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Archive for the ‘Christ's glory’ Category

I like that there are 12 words in a potent passage I read this morning.

Twelve is a biblical number representing completion and this verse is the epitome of completion.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)

Jesus existed before Creation. He is more important than Creation. And the physical forces that bind Creation together were crafted by Him according to the purposes conceived by God.

This verse doesn’t speak only to the physical, though.

Everything spiritual in the believer’s life is to be the outgrowth of Jesus’ place in that redeemed person’s life.

He is to be more important than earthly possessions.

He is to be more important than earthly positions.

He is to be more important than earthly passions.

He is to be the One we consult before we make decisions.

He is to be the One we consult — either by prayer or by reflection on His example, or both — before we say or do something that reflects on our relationship with Him.

This is how we keep Him before all things.

This is how He will hold our lives together until we stand before Him.

As always, I love you
Martin

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The longer I live, the more I long to be as Christ.

Not just with my thoughts and values, but also with my form of being.

The fact that aches and pains will be increasing as my age increases is not joy-producing.

Yet, the promise that a time is coming when aches and pains will end is absolutely joy-producing.

When Jesus comes back, I’m going to have a glorified, resurrected body that I can’t describe in detail now because I don’t know just what it’s going to be like.

I’m also going to have a sinless, painless, frustration-less life of glory, just like Jesus has now as He’s awaiting His Father’s word to “Go!”

“But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure.” (I John 3:2-3).

Because of my future hope in Christ, I’m to do all that I can to protect my spiritual integrity. As I purify myself from tripping over worldly traps, I imitate His purity and reinforce my hope.

Live like Jesus did.

Love like Jesus did.

Look forward to heaven like Jesus did.

Someday, you’ll be lifted to heaven, just like Jesus was.

This is my hope, too.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I’ve missed you.

During the past week of activity on and near the Oregon coastline, I didn’t have opportunity to prepare the weekday Morning Devotions and the absence of expression left a distinct void within me.

I’m glad to be back in the saddle.

Because our return flight bordered on red-eye status — we hit the bed at 2:47 a.m. — this will be a somewhat abbreviated devotion.

Thank God that its content is packed with potency attributable to the richness of God’s Word.

It’s so easy to become entrapped by declining self-confidence when we see others who are better than us at certain jobs, at staying fit, at making and managing money, at personal grooming or at forming satisfying relationships.

And when we make poor choices regarding spirituality, our view of self can take an even bigger hit.

That’s why passages like this one from today’s One-Year Bible reading can do SO much to help us regain confidence and strength.

“If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” (I John 1:7-8).

Listen, I should try my best at all times to be a good family member, a good provider, a good neighbor, a good citizen and the list of expected competencies goes on and on.

I know that I’m going to fail at times, however, and allow my feet or hands or thoughts slip into the shadows. I’m grateful that the promise and grace of God gives me a safe harbor to speed toward when I’m in the self-induced storms of personal error.

I just have to remember to set sail toward the Lighthouse.

For that’s where I’ll find the calming, cleansing peace that I need when I’m tired and when I’ve been in the wrong.

Please keep the Lighthouse in view, my friend. That way, we’ll enjoy the journey to safe harbor together.

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click  Overwhelmed

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For the queen of Sheba to have been overwhelmed, Solomon’s wisdom and wealth must have been beyond comprehension.

In 2 Chronicles 9, the story is given of the queen’s visit to Solomon. She and a large entourage came to Jerusalem because she wanted to see if the fantastic reports about Israel’s ruler and the city’s opulence were true.

She saw that the reports paled in comparison to reality.

“When the queen of Sheba realized how wise Solomon was, and when she saw the palace he had built, she was overwhelmed. She was also amazed at the food on his tables, the organization of his officials and their splendid clothing, the cup-bearers and their robes, and the burnt offerings Solomon made at the Temple of the Lord… ‘I didn’t believe what was said until I arrived here and saw it with my own eyes.'” (Vv. 3-5).

The blessings pouring into her mind and soul didn’t stop with the visual and mental feasts. Though the queen had brought $144 million of gold and large numbers of precious jewels as gifts of admiration, she actually left with gifts of greater value than those she had given the king.

“King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba whatever she asked for—gifts of greater value than the gifts she had given him. Then she and all her attendants returned to their own land” (verse 12).

Now consider how amazing this account is. If the queen was in a position to give this kind of “Nice to meet you” gift to another nation’s leader, then she knew a lot about being rich.

And if she was willing to go through such an elaborate, extended journey just to learn and observe Solomon’s setting and thoughts, then she knew a lot about the place of wisdom.

For her to be overwhelmed greatly intrigues my mind.

And for her to leave with more than she brought greatly inspires my hopes.

