Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Abandoning The Things Of This World Requires A Heart Change


You did not choose Me, but I chose you’”  – John 15:16

As men and women who have been called by God, we are called to service beyond what most of us imagined after our conversion.  Even the person with only one spiritual gift,  that they might consider to be almost non-essential (God does not agree with them by the way) faces the same challenges that every other saint faces who have what some might imagine are greater gifts when living their new life.  No matter what our role in the Body of Christ, we are all called to abandon the same things, for most it will be an abandonment that takes place in the heart, while with others, it will require physical abandonment.  It is one thing to say that you love God more than your family, it is quite another to leave your family and go on Mission for God.  It is one thing to say that you do not love the things of this world, it is quite another to sell your house and put your retirement at risk in order to go where God has said “Go!”.

Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ …  And he said, ‘All these things I have kept from my youth.’ So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.” – Luke 18: 18, 21-23

I would find it very difficult to write these things to you if I had no intention of doing them myself.  When I was on staff with Promise Keepers in the ‘90s, there was a saying that was popular among us.  “You can’t teach what you don’t know, you can’t lead where you won’t go, and you can only recreate what you are.”  The secret to going is obedience and faith.  Faith comes from God and obedience comes from a “broken and contrite heart”, wholly submitted to the will of God.  Every step you take for God requires the power of God.  It is a glorious life .. living by faith and not by sight.  The person who abandons in the heart is no less faithful than the one who abandons physically in response to the call of God.  The point is being obedient to God no matter what He calls you to do. So when the Spirit whispers in your ear, “This is the way walk in it.”  (Isaiah 30:21) Walk on! … to the glory of God and as a living testimony to a world that needs to see Jesus.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

What A Difference The Spirit Makes

I [Paul] say then: ‘Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.’”  – Galatians 5:16

It is so important to be aware of the importance of living your life submitted to the leading of the Spirit of God who has sealed you until the day of your redemption.  Living your life fully aware that you are no longer bound to the way that you once lived.  Not trying to be good and do rightly, but yielded through the Spirit to the One who IS Good.  Let me use a story that you are familiar with  - Peter and his transformation.

Peter said to Him [Jesus], ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’” –  Matthew 26:35

Peter was apparently convinced that he could do more than he was capable of on his own. Fiercely adamant even. He was expressing what he wanted to be true and was depending upon himself to make it happen.

And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, ‘This man was also with Him.’ But he denied Him, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know Him.’ And after a little while another saw him and said, ‘You also are of them.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not!’” – Luke 22:56-58

So much for “I will not deny you.” We very often have the right intention but fail to understand that our new life is Spirit-dependent.  That it is impossible to live the Christian life in the power of our flesh and self-will. But we try anyway, don’t we? Like Peter – facing the truth brings a feeling of shame and guilt – knowing that we have failed the One we pledged our hearts to.

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’ Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” – Acts 4:8-13

Same guy, different focus.  You may not have to stand before a court defending your faith, but you stand before the world as a witness to your faith every day. Peter shrank away from a woman by the fire but stood boldly before the religious leaders.  The difference was the Spirit of God.  As we live out our new lives, we must live fully submitted to the Spirit of God.  You won’t do that if you ignore your faith except on Sunday or at the dinner table. Stop trying to live a “normal” life where you make all the choices and look to good only when you fail.  Oh – one other thing – we are all like Peter – it’s not just you. You are a child of the King. You don’t have a signet ring and your finger, you have the Spirit of God in your heart.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, February 17, 2020

It Is Easier To Judge Than To Love


When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’ Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’” –  John 8:10-12

The crowd was ready to condemn the woman to death – by stoning – thinking that they would somehow be honoring God – but Jesus showed them that they were all worthy of judgement and death – all had sinned – none could stand the test – “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” God’s desire is that we would admit our sin and repent.  God would that none should perish – that none would be condemned for their sin, but would find forgiveness through faith in His Son, Jesus. 

