Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Do You Practice Foxhole Religion - Don't Make Empty Promises To God

The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. —Job 42:10

{CHAMBERS} “A pitiful, sickly, and self-centered kind of prayer and a determined effort and selfish desire to be right with God are never found in the New Testament. The fact that I am trying to be right with God is actually a sign that I am rebelling against the atonement by the Cross of Christ. I pray, “Lord, I will purify my heart if You will answer my prayer— I will walk rightly before You if You will help me.” But I cannot make myself right with God; I cannot make my life perfect. I can only be right with God if I accept the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ as an absolute gift. […] I must leave myself completely alone in His hands, and then I can begin to pour my life out in the priestly work of intercession. […] “The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends.” As a saved soul, the real business of your life is intercessory prayer. Whatever circumstances God may place you in, always pray immediately that His atonement may be recognized and as fully understood in the lives of others as it has been in yours. Pray for your friends now, and pray for those with whom you come in contact now.”

{ELGIN} Foxhole religion. If you were ever in the military in a war you know what that is.  It’s when you are afraid .. in mortal danger ..  and you make a promise to God. “God if you will spare me I promise to be good.”  We find ourselves in a jam and we are looking for a way out.  A prayer of the flesh – devoid of any spiritual context – and what happens when you are spared?  The pray fades in your memory.  So often we treat prayer like a 911 call.  “I have an emergency and need to be rescued! Lord save me!” or perhaps “Lord restore what I have lost!”  Why? Because my trust and confidence was in that which was lost and not in the One to Whom I am praying.

(James 4:2-3) “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. 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.”

The New Testament is replete with admonitions to distance yourself from the world and the things of the world .. to trust God .. to not worry .. but we do anyway.  What the Bible says to do .. you cannot apart from Christ in you.  “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  God is not our first thought – He is our afterthought?   Sound harsh?  Listen – it is a problem that every Christian must contend with.  Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God – the Father – with all of your being.  That does not leave much room for anything else.  But – out of that love will flow everything else.  Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world. God is interested in our spiritual success and obedience not in our earthly affluence.  Too many have compromised their faith because of the things of this world.  Like the song of the sirens, you will be lured into the rocks resulting in spiritual impotence.  Be careful my friend.  Wanting to not be like that will not make it so … that will happen when you commit your heart to God and pursue Him.  Think about it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

If You Really Love Jesus - You Need To Grow Up

…do you love Me?…Tend My sheep. —John 21:16

{CHAMBERS} “Jesus did not say to make converts to your way of thinking, but He said to look after His sheep, to see that they get nourished in the knowledge of Him. We consider what we do in the way of Christian work as service, yet Jesus Christ calls service to be what we are to Him, not what we do for Him. Discipleship is based solely on devotion to Jesus Christ, not on following after a particular belief or doctrine. “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate…, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). In this verse, there is no argument and no pressure from Jesus to follow Him; He is simply saying, in effect, “If you want to be My disciple, you must be devoted solely to Me.” […] People do not really want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is deeply offensive to the educated minds of today, to those who only want Him to be their Friend, and who are unwilling to accept Him in any other way. Our Lord’s primary obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of people— the saving of people was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. […] if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity, even though people may treat me like a “doormat.” The secret of a disciple’s life is devotion to Jesus Christ, and the characteristic of that life is its seeming insignificance and its meekness. Yet it is like a grain of wheat that “falls into the ground and dies”— it will spring up and change the entire landscape (John 12:24).

{ELGIN}  If you love God then you will love people. (Matthew 22:37-39)  If you are Jesus’ disciple you will do what He did. (John 14:15) He obeyed the will of the Father and the world was blessed. (John 6:38) If you live by faith and not just a religious philosophy then , good works will flow naturally from you. (James 2:18)

It’s not uncommon for people to praise me for what I do.  When I tell them “Give the credit to God.” They look at me like it is feigned humility.  I know that I can not take credit for anything.  God has given me everything .. every ability ..He formed me (Psalm 139:13)  If I can take credit for anything it is offering my life to Him .. that is an act of my will (Romans 12:1-2) You may be born again but the life that follows is one of willful obedience to the Father or willful obedience to the old nature, which is to say willful disobedience to the Father.  The real tragedy is convincing yourself that you are doing the former when you are really doing the latter. 

(2 Timothy 3:1-5) “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”  Does that sound like the culture in this country?  The American Christian culture?  You say “That is NOT me!” I say “Praise the Lord!” It is a description of the carnal Christian. 

(1 Corinthians 3:1-3) “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” Pastor Brian Lambert, in his sermon last Sunday, addressed three types of Christians – Infants who know they believe in Jesus and are saved but have trouble applying the Word to their lives; Adolescents who are focused on taking in the Word and applying it to their lives, and Mature Adults who know Jesus and are making Him known as they live lives obedient to the will of the Father.  I am not judging anyone, but am encouraging you … no matter at what stage of Christian development you are … to never be satisfied but pursue God to your last day on this Earth.  The fact is, many of us just need to Grow Up! That should be the desire of your heart. To be found faithful on the day you meet Jesus face to face … either in Heaven or when He returns.

