Don’t Be An Unbeliever But A Believer

“Then He said to Thomas, Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”  John 20:27

Greetings fellow sojourners!

What if we were impelled to truly walk by God’s faith and not by mere common, frail, human sight What if we were driven by the priority intuition of the Spirit and not led by the ordinary revelation our senses and intellect provide?  Jesus did not unbraid or reproach Thomas for not believing the testimony that had been given him by his comrades but insightfully said, “Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”

Thomas desired to be led by the revelation of his senses and his own intellect regarding the disclosure of the Resurrection.  So by this same method, Jesus told Thomas to employ his sense of touch and sight to prove the testimony Thomas had heard about Him was true.  Jesus then said if we don’t need our senses to substantiate our faith then we are blessed.   Also, if we do not press forward in faith, we will not be pleasing to Him.  “But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him.”  (Hebrews 10:38)  Sweet things, we are to make our way by God’s faith, not by the appearance our senses reveal to us.  We live in the body (where our senses are useful) but we also live by the spirit (therefore, we walk by faith).

Jesus was addressing the general spiritual condition of Thomas. Thomas was in danger of passing from the state of a believer in Christ to that of an unbeliever. His demand for the evidence of his senses was a step backward, a depending on the less, not on the more, certain.  Jesus would have him retrace that step and become one who depends upon the powerful intuition of the Spirit.

Thomas was given the luxury of having his fleshly eyes bolster his faith when Jesus presented Himself to him but if we refuse to live by faith and not by sight we will surely miss what the Spirit will reveal.

Can you hear Jesus as if He were speaking the words to you right now? “Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”  Lay down your doubt and be a believer and not an unbeliever. If you err, decide to err on the side of faith, not insisting on witnessing the miraculous with your own fleshly eyes in order to allow your heart to be moved in awe.

 

In His grace,

Amanda

What Are You Filling Yourself With?

“She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle.”  Proverbs 31:27

Greetings all!  I hope you know you are ALL valued and immensely relevant to the cause of Christ.

I learned a valuable lesson today.  I pray that as we progress in our lifelong journey of becoming more and more like Christ we resolve to NEVER stop growing and knowing we must change if we want to be more like Him.  I witnessed an appalling behavior by someone which would have immediately turned me off, never desiring to say two words to them.  But I was shocked when the person then went out of their way to be helpful to us and I realized I was shutting myself off from ministering if I was going to continue to allow someone’s brashness to decide if I would engage with them or not.  Lord, help us to always see beyond our own point of view.

Let’s check out the verse above.  The word ‘idle’ here literally means ‘does not eat the bread of idleness’.

What I personally don’t care for much in the 2 Timothy 3:6 verse is when it describes how ungodly people will “worm their way into households and “capture idle women burdened down with sins, led along by a variety of passions.”  I so dislike the implications of this verse that I organized a prayer group meeting intent on beseeching the Lord to revive us to His purposes.  I pray we honor the Lord in such a way that He does just that…REVIVE us.  Help us, Lord, to see YOUR point of view, Your will, Your heart.

The word ‘passions’ in 2 Timothy means, ‘desires, craving, longing, or lust’.  If we allow these ‘passions’ to lead us we can expect to be corrupted and polluted by them.  But there is help.  The divine nature equips us to escape this corruption (2 Peter 1:4) and the desires of the flesh that pollute (2 Peter 2:10).  If we wish to progress further with the Lord we must not possess this sort of folly (2 Timothy 3:9).

We are even warned about the iniquity of Sodom which was pride, their fullness with bread, and their abundance of idleness (Ezekiel 16:49).  And 2 Thessalonians 3:6 tells us to keep away from those who are idle and disruptive and not live according to the Word.

There is good news.  We will fill ourselves with something so instead of foolishly filling ourselves with the ‘bread of idleness’ we unreservedly can fill ourselves with the bread of life (John 6:22, 35, 48).

We absolutely can be people devoted to God’s purposes in the earth as opposed to being devoted to momentary folly which has no eternal purpose.  Help me Lord to not be burdened down with sin, led along by passions outside of Your will for my life, and filled with my own opinions which can hinder me from Your purposes.

