Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I've Got Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down In My Heart, Where?

My Utmost For His Highest
These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. —John 15:11
“What was the joy that Jesus had? Joy should not be confused with happiness. […] The joy of Jesus was His absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice to His Father— the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do— “…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2). “I delight to do Your will, O my God…” (Psalm 40:8). […] Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the same fellowship and oneness with Him that Jesus Himself enjoyed. But the first thing that will hinder this joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances. Jesus said, “…the cares of this world,…choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). […] Have the right relationship with God, finding your joy there, and out of you “will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).” CHAMBERS
Joy is sitting on your sofa, curled up in a warm blanket, sensing that all is well, at least for that moment.  It is hard to separate joy from peace and peace from contentment. All part of the fruit of the Spirit, joy is a result of the square peg finding its place in a square hole.  You experience joy when your life is consistent with what  God has purposed for you.  Your life is surrendered to your creator.  You are aware that you are His and there is nothing that can come your way that might change that.  You have found your place amongst the others who are members of the great orchestra of creation.  And at that moment, cuddled up in the arms of Jesus, you know that all is well.  All is well in spite of the calamity that rages around you.  (Psalm 28:7)Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.” ELGIN

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Living Today Knowing That We Are Heaven Bound

My Utmost For His Highest
Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. —Luke 10:20
“Jesus Christ is saying here, “Don’t rejoice in your successful service for Me, but rejoice because of your right relationship with Me.” […] you will never be able to measure fully what God will do through you if you do not have a right-standing relationship with Jesus Christ. If you keep your relationship right with Him, then regardless of your circumstances or whoever you encounter each day, He will continue to pour “rivers of living water” through you (John 7:38). […] Once you have the right relationship with God through salvation and sanctification, remember that whatever your circumstances may be, you have been placed in them by God. […] For the saint, direction and guidance come from God Himself, not some measure of that saint’s usefulness. It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him. […] Jesus is “bringing many sons to glory…” (Hebrews 2:10).” CHAMBERS
Most often when we consider our Christian lives, we think of the here and now.  We don’t think in terms of the truth that on the day we were reborn, we were reborn into eternal life.  (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.”  It is hard for us think beyond the next blink of our eyes.  We have eternal life in heaven.  Life is only going to get better. But in the meantime ….  (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)  “…we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—  always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”
The only way that you are going to live with an eternal perspective is by fortifying your spiritual life.  That is the reason I get up early and write these words.  I want to encourage you to pursue the Lord and live a life of faith.  (Ephesians 3:18-19) “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  We have a glorious hope for tomorrow and a glorious purpose for today … to show the world Jesus by word and deed.  Are you ready?  ELGIN

Monday, August 29, 2016

Don't Worry About The Bird In Your Hand, Listen To The Burning Bush

My Utmost For His Highest
Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" —John 11:40
“Every time you venture out in your life of faith, you will find something in your circumstances that, from a commonsense standpoint, will flatly contradict your faith. […] Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him? Can you venture out with courage on the words of Jesus Christ, while the realities of your commonsense life continue to shout, “It’s all a lie”? When you are on the mountaintop, it’s easy to say, “Oh yes, I believe God can do it,” but you have to come down from the mountain to the demon-possessed valley and face the realities that scoff at your Mount-of-Transfiguration belief (see Luke 9:28-42). […] As soon as I say, “I believe ‘God shall supply all [my] need,’ ” the testing of my faith begins (Philippians 4:19). When my strength runs dry and my vision is blinded, will I endure this trial of my faith victoriously or will I turn back in defeat? Faith must be tested, because it can only become your intimate possession through conflict. What is challenging your faith right now?”  CHAMBERS
The natural thing for people is to not trust anyone, just themselves.  They have a natural view towards life and what it brings.  Trying to make their way the best they know how.  We very often want God to prove Himself before we will trust Him.  The thing is, that until we trust Him, we will not see proof. You may look at a chair and think if you sit in it, the chair will support your weight.  But until you actually sit in the chair, you will not know.  The fact will not be proven until you act on it.
(1 Corinthians 2:12-14) “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”  We cannot understand spiritual truth with our natural ability to reason.  It requires the Spirit to be active in us to understand the things of God.  Trusting God.  Living by faith.  And that will require us to act in a way that defies natural reasoning.  There is a saying, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  But we must not worry about what is in our hand and, instead, listen to and obey the Voice in the burning bush. CHARLEY

