Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Walk-on Wednesday - To Follow or Not to Follow - Martin Wiles

Welcome to Walk-on Wednesday. By Hump Day, we are struggling, but we believe a good devotion can strengthen us to finish the week strong. 

If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. Mark 8:34 NLT

I followed my cousin into the room—and discovered a new world.

The old home my maternal grandparents lived in had a “front room,” as my grandmother called it. Large floor-to-ceiling sliding doors separated this room from the hallway. When entering the room, an armed chair on the right greeted me, followed by an end table and a couch that matched the chair. Then came another end table, followed by an armless chair. Rounding out the room was an old, converted player piano. On the far end of the room was a boarded-up fireplace.

Since my grandmother’s house had no central heat—or even a space heater in this room—my cousin and I only visited this room during the warm months. Although my grandmother warned us not to play in this room—or mess up her furniture—we sometimes didn’t listen.

What I did do when I followed my cousin there was play the old piano. Mom could have taught me how to play the piano. She was an accomplished pianist. But I wasn’t interested. Playing “Chopsticks” and other little tunes—that didn’t require learning what playing the piano would have required—did interest me. And my cousin whom I followed into the room taught me.

Jesus said following Him involved taking up a cross and giving up one’s own way. Some did. Many didn’t. And some who did initially, didn’t later.

As the people did when Jesus was on earth, I must choose to follow. He won’t force me—but He does share the cost should I choose to. I must leave my own ways and take up a cross. In Jesus’ day, the cross wasn’t a fancy piece of jewelry a person wore around their neck or on their wrist. It was a rough piece of wood where authorities nailed a criminal until he died. And the criminal had to carry this cross to the place of their death. Not an exciting picture. That’s why it involves giving up my way.

When we choose to follow Jesus, we agree to make different decisions. Before following Him, our decisions lead to selfish endeavors. After we choose Jesus, the opposite should hold true. He’ll take us to places of sacrifice, as He had to make when He gave up His life to pay for our sins. He’ll also take us to the high places of joy and fulfillment. Although He had no place to lay His head, He lived life as God intends for all of us to live it. A different way…but a way of contentment.

The obedience of following Jesus comes with a cost and isn’t easy, but the rewards are great—as was the reward of following my cousin into the front room. I learned something I didn’t know before. And by following Jesus, we’ll learn many life lessons we’ll never learn any other way. He’ll teach us to live according to the Father’s will.

Don’t follow just anyone. Choose to follow Jesus into the best life ever.

Prayer: Father, give us the courage to follow You, regardless of where You lead us. 

Tweetable: Are you following Jesus...or not? 


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Monday, September 20, 2021

Meandering Monday - Dangerous Drifting - Martin Wiles

Welcome to Meandering Monday, where we take a trip back to an earlier post and enjoy it again.

So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1 NLT

I was a drifter…but not the kind that hops on an empty train car. Or not even the kind who moved from place to place to escape themselves, the law, or bad relationships.

I was a spiritual drifter. When my teenage years approached, I began to drift from the truth my parents had taught me. I wanted to do what I wanted. And I did…for about eight years. Although I drifted in my actions, God never let me drift from the truth I knew deep in my spirit.

Evidently, the author of Hebrews knew the danger of spiritual drifting—and even knew some of his readers were thinking about it or perhaps already had. They had heard God’s Word about Jesus…who he was…what he did. Drifting back into their old ways of living or drifting over into the camp of false teachings would prove perilous.

Any time we drift, we’re taken away from the truth. As a teenager, I drifted from the truth that obeying God’s commands was necessary for God’s blessings. I walked away from the greatest command to love God with my entire being. Drifting also stole my thoughts. As I began to think about enticing rebellious acts, I began to formulate how I would commit them. When my thoughts drift into forbidden areas, my actions will soon follow—and they did.

Drifting affected my relationships. I didn’t feel comfortable around church members. My lifestyle was different. My parents’ beliefs and expectations seemed old-fashioned and unreasonable. Instead of forming friendships with peers who would encourage me spiritually, I chose the ones who drifted like me. Since I wasn’t consulting God, drifting led me to many unwise decisions.

My drifting reflected selfishness. Life became about me and what I wanted. God’s plan wasn’t considered. Not until later did I realize that drifting wasn’t all it was cut out to be. I discovered God hadn’t moved; I had. Fortunately, he let me drift back.

It’s never too late to drift back to God if you’ve drifted away.

