Wednesday, August 15, 2018

If You Are Born Again, Then Power To Not Sin Is In You

You must be born again. —John 3:7 

“This new life exhibits itself in our conscious repentance and through our unconscious holiness. “But as many as received Him…” (John 1:12). … My spiritual history must have as its underlying foundation a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. To be born again means that I see Jesus…. Am I seeking only for the evidence of God’s kingdom, or am I actually recognizing His absolute sovereign control? … To be born of God means that I have His supernatural power to stop sinning. ….. 1 John 3:9 does not mean that we cannot sin— it simply means that if we will obey the life of God in us, that we do not have to sin.” OSWALD CHAMBERS

When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, they were talking at cross-purposes. Cross-purposes means “people do not understand each other because they are working towards or talking about different things without realizing it.  Jesus was speaking spiritual truth.  Nicodemus was thinking in the natural.  Unless you are born again, it is impossible to understand the spiritual.  You need the Spirit of God in you.  But, even then, very often, after we are born again and we have been sealed by the Spirit of God, we continue to think in the natural.  Why is that? (rhetorical question)  Because we fail to practice the disciplines of the faith.  Our minds are not set on Christ.  

(Hebrews 3:1) “Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.”  We had a pastor in Savannah, GA say “When you read “therefore” you need to see what is there – for.” (Hebrews 2:10-18) “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.” Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. …. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” 

You don’t have to face temptation on your own.  You don’t “have” to sin.  It’s a choice.  God has made a way to overcome the power of your old nature. (1 Corinthians 10:13)  What are you struggling with today?  Fear? Doubt? Some temptation that always leads you down the path to sin and shame?  Stop relying on yourself and instead look to Jesus.  Some may say, “I tried that and it didn’t work”, I would suggest that you were still relying on yourself and your own determination.  You can guess why I know that!  (Philippians 4:13) “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Believe it. 

On second thought

When I read the verse reference John 1:12, I was reminded about seed planting.  When you share the Truth – the Gospel with people, you plant a seed.  You never know what will happen to that seed. (see the Parable of the seed in Matthew 13:1-24) In 1951 my step dad was in the Marine Corps in Korea.  A Navy Chaplain gave him a Bible and wrote the inscription you see in the picture.  It was not until 1969 did that seed sprout and bear fruit.  Don’t dispel the urge to speak into someone’s life.  Do that knowing that you can’t save anyone.  Your purpose is to point people to the One who can. That is not to say that you may not be given the privilege to see someone come to salvation, but that won’t happen most of the time. You should not let the fact that the seed must geminate before it bears fruit deter you from your purpose.  CHARLEY

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Conviction Of Sin And Why You Struggle With It

My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him. —Hebrews 12:5

“It is very easy to grieve the Spirit of God; we do it by despising the discipline of the Lord, or by becoming discouraged when He rebukes us. … “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19), and do not despise Him when He says to you, in effect, “Don’t be blind on this point anymore— you are not as far along spiritually as you thought you were. … We begin to pout, become irritated with God, and then say, “Oh well, I can’t help it. I prayed and things didn’t turn out right anyway. So I’m simply going to give up on everything.” … Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me— sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me. But He has to get me into the state of mind and spirit where I will allow Him to sanctify me completely, whatever the cost (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).” OSWALD CHAMBERS 

(Romans 8:29) “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”  So you want to be like Jesus.  You want to do what Jesus would do. Really?  For that to happen you must go through the “fire”.  What fire?  The fire of sanctification.  That is the process by which God, the Father, conforms you into the likeness of Jesus, the One who was obedient to the will of the Father, even to the Cross. 

Very often, we are like Adam and Eve when it comes to our sin.  We try to hide in the bushes. Hoping, that perhaps, God will not see us in our shame.  Too late!  And when that happens, sin I mean, the Holy Spirit will convict you of that sin.  (John 16:7-11)  “Unless I [Jesus] go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me;  about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer;  and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” Being convicted of your sin is not enjoyable, but it is good.  We are all in a constant battle with our old nature .. our sinful nature.  It rises up daily to dominate our thinking and our doing.  But we have an Advocate!  We are sealed with the Holy Spirit on the day of our rebirth. The Spirit not only established our new, spiritual nature in Christ, but helps us live our new life.  Look, you may be able to hide your sin from man, but you cannot, ever, hide your sin from God.  God knows the heart of man .. your heart.  

So what to do?  You are not going to lose your salvation over it, but as Paul said (Romans 6:1-4) “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”  Read 1 John 1:9 – yes, unless you have memorized it, you will have to look it up.  And then do what it says.   CHARLEY

Friday, August 10, 2018

Are You Living For Today Or Living For Eternity?

