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Archive for July, 2010

A needed break

July 29, 2010

I will be resuming the Morning Devotion on Monday since I am traveling to visit relatives in Indiana. Until then, blessings!

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click Apathy is not acceptable

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Her courage should be better known.

I hope that this Morning Devotion spreads the story to more people. I also hope that you’ll pass the story on to others, as well.

For we all need to display courage within our family as Jehosheba displayed courage within hers.

As told in 2 Chronicles 22:11, this woman was the daughter of Jehoram, a deceased king who had ruled for eight years over the Southern Kingdom of Old Testament Israel. After her father and stepbrother died, Jehosheba’s stepmother launched a bloodthirsty effort to take over the kingdom herself.

I won’t go into the details of the bloody sequence of events that occurred between Jehoram’s horrible death and Queen Athaliah’s power move to become the ruler of Judah. That sequence described in 2 Chronicles 21-22 shows how cold and ruthless people can become when God is not in control of their lives.

With her son killed during a trip to the Northern Kingdom, and his brothers already dead because of attacks on Jerusalem by marauding criminals, Athaliah saw her chance to be the boss.

So she arranged for the murder of all her grandsons and actually succeeded except for one who was rescued before the killing and hidden away for six years.

Who would risk her life by defying the queen’s wishes and rushing away the prince before Athaliah’s hit squad could reach him?

Jehosheba, that’s who.

The Bible makes a clear inference that Jehosheba was able to get away with her plan only because she was the daughter of a king and was the wife of the ruling priest in Jerusalem.

She had the family connections to gain entrance to the palace in order to grab the toddler named Joash. She had the insight to be spiritually tipped off that a threat to David’s kingly line was about to launch. And she had the faith that gave her strength to do what was right, regardless of the threat against her own survival.

As a wise woman of God, Jehosheba had to have perceived the evil within Athaliah. After all, Athaliah was the daughter of Queen Jezebel, the ultimate role model for evil women. Jehoram had married Jezebel’s daughter in a move aimed at political reconciliation with the arch rival Northern Kingdom.

Despite the evil she faced, Jehosheba acted boldly to save the child in order to save the Promise.

Where was Joash taken?

To the temple to live secretly with Jehosheba and Jehoiada the priest.

Jehosheba and Jehoida raised Joash as their own for six years before declaring him king at age 7. He received an incredible amount of teaching about faith during those years following his rescue. Joash would also receive a lot of governance help, of course, after his appointment and he would eventually reign for 40 years.

Without the help of a courageous Jehosheba when he was a year old, though, Joash would have met the end of a sword while still a baby. And God’s promise to David would have died out.

There are all sorts of life applications from this story. But I simply want to ask you one question: Who among your relatives is God stirring your heart to help because of an attack he or she is facing at home or at work or at school or with his or her health?

You have access into some aspect of that relative’s heart and mind that outsiders don’t have. If the attack is coming from within the family, you know the family dynamics of who is helpful and who is harmful.

You also have access to the wisdom and courage-prompting power of God.

Imitate Jehosheba. Courageously, wisely intercede to help the relative under attack. Pray for direction. God will show you and strengthen you. And He will help you to turn the crisis into a season of teaching about God.

As shown also in the life of Esther, it is for times such as these that God saves us and uses us.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Among the many visually rich stories in the Bible, the account recorded in 2 Chronicles 20 holds a special place in my mind.

Thousands of men, women and children gathered at the Jerusalem temple in fear because a massive horde of pagan warriors was marching to Jerusalem to conquer the city and surrounding lands.

King Jehoshaphat knew that his army was too weak to fight off the attackers and called for a national prayer service with as many people as possible joining him at the church building.

The king could have just had a prayer service with his spiritual advisors and then sent the soldiers against the hate-filled foes.

But he knew that this extraordinary threat required an extraordinary response from the people of the Southern Kingdom.

That’s why they needed to come to church to join him in fasting and prayers to the only One who could save them.

“…we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (v. 12).

What follows the king’s words is striking in its simplicity and vividness.

All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD” (v. 13).

The inference is very clear from the verses that follow. The people were overwhelmed with the enormity of the threat and the desire for guidance as to what they should do.

They didn’t shout at the king about the need to buy more weapons, or send out the special forces squads or send out a bunch of extortion money to appease the marching marauders.

They stood and listened. They ignored the grumbling of their fasting stomachs. And they almost certainly stood and prayed.

After a preacher reminded them of God’s authority and record of providing victory, they began to worship God

As in fall down and worship God.

They believed God’s promise to bring victory to them as long as they brought praise to Him.

That’s exactly what happened. The stood singing on the hills of Tekoa and had a praise service while God turned the enemies against one another.

Though they didn’t know how they were going to defeat the pagan army, they knew the One who could.

They gave God what He wanted.

God gave them what they needed.

Sometimes we face challenges that we don’t know how to conquer. Sometimes we know how to respond but we don’t have the resources on hand to succeed.

