Pressing On

Philippians 3:10-14 (AMP) And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

These are some of my favorite verses to use in continuing with progress. If we are going to be truly like Jesus then we are going to have to bear some of His sufferings.  I have to press on and be the person that Jesus died for me to become.  We have been anointed for the hard stuff, we are not like the world (always wanting it easy).

John 10:10 (AMP) The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].

Know who our real enemy is.  Yes our battles belong to God, but that does not mean that He does everything for us.  Remember faith without works is dead!  There is something that God is going to tell you to do. New wine cannot be put into old wine skins.  New power cannot be put into old ways.  God does give us grace, but grace does not mean that we are to sit back and let God do everything.  God wants us to partner with Him to see everything come to pass.  If you do the work, you will remember where things are. This is why it is important for you to read and study the Bible for yourselves.

1 Peter 1:3-7 (AMP) Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant and boundless mercy has caused us to be born again [that is, to be reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] to an ever-living hope and confident assurance through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  [born anew] into an inheritance which is imperishable [beyond the reach of change] and undefiled and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, who are being protected and shielded by the power of God through your faith for salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time. In this you rejoice greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

There is a difference between knowing about God and really knowing Him.  You have to make an EFFORT.  Start now doing the things that you struggle with, because you know you should be doing them (to have the life you really want).  We need to start loving people the way Jesus loved them. 

There is a difference between knowing about God and really knowing Him. 

Luke 6:30-36 (AMP) Give to everyone who asks of you. Whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you [only] love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  If you lend[money] to those from whom you expect to receive [it back], what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to receive back the same amount.  But love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; for your reward will be great (rich, abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High; because He Himself is kind and gracious and good to the ungrateful and the wicked.  Be merciful (responsive, compassionate, tender) just as your [heavenly] Father is merciful.

We do not do things for people with the expectation that they are going to do something for you.  If we keep a good attitude and stop holding people hostage (really your are only hurting yourself) there is no way the devil will keep you from being blessed.  We are anointed for hard!  Just because it is hard does not mean it is of the devil.  Remember Jesus sent us a helper.  If you do what God tells you to do, your reward will be exceedingly great!  Let’s start with working on our part time obedience and get into full time. 

Look back at the second part of John 10:10 . “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” Jesus said that you may have and enjoy your life.  When I lost my job a few years ago I immediately went out to look for another. I felt better about myself when I worked. When I made a contribution. Or that is what I thought.  It takes a lot for me not to have a “job.”  I am where God needs me to be right now.  I am in a season of rest, but that does not mean I am not putting my hands to anything.  I get to spend hours in the Word now. 

I know have the freedom to schedule trips to go on conferences to hear more of the Word. I can now meet people in the middle of the day to meet their needs in a practical way, How much do you think it pleases the Father that He sees his children desire to set aside their time, finances and other resources willingly.

God wants us to enjoy the life He has given us.  There is power in confessing the Word.  As long as I have human flesh I am not going to do everything right all of the time.  God looks at our hearts. I am loved by God.  I am anointed.  I am talented.  I am growing Spiritually every day.  I am walking in God’s will.  I am going to do something great with my life.

Everyone of us has an equal opportunity in God.  If you believe, Him he will do these things…He did not say how long we had to believe. Keep pressing on! Remember it is not on your own strength, He sent us a Helper!!

Why do I fast?

Galatians 5:22-24 (NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Fasting requires us to use one of the fruits of the spirit that we do not like to do so much…self-control. It is hard. We do not like to deny ourselves, especially in a culture that promotes “Do what makes you happy.” I have found doing what makes me happy only lasts for a moment. Living this way can also result in you feeling regret and shame. Which are not fruits of the spirit.

I wrote a blog not too long ago that talked about the perspective of only being one fruit of the spirit and that being love. It is out of His love that we have joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:16-18 (NKJV) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

It is impossible to walk in the spirit if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. It is hard to walk in the spirit if you still have control and will not allow the Holy Spirit to lead. I know it is hard. I am a planner. My husband laughed because I broke out a folder with all of our reservations and tickets for the past trip we took. When we got married I had an entire three inch binder full of plans.

One of my favorite verses to remind myself of the self-control issue is 1 Corinthians 6:12 (TPT), It’s true that our freedom allows us to do anything, but that doesn’t mean that everything we do is good for us. I’m free to do as I choose, but I choose to never be enslaved to anything. The Amplified classic states, Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power.

When I allow Him to speak to me about the things that do not benefit me, I take back self-control. I do not want the have to have or do anything mentality. I am one of those that will have a television show that I have watched a hundred times in the background because it brings comfort. I am not alone in this. I do not want to get to a place that it is a “have to” and cannot be where He wants me to be at any given moment.

When I allow Him to speak to me about the things that do not benefit me, I take back self-control.

Philippians 3:13-17 (AMPC) I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also. Only let us hold true to what we have already attained and walk and order our lives by that.

I am going to make mistakes. Jesus was so full of compassion that He does not hide from us. I wrote down this year that my goal was progress. Last year I made a goal of running a 5K. In March I hurt my right calf so much that I could not bend my knee. I still have issues with it, so I had to stop running. Just because I hurt does not mean that I will not keep moving though. I am starting to walk the track again. The same in true with maturing in Christ. I have to seek Him more and in turn reach out more. Without an outlet to serve I will not grow where He wants me to grow. I want to forget about what is behind me that made me stumble. I want to press toward the goal. I want to win my prize! I want to become more mature.

