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Dig Deep

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“I will show you what someone is like who comes to Me, hears My words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built.” Luke 6:47-48

Greetings fellow sojourners!

These few sentences provide a great deal of vital information. Firstly, Jesus is telling us how to respond to him: Come, hear, and act. All three of these initiatives are essential, and we will not be adequately equipped if we neglect any of them.

Secondly, when we come to Jesus, hear His words, and then act on His words it will cause us to be firmly rooted, built up, and established (Colossians 2:6). A casual approach to Him will not satisfy the longing each of us has within us to know and to be deeply known. Ensure your roots go deep to the foundation rock which not only will cause you to be reliable and robust but will allow you to be richly nourished.

And thirdly, we must acknowledge that the floods WILL come. Just because our roots are grounded IN Him does not mean the world’s climate changes. Storms occur. The wording says WHEN the flood comes, not IF the flood comes. Our advantage is when the flood (trials) comes in so heavy and from every direction, surrounding and crashing against you on all sides, you WILL NOT be shaken BECAUSE you are built on Him.

So what does digging deep look like? We are told The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that is buried (Matthew 13:44). If something is hidden, then it is concealed and requires an effort to be found. I suspect, therefore, it escapes the notice of the lazy and unwise ‘dogs’ and ‘pigs’ who do nothing more than trample (treat with insulting neglect) the treasure under their feet (Matthew 7:6). The Word is available to anyone desiring to know the Truth. However, for those who desire to know the Lord deeply, it will require ‘digging’ into the Word to discover the exquisite beauty and great value of this hidden treasure.

In His grace,

Amanda

The Essence of Transformation

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“For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart — by the Spirit, not the letter. That man’s praise is not from men but from God.” Romans 2:28-29

Grace and peace to you fellow sojourners!

The verse in Romans says a person is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.  A person is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart by the Spirit, not by the written code (Romans 2:28-29, Col 3:11). Israel overlooked the spiritual significance of circumcision, focused instead on the external ritual, and thus failed to boast in the Lord alone. Therefore, they forfeited their right to the title, “The Circumcision.”

You and I benefited from that misunderstanding so let’s not start wagging fingers and shaking heads. Instead, let’s see where we perhaps go wrong in our thinking. After all, aren’t we advised to remove the plank from our eye SO THAT we may see clearly enough to assist in the removal of the splinter from someone else’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5)?

When we equate beneficial Christian behavior such as attending church, wearing the right attire, having the right hairstyle, drinking the right beverage, speaking the proper vocabulary, and mingling with the right crowd in and of itself as proof of our Christianity aren’t we also focusing on external ‘codes’?  In other words, if we are aligning our behavior with an assumed ‘code’ (what Christians are supposed to do) by focusing on our outward behavior instead of internally submitting to the Spirit for authentic inward reformation how truly different are we from the circumcised Jew in this Romans example?

The church of Jesus Christ is the true Israel (Gal. 6:16), heir of all the rights and privileges belonging to it (Romans 9:24-26, 1 Peter 2:9-10), including the right to the title ‘circumcision.’  

When the FOCUS is on the outward display, the resulting consequence will be a neglect of the inner devotion and dedication of the heart. As the above verse states, a person is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly. A person is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart by the Spirit, not because of a code. If we claim to be a Christian because the ‘code’ says we must maintain certain outward behaviors, yet we have not allowed the Spirit to circumcise our heart, we are not a true Christian.

Paul criticized the Jews precisely because they turned from the inner spiritual worship of God from the heart (Psalm 51:17) to an external religion of ritual, where human practices replaced divine commands and where people honored God with their lips but not their hearts (Matthew 15:8-9). Fellow sojourners, let’s be courageous enough to recognize where this exists in our lives and resolve to stop the charade.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me Your Spirit which enables me both to desire and to work out Your good purpose (Philippians 2:13). I do not want to neglect the dedication of my heart to You. I understand my outward behavior alone does not signal my allegiance to Christ. The inward transformation is the essence of how I will worship and honor You with my heart in a way that is authentic and pleasing to You.

In His grace,

Amanda

Yes, But Do Even Better

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“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:8

Grace and peace to you fellow sojourners! Perhaps some of your thoughts that spring from the above verse are, ‘What qualities?’ and ‘Being useless and unfruitful are tags I certainly don’t want.’ An exhortation frequently seen in Paul’s letters was, ‘You are doing well but do even better.’ It is not to say what we do is never good enough, but view it as an encouragement to NEVER stop improving and even excelling in what we undertake for the Lord.

We are told that the qualities emphasized in 2 Peter are to be supplemented by our EVERY effort. We give our best to God. He does not get our seconds nor our left-overs. If you feel you are already giving your best to the Lord, prayerfully consider how you can do even better. Consider things like how the impact of sin, distractions, fear, bitterness, and even lack-luster enthusiasm, hinders your impact for Christ.

“Earnestness is the sentiment, of which diligence is the expression” (MacLaren’s Expositions). When we determine to make every effort, we act with diligence knowing Christian growth will not be possible unless we put our mind to it. We must have fervor if we desire growth. 

Think of a supplement as something that completes or enhances something else when added to it. We are told to supplement:

  • our faith with goodness
  • goodness with knowledge
  • knowledge with self-control
  • self-control with endurance
  • endurance with godliness
  • godliness with brotherly affection
  • and brotherly affection with love

I desire to encourage you. I implore you not to be content with the status-quo.  An everything-is-fine mentality will hinder your motivation to ‘increase’ and ‘supplement’ your faith. Lord, it is You who is working in me enabling me to be steadfast, immovable, and always excelling in Your work (1 Corinthians 15:58). Yes, I desire to supplement my faith in the ways you have outlined for me Lord so that I will not be useless or unfruitful. I earnestly desire to supplement my faith with diligence. I need Your help. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

The Disunity of Edification and Criticism

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Paul and his companion strengthened the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith…Acts 14:22

There is an alarming discrepancy that exists when someone possesses the Spiritual gift of edification yet frequently submits to the human workings of fault-finding. If criticism is present in your heart, the composition of your words will sound harsh and jarring, and a lack of harmony will exist between you and the person you are speaking with. Lord, please help us to see this truth.

The Spiritual gift of exhortation is manifested when we encourage others. What agreement does righteousness have with unrighteousness? In other words, what compatibility exists with the Spirit of exhortation and the person who instead chooses to yield to their natural inclination to critique? Lord, I desire to see and choose Your ways even when my thoughts deceive me and appear wiser.

Fellow sojourners, do not allow yourself to speak harsh and jarring words because you think you are aptly teaching someone or because you are letting your pride be stroked by showing someone else they are not that great. Instead, since you live, live for Christ (Philippians 1:21). Allow your heart and mind to be saturated by His love and submit your mouth to His glory. Be driven by exhorting someone in truth and lifting their spirit (Acts 9:31, Phil. 2:1, 2 Cor. 1:4-7) instead of tearing them down. Lord, I desire to submit my mouth for Your glory and not mine. I desire to edify others and show them their worth in the Kingdom by exhorting them in the Truth to the best of my ability. Amen. God bless you fellow sojourners.

In His grace,

Amanda