Friday, December 2, 2022

Tiger in the Tank - Martin Wiles

tiger in the tank
In whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Ephesians 1:13 NKJV

I wanted a tiger in the tank worse than ever—and I didn’t even have a tank.

Fake tiger tails were popular in the early seventies when I was a middle schooler. The mascot, the tiger, had first appeared for Esso in Norway around the turn of the twentieth century, but it didn’t make its United States’ debut until the end of World War II. In 1959, Emery Smith, a young Chicago copywriter, created the slogan, “Put a tiger in your tank.”

In the early 1960s, motorists from all over the world tied fake tiger tails to the gas tanks on their cars, which at the time were located behind the rear license plate. They also sported bumper stickers that read, “I’ve got a tiger in my tank.” More than 2.5 million tails were sold in the United States alone.

And I wanted one. Some Esso gas stations, which provided full-service care to customers’ cars at the time, gave away these fake tiger tails. Every time my dad drove to a station for a fill-up, I hoped the attendant would give me a tiger tail. He never did. Now, I have lived almost to retirement age and have never owned one. 

The tiger and the tiger tail represented a power source, but according to Paul, believers possess a better power source. When we choose to follow Christ, He seals us with His Spirit—sometimes called the Comforter or Helper. Christ places His inscription on the seal, and it cannot be removed.

God’s seal of the Spirit contains more power than any fuel I might put in my vehicle. Fuel in the tank gives out after I’ve driven so many miles, but God’s power never runs out. I may feel as if I’m running on empty when life’s circumstances get a little crazy, but I’m never without God’s energy.

God’s power source possesses enough content to get us through any trial we face—and sometimes they come with great intensity and seem to bunch up. But God’s power carries the momentum we need to fulfill God’s plan, regardless of what we must go through to see that plan come to fruition.

Perhaps the most comforting fact about the force which resides in us relates to the peace we have. 

This peace passes understanding, and we can experience it regardless of circumstances. It’s a peace we can’t explain, but can experience, nevertheless. A peace others who don’t have our power source seek.

When life seems overwhelming, remember the power source with which God has sealed you.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the power of Your Spirit that resides in us. 

Tweetable: Do you have the tiger in your tank? 


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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Down in the Dust of Discouragement - Martin Wiles

down in the dust
I lie in the dust, completely discouraged; revive me by your word. Psalm 119:25 NLT

Rejections can put us down in the dust.

Writers know about rejection. The only way to avoid it is never to send anything out for publication.

We hear such things as “We’re sorry. We are not receiving manuscripts at this time,” or “We’d like to hold your devotional for further consideration.”

Then ten minutes later, another email arrives saying they decided not to use it after all. When rejection letters or emails come, I want to put down the pen—or, in my case, the keyboard. What’s the use? I think. No one wants to read my stuff anyway. Feelings of worthlessness can follow. Before long, I’m in the dust.

Why the psalmist was discouraged, I’m not sure. Perhaps he had witnessed the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by invading armies. Maybe, he wondered if it would ever be rebuilt or if he would ever return to his homeland. Whatever the source, he was down in the dust.

Satan loves to put believers in the dust. He’s had me there quite a few times. On one occasion, I had been out of work and sent out hundreds of resumes applying for positions in my profession, only to be rejected by every single one. I was older than those they looked for. I didn’t have the credentials they sought. I didn’t…. The reason wasn’t important. The rejections left me in the dust.

Satan knows putting us in the dust often leads to discouragement. If he can turn up the discouragement, we might give up and quit. Unhealthy emotions will take over, and before we know it, we’re depressed or feeling worthless. No initiative left. Dreams dashed. Goals evaporated. In the dust and useless.

God never intends for us to grovel in the dust, unless to repent. He wants us to know we can do all things through Him because He gives us strength. He wants us to learn contentment in every situation by realizing He’s in control.

Whatever you’re facing, God is all you need to get through. Trust God to lift you out of your down-in-the-dust episode.

Prayer: Father, thank You for lifting us up when we are in the dust. 

Tweetable: Are you down in the dust and can't get up? 


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Monday, November 28, 2022

Just Passing Through - Martin Wiles

just passing through
I am only a foreigner in the land. Don’t hide your commands from me! Psalm 119:19 NLT

I was passing through; I had no plans to stay forever. 

