Friday, October 20, 2017

Wanting To Do Good Will Not Stop You From Sinning

This is the will of God, your sanctification… —1 Thessalonians 4:3

{CHAMBERS} “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. […] He [Jesus] completed everything for my salvation and sanctification. No wonder Paul said that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). [….] 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.

{ELGIN}  Wanting verses doing.  Preference to do what we want pushing God to the back of our minds.  It’s like the times that you did, or still do, things that you knew were contrary to what your parents had said to do or not to do.  All the while you were doing your own thing you were aware that you were being disobedient.  It’s the same  with your heavenly Father.  Paul talked about this in Romans (7:18-25).  He wrote “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…..   Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  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!”

At the point of disobedience, your heart rate increases, your mind starts racing … you are acutely aware that you are about to step over the line.  The temptation is about to transition to sin.  It is the battle that will rage in you until you see Jesus face to face.  Your old nature must be nailed to the cross every day, every moment.  (1 Corinthians 10:13) “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  Do you look at the waves and your ability to walk on them or to Jesus and His ability to walk with you.  You cannot be successful in your new life by wanting to be good and wanting to not sin.  That is a formula for failure. Don’t be satisfied with “partial” sanctification, believing that the life you are living is as good as it will ever get.  That is not the life you have been called to.  It is the life you have been saved from.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Successful Response To Life's Circumstances Depends Upon Your Spiritual Preparation

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world." —John 18:36

{CHAMBERS} […] 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. […] In our Lord’s life there was none of the pressure and the rushing of tremendous activity that we regard so highly today, and a disciple is to be like His Master. 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 either at home or abroad. And if you waste your time in overactivity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God’s redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come. But if […] time […] is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in Him, which may appear to be impractical, then you will remain true to Him whatever happens.

{ELGIN} When I was accepted into flight school, on the first day I did not go to the flight line, climb into a helicopter, and fly around the airfield.  There was a season of intense preparation , ground school.  Training in the fundamentals before I ever got to smell aviation fuel for the first time, let alone even sit in a helicopter.  And then training in a simple helicopter before I learned to fly a Huey, Cobra or Chinook.  In the same way, we must prepare ourselves for our new life in Christ if we don’t want to crash and burn.  The disciples spent three years with Jesus.  Moses spent 40 years as a shepherd.  Paul spent three years in the desert.  There was a season of preparation.  Their learning did not stop there.  Their relationship with the Lord deepened as they walked in obedience to His leading.  It’s the same for you and me.  There is much to do on the inside before a life that brings glory to God can be manifested on the outside.  The Pharisees were “whitewashed tombs filled with dead men’s bones” (Matthew 23:27) They “praised God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him.” (Isaiah 29:13)  We very often confuse doing with being. 

You will not be successful in your new life if you do not first get your relationship on the inside right.  Going to church once a week and reading scripture on the screen is not enough.  Reading a devotion such as this one is good, but reading the Word and praying is better.  Joshua 1:8-9 says this “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” In Ephesians 6, Paul describes our preparation for living the new life in Christ as putting on a soldier’s armor. One of the things that you do in flight training is learn emergency procedures .. what to do when something goes wrong … for the Christian … what to do when life happens … as an aviator, you had to learn to recognize the problem and know what to do, and in what sequence to survive.  Same for a Christian.  Don’t count on having an epiphany – a Divine revelation – in the midst of a trial.  You have to be ready through preparation.  And that is the truth whether you choose to believe it or not!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Who Do You Love More? Your Life Will Shout It Out.

…they went forth for His name’s sake… —3 John 7

{CHAMBERS} “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. […] 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). And it is that love in me that effectively works through me and comes in contact with everyone I meet. […] The key to the missionary’s 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. Our Lord was amazingly in touch with the ordinary things of life, but He had an inner detachment except toward God. […] The duty of a faithful missionary is to concentrate on keeping his soul completely and continually open to the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. The men and women our Lord sends out on His endeavors are 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.”

