Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Great Separation - Martin Wiles

He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Matthew 25:333 NLT

I’d been in many churches in my young life, but never one where men and women did what they did in this one.

My maternal grandparents attended a small United Methodist church nestled on a county highway that was once heavily traveled before interstates came along. When I stayed with them, I attended church.

The first time I walked in, I noticed something differed from any other church I’d ever attended: the men sat on the left and the women sat on the right. Of course, male children sat on the side with their moms and grandmothers, but all other males sat on the left. I thought the practice curious but never wondered why.

One day I googled, “Why did men and women once sit on separate sides of the church?” Various answers popped up. Some related to tradition. Others related to Bible verses that I felt didn’t justify the practice.
At some point, the men and women quit separating in that little church. And I’ve not seen this done anywhere since.

Tradition isn’t the only thing that has separated people throughout time. Prejudice, social class, race, nationality, and many other things have. Even Jesus spoke of a separation. But this one will be final and the most pressing of any separations anyone has endured. Those on His left, He’ll send into eternal flames. Those on the right, He’ll invite into His eternal Kingdom.

God doesn’t will this great separation. Peter tells us He doesn’t want any perish (1 Peter 3:9). But God is holy, and those who choose to remain in their sins rather than accept Jesus’ forgiveness must be separated from Him.

Nor does God want people to be separated in life. God’s love contains the power to remove things that separate us from each other. When I see others as God does, prejudice won’t barricade me from them. History’s pages are filled with the evils separations have brought. God wants us to live in peace with each other and to love our neighbors as we do ourselves.

God allows us to choose separation from Him and others—even the choice that determines our eternal destiny. Choice is what makes us human. But our choices have consequences.

Choose to love God and others so your life now and in eternity will be happy and peaceful.



Prayer: Father, draw us to love You and others above ourselves, so that in the great separation we’ll hear you say, “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.”  


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Friday, February 15, 2019

Flashback Friday - Discovering Life's Answers - Martin Wiles

Discovering Life’s Answers

I’ve had questions. I have questions. I will have questions. Where should I turn for answers?

Among my life’s questions have been where I came from and how. As well as if a laundry list of items would hurt or kill me if I tasted them or got them on my hands. I’ve probed the validity of my faith and the reality of God. I’ve even questioned some of my questions. I’ve queried what heaven would be like and if I’ll recognize my loved ones. I’ve questioned decisions I’ve made that seemed logical at the time but later appeared irrational. And at 27, I decided to attend college to confront some of the theological questions others might ask me. Read more...

Tweetable: Where do you get your life answers?


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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Each New Sunrise - Martin Wiles

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 NLT

Early morning was his time, and the porch was his place.

I didn’t understand why my grandfather arose daily at five in the morning. After all, he was a full-time farmer, had no place to be at any particular time, and hired out most of his work. But when I spent time with him, I discovered why.

He rolled out of bed, put on the same pants he had worn the day before, and headed for the kitchen. He fixed a cup of instant coffee, smoked a cigarette or two, and headed for the porch—the side facing east. Although darkness still enveloped the surrounding fields and forests, he waited patiently. I soon found out for what.

One morning, I rose with him. He wanted to know why; I made up an excuse. When he sauntered onto the porch, I followed and sat beside him. As shapes began to appear, I saw what he came for. The sky turned an orange hue. An array of colors infiltrated the clouds. And then it appeared. The sun peeked over the pines that surrounded the fields in front of us. That’s what he waited for.

Once the sun topped the trees, my grandfather got up and went about his business. He wasn’t an overly religious man, but I believe he knew God authored each new day—as did the psalmist. And each day, the psalmist rejoiced.

My grandfather’s morning routine reminded me that God controls nature. He began the world through acts of creation, and He still controls it. Sin causes nature to do things God probably never intended—such as form natural disasters that take lives and property. But God can turn the hurricane, tsunami, or tornado if He chooses.

Beginning and ending my day with thanks for a new day is proper. Since God made the day, He must have things for me to do within it. Through prayer and attention to His indwelling Spirit, I discover what they are. Every day provides an opportunity to serve Him by serving others, to use the gifts He’s given, to care for the world He’s created, and to prepare myself for the eternity He has prepared.

Don’t let your emotions or circumstances ruin each new day God creates. God controls both, and He can enable you to rejoice regardless of what the day brings.



Prayer: Father, we rejoice in each new day You give us and anticipate the opportunities You will send.


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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Seeing Life Clearly - Martin Wiles

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT

I wondered how she could consider what I’d just witnessed cleaning.

My grandmother loved broomstraw brooms. When the straw in the fields grew waist high, she’d gather enough for a broom, then bind it with bailing twine.
Most older folks used such brooms to sweep their grassless yards, but my grandmother used hers to sweep the house. When I asked why she didn’t use a stick broom, she said she liked broomstraw brooms better.

One day while she swept, the sun’s rays poured through the kitchen window and the screen door. I observed particles of dust rise in the air—so many that they created a haze in the kitchen. I could barely see, and I wondered how she considered this cleaning. The floor might be clean, but everything else had inches of dust on it.

Sometimes, life parrots my grandmother’s kitchen when she swept. Things are fuzzy, not understandable, and unpleasant. I want to sneeze, cough, or throw up. To my grandmother—who was accustomed to this type of sweeping—doing it that way seemed natural. To me, it appeared contradictory.

Paul knew about the unclearness of life. He certainly didn’t understand everything God allowed into his life. Those who attempted to undermine his teachings hounded his steps—trying to undo the gospel message he preached so they could replace it with legalism. Persecution in various forms was his almost constant companion. But he believed a day would come when God would clear things up.

A haze can dust life just as it did my grandmother’s kitchen. I don’t understand why things are happening—or why they are occurring the way they are. Sometimes the fuzziness takes over because I’m filtering events through prejudices, traditions, or misinterpretations of the teachings of God’s Word. I create the haze, as my grandmother did with her broomstraw broom. A regular dose of Bible reading can clear the fog.

At other times, God creates the haze and doesn’t tell me why. His ways are higher than mine and beyond my understanding. No amount of pleading or reading will bring understanding. This is when my faith must kick in. I keep going—sweeping—although I don’t understand. 

Knowing God controls life events and believing He loves, forgives, and accepts us can clear up the hazy days.

When haze governs your life, trust God’s love and wisdom.



Prayer: Father, we walk by faith, trusting You know what is best for us. 


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