Philippians 3:18-19 (NKJV) For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.

Food, hobbies, or anything we spend out time on can be so consuming that people find themselves ruled by it. Being ruled by something other than God can cause us not to hear His voice. It can cause us not to crave His voice. It can cause us not to desire to seek Him any longer. Being ruled by anything than God is something He takes very seriously. I do not want to live as an enemy of the cross. I know those are strong words, but they are true. I do not want to live resistant to the power of Christ’s death and resurrection because I cannot get self under control.

Philippians 3:20-21 (NKJV) For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

I have often used the excuse to not have self-control over the foods I choose is because I will one day be given a glorious body. However, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and Christ did pay a high price for me (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), so I cannot use that as an excuse. I want His power to help me bring everything – everything – under His control. Last night I talked quite a bit about this with my youth group. Our church will be starting 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting this Sunday as a corporate body. I told them to not just restrict their fasting to food. It does not even have to be food. It could be how they have chosen to spend their time. Fasting without prayer is just you going on a diet or changing your habits. The point is to draw us closer to God. When you start to think on the thing that you have chosen to give up, pray. Last year’s time of prayer and fasting brought so much peace to me that I was not shaken by the things that happened in 2020. I have read more of my Bible, read more books inspired by the Bible and started to write because it drew my focus away from me.

As we were talking last night I had them write down three things: 1) what in your life has become an idol that you cannot live without? 2) what in your life has made you feel defeated in not following after God more? 3) what do you feel has control over you so that you cannot have a deeper relationship with God? We wrote them on dissolve able paper. As they placed the slips of paper in the bowl of water, it dissolved to being no trace of those reasons at all. Christ paid the price. He is our strength. the power over those excuses were washed away when He spilled His blood for us.

Why do I fast? I want to mature. In order to mature, I need to get some of Amanda out of the way. (Fasting is not acting lowly or miserable). Self-control out of balance can lead to fear. We have not room to make fear first place in our lives at this moment in history. There is an impact I can make when I walk in His love. If you need to fast the news, social media, YouTube, Netflix, sugars, pizza, etc. Do so knowing that He paid a high price for you. He do not want anything having control of us. We should not be enslaved to anything. Make this year a year of progression. You are not going back to how you use to be, you are not staying where you are, but you are making a step towards the goal!

Please let me know how I can be praying for you during this time. You can email me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

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!

Could this be my real life or is it just a fantasy?

On Mother’s Day this year I preached a sermon titled “Could this be my real life or is it just a fantasy?” When God put that title in my mind it took me back to when I was pregnant with my oldest. I remembered being in the restroom at work and a coworker walked in and asked me what it was like to be pregnant. We were the same age and had been married roughly for the same amount of time. My response was that I told her that it felt “surreal.” It was a mix of fact and fantasy. Fact: My body was changing, there was life growing in me. Fantasy: What was my baby going to look like? Would I be a good mother? My baby would be a grown man in a short amount of time, would I be able to prepare him for his future?

When God asks us to take the next step in your life changing walk with Him, would you? Things are going to change. Child birth sure did not feel good while I was going through it, but the reward was so amazing!

What does a life look like that has come alive to God? It is not going to look the same. We all have a deep and earnest desire for 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.

John 14:16 (NIV) Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

What is it that of our heart’s desire? Could it be found in the first commandment? Matthew 22:37-38 tells us: Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”

I like how it is stated in Deuteronomy especially. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and will all your strength (Deut. 6:5 NIV). Very much like how it is stated in Matthew, but the next few verses gives us a deeper understanding of what it looks like. 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 doorframes of your houses and on your gates (Deut. 6:6-9).

We do the first part, but lack confidence in the second part. What if that was not a dream? What would it look life if this was a reality in my life? It was not always like that for us. When we first accept Christ we could not wait to tell other’s about Him. This deep passionate love that God desires for us to have takes effort. It takes building within a relationship. That was why Jesus was not liked by the religious leaders of the time. These relationship that He modeled for us to have with His Father took us out of just doing a ritual into an ever growing, maturing relationship. The way I look at it is that religion is wrapped up in fear (refusing to move). Relationship takes faith, because relationships grow and change.

The way I look at it is that religion is wrapped up in fear (refusing to move). Relationship takes faith, because relationships grow and change.

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.

I am not telling you to sell your belongings, but what do we have that stands in the way of us going deeper into the relationship that Jesus desires for us.

Philippians 3:7-16 NKJV But what things were to 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 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; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed in His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have already attained or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid of me. Brethren, I do not count myself as apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God is Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if anything you thing otherwise, God will reveal this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

Like Paul, I have not gotten everything that God desires for me, but I press on! I know that I have said this before, but I am not the same person I was a year ago. I am not the same person I was five years ago. As I write this and by the time it will be published it will be nine years since I stood up in front of my church and spoke for the very first time. There have been discouragements along the way. Not everything that I speak or write about will be received with an open heart. However, I press on. There is a prize to be awarded. I cannot see it and I will not receive it until I pass from this life until the next. We cannot let the circumstances of this world to keep us from attaining such things.

My oldest is now sixteen years old. I have made some mistakes while raising him. My perspective had to change because of the way that God designed him. One thing he does understand is that his mom loves God with all of her heart, mind and soul. I have put His Word before him (not beat him with it), but built him up in it. At sixteen he still kisses me before he leaves the house. He will nuzzle me with his head at random parts of the day. It is far better than I could have ever imagined or dreamed. It is a relationship that will forever grow and change.