304. Healed to Serve

“I was in Matthew’s gospel again this morning,” Stan began, “and I was focusing on two back-to-back stories, both dealing with healing and one with serving.”

“What do you have for me?” I responded.

“In the first place, there is the story of the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant.  Jesus did so while commending the centurion for his belief that Jesus could do it.”

“Secondly,” Stan continued, “that story is followed by Jesus going to Peter’s house and finding Peter’s mother-in-law sick in bed.”

“It is not reported that anyone asked Jesus to heal the woman, but Jesus did so by merely touching her.”

“And,” Stan said, “what happened then is an important lesson for me.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“It says that Peter’s mother-in-law got up and began to wait on Jesus.”

“What about that is important to you?”

“When I accepted the finished work of Christ on the cross and, thereby, was healed of my separation from God, I was moved to get up and begin to wait on Jesus and to serve Him.”

“However, as I have said many times,” Stan continued, “I was slow in responding to God’s free gift of salvation. I was also slow in beginning the process of being transformed after my conversion, so nothing happened with me right away.”

“But,” he said, “what is important is that one day it did begin to happen!”

“After I was healed of my separation from God, I eventually got up and began to wait on Jesus.  The really great thing for me is that the more I serve Him, the more I want to serve Him, helping others to be healed of their separation from God so they, too, will get up and begin to serve Him. Transformation from conversion!”

“Isn’t that what the church is supposed to be all about?” I responded.

“Amen and Amen,” Stan replied.

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And when Jesus had come to Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law laying sick in bed with a fever.  And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and began to wait on Him.  Matthew 8:14, 15.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for healing me of my separation from you when I accepted the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross.  Thank you for saving me so I will choose to get up and serve you.  I confess that there have been too many times I have failed to serve you and have failed to express my thanksgiving for all you do and have done for me.  Please forgive me for all of this times.  Please, Lord, lead me in exact accord with your will so that I will not only want to serve you, but will, in fact, serve you to the fullest extent possible so that others will serve you also.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

303. Read All The Instructions

Note from The Storyteller:  If you have not read postings prior to the one that follows, I recommend that you do so.  There is insight that may help as you walk the road toward spiritual maturity.  All of the prior postings can be found at the following website:   www.waiting4thetrain.com.  Also, please forward this email to everyone you think would be interested in and may benefit from the devotional postings.  Thank you!

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“I was at the Big Box Wholesale Club the other day,” Stan began, “and I bought a new grill for barbecuing.”

“Great!” I replied.  “How does it work?”

“Don’t know yet,” Stan replied.  “It needed to be put together and I made a mistake in not following all of the instructions.”

“Sorry to hear that,” I said.  “What happened?”

“Well,” Stan responded, “I was reading and following the instructions and everything was just fine.  Then, at one point, I figured I knew how to do the rest without needing any instruction, and I put the instructions aside.  Wrong move!”

Continuing, he said, “I thought I had finished putting the thing together, but saw that there was a whole bunch of parts left over.  I then read all of the instructions and realized I had missed some crucial steps.”

“What then?” I asked.

“Basically,” Stan replied, “I had to take the whole thing apart and start over.  That is where I am with it right now.  Maybe I can get it together this afternoon.”

“Hope so,” I said.

Continuing, Stan said, “The experience reminded me of some things Jesus said that could lead to a completely wrong conclusion if I didn’t read all that He said.  Something that really showed me the importance of reading all of His instructions.”

“What do you have?” I asked.

“In Matthew’s gospel,” Stan responded, “Jesus said something that if I had stopped reading when He said it, I would have missed what He said later and I would have the totally wrong impression of what I am supposed to do on this side of eternity.”

Continuing, he said, “In chapter 16 of Matthew, Jesus warned His disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.  But at the end of the gospel, Jesus is recorded as telling them to go and make disciples of all the nations.  The exact opposite. From being instructed to tell no one, to being told to tell the whole world! Big difference.”

“Just think,” he said, “where I would be if I stopped reading in Chapter 16.  This shows me the essential step that when I start reading Scripture I am to never stop as long as I am on this side of eternity.  If I stop I may miss something, and I don’t want to do that!”

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Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.  Matthew 16:20.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.  Matthew 28:19.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for providing your word so I can more fully know you and what you have for me.  Please open me to see all you have for me to see.  And please lead me, and help me to follow, in wanting to read, study, and to know your word.  And not only know, but apply what you have for me in every aspect of my being.  Please help me in never stopping the pursuit of all you have for me in your word.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

302. Can’t Fake Belief

“This morning during my journaling time,” Stan began, “the apostle Paul again showed me an answer to a question I have thought about a lot over the years since becoming a Christian.”

