Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Misplaced Trust - Living Under the Influence Of Your Sinful Nature

My Utmost For His Highest
Jesus did not commit Himself to them…for He knew what was in man. —John 2:24-25
“Put Trust in God First. Our Lord never put His trust in any person. Yet He was never suspicious, never bitter, and never lost hope for anyone, because He put His trust in God first. He trusted absolutely in what God’s grace could do for others. If I put my trust in human beings first, the end result will be my despair and hopelessness toward everyone. I will become bitter because I have insisted that people be what no person can ever be— absolutely perfect and right. Never trust anything in yourself or in anyone else, except the grace of God. […] A person’s obedience is to what he sees to be a need— our Lord’s obedience was to the will of His Father. […] Am I allowing my natural life to be slowly transformed by the indwelling life of the Son of God? God’s ultimate purpose is that His Son might be exhibited in me.”  CHAMBERS
Have you put your trust .. I mean placed your wellbeing in the hands of another human being only to be let down, disappointed, forsaken?  Many do that, often more than once.  Hoping that the next time will be different.  What have you trusted people for, your money or maybe your heart.  There is but One who is trustworthy.  Yet we don’t trust Him as we should. We forsake the One who is faithful and true and place our confidence in mere mortals.  What we should be looking for from God, we trust people to provide instead.  This is not to say that we should not trust others, but rather, that our relationships with people must be second to our relationship with God. I have talked to many people in their grief, all the while thinking, “Where was God in this?”  Knowing the answer.  They had let their emotions, their desires, their fears, their lack of faith influence their life choices.  They didn’t trust God in that moment because they didn’t trust God day to day.  Sound harsh?  The truth often sounds harsh.  (Proverbs 27:5-6)  “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
As a Christian, your primary relationship is to be with God, your Father.  Whatever you do or say, whoever else you trust in, must spring from your primary relationship.  To do otherwise is carnality. Living in the power of your flesh under the influence of the world and your sinful nature.  Trusting in yourself with all your heart and leaning not on God’s wisdom.  In all your ways you deny God, and follow the path of your choosing.  (Proverbs 14:12) “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Today is a new day.  Where are you going to put your trust?  It’s your choice.  Choose well Christian. CHARLEY

Monday, May 30, 2016

Faith In Jesus - Focus On The Truth - Foresaking The World

My Utmost For His Highest
Lord, I will follow You, but… —Luke 9:61
“Suppose God tells you to do something that is an enormous test of your common sense, totally going against it. What will you do? Will you hold back? If you get into the habit of doing something physically, you will do it every time you are tested until you break the habit through sheer determination. And the same is true spiritually. Again and again you will come right up to what Jesus wants, but every time you will turn back at the true point of testing, until you are determined to abandon yourself to God in total surrender. Yet we tend to say, “Yes, but— suppose I do obey God in this matter, what about…?” Or we say, “Yes, I will obey God if what He asks of me doesn’t go against my common sense, but don’t ask me to take a step in the dark.”[…] In the spiritual realm, Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold on to or believe through common sense, and leap by faith into what He says.”  CHAMBERS

Perhaps when you read what Chambers had to say, you thought, “well, that is about doing something great for God, being called to some great ministry or performing some great act of faith.”  There is not a greater act of faith than choosing to follow God in obedience to His revealed will.  Choosing God and rejecting the world, your culture, the natural desires and way of life “is an enormous test of your common sense.”  It is so natural to yield to the common sense way of living.  There is a diagram in mathematics called a Venn diagram that describes the dilemma we face. 
There is part of our life (in the part where the circles overlap) where the world and the Word are in agreement.  The problem is, that that space gets smaller and smaller over time.  The world, the cultural definition of truth and what’s right, is at odds with its Creator.  Man wants to go his own way, and does. On the other hand, Christians secretly hope that there might be heaven on earth in their lifetime.  When the truth of the matter is that life on earth will get much worse before it gets better.  (Matthew 7:13-14) “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  Many that are going to hell are satisfied that what they do in this life is adequate to get them to heaven.  It is not.  Jesus is the only way.  He is the small Gate, the narrow Way.  As Christians, we soon learn that as Christians, we are yet drawn to the natural life.  We are tempted to accept the definition of good and true that our culture offers.  It seems to be common sense.  It is certainly the way to find acceptability from those that live and work around us. But that is not who we are.  (2 Corinthians 5:17) “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creature.  Old things have passed away.  All things have become new.”  Our new life requires faith and focus.  Faith in Jesus and focus on the Truth.  And rejection of the World.  CHARLEY

