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259. Sitting in the Dark Wondering Why it is so Dark

“I have an elderly aunt,” Stan said one morning, “who refuses to open the curtains and drapes in her house.  She likes to sit in the relative darkness that provides.”

“Are her eyes sensitive to the light?” I asked.

“Only in the sense she doesn’t like the light,” Stan replied.  “She says she doesn’t want anyone to look in. But it’s pretty silly because no one wants to look in.”

“But the real issue with her,” Stan continued, “is that she does not want the light of God to shine into her life, so she keeps the drapes of her life closed to Him.”

“And, you know, my friend,” Stan said, “I can recognize that in her because I was there myself before I got out of the Holy Spirit’s way and allowed Him to shine all of the light He has so I could see and rejoice in the light.”

“For way too long,” Stan continued, “I was sitting in the dark, being miserable and wondering why it was so dark.  All I had to do was to let the light of God shine into the darkness of every area of my life so I could see.”

“Just like the fabulous words of John Newton,” I replied, ‘Once I was blind but now I see.’”

“Amen to that, my friend,” Stan replied with a smile.  “Take off the blinders; open the drapes!”

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The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be filled with darkness.  If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!  Matthew 6:22, 23.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for your light.  For way too long I was willing to sit in the darkness away from your light.  I now know that darkness only does what darkness does, it gets darker.  I also know that the only remedy for darkness is light.  Thank you for the truth you brought into my life that your light is the answer to all darkness.  It is too easy to slip back into the darkness.  Please, Lord, move in me in exact accord with your will so I prefer your light over all of the darkness 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.

258. It Wasn’t My Fault Then, But It Could Be Now

“I have a bad tendency to be self-defensive,” Stan said one morning as we began. “Too quick to deny I have done anything wrong.”

“Pretty natural,” I responded.

“Yeah,” Stan replied, “but ‘natural’ is not what I am supposed to be if I have abandoned and surrendered self.”

“However,” Stan added, “there is one area where I am perfectly free to say, ‘It wasn’t my fault.’”

“Where’s that?” I asked.

“My sin nature that resulted from Adam’s disobedience.  It is a fact that I got it from the mere act of being born.  I didn’t do anything to get it rather than being a human.  It wasn’t my fault.”

“But,” Stan continued, “that is not the end of the story.  Just as Adam’s disobedience gave me that, Christ’s obedience gave me something else, but I was given a choice in that matter.”

“Tell me a bit more,” I responded.

“Adam’s disobedience resulted in my separation from God.  There was nothing I could do about that prior to being born.”

“On the other hand, Jesus’ obedience to completing on the cross what His Father sent Him to do gave me the option of being reconciled to God.  But it is an option I had to choose by deciding to accept the free gift of salvation.”

“So,” I responded, “being separated from God in the first place isn’t a person’s fault, but continuing to be separated by refusing to accept the free gift of reconciliation certainly is that person’s fault.”

“Bingo and Amen,” Stan said.

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For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.  Romans 5:19.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for the free gift of salvation resulting from Jesus’ obedience that allows me to be reconciled to you and freed from the separation caused by Adam’s disobedience.  Thank you for those who brought me to that truth.  Please help me in bringing that truth into the lives of others so they, too, can be free from the burden of Adam’s disobedience.  Thank you for your love, grace, and mercy that allow me to know you more deeply.  And thank you that I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

257. Exhausted?

“You look like you were run over by a train,” Stan said to me one morning.  “Hope it wasn’t the train to glory,” he added with a smile.

“I am exhausted,” I replied.  “I have been putting in very long hours at work trying to get a project finished.”

“Physical and mental work will inevitably lead to exhaustion without adequate rest,” Stan responded, “but the same is not true with spiritual work for God.”

“How can you say that?” I asked.  “Isn’t it the same thing?  It’s all effort that takes strength.”

“Depends on whose strength is involved,” Stan responded.

Continuing, he said, “If I am trying to do anything in my own strength, I am going to get exhausted because I only have so much strength to exert.”

“However,” he went on, “if I am relying on God’s strength, rather than on my own, for what is to be done, the harder I work the more of His energy and strength I am given.”

“Spiritual exhaustion is not possible if I am relying on the right source of strength,” Stan then said.

“If I am feeling tired and worn out, I have to look at who is trying to accomplish what.  Is it me, rather than God?”

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In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.  John 16:33.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for the strength you give for me to do and to be what you have for me.  You know and I know that when I try to do anything in my own strength, rather than relying on you and your strength, the result is exhaustion.  Please, Lord, open me to see that if I am feeling exhausted from being yours, my focus is completely wrong.  You do not exhaust; you give strength.  And I ask you to fill me and keep on filling me with all you have for me to be who you intend so I will do what you have for me to do.  Thank you I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

256. Ordinary People

“I want to be used by and for God,” I said to Stan one morning, “but I am just so ordinary I can’t see how that is possible.”

“Every single person God uses for His purposes is ordinary at the beginning,” Stan replied. “It was true with all of the famous characters in the Bible that God used for His purposes, and it is true today.”

Continuing, he asked, “Do you know why that is true?”

“I don’t,” I responded.  “Why?”

“That’s all God has to work with; ordinary people.  His presence is what changes them from being ordinary to being extraordinary.”

Continuing, Stan then said, “If I sit around and do nothing for God because I am having a pity party about being such an ordinary person, I have gone a long way down the wrong road.  Satan’s smiling.”

“No,” Stan then said, “I have to realize and accept as fact that I have within me the Holy Spirit and that His presence is all that is needed for God to be able to use me for every purpose He has in mind.”

