Friday, July 29, 2016

Living In The Here and Now With Hope Toward The There and Then

My Utmost For His Highest
Behold, He is coming with clouds… —Revelation 1:7
“In the Bible clouds are always associated with God. Clouds are the sorrows, sufferings, or providential circumstances, within or without our personal lives, which actually seem to contradict the sovereignty of God. Yet it is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have no faith. “The clouds are the dust of His feet” (Nahum 1:3). They are a sign that God is there. […] His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child— a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows. […] There is a connection between the strange providential circumstances allowed by God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God.”  CHAMBERS
There are any number of analogies that we might use to describe the challenges that each of us face in this life.  It doesn’t require masterful writing to awaken you to the reality of trouble, trials, and sorrows. You also understand that there is the “here and now” (our life on this planet), and there is the “there and then” (eternity in heaven).  We live our lives in the “here and now” with our hope fixed on the “there and then”.  But our new life is so much bigger than that.  The Lord is our strength and will help us to endure whatever it is we face in the “here and now”.  I don’t know if you are familiar with Indiana Jones.  There is a scene where a man approached Indiana wielding a huge sword.  For a moment, Indiana is panic-stricken, and then he remembers he has a gun in his holster.  All too often that is what we do.  We panic in the face of a crisis and forget that we have the Spirit in us.  We are not promised that we will not have to endure pain, sickness, or heart-ache in the “here and now”.  But we are promised that we can endure whatever may happen to us.  Trust or faith and obedience.  They go together like a horse and carriage. You can’t have one without the other. CHARLEY
Trust and Obey
When we walk with the Lord In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way; While we do His good will,
He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, Not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away; Not a doubt or a fear,
Not a sigh or a tear, Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear, Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay; Not a grief or a loss,
Not a frown or a cross, But is blest if we trust and obey.
Trust and obey, For there’s no other way  To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Faith In The Absence Of Obedience Is Hidden In You

My Utmost For His Highest
He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side… —Mark 6:45
“What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see “Him walking on the sea” with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see “Him walking on the sea” (Mark 6:49). It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God. […] God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. […] if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious.” CHAMBERS
What does God expect from me?  I mean what is my part in this new life?  Jesus saved me from my sin.  The Holy Spirit helps me live my new life.  The Word of God provides spiritual instruction so I know how to live my new life.  So what does God expect from me?  Unqualified obedience.  You are thinking, OK, here we go, again.  When James wrote “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17)  It does no good to believe something is true if you don’t act on it.  The first act of obedience was when you were born again.  You had to do something, didn’t you.  When you couple your faith with obedience, there is a spiritual dynamic that takes place.  A harmony between the two.  It is God glorifying and heavenly purpose fulfilling. 
And when obedience is absent .. isn’t that an interesting way to describe disobedience?  Almost makes disobedience seem palatable.   When obedience is absent … the result is the same as if we had no faith at all .. as if faith is absent.  Why? Because God’s purpose is not fulfilled in you when you are disobedient .. or might I say when you sin.  Our natural response toward God as a Christian is good works .. obedience … (Ephesians 2:10) “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  What is natural in our old nature is unnatural in our new nature.  What is natural in our new nature is unnatural in our old nature.  It’s natural to obey God in our new nature and natural to disobey God in our old nature.  And it’s really not all that hard to know which nature is dominating us at any given moment.   Admitting it when it is disobedience is another story.  CHARLEY

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Danger In Believing You Are Spiritual Enough?

My Utmost For His Highest
If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine… —John 7:17
“The golden rule to follow to obtain spiritual understanding is not one of intellectual pursuit, but one of obedience. […] If spiritual things seem dark and hidden to me, then I can be sure that there is a point of disobedience somewhere in my life. Intellectual darkness is the result of ignorance, but spiritual darkness is the result of something that I do not intend to obey. No one ever receives a word from God without instantly being put to the test regarding it. We disobey and then wonder why we are not growing spiritually. […] When Jesus drives something home to you through His Word, don’t try to evade it. If you do, you will become a religious impostor. Examine the things you tend simply to shrug your shoulders about, and where you have refused to be obedient, and you will know why you are not growing spiritually. As Jesus said, “First…go….” Even at the risk of being thought of as fanatical, you must obey what God tells you.”  CHAMBERS
Everything begins in the heart, obedience and disobedience.  It is in the heart where what I do and think is decided.  That is why the Word says that if you hate or lust, you have sinned. (1 John 3:15, Matthew 5:27-28)   You don’t have to actually carry it out.  God judges the heart.  (1 Samuel 16:7)  And so David pleads with God to cleans his heart in Psalm 51.  I have discovered that immediate agreement with the Lord is the door to an amazing life.  A life where you get to see God at work in you, through you, and around you.  Over the years as we have served on mission, I have had a number of people say “I would love to do what you are doing.” But they didn’t and wouldn’t because of two things.  First, they were comfortable where they were in life and didn’t want to give it up.  Second, they doubted God.  (Luke 9: 59-62) “He [Jesus] 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.””
To follow Jesus means to lay down the devotions of the natural life and devote yourself to the Lord, fully.  To deny yourself and yield to God.  (Matthew 16:24) Obedience requires faith.  That is why disobedience goes hand-in-hand with spiritual darkness, and obedience with spiritual light.  Disobedience is part of the old nature, dead to spiritual things.   We should not treat disobedience as a trivial thing that can easily be brushed off with a prayer.  Most likely we won’t say that prayer, but we will allow our disobedience to became a habit, taking root in our hearts, and deceiving ourselves in the thinking that we are “spiritual enough”. The result is that you are walking in darkness.   CHARLEY

