Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Being Kind To Someone Who Isn’t

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect..” —Matthew 5:43-48

Is there someone that has treated you badly – without provocation – perhaps because of a misunderstanding – or they might just be mean spirited?  If you are old enough to read this, then I am certain it has happened to you, more than once. It might even be someone close to you, like a friend or relative.  We want to vindicate ourselves – at least that is the feeling that often wells up in me. Hurtful comments or actions that are unfounded but pierce your heart. So what to do about it.

You have two options or maybe three.  You can retaliate – which never resolves the problem – but deepens the schism. You can “stuff” it – like water off a ducks back – you can deny the hurt and move on. And whenever you are around that person, there is a tension – unspoken – but a relational glass wall is there keeping you separated. Or you can do what Jesus said to do.  “What is that?” you ask. Love them, bless them, do good to them, pray for them. And be silent before men about it.  (I added that one.)  The reason is that if you do what Jesus said to do – you will not speak against the offender to other people – to win people to your side, if you will.

Some years ago, I learned this great lesson the hard way.  I was falsely accused by someone who was recognized as a spiritual leader. People came to me and said they knew what was being said was untrue – they were witnesses.  I was dumbfounded by the accusations.  I spoke to someone who was a familiar with what had happened and had great spiritual wisdom.  His advice to me – don’t defend yourself – God would vindicate me.  That was not what I was feeling at the time. But, when he said it, my spirit resonated with the truth of what he said. So that is what I did. You see, Jesus was not saying to do those things so that primarily the offender might be changed, but that we would have the heart of God. It was not about their heart, it was about my heart. “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect

We are called out to be salt and light, a peculiar people.  No longer living and doing like we once did, but having been born again by faith, we live and love by a new standard. Being willing to lay our lives down for others. Just like Jesus …

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.” – Isaiah 53:7

It is easy – natural – to get along with people that treat us nicely – but we struggle when they don’t.  I know that this issue is much deeper than what I have written today. The take away is this.  In order to fulfill the second greatest commandment – love your neighbor as yourself – you must first fulfill the first commandment – Love God with all of your heart – mind – soul and strength.  (Matthew 22:37-39) God is shaping us in the image of His Son. To live like Jesus – we must love like Jesus. How we treat people – no matter what is a reflection of our hearts and our devotion.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” – Romans 8:28-29

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, September 20, 2021

Resting In Your Faith

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus..” —Philippians 4:6-7

I recently heard rest described as “What God wants to do in you.” I was thinking about floating on my back. Have you ever done that? In a swimming pool or lake? It takes some practice.  If you don’t relax – you won’t float. Floating in the water is like laying on your bed. Your body is surrendered. You are still – not thrashing around – not tensed up for fear of going under.  There is a calm and a peace that comes over you.  In life, that calm and peace can be ours but it is only by faith and surrendering to God.

the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:26-27

Jesus said that the peace or rest, that is ours by faith, is spiritual and not dependent upon life’s events.  All of us face troubles – disappointments – but if we are born again and therefore have the Spirit of God in us, and we do, then we can relax – rest in God’s sovereignty by faith. When you are learning to float, it takes practice. In the meantime – you will sink. It is difficult to relax – to trust that you will float – that you can float when the water closes over your face. It’s frightening actually.  The same goes for resting in God – trusting that you will be able to endure whatever trouble has come upon you. It takes practice – you won’t always be successful – you might even sink from time to time. But by exercising your faith, your faith gets stronger. In John 14, Jesus is suggesting that we have an option to being troubled and afraid – that option is to trust God by faith – to rest in our relationship with the Creator God. But that relationship must be a priority in our lives and not just a fact. What I mean is that the fact is that if you are born again – you have the spirit in you – you are a child of God. The reality may be that being a Christian is not any more than a label and there is little evidence that you are living a life of faith. I realize that if you are reading this, you are probably not just wearing the label, but you are pursuing God by faith. But perhaps you can encourage those who are not – who are saved but are still trying to not sink below – become engulfed by – their troubles.

