Thursday, April 30, 2015

Loving Others Is A Daily Endeavor

“Love suffers long and is kind…” —1 Corinthians 13:4

“We cannot predetermine our thoughts and actions by saying, “Now I will never think any evil thoughts, and I will believe everything that Jesus would have me to believe.” […] We don’t deliberately set the statements of Jesus before us as our standard, but when His Spirit is having His way with us, we live according to His standard without even realizing it. […] The fountains from which love flows are in God, not in us. It is absurd to think that the love of God is naturally in our hearts, as a result of our own nature. His love is there only because it “has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” (Romans 5:5). The evidence of our love for Him is the absolute spontaneity of our love, which flows naturally from His nature within us. And when we look back, we will not be able to determine why we did certain things, but we can know that we did them according to the spontaneous nature of His love in us. The life of God exhibits itself in this spontaneous way because the fountains of His love are in the Holy Spirit.” CHAMBERS

Have you ever thought about the commands we are given in the Bible. I am not just referring to the 10 commandments in Exodus 20, but the commands Jesus gave throughout  the four Gospels.  2 Timothy 3:16 says that all scripture is “God Breathed”, inspired by God through His Spirit.  You need the Spirit of God in you not only to understand the Truth, but also to obey the Truth.

(2 Corinthians 2: 12-16) “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments.. ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”

So when we are commanded to love God and love our neighbor, (Matthew 22:37-39) it is a spiritual command which must be done with the power of the Spirit in us.  We decide if we will obey the Spirit or quench the Spirit.  While the Spirit was given to us for a number of reasons … we still have choice.  If we try to do something spiritual in the power of our flesh .. we will fail … If you say, I just can’t forgive or I just can’t love someone .. you are right … but you can do all things in Christ who gives you strength. (Philippians 4:13) So your success in loving others .. in obeying the Word found in the strength of the Holy Spirit in you and weakness of your flesh.  That is a daily endeavor. ELGIN

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Trusting In God And Not Yourself

“…it has not yet been revealed what we shall be…” —1 John 3:2

“Our natural inclination is to be so precise– trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next– that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. […] Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life– gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. When we become simply a promoter or a defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God– it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, “…unless you…become as little children…” (Matthew 18:3). The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next.”  CHAMBERS

We want to know the future before we take the step.  I have seen and heard many people try to explain what faith in God looks like and what it means. When we “truly” put our faith in God .. the outcome is not really a concern that we have.  If we ask .. how can we possibly do it … or what “if”, then we do not know and trust our God.  But if we say, “though He slay me yet will I serve Him” (Job 13:15) or “even if He does not save us from the furnace” (Daniel 13:16-18) You see, at all times, God is sovereign.  Even if a bad thing should come upon us, He will be our strength.  And if that thing should take our mortal life … we have victory in the face of it … (1 Corinthians 15:55)  So the point is .. trust God, obey Him, and do not worry.  You cannot do that unless you are walking by His side.  Unless you look to Him first and not yourself.  Unless it is His purpose and not your own that you focus your life on.  Don’t make the mistake of going your own way, failing and then asking where God is … the truth will be .. you have left Him far behind and you are on your own … that is not a good place to be.  ELGIN

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Who Do People See When They Look At Your Life?

"Are you prepared to let God take you into total oneness with Himself, paying no more attention to what you call the great things of life? Are you prepared to surrender totally and let go? The true test of abandonment or surrender is in refusing to say, "Well, what about this?" Beware of your own ideas and speculations. The moment you allow yourself to think, "What about this?" you show that you have not surrendered and that you do not really trust God. But once you do surrender, you will no longer think about what God is going to do. Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions. If you totally abandon yourself to God, He immediately says to you, "I will give your life to you as a prize . . . ." The reason people are tired of life is that God has not given them anything- they have not been given their life "as a prize." The way to get out of that condition is to abandon yourself to God. And once you do get to the point of total surrender to Him, you will be the most surprised and delighted person on earth. God will have you absolutely, without any limitations, and He will have given you your life. If you are not there, it is either because of disobedience in your life or your refusal to be simple enough." CHAMBERS

To be one means that you lose your personal identity and take on the identity of the one you have become one with. That means their desires are now yours. When people look at you, they see the one you are one with. When I was going thru the security checkpoint in the Atlanta airport this morning, I took my phone off the conveyor and a guy behind yelled "hey, that is my phone". My driver’s license was in the phone holder so I showed it to him.  Then he said, " I guess that is not my phone". It was obvious that he was not the man pictured on the driver's license. He and I were distinguishable from each other. No one would say we were one because we were clearly not alike.  To be one with Christ means that when people see you, they see Him.