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Your Speech Reflects Your Heart, Your Heart Reflects Your Faith

My Utmost For His Highest
Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart….For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man… —Matthew 15:18-20
“If I will take an honest look at myself, becoming fully aware of my so-called innocence and putting it to the test, I am very likely to have a rude awakening that what Jesus Christ said is true, and I will be appalled at the possibilities of the evil and the wrong within me. But as long as I remain under the false security of my own “innocence,” I am living in a fool’s paradise. If I have never been an openly rude and abusive person, the only reason is my own cowardice coupled with the sense of protection I receive from living a civilized life. But when I am open and completely exposed before God, I find that Jesus Christ is right in His diagnosis of me. […] If I will simply hand myself over to Him, I will never have to experience the terrible possibilities that lie within my heart. Purity is something far too deep for me to arrive at naturally. But when the Holy Spirit comes into me, He brings into the center of my personal life the very Spirit that was exhibited in the life of Jesus Christ, namely, the Holy Spirit, which is absolute unblemished purity.”  CHAMBERS
Our old nature does not go away when we are born again, but when we are born again, we no longer have to live in subjection to our old nature.  We have a choice.  But, because it is a choice, we can choose poorly and allow the old nature to dominate us. One of the sure-fire ways that I can tell where a person is spiritually is by listening to what they say and how they say it. (Luke 6:45)  “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  In other words, your speech will eventually reveal your heart.  We often make excuses for our old nature.  “That is the way our family is.” “I was just kidding.” We don’t have to make excuses for our old nature.  It is what it is.  It will never get better.  It can only be replaced with our new nature.  If our heart is yielded to the Lord then what comes out of our mouths will reflect the Spirit. (Read Galatians 5:16-25 to understand the contrast).  We are all vulnerable to spiritual relapses, but traits of our old nature should not be characteristic of who people think we are, what they have come to expect of us and how we behave toward others and the Lord.  Stop making excuses for what you know is wrong and does not honor God.  Our mission in this life is to reflect Jesus, to glorify God, to proclaim the Gospel through the living out of our lives.
(Proverbs 4:18-27) “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil”
You can’t do that on your own, it is a spiritual quest that you are on and it’s spiritual strength that you need to be successful.  CHARLEY

Monday, July 25, 2016

Focus On Jesus And Stay In Your Lane Of LIfe

My Utmost For His Highest
Blessed are… —Matthew 5:3-11
“When we first read the statements of Jesus, they seem wonderfully simple and unstartling, and they sink unnoticed into our subconscious minds. […] Then we must decide whether or not we will accept the tremendous spiritual upheaval that will be produced in our circumstances if we obey His words. That is the way the Spirit of God works. […]  the interpretation by the Spirit of God as He applies our Lord’s statements to our circumstances is the strict and difficult work of a saint. The teachings of Jesus are all out of proportion when compared to our natural way of looking at things, and they come to us initially with astonishing discomfort. We gradually have to conform our walk and conversation to the precepts of Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit applies them to our circumstances. The Sermon on the Mount is not a set of rules and regulations— it is a picture of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is having His unhindered way with us.” CHAMBERS
This is the third time in two weeks that the Sermon on the Mount has been brought to my attention.  Twice from the pulpit at the church we attend and now in My Utmost For His Highest.  I was teaching yesterday in James 1.  “Count it all joy when you face trials” That is the same joy in Galatians 5, which is a fruit of the Spirit.   In the Beatitudes the word “Blessed” means happy or glad.  In both instances, there is a condition, joy or happiness, which exists that is contrary to the external circumstances you find yourself in. What is it that weighs upon your soul today?  You can find joy and happiness and peace in spite of whatever that maybe.  The trial may not go away.  The consequences may be severe, but you can be endure it through faith.  Look, what I am writing about is supernatural .. spiritual .. it’s not natural … but it is no less real.  But finding joy in the midst of a storm requires your heart be submitted to the Lord. It requires Faith.  As you exercise faith, you will find that your capacity to exercise faith increases.  Faith upon faith.
God wants you to see your life in its proper context.  In the context that He is sovereign over all.  That your life on this planet is not the sum total of your existence.  (Psalm 30:5) “ Weeping may last for the night, But  joy comes in the morning.”  That you have an eternal nature and in Jesus you have an eternal existence with the Father.  I don’t think that most Christians think in those terms.  Living the Christian life is a lot like driving a car.  If you focus on the hood of the car, you will zig and zag all over the road.  But if you look down the road, well ahead of the car, you have no problem staying in your lane.  As we face life and what it brings, we must focus on the Lord and not what is in front of our noses, the hood of our lives if you will.  And not only focus rightly, but place our faith in Him, no matter what comes our way.  Hear what Jesus says (Matthew 11:28-30) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  CHARLEY

