Saturday, February 28, 2015

Living A Reasonably Righteous Life

“‘By this we believe….’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe?’” —John 16:30-31

“‘Now we believe….’ But Jesus asks, ‘Do you…? Indeed the hour is coming…that you…will leave Me alone’ (John 16:31-32). Many Christian workers have left Jesus Christ alone and yet tried to serve Him out of a sense of duty, or because they sense a need as a result of their own discernment. […] Our soul has gotten out of intimate contact with God by leaning on our own religious understanding (see Proverbs 3:5-6). […] We need to rely on the resurrection life of Jesus on a much deeper level than we do now. We should get in the habit of continually seeking His counsel on everything, instead of making our own commonsense decisions and then asking Him to bless them. […] We become a prideful, arrogant person, thinking we know what to do in every situation. We have put our sense of duty on the throne of our life, instead of enthroning the resurrection life of Jesus. We are not told to “walk in the light” of our conscience or in the light of a sense of duty, but to “walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1 John 1:7).” CHAMBERS

It happens without notice.  At one point we are aware of our need for Jesus in our new life and then we find ourselves living a “reasonably righteous” life on our own. Although we don’t think of it in these terms, “we don’t need Jesus to help us with everyday life … just those things that we can’t fix ourselves.  I can remember one of my granddaughters would push my hands away and say “I can do it myself!”  And that is what we say to Jesus.  The thing is … we cannot … John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one can come to the Father except by Me.”  We think of that in terms of salvation .. but it is much more … Galatians 2:20 says “it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me”  If your close relationship with Jesus has slipped away … you just don’t have the time to spend with Him … you need to repent … you are deceiving yourself.  That is not the life you have been saved to … it is an imitation … “They praise me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”  (Matthew 15:8) You are living a religious life that has no spiritual power and no spiritual fruit.

Now if you are reading this, what I have written may not apply to you, but you know others that need to be encouraged .. not judged, certainly not condemned … but most certainly reminded of the life that Jesus offers.  ELGIN

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lord Help Me With My Unbelief

“The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw [water] with, and the well is deep."” —John 4:11

Have you ever said to yourself, “I am impressed with the wonderful truths of God’s Word, but He can’t really expect me to live up to that and work all those details into my life!” [..] These doubts or misgivings about Jesus begin as we consider questions that divert our focus away from God. While we talk of our dealings with Him, others ask us, “Where are you going to get enough money to live? How will you live and who will take care of you?” Or our misgivings begin within ourselves when we tell Jesus that our circumstances are just a little too difficult for Him. We say, “It’s easy to say, ‘Trust in the Lord,’ but a person has to live; and besides, Jesus has nothing with which to draw water— no means to be able to give us these things.” […] My misgivings arise from the fact that I search within to find how He will do what He says. My doubts spring from the depths of my own inferiority. If I detect these misgivings in myself, I should bring them into the light and confess them openly— “Lord, I have had misgivings about You. I have not believed in Your abilities, but only my own. And I have not believed in Your almighty power apart from my finite understanding of it.” CHAMBERS

Mark 9:21-24  “Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

It is one thing to study something and agree mentally that it is true.  It is another thing to apply it to your life.  The man knew about Jesus and His ministry, that is why he went to Jesus.  But then the man was faced with reality.  Could he really believe that Jesus could heal his son.  He said “If you can”.  And that is how we approach Jesus in our lives.  We pray and all the while are thinking “If you can”.  I could almost sense the frustration in Jesus reply to the man.  We have just puny faith in the Lord.  We would like to believe He will help us .. we think He can .. but don’t really trust that He will.  So we must say “Lord we believe but help us with our unbelief!” ELGIN

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How Is It With You And The Lord?

“[…] Jesus Christ’s idea […] is that we serve Him by being the servants of others. […] He said that in His kingdom the greatest one would be the servant of all (see Matthew 23:11). The real test of a saint is not one’s willingness to preach the gospel, but one’s willingness to do something like washing the disciples’ feet— that is, being willing to do those things that seem unimportant in human estimation but count as everything to God. It was Paul’s delight to spend his life for God’s interests in other people, and he did not care what it cost. But before we will serve, we stop to ponder our personal and financial concerns— “What if God wants me to go over there? And what about my salary? What is the climate like there? Who will take care of me? A person must consider all these things.” All that is an indication that we have reservations about serving God. But the apostle Paul had no conditions or reservations. Paul focused his life on Jesus Christ’s idea of a New Testament saint; that is, not one who merely proclaims the gospel, but one who becomes broken bread and poured-out wine in the hands of Jesus Christ for the sake of others.” CHAMBERS

When you hear God’s voice, what comes to your mind.  Many of us are so caught up in living life, that we first consider how we are going to live if we are going to say “yes” to God.  We give God a conditional “yes”.  “I will God so long as these things are true.”  We have an idea about what our life will be like … where we will live, where we will work, where our children will go to school, how we will be able to save for retirement.  Those things become the conditions for our obedience.  So long as they can be protected, we will do what God asks.  Are you willing to release those things in favor of doing what God asks you to do? 

