357. It Can't Be All Stop And No Go

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

Comments or questions?  Email to waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

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“I was heading back from Grangerville the other day,” Stan began, “and I got stuck in some real stop-and-go traffic.  Road construction.”

“That can be real frustrating,” I responded.

“It certainly can be, but this time it wasn’t because I took the opportunity to focus on something I had read in Luke’s gospel that morning.”

“What was that?” I asked.

“The story about the two sisters, Mary and Martha, and the time Jesus came for a visit.”

Continuing, Stan said, “Martha was hurrying around getting everything in order for Jesus, while Mary was sitting with Jesus listening to what He had to say.”

“Eventually Martha got frustrated and asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her with all of the preparations.”

“I remember that story,” I responded.  “Didn’t Jesus tell Martha, in essence, to quit worrying about all of the preparations and to leave Mary alone?”

“That,” Stan replied, “is kind of how I see it, but I think that if there would have been further conversation recorded, Jesus would have gone on to say that there has to be a balance.”

“A balance in what?” I asked.

“Stopping and going,” Stan replied.  “I think that it cannot be all one without the other.”

“If I spend all of my time trying to serve Jesus without stopping to spend time with Him to hear what is on His mind and heart, I am on the wrong track.”

“Also,” Stan continued, “if I spend all of my time sitting and listening to Jesus without ever getting up and doing what He has for me to do, I am equally on a wrong track.”

“As with much, if not everything,” Stan said, “there has to be a balance.”

Concluding, he said, “It can’t be all stop and no go.  And it can’t be all go with no stop.  What I try to do is to stop, spend the time with Jesus to hear what He has to say, and then get up and go, but to make sure I am not going on my own, but I am only going in and with Him.”

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But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.  Luke 10:41, 42.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, that you want me to spend time with you, listening while you tell me what is on your heart and mind.   I confess that too often I do not do that.  Please forgive me.  And thank you that you show me what it is you have for me to do in obedience to what you tell and show me.  I also confess that too often I do not do that either.  Please forgive me.  I know there is a balance between listening and doing, stopping and going.  Please help me with stopping to hear you, and in going in obedience.  But most importantly, please help me to never go without being in and with you in that going.  I believe it is a balance you want and have for me.  I need your help.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

356. It's More Than Just Words

“Over the years,” Stan began, “I have read many books dealing with the subject generally described as ‘victorious Christian living’.  One is clearly the best.”

“Which one is that?” I asked.

“The Bible,” was Stan’s response.  “And I saw that again this morning in my journaling time with the apostle Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica.”

“I think,” Stan continued, “that, in the first instance, God is the absolute authority on being victorious in my Christian living, but I also think that Paul has more to say about it than any books I have read by anyone else.”

“Why would someone want to read a book about victorious Christian living, if, as you say, the apostle Paul covers it so well?  Why not just read the Bible?”

“Good question,” Stan replied.  “That’s another subject for another day.”

“I think,” he continued, “that the apostle Paul addressed this quite well in one of the opening lines in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica.”

“What did he write?” I asked.

“He wrote about the gospel not being just a bunch or words to read, but a life to be lived through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

“Lived, not just read,” I repeated.

“And the essential part,” Stan added, “is that it is though the power of the Holy Spirit.”

“If I do not surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit on an ongoing basis,” Stan continued, “there is no way for the words I read to have a lasting impact on the life I live.”

“They’re not just words on the printed page or on the screen of my phone or computer.  They are life-giving words that have to be claimed.”

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For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit with full conviction.  1 Thessalonians 1:5.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for your word.  Thank you for the freedom to read it.  I pray for those who do not have the same freedom that I do, as well as for those who do not choose to exercise the freedom they have. I confess that too often I read your word without taking the time to truly surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit in making your word an integral part of my life.  Please forgive me.  And please lead me in how I read and take into my life all you have for me so that I truly live the victory you have for me to live.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

355. Set Apart or Set Aside?

“Sanctification,” Stan began, “is commonly referred to as being set apart for God’s intended purpose.”

“What do you mean by being set apart?” I asked.

