Thursday, June 30, 2016

You Won't Worry About What's Right If You Are Walking In The Light

My Utmost For His Highest
 
Agree with your adversary quickly… —Matthew 5:25
 
“In this verse, Jesus Christ laid down a very important principle by saying, “Do what you know you must do— now. Do it quickly. If you don’t, an inevitable process will begin to work ‘till you have paid the last penny’ (Matthew 5:26) in pain, agony, and distress.” God’s laws are unchangeable and there is no escape from them. The teachings of Jesus always penetrate right to the heart of our being. […] In moral and spiritual matters, you must act immediately. […] The fact that we insist on proving that we are right is almost always a clear indication that we have some point of disobedience. […] “Agree with your adversary quickly….” Have you suddenly reached a certain place in your relationship with someone, only to find that you have anger in your heart? Confess it quickly— make it right before God. Be reconciled to that person— do it now!”  CHAMBERS
 
Who is your adversary? I know that you can think of one or two people that rub you the wrong way.  Why do they rub you at all?  What does it have to do with, money, relationships, competing agendas?  Whatever the source of the contention is, lay it down.  Give it up. “fouw-ged-abowd-et” Peter asked the Lord, “how many times do I have to forgive, seven times?” Jesus replied, “No, seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)  In other words, as often as he asks for forgiveness.  And if he does not ask, forgive him for your sake.  That does not mean that you enable his offense in the future, but don’t allow anger and resentment to flower into bitterness and anger.  Trust me, you will be the one with the ulcer or the one losing sleep, not the one who has given offense. You need to distance yourself either physically or emotionally, certainly spiritually from the unrepentant person.  (Matthew 18:15-17) says that if someone will not repent we are to treat them as if they are not saved.  And if the person you are struggling with is not saved, don’t expect them to behave like they are. 
 
(2 Corinthians 6:14) “Do not be yoked together (tied to, partnered with) with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”  If you find yourself involved with someone who is not a Believer, run.  When it comes to matters of the heart, we often dismiss the Word in favor of emotion.  It never ends well.  There is so much that could be said about this, but this is a devotion, not a book.  Let me leave you with this.  (Joshua 1:8-9) “Keep this Book of the Law (the Bible) 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. (it’s not referring to money and fame)  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.” If you are walking in the light, you don’t have to worry about what’s right.  (Philippians 4:8) Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  CHARLEY

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

When Doing Something That Is Right Is Wrong

My Utmost For His Highest
 
If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. —Matthew 5:30
 
“Jesus did not say that everyone must cut off his right hand, but that “if your right hand causes you to sin” in your walk with Him, then it is better to “cut it off.” There are many things that are perfectly legitimate, but if you are going to concentrate on God you cannot do them. Your right hand is one of the best things you have, but Jesus says that if it hinders you in following His precepts, then “cut it off.” […] There are a hundred and one things that you dare not do— things that would be sin for you, and would be recognized as sin by those who really know you. But the unspiritual people around you will say, “What’s so wrong with doing that? How absurd you are!””  CHAMBERS
 
There are two principles at work here.  The first principle is that that you must be willing to abandon those things that lead to you to sin, to live in disobedience.  To not live in the way that you formerly did before your rebirth.  Those things must be cut off from your life.  An alcoholic does not leave a bottle of whiskey sitting on the counter.  They do not hang out with their drinking buddies. (1 Corinthians 8:17-24)  “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
 
The second principle is that you are to refrain from those things that are not sinful that lead others to sin.  That cause them to stumble. If someone believes that something is wrong, that is not actually wrong, and then in believing that they are sinning, does it anyway, what happens in the heart is sin.  They intentionally do something that they believe is disobedient toward God.  It is not so much what they did, but why they did it.  So you must cut off those things in your life that might cause others to stumble.  (Romans 14:13-17) “… make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”
 
(1 Corinthians 8:9-13)  “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”  And if you are thinking, I don’t see why I should give something up just because someone else thinks it’s wrong, read Matthew 22:37-39 and John 15:13 again.   You will find your answer there.  CHARLEY

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Called To Preach - Your Life Is A Sermon, Does It Point People To The World Or To God

My Utmost For His Highest
 
I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. —Philippians 3:12
 
“Never choose to be a worker for God, but once God has placed His call on you, woe be to you if you “turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (Deuteronomy 5:32). We are not here to work for God because we have chosen to do so, but because God has “laid hold of” us. And once He has done so, we never have this thought, “Well, I’m really not suited for this.” What you are to preach is also determined by God, not by your own natural leanings or desires. Keep your soul steadfastly related to God, and remember that you are called not simply to convey your testimony but also to preach the gospel. Every Christian must testify to the truth of God, but when it comes to the call to preach, there must be the agonizing grip of God’s hand on you— your life is in the grip of God for that very purpose. How many of us are held like that?[…] “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do…I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).”  CHAMBERS
 