One thing that makes my heart sink is when I am talking to someone who is not born again. Encouraging them to do what I have just described is like trying to tell a man with no legs to run or a blind man to look at an amazing sunset. Impossible. That is through their own effort – try as they might.  You can’t buy peace – perhaps temporary substitutes – did you hear that Bill Gates is getting a divorce? The only answer is Jesus. And the truth is that they might not want to hear that – what they want is relief and only the Spirit of God by faith in Jesus can bring it.  Just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem – we should weep over those who reject the Way and Truth and Life. Do you know people like that? The best thing you can do is show them what resting looks like – be a witness by who you live and not just by what you say – but when the Spirit prompts – speak. In the mean time …

Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.” – Proverbs 3:3-8

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Friday, September 17, 2021

How To Avoid Trouble

count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” —James 1:2-7

I could make this a really short devotion this morning by just saying, “You can’t avoid it.” But I won’t.  The fact is that everyone must deal with troubles in their lives. It is part and parcel to living in a sinful – sin filled world.  I am certain that you remember the story of Job. His friends were convinced that Job had done something to deserve what happened to him. There must have been sin in his life that was the seed for the trouble he was enduring.  There are certainly consequences for what we and others do and don’t do, but troubles may come your way and you have had nothing to do with why they have come.   

Someone once said “There is no TESTimony (my emphasis) without a test.” Generations have marveled at Job’s faith and resulting endurance.  The source of our ability to endure during the trials in this life spiritual not natural. It is a product of exercised faith – not individual determination, resolve and wit.  Wisdom is understanding and that is from God not from the exercising of the synapse in our brains. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God” I suspect that many of you who are reading this have experienced trials – perhaps like Job – loss of livelihood, homes, family members – it is a long list of possibilities.  When trouble comes – don’t look around – look up.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

You can find peace through faith in the midst of the trouble. It does not mean that there will not be sorrow or disappointment, but there can also be strength to endure and peace that overcomes the pain. Perhaps this should be our prayer when we feel the breath of the lion on our necks - the weight of the world on our shoulders.

Vindicate me, O God, And plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! For You are the God of my strength; Why do You cast me off? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your tabernacle. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” – Psalm 43

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Living With The Sin Of -- It's Not So Bad

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” —John 6:66

“When God, by His Spirit through His Word, gives you a clear vision of His will, you must “walk in the light” of that vision (1 John 1:7). Don’t look at someone else and say, ‘Well, if he can have those views and prosper, why can’t I?’ You have to “walk in the light” of the vision that has been given to you. If we don’t see and understand this, it is because we are ignoring the underlying principles of our Lord’s teaching. But if a New Testament standard is revealed to us by the light of God, and we don’t try to measure up, or even feel inclined to do so, then we begin to backslide. It means your conscience does not respond to the truth. That moment marks you as one who either continues on with even more devotion as a disciple of Jesus Christ, or as one who turns to go back as a deserter.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

There spiritual danger with the sin of not so bad. (James 2:10) “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  Have you ever heard someone say .. well that is not “so” bad, it’s only ________. You can fill in the blank.  What came to my mind was movies .. there only a little profanity… there is only brief nudity.  Why do we say that. “there is only”? We say it or think it because we want to justify what we are about to do or did.  Actually what is happening is that, we are debating with the Spirit.  Trying to convince Him that we are not engaging in sin.  Unfortunately, that practice and acceptance has become so common in the American Christian culture that accepting sinful acts in the television and movies we watch is common place.  Families struggle with the effects of premarital sex … drugs .. alcohol … yet they pay money to watch it played out on the screen or television and justify it by calling it entertainment.  They argue that it’s just a movie.  Think about this.  Companies spend billions of dollars on advertising every year.  The reason is that they want to influence your thinking.  Do you really believe that they would spend all that money if it didn’t work?  Our culture “advertises” its values in the same way.  Behavior that you personally detest, that you would not personally be involved in, you submit to in your mind by being a willing voyeur. And worse, you allow, even encourage your children to do the same.

When you compare the natural life with the Word of God, the differences are obvious – glaring even.  It’s just that we refuse to look.  And if we do, even though the Spirit in us says “No”, our flesh says “yes”, and our mind says “It’s not so bad!”  There are many other examples, other than the visual media.  All of it is temptation. 

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” – 1 John 2:15- 17

Some of the most popular television shows are about crime and crime fighters.  Good overcoming evil.  That is not so bad is it?  But with the good we must accommodate sex, violence, profanity, illicit relationships …. Many things that are contrary to who we are as Christians and we would, hopefully, not participate in…. Well .. I think I will let you debate whether this applies to you with the Holy Spirit.  The bottom line .. we need to apply the same rigor in what we do and watch  as we do in our judging what other people do and don’t do.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:3-5

It's a lot easier to see these issues in other peoples' lives.  But, are you guilty of compromise?  Have your taught your children to do the same? Those who have ears let them hear .. those who have eyes, let them see!

