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

Monday, July 16, 2018

Living Like The God of Heaven Is With You, Because He is. Whom Or What Shall You Fear? No One and Nothing!

…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! —Matthew 7:11 

“Fill your mind with the thought that God is there. And once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you experience difficulties it will be as easy as breathing for you to remember, “My heavenly Father knows all about this!” This will be no effort at all, but will be a natural thing for you when difficulties and uncertainties arise.”  OSWALD CHAMBERS

So you sitting somewhere reading this.  Are you aware of the clothes that you are wearing?  I know that you know you are dressed, but do you feel the clothes?  Do you have a constant awareness of them?  Probably not.  Well, maybe the pants that are too tight around the waist or the shoes that look good but are “killing” your feet .. but they look good! My point is this.  God is sovereign.  One of His attributes is that He is omnipresent.  That word is not used much from the pulpits these days.  It means He is everywhere all the time.  You are sealed on the day of your salvation with the Holy Spirit.  (Ephesians 1:13-14) “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”  That has given you a constant connection with God.  You no longer have to go to the temple to seek God.  You are the temple. (1 Corinthians 6:19) “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” Where the Spirit was once in the Holy of Holies, the Spirit is now in us.  And as if that is not enough! (Romans 8:26) “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”  

God has made provision for us.  He is present even if we don’t feel His presence. There is nothing in your life that God is not aware of and bigger than.  He will be with you in the fire.  He will be with you when you are surrounded by troubles which would devour you.  He will be with you when your enemies number in the thousands.  When you stand before the giants.  When He leads you into unknown places.  God is always there! So rejoice and be glad!  (Joshua 1:9) “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” CHARLEY

Friday, July 13, 2018

Do You Love God Or Do You Only Like God – How You Live Will Tell

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord… —Isaiah 6:1

“What I need is God’s surgical procedure— His use of external circumstances to bring about internal purification. Your priorities must be God first, God second, and God third, until your life is continually face to face with God and no one else is taken into account whatsoever.” OSWALD CHAMBERS 

If I were to tell you that You must love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, you would most certainly nod your head in agreement or maybe even shout amen.  Actually Jesus said that.  Read Matthew 22:37-39.  He said that all the law .. the essence of the direction that God has given us .. the foundation of our life with respect to God and man is summed up in two commands … Love God, first and love others next.  As you well know, that level of relationship is not automatic .. you can’t just flip a switch.  It requires that each of us lay our own life down - daily.  There is an old hymn that goes “All to Jesus I surrender.  All to Him I freely give.  I will ever love and trust Him.  In His presence daily live.”  In John 21 Jesus asked Peter, three times, “Do you love me?”  Recall Peter denied Jesus three times before Jesus’ crucifixion.  We need to be careful about our attitude toward Peter – wondering “How could Peter deny his relationship with Jesus so easily?”  We should be careful lest we go the “way  of Peter”.  When Peter denied Jesus he feared men more than God.  Remember, Peter was on his own at that point.  After Pentecost, Peter was filled with the Spirit of God.  The same Spirit that inhabits every Believer.  What God asks you to do, you cannot do on your own … it is spiritual that manifests itself in the natural.  We look at the natural … everyday living … as if it is separate from the spiritual .. it is not.  

Everything we do, think, speak, and desire must be in the context of who God is and our love for Him.  God’s expectation for that level of devotion is not reserved for the super-saints or the zealots …. It’s for me and for you.  You want to know what’s missing in your new life?  At the root, it’s the level of your love for God. CHARLEY

Thursday, July 12, 2018

When You Have A Heart For God You Have Humility Before God And Man

“We are not here to develop a spiritual life of our own, or to enjoy a quiet spiritual retreat. We are here to have the full realization of Jesus Christ, for the purpose of building His body. Am I building up the body of Christ, or am I only concerned about my own personal development? The essential thing is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ— “…that I may know Him…” (Philippians 3:10). To fulfill God’s perfect design for me requires my total surrender— complete abandonment of myself to Him. Whenever I only want things for myself, the relationship is distorted. And I will suffer great humiliation once I come to acknowledge and understand that I have not really been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ Himself, but only concerned with knowing what He has done for me.” OSWALD CHAMBERS

