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Archive for April, 2010

Checklist for faithful living

It’s clear to putting God first is job #1 if we want to be in a right relationship with Him.

As I read today in the One-Year Bible, I saw an ultra-clear checklist for how to do just that. It is found in Psalm 101:1-8. Please print out this list on the computer or in handwritten form so that you can frequently assess if you are seeking God’s Kingdom first.

And please add to the tangible indicators that I’ve included for each. None of these are complicated. They do, however, require genuine commitment to doing the right thing.

 

__ I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will sing praise.

Sing along with Christian radio songs. It’s good for the soul and God smiles.

__ I will be careful to lead a blameless life.

Protecting a Christian testimony is no accident, but the fruit of good decisions.

__ I will walk in my house with blameless heart.

Your family needs a good role model. And an empowered intercessor.

__ I will set before my eyes no vile thing.

Keep your TV and computer monitors free of images that soil your faith.

__ The deeds of faithless men I hate; they (such people) will not cling to me.

Reject the requests of God-mockers to hang out with them on their turf/terms.

__ Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil.

When you’re invited to join a hurtful scheme, reject the offer and explain why.

__ Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence;

When another gossips to you, tell them you don’t want to hear it.

__ Whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure.

Don’t enter into close fellowship with people gripped by pride.

__ My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me;

Look for good role models and seek to spend time with them.

__ He whose walk is blameless will minister to me.

Make sure that those influencing your faith are growing in faith themselves.

__ No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house;

Habitual liars or schemers should not find welcome in our homes.

__ No one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.

Don’t condone lying by remaining in fellowship with those in rebellion toward truth.

__ Every morning I will put to silence all the wicked in the land;

Don’t listen to sin-saturated TV or radio shows.

__ I will cut off every evildoer from the city of the LORD.

Make sure to confront someone spreading divisive poison or false teaching in your church.

 

The more that you and I live according to the list above, the more obvious and fruitful will be our faith.

And the broader the smile that we’ll put on God’s face.

That is a very good thing.

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click here

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After reading today’s section in the One-Year Bible, I had initially decided to write about the glaring lack of repentance teaching today in many “feel good” churches perhaps driven too much by consumerism.

After all, the word “repent” in one form or another appears 53 times in the NIV New Testament, but rarely in many worship services.

What about in your pastor’s sermons?

And we wonder why the Church is slowly growing weaker in its influence upon the world.

In Luke 24:47, Jesus clearly indicates that He was raised from the dead so that repentance and forgiveness would be preached in His name.

I pray that your preacher/pastor/minister and those teaching classes in your congregation are each faithful to this mission in obvious and frequent ways.

Remember that without repentance, the bad new of our sinfulness can never be replaced with the Good News of our salvation.

Without repentance, there is no forgiveness.

And without forgiveness, there is no salvation.

Acts 2:38 and 3:19 are poster child verses for this truth.

As I read before and after Luke 24:47, though, I saw something else that God’s Spirit knitted tightly into my heart and mind in a very vivid manner.

That’s why the balance of this Morning Devotion will consider verse 51.

While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven.”

This, of course, involves Jesus Christ as He was preaching to His followers after the resurrection.

It was an amazing time for them all, these weeks between the resurrection and the ascension.

It was a time filled with the blessings of transformed understanding and reformed views of self.

There were miracles. There was a flood of spiritual affection and counsel for ministry direction.

It was an amazingly dramatic time for all involved, particularly the apostles.

But it could not continue or the whole purpose for the Church could never be fulfilled.

That’s why Jesus had to go home.

Before doing so, though, He made sure to pour blessings into their lives.

There is no specific list of blessings mentioned in Luke 24, yet I believe that these were present:

  • love
  • godly teaching
  • nurturing fellowship
  • anointed prayers
  • evidence of God’s power flowing through Him

We know that these blessings provided the powerful impetus for the believers to remain faithful in the days that followed.

This is to be our pattern as well when the Lord takes us home.

We won’t leave the way that Jesus did, of course. But we WILL leave.

