Saturday, March 31, 2012

Who are you pointing that finger at!

My Utmost For His Highest

If we are not heedful and pay no attention to the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites. We see where other people are failing, and then we take our discernment and turn it into comments of ridicule and criticism, instead of turning it into intercession on their behalf. God reveals this truth about others to us not through the sharpness of our minds but through the direct penetration of His Spirit. If we are not attentive, we will be completely unaware of the source of the discernment God has given us, becoming critical of others and forgetting that God says, “. . . he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death.” Be careful that you don’t become a hypocrite by spending all your time trying to get others right with God before you worship Him yourself. CHAMBERS

You may have heard someone say, ”When you point your finger at someone, you have three pointing back at you.”  Jesus talked about the speck and the beam.  (Luke 6:41-42).  People want to fix other people when they, themselves, have huge issues in their own lives that they either ignore or accommodate.  Jesus also talked about the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-35).  The servant was forgiven a great debt, but when it was his turn to show mercy and grace, he refused but demanded restitution and justice.  Aren’t you glad that Jesus took your place and suffered the wrath of the Father for you!  

So why is it that we are so quick to condemn others?  To think they should not be shown mercy and grace as they struggle with life?  I don’t think we see their sin as a struggle but as a choice … hmmm … how does that differ from my sin?  They could be different if they really wanted to be … hmmm … if it’s so easy, why do I struggle with that?  Here is the deal .. we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  We are all one choice away from sinning against God … Jesus came and died and was raised for all of us .. we are not in an exclusive club … we are not the Holy Spirit … but we are sons and daughters of the King and have been called to be encouragers, salt and light, comforters, prayer warriors, messengers about the Good News,  forgivers who forgive just as we have been forgiven, the list goes on …

Sound too hard?  It is, because it is Spiritual, it’s not carnal … we can’t be all of those things without the fire of God burning in our hearts.  We have unclean lips (Isaiah 6) until our lips are touched by a coal from the altar.  We must stop thinking that we can live this life in the power of our own ability .. We can only do and act and be who God has called us to be by abiding in Christ … He is the Vine and we are the branches, apart from Him we can do nothing … (John 15:5) The question is, what part of nothing don’t we understand.  When I read scripture, I think I understand, but the more I read the deeper I go .. the things of God are so deep … I only understand in part but the closer I draw near to God the more I understand … and the more I realize that I don’t understand … How great is our God, sing with me .. how great is all our and all will see how great, how great is our God!

Keep your light shining and your eyes fixed on Jesus.

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Take A Morning Stroll

My Utmost For His Highest

A Christian worker’s greatest need is a readiness to face Jesus Christ at any and every turn….[…] .. This readiness will not be brought about by service, but through intense spiritual reality ..[…].. If you are avoiding the call of the religious thinking of today’s world, and instead are “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2), setting your heart on what He wants, and thinking His thoughts, you will be considered impractical and a daydreamer. CHAMBERS

Something that has been on my mind of late is this very thing .. that there is no part of my day that Jesus is not right there … We know that God is everywhere .. but we don’t live like we know it … there was a man named Brother Lawrence who lived in France in the 1600’s.  He was a common man with an uncommon heart for God.  A book has been written about him – ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’.  The theme, as you might have guessed, is living your life with a constant awareness that God is present. 

The only way that we can live our life that way is to develop a relationship with God that is so close that He is always on our mind.  Do you think you would live your life differently if you knew that Jesus was walking next to you?  David asked, Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (Psalms 139:7)

So how do we develop that kind of relationship?  By spending time with God every day.  Some people spend some time with Him, others very little time. But God wants us to make Him the most important aspect of our life, not just a side note.  Everything else about our lives is a reflection of the quality of our relationship with God.  I am not talking to unbelievers .. but to you who claim Jesus as Lord and in whom the Spirit of God resides.  (1 Corinthians 3:16)  

Why do you doubt the truth of the Word?  You don’t you say?  Do you know that you only believe the part that you obey?  God is saying to us, ‘Come walk with me in the Garden’  I feel a song coming on … ‘I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses, and the Voice I hear falling on my ear [..] and He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own’  Well, it goes on, but I will stop … God loves us, that is hard to grasp in my puny mind … why would He? And if He does .. why isn’t it more important to me … something to think about .. but more … something to do … Hey it’s time for my morning walk …..

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just say YES!

