Friday, August 31, 2018

Who Is Your Daddy?

(2 Corinthians 5:17) “If anyone is in Christ, they  are a new creation.  Old things have passed away, all things are becoming new" 

If you are not familiar with this verse from reading your Bible, I know you are if you had read my BLOG.  I had a conversation the other day about the influence of parents, and other relatives, on what we think and what we do. Often times that influence is good.  But – other times it is not so good.  I remember my dad talking to me once telling me not to smoke cigarettes, all the while he was puffing away.  Dr. James Dobson from Focus on the Family said “Values are caught, they are not taught.”  At the time, I thought there must be something “right” about smoking otherwise, why would he be doing it?  We look to our parents for an indication of how we should live and relate to others.  When we become teenagers, peer pressure not parent pressure becomes dominant.  Still, the point is not whether it is right or wrong, but is it what the people we admire do.  

(Ephesians 1:3-6) “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he [God] predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” 

(1 John 3:1) “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” 

Do you see the connection between 2 Corinthians and Ephesians and 1 John?  Your Father is now God – the Creator if you have been born again.  What that means is that you should be looking to Him for the answer to the question – “How should I live my life.” And – “What is right and what is wrong.”  The problem is that we have a hard time shaking lose of the world’s influence.  It really gets down to a question of devotion. 

Jesus told the young man to let the “dead bury the dead” when he first wanted to bury his father before following Jesus.  Jesus told the disciples that the people in the room with Him were his mother and brothers when He was told that Mary and his brothers were at the door wanting to see him.  God is not saying stop loving your father or mother or brother or sister.  He is saying – “Love me more – love me first”  That means that you will have to abandon some beliefs and habits that are associated with people you care about. 

Let me leave you with this verse to think about.  (Matthew 16:24-26) “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” 

Do you really want to follow Jesus?  Then you will have to leave some things behind.  What are you clinging to that you know is contrary to the will of your Father in heaven?  Think about it and I pray that you will choose well. CHARLEY

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Rejoice In Your Service, But Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20 

Every now and again, we all have an opportunity to experience something supernatural.  The movement of the Spirit of God.  Some mighty act of God precipitated through us or through someone else.  We are amazed and perhaps derive a sense of great joy – like the disciples.  But we must be careful – like the disciples.  It is very easy to lose focus on the God who is the source of all spiritual power and focus on the event that is the result of that spiritual power.   And perhaps, even attribute credit to yourself or to someone else and not to the Source.  

A question that is very often asked of volunteer mission teams at the end of their trips is “What did you get out of your time here?”  A simple question, but it focuses on the wrong point of the mission trip.  Maybe a better  question might be, “What did God reveal to you during your time here?” I have people give me credit for my service all the time.  It is easy to begin to think that somehow I am the reason some good happened.  But, in fact, the source of the “good” was God, not my abilities.  God is the source of my abilities as well.  Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in what they were doing, but in why they were able to do it.  

Listen.  It is OK to feel good about yourself.  But we must be careful that we don’t take credit for something that someone else, namely God, did through us.  Certainly the world does not understand that. And that lack of understanding presents you with an opportunity to give God the glory.  

And about that feeling.  I was talking to someone the other day.  He was telling me about how he had helped someone in need.  He said “It made me feel good inside.” I told him the feeling he had was not “Good” but “Right”.  When we are obedient to God’s leading and will, we have a sense of “Right”.  That can be easily mistaken for good and that can be easily mis-attributed to our own action and credit.  Like the doing of a good thing somehow vindicates us – making us good.  Right – is what it feels like to be walking in obedience to the will of the Father.  Out of obedience springs the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace …. The result of that, in our flesh, is most often the human emotion of feeling good.  