That’s when it is time to stand before the Lord at church or with a smaller group of believers. That’s when it’s time to tell God, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

That’s when it’s time to start singing praises to the Lord for the blessing of a victory He will provide in His timing for His glory.

Oh, by the way, because of the humble trust toward God, great blessings came to those who earlier thought they were “toast.”

Hmmmm….. God is SO good.

Let’s keep our eyes on His Word and our ears pointed toward His voice at all times. Though we might not know what to do, God does. And according to our faith and His plan, He will.

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist

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I am so glad that my status with God does not require a high IQ.

For there are times when I misplace things or forget how to do something or become stumped with a computer program and then I realize that I’m not as sharp as I’d like to be.

Such moments remind me that it’s good that there are people smarter than me who can do things that I can’t, or at least haven’t.

Despite my limitations in some respects, I know that God still uses me from time to time to help people.

He is gracious in that respect.

I don’t deserve the privilege of a place in His kitchen drawer, but I’m certainly glad to be one of His utensils.

Even if I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

I was prompted to appreciate God’s patient mercy toward my imperfect life after I read Psalm 19:14 in the yesterday’s reading from the One-Year Bible.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

Here’s my take on this verse: How we speak to others and how we speak to God during times of worship are crystal clear indicators to God as to how we view Him.

Whether it be during times of praise singing, Bible teaching, sermon listening or prayer lifting, it is very important that our words honor God rather than making Him roll His eyes.

And what we think about while in worship should involve His purposes rather than wondering why “that person over there” no longer talks with me or about why are my kids aren’t as well-behaved as Sister SoAndSo’s kids.

My challenge to you this coming Sunday is carry a note card to church with the above verse written on it. I hope that you’ll look at the card several times as a tool for keeping you focused on pleasing God.

It is a very good thing when you and I leave the worship service with all of our time there having been focused on praising God, praying to God, proclaiming God, providing financially for God’s ministry and on providing encouragement to God’s people.

For these things please God, our Rock and our Redeemer.

As I said earlier, these aren’t complicated choices that take a load of brains.

But they are committed choices that can lead to a load of blessings.

Including the greatest blessing of all, seeing God’s smiling face as He looks forever at the child who lived to please Him.

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click  Overwhelmed

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For the queen of Sheba to have been overwhelmed, Solomon’s wisdom and wealth must have been beyond comprehension.

In 2 Chronicles 9, the story is given of the queen’s visit to Solomon. She and a large entourage came to Jerusalem because she wanted to see if the fantastic reports about Israel’s ruler and the city’s opulence were true.

She saw that the reports paled in comparison to reality.

“When the queen of Sheba realized how wise Solomon was, and when she saw the palace he had built, she was overwhelmed. She was also amazed at the food on his tables, the organization of his officials and their splendid clothing, the cup-bearers and their robes, and the burnt offerings Solomon made at the Temple of the Lord… ‘I didn’t believe what was said until I arrived here and saw it with my own eyes.'” (Vv. 3-5).

The blessings pouring into her mind and soul didn’t stop with the visual and mental feasts. Though the queen had brought $144 million of gold and large numbers of precious jewels as gifts of admiration, she actually left with gifts of greater value than those she had given the king.

“King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba whatever she asked for—gifts of greater value than the gifts she had given him. Then she and all her attendants returned to their own land” (verse 12).

Now consider how amazing this account is. If the queen was in a position to give this kind of “Nice to meet you” gift to another nation’s leader, then she knew a lot about being rich.

And if she was willing to go through such an elaborate, extended journey just to learn and observe Solomon’s setting and thoughts, then she knew a lot about the place of wisdom.

For her to be overwhelmed greatly intrigues my mind.

And for her to leave with more than she brought greatly inspires my hopes.

This is such a cool story. I’ll build a sermon based on the above, you can be sure.

The testimony of Bible and other believers can describe the unfathomably marvelous Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And such testimonies should flow from your life and mine into the lives of those who need the Divine Trio.

Yet, until a person decides to sincerely go the Father, Son and Spirit himself or herself, there will be no sense of being overwhelmed.

For humans are not wired to be overwhelmed vicariously but instead personally.

Yes, she was informed by testimonies about the wisdom and wealth.

But she could only be transformed through a personal encounter and relationship with the king of Israel.

Please, my friend, learn from the queen of Sheba. Go to the King of the Universe with your heart full of expectation and appreciation.

Allow your time in the Word each day to be as the queen’s expectant trip to Solomon’s court.

Allow your gifts to the King — given as tithes to your congregation and as charity to others in need — to show the depth of your appreciation for what He does in your life.

Do these things and you’ll be overwhelmed with the wisdom of God and with the fact that He always gives more to you than you give to Him.

Even more overwhelmed you’ll be when you stand in God’s throneroom and you say, ‘I didn’t believe what was said until I arrived here and saw it with my own eyes.’

As always, I love you
Martin

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If you’ve ever been involved with a church building program, you know that the journey from concept to concrete to consecration service is not an overnight affair.

It often takes a couple of years and sometimes bucketfuls of blood, sweat and tears.