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Why You Must Manage Your Mind - What Goes In And What Goes Out

My Utmost For His Highest
But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us…sanctification… —1 Corinthians 1:30
“The most wonderful secret of living a holy life does not lie in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfect qualities of Jesus exhibit themselves in my human flesh. Sanctification is “Christ in you…” (Colossians 1:27). […] [Sanctification] is the gift of His patience, love, holiness, faith, purity, and godliness that is exhibited in and through every sanctified soul. Sanctification is not drawing from Jesus the power to be holy— it is drawing from Jesus the very holiness that was exhibited in Him, and that He now exhibits in me. […] The perfection of everything is in Jesus Christ, and the mystery of sanctification is that all the perfect qualities of Jesus are at my disposal. Consequently, I slowly but surely begin to live a life of inexpressible order, soundness, and holiness— “…kept by the power of God…” (1 Peter 1:5).” CHAMBERS
Living the Christian life is not some unreachable … something just beyond your fingertips.  Each of us, who is born again, has the capacity to live a life that demonstrates the reality that Christ is in us. (Galatians 2:20) “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” I memorized that verse soon after I was born again in 1976.  Sad to say I have not always applied it to my life as truth.  A dear friend, career missionary, once told me that there are two parts of sanctification.  First is the point that I am saved, born again and am set apart by virtue of my faith and being sealed by the Holy Spirit (Christ in me).  Second, I enter into a process of being sanctified.  Each day, I am being conformed into the image of Christ.  And, from time to time, the world can see glimpses of Jesus in me.  Not as often as I would like, but more today than yesterday.
Think about this. You cannot drive a car forward by looking in the rear view mirror.  In the same way, you cannot progress in your faith by focusing on your failures .. past sins … you will certainly wreck your car (life).  What you need is to embrace God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9), repent, and focus your life and thoughts on Jesus. To continue in the metaphor, look ahead, out of the windshield.  (Philippians 3:13) People may tell you to learn from your failures, and you should.  But your failures should not rule your future. You must press on not retreat. (Philippians 4:8-9)  “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”  You must manage your mind and you can only do that by the power of God in you.   CHARLEY

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Your Holiness Depends Wholly On God

My Utmost For His Highest
Blessed are the poor in spirit… —Matthew 5:3
“What good is there in telling me to be what I can never be— to be “pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8), to do more than my duty, or to be completely devoted to God? I must know Jesus Christ as my Savior before His teaching has any meaning for me other than that of a lofty ideal which only leads to despair. But when I am born again by the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come only to teach— He came to make me what He teaches I should be. […] The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount produces a sense of despair in the natural man— exactly what Jesus means for it to do. As long as we have some self-righteous idea that we can carry out our Lord’s teaching, God will allow us to continue until we expose our own ignorance by stumbling over some obstacle in our way. […] The underlying foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possessions; not making decisions for Jesus, but having such a sense of absolute futility that we finally admit, “Lord, I cannot even begin to do it.” Then Jesus says, “Blessed are you…” (Matthew 5:11).” CHAMBERS
Do you struggle with trying to live the Christian life?  Do you feel like a hypocrite?  You profess one thing .. “I love Jesus” and yet you live a life that is in constant turmoil from the sin that hounds you?  The lesson there is that we need Jesus to live the new life that is ours.  Obedience is a product of faith not the root of it.  You do not have the capacity to resist sin today, any more that you did the day before you were born again.  Your new life is Spiritual.  Old things are passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17) meaning that you are living with a new set of rules.  You cannot do spiritual things without the power of the Spirit in you. God provides a way to resist temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Temptation is the first step on the path to sin. (James 1:14-16)  Read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5:2-16.  It seems like a strange teaching when first read.  It is spiritual truth about the spiritual life.  It all starts with depending only upon God and ends in the same place. Do you want your life to change?  Stop trusting in yourself to be holy and trust God who is Holy.  CHARLEY

