Monday, April 23, 2018

Enjoy the Journey - Martin Wiles

Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. 1 Peter 1:18 MSG
Our journeys were carefully planned, each with a destination in mind.
For several years, my brother and I made monthly hikes in the mountains. We’d always get an early start. But my brother and I enjoyed the journeys in different ways.
For my brother, the journey was about reaching our designated ending point, getting back to the vehicle, and getting home within a reasonable time. I went along with his idea because he was along with me. My idea of the journey was different. Had it been up to me, I would have enjoyed the journey more by not focusing on the destination point—to say we had hiked so many miles or that we had hiked from point A to point B—but on the journey itself. Stopping along the way to enjoy the views, to identify wildflowers and trees, to read some of the area’s history.
While our hikes were good exercise—and helped me keep my weight under control—I’m afraid we missed the joy of many journeys because we focused on the exercise or our destination point. I’d love to go back and do them all over again . . . a little slower.
Life is a journey too, as Peter says, and should be traveled with a sense of God’s presence while I’m taking the journey.
Like others, I’m looking forward to my retirement destination. But I don’t plan to sit in a rocking chair on the porch or recline in my recliner all day when I do. Being caged in the house for five days with a bout of the flu was enough to let me know I don’t plan to sit around when I retire. That’s simply the end of one journey. I plan more—but maybe not ones where a boss dictates what I do each day.
Nor do I plan to retire from God’s work. Neither does He want me to. God’s assignment for me may change numerous times during my lifetime. I’m learning to enjoy the journey of each assignment rather than looking for a completion point.
God has many lessons to teach during our various journeys. Working simply to get through with the task causes me to miss the important and beautiful things along the way.
Don’t focus so much on the end of your journey that you miss the beauty of the journey itself.

Prayer: Father, help us to enjoy the journeys You send us on—not merely to long for the end. 

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Acceptable Sacrifices - Martin Wiles

Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord. Psalm 4:5 NLT
“Jonestown” was synonymous with Guyana, 1978, and suicide.
Jonestown was the informal name for the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, a project of the Peoples Temple—a religious organization headed by Jim Jones. First formed in Indiana in the 1950s, they eventually moved their headquarters to San Francisco. The church’s goal was to enlighten those drugged by the opiate of religion.
Eventually, work began on the project in Guyana. Five hundred members began the construction, and others were encouraged to relocate to the “socialist paradise.” Jones was revered by his followers. Children called him “Dad,” and adults called him “Father” or “Dad.” An on-sight nursery witnessed the birth of 33 infants.
Concern in America surfaced. A delegation led by Congressman Leo Ryan traveled to investigate. After the meeting, and before he could board the plane to return stateside, Ryan was killed. Jones stirred up Jonestown inhabitants, telling them hostile forces would soon infiltrate the town, capture their children, and turn them to fascism.
Only one solution—one sacrifice—was tenable: “revolutionary suicide.” As Jones delivered his “death tape,” some members prepared a tub of Flavor-Aid laced with poison. On November 18, 1978, 918 people made a sacrifice. They assumed it was an acceptable one.
The psalmist encourages us to offer the right kind of sacrifices to God, but what are they?
Repentance must be the first. Without repentance, there is no forgiveness of sins. Without forgiveness, there is no connection to God and therefore no hope. Repentance is more than just sorrow for getting caught. It is an intentional move in a different direction.
In close connection with repentance is confession. Repentance is a one-time act where I move in God’s direction. Confession is my daily practice of admitting my failures and sins. When I repent, I’m given Christ’s righteousness, but I’m not perfect. Confession is my admission of that.
Thanks is another acceptable sacrifice. Thanking God for salvation, for forgiveness, for life, for guidance, for wisdom, for friends, for family. The list is endless. If not for Him, I would have nothing worth having and life wouldn’t be worth living.
The sacrifice of praise follows closely behind thanksgiving. Everything in life is worth praising God for. Praise for delivering me from hell down to praise that my liver is working properly.
Don’t give God just any sacrifice. Give Him acceptable ones.

Prayer: Father, help us to give You the sacrifices You are worthy of. 

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Flashback Friday - Discovering God's Purpose - Martin Wiles

Discovering God’s Purpose

I’m not very proficient in math, but this I know: the correct answer comes only by following the proper procedure.

For the first time this year, a grammar and Bible teacher had to teach a sixth grade math class. I accepted the challenge thinking: “How hard could it be teaching sixth grade math?” The headmaster comforted me; “Remember ‘My Dear Aunt Sally.’” Which means the order for solving problems with several operations is multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction. If I put division before multiplication or subtraction before addition, my answer will be incorrect. Read more...

