April 14, 2021 — Whose Voice Is That?

“How was your Bible study class last night?” Stan asked me one morning.

“Interesting,” I responded.  “We are studying Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, and the class got into a somewhat heated discussion of conscience versus the Holy Spirit.”

“Oh, I’ve been in that discussion before,” Stan said with a smile.  “There can be some strong feeling and opinions one way and the other.  As I remember it, the point that usually comes up is that the apostle Paul used the word ‘conscience’ regarding what they were doing.”

“That’s right,” I replied.  “That’s what we were discussing last night, and there came a point after we had just about talked the thing to death that I began to wonder if it really makes any difference.  What do you think?”

“As far as I’m concerned,” Stan responded, “it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.  As one who has accepted the finished work of Christ on the cross, have the assurance of salvation and redemption, and have been given the Holy Spirit to live within me, it’s His voice that’s important to me.”

“I recognize,” he continued, “that a nonbeliever does not have the Holy Spirit and, thus, is not guided by Him, so I guess it’s okay to say such a person is guided by conscience, but it doesn’t seem right to me to say that I am guided by my conscience rather than the Holy Spirit.”

“You think you will ever know for certain about this?” I asked.

Responding with a smile, he said, “This is one of the questions I have on my list to ask Paul when I see him.  I’m going to ask him why he said, in essence, that his conscience was clear, rather than saying he knew he was being guided by the Holy Spirit.”

“However,” he added, “until I get the chance to ask him, I don’t think it makes a whole lot of difference.  It’s listening to the voice of God through the Holy Spirit in me that’s important. What I call that voice doesn’t matter as long as I recognize whose voice it is that is speaking to me.  Recognize whose voice it is and obey what I am being told!”

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Bible verses to consider:

For our proud confidence is this:  the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.  2 Corinthians 1:12.

And Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.”  Acts of the Apostles 12:1.

However you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.  But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.  Romans 8:9.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the finished work of Christ on the cross that has gained for me the assurance of spending eternity with you when it’s time.  Thank you, too, for the gift of your presence in me through the Holy Spirit who guards, guides, helps, and counsels me in the way of living the rest of my time on this side of eternity.  I confess that too often I do not heed His voice because I choose to listen to voices other than yours. Please forgive me. And please lead me in following all you have for me to hear without being distracted from the truth that it is the Holy Spirit’s voice you have for me.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Are you assured that you have the Holy Spirit of God living in you?  Why or why not? If no, do you know how to have that assurance? If you do have that assurance, how are you doing with listening to His voice?  Do you see a difference between the voice of “conscience” and the voice of the Holy Spirit?  If so, what is that difference and how would you explain it to someone who asked?

April 13, 2021 — The Car With The Electrical Problem

“One of my neighbors told me about a big problem he once had with a car.  On the one hand, it was kind of a funny story, on the other, not so much.”

“What was gong on?” I asked.

“It was something that happened a few years ago,” Stan replied.  “My neighbor had leased one of those hybrid things that run partly on gas and partly on electricity from batteries that are constantly being recharged while the car is being driven.”

“Those can be quite efficient,” I commented.

“More so when they work right!” Stan said with a smile.

“His didn’t work right?  What happened?”

“It wouldn’t stay turned off.  He would park it in the garage only to discover a few minutes later that it had started back up all by itself.  He would go turn it off and the same thing kept happening.”

“That will take a big bite out of the efficiency!” I replied. “Was he able to get it fixed?”

“He was,” Stan replied, “but the dealer had to replace the entire electrical system which was beyond getting fixed and had to be replaced.”

“That must have cost a bundle.  Was it under warranty?”

“It was,” Stan replied, “so my neighbor didn’t have to pay anything, but he was quite annoyed with the whole experience.  Just like I am when that happens with my faith walk?”

“What do you mean?  How does this apply to your faith walk?”

“When my sin car won’t stay dead.”

“Sin car?”  What’s that?”

“That’s when the new life I’m riding around in is affected by the old life that just won’t stay dead.  It just keeps starting all by itself after I think I have it turned off.”

“How do you get that fixed?” I asked.

“Replace the whole thing.  Get rid of the old and replace it with the new.”

“Is it covered by a warranty?” I asked.

