Not just going through the motions

Mark 10:27 (AMP) Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

On Sundays I get to spend a few moments exhorting the people of our church right before I do the declaration. I have been reading about stewardship and God having unlimited resources. The above scripture says a lot of what our faith should be lined up with. I presented to them the excuse that we do not want to create a lot of “Ishmaels.” (Ishmael is the son of Abraham and Hagar, Sarah handmaiden. Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham because they had no children and they thought they would help God out with the promise of a son. Ishmael’s lineage eventually becoming the Muslim nation). I presented to them this question: “Do you not think God can redeem Ishmael?”

Matthew 24:14 (AMP) This good news of the kingdom [the gospel] will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end [of the age] will come.

No people group will be exempt. Therefore, no action that you take cannot be turned around for His good. Yes we will have consequences, but we are not living if we are not learning. We would just be going through the motions of life, and that would just be miserable.

It is often focused that Abraham only had two sons, Ishmael (from Hagar) and Isaac (from Sarah). In Genesis 25 it tells of Abraham taking another wife, Keturah, and she gave him six more kids. Isaac is said to be the son of promise and the nation of Israel ties it’s lineage back to him, that does not mean that Abraham did not bestow gifts on the others while he was still alive. There are so many messages that we can take away from all of this, but I took away that Abraham had more than one gift to give. We want ours to be the one of the promise (the perfect one).

2 Corinthians 12:9 (AMP) But He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.

It is not required to be perfect, His grace paid the price for that. I love that is says that His mercy is more than enough and always available, regardless of the situation. I sure do need His mercy right now. In my disappointment, in my desire to see things grow, I need His mercy right now. He makes things perfect, not me. I want the power of Christ to dwell in me. I want to be led by the Holy Spirit in everything I do. I just have to keep His mercy before me. It is okay that it is not perfect.

It is not required to be perfect, His grace paid the price for that.

Colossians 3:17 (AMP) Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Deuteronomy 15:10 (AMP) You shall freely and generously give to him, and your heart shall not be resentful when you give to him, because for this [generous] thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings.

Above are a couple of verses that encourage me when I step out in faith. I give myself freely to Him in everything that I do and say. Such a great promise of Him taking it and blessing it. Notice He is not asking for perfection. I want to drive that point home. He makes them perfect, I just have to give Him something to work with.

What about excellence? I googled perfection versus excellence ad this is what it says, “Perfectionism is about the fear of failure, while striving for excellence is the urge for success. Excellence is superior performance, persistence, and the commitment to do something exceptionally well. Excellence requires risk, effort, spontaneity, hard work, and extending yourself to reach your full potential.” Excellence is a heart motive, perfection is in Him.

Praying blessings on everything you say and do today!

Willing Vessel

When you love someone, or something, you are willing to make an investment into it. You will take time and resources into making it successful. They want to see their dream a reality. When they have a set back they do not give up!

I never pictured myself as someone who would willingly get up and speak in front of people. I was quite reluctant and not at all good when I started doing it. Moses was the same way.

Exodus 4:10-16 (NIV) Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him.

Check out the grace God gave to Moses. I would like to point out that they were still under the Abrahamic Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant of the law had not been established yet. So even in Moses imperfection, God put steps in place for Moses to be able to fulfill what He called Him to do. We will eventually see, later on, that Moses was bold in his speech.

(If we apply our life to the way things manifested from the time of the Mosaic Covenant and to the cross, then we are not walking in the fullness of this New Covenant. We need to read those passage now through the eyes of the cross. They should speak about the great need for the cross and not what we have to go through any more).

In the past, I was satisfied with setting up the church events. I did all of the prep work. I would do the research for particular people for them when they taught. I would come up with the themes for the events and do all of the preparations and then hand it over. I liked being in the background. I still do. Before church on Sundays I am there thirty minutes before my teams. I walk through the building setting up areas, making sure their tools are ready to go before they walk in the door.

What I love though is that God calls inadequate people so He can work through them. He in turn will receive the glory that is only His. I am a vessel, but I have to be a willing vessel. He uses imperfect people! I just love that. I love that in my desire to see His Kingdom established, I get to be a part of it. I am not waiting on the sidelines for Him to put me in. You may be asking, when do I get to be a part of the game? Now!

What I love though is that God calls inadequate people so He can work through them.

