Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Call Out To Jesus

My Utmost For His Highest

“When Jesus asks what we want Him to do for us about the incredible problem that is confronting us, remember that He doesn’t work in commonsense ways, but only in supernatural ways. Look at how we limit the Lord by only remembering what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past. We say, “I always failed there, and I always will.” Consequently, we don’t ask for what we want. Instead, we think, “It is ridiculous to ask God to do this.” If it is an impossibility, it is the very thing for which we have to ask. If it is not an impossible thing, it is not a real disturbance. And God will do what is absolutely impossible.” CHAMBERS

Do you believe that our God is able to do the impossible?  You and I face problems, habits, and fears that seem to plague us.  We want to be free from them, but they seem to be always lurking .. waiting to overwhelm us.  After a while we become resolved to the fact that we will struggle with them the rest of our lives.  Nothing can be done.  It is like the blind man who was that way probably his entire life.  There was no reason to believe that his life would ever change.  Why would there be.  But then one day .. he met Jesus .. and what he had marked off as impossible suddenly became a reality (read Luke 18:35-42) 

So what is it in your life that seems impossible to overcome … Seek God as a first resort not as the last thing (Matthew 6:33) … I have heard and have said ‘I guess all we can do is pray!’  what I should have said .. ‘The first thing we are going to do is pray!’  (James 5:16)  Do you want to know God more?  You must meet with Him in the Word.  The Word is a reflection of the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit.  Be like the blind man on the side of the road .. Call out to Jesus … He will hear you  … but what’s more He will heal you .. not just for your comfort, but for His glory.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Who You Gonna Listen To?

My Utmost For His Highest

“We should get in the habit of continually seeking His counsel on everything, instead of making our own commonsense decisions and then asking Him to bless them. He cannot bless them; it is not in His realm to do so, and those decisions are severed from reality. If we do something simply out of a sense of duty, we are trying to live up to a standard that competes with Jesus Christ. We become a prideful, arrogant person, thinking we know what to do in every situation. We have put our sense of duty on the throne of our life, instead of enthroning the resurrection life of Jesus. We are not told to “walk in the light” of our conscience or in the light of a sense of duty, but to “walk in the light as He is in the light. . .” (1 John 1:7). When we do something out of a sense of duty, it is easy to explain the reasons for our actions to others. But when we do something out of obedience to the Lord, there can be no other explanation-just obedience. That is why a saint can be so easily ridiculed and misunderstood.” CHAMBERS

That is where we find ourselves.  Doing something not because it makes sense to other people, but simply because God said to do it.  In the study Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby says that when God speaks … people know it’s God … they know what He said … what they struggle with is obedience … doing that which He told them to do.  When God speaks to us, it always requires a major adjustment in our lives .. what we like, what we do, how we live … and it requires surrender … For many Christians, the hymns they sing on Sunday are nothing more than wishful thinking … I surrender all … Wherever He leads I’ll go … Just as I am … I am Thine Oh Lord … Be the Centre … In Christ Alone .. I will Serve Thee … My Life is in You … Knowing You … the list goes on … we sing those songs .. but so often they never reach our hearts…  From the eyes to the brain to the mouth … When the Lord called the disciples, they left … whatever .. immediately … What is God telling you? Say yes and then hang on!

A nugget from the Word ..

Psalm 15:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel,  but with many advisers they succeed. 

Very often we find ourselves in a place where we need counsel but we are too prideful to receive it or we turn to people who are also searching … imagine that you are with a group of people who are lost in the mountains … everyone is lost but you really like these people.  They are walking the same path that you are.  .. so you starting asking people in the group if they know the way out. If they are lost too why do you think they know how not to be lost.  Does that seem ridiculous when I describe it?  But we do it all of the time. I hear … my friend told me this or that … tell me about your friend, I will ask… oh they are having the same problems (or worse) than I am having… and I think "Hmmmm" 

The counsel we need is godly counsel … from people who are NOT lost, who do know the way out … yet there is something in us that says … you can do it yourself … you don’t need help … What do they know anyway?  I can trust in my friends to help me.

