Untie the colt

Acts 4:13 (AMP) Now when the men of the Sanhedrin (Jewish High Court) saw the confidence and boldness of Peter and John, and grasped the fact that they were uneducated and untrained [ordinary] men, they were astounded, and began to recognize that they had been with Jesus.

Yesterday we began what we call “Holy Week.” Starting with Palm Sunday, we celebrate and reflect on the week leading up to the Resurrection of Jesus on the following Sunday. Palm Sunday was the day that Jesus made His triumphant entrance into the city riding on the back of colt, the foal of a donkey,(Luke 19:28-38) as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.

Jesus was 30 years old when He was baptized and He started His ministry. We read in Luke 2:41 that His parents took Him every year to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. We even see at the age of 12 that He was able to talk about and have an intellectual conversation about the scriptures. He was 33 years old when He went to the cross. Nearly 33 years walking into that city for the Passover Feast. Why was this one so special? Jesus knew that the time would come. There was never a time that He did not celebrate the Passover. What made Him decide this time was different?

Reading the story of John and Peter healing a man in front of the temple, and then getting arrested, made me think of what Jesus’s disciples thought when their king was hung on the cross. How many times do we say, “it was not in God’s time” because we do not see an abundance of blessing poured out on someone when they step out? Looking at these two situations. That is what it looked like in the natural. How big was their faith to say “even if?”

Jesus hung on the cross for hours in agony. He died a horrible death. Our Jesus willing did that. God did not have the colt waiting for Him to ride at the bottom of the Mt. of Olives. He had to tell His disciples to go and get it. He chose to do it!

Matthew 22:14 (AMP), Jesus said, “For many are called (invited, summoned), but few are chosen.” Do you think that meant that we are called forth and chosen? Remember in elementary school how we would be divided on team for dodge ball? We would have two “captains” and they would take turns calling out the names of the kids they wanted on their team. It was always humiliating to be the kid picked last. That is not how it works in the Kingdom. Chosen here means you have a choice. Chosen are the ones that say ‘yes’ even if.

What has got you from grabbing onto your colt and starting? We were not told the year or age that Jesus would die on the cross before hand? John and Peter did not say, “God said,” before they laid hands on the sick. It was the Holy Spirit inside of them that led them.

Many of us do not want to step out of God’s timing. May I encourage you to not be led in fear of punishment, but know that He loves a heart that is willing.

Romans 8:28 (AMP)  And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.

Let me encourage you this Holy Week to step out into your calling. Make a contact this week. Peter and John were not qualified by man’s standards. Jesus was ridiculed even up to the moment of His death.

Matthew 27:54 (NIV) When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Even if it looks like a mess, He can turn it into good. They will be astounded at the goodness of God. Untie the colt and start!!

Leaving the Boat

Matthew 14:29-30 He said, “Come!” So Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw [the effects of] the wind, he was frightened, and he began to sink, and he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

As a church, we are on day eight of 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. I look forward to this time every year. I choose something to fast that I know will make me have to dig into His Word deeper.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV) If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

To humble ourselves is to not think highly of ourselves. A strong, confident person can be humble. Look at David. He was not a coward and he did not back down. He was even accused of being conceited by his brother (1 Samuel 17:28). A humble person will want to see the best for others. I want my nation healed, because I want them restored to their original purpose.

Peter was the only disciple to get out of the boat. The conditions were not calm, and they were not perfect. Peter walked on the water in faith. It was when he looked at the wind that he began to sink. Peter was outspoken and quick to action. He still walked on the water.

I had a sinking moment not too long ago. In trying to get others out of the boat, I was called judgmental. It looked like only a few wanted to step out with me, and I am grateful for them. I started to look at the wind, at just the few. I started to look at their lack of commitment, their lack of energy and their lack of passion to reach their community. I wanted to quit. I was looking at all areas to escape having to stand up in front of people. I was going to hide and serve in the background. I was going to revert back to the boat. Questioning whether He really did say, “Come.” I was sinking.