Monday, June 18, 2018

When You Live By Faith - The World Will Think You Are Crazy

…Peter…walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid… —Matthew 14:29-30

{CHAMBERS} “The wind really was boisterous and the waves really were high, but Peter didn’t see them at first. He didn’t consider them at all; he simply recognized his Lord, stepped out in recognition of Him, and “walked on the water.” Then he began to take those things around him into account, and instantly, down he went. […] We step right out with recognition of God in some things, then self-consideration enters our lives and down we go. If you are truly recognizing your Lord, you have no business being concerned about how and where He engineers your circumstances. The things surrounding you are real, but when you look at them you are immediately overwhelmed, and even unable to recognize Jesus. Then comes His rebuke, “…why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). […] If you debate for even one second when God has spoken, it is all over for you. Never start to say, “Well, I wonder if He really did speak to me?” Be reckless immediately— totally unrestrained and willing to risk everything— by casting your all upon Him. […] It is only through abandonment of yourself and your circumstances that you will recognize Him. You will only recognize His voice more clearly through recklessness— being willing to risk your all.”

{ELGIN}  Faith can cause you to do crazy things, at least as far as the world is concerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14) “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” God has challenged us to “walk on the water” on a number of occasions.

The first was when He told me to leave the Army with over 17 years of very successful service.  A good friend told me “the Army will not let you out” since I was a career officer with an obligation and a bright future.  I told him – “If God wants me out, I’ll be out” and 90 days later, I was on the street having exchanged my flight suit for a business suit. 

After God had called us to the mission field I happened to see an old boss – I told him what I was doing – he asked if I had retired from working as a civilian with the Air Force – I said no, I had left to serve God on the mission field – he looked at me in disbelief – I had abandoned everything that he held dear … money - security - possessions - comfort

When we were leaving disaster relief work in Mississippi to open another chapter in our missional journey, as friend asked me what we were going to do – I replied – “We are going to Haiti”  He drew up close to me, looked me square in the eyes and asked “Are you crazy?” to which I replied – “It’s not my idea, it’s God’s!” 

The most recent was when we realized that God was calling out of the boat once again to go on mission. I had been working with the Air Force once again as an IT Systems Engineer.  God called us to Texas.  A good friend of mine asked me to meet for coffee.  He told me that now was not the time to “get out of the boat”.  There were considerations that I was apparently ignoring.  Like the disciples could have told Peter … wait for the waves to calm if you are going to do it!  But when God says “GO!” you must go.  That is part of trusting God.  It’s as if people think – “If God called you – He must not have thought about all of the issues going on”  It is a telling of what they trust in.  Many Christians have a qualified trust in God.  If Peter had, he never would have climbed out of the boat.  If we had we never would have left worldly success to obey God’s call. 

Please .. do not think that I am boasting about our great faith .. I say our because Martie has been in agreement and has been willing on every turn in the course of our lives.  (1 Corinthians 1:30-31) “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.””  Perhaps it’s time for you to get your feet wet.  If it is – look to Jesus for the strength to do what He asks you to do.

(Zechariah 4:6) “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Story About God Showing Up - He Is A Just In Time God

I wanted to share some insights that we have gained during the past 6 months.  And to encourage you to be more aware of the needs of the people around you.  (Matthew 25 helping the least of these)

There have been a couple of verses that the Lord has brought to our minds as we have walked the path of service that He has set our feet upon here in Texas. Specifically ….

Galatians 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens"

James 1:27 "Visit the widows in their affliction" (the major difference between a widow and a single mom is the way in which the husband left the home - one in death and the other disobedience to his vows to his wife and to God)

1 Timothy clarifies or expands on this verse.

1 Timothy 5:3-8 "Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.  But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.  Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

By God's design, most of the homes we have had the privilege to work on in Texas are owned by widows, one by a single mom, one by a single woman, and one by a couple.  Part of what we do is learn about the struggle both financial, emotional and relational that these women face. In every case, the immediate family has failed them.  They are "in need and left all alone".  

So where is the church in all of this?  When the family fails to help or is incapable of helping, according to the Word, that is when the local church should step in.  Frankly I don't see it happening.  I suppose that there are some churches that have intentional ministry to widows and single moms - but I don't see that happening here.

Pathfinder Mission is a "para-church" ministry which means that we "come along side" the local church .. stand in the gap, if you will.  Fill in where the church does not have the capacity to help.  We count it a privilege to be able to do that and believe that God has uniquely shaped us and strategically positioned us to o what we are doing.

Take a look at this link (KHOU Story).  It describes the situation the Mrs. Smith is facing.  She has lost hope, but not her faith. The takeaway from that video is that God provides.  I told Mrs. Smith that God had not forgotten her .. He had heard her cry for help.  (Note:  I actually didn't call people, I sent out an email and am still receiving responses.)  

