Wednesday, May 31, 2017

It Starts In The Heart

Jesus did not commit Himself to them…for He knew what was in man. —John 2:24-25

{CHAMBERS}  “Put Trust in God First. Our Lord never put His trust in any person. Yet He was never suspicious, never bitter, and never lost hope for anyone, because He put His trust in God first. He trusted absolutely in what God’s grace could do for others. If I put my trust in human beings first, the end result will be my despair and hopelessness toward everyone. I will become bitter because I have insisted that people be what no person can ever be— absolutely perfect and right. Never trust anything in yourself or in anyone else, except the grace of God. Put God’s Will First. “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God” (Hebrews 10:9). […] Am I allowing my natural life to be slowly transformed by the indwelling life of the Son of God? God’s ultimate purpose is that His Son might be exhibited in me.”

{ELGIN}  The difference between your desire for someone to be a certain way or want a certain thing and their desire for the same thing is called frustration.  Spiritual change happens from the inside out.  It starts in the heart.  Prisons are full of people that have their wrong behavior constrained by locked doors and prison bars.  But let many of them free from those constraints and they will go right back to the life they had been living before they went to prison.  God changes hearts.  A study in 2005 showed that 75% of prisoners released were re-arrested within 5 years.  Jesus said, “It is not the outside of the cup that makes it unclean.” (Matthew 23:25)  Just as sure as you can’t save any one, you can’t change anyone’s heart.  (Jeremiah 17:9-10) “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”  Only God knows and only God can change the heart but it requires faith on our part.  The change in a person that you so desperately want to see can only come through their faith transaction with God.  So what do you do in the meantime?  Love them like Jesus loves them, but remember, He never condoned the sin.  He confronted it and encouraged the people to repent.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

To Accept God's Call You Must Embrace The Spiritual And Abandon The Natural

Lord, I will follow You, but... —Luke 9:61

{CHAMBERS} “Suppose God tells you to do something that is an enormous test of your common sense, totally going against it. What will you do? Will you hold back? If you get into the habit of doing something physically, you will do it every time you are tested until you break the habit through sheer determination. And the same is true spiritually. […] every time you will turn back at the true point of testing, until you are determined to abandon yourself to God in total surrender. Yet we tend to say, “Yes, but— suppose I do obey God in this matter, what about…?” Or we say, “Yes, I will obey God if what He asks of me doesn’t go against my common sense, but don’t ask me to take a step in the dark.” […] Trust completely in God, and when He brings you to a new opportunity of adventure, offering it to you, see that you take it. We act like pagans in a crisis— only one out of an entire crowd is daring enough to invest his faith in the character of God.”

{ELGIN}  (Proverbs 16:9) We make plans .. God orders our steps. (Proverbs 3:3-6) Trust God don’t trust your own wisdom.  There is a principle that I have learned over time.  God never asks you to do something that you can do by yourself. You will always need God to do it.  Why? Because it is a spiritual act not a natural one.  Oh, it may have the form of the natural, but if God is in it, that is the limit of the natural, its form.

When the young man told Jesus he would follow Him but he needed to first bury his father, Jesus said let the dead bury the dead. (Luke 9:60)  When the rich young man asked about what he needed to do to have eternal life, Jesus said “sell have you have and give it to the poor”  (Mark 10:21)  The problem with obedience is the depth of our love of God and faith in God.  God asks us to abandon natural understanding and embrace the spiritual understanding.  If we did, obedience to the call of God would be natural and immediate.  You would not have to lay the fleece out six ways from Sunday before you submitted to what you knew to be God’s call the first time.

Monday, May 29, 2017

With Enough Faith You Think You Can Ask For Anything And Get It - Well, That Is Not Exactly Correct

In that day you will ask in My name…for the Father Himself loves you… —John 16:26-27

{CHAMBERS}  ““In that day you will ask in My name…,” that is, in My nature. Not “You will use My name as some magic word,” but— “You will be so intimate with Me that you will be one with Me.” “That day” is not a day in the next life, but a day meant for here and now. “…for the Father Himself loves you…”— the Father’s love is evidence that our union with Jesus is complete and absolute. Our Lord does not mean that our lives will be free from external difficulties and uncertainties, but that just as He knew the Father’s heart and mind, we too can be lifted by Him into heavenly places through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, so that He can reveal the teachings of God to us.[…] Jesus said that because of His name God will recognize and respond to our prayers.”