The first place we should look for wisdom is the Word of God … the book of life … seek God … His Spirit will teach you and guide you, and then seek the wisdom of others … others who have proven that they can find their way and are not stumbling in the dark.  Who has God brought into your life that knows the way?  He or she is already in your life … you just need to see them in a different light …

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Get a Grip

My Utmost For His Highest

“… doubts or misgivings about Jesus begin as we consider questions that divert our focus away from God. While we talk of our dealings with Him, others ask us, “Where are you going to get enough money to live? How will you live and who will take care of you?” Or our misgivings begin within ourselves when we tell Jesus that our circumstances are just a little too difficult for Him. We say, “It’s easy to say, ’Trust in the Lord,’ but a person has to live; and besides, Jesus has nothing with which to draw water— no means to be able to give us these things.”  CHAMBERS

What God asks us to do is seek Him --- first (Matt 6:33-34) and put our trust in Him … no matter what it is the confronts us … “In ALL our ways acknowledge Him”  (Prov 3: 6) Dr. Del Tackett from Focus on the Family’s --Truth Project poses an interesting question in that study  He asks  … ‘Do you believe that what you believe is really real?’  In other words, do you really believe this faith stuff or is it just a nice philosophy that really does not have much practical value. If you believe it is true, then you will act on it.  Someone once said that ‘you only believe the parts of the Bible that you obey.’  That is a challenge … God calls us away from the natural course of things to a new way of living this life.  Walking in a spiritual reality … but still living in this world … Isn’t it an odd situation that we find ourselves in?  Ever wonder why God chose to even create us with our own will … I mean we really have the capacity to mess things up don’t we? And yet in each person there is a glimmer, a spark of knowing that there is more to us than what we are experiencing … We just don’t know how to get a grip on it. 

Jesus said, ‘I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life.’  That is how we get a grip … that is how we experience a greater reality … through a relationship with Him.  And how do we do that? Of course it starts with salvation .. We must be born again ( John 3:3-8) … but we must go beyond salvation … through our study of the Word (Joshua 1:8,9) and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  (John 14:26)

I want to encourage you to seek the life that God has intended for you .. stop believing that what you are experiencing can never get any better …  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you … (James 4:8)

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Letting Go

My Utmost For His Highest

“The real test of a saint is not one’s willingness to preach the gospel, but one’s willingness to do something like washing the disciples’ feet— that is, being willing to do those things that seem unimportant in human estimation but count as everything to God. It was Paul’s delight to spend his life for God’s interests in other people, and he did not care what it cost. But before we will serve, we stop to ponder our personal and financial concerns— “What if God wants me to go over there? And what about my salary? What is the climate like there? Who will take care of me? A person must consider all these things.” All that is an indication that we have reservations about serving God. But the apostle Paul had no conditions or reservations. Paul focused his life on Jesus Christ’s idea of a New Testament saint; that is, not one who merely proclaims the gospel, but one who becomes broken bread and poured-out wine in the hands of Jesus Christ for the sake of others.” CHAMBERS

Since we began this journey in 2005, I have been surprised at how many people comment on, even marvel at, what we have given up to serve the way we do.  Because of that we have become very intentional about being on our guard against pride.  What started out as an offering to the Lord could easily become a point of pride as if we had done some great thing worthy of others’ admiration.  What I would hope is that rather than say, “what you are doing is wonderful, you have given up so much”  (meaning we gave up those things that they see as very valuable) Instead,  the response I would like our lives to provoke is .. “I see what God has done in your life because you said “yes” and I want to follow where He leads me in the same way … no matter where it leads.”   