My Utmost For His Highest

“I know when the instructions have come from God because of their quiet persistence. But when I begin to weigh the pros and cons, and doubt and debate enter into my mind, I am bringing in an element that is not of God. This will only result in my concluding that His instructions to me were not right. Many of us are faithful to our ideas about Jesus Christ, but how many of us are faithful to Jesus Himself? Faithfulness to Jesus means that I must step out even when and where I can’t see anything (see Matthew 14:29). But faithfulness to my own ideas means that I first clear the way mentally. Faith, however, is not intellectual understanding; faith is a deliberate commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ, even when I can’t see the way ahead.” CHAMBERS

“Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:6-11)

Why would we think that we can figure things out?  That God gives us an idea to ponder, like we are trying to decide do I go to town or stay home today … Henry Blackaby (author of Experiencing God) says that when God speaks we know it’s God.  When God speaks, we know what He says. But when God speaks what we struggle with is saying “Yes Lord.”  In the military, our life was governed by something called the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  It is separate from the civilian legal system - it is simple, swift and sure.  Article 92 is ‘Failure to Obey a Lawful Order’.  If I gave an order to someone, they did not have an option to obey it .. their only option was to say ‘Yes Sir’ and do what I said.  They recognized my authority to give it and submitted to that authority.  Some obeyed because they feared the negative consequence if they refused. (Each article in the UCMJ has a maximum punishment associated with someone's violation of it.) But most obeyed because they embraced who they were and the authority I represented.  And for those who didn't there was a consequence.  (I am NOT suggesting you will lose your salvation by saying no to God!)

Chambers is saying that we don't have an option when God speaks.  If He is indeed Lord, our only answer can be ‘Yes Sir’.  But that isn’t waht we do is it?  We don’t always answer in the affirmative … we say .. I need to pray about that .. I will get back to you … or maybe, let me do this one thing first  … Then He [Jesus] 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." (Luke 9:59-60)

Jesus didn’t seem to have much sympathy for the guy. But don’t you think that Jesus already knew that his father had died when He said ‘Follow Me'?  I am not suggesting that following God will not cost you … it will cost you … it is not a sacrifice if it doesn’t cost you … (Romans 12:1,2)  Has God already spoken to you?  What is your answer going to be? Maybe you are struggling with it?  Well, I hope that your answer is  ‘YES’!
Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Walk with Confidence

My Utmost For His Highest
“Both God and Satan use the strategy of elevation, but Satan uses it in temptation, and the effect is quite different. When the devil elevates you to a certain place, he causes you to fasten your idea of what holiness is far beyond what flesh and blood could ever bear or achieve. Your life becomes a spiritual acrobatic performance high atop a steeple. You cling to it, trying to maintain your balance and daring not to move. But when God elevates you by His grace into heavenly places, you find a vast plateau where you can move about with ease.  Compare this week in your spiritual life with the same week last year to see how God has called you to a higher level.”  CHAMBERS

Have you felt like you had to be a spiritual acrobat?  Constantly aware that you were on the edge .. doing your best to keep your balance .. trying hard not to sin.  Chambers gives us a great picture of what it is like to try to work your way into being acceptable to God .. to live your life in a manner that you think pleases God.  You might look pretty good but in your heart you know that one wrong move and you are toast … Once slipup and you are headed back to terra firma … and then you will have to start all over again … If you are living your life in Christ like that, it is a life of fear – anxiety …

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Those verses tell me that if I am fearful, it is not from God.  If I am living my life in constant fear that I am going to mess up … that is not what God intended for me.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

That is not to say that it’s OK if we sin .. sin is never OK … but our focus must be heavenward.  Our eyes must be on the Lord and not the steeple.  We must rest in His power and might …  to walk and run on that ‘vast plateau’ … which reminds me of a song … I’m runnin’ where the rivers are flowin’ I runnin’ where the grapes are growin’, I’m runnin’ yes I' runnin' in Canaan’s land, it’s really grand.  In my heart there is joy divine just to know that the Lord is mine …

Your feet on are solid ground .. our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus and His righteousness .. on Christ the solid rock we stand, all other ground is sinking sand … Walk in the fullness of your new life today with confidence that the God of heaven has got your back.  

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Stinky Feet

My Utmost For His Highest
Purity is not innocence— it is much more than that. Purity is the result of continued spiritual harmony with God. We have to grow in purity. Our life with God may be right and our inner purity unblemished, yet occasionally our outer life may become spotted and stained. God intentionally does not protect us from this possibility, because this is the way we recognize the necessity of maintaining our spiritual vision through personal purity. If the outer level of our spiritual life with God is impaired to the slightest degree, we must put everything else aside until we make it right. Remember that spiritual vision depends on our character— it is “the pure in heart ” who “see God.” CHAMBERS

When you read the word purity, is that something that you easily identify with?  Do you think of yourself as ‘pure’? Or do thoughts of why you are not pure flood your mind.  And why would God ‘intentionally’ not protect us from sinning?   (As you read this, you are not aware of the time lapse between my words and thoughts .. As I write I am thinking .. Lord what is it that you want to say .. I must suppress my own thoughts, which have no eternal value, and give way to God .. sound like I think too much of myself?  Probably do.  But do you really believe that God would have a dialogue with you?  With me?  The answer is ‘yes’. That is what a personal relationship is about.)