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Always-Answered Phone Line - Martin Wiles

Answer me when I call to you, O God who declares me innocent. Free me from my troubles. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1 NLT
There’s only one phone line I don’t have to worry about being answered.
Phones have come a long way. The oldest one I remember was at my grandparents’ home. A rotary phone with no rotary. Just a circular face and a handset. But you couldn’t talk anytime you wished. My grandparents were on a party line—a shared line. If you heard people talking when you lifted the receiver, you could either listen (which my cousin and I often did) or politely say, “I’m sorry,” and hang up.
Then came the improved rotary phone that looked the same as the party line phone, but actually had a dial. Placing one’s finger in the slots and rotating the dial got the person you called, if they were home. Push button phones were next and made dialing a number quicker.
The cordless phone revolutionized the phone industry. No longer did I have to stand in one spot and talk. I could roam about the house, doing whatever I was doing while I talked. I could even walk outside.
But nothing revolutionized the phone industry as the cell phone did. To begin with, they were bag phones and had to be plugged into an outlet in one’s vehicle. Technology soon removed them. Now I carry it on my side wherever I go, and it serves as a computer as well. A long way from the first rotary phone I used that I had to take turns sharing with other people.
In spite of phone advancements, I can still choose to ignore someone’s call—as they can mine. The psalmist pleaded for God to answer him, to free him from his troubles, and to have mercy on him. I’ve made similar prayers on numerous occasions. While God could choose to ignore me—and sometimes it appears He might—He chooses to answer. And His answers aren’t limited by technology.
Busyness isn’t a problem for God. Unlike an operator, He can handle more than one call at a time. Some calls I make don’t give me comforting answers, but the ones I make to God always do. He knows the right thing to say and the right answer to give.
God’s answers to your prayers might not be what you were expecting or desiring, but His answer is always more powerful than your problem. Trust His answers, and call Him often.

Prayer: Father, thank You for continuously answering our prayer calls. 

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Fear Not - Martin Wiles

I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. Psalm 3:5 NLT
Peace ruled her days; fear governed her nights.
While my grandfather was alive, my grandmother wasn’t afraid. He was a hunter and owned a few weapons. Perhaps that was the reason. Or maybe it was just because he was a man, and she felt more secure with a man in her room at night to protect her from danger.
After my grandfather died, my grandmother’s nights changed. She lived in an old farmhouse where every room was connected to the other with a series of doors. Her bedroom had three. Though she locked all the outside doors, she still felt insecure. So she propped a chair underneath the doorknob of one of her bedroom doors and put latches on the other two. And that is how she slept—or didn’t, every night of her life as long as she stayed in that house. Yet, I doubt she slept in peace as she had when my grandfather was alive. Locks and barricades on the outside couldn’t keep away the fear on her inside.
The psalmist faced dangers as well, but he slept in peace. He was confident the Lord was watching over him.
I don’t always sleep in peace, but it’s not because I’m lying there afraid someone is going to break into my house and harm me. Fear can be crippling.
For believers, God is our shield. Better yet, He is like a wall of shields surrounding us. Regardless of what direction the attack from others, things, or circumstances comes, we are protected. There is nothing wrong with protecting ourselves. Doing so doesn’t necessarily reflect doubt that God is protecting us. I have weapons within my reach in my bedroom, but I still rely on God’s protection.
My sense of safety is found in my faith, not security measures. Faith is what initially connected me to a protecting God, and it is what keeps me relying on Him to protect me until I take my final breath. Though barricaded in her room, my grandmother was still afraid.
As Jesus said, others may kill my body—and God may allow this to happen—but they cannot kill my soul. That part of me will live on and is protected by God’s shield. And when I’m absent from this body—by whatever means—I’ll be at home with the Lord.
Don’t let fear cripple you. Trust in God’s protection.

Prayer: Father, we thank You for being a shield of protection about us. 

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Throwback Tuesday - What Fear Does - Martin Wiles

What Fear Does

Darkness and silence saturated the three-sided shelter my son and I slept in until the silence was shattered by banging pots and wild yelling.

We were on the Appalachian Trail and out for an overnight hike. My son wasn’t a fan of backpacking but had reluctantly agreed to go. Since bears were prevalent in the area, I took Roscoe (my .38) along just in case. Our hike to the trail shelter was uneventful, and we saw no other hikers until two young men sauntered along just before dusk and erected their tent near the shelter.

As darkness settled over the mountains, we hunkered down on the hard planked floors. My son fell fast asleep, but fear kept me awake. Read more...

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