Friday, November 30, 2018

So You Want To See God’s Glory

(Exodus 33:15-20) “Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Moses wanted some visible sign of God’s presence.  He asked to see God’s glory.  God said that He would reveal His goodness and His name would be proclaimed.  He said Moses would not survive if God revealed Himself in full.  I was thinking about that this weekend.  If we saw God in His fullness that would include judgement for our sins and we would surely die.  Man cannot stand and face God on his own and survive the encounter. (Romans 3:23) “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

God showed Moses His goodness but even then, had to hide Moses in the cleft of a rock as He passed by.  God has revealed His goodness to us as well – through His Son – Jesus.  Without Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross we would be subject to the wrath of God.  That is the thought for today. Think about who God is – who you are – and the great gift redemption through Jesus.  “Redeemed how I love to proclaim it – redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!” 

We are facing Christmas – everyone talking about how much money will be spent – how much debt will be incurred -  our culture has pulled Jesus out of the celebration – As for us - let’s remember that we are celebrating the incarnation of the Son of God – He was born so He could die for us that we might have eternal life by faith in Him.  Let His name be proclaimed in the presence of those around you.  

Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior
Frances J. Crosby, 1868

Pass me not, O gentle Savior, Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by. 

Let me at Thy throne of mercy, Find a sweet relief;
Kneeling there in deep contrition, Help my unbelief.

Savior, Savior, Hear my humble cry,
While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

God’s Uses Imperfect People To Accomplish His Perfect Will – Are You Willing?

There are two common mistakes made by Christians.  1) It is a mistake for me to look at my forgiven past and conclude that God has no use for me in the kingdom.  2) It is also a mistake for me to use my forgiven past as an excuse to continue in sin.

The reason that God included the stories about sinners becoming saints – the unusable becoming useful is that He wants us to know that there is hope for us – hope for even me.  Of all of the things that God could have revealed to us in His Word – He chose those things that you read about in the Bible.  Everything has its purpose.  No words are wasted.  God paints a picture of human nature without Him and the transformed life with Him. He reveals that He can take what is broken and rejected and use it for His glory and our good.

Like many of the people who served God in the Bible, we have things in our past that we regret.  That we are ashamed of.  Perhaps that we are convinced preclude any possibility that we are “really” acceptable and even useful to a holy God.  There is not one person born on this earth who is untouched by sin.  We are born into it.  But … praise God … we have been born again by the Spirit (John 3) and are covered by the blood of Jesus.  (2 Corinthians 5:17) “Old things are passed away and all things have become new.” We are jars of clay – cracked pots – imperfect on the outside but made perfect on the inside. (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.” 

So since your past is forgiven – your future is full of possibilities and opportunities to serve God and be a light to those around you.  But there is a danger.  We can believe that because we have been forgiven – the fact that we continue to sin is “OK” with God.  He will always forgive us – so no worries.  When you stop pursuing God – associating with other Christians who are pursuing Him – praying – worshipping – reading the Word – yielding to the Spirit’s leading – you will suffer spiritual atrophy.  You will drift away – you might find yourself worse off than before.  Like the frog in the pot your goose will be cooked. Paul – in Romans addressed this. (Romans 6:1-2) “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?”  

And so, my friends, consider where you are today.  If you need to – confess your sins to the Father – find forgiveness – turn your life back to Him and let your life be a beacon of light that points others to Jesus. And if you are already doing that – shine on to the praise of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  CHARLEY 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Secret To Being Content No Matter What

(Philippians 4:11-13) “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” 

I recently had some t-shirts made for the ministry with Phil 4:13 and the words “Jesus Strong” on the back.  We are doing and serving in the name of Jesus for God’s glory.  Just like we are to live our everyday lives – every Christian not just some.  

Many if not most of the Christians I meet are discontented.  Life has not gone their way – the way they had planned.  Problems at work – problems in the family – problems with their health – money – at church – in their relationships.  We all would like to live the care-free life on earth – but it is not going to happen.  Even those who have made it big – financially – are discontented.  It would seem the finding and staying content is impossible.  Well … it is.

It is if you are looking to the world, your circumstances and other people to find it and keep it.  Paul’s view toward life on earth was seen through the prism of his faith.  It did not matter what happened – good or bad – plenty or wanting – he was content by virtue of his faith not his circumstances. 

The Word of God is the Truth and as 2 Timothy 3:16 says – it is profitable for Christians because it shows us how to live our new life in an old world by faith – not dependent upon our circumstances.  