Ok, back to the thought stream for today   … It is not so much that I sin as a Christian, but that I am aware of and troubled by my sin that serves as a reminder to me that I have been bought with a price. My life is not my own.  That does not mean that I am necessarily quick to confess that sin ( I might want to hide in the garden and grab a fig leaf), but confess it I will, eventually.  You see, my heart beats for my God.  When I am not in right relationship with the Him, nothing is right.  I cannot find peace until I am right with Him.  It is akin to marriage.  If my wife and I are not seeing ‘eye to eye’ then nothing in my life seems right … now don’t confuse this with co-dependence. I am not co-dependent – at least I don’t think I am!   ….  There is a harmony between a man and woman .. God designed it … and when that harmony is disrupted .. it is like someone playing a guitar that is out of tune.  You may recognize the lyrics, but the sound is just not right.

So it is with our life in Christ.  To be in tune with God .. to ‘see’ Him, our hearts must be pure … 1 John 1:9 says God will cleanse us if we confess … meaning that we agree with God that we have sinned … (If God is omniscient .. which He is … He already knows .. we are just admitting it)  When Jesus was washing Peter’s feet, Jesus told Peter that he was already clean .. Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean …… ." (John 13:10)

A common pitfall for us is that we begin to think that ‘staying right’ means that we have to live a perfect life and the way we do that is by working really hard to live right.  We forget that our life is in Christ (Galatians 2:20) We live by faith.  That we couldn’t be good enough before we were a Christian and we can’t be good enough – on our own – now.  It is all Jesus …

I pray that you will meet with God today.  But be sure to take you shoes off before you go through the door …. And please wash those stinky feet!

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)


There is a wonderful gathering near Cayes Jacmel every Sunday night.  It is a loosely connected community of believers ... missionaries who are living and serving in Jacmel and the surrounding communities and short term missionaries who may be in town for just the week. Each Sunday is different in terms of the shape and emphasis the gathering takes. But while you are there, you have a sense that you are in a safe place.  Not so much from physical danger, but you are in a place where you are accepted and loved.  People share their hearts.  The Lord is worshiped and praised. It is a Koinonia moment.  Koinonia is from a Greek word (κοινωνία) that means communion by intimate participation.  That pretty much describes Sunday nights.  No pretense .. just Believers seeking fellowship and encouragement.  Bondye Bon.  God is Good.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Oh How I Love Jesus - How Do I Love Jesus?

My Utmost For His Highest

“To maintain this friendship and faithfulness to the Bridegroom [i.e. Jesus], we have to be more careful to have the moral and vital relationship to Him above everything else, including obedience. Sometimes there is nothing to obey and our only task is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, seeing that nothing interferes with it. Only occasionally is it a matter of obedience. At those times when a crisis arises, we have to find out what God’s will is. Yet most of our life is not spent in trying to be consciously obedient, but in maintaining this relationship— being the “friend of the bridegroom.” Christian work can actually be a means of diverting a person’s focus away from Jesus Christ. Instead of being friends “of the bridegroom,” we may become amateur providences of God to someone else, working against Him while we use His weapons.” CHAMBERS

Jesus made the statement … "If you love Me, keep My commandments.’ (John 14:15) He also said "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:9-12)

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He said there are actually two, ‘Love God with everything that I am and [then] love others’ [my contraction of the verses].  (Matthew 22:37-39)

So often we use Jesus like we do our driver’s license.  We get our license and put it in our pocket.  We have to use it from time to time as proof of our identity, but most of the time is stays safely tucked away in our wallet.  Jesus is saying that our relationship with Him must be the starting point for everything else in our life.  If that relationship is not right, no amount of ‘good’ works .. or right attitudes will matter.  That is what Chambers is referring to when he says that Christian work can divert us because we substitute works for relationship.  I can do many things for my wife, but the single most important thing is to love her and spend time with her.  It’s like the guy who, when asked why he doesn’t ever tell his wife he loves her.  His response “I told her that when we got married and it hasn’t changed.”  Telling someone, telling the Lord, you love them is important but showing that love through relationship [not just doing] is even more important. 

Spend time with the Lord this week … Give Him the priority that He deserves.  As a side note, if you will check that driver’s license, you will see there is no expiration date! 