Saturday, May 28, 2016

As Runner In This Race You Must Train, Strain and Refrain

My Utmost For His Highest
In that day you will ask Me nothing. —John 16:23
“When is “that day”? It is when the ascended Lord makes you one with the Father. “In that day” you will be one with the Father just as Jesus is, and He said, “In that day you will ask Me nothing.” Until the resurrection life of Jesus is fully exhibited in you, you have questions about many things. […] “In that day” there may be any number of things still hidden to your understanding, but they will not come between your heart and God. “In that day you will ask Me nothing”— you will not need to ask, because you will be certain that God will reveal things in accordance with His will. The faith and peace of John 14:1 has become the real attitude of your heart, and there are no more questions to be asked. If anything is a mystery to you and is coming between you and God, never look for the explanation in your mind, but look for it in your spirit, your true inner nature— that is where the problem is. Once your inner spiritual nature is willing to submit to the life of Jesus, your understanding will be perfectly clear, and you will come to the place where there is no distance between the Father and you, His child, because the Lord has made you one.” CHAMBERS
Our questions .. our worries … our doubts … whatever troubles us in this life’s journey on earth is a result of disharmony with God.  It’s not that there is something wrong with us, but rather that there is something that is not completely “right”. Being “one” with the Father means being in complete agreement, harmony, united in purpose, thought and desire .. having the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:13-16) “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”  Rather than a here-and-now reality, the “fruit” of that truth may seem in your mind and experience, just out of reach.  And it is if you are trying to live it out through your own determination and effort. The spiritual transformation that leads us to being “one as Jesus is one” is accomplished through a spiritual process not a natural one. (John 17: 20-23) “I [Jesus] pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
We must pursue our faith.  Prepare our minds like an athlete prepares for a race.  They don’t just show up on race day.  They train, they strain, and they refrain.  They live a disciplined life in order to accomplish their purpose.  So we too, under the lordship of Jesus, the leadership of the Spirit and the instruction of the Word, must prepare ourselves.  The result will be that we are transformed to be like Jesus.  (Hebrews 12:1-3) “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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  CHARLEY

Friday, May 27, 2016

Bearing The Right Fruit - You Can't Pick Mangoes From An Apple Tree

My Utmost For His Highest
…tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high. —Luke 24:49
“The disciples had to tarry, staying in Jerusalem until the day of Pentecost, not only for their own preparation but because they had to wait until the Lord was actually glorified. […] The statement in John 7:39— “…for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified”— does not pertain to us. The Holy Spirit has been given; the Lord is glorified— our waiting is not dependent on the providence of God, but on our own spiritual fitness.[…] The attitude of receiving and welcoming the Holy Spirit into our lives is to be the continual attitude of a believer. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive reviving life from our ascended Lord. It is not the baptism of the Holy Spirit that changes people, but the power of the ascended Christ coming into their lives through the Holy Spirit.” CHAMBERS
If you have been born again.  Are you thinking, “What do you mean “if””? In John chapter 3, a teacher of the Law, Nicodemus came to Jesus to talk about eternal life.  Jesus cut the conversation short.  “Nicodemus, you must be born again.”  It is not good enough to know about Jesus.  To know what the Bible says.  You are nothing more than an outsider looking in.  Unless there is true conversion.  An act of faith that has transpired and the Holy Spirit has sealed you for heaven, you are not a Christian, merely religious. The Holy Spirit is the source of the spiritual power that is in us.  Without the Spirit there is no spiritual connection. We continue to walk this earth for God’s purpose and glory, not for ours alone.  We fulfill God’s purpose and bring Him glory by yielding our lives to the Spirit.  Abandoning ourselves to living for God.  So what characterizes your life?  You must be on your guard.  The flesh, your old nature, is always waiting for the opportunity to rise up and dominate you.  Don’t take your salvation for granted.  Don’t think that there is nothing for you to do but go along for the ride.  A neglected faith will always result in a carnal life.  Take an honest look to see what kind of fruit is being produced on your “branches”.
(Galatians 5:16,19-23,25)   “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh….(fruit of the Flesh) The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. …. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
A curious thing, when people read those verses, the tendency is to read the fruit of the flesh and focus on what they don’t do.  When they read the fruit of the Spirit they focus on what they do, do.  That is the flesh at work.  That is not the “honest look” I am talking about. And my point.  We have this treasure, our new nature, in jars of clay, our mortal bodies.  The fruit of the flesh comes from our old nature.  The fruit of the Spirit from our new nature.
(John 15:5-6) [Jesus] “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers …. ”  Bearing the right fruit in this new life is totally dependent on staying connected to the Vine.  CHARLEY

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Prayer 101 - Our Father is Not A Heavenly Waiter - He Is The Sovereign God

