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Archive for August, 2012

I don’t know anybody who was given a time-share weekend in heaven before having to return to their everyday life.

Some might think that a “try it first” experience would boost the number of people choosing to become Christians.

It might increase the demand for the blessings of heaven but it also would diminish the role of faith, wouldn’t it?

For it wouldn’t be faith that sustained the demand, but rather “sight.”

If we say we have to experience the rewards of faith before demonstrating the commitment of faith, then how are we different than the couple who want to shack up for awhile before they get married?

Listen, choosing Christ and anticipating life in heaven after our death is part of godly faith.

There is no need for trusting God and believing in His promises if our minimum level of compliance isn’t based on hope.

Why do I need to trust somebody to give me something if I already have it?

Why do I need to hope that somebody will show up to help me if they’re already standing by my side?

In 2 Corinthians 5:7, the Apostle Paul wrote these words: “We live by faith, not by sight.”

He was speaking specifically to the promised, glorious blessings of heaven that awaited him in the next life. He talked about the stress of living on earth as a Christian and how his body “groans” because of the burdens he faced with spiritual persecution and perhaps physical aging.

Paul had faith that God would give him a heavenly body prepared by God Himself.

Aware of God’s miraculous power and sometimes used as a vessel for such, Paul had faith that the same God who had blessed him in earthly ways would bless him in eternal ways, even though Paul hadn’t been given a three-day test drive on the streets of gold.

Check out these words from 2 Cor. 4:16 – 5:1…

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

We will live with greater G force — God’s force — when our faith is shaped by what is in our hopes, not what is in our hands.

Let’s trust God more when it comes to obeying God in advance of His blessing us.

He’ll gain the glory He deserves and — when the time is right — we’ll gain the blessings we desire.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I know several people who are very nice and faithful, yet are hurting emotionally because of someone else who seems bent on making their lives miserable.

To me, it makes no sense.

I see the kindness and integrity and faithful devotion of the ones being antagonized.

It’s ridiculous, actually, to think that godly people are stuck dealing with such treatment.

Can’t the troublemakers see what I see? The goodness? The sincerity? The unselfishness? The devotion to serving others?

This isn’t a matter of logic, however.

Logic would do the character-quality math and come down on the positive side of the ledger.

I have faced — and still do at times — this conundrum of striving to be Christlike yet being treated like an enemy.

The fact is that many Christians face the same at their work or at their school or in their family relationships or even at church.

Perhaps you’re hurting now because somebody sees you as the enemy even though you treat them as friends.

I don’t have a magic wand for you, I’m sorry to say.

I certainly haven’t found one to wave over myself to insulate me from illogical antagonism.

We just have to take comfort in the fact that most Christians are logical in their treatment of others.

Most Christians don’t have a “hit list” of people they seek to make miserable.

Why this topic today?

In today’s daily Bible reading, a man named Elihu directed very hurtful, judgmental remarks toward Job, remarks that directly contradicted God’s description of Job as the most righteous man on earth, one who thoroughly pleased God.

Here’s what Elihu said:

Tell me, has there ever been a man like Job, with his thirst for irreverent talk? He chooses evil people as companions. He spends his time with wicked men. He has even said, ‘Why waste time trying to please God?’” (Job 34:1-2).

Wow. Talk about Job-bashing…..

Was God wrong about Job’s character? Or was Elihu?

Can you imagine how Job felt when he heard these words? Especially when he knew they were false? Especially after everything that he’d already been through?

Probably how you’ve felt when people said hurtful things about you that you knew were wrong.

Listen, hearing trash talk about ourselves is never fun.

Especially when we’re already having to deal with other difficulties and disappointments in life.

Especially when those saying false, hurtful things should be the ones building us up.

As with Job, it’s vital that our sense of inner strength stands on the unending love of God and our uninterrupted devotion to a life of spiritual integrity.

That way, when someone starts tearing us down with words that aren’t true, we’ll still stand because we cling to the Word of Truth.

As always, I love you
Martin

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If a Christian man can’t go to the beach without gazing at women’s bodies, then he shouldn’t go to the beach.

The same principle applies to Christian women, as well, regarding those young men with sculpted muscles and toned legs.