(Philippians 3:7-9)

 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

That is what Chambers is speaking to.  Romans 12:1 says that we should lay our lives down .. not holding anything back … If we hold something back it shows that we have a divided heart … we don’t want to give something because we trust in it more than we trust in God … we love it more than we love God.  It might be our safety, our wealth, our family relationships …  whatever it is, God wants us to lay it down.  That does not mean that He wants you to go to Africa, necessarily, but He does want you to love Him with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength (Matt 22:37)

Whatever it is that you are hanging on to as a plan B … let it go and give your all to Him … You will uncover an amazing secret … you will have lost nothing of value … and gained everything ….

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flourishing for God

My Utmost For His Highest

I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls . . . —2 Corinthians 12:15

“Once “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit,” we deliberately begin to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ’s interests and purposes in others’ lives (Romans 5:5). And Jesus has an interest in every individual person. We have no right in Christian service to be guided by our own interests and desires. In fact, this is one of the greatest tests of our relationship with Jesus Christ. The delight of sacrifice is that I lay down my life for my Friend, Jesus (see John 15:13). I don’t throw my life away, but I willingly and deliberately lay it down for Him and His interests in other people. And I do this for no cause or purpose of my own. Paul spent his life for only one purpose— that he might win people to Jesus Christ. Paul always attracted people to his Lord, but never to himself. He said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).”  CHAMBERS

You know, if there is one regret that I have, it is that the Lord did not call us to this ministry when we were 20 years younger, but as I read Psalm 92 this morning I was reminded that He is the Potter and we are the clay in the Potter’s hand. (Psalm 92:12-15) 12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; 13 planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, 15 proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” 

I praise the Lord that He is able to use an ‘old jar’ for His purpose.  In the ‘Our Daily Bread’ devotion  today, David Roper asks the question “Do you think your usefulness to God is over? Continue in God’s Word, rooted and grounded in Christ, drinking in His love and faithfulness. Then, no matter your age, you will bear fruit and be “fresh and flourishing”  

We place limits on ourselves ..  ‘Oh God can’t use me now … not after I have failed Him or not since I am not young any more .. or … well you can finish the excuse.  Hear me … there is nothing so great that God is not greater … God used murderers, thieves, liars, adulterers, prostitutes, self-righteous, poor, rich, young and ‘old’ people to accomplish His purposes … Am I saying that God will use you and ignore your sin?, No! But He will forgive your sin and use you.  Don’t think that your circumstances limit God … Turn your heart back to Him, seek Him out … be restored and flourish in His courts … and watch the fruit spring from your branches as you draw deeply from the Vine …

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Doing the Right Thing for the Right Reason

My Utmost For His Highest

‘But the chief motivation behind Paul’s service was not love for others but love for his Lord. If our devotion is to the cause of humanity, we will be quickly defeated and broken-hearted, since we will often be confronted with a great deal of ingratitude from other people. But if we are motivated by our love for God, no amount of ingratitude will be able to hinder us from serving one another.’  CHAMBERS

So what is my motivation for service?  That is really the question that provokes.  Something I have heard myself say .. “I will do whatever I can for people, but ungratefulness makes me want to not help.”  It doesn’t matter what I give up to serve .. it doesn’t matter where I serve … if I don’t have the right heart attitude, the right motivation, I do it in vain.  My purpose in life is to point people to Jesus not impress them with my service or sacrifice.  I serve God to the benefit of man, not the other way around. 

I don’t know if you have ever watched ‘Ground Hog Day’.  Bill Murray is stuck on one day until he get’s it right .. there is one scene where he looks at his watch, runs down the sidewalk and then catches a kid who is falling out of a tree, day after day.  Bill tells the kid to say thankyou and the kid just runs off.  At first he does it and expects gratitude, but eventually he does it because it is the right thing to do. 

The response from people should not matter to me. Whether they are grateful or not does not matter. I am showing them Jesus not looking for praise. What is most important is that I respond to God’s leading.  My desire is that I would say ‘yes’, unconditionally.