{ELGIN} “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)  That verse can be taken two ways.  First, if you pursue God then He will give you anything your little heart desires.  Second, if you pursue God, He will make His passion, your passion.  He will change your “wants” to those things that reflect His will and purposes.  That is what Jesus was telling Peter.  “If you love Me, then pursue those things that I pursue.  Do what I say to do, even if it makes no earthly sense.” What makes missionaries distinctive is that they place less value on earthly comforts and relationships than they do on the call of Jesus on their lives to pick up their cross, abandon the things of this world, and follow Him.  To feed His sheep if you will.  The thing about a shepherd, when everyone else is at home sleeping, he is standing guard over the flock. I am typing this while sitting in a travel trailer, parked next to a church, listening to the cars zoom up and down the highway.  My point?  God has called us to this place. When He calls, you must be willing to lay what is comfortable and familiar, down.

From time to time when I tell my wife that I love her, she will say “I love you more.” Then I say “No, I love you more.” And we go back and forth several times with that.  But where is the proof of that love? The proof of love is not words, as affirming as they might be. Ephesians 5:25 says this, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.”  Do you love God enough to give yourself up for Him?  – your hopes, your dreams, your comfort, your secure retirement, your family holidays, the list goes on ….. The theme of the Bible is that God is supreme and deserves our total devotion … like David, we must love God with our whole heart. (1 Kings 14:8).  Listen, men, you won’t love your wife that way (Ephesians 5:25) if you first don’t love God that way. (Matthew 22:37-39). And you won’t love God that way if you are unwilling to lay your life down.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Prayer, The Key To A Closer Walk With God

…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

{CHAMBERS} “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. […] We must learn to work according to God’s direction, and He says to pray. “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38).[…] When you labor at prayer, from God’s perspective there are always results.”

{ELGIN} As I read Chambers this morning, several verses came to mind.  “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) “In all things with prayer and supplication”(Philippians 4:6) “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18) We fight our spiritual battles on our knees not with our hands.  “It’s not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord God of Hosts” (Zechariah 4:6)  Prayer is not an option it is essential.  But sadly many Christians treat prayer as if they were in the drive through at McDonalds.  “I would like 2 paid bills, 1 new car, and a 401K to assure a comfortable, worry-free future, oh, supersize that.”  Prayer is a spiritual act and is not intended to satisfy our lust for more of the world, but to seek more of the “other” world, God’s kingdom.  “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)  James wrote “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.” (James 4:2-3)

Prayer is a critical component of your new life in Christ. But most of us don’t prayer regularly.  Only for emergencies.  Prayer helps to gird your mind.  To maintain spiritual perspective.  Prayer is the only way we can communicate with the Father.  But wait there’s more!  Prayer is so important that God has made a special provision for us “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)  You don’t need a seminary degree for God to hear your prayers.  What you do need is a clean heart and a humble spirit.  It is a mistake to think that you can approach God with unconfessed sin in your heart.  God is not waiting at the window to take your next order.  But He is waiting to talk with you.  That’s right … with YOU my friend!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Keeping Focus On Your Prime Directive - Love God - Love People - Spread The Good News

Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. —Matthew 9:38

{CHAMBERS} “The key to the missionary’s difficult task is in the hand of God, and that key is prayer, not work— that is, not work as the word is commonly used today, which often results in the shifting of our focus away from God. The key to the missionary’s difficult task is also not the key of common sense, nor is it the key of medicine, civilization, education, or even evangelization. The key is in following the Master’s orders— the key is prayer. “Pray the Lord of the harvest….” In the natural realm, prayer is not practical but absurd. We have to realize that prayer is foolish from the commonsense point of view.[…] He [Jesus] owns the harvest that is produced through distress and through conviction of sin. […] A Christian is called to be Jesus Christ’s own, “a servant [who] is not greater than his master” (John 13:16), and someone who does not dictate to Jesus Christ what he intends to do. Our Lord calls us to no special work— He calls us to Himself. “Pray the Lord of the harvest,” and He will engineer your circumstances to send you out as His laborer.”