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Weighing The Cost Of Being Jesus' Disciple

“There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. – Proverbs 14:12

“The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, and nobler men and women, or they are making us more critical and fault-finding, and more insistent on our own way. The things that happen either make us evil, or they make us more saintly, depending entirely on our relationship with God and its level of intimacy. If we will pray, regarding our own lives, “Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42), then we will be encouraged and comforted by John 17, knowing that our Father is working according to His own wisdom, accomplishing what is best.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

Do you think of yourself as a disciple or are you “merely” a Christian.  In my mind, there is a difference.  I will explain.  If you read the Gospels you see that there was a large crowd that follow Jesus, initially.  But, as He got nearer to the cross ..  fewer followed.  The life that Jesus represented was appealing to the crowds so long as there was something in it for them.  Food .. healing … being known as a Jesus follower.  But when the cross was on the horizon, even those closest to Jesus were tested in their commitment to following Him .. to being identified with Him.  I don’t presume to understand everything .. many things are a mystery to me.  For example … at what point did the disciples find salvation in Jesus?  Was it by faith before the cross?  Or, was it after the cross?  The Bible doesn’t tell us.  I am thinking the former … I do know that Jesus told them to wait for the Holy Spirit .. which means that with Jesus ascended, they needed supernatural power to live and do.  Before they had it in Jesus.  After the cross, they needed it from the Spirit.  And so, by the way, do we. 

So back to the question.  Are you a disciple or “just” a Christian.  We must all answer it.  In fact we all have.  Our level of dedication to Jesus is displayed every day by the way we live and love.  Like the parable of the talents .. have you buried the reality of your faith in the ground intending to dig it up when Jesus returns or you join Him in heaven?  Or are you multiplying your faith by loving God more than you love the world … showing Jesus to the people you meet?  It is important that we reflect on our life in Christ.  The cares of this world are like barnacles on the hull of a ship.  If you don’t deal with them early and often, they will multiple and soon obscure who you are in Christ.  Your God-purposed life will be made impotent.  You will be lulled into a sense of satisfaction that you are living the Christian-life as it was intended.  That is until you come face to face with Jesus.

I have wondered, often, about why I write the things I do in this BLOG.  I sense that, in some ways, I am like a lighthouse warning the sailors that there are dangers to avoid.  I certainly am not judging anyone … but I am, instead, encouraging you to be on your guard .. to consider who you are in Christ and where you are in your faith walk.  To be alert to the dangers of embracing this world and your culture.  (Proverbs 14:12) “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” My role is to raise an awareness, frankly, what you do about it is between you and the Holy Spirit.  God Bless You!.

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, September 13, 2021

You Won’t Know Where Until You Go There

"…Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing’….. So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran..” —Genesis 12:1-2,4

In my book, Where Faith Is Waiting, I identified nine spiritual principles that I have found to be at work as I pursued my new life in Christ. The second principle is this – Until We Obey His Leading By Faith, God Will Never Act On Our Behalf. In other words, God’s blessings are waiting on the other side of the door called obedience.  Abram – or later Abraham – had to exercise faith when God gave him direction. He could have stayed in Haran – where he was comfortable – where things were familiar – he was 75 years old!

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” – Hebrews 11:8-10

So you know that already – nothing new to you? I would hope so. But the question you should be asking is this. Of all the words and stories and admonitions that God could have chosen to have recorded in His revelation to the mankind through scripture – why tell us about Abraham? 

 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man (read man or woman) of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

That’s why! Because God wants us to learn from Abraham. God asked Abraham to leave his life – of 75 years behind – to journey to a place that God would show him without having the details on the path or the destination. To do that required great faith. To live the life that God has called us to live in the place where He will show us and at the cost of leaving our old life behind also requires great faith. It requires that our hearts be fully devoted to God. That is why God told us about Abraham. Because what God asked him to do – He asks us to do also.  The thing is that, if you are anything like me, you struggle with stepping out and going and doing where the Lord tells us to go and what the Lord tells us to do. Instead we want to trust in and turn to our old way of living.  Do you remember Peter getting out of the boat?

And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” – Matthew 14:28-32

But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid” Peter started out well, but when he was faced with the physical reality of his obedient act – the natural impossibility of it – he put his faith back in his old nature and was in trouble. That is why Jesus chastised him. We do the same thing. We want to follow God but are unwilling to trust Him completely. We try to be obedient in some things and expect God to be pleased and bless us. We confuse success and accumulation in this world with God’s blessing us.  Worldly wealth and health is not a spiritual barometer. It is very possible that you can be destitute and ill and be a spiritual giant.  I will leave you with these verses to contemplate.

 I [urge] you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:1-2

Just like Abraham ….

