Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Don't Judge - Pray Instead

If we are not heedful and pay no attention to the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites. We see where other people are failing, and then we take our discernment and turn it into comments of ridicule and criticism, instead of turning it into intercession on their behalf. God reveals this truth about others to us not through the sharpness of our minds but through the direct penetration of His Spirit. If we are not attentive, we will be completely unaware of the source of the discernment God has given us, becoming critical of others and forgetting that God says, “…he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death.” Be careful that you don’t become a hypocrite by spending all your time trying to get others right with God before you worship Him yourself. One of the most subtle and illusive burdens God ever places on us as saints is this burden of discernment concerning others. He gives us discernment so that we may accept the responsibility for those souls before Him and form the mind of Christ about them (see Philippians 2:5).” CHAMBERS

There is a tension between the Spirit and the flesh.  If you have been a Christian for even one day, you know that is true.  The Bible speaks about being judgmental … Matthew 7:3-5 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” God gives you discernment, something spiritual, and our flesh turns it into judgment. Judgment is not recognizing sin, it is condemning the one who sinned.  Imagine if you saw your Brother or Sister acting out in the flesh and instead of condemning them, you pray for them.  You show them the same grace and mercy that God has shown you.  Matthew 18:21-35 tells the parable of the unforgiving servant.  The main point is about forgiveness, but the principle is treating others the way God has treated you.  We are quick to judge and slow to extend grace, empathy and love.   Shouldn’t it be the other way around? ELGIN

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Don't Promise To Pray .. Pray Now

“He…wondered that there was no intercessor…” —Isaiah 59:16

“The reason many of us stop praying and become hard toward God is that we only have an emotional interest in prayer. It sounds good to say that we pray, and we read books on prayer which tell us that prayer is beneficial— that our minds are quieted and our souls are uplifted when we pray. […] Worship and intercession must go together; one is impossible without the other. Intercession means raising ourselves up to the point of getting the mind of Christ regarding the person for whom we are praying (see Philippians 2:5). Instead of worshiping God, we recite speeches to God about how prayer is supposed to work. Are we worshiping God or disputing Him when we say, “But God, I just don’t see how you are going to do this”? This is a sure sign that we are not worshiping. When we lose sight of God, we become hard and dogmatic. We throw our petitions at His throne and dictate to Him what we want Him to do. We don’t worship God, nor do we seek to conform our minds to the mind of Christ. And if we are hard toward God, we will become hard toward other people.”  CHAMBERS

Have you ever talked to someone, and said “I will pray for you”, they hesitate, and then they say "I have been praying about it too".  You get the sense that they have actually not been praying about it, but thought it was the appropriate thing to say.  Many Christians get into that rut.  Often times, the reason we don’t pray is that we have no spiritual life beyond an occasional thought that is sparked when we read a bumper stickers, or something is said by a family member or friend or pastor.  Prayer is critical to our spiritual health.  The primary purpose of prayer is not to get things that will make our physical or financial or family life better, but to enrich our relationship with the One who saved us.  The One who gave us new life. 

So what about the times when someone asks you to pray or you feel prompted to tell them that you will pray for them.  Three words . . “Do it now”  Don’t wait for later, because there will very likely not be a later.  I can’t count the number of times, to my sorrow, that I have made the commitment, and then immediately forgotten about the commitment I just made.  The words “I will pray for you” have no power, but prayer does. (James 5:16) My point is not to condemn, but to encourage.  Whatever it is that troubles you or someone you know, take it to the Lord in prayer. ELGIN

“What A Friend We Have In Jesus”

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer”

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lukewarm Is only Good For A Baby Bottle

" I know when the instructions have come from God because of their quiet persistence. But when I begin to weigh the pros and cons, and doubt and debate enter into my mind, I am bringing in an element that is not of God. This will only result in my concluding that His instructions to me were not right. Many of us are faithful to our ideas about Jesus Christ, but how many of us are faithful to Jesus Himself? Faithfulness to Jesus means that I must step out even when and where I can't see anything (see Matthew 14:29). But faithfulness to my own ideas means that I first clear the way mentally. Faith, however, is not intellectual understanding; faith is a deliberate commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ, even when I can't see the way ahead.  Are you debating whether you should take a step of faith in Jesus, or whether you should wait until you can clearly see how to do what He has asked? [...] Are you faithful to what He says, or are you trying to compromise His words with thoughts that never came from Him? "Whatever He says to you, do it" (John 2:5)."  CHAMBERS

