Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Do You Practice Foxhole Religion - Don't Make Empty Promises To God

The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. —Job 42:10

{CHAMBERS} “A pitiful, sickly, and self-centered kind of prayer and a determined effort and selfish desire to be right with God are never found in the New Testament. The fact that I am trying to be right with God is actually a sign that I am rebelling against the atonement by the Cross of Christ. I pray, “Lord, I will purify my heart if You will answer my prayer— I will walk rightly before You if You will help me.” But I cannot make myself right with God; I cannot make my life perfect. I can only be right with God if I accept the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ as an absolute gift. […] I must leave myself completely alone in His hands, and then I can begin to pour my life out in the priestly work of intercession. […] “The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends.” As a saved soul, the real business of your life is intercessory prayer. Whatever circumstances God may place you in, always pray immediately that His atonement may be recognized and as fully understood in the lives of others as it has been in yours. Pray for your friends now, and pray for those with whom you come in contact now.”

{ELGIN} Foxhole religion. If you were ever in the military in a war you know what that is.  It’s when you are afraid .. in mortal danger ..  and you make a promise to God. “God if you will spare me I promise to be good.”  We find ourselves in a jam and we are looking for a way out.  A prayer of the flesh – devoid of any spiritual context – and what happens when you are spared?  The pray fades in your memory.  So often we treat prayer like a 911 call.  “I have an emergency and need to be rescued! Lord save me!” or perhaps “Lord restore what I have lost!”  Why? Because my trust and confidence was in that which was lost and not in the One to Whom I am praying.

(James 4:2-3) “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

The New Testament is replete with admonitions to distance yourself from the world and the things of the world .. to trust God .. to not worry .. but we do anyway.  What the Bible says to do .. you cannot apart from Christ in you.  “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  God is not our first thought – He is our afterthought?   Sound harsh?  Listen – it is a problem that every Christian must contend with.  Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God – the Father – with all of your being.  That does not leave much room for anything else.  But – out of that love will flow everything else.  Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world. God is interested in our spiritual success and obedience not in our earthly affluence.  Too many have compromised their faith because of the things of this world.  Like the song of the sirens, you will be lured into the rocks resulting in spiritual impotence.  Be careful my friend.  Wanting to not be like that will not make it so … that will happen when you commit your heart to God and pursue Him.  Think about it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

If You Really Love Jesus - You Need To Grow Up

…do you love Me?…Tend My sheep. —John 21:16

{CHAMBERS} “Jesus did not say to make converts to your way of thinking, but He said to look after His sheep, to see that they get nourished in the knowledge of Him. We consider what we do in the way of Christian work as service, yet Jesus Christ calls service to be what we are to Him, not what we do for Him. Discipleship is based solely on devotion to Jesus Christ, not on following after a particular belief or doctrine. “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate…, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). In this verse, there is no argument and no pressure from Jesus to follow Him; He is simply saying, in effect, “If you want to be My disciple, you must be devoted solely to Me.” […] People do not really want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is deeply offensive to the educated minds of today, to those who only want Him to be their Friend, and who are unwilling to accept Him in any other way. Our Lord’s primary obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of people— the saving of people was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. […] if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity, even though people may treat me like a “doormat.” The secret of a disciple’s life is devotion to Jesus Christ, and the characteristic of that life is its seeming insignificance and its meekness. Yet it is like a grain of wheat that “falls into the ground and dies”— it will spring up and change the entire landscape (John 12:24).

{ELGIN}  If you love God then you will love people. (Matthew 22:37-39)  If you are Jesus’ disciple you will do what He did. (John 14:15) He obeyed the will of the Father and the world was blessed. (John 6:38) If you live by faith and not just a religious philosophy then , good works will flow naturally from you. (James 2:18)

It’s not uncommon for people to praise me for what I do.  When I tell them “Give the credit to God.” They look at me like it is feigned humility.  I know that I can not take credit for anything.  God has given me everything .. every ability ..He formed me (Psalm 139:13)  If I can take credit for anything it is offering my life to Him .. that is an act of my will (Romans 12:1-2) You may be born again but the life that follows is one of willful obedience to the Father or willful obedience to the old nature, which is to say willful disobedience to the Father.  The real tragedy is convincing yourself that you are doing the former when you are really doing the latter. 

