Saturday, April 30, 2016

Your Life And Your Love Should Not Be Spontaneous - But Spirit-taneous

My Utmost For His Highest
Love suffers long and is kind… —1 Corinthians 13:4
“We cannot predetermine our thoughts and actions by saying, “Now I will never think any evil thoughts, and I will believe everything that Jesus would have me to believe.” […] The fountains from which love flows are in God, not in us. It is absurd to think that the love of God is naturally in our hearts, as a result of our own nature. His love is there only because it “has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” (Romans 5:5).[…] The evidence of our love for Him is the absolute spontaneity of our love, which flows naturally from His nature within us. And when we look back, we will not be able to determine why we did certain things, but we can know that we did them according to the spontaneous nature of His love in us.”  CHAMBERS
As we have served in ministry over the past 11 years, especially, there have been many people who have approached us asking for help.  I have one person in my mind’s eye at this moment. It is a Haitian woman who would linger around the entrance to a grocery store that many missionaries frequented. Each time she saw me, she would approach the truck, tap on my window and mouth the word “grangou” (gran-goo) which is “hungry”.  There were many times when I would not give her any money and then other times when I would. The times that I did, it was because I felt prompted by the Spirit.  When asked why I chose one time over another, I said because I ask the Lord and He tells me.  There is a difference between feeling sorry for a person’s plight and responding to a person’s plight.  I cannot help everyone.  Jesus did not try to heal everyone.  But there were those He did heal.  I don’t pretend to know what impact my helping that woman, or others has had in their lives. That is between them and God.  What I do know is that I must respond to the prompting of the Spirit whether I understand or not.  Not doing so is between God and me.
In Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the sheep and goats, it is about people who did and people who didn’t.  That is often my focus.  But at the root of the “didding” is the Spirit of God.  Jesus might have said “When you submitted to the will of God and the leading of the Spirit and showed love to those who I brought into your life, you showed the world that you are my disciples.”  Well done, “didder”.  (Ok maybe Jesus would not say “didder”) But Jesus did say  (John 13:34-35) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Be spiritually prepared to hear the Spirit’s prompts, obey what you hear, and trust God to do the rest. Let your  response to people is not be spontaneous but let it be "Spirit-taneous".ELGIN
Charley Elgin

Friday, April 29, 2016

How To Be Certain In Times Of Uncertainty

My Utmost For His Highest
…it has not yet been revealed what we shall be… —1 John 3:2
“Our natural inclination is to […] always to forecast accurately what will happen next– that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. […] Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life– gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. […] The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. […] .. when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy.”
The Haitian Creole for being certain in our uncertainty is . “Si Bondye vle” If God wants. Being resolved to trusting in the will of God and His sovereignty.  I know I will step on some toes with the next comment.  It’s like praying for traveling mercies. In other words, Lord please don’t let anything bad happen and certainly don’t let us die.  Why is God’s will and sovereignty any different when we are in a car, train or plane that when we are sitting in our living room or mowing the lawn?  The truth is, it doesn’t matter where we are .. remember Psalm 139?  Why do we pray that way?Because we think that way. Because we want to not be afraid.  Dallas Holm sang a song that emphasized that truth:
“I’ve Never Been Out Of His Care”
“The eyes of God are upon me,  He sees everything I do.  The arms of God are around me,  They keep me safe and secure.
And He knows where I am  Every hour of every day  He knows each thought I think  He knows each word that I might say.
And although there've been times  I've been out of His will  I've never been out of His care.
This changing world alarms me,  With war, with sin, with strife.  But my loving Father charms me,  With joy, with peace, and with life.”
We should look forward to each day with expectation.  Expectation that our God is faithful and we are never out of His care. (1 Peter 5:7)  Expectation that no matter what events may happen in our lives, we are in His hands.  When we were serving in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, a volunteer asked me if I liked living in Mississippi .. in the middle of a disaster area.  The Lord had us there for 5 years.  After reflection .. no one had ever asked me that particular question before … I answered, “I love being in Mississippi.  There is no better place to be than the center of God’s will for your life.  Geography has nothing to do with it.” That can also be said for Haiti and Alabama.  Or wherever you might be at this particular point in your life.  No matter what storm or disaster you find yourself in. That is so long as you are in the center of God’s will and not your own.  ELGIN
Charley Elgin

