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Wow.

An incredible picture of God’s power and grace was painted for me in the book of Numbers today.

Even more impressive was the picture of bold, loving, conviction-based leadership shown by Moses and his high priest brother Aaron.

I’m not going to explain the whole story but instead ask you to read Numbers 16:41-50.

The key verse is verse 48.

“He (Aaron) stood between the dead and the living, and the plague stopped.” (Numbers 16:48)

I will be preparing a sermon from this passage because it deeply moved me. The lessons for leadership in crisis situations or in the midst of straying church members are profound and desperately needed in our day.

But the lessons here apply to all believers who have family or friends who are gripped by a wandering, potentially divisive spirit.

Please commit yourself to intercession for others even if they’re not happy with you.

Somebody has to do it and if you don’t stand between death and life for their sake, perhaps nobody else in their lives will.

Why should you run to them with the message of God’s sacrifice wafting from our words?

Because Jesus hung between death and life for us, that’s why.

Please be Aaron to somebody today, my friend.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I wish I were excellent at everything I tried.

But I’m not even close to being the expert that I’d like to be at this or that.

I can do a few things reasonably well, but I’ve learned my limits over the years and that it’s better to lean on those who are better at certain things than am I.

That’s why I don’t attempt complex vehicle repairs. Or self-administered blood tests. Or our increasingly complex income tax return preparation.

And that’s also why I don’t attempt to play an instrument with our congregation’s worship team.

People gifted for such things should do them, not me.

I was reminded this morning of my limitations because of a brief reference in Exodus 35 regarding a man who seemingly was expert in a vast number of skills.

His name was Bezalel and he was in charge of the Old Testament tabernacle design and fabrication.

The Bible says this about Bezalel:

“He is a master at every craft.”

If you’ll read this passage — Exodus 35:30-36:38 — you’ll see the range of this man’s God-gifted skills.

Praise the Lord that He created and gifted such a person for something so important!

Clearly, you and I aren’t gifted in the same ways as Bezalel. But the fact remains that God has gifted us in some ways.

If you don’t know your gift or haven’t plugged into a role of volunteer ministry at church, talk with your elders or pastor about how to find your gift for service.

If you’re breathing, you have a gift for service.

We’re not going to be the site supervisor for creating the most glorious tent ever made. But if we help one person draw closer to the Lord through our humble, smiling volunteer ministry, then our gift from God has proven to be a great investment for glorifying Him and blessing us.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Morning Devotion: Tie this one on

One of the best things any parent can do is to teach his or her child to be loyal and kind.

As the child learns the importance of these qualities and puts them into practice, he or she will grow into an adult who never lacks friends and never lacks influence.

Why? Because the world will always be filled with people hungry for someone loyal and kind to them.

As we all know, we all have people in our circles of influence aren’t loyal to us and aren’t kind to us.

When we do find such people, though, it is precious to us and we want to maintain those relationships.

Please, be loyal and kind to others. Write these commitments on your heart.

It’s what God wants from us and it’s what others need from us.

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.” (Proverbs 3:3-4)

The more that we do this, the more we’ll influence people for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I’ll be out of town for a couple of days, so the Morning Devotion will resume on Wednesday. Please pray that my travel goes well. And I’ll pray that you have a blessed time of serving the Lord.

As always, I love you
Martin

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As teens, we couldn’t expect somebody else’s parents to feed us and house us and buy us clothing.

We couldn’t expect those other parents to pay our car insurance deductibles when we got into vehicle accidents.

And we certainly couldn’t expect those parents to forgive us when we did careless, sometimes rebellious acts that caused us problems at school or even with the law.

You see, those expectations applied to parents whose DNA flowed through our veins or whose names were on the legal documents they signed to declare us as their adopted or foster children.

We were part of them by blood or by public declaration.

That’s why they interceded for us, sometimes even at great personal cost.

They didn’t have to have us as their children.

They could have chosen options that would have prevented such.

But there we were. Beneficiaries of their choices to care.

