Knives Out

Greetings fellow sojourners! Perhaps you have heard the ‘knives out’ phrase recently. It refers to people who blame or punish someone unjustly, deliberately causing them problems. Families are a wonderful blessing of God, but like people, they tend to be less than perfect, and some can be worse than others. In 2 Samuel Joab created some family chaos when he choose not to see God’s sovereignty in his circumstances but instead looked to his dark jealousy resulting in him bringing out a sharp knife to revenge his offended heart. In all our disputes, it is far better to bring peace, not a sword into our relationships. To do this will require complete trust in God’s sovereignty in every area of our life ~ even and especially the part that seems most out of control.

Image result for image of gods sovereignty

Absalom had appointed Amasa over the army in place of Joab. Amasa was the son of Jether, an Ishmaelite who had married Abigail, the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah the mother of Joab.

2 Samuel 17:25

When Absalom conquered Jerusalem and Abigail’s son, Amasa, became commander of the rebel army, his mother may have rejoiced that he’d gained such a grand position. But before long, Abigail would have understood the turmoil and danger that faced her child. Because soon, rebellious Absalom was dead, and her son was labeled a traitor to King David.

Then, in a peacemaking twist, King David offered Amasa the position of commander of his army, setting aside Joab, Abigail’s nephew, who had that job. Again, Abigail must have been on top of the world and relieved that her child was both safe and trusted by the king.

But what a family feud David’s decision started! Jealous Joab responded by killing his new commander with a single stab of his knife. A situation that seemed so promising instantly turned to tragedy. Believer, instead of having our knives out, let’s allow God full access to search our hearts in order to reveal anything there that is prone to offense. Any heart stoked by an offensive ‘sword’ that has not first had the Spirit of God bring it deliverance, will retaliate. Lord, search my heart and know me. If there is any offensive way in me, reveal it to me so that I may yield it to Your healing. I desire everything in my heart to be transformed by the power of your love.

In His grace,

Amanda

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The Cup of Thanksgiving

How can I repay the Lord for all the good He has done for me? I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of Yahweh. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people.

Psalm 116:12-14

It is infinitely better to spend our time, either when alone or when gathered with others, praising the excellencies and faithfulness of God rather than harping on man’s greatness. How can I repay the Lord for all the good He has done for me? The Lord has caused countless mercies to come to us that we should always look and see what can be done to manifest our gratitude. We often praise God for what can be seen, but what about searching with divine inspiration to pursue various ways we can render fresh praises to God. Each of us should have our own exceptional way of expressing gratitude. The Lord gives each one of us a particular benefit, so we should each be asking, “How can I repay?” What sort of service would be most becoming in me?

Image result for image of psalm 116:13

The Psalmist answer to the question is, “I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of Yahweh.” He will express blessings, thanksgivings, and prayers, and then drink the cup the Lord had filled with his saving grace. It is ours by faith to take and make our own and then with joyful hearts, to magnify the gracious One who has filled it. Drink and be refreshed. We can do this figuratively every time we partake of communion, and we can do it spiritually every time we grasp the promises of the covenant and receive those divine promises into our soul.

Take a long pause Believer and receive with thanksgiving, the great and precious promises given you by God through Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Allow the promises to refresh and revive you and share your thankfulness towards God when you gather with others.

In His grace,

Amanda

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The Strength of Hope

Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God. I am deeply depressed; therefore I remember You…

Psalm 42:5,6

Sorrow here is put to the question. “Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me?” The words imply that God’s people have the habit of pressing down their own souls. That by our own sin, turmoil roars within us and tosses us around. This pressing down of our soul and the resulting turmoil creates more trouble for ourselves than the devil tempts us to.

We should always be quick to consider how much of God’s providence is in our affliction. Why are we downcast if we know that the Father is aware of our difficulty and would have stopped its course had it not been best for us? Like David, we shall not murmur as if God has treated us wrongly. The wisdom of His providence is always acting on our behalf. Oh Lord that we may be strengthened and comforted to bear with you and not be guilty of casting down our soul and allowing turmoil to reign within us as if we had no hope.