In this 21 Days of Prayer of Fasting, by day 5, I received confirmation that I was called out of the boat. Not too long ago I wrote about “Stepping Out of Fear Into My Hiding Place.” My story is that I did all the behind the scene items at my church I served where ever they needed someone. Whenever they asked for somebody, I was that somebody. I asked God to settle the fear within me. I was overwhelmingly afraid of public speaking. So much so, that I would cry and get sick at the thought of it. My desire was not to hold a platform, it wanted to see the captives set free, just like I had been set free.

Rejection and not being what someone wanted almost made me get back in that boat. I fear the Lord in that I never want to cause someone else to stumble. I want them to grow closer to God. If me standing on that stage, exhorting them to get out of the boat, was going to cause them not to want to grow, then I was going to step off of it for good. I felt broken. This scripture and all the messages I had been listening to confirmed, that I was called to be out of that boat. I need to get my eyes off of people and keep my eyes on Jesus. He pulled me back out of the waters from drowning. I am not going back to that boat!

Praying that God speaks to you today and encourages you to keep looking at Him. When you start seeing the wind (distractions, disappointments, rejections, etc.) reach out your hand, He has you. Have an amazing week!

I was born with a mission to set captives free!!!

Water Walkers Series by Dr. Dharius Daniels

Hosanna Wong, Say Yes to Jesus

Are you exhausted, yet?

Luke 5:5 (AMP) Simon replied, “Master, we worked hard all night [to the point of exhaustion] and caught nothing [in our nets], but at Your word I will [do as you say and] lower the nets [again].”

The month of December can mean a bunch of different things to every one. We can busy ourselves cramming in as much holiday festivities as possible. Such as, scheduling in ginger bread house building, cookie baking and decorating, attending parades and all the wonderful things a small town like ours has to offer. Some are just getting started on their Christmas shopping lists or taking second and third jobs to be able to buy something for their loved ones for Christmas.

I like all the Christmas events, although, I do not stress to get there. I have ginger bread houses that I bought after last Christmas to put together, but I have not carved out that exact time to do them. Christmas cookies are ready to be baked. The icing and other items have been sitting on my counter for weeks ready to be put on with creative hands. Although, I have not set a time to do that either. Maybe I will have some ready for my boys when they get home from school today. Maybe not. We have all December long to do them.

One of the items I did carve out to do this December is to get out a new Advent Devotional and start reading the Book of Luke again (if you read one chapter a day starting December 1, you will read the entire life of Jesus by Christmas Day). Yesterday as I was waking up, and realizing it was Sunday, my thoughts were to what church service would be like. I prayed about bringing something fresh to the house of worship. How could I be a blessing to my church? As I was reading chapter five of the Book of Luke this verse popped out at me. They had worked all night to the point of exhaustion. To me exhaustion comes when I have been either disappointed, distracted or devastated. Which ‘D’ word do you think they associated with when they did not come home with any fish from making an effort all night long?

Jesus had already started His ministry at this point, yet He had not met His disciples. This was His first encounter with them. He saw some fishermen putting away their nets and asked for them to take Him out on their boat so that He could preach to the multitude following Him. After He finished, they were in awe. After the Word was brought, He told them to put down their nets again. Simon (Peter) told them how they were feeling, but despite how they felt, they did what He asked anyways. It was that “yes” moment that Simon’s life would never be the same. The nets were so full they nearly broke. There were other people in the boat, he had to asked for help to carry them in.

We may be broken. We may be exhausted. We may be run down by life. One Word can change all that. There is a “yes,” a “at Your word I will do as you say” moment. I have had a few of them and those moments have changed my life. The “yes” set me on a course for my purpose. Those exhaustion moments do happen, but not as often. Joy is found in the “yes.” My “yes’s” have a focus though. They are designed to glorify my Father. Bring Him into your Christmas plans this year.

Power in Hope

It has been a struggle to decide about what to write about today. In my personal time I have been reading through Psalms in the Message Translation. I wrote about the inward reflection that David took earlier this week (Psalms 42). Last night in youth, one of my leaders led a discussion on Psalms. I had to admit to them, that David is probably someone I would struggle to look up to in leadership, or even to be around. I enjoy him when He is leading them into battle, when he is leading them into worship and when he is talking about all the great things of God. Then he gets to this lamenting, not just complaining and whining, but deep down in the dumps kind of talk.

