Friday, August 31, 2012

The Joy of the Lord

My Utmost For His Highest
“Joy should not be confused with happiness. In fact, it is an insult to Jesus Christ to use the word happiness in connection with Him. The joy of Jesus was His absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice to His Father— the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do— “. . . who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross . . .” (Hebrews 12:2). “I delight to do Your will, O my God . . .” (Psalm 40:8). […] Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the same fellowship and oneness with Him that Jesus Himself enjoyed. But the first thing that will hinder this joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances. Jesus said, “. . . the cares of this world, . . . choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). And before we even realize what has happened, we are caught up in our cares. All that God has done for us is merely the threshold— He wants us to come to the place where we will be His witnesses and proclaim who Jesus is.” CHAMBERS
Many people have wondered about how Martie and I could live and work in places of great adversity … choosing to be there rather than being in a place of comfort … The answer is that we have determined that we must be where we find our joy.  That joy is doing that which the Father has sent us to do.  We lived our lives in comfort for many years.  It wasn’t that we didn’t know that there were many who struggled every day for a scrap of food .. but it didn’t affect us.  Our hearts were hardened and we didn’t know it.  But God changed that … He turned our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh if you will.
To love your neighbor as yourself means that you are as sensitive to others as you are to your own body and its needs.  Matthew 25:31-46 speaks to the lack of awareness that people have … when the ‘goats’ asked “Lord, when did we see you?” They were living their lives completely absorbed in themselves and their own comfort.  The ‘sheep’ asked the same question, but that was because they were completely absorbed in loving others and did not see it as anything but normal.
When we think of joy we think of feeling not doing.  The joy of the Lord is peace .. it is faith … it is assurance … it is harmony with the Father and His will.  ‘Oh what joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms! … safe and secure from all alarms’  ‘The joy of the Lord is my strength’.  Understanding what His joy is gives new meaning to those songs doesn’t it.
So walk in the joy of the Lord today and let your light shine.
Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Soli Deo Gloria--"To God alone, the glory"

My Utmost For His Highest
“Jesus Christ is saying here, “Don’t rejoice in your successful service for Me, but rejoice because of your right relationship with Me.” The trap you may fall into in Christian work is to rejoice in successful service— rejoicing in the fact that God has used you. Yet you will never be able to measure fully what God will do through you if you have a right-standing relationship with Jesus Christ. If you keep your relationship right with Him, then regardless of your circumstances or whoever you encounter each day, He will continue to pour “rivers of living water” through you (John 7:38). And it is actually by His mercy that He does not let you know it. Once you have the right relationship with God through salvation and sanctification, remember that whatever your circumstances may be, you have been placed in them by God. And God uses the reaction of your life to your circumstances to fulfill His purpose, as long as you continue to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7).
Our tendency today is to put the emphasis on service. Beware of the people who make their request for help on the basis of someone’s usefulness. If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure who ever lived. For the saint, direction and guidance come from God Himself, not some measure of that saint’s usefulness. It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him.”  CHAMBERS
I have been blessed to see God at work around me in some very amazing ways.  He has used me in some of those instances which is even more amazing to me.  A friend of mine says “God can hit straight with a crooked stick.” I am not perfect, but the Son is .. and it is in Him and through Him that I am able to participate in what God is doing in the world around me.
The danger is that somehow I might begin to think that I have done something .. that is was my own wit or perseverance that has caused these things to be.  People see me … and give credit to me for what God has done.  In Haiti, I ask the pastors that I am working with to not promote me when they talk to people about the schools, or the medical help or whatever it might be, but rather  .. give God the glory.  All credit goes to Him.  The chief end of man is to give glory to God and enjoy him forever.  The composer, Bach, always signed his works with  S.D.G. (Soli Deo Gloria--"To God alone, the glory")
Can you put that at the end of every work that you do in the name of Jesus?  We must be careful that the praise of men does not tempt us to lay aside our humility and rob the glory from God.  Someone said that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but not thinking of yourself at all.
Micah 6:8 “What does the Lord require of you oh man, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Let your light shine today so that all men may know that God is …….
Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Prayer is not optional