The roof is only the tip of the iceberg.  After doing an assessment I found many problems that need to be corrected.  I intend to do just that with God's provision of finances and volunteer support.

As Paul Harvey would say "And now for the rest of the story … "  Helping Mrs. Smith has given me opportunity to share with the news reporter.  She has seen how God has provided … you see .. I think you heard the news casters talking about God on the television.  Amazing!

When KHOU asked me to help, I was first told that a corporation was going to provide the funds, she needed to find a reliable roofer - I contacted the roofer that I use. But, when the company found out what the roof would cost .. they backed out … So KHOU called me to say that they were cancelling their request for our help because there was no money … I told the reporter - "don't lose heart …. God will provide" and he did .. in one day …. through the Saints.  That gave me opportunity to talk about the Lord and His faithfulness and to encourage the reporter.  In addition, I have had opportunity to encourage the roofer ..  this is the third house he has helped me with  and he has been watching what is going on .. although he does not say much … he sees … I am confident that the Lord will give me opportunity to lift Jesus up.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Update on Smith House Restoration In Houston

Galatians 6:2 "Bear On Another's Burdens"

James 1:27 "Pure And Undefiled Religion - Helping Widows In Their Affliction"

This is an update on the Fund Raising effort for the Deborah Smith House

I conducted a detailed assessment two days ago. 

First, with respect to the funds needed .. we have met our financial goal for Phase 1 – get a dumpster in place, remove the trees from the yard and roof, replace the roof.

Phase 2 will be to ensure the house is safe – remove sheetrock – insulation – flooring - remove cabinets in Kitchen - treat for mold – fix sewer pipe in backyard

Phase 3 – plumbing – electrical repairs -  broken windows – exterior doors.

Phase 4 – put house back together

I won’t go into depth on this .. there is much to do … I will need volunteers when we start to put the house back together … and will put a call out well in advance …

I am also using some local volunteers – something that I didn’t have in Mississippi

Because of the codes in Texas, I can’t use electricians. Plumbers and HVAC from other states without having the permits pulled by local people .. down to being registered in the municipality.

You Are Born Again - Redeemed - Saved - Sealed - God's Own Possession - So What?

Also…add to your faith… —2 Peter 1:5 

{CHAMBERS} “In the matter of drudgery. Peter said in this passage that we have become “partakers of the divine nature” and that we should now be “giving all diligence,” concentrating on forming godly habits (2 Peter 1:4-5). We are to “add” to our lives all that character means. No one is born either naturally or supernaturally with character; it must be developed. Nor are we born with habits— we have to form godly habits on the basis of the new life God has placed within us. We are not meant to be seen as God’s perfect, bright-shining examples, but to be seen as the everyday essence of ordinary life exhibiting the miracle of His grace. […] It is difficult for us to do the “adding” that Peter mentioned here. We say we do not expect God to take us to heaven on flowery beds of ease, and yet we act as if we do! I must realize that my obedience even in the smallest detail of life has all of the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it. If I will do my duty, not for duty’s sake but because I believe God is engineering my circumstances, then at the very point of my obedience all of the magnificent grace of God is mine through the glorious atonement by the Cross of Christ. 

{ELGIN}  Do you see yourself as a partaker of the “divine nature”.  That on the day .. the hour .. the minute .. the second … the moment in time when you were born again by the Spirit of God … that forever more you have a spark of the Divine Nature of God in you? Isn’t that remarkable?  And yet .. for something so supernatural .. so amazing … so incomprehensible … it is all too often disregarded … our salvation becomes something that happened to us not something that is happening even today and will continue into infinity.  Wow! Why do you think that so many treat that amazing truth like it is a dirty t-shirt lying on the floor in their closet?  (Ephesians 1:13-14) “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Do you see that?  We are God’s possession .. we must stop acting like the willful children that we are and submit to the will of the Father. We are sealed – marked – with the Spirit  as a deposit – a guarantee – like earnest money you pay when you commit to buying an house.  God has committed to us that our home is in heaven because of our faith in His Son.  I want to encourage you to think about that this morning.  Think about the “So What”.  So if all that is true – what does that mean for the way I am to live my life before I get to heaven?  You can’t do that on your own.  It takes the power of God and self-denial.  (Mark 8:34-35) “Then he [Jesus] called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Jesus Saves Us - The Spirit Empowers Us - Our Faith And Obedience Enables Us

Abide in Me… —John 15:4

{CHAMBERS} “In the matter of determination. The Spirit of Jesus is put into me by way of the atonement by the Cross of Christ. I then have to build my thinking patiently to bring it into perfect harmony with my Lord. God will not make me think like Jesus— I have to do it myself. I have to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). “Abide in Me”— in intellectual matters, in money matters, in every one of the matters that make human life what it is. […] Am I preventing God from doing things in my circumstances by saying that it will only serve to hinder my fellowship with Him? How irrelevant and disrespectful that is! It does not matter what my circumstances are. […] It is unnecessary to change and arrange my circumstances myself. Our Lord’s …. never chose His own circumstances, but was meek, submitting to His Father’s plans and directions for Him. Just think of how amazingly relaxed our Lord’s life was! [….] You say, “Yes, Lord, just a minute— I still have this to do. Yes, I will abide as soon as this is finished, or as soon as this week is over. It will be all right, Lord. I will abide then.” […] In the initial stages it will be a continual effort to abide, but as you continue, it will become so much a part of your life that you will abide in Him without any conscious effort.”

