Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Spiritual Death

Spiritual death is the result of a person, church, or nation turning its back on God. This is not done by rejection of God but by not obeying and fulfilling Jesus’ commands for His people. In Acts 1:8 we get the mission that keeps us alive.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Without God's vision being a vital part of our lives, we will shrivel up and die.

I am excited to call your attention to TCC's new missions blog that will keep you updated and alive in your walk with Jesus! Spiritual death occurs long before real death occurs. It happens the moment we cease to be a part of the mission.

Visit the blog here and sign up to get automatic updates on missions happenings that you are a vital part of and that transform the world every day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Message From The Prophets

Isaiah 64:6
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

Jeremiah 6:16
This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'

Ezekiel 22:30
"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.

Daniel 12:4
But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.

Hosea 2:6-7
Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, 'I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.'

Joel 2:28
"And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

Amos 4:12
"Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel."

Obadiah 1:3
The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, 'Who can bring me down to the ground?'

Jonah 4:10-11
But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Nahum 1:3
The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.

Habakkuk 1:5
"Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.

Zephaniah 3:17
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

Haggai 1:5-6
Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."

Zechariah 4:6
So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.

Malachi 3:10
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

Malachi 4:6
He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A book review of Oswald Chambers’: My Utmost for His Highest

The devotions in this historic book have produced faith in lives since they were first delivered in lectures from 1911-1917. Spiritual transformation is the goal of Mr. Chamber’s writings. He wrote, spoke, and lived to help others find the transformational promise of the Holy Spirit in their lives. His goal was for them to apply God’s word to their lives in order for them to faithfully serve Jesus through their gifts and talents.

Specks of Chamber’s power and connection with the Holy Spirit can be seen when he writes, “Men return again and again to the few who have mastered the spiritual secret, whose life has been hid with Christ in God. These are of the old time religion, hung to the nails of the Cross.”

The best evidence of Chambers kingdom commitment is seen by the fact that part of the lectures were delivered in Zeitown, Egypt as he shares with Australian and New Zealand troops serving in WWI. His desire to strengthen troops’ commitment to God’s Word in spite of his own safety speaks to his overwhelming desire to spread the message of Christ.

The thesis of this volume is Chamber’s statement about Paul when he said, “My determined purpose is to be my utmost for His highest-my best for His glory.” Chambers explain this thesis by quoting Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” and summarizing it by saying that our goal as Christ followers is “My Unstoppable Determination for His Holiness.” Everything we are for everything God is!

By taking one verse at a time Chambers gives a Biblical education that few have been able to deliver. His process does what few others have been able to do. In these writing he accomplishes the following:

· Provides Biblical teaching
· Provides systematic thinking
· Provides immediate application
· Provides memory verses
· Provides expectations
· Provides a high call to follow Jesus

Chambers died as a young man. He did serve Jesus in many ways, but one would have to wonder if his real calling wasn’t the writing of this one book. The materials were sifted and put together by his wife who recognized both the power of God’s words but also the power of Oswald’s craftsmanship of the Biblical text. It is a reminder to all of us to be faithful and serve where we are allowing God to use us as He see fit. You focus on the depth of your ministry and God will focus on the breadth of your ministry.

Chambers states, “My earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed.” What a life goal for himself and to share with his listeners and readers. No matter how many times one reads through this devotion it continues to change your life. He has spirited insights that allow him to be able to understand the text but then bring it down to our level or specific applications.

Those who truly desire to grow to mature in Christ realize that one must hear preaching and teaching that jumps up and down on toes. We must be confronted by sin and sloth. Chambers does it in a way that you thank him for hurting you, for you know that in the long run in some way your life will be richer as a result of His words.

Chambers uses an unusual approach in his writings. God’s word will work in almost any way as long as you receive the truth of the text, and he has found a unique approach to God’s word. There are styles such as:

· Topical preaching
· Expository preaching
· Allegorical preaching
· Textual preaching
· Biographical preaching

Chambers’ approach is expository teaching with a textual plan. He gives one verse, exposes the truth, and then pounds home the application for changed lives. This is an effective approach of bridging the eternal text to our transient lives. In fact, in some cases he may only use a small phrase from a verse as he does with Philippians 3:10, “That I may know Him.” He would allow the Spirit of God to flow through the words and finish with a flourish of “the arm of a spiritually vigorous saint is that I may know Him. Do I know where I am today?” He is a master of not letting anyone miss the point. He will not allow us to get lost in the Biblical knowledge by always pushing the reader to Biblical wisdom. Many can expose the text, but only the Holy Spirit can direct the application of that exposition.