(2 Timothy 3:1-5) “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”  Does that sound like the culture in this country?  The American Christian culture?  You say “That is NOT me!” I say “Praise the Lord!” It is a description of the carnal Christian. 

(1 Corinthians 3:1-3) “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” Pastor Brian Lambert, in his sermon last Sunday, addressed three types of Christians – Infants who know they believe in Jesus and are saved but have trouble applying the Word to their lives; Adolescents who are focused on taking in the Word and applying it to their lives, and Mature Adults who know Jesus and are making Him known as they live lives obedient to the will of the Father.  I am not judging anyone, but am encouraging you … no matter at what stage of Christian development you are … to never be satisfied but pursue God to your last day on this Earth.  The fact is, many of us just need to Grow Up! That should be the desire of your heart. To be found faithful on the day you meet Jesus face to face … either in Heaven or when He returns.

Monday, June 18, 2018

When You Live By Faith - The World Will Think You Are Crazy

…Peter…walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid… —Matthew 14:29-30

{CHAMBERS} “The wind really was boisterous and the waves really were high, but Peter didn’t see them at first. He didn’t consider them at all; he simply recognized his Lord, stepped out in recognition of Him, and “walked on the water.” Then he began to take those things around him into account, and instantly, down he went. […] We step right out with recognition of God in some things, then self-consideration enters our lives and down we go. If you are truly recognizing your Lord, you have no business being concerned about how and where He engineers your circumstances. The things surrounding you are real, but when you look at them you are immediately overwhelmed, and even unable to recognize Jesus. Then comes His rebuke, “…why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). […] If you debate for even one second when God has spoken, it is all over for you. Never start to say, “Well, I wonder if He really did speak to me?” Be reckless immediately— totally unrestrained and willing to risk everything— by casting your all upon Him. […] It is only through abandonment of yourself and your circumstances that you will recognize Him. You will only recognize His voice more clearly through recklessness— being willing to risk your all.”

{ELGIN}  Faith can cause you to do crazy things, at least as far as the world is concerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14) “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” God has challenged us to “walk on the water” on a number of occasions.

The first was when He told me to leave the Army with over 17 years of very successful service.  A good friend told me “the Army will not let you out” since I was a career officer with an obligation and a bright future.  I told him – “If God wants me out, I’ll be out” and 90 days later, I was on the street having exchanged my flight suit for a business suit. 

After God had called us to the mission field I happened to see an old boss – I told him what I was doing – he asked if I had retired from working as a civilian with the Air Force – I said no, I had left to serve God on the mission field – he looked at me in disbelief – I had abandoned everything that he held dear … money - security - possessions - comfort

When we were leaving disaster relief work in Mississippi to open another chapter in our missional journey, as friend asked me what we were going to do – I replied – “We are going to Haiti”  He drew up close to me, looked me square in the eyes and asked “Are you crazy?” to which I replied – “It’s not my idea, it’s God’s!” 

The most recent was when we realized that God was calling out of the boat once again to go on mission. I had been working with the Air Force once again as an IT Systems Engineer.  God called us to Texas.  A good friend of mine asked me to meet for coffee.  He told me that now was not the time to “get out of the boat”.  There were considerations that I was apparently ignoring.  Like the disciples could have told Peter … wait for the waves to calm if you are going to do it!  But when God says “GO!” you must go.  That is part of trusting God.  It’s as if people think – “If God called you – He must not have thought about all of the issues going on”  It is a telling of what they trust in.  Many Christians have a qualified trust in God.  If Peter had, he never would have climbed out of the boat.  If we had we never would have left worldly success to obey God’s call. 

Please .. do not think that I am boasting about our great faith .. I say our because Martie has been in agreement and has been willing on every turn in the course of our lives.  (1 Corinthians 1:30-31) “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.””  Perhaps it’s time for you to get your feet wet.  If it is – look to Jesus for the strength to do what He asks you to do.

