Friday, June 30, 2017

So Far As It Depends Upon You Be At Peace With All Men

Agree with your adversary quickly… —Matthew 5:25

{CHAMBERS}  “In this verse, Jesus Christ laid down a very important principle by saying, “Do what you know you must do— now. Do it quickly. […] From our Lord’s standpoint it doesn’t matter whether I am cheated or not, but what does matter is that I don’t cheat someone else. Am I insisting on having my own rights, or am I paying what I owe from Jesus Christ’s standpoint?  Do it quickly— bring yourself to judgment now. In moral and spiritual matters, you must act immediately. […] God is determined to have His child as pure, clean, and white as driven snow, and as long as there is disobedience in any point of His teaching, He will allow His Spirit to use whatever process it may take to bring us to obedience. The fact that we insist on proving that we are right is almost always a clear indication that we have some point of disobedience. […] Have you suddenly reached a certain place in your relationship with someone, only to find that you have anger in your heart? Confess it quickly— make it right before God. Be reconciled to that person— do it now!”

{ELGIN}  One of the hallmarks of the life of Jesus was humility.  (Philippians 2:3-11) “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Seeking to be reconciled with someone requires humility, which requires sincerity and obedience, which begins with submission to the Spirit of God and the will of the Father.

Has the Lord laid someone on your heart to which you must be reconciled?  We have been given the ministry of reconciliation and the message of reconciliation, so we should demonstrate reconciliation as a testimony of God’s grace. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  We show the same grace and mercy to others that we ourselves have been shown by God.  And, as with the world, some may reject our offer to be reconciled, or worse, treat it as garbage to be cast aside.  How people respond to us is not our responsibility, just as people reject the Gospel and God’s appeal through Jesus, your attempt to be reconciled may be rejected.  But your heart will be clean.  (Romans 12:17-19) “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” As far as it depends upon you, be at peace .. be reconciled … and let people see Jesus in you.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Pressing On To The Higher Calling Of Our Lord

I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. —Philippians 3:12

{CHAMBERS} “Never choose to be a worker for God, but once God has placed His call on you, woe be to you if you “turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (Deuteronomy 5:32). We are not here to work for God because we have chosen to do so, but because God has “laid hold of” us. And once He has done so, we never have this thought, “Well, I’m really not suited for this.” […] Every Christian must testify to the truth of God .. […] Never water down the Word of God, but preach it in its undiluted sternness.  […] There must be unflinching faithfulness to the Word of God, but when you come to personal dealings with others, remember who you are— you are not some special being created in heaven, but a sinner saved by grace.” “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do…I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

{ELGIN}  The name I gave my devotional BLOG is Pressing On.  That sums up my life .. and the life all we Christians live.  I have the image in my mind of my trudging in a snow storm, the wind howling, me leaning forward into the wind taking one step at a time.  My eyes focused on my destination.  That pretty much describes my Christian life.  It would be great if rather tan a storm I would describe it as my strolling through a field of flowers, the sun shining, the birds flying about and me singing “Zipadee doo dah – zipadee aay- my oh my what a wonderful day.  That is not to suggest that I lack joy in my life.  But my joy is not dependent upon the “weather” or the ease of my journey.  My joy comes from my serving my Lord … no matter what and no matter where.  Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  God not only calls us to be Holy, and that not through fleshly effort, but to serve in obedience to His particular call on our lives.  We don’t get to pick and choose.  Whatever it is, we will not be able to do it, that is apart from Him.  So what is it that God has placed on your heart as your part in His kingdom?  Whatever it is, keep pressing on.

Pressing On (Bob Dylan)

Well I'm pressing on .. Yes, I'm pressing on .. Well I'm pressing on .. To the higher calling of my Lord.

Many try to stop me, shake me up in my mind, Say, "Prove to me that He is Lord, show me a sign."

What kind of sign they need when it all come from within, When what's lost has been found, what's to come has already been?

Well I'm pressing on .. Yes, I'm pressing on .. Well I'm pressing on .. To the higher calling of my Lord.

Shake the dust off of your feet, don't look back. Nothing now can hold you down, nothing that you lack.

Temptation's not an easy thing, Adam given the devil reign Because he sinned I got no choice, it run in my vein.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Do You Really Love God? With God, It's All Or Nothing

"…I am with you to deliver you," says the Lord. —Jeremiah 1:8

{CHAMBERS} God promised Jeremiah that He would deliver him personally— “…your life shall be as a prize to you…” (Jeremiah 39:18). That is all God promises His children. Wherever God sends us, He will guard our lives. Our personal property and possessions are to be a matter of indifference to us, and our hold on these things should be very loose. If this is not the case, we will have panic, heartache, and distress. Having the proper outlook is evidence of the deeply rooted belief in the overshadowing of God’s personal deliverance. The Sermon on the Mount indicates that when we are on a mission for Jesus Christ, there is no time to stand up for ourselves. Jesus says, in effect, “Don’t worry about whether or not you are being treated justly.” Looking for justice is actually a sign that we have been diverted from our devotion to Him. Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it. If we look for justice, we will only begin to complain and to indulge ourselves in the discontent of self-pity, as if to say, “Why should I be treated like this?” If we are devoted to Jesus Christ, we have nothing to do with what we encounter, whether it is just or unjust. […] We put our common sense on the throne and then attach God’s name to it. We do lean to our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts (see Proverbs 3:5-6).

