How Are Christians the Salt of the Earth?

Jesus said [with confidence] {my words}

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

Matthew 5:13-16
Salt of the Earth
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Salt

The shaker on our table is what we bring to mind, but in Jesus’ day, salt was a valuable commodity. It was sometimes even used to pay one’s salary. Jesus called the disciples salt because they were as important to the Gospel as salt was to the society. Have you ever eaten a French fry without salt? Just a little salt makes a world of difference!

Impact

Consider the impact the disciples made on the world once they were anointed with God’s power through His Holy Spirit. Just twelve men initiated worldwide change as a result of God’s power! (Acts 2)

Savor

As powerful as salt is, it can lose its savor if it is mixed with other additives. RealSalt.com says salt will never go bad, but common table salt has agents added which degrade over time causing the salt to lose its savor. Society in Jesus’ day was mixed with many sinful impurities. If Christ-followers were not careful, their lives would be overrun with the effects of sinful choices.

Preservation

This leads to a need for preservation! In ancient times, salt was added to prevent food from spoiling. When the disciples began spreading the Gospel, they were keeping the world from decaying without the Hope offered through Jesus’ offer of forgiveness. Salt can go both ways. If we allow society to rub off on us, we will lose our savor; but if we rub off on society, we hold out the life-giving freedom of Christ! 

How can you and I effectively be Salt of the Earth?

By choosing to engage those around us with the hope of Christ! If we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and allowed the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our lives, we HAVE Christ’s power in us to be salt to the world and we will WANT to season the world. 

Examine Your Heart

If you don’t have the deep desire to be a Salt of the Earth disciple, it would be wise to follow the apostle Paul’s teaching and examine your hearts “to see whether we are in the faith.” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6) 

Have you ever known a person who rubbed you the wrong way? Comparatively, have you known someone who always blesses a room when they enter? This is how we season the world. A preacher once asked, “If you record yourself, what would you see/hear?” This challenged me and still does, to take special care in what I do and I say, making sure I’m surrendering myself to the Spirit’s power alive in me. 

Showing love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness is how believers share their Salt with the Earth. (Ephesians 4:29-32)

Let’s begin our days with King David’s prayer,

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord. My Rock and my Redeemer.” 

*excerpted from my writings at Gracefully Truthful

click the image below to read about “Being a Light to the World”

gracefully truthful
www.gracefullytruthful.com/blog

Sources

Enduring Word Commentary by David Guzik

7 Steps Toward Regaining Your Strength

But God is my strength. Oh, what a promise! I’m writing devotionals this month on scriptures that use the phrase, “BUT GOD”. It’s been an awesome journey. You can follow along by subscribing in the pop-up.

god is my strength

I’m ten years and going into my journey with chronic pain. (Read my story here) Not far into this journey, God brought this scripture to life for me. This verse sounds good when you are healthy and living well, but have a turn of events, and this verse comes alive.

Some would be tempted to turn away from God when struck with struggles that seem too hard to bear. But I found greater hope in God because of my pain.

David said, “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.”

Psalm 119:71

I laid flat on my back for over a month. And after that, I was only moving about because of the large doses of steroids I was taking until receiving my diagnosis. I spent much of that time reading the scriptures and falling more deeply in love with my Lord.

Indeed I found that God was the only thing I needed. He was and is my strength and my song.

Taste and see that the Lord is good!

Psalm 34:8

Steps Toward Gaining Your Strength

regaining yoru strength
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Accept Your Weakness

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10


Just like Paul, I had several conversations with God about removing my pain. And, just like Paul, God said, “I am enough”. We talked many times about my busy-ness “for Him” and how I had forgotten to let Him lead in my ministry. He asked me, “If I take away your pain, do you think you would keep your eyes on Me?” Truthfully, I had to admit, probably not.

Seek God

Beautiful girls and strong young men will grow faint in that day, thirsting for the Lord’s word.

Amos 8:13


But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,
‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 4:4


I found I now had plenty of time to read and I spent much of this time reading the Word of God. That summer I signed up for a study of Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is all about the importance of God’s Word. This verse spoke out clearly to me,

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn your statutes.

Psalm 119:71

Take Refuge in Him – Rest

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matt 11:28-30

My pain and suffering gave me a chance to rest. I needed it desperately. And through it, I was given His rest.


Hope in the Lord

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.

    They will soar high on wings like eagles.

run and not grow weary.

    They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 –

This was always one of my favorite verses. Perhaps because I struggled with fatigue long before we ever realized there was a health problem. But this verse became, even more, real to me as I struggled with my illness. My hope in Him alone has given me the strength to live each day

Look for Joy

And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

Nehemiah 8:10

We often think that the blessings of life are the good things like family, success, lots of stuff. But I have learned that if we take advantage of the troubled times, they become blessings in disguise because they draw us closer to God.

