Monday, October 31, 2016

Not Everything Is A Test Of Faith, But Everything Tests Your Faith

My Utmost For His Highest
If you have faith as a mustard seed…nothing will be impossible for you. —Matthew 17:20
“We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith, and it may be so in the initial stages. But we do not earn anything through faith— faith brings us into the right relationship with God and gives Him His opportunity to work. […] God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of emotional enjoyment of His blessings. The beginning of your life of faith was very narrow and intense, centered around a small amount of experience that had as much emotion as faith in it, and it was full of light and sweetness […] Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried. […] Never confuse the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, because a great deal of what we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. Faith, as the Bible teaches it, is faith in God coming against everything that contradicts Him— a faith that says, “I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.” The highest and the greatest expression of faith in the whole Bible is— “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).”  CHAMBERS
Not everything is a test of faith in life – but everything tests your faith.  We live in a fallen world.  Our new nature is under constant strain. (Galatians 5:17) “the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”  It is a daily struggle.  To walk in the newness of life is an exercise of faith.  We must look to God and not ourselves to live rightly.  He is the source of our strength.  We often hear “my faith was really tested today”, but I would submit that your faith is always tested.  If you don’t exercise faith then you will drift back to the place you do not want to go.  Faith is dependence on and assurance in God.  God must be your motivation in all things.  Otherwise something else will be, that is, your old nature, the flesh.  (Hebrews 10:37-39) “For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”  (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.”  ELGIN
I’m Pressing On The Upward Way
I’m pressing on the upward way, New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I onward bound, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
My heart has no desire to stay Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound, My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
I want to live above the world, Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound, The song of saints on higher ground.
I want to scale the utmost height And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till rest I’ve found, “Lord, lead me on to higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up, and let me stand By faith on Canaan’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found, Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Jesus Loves Me This I Know, But Why Does He Love Me?

My Utmost For His Highest
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. —2 Corinthians 5:21
“The modern view of the death of Jesus is that He died for our sins out of sympathy for us. Yet the New Testament view is that He took our sin on Himself not because of sympathy, but because of His identification with us. He was “made…to be sin….” Our sins are removed because of the death of Jesus, and the only explanation for His death is His obedience to His Father, not His sympathy for us. We are acceptable to God not because we have obeyed, nor because we have promised to give up things, but because of the death of Christ, and for no other reason. We say that Jesus Christ came to reveal the fatherhood and the lovingkindness of God, but the New Testament says that He came to take “away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).” CHAMBERS
Here is something to think about.  John 3:16 says “God” loved us so God sent His Son.  It does not say Jesus asked the Father to send Him because of Jesus love for us. Bear with me.  So Jesus didn’t come out of motivation of love for us, but out of motivation to obey the Father. It was because of the Father’s love that Jesus came.  Now we also know that Jesus and the Father are one. John 17:21, John 10:30 It was the love for the Father that was Jesus’ motivation. (This is my opinion and you may not find it written anywhere) That is not to say that Jesus does not love us.  John 15:13 “No greater love has one man than this, but to lay down his life for his friends.”  But the motivation for going to the cross was obedience.  The love of the father flowed through the life of the Son.  1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”  And so, like Jesus, when we love God first that love will flow from us toward other people.  Matthew 22:37-39 What we do in this world should be in the context of obedience to the Father, made possible by the sacrifice of the Son, and the indwelling of the Spirit.  And like Jesus, we offer ourselves as living sacrifices out of obedience to the Father. Romans 12:1 The word “Father” means source.  And God the Father is the Source of all things – all means all.  Can I hear a Hallelujah and an Amen.  ELGIN

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Possibility And Quality Of Your New Life Is Found In Jesus