My Utmost For His Highest
Prayer is not a normal part of the life of the natural man. We hear it said that a person’s life will suffer if he doesn’t pray, but I question that. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer. When a person is born again from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve or nourish that life. Prayer is the way that the life of God in us is nourished. Our common ideas regarding prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.” CHAMBERS
Prayer is not optional for a Christian .. it is part of what being a Christian means. When you are born again .. you part of the family of God. Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ
That means that God is your Father … and a vital part of that relationship is talking with Him.  Father means ‘source’ and God is the Source of everything that is good.  Prayer is not just about getting something from God.  It is about building a relationship with Him. I know some Christians who will end a conversation with another Christian in prayer … wanting to include God in that conversation and seeking His blessing.  Yet others will limit their prayers to the dinner table … where they say the exact same thing every time they sit down … nothing wrong with that except the prayer can, in itself, become routine, something that must be done in order to eat … however the spirit of the prayer has been long lost in that routine … We taught our children simple prayers at the table, but as they grow older, they must also be taught to understand the significance of God as the Provider – Jehovah Jireh.  Some pray only when there is nothing else they can do.
‘Prayer is the way that the life of God is nourished in us.’ Are you suffering from prayer anemia? Take time to talk with the Father.  You don’t have to have a seminary degree, You don’t have to speak in King James English.  You just need to share your heart with Him.  Prayer really is not an option.   It is crucial to our health.
Shine brighter by praying more.
Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pressing On

My Utmost For His Highest
Your theology must work itself out, exhibiting itself in your most common everyday relationships. Our Lord said, “. . . unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). In other words, you must be more moral than the most moral person you know. You may know all about the doctrine of sanctification, but are you working it out in the everyday issues of your life? Every detail of your life, whether physical, moral, or spiritual, is to be judged and measured by the standard of the atonement by the Cross of Christ.” CHAMBERS
So how are you doing with that?  Are you living a perfect, sinless life?  Ok, I already know that answer to that question, but do you want people to think you are … Isn’t that crazy?  Imagine everyone trying to make everyone else think that they have it all together.  My point, we can only live this new life in the power of the One who has given it to us.  We are supposed to be salt and light in this world .. point people to Jesus.  We sin, but we should not be content with that fact .. “Oh well, I am doing my best … I can’t help myself … that is just the way I am …. I’m not so bad.”  We should be greatly concerned about our sin because it interrupts our fellowship with the Father.  It quenches our spiritual influence in the world.  Yet it also reminds us that left to ourselves .. We are still incapable of being righteous … Jesus is my source of righteousness .. He is my strength … 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “If anyone is in Christ”  that is a BIG “if”.  That says that in spite of my imperfection, there is something new going on in me …. But I must caution you … there is a real danger that you may become content with your imperfection … and become comfortable with your sin .. thinking it doesn’t matter … It mattered so much that God sent Jesus to die for you.  How can we treat the reality of our old nature and the influence of sin so casually? Paul addresses that question …
Romans 6:1-3What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?"
Philippians 3:12-14 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Press on … seek first the kingdom of God and … and let your light shine ….
Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Looking For Peace in All the Wrong Places

My Utmost For His Highest
‘Are you severely troubled right now? Are you afraid and confused by the waves and the turbulence God sovereignly allows to enter your life? Have you left no stone of your faith unturned, yet still not found any well of peace, joy, or comfort? Does your life seem completely barren to you? Then look up and receive the quiet contentment of the Lord Jesus. Reflecting His peace is proof that you are right with God, because you are exhibiting the freedom to turn your mind to Him. If you are not right with God, you can never turn your mind anywhere but on yourself. Allowing anything to hide the face of Jesus Christ from you either causes you to become troubled or gives you a false sense of security.’ CHAMBERS
John 14:27  ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’
John 16:33  ‘These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
We all face difficult times at some point in our lives .. some more than others.  Maybe it’s the death of a family member, a severe illness or physical malady, a broken heart, the list goes on, doesn’t it.  Jesus said that we will have tribulation … adversity … But!   He has given us something that will help us through that difficult time .. His peace.
Philippians 4:6-7  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  (7)  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus
You see, our capacity to face difficult times is not because we have some inner strength that we can summon up ,, like pushing yourself to run that last mile … but on our willingness to look to Jesus as the source of our peace … to be at peace does not mean that we like what is happening  .. but that we trust God in the midst of it happening.
Psalms 43:5  Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.
And let your light shine before all men
Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Next Time You Pray