{ELGIN} (2 Timothy 3:2-5) “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.”  Are you thinking, “Whoa! That is not me!”?  Ask yourself “What do you love and what do you believe is essential for life?”  Living for Jesus demands that you surrender all devotion to the things of this world.  When we sold our home to go on the mission field, many people marveled at that, even admired us for it speaking of our great sacrifice.  In our minds it was no different than throwing a candy wrapper in the trash. (It was bigger).  We did not count it as loss, but as getting rid of an impediment.  Why .. because our love for God was greater than our love for the world.  So very often we can agree with Jesus in the Bible, but struggle with Jesus in our lives. 

In Luke 18, a young man who had great material wealth sought affirmation that he was good enough to have eternal life.  Jesus, who saw his heart, challenged him to abandon his greatest love, his love of wealth and the worldly security it afforded, and follow Jesus.  That was an act of faith .. total dependence on God and not on himself … he couldn’t or wouldn’t do it.  Not everyone is called to walk the same path that we have .. nor should they even try if God has not called them to it.  But woe to the person who is called but turns away.  They will have missed God’s best for their lives.  Even if it means personal hardship and financial loss … what are you willing to walk away from?  So many Christians say they love Jesus, but a cursory examination of their lives reveals that they love the world and the things of the world more. (1 John 2:15) What or who are you devoted to.  God may not ask you to sell your house, but He may ask you to do something else .. in fact He already has. (Matthew 22:37) “Love God with your heart, mind, soul and strength”  That doesn’t leave any room for the world.  With God it’s all or nothing.  If you want to know how He feels about it, read the first four commandments in Exodus 20.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Danger Of Letting Your Want Be Greater Than Your Need

We…plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. —2 Corinthians 6:1

{CHAMBERS} “The grace you had yesterday will not be sufficient for today. Grace is the overflowing favor of God, and you can always count on it being available to draw upon as needed. “…in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses”— that is where our patience is tested (2 Corinthians 6:4). Are you failing to rely on the grace of God there? Are you saying to yourself, “Oh well, I won’t count this time”? It is not a question of praying and asking God to help you— it is taking the grace of God now. We tend to make prayer the preparation for our service, yet it is never that in the Bible. Prayer is the practice of drawing on the grace of God. Don’t say, “I will endure this until I can get away and pray.” Pray now — draw on the grace of God in your moment of need. Prayer is the most normal and useful thing; it is not simply a reflex action of your devotion to God.”

{ELGIN}  The idea is that God gives us what we need for the moment.  (Matthew 6:25-34) “For this reason I [Jesus] say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?  And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Jesus gave us the example of always looking to the Father.  Have you ever said “I don’t know how we are going to ………” you can fill in the blank.  When life seems impossible.  A friend of mine had a sticker that said “Life may seem impossible, but it is always Him-possible”  God is the source – that is what Father means.  I heard someone scoffing (a man) the other day about the thinking that a man must always  be the provider when women are perfectly capable of working and earning for the family.  It made me think of how we often have a better idea about how life should work.  That is not to say that women should not work.  But very often, women must go to work because the family is trying to maintain a lifestyle and not to nurture a family.  I am not speaking to situations where the woman must work because the husband can’t or won’t.  When our want is greater than God’s provision, we often put our own plan of provision into place to “make it happen”.  In the same way, we worry about tomorrow .. well, in this country, we worry about 40 years from now. Many people save so they will be “free” to serve God when they retire.  I wonder what they would do if god wanted to serve today.   How do we balance that thinking in light of Jesus words?  Our culture would call my thinking irresponsible.  (1 Corinthians 2:14) “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”  Jesus was totally dependent upon the Father .. as we should be.  If you are sincerely depending upon God, you will be constantly looking up to the Father and not in to your own designs. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Walking In The Dark With My Light Turned Off

