Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Choosing Right - Martin Wiles

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Proverbs 14:12 NLT
She took her pencil, scribbled on her desk, and covered it with books.
The class had a test, and cheating was always a possibility—although I assumed their innocence until they proved me otherwise. This time one of them did.
I wanted to look at what she had written, but couldn’t bring myself to. After the late bell rang, I instructed them to clear their desks and to get out a piece of paper to cover their tests. She made sure she put her paper over what she had written on the desk. I knew I had to confront her.
“Macy, can I see you outside.”
She looked startled, as did the other students. No one said a word. She got up and followed me outside the room.
“I’m going to give you one chance to be honest. Did you write answers for the test on your desk?”
Her head dropped. “I did, but I erased them because I knew it was being dishonest.”
I felt sorry for her. She was a smart girl. I wondered why she felt the need to cheat.
“You know that’s cheating,” I reminded her.
She did, and she apologized. I could have given her a zero, but I chose to be gracious—as God is with me.
“I’ll overlook it this time, but if it happens again, you’ll receive a zero,” I sternly reminded her.
For whatever reason, cheating seemed the right way for her. Death for her could have been a zero had I enforced the rules instead of given grace. Wise King Solomon spoke of such a path too. The path varies for everyone—and the path changes during our lifetime—but any path leading us away from God and from the choices He wants us to make means death of some sort.
Choosing wrong is always easier than choosing right. Our fleshly nature makes it so. Peer pressure from various sources makes choosing right even more difficult. God has promised no temptation would be greater than His ability to help us overcome. Making choices based on His principles and commands is the best path. And if I trust Him, He’ll give me the strength to make wise choices that grow me spiritually and provide a good example for others.
Choose to make godly choices—regardless of the circumstances.

Prayer: Father, give us Your Spirit’s power so we can choose the right paths in life. 

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Throwback Tuesday - Praising Through Pain - Martin Wiles

Praising Though Pain

Praising God when things are going well is easy; praising him in painful situations is more difficult—some think impossible. 

My wife and I discovered this after inviting our adult son to live with us. Having been kicked out of his residence for using drugs, he had nowhere to go. Our hearts reached out to him. After reassurance he was no longer using drugs, we consented to let him stay with us temporarily. Little did we know he was going through withdrawal. Threats, angry outbursts, and other undesirable traits furiously emerged. A painful situation it was difficult to praise God in and for. Read more...

Tweetable: Can you praise God through pain?


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Monday, December 10, 2018

Greed’s Path - Martin Wiles

Lot chose for himself the whole Jordan Valley to the east of them. He went there with his flocks and servants and parted company with his uncle Abram. Genesis 13:11 NLT
Jonathan and his wife began their life together as sharecroppers.
By the world’s standards, Jonathan and Edie barely existed. Poverty barked at their door. But Jonathan had dreams about his own land, his own home, and his own farm equipment. His dream was to sit on the front porch of his house and watch the crops team in fields that belonged to him. 
Jonathan and Edie began by working for a wealthy farmer and by boarding in several rooms of a larger home belonging to someone else. Jonathan began gambling—and he was good at it. Before long, he owned the home and bought small acreages of land. Jonathan’s own land soon surrounded his home. He planted some with money crops and fenced some for cows and hogs. Life was good.
Jonathan’s greed paid off. At his death, he had hundreds of acres of land and hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank. But he died a miserable death. Along with the gambling, he had assumed the habits of drinking and smoking heavily. These habits led to strokes, one after the other until they finally took his life.
Lot made his choice based on greed also. When the land couldn’t support him and his uncle Abram, Abram offered him first choice of the land. He looked across the Jordan River Valley and selected the most fertile land—leaving his kind uncle the leftovers. His choice soon turned sour when he eventually moved to the wicked city of Sodom.
Greed is natural—a part of the sinful nature we’re born with. No one must teach us how to be greedy. Jonathan and Lot’s choices demonstrate greed perfectly. Remaining greedy, however, is a decision we make—not one we’re forced to live with.
Choosing to remain greedy carries consequences. Greed leads to selfish choices, which are normally unhealthy selections. It can also lead to broken relationships, as it did between Abram and Lot. No one enjoys the company of a greedy person because life is all about them.
Although we’re born greedy, we don’t have to stay gluttonous. God offers deliverance and gives it through a changed nature. Accepting His sacrificial love implants the same in our nature, making us want to open our hands to others rather than live with closed fists.
Don’t let greed be your master. God offers a better way of love.

Prayer: Father, cause us to open our hands to others as You have opened Yours to us. 

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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Happy Is Okay - Martin Wiles

Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Psalm 96:1 NLT

“Many of you walk around, looking as if you’ve been baptized in pickle juice.”

Dad wasn’t always the most positive person when he preached. The above statement evidenced his tendency to major on the negative. I suppose in his many years of ministry, he had witnessed believers who looked as if it Christianity brought misery. Believers consumed with the don’ts more so than the dos. Christians who thought frowns demonstrated signs of holiness.
Somewhat like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. When I read Jesus’ denunciations of them for their hypocritical actions and attitudes, I can’t imagine men who walked around smiling. Frowns and piety were synonyms in their book.

Like Dad, I’ve known quite a few pickle-faced believers—myself included at times. People who seemed to struggle with being a Christian. If following Christ was such a chore, I wondered why they bothered. Rarely did a smile cross their lips at church—or anywhere else I saw them.

Somehow, I don’t picture the psalmist—or Jesus—as men who sauntered around with frowns on their faces. Although I’ve seen it done, singing while frowning seems as if it should be mutually exclusive. How can praise and sadness inhabit the same body at the same time? Not only did the psalmist display joy, but he also wanted the entire world to join him.

I’ve been a Christian for forty-eight years, circulated around many believers, seen Christianity displayed in various ways, and have concluded believers can be happy. In fact, I believe God wants us that way. Sinful living may appear enjoyable—and Satan constantly proposes that idea—but I can live a holy lifestyle and still have fun. I’ve tried it—and it works.

Sin and fun may seem like normal bedfellows, but they are opposites. Jesus enjoyed life. He loved a good party, He loved laughing, and He enjoyed the company of good—and not so good—folks. A fact that drove the pickled-faced religious leaders crazy. But He never sinned while enjoying Himself.

God created us for a relationship with Him—and not a somber one. Putting our eyes on others’ needs instead of our own creates joy. Relishing time spent with Christ through spiritual disciplines gives a base for our joy. And knowing God controls our lives and has a heavenly home waiting for us sustains it.

Don’t worry; be happy. Happy is okay.



Prayer: Father, create in us a spirit of joy so others can see true happiness is only found in a relationship with You. 


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