Friday, September 30, 2016

Make Certain That You Are Running In The Right Race

My Utmost For His Highest
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church… —Colossians 1:24
“To be a holy person means that the elements of our natural life experience the very presence of God as they are providentially broken in His service. We have to be placed into God and brought into agreement with Him before we can be broken bread in His hands. Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.”  CHAMBERS
Some years ago, Pastor Rick Warren wrote a book entitled “The Purpose Driven Life”.  For a season it was the “rage” in the Christian community.  Rick Warren captured the essence of God’s call to every Christian.  The book began with the sentence “It’s not about you.”  The “it” is your life – God’s plan and purpose.  But for most Christians “it” is about them.  They spend their lives trying to live right, worship right, get right.  Their spiritual energy is focused on themselves.  Their goal is to be holy for themselves, when God’s purpose is that they be holy for Him.  As Martie and I are re-integrated into this culture, it is clear that the priority of most Christians is not showing the world Jesus.  The race that they are running is not the “holy marathon” (Hebrews 12:1-2) “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Instead, many Christians have lined up with the culture to run a race of futility.  The elusive trophy being financial prosperity and easy living.  Rick Warren summarized the Christian life when he wrote that we are planned for God’s pleasure, formed for God’s family, created to become like Christ, shaped for serving God, and made for a mission. That does not line up well with what we see happening in the Church in the United States today.
Believe it or not, I would prefer to not be the one who bears hard truth.  I would love it if all I shared was happy thoughts.  Instead the Lord has given me a ministry reminding the Church of what should be and warning the Church of what shouldn’t be, but, unfortunately, is.  It is our nature to be drawn to the physical and natural when, in truth, we have been saved into the super-natural.   We have got to stop trying to live this new life on our own. We must constantly check ourselves, lest we fall. ELGIN
Take My Hand, Precious Lord
Precious Lord, take my hand Lead me on,  Let me stand  I'm tired, I am weak I am worn
Through the storm, through the night  Lead me on through the light  
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home
When my way grows drear precious Lord linger near  When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry,  Hear my call  Hold my hand lest I fall  Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Acknowledge, Accept And Embrace The Purpose God Has Destined You For

My Utmost For His Highest
…for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! —1 Corinthians 9:16
“See where you have put your own ideas of service or your particular abilities ahead of the call of God. Paul said, “…woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” He had become aware of the call of God, and his compulsion to “preach the gospel” was so strong that nothing else was any longer even a competitor for his strength. If a man or woman is called of God, it doesn’t matter how difficult the circumstances may be. God orchestrates every force at work for His purpose in the end. If you will agree with God’s purpose, He will bring not only your conscious level but also all the deeper levels of your life, which you yourself cannot reach, into perfect harmony.”  CHAMBERS
Perhaps you have not been called to preach or to go on the mission field, but each Christian has a place—a purpose in the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:7) “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” Each of us has a part.  The question is, what is that part.  You will hear the Holy Spirit will tell you, if you are listening.  But if you allow the natural  life to drown out the voice of the Spirit or if you choose to say “no” to God, then you will miss your divine purpose.  Can you imagine, the God of the universe has something for you and you say no, I don’t want to do that.  It could be as “simple” as being salt and light for Jesus in your home, neighborhood or workplace.  Not everyone is called to be a preacher .. someone has got to sit in the pews.  But everyone has a place in the body and a purpose.  You need to acknowledge it, accept it, and embrace it.  (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.”  ELGIN

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How To FInd The Peace You Have Been Looking For

My Utmost For His Highest
Jesus…said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor…and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." —Mark 10:21
“The rich young ruler had the controlling passion to be perfect. […] Jesus’ primary consideration is my absolute annihilation of my right to myself and my identification with Him, which means having a relationship with Him in which there are no other relationships. Luke 14:26 has nothing to do with salvation or sanctification, but deals solely with unconditional identification with Jesus Christ. Very few of us truly know what is meant by the absolute “go” of unconditional identification with, and abandonment and surrender to, Jesus. […] If you are hard and vindictive, insistent on having your own way, and always certain that the other person is more likely to be in the wrong than you are, then there are whole areas of your nature that have never been transformed by His gaze.[…] I must essentially renounce possessions of all kinds, not for salvation (for only one thing saves a person and that is absolute reliance in faith upon Jesus Christ), but to follow Jesus. “…come…and follow Me.”” CHAMBERS
The young man had defined what it meant to be “good enough” to go to heaven.  To have eternal life.  He was absolutely certain that he had checked all of the boxes.  But Jesus, who saw his heart, knew that the most important thing, the place where relationships with God must start is this … the man did not love God more than other things.  He did not trust God more than other things.  In this case money and possessions.  We are willing to do a lot of things to be religious, but to be a follower means that we must surrender everything, not just a lot of things.  We must surrender that one thing that we find so hard to give up, trust in ourselves.  This new life we live is all about faith.  Do I have enough faith to follow Jesus wherever  He might lead me?  Or do His plans conflict with my plans.  God is constantly interrupting the events in our lives, it seems.  Just when we think we have it figured out and are settling into the comfort of knowing, God shows up.  He says “follow Me this way”.  Ugh!  The way is uncertain.  We can’t see very far ahead and we want to.  Such is the life of faith.  But …. when we decide to rest in Him.  When we stop trusting in ourselves … we find the peace we have been looking for. (Matthew 11:28-30) “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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.” ELGIN