{ELGIN}  (Ephesians 1:13-14) “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”  The Holy Spirit enlivens your new self toward God.  You put your faith in Jesus and God puts His Spirit in you.  The very same Shekinah Glory that led the Children of Israel in the desert … the very same that resided in the Holy of Holies in the temple.  Now you are the temple … and that Spirit leads you, or will if you will follow. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Think about how amazing that is.  Now think about the reverence that you show with respect to that amazing fact of your new life in Christ.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was some physical – visible change when you accepted Jesus .. .when you were born again by the Spirit?  (John 3: 4-8) “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”” 

Nicodemus didn’t understand because even though he was a teacher of the precepts of God, he only had a natural understanding of the facts he was teaching.  Be careful that you don’t make the same mistake.  The Spirit of God will give you understanding but only if you seek it.  If you rely on yourself and your culture you will miss it and struggle in your Christian life.  Think about it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Trusting Your Old Nature - Why It Seems Being A Christian Is Not Working For You

…come, follow Me. —Luke 18:22

{CHAMBERS} “Where our individual desire dies and sanctified surrender lives. One of the greatest hindrances in coming to Jesus is the excuse of our own individual temperament. We make our temperament and our natural desires barriers to coming to Jesus. Yet the first thing we realize when we do come to Jesus is that He pays no attention whatsoever to our natural desires. […] There is actually only one thing you can dedicate to God, and that is your right to yourself (see Romans 12:1). If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you— and His experiments always succeed. The one true mark of a saint of God is the inner creativity that flows from being totally surrendered to Jesus Christ. […] A saint realizes that it is God who engineers his circumstances; consequently there are no complaints, only unrestrained surrender to Jesus. […] If you abandon everything to Jesus, and come when He says, “Come,” then He will continue to say, “Come,” through you. You will go out into the world reproducing the echo of Christ’s “Come.” That is the result in every soul who has abandoned all and come to Jesus.”

{ELGIN} Have you ever said or perhaps heard someone say “That is just the way I am” or “That is how our family is” Romans 12:1-2 says that we are to offer ourselves to God and be transformed and not be conformed to this world any more.  When we are satisfied with our lives when they are inconsistent with the expressed Word of God and life of Jesus it is because we are focused on flesh – our old nature.  We are content with it or perhaps think it inescapable.  If I asked you, “Do you believe the Word of God is truth?”  My guess is that you would say yes.  Then I would say to you … “If you are a Christian then the Word is true for you.  God has given you the supernatural capacity to be and do.”  So what is the problem?  Surrender.  We find comfort in the “old life”.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation – like a butterfly – old things have passed away and all things are becoming new!” (my emphasis) Let me tell you that if you are not willing to seek after those things that will strengthen you in your new life then you will live your life with both feet firmly planted in your old nature, all the while wondering why being a Christian is not “working for you”.  There is a tension in all of us between fear and faith.  To let go and let God requires surrender.  There that word is again.  Matthew 16:24-26 “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” 

You must say no to your old nature and the way you do that is by saying yes to God. Paul wrote in Romans 7 that he does the things he does not want to do and does not do the things he wants  and knows to do that are consistent with his Faith.  Then he says that answer is Jesus.  Nothing has changed … the answer for you and me is the same as it was for Paul.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Jesus Is The Answer For The World (And For You) Yesterday, Today, And Forever

Come to Me… —Matthew 11:28

{CHAMBERS} “Our Lord’s words are not, “Do this, or don’t do that,” but— “Come to me.” If I will simply come to Jesus, my real life will be brought into harmony with my real desires. […]  Have you ever come to Jesus? Look at the stubbornness of your heart. You would rather do anything than this one simple childlike thing— “Come to Me.” […]  Personal contact with Jesus changes everything. Be “foolish” enough to come and commit yourself to what He says. The attitude necessary for you to come to Him is one where your will has made the determination to let go of everything and deliberately commit it all to Him. “…and I will give you rest”— that is, “I will sustain you, causing you to stand firm.”” 

