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Archive for the ‘testimony’ Category

Every parent loves it when his or her child does well with a song or public reading during a school assembly.

And Christian parents are thrilled when they watch their kids quote a Bible verse or recite a Christian poem during a worship service.

We love it when our kids succeed with what they say.

God is the same way.

How do I know this?

Because of what Solomon wrote in Proverbs 23:16, that’s how.

You see, Solomon’s words are a reflection of God’s heart.

Remember, Solomon was the wisest human who ever lived, other than Jesus.

Check out this statement:

Everything in me will celebrate
 when you speak what is right.”

Whether we enjoy moments of joy because of our child’s words or of a nephew’s/niece’s words or even an adult friend’s words, the internal blessing is the same.

Potential is being realized at the moment and when it’s for the sake of glorifying God and building His Kingdom, the moment is particularly sweet.

Let’s give God a reason to celebrate today.

Let’s strive to use kind and patient words today with others.

Let’s strive to only speak words the are in the center of truth rather than words that teeter on the white line between pavement and ditch.

Let’s verbally forgive. Or, if necessary, apologize for a bad choice.

God will love it.

As always, I love you
Martin

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No, the dog didn’t eat my homework. But the cyberspace dog did eat my first Morning Devotion post earlier today and it’s nowhere to be found.

Oh well. Here’s the condensed, hopefully remembered version — don’t flirt with the edge of behavior boundaries of scripture if there is ANY chance that you’ll encourage or influence a weaker believer to try to same.

For there is the real possibility that your choice might prompt another to make a choice that leads them toward crossing the line.

They just don’t have the good spiritual brakes you do. And you and I don’t want that on our life record when we stand before the Lord.

Heed Paul’s words, please, when it comes to your choices for spending on luxury items or with drinking alcohol or with how much skin to reveal with clothing choices or with what jokes you tell or with what movies you watch or with what church gripes you verbalize to others.

“But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.” I Corinthians 8:9

So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.” I Corinthians 8:13

Paul calls us to concentrate on building each other up. Let’s make sure that our examples lead others closer to the center of God’s holy path rather than toward the edges.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Life is filled with colloquialisms. Here are a few:

  • “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”
  • “You are what you eat”
  • “Garbage in, garbage out”
  • “Like father, like son”
  • “She’s certainly her mother’s daughter”

These phrases speak to the undeniable correlation between the product and the producer.

You and I didn’t crawl fully grown out of a stork’s delivery bag.

We were conceived by others, we were birthed by others, we were raised by others and we continue to this day to be shaped by the involvement of others.

That’s why — if we want to have lives of godliness pleasing to the Lord — we are to be discerning in who allow to be our inner circle “influencers.”

If we want our lives to produce the sweet honey of kindness, moral purity and generosity, we need to stay close to the hive of holiness.

I pray that you have a circle of friends who love the Lord and strive to become more like Christ.

I pray that you have a congregation where the leadership is closely connected to the Vine of Jesus Christ.

I pray that you have an immediate and extended family that pursues personal holiness and spiritual fruitfulness and invites to join them in those pursuits.

I need more of this.

I need to provide more of this to the people I know.

Here’s the catalyst for today’s Morning Devotion —

 

“For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too.” (Romans 11:16)

 

The Apostle Paul was referring specifically to the faithful patriarchs during this explanation of how God grafted faithful Gentiles into His Kingdom that was launched 1,500 years earlier by God.

His point was this — faithful people committed to holy living are always committed to imparting that same level of commitment.

Please send the roots of your faith DEEP into the Bible via daily reading and reflection and prayer.

Please spread those roots WIDE as you seek Living Water (biblical insights) via other sources such as Christian music, faithful testimony from Christian friends and theologically sound Bible teaching on the radio.

And please look for every opportunity to feed what you’ve learned into branches that reach wider into the world, providing shade for the spiritually weary and fruit for the spiritually hungry.

