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Archive for August, 2012

To have the life of peace and progress that we desire as Christians, we have to do the spiritual math.

I’m talking about the life we want being the sum of our faithful choices.

Consider the words of Psalm 37:30-31…

The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.”

Here’s how that might look in a spiritual math context:

righteous lips speaking wisdom

tongues speaking what is true and fair

+ heart filled with scripture

lives firmly on peaceful path toward eternity

Listen, if I want to pick tomatoes from a garden in my back yard, then I have to prep the soil, plant the seeds, water the plants, pull the weeds, add fertilizer and keep the pests away.

Juicy, flavorful tomatoes don’t just appear spontaneously in the lawn.

They are the result of “garden math.”

Let’s do the things that will allow us to enjoy the harvest of spiritual math.

Let’s be like Jesus.

Let’s make sure that the overflow from our lips is springing from a mind filled with wisdom, a disposition focused on fairness and a heart filled with the Word of God.

It’s SO much better when we’re not pulling ourselves out of the ditch — or being pulled out by another — because we didn’t follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Not every Christian adult has biological young adult children. But every Christian adult knows young adults who need prayer.

With all the moral and vocational and social challenges faced today by the young adults we love, there’s no doubt that an abundance of prayer is needed in their behalf, whether they’re carrying our DNA or not.

It’s no secret that Satan works extremely hard to lure and coerce young adults to walk away from the faith of their parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and other relatives and loving adults at church.

And, sadly, he’s typically successful.

There are some young adults, though, who have remained close to the heart of God.

They are serving the Lord and serving His people.

They are sharing their faith with the faithless.

I’m convinced that the prayers — and faith examples — of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, other relatives and loving adults at church have contributed significantly to this measure of young adult faithfulness.

It was the case with me when I was in my college years. The influence of those older who were faithful acted like a magnet guiding me toward the narrow path rather than as steel guard rails into which I banged before being forced back into faith.

I need to provide the kind of nurturing intercession for young adults today that was provided for me.

Why? Because Satan is seeking to steal, kill and destroy everything wholesome in their lives.

I need to have the intercessory heart for young adults that Job had for his children.

In Job 1:4-5, there’s a potent insight as to the deep, godly character of Job. I was really moved by this text today. I pray that it will move you, too.

His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, ‘Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ This was Job’s regular custom.”

Are you praying each morning for the young adults in your life? Are you remembering that Satan hates them and is committed to destroying their souls?

Listen, we need to pray that the young adults in our lives — whether they’re our biological children or not — are restored to a forgiven relationship with God.

If we aren’t willing to do so, what are we saying to God? What are we saying about those young adults?

Older Christians prayed for us, I’m sure, and we’re stronger as a result.

Let’s do the same for those who are behind us on the timeline of life.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Sometimes, the most familiar of passages provide the most effective tools for measuring our faith.

Such self-assessments are important because we’re called to be increasingly Christlike in our thoughts and actions.

In I Corinthians 13:4-8, the Apostle Paul gives us a 12-step test for examining how much we’ve turned over our hearts and minds to the Lord.

This is an explicitly simple-to-understand test, though some of its findings might prompt some hard-to-swallow changes in our lives.

As you consider each of the steps, it’s essential that you are brutally honest with yourself, answering in a way that others who know you best would concur.

Why the complete transparency and pronounced humility in responding?

Because God is examining us at all times and sees behind every prideful facade.

Certainly we don’t want to have unresolved character issues when we stand before Him, right?

So here goes. Remember, if you can think of specific people who might think you’re not displaying these characteristics, then there’s work to do with God’s help.

Please print this Morning Devotion so you can pray over the spiritual growth needs you see in your life, and I will do the same. Mark the boxes for which spiritual growth is needed.

Love is patient — Would somebody I know feel that I haven’t been patient with him or her lately?

Love is kind — Have I shown active compassion to people at home or work or school or church who are hurting emotionally because of some loss?

It does not envy — Has my desire for the life situation or possessions of another infected my attitude toward him/her and toward God?

It does not boast — Would others ever perceive me as fishing for compliments? Or trying to boost my status among peers?

It is not proud — Am I willing to accept advice or correction? Do I act like a know-it-all sometimes?

It does not dishonor others — Is there somebody who might say that I insulted him or her? Do I wound people with sarcasm?

It is not self-seeking — Am I known by all as one who lets others go first?

It is not easily angered — Short fuses are signs of a weak faith. Do some see me getting upset over small things?

It keeps no record of wrongs — Wow. Faith and refusal to forgive don’t go together. Does somebody believe I’m holding a grudge against him or her?

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth — Am I known as one who refuses to gossip? Do I say things that could be perceived as tearing down another?

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres — Is there anybody I know who feels I joined in attacks against them rather than trying to help them?

Love never fails — Is there someone in my life who believes that I’ve stopped wanting the best for them and that I’m unwilling to help them?

I’m going through this list with a prayerful attitude because I want to be more like Christ. That way, I’ll be more effective as His servant. I pray that you’ll do the same.

As always, I love you

Martin

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Wow.

There were so many directions to take this Morning Devotion based on the daily Bible reading for today.

I was led to address a particularly challenging passage in Psalm 35:11-16 that deals with random inequity we face if we’re acting in a Christlike manner.

