The Marvel of the Cross is Enough

Paul said he was sent “to evangelize — not with clever words, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied of its effect.”  (1 Corinthians 1:17) “When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom.  For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”   1 Corinthians 2:1-2

Greetings fellow sojourner!  Have you ever considered the powerful simplicity of the Gospel message?

I understand the desire to make speech interesting to the point of capturing the audience or reader’s attention so they remain engrossed.  I am not attempting to suggest we remove expressiveness from our speech; even the Bible uses poetry.  What I am wondering is whether we feel compelled to speak in a way that makes the gospel message interesting to people instead of just speaking of Christ and Him crucified?

We are told in 2 Timothy 4:3 that people’s ear will itch to hear something new.  This verse is primarily addressing false teaching but it also applies to people and their need to be entertained by hearing exciting new things rather than by directing themselves to the renewing of their mind based on the truth Scripture holds.

I am thankful for talented people gifted with a command of language.  Individually, let’s ensure we are always checking ourselves to make certain our heart is not seeking or requiring clever speech to entertain us instead of loving the gospel message in its clear and straightforward presentation.  The marvel of the Cross is sufficient.

The message of the Cross has the power in and of itself to transform and convict any single person who hears it’s good news.  An individual will receive what God has to offer whether it is delivered by an eloquent orator or by someone simply reading straight from the Word because not a single person has the power to convict and change a heart.  That transformation can only be done by Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

We must not let our mind tell us something is only worth our time if it has the power to entertain.  We are not only believing a lie but we are also sending a message to those teaching us the Word that they must entertain us with their approach.  Lord, help us to not be like the Corinthians in this way.

In His grace,

Amanda

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We Speak of the Excellencies of Christ from A Heart that Overflows

“A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”  Luke 6:45

Friends, if we want to live the Christian life well it will not be done on accident.  We will not happen into it and we must always be on our guard.  One of the ways to accomplish this is to possess a heart that desires to be filled daily to overflowing by the Spirit of God.  We must be intentional about wanting it and we must be intentional about clearing out the stuff that does not belong so that we can be totally filled, edge to edge, with HIS goodness.

Do you repeatedly consider what is stored in your heart and what you allow to fill your heart?  God sows seeds into our heart and He causes the seed to multiply (2 Corinthians 9:10) but we must go to Him and seek the filling.  When we are infused to overflowing with the power of the Spirit these are the times we will be willing to speak boldly of our testimony as well as the excellencies of Christ.  The times we are hesitant to speak boldly or pray boldly are most likely the times we have not been filled to the overflowing.  We still may be willing to speak, but the boldness, excitement, and pure unending joy seems to be absent.  Have you noticed these differences in your own life?

I love how the word ‘speak’ in the Luke verse means to preach, tell, or utter.  Beloved, we are meant to preach of the excellencies of Christ from a heart that is overflowing with His grace, joy, and peace that we receive from His Spirit!

Here are some examples of the some of the ways the Spirit of God causes us to overflow.  God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so you may excel in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8) and we will always excel knowing our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).  The Holy Spirit fills us with joy and peace so that we overflow with hope (Romans 15:13).  He also causes us to increase and overflow with love for one another (1 Thessalonians 3:12).  Thank you, Lord.  Help us have a heart that eagerly seeks to be filled by You to overflowing so that we may speak from THIS overflow for the encouragement of others and of the testimony of Your great grace!

Excellencies of Christ

Lord, assist us to daily think about the Person and excellencies of Jesus Christ.  These excellent things are:  Jesus taking on human nature, his earthly life, his sacrificial death, his exaltation in heaven, and his final subduing of all evil when he returns to earth in glory.  We seek you Lord and ask for Your filling to overflowing so that our mouth speaks of Your goodness!

In His grace,

Amanda

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Smoke Screens (revisited)

“For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”           Ephesians 6:12

Greetings fellow sojourners loved by the Most High God!

Satan is deceptive and most likely savors it when we mistakingly turn our authentic spiritual battles towards flesh and blood.  Think of it as a smoke screen created to confuse us regarding the authentic reason why our situations are occurring.

According to the US Department of Defense, a smoke screen is “a cloud of smoke used to conceal ground maneuver, obstacle breaching, recovery operations, and amphibious assault operations as well as key assembly areas, supply routes, and logistic facilities.”  It is a ruse designed to disguise someone’s real intentions or activities.

This definition also interestingly describes many tactics our enemy employs in his spiritual warfare. Can you think how the enemy uses smoke screens in your circumstances to confuse you?  Can you imagine since he desires to conceal his maneuvers from your line of sight he could also vary the denseness of the smoke screen?   Satan is incredibly adept at employing the smoke screen of deceit, hoping for our destruction.  Sometimes his smoke screen is not so obvious but seems to be more of a general haze meant to cause us to question ourselves or be confused.  Sweet things, if you find yourself repeatedly confused about a situation your first thought ought to be, “Is this a spiritual warfare issue?”  Know that Satan’s smoke screens are always intended to confuse you, belittle you, minimize you, and conceal God’s truth.  KNOW the tactics of your adversary.

Jesus Christ of Nazareth dissipated Satan’s smoke screen with the Word when Satan tried to twist the truth of God (Luke 4:1-13).  Allow the Spirit of Truth to guide you (John 16:13), and the truth of the Word to sanctify you (John 17:17) in order to dissipate Satan’s smoke screens.

We are deceived if we think our real battle is maintaining ourselves, our status quo, or manipulating situations in order to achieve OUR desired outcome.  It is only a smoke screen.  If we think it is an impossible relationship we are battling when really it is our lack of forgiveness, pride, jealousy, or sloppy appraisal of self-worth, it is only a smoke screen created by the enemy to confuse us.  Clarity comes when we maintain a tenacity towards trusting Jesus as well as maintaining an unrelenting faithfulness in Him.

Are there any smoke screens in your life you have been putting up with far too long?  Allow the brilliant light of God to break through the smoke screen of lies that seep up through the pit of hell and tolerate it no longer.

In His grace,

Amanda

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Jesus Christ And A Borrowed Donkey

“Look, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”  Matthew 21:5

Yes, our King Himself came into Jerusalem riding on the back of a borrowed donkey.  Truth be told the donkey was His anyway by the very fact that He was conspicuously involved in the creation of all things and all things belong to Him.  Thank you, Jesus.  The NLT’s wording describes it this way, “Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey.”  Yes, he came into Jerusalem and as sure as the sun rises He is coming back again but this time riding on a horse and to retrieve His own.

Zion’s King had a meekness and outward poverty when he made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He, who owns all things shunned covetousness and ambition and even the pride of life to demonstrate, “One’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions”  (Luke 12:15).  Instead, we find the abundant life IN HIM (John 10:10).  I saw a sticker on a car the other day that intrigued me.   It said, “You are not what you own.”  Greed motivating us to seek after things to own in this life will end up owning us in one way or another.  But if we seek to own the truths of the excellencies of Christ in our heart we will have owned love, the greatest of things that will remain forever.

The disciples borrowed the donkey with the owner’s consent and brought it to Jesus.  Are you willing to allow your possessions to be used for the cause of Christ?  Let’s not cling to the things of this world and be unwilling to part with them if they serve Christ.  The only thing we should be clinging to with the tight fist of hope is the love of the Lord for there we will surely find the Greatest of treasures.

In His grace,

Amanda

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