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Secret To Living The Christian Life Successfully - Well, It's Not A Secret

My Utmost For His Highest
I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go. —Jeremiah 45:5
“It is the essential thing. “…your life…as a prize…” means that wherever you may go, even if it is into hell, you will come out with your life and nothing can harm it. […] Are you prepared to let God take you into total oneness with Himself, paying no more attention to what you call the great things of life? Are you prepared to surrender totally and let go? The true test of abandonment or surrender is in refusing to say, “Well, what about this?” Beware of your own ideas and speculations. 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….” […] 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
The secret to living the Christian life is to live in total surrender to God.  To be one with His purpose and His leading.  No matter where you find yourself in the circumstances of this natural life, God is there with you.  David wrote in Psalm 139:1-12
“O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You,  And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.”
Take a moment this morning to reflect on that truth.  What was true for David, is true for you.  You are not alone. The Creator God is on your side but you must be willing to turn to him and stop trying to do the impossible on your own.  The events in your life that may be weighing so heavily on your heart, give them to the Lord and draw close to him.  Guard your heart, protect your thought life, be vigilant in your conversations, be anxious for nothing but in everything with prayer and supplication, pray to – talk with God about what concerns you, and the peace of God, the incomprehensible peace of God, the peace that is there in the midst of your trouble, will keep – strengthen - protect your heart and your mind – your life, in Christ Jesus (my loose paraphrase of Philippians 4:6-7).  That is my encouragement to you who are troubled, weary, under the heavy load of life and what it brings.  God is Good, all the time.  And all the time, God is good.  ELGIN
He Will Come And Save You
“Say to those who are fearful hearted -  Do not be afraid
The Lord your God  Is strong with His mighty arms  When you call on His name
He will come and save
Say to those who are broken hearted -  Do not lose your faith
The Lord your God  Is strong with His loving arms  When you call on His name  
He will come and save
He is our refuge in the day of trouble -  He is our shelter in the time of storm
He is our tower in the day of sorrow -  Our fortress in the time of war
And He will come and save you,  He will come and save you
Say to the weary one  YOUR GOD WILL SURELY COME  He will come and save you
Lift up your eyes to Him  You will arise again  He will come and save you”
Charley Elgin

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Do You Want God's Comfort Or Just To Be Comfortable?

My Utmost For His Highest
Do you seek great things for yourself? —Jeremiah 45:5
“God wants you to be in a much closer relationship with Himself than simply receiving His gifts— He wants you to get to know Him. Even some large thing we want is only incidental; it comes and it goes. […] There is nothing easier than getting into the right relationship with God, unless it is not God you seek, but only what He can give you.  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. […] Are you prepared to ask yourself what it is you want from God and why you want it? God always ignores your present level of completeness in favor of your ultimate future completeness. He is not concerned about making you blessed and happy right now, but He’s continually working out His ultimate perfection for you— “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22).”  CHAMBERS
Someone once said “God is more concerned with our character than our comfort.”  Think about that.  Then think about the myriad of testimonies that you have heard in the past that focused on God bringing comfort.  God is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1) but that does not mean that comfort is primary.  Relationship is primary.  And I am not suggesting that if I seek God out that He will solve all of my earthly problems.  Our relationship to the Father through the Son by faith is spiritual.  Yet we tend to see our faith through the prism of the physical.  Our challenge is to become one with the Father as Jesus was one with the Father, and that was not physical.  Jesus had nowhere to lay his head. (Matthew 8:20) He was despised and rejected by those He came to save (John 1:11) It is because of the strength of our spiritual relationship with the Father that we have the capacity to endure these physical lives of ours. No matter what may come our way. And,  “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.  Because He lives, all fear is gone.  Because I know Who holds the future.  Life is worth the living.  Just, because He lives. God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus.” As Christians we must get our focus right.  Stop living like the rest of the world having no hope, scrambling to survive each day, limited to what we can make of it. But seek first the kingdom of God.  Trust in the Lord.  Love God with all of your heart.  Be anxious for nothing. Live by faith and not by sight. Get your focus and priorities in their proper place.  That is the life you have been called to.  That is the life you embraced when you yielded your heart to Jesus.  Don’t miss the joy that you will find there.  ELGIN
John 15:9-11  Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
Charley Elgin

