Monday, December 31, 2018

Do You Really Want To Be Like Jesus?

(Romans 8:29) “For those whom he [God the Father] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”  

Have you ever given any thought to what being conformed … molded .. changed … means in your everyday life?  Well, first you understand that it is a spiritual change, right?  Second … you must realize that the process is going to be contrary to your flesh and your old nature will want to resist.  God will show you things through the Spirit that you may not want to see or admit, even to yourself.  (One of the Spirit’s missions is to convict the world of sin.  The Spirit plus the Word of God are the “one-two” punch in the sanctification process.  The knock-out punch comes when I  surrender my will)

You know that there are certain aspects of your old nature that you want to hide or cling to.  Adam and Eve tried to hide themselves in the Garden… you know how that worked out for them.  The only ones you can hide your sin from, for a season, is man.  The Word says (Numbers 32:23) “Your sin will find you out.”  God knows everything .. that is why we confess our sins (1 John 1:9) .. confess means to “agree with” not to reveal.  The goal of this transformation – conforming process is not to make you miserable, but to bless you .. to make you better.  The pain or difficulty you experience is from the battle between the flesh and Spirit.  My encouragement to you is the same as Paul’s to the Romans.  (Romans 12:1-2) “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  God won’t make you offer your life, your will, your ways to Him.  You must surrender your will on your own.  That means you must trust God more than yourself or other things. (Proverbs 3:5-6) Will you?  CHARLEY 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Take Me Back Lord Where I First Believed - 2

OSWALD CHAMBERS - ‘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?’ 
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. Do you do what you do in the name of Jesus to be respected and honored by others? (Matthew 6:1) “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
 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.
 "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  

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Don't Let Your Past Hold You Back, Focus On Your Future, Rejoice and Repent

Oswald Chambers “…God requires an account of what is past” (Ecclesiastes 3:15). At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise when we remember our yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God’s grace tends to be lessened by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future. God reminds us of the past to protect us from a very shallow security in the present.[…] Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ. Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.”  
The remembering of our past failures (sins) has two sides.  On the one hand, they remind us that we have a sin nature and that nature has been a powerfully harmful influence in our lives.  We have proven the truth of the Word … all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and there is none righteous (Romans 3:10).  Our past failures remind us that we do not deserve God’s favor.  But on the other hand, we also know that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”  (Romans 5:8).  We know that we have been redeemed.  (Galatians 3:13) “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law (from the judgement of God) by becoming a curse for us”.  That does not mean ours sins are somehow, “OK”, but it does mean that we are forgiven.  It does mean that we have hope.  It does mean that we have help.  It does mean that we have a certain future.  Don’t let your past hold you back.  You are a child of the King.  Focus on your future, rejoice and repent!  CHARLEY 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

This Is Something to Shout About

Oswald Chambers God requires an account of what is past” (Ecclesiastes 3:15). At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise when we remember our yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God’s grace tends to be lessened by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future. God reminds us of the past to protect us from a very shallow security in the present. […] Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ. Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.”  

We must be careful that we don’t let our past sins become the reason we say “no” to God, today.  The Bible is full of examples of people that God used in a mighty way who had done terrible things .. committed great sins … and yet, they found forgiveness and were given a new start as they walked with God.  There were some things that they could not do because sins do have consequences.  To imagine that we can do anything and it not affect others is an attempt to justify our sins .. to make an excuse for what we have done. 

Confession – means to agree with God.  We must lay all of our excuses aside and understand that we are no different from anyone else.  All have sinned .. there is none righteous .. only Jesus … and in Him we can be assured of forgiveness.  Forgiveness means that we are no longer facing the penalty for those sins. 

Psalm 103:8-18  "The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts"

 We don’t have to be enslaved by the sins we have committed in the past, but can be free to live for God by His grace and mercy for eternity.  Now that is something to shout about.

 As this year draws to a close, this is scripture for you to embrace, today and for the rest of your life … 
Philippians 3:13-14Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus CHARLEY 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

How To Respond To An Attitude Of Ingratitude - 2

Oswald Chambers – “Paul’s idea of service was to pour his life out to the last drop for others. And whether he received praise or blame made no difference. As long as there was one human being who did not know Jesus, Paul felt a debt of service to that person until he did come to know Him. But the chief motivation behind Paul’s service was not love for others but love for his Lord. If our devotion is to the cause of humanity, we will be quickly defeated and broken-hearted, since we will often be confronted with a great deal of ingratitude from other people. But if we are motivated by our love for God, no amount of ingratitude will be able to hinder us from serving one another.” 

