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Archive for May, 2014

It’s important that we think twice before ignoring the Holy Spirit’s warnings to us.

We all hear them from time to time when we’re being tempted by Satan.

We’re at the fork in the road, with the narrow, twisting path of holiness heading one direction and the seemingly smooth and straight superhighway of sinfulness heading the other.

Unfortunately, we all know what it’s like to have taken the wrong turn.

What seemed best to the flesh turned out to be the opposite.

This is what we must remember no many how many days we have in life.

For how we listen to the divine Navigator is a reflection of our relationship with the divine Ruler of the universe.

Jesus put is this way in John 8:47…

“Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

When God’s voice via the Holy Spirit seeks to guide us away from temptation, let’s make sure to listen.

For if we don’t, what are we saying about our relationship with God?

And that’s a very dangerous place to be in view of how our lives could end at any time.

Jesus asked in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me ‘Lord’ and not do what I say?

Let’s make sure that our words and our walk line up when we’re at home or work or school or church… or even on the highway.

Listening to God’s voice is what godly people do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Nothing is hidden from God.

His flashlight is on everything.

As kids, when the light was on and an adult was watching us, we behaved in school or at home or at church.

When we thought nobody was watching, however, sometimes we didn’t.

We’re all guilty of this, of course.

It’s so much better when we choose to behave as if in the light and in the sight of somebody bigger.

“Even Death and Destruction hold no secrets from the Lord.
How much more does he know the human heart!” (Proverbs 15:11)

Hopefully, you’re in the middle of the narrow path of Christlike living and don’t have secret behaviors you’re trying to hide from God.

Because you can’t.

Just as I can’t.

Let’s do all we can to be like Jesus.

His life was an open book.

And since heaven is granted only to those in the Lamb’s Book of Life, let’s do all we can to walk in a way that shows we are living for Him.

And when we do mess up, prompt repentance will get us back on the path that keeps us on the pages of that book. Romans 8:1-2 promise so.

As always, I love you
Martin

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King Saul of the Old Testament was a real mess.

In a way, one almost feels sorry for how tormented he felt, though it was of his own doing.

We don’t know all the “back story” of why this handsome, tall, sometimes-courageous man from a good family had borderline-schizophrenia issues.

We just know that he was the poster child for being emotionally and spiritually chaotic.

One of his worst periods — if not THE worst — is recorded in I Samuel 15.

It’s such a sad account of what could have been a tremendous time of celebration had Saul been the man God wanted and directed him to be.

I encourage you to read the chapter at this link so that you’ll see why God ended up rejecting Saul as Israel’s foundational king.

The takeaway point from the story is this: obeying God without editing His commands is far more important to displaying faith than is concocting a plan that appears faithful to people but really is rooted in selfishness.

Tithing — giving 10 percent of gross income — on Sundays when the offering plate is a wonderful display of obedience to Jesus’ command in Matthew 23:23 that Christians are to tithe.

But if we don’t link that tithing with obedience in terms of “go and sin no more,” there is little that separates us from the example of Saul.

Tithing does not wash out the soul stains from porn sessions on the computer.

Tithing does not undo the scars on a family member from coarse words said during an argument.

Tithing does not rebuild the relationship bridge with someone whose trust in us was destroyed because of failed integrity on our part.

And other generous gifts to God cannot appease our Father whose heart was broken by repeated ignoring of the Holy Spirit’s warnings against our Satan-pleasing choice to serve self.

To obey is better than sacrifice, God said.

Learn God’s Word.

Live God’s Word.

Share God’s Word.

Obedience will become more common in our lives as we do this.

Linked with sacrificial gifts, we can please God in ever-increasing measure this way.

After all, He clearly deserves the best we can do with giving AND obeying.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I am encouraged this morning by the words of a young man who lived more than 3,000 years ago.

His determination to do something bold to help his fellow Hebrews was impressive.

More than that, though, it was expressive of his faith in God.

We should all seek the same confidence in the Lord as displayed by Jonathan, the son of King Saul.

“Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”

These words of I Samuel 14:6 remove the flawed presumption of so many in ministry that you’ve got to have a large core group of dedicated church volunteers before you can impact the community where you live.

It’s all about the size of your heart and the size of your faith rather than the size of your team.

Yes, there’s no mistaking that having dozens or even hundreds of faithful servants can make it easier to make a big splash that douses large numbers of people with Living Water.

But the empowerment that really determines the influence of the splash — and not just the size — is from the Lord’s hand.

My friends, we are in a battle against spiritual darkness, against spiritual apathy of those in the churches, against spiritual despair in the hearts of people at our jobs, our schools, in our neighborhoods, in our churches and even in our own homes.

Without the promise of God’s help, we’re outgunned at every turn.

With God’s help, though, our Bible-guided efforts and Spirit-guided attitudes can combine to influence lives in direction and scale beyond what we otherwise would believe is possible.

Because of Jonathan’s faith, a massive army dedicated to destroying God’s people was itself decimated.

And as you read the story found at this link — “Never outgunned” — you’ll see how it was made possible because of God’s intervention.