{ELGIN}  I appreciate most of the contemporary Christian music, but there is much to be said for the “old” hymns … like this one. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.  “O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.” The message is simple and clear.  I thought about this song as I read Chambers’ devotion this morning.  When we are going our own way the last thing we want to do is see Jesus.  It’s like being in a place where you should not be or doing something you should not do and your parents show up. We don’t want a reminder that where we are or what we are doing is not right.  Sin loves the darkness.  Or perhaps you are struggling with a life issue and you have retreated within yourself. Look to Jesus.  Jesus is the answer and He is the source.  In Jesus we have peace.  I saw a bumper sticker that said “No Jesus No Peace – Know Jesus Know Peace”  (I love the English language – No and Know are homonyms if anyone was wondering) 

So what does it mean to look to Jesus?  Glad you asked!  Step 1 is to stop looking at yourself and your ability to resist temptation or bear the weight of the problems you face.  Step 2 is to trust that the Word is true. Not merely acknowledge that it is true but to rest on that truth and not your or your culture’s wisdom and re-defined truth. Step 3 is to focus on Jesus in prayer … seek Him out in the Word … you have two natures .. the old and the new .. one is carnal the other is spiritual.  Jesus is offering a spiritual solution to carnal circumstances.  It doesn’t mean that the circumstance will go away .. it means that your perspective on the circumstance and how it affects you will change.  But what if you are like the man who asked Jesus to help him with his unbelief.  Believe it or not there are other Christians that the Lord has brought into your life that can come along side you.  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) “Two are better than one,  because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

I am not suggesting that you turn to another person who is drowning along with you.  I can’t help but smile when I hear teenagers tell each other, “I am here for you!” It is well intentioned, but the truth is that most likely all they can do is encourage each other as they go down for the third time.  No – you need to seek out someone who a strong swimmer – like a life guard – someone who is spiritually mature – not necessarily the pastor or counsellor, but it may be them – but someone who has spiritual wisdom – who is unwavering in their faith.  God has brought those people are around but you have to look in the right places.  My opinion, but Facebook is not the best way to find them.  Pray about it and God will bring them to mind.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Don't Do Something So You Can Be Something - Do Something Because You Are Something

If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. —John 13:17

{CHAMBERS} “Be determined to know more than others. If you yourself do not cut the lines that tie you to the dock, God will have to use a storm to sever them and to send you out to sea. Put everything in your life afloat upon God, going out to sea on the great swelling tide of His purpose, and your eyes will be opened. If you believe in Jesus, you are not to spend all your time in the calm waters just inside the harbor, full of joy, but always tied to the dock. You have to get out past the harbor into the great depths of God, and begin to know things for yourself— begin to have spiritual discernment. When you know that you should do something and you do it, immediately you know more. […] The counterfeit of obedience is a state of mind in which you create your own opportunities to sacrifice yourself, and your zeal and enthusiasm are mistaken for discernment. […] “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” (1 Samuel 15:22).”

{ELGIN} Knowing is not the same as doing. You can memorize scripture all you want or are able, but if don’t obey the scripture, it is to no avail.  It has not accomplished its purpose.  James wrote “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only” (James 1:22) We conjure up all kinds of substitutes for obedience to the Word.  The primary reason is .. well … it’s us.  We do not want to give in or give up … lay down .. turn away … or submit … we prefer to be in control … to not be is frightful .. so it is really an issue of trust and faith.  We don’t really trust God … our faith is not in Him but in ourselves. We have to protect ourselves … for many sad reasons … So what is the solution?  I have shared this before .. some time ago.  I can’t draw in this BLOG but if I could, I would show you the Navigator’s Wheel.  The Hub is Jesus – at the center.  There are 4 spokes..  The vertical spokes are meditation on the Word and Prayer.  The horizontal spokes are Witnessing and Fellowship with other Christians.  The rim of the wheel is the Christ Centered Life.  Each of the components of the wheel require us to do something.  Not do something so you can be something … be do something because you are something.  It starts with an intimidate relationship with Jesus and goes from there.  Works as a result of faith … not faith as a result of works. The Christian life is supernatural and dependent upon the Spirit of God – faith in Jesus and a willing – submitted heart.   If you are struggling with this .. there is no better time than today to turn the corner.  Stop trying to change on the outside and let God change you from the inside.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Being Like Jesus Is More Than Just Being Good

My Utmost For His Highest 

Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do… —John 14:13 

{CHAMBERS} “Am I fulfilling this ministry of intercession deep within the hidden recesses of my life? There is no trap nor any danger at all of being deceived or of showing pride in true intercession. It is a hidden ministry that brings forth fruit through which the Father is glorified. Am I allowing my spiritual life to waste away, or am I focused, bringing everything to one central point— the atonement of my Lord? Is Jesus Christ more and more dominating every interest of my life? If the central point, or the most powerful influence, of my life is the atonement of the Lord, then every aspect of my life will bear fruit for Him. […] Am I willing to give one minute out of every hour to concentrate on it? “If you abide in Me […] Am I abiding? Am I taking the time to abide? What is the greatest source of power in my life? Is it my work, service, and sacrifice for others, or is it my striving to work for God? […] It is not on what we spend the greatest amount of time that molds us the most, but whatever exerts the most power over us. We must make a determination to limit and concentrate our desires and interests on the atonement by the Cross of Christ. […] Does it appear to contradict sound logic or seem totally absurd? Yes, but what a glorious truth it is to a saint of God.”

