Saturday, June 22, 2024

Banana Nut Muffins

 

Banana Nut Muffins

Ingredients
1 BOX SPICE CAKE MIX

2 EGGS

1 CUP MILK

1/3 CUP CHOPPED PECANS

1/3 CUP OIL

1 BANANA (MASHED)

Directions
MIX ALL INGREDIENTS TOGETHER.

POUR INTO GREASED MUFFIN PANS.

BAKE AT 350 DEGREES FOR 15 TO 20 MINUTES.

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Friday, June 21, 2024

The Green-Eyed Monster - Martin Wiles

the green-eyed monster
They said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?” But the Lord heard themNumbers 12:2 NLT

He planned to get that trophy—he had even prayed about it.

On the Andy Griffith episode, “A Medal for Opie,” Andy and Barney sponsored a Sheriff’s Day boy’s race. Andy’s son, Little Opie, wasn’t the most athletic boy in town, but he suddenly decided to win the race and get the trophy.

Deputy Barney Fife knew a little about everything—or at least thought he did—so he offered to help Opie train. Opie hadn’t thought about the training part, but Barney told him that was a part of winning. Opie ran, jumped rope, and did other things Barney told him in hopes of winning the trophy. Before he went to bed at night, he prayed for God to help him win. And while he slept, he dreamed of all the medals he’d win and how he’d ultimately get the trophy.

Race day came, and Opie was ready—or so Barney said and Opie thought. Barney stood at the starting line, pistol at the ready, and Andy positioned himself at the finish line, timer in hand. Opie and several other boys lined up. When Barney fired the gun, the boys took off. But Opie didn’t win. In fact, he came in last.

As the other boys congratulate the winner, Opie lumbers home, sits on the couch, and sulks. Later, Andy walks in, sits beside him, and tells him they need to discuss being a good loser. Opie was being a sore loser. Opie didn’t want to congratulate his friends because they had stolen his medals. When Opie refuses to change his mind about how he is acting, Andy says, “Well, I want you to know, I’m disappointed in you.”

His father’s words hurt, but they brought him face-to-face with a problem many of us have: jealousy. After thinking about what his father said, Opie apologized and walked to his office and apologized.

Aaron and Miriam had the same problem as Opie. God had chosen their brother Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery, through the wilderness, and into the Promised Land. Along the way, they decided to do a little jealousy-grumbling. Why should their brother get all the attention? Make all the decisions? God rewarded Miriam’s attitude with a dose of leprosy—probably because she led the jealousy coup.

I suppose I’ve acted like Opie occasionally. Pouted because somebody outdid me in something. Got something I thought I deserved. Seemed to get all the breaks. Got a better job. Landed the book contract. Secured the agent.

Dad always called jealousy the green-eyed monster. Defeating him has much to do with trusting others. Some will try their best to outdo us in everything, maybe even using crooked means. But believing the best about others—not seeing them as enemies out to make our lives miserable—helps keep the green-eyed monster at bay.

God doesn’t create us to be good at everything. Someone somewhere will always be better or at least get more breaks than we do. Life often is about competition, but it shouldn’t be. God wants us to do our best. He has created us with gifts and talents for our unique circumstances. Others may have similar gifts and skills, but they have a different set of circumstances. Our job is to find our niche and give God our all.

When we put others ahead of ourselves, the jealousy monster slinks away. Jesus said the greatest commands were to love God with our entire being and our neighbors as ourselves. Doing that keeps jealousy from rearing its ugly head. We’ll congratulate others for their achievements rather than lumber home, sit on our couches, and sulk. Life will become about others, not us. And we’ll enjoy life as God intends.

Let God help you squash that green-eyed monster when he rears his ugly head.

Father, give me strength to seek unity so jealousy won’t overtake me.


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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Swim Don’t WADE - Martin Wiles

swim don't WADE
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sinkMatthew 14:29-30 NLT

My plans were in place, but circumstances beyond my control changed them.

I was in college, finally preparing for what God had called me to do: preach. However, I had always felt a part of that call was also to teach.

Twenty miles away was a university that worked with my college. If a graduate entered their master’s program, all their earned credits would transfer. Within one year, I could complete my graduate degree and be certified in elementary education. 

But a few months before graduation, my plans melted. I had recently quit my part-time job, and now my wife’s employer told her she was closing the business. By graduation night, we were both unemployed.

I was devastated. I could preach, but my chance of teaching—at least in the public sector--had vanished like a bad dream. Peter may have felt the same when he tried to walk on water. Wasn’t he one of the disciples who had left his business immediately when Jesus called him to follow? Hadn’t he palled around with Him and listened intently to His teachings? Wasn’t he the one who understood Jesus was the Messiah? Now, he wanted to test his faith. But he was disappointed. When Peter saw the waves’ angry arms grasping at his ankles, he sank like a stone.