My Utmost For His Highest
Pray without ceasing… —1 Thessalonians 5:17
“Our thinking about prayer, whether right or wrong, is based on our own mental conception of it. The correct concept is to think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts. Our blood flows and our breathing continues “without ceasing”; we are not even conscious of it, but it never stops […] Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life of the saint. […]  Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer. He had the unlimited certainty of knowing that prayer is always answered. Do we have through the Spirit of God that inexpressible certainty that Jesus had about prayer, or do we think of the times when it seemed that God did not answer our prayer? Jesus said, “…everyone who asks receives…” (Matthew 7:8). Yet we say, “But…, but….” God answers prayer in the best way— not just sometimes, but every time. However, the evidence of the answer in the area we want it may not always immediately follow. Do we expect God to answer prayer?” CHAMBERS
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He did.  (Matthew 6:9-13) We call it the Lord’s prayer, but perhaps we should call it Prayer 101. Acknowledge God as sovereign, ask that He give us what we need, ask that He forgive our sins, ask that He give us the strength to resist temptation.  Pretty simple.  When Jesus was in the garden, (Luke 22: 42) He prayed,  “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  Jesus asked something of the Father, but it was in the context of the Father’s will. When we think of prayer, all too often it is more like ordering from a menu.  Have you noticed how many people order food?  Often they say “Can I have or I would like”  As if the server is going to say “No! I am giving you a hamburger and fries!”  The server doesn’t care what you order.  They don’t care if it’s good for you.  In fact they will ask if you “left room for desert”.  Not so with God.  His will is perfect.  Jesus told the disciples that (John 4:34) “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” His priority, as ours should be, is to do the will of the Father.  If you pray that God’s will be done, you pray in harmony with the very nature of God.  His will, will be done.  Our lives should be in alignment with His will.
(James 5:16) Why are the prayers of a righteous man powerful and effective?  Because they are in alignment with the will of the Father.  Is there something stirring in you that challenges that notion.  Something that says, but what I want is reasonable, why would God deny me? Why indeed.  (James 4:2-3) “You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”  Go back to Prayer 101.  If you were to condense that lesson it would be summed up in Proverbs 3:5-6.  Trust God.  Charley

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Thinking About Putting God On Mute And Going Your Own Way? - Big Mistake

My Utmost For His Highest
If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left. —Genesis 13:9
“… if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God make your choice for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the appropriate thing to consider, if you were not living the life of faith. But if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and allow God to make your choice for you. This is the discipline God uses to transform the natural into the spiritual through obedience to His voice.[…] The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. […] Many of us do not continue to grow spiritually because we prefer to choose on the basis of our rights, instead of relying on God to make the choice for us.” CHAMBERS
Nothing is more irritating to me than that voice on the GPS that says "Recalculating". I have chosen to do something other than follow the route that has been calculated.  I want to go my own way.  Fortunately there is a mute button that I can press so I don't have to listen to those reminders.  We often do the same thing with the Holy Spirit.
When God is leading our lives, the choices we make, with respect to living day-to-day, are not the same choices that the rest of the world would make or the same as we might make.  When choosing our own way, self-preservation is our focus.  I mean if we don’t look out for ourselves, then who is going to?  Sounds like a reasonable question, unless you are a Christian that is.  The Shorter catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?”.  The answer, “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  If we have an eternal perspective, our rights, our comfort, our financial security become miniscule in light of our chief end or purpose … to bring glory to God.  And how do we bring glory to God?  (Romans 12:1,2) Offering ourselves as living sacrifices .. laying our rights, our comfort, our financial security, our relationships with others at the foot of the cross.  That requires an eternal perspective on our existence.  Having a view of our existence that is more than the time we spend on this earth.  One day we will understand why God chose to do things this way … but perhaps when that time comes .. when we are finally transformed .. we won’t really care to know.  We tend to think of God and spiritual truth in the context of this world and it’s nature rather than thinking of this world in the context of God and His nature.  What circumstance are you in the middle of that seems about to overwhelm you?  (Philippians 4:6,7) says “be anxious for nothing”.  That does not leave much room, does it?  “with prayer, supplication, thanksgiving”  Keep your focus on God not yourself. Yield your rights to yourself to God. “and the peace of God will keep you”  It’s true.  But it is only as real as your doing it.  Wanting to do it amounts to nothing.  So what are you waiting for?  Trust God.  CHARLEY