(Zechariah 4:6) “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Story About God Showing Up - He Is A Just In Time God

I wanted to share some insights that we have gained during the past 6 months.  And to encourage you to be more aware of the needs of the people around you.  (Matthew 25 helping the least of these)

There have been a couple of verses that the Lord has brought to our minds as we have walked the path of service that He has set our feet upon here in Texas. Specifically ….

Galatians 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens"

James 1:27 "Visit the widows in their affliction" (the major difference between a widow and a single mom is the way in which the husband left the home - one in death and the other disobedience to his vows to his wife and to God)

1 Timothy clarifies or expands on this verse.

1 Timothy 5:3-8 "Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.  But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.  Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

By God's design, most of the homes we have had the privilege to work on in Texas are owned by widows, one by a single mom, one by a single woman, and one by a couple.  Part of what we do is learn about the struggle both financial, emotional and relational that these women face. In every case, the immediate family has failed them.  They are "in need and left all alone".  

So where is the church in all of this?  When the family fails to help or is incapable of helping, according to the Word, that is when the local church should step in.  Frankly I don't see it happening.  I suppose that there are some churches that have intentional ministry to widows and single moms - but I don't see that happening here.

Pathfinder Mission is a "para-church" ministry which means that we "come along side" the local church .. stand in the gap, if you will.  Fill in where the church does not have the capacity to help.  We count it a privilege to be able to do that and believe that God has uniquely shaped us and strategically positioned us to o what we are doing.

Take a look at this link (KHOU Story).  It describes the situation the Mrs. Smith is facing.  She has lost hope, but not her faith. The takeaway from that video is that God provides.  I told Mrs. Smith that God had not forgotten her .. He had heard her cry for help.  (Note:  I actually didn't call people, I sent out an email and am still receiving responses.)  

The roof is only the tip of the iceberg.  After doing an assessment I found many problems that need to be corrected.  I intend to do just that with God's provision of finances and volunteer support.

As Paul Harvey would say "And now for the rest of the story … "  Helping Mrs. Smith has given me opportunity to share with the news reporter.  She has seen how God has provided … you see .. I think you heard the news casters talking about God on the television.  Amazing!

When KHOU asked me to help, I was first told that a corporation was going to provide the funds, she needed to find a reliable roofer - I contacted the roofer that I use. But, when the company found out what the roof would cost .. they backed out … So KHOU called me to say that they were cancelling their request for our help because there was no money … I told the reporter - "don't lose heart …. God will provide" and he did .. in one day …. through the Saints.  That gave me opportunity to talk about the Lord and His faithfulness and to encourage the reporter.  In addition, I have had opportunity to encourage the roofer ..  this is the third house he has helped me with  and he has been watching what is going on .. although he does not say much … he sees … I am confident that the Lord will give me opportunity to lift Jesus up.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Update on Smith House Restoration In Houston

Galatians 6:2 "Bear On Another's Burdens"

James 1:27 "Pure And Undefiled Religion - Helping Widows In Their Affliction"

This is an update on the Fund Raising effort for the Deborah Smith House

I conducted a detailed assessment two days ago. 

First, with respect to the funds needed .. we have met our financial goal for Phase 1 – get a dumpster in place, remove the trees from the yard and roof, replace the roof.

Phase 2 will be to ensure the house is safe – remove sheetrock – insulation – flooring - remove cabinets in Kitchen - treat for mold – fix sewer pipe in backyard

Phase 3 – plumbing – electrical repairs -  broken windows – exterior doors.

Phase 4 – put house back together

I won’t go into depth on this .. there is much to do … I will need volunteers when we start to put the house back together … and will put a call out well in advance …

I am also using some local volunteers – something that I didn’t have in Mississippi

Because of the codes in Texas, I can’t use electricians. Plumbers and HVAC from other states without having the permits pulled by local people .. down to being registered in the municipality.

You Are Born Again - Redeemed - Saved - Sealed - God's Own Possession - So What?