“Sure is!” Stan exclaimed.  “Eternal warranty for when my time here is done, along with a lifetime warranty for this side.  I just need to take it to the right place to get it fixed!”

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Bible verses to consider:

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  Romans 6:3-4.

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Romans 6:11.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your provision of freedom in Christ through His finished work on the cross.  Thank you for the new life I have in and through His life, death, and resurrection.  Too often I do not manifest the new life you intend because I choose to walk my own way apart from you.  That’s not what I want, and I know it’s not what you want.  Please help me to follow every step of your lead into an ever-deepening personal relationship with you where the old life stays dead and the new life in Christ is manifested.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  It’s often difficult to keep the old life with its sin nature dead.  Do you agree with that?  Why or why not?  Is there a remedy for keeping the sin nature dead so it doesn’t keep starting itself in our lives?  If so, what is it?  Is that something you would like for your life?  Can you do it on your own?  Do you know how it can be the core of your life?

April 12, 2021 — Did You Wash Your Hands?

“When I was growing up,” Stan commented one morning, “my mom always asked me if I had washed my hands when I came to the dinner table.”

“Mine, too,” I responded.  “And if I hadn’t, I was sent right to the bathroom sink.  Why do you mention that?”

“Oh, I was thinking about that earlier this morning when I was reading in the letter the apostle James wrote where he pointed out that God is apt to ask me the same question, along with another.”

“God might ask you some questions before you sit down to eat?” I asked with a bit of surprise.

“Not just when I eat,” Stan responded. “Before I come into His presence, whether it is for a meal or otherwise, He asks me if I have clean hands.”

“Okay, so God asks you if you have clean hands,” I replied.  “You said there was another question He may ask, what’s that?”

“Did I purify my heart?”

Continuing, he added, “Those are two requirements God has for me before I can come into His presence and expect to have an ever-deepening relationship with Him.”

“Have clean hands and a pure heart,” I repeated.  “How does a person do that?”

“For me,” Stan replied, “it means that I’m to cleanse myself of sin and purify all that is in me that can and does get in the way of having a right relationship with God. I can’t rush into God’s presence with sin all over me and a heart filled with unrighteousness, bad attitudes, and the like, and expect that God and I are going to draw closer together.”

“No,” he continued, “I need to get rid of the sin and everything that causes me to have an unclean heart.”

“Like in confessing and repenting?” I asked.

“That’s it, my friend,” Stan replied.  “Then and only then can God and I get down to the serious business of drawing closer together in an ever-deepening personal relationship.  Without clean hands and a pure heart, it’s not going to happen!”

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Bible verses to consider:

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?  And who may stand in His holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart.  Psalm 24:3-4.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  James 4:8.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:14-16.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you allow me to come into your holy presence.  Thank you, too, for making me aware of what you require in order for me to have an ever-deepening relationship with you.  You require me to have clean hands and a pure heart.  Please forgive all of the times I have sought to come into your holy presence with dirty hands and a heart that is not right with you.  You know and I know all of the difficulty I face in cleansing myself of dirty sinful hands and an unclean heart.  I need and I ask for all of the help you can provide so I am totally fit for us to draw ever closer together in a deepening personal relationship.  Thank you that I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Having clean hands and a pure heart are required to draw ever closer to God.  Do you agree with that?  Why or why not?  If you agree that those two criteria are essential for an ever-deepening relationship with God, how are you doing with that?  What sorts of things can get in the way of having clean hands and a pure heart?  Who do you think is best at helping us to have clean hands and a pure heart?  If you need that help, do you know how to get it?  Is that what you want?

April 10, 2021 — Arguing With God

“Yesterday,” Stan mentioned, “I found out something about a neighbor’s amazing talent I had not known before.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I was taking the dog for a walk,” he said, “and I went by a neighbor’s house.  The garage door was open and I saw that the neighbor was sitting at a pottery wheel working on something.  She glanced up, waved, and motioned for me to come over.”

“She stopped what she was doing and we had a wonderful conversation about making pottery.  She showed me some of the pieces she had made that were absolutely amazing.  I had no idea she did that.”

Continuing, he added, “She also showed me what she was working on.  She told me that she found making the pottery to be very relaxing and that she just loved to see the end result, whatever it might be.  She also said it had a great spiritual lesson for her.”

“In what way?”