Let your light shine …

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

How Do You Spell Relief

My Utmost For His Highest

When you see a person who is close to grasping the claims of Jesus Christ, you know that your influence has been used in the right direction. And when you begin to see that person in the middle of a difficult and painful struggle, don’t try to prevent it, but pray that his difficulty will grow even ten times stronger, until no power on earth or in hell could hold him away from Jesus Christ. Over and over again, we try to be amateur providences in someone’s life. We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God’s will and saying, “This person should not have to experience this difficulty.” CHAMBERS

Do you think of yourself as a compassionate person?  Do you think you would have difficulty watching someone struggle with a situation in their life, ask you for help and then you stand back and withhold that help like Chambers suggests?  When I read his words, something within me said .. Not Right … I mean doesn’t Jesus chastise the ‘goats’ in Matthew 25 for not ‘doing those things to the least of these’?  Doesn’t John 15:13 say you should lay your life down for others?  Isn’t the parable of the Good Samaritan about crossing the road and helping someone that others have passed by, just because they need help in Luke 10?  Well how much more would we want to help someone we know and care about? 

Someone once said that people don’t accept that Jesus is all they need until Jesus is all they have.  Chambers is talking about someone being in a circumstance, that does not lead to death, that the Lord has allowed in order to bring that person to the end of themselves.  If we jump in wearing our blue tights and red cape, because we don’t want to see them struggle, we may be disrupting the very thing that will help them the most.  And how do we know that?  Spiritual discernment.  And how do we get that?  Ok you know where this is leading don’t you? In Acts chapter 3 Peter and John met a lame man who was begging outside of the temple.  Peter said “Look at me. I don’t have any money but what I have I will give to you, in the name of Jesus Christ, stand up and walk.” (Elgin paraphrase)  And the man did … Peter was the spark the caused the man to place his trust in Jesus. 

So the point here, is don’t look at things just as face value, but look deeper.  See into the heart of the situation.  Don’t be in a hurry to ‘fix it’ but look to see what God is doing in their lives .. pray that His will be done … and be ready to give a reason for the Hope that is within you.  “ … sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…” (1 Peter 3:15)   How do we spell relief?  J-E-S-U-S …
Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Friday, March 23, 2012

What Just Happened?

Craig, at Calvary Chapel, had a problem with their well pump that the community got their water from.  For some reason it stopped working.  Tommy asked me if I could help them.  I stopped by I and looked at the system.  Checked a couple of things and then left to consult with Jack Johnson the Electrical Guru that has blessed PM so many times in the past with his vast experience and servant’s heart.  After Jack and I discussed a troubleshooting procedure using my internet phone app, I went back to Calvary Chapel.  Craig and I went into the pump house and I began drawing a system diagram on the wall to explain what I was about to do.  About that time the pump came on … Craig said “What just happened?”  I said .. “God just fixed your pump!”  He said “Praise God!”   Craig attends my Wednesday night Bible Study.

Then I told him about the time that a young mother who came to the shelter in Ocean Springs, MS to get food and water for her children (Husband was in Iraq) told me that her truck would not start.  I went outside and asked her to raise the hood.  I checked the battery – the obvious things – then asked her to try to start it.. No luck .  I reached down and put my hand on the starter and asked her to try again.  The truck started.  She said “What did you do?” I said, “I think I just healed your truck!”

Bondye Bon … God is good …

Trust and Obey For There is No Other Way

My Utmost For His Highest

 “ If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He doesn’t ask you to make it right; He only asks you to accept the light of truth, and then He will make it right. A child of the light will confess sin instantly and stand completely open before God. But a child of the darkness will say, “Oh, I can explain that.” When the light shines and the Spirit brings conviction of sin, be a child of the light. Confess your wrongdoing, and God will deal with it. If, however, you try to vindicate yourself, you prove yourself to be a child of the darkness.  What is the proof that carnality has gone? Never deceive yourself; when carnality is gone you will know it-it is the most real thing you can imagine. And God will see to it that you have a number of opportunities to prove to yourself the miracle of His grace. The proof is in a very practical test. You will find yourself saying, “If this had happened before, I would have had the spirit of resentment!” And you will never cease to be the most amazed person on earth at what God has done for you on the inside.”  CHAMBERS

 You may have seen the bumper sticker “I’m not perfect only forgiven”.  Do you live your life afraid that someone will find out you aren’t perfect?  HELLLOOO!  We know that we couldn’t be good enough to get to heaven … “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) 

 Yet we find ourselves trying not to sin … trying to be good.  Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying this is something that only you deal with it.  I believe we all face this struggle.  But if we understand that we have to stop trying to do in our own strength what can only be done in the Spirit .. we will see the evidence of the power of the Spirit in our lives.  And we will find ourselves saying … “If this had happened before, I would have ……. “ You can fill in the rest. 

