The Marvel of Faith

“Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out before You day and night.  May my prayer reach Your presence; listen to my cry.”  Psalm 88:1-2

Greetings fellow sojourners.  Have you been in a season when you have known so much heartache that it seems to be your normal?  Does your heart long to be unyoked from the heavy weight of disappointment, sorrow, and grief?  The marvel of faith is that we can recognize that the darkness of despair is not to be our standard.  When despair calls to us, we answer by calling on the Lord even from the depth of our anguish.  Faith empowers us to stand in the resolute knowledge that the Lord is our only hope for deliverance from every one of our tribulations.

Share your life with God.  When you are preoccupied with your suffering, speak to the Lord concerning it and look for His remedy.

In the midst of tribulation, faith holds on to the “God of my salvation,” or the “God who saves.”  God has promised our deliverance.  I think we occasionally get stuck in the dream method by which God “ought to” deliver us, and then we become crestfallen when our rescue does transpire the way we conceived it might.  The promise we have before us is not the way in which God will deliver but that He will.

Never forget He has saved you from your former distresses!  Therefore I desire Lord, to not devise ways in my heart in which deliverance from my despair should be experienced but instead to look to You as The One who shapes (Isaiah 64:8), sees all things (Hebrews 4:13), loves me to the depths (John 3:16), and has the power to change anything (Matthew 19:26)!  My confidence rests in You!  Your love for me will cause the quick exit of any dismal thought regarding the conclusions of my trials and tribulations.  I am a child of Your love, not Your wrath.  I know that every trial is suited for me to bring things to the surface which do not belong.  Your love will then skim it all off.  I trust You and know You love me.

I cry out to you day and night because You are faithful.  May my prayer reach your presence.  In Jesus name, I pray, amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

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Lessons from the Fig Tree

Every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.  Zechariah 3:10

Beloved of the Lord, if we are going to invite our neighbors to come and sit under our spiritual fig tree and receive spiritual refreshing might we dare consider what is required to tend to the fig tree to make it appealing enough for others to want to come and sit beneath?  Let’s take a look at the care of the fig tree and draw some spiritual applications.  The fig was the third tree mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 3:7) after the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9) so we know it was in the Garden of Eden. In Biblical passages, to sit under the fig tree (as well as the vine) is the epitome of prosperity, safety, peace, and wellbeing.

The fig tree is a deciduous, fast-growing, tree that produces wonderfully sweet fruit.  Like most fruiting plants, the fig tree must receive plenty of nourishment from the sun.  Before these trees can begin producing fruit, they must first achieve their proper growth.  If you own a fig tree and decide to cut it back to keep it small, your fig will not produce fruit.  Because it is drought tolerant, it implies it must have deep roots.  Another thought to consider is if your fig tree receives significant damage due to a harsh winter, it will not produce fruit.

On to the big topic of pruning.  If a fig tree is going to produce good fruit, it cannot escape pruning.   This should occur every winter, and after the coldest part of the winter has passed. There are four things to consider when pruning your fig tree.  Firstly, the branches underneath that spread out from the bottom never get enough light for them to fruit so they must be removed.

Secondly, the root suckers that tunnel underground and pop up around the perimeter of the tree need to be cut off because they do not fruit well and end up taking energy from the plant needlessly.

Thirdly, any old branch and especially dead and diseased branches need to be pruned all the way to the base of the plant.

Finally, any part of the plant you notice that did not fruit should be marked so that you may prune that branch in winter because it never will fruit.  Any energy directed to branches that do not fruit will reduce the amount of fruit on branches that will fruit.

Spiritually, the Lord intends for us to produce good, not worthless fruit (Isaiah 5:2). For this to occur, we will require ‘pruning’ (John 15:2) and nurturing similar to the fig tree.  Have you considered pruning to be a positive event in your life (Isaiah 5:6)?  We must grow in the Lord (Ephesians 4:13,15) and receive plenty of nourishment from the Son (John 15:4) if we intend to produce good fruit.  Do your roots go deep in the Lord or do you need continual assurances? When fierce trials come about do you seek the shelter of the Lord or do you allow your soul to receive the frost-bitten effects of the harshest cold the fiercest person or trial can dish out?  If you do not seek the Lord’s nurturing shelter (Psalm 5:11, 27:5, 31:20, 55:8, 61:4, 119:14, 121:5, 142:5), your fruit will bear the marks.

