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True Believers are Luminaries

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Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Let your light shine before men. In other words, let the brilliant light of Jesus’ resurrection break forth through the very pores of your skin so that all may know that because of Jesus’ transforming effect on your heart you are fully equipped for His good works. Glory to God.

There are two ways you can consider the meaning of the word ‘shine.’ One is to manifest a bright light, especially by rays. This brings the sun to my mind. Since the sun provides our primary source of energy, life on earth would not exist if it were not for the sun. This bright star our earth revolves around shines with brilliance, and its rays reach down to earth, touching everything. Oh yes, the sun created by God holds a tiny resemblance to the Son of the Father. Eighty percent of the sun’s rays penetrate through clouds and fog. Expect the brilliant manifestation of God’s light in you to penetrate through the gloomiest, cloudy and foggy mind.

The relationship between the sun and earth also reminds me of our relationship with Jesus. We revolve around the Son; the Son does not revolve around us. We would not exist without Him. Just as we need the sun for energy, the energy for our strength to do good things comes from the Son (Ephesians 1:19, 6:10, Colossians 1:29, Hebrews 11:34, 1 Peter 4:11). Glory to God.

A second meaning for the word ‘shine’ is to perform very well. When we accomplish God’s good works, the brilliant light of God shines through us, and man can’t help but give glory to God.

Don’t grow weary in doing good (2 Thessalonians 3:13) sweet things because it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good (1 Peter 2:15). True believers are God’s luminaries, so go forth and SHINE! I enthusiastically say in advance, glory to God!

In His grace,

Amanda

Wisdom’s Beauty

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She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your words and about your wisdom is true. But I didn’t believe the reports until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, I was not even told half. Your wisdom and prosperity far exceed the report I heard. How happy are your men. How happy are these servants of yours, who always stand in your presence hearing your wisdom. May Yahweh your God be praised! 1 Kings 10:6-9a

The Queen of Sheba is to be commended. She too possessed the riches of this world but desired what she lacked ~ wisdom. The reports of Solomon’s wisdom awakened her heart, and she desired to know more. She was not content with sending an ambassador to inquire on her behalf because that would not satisfy her. She decided to make the difficult journey so that she could stand in his presence and hear his wisdom with her own ears. What she did not realize was the joy that would accompany such wisdom.

The queen had great riches but loved the wisdom of God more. She knew what she possessed was not enough to solve the complexities that faced her people. She needed more than she had to give. A storehouse of possessions will not satisfy when the true need is the wisdom of God to provide answers to the toughest problems, the light to shine on the darkest places, and the strength the untie the tightest knots. Lord, I too have heard reports about your wisdom but I am not satisfied with reports. I desire to experience it for myself.

We do not need to travel long distances to stand in the presence of Wisdom. But a sacrifice will need to be made. Do you desire His wisdom enough to lay down your own intellect, stomp it to the ground if need be and see it as folly? That will be a great sacrifice, indeed. He promised that if we desire wisdom, all we need to do is ask for it, and it will be given generously (James 1:5). Take the faith that God has given and cry out to the Lord for His wisdom. We need it desperately.

God’s wisdom blows away the clouds of this age’s uncertainty and ushers in the light of joy. Ask for it. Wisdom is a beautiful thing.

In His grace,

Amanda

The Baptism of the Spirit

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“I baptize you with water for repentance, but the One who is coming after me is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to remove His sandals. He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Matthew 3:11

Praise God for HIS good works! Stand in awe that His good works never cease operating (Ecclesiastes 3:14)! Jesus’ baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire is a miraculous event that continues to this day and we are blessed that we can behold it!

Two baptisms are presented here in this Matthew verse. The water baptism for repentance is done when a person is old enough to repent of their sins and they are motivated to do this by their new heart and right spirit. Have you turned from your sins and now follow Christ and His ways? This requires a daily walk of faith. This robust faith makes your life holy and your speech devout.

John then baptized the repentant believer by immersing them in water. John did not add any efficacy to the baptism itself as it was the repentant believer’s character and intention that was the defining element of the baptism. The same is true today.

The baptism with fire is the more important of the two baptisms, for the servant is the one who baptizes with water, but the mighty Master performs the other and not only that but the Holy Spirit. This Spirit-fire baptism purifies and refines. We can view the Old Testament to see how fire often has a purifying connotation (Isaiah 1:25, Zechariah 13:9, Malachi 3:2-3).