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Friday, September 10, 2021

When A Friend Hurts Your Heart

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

“God promised Jeremiah that He would deliver him personally— ‘…your life shall be as a prize to you…’ (Jeremiah 39:18). That is all God promises His children. … Jesus says, in effect, “Don’t worry about whether or not you are being treated justly.” Looking for justice is actually a sign that we have been diverted from our devotion to Him. Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it. If we look for justice, we will only begin to complain and to indulge ourselves in the discontent of self-pity, as if to say, “Why should I be treated like this?” If we are devoted to Jesus Christ, we have nothing to do with what we encounter, whether it is just or unjust. In essence, Jesus says, “Continue steadily on with what I have told you to do, and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance.” […] We put our common sense on the throne and then attach God’s name to it. We do lean to our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts (see Proverbs 3:5-6).” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

I just had a long conversation with someone yesterday about this very thing.  Unjust treatment from someone very close to their heart.  There is nothing that hurts so deeply as betrayal by someone you love and trust.  So, assuming that you are the cause of the trouble, what do you do with that?  Certainly there is sorrow … but we should not be surprised.  Do not look to the world .. even to those closest to you for affirmation .. look to the hills (Psalm 121:1). When it happens to us, our first response is to try and think of a way to fix it .. to find restoration … the problem is that it is not your problem.  It is the one who betrayed your trust that must repent .. you can’t coax them into it ... talk them into it … pummel them with scriptural reasons why they should not be that way.  Only conviction by the Holy Spirit and their submission to that conviction will result in the restoration that you seek.  So what can you do?  Well …. It’s simple really … show them Jesus.

 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:17-21

This is not a natural response but a supernatural one.  The natural response is to return evil for evil.  People who care about you may give you a number of reasons why you should not return good for the evil they have done.  When anyone gives us advice in times like this, we must always look to the Word to see what God has to say about it.  And don’t expect your flesh – your old nature – to like it.  Times like this are a test .. that’s right – a test of your new nature.  Responding by faith with obedience to the Word of God requires that we see “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) And in doing so you bring glory to God and lift up Jesus to all those around you. Now what could be better than that? Nothing – that’s what!.

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Pit Of Despair Is The Place Where Faith Is Waiting

I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” – 2 Timothy 1:12

As I watch so many people struggle with the issues of life (me included) - the thought about the importance of faith and living by faith comes to me.  So much of our attitude about life is dependent upon what happens to us and around us.  Our plans fail.  We suffer loss and are disappointed.  That disappointment often leads to depression which then leads to desperation.  But, it is in that lonely place where Faith is waiting. 

To have faith and hope in the midst of a crisis makes no earthly sense.  But, the pre-condition for faith is not that it makes sense. Confidence, hope and peace resulting through faith will always stand in defiance of common sense, what is reasonable, and within human understanding.

“ …. let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” – Hebrews 12:1-2

The substance of faith is found in a relationship with the Creator God through Jesus Christ.  That is as certain as the fact that gravity will keep you connected to this earth and you will not float into  space when you leave your house. Once you are able to grasp that -  to embrace it - to apply it - to make it part of you - the result will be peace in the midst of any storm that might come your way.  And the storms will come!

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Know Jesus, Know Peace. No Jesus, No Peace.

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Changed From The Inside - Out Not From The Outside - In

Have you ever noticed that some people change the way they talk or act when they are around you?  This has happened to me on a number of occasions. And if I am honest – I have done it myself on more than one occasion.  There is one person I know that struggles with profanity.  One that reflects the God that we serve and not the culture we live in.  He is a Christian – but that is one of those things that has not been “sanctified” out of him yet.  When we talk, he will catch the word coming out of his mouth and quickly change it.  It is obvious what happened and since I was a very profane person at one time, it is not difficult for me to “fill in the blanks”. Many Christians seem to think that the use of profanity is not a big deal, but there are actually Biblical principles behind it.  You may not think there is anything wrong with using profane words in your conversation, I happen to believe that the Bible speaks against it and there is a kinder gentler way of expressing yourself. 

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”  – Psalm 19:14

What we say should be consistent with who God is and not with who we were in our natural, sinful state.

 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29

So in my friend’s heart he knows it is wrong, else he would not try to hold them back when he is around me, but it is out of his heart that the words come. 

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45 

Actually, the words we use are only one thing that we prefer other Christians to not know about.  We may think we have people fooled, but it is God and not people that we should be concerned about. And guess what – He already knows – nothing is hidden from Him.  Confession means “to agree with” not to “reveal”.  When you confess your sins to God (1 John 1:9) it’s not like you are going to surprise Him.  Look – whether it is the words you use or the things you do toward others that is part of your old – sinful nature, rather than hide it, you need to surrender it.  One thing you must not do is accept it as an unchangeable part of your life.  Or do you suppose that God is not able to change those things that seem unchangeable? The truth is that, very likely, the problem is that you are not really willing to let go of them.  It’s time to get real my friend and choose God.

