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“Thank you, Lord, for a potent reminder of all the reason we need to continually strive to please You.”

This thought resonated in my mind this morning after my devotional time in the Bible. More specifically, the words of Psalm 49:15 jumped off the screen and into my soul.

“But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave.”

I thought of that horrible scene in the movie Ghost when the director’s vision of death angels came to take the soul of the bad guy with them to hell. I am so glad that I don’t have to worry about a kicking and screaming trip to hell.

You see, Christ’s death on the cross has given me the gift of a choice between heaven and hell.

Because Jehovah is my God and Jesus is my Savior, I have chosen heaven.

I have chosen life.

I have not earned it, of course.

But I have received it.

Earlier in Psalm 49 were these frightening words:

“Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave.” (vv. 8-9)

Believers are blessed people, that’s for sure.

We’re bought and paid for from a divine pocket infinitely deeper than ours.

This provides all the hope and peace we need to keep sharing with others about the hope and peace they need.

Start speaking words of hope and peace into others’ lives today, my friend.

One kind word and one kind action at a time.

We are saved by a higher power. Let’s show others how that higher power can help them.

As always, I love you
Martin

Had a birthday yesterday.

I’m growing closer to my white robe birthday in heaven.

Until that graduation day comes, I need to embrace the words of Psalm 48:14.

“He is our God forever and ever, and He will guide us until we die.”

On my own, I’ll never be smart enough or wise enough to do life faithfully.

I’m a sinner and I mess up.

I’m a human and don’t remain laser-focused on Kingdom purposes 100 percent of the time.

As a pastor, I encounter shepherding and strategic decisions that need God’s wisdom that is so much greater than mine.

I need God to guide me until I am in His presence in glory.

I pray the same for you.

As always, I love you
Martin

Start with the Rock.

I’m talking about the foundation for our spiritual house.

The kids’ Bible song says the wise man built his house upon the Rock.

Rains coming down aren’t a problem.

Floods coming up aren’t a problem.

Winds pounding the walls aren’t a problem.

Because nothing earthly can wash away the foundation.

Make sure your Rock is Jesus Christ.

Don’t build on the sand of human sufficiency.

We want to stand in God’s presence forever and that requires standing on the forever Rock.

Here’s a passage from my devotional reading today:

When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.”

Proverbs 10:25 is an affirming message that we should share with others today.

All face storms. Let’s do all we can to help them face the storms with brighter days on the other side.

As always, I love you
Martin

The father’s efforts hadn’t solved the problem.

The local physician’s efforts failed.

The town rabbi’s efforts didn’t succeed.

Perhaps even a temple priest living in the area had tried but his efforts produced no result.

And then these apostles of Jesus Christ stepped to the plate and took a swing at it.

Nothing.

What a string of failures.

Then Jesus showed up.

The boy possessed by a demon was soon set free from that terrible tormenter by the divine Deliverer.

“Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.” (Mark 9:27)

Frustrated by their inability to heal the boy, the apostles asked why couldn’t they do the miracle. Here’s what Jesus told them:

This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”

We all face obstacles for which our efforts and others’ efforts to help have not succeeded.

Some of you are greatly struggling financially. Others of you are hurting much in your relationship lives. Perhaps you’re among those whose bodies are not responding to medical treatment in the desired way and you’re discouraged.

I am facing some tough challenges in ministry and some personal business matters. And I would be foolish to rely only on myself in dealing with these.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not smart enough or strong enough or wealthy enough or tough enough or spiritual enough to slay these foes on my own.

I need to pray.

More.

For apart from prayer, apart from God, I can do nothing.

The father in Mark 9 was 0 for 5 in getting help, that is until he pleaded for Jesus’ help.

Let’s let His experience give us the needed reminder that prayer is the key to unlocking the intercessory power of God.

Whatever your tough challenge is, PRAY.

And please share this advice with others.

It’s the only path to resolution.

As always, I love you
Martin

I rarely do this, but today it seems the right thing to do.

I am including a longer-than-normal passage within the text of the Morning Devotion.

You see, we too often say we believe in Jesus but fall short of truly trusting Jesus.

Oh yeah, we sing the words of Matthew 6:33 regarding seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness but then we slip up sometimes and act as if we don’t really believe that all the things we need for living will be added unto us.

We say that we support the work of ministry but is our tithing (10 percent of gross income) contingent upon when our finances are flowing smoothly? Is our volunteering time contingent upon if we have no disruptions in the other areas of our lives?

Is our treating people with kindness, dignity and generosity based on our being treated the same?

We all know that life has problems. Sometimes our problems are the result of other people’s failures.

We don’t best face life with faith if we’re pointing fingers.

It’s much better to point our hearts and hopes toward Jesus.

Believers arguing over who failed doesn’t please Christ, doesn’t encourage the flock and doesn’t build consensus on the best strategy for addressing the need.

He really will work things out for us in the best way if we just keep focusing on imitating His life and doing His will.

Here’s the passage from Mark 8 that stirred and steered my heart this morning. I pray that it does the same for you.

14 But the disciples had forgotten to bring any food. They had only one loaf of bread with them in the boat. 15 As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.”

16 At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread.

17 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? 18 ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear? Don’t you remember anything at all? 19 When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?”

“Twelve,” they said.

20 “And when I fed the 4,000 with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”

“Seven,” they said.

21 “Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them.

Jesus really is our answer when problems come. He has helped us countless times when nobody else could. We just need to trust Him to care for us as we commit to doing His will.

As always, I love you
Martin

Here are five reasons to be kind.

And they’re certain in yielding benefits to both beneficiary and benefactor.

You see, God promised.

“Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor!

The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.

The Lord protects them and keeps them alive.

He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies.

The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.”

These words from Psalm 41:1-3 are wonderfully encouraging.

Five blessings for those who give blessings to those who struggle financially.

Let’s be kind to the poor.

It pleases our Abba Father who will be more inclined to help us during our times of need.

If you’re not sure how to begin showing this sort of kindness, ask your pastor for ideas or at least keep a bag of easily-eaten, preserved food in your car to give to a homeless person if you see one.

As always, I love you
Martin

My computer just ate my original Morning Devotion effort for the day and I don’t have another 45 minutes to spend trying to re-create it just now. That’s why I want to share a Morning Devotion that I wrote nearly 10 years ago, one that appropriately describes the important of persistence when things aren’t going the way we’d like.


We all need the reminder from time to time of the truths contained in 2 Peter 1:5-8.

God is the One who provides the increase.

When the time is right, if we are patient, He will.

I heard of a missionary and his family who served in a place for nine years and saw one baptism. They didn’t give up, though, and more than 100 people were baptized the next year.

I’m reminded of the orange tree.

An orange tree really doesn’t start bearing productively for at least seven to eight years.

What if the tree were cut down at year 5 because it had just a few fruit in season?

All that might have been borne was instead burned because of impatience.

This is what missionaries must remember.

This is what missionary-supporting churches and individuals must remember.

Never forget that God uses changed lives as His tools for changing people.

He never relies on changed methodologies.

Change can be good, yes, but only as it allows changed lives to become more evident.

Want your church to grow? Let the characteristics of 2 Peter 1:5-8 grow within you.

Then people will be drawn to the power of God shining from your life rather than the power of well-intentioned, though imperfect human effort.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget the perseverance part.

As always, I love you
Martin

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