To What Extent Do You Love The Gospel of Reconciliation?

“Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.”                          2 Corinthians 5:18-19

As Christ followers, we have all been given the ministry of reconciliation.  We minister the truth that through Christ, God does not count our trespasses against us.  What wonderful freedom, peace, and joy to live in the knowledge of that truth!  This reconciliation is the demonstration of God’s love to His family.  Do you love the gospel of reconciliation?  Let’s see how this relates not only to our relationship with God through Jesus Christ but also how it relates to our relationship with others.

If we say we love the gospel of reconciliation then it follows that we shall not allow any relational collapse to continue endlessly without trying to reconcile.  If we are unwilling to reconcile, then let’s admit the truth to God: His ministry of reconciliation is……meaningless in its effect to us.  We are, in practice, denying the gospel.

The soil of our hearts must be enthusiastic about receiving the word of truth and allowing it to grow and flourish there.  The word ‘soil’ has the meaning of something made up of disintegrated rock (no more stony, stubborn, hard hearts) and other useful things that have been broken down with the purpose of aiding the growth of new seeds (in our case this would be the seed of the Word).  If our hearts are fertile we will expect to produce what Galatians 5 calls the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control).

God gave us His ministry of reconciliation; it is His plan for our lives at every level.  We are to go forth and not only tell others of the wonderful way God has reconciled us to Him through His Son but also allow that all-surpassing power of reconciliation to be manifested in our other relationships as well.  As you have received His reconciliation, also do your part to be reconciled with others.
Let’s also rest in God’s peace.  If we have done all we can to be reconciled and we have no anger or bitterness towards the other person, prayerfully leave it in the Lord’s hands for His outcome and His timing.
May God’s glorious ministry of reconciliation reverberate through ALL His people by the power of HIS love.  Amen.
How will you respond?
∞ Do you actively participate in forgiveness?  Are you willing to lovingly ‘let someone off the hook’ for both your sakes?  Remember:  forgiving someone does not mean you must condone the behavior, it simply means by an act of your will you have chosen ‘to let it go’.  You no longer demand ‘payment’ for their debt.  Jesus gives us the great example in Luke 11:4 as He prays, “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us.”

∞ Write today’s Scripture verse on a 3×5 card and 1) Commit it to memory, 2) Believe it, 3) Repeat it often.  There is power is repeating God’s word!

In His grace,

Amanda

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What Do You Pour Out?

“And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  Colossians 3:15-17

Greetings fellow sojourners!  When you woke this morning if someone told you you could choose which attitude to have that day ~ bitterness or thankfulness what would you have chosen?   Do you think anyone would intentionally choose bitterness if asked that question?  Yet it is chosen often.  If we are bitter it is because we are lazily believing the enemy’s lies.  Bitterness is anger and frustration ‘matured’.  Have you ever tasted a bitter fruit?  Eaten the bitter part of a pecan?  It is far from pleasing and doubtful you will willingly return to it again; you may even go so far as to permanently avoid the experience.

There may be areas in your significant relationships that you feel are lacking important components.  Do not, however, allow those disappointments to cast shadows on the other blessings that person provides in the relationship – choose thankfulness instead.   Do not allow the lack to have the power to diminish the blessing.  It will minimize you and cause bitterness to flourish.  Remember to allow the peace of the Messiah control your heart.  Be thankful.  Jesus can do the sublime with our hearts where we will never come close.

It is a lie that seeps from the pit of hell that tells us 1) I deserve to be bitter, 2) I can’t forgive _____________, 3) I can’t be happy because I do not have ____________________, 4) I can’t be happy because _____________ does/does not do _______________, 5) My lack of _______________ will always overshadow my ability to be thankful.

It is time to snap out of this haze we are in and choose to live INTENTIONALLY and FOCUSED.  If you must, include in every hour the determined CHOICE to be thankful.  What I think most of us do not fully comprehend is the attitude we currently have is BECAUSE WE CHOOSE to have it!  It is based on a determination of OUR will.  We must turn to God and His ALL-SURPASSING POWER and nail our unthankfulness to the Cross of Christ.  Let’s think about this.  If you yielded to your unbridled emotions how do you think your days would end?  We restrain our emotions to some degree but not completely.  We allow certain thoughts to pass through to our hearts and allow certain words and deeds to manifest.  What if instead, we yielded ourselves COMPLETELY to the Spirit of the Living God He gave us SO THAT we manifested thankfulness?  There is no doubt God gives us the grace to do so.

