Monday, February 6, 2023

Mad at Sin - Martin Wiles

Mad at Sin
I am overwhelmed with indignation, for my enemies have disregarded your words. Psalm 119:139 NLT

Listening to the evening news is enough to make anyone mad at sin.

A police officer who intentionally shoots and kills a man. A man who shoots his parents and then goes to a local business to kill his ex-girlfriend too. The woman who doesn’t want her child and discards her in the trash dumpster. Tons of pollution ascending into the air or descending into freshwater sources people drink. Radical religious sects beheading people just because they’re from another religious tradition. A local animal shelter displaying pictures of cats and dogs that have been severely abused by their owners. Especially the kittens and puppies that can’t fend for themselves.

In biblical times, the nation of Israel had any number of enemies who wanted to subdue her, rule over her, and steal her treasures. Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Syrians, Edomites, Philistines. They surrounded her with a web of evil and couldn’t wait to draw her in, roll her up, and administer the death sting. Like Goliath with David, they wanted to feed her flesh to the birds of the air.

Sin causes us anguish because it infringes on our rights, the rights of others, and on the good plan God has for his earth. While the earth itself has been affected by sin, it is the sinful people who live here that infest it with sinful practices.

But sin rather than the sinner is what must be the source of our anger. Jesus didn’t get mad at people per se; he got angry over the sinful deeds they committed. He loved criminals, prostitutes, thieves, the religious left, and the religious right. He extended to all the privilege of becoming his child and having their sinful actions and attitudes transformed into godly ones. And he still does.

Sin should anger us, but we should never get angry at the one sinning. Except for the grace of God, we might be walking in their shoes. 

Do you hate sin but love the sinner?

Prayer: Father, enable us to get angry over sin but at the same time to love the sinner. 

Tweetable: How do you express your anger at sin? 


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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Ham and Cheese Rolls

 

 Ingredients

1 can (8 ounces) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

8 ounces thin slices cooked ham

4 ounces thin slices Cheddar cheese (cut into four strips)

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F.

Separate dough into eight triangles.

Place one piece of ham on each triangle; place two strips of cheese down center of ham.

Fold in edges of ham to match shape of dough triangle.

Roll up each crescent, ending at tip of triangle.

Place with tips down on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 to 19 minutes or until golden brown.

Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm.



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Friday, February 3, 2023

Beauty from Ashes - Martin Wiles

Beauty from Ashes
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. Isaiah 61:3 NLT

As unlikely as it may have seemed, beauty from ashes came.
 

In 2016, massive wildfires burned 2460 structures and destroyed 17,136 acres of land in and around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The fire started on Chimney Tops Trail a few miles south of Gatlinburg off Highway 441. Fourteen people died from the fires, and another 190 received injuries. Damage caused by the fires was estimated at $500 million. But beauty resulted.

Residents in the area came together. Engineers constructed two attractions high on the mountaintops on either side of the main highway meandering through Gatlinburg. On one side of the highway, they built Gatlinburg Skybridge—a 680-foot suspension bridge that spans two mountains and has one glass section. On the other side of the highway rests Anakeesta Mountain. Here, builders constructed restaurants, shops, a mountain roller coaster, garden paths, and a swinging wooden bridge that takes visitors through the tree tops.

Although evidence of the fires remains, beauty has overtaken the ugliness the fires initially left. Forest fires—whether wild or controlled—benefit the ecosystem. Dead trees and decaying matter need removing, and fires accomplish this by releasing nutrients held captive by old vegetation and returning them to the soil.  

Through the prophet Isaiah, God told His people their mourning would one day end. He would take the ashes of their lives and form a crown of beauty from them, much as architects did in the areas around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Ashes are a natural part of our lives. They come from financial struggles, bankruptcy, divorce, crimes, acts of terrorism, natural disasters, rebellious children, lost jobs, death, disease, illness. But God has a way of turning our ashes into beautiful things when we respond in the appropriate way.

As architects and builders had the ability to restore and renew the mountains, so God has the power to take what we perceive as devastating and make something beautiful from it. He possesses all the wisdom possible and can see the beginning, the ending, and everything in between.

Our part entails trusting God with our lives and our ashy situations. He has our best interests at heart and a plan for our lives and this world. We may never understand it entirely, but we can step aside and let Him do His work.

God won’t force Himself or His plan on us. Residents and landowners could have chosen to let the ugliness of the wildfires remain. But they decided to act. When we act by turning our lives and our situations over to God, He will bring beauty from our ashes.

Give your ashes to God and watch what He does.

Prayer: Father, thank You for taking the ashes of our lives and making something beautiful from them. 

Tweetable: Do you see the beauty in your ashes? 


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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Use the Sixth Sense - Martin Wiles

Use the Sixth Sense
Give discernment to me, your servant; then I will understand your laws. Psalm 119:125 NLT

The five senses are great, but it’s beautiful when we use the sixth sense.

I enjoy all of my senses. I remember when my eye doctor told me I was a candidate for glaucoma. Fortunately, the cornea specialist said it wasn’t as bad as it initially appeared. With a regimen of daily drops, I can see fine, and the nerve damage has been limited.

I also enjoy tasting almost anything and an abundance of it. Hearing is also pleasurable. Listening to the birds sing as the first rays of light appear is exhilarating. Smell is pleasant too. It’s perhaps the most powerful and can resurrect memories we thought were long buried. And, of course, it’s nice to feel what I touch. This, along with smell, clues me into important matters—such as when my dog needs a bath.

With my five senses, I discern colors, distance, pleasant aromas, faint noises, and a warm fuzzy blanket. But what about the first impression of someone I’ve just been introduced to. I get a feeling I can’t explain. Or I’m in an area and suddenly get an unexplainable sense of dread. Everything appears safe, but all I can think about is getting away. Perhaps it’s the thirty-year mortgage I’m considering assuming. A feeling inside telling me not to sign the papers even though the interest rate is low, and the house is just what I’ve always wanted.

I attribute my sixth sense to God. It’s the sense scientists can’t identify because the workings of this sense aren’t repeatable. I know I have it, but I can’t prove it to anyone other than by giving them my word.

When we program our minds with God’s Word, we can trust these unexplainable warnings. We can also proceed with confidence in directions that appear senseless to others. 

All God requires to receive this sense is a faith relationship with his Son. Having it means we can live every day with confidence. Our sixth sense will be my trusted guide.

Do you have a sixth sense guiding you in the right direction and to the best decisions?

Prayer: Father, thank You for giving us the spiritual sense that’s beyond our physical senses. 

Tweetable: Are you using your sixth sense? 


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Monday, January 30, 2023

When Hope is Crushed - Martin Wiles

When Hope is Crushed
Lord, sustain me as you promised, that I may live! Do not let my hope be crushed. Psalm 119:116 NLT

We sat in a small group and talked about disappointment and appointments. And when hope is crushed, we experience frustration.

When I have an appointment, someone has agreed to meet me at a particular time, or I’ve agreed to meet them. Disappointment is the difference between my expectations and what happens.

If my doctor’s appointment is canceled when I really need to see him, I’m disappointed. If I expect my children to succeed in school and college and they don’t, I’m disappointed. If I’m looking for a pay increase and don’t get it, I’m disappointed. When I do everything I should to promote good health only to find out I have a terminal illness, I’m disappointed.

Disappointment and crushed hope have been friends of mine quite a few times. She showed up when my son decided to quit school. She walked in when a spouse walked out. When my drooling over a new car was sopped up by the salesman who said my credit rating wasn’t high enough for a loan. And when I was told someone else had been hired for the job.

For a shepherd, disappointments might be different. Perhaps the sheep didn’t produce as much wool as he had hoped. Or a wild animal killed a few of his prize animals. Maybe one wandered too close to the edge of the mountain and fell to its death. Or ate poisonous weeds.