In His grace,

Amanda

Confidence in God’s Readiness to Reveal His Will

Greetings fellow sojourners!  Would you agree there are countless things in this life we daily put our confidence in? We believe we can rely on our homes to be constantly furnished with electricity, our grocery stores to be well stocked, our supply of water to never run dry, our cars to effortlessly start each day, our employers to still need and value us, our health to maintain, our loved ones to always be around, our decisions to turn out right, the list can be quite lengthy.  And most likely the most gargantuan thing we put our faith in is the all-consuming self.

When these ‘comforts’ we put our confidence in fail us, we get agitated, restless and maybe even panic.  If we trust in anything else but God it will prove to be fragile, like a spider’s web.  If we lean on the web it will not stand firm.  If we grab it, it will not hold up.” (Job 8:14-15)  Be confident in the Lord alone.  You can lean and grab on to Him as His foundation is absolutely firm.

When we move outside our daily routine and into the more complexities of life we often wonder what God’s will is in our complicated situations.  I am so thankful the Word instructs us we can be confident God is ready to reveal His will to us!  Are you faithfully seeking His will in your difficult circumstances?  Are you praying, submitting, and humbling your soul to Him?  He is faithful to His word so don’t hesitate to fill your mind with His truth.  This is what He tells us:

“The Lord is good and upright; therefore He shows sinners the way.  He leads the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.”  Psalms 25:8-9

“I will praise the Lord who counsels me — even at night my conscience instructs me.”  Psalms 16:7

“Who is the man who fears the Lord?  He will show him the way he should choose.  The secret counsel of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them.”  Psalms 25:12, 14

“This God, our God forever and ever — He will always lead us.”  Psalms 48:14

“Yet I am always with You; You hold my right hand.  You guide me with Your counsel.”  Psalms 73:23-24a

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“For your people will live on Zion in Jerusalem and will never cry again. He will show favor to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears, He will answer you. The Lord will give you meager bread and water during oppression, but your Teacher will not hide Himself any longer. Your eyes will see your Teacher, and whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:19-21

“This is what the Lord says:  The wise man must not boast in his wisdom; the strong man must not boast in his strength; the wealthy man must not boast in his wealth.  But the one who boasts should boast in this, that he understands and knows Me — that I am Yahweh, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things. This is the Lord’s declaration.”  Jeremiah 9:23-24

Let’s remember that above all else He desires for us to focus on our love for Him rather than on tasks we do on His behalf.  If His will is not clearly discernable, perhaps He is seeking the transformation of your mind and in doing so, it may require that your path is not so easily discerned.  Our love for Jesus will show in the decisions we make.  We will increasingly love what he loves and we will be transformed by renewed minds.

Lord, may YOUR instruction and love escort me.  I desire to meet the conditions in Your word, help me to do so.  You promise to lead, teach, counsel, reveal, and guide me.  In You alone, I will put my confidence.  You alone are my stable foundation that WILL NOT BE MOVED for all else is shaky ground.  Help me to see that when I become agitated or fearful it is because I have put my confidence in things outside of You.  I seek Your will that is revealed in Your word and am confident You are ready to reveal it because You help your people in Your sovereignty.  I wait for you Lord.  My affections are on You.

In His grace,

Amanda

The Marvel of the Cross is Enough

Paul said he was sent “to evangelize — not with clever words, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied of its effect.”  (1 Corinthians 1:17) “When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom.  For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”   1 Corinthians 2:1-2

Greetings fellow sojourner!  Have you ever considered the powerful simplicity of the Gospel message?

I understand the desire to make speech interesting to the point of capturing the audience or reader’s attention so they remain engrossed.  I am not attempting to suggest we remove expressiveness from our speech; even the Bible uses poetry.  What I am wondering is whether we feel compelled to speak in a way that makes the gospel message interesting to people instead of just speaking of Christ and Him crucified?

We are told in 2 Timothy 4:3 that people’s ear will itch to hear something new.  This verse is primarily addressing false teaching but it also applies to people and their need to be entertained by hearing exciting new things rather than by directing themselves to the renewing of their mind based on the truth Scripture holds.

I am thankful for talented people gifted with a command of language.  Individually, let’s ensure we are always checking ourselves to make certain our heart is not seeking or requiring clever speech to entertain us instead of loving the gospel message in its clear and straightforward presentation.  The marvel of the Cross is sufficient.