As a pastor’s son, I passed through many places. We passed through Hilda, South Carolina, and stayed for three years. Next, we passed through Jackson, Tennessee, where we stopped over for four years. Then we went to Cameron, South Carolina, where we passed through in one year. Finally, we journeyed to Orangeburg, South Carolina, and settled for five years. By the time the trip ended in Orangeburg, I had graduated high school. I thought I had finished passing through, but then God called me to preach, and I passed through some more places: Branchville, Iva, Harleyville, and Hodges, South Carolina. 

God’s Old Testament people passed through quite a few places themselves. They passed through four hundred years in Egyptian slavery. Next, they stopped over in Assyria for a couple of hundred years. Then they passed through Babylon for seventy years. But wherever they passed through, they never forgot where home was. Neither did they forget God’s commands and their responsibility to obey them. 

I’m not considered a foreigner unless I visit another country. God, however, considers me a foreigner regardless of where I live. I can travel the world and never find a place I can truly call home. My journey here is temporary. I’m just passing through. And when I leave on my final journey, I can’t take any of the things I’ve accumulated. It makes sense, then, that I should travel with a light load instead of burdening myself with things that make the journey unenjoyable. 

My passing throughs taught me to hold things lightly, even in many relationships, except for the one person who’d never betray or leave me.  Believers are just passing through earth to a new heaven and earth. Our priorities on our journey determine whether the trip will be enjoyable or depressing. 

Let loving God and people be the only baggage you carry as you pass through. 

Prayer: Father, thank You that when we have completed our passing through, we will be in heaven with You eternally. 

Tweetable: Have you realized you're just passing through? 


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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Broccoli and Potato Soup

Broccoli and Potato Soup

 


Ingredients

4 RED POTATOES (CUT INTO LONG STRIPS)     

2 CUPS CHOPPED BROCCOLI

1 ONION (DICED)

1 CAN EVAPORATED MILK

½ TEASPOON SALT

¼ TEASPOON PEPPER

½ CUP VELVEETA CHEESE

1 TABLESPOON CORNSTARCH

Directions
COOK POTATOES, BROCCOLI, AND ONION IN A QUART OF WATER UNTIL TENDER.

ADD SALT, PEPPER, MILK, AND CHEESE.

DISSOLVE CORNSTARCH IN COLD WATER TO THICKEN SOUP.


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Friday, November 25, 2022

Pointing the Finger - Martin Wiles

Pointing the Finger
The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Genesis 3:12 NLT

She stood in the road—pointing her finger—and shouted, “Well, if you would stop, I could get him.”

As I took my daily stroll, I turned into a neighboring subdivision I had walked through for six years. I noticed a small dog crisscrossing the road about twenty-five yards ahead. I wondered what he would do when I approached—the reason why I carry a large stick.

Sure enough, when I reached where he stood in the front yard with his owner, he saw me, barked, and ran into the road after me. I spoke kindly to him, but he continued to yap, follow me, and place his muzzle against my ankle. I knew at any minute I would feel his teeth sink into my skin. Every few yards, I stopped, turned around, and shooed him away, but as soon as I turned to walk again, he returned to my ankle.

After thirty yards of this yapping, I stopped, turned, and hollered at him. It was then that I noticed the owner standing in the middle of the road telling me to stop so she could get her dog.

As politely as I could under the circumstances, I said, “Mame, you do know there is a leash law in this county?”

She replied, “Well, he has never seen you before.”

Suddenly, her breaking the law had become my fault. I made a mental note that in the future I would introduce myself to any strange dogs.

Pointing the finger has a long history, beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God gave them one rule to follow, but they broke it. When God confronted Adam about his sin, he pointed the finger at Eve. When God confronted Eve, she pointed the finger at the serpent.

What God wanted from the first couple—and what He wants from us now—was for them to take responsibility for their actions. Shifting the blame to others provides the easy way out but doesn’t relieve us of our responsibility in God’s eyes. I am responsible for my sin, for my refusal to forgive those who sin against me, for my unkind words, for the squabbles I initiate, and for the way I talk to a dog owner who doesn’t want to take responsibility for her animal’s actions.

