Saturday, February 27, 2021

A Captive Conscience - Martin Wiles

But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. 1 Samuel 24:5 NLT

My conscience spoke … but I didn’t listen.

My conscience had been programmed with the right stuff. Mom and Dad made sure of that. They took me to church every time the doors opened. I heard Daddy preach the Bible, and I listened as teachers told me Bible stories. At home, my rules mimicked God’s commands, and discipline followed if I didn’t adhere to them. I also experienced the positive side of God’s commands as I enjoyed love from my family that parroted God’s love.

Then I became a teenager, and things changed. I didn’t enjoy the rules anymore. And suddenly, Mom and Dad seemed overbearing. I wanted to get away … to do my own thing. Having friends who felt the same way didn’t help. Bad company can corrupt good morals. I didn’t stand for the right but reveled in the wrong.

As I enjoyed my bad behavior, my conscience bothered me. I knew my behavior was wrong and displeased my parents, my teachers at church—and God. At the moment, I didn’t care.

Eventually, my conscience got the better of me. I confessed, repented, and turned back to the way I knew was right. This soothed my conscience and made life more pleasant.

Like me, David listened to his conscience. David served as a warrior in King Saul’s army, but God had also chosen him as the next king. The prophet Samuel had anointed him as such when he was only a shepherd boy herding his father’s sheep. As David’s military conquests increased, so did Saul’s jealousy. Now, David ran, and Saul hunted him.

As Saul entered a cave to use the bathroom—a cave David and his army hid in—David crept up behind him and cut off a small portion of his robe. That’s when his conscience kicked in. Even though Saul reigned as a cruel and ungodly king, God had commanded that the people support the king. David apologized to Saul.

Our conscience makes up a part of humanity. God works to help us know the difference between right and wrong. When we choose the wrong, God convicts us. If we don’t listen, the conviction—and discipline—grows. Years of rejection can lead to a seared conscience. One where doing wrong doesn’t bother us anymore. A dangerous place.

The right response to God’s conviction is repentance and confession. When we do this, things between us and God are righted again. He can use us in His Kingdom’s work, and we will once again enjoy life.

Our conscience can be our guide only when we have programmed it with God’s commands and principles. Why not do that so your conscience can guide you properly.

Prayer: Father, give us the courage to program our consciences with the right things.

Tweetable: Do you have a captive conscience? 


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Friday, February 26, 2021

Flashback Friday - Balanced - Martin Wiles

Balanced

Time comes in the same increments for everyone.

So be careful how you live… Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Ephesians 5:15-16

Flipping and tumbling across the floor didn’t concern me. Even bouncing off the trampoline and flipping over the horse beam didn’t tax my nerves. Watching her swing round and round on the bars only made me a little nervous. What set my nerves on edge was the balance beam. The other gymnastic activities my daughter performed could have resulted in injury, but the balance beam appeared the most dangerous. Walking, jumping, and flipping on a piece of a narrow slither of wood simply didn’t seem safe. Happily, she never injured herself. Read more...

Tweetable: How are you finding balance? 


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Thursday, February 25, 2021

A Glad Reunion - Martin Wiles

And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God. Luke 13:29 NLT

I made the trip—all in the name of a cedar chest.

I thought I had inherited all the family treasures that any family member had left—until my dad’s sister called. She wanted to know if I wanted my great-grandmother’s piano and night table, as well as my grandmother’s cedar chest. Of course, I did. Although my wife and I are downsizing as I near retirement years, we are hanging on to family heirlooms.

I called a friend who has a truck and asked if he and his wife would drive us two hours away to get my treasures. I had my doubts we’d be able to get the piano—doubts that proved true. Old pianos either take a forklift or six good men to lift. We had neither. But I did get the cedar chest, the table, and a laundry hamper full of old pictures.

But the greatest joy of the trip wasn’t the treasures. That came in getting to see my aunt, my uncle, and my cousin. Nine years had passed since I’d even talked with my aunt and uncle, and I hadn’t seen my cousin in as many years. Since we had always been close growing up, this was the treasure—and the joy—of the trip. 