“She said she is thankful the clay doesn’t argue with her about what she’s making.  Just like God doesn’t want her to argue about what He’s making.”

“Argue with God?” I replied.  “That doesn’t seem like a real good idea.”

“Exactly,” Stan responded, “but I can sure testify that I’ve done a lot of that in my life, thinking I know a whole lot better than God does what’s best for me.  It took me a long time to realize that clay is not supposed to argue.  As well, this is something I have to be reminded about on a regular basis.”

“Clay not supposed to argue?  How’s that?”

“God is the potter; I am the clay.  I am to have such absolute confidence in God that I give Him all of me to mold, shape, and transform exactly as He wants.  I am not to resist what he wants, but I am to give Him total and free access to every part of my life to do with as He wants.”

“Sounds kind of like the first step in being a disciple,” I responded.  “Denying self.”

“Yeah,” Stan replied, “not only denying self, but also surrendering and abandoning all I want apart from God, in solemn preference to giving me to God for Him to do whatever He wants without arguing with Him about it!”

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Bible verses to consider:

Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker — an earthenware vessel among the vessels of the earth!  Will the clay say to the potter, “What are you doing?”  Isaiah 45:9.

But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou art the potter; and all of us are the works of Thy hand.  Isaiah 64:8.

Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?  Romans 9:21.

My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt.  Matthew 26:39.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for all you want to do in and through me in the time I have remaining here before I board the train to spend eternity in your presence.  I confess that too often I resist what you want to do with the life you have given me to live for you.  Please help me in following every step of your lead as you mold, shape, and transform me exactly as you want.  Help me not to argue with you, but to deny what I want apart from you as I surrender and abandon myself to your will.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Do you see yourself as a piece of clay in the hands of God as the potter?  Why or why not?  Transformation with growing maturity as a Christian is what discipleship is all about.  Do you agree with that?  Why or why not?  Do you ever find yourself arguing with God about what you sense He wants to do in and through you?  If so, do you think that is what God wants—or is it something He would like to see changed?  If such change is to occur how would it happen?  Can you do that on your own?

April 9, 2021 — Spiritual Gifts: It’s Not a Matter of “If”

“The other day,” Stan commented, “a friend from church and I had coffee and a scone over at Betty’s Bakery.”

How was that?” I asked.

“Great conversation,” Stan said.  “We got on the subject of spiritual gifts and I think we had a good talk about exercising the gifts that God gives to each one of us.”

“Each one of us?” I replied.  “We all have spiritual gifts?”

“That’s exactly where my friend was coming from,” Stan replied.  “He had the somewhat common feeling that he did not have any spiritual gifts. His view was that God had passed right by him when gifts were being handed out.  He figured he was either passed over or he wasn’t there at the right time.”

“I’ve felt like that, too,” I responded.

“A lot of people feel that way, or at least have felt that way at some point.” Stan replied. “I know I did. However, the apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Rome, with an excellent choice of words, presents the truth that we all have gifts that are to be exercised.”

“All?  You sure?”

“I am,” Stan said.  “Just look at what Paul wrote to the church in Rome, as well as to each one of us today.  He used the word ‘since’ not ‘if’ when he was writing about gifts given by God.  Had Paul written, ‘if,’ there would be some room to argue that a person was not given any gifts.”

“But,” he continued, “that’s not what Paul wrote.  He wrote ‘since we have gifts’, we are to do such and such.”

“Well,” I responded, “if that’s true, how does a person go about discovering the gifts that have been given?”

“That’s another subject for another day, probably several days,” Stan replied, “but the essential first step for me with this whole subject was to accept as true that gifts had been given.  I had to surrender to that truth and ask the Holy Spirit to open me to see what I had been given.  After that it was a process of learning how to develop and exercise those gifts.”

“First recognize, and then go on from there, is that what you’re saying?”

“It’s not just me who is saying that,” Stan replied with a smile.

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Bible verses to consider:

And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly; if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.  Romans 12:6-8.

