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January 27, 2021 — It Takes More Than Just Being There

“I have a neighbor,” Stan began, “who is really casual about most everything in his life.  He doesn’t take much seriously, being a firm believer in the expression that ‘Eighty percent of life or success in life is just about showing up.”

“Just showing up?” I responded.  “Do you believe that?”

“While the expression probably has some validity in some instances,” he replied, “I know for a fact that it has no application to a person’s faith walk, especially mine.”

“How so?”

“Just showing up doesn’t cut it.  Let me give you a simple example from a friend I had before we moved here.”

Continuing, he said, “this friend of mine and I went to the same church and we were both involved in the same Bible study class.”

“Sounds good.”

“Not so much, but it got better,” Stan replied.  “It turns out my friend went to church and to the Bible study class, not because he wanted to, but because his wife wanted him to do so.  He was there, he showed up, but that was pretty much the end of it.  He really had no interest beyond making his wife happy.”

“How did that work out?” I asked.

“I don’t know about my friend’s relationship with his wife, but I clearly saw what was going on with him and his relationship with God.”

“In what way?”

“For several moths at the Bible study it was clear that my friend was just going through the motions.  He would be there, but he hadn’t done the lesson, or had only done a part of it.  He rarely had anything to say in the class.”

“However,” he continued, “over time there was a noticeable change.”

“What happened?”

“It was gradual.  My friend would have his lesson completed and he began to have some really good things to contribute to the class discussion.”

Continuing, he added, “After a few classes where there was a clear difference with my friend, I talked with him and complemented him on his contributions to the class discussion.  I asked him about the change.”

“What did he have to say?”

“What he said really struck a chord with me.  He said that he had come to realize that the Bible study class was more than  just showing up.”

“Did he say how he came to that conclusion?” I asked.

“What he said is that one night after class the Holy Spirit, in essence, asked him, ‘What are you doing?’  From there, he spent some time having serious conversations with God about what he was and was not doing in his relationship with God.  He said it became real clear, real fast, that he was not where he was supposed to be.”

“Then what?”

“Just like everything else like that,” Stan concluded, “my friend confessed, repented, and asked for help in following God’s lead to wherever God wanted him to be — and to not just show up, but to really be there!”

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Bible verses to consider:

And Peter answered Him (Jesus) and said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  And He said, “Come!”  And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  Matthew 14:28, 29.

In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.  John 14:20.

Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  John 15:4.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you want me to be where you are and that you want me to be a part of what you are doing.  Please forgive all of the times I have just shown up to be in a certain place, but did not have the willingness to truly be with you.  Please open me to see you and what you are doing, and help me to get out of your way so I will truly and deeply abide in you, knowing that you will lead me to where you want me to be.  Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  In what ways does “just showing up with God” not result in a deeper relationship with Him?  Is just showing up better than nothing?  Why or why not?  Where are you in your relationship with God?  Are you where you want to be?  Why or why not?  If you would like to have a deeper and closer relationship with God, do you know how that can happen?

January 26, 2021 — Seen Any Miracles Lately?

“Have you ever seen a miracle?” I asked Stan one morning.

“I have,” he replied.  “And I see the same one over and over.”

“Same miracle over and over?” I replied.  “What’s that mean?”

“Every time I look in the mirror, I see a miracle.  Every time I reflect on what God has done for me in granting me the assurance of salvation, I see a miracle.”

Continuing, he added, “Every time I see how God is allowing me to know Him more intimately in a personal relationship, I see a miracle.”

“Why are those things miracles?” I asked.

“You don’t know me as well as I do,” he replied, “but I can tell you without a doubt that for me to be where I am in my relationship with God, to be there from where I was, is nothing short of a miracle.”

“And,” he added, “I see this as similar to what happed with Jesus when He returned to His hometown of Nazareth.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Well,” Stan replied, “there was a point when Jesus went home and the people basically saw Him as nothing more than the son of a carpenter.  They wondered about Him, but they didn’t believe He was anything special.”

“So they kind of missed the point?”

“Big time!” Stan replied.  “And as a result of their unbelief, it is recorded that Jesus didn’t or couldn’t do much miracle work.”

“Same with me,” he added.  “The miracles Jesus has done in my life are a result of my belief.  I believe, therefore, God has a free hand in doing what He wants to do in and through me.  No belief, no miracle of conversion and no miracle of being able to know God more intimately.”

