Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Why Do We Have Such A Hard Time Living By Faith?

If you have faith as a mustard seed…nothing will be impossible for you. —Matthew 17:20

CHAMBERS} “[…] we do not earn anything through faith— faith brings us into the right relationship with God and gives Him His opportunity to work. […] God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of emotional enjoyment of His blessings. […] Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried. And the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character must be proven as trustworthy in our own minds. Faith being worked out into reality must experience times of unbroken isolation. Never confuse the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, because a great deal of what we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. Faith, as the Bible teaches it, is faith in God coming against everything that contradicts Him— a faith that says, “I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.” The highest and the greatest expression of faith in the whole Bible is— “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).”

{ELGIN}  God’s intent is that we have a serving faith, not a self-serving faith.  The greatest commandment, the one that all of the law hangs on is to “love God with all of your mind, souls and strength” and the second is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)  Jesus said “No greater love has one man than this, but to lay down his life for his friend” (John 15:13)  Just like Jesus did for us.  “If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, learn to be a servant.”  (Matthew 20:26)  “So where do I fit in?”, you might ask.  “What about me?”  Good question.  What about YOU indeed!  What do you think it means to pick up your cross daily? (Matthew 16:24-26)  If I am truly living a life of faith, then I must abandon any notion that my needs must be met before I follow Jesus .. before I put the full weight of my future in the hands of God.  Faith in God means that I trust Him and not myself.  Listen, this is a spiritual act, not some great expression of personal will and determination.  God will take you places that defy human strength and courage.  We are so puny and God is so great.  “It’s not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.” (Zechariah 4:6)  Our challenge with faith is remembering that it is from God and is not some strength conjured up from way down in our inner being, and so, we must draw close to God for faith when we are tested in this life.

Living a life of faith does not mean that we do what we want and then trust that faith will get us out of whatever problems our decisions have caused. It means that we live our lives in obedience to the will of God, by the power of God, in step with the leading of the Spirit, placing our full trust and confidence in God.  So that we can say, just like Jesus, “Not my will but thy will be done.” And really mean it. "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my (Jesus) sake will save it." (Luke 9:24)

Monday, October 30, 2017

For Christians - Seeing Should Not Be A Requirement For Believing - How Is That Working For You?

Without faith it is impossible to please Him… —Hebrews 11:6

{CHAMBERS} “Common sense and faith are as different from each other as the natural life is from the spiritual, and as impulsiveness is from inspiration. Nothing that Jesus Christ ever said is common sense, but is revelation sense, and is complete, whereas common sense falls short. Yet faith must be tested and tried before it becomes real in your life. […] Faith is a tremendously active principle that always puts Jesus Christ first. The life of faith says, “Lord, You have said it, it appears to be irrational, but I’m going to step out boldly, trusting in Your Word” (for example, see Matthew 6:33). Turning intellectual faith into our personal possession is always a fight, not just sometimes. […] Until we know Jesus, God is merely a concept, and we can’t have faith in Him. But once we hear Jesus say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) we immediately have something that is real, and our faith is limitless.”

{ELGIN} When I woke up this morning, the thought “Seeing is not a requirements for believing.” Was on my mind.  Then I read Chambers devotion for today.  The Spirit is speaking to me.  That ever happen to you?  Probably, but perhaps you don’t realize that is what is happening when it does.  To know something to be true without evidence is different from “thinking” something might be true.  Faith is spiritual and works on another plane than our natural reasoning.  I know that I know, but don’t know how I know.  I struggle because I try to filter a faith-fact through my natural mind.  Thomas struggled with believing that it was Jesus standing before him, until he filtered it through the natural man – “I must touch his wounds!”  Jesus then said “Blessed are those who believe and have not seen.”  (John 20:29)

