Thursday, November 30, 2017

Reasons Why You May Not Be Content With Your Place In The Body Of Christ - None Are Good

By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain… —1 Corinthians 15:10

{CHAMBERS} “The way we continually talk about our own inabilities is an insult to our Creator. To complain over our incompetence is to accuse God falsely of having overlooked us. Get into the habit of examining from God’s perspective those things that sound so humble to men. You will be amazed at how unbelievably inappropriate and disrespectful they are to Him. We say things such as, “Oh, I shouldn’t claim to be sanctified; I’m not a saint.” But to say that before God means, “No, Lord, it is impossible for You to save and sanctify me; there are opportunities I have not had and so many imperfections in my brain and body; no, Lord, it isn’t possible.” […] …. always be humble before God, and allow Him to be your all in all. There is only one relationship that really matters, and that is your personal relationship to your personal Redeemer and Lord.”

{ELGIN) You must be careful to not compare yourself to other Christians and imagine that you can never be like them.  It’s true, you may never do what they do, but if you are born again .. you are exactly like them.  You are exactly like Paul … exactly like Billy Graham … but you may be a different part of the body.  (1 Corinthians 12:14-25)  “… the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. […] The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it.”

God has purposed us (Ephesians 2:10).  You might decide to be a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker in the natural, but you do not decide what part of the Body you will be in the supernatural.  God does that.  Exactly like Paul and Billy Graham.  Now that is not to say that you might be envious of someone who is the mouth.  But that is your flesh at work.  Perhaps your insecurities at work or maybe your pride.  I have known men who demanded that they have a certain leadership position in a local church.  Not because they were called to it, but because they lusted after it.  They want to be significant in the eyes of men or perhaps to overcome some feeling of inferiority.  Or maybe you feel like God can’t use you because you have nothing to offer.  You do! You do!  You offer … you.  Then trust that God will use you as He sees fit. It may be to fulfill a place that people won’t see or ever know about.  Is that OK with you?  If not, examine your heart.  If your desire is to glorify God .. the first step is to submit your life to Him and to His will.  A song you may be familiar with … “Yes Lord yes to Your will and to Your way.  Yes Lord yes.  I will trust you and obey.  When the Spirit speaks to me, with my whole heart I’ll agree and I will answer .. YES Lord YES!”

God will provide the opportunity for you to fulfill your purpose. You don’t have to make those opportunities.  Just do what God puts in front of you.  If it seems bigger than you are .. for whatever reason .. it is most probably God.  There was a man, Brother Lawrence, who was known for his spirituality.  He was a monk.  One thing he did not want to do was work in the kitchen.  He decided that.  Any guesses where God put him?  For 15 years.  During that time, he made a huge impact in many people’s lives.  He served faithfully where God put him and glorified God and blessed others in the process.  Are you ready to work in the kitchen? To set side notoriety and the praise of men.  (Mark 9:35) [Jesus said] “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”  Hope that puts things in perspective for you.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Consequence Of Not Keeping My Flesh In Check - An Unfulfilled Life

He will glorify Me… —John 16:14

{CHAMBERS} “The holiness movements of today have none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about them. There is nothing about them that needs the death of Jesus Christ. All that is required is a pious atmosphere, prayer, and devotion. This type of experience is not supernatural nor miraculous. It did not cost the sufferings of God, nor is it stained with “the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12:11). It is not marked or sealed by the Holy Spirit as being genuine, and it has no visual sign that causes people to exclaim with awe and wonder, “That is the work of God Almighty!” […] The New Testament example of the Christian experience is that of a personal, passionate devotion to the Person of Jesus Christ. […] Today He [Jesus] is being portrayed as the figurehead of a religion— a mere example. He is that, but He is infinitely more. He is salvation itself; He is the gospel of God! Jesus said, “…when He, the Spirit of truth, has come,…He will glorify Me…” (John 16:13-14). […] The Spirit of God does in me internally all that Jesus Christ did for me externally.”

{ELGIN} A person that is born again and committed to following Jesus has a devotion to Jesus and therefore to the Father, that is evidenced in how they live and how they treat others.  But there is one aspect that is invisible to the people around them and only visible to God.  That is the condition of their heart.  A heart wholly devoted to the Father.  It is possible to attend church, put on your happy face, listen to sermons, and sing worship songs and not be devoted to following Jesus.  (Matthew 15:8-9) “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”  (2 Timothy 3:5-7) “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.”

Many people are convinced that “doing” is the same as “being”.  They practice the Christian religion, embrace the teachings but lack the devotion to the Cornerstone of the Church.  They may go to the altar every Sunday morning and still be spiritually ignorant and far from God.  They lack understanding and they lack commitment to their faith … that is , if they have saving faith.  The demons know who Jesus is, but they don’t serve Him.  They have another master. For many Christians, their hearts that were once alive toward God have become hardened toward spiritual things in favor of those things that satisfy the flesh.  They go through the motions .. say the right things .. but serve themselves and not the risen Lord.  Sound harsh?  The truth often does because truth brings conviction and conviction brings discomfort and causes us to make a decision.  Will I respond to the Truth or will I ignore it and choose to continue on the vain journey I am pursuing.