{ELGIN} Prayer is one our weapons in spiritual warfare.  In a battle, communication with the commander is important.  If you are not communicating with the Father, you are operating on your own .. and that is not a good place to be.  It is so easy to lose focus on your mission.  To get diverted.  If you are not in constant contact with your “commander”.  We are in Texas right now to help with the recovery from Hurricane Harvey.  But is that our mission?  No.  Our mission has never changed.  Our primary mission is to lift Jesus up.  To let people know that God has not forgotten them and there is a Savior whose name is Jesus.  The primary method we do that is by serving others who are in need with no hope of satisfying that need on their own.  It is all too easy to become so focused on the method that you lose sight of the mission.  There are many organizations, faith based and secular responding the needs created by natural disasters.  On the surface there is little difference.  But in the case of the former, there is opportunity for an eternal solution to the needs of the people, for the latter, the solution is only as good for a lifetime, maybe less.

If the eternal destiny of the people you help is not important. If that has somehow become secondary to the material help you are providing, then you have lost focus on your mission.  In Star Trek - speak, you would call it your Prime Directive.  In God-speak, you would call it the Great Commission and Great Commandment.  In order to accomplish your mission you must be willing to lay your life down (John 15:13, Romans 12:1-2, Matthew 6:24) and walk in obedience to the Father’s will.  Micah 6:8 is perhaps the best synopsis of what that is … “What does the Lord require of you, oh man?  But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  That means to not go your own way, not do what you think is best or reasonable, but to obey the Father.  Just like Jesus! Go figure!  So what does this mean for you?  Chambers was addressing young men and women who were pursuing a life of full-time vocational ministry.  I am addressing Christians who are pursuing their new life in Christ.  Not necessarily one that means leaving their home behind to fulfill their God-given purpose.  But it could!  The bottom line … every day you live should be encompassed by who you are in Christ and the fact that the world needs to hear the Gospel and to see Jesus through the lives of the Saints.  To see Jesus in you. A transformed life does not happen because you do good things.  It happens because Christ in you. Think about it.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Every Christian Must Respond To The Call Of God - What Is He Calling You To Do?

…when Moses was grown…he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. —Exodus 2:11

{CHAMBERS} “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. […] 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. We may have the vision of God and a very clear understanding of what God wants, and yet when we start to do it, there comes to us something equivalent to Moses’ forty years in the wilderness. […] We are focused on the right individual perspective of things; we have the vision and can say, “I know this is what God wants me to do.” But we have not yet learned to get into God’s stride. If you are going through a time of discouragement, there is a time of great personal growth ahead.”

{ELGIN}  God calls, prepares and then sends.  That pattern is clear in both the old and new testaments.  A.W. Tozier wrote, “God does not use a man (or woman) greatly until they have been hurt deeply.”  That happens in the season of preparation.  After my new birth in 1976, I was certain that I had been called to the ministry.  I thought I should become a Chaplain in the Army.  Change the tank on my collar (the insignia for the Armor branch in the Army) for a cross.  Looking back now, I can see that becoming a Chaplain would have been a huge mistake. It was a good thing, but something, like Moses, that I chose to do in response to the call of God.  Fortunately there were some very wise men that gave me council.  One a chaplain, another a mature Christian officer.  So, here I sit today, in someone else’s home, in a state that is not my own, entering into a work that God has shaped me for.  Sometimes I wonder why I can’t be most other people.  But then I consider that “ (I am) God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for (me) to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)  It is easy to accept what the preceding 2 verses tell us … “we are saved by grace through faith”, not so easy to accept that we belong to God.  He is the potter and we are the clay.  There is a bigger story than my comfort or occupation … God’s eternal plan.

