Saturday, July 21, 2018

Our Journey - Martin Wiles

For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. Psalm 51:5 NLT
Our journey took us through hardwood forests on a path littered with rocks, roots, and narrow ledges.
For the first time in twelve years, my daughter and I hiked together. I hoped this would be the beginning of regular hikes again.
Our journey was one we’d taken before. A ten-mile stretch beginning at Whitewater Falls—just across the North Carolina line—and ending at Sloan Bridge. I was older and had more aches and pains than I did the last time we hiked. I warned her my pace might be slower.
Along the way, sweat poured from my body. My feet ached because my shoes were too narrow. My knees throbbed every time we hit a downhill stretch. I occasionally wondered whether I was going to make it, but each time I told myself I could.
After a few short breaks, we arrived at the end. I was glad I could still master mountain hiking, and I was even happier that I had a few hours to journey with my daughter.
Life, too, is a journey, but one the psalmist says begins in sin. The verse doesn’t mean his mother was involved in a sinful relationship when she conceived him but that he was born a sinner because she was a sinner. As was her mother and father and their mother and father—and so on back to the time when the first humans decided to disobey God.
Our journey begins with a sinful nature that controls us. Like my hike, this nature takes me over rough and rocky areas. Unlike my hike, I have no chance of finishing the course successfully without help. My sinful nature dooms me unless someone intervenes.
While the wages of sin are death, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. I was able to summon the inner fortitude to finish the hike, but I can’t do this with my sinful nature. Only Christ can take it away and give me a new nature, and He does so when I admit my sinfulness and plead for His forgiveness.
Because of prior conditioning, I was able to complete the ten-mile hike. I can also complete the journey of life with a hope for eternal life in heaven—but only with Christ’s help.
Don’t depend on anyone or anything but Christ to help you finish life’s journey.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son. May we make our life’s journey with Him by our side and in our heart. 

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Flashback Friday - When the Son Shines In - Martin Wiles

When the Son Shines In

I had cleaned them well, but then the sunlight shone through.

To supplement our income, my wife and I clean our church—a part of which involves cleaning the solid glass front entrance doors. As I went down my list of things to do, my wife reminded me about the front doors. I wiped them and was very proud of their appearance. Then came Sunday morning. As the sun’s rays penetrated the glass, streaks and smudges appeared. How was this possible? But I’ve cleaned many a glass only to have the sun’s rays reveal what was left behind. Read more...

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Be Content - Martin Wiles

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. Philippians 4:11 NLT
A simple water show stopped him in his tracks.
Our daughter surprised my wife and me with a vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC. Being the planner that she is, she had every day planned with things our two grandsons would enjoy. 
The day before we came home, we were to visit Broadway on the Beach. Our destination was a dinosaur museum. We watched with delight the smiles on our grandsons’ faces as they watched the mechanical life-sized dinosaurs move about, making the sounds the designers imagined dinosaurs made. 
When our tour was over, we went to a favorite fast-food restaurant where we enjoyed music and singing and dancing by the waiters and waitresses. On the way out of the park, our grandsons’ attention was captured by a small water pad where spouts of water danced about in different shapes. Nothing we had seen thus far held their attention as this. They were content to stand and watch it do its programmed tricks and were sad when we told them it was time to go.
The apostle Paul had it all and he had nothing. From a well-to-do religious leader to a Christian zealot who was hounded by the same type of persons he once was. From death threats to shipwrecks, he had seen it all. But he wasn’t worried or anxious. He had learned what I struggle with: contentment.
While Paul had joy in all circumstances, he wasn’t happy about all circumstances. There is a difference. Happiness is determined by my circumstances or what I have or don’t have. Joy is a state of being.
To have happiness I must have things or my circumstances must always be pleasant. To have joy, I merely need a relationship with Christ. When I have Him, I learn to appreciate every little thing I have. Joy is present in good times and in bad times, in abundant times and in sparse times.
During His earthly life, Jesus had little. He grew up as a carpenter and later wandered from town to town as a traveling preacher, teacher, healer, and friend. He had no place to lay His head. But He was content because He was doing His Father’s will.
Learn to be content by finding joy in your relationship with God. When you do, anything else will be a blessing that brings happiness.

Prayer: Father, teach us the art of contentment. 

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

I Don’t Understand - Martin Wiles

Look, God is greater than we can understand. His years cannot be counted. Job 36:26 NLT
“But they don’t have mouths. How can they drink?”
An intelligent question from my four-year-old grandson. I was teaching him lessons about growing flowers and a garden by letting him plant a flower and vegetable garden in our backyard. I dug the holes; he dropped the seeds.
As each flower and vegetable came up, I explained what they were called, what they would produce, and how they would produce it. When the squash bloomed, I showed him where the squash would grow. I explained how the corn would produce ears.
One day as I was watering the flowers, he asked what I was doing. “Giving the flowers something to drink. They get thirsty just as you do,” I said.
“But they don’t have mouths,” he insightfully replied.
I took the opportunity to explain how flowers and plants drink: through their roots and some through their leaves. My answer satisfied him. He had learned something else he hadn’t previously understood.
Job had many things he didn’t understand, among them why God was allowing a whole list of bad things to come into his life. Although he continued to trust God, the trials didn’t seem to match what He thought about God. And what’s worse, God never explained. I’ve never faced the type of trials Job did, but I’ve had my share and I’ve also had my share of fail-to-understand episodes.
Remembering God is sovereign helps me persevere. In my grandson’s eyes, I probably am too—though he has no idea what the word means. Job refused to curse God, as his wife told him too, and chose to believe God was in control.
As my sovereign guide, God’s ways are higher than mine—and often beyond my ability to understand. This should call forth greater faith in me, as it did Job, rather than cause me to lose faith in Him.
God operates in a realm I’ve never entered—nor can I understand it. I live in time; He doesn’t. Though outside of time, He created time, created me in time, and often operates in time with me. Job chose to continue worshiping God even though he lacked understanding. He believed God was working for his good—although it appeared otherwise.
Job’s response to his lack of understanding should be ours. When you can’t understand God’s actions, trust that He loves you and has your best in mind.

Prayer: Father, when we can’t see Your hand, help us to trust Your heart. 

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Throwback Tuesday - Death's Sting - Martin Wiles

Death’s Sting

I was at least 3 hours from help with no way to stop what was happening.

I called it the “year of stings” because I had been stung numerous times while my brother and I were hiking. I had never been stung by a wasp or yellow jacket. Only one small bee hanging around a trash dump had ever managed to plant her stinger in my skin. But this year yellow jackets were finding my bare skin with regularity, and with each sting, the reaction intensified. While I had never experienced an allergic reaction before, it appeared I was having one now. Only after slowing my pace and taking Benadryl did the reactions subside. From then on, I made sure I carried an Epi-pen. Read more...

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