“For me,” Stan replied, “it is being available to be used by and for God just as He intends in every area of my life.”

Continuing, he said, “Just as salvation resulted from God’s love, grace, and mercy through Christ’s finished work on the cross, I believe that sanctification is God’s work in and through me.”

“Does it just happen by saying that I want to be sanctified?” I asked.

“I don’t think so,” Stan replied.  “I have a definite role to play, but I can’t sanctify myself any more than I could give myself salvation.”

“Just as I had to accept the free gift of salvation, I have to get myself out of God’s way so that He, through His Holy Spirit, can do exactly what He wants in and through me.  My role is choose for God to do what He wants in setting me apart for Him.”

“Is being set apart the same as being set aside?” I asked.

“Definitely not,” Stan replied.  “Oh, I can definitely choose to be set aside by choosing to just focus on myself and what I want to do.  It is certainly possible for me to be set aside from God’s intended purposes, but that is the exact opposite of being set apart for God’s intended purposes.”

“See the difference?” He continued.  “Being set aside from, versus being set apart for.”

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For this is the will of God, your sanctification.  1 Thessalonians 4:3.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for the free gift of salvation so that I can look forward to spending eternity with you when my time here is done.  And thank you that you want for me to be sanctified in that I choose to be yours for your purposes in every aspect of my being for as long as you keep me on this side of eternity.  I confess that too often I choose my will over yours.  Please forgive me.  And please, Lord, lead and help me to follow you exactly where you want to take me in being set apart for your purposes.  Help me in not being set aside from what you want.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

354. Choosing The Place Of Service

As we finished our time together, I said to Stan, “What are you going to do the rest of the day?”

Stan pulled out his cellphone, opened the calendar, and showed it to me.

“There’s nothing on it,” I said with a bit of surprise.

“That’s right,” Stan responded.  “The whole rest of the day is open to whatever appointments God has for me.  I give Him the calendar to fill as He wants with His divine appointments.”

“Isn’t that kind of limiting?” I asked.  “Just sitting around waiting for some appointment God may or may not have for you?”

“You miss the point, my friend,” Stan replied.  “I am not just sitting around doing nothing.”

“No,” he continued, “I go about my day, but I am open to being interrupted by God in what I am doing so that He can do what He wants through me.”

“If I have my calendar full with things I think are important for me to be doing, I am apt to miss the opportunities God has for me to serve Him by serving others in His name and for His purposes.”

“But what about commitments you may have?” I asked.

“Oh, there are lots of commitments,” Stan replied, “but I have to be ready at any moment to set them aside if God has something else for me to be focusing on.”

“It is up to God, not me,” Stan concluded, “to set the place of my service.  While He provides the opportunity to serve, it is up to me to choose.  And I always want to choose the place of service He has for me.”

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For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, that you allow me to be used by you for your purposes.  I confess all of the times I choose to do what I want to do apart from what you have for me.  Please forgive me of all of those instances.  And please lead me in being open to every opportunity you present for me to serve whoever you bring before me.  Help me in setting aside what I want to do in solemn preference for doing what and being who you intend.  Please, Lord, lead and help me to follow in all of the appointments you have for me.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

353. Why Settle For Less?

“I’m really hungry this morning,” Stan said.  “I think I’m going to have the combination plate to make sure I get filled up.”

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” I replied.  “Go for it!”

“I don’t want to make a pig of myself,” Stan said as he continued to think about what he was going to order, “but it reminds me of something I read this morning in the apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi.”

“You’re kidding, right?” I replied.  “Paul wasn’t concerned about what to order for breakfast, was he?”

“You are right about Paul and breakfast,” Stan said, “but Paul did write something I almost skipped over. Something that made me realize I am not to settle for less than all that God has to offer.”

“What was that?” I asked.

“Near the end of his letter, Paul wrote about the church practicing the things they have learned and seen.  And then he wrote what is really important to me.  He said they would have the God of peace.”

“So?” I responded.

“Paul did not say they would have the ‘peace of God’, but that they would have the ‘God of peace’.  They would have the whole package, the combination plate, the full-meal deal.”