I sometimes tell Martie, my wife, that I wish I could only do one thing, like work on a garbage truck.  Those guys really have to know two things.  Don’t get off the truck until it stops and get back on before it starts.  (Actually there is more to it than that and they provide a great service to the community)  But my life is not my own.  When God calls us to lay our lives down, that means we must loosen our grip.  To let go and let God.  All of you reading this know that “letting go” can be a challenge.  It was for Moses … it was for Peter .. it is for us.  Maybe your calling is not like mine.  Perhaps you are supposed to be a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker, or a stay at home mom, whatever.  It does not mean that your life does not belong to God.  You may not be called to lead a nation across a desert, but you have been called to live a life that brings glory and honor to God and lifts Jesus up as the resurrected King.  To walk in obedience to the will of God and not follow your own way.  Listen, it’s a struggle … you never arrive … the temptation to “look back to Sodom” (Genesis 19:26) is always there.  The question “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1) will ring in your ears.  But there will be a voice that whispers in your ear .. “This is the way, walk in it.”  (Isaiah 30:21) In spite of the distractions, that is what the redeemed must do.  That would be you my friend!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Staying In Stride With Jesus - It's A Supernatural Ability

Enoch walked with God… —Genesis 5:24

{CHAMBERS} “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 […] In learning to walk with God, there is always the difficulty of getting into His stride, but once we have done so, the only characteristic that exhibits itself is the very life of God Himself. […] It is difficult to get into stride with God, because as soon as we start walking with Him we find that His pace has surpassed us before we have even taken three steps. He has different ways of doing things, and we have to be trained and disciplined in His ways. […] Getting into God’s stride means nothing less than oneness with Him. It takes a long time to get there, but keep at it. Don’t give up because the pain is intense right now— get on with it, and before long you will find that you have a new vision and a new purpose.”

{ELGIN}  I was walking down the hall with a friend yesterday, but his pace was much faster than mine.  I soon found myself a few yards behind him.  I thought, “I guess my age is catching up with me.”  Then it dawned on me that I might be out of shape!  We can get out of shape spiritually too.  (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”  This new life we live requires the discipline of an athlete.  Without proper spiritual conditioning, we will find ourselves falling behind, getting spiritually winded – another way of saying that we will struggle with sin and obedience. 

There are two qualities that are important both in manufacturing and in the Christian life.  Validity and Reliability.  Validity means that whatever it is, is made and functions according to the designer’s plan.  Reliability means that it continues to function in the same valid way every time.  Have you ever said of someone that they are unreliable?  That they can’t be counted on? Well, perhaps that could be said of us as well with respect to our walk with the Lord.  We all have feet of clay, but we also all have the Spirit of God and the capacity to live a super-natural life.  A life dependent upon the One who saved us and not ourselves. And so my friend, I think we need to look to Jesus and pick up the pace!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Letting God Use Your Life For His Glory Requires Faith - Are You Willing To Do It?

When He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. —John 11:6

{CHAMBERS} “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? […] Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? […] If God has given you a silence, then praise Him— He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes. […] For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (see Matthew 7:9). He did not give you a stone, and today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35). 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.”

{ELGIN} Certainly Mary and Martha expected Jesus to react immediately to their message to Him.  Why wouldn’t Jesus stop what He was doing and run to the aid of His friend?  Wouldn’t you do that?  I mean, a friend in need is a friend in deed, right?  What they asked was certainly well within Jesus ability, healing the sick.  The thing is, God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.(Isaiah 55:8) Jesus knew that even though there would be great sorrow and worry over this illness, that what Mary and Martha thought was the end of things, Jesus knew that it was not the end.  We look at life’s circumstances and consider them as hopeless, inevitable.  But God is not limited by our lack of faith in Him, our lack of spiritual perspective.  “Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory” (John 11:4)  The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  Are you willing to allow God to be glorified through you?  No matter how that happens?  I can tell you from personal experience, it will stretch your faith and will demand a sacrifice in some measure.  “Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”” (John 11:40)  So Jesus did the humanly impossible, the unimaginable – He called Lazarus out of the tomb.  What is it that is happening in your life for which you see no hope?  Trust God and not yourself (Proverbs 3:5-8) Our God – “is the God of all comfort who comforts us in our affliction.”  (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) What circumstance is your Lazarus, that you have accounted as dead, lacking any possibility of hope that it can live again, that God will use as an opportunity to be glorified?  Are you willing to allow God to use your life for His glory?  Are your sure?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Are You Living With A Half-Baked Heart?

