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Sometimes we struggle to see how our situation can improve.

Troubles of one sort or another are threatening us or perhaps even attacking us.

We’ve seen other people suffer or perhaps give up on a marriage or on a career or a church life or avoiding bankruptcy when faced with these troubles.

Will we do the same?

Have we done the same?

The Bible is filled with stories of people who faced difficult times and yet they did not cower or compromise.

Instead, they followed their convictions and remained committed to Almighty God as their Deliverer, their rescuer from on high.

We can experience the same if we’ll just have 20-20 vision.

I’m talking about II Chronicles 20:20.

This is a passage within a larger story about a massive pagan army coming against the children of God who were being led at the time by King Jehoshaphat. The king had done the math and knew that his volunteer army of laymen was no match for the bloodthirsty masses of soldiers marching toward the Hebrews.

The Israelites’ only hope was the intercession of God and the king knew that.

I encourage you to read the chapter by clicking this link so you can see how wonderful our God is to those who love and trust Him.

A key verse in the chapter is the verse mentioned above:

“Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.

The rest of the chapter shows that is just what happened. The Hebrews poured out that belief by having an awesome worship service once they had marched out to confront the enemies. Even though the Hebrews knew they couldn’t defeat the enemy militarily, they positioned themselves in the face of the enemy in order to watch the work of the God who is sovereign over the universe.

Please read the chapter in order to gain a new appreciation for how awesome our God really is.

And try to remember Jehoshaphat’s counsel the next time you face a serious challenge.

God is our fortress and we need not fear.

The Bible given us by inspired writers is our manual for life that always produces success when followed.

Never shaken. Always succeeding.

That sure sounds good to me.

Let’s live with 20-20 vision.

Others just might see this as the best way for them, too.

As always, I love you
Martin

Many years ago, a comedian named Flip Wilson hosted wildly popular TV variety show that featured a character he played named Geraldine Jones.

Geraldine was a churchgoing lady who lived in the fast lane of worldliness.

Her signature wardrobe in the church service was a miniskirt which in the early 1970s was unheard of in a church service.

Geraldine didn’t want to hear about spiritual accountability for her choices, though, and whenever confronted about a choice, she’d use the line Flip Wilson made famous — “The devil made me do it.”

The Geraldine character always got lots of laughs when she’d throw out that line.

But making a joke of sin is never a laughing matter.

The fact is that the devil doesn’t make us sin.

We choose to do it.

If he could make us sin, then every Christian would never worship God, never give to God, never pray to God, never give money to those in need, never forgive those who need mercy and perpetually choose flesh over faith.

Sin is a choice. Always has been and — until Jesus returns — always will be.

Our choice.

Adam tried to shift blame for his sin in the Garden of Eden over to his wife, but that was a stupid choice.

Eve didn’t hold Adam down and force the fruit into his mouth.

Why was the tree holding forbidden fruit put in the middle of the perfect garden? Have you ever thought about that?

It was there for one reason — to test Adam’s and Eve’s loyalty and trust toward God.

It was a measuring tool that would explicitly reveal their need for God’s grace if they disobeyed.

They were clearly warned in advance of what the consequences would be if they didn’t remain loyal to God.

You know what happened.

And, no, the devil didn’t make them do it.

It was their choice.

They had no excuse.

Neither did the Old Testament Israelites wandering in the wilderness whenever they ignored the commandments given them through Moses.

Satan couldn’t make them do anything. But he sure could lure them into believing lies and choosing to embrace sin.

Millions didn’t enter the Promised Land as a result.

Listen, sin is always a choice.

We opt into that which dishonors and disobeys God and devalues our spiritual testimony.

There is no excuse for our sin.

No matter what culture and social media sources and Hollywood megastars say.

God gave us the Old Testament Law and the teachings of New Testament scriptures so that we would know and follow the right path.

We have to know that there are no excuses for sin as Romans 3:19 tells us.

In fact, the Apostle Paul said the Law was given to us so that we wouldn’t rely on excuses for sin.

Throwing out excuses might impress other people and even prevent us from consequences with family or friends or employers.

But they also block us from the one remedy that can solve our sin problem with God.

That remedy is repentance.

When sin occurs in your life and mine, it’s vital that we avoid excuses and confess our failure to God.

It’s vital that we repent and pledge to avoid repeating the sin.

Geraldine might think sin is a laughing matter.

But God and His Son who died on the cross to pay the price of atonement sure don’t.

As always, I love you
Martin

We all need more real friends.

And more people need us to act as real friends.

We can have plenty of acquaintances we label as friends.

But unless those people are actually willing to intercede to help us when needed, are they really friends?

If we’re not willing to help somebody that we’ve described as our friend, are we really their friend?

God knows that we want and need real friends, loyal friends, interceding friends.

People we can trust to help us, not harm us.

If someone gossips about us, are they our friend?

If someone insults us, are they our friend?

If someone sees us in need and chooses not to help in any way, are they our friend?

Friends love. And that means, according to I Cor. 13:4, they always protect.

I want to be a real friend to more people.