My Utmost For His Highest
If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. —Romans 5:10
“When I turn to God and by belief accept what God reveals, the miraculous atonement by the Cross of Christ instantly places me into a right relationship with God. And as a result of the supernatural miracle of God’s grace I stand justified, not because I am sorry for my sin, or because I have repented, but because of what Jesus has done. The Spirit of God brings justification with a shattering, radiant light, and I know that I am saved, even though I don’t know how it was accomplished. The salvation that comes from God is not based on human logic, but on the sacrificial death of Jesus. We can be born again solely because of the atonement of our Lord. Sinful men and women can be changed into new creations, not through their repentance or their belief, but through the wonderful work of God in Christ Jesus which preceded all of our experience (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-19).”  CHAMBERS
That is not to say that we are not saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9) because we are.  The point is that it is because of Jesus that we can be saved. (Romans 10:9) “Confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God (the Father) raised Jesus from the dead” and because of what was done for you, supernaturally, you will be saved eternally.  Your salvation is made possible by Jesus and secured by faith, not works.  The health of your spiritual life is dependent upon the source of that spiritual life – Jesus.  You cannot distance yourself from Him and try to be a good Christian on your own.  It doesn’t work that way (John 17: 20-23) “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  (James 4:8)  Spend some time with Jesus today.  ELGIN

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Why Do You Do What You Do - Really

My Utmost For His Highest
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations… —Matthew 28:19
“Jesus Christ did not say, “Go and save souls” (the salvation of souls is the supernatural work of God), but He said, “Go…make disciples of all the nations….” Yet you cannot make disciples unless you are a disciple yourself. […] Jesus said, in effect, “Don’t rejoice in successful service— the great secret of joy is that you have the right relationship with Me” (see Luke 10:17-20). […]  the challenge comes from the perspective of the [Christian’s] own personal relationship with Jesus Christ— “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28). Our Lord unwaveringly asks us that question, and it confronts us in every individual situation we encounter. The one great challenge to us is— do I know my risen Lord? Do I know the power of His indwelling Spirit? Am I wise enough in God’s sight, but foolish enough according to the wisdom of the world, to trust in what Jesus Christ has said? Or am I abandoning the great supernatural position of limitless confidence in Christ Jesus” CHAMBERS
What is it that fuels your heart?  That motivates you? You love for Jesus or your love for yourself?  Oh I know what the “correct” answer is.  But it’s not what you say, but what you do that demonstrates where you place your confidence.  “Not I but Christ lives in me … The life that I now live I live by faith in the Son” (Galatians 2:20) And when we do, well, supernatural things happen, first in us and then around us.  “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) What things?  Supernatural – biblical things.  A pitfall for many Christians is thinking that serving God, living right can be scripted.  I can give you a list of steps to follow, some ritual to adhere to and “poof” you will be a “good” Christian.  The only way that you can be successful as a Christian is be maintaining a close relationship with the Lord.  Everything else springs forth from that .. well everything that has eternal value that is.  So how is it with you and the Lord?  ELGIN

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

We Need To Help Others, Just Like Jesus Did

My Utmost For His Highest
Jesus said to them again, "…As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." —John 20:21
“The great controlling factor [in our serving] is not the needs of people, but the command of Jesus. The source of our inspiration in our service for God is behind us, not ahead of us. […] The goal is to be true to Him— to carry out His plans.  […]  the great danger is that God’s call will be replaced by the needs of the people, to the point that human sympathy for those needs will absolutely overwhelm the meaning of being sent by Jesus. The needs are so enormous, and the conditions so difficult, that every power of the mind falters and fails. We tend to forget that the one great reason underneath all [service] is not primarily the elevation of the people, their education, nor their needs, but is first and foremost the command of Jesus Christ— “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:19).”  CHAMBERS
In the face of the great needs in Haiti after the Hurricane, the struggle, the challenge, is to be clear in what exactly we are to do.  Reading some of the many posts on Facebook about Haiti, I noticed one in particular.  The point being made was that it is OK to help people but you should not make them listen to the Gospel to get a bag of rice. Think about that.  That is the epitome of the natural man’s understanding.  Our faith is nothing more than a philosophy and we should not take advantage of a person’s plight to promote a philosophy.  Philosophy is “the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence”. 
When Jesus met the woman at the well, she had need of water, Jesus offered her something eternal, a new reality. (John 4)  When Peter and John met the lame beggar at the gate (Acts 3), he wanted money .. they offered him eternal life by faith in Jesus.  Matthew 25 says that we are to help people that need help.  But we are also told that while we are going (Matthew 28), while we are serving, while we are living out our lives, we are to make disciples.  The two go together.  The person who wrote about our not sharing the Gospel as we help others is struggling with the reality of Jesus.  The person does not understand that we cannot make someone believe the Truth, but we must share the Truth. We certainly would not withhold help until someone made a profession of faith.  But just as certainly we will tell everyone we meet about the One who sent us.  Jesus has shown us the way … "…As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." —John 20:21.  We need to be found faithful in our going.  ELGIN

