Saturday, February 24, 2018

Living with Anger - Martin Wiles

Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Psalm 37:8 NLT
His answer to the ills of his life was to stick out his bottom false teeth.
Ronnie was twice my age, but we soon became fast friends. His life had been a series of downturns. Most recently, back surgery. I was hired to make up for the work he couldn’t do because of his back limitations. He was on desk duty, so I became the gopher who did the heavy lifting in the warehouse.
I felt sorry for Ronnie. To be sure, he had made some bad financial decisions, but his surgery had set him back. Family members were almost non-existent—and so were friends. He borrowed from his workmates—a practice which put him further behind.
The thing that stood out the most about Ronnie was his angry attitude. I could understand his frustrations. His life had been and was tough. But to stay angry all the time? His anger wasn’t an episode; it was a state of being.
I was eventually laid off and moved away, and I lost track of Ronnie. Through a mutual friend, I found out he had contracted a disease and died. I asked my friend if he had changed, and he said, “He was the same ole Ronnie.” Sad.
The psalmist gives good advice when he says to stop being angry. While it’s possible to be angry and not sin, it is difficult. Most of our anger erupts in sinful attitudes, words, and actions. Being angry over sinful situations is permissible—and I should be as a Christian, but acting in sinful ways to remedy them isn’t.
Anger is often a result of my unwillingness to forgive those who harm me—or even to forgive God for the things I perceive Him as allowing or bringing into my life when He has the ability to prevent them. I think deep inside Ronnie was angry at God for his miserable life. Unforgiveness destines me to live in a perpetual state of anger. Forgiveness releases me from it.
Good anger will motivate me to use the adrenaline produced to act in beneficial ways. If I’m upset by abortion laws, I don’t shoot abortion doctors—but I can use my rights as a citizen to try to get them changed.
Don’t live in a state of bad anger. Rather, turn your anger into good actions that benefit God’s Kingdom.

Prayer: Father, take away our negative anger and replace it with actions that benefit others. 

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Flashback Friday - Success Ensured - Martin Wiles

Success Ensured

My two brothers and I grew up in a normal home (if there is such a thing). I suppose we also had normal expectations, but things didn’t materialize as we anticipated.

Our parents tended to our every need. Dad was a pastor, so he also cared for an extended family. We watched him and mom stick together through thick and thin. I suppose when we were young we imagined we’d have a storybook marriage like our parents with healthy kids and overall good health ourselves.

But life threw us curves our parents never experienced. Read more...

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Best Rest - Martin Wiles

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him. Psalm 37:7 NKJV
A good night’s rest is vital for good health, but what if it won’t come?
For sixteen years, I’ve had an erratic sleep pattern. Though I’ve never had a sleep study performed, I attribute it to age and a spastic mind. Lying awake for an hour before going back to sleep is normal. And of course, when I wake up, I must make a trip to the bathroom.
When the alarm sounds, I normally feel as if I haven’t been to bed. Some days, I supplement my restless night with a short lunchtime nap. I suppose the doctor would prescribe medication to help me sleep, but I hesitate to add another medicine to my ever-growing list. I long for the days when I slept an entire night and for the energy I had when I awoke.
Thankfully, there’s an alternate rest that has nothing to do with closing my eyes or entering into a different state of mind. The psalmist classifies it as resting in the Lord and couples it with waiting patiently on Him. This type of rest I can master.
I often associate resting and waiting with inactivity. I rest in my recliner; I wait in the doctor’s waiting room. But I’m normally not inactive while doing either. I read a book, watch television, or look at my iPhone. Resting in the Lord is similar. I rest by not being anxious. I believe He is in control, has a plan for my life, and is actively working to accomplish that plan. My part is to keep doing the last thing He told me until I receive further instructions.
David, the psalmist, was familiar with this type of resting and waiting. God had sent the prophet Samuel to anoint him as the next king of Israel, but it was a number of years before he actually assumed the throne. In the meantime, he kept doing what he had been doing: minding the sheep.
Resting in the Lord and waiting patiently on Him also means realizing God’s timetable is often different than mine. What seems like an eternity to me may only be seconds in God’s mind. His timing involves my readiness, and sometimes it takes long periods of time for me to prepare for what He has in store.
Let God teach you how to enjoy the best rest—whether you sleep well at night or not.

Prayer: Father, teach us to rest in You as we wait patiently for You to accomplish Your best in our lives. 