“All I have to do is get out of the Holy Spirit’s way and choose to allow Him to use me for whatever He wants.  Time to end the pity party and turn around.”

“Absolute guarantee to go from the self-focused and self-identified as ‘ordinary’ to being God-identified as ‘extraordinary’ for His purposes.”

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Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.  Joshua 1:5.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for showing me that you use ordinary people and change them into extraordinary people for your purposes.  Please forgive all of the self-pity that I am just ordinary and can’t be used by you. Forgive me for thinking I can tell you what you can and cannot do. Thank you that you have given me your Holy Spirit to lead me into whatever you have for me to be and to do for you.  Thank you that it is your presence within me that enables me to serve you and your people exactly as you want.  Please, Lord, lead me and help me to follow in every step in being the person you can and will use for your purposes.  Thank you I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

255. The Right Timing is Everything

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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“This morning,” Stan began, “I saw something the apostle Paul said in his letter to the Romans that really struck a chord with me about the timing of everything I do that is important.”

“Sounds like a big deal,” I responded.  “Tell me what you have.”

“Paul wrote,” Stan continued, “that Christ died for the ungodly ‘at the right time.’”

“God’s timing is always right,” I responded.

“You’re right, my friend,” Stan replied and then added “for me, this raised the question of what is the ‘right time’ for me.”

“In the first place, although I was very slow in coming to the decision, I eventually accepted the finished work of Christ on the cross as my salvation.  Thus, that was the ‘right time’ for me.”

Continuing, Stan said, “But this raised a second question for me regarding the timing of my obedience to God every minute of every day.  Is there ever not a right time for me to obey and be the person God intends, doing what He intends?  I don’t think so.”

“Being slow in the timing of my decision to accept the free gift of salvation is one thing,  But that kind of slowness doesn’t cut it when I am considering whether or not to obey.  Timing is everything and the proper timing is essential!”

“Christ died at the right time.  The question is whether I will die to myself at the right time.”

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For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  Romans 5:6.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you sent your only Son to die for me at the right time.  I regret being so slow in accepting the free gift of salvation, but now that I have I am eternally grateful that I will get to spend the remainder of eternity with you when it is time for me to get on the train.  You know, and I know, how terribly slow I can be in timing my obedience to all you have for me in being who and doing what you intend.  Please, Lord, forgive all of that slowness.  And please help me in having the perfect timing for all you want of me.  Thank you I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

254. Living What You Believe

“You know,” Stan said one morning, “in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he wrote a powerful statement about not being ashamed of the gospel.  That statement is the hallmark of how I became a Christian.”

“Wow,” I responded, “that is quite a statement!”

“It is.  Some people might call it an exaggeration, but because people were not ashamed of the gospel and not ashamed of sharing their faith with me is why and how I was introduced to the truth of Christ.  It eventually led to my conversion and is now leading to my transformation from the initial conversion.”

“If,” Stan continued, “those people had been ashamed of the gospel, I would not be where I am today.  I would probably still be wandering about in the darkness of not being God’s.”

“Not only were they not ashamed of the gospel, they went out of their way to bring me to the truth.  They were dealing with a spiritually tough nut to crack, and I am eternally grateful for their persistence.”

“They were good people,” I responded.

“You’ve got that right, my friend,” Stan replied.  He then continued, “Those people were God’s gift to me.  Because of that gift, the life I have left on this side of eternity is dedicated to not being ashamed of the gospel and not being ashamed to share it and to help others grow in their knowledge of God.”

“It is how I say ‘thank you’ to God for his gift of people who were not and are not ashamed of the gospel.” 

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For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes.  Romans 1:16.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for bringing into my life your people who were not ashamed of the gospel.  They were not ashamed to present the gospel to me and to share their faith.  Because of them I was led to accept the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross.  Because of them, my eternal destination was altered.  Because of them, my life on this side of eternity has been changed for you.  Please lead me exactly as you want in never being ashamed of the gospel but to always live and share what I believe.  May you be able to use me to help change the lives and eternal destinations of others in accord with your will.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Ament.

253. What Does He Want Now

“I had an interesting conversation with one of my neighbors last night,” Stan began.  “His name is John.”

Continuing, Stan said, “John was relating to me something that happened in his relationship with his dad that occurred when John was a fairly young man.”

“It seems,” Stan continued, “that it was his dad’s birthday.  John telephoned him, but his mother answered and he spent a few minutes talking with her.  Then John said he heard his mother say to his dad, ‘It’s John and he wants to talk with you.’  His dad probably didn’t know that John could hear him, but his response was, ‘What does he want now?’”

“John then said that his mother told his dad, ‘John wants to wish you a happy birthday.’”

“John said he then talked to his dad and wished him a happy birthday, but the conversation was really strained.”

“Quite a little story,” I responded.  “Did your neighbor say it bothered him?”

“He said it did, but that it occurred in his pre-Christian days.  He became a Christian several years after his dad stepped into eternity, so he never had the chance to talk with his dad about his conversion.”

Continuing, Stan then said, “But John told me he uses this story to relate to others the joy he experiences in having a heavenly Father Who never responds the way his earthly father did with, ‘What does he want now?’”

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Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6.

Prayer:  Thank you that you are my loving heavenly Father and that you do not get tired of hearing from me.  Lead me in my prayers so I pray only in accord with your will, seeking to know you more deeply.  You know the limits of earthly fathers and how too often they do not respond to their children the way you do to yours.  I lift each one to you and ask for forgiveness on their behalf.  Please, Lord, draw them to you and open them to see, understand, receive, and embrace all you have for them in their roles as fathers.  Thank you I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.