This is such a cool story. I’ll build a sermon based on the above, you can be sure.

The testimony of Bible and other believers can describe the unfathomably marvelous Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And such testimonies should flow from your life and mine into the lives of those who need the Divine Trio.

Yet, until a person decides to sincerely go the Father, Son and Spirit himself or herself, there will be no sense of being overwhelmed.

For humans are not wired to be overwhelmed vicariously but instead personally.

Yes, she was informed by testimonies about the wisdom and wealth.

But she could only be transformed through a personal encounter and relationship with the king of Israel.

Please, my friend, learn from the queen of Sheba. Go to the King of the Universe with your heart full of expectation and appreciation.

Allow your time in the Word each day to be as the queen’s expectant trip to Solomon’s court.

Allow your gifts to the King — given as tithes to your congregation and as charity to others in need — to show the depth of your appreciation for what He does in your life.

Do these things and you’ll be overwhelmed with the wisdom of God and with the fact that He always gives more to you than you give to Him.

Even more overwhelmed you’ll be when you stand in God’s throneroom and you say, ‘I didn’t believe what was said until I arrived here and saw it with my own eyes.’

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click The acid test of spiritual integrity

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Jesus was a master of bold statements that were both absolutely clear and absolutely true.

Particularly when it came to defining who He was.

Luke 10:37 is such a statement.

This verse was more than a simple identification, however.

It was an declaration of accountability for Himself.

Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does.”

Wow.

Jesus was inviting the band of clergy-robed nitpickers known as the Pharisees and Saduccees to thoroughly check Him out as an imitator of God.

And then He told them — in effect — that they were off the hook in accepting Him if they could find any evidence that He had ever dropped the ball of faith.

That was incredibly gutsy.

It also demonstrated just how committed Christ was to imitating His Father.

Jesus, of course, did do those things that represented and imitated His Father.

You and I now have the opportunity for salvation because of Christ’s faithfulness.

I’m glad that Jesus was a flawless chip off the old block.

Make that a flawless, solid Rock off the eternal block.

As pleased as I was this morning with the knowledge that Jesus never failed to imitate His Father, I was also humbled by the knowledge that I haven’t been perfect.

The result? I can’t ask people to believe in Christianity just because I’ve always made the proper choices.

The fact is that I’ve messed up many times in one way or another.

So, then, how do I pursue the Great Commission of making disciples even though I sin now and then?

Here’s my idea — we do our best to imitate Christ in order to show our obvious need for a Savior.

As some people start noticing the increasing measure of godliness in our lives, we credit that change to the One who is our perfect role model, Jesus Christ.

For He never messed up.

That’s why we believe in Him and that’s why our unsaved family and friends need to believe in Him.

Listen, you and I will never be perfect on our own. We had that chance and blew it long ago in childhood.

We can still serve God in a powerful, perfected way, however, when we point people to Jesus.

We just have to apply the principle that Jesus applied to Himself and hope that people evaluating our lives will believe our testimony as we strive to love as Jesus did, pray as Jesus did, forgive as Jesus did, teach as Jesus did and so forth.

Hmmmm…..

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of reaching out to others and holding myself accountable with the following invitation to others — “Do not believe me unless you see me doing what Jesus did.”

Please let me know if you decide to use the same standard.

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click here

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With all the fame and fortune that Reba McEntire has gained, it’s easy to forget that she was once a no-name wannabe.

Back in the early 1980s, I saw Reba in concert in Gainesville, Florida. She only did six songs, however.

Why? Because she was the warm-up act for George Strait, who was the warm-up act for then-aging legend Conway Twitty.

Except for one song that had blasted to the top of the charts then — “How Blue” — relatively few people across the country had heard of Reba.

But that soon changed after her national tour alliance with Twitty put her in front of millions. Soon her unique, twangy voice was flooding the airwaves and buyers were flooding the record stores.

She was no longer a wannabe but instead the success so many others wanted to be.

As I read from John 3 this morning, I thought about Reba’s meteoric rise to fame and great wealth.

I thought about how exciting that must have been for her and for those who shared in the success.

And then I wondered if she would be just as excited if a close, male relative started a singing career and took most of her fans’ loyalty and dollars.

Would the words “He must become greater; I must become less” come from her mouth?

I don’t know. If pride were important to her, the last thing that she’d want to see is her loss of market share to a rival, particularly one from her extended family.

John 3 talks about somebody who not only was happy for a relative’s growing popularity, but who even was doing all that he could to help that relative to become MORE successful.

“He must become greater; I must become less” is what John the Baptist told his disciples when they complained about the growing ministry of John’s cousin, Jesus of Nazareth.