Resolve for the anchor of your soul to search for the present fruit in your trouble, however small you imagine the fruit to be, so that you may praise Him even in your painful experiences. When we allow our soul to become despondent, we make it disquieted, and thus, we are unable to praise. When the anchor of our soul is hope in God, this hope will unbridle us from the heavy yoke of anxiety and worry. Hope in the Lord is an expectation founded on faith in God and leads the soul to wait for him. The expectant soul does not cast itself down but hopes for the goodness of the Lord to be revealed!

Is He not called the Mighty Physician? Does He not identify and evacuate the diseases of our soul and yet at the same time, offer His comfort and strength? If we were to ask ourselves, “Why, poor heart, are you so depressed and disquieted?” Would we not respond with, “My distress and sadness springs from my unbelief?” Come Mighty Physician and remove what does not belong in my heart! I know my human condition is inclined to be impatient and haunted with a discontented soul when affliction remains upon me. Lord, I desire to not disquiet my soul from trusting in you, but instead, I am determined to silence my inner turmoil. I need Your help. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that guides me into all truth and teaches me how to put to death my carnal inclinations that do not align with You.

In His grace,

Amanda

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We Know…

We know that all things work together for good to those who love God.

Romans 8:28

Perhaps from the habit of familiarity, we frequently emphasize the second portion of this verse, “all things work together for good for those who love God” without reflecting upon the equally important first two words, “we know.” I have become accustomed to hearing the verse quoted with the first two words left off, but it is essential that we not only say them but that we believe that we know! Can you agree with confidence that you “know” all things work together for good to those who love God? If you emphasize the “you know,” when you speak the sentence, it will be a faith builder to yourself and to those who hear.

If you can confidently say that you know all things work together for the good of those who love God, then you would agree that God ordains the circumstances of a believer’s life. We may or may not understand the events when they surface, but we must not attempt to control or wish them away because we know that by God’s providence, he has brought them to us for his divine purposes. And, we know the Spirit is aware of our circumstances, and He brings comfort to us because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:27). “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us” (Romans 8:26), and without His assistance, we might be too weak to endure, but the Spirit helps and strengthens our weakness by inspiring our prayers. What a blessing!

“Though He slays me, yet will I trust in Him.”

Job 13:15

When Satan is defeated, then shall the battle cease (Spurgeon). Believer, when we allow ourselves to accept the providence of God in our lives as well as other’s lives, we will submit to his providence, not desiring to become our own or someone else’s providence. When you have submitted your circumstances to God and have aligned your will and prayers to His government, Satan is defeated, and the battle within you will cease. I trust you, Lord! Teach me through all of my troublesome and painful circumstances, for I know the overarching aim in all of your providence is love.

In His grace,

Amanda

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Transformed

There is nothing like the absolute radiant beauty of Jesus Christ. When Jesus transformed on the mountain in front of Peter, James, and John, his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. We also become transformed in front of those around us, as a result of completely different thinking, when we come into agreement with the renewing Word of God. Also, as a result of the covenant, all believers have unveiled glory (regeneration, justification, and sanctification) and in the future will receive a heavenly glorification. The bottom line of these verses? Transformation brings noticeable change. Your transformation is expected to be noticed by those around you. Desire to always be transformed more and more into His image and less and less of your own. Ask Him for it. Allow Him to be on display in your life. Make Him known to those around you. Be radiantly transformed.

He was transformed in front of them, and His face shone like the sun. Even His clothes became as white as the light.

Matthew 17:2

After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up on a high mountain by themselves to be alone. He was transformed in front of them, and His clothes became dazzling — extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them.

Mark 9:2

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:2

We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 2:18

The Spirit of the Lord will control you, you will prophesy with them, and you will be transformed into a different person.