It’s OK to have that feeling.  What is not Ok is taking credit for it.  Make certain that in all you do for God that you give credit where credit is due.  And you can feel good about that!  CHARLEY

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

What To Do When The World Treats You Badly

I was talking with someone the other day.  I thought we had a good relationship.  That we saw the world in the same way – from God’s perspective.  That we understood that we each were devoted to living for Christ.  Then, out of the blue, they suggest that I was acting with wrong motive, a lack of integrity. The feeling that flooded in was indignation.  What they had suggested was the farthest thing from the truth.  I could feel the “old man” wanting to rise up. I know that my tone changed, even though I controlled my tongue.  

Has that ever happened to you?  Being falsely accused is painful.  It’s one thing to have done wrongly and then be found out.  It is quite another to have done nothing wrong, but accused all the same.  Jesus said (Matthew 5:11-12) “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” And that is what they did to Jesus as well.  So you want to be known as a Jesus follower.  You want to do the will of the Father. Are you willing to suffer like Jesus did? Or are you “in this” for the good stuff only?  

In verses 13-16, Jesus went on to say that we are to be salt and light.  The habitation of the Spirit of God makes it possible to respond to the world – even when there is injustice perpetrated against you – in a way that glorifies God.  It means that you must lay your pride and ego on the altar.  You must resist the temptation to “strike back”.  Listen it is one thing to not do something but feel it in your heart.  It is another thing to not do something and have compassion for the person giving offense. 

Sin is birthed from the heart not the hand or the mouth.  The Apostle John said that if you hate you are guilty of murder.  (1 John 3:15)  Jesus said if you have lustful thoughts about a person of the opposite sex, who is not your spouse, you are guilty of adultery.  (Matthew 5:27-28) You don’t have to act on the thought to have sinned.  It is when you resist the thought and submit to the Spirit that you are salt and light.  Showing grace and mercy is a spiritual act and is contrary to the nature of your flesh.

It is not something that you can do by trying to control yourself.  You will be successful only if you stop trying and start trusting. So what did I do?  There was a struggle in my heart. The “old man” wanted to rise up, but he did not, by the grace of God. Instead, I followed up our conversation with a text telling them that I understood that they had significant responsibility and a difficult job to do.  

You see, it was really not about me.  It was about the stress of the responsibility they had to bear.  Had I made an issue of it out of pride and a feeling that I needed to vindicate myself, I would have done harm.  Oh, my flesh would have “felt” better, but there would have been no salt and light.  

Life is full of opportunities for you to show Jesus to the world. But, you have to be ready and you have to be willing.  Are you?  CHARLEY

Friday, August 24, 2018

What To Do When You Don’t Get What You Want

Perhaps one of the most abused or misused verses in the Bible is in Matthew chapter 7. 

(Matthew 7:7-11) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

If I want it than God will give it to me.  If He doesn’t, I will be upset with God because I have decided I need what I asked for.  Actually there are a few reasons that I see that might affect God’s answer to your prayer.

First.  You have failed to examine your heart.  You have some un-confessed sin tucked away in the corner of your heart.  You have decided that the sin doesn’t matter.  That you can stand before a holy God even though you have quenched the Spirit with the sin that you are embracing.  Yes, you are a child of God.  Washed in the blood.  But you need to clear the air … approach God with clean hands and a clean heart. (Psalm 24:3-5) “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” 

Second. In God’s wisdom, there is a better answer to your prayer than the one that you have decided is the best one.  This is a test of submission to the will of the Father.  Are you really committed to seeking His will or is it only when His will agrees with yours? 

Third.  As the King James Version says “You ask amiss”.  (James 4:2-3) “You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.  Is it your flesh, your old nature, that you are seeking to satisfy? 

If everything is for God’s glory, why are His answers not good enough when you don’t get what you asked for? If God’s will for you is for your good and His glory, then the test is, can you trust God even when He is silent.  When you don't get what you asked for.  God is not here to serve us.  It is quite the opposite.  Even grocery stores are delivering what they sell to homes.  You nearly don’t have to leave the house.  But God does not take delivery orders.  It is so very important that we have the right view toward God.  Unlike the new TV show, God does not want to “friend you” on Facebook!  He is not your buddy.  He is the creator God who sacrificed His Son that you might be adopted and eternally blessed – for His glory and for your good.  We all should keep that in mind when we approach Him in prayer. CHARLEY

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Jesus Loves You

 I had to get started on the house early today so let me just say this

Jesus loves us this I know for the Bible tells me so. We are weak but he is strong.