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9

When we are confronted with blatant sin, it is all too easy for us to stand where the crowd stood when they wanted to punish the woman.  We know what is right and what is wrong from God’s Word. We are all to quick, when we see the sin, to condemn the sinner – as if, somehow, we had the power to judge – but we don’t. That somehow our condemnation was pleasing to God, but it is not. Sin is so blatant in our culture.  It seems that in our culture sin is encouraged – repentance is discouraged.  Paul addressed that problem in Romans 1.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them….. knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” – Romans 1:18-19,32

Rather than condemn the sinner, we should, instead, point them to the One in whom they might find salvation.  Our purpose is not to be judges, but witnesses. Salt and light in a dark world. We are not to condone the sin, but we are love the sinner and encourage them to repent.  Just like Jesus. Judgement will come in time.  Jesus associated with sinners, but did not ever approve of their sin.  He came to save them from it.  The laws of the land are in place to encourage peace, order, and respect for life and property, but today it does little about immorality.  Those laws that attempted to constrain immoral behavior, for the most part have been rescinded.  That does not change what the Lord has said about immoral behavior. It is still sin – but our focus is to be on the Gospel and salvation through faith in Jesus. The Spirit brings conviction to the sinner – if that leads to saving faith then that person is sealed and adopted into the family of God. The thing is, man’s laws do not change the desire to sin only the impulse to carry the sin out. The only way that the desire can change is with a heart change. The only way a heart can change is by faith in Jesus.

Jesus answered and said to him [Nicodemus], ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” – John 3:3

Can you see the difference between discerning behavior that is sinful versus judging, condemning, the one who is sinning?  Pastor Greg Laurie said, “Don’t think of me as a judge, but as a fruit inspector.” It is one thing to say that the woman committed adultery – discernment, and quite another to condemn her to death – then physical death – today, spiritual death. Only God can do that, and you, my friend, are not God.  So when you see the lost reveling in their immorality, don’t judge them.  Pray for them. And if you should have the opportunity – share the Gospel with them.  Don’t conclude that there is no hope for them.  I suspect that someone or more than one someone may have thought that about you and I before the day we were born again.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Friday, February 14, 2020

Love Is All About The Heart


Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” –  Matthew 22:35-39

February 14th is a traditional holiday in this country. It is a day when people express their love for each other by going to dinner, buying chocolates, and cards.  It is like a culmination of the expression of love.  A lawyer was trying to trick Jesus with his question, but Jesus told him that the whole of God’s revelation to man through the Scriptures was “Love”. Loving God and loving others. Not natural affection – but a sacrificial love that puts the one who loves after the one being loved.

My brother and his family recently moved from Arizona back to our home state, Illinois.  I tell people that is a good state to be “from”. Emphasis on the “from”. Martie and I have not lived there since 1974.  He sent me a picture of him shoveling snow with the caption, “Tell me again why I moved from Arizona?” My response was, because you love your wife and then referenced Ephesians 5:25. He responded, “Oh yeah, that’s the reason.”

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” – Ephesians 5:25

That is the picture of love. Expressing love on February 14th is noble, but the proof of that love is what happens the other 364 days of the year. Jesus tested Peter’s heart when Jesus asked Peter if he loved Jesus.

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’
He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’” – John 21:15-17

Do you love me more than these? Is there anything to which you are more devoted than Me? Do you really love God with all or just some.  Do you really love your wife, or wives, your husbands, above all others and other things?  Love like that is a result of our love for God. It is not merely affection, compatibility, or attraction, it is sacrificial – unconditional.

We love Him [God] because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

God is the source of Agape love – the kind of love that the world can never conjure. And how is that love expressed? Through sacrificial devotion and action. It is not with gifts, not with cards, not with words – but with a life lived devoted to the one loved – putting the one who is loved before yourself. So God might ask you what Jesus asked Peter – and He is. Do you love Me, then obey My commands. And the most important command? Love Him and others like He loves us.