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Your Devotion May Not Be Bad But It May Be Harmful

My Utmost For His Highest
…someone said to Him, "Lord, I will follow You wherever You go." —Luke 9:57
“Our Lord’s attitude toward this man was one of severe discouragement, “for He knew what was in man” (John 2:25). […]  If the Spirit of God brings to your mind a word of the Lord that hurts you, you can be sure that there is something in you that He wants to hurt to the point of its death. Luke 9:58. These words destroy the argument of serving Jesus Christ because it is a pleasant thing to do. And the strictness of the rejection that He demands of me allows for nothing to remain in my life but my Lord, myself, and a sense of desperate hope. He says that I must let everyone else come or go, and that I must be guided solely by my relationship to Him. And He says, “…the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” […]  We put our sense of loyalty to our relatives ahead of our loyalty to Jesus Christ, forcing Him to take last place. When your loyalties conflict, always obey Jesus Christ whatever the cost.” CHAMBERS
We listen to the words people say, but God sees the heart.  Jesus could see the hearts of the three men He responded to.  (Luke 9:57-62) The first needed assurance that he would have some place to come back to.  The second had greater commitment to the affairs of this world.  The third had greater affection for his family.  None of those things are inherently bad. But, if they keep you from Jesus, then they are eternally harmful. So many people want to cling to the natural in their yearning for the supernatural.  Like Lot’s wife. (Luke 17:30-33; Genesis 19:26) “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.” 
I have seen so many Christians turn to look back.  Perhaps some did not have true faith, like the parable of the seed (Matthew 13), I don’t know. But is saddens me to know what they are missing.  Probably the greatest sadness is when it is someone in your family.  They act one way when you are around and quite another when you are not.  That behavior shouts of their spiritual ignorance.  It is not me that they should be concerned with, but God who judges the heart and who is always present.  People, Christian or not, might hide their sinful ways from you or one another, but they cannot be hidden from God. The very thing they need they turn away from to embrace an imitation.  It is interesting the Jesus did not chase after them, but let them go their own way.  We can’t see the heart of man, so we continue to hope that one day, they will turn their hearts toward God.   ELGIN

Monday, September 26, 2016

You Can't Stand Before A Holy God With Sin In Your Heart

My Utmost For His Highest
If you…remember that your brother has something against you… —Matthew 5:23
“This verse says, “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you….” It is not saying, “If you search and find something because of your unbalanced sensitivity,” but, “If you…remember….” In other words, if something is brought to your conscious mind by the Spirit of God— “First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:24). Never object to the intense sensitivity of the Spirit of God in you when He is instructing you down to the smallest detail.[…]  Jesus does not mention the other person— He says for you to go. It is not a matter of your rights. The true mark of the saint is that he can waive his own rights and obey the Lord Jesus.” CHAMBERS
It’s all about the heart.  Loving God with all your heart (Matthew 22:37).  The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.  You cannot present yourself before God, Jesus has given you access through the Cross, but you cannot stand before a holy God with unclean hands and an unclean heart.  (Psalm 24:3-4) “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 …” Jesus saves, but that does not give you freedom to sin as you will and approach God with an expectation that He will ignore your heart.  If you think that and do that, you have lost an appreciation for who God is and who you are.  If you have offended someone, it wasn’t because you were demonstrating the love of God toward them.   But there may be an occasion when others are offended because of your faith, it is not you, but the “rock of offense” (1 Peter 2:7-8) “This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner stone,” and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”;”  If that is the case, it is they who must be reconciled to God.  The point is this … don’t trivialize your sin … get your heart right before you approach God .. whatever that means in your circumstance.  ELGIN

