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We humans seem pre-disposed to wanting quick fixes.

Many want to pop a pill in order to get past a depressing moment.

Many want to dive right into a rebound relationship after a heart is broken.

Many want to buy lottery tickets rather than give more offerings to the Lord.

Many want to yell at or belittle their kids or spouses — or both — rather than calmly listen and understand how to help loved ones avoid making poor choices.

Many want to go to church a few times and say a few prayers and think that will transform the spiritually confused, compromised heart.

The only quick fix that really counts is the instantaneous justification that becomes ours when we fix our hearts/hopes on the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ.

Other than that, life is a sometimes slow-moving journey.

Particularly with respect to our financial status.

Patience is mandatory when it comes to financial health and God’s will.

Here is what King Solomon had to say about the matter:

“Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.”

No financial advisor in his or her right mind would advocate gambling as a sound financial strategy. Yet, millions of people think that buying lottery tickets or heading to the casino or bookie joint will improve their financial health.

It’s so foolish and contrary to fact.

But Satan’s lies are tasty and always have been, particularly to those not conditioned to hunger only for truth taught by the Lord.

Millions of others buy into the claim that multi-level marketing schemes are the path to affluence. For a small percentage of recruits, that turns out to be true but the reality is that most people lose money after signing up with network marketing honchos who know that most spend more than they earn with the schemes.

Here’s the reality. A stronger financial position for most people depends more on what is NOT spent rather than what is earned.

Yes, getting a better-paying job is a great idea and should always be welcomed. But many of us don’t have that option if we believe that God has us in the job where He wants us.

We can work hard to cut our expenses, though, and to pick up supplemental income here and there and to strive for saving money, both with deposits in savings accounts and by fixing or making things ourselves.

It takes time to build wealth this way, but it is a far move viable strategy than is trying to invest in just the right cheap stock that might soar in value or to invest in some alleged “can’t miss” invention that goes nowhere or to pour money into some other get-rich-quick strategy that actually turns out to be a get-poorer-quick calamity.

Let’s follow Solomon’s advice.

Patiently.

Let’s get financially richer slowly, recognizing that we’re already been made gazillionaires spiritually.

As always, I love you
Martin

Many of you are relieved today because you made the deadline for filing your tax return.

It’s an annual ordeal that nobody would classify as “fun” yet we accept that it is part of living in a governed nation.

Many people portray themselves as wealthy but their tax return proves otherwise.

The reverse is true, of course, with many portraying themselves as poor yet their tax return proves otherwise.

We can lie to other people about our financial status, but it’s hard to get away with lying to the Internal Revenue Service.

Oh, some people will do so for a time, but almost always they are eventually caught and it ends up costing them more than if they had just paid the taxes expected of them.

We humans are something else when it comes to money and its influence upon our behavior.

We’ve all heard the stories about the spinster librarians or reclusive old couples whose wills surprisingly leave millions of dollars to favorite causes…. or sometimes to their pets.

The consistent theme in such stories is that relatives and friends were shocked at the amount of money the misers had accumulated.

Obviously, these folk didn’t believe in conspicuous consumption.

It’s more common, I suppose, that prideful people will live and spend to impress others, even if it means living on the edge — or past the edge – of financial insolvency.

Blow money at nightclubs, drive a newer car, enjoy snazzy wardrobe additions on a frequent basis, own the latest tech gadgets, take enviable vacations, enhance the physique with plastic surgery — all paid for on credit.

So what if the payments made don’t keep up with the ballooning principal? There’s fun now and peer esteem now and isn’t that what matters?

We all know that hoarding money and leaving it to a cat is foolish.

And we all know that blowing money and leaving behind a legacy of debt is foolish.

This isn’t a modern phenomenon, by any means.

Check out Solomon’s words in Proverbs 13:7.

“Some who are poor pretend to be rich; others who are rich pretend to be poor.”

As you consider the roster of your friends and acquaintences, you’ll likely find some who fit into either of the above categories.

Such masks are never good. God certainly sees right through them.

Let’s reject the temptation to “pretend.”

Let’s remember that being rich — in God’s eyes — is having enough to give some away to others who really are poor.

For it’s the person who doesn’t feel like giving any money away who really is “poor” — no matter how much money he or she has in the bank.

You see, no matter how much money we have in the bank, we can be rich when we give money to others because we’re confident that God will provide for us.

As always, I love you
Martin

After the Israelites had crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, one man from each of the 12 tribes walked back into the previously flooded, now miraculously parted waterway and picked up a large stone.

An odd choice, it might appear, unless we read of the purpose for the stones.