Can you .. .will you trust Jesus even when what you are trusting Him in is contrary to reason?  I did not say contrary to the revealed will and Word of God.  Faith facts will always be consistent with who God is and His truth.  But it may not make any sense.  Martie and I find ourselves in that place all the time.  The hazards (if you will) of our calling.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says not to lean on our own understanding.    In other words, faith comes first.  Understanding will follow … most of the time.  When I was in Army Basic training at the ripe age of 18, I had one particular drill sergeant, SSGT San Felice.  He was 6’2”, red hair, from Puerto Rico.  He had a very thick accent.  He told us .. “I don’t care if you don’t understand me, you better do it!”  I think I did a lot of unnecessary pushups!  Well, our life in Christ is that way in some respects.  We hear God, we don’t understand what was said, but we doubt God.  The disciples did that during the storm.  Peter did that while walking on the water.  We do that when God says do something that makes no earthly sense.  It means that we have to give up our worldly confidence and rest in God’s faithfulness.  Friend, that is the life we have been called to.  “We live by faith and not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)  What is it that God is telling you to do?  You must choose.  And to do nothing is making a choice . .and that choice is not for God.  “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. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Works And Faith - You Can't Save Anybody - But You Can Show Everybody

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations… —Matthew 28:19

{CHAMBERS} “Jesus Christ did not say, “Go and save souls” (the salvation of souls is the supernatural work of God), but He said, “Go…make disciples of all the nations….” Yet you cannot make disciples unless you are a disciple yourself. When the disciples returned from their first mission, they were filled with joy because even the demons were subject to them. But Jesus said, in effect, “Don’t rejoice in successful service— the great secret of joy is that you have the right relationship with Me” (see Luke 10:17-20). The missionary’s great essential is remaining true to the call of God […] The challenge to the missionary does not come from the fact that people are difficult to bring to salvation, that backsliders are difficult to reclaim, or that there is a barrier of callous indifference. No, the challenge comes from the perspective of the missionary’s own personal relationship with Jesus Christ— “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28). Our Lord unwaveringly asks us that question, and it confronts us in every individual situation we encounter. The one great challenge to us is— do I know my risen Lord? Do I know the power of His indwelling Spirit? […]“All authority has been given to Me….Go therefore…” (Matthew 28:18-19).”

{ELGIN}  Our new life is all about trusting God in all things for all things.  When Martie and I packed up and moved to Texas, we knew in our knower that God has called us.  And when we know, we go.  So we arrived but did not find what we expected to find … Waveland in Texas.  Instead God had led us to a very different place.  Instead of being in the middle of destruction, we were on the fringe of it.  We really expected to be immersed when we arrived, but we were not.  So we thought perhaps we misread the map and we should be in another place .. maybe we heard God wrong.  Then we began to meet with the people who are struggling with the loss that came with Hurricane Harvey.  The stress.  The hopelessness.  Then we saw Waveland.  Not in the houses around us but in the faces and voices of the people.  It is the people that we have been sent to help .. not their homes.  But one way we will help the people is through their homes.  When people approached Jesus because of their physical need, He always pointed them to their spiritual need .. the “true” source of their trouble.  It is so easy for us to drift over to the work and miss the main thing.  God wants to use all of us … Christians … to tell people about Jesus and salvation through Him.  About hope in despair.  About the faithfulness of God when your insurance company says we won’t give you what you need to restore your home.

But … “God will make a way Where there seems to be no way He works in ways we cannot see He will make a way for me He will be my guide Hold me closely to His side With love and strength For each new day He will make a way”  That is a song written by Don Moen.  That is the message that we have for the people here.  It’s proof is demonstrated through the help that they receive through us.  Whether it’s us rebuilding homes or you coming alongside someone struggling with life, we are called to be salt and light. People seeing Jesus in us.  We know that there is nothing that we can do that will have eternal value that is a result of the work of our hands.  But God can speak through all of us as we serve others.  In Matthew 25 is the story of the sheep and the goats.  The sheep are going to heaven .. the goats are not.  In the case of the sheep Jesus commended them for doing good things to Him and the goats were condemned for not.  Both the sheep and the goats asked the same question.  “Lord, When did we see you?”  He answered to the sheep “When you did it for others, you did it for Me.” And to the goats “When you did not do it for others, you did not do it for Me.”  If Jesus is Lord then you will reach out to people who are in need.  Not just to give them water that will satisfy for the moment, but to give them living water that will satisfy for eternity.