What am I saying?  Friends, we need to be on our guard or before we know it .. those people .. will become “we the people”.  I must examine myself and my devotion every day.  I have to keep my flesh in check.  The only way that we can glorify the Father is by being spiritually “right” and devoted to His will in every aspect of our lives.  You must be careful that you do not relegate your spirituality to Sunday morning.  We are Christians 24x7 into eternity.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Loving God More Must Be More Than A "Want" ... It's A Command

…being justified freely by His grace… —Romans 3:24

{CHAMBERS} “We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God through our own efforts. We must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest spiritual blessing we receive is when we come to the knowledge that we are destitute. Until we get there, our Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us as long as we think we are sufficient in and of ourselves. We must enter into His kingdom through the door of destitution. As long as we are “rich,” particularly in the area of pride or independence, God can do nothing for us. It is only when we get hungry spiritually that we receive the Holy Spirit. The gift of the essential nature of God is placed and made effective in us by the Holy Spirit. He imparts to us the quickening life of Jesus, making us truly alive. He takes that which was “beyond” us and places it “within” us. And immediately, once “the beyond” has come “within,” it rises up to “the above,” and we are lifted into the kingdom where Jesus lives and reigns (see John 3:5).”

{ELGIN}  This morning Martie, my wife, asked me what I was thinking about that I would write in this BLOG.  I told her that I really didn’t do it that way.  I read Chamber’s devotion and then ask the Lord, what am I supposed to say today.  And “out it comes”.  Very often, there will be some event – interaction from the previous day that the Lord uses as a launching point from Chambers.  So in that regard what I write is not premeditated as such, but more spontaneous … although that is not to say that there are not years of life that undergird what I write.  I’ve done this 1567 times so far, plus this one …. Frankly I am amazed by the process and perhaps more amazed that God is using me in this way.

So to the point. As Christians we live our lives on this earth with a tension between the spiritual and the natural.  The preaching of the earthly health and wealth gospel … God wants you to be rich and healthy … is the carnal Christian's attempt to resolve that tension.  The idea is that God will give you money .. which He tells you not to love … and health .. which He tells you that you will face affliction and hardship of many kinds … and so … you can really be independent of God .. all of your earthly needs will be met … do you see the heresy in this?  God wants us to give up our dependence upon earthly comforts and assurances and trust Him, alone.  When Job lost everything, the assumption was that he had done something wrong .. why?  Because he lost his earthly possessions. What was the truth .. there was something spiritual at work that superseded the natural.  The same is true in our lives.  The thing is, you must be willing to submit to that … to yield your devotion and dependence upon the natural and trust God's provision.  What do you hunger for?  I see people struggling after disasters and war and poverty, while Americans are trying to figure out if they should go ahead and buy that $1000 iPhone and get rid of their $700 iPhone.  The Church in the United States is the “frog in the pot” with respect to materialism.  We don’t know that we are being cooked … instead, we think the water temperature is just right.

I have been watching the Black Friday phenomenon  .. which it seems has crept into Thursday.  I am trying to find money to help people recover from Hurricane Harvey and people are spending money – hand over fist – to satisfy their lust for more – because they certainly don’t need it – not really.  Pastor Brian, pastor of the church we are connected to in Texas, preached on needs and wants last Sunday.  With respect to the rest of the world, I think it is safe to say that 99% of what we buy is to satisfy our wants.  Our needs were met a long time ago.   (Psalm 37:4) "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart"  The emphasis here is on our focus on God and His changing what we desire to conform to what He desires.

(James 4:2-4) “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Ugh! That does not leave a lot of wiggle room does it. I guess I should quote Jesus to bring this to a close.  (Matthew 13:14-16) “And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear" .....  And I would add .. He who is convicted – let him repent.”  Pray about it!

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Insanity Of Choosing Something Bad And Expecting Something Good To Result

... by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. —Galatians 6:14

{CHAMBERS} “If I dwell on the Cross of Christ, I do not simply become inwardly devout and solely interested in my own holiness— I become strongly focused on Jesus Christ’s interests. Our Lord … did not physically cut Himself off from society, but He was inwardly disconnected all the time. He was not aloof, but He lived in another world. In fact, He was so much in the common everyday world that the religious people of His day accused Him of being a glutton and a drunkard. Yet our Lord never allowed anything to interfere with His consecration of spiritual power.[…] The Spirit of God has set a great many people free from their sin, yet they are experiencing no fullness in their lives— no true sense of freedom. The kind of religious life we see around the world today is entirely different from the vigorous holiness of the life of Jesus Christ. “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). We are to be in the world but not of it— to be separated internally, not externally (see John 17:16).

[…] Consecration (being dedicated to God’s service) is our part; sanctification (being set apart from sin and being made holy) is God’s part. We must make a deliberate determination to be interested only in what God is interested.”

