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Archive for May, 2012

Just about everybody has a moment now and then when their words are pure and purposeful and seemingly flavored with the wisdom of divine impact.

I love it when that happens, whether flowing from another toward me or vice-versa.

It just doesn’t happen enough in any of our lives.

Our challenge is to increase the prevalence of such moments. The best way to do that, of course, is to consume the Word of God in increasing measure so that what flows into us will flow out of us.

You know people whose lives and lips are glowing reflections of God’s nature and scripture.

They’re not perfect, of course, because they’re still in this life.

Yet they are clearly moving toward perfection as indicated by their increasing number of pure, purposeful and wise words.

Words that sometimes make a huge difference in our perspective and motivation toward a particular situation.

I want to become more like this. I pray that you do, too.

It would be good if we were more like Ahithophel of the Old Testament. He was an advisor to King David and was used by God in powerful, persuasive ways in order to help David cope and conquer a rebellion against him.

There’s quite a back story to the context of the verse below, but the seed truth in it is what I pray will motivate you and me today toward a heightened desire to read the Bible.

“For every word Ahithophel spoke seemed as wise as though it had come directly from the mouth of God.” (2 Samuel 16:23)

Imagine the influence for the gospel that you’d have if the above verse had your name in place of Ahithophel’s. Imagine the inner peace that you’d have because of so much of your inner being being filled with the perfect Word of God.

Yes, I need to hunger and thirst for righteousness found in the Bible. I pray that you’ll do the same.

For more people in our lives need to hear us sharing what comes directly from the Word of God.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Peer pressure pushes us sometimes toward compromises of integrity at the job, in our business dealings or even in internal family debates over how estates are divided.

I pray that you have avoided such compromises that promised the payoff of more wealth.

For you and I know that such wealth is both fleeting and far more costly in a spiritual and relationship sense than whatever tangible, temporary gain is found.

It is ironic that the wisdom of Proverbs 16:8 came from the materially richest human being in human history — King Solomon.

Yet, when Solomon wrote the words below in the winter of his life, he had learned painful lessons about the emotional and spiritual emptiness of unjustly fattened wallets.

Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8)

Sadly, his son Rehaboam didn’t learn the lesson and that failure contributed mightily to the national split and civil war that resulted, lasting at various levels for more than 300 years.

Yes, we’re surrounded by people who have nicer stuff than do we. And, yes, some of those things — or the dollars to buy them — were obtained in unethical ways.

What’s important to remember is that any item purchased with unjustly obtained money is too expensive in a spiritual sense.

For if acquiring a certain thing requires us to forfeit our integrity before God, we’re no different than someone who buys a snazzy speedboat on credit and races full throttle toward Niagara Falls.

I’d much rather enjoy a simple rowboat that carries me slowly but surely to the other side of life’s river.

Seek God first, my friend. Pursue righteousness.

God will meet your needs in the best way.

He promised such in Matthew 6:33.

As always, I love you
Martin

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There’s a very good reason that drivers are told to keep their eyes on the road.

When they don’t, bad things usually happen.

We all know this from personal or observed experience.

The same principle applies, of course, to common sense rules for boating, for hunting, for cooking or just about any activity with the potential for danger.

The fact is that we’re safer when we follow the rules.

Pull off the road to text on your cellphone.

Don’t ignore boat channel markers.

Don’t shoot at sounds in the bushes.

Use mesh splatter screens when frying.

The list goes on and on for the laws of safe living.

And so it is with the laws of faithful living.

Psalm 119:11 tells us that the more we instill the Word of God into our hearts and minds, the less we’ll sin against God.

We all have unfortunate memories of the times we neglected the Word and paid the price for it.

It’s very likely that our neglect of the Word — God’s laws for living — caused others to pay a price, as well, in one way or another.

I thank God, though, that many of you have learned the lesson of trusting God’s Word in increasing measure.

Spiritual goofs will still happen to us all occasionally until we graduate to glory. But at least our destiny is headed in the right direction — up!

The following verse from today’s reading in the One-Year Bible sums up what we must remember.

“If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” (Psalm 119:92)

God doesn’t want us to perish but instead to flourish. He promises so in 2 Cor. 9:8.

Hunger and thirst after righteousness. Crave His Truth. Yearn to learn. Read the Bible daily. Do as I do each morning and go to oneyearbibleonline.com to select the month and day for each reading.

You’ll spend 10-12 minutes a day learning of how wonderful God is and of how you can overcome whatever challenges come your way.

That’s a whole lot better than ending up in a spiritual ditch — perhaps even off the cliff — because you didn’t keep your eyes on the straight and narrow road.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Just the other day I had a conversation with somebody about the incongruity of claiming the Christian faith yet not living the Christian faith.

“Happens too often,” I observed.

Of course, being aware of my own imperfect status, I acknowledged my need for greater dedication to imitating Christ.

Luke 6:46’s recording of Jesus’ words speaks to this matter.

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord” and do not do what I say?”

Good question, huh?

I know that I should forgive 100 percent of the time. Do I? Do you? Hmmmm…..

I know that I should put others’ interests ahead of my own. Am I perfect with this? Are you? Hmmmm…..

I know that I should pray without ceasing and in everything rejoice. Do I have those down pat? Do you? Hmmmm…..

Yes, I’ve still got room for improvement.