“Let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good… —1 Peter 4:19 

“Choosing to suffer means that there must be something wrong with you, but choosing God’s will— even if it means you will suffer— is something very different. No normal, healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he simply chooses God’s will, just as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. God places His saints where they will bring the most glory to Him, and we are totally incapable of judging where that may be.” OSWALD CHAMBERS 

When I was in the Army I used to say that we practiced to be miserable. In many respects that was true.  It is often necessary for the military to go places that are difficult, and ,yes, dangerous.  Would God send His children to difficult and dangerous places, absolutely.  For many Christians in the United States, their definition of a difficult place is when there is no air conditioning. The fact is, that in order to find yourself in a difficult or dangerous place, you must be willing to say “yes” to His calling. Jesus said (Matthew 16:24) “If anyone comes after me, he must pick up his cross, daily, and follow Me.”  Frankly speaking, most of us are not willing to walk that path of rejection and rebuke.  Living a life with nowhere to lay your head. (Luke 9:58

Years ago, a volunteer asked me, while in the midst of the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina, “Do you like being in Mississippi?”  I told them that no one had ever asked me that question before.  After thinking about it for a moment, I answered, “There is nothing better than being in the center of God’s will for your life. Geography has nothing to do with it. So, yes,  I love being in Mississippi.”  It really boils down to whether your focus is on you or God. Whether you go or not will tell the tale. God’s affirmation is not pouring out of material wealth and comfort.  It is certainly not sleeping in an airconditioned room when you volunteer in a third world country or in an area devastated by a natural disaster. Pastor Rick Warren said “God is more concerned with your character than your comfort.”  Are you OK with that? God does not change so if you are not ok with adversity, the “change” ball is in your court. CHARLEY

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Culture And Christianity, Do You Know The Difference And Which Do You Defer To?

“Supernatural sense is the gift of His Son, and we should never put our common sense on the throne. The Son always recognizes and identifies with the Father, but common sense has never yet done so and never will. Our ordinary abilities will never worship God unless they are transformed by the indwelling Son of God. We must make sure that our human flesh is kept in perfect submission to Him, allowing Him to work through it moment by moment.” OSWALD CHAMBERS

(1 Peter 1:17-19) “Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”  The nature of man is to cling to his culture.  What he or she has been taught is right and wrong by man. 

When I was in grade school I can remember reading about the United States being a “melting pot”  where many nations came together to be one people.  Actually , it was man’s attempt to do what only God can do.  That attempt failed.  What I see today is one nation with many cultures trying to cling to what they were before they or their ancestors came to the United States.  People set up enclaves centered on their ethnicity or nationality.  European, African, Hispanic, the list goes on.  It is the nature of man to associate with people who look and act like themselves.  Among Christians, it is the same.  Someone said that 11:00am Sunday is the most segregated hour of the week in the United States. For most people when they read this, their minds will think I am referring to black and white, but it is more pervasive than that.

(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.” 

2 Corinthians 5:17 says - old things – including your primary devotion to your race or ancestors nationality – are gone and all has become new.  That is a spiritual truth – a fact.  One which many Christians have a hard time living with and applying.  Why? Because devotion to the traditions of their natural fathers are very strong. I have said several times, if I was standing with a group of men and said something against their fathers or ancestors, they would become angry, but if I used God’s name in vain, few, if any, would care.  Why? Because they are more devoted to men than they are to God. When I would preach in a Haitian church for the first time, I would always begin with “Mwen pa blan, mwen fre nou” which is to say “I am not white, I am your Brother”  That was a hard truth to digest for a congregation of mountain people who rarely saw a white man.  My point was that I was not standing before them as a white American, but as an adopted son of God, saved by the blood of Jesus and His resurrection.

How do you want people to see you?  How do you see yourself? First as a Christian? If you believe Matthew 22:37, that you are to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Where does that leave your natural heritage and the traditions of your father?  Listen, what I am telling you is truth, but it is a hard truth.  It is difficult to overcome.  We don’t all have to speak with the same accent or eat the same food or like the same clothing style, but we serve the same Lord and belong to the same family. What the founders of this country tried to set in place with written law, God has already put in place through His Son by His Spirit. So maybe we should act like it. CHARLEY

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Living By Faith And Not By Flesh

“If the Son of God has been born into my human flesh, then am I allowing His holy innocence, simplicity, and oneness with the Father the opportunity to exhibit itself in me?” OSWALD CHAMBERS 

(Galatians 2:20) “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  One of the greatest challenges that Christians face is living by faith and not by flesh.  The reason, I think, is because, typically, we don’t respect God or acknowledge that our life is not our own.  We fail to fully yield our lives to God.  We talk a good game, but we decide, for ourselves, how much of our lives we will yield to God.  It might be possessions, relationships, attitudes, devotions, even past hurts that we choose cling to.  I sometimes wonder why God would tolerate it.  Have you ever had a defiant child who would not listen?  A child who defiantly chose that which was harmful or hurtful in place of what was right and good?  They were going to do things their way, no matter what.  Why would God permit us, those who claim Jesus as Lord, to act like defiant children in light of His Son’s great sacrifice for our salvation. God’s grace and mercy, the grace and mercy that covers our sin and opens the doors of eternity in heaven up to us, is beyond my comprehension. 