It is easy to become bitter and cynical if you count on the “world” to bring contentment.  Contentment is a heart condition brought on by faith. If you are not content you have a faith problem – it does not matter what your circumstances are.  Listen – we all struggle with it – but we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. CHARLEY 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Remembering The Time When You First Believed

God is saying to His people, “You are not in love with Me now, but I remember a time when you were.” He says, “I remember . . . the love of your betrothal . . .” (Jeremiah 2:2). Am I as filled to overflowing with love for Jesus Christ as I was in the beginning, when I went out of my way to prove my devotion to Him? Does He ever find me pondering the time when I cared only for Him? Is that where I am now, or have I chosen man’s wisdom over true love for Him? Am I so in love with Him that I take no thought for where He might lead me? Or am I watching to see how much respect I get as I measure how much service I should give Him?OSWALD CHAMBERS

Andrae Crouch wrote the song “Take Me Back”  It is about someone who has let the fire go out in their relationship with Jesus.

“Take me back, take me back dear Lord -- To the place where I first received you. Take me back, take me back dear Lord where I first believed.

I feel that I'm so far from you Lord, But still I hear you calling me. Those simple things that I once knew, their memories keep drawing me.

I must confess, Lord I've been blessed but yet my soul's not satisfied. Renew my faith, restore my joy and dry my weeping eyes.”

Is your love for God still fresh, like the day you prayed to receive Christ as your Lord? Or, have you become casual in your relationship with Him. Do you still acknowledge His divine nature and His sacrifice and the unbelievable grace and mercy that God poured out on your life with unbridled devotion to Him? Or do you treat your relationship as “no big deal”, you are a Christian .. you love Jesus .. but you are no fanatic.

Maybe it is time to rekindle the fire that once burned so brightly in your life.  To remember just how magnificent your salvation is .. and how great our God is.

Perhaps your prayer today, and every day for that matter, should be ….. "Take me back, take me back dear Lord -- To the place where I first received you. Take me back, take me back dear Lord where I first believed.” CHARLEY 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Do You Like Where You Are?

Were you ever asked the question “What do you want to do with your life?” Maybe you were in high school and you were at a fork in the road – college or no college.  Whatever the choices, often times we make those type of decisions as if they were ours to make and our faith – God – really had little to do with it.  In a way, that is correct.  It is not so important what we do as it is – Who we do it for.  The thing to remember is that there are Biblical principles for the way we live, love and work.  (Colossians 3:23) “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters   As a Christian, there is never a time when you don’t belong to God.  There is never a time when you should set your spiritual nature aside and entertain your old nature and the world.  Not even if you work for a boss you don’t like or in a place where you would prefer not to be.  (Ephesians 6:7-8) “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people  Maybe you don’t like where you work but you need the money.  Every day you go to work dreading it.  Or maybe you have decided that, in order to survive, you need to be like the people you work with when you work with them.  It is not true, that is you old nature talking to you. There is never a time when you don’t belong to God.  

We are to let our light shine, especially in the dark places.  The place you work needs light just as much as any place else on earth.  If you are doing something you enjoy – that’s great – but maybe you aren’t.  Don’t let your circumstances steal your joy.  You are a foreigner in this world – ever since the day you were born again.  Your life should be a reflection of the God you serve. Maybe, just maybe, you are right where God wants you to be.  I will share this again – I have been asked if I liked serving in disaster areas.  It is very hard – physically, emotionally, relationally, and even spiritually.  I thought about the question and answered, “No one has ever asked me if I liked being here. There is nothing better than being in the center of God’s will for your life. Geography has nothing to do with it. [and I might add, neither do circumstances.] So I don’t like being here -  I love being here because this is exactly where God wants me to be.” So where does God have you?  Are you resentful or is your light shining brightly in the midst of it?  CHARLEY 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

When It Has All Been said and Done

We are traveling to Phoenix, Arizona for Thanksgiving with our son, his wife and my brother and his family. On the way we stopped in El Paso for the night.  *It is a 11 hour drive from Houston, TX  to El Paso, Tx!). Martie wanted to go to a restaurant that we frequented when we were assigned here 30 years ago with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment – Aviation Squadron.  Listen I am a person who runs at full steam ahead.  God points me in a direction and I go.  I don’t think much about time and how much has elapsed.  But today, I did. 

