Saturday, September 19, 2020

Looking with Fear - Martin Wiles

But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. Exodus 14:13 NLT

For four long hours, I trembled in fear. The only thing that stood between me, my son, and our certain demise was a .38 pistol.

On one of those rare instances when my son hiked with me in the mountains, we decided on an overnight camping trip—a short distance down the Appalachian Trail. The trail was easy, and we planned to stay in one of the shelters. No setting up a tent, which hopefully would help my son enjoy the trip a little more.

At dusk, two young men arrived and set up a tent site twenty yards away. We spoke, ate our supper, fixed our sleeping quarters, and hit the sack. Several hours into the night, I heard pots clanging and voices yelling. I knew the verdict. Black bears robbed their camp, stealing the only food they had to eat for their three-day excursion. 

Sweat beaded on my trembling body. Would the bears amber into our shelter looking for food, which we didn’t have? My son slept while I feared. Although the bears never entered our spot, I lay awake all night, frightened of the deadly possibilities that roamed just a few yards away.

Moses led 600,000 men plus women and children, and they all feared as they watched the Egyptian army coming to recapture them and return them to Egypt where once again they’d serve as slaves. The Red Sea lay in the other direction. Despite danger behind and ahead, their leader told them not to fear. God would intervene. And He did. He opened the Red Sea for the Israelites and then closed it on the Egyptians.

When it comes to living life, only two options exist: live it with fear or live it with faith. Choosing fear means living with worry, anxiety, and a prevailing attitude of uncertainty—all of which make life miserable. We’ll make our own plans, manipulate people and situations for our own good, live with selfishness, and always wonder whether we’ve done enough.

Living with faith brings the opposite results. Since we trust God to guide our life and handle each situation, we can operate each day with peace and joy. He’ll handle anything that comes our way—or give us the wisdom to. We’ll lie down in peace at night, knowing He protects us.

Don’t let fear rob your life of joy. Live with faith.

Prayer: Father, help us to live each day by faith and not fear.

Tweetable: Are you living with a spirit of fear? 

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Friday, September 18, 2020

Flashback Friday - Why Do Many Christians Not Live for Christ - Martin Wiles

 Why Do Many Professing Christians Not Live for Christ

Series: Hey God…I Have a Question

You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:16 NLT

I remember the day she accepted Christ as her Savior, but now she was gone.

Mary* was a teenager who came from a shallow religious family. Her mother was the only spiritual light in her life. Mary followed in her mother’s footsteps for a number of years. She married a wonderful Christian man, and they had two children together. Yet for some unknown reason, Mary decided to walk away from them all—God included. Twelve years have passed, and she still hasn’t returned. Oh, she might take her grandchildren to church, but she continues to live a lifestyle that’s radically different from a dedicated believer. Read more...

Tweetable: Are you living for Christ? 

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Gone…and Forgotten - Martin Wiles

Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man. Ecclesiastes 9:15 NKJV

If others will forget everything I do … and me … what’s the point in doing anything?

I’ve forgotten most of the friends I’ve made. I surely can’t remember all the toys I had as a child. Nor can I remember the names of all the schools I attended, since Dad was a preacher and we moved around a lot. As I get older, I even struggle to remember current things. Such as my wife’s birthday, my anniversary, the kids’ birthdays, and the grandkids’ birthdays.

Unless I keep in mind Solomon’s purpose in writing the book, I’ll be sorely depressed by the time I finish reading his meanderings. In this instance, he tells of a wise man who by some act of wisdom saved a city from destruction … but he was forgotten soon thereafter.

The story makes me wonder about my own life. Although a number of people know me now, how many will remember me after I’m dead—and for how long? After all, those who know me now will face my fate. Will they tell their children about me so they will remember me? Or will my name soon fade into oblivion after my demise? Will my children pass along memories about me to their children … and grandchildren? Will I be gone—and quickly forgotten?

Maybe this is why Jesus instructed us to store our treasures in heaven rather than on earth. A place where moth and rust cannot destroy them, nor can thieves steal them. I, and my life contributions, will be quickly forgotten on earth, but not if I store them in heaven.

Through a life of obedience to God, I send treasures to heaven where they are safe and secure and where God will never forget them. I’ll receive rewards for things done with the proper motives—crowns I’ll quickly cast at the feet of Jesus.

Of course, being so heavenly minded makes me no earthly good—and I should be earthly good. Through technology … by placing encouraging words from God on the Internet … I can help keep my memory alive for years after my death. And more importantly, I can make sure God’s Word keeps affecting people’s lives long after I’m gone and forgotten.

What can you do to keep your influence alive long after you’ve gone?

Prayer: Father, help us live each day in light of eternity, knowing the things of this world are only temporary.

Tweetable: What will others remember about you?

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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Letting Go - Martin Wiles

But Jacob replied, “My son will not go down with you. His brother Joseph is dead, and he is all I have left.” Genesis 42:38 NLT

She loves to play fetch; she doesn’t love to let go.

Two years ago, my wife and I inherited a Chihuahua-terrier mix. This Chihuahua differed from others I’d owned. She wasn’t moody and welcomed visitors she’d seen before—but at the same time alerted us to strangers. And she loved to play fetch—not something I’ve ever known a Chihuahua to enjoy.

Although she loves to fetch her favorite toys, she doesn’t enjoy letting go. I play tug of war with her for a few minutes, then stop. When I do, she lays the toy down, wanting me to throw it. As long as I toss the toy, she’ll fetch it. She loves holding on; she reluctantly lets go.