I have said this before, but everything in our lives has a spiritual context. (Ephesians 6:12) “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” We choose to parse life out in the natural and spiritual, but life is not really like that at all. The natural and spiritual are not equal.  As a Christian, it is important that you see everything in its spiritual context.  Before your new birth, it was impossible.  Jesus said “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) In other words, the people only had a natural understanding.  Spiritual insight must begin with your life and then it can expand to the lives of others and the world.  When it begins with you, there will be a change … transformation … old things passing away .. all things becoming new in the context of your new life in Christ. The light of Christ will begin to shine through you.  God will be glorified and the Gospel will be proclaimed to a world darkened by sin.  But you have to let that happen .. desire it .. embrace it even though your flesh will resist. CHARLEY

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Are You A Religious Fanatic? I Hope So.

…they found Him in the temple….And He said to them, "…Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?" —Luke 2:46, 49 

“Am I continually in touch with the reality of God, or do I pray only when things have gone wrong— when there is some disturbance in my life? … Are you so closely identified with the Lord’s life that you are simply a child of God, continually talking to Him and realizing that everything comes from His hands? … You must allow Him to have His way with you, staying in perfect oneness with Him.” OSWALD CHAMBERS

Do you know any religious fanatics?  You know who I mean.  The people that are always over the top with their expressions about their faith in Jesus.  Those emotional people that make you feel tired after being around them for only a few minutes.  In a large measure what you see is more a reflection of personality than of spirituality.  That is not to say they don’t love the Lord, rather it’s their expression of that love that makes you uncomfortable.  I don’t think Jesus wore a bracelet that had WWID on it. (What Would I Do) He didn’t hand out tracts.  But, He was nevertheless the greatest witness to the Love of God the Father that there ever will be.  By the way, just because a person seems over the top about their faith does not mean that they are that way in their heart.  That behavior can be a mask for someone who is struggling and trying to convince themselves, even more than they are trying to convince you, of their faithfulness to and love for God.

So, setting personality differences aside, what would God have us do.  Micah 6:8 is a good start. “Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God” John 15:13 “Lay down your life for others” Matthew 16:24 “Pick up you cross and follow Jesus”  Romans 12:1-2 “Offer yourself as a living sacrifice … don’t not be conformed to this world, but be transformed”  Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens … fulfill the law of Christ” Matthew 22:37-39 “Love God and love people” 

Now that is what I would call being a religious fan-atic.  Being a fan of God and not the world. And if you feel like shouting now and again, go ahead on.  Like the song says “I’ll shout it from the mountain tops.  I want the world to know.  The Lord of love has come to me.  I want to pass it on.” And remember, your new life in Christ is fully dependent upon faith and the presence and power of the Spirit of God in your life.  You can’t do any of those things on your own, by yourself.  Someone can certainly put a smile on their face, tell everyone about the love of Jesus, and their heart is cold as ice toward God. CHARLEY

Monday, August 6, 2018

Does God Hear Me When I Pray? It Depends On Who My Father Is

This is a bit long today .. no apologies .. just a heads up

"In that day you will ask in My name…" —John 16:26

““Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). Then why should we ask? The point of prayer is not to get answers from God, but to have perfect and complete oneness with Him. If we pray only because we want answers, we will become irritated and angry with God. We receive an answer every time we pray, but it does not always come in the way we expect, and our spiritual irritation shows our refusal to identify ourselves truly with our Lord in prayer. We are not here to prove that God answers prayer, but to be living trophies of God’s grace.” OSWALD CHAMBERS

There is a very subtle implication in what Chambers said.  If my grandson was to go to someone who lives on our block and ask for $20 so he can take his girlfriend to the movies, he would most likely be turned away.  The reason? That person has no connection with my grandson and no obligation to give him anything. He might even be told, “Go ask someone in your own family.”  Jesus said “your Father”.  Jesus was saying for those whose Father is the Creator God, He knows what His children need, before they ask. Well, what about those who are not His children? I refer you back to my grandson. 

We don’t like to think about God turning people away.  Especially when people are in trouble. Martie and I were called to Illinois recently.  My oldest sister was in the hospital.  She was in trouble, medically speaking.  Things did not look good.  The doctors did not have much hope.  The family was frantic.  Her husband was desperate for answers.  They were reluctantly coming to grips with the fact that end of my sister’s life here on earth was coming to an end.  My sister is a Believer and she has hope beyond this life. She couldn’t talk because of the tube in her lungs, so she wrote a note on her tablet to me, “I may be going to heaven today.”  Her husband and daughter asked me to pray for her … every day I was there, several times a day.  I rallied the Saints that we know across the U.S. to pray for her. My two brothers headed to Peoria to be with the family in anticipation of her passing.  There was a lot of weeping.

And then something happened.  God showed up!  The nurse put a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) wristband on her.  When the doctor removed the tube, to their surprise, Sherry started breathing on her own.  She needed supplemental oxygen, but she needed that before this hospital visit.  The first time they tried to remove the tube she had a minor heart attack and could not breath so they had put the tube back in.  God heard the prayers of the Saints.  I believe that He restored my sister, not only for her good, but for His glory.  

Paul said “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8)  During the course of this time with my sister, someone said, half joking, “I hope my faith is real.” Dr. Del Tackett, from Focus on the Family, asked the question “Do you believe that what you believe is really real” Do you? 

Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 15:17-19) “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” I cannot convince anyone that my faith is real.  They can see my life and those things that happen, but they can attribute those things to something else, not God.  It is the Spirit of God that will confirm and affirm the reality of your faith. 

So back to the room in the CICU (Cardiac Intensive Care Unit).  Jesus said "If your Father is not the God of heaven then he is the god of this world." (John 8:42-47)  Telling people that there father is the devil will not endear them to you.  They prefer to think that they are independent.  On their own. The captain of their own ship.  Nope .. not true.  So when times get tough and they have no alternative but to seek the Creator God, well it is like knocking on the door if a neighbor’s house.  I believe that the only prayer that God will hear from the lost is the prayer for salvation. It does not matter how desperate you are.  How much you plead to or promise God to make a bad situation go away.  If you are not His child He has no obligation to respond to you.  I believe my sister was healed by the prayers of the Saints not the lost huddled up, wringing their hands in the waiting room.  

It has been 5 days since Sherrie had the tube removed.  Today she is at home.  (Liking posts on Facebook) And now that the crisis is over, people are going back to their routines.  I don't think most are not thinking about God but all are thankful that Sherrie is better. But, I am trusting that a few, maybe even only one, will turn their hearts toward God because of what they witnessed -  a miracle. My desire is that they will pray the one prayer that God will hear and that they will find eternal life in His Son. Because He is risen, indeed! CHARLEY

Friday, August 3, 2018

What God Calls You To Do Requires Spiritual Strength Not Yours

(Ephesians 2:8-10) “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

I have a very clear understanding of what God want me to do, and I am doing it.  But there is this issue of faith, or lack of it, that will raise its head every now and again.  Let me explain.  

It is clear that God has me, Martie and me to be correct, helping those who cannot help themselves.  In particular, He has made me very aware of the plight of widows.  James 1:27 says “religion is expressed in its purest sense when we help widows and orphans in their affliction” (paraphrased by me).  I have seen the mighty hand of God at work.  Do you remember the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18? Right after that victory, Elijah was exhausted and even ran for his life in fear.  How did that happen.  In my experience, when you are anointed by the Spirit of God for a particular work and that work is accomplished to and for the glory of God, you will be physically and emotionally exhausted at the end.  You will have a supernatural ability in the midst of the work, but after, you become very aware of your weakness in light of Jesus’ strength. (2 Corinthians 12:9) [I am feeling that way right now after having ministered to my sister, her husband, her children and my sister.] 

So …  I am “recovering” and am vulnerable.  I read a post on Facebook about people who have suffered the loss of a loved one and the thought came to me.  “What good do you think you can possibly do in light of what others are doing? Who do you think you are?”  Have you every wondered that in the light of God’s call on your life? The truth is, what God calls you to do is between you and God.  It has nothing to do with what He has called others to do. The temptation is to take your eyes off of Jesus and focus on other things, other people.  If you do, you will immediately start to sink.  That is what happened to me this morning. On the face of it, it seems improbable or perhaps even impossible.  I mean how can you go from standing boldly for God at one minute and doubting that what you are doing is right the next. (Zechariah 4:6) “It’s not by strength or by power but by my Spirit says the Lord God of Hosts.”  

As Jesus followers we all live with this tension between the Spirit and the flesh. Once again, Proverbs 3:5-6 says trust God and not yourself.  If you are using the world and trust in yourself to do what God has clearly called you to do, you will fail.  You can’t do it.  Don’t compare yourself to others when considering your God-given purpose.  God will always ask you to do what is not humanly possible.  You will always need the power of the Spirit to do it.  And when the task is accomplished, you will feel just a little bit, or even a lot, of the weight of what you have just done. And it will exhaust you.  Maybe even make you fearful or doubtful.  When that happens … praise the Lord and be humbled that He would use a sinner like you for His eternal purposes.  Amazing! CHARLEY

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Recognizing When God Shows Up

Just yesterday I saw a miracle happen.  God showed up in an impossible situation.  My oldest sister, who has significant lung and heart problems was in the hospital.  Her lungs had stopped working.  She was on a ventilator.  The hospital staff was trying to prepare the family for the inevitable.  The family had accepted the fact that our sister was not leaving the hospital alive this time.  While I was talking with my sister she wrote on a pad of paper, "I may go to heaven today"  She was ready. 

In 1976, as a brand spanking new Christian, I had led my sister to the Lord.  In preparation for her death, I had reminded her of that, of whose she was, a child of the King.  That her hope was in Heaven.  That God knows her name, she is not forgotten. I had put the call out for prayer to the Saints. Her children and husband had asked me to pray for her, multiple times over the past few days.  They had a look of desperation in their eyes. They were helpless and perhaps, hopeless.  And then, God showed up. The unimaginable happened. The doctor removed the ventilator tube and she started breathing on her own.  Yesterday morning she was making her peace with God.  Saying her last goodbyes. Family was flying in expecting the worst.  That afternoon, she was sitting in a chair, eating and talking.

