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Archive for March, 2014

When we’re sad, it’s so comforting to know that somebody cares about us.

Particularly when he or she understands what we’re facing.

That’s why it is so important for Christians to demonstrate intercessory compassion to others who are hurting.

That initiative to comfort another speaks volumes about the goodness of our hearts.

And that often leads to open doors for planting seeds of the Gospel.

God is the ultimate Comforter. Here’s how David described Him in Psalm 56:8 —

You keep track of all my sorrows.

You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.

You have recorded each one in Your book.

Wow.

God knows my burdens, my wounds, my disappointments, my broken heart.

He’s noticed every tear and what prompted it.

God wouldn’t have done this if He didn’t love me.

But He does.

And He’s prepared for me a life in heaven that will forever replace tears of sorrow with tears of joy.

I’m so glad that I have a Father like this. I pray that you’ll embrace Him, too, as your Father.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s tough to watch somebody you care about continue to make choices that harm themselves … and sometimes others.

The problem might involve booze or drugs or bitter hatred or porn or unrestrained spending or sexual immorality or even just a merry-go-round of failed, short-term relationships.

Sometimes, the choices are particularly harmful and can lead to steep costs such as financial, moral or physical bankruptcy.

You might even have someone you love who is in the midst of a painful, costly chapter now because of previous choices.

So what do you do?

Lecture them?

Look the other way?

Write them off and stop caring?

Beg them to stop?

Giving up on them is not a faithful option.

Giving them up to the Lord IS the faithful option.

While our words to them might vary based on their personality and our level of relationship with them, the words that will matter most are those spoken not to them but to the Lord.

When chronic sin has enchained a loved one’s life, only the power of the Lord break that chain.

That’s why our prayers are so important in the desired deliverance of a loved one from Satan’s grip.

Sadly, the consequences of that loved one’s sin are sometimes already taking hold by the time we learn of the problem.

What do we do?

What Aaron did in Numbers 16:43-50, that’s what.

We carry the burning incense of prayer to the Lord, standing between Him and the “dead,” the loved one in rebellion.

Click the link above and you’ll read of how Moses’ brother Aaron, the first high priest, grabbed the incense burner from the tabernacle and ran out to stand between the grumbling Hebrews and the cloud of the Lord’s presence that had covered the tabernacle.

You’ll recall that the smoke and aroma of the incense burners were visible representations of the prayers that God desired from His people.

By running and grabbing the incense burner, Aaron was clearly indicating the prayerful desire for God’s mercy to not give people the punishment they deserved.

God relented.

The full weight of consequences was withheld.

Thank God for Aaron’s intercession.

Please, my friend, pray fervently for your loved one caught in a lie of Satan.

He or she might still have to feel the bitter sting of some consequences, but your “standing between the living and the dead” just might persuade God to withhold the full measure of consequences they deserve.

We’d certainly want someone else to pray this for us if we were caught in Satan’s web of deception.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Reading the Book of Leviticus, one can’t miss the abundance of sacrifices that Old Testament Israel was called to complete at the tabernacle and later the temple in Jerusalem.

Millions of animals were sacrificed over the centuries, as was thousands of tons of bread and grains and who knows how many gallons of olive oil…

Yet, no Old Testament priest perhaps ever conducted ritual sacrifices as much as you and I are called to perform daily sacrifices.

Huh?

That’s right.

Check out these passages from Psalm 50 and you’ll see what I mean:

“Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on Me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give Me glory.” (vv. 14-15)

But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me. If you keep to My path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” (verse 23)

Every time we think or speak a sincere word of thanks to God, we are making a pleasing sacrifice to the Most High.

Giving thanks is something that truly honors God. If we link that praise with our walking the proper path of faith, God promises rescue from earthly trouble and eternal salvation for us.

My goodness…. each time I thank God for loving family members or for the blessing of health or for the opportunity to show kindness to others or for the privilege of ministry or for the provision of food and housing or for the merciful, atoning death of Christ or for whatever, I am “sacrificing” to God?

I want to have an even more sacrificial life.

It’s the least I can do for the One who did the most He could do for me.

Please start offering sacrifices of thankfulness throughout the day for all sorts of reasons.

God desires it.

More importantly, He deserves it.

And others might learn from it.

As always, I love you
Martin

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One of the most compelling and memorable lessons taught in the Bible can be attributed to an elderly, impoverished widow.

It’s the account recorded in Mark 12:41-44. Jesus was watching a bunch of religious fat cats making large offerings at the temple. Jesus didn’t comment immediately about their gifts, though.

Instead, He saw the poor widow put all of her monetary wealth — two small coins — into the collection box and then He was prompted to speak.

“Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, “I tell you the truth this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

Listen, one of the signs of spiritual growth is the willingness to give generously to the Lord’s work. Jesus taught in Matthew 23 that believers should tithe — give at least 10 percent of their gross income. But what this widow demonstrated was not a 10 percent gift, but instead a 100 percent gift.

What amazing faith!

Though this “all she had gift” is not to be seen as the minimum standard for faithful giving, it still serves as an excellent example for us of proper motives.

I have not yet demonstrated the faith of this widow.

I have need for more spiritual growth in my trust of God to sustain me as I continue growing in giving beyond the tithe.

Perhaps you do, too.

Please learn from Professor Pauper, the widow of Mark 12.

Her instruction is sure and already confirmed as pleasing Christ.

Give more generously.

God will sustain you just as He surely blessed this widow in the days after her faith-filled donation.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s certainly comprehensive in terms of our desired behavior, but Mark 12:30-31 is simple in explaining what God expects from us.

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”

These words of Jesus can be eminently useful in helping us to imitate Christ throughout the day as we exhibit godly behavior in the eyes of those around us.

So many times, we’re initially not sure which choice to make with a job search or a major financial outlay or with a decision to spend more time with someone who might or might not eventually reciprocate with caring fellowship.

The checklist above can help us to make better decisions.

So when considering our decisions, let’s apply the following decision filters:

  • Does the choice I’m considering reflect the desire to honor God in my heart?
  • Does the choice prompt any sense of mixed agendas for my soul?
  • Do I find myself rationalizing any thoughts or possible actions that Jesus wouldn’t do or wouldn’t approve?
  • Am I willing to exert myself physically to the same extent that I put out the effort to go shopping or engage in some sporting activity?
  • Do I find myself thinking first “What has that person done for me?” before making plans to show kindness to another?

As we encounter decisions that aren’t automatic, let’s rely on Mark 12:30-31 to guide us.

Everybody will win as a result.

As always, I love you
Martin

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