Saturday, January 16, 2021

Set Out for God - Martin Wiles

I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:8 NKJV

Some things I set before me regularly.

One is my computer. I lived without it more years than I have lived with it, but presently I can’t imagine doing life without it. It’s the first thing I set before me in the morning when I write, and it’s the first thing I put on my desk when I arrive at school to teach. I need it to take attendance, do lesson plans, research items for classroom discussion, and display information for the students on the overhead.

Two other items I position before me are my black and my red pens. Black for normal writing and red for grading. In a year, I use up several red pens.

Also put before me on my desk at school is my cup of coffee and my cup of water. I can’t imagine facing a day with no Java. One cup before I leave the house for work and another cup to sip on until around ten in the morning. Then, I gravitate to the water.

Yet another set of items positioned before me are my eye drops. To stave off glaucoma and to manage my dry-eye disease, I place three sets of eye drops in my eyes several times each day. They keep my eyes from blurring and my world from going black.

One other thing that rests before me—which I didn’t set there—are troubles. They seem to come on a regular basis throughout life. Just a part of the journey. Sometimes because of poor decisions. At other times because of living in a sin-decorated world.

The psalmist set a more important thing before him: the Lord. I’ve done that too. When I was nine, I made the decision to set the Lord before me. And with few exceptions, I’ve made it a practice to set Him before me regularly. When I don’t, life gets squirrely.

But how do I set someone I can’t see or tangibly interact with before me? When I read and meditate on Scripture, I set God before me. Those are His words, given to writers through the inspiration of God’s Spirit. This makes them important…life-giving.

I set God before me through my petitions. He knows what I need—and want—but He wants to hear the requests. This expresses my faith…and matures it.

Placing God before us consistently is essential. Doing it sporadically doesn’t give us the abundant life Jesus offers. Doing so requires intentionality, but it’s possible and results in the best life possible.

God’s storehouse is full of blessings He’s waiting to share with you. Set Him before you each day and experience them.

Prayer: Father, give us the faith to set You before us each day.

Tweetable: What are you setting out for God? 

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Friday, January 15, 2021

Flashback Friday - Security in Christ - Martin Wiles

Security in Christ

For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. Colossians 2:9 NLT

What appears secure sometimes isn’t. Money in banks may have appeared secure prior to 1933, but a bank panic could easily close a bank. People who feared a bank might close ran to the bank and withdrew their money. Since banks kept only a portion of the depositor’s money on hand, runs would result in depositors attempting to withdraw more money than a bank had on hand. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was established in 1933 to prevent such future losses. The FDIC has the responsibility of insuring a commercial bank’s deposits up to a certain amount so depositors don’t lose their money should the bank fail. Even though banks still fail, the FDIC ensures depositors won’t lose their money. Read more...

Tweetable: Where do you find your security? 

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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Gifted to Go - Martin Wiles

Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. Exodus 31:2-3 NLT

He wanted to sign his name…but couldn’t.

As the end of the school year approached, I taught students how to write a few types of letters they would need at some time in their lives: business, cover, query, friendly. I explained the format and showed them examples on the overhead and in their books.

All went well—until we got to the end. I instructed them to print their name at the end, but to leave a couple of spaces between it and their closing for their signature.

One of my more astute students raised his hand and said, “I don’t know how to write in cursive.”

No one laughed because some of them didn’t know how to either. While we teach cursive writing at our school, not all schools do, and some students who have been homeschooled don’t learn it either. 

Knowing that even in our techy world students still needed to know how to sign their names, I walked over to the whiteboard and wrote the student’s name in cursive. I gave him one thing he needed to succeed in life.

God did the same for Bezalel. He was one of the individuals God gifted to help build the elements the Tabernacle would house. This tent preceded the Temple, later built by Solomon, but contained the same items. Since this building represented God’s presence with the people, it needed to be built with care and reverence. So, God gifted those He charged with building and furnishing it.

God does the same for His followers today. In several places, the Bible lists spiritual gifts that God gives His children. We all have at least one—and many have more than one. It’s even possible that the lists are not exhaustive.