“So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:4-7)

This extremely visual account from Hebrew history is incredibly relevant to us today.

Particularly the five-word question that Joshua said would come from generations of children.

“What do these stones mean?”

The people in Joshua’s day could easily recall the meaning of those stones and the memories of God’s deliverance power that accrued to the Israelites. Trusting God and obeying God was always the best way because He could ALWAYS deliver on His promises if His children obeyed Him.

The stones served as a tangible reminder of God’s endless love, earthly power and eternal purpose.

You and I haven’t walked across the dried bottom of a miraculously stopped up river. But we have been delivered by God’s grace through some very difficult emotional, physical, financial or spiritual obstacles.

It is that deliverance that we should memorialize with stories or keepsakes or even with dedicated places of prayer in our homes or churches.

And those stories or keepsakes or dedicated places of prayer should prompt questions by others — particularly children — about why we have such memorials.

“God was SO good to me and here’s what He did…..” should be our introduction to a recounting of God’s grace, shared with inquiring hearts.

I want to encourage you to set up “stones” in your life that prompt children or other adults to ask questions about God’s intercession in your life.

Write out a testimony of how God helped you through a tough situation.

Frame some pictures of you serving in an important volunteer ministry at church and put them in places that people will see them and ask about the activity.

Prepare a prayer garden in your yard or at your church so that people can inquire as to its purpose and be told of God’s intervening nature.

Assemble a small, decorative array of stones — picked up on the grounds of an missions ministry outpost — in a pretty bowl on your work desk and be prepared to explain the work of the Lord in that place.

Perhaps you’re one who can memorialize a deliverance from alcoholism by smashing booze bottles into tiny pieces and gluing them to the base of a small cross placed on your desk.

People need to see us memorialize our deliverance so that we can teach them about Him.

As they do, some just might want to join us on the “other side” of the river.

As always, I love you
Martin

Infomercial tycoons have made millions of dollars from people who want assured success via speaking and decision-making strategies.

Perhaps you’ve attended such a session or purchased a CD series promising a faster path to prosperity.

The Bible can save us a ton of money, though, in our pursuit of genuine prosperity of the heart, mind and soul.

And by living out the very simple principle of Joshua 1, we can even anticipate prosperity of the tangible.

In a beautifully crafted affirmation of God’s plan for Joshua’s blessing, the Lord spoke these words as the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land:

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” (Joshua 1:7-8)

My goodness.

Check out that last sentence again.

“Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

I want to prosper and succeed in all I do.

So do you.

Fortunately, we don’t have to be tall, dark and handsome with perfect white teeth and toned, tanned skin in order to experience the contentment of success promised by infomercial tycoons.

We simply have to read the Bible daily and meditate day and night on what we’ve learned so as to not wander off the path of faithfulness.

It’s about spiritual humility, not physical or mental ability.

Do what God asks.

Receive what God promises.

I like that formula.

It’s simple.

And I need simple.

Perhaps you do, too.

Let’s be strong. Let’s be courageous. Let’s stick to the path of faith.

Favors from our Father will follow if we do.

As always, I love you
Martin

What is fun for you?

Doing good things that please God?

Or doing things that don’t?

The Bible says that God sees all we do and say.

If what we do or what we say is enjoyable to Him, we’re good to go spiritually.

The reverse is true, of course.

Here’s a concise scripture regarding this topic:

“Doing wrong is fun for a fool, but living wisely brings pleasure to the sensible.” (Proverbs 10:23)

People ignoring God’s commands sometimes have a lot of fun in their sinful choices regarding sexual immorality, coarse joking, unethical financial dealings and other ungodly behaviors. But the clock is ticking on that kind of fun and the bomb of consequences will eventually explode with costly consequences, sometimes in this life but definitely in the next.

People living wisely, though, gain pleasure from thinking and living in the way of godliness. Pleasure is more enduring than fun. Pleasure is the fruit of good choices.

I’d rather have a life pattern that yields mellow, no-regrets pleasure than I would random flashes of intense fun that sprout from sin yet are destined to wilt in the heat of God’s judgment.

There is no price tag that we can put on a clear conscience. It is invaluable.

Let’s live wisely in order to gain that which can only come from the overflow of living to please God.

It’s the more pleasurable path.

As always, I love you
Martin

Most trees don’t develop deep roots unless they have to.

If plants have frequent access to water in the first few feet of soil, the roots spread wide but not deep.

This is why so many trees are toppled in warm climates when hurricanes strike.

But there are a few tree varieties that never topple in the storms.

They might be stripped of leaves or even branches, but the trunk remains.

Why?

Because of deep roots.

The plant kingdom teaches us something else about deep roots.

