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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Friday, December 7, 2018

Flashback Friday - Seeing Life Clearly - Martin Wiles

Seeing Life Clearly

I cannot remember when I could see clearly without assistance.

I’ve worn glasses since my early days of elementary school. And while I can remember bits and pieces of my life before then, I can’t specifically remember the luxury of seeing clearly without them. No doubt, my vision was blurry for a period of time before I admitted it. After all, glasses are cumbersome. Cleaning them, being careful not to break them, having friends call you names, not being able to play certain games. Even though I didn’t enjoy glasses, I did appreciate clear eyesight. Read more...

Tweetable: Is your life out of focus?


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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Getting Down and Dirty - Martin Wiles

When Abram heard that his nephew Lot had been captured, he mobilized the 318 trained men who had been born into his household. Then he pursued Kedorlaomer’s army until he caught up with them at Dan. Genesis 14:14 NLT

“Pop, wash my hands.”

My daughter’s youngest child doesn’t like for his hands to get dirty—unless he’s outside playing in the dirt. Then it’s okay. Otherwise, he wants them washed each time he eats something—which is all day long.

I can’t fuss at him. We taught him this—even though it seems to come quite naturally to him. I remember being the same way as a child. I didn’t like anything on my hands and always wondered if I touched certain things if doing so would hurt me—or even kill me. He hasn’t gotten to that stage yet, but it may come.

My wife and I are still clean freaks—but not nearly as much so as we once were. Age has taken care of many of our peculiarities. Aching backs, throbbing knees, hurting feet, swollen joints. Many things we once wouldn’t think of letting go we now do.

Life contains dirty episodes, and getting dirty comes with them. Abraham had to. His nephew Lot had made a poor choice when they divided the land between them. Taking the choice land toward the wicked city of Sodom, Lot eventually ended up in the city. Then he got caught up in a local war and found himself captured. When Abraham heard the news, he took 318 men and went to secure Lot’s release.

Behind loving Him with our entire beings, Jesus said loving others was the next greatest commandment. But loving others is a messy business because we all have messy lives—some more so than others. It’s not always what we do to ourselves, but what others do to us—or what life does to us. No one wishes for a hurricane, tsunami, flood, bankruptcy, troubled marriage, an unfair boss, or rebellious children. But life happens.

Helping those who experience such things involves us in the mess: disaster relief, counseling, feeding, donating, encouraging, spending time, transporting. All things which inconvenience us, taking us away from things we might rather do. But doing these things puts us in good company. Jesus’ entire ministry was one of inconvenience—continually helping those who hounded Him for assistance.

Doing the Father’s will led Jesus to intersect with others’ messes, and it will us too. Life will dirty us up. Our challenge is loving others enough to help clean them up. 

Find someone whose hands you can wash.



Prayer: Father, lead us to those who are dirtied by life’s messes. Then, give us the love to help clean them up. 


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