All posts by Charlie Artner

A Gift Every Four Years

“. . . I will sing aloud of Your lovingkindness in the morning.”
— Psalm 59:16

Devotion:

Time is a funny thing—either we have too little of it or too much of it. This year we get an extra day, a gift to do with it what we want—twenty-four shining hours. We were made for eternity; therefore, we are never fully at home in time. Every new day is a gift, and the rays of eternity light it up and show us what is important.

Some of you have planned to serve Christ. You have determined that you would do great things for the Lord. Oh yes, you have planned to be a witness for Him, but you have been so busy. You have no intention to come before Him without one soul with which to greet Him. You do not desire to come into His presence empty-handed.

When we look at all the urgent things we need to do today, we should ask ourselves, “Are these things really important? In light of eternity, will they matter? What will matter a thousand years from now?”

While we go about our duties, let us not get caught up in what has been called “the tyranny of the urgent” and miss that which is truly important. Today, ask God for one beautiful opportunity to do something of eternal value for Him.

Question to ponder:

HOW WILL YOU USE THE GIFT OF AN EXTRA DAY?

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus

“Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”
— Hebrews 12:2

In the early days of my pastoring, I had the pleasure of witnessing to a young man in his twenties, who finally accepted Christ. He was growing in the Lord. The very week after he joined the church, he made the central headlines of the newspaper. The FBI was looking for him for some kind of fraudulent activity he had been involved in before.

In fact, when they found him, he was so overwhelmed by this experience he had a mental breakdown. I visited him in Broward Hospital’s mental ward. When I went into his room, he was like a caged lion. He hardly seemed aware of my presence. He was pacing back and forth across the room, mumbling to himself, moaning, bewailing, and gesturing about what was going to happen to him. He was possibly facing twenty years in prison.

After some time, he quieted down as I read the Scripture to him about how Peter had looked at the waves and had begun to sink. I said to him, “You are looking at the waves, and you are sinking into total mental depression and agony of spirit. Lift up your eyes to Jesus. Fix your eyes upon Him. Look upon Him. Look unto Him.”

Gradually, all of his anxiety and distress just seemed to drain away. He sat down in a chair and began to look at me with eyes that obviously were quite full of understanding. He was restored. Later, the charges against him were dropped. Though your problems seem insurmountable, fix your eyes on Jesus.

Jesus Christ, give me strength for today to focus on You. Forgive me for too often focusing on the problems of life, but not You. If ever I should start to sink, let me say with Peter, “Lord, save me.” Thank You that You have overcome the world…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE CAN
KEEP OUR EYES ON JESUS.

The Secret to Walking on Water

“Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, bid me come to You on the water.’”
— Matthew 14:28

As we know, one night when the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee and Jesus was not present, a storm came up. They were afraid and even thought they saw a ghost. It was Jesus, walking on the water. Then, impetuous Peter said, “If it is you, let me walk on the water to You.” And Jesus said, “Come.”

Peter, climbing up the gunnel of the ship, steps down upon the water, no doubt very hesitantly. Holding on to the side, he pushes himself away and begins to walk upon the waves, coming to Christ. What an extraordinary experience. Other than Jesus Christ, he is the only other human being I have ever heard of who actually walked upon water.

Now, we may tend to smile at Peter because of the fearfulness that came upon him and his sinking into the waves. But, let us not forget that Peter did walk a number of steps upon the water. How about you? How many steps have you walked on water?

Then Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the boisterous sea. He saw the effects of it in the waves that were dashing about him. And when he took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the waves, he began instantly to sink.

How many times have you or I lain upon our beds at night microscopically examining the waves and wondering why we were sinking? If you would learn to walk on water, then don’t look at the waves, look at Jesus.

Lord Jesus, thank You for holding us up in life, even through difficult storms. Help us to focus on You and not the wind and waves. Give us the grace to keep our eyes on You through the storms of life…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH,
WE CAN “WALK ON WATER.”

The Real Super Bowl

“Woe unto the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short.”
— Revelation 12:12

Every year millions of Americans eagerly await the Super Bowl. This is when the two most successful and powerful teams in the country meet together for a final conflict, for the championship of the world, preceded by a long competition leading up to the final event.

But when you think about it, there is a real Super Bowl, which is of far greater consequence than any football game. I am talking about a supernatural bowl in which there are two teams in this world that are involved in a contest for the championship of the world, for the dominion of the world.

