God’s Work WILL NOT be Overthrown

“And now, I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.” So they were persuaded by him. After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name.  Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”  Acts 5:38-42

Many signs and wonders were being performed by the apostles in Solomon’s Colonnade and believers were added to the Lord in increasing number.  The Sadducees were filled with jealousy and therefore arrested the apostles and put them in jail.  During the night, an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail, brought the apostles out,  and instructed them to go and stand in the temple complex and tell the people all about this life.  The apostles acted in obedience and went and taught the people.  When asked by the Sanhedrin and high priest why they were in disobedience by teaching in the Name, the apostles responded by saying, “We must obey God rather than men.”  This enraged the Sanhedrin.  Gamaliel, teacher of the apostle Paul and a respected teacher of the law, stood up and reminded the Sanhedrin of two separate occasions in which two leaders attracted a following for their cause but the group ultimately came to nothing when the leaders died and the followers dispersed.  (summarized from Acts 5:12-37)  This is where our focus text picks up.

“If this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown.”  Men have the power and appetite to overthrow other men in their quest for personal ambition.  We see this at work in the crucification of Jesus.  The pride of men was so peaked it thought if we just kill his flesh, his story ends and ours continues.  What they failed to perceive was that the power of Jesus did not reside solely in His flesh but was fueled by His Father and carried out by His Spirit.

“But if it is of God you will not be able to overthrow them.  You may even be found fighting against God.”  DIVAs, if God has set a plan in action, NO PART of creation can overthrow His purposes.  Amen.  Try as men might it is nothing but a vain fight.  Are we making sure, to the best of our ability, that our plans are God’s plans so that they will be established and not topple?

For the sake of emphasis let’s take a look at the definition of overthrow.  The meaning is to depose, as from a position of power; overcome, defeat, or vanquish; to put an end to by force; to throw, knock down, or demolish; overturn; topple; to destroy the sound condition of (the mind).

“After they called in the apostles and had them flogged (derō), they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them.”  The Greek word translated ‘fogged’ her is derō and means to flay, to scourge, beat, smite.  Let’s take a look at another verse.

“The men who were holding Jesus started mocking and beating (derō) Him.”  Luke 22:63

The same Greek word derō is translated here as ‘beating’ and has the same meaning.  It is no wonder the apostles “went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name!  Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”  Not only would they continue to teach and proclaim but they would do it under the banner of JESUS IS THE MESSIAH!  The apostles were friends of Jesus, loved Him, believed in His cause, and identified with Him.  Because Jesus suffered as a result of not backing down from the truth, the apostles felt it a great honor to follow in His footsteps and not back down from the truth as well.  What about us?  Are we such a friend to Jesus, love Him so, believe in His cause, and identify with Him, that we are willing to risk our comforts for the pure joy of being “counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name”? Are we willing to not back down from the truth but speak it whenever a door is opened for us?  Let’s not be considered such light-weight followers that when we get attacked or our comforts are threatened or our emotions wounded we desire to step back because it is too uncomfortable and feel it is not worth the fight.  Sometimes we try to preserve the flesh and the resulting emotion and it therefore will have the power to halt our progression towards the Lord’s purposes.

Jesus was dishonored in the flesh.  The ‘work of men’ in flogging the apostles was fueled by the Sanhedrin’s fear of losing their powerful standing among men. The Sanhedrin, in fear, speculated if they kill and dishonor His flesh they could stop the progression of the Name but the Name spread even further by that act because the Spirit came and enabled the followers!  He still does the same today.  What the Sanhedrin did not expect is for the apostles to leave their presence rejoicing at the pure honor they received by being counted worthy to suffer alongside their beloved friend.

Reflection Questions

  1.  Are you quick to “rejoice” when you are counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name or do you step back and re-think your position?   Do you value promoting your honor and worth more than you value promoting the honor and worth of Jesus?  Do you insist your dignity be validated even at the expense of being out of line with the truth of Scripture?
  2. Does anything stand out about your life in Christ that would change a non-believer’s perspective?

