All posts by Charlie Artner

Possibilities Unlimited

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

— Philippians 4:13

What would you try if you knew you could not fail? Would you climb a mountain? Learn to fly an airplane? Share the Gospel with your family? The Scripture promises us that we can do “all things.” Have you claimed that promise? A person who professes to believe he or she “can do all things through Christ” and does not exercise that belief is like a miser who has a hundred million dollars in the bank but goes hungry day after day.

For many of us, our belief is more like this: “I can do a few things through Christ, who gives me a little help.” Why do we sometimes believe that we can do only “a few things?” We believe this because we listen to the lies Satan speaks through his voice of discouragement. We believe this because we allow persecution to stop the Lord’s work.

But if we want God to use us, we have to bank on that verse. Those who have turned the world upside down—Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson, and William Carey—believed God could do mighty things through them. They made this verse their life verse, and it transformed them. And even though the apostle Paul was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and left for dead, he attempted great things for God because he expected great things from God. He lived by the verse he had penned—“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

If you let the truth of this verse permeate your thinking, it can transform your life. We achieve only a fraction of what we could because we don’t take God at His Word. Are your expectations too low? Do you dream big dreams but never act on them? Then ask God to plant this promise deep in your soul and help you live in His power.

“Man, with God’s help and personal dedication,
is capable of anything he can dream.”
Conrad Hilton

John Milton

“… to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever …”

— Revelation 1:6

How blessed we’d be if we could give ourselves over, body and soul, to the glorification of our Savior Jesus Christ. John Milton, England’s most profound poet, did precisely this. He was a man molded by the Scriptures, and many consider Milton one of the highest examples of Puritanism. Though he lived much of his life in blindness, God granted him the vision to see things in the vast universe that lie beyond what the rest of humanity can see.

John Milton saw the power of sin that, left unchecked, brings death. He saw the reality of Jesus Christ, the Second Adam. His masterpieces, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, involve two principal characters: the first Adam, by whose disobedience all of humankind plunged into sin; and the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, the beginning of the new creation. Milton’s epic poems describe the tremendous power and deception of sin that had come into this world, wreaking havoc and misery upon the earth. They also contain another reality—Jesus Christ, who gave thirty-three years of perfect obedience to God’s commands, who regained the kingdom for those of us who trust in Him.

Milton was a poet of the invisible. He splashed on a vast canvas the history of the world from eternity to eternity, painting with his pen the greatest panorama of all time. He saw things that no one had ever seen before. And he has shared that vision with others, opening the eyes of millions. Milton believed that humankind has a high calling—to glorify the living Christ—and he fulfilled this calling in all he wrote. May we all have that same vision to be a blessing to God, to open the eyes of others by glorifying Jesus Christ in all we do.

“Beyond compare the Son of God was seen,
Most glorious; in him all his Father shone,
Substantially expressed, and in his face,
Divine compassion visibly appeared,
Love without end, and
without measure grace.”
John Milton

Commanded to Sing

“Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

— Ephesians 5:19

Do you ever find yourself, without even realizing it, humming a praise song? Did you know that as the Holy Spirit fills you, the joy you experience will express itself in song? The Bible makes it clear that God is bound up with singing. When God created the world, the morning stars sang together for joy. The seraphim and the cherubim praise God around His throne forever, not because God has commanded them to do so, but because in Paradise their song inevitably rises like a wellspring from their hearts to their lips. Even the birds continually sing their praises to God.

Do you have a song of joyfulness in your heart today?

The great saints of the faith expressed their God-given joy in song. Moses wrote songs. The Bible contains a whole collection of prayers and praises written by that sweet psalmsinger of Israel, David. Jesus and the apostles sang. When they partook of the Passover, they sang a hymn. Before his conversion, St. Augustine heard Christians singing songs of praise to God, and because those praises filled his heart to overflowing, he wept for joy.