{ELGIN}  I have known a good number of Christians who have made tremendous errors in spiritual judgement.  Those errors have derailed their lives and brought grief and heartache … sometimes that lasts a lifetime.  And yet, they persist in making the same choices based upon their emotions … their desire to “fix the problem themselves or satisfy the need that seems to dominate their lives.  Although they may sing “Jesus loves me this I know” … time and again they choose their own path and solutions over the path that God has laid out for them (Proverbs 16:9) They quench the Spirit and listen to their flesh.  They ignore the Biblical counsel of their friends and family … and repeat the same mistakes that they have made in the past with, predictably, the same result.  When I see this happening, my heart breaks because I know the joy they have rejected for the trouble that they will inevitably embrace as they meet the consequences of their choices.  Does that sound dismal? That’s because it is.  God has called us out of that life.  But our faith must be more than a philosophy … a “get out of hell free” card.  The great gift we have came with a price .. Jesus on the cross .. yet even that is a distant thought.  That truth is not enough to motivate us to choose God .. to follow the Spirit .. to sacrifice the flesh.

So why does that happen? For one reason, most of us do not separate ourselves from our old life.  It’s one thing to be in the world as a Christian.  It’s quite another to participate with the world.  To embrace what we know to be sin in an effort to secure the world’s substitute for God’s will and way.  The interesting thing is that although I might speak to the wayward Christian to encourage them to draw close to Jesus, only the Spirit of God can bring conviction to their hearts and only they can yield to that conviction and turn to God in repentance.  So what to do.  Well.  Be an example.  Love them .. not their sin … like Jesus.  Pray for them.  And bear the hurt in your heart as you watch them struggle with the impossibility of the life they have chosen.  Jesus spoke to the problem … the Apostles wrote about the problem to the churches .. it is not a new problem in our generation.  It is the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit natures.  The nature that you feed is the one that will dominate.

After I got out of the Army, I stopped exercising.  While I was in the Army, exercise was part of my daily life. So, not surprisingly, taking in more calories than my body needed .. I started packing on the pounds. Before I knew it … I weighed 298 pounds .. unbelievable but true.  But then I came under conviction.  First from my doctor who was watching my weight gain and said “You are going in the wrong direction.”  Then there was the associated medical issues derived from being overweight.  I saw a friend, one day, who had lost weight ..  a lot of weight and I asked him how he did it. He told me and encouraged me to do the same. Nine months later, I weigh 199 pounds.  I repented. Stopped making the wrong choices and disciplined myself.  I needed encouragement .. but I also had to choose to go another way.  Well, that is the way it is with our Spiritual, emotional and relational lives as well.  The Spirit will bring a dissatisfaction and we must be willing to repent.  Today .. choose Jesus.  He is the Way and the Life and the Truth. (John 14:6) Stop doing what you know is wrong for you.  The only way you can do that is by the Spirit. “It’s not by might or by power but by the Spirit”(Zechariah 4:6) You might say “It’s not by MY might or by MY power but by HIS Spirit”.  You can do it!  With His help.  Do it today.

Friday, November 24, 2017

What To Do When Things Don't Happen The Way You Planned

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters…, so our eyes look to the Lord our God… —Psalm 123:2

{CHAMBERS} “This verse is a description of total reliance on God. Just as the eyes of a servant are riveted on his master, our eyes should be directed to and focused on God. This is how knowledge of His countenance is gained and how God reveals Himself to us (see Isaiah 53:1). Our spiritual strength begins to be drained when we stop lifting our eyes to Him. Our stamina is sapped, not so much through external troubles surrounding us but through problems in our thinking. […] For example, you came to a crisis in your life, took a stand for God, and even had the witness of the Spirit as a confirmation that what you did was right. But now, maybe weeks or years have gone by, and you are slowly coming to the conclusion— “Well, maybe what I did showed too much pride or was superficial. Was I taking a stand a bit too high for me?” Your “rational” friends come and say, “Don’t be silly. We knew when you first talked about this spiritual awakening that it was a passing impulse, that you couldn’t hold up under the strain. And anyway, God doesn’t expect you to endure.” You respond by saying, “Well, I suppose I was expecting too much.” That sounds humble to say, but it means that your reliance on God is gone, and you are now relying on worldly opinion. The danger comes when, no longer relying on God, you neglect to focus your eyes on Him. […] Whenever there is a spiritual drain in your life, correct it immediately. Realize that something has been coming between you and God, and change or remove it at once.”

{ELGIN}  The seed for doubtful thinking was planted in the Garden when Satan asked Eve, “Did God really say …. ?”  Living by faith means that you are responsible to obey God and God is responsible for the events and the fruit thereof after that as you live by faith in the midst of them.  When we came to Texas, we thought that it would be an instant replay of Mississippi – NOT!  So then you ask yourself .. are we in the right place? Did God really say …. ? Dr. Henry Blackaby, in Experiencing God, wrote that knowing it’s God’s voice is not the problem .. obeying His voice is the problem. (paraphrased).  Like Peter once you are on the water .. it is easy to look around you and take your eyes off of the One who called you out of the boat!  What is your circumstance that is testing your faith?  The first step is to test your spiritual condition.  If you don’t have a clean heart … right before God .. how can you expect to be in step with God?  Second .. you must be connected to God through His Word, prayer and submission to the Spirit.  It is an easy pitfall to find yourself in when you come to expect God to do what you imagine will be done and not seek His will and His alone.  If you get a sense of satisfaction from what you are doing more than from knowing you are living in the will of God, you are on the wrong path.  Paul said that his “job” was to plant, Apollos watered .. but God brought the increase.  If God’s in it, He always brings the increase … whatever that looks like.  It’s all too easy to use man’s measures of effectiveness in making a determination as to whether the work is worthy of your effort.