Be bold for the cause of Christ DIVAs!  The apostles did it even when their lives were threatened.  Our lives are not threaten to the point of death but the disguise we at times present to others very well could be if you would be willing to let it.

In His grace,

Amanda

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Mended Hearts (revisiting a prior message)

“Let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”

Hebrews 4:16

Oh, Tuesday DIVAs! I am so humbled by our Lord! That in His mercy He would assemble us before His throne of grace and allow us to make our request known to Him. Can you fathom it? That He would call us and allow us the privilege of laying our hearts before Him to receive His ministry? What grace! What mercy! Let’s not hold back a thing before the One who is completely safe. Run princess to the open arms of your King! He has been awaiting your arrival.

How do we approach His throne of grace with boldness? The ONLY reason we can even ingress is because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross.  Because of this alone we have been granted access to God’s throne.  Therefore, we approach with the boldness of being His adopted child (John 1:12, Ephesians 1:5).  We boldly approach with our hand in His because we are accepted (Romans 15:7).  We boldly approach with the ability to have the fullness of Christ in us (Colossians 2:9-10, 1 Corinthians 12:27).  We boldly approach in agreement with His Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17).  We boldly approach as a new creation (Romans 6:6, Colossians 3:1-3).  We boldly approach because we are chosen, royal, holy, and His special possession (1 Peter 2:9).  We boldly approach because God shows no favoritism (Romans 2:11).   We boldly approach because the Father lavishes great love towards us (1 John 3:1)!  If you are in Christ, do not think for a second you are anything less!  Now, with BOLDNESS approach the throne of grace…and receive.

If you are familiar with the book of Esther, you will recall that Haman made an edict declaring all the Jews would be put to death because of his rage toward Mordecai. Seeking acquittal, Mordecai took to the streets wearing sackcloth and wailing loudly.  Why?  Because He knew liberation and deliverance would come to the Jewish people.  What about you?  Do you know God to be your liberator and deliverer?  If you do, choosing ‘sackcloth’ as opposed to a wall will begin to feel more and more instinctive to you.  Praise God!

While searching the bible I found the word “sackcloth” was commonly paired with two things (1) feeling the pain of an injury and allowing God to minister to it and (2) humility towards God and your circumstances.

When our heart has been injured, our fleshly nature desires to respond by building an impenetrable wall to protect it from further trauma. What if instead, we covered our souls with sackcloth and forgot about constructing that toxic wall? Would you be willing? If we adorn our hearts with sackcloth we must (1) acknowledge the pain (instead of defending it or disregarding the injury) to the Lord and let HIM tend to it and (2) be humble and absolutely obedient to His direction. Would we be courageous enough to stop the construction and step out from behind our hand-built walls?  Let’s adorn our hearts with sackcloth and let the King of Glory come in!   You and I can fulfill the “hope of our calling” by letting God do the miraculous in us! When we allow Him access to our fractured hearts He is able to do what only He can do and we become something that in our own strength we could never achieve.  Let’s completely trust Him with our hearts and circumstances DIVAs.  He is so worth it…and so are you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,

Amanda

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ALL for His glory!

 

 

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Diabalos’ Aim is to Defame

“Woe to the earth and the sea, for the Devil has come down to you with great fury, because he knows he has a short time.”

 Revelation 12:12

Greetings fellow sojourners!  Are you full of expectancy to receive good things from the Lord today? Let’s anticipate seeing His goodness unfold in our lives.  I was studying this verse and was fascinated with the definitions of the word Devil.  ‘Devil’ here is from the Greek word diabolos which itself is from the word diaballō; meaning to traduce (to expose to shame or blame by means of falsehood and misrepresentation) or defame.  Defame?  Let’s remove the prefix ‘de’ and look at the root word fame.  Fame “is usually thought of as a positive thing such as love, admiration, and people wanting to be like you.   The prefix de- in defame means ‘remove.’  So if someone tries to defame a person, fame — or a good reputation — is taken away.” (dictionary.com)

Our fame exists by virtue of our Rescuer and Deliverer.  Do you recall 1 Peter 1:12 and how angels long to look into the gospel of salvation?  Do you suspect they are bewildered regarding the wonder of God’s radical plan involving the Darling of Heaven to save mere human folk and anointing them to reveal His fame whenever they spoke?

