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

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

Good Fruit or Sour Grapes?

 I will sing about the one I love, a song about my loved one’s vineyard: The one I love had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He broke up the soil, cleared it of stones, and planted it with the finest vines. He built a tower in the middle of it and even dug out a winepress there. He expected it to yield good grapes, but it yielded sour grapes. So now, residents of Jerusalem and men of Judah, please judge between Me and My vineyard. What more could I have done for My vineyard than I did? Why, when I expected a yield of good grapes, did it yield worthless grapes? Now I will tell you what I am about to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge, and it will be consumed; I will tear down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland. It will not be pruned or weeded; thorns and briers will grow up. I will also give orders to the clouds that rain should not fall on it.   Isaiah 5:1-6

Greetings fellow sojourners.  God loves you!

We see how God cares for his people in this instance of him tending his vineyard.  He prepares numerous benefits to provide for her prosperity, hoping to be rewarded with good fruit.  To his dismay, He discovered his vineyard yielded only sour grapes.  Can you see applications of this verse in your own life?

The hill upon which His vineyard was planted was fertile and was bestowed it with the finest vines.  He broke up the soil and cleared it of stones.  He even built a watchtower for protection and dug a winepress.  The Hebrew word translated ‘watchtower’ is the same word translated ‘tower’ in Proverbs 18:10 to indicate the strength and protection of Yahweh’s name, “The name of Yahweh is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are protected.”

The Lord asked, “What more could I have done for My vineyard than I did?”  In His judgment, among other things, He determined it would no longer be pruned.  Do you recall from John 15:2 that branches remaining in Him He ‘prunes’ so that they will produce more fruit?  Submitting our ‘branches’ to the Lord for pruning is a blessing according to the Isaiah verse and we see that as a result of His judgment He removed His pruning from the vineyard.

The Lord has provided excellent conditions for us and expects us to yield good fruit.  We must ask ourselves why it is then that we produce sour grapes at times?  Different versions use interesting words to describe the grapes which I think is intriguing to consider.  Words such as bitter, bad, wild, and worthless.  Have you examined the fruit your vineyard has produced lately for the Lord? Consider your vineyard being all the areas of your life.  Do you produce sour grapes in any of your areas of influence when you know the Lord has given you ample opportunity to produce good fruit for His glory?

The Vineyard Keeper is looking for good fruit that glorifies Him. Let’s rid ourselves of sour grapes. As much as we have allowed ourselves to believe it sour grapes are not in vogue, it is downright disobedience.

In His grace,

Amanda

The Powerful Nature of God’s Word

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word.”  Hebrews 1:3a

Greetings fellow sojourners!  I pray this message edifies you and inspires you in truth; propelling you onward to never again approach the Word of God as mere words written down on a page purposed for a casual read.  That my friend is far from the truth.

We NEVER approach the Word of God as if it were minimized and lifeless.  Not ever.  We as people may emotionally feel minimized or brought low but the Word NEVER is.  We may feel as if we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death but the Word does not suffer this distress.  The Word is indeed with you as you walk through your trials but only as Counselor and Teacher not because it is plagued with the tribulations of humanity.  The Word ALWAYS stands strong and powerful.  Always.  Nothing has the power or authority to minimize the Word.  You may be reading the Word with a downtrodden heart due to your dread, sorrow, and suffering but in your suffering anticipate the Word to meet you with your remedy as you read each word.  Expect nothing less.

God’s awe-inspiring word is powerful and all things are sustained by it.  All things.  You and your deliverance are sustained by His powerful word.  Do not approach His word as if it were minimized or ineffective pertaining to the details of your life as that is a lie that belongs in the pit of hell.

How would your faith dramatically change if you picked up your Bible and read each word of the Truth expecting it to powerfully influence your life?  Don’t wait.  Do that today.

In His grace,

Amanda

Don’t Be An Unbeliever But A Believer

“Then He said to Thomas, Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”  John 20:27

Greetings fellow sojourners!