Are you willing to serve with no evidence of fruit for your entire lifetime?  We do not get to dictate what the increase will look like or when it will occur.  Our obligation is go where He says go and to do what He says to do.  To live faithfully.  To focus on His will not our own. To trust Him and not ourselves.  (Proverbs 16:9) "Men make plans in their hearts, but God orders their steps" Do we know Texas is where God wants us? Yes.  Do we know what is going to happen tomorrow? No.  Men Bondye Konnen!  But God knows! That should be good enough for those who have laid their lives down at the foot of the Cross.  The question is ... Is it?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Seeking Vindication And Justification For Loving Things That Do Not Honor God

Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us! For we are exceedingly filled with contempt. —Psalm 123:3

{CHAMBERS} “What we must beware of is not damage to our belief in God but damage to our Christian disposition or state of mind. “Take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously” (Malachi 2:16). Our state of mind is powerful in its effects. It can be the enemy that penetrates right into our soul and distracts our mind from God. There are certain attitudes we should never dare to indulge. If we do, we will find they have distracted us from faith in God. Until we get back into a quiet mood before Him, our faith is of no value, and our confidence in the flesh and in human ingenuity is what rules our lives. Beware of “the cares of this world…” (Mark 4:19). They are the very things that produce the wrong attitudes in our soul. It is incredible what enormous power there is in simple things to distract our attention away from God. Refuse to be swamped by “the cares of this world.” Another thing that distracts us is our passion for vindication. St. Augustine prayed, “O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.””

{ELGIN}  There are things in this world that are spiritually neutral.. In other words, they  don’t have a positive or negative effect on you. The problem is that our discernment can become dulled to those things that are acceptable in our culture but contrary to the Word.  (Proverbs 4:23) “Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”  There are certain things  in everyone’s life that we cling to, even though, in our heart, we know they are not right.  There are things that we teach our children are wrong, yet we will sit in our living rooms and watch those wrong things being played out on the television screen or in a movie theater.  What you allow in your home through music and visual media is a statement by you to your children that those things are acceptable.  Do this.  The next time you watch your favorite television show, count those things (words or relationships) that are contrary to the Word of God.  Each one is a lesson.  There is an old adage “Do as I say, not as I do.”  Well, I would suggest that that opposite of that is in effect in most homes .. “Don’t do as I say, do as I do.”  I can remember when I was a little boy, my dad told me not to smoke because it was bad for me.  All the while he was smoking a cigarette.  What is the “real” message there?  If you want to be like me, then you should smoke.

As we observe sin, vicariously, we convince ourselves that it is entertainment and not “really all that bad”.  What we don’t realize is that our flesh is at the root of it.  Sin is attractive to our flesh because our flesh is sinful.  Look, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig!  Whether it is language, life style, or sinful behavior … it promotes those things that are supposed to have been crucified in your life. Bottom line, if you crave those things, you have a sin problem.  Hope you don’t stop reading my devotions because of that!  Our country has a problem with violence and the most popular television shows are about people killing people.  Parents fear their daughters getting pregnant before marriage, yet most movies and television dramas portray and promote extra-marital sex.  The same media that is slamming men for sexual aggression toward women is promoting Victoria Secret in China, the world’s sexiest man, and promoting women as sex objects at every turn.  Think about it Church!  It’s the frog in the pot.  Christians are being boiled alive … and they think the water is just right!  Don’t try to vindicate yourself .. justify you actions .. confess and repent .. honor God in all you do.

Pray about this … and listen for the Spirit to guide you. I’ll close with a couple of verses that you might consider. (Philippians 4:8) “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Joshua 1:8-9)  “This Book of the Law [the Word of God] 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 good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  Stop turning your spiritual nature off when you turn your TV on or sit down in a movie theater.  Ok last verse …

(Proverbs 3:5-6) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t trust in your own understanding.  In all your ways (including television and movies) acknowledge Him and He will direct your path”

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Living In Fear Of Others Finding Out You Are Not Perfect - Too Late For That!

Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. —1 Corinthians 10:31

{CHAMBERS} “Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God; they are ordained by Him equally as much as the profound. We sometimes refuse to be shallow, not out of our deep devotion to God but because we wish to impress other people with the fact that we are not shallow. This is a sure sign of spiritual pride. We must be careful, for this is how contempt for others is produced in our lives. And it causes us to be a walking rebuke to other people because they are more shallow than we are. Beware of posing as a profound person— God became a baby. To be shallow is not a sign of being sinful, nor is shallowness an indication that there is no depth to your life at all— the ocean has a shore. Even the shallow things of life, such as eating and drinking, walking and talking, are ordained by God. These are all things our Lord did. He did them as the Son of God, and He said, “A disciple is not above his teacher…” (Matthew 10:24).[…] Never show the depth of your life to anyone but God. We are so nauseatingly serious, so desperately interested in our own character and reputation […] You may find that the first person you must be the most critical with, as being the greatest fraud you have ever known, is yourself..”