“What’s that?” I replied.

“All during my pre-Christian life,” Stan responded, “I was pretty much empty, without any peace and joy.  It would come and go, but was never lasting.”

Continuing, he added, “Even in my early days as a Christian, I felt a certain lack of joy and peace.  And I have often wondered why.  I think that today a part of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome showed me.”

“What was it?” I asked.

“Belief,” was his one-word answer.

Continuing, he said, “Joy and peace come from believing.  That is what Paul wrote, it is true, and that is why I had no or so little joy and peace.  My belief was lacking.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that such was clearly the case before I became a Christian.  And it continued on in my walk with Christ at the beginning.  Oh, I said I believed, but I knew and God certainly knew that I was trying to fake it.  Can’t fake belief!”

“The lack of joy and peace in my life was like a lie-detector that showed that I was a long way off from the belief that God had for me.”

“And what changed?” I asked.

“Like the father who approached Jesus and asked for help with his child and with his unbelief, I asked God to help me with my unbelief.  He responded and keeps on responding.  Joy and peace flow from that.”

“Trying to fake belief just doesn’t cut it when it comes to peace and joy.”

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Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13.

I do believe; help my unbelief.  Mark 9:24.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for the joy and peace that come from believing.  And thank you for the truth of why joy and peace may be lacking.  I believe, but I need your help with my unbelief so that I am exactly where you intend for me to be in my relationship with you.  I confess unbelief and ask for your help in filling me to overflowing with all you have for me in my walk with you.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

301. Couldn’t or Wouldn’t

“We’ve talked about him before,” Stan began, “but this morning my attention was drawn back to the story of the fellow known as ‘The Rich Young Ruler’.” [Note to reader:  See Posting Number 194, “The Sum of Choices.]

“What were you looking at?” I replied.

“Well,” Stan said, “you remember the story.  He asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life.  When Jesus gave him a list of things, the young man said, in essence, ‘Been there, done that’.”

“Jesus then told the young man that there was one more thing to do.  He needed to sell all that he had, distribute it to the poor, and follow Jesus.”

Continuing, Stan said, “When the man heard those words he became sad because he was very rich.  He left, never to be heard from again.”

“So,” I said, “the man missed eternal life because he couldn’t do what Jesus said.”

“Not so much that he couldn’t,” Stan replied, “but I think because he wouldn’t.”

“The young man did not possess so much that Jesus could not have helped him divest his assets.  I think there was a greater likelihood that the young man was more interested in keeping what he had, rather than getting what he could have.”

“I had the same story,” Stan continued.  “Not that I was rich in worldly goods, but I was very rich in self-focus and did not want to give that up.”

“God finally brought me to the point of showing me that if I was serious about knowing Him, I had to give up all that I held dear in solemn preference for all that He had for me.”

“And I was shown that if I was serious about it, God would do all of the heavy lifting to get me to where He wanted me to be.”

“It’s like I was told that if I changed the ‘wouldn’t’ to ‘would’, God would help change the ‘couldn’t’ to ‘could’!”

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And when Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess, and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  But when he had heard these things, he became very sad; for he was extremely rich.   Matthew 18:22, 23.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, that you want for me all that you have for me.  Please forgive all of the times I have not done what you have asked because I thought it was too hard, that there was too much I simply did not want to give up.  Please open me to see that you do not ask the impossible, but that what you ask of me can be done if I will only ask for your help.  Please change all of my self-focused notions of what I can and cannot do, to the focus on the fact that if I will just decide to go with you it will be a done deal.  Please lead and help me to follow.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

300. Miracle Growth Food

“One of my neighbors,” Stan began, “is quite the gardener.  Just last night he gave me a box of the most amazing tomatoes out of his garden.  Big and red, with the most wonderful flavor.”

“Does he have some particular secret to growing them?”

“I asked him that,” Stan responded.  “He said he uses some vegetable food he bought at the Big Box Wholesale Club.  It has ‘Miracle’ somewhere in its name.”

“I’m not a gardener,” I said, “so I guess I don’t need any.”

“Me neither,” Stan replied.  “However, I was thinking about this in terms of something the apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the church in Corinth.  No, it didn’t involve growing vegetables,” Stan added with a smile.

Continuing, he said, “What Paul was writing about had to do with spiritual growth.  I think he was addressing a question about who does what regarding spiritual growth and who is to be given the credit.”

Going on, he added, “Paul was writing about spiritual seeds he had planted in the Corinthian church.  He acknowledged that those seeds were watered by another person whose watering furthered the spiritual growth, but he emphasized that it was God who was to be given full credit for the actual spiritual growth.”