{ELGIN} I am certain that you have heard of the term, “Name it and claim it.”  The idea being that you can have anything you want, all you have to do is ask for it. And if you don’t get what you want, then it is because you do not have enough faith.  Frankly, I can see how people could interpret verses in the Bible that way.  “Faith like a mustard seed.” (Matthew 17:20)  “Ask anything in My name.” (John 14:14) But, those verses must be counter-balanced with “You do not have, because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.  You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” (James 4:3-4) The idea being that maybe you don’t get what you ask for because what you ask for is to satisfy your flesh and not to bring glory to God at all.  When Jesus prayed in the Garden, He asked if the Father would “take this cup” from Him, yet not Jesus’ will but the Father’s will be done.  We tend to forget that the Bible is a spiritual book.  It is God’s revelation to the world.  There is nothing in it that does not have spiritual context.  It describes how man relates to man, how God relates to man and how man relates to God.  Jesus did not come so that man could prosper in material things.  There are many, many saints who are impoverished.  That does not mean they lack faith.  But if you have a “fleshly” view toward God’s provision that is what you think it means.  We are not “blessed” because we enjoy the excesses that this country brings.  We are blessed because we have salvation through Jesus and a child of God.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight  making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:3-14)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Want God's Best? Stop, Look, Listen, and Obey. There Is No Other Way!

If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left. —Genesis 13:9

{CHAMBERS} “As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and physically gratifying possibilities will open up before you. These things are yours by right, but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God make your choice for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the appropriate thing to consider, if you were not living the life of faith. […] This is the discipline God uses to transform the natural into the spiritual through obedience to His voice. Whenever our right becomes the guiding factor of our lives, it dulls our spiritual insight. The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. […] Many of us do not continue to grow spiritually because we prefer to choose on the basis of our rights, instead of relying on God to make the choice for us. We have to learn to walk according to the standard which has its eyes focused on God. And God says to us, as He did to Abram, “…walk before Me…” (Genesis 17:1).”

{ELGIN}  Hearing God’s voice.  That is a result of listening with spiritual understanding and spiritual preparation.  It is often difficult to discern when it is God and when it is merely me wanting to do something godly.  I have met a number of people who told me they wanted to serve God.  When God presented an opportunity that was clearly supernatural, they said “no, I really want to do this other thing.” And they turned away from the opportunity.  Their response was telling.  Their desire to do good was greater than their desire to follow God.  God will not condemn you for that, but oh what you miss when you choose poorly.  I was talking to another missionary about this person just yesterday.  It is with sadness that I speak of it. Dr. Henry Blackaby said that hearing God is normally not the problem.  Obeying God is the problem.  Proverbs 16:9 say “Men make plans in their hearts, but God orders their steps.”  The problem is when we refuse to throw our plans away and follow God.  All the will convinced that we have chosen well.  And how do I know what the best thing was for that person?  Because God revealed it to me by his Spirit and circumstances that were indisputably impossible to orchestrate by man but trivial for our God.  Oh friend, don’t miss the joy of walking after God by faith.  Great things He hath promised.  Great things He hath done. And great things He wants to do through you if you will only stop, look, listen, and obey.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Facing Life In The Reality Of Your Faith Or Not

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. —Revelation 1:17

{CHAMBERS} “”He laid His right hand on me…” (Revelation 1:17). In the midst of the awesomeness, a touch comes, and you know it is the right hand of Jesus Christ. […] Whenever His hand is laid upon you, it gives inexpressible peace and comfort, and the sense that “underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27), full of support, provision, comfort, and strength. And once His touch comes, nothing at all can throw you into fear again. In the midst of all His ascended glory, the Lord Jesus comes to speak to an insignificant disciple, saying, “Do not be afraid” (Revelation 1:17). His tenderness is inexpressibly sweet. Do I know Him like that? Take a look at some of the things that cause despair. There is despair which has no delight, no limits whatsoever, and no hope of anything brighter. But the delight of despair comes when “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells…” (Romans 7:18). I delight in knowing that there is something in me which must fall prostrate before God when He reveals Himself to me, and also in knowing that if I am ever to be raised up it must be by the hand of God. God can do nothing for me until I recognize the limits of what is humanly possible, allowing Him to do the impossible.”

{ELGIN}  In the Focus on the Family study, the Truth Project, a question is posed.  “Do you believe, that what you believe, is really real?”  Are your walking and responding to life in the reality of your new life in Christ, or is your religion something that is notional? Something that makes you feel good but has little practical value?  If you don’t believe it is real … that it is something that can be grasped and is helpful in this natural life on terra firma, then you are not likely to trust and obey.  Instead you will live your life as you see fit, doubting that there is any practical value to your faith in Jesus.  How much time do spend each day in consideration of your relationship with God?  If you don’t spend time on any relationship, that relationship will soon fade.  It will lose its luster and become like a distant memory.  I can recall that happening many times in my life.  So many people that I have known, but neglect and distance eroded the connection between us until the only time I might think of them is when I see a picture or someone reminds me of an event in my life.  So it is with us and the Lord.  Do not neglect your time with the Lord.

Monday, May 22, 2017

How To Be Of One Mind With The Father And Why You Should Be

…that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us… —John 17:21

{CHAMBERS}  “If you are going through a time of isolation, seemingly all alone, read John 17. […] God reveals in John 17 that His purpose is not just to answer our prayers, but that through prayer we might come to discern His mind. Yet there is one prayer which God must answer, and that is the prayer of Jesus— “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22). […] The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, and nobler men and women, or they are making us more critical and fault-finding, and more insistent on our own way. The things that happen either make us evil, or they make us more saintly, depending entirely on our relationship with God and its level of intimacy. If we will pray, regarding our own lives, “Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42), then we will be encouraged and comforted by John 17, knowing that our Father is working according to His own wisdom, accomplishing what is best.”

{ELGIN}  I am certain that you have heard the phrase “being of one mind”.  It means that whomever is being referred to all are in agreement over some issue.  There is no wavering.  They are “one” with respect to whatever issue was at hand.  In the same way, yet in a more comprehensive way, Jesus prayed that we would be of one mind with the Father on all things, not just some things. There is never a time when we agree to disagree.  As we submit our lives to the Spirit and live our lives by faith, we are united in harmony with the will of the Father.  That is represented by complete trust in God no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in.  We don’t blame God or distance ourselves from Him because He has let us down somehow.  Some bad thing has happened to us and we feel God has not kept up His end of the bargain. 

God did not say that we would not have to face crisis, disappointments, heartache, or loss in this new life of ours.  We live in a corrupt world and our natural bodies are still subject to its corruption.  But, He did say that we could endure whatever comes and through it, He would be glorified.  (2 Corinthians 4:8-10) “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  The Haitians often say to me “Si Bondye Vle” meaning if God is willing. A phrase that you don’t hear so much in this country anymore is “The Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.”  Both speak to the acknowledgement that God is sovereign and we yield to that sovereignty.  We are of one mind with the Father.  This not something that just happens after salvation, it is a result of doggedly pursuing a relationship with the Father through prayer, the Word, and worship.  Failing that, you will never know, never experience, what being one with Him is like.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Are You Down? Is Your Soul Weary? Our God Will Raise You Up!

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? —Romans 8:35

{CHAMBERS} “God does not keep His child immune from trouble; He promises, “I will be with him in trouble…” (Psalm 91:15). It doesn’t matter how real or intense the adversities may be; nothing can ever separate him from his relationship to God. “In all these things we are more than conquerors…” (Romans 8:37). Paul was not referring here to imaginary things, but to things that are dangerously real. And he said we are “super-victors” in the midst of them, not because of our own ingenuity, nor because of our courage, but because none of them affects our essential relationship with God in Jesus Christ. […] “Shall tribulation…?” Tribulation is never a grand, highly welcomed event; but whatever it may be— whether exhausting, irritating, or simply causing some weakness— it is not able to “separate us from the love of Christ.” […] “Shall…distress…?” Can God’s love continue to hold fast, even when everyone and everything around us seems to be saying that His love is a lie, and that there is no such thing as justice? “Shall…famine…?” Can we not only believe in the love of God but also be “more than conquerors,” even while we are being starved?[…] Logic is silenced in the face of each of these things which come against him. Only one thing can account for it— the love of God in Christ Jesus.”

{ELGIN}  Every day I see saints who are faced with great difficulties in their lives.  I am not speaking of the consequences of sin, but the consequences of living in a corrupt and fallen world.  Many books have been written about why bad things happen to “good” people.  We value our natural life, but we should value our eternal life even more.  If we do not have a spiritual perspective on both, we will struggle when troubles come.  Josh Gorban sings a song, “You Raise Me Up”; “When I am down and oh my soul so weary, When troubles come and my heart burdened be, Then I am still and wait here in the silence, Until you come and sit a while with me, You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains, You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas, I am strong, when I am on your shoulders, You raise me up, to more than I can be.”

It is not I, but Christ in me that allows me to persevere in the face of great trials in my life.  (2 Corinthians 4:8-11) “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  When you are faced with the trials that are sure to come, you may be in one even now, don’t look inside for the strength to continue on.  Look up!

