Friday, December 14, 2018

Understanding the “Whys” For The “Woes” Of Our Country

(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.” 

When any people lose their moral compass – the result is social chaos.  It is wrong to think that people have become more sinful.  It is right to think that people are no longer ashamed of their sin.  And as Paul wrote in Romans 1:32,  Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”  We wonder why there is so much violence in our culture and at the same time violence is portrayed on nearly every popular television show and movie. The act of killing has become more and more graphic.  One of the first video games I can remember was Duke Nukem, first released in 1991 running on MS DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System – pre-Windows).  According to  today’s standards it is crude, but it was a seed planted. 

There is something that watching violence – playing violent games does to our thinking – it is thrilling – cathartic (provides psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions).  It also “feeds” the flesh.  

This is a spiritual truth.  One that is not received by the “natural man” nor embraced by the carnal Christian.  (As I type this I come under conviction about what I consider entertainment.) I find myself making excuses for what I consider entertaining.  It is like overlooking profanity because the story line is good.  It is what I believe is at the root of the problems we see.  Man does not get better on his own.  That is why there is a Christmas

And with respect to what our focus should be – what we should be drawn to – what we should desire … (Philippians 4:4-9)  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.CHARLEY 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Gift Giving Rule – If I Am Given Then I must Give

Here is the situation.  You meet with someone – and they give you a gift for Christmas – just some trinket – not expensive.  You were not expecting it.  You are maybe a little embarrassed.  So – you apologize saying – or maybe you just think. “I am so sorry, I did not bring you a gift.”  Then start thinking about how to rectify this inequity.  Most of us don’t give to get – so most probably the person did not expect you to give them something in return.  They gave you the gift because of their great affection for you and not because of what you can do for them or give them. 

In a similar way, God has given mankind a gift.  One that no one was expecting.  One that no one can match. God gave His Son to die – so we might live. (John 3:16) But He does want something in return – He wants our heart. (Matthew 22:37) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind   (Psalm 51:16-17) “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” 

God shows us grace (getting something we don’t deserve) and wants our hearts in return.  Matt Redman wrote a beautiful song about giving God the gift that He desires.

I Will Offer Up My Life

Matt Redman 

I will offer up my life - in spirit and truth
Pouring out the oil of love, as my worship to you
In surrender I must give - my every part
Lord, receive this sacrifice of a broken heart

Jesus, what can I give, what can I bring
To so faithful a Friend, to so loving a King?
Savior, what can be said, what can be sung
As a praise of Your name for the things You have done?
Oh, my words could not tell, not even in part
Of the debt of love that is owed by this thankful heart

You deserve my every breath, for You've paid the great cost
Giving up your life to death, even death on the cross
You took all my shame away, there defeated my sin
Open up the gates of heaven and have beckoned me in

We'll bring an offering, unto You an offering
What can I, what can I, what can I sing as an offering, Lord?
Oh, what can I give, what can I bring, what can I sing as an offering, Lord?
Simply this I will offer up my life in spirit and truth
Pouring out the oil of love, as my worship to you
In surrender I must give my every part
Lord, receive this sacrifice of a broken heart

It is Christmas what gift will you bring for the great gift Giver – maybe a renewed dedication of your heart.  CHARLEY  

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

What Are You Trusting In To Make You Feel OK

(Psalm 20:7)  Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” 

There are plenty of opportunities every day to worry about your life – your wellbeing.  Many people spend their lives hopping from one worry to the next. Like stones in a stream – hoping that they don’t slip and fall into the water.

I was writing an email to my grandson this morning – about trusting God – and Psalm 20:7 came to my mind.  We have a choice about what we trust in – who we trust in.  Might be ourselves, another person, a job, a retirement account, the government – or perhaps the God of heaven.  Obviously I want to encourage you to trust in the latter. But the truth is, we are prone to trust on one or more of the former.

When you trust in God and not in “horses or chariots”, things of man’s own doing, those other things are put into proper perspective.  Security is not so much about what you have but Who has you. It is an odd phenomenon – the more we trust in God – the less the other things seem so important.  They may be necessary but not as important.  And likewise, the more we trust in other things the less important trusting God to provide seems to be. Recall yesterday’s devotion about the rich young ruler.  He could not abandon the idea that wealth was the answer to life’s problems.  His trust was not in God but other things.  