By the way – I don’t judge my friend. I encourage him in the faith.  I can’t change his heart – only God can do that – but what I can do is show him God’s grace and mercy and love.

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Telling Others All Is Well When It Isn't

 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.  Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” — Philippians 2:12-15

“[To be pleasing to God]  requires a conscious decision and effort to keep our primary goal constantly in front of us. It means holding ourselves to the highest priority year in and year out; not making our first priority to win souls, or to establish churches, or to have revivals, but seeking only “to be well pleasing to Him.” It is not a lack of spiritual experience that leads to failure, but a lack of working to keep our eyes focused and on the right goal. At least once a week examine yourself before God to see if your life is measuring up to the standard He has for you. […] Paul spoke of the importance of controlling his own body so that it would not take him in the wrong direction. […] My worth to God publicly is measured by what I really am in my private life. Is my primary goal in life to please Him and to be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how lofty it may sound?” Oswald Chambers – My Utmost For His Highest

Living by faith and walking in the light does not just happen.  It requires commitment and discipline.  Our new life requires effort of the heart… to submit to the Lord requires us to lay ourselves down on the altar.  Working out our salvation is not self-effort .. trying harder to be “good” …. it’s submission.

So many people are satisfied with working on having a good-Christian appearance and miss the joy and peace that comes from living in obedience to the will of God.  I know too many people that are struggling with life and refuse to trust God.  (perhaps you do too) If you ask them how they are doing, they will tell you that “all is well”. but all is not well, they just want it to be well in spite of their living in disobedience to the will of God and direction of the Spirit of God. Struggling with the affairs - circumstances - problems of this world. Desperation of circumstances can subvert your faith and divert your walk.  That is, unless you are willing to trust and obey.  I wish I could do trust and obey for others, for my family especially, but I can’t. I can only watch their struggle and hope they will look to God for answers instead of trusting in their own designs. Designs that have consistently failed them in the past.  And perhaps there is an outside chance that I can be an encouragement to them. Do you know someone that needs encouragement - in spite of what they say?

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, September 6, 2021

The Problem With Having More Than One Bank Account

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also..” — Matthew 6:19-21

We have several bank accounts.  One is for our personal business, one is for the ministry, and another is a temporary account we set up in Texas while we are here serving on mission.  We use each account depending upon what the source of the money we receive is or what the expense is.  As Christians, that is much the same way that we live our lives.  We have two bank accounts, a spiritual account and a carnal account.  Oh “carnal” is such a harsh word isn’t it?  Maybe I should have used something softer.  Something that suggests that what’s been deposited in that account is not all bad.  And that may be true by the world’s definition of good and bad, but not God’s.  (Sorry, had a “squirrel” moment!)   Back on point …. Our new life in Christ is transformational, “the old is gone, the new has come” and it demands that we always deposit to and draw from our spiritual bank account for everything.  But we don’t do that do we?  Instead we live the best we can and if we have to, we will rummage through a desk drawer to find our spiritual “checkbook” to write a check.  If this analogy or parable is too obtuse, let me be plain.

From observation and personal experience, I have come to inescapable conclusion that most of us trust in our flesh and our culture more than God.  We believe that we can live two lives.  Our natural one and our spiritual one.  Our natural one for most things and our spiritual one for special occasions.  In fact … that is heretical (wrong) thinking.  In truth is, we are supposed to crucify our sinful old nature and live fully by our new, spiritual nature.  (Galatians 2:20) The reason, I believe, that we have this problem is that we are not disciplined in our pursuit of a deep relationship with the Father. We don’t spend much time each day focused on the spiritual.  One of my favorite verses is (Joshua 1:8-9) “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

In computer programming we would call that an “if-then” statement.  If you do this .. then this will happen.  For most of us .. “IF” … is a big word for only having two letters!  And that is where most of us fail.  If you don’t do the “if” then you won’t experience the “then”. It’s up to each one of us.  I can only encourage you … and you can only encourage others.  Actually “only” is a poor choice of words because we are admonished to encourage each other.  (Hebrews 3:12-13) “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Maybe it’s time to close one of your accounts for good … you only need one after all … your new one..  Might I suggest you consider another “if-then”.