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How To Avoid The Pain Of Bad Choices - Wait On The Lord - Yield To The Spirit

My Utmost For His Highest
Those who wait on the Lord…shall walk and not faint. —Isaiah 40:31
“When we are in an unhealthy condition either physically or emotionally, we always look for thrills in life. In our physical life this leads to our efforts to counterfeit the work of the Holy Spirit; in our emotional life it leads to obsessions and to the destruction of our morality; and in our spiritual life, if we insist on pursuing only thrills, on mounting up “with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), it will result in the destruction of our spirituality. […] Having the reality of God’s presence is not dependent on our being in a particular circumstance or place, but is only dependent on our determination to keep the Lord before us continually. Our problems arise when we refuse to place our trust in the reality of His presence.”  CHAMBERS
When Jesus gave instruction to His disciples before He ascended into heaven after His resurrection, (Acts 1:4-5) “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”  The disciples had been with Jesus in His absence, but in His absence God was going to send the Spirit.  They should not attempt to do anything until they had the Spirit to help.  (John 14:26) “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”  The success of this new life that we live is totally dependent upon the Spirit of God.  Like electricity in a light bulb, the Spirit enables us to live and do as God has purposed.  (John 15:5) “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” 
The disciples had been trained for three years.  They knew a lot but were incapable of doing anything, spiritually speaking, on their own.  And so it is with us.  We must “switch” the Holy Spirit on in our lives. Let His light shine in us. We must wait on, yield to, the Lord through the Spirit and then we can walk and not faint.  We can live and do in the manner that God has purposed.  We do not get to make the rules for our new lives, God, the creator, has already done that.  The mess we call the natural life happened because the creation thought it knew better than the Creator.  There were two buzzards sitting on a limb.  They were waiting for something to die.  And they waited.  Finally one said, “I am tired of waiting, I am going to go kill something!”  When we try to do it on our own, it never ends well.  And we then add the complication of trying to fix what we caused to happen because we did not want to wait on God.  I see the pain that people endure from the consequences of their unwillingness to wait, every day. Wait. CHARLEY

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Impossibility Of Obedience - Apart From Jesus

My Utmost For His Highest
You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. —John 13:13
“Our Lord never insists on having authority over us. […] He leaves us perfectly free to choose […] But once His life has been created in me through His redemption, I instantly recognize His right to absolute authority over me. It is a complete and effective domination, in which I acknowledge that “You are worthy, O Lord…” (Revelation 4:11). It is simply the unworthiness within me that refuses to bow down or to submit to one who is worthy […] The level of my growth in grace is revealed by the way I look at obedience. We should have a much higher view of the word obedience, rescuing it from the mire of the world. Obedience is only possible between people who are equals in their relationship to each other; like the relationship between father and son, not that between master and servant. Jesus showed this relationship by saying, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). “…though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). The Son was obedient as our Redeemer, because He was the Son, not in order to become God’s Son.” CHAMBERS
“My life is not my own, I have been bought with a price”  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  To understand the condition of our salvation.  To understand the underlying spiritual truths of our salvation is to understand the motivation to live in obedience to the Father.  Our desire to live in such a manner should not be a faint notion, but it should be very context of every minute of every day.  A constant awareness of who we are and whose we are.  We were once independent of God, but the day we placed our faith in Jesus we laid our independence down at the foot of the cross.  We should not endeavor to pick it back up, and yet we do, don’t we? Do the things of this world hold an attraction to you?  Are you drawn to walk in the manner in which you formerly did?  Perhaps you already are.  We are all prone to wander.  Prone to leave the God we love.  I am certain that you have heard the saying “If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.”  We all or at least most of us have these little bastions of independence, of going our own way, doing our own thing, in our lives.  Do not convince yourself that it is “OK”.  It’s not.  It’s nothing more and nothing less than your old nature wanting its independence back.  It’s not just knowing what the Word says about how we are to live, but actually living that way.   Such a life requires honesty .. confessing when we sin .. and determination … keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. It’s a grand life that we have been called to live … but we can live it only if Jesus is Lord.  CHARLEY

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mastering The Human Heart, Jesus is the Way