1 Samuel 10:6

Food may come from the earth, but below the surface the earth is transformed as by fire.

Job 28:5

Job was describing the mining processes in this verse. In some of the mining processes, fire was used whereby material was detached from the earth and made to yield their treasures of beautiful stones. In our own lives, fiery trials will be the tool that reveals God’s most precious treasures He has implanted in us. When we realize the stunning, all-surpassing pearl within us and its power to transform us through our most difficult and painful experiences, we become transfigured and those with eyes to see behold the brilliance of God. Thank you, Lord for your transforming Word and the gift of Your Spirit.

In his grace,

Amanda

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Christian Ethics

Transformed thinking. We will not make any progress towards this mighty thing called Christian ethics without transformed thoughts. The moral standards listed below can only be achieved by the transforming effect of a renewed mind (Romans 12:2), which is holy and pleasing to God. We are exhorted to think sensibly and therefore act sensibly. It is not ourselves we represent nor even defend, but Jesus Christ of Nazareth. How will we live our lives so that we make Him known? We allow ourselves to be trained by His moral code for one thing. His Word is efficacious. Read through these commands, inviting the Spirit to teach you what obedience toward these goals will look like in your life and then be in agreement. Let’s mold our lives toward these ends with joyful anticipation of making Him known. You can do it.

Love must be without hypocrisy. 

Detest evil; cling to what is good. 

Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. 

Outdo one another in showing honor. 

Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. 

Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. 

Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. 

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 

Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 

Be in agreement with one another. 

Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. 

Do not be wise in your own estimation. 

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.

Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes.

If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. 

Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath.  For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord.  But if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.

Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)

Thank you, Lord, for Your Spirit that leads, counsels, and teaches me in all truth. I desire to meditate on Your word and be transformed. Amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

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Get Behind Me, Satan

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my way, because these thoughts of yours don’t come from God, but from human nature. Matthew 16:23

The Rock

Jesus turned, most likely confronting Peter face to face. A few moments earlier, Jesus had called him a rock upon which He would build His church. Now he calls Peter a different kind of “rock,” a “stumbling block” or an “obstacle.” Satan’s method offered Jesus kingship without suffering (Matthew 4:8-10), now Jesus finds Peter speaking the same way.

Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus told him, “Get behind me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.”

Matthew 4:8-10

Jesus recognized the unholy source behind Peter’s temptation. The notion of a suffering Messiah was misunderstood by Peter so that he became a stumbling block to Jesus (Expositors Bible Commentary). Peter did not have in mind God’s thoughts but thoughts originating from the human nature. The sort of beliefs that persistently desire not to have suffering in mind. Peter did not, however, have exclusively human thoughts. He also had God’s divine thoughts because revelation was given to him (Matthew 16:13-17). Here, however, he has switched sides, aligning himself not only with men but with Satan.

He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven.

Matthew 16:13, 15-17

Application

Peter’s quick change in allegiance is a persuasive learning lesson for us. Peter indeed had God’s thoughts in his mind and God’s desires in his heart when Jesus asked him, “Who do you say I am?” but as soon as another opportunity presented itself to apply this divinely revealed truth, he instead reverted to his old human nature. Rather than allowing the Spirit to continue to reveal wisdom and knowledge to him, he yielded to his carnal nature and rebuked Jesus, creating a stumbling block for Him.

The Armor

Jesus rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind me, Satan.” Things that do not bring God glory and are against His purposes are to be put behind us. They are to be put out of our sight so that our vision is faith, not doubt. Fears that tempt us to opt for self-preservation and that violate God’s commands are stumbling blocks in our lives and the lives of others. Carnal obstacles laid before God’s will, work, and glory must intentionally ‘be put behind us’ so that the provoking snare of carnality and its temptations do not prevail.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 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. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