Friday, September 23, 2016

How To Respond When You Love Someone And Get No Gratitude In Return

My Utmost For His Highest
He…said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem…" —Luke 18:31
““A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Matthew 10:24). In other words, the same things that happened to our Lord will happen to us on our way to our “Jerusalem.” There will be works of God exhibited through us, people will get blessed, and one or two will show gratitude while the rest will show total ingratitude, but nothing must divert us from going “up to [our] Jerusalem.””  CHAMBERS
I saw a post on Facebook that said “you’ll end up real disappointed if you think people will do for you as you do for them.  Not everyone has the same heart as you.”  (Matthew 22:37-39) says love God and love others.  It is not a conditional love for others.  The love we show toward others is motivated out of our love for God.  (1 John 4:19) “We love because He [God] first loved us.”  The problem we have is that often times we love others so they will love us back.  That is a dysfunctional relationship and almost always leads to heartbreak.  Men and women desperate for love will often develop relationships that are unhealthy out of hope that in the midst of what is not right about the relationship they might find love.  And if that relationship does not yield what they long for, they try another one.  But what they long for will never be found where they are looking.
On the other hand, people serve others expecting gratitude from those served and become bitter when gratitude doesn’t come. Perhaps to the point bitter to the point of becoming angry with God and stop doing what they have been called to do.  If you want affirmation that you have value.  If you want to know that you are loved.  Stop looking around and look up.  ELGIN
How Deep The Father’s Love For Us  Stewart Townshend
How deep the Father's love for us,  How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son  To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,  The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,  Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross,  My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,  Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that left Him there  Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life  I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything  No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ  His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?  I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart  His wounds have paid my ransom

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Don't Turn A Deaf Ear Toward God . .You Need To Listen

My Utmost For His Highest
You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am ….I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master… —John 13:13, 16
“You call Me Teacher and Lord…”— but is He? Teacher, Master, and Lord have little place in our vocabulary. We prefer the words Savior, Sanctifier, and Healer. The only word that truly describes the experience of being mastered is love, and we know little about love as God reveals it in His Word. […] If we are consciously aware that we are being mastered, that idea itself is proof that we have no master. If that is our attitude toward Jesus, we are far away from having the relationship He wants with us. He wants us in a relationship where He is so easily our Master and Teacher that we have no conscious awareness of it— a relationship where all we know is that we are His to obey.”  CHAMBERS
I had a conversation with one of our children some years ago.  I was talking about their obedience concerning a certain matter.  To make a point, I told them that the people I worked for were really gullible.  I said “You know what they pay me all of this money to do?  They pay me to give them advice.  Isn’t that crazy?  I mean, you know my advice is not any good, and they actually pay me for it! Are they gullible or what?”  The child got my point.  They were choosing to go their own way and ignore what I had to say as if I was telling them something that would lead to their harm.  (Matthew 7:9-11) “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” 
God is the Creator.  He is the source of all wisdom.  Yet, we treat what He says as if it has not value.  We have a better way.  Think about that for a minute.  You were born with the desire to go your own way.  It is only when you surrender that desire will you experience the “abundant life” in Christ.  Recognize your disobedience for what it is … sin.  Listen, in your new life you have an opportunity that the lost do not, but you will never experience the fruit of that new life if you insist in turning a deaf ear toward God. What is He saying to you today? You need to listen and then do what He says.  For your own good.  ELGIN

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Choosing A Place Far Away, That Was Not God's Choice, It's Ours

My Utmost For His Highest
Now the Lord says, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant… —Isaiah 49:5
“The first thing that happens after we recognize our election by God in Christ Jesus is the destruction of our preconceived ideas, our narrow-minded thinking, and all of our other allegiances— we are turned solely into servants of God’s own purpose. The entire human race was created to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Sin has diverted the human race onto another course, but it has not altered God’s purpose to the slightest degree. And when we are born again we are brought into the realization of God’s great purpose for the human race, namely, that He created us for Himself. […] He demands absolute righteousness from His servants, because He has put into them the very nature of God.”  CHAMBERS
Do you know someone, might be a friend, a relative, perhaps a child or maybe even you that you wished a good life filled with the joy of the Lord, but they chose another path.  One of misery, heartache, disappointment, and trouble.  (Jeremiah 29:11) “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”  God has a plan but He has given us a free will.  The ability to choose His way or some other way.  No amount of my wanting will change the course of another once chosen.  Only God’s intervention and a yielded heart will do that.  It’s a spiritual problem that manifests itself in the physical and, as such, requires a spiritual solution.  With respect to children, we watch the struggle and pray for a new day in their lives. When the father looked down the road in the hopes that the prodigal son would return, the father did not go to look for the son and try to convince him to return.  He waited in hope.  So our Father waits in hope and so should we.  If there is one thing that having children does, it teaches you to look up.  And if it’s you that has gone your own way … traveled far from the course that God has set out for you … then I say .. repent and return to the Father.  There is no better place to be. But until there is a spiritual revelation and surrender, it will remain a place far away.  ELGIN

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Can You Say "If You Have Seen Me, You Have Seen Jesus"?

