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Archive for the ‘endurance’ Category

Like you, I’m saddened by the erosion of Bible-based morality in our communities that is even seeping into some congregations.

But I’m far from discouraged by it.

You see, this just serves as a reminder of the opportunities we Christians have to shine as lighthouses toward a darkened ocean.

Do I like that increasing numbers of people don’t care what scripture says about godly marriage and gender-appropriate conduct? Am I glad that so many have decided that congregational involvement is not needed in their lives?

Certainly not.

But the clear and repeated story of the Bible is that society ebbs and flows in the spiritual realm.

Based on my reading of scripture, we’ve got quite a ways to go before the downward slope of our national relationship with God hits bottom.

We can pray that national revival occurs long before that.

And we can pray for wisdom to love and serve people in such a way that our faith will shine like a lighthouse to those who feel like ships tossed in a dark, storm sea.

As long as there is even one neighbor or co-worker or struggling relative to whom we can show the love of Christ, we should be encouraged.

The power of grace abides and as long as we have hope to share, it’s vital that we remain faithful to the end of our days.

Perhaps “the end of days” Jesus described in Matthew 24:12-13 will happen before the end of our days physically.

In any event, let’s both be vigilant in looking for ways to guide others into the safe harbor of God’s gracious love.

As always, I love you
Martin

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We’ve all done it.

We shouldn’t have.

But we did.

Thank God for His gracious decision to give us another chance.

I’m talking about not following through on commitments we made to volunteer at church or to tithe weekly or to keep forgiving that irritating co-worker or to maintain a daily devotional life.

The list of commitments that you’ve made to God over the years is far more comprehensive than the above, I’m sure.

It certainly is with me.

Let’s do our best to abide by Jesus’ command to always have the transmission of our lives in drive rather than reverse.

It’s about living for Him and doing what He wants and not putting our faith gear into reverse, slipping back into our old ways and old reasons for living.

“Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

Spring is a busy time in the church calendar. Let’s look for ways to volunteer and to give and to be vigilant to reject the temptations to skip out on our commitments.

We are profoundly grateful that Jesus didn’t pull His hands off the plow when He was working the field that was white unto harvest for Him. We’d have no eternal hope if He had not followed through.

There are people in our lives who need us to follow through with planting and watering of gospel seeds if they are to learn about the eternal hope we’ve already found.

Plow on, my friend. Break up the fallow soil of your worker or neighbor or relative as you love and plant and shine.

After all, our King died for His subjects.

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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Nobody likes going through hard times.

Losing your job stinks.

Losing a cherished relationship stinks.

Losing a physical capability — even temporarily — stinks.

Gaining a chronic illness stinks.

Gaining an abrasive, morally insensitive co-worker stinks, particularly when his or her desk is adjacent to yours.

The list could go on, of course.

But in each stinky situation there is the opportunity for a sticky lesson.

And that’s why God allows stinky situations to enter our lives.

He has a purpose for the stink because He has a lesson that needs to stick.

It’s not that He hasn’t tried to teach us lessons without the stink.

It’s just that too many times we haven’t listened.

If we always sought Him and His will with every breath, every thought and every action, we wouldn’t need refinement.

But we haven’t.

And so we do.

Need the refinement, that is.

As impure ore needs the fire.

In the midst of pain or frustration — or both — look for the opportunity to trust God more and serve others more.

You just might end up doing some very important things that can impact others’ lives in a marvelous way.

Check out today’s Old Testament section in the reading for the day from the One-Year Bible. You’ll read of how a really stinky experience for a guy named Joseph actually became an incredibly sticky lesson that God used to preserve the promise that the Messiah would eventually come from the line of Abraham.

It’s an amazing story of how a rotten, evil choice of others ultimately led to a redemptive, godly rescue of others.

All because of a faith-based commitment to honoring God even in the midst of horrible circumstances.

None of the parties involved in the story forgot the lessons, I’m sure.

Let’s do our best to look for sticky lessons even in the midst of stinky circumstances.

It’s the godly thing to do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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They had lost their homes, their jobs and many of their family and friends. And they had been forced to leave their beloved Jerusalem.

