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Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

Start with the Rock.

I’m talking about the foundation for our spiritual house.

The kids’ Bible song says the wise man built his house upon the Rock.

Rains coming down aren’t a problem.

Floods coming up aren’t a problem.

Winds pounding the walls aren’t a problem.

Because nothing earthly can wash away the foundation.

Make sure your Rock is Jesus Christ.

Don’t build on the sand of human sufficiency.

We want to stand in God’s presence forever and that requires standing on the forever Rock.

Here’s a passage from my devotional reading today:

When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.”

Proverbs 10:25 is an affirming message that we should share with others today.

All face storms. Let’s do all we can to help them face the storms with brighter days on the other side.

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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If you have a flowering bush by your front door, do you want people to see several dead branches prominently visible as they come to visit you?

Of course not.

You’ll most certainly prune away those useless branches that are not only “uglifying” your yard but that are also not serving the bush.

If you don’t prune them, what does that say about you?

Dead wood doesn’t serve us.

And it doesn’t serve the Kingdom of God.

That’s why we’re called to keep our lives connected to the Vine of Christ and His flow of Living Water.

As we do so, we’re far more likely to bear fruit rather than become dead wood.

Such a lifeless form is no good to anybody.

“Faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” (James 2:17)

Look for an opportunity today to do a good deed for someone. If you don’t see one by the afternoon, pray for God to create one before you go to bed.

Even if you write a simple email or text message of encouragement to somebody who is discouraged, it will be a fruit that occurred because you wanted your faith to overflow into another.

Take a friend to lunch.

Buy flowers for a family member. Even if at the grocery store to save money.

Write a thank you note to a co-worker.

Call a church ministry team leader to volunteer for an upcoming ministry effort.

Mow the neighbor’s front yard.

You’ll figure something out.

Just let God guide your faith and it’s fruit will follow rather than appear hollow.

As always, I love you
Martin

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God asks us to do things at times that are frightening to us because of our presumption that bad things might happen.

Many Christians are afraid to tithe, thinking that God won’t keep His promise to more than make up for the larger gifts to ministry.

Many Christians are afraid to forgive, thinking that if the person hurt us once and it really stung, then that same person will hurt us again and it will sting even more because we could have avoided the pain.

And many Christians are afraid to look for ways to talk about their faith with co-workers, neighbors, relatives, classmates and various other relationships. People have made it clear to them before that they didn’t want to hear about religion and many believers don’t want to catch grief again for evangelizing.

So are we to reject tithing, forgiving and faith-sharing just because of our fears?

You know the answer.

God never criticizes us for having fears. We are human, after all.

What He expects from us, however, is that fear never trumps our faith.

What He expects is that we’ll do what He calls us to do, even those things that shape our faith before we share His message.

There is a potent, relevant passage in Exodus that speaks to this principle. It involves God’s efforts to grow and shape Moses’ faith in advance of the history-changing ministry in Egypt before the escape from bondage.

God called Moses to lead the enslaved Hebrews out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. But that involved Moses going back to Pharoah’s palace and perhaps facing the long-delayed consequences for murdering an Egyptian 40 years earlier.

Not only was Moses afraid of facing the music in Egypt, he had no confidence that the Hebrews would listen to him.

There’s a lesson here for each of us — God never asks us to do something that’s not good for His Kingdom and good for ourselves.

If He calls us to it, He’ll get us through it. And He’ll provide the power we need if we provide the leadership His people need.

But Moses protested again, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you?’”

Then the Lord asked him, “What is that in your hand?”

“A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied.

“Throw it down on the ground,” the Lord told him.

So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back.

Then the Lord told him, “Reach out and grab its tail.”

So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a shepherd’s staff in his hand. (Exodus 4:1-4)

I’m not sure what calling of God on your life has been put on hold because of your fears.

But you certainly know what it is, whether trusting God with tithing or forgiving or with evangelizing.

Reach out and grab the tail of that snake that has been causing you to step back from obedience.

Do what Moses did, believing as Moses did — take your fears by the tail and watch the threat become a great tool for ministry.

From fear to faith. It’s a journey we can all make as we take God at His word.

As always, I love you
Martin

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We rarely say it, but our thoughts and actions sometimes show it.

I’m talking about the belief that God cannot or will not do what His Word promises.