Regardless of our gift(s), God’s design is for us to use them. If we don’t, He’ll likely take them away and bless someone else with them. When we use them, we help fulfill the overall purpose for existence—to build His Kingdom—and we accomplish temporary goals God assigns during our life’s journey.

Once we discover our gifts, we should ask God for opportunities to use them. A part of the asking is putting ourselves in a place that would be a likely area for God to use us. Asking God to give me a teaching opportunity, but not attending church, wouldn’t make much sense.

Life is better when we use our gifts in service to God and others. Go with what God has gifted you with.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the gifts. Give us opportunities to use them.

Tweetable: Are you using your gifts? 

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Bottled-up Tears - Martin Wiles

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 NLT

With a 6 ¼-ounce glass Coke bottle, he defrosted freezers.

With few exceptions, such as at grocery stores, my grandfather knew nothing about putting ice cream in freezers that didn’t need defrosting. The ice cream freezers his company donated to customers—or the ones the customers themselves owned—were not frost-free. Over time, chunks of ice accumulated on the sides, making it difficult to stock the boxes of ice cream in them neatly.

When the ice reached a certain level, my grandfather would look for an empty Coke crate in the store. These were the days when a person could return empty bottles for a small deposit of money. Store owners kept the empty crates after they put the bottles in the distributing machines.

My grandfather walked to the crate, picked up a small Coke bottle, and went to work, using the bottom of the bottle to knock the ice loose from the sides of the freezer. Within five minutes, he had defrosted the freezer and tossed the ice outside in the hot sun to melt.

Nothing like a good bottle. I remember when companies first put their soda products in aluminum cans. I hated it. It changed the entire taste of the product. Then came plastic bottles. This improved the taste a little, but nothing tastes like a soda—or any other drinkable liquid product—packaged in a bottle. The product also stays colder. Give me a bottle any day.

The psalmist enjoyed bottles too. Not for drinking, but because God bottled his tears in them. He had many sorrows during his lifetime—as most of us do. But God took note of them and bottled them up.

God does the same for anyone. He loves us with unconditional love and notices our life’s sorrows. Some tears He sends to mature us or to stretch our faith, but many come because we live in a sin-infested world where things break down and go awry.

But God does more than notice our sorrows. He bottles them, giving us the strength to endure each one, no matter how intense they are. By depending on the guidance of His Spirit, we discover the strength to put one foot in front of the other when we don’t think we can. We grieve, but we keep moving until things change—or until we accept our new norm.

Coke bottles eventually increased in size, and God’s bottle is large enough to handle all your tears. Put them in His bottle.

Prayer: Father, thank You for bottling our tears so we can move on with life.

Tweetable: Are your tears bottled up? 

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Throwback Tuesday - Give What You Can and How You Should - Martin Wiles

When the bottom falls out, the money often follows.

Dropping from 50K annually to 13K was a shock…not only to me but also to my creditors. My bills were calculated around the higher number, so the appearance of the lower presented a challenge. I wasn’t Jesus. I couldn’t multiply the 13K and pay what the 50K once did. 

I struggled with a decision: give my tithes and chance a few bills going unpaid, or give and trust God to make up the difference. I consulted my pastor about my unsought after dilemma. He understood and assured me God did as well. Life can be sprinkled with those temporary times when I can’t give what my heart desires…but I can give something.

Money would have helped this poor beggar, but Peter had none. What he did have, however, was more life-changing. Money would only have carried him through temporarily; healing—physical and spiritual--took him much farther. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Acts 3:6 NLT

Regardless of how much I give, there are some elements that should characterize what I give. Cheerfulness is one. If I give grudgingly, the church can still use my money, but God isn’t pleased with the gift. I give happily because God has given me so much.

Regularity is another. Paying my bills and establishing a budget is easier when I have consistent income. God’s work is no different. Whether I give weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly is unimportant. Regularity is.

Giving proportionately and sacrificially is also essential. Whatever percent I decide upon, it should be representative of my income. When it is, it will hurt to give it. The pain reveals I’m giving proportionally.

Time and talents are also involved in my giving. God wants more than my money. He wants me…totally. He expects and enjoys it when I’m faithful with what he has entrusted to me.

