Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fruit Inspector - Martin Wiles

You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Matthew 7:16 NLT

What looks good outwardly can occasionally be disappointing. 

I’m not a fruit inspector—at least not by profession. But I do inspect fruit before I purchase it. When selecting apples and oranges, I look for bruises or soft spots. If I’m buying a bag of Irish potatoes, I make sure there are no rotten spots. Bananas can’t be bruised or overripe. 

Some fruit, however, has the ability to trick me. I recall one bag of black grapes I bought. They had all the appearances of being ripe and sweet, but when I popped the first one in my mouth, it was sour. So was the entire bunch. Since grapes don’t ripen once removed from the vine, I had to throw them away. I’ve purchased a few watermelons and cantaloupes that fooled me also. Unlike grapes, however, they will continue to ripen, so if I’m patient I’ll eventually experience a good taste. 

Jesus instructed me to be a fruit inspector, whether I get paid for it or not. 

Just as some fruits appear to be ripe but aren’t, some people will appear to be Jesus’ disciples but will actually be false teachers—wolves in sheep’s clothing. 

Jesus’ admonition reminds me I have the capability to deceive others. 

Through my actions, emotions, words, and attitudes, I have the power to portray my identity, but I can also disguise my identity by those same means. When I curtail them to fit a certain situation or display certain ones when around specific people, I define myself as someone particular—genuine or hypocritical. 

God has the ability to know my heart. 

I do too. I may succeed in fooling others about my true identity, but in my heart I know whether I’m being true to my inner self. So does God. That’s why He pricks my conscience when the two don’t match up. He doesn’t want me leading others astray; nor does He want me fooling myself. Not only must I inspect others’ fruit, but I also must inspect mine. 

Cultivating my vine through spiritual disciplines so I’ll bear more fruit—that’s ripe, sweet, and delicious, is vital. 

When others inspect me, I want them to find abundant good fruit, but I don’t want them to discover hypocrisy. 

Make sure the spiritual fruit you’re producing is sweet to others’ taste.

Prayer: Father, may the fruit we produce show others we are Your children.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Throwback Tuesday - Martin Wiles

Inconvenienced for Jesus

Inconvenienced? Yes, but worth enduring because of the pleasure it brought. 

Camping in the backcountry carries many inconveniences, among them acquiring water. Securing water is not actually the major hassle; making it safe to drink is. Most water sources are contaminated, and consuming it unpurified puts one at major risk for illness. Several methods are available: boiling, iodine tablets, and filtering. The most convenient way…but one that carries a small risk, is pumping it through a filtering system. This renders it immediately drinkable and leaves no aftertaste. Read more...


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Monday, March 27, 2017

Forgiveness, God’s Business - Martin Wiles

I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. Exodus 34:7 NLT

Forgiveness is never easy, but when it involves the death of an unborn child, it becomes extremely 
challenging.

A pastor friend in India shared a disturbing story with me. Hindu fanatics carrying pistols, rods, and knives entered a church, attacked the pastor, his seven-month pregnant wife, and their daughter, and then tried to set the wife on fire. Fortunately, the family escaped. Less than a month later, my friend emailed to tell me the wife’s unborn child had died in her womb—a result of injuries received during the attack. Now she has a forgiveness decision to make. 

Throughout the Bible, God portrays Himself as a forgiving God. While He has standards and will punish those who stubbornly break those standards, He is more than willing to forgive those who recognize their sins and run to Him for help.

God never holds our past against us.

I have a past, you have a past, all God’s creations have a past. We can’t erase it; we can only deal with it. I’ve known a few people who wouldn’t come to God for forgiveness because they thought their past was too sordid for Him to forgive. Forgiveness is God’s business, and no sin in our past is greater than His ability and desire to forgive it. He willingly and joyfully forgives anything we ask Him to.

Understanding why God is able to forgive makes it easier to request His forgiveness. 

If His forgiveness is based on my ability to compensate for bad things I’ve done, I’ll never receive it. But God’s forgiveness is based on Jesus’ work on the cross, not my righteousness. Since Christ was perfect—and since His work on the cross was too, God can forgive any and all sin without violating His holy nature. The only condition is that I ask and believe.

God’s forgiveness has no limit—other than the limit I place on it by not asking.

When Jesus told Peter the disciple that he should forgive someone seventy times seven times if they asked, He was offering what represented a limitless number. God operates the same way. 

Believe God can forgive any sin you’ve committed. Then get on with serving Him.

Prayer: Father, we thank You for Your willingness to forgive when we come to You in repentance. 

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Giving the Best - Martin Wiles

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9 NLT

Doing again what I had already done 30 years before was somewhat of a surreal experience.

Five candidates and I were instructed to sit directly in front of the presiding bishop. We were ordinands and would soon be ordained by the presiding bishop. But the difference between me and them was that I had already done this many years before in another denomination. Though the doctrine and governing style between the two denominations was slightly different, the ordination process was similar—yet still touching. 

The bishop instructed us on the seriousness of the process and related what its purpose was. Then one by one, we were called to the stage for the presiding board to lay hands on and pray for us, separating us for the preaching and teaching of the gospel. 

Once again, I was reminded that God demands my best. If anybody could have tired of doing good things, Paul certainly could have. His zeal for spreading the gospel to the Jews and the pagan world was equally as fierce as was his persecution of Christians before he met the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. 

Paul traveled the known world on numerous mission trips, endeavoring to present everyone with the opportunity to trust in Jesus Christ. He gave his best until he was finally put to death for doing his best.

Prior to meeting the risen Christ, Paul’s fervor was probably an attempt to earn acceptance with God. He was, after all, a Pharisee—a religious leader who had studied under a master teacher and who obeyed the Old Testament law zealously. New understanding, however, dawned on him after his Damascus Road encounter. Now he worked to tell others that they couldn’t work to attain salvation.

Salvation can’t be earned through my good works, but I will want to do them when Jesus has entered my life. He is my example, and studying His life reveals that He spent the majority of His time serving others. 

Christianity is somewhat ironic. 

God promises persecution, but He also promises peace and abundance. 

In the midst of trying circumstances and persecution, I can find peace, joy, and fulfillment by taking my eyes off myself and putting servant hands on others. 

Give God your best by obeying Him and serving others.

Prayer: Father, as You have given Your best for us, prompt us to give our best for You.

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