All posts by Charlie Artner

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.


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…


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…


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…


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…


Trusting God in All Things

“Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.”
— 1 Peter 5:7

A man once discovered the lesson that it is important to trust in the Lord in all circumstances. He was in great distress. He had done everything he could, but nothing was working out right. At length he said that in prayer he climbed the great marble staircase that ascended up through the clouds. When he finally arrived at the very throne room of God, he found that the huge brass doors were closed and locked. Though he beat upon them until his knuckles were raw, he sank to his knees, exhausted, at which time he heard a whisper that seemed to seep under the door saying, “Trust Me. Trust Me.”

There is the lesson, my friends. God is simply saying to us in every different course in life, “Trust Me.” Whether we are talking about the schools of this world, whether we are talking about business or ministry or relationships. Whatever it may be, God is saying, “Trust Me.”

Many modern unbelievers look out into the vastness of the universe and ask the question: Is the universe friendly? I can’t vouch for the universe. Surely the jungle is red in tooth and claw and there are many dangerous things in this fallen universe, but one thing I know beyond any peradventure of a doubt, and that is that He who created it is far beyond friendly. He loves us with an everlasting love, and He has promised He will take care of us.

Lord, my Shepherd, give me strength for today to trust in You with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. Thank You for guiding, leading, and loving me. On the sad and difficult days, let me remember what You have done for me in the past…


The School of Life

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding…”
— Proverbs 3:5

Recently, a church staff member and I were walking down one of the back halls of the church when he spotted something unusual on the floor. He picked up a rather strange looking object and said, “What in the world is this?” As we turned it over and over, he finally realized what it was and what to do with it.

Life is like that. Before we can really know what we ought to do with it, we need to know what it is and what it is for. A lot of people don’t really know. In fact, I checked, and probably could give you seventy-five to a hundred definitions by different writers of what life is:

“Life is a bowl of cherries,” said one—until you get to the pits.

Or, “Life,” said Shakespeare, “is a stage [a theater] and every man and woman merely players, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”

Life is . . . How would you finish that sentence?

I believe the Bible teaches that life is a school. Some of you might be a little unhappy to hear that because you didn’t care much for school; you would rather think of it as a seventy-year recess. But the Bible teaches, I am confident, that life is a school. In fact, we are told in the Great Commission of Christ—the central command as to what we are to do—to go out and make disciples of all nations. And the ultimate lesson is that we learn to trust Him.

Lord, give me strength for today that I might learn to trust You more. Thank You for Your patience with me and Your steadfast love. Help me to pass the test in Your school, as You teach me to trust You more…


Two Caterpillars

“But we all, seeing the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord.”
— 2 Corinthians 3:18

One thing about the leading of God’s Spirit to grasp is that it isn’t always easy or comfortable. What Paul experienced was running into one wall after another, one obstacle after another as God led him, so he could later say, “For the love of Christ constrains us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

I know that certainly in my life it hasn’t been a matter of being carried on a wave of happy circumstances, but it has been confronting one obstacle after another in an effort to transcend the limitations which circumstances seem to place on my life, because I have had the deep conviction that God has been leading me all along.

You remember the two caterpillars that were crawling in the muck and the mud, talking about whatever caterpillars talk to each other about in the muck and the mud. All of a sudden a large gorgeous butterfly came flitting down out of the sky right over their heads and went on up and up and up and disappeared altogether. And one of the caterpillars turned to the other one and said, “Boy, you’d never get me up in one of those things.” And what do you know, a short time later he is one!

And so it is with the Christian life. What looks so threatening from below is glorious when you experience it through obedience. He created us that we may come to the measure of the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ.

Dear Heavenly Father, I do want to soar and to be right in the center of Your will. Increase my trust in You, for I often wonder how much Your best is going to hurt. Free me from my earth-boundedness.


A Limitation to Growth

“What does it profit, my brothers, if a man says he has faith but has no works?”
— James 2:14

Jesus is Lord, and if you’re submitted to Him, He should be Lord of all your life. Are you willing to obey the Lord in all sorts of areas, but one particular one? It may be that because we are holding back in this area, we have reached a spiritual plateau, a limit to our growth in Christ.

We grow in grace by our obedience, because as God tells us various things that He wants us to do, we are confronted with a decision, and it is a decision either to be obedient or to be disobedient. And if we obey God, then He pours out grace upon grace and blesses us yet more abundantly. If we disobey Him, we have the experience of a person rising up and hitting the ceiling and coming back down, then trying to rise again and hitting the ceiling and coming back down because of those acts of disobedience.

May I ask you this: What is it that God has told you to do in His Word that you have refused to do? That is as far as you will grow spiritually. That is your ceiling. That determines the size of your room for growth and improvement. So obedience to what we already know works a tremendous blessing. We don’t necessarily understand what that blessing is until we obey. Sometimes obedience precedes understanding. But in retrospect, we realize what a glorious, wonderful adventure to which Christ has called us.

Abba Father, I ask You today to show me any area in which I am not obeying You. Bring to my attention anything that hinders my growth and short-circuits any blessing You have for me…


The Unstoppable Evangelist

“Nor do I count my life of value to myself, so that I may joyfully finish my course and the ministry which I have received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God.”
— Acts 20:24

I once heard about an unstoppable evangelist from Africa. In order for him to not be able to spread the Gospel, the Muslims cut off his feet just about at the ankle bone. He is not able to walk at all. An African missionary showed me a picture of this man, which I showed to my family.

He was sitting on a donkey, and I asked the question, “Does this man walk on those stubs?” “No, he can’t do that. He crawls.” And then I focused my attention on his knees. If you have ever seen a big, old oak tree, with thick bark with crevices all over. That is what that man’s knees looked like.

I remember a number of weeks later it was raining on one Thursday night when our family goes out and shares the Gospel with others. It was raining, and I said to my daughter, “Are you going out tonight in this rain?”

And she said, “If that man can crawl on his knees, I can go out in my car in the rain.”

We should not allow obstacles to prevent our service for Christ.

Often when people don’t want to do something, they will offer up any number of excuses to try to wriggle out of their responsibilities. But when we consider that Jesus voluntarily suffered so horribly for us, then we should pray for the ability to follow through on our obligations.

May God give us grace to be sold out for Him—like the man with no feet.

Lord, give me strength for today to spread Your Word. Forgive me for allowing petty obstacles to keep me from doing what You have called me to do. Please, bless richly those who suffer for You who never shrink back from their Christian duty…