Don Moen, He Will Come And Save; “Say to those who are fearful hearted, Do not be afraid, The Lord your God Is strong with His mighty arms When you call on His name He will come and save. He will come and save you. Say to the weary one YOURE GOD WILL SURELY COME , He will come and save you. Lift up your eyes to Him You will arise again He will come and save you. Say to those who are broken hearted, Do not lose your faith. The Lord your God Is strong with His loving arms When you call on His name He will come and save  He will.  He is faithful but you must put your faith in Him. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Are You Worried? Consider What Are You Leaning On.

Look at the birds of the air….Consider the lilies of the field… —Matthew 6:26, 28

{CHAMBERS} ““Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin”— they simply are! Think of the sea, the air, the sun, the stars, and the moon— all of these simply are as well— yet what a ministry and service they render on our behalf! So often we impair God’s designed influence, which He desires to exhibit through us, because of our own conscious efforts to be consistent and useful. […] In other words, pay attention to the Source, and out of you “will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). We cannot discover the source of our natural life through common sense and reasoning, and Jesus is teaching here that growth in our spiritual life comes not from focusing directly on it, but from concentrating on our Father in heaven. […] The people who influence us the most are not those who detain us with their continual talk, but those who live their lives like the stars in the sky and “the lilies of the field”— simply and unaffectedly. […] If you want to be of use to God, maintain the proper relationship with Jesus Christ by staying focused on Him, and He will make use of you every minute you live— yet you will be unaware, on the conscious level of your life, that you are being used of Him.”

{ELGIN}  The Christian life is really quite simple .. focus on God first .. and the rest will follow.  Trust in God fully and the way will be clear to you.   (Matthew 6:33) “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  What things?  All of your needs that you worry about.  And in the process of placing God first, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”  Sounds simple and it is, so why is it so hard to do?  Because we want to do it ourselves.  Because we lack faith and don’t do the things necessary to grow our faith.

There is a song by Rich Mullins that goes “Oh God, You are my God And I will ever praise You. Oh God, You are my God And I will ever praise You. I will seek You in the morning And I will learn to walk in Your ways And step by step You'll lead me And I will follow You all of my days.  If you want to experience the abundant life, it can only be found through a close and consistent relationship with the Lord.  It is simple but hard, no impossible, to do if you insist on getting in the way with your own effort and plans.  Two words come to mind … stop it!  Another song. “Learning to lean, I’m learning to lean.  I’m learning to lean on Jesus.  Finding more power than I ever dreamed, I am learning to lean on Jesus.”  Living by faith is something that we learn, step by step.  But we must take the step by faith.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What Are You Facing That Is Bigger Than Our God? Nothing!

It came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. —Luke 24:51

{CHAMBERS} “The ascension is the complete fulfillment of the transfiguration. Our Lord returned to His original glory, but not simply as the Son of God— He returned to His father as the Son of Man as well. There is now freedom of access for anyone straight to the very throne of God because of the ascension of the Son of Man. As the Son of Man, Jesus Christ deliberately limited His omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. But now they are His in absolute, full power. As the Son of Man, Jesus Christ now has all the power at the throne of God. From His ascension forward He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.”

{ELGIN}  As I consider the events of this life on earth, often times they take on a much larger appearance than they rightly deserve.  Oh that I could keep perspective on this life in the light of His glory and grace.  To understand that I am a child of the King and as such am no longer bound to the affairs of this world.  I have access into the very presence of Father God, the creator of the universe, through Jesus Christ.  I may have to deal with the mundane, it is real, but it is so puny in the face of eternity.  Since we are born again, we are eternally God’s own.  (Romans 8:31-35) “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

What is it that you are facing today?  You may be feeling the breath of the lion on your neck. You may be withering as you face the heat of the furnace.  Perhaps you are staring at the death of your mortal body in the face. Whatever it might be, “Our God is greater, our God is stronger God You are higher than any other, Our God is Healer, awesome in power, Our God, Our God, Into the darkness you shine, Out of the ashes we rise, There’s No one like you, None like you.” (Our God, Chris Tomlin).  (Proverbs 3:5,6) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What To Do When Your Body Says Yes, But Your Spirit Says No.

…you may be partakers of the divine nature… —2 Peter 1:4

{CHAMBERS} “We are made “partakers of the divine nature,” receiving and sharing God’s own nature through His promises. Then we have to work that divine nature into our human nature by developing godly habits. […] Does it really matter that our circumstances are difficult? Why shouldn’t they be! If we give way to self-pity and indulge in the luxury of misery, we remove God’s riches from our lives and hinder others from entering into His provision. No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self-interests. It causes us to open our mouths only to complain, and we simply become spiritual sponges— always absorbing, never giving, and never being satisfied. And there is nothing lovely or generous about our lives.[…] If the majesty, grace, and power of God are not being exhibited in us, God holds us responsible. “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you…may have an abundance…” (2 Corinthians 9:8)— then learn to lavish the grace of God on others, generously giving of yourself. Be marked and identified with God’s nature, and His blessing will flow through you all the time.”