I was reminded of this principle this morning during my devotional time in the Word.

Jesus didn’t have to show love to the apostles.

He chose to.

They didn’t have to serve Him.

They chose to.

At least, after Jesus explained why they needed to do so.

With one exception named Judas.

John 13 describes Jesus’ washing of the apostles’ feet.

They were surprised, of course, that the King of Israel would do Gentile slave work.

Peter resisted at first.

But then Jesus dropped a bombshell that still rings in resounding fashion.

“Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (John 13:8)

There are all sorts of theological applications to this verse, but I want to focus briefly on just one.

Our place in Christ’s family is a result of His washing us.

It’s that simple.

The specific context of John 13 involved the washing of feet. The meaning of Jesus’ words was spiritual, not physical.

Let’s make sure that we’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb, via our verbal and baptismal confessions.

Let’s make sure that our subsequent sins have been washed away by the blood via sincere repentance before God and apologies as needed to those we’ve offended.

Let’s make sure that selfish, shady habits that stain our testimonies are dissolved away by floods of Bible reading and prayer.

Life is so much better when we’re part of Christ’s family. Let’s make sure that we’ve been washed by Him in conversion and sanctification.

As always, I love you
Martin

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If I want to be considered a “Daddy,” then I need to be involved in my children’s lives rather than just be some guy who fathered them.

It’s the same, of course, for being a “Mommy” or “Grandpa.”

The fact is that the idea of “family” is measured by committed, nurturing relationships, not by DNA.

You and I know people who have blood relatives with whom they have no emotional or practical connection.

That’s not “family” in my book.

Jesus viewed family as something other than DNA patterns.

My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” (Luke 8:21)

You’ll recall the context of this verse as explained in other gospels is that Jesus’ mom and siblings wanted to take Jesus away from ministering because they thought He had become emotionally or mentally unstable.

He surely didn’t appreciate their confused meddling, but He refrained from criticizing them.

Instead, Jesus defined what “family” was to Him.

The question for you and me is this: Does Jesus see us as family?

Does He see us hearing God’s Word and putting it into practice with how we live, with how we speak, with how we pray, etc.?

Just before this segment in Luke 8, Jesus said that nobody lights a lamp and hides it under a basket.

Let your light shine today at work or at home or at school or in the neighbohood.

Forgive.

Encourage.

Donate generously.

Resist temptation.

It’s what family does for each other.

As always, I love you
Martin

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You perhaps recall those days in beginning chemistry class when the teacher handed out little strips of colored paper and told you to stick the tips in various liquids on the desk in front of you.

Depending on the liquid tested, the strip turned different colors. Those strips of litmus paper were short-cut indicators of how much acidity or alkalinity was in the liquids.

And so, many of us understand the phrase of “litmus test” to represent the process of defining the essence of something we’re examining.

A passage in today’s Bible reading contained a litmus test principle cited by Jesus. He was speaking to the often-judgmental/hypocritical Pharisees who complained that He was reaching out to sinners shunned by the religious establishment.

“On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13).

On the surface, Jesus’ words are a bit confusing. Doesn’t our making of a sacrifice please the Lord?

Of course, it does.

But not to the exception of merciful attitudes and treatment toward others.

What does it say to God and to others if we write a big check toward the church budget but then we don’t even give the time of day to the lonely, hurting person who isn’t on our self-perceived social status level?

Pride is bad, my friends. Really bad.

If we’ll give money but we won’t give kind, caring, involved attention to those who need help — even in our own families and congregations — then what are Jesus’ words saying about our level of obedience to Him?

Please remember that being “cool” with God involves more than a tithe check, even though that’s very important to showing your trust in God and support for Gospel ministry. God calls for ALL of our hearts and that includes helping those who are having a tough time in life.

Hmmm… Jesus had it all and yet He went to people who were spiritually sick…. as in you and me.

Let’s imitate Him. Let’s do a better job of showing mercy, not just sacrifice.

As always, I love you
Martin

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