I need to remember this story when discouragement seeks to move into my heart because of the challenges of ministry. Particularly when once-active volunteers become entangled in worldly pursuits and their pursuit of Kingdom growth is displaced at the top by pursuit of earthly endeavors.

We have battles to win, my friend. We have the Lord.

Rejoice for whatever team of warriors you have and press forward toward victory for God’s sake!

As always, I love you
Martin

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When we grow impatient with God’s timing and decide to act without His leading or blessing, it always — eventually — turns out badly.

This is true when we’re impatient in the desire for a spouse.

This is true when we’re impatient in the desire for a much nicer car or house.

This is true when we’re impatient in the desire for a new career or job opportunity.

This is true when we’re impatient in the desire for a church home that helps us to feel accepted and involved.

Is waiting fun?

Usually not.

What is less fun is what happens when we don’t.

Rebound relationships almost always struggle or fail.

Overextending ourselves financially in order to meet others’ expectations — or to feel better about ourselves — is never healthy.

Wanting a new career or new job or new church just so we can feel better about ourselves is a recipe for residual, resentful stress imposed upon ourselves.

The words of Isaiah 40:31 really are true:

“But those who wait on the Lord

Shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.” (NKJV)

And it could be added to that verse, “They shall sail and not fear sinking.”

What? Where did that idea come from?

Even the apostles, the men who were with Jesus 24/7, they struggled to remember the importance of waiting.

And when they failed, it was ugly.

Thank God for Jesus’ grace, though.

After Jesus fed the multitudes with five loaves and two fish, He decided to go by Himself onto a mountain to pray. His apostles went down to the Sea of Galilee’s shoreline to wait for Him before they sailed to the other side to continue ministry. You can follow the events by reading these words from John 6:16-21…

That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum. Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!”

It’s hard to believe that the apostles gave up waiting on Jesus and unilaterally decided to leave Him behind.

What were they thinking? What did they expect Jesus to think when He came back down to the shoreline and saw that the apostles had left Him without asking for permission or even to leave a Post-it note as to where they had headed?

It’s amazing when you think about it. But impatience and personal agenda and overconfidence prompts us to do some foolish things.

Such as thinking that we don’t need to wait on the Lord.

Jesus had every right to strongly chastize the apostles for abandoning Him. But Jesus is gracious once again and thought only of what was best for them at the moment and for their long-term understanding of who He was.

We’ve all found ourselves in relationship storms or financal storms or career storms because we foolishly didn’t wait on the Lord and because we thought we knew better and that faith was wasting our time.

Thank God that the mess we found ourselves in as a result was not worsened by a Lord who yelled at us, called us stupid and selfish and refused to help us get to where we wanted to be.

Let’s become better at waiting. Let’s remember that when God acts, it’s because the time is right in His perfect view, not our imperfect view.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Jesus said in Matthew 7:20 (KJV), “By their fruits, you shall know them.”

If we want to be seen as people who love God, then it’s vital that we’re seen as people who love Jesus.

Of course, we all know that talk is cheap.

That’s why our singing of “O How I Love Jesus” is to be matched by the spiritual integrity of living for Jesus a life that is true.

It doesn’t take a genius to remember and understand Jesus’ teachings from the Sermon on the Mount.

Love others ahead of ourselves.

Forgive always.

Do all we can to protect and help others rather than rejecting and harming others.

Flee temptation.

The list goes on.

If I claim to love God, I lay claim to a sanctified, Jesus-imitating life.

Here’s what Jesus said in John 5:23.

“Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent Him.”

Pretty clear, huh?

Let’s put a smile on God’s face by putting Jesus’ example into practice in our lives. It’s the best way to honor the One who died for us and who desires that our family and friends start living for Him.

Pure thoughts. Pure words. Pure deeds.

These honor Jesus.

And His Father.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s a 3,200-year-old picture that is just as compelling now as when it occurred.

A picture of a grandmother holding her grandchild close to her chest in a moment of overwhelming joy.

The sentiments in the heart of the grandmother cannot be adequately described by words.

She is SO happy.

SO grateful.

SO content.

SO comforted.

Her heart is being filled in ways that nothing else can do.

I love seeing grandmothers filled in this way.

It’s so beautiful.

Of course, grandfathers have the same feelings.

That timeless reality — something Lori and I are savoring in our lives just now — was described in lovely fashion in a verse I read this morning in the book of Ruth.

“Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own.” (Ruth 4:16).

Knowing the back story of this word picture is what magnifies its meaning.

Naomi had lost her husband.

She had lost both of her sons.

She had lost one of her daughters-in-law.

She was nearly destitute, having had to twice move to distant lands because of famine conditions.

But then God’s amazing grace was poured out in an amazing way — read Ruth 1-4 and you’ll see how.

And here is Naomi, holding the grandchild that she feared she’d never have.

Holding the child ONLY because of God’s incredible intercession.

The next time you see a grandmother holding her grandchild close to her chest, remember the story of Naomi and her grandson Obed.

You’ll appreciate God’s grace more as a result.

As always, I love you
Martin

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