Thursday, September 19, 2019

Give until the End - Martin Wiles


You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT

He gave until the end.

As a teenager, he was caught up in the Holocaust and separated from his family. He nearly died but amazingly survived his experience in a Nazi death camp. After the war, he made his way to America where, in 1950, he was drafted into the Army and fought in the Korean conflict.

Henri Landwirth’s giving career began in 1952 in New York City. Later, he managed the Starlite Motel in Coca Beach, Florida. Then he purchased a Holiday Inn franchise in Orlando and offered rooms to the Make-a-Wish foundation for terminally ill children and their families.

His giving took on a new nature when he heard of a terminally ill girl named Amy who wanted to see Mickey Mouse before she died. She didn’t make it. So in 1989, Landwirth opened the Give the Kids the World Village. At this Kissimmee resort, critically-ill children and their families could enjoy a week’s vacation. 

When Landwirth died at the age of 91, Pamela Landwirth, president and CEO of Give the Kids the World said of him, “Henri was a remarkable man who worked tirelessly to help our precious children and their families.”

Though we have no record in the Bible of the quote Paul uses, Jesus certainly exemplified that God loves a cheerful giver. He gave sight to the blind, healed legs to those who had crippled legs, cleansed skin of lepers, hearing to the deaf, forgiveness to those who asked, instruction to those who desired it, and life to the dead. 

Some give because others have coerced them to. Pressure isn’t a proper motive for giving. God wants us to give because our heart prompts us to—and He is the one behind the prompting. We give willingly because God has given so much to us.

God doesn’t want us to give because we fear His judgment if we don’t, because we are following tradition we’ve been taught, or because we’ll feel guilty if we don’t. He wants us to give because we’ve been given to. No greater gift can be given than for a person to lay down their lives for others. And Jesus did this through His ultimate act of giving on the cross.

Ask God for opportunities to give as well as the means to do it. You’ll be surprised at what He sends your way.

Prayer: Father, may our giving be as cheerful as Yours was to us.





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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Protected from Evil - Martin Wiles


But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 NLT

The presence of evil surrounded me.

Darkness had another hour before the morning light drove it away. And me? I had a job to do for a fellow college student. He opened the college in the morning and raised the American and Christian flags to their respective places. Since my wife was working, I strolled our infant daughter with me.

As my daughter lay fast asleep in her stroller, I unlocked the front door of the college, picked up the American flag lying on an inside chair, hooked it to the pole, and prepared to raise it. Suddenly, I noticed a haggard-looking young man walking up from nowhere. He saluted the flag. 

Feeling the presence of danger yet knowing I had a duty to do, I told him I had another flag to raise. I feared his reaction. I feared for my daughter if something happened to me. But I knew it was an opportunity to stand for Christ. I raised the flag. He made a derogatory remark and walked off. Rather disappeared. After raising the flag, I looked across the parking lot to where he should have been, but saw no one. God had protected me from evil.

Paul declares God is faithful and will guard His children from Satan, the evil one … the enemy of our souls. In another place, he says God will not allow us to be tempted to the degree that we have no choice but to give in (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Declaring God will protect us doesn’t mean bad things can’t or won’t happen to us. Christians in many parts of the world pay for their beliefs with persecution and death. They did when Paul wrote these words. Jesus Himself paid with His life. In a strange way, the evil of persecution multiplies Christians instead of stamping them out.

We can’t always explain why God allows evil to temporarily triumph, but this we can know. Others may kill the body, but they can’t destroy our soul or spirit. This part of us is protected by God Himself and will inherit the blessed eternal life He promises to His children. Sometimes God delivers us from evil—as He did me—while at other times He delivers us through it. In either case, He gives the wisdom we need to respond appropriately, not foolishly.

Don’t fear evil. Instead, trust the One who has power over it.

Prayer: Father, we entrust our lives to You, believing You have power over our enemy.





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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Throwback Tuesday - Where Are You Headed - Martin Wiles

Where Are You Headed? 

If you don’t know where you’re headed, how will you know when you arrive?

My car sits in the driveway, waiting patiently for my arrival. Eventually, I make my appearance, open the car door, insert the key into the ignition, and crank the car. Slowly I back out of the driveway, put the gearshift in drive, and proceed to the stop sign at the end of our subdivision. After making a left turn, I travel 500 yards to the next stop sign, and then turn left again. Now I have a straight shot for as far as I want to travel. What my eventual destination would be, I’m not sure. And is it even the direction I really want to travel? If I haven’t planned where I’m going, how will I know when I get there? And where is there? How do I know I’ll enjoy myself when I get wherever there is? Read more...

Tweetable: Where are you headed and why?




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Monday, September 16, 2019

Precious in Life, Precious in Death - Martin Wiles


The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die. Psalm 116:15 NLT

Death takes what is precious.

As time passes, so do my loved ones. Dad has passed, as have all my great grandparents and grandparents. Many cousins have also joined their number. Mom is getting older too. I try not to think of life without her. Only my two brothers and I will remain. No parents to check on. No one to meddle in our business. No one to step in and do special things for us when we need help. Parents just do those types of things, and when they’re gone, a void develops.

At present, I still have my mother- and father-in-law too. I can only imagine how my wife will react when they leave this earth. She’s already lost one brother, but their passing will change her and my life forever. Death does that.

And as I lose family members, I must come to grips with my own demise. Periodically, I find myself counting how many years I have left—if I make it to the average lifespan. Many fewer years are ahead of me than are behind me. I long to relive some of those years, but can’t. I wonder what will happen to my children and grandchildren. How long they will live. What they will do. Will they miss me and tell stories about me.

