Thursday, June 17, 2021

Sanded - Martin Wiles

So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:4 NLT

On nothing he ever made did I find a rough spot.

Dad was a perfectionist. When he found himself pastoring a small country church, leaving him little to do during the week except prepare his sermons and make a few visits, he decided to take up a new hobby: woodworking. He began with small things, like small picture frames on which he glued pictures he had cut from calendars or other places.

When Dad transitioned to a larger church, which took more of his time, he kept the hobby. He put all the tools and tables he had purchased and made under the carport, making it impossible for Mom to park her car there. By this time, he had graduated from smaller to larger projects. He even made Mom an entire bedroom suite.

Eventually, all of his family members had something Dad had made. But one thing no one would find on anything he made was a rough spot. He sanded, then ran his hand across the wood. If he found a coarse area, he sanded again. He repeated the process until the wood was as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

I’m sure Dad had a reason for sanding until the wood’s surface was smooth. Doing so made the varnish easier to apply, and it sure made the furniture easier to dust. I’m sure if the wood could speak, it would have told how much the sanding hurt.

James talks about a type of sanding God does—or, at least, allows. God calls His sanding trials, and they come to everyone. Enduring them produces perseverance, which in turn makes us perfect and complete.

I was born with sharp corners and rough edges. The Bible calls them sin. I arrived in the world with a sinful nature. My environment and circumstances further developed it, but I didn’t appear with a clean slate, making it possible for me not to need God’s help.

God performs His first sanding when I ask Him to forgive these sins and give me a new nature that wants to love and serve Him. But I need more sanding than just that first experience. I need a few trials … a few troubles … along life’s way. Maybe even a number of them.

Through the trials, God sands some more. And, like Dad, He runs His hand over my life to see if any rough spots still exist. Priorities. Unhealthy relationships. Are other things stealing my focus? Am I only squeezing a little time in for Him? Have I missed the boat financially? If so, He’ll sand a little more. And He’ll keep sanding until all the rough spots are smooth—a process that takes a lifetime and one that’s not always enjoyable, but needed.

God sands because He loves us. He wants us to mature into more than we presently are. He desires spiritual growth that will form us more into the likeness of His Son, which is His ultimate purpose and plan for us. Through God’s sanding, we learn to depend on Him, rather than ourselves.

Don’t resist God’s sanding. He has good purposes for it, and it will work for your good.

Prayer: Father, help us to respond appropriately when You sand us.

Tweetable: How do you respond to God's sanding? 


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Monday, June 14, 2021

Meandering Monday - Living on God’s Side - Martin Wiles

Welcome to Meandering Monday, where we take a trip back to an earlier post and enjoy it again. 

“Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” When Jesus heard him, he stopped. Mark 10:48-49 NLT

We were out for an afternoon of shopping with my in-laws.

Our city is average size but has never housed many homeless individuals. Since Wal-Mart is our busiest retail store, it only makes sense for some of the homeless to stand in its parking lot. And a man and his two daughters were.

When leaving the parking lot, my father-in-law turned in the opposite direction of our home. After questioning him, we discovered he was circling the block so he could help this homeless family. He eased to where they stood, rolled down the window, and handed them a disguised amount of money. My wife and I remarked that we had seen them there before. He simply replied, “When God tells me to do something, I do it.” Good advice.

Living on God’s side requires listening to the prompting of God’s Spirit. Jesus did when he encountered Bartimaeus—a blind man no one else had time for. As a believer, I have the privilege of carrying God with me every day. He works through my conscience and a still small voice, stimulating me to follow his direction. When I slow down long enough to listen—and when I’m spiritually tuned in—I’ll see those endeavors he wants me to pursue.

Sometimes living on God’s side means doing something that seems illogical or even wasteful. This is only because I don’t know the full story. I must trust God enough to listen and obey even when logic says to do the opposite.

When I live on God’s side, my heart will motivate me to show compassion to others as Jesus did—regardless of whether they’re in the tight spot because of their own bad decisions or not. Accomplishing this means prioritizing. Overloading my schedule with selfish endeavors or even good pursuits diminishes my time to listen to God’s Spirit and do what he’s nudging me to do.

What can you change to put yourself on God’s side?

Prayer: Merciful Lord, instill compassion in our hearts so that we might live on Your side.

