Monday, April 30, 2012

Responding tp the Spirit

My Utmost For His Highest

“[…] the characteristic of love is spontaneity. We don’t deliberately set the statements of Jesus before us as our standard, but when His Spirit is having His way with us, we live according to His standard without even realizing it. And when we look back, we are amazed at how unconcerned we have been over our emotions, which is the very evidence that real spontaneous love was there. The nature of everything involved in the life of God in us is only discerned when we have been through it and it is in our past.” CHAMBERS

‘ […] He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.’ (John 7:38-39)

Our life as a  Christian should be characterized by spontaneous demonstrations of AGAPE toward others – love that demonstrates God’s grace and mercy.  That is a natural result of walking by faith and  having on our minds set on the Spirit.   For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6)

I was out on an errand the other morning … and decided to stop at a donut shop to buy us a donut for breakfast.  (Ok, maybe more than one donut!) When I paid the bill, the cashier asked me if I wanted to round up to the next dollar to  donate to a drive to send city children to summer camp.  So I said sure, thinking what is a dollar.  When I opened my wallet, I felt the distinct impression that I was to give her $20.00 not $1.00.  Where did that come from?  She would have been happy if I had just given her a dollar.  But I felt compelled to give more.  Whenever I sense the Spirit leading … most of the time … I do what He prompts me to do.  So I gave her the $20.00 and she said, ‘This is $20.00!’ as if I had made a mistake.  I asked her ‘Is that OK?’  and then left the store. 

So what is my point?  Not that I am some super saint … My point is you never know when the Spirit will prompt you, but you must always be ready when He does.   The Spirit does not prompt you to pray about it .. talk about it … do an objective analysis of the proper course of action … He prompts you to obey … to act.  The way that seems right to us, may not be the way that God wants us to go or the thing that God wants us to do.

 Now here it that catch … If your heart is not right, you will not hear the Spirit.  Make certain that everyday .. you start out with a ‘right heart’ on the ‘right foot’  

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Knowing Is Not Enough

My Utmost For His Highest

“The moment you allow yourself to think, “What about this?” you show that you have not surrendered and that you do not really trust God. But once you do surrender, you will no longer think about what God is going to do. Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions. If you totally abandon yourself to God, He immediately says to you, “I will give your life to you as a prize . . . .” The reason people are tired of life is that God has not given them anything— they have not been given their life “as a prize.” The way to get out of that condition is to abandon yourself to God. And once you do get to the point of total surrender to Him, you will be the most surprised and delighted person on earth.” CHAMBERS

What is it that you would most like to have in your life?   Lack of want .. lack of fear … health …. to be loved and accepted … the absence of relational conflict …. We spend a lot of time worrying about those things and trying to make them a reality. 

Jesus said  If you try to save your life you will lose it, but if you  lose your life you will save it …. "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

We are busy trying to find the ‘ideal’ life … but there is only one place it can be found … In Christ.  Totally surrendered to God … trusting Him in everything … and when we stop trying to save our life .. God gives us our life ‘as a prize’.  Can you see the spiritual reality of that?  Like Elisha’s servant And Elisha prayed, and said, "LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.’ (2 Kings 6:17)

Are your eyes open to the reality of the promises of God … and the understanding that what is happening in the world around you …. Is not what defines you?  The absence or presence of acceptance, love, conflict, material possession … does not determine the quality of your life … because you have found your life in Christ …. Who came to give you life, life more abundantly.

Jesus said …. "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33)

What is my point in all of this?  I am pretty sure that everything I have shared with you … you already know … the problem is … you don’t trust God enough to do it.  It’s a big step, putting your full weight on God … Martie is recovering from hip replacement surgery.  She is doing extremely well … amazingly well.  But one of her biggest challenges is trusting that the new hip will support her. She is using other muscles to help her walk … The more she trusts the hip, the better she walks .. the more she walks, the stronger she becomes …

God is trust worthy … He wants to give you your life as a prize.  You know that verse I am closing this with Proverbs 3:5,6.  But it’s not enough to know it … you have to live it.

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Friday, April 27, 2012

What's In It For Me?