Not too far into this journey with pain, I was introduced to Ann Voskamp and her story with depression. Someone challenged her to start making a list of 1000 blessings. In accepting this challenge she journaled each day at least three blessings she found from God. Soon her depression had taken a back seat to joy.

It’s true, you know, laughter is good medicine. When we start focusing on all the good God has done for us, we find joy in the journey, even when it’s a hard journey.

Laughter is Good MEdicine

Prayer

King David said, “On the day I called, You answered me; You emboldened me and strengthened my soul.”

Psalm 138:3.

They say that talking about it is very therapeutic. Now if only we would realize that if we talked to the Lord about it and listened to His answers we could probably save ourselves a lot of money spent on counselors.


Philippians 4:6-7 says Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Praise God

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him!

Exodus 15:2; Psalm 59:17;

O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.

Psalm 59:17;

I know sometimes, it is very difficult to praise God. Our words seem to just get stuck in your throat. But trust me, praising God and singing to Him will lift your spirits. If you can’t do it, at least play some praise music and turn it up. Soon you will find yourself singing along.

Connect with Others

Then Judas and Silas, both being prophets, spoke at length to the believers, encouraging and strengthening their faith.

Acts 15:32

There is nothing better than connecting with other believers. That is why we are instructed to come together to worship.

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Hebrews 10:25


Meeting together is difficult in the midst of this pandemic; however, most of us have cell phones and internet access. Be sure you are regularly attending church and visiting with fellow believers. There are thousands of opportunities to participate in worship if your own church doesn’t offer its services online. My husband and I have really enjoyed the preaching of Greg Laurie at Harvest at Home.

On top of that, connect individually with fellow believers to encourage one another. If you are lonely, for heaven’s sake, pick up your phone and call someone. They might need some encouragement from you and in the process, you will find yourself encouraged and strengthened.

My blog has connected me with so many believers and also believers that suffer from chronic illness. I have met some wonderful friends and we encourage one another regularly. You may not have a blog, but we have so many social media opportunities. Get on one of them and start commenting on every else’s posts. I’ll list some groups on Facebook that uplift me.

Strengthened in Christ,

Mandy

Facebook Groups that Encourage


intercede

Intercessory Prayer is the Spiritual Warfare Frontlines

Have you ever known someone who could really touch heaven?

If you had a need, who would you ask to pray? My mother is like that. When Mike and I got engaged, we decided to take his two young boys and go to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving to meet my family. Mom thought how nice it would be for these young Georgia boys to experience snow. So she prayed … and boy, did it snow! You can read about another time my mom prayed and probably saved my sister’s life in my memoirs blog, Raised in a Barn.

While these stories of intercessory prayers are very good, I am also reminded of two precious ladies at our last church. Mrs. Mae Thomas was a prayer warrior. She kept a notebook where she recorded everyone she prayed for. And she recorded the answers too. (By the way, it is a wonderfully encouraging way to remind yourself of the goodness of God.) When she passed away and the family closed up her home, They found stacks of prayer notebooks with years worth of prayers and answers.

Prayer Warriors

There was another precious lady in the history of that same church. I never knew her but the people still spoke warmly of this precious prayer warrior. It is told that she had a table where she prayed and studied. On that table, was written all the names of people she had prayed for. So many that had turned away from God were pleased to later find their name written on that table.

These are just a few instances that prove the importance of intercessory prayer. Sometimes, we need to get really serious with God to bring people to Him. It can’t be just a flippant sentence, “Oh God, save so-and-so”. Intercessory prayer is found on the frontlines of spiritual warfare.

Intercessory Prayer is found on the frontlines of Spiritual Warfare. #prayer #intercession Click To Tweet

The Importance of Intercessory Prayer

We are instructed in the Bible to intercede for others. One can find many verses on intercession but the one that comes to my mind first is

 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

1 Timothy 2:1-2
interceding for others

You know, as I read this verse again, I find it interesting that it says not only to pray for them but to give thanks for them. Oh my, when you think of the people that need salvation, typically, we may not really be that thankful for them. I know from experience though that being thankful can make a world of difference. You know how prayer changes things, most of the time, it is our own hearts that change.

Prayer changes things, most of the time, it is our own hearts that change. #prayer Click To Tweet

OK, that was just an aside. Let’s get back to Intercessory prayer.

Come Prepared for Intercession

We do not stride into the presence of God.

Dennis Kinlaw

I recently received an article from Titus Women and it struck a chord with me. I want to share part of it with you now…

When we come to a time of intercession, we must come prepared to be in the presence of God Himself. As Dennis Kinlaw said, “We do not stride into the presence of God.” There must be heart preparation and humility. As we prepare for lifting others in prayer, here are some means of preparation for our own hearts.
 