He is…a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. —Isaiah 53:3

{CHAMBERS} “We are not “acquainted with grief” in the same way our Lord was acquainted with it. We endure it and live through it, but we do not become intimate with it. At the beginning of our lives we do not bring ourselves to the point of dealing with the reality of sin. We look at life through the eyes of reason and say that if a person will control his instincts, and educate himself, he can produce a life that will slowly evolve into the life of God. But as we continue on through life, we find the presence of something which we have not yet taken into account, namely, sin— and it upsets all of our thinking and our plans. Sin has made the foundation of our thinking unpredictable, uncontrollable, and irrational. We have to recognize that sin is a fact of life, not just a shortcoming. Sin is blatant mutiny against God, and either sin or God must die in my life. The New Testament brings us right down to this one issue— if sin rules in me, God’s life in me will be killed; if God rules in me, sin in me will be killed. There is nothing more fundamental than that. The culmination of sin was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and what was true in the history of God on earth will also be true in your history and in mine— that is, sin will kill the life of God in us. We must mentally bring ourselves to terms with this fact of sin. It is the only explanation why Jesus Christ came to earth, and it is the explanation of the grief and sorrow of life.”

{ELGIN}  Sometimes I will glean the essence of the point Oswald Chambers is making in his devotion, and other times, I must quote the whole.  That is the case today.  My life is one of constant struggle.  Much like Paul described in Romans chapter 7 .. “the good I want to do I don’t do”  Throughout the day I am faced with opportunities to yield to the Spirit or to yield to my flesh (which is a soft way of saying “sin”).  Our struggle with sin is something we will acknowledge but we really don’t like to think about it.  When you boil it down, the problem is a matter of our will.  Accepting personal sin is like walking with a light in the dark but not turning it on.  I am teaching on the subject of quenching the Spirit in Sunday School.  We have the Spirit of God in us, yet, we must decide to yield to the Spirit, every day, every moment really.  That requires a spiritual awareness and that will only result through spiritual devotion.  In other words, doing those things that draw us close to the Father and one-ness with Jesus and the Father.  What that requires is that we stop thinking of being a Christian as an attribute of our person – who we are … husband, father, brother, son, friend, co-worker, Christian – and see us in terms of “whose” we are.  If I have been born again, I am a son of God, who happens to be a husband, father, brother, son, friend, and co-worker.  Everything I am and everything I do must be on the context of whose I am.  If I lose sight of that and think of myself as being merely a “son of Adam” then I should not be surprised when sin prevails in my life.  (1 John 5:11-12) “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Since we have “life” we should live like it, don’t you agree?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Understanding Your Priestly Role In Your New Life In Christ

You are…a royal priesthood… —1 Peter 2:9

{CHAMBERS} “By what right have we become “a royal priesthood”? It is by the right of the atonement by the Cross of Christ that this has been accomplished. Are we prepared to purposely disregard ourselves and to launch out into the priestly work of prayer? The continual inner-searching we do in an effort to see if we are what we ought to be generates a self-centered, sickly type of Christianity, not the vigorous and simple life of a child of God. Until we get into this right and proper relationship with God, it is simply a case of our “hanging on by the skin of our teeth,” although we say, “What a wonderful victory I have!” Yet there is nothing at all in that which indicates the miracle of redemption. Launch out in reckless, unrestrained belief that the redemption is complete. Then don’t worry anymore about yourself, but begin to do as Jesus Christ has said, in essence, “Pray for the friend who comes to you at midnight, pray for the saints of God, and pray for all men.” Pray with the realization that you are perfect only in Christ Jesus, not on the basis of this argument: “Oh, Lord, I have done my best; please hear me now.” How long is it going to take God to free us from the unhealthy habit of thinking only about ourselves? We must get to the point of being sick to death of ourselves, until there is no longer any surprise at anything God might tell us about ourselves. We cannot reach and understand the depths of our own meagerness. There is only one place where we are right with God, and that is in Christ Jesus. Once we are there, we have to pour out our lives for all we are worth in this ministry of the inner life.”

{ELGIN}  Have you ever heard the term “personal relationship with Jesus Christ”?  Or “me and Jesus we got a good thing going”.  Much of our “personal relationship” in our Christian lives is wrapped up in sin management and looking for blessings from God.  (1 Peter 2:9)  “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”  God has saved you, not just for your own benefit but in order that you might declare the Good News to a lost world.  Priests make intercession for others.  Your life’s focus should not be on feathering your own spiritual nest, but ministering to the spiritually weak and the lost.  James 1:27 says this, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  You want to practice your faith?  The first step, not the final one, is to have a clean heart.  The next is intercession .. both in prayer and in good works.  Jesus said if you want to follow Him you must offer yourself as a sacrifice (pick up your cross), deny yourself (in favor of others) and follow Him (being one with the Father).  Such is the life we are called to.  Your home should not be a fortified sanctuary from the world, but a lighthouse for those living around you.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