Every person struggles with where to put their trust.  It is a constant – moment by moment thing.  Life is a trust test.  Woe be to the ones who do not know God as Father.  They are left to trust in those things that they will leave behind when their life is over.  If you are born again.  On that day you entered in to an eternal relationship with the Creator God. Your life is in the palm of His hand.   But don’t just listen to me – listen to Jesus! 

(John 10:25-30) “The works I [Jesus] do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” CHARLEY 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Doing Good Things Is Just Not Good Enough

Do you remember the story about the rich young man talking to Jesus.  Let me refresh your memory. (Matthew 19:16-22) “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”   

Do you treasure something more than God?  Going to heaven – eternal security – is not about doing good things in this life.  There are a lot of people that do good things that are bound for hell.  Why? Because they lack the most important thing – faith in the One who can save them from hell.  The young man loved money and what it assured him of on earth, thinking that doing good would assure him a place in heaven. He was, apparently, not willing to give those things up.  His idea of what it takes to please God, to purchase his ticket to eternal life.

We are approaching Christmas.  What was a celebration of Jesus has become a celebration of man.  The Bible says you cannot love God and money, you will “really” love one and hate the other. (Matthew 6:24) Our culture has abandoned the reason for the season in its quest of its own definition of good and right.  Be alert lest you do the same – believing that you can do what the Bible says you cannot do.  

Glorify God with your life – love Him with your whole heart.  CHARLEY

Friday, December 7, 2018

Three Kinds Of People – Which One Are You

As you know, there are three types of people – Spiritual – Carnal – and natural.

Very often it is impossible to discern between the last two.  Paul addressed the problem of carnal living with the church in Corinth.

(1 Corinthians 3:1-3) “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?

There are some who believe that there are only two states a person can be in – Spiritual or Natural (carnal). They believe that it is possible to lose your salvation and, once again, be hell-bound. I do not – I believe that once you are adopted – nothing can change that.  Like “All sales final – No Returns”.  As Christians, we were “bought with a price.”

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 

Carnal Christians have yielded to their flesh – their old nature and no longer walk in submission to the leading of the Spirit.  Indistinguishable from those who are lost.  There are a lot of reasons why they choose to do that – none of them eternally good.  But, they are given over to their former way of life.  They may wear a smile on Sunday as they pretend to be spiritual – their hearts are far from God, and once out of the door – they take off the mask and revert to the life they prefer.  Remember the devotion from yesterday about discernment verses judgement.  Some times  when a friend or family member is living that way – their life choices become the “white elephant in the room”.  No one wants to talk about it – no one wants to offend the offender.  And if this is a child – the parent’s heart is so heavy.  We know what the “flesh” yields and it’s not good.  Reread the devotion from yesterday.

Our place is not to condemn but to encourage to repentance.  We can’t “fix” the one has stumbled in their walk with the Lord.  We can love them and encourage them but must be careful to not enable them by suggesting that the life they have chosen is OK.  Listen – this world is a dark place.  Those who used to sin in secret are now brazen – flaunting their sin – daring someone to say it is wrong – ready to condemn them as intolerant.  Actually it is God who is intolerant with respect to sin.  He will never say it is OK.  We all need spiritual understanding – spiritual perspective – spiritual strength – spiritual wisdom. That only comes from the Spirit of God. 

Oh – and if you choose to talk about the elephant that is lounging on your sofa – don’t expect to be embraced.  In your unwillingness to accept a carnal lifestyle as OK, you may face rejection as a penalty for standing for Truth and as a ploy to convince you to yield to the idea that carnal living is acceptable – at least for those you care about.

So what do you do – treat them as if they are carnal.  How do you do that?  The same way you treat the majority of the people you meet – work with – spend time with.  You are not “in their face” over their sin – but you don’t participate in it.  Remember – Jesus spent time with sinners but did not sin.  He was insulated not isolated.  Christmas is approaching – be salt and light to those who have wandered and to those who remain slaves to sin. CHARLEY 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Knowing How To Confront Sin Without Judgement

Have you ever had someone say to you or you say to someone else “Don’t judge me?” Sometimes it is because you are being critical of someone – other times it is because that someone is feeling guilty or ashamed, or both, for what they have done.

So what is our responsibility as Christians with respect to other Christians and other people, for that matter, when it comes to addressing sinful behavior? Well, as my second Dad would say, “Let’s see what the Bible has to say about it.”