One of the things that has troubled me in our life of service to others has been when I encounter ungrateful people.  My flesh wants to rise up. I know that what I am thinking and what I am feeling is in no way spiritual. The question is “How I should respond to them?”  Although my natural response is constrained – not acted upon – it causes me to examine my motivation for what I do.  Rarely has my frustration toward ungrateful people been because I thought they did not appreciate God.  No, it was because I thought they did not appreciate me.  Do you see the problem?   1 John 4:19 says “We love because he first loved us.”  Matthew 22:37-39 suggests that when we love God first, our love for others demonstrated in our service will be a reflection of our total devotion to God.  Loving others, and the service associated with it, is an expression of our love for God.  Think about this.  When you are confronted by ingratitude, since what we do is for God and not for them, understand that they are really being ungrateful toward God. The offense is toward Him not you.  But I hasten to add, that if what you do is so people will praise you and not God – you have committed the greater offense – robbing God of His glory. 

Luke 17:14-19 “When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.  Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” 

That is a gratitude rate of 10%.  Do you think Jesus asked himself "Why did I heal those others guys, they did not appreciate it!" Would you be satisfied with that or would you decide it just wasn’t worth the trouble?  Those people were not worth your effort and “sacrifice”.  If you think that way, your focus is on you and not one the One who sent you.  Don’t you suppose that God already knows what will happen?  And He sent you anyway.  We must not look at those He has sent us to serve, but at the One who did the sending.  Read Romans 12:1,2. CHARLEY 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Come to Jesus and Live - revisited

While I write this book, I will be republishing some of the more read BLOG posts from the past 7 years.  

I am also posting the entire text and not just a link to Facebook because I think that the new algorithm is limiting distribution of the hyperlinks I have been using for the devotions I post on my BLOG site. Not just mine. Call it collateral damage from Facebook’s effort to filter out unwanted posts for the users. I get it.

But before I leave you to the BLOG post.  A word of encouragement.  Martie and I went to dinner with a friend last night.  When the waitress gave me the bill, she had written “Happy Holidays” on the top – I put an “X” through it and wrote “Merry Christmas”.  On the way out the two people at the desk said “Happy Holidays”.  I turned around and said – “It’s OK, you can say Merry Christmas to me – I won’t be offended.” The guy said “We were told to use “Happy Holidays”, but Merry Christmas.”  Then the girls also said “Merry Christmas”.  Was I being rude? I don't think so - I was taking a stand.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)   And don’t you be either.  Remember – the darker the night – the brighter the light. (Who said that? I did.)

OSWALD CHAMBERS – “The first thing I must be willing to admit when I begin to examine what controls and dominates me is that I am the one responsible for having yielded myself to whatever it may be. […] There is no power within the human soul itself that is capable of breaking the bondage of the nature created by yielding. For example, yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust, and although you may hate yourself for having yielded, you become enslaved to that thing. (Remember what lust is— “I must have it now,” whether it is the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind.) No release or escape from it will ever come from any human power, but only through the power of redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One who can break the dominating power in your life, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. […] When you yield to something, you will soon realize the tremendous control it has over you. Even though you say, “Oh, I can give up that habit whenever I like,” you will know you can’t. You will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you willingly yielded to it. It is easy to sing, “He will break every fetter,” while at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. But yielding to Jesus will break every kind of slavery in any person’s life.” 

 The yoke of the master of lust or self-centeredness is a harsh one.  There is no peace only the demand for more … there is no blessing only a moment of satisfaction before the need to be satisfied rises up again.  There is no love, only the suggestion of affection which is really a tool to get what you want. That thing that controls you is a cruel master – promising peace but only delivering pain.  But then there is Jesus … Matthew 11:28-30  “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." 

 Chris Rice – “Come to Jesus” 

 “Weak and wounded sinner,  Lost and left to die,  O, raise your head for Love is passing by, Come to Jesus and live 

 Now your burden's lifted, And carried far away,  And precious blood has washed away the stain... so Sing to Jesus and live,

 And like a newborn baby, Don't be afraid to crawl, And remember when you walk sometimes we fall... so Fall on Jesus and live,

 Sometimes the way is lonely, And steep and filled with pain, So if your sky is dark and pours the rain... then Cry to Jesus and live,

 O, and when the love spills over, And music fills the night, And when you can't contain you joy inside... then Dance for Jesus and live,

 And with your final heartbeat, Kiss the world goodbye, Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side... and Fly to Jesus and live,” 

So, what are you waiting for? An invitation … you’ve got it!  

Friday, December 14, 2018

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

(Galatians 5:19-21)  The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” 

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

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

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

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

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.CHARLEY 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

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

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

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

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

I Will Offer Up My Life

Matt Redman 

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

What Are You Trusting In To Make You Feel OK

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Doing Good Things Is Just Not Good Enough

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 7, 2018

Three Kinds Of People – Which One Are You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Knowing How To Confront Sin Without Judgement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Finding The Sweet Spot In Your Christian Life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 3, 2018

Are Your Really Willing To Lay Your Life Down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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