{ELGIN}  Martie and I had decided that we needed to change our eating habits.  We saw that the course we were on was detrimental to our health and was sure to lead to even more problems the older we get.  So, we started on a new path.  We are having to develop new eating habits.  This has caused us to abandon foods that taste good but are actually contributing to the problem.  We eat less no longer in excess.  It requires discipline on our part and accountability with others.  Other people who encourage us as we travel along this new path.  The thing is, these new habits are not for a season.  We are not looking to the day when our weight and health are in check and we can get back to the food we really want in the quantities that will make our tummies full. I share that because it is analogous to our Christian journey.  There are certain aspects of our old nature that we cling to.  We have a hard time giving them up, like taco chips or chocolate cake.  They provide some form of comfort to our psyche.  But God has called us out of that life to a new life.  We are to practice new spiritual health habits that promote our transformation into the image of Christ.  Habits that promote spiritual health that strengthens our faith and magnifies our witness to the world.  We are in a place, physically, that demands change.  But there is a temptation not to change.  To continue to do what we know we should not because our bodies lust for certain things and we find comfort in them.  In Romans 7:14-19  We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”

I know so many people who are slaves to food.  They have to have it.  They know it’s not good for them and yet they yield to it.  That is what Paul was saying about sin.  So he asks “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!  Our godly habits are founded in faith in Jesus.  In our weakness His strength is made perfect.  But we must yield to Him.  The greatest godly habit.  The foundation from which all other right habits spring is this … laying your life down .. surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus.  You are in a  spiritual battle, the old nature against the new.  Make it a habit to put on the full armor of God and you will stand against temptation and the hardship that it brings.

Monday, May 15, 2017

How You Can Bring Glory To The Father

…that you may know what is the hope of His calling… —Ephesians 1:18

{CHAMBERS} “You did not do anything to achieve your salvation, but you must do something to exhibit it. You must “work out your own salvation” which God has worked in you already (Philippians 2:12). Are your speech, your thinking, and your emotions evidence that you are working it “out”? […] First Peter 4:12  says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you….” Rise to the occasion— do what the trial demands of you. […] May God not find complaints in us anymore, but spiritual vitality— a readiness to face anything He brings our way. The only proper goal of life is that we manifest the Son of God […] We are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants. Once we realize this, He will make us broken bread and poured-out wine with which to feed and nourish others.

{ELGIN}  Ephesians 2:8,9 says that we have been saved by grace through faith, it is a gift from God, not of [our own] works.  And with that gift comes responsibility.  God has a purpose for us.  Our primary purpose is to bring glory to God.  The primary method by which we bring glory to God is by reflecting His Son in our lives. Galatians 2:20 says that Christ is in us.  How, by the Spirit that God sealed us with at the point of our salvation. And how is Jesus reflected in our lives?  Galatians 2:20 says it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  By the power of the Spirit, we are able to reflect Jesus to the world.  The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is the true reflection of Jesus the Son.  The only way that we can possible exhibit that fruit is by offering ourselves as living sacrifices and not be conformed to this world. (Romans 12:1-2) Living a life that glorifies God requires that we walk in obedience to the Father by the supernatural power that is ours by faith.  This is a deliberate act of faith.  It does not happen on its own. (Matthew 16:24) “If any man wants [bring glory to God the Father and be like Jesus] he must deny himself, pick up his cross daily and follow Jesus [do what Jesus did which was to do the Father’s will and not his own].

Friday, May 12, 2017

9 Godly Habits That Shape How You Live Your Life

If these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful… —2 Peter 1:8

{CHAMBERS} “The right thing to do with godly habits is to immerse them in the life of the Lord until they become such a spontaneous expression of our lives that we are no longer aware of them. Our spiritual life continually causes us to focus our attention inwardly for the determined purpose of self-examination, because each of us has some qualities we have not yet added to our lives.[…] The only supernatural life is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was at home with God anywhere. Is there someplace where you are not at home with God? Then allow God to work through whatever that particular circumstance may be until you increase in Him, adding His qualities. Your life will then become the simple life of a child.”