“You think those things really qualify as ‘miracles’?”

“If you only knew, you wouldn’t ask!

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Bible verses to consider:

And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.  Matthew 13:58.

And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them.  Mark 6:5.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your provision of salvation and redemption through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  For me to have the assurance of life eternally with you when it’s time is nothing short of a miracle.  You know where I was, separated from you, and you know where I am now.  Thank you for that miracle!  Please help me in following your lead into the ever-deepening relationship you have for me while I wait to step into your eternal presence.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Have you experienced the miracle of salvation and redemption?  If not, why?  If you have the assurance of salvation, do you really consider it a miracle?  Why or why not?  If you are walking more closely with God than you were in the past, do you consider that also a miracle?  Why or why not?  Would you like to have a closer relationship with God?  Do you know how that can happen?

January 25, 2021 — Removing The Thorns

“Back before we moved here,” Stan began, “there was a couple in our church who had been married for a long time.”

“How long?” I asked.

“Over fifty years,” Stan replied.  “And on their anniversary one year, there was a gathering after a church service to help them celebrate.”

“How did that go?” I asked.

“It was terrific,” Stan responded.  “And the husband had a story to tell about their first anniversary that reflected a truth for my faith walk I try not to forget.”

“What’s that?”

“The husband said that on their first anniversary, he bought his wife a single long-stem rose.  With each subsequent year he added another rose.”

“So,” I replied, “on the fiftieth anniversary there were fifty roses?”

“That’s right!” Stan said.  “But it wasn’t the story of the number of roses that impacted my faith walk, it was what the husband had not done with the first rose that he did with all of the others.”

“What had he not done, and then did?” I asked.

“That’s right. He said that when he handed his wife the first rose she got stuck by a thorn on the stem.  Ever since that first rose, he carefully removed all of the thorns before giving the roses to his wife so that would not happen again.”

“Nice story, Stan,” I replied, “but how does that affect you and your faith walk?”

“It has to do,” he replied, “with what Jesus said about thorns and how they can impact how a person responds to God.”

Continuing, he added, “With that first rose the fellow gave his wife, the special moment was interrupted because she was stuck by a thorn.  Same thing with my relationship with God.  If I don’t keep the thorns out of my life, they will affect my faith walk with God.”

“What kind of thorns?” I asked.

“Jesus described them as worry, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for things other than what God has for me.”

“Those thorns,” he continued, “will choke out what God has for me.  They need to be removed before they can do their damage!”

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Bible verses to consider:

And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness  of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  Matthew 13:22.

And others are the ones on whom the seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, and the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  Mark 4:18, 19.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for all you have for me through your provision of life eternally with you when it’s time, along with the privilege of knowing you and Jesus more deeply while you keep me here.  Thank you, too, for the truth of what will choke out your word and make it unfruitful in my life.  I confess that too often I allow your word in me to be choked out by worry and the pursuit of things other than you.  Please forgive me.  Help me in following your lead so I do not allow thorns in my life that will make unfruitful what you have for me.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Getting stuck by a thorn hurts.  Have you ever experienced getting physically stuck in that way?  What about spiritually?  What are some of the thorns that can impact our relationship with God?  Do you have any of those in your life?  If so, do you want to remove them?  Why or why not?  If you have such thorns that you want removed, do you know how to do that?

January 23, 2021 — Coming Up Short

“I stopped over at Bob’s Bakery yesterday afternoon for a quick snack and a cup of coffee,” Stan began.

“How was it?” I asked.

“Not so quick,” Stan replied.  “While I was standing in line waiting to pay, there was a fellow in front of me who was having trouble paying for what he ordered.”

“How so?”

“He had a whole handful of change and it took him a long time to count it out.  When he got to the end of his change, he was short of what he needed.  He counted it again and he was still short.”

Continuing, he said, “So I handed him a couple of dollars to help pay for what he had ordered.”

“Well,” I replied, “that was nice of you.”

“Maybe,” Stan said. “It was actually more that I was in a hurry.  But, as God is apt to do, in my time with Him this morning He brought to mind what happened and showed me something for my faith walk.”

“What’s that?”

“Not coming up short.”

“Short of what?  Money?”