I love the conversation between the disciples who were walking toward Emmaus and unknowingly met and spoke to Jesus along the way. As they realized they had been speaking to Jesus, the evidence they presented to each other was, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:13-32)

Acts 1:5 and 11:16 uses the term “baptized in the Holy Spirit” and it implies an immersion in the life of the Spirit.  Acts 1:8 indicates that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a conscious experience of power, boldness, confidence, and victory over sin. Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is a real, life-changing experience. Christianity is not merely the performance of rituals and sacraments. It is the life-changing experience of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ.

Repent, trust Christ, open yourself to the power of his Spirit, be baptized in his name, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

May the Lord direct our heart to God’s love and Christ’s endurance,

Amanda

If Only You Would

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If only You would tear the heavens open and come down, so that mountains would quake at Your presence — as fire kindles the brushwood, and fire causes water to boil — to make Your name known to Your enemies, so that nations will tremble at Your presence! Isaiah 64:1-2

Is there anything worse than the absence of God? Sin drove Israel away, and now in their captivity and distress, there remains nothing but bitter sorrow as they desire for God to return. They want His appearing even if that means His tremendous power will accompany it. This mighty prayer is spoken by people desiring God to no longer be absent from them. It is a passionate outburst, “If only You would tear the heavens and come down!” May we have the same passion when we cry out to God for renewal in our own lives because we cannot tolerate lacking His magnificent presence for one-minute longer! What if that means He intends to level our prideful places as a raging fire races through dry and dead trees and brush cleaning out what should not remain.

God is an absent God to many of us. Our sins, our ingratitude, our unbelief, and carnal security have driven him away and now we mourn him. (Spurgeon). Yes, it may all appear peaceful now, but just as the heavens seem peaceful before the dark clouds of a storm blow in, the appearance of peace is not authentic peace unless the Lord’s peace is present. When the Lord is near, the mountains of pride and sin are leveled. The fire of God’s love kindles our heart ablaze so that no frigidity remains, not even a hint of lukewarmness. Our heart is kindled to repentance, prayer, and love. This response makes the enemy less influential, and the opponents of Christianity are able to witness the presence of the Lord. Come, Lord Jesus.

May the Lord direct our heart to God’s love and Christ’s endurance,

Amanda


Happy Days

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Take delight in the Lord. Psalm 37:4

Greetings fellow sojourners!

Even though God gave over 600 rules to the Israelites, he did not want them to merely do his bidding. He wanted them to enjoy him ~ like family. So God set up festivals for his people; a break from routine in order to reflect on all he had done for them. These were happy, holy days.

Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement was so serious that everyone fasted in preparation for it (Leviticus 16:1). On this Day, the high priest sacrificed a bull for his and his family’s sin before sacrificing a goat for the sins of God’s people. The Day of Atonement showed both the holiness of God and the mercy of God. All people need to have their sin forgiven. Jesus, the ultimate high priest, “entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).

Feast of Booths. Five days after the Day of Atonement, God wanted his people to celebrate for seven days (Exodus 23:16, 17; 34:22). During these days, the Israelites camped out in huts made from tree branches (Leviticus 23:33-44). The Feast of Booths was a time to recall how God had taken care of his people for the forty years they had lived in tents in the wilderness (Leviticus 23:43). Eventually, this celebration included a water-pouring ceremony, which pictured how God had provided water for his people in the wilderness. In John’s Gospel, Jesus stood up on the seventh day of the Feasts of Booths and announced that God has again provided life-giving water for his people. He says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. Now, this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive.” (John 7:37-39

Passover. The Passover celebrated the time when God rescued his people from Egypt. For this feast, families sacrificed a perfect lamb (Leviticus 23:5) and painted its blood on the top and sides of the doorway to their house (Exodus 12:22). During the week following Passover, Israel celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast reminded them of the kind of bread God’s people ate on the night they were delivered from slavery in Egypt. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ sacrificed his life as the ultimate Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). By giving his life, he rescued his people from eternal death.

Pentecost. This feast occurred seven weeks after Passover and celebrated the crops harvested at the end of the barley harvest (Leviticus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:16). The focus of this feast was thanking God for generously providing a bountiful harvest. God’s people also expressed their thanksgiving by providing for those in need (Deuteronomy 16:9-12). The New Testatment teaches that at Pentacost, fifty days after Jesus’s resurrection, God once again provided for his people. He didn’t provide just a harvest of grain to gather into barns, but a harvest of men and women gathered into his kingdom by his Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-11, 41).

May we all remember the wonderful works of the Lord and His amazing provision in our lives. When my natural eyes refuse to see, help me visualize the bountiful harvest You indeed have allotted me. Your provision always meets my every need.

May the Lord direct our heart to God’s love and Christ’s endurance,

Amanda