All My Unfulfilled Promises Were Made In A Foxhole

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. Am I humble enough to accept it? I have to surrender all my rights and demands, and cease from every self-effort. 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} There is a term “foxhole religion” that refers to promises made to God in the heat of battle.  Promises of what the person under stress will do if God will only act on their behalf.  Have you ever made a promise to God?  God doesn’t want your promises, He wants your heart.  A heart for God is less concerned with itself and more concerned with the Father and what the Father cares about.  Love God and love others.  The greatest commandments.  Resting in the hands of God.  I have the image of me, lying in a hammock under an enormous oak tree.  Completely relaxed.  (1 Peter 5:7) “Cast all of your cares on Him because He cares for you.” (Philippians 4:6-7)  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, with prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God which surpasses all [human] understanding will keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”  Promises made in the foxhole are not a sign of faith, but a sign of the lack of faith.  You cannot bargain with God.  You can’t make a deal with Him.  What you can do is trust Him, with all your heart.  Submit to the Spirit, obey the Lord and in doing so, bring glory to Him which is your eternal purpose.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Is Jesus Still Your First Love .. Or Has Something Else Taken His Place?

…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.” A person touched by the Spirit of God suddenly says, “Now I see who Jesus is!”— that is the source of devotion. Today we have substituted doctrinal belief for personal belief, and that is why so many people are devoted to causes and so few are devoted to Jesus Christ. […] If I am devoted solely to the cause of humanity, I will soon be exhausted and come to the point where my love will waver and stumble. But 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}  I once attended a denominational meeting, it was all pastors.  The guest speaker, in true form for someone who had been taught about public speaking, shared a “joke” as he began.  He said, “Someone once asked me what I would be if I were not a” (put the name of your denomination here) “and I told them – ashamed.”  There was a polite laugh from the pastors.  Personally, I found it very disturbing. The Bible says “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)  I have always found it amazing, how “freely” we feel we can speak when we are amongst “our own kind”.  If you listen long enough, you will hear the heart of the person speaking.  I never sought to attend a meeting like that again, by the way.  I was not saved by a denomination or by a particular race, or nationality.  I was saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20) You must be careful that the source of your trust and faith does not get supplanted by something that has the appearance of being good and right.

(Revelation 2:1a-5) “These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands (Jesus). ‘I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.’”  Strong words.  The men in that assembly had dedicated their lives to service, yet, there was some “leaven in the loaf”.  A devotion to a denomination had trumped their devotion to the Lord.  In fact, their devotion to their denomination, in their minds, was indistinguishable from devotion to following Jesus.  Telling the “joke” another way. “Someone asked me what I would be if I was not a  ‘denomination’, and I told them “lost”.  Being one with Jesus is to be our primary focus and not being part of a denomination.  Primary.  (So as not to be misunderstood, I am not saying that doctrines of the faith are not important. And I am not saying that it is ok if you are associated with a cult.) But, from my relationship with the Lord, everything else should spring.  Does it in your life? Does it really?  What exactly do you think being a living sacrifice means?  What do you think loving God with all of your heart, mind and strength means.  Be careful that other “noble” things don’t choke out what the Lord has planted.  Friend take time to examine your heart. It is not hard to grow weeds, but it requires diligence to grow flowers and a garden.  And having done that, make it your goal in life to bring glory to God and proclaim the name of Jesus, just as He intended.

Friday, June 16, 2017

What Must You Lay Down To Follow Jesus?

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends….I have called you friends… —John 15:13, 15

{CHAMBERS} “Jesus does not ask me to die for Him, but to lay down my life for Him. Peter said to the Lord, “I will lay down my life for Your sake,” and he meant it (John 13:37). He had a magnificent sense of the heroic. For us to be incapable of making this same statement Peter made would be a bad thing— our sense of duty is only fully realized through our sense of heroism. Has the Lord ever asked you, “Will you lay down your life for My sake?” (John 13:38). It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God. We are not made for the bright-shining moments of life, but we have to walk in the light of them in our everyday ways. […] “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). Yet it is contrary to our human nature to do so.  If I am a friend of Jesus, I must deliberately and carefully lay down my life for Him. […] Salvation is easy for us, because it cost God so much. But the exhibiting of salvation in my life is difficult. God saves a person, fills him with the Holy Spirit, and then says, in effect, “Now you work it out in your life, and be faithful to Me, even though the nature of everything around you is to cause you to be unfaithful.””