When God calls you for a special purpose, there is no thought about the reality of the calling, but there may be fear about your ability to fulfill that calling.  What God calls you to is spiritual and requires the Spirit to accomplish it. That truth stretches beyond the call to preach or the call to missions, but also the call to obedience as a Believer.  God always calls us to go beyond ourselves.  To exercise faith and trust in Him.  You don’t preach because you think it might be “fun” or because you have a particular thought or belief that you want to tell people about.  You preach because God has spoken and you must tell people what He has said.  It is a burden and a joy. A burden because people who want to have their ears tickled will not like what you will tell them.  A joy because there is no greater experience than to be compelled by the Spirit of God.  Martie would often tell me that she could tell when the Spirit had “taken over”, when I had yielded to the Spirit, in one of my sermons.  Whether you preach or teach, you are responsible to God for what you say in His name.  You cannot lead His sheep astray with idle words and teachings that are not from His heart but from your own imaginings and preferences.
 
And for those who are reading this thinking, “This does not apply to me.”  I am not a preacher or a teacher.  Perhaps not by specific calling, but by general calling as a Christian.  There is a principle here that you should heed.  Everything has spiritual context.  Everything you do and say should be under the authority of the Spirit.  Your new life in Christ should be your only life.  You should not be living for God on the one hand and living for yourself on the other.  We are all teachers and purveyors of God’s truth.   What are you teaching your children about the Christian life through your life? What are you Spiritual truth preaching to those around you, who hear you say that you are a Christian and are watching you live your life? Think about it … and perhaps you need to change some of the “words” in the sermon your life is preaching.  CHARLEY

Monday, June 27, 2016

What Are You Worried About? Why Are You Worried About it?

My Utmost For His Highest
 
"…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. […] Our personal property and possessions are to be a matter of indifference to us, and our hold on these things should be very loose. If this is not the case, we will have panic, heartache, and distress. Having the proper outlook is evidence of the deeply rooted belief in the overshadowing of God’s personal deliverance. […]  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?” […] 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).” CHAMBERS
 
What troubles your life the most, the thought of losing your life or the thought of losing your lifestyle?  I would say that most people don’t worry about their physical death until they are faced with some trauma that threatens their physical life.  Worries about one’s lifestyle are most likely limited to people who live in developed countries.  In undeveloped countries, the people have nothing and no means to ever have something.  Their concerns are more about how they will eat and where they will find water to drink. There is a song by Janis Joplin that describes the attitude of many Christians, “ Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?  My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.  Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends, So Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?  Oh Lord, won't you buy me a color TV ?  Dialing For Dollars is trying to find me.  I wait for delivery each day until three,  So oh Lord, won't you buy me a color TV ?”  Are you thinking, “That’s not me!”  Good.  The point is, examine about what is most important for you to maintain?  The possessions and lifestyle that you have or your relationship with the Lord?  Do you see God has the giver of whatever you want or the giver of what you need.
 
To have this life in proper perspective requires that you have spiritual perspective. To have spiritual perspective requires that you practice spiritual disciplines.  That you seek God first for His sake and not for your sake.  Do not think about what you want and then seek God, seek God with the confidence that He will give you what you need.  (Matthew 22:37-38) “Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.” If you do that, there is no room for the love of things of the world.  (1 John 2:15) “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.”  But out of the love for the Father will spring the love for what He loves.   Let me give you a hint,  is not a new car or a color TV.  CHARLEY

Saturday, June 25, 2016

How To Minister To Those Suffering From The Desperation Of A Wounded Heart

My Utmost For His Highest
 
…what shall I say? "Father, save Me from this hour"? But for this purpose I came to this hour. "Father, glorify Your name." —John 12:27-28
 
“As a saint of God, my attitude toward sorrow and difficulty should not be to ask that they be prevented, but to ask that God protect me so that I may remain what He created me to be, in spite of all my fires of sorrow. Our Lord received Himself, accepting His position and realizing His purpose, in the midst of the fire of sorrow. He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour. We say that there ought to be no sorrow, but there is sorrow, and we have to accept and receive ourselves in its fires. If we try to evade sorrow, refusing to deal with it, we are foolish. Sorrow is one of the biggest facts in life, and there is no use in saying it should not be. Sin, sorrow, and suffering are, and it is not for us to say that God has made a mistake in allowing them.[…] If you will receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people.” CHAMBERS
 
To understand God’s purpose for allowing sorrows into our lives, we must look at the godly result that comes from faith and perseverance.  Two verse references come to mind.  (2 Corinthians 4:7-10) “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” There are many trials that will come our way in this life.  There is no brighter light than the one that shines in the life of a Christian persevering through some great difficulty.  Not because an exercise of their personal will, but because of the exercise of their faith and the presence of the Spirit of God in them.
 
(2 Corinthians 1:3-5) “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”  What God does is uses us to minister to others.  We are to be living testimonies of the Gospel and new life in Christ.  A number of people have encouraged me to write a book over the years.  What interested them was not so much me, personally, but hearing or reading about how God intervened in the work He has set our hands to.  In other words, the super-natural results of our exercising faith and obedience. The health and wealth gospel appeals to the lust within people.  The true Gospel appeals to the desperation of the wounded heart.  The world observing our lives should not bring the promise of material wealth and accumulation of possessions.  Instead they should see people just like them, living in victory over the maladies that life on this earth is sure to bring.
 