The message of the Cross has the power in and of itself to transform and convict any single person who hears it’s good news.  An individual will receive what God has to offer whether it is delivered by an eloquent orator or by someone simply reading straight from the Word because not a single person has the power to convict and change a heart.  That transformation can only be done by Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

We must not let our mind tell us something is only worth our time if it has the power to entertain.  We are not only believing a lie but we are also sending a message to those teaching us the Word that they must entertain us with their approach.  Lord, help us to not be like the Corinthians in this way.

In His grace,

Amanda

We Speak of the Excellencies of Christ from A Heart that Overflows

“A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”  Luke 6:45

Friends, if we want to live the Christian life well it will not be done on accident.  We will not happen into it and we must always be on our guard.  One of the ways to accomplish this is to possess a heart that desires to be filled daily to overflowing by the Spirit of God.  We must be intentional about wanting it and we must be intentional about clearing out the stuff that does not belong so that we can be totally filled, edge to edge, with HIS goodness.

Do you repeatedly consider what is stored in your heart and what you allow to fill your heart?  God sows seeds into our heart and He causes the seed to multiply (2 Corinthians 9:10) but we must go to Him and seek the filling.  When we are infused to overflowing with the power of the Spirit these are the times we will be willing to speak boldly of our testimony as well as the excellencies of Christ.  The times we are hesitant to speak boldly or pray boldly are most likely the times we have not been filled to the overflowing.  We still may be willing to speak, but the boldness, excitement, and pure unending joy seems to be absent.  Have you noticed these differences in your own life?

I love how the word ‘speak’ in the Luke verse means to preach, tell, or utter.  Beloved, we are meant to preach of the excellencies of Christ from a heart that is overflowing with His grace, joy, and peace that we receive from His Spirit!

Here are some examples of the some of the ways the Spirit of God causes us to overflow.  God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so you may excel in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8) and we will always excel knowing our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).  The Holy Spirit fills us with joy and peace so that we overflow with hope (Romans 15:13).  He also causes us to increase and overflow with love for one another (1 Thessalonians 3:12).  Thank you, Lord.  Help us have a heart that eagerly seeks to be filled by You to overflowing so that we may speak from THIS overflow for the encouragement of others and of the testimony of Your great grace!

Excellencies of Christ

Lord, assist us to daily think about the Person and excellencies of Jesus Christ.  These excellent things are:  Jesus taking on human nature, his earthly life, his sacrificial death, his exaltation in heaven, and his final subduing of all evil when he returns to earth in glory.  We seek you Lord and ask for Your filling to overflowing so that our mouth speaks of Your goodness!

In His grace,

Amanda

Smoke Screens (revisited)

“For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”           Ephesians 6:12

Greetings fellow sojourners loved by the Most High God!

Satan is deceptive and most likely savors it when we mistakingly turn our authentic spiritual battles towards flesh and blood.  Think of it as a smoke screen created to confuse us regarding the authentic reason why our situations are occurring.

According to the US Department of Defense, a smoke screen is “a cloud of smoke used to conceal ground maneuver, obstacle breaching, recovery operations, and amphibious assault operations as well as key assembly areas, supply routes, and logistic facilities.”  It is a ruse designed to disguise someone’s real intentions or activities.

This definition also interestingly describes many tactics our enemy employs in his spiritual warfare. Can you think how the enemy uses smoke screens in your circumstances to confuse you?  Can you imagine since he desires to conceal his maneuvers from your line of sight he could also vary the denseness of the smoke screen?   Satan is incredibly adept at employing the smoke screen of deceit, hoping for our destruction.  Sometimes his smoke screen is not so obvious but seems to be more of a general haze meant to cause us to question ourselves or be confused.  Sweet things, if you find yourself repeatedly confused about a situation your first thought ought to be, “Is this a spiritual warfare issue?”  Know that Satan’s smoke screens are always intended to confuse you, belittle you, minimize you, and conceal God’s truth.  KNOW the tactics of your adversary.

Jesus Christ of Nazareth dissipated Satan’s smoke screen with the Word when Satan tried to twist the truth of God (Luke 4:1-13).  Allow the Spirit of Truth to guide you (John 16:13), and the truth of the Word to sanctify you (John 17:17) in order to dissipate Satan’s smoke screens.