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

{CHAMBERS} We do not grow into a spiritual relationship step by step— we either have a relationship or we do not. God does not continue to cleanse us more and more from sin— “But if we walk in the light,” we are cleansed “from all sin” (1 John 1:7). It is a matter of obedience, and once we obey, the relationship is instantly perfected. But if we turn away from obedience for even one second, darkness and death are immediately at work again.  All of God’s revealed truths are sealed until they are opened to us through obedience. […] Let God’s truth work into you by immersing yourself in it, not by worrying into it. […] If you obey God in the first thing He shows you, then He instantly opens up the next truth to you. […] And it is not study that brings understanding to you, but obedience. […] God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already.

{ELGIN} “Trust and obey for there is not other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to Trust and Obey”  When James wrote “Faith  by itself, without works, is dead” (James 2:17)  the implication is that we are to do something.  Something good.  That something good is doing the will of the Father.  Obeying God.  We tend to think of us doing something by ourselves.  Not so.  If you have faith you will show it by being obedient to the Father, that may mean but does not necessarily mean giving  a cup of cold water to a thirsty man.  Even the unsaved can do that … and they do.  There are many who are lost that do “good” things for others.  Think about the story of the rich young ruler.  Faith, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1), is all about trust in the Father and in the work of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection.  Listen, God never blesses us before obedience, it is always after.  If you are living your life with a half-baked heart – one foot in heaven and the other planted firmly in the world – you ask God for blessings and then call your new car a blessing which you bought on credit and are indebted to the world?  John wrote, “love not the world or the things of this world” (1 John 2:15)  Mark my words, when you are laying on your death bed, it will not be the car that is on your mind and heart.  You know what God wants you to do … so do it. You will be blessed beyond measure .. but it won’t be a new car .. and that, frankly, won’t matter to you because your heart will be fixed on the Father.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Don't Be A Christian Could-A Had-A

…present…your members as instruments of righteousness to God. —Romans 6:13

{CHAMBERS} “I cannot save and sanctify myself; I cannot make atonement for sin; I cannot redeem the world; I cannot right what is wrong, purify what is impure, or make holy what is unholy. That is all the sovereign work of God. Do I have faith in what Jesus Christ has done? He has made the perfect atonement for sin. Am I in the habit of constantly realizing it? The greatest need we have is not to do things, but to believe things. […] We cannot do anything pleasing to God unless we deliberately build on the foundation of the atonement by the Cross of Christ. […] Obedience means that I have completely placed my trust in the atonement, and my obedience is immediately met by the delight of the supernatural grace of God.”

{ELGIN} There was nothing we could do to save ourselves except place our faith in Jesus Christ and there is nothing we can do to be successful in this new life except to submit to the will of God – to say “yes Lord, I will trust you and obey.  Yes Lord, yes to your will and to your way. When your Spirit speaks to me, with my whole heart I’ll agree and I will answer yes Lord, yes.”  The is a phrase from a great song, but it is much more than that.  It describes the attitude of the heart of a Christian walking by faith in obedience to the voice and direction of God.  While driving around Pasadena Texas, I saw a pizza restaurant – Peter Piper Pizza.  That brought back memories to Martie and me from our time at Fort Bliss in El Paso Texas in the early ‘80s.  We loved the jalapeno pizza!  Their advertising slogan was “Don’t be a could-a had-a! Don’t say I could-a had-a Peter Piper pizza!”  Well, I would say the same to you about your life in Christ.  We choose our level of spirituality.  Once you are born again, you can choose to grow in your faith or you can vegetate.  Never grow up.  Never experience the fullness of your faith and blessing found in trust and obedience.  Do you trust God enough to leave your old nature behind.  Or are you  like Lot’s wife, looking back longingly to what you are leaving behind, even though God has said that is what you must do.