I met a guy yesterday while I was working on a house in Houston.  He had come to measure for replacement windows. As it turned out, he owned the business.  One of the first things you notice about this particular guy is that he is very strong .. Arnold Schwarzenegger strong.  It is obvious that he spends a lot of time in the gym.  Getting past that and the unspoken challenge to your own manhood, the next thing you notice is that he is very kind.  As we talked, I learned that he was a man of faith and a Brother in Christ. When I posted a picture of us on Facebook someone commented about his biceps. That is because they are disproportionately large for his stature.  But what you could not see on Facebook was the size of his heart and the depth of his faith in the Lord. Although he obviously was concerned about building up his body, He was more concerned about the Body of Christ.  He told me that he would not charge anything for the windows or the labor - it was a gift for Mrs. Smith, the home owner.  When I mentioned he might be recognized for it, he balked at the thought.  Why? Because with his heart from God comes humility before God.  In Micah 6:8 the question is asked “What does the Lord require of you, oh man?”  then the answer.  “But to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

If we do anything for God then we should be ready to give all the credit to God.  My new friend spoke a lot about God’s grace.  Unmerited favor.  He was shown grace in his life and was showing grace to others.  Showing grace and mercy to others will cost you something .. but when your heart is right, it is a price you will gladly pay.  (John 15:13) “No greater love has one man than this, but to lay down his life for his friends.”  That is not a simple act of benevolence .. it is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1-2). CHARLEY

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Struggling In The Pit Of Despair, A Place Where Faith Is Waiting

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.… —Hebrews 11:1

As I watch so many people struggle in this life, in my family and those we serve on the mission field – my thoughts come to the issue of faith and living by it.  So much of our attitude  about our life and its quality, about contentment and a sense of satisfaction, is dependent upon what happens or does not happen to us and the people we care about. Our plans fail.  We suffer loss and are disappointed which leads to depression, and perhaps even desperation.  But that is where Faith is waiting.  The capital “F” is not a typo. The Faith I am talking about is the Faith that comes from Heaven not something that you must up - stiff upper lip and all that. Faith is having confidence in the One who is Faithful.  Even when all of your senses tell you that certain  doom is looming. That the situation is hopeless.

To have faith and hope in the midst of a crisis makes no earthly sense. The pre-condition of faith is not that it makes sense, but confidence, hope, and peace through faith will always stand in defiance of “common sense” and human understanding.   The root 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 planet and you will not float off into space one day.  Once you are able to grasp that, to believe it, to embrace it, the result will be peace in the midst of any storm that might come your way.  That my friend is a promise of God. 

(Philippians 4:4-7)  “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.”  Charley

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

We Don’t Fulfill Our Purpose In The Bowl But In The Pan

Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together… —Hebrews 10:24-25

“The true test of our spirituality occurs when we come up against injustice, degradation, ingratitude, and turmoil , all of which have the tendency to make us spiritually lazy…. We use God only for the sake of getting peace and joy. We seek only our enjoyment of Jesus Christ, not a true realization of Him. … The real danger in spiritual laziness is that we do not want to be stirred up— all we want to hear about is a spiritual retirement from the world.” OSWALD CHAMBERS

Why do you think we need to be stirred up?  I recently started making crepes for my wife, Martie.  I do it because she loves them and, well, I love her.  Pretty simple really … not making the crepes … I mean the reason I make them.  When I put all of the ingredients into the bowl, they just sit there.  If I poured them immediately into the pan, trust me, Martie would not be happy with the result.   I must stir them .. whip them .. until the texture is right .. then I have to let them sit or set, I always get that wrong, for 15 minutes. Then I can put them into the pan to become what they were intended to be.  Something wonderful.

Chambers uses the term “lazy” to describe the ingredients just sitting in the bowl before they are stirred together.  The writer of Hebrews – most believe it was Paul , some Luke, Martin Luther thought it might be Apollos – the writer says that the Saints must be stirred up to love and good works.  That suggests that it is not our nature.  We need encouragement from the Lord, certainly, by the Spirt absolutely, but also from one another.  (Proverbs 27:17) “As iron sharpens iron, so one “Christian” sharpens another”.  [I changed the word from man to Christian] We need someone behind the spoon, as it were, to get us moving.  To be what God purposed us to be.  Not “merely” saved for our place in eternity, but engaged in God’s purpose on earth through good works produced by faith.  We are to encourage one another.  We are not on this earthly journey alone.  We were born again not to hide in a cave.  Not to isolate ourselves hoping to somehow live a trouble-free life. Jesus said “I came to serve, not to be served” (Matthew 20:28)  “If you want to be great in God’s Kingdom you must be a servant of all.” (Matthew 20:26) So what are you waiting for?  Your 15 minutes are up!  Charley