So in this “Super Bowl” it is Christians vs. the dragons, and many people don’t know what the outcome is going to be. There are those in our country today who join Satan’s team, really believing they are winning and are going to have the victory, receiving from below the success they are seeking in this world. It is a bowl that should indeed cause great interest, because not merely is there a trophy or ring involved, but the entire conquest and dominion of the world is at stake. This Super Bowl is described in the book of Revelation. Thank God we are on the winning side. As the hymn notes, “So from the beginning the fight we were winning.”

Lord, give me strength for today to serve You, knowing that You have conquered the evil one. Though his “craft and power are great and armed with cruel hate,” You defeated Him, Jesus, on the cross and in Your resurrection. Renew my spirit to serve You with joy…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE KNOW
WE ARE ON THE WINNING SIDE.

The God of 11:59 P.M.

“He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.”
— Mark 6:48

God’s timing is perfect. But sometimes, we may feel that Christ seems far away. Let me assure you He is watching you and is able to come to your aid. It may not be nearly as soon as you would like, but life is a school, and we have to be left to learn the lessons. I believe life’s great central lesson is to learn to trust Him.

As we know, when the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee one night, at Jesus’ instructions, a storm arose suddenly. Sometimes it seems in life that the winds which seem to be fair for others are contrary to us. It doesn’t matter whether you are in a course on storms, economics, sicknesses or hospitals—whatever it may be, that is the course laid out for you in this world by God.

Finally, in the last watch of the night, Jesus came to the disciples walking on the water. No doubt they had been praying for Him to come. But suddenly He appeared in His most astonishing way—walking on the waves, which for them were so troublesome, but for Him they simply provided the pavement for His feet.

The disciples were terrified. They thought they had seen a ghost, a phantasma (as the Greek word is), a phantom. And then Jesus spoke to them. He said, “It is I. Do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27). Although it may seem God is late, He is never late, even if He may be the God of 11:59 P.M.

My Savior and my God, thank You for always being there for me. Thank You for all the times You stepped in and cleared up a situation for me. Thank You that Your timing is always perfect…

IN GOD’S STRENGTH,
WE CAN WAIT UPON HIM.

Remembering God’s Presence in Our Lives

“For He has said: ‘I will never leave you, nor forsake you.’”
— Hebrews 13:5

How often it is with us, that in the midst of our distresses and troubles, we think God is far away—that Christ is far away—and we seem to be all on our own without any resources or help. Sometimes we despair; we are terrified. But Christ is watching us. Whatever problem we are in, though Christ may seem far away, He is there, watching, and He is willing and able to come to our need.

Oftentimes it seems He comes in the very last moment. When the disciples experienced a storm one night on the Sea of Galilee, He allowed them to expend their energies until finally they were at the end of themselves. He proved again that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.

I have had my share of problems and distresses on the water, also. One incident could have been a terrible disaster when a little child was in a boat I was driving. But in God’s mercy, the most that was lost were material possessions—not life or limb. What to my mind was certain total disaster, God, in His gracious providence oversaw and allowed the boat to land right on top of a tree, which lowered it gently into the thick under-brush below.

I have often thought about how God was with me, even when I didn’t think He was. When He seemed to be far away, and I was out in the middle of a lake, completely helpless, totally beyond my ability to do anything about the situation, I found that God helped.

Oh God, Help of the helpless, abide with me. So often we do not see Your hand that leads us home. Help us to remember in the darkness what You have shown us in the light. Let us trust that You see us when we do not see You.

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE WILL
MAKE IT THROUGH LIFE.

The Temptation to Quit

“And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not give up.”
— Galatians 6:9

The temptation to quit is a very powerful temptation, because unlike some other temptations it does not take any effort to quit. To quit, one does not have to do anything. He just stops, sits down, and gives up.

Quitting is just a matter of stopping our fight with entropy, which is always tending to push everything down and bring it into chaos and disorder.

We need to realize that we quit through discouragement because we lose hope—we lose the hope of success. The great missionary, William Carey, said that no great enterprise could ever be carried out without hope of success. The Bible says, “So now abide faith, hope, and love, these three” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Faith looks to the past and anchors itself in the promises of God. Hope looks to the future and inevitably flows out of that faith in the promises of God—the promises that say we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). We shall reap in the future, if we do not give up hope (Galatians 6:9).

