Monday, July 16, 2018

Follow Directions - Martin Wiles

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 NLT
“Well, you told me to call if we got lost.”
My mom and stepdad were the recipients of a free time-share week in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Their friend who owned the timeshare was in the hospital and couldn’t use it, so she offered it to them for free. Not having been anywhere recently, they jumped at the offer.
But Mom and my stepdad had been having problems each time they went out of town: they would get lost. I sent her step-by-step directions. She printed them. My wife sent her turn-by-turn directions from Cherokee, North Carolina, to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We thought we had the bases covered. Surely, they wouldn’t get lost.
When she called, they were going the wrong way on Interstate 40. When they got to Cherokee, they got lost again. My wife stayed on the phone with my stepdad until she got them on the road to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. They finally arrived—one hour past check-in time—which meant they had to find another place to get the key. As I write this, I’m wondering if they’re going to make it home without getting lost again.
Mom and my stepdad listened to the directions we gave, but somehow something was lost in the translation when it came to actually doing what we said. First-century Christians must have had the same issue. James warned them not to merely hear God’s Word but to obey and do it.
God’s directions have purpose. He didn’t give them to make our lives miserable, but enjoyable. Knowing what’s best for us—whether we think so or not—God instructs us to follow His directions. I don’t always do a good job at that, but every time I go awry of them unfavorable consequences follow.
Although God doesn’t enjoy disciplining His children—as a parent doesn’t enjoy disciplining theirs—He will when He knows it’s in my interest. His disciplinary measures are designed to get me back on the right road—the road I’ve veered from.
As my wife and I were willing to help when Mom called, so God is eager to help us get back on the right road when we’ve taken a wrong one. All we have to do is ask. He’s never too busy to answer our cries for help.
Don’t risk traveling the wrong road in life. Turn to God for directions.

Prayer: Father, thank You for giving us directions that will always get us to Your desired destination. 

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Shining the Light - Martin Wiles

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 NKJV
There was room at the table, but I wondered whether or not I should sit. After all, I was a preacher.
My wife and I and a couple from church were out on the town. We had eaten at our favorite greasy-spoon restaurant and were now looking for something to do. As we rode through downtown, we noticed one of the local car clubs was having a show with live music.
We pulled into the parking place and noticed a friend sitting at the table with a couple. The young lady had recently birthed a premature baby who was on our prayer list at church. She and her boyfriend were enjoying a drink, as were all the others who sat at tables near them. We wanted to introduce ourselves and socialize, but I knew what some in the church might think if they saw me sitting there.
The thought of what Jesus might do entered my mind. He didn’t hang around with the church folks too much. An action that led them to accuse Him of socializing with the scum of the earth. They probably would have classified those at the tables as such. Jesus countered their accusations by telling them He hadn’t come for the well, but for the sick. The sick of spirit, the sick of emotion.
I decided I’d risk offending some church folks to please Jesus. The young man at the table asked how I knew our mutual friend. I told him I was her pastor. He didn’t appear shocked or say “I’m sorry” and discard his beer or cigarettes. But we enjoyed a pleasant conversation, told them were praying for their child, and invited them to church.
When we left to stroll through the car show, I felt a sense of peace—not guilt. I had done exactly as Jesus would have done. We had let our lights shine. We didn’t beat them over the head with the Bible or religious platitudes, but we did bring the love of Christ to the table in a non-threatening manner.
Jesus doesn’t want our lights to shine with pride—as the religious elite of His day did. He merely wants us to take Him into every situation we encounter. When we do, others will experience His love through our presence, our love, and our words.
Don’t hide your light. Let it shine.

Prayer: Father, lead us to those places and people where You would have us to shine our lights. 

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Flashback Friday - Holding God’s Hand - Martin Wiles

The first time was like a warm rush I’d never experienced before.

Holding hands normally accompanies the first date or even the puppy love stage before dating is allowed. The object of affection is all that runs through one’s mind. I remember mine. She haunted me during the night and occupied my mind throughout the day. I couldn’t focus. On our first date, my palms ached with sweat until her hand was finally entwined in mine. Read more...

