The Resourcefulness of Guilt

Jesus, frees those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.  Hebrews 2:15

Adam said, “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” (Genesis 3:10)  The word ‘hid’ means to withdraw.   The people whom God created to be in a relationship with Him committed sin in the Garden and the guilt from their sin urged them to withdraw from Him by hiding.  Has the guilt from your sin ever caused you to withdraw from God?  Their guilt also prompted them to sew fig leaves together to construct loincloths to ‘cover’ themselves.  The word loincloth means, ‘girdle, apron, and armor’.  It comes from a word meaning, “to gird on (as a belt, armor) — be able to put on, be afraid, appointed, restrain, on every side.” (Strongs)

I find the definition curious regarding the portion, ‘being afraid’.  I am sure we can imagine putting on a covering as a means of self-protection but can we also picture that self-protection driven by an element of fear? Did Adam and Eve ‘put on’ the loincloth because guilt’s resourcefulness also levied the toll of fear?  It created for them an apprehension regarding their relational, loving God who desired to walk with them in the Garden.  They had always been naked, yet they felt no prior guilt (Genesis 2:15).  Yet when God came to walk with them in the cool of the evening, following the meal of the prohibited fruit, sin caused them to become afraid (Genesis 3:7).

The Hebrews verse above which tells us that Jesus frees those held in slavery by the fear of death has me pondering.  I wonder if it is true that the ultimate reason we fear death is because we will be required to give God an account of our life.  If we have an unrepentant heart on any issue which causes us to ‘cover’ unconfessed sin by this world’s mechanisms, does that lead to a fear of death because we must account as to why we allowed our heart to not be completely repentant?

We call guilt a failure to do what we should have done.   The bad feelings that often accompany guilt we call a bad conscience.  As a noun, guilt is defined as ‘the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime.’  As a verb, guilt involves making ‘someone feel guilty, especially in order to induce them to do something.’ (dictionary.com)  I type this as loudly as I can, let us NO LONGER manipulate someone to do what we want them to do, manipulating with the tool of guilt.

When we are ‘guilty’ of wrongdoings we can examine it this way:

  1.  We are justly chargeable with a particular fault or error
  2.  We are conscious of or affected by a feeling or guilt

Here is how the Word addresses guilt.  Romans 3:23-24 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”  The glory of the gospel is that the One before whom we are guilty has replaced our guilt with justification (number one) by redemption in Jesus.  We may have been justly charged with sin but in Christ Jesus, we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and redeemed from the fault or error!

When we are conscience-stricken (number two) we are feeling very bad or guilty because of something we have done.  God’s kindness towards us is intended to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4) and repentance will remove our guilt.  Our conscience should be subordinate to the Word of God (1 John 3:20).  As Martin Luther once proclaimed, My conscience has been taken captive by the Word of God.

It is not a matter of coming up with a solution that this age deems will ease our conscience or that we hope will be true because it is not just a problem of how to feel better, but how to be right with God.  We will not endlessly ease our conscience with the resourcefulness of guilt by utilizing our tireless intellect, or by physical distractions, or by religious works.  Our conscience must be taken captive by the Word of God.

We must lead a repentant lifestyle and allow God full access to our mind and heart in order to deal with the issue of guilt.  Unchecked guilt will drive us to forfeit fullness in every area of our lives because of the sting of embarrassment, regret, and loss.  Our question is no longer why, why, why?? But our powerful proclamation, Come Lord Jesus!  Come into my past, present, and future.  I welcome you!

Thank you, Lord, that you alone remove our guilt.  The power of Christ in me proclaims I have no guilt in this life and will have no fear of death!  Thank you, Lord, that by removing my guilt I have a clean conscience (Hebrews 9:14, 10:22), peace with You (Isaiah 53:5, Romans 5:1, Colossians 1:19-20), access into Your presence (Romans 5:1-2, Ephesians 2:18), joy (Psalms 32:1-11, Romans 5:1-2), hope (Romans 5:1-2), a desire to worship You (Psalms 51:14-15), and a desire to serve You (Isaiah 6:6-8, John 21:15-20).  In the resounding name of JESUS, I proclaim these truths and say, Yes!