{ELGIN} When Jesus spoke to the man who needed to bury his father before following.  When He talked with the rich young man who He challenged to give up all that he treasured to follow Jesus.  Jesus knew full well what He was asking them.  Choose Jesus over everything else.  One of my favorite songs is “Knowing You, Jesus” written by Graham Kendrick.  “All I once held dear, built my life upon. All this world reveres, and wars to own. All I once thought gain I have counted loss. Spent and worthless now, compared to this. Now my heart's desire is to know you more. To be found in you and known as yours. To possess by faith what I could not earn. All-surpassing gift of righteousness” 

We must choose to follow Jesus and we must choose to reject the things of this world when they get in the way of that following.  It is not a natural choice, it is a supernatural one.  It requires surrender … offering yourself as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2) not being conformed to this world – treasuring what it has to offer – but being transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Paul called it our “reasonable service of worship”.  Why is it reasonable? Because Jesus laid His life down for us.  You cannot serve God and the world.  You will hate one and love the other. (Matthew 6:24)  You have believed a lie from Satan if you think otherwise.  (Joshua 24:15) “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. (or the god of this country – money and affluence) But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

What To Do When You Lose Your Passion For Doing What You Are Doing

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. Drudgery is the test of genuine character. […]  Don’t always expect God to give you His thrilling moments, but learn to live in those common times of the drudgery of life by the power of God.[…] 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! […] 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}  Each morning that I write these devotions, I read what Oswald Chambers had to say. Actually his wife, who was a stenographer, copied all of his speeches down and after his death, published them.  Then I talk with the Lord asking for insight and what it is that I should write myself to further encourage you in the faith.  I have done this nearly 1500 times over the years.  And I often wonder, Lord – does this really matter? And so to the point.  All of us can begin to think about what difference obedience makes.  We have no control over another person’s heart.  Matters of your heart are between you and your Maker.  It may not be writing devotions that God has stirred you to do – perhaps caring for your family – working in a place where you prefer not to work – interacting with people that are toxic relationally.  I have wondered, from time to time, if I should stop writing.  But, then, someone will send a note to me telling me how much they appreciate my encouragement for that day.  Look.  Our lives are an offering to God. (Romans 12:1,2) What He does with them is His choice, not ours.  That is if we have truly laid them down unconditionally.  When the question comes to our minds “Does this really matter?”, it is not unlike the question that the serpent asked Adam and Eve, “Did God really say?”  If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and focus on the following and not the doing, we will not lose perspective on the circumstances we find ourselves in.  If you are dissatisfied with the place God has you, it is not uncommon, but it is also not spiritual, it is coming from your flesh.

Let me counter that with this.  In my experience, there have been times when God has removed the passion I had for doing one thing and  given me a passion for something else.  (Psalm 37:4) “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”  I have found that the Lord will put a passion in my heart for those things that He is passionate about. One day I may be busy serving in the place He has me and then, suddenly, that passion has gone and I find myself longing for the place He is sending me to.  I once heard the definition of leadership as “Getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”  That is what God does with us.  Do you see the difference here?  In the first place, the person is dispassionate about what they are doing, because of their flesh.  In the second place the person is dispassionate about what they are doing because God has given them a new passion.  To see the second, you must be in step with God and that is my encouragement for the day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Making The Most Of The Days The Lord Has Given You

Abide in Me… —John 15:4

{CHAMBERS} “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. Our lives are not made up of only one neatly confined area. 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. I can be as much assured of abiding in Jesus in any one of them as I am in any prayer meeting. […] Our Lord’s inner abiding was pure and unblemished. He was at home with God wherever His body was. He 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! But we tend to keep God at a fever pitch in our lives. We have none of the serenity of the life which is “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).”

{ELGIN}  Peggy Lee, for some reading this, the name means nothing, sang a song in 1969 called “Is that all there is”.  A refrain in this song goes “Is that all there is, is that all there is. If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing Let's break out the booze and have a ball. If that's all there is”  The Jesus said something similar in Luke 12. “18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

It is easy to lose spiritual perspective as we live these lives of ours.  We forget that we live in a new context with new priorities and a new perspective on the life that happens around us and to us. Yesterday, at work, we were told that one of the engineers, about 50 years old, died suddenly on Monday.  He had not felt well over the weekend and Monday night, he died.  I can assure you that was not what he planned for Monday night.  It rattled a lot of the guys who are his age because to reminded them of their mortality.  As I told them, life is a vapor. (Hebrews 9:27) "It is given unto every man, once to die and then the judgement"  I can assure you that by the end of this week, the majority will have stopped thinking about their own mortality and will be right back in the “grind”.  That is analogous to how many Christians are when they suddenly become aware of their own spirituality.  After a couple of days they “get over it”.  Sadly to their detriment. How about you.  Are you busy living your life totally unaware of the higher calling that God has placed on you as one of His children?  I want to encourage you to think about that.  Make the most of the days the Lord has given you. Make the most of those days for Him.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Problem With Wrapping Acts Of The Flesh In Excuses

…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. We have the idea that we can dedicate our gifts to God. However, you cannot dedicate what is not yours. There is actually only one thing you can dedicate to God, and that is your right to yourself (see Romans 12:1). […]  A saint realizes that it is God who engineers his circumstances; consequently there are no complaints, only unrestrained surrender to Jesus. Never try to make your experience a principle for others, but allow God to be as creative and original with others as He is with you.”

