A Joyous Noel

Greetings fellow sojourners and a joyous noel to you!

“The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”          Luke 1:28

The angel went to her and told her words God wanted her to know.  What a powerful proclamation.  Mary is highly favored (charitoō) because she is the recipient of God’s grace.  What an altogether lovely and unique grace which was bestowed upon Mary!  Perhaps what you did not know is that Ephesians 1:6 tells us “to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored (charitoō) us with in the Beloved.”  This favoring grace spoken of in Ephesians towards you and me is the same Greek word used to describe the grace bestowed upon Mary in the Luke verse.  Incredible!

Some scholars suggest Luke implies that a certain grace was found in Mary’s character.   While this might be true, the comparable verse in Ephesians communicates that the grace in view here is that which is given all believers apart from any merit of their own.  Amen.

When we sing the song or wish someone a joyous noel, we are following Gabriel’s example by announcing good news.  This good news is the forgiveness of sins for all who have faith in Jesus Christ of Nazareth!   The angel Gabriel announced to Mary the coming of Jesus and his first recorded word to her was “Greetings!” or “Rejoice!”  (Luke 1:28).  We rejoice because into our less than perfect and even broken circumstances we swing the doors of our homes wide and welcome in the Savior who has power over everything.

Rejoice in the Lord brethren because you are highly favored.  Yes, again I say, “Rejoice!”

A Joyous Noel to you,

Amanda

If you like this post please share!

The Righteousness Faith Brings

Gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of your own, but one that is through faith in Christ — the righteousness from God based on faith.                          (Philippians 3:9)

Grace and peace to you fellow sojourners!

I love this verse in Philippians.  Let’s consider this summation: 1) be found IN Christ, 2) don’t consider yourself righteous based on YOUR evaluation of your works, and 3) God makes you righteous THROUGH your faith in Christ.

Be found in Christ.

If you are in Christ you were given grace before the world was created (2 Timothy 1:9), God chose you before creation (Ephesians 1:4), God loves you with an inseparable love (Romans 8:38-39), you were redeemed and forgiven of all your sins (Ephesians 1:7), you are justified before God and the righteousness of God in Christ is assigned to you (2 Corinthians 5:21), you are a new creation ( 2 Corinthians 5:17), and a child of God (1 John 3:1).   Being found in Christ means you know these statements to be true in your life (as well as other Biblical truths) and you desire to live your life based on the reality of these truths.

Don’t consider yourself righteous based on your evaluation of your works.

Sojourners, we must decisively arrive at the decision that our pride will no longer desire (knowingly or unknowingly) to stand before the Judge and attempt to present any sort of claim as to why we should receive God’s favor.  Any self-reliance and self-proclaimed goodness we desire to offer God is inadequate at best.

God makes you righteous through your faith in Christ.

We must know we will stand before Him strictly because we are IN Christ; holding tightly to the righteousness freely given to us by God through our faith in Jesus Christ.  Faith is God’s appointed means of applying every one of His saving benefits.

God is not asking for our good works; he asks for our faith (Genesis 15:6).  If we choose to declare ourselves righteous based on our works than we have also declared ourselves judge and have dared to redeem ourselves as blameless based on what we have decided to be important; thus affirming our self-righteousness with astigmatic vision.

 “My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death”   (Philippians 3:10).

“The participle ‘being conformed’ is present, and implies a process that is going on and will continue through life — not an act like justification, simultaneous with the exercise of faith. ‘Being conformed’ means being cast in the same form, being brought into such a community and likeness that one sketch, outline, shape, will represent both.” (Dean Alford biblehub.com)

We are “being conformed” to Christ’s death when we die to sin, as he died for sin; and the world is crucified to us, and we to the world, by the cross of Christ.  This behavior will carry us through all the difficulties experienced in this life.  We will not attain it through our own merit and ideas of righteousness, but only through the merit and righteousness found in Jesus Christ.

Prayer:

Thank you, Lord, for the righteousness You give me through faith in Jesus Christ.  Your salvation is perfect, glorious, and sufficient.  Any work of my own that I consider righteous is defective, impure, and entirely insufficient to save my soul.  I depend on you entirely.  My desire is to be found IN Christ.  In the all-surpassing name of Jesus, I pray, amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

If you like this post please share!

Jesus’ Caution

Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit.  Matthew 7:15-16

Grace and peace to you fellow sojourners!  I am blessed to be on this pilgrimage with you during our journey in time.  The Lord has most assuredly given us His grace and peace to navigate victoriously along our path; even through the valleys.  Therefore, when He has something to say regarding a caution, we want to heed His warning and pay close attention.

This Matthew verse highlights a few things to me.  Firstly, is the ‘false prophet.’  If we are speaking of the office of the prophet this person would foretell future events, including declarations, appeals, and warnings based on divine influence.  Prophecy is something any believer may exercise as telling forth God’s Word.  A Christian is to seriously consider the forthtelling (speaking the Word of God into a situation for edification, guidance, and instruction) spoken by the prophet.  The chief ministry of the prophet is to call people to mercy and justice, to obedience and fidelity to God and His Word, therefore, if someone is suggesting an alternative or a way to avoid obedience to God that should trigger a caution flag within you.

