Saturday, August 18, 2018

Saying Goodbye - Martin Wiles

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 NIV

After six years, we had to say goodbye.

Twix, our candy-bar colored Chihuahua, had been a roustabout. My daughter bought him from a relative when he was six weeks old. When she moved into an apartment where animals weren’t allowed, Twix went to stay with her boyfriend. When her boyfriend moved, Twix moved in with his parents in Vermont.

After my daughter and her boyfriend broke up, Twix lived with Mom. When Mom had knee surgery, Twix came to live with us. In time, his teeth deteriorated. Soft food and treats were all he could eat.

Then Twix’s jaw dropped. He could no longer hold food in his mouth. What we dreaded had finally happened. A trip to the vet revealed the bad news. There was nothing he could do to give him quality of life. We said goodbye, and we all cried. His presence in our home had brought joy. Knowing he would no longer be with us left an inconsolable sadness.

Paul’s readers in Thessalonica were sad. They grieved because their loved ones had died. Yet, Paul wanted them to know they had hope. Even now, their loved ones’ souls were in heaven, and one day those spirits would be reunited with resurrected bodies.

Saying bye is never easy, whether to animals or humans—or when we’re moving away from friends or family. That’s why making memories is so important. If I’m not careful, busyness and misplaced priorities can steal the time I should be spending with the ones I love. Work, hobbies, and church are all important—but not more important the memory making.

I suppose telling an animal goodbye is more difficult because they have no immortal souls as humans do. When they’re gone, it’s the end. We’ll never see Twix again. His body will return to dust. But my friends, family, and loved ones who have died—but who knew Christ as their Savior—I will see again in heaven. So I don’t say goodbye to them with the same sadness with which I said goodbye to Twix.

Numerous ways exist for us to prepare for saying farewell—wills, life insurance—but if we miss the most important way of salvation, we’ll make it very difficult for our loved ones and friends to say goodbye to us. Make it easier for them to tell you goodbye.



Prayer: Father, thank You for making it possible for the goodbyes to be easier. 


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Friday, August 17, 2018

Flashback Friday - Does God Really Care? - Martin Wiles

Does God Really Care?

I’ve never questioned God’s love and care, but I’ve sauntered through many a life situation when it was tempting. 

As I watched my father lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life, I could have questioned God’s concern. But I didn’t. Or when my wife and I fail to sell as much at our antique booth as some other vendors, it’s tempting to say, “What’s up with this God?” But we don’t. Or when my wife wakes me up crying from the pain of a kidney stone and we wind up in the hospital, I’m tempted to question God’s care. But I don’t. Read more...

Tweetable: Do you ever feel as if God doesn't care?


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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Pure Religion - Martin Wiles

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27 NLT

One phone call, and in a few hours groceries were sitting on the front porch.

Just a few blocks from my paternal grandparents’ home was Stroman’s Grocery. The store, like most Mom and Pop stores, was small but housed a variety of items. My great-grandmother, who lived with my grandparents, loved to order her sodas and a few other items from Stroman’s. Why I’m not sure, since my grandfather made a daily trip to Piggly Wiggly. 

I’m sure Mr. Stroman made a profit on his sales. But I’m also sure he cared more about his customers than he did his profit. After all, that’s what Mom and Pop store owners did. Customers weren’t just another face in a crowd as they are in present-day retail stores. Customers were friends, fellow church-goers, neighbors, and even relatives. Not only did the store owners know their customers' names, but they often knew their customers’ children.

My great grandmother was a widow, so Mr. Stroman was doing what James defined as true religion: taking care of orphans and widows.

James’ definition of true religion fights against some of the definitions I’ve heard in my lifetime. For some, it’s a matter of obeying a stated group of laws and traditions. Many of them manmade. For others, it entails being at a church facility every time the doors are open. Still, others think true religion is whatever they make it out to be.

James parrots Jesus who attempted to understand people’s situations rather than judging them or avoiding them as so many of the hypocritical religious leaders did. Understanding people is challenging, but loving them means I must attempt to understand their situations rather than cast a judging glance.

When I’ve adopted true religion, I’ll ask God for opportunities to help others and for the spiritual awareness to see those opportunities when He sends them. God is more than willing to send them, but busyness and selfishness often keep me from seeing them when they’re right in front of my face.

True religion also means doing something. I can’t do everything. No one can. The opportunities for doing good are too numerous. But I can do something—the something that God wants me to do.

Ask God to show you how to observe pure religion. And when He does, take advantage of the opportunities He sends.



Prayer: Father, may we not play religion but actually observe pure religion. 


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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

God’s Masterpiece - Martin Wiles

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT

Oblivious to the treasure I had, I placed the bowl on the kitchen table and filled it with old plastic vegetables.

When my wife and I began dating, we discovered both of us loved old things. Her passion was carnival glass, something I’d never heard of and knew nothing about.  

One day, she looked at the bowl sitting on the table and said, “That’s carnival glass.”

We removed the old vegetables and cleaned up the bowl that had belonged to my great grandmother’s mother. There were no markings, so we decided to take it to an antique dealer friend and see what they could find out. Imagine our surprise when we were told it was an early piece of Fenton worth several hundred dollars. Needless to say, we didn’t return it to the table and fill it with plastic vegetables. We proudly displayed it in a safe and noticeable place where its true beauty could shine.

Paul says believers are masterpieces even though I sometimes don’t feel or act like one. But my feelings and actions don’t change the facts. God sees the finished work; I see the work in progress. And a painting in process often looks ugly or like nothing at all.

While I may not appear as much to others, God sees me as extremely valuable. So valuable that He let His Son die for my sins instead of making me pay for them. And although I make many mistakes and foibles along the way, with God anything is possible. He has the power to form me into what He wants me to be. All I must do is cooperate and seek His wisdom and guidance.

Having had the blood of Christ applied to my life, I am worth more than others might think and more than I could ever imagine—but only because I am in Christ and have been created by a loving God.

Although sin mars the masterpiece God is painting, the forgiveness of Christ restores its beauty. Others may say you are nothing, but God says you are something. He wants to take all the clutter away, wash you up, and display you as His. A beautiful work of art.

In God’s eyes, you are of inestimable value. Live as God sees you.



Prayer: Father, may we live out in action, attitudes, and words the people we truly are. 


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