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

It's Time To Stop Trying Harder And Start Faithing Harder

My Utmost For His Highest
When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. —Revelation 1:17
“You experience this joy in hopelessness, realizing that if you are ever to be raised up it must be by the hand of God.[…] Whenever His hand is laid upon you, it gives inexpressible peace and comfort, and the sense that “underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27), full of support, provision, comfort, and strength. And once His touch comes, nothing at all can throw you into fear again. In the midst of all His ascended glory, the Lord Jesus comes to speak to an insignificant disciple, saying, “Do not be afraid” (Revelation 1:17). His tenderness is inexpressibly sweet. Do I know Him like that?[…]  I delight in knowing that there is something in me which must fall prostrate before God when He reveals Himself to me, and also in knowing that if I am ever to be raised up it must be by the hand of God. God can do nothing for me until I recognize the limits of what is humanly possible, allowing Him to do the impossible.”  CHAMBERS
What brought you to the point where you knew that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life?  The point where you acknowledged Him as Lord, received the Holy Spirit as an act of faith. (Ephesians 2:8,9) Saved by grace and not by works.  You knew that there was nothing you could do, that Jesus was and is and ever will be the answer.  Do you remember?  It’s difficult to keep that fresh in your mind.  To rekindle the emotion of the moment.  The emotion that was a result of your act of faith, and not the reason for your profession.  If emotion and not faith is the seed of our profession, there will be no fruit.  For someone to say, I have always been a Christian stands against (Romans 10:9) in that we must confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts.  We may not remember the day, hour and minute, but we will remember the moment.  For someone to say “I don’t remember when I did that”, is to say “I did not do that, I did it another way.” There is a world of difference between being religious (go to church, say the right things, read the Bible, do the right things, have a form of godliness) and being a Christian.  The difference is Jesus.  (Matthew 7:21-23)  ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
We are saved by grace not works.  We are not saved because of our good works.  We do good works because we are saved.  Two people can do the same thing, for one, there is spiritual power in the act, for the other, there is not.  The world sees no difference.  And yet, there is.  On the one hand a person does because they have God’s favor because of Jesus, on the other the person does with the hope that they somehow will find God’s favor without Jesus. We must understand and accept the limits of our natural ability and embrace the limitlessness of our super-natural ability in Christ. Bottom line, you need to stop trying harder and start “faithing” harder. CHARLEY

Monday, May 23, 2016

It's A Sin To Worry, No Really It Is A Sin - You Are Missing The Mark

My Utmost For His Highest
…do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. —Matthew 6:25
“Jesus summed up commonsense carefulness in the life of a disciple as unbelief. If we have received the Spirit of God, He will squeeze right through our lives, as if to ask, “Now where do I come into this relationship, this vacation you have planned, or these new books you want to read?” And He always presses the point until we learn to make Him our first consideration. Whenever we put other things first, there is confusion. “…do not worry about your life….” Don’t take the pressure of your provision upon yourself. It is not only wrong to worry, it is unbelief; worrying means we do not believe that God can look after the practical details of our lives, and it is never anything but those details that worry us. Have you ever noticed what Jesus said would choke the Word He puts in us? Is it the devil? No— “the cares of this world” (Matthew 13:22).” The greatest word of Jesus to His disciples is abandon.”  CHAMBERS
Most of the people who are reading this are not worried about where their next meal will come from.  Spending time with people who have nothing, as we have, has given us a new perspective on our own lives.  We were born into a land of abundance, where even those who “have not” are rich compared to much of the rest of the world.  People in the United States spent more on their pets than the entire gross domestic product of many nations, much more.  So it is, you see, a matter of perspective.  And how do you gain the right perspective?  By looking through the prism of the Word with spiritual eyes. Paul wrote, (Ephesians 1:18-19) “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” In Matthew 25, both the “sheep” (Christians) and the “goats” (non-Christians) asked the same question, “Lord, when did we see you?”  The reason you worry about anything is because you are viewing the world's circumstances through natural eyes with a natural understanding. Since most of what you face is out of your control and since the flesh is never satisfied, responding with the natural with natural means and methods will always lead to doubt and worry.  But God is sovereign over all.  That being true, and it is, if your trust, your faith, your confidence is in Him, there is no reason to worry.
Something I found interesting while in Haiti.  When the Haitian people, who have nothing, get more than they need for the moment, they share the “excess” with others who are also in need.  There is something to be learned in that.  Most of us are concerned with “building bigger barns” (Luke 12:16-21) What is interesting in that parable is the problem was not that the man had abundance, the problem was what the man did with it.  In 2014 people in the U.S spent $21.4 (Billion dollars) for their pets.  That is 2 ½ times the gross domestic product  of Haiti just to feed pets.  Have you heard the term "fur-baby"?  Think about the implications of that kind of thinking.  When did we see you Lord?  I want to encourage you to consider your life.  God’s admonition to us spans the full spectrum of personal health and wealth. (Matthew 6:25,27) “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? … Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Whether you are Haitian or living in the U.S. or in some other land, we all need to rest in the truth that God is sovereign.  And in the light of that, get the proper perspective on this life on earth. CHARLEY
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace”  Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Craving Less For More Of What You Have And Craving More For More Of Who Has You