Prayer: God of mercy, we thank You for the forgiveness You so freely offer. 

Tweetable: Have you drifted from God? 


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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Night of the Mosquito - Martin Wiles

Better to have wisdom than weapons of war, but one sinner can destroy much that is good. Ecclesiastes 9:18 NLT

She never went to bed without spraying.

My maternal grandparents lived in an old farmhouse on a rather large acreage of land. Enough that they didn’t have to worry about neighbors minding their business. But the old house had no central air or heat. A few space gas heaters kept it tolerable in the wintertime (the old fireplaces in each room had long since been boarded up), and open windows and fans kept it cool in the hot, Southern summers.

Although I don’t remember the screens in the old house having rips in them, somehow an unwelcome guest arrived every night during the warm months, about nine months out of the year.

My grandmother had a nightly ritual I observed when I spent the night with her. I slept in the front bedroom, as she called it. A large room with two full-sized beds, an old piano, and other bedroom furniture. My cousin, who lived next door, often slept over when I spent the night.

Before settling in for the night and telling ghost stories, my grandmother made her way around the room to all the windows with a can of Raid insect spray. She sprayed the screens, hoping to kill any mosquitoes that had already made their way in and to prevent any who hadn’t, but were thinking about it. This smell, along with the mosquito truck that made its regular appearance down the highway out front and let out a cloud of repellant, was almost more than I could bear. Neither seemed to help.

No sooner than my grandmother had turned the light off than I heard the singing. A female mosquito seeking blood to fertilize her eggs. My grandmother had no night lights or outside pole lights. The room was as black as tar. I swatted, but to no avail. I couldn’t see what I swatted at. I could only hear it. I covered as much of my body as possible, hoping the intruder wouldn’t get under the cover and suck on my body all night. Eventually, sleep overtook the singing, but I normally woke up to several whelps on various parts of my body.

Although bad, the mosquito had an influence. Just as Solomon says one bad person can destroy much good.

Our influence is good or bad. We make the choice. From the mosquito’s perspective, her influence brought good. She was fertilizing her eggs. From my standpoint, it involved bad. She sucked my blood and made an itchy whelp.

God’s Word tells the requirements for a good influence. It requires sacrifice. God’s ways entail love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. A good influence leads to careful consideration of our actions, attitudes, and words so that we influence in the way we intend. And our influence must be intentional for it to be good consistently.

Bad influences are easy to make. All we must do is follow the flow of the majority. They’ll lead us in the wrong direction almost every time.

Ask God to give you the power of a mosquito’s influence—only make it good.

Prayer: Father, help us to influence our world in a good way. 

Tweetable: How's your influence? 


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Friday, September 17, 2021

Taco Salad

 


Ingredients
1 POUND GROUND BEEF

1 HEAD LETTUCE

2 CUPS SHREDDED CHEESE

2 TOMATOES (DICED)

1 SMALL BOTTLE CATALINA DRESSING
     
1 LARGE BAG DORITOS

1 ENVELOPE TACO SEASONING

Directions
COOK GROUND BEEF AND DRAIN.

ADD TACO SEASONING AND COOK AS DIRECTED. SET ASIDE.

CHOP LETTUCE AND PLACE IN A LARGE BOWL.

ADD TOMATOES, CHEESE, AND MEAT. MIX TOGETHER.

ADD CATALINA DRESSING AND COVER THOROUGHLY.

WHEN READY TO SERVE, CRUSH A LARGE BAG OF DORITOS AND MIX IN THE SALAD.


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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Philemon Promise - Cindy Evans

Welcome to Walk-on Wednesday. By Hump Day, we are struggling, but we believe a good devotion can strengthen us to finish the week strong. 

Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever. Philemon 1:15 NIV

After a painful break-up with my then-boyfriend, Mark, I felt down.

What went wrong? We'd both been Christians and had lots of fun together, making sweet memories. Although we both had hope, it hadn’t worked.

One day, still hurting from the loss, I was on the floor, crying out for comfort and looking in God’s Word. My pages fell to a passage I'd never noticed before.

My eyes opened wide as I read the following Scripture from Philemon: “Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back forever.”

My jaw dropped. Lord, is this a promise for me? Could it be? Was God using this season of separation to teach us something or prepare us for the future?

I felt my soul stirring and my heart overflowing. I felt the Spirit speaking. I tucked this verse in my heart, and it brought peace. I felt my brokenness healing tenderly in a way that’s hard to explain.  