Have a great day today! Charley

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

Have you ever heard that expression? Normally the phrase is used to raise an awareness of a contribution or act performed by someone who praises were yet unsung.  Most everyone wants to know they have value and are favored by others.  In a world that is dominated by “bad news”, the acknowledgement and even glamorizing of the evil that prevails, to hear of good things is rare.  Micah 6:8 asks this rhetorical question and then provides the answer. 

(Micah 6:8) “What does the Lord require of you, O man. But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  So, walking humbly is what I am addressing this morning.  It is OK that people recognize your achievements, your character, your acts of kindness.  As Christians, we are to walk humbly.  To walk humbly means to live with an awareness that God is the source of all good things.  If you have any ability, it is because God formed you that way.  You may nurture that ability and apply it, but its source is God.  (Ephesians 2:10) “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Now and again, people may want to recognize you for your good works.  The natural world has no spiritual discernment, so they see acts of kindness as being the same.  To give God the credit.  To give Him the glory. Well, “isn’t that special!” As a matter of fact it is.  To give God the credit when you are praised is not false humility.  It is the real deal.  (Psalm 96:3) “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” 

We have the amazing opportunity to see God at work.  People may marvel at the work done, but without spiritual eyes, they will not have understanding that God is at work.  It will seem like an amazing coincidence.  Or perhaps that act of an amazing person.  When in fact it is because of an amazing God.  

The bottom line on the bottom line is this.  Be careful that you don’t rob God of His glory. Give all glory to Him.  Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel and Christoph Graupner would signify that the work was produced for the sake of praising God with “Soli Deo Gloria”. That should be at the heart of every act – everything we do. 

That is one of the 5 Solas of the Reformation.  

Sola Scriptura  - “Scripture Alone” : The Bible alone is our highest authority.
Sola Fide - “Faith Alone” : We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
Sola Gratia - “Grace Alone” :  We are saved by the grace of God alone.
Solus Christus – “Christ Alone : Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
Soli Deo Gloria – “To the Glory of God Alone”) : We live for the glory of God alone.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Is There A Problem With Going To Church?

To answer the question.  It depends.  I have had two recent conversations, one on social media and the other in person, only yesterday. The both were alarming to me and reminded me of a spiritual truth.  

The first.  The person was talking to me about their spiritual angst and the feeling that they needed to draw closer to God.  When I asked to tell me about their conversion, when they became a Christian, they shared all of the churches they have attended and the many things they did while they were attending.  Good things.  The second.  The guy was clearly on the edge of things.  He had been in prison, on drugs, divorced, homeless.  But with all of that, I sensed he had a good heart .. seeking God.  He attended church, but in the course of our conversation it was clear that he knew little about the Faith. He told me that a priest had prayed for him and told him that he “was good to go”.  He did not have to worry about his salvation.  I told him that salvation is personal, between the person and God.  No one can do it for another person.

Perhaps you know people like this.  People with good hearts.  People who do good things or, at least, want to do good things.  When Jesus met Nicodemus that night, Jesus told him “you must be born again”  (John 3:3-9) “Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.”    

Nicodemus didn’t understand.  He thought he was doing all of the right things.  But something was not right.  Just like for the two people that I talked with.  (1 Corinthians 1:22-24) “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”   The Jews thought they had it all figured out, but Jesus turned that upside down.  Gentiles - non-Jews -  watch Christians and mimic what they do, but they don’t have the Spirit in them.  They have not been born again.  They have a form of godliness but lack the spiritual power to understand the Truth and live the life.  They lack the capacity to understand spiritual truth without the Spirit of God sealed in their hearts.  I suspect there are thousands of people like that who attend church every Sunday. Maybe even in leadership roles.  Teaching but are blind guides.  Struggling in their battle with sin.  Wondering why life is not different than it is.  