I was talking to her daughter after the miracle about faith and confidence in God.  So very often when we pray, we pray without real hope.  We are really not expecting God do intervene.  Oh, we would love it if He did, but we don't have the confidence that He will.  Perhaps He is not really listening.  I reminded her of Jesus responding to Peter on the water and the disciples in the boat … "Why did you doubt?' "Where is your faith?"

As I looked around the waiting room in CICU yesterday, I saw relief on the faces of those who loved my sister. But I was amazed to see that they missed the fact that Jesus had just showed up in their midst.  He reached out His hand and pulled Sherrie up from the water.  He had had stretched out His hand and said, "Peace, be still." to the storm that was raging in CICU that day.  No glory to God. No recognition of God's answered prayer.  They focused on what happened - Sherrie was not going to die - and not why she was not going to die.  

This has given me pause to reflect.  Proverbs 3:5-6 are verses that are part of the scriptural foundation in my life.  Yesterday, I was reminded that, for the most part, people don't trust in God but see the world in the light of their own understanding.  The lost, blind to spiritual things, are incapable of seeing God at work, although they do see the result of His working.  They just don't know why something happened.  But the Saints should have been shouting Hallelujah in the halls, instead they were looking for their car keys so they could go home and get some rest. 

I want to encourage you to be watchful and aware.  This faith of ours is not a vain faith.  The Bible does not just represent some nice thoughts that help us get through life.  God is real.  He still intervenes in the affairs of man.  He hears the prayers of the Saints. And from time to time, He shows up and does something miraculous.  This time, it was for my sister's good and for His glory. And I praise Him for it.  Hallelujah!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Importance Of Being A Care-Full And Not A Care-Less Christian

Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. —James 1:4

“Many of us appear to be all right in general, but there are still some areas in which we are careless and lazy; it is not a matter of sin, but the remnants of our carnal life that tend to make us careless. … Beware of becoming careless over the small details of life and saying, “Oh, that will have to do for now.” Whatever it may be, God will point it out with persistence until we become entirely His..”  OSWALD CHAMBERS

To be careless in your faith means that you care – less about the things of God and care – more about your natural life.  As a Christian, there is never a time when we are not to love God with every fiber of our being. Heart – mind – soul – strength. What does that look like?  It does not mean that you are standing on a street corner wearing a robe and sandals waiving a sign that says “Repent – The end is near!” It means that everything you do and think and say is expressed in the context of your new life in Christ.  That the old has passed away and all things are new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Care-less Christians look very much like the rest of the world in terms of how they live and interact.  They make excuses for the things they do that are clearly in conflict with the Word of God which is the Truth of God.  They see some sins as permissible sin.  They have low regard for the fact that the Word says if you sin in one part, any part of the law you have broken the whole law.  (James 2:10) “whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”  That God can have not part of sin  - any sin – even the tiniest sin. 

We like the idea of going to Heaven and not Hell.  The problem is that we disconnect life after death from life before death. I am not denying that we face temptations and we sin … all of us do. (1 Corinthians 10:13) But we should not be satisfied with that.  We should not surrender to it.  To let our old nature have its way in our lives.  To trivialize our sin and deem it as inconsequential.  The world needs to see Jesus and you are the best representation of Jesus that many people will see.  And if there is virtually no difference between the world and you, well … you have failed in the most fundamental calling that all Christians have – to be His witnesses to a lost and dying world.  Don’t be care-less but be care-full in your faith and life. Being a witness is 10 percent (10%) what you say, and 90 percent (90%) what you do. CHARLEY

Monday, July 30, 2018

You Need To Change Your Attitude Toward The Never Changers In Your Life.

Jesus did not commit Himself to them…, for He knew what was in man. —John 2:24-25

“Many of the things in life that inflict the greatest injury, grief, or pain, stem from the fact that we suffer from illusions. … if we love someone, but do not love God, we demand total perfection and righteousness from that person … we are demanding of a human being something which he or she cannot possibly give. … Our Lord trusted no one, and never placed His faith in people, yet He was never suspicious or bitter. Our Lord’s confidence in God, and in what God’s grace could do for anyone, was so perfect that He never despaired, never giving up hope for any person. If our trust is placed in human beings, we will end up despairing of everyone.”  OSWALD CHAMBERS

Has anyone ever disappointed you? How does that make you feel?  Do you lose hope for them? Have you lost hope for them? Have you given up on them?  It is really pretty easy to do.  I think most people have a category that they put others in called “They are never going to change.”  In a way, we are correct.  They can’t change without help.  Not our help.  God’s help.  Just like He changed you and me … who were never going to change either.  Now the tricky part is that some think that if I think differently about that person, I must accept, embrace they things they do and the life they live.  Not so! But, at the same time, when you cast them off as “unchangeable” you have judged them and condemned them to Hell.  Because of what they have done to you or someone else, perhaps that is your hope for them.  I know people in my life that I have done this to.  (This is very convicting as I type these words.)  Listen, God is in the business of saving us from Hell and transforming us to the image of His Son through faith.  Remember the parable of the unforgiving servant? (Matthew 18:21-35) Think about these verses in terms of the people in your life that you have relegated to “They are never going to change”.