“No,” he replied.  “Not coming up short of God’s grace.  And, it sees to me, there are two different ways to look at what I was reading in the Bible.”

“Different in the sense of being contradictory?” I asked.

“No,” he replied, “different in the sense of providing two ways to look at something very good and very important.”

“Where were you looking?” I asked.

“The letter to the Hebrews.  At one point in the letter, the writer says that I’m not to come short of God’s grace.”

“How are there two ways to look at that?”

“In the first instance,” Stan replied, “I am redeemed by the grace of God through the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross.  So from that standpoint, I have not come up short of God’s grace because I have accepted it and I am ready to step into eternity when it’s time.”

“What about the second view?”

“To me,” he replied, “this verse can also be read as saying that I am to manifest the grace of God in my life while I remain on this side of eternity.”

“But you’re not and can’t be God,” I replied.

“You’re right about that, my friend,” Stan said, “but there’s a whole lot of difference between being God and manifesting Him.  As I choose, I can manifest Him.  As well, I think that’s one of the big reasons that God has given me the Holy Spirit, so I will manifest God and His grace in who I am and in what I do while I’m on this side of eternity.”

“While you wait for the train,” I responded with a smile.

“That’s right, my friend,” he replied.  “I have accepted God’s grace and I am to manifest it.  I don’t want to come up short of God’s grace in any way, shape, or form!”

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Bible verses to consider:

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God.  Hebrews 12:15.

We also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  2 Corinthians 6:1.

Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it.  Hebrews 6:1.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that through your grace you granted me the opportunity to accept your free gift of spending eternity in your presence when it’s time.  Thank you that through my acceptance of Jesus’ finished work on the cross I have not come short of accepting your grace.  Thank you, too, that you want me to manifest your grace in my life while you keep me on this side of eternity, and that you have provided the way through the Holy Spirit.  I confess that too often I do not display or manifest your grace in the ways you intend.  Please forgive my selfishness.  Help me in following your lead so I do not come short of manifesting your grace.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this:  Have you accepted God’s free and gracious gift of being able to spend eternity in His presence?  If not, why?  If you have the assurance of salvation, do you believe you are to display God’s grace while you remain on this side of eternity?  Why or why not?  How are you doing with that?  As well as you would like?  As well as God would like?  If not, do you know how you can do that?

January 22, 2021 — Retirement? What’s That?

“One of my neighbors is quite elderly,” Stan began.  “I spend as much time with him as I can because he’s such an inspiration to me.”

“Inspiration?” I said.  “How so?”

“He’s a deeply-committed Christian,” Stan replied. “He has proceeded a long way towards spiritual maturity, but each day he continues to seek a still-deeper faith walk.”

“Not content to just wait for the train,” I said.

“Exactly,” he replied.  “Even though he is greatly looking forward to stepping into eternity to be with God forever, he is still seeking to know God more deeply before then so he can share that knowledge with others.”

“How does he share that knowledge?” I asked.

“In times past when he was younger and could get around more easily, he spent a lot of time with others just like the two of us do each morning.”

“However, now that he is pretty much confined to home, he takes advantage of modern technology to continue what God has for him to do in mentoring others.”

“How’s that?” I asked.

“He’s quite adept at using the computer to stay in touch with a lot of people.”

“Emails and texting?” I asked.

“That’s right,” Stan replied.  “My neighbor says that in addition to physical frailness, he is also losing his hearing so he can’t use the telephone as well as he could, but the keyboard speaks for him.”

“And how long does he intend to keep that up?” I replied.

“As long as God allows,” he replied. “My neighbor has the view that it’s a great privilege to serve God in whatever way he can for as long as he can.”

“Sounds like the word ‘retirement’ is something your neighbor doesn’t recognize!”

“Oh, he recognizes it,” Stan replied, “he just doesn’t accept that it’s something that’s up to him.  His view is that God will tell him when it’s time to retire into His eternal presence.  God will let him know when it’s time to return to the train station!”

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Bible verses to consider:

Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength fails. Psalm 71:9.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  2 Corinthians 4:16.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for all of the time you allow me to have while you keep me on this side of eternity.  Thank you for the truth that you want me to utilize that time to pursue deeper spiritual maturity regardless of how old I become.  I confess that too often I choose not to pursue a deeper knowledge of you because I think I know enough and am content to just wait for the train.  Please help me in following your lead into as deep a relationship as you have available for as long as you keep me here. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Pursuing an ever-deeper relationship with God is to continue for as long as we live, regardless of how long that may be.  Do you agree with that?  Why or why not?  What is the danger of spiritual retirement?  Can it occur regardless of how physically old a person may be?  Where are you with that?  Where would you like to be?  If you aren’t where you would like to be, do you know how to get there?

