452. Watching Out For Satan’s “Gotcha”

“We’ve talked quite a bit about Satan,” Stan began.

“We have,” I responded.  “It wasn’t that long ago that we focused on the idea that a lot of people even deny he exists.”  [Note to reader:  See Posting Number 317, “Happy When People Think He Doesn’t Exist”.]

“You’re right, my friend,” Stan replied.  “And this morning I want to mention something I was focusing on in the apostle Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth.”

Continuing, he said, “Paul was careful to point out something about Satan that is essential to my walk with God.”

“What’s that? I asked.

“Not being ignorant of what Satan tries to do in my life.  Because I accepted Christ’s finished work on the cross, Satan cannot derail me in my trip to spend eternity in God’s presence when it is time, but that’s not the end of the story.”

“How so?” I replied.

“If I am not fully and continually aware of what Satan wants to do,” Stan responded, “there is always the possibility that Satan will be able to impact other lives and eternal destinations by using me as an example of, ‘If that’s a Christian, why do you want that?’”

Continuing, he said, “Satan is always scheming about how he can get more people into his domain.  One of his most effective schemes in keeping people from accepting Christ’s salvation is to be able to point to ineffective Christians, those who are not living for Christ and who are not manifesting Him in their walk on this side of eternity.”

“Satan just loves to say, ‘Gotcha!’.  I don’t want to be a part of that.  And the most effective way for me is to not be ignorant of what Satan is trying to do.  I need to be vigilant and aware, not ignorant of Satan’s craftiness.”

“Best way I know to do that,” Stan concluded, “is to be surrendered to what the Holy Spirit wants to do in my life as I choose to follow His leading, not the leading of Satan!”

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So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, we are not ignorant of his schemes.  2 Corinthians 2:11.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you make available to me knowledge of the schemes of Satan in seeking constantly to affect my walk with you.  I confess that too many times I have been ignorant of his schemes and have allowed him to have undue influence in my life.  Please forgive me.  Please, Father, open me as fully as possible to be completely aware of what Satan wants to do in and through me to bring others into his domain.  Help me to resist him so he will flee and leave me alone.  Help me to always be aware of his nasty schemes and choose to not be a part of anything he wants.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:

1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

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Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

451. What’s The Point Of Being Disciplined?

“I don’t do it often,” Stan began, “but something in the letter to the Hebrews caused me to think back over a certain area of my life this morning.”

“What were you thinking about?” I asked.

“The matter of discipline,” Stan replied.  “As a child, I was not disciplined very much.  I was allowed to do just about everything I wanted.”

“When I moved into adulthood,” he continued, “I did so largely as an undisciplined person doing what I wanted, when I wanted.  The results weren’t always real pretty!”

Continuing, Stan said, “What I saw this morning in the letter to the Hebrews highlighted for me the change that occurred when I became a Christian.  Conversion was the beginning of being disciplined.  And being disciplined opened me to the truth of why God disciplines me.”

“What truth?” I asked.

““In the first instance,” Stan replied, “God disciplines me because He loves me.  He knows what is best for me, and He disciplines me in that direction. In addition, He disciplines me so that I will share His holiness.”

“Share the holiness of God?” I replied.

“That’s it,” Stan said.  “That’s what the writer of Hebrews says, and it makes perfect sense to me.  God placed in me His Holy Spirit, with the emphasis on ‘Holy’, for the very purpose of leading, guiding, guarding, helping, and counseling me in being disciplined in holiness.”

“What if you don’t want to be disciplined in holiness?” I asked.

“My choice and my loss,” Stan replied.  “I can either choose to grow in the likeness of Christ, or I can choose not to do so.  It’s my choice, it’s your choice, and it’s the choice of each person.”

“However,” he added, “my experience of being drawn ever closer to God in a deepening relationship as I submit to His loving discipline has shown me the only choice I want to make.  The choice of being disciplined by God is the only one that makes any real sense to me!”

“If I am going to be a disciple, it requires discipline. Same root word, discipline and discipleship. They go hand-in-hand.”

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For they (earthly fathers) disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He (God) disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.  Hebrews 12:10.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for loving me.  Thank you, too, for disciplining me in love so that I will share your holiness.  Thank you for providing your Holy Spirit, living in me, to help, guide, and counsel me in being disciplined in accord with your will.  I confess that too often I do not submit to your discipline because I prefer to live on my own apart from your will.  Please forgive me.  And please help me in following your lead in choosing to submit to your loving discipline so I will be the disciple you intend. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:

1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

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Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

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Click on the link below to be taken to an article that points out how discipline can lead to discipleship:

The Storyteller

450. Looking In The Right Places For Wealth

“Well over a hundred years ago,” Stan began, “a man who became a bank robber was born.  His name was Willie Sutton.”

Continuing, he said, “It is reported that when Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he said something like, ‘That’s where the money is’.”

“So?” I replied.

“I was thinking about that,” Stan replied, “in connection with a question I was asked the other day by one of my neighbors.”

“What question was that?” I responded.