Jesus taught about a narrow door, Himself, through whom all people must enter if they want to experience another joyful reunion at the end of time. A reunion where all who have believed in Him from the beginning of time will live together forever while enjoying the presence of God and the angels.

Seeing the One face to face who died for us will be joy enough, but other things will make this heavenly reunion pleasant also. The things that separate us on earth will disappear. One hundred miles separate me from my cousin, and ninety miles from my aunt and uncle. The same amount of space separates me from the place I love to go more than anywhere else: the mountains. But prejudice, selfishness, greed, social class, and other things can also separate.

Our eternal home will also know no sorrow, tears, pain, or sin of any variety. This, too, will make it joyous. We will surely have a feast of food, but the greater feast will be worshiping and praising the One who gave His life that we might have forgiveness.

Have you made plans to attend the greatest reunion ever?

Prayer: Father, thank You for providing the greatest reunion ever.

Tweetable: Are you anticipating the greatest reunion of all? 


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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Rejected - Martin Wiles

Absalom did this with everyone who came to the king for judgment, and so he stole the hearts of all the people of Israel. 2 Samuel 15:6 NLT

Frankie experienced something he never wanted: rejection.

Frankie remembered the day well. The day his wife said, “I don’t love you anymore.” Then she proved it by leaving him and their two children. As if that rejection wasn’t bad enough, more followed. Frankie pastored churches in a denomination that frowned upon divorced pastors … almost ostracized them, in fact.

Frankie sent out hundreds of resumes to churches. Nothing. He finally decided to take a job outside of church work, and for the next six years, he worked diligently in areas he didn’t think God had called him. Then he remarried. His new wife wanted him to pastor again. More resumes. More rejections. Nothing seemed to have changed, until one church took a chance on him and called him as pastor. But even there, some members rejected his leadership because he had been divorced.

Like Frankie, I remember rejection as a child. I wasn’t the most athletically built boy. Nor was I interested in sports. So, when Physical Education class took place, and the teacher chose two team captains to pick teams, I was always the last one selected. Rejection hurt then … as it does now.

King David knew rejection too—and by one of his own sons who decided he wanted to be king. He brown-nosed the people, who eventually turned to him as king and rejected his father. Absalom eventually ran his father out of town.

The reasons others may reject us vary. Often it concerns our appearance, jealousy, or our likes and dislikes. Sometimes, it’s because they see others rejecting us, so they just follow suit. Acceptance is one of our basic needs and when others don’t accept us, it hurts … deeply.

God gives us good news though. He never rejects us. When we turn to Him, we find Him turned to us. He loved us enough to send His Son to die for us, and He accepts us based on what Christ has done on Calvary.

Acknowledging our hurt is beneficial. So is realizing that not everyone will ever accept us. Jesus was perfect, but rejected by many. But amongst others’ rejection is God’s acceptance, and His is the only real acceptance that matters. His acceptance allows us to experience peace and fulfillment in life.

Seek to live at peace with others, but more than that enjoy the acceptance of God.

Prayer: Father, thank You for accepting us, even when others reject us.

Tweetable: Have you been rejected? 


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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Throwback Tuesday - Strength in Unity - Martin Wiles

Strength in Unity

We can accomplish more together than we can apart.

Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. Ephesians 4:3 NLT

A charter member leaves the church because children are allowed to play games in the family life center. A group splits and forms their own church because they didn’t like a decision made by the majority. A member spreads vicious rumors about one of the church’s leaders even though they are false. A member disagrees with the majority’s decision on a matter but becomes a thorn that spreads dissent in the church. Members fight over the style of music, the color of the carpet, or what color to paint the Sunday school rooms. A young Christian leaves the church when the church decides they won’t continue in a community fellowship because it is interracial. Just a few of the situations I’ve encountered in my church journey. Read more...



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Monday, February 22, 2021

Seeing with God’s Eyes - Martin Wiles

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NLT

Vision problems have haunted me since I was a young lad.

At the tender age of ten, I received my first pair of glasses. Many changes in lens’ strength followed through the years—and many different styles of frames. Later in life, I added drops to stave off glaucoma and dry eye disease.