Knowing what to do, for a Christian, is rarely the problem.  Doing what you know you should do, that is a problem.  Our failing is not recognizing the struggle between our flesh and spirit.  In our minds, we have blended the flesh and spirit so we don't differentiate between them.  The reason we can't differentiate between them is because we are not deliberate in strengthening the spirit in us.  And so we live  lukewarm  lives.  Jesus said to the church in Laodicea, "I know your works, that you are neither hot nor cold: I would prefer that you were hot or cold. So then because you are neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth.  Because you say, 'I am rich and have many things, I have need of nothing else; and you don't know that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Revelation 3:15-17

Now let me ask you, does that sound like someone who is happy about our being satisfied with having our feet planted firmly on both sides of the spiritual fence?  Lord help us! ELGIN

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Your Body Is The Temple Of The Holy Spirit .. So ....

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” —Matthew 5:8

“[..] Purity is the result of continued spiritual harmony with God. We have to grow in purity. Our life with God may be right and our inner purity unblemished, yet occasionally our outer life may become spotted and stained. God intentionally does not protect us from this possibility, because this is the way we recognize the necessity of maintaining our spiritual vision through personal purity. If the outer level of our spiritual life with God is impaired to the slightest degree, we must put everything else aside until we make it right. Remember that spiritual vision depends on our character— it is “the pure in heart” who “see God.” […]  Not only must our “inner sanctuary” be kept right with God, but also the “outer courts” must be brought into perfect harmony with the purity God gives us through His grace. Our spiritual vision and understanding is immediately blurred when our “outer court” is stained. If we want to maintain personal intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ, it will mean refusing to do or even think certain things. And some things that are acceptable for others will become unacceptable for us.” CHAMBERS

Two points again.  First point, our lives in Christ are like the physical temple.  1 Corinthians 6:19 says our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  The physical temple had four distinct areas.  The outer wall kept the temple grounds separate from the world.  The first area was the outer court where gentiles converted to the Jewish faith could come.  The second was the inner court or court of Israel where ethnic Jews could come. The third was the Holy place where the priests would make sacrifices.  The fourth place was the Holy of Holies where only the high priest could go, one day a year to make a sacrifice for Israel.  This is where the Holy Spirit resided over the Ark of the covenant.  When Jesus died, the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies was torn in two, meaning that He removed the barrier because Jesus died once for all … the final and perfect sacrifice. (Hebrews 10:11-13) 

And so, as Christians, our bodies are the temple … separated from the world … in-dwelled by the Spirit of God.  Dr. Francis Schaeffer wrote a book .. “How Should We Then Live?”  … that is the question … if we are Christians .. and God’s Spirit is in us, how should we live our lives?  The second point Chambers made is that we should live our lives in a manner that honors God and shows deference to the weaknesses of other people.  Paul said that it was OK for him to do many things, but he didn’t do them if it caused his brother to stumble.  If you have a feeling rise up in you that says, “what I do is my business”, then you have a problem … that attitude is contrary to your new life in Christ. 1 Corinthians 8:12-13 “When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” ELGIN

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Give God the glory and tell the story!

“Goodness and purity should never be traits that draw attention to themselves, but should simply be magnets that draw people to Jesus Christ. If my holiness is not drawing others to Him, it is not the right kind of holiness; it is only an influence which awakens undue emotions and evil desires in people and diverts them from heading in the right direction. A person who is a beautiful saint can be a hindrance in leading people to the Lord by presenting only what Christ has done for him, instead of presenting Jesus Christ Himself. Others will be left with this thought— “What a fine person that man is!” That is not being a true “friend of the bridegroom”— I am increasing all the time; He is not. To maintain this friendship and faithfulness to the Bridegroom, we have to be more careful to have the moral and vital relationship to Him above everything else, including obedience. […] Yet most of our life is not spent in trying to be consciously obedient, but in maintaining this relationship— being the “friend of the bridegroom.” Christian work can actually be a means of diverting a person’s focus away from Jesus Christ. Instead of being friends “of the bridegroom,” we may become amateur providences of God to someone else, working against Him while we use His weapons.” CHAMBERS