1 Peter 4:7-10 (NKJV) But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

1 Peter 4:11 (TPT) For example, if you have a speaking gift, speak as though God were speaking his words through you. If you have the gift of serving, do it passionately with the strength God gives you, so that in everything God alone will be glorified through Jesus Christ. For to him belong the power and the glory forever throughout all ages! Amen.

When we start to do the works of the ministry as it talks about in Ephesians 4, we will start to grow. God knew that if He could get Moses to start, Moses would start to grow. He is not asking you to have it all figured out. He is asking you to start. When we keep waiting, we are putting it on pause. I understand and know that in the Word it says to be still, or when you have done all then stand. This is not a physical reference though. This is talking about your inward, spirit being. We can become anxious in the waiting, that is what He is telling us to be still. Be at peace.

I love this verse and I will speak it over myself and you continually: 1 Corinthians 6:11-13 (MSG) Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! Please hear my heart! I want you to live!! He wants you to live!!!

If you need prayer or someone to talk to, please message me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Begin Again

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and for the past few years my husband and I take the time to talk to the church together about marriage and relationships. This year it was important that we talked about managing conflict and walking in forgiveness. This year with the pandemic we have spent more time with our families, especially if you were in a stay at home order like we were.

I think we did pretty good with it. The stressful activity we did was to paint the outside of our house. We have a ranch style home built in 1968, addition was done in 2000. Part of the house is on foundation, the other is crawl space. It is a brick home that was painted a sea foam green. When we moved in thirteen years ago I had always wanted to paint the house, I did not like the color. The home has sixteen windows that looks to be original to the house (except for the addition) and they have the pained glass. We had gotten quotes to get the job done. They ranged from six to eight thousand dollars. The pandemic hit, and we all had to stay home together. My husband and I went out and bought a paint sprayer, rollers, brushes, paper, tape and lots of paint. Stay at home did not mean we could not go outside, and I did not want my kids playing video games all day.

Marriage, more than any other relationship, is going to highlight your flaws. A project of this magnitude with two teenage boys, was going to highlight some flaws as well. We each had a job, and we assisted each other when our job did not need to be done at the moment. The struggle that we found was when we needed help, how to communicate that. In the middle of the frustration on not being able to do this task or problem solve it, how to communicate without filtering that frustration in how we talked to each other.

Ephesians 4:1-3 (TLB) I beg you—I, a prisoner here in jail for serving the Lord—to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.

We each have faults. In love, we must make allowances for each other. Grace needed to be applied to each other. Be patient with your children and spouse. Have faith in what your marriage/family can become. Do not heap on expectations on where you think you should be. Enjoy the journey.

Hebrews 12:2 (MSG) Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. 

If in the process of painting the house we fixed your thoughts on the faults and failure’s of each other the project would probably had never gotten completed. Our family relationship would have suffered a great loss. The problems in our marriage/family are going to be magnified if we do not keep our eyes on Jesus. Study how He lived His life. He had some different personalities to do life with.

The problems in our marriage/family are going to be magnified if we do not keep our eyes on Jesus.

The bigger picture is that I want my children to have lasting relationships. The highlighted flaws that their parents have are going to come out in front of them. When my husband and I first got married my reaction to a question or statement would have been returned with a quick straight to the point answer. I filtered my responses through defense. I thought I was always under a microscope waiting for someone to point out my flaws, this person now being my husband. In return, how I answered was not clear or was often misunderstood because of how I said it, not in what I said. This escalated the conversation into a fight. My husband when he is flustered can come off as very aggravated, this combined with filtering through defense was a combination for disaster. One of us needed to do something. I went to a really good source. I went to my Word.

Colossians 3:13 (NLT) Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Philippians 4:8 (TLB) Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.

When tensions started to flair, we had to go back to this. Someone was not ready to change how they approached the problem, that is okay because they need grace in the moment and we are going to give it to them. Did we have a few blow ups? Yes! We are not perfect. In the end, I do not recall what they were about. I do know that the house is painted. We have to redo the porch, we did not seal it…oops! We still love each other. We still enjoy each other’s company. We have had to tackle other projects together and did not dread it!

It is not too late for your marriage or your family. For us, it started with one person making up their mind that they were not going to hold onto offense and to be quick to forgive. I just so happened to be that person in my home. I had to lay down my pride and me wanting to always be right. In turn there was a change in me. I no longer responded in defense. Peace was raging in me, so it was also becoming a part of what our home would be.