(Philippians 3:7-10)  "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings"

I must be careful that I don’t consider my self, righteous because of what I do … I am righteous but only through Jesus … if my works have any eternal value it is because of Jesus Christ and Him alone.  What I do must be motivated by my love for Him, first and my love for others second … my love for myself comes in dead last.

Let your light shine today

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Lord is My Strength

My Utmost For His Highest

Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling. ….. the call to spiritual perseverance.  A call not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately, knowing with certainty that God will never be defeated…. If our hopes seem to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means that they are being purified.  CHAMBERS

There is a hardware and building supply store just down the road from Children’s Hope here in Jacmel named “Perseverance”.  When I first saw it, I thought that it was an appropriate description of what the Haitian people must do in the midst of their struggle to survive.  It is also a reminder to me that if I keep my focus on God and not my particular circumstance I can and will persevere. 

What does the Bible say about perseverance? 

James 1:12    Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial …. ,

James 5:10-11  Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

1 Corinthians 13:6-8   Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

We struggle with life and circumstances and often want to ‘quit’ because of it.  To  persevere is to press on with our eyes fixed on the One who called us, who saved us, who loves us .. who is dependable .. trustworthy … able to do more than we can ask or think … He is on our side …

I was thinking back to 1976 … I was at Fort Knox learning to be a lieutenant in Armor … we were taking a Physical Fitness test.  Part of that test is a 2 mile run.  One of the guys I knew was having problems completing the run.  So I slowed my pace and ran beside him.  He was ready to quit .. his body hurt .. he had no breath … he was totally focused on his pain … what I did was turn his focus on the next bend on the track … to look ahead … to press on … he did and he finished the run and passed the test .. not with a high score but he finished the same … later he went to flight school and finished his career. 

My point is not to take credit for his success but to suggest that when we feel like we can’t take another step .. life is just too hard .. we lose heart … remember that you have an advocate … His name is Jesus.  He will help you in those times when you don’t think you can go on … Paul said …. In our weakness His strength is made perfect …

‘And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ‘ (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Look to the Lord for the strength to Persevere.

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Time with God

My Utmost For His Highest

“To be surrendered to God is of more value than our personal holiness.” Chambers

Many if not most Christians spend their lives trying to “be” a Christian by doing the right things or not doing the wrong things.    But the core of our Christian life is about a relationship not about works.  Someone once said, ‘we are called human beings not human doings for a reason.' It is about surrendering our lives to the Lord not about trying to be good.  God loves us and wants a relationship with us, not just compliance.  Do you know what my wife’s and my greatest joy is?  To be with each other. God doesn’t want us to live a certain way because we have to as Christians … but because it is a natural result of our relationship with Him.  Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches.  Apart from me, you can do nothing”  John 15:5  Living this new life is about relationship, first and fruit or right behavior flowing from that relationship … God is about changing us from the inside out .. and that change happens when I cultivate my realtionship with Him. 

We can’t be who God intended us to be by trying harder. We use a lot of portable drills in our work here in Haiti.  We refer to them as “screw guns” because we most often use them to put screws into wood.  Well imagine that I ask you to put some three inch screws into some lumber.  I give you the screw gun and the screws, but no battery.  So you have to use the tool like a manual screw driver.  Turning the whole thing by hand .. it might take you 30 minutes to put one screw in the wood … But now imagine that I give you the battery … now it takes 10 seconds to put that same screw in the board.

That is like difference between doing things on your own and being surrendered to God.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

 I am reminded of a song that goes,  I come to the garden alone While the dew is still on the roses And the voice I hear falling on my ear The Son of God discloses. And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.” 

So spend some time with God today. You will be glad you did.

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Monday, February 20, 2012


My Utmost For His Highest

“Arise, let us go from here —John 14:31  Daydreaming about something in order to do it properly is right, but daydreaming about it when we should be doing it is wrong. In this passage, after having said these wonderful things to His disciples, we might have expected our Lord to tell them to go away and meditate over them all. But Jesus never allowed idle daydreaming. When our purpose is to seek God and to discover His will for us, daydreaming is right and acceptable. But when our inclination is to spend time daydreaming over what we have already been told to do, it is unacceptable and God’s blessing is never on it.” CHAMBERS

What wonderful things had Jesus told them …

·         Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.