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Jesus Was Not Spiritually Bulletproof And Neither Are You

My Utmost For His Highest
Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you… —John 12:35
“The moment you forsake the matter of sanctification or neglect anything else on which God has given you His light, your spiritual life begins to disintegrate within you. […] If you say you are sanctified, show it. […] Our Lord said, “…unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). In other words, you must be more moral than the most moral person you know. You may know all about the doctrine of sanctification, but are you working it out in the everyday issues of your life? Every detail of your life, whether physical, moral, or spiritual, is to be judged and measured by the standard of the atonement by the Cross of Christ.”  CHAMBERS
Spiritual struggle is something that we will face until we are with the Lord.  The battle that is fought in the heavenlies is also fought in the heart.  I have often wondered why the Lord did not make us impervious to temptation.  Why did He not make us “spiritually bullet proof”?  He could have. But then Jesus was also subject to that same spiritual battle.  We just don’t think  about Jesus in that way.  Oh, we know about His spending 40 days in the desert to be tempted (Matthew 4:1-11), but we don’t think much about His day to day living.  Jesus, the man, did not have a spiritual force field that God switched off when Jesus was tempted by Satan.  And so it is with us.  (Romans 8:29) “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”  We are to be like Jesus .. that is God’s intent .. His design . .His plan.
You are faced with the reality of living in this world even though your citizenship is in heaven. (Philippians 3:20-21)  “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”  In the meantime, we must persevere and let the light of Christ shine through us.  Not that we can do that on our own, but by being obedient to His Word by the power of the Spirit as a result of our faith in Jesus.  (Ephesians 6:10-12) “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” And so let your light shine.  CHARLEY

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Depth Of Your Peace Depends Upon The Strength Of Your Faith

My Utmost For His Highest
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you… —John 14:27
“Are you severely troubled right now? […] Then look up and receive the quiet contentment of the Lord Jesus. Reflecting His peace is proof that you are right with God, because you are exhibiting the freedom to turn your mind to Him. If you are not right with God, you can never turn your mind anywhere but on yourself. […] With regard to the problem that is pressing in on you right now, are you “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) and receiving peace from Him? If so, He will be a gracious blessing of peace exhibited in and through you. But if you only try to worry your way out of the problem, you destroy His effectiveness in you, and you deserve whatever you get. […]  Lay everything out before Him, and when you are faced with difficulty, bereavement, and sorrow, listen to Him say, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:27).” CHAMBERS
The depth of your peace is dependent upon the strength of your faith.  The stress you feel has two sources.  First is from the outside.  Circumstances that you have no control over.  The second, from the inside.  Consequences of actions you have taken or have failed to take. Either way, stress or the lack of peace will take its toll.  It can make you sick.  It can affect your relationships.  Your sleep. It is not good, but then you already know that don’t you.  It’s not a question of whether or not you will encounter stress, but how you will respond to it.  Paul wrote to the Philippian church (Philippians 4) that they should pray about everything and “the peace of God will keep their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” In other words, in times of trouble … look to God.  Perhaps He will intervene in the trouble and resolve it, but more likely you will have to ride it out.  But, regardless of what is happening on the outside, you can be at peace on the inside.  The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is manifested in the Christian because of the presence of the Spirit not because of the determination or willfulness of the Christian.  Now here is the challenge.  Very often when you need God the most, you want Him the least.  For the same reason that Adam and Eve hid in the Garden, we hide from Him as well.  Thinking that we have to deal with life on our own.  And we once did, but not anymore.  CHARLEY
It Is Well - Horatio G. Spafford
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!— My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Essence Of Faith Is Also The Problem With Faith