“Just like me,” Stan continued.  “I am eternally grateful to my neighbors who were instrumental to my accepting the truth of Christ’s finished work on the cross and in my getting a ticket for the train to glory when it is time.”

“And,” he said, “I am equally thankful for each person who has had an impact on my spiritual growth for the time I have remaining on this side of eternity while I am waiting for the train.”

“But I give all the glory to God for His faithfulness in causing my spiritual growth.  People where helpful in planting and watering, but it was God who caused the growth with His own special brand of miracle!”

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I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.  1 Corinthians 3:6 and 7.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for those who plant the truth of what Christ Jesus accomplished on the cross so that others can have the assurance of life eternally with you when it is time.  And thank you for those who help in the furtherance of spiritual growth for the time each person has remaining on this side of eternity.  But I thank you especially for causing all of the growth.  I ask you to lead each person to accept and acknowledge that it is only you, not any person, who causes their spiritual growth.  I thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

299. Hating Weeds: They Rob

“Yesterday,” Stan began, “we talked about weeds and how they spread if they are not dealt with.”  [Note to Reader:  See Posting Number 298, “Hating Weeds:  They Spread”.]

“Yes,” I said, “you related it to your dad’s farming.”

“I have another point about that I would like to talk about,” Stan said.

“Let’s have it,” I replied.

Continuing, Stan said, “In addition to hating weeds because they spread if they are not dealt with, my dad hated them because they rob.”

“Rob what?” I asked.

“They steal moisture and nutrients that the intended crop could use to be better.”

“There is only so much moisture and nutrient in the soil.  If weeds were allowed to take some of that, they would rob the crop my dad was trying to grow.”

Continuing, he said, “It is the exact same thing in my life with God.  If I allow weeds to grow in my life, they steal from what God has put in me.”

“The weeds consume my time, attention, productivity, and everything else I could and should be doing to be who and what God intends for His purposes, not for any purposes that are contrary to His.”

Stan then added, “The weeds of self, the world, the flesh, and the devil will rob me of all God has for me on this side of eternity if I do not root them out of my life.”

“Just as there is only so much moisture and nutrient in the soil, I only have as much time here as God has allotted to me before it is time for me to get on the train to spend the rest of eternity with Him.  To allow any of that time to be wasted by allowing weeds to grow in my life is pure folly and foolishness.”

“I am to surrender all to the Holy Spirit so He will root those weeds out of my life.”

“One final point,” Stan said, “both about what we talked about yesterday and today. In Jesus’ parable about the sower and the soil, Mark’s gospel, in Chapter 4, Verse 19, records that Jesus said, ‘And the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful’.”

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The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy.  I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.  John 10:10.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for all you have put in me and for all you want to do in and through me as long as you keep me on this side of eternity.  Too easily do I allow self to get in the way of what you want me to be and to do.  Please, Lord, forgive me for all of that.  And please lead me in seeing and rooting out all that is in me that is contrary to you.  Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers to you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

298. Hating Weeds: They Spread

“Several times,” Stan began, “I have mentioned that my father was a farmer.”

“Yes,” I replied, “you’ve said he was a good farmer.”

“He was,” Stan said.  “He wasn’t a believer so I did not have the benefit of anything relating to God he may have told me, but I can certainly look at some things he did and did not do in his life and see definite spiritual lessons.”

“Such as?” I responded.

 “He hated weeds with a passion.  He knew that if they were not taken care of that they would spread and have an adverse impact on his farming.  They could ruin his crop and his livelihood.”

“My dad would spray the weeds with poison or pull them up by the roots to kill them.  He did not allow them to spread.”

Continuing, Stan said, “In my life, if I do not kill the weeds that begin to grow, they will spread and have an impact on everything God wants to do in and through me.”

“Just as a field full of weeds is not very pretty, a life that has allowed weeds to grow and spread is the same,” Stan added, “not only not pretty, but just plain ugly.”

Continuing, he said, “I have to be on constant alert for the weeds of self, the weeds of the world, the weeds of the flesh, and the weeds of the devil.  I must see them and I must root them out. If I don’t, they will only spread and produce their own crop.”

“Those weeds,” Stan concluded, “will not impact my eternal destination that was settled when I accepted the free gift of salvation, but they sure can have an impact on how God is able to use me on this side of eternity.”

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Lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, that you may be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.  Ephesians 4:22-24.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for wanting to remove from me all of the things that get in the way of being who and doing what you intend.  I confess that too often I allow things to grow in my life that interfere with your purposes for me.  Please forgive me for all of that.  Please help me in seeing and in allowing your Holy Spirit to remove all you want removed from my life.  Please, Lord, lead me in that and help me to follow.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.