My Utmost For His Highest
He said, "Who are You, Lord?" —Acts 9:5
“Through the miracle of redemption, Saul of Tarsus was instantly changed from a strong-willed and forceful Pharisee into a humble and devoted bondservant of the Lord Jesus.[…] people begin coming to God once they stop being religious, because there is only one master of the human heart— Jesus Christ, not religion. But “Woe is me” if after seeing Him I still will not obey (Isaiah 6:5 , also see Isaiah 6:1). Jesus will never insist that I obey […] But when I do this, I am backing away from the recreating power of His redemption. It makes no difference to God’s grace what an abomination I am, if I will only come to the light. But “Woe is me” if I refuse the light (see John 3:19-21). CHAMBERS
Saul was really no different than the fanatic Muslims of today.  Jewish Christians were an abomination to God, as far as Paul understood it.  And so, he helped in their killing and imprisonment. Thinking he was pleasing God in doing so. He would go from city to city to seek them out.  But then, one day, he met Someone on the road Who radically changed the course of his life forever.  There is so much trouble in this world today.  People expect the world to do what only Jesus, the master of the human heart, can do.  People expect other people to do what does not come naturally to the lost … to show grace, mercy, acceptance, justice, love toward others.  “Jesus is the answer for the world today.  Besides Him there is no other.  Jesus is the way.”  Whether it is social injustice, racial discord on the world stage, the root cause is the same.  It is a problem of the heart.  Don’t expect good water to come from a bad spring. (James 3:11) Don’t let the events in the world today surprise you.  What you see at work is the sinfulness of man.  Why do we need a police force? It is certainly not because everyone loves God and each other.  No, it is because there is evil in the world, and that evil is pervasive. And sometimes evil even shows itself in those who have sworn to protect us from evil.
There is much said in the Bible about the importance of obedience.  Obedience is a reflection of a heart submitted to God and a life empowered by God.  The problems you see in this world are not going away until there is a heart change.  But, there will never be a heart change in everyone.  So the unavoidable conclusion is, that until Jesus returns, this turmoil that we see will continue.  Does that mean we give up? No. It means that we continue preach the Truth, we live in a way that proclaims there is a better Way.  We fulfill our purpose.  This world will not be saved, but some in the world will be.  I had lunch with a friend yesterday and he mentioned the story about the boy who was tossing starfish back in the ocean, one at a time.  If you have met Jesus along the way, like Paul, you must go and tell others, one at a time.  And in the telling, Christ is being lifted up, and somehow, the Spirit uses that, as part of the salvation of some.  There is an old spiritual that goes; “ If we ever needed the Lord before,  We sure do need Him now,  We sure do need Him now,  Oh Lord, we sure do need Him now. If we ever needed the Lord before, We sure do need Him now, We need Him every day and every hour.” Show the world what Jesus looks like, be a light in this dark place, to the glory of God.  CHARLEY

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Measure Of God's Adequacy - Jesus' Sacrifice - Not Our Welfare

My Utmost For His Highest
…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! —Matthew 7:11
“Fill your mind with the thought that God is there. And once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you experience difficulties it will be as easy as breathing for you to remember, “My heavenly Father knows all about this!” This will be no effort at all, but will be a natural thing for you when difficulties and uncertainties arise. Before you formed this concept of divine control so powerfully in your mind, you used to go from person to person seeking help, but now you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those people who have His Spirit, and it works on the following principle: God is my Father, He loves me, and I will never think of anything that He will forget, so why should I worry?[…] At times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. […] you can rest in perfect confidence in Him.”  CHAMBERS
God sent His Son to substitute His life for ours.  Jesus suffered.  But for most Christians I think that their minds go immediately to what happened to Jesus before He went to the cross and while He was on the cross.  In fact, we make movies about it and are, I think, preoccupied with it.  I am not denying it happened, it’s in the Bible.  But what I am saying is that is not the punishment that the Christ came to endure.  It was the penalty of sin and death.  On the day of our second birth there is a spiritual transaction that takes place, but it has to do with eternal things, not worldly things. So many of us focus  nearly all of our attention on the worldly things and not the eternal things.  We measure God’s adequacy in terms of how much He helps us out of jams .. difficulties in the natural .. with little regard for the super-natural.  I would suggest that if we would devote ourselves to pursuit of the spiritual, the issues we face in the natural would not be nearly so dominant in our lives.
The other day in our Sunday School class, the teacher was taking prayer requests.  Someone said something about traveling mercies.  That simple, benign request seems so reasonable. But, I had to go and make a big deal out of it.  [Now I am remembered for it :o(] I said, “If we believe that God is sovereign, why would we pray that nothing bad happens to us as we travel?  Shouldn’t we pray for everyone else who is also traveling?  Are we asking that God intervenes in the event that some unexpected event occurs, that not even He knew was going to happen?” Some disagreed with me, some thought I was a bit fanatic, some (I think those who pray for their cat) were disturbed by it.  I just wanted them to consider the sovereignty of God.  I suggested that what might be a better prayer is “God give me the faith and boldness by your Spirit to enter in to spiritual opportunities that I encounter as I travel.” Do you see the difference?  One is self-centered, and the other is God-entered.  CHARLEY
My Will – DC Talk
“I'm setting the stage for, the things I love.  And I'm now the man I, once couldn't be.
Nothing on Earth could, now ever move me.  I now have the will and, the strength a man needs.
It's my will, and I'm not moving.  'Cause if it's your will, nothing can shake me.
It's my will, to bow and praise you  I now have the will, to praise my God
Complexity haunts me, for I am two men.  Entrenched in a battle, that I'll never win.
My discipline fails me, my knowledge it fools me.  But you are my shelter, the strength that I need.
I'm learning to give up, the rights to myself.  The bits and the pieces, I've gathered as wealth.
And nothing compares to, the joy that you bring me.  The peace that you've shown me, is the strength that I need.”