“(IF you) Delight yourself also in the Lord, And (THEN) He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

By pursuing my relationship with God, He changes what my heart wants and brings it into alignment with His heart. His passion becomes my passion.  His passion becomes your passion – but only “IF”.

Now – where did I put that checkbook!!

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Friday, September 3, 2021

Our New Life Is About BE-ing and Not Merely DO-ing - And That Starts With Your Heart

Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” — Mark 10:21

When the rich young man approached Jesus (Mark 10:17-22), I think the man was certain that he had done everything right.  He had not murdered anyone, not committed adultery, not stolen, had not born false witness, not defrauded, and had honored his father and mother. But Jesus told him there was something that he lacked and then told the man to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor.  Jesus could see what people could not see – what was hidden – the young man’s heart and its devotion. God looks at the heart of man, man looks at the deeds of man.  God wants our total devotion (Matthew 22:37), man is satisfied with a form of godliness.  We think that the answer is in the “DO-ing”, when the answer is really in the “Be-ing”.  The young man went away sad because what he offered Jesus as proof that he should be given eternal life was a not good enough.  Jesus asked for the very thing that the man loved more than God – money and possession.  The true devotion of the young man’s heart was exposed.

Doing good does not result in being good.  Being good results in doing good.  James wrote that a faith that doesn’t produce works is dead (James 2:17)  We must be careful that we are not led to the conclusion that our righteousness through faith in Jesus is a product, a result, of works. To be a good Christian all we have to do is try harder. But the truth is that to be a “good” Christian what we have to do is faith harder.  Good works are a natural result of true faith.  Not the other way around.  True faith is not a result of good works. (Ephesians 2:8) “We are saved by grace through faith, not of works.”  Dr. Henry Blackaby said, “You have heard it said ‘Don’t just stand there do something.’ But God is saying, ‘Don’t just do something, stand there.’” Do you see the difference? 

The young man was doing the right thing for the wrong reason.  Because the young man put his trust in himself and his possessions, his heart and his devotion to God was corrupted. King David said “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. …. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51)  Is there something in your heart that demands your devotion above God?  Something that you trust in more than the One who is trust worthy.  Are you trying to be a “good” Christian by trying harder? Our redeemer is faithful and true and is deserving of our total devotion.  Take some time to examine your heart … let the Holy Spirit search in those locked closets and clean them out.  Fulfill the purpose for which you were created and saved.  Bringing glory to God begins with a heart totally devoted to Him. 

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Thursday, September 2, 2021

A Call To Help Pathfinder Mission Help Haiti

Greetings my friend!

I trust this finds you well and blessed by the Lord. I am sending this to you because perhaps you have participated in the ministry of Pathfinder Mission in some form over the years….Mississippi, Jacmel or Jeremie Haiti, or perhaps with us here in Texas.  Or you may have an interest in the BLOGS I write.  For the past 4 years we have been based out of Pasadena, Texas (think Houston) serving families who have been ravaged by hurricanes, tropical storms, and winter storm freezes.  This week we began work on our 37th home repair for this year in the Houston metroplex. At the same time, we have continued to support work in Haiti through partnerships with Haitian pastors and U.S. based organizations – building homes in the mountains and supporting schools.

I am certain you know about the earthquake in Haiti last month. At least 2,207 people were confirmed killed as of 22 August and more than 12,000 injured. At least 136,800 buildings were damaged or destroyed. UNICEF estimates more than half a million children were affected. That was followed by a tropical storm in the same area. I am also certain that you are aware that the President of Haiti, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated in July.  Haiti is in turmoil having received a left, a right, and an uppercut. All of that in the midst of the COVID epidemic.

Our dear friend and partner in the Gospel, Pastor Marc Cloveus, who leads Christ for All church in Jacmel Haiti, contacted me about a trip he had organized to help bring food and comfort to the people in Camp Perrin. No matter the country, typically resources and aide are focused on the larger population centers after a disaster. Camp Perrin is a smaller community, on the way between Jeremie and Les Cayes.  Pathfinder has always focused on the more rural areas in Haiti – the forgotten areas, so I was immediately interested in what he had to say.  Pastor Marc told me about a pastor and his family in Camp Perrin whose home was destroyed in the earthquake. There is not home owners insurance in Haiti – the country does not have a FEMA or Corps of Engineers to turn to after a disaster.  The country lacks infrastructure. So, to the point, when a family loses their home – there is no capacity to replace it.  In Matthew 25, the question was asked of Jesus, “Lord when did we see you?” His answer, “When you did (or did not do ) it to the least of these, you did (or did not do ) it to Me.” 