{ELGIN} Henry David Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”  In general, most people are very aware of what is wrong with them and don’t have any idea of what to do about it.  Moreover, they don’t want others to know that they are flawed. Too late! If you have spiritual understanding, you will know that “all have sinned” …. “There is none righteous” … “all we, like sheep, have gone astray” … “we are jars of clay” … we have no hope, but for Jesus! Our tendency is to try to hide our imperfections .. or at minimum make excuses for them … and condemn the imperfections in others.  Jesus spoke of the speck and the log.  (Matthew 7:3-5) “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”  The Apostle John wrote (1 John 2:16-18) “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—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.” It’s your pride or the lack of it that drives you to judgement.

That is not to say that you ignore sin. Or that there should not be consequence for sins.  But be careful about judging others.  God does that.  You who have spiritual understanding should see the struggle of the soul for what it is .. the need for Jesus .. new life in Him.  You were once lost but now your found .. was blind but now you see.  How did Jesus respond to sinners?  He told them to repent .. to have faith in Him.  They did not all do that then … and they do not all do that now … Just be careful that you don’t sin in your eagerness to find fault in others.  In psychology the term is “projection”.  Where a person projects their shortcomings onto others.  It is easier .. less stressful if you can deal with your problem in someone else’s life. (Speck and Log)  In this case, the speck you see is merely a reflection of the log in your own eye.  The bottom line is that our focus is on ourselves and not on Jesus.  So stop looking at others, even stop looking at yourself, and look to Jesus. (Philippians 4:8) “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What Is The Big Deal With Your Post-Salvation Sin? Plenty!

I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. —John 17:4

{CHAMBERS} “The death of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment in history of the very mind and intent of God. […] Never build your case for forgiveness on the idea that God is our Father and He will forgive us because He loves us. That contradicts the revealed truth of God in Jesus Christ. It makes the Cross unnecessary, and the redemption “much ado about nothing.” God forgives sin only because of the death of Christ. God could forgive people in no other way than by the death of His Son, and Jesus is exalted as Savior because of His death. “We see Jesus…for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor…” (Hebrews 2:9). The greatest note of triumph ever sounded in the ears of a startled universe was that sounded on the Cross of Christ— “It is finished!” (John 19:30). That is the final word in the redemption of humankind. […]  Never allow yourself to believe that Jesus Christ stands with us, and against God, out of pity and compassion, or that He became a curse for us out of sympathy for us. Jesus Christ became a curse for us by divine decree. Our part in realizing the tremendous meaning of His curse is the conviction of sin. Conviction is given to us as a gift of shame and repentance; it is the great mercy of God. Jesus Christ hates the sin in people, and Calvary is the measure of His hatred.”

{ELGIN} The danger for many Christians is the temptation to trivialize sin – after salvation.  There are two camps in the thinking about post-salvation sin.  One is “once saved always saved” (for which I am a proponent).  As a child of God, a new creation, I have been born again, saved once – for eternity.  What I am calling post-salvation sins have the affect of building a relational wall between me and the Father, but He is still my Father.  For Him to hear me to bless me, my heart must be clean – free of unconfessed sin (1 John 1:9) and I must be walking in obedience to His word.  The second camp is that you can lose your salvation if you sin.  Once saved, you might have to be saved again, and again.  The first camp engenders a sense of freedom .. the second a sense of fear.  The danger of the first camp can be that we no longer consider post-salvation sin as a big deal.  I mean, after all, “we are in!”  We made the cut.  No worries about our eternal future.  Well, Paul addressed this issue. (You can always count on Paul!)  Let me help you get your Bible reading in for the day.

(Romans 5:8-21, 6:1-14)  “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

We have a choice .. give in to sin or give in to God.  In either case you are offering yourself in submission to one or the other.  How can we think it is of no consequence when we sin in even what we might think is a trivial thing … knowing that Jesus went to the cross for even that trivial sin.  Don’t quench the Spirit when He brings conviction .. but yield, confess, and follow Jesus.  Don’t be satisfied with anything less in your new life.  Fulfill your purpose by being light and salt … bringing glory to God … just like Jesus.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Understanding The "Thanks" Part Of Thanksgiving - It's Not About Us

In Him we have…the forgiveness of sins… —Ephesians 1:7

{CHAMBERS} “Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace. The cost to God was the Cross of Christ. To forgive sin, while remaining a holy God, this price had to be paid. Never accept a view of the fatherhood of God if it blots out the atonement. The revealed truth of God is that without the atonement He cannot forgive— He would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God through the atonement of the Cross. God’s forgiveness is possible only in the supernatural realm. Compared with the miracle of the forgiveness of sin, the experience of sanctification is small. Sanctification is simply the wonderful expression or evidence of the forgiveness of sins in a human life. But the thing that awakens the deepest fountain of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven his sin. Paul never got away from this. Once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vise, constrained by the love of God.”