Don Moen wrote a song – “When It’s All Been Said and Done”.  One verse says “When it’s all been said and done – there is just one thing that matters,  Did I live my life and live for truth – Did I live my life for You?”  Most of my years on this planet are gone – I am on the back side of the life span curve. How am I going to spend what is remaining.  Will I live for God or put the events of my life on the shelf – and the memories framed on a wall.  Or will I continue to serve God in the way He shows me with the capacity – health and finances that He has given me?  I know the right answer – I want to live the right answer.  I want to fulfill my God-given purpose in my generation (Acts 13:36) “After David fulfilled God’s purpose in his generation, he (David) slept with his fathers  I often use that verse to explain the inexplicable – why I didn’t die when I should have – why I survived what should not have been survivable.  It was for God’s glory not my longevity.  That is OK with me.  Would it be OK with you?

Why am I writing this today?  Because I want to encourage you to consider your life. How you are living it and who you are living it for. How are you spending your life?  Spend it well.  Spend it on what will last.  You are a child of the King – the creator God.  Use your life to bring glory to Him.   CHARLEY 

Monday, November 19, 2018

How To Deal With Disappointment

Have you ever really wanted something, but you were denied that something? We all have and probably will.  The question is – “How will you handle disappointments?” Will you be sad – angry – bitter – resentful? I imagine all of us have felt those feelings at some point in our lives because what we wanted to happen didn’t.  Maybe our fault or maybe the fault of someone else or maybe no one’s fault or sometimes God intervenes and says “no” or “not now”. I have been dealt many disappointments in my life and have felt those feeling I listed.  And this thing I have learned.  How I respond to life – no matter what form it comes in – depends upon my spiritual condition – not my determination to do right.  

By the way,  … I am addressing the new nature, Christian, you  - not the old nature, worldly, you. 

I think it is safe to say that many if not most Christians don’t take their faith seriously when it comes to day to day living.  Their faith is reserved for the crisis events of life.  When they are in a “jam” physically, financially, or relationally.  The rest of the time – the majority of the time they are living on the energy of their old nature.  The Apostle Paul wrote this (Philippians 4:11-13) “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him [Jesus] who gives me strength.

You think you are not like Paul, the super saint? I beg to differ with you!  You are exactly like Paul – at least potentially.  Born a sinner – saved from Sin – Sealed by the Spirit. Now where we do often differ from Paul is that we are not totally committed to following Jesus and fully trusting in God. Paul had plenty of reasons to be resentful – bitter – hurt because of the way he was treated.  To overcome disappointments you don’t have to be Paul – just look to Jesus like he did.  The other day I whacked my left forefinger with a hammer – not on purpose.  It really hurt – but there was a job to do.  I didn’t quit – I pressed on with the work.  The reason I remember I hurt my finger then is because the nail is black and blue now – as a reminder.  

When you are hurt by disappointment – you should acknowledge it – you will probably be reminded of it – but you should also respond to it in the context of who you are in Christ.  Remember what your priorities are, or should be, in this life.  I am often reminded of scripture when I face adversity of any kind.  As a result – my response to disappointment has softened. 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.” Don’t let the disappointments that will certainly come your way discourage you. Take them in stride and trust Jesus.  

What does God expect of you – Christian? (Micah 6:8) “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” And your old nature is not going to help you do that. CHARLEY 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Don’t Beat The Donkey - When Your Plan Doesn’t Seem To Be Working Out

Martie and I are taking some time away from rebuilding homes in Houston so I can write a book.  Something that we are confident that God, wants me to do.  Sorry if that sounds outrageous to believe that the God of the universe wants me to write a book – frankly I am as surprised as you are. At any rate – we have – err had – a plan.  We were going to drive to stay with friends on the coast of Northern California starting the first of November – this is the 17th. But, we are committed to finishing what we started here in Houston, so when we encountered delays in finishing the current house – our book-writing schedule slipped.  We were supposed to leave this week – we did not pass the city inspections for the work we paid to have done by licensed contractors.  The contractors all said – they had never had these specific problems before. Now it is Thanksgiving week.  The chances of getting the final inspections finished next week are remote – out of reach.  Our plan is falling apart! 