Just as any branch on the fig tree lacking sufficient sunlight must be removed, we too must remain in the Son if we intend to produce fruit (John 15:4).  Fig tree branches, not fruiting well must be removed because they diminish resources from the good branches.  We too must not allow our energy to be expended in fruitless or sour endeavors but instead be focused on fruitful efforts that bring glory to God.  Therefore, any ‘branch’ in us that does not ‘fruit’ at the expected time should no longer receive our energies.

Prayer:

Thank you, Lord, for equipping me with the ability to offer spiritual refreshing to my neighbor. Your word says that the one who delights in Your instruction will be like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither.  I desire my fruit to be life for those around me.  In Jesus name, I pray, amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

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God’s Promises are Irrevocable

Greetings fellow sojourners!  Salvation is an intensely personal matter, but it is also intended to be shared.  How else will someone know the excellent value of eternal things if you do not share them?  Train your mind to participate with the Lord to obtain a fiercely beating heart for His purposes; as it is from this overflow that we will effortlessly speak of divine things.

It is through God’s promises that he reveals his eternal purposes to which he is unchangeably committed.  These promises are, however, conditional upon obedience on the part of believers.

He is absolutely trustworthy.  God, who swears by himself because it is impossible for him to lie (Hebrews 6:13-18), gives us the hope of eternal life which he promised before time began (Titus 1:2).

He is unchanging.  The Lord has sworn an oath and will not take it back (Psalm 110:4).  I, Yahweh, have not changed (Malachi 3:6).  And with Him, there is no variation or shadow cast by turning (James 1:17).

He has the power and will to fulfill his promises.  The word that comes from his mouth will not return to him empty, but it will accomplish what he pleases and will prosper in what he sends it to do (Isaiah 55:11).  Abraham himself was entirely convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform (Roman 4:21).

He is faithful in keeping all his promises.  None of the good promises the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed. Everything was fulfilled (Joshua 21:45).  Joshua himself testified that none of the good promises the Lord made had failed; everything was fulfilled (Joshua 23:14).  Solomon also testified that not one of all the good promises the Lord made through His servant Moses had failed  (1 Kings 8:56).  The Lord is faithful in all His words (Psalms 145:13 so let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

His promises stem from his goodness and glory.  His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and virtue. By these He has given us exceedingly great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires (2 Peter 1:3-4).

Thank you, Lord, for revealing your glorious majesty and wonderful works to me.  I will declare your greatness.  Your compassion rests on all you have made.  You help all who fall and raise up all who are oppressed.  My mouth will declare your praises.  Let every living thing praise your holy name!  In the name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

 

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Be Tamed in Christ

Greetings mighty warriors of the living God!

Have you ever considered the differences between the wild and the tamed horse? Let’s prayerfully consider the application in our lives.   Most people would agree a tamed horse is a gentle horse. One of the fruits of being yielded to the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) is gentleness. It is God’s will that you are amazingly strong in the Lord yet beautifully gentle in spirit at the same time! This type of tenderness suggests your will is brought under strict self-control by yielding to His Spirit. How divine. There is a precious sister in our group who makes her living working with horses and with people who desire to learn to ride them. She mentioned that the horse suitable for riding has been tamed (broken) and has been brought under the rider’s command because the horse trusts the rider. Do you believe the gentle Master in all areas of your life enough to deliver your stubborn will under His complete authority, like the tamed horse? (As you know, His will for your life has been laid out in Scripture.)