{ELGIN}  Have you ever heard or perhaps said these words? “The Man upstairs?”  When those words are said it reveals the absence of a relationship with the One being referred to – Jehovah God or Yahweh– or it reveals a lack of spiritual maturity or the presence of carnality in the one who is speaking.  It is important that we live in a constant awareness of who God is and who we are with respect to Him. (factoid) “The name Yahweh is best known from the famous “I AM” interaction with Moses. … The Jews became very concerned with not blaspheming the name of the Lord. So rather than saying the name Yahweh, they would say Elohim instead, which is the Hebrew word for god. However, this did not solve the problem of what to do when one came across the name Yahweh during the reading of the Scriptures. The Jews decided that when they came to the name “YHWH” they would say the Hebrew word adonay, which means “Lord.” To remind the reader to say “adonay,” and to maintain the presence of the word “YHWH,” they assigned the vowels of “adonay” into the consonants of “YHWH.” However, it was never intended that this form be read aloud. [Knowing The Bible]”

The point is that we must always be aware of who God is and the significance of who He is and what He has done for us.  (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”  Verse 4 is called “The Shema” … which has hyper significance in the faith life of the Jewish people.  As a Christian, you are not naturally a Jew.  Your DNA is set and that part of you will one day return to the dust from which it was formed.  But spiritually you have been grafted in … adopted into the family of God.  You have a new nature .. and should have a new devotion … wholly committed to God.  A living sacrifice … carrying your cross and following Jesus.  Jesus, who always does the will of the Father.  Consider your attitude toward the God who saved you through the sacrifice of His Son. Thanksgiving is upon us.  The point of Thanksgiving is not being thankful for the provision .. but being thankful for the Provider .. Jehovah Jireh .. and how do we show our gratitude?  Jesus said  “If you love Me, obey my commandments.”  (John 14:15)  And the greatest commandment is to love God – YHWH – with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength. (Matthew 22:37)

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Christian Witness - The World Will Know By How You Live And How You Love

By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing…I will bless you… —Genesis 22:16-17

{CHAMBERS} “ Abraham, at this point, has reached where he is in touch with the very nature of God. He now understands the reality of God.  My goal is God Himself… At any cost, dear Lord, by any road. “At any cost…by any road” means submitting to God’s way of bringing us to the goal. There is no possibility of questioning God when He speaks, if He speaks to His own nature in me. Prompt obedience is the only result. When Jesus says, “Come,” I simply come; when He says, “Let go,” I let go; when He says, “Trust God in this matter,” I trust. This work of obedience is the evidence that the nature of God is in me. God’s revelation of Himself to me is influenced by my character, not by God’s character. […] It is through the discipline of obedience that I get to the place where Abraham was and I see who God is. God will never be real to me until I come face to face with Him in Jesus Christ. Then I will know and can boldly proclaim, “In all the world, my God, there is none but Thee, there is none but Thee.” The promises of God are of no value to us until, through obedience, we come to understand the nature of God. We may read some things in the Bible every day for a year and they may mean nothing to us. Then, because we have been obedient to God in some small detail, we suddenly see what God means and His nature is instantly opened up to us.”

{ELGIN}  What are you willing to concede to God that you hold dear .. of high value?  Your job, your retirement, your lifestyle, your friends, how about like Abraham, your family.  Are you ready to lay your family down on the altar .. sacrificing their prominence, maybe pre-eminence, in your life for God and His glory?  Or, now that you are saved, are you satisfied with that being good enough and you persist in clinging to those things for which you have a higher regard than you do for God?  Maybe you think you don’t, but God will test you .. and the truth, the devotion of your heart will be revealed. Listen. It’s not about having those things that is the problem.  The problem is when those things have you … they demand your total devotion .. to the exclusion of God.  That is not a spiritually healthy place to be, that is where many of us live.  God is not really interested in signs on your church’s wall about loving God, or the bumper stickers letting other drivers know that you are a Christian … He is interested in the devotion of your heart.  If you are devoted to God, the world will know by how you live and how you love.  God’s blessing always follows obedience .. not intentions or promises … obedience begins in the heart and is demonstrated by our actions.  Abraham had already sacrificed Isaac in his heart before they climbed that mountain.  His faith was in his God, even of he did not know how was going to keep His promise.  Abraham knew that God is faithful and will do what He has said He will do.  The same goes for you.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Understanding The Difference Between Being A Christian And A Christ Follower - It's Obedience

…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. —1 Corinthians 10:31

{CHAMBERS} “We have a tendency to look for wonder in our experience, and we mistake heroic actions for real heroes. It’s one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, and no one paying even the remotest attention to us. If we are not looking for halos, we at least want something that will make people say, “What a wonderful man of prayer he is!” or, “What a great woman of devotion she is!” If you are properly devoted to the Lord Jesus, you have reached the lofty height where no one would ever notice you personally. All that is noticed is the power of God coming through you all the time. […] To be utterly unnoticeable requires God’s Spirit in us making us absolutely humanly His. The true test of a saint’s life is not successfulness but faithfulness on the human level of life. […] our purpose should be to display the glory of God in human life, to live a life “hidden with Christ in God” in our everyday human conditions (Colossians 3:3).”