Listen, we all struggle with laying the natural down and picking up our cross of submission and faith and following Jesus.  This new life of our requires determination and deliberate action.  There is a tension between the natural and the supernatural.  If you don’t grow your faith through the Word, prayer, worship and fellowship with other   believers you will always find it hard to walk in obedience to God and easy to slip back into your old, natural ways.  The ways that God has called you to leave.  The ways that do not honor God.  Friend don’t be a “Could-a Had-a” I could have had a more fulfilling life in Christ, if only I had trusted Him and not myself to decide what is good and what the Lord required of me. (Micah 6:8) “But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God”. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Why You Have A Problem With Consistency As A Christian

My Utmost For His Highest

When it pleased God…to reveal His Son in me… —Galatians 1:15-16

{CHAMBERS} “[…] I have a heredity in which I had no say or decision; I am not holy, nor am I likely to be; and if all Jesus Christ can do is tell me that I must be holy, His teaching only causes me to despair. […] Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into anyone the hereditary nature that was in Himself, and all the standards He gives us are based on that nature— His teaching is meant to be applied to the life which He puts within us. The proper action on my part is simply to agree with God’s verdict on sin as judged on the Cross of Christ. […] The moral miracle of redemption is that God can put a new nature into me through which I can live a totally new life. […] Just as the nature of sin entered into the human race through one man, the Holy Spirit entered into the human race through another Man (see Romans 5:12-19). And redemption means that I can be delivered from the heredity of sin, and that through Jesus Christ I can receive a pure and spotless heredity, namely, the Holy Spirit.”

{ELGIN} Sin entered in through the first Adam.  Redemption entered in through the second Adam, Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:45)  Pretty simple.  So why is it so hard to live in that redemption? The truth is that it is not, so long as you are willing to lay your life down and live by the faith and the power of the Spirit.  You --- cannot live the new life through determination and effort.  You can only live the new life through submission and sacrifice.  We must stop trying to “be good” and allow Him IS good to live through us.  The word Father means Source.  God is the source of all that is good.  It is by His grace that we are saved through our faith.  Do not be content with a mediocre Christian existence.  And it’s not attending church that makes you a better Christian.  You can sit in a pew with a hard heart just as easily as you can sit on your sofa at home.  Another conference is not the answer.  Yielding your heart to God is the answer.  Picking up your cross daily and following Jesus is the answer.  Offering yourself as a living sacrifice is the answer.  Living by faith.  Walking by the power of the Spirit.  Not leaning on your own understanding but trusting God is the answer.  Do you need other Christians to help, most probably.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken!  But you can hang out with Billy Graham with your hard heart to no avail.  And this culture, this fallen world will certainly harden your heart toward the things of God.  Don’t kid yourself.  Don’t pretend.  We all struggle with this malady.  Friend we all need more Jesus.  He is the way, truth, and life. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Christian - Stop Living With a Divided Heart And A Double Mind

Just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned… —Romans 5:12

{CHAMBERS} “The Bible does not say that God punished the human race for one man’s sin, but that the nature of sin, namely, my claim to my right to myself, entered into the human race through one man. But it also says that another Man took upon Himself the sin of the human race and put it away— an infinitely more profound revelation (see Hebrews 9:26). The nature of sin is not immorality and wrongdoing, but the nature of self-realization which leads us to say, “I am my own god.” This nature may exhibit itself in proper morality or in improper immorality, but it always has a common basis— my claim to my right to myself. When our Lord faced either people with all the forces of evil in them, or people who were clean-living, moral, and upright, He paid no attention to the moral degradation of one, nor any attention to the moral attainment of the other. He looked at something we do not see, namely, the nature of man (see John 2:25).

Sin is something I am born with and cannot touch— only God touches sin through redemption. It is through the Cross of Christ that God redeemed the entire human race from the possibility of damnation through the heredity of sin. God nowhere holds a person responsible for having the heredity of sin, and does not condemn anyone because of it. Condemnation comes when I realize that Jesus Christ came to deliver me from this heredity of sin, and yet I refuse to let Him do so. From that moment I begin to get the seal of damnation. “This is the condemnation [and the critical moment], that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light…” (John 3:19).”