A word about sin.  There are consequences to sin.  Those consequences can bring great sorrow. But even if you must face the consequences of your sins, you can find forgiveness and restoration in Jesus.  So my encouragement to you is this.  Embrace the consequences with the confidence that God really is the God of all comfort.  You are hard pressed because of your own doing, but God has not abandoned you.  Turn to Him.  Trust in Him.  And let your light shine even in the midst of that darkness to His glory.  CHARLEY

Friday, June 24, 2016

Struggling With Sin - And You Call Yourself A Christian - Welcome To My World

My Utmost For His Highest
 
This is your hour, and the power of darkness. —Luke 22:53
 
“Not being reconciled to the fact of sin— not recognizing it and refusing to deal with it— produces all the disasters in life. […] If you refuse to agree with the fact that there is wickedness and selfishness, something downright hateful and wrong, in human beings, when it attacks your life, instead of reconciling yourself to it, you will compromise with it and say that it is of no use to battle against it. […] In your human relationships and friendships, have you reconciled yourself to the fact of sin? If not, just around the next corner you will find yourself trapped and you will compromise with it. But if you will reconcile yourself to the fact of sin, you will realize the danger immediately and say, “Yes, I see what this sin would mean.” […] The pure man or woman is the one who is shielded from harm, not the innocent person.”  CHAMBERS
 
Are you tired of the struggle with your old nature?  Your sin nature?  I know I am.  Sin can be so alluring, mind numbing, promising of all of the things that only the Spirit can provide.  But sin is toxic, like a cancer, deadly.  In Romans 7, Paul described his angst, his struggle with his sin nature.  (Romans 7:14-15,18-19,21-24) “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. […]For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. […] So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”  Does that sound like your life?  That is a description of someone who is trying to not sin on their own. We could not and that is why we needed a Savior.  Romans 8:1 – there is not condemnation in Christ Jesus.  (Jesus the Messiah)
 
We are not only saved from the eternal consequence of sin, but we are also saved from enslavement to sin.  (Romans 8:12-13) “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”  But we must live this new life with a dependence upon the Spirit of God.  We need spiritual strength to live this spiritual life, to resist sin.  That strength comes from the Spirit of God who is in each Believer. Do not resolve yourself to a life of sinning.  Don’t believe that you have no choice.  And don’t believe the lie that somehow you deserve that life.  At the root of a sin dominated life is a heart that is not fully submitted to God.  Being fully submitted does not mean that you will not sin, what that means is that you will not live your life resolved to the power of sin.  You have a choice. But it is a choice that must be made not just once, but with every thought and every action.  And when you do sin, and you will, you must confess it and God will restore you.  CHARLEY

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Big Or Small, Sin Is Never OK - Confess And Repent

My Utmost For His Highest
 
He is…a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. —Isaiah 53:3
 
“We are not “acquainted with grief” in the same way our Lord was acquainted with it. We endure it and live through it, but we do not become intimate with it. […] We look at life through the eyes of reason and say that if a person will control his instincts, and educate himself, he can produce a life that will slowly evolve into the life of God. But as we continue on through life, we find the presence of something which we have not yet taken into account, namely, sin— and it upsets all of our thinking and our plans. […]  We have to recognize that sin is a fact of life, not just a shortcoming. Sin is blatant mutiny against God, and either sin or God must die in my life. The New Testament brings us right down to this one issue— if sin rules in me, God’s life in me will be killed; if God rules in me, sin in me will be killed. There is nothing more fundamental than that. The culmination of sin was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and what was true in the history of God on earth will also be true in your history and in mine— that is, sin will kill the life of God in us.”  CHAMBERS
 
Think about what events have brought you great pain in your life.  Personal loss, relational problems, physical injury, sickness, poor life choices.  All of these things are the product of living in a fallen world.  Some things happen to you, while others happened because of you.  Where can we find relief from the burden that they bring?  Where can we find peace.  Have you ever thought about the attraction that underlies your appreciation of beauty of the mountains or the sea?  There is a peace that enters in as you gaze upon them. It’s as if you are looking upon something that is unblemished, untouched, pure. And yet, if you were adrift in the midst of the sea or alone in the middle of the wilderness, I suspect  that your perspective might be different.  God created us and part of that creation was the need to be connected to God.  Being created in His image … actually the words are “in our image”.  (Genesis 1:26) “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness… “  In their image there is unity. (John 17:20:21)  “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.”  But there can be no unity where there is sin.
 