 “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).  Does that sound like another one of those Biblical exhortations that is just out of reach.  I mean, the Bible tells us what to do, but seems to stop short of telling us how to do it. Well actually it does .. and ‘yes’ we are back to the same place I have been taking you to the last several days.  It begins with trust .. and ends with action.  Trusting God and the truth of His Word and then walking by faith in obedience to what it says.  (Did you catch the ‘by faith’ part?) The more we pursue God the closer and more real God will become.  Our lives will be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  (Romans 12;2)  “Don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, to prove that which is the good and perfect will of God.”  Whatcha wait'n for?

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Emotions - Can't Trust 'Em

My Utmost For His Highest

“ Much of the distress we experience as Christians comes not as the result of sin, but because we are ignorant of the laws of our own nature. For instance, the only test we should use to determine whether or not to allow a particular emotion to run its course in our lives is to examine what the final outcome of that emotion will be. Think it through to its logical conclusion, and if the outcome is something that God would condemn, put a stop to it immediately. But if it is an emotion that has been kindled by the Spirit of God and you don’t allow it to have its way in your life, it will cause a reaction on a lower level than God intended. That is the way unrealistic and overly emotional people are made. And the higher the emotion, the deeper the level of corruption, if it is not exercised on its intended level.” CHAMBERS

Have you ever let your emotions determine what you did?  We all have.  The problem is, our emotions don’t care about consequence they just want to be satisfied.  It is not wrong to follow our emotions if the end result will be that God is honored.  That we have not sinned.  I could share many, many stories about my life and the lives of others who have yielded to their emotions and reaped the whirl wind … "They sow the wind, And reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7)

As I watch people I care about making those decisions .. unwilling to listen to anyone but the voice their heart is very heavy.  But then I think about God and how heavy His heart must have been over my choices in the past. 

“For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:16-17)

These verses are talking about emotions rising up within us … Those were the same things that Satan tempted Jesus with after Jesus fasted forty days in the desert (Matthew 4)

"But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires (emotion) and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures." (James 1:14-18)

If you try to manage your emotions you will fail .. it is only by the power of God through His Spirit and His Word that you will be successful … If you are going to yield your life and future to something, yield them to God … Emotions can’t be trusted, but God can be (Bondye Kapab – God is Able)

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Not by Strength Or By Might But By The Spirit

My Utmost For His Highest
The inescapable spiritual need each of us has is the need to sign the death certificate of our sin nature. I must take my emotional opinions and intellectual beliefs and be willing to turn them into a moral verdict against the nature of sin; that is, against any claim I have to my right to myself…..“. . . it is no longer I who live . . . .” My individuality remains, but my primary motivation for living and the nature that rules me are radically changed. I have the same human body, but the old satanic right to myself has been destroyed….“. . . and the life which I now live in the flesh,” not the life which I long to live or even pray that I live, but the life I now live in my mortal flesh-the life which others can see, “I live by faith in the Son of God . . . .” This faith was not Paul’s own faith in Jesus Christ, but the faith the Son God had given to him   CHAMBERS

I think that a mistake so many of make as we walk in this new life is trying to think our way through it.  God has given us a new life in Christ .. 2 Corinthians 5:17 .. but we still trust in the ‘old way’ of doing things.  I know that I am sinning .. I am just not trying hard enough … that is why I continue to do the things I don’t want to do .. Paul addresses that in Romans 7 ..

“14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Does that sound like your life?  It sure sounds like mine.  Notice Paul does not say, he just tried harder and one day .. he was able to not sin .. he just decided he was not going to sin any more.  Well, if it was that easy .. Jesus didn’t have to die for us, we only had to just tried harder.  But you know that doesn’t work, don’t you?  At least it has never worked for me.  We are delivered through Jesus Christ … and we continue to be delivered through Him.  Someone once said that “sin keeps you from the Word and the Word keeps you from sin’.  Jesus said come to me all you that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28 … Let your light shine today

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Listen to the Spirit

My Utmost For His Highest
When you have a right-standing relationship with God, you have a life of freedom, liberty, and delight; you are God’s will. And all of your commonsense decisions are actually His will for you, unless you sense a feeling of restraint brought on by a check in your spirit. You are free to make decisions in the light of a perfect and delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will lovingly produce that sense of restraint. Once he does, you must stop immediately. CHAMBERS

Have you ever seen the cartoon where there are two figures on the shoulders of the cartoon character .. one is an angel and the other a devil?  They are both trying to influence the decision of the main character.  It was not so long ago that the influence of the Word was seen in nearly every aspect of the American way of life .. today, not so much.  That voice in your ear to ‘do the right thing’ is the Spirit of God. 