{ELGIN}  Normally I try to find a few nuggets of spiritual truth in the Chamber’s devotion as a segue into an elaboration on those spiritual truths.  And then there are time when the devotion is so rich with truth, I quote the entire devotion.  Today is such a day. The essence is this.  Man chose to go his own way in the Garden in response to Satan’s question “Did God really say you will surely die?”  In other words, “What does God know?”  You know what is best for you, you don’t need God telling you what to do. “You can be your own god.”  Adam and Eve chose to believe Satan and sin entered in.  The eating the fruit was not the evil thing, it was disobedience that was evil.  Humans are capable of doing much good and much evil.  We would like to think that the good people have a shot of getting into heaven, but the only way is to be born again (John 3) by faith in Jesus (John 14) and not by trying harder (Ephesians 2).  Your desire to be your own god will haunt you until the day you see Jesus face to face. (Romans 7) You can only be successful in this new life by trusting in Jesus and keeping yours eyes on Him and your heart devoted to God.  That, my friend, doesn’t just happen, it requires a determined effort on your part.  It is important to understand your old nature and understand your new nature.  They are incompatible.  Your can’t do both.  “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8) It’s up to you what you do with it.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

We Respond To Life With The Nature That Rules Our Hearts

…to those who are…called to be saints… —1 Corinthians 1:2

{CHAMBERS} “[…] We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to be battered into the shape of the vision to be used by God? […] There are times when we do know what God’s purpose is; whether we will let the vision be turned into actual character depends on us, not on God. If we prefer to relax on the mountaintop and live in the memory of the vision, then we will be of no real use in the ordinary things of which human life is made.”

{ELGIN}  How do you approach life?  I mean .. as you live from one event to another .. from one breath to another breath … what is it that determines how you respond to the events in your life?  What you think .. what you do .. what you say.  As Christians we have a choice, actually.  Because this new life we live, we live in the flesh by faith, we can choose to respond in the natural or in the supernatural.  We can respond as the world does, or we can respond like Jesus did.  How you respond is determined by your true disposition.  If you see your new life as merely an attribute, like being a citizen of the United States or having red hair, then you are in trouble spiritually.  You can hope to respond to life differently, but it is not going to happen.  Often times, we confuse spiritual response with natural constraint.  Let me explain by example.

Mary is talking to you when she says something that is very offensive. How do you respond?  Naturally, you are thinking an unkind thought, but you restrain yourself so as not to give how you really feel away.  Spiritually, you are not affected by the words, but see Mary’s heart, the source of what comes out of her mouth, and pray for her.  You hold no grudge against her, but have forgiven her for the offense.  You show compassion for Mary.  Like Jesus did for those who crucified Him.  The offense will not be logged away in your heart to be pulled up at some time in the future.  Let’s say your children are like whirlwinds in your house.  They won’t listen so you yell at them.  You just can’t take it anymore.  You can’t help yourself.  You are right … your old nature is stronger than your will to not yell at your children … but your old nature is not stronger than your new nature, whose source is the Creator God.  You will respond to life from your true nature .. which nature is that?  The one that rules your heart.  Not the one that you want to rule, but the one that sits on the throne.  Living supernaturally does not just happen, it is a deliberate process, yielding your life to God each day, living by faith, meditating on the Word (when was the last time you read the Bible on your own?)  You are a child of God, don’t be satisfied with anything less.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Serving God Requires Faith Plus The Power Of God

He said to them, "This kind [of unclean spirit] can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting." —Mark 9:29

{CHAMBERS}  ““His disciples asked Him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ ” (Mark 9:28). The answer lies in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. […] We can remain powerless forever, as the disciples were in this situation, by trying to do God’s work without concentrating on His power, and by following instead the ideas that we draw from our own nature. We actually slander and dishonor God by our very eagerness to serve Him without knowing Him. When you are brought face to face with a difficult situation and nothing happens externally, you can still know that freedom and release will be given because of your continued concentration on Jesus Christ. Your duty in service and ministry is to see that there is nothing between Jesus and yourself. Is there anything between you and Jesus even now? […] Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)“