Wouldn’t it be great if after we are saved, we no longer had the desire to sin?  Sin were no longer crouching on our door-step, waiting for a sign of weakness so it might rush in and rule over us.  Wouldn’t it be great if we only had to make one decision to be obedient and didn’t have to make that choice every day, many times during the day? And yet, that is not the case, is it?  No.  We are faced with choices every day.  The face of the sin changes over time.  Specifically, with maturity, the sins become more internal, less apparent, than external, obvious sins.  Jesus spoke to that.(Matthew 5:27-28) “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.” Sin is sin inside or outside, thought or acted upon.  But sin still has the same result. … “sin will kill the life of God in us.”  And that is no way to live, especially when you have the power within you to live another way.  Charley

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Recognizing Sin As Sin Is Not Judgement

My Utmost For His Highest
 
With what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. —Matthew 7:2
 
“Romans 2:1 applies it in even a more definite way by saying that the one who criticizes another is guilty of the very same thing. God looks not only at the act itself, but also at the possibility of committing it, which He sees by looking at our hearts. […] The reason we see hypocrisy, deceit, and a lack of genuineness in others is that they are all in our own hearts. The greatest characteristic of a saint is humility, as evidenced by being able to say honestly and humbly, “Yes, all those, as well as other evils, would have been exhibited in me if it were not for the grace of God. Therefore, I have no right to judge.” […] Who of us would dare to stand before God and say, “My God, judge me as I have judged others”? We have judged others as sinners— if God should judge us in the same way, we would be condemned to hell. Yet God judges us on the basis of the miraculous atonement by the Cross of Christ.” CHAMBERS
 
Have you ever asked, “Who am I to judge?”  Perhaps someone is doing or has done something that is sinful and the opportunity has risen where you might comment on what was done.  Don’t confuse recognizing sin and condemning the sinner.  You know sin when you see it.  To call it sin is not judgement, it’s discernment.  Condemning the sinner is judgement.  Condoning sin is wrong.  Saying sin is OK or is none of your business.  (Galatians 5:19-21) “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.”  To acknowledge that these things are contrary to the nature of God and therefore they are sinful, is not the same thing as you condemning someone as not being worthy of salvation because they have done them.  Do you recall that Paul participated in the killing and imprisonment of Christians before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus? (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
 
When Jesus died on the cross, He died for all sin.  (Romans 8:1) “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”  When you violate the laws of the land, you go before a judge, and if found guilty, receive punishment for your wrong-doing.  On the other hand, judgement of sinners means that they are to be cast into the lake of fire, eternally separated from God.  You do not have the authority to do that only God does, don’t forget that you, yourself, have been saved from it.  No one is beyond salvation, yet not all will be saved.  We don’t decide who will be and who won’t be saved.  But, at the same time, we can and must recognize sin and separate ourselves from it.  Your job is not to judge . .your job is to point people to Jesus by letting your light shine.  You don’t have to be silent about sin .. no matter how much those who sin might want you to be.  Just don’t judge others in the process.  What is happening in our country today is that our culture has inextricably connected sin to the sinner.  So recognition of sin is considered by our culture to be the same as judgement of the sinner.  In their eyes, calling something sin is the same as condemning the sinner to hell.  The thing is, apart from Jesus, they already are.   CHARLEY

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fulfilling Your Purpose As A Minister Of Reconciliation

My Utmost For His Highest
 
You are…a royal priesthood… —1 Peter 2:9
 
“Until we get into this right and proper relationship with God, it is simply a case of our “hanging on by the skin of our teeth,” although we say, “What a wonderful victory I have!” Yet there is nothing at all in that which indicates the miracle of redemption. Launch out in reckless, unrestrained belief that the redemption is complete. Then don’t worry anymore about yourself, but begin to do as Jesus Christ has said, in essence, “Pray for the friend who comes to you at midnight, pray for the saints of God, and pray for all men.” Pray with the realization that you are perfect only in Christ Jesus, not on the basis of this argument: “Oh, Lord, I have done my best; please hear me now.”  How long is it going to take God to free us from the unhealthy habit of thinking only about ourselves? […] There is only one place where we are right with God, and that is in Christ Jesus. Once we are there, we have to pour out our lives for all we are worth in this ministry of the inner life.”  CHAMBERS
 
I often quote 1 John 1:9 when referring to the Christian’s need to live right before God and not to harbor sin.  Harboring sin neutralizes your spiritual health.  It interrupts your effectiveness in accomplishing your heavenly purpose.  When John wrote that God is “faithful and just to forgive us”  the reason is not that I admitted my sin to the Father, but that the Son had paid the price for that sin.  Some people balk at the idea that they are not perfect in Christ all of the time.  A casual reading of the New Testament will show you that there was much concern about the Saints turning to their old nature and walking after the flesh and not the Spirit.  When the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he would first offer a sacrifice for his own sins.  As the story goes, the other priests would tie a rope around his waist so in the event that God struck Him dead, he could be pulled out, since only the high priest could enter.  Now why would they need to do that if there was no worry about the high priest being right before God?
 