·         I go to prepare a place for you.

·         I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

·         Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

·         And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

·         If you love Me, keep My commandments.

·         And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—

·         I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

·         He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."

·         But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

·         Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

After Jesus told his disciples these things ..( He was on His way to the cross by the way) … He said OK let’s walk in those truths … and that is what He is saying to us and what Chambers is emphasizing.  Mental acknowledgement of Biblical truth is not enough.  I can acknowledge that a truck is coming and I should get off the road .. but it is only when my feet start moving and I get off the road will that realization have any practical value in my life … “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)

Joshua says to meditate on the Word but then he says not to stop with that .. there is a reason for the meditation … to know what to do … then we are to do what it says.  THEN you will realize the benefit of your understanding.  … so let’s git-r-done.

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Attitude Check

My Utmost For His Highest

Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether or not we are spiritually genuine. Read John 13. In this chapter, we see the Incarnate God performing the greatest example of drudgery— washing fishermen’s feet. He then says to them, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14)…… we must act to be obedient and not continue to lie down doing nothing. If we will arise and shine, drudgery will be divinely transformed.  CHAMBERS

Seem like an odd topic for a devotion?  Are you thinking, what does drudgery have to do with my relationship with Jesus.  In Matthew 22 when asked what the greatest commandment  was, Jesus said Love God, but then added there is another, Love Others.  And how much am I supposed to love?  Romans 12:1, Paul says we should offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God and in John 15 Jesus said that no greater love is shown to others than to lay our own lives down for them. 

Living our life in that manner, a Matthew 22 life, doesn’t happen the day we say yes to Jesus. God puts His Spirit in us and then the transformation begins … Romans 12:2 … 2 Corinthians 5:17.  Our new life requires a focused and intentional effort on our part if we are to develop our relationship with God.  Oswald Chambers says that our spirituality will be tested as we walk this faith walk.  The point of testing is not to see if we will fail, but to strengthen us …

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory”  (1 Peter 1:6-8)

The point today is that you may find yourself doing something that just doesn’t seem very spiritual … maybe you have even developed an attitude because of it … maybe you don’t feel appreciated … maybe you are feeling under-utilized … maybe you are thinking that people just don’t understand what you have to offer ….. think about this … how has your present condition or situation affected your attitude toward God and others?  Do you resent having to lay your life down? 

“Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character.” I want to suggest that you can use those thoughts and feelings as a spiritual barometer … Testing your focus .. reminding you that your life is not your own … that you can’t live your new life in the strength of your flesh ….

In the midst of drudgery, let your light shine so that others will see Jesus …

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Taking Another Step

My Utmost For His Highest

“ That opportunity is lost forever and you can’t change that. But get up, and let’s go on to the next thing.” In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him.  There will be experiences like this in each of our lives. We will have times of despair caused by real events in our lives, and we will be unable to lift ourselves out of them. The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing— they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus. But our Lord came to them taking the spiritual initiative against their despair and said, in effect, “Get up, and do the next thing.” If we are inspired by God, what is the next thing? It is to trust Him absolutely and to pray on the basis of His redemption.  Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.” CHAMBERS

That is how we can feel when we realize that we missed God – an opportunity missed and lost forever.  That may be true, but we need to get up and go on to the next thing.  We are not going to cause God to fail because of our humanity.  And it doesn’t mean that we can no longer walk in obedience to His call …. God can use ‘cracked pots’ as someone once said.  The point is that we recognize where we are and where God wants us to be and then go there.  Not in the strength of our flesh but in the power of His Spirit.

