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Archive for April, 2013

“People who despise advice are asking for trouble” — great wisdom from Proverbs 13:13.

Welcome the insights of others who are sincerely trying to help.

It’s not the hearing and evaluating such advice that typically yields big problems.

Instead, it’s the despising of advice because we think we know it all or that the other person knows nothing.

Please welcome the well-intended advice of others, even if you ultimately take another direction with your choice.

You just might save yourself some big headaches.

As always, I love you
Martin

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There are all sorts of theological arguments floating around about the status of Jerusalem after the second coming of Christ.

Some believe the Bible teaches a physical, earthly world capital will be established in a perfect format.

Some believe the Bible teaches that everything physical will be destroyed by fire and the new Jerusalem is a figurative term for heaven.

And, of course, there are variant interpretations between those two views.

Regardless of your view, the universal love of God was affirmed this morning during my Bible reading.

You see, we serve a God who who is incredibly gracious and non-discriminatory, a God who loves everybody the same, regardless of whether they accept His message of salvation and ultimately inherit eternal life.

When the final Jerusalem is established up there or, as some believe, down here, it will have people of all sorts.

Why? Because God made people of all sorts and Jesus died for people of all sorts.

Here’s the psalmist’s view on God’s universal love:

I will count Egypt and Babylon among those who know me — also Philistia and Tyre, and even distant Ethiopia. They have all become citizens of Jerusalem! Regarding Jerusalem it will be said, “Everyone enjoys the rights of citizenship there.” And the Most High will personally bless this city. When the Lord registers the nations, He will say, “They have all become citizens of Jerusalem.” (Psalm 87:4-6)

The day is coming when all will stand before the Lord and those whose names have been registered in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be known as citizens of heaven, of “Jerusalem.”

People from all nations — even those nations with a history of opposition to God’s will — will be welcomed despite their individual sins. Why? Because they have welcomed Jesus Christ into their hearts as Lord and Savior.

If God is willing to let past offenses go after people of every culture or color seek reconciliation and confer on them the priceless blessings of heaven, then we should do the same.

Please, my friend, don’t look at the outside of a person when considering whether to share your love and help. Look at the heart. For that’s what God did when He picked David.

That’s what Jesus did when He chose to love and save sinners.

And that’s what we’re called to do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Yes, you and I try to be faithful to the Lord.

And we often are.

But there are those random moments when our definition of “faithful” takes a sad, sour turn.

At least in God’s sight.

We become so wrapped up in exalting Jesus’ majestic nature that we slip into ignoring His merciful nature.

Let me cite a passage in today’s One-Year Bible reading that illustrates this trap.

“As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening.

“They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

“Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him.” (Luke 18:35-39)

Wow.

The “new kingdom is coming” crowd was so caught up in the hype of the Messiah heading to Jerusalem that they completely forgot or ignored part of why Jesus came to earth — “to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” (Isaiah 42:7).

They were focused on their agenda of wanting to again be the top nation in the world rather than on Christ’s agenda of helping hurting people get on top of their life problems.

It’s a sad, pathetic picture, actually, this scene of screaming disciples shouting down a blind man who wants Christ’s healing touch.

I’m glad that Jesus didn’t let the crowd determine His intercessory agenda.

I’m glad for the man named Bartimaeus.

I’m sad, though, for those who yelled at Bartimaeus to shut up.

This was a terrible day for how their view of faith was portrayed.

The question for us is this — are there people in our lives wanting Christ’s intercessory help but we’re too caught up in focusing on making our church bigger when we should be focusing on making our church better?

Are we so wrapped up in awesome worship that we fail to worship God with acts of mercy toward those outside the church? Or perhaps even some who have been visiting our churches?

Is it possible that, as the old country gospel song says, we’re so heavenly focused that we’re no earthly good?

I pray that you savor the moments of great worship and that you enjoy the bliss of sweet fellowship with church friends.

But please don’t let the love of comfort distract you from doing all you can to bring comfort to those overtly or subtly crying out for help and hope.

After all, we ARE to be ambassadors for Christ.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Imagine being given the choice between staying chained to the railing of a sinking ship or having a seven-pound anchor shackled to your leg before you abandoned ship.

What a terrible choice! Of course, one choice offers no hope of survival. The other provides little confidence of being rescued, though.

It’s hard enough to stay afloat or swim with no additional weight pulling us down and having to compensate for more weight pulling us down would exhaust us in no time and we’d continually be gripped with fear of death.

Listen, God doesn’t want us to face such anxiety. That’s why He calls us into relationship with Him.

Without Him, we’re going down sooner or later because nobody can be perfect and thus earn eternal life.

But when our hearts are placed into His hands, we no longer have to worry about if our spiritual ship is sinking.

You see, nothing of this world is taking the Kingdom of God down or Satan would have already succeeded in doing so.

Remember that Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail against God’s Kingdom.

And when our hearts are placed into God’s hands, we no longer have to swim with the anchor of guilt because God offers the promise that we are “new creations” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), the old has gone away.

Living and serving God without fear of His wrath and in ways that please Him and instruct others — this is our mission as believers as taught in Luke 1.

Embedded in that chapter’s words involving the birth of John the Baptist are these compelling, inspiring words that describe the life that God intended to bring to Israel through the advent of this future prophet.