So to make the bottom line the last line.  Be careful that you don’t look at your circumstances and assume that God has not led you there because  what you are facing is beyond you.  That is a perfect opportunity for God to show His power and lift up His Son. You can’t save anybody, but you can tell everybody. Let them see Jesus through you.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

If You HesitateTo Obey God, You've Got Heart Trouble!

Jesus said to them again, "…As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." —John 20:21

{CHAMBERS} “A missionary is someone sent by Jesus Christ just as He was sent by God. The great controlling factor is not the needs of people, but the command of Jesus. […] In missionary work the great danger is that God’s call will be replaced by the needs of the people, to the point that human sympathy for those needs will absolutely overwhelm the meaning of being sent by Jesus. The needs are so enormous, and the conditions so difficult, that every power of the mind falters and fails. We tend to forget that the one great reason underneath all missionary work is not primarily the elevation of the people, their education, nor their needs, but is first and foremost the command of Jesus Christ— “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:19).  […] We give credit to human wisdom when we should give credit to the divine guidance of God being exhibited through childlike people who were “foolish” enough to trust God’s wisdom and His supernatural equipment.”

{ELGIN}  “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)  We should not for an instant think that we can do anything for God without God.  Anything we do for God is by the Spirit of God, by our new nature, not by our old nature and its works.  Even our salvation is a gift from God through Jesus and by the Spirit and not of works so no one can take credit for what God has done.  The only way we can please God is by giving our whole heart to Him.

What God asks of us often times seems foolish to the world.  Personally, God has given us what we needed when we needed it.  He has called us to very difficult places.  He has asked us to defy human reasoning .. even what many Christians would consider “reasonable” life choices.  We have abandoned the “comfortable” life for the physically uncomfortable.  The life of relative financial abundance for a life of hardship and little comfort.  And for what? For His glory and the good of others. Would that be good enough for you? I am not asking you to compare yourself to us.  God may not call you to our life and service.  But are you willing to lay your life down, for God, no matter what that means?

What we have actually given up to serve is unknown to most people and I will not elaborate here, lest I boast in our sacrifice.  My point is, God may ask you to give up everything.  In the fact of the matter, He already has.  “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)  And if you don’t love it, you won’t mind leaving it.  When you consider God’s calling on your life do you think about what saying “yes” would cost you financially?  Friend, I hate to say it, but you have heart trouble!  Where is your faith?  Don’t you think that God could restore what you gave up, if He chose to? Examine your heart.  What I am sharing with you applies even if you stay in your job, stay in your house, live your life without disruption.  Live your life with a whole heart for God and be ready at any moment to give it up, if the Lord says so.  Don’t be like Lot’s wife or the rich young ruler.  Follow Jesus with empty hands and a heart full of love for God.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Facing Life With The Power And With The Presence Of God

I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. —1 Corinthians 9:22

CHAMBERS} “A Christian worker has to learn how to be God’s man or woman of great worth and excellence in the midst of a multitude of meager and worthless things. Never protest by saying, “If only I were somewhere else!” All of God’s people are ordinary people who have been made extraordinary by the purpose He has given them. […] We are not workers for God by choice. Many people deliberately choose to be workers, but they have no purpose of God’s almighty grace or His mighty Word in them. Paul’s whole heart, mind, and soul were consumed with the great purpose of what Jesus Christ came to do, and he never lost sight of that one thing. […] It is not that you have gotten God, but that He has gotten you. God is at work bending, breaking, molding, and doing exactly as He chooses. […] We have to be in God’s hand so that He can place others on the Rock, Jesus Christ, just as He has placed us. […] once God has placed His call upon you, woe be to you if you “turn aside…to the right or the left…” (Deuteronomy 28:14). He will do with you what He never did before His call came to you, and He will do with you what He is not doing with other people. Let Him have His way.”