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Put Your Hope In God

My Utmost For His Highest

If we were never depressed, we would not be alive—only material things don’t suffer depression. If human beings were not capable of depression, we would have no capacity for happiness and exaltation.  ……..  When the Spirit of God comes to us, He does not give us glorious visions, but He tells us to do the most ordinary things imaginable. Depression tends to turn us away from the everyday things of God’s creation. But whenever God steps in, His inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things-things we would never have imagined God was in, but as we do them we find Him there. The inspiration that comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression. But we must take the first step and do it in the inspiration of God. If, however, we do something simply to overcome our depression, we will only deepen it. But when the Spirit of God leads us instinctively to do something, the moment we do it the depression is gone. As soon as we arise and obey, we enter a higher plane of life.” CHAMBERS

Does that seem like an odd topic for a spiritual devotion?  The Bible is about showing us God and how He intended for us to live.  There are realities that we face each day .. one of those is our capacity to experience depression … we can experience depression because we have the capacity to experience the polar opposite … joy.  Chambers is saying that in the midst of our depression we can ‘walk away from it’.  We turn to God and obey His voice. 

I am not a psychologist … I know there have been many books and studies on depression – causes and cures.  but I also know that our God is bigger than anything we can face in this life.  And I do know that the Word says … “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.  (Psalms 42:5)

I know that God’s intent is for us to be in relationship with Him … I know that there are times that we lose focus on that relationship … I know that when we are far away from God, relationally, it is a difficult climb to get back to the place of joy.  Chambers says it is doing the simple things … doing things by faith .. just doing it because God said it … “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)

When you are struggling with depression .. don’t you find that your soul is restless?  Turn to God?  I am not saying you might not need some help to see it and understand it .. but put your hope in God and don’t lean on your own understanding.  There is a song .. Learning to Lean … it goes, “….. finding more power than I ever dreamed, I am learning to lean on Jesus” ,,,,

That is my prayer for you today … Every journey begins with the first step … Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8) … that is a promise you can take to the bank!

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oh How He Loves You and Me

My Utmost For His Highest

“God does not give us overcoming life—He gives us life as we overcome. When the inspiration of God comes, and He says, “Arise from the dead . . . ,” we have to get ourselves up; God will not lift us up. Our Lord said to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch out your hand” (Matthew 12:13). As soon as the man did so, his hand was healed. But he had to take the initiative. If we will take the initiative to overcome, we will find that we have the inspiration of God, because He immediately gives us the power of life.” CHAMBERS

So as we travel on this road of life, we face great difficulties and disappointments.  We lose hope and maybe even sight of God.  We find ourselves living in the strength of our flesh.  Accepting life as it is believing that life will not ever change.  Then Jesus comes by in the form of a person or an email and says ‘Stretch out your hand’  and we are faced with a choice .. do we put our faith in Him or do we draw back.  I want to encourage you to hold your hand out … and be restored in whatever aspect of your life you need restoration …

What happens on this faith walk is that we stop trusting in the Lord and start trusting in ourselves.  It doesn’t happen abruptly, but begins like a summer storm.  Just a few drops of rain, nothing to be concerned about, but then there is more and more until there is a torrent.  But God pursues us … He seeks the lamb that has lost its way, He waits, watching the crest of the hill for the son who left to return … He stretches out His arms to say .. “I love you this much” John 15:13. 

Sometimes we need to be reminded of His great love for us .. and our new life in Him … God loves you and so do I

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Shine for Jesus

My Utmost For His Highest

“Has it ever dawned on you that you are responsible spiritually to God for other people? For instance, if I allow any turning away from God in my private life, everyone around me suffers. We “sit together in the heavenly places . . .” (Ephesians 2:6). “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it . . .” (1 Corinthians 12:26). If you allow physical selfishness, mental carelessness, moral insensitivity, or spiritual weakness, everyone in contact with you will suffer. But you ask, “Who is sufficient to be able to live up to such a lofty standard?” “Our sufficiency is from God . . .” and God alone (2 Corinthians 3:5).” CHAMBERS

Well that is pretty ‘heavy’ isn’t it.  When I first read that, I immediately started thinking of reasons why that was not true.  Or why I don’t want it to be true.  I don’t want to think that my failings would impact other people. Especially impact people I care deeply about.  My mom did not want to hear me say that .. I belevie because it made her feel guilty.  That is not my intent … but helping you understand Biblical Truth is my intent.   And the truth is the truth. (You can quote me if you like!) There are many examples in the Bible .. God showing us the principle.  If you want to take it to a grand scale, how did my sin affect God?  He sent His Son to the cross for my sin. 