{ELGIN} Let’s say you have two bolts. With one bolt you fix a high performance car that wins a race.  With the other bolt you fix your lawn mower.  Which bolt has more significance and has best fulfilled its purpose?  Neither.  Neither is better.  Both fulfilled their purpose as you decided.  In the same way, God has a purpose for every Christian – every Christ follower.  (Don’t you love that expression?  Being a Christian might be viewed as “merely” getting saved. As if that were not enough!  But being a “Christ follower” suggests that you are more than saved, you are a true disciple , you have laid down your worldly nets and are following Jesus, wherever He leads.)  Your fulfilling your purpose is not meant to bring glory to you but to God. It doesn’t matter if God uses you on a sports car or a lawn mower.  What matters is that you are obedient to His call and direction.  People talk to me about what Martie and I do and have done for the Kingdom and other people.  We do it for the glory of God.  Billy Graham did what he did for the same reason.  The faithful widow who is never seen by anyone, she does what she does for the same reason.  I often tell people that the only credit I can take is for saying “yes” to God.  Everything else is from God.  He formed me, He purposed me, He gifted me and He called me.  The same goes for you too.

(Psalm 51: 16-17) “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;  you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”  Which is to say that it is not what you do for God, but what you allow God to do in you.  (Micah 6:8) “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what the Lord requires of you but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”  There is only one way you can do that and it’s by the power of God, not self-effort. (1 Samuel 15:22) “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” To be obedient to your purpose means that you must sacrifice your will for God’s will.  You must overcome your fear and doubt with faith.  You must love God more than you love yourself. It doesn’t matter where you are sent or what you are sent to do … being in the center of God’s will and walking obediently in it is the absolute best place you can be.

Monday, November 13, 2017

We Don't Go To Church - We Are The Church

…the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. —Galatians 2:20

{CHAMBERS} “…. Think what faith in Jesus Christ claims and provides— He can present us faultless before the throne of God, inexpressibly pure, absolutely righteous, and profoundly justified. Stand in absolute adoring faith “in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God— and righteousness and sanctification and redemption…” (1 Corinthians 1:30). How dare we talk of making a sacrifice for the Son of God! We are saved from hell and total destruction, and then we talk about making sacrifices! We must continually focus and firmly place our faith in Jesus Christ— not a “prayer meeting” Jesus Christ, or a “book” Jesus Christ, but the New Testament Jesus Christ, who is God Incarnate, and who ought to strike us dead at His feet. Our faith must be in the One from whom our salvation springs. Jesus Christ wants our absolute, unrestrained devotion to Himself. We can never experience Jesus Christ, or selfishly bind Him in the confines of our own hearts. Our faith must be built on strong determined confidence in Him.”

{ELGIN}  Martie and I heard a great sermon this past Sunday.  The preacher was from Indonesia.  Christians from other countries, particularly Third World countries and a different perspective on the brand of Christianity that is prevalent in the United States.  He said that we define Church in one of three ways.  1. As a Gas station.  That is where we go each Sunday to “fill up” spiritually so we can get through another week. 2. As a Cinema.  We go each Sunday to watch a show, maybe have an emotional response to what we see or hear, but take away nothing that might influence how we live. And 3. As a super-market.  A one stop shop.  We have a need that must be met … we go have that need met. The bottom line in all three, it is all about us and what we get out of it .. for us. And we are never satisfied. Attending the church service is a celebration, not the be all end all.  A gathering of His Church.

Why? Because we don’t understand what the Church, that has Christ as the cornerstone, is all about.  The main purpose of the Church is to expand the Kingdom and to bring glory to God.  Not make me comfortable and feel good. The reason Jesus wants you to be a disciple is so you can be a fisher of men (people) like Jesus, not merely to make you a better person, better than your neighbor.  Jesus said “Go!”  Jesus said “Pick up your cross and follow Me.”  Do what Jesus did.  Jesus said “Lay down your life for others.”  Jesus said “Love God with everything you have.”  Jesus said “If you love Me, then do what I say.”  When God Joshua, to obey His Word, and then Joshua would be prosperous and successful, does your mind go to material wealth? That is your flesh speaking.  The word says do not love the world or the things of this world.  Love God.  So how does that fit your idea of Christianity and the Church?  The proof of your belief is not in what you say you believe, but in how you live that belief out day by day.  Something to think about ..

Friday, November 10, 2017

What Do You Hold Dear - What Have You Built Your Life Upon?

…fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ… —1 Thessalonians 3:2

{CHAMBERS} “[…] As long as you maintain your own personal interests and ambitions, you cannot be completely aligned or identified with God’s interests. This can only be accomplished by giving up all of your personal plans once and for all, and by allowing God to take you directly into His purpose for the world. Your understanding of your ways must also be surrendered, because they [your ways in your new life in Christ] are now the ways of the Lord. I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him. […] When I stop telling God what I want, He can freely work His will in me without any hindrance. He can crush me, exalt me, or do anything else He chooses. He simply asks me to have absolute faith in Him and His goodness.”