In His grace,

Amanda

Don’t Believe This World’s Press, You INDEED Have Dignity

“But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people! For among them are those who worm their way into households and capture idle women burdened down with sins, led along by a variety of passions, always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.”           2 Timothy 3:1-7

After a recent discussion in my household regarding whether or not there is a ranking of sin, I went back again to this long list of sins people in the last days will exhibit. I feel quite convinced we must take a look at the characteristics listed here, as well as other places in the Bible, and make every effort to understand what these behaviors look like so that we can expunge them from their existence in our lives.  The portion of our life spent unexamined will ultimately be the thread the enemy will attempt to use to snag and unravel us.  It is not that we analyze the splinter in someone else’s eye, pointing fingers and suggesting their radical change, but that we examine the plank in our own eye.

The warning that begins in verse six vexes me.  “For among them are those who worm their way into households and capture idle women burdened down with sins, led along by a variety of passions, always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.”   According to The Word Study Dictionary, the wording, ‘idle women’ is used contemptuously as, ‘a little woman; one who displays immaturity and a lack of dignity’.

We receive our dignity from God.  Just because someone chooses to not treat you with dignity does not mean you do not possess it!  No one takes it from you just because they choose to not recognize it in you.  Psalm 8 speaks of God’s glory and man’s dignity.  Verse five of that Psalm says, “You made him little less than God, and crowned him with glory and honor.”  We were created to have value, dignity, and honor.  Proverbs 31:25 says, “Strength and dignity are her clothing.”  We must recognize our dignity as members of the household of God.  If this belief resides in our heart it will be showcased through our behavior.

Satan began his work of temptation with Eve so why wouldn’t the demons follow his example?  The people described in the 2 Timothy verse ‘worm their way’ into households in a manner of a serpent.  They will attempt to sacrifice you for their unholy purposes, steal the promises of God, and destroy your great value in the Kingdom of God (John 10:10).  The entry point for the stronghold of these lies will begin with your thinking and whether or not you are making agreements with the enemy.

They choose to first ‘capture weak women’ and then use them to influence men in their household.  Ladies, we must be vigilant at our post and be evaluating ourselves daily in order to reveal what does not belong in a child of God and expunge it from our heart through the Lord’s remedy of repentance.

So how do these ‘people’ get power and influence over ‘weak women’?  We are told the women are laden with sin, led by various lusts.  Whatever it is that convinces us we can ease our conscience and continue to indulge and pardon our sin by methods other than repentance will hinder us from “being able to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  If we desire to come to a knowledge of the truth, the necessary conditions must be present in our inner life – the truth found in Jesus.  The sin laden heart is easily tempted to seek the quickest and easiest method of relief and will quickly turn to what is false.  Our incentive must be a search for The truth which is found IN Jesus Christ; otherwise, we will become prey when someone/something comes offering new wisdom.

Thank you, Lord that YOU take away not only my sin but all the guilt associated with my sin.  Help me lead a daily life of repentance and not be confused in any way by counterfeit wisdom.  In Jesus name, I pray, amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

Guard Against Lazy, Useless, And Careless Words

“I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.”  Matthew 12:36

Greetings fellow sojourners!  Have you ever consider the words you speak could at times be lazy, useless, or careless?  If we are not thinking about the weight our words carry we might want to start examining them.

God is omnipotent, therefore, His words are omnipotent.  Since life and death are held in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), we chose to either speak life to ourselves and into our circumstances or to speak death.  When Jesus says we will account for every careless word we speak He is intending that we do not agree with the enemy and speak death but to agree with Him by speaking life.  We are to live intentionally by telling ourselves what to think, believe, and speak. We choose rebellion when we speak in disagreement with His word.

With our vast resources, educational backgrounds, and plenty of discretionary time, we absolutely have no excuse for not being able to locate Scripture that addresses our wayward human condition in order to provide the remedy.  When we allow all manner of words to carelessly tumble from our mouth we must be wise enough to know we will be required to answer for our useless comments.  The Bible possesses living and active words (Hebrews 4:12) which are omnipotent to assist in our trials.  To choose words contradictory to His is foolishness.  Lord, give us Your wisdom so that we comprehend the incredible value of agreeing with and speaking Your truth.