What did Paul write to Timothy? “Flee youthful lusts…”

I rarely go to the beach. Not for the above reason, though. I simply would much rather be IN the water swimming or scuba diving or ON the water boating rather than being by the water on the beach.

Many people struggle with the lust thing, though.

It is a real challenge because there are so many attractive people and there are so many unfulfilled people — not a good mix when it comes to being in the same place.

Hmmm…. this fertile soil for sinful thoughts — and perhaps subsequent actions — could exist anywhere, couldn’t it?

And skin doesn’t have to be showing for the mind to cross the line of morality.

For people who live in cold climates, waterfront gazing opportunities occur less frequently than in Florida where sand and surf and sun are in abundance.

Yet, do not men and women in colder climates also struggle with lustful thoughts in the workplace or college campuses or shopping malls or even grocery store aisles?

Places where people are completely dressed?

Yes.

The presence of clothing — sometimes multiple layers of it — is no barrier to the pondering and pandering of the mind.

Consider this passage written nearly 4,000 years ago in a land where women were covered almost completely from head to toe with multiple layers of fabric:

I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a virgin. For what is our lot from God above, our heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? Does he not see my ways and count my every step?” (Job 31:1-4)

We know that Job was the most righteous man on earth in his day, said by scholars to be around the time of Abraham.

He was married and had been the father of adult daughters. He knew that he had no business gazing lustfully at other women and he promised to honor God with his eyes.

And yet, because Job determined that he had to declare a promise to God in order to draw the line on looking, this must have been a real struggle for him at some point.

It’s a promise that every Christian adult should make.

Look, we’ve all failed at some point with respect to this verse. Hopefully we’re not failing now.

Disaster awaits us in this life and the next if we don’t bring our eyes under subjection to the holiness of God.

Why? Because the eyes are the window to the soul and we don’t need to be letting Satan pour poisoned “eye candy” into our souls.

God is watching you and me and counting our steps. Let’s make sure that our heritage is holy, not dishonorable.

As always, I love you
Martin

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So this young convert comes up to you — with all kinds of excitement about becoming a Christian — and asks you, “What is the best way to show my faith?”

What do you say?

Never miss a church service?

Invite someone to church each week?

Tithe?

Go to a Christian convention?

These are all good, godly things but I believe there is a better answer.

A biblical answer with an address that’s easy to remember.

It’s found in Job 28:28.

And it’s very easy to understand.

“And this is what He says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.'”

To forsake evil is real understanding?

That’s right.

Because the only reason that someone would forsake evil in this world is because he or she has chosen faith over flesh.

Our sinful nature is drawn to doing things that are evil when compared to the righteous life God desires from us.

We are not going to forsake evil naturally, but only by choice.

A faithful choice.

I can take a new guest with me to church every Sunday of my life and make sure to put in my tithe check, but if I don’t forsake evil during the other 167 hours of the week, then I clearly lack godly wisdom.

I am showing that my faith is useless 99.5% of the time.

This is not good.

Let’s make sure that we examine our lives to rid them of anything offensive to God.

The more we do this, the more we’ll show God that we appreciate His love and understand His will.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s one thing to describe ourselves as faithful when life is going well with a steady job, good health, a friendly church and family members who don’t hassle us.

It’s quite another thing to remain faithful when we’ve lost our job, our medical expenses skyrocket, church members turn on us and our family members start blaming us for messing up their life situations.

To some extent, most of us have experienced the unwelcomed transition from smooth sailing into the cold, wave-tossed storms in the darkness.

Did our measure of trust shine through in the storm? Did we keep our hand on the rudder and eye on the Lighthouse on the horizon?

Did we remember that the God who allowed the storm to come upon us is the same God who will rejoice with us and bless us and comfort us when the storm’s time of testing is finished?

You know, I’m very glad that the airliners that I enter from time to time were tested for wing strength hundreds of times before a passenger was ever allowed into them. That’s why passengers can have confidence they’ll arrive at their destinations.

And I’m glad that God tests my faith from time to time.

Sometimes the tests are far tougher than what I would have ever asked for, but God chose to prepare me so that I would be ready for anything that came down the path of life.

Did I like the times when God delayed sending the answers that I prayed for? Of course not.

