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Archive for October, 2014

When a family member or dear friend is having a hard time, we typically find the time to pray for him or her.

Why? Because we love him or her, we want the situation to improve, we know that God has the ability to bring about changes and provide inner strength so desperately needed.

But what about when hard times are faced by people we barely know? By people we perhaps wish we didn’t know?

Intercessory prayer is not to be a matter of nurturing a buddy list.

It is, instead, to be a matter of seeking God’s intervention into the lives of those around us in order for them to experience better lives.

Even more, prayer is the opportunity for us to thank God for all the people in our lives, not just our family and friends.

This is not my invented philosophy. This is the command of God.

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (I Timothy 2:1)

The Apostle Paul had plenty of people who hated him and wanted him dead.

He had even more people who didn’t like him and didn’t care if anything good happened to him.

Yet, Paul prayed for God to help them all. He prayed that pagan government employees would sense God’s leading and do the right things to protect society.

I’m sure that he thanked God for the opportunity to display his faith in ways that helped others and glorified God.

And so should we.

Let’s make sure that everybody in our corner of the world — yes, even that person who doesn’t like us — is lifted up in positive, intercessory prayer. Let’s ask God to help them.

And even if we have to tell our prideful nature to “Cease, be still,” let’s give thanks for those who give us grief.

One other thing….

This isn’t to happen only when we feel like it.

This is to be job #1, Paul said.

Wow.

I’d better get to praying…..

As always, I love you
Martin

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So why does your Sunday School teacher teach?

Why does your home Bible study leader lead?

Why does your preacher preach?

In fact, why does anybody teach within the life of the church?

To make disciples, that’s why.

To aid believers’ growth from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity.

To lovingly help people become the agents of ministry that God saved them and shapes them to be.

I want to become more effective with teaching, leading, preaching, growing, loving.

According to the Apostle Paul, my effectiveness will increase as I increasingly possess and display a pure heart, a clear conscience and a genuine faith.

Here is Paul’s recipe for godly instruction that produces the loving believers that God desires and the world needs:

“The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.” (I Timothy 1:5)

I pray that you know several Christians who appear to possess pure hearts, clear consciences and genuine faith

For you will surely be blessed with their love.

Want to be more loving to the people in your life? To the point of overflowing?

Fill your mind with scripture. Fill your heart with prayer and praise. Fill your day with acts of love toward others.

You’ll be filling God’s heart with joy and you’ll be filling your heart with the blessing of knowing you’re a vessel of love to others.

You’ll also be showing Satan that there’s no room in your life for his garbage.

And that’s a very good thing.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Following the news reports from around the world can leave one discouraged.

Brutal wars, rampaging disease, pervasive corruption, dissolving moral values and disintegrating families… they’re all realities that drag our hearts down and can pull us under emotionally if we let them.

These are very difficult times. And that’s not even considering the burdensome personal struggles that many of us face.

It’s vital to remember, however, that 1st Century Christians typically faced much worse in their everyday lives as compared to you and me.

Yes, many Christians in other parts of the world are facing biblical-scale persecution. But even they are offered encouragement from the Apostle Paul who wrote the words below after he had already faced repeated persecution and had 16 more years of persecution awaiting him before his martyrdom.

These words should be woven into the fabric of our faith:

“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)

No matter how bad the news or how bad our circumstances, God is still on His throne.

His Word is still true.

His Spirit is still speaking to us.

His Son’s blood still cleanses sin.

Understanding these facts can spur us to express the love of God to people around us who are looking for love in all the wrong places.

God’s love endures.

So should ours.

Let’s love others the way that Christ loves us.

Sacrificially.

No matter how bad things get for us in this darkening world, we know that nothing evil can destroy the eternal joy that awaits in heaven for those who remain faithful

As always, I love you
Martin

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I am grateful for the uplifting words of 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.

I read them this morning during my devotional time and that was a very good thing.