What should you do when your plans don’t work out like … well, you planned.  You want to follow the Lord’s leading.  You think you are following the Lord’s leading. But – then – the plan starts to fall apart.  I wrote about King Saul yesterday – 1 Samuel 17.  He chose to take matters into his own hands – forget God, Saul could make it happen on his own.  That is a slippery slope.  When we were in Haiti, I led a mini church service one night – it was called “Church on the beach”, although this time we were meeting in a house that was not on the beach.  At any rate, there were a number of people from the U.S. serving in various capacities in Jacmel, Haiti who got together each week.  Very often they talked about how difficult life was for them.  I shared the importance of walking by faith – by the Spirit of God and not on your own power.  In fact – I told them that if they had come to Haiti and God had not called them to be there – they should go home.  Serving in Haiti was just too difficult to do what they were doing on their own – in the name of Jesus.  Let me say – that is not what they wanted to hear. 

(Proverbs 16:9)Men make plans in their hearts, but God orders their steps.”  God is sovereign.  Even when things don’t go the way you planned.  Are you willing to rest in that?  You should not do something in the name of Jesus if Jesus is not in the game.  If you are acting alone – trying to do something apart from God for the glory of God.  (Acts 19:13-17) “Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.” 

Don’t lose sight of the fact that, as a born again Believer, you are spiritual and able because of Jesus.  When things don’t seem to be going your way – don’t push it – don’t try to make it happen.

So what to do.  Did we miss something?  Is God trying to tell us something? Martie and I have been praying about this.  I have been resisting the temptation to act on my own - although I must admit, I have considered it. I was reminded of Balaam and his donkey. Balaam was going where he should not.  His donkey refused to go, so Balaam was beating the donkey.   (Numbers 22:31-34) “ Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown. The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.” Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”” 

We are stepping back.  We are willing to not go to California. Especially if we are going to miss God’s will if we do it on our own.  I will still write the book – I just don’t know where.  Perhaps right here in our travel trailer.  But this I do know – I need to trust God and not myself.  How about you?  CHARLEY  

Friday, November 16, 2018

Speaking When The Spirit Gives Opportunity – You Don’t Choose The Time Or The Place

You never know when God will bring someone across your path that needs a word of encouragement.  Yesterday we went to dinner with a friend.  The waitress was very attentive and friendly.  She commented on my sense of humor – which can have its plusses and minuses at times – but she seemed to appreciate it. It was then that she started talking about serving others – outside of the restaurant – and very often people did not seem to appreciate or value her efforts.  That sometimes people who serve need to be served themselves – but other people assume, since they serve, they don’t need help – encouragement – or even a word of gratitude.

Sound like a strange conversation to be having with a waitress?  Actually it was a revealing conversation with a young woman who happened to be a waitress.  I suspected that she was a believer and was interested to know so I asked her a question.  “Are you familiar with the story about Jesus and the lepers?”  (Luke 17:11-19) She said “Yes.” So I asked “How many of the 10 came back and thanked Jesus for his healing?”  She said “One.” Ok – now I knew that she was a student of the Word. That changed the whole context and direction of the conversation.  I couldspeak spiritual truth to her.

That opened the door for her to share about how she has drifted away from her faith and doesn’t read the Bible as much as she used to.  That discussion is a long way away from “What kind of dressing would you like on your salad?” I told her that we should not expect gratitude as the reward for our service to others.  If you use the example of the lepers – that will only happen 10% of the time.  So if gratitude is the reason you do for others – you won’t be “doing” for long.  

I asked he if she uses the internet – like duh! She is a millennial! Of course she does, so I gave her the web address to my BLOG and encouraged her to go there to be encouraged in the Faith.  

The point is that you never know when the Lord will bring someone across your path.  You will miss it if you are not ready for it.  Driving home, Martie commented that the Lord had orchestrated her serving us.  I believe that.  Are you ready to speak hope and encouragement into someone’s life? Do you think about where you are before you speak or do you keep in mind Whose you are when you speak? An Ambassador for Christ (1 Peter 3:15).  A witness (Acts 1:8).  A minister. (The I didn’t go to seminary type of minister) (2 Corinthians 5:18) Someone on a mission.  – Yes that would be you!  CHARLEY  

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Waiting On God Requires Faith. Waiting Is Not Easy But It Is Absolutely Necessary

(1 Samuel 13:7-14) “[King] Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering.  Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash,  I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”” 

Martie and I are about to start a respite – a sabbatical for a couple months.  We cannot start until we have finished the home we are working on.  The mission that God has given us.  At the moment, we are waiting for the final inspections to be completed.  There have been delays.  The date that I had planned to leave by has come and gone.  In the meantime, I have been trying to figure out a way that we might do both.  Oversee the inspections and leave for the time away.  Seemed reasonable. That is until the Lord brought the verses in 1 Samuel to my mind! 