My Utmost For His Highest
…be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. —Matthew 5:48
“The example our Lord gave us here is not that of a good person, or even of a good Christian, but of God Himself. “…be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” In other words, simply show to the other person what God has shown to you. And God will give you plenty of real life opportunities to prove whether or not you are “perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Being a disciple means deliberately identifying yourself with God’s interests in other people. Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). The true expression of Christian character is not in good-doing, but in God-likeness. If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit divine characteristics in your life, not just good human characteristics. God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as human life trying to be godly. The secret of a Christian’s life is that the supernatural becomes natural in him as a result of the grace of God, and the experience of this becomes evident in the practical, everyday details of life, not in times of intimate fellowship with God.”  CHAMBERS
(John 14:7-10) “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”  Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?”  When people see you … what you say and do … not in church .. but in the world … who do they see?  Do they see Jesus or do they see just another fellow traveler struggling to make do? We are to be indistinguishable (that is quite a word) from Jesus.  There was a popular saying some years ago, WWJD, What Would Jesus Do.  Great question, but it falls short of where God wants us to be.  We shouldn’t have to ask ourselves, “How should I behave?” in a certain situation.  Our response should flow from the heart as naturally as the breath from our lungs.  Our lives are to reflect Jesus all the time.
Do you think that is too much, too lofty a goal?  The bar has been set too high? Of course it is!  You can’t be the fragrance of Christ on your own.  (2 Corinthians 2:15) “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing”  It is supernatural.  Stop thinking it is something you must do by mustering up sufficient determination to do it.  You cannot.  (Galatians 2:20) “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  People will see Jesus on the outside when Jesus is allowed to be Jesus on the inside. And not until then.  ELGIN

Monday, September 19, 2016

Understanding The Spiritual Nature Of Temptation And Sin

My Utmost For His Highest
You are those who have continued with Me in My trials. —Luke 22:28
“Watch when God changes your circumstances to see whether you are going on with Jesus, or siding with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We wear His name, but are we going on with Him? “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66). […] Are we remaining faithful to the Son of God in everything that attacks His life in us? Are you going on with Jesus? […] The way is lonely and goes on until there is no longer even a trace of a footprint to follow— but only the voice saying, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19).”  CHAMBERS
I see it every day in others .. I experience it every day in myself … the temptation to go our own way. When we first left the Army, we moved to a farm.  We had a herd of 20 cows.  Having never been around large animals, there was a lot to learn.  How to move 20 cows to a place of my choosing was one of the lessons.  What I learned was that if I could create the impression that where I wanted them to go is where they wanted to go, moving them to that place was much easier.  Tempting them to go where their instincts led them.  Giving them the impression that it was better than where they were.  And so we are tempted in the same way.  We make choices that appear to be the best for us, even though they are contrary to what we know is best.  We see an opening and we take it.  Like the cows, we have forgotten what happened the last time.  We minimize the risk and focus on the relief .. which seldom comes .. and if it does, it is fleeting.
Do you find yourself stuck in a cycle of making bad choices?  Of going to the wrong place in life? Have you stopped following Jesus in favor of going with the herd?  Two words.  STOP IT!  Easy to say you are thinking.  Temptation and sin have spiritual roots that are manifested in the natural.  You can’t be successful in changing the course of your life simply by trying harder.  You know that already don’t you?  It is the doing that is our challenge. Success is dependent upon our spiritual health.  Reading the Word (Joshua 1:8) , praying (James 5:16) , interacting with other Christians (Proverbs 27:17) do not make the temptations go away.  But they are sources of spiritual strength and do help us stand against them.  ELGIN

Saturday, September 17, 2016

With The Thrill Of Temptation Comes The Agony Of Sin

My Utmost For His Highest
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man… —1 Corinthians 10:13
“The word temptation has come to mean something bad to us today, but we tend to use the word in the wrong way. Temptation itself is not sin; it is something we are bound to face simply by virtue of being human. […] Yet many of us suffer from temptations we should never have to suffer, simply because we have refused to allow God to lift us to a higher level where we would face temptations of another kind.[…] …  temptation fits the true nature of the person being tempted and reveals the possibilities of his nature. Every person actually determines or sets the level of his own temptation, because temptation will come to him in accordance with the level of his controlling, inner nature. […] Temptation is something that confuses me for a while, and I don’t know whether something is right or wrong. When I yield to it, I have made lust a god, and the temptation itself becomes the proof that it was only my own fear that prevented me from falling into the sin earlier.”  CHAMBERS
Temptation is something that I really don’t want to think about, but something that I deal with every day.  It is like a seed that is planted.  If I choose to water it, to cultivate it, to let it become the focus of my attention, then it will bear fruit which is sin. Temptation is the opportunity to choose a way other than the way the God has provided.  There is a thrill that comes with it.  That thrill is a stirring of our flesh that delights in disobedience.  Yielding to temptation brings a momentary inner relief from the battle.  You give in to what you know is wrong because you don’t have the spiritual strength to do what you know is right.  God provided a way to escape temptation, if you choose to take it.  All too often what people want is a promise they won’t go to hell, not a provision to live a new life in victory over temptation and sin.  Do you say I have tried but I can’t?  That is the problem.  You don’t have the natural ability to prevail against a supernatural struggle.  But you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. (Philippians 4:13)  ELGIN