According to the psalmist, God cares deeply when His children die—but He doesn’t prevent their death. Death is a part of life. Perhaps if sin had never entered our lives, we would have lived forever. Not all theologians agree with that statement. Death happens, and no amount of caring for our bodies can prevent it.

I take comfort in knowing God controls the time and manner of my death. Of course, I can alter the plan with foolish decisions, but apart from that my death is in His hands. As God has comforted me when I’ve lost loved ones, so He’ll comfort my family who is left behind after my demise.

Although sin has marred our existence, our lives are still so precious to God that He wants us to spend eternity with Him in a better place—a new heaven and a new earth. For all who choose to follow Christ, that place is reserved.

Don’t fear death. God controls that piece of your existence just as He does your life.

Prayer: Father, our lives are in Your hands. Do with them as You desire.





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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Disciplining Love - Martin Wiles


For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child. Hebrews 12:6 NLT

Johnny slumped in his chair. His grades had slipped, along with his attitude.

Since returning after Christmas break, teachers had witnessed the decline. Along with his I-don’t-care attitude came the tendency to talk when he shouldn’t. He talked while the teacher talked. He talked when he was supposed to be working on classwork. He talked to other classmates who attempted to do their work. Although a minor offense—all things considered—Johnny’s talking disrupted the class and demonstrated disrespect for his teachers and fellow students.

After receiving a few lunch and learns and discipline slips, his mom called for a conference. Johnny attended. His posture reflected his attitude. Teachers expressed their concerns, mom expressed hers, but Johnny seemed unconcerned. Finally, after the lead teacher and classroom teachers expressed their concern to him, Johnny seemed to perk up. Perhaps, he thought he was going to escape discipline. But he didn’t. The lead teacher instituted disciplinary measures. He wasn’t thrilled but assured us he’d do better. Time will tell.

Johnny’s not the first student I’ve taught who I’ve had to discipline, nor do I expect him to be the last. Just as I disciplined my children when they were home, so I do with my students who stray from the standard by not following the rules.

Children and students sometimes mistake discipline as cruelty, but actually, it’s a form of love. The writer says the same of God. He disciplines His children because He loves us, not because He hates us and wants to make our life miserable.

God’s discipline comes when I choose to disobey His rules and principles. Rather than make my life unbearable, these rules are designed to lead me to the best life ever. God knows this—and this is why He gave them—but I sometimes don’t know. His discipline teaches me to obey Him. Even young Johnny knew the purpose of discipline when we asked him.

God disciplines because God loves, just as teachers do students and parents do children. If He didn’t care what I did, He’d let me go my own way without intervention. His discipline proves love, just as the teachers’ disciplinary measures demonstrated love for Johnny. We had high hopes for him, as God does for His children.

When God disciplines you, thank Him that He cares enough to intervene in your life.


Prayer: Father, help us respond positively to Your discipline, knowing You send it because You love us.




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Friday, September 13, 2019

Flashback Friday - Snow White and the Forgiven Sins - Martin Wiles

Snow White and the Forgiven Sins

Once the snow gets dirty, there’s no turning it white again.

During the winter of 2014, snow fell for three consecutive days in Upstate South Carolina. I’ve lived in South Carolina 46 of my 54 years, and never can I remember a three-day snow event. Six days later, spots of snow still lingered in shaded areas. The freshly fallen snow was beautiful as it lay on the ground. But as temperatures slowly rose and people ventured out in their vehicles, what was perfectly white became dingy. Piled beside the roadway, it no longer appeared as it did when it first made its landing. As bad as I wanted, I couldn’t make it white again. Read more...

Tweetable: Are your sins as white as snow?




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Thursday, September 12, 2019

When God Gives You a Hand - Sarah Lynn Phillips

I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. Psalm 73:23

I stopped typing … mid-sentence.

What was going on? I wiggled my right thumb, pressed the space bar a few times, and wiggled it again. Why did my thumb joint hurt . . . suddenly?

My mom's arthritis issues came to mind. She lost the ability to cut apples, peel potatoes, slice bread, and even write well because the joints in her thumbs prohibited her from doing so. My heart sank. Wasn't I a little young for this? Didn't God know I needed my hands to keep house, cook, and write? Didn't I deal with enough limitations? And why my
right hand?

Another voice echoed in my thoughts. That of a doctor … four years after our car crash. "People who've been victims of trauma develop severe arthritis after ten years." She pointed her finger at me. "You have six years left." Eight years had passed.

Over the next few weeks, the pain came and went. Some days, I could type and work like normal. Other days, I noticed some discomfort—not bad, but enough for me to breath a prayer asking God to preserve my hand and thumb capabilities.

A long-forgotten phrase came to me as a whisper at first, nudging me to look it up. I found the words tucked in the writings of Isaiah: "For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, 'Fear not. I am the one who helps you'" (Isaiah 41:13). I noted verse 10: "I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

In ancient days, the right hand signified strength, authority, and blessing. I drew great comfort from the prophet’s words. The God of the universe holds my right hand, the very hand giving me trouble. His presence scatters my fears and offers reassurance—just as when a friend squeezes your hand, sharing hope and warm support without a word.  Only God’s touch is better. Infinitely better.

Humanly speaking, I will pursue a healthy lifestyle, including an anti-inflammatory diet. But every time my thumb acts up, I'm prompted to remember that God promises to hold my
right hand with His right hand.

God promises to help us, no matter what the future chapters of our life stories hold. 

Tweetable: Are you holding God's hand?



Sarah Lynn Phillips has authored numerous articles, devotions, and poems for both online and print publications. She offers a vision of hope in the hard times through her writing and speaking. Her favorite place is home where she enjoys spending time with her family, hosting her writers' group, and reading a great story. Contact Sarah: sarahlynnphillips3@gmail.com. You can get her book, Penned Without Ink, by clicking on the image. 







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