And that means I need to be more diligent in seeking ways to help others, encourage others, defend others, pray for/with others.

Solomon described our vision for friendship in Proverbs 18:24 —

“There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”

Let’s strive to build friendships that are not contingent upon circumstances but instead upon the leading of God to love in an enduring, interceding, encouraging, sacrificing way.

After all, there’s nothing better than experiencing a loyal love.

As always, I love you
Martin

I need to become more like King Josiah of the Old Testament.

You see, I have occasionally made wrong turns in life that weren’t clearly Kingdom-focused.

I can’t recall any defiant rejections of God’s path in my life. But I can’t say the same about random mixed-motive decisions.

You know what I’m talking about because you’ve likewise made mixed-motive decisions that were intended to benefit yourself and coincidentally benefit the Church.

Here are a few examples of how Christians have fallen short:

  • Single Christians sometimes invite opposite sex single Christians to church not just for Kingdom purposes but also in a desire to hook up in a relationship. If the dating possibility evaporates, so do the invitations to church.
  • Business owner Christians sometimes talk about faith and promote church attendance in order to build a business relationship, not just a Kingdom relationship.
  • Pastors sometimes fall into the trap of stretching out a counseling relationship with an emotionally fragile woman because of a desire to spend time with her when he should be referring her to a professional Christian counselor where she’ll get better help and he’ll avoid a trap that has claimed thousands of church leaders.
  • Husbands expect their wives to submit because it’s biblical but really he’s wanting the biblical principle to “bring her into line” instead of his being such a responsible, supportive, cherishing husband that the wife naturally wants to follow his leadership.

Josiah was a man who singly focused on the path of faith.

“He did not turn away from doing what was right.” (2 Kings 22:2)

Satan is constantly inviting us to step off the path of pure-hearted faith.

He dwells on what we’re missing by walking the straight and narrow.

Let’s make sure to focus on not missing out on the unfathomable riches and joy of heaven.

Let’s not try to walk two roads at once.

Let’s never turn away from doing what is right.

As always, I love you
Martin

God empowers the humble.

“For the Lord delights in his people; He crowns the humble with victory.” (Psalm 149:4)

Let’s each put God first and others second.

The blessing of victorious living will be ours in God’s perfect timing.

As we patiently await the movement of His hand, we’ll grow deeper in faith and richer in eternal blessing.

As always, I love you
Martin

There’s something different — something richer — about a relationship where the only reason somebody spends time with you is because they want to, not because they’re required to.

That’s why aging parents love it when their adult children break away from their busy lives to spend a few days with Mom and Dad.

Not in order to pick up a check but in order to make cherished memories.

We love such times.

God is a Daddy and He loves such times, too.

It’s very meaningful to Him when we break away from our busy lives and — by our own desire to show Him our love — we set aside time to fellowship with Him, to pray to Him, to worship Him and to be guided or even transformed by Him.

We aren’t to attend worship or place our tithes and other offerings in the plate because we think God needs it to survive.

He doesn’t. He already has countless angels and souls loving and exalting Him in heaven.

Instead, we worship and serve and give in order that WE might survive spiritually and thrive emotionally.

Here’s a verse from today’s reading in the One-Year Bible that reminded me of how God is SO much greater than we and how blessed we are to have a God that cares BY CHOICE.

“… human hands can’t serve His needs — for He has no needs.” (Acts 17:25)

Wow.

No needs.

Only wants.

And one of those “wants” is the love and loyalty of your heart.

This being the case, please link your need for salvation and fellowship with God and His want for fellowship with you.

It’s the desire of His heart.

As always, I love you
Martin

Stick with me on this.

I read a verse this morning from Proverbs that sounds discouraging, yet it actually — indirectly — affirms the importance of investing time and effort and perhaps money into learning efforts.

If you find a person who really wants to learn at the job or in college or, better yet, at church, then you’ve found a good thing.

You’ve found a good investment.

People who want to learn are our greatest resource for our families, for our congregations, for our workplaces, for our communities.

People who don’t want to learn are foolish and are choosing to remain as such.

I want to be the person who is always learning, even though it takes commitment to vigilantly gain new knowledge and wisdom.

I never want to become the type of person mentioned in Proverbs 17:16 —

“It is senseless to pay to educate a fool, since he has no heart for learning.”

When my daughters were in private school and later in private colleges, a lot of money flowed from my bank account into the schools’ bank accounts.

I was glad, however, for being able to invest in the girls’ education since they both had hearts for learning.

Both have become very successful in their careers and I give all the glory to God for providing the resources needed for providing the education they needed.

If the girls had been slothful in their studies and disinterested in learning, though, I would have been a poor steward to keep spending fistfuls of money on their college bills.

Listen, if we display a heart for learning regarding the scriptures and the work of the Church and the ways of humbly encouraging/equipping others, God will continue investing heavily in blessing us.

Let’s be very careful to avoid becoming fools in God’s sight who aren’t striving to learn more about serving Him.

Please make it a habit to learn DAILY something significant about the Bible or about helping a church member. God always blesses those who invest in knowing Him — and serving Him — in a better way.

As always, I love you
Martin

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