My Utmost For His Highest
“Have I been asking God to give me money for something I want, while refusing to pay someone what I owe him? Have I been asking God for liberty while I am withholding it from someone who belongs to me? Have I refused to forgive someone, and have I been unkind to that person? Have I been living as God’s child among my relatives and friends? (see Matthew 7:12).
I am a child of God only by being born again, and as His child I am good only as I “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). For most of us, prayer simply becomes some trivial religious expression, a matter of mystical and emotional fellowship with God. We are all good at producing spiritual fog that blinds our sight. But if we will search out and examine the evidence, we will see very clearly what is wrong— a friendship, an unpaid debt, or an improper attitude. There is no use praying unless we are living as children of God. Then Jesus says, regarding His children, “Everyone who asks receives . . .” (Matthew 7:8).” CHAMBERS
How do you pray?  Sometimes we approach prayer like coming to the dinner table with dirty hands.  Your mom would never let you get away with that … “Go wash your hands!”  We often treat approaching God like that …. casually .. without reverence … without much thought to His character and demand for us to be clean to even approach Him … but typically we are so focused on ourselves we don’t think about those things … only what we want or need at the moment …
The Word tells us to pray … 1 Thess 5:17 ‘pray without ceasing’.  Phil 4:6,7.  We are told to let our requests be made known to God.
Jesus modeled prayer for us.   In Matt 5:44 Jesus said, ‘Pray for those who use you and persecute you’.  James 5:16 says “the prayers of a ‘righteous’ man are powerful and effective” Righteous doesn’t mean that since you are a Christian you can approach God no matter what the condition of your heart is.  In Matthew 5 Jesus also said that if your relationships are not right, don’t approach the altar until you have done all you can do to set that relationship right.   Romans 12:18  ‘If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.’
Just because you say the words ‘in Jesus name’ does not mean that God hears you … Matthew 7:22-23  “Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'  And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'”
The next time, before you pray, examine your heart … make certain that there is nothing in your life that would prevent you from approaching God.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Take It To The Lord

My Utmost For His Highest

"Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. Unless you learn to open the door of your life completely and let God in from your first waking moment of each new day, you will be working on the wrong level throughout the day. But if you will swing the door of your life fully open and “pray to your Father who is in the secret place,” every public thing in your life will be marked with the lasting imprint of the presence of God." Chambers

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1Peter 5:6-7

What is troubling you?  The Word says take it to God. But do you notice that you have to humble yourself before you do? That resistance you feel is your personal desire to not trust God. Your flesh rising up against God. It's a heart attitude that you bring before God. Without humility you are not approaching God with a pure heart. 

What are you struggling with today ?  Take it to the Lord. And He will lift you up!  

Blessings. Charley. Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What Can I Offer

"The New Testament notices things that do not seem worthy of notice by our standards. “Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . .” This literally means, “Blessed are the paupers.” Paupers are remarkably commonplace! The preaching of today tends to point out a person’s strength of will or the beauty of his character— things that are easily noticed. The statement we so often hear, “Make a decision for Jesus Christ,” places the emphasis on something our Lord never trusted. He never asks us to decide for Him, but to yield to Him— something very different. At the foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is the genuine loveliness of those who are commonplace. I am truly blessed in my poverty. If I have no strength of will and a nature without worth or excellence, then Jesus says to me, “Blessed are you, because it is through your poverty that you can enter My kingdom.” I cannot enter His kingdom by virtue of my goodness— I can only enter it as an absolute pauper." Chambers. My Utmost For His Highest

When we realize that we have nothing to offer God.  That we come to the throne empty handed.  That it is the righteousness we have in Christ that has gained us entrance into God's presence. Then ... That is the beginning of wisdom and understanding.  