Are you thanking God by your giving?

Prayer: Father, Your mercies and gifts are new every morning. Prompt us to use them faithfully in Your service.

Tweetable: How's your giving? 

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Monday, January 11, 2021

Checking Off the Bucket List - Martin Wiles

“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket, she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?” John 4:11 NLT

Sometimes, when you look for a bucket, you get a well.

A bucket list. Often, those who have them have received horrific medical news. They will soon die, so they make a list of things they’d like to do before they die.

I’ve not received a death sentence from a doctor, but I do have things I’d like to accomplish before I die. Such as living in the mountains. As my retirement nears, my wife and I are planning how we might swing this item on my bucket list. I’d also like to visit Europe, especially Germany. And I’d also like to meet in person the friends I have who live far away. Such as my missionary friend in India and my pastor friend in Africa.

The woman at the well had a bucket list too. She tired of coming to the well every day to draw water. Neither did she enjoy coming at the hottest part of the day, but her reputation dictated it. She also had a greater thirst than the physical one that haunted her daily. Dead-end relationships seemed her lot in life.

Jesus told her how she could check her need off her bucket list: accept Him and receive living water that would eternally quench her thirst. Fortunately, she drank and checked all those items off her bucket list.

Some things everyone needs on their bucket list—whether they received frightening medical news or not. After all, we’re all going to die, or our earthly lives will end at Jesus’ Second Coming.

One is to experience satisfaction regardless of life’s situations. We can because Jesus controls them.

Another involves knowing Jesus better. We should never be satisfied where we are in our spiritual walk.

A third entails loving others more than we do ourselves. A selfless attitude.

A fourth includes witnessing of God’s goodness to others, as the woman did after she drank from Jesus’ well.

A fifth requires using the spiritual gifts and natural talents God gives us to serve Him and others.

A final entails being a source of life for others.

Drinking of Jesus’ living water puts a well inside of us that will never empty. It will keep us satisfied—with enough left over to share with others.

Let your well be a source of life for others.

Prayer: Father, may we be the source that creates a bottomless well in others.

Tweetable: What's on your bucket list and why?

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Saturday, January 9, 2021

Attitudes and Actions - Martin Wiles

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Philippians 2:5 NLT

The sound pierced the early morning silence of my classroom.

As a teacher, arriving at school early provides the only quiet time of the day, so I take advantage of the silent moments until the students begin arriving thirty minutes ahead of time.

But one day, a blaring announcement from our marketing manager disturbed that silence: “Attention, students. I’ll be making a clean sweep this morning and removing any extras I see. We have tours this morning, so make sure you clean up around your lockers.”

Our manager takes her job seriously, so making a good first impression is important. Following her announcement, I heard several elementary students talking outside of my room. One immediately began cleaning her locker out—not just around it as the announcement had instructed. Not only did she clean her locker out, but she instructed all other students who arrived to do the same.

“Mrs. ____ said to clean our lockers out, or she will throw our stuff away.”

I teach middle school students, and I wondered if their reaction would be the same. I knew better. Their attitude would be more like, “Yeah, whatever. Throw my stuff away. Less I have to clean up.” Or, “Let someone else pick up that clutter.”

Attitude determines action. Paul instructed us to have the same attitude as Christ. Though He was God, he did not let that prevent Him from coming to earth and dying a criminal’s death on a cross for humanity.

Three attitudes are worth adopting—and will make a huge difference in our resulting actions. One is putting others ahead of self. Jesus did. Had He not, we would have died for our sins and spent an eternity in hell. During His early ministry, He did the same. The needs of others occupied His time.

The second attitude involves serving. Jesus served others more than He did Himself. Feeding, healing, teaching. All things He spent His days doing.

The third attitude entails sacrifice. Instead of letting us pay for our sins, God let Jesus do it. He sacrificed in death, but also in life.

God wants us to love Him supremely and others as ourselves. When we do, we won’t have a problem serving and sacrificing for others, the world will be a better place, and we’ll live more fulfilling lives.

Think of at least one act of service you can perform for someone else.

Prayer: Father, let your attitude be like that of Christ’s.

Tweetable: What are your attitudes and actions? 

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