Friday, July 15, 2016

You Will Never Be Care Free - But You Can Be Free Of Care

My Utmost For His Highest
I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians… —Romans 1:14
“Every tiny bit of my life that has value I owe to the redemption of Jesus Christ. […] I am not a superior person among other people— I am a bondservant of the Lord Jesus. Paul said, “…you are not your own…you were bought at a price…” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul sold himself to Jesus Christ and he said, in effect, “I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the gospel of Jesus; I am free only that I may be an absolute bondservant of His.” That is the characteristic of a Christian’s life once this level of spiritual honor and duty becomes real. Quit praying about yourself and spend your life for the sake of others as the bondservant of Jesus. That is the true meaning of being broken bread and poured-out wine in real life.”  CHAMBERS
What a strange life we have been reborn into.  We are to care nothing for ourselves and instead devote ourselves to God and others (Matthew 22:37-39).  That is clearly not our natural inclination but it is our super-natural privilege and purpose.  There is nothing more difficult, nor amazing to the world,  than denying yourself in the face of personal need.  Fear and doubt drive us to the natural side and then we worry about and plot ways that we can be satisfied, sustained, secure; and once we are taken care of, perhaps then we can think about other people. Listen, you will never be care-free, but you can be free of care.  Many people have marveled at what Martie and I “gave up personally”, but what was the true marvel was that God supplied our need.  People tend to focus on what is lost and not what is gained through obedience. CHARLEY
(Philippians 3: 7-14)  “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.  I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Pressing On – Bob Dylan (sung by Alecia Keyes)
Well, I'm pressing on Pressing on
Well, I'm pressing on To the higher calling of my Lord
Many try to stop me, shake me up in my mind Say, "Prove to me that He is Lord, show me a sign"
What kind of sign they need when it all come from within
When what's lost has been found, what's to come has already been?
Well, I'm pressing on  On and on and on and on
Pressing on, oh yes, I am  Pressing on
To the higher calling of my Lord

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Showing The World Strength Through Meekness

My Utmost For His Highest
I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. —Matthew 5:39
“This verse reveals the humiliation of being a Christian. In the natural realm, if a person does not hit back, it is because he is a coward. But in the spiritual realm, it is the very evidence of the Son of God in him if he does not hit back. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but you must make it an opportunity to exhibit the Son of God in your life. And you cannot imitate the nature of Jesus— it is either in you or it is not. […] It is not your duty to go the second mile, or to turn the other cheek, but Jesus said that if we are His disciples, we will always do these things. […] A disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor. Never look for righteousness in the other person, but never cease to be righteous yourself. We are always looking for justice, yet the essence of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is— Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.” CHAMBERS
(Isaiah 55:8-9) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  When I think of this verse and Matthew 5:38-45 and the truth you find in them, my mind goes back to the Western movie where the religious man, who doesn’t wear a gun, is being taunted by a group of “bad” men and told to pick the gun up that is laying on the ground.  The men laugh and mock as the man refuses to yield.  They see him as weak and a coward when in fact there is great power than what is being expressed in his refusal.  He is not afraid at all. He is meek, like Jesus.  Meekness is not weakness, it is bridled strength.  Do you want to reflect Jesus in your life?  Do you accept that Jesus was shamed and crucified, and yet hate the thought of someone treating you poorly and you not retaliating?  This is a hard teaching.  Virtually impossible without the power of the Spirit in you and you in full submission to His leading.  This is not about you remaining silent and harboring resentment toward the offender.  But remaining silent and saying to the Father, “Forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.”  They are ignorant, blind and hell bound.
Behaving in such a way with Spiritual sincerity requires that you be fully trusting in the Lord.  It cannot be feigned.  Your proper response to life brings glory to the Father.  Your feigned response to others, something done by the exercising of your own will, has no spiritual power and is hypocritical. And you know what Jesus had to say about that.  So if you are thinking, I could never do that, you are absolutely correct.  Your flesh always demands its rights and justice.  The Spiritual demands that you exercise grace and mercy. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)  CHARLEY

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

God Loves You Enough To Correct You When You Wander .. Do You Trust Him Enough To Receive It?