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

If Contentment Seems Out Of Reach, You Are Not Close Enough To Jesus

My Utmost For His Highest
I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. —1 Corinthians 9:22
“A Christian worker has to learn how to be God’s man or woman of great worth and excellence in the midst of a multitude of meager and worthless things. Never protest by saying, “If only I were somewhere else!” All of God’s people are ordinary people who have been made extraordinary by the purpose He has given them. […] “I chose you…” (John 15:16). Keep these words as a wonderful reminder in your theology. It is not that you have gotten God, but that He has gotten you. God is at work bending, breaking, molding, and doing exactly as He chooses. And why is He doing it? He is doing it for only one purpose— that He may be able to say, “This is My man, and this is My woman.” We have to be in God’s hand so that He can place others on the Rock, Jesus Christ, just as He has placed us.” CHAMBERS
Ugh! Do you mean that where I am – what I am doing – is within the sovereignty of God? That He can accomplish His purpose through me even though I think there might be a better place for me to be or a better thing for me to be doing? Yes!  When I start thinking there must become mistake, I could be much more useful f I was someplace else doing something else, I have shifted focus off of God and have returned my focus to myself. Instead of praying “Lord use me for Your glory.”, I am praying “Lord get me out of here!”  Something wrong with that picture.  It’s strange that I find it much easier to let God use me in a very hard place, like a disaster area, than a comfortable place  like I find myself in now.  In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul wrote “ I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him (Christ) who gives me strength.” Lasting contentment experienced no matter what the situation is a spiritual condition, not a natural one.  It starts in the heart.  If someone is not content in Christ, it doesn’t matter how much money they have, how many possessions they have … natural contentment is elusive .. just out of reach … supernatural contentment is as close to you as Jesus is.  ELGIN

Monday, October 24, 2016

What To Do When You Feel Like A Grasshopper

My Utmost For His Highest
Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ… —2 Corinthians 2:14
“The proper perspective to maintain is that we are here for only one purpose— to be captives marching in the procession of Christ’s triumphs. […] How small all the other perspectives are! For example, the ones that say, “I am standing all alone, battling for Jesus,” or, “I have to maintain the cause of Christ and hold down this fort for Him.” […] It was Paul’s joy to be a captive of the Lord, and he had no other interest in heaven or on earth. It is a shameful thing for a Christian to talk about getting the victory. We should belong so completely to the Victor that it is always His victory, and “we are more than conquerors through Him…” (Romans 8:37). “We are to God the fragrance of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 2:15). We are encompassed with the sweet aroma of Jesus, and wherever we go we are a wonderful refreshment to God.”  CHAMBERS
Something that I forget too easily is that it is not me, but Christ in me.  (Galatians 2:20) I have done a number of things in the cause for Christ that others see as significant.  The truth is that nothing I do in His name is a product of my self-effort.  Anything that I do for Him must be done by Him.  The eternal quality of my life is from God. Not me.  At this particular moment I am trying to help the Haitian people recover from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew.  The truth is that what has happened to the people there is much bigger than I am, but not bigger than God.  If I am not careful I will start to think that I am the source of relief, but I am not, God is.  Our part in this great “play” is to be faithful … to be obedient to what we know God has called us to.  What is your Haiti? What are you facing that is overwhelming.  That makes you feel like a grasshopper in comparison?  (Numbers 13:33) Trust God.  (Proverbs 3:5-6) Be faithful and obedient.  That is challenge enough without trying to be God too, don’t you think? I do. ELGIN
I Surrender All
All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live.
I surrender all.  I surrender all.
All to Thee my blessed savior.  I surrender all.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Living The Supernatural Life In A Natural World

