Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How You Respond To Others Is A Choice

“ […] God’s laws are unchangeable and there is no escape from them. The teachings of Jesus always penetrate right to the heart of our being. […] God is determined to have His child as pure, clean, and white as driven snow, and as long as there is disobedience in any point of His teaching, He will allow His Spirit to use whatever process it may take to bring us to obedience. The fact that we insist on proving that we are right is almost always a clear indication that we have some point of disobedience. No wonder the Spirit of God so strongly urges us to stay steadfastly in the light! (see John 3:19-21). […] “Agree with your adversary quickly….” Have you suddenly reached a certain place in your relationship with someone, only to find that you have anger in your heart? Confess it quickly— make it right before God. Be reconciled to that person— do it now!” CHAMBERS

Oh, not that! I know some pretty disagreeable people.  People that are really unkind.  People who seem to have made it their life’s goal to make me unhappy. Are you telling me that I must be reconciled to that person? No.  God has said it.  The Bible is not a menu that you can make choices from.  “Now let’s see, I think I will have the blessing from God, and I get two sides?  Ok, I would like the peace that passes understanding and joy down in my heart. And to drink .. living water . no ice.”

God uses His Word to show us how He wants us to live and His Spirit to convict us of sin.  And what we are told to do, we need His power to do it.  So when you hear or read  be reconciled to “that” person, do you immediately look within and say, “I can’t!” or maybe even “I won’t”.  You have chosen to respond to them in your flesh.  You are not reflecting Jesus.  You might be thinking, “but you have no idea what this person has done.”  Doesn’t matter.  The question is, how have you chosen to respond to it.  So you say “But this person is evil .. they are not even a Christian.”  It doesn’t matter .. the point is how are you responding to this person.  Think about these verses in the context of your relationship with that person.

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  That means that you should not be the reason for the discord in the relationship.  It does not mean that they will change .. it might, but that is not the condition for what you do.  

Matthew 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”  This is the love that comes from God, through you. 

Matthew 5: 39-40  But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.”  This is crazy isn’t it?  You mean I am just supposed to take it?  Yowzer! That is tough to do!

Matthew 5: 21-22 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” I can’t even be angry with them for it?  Read on.

1 John 3:15 “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer  We cannot justify our feeling of hate toward others .. no matter how much or how many times they have wronged us. 

1 John 4:20Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.” God’s motivation for saving us was “love”  and we are to show that same love toward others … and you can’t do it on your own.  Think about it.  ELGIN

Monday, June 29, 2015

Walking Around The Mud Puddles

If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. —Matthew 5:30

“Jesus did not say that everyone must cut off his right hand, but that “if your right hand causes you to sin” in your walk with Him, then it is better to “cut it off.” There are many things that are perfectly legitimate, but if you are going to concentrate on God you cannot do them. Your right hand is one of the best things you have, but Jesus says that if it hinders you in following His precepts, then “cut it off.” The principle taught here is the strictest discipline or lesson that ever hit humankind. When God changes you through regeneration, giving you new life through spiritual rebirth, your life initially has the characteristic of being maimed. There are a hundred and one things that you dare not do— things that would be sin for you, and would be recognized as sin by those who really know you. But the unspiritual people around you will say, “What’s so wrong with doing that? How absurd you are!”  CHAMBERS

What are you willing to give up to follow Jesus?  One of the hallmarks of a changed life is that affections are changed.  What a person once loved to do, they don’t do anymore.  Why .. because of the Spirit of God in them.  Because they are new in Christ.  Steven Curtis Chapman sang a song called “The Change”.  The song describes a Christian who, by appearance is living the Christian life .. big Bible, necklace, wrist band, bumper sticker, fish on the trunk lid .. but there is no change in the desires of their heart.  They still hunger for the things of this world, and have little time to read that Bible.  They prefer to hang out with their unsaved friends, talk like they do, when they are not around Christians, like what they like … nothing wrong with having unsaved friends so long as you keep in mind that there is a limit to the relationship.  Do you embrace your unsaved friends to the point that you compromise your walk with Jesus?  Your heart knows the truth and so does God, who judges the heart.  

Why am I harping on this?  To criticize you? No.  To warn you.  Don’t be deceived .. you cannot walk through the mud and not get your feet muddy.  You need to walk around that mud puddle, even if the person you are with is walking through it.  People don’t like to walk in the mud by themselves.  They will most certainly encourage you to join them.  What makes you say OK?  What do you fear, that you will lose their friendship? So you deny Jesus and quench the Spirit instead?  

I changed substituted some words in Matthew 5:30 -- If your "friend" causes you to sin, cut "them" off and cast "them" from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your "friends be lost" , than for you to "harm your relationship Jesus".  Think about it.  ELGIN

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Straddling The Spiritual Fence

"…I am with you to deliver you," says the Lord. —Jeremiah 1:8

“God promised Jeremiah that He would deliver him personally— “…your life shall be as a prize to you…” (Jeremiah 39:18). That is all God promises His children. Wherever God sends us, He will guard our lives. Our personal property and possessions are to be a matter of indifference to us, and our hold on these things should be very loose. If this is not the case, we will have panic, heartache, and distress. Having the proper outlook is evidence of the deeply rooted belief in the overshadowing of God’s personal deliverance. [..]  If we look for justice, we will only begin to complain and to indulge ourselves in the discontent of self-pity, as if to say, “Why should I be treated like this?” If we are devoted to Jesus Christ, we have nothing to do with what we encounter, whether it is just or unjust. In essence, Jesus says, “Continue steadily on with what I have told you to do, and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance.” Even the most devout among us become atheistic in this regard— we do not believe Him. We put our common sense on the throne and then attach God’s name to it. We do lean to our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts (see Proverbs 3:5-6).” CHAMBERS

