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Archive for January, 2014

I read of an interesting math equation this morning.

5 + 2 = 12,000

Huh?

If you look at Matthew 14:13-21, you’ll see what I mean.

I’m talking about Jesus’ taking five loaves and two fish and then His supernaturally multiplying them to feed 5,000 men and perhaps 7,000 women and children.

The number actually could have easily been more than 12,000 when you think about family groupings that might have been on that Galilean hillside.

So how did Jesus do it? Did He have a constantly regrowing loaf of bread that instantly replaced any piece torn off? Did the salt-dried fishes keep regrowing heads and tails. hour after hour?

I have no idea.

Do I have to have a physical, scientific explanation of how such a regeneration could occur or I’m not going to believe it did?

No.

I don’t have a physical, scientific explanation for how Jesus could be buried after crucifixion and yet rise again and walk around for 40 days, sometimes even through walls.

Does that keep me from believing Jesus rose from the grave?

Of course not.

So back to the math equation….

I am glad that Matthew 14 told me about Jesus math.

I need to pray for more displays of Jesus math.

Displays such as the possibility of seven fervent Christians each inviting people to loving fellowship groups and to church services and, several years later, the seven becomes 70 that later becomes 700 and on and on.

When Jesus gets involved and His power flows freely, the progress is not linear but instead exponential.

That’s what happened in Matthew 14.

That’s what can happen in our lives. And our congregations.

The world might not understand how such a thing could happen.

We might not even understand how the Lord magnifies our efforts when we pray.

We can simply celebrate the fact that they do.

Let’s pray that we become faithful disciples whom God uses to multiply His Kingdom, one helped person at a time.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I love the simplicity of God’s plan for our having better lives.

It’s not based on how much brainpower we have.

It’s not based on how much muscle we have.

And it’s not based on how much name recognition we have.

God wouldn’t tie the measure of faith and fruitfulness to things of human attainment.

Instead, better lives — in God’s sight — accrue to those who accumulate wisdom.

Simply stated, gaining wisdom is the best thing we could ever do.

Proverbs 4:7 says, “Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!”

The wise person knows he or she never has enough wisdom.

And so he or she is always looking for more from the Word, from the Holy Spirit’s leading and from other believers who have learned some important nuggets of wisdom that can help others.

Sadly, many Christians don’t hunger and thirst after wisdom, but instead lean on their own understanding, hurting too many along the way with harsh words and hollow actions.

There is a better way. A wiser way.

There are many things that will demand our time today.

Let’s be good stewards for our wallet of time, spending the minutes carefully so that we gain more wisdom for meeting the challenges that we face.

Let’s make sure that we give ourselves quiet-time opportunities to hear God’s voice, to pray to God’s heart and to pursue that application of what we’ve heard.

The return on our investment will eventually be massive:

“If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honor you.” (Proverbs 4:8)

As always, I love you
Martin

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I saw the stark contrast between spiritual darkness and spiritual light this morning.

It’s so sad to think that some people can be so filled with envy and fear that they’ll embrace evil thinking and intent bent on destroying innocence.

Yet, it makes me so glad to know that people can choose a better way that embraces godly thinking and an intent to pour innocent love into the lives of others.

First, the dark moment.

Then He said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one! Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus.” (Matthew 12:13-14)

Jesus had compassion on a man with a crippled hand and healed him. But because the healing occurred on the sabbath — most likely during a worship service — the Pharisees went ballistic.

If Jesus kept doing this miracle stuff on the Sabbath in direct contradiction to the Pharisaic teaching, then everybody will start doing stuff on the Sabbath, the religious big shots surmised. And the Pharisees’ leverage of fear would weaken significantly.

This Jesus guy had to go, the Pharisees decided, because He was messing up the agenda of control and power upon which the Pharisees counted. It’s a pathetic picture of spiritual darkness.

Contrast that with the abundance of spiritual light found in Psalm 15, also part of today’s reading in the One-Year Bible.

“Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?

“Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?

“Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.

“Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends.

“Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts.

“Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.

“Such people will stand firm forever.”

Let’s be people of the light, wanting to do what’s right.

And whenever we’re tempted to resent Jesus because we’re convicted of thinking or doing wrong, let’s recall who gets to spend forever in the land of the living.

As always, I love you
Martin

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You probably know a number of people who are stressed out.

Their smiles — when they happen — seem forced.

Their cushion of grace toward others is razor-thin.

Their precision of effort at work or home or elsewhere is not what it once was.

It seems that the pressure to perform according to others’ or their own expectations has twisted them into knots.

Perhaps the above descriptions apply to you.

There’s a better way.

A way out of the above.

Christians are called to show people the better way.

It’s found in Matthew 11:28-30.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

A sense of worth that is based on pleasing the world will always be high-maintenance because the world is egocentric, wanting more from us than it gives.

A sense of worth that is based on pleasing the Lord will always be low-maintenance because the Lord is exocentric, giving us more than we give Him.

That fact draws me toward living for Christ. I want to become a servant for the King who came and died to make my steps easier in life, not harder.

I smile more naturally and more often because of being in Christ.

I have more grace toward others.

My efforts are more careful and effective.

That’s definitely a better way that others need to see so that they might want to pursue the same.

I pray that you’ll embrace the same.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s nice when you meet a real keeper.

I read this morning that whatever guy holds her tightly is going to be a happy man.

Embracing her is like embracing a tree of life.

And then I read that all her ways are satisfying.

Wow. This is interesting.

It gets even better for those who seek her out.

She’ll never lead her suitor down the wrong path, but only on delightful paths.

Hooking up with her will lead to honor and wealth and a long life.

No, I’m not writing about the top “catch” on a Christian internet dating site.

And I’m not talking about that Cinderalla-like gal who is always cute, industrious and never mouthy that too many men imagine is an unattainable fantasy within their circle of influence.

Want to learn more about who “she” is?

She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left. She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.”
(Proverbs 3:16-18)

I’m glad that wisdom is not gender-centered and that her benefits accrue to all according to their desire for God’s leading in their lives.

Happiness.

A regenerating, rooted life of fruitfulness.

Satisfying experiences over and over.

Delightful days headed in the right direction.

An honorable life.

An amply supplied life.

Who wouldn’t want these?

They can be ours.

As long as we hold tightly to the wisdom God offers us in His Word and through the leading of His Holy Spirit.

Let’s seek her out together.

As always, I love you
Martin

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A decade ago, The Jerry Springer Show was a popular TV program featuring dysfunctional people yelling and accusing and threatening and sometimes even physically attacking one another on the studio set.

Producers seemingly looked for the most bizarre toxic relationships that could be put on display in order to attract the most voyeurs of emotional disarray.

There are still shows on TV today with the same format.

It’s crazy and I hope you don’t patronize them.

If Jerry Springer would have been alive 3,800 years ago, he would have loved to have staged a market-square assembly of people to watch him interview a man named Jacob and his wives and his wives’ servants whom he impregnated.

Oh yeah, Jerry would also have wanted to have interviewed Jacob’s scheming father-in-law and his brothers-in-law.

It would have made for a real draw for observers, that’s for sure.

Genesis 30-31:16 provides a glimpse of this messed-up extended family. It’s not a pretty sight by any stretch.

But my advice that you read the passage is not based on it providing a role model for behavior. Instead, I’m wanting you to see that of which I was reminded this morning — God’s grace is amazing.

God was irreversibly committed to His promise to ultimately bless the entire world through Abraham’s offspring — including the eventual descendent who would become the Messiah.

That meant that God held to the promise even through the head-shaking, eyes-closed and breathing-deeply moments when Abraham’s descendants acted in ungodly ways.

It’s easy to look at Genesis 30 and disparage the behavior of Abraham’s grandson and those around him.

But before we start tossing rocks at the story’s characters, let’s remember that we live in glass houses.

We’ve all had The Jerry Springer Show moments somewhere along the way that gave emotional disarray voyeurs an eyeful and/or an earful.

Please join me in thanking God for His amazing grace that saved wretches like us, people who once were blind but now can see.

Pray for the people in your life still entrapped in toxic situations.

Encourage them to consider that path that can lead them from chaos into contentment.

God hasn’t given up on wanting peace for their souls.

And we can’t give up on praying for a softening of their hearts.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Some things about our Christian faith are really fulfilling and even thrilling.

These are what I call the “magnets of faith.”

But there are a few other things, however, that are far from being magnets.

They’re actually more like fender-bending guardrails.

They’re designed to keep us from driving off the cliff spiritually.

They’re not endearing.

But they are essential.

A segment in today’s devotional reading from the One-Year Bible explains why:

“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when He corrects you. For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)

I don’t know anybody who enjoys feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit about a poor choice of behavior or a carnal pattern of thought.

But when we consider that alternative — a life without the spiritual guardrail of spiritual conviction — we should rejoice that we feel guilt when we lie or lust or gossip or covet or steal or resent or whatever sin over which we stumble.

If God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t warn us.

And He certainly wouldn’t have sent Jesus to the cross as atonement for those times we wouldn’t listen.

We know for a fact that Satan doesn’t love us.

In fact, he hates us.

How do we know this?

Does he ever warn us of danger?

Has he ever tried to steer anybody you know away from the cliff?

Let’s thank God when our consciences are goaded by God.

It’s a powerful sign of His love.

As always, I love you
Martin

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