Psalms 13:1-2 (MSG) Long enough, God— you’ve ignored me long enough. I’ve looked at the back of your head long enough. Long enough I’ve carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain.
Long enough my arrogant enemies have looked down their noses at me.

Then I remember, God said that this was a man after His own heart. In this I am reminded that I have to have some of these kinds of people in my life. There are going to be leaders in my life that I have to honor even if I do not like their personality. Then it made me think, how do I come off on others? Most of the time I am quiet because I feel like I can come off harsh. I was told in one work place (a Christian nonprofit) that I did not speak in love and that they did not receive me as a person that lived 1 Corinthians 13. This hurt me deeply because I try to live Philippians 4:8 (AMP), “Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].” I try to live this towards God’s creation. I sometimes have to realign my thinking to this, but that is truly my goal. I asked them about this verse and they quickly informed me that they could not apply that to me. Ouch! So I rub people the wrong way sometimes too. Paul did, Peter did, even Hannah did with Eli the prophet. My heart is for other’s to feel that love of Christ to come through me, this truly is what I want to be rooted in.

There are going to be leaders in my life that I have to honor even if I do not like their personality.

I do understand that this is probably not who David was to everyone. Only those closest to him saw this side of him. What we are reading are his words pouring out to God. Why does God want us to see this? It’s okay that we are not okay sometimes. We need to cry out in our deep grief and anger. He knows our heart anyways!

I told the group last night that David reminded me of He-Man from the cartoon series in the 1980s. In his writings, David, does seem like he has two very distinct personalities. Prince Adam had all the feelings, he cooked, he goofed off and seemed not all that together. He wore a pink vest and purple leggings! Then when he got the “power” he transformed into this warrior.

The power I think is when David remembers his position, that God is for him and not against him. The “power” for David is always underlying there because even in the lament of Psalms 13 we see verse 15-16 (MSG), “I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—I’m celebrating your rescue. I’m singing at the top of my lungs, I’m so full of answered prayers.” David was never without hope. There is power in hope. It was the root of who David really was. May we never let go of hope.

Hope is one of the ingredients Paul talks about at the end of 1 Corinthians 13, verse 13 (TPT), “Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.” I did not forget about love. It is the most important, I know. I am running for that beautiful prize (I may not be athletic, but I am competitive).

If you need prayer please message me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Jesus got tired too

Yesterday I had the privilege of delivering the message to my church, and to all of those that connected with us online via Facebook Live. I knew by the beginning of the week that I was going to have to prepare. My husband tested positive for COVID-19. He is doing well and has gotten over the worst of it. The way our home is set up is that the kitchen is in the center. To one side of the house is our grown up sweet. It has it’s own bedroom and bathroom, dining area, and living area with a fridge. The opposite side of the kitchen is another dining area, two bathrooms, the kids rooms and another living area. The kids and I stayed on one side, my husband had to stay on the other (not fun for someone who’s love languages are quality time and physical touch like he is).

God gave me this title right away, “Reset Your Position.” I initially thought ‘okay God you want me to talk about positional authority’…authority of the believer. Then, while in Body Pump Tuesday, it came to me. When we start to fatigue because our muscles are sore, we have to reset our position to make sure we are targeting the right muscle groups. If I do not take the time to reset my position, I will not target the correct muscle groups that I am suppose to be working on.

John 4:6 (AMPC) And Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, tired as He was from His journey, sat down [to rest] by the well.

Remember Jesus knows what it feels like to be us. He got tired too. I think He had a lot of tired moments. What He was about to do was going to take all of His strength. Jesus modeled how we need to reset our position.

Matthew 26:38-39 (AMPC) Then He said to them, My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with Me. And going a little farther, He threw Himself upon the ground on His face and prayed saying, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire], but as You will and desire.

Judas knew where to find Him because this was not the first time He had been there. Actually we see Jesus going off to pray a lot (Luke 4:1-12, 45-15; Mark 6:30-32; Matthew 4:1-13; Luke 6:12-13); Luke 22:39-44; Luke 5:16 are just some of the scriptures), especially after time of great ministry and miracles. Why? He had to reset His position.

