image_print

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

Moving Past Mistakes

Image result for image ofmom and baby sheep

By faith even Sarah herself, when she was unable to have children, received power to conceive offspring, even though she was past the age, since she considered that the One who had promised was faithful.

Hebrews 11:11

Sarah often gets blamed for lack of faith when she urged Hagar upon Abraham. But a closer reading reveals a startling fact: God did not promise Abraham a son through Sarah until more than a decade after Ishmael had been born. Perhaps she thought bearing a son through her maidservant was God’s plan all along.

Her faith is what is held up as an example in the Hall of Faith found in the book of Hebrews. Trying circumstances work out our faith — breaking down fragile hope and rebuilding robust hope in the strength of Christ. They expose faith in our own strength and wisdom, and they exercise our faith so that we will increasingly put our hope and confidence in Christ and his promises instead.

With twenty-twenty hindsight, we see her mistake. But apparently, this was an accepted practice in that era. After all, four of the twelve tribes – Gad, Asher, Dan, and Naphtali – were born to maidservants.

When God’s plan didn’t match Sarah’s expectations, she added her own spin. Did she pray about it? We are not told. If she had prayed…if she had waited…if Abraham had said no…if, if, if. What we do know is that once God promised Sarah, she would be a mother, she believed.

Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”

Genesis 17:19

Many of us have at least one “if only” in our lives. Like Sarah, our mistakes don’t end our usefulness to God. If we stumble, let us acknowledge our error and move forward with confidence because the One who promises is faithful.

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series

A Telling Woman

Image result for image ofstone rolled away from tomb

After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons.

Mark 16:9

Mary had seven demons cast out of her (Luke 8:1–3), was present at Jesus’s crucifixion (John 19:25), saw where Jesus was buried (Mark 15:47), and saw the resurrected Jesus (Matthew 28:1–10). Mary was living proof of Jesus’ power to change lives. Through her deliverance, people could see God fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy that He would “let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people” (Isaiah 58:6).

Jesus had removed Mary’s spiritual chains, and she responded with love, devotion, and service. Even in her grief and dashed hope, following Jesus’s death, she was up before sunrise on the Sunday after Jesus’ death and on her way to His tomb. What is so astonishing about Mary Magdalene is that she was the first person Jesus appeared to after being raised from the dead (John 20:11-18). Jesus did not first show himself to his mother, nor to Peter, James, or John, but to Mary.

Jesus met Mary in her overwhelming grief and let her be the first person to glimpse the resurrection proof of His victory over death so that she could share the message of victory and joy!

Mary Magdalene is a telling woman. She told herself that in Christ, she was a new creation. Her old self had passed away, and the new had come. She told herself that in Him, her past sin, or abuses and injustices she had suffered, and the ways she viewed herself and the way others saw her because of it, was not who she was. She told herself that in Him, she was God’s child (Ephesians 1:5). She told herself that He washed her and made her holy (1 Corinthians 6:11). She told herself that no one had the authority to say otherwise (Acts 10:15). She was His beloved (Romans 9:25). She was no longer represented as her sin (Psalm 51:7). Because Mary told herself these things, doubt and fear were merely distant reminders. What clung to her now was the beautiful joy of her foremost treasure. Nothing would stop her from spreading the victorious message to the others because lies no longer had the power to haunt her.

Jesus gave the resurrection proof to this telling woman. Tell yourself the things Mary told herself and proclaim the life-changing Message you know. Undoubtedly, Mary knew she had been given the new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3) and was thrilled to be the first herald of this wonderful news. Don’t allow any grief and dashed hope to halt the beautiful feet of the herald, who proclaims peace and brings news of good things (Isaiah 52:7).

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series

What Do You Have?

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

2 Kings 4:2
Image result for 2 kings 4:2 image

What did she have? The widow had a problem. Since her husband had passed away, she had no way to pay the debt that had amassed, and her children were going to be taken from her as payment. She appealed to Elisha to prevent this from happening. His solution for her was to gather as many jars as she could, take what oil she had, and start pouring it into the jars.

The widow did as she was instructed and was amazed to discover that jar after jar filled with oil. When there were no more jars left, Elisha instructed her to sell the oil and pay off her debt. Whatever remained would be enough to support her and her sons.

We too, like the widow, have real problems. For the widow, her courage, humility, and willingness to ask for help was bigger than her predicament. How she handled her difficulty says a lot about her:

  • She demonstrated her courage when she sought Elisha.
  • She demonstrated humility instead of bowing to pride.
  • She admitted to having a problem she needed help with and was willing to work to solve her problem.
  • She demonstrated her faith by following Elisha’s directions instead of questioning him.

What do you have? Do you have a problem, or do you have courage, humbleness, and bold faith? Like the widow, courageous faith should be the attitude we pray for when faced with difficulties. The widow’s problems did not go away because she had courage, humility and faith, but those things gave her what she needed to work through her problems. This approach worked for the widow, and it will work for us.

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series

God Notices You

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”

Genesis 16:13
Image result for image of butterfly on flower

Invisible to the elite, Hagar was abused, and considered of little value. Who would even notice her absence if she left? Who would miss her if she was gone?

But God watched over Hagar. He knew what was happening in her life and noted the details of her circumstances. He came to help, guide, and provide for her and show this struggling woman that she, too, was a child of God, valued, accepted, and loved. In His provision, however, it required she return to her mistress and submit to her mistreatment (Genesis 16:9). In our life, we will often discover that God has provided for us, but yet he has not removed our difficult circumstances. During these times, it does not mean He doesn’t care; it means He has a plan we are currently unable to see.

At times in our own lives, we may feel we don’t matter. We can’t see that our lives are making any difference. Maybe our actions go unnoticed; our attempts to reach out are unseen. We feel alone and of little worth.

Just as God watched over Hagar, He guards us, too. Because He calls us his children, we know we are His loved ones whom He valued enough to redeem with the high price of His Son’s life. Not only has He saved us, but He has rescued us from invisibility. God sees you no matter who else you think does not. Embrace the One who creates your worth, defends your soul, and loves you without end. I encourage you today to consider, like Hagar did, an intimate name for God that describes how he has prospered your soul. Is He the lover of your soul? A Light shining in dark places? The irresistible Spring in a hot desert land? Or is He your heart’s desire? The One you long for? For me, He revealed himself as the taste of my most favorite food, the smell of my favorite flower, and the pure love of a child.

Behold his supreme worth. He loves you. You are so visible to Him that He sees the details of your life. Thank You, God, for teaching us what love is.

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series