Did I like when it became clear that the answer was “No” and that I’d have to change my definition of an acceptable life situation?

Of course not.

Looking back over the years of my life, though, I realize that the times of testing have helped to purge the “phony” out of my faith.

Now, if some of my prayers go unanswered for awhile, or if my desire for an overwhelming flood within my heart of His presence is unmet for a spell, I no longer doubt His love and plan.

I just keep listening for His voice, looking into His Word, loving His people and looking for ways to connect with those who have not yet chosen Christ as Savior.

I’m not perfect at it, of course, but I’m working toward that end.

I pray that you will, too.

I thank Job for inspiring this Morning Devotion with these words from today’s reading in the One-Year Bible.

“But if I go to the east, He is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find Him.

“When He is at work in the north, I do not see Him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him.

“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

“My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to His way without turning aside.

“I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:8-12)

Come forth as gold, my friend.

God really wants you to be part of His heavenly Ft. Knox.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Some of you have read Pilgrim’s Progress, a book written centuries ago by John Bunyan. It’s a fictional account of a convert who encounters all sorts of distractions and disruptions on his journey through life that are designed to turn him against God.

I’m glad that “Pilgrim” didn’t quit and that he made it to glory.

That’s where I want to end up and I hope that you have the same desire.

It’s crystal clear that God has this desire for you and me.

That’s why He’s given us the Bible.

And that’s why He’s placed within its pages a compelling verse to remind us of how we can stay on that path to glory.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (I Cor. 15:58)

Listen, when we’re not giving ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, it’s because a distraction or disruption has moved us from the center of the path leading to glory.

It’s because we’ve started listening — even a little bit — to the lie that being 100% faithful 100% of the time is not worth it.

We’ve started believing the lie that cutting back a bit here and a bit there in our morality or in our volunteerism or in our financial offerings is OK since we’re still doing more than “a bunch of other people.”

It’s a bad thing — and costly in so many ways — when we think that total devotion to the Lord isn’t a good investment of the heart, mind and flesh.

That’s why we need to heed this verse.

Nothing moved Christ from the path that led to the cross.

He knew that His suffering and death would not be in vain.

He knew that if He quit that path, people like you and me would have no hope of eternal life.

And so He gave Himself fully — to the point of death — to God’s redemptive plan.

For you.

For me.

Please, dear friend, don’t let Satan’s lies or any other distractions or disruptions lure you off the path of devotion to God and service to His Kingdom.

Your commitment will not be in vain, but will lead to eternal gain. And you’ll avoid setting the example that encourages others to step off the path to glory.

As always, I love you
Martin

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When Satan succeeds in luring us into sin — of any sort — do we recognize our failure and start feeling remorse?

Do we go the next step toward spiritual peace by confessing the sin to God?

Or do we tune out the Holy Spirit’s convicting voice as we listen to Satan’s lie that others do things much worse and, therefore, we shouldn’t feel guilty?

While reading from the One-Year Bible this morning, I saw a verse that stirred my thinking about a trend I’m seeing on Facebook among people who probably would never see themselves as crude.

This troubling trend has even permeated the messages of some Christians I know.

I’m talking about the use of abbreviations that represent profane phrases.

You probably know the types of phrases I’m talking about, particularly those that start with “Laughing…”

It breaks my heart to see such.

Especially among those attending churches.

Some of these abbreviations represent really dirty words.

Anybody claiming any kind of relationship with God should despise such messages and should ask God for wisdom in how to bring Light into the darkened vocabularies of those typing foul phrases.

I’m certainly praying for that kind of wisdom now.

I’m also praying that the Holy Spirit succeed in convicting the hearts of those publishing such abbreviations on social media sites such as Facebook.

Here’s the verse that prompted this Morning Devotion:

“I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.” (Psalm 38:18)

It is my desire that believers who have carelessly fallen into the foul abbreviation trap will be troubled by their choices and do what Psalm 38:18 teaches.

Colossians 3:17 calls believers to speak in ways that honors God.

Let’s look for every opportunity to guide believers toward godliness, even with their keyboards.

And if we have work to do ourselves in this regard, let’s get at it.

It’s the least we can do to show Christ our trust in Him and appreciation for His sacrifice on the cross.

As always, I love you
Martin

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