when we are so focused on giving/receiving gifts: John 14:15-31 (TPT) “Loving me empowers you to obey my commands. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Savior, the Holy Spirit of Truth, who will be to you a friend just like me—and he will never leave you. The world won’t receive him because they can’t see him or know him. But you will know him intimately, because he will make his home in you and will live inside you. I promise that I will never leave you helpless or abandon you as orphans—I will come back to you! Soon I will leave this world and they will see me no longer, but you will see me, because I will live again, and you will come alive too.  So when that day comes, you will know that I am living in the Father and that you are one with me, for I will be living in you.  Those who truly love me are those who obey my commands. Whoever passionately loves me will be passionately loved by my Father. And I will passionately love you in return and will manifest my life within you.”  Then one of the disciples named Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “Lord, why is it you will only reveal your identity to us and not to everyone?” Jesus replied, “Loving me empowers you to obey my word. And my Father will love you so deeply that we will come to you and make you our dwelling place.  But those who don’t love me will not obey my words. The Father did not send me to speak my own revelation, but the words of my Father.  I am telling you this while I am still with you.  But when the Father sends the Spirit of Holiness, the One like me who sets you free, he will teach you all things in my name. And he will inspire you to remember every word that I’ve told you.

There is so much that is available to us because of the Holy Spirit. The third part of the trinity that we should make ourselves familiar with. A spirit led life is more than a feeling, it is knowing where you are called to be, doing what you are called to do, with the people you are called to do it with. Galatians 5:25 (NIV) Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. There is always free will though.

Matthew 6:33 (GW) But first, be concerned about his kingdom and about his approval. The all these things will be provided for you. If this is what you want your legacy to be, then we have to leave the comfort of the smallness of what we think an impact our gift makes. There are churches, community ministries and world wide ministries with holes in them. They are getting by without you, but does not mean that they have to. Just think what an impact you would make with the gift that God gave you. I need leaders and helpers to complete the vision that God has given me for Connect Church.

In Acts, chapters 17 and 18, we see that Paul is doing ministry but he was waiting on someone. It tells us that he is waiting on Silas and Timothy. Their lack of presence did not cause him to stop ministry. Acts 18:5 (MSG) When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was able to give all his time to preaching and teaching, doing everything he could to persuade the Jews that Jesus was in fact God’s Messiah. Here I read this as, now that he had ministry partners, Paul is able to do what he was called to do. He was not successful every time, but he was doing what he was called to do, because those with him were doing what they were called to do.

You are gifted. You are needed. You are more than staying in your room wanting to see this world change for Him. You are being called out of your room, or like me off of my couch. Let us turn this world upside down for his kingdom!