The prophet Samuel had told King Saul what the Lord had said.  But Saul became impatient.  The time that Samuel was to return had come and gone.  His soldiers were getting restless. Things were not going the way that Saul had envisioned.  He had to do something.  So he did and suffered the consequences.  I once heard a comparison between King Saul and King David. Saul loved God with a half heart and David loved God with his whole heart. 

Saul had a half-hearted faith.  He would trust God some of the time – those times when things went Saul’s way.  But for the other times – he would trust himself.  That is where I found myself.  Things were not going my way so I had to do something.  Dr. Henry Blackaby said “You have heard the saying – “Don’t just stand there – do something”.  But God says “Don’t just do something – stand there.””  Trust God.  I am certain of what God wants me to do – but I must be willing to wait on Him. 

I suspect that many of you reading this, struggle with the same temptation.  Saul’s men were starting to scatter. How could he expect to prevail if his men scattered.  He did not remember Gideon who prevailed with 300 men 100 years before him.  He did not remember David standing before Goliath as Saul’s men quaked in fear.  We often think that we must do something or the outcome will not go our way.  We trust in what we see and not in God who we cannot see. That is because we have lost our spiritual vision. We love God half-heartedly.

Perhaps there is something going on in your life right now.  Something that you are unwilling to trust God for.  Something that God started but you feel compelled to finish and not wait on Him.  It takes faith in God to wait on God.  Just as I asked the Lord to strengthen my faith – I realize that He is using this very issue to do that very thing.   CHARLEY  

Monday, November 12, 2018

Sometimes – Things Are Not What They Look Like

This past Sunday I listened to a sermon given by a young (20-something) youth pastor.  He is a great communicator and expositor of the Truth and Way and Life.  The focus of his sermon was as my title suggests – things are not always what they look like. His text was from 2 Kings 6:15-17  When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

This same servant had been with Elisha and observed how God used him.  But this was a little closer to home.  There was no way, that he could see, that they would survive this. Have you ever been there?  Your circumstance was so difficult that you could see no way that anything good could come from it.  Anything good, in this case, was what you had decided was what should happen. Stress, worry, fear set in.  A sense of hopelessness and dread.  The point of this scripture is that God had already showed up.  He is sovereign. The servant could not see what Elisha saw because the servant was focused on his circumstances.  Listen – if you are standing in the road and a truck is coming – you don’t just stand there – you get out of the road – God gave you the sense to do that – but when life overwhelms you – tragedy strikes – you may have your heart broken – your life savings lost – your home destroyed in a disaster – whatever – remember that God has not forsaken you.  He is already in the midst of all of that.  

(Isaiah 35:4) “say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.” 

You have been saved supernaturally – not so that what you experience in the natural will only be good – but more – that you can endure whatever happens in the natural – knowing that your hope in is the Lord and your confidence and joy is not dependent upon your circumstances and predicaments. 

(Proverbs 18:10) “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are safe.”

Remember that and rest in it the next time you think your circumstances have you surrounded. CHARLEY

Friday, November 9, 2018

Understanding Biblical Authority In The Family

Ok .. this will be fun!  This morning I want to address the issue of Biblical authority in the family.  But from a different slant.  Authority and responsibility are two sides of the same coin.  They go together.  If you try to disconnect them – things don’t go well.  I suspect that when most people read Ephesians 5:23 – “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Savior of the body.” The thought is about being the boss.  Remember that the Bible has both practical and spiritual application.  The Father is the head of Christ – Christ is the head of the Church – the husband is the head of the wife (family).  The husband is responsible for the family – he is the “responsible” source of provision for the family – just like the Father and the Son.  

It is possible to delegate authority – but you cannot delegate responsibility.  In a practical sense – a wife may work as well to provide money for living expenses – but the husband is still responsible for providing for the family.  When that doesn’t happen.  When the husband does not accept the responsibility – the family does not function as it should. Remember – this idea has spiritual roots.  It’s God’s design.  Man has a penchant for doing this his own way – and the consequences are not good. Do you see why it is important for the woman to marry a  Christian man?  Someone who is not is incapable of fulfilling God’s purpose and design.  That is not to say that even a Christian will not reject the responsibility God has ordained for the husband. That is what we call “sin”. 

