Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Road of No Return - Martin Wiles

For soon I must go down that road from which I will never return. Job 16:22 NLT

Roads are as different as people.

I’ve driven down mountain roads that twist and turn. Other roads are as straight as an arrow. Long stretches reach into the distance, and one can see for miles on end. 

Then there are the more common roads peppered with potholes. Recently, I’ve seen something new: variegated roads. Their appearance is explained by the cost-saving efforts of local highway departments. Instead of re-asphalting the entire road, the workers simply fill in the cracks, leaving an odd appearance. 

I’ve traveled on roads where towns are separated by many miles and on others where I encounter a town every few miles. 

But never have I traveled a road from which there was no return—a road that disappeared from behind me as I traveled it. Every road I’ve ever been on, I could turn around and go back the same way I came. Job, however, introduces a road of no return. 

Job’s road of no return was death. Once he traversed it, he could not return. Nor can I. And I can’t escape traveling it either. While driving, I can typically avoid certain roads by taking an alternate route. Not so with death. Unless I’m alive when Jesus returns, I will travel death’s highway.

When I travel this road, I can’t take anyone or anything along. No possessions or family members. No stocks or bonds. Or play toys. Not even my body. My immortal soul is the only thing I’ll take. The real me. I won’t enter into soul sleep nor will I be annihilated. 

The destination of this road is one of two places: heaven or hell. Which destination I reach is my choice—a choice made while I’m alive. What I do with Jesus in life doesn’t determine whether or not I travel the road of no return, but it does determine my final destination. 

Once I’ve traveled the road of no return, I can’t come back to warn others about where I’ve ended up or to encourage them to visit where I am. My chances of telling others about heaven and hell are over. 

I have no choice but to travel the road of no return, but I can choose where the road takes me. Where will it take you?

Prayer: Father, we thank You that the road of no return leads to an eternity with You when we make the proper preparations.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Throwback Tuesday - Martin Wiles

Temptation-Have To or Want To?

“Let’s get something to drink.” The offer disembarked from a deacon’s son who attended my church…and he wasn’t referring to a soft drink. 

My consensus began a long and shameful journey into the world of alcohol. Christians debate whether alcohol is permissible or forbidden. For me it was prohibited, but my philosophy didn’t prevent me from taking the trip.

For the next six years, I sporadically visited the bottle…sometimes in moderation, sometimes not. Read more...


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Monday, December 5, 2016

How Not to Be a Miserable Comforter - Martin Wiles

I have heard all this before. What miserable comforters you are! Job 16:2 NLT

Being a helpful comforter is more difficult than being a miserable comforter. 

When others share their painful situations, I’m sometimes a miserable comforter. Whether I ask them or not, I wonder in my mind what gruesome sin they have committed that has resulted in their dire straits. Or worse yet, I’ve uttered some infamous statements: “I know how you feel,” or “Let me know if you need anything.” Then I walk off, end the text, or hang up the phone never to check on them again.

Job’s situation was almost beyond description. He lost roughly everything he had. The comfort his friends gave consisted of “You have sinned against God. You need to confess.” Job’s wife told him to curse God and die. In the midst of excruciating circumstances, Job received a large dose of miserable comfort. 

If I want to avoid being a miserable comforter, I must show understanding. Perhaps the person I’m comforting has sinned and is suffering the consequences. Remembering that I’m not above sin myself enables me to provide proper comfort. Since no one is perfect, no one is beyond any particular sinful act. Often, as in Job’s case, the painful situation is through no fault of the sufferer. Suffering can merely be a consequence of living in a fallen world. 

Good comforters listen. Miserable comforters do all the talking. Those passing through troubled waters may need to vent. I should let them without judging. Venting can be a part of the healing process.

Miserable comforters don’t pray with the person who is hurting. Good comforters do. Not prayers of pomposity but sincere prayers for the person who is suffering that God would grant them comfort, wisdom, and guidance.

Good comforters aren’t afraid to cry with the one who is suffering. Shedding tears with them is one way to help them carry their burden. 

Miserable comforters use clichés and religious platitudes; good comforters avoid them. The one suffering doesn’t need to hear, “Time heals all wounds,” “I know how you feel,” or “God just needed another angel in heaven.” Clichés and holier than thou attitudes—even when given sincerely, won’t help the one who needs comfort. 

And when the timing is right, sharing comfort from God’s Word is always appropriate. Job’s friends tried this, but their interpretations were wrong. 

What steps can you take to avoid being a miserable comforter?

Prayer: Father, help us share with others the type of comfort You give us when we are hurting. 

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Moving Beyond Betrayal - Martin Wiles

Then David sent for her (Bathsheba), and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. 2 Samuel 11:4 NLT

“I’ve had an affair.” The confession is common. 

Though statistics reveal that most marriages don’t survive unfaithfulness, marriages don’t have to end because of it. Moving beyond betrayal and saving a marriage is entirely possible. When betrayal has occurred, several questions must be asked and answered.

Is forgiving the right thing to do? 
From God’s perspective, forgiveness is always appropriate. Although it may seem impossible, forgiveness should be immediate. As God forgives us when we commit sins against Him, so we must forgive others. His forgiveness is tied to our forgiveness of others (Matthew 6:14-15). While I can’t forgive in my own power, I can with God’s (Philippians 4:13). 

Forgiveness may have to be repeated numerous times. The betrayer might not deserve forgiveness, but forgiving is more for my benefit than for theirs. If the betrayer has confessed, expressed sorrow, asked for forgiveness, and reiterated their love, they have shown signs of true repentance.

What does God want me to do?
God hates divorce; He wants marriages to last. Sometimes it’s impossible, but many that fail could be saved. While God permits divorce on the grounds of adultery, He never insists that divorce must take place. That—like unfaithfulness, is a choice. Partners who are willing to work diligently can experience a stronger marriage on the other side of unfaithfulness.

Can I live with my betrayer without trusting them?
Forgiveness and trust aren’t identical. I can forgive without trusting. Trust is like a credit rating. One unwise decision can affect both. And like a credit rating, trust takes years to fully bloom. The question is whether the betrayer is doing their best to restore trust in the marriage. 

Do I have to know all the details?
When betrayal happens, adverb questions are common: how, when, where, how often, to what extent, why, and under what conditions. Knowing more makes it more difficult to forgive and re-establish trust. Settle for the simple fact that they have betrayed. 

Can I live with my betrayer without bringing up the incident again?
Re-hashing the incident impedes healing. So does assigning blame. God doesn’t keep bringing up our sins (Psalm 103:12).

What was it about my spouse that initially led me to love them?
Build up the betrayer through prayer and encouragement. Love them unconditionally. Remember, none of us are beyond sin—betrayal included. 

Keeping a marriage intact in the face of betrayal is possible. Let God move you beyond betrayal.

Prayer: Father, help us to forgive those who betray us even as You forgive us when we betray You through sinful acts. 

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