If I’m not careful, bitterness can stroll in when my hopes are crushed. Unfortunately, there are few things in life I can control. The forces of nature or the actions of others control everything else. I can, however, remember God is in control no matter how bleak my circumstances appear.

God is never disappointed—or surprised. He knows everything that’s going to happen. He orchestrates world events and the situations in my life. Believing in his unconditional love helps us navigate the disappointments of life without them crushing our hopes.

Don’t let life’s disappointments crush your hopes. Trust God for the best.

Prayer: Father, guide us to look to You when circumstances attempt to crush our hopes. 

Tweetable: Where do you turn when your hopes are crushed? 


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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Farmhouse Barbecue Muffins

farmhouse barbecue muffins


Ingredients 

1 CAN BUTTERMILK BISCUITS


1LB. GROUND BEEF

½ CUP KETCHUP

3 TABLESPOONS BROWN SUGAR

1 TABLESPOON VINEGAR

½ TEASPOON CHILI POWDER

1 CUP SHREDDED CHEDDAR CHEESE

Directions

FLATTEN EACH BISCUIT INTO A 5-INCH CIRCLE.

PRESS IN BOTTOM AND SIDES OF GREASED MUFFIN PAN.

BROWN BEEF AND DRAIN.

MIX ALL INGREDIENTS EXCEPT CHEESE.

PLACE IN MUFFIN PAN AND TOP WITH CHEESE.

BAKE AT 375 DEGREES FOR 18 TO 20 MINUTES.


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Friday, January 27, 2023

One Day You Will Thank Me

one day you will thank me
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6 NLT

“One day, you’ll thank me.”

My wife and I—along with my brother and sister-in-law—decided to celebrate Christmas day and the two days after with a trip to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. One of the things on our to-do list involved walking the new Skybridge in Gatlinburg. Throngs of people thwarted our first attempt, so we decided to return earlier the next day.

Sure enough, our second attempt rewarded us with shorter lines and wait times. As my wife and I awaited our turn to step onto the bridge, two families with a teen boy in each preceded us. Signs decorated the railings around the bridge, telling visitors not to jump on the bridge or shake it.

As soon as one of the teenage boys set foot on the bridge, he did exactly what the sign warned against: jumped. An attendant scolded him. He responded with a vulgar hand motion. The worker said nothing—nor did his parents.

We continued to follow the two families across the bridge. Halfway across, the other teenager grabbed the rail and shook. Another misdemeanor—one that his parents again ignored.

A little farther, the two families stopped to take pictures. Wanting to hurry across, we passed them. The father of one of the teens—who also had a smaller child—responded by tossing out the “f” bomb because we thought we were too good to wait.

I thought of this Bible verse and also of one of my dad’s sayings. I wondered if these children would be able to say their parents had guided them along right paths. Sure, they spent time with them, but they also ignored their bad behavior by overlooking their disobedience to rules and authority figures.

Dad always used this saying when I didn’t like one of the rules he and mom had made. When I balked, he reminded me that one day I’d thank him for the rule. I didn’t think so then, but he was right. During my teen years, I, too, went astray—as the bridge-walking teens appeared to be doing. But during my forays into disobedience, my parents’ rules—which represented God’s rules—always haunted me. When I became a young adult, I gave up my disobedience and returned to the right path.

God has given parents the responsibility to train their children in the right way. This entails teaching them God’s principles, but it also involves noticing what gifts and talents God has given them and then encouraging them to use those gifts in God’s service to make the world a better place.

God holds parents accountable for adhering to His guidelines for parenting. Although we can’t control what decisions our children make—and shouldn’t beat ourselves up when they go astray after our honorable efforts—teaching is our job. We must make the effort. How they respond is on them, but laying a good foundation makes it more probable they’ll choose the right path.

Are you laying a foundation your children will one day thank you for?

Prayer: Father, give us parents the wisdom and fortitude to raise our children and grandchildren in a way that pleases You. 

Tweetable: What will your children thank you for? 


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