With respect to other Christians (Matthew 18:15-17) "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Sin is not a trivial thing.  Today, you might well be told “It is none of your business!” But … as members of the Body of Christ – that is not what the Word says – it is very much our spiritual business.  Is this practiced much in local churches – I suspect not so much – I have never seen it - ever. Instead even blatant sin is tolerated so as not to offend.  If a Christian refuses to repent then they are living after their flesh and not the Spirit – you cannot relate to them spiritually less they repent – it is like being with a lost person. But …. Take care … 

(Luke 6:42) “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

In Matthew 18 the assumption is that you, yourself, are clean before the Lord  - no sin from which you have not repented before you approach another Christian.  Jesus addressed those who might consider their transgressions is superfluous when compared to the egregious sins of another Christian. Don’t deceive yourself … 

The Apostle James wrote (James 2:10) “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” That is not to say that the consequences of some sins are not greater than those of another. But we need to be careful that we don’t minimize sins – rank order them to find that some are above and some are below the line of acceptability.  (Luke 18:9-14) “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.””

The Pharisee was just like the tax collector – born into sin.  He was convinced that clean living and good works made him right before God – but it is faith that does that – a broken and contrite heart – just like the tax collector.

Ok so here is where discernment and judgement come in.  Recognizing sin and calling it out as sin is not judging.  We are not the judge – we do not condemn – Only the Lord can and will do that.  But at the same time we are not to ignore sin.  By confronting Christians who are sinning – we are encouraging them to repent and trun their hearts back to the Father.  If you are rebuked well that will ultimately lead to your not treating them as Christians – that does not mean you don’t love them.  It means you don’t enable their sin by ignoring it or worse condoning it.  Remember – this is about Christians – not someone who is lost.  That is for another devotion … 

As I write this, I know that you have people in your life that are struggling .. who have turned away .. I know that some people – people we care about avoid us because they have wandered from the faith and living like the rest of the world.  We can pray for them.  Love them.  But we will never say “it is ok” whatever that might be.  And it may mean that we are separated from them, hopefully for only a season, but we cannot compromise our faith to make someone feel better about their sin.  It is very difficult at times – especially when it is family.  It is a struggle between the Spirit and the Flesh.  You need Jesus to not fall yourself. CHARLEY 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Finding The Sweet Spot In Your Christian Life.

(1 Corinthians 12:12) “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

(1 Corinthians 12:27) “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 

When we are born again, we are given a place in the body of Christ. A role to fulfill.  I was thinking about being in the military – the Army specifically. Everyone wears the same uniform.  There is a code of conduct – rules and decorum that are to be followed by everyone.  But there are also military specialties – communications – aviation – infantry – armor – artillery – supply – transportation – and specific roles and areas of expertise in each of those. 

As Paul points out in 1 Corinthians – each Christian has a place or role as well.  The challenge is to understand it – embrace it and fulfill it.  Some Christians never get past wearing the uniform – as if that is good enough.  I am certain that you have seen people, specifically men, wearing hats that indicate they are veterans having served in one of the branches of the military. And, perhaps, even during a conflict.  I have the hats, but don’t wear them.  I am proud of my service – don’t get me wrong.  I served in Vietnam as a PFC radio operator with the Advisors in the Mekong Delta. I served in Desert Storm in 3rd Army Aviation Operations as a Major, flew 3 different helicopters (not in Desert Storm), Hueys, Cobras, Chinooks.  Was a maintenance test pilot in Cobras.  Commanded twice.  Received a Masters of Military Science from the Command and General Staff College.  Impressed yet? I cannot take credit for my abilities – I know that they all are a gift from God.  I may have honed my skills through diligence, but God created me the way He did – purposed my life for His glory – not mine. 

So back to the guys wearing the hats – I talked with one guy once who wore a Vietnam Vet hat.  When I asked where he served, he told me with some hesitation that he was on a ship off of the coast of Vietnam, but never actually set foot on Vietnamese soil.  I could see that although he wore the hat – he was unsure about talking to and comparing himself to someone who had waded through rice paddies. But, I did not judge him – he was willing to serve – where he served was up to the Navy.  There were Navy River patrol boats stationed with us. It could have been his assignment.  And listen – I am by no means disrespecting men and women who served but not directly in harm’s way.  I have the highest respect for them. In fact when we (me and my family) were on active duty I said “Washington cuts the orders but God makes the assignments”. (Proverbs 16:9

The bottom line – It does not matter if you are in a foxhole staring down the barrels of the enemy’s guns or are on a ship floating in the ocean out of range from any enemy attack – serve faithfully where God has put you.  We are not all the same – by God’s design. But – we are all part of the Body and serve the same Lord.  If you are on that ship – you are right where God wants you – so serve proudly and with every ounce of your ability.  Live in the sweet spot that God has prepared for you. To the glory of God. CHARLEY 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

When You Face The Lions Do You Speak The Truth In Love – Or Not Speak At All?

I was reading some posts on Facebook early this morning – 4:30ish.  It was about a Christian singer who was on the show Ellen. I am certain that everyone reading this knows that Ellen is gay. At any rate the singer was put on the spot about what she believed concerning homosexuals – is it right or wrong.  The singer dodged the question.  The posts were critical saying that the singer had compromised her witness and influenced Christian followers of her music in the wrong way.

First – this singer absolutely knew that the issue of the rightness of the gay lifestyle was looming large on that show.  She should have been prepared before she walked into the lion’s den.  Second - That those how practice that lifestyle want others to accept it as an “OK” life choice. That anyone who disagrees with it being “OK” is a homophobe and a bad, intolerant person. My thought was – would any of those condemning the singer, if they had been in her place - what would they have done? My guess – few would have been bold enough to stand on the Word of God.

Which gets me to the point of this devotion.  Are you – am I – willing to face the lions – our culture – and stand by what the Word says about sin and right living – certainly the Bible is clear about homosexuality – but also about a myriad of other sins. 

(Romans 3:23) “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus died so that all sinners might be made righteous through faith and restored to God – born again by the Spirit.  

Paul describes what you see happening in our culture today in Romans 1 – (Romans 1:28-32) “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

The challenge is – how should we live in a world that calls evil or sin – good and good – evil? What should we say – what should we do.  Love the sinner and hate the sin? We are not the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit convicts the world of its sin.  What we need to do is be salt and light in a dark world and culture.  That singer was “set up” by the person who asked the question. Of course they knew what the Bible says about homosexuality.  What they really wanted to know was – was she willing to compromise her faith to find acceptability in that place among those people with their beliefs. Are you?  It is not necessary to be confrontational – but it is to not be ashamed of your faith.  When Peter denied Jesus – he did so because he lacked the courage to embrace Him even to the point of being condemned with Him. When Peter stood before the religious leaders and proclaimed who Jesus is – he showed great courage.  Why – because of the Spirit in him.  

It is the same for us.  You have the Spirit of God in you … so I say live and walk in the power of the Spirit and not your flesh –Trust that the Lord will give you the wisdom to know what to do when you face the lions.  CHARLEY 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Are Your Really Willing To Lay Your Life Down

(Luke 19:23) “Then he [Jesus] said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 

(Luke 14:26,27)  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

This past Sunday the pastor of the church we attend in Texas said that his faith is much more than being associated with a denomination – he is a Christ follower.  Do you consider yourself a “Christ follower”?  A follower in the sense that Jesus laid out in the verses I quoted?  Are you really willing to deny yourself – your cultural conventions – the traditions of your fathers – the things that seem right and not to do them would be wrong?  

Martie and I are travelling that path.  What brought this thinking on was the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  We plan to spend both with family – but … that is for two weeks out of the year.  The rest of the time we are in Texas serving other people.  People we don’t even know.  I am not looking for praise and admiration for what we do.  My hope is that you will see beyond family separation to be separated in your devotion from the things of this world and desire more what God has said is better.

What we do is not something that God calls everyone to do.  Some have criticized us for leaving our family.  That’s OK. Although other opinions of Christians are helpful in discerning the voice of God – their opinions are not the only factor – the Word – Prayer and Circumstances are also part of the equation. Ultimately – each of us is responsible to God for our choices and actions.  We rest in God’s sovereignty and confidence that when we follow – difficult as it may be – we are on the right path – nad He has noting but the best in mind for us.

You may not think about this much in terms of your own life.  You may not be asked to do what we do.  To lay down what we have laid down in order to serve Him where He sends us.  He may not send you anywhere – but expects you to be salt and light right where you are.  

A final thought. A sacrifice is not a sacrifice if it doesn’t cost you something.  If you give out of your excess – what is that? No, it must cost you.  That is where many Christians falter – it might be a relationship – a job – a hobby – past-time – lifestyle – a treasure - whatever – it is something that you value and would prefer to keep, but the Lord says – lay it down at the foot of the Cross.  Are you willing? You already know what it is. CHARLEY