As a Christian, you have been given a priestly work.  (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” Your purpose is one of intercession and reconciliation.  You were not saved for yourself alone.  The life you live is not so that you might be served but so you might serve others and show them Jesus through your life. But you must do it with a clean heart.  Those who have ears, let them hear.  Those who have eyes, let them see.  Those who have understanding, let them live by faith and serve in obedience to their calling.  CHARLEY

Monday, June 20, 2016

You Can't Approach God With Muddy Shoes On

My Utmost For His Highest
 
The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. —Job 42:10
 
I cannot make myself right with God; I cannot make my life perfect. I can only be right with God if I accept the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ as an absolute gift. Am I humble enough to accept it? I have to surrender all my rights and demands, and cease from every self-effort. I must leave myself completely alone in His hands, and then I can begin to pour my life out in the priestly work of intercession. […] As a saved soul, the real business of your life is intercessory prayer. Whatever circumstances God may place you in, always pray immediately that His atonement may be recognized and as fully understood in the lives of others as it has been in yours. Pray for your friends now, and pray for those with whom you come in contact now.”  CHAMBERS
 
We must always be mindful of who we are in Jesus and remember who we were without Jesus.  What I am about to write may give you pause, but, then, I want it to.  Do you continue to sin? Let me help you out, the answer is “yes”.  Does your sinning affect your salvation? The answer is no.  Then does it matter if you sin? The answer is “yes”.  Isn’t this an easy quiz?  Most often when you read a “how to” book or devotion, it speaks to the point of what you should do, the actions you should take to achieve the particular goal.  But rarely does it speak to the heart condition that is necessary to accomplish those steps.  That is if those actions are spiritually dependent.  There is nothing that we do for God or at the direction of God that is not spiritual in its nature.  When you witness.  When you pray.  When you relate to others. It must be in the context of our spiritual nature, and not our worldly wisdom or concern.
 
There are some who think that once they are saved, the sins that they commit have nothing to do with their accomplishing any spiritual work that they might engage in. In other words, my sins and those sins’ presence in my heart have no effect on my spiritual effectiveness.  Sin quenches the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:19)  Which is to say, if you have submitted to the flesh, you cannot submit to the Spirit at the same time.  And, if you are not submitted to the Spirit, then you are spiritually impotent.  And, if you are spiritually impotent, then anything that you might try to do that requires the Spirit, will be of no effect. What kind of things are affected?  Prayer for one.  (James 5:16) “The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective.”  We should not enter the throne room of grace with muddy shoes.  God can have no part of sin.  (Exodus 3:4-5) “And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.””  Why do you think that it is “OK” to approach God in prayer with unconfessed sin on your heart.  (Psalm 24: 3-4) “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart.”   Be careful that you don’t discard the significance of needing to be clean before God.  (1 John 1:6-9) “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” CHARLEY
 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Don't Be A Sunshine Christian

My Utmost For His Highest
 
…Peter…walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid… —Matthew 14:29-30
 
“The wind really was boisterous and the waves really were high, but Peter didn’t see them at first. He didn’t consider them at all; he simply recognized his Lord, stepped out in recognition of Him, and “walked on the water.” Then he began to take those things around him into account, and instantly, down he went. […] We step right out with recognition of God in some things, then self-consideration enters our lives and down we go. […] Let your actual circumstances be what they may, but keep recognizing Jesus, maintaining complete reliance upon Him. If you debate for even one second when God has spoken, it is all over for you. […] It is only through abandonment of yourself and your circumstances that you will recognize Him.”  CHAMBERS
 
During the Revolutionary War, Thomas Paine wrote a number articles or pamphlets to encourage and inspire the people.  In one such pamphlet he wrote about “sunshine soldiers”. He wrote, “These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”  There are many such Christians, who because of the lack of their resolve, shrink in the face of a trial.  Abandon the cause if you will, because they face difficult times and fear sets in.  Peter started well.  He heard the voice of the Lord and by faith stepped out of the boat.  It was Jesus, the One who commands nature, that enabled Peter to defy the laws of nature.  It is Jesus that enables the Christian to defy the natural and stand in the midst of calamity, unwavering, overcoming, victorious.  That is not to say that like many a soldier who survives the war you won’t carry battle scars for the rest of your life.  But then, so does Jesus!
 
The point is that we must focus on our Lord and not our circumstances. Our circumstances are real, just like the waves tossing around Peter, but they are irrelevant in light of Jesus, who commands the waves.  So Peter doubted .. lost his focus .. started trusting himself and not the Lord in the midst of a situation that was impossible. Notice, Peter did not decide to climb out of the boat on his own and then cry for help when he got in trouble.  We do that all too often. It started with faith in Jesus and ended with faith in Jesus.  What is your situation and who are you trusting in?  CHARLEY
 
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
 
“Oh soul are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness to see
There's a light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free
 
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”