My Utmost For His Highest
I have called you friends… —John 15:15
“We will never know the joy of self-sacrifice until we surrender in every detail of our lives. Yet self-surrender is the most difficult thing for us to do. […] When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, our greatest desire is to lay down our lives for Jesus. Yet the thought of self-sacrifice never even crosses our minds, because sacrifice is the Holy Spirit’s ultimate expression of love.  Our Lord is our example of a life of self-sacrifice, and He perfectly exemplified Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do Your will, O my God….” […] Beware of letting your natural desires hinder your walk in love before God.”  CHAMBERS
(Luke 22:42) “Not My will but Your will be done..”  Jesus said that to the Father as He prayed in the garden on the night He was betrayed. That is the essence of what sacrifice, laying down your life is, is all about.  Romans 12:1 says to “offer yourself as a living sacrifice”.  It is saying “no” to yourself and “yes” to God.  Just like Jesus did.  You face decisions of the will every day.  Do I choose what my flesh wants or do I put my faith in God and obey Him.  When you choose your own way, when you choose to be “conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2) If you are reading this and are thinking … I want to choose God … that is the first step.  But it is the next step that is the hard part, the place where so many fail.  You must put your faith and trust in God and obey Him even if you can’t see how it can possibly work.  That is the essence of faith and that is the problem with faith.  (Hebrews 11:1) “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  The greatest temptation is to trust in yourself and go your own way.  We do that mostly out of fear.  It never goes well. Choosing your own way and rejecting God.  But we persist in doing it and insist that it will work somehow.  Two words for you.  Stop it!  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.
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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Be Careful How You Approach God In Prayer

What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? —Matthew 7:9
The illustration of prayer that our Lord used here is one of a good child who is asking for something good. We talk about prayer as if God hears us regardless of what our relationship is to Him (see Matthew 5:45). […] Do you have to say to the Lord, “I have been irritable and cross, but I still want spiritual blessings”? You cannot receive and will have to do without them until you have the attitude of a “good child.” […] We refuse to look at the evidence that clearly indicates where we are wrong. Have I been asking God to give me money for something I want, while refusing to pay someone what I owe him? Have I been asking God for liberty while I am withholding it from someone who belongs to me? Have I refused to forgive someone, and have I been unkind to that person? Have I been living as God’s child among my relatives and friends? (see Matthew 7:12). I am a child of God only by being born again, and as His child I am good only as I “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). For most of us, prayer simply becomes some trivial religious expression, a matter of mystical and emotional fellowship with God. […] There is no use praying unless we are living as children of God. Then Jesus says, regarding His children, “Everyone who asks receives…” (Matthew 7:8). CHAMBERS
(James 4:2-4) “… You do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  So often we live our lives the way we want, patronizing God on Sunday morning, demanding that He prove Himself to us by bailing us out of jams and satisfying our lust for the things of this world. Sound harsh? It is the cold truth.  How dare we think that we can barge into the presence of God and demand that He do what we want.  We don’t get to make the rules of our relationship nor do we get to decide what is best for us. 
We need to wake up! When we come into the presence of the Creator God we must remember that it is only because of Jesus that we can.  It is only because of God’s grace and mercy that we are His children and can ask even for a crumb of bread.  How dare we approach a holy God with unclean hearts and dirty hands.  (Psalm 24:1-4) “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.”  Think about it the next time you look about and cry out, make certain your heart is right first.  CHARLEY

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Prayer Is Not An Option - It Is Fundamental To Your Spiritual Health

My Utmost For His Highest
When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. —Matthew 6:6
“Prayer is an effort of the will. After we have entered our secret place and shut the door, the most difficult thing to do is to pray. We cannot seem to get our minds into good working order, and the first thing we have to fight is wandering thoughts. The great battle in private prayer is overcoming this problem of our idle and wandering thinking. We have to learn to discipline our minds and concentrate on willful, deliberate prayer.[…] Having a secret stillness before God means deliberately shutting the door on our emotions and remembering Him. God is in secret, and He sees us from “the secret place”— […] Enter into “the secret place,” and you will find that God was right in the middle of your everyday circumstances all the time. Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything.”  CHAMBERS
Jesus would withdraw from the disciples to pray. (Mark 1:35) “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”  Before the day took hold of Him, He spent time with the Father.  It was necessary for Him and it is necessary for us.  WE should treat our relationship with God as if it is real .. because it is.  At my work, we are in cubicles.  Everybody can hear everything that is said.  There is no privacy.  But there are times when I need to talk to someone, alone, uninterrupted.  I have a lab that I use for testing computers, so I go in there.  In the same way, we must take time to talk to God, alone, without interruption.  Jesus gave us the example.  The Bible is replete with encouragement for us to pray.  Prayer is spending time with God.  Why would you not?  In the same way that God has given us His Word, He has told us to pray.
God’s Word teaches, corrects, rebukes, and trains us in righteous living (2 Timothy 3:16) and yet, we treat the Word as if it is a book of suggestions.  If God has said pray, there is a very important reason.  In Ephesians 6, after we put on the full armor of God, we are told to pray.  In Philippians 4 we are told to pray to God.  God loves us and desire to have a relationship with us.  That includes communication.  Prayer is a supernatural act.   (Romans 8:26-27) “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”  The Father hears us because of Jesus and what we can’t say or don’t even know to say, the Holy Spirit helps us.  Stop treating prayer as if it is an option … it is an absolute necessity to a healthy Christian life.  CHARLEY

