Say ‘no’ to carpenter ants

Ephesians 1:18-19 (AMP) And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people), and [so that you will begin to know] what the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His [active, spiritual] power is in us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of His mighty strength.

I do not know about you, but when something is bothering me I mull over it. This is a good moment for me to call on God and ask for a home inspection (since we are the home of the Holy Spirit). My husband and I have purchased two homes since we married. The first one was a bank repossession and was basically as is. The second home we were making a large investment in and had some money, to put down from the sale of the previous home. Let me add that when we bought our second home I was well into my third trimester with our second child. We physically went and looked at and toured nearly eighty homes (I know, I was exhausting).

We were running short on time and we had settled on a home not too far from our church location at the time. I was not crazy about the schools that we would be district for and the layout of the house was a little weird, but the closets were good and they had just remodeled the kitchen. We paid for a home inspection as we had made an offer. We wanted to make sure the home we were going to buy was solid. A home inspection is a detailed report of all the potential problems the home may have. This home had a lot of problems. First off, those appliances were not even hooked up in the kitchen and they were a long way off from getting to where that was even possible (electrical issues). Those cute gas logs in that nice fireplace were just there to look at, there was nothing hooked up and the fireplace was not usable. Then there were the carpenter ants that had built nests all in that brand new deck they put in, but did not treat, and now had infected the rest of the house. How can something so small cause so much damage! That house was a big no after the home inspection.

Our inspection for His home within us is the Holy Spirit and His Word. God has given us these so that I can clean myself up (a different clean up from that sin life I lived), but a clean up of the years of neglect, hurts, fear, shame and other spiritual baggage that I have been carrying around. These “life problems” can do some serious damage to this home, just like those small carpenter ants did to that home. I do not like that I mull over things so much. Overthinking and over analyzing things robs us of our peace and our joy. It will rob us of our sleep and our confidence of who we are in Christ. Christ purchased this home and paid a high price for it. I am forever grateful and know that I cannot do this life without Him.

Praying for you as you begin this week. Know and cherish this hope, that He sees us as the riches of His glorious inheritance. We ask Him to search within us and open the eyes of our hearts. He who began a good work within us will see it to completion. We are worth the investment!

Patience is a muscle

James 1:2-7 (NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of you faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.

Patience is one of the fruits or attributes of the love walk. We find it mentioned in Galatians 5 and in 1 Corinthians 13. Why does it say we should rejoice with trials to get more of it?

I have the privilege of mentoring many young ladies in the church. When they are going through various trials it may be easier to allow the grumbling and the harsh self talk. We are to be empathetic right? It does take courage, and is sometimes rejection at first, but the perspective of “this is a growth opportunity!” always shows to be true.

Romans 12:12 (AMP) Constantly rejoicing in hope (because of our confidence in Christ), steadfast and patient in distress, devoted in prayer (continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength).

Did you know that you can limit the work that God can do in your life by your perspective? James 1:13 (NKJV) says, ‘Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.‘ Trials are not brought on by God. If we do not have trials how could “free will” be established. How as believers are we to be examples of the love of God on earth if we are always complaining of what we are going through?

One of my least favorite verses to hear people quote is Job 1:21 “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.” This is a verse that I hear when people give up hope. That nothing is going right for them because that is God’s will. That is so very untrue. God removes things out of our lives to make room for better things. It is all about perspective.

There are times that I have to correct my children. In doing so I want to get to the root of the reason they made the decision in the first place. Why is it when we are corrected the first reaction is “I can’t do anything right?” It takes a patient parent to not get frustrated. It takes a parent that cares to make them stay in the room until the conversation is resolved. It takes a loving parent to admit their own mistakes and not be on the defensive as well. Without wisdom, His wisdom, I cannot get things right. This is one of the trials that helps me grow in patience. It is all about perspective.

Our perspective and the words that come out of our mouth as result are so very important to the growth that can happen in our lives. Yes, you make be going through a hard season. It may look like your world is crashing down all around you.

Philippians 1:6 (AMP) I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will (continue to) perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (the time of His return).

James 1:12 (AMP) Blessed (happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God) is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the (victor’s) crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Like our physical stature, our spirit man has muscles that need to be worked as well. My spirit muscles will not grow stronger without resistance. Like I have said before, I want all that God has for me. I want as many crowns and rewards as I can get when I get to heaven. It will take me persevering. I will not lose hope. I will rejoice and choose to grow in trials. I will continue to praise His name and not complain. I will be led by the Holy Spirit, and step out of what is comfortable, so that I can fulfill the Great Commission that He has commanded that I do.

