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Archive for October, 2013

Now here’s a glorious passage from today’s reading in the One-Year Bible:

“Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!

“Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!

“Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!

“Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise”

If the things of nature can thrive in praise of our glorious Creator in the way described in Psalm 96:11-12, shouldn’t we as humans be able to shower Him with even more adoration?

Be glad today, my friend, because God is on the throne.

Rejoice that He is sovereign over the earth.

Shout His praise at every opportunity.

Burst with joy that overflows into others’ lives.

Rustle with praise as the winds of God’s Holy Spirit massage, compel and guide your heart, soul and mind.

Yes, we were created for the praise of His glory.

So let’s get at it.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Social stigmas against immorality are evaporating at an increasing rate.

It’s so troubling because of the implications for the future of this nation that was once strongly guided by biblical values.

Unlike some belief systems, we can’t threaten people with immediate harm in order to gain their concession/confession to our theology. That would be contrary to Christ’s example.

We can and should pray for people, though, in order that more of them are receptive to the values represented by the passage below. This was written by the Apostle Paul to the young preacher Timothy during a time when immorality and antagonism toward Christians were on the increase.

Paul knew it wasn’t easy serving in a self-serving, lust-loving world, but if Timothy didn’t demonstrate godliness and kindness and restraint in his social choices, then those who knew him would have no idea on how to do the same themselves.

  • “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace.”
  • “Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.”
  • “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.” (2 Timothy 2:22-24)

The media and so many people around us run toward anything that stimulates lust. We should do the opposite.

So many people around us avoid companionship with believers who strive to please God. We should desire more time with stronger Christians.

Everywhere we turn, there are people who love to complain and argue and “win” verbal scuffles. Our faith should reject such strategies without rejecting the people who need examples of better dealing with difficult people.

The above passage reminds me that I still have some room to grow in my faith.

Perhaps you’ll find some “to do” items in the passage above for your growth of faith.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I used to do ths more often.

Life has been very busy in the morning in recent months, though, and I’ve neglected the habit.

I need to change.

This is what I’s referring to:

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High.

“It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening, accompanied by the ten-stringed harp and the melody of the lyre.” (Psalm 92:1-3)

During your morning devotional time — or if you just do a prayer time in the morning without reading the Bible — please consider having some worship music playing in the background. It will help to create a more intimate atmosphere of worship.

And that should lead to a more pleasing time of worship with God.

Music really does help to set the mood.

“Thank you, Lord, for the psalmist’s reminder of this fact.”

As always, I love you
Martin

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Some believers fall into the trap of thinking their Christian influence is based on the ability to refute criticisms of Christianity or the Bible and on being able to prolifically quote scriptures.

While the above is important and we should strive to have ready answers when doors of influence open for us, I believe that some other characteristics of faith are far more important.

And these are characteristics that we can ALL strive to master, regardless of our intellectual or verbal capabilities.

In fact, if we don’t get the list below right, our scripture-quoting will actually harm the Kingdom, not help it. Especially among other believers.

“Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” (I Timothy 4:12)

The Apostle Paul knew that the young preacher Timothy was in a position of much influence with a number of congregations. He also knew that Satan would do all he could to trip up this bright, young servant of God so that a thriving ministry would be wounded and perhaps even corroded by carnality.

That’s why they Holy Spirit directed Paul to write these words.

This call to holiness is timeless and applies to us as well.

Being a faithful believer isn’t a matter of being a genius. Instead, it’s a matter of being surrendered to pleasing the Lord, to seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, trusting that God will take care of us as we do so.

Are other believers hearing me say only the things that build up others?

Are other believers seeing me intentionally trying to imitate Christ with my attitude?

Are other believers seeing me love unconditionally and generously?

Are other believers seeing me stay on a faith path even when it courses through dark valleys, storms and raging rivers?

Are other believers seeing me jealously protect my testimony and moral integrity by not embracing devilish desires of the eyes and hands?

Go ahead. Gladly wear the “Mr. Clean” label at work or school. Be known as the prude who talks about Jesus AND who walks through life like Jesus.

People are watching. Especially new believers who are trying to figure out how to do this Christian life thing.

As always, I love you
Martin

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At His core, our God is a Father.

Yes, He’s holy.

Yes, He’s powerful.

And, yes, He’s all-knowing.

But these characteristics flow from who He is, not the reverse.

He is not a Father because of these characteristics.

Because He is our Abba God, we can have great assurance that all of His characteristics are pointed toward helping His children to have more spiritual, more satisfying lives.

He really does love us.

Deeply.

With a patient, gracious love.

To think that God knows all of our dirty laundry of the past — and perhaps the present — and yet He still loves us is a compelling thought.

A holy, powerful Father who loves an unholy, weak child is the picture of grace.

It’s a picture of my relationship with the Father.

It’s perhaps your faith picture, too.

I was reminded of God’s amazingly gracious nature when I read this morning from Jeremiah 31.

Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?” says the Lord.

“I often have to punish him, but I still love him. That’s why I long for him and surely will have mercy on him.” (Jeremiah 31:20)

One can’t read the Old Testament accounts of Israel’s disgusting waywardness and not be repulsed by the choices of so many Hebrews. And yet, God the Father chose to show mercy by keeping His promise to David regarding a messianic descendant in the future raised up from among the Hebrews.

If your life is anything like mine, you know the times that you’ve been disciplined by the Lord because of poor choices or attitudes. You’ve discerned that the Lord saw you as His darling child even though your actions — at least for a moment — treated Him like dirt.

To think that the Lord “longs” for us and desires to show mercy toward us… now that’s a stirring thought.

This, of course, is how we should feel toward the children in our lives, children who mess up now and then and need corrective intercession by parents or grandparents or guardians or whomever.

Listen, my friends. We are dearly loved by God. He longs for us. And when we need it, He will surely have mercy on us.

Let’s do the same for others.

It’s what Christians are to do.

Because that’s what their Father in heaven does.

As always, I love you
Martin

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There are several views among Christians regarding what happens to the soul when a person dies.

Some believe the soul immediately enters the final, glorious heaven where Jehovah sits on the throne.

Some believe the soul immediately enters a “green room” setting known as Paradise where the Lord’s presence and only perfection and peace abide, yet the final heaven will not be gained until Christ’s second coming.

Some believe the soul enters a spiritual state of suspended animation — almost like a holy hibernation — perhaps even lingering in or near the dust of a decayed body. When the trumpet blast comes from heaven and Jesus rides in on a white stallion, the souls will be raised from hibernation and float off into heaven.

Of course, there are variations within each of these general views.

The Bible doesn’t offer a detailed, step-by-step sequence of the ethereal journey from death to dancing in heaven, although there are a number of passages that give us a plausible path to anticipate.

You can ask your pastor to talk with you about these things.

This morning, I don’t want to pontificate on what I believe the official path is for getting from here to there.

I simply want to celebrate that anybody who gets to heaven is gonna love it and that we should do all we can to make sure that God sees us as Christians.

Why?

Because I want you and I to share in the promise of I Thessalonians 4:17.

Then we will be with the Lord forever.”

Yes, we have some really good moments in this life.

And we have a lot of acceptable moments in this life.

Unfortunately, we also have a number of difficult moments in this life.

The former provide a faint glimpse of why it’s so important to have a relationship with Christ in order to avoid a difficult “forever.”

Read I Thessalonians 4 and you’ll receive part of the information you’ll need to understand what happens to the soul at physical death.

But, more than anything else, cling to the promise of verse 17.

That’s what I want. I pray that you want the same.

As always, I love you
Martin

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A parent’s responsibilities include teaching his or her child how to be a person of character whose values influence others toward what is right.

What a parent doesn’t want to see is his or her child being eroded in character because values are being influenced toward what is wrong.

I’m a blessed father because my kids have done more influencing of others than the other way around.

They haven’t been perfect.

But I haven’t, either.

That’s why we all need God’s grace and Christ’s example.

I was stirred this morning when I encountered this verse in my daily Bible reading:

“You must influence them; do not let them influence you!” (Jeremiah 15:19)

The prophet Jeremiah lived in a very troubled time in Hebrew history, about six centuries before Christ.

The storms of horrific destruction were brewing and would soon be launched upon Jerusalem and the southern Hebrew kingdom of Judah.

It was going to be a season of death and despair unlike the world had ever seen…. all because the people who wore God’s name had –despite multiple times of forgiveness from heaven — treated their Creator and His word as if they were filthy rags.

The religious leaders in Jerusalem were totally corrupt in every sense.

God had seen that there was no changing their hearts.

He needed to start over with His nation and, other than for a small remnant of believers who would survive the Babylonian exile, a destroying flood of carnage was about to cleanse the land of unrepentant idolatry.

In the years before the flood arrived in the form of the Babylonian army, God still reached out to those who might listen and he chose Jeremiah to be His voice.

God knew that He was giving Jeremiah a tough job and that frustration and failure would tempt him to quit.

That’s why it was so important for Jeremiah to remember which way the winds of influence should always blow — from God, through him and out to those who needed to hear of the better way.

I’m reminded of how the ventilation systems are designed for many “clean” rooms are in manufacturing or medical facilities. There’s always a positive air pressure, meaning that if you open the door, air blows out of the clean room rather than is sucked in.

The reason is obvious — don’t let corrupted air in that will damage or destroy the efforts occurring inside.

And so it is with our faith.

Let’s seek intimacy with God, instruction from His Word and inspiration from His Holy Spirit. The breeze of faith that more easily flows from heaven through us will keep our hearts clean.

We’ll influence others rather than allowing them to influence us.

As always, I love you
Martin

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