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Faith : Giving Up What you Value Most, Your Right To Having Your Own Way

My Utmost For His Highest
Take now your son…and offer him…as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you. —Genesis 22:2
“A person’s character determines how he interprets God’s will (see Psalm 18:25-26). Abraham interpreted God’s command to mean that he had to kill his son, and he could only leave this traditional belief behind through the pain of a tremendous ordeal. God could purify his faith in no other way. […] 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.” CHAMBERS
Faith .. what is hoped for … evidence of what is not seen … (Hebrews 11:1)  What proof do you need to obey God?  Faith and obedience are a pair.  James talked about faith and works.  (James 2:17)  Ephesians 2 tells us that we are saved by faith, not by works, yet “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)  Obedience begins in the heart when we place our faith in God and not ourselves.  Then obedience springs out of that faith.  Abraham was asked to do something that would cost him what he had waited decades to receive, his son. I believe that in Abraham's mind, Isaac was already sacrificed when he began packing for the trip.  He did not know how God would do it, but he knew that God is faithful and would keep His promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations and that would happen through Isaac.  But how could that be if Isaac was dead?  The supernatural truth did not make natural sense.
God still asks His children to do by faith today.  Every day we are face with faith decisions in small ways and in big ways.  Our life in Christ is a spiritual test.  Do we trust God and walk in obedience to His leading, or do we trust ourselves and go our own way, clinging to a hollow religion, calling it being a Christian.  Abraham could have said “no” but he didn’t.  He was not perfect, but his faith was credited to him as righteousness. (Romans 4:9)  Abraham was confident in God.  (Genesis 22:5) “Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.”  He told the men, “we” will return.  He did not know how God would do it, but he knew in his “knewer” that God would be faithful, even with what Abraham valued most.  What is it that you value most?  Are you willing to give it to God?  Are you able to trust Him with it?  You’ve got to have faith. And then you have got to give it up.  You won’t be disappointed.  ELGIN
Charley Elgin

Monday, April 25, 2016

Responding To The Spirit .. It's Not About Feelings .. It's About Faith

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

It's not about feelings, it’s about faith.  If you are letting how you feel determine how you respond to the Spirit’s leading, you are very likely going to quench the Spirit.  You are prompted to speak to someone, but fear rises up inside.  “What If they reject me?”, you wonder.  “I don’t feel comfortable talking to people about my faith”, you think.  “This is just not the right time”, you plead.    The problem is you are trusting in yourself and not the Lord.  You do not see the particular circumstance as being orchestrated by God, but as the normal course of events.  As if it doesn’t matter whether you obey the prompting or not.  So your heart stops beating quite as fast.  You stop sweating.  The mental scramble to figure out what to say ceases.  You dodged the bullet once again.  But down inside, you know that you have missed something .. something important …. a God moment.   

“They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.” (1 Timothy 3:5)  We can say “religious” things, but if the Spirit is not behind the words, there is no power.  God uses us to convey the Gospel.  We are to live it and to speak it.  (1 Peter 3:15)  “Always ready to give an answer ..”  We are supposed to be anticipating the times when the Spirit will say to us “Speak!” To be ready means to be prepared.  To be prepared means that we have gone through a time of preparation.  Preparation for what?  Not to convince someone with our wit and logic that Jesus is the Way.  But to prepare ourselves with the Word and prayer to engage in a spiritual opportunity that the Spirit will bring our way when we least expect it.  When I was on Promise Keepers Staff in the ‘90s we had a saying  “You can’t lead where you won’t go.  You can’t teach what you don’t know.  And you can only recreate what you are.”  Where are you willing to go in your relationships?  Do you know the Truth?  Is the Word of God part of your life and thinking?  Are your living by faith and walking in obedience to the Word, waiting with anticipation for the prompting of the Spirit?  You need to get ready, to be ready … to the glory of God!  ELGIN

Charley Elgin

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Got My Ticket To Heaven, But Looking For Life In All The Wrong Places