The enemy wants us to hide away when we are facing trials. Why? He wants to put you on pause as long as he can so that you stop running. Just like our physical muscles, when we stop moving, our muscles start to shrink. Your endurance lessens. You get comfortable in the sedentary lifestyle. Now your health is at risk. It is all about perspective. When my body hurts, I want to give it rest. If I let it rest too long, then when I try to get up to move my body will scream at me to stop and sit back down. Muscles need to be worked.

The enemy wants us to hide away when we are facing trials.

Hebrews 12:1-13 (TPT) As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. The we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us. We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and not sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God! So consider carefully how Jesus faced such intense opposition from sinners who opposed their own souls, so that you won’t become worn down and cave under life’s pressures. After all, you have not yet reached the point of sweating blood in your opposition to sin. And you have forgotten the encouraging words spoken to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t underestimate the value of the discipline and training of the Lord God, or get depressed when he has to correct you. For the Lord’s training of your life is the evidence of his faithful love. And when he draws himself, it proves you are his delightful child.” Fully embrace God’s correction as part of your training, for he is doing what any loving father does for his children. For who has ever heard of a child who never had to be corrected? We all should welcome God’s discipline as the validation of authentic sonship. For if we have never once endured his correction it only proves we are strangers and not sons. And isn’t it true that we respect our earthly fathers even though they corrected and disciplined us? Then we should demonstrate an even greater respect for God, our spiritual Father, as we submit to his life-giving discipline. Our parents corrected us for the short time of childhood as it seemed good to them. But God corrects us throughout our lives for our own good, giving us an invitation to share his holiness. Now all discipline seems to be more pain than pleasure at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bring a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield it. So be made strong even in your weakness by lifting up your tired hands in prayer and worship. And strengthen your weak knees, for as you keep walking forward on God’s path all your stumbling ways will be divinely healed!

This is one of my go to passages when we are tempted to give up. When I get disappointed with people and want to hide. When I so much see others potential and get frustrated when they refuse to move. I have to remember, that I am running a race myself and cannot get distracted. I have to work that patience muscle and not allow disappointments to become wounds. God will work things out in them and it is their choice to stop running, but that does not mean I need to stop.

You see I am talking out of the heart of a pastor. Patience is one of the faith muscles that we constantly have to grow in. There are those who are stubborn and will never get out of the mindset of a God that gives and takes away. We love them anyways. I have to rejoice and celebrate in the ones who take a hold of the Word of God and let it work in their life. When I see Hebrews 12 come alive to them. As a pastor our trials are not often lusts, to some they are. To me one of my trials is people. I see so much potential in the people that God has put in my life. I have to remind myself that God is their parent, Amanda. Just like I had to remind myself of the teens and some of the stuff they are allowed to do. I am not their parent. Pray and allow God to do the work in them. It is their choice. I have to run my race. Those that allow me to mentor, I mentor. Those that do not, pray that the door will open so that they can receive from someone who will point them to God. It is all about perspective!

Manifestations…am I crazy!

The past few month the desire in me has been to see the manifestations of God on earth again. You know the stuff you read about in the Bible. If Acts 1:8 says, “But I promise you this – the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power.” What power was Jesus talking about? Power like Elisha who called down lightning? Complete healing from touching the hem of a garment? How about the power of the shadow of Peter?

What is limiting us from seeing the blind, deaf and lame healed? From us walking in the wholeness that God desires for us?

The mindset of the flesh. We will not stop overthinking this salvation and born again thing. We are so caught up in Galatians 5:19-21 (TPT), The cravings of the self-life are obvious: Sexual immorality, lustful thoughts, pornography, chasing after things instead of God, manipulating others, hatred of those who get in your way, senseless arguments, resentment when others are favored, temper tantrums, angry quarrels, only thinking of yourself, being in love with your own opinions, being envious of the blessings of others, murder, uncontrolled addictions, wild parties, and all similar behavior. Haven’t I already warned you that those who use their “freedom” for these things will not inherit the kingdom of God!

We put ourselves under condemnation especially when you see your brothers and sisters in Christ walking in verses 22-23: But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.

Law? Condemnation is part of the law.

When we try to measure up to the person next to us, that is putting ourselves under the law. When you think that just because you attend church, that is what showing fruit is, that is under the law.

From looking at these verses from this perspective I can see only one fruit of the spirit.

Love…the rest are attributes.

Just look at 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 (TPT) for the similarities: Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; loves does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I have felt condemnation about not living up to what people standards of what this love looks like to them. I have even had this verse and the previous verses quoted at me for not meeting their standard of love (which by the way as Christians make us look petty and does not win the other back). So how can we do this love walk?