“Lord Jesus, we ask You for these things as we come before You to pray for others.” 

Checklist for Intercession

  • A Clean Heart: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” II Cor.7:1
  • A Free HeartLet all bitterness and wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind…forgiving even as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph 4:31-22
  • A Forgiving Heart“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness spring up causes trouble and by it, many be defiled.” Hebrews 12: 15
  • A Right Spirit“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51: 10, 11
  • A Yielded Will“Teach me to do Your will, for you are my God. May Your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.” Psalm 143: 10
  • A Loyal Affection: “You alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing; you guard all that is mine.”  Psalm 16: 5 (NLT)

*copied from Titus Women

These characteristics certainly describe the aforementioned women!



A Challenge to Intercede

I remember once being challenged to think of the greatest “Lost case” you know. The one that you think will never come to Christ; never get their hearts right and straight on the path to heaven. Then intercede deeply for them every day. You might be surprised by what God will do.

Will you join me today to pray and intercede for one person in your life? If you can’t think of anyone, how about one of the presidential candidates? Or the other myriads of people on Capitol Hill? (See 1 Timothy 2:1-2 above)

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Savannah, GA

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becoming sage

Midlife Crisis: Becoming Sage

There’s a lot to deal with in midlife. That empty nest syndrome for one can really take you for a loop. But that is not the only crisis you are looking at as you are “becoming sage”.

What does that even mean? “to become sage“. You might have thought about the herb. But the first definition listed by Webster is actually “wise through reflection and experience“. My thought was similar to this …something like Michelle Van Loon said”to cultivate fresh growth and ongoing fruitfulness for those of us growing through the latter seasons of our lives.

becoming Sage

So, What is Becoming Sage?

As our children grow up and leave the nest, we find ourselves struggling to figure out just what or who we are. We have spent the past 18-20 (or more) years raising kids. Life has pretty much encircled our children. So now, if we haven’t been careful, we end up asking ourselves, “Now What?” We may not really even know that guy sitting on the couch across the room, typically referred to as our husband.

At church, we may feel lost because we have spent all our time in the children’s department. Honestly, though I was a children’s director most our my ministry years, I believe that we have got cdoing church all wrong. We separate out into age groups; never intermingling with others and having no intergenerational contact. How can we learn or grow if we are never around older people?

The churches where my husband pastored wanted this type of organization calling this a “family church”. NO! a family church worships together as a family. I altered this with once a month family day where everyone worshiped together and children’s visiting days where we went to visit shut-ins. Oh anyway, I am getting a little off track. 🙂

a FAMILY CHURCH worships together as a family. #worship #intergenerationalworship Click To Tweet

Maturity. Yes spiritual maturity is what I am talking about. It could be that if you were teaching in the children’s department all those years that your faith has become stagnant. ouch! But seriously, how often did you get any real challenging teaching? I might be time to take a look and make some changes.

If we are becoming sage, we are also coming to terms with the fact that filling a church org chart my be a sign of a person’s church commitment, but it is not a measure of their spiritual maturity.

Michelle VonLoon, Becoming Sage

From Teacher to Learner

becoming Sage

As our family relationships re-shape, we must also reshape our personal relationship with God. Yes, it is a little sad to give your daughter away and feel that lonesomeness. But we must find the silver linings. Find those things that make this time in your life even better. Now can be a time where you really focus in on God. I know for me, that I have had much more time to spend in the Word and get close to God. And I am loving it.

Think about how you can make this the best season of your life. First start with this: Ask God to reveal what He wants you to learn in this stage of your life. Remember that verse you taught your kids?

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

Matthew 7:7, NLT

Here are a few considerations as your search your heart

  • Gratitude. practice it. Look for joy every day. Start a joy journal. Every day, list three things that make you happy or you are grateful for. Offer these things to God in praise. You could even place these things on cards in a big jar. Then when you have a not so joyful day. Just pull a couple of cards out. You’ll be joyful in no time.
  • Consider your Fears. What are your fears during this time? Talk with God about them. Look up some verses about how God deals with our fears. Here is one of my favorites.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

More Ideas

  • Talk with your friends about these changes. It could include marriage issues, divorce, aging, and dying parents, illness, prodigals, grandchildren. You will probably find you have a strong enough group to start a support group. 🙂 Then go out and find the resources you all need.
  • Deal with loneliness head-on. Reach out to friends and recultivate those friendships or make new ones. If we ever get past this pandemic, utilize those coffee shops that are popping up everywhere and make appointments to have “a cuppa” together on a regular basis. Just having something to look forward to can make a world of difference. In the meantime, you can still have meaningful conversations on the phone, texting, messaging. I’m talking private discussions, not with the whole world.
  • Mentoring. Turn around and see who is following you. You have things to offer others, so offer them. There are a lot of young moms who have no one nearby to help them out. Go help. Think back at what would have been a great help to you and then do it. There is one thing I have found that giving is way better than receiving.
Giving is way better than receiving. #mentoring #friendship Click To Tweet

Becoming sage relationally includes learning to be along with God, leaning into times of deep loneliness, remaining open to new connections, and nurturing or renegotiating old friendships in the context of the security we have in our friendship with God.