My Utmost For His Highest
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. —Matthew 6:33
“Even the most spiritually-minded of us argue the exact opposite, saying, “But I must live; I must make a certain amount of money; I must be clothed; I must be fed.” The great concern of our lives is not the kingdom of God but how we are going to take care of ourselves to live. Jesus reversed the order by telling us to get the right relationship with God first, maintaining it as the primary concern of our lives, and never to place our concern on taking care of the other things of life. “…do not worry about your life…” (Matthew 6:25). Our Lord pointed out that from His standpoint it is absolutely unreasonable for us to be anxious, worrying about how we will live. Jesus did not say that the person who takes no thought for anything in his life is blessed— no, that person is a fool. But Jesus did teach that His disciple must make his relationship with God the dominating focus of his life, and to be cautiously carefree about everything else in comparison to that. […] It is one of the most difficult, yet critical, disciplines of the Christian life to allow the Holy Spirit to bring us into absolute harmony with the teaching of Jesus in these verses.” CHAMBERS
What is worse than that is when we conclude that God will reward us with “all these things” if we will devote ourselves to Him.  Not realizing that (Matthew 6:24) “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”  That we are really devoted to “all these things” and merely want to use God to get them.  Sound harsh?  The truth often does.  The truth always confronts the lie.
The point is, put your full trust in God and not in the things of this world. (1 John 2:15-16) “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.”  We spend a disproportionate amount of time “scrambling” after “stuff” which in the end is nothing more than “fluff”.  We use the “all these things” to find comfort and confidence.  When, as His children, our comfort and confidence are to be in the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit and the Word.  The problem we have is that even if we acknowledge the truth, we don’t have the will to get there.  That my friend is where faith comes in.  And just like the man said to  Jesus (Mark 9:22-24) “…. if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!””  Let that be your cry to the Lord.  Lord I believe but I want to believe more.  I want to trust in You and not in myself.  I want to stop craving comfort in what I have and crave to be closer to the One who has me.  As with all things to do with our new life, it starts in the heart.  CHARLEY

Friday, May 20, 2016

Confession Is Not Revelation, It Is Agreement

My Utmost For His Highest
By your patience possess your souls. —Luke 21:19
“… many of us prefer to stay at the entrance to the Christian life, instead of going on to create and build our soul in accordance with the new life God has placed within us. We fail because we are ignorant of the way God has made us, and we blame things on the devil that are actually the result of our own undisciplined natures. […] There are certain things in life that we need not pray about— […] The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh.”  CHAMBERS
I have known people, and perhaps I am one myself, who are looking for reasons why they are not responsible for what happens in their lives.  We want to feel good about ourselves.  That we had no part in the problem we are facing.  Certainly it is because we want people to think well of us, but I think largely it is because we want to think well of ourselves. What does it mean to be a sinner?  What does it mean to fall short of the glory of God? (Romans 3:23)  I mean what does that look like in the living out, day to day?  How much do we play a part in that sin?  If God calls us to live in a different way than our sinful nature demands then there must be an alternative.  And there is.  It begins with us accepting the fact of our sin nature.  We are prone to wander.  Our sinful nature is not just about what we do and what we say, it is much deeper than that.  It permeates every nook and cranny of our being. To our innermost thoughts.  Many of us, perhaps most of us, over time are able to control the outside so we have the appearance of righteousness, even when on the inside, our thought life, is raging.  Jesus addressed this when He spoke of the hate and lust.  (Matthew 5:21-22,27-28) “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. […] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Don’t be surprised or dismayed when you struggle with your sin nature.  You cannot control it any more after you become a Christian than you could before.  But God can by the power of His Spirit and His Word.   What you can do is choose to that which you will submit.  Will you submit to your sin or to the Spirit.  That is where the courage and determination comes in.  Don’t let your feelings of guilt keep you from the Father. Sin craves the darkness.  The Spirit brings light. Sin brings separation.  The Spirit brings unity and restoration. Recognize the struggle.  Praise God that there is no longer condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), but we live in these “jars of clay” and in a fallen world.  There is a song that was written by Dale Evans, the wife of Roy Rogers, that I remember from when I was a young boy – way before I was Christian, “Have faith, hope and charity.  That’s the way to live successfully.  How do I know?  The Bible tells me so.  Don’t worry about tomorrow, just be real good today.  The Lord is right beside you.  He’ll lead you all the way.”  Funny what you remember.  My point. God cleans us up from the inside out.  Prayer, the Word, and fellowship are key to living the Christian life.  Make it a point to focus on spiritual things during the day or you will be quickly consumed by your old nature. That is a certainty.  Day to day victory over sin does not just happen. And when you do sin, and you will, don’t try to hide it – confess it (1 John 1:9).  Confession is not a revelation to God, it is agreement with God.  People may not know what you are thinking … what is in your heart, but God does.  He knew what you were like and still sent His Son to restore you. CHARLEY

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Our Struggle With Choosing Between The Flesh and The Spirit, Sin And Salvation