We love hero stories.  One person’s life is tragically in the balance when a hero appears and intervenes to save the helpless.  Sometimes, unfortunately, the hero is not always able to save the helpless and themselves and the hero ends up forfeiting their life.   When we first behold the rescued one, our minds often spin over the admiration of the bold hero who accepted the risk.   To see that end lamentably materialize leaves the gazer with a gaping mouth and a tender heart.  The hero holds the ultimate fame but as a result of the rescue, some of the hero’s fame passes to the saved person.

“And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.”  Mark 1:28 ESV

The larger example of this is our hero Jesus Christ.  He holds THE crown of fame.  We have fame passed down to us purely because we are the recipients of His audacious rescue.  Diaballo knows this.  He is fully aware of the fame of our name in the heavenlies.  So in the fury of his short time, his aim is to defame.  He minds to follow in line with the definition of defame:  to charge falsely or with malicious intent and to attack the good name and reputation of the recipients of Christ’s rescue.  Why?  In hopes we believe his lies about us trump the truth of Scripture.  His intent is that we are veiled to what the exchange of the Cross provides (forgiveness, healing, righteousness, life, blessing, abundance, glory, acceptance, the new man) so that we neglect to pick up our Swords and defend the positions we hold as the famed saved ones.  He believes if he renders us ineffective by his defamations, he wins the greater portion here on earth.  DIVAs we are Victoriously Anointed to not let this be.

What tactic does Diabolos employ most often?  Fear and unworthiness.  They are the choking grip that immobilize valiant acts of boldly speaking the fame of Jesus and leading others toward their rescue in Him.  DIVAs, (Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed) live up to the fame of your name in the heavenlies.  Jesus Christ died so that you would walk in the powerful fame of HIS name, not in the fear of Diablo’s worn-out claims.  Be bold for Christ!  He is so worth it and so are you.

Satan’s aim is to defame

But our glory comes from God’s story

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In His grace,

Amanda

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Seeking to Find YOURSELF? Stop Looking.

“Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me (after Me), he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

I recently thought through the lyrics of a catchy song (lines below) and began thinking about how people fall into the worldly trap of trying to ‘find themselves’. Some, in their attempt to ‘find themselves’ find Jesus instead. What mercy!  Some, who know only religion, attempt to ‘find themselves’ thinking they are missing a better life when they remain in their tired relationships (e.g.: marriage, siblings, parents). Do we REALLY understand that to truly ‘find’ ourselves we must ‘lose’ ourselves instead in Jesus?  What if while in a fatigued relationship your feelings of rejection, bitterness, and your tired grieved soul prompts you to desire a ‘better you’ by deserting the relationship?  If you asked the Lord, how do you think He would respond to your extramural search to ‘find yourself’ ultimately hoping for a ‘better you’?  As the verse in Matthew explains, if you cling to YOUR life (meaning:  ‘to find by inquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, to find out by practice and experience’ – Strongs) you will ultimately lose it.  But in GIVING UP your life for Christ, you discover true living and ultimately ‘find yourself’ in Christ.

Have you ever considered that to ‘find yourself’ you must die to self?  Galatians speaks in terms of the meaning of being crucified in Christ is to identify with Him in His death in such a way as to allow Him to live through you.

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:39

“And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. ”              Luke 14:27

“I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”                                                                     Galatians 2:20

“Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back to the milky way
And tell me, did Venus blow your mind
Was it everything you wanted to find
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there” (Train – Drops of Jupiter)

If you are curious enough to check out the full lyrics maybe you will find like me, that the lines speak of the arrogance of man in our quest to try to ‘find ourselves’. Thank you Lord that because of your great mercy You have astounding patience with Your beloved creation . I just love you.