So what about authority?  Simply - authority is the power to carry out your responsibilities.  Often times, men will want to exercise their authority without accepting the responsibility.  King of the house – if you will.  That is exactly what most women fear.  Verse 22 says “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the LORD.”  Jesus is trustworthy.  You are not afraid that He will abuse His authority or shirk His responsibility.  Now when it comes to mortal man – not so much.  Verse 22 says that wives must acknowledge the responsibility and authority – given by God to the husband.  The trouble comes when the husband does not fulfill his role.

What is his role?  Read verse 25. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Oh – so the husband is to be like Christ.  If the husband is not a Christian then he cannot fulfill this command – impossible. If the husband is a nominal Christian – living in the flesh – then he very likely won’t fulfill the command.  Just like he is not fulfilling the others.  And by the way, while most of the focus tends to be toward the husband – the same can be said for the unsaved or spiritually errant wife.  It takes the power of God to fulfill the commands of God.  If one or both are not walking by the Spirit – they cannot fulfill these Biblical mandates. Amos 3:3 asks the question “How can two walk together unless they be agreed?” 

Something to think about. CHARLEY  

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Who Decides What Is Right And What Is Wrong

Let me first say that my BLOG is for the purpose of glorifying God and encouraging the Church to walk by faith.  I will not espouse political views – conservative or liberal – Republican or Democrat or some other party.  I will address Biblical principals and, hopefully, help you see your life and culture in the context of God’s plan and design.

With that said – what I want to address today is how we go about determining what is right and what is wrong.  It is really quite simple.  The Bible provides the answers to life and the Spirit impresses them upon us and helps us understand them.  We make the choice to obey.  When there is a conflict between what we want and what God says is right, well … that is what we struggle with.  

In the Old Testament, there was a pattern among the generations in the nation of Israel.  There was a generation that knew God, a generation that knew about God, and a generation that did not know God.  I am reminded of a song that goes “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.  Prone to leave the God I love.”  Man’s tendency is to distance himself from God and what is right, to embrace the desires of the flesh.

So that is at the individual level.  What do you do when your culture, your government passes a law that conflicts with the Bible?  As a Christian your first obligation is to God (Matthew 22:37-39).  You are to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s”  (Mark 12:17)  But does that mean – even it means to do what is clearly contrary to the Bible?  The answer is “no”.  Does that mean you will escape the consequence for not obeying the laws of man?  No.  It means that we are willing to accept the consequence in favor of obedience to God.

In the military there is something called an “Unlawful Order”.  It is an order that is in direct violation of the Constitution and the  Uniform Code of Military Justice – put simply – military laws.  An order which is unlawful not only does not need to be obeyed but obeying such an order can result in criminal prosecution of the one who obeys it. Military courts have long held that military members are accountable for their actions even while following orders -- if the order was illegal.

A law that says that something can or can’t be done that is contrary to the clear revelation of God to man – the Bible – is unlawful from God’s perspective.  A Christian should not comply with it.  Even if non-compliance means there will be negative consequences for the Christian.  In the context of our culture in the United States – the easy thing to do is just say or do nothing – to go along and get along.  That will be to our shame when we stand before our Lord.  Watching the news om the aftermath of the elections, one man said essentially that he was glad that liberals were elected because it would be easier to do what the Bible says don’t do and what he wants to do.  (my phrasing – not his)

Each of us must examine our hearts and where its devotion lies.  If you are born again – you know what is lawful – right from God’s perspective – and what is wrong.  You should not condone or encourage what is wrong.  Silence is agreement.  We are supposed to be salt and light in the world.  

(Matthew 5:13-16) “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Be the Salt – Be the Light   CHARLEY

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Remembering The Times When God Showed Up

Martie, my wife, and I were talking yesterday about Ebenezer in the Bible.  For those of you who remember the song “Come Thou Fount” The second verse starts with “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I'm come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.”  As many times that I sang that song in that past, I would sing right past those words.  I didn’t have a clue what they meant.  Well, now I do – with the prompting of my wife ….. Ebenezer literally means “stone of help”.  (1 Samuel 7:10-12) “While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”  

An Ebenezer is a physical reminder of a time when God intervened on someone’s behalf.  Most people would recognize the name because of the Christmas Story and the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge.  But even though the name has taken on a bad connotation, – there was redemption in his life – God showed up – could it be that Charles Dickens was really talking about God’s intervention and redemptive work in the lives of people so he used the name Ebenezer as the main character?  He could have picked any other name – couldn’t he.  That makes helps me see that story in an entirely different light … hmmmm.  

