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The greatest hope I have for the future is the blessing of seeing the faces in heaven of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and telling them how much I appreciate the Father’s gracious choice to allow me into their presence.

The second greatest hope is being delivered from the grave into the throneroom in order experience my first-order blessing.

It is SO good to know that my earthly body — in whatever condition it is post-mortem — will be transformed in some as-yet unrevealed way and it will rise up to join heaven’s choir.

I’m not talking about what Paul promised in I Thessalonians 4:16. Instead, I’m talking about the prophet Isaiah’s words more than 700 years earlier in chapter 26 of his book:

But those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!” (verse 19)

I’m looking forward to that day when I’m flying high…. even though I have no idea of when it will happen.

The fact that it WILL is good enough for me to keep my life airworthy in a spiritual sense.

I pray that you’ll do the same.

As always, I love you
Martin

Every parent loves it when his or her child does well with a song or public reading during a school assembly.

And Christian parents are thrilled when they watch their kids quote a Bible verse or recite a Christian poem during a worship service.

We love it when our kids succeed with what they say.

God is the same way.

How do I know this?

Because of what Solomon wrote in Proverbs 23:16, that’s how.

You see, Solomon’s words are a reflection of God’s heart.

Remember, Solomon was the wisest human who ever lived, other than Jesus.

Check out this statement:

Everything in me will celebrate
 when you speak what is right.”

Whether we enjoy moments of joy because of our child’s words or of a nephew’s/niece’s words or even an adult friend’s words, the internal blessing is the same.

Potential is being realized at the moment and when it’s for the sake of glorifying God and building His Kingdom, the moment is particularly sweet.

Let’s give God a reason to celebrate today.

Let’s strive to use kind and patient words today with others.

Let’s strive to only speak words the are in the center of truth rather than words that teeter on the white line between pavement and ditch.

Let’s verbally forgive. Or, if necessary, apologize for a bad choice.

God will love it.

As always, I love you
Martin

We know of the wonderful teaching in Colossians 3:17 that all of our words and actions should honor and serve God, whether toward Him directly or toward the people He created and loves.

The same principle is also taught in a verse from today’s reading in the One-Year Bible:

“Everything we do, dear friends, is to strengthen you.” (2 Corinthians 12:19)

These words from the Apostle Paul display how much his heart was devoted to the Christians in the Corinthian church.

What makes them particularly special is that Paul’s heart was aching because of conflict within the congregation, from member to member, from members toward scriptures they were ignoring and from some members toward Paul via acceptance of false reports.

Even in the midst of that disappointment, Paul’s love remained.

His integrity was solid.

His devotion never wavered.

Though treated as an enemy by some, Paul responded with love for all of his “dear friends.”

I’m sure that many prayers preceded his intercessory actions on behalf of the Corinthian Christians.

He loved them and wanted divine guidance and empowerment in order to strengthen the believers.

This, of course, is a wonderful example for us.

Everything we do as Christians, particularly toward those in our congregations, should be for strengthening others.

Not one of our God-given breaths should be used to say anything that tears down, but instead to build up.

And every calorie burned should be fueling our deeds rooted in faith, not flesh.

When our head hits the pillow tonight, may it be true that everything we did served to strengthen our friends.

As always, I love you
Martin

They had lost their homes, their jobs and many of their family and friends. And they had been forced to leave their beloved Jerusalem.

In fact, one of their beloved leaders had been murdered and countless numbers of people they loved had been thrown into prison.

All because of loving and living for a man who had taught them to love all people.

It wasn’t fair.

But it was a time of great faithfulness.

The beginning of Acts 8 describes the tsunami of persecution that came against Christians after the martyrdom of Stephen.

Hell was unleashed in a sense upon Christians in and around Jerusalem, the birthplace of Christianity.

Yet, what Satan intended for extinguishing the flames of faith instead spread them to a much wider audience.

The hard times actually served the purposes of the Great Commission.

Check out these words from Acts 8:4.

But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.”

I don’t wish hard times on anybody. I certainly don’t go looking for them.

They happen, though, and it’s important that we look within them for opportunities to spread our faith, whether it be to the person seated in the Career Center next to us who is also looking for a job or it is the discouraged looking man in the surgery waiting room two seats down from us who could really use a prayer for his wife who is in surgery as is ours.

The seeds of hope that sprinkle from our lives into others just might sprout and grow as the Lord finds more receptive minds and hearts.

Listen, when tough times come, particularly those that seem SO unfair, let’s shine, not whine.

How people view our faith — and hopefully Jesus — will be radically different based on which we choose.

One other thing… please pray for the millions of Christians around the world who are facing persecution by terrorists yet continue to shine, not whine.