“He wanted to know why I spend so much time reading the Bible and studying God’s word.  I told my neighbor about Willie Sutton’s statement and told him that I consider the Bible as being where God has put all of the wealth that I need in order to know Him.”

“And,” Stan added, “I like to think that God has placed His Holy Spirit in me as a deposit for me to gain the further wealth of knowing Him.  Further, of course, there is all of the whole wealth that comes from praying to seek what is on God’s heart.”

“In addition,” I responded, “I guess I could look at what Christ did on the cross and my acceptance of His redemption as opening the door to the magnificent wealth of all that heaven promises.”

“That, my friend,” Stan replied, “is a good way to look at it.”

“Lot’s of true and lasting wealth available.  Jesus talked about it as laying up treasure in heaven. Paul called it the riches of Christ. Available for all. We just need to look in the right places!”

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To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.  Ephesians 3:8.

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.  2 Corinthians 1:21, 22.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the wealth and riches you have provided for when I step into eternity to spend the rest of it with you.  Thank you, too, for the riches and wealth of knowing you on this side of eternity through your word, your indwelling Holy Spirit, and the opportunity to know you through prayer.  I confess that too often I do not pursue all you have available for me because I want to do what I want to do apart from you.  Please forgive me.  And please help me to follow your lead so that I want to know you and all you have for me on this side of eternity while I wait for the train to glory and all of the unfathomable riches that await me.  Please, Father, open me to being who and doing what you intend.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:

1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

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Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

449. Unimportant Distractions

“I was reading near the end of the apostle Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth this morning,” Stan began, “and I was reminded of something that happened several years before we moved here.  Something that is important for me to remember.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Right at the end of the letter, Paul says that the church should ‘Greet one another with a holy kiss’.  He also said that ‘all the saints greet you’.”

“What’s important about that?” I asked.

“The part about the saints,” Stan replied. “It reminded me of two friends in the church who often talked about Paul’s use of the term, ‘saints’.”

“One of them,” he continued, “was hung up on the notion that all believers can be described as ‘saints’.  She took the view that the term should be reserved for really special people.  They often disagreed about that.”

“Do you think the disagreement was important?” I asked.

“No,” Stan replied.  “And I think that kind of disagreement gets in the way of what I see as Paul’s point of putting what he did in the letter.  In fact, I think it is a roadblock to Paul’s intent.”

“How so?”

“I think Paul was stressing the need for unity between believers.  And that they should not allow the unimportant to get in the way of what is truly important.”

“I think,” he continued, “that whether or not all believers are called ‘saints’ can easily get in the way of the important question of whether or not all of the people are believers.”

“I can see that,” I replied.  “Being able to be called a ‘believer’ is a whole lot more important!”

“That’s right, my friend,” Stan responded.  “And I think there is an additional important point about the unity between and among believers.  Focus on what is important, being a believer by accepting the finished work of Christ on the cross, and leave the unimportant alone.”

Concluding, he added, “It is easy to allow what is unimportant to get in the way of what is important.  It can easily disrupt unity between believers.  That makes Satan smile and laugh.  Don’t want that!”

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Greet one another with a holy kiss.  All the saints greet you.  2 Corinthians 13:12, 13.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the important truth of your provision of redemption and salvation.  I confess that too often I focus on differences between me and fellow believers, differences that do not matter in the big picture of Christ Jesus’ finished work on the cross.  Please forgive me for playing right into Satan’s scheme with such differences that do not matter.  And please lead and help me to follow in focusing only on what is important, Christ crucified, and leave the petty differences alone.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:

1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

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Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

448. Measuring Success

“A few years ago,” Stan began, “before we moved here, I knew a fellow who is a perfect bad example of something we see way too often.”

“How so?”  I asked.  “A bad example of what?”

“I met him in a Bible study class.  He was bright, young, ambitious, and anxious to be  successful in business.”

“And that’s bad?” I replied.

“No, of course not,” Stan said, “but the story gets better, or worse, depending on your perspective.”

“This fellow had some great ideas for new tech products and we spent a lot of time together praying for God’s wisdom and guidance, not only for the business, but for whatever blessings of success God might choose to grant.”

Continuing, Stan said, “I remember clearly this fellow’s commitment to giving God all of the glory for any success and for using that success to advance the Kingdom.”

“I still don’t see the bad example,” I replied.  “It all sounds good to me.”

“Success came, but the fellow left,” Stan replied.  He left the Bible study saying he was too busy.  He stopped attending church services, saying he had to work.  Pretty soon his whole demeanor changed as he took more and more credit for the wonderful success of the business.”

“Before too long,” Stan continued, “he had moved into a very large and very fancy new house, was driving amazing cars, and had all of the trappings of great financial success.”

“I didn’t see much of him as we were in different circles, but one day I ran into him by accident. At one point in the conversation I asked him for a donation to a mission trip our church was organizing.  He didn’t donate anything then, but told me to catch him later.”

“As we ended our conversation,” Stan said, “I asked him something about how the business was going.  He said he had worked really hard to build what he had built, that he was enjoying the fruits of his labor, that he was still working hard trying to keep it growing, but that there were some challenges on the horizon.”