Monday, August 22, 2016

You Cannot Live Your New Life On Your Own

My Utmost For His Highest
I indeed baptize you with water…but He…will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. —Matthew 3:11
“Jesus cannot come and do His work in me as long as there is anything blocking the way, whether it is something good or bad. When He comes to me, am I prepared for Him to drag every wrong thing I have ever done into the light? […] When I repent, I realize that I am absolutely helpless, and I know that through and through I am not worthy even to carry His sandals. Have I repented like that, or do I have a lingering thought of possibly trying to defend my actions? The reason God cannot come into my life is that I am not at the point of complete repentance.”  CHAMBERS
When John the Baptist was baptizing people in the Jordan River, it was a baptism of repentance.  The people had a desire to turn from their sins and draw close to God.  But that baptism did not bring salvation. It was not permanent. Baptize means to be identified with.  When we are baptized by the Holy Spirit we are identified with Jesus.   (John 14:16-17) “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;  that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”  The Spirit was part of God’s plan.  Something happened in the Garden, the spiritual nature in man, died.  To be properly restored to God, there needed to be a sacrifice and there needed to be a Spiritual rebirth, a restoration if you will.  While we walk this earth, we need the Spirit in us to maintain spiritual life which enables us to connect spiritually with God.  By the Spirit, through the Son.  On the day of salvation, we are sealed by the Spirit.  (Ephesians 1:13-14) “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”
When Nicodemus came to Jesus seeking answers about eternal life, what did Jesus say to him?   (John 3:5-6) “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”   Christian, do you understand what an amazing thing happened to you when you were born again?  What was broken in the Garden by Adam, was restored on the cross by Jesus, established by faith and sealed through the Spirit. Oh that we would live each day with an awareness of our new life.  Don’t be content with living the way you formerly did before Jesus. You have been saved to a much greater life.  But you can only live it successfully by the power of the Spirit in you.  He is our Helper.  Why would God give us a Helper?  Because we need one.  Stop trying to live your new life on your own.  You were never intended to.  It’s an impossibility.  CHARLEY

Saturday, August 20, 2016

How Do You Spell Relief -- J-E-S-U-S

My Utmost For His Highest
…and I will give you rest. —Matthew 11:28
“Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once, asking Him to re-establish your rest. Never allow anything to remain in your life that is causing the unrest. Think of every detail of your life that is causing the disintegration as something to fight against, not as something you should allow to remain. Ask the Lord to put awareness of Himself in you, and your self-awareness will disappear. Then He will be your all in all.”  CHAMBERS
You can search the internet and find “easy steps” for just about everything.  But you won’t find “easy steps” to face the problems that life brings.  There are essentially two types of problems.  Those brought on by outside circumstances and those brought on because of something you did or didn’t do.  Those circumstances bring consequences.  Those consequences bring worry, sorrow, heartache, the list goes on.  There is a heaviness of spirit that comes upon you.  It’s life draining.  It’s pervasive in that it can affect every aspect of your life.  Without Jesus, often times people turn to things that mask the heaviness, but those solutions only create more problems.  There is only one step that you can take that will lighten your load .. that will relieve the strain … turn to Jesus.  The solution is supernatural.  The solution requires faith.
So what happens?  When you turn to Jesus, you stop trusting in yourself for the solution.  The truth is that removing the weight you feel is beyond you.  (1 Peter 5:7) “Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.” There is a spiritual transaction that takes place when you stop trusting yourself and trust God. (Proverbs 3:5-6) It cannot be explained.  It can’t be duplicated by following 5 easy steps.  (Matthew 11:28-29) “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  So you will be in the midst of the storm and you will be at rest.  Do you remember the story about Jesus calming the waves?  (Luke 8:22-25)  Jesus was sleeping in the boat and the disciples were awake and certain they were going to die.  Jesus at rest (sleeping) and the disciples panicked.  What was the difference?  Do you remember what Jesus asked them?  “Where is your faith?”  He might ask us the same question.  No matter what comes our way, we can persevere in Christ.  CHARLEY

