You will recall in the January Family News, I gave a little glimpse into what I believe Father wants to use next to enhance and encourage our FMM family in their boot camp experiences. He started with the Renewing Our Minds series and the next two series will be Restoring Our Hearts and Rebuilding Our Relationships.
Experiences & Relationships
The Relationships section is what’s on my heart right now. But before I launch into the content, I feel it’s important to first share with you a little deeper glimpse into the topic and how it’s been birthed and grown within my own boot camp experience. It’s important first and foremost to reaffirm that the primary focus, the one and only bullseye that FMM has – is to draw everyone’s attention and allegiance to Yeshua Himself. He is the One who makes disciples for Himself; He is the One who builds His church; He is the One and only begotten Son of the Father and He alone is our Perfect Provision, Covenant Representative and Covenant Substitute.
And while that is ultimate Truth in the deepest sense of the word, it’s also true that as we humans live here in time and space, we are also influenced by our life’s experiences, by books we’ve read, people we’ve known, beliefs we’ve adopted. And the wonderful, awesome beauty of how our God redeems and restores us to our image and likeness destiny is that He uses every speck of those experiences and relationships in the process. So please know that whenever you may see a reference to a person or book or ministry, it’s never intended to offer an alternative source. The intent is to give God the glory for what He had imparted to them which impacted my life while recognizing and affirming their obedience to Him in the process.
My Testimony: Part Two
So in the introduction of this new series, I’d like to include a little more information from my spiritual ‘growing up’ years that led to this series… kind of a testimony, part two. From the beginning of my walk with the Lord, I was drawn in the areas of worship and intercession and I had many opportunities to participate in different prayer groups at various times. One of those prayer ministries was called Lydia Fellowship, originally started by prayer partners Sheila MacAlpine and Joy Dawson. The concept came from the Acts 16 account of Lydia:
And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” (Acts 16:13-15)
Learning About Intercession
The focus of Lydia Fellowship was to intercede for leadership in all realms – families, churches, people groups, nations. Our prayers were always Scripture based and Spirit inspired. We would spend time in Biblical meditation, then briefly share what the Holy Spirit had given each of us, and then pray it out. Through my involvement in Lydia, I was introduced to additional prayer resources that were available through The Father’s Business ministry. It was also prayer focused and Biblically centered and one of their many resources was a book written by Sylvia Gunter called Prayer Portions.
There was one particular Prayer Portion that impacted me deeply and which I used in a number of group settings. It was titled Who’s Right vs. What’s Right? and it’s message is a clear reminder of what God’s relational expectations are vs. how the world prioritizes the way in which we deal with conflicts.
Learning About Relationships
Then, during the years I worked in the office at a Christian school, I again gained new insights through the school’s policy of all staff members signing a “Character Covenant” – a promise made before God that we would deal with issues and with one another according to God’s Word and precepts. It was at that school too that I learned of another wonderful book published by YWAM (Youth With A Mission) titled Right Relationships – a Biblical Foundation for Making and Mending Relationships written by Tom Marshall.
Because these teachings have been woven into the fabric of my spirit, some of what will come forth in this series will be related to their life changing lessons. But, of course, our first and foundational source will be the Word of God. So let’s launch this series by looking at Yeshua’s prayer in John 17. Read the whole chapter to get the meat of His prayer for His disciples (including us!), but what I want to focus on here are verses 20-26:
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
“O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
Can you see how clearly His beautiful heart yearned for us to be one as He and the Father are one? Notice especially that tiny little word “as” and the depth of its meaning. Our oneness is to reflect the absolute, airtight, unshakable union that exists between God the Father and God the Son. Why? So that the world may know.
Making the Holy Spirit’s Presence Manifest
When we engage in relationships properly, according to our Father’s definition, the beauty of the reality of His Presence in us by the Holy Spirit becomes manifest! It is evident for all to see. And that’s what dispels the blinding lies that the enemy keeps using to prevent God’s beloved humans from seeing God (and themselves) in the Light of the awesome Truth and Reality with which He and His Kingdom truly operate.
Our relationships are designed by the Holy Spirit to reflect God’s heart and so one thing we must always remember along our journey of discipleship is this… “us vs. them” must no longer cloud our minds, thoughts and perceptions. His heart is for the WHOLE WORLD; He wants none to perish:
“The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, Amplified)
Surrender Your Heart!
So our first step in looking at relationships is to look inwardly, at our own hearts. Is there anything in us, that God is revealing to us which promotes or feeds that demonic ‘separation mentality’ – anything that would cause us to see other people (especially people who think or live differently than we do) as separate from, and/or inferior to, us? If so, we need to surrender it to the refining, purifying work of the Holy Spirit, so that He can dismantle and disintegrate it.
Like David before us, let’s ask our Heavenly Father to create in us a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within us. (See Psalm 51)
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children; and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV)
It is true for all of us disciples that as we walk in the Truth we have received, others catch it from us and they too begin to walk in it. And still others catch it from them and also pass it on. Then, as that contagious faith continues to be passed on, the Lord’s promise comes closer to intersecting time and space because we know He has promised that:
“The time is coming when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14 AMP)
Gladly serving Him with you,
Your sister, Nancy