Hmmmm.  Oswald, do you mean to say that when people don’t do what they are supposed to do.  When they treat me poorly … I am supposed to “let it go?”  As a follower of Christ .. you are following Jesus right . .not just carrying the thought of Him around with you … we are supposed to hold things of this world in an open hand.  That’s right … but we have a death grip on some things in this world.  We have decided that for us to be “happy”, to feel safe, to not be fearful we need Jesus plus a few things.  The problem is that the Bible does not make allowance for that.  In fact, Jesus calls that being “lukewarm”, having a divided heart.  Revelation 3 or is it Revelations 3?  verses 15-17  “I [Jesus speaking] know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”   

Woah!  That sounds pretty harsh doesn’t it?   We live like it is OK to straddle the spiritual fence.  But it is NOT ok.  Matthew 22:37 uses the word “all” a lot.  That leaves no room for other devotions, if you desire to follow Jesus.  It is really up to you .. but if you are embracing the world as a Christian .. don’t deceive yourself any longer thinking it’s OK, because you certainly are not deceiving God. ELGIN

1 John 2: 15- 17  “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Is God's Grace Really Sufficient For You?

We…plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. —2 Corinthians 6:1

“The grace you had yesterday will not be sufficient for today. Grace is the overflowing favor of God, and you can always count on it being available to draw upon as needed. “…in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses”— that is where our patience is tested (2 Corinthians 6:4). Are you failing to rely on the grace of God there [..] Prayer is the practice of drawing on the grace of God. Don’t say, “I will endure this until I can get away and pray.” Pray now — draw on the grace of God in your moment of need. Prayer is the most normal and useful thing; it is not simply a reflex action of your devotion to God. We are very slow to learn to draw on God’s grace through prayer. […] Let circumstances take you where they will, but keep drawing on the grace of God in whatever condition you may find yourself. One of the greatest proofs that you are drawing on the grace of God is that you can be totally humiliated before others without displaying even the slightest trace of anything but His grace.” CHAMBERS

I have heard Grace defined as “getting what you don’t deserve” and Mercy as “not getting what you do deserve”.  Would you agree that we need Grace in our lives?  God is the source of Grace … It starts and ends with Jesus.  Jesus is the means by which we have access to God’s grace.  His grace is supernatural … I have been using that word a lot, I think because we tend not to think of God in those terms, but in the natural.  Grace is having the wherewithal (love that word) to endure whatever we might face … humiliation before others .. sickness .. loss … death of a loved one … whatever it might be … God’s grace is sufficient

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Does that sound like crazy talk to you?  Paul had a problem .. God did not remove the problem, but used it as a reminder to Paul to trust Him and not think more of himself than he should.  So let’s get this right, God let Paul struggle with something so Paul would not forget that he needed God.  You don’t think He would do that to us do you?  Maybe to someone else, but not me!  I don’t know if I would like God if He did that to me! I thought He loved me!  My thorn was a pulmonary embolism and DVT (you can GOOGLE those)  which has limited me .. but.. every time I take a pill .. every time I feel my leg swelling in my sock .. every time that I am winded when I climb a steep hill … I am reminded that I need God’s strength and His grace is sufficient.  How about you?  ELGIN

Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!  Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come.  It’s grace has brought me safe thus far .. and grace will lead me home.” AMEN

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What To Do When Trouble Comes Knocking

…what shall I say? "Father, save Me from this hour"? But for this purpose I came to this hour. "Father, glorify Your name." —John 12:27-28

“As a saint of God, my attitude toward sorrow and difficulty should not be to ask that they be prevented, but to ask that God protect me so that I may remain what He created me to be, in spite of all my fires of sorrow. Our Lord received Himself, accepting His position and realizing His purpose, in the midst of the fire of sorrow. He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour. We say that there ought to be no sorrow, but there is sorrow, and we have to accept and receive ourselves in its fires. If we try to evade sorrow, refusing to deal with it, we are foolish. Sorrow is one of the biggest facts in life, and there is no use in saying it should not be. Sin, sorrow, and suffering are, and it is not for us to say that God has made a mistake in allowing them.[…]  You can always recognize who has been through the fires of sorrow and received himself, and you know that you can go to him in your moment of trouble and find that he has plenty of time for you. But if a person has not been through the fires of sorrow, he is apt to be contemptuous, having no respect or time for you, only turning you away. If you will receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people.” CHAMBERS

The Bible speaks a great deal about sorrow.  Sometimes it is brought on by personal sin and sometimes just because we live in a sin-sick world.  God tells us about sorrow in His Word so we will know what to expect in life.  But we have a promise … when we face sorrow, God is our comfort … but He also expects us to use that sorrow to be a comfort to others.  (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) “the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  We should not be surprised when sorrows come our way. In fact, get this, we should consider it pure joy …. (James 1:2-4)  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  Rick Warren said that “God never wastes a hurt.”  I don’t pretend to understand the dynamic here, but I know what the Word of God says .. and I believe that the Word is Truth.  It can’t be the truth some of the time, although there are many times I would like it to be.  And if it is the truth, then I must yield to that truth … receive it as supernatural … not try to understand it in my natural wisdom …  (1 Corinthians 2:14) “But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” So this sorrow that you are looking at like a calf looks at a new gate … it can only be understood in light of God’s Word and revelation of the Spirit of God, accepted by faith and endured by God’s strength.   (2 Corinthians 5:7) “For we walk [live and have understanding] by faith, not by sight.  Why is it important to keep yourself spiritually strong every day?  Think about it.  ELGIN

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)