Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2013

There’s a troubling trend within Christianity that claims hell doesn’t exist.

It sounds in many ways like the teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses that bad people simply stop existing as spiritual beings when they die — as if that is even possible — and that saved people go to heaven.

Basically, the idea is that unsaved people who reject Christ don’t go to soul prison where they suffer forever, but instead only don’t get invited to the eternal party.

It’s an oversimplification, I know, but you should be aware of the variant teaching starting to permeate too many minds and hearts.

What does Jesus think about the concept of hell?

I’ll let Him speak for Himself:

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands. If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one foot than to be thrown into hell with two feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, ‘where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out.’” (Mark 9:43-48).

Jesus was either wrong or He was right.

I choose to believe the latter.

I pray that you do, too, so that you won’t lose sight of why it’s SO important that we lead people away from that path that leads to eternal suffering.

As always, I love you
Martin

Read Full Post »

Even the nicest of Christians is not immune to the most insidious of sins.

You see, Satan hates it when we’re nice.

That’s why he so persistently tempts us toward the opposite.

That’s why he dangles the sometimes delicious lure of gossip in front of us so that we’ll swallow it in the twisted belief that it will satisfy a craving that could only be described as carnal.

You and I strive to resist these temptations, of course, because we know they are tricky traps described by the Bible as “tasty morsels.”

But sadly, we’ve all chosen at times to illustrate the axiom “You are what you eat.”

We’ve become lousy crumbs.

Let’s pledge once and for all to do better.

Let’s pledge once and for all to recognize and reject Satan’s tricky trap.

Let’s weave Proverbs 10:18 into our lifestyle map.

“Slandering others makes you a fool.” (New Living Translation)

When someone wrongs us, let’s pray for them, not prey upon them.

As always, I love you
Martin

Read Full Post »

Sometimes, people learn about our character through subtle observation.

For example, if we believe that God has given us more than we need, we’ll leave some for others in whatever setting we find ourselves.

This principle of abundance shows up in how we tip restaurant servers, how we negotiate when buying things from relatives or friends, how we show grace toward someone who has offended us or even with how we make sure that others have a dessert at church dinners before we blindly add the last piece to the slice already on our dessert plate.

It’s not cool to have two pieces of dessert when somebody else is standing at the table, wondering where all the dessert went.

The life of faith is a life of sharing.

Actually, it’s more than that.

It’s making sure that others are provided for ahead of ourselves.

God’s voice is really the only compass that we can trust in this matter of knowing when and how to keep some for ourselves and when to simply give what we have to others.

I pray that you’ll ask Him for wisdom in this arena when it comes to your home life, your work life, your church life or your school life.

Here’s the passage from the One-Year Bible that prompted this devotion:

When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:9-10)

God was calling the Hebrews away from selfishness and into benevolent generosity. Yes, the people could take ALL the crops from the land they owned and had worked. But that didn’t mean that they should.

The harvest was a gift from God, obviously, and so God had every right to direct that some of the harvest be left for others as a form of Old Testament welfare.

For the soft-hearted person who cared about obeying God and serving others, NOT harvesting the field edges or corners was a visible way to display faith at the same time as serving others.

Listen, don’t be the person who squeezes and twists and coerces and manipulates others in order to get every penny out of the deal, whether it be in the restaurant or in the workplace or in the real estate deal or in the estate-settlement discussions following a parent’s death or in those difficult conversations when somebody is telling us they’re sorry.

Leave something behind for others.

Your faith will be on display in a positive way, if you do.

As always, I love you
Martin

Read Full Post »

It’s amazing how much things can change when Jesus enters the picture in somebody’s life.

Mark 7:31-37 describe a change that is mind-boggling.

A deaf man who had somehow learned to speak a few, garbled words had been going through each day, one struggling moment at a time. Perhaps this had been going on for decades.

Deafness is tough now even with all the technology and increased attention of society to helping victims, not shunning them.

Imagine how it must have been back in Jesus’ day, particularly within the climate of compassion-less religious teachings that said deaf people were afflicted because of their sinfulness or the sinfulness of their parents.

Somehow, this deaf man — likely treated as an outcast by most people — had been blessed with some caring friends or relatives.

People who knew that Jesus was a miracle-worker and who knew that their deaf friend didn’t have any other hope of healing.

They didn’t know how Jesus would react to seeing this so-called “sinner” placed in front of Him. After all, Jesus was surrounded by teeming crowds filled with people wanting divine blessings or wisdom or healing.

But they figured this was their only shot and they didn’t care about the catcalls of others who might have told them to take a number and step to the back of the line.