For you see, I had read earlier in the morning from the book of Jeremiah about the ominous warnings that God had given to rebellious Hebrews listening to the egocentric teachings of the false prophets in the days before the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem.

It is disheartening to consider that so many people who should have lived surrendered, Spirit-led lives for God were instead obsessed with doing the exact opposite.

It actually sounds much like what is happening today in our world, including the portion of Jeremiah’s book that spoke of prophets saying what the people wanted to hear rather than calling them to repentance.

Listen, God doesn’t want people to suffer and that’s why He is not only a God who loves, but also a God who warns.

When we listen to His warnings in the Word or from the voice of His Holy Spirit calling us to godly living, life is SO much better for us, for those around us and for His Kingdom.

Never forget that we were created by and are to serve a marvelous Abba Father who loves to show mercy rather than punishment.

The next time you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit because of a poor choice you’re considering — or have already made — please remember the nature of God’s heart as illustrated in this passage:

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

Let’s remember all the good that God has done for mankind and for us individually.

Let’s remember the good that God has done through us on occasion.

And then let’s strive to do more good with our actions and words.

Our hearts will be comforted as a result.

As always, I love you
Martin

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King Solomon served me spiritual breakfast today.

My faith tummy is full of meat from Proverbs 25, a healthy portion that has four entrees for my soul.

Each of the four verses in Proverbs 25:11-14 is rich and relevant to our lives.

Aspire to see each one become evident in your life and you’ll be a better vessel of blessing for your corner of the world.

I certainly should appreciate these guidelines for better living.

  • “Timely advice is lovely, 
like golden apples in a silver basket.

  • “To one who listens, valid criticism
 is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry.

  • “Trustworthy messengers refresh like snow in summer. They revive the spirit of their employer.

  • “A person who promises a gift but doesn’t give it 
is like clouds and wind that bring no rain.”

When the Lord sends timely advice our way, let’s appreciate its nourishing value rather than resent someone for thinking we need help.

When truthful advice stings a bit, let’s view the discomfort as something that can prod us to make our lives more valuable and more beautiful.

When our employer can count on our integrity, it is a blessing that renews his or her zeal for the business, something that often leads to more blessing for all employees.

And when we remember to give anniversary gifts or birthday gifts or Christmas gifts or gifts pledged for other reasons, we bring refreshment to our relationships.

Let’s look for opportunities to wisely conduct ourselves with each of the above.

We’ll become more like the person God wants us to be and more people will experience His goodness flowing through us.

As always, I love you
Martin

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If you have a spiritual mentor who is still living, please consider sending him or her a note of thanks for the influence he or she has had in your life.

It will definitely make the day into a rich blessing for him or her.

After all, if you received a note of appreciation from someone you pointed toward the Lord many years ago, wouldn’t you rejoice and praise the Lord who used you?

I’m thinking now of a pastor who influenced me many years ago and who is in the final chapters of his earthly life. I need to send him a thank you note and tell him that I’m praying for him and his mentally fading bride.

It’s the right thing for me to do.

I pray that you’ll do the right thing for one who led you closer to the Lord and His purposes for your life.

What prompted this idea this morning?

Check out what the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonica, people he had led to the Lord and whom he had taught the Word of God.

“It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 3:8)

Paul was thrilled when he heard that some of his spiritual children were tight with God.

Your mentor will be thrilled and renewed, as well, when he or she hears that you’re tight with God.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Encouraging another church member is as easy as 1-2-3.

As in I Thessalonians 1:2-3.

If we’ll communicate the uplifting, purpose-focused words of this passage, I’m convinced that more of God’s power will flow through our lives with the Kingdom being strengthened as a result.

As you read the following, ask yourself how you would feel if you received a handwritten note with these words directed at you:

“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I’m going to write some encouragement notes today.

I hope to communicate the purposeful love that Paul communicated to Christians in Thessalonica.

Please do the same for some in your congregation or extended family.

The Kingdom will grow stronger as a result.

As always, I love you
Martin

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