(John 3:16) “For God so loved the world” That is pretty inclusive .. doesn’t leave anyone out including the ones that we think will never change.

(Romans 5:8) “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  God did not demand that we do something that we were incapable of doing, and yet He did not, could not, would not embrace us until we placed our faith in His Son.

The second greatest commandment is to love people (Matthew 22:39).  So don’t give up on those “Never Changers”, pray for them.  Forgive them.  You can’t you say? Of course you can’t, you need God’s help to do that.  What you are trying do in the flesh you can only do in the Spirit.  It is a supernatural act, forgiveness is.  We need to see others just like Jesus did.  Even while on the Cross, Jesus asked the Father to forgive the very people that rejected Him and killed Him.  There is no way that we can love people like that on our own.  

(1 John 4:18-20) “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” CHARLEY


Friday, July 27, 2018

Deciding What To Do While You Have A Life To Live.

Matie and I are traveling to Peoria, Illinois to see my sister who is in the hospital. I am writing today's devotion from a computer in the lobby of a hotel.  Please pray thather health will be retored .. for her good and for God's glory.

I often use life events as a catalyst for what I write, seeking to find and share the spiritual significance of what happens in life.  Seeing life from a spiritual perspective should be the norm for Christians.  I assume if you are reading this, you are a Christian, born again by faith in Jesus and have the God-given capacity for spiritual understanding and insight. 

Like it or not, my generation is what I call, in-the-queue.  Imagine you are in a line of people.  All of you are waiting outside of a door.  Each person represents a generation of people. The door opens, the next person goes in, the door closes.  You take a step forward.  With each door opening and closing you get closer to the door.  Now you are standing at the door.  When it opens the next time, you will pass through and the door will close.  I am standing at the door, so are all of my siblings.  Nearly all of my parent's  generation have passed through the door.   It is not a bad thing, it is the nature of things.  But the call about my sister caused me to consider some things, some spiritual eternal things.

I was thinking about the man who was building bigger barns. (Luke 12:16-21) "And he [Jesus] told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

What are you investing your life, your resources, in?  Things on this earth or things eternal?  We are all in that line outside of the door.  We don't know how much time we have been given, but we do know we have today. Are you investing in the lives of others? Are you showing th eworld what Jesus looks like or are you scrambling with the rest of the world trying to find on earth what can only be found in heaven?  I want to encourage you to consider your life. Are you building bigger barns, in vain?  Or are you investing your life and resources in the lives of others and for God's glory?  What is the most important thing in your life? Might I suggest this?

(Matthew 22:37-39) Love God then love people.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Perfect Way To Live With An Imperfect Family

Reflecting on where I am in life.  All of us would want perfection in our family, but have never had it.  Like a wisp of smoke, you see it been when you try to grab it, there is nothing in your hand. There always seems to be something out of whack.  I suspect a lot of families try not to think about loss – disappointment – broken relationships – unforgiveness – resentments – bitterness – heartache – everything that results from our fallen nature that seems to linger in our new life in Christ.  I am sure you remember the story about Cornelius and his entire household being saved. (Acts 10).  The story didn’t stop there.  Those people went on to live out their lives.  Did you imagine that their lives were trouble-free after that day? Being trouble free while we live on this planet is an illusion – that puff of smoke I mentioned. Jesus said,  (John 16:33) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We long for something that seems unattainable so we often try to pretend life is what it isn’t.  Do you ever feel the pressure to not let others know that you have problems in your life.  It is as if having problems suggests that you are failing as a Christian.  When we are with Christians, rather than bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) we hide our pain and struggles.  Have you ever asked someone how they are doing and were dismayed when they actually told you more than “Fine!” or “I am blessed!”

There are moments – some days – when it appears that all is well and then comes the spoiler – a person or event that puts a blemish on what would have been a perfect day. Oh that this life could be perfect.  But as I struggle to not let “reality” dampen my spirits, I am reminded that what I experience is exactly why we need a Savior.  The matter of the fact is that we will never experience perfection of any kind on this earth.  It will always be just out of reach.  But one day. 

I was thinking about the Beatles song “Imagine”.  That song was about an idyllic world – free from trouble.  Those guys went on a spiritual journey looking for it – looking for love in all the wrong places.  The answer was and is Jesus.  You have the family that you have.  Your family is your first place of ministry.  No matter what imperfections may prevail, your place is to show them what Jesus looks like by the way you live your life in the midst of their and your imperfections. But you can’t do it on your own! Be filled with the Spirit.  Draw close to Jesus and let your light shine.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

God Called Us To Be Holy In An Unholy World – Did You Forget That?

…unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. —Matthew 5:20

“The characteristic of a disciple is not that he does good things, but that he is good in his motives, having been made good by the supernatural grace of God. … The purity that God demands is impossible unless I can be remade within, and that is exactly what Jesus has undertaken to do through His redemption… The great wonder of Jesus Christ’s salvation is that He changes our heredity. He does not change human nature— He changes its source, and thereby its motives as well.”  OSWALD CHAMBERS 

(Isaiah 6:5) "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." 

When Isaiah was in the presence of the Lord, he was suddenly and painfully aware of his sinful nature. That awareness was inescapable.  His very nature was laid bare before God.  There was nothing He could do to make it right or to hide it.  It was necessary for God to intervene on Isaiah’s behalf. 

(Isaiah 6:6-7) “Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.”

In the same way God intervened on our behalf on the day of our rebirth through Jesus. The question that came to my mind this morning is this. After so many days, months or years have passed, are we still aware of our dependence upon the Father’s intervention in our lives? That we are a people of unclean lips and cannot stand in the presence of a holy God on our own merit.  Or have we “adjusted” to our new life and really don’t see our sins as being significant. As far as we are concerned, we are maintain our sin life at an acceptable level.  The truth of the matter is displayed in the way we live our lives. We must all be on our guard. 

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 

Well ……. Do you?   CHARLEY

Monday, July 23, 2018

Christian, You Don’t Have To Be Isolated So Long As You Are Insulated.

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us…sanctification… —1 Corinthians 1:30

“The most wonderful secret of living a holy life does not lie in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfect qualities of Jesus exhibit themselves in my human flesh. Sanctification is “Christ in you…” (Colossians 1:27). It is His wonderful life that is imparted to me in sanctification— imparted by faith as a sovereign gift of God’s grace. Am I willing for God to make sanctification as real in me as it is in His Word? The perfection of everything is in Jesus Christ, and the mystery of sanctification is that all the perfect qualities of Jesus are at my disposal.” OSWALD CHAMBERS

Most Christians would agree with the idea that they have been “set apart” by God.  But the same “most” would have a difficult time explaining what that means in a practical, day-to-day, application to their lives. Jesus was castigated for “carousing” with sinners by the religious eplite.  (Matthew 9:12) “On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”  So being sanctified must not mean that you isolate yourself from people who are sinners. No, what it means is that you must insulate yourself from their sin.  And how do you do that?  

You see, the problem is a matter of your heart’s devotion.  Jesus was fully devoted to the will of God.  Jesus said, (John 6:38) “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me.” As we live our lives each day, we must keep our focus on the Father’s will and be faithful to it.  When Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all of our being, that does not leave room for much else. Just as you could not avoid sin before you were a Christian through your determination, you cannot avoid sin – remain insulated – through your determination now that you are a Christian. If the Word of God is not part of your daily life.  If prayer is not part of your daily life. If you fail to associate with Christians who are insulated, themselves, you are in spiritual trouble.  Sanctification is a state of spiritual being that starts in the heart and is evidenced in the way you live and what you love.   CHARLEY

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Are You In A Pit Of Despair? That Is The Place Where Faith Is Waiting

(I wrote this in February 2018 in my journal. Thought I would share it)

As I watch so many people struggle with the issues of life - the thought about the importance of faith and living by comes to me.  So much of our attitude about life is dependent upon what happens to us and around us.  Our plans fail.  We suffer loss and are disappointed.  That disappointment often leads to depression which then leads to desperation.  But, it is in that place where Faith is waiting.  A title comes to mind - "Struggling In The Pit Of Despair - The Place Where Faith Is Waiting."

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

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

John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Know Jesus, Know Peace. No Jesus, No Peace

Friday, July 20, 2018

How Would You Behave In The Presence Of God? He Is Always With You.

Those who wait on the Lord…shall walk and not faint. —Isaiah 40:31

“To “walk and not faint” is the highest stretch possible as a measure of strength. The word walk is used in the Bible to express the character of a person— “…John…looking at Jesus as He walked…said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ ” (John 1:35-36). .. Having the reality of God’s presence is not dependent on our being in a particular circumstance or place, but is only dependent on our determination to keep the Lord before us continually. Our problems arise when we refuse to place our trust in the reality of His presence. The experience the psalmist speaks of— “We will not fear, even though…” (Psalm 46:2)”  OSWALD CHAMBERS

Having an awareness of the presence of authority has an effect on behavior.  I remember words like “Mom’s coming!” or “The Teacher’s coming!” resulted in order being restored when only moments before there was chaos in the room.  When I commanded units in the Army I can remember walking into the room and someone calling the room to attention.  The commander – not to be confused with the person Charley Elgin – had just entered the room.  If you are a believer, born again by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus Christ, then there is no time that the presence of God is not with you.  And yet, we act as though the Spirit had stepped out of the room.  Why is that? I think, because we ignore His presence.  We are insensitive to it.  It’s like the teacher being in the room and the students behaving as if the teacher was not there.  Why would they do that? Because they don’t respect the authority of the teacher.  In the same way, if you don’t cultivate your spiritual nature – prayer – meditation on the Word of God – fellowship with spiritual Christians – then you will no longer acknowledge God’s authority in your life.  You don’t have to look far to see a Christian living in rebellion to the Lordship of Jesus.  