{ELGIN}  Do you have a daily routine? Brush your teeth, drink a cup of coffee, get dressed.  You probably even get dressed in a certain way.  The order in which you put on your articles of clothing.  Even which foot you put a shoe on first.  They are habits that over time we don’t give any thought to.  In the eternal scheme of things, those habits I mentioned are inconsequential. But, there are habits that do bear eternal significance, beginning with the time that you walk this earth as a born-again child of God.  Spending personal time with God is the most important.  That is the “root” of all other relationships.  And yet, that is very likely the one that is most often neglected.  Joshua 1:9 says that we should meditate on the Word and obey it.  2 Timothy 4:2 says we are to be ready “in season and out of season”.  In other words, we are supposed to be ready all the time.  Without spiritual habits, we will not be.  If you are not intentional.

Regarding godly habits, Ephesians 6 says that we are to put on the full armor of God … every day … it should be a habit ..  1. Gird your waist with truth. 2. Put on the breastplate of righteousness. 3. Shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. 4. Take the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 5. Put on the helmet of salvation 6. Take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 7. Pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. 8. Be watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 9. Stand

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Love Of God Is Greater Far Than Tongue Or Pen Can Ever Tell

…add to your…brotherly kindness love. —2 Peter 1:5, 7

{CHAMBERS} “Love is an indefinite thing to most of us; we don’t know what we mean when we talk about love. […] the Holy Spirit reveals to me that God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. Now He commands me to show the same love to others by saying, “…love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He is saying, “I will bring a number of people around you whom you cannot respect, but you must exhibit My love to them, just as I have exhibited it to you.” […] I should look within and remember how wonderfully He has dealt with me. The knowledge that God has loved me beyond all limits will compel me to go into the world to love others in the same way. I may get irritated because I have to live with an unusually difficult person. But just think how disagreeable I have been with God! […] Love is spontaneous, but it has to be maintained through discipline.

{ELGIN} Do you know someone who is difficult for you to love?  It is probably because of their behavior.  If it were up to us, not many people would be saved from an eternity in hell.  We would judge them and condemn them, and that is often times what we do, isn’t it?  The parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35) comes to mind.  Wanting forgiveness but not willing to give it.  If we don’t see people the way God saw us, then there is not much hope for us ever loving them.  It requires spiritual understanding and an attitude of Grace and Mercy that can only come from the Father.  It is a mistake for you to think that God wants you to love others on your own merit.  (1 John 4:19)  “We love [Agape] because God first loved us.”

It is the love of God that is shown through us, not our personal benevolence shown to the unlovely.  It is the power of God in us that allows us to be and do as God shows us by His Spirit.  Loving others is a result of your relationship with the Father.  (Matthew 22:36-40) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Don't Build Your House On The Sandy Land

…add to your faith virtue… —2 Peter 1:5

{CHAMBERS} “Add means that we have to do something. We are in danger of forgetting that we cannot do what God does, and that God will not do what we can do. We cannot save nor sanctify ourselves— God does that. But God will not give us good habits or character, and He will not force us to walk correctly before Him. We have to do all that ourselves. We must “work out” our “own salvation” which God has worked in us (Philippians 2:12). Add means that we must get into the habit of doing things, and in the initial stages that is difficult. To take the initiative is to make a beginning— to instruct yourself in the way you must go.[…] Be determined to act immediately in faith on what God says to you when He speaks, and never reconsider or change your initial decisions. […] We have to get into the habit of carefully listening to God about everything, forming the habit of finding out what He says and heeding it.”

{ELGIN}  (Luke 6:46-49) “"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.””  Jesus was talking directly to his disciples but there was a large crowd of people listening as well.  It is one thing to hear the Truth and quite another to obey the truth.  About 8 children recited the entire 12th chapter of Romans in church last Sunday.  Impressive and challenging, but what good did it do the congregation to hear that if they were not willing to do that.  Chapter 12 pretty much lays out how we are to live as Christians.  (James 1:22) “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”  A recurring theme.  It must be that our tendency is to not do what the Word says.  Obedience is not something that suddenly happens on its own.  We must decide to obey.