In fact, one of their beloved leaders had been murdered and countless numbers of people they loved had been thrown into prison.

All because of loving and living for a man who had taught them to love all people.

It wasn’t fair.

But it was a time of great faithfulness.

The beginning of Acts 8 describes the tsunami of persecution that came against Christians after the martyrdom of Stephen.

Hell was unleashed in a sense upon Christians in and around Jerusalem, the birthplace of Christianity.

Yet, what Satan intended for extinguishing the flames of faith instead spread them to a much wider audience.

The hard times actually served the purposes of the Great Commission.

Check out these words from Acts 8:4.

But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.”

I don’t wish hard times on anybody. I certainly don’t go looking for them.

They happen, though, and it’s important that we look within them for opportunities to spread our faith, whether it be to the person seated in the Career Center next to us who is also looking for a job or it is the discouraged looking man in the surgery waiting room two seats down from us who could really use a prayer for his wife who is in surgery as is ours.

The seeds of hope that sprinkle from our lives into others just might sprout and grow as the Lord finds more receptive minds and hearts.

Listen, when tough times come, particularly those that seem SO unfair, let’s shine, not whine.

How people view our faith — and hopefully Jesus — will be radically different based on which we choose.

One other thing… please pray for the millions of Christians around the world who are facing persecution by terrorists yet continue to shine, not whine.

As always, I love you
Martin

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There is a verse in today’s Bible reading with which we all struggle on occasion.

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?” (Romans 8:35)

We love the idea of unending love.

We don’t love the idea of trouble, calamity, persecution, hunger, destitution, danger and threats of death.

If we have one idea, does that mean we won’t have the other?

Paul’s life and the lives of millions today proves that both can exist at the same time in the same life.

Christ’s love carries us through the trials, not simply to the trials.

As a child, when I was injured or emotionally wounded, did that mean my parents didn’t love me? Of course not.

In fact, they were often the ones helping me to find comfort and healing and understanding.

Faith is not a matter of living in a cocoon.

Instead, it is a matter of living in fellowship with the Father. It is a matter of living with an empowered, instructed, encouraged state of purpose that keeps putting one foot in front of another until one’s arrival in glory.

God’s love for us abides.

Let’s keep moving forward in serving Him with an abiding determination to build His kingdom until we move to the place with no more trouble, calamity, persecution, hunger, destitution, danger and threats of death.

A place where only love abides forever.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Most trees don’t develop deep roots unless they have to.

If plants have frequent access to water in the first few feet of soil, the roots spread wide but not deep.

This is why so many trees are toppled in warm climates when hurricanes strike.

But there are a few tree varieties that never topple in the storms.

They might be stripped of leaves or even branches, but the trunk remains.

Why?

Because of deep roots.

The plant kingdom teaches us something else about deep roots.

They are the survival pipeline when droughts hit.

Plants without deep roots dry up and die.

How do deep-rooted plants avoid this outcome?

By having to keep reaching, reaching and reaching with roots until the sustaining water was found.

I have a garden and I have trained my plants to not require watering every day.

Why? Because some days I am just not around to do it and I don’t want them to die as a result.

Listen, we need deep roots of faith because we experience emotional or financial and physical wellness droughts.

Sometimes we’re in a spiritual drought where it seems that blessings are rare and burdens are many.

At such times, our roots can grow deeper through prayer, through Bible study, through worship and through conversation with other believers as we seek after the everflowing Living Water of God’s Truth.

We will feel parched at times. But we will find the purpose of the parching — to deepen our roots in preparation for a more godly life.

We will be on our way toward becoming oaks of righteousness rather than swaying reeds of comfort and convenience.

Here’s the verse from today’s reading in the One-Year Bible that prompted this message:

“The godly have deep roots.” (Proverbs 12:3)

No matter what storms might batter and strip our branches, no matter what droughts shrivel our leaves, let’s remain alive and standing firm because we’ve sent our spiritual roots deep into God’s heart through prayer, worship, study and Christian fellowship.

It’s what godly people do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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