How deep the Father's love for us. How vast beyond all measure. That He should give His only Son. To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss. The Father turns His face away. As wounds which mar the Chosen One. Bring many sons to glory
Behold the man upon a cross. My sin upon His shoulders. Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice. Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there. Until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life. I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything. No gifts, no power, no wisdom. But I will boast in Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection.” (How Deep The Father’s Love, Stuart Townend)

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Difference Between Being Good And Being GOOD


Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” –  Galatians 6:2

After we visit families that need help with their homes, we have a meeting to discuss the repair needs and whether or not we should offer them assistance.  I was in one of those meetings yesterday and we were talking about the burden we feel while we are meeting with most of the families we visit.  Galatians 6:2 came to my mind.  It is so easy to read Bible verses and nod our heads or hearts in agreement to the Truth. It is another thing altogether to yield ourselves to that Truth. The burden that we feel when we meet with those who are struggling in life is the reality of Galatians 6:2.

Listen, this is not about social justice or doing good things for people.  That is what the world might see and think. Bearing each other’s burdens is a spiritual act of worship.  It is what Romans 12:1 is referring to.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” – Romans 12:1

There is a term, compassion fatigue, that I didn’t know anything about until we went on the mission field and engaged in Disaster Recovery ministry. If you try to do anything spiritual in the power of your flesh you will become weary, quickly.  It is like Samson’s strength.  He was invulnerable while he was empowered by the Spirit of God, but once the Spirit left him, so did his supernatural strength.  Same for us.  When you consider the opportunities for ministry that the Lord presents as you walk in the Way, they will always require supernatural ability – Holy Spirit power. You might do good but you won’t do GOOD.

So He [Jesus] said to him [the rich young ruler], “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God [the Father].” – Matthew 19:17

Get it? Got it? Good! When the Bible says “Do not become weary of well doing.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13) it is because you will become weary if you are not careful. If you forget that it is not you – you have offered “you” to God to be used by Him for His eternal purposes. Which is to do GOOD for His glory and the good of others. Just don’t forget where the source of your strength comes from.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Prepared For Spiritual Battle - Leaning Forward In The Foxhole


Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” –  Ephesians 6:11-13 

“Anything that does not strengthen me morally is the enemy of virtue within me. Whether I overcome, thereby producing virtue, depends on the level of moral excellence in my life. But we must fight to be moral. Morality does not happen by accident; moral virtue is acquired. And spiritually it is also the same. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation . . .” (John 16:33). This means that anything which is not spiritual leads to my downfall. Jesus went on to say, “. . . but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” I must learn to fight against and overcome the things that come against me, and in that way produce the balance of holiness. Then it becomes a delight to meet opposition. Holiness is the balance between my nature and the law of God as expressed in Jesus Christ.” (Oswald Chambers,  My Utmost For His Highest)

Have you thought about living the Christian life as a battle?  It is you know. We must be disciplined like a soldier to live this new life in Christ …

 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.  And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” –  2 Timothy 2:3-5 

Holiness does not just happen.  Walking after the Spirit and not the flesh is intentional.  In the Army they say that “you fight the way you train” meaning that if you don’t prepare yourself for battle, you will not do well when the battle comes. In Ephesians the Apostle Paul describes the weapons of spiritual warfare that the Lord has provided …

"Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;  praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” – Ephesians 6:14-18 

Don’t be caught sleeping on duty.  A term we used in the Army was that we should be “leaning forward in the foxhole”.  That means be ready every day, every hour, every minute.  That just reminded me of a song .. “If we ever needed the Lord before .. we sure do need Him now and we need Him every day and every hour.” So Christian, my encouragement to you today  is this … suit up soldier! Get ready for the battle that you are sure to face.

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.  Let all that you do be done with love.” –  1 Corinthians 16:13-14

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

You Are A Promise . .You Are a Possibility .. With A Capital "P"


“…so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus…” —Acts 20:24

 “Joy comes from seeing the complete fulfillment of the specific purpose for which I was created and born again, not from successfully doing something of my own choosing. The joy our Lord experienced came from doing what the Father sent Him to do. And He says to us, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). […] “Do you love Me?” Then, “Feed My sheep” (John 21:17). He is not offering us a choice of how we can serve Him; He is asking for absolute loyalty to His commission, a faithfulness to what we discern when we are in the closest possible fellowship with God.”  Oswald Chambers,  My Utmost For His Highest