So my friends “Don't build your house on the sandy-land, Don't build it too near the shore, Well, it may look kind of nice But you'll have to build it twice, Oh, you'll have to build your house once more. You better build your house upon the rock, Make a good foundation on a solid spot. And though the storms may come and go, The peace of God you will know. Rock of ages, cleft for me.  Let me hide myself in Thee.” Karen Lafferty (b. 1948) Words and Music © 1981 Maranatha!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Taking Hold Of Spiritual Vision To See God's Purpose For Your Life

My Utmost For His Highest 

Where there is no revelation [or prophetic vision], the people cast off restraint… —Proverbs 29:18

{CHAMBERS} “There is a difference between holding on to a principle and having a vision. A principle does not come from moral inspiration, but a vision does. […] I too may have the right idea of God and His attributes, but that may be the very reason why I do not do my duty. But wherever there is vision, there is also a life of honesty and integrity, because the vision gives me the moral incentive.[…]  Once we lose sight of God, we begin to be reckless. We cast off certain restraints from activities we know are wrong. We set prayer aside as well and cease having God’s vision in the little things of life. We simply begin to act on our own initiative. If we are eating only out of our own hand, and doing things solely on our own initiative without expecting God to come in, we are on a downward path. We have lost the vision. Is our attitude today an attitude that flows from our vision of God?”

{ELGIN} Another version says “without a vision the people perish”  Someone once said “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Paul said, (Ephesians 1:18-20) “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he [God the Father] has called you, the riches of his [God the Father] glorious inheritance in his [God the Father] holy people, and his [God the Father] incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he [God the Father] exerted when he [God the Father] raised Christ from the dead and seated him [Jesus] at his [God the Father] right hand in the heavenly realms..” Do you have that vision?  Do you realize what has happened to you since you are now reborn?  The resurrection power that was applied in your life … that you are a child of the creator God … that He has a purpose for you .. and it is not to continue to live as you once did? [I was only going to quote one verse, but after reading it, I decided that I would let the Word say what was on my heart to write this morning ….

(Colossians 3:1-17) “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your  life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Amen and Amen

Friday, May 5, 2017

What It Means To Be The Messenger And Not The Message Giver

The time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God… —1 Peter 4:17

{CHAMBERS} “The Christian servant must never forget that salvation is God’s idea, not man’s; therefore, it has an unfathomable depth. Salvation is the great thought of God, not an experience. Experience is simply the door through which salvation comes into the conscious level of our life so that we are aware of what has taken place on a much deeper level. […]  Never sympathize with someone who finds it difficult to get to God; God is not to blame. It is not for us to figure out the reason for the difficulty, but only to present the truth of God so that the Spirit of God will reveal what is wrong. […] If Jesus ever commanded us to do something that He was unable to equip us to accomplish, He would be a liar. And if we make our own inability a stumbling block or an excuse not to be obedient, it means that we are telling God that there is something which He has not yet taken into account. Every element of our own self-reliance must be put to death by the power of God. The moment we recognize our complete weakness and our dependence upon Him will be the very moment that the Spirit of God will exhibit His power.”

{ELGIN}  Don’t shoot the messenger.  Have you ever heard that expression?  What it means is that the messenger is merely bringing the message from the one who sent it.  The messenger has no connection to the origin of the message with the exception that he has been given the responsibility to deliver it.  And so it is with us and the Gospel.  The Gospel is a message from God to mankind.  It is not our message, although we, ourselves, were once the recipients.  It is not our responsibility if someone refuses to embrace the message.  It is only our responsibility to deliver it.  Don’t ever feel responsible for another person’s response to the Gospel.  As much as you might want to save someone, you can’t.  Only God can.  But you can be faithful to deliver the message.  You may only have to go next door or you may have to go to a remote village on a mountain.  The “where” really is not important to the messenger.  It is the “what” that is important.  It’s your obedience that is important in going when and where the Message Giver sends you.  And leave the saving up to the Savior.

(Romans 10:13-15) “for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!””

Thursday, May 4, 2017

How To Pray For Others And What To Pray For

…having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus… —Hebrews 10:19

{CHAMBERS} “Beware of thinking that intercession means bringing our own personal sympathies and concerns into the presence of God, and then demanding that He do whatever we ask. Our ability to approach God is due entirely to the vicarious, or substitutionary, identification of our Lord with sin. We have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.”[…] we are always ready with our own ideas, and our intercession becomes only the glorification of our own natural sympathies. We have to realize that the identification of Jesus with sin means a radical change of all of our sympathies and interests. Vicarious intercession means that we deliberately substitute God’s interests in others for our natural sympathy with them.”

{ELGIN}  Acts 3:1-10 describes Peter healing a lame man.  The man had sat by the gate everyday looking for financial relief.  Jesus looked at him and saw something else besides a lame man in poverty. He saw someone in spiritual poverty.  Peter said “I don’t have any money to give you but what I do have I will give to you.  Rise up and walk in the name of Jesus Christ.  The man was healed instantly.  He was able to walk, but more, his faith was quickened and because of that he was healed and God used his physical healing as a sign to the people.  In Luke 17:10-19 Jesus healed the 10 lepers.  He told the one who returned to thank Him, “you faith has made you whole”.  Of course we must be careful that we don’t think that people are not healed because they lack faith, although that might be the case.  We do not have the mind of God but we have a heart for God.