Keep your eyes on Jesus today. Look full on his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace.  Keep shining.

Blessings. Charley. Sent from my iPad

Sunday, August 19, 2012

It's Hard to Be Humble

My Utmost For His Highest

“Self-awareness is not sin, and it can be produced by nervous emotions or by suddenly being dropped into a totally new set of circumstances. Yet it is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs our rest in Him must be rectified at once, and it is not rectified by being ignored but only by coming to Jesus Christ. If we will come to Him, asking Him to produce Christ-awareness in us, He will always do it, until we fully learn to abide in Him.” CHAMBERS

When God calls you to something, that something will always be bigger than you are.  It will always exceed your ability, capacity, strength, wisdom, skill.  There is never a time when you will not be stretched in your faith ..  challenged in your trust … God calls us to what we can’t do by ourselves, but can do if we trust Him.  One of the Biblical examples that is very often re-told is Peter on the water.  (Matthew 14) Jesus called him out of the boat.  As long as his eyes were fixed on the One who called him he was OK, but as soon as things shifted to himself and what he could do, he was in trouble.  Walking on the water is contrary to the physical laws of this world, but it is not a difficult thing to the law Giver .. the One who tells the sea to be still.

I heard a definition of humility the other day … “humility is not thinking of yourself as less than others or God, but it is not thinking of yourself at all.”  Mac Davis, a singer in the ‘70s sang a song that went …. “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble when you are perfect in so many ways!”  It is possible to take pride in our humility.  I have seen more than one man or woman, who when praised for their apparent service and sacrifice to the Lord, have stood there beaming … a big smile on their face … Do not accept praise for what God has done .. the only credit you should receive is for saying ‘yes’ to God.  Remember you, yourself, cannot do what He has called you to, so how can you take credit for it?

There are a few verses on the Bible that serve to summarize the essence of God’s intent for me .. Prov 3:5-6 (Trust God not yourself) .. Matt 22:37-39 (Love God .. love others) … Micah 6:8 (Do justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly) … Matt 16:24 (Pick up Your Cross … follow Jesus’ example) …  Joshua 24:15 (Choose who you will serve) … Joshua 1:8 (Meditate on the Word)   Obviously there are many more verses … but these address the core of the Christian life.

Walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7) … and let your light shine before all men (Matt 5:16)

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Where is Your Heart?

My Utmost For His Highest

“Sell all that you have . . .” (Luke 18:22). In other words, rid yourself before God of everything that might be considered a possession until you are a mere conscious human being standing before Him, and then give God that. That is where the battle is truly fought— in the realm of your will before God. Are you more devoted to your idea of what Jesus wants than to Jesus Himself? If so, you are likely to hear one of His harsh and unyielding statements that will produce sorrow in you. What Jesus says is difficult— it is only easy when it is heard by those who have His nature in them. Beware of allowing anything to soften the hard words of Jesus Christ.” CHAMBERS

I have often used the exchange between Jesus and the ‘rich young ruler’ when talking to people about not holding back in their service to Him.  This new life we have been called to is  .. well it’s a new life … new priorities … new culture … new affections … it’s ‘NEW’.  (2 Corinthians 5:17) What happened with that young man?  He was attracted to the benefit of a relationship with God, but was not willing to forsake what he found pleasure, comfort and security in .. his possessions .. to achieve it.  When you boil it down … the problem is faith and trust.    Psalms 20:7  Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

What have you placed your trust in?  We all know what the ‘right’ answer is.  But when you are standing before Jesus.  When He tells you to let it all go.  Will you?  Have you?  This is a heart issue.  You can tell others about your ‘sacrifice’ or even receive praise for it (be careful about receiving praise for what God has done in you .. all praise goes to God). Only you and the Lord know if you have really let it go.  Lot’s wife left the town, physically, but her heart was still there .. she had left family there. (Genesis 19)  Jesus said Remember Lot's wife.  Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:32-33 )

The nation of Israel left Egypt, but when things got tough, they yearned to return.  (Numbers 14)  What is it that is holding you back?  Give it up!  Lay it down!  Give yourself fully to God … you’ll be glad you did!