My Utmost For His Highest
“A great number of Christian workers worship their work. The only concern of Christian workers should be their concentration on God. This will mean that all the other boundaries of life, whether they are mental, moral, or spiritual limits, are completely free with the freedom God gives His child; that is, a worshiping child, not a wayward one. […] He is a slave to his own limits, having no freedom of his body, mind, or spirit. Consequently, he becomes burned out and defeated. There is no freedom and no delight in life at all. […] The only responsibility you have is to stay in living constant touch with God, and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your cooperation with Him. […] 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
The underlying principle to what Chambers is saying is that my success in the Christian life is totally dependent upon where I have put my focus and trust.  If I decide that I can do things on my own, I am in trouble.  Because I cannot.  I cannot carry the load of life on my own. I cannot accomplish what God has shown me to do, on my own.  I was not reborn into a life of faith only to continue in a life of independence from God.  If all I claim in my new life is a ticket to heaven, then I have missed the one thing that can give me joy and peace in this life.  It is in our old nature to primarily trust in our own solutions and abilities, even if we continue to fail miserably.  Sounds crazy, but it is sadly true.  The thing is, I can tell you about this, but that is the limit of what I can do.  Only you can choose to do anything about it.  Let me share Jesus words on the matter.  (John 16:33) “These things I have spoken to you, that you might have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  Stop trying to overcome the world on your own.  It’s impossible.  God had to send the Son to do it.  (1 John 5:11-12) “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  You may be looking for life in all the wrong places.  ELGIN
Charley Elgin

Friday, April 22, 2016

Flying Solo .. But You Are Not On Your Own

My Utmost For His Highest
We all, with unveiled face, beholding…the glory of the Lord… —2 Corinthians 3:18
“In the early stages of the Christian life, disappointments will come— people who used to be lights will flicker out, and those who used to stand with us will turn away. We have to get so used to it that we will not even realize we are standing alone. Paul said, “…no one stood with me, but all forsook me….But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…” (2 Timothy 4:16-17). We must build our faith not on fading lights but on the Light that never fails. When “important” individuals go away we are sad, until we see that they are meant to go, so that only one thing is left for us to do— to look into the face of God for ourselves.[…] A Christian servant is one who perpetually looks into the face of God and then goes forth to talk to others. The ministry of Christ is characterized by an abiding glory of which the servant is totally unaware— “…Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him” (Exodus 34:29).[…] The secret of the servant’s life is that he stays in tune with God all the time.”  CHAMBERS
I was thinking about flight school as I was reading Chambers this morning.  When I was in the beginnings of flight school, they trained us to fly a helicopter that had very simple controls.  The instructor pilot was sitting next to me.  When the aircraft was about to get the best of me, he would take the controls, stabilize everything and then have me try again.  As the days past, he had to do that less often until he was just going along for the ride.  But, I thought that he was an essential part of the helicopter.  If he was not next to me, there was no way that it would fly.  Then one day after we landed, he got out and told me to fly it without him.  They call that a solo flight.  Well, to my surprise, I discovered that he was not what was keeping the helicopter in the air.  There was some other power doing that.  He had been my teacher, my “discipler”, if you  will.
With respect to my faith, I have had a number of men in my life who have done the same for me.  They were a part of my life for a while.  I got used to them being there.  And then, one day, they were not.  I was flying solo.  But even though they were not in the seat next to me, the source of the power was still there.  It was up to me to apply what I had been taught.  Like flying the helicopter, I was not a perfect pilot.  I made mistakes, but not mistakes unto death.  There are days that I long for an opportunity to walk with, serve with, talk with, pray with those men.  But now, I am the one making disciples.  I am in the seat next to the student pilot.  Showing and teaching and watching.  A co-worker asked me, “Are you a mentor?”  I was surprised at her question, but on reflection, realized that I am indeed.  How did that happen?  Two things I think.  First I had good instructor pilots.  Second, I applied what they taught me as I fly through life.  I realize that even though it appears that I am flying solo, the source of the power is in me, the Spirit of God.  And He is in you as well.  (Acts 1:8)  you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
(Matthew 28:18-20) “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you”
Charley Elgin

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Are You Living The Pretend Life? Just Look At Your Reflection To Know.