Thankfulness is the fruit of allowing God’s grace to permeate our heart, mind, and soul.  That is a sweet fruit.  A taste you desire to return to.

“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use.” 2 Timothy 2:20 NIV

“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:20-21 ESV

Did you note the words in the two verses?  Vessels of gold and silver exist for special or honorable use and vessels of wood and clay exist for common or dishonorable use.  This is significant.  Consider yourself a vessel.  Your vessel can hold the love of God or the bitterness of man.  Either way, when your vessel gets full (and it does) it WILL pour out.  Do you find yourself pouring out your bitter frustrations (what is common/dishonorable) or do you find yourself pouring out God’s love (what is special and honorable)?  Do these verses also bring to mind 1 Corinthians 3:12-13?

The continual rehearsal of our thoughts will either reinforce our bitterness or our thankfulness.  Are you rehearsing bitter thoughts?  Loving thoughts?   The Bible tells us whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if there is any moral excellence, and if there is any praise…dwell on these things. (Phil 4:8)  Dwelling on these things and not allowing our thoughts to turn to anger and frustration will allow thankfulness instead of bitterness to mature.

God uses people that are thankful.  It is even said that doctors consider gratitude as the healthiest of all emotions because of its physical benefits.   Every day you have the choice.  Today will you choose a heart focused on thanksgiving or bitterness?  What about tomorrow?  Plan your decision in advance because you MUST live intentionally.

In His grace,

Amanda

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Build YOURSELF Up, Pray, KEEP In The Love of God

“But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life.”  Jude 1:20-21

Do we understand we have a role to play in this life under the sun as Christ followers?  According to this verse we are to 1) build ourselves up in holy faith, 2) pray in the Spirit, 3) keep ourselves in the love of God, and 4) expect the mercy of Christ for eternal life.   Are you actively doing these things as a faithful Christ follower?

Two exhortations, in particular, caught my attention.  Firstly, we are to build ourselves up.  It is no one else’s job to build ourselves up.  What a wonderful spiritual family we have indeed when we can call on someone when we are in need!!  We must remember, however, it is no one else’s job to build us up continually.  So what does building yourself up look like?  Definitionally, it has the meaning of ‘building upon‘.  Jesus Christ IS our foundation and we build upon that.  We must be very careful, however, what we build upon The foundation.  1 Corinthians 3:12-15 says, “If anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.” 

As you go through your day, consider what you are doing, saying, and allowing yourself to believe and ask yourself if those things ‘build yourself up’ in holy faith?  Do they build beautifully upon that valuable foundation so that God would possibly consider your building as prized as gold, silver, or costly stones would be?  Or are you doing, saying, and thinking things that are contrary to the firm foundation  Jesus laid which we should be mimicking.  If it is not a resemblance but something different, it will be like wood, hay, and straw and eventually will be burned up.  The quality of what you have done, what you have said, and what you have thought will thus be revealed.  You are Divinely Inspired and Victoriously Anointed (DIVA) so let’s be purposeful in EVERYTHING we do, say, and think because it is our job to ‘build ourselves up in holy faith’, beautifully building upon your sacred foundation.

Secondly, we are to keep ourselves in the love of God.  The word ‘keep’ is the Greek word tēreō and means, ‘To guard, to keep watch upon, to watch over protectively, to mark attentively, to heed, to observe practically, to preserve, shield, to keep in custody, to maintain, to keep in a condition. (Mounce)

This is one thing I am picturing.  Jesus Christ laid each one of our foundations.  We are instructed to build upon it and we are advised how.  The enemy would love the opportunity to come along and steal (John 10:10) what you have been ‘building’ and so we are instructed to guard it.  We are to attentively keep watch upon it.  The enemy knows that “you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5) so he means to do what is required in order to steal what we have been building in order for us to not become a spiritual house able to make spiritual sacrifices to God.  Does this speak truth to you?

How will you respond?

