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Archive for February, 2015

The father’s efforts hadn’t solved the problem.

The local physician’s efforts failed.

The town rabbi’s efforts didn’t succeed.

Perhaps even a temple priest living in the area had tried but his efforts produced no result.

And then these apostles of Jesus Christ stepped to the plate and took a swing at it.

Nothing.

What a string of failures.

Then Jesus showed up.

The boy possessed by a demon was soon set free from that terrible tormenter by the divine Deliverer.

“Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.” (Mark 9:27)

Frustrated by their inability to heal the boy, the apostles asked why couldn’t they do the miracle. Here’s what Jesus told them:

This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”

We all face obstacles for which our efforts and others’ efforts to help have not succeeded.

Some of you are greatly struggling financially. Others of you are hurting much in your relationship lives. Perhaps you’re among those whose bodies are not responding to medical treatment in the desired way and you’re discouraged.

I am facing some tough challenges in ministry and some personal business matters. And I would be foolish to rely only on myself in dealing with these.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not smart enough or strong enough or wealthy enough or tough enough or spiritual enough to slay these foes on my own.

I need to pray.

More.

For apart from prayer, apart from God, I can do nothing.

The father in Mark 9 was 0 for 5 in getting help, that is until he pleaded for Jesus’ help.

Let’s let His experience give us the needed reminder that prayer is the key to unlocking the intercessory power of God.

Whatever your tough challenge is, PRAY.

And please share this advice with others.

It’s the only path to resolution.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I rarely do this, but today it seems the right thing to do.

I am including a longer-than-normal passage within the text of the Morning Devotion.

You see, we too often say we believe in Jesus but fall short of truly trusting Jesus.

Oh yeah, we sing the words of Matthew 6:33 regarding seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness but then we slip up sometimes and act as if we don’t really believe that all the things we need for living will be added unto us.

We say that we support the work of ministry but is our tithing (10 percent of gross income) contingent upon when our finances are flowing smoothly? Is our volunteering time contingent upon if we have no disruptions in the other areas of our lives?

Is our treating people with kindness, dignity and generosity based on our being treated the same?

We all know that life has problems. Sometimes our problems are the result of other people’s failures.

We don’t best face life with faith if we’re pointing fingers.

It’s much better to point our hearts and hopes toward Jesus.

Believers arguing over who failed doesn’t please Christ, doesn’t encourage the flock and doesn’t build consensus on the best strategy for addressing the need.

He really will work things out for us in the best way if we just keep focusing on imitating His life and doing His will.

Here’s the passage from Mark 8 that stirred and steered my heart this morning. I pray that it does the same for you.

14 But the disciples had forgotten to bring any food. They had only one loaf of bread with them in the boat. 15 As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.”

16 At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread.

17 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? 18 ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear? Don’t you remember anything at all? 19 When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?”

“Twelve,” they said.

20 “And when I fed the 4,000 with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”

“Seven,” they said.

21 “Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them.

Jesus really is our answer when problems come. He has helped us countless times when nobody else could. We just need to trust Him to care for us as we commit to doing His will.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Here are five reasons to be kind.

And they’re certain in yielding benefits to both beneficiary and benefactor.

You see, God promised.

“Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor!

The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.

The Lord protects them and keeps them alive.

He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies.

The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.”

These words from Psalm 41:1-3 are wonderfully encouraging.

Five blessings for those who give blessings to those who struggle financially.

Let’s be kind to the poor.

It pleases our Abba Father who will be more inclined to help us during our times of need.

If you’re not sure how to begin showing this sort of kindness, ask your pastor for ideas or at least keep a bag of easily-eaten, preserved food in your car to give to a homeless person if you see one.

As always, I love you
Martin

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My computer just ate my original Morning Devotion effort for the day and I don’t have another 45 minutes to spend trying to re-create it just now. That’s why I want to share a Morning Devotion that I wrote nearly 10 years ago, one that appropriately describes the important of persistence when things aren’t going the way we’d like.


We all need the reminder from time to time of the truths contained in 2 Peter 1:5-8.

God is the One who provides the increase.

When the time is right, if we are patient, He will.

I heard of a missionary and his family who served in a place for nine years and saw one baptism. They didn’t give up, though, and more than 100 people were baptized the next year.

I’m reminded of the orange tree.

An orange tree really doesn’t start bearing productively for at least seven to eight years.

What if the tree were cut down at year 5 because it had just a few fruit in season?

All that might have been borne was instead burned because of impatience.

This is what missionaries must remember.