We are deceived if we think our real battle is maintaining ourselves, our status quo, or manipulating situations in order to achieve OUR desired outcome.  It is only a smoke screen.  If we think it is an impossible relationship we are battling when really it is our lack of forgiveness, pride, jealousy, or sloppy appraisal of self-worth, it is only a smoke screen created by the enemy to confuse us.  Clarity comes when we maintain a tenacity towards trusting Jesus as well as maintaining an unrelenting faithfulness in Him.

Are there any smoke screens in your life you have been putting up with far too long?  Allow the brilliant light of God to break through the smoke screen of lies that seep up through the pit of hell and tolerate it no longer.

In His grace,

Amanda

Jesus Christ And A Borrowed Donkey

“Look, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”  Matthew 21:5

Yes, our King Himself came into Jerusalem riding on the back of a borrowed donkey.  Truth be told the donkey was His anyway by the very fact that He was conspicuously involved in the creation of all things and all things belong to Him.  Thank you, Jesus.  The NLT’s wording describes it this way, “Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey.”  Yes, he came into Jerusalem and as sure as the sun rises He is coming back again but this time riding on a horse and to retrieve His own.

Zion’s King had a meekness and outward poverty when he made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He, who owns all things shunned covetousness and ambition and even the pride of life to demonstrate, “One’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions”  (Luke 12:15).  Instead, we find the abundant life IN HIM (John 10:10).  I saw a sticker on a car the other day that intrigued me.   It said, “You are not what you own.”  Greed motivating us to seek after things to own in this life will end up owning us in one way or another.  But if we seek to own the truths of the excellencies of Christ in our heart we will have owned love, the greatest of things that will remain forever.

The disciples borrowed the donkey with the owner’s consent and brought it to Jesus.  Are you willing to allow your possessions to be used for the cause of Christ?  Let’s not cling to the things of this world and be unwilling to part with them if they serve Christ.  The only thing we should be clinging to with the tight fist of hope is the love of the Lord for there we will surely find the Greatest of treasures.

In His grace,

Amanda

Jesus Is Our Hope

“Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds because of your evil actions. But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him — if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard.”  Colossians 1:21-23a

Greetings fellow sojourners!  Do you know Jesus to be your only hope?  Yes, we casually speak of putting our hope in less significant things such as hoping for a phone call or hoping for a sunny day but any kind of significant hope we hold that is placed in anything other than Jesus is misplaced hope.

We have known the Lord as both helper and deliverer.  When we place our hope in Him we are expecting to see the Lord’s magnificent power surface yet again in our hour of great need.   Our hope is rooted in Him because we know His character is THE reason we have hope.  There is a great chasm that exists between optimism that instructs us that our circumstances will surely improve with the passage of time and possessing hope that convinces us that the character of God alone gives us reason to place our hope in His covenant faithfulness.

It is interesting to see the Hebrew word translated ‘hope’ is at times translated ‘wait’.  As we know, if we are hoping for something it is because God’s promised outcome has not yet arrived and there apparently will be some passage of time before it does arrive.  Here is the key.  While we place our hope in the Lord during our waiting, it is Him we are waiting on and not the actual outcome itself.  Hope in an outcome becomes misplaced hope.  Always during the waiting, we wait on the Lord, look for Him, and place our hope only in Him.  Indeed, we may be relieved when we observe the outcome with our eyes of flesh but our hope never shifts from the Lord.

Highly regarded ones, Jesus is our hope when we are burdened.  He is our hope in our weaknesses. He is our hope when our senses attempt to reveal there is no hope.  He is our hope in our strained relationships.  He is our hope in our conflicts.  He is our hope for new opportunities.  He is our hope in all seasons!  We have courage in Him to do anything we are called to do because He IS our hope.

Rise up friends and rejoice in hope (Romans 12:12a)!  Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are the God of Hope and you fill us with all joy and peace as we believe in You!  Fill us to overflowing with Your hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (based on Romans 15:13)

Happy Easter!

“Make mute the stones this day, Church! Shout hosannas and wave palm branches. Let there be no doubt to all who hear, we have a King. One crucified for our sins, raised from the dead, triumphant over hell and grave, seated at God’s own right hand. And He will again come riding in.” Beth Moore

Friends I love, love, love this comment. NOW is the time to lay aside our petty disagreements, our disappointments, our frustrations, our fears, our strivings, our surging emotions, and our misplaced hopes and instead open our mouths and raise our hands in praise and rejoicing!  

