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Archive for February, 2011

Moses’ brother Aaron wasn’t stupid, but he sure did a dumb thing.

And then he gave what ranks as one of the lamest excuses in history.

I’m talking about when he made a golden calf idol while Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving the 10 commandments and other Old Testament laws from God.

You recall that Aaron, when confronted about his sin, blamed the people whom he said made him throw their gold into a fire and out jumped the golden calf (Exodus 32).

The people wanted a masquerade of religion but their subsequent behavior shows that their real desire was for fleshly sin.

Incredible, huh?

It was only by the interceding grace of Moses and the patient grace of God that all the Hebrews except Moses weren’t destroyed on the spot, the Bible says.

As crazy as this situation was because of failure to trust God, you and I are to be careful about pointing fingers at Aaron and the sinful Hebrews.

For we’ve come up with some crazy, creative excuses of our own to rationalize our sins.

If you and I were to look over our lives and honestly diagnose why we fell into sin, there would certainly be times when our choices seemed “Aaronic” in their absence of logic.

Listen, the best way to avoid looking stupid in God’s sight is to avoid stupid decisions.

If Aaron had adopted a philosophy of making sure that every action would please God, then he would have never been caught up in the “I want to be a hero” moment. He would have told the people to wait from Moses to come off the mountain with the words of God’s leading.

Please, my friend, recognize that whenever Satan is tempting you to solve your problems in a way other than God’s ordained path, you are being lured into a trap.

Please make sure that your spiritual desire is for a surrendered relationship with God, not for a religious “check the box” that appeases the conscience while your indulge in pleasing the flesh.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It is such a small slice of scripture, these words from Exodus 30:14-15.

But the messages are huge.

God plays no favorites.

Every soul is worth the same.

Here are the words:

“All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the LORD. The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the LORD to atone for your lives.”

The “crossing over” refers to the taking of a census in the Israelite camp and the resulting gift for Tabernacle ministry costs that each person counted would be required to give.

If the rich or poor were to give the same amount as a token, atoning gift for their lives, then clearly God sees no variance in the worth of their lives.

If God doesn’t see one soul as more valuable than another, then we shouldn’t, either.

Listen, dear friend, there’s only one way that we can play favorites in the Church and not sin. And that’s by treating everybody as our favorite.

Please do so.

For when you don’t, people notice it.

Especially those who don’t make the top tier of your list.

I’ve seen way too much favoritism in churches over the past few years. It’s not pretty. Sometimes, it downright stings.

Who likes being ignored by the self-proclaimed “cool” people?

Take a cue from God.

Love everybody the same.

View everybody’s time and attention with the same value.

God does.

We should, too.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Before there were problems, there were solutions.

This lesson became clear to me after reading from Proverbs 8:22-26 this morning in the One-Year Bible.

It’s not a long passage, but it contains enough Wordcrafting to give me confidence of the supernatural origins of the ideas and principles that it contains.

I encourage you to read the passage that is part of a larger segment from the One-Year Bible. Perhaps your heart will be stirred in a similar fashion.

To have been formed before the heavens and earth came into being means that perfect order preceded random disorder.

And that teaches me that the purpose of wisdom is to guide us into restoring an orderly manner of thinking and acting into how we and others approach a fallen world disordered by the multiple, lingering effects of sin.

Please, my friend, view wisdom as your friend, as your roadmap to orderly living. Please seek an in-filling of wisdom into your heart, mind and soul so that you can see more of God’s orderly ways bringing stability into your life’s randomly disordered ways.

Please know that for every problem you face, there is a wise solutions that already exist.

Satan and his trouble-making teammates can cook up some major-league headaches for us, but there is NO problem that he can create that is greater than the wisdom God already has in place to overcome it.

This is my confidence and my desire.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through wisdom, your days will be many and years will be added to your life.” (Proverbs 4:10-11)

I’m sure that this is yours, as well.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It wasn’t until yesterday morning that I realized just how ignorant I am about America’s lust for gambling.

I knew, of course, that millions of people would bet on the Super Bowl. I’ve never done such a thing, but at least I recognize the competitive allure of trying to win something by chance rather than by hard work.

Some of you perhaps have bet on the game in the past. I’ll leave it to the Lord to speak to your heart on that one. I’m certain, though, that any winnings that came your way were not the result of God’s favor but instead were ungodly incentives to prompt further gambling.