Christianity is a singing religion more than any other. We have the great hymns of the Reformation, such as Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Wesley wrote hundreds of hymns, and many other Christians have given us hymnals filled with songs of praise. Other religions may have their sad and mournful chants, but only in Christ do people find joy that rises in song. Christians, therefore, should be a singing people. A gentleman of the Church recently told me, “The most exciting day of my life was one day when I was home fixing my dinner. I was just thanking God for everything. I was thanking God for the food, for the pan to cook it in, for the stove, for the hands I had to hold the pan. And I just broke forth in song.” God wants us to have that kind of overflowing joy.

Do you have a favorite song that expresses your joy in Christ? Then sing it today. Sing it as you go about your business, letting your joyfulness overflow in musical praise to God.

“I sing because I’m happy! I sing because I’m free! For His
eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

Filled with the Spirit

“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.”

— Ephesians 5:18

God gives every Christian the Holy Spirit when he or she accepts Christ as Savior, but not every Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit. Do you know whether you’re filled with the Spirit? Perhaps you wonder how you can know. Paul gives us some answers. In his Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul lists three results of being filled with the Holy Spirit. First of all, we will sing and make melody to the Lord in our hearts as God fills us with His joy. Second, we will give thanks for all things. We will know that the Omnipotent, sovereign God holds us gently in His hands. Nothing can come to us that does not first pass through the filter of His love. Nothing happens to us that He can’t make good. Therefore, by faith, we can give Him thanks for all things. A third result of being filled with the Spirit is that we will submit ourselves one to another in the fear of the Lord. Why does that indicate being filled with the Holy Spirit? Because when we draw close to Jesus Christ, we see our sins clearly; we see how unworthy we are of the least of His favors. Our pride diminishes, and we become filled with humility. We, therefore, willingly submit ourselves to one another.

Do you see those results in your life? Whether or not you do, invite the Holy Spirit to fill you today. Some suppose they can be filled with the Holy Spirit once for all time, but such filling needs to occur daily, moment by moment. Ask God right now and each day to fill you with His Holy Spirit, that the Spirit may empower you to serve Him with joy.

“By ‘riches of grace’ the apostle means all the spiritual resources
that are at the disposal of Christians through the redeeming
work of Christ and the gracious presence of his Holy Spirit.”
Henry W. Dubose

The Art of Bible Reading

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

— 2 Timothy 2:15

When you receive a letter from someone you love, you open it right away and read it again and again, right? Well, in your Bible you have sixty-six love letters from God’s heart to yours. What a tremendous profession of His undying love. Don’t you want to read them again and again to get every last nuance of His dedication to you?

We need to read our Bibles daily. When God gave manna from Heaven, He told His children not to store it up, but to go out and collect it each day. In the same way, we need to feed ourselves daily on our spiritual food—God’s Word. But despite our good intentions, we often find it difficult to remain dedicated to daily Bible reading. Let me make a few suggestions that may help you delve into God’s love letter to you.

First of all, develop a plan for your Bible reading. For example, read from both the Old Testament and the New Testament on the same day, perhaps from the New Testament in the morning and from the Old Testament in the evening. Then take time to meditate on what you just read. Ask yourself, “What did this passage say? Does it communicate a theological doctrine? Is it a command I should obey? A promise I can claim? A warning I should heed? An example I should follow or avoid? How is God trying to speak to my heart?” Then resolve to live by the truth the passage shows you. If you need help understanding what you read, get a good commentary, such as Matthew Henry, which has stood the test of time and blessed thousands of lives. When you interact with other Christians, make a habit of sharing what you’ve learned from your personal Bible reading, and invite your friends to share, too. You can also benefit greatly by studying the Bible with other believers. Sometimes group interaction helps you see a truth you would have missed if you had studied alone.

The Bible is an amazing, unique, life-giving Book. If you have neglected to read God’s love letters to you, ask Him to forgive you and to help you become a student of His Word.

“The Bible is our only safe guide.”
Daniel Webster


“Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”

— Proverbs 3:9–10

God offers us blessings in many different forms. He blesses us with peace, joy, love of family and friends, emotional stability, and a host of other things. But God also promises to provide for all our material needs “out of His riches in glory.” We don’t provide for ourselves from our paychecks, our abilities to make money, or our bank accounts; rather, God takes care of our needs from His riches in glory.