Friday, June 17, 2016

What I See In Your Eye Is Merely A Reflection Of My Heart

My Utmost For His Highest
 
Judge not, that you be not judged. —Matthew 7:1
 
“Jesus’ instructions with regard to judging others is very simply put; He says, “Don’t.” The average Christian is the most piercingly critical individual known. Criticism is one of the ordinary activities of people, but in the spiritual realm nothing is accomplished by it. […] The Holy Spirit is the only one in the proper position to criticize, and He alone is able to show what is wrong without hurting and wounding. […] Criticism serves to make you harsh, vindictive, and cruel, and leaves you with the soothing and flattering idea that you are somehow superior to others. Jesus says that as His disciple you should cultivate a temperament that is never critical. […] If I see the little speck in your eye, it means that I have a plank of timber in my own (see Matthew 7:3-5). Every wrong thing that I see in you, God finds in me. Every time I judge, I condemn myself (see Romans 2:17-24). […] I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.”  CHAMBERS
 
Jesus did not say to ignore sin.  Our challenge is to recognize sin without condemning the sinner.  We must be careful that we don’t take on the role of the Holy Spirit which is to convict the sinner or that of God which is to judge the sinner.  We should not ignore sin.  We certainly should not condone sin.  Are you familiar with the phrase, “Hate the sin and love the sinner”?  Did you know that it is not a Bible verse?  It is a quote from writings by  St. Augustine and Mohandas Gandhi’s (most know Gandhi as Mahatma [Sanskrit for “the great-souled one”]). Certainly the principle is Biblical.  John 3:16 is the best known verse that tells us that God loves us, but Jesus had to die for us because of our sin.  Paul reinforces that truth in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
 
Not judging others has to do with the sinner and not the sin.  When we judge others, we are condemning them in our hearts.  There is a parable about the unforgiving servant that Jesus used to get the point across.  (Matthew 18:21-35)  The servant wanted forgiveness but was unwilling to show it toward others. Certainly there are consequences of sin, but one of them is not to be our judgement.  We must leave that to the Judge.  We should not accept sin. We certainly should not participate in it.  Although, we are not to condemn the sinner, sin is never OK.  Is it wrong to speak out against sin? No. But it is wrong to hate people because of their sin.  They need Jesus and we are the ones that are supposed to tell the sinner about God’s grace and mercy. How do we have the capacity to do that?  Only through the power of the Spirit in us.  And by the way, that feeling a person has well up inside them when they are judging others does not come from God, it is not righteous anger … well, it’s their own sin.  Read about the speck and the beam in Matthew 7. CHARLEY

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Putting The Things You Love In The Right Order .. And Keeping Them There

My Utmost For His Highest
 
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends….I have called you friends… —John 15:13, 15
 
“Jesus does not ask me to die for Him, but to lay down my life for Him. […] Has the Lord ever asked you, “Will you lay down your life for My sake?” (John 13:38). It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God. We are not made for the bright-shining moments of life, but we have to walk in the light of them in our everyday ways. […] “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). Yet it is contrary to our human nature to do so.[…] Salvation is easy for us, because it cost God so much. But the exhibiting of salvation in my life is difficult. God saves a person, fills him with the Holy Spirit, and then says, in effect, “Now you work it out in your life, and be faithful to Me, even though the nature of everything around you is to cause you to be unfaithful.”” CHAMBERS
 
I have often used John 15:13 to describe the military life.  Everyone in the military takes an oath of loyalty and commitment.  Not only do they forsake their non-military life and culture, but they are willingly to place themselves in harm’s way.  Why?  For their country and countrymen. As a Christian, you are called to a similar life.  To forsake what you were, your devotions, your primary allegiances to family and culture, and give them to God.  That is what it means to love God with “all” (Matthew 22:37). Do you recall when someone told Jesus that his mother Mary and his brothers were at the door wanting to see Him? (Matthew 12:46-50) “While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.  Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.””  What is up with that?  Did Jesus not love Mary, his mother anymore?  One of His final acts hanging on the cross was to charge her care to John.  (John 19:26-27) But His view was not focused on the human condition, but rather on eternal things.
 
Laying your life down means abandoning earthly affections in favor of heavenly ones.  That doesn’t just happen.  It takes determination to not look back with longing or to once again indulge in the “pleasures” and habits of the old life.  In Philippians, Paul wrote “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:12-14) We all would do well to follow his lead.  CHARLEY

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Spending Time In The Kitchen When You Want To Be In The Living Room

My Utmost For His Highest
 
Also…add to your faith… —2 Peter 1:5
 
“No one is born either naturally or supernaturally with character; it must be developed. Nor are we born with habits— we have to form godly habits on the basis of the new life God has placed within us. We are not meant to be seen as God’s perfect, bright-shining examples, but to be seen as the everyday essence of ordinary life exhibiting the miracle of His grace. Drudgery is the test of genuine character. The greatest hindrance in our spiritual life is that we will only look for big things to do. Yet, “Jesus…took a towel and…began to wash the disciples’ feet…” (John 13:3-5). […] The routine of life is actually God’s way of saving us between our times of great inspiration which come from Him. Don’t always expect God to give you His thrilling moments, but learn to live in those common times of the drudgery of life by the power of God.[…] I must realize that my obedience even in the smallest detail of life has all of the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it. If I will do my duty, not for duty’s sake but because I believe God is engineering my circumstances, then at the very point of my obedience all of the magnificent grace of God is mine through the glorious atonement by the Cross of Christ.” CHAMBERS
 