Martie and I recently attended a concert put on by the Gaither Vocal Band, led by Bill Gaither.  I was reminded how our children “cut their teeth” on Bill and Gloria Gaither songs when they were in grade school.  We still love their music. As many of you know Bill and Gloria Gaither are prolific song writers having written more than 600 Gospel songs. Gloria contributed the lyrics to classics like "Because He Lives," "Something About That Name," and "The King Is Coming." Twenty of their songs have received Dove Awards. So my point is not to promote their music but to make this point. I can remember our kids singing “I am a promise along with the cassette tape” Some of you might have to Google “cassette tape”

I am a promise, I am a possibility.  I am a promise with a capital “P”.  I am a great big bunch of potentiality.  And if I listen, I can hear God’s voice, And if I listen, He will help me make the right choice.  I am a promise to be, anything God wants me to be! “I Am A  Promise”  Gaithers, 1973

We all are a Promise and a Possibility because of our faith in Jesus. All of us have a place and purpose in the Body of Christ.  We each have a part in the playing out of God’s purpose for His creation.  To fulfill that purpose, our potential, we must be faithful and obedient.  We must be willing to serve where He plants our feet and go when He says go and do what He says do.  In whatever capacity that God has shaped us for.  You don’t have to be a preacher, missionary or evangelist to serve God.  But you may be.  The point is that you are proclaimer of God’s message to the world.  John 3:16.   John 14:6 (look those up if you don’t have them memorized already).  Housewife, husband, student, son, daughter, brother, sister, dad, mom … butcher .. baker .. candlestick maker … it doesn’t matter … you are part of the Body of Christ.  Live faithfully and let your life shout out to the world … “JESUS SAVES”!

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, February 10, 2020

Is It Time To Pick Up Your Pace In Your Pursuit Of God?

So Samuel said: ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.’”  – 1 Samuel 15:22


REALITY 7. YOU COME TO KNOW GOD BY EXPERIENCE AS YOU OBEY HIM AND HE ACCOMPLISHES HIS WORK THROUGH YOU.

This is the last reality in Experiencing God. Oh there is a lot more to the study, but these realities are at its core.  Do you want to know God more?  Do you want Him to be “real” in your life? This new life we live could be so much more if we would only stop choosing our old nature over our new.  Spiritual maturity happens by the power of the Spirit at work in a surrendered heart.  Martie and I watch a lot of programs on Amazon Prime and Netflix.  Recently we watched a program called “Grimm” based loosely off of the Brothers Grimm fairy-tales.  Anyway there are people roaming about that have another nature –  a beastly nature – one that only they and the Grimms can see.  Watching that program reminded me of the fact that, as a Christian, I have two natures.  One is bound to Earth – the flesh, the natural man, and one is bound to Heaven – the spiritual man.  How much of my spiritual nature is evident depends upon how much of my heart is yielded to God. The strength of the spiritual man within me happens by being obedient to His commands which I can only do by faith, with a surrendered heart and life and the power of the Spirit in me. 

Principle 2 (Where Faith Is Waiting). God acts on Faith shown NOT on Promises made.

“God is not an enabler. He does not act based upon promises made, but only upon the demonstration of faith and obedience. He doesn’t act until we take the step of faith. This should not be confused with God’s grace and mercy that He shows to all people so they might come to repentance, (Romans 2:4) or the fact that He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:25)

When you are confronted with the Truth of God, you know it. The troubling question is always, “What are you going to do about it?” The Truth always confronts what is not true. If there is something in your life that is contrary to the nature of God, the Word and the Spirit of Truth will expose it. Once exposed, you are faced with a choice. Do you act in obedience to the Truth or disregard it? Disregarding truth is a kinder way of describing disobedience. Most often we prefer to not consider our disregard of Truth as disobedience, but rather merely a choice that is available to us.” (Where Faith Is Waiting – Leader’s Guide, Charley Elgin)

To demonstrate our faith we must first trust God and choose His way and not some way that we have engineered on our own, perhaps encouraged by our culture.  If you want to experience God to the full, you must stop making promises about what you will do if He only will act first.  If He would only prove Himself then, of course, you would be happy to do this or that. Well, my friend, God has already proven Himself, one time for eternity, – He did that through Jesus. When you yielded your life in faith on the day that you were born again – you committed your heart – your very life to the Lord. It is so easy to let that commitment slip away to the back of your mind, condemned to that desolate region where lies all of your broken promises and rationalizations about why you were justified in breaking them.  Why are we so easily satisfied with something far less than God desires and intends for us?  This was the Apostle Paul’s hope for us and mine as well ….