Have you (excuse the pun) banked on this promise? So many people worry about paying their bills, but God has promised to make ends meet for us. Yet because they lack faith, many people hold on tightly to what God gives them, and as a result, they rob God of their tithes and offerings. They don’t honor the Lord with their substance by giving as God has instructed. Instead, they withhold from Him the “firstfruits” of their income. Therefore, God withholds His blessing from them. Hear what God says through His prophet Haggai to the ancient Israelites who neglected to tithe: “You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it” (Haggai 1:6, NIV).

God doesn’t want us to tithe so He can have our money. He has all He needs. But He wants us to honor Him in this area of our lives. When we give tithes and offerings to God, we exhibit recognition that the Lord has given us everything we have. We give to Him because we’re grateful for all His blessings. Most of all, we give because He has commanded us to do so. We submit ourselves to His will by giving to Him first.

God promises to bless those who give faithfully (see Malachi 3:10) and invites us to test Him in this. If you haven’t already, give a tithe of your income, even if you believe you can’t afford it. As you obey Him by tithing, God will pour out His blessings upon you.

“Religion begat prosperity …”
Rev. Cotton Mather

William Wilberforce

“… those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them …”

— 2 Corinthians 5:15

Do you have a high and holy cause you’re working toward, one you’d like to see resolved before the end of your life? William Wilberforce, the model Christian statesman of all time, had a cause for which he fought most of his adult life. His dedicated service is an example to all who would reach for a seemingly unattainable goal, one worthy of a lifetime of effort.

Wilberforce was born into great wealth and comfort in England in 1759. After attending Cambridge University, he was, at the age of twenty-one, elected into the House of Commons. Wilberforce found life in Christ, and after his conversion, he dedicated himself wholeheartedly to freeing the slaves.

What drove a man of such wealth and comfort to give of himself so completely? To live for Christ, and thus to live for others, became his consuming passion. His friend William Pitt, the prime minister of England, declared his belief that Wilberforce was the man to lead the way toward the abolition of slavery. Wilberforce believed, after much prayer, that God had spoken to him through his friend, calling him to a lifetime crusade. After intense study, Wilberforce took the floor of Parliament and introduced a bill to abolish slavery. Parliament overwhelmingly defeated Wilberforce’s bill that year, but he didn’t give up. Year after year, Wilberforce fought relentlessly for the emancipation of the slaves, beginning with the abolition of the slave trade. Wilberforce’s bill didn’t pass until at least twenty years after he had begun his crusade. A few years after that bill passed, Parliament passed legislation freeing all the slaves held in all British territories. On that day, seven hundred thousand British slaves were freed. Wilberforce was greatly moved to know that his lifetime of effort had finally resulted in the end he had sought. He thanked God that he had lived long enough to see the final results of his efforts.

If you work toward a heartfelt cause, toward fulfilling God’s call on your life, allow Wilberforce’s life to encourage you. Don’t ever give up. What God has called you to, He will most certainly fulfill.

“O Heavenly Father, give me a heart like the heart of Jesus Christ,
a heart more ready to minister than to be ministered unto, a heart
moved by compassion towards the weak and the oppressed.”
John Baillie

J.S. Bach

“… ‘Behold! The Lamb of God …’”

— John 1:29

Johann Sebastian Bach is considered the father of classical music and, in the opinion of many, the greatest musician ever to have lived. But he not only wrote and played music excellently, he also sought to glorify God in all he did. For three centuries now, Bach’s music has taken people beyond themselves and toward God.

In addition to composing music, Bach also fulfilled countless other obligations. He raised a large family. He taught music on a regular basis. He served as a church musician as well as conductor for the church choir and orchestra. He also fulfilled an obligation to compose new music for every Sunday. He regarded himself as a conscientious craftsman doing a job to the best of his ability for his supervisor’s satisfaction, for others’ pleasure and edification, and above all, for God’s glory.