My Utmost For His Highest
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? —Romans 8:35
“God does not keep His child immune from trouble; He promises, “I will be with him in trouble…” (Psalm 91:15). It doesn’t matter how real or intense the adversities may be; nothing can ever separate him from his relationship to God. […] And he [Paul] said we are “super-victors” in the midst of them, not because of our own ingenuity, nor because of our courage, but because none of them affects our essential relationship with God in Jesus Christ. […] Tribulation is never a grand, highly welcomed event; but whatever it may be— whether exhausting, irritating, or simply causing some weakness— it is not able to “separate us from the love of Christ.” […] Can God’s love continue to hold fast, even when everyone and everything around us seems to be saying that His love is a lie, and that there is no such thing as justice? […] Can we not only believe in the love of God but also be “more than conquerors,” even while we are being starved? Either Jesus Christ is a deceiver, having deceived even Paul, or else some extraordinary thing happens to someone who holds on to the love of God when the odds are totally against him.”  CHAMBERS
A friend of mine recently asked me what I thought about the issue over the use of bathrooms in our country.  He was feeling oppressed, ashamed, uncertain about what to do.  First, the real issue is not about bathrooms.  Both genders using the same public facilities is common in a number of countries already.  The real issue is about accepting a lie as the truth. (Romans 1:18-32).  Should you accept the lie for truth, other things, like bathroom use, legalized relationships, promotion of the lie in schools rise up.  It is a spiritual problem that has manifested itself through the physical.  Why is that surprising? In the face of what is happening in the United States,  is a strong temptation to withdraw from a culture that has turned its back on God, but this is certainly not the first time in the history of man that this has happened, and until Jesus returns it will not be the last.
This is just one example of the adversities we will face in this life.  Cultural persecution is not the only difficulty that we must endure.  The struggle between the flesh and the spirit, sin and salvation, manifests itself in many ways.  We must accept the fact that we do not live in a Christian nation, at least not in the spiritual sense.  From the world’s perspective, Christian has come to be a synonym for Gentile.  Meaning we are not Muslim or Jewish.  It has an ethnic connotation.  But, the Saints are in nearly every nation.  Our responsibility is to let the light of Christ shine in the darkness.  One way that happens is by living in obedience to the Word of God, no matter what pressure we might face to conform to the lie. What are you willing to give up for Jesus?  What if you were told you could not keep your job because of your faith?  Would you abandon Jesus and the Truth?  What if you were shunned by people around you because you would not call a lie, truth.  Would you abandon Jesus to preserve some level of acceptance from the world?  What if your children were at risk in school?  Would you be willing to take them elsewhere or teach them at home? Your temptation to abandon the truth is so strong because your faith is so weak.  Because you are looking to yourself for answers forgetting that everything in Jesus is yes and amen.  (2 Corinthians 1:20-22) “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.   Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God,  who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”  You must stand Christian.  I will let the Word speak for itself. CHARLEY
(1 Peter 4:12-19)  “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” GOD

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

No Matter What Or Why The Problem, Our God Is Enough

My Utmost For His Highest

Look at the birds of the air….Consider the lilies of the field… —Matthew 6:26, 28

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin”— they simply are! Think of the sea, the air, the sun, the stars, and the moon— all of these simply are as well— yet what a ministry and service they render on our behalf! […] Jesus said there is only one way to develop and grow spiritually, and that is through focusing and concentrating on God. […] In other words, pay attention to the Source, and out of you “will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). […] Our heavenly Father knows our circumstances, and if we will stay focused on Him, instead of our circumstances, we will grow spiritually— just as “the lilies of the field.” […] The people who influence us the most are not those who detain us with their continual talk, but those who live their lives like the stars in the sky and “the lilies of the field”— simply and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mold and shape us.”  CHAMBERS

What is it that is going on in your life that you want relief from?  Have you considered what is the root cause of the problem?  Is it something that has happened to you that you had no control over?  Or is it something that you set in motion because you chose a certain course of action, you made a decision that was contrary to the will and nature of God?  This causes me to remember Job and his friends.  His friends were so certain that Job had sinned, when he had not.  You must examine your heart.  It might well be that what you are experiencing is, like Job, out of your control or influence.  But so often we do not want to accept the fact that our decisions and actions have created our circumstance.   In that case the solution we seek begins with us and not with God.  We must be willing to first acknowledge our sin and then repent.  That does not mean that the circumstances will dissipate, even though we may want that more than anything.  Repentance means that you choose to go another way.  To choose follow after God and not your own desires. 

In the case of Job, his health and wealth were restored, but some things were not.  The point is that we are all going to face trouble in this life.  Sometimes because of sinful choices and sometimes because we live in a sinful world.  Whichever the case might be, our response must be to look up.  To trust God.  Praying for relief is good, but praying for strength is better.  The Lord may  cause you to sit in the lion’s den or walk in the furnace.  The Bible does not say the furnace was not hot, in fact it was exceedingly hot.  What it does say is that the three men were sustained by their faith and a fourth man.  (Daniel 3:25) “He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”  But friend, like those men, even if He does not save you from the flames, you must remain faithful.  You must choose God and not sin.  This new life does not make a lot of sense from the world’s perspective but makes perfect sense from God’s. The bottom line .. if your trouble is because of you, repent and pray for restoration and strength.  If it is not because of you, pray for restoration and strength.  Whatever the cause, as difficult as your circumstance might be, God is enough. CHARLEY

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Essence OF the Christian Life - It's All About Jesus And All About Grace