Dr. Henry Blackaby called those God-events – spiritual markers.  Pivotal events in a Believer’s life that they can look back to and see the hand of God.  If you are born again – then I am certain that you have your own Ebenezers.  Certainly the day of your salvation, but if you think about it, you will remember many more.  Reflect on those times today.  And then give God the praise. And if you are up to it – share some with others as a comment on my BLOG post for today.   CHARLEY

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

When Christians Do Good Things – Who Are They Really Serving

We have many opportunities to serve others in the name of Jesus.  The thing is, sometimes the reason we serve is misdirected.  There are many people – lost people – who do “good” things for other people.  So just doing “good” things must not be the point.  It is easy to imagine that only Christians do good things.  In Matthew 25 – Jesus said “When I was thirsty you gave me something to drink.”  But He also said to the disciples (John 4:32) “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” He said to the woman at the well . (John 4:9-13) “The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”” 

Doing “good” is, well ….. good.  But what Christians bring is more than water to quench a dry mouth.  We bring living water – the Good News.  We do more than bring a sack of groceries – we bring Manna from heaven – Jesus by the power of the Spirit in us. When we were in Mississippi, we did a lot of construction.  I always focused on the Type-A’s amongst the volunteer teams.  Those people who were all about the work – that is why they came.  I reminded them that what they were doing was different … they were responding to the call of God.  There is a spiritual dynamic that I don’t fully understand, but I know that it is there, in the midst of the service.  We didn’t preach to the people .. but we were ready to bring comfort from God – I told the volunteers to designate one person who would “lay their hammer down” and minister to the home owner.  To show them Jesus.  One day my generation will pass – just like those before us – the buildings we leave behind will eventually fall into decay.  But the eternal seed that we planted will take root and grow and bear fruit.  

Do you remember the parable of the seed?  (Luke 8:11-15) “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. (1) Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. (2) Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. (3) The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. (4) But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” 

There are 4 types of soil.  Our job is not to prepare the soil but to cast the seed.  Think of it this way.  Three-fourths of the seed falls on ground that will not produce eternal change. So stop thinking that you were not successful if the soil is not ready to receive the seed – the Gospel. Think about it. CHARLEY  

Monday, November 5, 2018

Making A Choice – Biblical Truth Or Personal Satisfaction

There is a new television program called “God Friended Me”. The integration of social media and Divine intervention.  What the program seems to be promoting is the idea that we can have it both ways – that God’s commands are not commands at all, but merely suggestions.  We are free to choose what makes us happy and God will accommodate us and work around our decisions.  Do you see the heresy in that? Entertainment is a common wrapper for heresy – promotion of secular humanism through the television media.  I am not on a rant about the evils of television – I am merely asking that you watch television with spiritual discernment.  What the Bible – which is the source of Truth – is clear, but like the frog in the pot, our culture promotes another “truth” – one that allows us to do what we think is right. 

In the Book of Judges it says, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (Judges 21:25) In Romans, Paul described the same thing “ Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:28-32)

You might be surprised to know what many Christians embrace that is clearly counter to the Word of God.  So back to God Friended Me – the story line was that a man and a woman of different faiths were in love and their families did not want them to get married.  Finally the parents conceded because the important thing was that they were happy – not that they were faithful to God.  (2 Corinthians 6:14) “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” When Martie and I were married – she was a practicing Catholic – I was not.  The priest who married us, told her that her children were going to hell.  There is a lot more to that than a faith mismatch – but it emphasizes the point.  In the priest’s eyes – I was an unbeliever and the Bible said – don’t do it.  Actually, at the time, we were both unbelievers.  We both put our faith in Jesus 4 years later.

My point is that we are very quick to compromise our love for God for the love of people.  Or for other things for that matter.  If we love God with our entire being (Matthew 22:37) then there is no opportunity for compromise.  And so – if we compromise it means that we don’t love God with our entire being.  The greatest commandment is to Love God -  and then love others.  Our love for others springs from our love for God.  Our love for God does NOT spring from our love for others.  

(1 John 2:15-17) “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever”  CHARLEY 

Friday, November 2, 2018

What Does Jesus Have To Do With This – Are You Putting Your Faith First?