Having faith in the promises of God and hope for a victorious future, we are enabled to live a life of love in the present. Hope is a powerful motivating factor, and it is that which is guaranteed by God when He says we can do all things through Christ. Therefore, we need to take Him at His Word and believe in Him, so we don’t lose heart and give up.

Lord, give me the strength not to lose heart and give up. Give me the ability to persevere despite the obstacles. Thank You that You can do the impossible. Thank You that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE CAN
PERSEVERE TO THE END.

Washington the Christian

“I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”
— Psalm 69:30

Some people question the Christianity of George Washington, but the facts speak for themselves. He was a vestryman in good standing in the Episcopal Church at a time when their doctrine conformed closely to evangelical teaching. He was well-known for his godly disposition and his fervent prayer life, for instance, when he was spotted kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge.

His prayers were answered as God sovereignly helped the fledgling nation in its struggle against the most powerful nation on earth. So much so that Washington wrote this to Thomas Nelson, Jr. in a letter dated August 20, 1778: “The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.”

When Washington was inaugurated in 1789 in New York City, he got down on his knees and kissed the Bible. Then he led the entire Senate and House of Representatives to an Episcopal church for a two-hour worship service.

When Washington left office, he penned a lengthy Farewell Address, considered one of the greatest messages in American history. Listen to what he said about the place of religion in our national life: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness.”

Lord, give us strength to preserve this great nation You have given us. Help us to learn from some of our nation’s founders to put You and Your Word first in our lives…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE CAN
RESTORE THIS NATION.

Jesus, Man of Miracles

“They were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, ‘We have seen wonderful things today.’”
— Luke 5:26

Jesus often caused people to wonder because of His miracles. In fact, “miracle” comes from the word mirare, meaning “to cause wonder.” Jesus was a man of miracles. We read that He went about doing good. What were His works? We know that carpenters build things with wood and nails. Preachers preach sermons. As to Jesus, His works were miracles.

Fred Melden said, “He [the Miracle Man] came to us by a miracle and left us by a miracle.” He was raised from the dead by a miracle, and everywhere He went there was one continuous stream of miracles. John tells that if all the things Jesus had done were written in a book all the world could not hold it. There are thirty-three miracles recorded in the Gospels. He lived to about thirty-three years of age, but the miracles are all recorded in a three-year period. But these were just a small token of the miracles He did.

He was a man of miracles. He was so full of goodness that the demons fled before Him. He was so full of life that death fled before Him. We read in the Scriptures the reactions to Christ were continually one of wonder and amazement and astonishment. We read, “They were terrified and frightened.”…“They marveled.”… “They were all amazed.”

Of course, His greatest miracle is the transformation He can bring to a human soul. For that miracle in my heart, I will ever be grateful.

Lord, give me strength for today that I might reflect well the great miracle You have worked in my heart—changing me from the inside out. God of the miraculous, thank You for all the signs and wonders that show forth Your power. Thank You for supernaturally intervening in my life without me even knowing it…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH AND POWER
ALL IS POSSIBLE.

Slow Learners

“Suddenly a great storm arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.”
— Matthew 8:24

Since their name in Greek means “students,” the disciples spent time with Jesus learning from Him. If you will, they had been enrolled in the school of Christ. But they were slow learners. One time when they were on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples were overwhelmed by a sudden storm. Jesus was asleep. Matthew 8 tells us: “His disciples went to Him and awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ He replied, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’”(Matthew 8:25-26a). He solved that problem instantly by rebuking the wind and the waves, which obeyed Him.

The disciples had been through Storms 101. But it was in the daytime, then, when they went out to sea, and Jesus was with them. Being weary, He was asleep in the stern when a great storm arose. But now in this more advanced class (Storms 201) Jesus was absent, and it was darkest night. They indeed were filled with distress—and well might they be.

But Mark would have us understand that Jesus, though high in a mountain miles away, was praying for them, as the Great Intercessor. He was watching them in the midst of the lake in their distress in rowing.

They had already been through Storms 101, as described above, and they didn’t do well. In fact, they came close to flunking altogether. At best they might have gotten a C minus. How are you doing in the School of Christ’s Discipleship? He has proven that we can trust Him in all things.

Jesus Christ, Lord even of the storms, pilot me over the tempestuous seas of life. Though the waves roll and there are treacherous rocks below, Jesus Savior, pilot me…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE MAKE IT
THROUGH THE STORMS OF LIFE.