DIVAs, whatever post (see blog dated 6-14-2016) the Lord has put in your charge do not abandon it in hopes of an easier arena to guard and protect.  The enemy would have you think the answer to your unhappiness, boredom, lack of control, or a lack of being exalted will be found in a different set of circumstances or in a search to ‘find yourself’.   However, the idea that you must stop searching for yourself is “Jesus’ most common refrain in the Gospels.”  (Holman).

Let’s keep in mind that Christ’s purpose in calling us to deny ourselves stretches far beyond what we can imagine.  In denying our selfishness and our ambition, as well as our pasts, and our flawed mentalities we get His plans for us which sweeps beyond what our hearts could ever imagine would satisfy.  You are much loved!

i-know-who-i-am

In His grace,

Amanda

 

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God is Faithful

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Greetings fellow sojourners! I am so thankful for the Lord’s great mercy! We can not live life in the flesh and expect to escape temptation/trials. Trials can grow out of the brokenness of our hearts, from outward circumstances, as well as from carefully planned diversions of the enemy. What temptations or trials are you currently facing? I don’t know about you but the only hope that arises in me from the initial portion of this verse, “no temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity” is that other people have gotten through it – it was not the death of them! Besides that, I am not sure it comforts me much to know that others have gone through the same testing when I am in the thick of it. What about you? I can testify that when someone shares their experiences of suffering with me and I add that I have suffered the same, it sounds painfully flimsy. Then nearly every time my next thought becomes, “was that really helpful?” Even still, my motivation is always for another to know there IS life on the other side of suffering. However, I am just not sure it is the life line that actually helps them. What has been your experience?

Here is the part I have a penchant for! “God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” Amen!! God is faithful. God is faithful. God is faithful. Does it get any better than that? I love that He will not ALLOW us to be tempted BEYOND what we are ABLE. I must include a verse that shows the contrast between God and us. There is clearly a point where we can not go BEYOND and a point where we cease to be ABLE (in the flesh). Look at this:

“Now to Him who is ABLE to do above and BEYOND all that we ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20

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Don’t you just love that God is ALWAYS able and can ALWAYS go beyond all that a we can do in the flesh!

“With the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” Believer, you will be tempted, there is no escaping that reality. However, the more mind blowing phenomenon is God will PROVIDE a way of escape from your temptation! Here is the key. We must be aware of this truth so that we look for and recognize when an escape is being presented. It can come from a host of places and from a multitude of unsuspecting ways.

TAKE the door of escape. The door will be provided….you must WALK through it. Lay down your pride, hurt feelings, bitterness, fear, resentment, and the need to ‘prove the point’. It all amounts to folly anyway. God’s wisdom is supreme and goes exceedingly beyond ours. The escape the Lord provides may appear at the time to you hardly relevant but trust the Lord, His wisdom, and His faithfulness. The Creator and Sustainer of the universe is ABLE to see what we cannot and is able to go BEYOND our capabilities. He knows all ends.   Those ends my friend are beautiful.   Amen!!

Reflection Questions

~ What temptation/trial are you currently facing? Be specific. Pray and ask the Lord to provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear the trial. After you have done that, set your eyes and heart to look for the escape the Lord will provide. Most times your escape will not be what you expect because the Lord sees ends we are unable to see. The Lord’s thoughts are nothing like our thoughts and His ways are far beyond anything we could imagine. (Isaiah 55:8) I am thankful for that.

~ God will take you places you never dreamed of going.  Please don’t be so stuck in the rut that you are apprehensive to travel the path of Jesus.  His path is not in the rut.  If leaving the rut means facing the trials the rut has allowed you to avoid, remember if Jesus is your Savior then His Spirit (which is in you) is GREATER than the enemy.  Good things await you on the other side of your trials!  What can you do today to begin getting out of the rut?

Just for fun sweet things…I found the picture of the stone that says “the Lord is faithful” before I saw the picture Deanna chose with the Isaiah 61 verse.  I love the symmetry!

In His grace,

Amanda

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