{ELGIN} “Have Thine own way Lord, have Thine own way.  You are the Potter and I am the clay. Mold me and make me, after Thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.”  Oh how I love the old worship songs.  I often wonder what was going on in the life of the person that penned the lyrics.  Are you ready for God to do what He purposed to do in your life?  Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)  He was speaking to how fragile we are on our own, but what is in the “jar” is able to meet whatever comes out way.  Whether it is our calling or our circumstance, we are able to stand against it because of the power and presence of God.  “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)  Listen, we are all going to face trouble – challenges – trials – add any label you like.  But our feet are planted firmly on the Solid Rock, Jesus Christ.  We have an eternal destiny, what we need to maintain is our eternal perspective.   “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) Meditate on that this morning.  In light of your present circumstances, your past, or what might be looming in your future … you have Jehovah God on your side.  You are in the palm of His hand.  Be encouraged … don’t be downcast .. put your hope in God! Bondye Fidel – God is Faithful!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Who's Your Daddy? Everyone Wants To Know, For Christians The Answer Is Abba - The Creator God

Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ… —2 Corinthians 2:14

{CHAMBERS} “Be careful that you vigorously maintain God’s perspective, and remember that it must be done every day, little by little. Don’t think on a finite level. No outside power can touch the proper perspective.  The proper perspective to maintain is that we are here for only one purpose— to be captives marching in the procession of Christ’s triumphs. We are not on display in God’s showcase— we are here to exhibit only one thing— the “captivity [of our lives] to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). […] Paul said, in essence, “I am in the procession of a conqueror, and it doesn’t matter what the difficulties are, for I am always led in triumph.” […] It was Paul’s joy to be a captive of the Lord, and he had no other interest in heaven or on earth. It is a shameful thing for a Christian to talk about getting the victory. We should belong so completely to the Victor that it is always His victory, and “we are more than conquerors through Him…” (Romans 8:37).”

{ELGIN} “I heard an old, old story, How a Savior came from glory, How He gave His life on Calvary To save a wretch like me; I heard about His groaning, Of His precious blood's atoning, Then I repented of my sins And won the victory. O victory in Jesus, My Savior, forever. He sought me and bought me With His redeeming blood; He loved me ere I knew Him And all my love is due Him, He plunged me to victory, Beneath the cleansing flood.”  We have victory over sin and death only because of Jesus.  Because of Jesus, we are born again into a new existence by the Spirit.  And because of that, we should live every day with that new perspective.  We should see the world like God sees the world.  Paul wrote to the Ephesians “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 [God the Father] 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. And God placed all things under his [Jesus] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:18-22)

But that is a problem for most of us.  Keeping the proper perspective that is.  We live our lives more like victims than victors.  Why? Because we lack perspective.  “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16).  We have not made our faith a priority but have relegated it to something we call on in times of trouble.  We view the world and engage the world with natural eyes and our old nature, rather than like Jesus.  Jesus walked with sinners, but was not influenced by them.  For many their natural heritage is far more important than their spiritual heritage.  I am sure you have seen the commercial for sending in your DNA so you can find out where you came from.  Ancestry dot com.  That business was born out of the Mormon church, by the way.     People find comfort in knowing those things, but from an eternal perspective, who your great-great-great grandfather was is not important.  He will not keep you out of hell.   Ok, here is an ancestral revelation that might save you some money and time.  You came from Adam.  But there is One who is called the second Adam and “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. All things are passed away, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) You have a new DNA.  You must see the world through your new spiritual eyes.  The only way you can do that is by drawing closer to the Lord than you are right now.  For generations the world has struggled to find meaning by looking within and will continue to struggle in tis quest until it looks up and finds Jesus or judgment.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Don't Ask For Help From A Drowning Man

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. —2 Corinthians 5:17

{CHAMBERS} “Our Lord never tolerates our prejudices— He is directly opposed to them and puts them to death. […]  we must learn that God accepts nothing of the old life! […] God pays no respect to anything we bring to Him. There is only one thing God wants of us, and that is our unconditional surrender.[…] Our old gloomy outlook disappears, as does our old attitude toward things, and “all things are of God” (2 Corinthians 5:18). How are we going to get a life that has no lust, no self-interest, and is not sensitive to the ridicule of others? How will we have the type of love that “is kind…is not provoked, [and] thinks no evil”? (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). The only way is by allowing nothing of the old life to remain, and by having only simple, perfect trust in God— such a trust that we no longer want God’s blessings, but only want God Himself. Have we come to the point where God can withdraw His blessings from us without our trust in Him being affected?”