{ELGIN} God’s intent is that we me conformed into the image of Jesus. (Romans 8:29) “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”  What exactly is that … the image of His Son, I mean?  We tend to limit it to Jesus as He walked on terra firma … the earth.  But what if it goes beyond that?  What if it extends into the heavenlies.  (Romans 8:34) “Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”  Just as Jesus is interceding with the Father for all of the saints … we too should be interceding for others with the Father. (James 5:16) “Pray for one another ….. The prayers of a righteous man (person) are powerful and effective”  Intercession. 

Jesus is our high priest.  (Hebrews 4:14-16)  “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” A priest makes intercession on behalf of others and if we are to be like Jesus, we should be willing, even eager, to stand before the Father on their behalf.  Today would be a good day to start.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

What To Do When God Gives You Opportunity

I normally don't post except for my morning devotions, but I thought I would share this happening as a way to encourage you in your faith.

(2 Timothy 4:2) "Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and teaching." You never know when God is going to give you the opportunity.  Be ready.  As it happened I was reading Ecclesiastes chapter 3 this morning.  There is a time or season for everything.

I took Martie's car in for a service this morning.  It was going to be a wait so they offered to drop me off at a store or restaurant and then they would pick me up.  The young man who drove was talking with me - idle banter - when he asked me what I did.  I told him and he said that he was from Salt Lake City and new a number of missionaries.  Although I did not ask, I assumed he was Mormon.  We chatted a bit about the life God has called Martie and me to.  As it happened, he also picked me up.  Our conversation led to discussing how to love your wife and how to deal with conflicts - differences of opinion.  I pointed him to scripture.  Before I got out of the car, he asked me if I was doing OK, if I was having trouble.  I told him that when you are in the center of God's will, you are always doing OK.  God provides. I gave him my card and encouraged him to look us up on the Web.  planting seeds.

It doesn't end there.  It took a while longer on the car service so they asked if they could take me home and they will come back to get me when the car is done.  New driver.  We talked about our being from Alabama and why.  About how hot it was and I added that we were used to it having lived in Haiti for 4 years.  He asked if the Haitians were open to the Gospel.  That surprised me.  So I talked to him about Christians in Haiti and the openness to the Gospel there.  That morphed into a conversation about the small church he attends and the fact that they don't do much with missions.  I talked to him about Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts.  I encouraged him that his little church should be faithful in Jerusalem and trust that God will bring the increase and ministry direction.

All of this just because Martie's car needed a service.  My point to you is be ready .. but more be willing.  You never know when and where God will give you opportunity to speak life into someone.  Maybe today!

Struggling With SIn? The Only Way To Win Is To Say Chieu Hoi - I Surrender!

…work out your own salvation…for it is God who works in you… —Philippians 2:12-13

CHAMBERS} “Your will agrees with God, but in your flesh there is a nature that renders you powerless to do what you know you ought to do. When the Lord initially comes in contact with our conscience, the first thing our conscience does is awaken our will, and our will always agrees with God. Yet you say, “But I don’t know if my will is in agreement with God.” Look to Jesus and you will find that your will and your conscience are in agreement with Him every time. What causes you to say “I will not obey” is something less deep and penetrating than your will. It is perversity or stubbornness, and they are never in agreement with God. The most profound thing in a person is his will, not sin. The will is the essential element in God’s creation of human beings— sin is a perverse nature which entered into people. In someone who has been born again, the source of the will is Almighty God. “…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” With focused attention and great care, you have to “work out” what God “works in” you— not work to accomplish or earn “your own salvation,” but work it out so you will exhibit the evidence of a life based with determined, unshakable faith on the complete and perfect redemption of the Lord. […] Do I believe that Almighty God is the Source of my will? God not only expects me to do His will, but He is in me to do it.”

{ELGIN}  Paul addresses the battle that rages between wanting to do the right but choosing the wrong instead in Romans chapter 7.  In the end he says “So I find this law at work: 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!” (Romans 7:21-25)  Our struggle with our old nature is a spiritual battle.  Many just give up feeling that trying to resist is futile – hopeless.  They resolve to be content with the presence of sin in their lives.  Instead of seeking Jesus out and letting the Spirit change them from within, they assume an air of spirituality and let that be their substitute for their new life in Christ.  We can never overcome our old nature through self-effort, only through total abandonment to Jesus.  It is a question of surrender. 