{ELGIN}  (Psalm 37:4)  “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  God will make His ways-your ways, His desires-your desires, His purposes-your purposes.  He will conform you into the image of His Son. (Romans 8:29) “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”  The shaping process requires surrender .. of everything … not just some things.  One of my favorite praise songs “Knowing You” says

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, Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You, There is no greater thing

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, Oh to know the power of Your risen life, And to know You in Your sufferings, To become like You in Your death, my Lord, So with You to live and never die, Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You, There is no greater thing

Is there something in your life that you still cling to, still trust in - something you treat like a greater thing than your devotion to God?  Perhaps you want to preserve your life style.  Perhaps you want to keep your circle of friends which causes you to compromise your faith for them.  Maybe something else, but it is something.  We all struggle with it.  Listen, the ways of the world will remain embedded in your heart if you don’t surrender all to God by faith.  It’s time to be honest with yourself.  God already knows the truth.  He examines the heart.  You can’t hide anything from Him.  You may fool the people at church when you put on your happy – I love Jesus yes I do – face on Sunday.  But even then, your heart is hardened toward God, resisting what He wants to do in your life, because you love your old life and don’t want to give it up.  Am I being more blunt that you would prefer?  My job is to speak – or write – the Truth in love.  My purpose is not to condemn you, but to encourage you to choose God.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Your Testimony Is About Jesus .. Not About You

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ… —Colossians 1:24

{CHAMBERS} “[A] Christian […] has to be a sacred “go-between.” He must be so closely identified with his Lord and the reality of His redemption that Christ can continually bring His creating life through him. I am not referring to the strength of one individual’s personality being superimposed on another, but the real presence of Christ coming through every aspect of the worker’s life. […] If we simply preach the effects of redemption in the human life instead of the revealed, divine truth regarding Jesus Himself, the result is not new birth in those who listen. The result is a refined religious lifestyle, and the Spirit of God cannot witness to it because such preaching is in a realm other than His. […] When we say, “What a wonderful personality, what a fascinating person, and what wonderful insight!” then what opportunity does the gospel of God have through all of that? It cannot get through, because the attraction is to the messenger and not the message. If a person attracts through his personality, that becomes his appeal. If, however, he is identified with the Lord Himself, then the appeal becomes what Jesus Christ can do. The danger is to glory in men, yet Jesus says we are to lift up only Him (see John 12:32).”

{ELGIN}  I was talking with a painter and his son yesterday.  The conversation drifted from what had to be done in the house, to more personal matters … who we are, why we are what we are.  I feel strongly that God has these men helping for His purpose.  But as I shared a little about my past and why I was in Texas, the young man smiled and said that what I was doing was a great thing.  And so back to Mr. Chambers.  If all I do is impress those men with my service and fail to communicate whom it is that I serve and why, I have failed in my mission.  Testimonies are good, but are hollow and vain without the Gospel at their center.  You can impress people with the “whats” in your life but fail in your mission if you do not tell people “why” you do what you do.  (Matthew 22:37-39) Love God and Love People. Paul said, (1 Corinthians 2:1-5) “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

If people are not drawn to Jesus, but to you, then you have missed the point of your encounter with them.  Be careful that you don’t neglect the Gospel, your primary mission in your new life, in favor of people being impressed with who you are or what you do.  Every bit of that is for the glory of God, not your personal glory.  Don’t be like the some of the Pharisees.  (John 12:42-43)  “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Critical Nature Of Prayer In Your New Life - Stop Neglecting It

We do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. —Romans 8:26

{CHAMBERS} “We realize that we are energized by the Holy Spirit for prayer; and we know what it is to pray in accordance with the Spirit; but we don’t often realize that the Holy Spirit Himself prays prayers in us which we cannot utter ourselves. […] “He,” the Holy Spirit in you, “makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27). […] Have we come to realize that our “body is the temple of the Holy Spirit”? If so, we must be careful to keep it undefiled for Him. We have to remember that our conscious life, even though only a small part of our total person, is to be regarded by us as a “temple of the Holy Spirit.””

{ELGIN} One of the families that we are helping with their home has a car in their garage.  It’s an old car that the husband was restoring.  The main thing the car needs is a new motor to bring it back to life.  For now, it sits in the garage on jack stands, dead for all intents and purposes. When God saves us, He gives us a “new motor”.  We were dead toward God, but through faith in Jesus redemptive work, we were given new life.  (1 John 5:11-12) “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  We were dead spiritually, but then, God put His Spirit in us … the new motor … which made us spiritually alive to Him.

The Spirit is in us and His job is to help us.  He teaches, guides, corrects, and prays. But please note, because the Spirit prays does not mean that we don’t have to.  He prays those things that are too hard for us …. (helper). Prayer is part of the armor of God.  It is the weapon that we do battle with.  Prayer is essential to the spiritual life of every Christian.   Unfortunately it is, in my opinion, the most neglected part of most Christians’ lives.  It is viewed as optional not required. Putting a new engine in that old car would be to no avail if the car is never started, the engine is never revved up, and the car is never used for its purpose.  So it is for you and me.  So Christian’s … start your engines .. the race is on ….

(Hebrews 12:1-2) “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”