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Archive for November, 2012

I’d love to say that I always have great amounts of inner peace and that I never stumble as I walk boldly in faith.

The problem is that I can’t.

I have times occasionally when my level of confidence in my effectiveness for God is less than it should be.

I have times when I lean too much on my own understanding and not enough on God’s perfect plan and Word.

We both know how that kind of self-reliance usually turns out.

Not good.

Thank God that His standard for our performance is not the same standard that He holds to Himself.

God never lets us down.

To those leaning on Him and not their own understanding, there is a solid, purposeful path revealed and a strong right arm to hold us up (Proverbs 3:5-6).

We’d both do well today to study and re-study a verse from today’s reading in the One-Year Bible:

“Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.” (Psalm 119:165)

Want great peace? Want to never stumble in faith?

Fall in love with God’s Word.

After all, in many ways, it is a love letter to you that doubles as a perfect road map.

God will love it.

And you will love God more.

It’s a path guaranteed to give you more peace.

As always, I love you
Martin

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We do well when we imitate the work habits of Daniel.

I’m talking about the Daniel who lived 2,600 years ago in what is now Iraq.

Some of you have read about his life in the Bible book that bears his name.

If you haven’t, I encourage you to do so and learn how to become a better person.

I was reminded this morning of what set Daniel apart from others in his workplace.

“Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy.” (Daniel 6:5)

You’ve probably experienced firsthand what it’s like to have people trying to undercut you because your job performance or workplace attitude is better than theirs.

This is a common occurrence around the world.

It is a periodic byproduct of our being the people God wants us to be.

Simply put, it sometimes goes with the territory. Some of you might be facing fault-finders just now at your job.

Please, keep being faithful.

Keep being responsible.

Always.

Be completely responsible.

It might get tougher for you before it gets better, but the schemes of others will eventually come back against them and God will bless you if you keep trusting Him.

And God will be praised even more.

Daniel’s life proves it.

As always, I love you
Martin

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NOTICE TO READERS: this website hosting service has started posting ads at the bottom of some Morning Devotion posts and has told me that I will have to pay in order to block the ads. I am paid nothing for this ministry and I won’t pay to block the ads. Please know that I derive no income from these ads.

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It’s one of the most vivid word pictures in the Bible — the hand of God writing on the wall of King Belshazzar’s royal dining court.

It’s recorded in Daniel 5 and is a fascinating description of pride’s blinding cost.

Even today, we are still culturally acquainted with a remnant of that story. How? Because of the common usage of the phrase, “Read the handwriting on the wall” that we’ve all said at one time or another.

There’s much to learn from this account, but I want to point only at one element in that story just now.

In verse 27, we find this message from God to King Belshazzar that was embedded into the cryptic, divine inscription:

“You have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up.”

The king was gripped with fear at this message deciphered for him by Daniel. And with good reason.

This prideful, blasphemous potentate was dead by the next morning because of an enemy attack on the city.

It’s a horrible thing to hear that we’ve failed to live as God wants and then to be destroyed.

God doesn’t want this for anybody, 2 Peter 3:9 says.

Please examine honestly and humbly your life to see if it is godly according to biblical standards, not your own. I need to do the same.

For we both want to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Now enter into your rest.”

As we embrace and live for Christ, we”ll never have to worry about the scales saying that our lives were frauds that didn’t measure up to the expectations of God.

As always, I love you
Martin

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A common temptation for Christians is to think that we’ll give more worship and obedience to God if we receive more blessings from God.

“If I get a big raise, then I’ll tithe…”

“If my spouse starts attending church with me, then I’ll accept a volunteer ministry role…”

“When my daily schedule slows down after my retirement (or after the kids go off to college), then I’ll do a daily devotional time of Bible reading and prayer…”

Here is the fact: We don’t need more money or more spiritual compliance by a spouse or more free time before we’re able to live the godly life God wants.

It’s time to lose the “If” mentality of faith.

Here’s why:

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3)

Faith is not based on having enough stuff and time to spare some for God, but instead on how well we use what we already have to serve His Kingdom by sharing His love and the Good News of His Son with the people in our lives.