Not too long after that, Mark and I got back together. Today, I write this as his wife, and I will always remember with awe and gratitude this precious time when God shared His wonderful Word with me.

What promise have you received from God? 

Tweetable: What promise have you received from God? 


Cindy Evans is a published poet living in the greater Atlanta area. Her prayer is to be a keyboard for Christ. She enjoys her work at a faith-based hospice company and also date nights with Mark (who you read about) and church activities.


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Monday, September 13, 2021

Meandering Monday - Greater Than… - Martin Wiles

Welcome to Meandering Monday, where we take a trip back to an earlier post and enjoy it again.

This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names. Hebrews 1:4 NLT

Far back in my educational journey, I learned the symbols > and < meant greater than and less than.

Knowing that in itself meant nothing, but using them to compare numbers made a little more sense. If my income was greater than my outgo, I discovered myself in the red. If my grocery bill grew greater than the amount in my checking account, I would have to put something back. If my rent payment was greater than what I had left over after paying all my other bills, I might eventually be evicted. Practical stuff.

In many of the early churches, false teachers taught God could only be approached through angels. Some even thought Jesus was God’s highest angel. Angels shouldn’t be worshiped nor is Jesus one of them. He is greater than angels and also some other things I tackle.

Jesus is greater than all our fears as well as the things or people that arouse them. God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Greater is he that lives in us than anything the world can hurl our way.

Jesus is greater than all our anxieties. Numerous things can cause us to be anxious or to worry. Rather than do that, we can present our anxieties to God and experience peace beyond our comprehension (Philippians 4:6-7). Jesus said we shouldn’t worry because he is in control of all our tomorrows (Matthew 6:34).

Jesus is greater than any problem we will face. We must trust in him with all our hearts and not depend on our understanding. When we do, he will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Jesus is also greater than any temptation we confront. He’s promised not to allow them to become so intense that we can’t endure and conquer them with his help. A way of escape always exists (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Have you discovered that God is greater than anything you might meet?

Prayer: God of power and God of grace, we humbly trust our fear, worries, anxieties, problems, and temptations to You. 

Tweetable: Is God greater than what you are facing? 


Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Shame, Shame, Shame - Martin Wiles

Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame. Romans 10:11 NIV

As I child, I heard it from parents and grandparents.

“Shame, shame, shame,” one of my parents…or more likely one of my grandparents…might say. If they did, it meant I had broken one of their rules or behaved in a way they deemed inappropriate. Even as a young child, which is when I normally heard this, I knew what it meant.

As I got older, the three words didn’t bring the same response as they had when I was younger and wanted to please everyone. The larger problem related to God’s rules, which my parents’ and grandparents’ rules supposedly mimicked. If I broke their rules, I was guilty of infringing upon God’s principles.

But I also experienced another type of shame: shame over my body. To say the least, I hated it. Skinny. Bony. And if that wasn’t enough, I had to get ugly glasses while in elementary school. Other classmates made fun of my shape, and I certainly wasn’t one they wanted on their team in Physical Education class when we played basketball or dodgeball.

Paul says anyone who believes in Christ should never be put to shame.

Shame comes in two varieties: misplaced and rightly placed. One bad, the other good. If I do the opposite of what Paul says, I experience misplaced shame. I should never be ashamed of who I am in Christ. Nor should I ever refrain from telling others through my actions and words that I belong to Him. Hiding who I am because I don’t want others to make fun of me or persecute me leads to misplaced shame.

Misplaced shame also shows up when I try to improve on how God made me and who He made me to be. He gave me my body and my personality. What others think is, on one hand, important, but on the other hand, not so important. I’m here to please God, not others. When I fail to accept that, along with the gifts God has given me, I feel shame when I shouldn’t.

Rightly placed shame entails recognizing I am what the Bible says: a sinner in need of forgiveness. I should feel ashamed that I’ve failed God. The good news is that God made a way out of that shame. Through believing in His Son, I can experience forgiveness and release from condemnation, knowing Christ has paid for all my sins. Daily confession of my failures and sins keeps me on good terms with God.

Satan wants us to continually beat ourselves up, making us think we are no good, getting us to think God can never use us. If he convinces us, we’re defeated, and God won’t be able to use us. Because of misplaced shame.

Don’t let the wrong type of shame lead you to a life of misery. Experience God’s forgiveness and enjoy being the person He created you to be.

Prayer: Father, thank You for making it possible for us to live without shame.

Tweetable: Are you living with shame? 


Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.