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Living Triumphantly - Martin Wiles

And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. Colossians 1:27 NLT
Until he drew the Excalibur sword from the stone, he was a back-alley dweller.
“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” was a high-tech production with a plot I couldn’t follow. Arthur’s father had been murdered. His uncle, Vortigern, seized control of the throne and had Arthur assigned to back-alley living.
Vortigern increased his power by sacrificing people and feeding them to an octopus who lived in the bowels of the city. Arthur, meanwhile, lived out his days as a ruffian, not knowing his heritage. Brawling and vile living was his style. Until fate led him to grasp the legendary sword. Once the sword was removed from the stone, Arthur knew who he was. He defeated his uncle and assumed his rightful place as king of his kingdom.
Paul gives the secret of living triumphantly. Most of the Old Testament Jews had failed to do so. Perhaps now that the gospel was going to Gentiles, they might discover the secret those from previous generations had not: Christ lived in them.
Why anyone would want to live less than triumphantly, I’m not sure. But even though I want to, I often have not. Living triumphantly means I must die to sinful practices. In another place, Paul told believers to consider themselves dead to sin (Romans 6:11). Although I’ll never be sinless, I can live in such a way that sin is the exception rather than the rule. This is possible because Christ lives in me and promises to show me a way out of every sinful temptation.
I must also keep my body pure and clean—and not just with hygienic practices. As a believer, my body is a temple of God’s Spirit. As the people of the Old Testament kept the Tabernacle and later the Temple clean, I should keep all things out of my body that would harm it—physically, spiritually, emotionally.
Walking worthy of my calling is the other key to triumphant living. Arthur didn’t until he discovered who he was. I’m a child of the King too. God sees me as holy and blameless (Colossians 1:22) because I’m in Christ. Walking worthy of my calling means living out in practice the person I am in position.
Triumphant living should be your norm, and God gives you the power to do it. Lean on Him and watch your life transform.

Prayer: Father, prompt us to depend on Your power so that we might live triumphant lives. 

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Matter of Perspective - Martin Wiles

In the same way, when you obey me you should say, “We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty. Luke 17:10 NLT

My wife and I are the proud owners of one small Chihuahua and a cat of unknown breed. One is our official Granddog, and the other we adopted.

We often marvel at the difference in our animal’s personalities. For our dog, it’s about serving. But where the cat’s concerned, it’s about service. As long as we feed and pet the dog, he’s content. I can leave for 30 minutes, and when I return I’m greeted with a wagging tail, a bouncing body, a hug, and of course a lick in the ear.

The cat, on the other hand, has a serve me attitude. You owe me. Change my litter box. Feed me. Beg for my attention. And I just might come and sit in your lap or let you stroke my ears. No guarantees though.

Dogs recognize their duty to serve, but cats haven’t grasped the concept. Unfortunately, I don’t always either.

I’m trying desperately to learn what our dog knows: I was created to serve not be served. And of all the people I might choose to serve, God is the most important. Not that I serve him thinking he will reward me for my admirable service. Rather I serve him out of adoration and appreciation for forgiveness.

God doesn’t owe me anything, but I owe him everything. Serving him directly and through my service to others is the least I can do. Occasionally I act like our cat by reminding God how good I’ve been and by reciting my list of what I’d like him to do for me. But for the most part, I just revel in the fact that he loves me.

Are you serving in an attempt to become God’s child or because you already are?



Prayer: Father, remind us that when we serve You, we are simply doing our duty.


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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Throwback Tuesday - Preserving the Temple - Martin Wiles

Since I’ve been a young child, I’ve periodically neglected mine. Fortunately, it has held up amazingly well so far.

The human body is an awesome creation. While I’ve never allowed anyone to puncture it with needles and ink, I’ve abused it in other ways. It has withstood addictive and harmful substances placed in it by a reckless teenager and a less than responsible young adult. I’ve occasionally allowed it to suffer in appearance. And since I’ve always been a fan of junk food, my body has inhaled its share of unhealthy substances. Read more...

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