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Archive for the ‘patience’ Category

Believers are sometimes criticized sharply not because of the malice of others, but instead because others don’t have the whole picture.

The Apostle Peter was criticized by Jewish Christians in Acts 11 because he shared the gospel with Gentiles.

Peter had been, in fact, among those who thought Gentiles shouldn’t hear the gospel, despite Jesus’ clear teaching in Matthew that all the world should hear the saving message of Jesus Christ.

But God changed Peter’s mind and heart in a very dramatic way. Click here to read about it.

In the face of criticism for evangelizing Gentiles, Peter explained that his change of heart was a matter of obedience to the voice of God.

As Peter explained what God did and said via an angel, the critics saw the sincerity in his eyes and knew that Peter wasn’t lying.

After all, there were six other men with Peter who wouldn’t also ALL be lying.

It was this calm conviction by the apostle that not only silenced the criticism of those who didn’t understand God’s will but led to change of their hearts as well.

Let’s learn from Peter. Let’s remain calm when criticism comes our way, particularly when it comes from those who share aspects of our faith.

Let’s clearly and transparently share the news of what we’ve seen and heard from God’s Word or from a Spirit-led experience that profoundly impacted our understanding of God and our mission.

Calmness saved the day when Peter was criticized.

I pray that you and I do the same when we’re criticized.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I once would have thought this affliction of non-compliant electrons was ridiculous.

But years of computer and Internet quirks have conditioned me to accept as semi-normal the problem that has again occurred this morning.

I have a Morning Devotion to share with you but it’s still floating in cyberspace somewhere.

I write them at home early in the day before leaving for the office, send them to my church email and then post them first thing after my arrival.

Well, the devotion for today never made it here.

I will post it later today when I head back home and can pull it from my sent box.

Sorry about the delay.

Thanks for the patience.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Living as a faithful Christian involves putting up sometimes with unfaithful behavior of other Christians.

I’m talking about behavior such as nit-picking, critical words of others who don’t like us and who will grasp at straws to find something about which to complain.

Fortunately, this doesn’t happen much for most of us. When it does, though, it can be very frustrating.

So when this has happened to you, how have you responded?

With fire?

Or with grace?

With the Silver Rule that says do unto others as they have done unto you? Or with the Golden Rule?

The Apostle Paul wrote about this subject in today’s reading from the One-Year Bible. He and Barnabas had been criticized for accepting financial support in the past for their ministry, apparently by people who thought he and Barnabas should have secular jobs to support themselves with ministry being only on a volunteer basis.

I Corinthians 9 indicates that other traveling ministers were financially supported by churches, even to the point of providing travel and food expenses for some of their wives.

Yet Paul was criticized apparently as a money-seeker.

Wow.

He walked away from a cushy living as a Pharisee and into a life of financial and physical turmoil. Yet he has to put up with this garbage….

It would have been understandable from a human standpoint if he had said “Phooey with it!” and taken a full-time secular job, attending church on Sunday morning and not much else.

But Paul’s calling from the Lord and desire to see souls saved was greater than his desire to not be treated poorly.

And so, he endured the foolish, double-standard talk and kept loving, teaching, worshipping AND working as a tentmaker to provide his own financial support.

Here’s how he summed up the motive for continuing in his mission:

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.” (I Cor. 9:12)

Are you choosing to put up with unfaithful, hurtful words of people rather than hinder the gospel of Christ?

Critical, nit-picking words that could steal your joy if you allowed them to?

Anybody zealous for personal ministry is going to hear such. I certainly do.

What we must remember is that it’s not about us.

It’s about Christ and about those who need Him.

Please, put up with the random, hurtful ramblings of the few who don’t get it when it comes to church mission and how you participate.

That way, you won’t walk away from the call on your life to get the gospel to those who want hope for their hurting hearts.

As always, I love you
Martin

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The Lord is SO patient with us.

Even when we’re wrapped up in our agendas and frustration rather than by the awareness and appreciation of His grace.

Too many times, we’ve been like Gideon who didn’t grasp the enormity of divine grace.

At least not initially.

You’ll recall that Gideon was the young man to whom the Angel of the Lord appeared in the days before biblical Israel had a king.

The spiritual apathy of the Hebrews had left them spiritually impotent and militarily bankrupt and pagan nations had oppressed them in brutal fashion.

Yet, God’s heart heard their tormented, confused cries for help and the pre-incarnate Christ was sent to Gideon with a message.

The story is told in the book of Judges beginning in chapter 6. You should read that story today. It will encourage and equip you.

The element in that story that I want to briefly address here occurs in the initial contact between the Angel of the Lord and Gideon.

It’s so typical to how we believers still act sometimes, even though some 3,500 years have passed.

Here’s the passage that surprised me but also didn’t surprise me.

“The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, He said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”

“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” (vv. 11-13)

OK, so here’s the scene. Israel is all messed up because of their own spiritual failures and lack of national self-discipline. Yet, when a divine messenger comes from heaven with powerful, affirming words of encouragement for Gideon, the first thing Gideon does in response is complain and blame.

It’s pathetic.

It’s also an incredible display of grace by the Angel of the Lord.

How many of us would have responded to Gideon that he and the Israelites were ungrateful losers getting what they deserved and that we had changed our minds about helping such people?