My Utmost For His Highest
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith… —Jude 20
“We do not need the grace of God to withstand crises— human nature and pride are sufficient for us to face the stress and strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God— but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people— and this is not learned in five minutes.” CHAMBERS
Supernatural living in a natural world.  That is what we are born again into, a supernatural life.  Does that language seem strange when you read it?  (Galatians 2:20) “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet, not I but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  The supernatural life is one that is totally dependent upon the One who saved us.  For most of us, the events that we face in life are not any different from those the people around us who are living natural lives. We face the same things.  Do the same things.  Work in the same places.  Suffer through the same tragedies of life. But that is where the similarity ends and the difference begins.  The difference between the natural and the supernatural, the Spirit of God.  You, Christian, have at your disposal the power of the Almighty.  You do not have to face this life alone.  You have the power to stand when others fall.  You can endure with confidence when others wither under the pressures that this mortal life brings. And why so confident?
(Romans 8:31-39) “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.  Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”  That’s why !  ELGIN

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Living Like You Were Set Apart For God's Purpose - Because You Are

My Utmost For His Highest
This is the will of God, your sanctification… —1 Thessalonians 4:3
“Sanctification is not a question of whether God is willing to sanctify me— is it my will? Am I willing to let God do in me everything that has been made possible through the atonement of the Cross of Christ? Am I willing to let Jesus become sanctification to me, and to let His life be exhibited in my human flesh? (see 1 Corinthians 1:30). Beware of saying, “Oh, I am longing to be sanctified.” No, you are not. Recognize your need, but stop longing and make it a matter of action. Receive Jesus Christ to become sanctification for you by absolute, unquestioning faith, and the great miracle of the atonement of Jesus will become real in you.[…] Sanctification makes me one with Jesus Christ, and in Him one with God, and it is accomplished only through the magnificent atonement of Christ. Never confuse the effect with the cause. The effect in me is obedience, service, and prayer, and is the outcome of inexpressible thanks and adoration for the miraculous sanctification that has been brought about in me because of the atonement through the Cross of Christ.” CHAMBERS
In general sanctification means to be in "the state of proper functioning." To be set apart for the use intended by our designer.  And so we are sanctified .. set apart from the world , the culture, we live in to accomplish the purpose for which we were created.  (Ephesians 2:10) “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  Another word for sanctification is holiness.  (1 Peter 1:15-17) “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth”  Did you catch that?  Since we have been set apart, we must conduct ourselves in fear – with respect toward the Father.  That means that we should be intentional about how we live, what we say, what we think, where we go, what we do. 
Our lives should point people to the Creator.  They should reflect Jesus.  Please don’t think, “oh no, that can’t be me”.  It is you my friend.  We are all the same, with the same expectation placed upon us.  From Billy Graham all the way down the line to you and me.  (Ephesians 4:4-6) “Therefore I [Paul], the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”  So what are you waiting for an invitation?  You got something better – a Savior.  ELGIN

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Make Jesus Your First Resort Not Your Last One

My Utmost For His Highest
Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world." —John 18:36
“The great enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ today is the idea of practical work that has no basis in the New Testament but comes from the systems of the world. This work insists upon endless energy and activities, but no private life with God. The emphasis is put on the wrong thing. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation….For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). It is a hidden, obscure thing. An active Christian worker too often lives to be seen by others, while it is the innermost, personal area that reveals the power of a person’s life.[…] The central point of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others.[…] You have no idea of where or how God is going to engineer your future circumstances, and no knowledge of what stress and strain is going to be placed on you…..”  CHAMBERS
Perhaps one of the most difficult things for us Christians is to live in the awareness of our spiritual nature.  We know about the Spirit in us.  We know about salvation through Jesus and His place at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22; Revelation 3:21; Matthew 22:44; Acts 2:33), yeah that’s right there are a lot of references to that!  We know those things but we do not really live with an awareness of them.  When the Messiah came, Israel  was looking for an earthly king who would free them from their enemies.  Someone who would do what they wanted done.  Just like before when they asked Samuel for a king, they were not focused on the eternal but the temporal. (1 Samuel 8:4-5)
My point is that it is the nature of our flesh to focus on the natural.  Jesus said His kingdom was not natural.  Because the natural man cannot understand the spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:14) everything is understood in the context of the natural.  So it is misinterpreted.  Misunderstood. Misguided.  The people trying to understand are mistaken.  All too often that is true for Christians as well.  We are so focused on the natural that we trivialize the spiritual to the point of insignificance.  And we miss Jesus.  Please do not treat your spiritual nature as if it was some parenthetical – oh by the way – aspect of your life. Christian, it is who you are – it is what we should look to primarily, not as an afterthought.  Have you ever said “Maybe we should pray”?  There is no maybe about it.  Turning to the Lord should be our first resort not our last. ELGIN