What if we were impelled to truly walk by God’s faith and not by mere common, frail, human sight What if we were driven by the priority intuition of the Spirit and not led by the ordinary revelation our senses and intellect provide?  Jesus did not unbraid or reproach Thomas for not believing the testimony that had been given him by his comrades but insightfully said, “Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”

Thomas desired to be led by the revelation of his senses and his own intellect regarding the disclosure of the Resurrection.  So by this same method, Jesus told Thomas to employ his sense of touch and sight to prove the testimony Thomas had heard about Him was true.  Jesus then said if we don’t need our senses to substantiate our faith then we are blessed.   Also, if we do not press forward in faith, we will not be pleasing to Him.  “But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him.”  (Hebrews 10:38)  Sweet things, we are to make our way by God’s faith, not by the appearance our senses reveal to us.  We live in the body (where our senses are useful) but we also live by the spirit (therefore, we walk by faith).

Jesus was addressing the general spiritual condition of Thomas. Thomas was in danger of passing from the state of a believer in Christ to that of an unbeliever. His demand for the evidence of his senses was a step backward, a depending on the less, not on the more, certain.  Jesus would have him retrace that step and become one who depends upon the powerful intuition of the Spirit.

Thomas was given the luxury of having his fleshly eyes bolster his faith when Jesus presented Himself to him but if we refuse to live by faith and not by sight we will surely miss what the Spirit will reveal.

Can you hear Jesus as if He were speaking the words to you right now? “Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”  Lay down your doubt and be a believer and not an unbeliever. If you err, decide to err on the side of faith, not insisting on witnessing the miraculous with your own fleshly eyes in order to allow your heart to be moved in awe.

 

In His grace,

Amanda

What Are You Filling Yourself With?

“She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle.”  Proverbs 31:27

Greetings all!  I hope you know you are ALL valued and immensely relevant to the cause of Christ.

I learned a valuable lesson today.  I pray that as we progress in our lifelong journey of becoming more and more like Christ we resolve to NEVER stop growing and knowing we must change if we want to be more like Him.  I witnessed an appalling behavior by someone which would have immediately turned me off, never desiring to say two words to them.  But I was shocked when the person then went out of their way to be helpful to us and I realized I was shutting myself off from ministering if I was going to continue to allow someone’s brashness to decide if I would engage with them or not.  Lord, help us to always see beyond our own point of view.

Let’s check out the verse above.  The word ‘idle’ here literally means ‘does not eat the bread of idleness’.

What I personally don’t care for much in the 2 Timothy 3:6 verse is when it describes how ungodly people will “worm their way into households and “capture idle women burdened down with sins, led along by a variety of passions.”  I so dislike the implications of this verse that I organized a prayer group meeting intent on beseeching the Lord to revive us to His purposes.  I pray we honor the Lord in such a way that He does just that…REVIVE us.  Help us, Lord, to see YOUR point of view, Your will, Your heart.

The word ‘passions’ in 2 Timothy means, ‘desires, craving, longing, or lust’.  If we allow these ‘passions’ to lead us we can expect to be corrupted and polluted by them.  But there is help.  The divine nature equips us to escape this corruption (2 Peter 1:4) and the desires of the flesh that pollute (2 Peter 2:10).  If we wish to progress further with the Lord we must not possess this sort of folly (2 Timothy 3:9).

We are even warned about the iniquity of Sodom which was pride, their fullness with bread, and their abundance of idleness (Ezekiel 16:49).  And 2 Thessalonians 3:6 tells us to keep away from those who are idle and disruptive and not live according to the Word.

There is good news.  We will fill ourselves with something so instead of foolishly filling ourselves with the ‘bread of idleness’ we unreservedly can fill ourselves with the bread of life (John 6:22, 35, 48).

We absolutely can be people devoted to God’s purposes in the earth as opposed to being devoted to momentary folly which has no eternal purpose.  Help me Lord to not be burdened down with sin, led along by passions outside of Your will for my life, and filled with my own opinions which can hinder me from Your purposes.

In His grace,

Amanda

Confidence in God’s Readiness to Reveal His Will

Greetings fellow sojourners!  Would you agree there are countless things in this life we daily put our confidence in? We believe we can rely on our homes to be constantly furnished with electricity, our grocery stores to be well stocked, our supply of water to never run dry, our cars to effortlessly start each day, our employers to still need and value us, our health to maintain, our loved ones to always be around, our decisions to turn out right, the list can be quite lengthy.  And most likely the most gargantuan thing we put our faith in is the all-consuming self.