My Utmost For His Highest
It came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. —Luke 24:51
“His Cross is the door by which every member of the human race can enter into the life of God; by His resurrection He has the right to give eternal life to anyone, and by His ascension our Lord entered heaven, keeping the door open for humanity.[…] There is now freedom of access for anyone straight to the very throne of God because of the ascension of the Son of Man. As the Son of Man, Jesus Christ deliberately limited His omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. But now they are His in absolute, full power. As the Son of Man, Jesus Christ now has all the power at the throne of God. From His ascension forward He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.” CHAMBERS
Do you think about Jesus much? Strange question?  Do you think about your life in Christ when you start your day, each day?  Even reading these devotions .. or writing them for that matter … is Jesus set in His proper place in your mind and heart each day?  Do you consider the Cross … “At the Cross at the Cross where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away.  It was there by faith, I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day.” We must if we are to fulfill our purpose in Him.  We must if we are to walk in faithful obedience.  We must if we are to bring glory to God.  We must if we are to rise above the power of our flesh and live by the Spirit.  Does who you are in Christ govern who you are toward others?  Is He Lord?  The Trinity is a difficult thing to understand.  But it is also an easy thing to ignore.  God the Father, sent God the Son and God the Holy Spirit for us.  The Son to save us, the Spirit to enable us.  To strengthen us.  We have not been called to continue to live the way we always have.  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:2 “ For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”  Our new life should dominate us.  It should define us.  It should not be a mere a parenthetical statement about us.  It all starts and ends with Jesus.  The leader of the Campus Crusade for Christ Military Ministry once said “It’s (life is) all about Jesus and all about Grace.” The essence Christian life simplified.  CHARLEY

Monday, May 16, 2016

You Are A New Noun. Are You Living Each Day With An Awareness Of That Newness?

My Utmost For His Highest
…you may be partakers of the divine nature… —2 Peter 1:4
“We are made “partakers of the divine nature,” receiving and sharing God’s own nature through His promises. Then we have to work that divine nature into our human nature by developing godly habits. […] Does it really matter that our circumstances are difficult? Why shouldn’t they be! If we give way to self-pity and indulge in the luxury of misery, we remove God’s riches from our lives and hinder others from entering into His provision. No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self-interests. It causes us to open our mouths only to complain, and we simply become spiritual sponges— always absorbing, never giving, and never being satisfied. […] If the majesty, grace, and power of God are not being exhibited in us, God holds us responsible. “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you…may have an abundance…” (2 Corinthians 9:8)— then learn to lavish the grace of God on others, generously giving of yourself. Be marked and identified with God’s nature, and His blessing will flow through you all the time.” CHAMBERS
Living each day with the awareness that you possess a divine nature is something that most Christians don’t do.  Someone once said that Christian is not an adjective.  If you remember from English class, adjectives are words that modify or describe nouns,  like the “black” cat.  But the word, Christian, is a noun not an adjective.  It is who we are.  A Christian is a sinner who has been given a divine nature by virtue of being born again by grace through faith.  As Christians we can be described by our gender, our natural ethnicity, skin color,  citizenship, maybe even doctrine.  But at the core, we are Christians who possess the same Spirit, same Hope, and same future.  Where trouble comes is when we reverse the words and we consider ourselves to be one of the adjectives and not the noun.  I am black.  I am white.  I am Mexican.  I am American.  I am rich.  I am poor.  But the truth is, I am a sinner saved by grace.  (Galatians 3:26-29)  “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Did you catch that?  You are Abraham’s seed.  That means that, spiritually, you have a new ethnicity.  You are a “new noun”.
Each day, you must walk in that newness (Romans 6:4) “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”  Who you are in Christ should shape your thinking and doing.  Man, in vain, legislates moral conduct, but as you know what man defines as moral changes with time.  What God has declared as moral or right never changes. It never changes.  Man attempts to change others from the outside in.  But true change can only occur from the inside out.  God does that through Christ.  Several years ago, Pastor Marc, a Haitian Christian, and I responded to a vision that he had about planting a church in a certain mountain village near Jacmel.  The church was next to a house owned by a Voodoo priestess named, Meyèze. We held crusades virtually in her front yard.  We built a school and a church next door.  Marc shared the Gospel with her, but she would not yield her heart to the Lord.  But, yesterday she professed her faith in Jesus to the glory of God.  And today she is a new noun, the seed of Abraham, a daughter of the most high God.  You might marvel at the great distance she traveled from a devotion to Voodoo to a devotion to the Lord.  But the truth is that it is the same distance that you and I have traveled.  We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23).  God is only one step of faith away for all of us.  Pray for Meyèze.  And don’t forget who you are and whose you are.  Walk in the newness of life.  CHARLEY

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Faith Is Not Like A Light Switch, You Can't Just Switch It On