Continuing, he said, “Yes, there would be the peace of God, but there could and would be so much more. There could and would be all that God is, as well as all that He has. The same thing applies today to me, to you, my friend, and to all Christians.”

“Why settle for less than everything God has to offer? Not just His peace, but all of Him?”

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The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.  Philippians 4:9.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for all you have for me.  I confess that too often I am content to settle for less than all.  Please forgive me.  And please help me to be open to seeing, understanding, receiving, claiming, and embracing everything you have for me so I am filled to overflowing.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Comments/Questions?  Send to: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

352. Leaving Room For God

“I went to the Big Box Wholesale Club again yesterday,” Stan began.

“Busy?” I asked.

“I had a hard time finding a parking place,” Stan replied.  “I finally saw a person who was leaving, so I put on my turn signal blinker and waited for her to back out.”

“Just as she backed out and I was ready to turn into the parking place, another person cut right in and took the parking spot.”

“Wow,” I said, “that must have made you mad.”

“Not so much,” Stan replied.  “Oh, there was a point in my life when I would have gone ballistic, screamed, yelled, and wanted to crash into his car.”

“This time, however, I had a real sense of peace.  Right after the fellow did that, I saw another car backing out and I took that parking place without a problem.”

“Did you say anything to the person who took your parking place?” I asked.

“No,” Stan responded.  “There was no point.”

“After I finished my shopping and was returning to my car, there was a real commotion with the fellow who had cut me off.”

“What was going on?” I replied.

“It seems that a shopping cart had rolled out of the cart rack and crashed into the back of his car.  There was a dent and a big scratch.  He was livid.  He had gotten a Big Box employee out there and was yelling and saying he was going to sue.   All sorts of nasty stuff.”

“But I thought there were signs saying that Big Box is not responsible for such things.”

“There are,” Stan said.  “The employee was pointing that out to the fellow.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“I have no idea,” Stan replied.  “I went to my car and left, thankful I had not parked where that fellow did.  And you know what, my friend?  I kept thinking about what God says about revenge.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It is His, not mine,” Stan replied.

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Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  Romans 12:19.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for the truth of Your word and the practical applications that abound for every aspect of my life.  You give instruction for a purpose.  Your purpose.  I confess that too often I do not listen to what You say.  Please forgive me all of those instances.  Please, Lord, help me in leaving room in my life for whatever You want to do.  Lead me and help me to follow in being and doing only as You intend, not as I want.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before You in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

351. Is That A Want Or A Need?

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

Comments or questions?  Email to waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

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“Do you think God will give me whatever I pray for?” I asked Stan one morning.

“Absolutely not!” Stan responded.

“What about where it says that if I ask I will receive?” I replied.

“The essential part, I think,” Stan said, “is that I, as well as you, have to ask in accord with God’s will.”

“Doesn’t that kind of make it an empty promise on God’s part?” I asked.

“God doesn’t make empty promises,” Stan said somewhat sternly.

“And, further,” he continued, “the apostle Paul addressed this in his letter to the church in Philippi.”

“What did he write?” I asked.

“That God would provide all of the readers’ needs.  And note that he said ‘needs’, not ‘wants’.”

Continuing, Stan said, “God knows exactly what I need.  When I come before him in prayer with something that is beyond what I need, but is something I simply want, He may or may not provide the ‘want’, but there is no doubt in my mind that He will provide the ‘need’.”

“How do you know how to pray the difference?” I asked.

“I have to allow the Holy Spirit to lead me in all of my prayers,” Stan replied.  “If I am just praying on my own, with my own self-centered requests of God, I am way off base.”

“But,” he continued, “if I surrender all of me to the Holy Spirit, He will lead me in praying in exact accord with God’s will because He knows the mind of God a whole lot better than I do.”

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And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, that you provide for all of my needs.  I confess that too often I ask you for wants rather than needs.  Please forgive me.  And please lead me in praying only in accord with your will by getting myself out of the way and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead my prayers.  I know that when I do that, my prayers will be in accord with your will.  I know that, but I need and ask for your help in following through.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.