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pledging Your Allegiance Must Be More Than Words

My Utmost For His Highest
…they went forth for His name’s sake… —3 John 7
“Our Lord told us how our love for Him is to exhibit itself when He asked, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:17). And then He said, “Feed My sheep.” In effect, He said, “Identify yourself with My interests in other people,” not, “Identify Me with your interests in other people.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 shows us the characteristics of this love— it is actually the love of God expressing itself. The true test of my love for Jesus is a very practical one, and all the rest is sentimental talk. Faithfulness to Jesus Christ is the supernatural work of redemption that has been performed in me by the Holy Spirit— “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” (Romans 5:5). […] The key to the [Christians] devotion is that he is attached to nothing and to no one except our Lord Himself. It does not mean simply being detached from the external things surrounding us. […]  to concentrate on keeping his soul completely and continually open to the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. ….  ordinary human people, but people who are controlled by their devotion to Him, which has been brought about through the work of the Holy Spirit.”  CHAMBERS
When I was in grade school, each morning the class would say the pledge of allegiance to the United States.  Not so much anymore.  Today we have become more accommodating of people with other allegiances.  The true test of allegiance, which is another word for devotion, is how the life is lived and not what words are said.  And so it is with the Christian life.  Jesus asks us the same question that He asked Peter.  “Do you love Me?”  Judas followed Jesus for three years and then betrayed Him.  What was up with that? Well, a lot actually, but that is for another time.  The point is that saying the pledge of allegiance doesn’t make you faithful to your country.  It is a question of the heart.  Are you willing to take the next step .. to lay down your life for your country?  For what you say you believe in. (John 15:13) “No greater love has one man than this, that he lay down his life”  (for what he loves). 
If we have “pledged our allegiance” to God, then we love God with all of our heart .. there is not room for anything else.  And that love is expressed toward others.  (1 John 4:19) “We love because God first loved us.”  Jesus was essentially saying to Peter .. “If you love Me then love My sheep”. Peter would later discover that it was not just Jewish sheep, but Gentile sheep as well.  God demands complete devotion with the expectation that our devotion to Him will be expressed to others.  Sometimes at great personal sacrifice.  Like the rich young ruler, (Luke 18:18-23) we cannot make up our own heavenly rules.  Design our own path to purity and heaven.  Jesus is saying, give up your devotion to everything except me … offer yourself as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) and follow Him … wherever that leads.  ELGIN

Monday, October 17, 2016

Prayer Is Essential To Your Spiritual Health

My Utmost For His Highest
…I say to you, he who believes in Me,…greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. —John 14:12
“Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work. Yet we think of prayer as some commonsense exercise of our higher powers that simply prepares us for God’s work. In the teachings of Jesus Christ, prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me, which produces the miracle of redemption in others, through the power of God. […] Prayer is the battle, and it makes no difference where you are. However God may engineer your circumstances, your duty is to pray. Never allow yourself this thought, “I am of no use where I am,” because you certainly cannot be used where you have not yet been placed. Wherever God has placed you and whatever your circumstances, you should pray, continually offering up prayers to Him.” CHAMBERS
Prayer is an essential discipline of our faith.  It is something that is unnecessary before your rebirth.  You are your own god, going your own way. But after your rebirth, you are a child of the God of heaven.  You have entered into a divine relationship that must be sustained through prayer.  It is the means by which we express ourselves to the Father.  How we relate to Him.  Prayers rise up from the heart and are expressed in thoughts or perhaps audible words.  Speaking our prayers is not necessary for God to hear you, but hearing a prayer prayed by another may be helpful to the saint. There are no prescribed words that you must say.  You don’t need to pray in King James English. It’s a conversation with your Father.  We make it more difficult than it is, I think. 
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1) Jesus said essentially acknowledge the Father for who He is and let Him know what is on your heart.  But somehow that has  morphed  into prescriptive prayer.  Congregations pray the Lord’s prayer, which is OK, but I don't think Jesus meant to literally repeat that prayer.  Books are written and classes are taught on how to pray. The essence of the Bible’s teaching on prayer is this. 1. Pray all of the time. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) 2. Pray about whatever troubles you. (Philippians 4:6-7) 3. Pray for each other (James 5:16). 4. Pray for those who treat you poorly. (Luke 6:28)   The point is that prayer is to be part of what we do as Christians.  It is not an option.  If you don’t pray you limit your relationship with the Father.  Refusing to talk to Him (not praying) is sin -whoa! Ok think about it, I have given you scripture references that address the issue of prayer .. it’s not my opinion.  All scripture is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16).  The Word reveals God’s intent for His creation (us).  He gives instruction and we do something else.  That my friend is the essence of sin.  We must be serious about prayer. ELGIN