Jacob knew a little about holding on, too. He had two sons by his beloved wife: Joseph and Benjamin. His other sons hated Joseph, sold him into slavery, and told their father a wild animal had killed him. What they didn’t know was that their hated brother now commanded the food distribution program in Egypt. And since a famine ravaged their homeland, the family needed to see him to get food. They also needed Benjamin. Joseph wanted to see his blood brother and wouldn’t give his other brothers food unless they brought him along. Jacob, facing starvation, reluctantly let him go.

Letting go isn’t the easiest thing in the world. For parents who are sending their child off to their first day of school … or college. For Moms and Dads who are giving their son or daughter away in marriage. For one spouse who is telling the other spouse goodbye as they leave on a military tour of duty. Or for family and friends telling a loved one goodbye as they leave to serve on the mission field.

Neither is it easy to let go of hurt, disobedience, or pride. When others hurt us, we hurt. Letting go through forgiveness takes courage, giving up sinful habits we enjoy takes guts, and learning to let God guide us rather than using our own ingenuity takes humility.

To enjoy life as God intends takes a lifetime of letting go. Until we do, the peace we seek will lay unexperienced in our laps, just as the bone I refuse to throw lies in my lap.

Let go of whatever holds you back from God’s best.

Prayer: Father, give us the courage to let go of the things that prevent us from experiencing Your best.

Tweetable: Are you holding on when you need to let go? 

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Throwback Tuesday - Does God Really Need Me? - MartinWiles

 Does God Really Need Me?

Series: Hey God…I Have a Question

Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Matthew 3:9 NLT

Is it possible that an omnipotent and omniscient being actually needs me?

Among our most important needs are security, self-worth, and significance. Believing there is an individual who can consistently meet these three needs without failure positions me for disappointment. I can’t constantly meet all the needs of any one person nor can they return the favor. Only God has the ability to satisfy every need I have without ever failing. Read more...

Tweetable: Do you think God needs you? 

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Monday, September 14, 2020

Leave the Heavy Loads - Martin Wiles

He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick—no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. Mark 6:8 NLT

Fear caused me to pack heavily; experience taught me to pack lightly.

For a number of years, I hiked and backpacked in the mountains. Day hikes required only a small pack with snacks, water, and emergency equipment. Overnight hikes required more forethought.

Since I’m the sort of guy who likes to plan for unforeseen events, my backpack always weighed too heavy. The first backpacking trip my daughter and I made witnessed two packs far heavier than necessary, ruining the experience.

As I gained more experience, I learned to leave some things behind and to manipulate other items so they’d weigh less. This made the trip more enjoyable, and I discovered I could live with less than I had imagined. I also learned to trust God to care for me instead of trying to imagine everything that might happen and then prepare for it.

I never got my pack to weigh what thru-hikers’ backpacks do. I suppose I just didn’t have enough trust to leave behind as much as they do.

As Jesus sent the twelve disciples on a gospel-spreading mission, He told them to take only a walking stick and the clothes on their backs. Those they stayed with on their journey would provide for them. Somewhat like me taking nothing but a hiking stick on a backpacking trip and depending on fellow backpackers to feed me and give me a tent to sleep in. A scary scenario.

Clothes, tents, food, and hygiene items aren’t the only things that can weigh us down. Fear, anxiety, unforgiveness, and worry come to mind—unwelcome bedfellows who encumber life’s backpack and weigh down my shoulders. 

Fortunately, we don’t have to carry them around. God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Jesus says we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow because today has enough troubles of its own—and He’s in control of tomorrow. Nor should we let anxiety ruin our lives. Rather, we should give our concerns to God who, in return, will give us peace beyond our understanding. He will also give us the power to forgive those who wrong us.

Don’t carry around loads God never intended for you to bear. Leave the heavy loads with God and travel lightly.

Prayer: Father, give us the faith and courage to leave behind the things You never intended for us to carry.

Tweetable: Is your load too heavy? 

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Saturday, September 12, 2020

Discovered - Martin Wiles

But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. Number 32:23 NLT

He loved to fight, but one day he fought the wrong thing.

I once housed twenty-five chickens, among them four roosters—and among those four roosters one named Rochester. After a series of bad life events, I decided to move in with my parents for a while until things settled down. My brother had as many chickens as I did, so when we combined them, we had a yard full of chickens.

A mean streak ran through Rochester. Each day as I entered the pen to feed them and gather eggs, he made his attack. I wore rubber boots and fought him off with a good swift kick. Nothing about his antics changed when I moved, other than that my parents had two dogs.

Curious about the new crop of chickens, the two dogs often stuck their noses against the fence for a smell. Rochester didn’t appreciate the intrusion and laid into them with spur fury.

Did I mention Rochester also had a habit of flying out of the pen? One day, when I arrived home from work, I noticed feathers scattered across the yard. Rochester wasn’t dead, but the two dogs had stripped him of his feathers. His sins had found him out, and he never flew out of the pen again.

Three Israelite tribes wanted to settle on the eastern side of the Jordon rather than the western side. Moses was angry over their decision, but they promised to help the other tribes conquer the Promised Land before they settled on their land. Moses agreed, but warned them if they didn’t, their sin of lying would find them out.

Sins and consequences go hand in hand. God designed it that way. When the first created couple disobeyed, they immediately felt shame and hid from God. The remainder of the Bible—and history—is filled with examples of sin being discovered, along with consequences.

I’m personally glad God designed the system to work this way. If He hadn’t, I’d go on in my sinful way, never realizing this wasn’t the best way to live life. So would everyone else. And the mess our world would be in wouldn’t even compare to the mess it’s in now.

So rather than hating it when consequences follow your sinful words or actions, thank God that He’s designed consequences to guide you back onto the right path.

Prayer: Father, thank You for discovering our sins and letting the consequences follow.

Tweetable: Have you discovered sin's consequences? 

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