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:17-19

I suspect that some if not many who read this will agree with the idea but will not be even remotely interested in picking up their pace in the pursuit of God and His purposes, of changing the way they live. For them I hope this is a seed planted. But, I am really writing this for the few. Those whose hearts hunger to know God more. To fulfill their purpose as His children – as those called according to His purpose. So to you – let’s pick up the pace and finish the race. You can do it!  

…. since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Friday, February 7, 2020

Following God Will Always Cost You Something

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’ So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ And he answered and said to Him, ‘Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.’ Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.’ But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”  – Mark 10:17-22


REALITY 6. YOU MUST MAKE MAJOR ADJUSTMENTS IN YOUR LIFE TO JOIN GOD IN WHAT HE IS DOING

There are things in our lives, natural things, things of this world, that we learn to depend upon – trust – for our sense of who we are and what we should depend upon.  The young man speaking to Jesus trusted in his wealth – it was his god.  Oh, he was a good person.  He did nice things for others – was respectful, but when you want to join God, He demands your whole heart – no other gods (sound familiar?). The thing is that we, most often, don’t see the things that everyone tells us are right and reasonable to put first, as something we should have to lay down to follow Jesus.  Like the young man talking to Jesus, perhaps proud of his good works, there might be something missing that is essential to what we do having eternal value.

having a form of godliness but denying its power.” – 2 Timothy 3:5

I think that so many Christians fall short of fully experiencing God and His presence because they are unwilling to “sell all they have.” It might be money, family, lifestyle, possessions, perhaps ethnic or national heritage.  The big thing now is tracing your ancestry.  My dad did that before Ancestry.com was a spark in someone’s brain. He discovered that our roots went back to 1650 in the United States.  Interesting stuff – but, as a Christian, my roots go back to the Creator God.

Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” – 2 Corinthians 5:16-19

Regarding no one according to the flesh.  Would that be a major adjustment for you? A major adjustment for most Christians is to consider their natural life and others in the context of who they are in Christ and not consider who they are in Christ in the context of their natural life.  What adjustments do you need to make if you are indeed wanting to join God in what He is doing on this planet of ours? It will require sacrifice – denying your self and what your old nature – your flesh – tells you is important – more important that obeying the Word even. You can’t make these kind of adjustments by willing it – becoming more determined – it is a spiritual act that requires faith and the Spirit of God.

So, I repeat myself again and again. Has God ever spoken to you? Perhaps you think not, but perhaps He has but you were not listening or not believing it was God. Or maybe it required that you lay down more than you were willing to lay down. (to make adjustments in your devotions and dependencies) God speaks to us through prayer, other Believers and circumstances.  Dr. Blackaby said that the problem is not really in knowing it is God, the problem is obeying what He says to you.  God will never ask you to do something that you can do on your own. His call to you will always bring you to a crisis of belief.  Of trust. It will test the “true” devotion of your heart. You may not have to quit your job or live in a trailer or leave your family and friends behind. But, matter what it is – how small it may seem – it will require faith in the One who is calling.

Tomorrow - Reality Seven.