Monday, July 9, 2018

How To Avoid A Failing Faith

Joshua said to the people, "You cannot serve the Lord…" —Joshua 24:19

“Will you examine yourself by asking these probing questions? It really is true to say, “I cannot live a holy life,” but you can decide to let Jesus Christ make you holy. “You cannot serve the Lord…”— but you can place yourself in the proper position where God’s almighty power will flow through you.” OSWALD CHAMBERS

All to often Christians live as if they think that they need the power of God through Jesus to be saved but they don’t need the power of God to live their new life in Christ.  (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.  You cannot live your new life on your own.  Living without making a daily connection with the Father through the Spirit by faith in Jesus. If you think that going to church on Sunday and then immersing yourself in a lost culture is sufficient, think again friend.  Doing that means that you are on a certain path to spiritual failure.  God wants to conform you into the image of his son (Romans 8:29)  His intent is that you be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2) But, if you fill your mind with and your treasure in your heart the things of this world instead … Well need I say more.

Dwell on the following verses this morning and then be intentional to obey it … for the rest of your life and let the transformation begin!  Someone once said “You only believe the part of the Bible you obey.” Charley

(Philippians 4:8-9) “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”  

Friday, July 6, 2018

Are You Pursuing The Vision God Has Given You?

The parched ground shall become a pool… —Isaiah 35:7

“We always have a vision of something before it actually becomes real to us. When we realize that the vision is real, but is not yet real in us, Satan comes to us with his temptations, and we are inclined to say that there is no point in even trying to continue. […] God gives us a vision…. Every God-given vision will become real if we will only have patience. He is never in a hurry. Yet we are always in such a frantic hurry.”  OSWALD CHAMBERS  

Do you believe that God would give you a vision?  Or is that something that you have relegated to Biblical characters or super-saints, but not to you?  I believe that God has given us all a heavenly vision … perhaps not like Paul when God took him to the third heaven – (2 Corinthians 12:2-4) “ I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—  was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.”    However, on the day that you said “yes” to Jesus and were born again, you were given a heavenly vision.  Your spiritual eyes were opened and you became aware of a new reality .. an eternal one.  You saw the possibility and, at the same time, the impossibility of your new life in Christ.  You experienced a joy that you had never known. 

I can recall many experiences in my life, but over time most of the details have become blurred.  That is the way it can be with our faith as well.  God is no less God.  The Spirit is still in us.  But time, spiritual neglect, and the constant attraction of the things of this world have caused the vision to fade.  Friend, I want to encourage you to be spiritually refreshed.  God’s purpose and plan for you was laid before the foundation of the visible creation.  

(Romans 8:28-30) “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”   Charley

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Christian - Your Circumstances Don’t Define You .. Nor Does Your Past

"Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." —Psalm 37:5

“We get ourselves into circumstances that were not chosen by God, and suddenly we realize that we have been making our plans without Him— that we have not even considered Him to be a vital, living factor in the planning of our lives. And yet the only thing that will keep us from even the possibility of worrying is to bring God in as the greatest factor in all of our planning. In spiritual issues it is customary for us to put God first, but we tend to think that it is inappropriate and unnecessary to put Him first in the practical, everyday issues of our lives.”  OSWALD CHAMBERS

Something that I noticed as I was driving along the interstate … there are a lot of people around me that I don’t know and will never know.  (Brilliant deduction you are thinking!) Each one has a personal life with personal relationships.  Some have money troubles and some do not.  Some have broken hearts and some do not.  Without hope.  Each has a unique set of circumstances shaped by seemingly random events …  some of those events out of their control and some not.  But is that really the case?  I can say with confidence .. yes and no.  Yes, if you are lost and bound for hell … But it is not the case if you have been born again by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus.  You are not just one of the rats  … you have a unique distinction … in this rat race that we call life on earth.