A question posed in the Focus on the Family study – The Truth Project – asks “Do you believe that what you believe is really real?”  If you really believe that God will provide for your needs and the needs of your family, then it does not matter what He asks you to do or where He asks you to go.  It doesn’t matter if you cannot continue to “sock away” money every year in a 401k.  It does not matter if your children cannot go to a magnate school or a certain university, or wear certain clothes, or have the latest iPhone.  What matters is obedience to God.  You cannot serve two masters.

Matthew 6:24  “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” 

Luke 9:59-62  “He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.

What has God asked you to do?  Maybe not sell all you have.  Maybe not leave what you are doing.  Maybe He has just asked you to not love the world or the things of this world, but to love Him with everything within you.  I met a man some years ago who makes it a practice when he meets Christians not to ask “How are you doing?” but rather, “How is it with you and the Lord?”  So how is it?

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

You Are More Than "Just" A Christian

“Once “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit,” we deliberately begin to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ’s interests and purposes in others’ lives (Romans 5:5). […] We have no right in Christian service to be guided by our own interests and desires. In fact, this is one of the greatest tests of our relationship with Jesus Christ. The delight of sacrifice is that I lay down my life for my Friend, Jesus (see John 15:13). I don’t throw my life away, but I willingly and deliberately lay it down for Him and His interests in other people. […] Paul spent his life for only one purpose— that he might win people to Jesus Christ. Paul always attracted people to his Lord, but never to himself. He said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).[…]  Many of us are interested only in our own goals[…] But if we are totally surrendered to Him, we have no goals of our own to serve. Paul said that he knew how to be a “doormat” without resenting it, because the motivation of his life was devotion to Jesus.”

When you read that, do you have a problem thinking of yourself being that person?  It is easy to think of some of the great saints of our day living like that .. Billy Graham … Jim Elliott … but not you.  You might be thinking, how does this kind of living fit with my role in this world.  I am not a preacher or missionary or evangelist .. I am “just” a Christian trying to live my life. 

The thing is … each person that is born again by faith in Jesus stands the same at the foot of the cross.  We are all called to live with an attitude that our lives are not our own.  That our devotion is to be to the One who saved us.  Our lives are to be lived in service to others because of the love we have for the Father.  We should not be more interested in “feathering our nest” than we are in showing the love of Jesus to the people around us. You see, it is not what you do .. what your place in the body of Christ is .. but why you do it.  Our new life starts and ends with Jesus Christ.

Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ, therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  And the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  And just as He loved us .. we are to love others.

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Monday, February 23, 2015

How To Respond To An Attitude Of Ingratitude

“Paul’s idea of service was to pour his life out to the last drop for others. And whether he received praise or blame made no difference. As long as there was one human being who did not know Jesus, Paul felt a debt of service to that person until he did come to know Him. But the chief motivation behind Paul’s service was not love for others but love for his Lord. If our devotion is to the cause of humanity, we will be quickly defeated and broken-hearted, since we will often be confronted with a great deal of ingratitude from other people. But if we are motivated by our love for God, no amount of ingratitude will be able to hinder us from serving one another.” CHAMBERS

One of the things that I have struggled with in our life of service has been ungrateful people and how I respond to them.  What my inappropriate response toward ingratitude does is it causes me to examine my motivation for what I do.  Rarely has my frustration toward ungrateful people been because I thought they did not appreciate God.  No, it was because I thought they did not appreciate me.  Do you see the problem?   1 John 4:19 says “We love because he first loved us.”  Matthew 22:37-39 suggests that because we love God first, we will love others.  Loving others, and the service associated with it, is an expression of our love for God.  When we are confronted by ingratitude, since what we do is for God and not for them, although they are the benefactors, those who are ungrateful are really ungrateful toward God.

Luke 17:14-19 “When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.  Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

That is a gratitude rate of 10%.  Do you think Jesus asked himself "Why did I heal those others guys, they did not appreciate it!" Would you be satisfied with that or would you decide it just wasn’t worth the trouble?  Those people were not worth your effort and “sacrifice”.  If you think that way, your focus is on you and not one the One who sent you.  Don’t you suppose that God already knows what will happen?  And He sent you anyway.  We must not look at those He has sent us to serve, but at the One who did the sending.  Read Romans 12:1,2. ELGIN

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)