The solution is simple, yet challenging: personal action. I must confess, I must forgive, I must apologize, I must love those who are unlovable, and I must rectify wrongs. The good news is that God goes before us when we take responsibility for our actions. He gives strength and wisdom. He knows always pointing the finger at someone else for our troubles will only lead us down a path to emotional sickness and stunt our spiritual growth.

Ask God to help you stop pointing the finger at others and take responsibility for your actions.

Prayer: Father, when we’re tempted to point the finger at others, help us to look at ourselves instead. 

Tweetable: Are you pointing the finger? 


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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Spirit of Confidence - Karen Huffaker

Spirit of Confidence
Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. Jeremiah 17:7 NIV

Every time she steps on the mat, I see a spirit of confidence beyond the ordinary level. 

My granddaughter’s nose is up, and her shoulders are back. We joke that she has an “attitude.” She has been a gymnast almost all of her young life. She’s grown in skill, strength, and poise yearly. Watching her in action is a joy—tumbling, flipping, spinning, and jumping to new heights. No matter the size of the crowd or how much noise they make, she remains focused and confident.

But her successes didn’t come easy. They required years of focus, practice, and commitment—and pushing herself to new limits. Today’s athletes are highly competitive, exceptional, bold, and confident.

Her example reminds me of how my relationship and spiritual walk with God should be. I can approach Him with complete freedom and confidence through faith.

Growing up to be more like Jesus in strength, conduct, and grace should be a natural result of spending time daily with God in prayer and Bible study. I find more confidence and strength in quietness and devotion to live out His will. 

God is my strength, and my confidence lies in Him. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in powerful people. We are blessed when we place our trust and confidence in the Lord.

I trust in God because He keeps His promises. I know He will never fail or forsake me. He is the true and faithful one. Therefore, I can depend on Him. My confidence in Him grows daily, and I am blessed.

How does meditating on God help build your confidence in Him?

Tweetable: Do you have a spirit of confidence? 


Karen Huffaker is a freelance Christian writer. She has taught children’s Sunday school and single mom’s Bible studies and written poetry. She is from the Deep South and loves reading Christian books, devotionals, genealogy adventures, fishing, and all things family. She is also passionate about her grandchildren’s sporting events. 


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Monday, November 21, 2022

A Short Watchtower - Autumn Wilson

a short watchtower
I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Habakkuk 2:1 NIV

Our home almost killed my mom, and I was angry—but only because I looked on from a short watchtower. 

It took years after she became ill for us to uncover the pitch-black mold coating our insulation. We later discovered that health issues from mold had triggered the previous owners to sell the house to us—a detail neither they nor their realtor disclosed.

After pouring sweat, tears, and thousands of dollars into the house, we eliminated the pestilence and sold the house. For years, I scanned the horizon for even a spark of righteous judgment—one of the suit-clad lawyers from the billboards marching his away across our lawn with righteous indignation and a hefty check, perhaps. He never arrived. How could God watch while my mom suffered? How could he not punish the previous owners? 

Habakkuk, the prophet, asked God why he allowed his people to suffer injustice and violence from lawlessness. The Lord told the prophet that he planned to correct Judah by using the Chaldeans—a “ruthless and impetuous people.” 

Habakkuk complained again. How could God punish the sins of Judah while tolerating the evils of Chaldea? What judge allows a bank robber to chastise a petty thief? Whose court permits a murderer to condemn a trespasser? While standing atop his tower and scanning the horizon, the prophet demands an answer.

God assures the prophet he will punish the Chaldeans as well. Yet, the Lord doesn’t end his response with an itinerary of his judgment. Rather, he declares his sovereignty: “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (2:20). 

We rightly ask God to exact justice. Yet, his justice extends beyond what we see in our short watchtowers. No matter how high we climb, we always fail to see God’s whole plan. I did. 

Has your mom started telling people you stole her Floridian lawn flamingos?

Has your catalytic converter disappeared?

Has your family suffered harm from homeowners’ hiding information?

Pray for and pursue justice. But if God chooses to delay, trust him in the meantime. God’s justice will come like a raging fire—even if we never see the spark. 

Tweetable: Are you watching what God is doing in your life? 


Autumn Wilson is a writer and perpetual student of church history. She lives in Dallas, TX, where she studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. On any given day, you can find her staring at a blank Word document, wrangling third graders at church, furrowing her brows at Anselm, or creating homemade escape rooms. 


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