Whenever the Lord takes us, we should be in a season of blessing others.

Blessing them with love and godly teaching and nurturing fellowship and anointed prayers and evidence of God’s power flowing through our lives.

Whether our graduation to glory occurs when we’re vibrantly healthy or when we’re barely hanging on physically, we can still be busy with offering these blessings to others whenever our clock stops.

That’s my goal — to leave a legacy of blessing when I fly away to the land of eternal blessing.

I pray that goal becomes yours, too.

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click here — History’s greatest ‘No’

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It screamed off the page to me this morning.

Thank you, God, for the inspiring insight.

Confirming again why reading the Bible repeatedly is so very important, I saw an inferred contrast in Luke 23:35-39 that poignantly yet powerfully affirmed my faith in Jesus Christ.

“They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One”

“If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself”

Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us”

Three times, Jesus was told to save Himself.

Three times, instead, Jesus gave Himself.

Three times Jesus was tempted to think His #1 lived inside His own skin.

Yet, three times Jesus showed that His #1 lived — and lives — inside the skin of all mankind BUT Him.

It’s important to remember that Jesus didn’t allow Himself to be nailed to the cross just to show mankind how strong His pain threshold was.

Instead, Jesus surrendered to the nails in order to show mankind how strong His love was for every soul ever created.

I’m eternally grateful that Jesus didn’t save Himself from the suffering of Calvary.

For in rejecting that trap of Satan, He gave me the hope of eternal joy in heaven.

Wow.

He gave to save.

We, of course, should be deeply stirred toward the same desire.

We aren’t being asked to surrender our hands and feet to the nails. At least, not yet.

Yet we are tempted in multiple ways at multiple times to follow the advice of the crowd and act as if #1 lives in our skin.

“Save your pride!” the Enemy pleads when you’re struggling with forgiving another.

“Save your financial status among peers!” when you’re under conviction about the command of tithing. he cries.

“Save your social/recreational schedule!” his voice whispers when your congregation issues a call for volunteers.

Hmmmm…….

You know how the list can go on and on. Why? Because, like me, you’ve too often accepted the “I’m #1” to-do list handed you by Satan.

We know better.

And as we follow Christ’s example in Luke 23:35-39, we’ll show better.

Dear friend, strengthen your desire to live for God and others in this life and you’ll strengthen your hope to live with God and His saints forever in the next life.

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click — The moment we hate

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The most painful moment in the Apostle Peter’s life was not when he was, according to some historians, crucified upside down.

Yes, that was a horrible thing with intense suffering.

But I believe that something else caused him more pain in the core of his being, something that we’ve all shared with him to one extent or another.

I’m talking about that heart-piercing, spirit-crushing moment when we realized that our sinful betrayal of Christ has occurred right in front of His face.

To repeatedly sin in a way that we promised would never happen is bad enough.

But to be caught red-handed doing so and know that the Lord was watching us the whole time — that’s a crushing realization.

It makes you want to go away and cry.

Just like Peter did.

Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him. ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:50-52).

Peter never forgot that moment when the rooster crowed and then he saw Jesus looking straight at him.

Talk about drama.

The apostle wasn’t flawless for the rest of his life, but the powerful boldness that he later showed in the face of religious opposition was rooted, I believe, to the transforming lesson he learned from this experience.

What Satan intended as a backbreaker actually was turned into a vital building block for a stronger, more determined life of personal ministry.

Dear friend, whenever you fall into Satan’s trap of rejecting Christ’s authority over part of your life — and you choose to sin — God will make sure that, sooner or later, you hear the rooster crowing via the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit and feel the piercing sting of knowing Jesus saw the whole thing.

When that happens, please don’t run away from Jesus so that you can cry in isolation.

Instead, run to Jesus with your confession of sin and your cry for forgiveness.

His eyes will be looking straight at you, not in disgust for having created you but instead in the hope that you’ll repent and allow Him to restore you.

Never forget that He loves you.

