See the Way Forward

“Lift up your eyes around and see” – Isaiah 49:18see

Are you in the midst of hard times?  Has sin, hurt, loss, shame, and/or doubt forced your head and eyes downward?  Lift up your eyes, oh you that are in Christ.

Do you feel too weak to do so?  Ask and He will help you.  He will help you see Him, and His glory, and His victory.

Lift up your eyes around.  Look throughout the pages of history.  See how He helped wretched sinners like you and me.  See how He helped the Israelites, Joseph, Elijah, David, Ruth, Esther, Mordecai, Daniel, John the Baptist, Peter, the woman at the well, Mary & Martha, the woman caught in adultery, the Ethiopian eunuch, Paul.  Lift up your eyes around and recall how He has delivered you time and again from your past troubles.  Lift up your eyes around and remember how He has always provided for you.  Lift up your eyes around and recollect the great miracles He has done in His creation.

Don’t allow your emotions to cause your head to droop and to deceive you into thinking that this is as far as He will take you; that this is the end; that this point in time and space is where you will always reside.  Lift up your eyes around and see – see the way forward – see the way forward and believe on Christ.

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2017 Michael Martin

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Are You Waiting Well?

What’s the thing you’ve waited for the longest? Have you waited weeks, months, years, or even decades? Are you waiting on something important right now?waiting

Maybe it is relationship related – you’re waiting for:

  • That loved one to know Jesus Christ
  • Your teenage child to engage with you again
  • Your marriage – for the joy and peace to be restored

Or, it could be more personal – you’re waiting for:

  • Your health to turn the corner
  • That promotion or new job to help alleviate your financial burden
  • An understanding of how God wants you to serve

Whatever you are waiting for, understand that you are not alone.  Every single follower of Christ you meet today will be waiting on something (that whole second coming thing at a minimum).   But while you are waiting it’s important to remember that God cares about how you are waiting.

Colossians 1:9-14

[9] And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, [10] so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; [11] being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; [12] giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. [13] He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, [14] in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (ESV)

While you are waiting are you allowing people to see the hope that you have in Jesus Christ by:

– Walking in a manner worthy of the Lord?

– Are your actions, thoughts, and attitudes fully pleasing to him?

– Are you bearing fruit and increasing in the knowledge of Him today?

– Are you asking Him to strengthen you?

– Are you thanking Him for answering in His perfect timing?

– Are you remembering that all the hardships you are experiencing in your wait are temporary?

Feeling convicted?  Don’t fret.  Confess, repent, rejoice and seek to understand how to change.

Suggestion

– Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and then re-read Colossians 1:9-14.  Based on the 2 Timothy passage what do you better understand about the Colossians passage.

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2017 Michael Martin

Where will you find Jesus? Where did you lose Him?

“I looked for him but did not find him.” Song of Solomon 3:1

Charles Spurgeon reminds us that wherever it is that you lost the company of Christ, gopexels-photo-25516-medium back to that spot and it is there that you will find Him.  Don’t be stubborn as you have in the past and continue to press ahead without Him.  If you had been following Him you would not have lost your way with Him, but for some reason you lost focus and drifted off to the side of Him, or walked right past Him, or turned back to your Egypt. Humble yourself and go back to the place you left Him.  It will be time well spent and you will be richly rewarded because there you will find Him.

Did you lose Christ by sin?  Repent and give up the sin, and through the power of Holy Spirit mortify your flesh so as to walk more quickly and powerfully in the Spirit back to where it is you left Him. (1 John 1:9, 2 Cor 6:16-18, Luke 9:23, Gal 5:16-24)

Did you lose Christ through limited and restrained prayer?  Then immediately stop reading this and seek Him in the prayer closet. (Luke 22:39-46, Matthew 6:9-13,James 5:13-18)

Did you lose Christ by neglecting the Scriptures?  The Bible is God’s spoken word.  How else will you be able to hear His calling if not through His voice?  Go back to your daily readings and there you will find Him. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 4:12)

“Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, ‘Be gone!’” Isaiah 30:18-22

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2017 Michael Martin

3 Good Blog Reads week of 1/8

Here are three blogs this week that caught my attention and pointed me to Truth.  May they bless you as well.

Don’t Make Resolutions. Make Commitments.

Let me suggest seven commitments that all of us have been empowered, and should be excited, to make.

 

You Will Touch 80,000 Lives

Let’s say that a person meets an average of two to three people a day. Assuming the average life span is roughly eighty years, this means that the average person will encounter somewhere between 60,000 and 80,000 people in their life.  What would you say to each person now if you had the chance?

 

YOUR NEW FITBIT WON’T CHANGE YOUR LIFE

Sometimes, we think about sin and sanctification in terms of cigarettes and Fitbits. We think that if we just warn people away from the consequences of sin, then people will steer clear. Sometimes, that works. But often, it doesn’t. Sin, after all, is irrational! It doesn’t make sense. That’s the whole nature of sinfulness—it goes against the reality of the world we live in. It goes against the grain of our intended submission to the One who has created us.

 

Conflict, Self-Confrontation, Forgiveness

tired asian business person

When we find ourselves in conflict with another person it is a wise thing to go to God first.  But what should we say and what should we ask?  Let Jesus’ words guide you:

“…your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Pray then like this:

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come, your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'” Matthew 6:8-13

How do these verses instruct us and what do they call us to do?

1) God is sovereign over all of his creation – that includes you and your current relational struggles.  How does Romans 8:28-35 encourage you regarding God’s sovereignty?  How does James 1:2-8 challenge your thinking regarding your current relationship struggles?

2) Are you seeking to glorify God and seeking to pursue God’s will for your life today in all of your relationships? (1 Thessalonians 5:15-23 [note v.18], 1 Peter 2:15, Colossians 1:9-14)

3) Are you eating the spiritual bread which God has given you today?  (Jeremiah 15:16 – read a few verses before 16 and few verses after to understand Jeremiah’s distress)

4) We reap what we sow – Matthew 6:14-15, Galatians 6:1-10.  How do these verses speak to our relationships with God and others?

5) As we trust and obey and DO God’s word He promises to deliver us from the enemy (Satan) and his evil intentions – 1 Peter 5:6-10 (notice the instructive commands we are given [humble, cast, be, resist, know]; note the promises that will be fulfilled as we do those commands.

Here is an instructive article by John Piper

As We Forgive Our Debtors – What Does Forgiveness Look Like?

What are the three most impactful things you draw from this article and what instruction do they give you for your life and relationships?

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2017 Michael Martin

No Jesus = No Peace or Know Jesus = Know Peace

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” Luke 2:14

The above Scripture verse is taken from a text that tells us all about the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was born so that we could have a second birth.  God made a way for sin to be overcome so that we could be reconciled to Him.  And it is only through this peacereconciliation to God, by the works of Jesus Christ, that we will ever understand complete and total peace.

Our sanctification is God’s relational peace process being worked out in and through us.   To “sanctify” something is to set it apart for special use; to “sanctify” a person is to make him holy.  Sanctification is God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 4:3) and we are being sanctified by the truth which is God’s Bible (John 17:17).

But not everyone is at peace with God and not everyone is being sanctified by God.

There are only a fraction of people throughout the history of humanity who have found His favor and with whom He is pleased. Not because God thinks some men are better than others (Romans 3:23).  Not because God plays favorites (1 Timothy 2:3-6); but because of our stubborn selfish hearts (Romans 1:18-23, Hebrews 6:4-8).

So how do we begin to please God and find peace with Him?

It starts with God and His grace and the gift of faith – Ephesians 2:1-10

Then comes the exercising of that faith – Hebrews 11:1-7

By making and pursuing relationship with God our highest priority – John 15:1-16

So that God may be glorified and exalted – John 17

And all of this is only possible because of the greatest gift the world has ever known – Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18

Questions to ponder:

  1. Are you able to find peace throughout your daily struggles?  If not, ask God why you are struggling.
  2. God wants to help you and give you instruction today.  Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17 to understand how He does this.  Are you making time to hear from God today?

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2016 Michael Martin

Is This How It Is Suppose To Go?

“Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?’” Matthew 11:2–3.

John sent this word to Jesus because in his human mind things just weren’t adding up.  Hehopeless had been anointed by God, lived a humble life of servitude, fulfilled his calling and now he found himself alone facing the certainty of an unpleasant death.

John knew that Jesus was the Messiah.  Why wasn’t He doing something?  Why wasn’t He intervening?  Why wasn’t He righting wrongs, rendering judgment on the wicked and delivering His people?  Why was Jesus allowing John to suffer hardship?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

John – as great as a man as he was – was only a man.  And all of the knowledge that John had about the Messiah was only that of the knowledge of a man.  He did not have a full and complete understanding of how and why God was working.

Only our great God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.   Only He has a clear and perfect understanding of why and how things have gone, are going, and will go in our lives.  He is the Shepherd and we are His sheep.

“It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.”  Proverbs 25:2

Even though John could not understand it, God was working.  John’s vision was limited by time and space – things that don’t restrict God or His workings or His plan.

John was seeking to search things out to ease any lingering doubt that the Enemy might be trying to accuse him of.  In a sense John was asking Jesus for some encouragement, through a comforting word, that would help him in his time of need.

And Jesus in His great mercy and compassion renewed John’s mind and strength so that John could finish his race – to the glory of God, and for the good of countless Believers.

“And Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.’” Matthew 11:4-6

Jesus did not answer John’s question directly but reminded him of the great miracles that were taking place by His hand.  No one had the power or the presence that Jesus had.   His works left no doubt that He was the One.

 

Questions to ponder

1) Are your expectations of who God is and what He will do in your time of trial accurate? (see Luke 22:31, Romans 8:17).  If not, how did you come to the expectations that you have?

2) What is truth? (John 17:17)  How often are you reading the Bible (truth)?

3) What are the characteristics and benefits of God’s written word? (Psalm19:7-11)  Why is this important, especially during times of spiritual warfare and trial?

4) In addition to renewing your mind in the written word when was the last time you renewed your mind and became encouraged by recollecting all of the times and ways that God has delivered you from past trials? (Psalm 92:1-4)

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2016 Michael Martin

God’s Will for Your Life

So much of life comes down to executing the fundamentals.  The best teams, the best musicians, the best cooks, the best (fill in  your choice here) are the best because they have disciplined themselves in the fundamentals.man thinking moody portrait, sitting at autumn park, selective focus

What is it that you are facing today that has you confused, perplexed, discouraged,doubting?  Are you stuck trying to figure out what God’s will is for you in your current situation?  If so, it’s time to get back to the fundamentals.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”                 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

To rejoice is to feel great joy or delight.  For the Christian rejoicing is a choice. Honestly, I don’t always feel like rejoicing; like when my car breaks down, or my bank account is empty, or I’m in disagreement with my wife.  However, when my eyes are focused on Christ and the Cross I find it much easier to rejoice in these circumstances knowing that my joy is not found in what is; but what is to come.

Those who are in Christ can always rejoice in the greatest gift they have ever received – salvation.  If God is the center of my daily worship this is most encouraging fact I can recall about who I am.  From there everything else is just gravy – food, water, shelter, loved ones, work, etc.

Fundamental #1 – REJOICE

  • Choose to do so (it’s a command by the way)
  • Do it daily
  • Do it without condition

What is the purpose of prayer?  What truth does it reveal?

John MacArthur states a biblical fact when he says, “His glory is the issue.  So when you pray get it in mind you’re not informing God, he already knows everything.  You’re not forcing God, you’re not badgering God, you’re not irritating him, you’re not conning him.  What you’re doing is submitting to his sovereignty.”

The purpose of prayer is submitting to the fact that you recognize God to be sovereign over all things, at all times, for all time.  By coming to Him in prayer you are acknowledging in all humility that He is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), and present everywhere at all times (omnipresent) – and that you are not – and that you want and need Him and His will to be done in your life and the lives of other people; for humanity’s good and His glory.

God wants to hear from His people, early and often.  This pleases Him to no end.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.  1 Timothy 2:1-6

Fundamental #2 – Pray

  • Choose to do so (it’s a command by the way)
  • Do it daily (What do these verses say about the most appropriate times for prayer: Psalm 55:16-17, Daniel 6:10, Luke 6:12, and 1 Timothy 5:5?)
  • Do it without condition

Give thanks in all circumstances.  Really?  I need to give thanks when I lose my job?  Or when I receive a negative medical report?  Or in the face of something horrible taking place?

John Piper explains why and how we are able to do this:

“The best place to see Jesus showing us the way is in the Upper Room where he,

took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)

Now, let’s think for a moment about what Jesus meant.

Thank you, Father, that my body, symbolized by this bread, is about to be brutally broken and I am about to be (momentarily) damned by your wrath (Isaiah 53:10) so that you will receive supreme glory in being able to forgive undeserving sinners (Philippians 2:11) and I will share eternally full joy (John 15:11, Psalm 16:11) with hundreds of millions of forgiven sinners made righteous through my sacrifice (Isaiah 53:11).

Jesus’s thanks was not based on his present circumstances. He was about to endure the worst possible horror. He felt thankful to the Father for the grace and glory that was coming because of the cross and this gave him joy.”

Fundamental #3 – Give Thanks

  • Choose to do so  – It’s a command by the way
  • In all circumstances
  • Do it without condition

Get back to the fundamentals.  Take the log out of your own eye.  Ask God to search your heart and convict you of your unrealized/unconfessed sin.  Return to Him and He will return to you.

Therefore say to them, Thus declares the Lord of hosts: Return to me says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.  Zechariah 1:3

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2016 Michael Martin

It’s a Matter of the Will

Things haven’t been going your way lately.  Maybe it’s your job, or a relationship.  Maybe it’s your finances or the constant stream of repairs you have to make on your house or car.  Maybe it’s all of the above.borderline-depression-psycholgie-personalities-medium

You’re tired, frustrated – maybe even mildly depressed.  You feel as if you are stuck in the moment and the moment has been lasting for weeks or months.  Each day building upon itself and you’ve found your mind drifting into a very predictable pattern of negativism.  Because of this you find yourself becoming anxious about what’s next and contemplating all of the potential unfavorable possibilities.

Understanding the Enemy

Life is all about relationship.  That’s why God created us.  God created us, loves us, and wants us to enjoy Him always -regardless of our physical and earthly circumstances.  Satan on the other hand is constantly seeking for a way to divide us from God and cripple our faith.  He does this by constantly harassing us and accusing us; attempting to lead us in lies so that our Christian witness will be diminished and fewer people will see Christ glorified in and through us.

Understanding the Battlefield

Changes in our behavior first come from changes within our minds.  Satan is always trying to get us to believe that we can have it better – and that we deserve to have it better.  He’s done this from the very beginning with Adam & Eve.  And the tactic he used was to turn their minds from the truth, by questioning God’s word, character, and promises.

We, however, have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).  And because we are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6 & 7) we have the ability to discern Truth, choose to trust and obey God, and resist Satan’s temptations.

Romans 12:2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Corinthians 10:5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Understanding Our Role and God’s Role

When things aren’t going our way we have a tendency to ask God to change our circumstances so that we can get what we want.  Instead we should be asking God to change us – starting with our minds – so that we can see and receive what God is trying to give us.  This starts with choosing to obey God’s commands, as cited above.  When we fulfill our roles and do what we are commanded, God promises to fulfill his role and bless us in the doing (see John 13:17, James 1:25).

Isaiah 26:3You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

We have the ability not to change our earthly circumstances, but to change how we respond to our earthly circumstances (which are temporary by the way).  We’ve been given all that we need – the power of the Holy Spirit and the instructions via the Bible.  It’s just a matter of the will.

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2016 Michael Martin

Go On The Offensive

Today you are in the midst of a spiritual battle.  Your enemy, Satan, is working hard to knock you out.  A jab here, a body blow there.   The onslaught of continual sin – your own, others sin against you, the sins of the world (accidents, injuries, illnesses) can affect the strongest Believer.

It’s not enough to remain stagnant in our current condition and just defend against Satan and his attacks.  We are commanded to walk, grow, go, follow, seek, practice, persist, persevere, and pursue; all as we bring the Gospel to a lost world.  We are commanded to change.  And as we take the battle forward in His wisdom and strength we will be blessed in growing in Him and knowing all that He has done for us – and all of it has been done out of love.

So take up your weapon

Ephesians 6:17b – and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Jeremiah 23:29 – Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

And be filled and strengthened by the Holy Spiritking-sigma-wasylko-nikon-72743-medium

John 14:26 – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 15:7 – If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Which will increase your faith

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

2 Corinthians 5:7 – for we walk by faith, not by sight.

1 John 5:4 – For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

And assure you of the victory

Romans 8:37 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

1 Corinthians 15:57 – But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:14 – But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

Both today and evermore

1 Peter 4:19 – Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Revelation 14:12 – Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

Psalm 31:5 – Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2016 Michael Martin