Secondly, there is entirely a reason the ‘wolf’ is not attempting to come in among us without a sheep’s disguise.  He means to mingle amid us and ‘look’ just like us in order to not be detected. False teaching is anything taught which is contrary to the instruction of Jesus.  So if we receive counsel not to forgive, to justify ourselves as better than someone else, or not to have gratitude because things are owed to us, we need to beware of that counsel because if we take these approaches to life, we have fallen prey to the ravages of false teaching.

Thirdly, we must persistently discern.  If we have not equipped ourselves with the truth from the Word, we will not be able to discern truth from a lie, or even how to recognize good fruit.   If we only judge by the outer coat and assume ravaging wolves never appear as sheep, we will be misled. Once we accept falsehood in our heart, it has the ability to destroy. Truth is the means by which we will be restored.  All false teaching no matter how cleverly it bleats will ultimately ravage every sheep that possess ill-prepared shrewdness. (It is interesting to note the word ‘ravaging’ in this verse and its meaning which is to extort or to steal.  We have been told in John 10:10 that the enemy’s plan, among other things, is to come among us and steal. (John 10:10))

There is a reason some do not so easily detect false teaching.  It is among us, and we do not even know because from the outside of things it looks just like us, behaves just like us, and does not stand out from us.   Another false teaching clue will be dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims.  The wolf in sheep’s clothing will hide malicious intent under the guise of kindliness.

Finally, “We will recognize them by their fruit.”  The wolf in sheep’s clothing is used to describe someone playing a role contrary to their real character with whom contact is dangerous because of its predatory nature.  Eventually, however, the wolf’s essential nature shows through the disguise, and this is the fruit we are to recognize.

The book of Revelation gives us an example of this ravaging wolf.  The lawless mystery religion, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT (Revelation 17:5) shows it appearing with “two horns like a lamb” (presenting itself as Christ-like) but speaking “like a dragon” (Revelation 13:11). The “dragon” in Revelation is Satan the devil, who deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9). What we see in this coming event is an extremely powerful “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Prayer:

Everyday Lord I desire to draw closer to you.  Thank you for Your Word that not only brings life to my mind but cautions me regarding the troubles I will encounter in this world.  I am grateful for your abundant mercy and grace.  Lord, I turn to you, I trust you, I wait for you, teach me your paths and guide me all of my days.  In the mighty name of Jesus, I pray, amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

If you like this post please share!

Little Hinges Swing Big Doors

Grace and peace to you fellow sojourners!

You most likely have heard the phrase, “little hinges swing big doors.”  Imagine the two hinges are labeled ‘thank’ and ‘you.’  Those two ‘little’ words are the very hinges that will swing mighty doors in your life.

Perhaps you are in a season when your heart feels heavier with disappointment, weariness, and stress than with the lighter feeling of gratitude.  Thankfully, our minds are not an out-of-control thinking machine with no navigator.  As the guide to your intellect, you get to tell yourself what to think.  If despondent thoughts enter your mind, you have the power to not allow those thoughts momentum by halting their progression.  Instead, replace your disheartened thoughts with feelings of appreciation.  This is not to say your current distressing situation is not real, but we must manage our thinking in order to be overcomers.  A heart of gratitude allows those hinged doors to swing your heart, and other’s, wide open.

Paul speaks of the importance of growing in spiritual maturity, and one of the results is overflowing gratitude (Colossians 2:7).  Being thankful is a small hinge that shows the ‘old self,’ the enemy, and the world that by the power of the Holy Spirit you intend to designate gratitude as a watchman of your soul.   If our heart chooses to not respond to God with gratitude, our thinking will become nonsense, and our mind will be darkened (Romans 1:21).  Choosing not to respond to God does not make our decision neutral; choosing not to choose is still choosing.  In order to be the watchman of our soul, we must guard ourselves with gratitude.

I have included over 20 verses below for you to use to kindle and fuel your thankful heart.  Please read through these verses.  They WILL bless you.

“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” Psalm. 7:17

“I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalms 9:1

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.” Psalms 28:7

“I will praise the name of God with song, and shall magnify Him with thanksgiving.” Psalms 69:30

“O Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”  Psalms 95:1-3

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Psalms 100:4-5

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  Psalms 103:1-5

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”  Psalms 107:1

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.”  Psalms 118:29

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalms 136:1-5

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”  Colossians 2:7

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”  Colossians 3:15

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”  Colossians 4:2

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  James 1:17

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  Philippians 4:6

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Ephesians 5:20

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”  Hebrews 12:28-29

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”  2 Corinthians 9:15

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.”  Revelations 11:17

“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen!”  Revelations 7:12

Prayer:

Thank you, Lord, that by the power of the Spirit I can harness my will and say, “Not my will but Yours.”  I choose to guard my mouth against flippant, bitter, foul, and critical speech.  I opt instead to guard my mouth with gratitude.  I desire to speak with sincere appreciation regarding my fellow sojourners and my current life situation.  In the mighty name of Jesus, I pray, amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

If you like this post please share!