Amazingly, the Angel of the Lord didn’t come to pronounce judgment that Israel was reaping what she had sown.

He came, instead, to declare grace, to call a leader, to rescue His people who seemingly were running away from Him.

As you read the rest of the story in Judges, you’ll come to appreciate even more the grace and patience of God.

That’s a good thing.

Listen, we can tell ourselves how ridiculous Gideon’s initial replies were to the Lord, yet have we not also pointed fingers at God for not protecting us or blessing us with prayers answered when and how we wanted? Careful here before you exonerate yourself.

Remember, God has seen every inclination of your mind and mine. He’s heard that unspoken thought of yours that asked, “If the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?”

Listen, we should rejoice whenever we see or hear or sense the gracious offer of God to help us, however it comes to us. The last thing He needs to hear is our griping about how we think He should have done this or done that.

For actually, if justice were the only criteria, we all should be piles of ashes on the ground.

As always, I love you
Martin

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There’s much to admire about the life of King David.

Resourceful. Expressive. Good with people. A vibrant, heartfelt worshipper.

A fierce warrior when it came time to protect God’s people.

Yes, he had his bad moments. As in really bad.

But he accepted his punishment for those choices without shaking his fist at God.

I’m convinced that David knew he was always treated better by God than he deserved.

That’s why, I’m also convinced, David was SO prone to a proper perspective of faith as later described by the writer of Psalm 132:1.

LORD, remember David and all his self-denial.”

Wow, what a concise legacy the shepherd boy-turned-king left in the minds of Israelites who followed him.

To be known as a believer who embraced the holy call of self-denial…. that’s a powerful testimony.

For years, David lived a nomadic existence because of King Saul’s unjust, jealous desire to kill him. David had multiple oppotunities to kill Saul, but rejected the cry of his flesh and waited on the Lord to arrange an opportunity for David to assume the throne.

Many other times, David embraced self-denial and the kingdom was stronger as a result, as was his testimony.

He wasn’t perfect, of course. He should have had just one wife. He should have turned away from gazing upon Bathsheba. He shouldn’t have relied on the size of his army.

But like for you and like me, the plurality of our faithful actions and the pervasiveness of our faithful attitudes show God that we do understand the place of self-denial and generally embrace the idea of putting God and others ahead of ourselves.

When you pass from this life, will you be seen as one who too often lived to have things just so? Or will people recall you as one who demonstrated a deep understanding and application of self-denial and patience toward your reward in heaven?

I know which attitude that I should have — David’s attitude. I pray that you’ll have the same.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I need to become more like Demetrius, not Diotrephes.

One builds up others and the Kingdom of God. The other only tears down others and, ultimately, himself.

We’re called to serve others and that means putting them ahead of ourselves.

Clearly, that’s what Demetrius did toward other Christians in the 1st Century church.

The Apostle John referred to Demetrius’ excellent pattern for living in 3 John vv. 11-12:

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.”

What a compelling example of good living!

A good reputation. A godly example. Appreciated by the spiritually wise.

Great targets for behavior that we should all desire.

Diotrephes, by contrast, was a big-time troublemaker, John wrote.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.” (vv. 9-10).

A divisive, gossiping control freak has no legitimate place in the Church. That’s why we must grow in our faith in order to resist Satan’s persuasion to live for ourselves a la Diotrephes.

Some Bible scholars saw these names as pseudonyms, used for referring to two extremes of behavior or to actual people whom John didn’t want to specifically name.

The larger lesson for us is the same, either way. Good attitudes and good actions toward others lead to good reputations that build godly influence and grand futures in glory.

The opposite in attitude and actions toward others leads, of course, to the opposite of the above. Such people are to be confronted in godly, yet assertive ways.

Let’s live in a way that people see the spirit of Demetrius in us. It will put a smile on God’s face and isn’t that what it’s really all about, anyway?

As always, I love you
Martin

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Some verses in scripture will always have direct application to our lives, no matter what circumstances we’re facing at a particular moment.

Proverbs 25:21-22 is such a verse.

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”

You might not be at war with another person just now but there is almost certainly somebody in your life who views you in a less than friendly manner. It might not make sense to you, but whoever said life has to always make sense?

Some people dislike us simply because of the life we have and not because of how we’ve treated them.

They’re angry at life, in effect, and are taking it out on those they envy or who remind them of past culprits they can’t now punish.

Whatever the case, the biblical response to unfair treatment is to show mercy.

For in showing mercy, we show faith.

We show that pleasing God is more important than pleasing our “payback” cravings rooted in pride.

There’s not just spiritual wisdom in King Solomon’s advice, but also practical.

The reality is that we’re not going to persuade the heart of an enemy through retaliation, but instead through kindness.

For it is through our kindness that the influence and authority of THE Higher Power can begin to permeate the mind and heart of the antagonist.

That’s why Solomon used the phrase “heap burning coals on his head.”

Our kindness in response to meanness serves as a seed that can’t easily be brushed out of the antagonist’s mind.

Of course, it’s not easy to be nice to one who is being mean or cold or disrespectful to us.

That’s why our doing so is such a blessing to God.

He knows that our behavior is rooted in the desire to please Him and set a good example for the antagonist.

Praise God today, my friend, by being intentionally nice to someone who is the opposite toward you.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.

As always, I love you
Martin

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