My Utmost For His Highest
…that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. —2 Corinthians 4:10
“It is not just a question of being saved from hell, but of being saved so that “the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” And it is adversity that makes us exhibit His life in our mortal flesh. Is my life exhibiting the essence of the sweetness of the Son of God, or just the basic irritation of “myself” that I would have apart from Him? The only thing that will enable me to enjoy adversity is the acute sense of eagerness of allowing the life of the Son of God to evidence itself in me. No matter how difficult something may be, I must say, “Lord, I am delighted to obey You in this.” Instantly, the Son of God will move to the forefront of my life, and will manifest in my body that which glorifies Him.[…]  You must keep yourself in the proper condition to allow the life of the Son of God to be manifested in you, and you cannot keep yourself fit if you give way to self-pity. Our circumstances are the means God uses to exhibit just how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure His Son is. […] It is one thing to choose adversity, and quite another to enter into adversity through the orchestrating of our circumstances by God’s sovereignty. And if God puts you into adversity, He is adequately sufficient to “supply all your need” (Philippians 4:19).”  CHAMBERS
(James 1:2-4) “My brethren, 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.”  How you respond to trials in your life, and there have been and will be trials, depends upon where you have placed your trust.  When you are facing trouble, what is your first response?  Is it Lord get me out of this or is it Lord give me the strength to persevere?  Certainly if your life or another’s is in jeopardy you must take action, to remediate the situation, but you know that is not what I am referring to.  It’s the other circumstances of life .. those life events that you face daily.  A verse that I often quote is in 2 Corinthians chapter 1, the God of all comfort who comforts us in our afflictions. Said another way, to quote Rick Warren, “God never wastes a hurt.”  With trials comes opportunity.  The world is not interested in a faith that is dependent upon good times to be of value.  The world is looking for a faith that has value in the difficult times.  A faith that transcends the here and now.  A faith that gives strength and hope in the midst of calamity. It is during those times, in  a Christian’s life that the life of Jesus is most clearly manifested.  When His Light shines brightest.  Those times when you are completely given over to the sovereignty of God.  Totally dependent upon Him and not yourself (Proverbs 3:5,6).
That will not happen by itself.  You cannot expect to just “flip the faith switch on” like walking into a dark room and turning on the light.  Continuing with that analogy,  what you will discover is that like the dark room, the light does not come on because you didn’t pay the electric bill and there is no power.  In the same way, if you are not developing your relationship with God through the practice of the disciplines of the faith, when you flip the switch, you will find that you will not be able to persevere.  Why?  Because you have been trusting yourself and not God.  Or perhaps this does not apply to you.  There is power behind the switch. Then to that I say Praise the Lord! Let your light shine and encourage others to do the same.  CHARLEY

Friday, May 13, 2016

Our New Life In Christ Is Too Good To Miss - So Don't

My Utmost For His Highest
…strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. —Acts 24:16
“God’s commands to us are actually given to the life of His Son in us. Consequently, to our human nature in which God’s Son has been formed (see Galatians 4:19), His commands are difficult. […] Conscience is that ability within me that attaches itself to the highest standard I know, and then continually reminds me of what that standard demands that I do. […] If I am in the habit of continually holding God’s standard in front of me, my conscience will always direct me to God’s perfect law and indicate what I should do. The question is, will I obey? […] God always instructs us down to the last detail. Is my ear sensitive enough to hear even the softest whisper of the Spirit, so that I know what I should do? “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…” (Ephesians 4:30). He does not speak with a voice like thunder— His voice is so gentle that it is easy for us to ignore. And the only thing that keeps our conscience sensitive to Him is the habit of being open to God on the inside.”  CHAMBERS
In the study, Experiencing God, Dr. Blackaby makes the point that our problem is not that we don’t hear God, but that we choose not to obey God.  God does not speak to our flesh and ask that we do something that we cannot possibly do.  It is a fact that obedience without the Spirit is impossible. But disobedience in spite of the Spirit is very possible.  Can I get an “Amen”?  If you lack spiritual understanding, you will  go through life trying to do the “right” thing, i.e. obey God, in the power of your flesh.  The fact is, it’s just as impossible as it was before you were born again.  On the one hand we acknowledge our new birth and our need for the power of the Spirit to live it, and on the other, we deny the Spirit and attempt to live our new life on our own.  It makes no sense, but that does not stop us from trying … and failing.  God did not create us to be independent from Him, but to be one with Him. Jesus prayed (John 17:20-23) “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Does that sound like God wants us to be Lone Ranger Christians?   The word “father” means source.  God is the Source.  Frederick Taylor is known as the father of Scientific Management.  He fathered, he is the originator and source of that concept. God, the Father, is the creator and sustainer.  He knew that we could not live our new life on our own, so He sealed us with the Holy Spirit making it possible to live in obedience to His will.  Our part is to exercise faith and be willing to obey.  To submit to the leading of the Spirit, understanding that living this new life of ours is “not by power, nor by strength, but by the Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6) Unfortunately, all too often, we forget that and fall into the trap of trying to be, on our own, what we cannot be on our own, pleasing to the Father.  We fail and rather than repent and seek Him out, we pretend and hope that no one will find us out.  Sounds crazy when you read it, doesn’t it.  But this pattern is all too common.  My point this morning is to encourage you to consider your ways.  Make a course correction if it is called for.  Encourage others to do the same. Our new life in Christ is too good to miss.  CHARLEY