As always, I love you
Martin

Having an intercessory, shepherd’s heart is not just for the Christian apostles of the 1st Century.

It’s something that every Christian is called to have.

Even if we’re shepherding just one person.

Here’s what the Apostle Paul wrote regarding his shepherd’s heart:

I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?” (2 Corinthians 11:28-29)

We should pray daily for the believers and congregations within our circles of influence. They’re our family, after all.

When a Christian brother or sister is struggling, we should feel their need for help and encouragement. That’s when we’ll be more likely to come alongside of them in prayer and active efforts to help as fellow believers should.

If someone is getting bad information, whether doctrinally or with how live in everyday life, we should be discerning of the poisonous path being promoted and we shouldn’t complacently say nothing because we don’t want to get involved.

When we do speak, though, it should be with words based on facts and scripture, not only our feelings and opinions.

For opinions often have little influence against destructive behavior designed to tear down others in order to divide loyalties.

Let’s all commit to being good shepherds, regardless of if we wear the title.

There are too many sheep starving for safe pasture, Living Water and someone to help them against the wolves.

As always, I love you
Martin

The best way to weaken the influence of an attacking troublemaker is almost always by indirect action rather than a loud “Shut up!”

You see, the troublemaker likely won’t shut up and might spew even more poison about you.

You’ve seen this happen at the job or at the school or among extended family or perhaps even at church.

What’s so much better to do is to display personal integrity, kindness and Christlike character in order to reveal the truth to others that the poison words are bogus.

Fortunately, most of us don’t have to deal with this very often.

But when we do, it’s vital that we get it right.

Just like the Apostle Paul did in 2 Corinthians 11:7-15. If you’ll click this link and read the passage from today’s section in the One-Year Bible, you’ll see that enemies of the Gospel and Paul were trying to destroy his influence.

Paul didn’t respond with poison. Instead, he responded by pointing to his efforts to live with humility and integrity.

Paul wanted to leave his enemies firing blanks so that their attacks only made noise but scored no hits.

For Paul to say in verse 9, “I have never been a burden to you and I never will be,” not only confirmed his commitment to the believers at Corinth but it also displayed his pastor’s heart that he never wanted the sheep to suffer because he was a mooching minister.

It had to have pained Paul’s heart to know that lies were being told about him just so his protective influence would be lessened.

But this wasn’t about defending one’s ego. This was about affirming his love and personal integrity in order to continue shepherding the flock. This was about equipping the sheep to know the truth in order to alert them to falsehood coming from opponents of truth.

Regardless of the setting wherein you might be facing attacks on your character, please focus first of having the personal character that honors and imitates the Lord and then focus on humbly communicating that reminder to those who might be hearing lies and attacks upon you.

It’s not about shouting down the masquerading angels, the wolves in sheep’s clothing, but instead about equipping and protecting the ones listening.

It’s about being known as a blessing in people’s lives, not a burden.

As always, I love you
Martin

The Old West wasn’t tamed by farmers who quit work at lunchtime.

Instead, there was feeding animals at sunrise, planting seed in the morning, plowing and mending fences in the early afternoon and repairing barns and checking on animals in the late afternoon until it was dark.

Though the order might have varied from farmer to farmer, the basic framework of responsibility was the same.

Keep busy. Keep progressing.

We’re a better nation now because of what those diligent folk did there and elsewhere around the country.

Of course, the principle of never slacking off applies in a spiritual sense as well.

Solomon — a lover of the soil — knew about keeping busy and productive.

Here’s what he had to say about the diligent lifestyle:

“Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.” (Ecclesiastes 11:6)

If you’re in sales, you know that your livelihood depends on heeding this principle.

If you’re a fisherman, you know it applies on the water as well.

Virtually every endeavor we can imagine reveals the same truth — those who stay focused on their mission all day are the ones who succeed most frequently.

Please apply Solomon’s principle at your job. You’ll be a better employee. Your supervisor and co-workers will appreciate how you’re helping the company to succeed and have more revenue to share with workers.

Apply the principle if you’re in school. You never know if the additional review of book chapters you do in the afternoon before a test will help you score the A rather than a B or C.

And keep looking for opportunities to share news of God’s blessings in your life. Or keep looking for opportunities to pray with somebody about a pressing need in his or her life. We never know when a door is going to open for such opportunities.

What IS certain is that if we never look for them and if we never prepare for them, then we won’t go through them.

And what profit is that to us? Or to the Kingdom?

Let’s keep busy for Jesus. It’s how the Kingdom progresses in its mission to lead people to Christ.

As always, I love you
Martin

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