What blew me away yesterday was the news that America’s lust for gambling is so rampant that thousands of people gambled on whether Christina Aguilera’s singing of the national anthem would be under 1 minute 54 seconds or over that amount of time.

I’m not making this up.

By now, you’ve probably heard that she messed up the words of the song, not just in turning one-syllable words into entire, warbled paragraphs, but also with leaving out part of the song.

Here’s an excerpt from a news article about the song and the betting associated with it:

“Some bettors thought that they should immediately get their money back because the prop bet relies on the singer to actually sing the right words. Others had a problem with the timing. The over/under bet settling at 1 minute and 54 seconds from time Aguilera opened her mouth to the time she finish. Bodog’s official time was 1:53:7, meaning that those who took the under won. But bettors on Twitter were telling me that Bookmaker.com was paying out for the over.

“Sportsbook.com spokesman Mike Pierce told CNBC early Monday that it had timed out Aguilera’s anthem at both 1:53 and 1:54 and was going to make a determination sometime on Monday.

“It’s unclear what the discrepancy seems to be, but it might be the fact that Aguilera added the word “oh” after she sang the word “Brave.”

To me, this is an unbelievable waste of time and money by thousands on something so insignificant in the big picture of life.

And we wonder why our economy is in such a mess.

When I read this article and when I thought of people I know who see gambling almost as gardening, my heart was pained.

I’m am prayiing that God open my eyes to ways that I can more effectively teach against gambling. I’m not as sharp in this respect as I need to be in order to provide the shepherding influence needed by the people in my circle of influence.

I hope that I will be within the near future. For people keep throwing money away in all sorts of ways, particularly with the lottery.

Please, my friend, don’t gamble.

Do the sure things.

Tithe as God commands.

Pay your monthly bills.

Pay off debts with money that you are tempted to gamble away.

Save.

Give to those in need, not to those in greed.

These things are sure to please the Father.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I’m so very glad that Jesus doesn’t view people the way that most do.

You see, we humans typically fall into the trap of ranking others according to their looks or their abilities or their amount of possessions or according to some other human standard.

It happens in some churches now with how some visitors are treated when they walk in the door.

The Book of James even addresses this cancer of wealth-based favoritism that slips into Christianity.

“She’s the smartest” or “He’s the wealthiest” or “They’re the most popular” seem to naturally pop into our minds as we try to organize how we assign places of influence that others have with us.

Jesus didn’t do this during His ministry and we shouldn’t, either.

What He did do, though, was evaluate people according to their responses to Him or according to how they practiced their faith.

I was reminded of this truth this morning during my reading from Matthew 25 and the Parable of the Talents. I’m sure that you recall the story.

A wealthy man was going on a long trip and wanted his money to be profitable while he was gone so he assigned five talents (i.e., five bags) of gold to one, two talents to another and one talent to a third. The variance in assignments was based on the subordinate’s ability, the Bible says.

Interestingly, though, how the wealthy man valued the men seemingly was not determined by ability, but instead by their demonstration of responsibility.

At his return, the wealthy man described both the first and second servants as “faithful” because their efforts produced a 100 percent return on the investment.

It didn’t matter that the gross amount of investment return was greater for the first, the parable showed. What mattered was that both the first and second servants were faithful and that pleased the master.

Of course, we know that the third servant messed up big-time because he simply buried the bag of gold that he’s been told to invest. And the excuse he gave — that the master was a hard man who wanted a harvest but was unwilling to work for it — was incredibly offensive. It’s no wonder that servant #3 ended up on the fast train to hell.

What’s the point of this devotion? You and I are to find encouragement and inspiration in the fact that Jesus is just as pleased with a two-talent servant as He is with a five-talent servant. For it is the fact of the fruitfulness — not the specific amount — that brings Jesus joy and brings verification that His Word and His Spirit are moving and transforming a congregation of believers.

Please pray for spiritual eyes to see the opportunities to use your gifts and talents more successfully so that more lives can be influenced by the Gospel.

If you’re making a genuine difference in people’s lives because of how you’re using your gifts and talents, then rejoice as you continue bearing that fruit and growing in your ability to be even more fruitful in the years ahead.

As always, I love you
Martin

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