{ELGIN} In today’s culture when someone says “Prejudice”, the narrow definition is racial prejudice or bias.  Actually the root of the word has to do with having an opinion about something.  That could be a dislike, even hatred, of people of other races.  That is one of the prejudices that is part of our old nature. Let’s use that as an example.  Men have argued for years that one race is superior to another.  Typically it is the majority race that holds that view.  It is part of the old nature.  So what does the Bible say? Well, man was created in God’s image. (Genesis 1:26) Genesis does not say only white or red or black or yellow or brown.  So God must not have been referring to skin color or national origin.  Paul wrote “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female” (Galatians 3:8) in the Body of Christ.  Jesus prayed “That they may be as one, as we are one" (John 17:11).  John wrote “If you say you love God and hate your Brother, you are a liar and the Truth is not in you.” (1 John 4:20)

We try to justify our prejudices – the opinions born out of our old nature – by turning to those who think like us to seek affirmation … and we will always find approval from those who have the same prejudices we do or at least are tolerant of our prejudices lest we fail to accept theirs.  If you want someone to say your sin is OK ask another sinner.  When drowning, why would you seek help from someone who is drowning beside you?  The Word is the place you go to know what is Truth.  The Spirit is the one that affirms and confirms what is right and what is wrong … the Spirit convicts us of our sins. (John16:8)  I know a good number of Christians that hold on to opinions – prejudices that were born out of their old nature.  I am one, come to think of it.  So what to do.  It’s actually a simple solution that is impossible to accomplish by wishing it so …. it requires faith not will power.  We must surrender our prejudices – our old nature – to God.  Offering ourselves, daily, as a sacrifice.  Confessing our sins, daily. (1 John 1:9) As you develop your spiritual acuity, (one day you will have 20-20 spiritual vision) you will see those opinions or prejudices for what they are and abandon them by faith and through the power of the blood of Jesus.  “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.  What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Friday, October 20, 2017

Wanting To Do Good Will Not Stop You From Sinning

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

{CHAMBERS} “Sanctification is not a question of whether God is willing to sanctify me— is it my will? Am I willing to let God do in me everything that has been made possible through the atonement of the Cross of Christ? Am I willing to let Jesus become sanctification to me, and to let His life be exhibited in my human flesh? (see 1 Corinthians 1:30). Beware of saying, “Oh, I am longing to be sanctified.” No, you are not. Recognize your need, but stop longing and make it a matter of action. […] He [Jesus] completed everything for my salvation and sanctification. No wonder Paul said that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). [….] Never confuse the effect with the cause. The effect in me is obedience, service, and prayer, and is the outcome of inexpressible thanks and adoration for the miraculous sanctification that has been brought about in me because of the atonement through the Cross of Christ.

{ELGIN}  Wanting verses doing.  Preference to do what we want pushing God to the back of our minds.  It’s like the times that you did, or still do, things that you knew were contrary to what your parents had said to do or not to do.  All the while you were doing your own thing you were aware that you were being disobedient.  It’s the same  with your heavenly Father.  Paul talked about this in Romans (7:18-25).  He wrote “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing…..   Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

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

Thursday, October 19, 2017

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

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

{CHAMBERS} […] Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation….For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). It is a hidden, obscure thing. An active Christian worker too often lives to be seen by others, while it is the innermost, personal area that reveals the power of a person’s life. […] In our Lord’s life there was none of the pressure and the rushing of tremendous activity that we regard so highly today, and a disciple is to be like His Master. The central point of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others. […] You have no idea of where or how God is going to engineer your future circumstances, and no knowledge of what stress and strain is going to be placed on you either at home or abroad. And if you waste your time in overactivity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God’s redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come. But if […] time […] is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in Him, which may appear to be impractical, then you will remain true to Him whatever happens.