We’ve all experienced this at one time or another. You might be encountering this test of faith just now.

I’m talking about the “rubber meets the road” circumstance when the Holy Spirit convicts you toward intercessory prayer on behalf of people who don’t like you and have even caused you much grief in one way or another.

It could involve a mean-spirited co-worker who becomes ill and misses work for several weeks.

It could involve a gossiping classmate who has turned some of your friends against you but now needs you to turn on the prayers.

It could involve a family member who resents your relationship with Mom and/or Dad and looks for ways to erode their love for you.

It might even involve a church member who snips at you because her “pinkie pal” friend at church is spending more time with you and now the member feels insecure.

However the darts fly our way, our call as believers is to send God’s way our prayers for blessing in the troubled persons’ lives.

Remember what Jesus said… it’s easy to intercede for those who like us and try to bless us. But for enemies? Not so.

King David offered a textbook example of how our attitude should be regarding prayers for troublesome people, regardless of their attitudes toward us.

“They repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved.

“Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting.

“When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother.

“I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother.

“But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; assailants gathered against me without my knowledge.

“They slandered me without ceasing.” (vv. 12-15)

To pray as fervently for your attacker as you would for your own brother or even your mother?

That’s an incredible display of humble faith.

There’s one reason that David could do this — he was a man after God’s heart.

Let’s seek after the heart of God and we’ll gain the strength to pray for good to enter the lives of those who want the opposite for us.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I read some very good counsel from the Apostle Paul this morning:

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (I Cor. 10:31).

I need to make sure that I pursue this principle throughout the day.

I pray that you will, too.

For He is worthy.

And our hopes rest on our relationship with Him.

God loves you.

Please show Him — and others — how much you love Him.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Perhaps you know a financially struggling believer who is being tempted to cheat his/her employer of expenses money or the IRS of taxes or perhaps even God of the tithes and other offerings that He expects.

Perhaps you know an emotionally struggling believer whose marriage is in poor shape and who is eyeing that “green grass” on the other side of the fence. Perhaps that believer has already started grazing in the poisoned pasture.

Or perhaps you know a grudge-controlled believer whose once-pleasant disposition has become soured by unforgiveness because someone “dared” offend him or her, perhaps even unknowingly.

We are to pray for such folk so that their hearts will not only soften but will become more attentive to the voice of the Lord.

Yes, they’re facing temptations that can be hard to resist, particularly if bad “me-ology” replaces good theology.

But if they’ll look, there’s always a faithful escape path from temptations they face.

God promises so.

It’s not easy to stand firm and faithful in the above circumstances.

But it’s a whole lot easier in eternity — and ultimately in this life — for those who do.

Here’s what the Apostle Paul had to say about those moments when believers find themselves at a fork in the road:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to us all. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (I Cor. 10:13)

I don’t know what temptations you’re facing now. But I do know that Satan hates God and hates you and does anything he can to lure you away from faithful living.

Remember that Satan is a liar, murderer, thief and extremely smart.

He also has nothing more to lose.

But you and I do have much to lose.

As in everything.

Please…. test every thought and feeling against the Word of God. Here’s a useful test passage to have on hand — Philippians 4:8-9.

Eternity is too valuable of a treasure to throw it away for departure from the path of faith, no matter how satisfied Satan says we’ll be.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Living as a faithful Christian involves putting up sometimes with unfaithful behavior of other Christians.

I’m talking about behavior such as nit-picking, critical words of others who don’t like us and who will grasp at straws to find something about which to complain.

Fortunately, this doesn’t happen much for most of us. When it does, though, it can be very frustrating.

So when this has happened to you, how have you responded?

With fire?

Or with grace?

With the Silver Rule that says do unto others as they have done unto you? Or with the Golden Rule?

The Apostle Paul wrote about this subject in today’s reading from the One-Year Bible. He and Barnabas had been criticized for accepting financial support in the past for their ministry, apparently by people who thought he and Barnabas should have secular jobs to support themselves with ministry being only on a volunteer basis.

I Corinthians 9 indicates that other traveling ministers were financially supported by churches, even to the point of providing travel and food expenses for some of their wives.

Yet Paul was criticized apparently as a money-seeker.

Wow.

He walked away from a cushy living as a Pharisee and into a life of financial and physical turmoil. Yet he has to put up with this garbage….

It would have been understandable from a human standpoint if he had said “Phooey with it!” and taken a full-time secular job, attending church on Sunday morning and not much else.

But Paul’s calling from the Lord and desire to see souls saved was greater than his desire to not be treated poorly.

And so, he endured the foolish, double-standard talk and kept loving, teaching, worshipping AND working as a tentmaker to provide his own financial support.

Here’s how he summed up the motive for continuing in his mission:

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.” (I Cor. 9:12)

Are you choosing to put up with unfaithful, hurtful words of people rather than hinder the gospel of Christ?

Critical, nit-picking words that could steal your joy if you allowed them to?

Anybody zealous for personal ministry is going to hear such. I certainly do.

What we must remember is that it’s not about us.

It’s about Christ and about those who need Him.

Please, put up with the random, hurtful ramblings of the few who don’t get it when it comes to church mission and how you participate.

That way, you won’t walk away from the call on your life to get the gospel to those who want hope for their hurting hearts.

As always, I love you
Martin

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