If fasting is to reset my focus, prayer is to reset my position. I need to reset my position not only when I fast. I need to reset my position when I am out doing what He called me to do. We were not meant to carry this alone. Jesus could not either. He had to reset His position.

If fasting is to reset my focus, prayer is to reset my position.

That was Jesus. What did He say about you?

John 16:13-15 (TPT) But when the truth-giving Spirit comes, he will unveil the reality of every truth within you. He won’t speak his own message, but only what he hears from the Father, and he will reveal prophetically to you what is to come.  He will glorify me on the earth, for he will receive from me what is mine and reveal it to you. Everything that belongs to the Father belongs to me—that’s why I say that the Divine Encourager will receive what is mine and reveal it to you. 

Acts 1:8 (TPT) But I promise you this—the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power. And you will be my messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, the distant provinces—even to the remotest places on earth!”

Acts 2:4 (TPT) They were all filled and equipped with the Holy Spirit and were inspired to speak in tongues—empowered by the Spirit to speak in languages they had never learned!

Jude 20 (AMPC) But you, beloved, build yourselves up (founded) on your most holy faith (make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher), praying in the Holy Spirit.

Another way I reset is to get in my Word. I love what Priscilla Shirer says, “If you want to hear from God and you never read the Bible, then you really don’t want to hear from God.” When you reset your position in prayer, praying in the Spirit and getting in His Word, all that comes out of your mouth is His promises not what is going on around you.

When what is going on around you is starting to fatigue you, it is time to reset your position.

This year is going to bring different challenges. Did you take the time to get stronger? Are you tired? That is okay, it just means that it is time to reset your position.

2 Peter 1:3-4 (TPT) Everything we could ever need for life and complete devotion to God has already been deposited in us by his divine power. For all this was lavished upon us through the rich experience of knowing him who has called us by name and invited us to come to him through a glorious manifestation of his goodness. As a result of this, he has given you magnificent promises that are beyond all price, so that through the power of these tremendous promises you can experience partnership with the divine nature, by which you have escaped the corrupt desires that are of the world.

I want it all

What does a life look like that has come alive to God? It’s not going to be the same.The Gospel message is more than reciting a prayer to accept Jesus as your Savior.

We all desire something. The thing we desire was placed in us by God; and He has given us the choice to walk in it, but without His Son we cannot be full in it.

What is this thing that we desire?

Matthew 22:37-38 (NIV) Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.”

That’s not the only place you will find that either.

Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Do you know what those next verses say? These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

We do the first, but lack confidence in the second part.

Acts 4:10-14 (TPT) Peter states: “you and everyone else in Israel should know that it is by the power of the name of Jesus that the crippled man stands here today completely healed! You crucified Jesus Christ of Nazareth,[a] but God raised him from the dead. 11 This Jesus is ‘the stone that you, the builders, have rejected, and now he has become the cornerstone!’[b] 12 There is no one else[c] who has the power to save us, for there is only one name to whom God has given authority by which we must experience salvation:[d] the name of Jesus.”

Here is what I want to put inside of you: 13 The council members were astonished as they witnessed the bold courage[e] of Peter and John, especially when they discovered that they were just ordinary men who had never had religious training.[f] Then they began to understand the effect Jesus had on them simply by spending time with him. 14 Standing there with them was the healed man, and there was nothing further they could say.

Do you remember the feeling of when you first accepted Christ?

Matthew 13:44 (NLT) The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

Now I know some of you are like, ‘now you are asking too much of me’. Really? He has not asked for all of us to sell all of our belongings. He did not tell me that.

What does Paul tell us? Philippians 3:7-16 (NKJV) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain[b] to the resurrection from the dead.

Let me tell you, I haven’t gotten all there yet, but like Paul: 12 Not that I have already attained,[c] or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have [d]apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already [e]attained, let us walk by the same [f]rule, let us be of the same mind.

One thing that I can say about myself, I am not the same person I was a year ago. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago and I sure am not the same person I was 22 years ago when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.

We get to a place in our thoughts and we think we are “okay” because we have a balanced life.  That’s our goal right? To have a balanced life, to raise my kids in a safe environment, where none of us are suffering. Do you know how strange that is to the rest of the Christian world? American Christianity is so different from the rest of the world. They are willing to die just by admitting they are a Christian and here we are not being bold about the divinity of Jesus so that we do not offend. We are willing to deny His power to placate someone’s feelings because that’s “Love.”

We are willing to deny His power to placate someone’s feelings because that’s “Love.”

This is the fullness of the Gospel: Luke 14:25-27 (MSG) 25-27 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.

God has really been pointing out this word “refuse” to me this year. It started when I read about Solomon. God spoke to him about marrying all the women from different nations and Solomon refused to listen, that was the beginning of the end of the lineage of David as kings.

Definition of refuse: verb. Indictes that one is not willing to accept or grant (something offered or requested). Fails to perform a required action.

Luke 14:33 (MSG) Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple. This was Jesus speaking.

I know that is not a popular place to be in this day in age. We could not be true pastors if we do not take this to heart.

Acts 20:26-27 (TPT) If any of you should be lost, I will not be blamed, for my conscience is clean, because I have taught you everything I could about God’s eternal plan and I’ve held nothing back.

I have been hurt in the church. I know what it is like to have people say things about me that are not true. That does not mean I have a right not to do what I am gifted in.

In March of this year, right when Covid had caused the nation to go into Stay at Home Orders, I decided that since I could not go to the gym that I would start to hike. It would help me keep in shape. Now I am heavy in the bottom area. I have not had a thigh gap since I got pregnant with my oldest. My body is just not made that way. So I over compensated for the weight displacement and pulled my calf muscle (the top part). In turn that caused my knee to become inflamed and I could not bend it. I had to let it rest and apply ice and heat intermittently. My goal was not just to get it to feel better, but to get it to where I could exercise again.

The same is when we get hurt in the body of Christ. I cannot allow it to stop me. The Word of God is there to cool my spirit man to bring healing. The Holy Spirit gets my spirit man on fire to do the works of the ministry. I need both in my life. If I do not allow both to work, then I am in danger of becoming lukewarm and then I refuse to move.

A refusal to be moved!

Let’s look some dangers that we can be in:

  •  “I like hearing stories of those who do radical things for Christ, but that’s too extreme for me to do.”
  • “I do not want to be rejected or thought of as weird, so I am not going to share my faith.”
  • “I am willing to give only when I know I have enough to meet my standard of living.”
  • “I love God, but that kind of devotion is asking too much. That is only for pastors, missionaries and radicals.”

Ask yourself: Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live? Do you see evidence of God’s kingdom in your life? If not make up your mind right now that you are going to allow God more access to your life.

My husband was using these next scriptures in a recent sermon, I was leaping with excitement in my heart for these Words for the church. I believe they were prophetic in more ways that you could even know:

Ezekiel 37:1-3 (AMP) The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass all around them, and behold, there were very many [human bones] in the open valley; and lo, they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” 

These dry bones could be you and I when we do not proclaim the Word of God in our lives. When we refuse to get in His Presence. When we refuse to get in His Word. When we refuse to speak His Word only. They were not always dry bones.

Ezekiel 37:4-6 (AMPC) Again He said to me, Prophesy to these bones and say to them, O you dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath and spirit to enter you, and you shall live; And I will lay sinews upon you and bring up flesh upon you and cover you with skin, and I will put breath and spirit in you, and you [dry bones] shall live; and you shall know, understand, and realize that I am the Lord [the Sovereign Ruler, Who calls forth loyalty and obedient service].

Hear my heart: 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!

God is not the one fencing us in.

Lisa Bevere in Lioness Arising writes, “But the lioness did not move outside their enclosure until their hunger exceeded their desire to be safe. In the same way, our lack of vision or hunger for something more can limit and restrain us from stepping out into the wild. We are emboldened and held captive by how we see ourselves, our world, and our God. The world ‘out there’ can look daunting if you imagine it a dark, scary place.”

1 John 4:4 (NIV) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

What is stopping your from stepping out into desiring more for God in your life?

Do not let these things keep you from having freedom:

  • Lack
  • Fear
  • Shame
  • Sickness
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Hurt
  • Offense
  • Disappointment

Ezekiel 37:10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath and spirit came into [the bones], and they lived and stood up upon their feet, an exceedingly great host.

Know His Word, Speak His Word. Desire everything that God has for you! He wants to give it to you!! He wants you to be full in Him. He wants you to be made whole. The power to do it is still on earth today.

Imperfect is not failure

As I was reading this week I came across in my studies stories of people that Jesus had a personal relationship with. We read of the twelve disciples, of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and of the countless people He fellowshipped with over meals. What would it be like to have that ability to have that close contact with Jesus? That is what I look for when I read my Word.

What really stood out to me what that none of them were perfect people. They all had some sort of flaw. There are some very notable flaws that we refer to like ‘Doubting Thomas’, ‘Workaholic Martha’, ‘Peter the Denier’, ‘Saul the Persecutor’…kind of sounds like the labels we put on people that have flaws. Why do we label people with their flaws? I talk out of someone who has done the same thing. I have labeled people as ‘Negative Nellie’ or ‘Mouth of the South’. I am not proud of it and had to come this week with a repentive heart.

Doubting Thomas was a man that loved Jesus. He asked questions, that Jesus happily answered. Thomas received deep revelation from the mouth of Jesus. John 14:5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” The response of Jesus is what we have laid much our of Christian foundation on, the importance of Jesus being the only way… (verse 6) Jesus said to him, “I am the the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” We might refer to him as ‘Doubting Thomas’, but Jesus thought He was the perfect person to reveal this revelation to personally.

What about Martha? Martha is the sister of Mary and Lazarus. This was a very dear family to Jesus. He showed great love to them as revealed in the writings of John (John 11:5). We read the story of when Jesus comes to the house, Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus and Martha wants Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Jesus tells her that Mary is do the most important thing (Luke 10:38-42). Could you just feel pride swell up inside of you if you were corrected instead of getting your way? I know I have that flaw myself. Then we get to Lazarus dying. Jesus knew he was sick but did not come right away (John 11:6), but He did come.

John 11:20-27 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would have died.” A lot of people like to stop here and take this conversation out of context to prove the heart of Martha, that she liked to scold, but read further. “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is it to come into the world.”

Another amazing foundational statement made to someone so very ordinary, someone we have seen have flaws. She received such a revelation that we stand on to this day. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. She received this because she knew who Jesus was personally. Although she knew Him in a way we could never know. She did not just know Him as a person, she knew Him as Lord, and that is how we know Him.

Why is this so important? Let’s look at Peter. Remember, he was the one who denied Jesus three times. He had flaws, but that did not mean he did not have revelation knowledge. Jesus would often test his disciples knowledge in forms of questions or in actions. There was the time He fed the 5000, when He walked on water, when He slept during the storm, when He healed, etc. Here is a time He wanted to know what they knew about Him personally. Matthew 16:13-15 When Jesus came into the region of Caesara Philippi, He asked the disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I , the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said t them, “But who do you said that I am?” Some great answers right? None of which were true, but they sounded good.

Matthew 16:16-18 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” On this revelation knowledge, Jesus the Son of the living God, is the foundation for the church. There is a difference between head knowledge and revelation knowledge. Until we seek Jesus on a personal level, all we will have is head knowledge. Things we say can sound good, but we really do not take it to heart to transform us.

There is grace in our flaws. Now I want to be clear that grace does not give us permission to stay in our flaws. Grace is not a free pass to do as we please, to not have consequences and not to be disciplined. Grace is there for when I need Him most. I have used these verses before with the words of Paul: Romans 7:18-24 (MSG) But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I ca will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in the delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

Have you ever felt that way? I know I do sometimes. I mess up and say harsh words. I watch a movie that I should not have watched with my kids. I put off an assignment until the last minute (like this blog, I just could not bring myself to write yesterday). Paul is not saying that we should surrender to living in constant defeat of our flaws. The enemy wants us to look at our imperfections as failures. What he is doing is expressing frustration. His words demonstrate that he longs to be free from those imperfections. Let’s look at the next verse (verse 25 in the Message translation), The answer, that God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

The enemy wants us to look at our imperfections as failures.