Never forget that He desires a relationship with you and can transform your disappointing choices into appointments for mercy.

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click here

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Satan is quite ambitious, of course.

That’s why he is such a hard worker.

He never gives up luring people into giving up on patience and godliness.

If he can manipulate them into exchanging the truth of God for a lie, then that is less praise that will flow to God in this life and the next.

In Satan’s poisoned, evil mind, that is a good thing.

As rotten and powerful as he is, however, remember that even he knows that he isn’t supreme.

He knows that God is greater and is reminded of that fact whenever the Father lifts His hand to restrain how far Satan can torment or tempt believers (I Cor. 10:13).

Satan already knows that he is bound for eternal destruction so the idea of conquering God and taking heaven’s throne is not an option.

So then, what prompts fear in the soul of one already irreversibly condemned to hell?

Here’s my thought on that question.

Satan’s biggest fear is that every human will embrace the truth that God is eternally Sovereign, that He created the universe and that all mankind will stand before Him to give an accounting for their lives.

Whenever someone genuinely accepts these truths, his or her pattern of behavior nearly always transforms from self-glorification over to humble sanctification.

Satan has seen billions of times over what happens when a person accepts the fact that God is eternal, heaven and hell are eternal, and that personal choices have eternal consequences.

Satan has seen such people turn from away from his lies and turn toward God’s Truth, God’s Son and God’s promise of salvation.

That’s why he hates it SO much when people understand and accept God’s eternality.

I was again reminded of this truth this morning while reading from Psalm 90.

“Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God” (verse 2).

Please notice the sequence here — “Before the mountains were…You are.”
God is the potter, not the clay.

And God is the Creator, not the created.

As such, He is the Ultimate Authority.

Satan’s lie today — that we’re the boss and only accountable to ourselves — is the same lie he used in the Garden of Eden.

Adam and Eve fell into believing that lie and look what happened.

Cain seemingly believed that God’s sovereignty and that his behavior’s consequences were not eternal and look what happened.

Please, my friend, ruin Satan’s day today.

Remind him of his greatest fear.

Live as if you believe that before the mountains were, God is.

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click here

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You’ve probably not thought a lot about the Old Testament journey of Joseph’s bones through the Wilderness and later the Promised Land.

I certainly had not — until this morning, that is.

But since reading Joshua 24:32-33 in the One-Year Bible, all I’ve been doing is thinking about those wandering bones.

It’s an intriguing micro-story placed at the end of Joshua’s life and at the end of the Bible book bearing his name.

The impression given is this: the burying of Joseph’s bones provides the ending punctuation for one of God’s promise to Abraham.

You’ll recall that God told Abraham centuries earlier that his descendants would go down to a land not their own and be held in slavery for 400 years before returning to the land of promise.

With Joseph’s burial in the plot bought more than 500 years earlier by his father Jacob, the son-turned-slave-turned-ruler had come home.

The promise to Abraham had been fulfilled.

The significance of this burial was not missed, I’m sure, by the Israelites.

That’s why Joseph’s bones were kept ready to go during all those years in Egyptian bondage.

That’s why his bones — most likely in a mummy coffin — were treated with great respect and physical care during those difficult years in the wilderness.

And that’s why his bones were carefully handled during the years of conquest.

It was all about keeping promises — God’s promise to Abraham and Joseph’s sons’ promise to their father.

No matter how long it took.

I’m very glad that the Israelites kept the promise to Joseph during the centuries of extra effort in hauling around his bones.

It was the right thing for them to do and I respect them for doing so.

You’ve made some promises that take extra effort to keep, I’m sure.

Sometimes a lot of extra effort.

And you’ve been tempted to look for a simple, quick escape from the promise.

After all, there were plenty of other places that Joseph’s bones could have been buried in a dignified manner.

But what was the promise to Joseph?

You get the point, I’m sure.

Some of you might be in marital relationships now that leave you feeling at times like you’re dragging around a bunch of lifeless bones. Please pray for a change of heart on your part so that you can add more vitality to the relationship with a discouraged mate.