Proverbs 3:5-11  "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.  It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.  Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase;  So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.  My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor detest His correction;"

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Knowing Jesus

My Utmost For His Highest

“It is possible to know all about doctrine and still not know Jesus. A person’s soul is in grave danger when the knowledge of doctrine surpasses Jesus, avoiding intimate touch with Him.[…] Do I have a personal history with Jesus Christ? The one true sign of discipleship is intimate oneness with Him— a knowledge of Jesus that nothing can shake.” CHAMBERS

One of the issues that Jesus confronted during His earthly ministry was the Pharisees’ devotion to the letter of the law and the absence of any understanding of the intent or spirit of the law.  Insistence on compliance in the absence of compassion is totalitarianism.  It is possible for a Christian to know what the Word says and go to church every time the doors are opened, and fail to obey the two great commandments … Matthew 22:37-39. .. Love God and love others.  We are called children, sons, brothers, friends … He is Abba … Do those descriptions sound like we have a God is far off?  Jesus has brought us near … we have the opportunity for relationship with the creator God and the redeeming Savior but it will always be only an opportunity until we become more than just hearers of the Word.  James 1:22  ‘But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.’

Intimate oneness … the only way you can have that kind of relationship with anyone is by spending time with them.  Spend some time with Jesus today .. make it a habit … and let your light shine ….

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Writing Your Spiritual History

My Utmost For His Highest

“Is my knowledge of Jesus the result of my own internal spiritual perception, or is it only what I have learned through listening to others? Is there something in my life that unites me with the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior? My spiritual history must have as its underlying foundation a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. To be born again means that I see Jesus.” CHAMBERS

If someone were to chronicle your spiritual history, how many chapters would there be?  Would it be a novel or a short story?  If it were possible to capture your spiritual thoughts and record your spiritually motivated actions on film, would it be an epic motion picture or a 1 minute ‘short’?  Is Jesus central to your life?  Or is He a footnote?  These questions are meant to challenge.  To cause us to examine how we are living?  One of the most common reasons people give for not attending church is that the churches are filled with hypocrites.  People who profess one thing (like a close relationship with Jesus) but live another. To tell people you love Jesus, that you are born again and then reject His commands and his presence is hypocritical.  It is not personal faith .. it is vain religion.

John 14:23-24 “ Jesus answered and said 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.  (24)  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.”

How do we keep His word?

John 15:5  "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

My granddaughter loves to get up early and talk to me.  Normally while I am doing my morning devotion.  I love talking to her, but timing is everything.  So I try to rise up early, before she is awake, so I can spend time talking.  Sometimes I don’t get up early enough and this morning was like that.  Interrupting her question, I asked, “Do you like the kind of person I am?” She said yes.  Then I said “To be that kind of person, I must spend time with God every morning”.  In other words, I must draw from the Vine.  Every day.  If Jesus is my life .. then He must be central to my life.  So her response “So you want me to be quiet don’t you?”  I smile….

Take time for Jesus … draw deeply from the Vine … add some pages to your life’s story  and let your light shine.

“Live the Christian life in the same way you began it— by trusting Christ.” ODB 15 Aug 2012

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Step Of Faith Away

My Utmost For His Highest

“Beware if in sharing your personal testimony you continually have to look back, saying, “Once, a number of years ago, I was saved.” If you have put your “hand to the plow” and are walking in the light, there is no “looking back”— the past is instilled into the present wonder of fellowship and oneness with God (Luke 9:62 ; also see 1 John 1:6-7). If you get out of the light, you become a sentimental Christian, and live only on your memories, and your testimony will have a hard metallic ring to it. Beware of trying to cover up your present refusal to “walk in the light” by recalling your past experiences when you did “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7).” CHAMBERS

What is the most significant experience you have had as a Christian?  Do you look back to a particular day or event with fondness?  The most significant spiritual experience in your life as a Christian?  Do you recalling that time when you are sharing with others? God doesn’t want to be a memory from your past but more significant that a reality in your present.   Every day we live should be a new and wonderful encounter with the living God.  We should not have to recall what it is like to be close to Him.  We should always be close to Him. Does that seem out of reach for you?  Maybe over the top?