Brother Lawrence, was a lay brother in the Discalced Carmelite Priory in Paris. Despite his lowly position in life and the priory (a small monastery), his character attracted many to him. He had a reputation for experiencing profound peace and visitors came to seek spiritual guidance from him. The wisdom he passed on to them, in conversations and in letters, would later become the basis for the book, The Practice of the Presence of God. He spent many years, over 15 years, doing what he preferred not to do, work in the kitchen, and yet he had a profound spiritual impact on many people. He did not allow his circumstances to sway his practice of being in God’s presence all of the time.  Paul wrote, (Philippians 4:11-13) “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
 
All too often we will quote verse 13, but what are the “all things” ?  You must read verses 11 and 12.  We cannot be “spiritual” or be a spiritual influence by our own doing.  We find our satisfaction in Christ and not our circumstances.  It really doesn’t matter what we must endure.  Christ is sufficient in all things.  We are able to shine in darkness because of our relationship with God.  Our relationship to God should not be dependent upon the lack of darkness.  What is the “kitchen” that God has you in?  Are you spending your time trying to plan your escape or are you letting God use that time to continue to shape you and use you for His purpose? We all know what the “spiritually correct” answer is.  But you and God both know the truth.  (John 16:33) “These things have I [Jesus] spoken to you.  In the world you will have tribulation [kitchens], but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  God has me in a kitchen right now.  I have a choice.  I must remind myself daily that I follow the Lord and my trust is in Him.  The daily, hour by hour, minute by minute commitment is what makes it a practice.  CHARLEY
 
Where He Leads Me
 
“I can hear my Savior calling,  I can hear my Savior calling,  I can hear my Savior calling, “Take thy cross and follow, follow Me.”
 
Where He leads me I will follow,  Where He leads me I will follow,  Where He leads me I will follow;  I’ll go with Him, with Him, all the way.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Weed Is Still A Weed By Any Other Name

My Utmost For His Highest
 
Abide in Me… —John 15:4
 
“In the matter of determination. The Spirit of Jesus is put into me by way of the atonement by the Cross of Christ. I then have to build my thinking patiently to bring it into perfect harmony with my Lord. God will not make me think like Jesus— I have to do it myself. I have to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). “Abide in Me”— in intellectual matters, in money matters, in every one of the matters that make human life what it is. […] It does not matter what my circumstances are. I can be as much assured of abiding in Jesus in any one of them as I am in any prayer meeting. It is unnecessary to change and arrange my circumstances myself. Our Lord’s inner abiding was pure and unblemished. He was at home with God wherever His body was. […]  We have none of the serenity of the life which is “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).”  CHAMBERS
 
I am not writing to the unsaved person.  That person has no spiritual capacity.  They cannot understand spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:14 “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.”) and have absolutely no ability to live in obedience to the Word of God.  They cannot hear God? They cannot abide in Christ because they do not belong to God’s household. No, I am writing to those who bear the mark of God, the Spirit of God sealed upon their hearts.  I write to those who have professed faith in Jesus and have, at one time, committed to follow Him.  In John 6, we learn that many disciples who were following Jesus reached a point, they stopped following Him.  For Christians who struggle with their faith, that most often is a matter of the heart. It doesn’t happen suddenly like a clap of thunder and bolt of lightning, but more like the weeds that grow up amongst the flowers.  Ignored, there are only a few small weeds, but one day, the flower garden has been taken over, seized, the few small weeds have become dominant, choking out the flowers and their beauty, robbing the flowers of their sustenance.  Few Christians intended to allow that to happen.  They thought that they could manage their sin, the desires of their old nature.  You old nature cannot be managed, it must be crucified and left for dead.  Something about weeds.  Some of them have a flower that would lead you to believe that they are harmless … and not a weed at all.  And so it is with our sin.  It may seem harmless but it always causes separation from God, a quenched Spirit. The issue of sin is not its size.  Like leaven, its presence affects the whole loaf.  Even if we try to convince ourselves otherwise in an attempt to justify our sin.  Do not be deceived.  And if it has already happened.  Confess and repent.  CHARLEY

Monday, June 13, 2016

Being Content In A Place You Prefer Not To Be

My Utmost For His Highest
 
…come, follow Me. —Luke 18:22
 
“Where our individual desire dies and sanctified surrender lives. One of the greatest hindrances in coming to Jesus is the excuse of our own individual temperament. We make our temperament and our natural desires barriers to coming to Jesus. Yet the first thing we realize when we do come to Jesus is that He pays no attention whatsoever to our natural desires. We have the idea that we can dedicate our gifts to God. […] There is actually only one thing you can dedicate to God, and that is your right to yourself (see Romans 12:1). […] The one true mark of a saint of God is the inner creativity that flows from being totally surrendered to Jesus Christ. […] A saint realizes that it is God who engineers his circumstances; consequently there are no complaints, only unrestrained surrender to Jesus. […] You will go out into the world reproducing the echo of Christ’s “Come.” That is the result in every soul who has abandoned all and come to Jesus.”  CHAMBERS
 