Friday, August 19, 2016

Take Your Anything And Your Everything To The Lord

My Utmost For His Highest
Come to Me… —Matthew 11:28
“God intends for us to live a well-rounded life in Christ Jesus, but there are times when that life is attacked from the outside. Then we tend to fall back into self-examination, a habit that we thought was gone. Self-awareness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of our life in God, and self-awareness continually produces a sense of struggling and turmoil in our lives. Self-awareness is not sin, […] Yet it is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. […] Beware of allowing the influence of your friends or your circumstances to divide your life. This only serves to sap your strength and slow your spiritual growth.”  CHAMBERS
(Matthew 14:28-32)  ““Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.”  Self-awareness.  Trusting in yourself when you are facing a situation that requires supernatural intervention.  Peter was walking on the water while he was focused on Jesus.  An impossibility in terms of natural laws of this world.  And when Peter focused on the natural, when he lost focus on the Lord, the natural took over and he did what everyone else on this planet would do if they tried to walk on water .. he sank.
It was not until Peter refocused on Jesus did Peter overcome the natural.  Something that is often over looked is that “they climbed into the boat” together.  They walked back to the boat together.  Peter did not suddenly fund the strength inside himself to get through his trouble.  He did it in the company of Jesus.  When you find yourself in a situation that is bigger than you are, look to Jesus.  Self-awareness most often leads to fear, anxiety.  (Philippians 4:6-7) “Don’t be anxious about anything but in everything with pray and thanksgiving … take your “anything” and “everything” to the Lord” (slightly paraphrased).  Jesus may not take you out of the storm, but He will walk with you through it.  ELGIN

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Making The Right Choice

My Utmost For His Highest
When he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. —Luke 18:23
“Has God’s Word ever come to you, pointing out an area of your life, requiring you to yield it to Him? Maybe He has pointed out certain personal qualities, desires, and interests, or possibly relationships of your heart and mind. If so, then you have often been speechless with sorrow. The Lord will not go after you, and He will not plead with you. But every time He meets you at the place where He has pointed, He will simply repeat His words, saying, “If you really mean what you say, these are the conditions.”[…] That is where the battle is truly fought— in the realm of your will before God. […] What Jesus says is difficult— it is only easy when it is heard by those who have His nature in them. Beware of allowing anything to soften the hard words of Jesus Christ.”  CHAMBERS
“Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1)  That is the question that Satan asked Adam and Eve.  Fueling the desire to do what they thought best. Encouraging them to redefine their relationship with God.  You know what happened and if you have forgotten, you might want to read Genesis again.  There are consequences for obeying and for disobeying.  Choosing God’s best or living with the result of choosing your own way.  I am not suggesting that choosing to obey God means you will avoid trouble in your life.  Following Jesus is not about that. We tend to think of our spiritual life in terms of the physical.  Not getting sick.  Having money to pay our bills.  Avoiding death even.  What that reveals is that we lack an eternal perspective.  Listen, the disciples met horrible deaths .. so their faith .. their time with Jesus did not prevent that.  There must be a bigger story than the 70 or 80 years you walk on this planet.  And there is.  You faith has both present and eternal value.  Your faith gives you the perseverance to live this life, manifesting the fruit of the Spirit in spite of what comes your way (Galatians 5: 22-13) and hope for the future with the confidence that there is more waiting just beyond the horizon.
There is something going on, supernaturally, that we do not fully understand, and won’t this side of heaven.  You can consider the actions of the rich young man in two ways.  In one instance, he was at the point of salvation and walked away.  In another, he was saved but struggled with wanting to cling to the things associated with his old nature.  Either way, they both require obedience to the Lord.  Giving up those things that we cling to as a way of maintaining control over our lives.  Those things that we really have faith in.  The point is, to live this new life rightly, we must put our faith wholly in Jesus.  And God really did say that!  CHARLEY

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Half-hearted Love Is At The Root Of Spiritual Defeat