Since I can’t swim, I will only wade. But some wading I don’t care for, and this tends to happen when disappointments wash over me. I Worry, even though God says worry is unnecessary because He’ll care for His children’s needs.

I’m also prone to drift toward Anxiety. God’s Word also reminds me I don’t have to be anxious. Instead, I can submit my prayers and concerns to God, and He’ll calm the waves.

When I wade, I can drift toward Depression. After all, depression is just around the corner when worry and anxiety are present.

But the worst-case scenario when I wade is that I’ll experience Emotional burnout. Rather than controlling my emotions, my emotions will control me. When moods fluctuate, trust in and service to God also do.

Don’t WADE. Trust God regardless of your circumstances.

Father, thank You that no waves are too high that Your love and sustaining power can’t help me overcome. 

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Monday, June 17, 2024

When Death Stares - Martin Wiles

when death stares
The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death itself stared me in the face. 2 Samuel 22:6 NLT

She lay quietly on her bed … pale … yellow … a picture of death.

Though uncommon in their historical time, my parents came from families with only two children. Mom once received word that doctors had detected cancer in several of her sister’s major organs. The prognosis wasn’t good. Six months at best. Her daughter called to say we should come if we wanted to see her.

A number of family members gathered on a cool Friday morning to make the three-hour drive. She greeted us with a smile, especially when she saw two of my grandchildren she had only heard about. One, too young to know what was happening, sat on her stomach and cooed. The other, perceiving something was amiss since she was lying in a hospital bed, shyly gave her a kiss and said he loved her.

After a short visit, most of us said our goodbyes. While Mom hung around a little longer, my brother and I took a stroll. Since my aunt lived next door to what was once my grandparents’ farmhouse, we had a chance to gander over the property. As I took the short stroll, I was struck by a thousand resurrected childhood memories—hunting, playing in the hog pens, picking weeds from cotton fields, and sitting on my grandmother’s front porch.

I knew I’d probably set foot on this property only one more time. Suddenly, it wasn’t my aunt’s impending doom staring me in the face anymore. My mortality gazed into my eyes—intensely.

David penned these words after God had rescued him from his enemies—particularly his father-in-law and archenemy Saul. On numerous occasions—as he fought and ran for his life--death stared him in the face. But each time, God delivered him.

My aunt wasn’t delivered from death--only its sting. Neither will I when the time comes. Unless I’m alive when the Lord returns, I, like everyone else, will walk through and be overcome by death’s haunting shadow. It is appointed for everyone to die and, after that, to face judgment. Yet I can do like David: cry out to the Lord in my distress.

Death is a reality. We may prolong it by making healthy living choices, but eventually, it will make its appearance. When it might stare us in the face is not as important as being ready when it does. Faith in Christ is the only preparation. We made sure our aunt had taken care of this. She had. Sometimes, we focus so much on others that we forget our family.

Good news awaits. When we’ve made the faith connection, death ushers us into a beautiful eternity prepared by our heavenly Father. Be confident of your eternal dwelling when death looks into your eyes.

Father, thank You that in Jesus Christ, death loses its sting. 

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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Baked Beans

 

 



Ingredients

4 16-ounce cans of baked beans (drained)        


1 onion (chopped)


2 cups brown sugar


1 bottle chili sauce    


1 pound thick bacon (cooked and crumbled)


Directions

Combine all ingredients.


Stir until blended.


Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes.


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I invite you to try my newest book, Hurt, Hope, and Healing, in eBook or paperback. These 52 devotions will take you from hurt to hope to healing. And thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.

Friday, June 14, 2024

The Throw-Down - Martin Wiles

the throw-down
“Throw it down on the ground,” the Lord told him. So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back. Exodus 4:3 NLT

As a child, I loved to read. During my rebellious teen years, I stopped reading. In college, I re-discovered my love of books. My library grew—this was before eBooks came along. Since my wife and I later became antique collectors, I suppose it was natural for me to collect old books—old meaning books published before 1940. The spare bedroom in our small patio townhome became my office and library. Bookshelves lined each wall, mostly filled with old books my wife and I discovered at thrift stores.

Only a few of my books held value to anyone else or an antique dealer—such as my oldest book, which came from a Charleston, South Carolina, library and boasts a publication date a shade over two hundred years ago. But all hold great value to me. When I am dead and gone, my children will either sell them at a yard sale or, more likely, donate them to a thrift store. I don’t read any of my old books. The time-worn pages wouldn’t stand turning without falling out, or the binding would crumble. They sit on my shelves or at various places around the house where my wife uses them as decorations.

At least, that’s how the bedroom looked before we decided to turn it into a bedroom for the grandboys or other overnight guests. My wife—an intelligent woman—produced a solution using a picture she had seen on Instagram. We needed to eliminate four shelves of books to make room for the bed, but how? Use the books as a headboard, of course. We needed one anyway, since we only had a frame for the mattress.