Pastor Marc and Pathfinder Mission have agreed to help some families rebuild their homes. Homes that will be more earthquake resistant. Homes that are not made of fragile cement blocks.  When complete every home will have a toilet and a simple rain catch system. And of course, each house will be wrapped with a Gospel bow. 

Pastor Marc is taking a small team of builders this weekend to assess the pastor’s home and provide an estimate on the cost of the rebuild.  My initial estimate is $1500 to $2000. But that is more of a mark on the wall until the true cost is known.  I am not asking you to provide the total cost of a home, unless the Lord should lay that on your heart – but I am asking you to help in some way.  I don’t know how many homes we will rebuild.  I do know that where God guides, God provides.

Please pray about joining us in this effort. Helping Haitians to help Haitians. I have included a link to our website’s donation page or you can send a check to the address below (write Haiti Earthquake in the memo field).  Let me know of your decision by sending me a private message.  God Bless You.

 

Pathfinder Mission

4808 Fairmont Parkway, #302

Pasadena, TX 77505

 

Charley

Charles Elgin | Executive Director

Pathfinder Mission

www.pathfindermission.org


Be The Light Even If It Hurts Someone's Eyes

“… we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” —Ephesians 4:14-15

How do you filter life’s events? In other words .. what is the source from which you respond to what happens to you and around you?  Since this is a faith-based BLOG, of course the “right” answer is your faith.  But that may not be what actually happens.  If we fail to embrace the primacy of our new nature in our life then we will put the natural in the front of the line, when it comes to making choices .. our old nature will be at the top of the stack of responses to life. 

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

The life I now live in this body of mine .. means the natural life that used to rule and guide me has been usurped by Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  How I respond to life should always be based on who I am in Christ.  Romans 12:2 says don’t be conformed to the natural but be transformed by the supernatural.  Loving God with all of you does not leave any room for the flesh and the natural.  When Jesus said (Luke 14:26-27) “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”  That means that you must put the natural in its proper place and it cannot be ahead of Jesus and your new life.

Most people want to be in harmony with their family.  Sometimes our faith gets in the way of that natural harmony.  Many people want the acceptance of their family more than anything ... above everything.  If you are a Christian, that may not be possible if you are unwilling to compromise your faith.  Have you ever “tucked your faith in your pocket” when you are around certain people so as not to offend them?  If you have, you put the natural ahead of the supernatural.  You chose to deny your faith in favor of  acceptance from the world .. and that may .. and most often does … include your family and friends.  You don’t have to be offensive, but you should also not be apologetic.  We are called to be salt and light.  Salt that has lost its saltiness …its ability to do what it was created to do … flavor and heal … is good for nothing and should be cast out to be trampled under men’s feet. (Matthew 5:13) That doesn’t sound good does it.

The world is trying hard to erase that truth that God sent His Son so we might be saved from our sin and make life about other things like personal choice or money and possessions.  But ... you need to be salt and light – what you were created to be (2 Corinthians 5:17).   Have you ever been in a dark room and someone opened the curtains or turned the lights on.  Did it hurt your eyes?  That is what you do spiritually when you are around other people who are living in darkness.  Be the light!   “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) 

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Rejoice In Service And Give God The Credit

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” —Luke 10:20

Every now and again, we all have an opportunity to experience something supernatural.  The movement of the Spirit of God.  Some mighty act of God precipitated through us or through someone else.  We are amazed and perhaps derive a sense of great joy – like the disciples.  But we must be careful – like the disciples.  It is very easy to lose focus on the God who is the source of all spiritual power and focus on the event that is the result of that spiritual power.   And perhaps, even attribute credit to yourself or to someone else and not to the Source. 

A question that is very often asked of volunteer mission teams at the end of their trips is “What did you get out of your time here?”  A simple question, well intentioned, but it focuses on the wrong point of their service. I have known a good many people whose lives have been forever transformed through serving others. But, maybe a better question might be, “What did God reveal to you during your time here?”

I have people give me credit for my service all the time.  It is easy to begin to think that somehow I am the reason some good happened.  But, in fact, the source of the “good” was God, not my abilities.  In fact, God is the source of my abilities that I used to serve others as well.  Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in what they were doing, but in why they were able to do it. 

Listen.  It is OK to feel good about yourself.  But we must be careful that we don’t take credit for something that someone else, namely God, did through us.  Certainly the world does not understand that. And that lack of understanding presents you with an opportunity to avoid robbing God of His glory and giving all of the credit to God. In response to praise for my service I most often say, “The only credit I can take is saying ‘yes’ to God.”