My Utmost For His Highest
Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? —John 14:9
“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 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. […] “Let not your heart be troubled…” (14:1, 27). […] If I believe in Jesus and His attributes, am I living up to my belief? […] God never guides us at some time in the future, but always here and now. Realize that the Lord is here now, and the freedom you receive is immediate.” CHAMBERS
The biggest benefit derived from these daily devotions is to me.  They help me get spiritually focused for the day.  They get me into the Word of God and remind me of His Truth, His Promises, His Design, His Will, His Love.  We all need that reminder, but how much more the one who is doing the telling?  Does your life reflect Jesus to the world?  Our lives are like mirrors.  The mirror reflects by its nature, but does not know it is reflecting and cannot control what it reflects.  In our case, our lives reflect our hearts .. that which we are devoted to.  If you are living your life in hopes of looking like Jesus, but living in pursuit of the world and what it has to offer and have conformed to your culture’s manners and methods, why would you imagine that people would see Jesus in you.  On the other hand, if you are living in pursuit of God, and are yielding to the leading of the Spirit, seeking to obey His word, like the mirror, you can’t see yourself, to see what you look like, but others can .. and what they see is Jesus.  What do people see when they look at you?  Jesus or the world?  If we choose to live the pretend life … pretending to be obedient to God when in fact we have given ourselves back over the world, the only ones fooled are the pretenders.  Why would we think that we can find peace and joy in that way of living?  So what do you do if you know someone like that, and it’s not you?  Love them, encourage them in the faith, and point them back to Jesus. (Hebrews 3:12-14)  Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end”  ELGIN
Charley Elgin

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

There is Only One Measure Of Value In God's Economy

My Utmost For His Highest
All the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen… —2 Corinthians 1:20
“Jesus’ parable of the talents recorded in Matthew 25:14-30  was a warning that it is possible for us to misjudge our capacities. This parable has nothing to do with natural gifts and abilities, but relates to the gift of the Holy Spirit as He was first given at Pentecost. We must never measure our spiritual capacity on the basis of our education or our intellect; our capacity in spiritual things is measured on the basis of the promises of God. […] If we have received the Holy Spirit, God expects the work of the Holy Spirit to be exhibited in us.[…] Never forget that our capacity and capability in spiritual matters is measured by, and based on, the promises of God.”  CHAMBERS
If you are a Christian, God has gifted you, through the Spirit, to accomplish a particular purpose that God has for you. (Romans 12:4-6) “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them …”  We must be careful that we don’t challenge God by comparing ourselves to other Saints, wishing we could do what they do or feeling less about ourselves because  we are not gifted in the same way that they are.  Our challenge is to be found faithful what God has providentially accomplished through His Spirit. (Ephesians 4:7) “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”  I was thinking about my 20 year high school class reunion. That is the first time many of people who graduated with you have seen each other.  Life and gravity has changed everyone.  But everyone is hoping no one notices.  As it happened, I had just finished a yearlong school with the Army.  I was a major, a helicopter pilot, about to go to graduate school.  Was sporting a gorgeous wife on my arm. I looked significantly different from my high school days.  By the way, all of the attributes I had intended to be downplayed, with the exception of my wife … but my wife told everyone she met .. so much for the ruse.  One of my high school buddies was talking to me, apologizing, well basically for not being me.  I looked him squarely in the eyes and asked “Do you have a job? Are you taking care of your family? Then I think you are pretty successful”
You see, it’s not what we don’t have but what we do have that matters.  We often overlook what we have because of the glitter if what someone else has.  Moving from the worldly to the heavenly, our particular spiritual gifts have great value in God’s economy.  Just as you don’t think less of yourself because you are not the President, you should not think less of yourself because you are not a great speaker or a missionary or whatever.  Now, if God has gifted you in those areas, and the point is that you are not exercising those gifts, well that’s called disobedience. Another topic for another day. (1 Peter 4:10-11) “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  […] If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.” ELGIN
Charley Elgin

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Supernatural Problem Of Sin And Its Supernatural Solution