The world desperately needs more holy branches.

Let’s ask God to grow us, to shape us, to prune us and to feed us so that we might do the same for others, with them doing the same for others.

It’s how this thing called Christianity is supposed to work.

As always, I love you
Martin

 

 

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After the Israelites had crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, one man from each of the 12 tribes walked back into the previously flooded, now miraculously parted waterway and picked up a large stone.

An odd choice, it might appear, unless we read of the purpose for the stones.

“So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:4-7)

This extremely visual account from Hebrew history is incredibly relevant to us today.

Particularly the five-word question that Joshua said would come from generations of children.

“What do these stones mean?”

The people in Joshua’s day could easily recall the meaning of those stones and the memories of God’s deliverance power that accrued to the Israelites. Trusting God and obeying God was always the best way because He could ALWAYS deliver on His promises if His children obeyed Him.

The stones served as a tangible reminder of God’s endless love, earthly power and eternal purpose.

You and I haven’t walked across the dried bottom of a miraculously stopped up river. But we have been delivered by God’s grace through some very difficult emotional, physical, financial or spiritual obstacles.

It is that deliverance that we should memorialize with stories or keepsakes or even with dedicated places of prayer in our homes or churches.

And those stories or keepsakes or dedicated places of prayer should prompt questions by others — particularly children — about why we have such memorials.

“God was SO good to me and here’s what He did…..” should be our introduction to a recounting of God’s grace, shared with inquiring hearts.

I want to encourage you to set up “stones” in your life that prompt children or other adults to ask questions about God’s intercession in your life.

Write out a testimony of how God helped you through a tough situation.

Frame some pictures of you serving in an important volunteer ministry at church and put them in places that people will see them and ask about the activity.

Prepare a prayer garden in your yard or at your church so that people can inquire as to its purpose and be told of God’s intervening nature.

Assemble a small, decorative array of stones — picked up on the grounds of an missions ministry outpost — in a pretty bowl on your work desk and be prepared to explain the work of the Lord in that place.

Perhaps you’re one who can memorialize a deliverance from alcoholism by smashing booze bottles into tiny pieces and gluing them to the base of a small cross placed on your desk.

People need to see us memorialize our deliverance so that we can teach them about Him.

As they do, some just might want to join us on the “other side” of the river.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I just finished a sermon series at church called One Month to Live. The “big idea” of the series is for believers to live each day committed passionately toward serving the Lord and serving the people in our lives as if there were no tomorrow.

When time is really short, our priority list tends to become much more clear and targeted.

The final message focused on leaving a legacy without regrets.

That’s something we all want, I’m sure. We want to be remembered for the things we’ve done well, things we’ve done that helped others toward better lives.

We don’t want a legacy stained by bad things.

Of course, we’re not perfect. We’ve made mistakes. But my sense is that people don’t cling to our mistakes if they weren’t malicious or weren’t because of stubborn refusal to change.

It’s those decisions that were intentional choices to put self first that tend to stain legacies.

If we’re known as people who tried to do the right thing as a pattern for living, we’ll have good legacies.

People — particularly our loved ones and friends — will have good memories of us.

Today’s devotional reading in the One-Year Bible contained a passage that prompted this Morning Devotion.

“We have happy memories of the godly, but the name of a wicked person rots away.” (Proverbs 10:7)

Like me, you almost certainly have happy memories of godly people who have passed into eternity. Those memories are not only comforting for your residual sense of loss, but they’re also instructive in making your own good choices regarding family life, work life, church life or health life.

And like me, you almost certainly have memories of people who engaged in wickedness, whose passing was met with little sorrow on your part.

Sadly, too many people die with the same lack of concern shown by peers that was shown to evil King Jehoram in the Old Testament. When he died, the Bible said nobody regretted it.

Wow.

Let’s pour our hearts and hands into serving others in godly ways and to conducting ourselves in a godly manner. This is what will leave a legacy that pleases and guides those whom we love and leave behind.