Friday, September 16, 2016

Prayer - An Essential So Simple But So Hard To Do

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… —Matthew 6:6
“The primary thought in the area of religion is— keep your eyes on God, not on people. Your motivation should not be the desire to be known as a praying person. Find an inner room in which to pray where no one even knows you are praying, shut the door, and talk to God in secret. Have no motivation other than to know your Father in heaven. It is impossible to carry on your life as a disciple without definite times of secret prayer. […]  Prayer is coming into perfect fellowship and oneness with God. If the Son of God has been formed in us through regeneration (see Galatians 4:19), then He will continue to press on beyond our common sense and will change our attitude about the things for which we pray.”  CHAMBERS
Prayer is a vital part of our new life in Christ.  Prayer is essential to our spiritual health, and yet most of us treat it as if it is only necessary if we want something.  Like a drive through at a restaurant. Just place the order and keep moving.  Listen … the Word is God speaking to us and prayer is us speaking to God.  It is curious to me at how we approach prayer.  Not so much anymore, but for years when people were asked to pray in church they immediately slipped into King James English, is if there is a right prayer vocabulary.  You don’t think in King James English and you certainly don’t talk to your friends that way.  God sees the heart.  The Spirit prayers along with us (Romans 8:26) “…. the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words”  The Disciples asked Jesus how to pray. (Luke 11:1) The Lord’s prayer has been dissected and analyzed in some many way.  I think Jesus intended that to be simple.  Jesus said 1) Acknowledge God for His sovereignty, 2) The rightness of His will and purposes in Heaven and earth. 3) Ask God to meet our needs in this life.  4) Ask God to forgive us for our sinful ways.  5) Help us to avoid temptation and the sin that it inevitably leads to.
Prayer, like reading the Word, is a spiritual discipline.  It takes a deliberate action on our part.  It is not just for times of trouble.  Living the Christian life rightly is dependent upon it.  It is by being faithful in your personal connection with God  that is the key to your spiritual health.  Effective prayer is not dependent upon eloquence but simply on purity of heart.  ELGIN
He Knows My Name
“I have a Maker He formed my heart Before even time began My life was in hands
I have a father He calls me his own He'll never leave me No matter where I go
He knows my name  He knows my every thought He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call”

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Don't Be Statisfied With A Form Of Godliness - God Has More For You Than That

My Utmost For His Highest
We have renounced the hidden things of shame…  —2 Corinthians 4:2
“Have you “renounced the hidden things of shame” in your life— the things that your sense of honor or pride will not allow to come into the light? You can easily hide them. Is there a thought in your heart about anyone that you would not like to be brought into the light? Then renounce it as soon as it comes to mind— renounce everything in its entirety until there is no hidden dishonesty or craftiness about you at all. Envy, jealousy, and strife don’t necessarily arise from your old nature of sin, but from the flesh which was used for these kinds of things in the past (see Romans 6:19 and 1 Peter 4:1-3). You must maintain continual watchfulness so that nothing arises in your life that would cause you shame.” CHAMBERS
(2 Corinthians 10:5) “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” We must be careful when we read devotions and even the Bible that we treat them like some source of self-help.  Certainly we must take action on truth – that is called obedience – but we must stop treating our new life like it is one-in-the-same as our old life.  If you could not live life rightly on your own before you were a Christian, what makes you think that you can now.  When you are admonished to renounce or take captive … it is in the context of your new life led and empowered by the Spirit and fueled by faith.  What you can do is make the decision to yield to God and not yourself.  That is a matter that must be resolved in the heart.  If you are having a problem with living a double life … the form of godliness but denying the power that comes from God (2 Timothy 3:5) “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power”, repent. 
We all struggle with the tension between our old nature and the new.  We all try to live our new life in our own power to some level.  The result is a life that falls short of what God has intended for us.  Being religious and being a Christian is not the same.  The former depends on you, the latter depends upon God.  The former actually keeps you at a distance from God, the latter draws you close to God.  The former is pleasing to men, the latter pleases God.  (Matthew 6:1) “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”  The former brings failure and the latter victory.  So why do we prefer the former … because we lack the faith necessary for the latter. Those who have ears, let them hear.  Those who have eyes let them see.   ELGIN