If we are quick to judge the motives of people we will also be quick to criticize.  If we have distracted minds or have allowed our heart to cool, our language can become flippant and critical.  Self-control plays an enormous role in how we choose the words we use in our interactions with others.  Whether online or face-to-face we must not be careless when we speak.  Let’s take the advice furnished in Proverbs 10:19,17:27 and let our words be few.

God’s word accomplishes what He intends for it to do (Isaiah 55:11).  We speak God’s word faithfully and know that His word is like fire and like a hammer that pulverizes rock (Jeremiah 23:28-29).   The Word of God is Spirit and life, living and effective (John 6:63, Hebrews 4:12), and set us free (John 8:31-32).  The Word of God in our heart is also a powerful antidote to sin (Psalm 199:11).

Help us, Lord, to build up not tear down, to speak life and not death, and to love and not hate.  I desire to use my mouth to display Your goodness and guard it against being used as an instrument for the enemy.  I repent of careless words I have spoken and I receive Your complete forgiveness.  Assist me in being conscious not only of words I say to others but also of every word I utter, even to myself.  In Jesus name, I pray, amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

Church, We Need A Complete And Pure Devotion

This is what Paul said in his pursuit of the bride of Christ:

“For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband — to present a pure virgin to Christ. But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a complete and pure devotion to Christ. For if a person comes and preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you had not received, or a different gospel, which you had not accepted, you put up with it splendidly!”  2 Corinthians 11:2-4

If you have taken part in or witnessed a wedding, the care the bride took to ready herself most assuredly did not go beyond your notice.  As everyone takes their places before the ceremony commences, all wait in anticipation for the bride to make her approach to the groom.  When the time has come for everyone to behold the bride, emotion fills our heart but not because of any worldly fulfillment.  No, it is spiritual.  God has planted eternity in our human heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and this earthly marriage covenant is only a shadow of the eternal marriage that is to come (Revelation 19:6-9).  That, my friend, is breathtaking.

In our covenant relationship with the Lord, He has vowed promises to us and He is absolutely faithful.  “I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.” (Ezekiel 36:27)   In this covenant relationship, our allegiance is not left in question.  God secures the completeness of this covenant with his Son’s own blood and with the power of His Spirit!  He initiates it, He secures it, and He guarantees that it will not fail.  He is a promise maker and keeper.  Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness.

The earthly marriage vow we enter into is also a covenant relationship with promises to keep.  Knowing the Lord keeps His promises motivates us to keep our earthly promises.

Just as the bride goes to great lengths to make herself ready for the earthly marriage, NOTHING should distract you with from possessing even more significant momentum to make yourself ready as the bride of Christ; not a mission to ‘save’ a person, no greater good, and no worthy cause.  These desires, as well as many others, are clearly noble causes but if they are detracting you from preparing yourself to be the bride of Christ they most likely are a cunning maneuver of the enemy to seduce your mind from a complete and pure devotion to our Beloved.

Let’s recall Eph. 6:17. The idea of a helmet is to protect the mind, the intelligence, and the ability to think and reason. God’s helmet keeps our thinking straight and preserves us from mental confusion regarding His covenant and who we are in Christ.

“Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself.”  Revelation 19:7

Jesus is the lamb slain (Rev. 5:6, 12, 13:8).  Even when referring to the marriage, our Bridegroom is still mentioned as the Lamb.  When Jesus went to the Father, it was through the crucified flesh.  As the bride, we must also crucify our flesh in preparation to make ourselves ready.

If you are going to make yourself ready you must know what it requires.  One thing He will be looking for is faith (Luke 18:8).  Are you building yourself up in your most holy faith (Jude 1:20)?  Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17) so don’t waste a day by not being in the Word.  Have your lamp, take your oil, and prepare yourself to meet your Groom (Matthew 25:1-13).  It’s a beautiful thing.