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

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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

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

{CHAMBERS} “Our Lord told us how our love for Him is to exhibit itself when He asked, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:17). And then He said, “Feed My sheep.” In effect, He said, “Identify yourself with My interests in other people,” not, “Identify Me with your interests in other people.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 shows us the characteristics of this love— it is actually the love of God expressing itself. […] Faithfulness to Jesus Christ is the supernatural work of redemption that has been performed in me by the Holy Spirit— “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” (Romans 5:5). And it is that love in me that effectively works through me and comes in contact with everyone I meet. […] The key to the missionary’s devotion is that he is attached to nothing and to no one except our Lord Himself. It does not mean simply being detached from the external things surrounding us. Our Lord was amazingly in touch with the ordinary things of life, but He had an inner detachment except toward God. […] The duty of a faithful missionary is to concentrate on keeping his soul completely and continually open to the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. The men and women our Lord sends out on His endeavors are ordinary human people, but people who are controlled by their devotion to Him, which has been brought about through the work of the Holy Spirit.”

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

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Prayer, The Key To A Closer Walk With God

…I say to you, he who believes in Me,…greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. —John 14:12

{CHAMBERS} “Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work. Yet we think of prayer as some commonsense exercise of our higher powers that simply prepares us for God’s work. In the teachings of Jesus Christ, prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me, which produces the miracle of redemption in others, through the power of God. […] Prayer is the battle, and it makes no difference where you are. However God may engineer your circumstances, your duty is to pray. Never allow yourself this thought, “I am of no use where I am,” because you certainly cannot be used where you have not yet been placed. Wherever God has placed you and whatever your circumstances, you should pray, continually offering up prayers to Him. […] We must learn to work according to God’s direction, and He says to pray. “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38).[…] When you labor at prayer, from God’s perspective there are always results.”

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

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

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

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

{CHAMBERS} “Moses saw the oppression of his people and felt certain that he was the one to deliver them, and in the righteous indignation of his own spirit he started to right their wrongs. […] God allowed Moses to be driven into empty discouragement, sending him into the desert to feed sheep for forty years. At the end of that time, God appeared to Moses and said to him, “ ‘…bring My people…out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go…?’ ” (Exodus 3:10-11). In the beginning Moses had realized that he was the one to deliver the people, but he had to be trained and disciplined by God first. He was right in his individual perspective, but he was not the person for the work until he had learned true fellowship and oneness with God. We may have the vision of God and a very clear understanding of what God wants, and yet when we start to do it, there comes to us something equivalent to Moses’ forty years in the wilderness. […] We are focused on the right individual perspective of things; we have the vision and can say, “I know this is what God wants me to do.” But we have not yet learned to get into God’s stride. If you are going through a time of discouragement, there is a time of great personal growth ahead.”

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

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

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

Enoch walked with God… —Genesis 5:24

{CHAMBERS} “The true test of a person’s spiritual life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the ordinary times when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening. A person’s worth is revealed in his attitude toward the ordinary things of life when he is not under the spotlight (see John 1:35-37 and John 3:30). It is painful work to get in step with God and to keep pace with Him […] In learning to walk with God, there is always the difficulty of getting into His stride, but once we have done so, the only characteristic that exhibits itself is the very life of God Himself. […] It is difficult to get into stride with God, because as soon as we start walking with Him we find that His pace has surpassed us before we have even taken three steps. He has different ways of doing things, and we have to be trained and disciplined in His ways. […] Getting into God’s stride means nothing less than oneness with Him. It takes a long time to get there, but keep at it. Don’t give up because the pain is intense right now— get on with it, and before long you will find that you have a new vision and a new purpose.”

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

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

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

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

{CHAMBERS} “Has God trusted you with His silence— a silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer? […] Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? […] If God has given you a silence, then praise Him— He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes. […] For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (see Matthew 7:9). He did not give you a stone, and today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35). If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy— silence.”

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Are You Living With A Half-Baked Heart?

My Utmost For His Highest

Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father…that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes." —Matthew 11:25

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

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

Monday, October 9, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 6, 2017

Why You Have A Problem With Consistency As A Christian

My Utmost For His Highest

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

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

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