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

It's Time To Open Your Eyes And Lean On Jesus

My Utmost For His Highest
the simplicity that is in Christ.  —2 Corinthians 11:3
“You cannot think through spiritual confusion to make things clear; to make things clear, you must obey. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual matters you will only think yourself into further wandering thoughts and more confusion. If there is something in your life upon which God has put His pressure, then obey Him in that matter. Bring all your “arguments and…every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” regarding the matter, and everything will become as clear as daylight to you (2 Corinthians 10:5). Your reasoning capacity will come later, but reasoning is not how we see. We see like children, and when we try to be wise we see nothing (see Matthew 11:25).”  CHAMBERS
(Ephesians 1:18-19) “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”  Paul wrote that we need spiritual eyesight to have understanding.  That only comes from the Spirit.  You can’t figure your new life out on your own, the result will be that you will continue to live your own life.  The triggers for spiritual understanding are faith and obedience.  A deepened faith only comes from a deepened relationship with the Lord.  That takes work .. deliberate action on our part.  Jesus didn’t say “you are coming with Me, you have no choice”.  He invited others to choose to follow Him. As I am typing these words out, songs from the past are running though my head.
“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.”  Or perhaps  “The joy I can’t explain.. Fills my soul, The day I made Jesus my king His Blessed Holy Spirit is leading my way He's teaching and I'm learning to lean.  Learning to lean, Learning to lean,  I'm learning to lean on Jesus Finding more power than I've ever dreamed  I'm learning to lean on Jesus.”
What was going on in the lives of the writers of those songs? Most people write songs from the heart and their experience.  Discovering that when you trust and obey Jesus, you find joy.  Finding that when you cast all your cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7) that you find power to go on.  It’s all true .. but those truths often go unclaimed … instead we choose to live our new live our way .. which is always the wrong way.  I pray that the eyes your heart will be opened so that you will know the hope of your calling and you will choose to walk in it.  ELGIN

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How To Stop Living A Life Of Missed Opportunities

My Utmost For His Highest
I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. —John 17:4
“True surrender is not simply surrender of our external life but surrender of our will— and once that is done, surrender is complete. The greatest crisis we ever face is the surrender of our will. Yet God never forces a person’s will into surrender, and He never begs. He patiently waits until that person willingly yields to Him. And once that battle has been fought, it never needs to be fought again.[…] He says, “If you want to be My disciple, you must give up your right to yourself to Me.” And once this is done, the remainder of your life will exhibit nothing but the evidence of this surrender, and you never need to be concerned again with what the future may hold for you. Whatever your circumstances may be, Jesus is totally sufficient (see 2 Corinthians 12:9 and Philippians 4:19). […] And after you surrender— then what? Your entire life should be characterized by an eagerness to maintain unbroken fellowship and oneness with God.”  CHAMBERS
It doesn’t matter if you are a stay-at-home mom, a business executive, you ride around on the back of a trash truck, or you are a missionary in a faraway land.  You must surrender your will to God to accomplish God’s purpose in your life.  To experience the abundant life that Jesus said is ours.  Jesus said (John 10:10) that He was bringing more life, better life than we were capable of experiencing. In 1 John 5:12 we are told that if we have Jesus, we have life and if we don’t have Jesus, we don’t have life.  The key to experiencing that life is surrender. An easy thing to think about, a hard thing to do.  The reason is that surrender requires trust and trust requires faith.  So, if you are not surrendered to the Lord it is because you  lack faith.  Until you are surrendered, you will live a life of missed opportunities.  Opportunities to experience the peace and joy, the fruit of the Spirit in your life no matter what maybe happening around you.
I just had a mental picture of that.  In one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the main villain has just had his plans upended by the good guys and his ship is being blown apart.  (The part I am referring to) The scene is where he is walking down the stairs to the deck of the ship and parts of the ship are flying all around him.  But he walks on, calmly, seemingly impervious to the calamity around him.  It is that picture that I have of the Saint, walking through life.  There is calamity all about, but the Saint walks on.  Living his life with peace and joy in spite of the challenges of living this earthly life.  You have got to give it up. What is “it”?  Your will and want to live your life on your own.”  (2 Corinthians 4:8-12) “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  So death works in us, but life in you.”  Let your light shine.  ELGIN
All To Jesus I Surrender
All to Jesus I surrender; all to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live.
All to Jesus I surrender; humbly at his feet I bow,
worldly pleasures all forsaken; take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender; make me, Savior, wholly thine;
fill me with thy love and power; truly know that thou art mine.
All to Jesus I surrender; Lord, I give myself to thee;
fill me with thy love and power; let thy blessing fall on me.
All to Jesus I surrender; now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation! Glory, glory, to his name!
I surrender all ….