My Utmost For His Highest
Joab had defected to Adonijah, though he had not defected to Absalom. —1 Kings 2:28
“Joab withstood the greatest test of his life, remaining absolutely loyal to David by not turning to follow after the fascinating and ambitious Absalom. Yet toward the end of his life he turned to follow after the weak and cowardly Adonijah. Always remain alert to the fact that where one person has turned back is exactly where anyone may be tempted to turn back (see 1 Corinthians 10:11-13). […] Beware of thinking that the areas of your life where you have experienced victory in the past are now the least likely to cause you to stumble and fall. We are apt to say, “It is not at all likely that having been through the greatest crisis of my life I would now turn back to the things of the world.” Do not try to predict where the temptation will come; it is the least likely thing that is the real danger. […] The Bible characters stumbled over their strong points, never their weak ones.” “…kept by the power of God…”— that is the only safety. (1 Peter 1:5).”  CHAMBERS
Does your continued pursuit of and embracing sin bother you?  I am certain it does.  If the Spirit of God is in you, you will never be comfortable with the sin that you are accommodating in your life.  Sin is something that many pastors don’t speak much about.  They prefer to focus on the positive aspects of the Christian life.  While that may make us feel good, it is a lopsided message. Like Joab, sinning is not something you set out to do, but it is something that you inevitably do anyway.  We are sin-forgiven but are not sin-less in our new life.  Does that mean that we should just accept the sin in our lives as unavoidable? No!  It means that we must stop looking to ourselves for solutions to our practice of yielding to sin and look to the Father.  “…kept by the power of God…”— that is the only safety. (1 Peter 1:5).  Listen, when we treat the sins in our lives as trivial, of no consequence, we trivialize the Cross of Christ.  We minimize the significance of our salvation.  Reading this, you might be thinking that is right and to do it is wrong.  But, when you are faced with a decision to sin, you are not using the power of logic to combat it.  You flesh is very strong.  Your sin nature is waiting like some predator, for you to pass by, unprepared. Sin is a supernatural problem that requires a supernatural solution. The effect of sin is separation from God. (James 1:14-15) “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.”
Do not be deceived.  You cannot accommodate sin in your life and embrace the Lord.  Like fire and water, they cannot co-exist.  And you are going to sin … Your sin may be obvious to others, or it may be hidden.  But it is still sin.  It is still contrary to the will of the Father.  And His will is that we would be one with Him.  When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus said ask the Father to give you what you need and to help you not to follow your old way of life, acknowledge God for who God is … the creator and sustainer.  (Luke 11:1-4).  ELGIN
Charley Elgin

Monday, April 18, 2016

God Made You Able, But Are You Willing and Ready

My Utmost For His Highest
God called to him….And he said, "Here I am." —Exodus 3:4
“Readiness for God means that we are prepared to do the smallest thing or the largest thing— it makes no difference. It means we have no choice in what we want to do, but that whatever God’s plans may be, we are there and ready. Whenever any duty presents itself, we hear God’s voice as our Lord heard His Father’s voice, and we are ready for it with the total readiness of our love for Him. Jesus Christ expects to do with us just as His Father did with Him. […] A ready person never needs to get ready— he is ready. Think of the time we waste trying to get ready once God has called! The burning bush is a symbol of everything that surrounds the person who is ready, and it is on fire with the presence of God Himself.”  CHAMBERS
Are you familiar with the term “ready, willing, and able”?  We must not only be ready to hear from God, we must be willing to do what He says.  We are able to do it only if we are willing to exercise the faith that God’s call requires.  We can do nothing God asks of us apart from the power of God.  He is a supernatural God who calls us to the supernatural.  He calls us to live our lives outside of the natural … independent of the natural world and dependent upon Him.  In our Bible class at church we are studying the book of Romans.  This last Sunday we were reading in chapter 13.  Romans 13:8 “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”  We are familiar with the two greatest commandments in Matthew 22:37-39, love God and love others.  But in Romans 13 Paul puts those commandments in the context of an obligation.  We are to carry the burden of love like we would a great debt that we owed.  Imagine that you lost your job and you are going to lose the place where you live if you don’t pay the rent.  You are already a month late.  The landlord is calling you.  You feel the weight of that financial obligation.  In the same way, we should feel the weight of our obligation to love others.  Instead we often treat God’s command to love like it’s an option.  (I am resisting an elaboration on how we should express that love for sake of the length of this devotion .. it would be more like a book.)  Suffice it to say, that we are to love others in the manner that the Word of God shows us and when the Spirit prompts us.  So, I suppose in terms of loving others, I should reorder the words in that phrase to “able, willing and ready”.  My question to you, Christian is, are you? You will have an opportunity to prove it today.  ELGIN
Charley Elgin