My Utmost For His Highest
…Jesus…said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have…and come, follow Me." But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. —Luke 18:22-23
“Jesus did not show the least concern that this rich young ruler should do what He told him, nor did Jesus make any attempt to keep this man with Him. He simply said to him, “Sell all that you have…and come, follow Me.” Our Lord never pleaded with him; He never tried to lure him— He simply spoke the strictest words that human ears have ever heard, and then left him alone. Have I ever heard Jesus say something difficult and unyielding to me? Has He said something personally to me to which I have deliberately listened— not something I can explain for the sake of others, but something I have heard Him say directly to me? […] Our Lord knows perfectly well that once His word is truly heard, it will bear fruit sooner or later. What is so terrible is that some of us prevent His words from bearing fruit in our present life. I wonder what we will say when we finally make up our minds to be devoted to Him on that particular point? One thing is certain— He will never throw our past failures back in our faces.” CHAMBERS
“If any man comes after Me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)  Each of us faces a daily battle.  Say “yes” to Jesus or say “yes” to ourselves.  It’s not abnormal, it is very normal.  The battle of the wills.  Will I listen to Jesus or not.  You know what I mean.  (1 Corinthians 10:13) “There is no temptation but that which is common to man … “  The wealthy young man was drawn to Jesus, but he loved his wealth … his lifestyle .. his friends … his home … he loved his natural life.  To follow Jesus means that we must lay “us” down, as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) and follow Jesus.  You cannot do both.  You are deceiving yourself if you think you can.  It starts in the heart.  God spoke of David as a “man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22).  Did David have issues after he was made king?  Absolutely.  So it must not mean that you will remain sinless when you follow Jesus. But you remain yielded to God.  Even though you are influenced by the world, you remain devoted to the One who has called you. 
You must fight the battle every day.  But not on your own.  You stumble, but you are cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.  And as you grow spiritually stronger, the less you will stumble.  Can a man live a sinless life on this earth?  Only One has.  Do not be discouraged with your failings.  Be encouraged that you have been sanctified and are justified through Jesus in the sight of the Father.  If you have given your heart to the Lord, you will not be content with the natural life.  You will not be content with a life filled with unconfessed sin.  You are a child of the King.  If you are struggling today, read Psalm 51.  David was struggling, but then he remembered, because Nathan reminded him, of his relationship with and love for the Father.  And so, let me remind you. Do not be discouraged, the Lord your God is strong with a mighty arm, He will save you.  (Psalm 37:4)  CHARLEY

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Are You Willing To Let Jesus Touch You Or Are You Close Too Close For Comfort?

My Utmost For His Highest
He calls his own…by name… —John 10:3
“It is possible to know all about doctrine and still not know Jesus. A person’s soul is in grave danger when the knowledge of doctrine surpasses Jesus, avoiding intimate touch with Him. […] Have I been doubting something about Jesus— maybe an experience to which others testify, but which I have not yet experienced? The other disciples said to Thomas, “We have seen the Lord” (John 20:25). But Thomas doubted, saying, “Unless I see…I will not believe” (John 20:25). Thomas needed the personal touch of Jesus. […] When I have selfishly denied Him? (see John 21:15-17). Peter denied Jesus Christ with oaths and curses (see Matthew 26:69-75), and yet after His resurrection Jesus appeared to Peter alone. […] Do I have a personal history with Jesus Christ? The one true sign of discipleship is intimate oneness with Him— a knowledge of Jesus that nothing can shake.”  CHAMBERS
I was thinking about when I was a child and my brothers and I had misbehaved. (Hard as that might be to imagine of me!)  My Mom would sit us on the sofa with our hands folded.  We would sit on the same sofa, but would not touch each other. No way were we going to touch each other. We were on the same sofa but we could have been in different houses.  Together but not.  That is how it is with us and Jesus often times.  We are right next to Him, but we refuse to touch Him, to get too close.  We prefer to keep a respectful distance.  And we miss the abundant life that He offers.  (John 10:10) Most reading this have issues in your lives with which you are in a silent struggle.  Perhaps only the closest to you know about it and perhaps not even they know.  And yet you won’t reach out to Jesus.  (Matthew 11:28) You like knowing that He is sitting next to you, but you choose to handle things on your own.  Even when you feel as though you can’t go on another day.  Even when you are desperate for a solution, for relief, for escape.  Our faith is not notional.  It is not fanciful.  What I mean to say is that our faith is real.  The promises of God are real.  The peace and joy are ours for the taking.  But you won’t experience joy and peace if you are not willing to embrace Jesus. To be touched by Him.  CHARLEY
He Touched Me (Bill and Gloria Gaither)
“Shackled by a heavy burden, 'Neath a load of guilt and shame.
Then the hand of Jesus touched me, And now I am no longer the same.
Since I met this blessed Savior, Since He cleansed and made me whole,
I will never cease to praise Him, I'll shout it while eternity rolls.
He touched me, Oh He touched me, And oh the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened and now I know, He touched me and made me whole.”