My Utmost For His Highest
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord… —Isaiah 6:1
“Our soul’s personal history with God is often an account of the death of our heroes. Over and over again God has to remove our friends to put Himself in their place, and that is when we falter, fail, and become discouraged. […] My vision of God is dependent upon the condition of my character. My character determines whether or not truth can even be revealed to me. Before I can say, “I saw the Lord,” there must be something in my character that conforms to the likeness of God. […] What I need is God’s surgical procedure— His use of external circumstances to bring about internal purification. Your priorities must be God first, God second, and God third, until your life is continually face to face with God and no one else is taken into account whatsoever. Your prayer will then be, “In all the world there is no one but You, dear God; there is no one but You.”” CHAMBERS
What does it take for you to stop trying to fix your life and trust God to do it?  If you are a child of the King, you are in His grasp.  He has not forgotten you.  He will not give up on you.  But, don’t forget, (Hebrews 12:6, 10-11) “For whom the Lord loves He chastens ... For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  Do you find it hard to imagine a God who knows you by name, and He does.  A God who intervenes in your life for your good and His glory, and He does.  Who uses life and its circumstances to bring you to your spiritual senses, and He will. 
The question is, when the chastening comes, will you recognize it, will you receive it, will you let it do its work in you which is to cause you to turn your face toward heaven?  Will it cause you to remember your rebirth, your heavenly citizenship, the love of God the Father, the sacrifice of the Son, the presence of the Spirit in you?  Or will you continue to rail against all that is heavenly and continue to go your own way, no matter how painful?  Perhaps think poorly toward God for allowing this malady in your life or becoming angry toward Him.  Maybe that is where you are today.  Or perhaps you are about to set your foot on that path. Oh, I hope not my friend. Not every bad circumstance is chastening, sometimes, it is simply the result of living in a sin-sick world.  But in either case, the answer is the same ... look up.  (Psalm 121: 1-2) " I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth."  CHARLEY
“The Love Of God”  Frederick Lehman
The love of God is greater far  Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,  And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,  God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,  And pardoned from his sin.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,  And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill,  And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,  Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,  Though stretched from sky to sky.
O love of God, how rich and pure!  How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure  The saints’ and angels’ song.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Living Above Your Earthly Circumstances - How To Walk In The Mud Without Getting Muddy

My Utmost For His Highest
…that I may know Him… —Philippians 3:10
“A […] saint never believes that his circumstances simply happen at random, nor does he ever think of his life as being divided into the secular and the sacred. He sees every situation in which he finds himself as the means of obtaining a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ, and he has an attitude of unrestrained abandon and total surrender about him. The Holy Spirit is determined that we will have the realization of Jesus Christ in every area of our lives, and He will bring us back to the same point over and over again until we do. [...] Whatever we may be doing— even eating, drinking, or washing disciples’ feet— we have to take the initiative of realizing and recognizing Jesus Christ in it. Every phase of our life has its counterpart in the life of Jesus. […] The aim of a spiritually vigorous saint is “that I may know Him…” Do I know Him where I am today? If not, I am failing Him.”  CHAMBERS
I was speaking to a friend at work the other day about a particular circumstance in their life.  I was encouraging them to look at that circumstance for a spiritual standpoint.  I explained that, as Christians, there is nothing that happens in our lives, as Christians, that does not have spiritual context.  And so it so often does, I realized that I was speaking to myself more than my friend.  Part and parcel to being a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) being “born again” (John 3:5-7) being the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)  is the fact that you live in a new reality.  To fully understand that new reality you must draw close to Jesus.  If you fail to develop your relationship with Jesus, you will fail spiritually.  Paul said that he prayed that the “eyes of the Saints hearts or understanding would be opened” (Ephesians 1:18).  Why? Because unless you understand your new life and embrace it, you will continue to live your old one.  We must honor God (bring glory to Him) with our lives (1 Corinthians 6:20). Now listen, after reading that, if your spirit does not agree immediately, there is a problem.  Either you don’t have the Spirit or you have quenched the Spirit with sin. Either case is not good.  The first is impossible, the second is ineffectual.  Don’t think that I am judging, no, I am encouraging you to be on your guard and to consider how pervasively your new nature creeps seeps in to  every nook and cranny of your life.  Please don’t miss the blessing of living above your circumstances in this world.  Of living in the context of being in this world but not being of this world.  Of not relying on the wisdom of your flesh but the wisdom of God.  CHARLEY

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Our Struggle With Unbelief And The Trouble That Brings