The bible describes how the sins of the fathers are visited upon the third and fourth generations … … How does that heppen?  Dr. James Dobson said that our values are not taught they are ‘caught’.  In other words, our children watch what we do, not what we say we do.  They see what we allow .. not what we preach against.  An example … you tell your child ‘Don’t lie’ then you ask, ‘Who is it on the phone?  (It is someone you don’t want to talk to)  Tell them I am not home.’  Now how could that be harmful?  The lesson that was just caught, ‘if it is inconvenient, it’s OK to lie.’ My dad told me not to smoke cigarettes as he lit one up.  What do you think the message I received was?

So as parents, we are held to a high standard … frankly if I didn’t want that responsibility I should not have become a parent.  I must add, that is not to say that our children are not responsible for their own sin … we are all individually responsible to God.  But think about this, why is there a law about contributing to the delinquency of a minor if influencing the lives of others in the wrong direction is not a problem? 

But, in the midst of this realization, I take hope and find comfort in knowing that even in my weakness and failings, all is not lost … there is a Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who can intervene in my life and the lives of those I have influenced.  He can restore .. give life … make us whole … wash away the past and give us a future that we never imagined … He is just waiting for the invitation.  My encouragement to you, don’t just tell others about Jesus (but do tell them) … live the life and let them see Jesus  (Matthew 5:16)  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Let’s influence the third and fourth generations for Him

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Returning to God

My Utmost For His Highest

We should experience delight for having heard God speak, but mostly humiliation for having taken so long to hear Him! Then we will exclaim, “How slow I have been to listen and understand what God has been telling me!” And yet God has been saying it for days and even weeks. But once you hear Him, He gives you the gift of humiliation, which brings a softness of heart— a gift that will always cause you to listen to God now. CHAMBERS

When we do not walk in the light of our faith .. and all of us struggle with that … our hearts become hardened toward the things of God.  But God pursues us … He will not let us alone … He loves us even though we reject Him.  Read about Hosea and Gomer in Hosea chapters 1-3 That was a picture of God (Hosea) and Israel (Gomer), but it could also be said of us … the adultry is loving other things and pursuing them and turning our backs on Jehovah.  But God continues to pursue us .. and then we hear His voice, our hearts are softened and we return to Him with humiliation … sorrow … a repentant heart … ready to listen to God and walk in His ways.

Our hearts do not become hard overnight .. but over time … one day … one sin … at a time … then we find ourselves far away from God

I am reminded of a song ..  Lord I am Coming Home by William J Kirkpatrick

1.      I’ve wandered far away from God, Now I’m coming home;
The paths of sin too long I’ve trod,
Lord, I’m coming home.

o       Refrain:
Coming home, coming home,
Nevermore to roam;

o       Open wide Thine arms of love, Lord, I’m coming home.

2.      I’ve wasted many precious years, Now I’m coming home;
I now repent with bitter tears,
Lord, I’m coming home.

3.      I’m tired of sin and straying, Lord, Now I’m coming home;
I’ll trust Thy love, believe Thy word,
Lord, I’m coming home.

4.      My soul is sick, my heart is sore, Now I’m coming home;
My strength renew, my home restore,
Lord, I’m coming home.

5.      My only hope, my only plea, Now I’m coming home;
That Jesus died, and died for me,
Lord, I’m coming home.

6.      I need His cleansing blood I know, Now I’m coming home;
Oh, wash me whiter than the snow,
Lord, I’m coming home.

The Lord calls to us come on back to the house … His arms are open wide.  Share this with someone who needs to hear it, today.