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Proclaim The Gospel By How You Live And How You Love

My Utmost For His Highest
He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. —1 John 2:2
“The key to the missionary’s message is the propitiation of Christ Jesus— His sacrifice for us that completely satisfied the wrath of God. […] The greatest message of limitless importance is that “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins….” The missionary’s message is not nationalistic, favoring nations or individuals; it is “for the whole world.” When the Holy Spirit comes into me, He does not consider my partialities or preferences; He simply brings me into oneness with the Lord Jesus.[…] He is not to proclaim his own point of view, but is only to proclaim “the Lamb of God.” It is easier to belong to a faction that simply tells what Jesus Christ has done for me, and easier to become a devotee of divine healing, or of a special type of sanctification, or of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But Paul did not say, “Woe is me if I do not preach what Christ has done for me,” but, “…woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). And this is the gospel— “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”” CHAMBERS
When I first read the Chamber’s devotion, I wondered how it might apply to those who have not been called to be a missionary, separated from out for a specific purpose.  But then I thought about the fact that we have all been called out for a specific purpose.  We don’t live our lives just for ourselves and our own benefit.  We may not be preachers in that we stand before the people and verbally proclaim the Gospel, but we are preachers in that we live before the people and our lives should preach the Gospel.  People should see us as being a people are for Jesus and not just against sin and the ills of the culture we live in.  If all we have to offer a world that is headed for hell is condemnation, then we have nothing to offer.  If we live our lives exactly like the lost culture we live in does, then we have nothing to offer.  What the world needs is Jesus.  We need to show the world Jesus, in how we live and how we love.  We need to preach the Gospel by living our lives submitted to the Spirit and obedient to the Word.  Christians have been relegated to just being another sect.  Just another group of people who believe certain, outdated things.  Our light has lost its shine.  Our salt has lost it saltiness.  Our message, that Jesus saves, has been drowned out by the louder voice of the culture.  The world needs to see the difference Jesus can make … the world needs to see changed lives … and we are the only ones who can show them.  Preach the Gospel Christian.  ELGIN

Friday, October 14, 2016

How To Have Joy When There Seems To Be No Joy Around

My Utmost For His Highest
Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…" —Matthew 28:18-19
““Go therefore….” To “go” simply means to live. Acts 1:8 is the description of how to go. Jesus did not say in this verse, “Go into Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria,” but, “…you shall be witnesses to Me in [all these places].” He takes upon Himself the work of sending us. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you…” (John 15:7)— that is the way to keep going. Where we are placed is then a matter of indifference to us, because God sovereignly engineers our goings. “None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus…” (Acts 20:24). That is how to keep going until we are gone from this life.” CHAMBERS
I have shared this before, but it bears sharing again. When we were in Mississippi, after Hurricane Katrina, a volunteer asked me if I liked being in there.  We were in the middle of a disaster area.  There was no joy, only sorrow among the people. Destruction surrounded us, every day for years. That question gave me pause to think.  I had never considered whether I liked doing what I was doing, being where I have being.  After some reflection, I answered  …. “There is nothing better than being in the center of God’s will for your life.  Geography has nothing to do with it. So, I love being in Mississippi.”  We often tend to look at our circumstances as a problem.  Here I am dealing with whatever, it is difficult, it is distasteful, it is discouraging.  But in spite of that, we are salt and light.  Our purpose is to bring glory to God and point the lost to Jesus.  It doesn’t matter where you are in life.  A butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker,  a housewife, a worker, a husband, a father, it doesn’t matter.  You must be faithful where you are. You are on a mission, whether you think you are or not.  (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.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Martie and I were physically and emotionally exhausted when we left Mississippi.  The Lord had us to rest beside a stream for a season and then sent us to Haiti.  Strength for this new life can only be found in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Don’t lose hope (Isaiah 35:4-8)  “Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you.” Then the eyes of the blind will be opened And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah. The scorched land will become a pool And the thirsty ground springs of water; In the haunt of jackals, its resting place, Grass becomes reeds and rushes. A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness.”
Don’t lose heart in the midst of difficulty.  “Look to the hills from whence your help cometh … [your] help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121)  ELGIN
He Will Come And Save You  Bob Fitts
Say to those who are fearful hearted  Do not be afraid
The Lord your God will come  And with His mighty arm
When you call on His Name  He will come and save you
Say those who are broken hearted Do not lose your faith
The Lord your God will come And with His loving hand
When you call on His Name  He will come and save you
He will come and save you  He will come and save you
Say to the weary one Your God will surely come
He will come and save you He will come and save you
Lift up your eyes to Him  You will arise again
He will come and save you