{ELGIN}  We should never make excuses for our flesh, as if there is some aspect of our old nature that is beyond the reach of God or worse yet, acceptable and pleasing to Him.  Is there something about you that you cling to, make excuses for, or maybe accept as inescapable?  It might be your anger or it might be some other trait that is contrary to your new life in Christ.  The bottom line, it’s sin.  I have made reference to Galatians chapter 5 on a number of occasions, but it bears reference again.  Verses 19-21 describe what I call the “fruit of the flesh”.  That which is normal, and in many ways acceptable, in the natural world. Verses 22-25 describe the fruit of the Spirit.  That which is normal in the super-natural world.  The world, the new life that, as a Christian, you have been born in to. 

Verse 25 says “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  Your flesh will continue to try to rise up in you.  Don’t accept that.  Don’t make excuses for it.  You must stand against that.  2 Corinthians 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation.  Old things (things of the flesh) are passed away, behold all things have become new (things of the Spirit)”.  Oh, and don’t make excuses for other people.  I hear wives do that all the time for their husbands.  If you put lipstick on a pig it’s still a pig.  A rose is still a rose.  Acts of the flesh don’t look any different wrapped in an excuse.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Spiritual Change Requires Spiritual Power And An Accepting Heart

They said to Him, "Rabbi…where are You staying?" He said to them, "Come and see." —John 1:38-39

{CHAMBERS}  “We stay with Him a short time, only to wake up to our own realities of life. Our self-interest rises up and our abiding with Him is past. Yet there is no circumstance of life in which we cannot abide in Jesus.  “You are Simon….You shall be called Cephas” (John 1:42). God writes our new name only on those places in our lives where He has erased our pride, self-sufficiency, and self-interest. […] When we are in our best spiritual mood, you would think we were the highest quality saints. But don’t dare look at us when we are not in that mood. A true disciple is one who has his new name written all over him— self-interest, pride, and self-sufficiency have been completely erased. Pride is the sin of making “self” our god. And some of us today do this, not like the Pharisee, but like the tax collector (see Luke 18:9-14). […]  You defy God to make you a saint, as if to say, “I am too weak and hopeless and outside the reach of the atonement by the Cross of Christ.” Why aren’t you a saint? It is either that you do not want to be a saint, or that you do not believe that God can make you into one. […] Put no conditions on your life— let Jesus be everything to you….”

{ELGIN}  If Oswald Chambers is describing you, there is nothing I can do for you.  Well, like him, I can tell you what the right is, but my words have no power to cause you to change your thinking or your ways.  That is the job of the Holy Spirit, to bring spiritual understanding to your spiritual-you, to bring conviction and enlightenment.  At that point, you must step out in faith.  There are so many people, family, even that agree with the words that I say, but do nothing in response to them.  It is only when my words are coupled with the Spirit of God and He pierces the heart of the hearer, does what I say make an eternal difference in the life of the hearer.  But the hearer must receive the truth, repent, and follow Jesus.  The parable of the seeds is probably the best explanation of this spiritual phenomenon. (Matthew 13:18-23) “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”” 

I cannot see the heart of a person, to know what kind of “soil” I am casting the seed, but that is not my “job”.  My job is to cast the seed.  Where I have trouble is when I think my job is more than that.  That it is somehow my fault that the soil is hard, rocky, or thorny.  It’s not.  Each person is individually accountable to God.  A hard fact to accept, especially when you are talking to a family member who you want desperately to hear and understand.  They must have a heart ready to accept the Truth.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Strength To Obey Comes From God, Not From You

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

{CHAMBERS} “… 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. Examine where you have become sluggish, where you began losing interest spiritually, and you will find that it goes back to a point where you did not do something you knew you should do. You did not do it because there seemed to be no immediate call to do it. But now you have no insight or discernment, and at a time of crisis you are spiritually distracted instead of spiritually self-controlled. It is a dangerous thing to refuse to continue learning and knowing 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. It is easier to sacrifice yourself than to fulfill your spiritual destiny, which is stated in Romans 12:1-2. […] “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” (1 Samuel 15:22).”

{ELGIN}  Wow.  Have you ever marveled at how God can orchestrate your reading and hearing something that is in perfect harmony with some event on your life. Almost as if He is speaking to you about the matter.  Anyone ever said, ”That is just what I needed to hear.”?  Why do we marvel at God’s handiwork?  On the one hand we acknowledge His attributes .. who He is .. and on the other are often surprised when we see the evidence of those attributes. To my point, I just had a conversation with a friend and Brother about the issue of our heavenly value and the effect that the weight of life’s circumstances can have on our willingness to obey God in the midst of those circumstances.