In His grace,

Amanda

Take Responsibility for Your Sin and Embrace Your Acceptance

“The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he looked despondent.  Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”  Genesis 4:4b-7

The Lord asked Cain why he was furious.  And why did he look despondent?  He asked not because He was unaware of Cain’s wrath and resentment but because the question posed was intended to stir Cain’s awareness of his sin (which was the cause of God’s rejection of the sacrifice) and to stir his desire for repentance.  No one else was to blame for Cain’s conduct.  It was Cain’s responsibility alone for regulating his own demeanor.  In neglecting to do so, he not only missed the opportunity for his sacrifice to be accepted by God but his untamed wrath and the resentment in his heart led to the physical act of murder.

Cain expected God to accept his sacrifice because pride was at full work in him.   When God did not regard his sacrifice, the initial response in Cain was not to question himself but to be furious with God.  The condition of the heart is of paramount importance to God and still holds true today.  Jesus tells us the stirrings of our heart toward others must be in line with the Word before we offer our sacrifice to Him (Matthew 5:24).

When Cain’s offering was not accepted he became full of intense anger which fueled the brutality in his heart.  The Lord warned Cain of sin’s presence which bides its time waiting for an opportunity. Therefore, we must ‘rule over’ sin by doing what we know to be right or evil passions will take advantage of our slack.  We are obligated to take authority over our thoughts and emotions and resist the lies of the enemy (John 8:44) as sin always begins with a lie.

Cain had the opportunity, as we do daily, to resist sin and receive the blessing, or give in to sin and be devoured.   We have no need for despondency in life as our hope is in the Lord.  If we do what is right we will be accepted.  Let’s keep in mind that doing what is right does not mean being perfect.  Just like God gave Cain an opportunity to repent when we make an error we also are given the opportunity to repent.  The problem arises when we know the right thing to do but refuse to do it.

We must realize we are deeply loved by God and He knows our frailties.  He knows what tempts us as He is the God who sees (Genesis 16:13).  Allow this truth to flood your heart, “We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:7)  Even though he sees our trespasses the richness of His forgiving grace is lavished upon us.  What an amazing demonstration of love towards us.

Thank you, Lord, for Your Spirit that guides and counsels me in the truth.  Thank you for your gift of love and repentance that allows restored fellowship.  Help me Lord to see my sin and take responsibility for it so that I may receive your full acceptance and lavishing grace.

In His grace,

Amanda

Satan’s Tactics

Greetings fellow sojourners!

Let’s consider this quote, “One of the most sobering facts about life is that all humans have a supernatural enemy whose aim is to use pain and pleasure to make us blind, stupid, and miserable.”  (Piper)  Below are some scriptural examples of this statement.  If you look closely at the Scripture, you will even find the remedy.

Blind ~ “The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:4

Stupid ~ “But a stupid man will gain understanding as soon as a wild donkey is born a man!”  Job 11:12.  Well, that is direct.  But here is the rest.  “As for you, if you redirect your heart and lift up your hands to Him in prayer — if there is iniquity in your hand, remove it, and don’t allow injustice to dwell in your tents — then you will hold your head high, free from fault. You will be firmly established and unafraid.”  Job 11:13-15

Miserable ~ “All the days of the oppressed are miserable, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.”  Proverbs 15:15

Here’s the good news.  None of Satan’s tactics are hidden from God; he is not that clever.  As a matter of fact, the Bible warns us of Satan’s tactics so that we will know his playbook in advance; therefore, they are also exposed to us.  Shame on us if we do not get into the Word so his tactics are made clear to us!  We have no excuse.

Secondly, James 4:7 tell us if we “Resist the devil, he will flee from you”.  It is conditional.  You resist…he flees.  God backs up His word.  If you resist the devil, he WILL flee from you.  Are you resisting his tactics?

Thirdly, prayer is vital.  Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”  Prayer will put us on the offense.  It will strengthen and refresh our mind and heart.  If during prayer you are prompted to repent take the opportunity God is giving you.  It is a powerful tool.

You are a blessing.

In His grace,

Amanda