John had been Israel’s A-list country preacher for a couple of years perhaps when Jesus came to him to be baptized.

All sorts of big shots and little shots came to John in the riverside wilderness to hear sermons on repentance and forgiveness and to hear that they must be baptized if their sins were to be washed away. Many believed in God and had their sins washed away in the Jordan River (Mark 1:4).

And for perhaps more than a year after Jesus’ baptism, John had continued to draw crowds seeking peace with God.

But Christ’s ministry grew rapidly and John’s disciples could see their waning market share and pride kicked in.

They complained in John 3:26 that “everyone is going to him,” meaning Jesus Christ.

John told them that he — John — was never intended to be the bridegroom but instead the one who attends the bridegroom.

The joy is mine, and it is now complete,” John said of Christ’s #1 ranking among preachers/evangelists in Israel.

What a great example for us.

More of Jesus and less of us.

This is a powerful, guiding principle for all areas of our lives.

In our conversations with relatives, co-workers, friends, church members or wherever, the percentage of words crediting Christ for the good in our lives should be on the increase while the merit we claim based on our strength or brains or charm should be on the decrease.

In our thought time when nobody is around, the time spent thinking about how to build Christ’s Kingdom should be increasing while the time spent trying to build our own popularity and portfolios should be decreasing.

You get the point, I’m sure, so I’ll trust that you’ll pray for wisdom to give Jesus a larger slice of your thought pie, your speaking pie and your actions pie, your spending pie, etc..

Listen, the more that people see Jesus in your life, the more likely that you’ll begin see Jesus’ influence in their lives.

I absolutely believe this.

Why? Because I saw it in John’s life.

Thanks, John.

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, click Satan never gives up

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It’s one of the sad facts about high school.

We see the trouble caused by the teen who wants a certain person as a girlfriend or boyfriend but who does not get his or her way.

Most unrealized, heartthob hopes for teens eventually dissolve into renewed hopes for relationship with others.

That’s how it should be during the journey through the emotional minefield of adolescence.

Sometimes, though, a rejected teen listens to darker inner voices and turns to vindictive sabotage rather than a redirected search for a healthy relationship.

“If I can’t have a relationship with him (or her), then I’m going to make it to where nobody will want a relationship with him (or her),” the shunned teen thinks.

And so the lies and the gossip begin.

The mission has become twinning the battle for self-acceptance rather than to win the heart of the now-enemy.

It’s a terrible thing that I witnessed in high school. Perhaps you did, too.

Where is Satan in this process? He’s lurking in the shadows of the teen’s soul, providing a hidden, yet flowing fountain of poison, filling and re-filling the troubled teen’s squirt bottle of staining slime.

Satan knows very well what it’s like to desperately want something, to fail and then to focus on destroying the one who did not give him what he wanted.

That’s why he is so willing to assist those lured into his trap of doing the same on a person-to-person level.

So why I am writing about this today?

I want remind you and myself of how Satan never gives up in his effort to multiply his malice into the lives of mankind.

His primary purpose as he sees it is to destroy everything that is important to the One who kept him from getting what he wanted.

“If I can’t be the boss of heaven, then I’m going to make it to where nobody will believe it exists or they’ll not be willing to stand up to me until they get there,” the banished, corrupted worship leader thinks.

And so the fountain of lies and gossip and countless cues for sinning flow from him into the hearts of man as if it were Niagara Falls.

My heart was wounded this morning while reading from Mark 15. In vv. 30, 32 and 36, the enemies of Christ repeated their veiled desire for Jesus to forfeit His place as the crucified Messiah.

  • Come down from the cross and save yourself” – verse 30.
  • “Let this Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe” – verse 32.
  • “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down” – verse 36.

Satan knew that he could never have the authority and intimacy with God that Jesus did, and so he pushed hard through the hinted lies of people to lure Jesus into destroying His own plan and perfection.

If Satan couldn’t have it, then he would do everything he could to make sure that nobody could have it.

Luke 23 contains three other torpedoes against man’s salvation in the form of taunting pleas from Jesus haters that He should save Himself by giving up the idea of dying on the cross.

I thank God that Jesus didn’t listen to those who were listening to Satan.

I have the hope of eternal life because I trust Jesus rather than Satan.

Yes, I have to be on my guard against the lure of sometimes-easier paths faced by those who don’t stand up for decency and dignity and godliness and Christ-based faith.

It’s so easy put down the cross we are to carry and to save ourself from earthly hassles.

Remember, though, who will be smiling if we do.

It won’t be Jesus, that’s for sure.

Please don’t let Satan has his way in your life. The more he hassles you because you’ve rejected him, the more value your faith will have in the eyes of the Lord who conquered him.

As always, I love you
Martin.

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