This is grace. Jesus can and does. Through this revelation knowledge Paul (as we do) has the energy to keep going. He did not just give into his sin, the influence of sin, he stood on the revelation knowledge of who Jesus is. Paul wanted to serve God with all of his heart and mind. He desired it. I believe that Martha, Thomas and Peter desired that as well. We may know them by their flaws, but He does not. People may remember you by your flaws, you may still be labeled by them. Do not give up hope. Jesus knows, but Jesus does. He is the resurrection and the life. He is the way, truth and the life. He is the Son of the living God. Nothing can separate us from that knowledge. Ground yourself in those words. Do not give up. You are not a failure just because of your imperfections. It just means we have a greater opportunity to have deeper revelation knowledge. To have more of a personal relationship with Jesus.

What is your heart’s cry?

About a year ago I did this study called Worship and Witness: Becoming a Great Commission Worshiper. Evangelism is hard, when you try to do it on your own. However, Jesus told us to go out and make disciples. How can we do that if we do not have a personal relationship with Jesus?

As a believer and follower of Christ our hearts cry should be to share the Gospel of Jesus. We should know the life, death and resurrection of Christ. We should fall so much in love with Him that all of our actions glorify His name. How can we do this if we do not have a foundation to build on? This is why personal study of the Word is so very important, but not without ways to implement it.

1 Peter 4:7-10 NKJV: “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful with 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 give, minister to one another, as good stewards of the manifold of grace of God.” (emphasis added by me)

The statement “love will cover a multitude of sins.” I love this because it is calling us to see each other as He sees us. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior our past should be our past and we should never know our brothers and sisters in Christ by their past mistakes. Our job is to encourage each other. When they are on the mountain top and I am in the wilderness, I am cheering them on, because I know I will not be far behind them. When they are in the valley and I am on the mountain top, I should not shame them but encourage them in the Word. Ultimately, it is our choice on how we perceive our current situations.

To continue on with what Peter is encouraging us to do I will continue in the Passion Translation: v. 11: “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.”

There is something that we could all be doing to serve in the Body of Christ. Without our willingness to serve we may be missing an opportunity to make disciples. If we look at it in that perspective, we may be more willing to step out in faith and put His Word into action.

Peter was not a perfect man, and sometimes I can relate to him. Most of the first four books of the New Testament verifies that. Peter was known and will forever be known as the man that denied Christ three times. However, he was still used by God. In John 21 we see that Jesus took special care to restore their relationship, then he opens his mouth again and wants to know what about John and what Jesus is going to do with him. Are we not like that sometimes?

Somewhere along the way, after Acts 1:8, Jesus tells them: “But I promise you this – the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be seized with power. And you will be my messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and the distant provinces – even to the remotest places on earth! (TPT)” This is what had to happen in Peter for him to mature. This is what made the difference of Peter of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and the Peter we see in Acts and First and Second Peter.

Peter urges us to serve, but do it without grumbling and complaining. Read what he writes in 1 Peter 5:1-3, ” I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it’s like to be a leader, in on Christ’s sufferings as well as the coming glory. Here’s my concern: that you care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way. (MSG)” What a difference in this man! His heart’s cry was to live a life that glorified Christ. He wanted to make Him famous! It was no longer about Peter. He did not let his past mistakes dictate his desire for Christ.

He did not let his past mistakes dictate his desire for Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV) But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

There has been a spiritual shift going on. What we are seeing in the natural is only of tremor of what is going on in the spiritual realm. What is your heart crying out for during this time? Is it to draw closer to Christ? Is it for revival in the church? For me it has for both of these, but it is also for the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus to be taught. Do not let your love for Christ just be lip service. Seek after His heart. Seek His face. Tell others about Jesus, the man who knows all about you, and still paid the price for you. He did not give up on Peter when he made mistakes and he has not given up on you.

Do not come down until you are ready!

From Nehemiah 6 MSG “I’m doing a great work; I can’t come down. Why should the work come to a standstill just so I can come down and see you?” “They were trying to intimidate us into quitting. They thought, ‘They’ll give up; they never finish it.’ I prayed, ‘Give me strength.'”

