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Humility Over Pride

The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.

Proverbs 22:4
Spring Flowers In Bloom In A Field by Meltonmedia

There is a reward for humility and respect for the Lord. Not only does humility equip us for eternity, but there is a reward that will be experienced in these current days.

The pathways of God are beautiful and magnificent and remarkable and humbling. Initially, these discrete pathways can be missed if we do not intentionally take note of the invitations to travel them. With self-discipline, this secret garden path will become more evident to us as we direct our eyes to the well-trodden trail traveled by those who have had their heart set upon the Lord.

When we experience pride (our own or someone else’s), it is such an attention-grabbing influence that it is often difficult to ignore. The desire of the natural self is to be recognized. Therefore, choosing the way of humility can be the most undesirable alternative available. However, if we allow ourselves to be trained by humility’s instruction, the self-disciple that is required will yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hallelujah.

To be strong in the Lord, the armor of God will be a must. We are exhorted to:

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.

Ephesians 6:14-18

Therefore, if we are going to win the battle against pride, we must:

  • Know the truth: Humility is God’s way, pride is not
  • Desire righteousness in your heart: Humility hopefully and joyfully embraces Jesus Christ of Nazareth for all things
  • Seek peace: Humility is a loving and uniting force and is a primary pursuit
  • Faith: Humility is a faithful response in all circumstances
  • Salvation: Humility is a mark of appropriated salvation
  • Sword of the Spirit: Humility applies the Word and slays pride
  • Persistent prayer: Staying humble will require all forms of prayer, not only for self but for others

Lord, help me remember that humility is a prominent Christian grace (Romans 12:3 15:17, 18; 1 Corinthians 3:5 7; 2 Corinthians 3:5, Philippians 4:11 -13). Transform my thinking so that I may be pleasing to You (1 Peter 3:4). Help me see that humility brings tranquility to my soul (Psalms 69:32, 33), and makes me patient under trials (Job 1:22). Show my heart Your great promises to those who are humble (Psalms 147:6, Isaiah 57:15, 66:2, 1 Peter 5:5). Amen.

Thank you, Lord, for your great example of humility (Phil 2:6 8). Lead me into repentance (Lamentations 3:39), remembering that humility is the way to honor (Proverbs 16:18) and the avenue to glory.

In His grace,

Amanda

❀ Christward, A Hopeful and Joyful Embrace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (available at Amazon)

Anna, A Prophetess Who Spread The Message

Women in the Scriptures: Anna

There was also a prophetess, Anna…she did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. At that very moment (when Simeon was blessing Jesus and His family), she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

What a joy it must have been for Anna! Since her husband had passed away, she spent her days in the temple complex serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. She was not someone who contemplated the things of God when she could work it into her schedule or when she had nothing else to do. This prophetess made God’s Word, His heart, and His will her highest aim. As a result, God allowed her to “see” into the affairs of people and into the mind and heart of God. She received the joy of her daily pursuit! Is it our delight to spend our days pursuing God and His will for His people? Do we desire to bring heaven down (Matthew 6:10) into our hearts as well as the hearts of others?

God’s prophetess speaks only what accords with Scripture. As a result, prophetic speaking will come from someone who is in close intimate fellowship with God, is in harmony of mind and will, and has such consecration of life through the experiences of salvation. Subsequently, the prophetess finds that God gives her His unique inspiration. There are other prophetesses’ we can learn about in the Bible such as Miriam, the sister of Moses (Exodus 15:20) who was endowed with the gift of song; Deborah, the judge (Judges 4:4); Huldah, the wife of Shallum (2 Chronicles 32:22) who was consulted for a word; Isaiah’s wife (Isaiah 8:3); and Philip’s four unmarried daughters (Acts 21:9).

On the flip side, Deuteronomy 13 says that the false prophet is one who leads people away after ‘other gods’ and speaks ‘rebellion against the Lord our God’…leading us to leave the way in which the Lord our God, commands us to walk. If any believer speaks opinions that are out of line with God’s truth, then those beliefs are false and can lead another believer astray. A test of this is found in Jeremiah 23:9-22. Both in his personal life (v9-15) and in his public ministry (v16-22), the false prophet subscribes to another morality and encourages his hearers to do likewise. Consequently, Jeremiah infers, this man cannot have ‘stood in the council of the Lord’ (v18, 22). When God speaks through His Word, no one can argue. Let’s check our hearts. If we desire to be in close intimate fellowship with God, if we desire to be in harmony with His mind and will, and if we desire our life to be consecrated through the experiences of salvation, then we will be in agreement with His commands. We will not allow our mind and heart to be lead astray, and we will not lead others astray by speaking against God’s Word.