Ephesians 6:11-13

The armor of God enables us to put all of our human nature ‘behind us’ and to stand in full assurance of who we are IN Christ. The pride of our hearts must be brought low and put behind us as well as any of the world’s and Satan’s temptations. Satan desires to hinder the redemption of mankind and to give deadly advice regarding our abilities and worth. We are to make no agreements with his will, work, or any of his unholy ways. Carnal advice that says we are to favor ourselves over God will, work, and glory is to ‘get behind us.’ We are instructed that if we are to follow Christ, we are to deny ourselves (Romans 12:1); therefore, we are to renounce our own will and substitute it for the will of God. If we are not standing on guard, pride and self-confidence will slither its way into our hearts as soon as we make agreements with the lies of the world and with Satan.

Thank you, Lord, for bringing us into your truth. Help us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. I desire to meditate on Your word and to be taught by the Spirit You sent to help me. I am eager to take my failures, my fears, and anything else that has the audacity to hiss about my unworthiness and put them behind me. I take my stand in the fullness of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. HE is altogether worthy. Amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

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Job’s Hymn to Wisdom

Where can wisdom be found, and where is understanding located? Job 28:12

Job describes man’s skill in digging for precious metals and jewels. Yet in all his drilling ability, he has been unable to unearth true wisdom. Earthly wisdom consists of envy and selfish ambition, which produces disorder and every kind of evil (James 3:15, 16). God is the giver of the wisdom believer’s seek. It is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy (James 3:17).

Nowadays, we have skills in ‘digging’ for distractions. To be relatable in the current culture, almost everyone seems to need a smartphone. As a result, the amount of distractions available is mind-boggling. My daughter mentioned she felt there had already been so much dazzle experienced on smartphones that now the electronic fascination is shifting to vehicles. If you have watched car ads these days, her opinion is probably right. We recently needed repairs done on one of our cars, so we were supplied with a 2019 rental. The car had so many electronic gadgets we could hardly keep our fingers still. Reflecting on it, I can see what a draw electronics are and how much of our time is spent learning, talking, playing, and even discussing their abilities. The tools can certainly be helpful, but it will take tremendous resolve to keep them in their place. Lord, we need your help to not be caught by the glittering lure of distraction. We desire Your pure wisdom and understanding.

A friend of mine shared a quote someone made regarding how they felt a satanic lullaby was lulling the American church, and she could feel herself being put to sleep. I thought about this as I was getting out of that decked out rental car and realized how easily that has become the American reality. We must work at it if we intend not to be lulled into an electronic slumber. Living in this cocooning technological age will require a persistent resolve on our part to keep it in check if we desire to not sit idly by as our spiritual health declines because of the gluttany of distraction.

Let’s not forget marketing’s impact in its attempt to suggest worldly wisdom and understanding. My daughter and I found a program we enjoy watching from the ’50s called, What’s My Line. The commercial that runs during the program describes a product based on what it does (even though it is still quite humorous), not the emotion it supposedly produces if you use it as we see in our current commercials. Lord, we desire Your wisdom and understanding so we can discern when the world’s objects are molding our emotions. I understand why the person holds the opinion that Americans are being lulled into a spiritual slumber. We allow our emotions to be treated like marionettes and accept our smartphone as our new buddy. Where are these things considered our primary source of wisdom and understanding these days?

Job’s illustration indicated that true wisdom and understanding will not be found by human science or mere investigation. Man has shown his skill and wisdom by penetrating the earth, cutting through rocks, closing up gushing fountains, and locating treasures that had been buried for generations. Yet all this did not enable him to fully explain the operations of the divine government. Even today, true wisdom and understanding will be found in the Word of God so we must put our energies toward this endeavor.

Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Romans 12:11

Let’s be fully aware that unless we are diligent in seeking after the things of God, we will be lulled to sleep by the dazzling components of this electronic age, all the while becoming weaker in spirit and service. Let’s shake ourselves from any spiritual slumber so we can also awaken others. Help us, Lord, to not lack diligence. Help us Lord to be fervent in spirit for we desire Your wisdom and understanding. Amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

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Crisis of Identity

The Enemy’s aim? Stealing…Killing…and Destroying John 10:10

Beloved, you ARE who God says you are. Your spiritual identity is not diminished by the power of your circumstances, your past behavior, or your rank in the world. Agree with the Word of God and make NO agreements with the enemy, the world, or your carnal inclinations when they deviate from His proclaimed and magnificent truth.

Have we become so influenced by the world that we are now suffering from an identity crisis? If we do not know who we are IN Christ and primarily seek worldly objectives during our private life, then when we gather together we will not harmonize as well with each other because while apart we were striving for different goals. Recently, the evangelist Angus Buchan spoke about revival and how it must begin within the hearts of each individual. The Lord initiates revival; therefore it will always be according to His purposes and His timing. However, we can choose to participate with His purposes by making certain our heart is in full agreement with his Word of truth in every way we know possible. Do you read the Word and verbally agree with what it has to say, especially about your identity in Him?

As believers, we must not seek after carnal inclinations and worldly uncertainties because they are our primary focal point and leave God’s promises in the periphery. Instead, we want to powerfully come together in the harmony of one accord, because our individual pursuits have been primarily focused on striving for the faith of the gospel. Standing firm in our identity in Christ and striving side by side for the faith of the gospel will make us even stronger as a unified church and we will be able to stand firm in the face of opposition.

If we do not stand confident in who were are in Christ, then we will fall for worldly alternatives. We will wander aimlessly through valleys as if we had no direction, searching for answers from the world and ignoring the Book that holds the answers. Confusion will encamp around us relentlessly offering remedial advice to prop up self, not seeing the self-prop is a snare. The problem with this wandering is there is no direction. With no direction, there will be no goals, and with no goals, there are no victories.

If the enemy’s objective is to cause an identity crisis among God’s created people, one way he can do that is by stealing the promises of God from us, killing our resolve to stand firm, and destroying our love, joy, and peace we have in the Lord. However, NONE of this can happen unless we allow it. It is our responsibility to guard these things as the treasure they are. Let’s be confident of who we are IN Christ and make this our living reality so that when we gather together we stand even stronger than when we stand alone. Amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

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Longing for Eternal Things

Indeed, we groan in this body, desiring to put on our dwelling from heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:2

Perhaps most days, the majority of us take our health for granted. Similar to the sun, we expect health to continually make its daily appearance. We are thankful for both, but one, as well as the other, can be easily presumed.

I am thankful that I am rarely sick, but when I do get sick, it always reminds me of how grateful I am for health. During sick days I frequently tell the Lord how grateful I am for my past health and how I regret the days I took it for granted.

One day while sick I was reading and paused to agree with 2 Corinthians 5:2. We indeed groan in this body while we are ill and long for the days of health! I sensed the Holy Spirit prompting me that the ‘groaning’ went beyond what my mere memory could recollect concerning past feelings of health; it was indeed much more profound. I agreed with God’s Spirit that the ‘groaning’ was not just for the return of my health as I could remember it, but for the perfect restoration I would receive at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The real ‘groaning’ was not for the return of imperfect health but for a magnificent perfect health. My spirit longed to “put on the dwelling from heaven.” Oh, how we limit our thinking when we think only of what our senses reveal to us as truth.

The Spirit teaches us not to be satisfied with mere temporal things but instead to prefer eternal things. Yes Lord, come and restore our health so that we can live out our days ministering to you, but may we have an even greater longing to put on our dwelling from heaven. Don’t settle for “groaning” as a way to return to the status quo. Allow your spirit to be in agreement with the Spirit of God and “groan” for the unseen things to be more real to your heart than what you senses are currently able to reveal.

Agree with the Word and count your trials as joy (James 1:2) because most times it is during these trials that the Lord will reveal a newness to you that you may not have otherwise known. Thank you, Lord, for your perfect ways.

In His grace,

Amanda

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