Saturday, April 16, 2016

When The Spirit Says Go This Way, And We Go Our Own Way

My Utmost For His Highest
While you have the light, believe in the light… —John 12:36
“If, during a prayer meeting, God shows you something to do, don’t say, “I’ll do it”— just do it! Pick yourself up by the back of the neck and shake off your fleshly laziness. […] Don’t give up because you have been blocked and confused once— go after it again. Burn your bridges behind you, and stand committed to God by an act of your own will.”  CHAMBERS
There are a couple of problems with taking spiritual action.  First, we must know that we are being prompted by the spirit and not by our emotions.  An acquaintance of mine once told me that he does not attend “religious” conferences because they are nothing more than a mass manipulation of people emotions.  Motivating people to do things not because God wants them to, but because they are being emotionally charged into believing God wants them to.  And he will not allow himself to be manipulated.  I have attended a number of conferences and I must admit that there are some, if not many who are influenced on the emotional level.  However, I can say, emphatically, that God has spoken to me, many times, during those meetings.  How we respond to what we hear, often times depends upon our spiritual condition.  I didn’t hear God in the thunder of the thousands of voices singing, or the magnified voice of a particular speaker … but in the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.  As for the acquaintance I mentioned? In my estimation, he is afraid.  He is afraid of losing control.  He is afraid of hearing God’s voice.  He is afraid that his life will be interrupted and redirected.  Just like many of us are.
(James 4:17) “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Hmmm.  So if God tells me I should do something, and I don’t do it, I am sinning.  Seems a little strong doesn’t it?  Trying to refute this truth reveals an immature understanding of your new nature.  You are not your own.  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)  “… do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  Think about what started this “sin” mess.  God told Adam and Eve to not do something.  They chose to ignore God and do what they wanted instead.  They knew the good and did not do it. So it is with us.  We trivialize our disobedience … I mean, come on!  My ignoring what God has told me to do is not on the same scale as what Adam and Eve did.  Is it?  You tell me.  ELGIN
Charley Elgin

Friday, April 15, 2016

We Might Accomodate Sin in Our Lives - But God Doesn't

My Utmost For His Highest
The high places were not removed from Israel. Nevertheless the heart of Asa was loyal all his days. —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
For some reason, actually the reason is known to all of us, each of us decides what sin is acceptable to cling to.  To make excuses for.  To accommodate in our lives.  It maybe external … using profanity … coarse joking … gossiping … watching things on television or in the movies, as voyeurs, that dishonor God .. that promote all that the flesh and sin have to offer, calling it entertainment, feeling “OK” because we are not doing those things ourselves .. but are secretly participating in them as we watch them with glee … or perhaps it is in our thought life .. attitudes we harbor against others, the list is long .. but you already know these things.
The danger in my writing these words is that some may think that I do not struggle with them.   1 Corinthians 10:13 says that there is no temptation that is not common to all of us.  We are all made of the same flesh, we all have the same sin nature, and as Christians, we all have the same Savior and same Spirit.  Friends, we must not be accepting of sin.  Thinking it is an inevitability.  Thinking that “It’s just the way I am”.  Making excuses for it.  The lenses on the headlights on Martie’s car have some sort of corrosion on them … like cataracts, I guess … the corrosion has limited the amount of light that shines on the road at night.  It’s getting to the point where it is dangerous to drive at night.  So it is with accommodated sin.  The light that shines from us is dimmer.  God is not pleased with us .. He can have no part of sin .. yet we behave like He doesn’t mind.  He sent His Son to the cross because of our sin nature .. we have been given a new life  .. why would we have accepted sin in our lives as OK?  Repent.  ELGIN
Charley Elgin

