Thursday, June 21, 2018

Judged - Martin Wiles

For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. 2 Corinthians 5:10 NLT
Standing before a judge is frightening.
I’ve never stood before a judge—at least not as a criminal. I have served on jury duty—soon after graduating from high school. The one case I was picked for involved a serious crime. But we didn’t have a chance to finish deliberating. The accused confessed to a lesser charge.
Judges are daunting. They’ve been to school and received legal training. They have the power to say “guilty” or “not guilty” and then send you to jail or fine you a large sum of money.
Paul speaks of not just a judge but of the judge. He is qualified to judge because He is the creator of all humanity. He made the rules we’re supposed to abide by, and He has the power to pass sentence when we don’t. Our eternity is in His hand, but He determines it based on decisions we make—really just one decision.
The judgment bar is a future reality for everyone who has ever or ever will live. We must all stand before Christ to be judged. Escaping this judgment bar is not possible. On earth, if I obey the laws, I don’t have to worry about standing before a judge. But the final judgment I’ll attend whether I want to or not.
As people standing before a judge and jury are tried based on whether or not they committed certain actions, I’ll be judged in the final judgment based on one decision: what I did with Jesus Christ. Did I acknowledge Him as my Savior and repent of my sins, or did I merely think He was a good man who lived long ago and ignore Him? My entrance into heaven hinges on this decision.
Once the judge of all humanity has let me face the consequences of my earthly decision concerning His Son, there is no reversal. Once in hell, I can’t come back and do it all over again. The decision is tied to my earthly experience.
No one will escape the final judgment, but the good news is that the judge is a loving Savior. Not one who will overlook sin. Not one who will say, “Well, I know you did some bad things, but we’ll just overlook them.” But one who truly wants me in heaven with Him.
Make sure you’ve decided for Christ before you stand before His judgment bar.

Prayer: Father, thank You for making the way possible for us to spend eternity in heaven with You.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Racing Against Life - Martin Wiles

If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? Jeremiah 12:5 NLT
The finish line was three and one-tenth miles away, but it seemed farther.
At almost forty years of age, I decided to run. I had heard about the runner’s “high” and wanted to experience it. My daughter had been running track and cross country for a few years. Watching her and her teammates made my longing to run even keener. 
My goal was to run in 5K races. My morning walks were two miles. After getting conditioned to fast walking, I began jogging. My body could tell the difference. When I had the jogging down, I started running half my normal walking distance. In time, I began running the entire two miles.
Eventually, I worked up to 5K. When I felt I was in good enough shape to try a race, I signed up my daughter and me for charitable 5K races in nearby towns. I ran in several, but the running wasn’t easy. I finally decided I was either too heavy, too old, or too arthritic to run. I returned to walking.
As Jeremiah delivered his doomsday message that the southern kingdom of Judah would soon fall into the hands of their Babylonian enemies, people opposed him. God’s question was how he would stand—or run—when things got really bad.
At middle age, I’ve determined I can’t handle life. I never could; I just thought I could. When I was young, I was invincible—or so I thought. No harm could come to my body or my emotions. Death was conquerable. You know, the normal thoughts teens and young adults think—even though they know they’re irrational.
The fact that I needed God, truly needed Him, finally dawned on me. I didn’t need Him as a crutch. I could function. But I needed Him for a relationship. The issues of life often grow more complicated when one gets older. Things are not always cut and dry . . . black or white.
I won’t always understand life—as I’m sure Jeremiah didn’t. Leaning on God and letting Him help me run, will result in stronger faith, better wisdom, and greater dependence. His Spirit in me can help me run the race of life as nothing else can.
Running against life can be difficult. Depending on God’s Spirit, Christian friends, and other beneficial support systems helps. Don’t try to run the race of life alone.

Prayer: Father, guide us by Your Spirit so we might run well this race called life. 

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Throwback Tuesday - Helping Hands - Martin Wiles

Helping Hands

The doctor’s words shocked us: “You have one on each foot. I can do one at a time or both at the same time.”

We decided for both, and for the next two weeks, I helped my wife recover from planter’s wart surgery. If we went to the store, I pushed her in a wheelchair. At home, I helped her from point A to B by holding one of her arms while she hobbled on her heels. Without my helping hands, she would’ve been confined to her recliner. Read more...