They are the survival pipeline when droughts hit.

Plants without deep roots dry up and die.

How do deep-rooted plants avoid this outcome?

By having to keep reaching, reaching and reaching with roots until the sustaining water was found.

I have a garden and I have trained my plants to not require watering every day.

Why? Because some days I am just not around to do it and I don’t want them to die as a result.

Listen, we need deep roots of faith because we experience emotional or financial and physical wellness droughts.

Sometimes we’re in a spiritual drought where it seems that blessings are rare and burdens are many.

At such times, our roots can grow deeper through prayer, through Bible study, through worship and through conversation with other believers as we seek after the everflowing Living Water of God’s Truth.

We will feel parched at times. But we will find the purpose of the parching — to deepen our roots in preparation for a more godly life.

We will be on our way toward becoming oaks of righteousness rather than swaying reeds of comfort and convenience.

Here’s the verse from today’s reading in the One-Year Bible that prompted this message:

“The godly have deep roots.” (Proverbs 12:3)

No matter what storms might batter and strip our branches, no matter what droughts shrivel our leaves, let’s remain alive and standing firm because we’ve sent our spiritual roots deep into God’s heart through prayer, worship, study and Christian fellowship.

It’s what godly people do.

As always, I love you
Martin

As a former business editor for a group of newspapers, I enjoy reading articles regarding workplace relationships and management styles.

I read an article this morning that can have a direct benefit for Christians who practice the lessons described by the author.

Published orginally in Inc. magazine, the article describes seven characteristics of likeable bosses who foster greater productivity among employees.

As I read this list, I was reminded that these same seven characteristics can help Christians to be more likeable in the workplace or schools or neighborhood or at home.

And the more likeable we are, the more “listen-able” we are to the non-Christians around us.

In view of our mission to share faith with others according to the timing and leading of the Holy Spirit, boosting our ability to influence others is a very important thing.

So let’s appy these faith-adapted principles at every opportunity.

1. Be Friendly

Sounds obvious, but simply taking a moment to greet your unsaved friends by name and make small talk with them goes a long way toward increasing your likeability. Be as approachable and accessible as possible. Take time to compliment others and ask them how their day is going. Be patient; remember that it’s important to set aside time for your people, no matter how busy you are. In fact, that busyness — yours and theirs — makes a friendly word even more important.

2. Be Available

Some pretty amazing ideas for life success come from non-Christians, but if the Christians aren’t approachable by non-Christians, most of these ideas will never surface. Non-Christians are more likely to come to share their ideas and potential solutions when their Christians make it clear that they value their others’ opinions and want to hear them. While not every idea is going to be a winner, it’s very much in your interest to hear people out. Showing non-Christians that their opinions and ideas are important to your life is a wonderful way to keep your relationships energized and happy–and boost your likeability along the way.

3. Be Flexible

Life happens, so try to be flexible whenever you can. Decide what rules you will make exceptions for and avoid putting too much stress on the little things. Be understanding when things go wrong, and accept that people make mistakes. Offer second chances whenever possible. Make sure that the work of living and serving gets done, but be flexible when it comes to personal matters, weather, or traffic.

4. Be Positive

Just as negative energy can rub off on others, so can positive energy. While negative emotions on your part tend to create negative outcomes in both your unsaved friends and your organization, positive emotions help your friends open up to a universe of new options and alternatives. Be optimistic and genuine with the people living around you and they will be more likely to react in the same way, making your relationships healthy and constructive.

5. Be Dependable

You need to believe that your non-Christian friends will do the right things at the right time, and they need to be able to depend on you to support them in good times and bad. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, no matter how small. Your unsaved friends must be able to trust you because their future is in your hands. Being an unreliable Christian will result in unhappy and distant relationships with unsaved people who would rather be friends with someone else.

6. Be Grateful

Everyone wants to know how they are doing, so give feedback. Praise is just important as criticism, and you should regularly complement your non-Christian friends for a job well done. As human beings, we subconsciously seek praise in all aspects of our lives, including the job. Show your appreciation in a variety of ways. Keep it fresh and genuine.

7. Be Compassionate

Try to see yourself through your non-Christian friend’s eyes–are you someone you would like? Put yourself in your others’ shoes and have compassion for their trials and tribulations as well as their accomplishments and victories. Having (and showing) true compassion for your non-Christian friends might take effort on your part, but the results will be well worth it. Your people will respect you as a Christian, and they will find you more likeable–increasing their loyalty and effectiveness as a result.

Let’s do our best to apply these principles. There are many people who need close relationships that these measures can help to produce.

As always, I love you
Martin

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