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” – Jude 24-25

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Wanting To Follow Is Not The Same As Willing To Follow

Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, ‘Lord, I will follow You wherever You go. ‘And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’ Then He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.’ And another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’”  – Luke 9:57-62


5. GOD’S INVITATION FOR YOU TO WORK WITH HIM ALWAYS LEADS YOU TO A CRISIS OF BELIEF THAT REQUIRES FAITH AND ACTION

What you say to God when He speaks to you and calls you to walk with Him will always, always challenges your sensibilities.  A crisis of belief, if you will. For many of us who call Jesus, Lord, our perspective on our new life is “Laissez les bons temps rouler” (pronounced : Lay-say le bon tom roo-lay) Let the good times roll.  But the truth is that when God calls you to follow, you will be challenged to abandon what you thought was good and right and comfortable and responsible to join Him in what might seem impossible. Something that requires faith and trust and obedience. Self-denial. Abandonment of things you might be devoted to and perhaps define you. All of them deeply rooted in your natural life.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’” – Matthew 16:24-25

God does not hide that truth from us, so why are we so surprised when it happens to us? God does not do the natural, He does the supernatural. We can only do the supernatural by the power of the Spirit in us.  

When we returned from Haiti, I was asked if I would consider working with the Air Force again as a systems engineer.  I call it making tents.  Something to do and something that sustains us while we wait for our next “assignment” from the Lord.  I agreed, but told the people that interviewed me that one day, I might meet with them and tell them that I was leaving, that God had called us out once again.  I worked as an engineer for two years and then it happened.  Someone in the Sunday School class I was teaching asked, “When are the Elgins going to Texas?” Hurricane Harvey had just wreaked havoc in Southeast Texas.  My response, “We aren’t, we don’t chase storms, we follow God.” That seemed spiritual at the time.  I was impressed. So, do you remember Reality number 4? That next week, Martie and I were sitting in the cell phone lot at the Atlanta airport, waiting for our son to arrive for a visit.  I was wondering why they don’t put port-o-potties in the parking lot, when Martie said, “I think the Lord wants us to go to Texas.” Boom! Where did that come from?

We were comfortable – doing good things – still working with pastors in Haiti – helping out family. But, when Martie tells me that she thinks we are supposed to go do something that means we must lay all of that down – I pay attention.  So I called our Board president, then and there.  I told her that we thought the Lord was sending us to Texas. Her response, “I was wondering when you were going there?” Then she said, “I was just talking to a pastor friend from Pasadena, Texas and he said he needs help. Give him a call.” Soon after we visited Pasadena and then I went to see my boss to tell him the good news. We were leaving for Texas. We have just entered our third year in Texas.  Martie left a very nice home to live in a travel trailer sitting in a church parking lot at the approach end of an airport runway. 

So, I repeat myself again from the previous day’s devotion. Has God ever spoken to you? Perhaps you think not, but perhaps He has but you were not listening or not believing it was God. Or maybe it required that you lay down more than you were willing to lay down.  God spoke to us through prayer, other Believers and circumstances.  Dr. Blackaby said that the problem is not really in knowing it is God, the problem is obeying what He says to you.  God will never ask you to do something that you can do on your own. His call to you will always bring you to a crisis of belief.  Of trust. It will test the “true” devotion of your heart. You may not have to quit your job or live in a trailer or leave your family and friends behind. But, no matter what it is – how small it may seem – it will require faith in the One who is calling.

Tomorrow - Reality Six.

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” – Jude 24-25

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

When God Speaks Are You Listening And Willing To Obey?

And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation. And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, that the Lord called Samuel. And he answered, ‘Here I am!’ So he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’” – 1 Samuel 3:1-5


REALITY 4. GOD SPEAKS BY THE HOLY SPIRIT THROUGH THE BIBLE, PRAYER, CIRCUMSTANCES, AND THE CHURCH (OTHER BELIEVERS)

Have you ever heard someone say, “God showed up?” I have said it myself, but the truth of the matter is that God was already there, He “merely” revealed Himself. When God spoke to Samuel, Samuel thought it was Eli.  God’s voice may not be audible – notice that Eli does not say that he heard God too.  Our conversations with God are very personal – private.  He is speaks to us but seldom to a crowd. I can think of one time, in Luke 9, when the Father spoke to Peter, James and John. (I will let you read it for yourself) In my experience God always speaks through more than one way – I think as affirmation or confirmation. 