Have you ever witnessed wild horses or seen a video of them? What comes to mind? A wild horse has limited uses; it ultimately does what it wants and is driven to be its own master. The tamed horse retains all its magnificent power, and gorgeous beauty yet has been skillfully brought under the loving control of its master which makes it perfectly suitable for us. Because of this, these remarkable creatures have become adored, trusted, and wildly admired. What about you? Do you sense the Lord evaluating your character as one that needs taming or one that is suitable to receive the slightest command from the most trusted and adored Master, which always makes you available for His Kingdom purposes?

If your will is ‘wild’ what action would be required to make the necessary modification to be perfectly suitable for the most magnificent Master? Are you willing to do what it takes?

Here are two questions you might want to consider.

(1) When you agree with the Word of God what does that stir? Answer: The Spirit residing in you. Do you understand the effects of that?

(2) When you agree with the word that originates from the flesh what does that stir?   Answer: ______________ .

Which ‘word’ do you find yourself most frequently agreeing with? Remember, when we agree with a ‘word’ we repeat it – either with the voice of our mouth or with the voice in our head. Live intentionally fellow sojourners because you are Divinely Inspired and Victoriously Anointed.

In His grace,
Amanda

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Whatever is, and if There is any

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things.”  Philippians 4:8

This verse, right here, is extremely practical.  I will restate the obvious in order to make a point:

WHATEVER is true

WHATEVER is honorable

WHATEVER is just

WHATEVER is pure

WHATEVER is lovely

WHATEVER is commendable

IF THERE IS ANY moral excellence

IF THERE IS ANY praise

Whatever you can find concerning a difficult situation or a problematic person to be true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable and if there is any moral excellence or praise DWELL on those things.  Why?  Because these are the noble things, these are the things God sees as highly valuable.  If you can only see a fraction of honor choose to dwell on that fraction as opposed to the chunk that is dishonorable.  If you see only a fraction of lovely and a whole lot of ugly dwell on that tiny bit of lovely.  If there is ANYTHING you can give praise to, give it.

It may seem remarkably easy to notice the lousy attributes of a person or situation because those can seem to stand out like a spotlight on the darkest of nights but to look past the blaring elements and see the lovely takes an exceptional kind inner strength.  The kind of drive that comes from a life grounded in humility.  Another benefit of seeing the ‘whatever’ and ‘if there is any’ will not only assist you in taking note of the good in others, but it will help you tremendously when your circumstances seem bleak.

If I feel as though I have been mistreated or not valued by someone, it is easy for me to keep staring at the hurt which then causes me to spiral into negative thinking and disparaging thoughts.  If, however, I choose to LOOK for the ‘whatevers’ I can cling to those positive things.  While clutching these godly attributes, I can pray with a heart full of thanksgiving while clinging to the buoy of that one good thing while in the still, the current, or the avalanche.

The appeal is so vital that we can find another similar adage by turning back two chapters.  “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal.” (Philippians 2:1-2)

Words matter to God.  In Genesis 1:2,  God did not curse the darkness when it covered the surface of the ocean, He merely said, “Let there be light.”  We do not have to be amazed by the audacity of the darkness we merely copy God.  In the face of darkness, He proclaimed light.  It is all about perspective.  When Paul and  Silas were in prison, bound by chains and suffering the sting of a beating they choose the attitude of worshipping God instead of railing about how servants of God should be receiving honor instead of shame.  The result of their viewpoint brought freedom, even though they had no idea it would. The abused simply chose to view their perspective through the lens of holiness as opposed to interpreting through the lens of human nature.

God tells us life and death are held in the power of the tongue.  Do you choose to curse the darkness that surrounds you or do you decide to speak God’s word in the midst of that darkness?  It is ENTIRELY about your perspective.  Do you prefer to see the ‘whatever’ and ‘if there is any’?  The outlook is yours to determine.  It certainly does not mean it will be easy or will not come without cost, but absolutely will mean life and death to you.

Thank you, Lord, for Your Word.  You are faithful, and You will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able, but with the temptation, You will also provide a way of escape so that I am able to bear it.  I choose Your perspective when I am in the midst of darkness.  I prefer Your viewpoint when I am tempted to despair.  You are my escape when darkness closes in.  I choose to praise You in the midst of darkness.  In the name of Jesus, I pray and believe, amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

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