Some years ago, two men tragically drowned in a lake.  The article in the newspaper ended with the sentence, “They were good, Christian men.”  They were known for their faith and their character was attributed to Jesus.  As I read the article, I thought those words would be a fitting epitaph.  To be remembered as a faithful witness to the One who gave me new life and eternity in heaven.  Our lives must point others to Jesus or we have failed in our primary mission.  Everything we are … came from God.  Let say you happen to be very attractive.  What part did you play in that?  You can exercise and diet.  You can choose the clothes … the style of your hair … but, you did not get to choose where you were born, who your parents were. You had no say in how your body would be formed.  How much intelligence you have.  What abilities you might have.  All of that is from God and is for His purpose and glory.  You should be pointing people to Him.  If they don’t see Jesus in you, then you must give them a reason you do what you do, are what you are.   Don’t take credit for something someone else did. 

Martie used to get frustrated with me because I would not seek recognition for the things that I did at work and even in ministry.  The reason I didn’t  was not false humility.  It was, is, and will be because I don’t deserve the credit … it’s all God … my part is obedience … in order to have an opportunity to obey, I must have a relationship with the One who is directing my steps.  And when people see something good in what I do, I must be quick to point them to the One who saved me … the One who knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb.  (Jeremiah 1:5) Give God the glory and tell the story!  ELGIN

I Love To Tell The Story

“I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love. 
I love to tell the story, because I know 'tis true;     it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do. 
I love to tell the story; 'tis pleasant to repeat what seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet. 
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard the message of salvation from God's own holy Word.
I love to tell the story, 'twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.”

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How To Know When To Help

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” —John 3:30

“If you become a necessity to someone else’s life, you are out of God’s will. As a servant, your primary responsibility is to be a “friend of the bridegroom” (John 3:29). When you see a person who is close to grasping the claims of Jesus Christ, you know that your influence has been used in the right direction. And when you begin to see that person in the middle of a difficult and painful struggle, don’t try to prevent it, but pray that his difficulty will grow even ten times stronger, until no power on earth or in hell could hold him away from Jesus Christ. Over and over again, we try to be amateur providences in someone’s life. We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God’s will and saying, “This person should not have to experience this difficulty.” Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, our sympathy gets in the way. […] Listen intently with your entire being until you hear the Bridegroom’s voice in the life of another person. And never give any thought to what devastation, difficulties, or sickness it will bring. Just rejoice with godly excitement that His voice has been heard. You may often have to watch Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it (see Matthew 10:34).” CHAMBERS

There are a couple of points raised by Chambers.  First, we must be careful that people don’t trust in our provision more than God’s.  We might have the capacity to help someone, but in helping them, they focus on us and not God.  I have said this before, so indulge me, “The only thing we can take credit for is being obedient to God.  God is the ultimate provider.” Woe to the well-meaning Christian who provides when they should not because of misguided sympathy.  The help leads to dependence, may co-dependence, which is unhealthy and unspiritual.  The second point is the sometimes in our effort to relieve the pain or subvert the consequence, we intervene.  Our intention is to help, but unbeknownst (another great word) to us, we are getting in God’s way.  We would never intentionally do that .. would we?  If we see our children struggling, would we stand by and let God use that circumstance to draw them closer to himself?  Even in the face of being accused of not loving them? 

In Matthew 25 is the parable of the sheep and the goats.  The common question “Lord when did we see you?”  The Lord’s response, “When you did … or did not … do these things”  In the parable, the goats withheld the help needed and the sheep gave it. We should help others, but that help requires spiritual motivation and understanding.  Which addresses the question begged from  the points Chambers made, “When should I help?”  The answer is simple but the doing is difficult.  Knowing when requires spiritual discernment.  To have spiritual discernment requires that you spend time with the Lord .. prayer .. the Word … Even when you believe you know what the Lord would have you do …. Sometimes you will get it wrong.  Sometimes people will say you should not have .. and other times, others will say you should have … Listen for the voice of the Spirit saying “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21), do what He says and give the Lord the glory.  ELGIN

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)