Also…add to your faith… —2 Peter 1:5 

{CHAMBERS} “In the matter of drudgery. Peter said in this passage that we have become “partakers of the divine nature” and that we should now be “giving all diligence,” concentrating on forming godly habits (2 Peter 1:4-5). We are to “add” to our lives all that character means. No one is born either naturally or supernaturally with character; it must be developed. Nor are we born with habits— we have to form godly habits on the basis of the new life God has placed within us. We are not meant to be seen as God’s perfect, bright-shining examples, but to be seen as the everyday essence of ordinary life exhibiting the miracle of His grace. […] It is difficult for us to do the “adding” that Peter mentioned here. We say we do not expect God to take us to heaven on flowery beds of ease, and yet we act as if we do! I must realize that my obedience even in the smallest detail of life has all of the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it. If I will do my duty, not for duty’s sake but because I believe God is engineering my circumstances, then at the very point of my obedience all of the magnificent grace of God is mine through the glorious atonement by the Cross of Christ. 

{ELGIN}  Do you see yourself as a partaker of the “divine nature”.  That on the day .. the hour .. the minute .. the second … the moment in time when you were born again by the Spirit of God … that forever more you have a spark of the Divine Nature of God in you? Isn’t that remarkable?  And yet .. for something so supernatural .. so amazing … so incomprehensible … it is all too often disregarded … our salvation becomes something that happened to us not something that is happening even today and will continue into infinity.  Wow! Why do you think that so many treat that amazing truth like it is a dirty t-shirt lying on the floor in their closet?  (Ephesians 1:13-14) “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Do you see that?  We are God’s possession .. we must stop acting like the willful children that we are and submit to the will of the Father. We are sealed – marked – with the Spirit  as a deposit – a guarantee – like earnest money you pay when you commit to buying an house.  God has committed to us that our home is in heaven because of our faith in His Son.  I want to encourage you to think about that this morning.  Think about the “So What”.  So if all that is true – what does that mean for the way I am to live my life before I get to heaven?  You can’t do that on your own.  It takes the power of God and self-denial.  (Mark 8:34-35) “Then he [Jesus] called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Jesus Saves Us - The Spirit Empowers Us - Our Faith And Obedience Enables Us

Abide in Me… —John 15:4

{CHAMBERS} “In the matter of determination. The Spirit of Jesus is put into me by way of the atonement by the Cross of Christ. I then have to build my thinking patiently to bring it into perfect harmony with my Lord. God will not make me think like Jesus— I have to do it myself. I have to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). “Abide in Me”— in intellectual matters, in money matters, in every one of the matters that make human life what it is. […] Am I preventing God from doing things in my circumstances by saying that it will only serve to hinder my fellowship with Him? How irrelevant and disrespectful that is! It does not matter what my circumstances are. […] It is unnecessary to change and arrange my circumstances myself. Our Lord’s …. never chose His own circumstances, but was meek, submitting to His Father’s plans and directions for Him. Just think of how amazingly relaxed our Lord’s life was! [….] You say, “Yes, Lord, just a minute— I still have this to do. Yes, I will abide as soon as this is finished, or as soon as this week is over. It will be all right, Lord. I will abide then.” […] In the initial stages it will be a continual effort to abide, but as you continue, it will become so much a part of your life that you will abide in Him without any conscious effort.”

{ELGIN}  (Ephesians 1:13-14) “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”  The Holy Spirit enlivens your new self toward God.  You put your faith in Jesus and God puts His Spirit in you.  The very same Shekinah Glory that led the Children of Israel in the desert … the very same that resided in the Holy of Holies in the temple.  Now you are the temple … and that Spirit leads you, or will if you will follow. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Think about how amazing that is.  Now think about the reverence that you show with respect to that amazing fact of your new life in Christ.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was some physical – visible change when you accepted Jesus .. .when you were born again by the Spirit?  (John 3: 4-8) “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”” 

Nicodemus didn’t understand because even though he was a teacher of the precepts of God, he only had a natural understanding of the facts he was teaching.  Be careful that you don’t make the same mistake.  The Spirit of God will give you understanding but only if you seek it.  If you rely on yourself and your culture you will miss it and struggle in your Christian life.  Think about it.