So what to do when you discern the person you are talking to thinks they are saved by their works and are actually lost and bound for hell.  Point them to Jesus and the truth.  Speak the truth in love.  Even that burly guy that I was talking to yesterday has a fragile heart.  God has given you an opportunity to fulfill your purpose which is to proclaim the Gospel.  Not with a punch in the nose, but with a gentle touch.  Trusting that the Spirit of God is at work in their lives.  You do your part and let God do His.  And remember your part is not the saving, it is the telling and the loving. God does the rest.  For their good and for His glory. CHARLEY

Monday, August 20, 2018

What Will It Take To Make You Happy?

“I no longer care what anyone thinks of me or the judgment what anyone has of me! I’m going to be happy no matter what.”  Have you ever had that thought? Being happy … that is everyone’s goal in life, right? There is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy.  Well what is that exactly?  Not having any financial worries, illnesses, relational problems? Maybe, feeling like you have value.  Not being depressed or sad.  Or maybe it’s fear.  Some people are fearful.  Any and all of those things makes you weary.  I think the person that said “I no longer care” had been trying to make other people happy by being what they wanted them to be.  The problem is, that doesn’t work.

This does have a spiritual point. We have a choice in this life.  We can choose to find fulfillment in the world or we can find it in the Lord. But, we cannot do both.  Telling people to trust in God can be like telling them to jump across the Grand Canyon.  Asking them to do what they see as the impossible. Instead they prefer to define what will make them happy and pursue it.  Even if it is contrary to the counsel of God’s Word and harmful to them.  Peace is what they are seeking.  The absence of stress and worry and hurt.  When that happens – which it never does – they are “happy”.  

(John 14:25-27) “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” 

The peace – the happiness that people seek can be found in Jesus.  It is fully dependent upon the presence of the Spirit and your will being submitted to Him. Can you be happy without God? Yes. But that is not the point.  Finding satisfaction – happiness in this world is totally dependent circumstances of life.  Finding satisfaction – happiness – peace in Jesus is independent of the circumstances of this natural life you are living.  But that is a big jump – a leap of faith – that many are unwilling to take. And so they live with an underlying fear that their happiness might end one day – but it doesn’t have to.  So what makes you happy? Think about it.

This is a song that was popular in the ‘70’s

Happiness Is The Lord

Happiness is to know the Savior, Living a life within His favor,
Having a change in my behavior, Happiness is the Lord.
Happiness is a new creation, Jesus and me in close relation,
Having a part in His salvation, Happiness is the Lord.

Real joy is mine, No matter if the teardrops start,

I've found a secret, It's Jesus in my heart.

Happiness is to be forgiven, Living a life that's worth the livin',

Taking a trip that leads to Heaven, Happiness is the Lord.


Friday, August 17, 2018

Does God Expect You To Do The Impossible? All The Time

Our life of faith is all about the impossible. (Luke 18:26-27) “Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”” Jesus had just spoken to a wealthy young man who thought that doing the right things was what was necessary to be right before God.  As human beings whose roots are firmly planted in the Garden and the sin of Adam, there is nothing we can do apart from Jesus to be right with God.

Once we are born again, God will ask us to do the impossible for His glory.  Oh, that strikes fear in the hearts of most Christians.  For the rest, it at least gives them opportunity to doubt.  Like when Peter walked on the water but then began to sink. (Matthew 14:29-31) “Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?””  

Human ability is not in question.  Of course you can’t do what God asks without faith and His mighty power.  That is why Proverbs 3 says trust God and not yourself.  That takes faith.  Do you remember when Jesus told the disciples to feed the people? (Matthew 15:32-33) “Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?””