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Sheltered - Martin Wiles

The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9 NLT
A shelter can be a welcome sight—and if often was for me.
The Appalachian Trail—which extends from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine—is a two thousand plus mile trail dotted with shelters. Some who thru-hike the trail don’t even carry a tent but depend on the shelters to protect them from the elements and provide a place to sleep, relax, read, wash clothes, and do other necessary things.
While their construction style varies, every one I’ve seen is three sided. Some have fireplaces, but the missing side allows snow and rain to blow in during storms, predators—such as bears and raccoons—to enter at will, and cold and heat to penetrate. Still, sleeping in a shelter is better than lying on the ground during the cold months or in inclement weather.
I’ve slept in a few of the shelters, and one thing they’re not is comfortable. They provide what is necessary, but no creature comforts. While better than nothing, they don’t begin to compare with a plush home. After all, those who stay there are backpacking and want to rough it in the wild.
The psalmist didn’t find his shelter in a three-sided structure, but in the Lord. He, too, as a lad, was an outside person. He tended sheep and also lived in the wilderness in caves for a time while running from a jealous king. He knew a thing or two about shelters.
As a shelter, God shelters me from sin and its dangers. When I ask, He forgives my sin and restores me to a right relationship with Him. Forgiveness shelters me from the eternal consequences of rejecting Him: hell. He also promises not to let temptations get so intense that I can’t walk away from them with His help.
God shelters me through life’s disappointments—and they are many. He won’t take them all away. They may often have a place in His plan for my life. But He will shelter me from the damaging emotional effects if I turn to Him instead of other things.
God also shelters me through periods of brokenness. When I’ve lost a job, a child, a spouse, my reputation, my peace, my friends. He gives a peace that surpasses my understanding.
Unlike the Appalachian Trail shelters, God’s shelter is fully enclosed, warm, peaceful, and always available. Run there often.

Prayer: Father, thank You for being our shelter in our times of need. 

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Whirlwind Called Life - Martin Wiles

"Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 NLT

The whirlwind of going to the grocery store seemed pointless.
Once a month, we make a major contribution to Walmart. On one such trip, the meaningless of grocery shopping became evident—except for the fact that I have to eat.
My wife rolls the buggy, picks out the items, hands them to me, and I place them into the cart. When we’re finished, we roll up to a cashier and take the same items I just placed in the cart out of the cart. The cashier scans our merchandise and puts it in a bag. I take the same items—only now bagged—and return them to the same cart I just took them out of.
After arriving home, I pick up the same bags I just picked up at the grocery store and carry them inside. My wife picks them up again and puts them in their respective places. By now, I’m tired of counting how many times I’ve handled these same items. There must be an easier way.
Life didn’t mean much to King Solomon—at least not when he tried to live it apart from God. He had all the wisdom and riches one person could want, but his many endeavors were meaningless when God wasn’t included. Life was a whirlwind of pointless activity for him.
Whether it appears so or not, life does have a purpose when lived with God in mind. As crazy as grocery shopping seems, I must have food and drink to survive—even if I do have to handle it six times before I’m done.
Life’s purpose isn’t found in play toys, possessions, knowledge, relationships, or good health—although all those things can be included in it. Solomon tried those tired efforts. If I listen to his conclusions, I won’t have to repeat his folly.
When life seems like a whirlwind of pointless activity and endeavors, I try to remember God sees what I can’t. He knows where He wants to take me and how He wants to get me there. When I open myself to the leadership of God’s Spirit, life takes on new meaning.
Life’s purpose will reveal itself if I approach it from the correct foundation: a relationship with Jesus Christ. Building my life on Him changes my perspective on everything—grocery shopping included.
Don’t get sucked in by the whirlwind of meaningless living. Live life from God’s point of view.
Prayer: Father, guide our steps so that we might understand Your purpose for us. 

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Flashback Friday - Free for the Asking - Martin Wiles

Free for the Asking

He stood behind the pulpit holding a single bill, begging someone to come forward and take it. 

Growing up as a preacher’s son, I attended many evangelistic meetings and revivals and witnessed the maneuvers of numerous speakers. One common tactic often occurred during the invitation when the speaker would hold the infamous dollar bill and encourage someone…anyone, to come forward and seize it—no strings attached. Usually, some brave child would finally run down the aisle and grab the money from the speaker’s hand…often at the prodding of a mother or father. Read more... 

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