You can make up your mind to begin again. What if you spouse is not wanting to make the change? You make the change. Let God work on them. At the end of all of this, we will give an account of what we did, not what they did. I want to hear “well done good and faithful servant”. We are not going to hear “well done perfect servant.” So please stop putting that expectation on the people you have relationships with, including leaders. I want to point out that He uses the word servant. Are we serving in our families? If not, you can begin now. It is not too late. I do not regret making that change. I have my moments, because I am not going to be perfect at it all the time, in return my family have made allowances for me as I have made allowances for them. It is pretty nice.

If you need prayer or would like to talk about anything feel free to email me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Go Completely Through the Gate

Jesus tells us, “I am the Gate” some translations say He is the Door. John 10:9 (TPT) I am the Gateway. To enter through me is to experience life, freedom and satisfaction.

For far too long the church has represented a life of mundane. No excitement, without vibrancy. A standard set on restrictions and rules. I believe that is why we went into the extreme of the “Friendly Seeker.” Do you know how much freedom I have experienced in Jesus? So much joy, and I did not need a church program to experience it. It was revealed to me through me seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Jeremiah 29:13 (AMP) Then (with a deep longing) you will seek Me and require Me (as a vital necessity) and (you will) find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

There are things in our lives that fight for our attention, that want to be our vital necessity. I made a decision when I accepted Christ, that I was going to be all in. It was not going to be an “I love Jesus” , but I still do these things because Jesus paid the price for my sins mentality. I actually talked to a guy a few years ago and asked him, “Why did Jesus die for us?” His answer, “He died so that I can sin.” This was so very sad to me, because he was an attender of a mega church in our area. How has the message of Jesus not caused a desire for us to change, to want to be holy as He called us to be?

I was reading a book called Adamant by Lisa Bevere this week and ran across this passage: 2 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV) His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promise, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

He came so that we can overcome sin in our lives. His grace is there because He knows what it is like to be human and to have those desires.

Ephesians 4:17-19 (ESV) Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the family of their minds. They are darkened in the understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy practice of every kind of impurity.

In that day there were “sins” that were culturally acceptable. Going into sex shrines was culturally acceptable, but does that mean it would be okay after they came to know Jesus. That was the question I asked myself when I accepted Jesus into my life. I was eighteen, engaged to be married and was having a sexual relationship with my fiance. Culturally this is acceptable. It is encouraged now to live together before considering marriage. Deep down within me I felt a desire to make Jesus my everything. If I was going to say Jesus is my Lord, I had to make a change or that relationship with my new love (Jesus) would only be shallow. I did not want to just dip my toe in the water, I wanted to get a good swim in! I went to my fiance (now my husband) and told him, “If we are going to do this relationship with Jesus thing, we are going to do it right, we cannot have sex again until we get married.” He was on board, however, if he was not I was prepared to walk away from him.

Deep down within me I felt a desire to make Jesus my everything.

When I met John I was so very lonely. I prayed, without having a relationship, that God would send me my husband and I would serve Him the rest of my life. I did not know what I was praying, but God did. Neither John nor myself were in places to be serving God with our lives. I wanted to be loved so much that I was the one who pursued the intimate physical relationship. That was why when God spoke to my heart that Sunday night I was going to be all in. He told me that the pedestal that I had put John on, the one that I sought my love from, was where He belonged.

I am here to tell you that I made many more mistakes. God had to work on things in my life like anger, resentment, unforgiveness, wanting to get my way and wanting to pitch fits. I did not look perfect and still do not. Lisa Bevere put it so eloquently in her book, “As we read the Word, we pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal any areas of conformity and compromise that we may be tolerating out of habit or ignorance.”

When I look at Jesus as my Gate, I do not look at a door that wants to hold me in. It is like a new garment to me. In that garment it is full of grace. Grace that tells me that I can make it, that I do not have to be ashamed of my past, that in Him is where I find true love and fullness of joy.

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 (MSG) Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

It is time that we submerge head first into the life that He wants us to live. One of my favorite verses: 2 Corinthians 3:18 (TPT) We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

It is a process that we allow Him to transform us. I am not where I want to be, but I am not where I use to be. Through this Gate, my view, my world, has become so much larger! I am no longer fenced in to that sin desire. He has set me free from the captivity!