It is hard when other people do not meet your passion. There are countless men and women in the Bible that God gave them instruction and people questioned whether they even heard God at all.

Moses is one of my favorite people in the Bible. I can so relate to him! I probably would have reacted the same way to all of the grumbling and complaining as he did in Numbers 20, when he struck the rock, afterGod told him to speak to it. I might have even taken out a couple of people when going for that swing too! Not really, but you know he was thinking it.

In return Moses would not be able to join in with the others in entering the Promised Land. However, he still makes it into the Hall of Faith found in Hebrews 11.

Near the end of Moses life he writes the book of Deuteronomy. In this book he recites over and over the escape out of Egypt and their time in the wilderness. He was so adamant about teaching their children, and for generations to come, all that had happened (Stephen even stands before his accusers in Acts 7 reciting much of this). This all occurred after he was told he could not bring the people into the Promise Land.

Above all, Moses desired God’s presence more than he desired to enter the Promise Land. He was seeking His face. In Exodus 33:18 Moses asks: “Please, show me Your glory.”

Moses desired God’s presence more than he desired to enter the Promise Land.

Exodus 33:21-23 God responds, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you into the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand wile I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

Moses kept going up to the mountain to commune with God. He face would shine so bright after his encounters. Don’t you think while he was up there he could see the Promise Land knowing he would not enter it. Or did he…

Matthew 17:1-3 “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, let them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking Him.”

Moses appears with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, which happens to be in the physical location of the Promise Land. When he desired to see God before, he could only see His back, but now he sees Him face-to-face.

Moses did not give up going on the mountain top and neither should you. Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Icebreaker Question: Who do I relate to in the Bible?

This is one of the my favorite questions I get asked in small group settings. You know, it is your first time meeting a group of people and you are going to spend the next few weeks on a certain topic or doing a certain activity together. We are going to break the ice and talk about people we identify with in the Bible.

I actually identify with two people in the Bible.

The first is Moses.

Years ago, before my husband had to practically rip the mic from my hands on Sundays, I was petrified to speak in front of people.

Years ago, before my husband had to practically rip the mic from my hands on Sundays, I was petrified to speak in front of people. So bad in fact that one time my mother in law pushed the mic in my face to tell about the fundraiser I was having through my day care. People thought that I had such passion for the organization that they were handing me hundred dollar bills, because I was crying so hard telling them about it. So I identified with Moses because of his lack of speaking ability.

Another way I identified with Moses, was not how I was, but how I aspired to be.

Whenever Moses came back down from the mountain after speaking with God his face would glow. Moses spent so much time with God that the people would ask him to wear a veil in their presence because of the glow. My desire is to be like that.

The second person I identify with is Peter.

Peter gets a bad wrap to begin with. He is over zealous. Talks out of turn. Can be hot headed…he cut the ear off of the soldier trying to protect Jesus not knowing how to wield a sword. Then he denies Jesus three times even after telling Jesus (to his face) that he would never do that.

Here is what I love about Peter. He was the first one out of the boat to meet Jesus on the shore.

“Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land)…” John 21:7b-8a

Then Jesus takes the time to restore Peter. I love this because often times when I mess up I can see Jesus having the same conversation with me.

Taken from John 23:15-19 “Amanda, Do you have great affection for Me?” Me, “Yes, Jesus! You know I have so affection for you.” Jesus, “Then take care of the my children.” “Amanda, do you burn with love for me?” Me, “Jesus, I have so love for you.” Jesus, “Then take care of my people.” “Amanda, do you have great affection for me?” Me, “Jesus, I have already told you how much I love you.” Jesus, “Then feed my people.” Jesus, “Amanda, when you were younger you made your own choices and did as you pleased. Now it is time you grew up and follow after Me!”

We all need that “aha” moment. We get that moment where Jesus speaks directly to us. We start off as children still doing what we want. We make mistakes. Even when we follow after Him we still make them. Just like Jesus did with Peter, He doesn’t throw us away.

I love that story. I can hear Him saying my name. Can you hear Him say yours?