John 15:4-10 (TPT) Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

If we are free from the law then what are the commandments?

Matthews 22:37-39 (TPT) Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

Galatians 6:1-5 My beloved friends, if you see a believer who is overtaken with a fault, may the one who overflows with the Spirit seek to restore him. Win him over with gentle words, which will open his heart to you and will keep you from exalting yourself over him. Love empowers us to fulfill the law of the Anointed One as we carry each other’s troubles. If you think you are too important to stoop down and help another, you are living in deception. Let everyone be devoted to fulfill the work God has given them to do with excellence, and their joy will be in doing what’s right and being themselves, and not in being affirmed by others. Every believer is ultimately responsible for his or her own conscience.

Know this about myself, this is something I am having to continually walk in.

When I read 1 Kings about Solomon and his refusal to listen to the warnings of God, I had to repent for watching a movie with my youngest that I knew we should not have watched.

When I post about teenagers, it is because I have teenagers. I have to correct and change how I do things. I do not always get this parenting thing right, but I am progressing.

Why are we not seeing the power of God move? We still have to get closer to the vine. How do we get closer to the vine? I need to get in my Word more…I need to be led by the Holy Spirit more. I need to compare myself with others less.

We cannot be afraid of judgment of those in the church when we need help to overcome what they have already overcome. I cannot hide from conviction and led it become condemnation (putting ourselves under the law). We deny we are wrong and then do not allow the Word to work fully in our lives. I have to die to myself, so that I can live free in Him! There is so much more freedom if we truly open ourselves up to what the Word wants to do in our lives.

There is so much more freedom if we truly open ourselves up to what the Word wants to do in our lives.

I believe that healing is still for today. I believe that miracles can still happen.

There is a song that I have had on repeat in my head. It is there when I fall asleep, it is there when I wake in the morning, it has been within me as I write this. It is called “This is a Move.” Click on the title if you want to give it a listen, but here are some of the lyrics:

Bodies are still being raised
Giants are still being slain
God we believe, cause yes we can see that
Wonders are still what You do.

We are here for You, come and do what You do
We are here for You, come and do what You do
We set our hearts on You, come and do what You do
Cause we need a move

Miracles happen when You move
Healing is coming in this room

Abide in Him…that is the secret. I have to continually abide in Jesus with the expectation that manifestations are a natural part of who He is. I have to allow the release of the Holy Spirit within me. There is a great move that God still wants to do on this earth. He loves to demonstrate who He is. Can you see it now (2 Kings 6:17)?

Peace, Love and Jesus

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives our fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

As I read the first four books of the New Testament I saw a theme on what Jesus taught the disciples. He taught them about love and having faith. Peach and love go hand in hand. You cannot have faith and not love, and you cannot have peace without faith.

Lisa Bevere in Without Rival states: Fear is costly. It will steal your thoughts, your dreams, your relationships, your finances, your faith and your hope. Love is constant, it is supremely generous. It seeks to restore your relationships, your dreams and your hopes.

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13, you know the verse we quote at each other when we talk about the love walk. Let us do a little something different. Let us replace love with fear.

Fear is impatient and unkind while it envies and boasts; it is arrogant and rude. Fear insists on it’s own way; it is irritable and resentful; rejoices in wrong doing, rather than in truth. Fear bears nothing, believes nothing, hopes nothing, endures nothing. Fear will end.

When I inserted fear here, I saw some attributes of my self that I did not like. So I started saying this over myself daily:

Amanda is patient (suffers long). Amanda is kind. Amanda does not envy. Amanda does not boast (or parade herself). Amanda is not proud (puffed up). Amanda does not dishonor others (behave rudely). Amanda is not self seeking. Amanda is not easily angered (provoked). Amanda keeps no records of wrongs (thinks evil). Amanda does not delight in evil (rejoice in iniquity). Amanda rejoices in truth. Amanda always protects (bears all things). Amanda always trusts (believes all things). Amanda always hopes. Amanda always perseveres (endures). Amanda never fails.

I did a study not to long ago with my youth. My study Bible expounded on this verse a little more for my group:

Love "suffers long" means that God's love has patience with imperfect people.
"Love does not envy" means that real love wants other people to get ahead.
"Love does not parade itself" means that Bible love doesn't put on a big show in order to impress others.
Love "is not puffed up" or "proud" refers to the fact that people who walk in God's love do not have big heads.
Love "does not seek it's own" means that it is not self-centered and selfish but instead looks out fo the needs of others.
Love "is not provoked"; it is not irritable under pressure. Still working on this one!!
Love "thinks no evil" means it doesn't keep a record of wrongs done to it and is constantly forgiving.
Love "does not rejoice in iniquity" and does not rejoice in the mistakes and failures of others. The "God don't like ugly" statement makes my skin crawl.
Love "rejoices in the truth" means that it believes in what is open and hones.
Love "bears all things" is the kind of love that defends and hold other people up.
Love "believes" the best about other people.
Love "hopes all things" means that it never gives up on people.
Love "endures all things" is love that perseveres and is loyal to the end.