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. (Isaiah 30:21)

‘For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God’ (Romans 8:13-16)

So when you are about to do something .. the Spirit of God will ‘check’ that act .. He won’t stop you from sinning .. but you will be reminded that what you are about to do is sin.  But on the flip side of that … the Spirit will also confirm that what you are about to do is the right thing.  The Spirit is not sitting in a car, behind a billboard with a radar gun, just waiting to catch you doing something wrong. We have not been given a spirit of fear ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’ (2 Timothy 1:7)

But at the same time, when the Spirit nudges us either way, the Word says ‘Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.’  (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)

Listen for the Spirit to speak and then do what the Spirit says .. your life will be blessed … and you will be amazed at how God will use you for His glory. Oh, you are saying that you have messed up so many times that there is no way God can use you or would even want to use you … Read the Bible again about those men, and women, who messed up and God used in a mighty way … Don’t limit God and His grace and mercy, but at the same time, don’t trivialize Him thinking that you can live and do whatever you want and it doesn’t matter … God is Holy .. and He demands that we be holy … but we cannot be holy on our own .. only through the Cross … And if it took the Cross to bring us to God, don’t think that it doesn’t matter how you live your life in Christ … Well, this could go on and on .. I could probably write a book on the subject .. Oh wait, God already did!  Let your light shine among men today! 

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Monday, March 19, 2012

RTB - Read The Book

My Utmost For His Highest

Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason—a life of knowing Him who calls us to go. Faith is rooted in the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest traps we fall into is the belief that if we have faith, God will surely lead us to success in the world. The final stage in the life of faith is the attainment of character, and we encounter many changes in the process.  CHAMBERS

Conditional faith … when we first received Jesus as Lord, our commitment was unconditional .. He was THE answer.  He made sense out of our life and showed us a greater purpose.  But like the glow on Moses’ face when he would come off of the mountain, having had an encounter with God, (Exodus 30) the glory faded in our lives as we waded around in the mire of this world.  We don’t have to go to the mountain to commune with God … He is in you … “For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM. I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE." (2 Corinthians 6:16) (not my emphasis)

Rick Warren said that God is more concerned with our character than our comfort.  Unfortunately, His interests and ours don’t always coincide. When Martie and I first went to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we helped a local church that had a medical clinic in the Entry was and Red Cross shelter residents in the classrooms.  Nurses slept on the pews in the sanctuary.  I often commented that it was a reflection of what God intended the local church to be.  Down the road was another church.  They too were reaching out to the community, but when it came to their sanctuary, they had just replaced their carpet and painted and did not want it to get messed up.  I was reminded of Matthew 25 when the goats said to Jesus, ‘Lord when did we see you?’  The Lord answered, “When you did not do it to the least of these you did not do it to Me.”

God very often leads into the fire to be tested.  With testing comes strength.  Someone once said that without a test there is no testimony.  What are you being tested in?  How are you doing?  I don’t care how many questions there are on the test .. the answer is the same for all of them … Trust God and not yourself (Prov 3:5,6)  When the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested, He responded to those temptations with the same answer .. It is written.  When people would come to my office and ask questions about how to solve a problem, my first response was, “Have you read the book?”  If not I would just say RTB (read the book) and then come see me if you still need help.  So my word for you today … RTB

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Where are you....... ?

My Utmost For His Highest

I claim God’s promises for my life and look to their fulfillment, and rightly so, but that shows only the human perspective on them. God’s perspective is that through His promises I will come to recognize His claim of ownership on me. For example, do I realize that my “body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” or am I condoning some habit in my body which clearly could not withstand the light of God on it? (1 Corinthians 6:19). God formed His Son in me through sanctification, setting me apart from sin and making me holy in His sight (see Galatians 4:19). But I must begin to transform my natural life into spiritual life by obedience to Him. God instructs us even in the smallest details of life. And when He brings you conviction of sin, do not “confer with flesh and blood,” but cleanse yourself from it at once (Galatians 1:16). Keep yourself cleansed in your daily walk. CHAMBERS

Isn’t it a wonder?  I mean isn’t it amazing at how we can justify our sin as being ‘OK’ or maybe think that what we do is hidden from God?  You know that thinking started in the Garden … “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." (Genesis 3:8-12)

We know that as Christians the Spirit of God is ‘in’ us.  Ephesians 1:13, and other verses, tells us that.  So what leads us to believe that we can hide our sin from God?  Or worse yet, what led us to believe that it doesn’t really matter .. the dangerous thinking that I can carry sin around with me and it really won’t impact my relationships .. with God or with others.  Sounds crazy when you read it .. but reasonable when you think it because you have sinned and want to hide.  You know what the really crazy thing is?  Thinking that God will reject you if you come to Him and confess what you have done.  1 John 1:9 says God is faithful to forgive us.  If He was UN-faithful then when we come to Him, He might say, “I don’t think so, not today .. maybe next time!”  But He is NOT unfaithful. 