“It wasn’t too long after that,” Stan continued, “that I saw in the business section of the on-line business news that the company had filed for bankruptcy protection and that this man had filed for personal bankruptcy.”

“In my personal and humble opinion,” Stan said, “he had gone spiritually bankrupt long before then.”

“Did you reach out to him?” I asked.

“I did,” Stan replied.  “I left several phone and text messages.  I sent some emails and an actual snail-mail letter, but I never heard anything back from him.  I pray for him regularly. I pray for his wellbeing and that God would draw him close and open him to want to know God, His will, and His provision. I pray I will see him again on the other side.”

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Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Thy name give glory.  Psalm 115:1.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your amazing provision in every aspect of my being.  I stand in awe of your greatness and your goodness.  I confess that too many times I take personal credit for your provision.  Please forgive me all of that.  Please, Father, lead me in always acknowledging you as the source of all I am allowed to enjoy and in never taking personal credit for what you do.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:

1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

_____________________________

Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

447. Being A Saint — Don't Sell Yourself Short

“It’s not uncommon,” Stan began, “for Christians to say about themselves, ‘I certainly am no saint’.”

“I’ve heard a lot of people say that about themselves,” I responded.

“Me, too,” Stan replied, “and my question is always to wonder why someone would say that.”

“Probably want to express their humility or just to be honest about what they see in themselves,” I ventured.

“Perhaps,” Stan said, “but I can’t help but see it as contrary to what I think God thinks or how He sees.  And I saw something about this at the beginning of the letter to the Hebrews this morning.”

“Did Paul write that letter?” I asked.

“Seems like no one on this side of eternity knows for certain who wrote it,” Stan responded, “but whoever did put in an excellent description of Jesus that, I think, bears on what we are talking about.”

“How so?” I asked.

“The writer of the letter described Jesus as being the exact representation of God’s nature.  Kind of like looking at Jesus to see what God looks like walking around on two legs.”

Continuing, Stan said, “And if that’s true, which I believe it is, and if the Holy Spirit of God lives in me, which I believe He does, there is no reason for me or, for that matter any Christian, to be self-described as ‘no saint’.”

“If I do that,” Stan added, “I think I am denying what God has for me to be, which is the manifestation of Christ.  It may sound humble, but I do not think that God wants me to be humble in that way.  No, I think He wants me to be bold in representing who I am in Christ.”

“It doesn’t mean,” Stan concluded,  “that I am to run around proclaiming that I am a saint, but I am to manifest the sainthood of being a Christian.”

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And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.  Hebrews 1:3.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for sending Jesus into the world as your exact representation.  Thank you for His finished work on the cross that gives me the assurance of spending eternity with you when it is time.  And thank you for His presence in me through the Holy Spirit which He asked you to send.  I confess that too often I do not manifest His presence in me the way you want.  Please forgive me.  And please, Lord, help me in being bold in allowing your exact representation to be manifested in and through me to make a difference for you on this side of eternity.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:

1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

_____________________________

Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

446. Praying For Them Whether They Want It Or Not

“A few years ago,” Stan began, “before we moved here, I had a neighbor who was in a serious auto accident.  He was in the hospital and I visited him several times, both before and after he regained consciousness.”

“Was he okay?” I asked.

“Yes, eventually,” Stan replied.  “After a few weeks, he was released from the hospital and was able to rehab at home.”

Continuing, he said, “One day, while my neighbor was still in the hospital, I told him that I had been praying for him.”

“How did he respond to that?” I asked.

“He said he did not believe in God and certainly did not believe in prayer.  He told me not to bother praying for him.”

“So,” I replied, “did you stop praying for him?”

“Absolutely not,” Stan said.  “While I did not tell my neighbor this, I certainly thought of saying that I took my orders from God, not from him.  But the Holy Spirit led me in not saying that.  I continued to pray for his physical healing, but especially for his spiritual healing.”

Continuing, Stan said, “The Bible says to pray for all people, not just the ones who want or ask for prayer.  I take that admonition seriously, especially when I have the deep sense of prompting by and from the Holy Spirit.”

“And you had that sense with this man?” I asked.

“I did,” Stan replied.  “As he was healed from his physical injuries, I could see there was a change in him.  He began to ask about my prayers.  Eventually he began to ask me to pray for him.  And he asked me about my faith.”

“During the time he was recovering at home,” Stan continued, “I visited him regularly.  After a time, I was able to be a part of God’s plan for the man and was able to lead him in accepting God’s provision for life eternally with Him when it is time.”

“Furthermore,” Stan added, “the man has become a real prayer warrior, being a prayer leader in the church as he works out the salvation that God worked in.”

“All because you prayed for him,” I responded.

“All I did,” Stan said, “was obey.  God is the one who answered the prayers He wanted me to bring before Him.”

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First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men.  1 Timothy 2:1.

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.  Philippians 2:12, 13.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you want me to pray for all people, whether or not they want me to pray for them.  I am to pray and leave the answers in your very capable hands.  I confess that too often I fail to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit and I fail to pray as He leads.  Please forgive me.  And please open me to pray just as you want, to be obedient in praying as you lead.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:

1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

_____________________________

Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.