Because Anna spent her life devoted to God, she immediately recognized Jesus as the long-awaited Savior and began thanking God for the opportunity to ‘see’ His good works. In the short amount of ink given to her testimony, we find her life overflowing with favor and grace.

“She gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).  Anna, the prophetess, is among the first to bring honor to our Lord and King. Good news is meant to be shared, and Anna shares it with everyone who was anticipating the Messiah.  Like Mary, who was at Jesus’ tomb and was allowed to be the first to share the good news of the resurrection, let’s be like these devoted women and spread God’s message.

In His grace,

Amanda

❀ Christward, A Hopeful and Joyful Embrace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Bible Study available at Amazon)

Mary of Rome, A Persistent Woman

TWELVE EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN: MARTHA AND MARY : WORKING AND WORSHIPING

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Persis is mentioned only once in the Bible, but Paul’s regard for her is still relevant today. Do you think it is rare to find people who give themselves fully to the work of the Lord ~ inside and out?

In the Roman letter, Paul greets Persis as “my dear friend” (Romans 16:12). It is not clear how they were acquainted, but perhaps Persis, like Priscilla and Aquila, were expelled from Rome by Emperor Claudius around AD 50 and then returned when tension eased. Or if a native of Asia Minor, Syrian Antioch, or another area where Paul ministered, she later may have relocated to Rome to build up the church there.

However it was that Persis came to Rome, Paul commends her not by saying she worked hard in the Lord but that she “worked very hard in the Lord” (Romans 16:12). The Greek word for “labor or worked” is “kopiao,” which means “to be wearied or spent with labor; faint from weariness; to toil hard” [The Analytical Greek Lexicon of the NT, p. 237]. It comes from a root word meaning “beating.” Thus, it has reference to an extreme “weariness as though one had been beaten” [Dr. Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the NT, vol. 3, p. 827]. Persis was a woman who gave herself fully to the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58). When we read heroic accounts of people’s lives, let’s not be fooled into thinking it was because they did not have to press in, or it did not cost them something. Aside from her personal challenges, let’s consider some of the cultural difficulties Persis most likely had to face.

  • The vast, diverse city had a population numbering in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, which could have intimidated her.
  • Rome, though blessed materially, artistically, and educationally, was saturated with paganism.
  • Random persecution often threatened Roman Christians.
  • If Persis was an upper-class Roman, she enjoyed freedoms denied to other women. Still, overall male domination would have, to some degree, limited Persis and her ability to share the Gospel.

Despite the odds, Persis determined to serve Christ, having a persistent eternal perspective and a confident assurance of her reward. May we be like Persis! Regardless of the personal challenges, may we always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord because we know our labor in the Lord will not be in vain. Our lives are relevant and meaningful. May God grant us the endurance to “work very hard” in Him. Amen

In His grace,

Amanda

❀ Christward, A Hopeful and Joyful Embrace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Bible study available at Amazon)

The Two Marys

SPC student greets the dawn at the Ramon Crater in Israel - Center ...

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb.

Matthew 28:1

The day was dawning. Even a glimpse of the sun on the horizon is enough to push back the darkness and reveal the seemingly immeasurable reach of its rays. It was the perfect amount of light needed for the first human witnesses of the Resurrection.

The dawn was not the only giver of light that beautiful resurrection morning. God had already sent His angel to the tomb of the Darling of Heaven. The angel that had departed the presence of God to travel to the tomb, had such an impact upon arrival that he caused the earth to shudder (28:2). The angel wore a robe as white as snow, and his appearance was like lightning (28:3) (For interest sake, a bolt of lightning is 5x hotter than the surface of the sun and 600x brighter.) Do you recall how Moses’ face shone after he had been in God’s presence (Exodus 34:29,30)?

The presence of the angel visibly moved the two Marys so he reassured them regarding their mission. The women not only viewed garments as white as snow, but they were entrusted with sharing the most powerful, life-altering news this world has ever known.

They departed from the tomb, which once represented anguish, defeat, and uncertainty and was given the charge to testify to the power of God, which brings great joy, hope, and awe. They had no hesitation as they quickly left to be God’s witness to the rest of the disciples. Before they could get there, Jesus met them. “Good morning!” He said. In the unity of joy, both Marys fell to his feet and worshiped Him.