∞ When you have powerless thoughts, immediately reject Satan’s lies. Verbally respond by saying, “Get away from me Satan. You have no place in my redeemed life. I am in Christ and Christ is in me.  I am no longer enslaved to defeating thoughts.”  Inspire yourself to smile when you feel your emotions suggesting you have no reason to.  Encourage yourself to pray and praise with a heart bursting with Thanksgiving when your senses suggest you are defeated.  Your defeat is a lie; choose to see the Truth instead.  The Truth is absolutely, all encompassing, completely overwhelming… JOYFUL!  When the hour is dark speak praise and thanksgiving to your Deliverer and Redeemer.  He loves you.

∞ Write today’s Scripture verse on a 3×5 card and 1) Commit it to memory, 2) Believe it, 3) Repeat it often.  Add notes to make it impactful to you.  There is power is repeating God’s word!

In His grace,

Amanda

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Divine Thoughts, Noble Ambitions, and Lofty Aspirations

Greetings fellow sojourners!  Do you know that you are incredibly valuable to the Kingdom of God?  You absolutely are.  Be in eager anticipation every day of your life for ways you can turn your heart over to God and allow Him to do remarkable things with it; even to turn beauty from ashes!  He is marvelously able.  I would love to sit down with each of you, look you in your eyes and encourage you regarding your incalculable value and beauty.

Many years ago someone gave my husband a book titled, My Dream of Heaven: A Ninteeth Century Spiritual Classic by Rebecca Ruter Springer.  I have picked it up several times over the years and for some reason never took an interest in it.  Recently I picked it up again and it has given me great encouragement.  I don’t think I have ever spoken about a book on this blog before but since I could perhaps speak on end regarding the topic I thought this might be a good place to share it with you! Hoping it also brings you encouragement!

The author of this book suffered an illness and during that time had a vision of Heaven; thus this book was born.  Her brother was also in heaven and the following was one of the heavenly things he shared with her.

“What strange ideas we mortals have of the pleasures and duties of this blessed life!  We seem to think that death of the body means an entire change to the soul.  But that is not the case, by any means.  We bring to this life the same tastes, the same desires, the same knowledge we had before death.  If these were not sufficiently pure and good to form a part of this life, then we ourselves may not enter.  What would be the use of our ofttimes long lives, given to the pursuit of certain worthy and legitimate knowledge, if at death it all counts as nothing, and we begin this life on a wholly different line of thought and study?  No, no; would that all could understand, as I said before, that we are building for eternity during our earthly life!  The purer the thoughts, the nobler the ambitions, the loftier the aspirations, the higher the rank we take among the hosts of heaven; the more earnestly we follow the studies and duties on our life of probation, the better fitted we shall be to carry them forward, on and on to completion and perfection here.”

I absolutely love the last sentence.  The purer the thoughts, the nobler the ambitions, the loftier the aspirations…the more earnestly we follow the studies and duties on our life of probation, the better fitted we shall be to carry them forward, on and on to completion and perfection here.  What we must be striving for is the purest of thoughts, the noblest of ambitions, and loftiest of aspirations.  Why?  So that we can carry our divine thoughts, ambitions, and aspirations to completion and perfection in heaven.  Very divine indeed.  Are you building for eternity during your earthly life or are you focusing primarily on things that will not be carried on into heaven?  I just wonder…if we realize what we do now carries over into eternity (in whatever way God chooses to use it) would we live more intentionally?

Here is how she describes a picture hanging on a wall.  It “was a life-size portrait of the Christ, just opposite the couch.  It was not an artist’s conception of the human Christ, bowed under the weight of the sins of the world, nor yet the thorn-crowned head of the crucified Savior of mankind; but the likeness of the living Master, of Christ the victorious, of Christ the crowned.  The wonderful eyes looked directly and tenderly into your own, and the lips seemed to pronounce the benediction of peace.  The ineffable beauty of the divine face seemed to illumine the room with a holy light, and I fell upon my knees and pressed my lips to the sandaled feet so truthfully portrayed upon the canvas, while my heart cried, “Master, beloved Master and Savior!”