Many historians have noted that all over his manuscripts Bach wrote notations such as “S.D.G.”(Soli Deo Gloria), meaning “Solely to the glory of God” or “I.N.J.”(In Nomine Jesu), meaning “In the name of Jesus.” Throughout his great masterpieces appear these words from Scripture: “Behold! The Lamb of God” (John 1:29). In his music, Bach honored the Lamb of God who had taken away his sin and had given him the peace and joy that pervaded his life … the Lamb of God to whom he ascribed all glory and to whom he appealed every day. According to Bach, music was worship, and he told his music pupils that unless they committed their talents to the Lord Jesus Christ they’d never become great musicians.

J. S. Bach did not live for fame or fortune. He lived for God’s glory. That focus pervaded his life. We, too, should have this goal as our singular focus.

“Where there is devotional music, God is always
at hand with His gracious presence.”
J. S. Bach

Talk to the Boss

“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

— 1 Peter 5:7

Do you have a concern today? Does something burden your heart? Well, whatever it is, cast your care upon God, for He cares about you and can do something about your concern.

Some years ago, I read an interesting book by an unbeliever who attempted to “do in” the Christian faith. Despite his lack of belief, I found insightful something he said regarding prayer. This author called prayer the most incredible conceit in the history of humankind. He argued that if you worked for General Motors as a lowly employee and wanted to see the boss, you’d not have even the remotest chance of ever entering the boss’ office. Think about it. What would happen if a citizen tried to speak to the President of the United States? I’ve thought about putting in a person-to-person call just to see what would happen. I’d probably speak to an undersecretary of an assistant to somebody, but not likely to the president. “And so,” says my skeptical friend in his book, “what an incredible conceit it is to suppose that at any moment we can talk to the boss of the whole shebang.”

Well, the concept of prayer would be an incredible conceit … if it weren’t true. But it is true, and it’s the most incredible condescension on the part of a gracious God. Have you ever thought about it? You could probably never speak to the highly placed people in this world, yet the most highly placed Person in all the universe—“the Boss of the whole shebang”— waits patiently to hear what you have to say to Him. Don’t you find that amazing?

So remember, this day and every day, you have the great privilege of prayer. You can “talk to the Boss.” Tell the Boss your worries and cares. Share with Him your triumphs and joys. He always has time to listen to you.

“Daily prayers lessen daily cares.”

Fellowship with the Father

“That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

— 1 John 1:3

Do you realize how much God wants to have fellowship with you? It’s difficult to imagine, but it’s true. He loves you and wants to be with you far more than you could ever dream.

What can we do to meet Him halfway, to play our part in developing fellowship with God? A story by the English evangelist Charles Spurgeon may hold the answer.

Suppose a great plague comes to London. People are dying everywhere. Those who are still alive feel such terror that they’ve boarded themselves up in their homes. Suppose an English nobleman has a son who is a great physician. Together they determine to help as many people as they can. The son searches for the sick and brings them to the house he and his father share. The father smiles approvingly at the son’s compassion. The son goes out again and again, searching for victims.

Suppose one day the son finds you lying hopelessly on a street corner. He picks you up tenderly in his arms and takes you to his home. As you recover, you begin to realize that nothing in the world compares to the work happening in that house. So you enter into a sympathetic understanding of the father and son’s mission. Yet if you want to actually enter into fellowship with that great man and his son, you must go further. You must come to the place where you ask them how you can help. When you do, they give you the task of carrying basins and bringing towels. You now have some part in their fellowship, yet you cannot understand it fully until the day you say, “Sir, I see that what you are doing is the only thing in life that really matters. I want to give my whole self over to it. I want to go out and join your son in bringing in the sick.” At that point, my friend, you begin to enter into and understand the deep mystery of fellowship with the father and his son.

If you’d like to enter into a deeper fellowship with the Father and His Son, ask God to show you the first step you should take. Ask Him to send someone into your life whom you can bring to Him.

“With heart toward God and hand toward man.”
Slogan Of The Salvation Army