Michelle VanLoon, Becoming Sage

In Conclusion

Well, friends, these are a few things that inspired me in Michelle Van Loon’s new book, Becoming Sage ~ Cultivating Meaning, Purpose, and Spirituality in Midlife. You might want to go pick up a copy.

Mandy Farmer

Many thanks to Moody Publishers for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

My first impression of this book was not that great. It was almost depressing because I saw where the church is failing its people. But then I looked through again, looking for the answers she offered. She does have much to offer but you might have to read it slower or actually do the activities at the end of each chapter. 🙂 – Mandy



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How Firm a Foundation

Holy Scriptures Are the Foundation of Life

One of the best ways to learn scripture is through song. Think about it. We can recall every word of a song we loved from high school even after decades. Why not build a foundation of scriptures in your mind by setting them to music? There are many songs and choruses already out there. You may not even realize that the words are straight from the scriptures.

hymn of the week foundation
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Here’s a hymn you probably knew years ago. I remember singing it as a child. I understood the idea of the hymn… about God being our foundation but recently I took a closer look at the words and was blown away at the number of scriptures found in this one song. Take a look for yourself…

How Firm a Foundation

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

“Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand. [Isaiah 41:10]

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress. [Isaiah 43:2-3]

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, [Isaiah 43:2-3]
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply; [2 Corinthians 12:9]
The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine. [Zechariah 13:9]

“The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose, [Proverbs 3:5-6]
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes; [Hebrews 13:5,6]
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.” [Deuteronomy 31:8]

https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/How_Firm_a_Foundation/

Now take a listen

Find the Hymn Story here.

Search out some others

Grab a hymnal or a chorus book and start reading the lyrics as part of your devotions. Build your foundation of faith through song. Trust me you will be blessed.

Singing a foundation!

Mandy Farmer
hymn of the week How Firm a FOundation
Hymn of the Week – How Firm a Foundation Click To Tweet
Give Prayer a Second Chance

Give Prayer Another Chance

I’ve heard people say that they have given up on prayer. It saddens my heart to hear them say this because prayer is our lifeline to heaven. I would say to them, “Please, give prayer another chance.”

Prayer is our lifeline to heaven. #prayer #spiritualdisciplines Click To Tweet

Could it be that our view of God is distorted? Maybe you need a new perspective on how God views the world? Possibly, your heart is not quite in the right place. I would like to offer some considerations as you give prayer another chance.

Considerations as we Pray

God Cares ~ He’ll Give you another chance

First of all, know that He loves you more than you can know. God desires for you to relate to Him. He came to earth and lived the life of a man. Jesus knows your pain and sorrows. He feels your pain. Prayer connects us to Him. You can have true fellowship with the God of the universe!

Talk to him sincerely. Tell him how you feel. Your sorrow. Your anger. It’s OK. He can handle it.

You Are Part of the BIG Picture

As the saying goes, “We are not an island.” There is a whole big world and we are just a small part of it all. That is not to say that God doesn’t have time for you. He is there every moment. However, He is working on a plan for everyone.

Sometimes the things we are asking take time or aren’t the best thing for us at this particular time. Ask God to give you a new perspective. He may have us in a hard place to give us a specific opportunity or direction in life. Don’t think that you cannot ask God, but with the asking, open your heart to hear His desires for you, as well.

Prayer is the courageous act of bringing our authentic desires before God. Prayer is the place where, in Jesus’ name, we meet a holy God with all of our humanity hanging out. In our bravest moments of unscripted, unedited prayer, we find ourselves telling God what we want, how we’re afraid to want this, how we fear he’ll withhold, how we fail to trust, and to worship and to reverence. We allow ourselves to see – and be seen. In this struggle, prayerful and raw, we willingly wait for the mercies of God to deliver us into the abiding belief that He is good. Prayer, bold and beautiful and brave, takes on the quality of our struggle to surrender to the God who is holy, to the God whose holiness produces our surprise.”

Jen Pollock Michel, Teach Us to Want

Don’t Give Up on Your Prayers

prayer a second chance
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Remember, Some blessings take time. Some answers come only after years of trusting and believing. If you have opened your heart to the will of God, keep on praying, even if your heart is breaking.

Oftentimes our heartaches and our unfulfilled heart’s desires skew our perspective and keep us thinking small. We need to learn to crawl out of our small story so we can see all that God is up to, in, and around us. Because He is, and it’s awesome.