A.W. Tozer, a pastor, preacher and author, said “God does not use a man greatly until he has been hurt deeply.”  Think about that.  We often see the hurts of life as a reason to “not” do something.  Tozer suggests that God uses that hurt as a springboard to launch us into some work that God has purposed for us.  But we often struggle with our willingness to move beyond the pain of the circumstance, by faith, missing the glorious work that God has for us.  Pastor Rick Warren said “God never wastes a hurt.”  I often share 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 with people who are undergoing some difficulty in life, hoping to give them spiritual perspective on an earthly circumstance.  Don’t let your natural life limit your spiritual life and obedience to God’s voice and call.  Listen, I know that it is not an easy thing I am telling you.  That is because it is not natural thing … it is a “faith” thing.  If you are looking within to find the strength to do what you know you should do, you are looking in the wrong place.  Look up.  (Psalm 121:1-2)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What Really Dominates Your Life, The Natural Or The Spiritual?

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

{CHAMBERS} “[…] 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. […] “If you abide in Me…”— that is, if you continue to act, and think, and work from that central point— “you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). […] 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 should be none of these— what ought to exert the greatest power in my life is the atonement of the Lord. 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.”

{ELGIN} When you think about the question of who you are, what is it that comes to mind.  I think you will find that most often it is words like a man, a husband, father, brother, sister, wife, daughter, American, or perhaps butcher, baker or candlestick maker. Now we don’t want it to be that way, especially if we are in a spiritual context.  But the natural life, and the roles we play in it, dominate us and motivate us.  But … the truth of the matter is … that all those descriptors might be true, they are not the dominant or central description of who we are.  Not anymore.  Not since our new birth.  Now, first and foremost, I am a child of the King, a new creation, Redeemed, secured for heaven and eternity, a joint heir with Christ, the list goes on.  The question is … Are you living with an awareness of that reality?  If you are, it makes all the difference in the how you live, how you interreact with others, how you respond to life’s events, both good and bad. It becomes the context in which you fulfill all of the natural roles in your life.   I am certain that you know by now, that does not just happen by itself.  It requires you to be intentional in developing your faith through the disciplines of the faith.  And that is where we often stumble.  We count on Sunday church as being sufficient when, in fact, Sunday church should be a capstone to a week of worship and intimate fellowship with the Lord.

(Ephesians 1:17-21)  “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”  Amen

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Who Are You Listening To, The Spiritual You Or The Natural You?

…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. […] 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. As you do this, you do not bring an opposing will up against God’s will— God’s will is your will. Your natural choices will be in accordance with God’s will, and living this life will be as natural as breathing. Stubbornness is an unintelligent barrier, refusing enlightenment and blocking its flow. […] God not only expects me to do His will, but He is in me to do it.”

{ELGIN} Most days, I edit the Chambers quotes down to its essence and then comment on it.  But, today, there was so much that he said that was right on point, I left most of the devotion in the quote.  As it happens, I had lunch with a Brother yesterday.  Our conversation focused primarily on the issue of will.  Knowing what God wants you to do and you not wanting to do it.  Not the spiritual you but the natural you.  The you that is in constant battle with the spiritual.  The you that Paul describes in Romans 7 that knows what the right thing is, but chooses the wrong instead.  Was there ever a ride at the amusement park that you feared, but one day you got on the ride anyway?  In spite of everything inside you stoking your fear that tragedy was looming ahead?  That is the essence of acting in faith.  Your flesh is saying “no”, but your spirit is leading you to a place where you will not be able to trust in yourself, but must fully lean on Jesus.  Will and pride, they are like two peas in a pod.  It is hard to distinguish apart them sometimes, but their influence nearly always has the same result .. I choose me .. not God.  I choose to stand on the ground and watch others be flung about, wide eyed, mouths open, hands raised .. I see fear and delight at the same time.  How is that possible?  It’s not natural it’s supernatural.  It’s faith in action.  What is it that you have said “no” to that you know is the unction from God?  As my friend said, he was feeling a bit like Jonah.  He knew the reason he said “no” did not have a good reason behind it.  It never does when it comes to faithing God. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Showing Unexpected Grace And Mercy Reveals Jesus To The World

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. I will be full of courage, like a child who strives to reach the standard his father has set for him. 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.[…] 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? […] 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. […] Are we continually filled with enough courage to say, “The Lord is my helper,” or are we yielding to fear?”

{ELGIN}  What is your first impulse when you are confronted with unpleasant situations in this life?  I had one such occurrence the other day.  I was challenged about something that was clearly my right, but was being told that I must yield to another.  The indignation swelled within me.  The feeling that I had to defend what was rightfully mine rushed to the forefront of my thinking.  Immediately I started formulating a logical argument that would defend my position and justice would be served.  But then, the Spirit brought Jesus' words to mind.

