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Archive for December, 2010

Zechariah 3 describes the account of the high priest Joshua who had sinned in some way and, in an ethereal sense, was standing before The Angel of the Lord, who was the pre-incarnate Christ.

The fascinating story depicts Satan standing next Joshua as the ultimate tattle-tale. The scriptures don’t detail what Joshua did that was wrong, but it clearly was a big-time offense if Satan thought it worthwhile to ridicule the priest in front of the Ultimate Angel.

How did the second Person of the Trinity respond?

Did He bash the priest for messing up so terribly?

No, He chose to overlook the accusations against the silent, humble priest and then He rebuked Satan.

“This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire,” the Angel of the Lord said in verse 2.

Satan was not bringing any news flash to Christ. For the future Messiah knew the priest had messed up.

Unlike Satan, though, Christ saw into the future regarding what a forgiven high priest could mean to the ministry of God’s Kingdom in that day.

Satan could only see failure and rejoiced at the idea of others falling terribly just as he had.

And unlike Satan, though, Joshua was humble and didn’t rationalize or cop an attitude toward Christ.

So as Joshua stood there with “filthy clothes” of sin, Christ told other angels to give the priest a different set of spiritual clothes. And these were not just any clothes. They were new clothes. And then he was given a new priestly turban, too.

Complete and new garments. That’s what Joshua received because of grace shown him by Christ.

Hmmm….. Instead of burning in fire, Joshua was given new garments of service.

Like I said….Hmmm…..

And then Joshua was given instructions on the care and use of those new clothes.

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: If you follow my ways and carefully serve me, then you will be given authority over my Temple and its courtyards. I will let you walk among these others standing here.” (verse 7).

Wow. In return for forgiveness and a restored commission to serve, Joshua simply had to do what he was supposed to be doing all along — obey and serve Christ.

If the high priest did that, he’d eventually stand eternally among the angels of glory.

I love the encouraging nature of this story.

Why? Because I fail from time to time and I need to know that humble acknowledgement of that fact to my Lord will not only lead to Christ rebuking Satan’s taunts but will also lead to my restoration of proper standing with the Lord and with serving the Church.

Please go to Christ when you’ve sinned. You can be sure that Satan is already there tattling.

If you’ll go with a humble heart, you’ll find a loving attitude wanting to pour grace and restoring power into your life.

That’s SO much better than thinking God didn’t see your sin and acting like you did nothing wrong.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I admire people who successfully resist the efforts of others to destroy their character or testimony.

I’ve seen this occur at jobs I’ve held over the years.

I’ve seen this occur in a few church settings.

I’ve even seen this occur in extended family settings among people that I knew.

It’s very sad when jealousy rages and goodness is sacrificed in a thirst for personal dominance.

Yet, it’s even more significant when one’s depth of godliness and desire for serving others is greater than the decay of values displayed by an accuser or attacker.

What’s behind this obvious strength of character?

Many times, it is infusion of strength from on high.

It is the recognition that the same strength that sustained Christ in the face of attacks against Him is still available to Christians who will turn to the promises of scripture and the examples of biblical characters in order to keep putting one foot in front of the other in godly ways.

Here is the passage that prompted these words this morning:

They triumphed over him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11)

Though the verse specifically addresses the eternal reward that is promised to those who do not forfeit faith in the face of martyrdom, the principle of how believers overcome any attack is clear to every Christian.

We can triumph over attacks upon us by recalling the fact that we’ve been covered by the blood of the Lamb (via verbal and baptismal confession) and by proclaiming our trust in the Word of God’s testimony (the Bible).

These two facts are essential for every person who desires to not love his or her life so much as to shrink from faith.

I am certain that you want to be strong enough emotionally and spiritually so that you don’t cave into attacks from others that are designed to tear you down.

Please be certain, my friend, that you have made the same decisions that strengthened believers in ages past when Satan was persecuting them.

Make sure that you are covered by the blood of the Lamb — (Acts 22:16; Galatians 3:27).

And make sure that you are guided/strengthened by the Word of God’s testimony.

Then your toolbox for triumph will be equipped.

And your hope forever will be secured.

As always, I love you
Martin

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The Christmas season is always a time for thinking about stuff.

We learn what things that others would like us to buy as gifts for them.

And others learn from us what we’d like to receive as gifts from them.

Christians know that “getting” should be less important than giving. Fortunately, many adult believers do understand this when it comes to gifts within the family.

The more our satisfaction comes from giving than from getting, the more we are like Christ.

But what if we received none of the gifts that we had desired?

And how would we respond to the complaints of loved ones and friends if they received no wish-list items from us?