When these ‘comforts’ we put our confidence in fail us, we get agitated, restless and maybe even panic.  If we trust in anything else but God it will prove to be fragile, like a spider’s web.  If we lean on the web it will not stand firm.  If we grab it, it will not hold up.” (Job 8:14-15)  Be confident in the Lord alone.  You can lean and grab on to Him as His foundation is absolutely firm.

When we move outside our daily routine and into the more complexities of life we often wonder what God’s will is in our complicated situations.  I am so thankful the Word instructs us we can be confident God is ready to reveal His will to us!  Are you faithfully seeking His will in your difficult circumstances?  Are you praying, submitting, and humbling your soul to Him?  He is faithful to His word so don’t hesitate to fill your mind with His truth.  This is what He tells us:

“The Lord is good and upright; therefore He shows sinners the way.  He leads the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.”  Psalms 25:8-9

“I will praise the Lord who counsels me — even at night my conscience instructs me.”  Psalms 16:7

“Who is the man who fears the Lord?  He will show him the way he should choose.  The secret counsel of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them.”  Psalms 25:12, 14

“This God, our God forever and ever — He will always lead us.”  Psalms 48:14

“Yet I am always with You; You hold my right hand.  You guide me with Your counsel.”  Psalms 73:23-24a

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“For your people will live on Zion in Jerusalem and will never cry again. He will show favor to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears, He will answer you. The Lord will give you meager bread and water during oppression, but your Teacher will not hide Himself any longer. Your eyes will see your Teacher, and whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:19-21

“This is what the Lord says:  The wise man must not boast in his wisdom; the strong man must not boast in his strength; the wealthy man must not boast in his wealth.  But the one who boasts should boast in this, that he understands and knows Me — that I am Yahweh, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things. This is the Lord’s declaration.”  Jeremiah 9:23-24

Let’s remember that above all else He desires for us to focus on our love for Him rather than on tasks we do on His behalf.  If His will is not clearly discernable, perhaps He is seeking the transformation of your mind and in doing so, it may require that your path is not so easily discerned.  Our love for Jesus will show in the decisions we make.  We will increasingly love what he loves and we will be transformed by renewed minds.

Lord, may YOUR instruction and love escort me.  I desire to meet the conditions in Your word, help me to do so.  You promise to lead, teach, counsel, reveal, and guide me.  In You alone, I will put my confidence.  You alone are my stable foundation that WILL NOT BE MOVED for all else is shaky ground.  Help me to see that when I become agitated or fearful it is because I have put my confidence in things outside of You.  I seek Your will that is revealed in Your word and am confident You are ready to reveal it because You help your people in Your sovereignty.  I wait for you Lord.  My affections are on You.

In His grace,

Amanda

The Marvel of the Cross is Enough

Paul said he was sent “to evangelize — not with clever words, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied of its effect.”  (1 Corinthians 1:17) “When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom.  For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”   1 Corinthians 2:1-2

Greetings fellow sojourner!  Have you ever considered the powerful simplicity of the Gospel message?

I understand the desire to make speech interesting to the point of capturing the audience or reader’s attention so they remain engrossed.  I am not attempting to suggest we remove expressiveness from our speech; even the Bible uses poetry.  What I am wondering is whether we feel compelled to speak in a way that makes the gospel message interesting to people instead of just speaking of Christ and Him crucified?

We are told in 2 Timothy 4:3 that people’s ear will itch to hear something new.  This verse is primarily addressing false teaching but it also applies to people and their need to be entertained by hearing exciting new things rather than by directing themselves to the renewing of their mind based on the truth Scripture holds.

I am thankful for talented people gifted with a command of language.  Individually, let’s ensure we are always checking ourselves to make certain our heart is not seeking or requiring clever speech to entertain us instead of loving the gospel message in its clear and straightforward presentation.  The marvel of the Cross is sufficient.

The message of the Cross has the power in and of itself to transform and convict any single person who hears it’s good news.  An individual will receive what God has to offer whether it is delivered by an eloquent orator or by someone simply reading straight from the Word because not a single person has the power to convict and change a heart.  That transformation can only be done by Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

We must not let our mind tell us something is only worth our time if it has the power to entertain.  We are not only believing a lie but we are also sending a message to those teaching us the Word that they must entertain us with their approach.  Lord, help us to not be like the Corinthians in this way.