(Matthew 5:38-48) ““You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Suddenly the sense that I must protect my rights was overtaken by the Truth that I am a child of the kingdom.. This world is not my home.  I should not exchange the glory of God for a temporary earthly “victory” to prove that I am right and someone else is wrong.  I need to show them Jesus, who laid down his life for people who did not deserve it.  To show grace and mercy when it is not expected.  Am I willing to sacrifice my witness for the sake of being proven within my earthly rights?  In this case .. almost.

Friday, June 2, 2017

God Loves Us, But He Won't Fix All Of Our Problems

Who is the man that fears the Lord? —Psalm 25:12

{CHAMBERS} “A child’s awareness is so absorbed in his mother that although he is not consciously thinking of her, when a problem arises, the abiding relationship is that with the mother. In that same way, we are to “live and move and have our being” in God (Acts 17:28), looking at everything in relation to Him, because our abiding awareness of Him continually pushes itself to the forefront of our lives.  If we are obsessed by God, nothing else can get into our lives— not concerns, nor tribulation, nor worries. And now we understand why our Lord so emphasized the sin of worrying. How can we dare to be so absolutely unbelieving when God totally surrounds us? To be obsessed by God is to have an effective barricade against all the assaults of the enemy.”

{ELGIN}  Reading Chambers this morning, my mind went to the disciples in the boat as the storm raged and Jesus slept.  (Matthew 8:23-27)  I thought of Peter sinking beneath the waves after he had started out so well, but lost sight of who was standing on the water in front of him. (Matthew 14:22-33)  What was common in those two accounts.  The men struggled when life’s circumstances were too great for them to personally bear and Jesus was there with them all the while.  Jesus asked .. “where is your faith?” and “why did you doubt?”  The same can be asked of us.  I must make a distinction between what happens to us and what we cause to happen to us.  Often times we find ourselves in situations that we, ourselves, have brought upon us, because of our flesh and natural living.  Then we cry out to the Lord to save us, rather than endure the pain of what we have done.  In those cases, I believe that God is looking for a repentant heart and we, most likely, will have to endure the consequence of our poor judgment or sinful choices. 

It’s not God’s fault that I weigh 70 pounds more than I should and am beset with physical problems associated with obesity.  It is not God’s fault that I am a compulsive buyer and spend more money than I make so my credit cards are maxed out and each month I must decide what bills will “not” be paid.  It’s not God’s fault that I have made choices to be unevenly yoked with a spouse or with friends that have drawn me away from my faith and now I am facing sinful consequences.  I must bear the weight of those decisions and actions. At the same time, I need to look to Jesus with a repentant heart and seek forgiveness through Him from the Father.  So often all we are looking for is relief from the consequence and not spiritual restoration.   

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Our Search For Perfection Is Found In Jesus Not In Self Effort - God Expects Nothing Less and Nothing More

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. […] Do I really believe that God will do in me what I cannot do? […] When God wants to show you what human nature is like separated from Himself, He shows it to you in yourself. […] My “grave” has been opened by God and “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} How real is your faith? How deep is your trust? Is it real enough .. is it deep enough to endure whatever might happen to you or people around you?  Does your faith depend upon “good” things happening in your life.  Have you decided that the proof of God’s presence and even blessing in your life is the absence of trouble, disappointment, sickness, heartache?  As I write these words, I wonder what proof I demand in my own life?  All I really have to do is look in the mirror.  There I see a life transformed. Transformed in the midst of trouble, disappointment, sickness and heartache.  Through it all God has shown His power and His love and His presence. 

We must be careful, it is so easy to neglect the good and focus on the bad, what is not right, what is missing.  As it happens, I have been leading an effort at work that has a lot of “moving parts”.  Very complicated with many hurdles to overcome.  That effort culminated in a meeting for the person in charge who needed to make a decision to proceed.  He did make the decision.  Everyone on my team made a valiant effort to make that happen.  After the meeting, someone, not in the chain of authority, asked the team to stay for a few minutes.  He then went on a tirade over the fact that there were some typographical errors on a slide.  This person demands perfection.  Even though the mission was accomplished and the decision maker was confident as to the correctness of his decision.  It really had nothing to do with the work done, the effort made, but the desire on the part of one person for perfection before he could be satisfied.  He effectively discouraged everyone on the team.  I had a meeting afterward to correct the new perception that we had somehow failed because a missing “-“ and space.

As a pastor of a country church we used to attend would say “God can hit straight with a crooked stick.”  The only one who is perfect is Jesus.  We are all jars of clay.  We may demand perfection.  We can certainly strive to be the best and do the best possible, but God is looking for willing hearts and devoted following.  Your new life in Christ will not be perfect, not saying we should be content with sin, but God can and will use a repentant hearted person for His purposes.  That was the essential difference between King Saul and King David.  He will use you, even with a few missing “-“’s and spaces.