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

You Can't Succeed Serving God Without His Preparation and Power

My Utmost For His Highest
…when Moses was grown…he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. —Exodus 2:11
“Moses saw the oppression of his people and felt certain that he was the one to deliver them, and in the righteous indignation of his own spirit he started to right their wrongs. After he launched his first strike for God and for what was right, God allowed Moses to be driven into empty discouragement, sending him into the desert to feed sheep for forty years. At the end of that time, God appeared to Moses and said to him, “ ‘…bring My people…out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go…?’ ” (Exodus 3:10-11). In the beginning Moses had realized that he was the one to deliver the people, but he had to be trained and disciplined by God first. He was right in his individual perspective, but he was not the person for the work until he had learned true fellowship and oneness with God.” CHAMBERS
There is a pattern that I have seen on the lives of those God has called.  You can see it clearly in the Bible.  God calls, He prepares and then He sends.  Many people have the problem of skipping over the preparation part.  They know what God said and they do it.  In Moses' case, he killed an Egyptian.  That forced him to flee and it was during that time, that God prepared Moses for his mission.  In my own life, near the end of hurricane Katrina work in Mississippi, people were telling us that we needed to go to Haiti, largely because of the earthquake.  In fact, some said we should go immediately.  As it turned out, we ended up going back to Alabama where we served with another ministry that worked with orphans.  We did that for almost a year. 
Then God connected us to a ministry in Haiti that proved to be the place that God had been preparing us for.  Not only did we use the gifts and relationships that we developed in Mississippi, but during that year we also developed a heart for orphans which proved to be key to our work in Haiti.  The point .. don’t get ahead of God.  You cannot do something God has called you to do apart from God’s preparation and power.  It is an impossible task.  Any gains you might make will be for your glory and not His.  You must be willing to wait on God.  During that time, you might be challenged in your faith and confidence. But be patient.  God has a purpose and a plan.  “Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 40:31) Teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait!  ELGIN

The Importance Of Walking With God - Just You And The Lord

My Utmost For His Highest
Enoch walked with God… —Genesis 5:24
“The true test of a person’s spiritual life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the ordinary times when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening. A person’s worth is revealed in his attitude toward the ordinary things of life when he is not under the spotlight (see John 1:35-37 and John 3:30). It is painful work to get in step with God and to keep pace with Him […] Spiritual truth is learned through the atmosphere that surrounds us, not through intellectual reasoning. It is God’s Spirit that changes the atmosphere of our way of looking at things, and then things begin to be possible which before were impossible.”  CHAMBERS
The true test of a Saint is not what happens in front of others, but what happens when no one is around.  Or at least we think no one is around.  You know that when you are born again, God puts His Spirit in you as a seal (Ephesians 1:13-14), as the only source of spiritual power.  You are virtually, no actually, the temple of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Corinthians 6:19).  You are never alone.  Be careful that you don’t think that God is just waiting to catch you in a sin.  God has given us His Spirit so we can walk with Him .. pure and holy … To put a twist on a verse “It is not the outside of a cup (or person) that makes it clean” (Matthew 23:25-26)  God cleans us up from the inside – out. 
I have noticed that people .. family and acquaintances .. who are not Christians or who are not walking out their faith, are careful how they talk around Martie and me.  They change their language, even what they do, apparently in deference to their awareness of our faith.  What they don’t know is that, although we appreciate not hearing the words, or seeing the behavior, it is their hearts that we are concerned about.   What it speaks to is their spiritual ignorance.  They are blind to the truth.  They are concerned about what we think when they should be most concerned about what God, the righteous judge, thinks. But I digress.  If you want to live your new life to the extent that God intends, then you need to develop your relationship with the Lord.  You do that, primarily, one on one with Him.  If you are not spending time with the Lord, alone, your walk will be fragile.  Your spiritual success will be more dependent people, events, and circumstances than an intimate relationship with the Lord. ELGIN
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  'Tho 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