Monday, September 12, 2016

Peace In The Present and Faith For The Future Because The Anchor Holds

My Utmost For His Highest
Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you ask." —Matthew 20:22
“There are times in your spiritual life when there is confusion, and the way out of it is not simply to say that you should not be confused. It is not a matter of right and wrong, but a matter of God taking you through a way that you temporarily do not understand. And it is only by going through the spiritual confusion that you will come to the understanding of what God wants for you. […] You will think that He is an unkind friend, but remember— He is not. The time will come when everything will be explained. There seems to be a cloud on the friendship of the heart, and often even love itself has to wait in pain and tears for the blessing of fuller fellowship and oneness. When God appears to be completely shrouded, will you hang on with confidence in Him?[…]  Jesus said that there are times when your Father will appear as if He were an unnatural father— as if He were callous and indifferent— but remember, He is not. […] Stand firm in faith, believing that what Jesus said is true, although in the meantime you do not understand what God is doing.” CHAMBERS
We think that we understand God and His ways until we encounter something that is contrary to our understanding.  A life event, perhaps a loss, and we ask “How could God let this happen – to me?” When life happens to us or to those we care about, do we look through the prism of our natural life and question God’s love or perhaps truthfulness?  This life on earth is a mystery.  As a Christian, I am watching the course of human events swirl around me.  Some threaten to unhinge what I thought to be right and good in our country.  Some have disrupted the very fabric our my family, the lives of my children and their children.  And I might ask, “Where is God?”  “Could not He have prevented this from happening?”  Yet, I know in my heart that He is near.  He has set eternity right through His Son.  I live in a fallen world, as does my family. 
We are subject to the seemingly random events – good and bad – that we call life.  But all of that is within the sovereignty of the Creator God.  I know that (Romans 8:28) “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Even though it doesn’t feel that way sometimes.  This natural life is really all we focus on from day to day.  But we, who are born again, we have such a glorious future. Friends, in spit of what life may bring your way, good or bad, we can have peace in the present and faith for the future.  (Philippians 3:13-15) “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  ELGIN
The Anchor Holds  -- Ray Boltz, Arthur Jackson
I have journeyed through the long dark night, Out on the open sea, by faith alone,
Sight unknown; and yet his eyes were watching me.
I've had visions, I've had dreams; I've even held them in my hand.
But I never knew they would slip right through, Like they were only grains of sand.
I have been young but I'm older now. And there has been beauty these eyes have seen.
But it was in the night, through the storms of my life, Oh, that's where God proved His love for me.
The anchor holds, Though the ships been battered.
The anchor holds, Though the sails are torn.
I have fallen on my knees as I face the raging seas.
The anchor holds in spite of the storm.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Have You Ever Told The Lord "Now Is Not A Good Time"?

My Utmost For His Highest
When you were under the fig tree, I saw you. —John 1:48
“We presume that we would be ready for battle if confronted with a great crisis, but it is not the crisis that builds something within us— it simply reveals what we are made of already. Do you find yourself saying, “If God calls me to battle, of course I will rise to the occasion”? Yet you won’t rise to the occasion unless you have done so on God’s training ground. If you are not doing the task that is closest to you now, which God has engineered into your life, when the crisis comes, instead of being fit for battle, you will be revealed as being unfit. Crises always reveal a person’s true character. […] Are you saying, “But I can’t be expected to live a sanctified life in my present circumstances; I have no time for prayer or Bible study right now; besides, my opportunity for battle hasn’t come yet, but when it does, of course I will be ready”? No, you will not. If you have not been worshiping in everyday occasions, when you get involved in God’s work, you will not only be useless yourself but also a hindrance to those around you.”  CHAMBERS
I just got off of the phone with a friend and partner in the Gospel discussing this very thing.  Most Christians have a notion of what they would do “if” they heard the call of God to do something beyond themselves. But, when they do, they respond in a different way than they imagined.  (Matthew 8:19-22) “Then a scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”  When Jesus called them, the affairs of the world rushed in presenting reasons why “now” is not a good time.  Can you imagine?  Telling God that now is not a good time … questioning God’s wisdom.  Oh, wait, that is not something new is it?  Remember the question “Did God really say?”  (Genesis 3:1) When the Spirit speaks, you must expect Satan to make a counter offer.  The next best thing to not being a Christian, from Satan’s perspective, is a Christian who is disobedient to the voice of God.
My friend has been called to serve in a very difficult place, in the U.S.  He has been serving there for a number of years with little fruit.  But, spiritual fruit is beginning to emerge.  He has asked several organizations and individuals to join him.  Initially they were interested, but, I have surmised, after they counted the personal cost, they said “now is not a good time.”  Not everyone my friend has talked to was motivated by the Spirit, but I am certain some were.  Most of us struggle with living the “normal-natural” life in the context of our faith.  When God wants to stretch us, we are not prepared.  And so we resist the call.  Have you said “no” to God because it was not convenient.  Because it would disrupt your financial plans, your idea of what living the “blessed” life would be turned on its head.  What you had been planning and working for and “sacrificing” for was now at risk because God was speaking.  And so, to the one you thank for salvation, for your life in Christ, you say “now is not a good time, call me back later.”
(Luke 9:23) “And He [Jesus] was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”  Are you ready? Really?  ELGIN