To claim faith in Christ but not faith in the Bible is folly. For Jesus had a 100 percent confidence in scripture.

Shouldn’t we?

Oh, but I do trust scripture and trust God.

Do we really?

Here are questions to ask ourselves to assess if we really trust God and believe that He is able to make all grace abound to us at all times so that we can abound in every good work (2 Cor. 9:8)

Will God give me the strength to forgive no matter how hard it is or how much another has hurt me?

Will God give me richer, more potent sleep if I spend 30 less minutes in bed each night in return for spending 30 minutes more each day in Bible reading and prayer?

Will God provide for my life needs if I provide the tithe and other offerings that He calls for in His Word?

Will God give me wisdom to help an unsaved person better understand the gospel if I agree to look at Bible questions with the person?

These are not easy initiatives, this forgiving, this sleeping less, this giving more, this teaching more about personal faith.

“But nothing is impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37).

Let’s lift the limits of our faith in the God who has no limits to His power, His authority and His love.

What boundaries are your fears trying to draw around the power, authority and love of God?

Forgive. Meditate. Tithe. Testify.

For nothing is impossible with God.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It would be great if our journey of faith could be graphed with a straight line heading ever upward.

But it can’t.

We’ve failed during our time in the Lord and that graph line looks more like a bouncing stock chart and nothing like a heaven-bound centerline.

I was reminded of my life’s pattern of non-linear faith while reading from Matthew 14 this morning.

The chapter in the One-Year Bible contains the story of Jesus walking on the water and Peter’s brief experience of doing the same.

For a moment, Peter’s faith line was arching toward heaven.

There’s a problem with moments, though. They don’t last very long.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” He said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-31)

I see in this passage a cycle of faith that we’ve all experienced many times in one form or another and which, unfortunately, will continue to encounter until we head to heaven. Hopefully, though, the frequency will decline as our faith grows.

What cycle is that? Faith => Flesh => Fear => Failure => Faith

The fact is that faithful people who go to church and read their Bibles and pray and tithe and volunteer — all the things they should do — are just as susceptible to failure as anybody else if the voice of “flesh” gains too much volume in their hearts and minds.

Peter felt the threats of the world and thought of his flesh’s weakness and fear set in.

When fear set in, the voice of the flesh grew louder than the voice of faith.

That’s when failure began.

Thankfully, when all was lost, he cried out in faith.

Restored, he proceeded in confidence until the next time the cycle repeated itself.

This is our life, too.

Let’s do our best to trust faith more and flesh less.

That sinking feeling is never good.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Three is an important number to God, based on what we read in the Bible.

— The Father, Son and Holy Spirit

— Noah had three sons to help him build the ark

— Three angelic messengers (Were they Christ, Gabriel, Michael?) who announced to Abraham the coming birth of Isaac

— Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

— Three kings of the Orient, a/k/a Three wise men

— Peter, James and John

— Jesus’ ministry lasted three years

— He raised three people from the dead

— Jesus arose from the tomb on the third day

— Paul, Barnabas and Mark; later, Paul, Silas and Timothy

There are many other examples of how three of this or that was significant in scripture, but I’m sure you see a pattern.

So when I read I Thessalonians 5:16-18 this morning, it didn’t surprise me that three exhortations were listed. Practicing these directives resulted in greater faithfulness in apostolic days and continue to display faithfulness in our day.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

It is only with a maturing faith that one will rejoice always. For we won’t always experience good times. To rejoice during bad times requires a “short-timer’s” perspective.

You perhaps have had jobs at which you’ve already turned in your two weeks’ notice and then some co-worker starts giving you grief. It’s like water on a duck’s back, though, because your heart and focus are already checked out and it makes little difference to you what that crabby co-worker thinks.

Christians know they have something better waiting for them in glory and can quietly, inwardly celebrate that fact whenever hassles remind them that their bodily address still says “Earth.”

Praying continually and giving thanks in all circumstances are also possible only because a growing faith.

Listen, there is only good that comes from living a I Thessalonians 5:16-18 life. And it is certainly much easier for others to live with us when we pursue a three-way faith.

Whatever happens in your life today, look for how it can prompt you to rejoice in faith and pray to Him for strength and wisdom. And make sure to thank God for the opportunity to grow in patience or relationships or in vocational competence or in wisdom for handling adversity.

It’s what faithful “short-timers” do.

As always, I love you

Martin

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