During the war in Vietnam there was a repatriation program named Chieu Hoi (chew hoy).  The original name of the Chieu Hoi Program was Phong-Trao Chieu-Tap Khang-Chieu Lam  Dong, or The Movement to Regroup Misled Members of the Resistance. Amongst the US forces the name eventually came to mean – “I surrender”.  The idea was that the Viet Cong (VC) could be restored – repatriated.  The VC would raise their weapons above the heads and say “Chieu Hoi” – I give up.  My point? In a similar manner we must raise our will above our heads and say “I surrender”.  It’s the only way to win.  I have quoted this before … it’s from the Focus on The Family study “The Truth Project”  Dr. Del Tackett asks the question “Do you believe that what you believe is really real?”  If you don’t really believe God and the Bible and willing to act on that belief then you are bound to struggle … because what you are attempting to do requires the power of God.  That can only be happen if you are willing to say “Chieu Hoi!”

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

What To Do When You Are Tempted To Hide In A Cave When Trouble Comes

He Himself has said….So we may boldly say… —Hebrews 13:5-6

{CHAMBERS} “My assurance is to be built upon God’s assurance to me. God says, “I will never leave you,” so that then I “may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6). In other words, I will not be obsessed with apprehension. This does not mean that I will not be tempted to fear, but I will remember God’s words of assurance. […] The faith of many people begins to falter when apprehensions enter their thinking, and they forget the meaning of God’s assurance— they forget to take a deep spiritual breath. The only way to remove the fear from our lives is to listen to God’s assurance to us.  What are you fearing? Whatever it may be, you are not a coward about it— you are determined to face it, yet you still have a feeling of fear. When it seems that there is nothing and no one to help you, say to yourself, “But ‘The Lord is my helper’ this very moment, even in my present circumstance.” Are you learning to listen to God before you speak, or are you saying things and then trying to make God’s Word fit what you have said? Take hold of the Father’s assurance, and then say with strong courage, “I will not fear.” It does not matter what evil or wrong may be in our way, because “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you….’ ” Human frailty is another thing that gets between God’s words of assurance and our own words and thoughts. When we realize how feeble we are in facing difficulties, the difficulties become like giants, we become like grasshoppers, and God seems to be nonexistent. But remember God’s assurance to us— “I will never…forsake you.””

{ELGIN} Courage is not the absence of fear, but action in the face of fear.  (Joshua 1:8-9) “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  That is what the Lord told Joshua as Joshua was called to leadership and mighty acts that could only be accomplished by the power of God as Joshua walked in obedience to the Word of God by faith in God.  It’s one thing to read or hear about others facing lions .. it’s quite another to feel the lion’s breath on your face.  That is how it often is when we read about the success stories of others, or hear testimonies.  But when we face challenges in our own lives, we get weak in the knees, we want to find a place to run.  That is how it was for Elijah (1 Kings 19:8-10) “So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. The Lord Appears to Elijah And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”” 

Elijah had just experience a great spiritual victory and had seen God show up as Elijah faced a people hostile to him and God.  Now he was hiding in a cave … fearful for his life.  Some peoples faith goes on and off like a light switch.  One minute they stand in the bright light of the glory of God and “click”, the next they are in the dark pit of despair.  (1 Kings 19:14,18) “He [Elijah] replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” [God said] “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal.”  

Listen – Elijah felt alone – but He was not alone – Elijah chose to be alone.  That is a mistake that many Christians make.  They need to draw close to other Christians, yet, instead they choose to hide in a cave.  They do exactly the opposite of what they should do.  Their fear captivates them.  They even fear other Christians.  Maybe you are struggling with the issues of life.  You are hiding from God and avoiding other Christians .. exactly the opposite of what you should be doing.  You are in darkness and dominated by the old nature.  Or perhaps you know someone who is.  I tell people that it is hard to hug a porcupine … you are going to get stuck by the quills … but you need to hug them anyway.  Think about it and reach out to someone.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Insanity Of Trusting In Yourself

He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." —Hebrews 13:5

{CHAMBERS} “What line of thinking do my thoughts take? Do I turn to what God says or to my own fears? Am I simply repeating what God says, or am I learning to truly hear Him and then to respond after I have heard what He says? “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6).[…] “I will never…forsake you.” Sometimes it is not the difficulty of life but the drudgery of it that makes me think God will forsake me. […] … as we grow in His grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, at this very moment. If we have God’s assurance behind us, the most amazing strength becomes ours, and we learn to sing, glorifying Him even in the ordinary days and ways of life.”

{ELGIN}  In my experience the greatest enemy facing my and my desire to follow God and yield to His leading and ways is, well…. It’s me.  I find it so easy to agree with God and acknowledge His precepts as right, and yet, when faced with life I turn to me and not Him.  The phrase Living by Faith is meant to be a plaque on the living room wall … or merely a pleasantry that we acknowledge as being right.  To live by faith – in God – means to trust Him first.  Living by faith is not like one of the bodily functions controlled by the autonomic nervous system .. like breathing and heart beats … something that you don’t have to think about … Living by faith is intentional … an act of the will.  If you are struggling in your faith, it is most likely that the source of the struggle is you .. not your circumstance.  Like the man who said to Jesus “Help me with my unbelief”  (Mark 9:21-24)  “Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!””