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Dependability Of Your Spiritual Wherewithal Depends Upon Where Your All Is

My Utmost For His Highest
You must be born again. —John 3:7
“The answer to Nicodemus’ question, “How can a man be born when he is old?” is: Only when he is willing to die to everything in his life, including his rights, his virtues, and his religion, and becomes willing to receive into himself a new life that he has never before experienced (John 3:4). This new life exhibits itself in our conscious repentance and through our unconscious holiness.[…] “…unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God ” (John 3:3). Am I seeking only for the evidence of God’s kingdom, or am I actually recognizing His absolute sovereign control? The new birth gives me a new power of vision by which I begin to discern God’s control. […] “Whoever has been born of God does not sin…” (1 John 3:9). […]  1 John 3:9 does not mean that we cannot sin— it simply means that if we will obey the life of God in us, that we do not have to sin.” CHAMBERS
The trouble with living our new life in Christ, as God intended, is that we continue to cling to aspects of our old nature that we consider too hard for God or that we desire more than God.  Jesus told Nicodemus that Nicodemus must change.  That there must be a fundamental change in him … he must be reborn … die to his old nature .. everything that he trusts in and holds dear … His old life must be crucified (Galatians 2:20) and be born spiritually. Before we received our new life in Christ, just like Nicodemus, we knew there was something that we needed and we knew Jesus had the answer to what it was. (John 14:6) The answer was and is Jesus.  We spend much too much time struggling with our old nature … with sin in our lives .. because we are relying on ourselves to provide the spiritual wherewithal [cool word] necessary to overcome our old nature.. to not sin.  It will never happen.  Our success in this new life is founded on Jesus.  If we are not cultivating our relationship with Him, then we are doomed to live a life devoid of the fruit of the Spirit.  Our lives will be salted with one spiritual failure after another.  We might come to believe that our new life is not much more than a philosophy and cannot be a living reality.  Trying to live the Christian life on your own is like the difference between reading stories about Grand Canyon and actually standing on the rim, experiencing the reality of its majesty.  Take time today to site at Jesus feet and learn from Him.  You’ll be glad you did.  CHARLEY
Knowing You, Jesus
“All I once held dear, built my life upon, All the world reveres and wars to own
All I once thought gain, I have counted loss, spent an worthless now, compared to this
Knowing You Jesus, Knowing You, There is no better thing
You’re my all, You’re the best, You’re my joy and righteousness, and I love You, Lord”

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Teddy Bear Can't Help You.

My Utmost For His Highest
Do not quench the Spirit. —1 Thessalonians 5:19
“The voice of the Spirit of God is as gentle as a summer breeze— so gentle that unless you are living in complete fellowship and oneness with God, you will never hear it. […] Beware if in sharing your personal testimony you continually have to look back, saying, “Once, a number of years ago, I was saved.” […] Beware of trying to cover up your present refusal to “walk in the light” by recalling your past experiences when you did “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). […] Suppose God brings you to a crisis and you almost endure it, but not completely. He will engineer the crisis again, but this time some of the intensity will be lost. […] Never become attached to anything that continues to hurt God. For you to be free of it, God must be allowed to hurt whatever it may be.”  CHAMBERS
What is it that you continue to cling to that does not reflect your new life, but your old one.  The Spirit will speak but will you listen?  He will say “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21) But will you listen.  There are aspects of our old nature that are comfortable to us, like a child and its blanket or Teddy.  When difficulty comes, we turn to it.  It has no more power to help us than that blanket or that teddy bear.  In fact, it only makes things worse.  You know what those things are for you.  Habits, relationships.  It is not a logical, rational thing .. that would be too easy to solve.  No, it is irrational, illogical.  It’s obvious that it hurtful not helpful, but you continue to turn to it.  That is the power of the flesh, my friend.  That is what Paul wrote about (Romans 7-15,17-20,23-24).  “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. […] So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. […]  but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?"
You see, those things you turn to that only bring more trouble, that you struggle with have a spiritual source.  You must recognize them for what they are and seek a spiritual solution.  You cannot win on your own.  Resistance is futile!  Spiritual problems require spiritual solutions.  The Spirit will speak.  He will guide you, but you must yield to the Spirit and not to the flesh.  That won’t happen if you are not seeking God, but just living your life and resting in the fact that you are saved.  You are missing the life you could be living.  CHARLEY