I’m better than I was 10 years ago and hopefully better than last month, yet I still fall short sometimes of God’s glory and Christ’s example.

Here’s a target that I — and you — should aim for, provided by Jesus as recorded by the Apostle John.

“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. Anyone who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:21).

We all have access to the Bible so we have the commands. We all have the opportunity to obey the commands and will do so if we love Jesus.

Loving Jesus means being loved by God to the point of experiencing His presence.

Wow. That’s something that can’t happen enough.

Let’s make sure our talk matches our walk when it comes to claiming faith.

The benefits of doing so will be off the charts.

As always, I love you
Martin

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One of the simplest ways to influence people toward Christ is to treat others as Christ would.

Being kind and forgiving and morally pure is what demonstrates faith far more than being a verse-quoting machine with a walk that doesn’t match the talk.

I actually believe that we Christians sometimes miss out on huge opportunities for influence because we errantly think people are impressed more by our brainpower than by our serve-power.

Who prompts you more toward Christlike living? The braniac who talks theological circles around others? Or the humble, biblically solid believer who resolutely serves, gives without reservation and explains in a quiet fashion why his or her visible faith is an overflow of intimacy with God?

Like you, I want to lead more people into a saving relationship with Christ. Why? Because I am convinced that their lives will be better in this world and the next.

In view of a passage in today’s devotional reading, it is vital that I imitate Christ in how I treat others.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

Please make it your practice to show genuine love to every person at your congregation’s worship service or small-group learning event.

Don’t give people the cold shoulder.

Don’t miss out on the opportunities to greet visitors or infrequently attending members.

Seek them out.

Love them as if they were your best buddies who grew up in the congregation with you.

It’s not just those people who will appreciate the love you show.

Others watching you from a distance will see that you really are a disciple who thinks beyond himself or herself.

Even when it takes a kevlar lip and the hide of a rhinoceros to be patient and forgive, we must do so.

For that’s what love does.

That’s what Jesus did for us. And if we’re His disciples, that’s the love we’ll show to others.

As always, I love you
Martin

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As teens, we couldn’t expect somebody else’s parents to feed us and house us and buy us clothing.

We couldn’t expect those other parents to pay our car insurance deductibles when we got into vehicle accidents.

And we certainly couldn’t expect those parents to forgive us when we did careless, sometimes rebellious acts that caused us problems at school or even with the law.

You see, those expectations applied to parents whose DNA flowed through our veins or whose names were on the legal documents they signed to declare us as their adopted or foster children.

We were part of them by blood or by public declaration.

That’s why they interceded for us, sometimes even at great personal cost.

They didn’t have to have us as their children.

They could have chosen options that would have prevented such.

But there we were. Beneficiaries of their choices to care.

I was reminded of this principle this morning during my devotional time in the Word.

Jesus didn’t have to show love to the apostles.

He chose to.

They didn’t have to serve Him.

They chose to.

At least, after Jesus explained why they needed to do so.

With one exception named Judas.

John 13 describes Jesus’ washing of the apostles’ feet.

They were surprised, of course, that the King of Israel would do Gentile slave work.

Peter resisted at first.

But then Jesus dropped a bombshell that still rings in resounding fashion.

“Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (John 13:8)

There are all sorts of theological applications to this verse, but I want to focus briefly on just one.

Our place in Christ’s family is a result of His washing us.

It’s that simple.

The specific context of John 13 involved the washing of feet. The meaning of Jesus’ words was spiritual, not physical.

Let’s make sure that we’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb, via our verbal and baptismal confessions.

Let’s make sure that our subsequent sins have been washed away by the blood via sincere repentance before God and apologies as needed to those we’ve offended.

Let’s make sure that selfish, shady habits that stain our testimonies are dissolved away by floods of Bible reading and prayer.

Life is so much better when we’re part of Christ’s family. Let’s make sure that we’ve been washed by Him in conversion and sanctification.

As always, I love you
Martin

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As small children, we knew the safety and calm of being by our parent’s side.

If we were with them, we knew that we’d be OK.

And whenever we thought wandering off was a good idea, it usually ended up costing us in some way.

I certainly recall the fear of being lost for hours a couple of times when I thought staying close by an adult family member wasn’t important.

Perhaps you have the same sort of memories.

Trust me when I tell you that it’s not a good thing.

It is infinitely more troubling when being lost involves the soul and spirit.

Some of you recall the varieties of turmoil you faced before you chose to walk with Jesus.

Some of you might be facing that turmoil just now.

This is not God’s will for your life.

He wants you to be filled with peace and walking in power according to the purposes and gifts He has planted into your life.

The best way to be on that road is to follow Jesus.

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12:26)

Following Jesus doesn’t mean doing the freelance thing of creating our own definition of a faithful life based on being less sinful than others.

Instead, it means learning and living out the pattern of Christ demonstrated during His days on earth as recorded in the Bible.

Where He was in lifestyle and purpose is where we should be.

Helping the hurting and lacking is what He did and what we should do.

Avoiding the traps of greed and immorality is what He did and what we should do.

Being in frequent conversations about faith is what He did and what we should do.

Where He was is where we are to be.

That is, if we consider ourselves to be His servants.

God honored Jesus with deliverance from the grave and a legacy that lives forever.

He’ll do the same for us if we’ll seek to live for the same purposes as Jesus.

As always, I love you
Martin

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