Do you make excuses for your sin nature? “Well, that is just the way that I am”, I have heard Christians say when trying to justify why they behave in a certain way or respond to people in a certain way.  A way that is clearly contrary to Spirit.  What the person is really saying is, this is something that is a part of me and it will not change.  Perhaps they have been trying to change it.  Perhaps not. Whatever the case, we should not make excuses for those things that come from the flesh. (Galatians 5:19-21)  Following Jesus means abandoning everything that is part of our old nature.  If we are unkind toward others, that is not coming from the Spirit.  If we speak harshly, in a hurtful way, that is not from the Spirit.  But you already know that don’t you?  Are you in a situation, that is not a result of your sin, that you wish you were not in?  Do you remember the story of the mount of transfiguration? (Luke 9:28-33)  The disciples wanted to stay on the mountain, but they had to go back to the valley.  They were not the ones who decided what was going to happen.  They were following the One who decided that.  Yet, even then, Jesus was obedient to the Father’s will, not His own. Where does God have you right now.  Are you trusting in Him or trying to figure out how you can find a better place?  Be obedient where you are, and trust God.  I am writing this encouragement to myself more than to you.  My words come back to me.  When we were in Mississippi after Katrina, someone asked me if I liked being in Mississippi, in the middle of a disaster area.  After thinking about the question, no one had asked me that before, I responded, “There is no better place than being in the center of God’s will, geography has nothing to do with it. So, yes, I love being here.”  God continues to take us to places that need the light of Christ to shine.  The geography, the economy, the culture are irrelevant.  The message, “Jesus Saves” is all that is relevant. And He still does. CHARLEY

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Which Do You Prefer - "Roll Tide" "War Eagle" Or Jesus Saves? I Mean Really?

My Utmost For His Highest
 
Come to Me… —Matthew 11:28
 
“Where sin and sorrow stops, and the song of the saint starts. Do I really want to get there? I can right now. The questions that truly matter in life are remarkably few, and they are all answered by these words— “Come to Me.” Our Lord’s words are not, “Do this, or don’t do that,” but— “Come to me.” If I will simply come to Jesus, my real life will be brought into harmony with my real desires. […] Personal contact with Jesus changes everything. Be “foolish” enough to come and commit yourself to what He says. The attitude necessary for you to come to Him is one where your will has made the determination to let go of everything and deliberately commit it all to Him.[…] He is not saying, “I will put you to bed, hold your hand, and sing you to sleep.” But, in essence, He is saying, “I will get you out of bed— out of your listlessness and exhaustion, and out of your condition of being half dead while you are still alive. I will penetrate you with the spirit of life, and you will be sustained by the perfection of vital activity.”” CHAMBERS
 
(Romans 8:29) “For whom he [God the Father] did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  I have noticed that it is the habit of sports enthusiasts to wear jerseys with the colors of their favorite team and the number of their favorite player.  They make a loud, visibly obvious statement about where their loyalties lie.  They are not ashamed of letting people know about their devotion.  About their team.  About their “sports hero”.  In 2009, adults in the United States spent more than $8 billion on sports apparel. Wow, now that is commitment.  And that doesn’t include the cost of sports channels and ticket sales.  What would it like if you were as committed to Jesus as you are to your Alma Mater … or for most people who root for say Alabama – “Roll tide” – or Auburn – “War Eagle” who did not even go to those schools.  Are we that committed to our faith?  Some years ago, I attended a Sunday School sponsored men’s event.  Watching the Super Bowl.  I was na├»ve, I suppose.  I started talking about Jesus and was told that we were there to watch football, not talk about Jesus.  Now it is easy to be critical of that comment, if you are being spiritually minded that is.  But, don’t we do the same thing?  Don’t we compartmentalize our faith?  Just like when we take our sports jersey off after the game, we are inclined to take our “spiritual” jersey off after the church service.  Friend, we have been changed on the inside.  We have a new Alma Mater, Heaven U.  We have a new hero … Jesus.  We have a new team slogan “Jesus Saves”.  Perhaps its time that we had a new attitude.  CHARLEY
 
Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus) By Chris Rice
 
Weak and wounded sinner, Lost and left to die, O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus, Come to Jesus, Come to Jesus and live!
 
Now your burden's lifted, And carried far away, And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus, Sing to Jesus, Sing to Jesus and live!
 
And like a newborn baby, Don't be afraid to crawl, And remember when you walk, Sometimes we fall, so
Fall on Jesus, Fall on Jesus, Fall on Jesus and live!
 
Sometimes the way is lonely, And steep and filled with pain, So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus, Cry to Jesus, Cry to Jesus and live!