Some years ago I was attending a men’s fellowship at a church member’s home.  We were gathered to watch a football game – probably a Superbowl.  I must admit that I could not be convicted if charged with being a football fanatic, but I do enjoy watching it on occasion.  Well, as the night progressed, I brought up a spiritual subject – something about Jesus – and was told “Look – we didn’t come here to talk about Jesus- we came here to watch football!”  Now the pretext of our fellowship was the Superbowl – but the context of our being together was our kinship through the Spirit of God made possible through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

Fast forward to a recent gathering.  I mentioned that we normally add spiritual context to the meeting as was told that we didn’t need to – we could just enjoy our time together.  What I want to address today is the “thread” between those two events – there have been many others – but these are sufficient for my point.

A problem – a temptation – is thinking that our spiritual nature and natural lives are separable. That there are times when it just isn’t necessary or appropriate to mix them.  During Jesus ministry – He never stopped being who He was so as not to offend someone or to avoid being a “wet blanket” at a gathering.  It would be one thing to stand on a chair at a party where there were non-Christians and proclaim the Gospel – unless God told you to.  It is quite another to be in the company of other Believers and be told that discussion of spiritual matters is not necessary or wanted.

Why does that happen? I think because we have put our faith in a box – made it personal – and applicable in appropriate places – like Church – or perhaps at the dining room table before you eat.  Where we are sitting – at home or in a restaurant – is not a consideration as to whether we will give thanks for the food – and the money we used to pay for the meal.

So here is the thing – I have never been at odds over this issue with people who are passionate about their faith – only those who seem to be dispassionate.  If we really do love God more (Matthew 22:37-39) then we would love the opportunity to talk about Him – and if we don’t – really – well, we don’t.  After Peter had denied Jesus before His crucifixion, Jesus asked Peter three times if Peter loved Jesus.  

(John 21:15-17) “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, LORD," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He answered, "Yes, LORD, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "LORD, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.””

There is a verse in a song that goes “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.”  Do you want the world to know? Is your faith personal and private?  Do you feel uncomfortable when people talk about spiritual things in a social setting.  You spend two maybe three hours in a church building each week – the rest of the time you are out amongst people of the world. If you don’t want to be your “new self” but prefer to hide your light under a bushel basket – you need more oil for your lamp my friend. 

A final thought.  We are to speak the Truth in love.  Not be like a bull in a china closet with our faith.  And what does love look like? 

(1 Corinthians 13) “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”  CHARLEY  

Thursday, November 1, 2018

What Makes You Afraid?

This life is full of opportunities to fear - something.  Arachnophobia – is the fear of spiders. Acrophobia – is the fear of heights. Agoraphobia – is the fear of leaving your house. Autophobia – is the fear of being alone. Scotophobia – is the fear of the dark. Anthropophobia – is the fear of being around people (being in crowds).  Nosemaphobia – is the fear of getting sick. Mysophobia – is the fear of germs.  Thanatophobia – is the fear of dying. I will stop there – you get the idea.  The list of fears is exhaustive. 

Fear can be debilitating – even make you physically sick - to cause you to do irrational things.  Fear is different from respect.  I know a stove is hot so I don’t touch it with my hand.  I am not afraid of the stove, but I respect it – understand the fact that it can harm me if I disregard the harmful effects of touching it when it is hot.  So when Jesus said do not be afraid – He was not saying “Go ahead and touch the stove.” He was speaking to the uncertainties – the “what if’s” in life.  He was speaking about letting faith in your heavenly Father be preeminent in your life.  Read these verses …  

Luke 12:4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.” 

There is a greater reality than this mortal life that we have. 

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

We have been sealed by the Spirit of God not a spirit of fear. That means that, as Christians,  we have the capacity to not be fearful.  It is a question of where we place our reliance – our ability to deal with what live brings or may being – or our Father in heaven.   Jesus said … 

John 14:27 “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.” 

He is the source of peace – not fearing.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says trust God – not yourself.  That is easy to say but not so easy to do.  Especially if you are not practicing the disciplines of the faith.  In the military – physical fitness is important.  The reason is that when you are tested in battle – the physical demands are incredible and if you have not prepared before you face them – you will not be able to stand. 

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.” 

God was reminding Joshua that Joshua was not alone in what God commanded him to do.  God was with him.  And God is with us as well. 

I realize that my writing this may not convince to not fear whatever it is that you fear. Logic rarely, if ever, wins over emotion. But faith – oh that is something else again. Let me leave you with what Jesus said about it. 

Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

Trust God (1 Peter 5:7)  CHARLEY