And about that feeling.  I was talking to someone the other day.  He was telling me about how he had helped someone in need.  He said “It made me feel good inside.” I told him the feeling he had was not “Good” but “Right”.  When we are obedient to God’s leading and will, we have a sense of “Right”.  That can be easily mistaken for good and that can be easily mis-attributed to our own action and credit.  Like the doing of a good thing somehow vindicates us – making us good.  Right– is what it feels like to be walking in obedience to the will of the Father.  Out of obedience springs the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace …. The result of that, in our flesh, is most often the human emotion of feeling good. 

It’s OK to have that feeling.  What is not Ok is taking credit for it.  Make certain that in all you do for God that you give credit where credit is due.  And you can feel good about that!

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, August 30, 2021

I Am An Alligator – Not A Dinosaur

“Wisdom is with aged men, And with length of days, understanding. With Him are wisdom and strength, He has counsel and understanding.” – Job 12:12-13

I am an observer of people (not nosey – just observant) – I pay attention to what they do – what they say – how they treat others. Not in a judgmental way, but as a neutral observer. Eventually my observations find their way to personal application and maybe even as a topic in my BLOG.  I once (or maybe more than once) commented that I have 2 boxes in my brain.  In one box goes all of the good that I have seen and experienced and in the other box, yeah that’s right – all of the not so good – or said another way, the bad.  I make it a point to never reach into the second box – the bad box, in my quest to find an answer for how I will respond to others or treat others.  

I have to admit that I have not always been successful in my personal compliance with my approach to life, but I do think I am getting better. I see dust gathering on the lid of the second box which is a good sign that it has largely fallen into disuse. So what does this have to do with alligators and dinosaurs?  Well ……

An observation ….. Alligators have been around for a long time. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service describes them as “A member of the crocodile family, the American alligator is a living fossil from the Age of Reptiles, having survived on earth for 200 million years.”  They are living – active creatures – Still, after 200 million years (plus or minus) part of nature’s food chain. Dinosaurs, if you believe that Jurassic Park was just a movie, are nothing more than (dead) fossils.  Their time has passed – living in nothing more than a fantasy in someone’s mind, or as a fossilized curiosity in a museum or a find in a farmer’s field or in some archeological dig. 

So where is the spiritual context? As most of you reading this will know, my “age-ometer” just rolled over to 71. That means I have been in the over 55 age group for 16 years. That said, I have become sensitive to, hopefully not obsessed with, my place in the Body of Christ. It seems to me that most churches have adopted a cultural view of aging.  Once a Christian reaches a certain age – they are no longer part of the “spiritual food chain” but become fossilized to be put on a shelf with the other fossils leaving the “real” ministry and work of the church to be left to the younger – living Christians.  The thing is – I am having a difficult time finding support for that thinking and doing in the Bible. In fact – it is quite the opposite. In our natural culture the thinking that , “young is good and old is not so good” is prevalent.  In fact there are many older people struggling to not look older – because, I think, they don’t want to be set aside. They want to be relevant. Well what does the Bible have to say about the aging of our physical nature in contrast to our spiritual nature?

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

It says that we should not focus on the fact that the outward man that is perishing, but the inward – spiritual man that is being renewed day by day.  The inward man is maturing and will become mature on that day when they meet Jesus face to face.  Why would such a person be set on a shelf?  Why would they not be cherished and sought out for their wisdom and understanding?  It is like Christians have decided that each adult generation must figure it out on their own. Once you can be categorized as a senior – all you are good for is getting together with other seniors – boarding a bus and going to Branson, Missouri – or some other destination.  It is a gross waste of spiritual resources!

The thing is – many “seniors” have bought into that thinking and are content with “finding their seat on the bus or the next seniors’ lunch”.  This would be a difficult thing to undo because so many people are content with the way things are. Not me apparently – the proof is that I am writing this devotional to challenge you and I will not get on the bus!

This is our admonishment in Hebrews. We should not be content with merely going along for the ride!

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  – Hebrews 5:12-14

We will not hear, “Well done, My good and faithful servant” until we get to heaven.  There is no spiritual retirement plan while we still have breath on this planet. We should be teaching the younger people – younger in the faith – leading them to spiritual maturity and not be sequestered on Sunday morning.

“ …. older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children ..” –  Titus 2:2-4

My encouragement is this. If you are categorized as a “senior”, seek what the Lord would have you do with the spiritual wisdom and gifts He has given you – don’t be content with being patronized and marginalized as a fossilized dinosaur. And if you are not a senior – make it a point to encourage those who are to press on in their faith reminding them that they are still a part of the Body of Christ and have a role to play. Because they are alligators, not dinosaurs after all!

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone