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Archive for October, 2014

I didn’t quite understand what the big deal was when my kids were little, but there was this complaint I sometimes heard from the girls and their friends during their elementary school years — “They copied!”

Apparently, if a kid at school were popular, other kids would try to piggyback on that popularity by imitating the words and behavior of the popular kid.

And, apparently, the kids being copied believed that their way of living was like a copyright protected brand that others had no right to imitate.

Hmmmm…. funny how peer pressure and the desire to be unique are in such dynamic tension.

When it comes to Christian living, we’re commanded to “copy.”

Jesus said we should live as He lived. The Apostle Paul called us to live out our faith as he sought to imitate Christ in his life.

There’s no question that we’ll be better off if we live more like Jesus instead of giving in more to our own passions and personal patterns.

Here’s a passage from today’s devotional reading that we should all strive to copy:

“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” (Psalm 103:8)

Compassionate and merciful.

Slow to get angry.

Filled with unfailing love.

These words from Psalm 103:8 should describe our way of living.

We should become sanctified copycats.

Would this approach help our family relationships? Yes.

Our workplace relationships? Yes.

Our congregational or our neighborhood relationships? Yes and yes.

Let’s copy.

It’s what God wants.

As always, I love you
Martin

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No believer should add fuel to the fires of gossip at work or home or school or at church.

Gossip is so clearly opposed to God’s will and fuels division, not unity.

Of course, you already know this so why am I bringing it up again?

Because God keeps bringing it up in the teachings of scripture.

Apparently, gossip is a recurring flaw of human nature and we have a recurring need to be reminded of how disgusted God is with such behavior.

We’ve all been sliced and diced by gossip and we know how it stings to learn others are trashing us.

Sadly, we’ve all sinned somewhere along the way and joined in the slicing and dicing of another.

I thank God that we have a merciful Abba Father willing to forgive us.

And I thank God that He gives us repeated opportunities to forgive those who gossip about us.

The best way to avoid the trap of gossip is to learn and remember scripture.

For it is that roadmap of faith that can keep us on the path of godliness when Satan is luring us down the detour of divisive comments.

Here’s a message from today’s devotional reading that we should share with others. Doing so just might reduce the amount of costly gossip circulating in your corner of the world, even that spewing from your own mouth.

“Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.” (Proverbs 26:20)

Life is more enjoyable when we’re not embroiled in quarrels. Let’s do all that we can to keep from “feeding the beast” of gossip.

God will be be pleased. And we’ll have more peace.

As always, I love you
Martin

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If you gave up a week’s vacation just so you could give detailed lessons to a relative wanting to learn sewing or carpentry or plumbing — but then the relative never did anything with the lessons learned — you’d probably be very disappointed and reluctant to help that relative again.

We know that we only have so much time in this life and we want to be the best stewards possible of that time.

I hope that none of us would ask someone to invest a large chunk of time into us and our spoken plans and then we don’t put their investment to use in our lives.

If you’ve ever been on the mentor side of this situation, you know the frustration of thinking you could have better used the time somewhere else.

God wants us to be good stewards of the investment made into our lives by Jesus Christ.

God saved us so that we’ll become more like Jesus, doing good deeds and bringing glory to the Father in heaven.

Ephesians 2:10 says we are saved in order to do good works. Colossians 3:17 says that all of our efforts should be pointed toward bringing glory to God.

Here’s a description of our role model’s life, one we’re called to imitate.

“He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” (Titus 2:14)

Jesus did SO much for us.

Let’s not squander His investment into our lives and into our eternity.

He cleansed us.

He put His name upon us.

Let’s be totally committed to doing good deeds.

It’s what responsible relatives do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s so easy to get tangled up in multiple messes of everyday life to the point of distraction from God stuff.

It happens to us all.

Health woes.

Money woes.

Job woes.

Family conflict woes.

Car woes.

Personal morality — or immorality — woes.

Real estate or house repair woes.

The list goes on and on.

So often there are more woes than hours to resolve them, it seems.

So how are we to remain faithful with respect to the teaching of 2 Timothy 2:4?

Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.”

Do the things of God first, that’s how.

Keep up with your daily prayer and Bible reading time.

Welcome any opportunity the Lord gives you for encouraging others and praying with them, particularly your family members.

Talk with others about the blessings that God has sent into your life and how He does the same for all who embrace Him.

Attend worship gatherings and home Bible study group meetings.

Tithe without fail.

Obey your Commanding Officer on high without making excuses as to why you’re not available for serving in the Lord’s Army.

Yes, we all have to manage our housing needs, our food needs, our transportation needs, job needs, family needs, etc..

In fact, if we don’t provide for our families, we’re worse than unbelievers, Paul wrote.

But providing a godly spiritual example is the greatest need they have from us. So let’s please the Commander of the Lord’s Army, Jesus Christ.

Let’s do what we need to do for the Lord and then we can do some of what we want to do for ourselves.

That way, we won’t get tangled up in cords that can drag us down rather than lift us up.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Everybody needs an Onesiphorus in his or her life.

Someone who is a friend through the toughest of times.

The Apostle Paul had a friend like this and it made a big difference in his life.

You know, of course, the very difficult times that Paul faced because of persecution against his faith.

Onesiphorus loved Paul, loved God and did all he could to serve both via an undying friendship.

This display of loyalty must have done wonders for Paul’s need of encouragement.

Here are Paul’s words to describe the value of the friendship with Onesiphorus:

May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains. When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me. May the Lord show him special kindness on the day of Christ’s return. And you know very well how helpful he was in Ephesus.” (2 Timothy 1:16-18)

Pray that God send a friend like Onesiphorus into your life so that you’ll be more encouraged in your service to God.

More importantly, pray that God transform you into a friend like Onesiphorus so that you might provide the depth of devotion and love for someone who is pouring his or her life into serving the Lord in the midst of difficult obstacles.

Perhaps you’ll be an Onesiphorus for a missionary serving overseas, sending repeated letters and gifts of encouragement as you build an ever-strengthening friendship.

Perhaps you’ll be an Onesiphorus for a Christian co-worker who is catching all sorts of grief because he or she won’t compromise morally or ethically as are other employees of the company.

Perhaps you’ll be an Onesiphorus for your pastor who is facing hassles because of his leadership efforts to change the culture of apathy within your congregation.

Be the friend that others need. Be an Onesiphorus.

In doing so, you’ll be “God with skin on” for one serving the Lord.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Sometimes we humans are tricked by our human nature into seeing ungodly choices as if they were hidden eggs in a childhood Easter egg hunt.

We’re not quite sure where the godless eggs of “Get ’em good” revenge tactics or unjust riches or illicit sex are hiding, but we’re sure racing sometimes to find them before somebody else does.

It’s really sad when you think about how often this happens, even among Christians.

This should not be, of course.

For any of us.

And yet, we’ve all fallen and come short of the glory of God.

The specific failure varies from person to person, but the fact of sin is universal.

And it has been since the Garden of Eden, other than for our sinless Savior Jesus Christ.

God loves people and He wants them to follow a better, spiritually brighter path.

That’s why He calls certain people into Christian leadership — to help others step onto and stay on that path.

To succeed in that mission of avoiding the “godless egg” hunts, the leaders are to set the example of what God desires.

And that’s why the Apostle Paul wrote the following words to his ministry apprentice Timothy.

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you.” (I Timothy 6:11-12)

The evil things to which Paul was referring included the chasing of riches, an unhealthy desire to debate over the definition of words and other foolish and harmful desires that “plunge” people into ruin and destruction.

Paul is not saying we have no need of income. He’s not saying we should ignore false teaching in the church. And he’s not saying it’s wrong to enjoy the privileges of married romance.

What he IS saying, instead, is to place the things of God listed above at the top of our priority list.

This is what people of God do as they are running away from those things that are such dangerous threats.

Yes, they are dangerous and can destroy us.

I would never walk up to a grizzly bear and ask to dance. If I saw one coming toward me, I’d run as fast as I could.

Listen, a grizzly is a teddy bear compared to Satan.

Let’s make sure we run from him and his schemes.

As always, I love you
Martin

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There are a number of clear, artesian springs in North Central Florida where millions of gallons of pristine water gushes from the Florida aquifer each day.

Many of these have been turned into tourist attractions by the state government with others serving as the magnets for private tourism operations.

They are stunning to behold since most inland bodies of water are murky because of suspended sediment or because of pollution.

If you’ve ever visited one of these springs — Silver Springs in Ocala, Florida is perhaps the most famous — you’ve been astounded by the clarity and perhaps have even dove in for a swim in what seems to be “liquid air.”

Now imagine the disgust you would feel if you saw a garbage truck backing up to the water’s edge and then you watched it dump 50,000 pounds of decaying, stinky refuse into the crystal clear spring.

You’d be calling 911 before the truck back-up alarm stopped beeping.

That’s horrible!” you’d shout as you tried to get the driver to stop what he was doing.

As the filth filled the spring, thoughts of drinking from it would disappear. Thoughts of enjoying a refreshing swim would cease.

You’d feel sad, actually, that what was created by God with such beauty had been corrupted by a human choice.

Now, consider this verse from my devotional reading this morning:

“If the godly give in to the wicked, it’s like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.” (Proverbs 25:26)

Please, my friends, don’t give in to the temptations Satan sends your way.

Don’t join in when others gossip.

Don’t think Happy Hour puts a smile on God’s face.

Don’t look at porn witht the same eyes that hope to see the Lord.

Don’t hold grudges in the same heart that has been saved by grace.

Jesus said that He came so that a fountain of Living Water could flow from all who accepted Him as Lord and Savior.

Let’s fill our lives with that which is clean so that whatever flows from our lives is clear and Christlike, refreshing all those in our lives.

As always, I love you
Martin

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