This is what missionary-supporting churches and individuals must remember.

Never forget that God uses changed lives as His tools for changing people.

He never relies on changed methodologies.

Change can be good, yes, but only as it allows changed lives to become more evident.

Want your church to grow? Let the characteristics of 2 Peter 1:5-8 grow within you.

Then people will be drawn to the power of God shining from your life rather than the power of well-intentioned, though imperfect human effort.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget the perseverance part.

As always, I love you
Martin

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If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you know the challenge.

You know that our human nature wants the flame of faith to burn out for lack of fuel, whether by not reading the Bible or by not praying or by not joining other believers in worship and study.

The danger of extinguished faith is SO great, however, that we simply must avoid it at all costs.

That’s why a passage in today’s devotional reading is so important. “Remember, the fire must be kept burning on the altar at all times. It must never go out.” (Leviticus 6:13)

The context of this verse involves the Old Testament temple sacrifices that were to be done in accordance with the worship rituals given Moses by God.

There is great detail in the instructions for how the sacrificial animals were to be prepared and consumed by the priests serving at the temple.

What struck me, though, is that the same requirement was in place for every type of animal sacrificed on the altar.

The fire was to never go out. The altar was ALWAYS to be ready for sacrifice. Because of the Israelites’ sinful nature, there would always be the need for God’s atonement of man’s sin.

Listen, please keep the fire of your faith burning.

Keep loving. Keep listening. Keep learning.

Keep looking into your heart to notice when sin has occurred and the need for forgiveness requires you to lay your offense on the altar of your trust in Christ as Savior.

God’s light of love never burns out for us. Let’s make sure that our light of faith never burns out for Him.

As always, I love you

Martin

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I was very much encouraged this morning by Proverbs 9:6.

“Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live; learn to use good judgment.”

What this verse tells me is that I can always improve my decision-making ability.

Like you, I make a lot of decisions each day and I want to become the best decision-maker possible.

What Solomon tells me in the verse is that I can learn to make better decisions.

Many of us suffer in some ways because we sometimes don’t make the best decisions when at the intersections of life choices.

We look in the rear view mirror and realize that we should have taken another path.

We can’t escape the regret but we can learn to be wiser when we approach the next intersection.

And that’s why reading the Bible daily is such a good idea. It is a book of decisions.

Many recorded there were good. Some were not.

We can learn from all of them.

Particularly those made by Jesus Christ.

He never made a bad decision.

That should prompt us to examine closely His decisions and learn from them.

We’ll be known for our good judgment as we do so.

While we’re in this season of learning called life, let’s also learn from mature believers who are known for making good decisions.

Let’s begin to live the life God intends for us.

As always, I love you

Martin

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Before any effort I undertake today, I need to seek wisdom for how to proceed.

Wisdom does not come naturally to us or we wouldn’t have to seek it.

It’s more than common sense.

Some choices are obvious in life such as making sure your car has enough gas or enough air in the tires before heading out of town.

But some choices are not so obvious. Do I stop to visit a shopping mall on the way to Grandma’s house for the night or do I stop on the way back?

Common sense might say it doesn’t matter since you’re going to stop at one time or another.

But wisdom says to stop on the way back so that precious time with feeble Grandma isn’t sacrificed due to spending several unplanned, extra hours sifting through all the sale racks at an unadvertised, 40% off sale in the mall’s stores.

Wisdom says we’ll always find deals in the future but we won’t always have time with Grandma.

It’s a principle of life that seeking wisdom before making choices is the best path.

For haven’t we all made choices that turned out to be the unwise ones because we didn’t seek the wisest course of action before we made our choice?

For the believer, there is the powerful, concise multi-tool for wise living that is found in Matthew 6:33 —

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things (necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, income) will be given unto you.”

Even God established the place of wisdom before He did anything else in Creation.

For through His wisdom, Creation was formed.

“The Lord formed me from the beginning, before he created anything else.” (Proverbs 8:22)

If God thought that wisdom needed to be in place before the crafting of Creation, shouldn’t we make every effort to have God’s wisdom via scripture and prayer-seeking guidance of the Holy Spirit before we make important decisions regarding family life, church life or work life?

I think so.

Whatever important decision you’re facing now at home or church or work, please take the time to seek God’s wisdom before making your choice.

Seek biblical principles and examples relating to your choice.

Seek advice from trusted, spiritually mature believers.

Pray.

Make no decision without the guidance of godly wisdom.

The regrets of not doing so are just too painful.

As always, I love you
Martin

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