In His grace,

Amanda

God Sustains The Weary

“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of those who are instructed to know how to sustain the weary with a word.  He awakens Me each morning;  He awakens My ear to listen like those being instructed.”  Isaiah 50:4

Whether this speaker is the purified Israel or Isaiah, the spokesperson is a student of God; trained to provide encouragement to those who are weary.  Each morning God awakens him with new insight. (Holman commentary)  THAT is thrilling.  Lord, create a desire in us to be trained so that we can provide encouragement to those who are weary!  Increase our sensitivity to the Spirit and help our willingness to be instructed.

I find it interesting that Solomon admits, “All things are wearisome; man is unable to speak” (Ecclesiastes 1:8a).  Have you discovered that in your weary circumstances it becomes difficult to encourage yourself to pray as you ought, let alone pray boldly?  I sure do.  I have experienced the incredible blessing of having comrades willing to pray for me when I have become wearied which bolsters my faith so that I can stand firm again.  This my friends, is an absolute must during our days under the sun.  It is one of the sweetest blessings God provides in our lives.

It is true we do not need someone to pray on our behalf because each child of God is expected to approach the throne of grace with prayers.  But when the circumstances become difficult the Lord can provide another Believer, full of faith, to sustain our weary souls with a prayer on our behalf. What is remarkable is how we can apply the Romans 10:17 verse to the transformation that occurs in our mind when this prayer occurs.  “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  When we become wearied expect someone speaking the Word of God to us or offering a prayer in faith on our behalf to be a demonstration of Romans 10:17.  Expect your faith to increase when you hear Biblical truth!

The prayer of faith will save the wearied person and the Lord will arouse him again! (James 5:15) Hallelujah!  Thank you, Lord God, for giving us words that are powerful to sustain Your weary people.  Awaken me each morning to your instruction.  Your servant is listening.

In His grace,

Amanda

Do Your Eyes ALWAYS Reveal The Truth?

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  2 Corinthians 5:7

Greetings fellow sojourners!

One method we typically use to confirm something is real is by the witness of our own eyes.  We can see the car we are about to get into and trust it will reliably land us at our destination.  We can also see the bed we are about to crawl into and trust it will support us properly all through the night.  But what about love?  Have we ever seen love itself?  Perhaps we have seen love demonstrated between people but have you ever bumped into love in order to actually behold it?  I think we would agree that just because we have never seen love in and of itself does not mean it does not exist.  We can examine hope in the same way.  What is interesting about hope is that if it is seen it is not hope at all.  For who hopes for what he can already see?

What about a mirage?  Have you ever seen a mirage in a desert or on a scorching highway?  Does it appear like a pool of water exists in the distance but when you approach it you discover there is absolutely no water whatsoever?  If we can’t always believe our own eyes as in this mirage example, can we then surmise our eyes can’t always see everything and therefore we can’t always believe what our eyes reveal as the whole truth?  Sometimes things are revealed to our senses which we then assume most certainly is the case when in fact it is not.  Our Spiritual life many times operates this way.  Our eyes are vital for operating in the natural life but spiritual truths must be discerned spiritually.  Lord, help us to be steadfast and make our way by faith and not merely by the way something appears.

If our eyes do not ALWAYS reveal the truth what then can we trust?  Is that the most difficult question we ever ponder while in the flesh?  If we are proud it will be difficult to admit when we do not know something.  Truth is, we will not know everything.  Period.  There is a source, however, that we can always trust to inform us of the truth and that is God’s word.

Believe by faith regarding the truth and power of the Word, not by whether your fleshly eyes are able to validate it or not.    Faith is what makes us sure of what we hope for, provides proof of what we cannot see, and most importantly wins God’s approval. (Hebrews 11:1-2)  The revelation of our eyes is not faith, it is not hope, and it does not bring the same blessing (John 20:29).

We are told that righteousness demonstrates itself through faith (Hebrews 10:38) which does not rely on our eyes to witness Truth.  An example of this can be seen in Noah’s life.  Noah was warned about things not yet seen and believed in faith even though his eyes did not first behold a sign.  He even spoke bold warnings to his peers because of his faith in what God would do (Hebrews 11:7).

Thank you, Lord for giving me faith.  I ask for an increase in faith so that I can speak Your truth with even more boldness.  Strengthen me to live by faith and hope which I do not require my eyes to reveal and to love even when I see no benefit.  In the name, power, and authority of Jesus I ask and believe.  Amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

My Baptism Testimony

Greetings all!  I was recently invited to share my baptism testimony so I thought I would share it here as well.  I pray it blesses someone!

My baptism testimony may be far from what you are accustomed to hearing or expecting but it will hold the most vital and common thread as other baptism testimonies because it pertains to obedience. Before you begin reading I would like to make it abundantly clear that the people I write about in this testimony could be you or me any day of the week. God is sovereign and uses us to be participants on both sides of circumstances for His ultimate glory and He does so however He sees fit. I am thankful.

If you have hiked this Christian journey for long you have probably discovered that being a disciple of Christ is not about prioritizing your emotional needs nor is it about securing your earthly comfort. The priority call is about being obedient to God and His word regardless of your emotion or convenience, come what may.

I was baptized as a child but was unsure if it had been as a result of my saying yes to Christ or yes to my parents. I knew I personally needed to make the decision to say yes to the Lord by being in agreement with Him and acting in obedience to His word and not because someone else had decided for me. What I did not know was the resolve it would require on my part to not submit to the overwhelming distractions that surprisingly presented themselves and to stand firmly resolute in my decision to be obedient to God. There is no doubt He helped me when I felt attacked by the enemy’s fiery darts and He will help you as well. God loves you. Trust Him.

While I attended the baptism candidate meeting my husband stayed home with our small children and planned to meet me at church with them before the service began. While waiting for him to arrive I walked around thanking the Lord from a heart full of anticipation of what was about to transpire when someone approached me and said he had a word for me. I was excited and anticipated it to be a good word because I was being obedient to the Lord and therefore assumed the outcome. I was blindsided because I never expected he would say what he did. I absolutely could not relate to what he said and even questioned if he might have me confused with someone else. My thoughts were things like, “Didn’t he know I was going to be baptized? Why would someone say something like that minutes before the service would begin? I was wearing the purple shirt and all!” He insisted he was correct in what he said and persisted with the scolding. As a result, I walked away feeling downhearted and muddled.

Minutes later all the baptism candidates were called to the stage as everyone worshiped the Lord in song. As I stood there still stunned and wondering what really had just happened I glanced around at the baptism candidates and couldn’t help but notice their joy. I seemed so out of sorts and felt as if I did not fit in and contemplated if maybe I should try another time. I noticed my husband had entered the sanctuary and he seemed peaked. He has life-threatening brain bleeds and has had 2 brain surgeries as a result. I can always tell something is seriously wrong by the way his eyes appear. As I approached him I immediately observed something was amiss. He informed me that as he was carrying our youngest he tripped and fell down the stairs. In his effort to protect her, he hit his head several times on the steps as they fell. My husband is not the sort of person that falls down stairs. We discussed leaving and going to the hospital and I wondered again why all this was happening at this particular time. As I walked around trying to sort it all out and if I should leave or push through, Kim approached me and asked what was wrong. I toughened up and said I was fine. She obviously had a fine-tuned hooey gauge and I am sure it was indicating something was not right. She prayed with me and informed me that I absolutely should go through with the baptism. I looked over at my husband and he indicated he would be ok and not to worry.

The baptism would be held indoors so all the baptism candidates made their way into the respective bathrooms which fed into the baptistry. While finally feeling in a position to get my thinking straight and pray thankful prayers to the Lord, my thoughts were distracted by conversations people were having while in line. They were talking and laughing about all manner of things that would not be expected to be heard in this environment and I found myself becoming distressed again. I remember I kept thinking everything is so wrong, so, so, wrong. I began seriously questioning whether this was the right time for me to be baptized because, in my opinion, I was feeling quite emotionally unfit for such an event. A very compassionate lady who was in charge of getting everyone ready to enter the water apparently detected my distress and encouraged me to keep going. Among others things, she said no one had ever given up and not gone through with baptism. My troubled mind thought, “Good grief, not only am I suffering such a trial at a time when I thought I should be having an incredible experience but now I am going to be the first in World Outreach Church history to not go through with baptism!” What I did not recognize at the time was I was experiencing a spiritual attack.