They BEGGED Jesus to heal their friend.

Can you imagine how that desperation for intercession made the deaf man feel loved? Not alone in a brutal world?

Wow.

Jesus saw the dynamic of the moment and of the relationships and of the deaf man whose eyes were probably overwhelmed with a maelstrom of hope and uncertainty and fears that if this didn’t work, he would lose all hope of deliverance.

Jesus responded with the unthinkable.

Not only did Jesus make the deaf man His only priority at that moment, ignoring the crowd and even His own disciples in taking the man away so the two could be alone, but Jesus spit into His hand and then touched the man’s tongue with the saliva.

Oh my.

The social etiquette police of the day probably had heart attacks when they saw this happen from a distance.

But it worked. Along with Jesus’ spoken prayer for the man’s ears to be opened, the touch transformed the man into wholeness.

Wow.

Perhaps someone in your life needs the blessing of your intercessory spirit desperate to help him or her in their season of stress or fear or pain or loneliness or whatever.

Perhaps someone in your life needs to see that you care more about helping him or her than you do about peer approval.

Perhaps someone in your life needs to experience Jesus’ love and power and he or she might not if you don’t ask them to go with you to church or to Bible study or into a time of prayer.

Please let this Bible story move you as it does me.

You just might be amazed at how God moves in response.

As always, I love you
Martin

Read Full Post »

Morning Devotion: Truly glad

I was reminded this morning that I have all the reason I’ll ever need in order to be “truly glad.”

And that was good news.

Who doesn’t want to be truly glad?

Against the backdrop of discouraging news about societal decay and news from loved ones about deteriorating health and the sadness of seeing friends’ marriages disintegrate, it’s easy to lose the feeling of being truly glad.

But God’s Word teaches that gladness is not to be determined by circumstances.

Rather, our being truly glad is to be based on a promise that has already been kept.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

“So be truly glad.” (I Peter 1:3-6)

My goodness.

The Christian life is a series of temporary hassles permeated with the promise of eternal happiness.

I’m truly glad that my eternity will be characterized only by perfection and peace.

I pray that you’ll be truly glad as you anticipate the same priceless inheritance.

As always, I love you
Martin

Read Full Post »

Some of you have never driven a car or motorcycle or even a bicycle into a roadside ditch.

Good for you.

Many of us cannot make the same statement.

Somewhere along the way, we goofed and found ourselves where we did not want to be.

And then began the hassle of getting the vehicle out of the ditch. Ugh!

Life is so much better when we don’t end up in a ditch.

In so many ways.

You’re quite aware that Satan loves ditches.

In fact, that’s why he works so hard to distract and deceive — he wants people to fall into ditches of disruption, despair and ultimately distrust of themselves, distrust of others and distrust of God.

How many people do you know who have repeatedly made poor choices and repeatedly found themselves in emotional, financial or spiritual ditches and then they blame God for not “helping” them enough?

Listen, it’s SO much better when we’re careful to walk the path of godliness.

We’ll see those tricky traps of Satan to get us looking one way while the proper path actually turns another.

Here is King Solomon’s take on the topic:

“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.” (Proverbs 10:9)

Let’s keep our eyes on the path demonstrated by Jesus, living honorably and compassionately and fearlessly.

That way we’ll please God and we’ll be able to help those who need help out of the ditch.

As always, I love you
Martin

Read Full Post »

It’s easier to plant bush bean seeds than it is tomato seeds.

Why? The bean seeds look like shriveled beans and are relatively large and easy to handle.

The tomato seeds, depending on the variety, can be quite small and slightly harder to manage.

But the tomato vine grows larger than the bush bean plant and the fruit is heftier and move visibly pleasing.

The point is this — smaller seeds do not equate with less important seeds.

Actually, they’re sometimes filled with more potential fruitfulness.

And then there’s the mustard seed, a tiny little thing smaller than the tiny seeds baked onto the surface of gourmet breads.

Though tiny, it can grow and grow and grow.

That’s why Jesus cited the mustard seed as an illustration for the potential of our little words and deeds of kindness and integrity planted into the lives of others.

“What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” (Mark 4:30-32)

Don’t worry if your brief word of reconciliation or deed of encouragement doesn’t appear impressive to others or even to yourself. A mustard seed isn’t impressive to look at, either.

Instead, consider how that seed can grow and then you’ll rejoice for the privilege of having planted something for which God promises to bring an increase via His power, not ours.

Remember, you and I are surrounded by lonely, tired birds looking for shade.

As always, I love you
Martin

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »