God Gives Grace To Endure

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power, is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Oh, the weaknesses of the flesh!  How our heart is so prone to wander and our resolve so susceptible to crumble when we allow ourself to ponder the greatness of our own opinion.  Help us Lord in our vast weakness that stretches ever before us; strengthen us with Your power.  You alone are our confidence and our very great reward.

Renew afresh in us Lord the truth that our weaknesses of the flesh are merely prime opportunities to allow the power of Christ to dwell richly in us!  By the sustaining grace of Christ alone will we find contentment alongside our distress.

Before we move too far forward let’s not allow the five opening words of this verse escape us.  “But He said to me.”  The Lord spoke, Paul listened.

“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.”  (Philippians 2:13)

We must know that it is God’s grace that enables us during times of distress to overcome our obstacles which keep us from His best.  If we are left strictly to our own ability we will surely shipwreck our faith and run aground.  God works in us and gives us the desire to push on and through life’s distresses so that His good purposes are achieved in and through us.  Oh, that or heart may behold His glory in this!  He is for our good and equips us so that His goodness in us triumphs over the inherent weakness of our flesh.  When we are tempted to despair it is God who strengthens our fundamentally weak flesh and fortifies us yet again to contend for the faith while rooted ever so securely in Christ Jesus.  It is God who enables and fuels our desire to be better, to do better, and to keep trying.  His good purpose is to sanctify our souls so that we become more like Christ with each passing day.

Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.

If we agree that our heart is prone to wander and to leave the God we love, as the words of this hymn suggest in Come, Thy Fount of Every Blessing, then we must understand that neither will we be prone to steadfastness in our difficult relationships and circumstances.  We must work diligently because if our fickle heart is prone to wander from the God we love then why would it be any different in our earthly relationships and when faced with distressing trials?  It will truly only be easier to shrink back.

When the going gets tough do we choose to toughen our fleshly resolve to defend our opinions and allow our heart to wander away?  When trials shake us to the core do we submit to them knowing God’s grace is our sufficiency or do we wiggle and wrangle our way out of them not desiring for one second to see what He might be showing us about our own misguided opinions and desires?  We need Your help, Lord.

God gives us the grace to endure because if we allow it, all things can be purposeful.  He has the absolute power to turn all things towards His goodness.  Will you allow His will to become yours?  Submit to Him and He absolutely will lead your wandering heart back to His love.

In His powerful grace,

Amanda

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Be The Salt and Make Christ Visible

“You are the salt of the earth.  You are the light of the world.”  Matthew 5:13a, 14a

Greetings fellow sojourners!  One thing I am learning while on this walk of faith is to not be satisfied with the status quo.  It helps to push yourself to love more today than yesterday, yield yourself more fully to Christ more today than yesterday, strive to lean into the truth of the Word more today than yesterday, and so forth.  You must direct your mind to it if you intend for it to be accomplished.

During our stay under the sun, we are to be salt to the earth and light to the world.  We are here to be a blessing.  As Christ’s disciples, we are to be the ‘salt’ and “to circulate among and purify the corrupted mass of mankind by heavenly doctrines and holy examples” (Word Study Dictionary) and we are to do this by way of wisdom and prudence.  Think of it as seasoning those around us with the savor of Christ.  Salt keeps things pure and saves from corruption (it is the agent by which meat is preserved).   If we merely profess our religion it is fit for nothing.  As the rest of the verse states, “if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty?  It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.”

The word “taste” in this verse implies someone acting as a simpleton; acting passively as if they did not know what to do.  If salt loses its taste it no longer remains for the purpose for which it exists.  The antonym of the Greek word moraino which is translated as ‘taste’ here is sophroneo and means to act with a sound mind.  So instead of refraining from seasoning creation with the savor of Christ as if we did not even know how, we behave with the sound mind God gave us and salt the earth as He intended for us to do.

Chemically, there is more to light than what we can see.  With this in mind, illuminate Christ knowing in faith there is much more happening in the spiritual realm than what your fleshly eyes can behold.  Salt effectively and illuminate boldly fellow sojourner – you can do it.

In His grace,

Amanda

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Mars Hill

“For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.”  Acts 17:28

Greetings fellow sojourners.  You are precious in the eyes of the Lord!

Not long ago my kids participated in speech and debate tournaments and one of the categories was Mars Hill Impromptu.  Its intent was to train students to connect the current culture and Christianity in order to point people towards Christ.  They were required to identify the universal themes contained in various classic and popular artistic genres (books, movies, songs, etc.) and discuss the relationship of those themes to the Biblical truths of Christianity and God’s work in the world. The name of this event was taken from the Apostle Paul’s speech in Athens (recorded in Acts 17) when he used Greek cultural ideas to find common ground in order to make a connection for them to Christ (Acts 17:16-34).

Mars Hill was the meeting place for the Areopagus Court (see Acts 17:22-34), the highest court in Greece for civil, criminal, and religious matters.  Even under Roman rule, Mars Hill was an important meeting place where philosophy, religion, and the law was discussed.  (The picture below shows the plaque tribune at Mars Hill commemorating Paul’s efforts in apologetics.)

During this time, the Greeks had constructed an altar to an ‘unknown god’ (Acts 17:23).  Paul used this altar and the Greek’s religious idolatry as a launching point (Mars Hill Impromptu example) to proclaim to them the truth about the one true God and how they could be reconciled to Him.

I remember learning that possibly the best way to speak the Gospel message to an unbeliever would not be by proclaiming the authority of Scripture because it absolutely held no jurisdiction for an unbeliever and would, therefore, be meaningless.  The Gospel becomes the authority to someone only after accepting the Lordship of Christ Jesus in their own personal life.  Until then, possibly the best ways to bring someone into a conversation about Christ is to relate their current circumstances to Biblical truths as in the Mars Hill example.  In other words, meet people where they are in their life and communicate to them how the answers to life’s universal themes can be solved by Biblical truths.  This then leads to a defense of the Christian faith; or apologetics.

Can you think of a few current cultural issues in your sphere of influence which you could speak to someone in a Mars Hill fashion?  For instance, which moral hot topics can you speak about while reinforcing your responses with the truth of Scripture?  (God’s love should always be the foundation.)  Maybe such topics as doctor-assisted suicide, gay and lesbian relations, abortion, and divorce are a few topics for you to consider.  I sincerely hope this leads you to God’s word as you think through and investigate future conversations you might have as the Lord opens doors for you to share His grace with others.

In His love and grace,

Amanda

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