.

Our short-term solutions will always fall woefully short of God’s redemptive plan. And those short-term solutions will often cause us more trouble than we ever bargained for.

Susie Larson, Your Powerful Prayers
Our short-term solutions will always fall woefully short of God's redemptive plan. #spiritualdisciplines #prayer @susielarson Click To Tweet

Abraham and Sarah Gave Up

How they longed for a child. They hoped and prayed for a very long time. Then they came up with their own solution. To have a child through Sara’s servant, Hagar. Then later, the son God promised is born to Sarah. Oh my! The competition. The fussing and fighting. That didn’t turn out well at all.

You see, when we take things into our own hands, we usually make a big mess of things. Come on now, you know it’s the truth. Just keep waiting and trusting in God. His plans are always the best.

Keeping trusting and waiting on God, His plans are always the best. #prayer #spiritualdisciplines Click To Tweet
Bruce Wilkenson Beyond Jabez
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If you give up the life you thought you needed, you’ll find yourself getting more of God Himself. And He will so satisfy your heart that all other passions will be consumed by your longing for Him.

Bruce Wilkenson, Beyond Jabez

When you admitted and turned from your sins and asked Jesus to forgive you, you became a child of God. Your name was written in the Book of Life. You are a citizen of heaven. God loves you and wants to give you the best.

Who among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him.

Matthew 7:9-11, CSB

There is One Point that Must Be Looked At

Most importantly, you are an Heir of God… aren’t you? Do you remember the day that you knelt down and confessed your sins to God? Have you given your life over to Jesus, repented of your sins? Are you truly a Child of God? Because these are the ones to whom the Heavenly Father gives good things. These are the prayers He hears.

If you haven’t given your life to Him, today is the day to do that. It’s as simple as A, B, C.

  • Admit that you are a sinner.
  • Believe the Jesus died for your sins
  • Confess Your Sins and turn away from sin.

This is the first prayer you need to pray

Lord Jesus, I know that I have sinned and I need Your forgiveness and pardon. I believe that You died and rose again for my sins. Now, I accept You as my personal Savior. I will forsake my sinful life. I know that Your grace and power will enable me to live for You. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and for giving me a new life. Amen

https://nazarene.org/how-know-jesus

If you would like more information about knowing Christ, please follow this link.

Pray His Promises

Finally, I would encourage you to pray the scriptures. Get yourself a notebook or journal in which to record your prayers. Write the person or request at the top of a page. Then write out scripture that you feel shows that this request would follow along with the will of God.

Leave the rest of this page open to record anything that encourages you that the request is being answered. And record the date and story once your prayer has been answered or a step has been made in that direction.

This gives you a record of all the answered prayers. You will be able to occasionally go through the pages and praise God for the many, many blessings He has bestowed on you.

Your Powerful Prayers

These are just a few thoughts that I have gleaned and made my own from Susie Larson’s book, Your Powerful Prayers. I would strongly urge you to get a copy of the book for your own. There are many, many more things to help you as you give prayer another chance.

God bless;

Mandy Farmer

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P.S. My hope at the beginning of the year was to rediscover and write about spiritual disciplines. I was drawn away from this when our family learned that we had two months to move. Now we are settled and I am turning my thoughts back to this goal. Follow this blog to learn more with me on the spiritual disciplines. There is a sign up below on the blue bar.

Hope’s NOT a Dangling Carrot

The last 13 year of my life I have become dependant on God communicating to me through the bible. His word is living and breathing and it has NEVER failed me- NEVER.

I prayed about a situation and asked God to give me a verse from his word. Within minutes I got “Thess 1 15″… hmm, Thessalonians doesn’t have 15 chapters, God. Then it was silent… oh oh. So I went to my bible started reading and TADA… it has chapter 1,2,3,4,5… 1-5 Michele.

Wow God the whole thing. Goodness. So I began to read and the constant theme that first chapter and most everything I ran into that day was:

  • Stay the course
  • Keep doing good

My staying the course is getting harder, my doing good is not easy. It is getting harder and I liken it to birth pains… each contraction is getting closer and with each contraction it is becoming more and more painful. I am not sure I can hang on. God, I NEED YOUR HELP!

Hope in what she will be keeps me here. Here to raise Trey in love for her when she rejects all we do. Hope, that once God is allowed in she will break free. Hope, that she will be on a dead run far from the pit she just climb out of.

Hope has a foundation friends. It’s not wishful thinking, Jimminy Cricket wishing upon a star kinda hope. It’s real. I can touch almost touch it. Hope is an extension of my faith, its confidence, and GRACE’S future accomplishments.-these come from my bibles annotations :).

Do you have hope? Hope for yourself, for someone, for a situation? I know you do, you travel a hard road with your own life. So KEEP HOPING, YOU’RE NOT FOOLISH. IT HAS A FOUNDATION IN OUR FAITH!