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Listen to God

My Utmost For His Highest

“But most of us show incredible disrespect to God because we don’t even hear Him. He might as well never have spoken to us.  The goal of my spiritual life is such close identification with Jesus Christ that I will always hear God and know that God always hears me …. If I have not developed and nurtured this devotion of hearing, I can only hear God’s voice at certain times. At other times I become deaf to Him because my attention is to other things— things which I think I must do. This is not living the life of a child of God.” CHAMBERS

Have you ever said something in a conversation only to have someone say “That is just what I said!”  But you didn’t hear it.  Or maybe the thought that you had was not yours at all but the words the other person had just spoken.  Whatever the case, the person is normally just a little put out because that tells them, in no uncertain terms, you are not listening to what they say. 

That is how it is with us and God.  It is not that God is not speaking .. the problem is that we are not listening.  Our attention is on the cares of this world .. we are so focused on the issues of life that we cannot hear what God is saying to us. (Psalms 46:10-11)  Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.”

Hearing God requires focus … looking intently on Him. God is not your enemy He is your advocate.  As you live your life every day, the Lord is with you.  He is your strength.  He knows what is best for you.  Our natural desire is to trust in our own judgment and not listen to His voice …  (Isaiah 30:21)  “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.”

God speaks through His Word, through nature, He is always speaking  …. But we must listen …. (James 1:25)  “But whoso looks into the perfect law of liberty (the Bible), and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. “

This will not necessarily make you problems go away … the men that were inspired to write the words in the Bible all struggled in life … the proof of God’s presence is not the absence of trouble … (John 16:33)  “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

But He has overcome the world … He is at your side … you can have peace in the midst of the storm you are in now.  Put your hope in God … listen to Him .. and then walk in the way He shows you. 

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Living the Life

My Utmost For His Highest

 We show how little love we have for God by preferring to listen to His servants rather than to Him. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we don’t want God Himself to speak to us. Why are we so terrified for God to speak to us? It is because we know that when God speaks we must either do what He asks or tell Him we will not obey. But if it is simply one of God’s servants speaking to us, we feel obedience is optional, not imperative. We respond by saying, “Well, that’s only your own idea, even though I don’t deny that what you said is probably God’s truth.”  CHAMBERS

 The key to living the new life we have been given as Christ followers is maintaining a relationship with the Lord.  That does not mean somehow you must avoid losing your salvation … you can’t undo your adoption … you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14)  “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

 What it does mean is that you must personally build a relationship with the Lord and maintain it.  Reading the Word, talking with God, and living in obedience to what He says … John 14:21 says that if you keep God’s commandments you demonstrate that you love God.  Deuteronomy 32:46-47 says the Bible is not just words .. it’s our life … our guide to how God intended His creation to live in relationship to Him, other people and the world they live in. 

 By staying in touch with God every day, we remain sensitive to His Word and will.  It’s like driving on the interstate.  The speed limit is 70mph.  Most cars drive 80 and others even faster.  Everyone knows what the law says, but they ignore it … until they see the police car and then they become law abiding drivers … at least until they know they aren’t going to get stopped.  We need to practice driving the speed limit … I have found that I still arrive at my destination … Saving a few minutes or a couple of hours is not worth compromising what I know to be right.  If I compromise  there … where else am I willing to compromise?  It is a slippery slope.  So I deliberately set the speed on the cruise control to 70mph.  Sometimes I need to be reminded to set it … I have an angel sitting next to me :o)  but you get the point. 

To live this life in Christ in the manner that God intended I must be intentional, I must read the Word, I must talk to God, obey what He says, and I must do that every day. Are you doing those things?  All of those things?  If not you now understand the reason why God seems so distant and your faith of so little value.  There is much more to be said .. thousands of books have been written on the subject … but that is enough for today.

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)