“Don’t cling to Me,” Jesus said, “for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and tell them that I am ascending to My Father and your Father — to My God and your God.” Mary Magdaline announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what He had said to her (John 20:17-18).

The verb translated “cling to” does not mean to ‘touch’ and ‘handle’ to see whether His body was real. Instead, it means to ‘hold on to’ and ‘cling to.’ Moreover, it is the present imperative; and the full meaning will, therefore, be, ‘Do not continue holding Me,’ or simply, hold Me not. The old and often interrupted earthly experience is over; the new and continuous experience with the ascended Lord has not yet begun: but that Presence will be granted soon, and there will be no need of straining eyes and clinging hands to realize it (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges).

At that time, women were not considered to be a reliable witness. However, God did not see it that way. What is impossible with man is possible with God (Luke 18:27). What will you do with the light of the Gospel that shines brilliantly into the eyes of your heart? Will you see it? Will you share it? Will you be in awe? Jesus said to the two Marys, “Listen, I have told you” (Matthew 28:7). Are you listening to what He speaks to you today in His Word? If so, what will you tell someone? God has called you to be a witness regarding how He has resurrected you. “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell…” (Matthew 28:10).

Be like the two Marys, go quickly and tell.

In His grace,

Amanda

❀ Christward, A Hopeful and Joyful Embrace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Available at Amazon)

Debating the Devil

The Garden of Eden – from Genesis Chapter 2 | Bible Answer Girl

Of course, we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, the woman replied. It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said You must not eat it or even touch it, if you do, you will die. No! You won’t die, the serpent replied to the woman.

Genesis 3:2-4

Steal, kill, and destroy. That is the objective of the enemy (John 10:10), and his ways are cunning (Genesis 3:1, Ephesians 6:11). Left to ourselves, we are no match for him. Praise God for His provision of the Holy Spirit! With the guidance of the Spirit and the promise of God’s Word, if we resist the Devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7).

Perhaps it sounded absurd to Eve when the serpent questioned whether they could eat the fruit in the Garden. Her reply to the serpent was: “Of course we may eat fruit.” She went on to explain which fruit they were permitted to eat and which fruit was forbidden. It was not a mystery to her. It was not the fruit she had to be on her guard about; it was her own heart.

Perhaps Eve was not confident about the difference between spiritual and physical death, and the serpent took full advantage of this ignorance. The enemy is prideful, and he often uses the lure of pride as the bait to dangle before our eyes. What tastier treat makes the mouth of pride water more than being all-knowing and all-powerful? He baited Eve by saying, “Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Then the woman saw with her natural eyes that the tree was good and delightful. It is the way of the enemy to twist clarity to make it confusing. The temptation of the serpent was to tell Eve that she was actually blind, but by eating the fruit, she would be able to see like never before. She believed him. She looked, and instead of seeing off-limits fruit, she saw what appeared to be good and delightful fruit. Minimally, the enemy stole her peace with God, killed her innocence, and destroyed the provision she once had.

Her life would have been different if she had taken the dilemma to God before she acted on the Devil’s deceit. The enemy knows how to cleverly coat his stories with just enough truth so that it appears right. Whenever we are unsure, we should always come to God for His guidance. He is faithful and will help us. He loves us and will equip us with what we need (His Word) to recognize the enemy’s deceit. Treat His Word as your trusted friend and ally. It will never disappoint.

The Devil clouds our circumstances. Trust God to clarify and clear all the confusion.

In His grace,

Amanda

❀ Christward: A Hopeful and Joyful Embrace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (available at Amazon)

Hannah’s Triumphant Prayer

Hannah prayed: My heart rejoices in the LORD: my horn is lifted up by the LORD. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and He weighs actions. The bows of the warriors are broken, but the feeble are armed with strength.

1 Samuel 2:1-10

Hannah’s poetry was birthed from sorrow. If anyone possesses a sorrowful spirit but can learn to tune their heart towards God as sweetly as she tuned hers, we may find satisfaction to have walked through our griefs. Hannah chooses to magnify the Lord with her words. What a lesson we can learn from Hannah! O Lord, may we learn to express your majesty in our own humble way. May we turn to glorify your beauty and give little attention to our troubles. Trials will teach us how to flow our words like oil from the pressed olives. May the Lord be praised, and His love commended in the best terms our speech can come at, and may the Lord grant us the knowledge that this resulting fruit was worth the suffering.

If we honestly searched, we would discover that many of us are not fit to receive a great blessing until we have gone through the furnace of affliction. Hannah gained divine grace in her great sorrow. Her name stands among the highly-favored women because of what she did during her time of sorrow. We, too, can be like Hannah and shine brightly among the faithful. May we pick up our burdens and take them to the Cross of Christ. We shall not become murmurers as well as mourners. In your season of heaviness through manifold temptations, anticipate the delightful results of good fruit as a result of how you choose to respond at that time.

It was by suffering in patience that she became so brave a witness for the Lord and could so sweetly sing, “There is none holy as the Lord, neither is there any rock like our God.” We cannot bear testimony unless we test the promise and, therefore, happy is the person whom the Lord tests and qualifies to leave a testimony to the world that God is faithful.  Yes, Lord, You are faithful! We sing praise to Your name because you turn our sorrow to joy.

In His Grace,

Amanda

❧ Women of Faith Series

Christward: A Hopeful and Joyful Embrace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (available at Amazon)

Don’t Fear Change When The Road Forks

Fear of change at the fork in the road : Conferences That Work

But those who turn to crooked ways, the LORD will banish with the evildoers.

Psalm 125:5

This picture reminds me of how the Lord taught my heart many years ago depicting a path similar in some ways to the one above, and it remains a vivid memory to this day. The issue was my lack of forgiveness towards a person. It is not a great challenge to prioritize personal perspectives and agree with our opinions that relational problems are usually the other person’s fault, while our behavior remains justified. The Lord showed me that if I continued on the path of unforgiveness, it would corrupt me, but if I choose the way that initially appeared more demanding, it would lead to purity. What I remember to be so visually startling was the path I was walking seemed more pleasant than the path the Lord invited me on. He showed me what my eyes could not see – that up ahead, my seemingly pleasant path was darkening and turning barren. His way, although it was initially difficult (killing pride is always strenuous), turned into a beautiful garden path. Please remember that just because something looks easy and makes sense to your intellect does not always mean it is best; it might just lead you into spiritual darkness. Let’s take note of Orpah’s fork-in-the-road result.

Orpah married Chilion, whose Hebrew family had moved to her native Moab. After Chilion died, Orpah, along with Ruth, her widowed sister-in-law, vowed to return with their mother-in-law, Naomi, to Israel to begin a new life. Maybe Naomi’s kindness over the years influenced Orpah to consider leaving her own family. Perhaps Orpah had grown to appreciate Naomi’s God.

But Naomi, grieving her dead husband and sons, painted a dismal picture of the young widow’s future with her. Because of this, most likely, Orpah decided to stay. Since her well-being depended on marriage, Orpah’s choice made sense. Her country and Israel had clashed for centuries; most Jewish men, unlike Kilion, would hesitate to wed an enemy. A man who shared Orpah’s background presented a far better marriage prospect. Besides, though Orph admired Naomi and her God, Yahweh seemed stricter than Moab’s Chemosh and his female counterpart Astarte, the goddess of fertility. Perhaps Orpah questioned whether she wanted to spend a lifetime keeping all those commandments. She decided to take the path that appealed to her and seemed to make the most sense. She returned to her people and their gods.

The Old Testament does not mention Orpah again, but rabbinical literature connects her with promiscuity resulting in pagan offspring who fought God’s people – a marked contrast to Ruth’s descendants, who include King David and Jesus Christ.

When the road forks never allow fear, pride, or comfort, keep you from making a godly decision. We need God’s vision along every step on the path, particularly when it forks.

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith Series

Christward: A Hopeful and Joyful Embrace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Available at Amazon)

Don’t Look Back

Genesis 19:26 on Behance

But Lot’s wife looked back longingly and was turned into a pillar of salt. 

Genesis 19:26

Lot’s wife lived with her family in the city of Sodom. The lifestyle of the Sodomites got so evil that God determined to utterly destroy Sodom and the nearby city, Gomorrah. God, however, listened to Lot’s plea for mercy and sent angels to evacuate him and his family before the destruction hit Sodom and Gomorrah.

Lot’s wife did not want to leave, and while she was eventually convinced to depart, she longingly looked back. Her glance back was not one of curiosity but of disobedient hesitation. She didn’t want to leave the evil she had known in Sodom. Consequently, she was consumed along with the wicked people of Sodom.

Often, God offers us the opportunity to escape evil and follow Him, but taking the escape route means leaving a familiar lifestyle. Regret, fear of moving on, and longing for the comfort we once loved, tempt us to look back longingly. However, when God calls, we must embrace Him, His ways, and the journey He calls us to. We will only be able to successfully do this if we value Him as our foremost treasure.

As Jesus told His followers, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). “The image which our Lord used was, as usual, one that went home to the personal experience of His hearers. They were of the peasant class, and they knew that the eye of the plowman, if he is to do his work well, must look straight before him at the line of the furrow which he is making. To look back, while working, is to mar the work entirely. The man who so looks is, therefore, ipso facto, disqualified for the work of God’s kingdom.” (Ellicott’s Commentary)

When we move forward with Jesus, we can be confident that we are following the One who knows the way to an abundant, satisfying life. Let’s not be double-minded like Lot’s wife and allow our heart to hesitate regarding the things of God. He loves you and me, and with the new birth He has given, we are equipped to love and value Him above all secondary created things.

In His Grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith Series

❀ Christward: A Hopeful and Joyful Embrace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (New book available at Amazon.)

Positive Impact

VAYISHLACH – AND HE SENT | Wilderness Report

Deborah, the one who had nursed and raised Rebekah, died and was buried under the oak south of Bethel. So Jacob named it Oak of Weeping.

Genesis 35:8

Deborah had been Rebekah’s nurse since she was a child. When Rebekah was to mary Isaac (Genesis 24:59), the family sent Deborah with the new bride as she set out. Deborah continued to fulfill her nursing role by affectionately helping Rebekah raise her boys, Esau and Jacob.

After the boys were grown and settled, Deborah died, and the family she loved for so long, took care of her burial. They did more than simply place her body in the ground when you consider the name her burial place was given. Rebekah must have loved her nurse considerably and grieved her loss deeply. The two women had shared so many years and experiences.

To be important in our lives, people need not have impressive jobs or a lot of money. They need not be well known in our community. All they must do is have a positive impact on us. That can happen whether, like Deborah, they’ve been in our lives for years or we’ve known them only a few days – it doesn’t take long for a gentle hand or voice to win our hearts.

What strengthening can we provide to help win a heart today? We can be a joy and comfort to someone in this dry and weary land (Psalm 63:1) or an oasis of living water (John 7:38) for parched saints. The ministry of refreshment is so important that Jesus tells us there is a reward for those who strengthen others (Mark 9:41, see also Proverbs 11:25). Frequently, weary saints need the ministry of refreshment by way of encouragement. Let’s strengthen and refresh as we are able and have a positive impact on someone’s heart today.

In His grace,

Amanda

Christward, A Hopeful and Joyful Embrace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (New Bible study available at Amazon)

❧ Women of Faith Series

A Bold Faith

In the Old Testament of the Bible, Susanna was falsely accused of adultery, and whose accusers were eventually condemned. In the New Testament of the Bible, Susanna ministered to Jesus Christ. Scripture Study, Bible Art, Lds Art, Scripture Journal, Daily Scripture, Simon Dewey, Lucas 8, Image Jesus, Christian Art

Now the woman was Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to drive the demon out of her daughter. The woman kept crying out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly tormented by a demon.” Then Jesus replied to her, “Woman, your faith is great. Let it be done for you as you want.” And from that moment her daughter was cured. When she went back to her home, she found her child lying on the bed, and the demon was gone.

Matthew 15:22-23, Mark 15:22-28

The Syrophenician woman had a problem: her daughter was possessed by a demon, which tortured her without mercy. The mom did everything she knew to do, and still, her daughter suffered. She knew Jesus was near, so her quest for her daughter’s healing immediately took her to the feet of Jesus.

What boldness it took for her to approach Jesus the way she did. At first, Jesus did not answer the woman’s pleas for help. In the bitterness of her circumstances and the frustration of witnessing her daughter’s relentless suffering, would she now turn inward and bitterly confess Jesus was no different than anything else she tried? No. His silence did not deter her.

How do we come to God? Do we come with puffed-up hearts? Do we begin with a feeling that we’re entitled to something? Or perhaps we’re too timid to bring our request before God.

It’s here that we see another quality this woman had, humbleness, not bitterness. Peter tells us, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). She kept asking until finally the disciples, tired of her begging, asked Jesus to send her away. Of course, Jesus did not send her away. He replied to her, “Woman, your faith is great. Let it be done for you as you want.”

We should never allow any circumstance to stop us from seeking God. We boldly come before the throne of grace so that we may obtain mercy and find grace in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16). Let’s be like this courageous woman and not allow anything to detract us from clinging to our bold faith in Jesus.

In His grace,

Amanda

❧ Women of Faith Series