John 14:8-11  “Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”

What we do and say should remind people of Jesus.  Should demonstrate that Jesus is living in us.  We all have work to do, don't we?   You can't do it by trying harder, but only by yielding more, drawing nearer to God through his word, prayer, and worship. Today would be a good day to start.  ELGIN

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

What Does Your Life Give Testimony To?

“Be ready in season and out of season.” —2 Timothy 4:2

“The season does not refer to time; it refers to us. This verse says, “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season.” In other words, we should “be ready” whether we feel like it or not. If we do only what we feel inclined to do, some of us would never do anything. There are some people who are totally unemployable in the spiritual realm. They are spiritually feeble and weak” CHAMBERS

When I read this devotion this morning, the thought that came to my mind was being a witness to the world around me.  Someone is always watching … What kind of testimony does your life shout out to the world?  I can remember when I was a young boy, my dad told me that I should not smoke cigarettes while he was smoking a cigarette.  And I thought “If they are so bad why do you smoke them?” I can remember a sergeant in Vietnam telling me I should reenlist in the Army as I neared the time I was to go back to the States.  He was drunk at the time and I thought “you want me to be like you, I don’t think so?” I can remember my mom, after she became a Christian sharing Christ with me and my sisters.  We knew what she had been like before she accepted Jesus, and we were all waiting for her to prove that she was no different … we knew she couldn’t keep that “act” up forever … but we discovered it was not an act … she was a changed person …

Be careful that you do not live one way and preach another.  People don’t listen to your words so much as they watch your actions.  Are you living immersed in the pagan culture around you … yes, I called the American culture "pagan" .. and at the same time telling people about Jesus? If so, you are testifying for the world not for God .. even though you words may seem spiritual.  The world has nothing to offer but ultimate death .. I am talking about the second death … Jesus offers life … think about what you are doing … don’t "conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind … to prove (show or give testimony to)  that which is the good and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2) ELGIN

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Friday, April 24, 2015

How Do You Measure Success?

“Worldliness is not the trap that most endangers us as Christian workers; nor is it sin. The trap we fall into is extravagantly desiring spiritual success; that is, success measured by, and patterned after, the form set by this religious age in which we now live. Never seek after anything other than the approval of God, and always be willing to go “outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13). In Luke 10:20, Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in successful service, and yet this seems to be the one thing in which most of us do rejoice. We have a commercialized view— we count how many souls have been saved and sanctified, we thank God, and then we think everything is all right. Yet our work only begins where God’s grace has laid the foundation. Our work is not to save souls, but to disciple them. Salvation and sanctification are the work of God’s sovereign grace, and our work as His disciples is to disciple others’ lives until they are totally yielded to God.” CHAMBERS

How do you measure spiritual success?  Should you measure spiritual success?  Why would you want to measure spiritual success.  In the culture that we live in, value is measured by visible results.  You do thus and so and if you are successful, you will see a measurable result.  If you are a missionary .. you should see conversions … if you are a pastor … you should see and ever expanding church …. Etc.  But there is a problem … there have been missionaries that have toiled for years with not one person receiving the Lord, but when they had died … there was a great fruit.  So what is going on?  I recall the first sentence in the book “Purpose Driven Life”, “it’s not about me.”  The life of a Christian is spiritual.  The work that we do is spiritual.  (1 Corinthians 3:5-7) “as the Lord has assigned to each his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.  So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”  What happens spiritually depends upon the hand of God. 

There is a temptation to begin to think that somehow, we are the ones who are producing the result.  In 2 Samuel 24 David decided to number the people.  The people around him warned him not to do it, but he had it done anyway.  And God became angry.  Why? Because David was taking credit in his heart for something that God had done.  He was robbing God of His glory.  There is the danger in our trying to quantify the results of our work and thereby taking credit for what has happened.  To measure our effectiveness in ministry.  While Martie and I were having lunch yesterday, a young man approached our table.  He introduced himself, saying that he had met us years ago in Waveland.  He thanked us for the impact we had, unknowingly, had on his life.  When he returned home, he and his wife started a ministry in the inner city and have been serving there for the past 8 years.  We had no idea that had happened. And really, we didn’t need to know … You see it was God at work not us … He used us to impact that young man’s life who then impacted the lives of many others … I had to check my spirit and not accept his gratitude as if that had happened because of me … so somehow my work and service had been validated.  God may let us see the increase that He brings now and again … and we say praise God for what He has done.  If you really want to measure something … measure how much your life reflects Jesus Christ.  Trust me, that will keep your pride in check.  CHARLEY

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)