January 21, 2021 — With What Are You Surrounded?

“We don’t go to movies very often,” Stan began, “but we went to that new theater out on James Road last night.”

“How was it?”  I asked.

“The movie was just okay,” Stan replied, “but the sound was absolutely fantastic.”

“The sound?  What do you mean?”

“It’s some sort of surround-sound system that just envelopes you,” Stan said.  “The sound comes at you from every direction.”

“Did it make the movie any better?” I asked.

“Not really,” Stan replied, “but it was quite an experience!”

Continuing, he added, “It brought to mind how important it is for me to be surrounded by the sound of God.”

“Sound of God?  What kind of sound?”

“Whatever He wants to surround me with,” Stan replied.  “His word, His voice, His protection, and His every provision.  That, to me, is the sound of God.”

“However,” he continued, “for too long in the past I chose to surround myself with everything but God.  And, if I’m not diligent, even now I can choose to surround myself with stuff that is contrary to what God has for me.”

“What kind of stuff?” I asked.

“Things of the world, the flesh, and the devil,” Stan replied.  “Things of self and self-focus.  Inappropriate thoughts, attitudes, actions, and even people. Anything that is going to lead me in not being surrounded by God and what He has for me.”

“How,” I asked, “do you avoid being surrounded by that sort of stuff, as well as being surrounded by what God wants?”

“It’s called choice,” Stan replied.  “Everything I allow into my life, everything I choose to have surround me, is a choice.  I just need to make the choices God has for me so I will be surrounded by Him and what He has for me.”

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Bible verses to consider:

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forever.  Psalm 125:2.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15.

Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge.  Proverbs 14:7

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for wanting to surround me with all you have for me.  You surround me with the assurance of life in your eternal presence when my time here is done.  And you surround me with all you have for me on this side of eternity.  I confess that too often I choose to be surrounded, not by you, but by the things of the world, the flesh, and the devil.  I choose to surround myself with what I want apart from you.  Please forgive me.  And please, Father, help me in following you in choosing to be surrounded by you with all you have for me.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  What we surround ourselves with is always a choice.  How are you doing with the choices you make in that regard?  Do you think God is pleased with the choices you make?  Why or why not?  If you would like to surround yourself with God and with all He has for you on both sides of eternity, do you know how you can choose to make that can happen?

January 20, 2021 — Don’t Hold Your Breath!

“I was standing in the checkout line at Al’s Grocery Store yesterday,” Stan began, “and I saw something that reminded me of some foolish people who are mentioned in the Book of Acts, some people who have shown me a valuable lesson for my faith walk.”

“How so?” I replied.

“In front of me, there was a young mother with a little boy who was probably about five.  The child wanted one of the candy bars that are so enticingly located right there while you wait in line.”

“Did the mother buy him one?”

“She did not.  And what the child did reminded me of what I am not to do.”

Continuing, Stan added, “The child told his mom that if she didn’t buy him the candy bar he was going to hold his breath until he died.”

“Oh, I’ve heard that before!  Did the mother give in?”

“No,” Stan replied.  “And as the child got redder and redder and just about burst from holding his breath, I think he lost his desire for the candy bar.”

“So,” I asked, “were there some people in the Bible who held their breath for a candy bar?”

“No,” Stan replied, “but they did something similar.  “This was another time when some of the Jews were really mad at the apostle Paul and wanted to kill him so he would stop talking about Jesus.”

Continuing, he said, “A bunch of the Jews formed a pact and took an oath among themselves that they would not eat or drink anything until they had killed Paul.”

“How did that work out?” I asked.

“The Bible doesn’t say specifically, but since they didn’t kill Paul, I guess they got really hungry and thirsty before they died.”

“Or maybe they decided they had taken a foolish oath,” I said.

“That’s a pretty good guess,” Stan replied.  “And that’s the lesson for me.  Don’t make any foolish oaths, threats, or promises that I can’t or won’t fulfill.”

“Such as what?” I asked.