But my blurry vision didn’t prevent me from seeing some things I wish I hadn’t: pride, prejudice, greed, hate, abuse, crime, jealousy, selfishness, misplaced priorities. Nor did blurry vision keep me from viewing some things I was glad I had seen: love, kindness, sacrifice, selflessness, joy, peace, self-control.

Sometimes, I don’t see what I need to see, and God must correct my vision. Such as He did with Samuel. King Saul was done. God gave Samuel the prophet the responsibility to choose the next king from among Jesse’s sons. Quite naturally, Samuel thought he’d find the next king among the most handsome or athletically built of Jesse’s sons. God corrected him. David—the youngest, the one who tended the sheep—was God’s choice. Samuel took an outside-in approach in the selection process while God took an inside-out approach.

God hasn’t changed His method of looking at people—us included. When we acknowledge what Christ has done on Calvary’s cross—paid for our sins—receive the gift by faith, and follow Him in obedience, God forgives our sins and clothes us in the righteousness of Christ. We are saved by Christ’s righteousness, not our own.

When God looks at His children, He sees Christ’s righteousness. We are no longer dirty sinners, but saints. Our situation should not lead to pride, however, because our position has nothing to do with us but everything to do with Christ in us.

Knowing this helps us view others differently as well. Instead of seeing others as we often see them—with all their faults and failures—we can view them as God does us. Masterpieces in the making. People with unfulfilled potential. And when we see them this way, we love our neighbors as we do ourselves.

Ask God to help you see others—and yourself—as He sees them.

Prayer: Father, thank You for seeing us as we are in Christ, not as we would be without Him.

Tweetable: How's your eyesight? 


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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Enjoy the Meal - Martin Wiles

When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight. Jeremiah 15:16 NLT

I love to eat … the wrong things.

I remember when McDonald's first opened a restaurant in my hometown. Back when they still counted the number of burgers they served. Back when a hamburger was twenty-five cents, and a cheeseburger was thirty cents. Back when I could still eat as much as I wanted—and still not gain weight. I loved all their burgers, but especially the Big Mac and the cheeseburger. Then came Hardees and Burger King. I ate there, too, but nothing pleased my palate like McDonald's.

Pizza Hut also had an establishment in my hometown. On Saturdays, while I bagged groceries at the local Piggly Wiggly, my friends and I would head here during our lunch hour. We’d all share a nice juicy pepperoni pizza.

Then I fell in love with Little Debbie. Dad always said he hoped there would be ice cream in heaven. I hope Little Debbie has at least one manufacturing plant there. Anything Little Debbie produces, I love. Out of date? Doesn’t matter. Calories? Not so good. The fifty-cent honey buns I’m fond of boast a whopping 350 calories.

But when you’re eating what you shouldn’t, who looks at calories? Doing so ruins the enjoyment. When Dad began having heart trouble, the doctor told him he needed to cut out his daily intake of ice cream. He said, “Doc, I’ve been eating ice cream all my life, and I plan to keep eating it.” And he did, although he did cut down on the serving size.

I feel the same way about the stuff I shouldn’t eat for health reasons. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve cut way back on the unhealthy foods I enjoy and focused more on eating healthier.

Some healthy foods I just can’t stomach. God’s Word isn’t one of them. Jeremiah devoured God’s words. They were like a fire in his bones he had to savor … and then deliver to others.

Sometimes, God’s Word is bitter, such as when it convicts me of an action or attitude I shouldn’t have. Or when it instructs me to do something I don’t care to do. But when I change and obey, God’s Word becomes as sweet as one of those Little Debbie items.

Enjoying a meal of God’s Word entails believing it’s inspired or authored by God. Otherwise, we’ll take it or leave it as it suits us. We need it to sustain our spiritual life. If we don’t eat a regular diet of it, we’ll dry up and miss out on God’s best. I never leave any of a Little Debbie when I’m eating one, and I shouldn’t of God’s Word either. All of it holds importance.

God’s Word changes our lives when we’re intentional about eating it regularly. Be intentional about making it a normal part of your diet.

Prayer: Father, lead us to desire Your Word above all other things.

Tell us what meals you enjoy, but shouldn't.  

Tweetable: Are you eating the right meals? 


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