And please don’t wait to start manifesting godliness in every aspect of your life.

You see, none of us knows how many days we have left.

An auto accident or a stroke or a heart attack could happen at any time and we’re done.

Nobody wants a “coulda, woulda, shoulda” legacy.

Let’s live like Jesus now and bless our loved ones with a quality legacy forever.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Imagine the brief horror of life without breath.

What terror there would be until the darkness of death came.

If you’ve ever had the wind knocked out of you, you recall what that fear is like — even if only temporarily.

But God gives us the ability to breathe so that we can experience the light of day.

The breath we have is a gift from Him.

Should we not use that breath to provide gifts to Him?

When we make it our purpose to redeem our breaths by infusing them with His purposes — whether we’re speaking or quietly serving — He is praised and we are blessed.

It’s what we were created to do.

“I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.” (Psalm 34:1)

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6)

Let’s become more active in testifying to God’s goodness. When something good happens to us or another at work, let’s audibly or in writing thank God for the blessing, whether the beneficiary is a Christian or not.

When someone makes it through a difficult health situation at church or within our extended family, let’s clearly thank God for His grace and power in a way that others hear or read it.

When we avoid a potentially deadly accident on the highway, let’s make sure to say a prayer of thanks and testify to others at our destination that God obviously isn’t done with us yet.

In the store checkout line, thank the clerk for the blessing of a kind smile.

In the doctor’s office, thank the doctor for using his or her God-given abilities to help people.

In the neighbor’s yard, discuss the beauty of the landscape plants and flowers the neighbor has and then praise the Lord for His creative genius in making such visual blessings.

You get the idea.

Let’s constantly speak His praises.

After all, He’s constantly loving and helping and blessing us, one breath at a time.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Pop quizzes aren’t always bad things.

When I was in school, whether as a kid or as a graduate seminary student, I didn’t like pop quizzes.

Taking a test with no studying and no advance warning left me feeling unprepared and vulnerable to academic failure.

I usually did OK with them because I had tried to pay attention in class. But I can’t say that I scored 100% on every quiz.

As Christians, we face pop quiz opportunities all the time.

Some are voluntary, meaning we see the opportunity to answer questions of another and we step into the moment with our spiritual insights. For example, a work breakroom conversation of several people starts raising questions about what the Bible says about this or that.

We have what we believe are answers and so we step into the pop quiz of faith.

Some are not voluntary, however, and you find yourself being confronted by one or some who think Christianity is harsh, judgmental, too restrictive and run by uncompassionate men and their god.

You’re being peppered with questions such as why would a “so-called loving” God let innocent suffer or why do crooks so often get away with ripping off old people or why are husbands ordained by God as the head of the house or how can somebody actually believe that the miracles in the Bible really happened in contrast to the laws of nature.

We Christians should have answers to the above questions, of course. I encourage you to research them and perhaps ask your pastor or congregation elders to help you find the answers.

More important than the above questions, though, is being able to answer the question, “How can I have peace in my heart?”

Now that’s a pop quiz we should all be able to answer.

Please, prepare yourself to explain to others how you found peace in your heart.

Recall the life experiences that convinced you that you weren’t getting to heaven on your own — that you were a sinner in need of a Savior.

Recall how the Word was introduced into your life — and your heart — by another.

Recall how those Gospel seeds were watered by the love and examples of other believers.

Recall that “come to Jesus” moment when you were convicted and knew that you had to choose one path or the other.

Recall that moment of public confession and baptism into the family of God.

This is an example of how the believer answers the pop quiz of sharing faith.

This is what the Apostle Peter calls us to do.

“…if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.” (I Peter 3:15-16)

Be ready, my friends.

People need the hope you’ve found.

And we need to be ready whenever such a pop-quiz moment comes our way from the Lord.

As always, I love you
Martin

P.S. Because of spending time with family, the Morning Devotion postings will resume next Monday.

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