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  1 Peter 4:10.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you have given spiritual gifts to each person, gifts that you intend to be exercised for your purposes in helping to build and strengthen your church.  Please open me to see, understand, receive, embrace, and exercise the gifts you have given to me.  I ask you to open each person to the same truth, that each one will be open to recognizing that you have, indeed, gifted him or her with exactly what you have for them to exercise. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  All people have been given spiritual gifts to exercise.  Do you believe that?  Why or why not?  Have you identified your spiritual gifts?  If no, why?  If you have, are you exercising those gifts for the church as fully as you think God intends.  If you sense there is more you could be doing with those gifts, do you know how to pursue that?

April 8, 2021 — Stopping To Look At Burning Bushes

“I had another opportunity last night to hear how a neighbor came to faith,” Stan began one morning.  “It was a great encouragement to me to be like Moses.”

“Be like Moses?” I replied.  “What’s that mean?”

“You remember the story of Moses and the burning bush?”

“A little,” I said.

“Quick recap.” Stan replied.  “Moses was in the wilderness tending sheep.  He saw a bush that was on fire and noticed that the fire was not consuming the bush.  He stopped and took a closer look.”

“So?”

“That’s when God spoke to him out of the burning bush.  Who knows where we would be if Moses hadn’t stopped to take a closer look.”

“Okay,” I replied, “but how does that relate to anything concerning you?”

“My neighbor recounted coming to faith.  He had the sense that God was opening him to want to know Him.  He said that one day he was in a book store looking at some Christian books to try to get a handle on what he was sensing about God.  And that’s when it happened.”

“What happened?”

“Someone who was also in the bookstore, who ‘just happened’ to be in the same aisle looking at Christian books, saw my neighbor and asked him, ‘Can I help you with anything?’”

Continuing, he said, “Because that man saw my neighbor and responded to God’s leading to stop and see how he might be involved in what God was doing, my neighbor eventually came to faith.  My neighbor opened up to the man about what he was sensing, but didn’t know what to do about it.  They ended up spending time together, not only that day, but in days to follow when my neighbor came to faith.”

“All because the one man stopped to take a closer look at what God had for him to look at?”

“That’s it,” Stan replied.  “And it makes me realize that there are ‘burning bushes’ all over the place if I will just stop and take a look!”

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Bible verses to consider:

So Moses said, “I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.”  When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses!”  And he said, “Here I am.”  Exodus 3:3-4.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”  Then I said, “Here am I.  Send me!”  Isaiah 6:8.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you have “burning bushes” for me to see.  I confess that too often I do not stop to take a closer look at what you may be doing.  And because I don’t stop to look, I miss opportunities to see what you are doing and I miss being able to be involved with what you are doing.  I ask you to open me to see and to follow your lead in stopping to look at what you have for me so I can and will be involved in accordance with your will.  Please help me in taking my eyes off of myself and what I want to do apart from you so I will stop and look.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  God has “burning bushes” for us to stop and look at more closely.  Do you agree with that?  Why or why not?  Have you ever stopped to look more closely at what God had for you see?  If so, what was that like?  Looking back, have there been times when you did not stop to take a closer look?  If so, what might have been different if you had stopped?  If you want to be open to stopping to look at the “burning bushes” God has for you, how do you think that can happen?

April 7, 2021 — The Checkup

“I have an appointment with my doctor this afternoon,” Stan said as we finished our breakfast.

“Anything wrong?” I asked.

“Just a checkup,” he replied, “but I do know that I haven’t been feeling as well as usual. Definitely not as well as I would like.”

“Good idea to get everything checked out,” I responded.  “Sure hope everything is okay.”

“We’ll see,” he said, “but I do know that my checkup with God is a whole lot more important than seeing the doctor.”

“Checkup with God?”

“Yeah,” Stan replied.  “If I don’t have a regular checkup with Him to see how I’m doing, I know for a fact that my spiritual health may be going downhill.  It has happened too many times in the past when I just didn’t have the same spiritual vitality.”

“How do you have that kind of checkup?”

“It’s just like most things in my relationship with God, it involves choices.  Unless I choose to regularly open myself to a full examination by God and unless I’m totally open to His diagnosis and prognosis, I’m in danger of falling into spiritual ill-health.”

“Spiritual ill-health,” I repeated. “What does an examination for that look like?”

“Full confession of all of my sins and repentance to begin with.  Then comes the part of being totally — and I mean totally — open to God for Him to tell me everything He sees wrong with my life.  Attitudes, activities, thoughts that I allow in my mind, words that I allow to come out of my mouth, and everything else that may be getting in the way of my relationship with Him.”

“Then what?”

“Then, so to speak, God gives me a prescription to be filled.  It’s up to me whether or not I get the prescription filled, but my spiritual health is going to continue to deteriorate if I don’t.”

“What kind of prescription?” I asked.

“Depends on God’s diagnosis and prognosis.  He will prescribe exactly what He knows I need, but, as I said, it’s up to me whether I get the prescription filled.”

“Why would anyone ignore the advice of the Great Physician, not get His prescription filled, and risk loosing the strength and vitality for the relationship that only He can provide?”

“I think you know the answer to that,” Stan replied.  “Self, along with preferring the world, the flesh, and the devil.”

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Bible verses to consider

But when He heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are ill.  Matthew 9:12.

And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.  Mark 2:17.

And she (Delilah) said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!”  And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.”  But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.  Judges 16:20.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you provide all I need for a complete checkup on every aspect of my health.  I ask for the wisdom to not ignore everything that I need to be healthy, especially in the spiritual aspects of my relationship with you for as long as you keep me on this side of eternity.  Thank you for showing me the consequences of ignoring you, the Great Physician, and your warning signs of ill-health in our relationship. Please, Father, grant me the wisdom and commitment to be yours in every aspect of my being.  Lead and help me to follow so I do not fall into the ill-health of self, the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Thank you I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Do you have a healthy relationship with God?  If no, why? What does it mean to you to have that kind of relationship with God.  Is that what you would like?  Why or why not?  If you don’t have the relationship with God that you would like, do you know how that can be remedied?  Is that something you would like?  Why or why not?

April 6, 2021 — Do You Want To Be Seen As A Person Of Prayer?

“Stan,” I began, “with your prayer life, do you want to be seen as a man of prayer?”

“Yes and no,” he replied.

“How can it be both?” I asked.

“It depends on who’s doing the talking, who’s calling me that; God or another person.”

“How so?”

“I pray,” Stan said.  “I pray a lot.  But it’s all between me and God.  I’m pleased to offer prayers on behalf of others, but being known as a man of prayer by people on this side of eternity is not something that I consider to be necessarily a good thing.  Scripture clearly teaches that I am not to pray in order to be seen by others.”

Continuing, he added, “God is the only one I want to call me a man of prayer.  He is the One who defines how I am to pray, and He clearly says that prayer is to be between the two of us, me and God, not for the benefit of anyone who may happen to hear my prayers.”

“Ask me to pray for you and I will.”

“Ask me to pray in public and I will.”

“Ask me to pray so I will be seen by others as a man of prayer and you will be wasting your breath.  It’s not supposed to happen, and by the grace of God it won’t!”

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Bible verses to consider:

And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men.  Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.  But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.  Matthew 6:5-6.

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 6:1.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you want me to pray to you.  Thank you that you allow me to come before you in the name of Jesus, and that you have given me the Holy Spirit who leads and guides my prayers.  Please help so that my prayers are to you and to you alone, not for any other person who may hear my prayers.  Please help me so that my prayers are never offered in a way that is merely to be seen or heard by other people, but they are offered to you alone. Please lead me in praying in accordance with your will so that I will have the full benefit of prayer, which is to know you ever more deeply. Thank you that I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  What to you is the purpose of prayer — to get things from God, to get to know Him and His will, or something different?  Do you know someone you call a “person of prayer”?  If so, why do you describe that person in that way? What do you see as the primary purpose of prayer?

April 5, 2021 — Relationship With God: The Limiting Factor

“Stan,” I commented one morning, “you’ve not been shy to talk about how slow you were in developing a deeper relationship with God after you came to faith.  What do you think was holding you back?”

“I was held back by a very limiting factor.”

“What was that?” I asked.

“Me,” he responded.  “I was the limiting factor, and until I realized the truth that being me was in the way, there was little chance I would move forward into a deeper relationship with God.”

Continuing, he added, “I was way too content in thinking I was doing just fine as I was.  I didn’t see any need for doing anything different.”

“Content,” I commented.  “You were content with where you were.  Is that it?”

“Probably a better way to say it is that I was lazy.  A deeper relationship with God doesn’t happen all by itself, and I was limited by my laziness.”