{ELGIN} You cannot do anything for God unless it is done by faith in God.  Oh, you can do things in His name, but it really amounts to work accomplished by your own effort.  Ephesians 2:8,9 says we are saved by grace through faith not of works lest any man boast that somehow he had saved himself by his own effort.  And so it is when you step out for God.  There is nothing I can do that pleases God in terms of effort, what God wants from me is a broken and contrite heart and a willingness to pick up my cross and follow Jesus.  But God I am so smart. Who gave you your intelligence?  When you serve God you must lay a spiritual foundation.  If you say “yes” God will take you places that would crush your spirit and cause you to feint in the intensity of the circumstances. Whether it be a lion’s dens, a fiery furnace, or ministering to a difficult person in a difficult situation, God is sufficient to meet your needs. (Philippians 4:19) “… my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Have you ever wondered what the difference was between a Christian giving someone a drink of water and a non-Christian doing the same thing?  The person receiving the water has their thirst quenched either way.  Sometimes we are guilty of thinking that only Christians can do “good” things.  Not true.  But the is something supernatural going on when a Christian serves others.  Jesus told the woman at the well that He had living water to give her.  He could offer water to her soul … and so can you.  You must have the Spirit of God in you to do that.  There are organizations involved in disaster relief that have the  reputation for being “spiritual” but, in fact merely have a religious veneer. They will not allow Christians to share their faith in their desire to be “ecumenically correct” and not offend people of other beliefs or no belief at all.  Disasters are not an opportunity to take advantage of people’s vulnerability.  But they do give opportunity for the Church to rise up and be ready to give a reason for the hope that is within them. (1 Peter 3:15)  There are no spiritual strings attached to our serving others, but there is spiritual power behind it.  God uses circumstances to speak to the lost.  Sometimes He whispers and sometimes He SHOUTS!  In any case we must be ready to shine the light of Jesus whatever the situation and circumstance.

Monday, October 2, 2017

What To Do When Trouble Comes Your Way - Rejoice!

If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. —Mark 9:22

{CHAMBERS} “The height of the mountaintop is measured by the dismal drudgery of the valley, but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God. We see His glory on the mountain, but we never live for His glory there. It is in the place of humiliation that we find our true worth to God— that is where our faithfulness is revealed. Most of us can do things if we are always at some heroic level of intensity, simply because of the natural selfishness of our own hearts. But God wants us to be at the drab everyday level, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship with Him. […] Look back at your own experience and you will find that until you learned who Jesus really was, you were a skillful skeptic about His power. When you were on the mountaintop you could believe anything, but what about when you were faced with the facts of the valley? You may be able to give a testimony regarding your sanctification, but what about the thing that is a humiliation to you right now?”

{ELGIN} What is your expectation of your new life in Christ? Is it that things will go your way.  That troubles will somehow skip over your house and land on another because you are sanctified and justified in Jesus?  If you have been a Christian longer than a day, you know that is not going to happen.  So how do you reconcile the idea of faith, hope and love with the reality of living your life in a sin-sick world?  Well … we have faith, we have hope, we are loved and demonstrate the love of God in spite of the world we live in.  In spite of the trouble that comes.  (2 Corinthians 4:8-10) “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” Does that sound like we are going to live a “trouble-free” life?  Ok how about this? Jesus said (John 16:33) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Ok, one more … (James 1:2-4) “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Trouble is a test and without a test there is no test-imony. Our lives should be the “fragrance of Christ”. (2 Corinthians 2:14-15) “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing…”  In the testing of your faith through the realities of living this life on earth, the world can and should Jesus in you.  That is unless you choose to face life on your own.  Doing your best to deal with whatever comes your way.  Ignoring the power that is within you that comes by faith and doing your best to deal with your trouble using your own wisdom and strength.  Oh friend, God did not intend for you to live your new life the same way that you lived your old one.  You are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.  You must live by faith and not by sight.  Everyday you must look to the hills from whence your help cometh.  Look up and let your light shine among men .. to the glory of God and salvation of the lost.  Especially when trouble comes your way.