So, I handed my wife books I’d probably never use—newer books—and she stacked them on the floor. Before I knew it, she had constructed a headboard, carefully placing old books that the grandboys would one day read on the top so they could reach them. We slid the bed frame against her masterpiece and had a headboard. This allowed me to display my old books on the remaining shelves.

Our headboard stood firm until I decided I wanted a book near the bottom of the headboard stack. I carefully removed the book, thinking it would not affect my wife’s masterpiece. I was wrong. Like dominos, three-fourths of the books tumbled to the floor and onto me. I had created a mess—one my wife was not in the mood to fix. She made several attempts but could never arrange them as they were initially. Finally, she turned the catastrophe over to me to do the best I could.

All of this in the name of keeping old books. I can’t imagine throwing them down and tearing up their fragile bindings, casting them aside, selling them, or donating them to a thrift store or library. Perhaps Moses also couldn’t imagine casting aside what he depended on so much: his shepherd’s staff.

God’s people had languished in Egyptian slavery for four hundred years, but now the time had come for their deliverance. Moses had been shepherding his father-in-law’s sheep. Shepherds need a good staff for many reasons. But when God appeared to Moses in a flaming bush and told him to tell the king of Egypt to let the Israelites go, Moses had to throw down what he depended on temporarily.

This wouldn’t be the last time Moses had to throw down his staff. He later used it to divide the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross. He also used it to strike a rock so water would flow out for the thirsty wilderness wanderers.

Letting go of things we cherish is difficult, but sometimes they get in our way of serving God. Moses had to change his view of his staff. He had to throw down what he had once used it for and begin to see it as an instrument to fulfill God’s plan.

Jesus said He would reward those who gave up everything to follow Him. He didn’t always ask everyone to surrender all they had, but some He did. Whether we have to misses the point. Our willingness is the key.

Moses made a few excuses for why he wasn’t the right man for the job and couldn’t go to the king at God’s request. God answered each excuse. Moses had to throw them down, as he did the staff.

God’s plan for us varies, but it always involves a throw-down. Not a fight with God—although sometimes it might come to spiritual blows—but a voluntary letting go of what keeps us from moving forward with God’s will.

Some of the things we hold onto are sinful; some are not. But even those that aren’t, we need to throw down if they interfere with us doing what God asks. The list is endless, interesting, challenging, and unique to each of us. It may include relationships, jobs, play toys, hobbies, habits, friends, family members, education, and dreams. God will help us forge forward without looking back when we’re willing.

Consider at least one thing you might need to throw down so God can have your full attention.

 

Father, lead me to throw down those things that keep me from Your best. 


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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

A Different Peace - Martin Wiles

a different peace
The peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 NLT

I’ve often thought if I could avoid financial crunches, I would experience peace. Having enough to pay the monthly obligations with adequate left over for investments, hobbies, entertainment, and savings. Surely, I’d be at peace. A trouble-free marriage would also bring peace. Both mates get along, never fight, and have a couple of complacent kids to boot. What better picture of tranquility?

Of course, we also look for a peaceful retirement. Not having to work until we die or become unable to work. Social Security not running dry before we can draw out what we’ve invested during our working careers. Hoping it will be sufficient monthly to cover what expenses we’ll still have. Doing what we want when we want with no one to tell us differently. Ah, the life. Peace.

While the above scenarios might bring peaceful circumstances, there’s no guarantee we would grasp serenity. Inner turmoil can still rage where financial solidity, marital stability, and retirement security exist. Jesus proposes peace within such circumstances but also apart from them. The above is the type of peace the world promises. All things must be in place to experience it—no troubles, trials, or stressors. Jesus’ peace is radically different. Some might classify it as odd.

Jesus’ peace has nothing to do with circumstances and everything to do with relationship and understanding. God created us to have a relationship with Him. When sin severs that connection—which it does for every person born—we are robbed of peace. We search for it in financial security, relationships, substances, and entertainment but never find it. Or if we think we have, we soon discover it’s only temporary. Soon, we’ll want a different toy.

Jesus sends His Spirit to give us what no other play toys or circumstances can: lasting peace. A soothing calmness in the face of danger, adversity, and hostile situations. A peace unlike any the world can offer or understand. A gentle reassurance that all things are in His hands—and we are, too. A peace we can’t understand or even explain, but when we have it, we aren’t troubled or afraid. We know He is in control.

Let God give you this different type of peace.

Father, thank You for giving a peace that pervades regardless of my circumstances. 

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I invite you to try my newest book, Hurt, Hope, and Healing, in eBook or paperback. These 52 devotions will take you from hurt to hope to healing. And thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.