-PRAYERFUL in H O P E with you. AMEN

Michele

What Is Spiritual Formation and How Do I Practice It?

My desire from the beginning of the year has been to explore the disciplines. I introduced the plan of a series with a post on the What and Why of Spiritual Disciplines. Then my sister, Kandy Chimento followed up with a post on the ‘How’ using the Bonsia tree as an illustration.

About that time, my family received a surprise announcement that we had two months to move out of our home. And the disciplines were set on the back burner. I continued reading, all the while these things have been simmering in my mind. Now that life returns to “normal”, I am ready to jump into writing.

I shared my plans with Patty Scott and she offered to write an introductory post to get us going again. So here we go…

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 Spiritual Formation

by Patty H Scott 

spiritual formations
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I came back to my walk with Jesus in my early 20s after having wandered away during some very painful and trying experiences in adolescence. I hadn’t planned to return to Christianity, but Jesus, relentless in His love for me, made an unexpected way. Then I found myself in a small group with a bunch of relative strangers after a friend had invited me to her church. The leader of this small group was immersed in Spiritual Formation as he attended Talbot School of Theology. He invited me to attend lectures at Biola (the University that houses Talbot). And that is where my foundation in Spiritual Formation began. 

At that time, I had some distorted ideas about God. My faith had started in childhood. And had been strengthened through the influence of some families around me in my elementary and high school years. I had voluntarily read through the Bible five times. So I was well aware of the stories and many of the principles of our faith. While I had some meaningful personal experiences with God, much of my approach to my relationship with Him felt distant. I viewed God as being a lot like other authority figures in my life who were perfectionistic, demanding, and critical. Even though my head knew God was loving, I held doubts and hidden beliefs about His love and true forgiveness of me.  

though my head knew God was loving, I held doubts… #spiritualformation #thedisciplines Click To Tweet

Finding a Mentor

It was at this time in my walk with Jesus that I met Dallas Willard. Much like another famous Christian philosopher, C. S. Lewis, Dallas had a way of bringing Jesus into every situation. And reflecting the depth of his own walk with such thoughtfulness and intelligence. He was the man who introduced me to the Spiritual Disciplines. He also introduced me to my mentor who became like a mother in the faith to me.  

Dallas taught that Spiritual Formation is the process of being formed in our spirit. This is the purpose of God. He made each of us unique. And He never intends to delete or override the special qualities He so carefully wove into each one of our personalities. He does, however, want to form us to be increasingly like Christ.

Just as a concrete worker sets out a mold before he pours the liquid into it, God has a mold for us to be conformed into – and that mold is Christlikeness. While we will maintain our own individuality, we also will become more and more like Jesus. As we practice the disciplines, we deepen our trust-follow relationship with God.  

What are Spiritual Disciplines?

The Spiritual Disciplines are instrumental in this process. We often think of a few basic and common practices as we go about practicing our faith. It is usual to talk about quiet time, reading the Word, prayer, and fellowship. Those are all wonderful things we can do to deepen our faith and help us grow. What I want us to really look at here is how we sometimes misuse those practices. Then I want us to see how we can best apply Spiritual Disciplines to help achieve God’s aims…

  • to make us more like Jesus,
  • and to draw us into greater intimacy with the Triune God.  

Being a “Good Christian”

As I said, my view of God when I returned to the faith was tainted with my misperceptions of His character. When I sat in quiet time, for example, I felt this pressing need to 

being a good christan; spiritual formation
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  • use the “best” books,
  • do the most I could,
  • and show up daily for a specific period of time.

The time I set apart to be with God looked more like someone doing homework for a course than someone spending quality time with a good friend. I checked off the boxes, made sure I did things “right,”. And yet, I missed some of the benefits of sitting with God in His Word and prayer. I was doing it all to earn something from Him. I figured I was not worthy of His love. Therefore, I was going to work and work (serving in church, doing all the requirements of the faith) and show Him He hadn’t made a mistake in offering me His love.  

What the Disciplines Do For Us Spiritually

Dallas said something that turned my life around.

“Faith isn’t opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning.” #spiritualdisciplines #spiritualformation Click To Tweet

Here I was trying to build my spiritual resume when God already accepted and loved me fully. I knew that in my head. It took a while for it to settle in the places that really mattered.

Over time my practice of the disciplines took a different approach. One teacher at Biola said,

“It’s not so much the form that matters as the function.”

He went on to say that some of us aren’t morning people. If we are forcing ourselves to have quiet time in the morning because we believe that is what “good Christians” do, but we are half awake and unable to focus, we have put the form (making sure quiet time is in the morning), ahead of the function (the purpose of quiet time is to draw us near to God and let Him reach into our lives and hearts to help us grow).  