Before I could give it any more thought the door opened and it was my turn. I entered the water and Pastor Allen asked me if there was anything I wanted to say. Perhaps he said that to everyone or maybe he said it just to me because he could detect my apprehension. I responded with, “I’m good, I’m good.” No telling how many times I said it because he answered with, “I believe you.” I was quite sure his hooey gauge was also indicating something was awry but I thought, “What could be said at that point?”

I was baptized and as soon as I rose out of those baptism waters I can testify that I was freed from all the enemy’s harassment that occurred that afternoon. I now understood there had been a spiritual battle waging around me.

When the service was over and I was in the parking lot, I raised my tightly clenched fist and spoke to my spiritual enemy saying, “You knew there was something to this. You KNEW! THAT is why you did not want me to go through with this! Because you KNEW the importance of my obedience!” I no longer felt sad or confused. Everything was clear and I felt empowered. If we can suffer in our testing without losing faith and maintain a thankful heart we can become more and more like Jesus every day (Hebrews 5:8).

Beloved, you are deeply loved by God. You will face a multitude of hurdles during your time under the sun but never forget that God is for you. We have an enemy. He is real, he is clever, and he is relentless. But be of good cheer! Jesus has secured the victory and IN HIM you are not a victim but a victor! Be prepared to take your place as a warrior in the army of the living God. You have a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) cheering you on so be disciplined, persevere, and stand strong. Do not allow your age, your station in life, the current condition of your heart, or any other barrier to keep you from being obedient to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. You will be blessed by your obedience. Be bold for the cause of Christ and be sure to encourage someone else towards their obedience in the Lord as well. You may be the next one the Lord uses to stop and pray for someone needing strength to persevere. You can do it!

So don’t delay! Get up and be baptized and wash away your sins by calling on His name.
(Acts 22:16)

I would love to hear your baptism testimony!

In His grace,

Amanda

God Gives Grace To Endure

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power, is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Oh, the weaknesses of the flesh!  How our heart is so prone to wander and our resolve so susceptible to crumble when we allow ourself to ponder the greatness of our own opinion.  Help us Lord in our vast weakness that stretches ever before us; strengthen us with Your power.  You alone are our confidence and our very great reward.

Renew afresh in us Lord the truth that our weaknesses of the flesh are merely prime opportunities to allow the power of Christ to dwell richly in us!  By the sustaining grace of Christ alone will we find contentment alongside our distress.

Before we move too far forward let’s not allow the five opening words of this verse escape us.  “But He said to me.”  The Lord spoke, Paul listened.

“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.”  (Philippians 2:13)

We must know that it is God’s grace that enables us during times of distress to overcome our obstacles which keep us from His best.  If we are left strictly to our own ability we will surely shipwreck our faith and run aground.  God works in us and gives us the desire to push on and through life’s distresses so that His good purposes are achieved in and through us.  Oh, that or heart may behold His glory in this!  He is for our good and equips us so that His goodness in us triumphs over the inherent weakness of our flesh.  When we are tempted to despair it is God who strengthens our fundamentally weak flesh and fortifies us yet again to contend for the faith while rooted ever so securely in Christ Jesus.  It is God who enables and fuels our desire to be better, to do better, and to keep trying.  His good purpose is to sanctify our souls so that we become more like Christ with each passing day.

Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.

If we agree that our heart is prone to wander and to leave the God we love, as the words of this hymn suggest in Come, Thy Fount of Every Blessing, then we must understand that neither will we be prone to steadfastness in our difficult relationships and circumstances.  We must work diligently because if our fickle heart is prone to wander from the God we love then why would it be any different in our earthly relationships and when faced with distressing trials?  It will truly only be easier to shrink back.

When the going gets tough do we choose to toughen our fleshly resolve to defend our opinions and allow our heart to wander away?  When trials shake us to the core do we submit to them knowing God’s grace is our sufficiency or do we wiggle and wrangle our way out of them not desiring for one second to see what He might be showing us about our own misguided opinions and desires?  We need Your help, Lord.

God gives us the grace to endure because if we allow it, all things can be purposeful.  He has the absolute power to turn all things towards His goodness.  Will you allow His will to become yours?  Submit to Him and He absolutely will lead your wandering heart back to His love.

In His powerful grace,

Amanda

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