In His grace,

Amanda

We Speak of the Excellencies of Christ from A Heart that Overflows

“A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”  Luke 6:45

Friends, if we want to live the Christian life well it will not be done on accident.  We will not happen into it and we must always be on our guard.  One of the ways to accomplish this is to possess a heart that desires to be filled daily to overflowing by the Spirit of God.  We must be intentional about wanting it and we must be intentional about clearing out the stuff that does not belong so that we can be totally filled, edge to edge, with HIS goodness.

Do you repeatedly consider what is stored in your heart and what you allow to fill your heart?  God sows seeds into our heart and He causes the seed to multiply (2 Corinthians 9:10) but we must go to Him and seek the filling.  When we are infused to overflowing with the power of the Spirit these are the times we will be willing to speak boldly of our testimony as well as the excellencies of Christ.  The times we are hesitant to speak boldly or pray boldly are most likely the times we have not been filled to the overflowing.  We still may be willing to speak, but the boldness, excitement, and pure unending joy seems to be absent.  Have you noticed these differences in your own life?

I love how the word ‘speak’ in the Luke verse means to preach, tell, or utter.  Beloved, we are meant to preach of the excellencies of Christ from a heart that is overflowing with His grace, joy, and peace that we receive from His Spirit!

Here are some examples of the some of the ways the Spirit of God causes us to overflow.  God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so you may excel in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8) and we will always excel knowing our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).  The Holy Spirit fills us with joy and peace so that we overflow with hope (Romans 15:13).  He also causes us to increase and overflow with love for one another (1 Thessalonians 3:12).  Thank you, Lord.  Help us have a heart that eagerly seeks to be filled by You to overflowing so that we may speak from THIS overflow for the encouragement of others and of the testimony of Your great grace!

Excellencies of Christ

Lord, assist us to daily think about the Person and excellencies of Jesus Christ.  These excellent things are:  Jesus taking on human nature, his earthly life, his sacrificial death, his exaltation in heaven, and his final subduing of all evil when he returns to earth in glory.  We seek you Lord and ask for Your filling to overflowing so that our mouth speaks of Your goodness!

In His grace,

Amanda

Smoke Screens (revisited)

“For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”           Ephesians 6:12

Greetings fellow sojourners loved by the Most High God!

Satan is deceptive and most likely savors it when we mistakingly turn our authentic spiritual battles towards flesh and blood.  Think of it as a smoke screen created to confuse us regarding the authentic reason why our situations are occurring.

According to the US Department of Defense, a smoke screen is “a cloud of smoke used to conceal ground maneuver, obstacle breaching, recovery operations, and amphibious assault operations as well as key assembly areas, supply routes, and logistic facilities.”  It is a ruse designed to disguise someone’s real intentions or activities.

This definition also interestingly describes many tactics our enemy employs in his spiritual warfare. Can you think how the enemy uses smoke screens in your circumstances to confuse you?  Can you imagine since he desires to conceal his maneuvers from your line of sight he could also vary the denseness of the smoke screen?   Satan is incredibly adept at employing the smoke screen of deceit, hoping for our destruction.  Sometimes his smoke screen is not so obvious but seems to be more of a general haze meant to cause us to question ourselves or be confused.  Sweet things, if you find yourself repeatedly confused about a situation your first thought ought to be, “Is this a spiritual warfare issue?”  Know that Satan’s smoke screens are always intended to confuse you, belittle you, minimize you, and conceal God’s truth.  KNOW the tactics of your adversary.

Jesus Christ of Nazareth dissipated Satan’s smoke screen with the Word when Satan tried to twist the truth of God (Luke 4:1-13).  Allow the Spirit of Truth to guide you (John 16:13), and the truth of the Word to sanctify you (John 17:17) in order to dissipate Satan’s smoke screens.

We are deceived if we think our real battle is maintaining ourselves, our status quo, or manipulating situations in order to achieve OUR desired outcome.  It is only a smoke screen.  If we think it is an impossible relationship we are battling when really it is our lack of forgiveness, pride, jealousy, or sloppy appraisal of self-worth, it is only a smoke screen created by the enemy to confuse us.  Clarity comes when we maintain a tenacity towards trusting Jesus as well as maintaining an unrelenting faithfulness in Him.

Are there any smoke screens in your life you have been putting up with far too long?  Allow the brilliant light of God to break through the smoke screen of lies that seep up through the pit of hell and tolerate it no longer.

In His grace,

Amanda