When we pray for others, no matter what the malady, we should pray that they might have faith or a stronger faith, if they are born again. That they would look to God in their time of trouble and trust Him.  That God would be glorified through them, no matter what the outcome, that their faith would carry them through the trial.  That His strength would be sufficient. And yes, that they would be healed, if that is the will of God for them.  He is the God of all comfort who comforts us in our affliction. (2 Corinthians 1:3)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How To Know When To Pray And What To Pray

…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit… —Ephesians 6:18

{CHAMBERS} “As we continue on in our intercession for others, we may find that our obedience to God in interceding is going to cost those for whom we intercede more than we ever thought. The danger in this is that we begin to intercede in sympathy with those whom God was gradually lifting up to a totally different level in direct answer to our prayers. […] Identification with God is the key to intercession, and whenever we stop being identified with Him it is because of our sympathy with others, not because of sin. […] God gives us discernment in the lives of others to call us to intercession for them, never so that we may find fault with them.”

{ELGIN}  Jesus said that we should pray that the will of the Father be done, not our will.  That suggests that there is a possibility that what we think is best is not necessarily what God thinks is best.  Out thinking needs to be in alignment with God.  His view is eternal and ours is often worldly, the temporary.  That is not to say that we should not pray for the sick or the downcast, the Bible tells us to.  So how do you know when it is right to pray for relief for someone else?  It requires discernment … spiritual discernment, which only comes from having the right relationship with the Spirit of God.  We see someone struggling with life and we pray that God will give them relief.  It may be that God is allowing that struggle so they might find eternal relief.  Matthew 25 says that we should be sensitive to those who are afflicted and take action to help them.

When people would come to see us in Mississippi asking for immediate help … money in other words … we would never refuse them water or food .. but we often refused them money .. not always .. why?  Because there was a small voice telling me that something was amiss.  It is not wrong to be heartbroken over a child that has taken the wrong road and is dealing with the consequences of their choices.  But, it is another thing entirely to find relief for them when their heart is still unrepentant and far from God.  The father never went looking for the Prodigal son, but there was not a day when he did not hope to see his son returning in repentance.  A pastor once said “Sometimes people don’t know Jesus is all they need until Jesus is all they have.”  Perhaps you have a child like that or know someone who is struggling … go to the altar … seek God in the matter .. and pray that His will be done … to give a cup of living water is better by far than giving someone a cup of water only for them to be thirsty again. You must have faith.  And if you have faith, then you must walk in it.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Have You Lost That Loving Feeling?

Though it tarries, wait for it… —Habakkuk 2:3

{CHAMBERS} “Having the vision of God is the source of patience because it gives us God’s true and proper inspiration. Moses endured, not because of his devotion to his principles of what was right, nor because of his sense of duty to God, but because he had a vision of God. “…he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). A person who has the vision of God is not devoted to a cause or to any particular issue— he is devoted to God Himself. […] “Though it tarries, wait for it….” The proof that we have the vision is that we are reaching out for more than we have already grasped. It is a bad thing to be satisfied spiritually. The psalmist said, “What shall I render to the Lord…? I will take up the cup of salvation…” (Psalm 116:12-13). […] Our reach must exceed our grasp. Paul said, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on…” (Philippians 3:12). If we have only what we have experienced, we have nothing. But if we have the inspiration of the vision of God, we have more than we can experience. Beware of the danger of spiritual relaxation.”

{ELGIN}  God is infinite.  He is big.  His love is deep and beyond measure. And yet, many of us are satisfied with having a “little bit” of God.  Not too much that we might be thought of as fanatical, but enough so we are not thought of as being a reprobate, a sinner.  Don’t be satisfied with a little bit of God.  Never be satisfied with where you are in your faith.  God will lead us to Spiritual places that require more faith to follow, if we allow Him.  When Jesus was teaching, the closer He got to the cross, the more difficult the teaching.  Many disciples, most who were just along for the ride, fell away when they were challenged in what they thought and what they believed. (John 6:60,66-67) “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” …  From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.” You do not graduate as a Christian until you are with Jesus.  The lessons are impossible to accept without the Spirit and an obedient heart. Don’t be satisfied with where you are in your walk.  God has so much more to show you and teach you.  If you have lost that “loving feeling” toward God, you are content with the quality of your Christian life.  We should never be satisfied, but like Paul, (Philippians 3:12-14) “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”