After we had been in Mississippi for 5 years, Martie and I sensed that our time there was coming to an end.  We didn’t know what was next, but sought the Lord through prayer.  I recall, about that time, I was helping a friend of mine install cabinets in a home near Waveland.  As we worked, Robert, told me that he and his wife had been praying for us and he believed that we should consider coming to Alabama to help an orphan ministry that was working to bring Haitian orphans to the States.  Haiti and working with orphans was not even on our radar. Soon after I received a call from the Pastor of the church that has sent us out as missionaries,  He had just returned from Haiti with a medical team – this was just after the earthquake in January 2010.  He said, “Charley, you and Martie need to go to Haiti and do what you did in Mississippi!” I told him that I appreciated his concern and respect for our work, but I did not think that the Lord was sending us to Haiti. Not long after, I received a call from a friend in California.  He asked me, “Charley, have you been thinking about Haiti?” Like Samuel – the Lord persisted in call our names. But, like Samuel, we didn’t think it was the Lord. Until the third time.  That is when I realized that the Lord was sending us to Haiti. 

We left Mississippi and spent a year in Alabama working with the orphan ministry, but there was not one Haitian orphan. The truth was that we need to “lay by the stream” for a season to recover physically, emotionally and spiritually from the work in Mississippi.  Then it happened. Another friend told us about a couple in their church that was starting an orphanage ministry in Haiti and they needed help.  Had we not been available in Alabama, we would not have met them and would not have spent the next four years in Haiti. Nor would be still be involved in ministry there today.

Has God ever spoken to you? Perhaps you think not, but perhaps He has but you were not listening or not believing it was God. God spoke to us through prayer, other Believers and circumstances.  Dr. Blackaby said that the problem is not really in knowing it is God, the problem is obeying what He says to you.  God will never ask you to do something that you can do on your own.    

For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” – Matthew 13:15-17

I will risk repeating myself from yesterday.  God is at work all around us.  We need spiritual eyes to see it and a willing heart to join Him. God decides the role you will play.  Are you ready and willing? His Spirit makes you able. We all have a part – we have all been gifted to fulfill our purpose. All there is to do is to step out by faith, trusting God.

Tomorrow - Reality Five.

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” – Jude 24-25

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

God Wants To Use You For Eternal Reasons



“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14

REALITY 3. GOD INVITES YOU TO BECOME INVOLVED WITH HIM IN HIS WORK

This is  third spiritual reality. God wants to use us to point others to the narrow gate.  His work on this earth is one of redemption.  The fact is that not all will be redeemed. That is what Jesus was saying when He spoke of the narrow and the wide.  The picture is one I took as we hiked to a mountain village in western Haiti. When I saw it, I was reminded immediately of Jesus’ words.  We were going at the prompting of the Spirit, knowing that not all would be open to what we would share. 

God does not send us out to be on our own – although, at times, you might feel that you are alone.  He sends us out to join Him where He is already at work. Word of mouth is the best form of advertisement.  I am certain you have heard that before.  We are all called to be witnesses but are not all gifted to be evangelists.  Do you see the difference? We cannot save anyone.  There is no magic formula – no ten sure fire steps to converting a lost soul. Salvation is supernatural and 100% dependent upon God.  He wants to use us as witnesses, as ministers to the hungry, thirsty, sick, needy – that being in both the physical and spiritual sense.  He wants us to join Him, generation to generation, until – one day – the narrow gate will close.

In the meantime, we must be about our Father’s business. (Luke 2:49)  God does not need us, but He desires to use us. The question is – Are we willing? For some it will mean walking to the house next door. Or perhaps speaking to someone at work. Maybe to sell all you have and follow Him to a foreign land. But always our words must always be accompanied by right living – a clear demonstration of a transformed life.  We are to be salt and light.  Too much salt ruins the food – but just the right amount – properly measured – brings life to the meal. The proper light brings revelation – too much blinds the eyes. We must be careful that we don’t think that it is by our work that we fulfill God’s purpose. 

‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.” — Zechariah 4:6

God is at work all around us.  We need spiritual eyes to see it and a willing heart to join Him. God decides the role you will play.  Are you ready and willing? His Spirit makes you able. We all have a part – we have all been gifted to fulfill our purpose. All there is to do is to step out by faith, trusting God.

Tomorrow - Reality Four.

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” – Jude 24-25

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone