Thursday, February 27, 2020

On Call - Martin Wiles

Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Luke 6:36 NKJV

I wondered why I could do a task and stop while my wife kept moving from one task to another.

That was before I attended a seminar entitled Brain-Based Gender Differences in Boys & Girls, Men & Women. I learned fifteen percent more blood flows in the female brain than in the male brain. When a boy listens, he normally listens with only one side of his brain. In women, blood typically flows in both hemispheres of the brain. Not so with boys and men.

The male can “zone out” and enter an “empty box” where they can actually think about nothing. A wife may not understand a man saying “Nothing” when she asks him what he’s thinking about, but he actually can. Women have a difficult time thinking about nothing. Their brains work constantly with constant activity between both spheres. We might say the female brain is always on call. Not so with men and boys.

Somewhat like having a job where the employee is on call 24/7. I’ve had a few of those jobs. Nowhere I went was I off duty. Ever. I worked—or at least had the potential to work—365 days a year, and with no extra compensation. I prefer set hours where I can enjoy downtime. I suppose that’s because I am a man and don’t want my brain—or body—to work continually.

But two things I should always be on call for are mercy and love. Jesus said when I do I follow the example of the heavenly Father who demonstrates love and mercy. God the Father showed these qualities when He sent His Son to pay our sin debt. He continues to show them daily to His children—and even as a by-product to those who aren’t.

As God’s representative—and the recipient of His love and mercy—I’m to show the same to others. God’s mercy never runs out and ours for others shouldn’t either. Evil destroys our world in many different ways, so the need to show mercy will linger until God creates the new heaven and the new earth.

As the female brain is continuously on call, so our efforts to find ways to demonstrate mercy should be also. God wants us to channel what He has deposited in our hearts.

Ask God to send you daily opportunities to be on call to show mercy to others.

Prayer: Father, may we always be on call to show love and mercy to others.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Get It Right - Martin Wiles

Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.” John 14:23 NLT

“We’ve never had a teacher tell us to do our homework wrong.”

Middle Schoolers are an interesting breed, particularly the sixth graders who are experiencing their first year in Middle School. To have a teacher tell them to do their homework incorrectly confuses them—and I do it every year.

One particular year, we began by studying typos—grammatical or formatting mistakes that we tend to overlook when proofreading. After one day of studying typos, I gave them a homework assignment to write five sentences with typos.

Their eyes got wide, and confused looks decorated their faces. That’s when one of the little tikes made the comment about never having had a teacher tell them to do their homework incorrectly. But I had a reason. The students would switch papers and try to locate the typos in their classmates’ work. I wanted them to get it right, so I asked them to do it wrong.

Not so with God. He doesn’t want us to experiment with the wrong to get it right. He wants us to obey from the start. Jesus says He and the Father will dwell with those who do what He says. Obedience is the key to getting it right in life—or, for my students, getting it wrong.

God has moral standards whether or not we choose to accept them. Some chose to live by relativistic standards. Right and wrong are measured by circumstances—or by what they’d like to be right or wrong. God doesn’t measure right and wrong by those, or any other ways. He measures right and wrong by what He, the ultimate authority, establishes as correct and incorrect behavior, attitudes, and words.

Once established, He then measures our behavior by His standards. Although He gives us the free will to obey or disobey, He doesn’t do so at the expense of discipline or punishment. Total disobedience brings punishment, and periodic waywardness leads to discipline.

Obedience, on the other hand, ushers in a life such as we’ve never experienced before. Through the presence of His Spirit, God gives us the power to obey. When we do, we’ll wonder why we ever wanted not to. Joy, along with a strong presence of God in our lives, accompanies a life of obedience to commands that God designs for our ultimate spiritual, mental, and physical health.

Don’t see how close you can come to getting it wrong. Let God help you get it right so you can experience the best life possible.

Prayer: Father, guide us along the right paths so that we can get it right presently and in eternity.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Throwback Tuesday - Prayer's Power - Martin Wiles

Prayer’s Power

Series: Practical Advice for Life

A young girl phoned a local pastor. Her father was dying, and she wanted the minister to pray with him. When the pastor arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up by two pillows. Beside the bed was an empty chair. “I suppose you were expecting me,” the pastor commented. But the man told him no and asked who he was. After identifying himself, the pastor listened as the man told the story of the empty chair.

He had never learned to pray even though he listened to his pastor encourage it on many occasions. He finally just gave up until four years prior when a friend told him, “Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus.” He suggested I place an empty chair in front of me and pretend Jesus was sitting there. And that’s what he had been doing ever since. 

Now he was bedridden, so he had placed the chair beside his bed. The pastor was moved by the story and prayed with him. Two days later, he received a call from the man’s daughter saying he had died. But the posture she found him in puzzled her. She found her father with his head laid on the chair. Read more...

Tweetable: Have you discovered prayer's power? 

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Monday, February 24, 2020

Do Right, Even in the Rain - Martin Wiles

Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. James 4:17 NLT

She pushed her shopping cart … and received an award.

The news story captured my interest. A middle-aged lady pushing a shopping cart full of groceries in a wind- and rain-driven storm. But that wasn’t what stole my attention. When she finished putting the groceries into her car, she left her back hatch up and rolled the buggy to the shopping cart stand.

This happened in a well-known retailer’s parking lot. Whether a fellow customer captured the scene on video and reported it or whether someone representing the retailer observed it on the security camera, I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter.

The retailer decided to reward the woman’s right behavior. After all, shopping carts litter this retailer’s parking lot on a regular basis. Carts that roll down hills and strike customer’s cars or that have to be run down by employees picking up the carts to return them to the store. I suppose they thought they’d make an example … a good example … out of this woman.

And reward her they did. For an entire year, she can call the store, place a grocery order, have an employee gather her items, drive up to the front of the store, and have her groceries placed in her car without ever getting out—or getting wet. All because she did the right thing … even in the rain … when she didn’t even know anyone was observing.

James says when we know to do the right thing, but don’t, it’s a sin.

Integrity, doing the right thing, entails doing the right thing even when others are not looking at us. When we do, our motives are pure. The lady returning the cart had no idea she would be rewarded—or was even being watched.

Doing right isn’t always easy. Some won’t appreciate it, others won’t notice, and some may even bully us because we have. Our audience is made of only one person: God. As long as we please Him, others don’t matter.

Our acts of integrity also make the world a better place as well as influences others positively. Perhaps some who didn’t return carts now will. Acts of good have a way of permeating society and of leading others to do the right thing too.

So, go ahead. Do the right thing … even if it’s raining, or unpopular, or misunderstood, or invites persecution.

Prayer: Father, cause us to do the right thing even if it’s not popular or if there are negative consequences involved.

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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Influencing Like a Mosquito - Martin Wiles

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17 NLT

An old African proverb says, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.” But I had.

My maternal grandmother, Grandmammy, lived in an old farm house on highway 210 near Vance, SC. During the long sultry summers in South Carolina, staying with her meant raising the windows so air could creep in through the screens. The only problem is that her screens often had small rips in them—which let in mosquitoes.

Spending the night with this grandmother meant fighting a battle. Before I lay down, she would come into the bedroom with a can of Raid and spray around the screens. Then, as dusk neared, a mosquito truck would amble down the highway, spraying its nose-hair-curling poison.

In spite of all these efforts, no sooner had I lain in the bed than I’d hear that all-familiar sound. A mosquito singing. Since the room was pitch dark, I couldn’t see her; I could only swipe, hoping I’d kill that female who wanted to suck my blood and make me itch.

So the old African proverb was right. I’d spent the night with mosquitoes, and they had a pervading influence. They can turn a night in a hot room—or a camping trip—into a nightmare. The spread of their influence causes us to do any number of things to ward off what they attempt to do. Just think of all the money we spend trying to squash their influence.

But influence doesn’t have to be negative. Wise King Solomon says a friend can sharpen another friend, just as iron sharpens iron.

God gives me the privilege of being a positive influence on almost one hundred Middle School students five days each week. I don’t take the responsibility lightly. Hopefully, my influence will motivate them.

I also have the privilege of influencing hundreds of people worldwide through the writing ministry God has entrusted to me. I don’t take that for granted either.

These are my areas of the world God wants me to sharpen. You have areas too. Just like the mosquito, God wants us to buzz into the areas He has planned for us, influencing the people in our circle in a way that points them to Christ and helps them become more like the person He wants them to be. The ways we can do it are numerous, but God will help us succeed if we ask Him.

Find your world of influence, and buzz throughout it.

Prayer: Father, help us to be salt and light to a hurting world.

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Friday, February 21, 2020

Flashback Friday - Confession: Good for the Soul - Martin Wiles

Confession: Good for the Soul

Series: Practical Advice for Life

Saying “I’m sorry” isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do.

A recent teacher evaluation reminded me of this. Our headmaster’s instructions to the observers were never to score any teacher with the highest ratings in all categories. Doing so eliminates any room for improvement. Reading over the remarks brings me face to face with my weaknesses—which I don’t enjoy admitting. I’m tempted to respond with, “That’s not the way it was,” “I didn’t do that,” or “That rating was too low.” But in order to improve, I must admit my errors or weaknesses—in this case to myself, and then attempt to improve my skills in that particular area. Failing to do so influences my effectiveness as a teacher and in some cases could even affect my job. Read more...

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Choosing the Important - Martin Wiles

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 NLT
He examined piece after piece with his magnifying glass, and each time he shook his head.
My wife and I thought we had acquired treasure. Our neighbor had brought us a bunch of items from an employer who cleaned out some things from their house. Among them, was what appeared to be silver. Since we needed extra money, we called a local antique dealer who buys silver and asked if we could come down for an appraisal.
We loaded our silver in a large box and headed out for our appointed time. As he sat behind his jewelry case, I handed him piece by piece. He looked through his magnifying glass, making sure what we offered was actually silver.
“Silver-plated,” he said and handed one piece after another back to me. As the box emptied, our hopes did too. Out of all we had brought him, only a small fork and a small spoon were silver—not enough for him to make an offer.
What we thought held value didn’t. Instead, we sold it several pieces at a time to those who didn’t care whether or not it was real silver.
The same has been true in my life. Times arose when I thought certain things were important: Levi jeans, Converse tennis shoes. Whatever the name brand was all my friends wore. But since Mom and Dad couldn’t usually afford name brands, I learned brand names weren’t so important after all. I got along fine without them, and the experience taught me a little about priorities.
Micah condenses life’s most important things for us: do right, love mercy, and walk humbly before God. A mix that’s certain to make our lives easier and more peaceful—whether or not doing so follows the norm or what’s popular.
Doing the right thing is never wrong … although it may be inconvenient or misunderstood. Loving mercy and then showing mercy to others will never lead us in the wrong direction. And humility—recognizing I’m nothing without God but can do all things with Him—will give me a proper perspective on everything else in life.
Our silver disappointed us, but loving others, showing them mercy, and living humbly never will. Choose to choose the most important things in life, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
Prayer: Father, give us the wisdom to choose the things that You value.

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