When I read this, it made me think of Philippians 4:8, Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of a good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.

Have you had a hard time choosing to meditate on these types of things? You know it is a choice. When we choose not to meditate this way about our situation or about people then we choose fear, the opposite of peace. Which means we choose not to love.

Do you know how I know I am not walking in His perfect love? When I do not have His peace. The peace that you can have by taking a nap in a raging storm (Mark 4:37-38).

Do you know how I know I am not walking in His perfect love?

When I do not have His peace.

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, with surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Your requests are made known to God, not Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, Tik Tok, etc.

Then we do verse 8 (think only on the pure, lovely, virtuous), and verse 9 is our promise: The thing which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

I have to make a choice in my mind and heart to love. I can walk in peace during the storms. The storm is where my destiny will be revealed, and I want to walk in my destiny! How many, like myself, see an area of the love walk that we can work on? It is okay that we still have work to do. It means that we have a destiny. He created us for good things and He is preparing us just for that (Ephesians 2:10). This mess that I got into will be used one day to lead others to Jesus. Remember love endures all things and is loyal to the end.

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain, faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Peace Even During Difficulty

Nearly two years ago I was terminated from a job that I no longer felt joy in going to. Honestly I should have left a year and a half before. However, I stayed not listening to God, because I could not see how we could have all the luxuries we do now without it. I know it was selfish! It was a huge mistake and the mistake that I made (as unintentional as it was) was a huge blow to my character…so I thought.

What did I do when confronted with this blow? I spent the first week in the word NON STOP! I read books on dealing with rejection. I dove deeper into my Bible. I even pulled out my old study Bible from m when I first accepted Christ, at the age of eighteen. I played worship music for hours!!

Peace did not leave me in that transition. Why? I was ready to leave that job, I was the one holding onto it. It was my fault that I put myself into that situation. I was bound and determined that I was going to hold true to His Word. Romans 8: 28 says, “So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.”(TPT)

God was going to get the glory for this! I did not hide. I did not fall into depression. I did not blame anyone for my circumstances. Did I have moments? Um…I am not perfect, of course I did! They were only allowed to be moments though. Jesus left us a promise:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

People today define peace as long as things are going their way. We hear “World Peace” as in reference to ending of wars and no crime. Peace is defined in this manner as “Stress-free state of security and calmness that comes when there is no fighting or war.”

Jesus left us a supernatural peace though. A peace that will be there even in the midst of great difficulty.

2 Peter 1:2 (with emphasis added), “May grace (God’s unmerited favor demonstrated through power on your behalf) and a peace (a state of perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to your through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

There was a time when Jesus was at peace and those that were with him were not. In Mark 4:35-40 we can see that Jesus is with the disciples on a boat and a storm comes up. Jesus, however, is sleeping through it… the disciples were not. Right away in verse thirty five Jesus tells them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Then He grabs a pillow and takes a nap. Do you not think that Jesus knew that a storm was coming?

Do you not think that God knew a storm was going to come into your life? He knew I would be terminated. Why is is that when things like that happen we going into a lament and shout out to God “Why me?” Then we withhold ourselves thinking we will ease some stress.

I once read a tweet that said, “Today in church a Pastor said this: If you can trust a puzzle company to make sure every piece is in the box to complete the puzzle, then why can’t you trust God that every piece of your life is there for a reason?”

Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

God knows the beginning to the end, not just about earth, but about our individual lives as well. Can I stand in peace through trials?

Lisa Bevere wrote a book called Without Rival. Here are a couple of quotes I pulled out during this time in my life: “Moses learned that destiny is revealed in seasons of confrontation rather than season for comfort.” “The anointing set you apart, but confrontations, storms and trials will set you up.”

“Moses learned that destiny is revealed in seasons of confrontation rather than season for comfort.”

Lisa Bevere

Remember that in times of trials you can hold onto His peace. You are not shouldering this alone.

1 Peter 5:7, “Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.” (TPT) The New King James Version tells us to, “cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Whether you lay it down, or you throw it to Him, He cares for us so much that we do not need to feel like the trials are just for us alone. He knows the path to go through them and He will walk every step with us, knowing this we can be at peace.