I believe that un-confessed sin is epidemic in the Church.  People walking around trying to look and act “Christian” when their hearts are really far from God.  For many, going to church is like going to the golf club.  It is something they do, it does not define their life, who they are.  You know even as I am typing these words I am wondering what is it in my life that I am trying to hide from God?  It’s my “Adamic” nature at work.  That is not to be construed as an excuse but a reason.  It is something that I must overcome by yielding my will to God.  (Romans 12:1,2)  How about you?

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Nurturing Your Spiritual Nature

My Utmost For His Highest

Any goal we have that diverts us even to the slightest degree from the central goal of being “approved to God” (2 Timothy 2:15) may result in our rejection from further service for Him. When you discern where the goal leads, you will understand why it is so necessary to keep “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). Paul spoke of the importance of controlling his own body so that it would not take him in the wrong direction. He said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest . . . I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27). I must learn to relate everything to the primary goal, maintaining it without interruption. My worth to God publicly is measured by what I really am in my private life. Is my primary goal in life to please Him and to be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how lofty it may sound? CHAMBERS

When you read something like 1 Corinthians 9, you have to think that Paul wrote that because self-discipline was something that he had to do. So what does self-discipline look like? Well, it starts with “keeping my eyes on Jesus” … there is another one of those trite Christian sayings.  We can make things sound so simple can’t we.  Oh you are really struggling?  Just keep your eyes on Jesus … there is a song .. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus .. look full on His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” Sounds wonderful, but how do you do that?  I mean aren’t you trying to do that? Or maybe you aren’t trying but it would be nice. 

There are several aspects of self-discipline worth noting.  I will use the analogy of lifting weights.  I used to do that a lot when I was in the Army.  First I had to decide I was going to do it.  We can all fill our day up with something .. other than exercising … next I had to do it, I had to actually go to the gym … thinking about it was not going to have the same effect as experiencing the resistance of the weights against my muscles.  Lastly, and what was critical for me was, I exercised with someone else.  We were able to encourage one another .. to be consistent .. to push ourselves …  we were accountable to each other.  We had the same goal and were sincerely interested in the well-being of the other person.   

Another song if you will indulge me  … ‘Come Thou Fount” ….. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart now take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”    You know it’s possible to look perfectly fine on the outside and be hurting on the inside?  My guess is that many if not most Christians are like that.  I have often said that the time when the most lies are told is Sunday morning at church when everyone stands and greets those around them. “Good morning.  How are you?” (smile) “I am fine thank you” (lie) They may have just had an argument with their spouse, problems with their kids, lost their job, struggles with secret sins, financial problems .. the list goes on and on and on …. We won’t be transparent with each other because we don’t trust each other.  We don’t know each other.  At church, we are mostly like passing cars on the highway.  We see the other car approaching, we see there are people in the car, we might acknowledge them with ta nod of the head, it passes and we forget about it. 

Paul had to discipline himself .. we all must do the same … Decide it’s important, set time aside daily to nurture your Spiritual nature, read the Word, and I pray that the Lord will bring someone into your life that you can “go to the gym with.” Keep your light shining bright!

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Power of the Flesh

My Utmost For His Highest
One carnal judgment of another person only serves the purposes of hell in you. Bring it immediately into the light and confess, “Oh, Lord, I have been guilty there.” If you don’t, your heart will become hardened through and through. One of the penalties of sin is our acceptance of it. It is not only God who punishes for sin, but sin establishes itself in the sinner and takes its toll. No struggling or praying will enable you to stop doing certain things, and the penalty of sin is that you gradually get used to it, until you finally come to the place where you no longer even realize that it is sin. No power, except the power that comes from being filled with the Holy Spirit, can change or prevent the inherent consequences of sin.

“If we walk in the light as He is in the light. . .” (1 John 1:7). For many of us, walking in the light means walking according to the standard we have set up for another person. The deadliest attitude of the Pharisees that we exhibit today is not hypocrisy but that which comes from unconsciously living a lie. CHAMBERS

One of the mistakes that Christians make is under-estimating the power of the Flesh .. their old nature.  Accepting Christ, being saved .. becoming a child of the King is not where the stops … We will spend our lives facing life choices … walking after the Spirit or the Flesh.  Living by Faith or by Sight.  When we yield to temptation to sin, that sin establishes itself in us, it takes up residence in us.  As Chambers suggests, over time, you get used to it and eventually you don’t even see it as sin.  Before I was a believer, profanity was a big part of my life.  After I became a Christian, the words I chose to use changed … profane words are a reflection of the heart But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man." (Matthew 15:18-20) I have heard many Christians use profanity as if was nothing more than a word and not a reflection.  But the Word says …

“Let no corrupt (unwholesome in some translations) word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”  (Ephesians 4:29-32)

We are to be about imparting grace to the people around us.  As Chambers suggests, over time, you get used to it.  Some years back my daughter had a friend come over to the house.  They were watching a video (VCR Tape) and we were pretty careful about what we allowed them to watch.  I happened to be in the room when the girl gasped and physically jerked backward.  I ran the tape back to see what it was … one of the characters had used the Lord’s name in vain.  I didn’t even hear it … I was in the military where I heard that language every day, and I had become de-sensitized to it … to the point that I ignored it … but I put that little girl in a situation that she should not have been in, at least never in my house.  I still remember that, but you know what … not allowing the culture to influence me and others through me is still a challenge … We underestimate the power of the Flesh. 

The Word of God is like a piercing light that invades the darkness and illuminates our sin so that we can confess it and be restored.  I don’t presume to fully understand the depth of this topic, but I do know what the Word says about it and what the Word says about how I am to live my life.  I do understand that God has given His Word to us to help us to understand and to live the life He has called us in to.  And I that once my sin has been exposed, if I confess my sin, He is faithful and just to forgive my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.  (1 John1:9) When Jesus was washing Peter’s feet, Peter said He should wash his whole body. But Jesus said that Peter was ‘clean’ and only had need of having his feet washed because he had been tramping around in the world.  Don’t deceive yourself and think you don’t need your feet washed.  And then you can let your light shine before all men …

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why Be Downcast Put Your Hope In God

My Utmost For His Highest

At the beginning of our life with Jesus Christ, we were sure we knew all there was to know about following Him. It was a delight to forsake everything else and to throw ourselves before Him in a fearless statement of love. But now we are not quite so sure. Jesus is far ahead of us and is beginning to seem different and unfamiliar— “Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed” (Mark 10:32). CHAMBERS

The time we first accepted Jesus as Lord … when our eyes were opened to Spiritual truth, is a time that we look back to with amazement.  We were living our life just like everyone else we knew.  Figuring things out as best we could.  Vaguely aware of the religious people, but not really understanding what the big deal was.  Then one day, it was if we came out of a sleep … we saw life differently.  We had a new understanding.  We knew what the big deal was … it was Jesus.  Not the man or the baby, but the Savior. 

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. …………Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. ………….. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. ……….. But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:9-16)

When we become a Christian God puts His Spirit in us to “seal the deal”.  The Spirit is what give us the ability to understand spiritual things.  We cannot understand the meaning of the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit …. You can show an unbeliever the Bible, read it to them, but apart from the Spirit of God revealing the truth to them, they will just not “get it”. 

Oswald Chambers is saying that after we become a Christian .. after we experience the liberty in Christ, there is the reality that we are still in the world.  We are still faced with financial problems, family problems, the lust of our eyes, the lust of our flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-16).  It was so easy, it seemed, to walk by Jesus’ side, but now, we seem to have fallen behind .. He is walking too fast, we can’t keep up.  What has happened is that we have stopped trusting in Him and started trusting in ourselves.  When that happened .. when we decided we could live our new life on our own .. we didn’t need to spend time with Jesus in the Word, we didn’t need to fellowship with other Christians, we didn’t need to pray … We could no longer see Jesus even walking ahead of us … Did He turn to the right or left and we didn’t see, is he just over the next hill?  Where did He go?  The truth is .. He is still on the same path.  It’s us who have strayed .. made the left turn … slowed our pace.

When that happens, life can seem a lot like it was before the day that we said ‘Yes” to Him.  But you will never be the same … You are still sealed with the Holy Spirit … You are like the prodigal son, (Luke 15) who went away .. but there came a day when something within him said .. “You need to return home”  He never stopped being a son .. His dad never stopped looking for the time that the son would appear on the horizon to return home and all that being at home meant. 

Do you need to return home to the Father?  Do you need to stop trusting in yourself and going your own way?  Or maybe you know someone who needs to be encouraged to do that. 

Psalm 42:1-5

 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. 5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)