My Utmost For His Highest

“If you have only come as far as asking God for things, you have never come to the point of understanding the least bit of what surrender really means. You have become a Christian based on your own terms. You protest, saying, “I asked God for the Holy Spirit, but He didn’t give me the rest and the peace I expected.” And instantly God puts His finger on the reason-you are not seeking the Lord at all; you are seeking something for yourself. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you . . .” (Matthew 7:7). Ask God for what you want and do not be concerned about asking for the wrong thing, because as you draw ever closer to Him, you will cease asking for things altogether.” CHAMBERS

When you think about your relationship with God, do you think of that relationship in terms of being a means of satisfying whatever it is you crave?  Or let me ask this way … if you know someone that you think of as a friend but one day, you discover that the only reason they hang out with you is because of what you can give them … how do you feel?  Disappointed … hurt … Ok back to the original question … why do we want to hang out with God?  Because of who He is or because of what He has?  We know what the “politically correct” answer is … We can fool others but not God .. He sees our hearts …

Is the only time we care to think about God during the week is when we want something or don’t get something?  … This faith of ours takes work .. discipline … that is why they call us disciples … but are we … During Jesus ministry there were many that followed along .. so long as they got something out of it … but when it came to giving something themselves …sacrificing what they loved … they fell away.  

If you know in your heart what God wants you to do, and you say … ‘but I can’t’ … I believe  God is thinking .. “Now they are starting to get it!”  We have been called into a spiritual reality that requires the whole armor of God to live it.  I know I quote these verses a lot – Love God and Love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39)… but Jesus said  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:40)

Love takes time and deliberate action.  How can we say we love God and then not spend time with Him?  BTW, That is what they call a rhetorical question …

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Give It To Jesus

My Utmost For His Highest

“The great lesson to be learned from Abraham’s faith in God is that he was prepared to do anything for God. He was there to obey God, no matter what contrary belief of his might be violated by his obedience. […] If you will remain true to God, God will lead you directly through every barrier and right into the inner chamber of the knowledge of Himself. But you must always be willing to come to the point of giving up your own convictions and traditional beliefs. […]  Abraham […] simply remained true to God, and God purified his faith.” CHAMBERS

How about you?  Are you prepared to do anything for God?  Following Jesus is a tension between two wills .. ours and His … Do you want to follow Jesus?  Sell everything and follow Him, leave your nets (your livelihood) and follow Him, leave your family and follow Him … But let’s put this another way … Trust Him to provide for you and follow Him, trust Him to take care of your family and follow Him … When Jesus prayed to the Father .. ‘not My will but Your will be done’ He was showing us what it meant to follow .. what it meant to lay yourself down as a sacrifice to the Father.  "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”  (Luke 14:26-27)

What is it that you hang onto  … the thing that brings you comfort .. makes you feel like you can deal with life so long has you have this possession or relationship … what is it that owns your heart?  Jesus is saying, “If you want to follow Me … put that thing on the altar”  “Love Me with all your heart … with your very essence…. trust Me to take care of you …. trust Me to take care of your family ….”  Jesus saw things from an eternal – spiritual perspective .. which includes but goes far beyond the issues of our physical life.  That's how He wants us to see life and live life as well

Give it to Jesus …

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oh What A Feeling Or Not

My Utmost For His Highest

“Be ready in season and out of season —2 Timothy 4:2     Many of us suffer from the unbalanced tendency to “be ready” only “out of season.” The season does not refer to time; it refers to us. This verse says, “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season.” In other words, we should “be ready” whether we feel like it or not. If we do only what we feel inclined to do, some of us would never do anything. There are some people who are totally unemployable in the spiritual realm. They are spiritually feeble and weak, and they refuse to do anything unless they are supernaturally inspired. The proof that our relationship is right with God is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not.” CHAMBERS

The underlying question here is “Is my spiritual experience based upon a feeling?”  Do you feel like you are an American or do you know that you are an American.  When they play the Star Spangled Banner, you may get a tear in your eye on occasion.  Then you feel like you are an American.  But there are certain facts … you were born here, you grew up here, maybe you have a passport that says you are one … It’s the same with our faith .. I am saved because God said so … Romans 10:8-9 says that If I confess and believe I will be saved.  It is a supernatural encounter with God .. and eternal transaction .. where I receive eternal life through the Son … sealed by the Holy Spirit … through the power of the Word … Oh, there may have been some emotion at the point where I yielded my life to Jesus … but it’s not the emotion that saved me’s not that emotion that demonstrates the veracity of my salvation … it is a changed life … transformed .. no longer conformed …

Chambers is saying that the proof our relationship is demonstrated by how we live our lives.   We may not feel like reading the Bible or feel like going to church, or feel like praying …. The proof is that we are obedient to do these things because we are saved and because we are His.  

"If you love Me, keep My commandments […] And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." […] "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me. (John 14:15-24)

I don’t have to feel like I am saved to be saved .. I know that I am saved … and every now again there is a tear in my eye as I see God at work in and around me. 

Be Ready!

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Facing Rejection

Our Daily Bread

“Our physical and spiritual children watch the path we’re taking. As God’s men and women, let’s make certain we cut a righteous, wise, and clear trail. Then if ongoing generations choose to follow, the trail can become a highway—an ongoing legacy to God’s glory.” —Dave Egner
Have you thought about the fact that your life is a testimony to your children and to those you meet?  There are many people, even those who go to church who have a hard time preventing the culture they live in everyday from affecting their view of what is right and what is wrong.  In fact, for many there are no longer clear lines between what God says and what the culture says.  Oh, I don’t mean about things like murder … although most people would tell you that is wrong … our minds are filled with murder every day through television … think about some of the most popular television shows … think about how graphic they are … children see things that children should never see .. a generation has been raised thinking that sex and violence are entertainment … something to take you mind off of your worries …

In order to entertain this culture of ours … the intensity is constantly being increased so what would have shocked us five years ago, is now no big deal.  We teach our children cultural values this way .. why are we surprised when they side for the culture when it is challenged by the Word of God. 

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

People think we who stand on the truth of the Word are intolerant of others.  They think we just don’t understand … that we don’t care about people when , in fact, it is they who do not understand and it is they who don’t care.  Their eyes have been blinded from the truth.  Only God can remove the scales from their eyes so they can see.  So they can see God’s purposes .. the hopelessness of our culture … that it only can offer death not life …

To take a stand for God may mean rejection by people that you care a great deal about … That is a choice and temptation that you must face … the choice between God and the world is never more stark than when it is your son or daughter, brother or sister, mother or father …. The temptation to yield to the culture so someone you care about wont’s reject you because of what you believe. 

“For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.”  (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8)

I have been there and I have not always made the right choice … Remember … the battle you see raging is spiritual … Don’t be surprised by it .. but be reminded that once you were where they are .. and it took an encounter with God to change your heart … as I type these words my heart is heavy for people I love.  I can see why Jesus wept over Jerusalem .. Why Abraham pleaded for God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah. 

I don’t mean for this to depress you with this .. but to stir you … to make you aware of what is going on around us … to be salt and light in your world … that starts with your family. 

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Do You Love Me?

My Utmost For His Highest

We have no right to decide where we should be placed, or to have preconceived ideas as to what God is preparing us to do. God engineers everything; and wherever He places us, our one supreme goal should be to pour out our lives in wholehearted devotion to Him in that particular work. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might . . .” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).” CHAMBERS

Our Christian life begins and ends with God.  Our new life is powered by the Holy Spirit. God reached down to save us through His Son.  The quality of our new life is directly related to the strength of our relationship with God.  Our wholehearted devotion to Him.  What does devotion look like?  If I tell you I am devoted to you and then I never talk to you.  Is that devotion?  If you ask me to do something and I refuse and do something else.  Is that devotion?  If you want to spend time with me but I never seem to have time.  Is that devotion?

So what does it mean when I never talk to you, don’t do what you ask me to do, and don’t spend time with you? Right, it means that I am not devoted.  But to live the life God has called us to, we must be devoted … what does that look like? 

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)

Do you think that level of devotion is over the top? Extreme? Excessive?  Maybe fanatical … actually it’s biblical.  Take some time today to examine your devotion to the One you ‘call’ Lord.  He is waiting for you … He wants to walk with you, and talk with you and tell you, you are His own .. and the joy you share as you tarry there … well … you know the rest of the song….

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Present Value Of Your Faith

My Utmost For His Highest

The mystery of God is not in what is going to be-it is now, though we look for it to be revealed in the future in some overwhelming, momentous event. We have no reluctance to obey Jesus, but it is highly probable that we are hurting Him by what we ask-”Lord, show us the Father . . .” (John 14:8). His response immediately comes back to us as He says, “Can’t you see Him? He is always right here or He is nowhere to be found.” We look for God to exhibit Himself to His children, but God only exhibits Himself in His children. And while others see the evidence, the child of God does not. We want to be fully aware of what God is doing in us, but we cannot have complete awareness and expect to remain reasonable or balanced in our expectations of Him.’ CHAMBERS

When we share Christ with others, often it starts out “if you died today ….”  Our focus is on eternity .. forgiveness of sin … and they are magnificent in and of themselves.  But, our faith also has a present value, even beyond the hope of Glory.  Our relationship with the Father through the Son begins with our profession of faith (Romans 10:8,9) and does not ever end.  Think about that … our relationship begins now, not later … the value of being a child of the King is yours, today … You have the very Spirit of God in you … Think about that for a moment.  There is something eternal at work in you.  You have super-natural abilities available to you … not like superman … faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound … not those abilities … but you do have the ability to have hope, joy and peace in the midst of troubles of this life

"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified." (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Are you experiencing that life?  If you are a Believer … all that God has to offer through Jesus is yours, today.  But it doesn’t just happen, no matter how you choose to live out your life .... the extent to which you enjoy this new life and its benefits is only limited by the depth of your relationship with the Lord.  You won’t enjoy the present value of your faith if you ignore the One who has given you that new life …. Is your new life something that you merely acknowledge and then live like the rest of the world … like those who are not Believers?  Or is it a priority.  Something that you nurture and tend to so that the fruit of your relationship with the Lord is evident to all around you to the glory of God?  Let me encourage you to ….

Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Finding Acceptance

Our Daily Bread

“[…] God sees our pride, anger, and lack of love for others, but He also knows who we are in Christ. He calls us justified and reconciled (Rom. 5:9-10); forgiven, holy, and beloved (Col. 2:13; 3:12); chosen and faithful (Rev. 17:14). Remember how God sees you and seek to let that define who you are.” Marvin Williams

Have you ever had someone tell you that you fell short of what it was to be a ‘good person’?  That somehow you were flawed and therfore lacked value? Did you believe them?  Galatians 5:20 tells us what kinds of things are manifested from the flesh … Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21) ….  And if there is any praise that comes from the world it is short lived.  One slip up and you are quickly cast upon the heap of the unwanted and unloved .. strangely by those who are just as imperfect as you are. 

But God sees the heart .. He loves us knowing we were imperfect … and still, He sent His Son to die for us … so that we might live …  More than that He sent His Spirit to dwell in our hearts to give us a new life.  That is how our life is defined … We are sons and daughters of God … children of the King …. So my encouragement to you is that you NOT let the world define you or discourage you.  That doesn’t mean that God ignores sin in your life … what it means is that you are forgiven … and accepted in the Beloved …  “I’m forgiven, because you were foresaken, I’m accepted, You were condemned.  I’m alive and well, you spirit is within me, because You died and rose again.  Amazing love how can it be … Amazing Love, I know it’s true and it’s my joy to honor you .. in all I do .. I honor you”    

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth--in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:3-12)

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Unfailing Love

Our Daily Bread 19 April

“ The Old Testament book of Hosea is the story of God’s faithful love for His unfaithful people. In what seems strange to us, the Lord commanded Hosea to marry a woman who would break her marriage vows and bring grief to him (Hosea 1:2-3). After she deserted Hosea for other men, the Lord told him to take her back—a picture of “the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods” (3:1). Even when we have “plowed wickedness” and “reaped iniquity” (10:13), God does not stop loving us. Whatever our situation today, we can turn to the Lord and find forgiveness to make a new start. His love never fails!”
Doesn’t that seem odd that God would ask Hosea to suffer through the heartache of that relationship for God to make His point?  When we choose to submit to our old nature and abandon God, we are , metaphorically, Hosea’s wife.  God has given us a new life and yet we choose to pursue another one.  We forsake our ‘Love’ for another.  If you are married, would you say that you love your husband or wife with all of your heart?  Or is there someone else that has edged in … someone else that you think about … someone else that you would like to be with?  Are you thinking .. ‘Of course not!’ ? Good. 
But almost like a moth to a flame, we are drawn away from God. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.’ (James 1:13-15)

Yet, like Hosea, God shows grace and mercy toward us.  Sin is without consequence, but His forgiveness is sure.  Have you been drawn away in some aspect of your life?  God is waiting with open arms … Does someone you know need to hear about God’s unfailing love?  Why don’t you tell them. 

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.’  (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

That is what we call being a witness …  That what fulfilling the second greatest commandment .. love others … is all about …

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Are You Merely Living

My Utmost For His Highest

‘Readiness for God means that we are prepared to do the smallest thing or the largest thing – it makes no difference. It means that we have no choice in what we want to do, but whatever God’s plans may be, we are there and ready.’ CHAMBERS

There is a pattern that God reveals in the Bible, that He calls, prepares and sends.  Each experience builds upon the previous.  I have met thousands of Christians over the past 7 years in particular, who felt God tugging at their heart to go and serve.  On one end of that spectrum are the people who don’t think they can do anything but are willing to do whatever they are asked to do.  At the other end are those who are confident in their ‘natural’ abilities – say carpentry … and want to go build something … they came to ‘work’ and don’t want to waste time talking.  They believe they have a choice in how they serve God.  It is to those that I focus on and try to help them understand the spiritual context of what we are doing.  Proverbs 16:9 says Men make plans in their hearts, but God orders their steps.” I have asked an Atlanta labor lawyer to do data entry and a medical doctor to break down cardboard boxes.  Humbling work, but it needed to be done and they did it without hesitation.  When we say “Here am I”, it means .. God use me for your purpose, whatever that might be. 

I think that when most people think about serving God they think of pastors and missionaries.  But serving God is broader and deeper than that.  God may have you in a place where you are living your life with friends, family and acquaintances … showing them Jesus in the way you live out your life right where you are.  Or He may call you to go and serve … whatever He asks .. we are His ambassadors and should be representing Him in whatever we do both in words and deeds. So how about you?  Are you living with a view toward God by faith in Him?  Or are you merely living … trying to cut your own path, write your own version of the Bible .. define who you are what and what you are about?  Micah 6:8He has told, o man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. But to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It Doesn't Matter -- Does It?

My Utmost For His Highest – April 15

2 Chronicles 15:17  Asa was not completely obedient in the outward, visible areas of his life. He was obedient in what he considered the most important areas, but he was not entirely right. Beware of ever thinking, “Oh, that thing in my life doesn’t matter much.” The fact that it doesn’t matter much to you may mean that it matters a great deal to God. Nothing should be considered a trivial matter by a child of God. How much longer are we going to prevent God from teaching us even one thing? But He keeps trying to teach us and He never loses patience. You say, “I know I am right with God”— yet the “high places” still remain in your life. There is still an area of disobedience. Do you protest that your heart is right with God, and yet there is something in your life He causes you to doubt? Whenever God causes a doubt about something, stop it immediately, no matter what it may be. Nothing in our lives is a mere insignificant detail to God.’  CHAMBERS

Many people, especially those who are not Believers, see our faith as a bunch of rules. Think about rules … they are boundaries .. typically intended for good purpose .. not for evil … but when it comes to obeying the Bible … the perception is that they are restricting .. it all started in the Garden … Are there things in your life that you have become comfortabel with  or have decided that that is just ‘your’ nature and God either issn’t big enough to do something about it, or it just doesn’t matter – even though in your heart you know it’s not right?  When you boil it down it is a faith issue … God wants all of our heart not part of it.  What ever it is that you are holding on to?  Trust God in that matter.  Let it go from your tight grip and let God restore your joy.

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Counting It All Loss

Our Daily Bread

“We naturally want to draw attention to ourselves, to show off our accomplishments and abilities. Sometimes we think that life is all about us. But living like that is self-delusion at its worst. In reality, our sinfulness has put us “in the corner,” from God’s point of view. Thankfully, Paul’s testimony gives us the right perspective. In spite of his impressive credentials, he gladly surrendered to the supremacy of Jesus: “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (Phil. 3:7). Paul admitted that in order to “gain Christ” (v.8), he had to lay all of his trophies down. So, give Jesus Christ the braggin’ rights of your life. Or, as Paul put it, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31)—not in yourself!” —Joe Stowell
One of the things that people seem to marvel at, at least in the United States, is people giving up things to follow God’s call.   While we served in Mississippi and now as we serve in Haiti, so many people sit in ‘wonderment’ when they learn what we, and others, have left behind to follow Jesus and His command to ‘go’.  Actually I have given a good bit of thought to it, because it is so prevailing.  To the point, that I rarely offer the information to people, to avoid the mis-communication that I somehow take pride in what I have given up.  I was at a church this past Sunday and had the opportunity to share about the needs in Haiti.  When I was introduced, one of the sound-bites about our life was about what we had given up.  What I told the people and what I tell you is this “Don’t marvel at what we laid down or cast off, so that we could follow Jesus, but marvel at the God who changed our hearts so that we count those things, which we once cherished and strived to obtain, as ‘rubbish’ …

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;’ (Philippians 3:7-9)

Remember whose you are and that this world is not your home.  That accumulation of wood, hay, and stubble may bring temporary satisfaction, but may keep you from living life to the full …. Ask God to change your heart as you draw close to Him.  One of our life verses is Psalm 37:4 ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.’  I believe that means that as you seek the Lord he will change your heart so you will care what He cares about … any guesses what that might be?  Read Matthew 22:37-39 for a hint. 

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

All I Am Saying Is Give Peace A Chance

My Utmost For His Highest

‘If we did not know some Christians well, we might think from just observing them that they have no burdens at all to bear. But we must lift the veil from our eyes. The fact that the peace, light, and joy of God is in them is proof that a burden is there as well. The burden that God places on us squeezes the grapes in our lives and produces the wine, but most of us see only the wine and not the burden. No power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of God living within the human spirit; it creates an inner invincibility.’ CHAMBERS

Have you noticed that some Christians seem to glide through life? As if they did not have to deal with the same intensity of problems that you do.  As if they have some special blessing from God and He has given them a ‘free pass’ from any and all hardship. Well that is not the case. The reality is that we live in a fallen world.  That we are subject to heartache, disappointment, disease … whatever … everyone will encounter something in this live that weighs heavy on them.  The difference is that there is a Redeemer, Jesus God’s own Son … sorry those songs keep slipping out …. He said  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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

It is a supernatural rest … meaning that we are at rest even when the world seems to be crumbling around us.  Because we have God’s Spirit in us … we can experience the fruit of that Spirit … peace … (Galatians 5:22-23)  which is a condition that we find ourselves in .. in spite of our circumstances … in Philippians 4:6,7 the promise is that the ‘peace which passes all [human] understanding will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  

A couple thoughts on this. 1) that is a promise to everyone who is a Christian not just for the ‘super-Christians’. 2) That presupposes that we are abiding in Christ .. Jesus does not say .. ‘Oh it’s you.  Haven’t seen you for a while.  Need some peace? Here take two of these ‘peace pills’ and call me in the morning.’   Jesus said that we must abide in the Vine .. then we will bear fruit.  Our life is not supposed to be a walk by the orchard, stopping now and again to pick some fruit when we need some.  My heart is that you would make your life in Christ a priority, not an option.  That you would abide in Him and enjoy the love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control that can only be found in and through that relationship.

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Friday, April 13, 2012

You've Got a Friend

My Utmost For His Highest

‘Many servants set out to serve God with great courage and with the right motives. But with no intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ, they are soon defeated. They do not know what to do with their burden, and it produces weariness in their lives. Others will see this and say, “What a sad end to something that had such a great beginning!” CHAMBERS

Do you have a special friend that you can anything to?  When you are troubled … sad … confused by life … disappointment sets in because of what someone did or didn’t do .. do you go to that person and share your heart .. the pain you feel … your fears about what lies ahead?  Not everyone does … many have to just ‘deal with it’.  In the Bible Study Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby talks about 7 realities.  One of them is that ‘God pursues a continuing relationship with you that is real and personal’.  That is what Chambers is talking about.  Our faith in Jesus has opened the possibility of have a close, personal relationship with Him.  The same relationship that you might have with your closets friend and confidant … you can have much more with Jesus.  Your friend can lend an ear and give you sympathetic encouragement.  The Lord on the other hand is your creator and your savior. He not only knows your sorrow, but can help you through it in a way a friend never could.  ‘What a friend we have in Jesus.  All our sins and griefs to bear.  What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer.’ 

The Word tells us to share one another’s burdens Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) And what is the law of Christ? Matthew 22:37-39 says love God and love you neighbor.  It is clearly not wrong to share your struggle with others, but did you notice the sequence?  God first?  Our tendency is to turn to others before we turn to God. As if they are real and He is not.  Our problem is that we do not think of the Lord as being with us, but distant.  We feel we have to call Him and hope that He will answer.  Yet the Word also says … Trust in the Lord and not your own understanding – Prov 3:5,6 …. Cast all of your cares on Him – 1 Peter 5:7 …. Don’t be anxious about anything but pray and you will experience a peace that passes all understanding – Philippians 4:6-7

Reading the Word and praying are critical to you spiritual, physical and emotional well-being.  This is something we all know to do .. we just don’t do it as we should.  Take time to talk to the Lord and listen to what He says through His Word . 

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dont' Look Back

My Utmost For His Highest

“Even the weakest saint can experience the power of the deity of the Son of God, when he is willing to “let go.” But any effort to “hang on” to the least bit of our own power will only diminish the life of Jesus in us. We have to keep letting go, and slowly, but surely, the great full life of God will invade us, penetrating every part. Then Jesus will have complete and effective dominion in us, and people will take notice that we have been with Him.” CHAMBERS

Becoming a Christian is a one-time experience.  But living the life that God has made the way for us to live is a process and requires a decision every day to pursue God and not yield to our old nature.  Our struggle with our old nature is a problem of not letting go.  Do you remember Lot’s wife?  (Genesis 19) You know the story, God sent angels to tell Lot that he had to leave the city of Sodom because God was going to destroy it.  Lot’s children had become part of the culture of that city .. had married … So Lot and his wife left, but not their whole family.  God told them that they must not look back after they left … well you know what Lot’s wife did … That may seem extreme, but consider what Jesus did for us on the cross.  Consider the life and promise that God has given us.  And He says, don’t look back.  Galatians 2:20 ‘I am crucified with Christ, therefore I no longer live […] and the life I live I live by faith [..]’  We have left the ‘city’ and are to no longer desire to live there again.  We have to let go … and follow God.  You may struggle with that .. I think many if not most Christians do.  Chambers said .. “We have to keep letting go .. “ Every day … it is a deliberate decision not something that just happens … living the Christian life is a discipline.  Have you ever exercised at a gym.  Things go well until you stop exercising .. then you slowly drift back to where you started or worse.  2 Timothy 3:16,17 says All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

How long would a person survive if they ate only one meal a week?  How long can a Christian ‘survive’  reading the Bible or merely hearing the Word one time a week?  God has not called us to a life that is impossible to live. He has made every provision for us to live it.  The thing is, we can’t do things our way .. we must do things His way?  And what way is that?  RTB --- Read The Book and you’ll find out …

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Our Struggle is Spiritual

My Utmost For His Highest

“The resurrection of Jesus has given Him the authority to give the life of God to me, and the experiences of my life must now be built on the foundation of His life. I can have the resurrection life of Jesus here and now, and it will exhibit itself through holiness.  The idea all through the apostle Paul’s writings is that after the decision to be identified with Jesus in His death has been made, the resurrection life of Jesus penetrates every bit of my human nature. It takes the omnipotence of God— His complete and effective divinity— to live the life of the Son of God in human flesh. The Holy Spirit cannot be accepted as a guest in merely one room of the house— He invades all of it. And once I decide that my “old man” (that is, my heredity of sin) should be identified with the death of Jesus, the Holy Spirit invades me. He takes charge of everything. My part is to walk in the light and to obey all that He reveals to me. Once I have made that important decision about sin, it is easy to “reckon” that I am actually “dead indeed to sin,” because I find the life of Jesus in me all the time (Romans 6:11).”  CHAMBERS

Has the Holy Spirit invaded every nook and cranny of your life?  Is He present no matter where you go .. not matter what you do?  “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give.  I will ever love and trust Him in His presence daily live.” That song is often sung at the end of a Sunday morning service .. it’s an opportunity for other people to respond to the Gospel.  At least that is what I think when I sing it.  That it is for someone else, not for me.  I mean, I’ve been there … done that.  But wait …. Have I surrendered all to Jesus?  Or does the Holy Spirit have to pry some things in my life out of my hand.  Things I am holding on to with a death grip.  One finger at a time … I want to let go, but I just can’t seem to.  Isn’t this a strange life we live.  It’s a struggle … but it is not against flesh and blood .. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  (Ephesians 6:12)

I remember, after I had become a Christian, my step-dad telling me that things would get more difficult for me.  I was no longer swimming with the current of my old nature.  I was swimming against the current.  It would be a struggle, but it is a spiritual struggle.  And I must use spiritual weapons to fight the battles.  Now my tendency is to try self-will first.  You know what I mean.  I am tempted in some way .. and I try to think my way out of it .. using the same method I use to convince myself I don’t need to buy that candy bar at the check-out in Wal-Mart.  Fortunately for us, God has made a way for us to fight our spiritual battles and win. 

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:13-18)

Remember that you are a son or daughter of the most-high God.  That you have a spiritual nature and that is where the root of your struggles are.  That every day we must surrender our will to the Lord (Romans 12:1,2).  You see that song .. ‘I surrender all’ … is for all of us .. I want it to be my anthem … in the future, when I sing it , it won't be for the other guy, but it will be a commitment and a prayer.   And today I pray that   “[…] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know (1) what is the hope of His calling, (2) what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and (3) what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Ephesians 1:16-19)

Bobdye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Who Do You Serve?

My Utmost For His Highest

Have you made the following decision about sin—that it must be completely killed in you? It takes a long time to come to the point of making this complete and effective decision about sin. It is, however, the greatest moment in your life once you decide that sin must die in you-not simply be restrained, suppressed, or counteracted, but crucified—just as Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world. No one can bring anyone else to this decision. We may be mentally and spiritually convinced, but what we need to do is actually make the decision that Paul urged us to do in this passage.’ CHAMBERS

OK, so we know that Jesus died for our sins (Romans 6:10) .  We know that 1 John 1:9 says that if we sin that God is faithful and just to forgive us.  We know that Jesus told Peter that Peter didn’t need his whole body washed, just his feet, implying that we don’t have to be saved every time we sin, but we do need to be forgiven and have our sins washed away. (John 13)

So what is Chambers talking about?  He is talking about sin no longer being your master.  You have been saved from the consequence of sin, but does sin still rule in your life?  That is what Chambers is talking about.  So many Christians live their ‘new life’ enslaved to sin.  That life is riddled with guilt and fear.  Guilt that they continue to sin and fear that people will find out about their struggle.  That is not the life that we have been called to.  Jesus said that "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)  This chapter is about abiding in Christ.  It is about our vital connection with Jesus.  Our relationship with Jesus is not something that we can turn on and off like a water faucet or light switch.  No man can serve two masters … (Matthew 6:24)

During my brief time in Haiti, I have noticed their strong connection to their culture .. to the point where their culture takes precedence over their faith.  Initially I was critical of that until I realized that North American Christians do the same thing.  In Haiti, outsiders point to Voodoo as the enemy to Christianity .. but I don’t think that’s it .. rather it is the love of the culture and the traditions of that culture.  Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'THESE PEOPLE DRAW NEAR TO ME WITH THEIR MOUTH, AND HONOR ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME. AND IN VAIN THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.' " (Matthew 15:7-9)

It is not a new problem.  If you and I are going to be victorious over sin .. if sin is no longer going to be our master .. then we need to draw near to God .. we must be connected to the Vine.  We must forsake our devotion to our culture … Love God with all our heart not just half of it.  Let’s start today …

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)