Friday, August 12, 2016

There Is No Room For Fear In The Hearts Of Those Who Love God

My Utmost For His Highest
Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? —Matthew 8:26
“When we are afraid, the least we can do is pray to God. But our Lord has a right to expect that those who name His name have an underlying confidence in Him. God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in any crisis they are the ones who are reliable. Yet our trust is only in God up to a certain point, then we turn back to the elementary panic-stricken prayers of those people who do not even know God. We come to our wits’ end, showing that we don’t have even the slightest amount of confidence in Him or in His sovereign control of the world. To us He seems to be asleep, and we can see nothing but giant, breaking waves on the sea ahead of us.[…] it is when a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely… [Sanctification] will be expressed in our lives as a peaceful resting in God, which means a total oneness with Him. And this oneness will make us not only blameless in His sight, but also a profound joy to Him.” CHAMBERS
(1 John 4:18) “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear….. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  Are you ever fearful about anything?  Think of fear as a lack of confidence that an outcome of some event will be positive.  So you might equate worry to fear.  So what is “perfect love”?  If that is what we need so we will not fear or worry.  (Matthew 22:37) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  Perfect love is found in what should be the primary object of our love.  If we are so focused on the Lord.  If we have placed our faith fully in Him, truly.  Where “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus and His righteousness … on Christ the solid rock I stand .. all other ground is sinking sand.”  If that is where our love is placed, then there is no room for fear.  Every circumstanced will be framed with our knowing that God is in control.  Jesus said “
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  That does not mean that you won’t suffer loss, heartache, disappointment, sickness in this life.  It does mean that in Christ, we can stand in the midst of it.  And in doing that, not only do we find peace and joy, but God is glorified and the world sees Jesus in us. So what are you facing today that threatens to take you breath away.  Look to the hills from whence your help cometh! CHARLEY
Psalm 121 (My Grandmother’s favorite Psalm)
“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever."

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Spending Time With The Lord Is Not Mysterious It Is Miraculous

My Utmost For His Highest
Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha…saw him no more. —2 Kings 2:11-12
“It is not wrong for you to depend on your “Elijah” for as long as God gives him to you. But remember that the time will come when he must leave and will no longer be your guide and your leader, because God does not intend for him to stay. Even the thought of that causes you to say, “I cannot continue without my ‘Elijah.’ ” Yet God says you must continue.” CHAMBERS
It’s OK to have a favorite preacher, teacher, pastor, or even devotional writer.  Their teaching may inspire you, encourage you, comfort you. But, that should not and must not be a substitute for personal worship, prayer and study.  Their words may illuminate, but they cannot give life.  Only God can do that.  Elisha followed Elijah until the Lord carried Elijah away (1 Kings 19, 2 Kings 2)  But Elisha had his own call on his life to follow and serve God.  It required that Elisha have a personal relationship with God.  In a similar way, each of us must take up our mantle and walk out our faith on our own.  Not in isolation from others or from their influence, but the root of our relationship with God must be personal, private, intimate with the Him.  Our lives should be patterned after Jesus’ life.  How He related to others and how He related to the Father.  (By the way, did you know that the convention used to be that when you referred to God or Jesus, the pronouns are also capitalized?)
So what does your day and week look like?  Have you set aside time when you spend it with the Lord?  There is nothing mysterious about that time, but there is something miraculous about it.  Is it your desire to be able to stand in the times of trouble and hardship?  You can’t and won’t do that solely in the power of the words of other men and women.  But you can and will in the power of the word of the Lord.  Spend time alone with God … it’s the best investment you will ever make.  CHARLEY
In The Garden
“I come to the garden alone While the dew is still on the roses  
And the voice I hear falling on my ear  The Son of God discloses.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice,  Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,  
And the melody that He gave to me  Within my heart is ringing.
I'd stay in the garden with Him Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe His voice to me is calling.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.”