We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.” (vv. 74-75)

Please join me in committing this passage to memory. For it captures the core of what God wants from us — confident minds, holy hearts and godly choices.

Boldness. Holiness. Righteousness. For as long as we live.

Let’s do this.

As always, I love you
Martin

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The body has an amazing ability to retain strength and wellness when we don’t corrupt it with unhealthy food, vices or thoughts.

But there is this human tendency to do things like eating too much salt and grease and sugar or like falling into the pits of lust or bitterness or greed or vain independance from God’s ways.

The result is never good.

I recognize this weakness of human pride and strive to limit my waywardness. I’m not perfect, but every year the random divergence from the center line of God’s path seems to become less and less.

That’s a good thing.

I was reminded in today’s One-Year Bible reading as to why sticking to the center line of Christ’s example is such a good idea.

In a nutshell, Joshua 6-7 describe how the Israelites had just experienced the great, miraculous victory over the city of Jericho and all were excited — except God.

Why? Because an Israelite family had secretly defied God’s command that all the silver and gold from Jericho belong to God and should be placed in the national treasury.

Why Achan and his family thought they could get away with defying God’s command and keeping silver for themselves is beyond me. After all, Achan was trying to fool the Jehovah who sent the plagues, parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River and who knocked down the walls of Jerocho.

Remember, though, sin is never logical in a spiritual sense.

Right after defeating Jericho, the Israelites decided to attack a city called Ai. Surprisingly to them, they suffered an embarrassing defeat because they clearly weren’t getting any battle wisdom or strength from God.

God knew the reason and He wanted the people of Israel to learn it in a regimented, retained way.

He commanded a lengthy process of elimination that — in a way not described in scripture — ultimately revealed the culprit family and retrieved that which belonged to the Lord.

Until God was honored as He commanded, the power for victory would not flow from God. Here is God’s message to Joshua to be told to the grieving, confused and fear-filled people:

‘“Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them.” (Joshua 7:13)

I encourage you to read Joshua 7-8 to learn from this sequence in Israel’s history. For it just might reduce the likelihood of your experiencing the heartache of spiritual failure, whether your own or that of another.

Listen, anything in our lives that God has told us to give up — whether it be tithing back to Him a portion of the wealth He pours into our lives or it be a sinful habit that is to be laid aside — let’s do it.

The consequences of defiantly refusing to do what God wants — and then thinking we can hide it from Him — should be avoided at all costs.

God created us to thrive in His love as we trust in His Truth.

Let’s thrive together, OK?

As always, I love you
Martin

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The godly are directed by honesty” (Proverbs 11:5)

Everybody follows a compass.

But not every compass has an accurate needle.

In fact, most compasses are off-target because there is no absolute North in terms of truth established apart from human whim and opinion.

You know how a compass works — a magnetized needle points to the North Pole because that’s where the magnetic pull emanating from the earth’s mass is most pronounced.

And so people can go here and there with directional confidence because their compass has an established reference point that is reliable. If they head 180 degrees from where they are standing one day and then turn around two days later and take a path heading 180 degrees in the opposite direction, they’ll make it back home.

If only it were that predictable when there is no fixed reference point of truth.

This is why most people in the world are off-course spiritually.

Even if they and others tell them that they’re just fine.

After all, this argument goes, if most people are heading down a certain path that doesn’t follow God’s True North, then those people have to be right, don’t they?

Jesus didn’t think so and that’s why He taught that many people follow the path that leads to destruction, not eternal life.

It is very important that we consider what compass we are trusting and if it points at God’s True North as taught in the Bible with passages such as Philippians 4:8-9. Please click on the passage citation to read this centering text.

Listen, make sure that you are led by the Lord as you chart a course based on spiritual conviction. Life will be so much better that way for everyone in your life. Particularly for those whom you invite to walk the straight and narrow with you.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s not only the unselfish acts of mercy or generosity or personal holiness toward others that please the Lord.

Sometimes, it’s simply the choice to be honest in a business deal or shopping transaction that puts a smile on God’s face.

We all — including God — know that circumstances arise when it would be very easy to sacrifice integrity for the sake of financial gain.

In fact, not including God, we’ve all done so in one way or another at one time or another.

We put a frown on God’s face, not a smile.

Not good.

Hopefully, our predominant pattern has been to choose honesty ahead of illicit gain.

For it is when we please God that we are compiling enduring riches of knowing we’ve pleased our Creator and eternal Judge.

Here is God’s view on financial honesty.

“The Lord detests the use of dishonest scales, but He delights in accurate weights.” (Proverbs 11:1 NLT)

Please God today, my friend.

Let’s do our best to be completely honest with our business dealings or with what we claim to have earned at our job. Ethical lapses aren’t going to help us because God sees it all.

If you’re paid for eight hours, make sure that you work eight hours, not six hours and 37 minutes because of selfishly long coffee breaks or lunch breaks or any other disruption at or on the way to work.

If you’re selling something, don’t lie about its condition. Please make sure that the buyer knows accurately what he or she is purchasing.

After all, Jesus said do for others what you would want them to do for you.

None of us like being cheated.

Let’s make sure that we don’t find ourselves listed among the cheaters.

God wants the best for us and from us.

Honestly.

As always, I love you
Martin

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