Jesus was asking the disciples to do what was humanly impossible.  Imagine putting one chicken leg on the table with your family gathered around to eat.  Impossible, for men.  In the same way, every day we are faced with doing the impossible.  Going beyond ourselves to do what only God can do through us by faith.  And as soon as we take our eyes off of Jesus and depend upon our own puny abilities, we begin to sink. We wonder, “How can I possibly do this? There are so many obstacles in the way.”  The Bible is replete with stories of the impossible, but I suspect that most if not all of us think that those stories were for another time and place. They certainly don’t apply to our lives.  The thing is – it’s the same God – the same world – just different people. 

So, what has He asked you to do that you have rejected as being impossible.  Perhaps you need to re-think that decision, or more correctly re-faith it.  Trust God. Walk by faith and not by sight.  Nothing is impossible with God.  Never has been and never will be. (Joshua 1:9) “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” To do what I am suggesting you need to be strong in your faith.  Courage is action in spite of your understanding what the natural consequences could be. So what are you waiting for?  CHARLEY

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Do You Have The Faith To Believe, But Still Have Doubts?

Up front – Some may think that devotions should be short.  A few sentences.  I write what the Lord lays on my heart.  Sometimes, like today, it can be lengthy.  No apologies, just know that is not likely to change.  

Have doubts? Join the club friend. I was talking with someone the other day.  The matter was concerning what seemed to be the imminent death of a loved one.  He said, “I sure hope that when I die, I find out this (our hope in heaven) is really true.”  (Have you ever had that thought?) That statement set me back for a second.  I never thought of him as having any doubts about his faith, but there it was.  The stress of the death or grave illness of someone you care about seems to have the effect of removing inhibitions from people.  Those situations reveal things that they typically keep hidden, and you wonder “Where did that come from?” or “I had no idea they felt that way!”  But to the point …

We are on a journey of faith – like in Pilgrim’s Progress.  We are jars of clay, formed from dust.  There is something called the Law of Thermodynamics, actually there are 4 laws, like Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion, except different. “Energy cannot be created or destroyed. In other words, in a closed system, the total amount of energy that can be taken out of the system will be equal to the total amount of energy that was put into the system.” That might be why people think that they can be reincarnated.  If you leave this form, you will “pop-up” in another form.  Zero sum.  Whatever is taken away is put back in.  (Hang with me, I am almost finished with the physics lesson!!!) My point is that these “laws” are nothing more than man’s observation of God’s creation.  The truth is that God can do what He wants to do, whenever He wants to do it.  He operates on an eternal clock and we operate on seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. Hey, we do the best we can.  

Here is the problem.  If we try to figure God out on our own, we are doomed to failure.  (Isaiah 55:8-9) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  You, with your mortal natural mind, cannot figure God out.  (1 Corinthians 2:14) “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” You see, in order to not have doubts, you must see the world as God does, and you can only do that by the power of God’s Spirit in you.  

We are given an account of a young boy being healed by Jesus.  The boy was apparently beyond human help.  (Mark 9:21-25)  “So He (Jesus) asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You (Jesus) can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”” 

All of us face impossible situations. Situations that challenge the promises of God and our faith.  Hebrews 11:1 says that Faith is about things hoped for and not seen.  If you want to strengthen your faith you can do two things.  Be reminded of when God showed up in impossible circumstances and keep your heart and mind fixed on Jesus.  If you don’t do that you will suffer spiritual atrophy and when that happens you will be plagued by doubt. (Proverbs 3:5-6) “Trust in the Lord in all your ways and not your own mental capacity.” In one of the Indiana Jones movies, Indy was confronted by a huge man with a huge sword.  Then Indy remembered that he was carrying a gun, so he shot the man with the sword.  Well, in a way, Indy is me and you.  Faced with impossible circumstances, we must remember that we are “packing”.  We have the Holy Spirit in us .. the Creator God is on our side .. and He is faithful to His promises. You can believe that! CHARLEY

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