Tweetable: Are you living on God's side? 


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Friday, June 11, 2021

Green Bean Bundles

  

 
Ingredients

3 cans French Style Green Beans (drained)

1 pound bacon (cut pieces in half)

1 stick of butter (melted)

1 cup of brown sugar

1 teaspoon garlic salt


Directions
 
Wrap 7 Green Beans with a half piece of bacon and place in
 
a greased 9 x 13 pan.

Repeat until all green beans are wrapped.

Combine butter with brown sugar and pour over the Green
 
Bean Bundles.

Sprinkle garlic salt over bundles.

Cover pan with aluminum foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.




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Thursday, June 10, 2021

Things Change - Martin Wiles

Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt. Exodus 3:10 NLT

Within ten minutes, our world changed.

My daughter and I had set out for an overnight backpacking trip—something we had not done together in nineteen years. The weather forecast predicted an 80% chance of thunderstorms. Having done a lot of hiking in the mountains before, we figured it would be 100%.

Our destination was Sam’s Knob, a rocky bald that boasted 360-degree views. We hoped to arrive before the storms did. At over 6,000 feet, we felt sure one or more of the thunderstorms would cross the summit, and we didn’t want to be exposed when they did.

Thunder rolled across neighboring peaks as we labored toward the top. We wearily gazed at angry clouds that stalked and passed over the tops of neighboring mountains. But the storms spared us. After a steep and rocky climb to the top, we welcomed our reward: several rocky places where we stood and gazed upon beauty we hadn’t witnessed in quite some time.

We stood and marveled and took pictures. We could see mountains far into the distance beyond the ones that immediately surrounded us. But what we also saw was numerous storm clouds.

Ten minutes after summitting, raindrops began to fall. Wisps of white clouds slithered through the valleys around us like snakes searching for a home. Soon, the clouds gobbled up the neighboring summits and swallowed the valleys. What appeared so clear and beautiful ten minutes earlier now disappeared.

Moses experienced a sudden change also. For forty years, he had lived on the backside of the desert tending sheep. Running from an angry Pharaoh put him there. Moses had killed one of Pharaoh’s citizens. One day, an angel of the Lord appeared to Moses and told him to lead the Israelites out of the slavery they had endured for 400 years.

Change is inevitable. We may not enjoy it, but we cannot live without experiencing it. Expecting it makes it easier to accept when it comes.

But some things never change. Among them, God. God told Malachi, “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed” (3:6). God will always love us and forgive us when we ask. Our confessions repeatedly reach His ears. God never turns away anyone who wants to enter His family, nor does He ever leave us when our circumstances turn ugly. And He is with us during times of change.

Unwelcome change may make us feel as if God has abandoned us, but He hasn’t. He controls the circumstances, and in His timing, He will change them. God knows what He has ahead for us, but sometimes it takes time for Him to prepare us for what’s ahead.

Our job is to be patient, trust God, keep doing the last thing He told us until we get further instruction, and not give up hope. With a sovereign God, things can change in a moment, as our mountain view did.

Don’t give up on God when unwelcome change occurs. He can change things again.

Prayer: Father, when unwelcome change approaches, help us trust You until the welcome change arrives.

Tweetable: How do you react when things change? 


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Monday, June 7, 2021

Meandering Monday - Making the Negative Positive - Martin Wiles

Welcome to Meandering Monday, where we take a trip back to an earlier post and enjoy it again. 

Then the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded. Exodus 15:24 NLT

I remember little about math beyond the basics, along with a small amount of algebra.

I was once asked to teach a sixth-grade math class. While I knew the material, I was uncomfortable being the instructor. When we arrived at positives and negatives, the kids became confused. Especially when I taught them that two negatives create a positive. Generating a positive from a negative is possible after all.

Moses had quite a few negatives in the bunch he led out of Egypt. When six million people start complaining, one has a problem. We don’t have any water. We don’t have any meat. We’re tired of this manna. Things were better back in Egypt. Who made you the boss? Just a few of the statements Moses dealt with. Moses wasn’t successful in turning all these negatives into a positive, but he made a valiant attempt with God's assistance.