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

When God's Silence Should Be Enough Of An Answer

My Utmost For His Highest
When He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. —John 11:6
“Has God trusted you with His silence— a silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer? God will give you the very blessings you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? […] The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. […] If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy— silence.” CHAMBERS
Is it possible for you to sit in a room with your spouse and neither of you say a word and yet there is a closeness that can only come from an intimate relationship with each other.  I am not referring to the spouse who never speaks, but those times when words are not necessary, the presence of each other’s company is rich and satisfying.  And if it is not possible, I pray that it will be some day. 
When God is silent, when He does not respond to your prayer there are three possibilities.  First, you have approached God with sin on your heart.  Like Jesus told Peter, (John 13:10) we don’t need our whole body washed again, just our feet. You need to “wash your feet” before you attempt to stand in the presence of a holy God. (1 John 1:9) Second, you have asked God to help you satisfy your lust for something.  (James 4:2-3) “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” Third, God has answered with “no” or “wait”. (John 11:6)  The question is how do we respond to His silence? Are we willing to accept God’s answer or do we resent Him for not giving us what we want?  Is God’s silence enough of an answer? Or do you demand more?  Is your life typified by “Lord give me what I want or else!” or are you like the tax collector?
(Luke 18:9-14)  “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’  “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  As Christians, God has already given us more than we deserve, answered prayer, no matter how it's answered, is icing on the cake. ELGIN

Monday, October 10, 2016

Climbing Up The Slippery Slope With A Smile On My Face

My Utmost For His Highest
Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father…that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes." —Matthew 11:25
“All of God’s revealed truths are sealed until they are opened to us through obedience. You will never open them through philosophy or thinking. But once you obey, a flash of light comes immediately. […] The only way you can get to know the truth of God is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. If you obey God in the first thing He shows you, then He instantly opens up the next truth to you. You could read volumes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when five minutes of total, uncompromising obedience would make things as clear as sunlight. Don’t say, “I suppose I will understand these things someday!” You can understand them now. And it is not study that brings understanding to you, but obedience. Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours. Yet God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already. […] “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know…” (John 7:17).” CHAMBERS
Our new life is one of faith not of understanding.  It is not necessary, in fact it is spiritually deadly, to insist upon understanding what is required of you before you obey what God requires of you.  As Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again”. Jesus was saying, “Nicodemus, you will not find God and eternal life in study, but only by faith and obedience to His revelation.” That being that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6) And so it is for you and me.  An inescapable truth.  Our new life blossoms only in the context of the our obedience not our understanding.  If you make “knowing” and condition of “doing”, you will never “do” anything.  That is contrary to the natural life, but then God’s ways – the Spiritual life – are not our ways – the natural life. (Isaiah 55:8) 
If I could film the Christian life it would not be skipping through a field of flowers.  Butterflies flitting around my head.  Soft music playing in the background.  Blue sky.  White clouds.  The sun shining. 80 degrees with 60% humidity. Well you get the idea. Instead it would be one of climbing a steep trail up a mountain.  Full of obstacles.  Scraping my hands and knees as I slip and fall on the trail.  It’s cold.  The rain is falling.  I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.  The thunder rolls.  Yet, I get back up.  I look up toward my goal, not my present circumstance.  I persevere and I find inner strength.  My journey is a difficult one, but I have joy in my heart, even a smile on my face.  Who I am and whether or not I have confidence and hope is not diminished by the difficulty of the journey.  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. Press on, keep your eyes on Jesus and obey His voice. (John 14:23)  CHARLEY
I’m pressing on the upward way, New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I onward bound, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
My heart has no desire to stay Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound, My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
I want to live above the world, Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound, The song of saints on higher ground.
I want to scale the utmost height And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till rest I’ve found, “Lord, lead me on to higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up, and let me stand By faith on Canaan’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found,   Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.