In this life on Earth, we are not spared form hardship or heartache, but … we can endure whatever life brings our way if we will only have faith in the One who sent His Son … Who created us from dust and breathed life into us.  Once in our natural birth and then again in our rebirth when He sealed us with His Spirit – the Breath of God.  I know that trusting God in the midst of the turmoil of life can be difficult .. maybe you think impossible … If Christians neglect the disciplines of the faith … if Sunday is the sum total of the time they spend with the Father … then when the test comes . .and it will come, they will likely get a failing grade.  Not because God was not able to sustain them, but because they chose to ignore Him and trust themselves.  Why is something that seems so simple, so hard to do? Because its our nature to trust ourselves even if it always leads to failure.  Remember that is the definition of insanity.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Resist The Temptation To Hide Behind The Veil Of Feigned Holiness

He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" —Ezekiel 37:3

{CHAMBERS} “Can a sinner be turned into a saint? Can a twisted life be made right? There is only one appropriate answer— “O Lord God, You know” (Ezekiel 37:3). Never forge ahead with your religious common sense and say, “Oh, yes, with just a little more Bible reading, devotional time, and prayer, I see how it can be done.” It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we see the activity and mistake panic for inspiration. […] We would much rather work for God than believe in Him. Do I really believe that God will do in me what I cannot do? The degree of hopelessness I have for others comes from never realizing that God has done anything for me. Is my own personal experience such a wonderful realization of God’s power and might that I can never have a sense of hopelessness for anyone else I see? Has any spiritual work been accomplished in me at all? The degree of panic activity in my life is equal to the degree of my lack of personal spiritual experience.[…] When God wants to show you what human nature is like separated from Himself, He shows it to you in yourself. If the Spirit of God has ever given you a vision of what you are apart from the grace of God (and He will only do this when His Spirit is at work in you), then you know that in reality there is no criminal half as bad as you yourself could be without His grace. […] “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells” (Romans 7:18). God’s Spirit continually reveals to His children what human nature is like apart from His grace.”

{ELGIN}  No one, except God, knows you like you do.  I am referring to the things that remain unrevealed to others.  I think most if not all of us prefer that people believe we are more spiritual than we really are.  We can behave really well on Sunday mornings .. for an hour or so anyway.  Most  of us struggle to be more righteous in our thinking and doing.  We learn to be content with our current level of sanctification.  It’s the best we can do!  It’s our old nature at work in us.  A constant struggle.  During the great revivals it was not uncommon for people to publicly confess their sins having come under great conviction by the Holy Spirit.  (John 16:8-9) “When he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me (Jesus);”  For that to have happened publicly there must first come conviction and brokenness privately.  When we hide behind a veil of feigned holiness, fearful that people will reject us if they really knew what we are made of, we cripple the new man.  I am not suggesting that we stand on a street corner and shout out every sin … but I am encouraging you to not let the fear of what men may think of keeping you from submitting to the conviction of the Spirit and confessing your sins to the Father.  Don’t show more respect or fear for men than you do for the Father.  (Matthew 10:28) “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  (Psalm 118:6) “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”  To do that requires faith … faith that comes from your pursuit after God.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

What Does It Mean To Be Like Jesus ?

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. […] The purpose of our Christian training is to get us into the right relationship to the “needs” of God and His will. […] 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}  Is it the desire of your heart that your life would be a perfect reflection of Jesus?  It’s a question I had to ask myself.  Oh I want to be a Christian.  I love God.  I follow Jesus.  I serve others. But .. do I really want to be like Jesus?  Think about this.  Most every Christian I know would say “yes” if I asked “Do you want to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength?” (Matthew 22:37) Jesus asked (Luke 6:46) "Why do you call me, 'LORD, LORD,' and do not do what I say?”  God’s intent is that we all become conformed to the image of Jesus.  That means being absolutely like Jesus in our obedience to the Father and His will.  I have a long way to go.  We all do, but the question is are you moving toward that goal .. each day … or are you content with being where you are?  To be like Jesus means to be willing to lay your life down .. to crucify your old nature … nail it to the cross and no longer be subject to it .. attracted by it .. content with it still having its way in your life.  Treating others the way Jesus did and not the way your ego, insecurities, and emotions cause you to treat them.  Showing the world what grace and mercy look like without compromising your faith in or obedience to the Father.  That requires spiritual wisdom which can only come from God and devotion to God.  Devoting yourself to seeking out the Father’s will – every day.  That is the life that I want but it is also the life that I am prone to neglect if I am not careful.  Take some time to examine yourself this morning and then spend some time with the Lord.  Then let the world see what Jesus looks like in the life of a Believer.  Fulfill your purpose.