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Nobody likes going through hard times.

Losing your job stinks.

Losing a cherished relationship stinks.

Losing a physical capability — even temporarily — stinks.

Gaining a chronic illness stinks.

Gaining an abrasive, morally insensitive co-worker stinks, particularly when his or her desk is adjacent to yours.

The list could go on, of course.

But in each stinky situation there is the opportunity for a sticky lesson.

And that’s why God allows stinky situations to enter our lives.

He has a purpose for the stink because He has a lesson that needs to stick.

It’s not that He hasn’t tried to teach us lessons without the stink.

It’s just that too many times we haven’t listened.

If we always sought Him and His will with every breath, every thought and every action, we wouldn’t need refinement.

But we haven’t.

And so we do.

Need the refinement, that is.

As impure ore needs the fire.

In the midst of pain or frustration — or both — look for the opportunity to trust God more and serve others more.

You just might end up doing some very important things that can impact others’ lives in a marvelous way.

Check out today’s Old Testament section in the reading for the day from the One-Year Bible. You’ll read of how a really stinky experience for a guy named Joseph actually became an incredibly sticky lesson that God used to preserve the promise that the Messiah would eventually come from the line of Abraham.

It’s an amazing story of how a rotten, evil choice of others ultimately led to a redemptive, godly rescue of others.

All because of a faith-based commitment to honoring God even in the midst of horrible circumstances.

None of the parties involved in the story forgot the lessons, I’m sure.

Let’s do our best to look for sticky lessons even in the midst of stinky circumstances.

It’s the godly thing to do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s such a brief line but it is incredibly potent in meaning.

For anyone who has just been restored to an important relationship because of another’s forgiveness, this verse fragment will hold special meaning.

“…what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!” (Genesis 33:10)

The context was Jacob’s return to his homeland after 20 years in what is now Iraq. He had fled there earlier out of fear that his brother Esau would kill him because of various deceptive and cheating behaviors.

Returning as an older and somewhat wiser man, Jacob still had fear that Esau might take revenge for the dirty deeds done to him a generation earlier.

You’ll want to read of this account by clicking here.

Despite the fear, Jacob headed home anyway. Previous chapters in Genesis recorded why Jacob believed he couldn’t stay in the land of his wives’ family.

Jacob knew when he fled his homeland two decades earlier that he had done wrong.

And now as he awaited the inevitable meeting with Esau, he was hoping that retribution and carnage would not be the outcome.

As you read the passage in the link above, you’ll see just how deep-rooted Jacob’s fears were.

But when the meeting actually occurred, there was no hatred, no shaking fists, no waving swords.

Instead, there was unmistakable forgiveness.

Jacob sensed that what he had received was not the fruit of human nature but instead the fruit of God’s Spirit overflowing through Esau’s face.

When Jacob saw a forgiving face with a friendly smile, he perceived it as the work of God in his brother’s heart.

Wow.

Perhaps you have a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate the work of God in your heart as you choose to genuinely forgive someone who has done harm to you.

If you’ll offer a smiling face to him or her as you seek to restore a relationship, embracing rather than attacking, you’ll bring relief to that person’s soul.

And they’ll know that what you’ve done is a reflection of God’s influence, not human nature.

Here’s the conclusion of the matter — there is perhaps no better way to portray faith than to forgive those who have harmed you.

Please, let people see the face of God in your life.

Forgive.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Here’s what was included in my daily Bible reading:

Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)

Is the first sentence above evident in your life?

Yes, I know what it’s like to be in a secular workplace and feel the peer pressure to hide my faith.

I also know, however, what it’s like to sanctify that peer pressure by using that “push point” as an occassion to affirm what’s important for my walk of faith.

Imagine that several co-workers are standing near your desk and exchanging dirty jokes.

Perhaps they’re standing near you by intent… or perhaps not.

The fact remains that their words are offensive to your faith.

How you respond at that moment can show if you acknowledge Christ as Lord in a public manner.

Yelling at the group to shut up and take their gutter talk elsewhere is not a matter of faith but of retributive rudeness.

Ignoring the gutter talk for fear of social backlash is also not a matter of faith but of condoning condemnation-worthy behavior.

So what are the options for being faithful?

There are several, but here’s one.

Perhaps you could calmy tell the group that you’re trying to get your work finished but you need them to take their conversation elsewhere because the language is distracting since it is offensive to your Christian faith.

You’re not telling them they’re going to hell.

You’re not even telling them that they have no right to exchange dirty jokes.

You’re simply asking them to move because their behavior next to your desk is disrupting your work and offending your faith.

They might not like what you’ve said but they will know that your faith is very important to you.

And if you start catching grief in the future from them because you spoke up, then that is grief that God will see as strengthening testimony of your faith.

Of course, there are countless other ways to convey to others that we are Christians. Some use jewelry. Some use desk art. Some use a Bible placed on his or her work desk. All should use language that speaks of blessings and forgiveness and mercy and generosity and prayer and — as appropriate — our church activities.

Do all of your co-workers and nearby neighbors know you’re a Christian?

I pray that they will soon and that you’ll ask God for wisdom with how best to communicate that message.

One of those co-workers or neighbors just might start wanting to know more about a faith that compels people to stand up for what they believe.

As always, I love you
Martin

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We all love finding money lying on the ground.

But there is something much more valuable to find.

As in something that can help to improve your relationships, your health, your career and save your soul.

And that doesn’t even count the myriad of blessings that come to the lives of those whom you influence as they seek and find this incredible resource.

I’m talking about wisdom.

Here is Proverbs’ take on the value of wisdom:

“Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.” (Proverbs 3:13-15)

Wow. That last sentence is quite a statement.

A oceanfront mansion in in south Florida or a $100 million pro sports contract or CEO job for a billion-dollar corporation… they all fall far short of the value found in a collection of words written 3,000 years ago by a guy named Solomon.

Find time today to read from your Bible. Consider the approach that I take with reading from the One-Year Bible Online.

It’s the wise choice that pays far more than you can imagine.

For you and for the people about whom you care.

As always, I love you
Martin

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There’s a treasure map in millions of homes across our nation.

In fact, there are billions of the maps lying here and there around the globe.

If only the people with access to the maps would use them, their lives would be infinitely richer.

Why don’t you pick up today and start studying the treasure map in your possession?

It’s the map that starts with Genesis and ends with Revelation.

If you’re a disciple of honesty, you’ll tap into riches untold.

“He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.”

These words from Proverbs 2:7 offer me great encouragement.

I’ve lived long enough to know that a treasure of common sense is far more valuable to my soul and well-being than are treasures of things.

A thing in my yard or in my garage or in my wallet cannot give a friend the wisdom to cope with a tough situation.

But common sense gleaned from scripture can rescue the hurting or confused soul.

Please, seek the treasure of common sense.

Be honest in all you say and do.

God has a huge outpouring of life-giving common sense that He wants to pour into your life.

As always, I love you
Martin

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