Beautiful indeed.  We have all seen “Christ bowed under the weight of the sins of the world and/or the thorn-crowned head” of Him crucified either in our minds or hanging on walls in our buildings.  I am not suggesting we dismiss these images but I am going to suggest that we also, and maybe even more so, see Him as “Christ the victorious, of Christ the crowned” King!  Yes, He bore our sins!  But He also ascended into Heaven and IS the Victorious crowned King!  How much more will this image bear a powerful witness to our hearts, transform our lowly emotions, and energize our prayer lives!  I just wonder…if we see Jesus as more than just a sin-bearer and a Savior on a cross (not diminishing any of these) but as THE mighty and majestic King of Kings and Lord of Lords would we behave as a different sort of Chrisitan?  Maybe even the sort of Christian we have heard about in the early church?

In His grace,

Amanda

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Liberty Both in Mind and Circumstance

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose.”  Acts 16:25-26

Greetings all!

Everyone’s chains broke loose indeed!  Paul and Silas were joyfully worshipping and as the prisoners listened eagerly, their chains were also mightily broken loose!  Do you suppose these captives had ever heard such sounds in that all-encompassing darkness?  Have we graciously discerned how powerful an effect our behaviors can have on others?  Sometimes we are attentive to our impact on God’s loved ones but there are times when we are unaware of just who is watching or listening.  Are you joyfully speaking/singing the sweet praises of the Lord often enough so someone in their own place of darkness might have a chance to eagerly overhear?

Paul and Silas were physically imprisoned but they would not allow themselves to be mentally and spiritually imprisoned!  Indeed they suffered a physical hardship but they were resolved to not let it affect their mind and spirit ~ they chose to remain mentally and spiritually free!   If we find ourselves in a restricted life (either by circumstances or by the result of our own decisions) we should be determined to not let it have the power to hinder our ability to worship God.  Paul and Silas were able to see beyond their circumstances and grasp the more significant reality that God was bigger and He would, therefore, remain the object of their focus.  A Christian’s source of happiness is found within.  External circumstances cannot destroy our true peace and joy.   Are you choosing to look beyond your momentary light affliction and determine to aim your attention instead on what is unseen?

Sometimes we allow ourselves to yield to regretful memories and we must then quickly speak the Truth we know to ourselves in order to dislodge the pest before it becomes an interference.  Let’s follow the example of Paul and Silas and allow them to teach us how to not allow our circumstances to imprison our minds and hearts; nothing could constrain their devotion and nothing should be able to constrain ours either.   Who can put a value on the divinity of Christ?  His ways fit like a glove in all arenas, He supports us in all trials, He inspires our souls continually to put our confidence in God, and He stirs our hearts to speak of Him in thanksgiving and song.  We must believe that God has only good for us even when our senses try to see despair as the only fitting response.  Let’s be brave warriors of God and pray and sing in the face of adversity which is absolutely contrary to our selfish flesh.  Amen!  May God receive all the glory as we are able to do such things by His Spirit alone!

Let’s show ourselves and the world where our allegiance lies; it is not with the flesh, not with man, and not with this world system.  God is altogether worthy of our outright faith and praise.

Someone recently told me (speaking of a person in a self-defense class) that in order for a person to defend them self they must first feel worthy.  Believer, the Lord has proven your worth to Him by ransoming your life from the chains of the devil.  You are considered His inheritance.  He is the King and you are His treasure.  You are most diffidently worthy.  That, my friend, sounds like something worth praising/singing about.

How will you respond?

∞ When you have powerless thoughts, immediately reject Satan’s lies. Verbally respond by saying, “Get away from me Satan. You have no place in my redeemed life. I am in Christ and Christ is in me.  I am no longer enslaved to defeat.”  Inspire yourself to smile when you feel your emotions suggesting you have no reason to.  Encourage yourself to pray and praise with a heart bursting with Thanksgiving when your senses suggest your defeated.  Your defeat is a lie; choose to see the Truth instead.  The Truth is absolutely, all encompassing, completely overwhelming… JOYFUL!  When the hour is dark speak praise and thanksgiving to your Deliverer and Redeemer.

∞ Write today’s Scripture verse on a 3×5 card and 1) Commit it to memory, 2) Believe it, 3) Repeat it often.  There is power is repeating God’s word!

In His grace,

Amanda

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