(John 14:15-17) “If you love me [Jesus], you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” Jesus said you are going to need help which is why you have the Spirit.  Don’t ignore the help you have been given. Do you love the Lord? Well, you heard Him.   CHARLEY

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Making Choices – There Are Really Only Two Options

You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. —John 13:13 

“Our Lord never insists on having authority over us. He never says, “You will submit to me.” No, He leaves us perfectly free to choose— so free, in fact, that we can spit in His face or we can put Him to death, as others have done; and yet He will never say a word. But once His life has been created in me through His redemption, I instantly recognize His right to absolute authority over me.” OSWALD CHAMBERS

I have often said that I wish menus at restaurants only had one choice. Then “I think I’ll have that” is what I would say.  So easy.  Instead I stare at a thousand choices and have no idea what I want.  All I know is that I am hungry.  Why else would I be in a restaurant?  Our new life in Christ is a bit like that.  God has purposefully given us choices.  He certainly didn’t have to.  He is the Creator.  He makes the rules. All of them good, but rules just the same.  He formed us.  He could have easily left the “choice part” out. Like our appendix.  Why put it in there if we don’t need it.  Some say because in ages past we did need it.  So it is kind of like buying a new car with an 8-track tape player in the dash.  But I digress (it’s one of my many talents!) 

God has given us the ability to choose who we will serve.  Him or the god of this world.  That would be Satan. So there are two items on our menu.  What to do.  Our flesh says pick the one that will satisfy my earthly passions.  God says pick the one that offers you what you really seek – love, joy, peace.  We are faced with this choice every day.  For the Saint, the first choice is called giving in to temptation and the second is called being obedient to the will of God.  We all struggle with choices every day.  Joshua said (Joshua 24:15) “And if it seem evil to you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” 

So what will you have to eat today?  CHARLEY

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

God’s Blessing Always Follows Obedience – Blessing Before Obedience Is Enabling

He said, "Who are You, Lord?" —Acts 9:5  

“It is not natural to obey, yet it is not necessarily sinful to disobey. … Jesus will never insist that I obey, but if I don’t …. I am backing away from the recreating power of His redemption. It makes no difference to God’s grace what an abomination I am, if I will only come to the light. But “Woe is me” if I refuse the light (see John 3:19-21).” OSWALD CHAMBERS 

“Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”  Today obedience has a negative connotation.  If your dog does not listen to you, you send the dog to obedience school. If your children misbehave, you must correct them to change their behavior.  The thing is, unlike your dog, with respect to your children there must be a heart change.  I don’t want my children to fear me and that be the reason they do what I say.  I want them to trust me and know that I only have their best interest in mind. 

That is the way it is with us and God.  Obedience is born out of trust and trust is born out of faith. I often quote (Proverbs 3:5-6) “Trust in the Lord and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” Or some translations say “make your path straight”.  In other words obey God and trust that He knows best.  And that is where the trouble begins.  It started in the Garden. Satan suggested that God wanted to deny Adam and Eve what was best.  You are faced with choices every day.  Opportunities to choose God or choose another way.  That is called temptation, by the way.  (read 1 Corinthians 10:13)  The Word says (James 4:17) “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them.”  
Listen, blessing always follows obedience. Blessing before obedience is called enabling.  Faith and obedience come first.  In Psalm 51 David wrote “a broken and contrite heart is the sacrifice that God desires.” God doesn’t need our promises.  He doesn’t need our “stuff”.  He wants to have a relationship with us.  He wants the devotion of our hearts.  When Jesus asked Peter if Peter loved him, Jesus was asking Peter if he loved Jesus enough to lay his life down for Him and others.  It’s the same question that He asks of us.  So what do you say when He says .. “Do you love Me? Then do what I say” (Luke 6:46) CHARLEY

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

God Wants To Use You As A Stepping Stone For Others On The Path To Their Salvation

My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom… —1 Corinthians 2:4

“Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the effectiveness of redemption, not by impressive speech, nor by wooing and persuading, but only by the sheer unaided power of God. The creative power of redemption comes through the preaching of the gospel, but never because of the personality of the preacher. … If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get close to Jesus Christ. “And I, if I am lifted up…, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32).” OSWALD CHAMBERS

I have often marveled at how God uses mere men and women to proclaim the Gospel to the world. But it is not the messenger but the message that brings salvation.  And not just any message.  I think we often get the “cart before the horse”.  I never precede God … The Spirit of God has preceded me.  I am but a part of the salvation process.  Paul said “Some plant and some water, but God brings the increase.”  (1 Corinthians 3:6) A seed was planted in my dad’s heart in 1951 on a hill in Korea.  A Chaplain gave him a bible with a reference to John 1:12 written on the inside cover. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—”  It was not until 1969 did he pray to receive Jesus as his savior and Lord.  Don’t think more of your role in sharing the Gospel, but then, don’t think less of it either.  In His wisdom, God has chosen to use us for the hearing of the Gospel. 

(Romans 10:14-15) “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Don’t believe for a minute that you have the power to save. At the same moment, don’t think that you telling someone about Jesus when the Spirit prompts you is not necessary.  You don’t know which stepping stone you are on the path someone takes to salvation.  But God does! CHARLEY