“Telling God that if He will do such and such for me, I will do such and such for Him.”

“Or,” Stan added, “how foolish would it be for me to tell God that if He doesn’t do what I want I’m never going to talk to Him again!”

“After all,” he concluded, “God is God; I’m not.  And I’m not supposed to pretend that I can tell God what to do!  His will is going to be done and His purposes are going to be accomplished.  Period.  My only role is to join Him in what He’s doing!”

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Bible verses to consider:

And when it was day, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul.  And there were more than forty who formed the plot.  Act of the Apostles 23:12, 13.

Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.  But let your statement be, “Yes, yes” or “No, no”; and anything beyond those is of evil.  Matthew 5:36, 37.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Matthew 6:10.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you allow me to come before you in prayer.  Thank you, too, for showing me that your will is going to be done and that your purposes are going to be accomplished regardless of what I do or do not do.  I confess that too often I seek to make demands that you respond to what I want.  Please forgive that foolishness.  And please, Father, lead me in my prayers and in my responses to you so that I truly treat you as Lord God Almighty.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Have you ever made a demand on God that He do or not do something in accordance with your will?  If so, what was that all about, and how did it work out?  Do you think it’s important to seek the leading of the Holy Spirit in what you pray?  Why or why not? What about God, does He think that’s important? 

January 19, 2021 — Can You Give Before Receiving?

“The other day,” I began, “we were talking about the apostle Paul’s farewell message to the church in Ephesus.”

“That’s right,” Stan replied.  “Paul had some things to say that I think are important in a continually-deepening faith walk.” [Note to reader:  See “What’s Your Farewell Message Going To Be?”, posted January 15, 2021].

“After we talked about that,” I said, “I read those verses and saw something I’m not sure I understand.”

“What’s that?” Stan asked.

“The part where Paul says that Jesus said something about it being more blessed to give than to receive.  I couldn’t find in any of the four gospels that Jesus is recorded as having said that.  Was Paul wrong or did I miss something?”

“Well,” Stan replied, “in the first place, I don’t think you missed anything.  From what I know, there is nothing recorded in the Bible that Jesus said that other than in Paul’s farewell message to the church in Ephesus.”

“However,” he continued, “even though Paul didn’t know Jesus personally while Jesus walked the earth, Paul spent a lot of time with Him from the moment when Jesus came into his life on the road to Damascus.  Jesus changed everything about Paul and his relationship with God in and through Christ.  I don’t know everything they talked about, but if Paul said that Jesus said that, I’m going to go with Paul on that one!”

“I suppose there’s some dispute about whether Jesus said that,” I replied.

“Pretty good supposition,” Stan said with a smile.

“But,” he continued, “don’t let that get in the way of the truth of what Paul said.  It is more blessed to give than to receive.  However, I also think there’s a qualification.”

“What qualification?” I asked.

“In the context of giving what I have received from God,” Stan replied, “I can’t give it until I have received it.  I can’t bless someone with what I have to give them until I have received the blessing of it having been given to me.”

“So,” I said, “it’s a blessing to receive and then another blessing to give.  Is that it?”

“That’s what I see,” Stan replied.  “Blessing upon blessing!”

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In every thing I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts of the Apostles 20:35.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, . . . . John 3:16.

Receive the Holy Spirit.  John 20:22.

. . . freely you received, freely give.  Matthew 10:8.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for all you have given and for all you have allowed me to receive.  You have given me life eternally with you when it’s time.  You have given me the eternal life of being allowed to know you and Jesus before I step into eternity.  I choose to receive and embrace all you have to give me.  I ask for your help in giving to others what I have received from you, not only in the sense of material things, but, more importantly, in the sense of the spiritual blessings you have given and I have received.  Please help me in following your lead to give what I have been given.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Have you received God’s free and gracious gift of life eternally with Him when it’s time?  If not, why?  If you have received that gift, are you pursuing the gift of being able to know God the Father and Jesus the Son on this side of eternity?  If not, why?  If you are pursuing that, is your pursuit as diligent as you would like?  As God would like?  Are you blessing others with what you have received as fully as you think God would like?

January 18, 2021 — It’s Who You Know

“I was talking with a neighbor last night about something that may have opened him to consider Christianity,” Stan began.

“Great!” I exclaimed.  “How did that happen?”