There are Varied Spiritual Disciplines

Over the years I have learned how many varied Spiritual Disciplines exist. For example, when I have been on Facebook and Instagram too much and those social media sites are starting to have a pull on me, I can fast from them for a while and my self-control is restored, as well as my sense of what matters most. Fasting is a great discipline to teach us how to be sweet when we aren’t getting our way. It also teaches us to say no to our urges and wait patiently.  

Dallas often “prescribed” various disciplines as each one might suit a specific area of growth for an individual in a given season. If you are feeling prideful and constantly having to make your point, you can practice the discipline of NOT having the last word. While you may not find that particular practice in the Bible, it is a helpful thing to undertake with the Holy Spirit.

As we seek Him to show us areas where He wants us to grow, He will provide the means towards that growth. In any Spiritual Discipline, we do the thing we can do (abstaining from Facebook, for example) so that God can do in us what we couldn’t do before (cultivate self-control).  

AS we seek Him, He provides the means toward that growth. #spiritualformation #spiritualdisciplines Click To Tweet

Is Your Heart in the Right Place?

The most important aspect of Spiritual Formation through the use of the Disciplines is that our heart is in the right place. As we look at the Pharisees, we see that Jesus acknowledged…

  • their prayer life,
  • their careful tithing, 
  • and their adherence to all sorts of religious practices.

Yet, their hearts were far from God.

We need to approach all Spiritual Formation knowing that we are already fully loved as is, wanted by God, and included in His eternal life. There is nothing to be earned. We are invited into eternal abundance and internal growth as we engage in practices such as…

  • scripture memory,
  • solitude,
  • silence,
  • prayer,
  • meditation upon God’s Word and character,
  • worship with music,
  • or any other number of exercises.

I hope you can pick one or two practices and enter them with the sole purpose of drawing near to the God who formed you, loves you, and longs to help you grow to be more and more like Jesus.  

Patty H Scott

It’s Your Turn…

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Experience a #deeperfaithwalk

How Experience Creates a Deeper Faith Walk & LinkUp

Christianity is more than a theory about the universe, more than teachings written down on paper; it is a path along which we journey – in the deepest and richest sense, the way of life.

from The Orthodox Way by Kallistos Ware

The Way of Life: a Path Which we Journey

This quote in itself is the experience that I desire to find this year. I want to follow the old paths as Jeremiah instructed us. (Jeremiah 6:16) And here it was in the first chapter of Bob Bennett’s Disciplines for the Inner Life. You see, Christianity is more than just a prayer and hallelujah. It’s a personal relationship we experience every day, deeper and greater.

Christianity is more than just a prayer and a hallelujah. #ancientpaths #experiencegod Click To Tweet
Deeper Faith Walk
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Yes, We are saved by faith through grace and that is all it takes to be saved. But I submit to you that there can be a much deeper faith walk than just believing that Jesus saves. We can experience this faith and salvation in such a deeper and more real way if we follow His paths and draw near to Him. We can truly experience God when we follow His paths.

Created for Relationship

God created us for relationship: not just to be someone He could lord over and tell us what to do. He desires to be our Father and our Friend: to “walk with us and talk with us and tell us we are His own“. But He also wants it to be a two-way street. That is why He has given us free will – an opportunity to chose this life. He wants us to desire to be with Him just as much as He wants to be with us.

How to Experience Relationship w/God

great faith walk #spiritualdisciplines #faithwalk

Just as with any relationship, talking and spending time with that person is the very best way to get to know them. When my husband and I were dating, we lived four hours apart. But we spent every evening talking on the phone. Many would say that a long-distance relationship is difficult, but we spent all that time talking where few talk this much when on an actual date. By the time our wedding rolled around, we knew each other well.

Throughout Biblical history, men and women talked with God; they questioned Him. They came to know Him through experience.

Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden every evening. (Genesis 3)

Jacob wrestled with God and begged Him for His blessing. HE said I won’t let you go until you bless me. (Genesis 32:22-31)

Job sat with God and questioned Him about His ways. He learned much and His thoughts about God became more clear. (Job 42:1-6)

The Samaritan Woman talked with Jesus and questioned Him until she understood about the Messiah. She hung on every word He spoke. Then she ran to tell others what she had learned. (John 4:1-26)

What’s the Difference?

Jeremiah described compared those who followed after God and those who did not. Those who follow after the ways of man find themselves weak and parched while those who follow after God become strong like a tree planted by the waters.

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
    who rely on human strength
    and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
    with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.

Jeremiah 17:5-8 NLT

Desire to Experience the Power of God

The Apostle Paul desired to know God more than anything. He considered anything in this life not worthy of holding on to. It was like garbage to him. He wanted to experience the Power of Christ that only comes from surrendering everything to Him.