In another devotion, Chambers writes about the “simplicity that is in Christ.” For 2 Corinthians 11:3 he states, “Even the very smallest thing that we allow in our lives that is not under control of the Holy Spirit is completely sufficient to account for the spiritual confusion, and spending all of our time thinking about it will still never make it clean.” Simple, powerful and personal; the teaching can be ignored but the point can not be missed. His economy of words cuts direct to the facts of the text which drive an arrow into the hearts of mankind.

It would behoove the church today to allow these teachings to impact our lives, to bring the power of God back into our lives and impact us on a daily basis. The church should pray for God to raise up more Holy Spirit filled lives that are committed to the Word and, like Chambers, who expect God to transform lives. The bold assurance that he delivers is absent in our overly educated pulpits that often miss the spiritual powers that only the Holy Spirit can bring. One can study, plan, write, and deliver a message, but if God does not show up there will be no souls saved, nor addicts delivered, or marriages restored. One may receive words and tributes from man but only the Holy Spirit can bring the impact that we desire upon our lives and upon the lives of those we lead.

Good Biblical teaching often employs the gift of asking the right questions at the right time. Chambers writes of Genesis 5:24, “ ‘Enoch walked with God’, the truest test of a person’s spirited life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the ordinary times when nothing tremendous or exciting happening.”

In some cases he asks specific questions, while other times the one he leads you to the question in your own mind. You think, what are the ordinary times?

· With my children
· At the park
· Mowing the yard
· Taking out the trash
· Going to work

Am I walking with God during these ordinary moments of my life? Am I being the Christ follower that I had intended to be? When a writer or preacher can cause a listener to ask the right question of them it allows the Holy Spirit to operate in their lives.

Chambers also writes of “Arise from the dead” from Ephesians 5:14 in this text by writing “Get up and Get Going!” he takes your reluctance by the throat and throws it overboard; just do what needs to be done!. It is a call to action, to get up and serve Jesus. He did not move us from death to life for us to set still. In fact the reason for leaving his body on earth is for us to bring the power of God into our culture, into our neighborhoods and into our homes.

Chambers speaks powerfully of Jeremiah 45:5, “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.'"

He begins with an awesome question. “Are you seeking great things for yourself, instead of seeking to be a great person?” The Apostle Paul says it this way, “Eagerly desire spiritual gifts.”

Do we want all that God has for us that will bring glory to Him or do we eagerly desire gifts that only benefit ourselves? For the most part non-Pentecostals shy away from spiritual gifts which is absolutely tragic. We need all the gifting of Holy Spirit we can get. Do we ask for any of the following?

· More of the Holy Spirit
· To Know Jesus more
· Use us to reach the lost
· For Unity
· For Forgiveness
· For Power
· For Courage
· For Faith
· For more ministries and more missions
· To give more
· To plant churches
· To drive out demonic influences

Jesus did teaches that “we do not have, because we do not ask.” James says even when we ask we do not get “for we ask for ourselves”. Chambers calls us to dare to ask God for power to advance His kingdom globally. Chambers reminds us that when he says, “God is not concerned about making you blessed and happy right now, but He’s continually working out His ultimate perfection for you-that they may be one just as we are one.”

Who are we afraid of a Father who calls us friends and fellow heirs of the Kingdom? Maybe because with the gifts we realize that there will be tremendous responsibility. We will have to produce as Jesus teaches us in John 15, “Much fruit”. The real issue is that we are responsible to bear that fruit so we had better eagerly seeking those spirited gifts.

In his final devotion in the book Chambers does an all-star job with the text from Isaiah 52:12, “But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” He speaks of eternity from yesterday, for tomorrow and for today. He states that one must, “leave the broken, irreversible past in His honor, and step out into the invincible future with Him.” If we are not secure we will never learn to be daring people of faith. Finding security in Jesus through His grace allows us to find the strength to live by faith. This faith is evident by:

· Great giving
· Great praying
· Great teaching
· Converting souls
· Forgiveness
· Healing
· Love

None of these can be reality without feeling a security that we are forgiven and God has our backs. Chambers says, “Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ.”

In short, this book is one of the deep devotional books of all times. As a result of its connection to the text it is an exhaustible resource to use over and over to continue ones journey of faith with Jesus.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Heart of the Matter!

God's Word is full of references to our hearts. The heart represents the "inner person"; who we are when no one is watching. In Proverbs 4:23 we are told by King Solomon, "Above all else guard your heart." What truly needs to be guarded in your life? Think long and hard before you give an answer.

A devotional book written on "The Heart of the Matter" is available at