Abiding in Christ …. Bearing eternal fruit … experiencing God every day.  That is what God intended … it is not out of reach .. it’s only a step of faith away.  Let you light shine

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Crossing the Road to the Other Side

Our Daily Bread

This is a little switch up … normally I use My Utmost for His Highest as a springboard for my devotion.  I also read Our Daily Bread and decided to use it today, instead …

‘Then I [the writer was looking at the promise land from where the Jews had likely stood before they entered it for the first time] understood. I had ridden across the barren desert in the luxury of an air-conditioned bus stocked with cold bottled water. To me, an oasis was nothing spectacular. The Israelites had spent years wandering in a hot, dry desert. To them, the sprawling patch of pale green in the hazy distance meant refreshing, life-sustaining water. They were parched; I was refreshed. They were exhausted; I was rested. They had spent 40 years getting there; I had spent 4 hours.
Like an oasis, God’s goodness is found in dry and difficult places. How often, I wonder, do we fail to see His goodness because our spiritual senses have been dulled by comfort. Sometimes God’s gifts are seen more clearly when we are tired and thirsty. May we always thirst for Him (Ps. 143:6)’

As Americans, we have a very distorted understanding of life.  Because for most Americans, our basic needs are met, education and health care are a common part of life.  We throw away more food in a day than many people in the world get to eat.  (Do you remember someone (your mom maybe) saying .. "there are people starving in the world" when we would not eat our food and we respond callously … “Send it to them”)  We panic if we don’t have electricity or worse yet air conditioning.  We are dependent upon convenience.  Because of that,  like the writer, we see the world from our experience.  When most Americans come to Haiti their reaction is like being in a dark room and suddenly having the lights turned on.  It is startling.  Shocking.

The question is, does it matter?  All Americans come to Haiti with a “parachute”.  By that I mean we all have a passport that will get us out of this place of poverty, disease, hunger, hopelessness and desolation back to our comfort zone. Jesus talked about the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37.  He described three people who saw the same thing.  Only one was moved to an act of compassion.  The others were focused on themselves.  Are you willing to have your life interrupted by others? Are you focused on yourself so much that having to give up what makes you comfortable is the test for whether you will help someone in need?

In Matthew 25, Jesus said “"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.  (32)  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  (33)  And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.  (34)  Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:”  (Matthew 25:31-34)

The point is not that if you don’t help others you are not a Christian .. the point is that IF you are a Christian you are commanded to help others … to love others more than your own life … frankly if you don’t, it is because the eyes of your heart have been dulled by the desires of your flesh and your drive for self-satisfaction.  Ouch!

God does not bless you so you can live a life of comfort where your biggest worry is whether you should super-size your order because you have been picking up a few pounds .. but so you can bless others.  Come on people!

Therefore I “do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:  (17)  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,  (18)  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:16-18)

Cross over to the other side of the road today .. and let your light shine.

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Friday, August 10, 2012

God Gets The Credit Not Me

My Utmost For His Highest

‘No normal, healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he simply chooses God’s will, just as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. […]God places His saints where they will bring the most glory to Him, and we are totally incapable of judging where that may be.’ CHAMBERS

Do you find yourself in a place where you are suffering for God?  What foes that suffering look like?  Separated from your family? Spiritually isolated?  Surrounded by people who don’t like you or don’t understand you?  Or maybe it is that God has asked you to give up what you value to serve Him … like your possessions or job … that is a form of suffering in that it requires you to not have something that you treasure.

How do you respond when others acknowledge that suffering? When they give you credit for your sacrifice to God.  Don’t you see that if you receive and value their praise it dilutes the purity of your sacrifice and act of obedience?

In all things God should be glorified … just like the crowns worn by the 24 elders will be cast at the feet of Jesus … Revelation 4:10-11  ‘the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:  (11)  "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created."

Do you see … that everything springs forth from Him?  We can take credit for nothing but our obedience.  And that is a testimony to God’s grace and mercy.

Point someone to Jesus today …

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)