Oh yeah, and a bunch of money.

It’s hard to imagine a church construction project lasting 20 years, involving many thousands of men and costing more money than the annual gross national product of many nations. I guess that’s why God took the imagining part away and simply showed us in Scripture the fact that it happened.

Today’s reading in the One-Year Bible from 2 Chronicles 6-8 describe the dedication services for the Jerusalem temple after it was completed by King Solomon’s construction crew. I can’t comprehend actually just how magnificent the temple was, even though the Bible tells me — in effect — that $180 billion was spent on its construction during the 20-year project.

The temple itself was no larger than a very small, six-story apartment building. Yet it took that long and that much money to build, along with the temple grounds, walls, etc.

More than 150,000 men were involved in various phases of its construction.

Over 23 tons of pure gold were hammered into sheets and used to overlay the interior of the small building. We’re talking $736 million just for what was essentially gold paneling on the inside of the building.

Amazing.

It’s a good thing that the construction money was already in the bank before the project began, I’ll tell you that.

So how does the temple-construction cost and timeline relate to your life and mine?

Simply this — your soul and mine are worth more to God than any earthly building, whether it be the Jerusalem temple or the church building you sit in each Sunday.

How can I say that? Because Jesus didn’t hang on the cross so that any building can have eternal life, that’s how.

He did hang on the cross for your soul and mine, however.

It’s hard to fathom the idea that my soul is worth more to God than a $180 billion church building that took 150,000 men and 20 years to complete.

But it is.

That’s why Jesus endured all sorts of hardships without sinning, even on the cross — to provide the opportunity for my salvation through trust in His atoning blood.

That blood is worth a whole lot more than the $180 billion spent on the Jerusalem temple. For you can’t put a monetary price on the only thing that can take away the sins of the world.

It’s good that we understand how incredible Solomon’s temple really was. For this helps us to appreciate even more the unfathomable value of the human soul belonging to our unsaved family member or neighbor or co-worker or person visiting our congregation.

If building another, $180 billion temple would have provided the ultimate remedy for man’s sin, then God would have done that in the 1st Century rather than sending Jesus.

It wouldn’t then. And it doesn’t now.

There’s only one way for your sin problem to be solved.

A way that cost the Father a whole lot more than $180 billion.

It cost Him His only Son.

And He willingly paid it for the rescue of my sinful, sometimes rebellious soul and for yours.

Let’s panel our lives with Golden Rule living so that God sees a good return on His priceless investment into our salvation.

For the more people who see our gleaming lives sanctified and dedicated for His sake, the more people will realize how much God gave for their souls and that they, too, can have a remade life headed for glory.

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click Satan’s miscalculation
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Talk about a contrast.

So many times, God has sent blessings into our lives to influence us toward a more faithful life.

Yet, we’ve misread those blessings and misused them for purposes contrary to the purposes of God.

And so many times, Satan has tossed wrenches of affliction or attack into our lives to influence us toward a less faithful life.

Yet, we’ve seen clearly his schemes and we’ve used them against him as we held tightly to the purposes of God.

It really is amazing when you think of the measure of authority that God has given us for determining the direction of our faith.

It’s all about our choices.

As powerful as Satan is, he cannot force you or me to choose his scheme. Instead, the choice rests with us.

This must be terribly frustrating to Satan, this fact that humble, little humans with faith can resist his temptations and torments.

On the flip side, God is even more powerful than Satan and yet He created you and me with the ability to tell Him “No.”

Sadly, we do just that on too many occasions.

This is terribly disappointing to Him, this fact that humble, little humans lacking faith can quite readily resist His Truth, His Spirit and His grace.

And sadly, as demonstrated by countless millions in scripture, we also do that on too many occasions.

Life is so much better all around when we say “No” to Satan and “Yes” to God.

Our life as a Christian is to be a journey of learning how to more regularly do both of the above.

That’s why the Apostle Paul wrote what he did in Romans 7, today’s reading in the One-Year Bible. Here is an excerpt that captures the essence of what stirred my heart, soul and mind today to write about the idea of choice.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God” (v. 4).

Paul wrote the above with the knowledge that a change of the soul’s address does not change Satan’s objective of taking person’s soul with him to hell.

In fact, choosing Jesus puts that person square in the sights of Satan’s attacks.

Many of us know this from personal experience.

What Paul seemed to be saying was that our choice to say “No” to Satan should be easier than ever for every inch we move closer to Jesus.

For that “old person” in our lives who used to sometimes crave and swallow Satan’s poison pills was buried with Christ in the watery grave of baptism.

This great promise woven throughout the New Testament has brought great comfort to me and to millions of Christians.

Listen, Satan makes us do nothing.

We CAN make him do something, however, whenever we demonstrate that Jesus is the Lord of our lives.

We can make him remember that God is more powerful than he will ever be.

And in doing so, we show God that we’ve correctly understood His blessings and are choosing to serve Him.

After all, that’s what chosen people do, right?

He chose us.

We choose Him.

It’s a beautiful thing.

As always, I love you
Martin

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