“My neighbor has been looking into a new job,” Stan replied.  He submitted an application for a position over at Smithson’s.  He said it sounded like a perfect job for him, that he met all of the qualifications, the job interview went well, and all of that stuff.  He was excited about the prospects.”

“So,” I asked, “did he get the job?”

“He did not,” Stan replied.  “Seems that someone else who knows the head of the company got the job.”

“Oh,” I said, “I’ve seen that sort of thing happen lots of times.  It can be all about knowing the right person.”

“And that’s exactly what I was able to talk about with my neighbor,” Stan said.  “About knowing God the Father and Jesus His Son.  They are the ultimate insiders to know.  After all, Jesus said that knowing Him and His Father is eternal life.”

“So,” I said, “your neighbor was open to hearing what you had to say?”

“He was,” Stan replied.  “I have tried talking with him many times before about Christianity, my faith, and all that is involved, but he has never been interested before.”

“But he was this time?”

“Seems so,” Stan replied.  “He didn’t immediately respond with a confession of faith, but he was open in a way he had never been before.  To me, this was another example of why it’s important for me to always be ready to present the truth of the gospel.”

Continuing, he added, “I can never know how God may be moving in other people to open them to want to know Him.  My role is to be available with the truth, present it, and leave the results in God’s very capable hands.”

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Bible verses to consider:

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to every one who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.  1 Peter 3:15.

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.  Colossians 4:6.

And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent.  John 17:3.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the people you brought into my life to share with me the truth of the gospel so I could accept your free and gracious gift of salvation.  I confess that too often I am not prepared to present the truth to others so that they, too, can have the assurance of salvation.  Please help me in being prepared to present the truth to each person you bring before me.  Help me in being obedient to what you have for me to do while I am being who you intend.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Do you have the assurance of spending eternity in God’s presence when your time here is finished?  If not, why?  If you do have that assurance, was there a particular person who brought you to that truth?  If so, have you thanked that person? If you know the truth, are you prepared to share it with each person God brings before you?  If not, why?  Do you want to be prepared to take advantage of every opportunity that God may present?  Why or why not?  If you do want to be prepared, do you know how that can happen?

January 16, 2021 — Just Leave Me Alone

“Sometimes,” Stan began, “I allow myself to really get down over all the bad stuff that goes on in the world.  Some days it seems that Satan is roaring louder than other days and I really need to get out there and defeat him and all he’s trying to do.”

“That’s a pretty normal reaction to all that’s going on, isn’t it?” I asked.

“It is,” Stan replied, “but, when I reflect on it, that’s not how I’m supposed to respond to what’s going on.”

“How so?” I replied.

“If Satan can get me to focus on defeating him,” Stan said, “rather than focusing on the fact that Christ Jesus already defeated him by His life, death, and resurrection, Satan will be successful in diverting me from what God has for me to be and to do.”

Continuing, he added, “If my focus is on Satan and defeating him, I have less time to focus on living and spreading the news that the battle has already been won.”

“So,” I replied, “does that mean you just ignore Satan?”

“No,” Stan replied, “I think that would be foolish.  I don’t ignore him in the sense of denying that he can have an influence on me, but I don’t focus on defeating him.  Rather, I focus on resisting him, telling him I know he has already been defeated, that I have more important things to do, and to just leave me alone.”

“Does that work?” I asked.

“It does, my friend,” Stan replied. 

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Bible verses to consider:

Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  James 4:7.

Do not give the devil an opportunity.  Ephesians 4:27.

Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  Ephesians 6:11.

When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!”  And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.  John 19:30.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the victory over Satan provided by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. He finished what you sent Him to do; He defeated Satan and He provided me with the assurance of spending eternity in your presence when it’s time.  I confess that too often I allow myself to be pulled down into thinking I have to work to defeat Satan, rather than relying on the fact of his defeat.  Please, Father, help me in keeping his defeat in the proper perspective and to not waste my time trying to do what you have already done.  However, I do need and ask for your help in resisting Satan so he will flee and leave me alone.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus, the Victor.  Amen.

Think on this:  Do you believe that Satan has been defeated and you don’t need to defeat him?  Why or why not?  Do you believe that there’s a difference between defeating Satan and resisting him?  How are you doing with the resisting part?  How would you like to be doing?  If you need help, do you know where to find that help?