Even if your relationship remains on what seems to be life-support, don’t forsake the promise to continue holding to your vows of “in good times and in bad.”

No matter how long it takes before God lays one of you to rest, please don’t lay aside your promise.

Because Joseph’s descendants kept the promise made centuries earlier, they received the inheritance that had been passed down to their father.

Dear friend, as you keep the promises made in faith made years ago to your spouse — or to any other close family relationship — God will see to it that you receive a heavenly inheritance handed down from Him, the heavenly Father.

Your descendants, if you have them, will have the priceless inheritance of parents who kept their marital vows despite the extra effort required.

And your Father in heaven will supply encouraging victories to you along the way of keeping those promises, just as He did to the children of Israel.

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click here Dangerous presumptions

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Satan loves it when people fall into the trap of presumptuousness, particularly when it involves believers who should know better.

My call to you today is to reject such invitations for rushing to sour conclusions about others.

I plead with you to do your homework before you believe any information that paints another in a bad light.

It just might be that your information is wrong or that you’re not seeing the whole picture regarding a certain situation.

Why this topic today?

Joshua 22 contains a story that is nearly 3,400 years old, yet the principle it contains is as contemporary as a story could be.

The Israelites who received their Promised Land inheritance on the east side of the Jordan River were about to return home after fighting alongside the rest of the Israelite men for several decades in order to help secure the safety of the Israelites in the Promised Land previously populated by bloodthirsty, pagan nations.

Those heading east decided to set up an altar at the Jordan River as a reminder of the altar associated with the Tabernacle. In obedience to God, the eastern tribal leaders had decided among themselves that the secondary altar would never be for sacrificial worship.

The eastern tribes thought that if there were ever a split among the eastern and western tribes, at least the western tribes possessing the tabernacle couldn’t block the non-sacrificing worship. You can read about all this by clicking here.

The western tribes presumed, however, that the eastern tribes were setting up a substitute religion and responded by preparing for war. In fact, thousands of Israelite men gathered to destroy the eastern tribe Israelites.

It was one of the most glaring cases of presumptuousness in all of scripture.

Fortunately, those of the eastern tribes didn’t fight first and ask questions later.

I greatly appreciate the mature response of the eastern tribes’ leaders when their motives were questioned.

The Mighty One, God, The Lord! He knows! And let Israel know! If this has been in rebellion or disobedience to the Lord, do not spare us this day” (22:22).

The eastern tribes’ leaders said the altar built on the Jordan’s west side was only to be a replica, not a replacement. All Tabernacle altar sacrifices required by the eastern tribes’ people would still be done wherever God ordained the Tabernacle to be placed.

Far be it from us to rebel against the Lord and turn away from Him by building an altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings and sacrifices,” the leaders said in verse 29.

The following verses show that the presumptuousness of the western tribal leaders was washed away by calm demeanor and pure motives of the eastern tribal leaders.

What Satan intended for harm turned out to be a victory for truth, self-control and unity.

At the core of this story with a happy ending are two words — “He knows!”

The eastern tribal leaders remained calm, I’m convinced, because they knew that God knew their hearts.

They had nothing to hide. Their consciences were clear.

No matter how the volatile situation turned out, they knew that they were cool with God and that’s what mattered more than anything else.

And so they could remain calm even in the face of angry threats.

Hmmmm….. you see the lesson for your life, of course.

Keep your motives pure and even the uninformed, mixed-agenda attacks of others won’t get you freaked out.

You’ll know that “He knows!” and you’ll be able to remain calm because you have nothing to hide, your conscience will be clear and you’ll know you’re cool with God.

Another might even have rounded up a bunch of misinformed co-workers or relatives or church members in the threats against you about this or that, yet your calmness and clear declarations of well-meaning actions can disarm the Enemy’s schemes.

Please do the right thing always in your home, at your job or at your church. That way, your “He knows!” Father in heaven will give you a peace that will surpass all understanding.

As always, I love you
Martin

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