Would our faith and theirs be shaken? Even just a bit? Would such times reveal the need for spiritual growth?

I’m not suggesting that you pull out the receipts, pull off the wrapping paper and head back to the store return lines.

There’s nothing unbiblical about giving Christmas gifts.

I’m simply suggesting that you recall the teachings of God that nothing material in this life — whether in your possession or in the “wanna have it” portion of your heart — should skew your thinking of how God provides for you.

Having your physical needs of food, water, clothing and shelter for life met, having the assurance of salvation through faith in Christ and having people to love in God’s name really is supposed to be enough to provide contentment.

Is this true for you? Are you thinking that you’ll be more content when you have the things or specific relationship that has consumed your mind and heart lately?

Here’s what God said in His Word as I read it this morning:

“…give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-8)

I’ve never heard a Christian pray for poverty. But I have heard Christians — particularly some televangelists — tell people that they should pray for riches.

I’m going to pass on the idea of bashing TV ministries because of the pervasive images of opulence. And I’m not going to criticize you for any prayers you’ve raised that asked for financial blessings that extend beyond needs into the realm of wants.

My task instead is to examine my own life. Am I content with having enough provision for this day so that I might provide love, encouragement, prayers and even some financial assistance to others?

Am I OK with the idea of never owning a new car? Or never living in a dream home? Or never having a three-week fantasy vacation? Or never owning the latest, greatest electronic whatever?

Am I OK with the idea of knowing that I’ll likely have to work until I die because of pension fund failures?

To all of the above and other similar questions, the answer is “Yes.”

I trust that God will provide my daily needs so that I might serve His eternal purposes.

It’s the promise of 2 Cor. 9:8. That’s a promise to me that keeps me going.

Let the promise keep you going, too.

After all, God IS able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Most Christians, including you and I, spend many hours thinking about who is to receive a Christmas gift and about how much those gifts will cost.

It’s just part of the season to which we’ve become accustomed over many years.

How many hours do we spend, though, thinking about a Christmas gift for God and about how much that gift will cost us?

The season of life that I’m experiencing now is different than in the past. Christmases past were characterized by plenty of gifts to open with kids and other relatives. And I loved it.

I realize now, however, that I should have been more diligent with including God as a gift recipient on Christmas mornining. Both tangibly and intangibly.

It’s very easy to become horizontally focused on Christmas morning, with all attention as to who is getting what.

The fact is that we wouldn’t have the occasion for gift-giving if it were not for God and His great gift — the birth of Jesus — that led to the eternal gift of salvation via the gift of His sacrifice on the cross.

I’m praying that you’ll seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in how you will tangibly — and intangibly — give very meaningful gifts to God on Dec. 25th. There are thousands of ways for you to do so and I pray that your gift will show true sacrifice.

I write this today because of how my heart was stirred this morning while reading from the One-Year Bible:

“Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins?

“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:7b-8)

People in Micah’s day were spiteful of Jehovah God yet still felt the oppressive guilt of their own sins, even to the point of sacrificing their children in pagan rituals in order to be relieved of that emotional baggage.

A firstborn child would die for their sins, all right. But it would be the holy Child of God named Jesus, not the children of sinners who murdered innocent children in order to appease their own consciences.

God sacrificed His firstborn and only Son to pay for my sins. The very least that I should do for Him this Christmas is to always do what is right, always to love mercy and always to walk humbly with my God.

I pray that you will do the same.

And let’s not forget to show mercy by putting a generous gift under the Christmas tree for somebody who needs a tangible sign of God’s mercy given into his or her life.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Hmmmm….. some things are worth hearing again from time to time.

Things like the idea of listening more and speaking less.

Two ears. One mouth.

There’s a message there, it seems.

Will we hear it?

Here’s what King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 29:20:

Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”

This is quite a humbling verse to those of us who have found it easy over the years to open our mouths with comments. Sometimes we opened them too often and too widely.

I’ve found that such an approach is sometimes not in my best interests or the best interests of another.

The older I become, the more careful I am to listen.

Hopefully, I’ll still be improving whenever God believes it’s time for me to start listening directly to Him in heaven.

At least now, my ratio of considerate listening vs. waiting-for-somebody-to-stop-talking is a good bit north of 50 percent.

Thank God for progress. I’m not perfect in this regard but I am slowly being perfected by the Word and Spirit of God.

Please listen closely to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit while others are speaking. It’s not to be a race as to who will share their ideas more quickly, but instead a sincere dialog with important ideas and passions understood more fully.

That’s how Jesus approached His conversations with people. Let’s do the same.

As always, I love you
Martin

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