My Utmost For His Highest
Joshua said to the people, "You cannot serve the Lord…" —Joshua 24:19
“It really is true to say, “I cannot live a holy life,” but you can decide to let Jesus Christ make you holy. “You cannot serve the Lord…”— but you can place yourself in the proper position where God’s almighty power will flow through you. Is your relationship with God sufficient for you to expect Him to exhibit His wonderful life in you? “The people said to Joshua, ‘No, but we will serve the Lord!’ ” (Joshua 24:21). This is not an impulsive action, but a deliberate commitment.[…] The person who is still relying and trusting in anything within himself is the last person to even come close to saying, “I will serve the Lord.” We say, “Oh, if only I really could believe!” The question is, “Will I believe?” No wonder Jesus Christ placed such emphasis on the sin of unbelief.” CHAMBERS
Do you struggle with unbelief?  Do you wonder what that looks like?  Most often we think of it in terms of some great thing.  Not believing you can walk on water.  Not believing you or someone else can be healed of some physical malady.  Deciding to not go to some distant land as a missionary, when the call is plain.  But unbelief has a much simpler form that has just as a profound impact on your relationship with the Lord.  Not believing that you must reject your old way of live, not submitting to your flesh, but living in the newness of life under the leadership of the Spirit and council of the Word.  Not believing that your life will be better. Unbelief is not believing God.  It’s counter is that you believe something else.  Perhaps that you know better. Perhaps that God is not who He says He is and you are not who He says you are.  Someone once said that “you only believe in that part of the Bible that you obey.”
I know people who have chosen unbelief.  Their life did not end, but it fell woefully short of what it might have been.  I know a young woman who was called to missions when she was young.  But then life happened, disappointment and heartache and she decided to not believe God going her own way.  Her life went on, but it was never the same.  When I see her, I see the spark of God’s calling, but it grows dimmer with each day that passes.  I know many others who started their new life well, but chose to follow another path, in unbelief that God had a better way.  We look to Jesus for salvation but look to the world for confirmation of that salvation.  Often times the seed for unbelief is disappointment in this life. Jesus said “You will have tribulation” (John 16:33)  Why would we think that the absence of problems is the reason to believe God?  And if something “bad” happens then we reject God and go our own way.  Do you struggle with unbelief? Jesus said of the Jews (Matthew 23:37-38) “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.”  The Jews would not believe because the wanted God to do something else.  They wanted God to send a Messiah who would conquer their enemies, and He did.  He sent Jesus to conquer the greatest enemy, sin.  But they could not look past their earthly circumstances. Do you struggle with unbelief?  CHARLEY

Friday, July 8, 2016

Defeating Fear - The Power Of The Flesh - With Love - The Power Of The Spirit

My Utmost For His Highest
…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… —Joshua 24:15
“The best thing to do is to remember what you did before when you were touched by God. Recall the moment when you were saved, or first recognized Jesus, or realized some truth. It was easy then to yield your allegiance to God. […] “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….” Your choice must be a deliberate determination— it is not something into which you will automatically drift. […] the people around us seem to become more and more isolated, and that is where the tension develops. […] Openly declare to Him, “I will be faithful.” But remember that as soon as you choose to be faithful to Jesus Christ, “You are witnesses against yourselves…” (Joshua 24:22). […] simply and freely declare before Him, “I will serve You.”” CHAMBERS
Human nature, our old nature, is such an odd but powerful thing.  Even though we know the right thing to do, we choose the wrong thing.  I see it in my life and in the lives of others.  Even though we have the Spirit of God in us, our old nature thrives.  Paul asked in Romans 7 “Who will save us from this body of death?”  It really does get down to a choice on our part.  Do I surrender to the Spirit or to my flesh.  The power of the flesh is fear.  The power of the Spirit is love.  This is not a problem for those who have not been reborn.  They don’t have a choice.  They have not been sealed for heaven by the Holy Spirit.  But for the Saints, we will spend our lives learning that choosing Jesus is always better.  (Galatians 5:24) “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” That sounds like a "for all time thing" doesn’t it?  Well, it is actually, but it is also  a daily thing.  Jesus said to pick up our crosses  - daily.  (Luke 9:23) We don’t make a decision on Sunday and ride on that decision until the next Sunday. Every day you must decide whom you will serve.  Every day.
Are you having problems serving Jesus and not your old nature?  It takes the full armor of God to live this new life.  Neglect it and you will surely fail.  (Ephesians 6:10-18) “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” I see that it is about time to get suited up for the day.   CHARLEY
I Will Serve Thee – Gaithers
“I will serve You because I love You,  You have given life to me
I was nothing before You found me, You have given life to me
Heartaches, broken pieces, Ruined lives are why You died on Calvary
Your touch was what I longed for, You have given life to me”