Friday, September 9, 2016

Living The Christian Life -You Can't Do It On Your Own

My Utmost For His Highest
…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ… —2 Corinthians 10:5
“So much Christian work today has never been disciplined, but has simply come into being by impulse! In our Lord’s life every project was disciplined to the will of His Father. There was never the slightest tendency to follow the impulse of His own will as distinct from His Father’s will— “the Son can do nothing of Himself…” (John 5:19). Then compare this with what we do— we take “every thought” or project that comes to us by impulse and jump into action immediately, instead of imprisoning and disciplining ourselves to obey Christ.[…] We have a tendency to forget that a person is not only committed to Jesus Christ for salvation, but is also committed, responsible, and accountable to Jesus Christ’s view of God, the world, and of sin and the devil. This means that each person must recognize the responsibility to “be transformed by the renewing of [his] mind….” (Romans 12:2)."  CHAMBERS
I was thinking about a meeting I had with some “missionaries” in Haiti a few years ago.  I put the word, missionaries, in quotes because the qualification to be on mission is that you have been given a mission from God.  There are many people who are serving, sometimes in very difficult circumstances, on the compulsion of wanting to do something good and not through the unction of the Holy Spirit.  But back to my story.  Over the course of time I had often listened to them talk about how difficult life in Haiti was for them .. on this particular occasion, I was giving a devotion at a meeting.  I told them that if God had not sent them to Haiti, then they should go home.  I realized that may have sounded unfeeling toward their struggle, but my point was this.  If you have been called by God to serve, then you have been called to something that is beyond you.  It is something you cannot do apart from God.  So, if you are trying to serve in your own strength, then you will not be able to stand up under the weight of it. God never intended for you to prove yourself by doing it without Him, but rather to prove yourself by serving with Him.  If you have not been called by God, then you should go home.
The same applies to living the Christian life.  God has given you His Spirit as a deposit, a guarantee for eternal life.  But the Holy Spirit is also the source of our spiritual strength.  God never intended that you would live your new life successfully on your own.  Jesus demonstrated the relationship we must have. “the Son can do nothing of Himself…” (John 5:19) And neither can we, but that doesn’t keep us from trying, does it?  ELGIN

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Danger Of Believing "I Can Do It Myself"

My Utmost For His Highest
…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God… —2 Corinthians 10:5
“… there are other things that have to be destroyed through violence, that is, through God’s divine strength imparted by His Spirit. […] But every theory or thought that raises itself up as a fortified barrier “against the knowledge of God” is to be determinedly demolished by drawing on God’s power, not through human effort or by compromise (see 2 Corinthians 10:4). It is only when God has transformed our nature and we have entered into the experience of sanctification that the fight begins. The warfare is not against sin; we can never fight against sin— Jesus Christ conquered that in His redemption of us. The conflict is waged over turning our natural life into a spiritual life. This is never done easily, nor does God intend that it be so. […] we have to turn that innocence into holy character through the moral choices we make. These choices are continually opposed and hostile to the things of our natural life which have become so deeply entrenched— the very things that raise themselves up as fortified barriers “against the knowledge of God.” We can either turn back, making ourselves of no value to the kingdom of God, or we can determinedly demolish these things, allowing Jesus to bring another son to glory (see Hebrews 2:10).” CHAMBERS
There are about 31,100 verses in the Bible.  I can recall or reference less than 100.  But those 100 verses have had a profound impact on my life. And so I find that I share them frequently in these writings.  I was talking to a good friend yesterday, about these devotions.  I told him that I read MUFHH and then ask God, “What would you have me say?” And then words come through my fingers onto the screen.  Just like today.  My point is that if I write anything that encourages you in your faith, give God the glory.
(2 Corinthians 5:17)  “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  In times past when I have referenced that verse, it has been in the context of conversion.  Being born again (John 3:3)  But there is more than that.  The “new things” are spiritual not natural.  The “new things” are a reflection, evidence, of my new life in Christ.  If you find that the old things are lingering, and all of us have that struggle, then it is because you have yet to yield that to the Spirit in you.  I was thinking about one of our grandchildren.  When they were very small, they would say “I can do it myself!”  We thought it was cute then. 
Well today as they struggle in life because they still want to “do it their self”  it is not cute, but rather it is heart breaking.  We all struggle with wanting to define our spiritual space.  But it is not ours to define.  (Galatians 2:20) “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  It is no longer me, but Christ.  When I try to make it me, I push the Lord aside. I quench the influence of the Spirit, who powers my spiritual nature. If you know someone who is struggling with letting God reign in their new life, I don’t think that your words will make much of a difference to them.  It is only when are ready to yield their will to the Lord, will they have ears to hear and hearts to receive the truth.  Same goes for the rest of us.  ELGIN