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Giving Control - Martin Wiles

Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. Psalm 37:5 NLT
I wanted it as a teenager, but circumstances were against me.
I was raised in a culture of strict rules and regulations. As a part of the Baby Boomer generation, I fought for control of a society I pictured as oppressive and unfair. My parents were raised in homes where conformity was expected, and they brought their strict rules into their parenting culture. Eighteen was the magic number I longed for. When I reached it, I moved out immediately and took control of my life.
Many years later, I look back on my upbringing and appreciate the boundaries my parents inflicted. In fact, I made similar ones for my children and grandchildren.
Wanting control of our lives and situations is parcel to human nature. Giving control to others goes against the grain. The psalmist challenges the norm and instructs me to commit everything to the Lord. To give Him control. When I do, He will help me.
I’ve learned the truth of the imperative. When I attempt to control things without God’s guidance or input, I mess them up every time. Things may seem to go well initially, but trouble is on the horizon. God created us with the hope that we’d let Him control our lives, but from the very beginning we attempted to snatch control away from Him.
Giving God control of my life and circumstances is a choice. He will not force Himself upon me, and He will let me experience the consequences of my poor choices.
Giving God control takes a large leap of faith. Faith that He exists, that He wants to be involved in my life’s affairs, that He actually has the ability to control them in a way that’s best for me, and that He knows what’s best better than I do.
Allowing God to have control also takes prayer. Prayer is needed before I make a decision, while I’m making the decision, and after I make the decision.
God wants to be in the driver’s seat, but He won’t assume the position unless I willingly give it to Him. He created humans with free will—which gives me the ability to control things myself if I so desire. But I’ll only know true success when I commit everything to Him by saying, “God, take control.”
Give God the control He wants and deserves.

Prayer: Father, we commit everything we do and say to You, believing we will receive Your blessings in return. 

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Throwback Tuesday - Neither Condoned nor Condemned - Martin Wiles

Neither Condoned nor Condemned

They dragged her before the judge and with snarling smiles chimed, “She deserves to die.” 

Unfaithfulness was the charge. Perhaps her first time. In the heat of the moment, she gave into a temptation she would otherwise have never considered. Perhaps it was her lifestyle, and now she had been caught. The penalty was death by stoning. After the conviction, her accusers—followed by anyone else who wanted to join the massacre, would gather stones and pummel her body until it lay motionless in the dust. Read more...

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Delighted - Martin Wiles

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Psalm 37:4 NLT
The doctor said none, but he said some.
Like his father, Dad loved to eat ice cream—and did every night before he went to bed. At a certain time, he would make his way to the kitchen, place several large scoops in a bowl, and delight in what he loved.
Then he developed heart valve trouble. The doctor instructed him on what he should and should not eat. On the should-not-eat list was what he delighted in the most: ice cream. When the doctor told him to lay off the ice cream, he said, “I’ve been eating ice cream all of my life, and I don’t intend to stop now.” 
Dad kept his word. He continued eating ice cream, though he did cut down on the amount. Instead of a large bowl, he used a smaller bowl. As he prepared for his second heart valve replacement—the one that would lead to his death, he requested a popsicle, the closest thing we could get to ice cream at the moment. And my wife and I gave him his heart’s desire.
The psalmist connects delighting in the Lord with having his heart’s desires met. Evidently, he was right because Jesus would later say, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
To delight in someone is to please them greatly. The way I please God is to love Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. All my energy will be focused toward serving Him, praising Him, and honoring Him with my words, actions, and attitudes. This is the condition for Him giving me the desires of my heart.
When I love God with my entire being, the desires I have will match His desires for me. God never promises to give me anything I want. His Word will instruct me on the things I should delight in, so when I ask for anything it will be for those things that will promote my spiritual growth and advance God’s Kingdom in this world.
The list of things I can delight in and desire are myriad, but delighting in the Lord will keep me focused on the most important things.
Delight in the Lord. You’ll be amazed by what He does in your life.

Prayer: Father, we take delight in You and anticipate the things You will grant us to do Your work with. 

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Searcher - Martin Wiles

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23 NLT
I bounced all three and watched them disappear.
Gumball machines and bouncy ball machines. Just about every store had them, and almost every child wanted something from them. The highlight of any trip to a store was asking my parents or grandparents for a coin so I could get a bouncy ball or a piece of chewing gum.
On one trip, my grandmother gave me enough money to purchase three bouncy balls. I planned to bounce all three at once and see if I could catch them. Standing in the hallway of my grandmother’s old house, I aimed all three at the floor. When they came back down to earth, they scattered in all direction, never to be seen again. My grandmother and I searched the house for weeks. We looked under beds, in closets, in drawers. Anywhere a stray ball might attempt to hide. But our search was fruitless. 
The psalmist appealed to a better searcher than I was: God. Although God knew where my balls were, I didn’t figure He cared, so I never prayed and asked Him to show me. I imagined He was concerned with more important things—things such as the psalmist talks about. Things like searching my heart. Or searching for the cause of my spiritual anxiety.
God is the master searcher. The hound of heaven. And I’m glad He is. Had He not searched my heart and searched for me, I would never have known I was a sinner who needed His saving grace. His conviction—searching, clued me in so I could confess and repent.
God also searches for other reasons. Without His searching, I might never know what is causing my anger, frustration, depression, and disappointment. Perhaps it’s a sin issue. God’s Word searches my heart as I read it. Perhaps my anger is erupting from an unforgiving spirit. God’s Spirit can reveal that to me. If my spiritual life is off track, God can search my heart and show me. When the events of life have made me anxious, God searches and comforts. There is absolutely nothing beyond the searchlight of God’s Spirit. Though my search was fruitless, His never is.
Don’t live with denial, anger, uncertainty, or anxiety. Let God search your heart and reveal how healing can take place. He will give you wisdom for every decision.

Prayer: Father, search our hearts and reveal any issues we need to let You heal. 

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