Let’s start serving more passionately in the knowledge that we have all we need to pursue success in God’s sight.

As always, I love you
Martin

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My disabled left arm is becoming a real pain and not just with the physical discomfort and lack of good sleep.

It takes far longer to type with one hand and this, of course, is a big problem for a writer and pastor.

The Morning Devotions will be very brief until I get my surgically repaired left arm back into action, a period of which I have no idea at this point. Please keep me in prayer.

Here’s the first post of my new status…

If you’re a good cook, will you consider cooking up dessert blessings to give to church visitors?

If you have “handyman” skills, will you consider donating a few hours to fix something broken at a church widow’s or disabled member’s house?

If you have a good reading voice, will you be a designated Bible story reader for your congregation’s Sunday School program?

We all have a set of abilities given us by the Lord to be used in His Kingdom. It’s not the same set, of course, but they’re given for the same purpose — to equip people for exalting God.

Here’s what the Apostle Peter wrote about this fact:

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (I Peter 4:10)

God has spoken to you before about volunteering to serve Him in some way. Please listen when He stirs your heart again.

People need your help.

And God deserves the worship that will be His as you obey.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I’m reading a book about the changes a Christian should consider making if he or she learned he or she had month to live.

My objective is to lead our congregation through this study sometime next year so that we’ll all become more clearly focused on the priority list God wants us to have in this life.

I’ve got room to do a better job in this respect. Perhaps you do, too.

That’s why I was intrigued this morning when I came across the following passage during my devotional reading time:

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:14-15)

There were several people in the Miami area who headed to work in their cars yesterday morning and expected to head back home last night.

But they didn’t.

They died in auto accidents, a total surprise to them and those who loved them.

None of us know for certain when our days on earth are done.

And so, our choices should be based on the distinct possibility that we might not be here tomorrow.

In view of that fact, it’s very important that we conduct a personal inventory of unfinished relationship tasks that need resolved. You see, we don’t want to leave this life with unresolved conflict between ourselves and another person.

And we don’t want to leave this life with an unfavorable spiritual legacy toward our loved ones.

Please don’t leave this life knowing you should have forgiven another, but you didn’t.

And, of course, don’t neglect the opportunities to seek the forgiveness of others if an apology is in order.

Whatever commitments made to others have not been fulfilled, please do so before your post-mortem reputation is stuck with the fact that you didn’t keep your promises.

Though the specific context of the passage above dealt with human desires for investment gains, I think the larger message of the verse involves relationships.

Here’s a priority structure that I use to guide my handling of time, finances and emotions — faith, then family, then friends and then work.

Please make a list of the things that you believe would HAVE to get done if you had one month to live. Pray about the list to make sure God’s Kingdom ranks first and then get at it.

I need to do the same.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Nobody likes confusing instructions.

Buy something requiring assembly of many parts in a particular sequence and the potential frustration level goes way up for many people.

Particularly if some of the parts aren’t made just right and don’t fit well.

Just about every dad has encountered this at one point or another in the middle of the night before Christmas morning.

When we are given accurate instructions for something that is very well-made, however, the experience of putting together a blessing is SO much more pleasant.

And so it is with instructions that come from the Lord for a life pleasing to Him and, ultimately, to ourselves.

I love how James 3 provides simple instructions for building a blessed life.

According to verse 3, a blessed life is not something based on status or abilities inherited from parents, but instead on an honorable life assembled with good works compelled by a desire for harmony with people, an attitude of gentleness and an absolute devotion to truthfulness and humility.

This assembly of a blessed life also includes the predisposition toward sincerity, avoidance of playing favorites and a desire for peace within our relationships.

So how does this product of faith look when good works, humility, unselfishness, harmony, gentleness, truthfulness, humility, sincerity and non-favoritism are assembled?

Verse 18 says that such people “reap a harvest of righteousness.”

Now that’s a very good thing because that means such people WILL see the Lord in the next life (Hebrews 12:14),

Please follow God’s instructions for assembling a holy, righteous life rather than your opinions and hunches. I’ll try to do the same and we can look forward to that glorious day when our work at assembling and re-assembling the perfected life will stop because we’ve entered God’s presence.

As always, I love you
Martin

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