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Finding Comfort When Times Are Uncomfortable

My Utmost For His Highest

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me… —Matthew 11:29

“…the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Where do the saints get their joy? If we did not know some Christians well, we might think from just observing them that they have no burdens at all to bear. […] 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. If your life is producing only a whine, instead of the wine, then ruthlessly kick it out.” CHAMBERS
I was talking with someone, just yesterday, about something mundane, routine when suddenly he shared the great burden he was bearing.  A son who was struggling in life.  I was not expecting that from him, even though I know that he has faced great trouble and sorrow.  It was a reminder to me that all of us will face tribulation.  The question is, how will we respond to it.  There are three kinds of people that we encounter.  On the one hand, there are those who smile, who will tell you that all is well, and all the while, they are emotional wrecks on the inside.  Their lives are filled with worry and heartache.  On the next, are those who wear their trouble on their sleeves.  They tell everyone, friend and stranger alike, about their struggles.  (I just had a picture flash through my mind.  When I was on my way to Vietnam, the plane stopped in Manila to refuel.  We had to wait in the airport.  In the airport waiting area there was a soldier with a “war dog”.  A huge German Shepherd.  The people had made a circle around the soldier and the dog, but there was about a 5 foot empty space surrounding them.  No one wanted to get close to the dog.)  That is how it is with the second type of person.  No one wants to get close to them, and they dread the sound of their voice approaching.  The third person seems to be coasting through life.  Always a kind word.  Encouraging others.  Serving joyfully.  Seemingly without a care.  The only real difference between them is that the third person is walking by faith and has drawn close to the Father.
As I write these devotions, I have found that there are some core verses that keep recurring, no matter what the topic.  One such reference is 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.  “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.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.”  Pastor Rick Warren said it this way.  “God never wastes a hurt”  We can find comfort and consolation in God.  Not feigned comfort but real comfort.  Something supernatural that cannot be explained by men, but only understood in the light of His Word. Now here is the thing.  The comfort and peace that we find, is  found in the midst of our trouble, not in its absence.  And that comfort and peace … it is not only for our benefit, but so we can comfort others .. encourage others .. not based upon something we have read, but based upon something we have experienced.  Be ready, you never know when the Lord will bring the opportunity your way.  ELGIN

Charley Elgin

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Three Types Of Burdens - Only One Way To Lighten Your Load

My Utmost For His Highest
Cast your burden on the Lord… —Psalm 55:22
“We must recognize the difference between burdens that are right for us to bear and burdens that are wrong. We should never bear the burdens of sin or doubt, but there are some burdens placed on us by God which He does not intend to lift off. God wants us to roll them back on Him— to literally “cast your burden,” which He has given you, “on the Lord….” If we set out to serve God and do His work but get out of touch with Him, the sense of responsibility we feel will be overwhelming and defeating. […] 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
Seems to me that there are three types of burdens, the burden that comes from personal sin, the burdens that come from living in a fallen world, and the godly burden that God places on you as part of His purpose for your life.  Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  I don’t believe that means God will give us what we want, but will give us a passion or godly burden.  God never calls us to something that we can do on our own.  We will always need Him to accomplish it.  I have seen many people start out in service like a rocket in great glory only to fizzle out in defeat.  I can remember speaking to a group of missionaries in Haiti about this.  After I listened to them talk about how hard serving in Haiti was, I told them that if they had come to Haiti, and God had not called them to come, but they had come for some other reason, they should go home.  Service in Haiti was too hard to be doing it on your own.  In other words, if God was not the source of their calling and their strength, they were in trouble.  My words may have sounded a little harsh at the time, but they needed to be reminded that what we do is spiritual.
It is the same way for Christians who are trying to live the Christian life by their own wit and effort.  Impossible is an understatement.  One of the first verses that I learned as a Christian was 1 Peter 5:7.  Martie bought this big coffee mug for me with a cross and that verse on the front of it.  “Cast all your cares on the Lord because He cares for you.”  For all three types of burdens, God is the source of relief.  The solution is so simple, but oh how we struggle by trying to carry the burden on our own.  Jesus said “Come to Me all you that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)   How ‘bout it?  ELGIN
Charley Elgin