“Well,” I replied, “something must have happened.  What was it?”

“God happened,” Stan replied.  “He didn’t happen in that He suddenly appeared.  No, He was there all of the time, but He happened in the sense of opening me to see me from His perspective.”

“See you?” I said,  “What did you see?”

“What I saw,” he replied, “was someone who thought he knew all he needed to know, someone who didn’t even know or appreciate the power of God that resided within him in the form of the Holy Spirit.  I had a very limited view of God and it was killing any chance for a deeper relationship with Him.”

“And the solution was what?” I asked.

“We’ve talked about it before,” he replied, “and we’ll talk about it again because it’s important.  It’s called the three steps of discipleship.  I had to choose to get the limiting factor out of the way by denying its power in my life.  Then I had to choose to be who and what God intended.  That was followed by the third step of choosing to follow Him however He wanted to lead, whatever the cost and whatever the direction.”

“That,” Stan concluded, “was and is the process of getting rid of what was holding me back, as well as what can and does hold me back on an ongoing basis.”

“Stop being the me that was and can be so limiting!”

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Bible verses to consider:

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.  Ephesians 3:20, 21.

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. “ Luke 9:23.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you want me to have an ever-deeper and ever-closer relationship with you.  You know and I know what too often stands in the way of the relationship you intend.  Please help me with what limits in any way what you want to do in and through me.  Help me to get myself out of your way.  Please help me with all you have.  Thank you that I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Do you have the personal relationship with God that you would like?  That He would like?  If you don’t, why is that?  And if you don’t have the relationship you desire, what do you think is standing in the way?  What would it take to have a deeper and ever-growing relationship with God?  Who can help you with that? Do you want that help?

April 3, 2021 — Patting Yourself On The Back

“One of my neighbors came over last Saturday and asked if I could help him.” Stan commented one morning.

“What was going on?” I asked.

“He had bought one of those do-it-yourself storage sheds from the Big Box Wholesale Club, and had decided he couldn’t do it by himself after all.”

“Were you able to help him?”

“I was,” Stan replied.  “We spent a couple of hours putting the shed together and we got the job done.  When we were finished, my neighbor said, ‘Thanks, I couldn’t have done it without you’. I told him that’s one of the things neighbors are for!”

Continuing, he added, “Later on I was thinking about what my neighbor had said, and how often I improperly think God should be saying the same thing to me.”

“What same thing?”

“Sometimes, I pat myself on the back too much,” Stan responded.  “I tend to think that God needs me and that He should be saying, ‘Thanks, I couldn’t have done that without you.’”

“And that’s not right?” I asked.

“Not in my view,” Stan replied. “God doesn’t need me.  He’s perfectly capable of accomplishing His will and His purposes without me.  However, although God doesn’t need me, I do think He wants me to be involved in what He’s doing.”

“Okay,” I said, “assuming you have done something that you think God wanted you do, how are you going to respond to Him?”

“In that sort of situation,” he said, “I think my response to God is to be, ‘Thanks for letting me be involved’, not ‘Aren’t you going to tell me you couldn’t have done that without me?’”

Concluding, he added, “When I think I’m necessary to God, maybe even indispensable, I’m headed in the wrong direction and need to get back on track!”

“Time for some confession and repentance?” I asked.

“You’ve got it, my friend!”

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Bible verses to consider:

I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.  Romans 12:3.

Do not be wise in your own eyes.  Proverbs 3:7.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for wanting to use me in accordance with your will and purposes, and to be a part of what you are doing.  I confess that too often I tend to think I’m indispensable to you and I want you to tell me you couldn’t have done something without me.  Please forgive all of those self-focused thoughts that lead to patting myself on the back and thinking more highly of myself than you intend. Please open me to see what you are doing and to be willing to join you out of my heartfelt appreciation for all you have done and are doing for me.  Please help me in having only your attitude about being involved in what you have for me on this side of eternity, thankful for being allowed to be involved.  Thank you that I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Have you ever considered yourself to be indispensable to God?  If so, what was that all about?  Do you believe that God wants you to be involved in what He is doing, but that if you choose not to join Him, He will do it anyway?  Why or why not?  What does it mean to “join” God in what He’s doing?  Is that something you would like to do?  Why or why not? If you want to be involved in what God is doing, how is that going to happen?