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

Philippians 3:7-11

In Conclusion

Let’s finish up with the next few thoughts from Kallistos Ware…

There is only one means of discovering the true nature of Christianity. We must step out upon this path, commit ourselves to this way of life, and then we shall begin to see for ourselves.

So long as we remain outside, we cannot properly understand. Certainly we need to be given directions before we start; we need to be told what signposts to look out for, and we need to have companions. Indeed, without guidance from others it is scarcely possible to begin the journey.

But directions given by others can never convey to us what the way is actually like; they cannot be a substitute for direct, personal experience. Each is called to verify for himself what he has been taught, each is required to re-live the Tradition he has received.

The Creed,” said Metropoliton Philaret of Moscow, “does not belong to you unless you have lived it.” No one can be an armchair traveller on this all-important journey. No one can be a Christian at second hand. God has children, but he has no grandchildren.”

From The Orthodox Way by Kallistos Ware
The Creed does not belong to you unless you have lived it. Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow #experiencegod #ancientpaths Click To Tweet

Are You Ready to Experience Christ?

How do you see the things of this life?

Do you desire the things of earth or the things of Heaven?

Seek Him, know Him, and obey Him then you will experience Him fully and completely. Follow my posts this year as I seek to go deeper with Christ. I want to know Christ and experience the power of His resurrection.

I would love for you to partner with me.

In Christ,

Mandy Farmer

It’s Your Turn

How do you leave a legacy with your deeper faith in Christ? What disciplines are important to you?

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How to Train Yourself to be Godly

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

I Timothy 4:7-8

Train – (verb) to direct the growth of (a plant) usually by bending, pruning, and tying

Training is a word that gets tossed around a lot, especially this time of year when people are making new resolutions. People, anxious for a change in their lifestyle, know that something needs to happen differently. That given no direction, things will continue to go “off-track” (did you catch the “train” (noun) reference?)

Training a Bonsai Plant

bonsai training

One of Webster’s definitions of “train” is to “direct the growth (of a plant) usually by bending, pruning, and tying”. In order to train a plant, especially to achieve a look or purpose that is different than its nature, specific steps must be taken. Creating bonsai plants involves several types of cutting and shaping. Contrary to popular belief, bonsai trees are not miniature plants, but in reality, are regular plants which have been shaped/created to have a particular look or effect. Wires are used to bend and reposition branches, and later the wires are removed. Leaves are removed and deadwood created to bring about other effects.

Bonsai tree training
Arnold, MD.–8/28/16– A wire is used to shape a tree for its training as a bonsai. “The Baltimore Bonsai Club; founded in 1972; is an active and growing group of bonsai enthusiasts in Central Maryland. Club activities include exhibitions, workshops, collection trips and visiting artists,” according to its website. Baltimore Sun: Kenneth K. Lam KKL_0830 md-darkroom-bonsai lam

Training yourself to be godly, as directed in First Timothy, is similar. Our natural bend or form is sinful. We need to make changes in order to achieve our purpose.

What are some spiritual pruning methods available?

1) Reading the instructions. The Bible gives us direction on how to become more godly. The New Testament is chock-full of directives for us. Love one another, turn the other cheek, don’t show partiality, forgive each other, take care of widows and orphans, etc. And James tells us, if you lack wisdom, just ask God!

2) Do it! Do what, you say? See #1. Do what it says. Be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer. Faith without works is dead. You won’t get your body in shape by reading a book about good exercise. You have to actually “do” the exercise. Funny how that works.

3) Continue doing it. In my recent health journey, I learned this – As I have continued my lifestyle of eating habits, I will continue on my healthy path. But if after I have reached my “goal” I go back to my former habits, guess what? I will find myself back at the place where I started! The changes must be ongoing.

Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples.

John 8:31

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed.

2 Timothy 3:14

Continue steadfastly in prayer.

Colossians 4:2

Let brotherly love continue.

Hebrews 13:11

Is it hard sometimes?

Do we fall short at times? Sure! Do you think Olympic athletes have never fallen? Do they quit if something is hard? No! When we start an exercise program, we don’t start with 100 pushups! We start with one. Then two. Then three.

Start today.

Start doing one more thing today that will train yourself to be more godly. Then do another tomorrow. And guess what? In a year, a month, or even a week, that one thing will get easier and easier. And then you will do it without thinking because it will have become a habit, a lifestyle.

And just like the bonsai tree, the wire that is used to bend and reposition the branches will become unnecessary. The habit is made and the training is easier. And then we get to move on to more training in godliness. And godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Happy training in 2020!!

Kandy Chimento

Read Kandy’s Transformation Story here: Gettin’ Back to My Roots

Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. #ancientpaths #spiritualdisciplines Click To Tweet

It’s Your Turn

What’s your transformation story? Linkup with us today and share.

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