Positives can be formed from negatives. Murmuring occurs when my perception is flawed. I’m not viewing the situation as God does or wants me to. Because of this, a negative spirit takes over, and I complain about my circumstances or a particular person. The Israelites didn’t see what God was doing.

Understanding people and circumstances can cut down on my negativism. Moses knew the people he led were a stubborn lot. I—like everyone else—am a product of my childhood experiences. If I grew up around murmuring, I’m likely to follow suit.

Being around others who have a complaining spirit is contagious. Multiplying two negatives makes a positive—so does multiplying two positives. When I love and encourage those who are negative, the chances of them altering their attitudes increases. Dealing with negative people requires God’s wisdom. Only he can change their heart, but my positivism will go a long way in influencing them toward the same end.

Are you allowing someone else’s negative spirit to affect your positive outlook on life?

Prayer: Father, make us the bright light of encouragement to those who suffer from a negative attitude.

Tweetable: How can you turn negatives into positives? 


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Friday, June 4, 2021

Broccoli Casserole

 


Ingredients
3 CUPS LIGHTLY STEAMED BROCCOLI

1 CUP MILK

1 STICK BUTTER (MELTED)

1 SLEEVE RITZ CRACKERS

2 CUPS SHREDDED CHEDDAR CHEESE
         
½ CUP MAYONNAISE

1 CAN CREAM OF CHICKEN SOUP
      
2 EGGS (BEATEN)

SALT/PEPPER

Directions
MIX BUTTER AND CRUSHED CRACKERS TOGETHER.

 SPRAY CASSEROLE DISH.

PLACE ONE HALF OF CRACKERS ON THE BOTTOM OF DISH.

MIX SOUP, MAYONNAISE, EGGS, MILK, AND SALT/PEPPER TOGETHER.

LAYER BROCCOLI OVER CRACKERS, SOUP MIXTURE, AND CRACKERS.

TOP WITH CHEESE.

BAKE AT 350 FOR 30 MINUTES OR UNTIL BROWN.


We believe good food and God's Word go well together. After you've enjoyed this dessert--or even as you enjoy it--why not hop over to our main page and enjoy one of our encouraging devotions.

Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

To Each a Time - Martin Wiles

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. Hebrews 9:27 NKJV

I stared at the email, not believing what my eyes saw.

Frank was a member of a church I once pastored. I could never have found a finer fellow or a better friend. His wife and I were distantly related. Frank attended church every time the doors opened, helped with every event the church held, went on mission trips the church sponsored, assisted with cooking church meals, and worked on the local disaster relief team. He once said to me, “I’m a servant. Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. But I’m not a leader.”

Now, he was gone. Cut down at a young 75 years of age. I read the email from another friend telling me of Frank’s untimely death. He and his family had eaten Sunday lunch together. Afterward, Frank and his wife had jumped on the golf cart and headed to move cows from one pasture to another. While on the way, Frank slumped over in her lap. Dead.

Although their son performed CPR on him until the ambulance arrived—and although the medical personnel used paddles on him—Frank was gone. His family stood in shock—as did the rest of the community.

I read the post one of his son’s posted on social media: “We all thought we had at least another decade with Daddy.” Everyone else did, too. At least that much. Frank ate right and avoided addictive substances. He was thin and never sick. A prime candidate for long life.  

The writer of Hebrews reminds us of what we often don’t enjoy thinking about: death. God appoints the time. It comes early for some and later for others. Sometimes, the most wicked people live a long life while good people are cut down in the prime of life—or even before.

Frank didn’t have to worry about the second part of the verse. God would not judge him. Frank’s judgment had been placed on Christ many years before when he trusted Christ as his Savior and asked Him to forgive his sins. Closing his eyes on earth just gave Frank the opportunity to reopen them in heaven.

Frank did what God wants each of us to do: love God, serve others, and show mercy. When we do those things, we’ll live a fulfilled life—regardless of how many years God gives us. We’ll complete our mission on earth even when others might want us to stay around a little longer.

Atheist Bertrand Russell said, “Brief and powerless is Man's life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark.” But for believers, death is not pessimistic.  

God has an appointed time for each of us. Make sure you live your life as He intends before that time arrives.

Prayer: Father, when our eyes close on earth, we look forward to opening them in heaven with You.

Tweetable: Are you ready for your time? 


Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.