Our struggles comes when we live like we are just like those on this planet who are not born again when it comes to our daily choices and manner of living and relating.  Listen, you are always a Christian no matter what is going on around you.  God is always your Father .,. Jesus is always your Savior … The Spirit is always in you … the Word is always true and applies to every life situation .. every second of your life on this planet and every moment into eternity. You must embrace that to live with hope and not despair.  Jesus said “I came that you might have life” (John 10:10)  Living above your circumstances .. enduring in the face of trouble .. having hope when the situation seems hopeless … it’s all yours … it’s within your grasp .. but not if you disregard the One who is the source of hope.  Living like all of those around you.  Think about it.  Charley

"Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." —Psalm 37:5

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Insanity Of Trying To Hide Your Sins From God

Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips… —Isaiah 6:5

“Our conviction (of sin) is focused on our specific sin, and we realize, as Isaiah did, what we really are. This is always the sign that a person is in the presence of God. The effect of Isaiah’s vision of the holiness of the Lord was the directing of his attention to the fact that he was “a man of unclean lips.” The cleansing fire had to be applied where the sin had been concentrated.”  OSWALD CHAMBERS

After Adam and Eve sinned and God came to the Garden, they hid from Him. What made them think they could hide from the creator God?  We all do the same thing.  We sin and then hide it inside from the view of those around us and believe even from the knowing of God.  In doing so we live a life of self-deception.  God knows our hearts .. (Jeremiah 17:9-10) “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind…” We may be able to deceive other people .. hide our sin from them .. but not from God.  And why doesn't that bother us?  Why do we continue to life that life?  Because we do not understand God’s nature nor love Him with our whole heart.  We find that it is easier to live a life filled with sin, submitted to the leading of our old nature.  And why? Because living any other way requires that you agree with God, confess your sin to Him and yield your will to Him. 

So many Christians live in fear.  They fear what they cannot control .. that, in itself,  is an indicator that their self-will is dominate .. that they, like Adam and Eve, want to be like God and decide what is the best way to live and relate.  Listen – If you have the Spirit of God in you .. and if you have been born again, you do … then you will never be happy .. be content .. be at peace .. until you surrender your will and say “Here am I Lord, a person with unclean lips … cleanse me Lord” And He will .. He promised.  We find eternal restoration through Jesus … and sanctification though the Spirit.  Jesus said it this way. (Matthew 23:25-26)  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean”  These guys looked good on the outside to men but were full of sin on the inside - and God knew it!

You can’t be clean by trying harder … only by giving up and yielding to God.  Charley

Monday, July 2, 2018

How You Can Jump In The Deep End With Your Eyes Open

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also…. likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. —Luke 14:26-27, 33

“If the closest relationships of a disciple’s life conflict with the claims of Jesus Christ, then our Lord requires instant obedience to Himself. Discipleship means personal, passionate devotion to a Person— our Lord Jesus Christ. … To be a disciple is to be a devoted bondservant motivated by love for the Lord Jesus. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are not truly devoted to Jesus Christ.” OSWALD CHAMBERS

What are you willing to give up for your faith .. to follow Jesus in obedience to what He has called you to do?  Do you remember the first time you did something even though you were afraid to do it?  Maybe jumping into a swimming pool at the deep end.  With your eyes open! That is a trivial example, but doing that required you to go against what your mind was telling you not to do.  In a similar way, we face that battle when the Lord calls us to do something that our mind is telling us not to do.  Jesus did not say you must hate your family and friends.  He did say your love for them as compared to your love for Him should look like hate because there is such a huge difference between them. God  will always ask you to jump into the deep end of the pool … trusting Him alone.  He will and does ask you to abandon your earthly affections in favor of your heavenly ones.  Each of us know exactly what those are in our lives.  Maybe it means to leave your nets and the family business like Peter and John.  Maybe to stop associating with some people or stop doing some things.  It’s different for each of us but requires the same faith by all of us.

You can’t do what God asks of you on your own.  God never asks you to do anything for Him on your own.  He says follow My Son.  When you jump into the pool you are holding Jesus’ hand.  Oh, that just reminded me of a song … please indulge me for a moment ..   Charley

“As I travel through this pilgrim land .. There is a friend who walks with me

Leads me safely through the sinking sand … It is the Christ at Calvary

This would be my prayer, dear Lord, each day .. You help me do the best I can

For I need Thy light to guide me day and night … Blessed Jesus, hold my hand

Jesus, hold my hand … For I need Thee every hour

Through this pilgrim land … Protect me by Thy power

Hear my feeble plea O Lord, look down on me

When I kneel in prayer I hope to meet You there

Blessed Jesus, hold my hand” Albert E. Brumley, Jr.