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January 4, 2022 — Prayer is more than Talking to God

“As I’ve said many times,” Stan mentioned one morning, “I love to hear about how other people originally came to faith and how their faith walk has grown.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “we talk about that a lot. The power of personal testimony and how it can help others.”

“That’s it,” Stan said, “and a little bit different spin on that is when I reflect on different things about my own personal faith journey that have impacted me and my relationship with God.”

Continuing, he added, “I was doing some of that reflecting last night and think it might be helpful to you.”

“What were you reflecting on?” I asked.

“When I first became a Christian and was in a Bible study class,” Stan responded, “the class leader said something that in retrospect was clearly well-intended, but it turned out to be off-base and limiting.”

“Sounds serious.”

“Yes and no,” Stan replied.  “I don’t want to make too big a deal about it, but there’s a lesson in what the leader did and did not do that is really a warning about the danger of doing anything that has the result of limiting God.”

“Limiting God? How so?”

“One night in our class, the leader talked about his personal prayer life and what he did every day, indicating that it was the way I should approach God.”

“Was there something wrong with that?” I asked.

“It didn’t seem wrong at the time.  And, again, I know he meant well, but what he said, in essence, was that I was to get on my knees every morning for fifteen minutes and pray.  And that I was to have a set list of things I was to pray about.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” I responded.

“Yes, it was a plan,” Stan replied, “but for me it was a very limiting plan that left little or no room for a real growing relationship with God.”

“How so?” I asked.

“I would get on my knees each morning with my list.  I would keep my eye on the clock to make sure I was there for fifteen minutes, and then I would get up, put God back on the shelf until the next morning, and proceed with my day.”

“Oh,” I responded, I see what you mean.”

“Yeah,” Stan said, “as I matured in my relationship with God, it became clear that He doesn’t want to be put on the shelf and only taken down and communicated with on my schedule. As well, I don’t think He really wants me to come before Him with my agenda of the things I’m going to pray about.”

“Like coming to a meeting and sticking to your written agenda?” I commented. “Is that what you mean?

“Exactly,” Stan said. “While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a list of prayer items, I also think that God wants me to be open to listening to what He has to say. Too often I run off at the mouth and don’t give God an opportunity to say what He has to say. And that’s to my great loss!”

“As well,” he continued, “I think God wants a relationship with me that involves ongoing communication throughout every day, not just a time in the morning when I set aside a few minutes to be with Him.”

“A relationship with ongoing communication,” I said. “That sounds kind of like that would involve a conversation with God, not just talking to Him.”

“Bingo and amen, my friend!” Stan replied. “A conversation.”

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Bible verses to consider:

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, . . . Ephesians 6:18.

Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10.

Now He (Jesus) was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart. Luke 18:1.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you want to have a personal and ever-deepening relationship with me through your Son and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Thank you that you want to and do lead me in that relationship. Please help me to follow your lead. I confess that too often I do not choose to spend time with you listening to what you have to share with me as you take me into the relationship you intend. Please forgive that foolish approach to knowing you and Jesus. Please help me in following your lead into the relationship you have and want for me. Help me to be quiet and to listen. Thank you I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this: Do you agree that God wants to communicate with us, and that prayer is to be communication between you and God, with a time to speak and a time to listen? Why or why not? Do you think that God knows your prayers before you utter a word? If so, what is the point of praying? How about to find out what’s on God’s heart? If that is a valid purpose of prayer, how are you doing with that? If you sense changes may be appropriate in how you pray, how are those changes going to occur?

January 5, 2022 — Increasing our Understanding?

“As I have told you more than once,” Stan said one morning, “it took me a long time to come to faith even though I had ‘gone to church’ virtually all of my life.”

“I think you described yourself as a ‘hard nut to crack’,” I responded with a smile.

“That’s right,” Stan responded. “And even after accepting the truth of God’s free and gracious provision through the finished work of Jesus on the cross, it took me a long time to come to the realization that having understood God’s provision was only the beginning of understanding.”

“Having understood was only the beginning of understanding,” I repeated. “What does that mean?”

“It’s kind of like,” Stan replied, “what I see as the difference between life eternally with God when it’s time and the eternal life of knowing God the Father and Jesus the Son before then. The apostle John wrote about that in his gospel account of what Jesus said about eternal life.”

“Where’s that?” I asked.  

“John 17:3,” Stan replied.

“Seems to me,” he continued, “that having understood and acccepted God’s provision of life eternally with Him when the time comes was only the beginning of understanding all He has for me on this side of eternity.”

“Oh,” I said, “having understood one thing leads to understanding a whole lot more. Is that it?”

“That’s it, my friend,” Stan replied. “And I think that such understanding is a life-long process that is to continue until it’s time for me to catch the train to where it’s going!”

“Into God’s eternal presence,” I commented.

“Exactly,” Stan responded. “And It looks to me that the apostle Paul wrote the same thing at the very beginning of his letter to the church in Colossae, the letter that he also wrote for each one of us.”

“He wrote about the train to glory?” I asked with a smile.

“Not so much that,” Stan replied, “but he did write about the Colossians having understood God’s grace and how, once they understood that, they were increasing in their understanding of all that God had for them.”

“Kind of like maturing in their faith?” I said. “Is that what was going on with them?”

“With them,” Stan replied, “and that’s the way I think it’s supposed to be with me, with you, my friend, and with each one of us. We who have understood the one thing are to increase our understanding of the other!”

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Bible verses to consider:

. . . as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it (the truth of the gospel) and understood the grace of God in truth; . . . Colossians 1:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” John 14:6.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14.

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

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for those you brought into my life to help me understand the truth of the gospel so I could accept your free and gracious provision of life eternally with you when it’s time.  Thank you, too, for your presence in my life to help me to know and understand all you have for me while I remain on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I do not seek to understand all you have for me because I choose to turn my focus elsewhere. Please forgive that foolishness and please help me in following every step of your lead into the deepest possible knowledge and understanding of you and 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: Have you come to understand and accept what God did in providing the way for you to spend eternity in His presence? If no, is that because you have not accepted His free and gracious provision? If that’s it, what’s in the way? If you do have the assurance of salvation for eternal purposes, how are you doing in pursuing the knowledge and understanding of God on this side of eternity? If you sense changes may be appropriate in that direction, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

January 6, 2022 — Nothing more required, but Something more expected

“You ever hear the expression, ‘Jesus plus’?” Stan asked me while we waited for Ricky to bring our breakfast.

“Jesus plus?” I said. “Not sure. What’s that?”

“While that exact phrase is not used,” Stan replied, “I think that’s what is covered in a particular part of the Bible about the early church. As well, it’s certainly something I’ve seen a lot of times in the modern-day church.”

Continuing, he added, “In the early church, as reported in the Book of Acts, there were some Jewish believers who said that the Gentile believers would have to be circumcised in order to be ‘real’ Christians.”

“Real Christians?” I replied. “Like they were saying that what Jesus had done on the cross wasn’t sufficient by itself and the Gentiles would have to do something else in order to be Christians. Is that what was going on?”

“That’s it,” Stan said. “Jesus plus something else. With the Jewish believers, that ‘something else’ was circumcision. That position was rejected, but that doesn’t mean that the same sort of thing can’t happen today.”

“What sort of same thing?” I asked.

“Thinking that we need to add something to what Jesus did on the cross, rather than accepting  what Jesus said just before He died.”

“What did He say?”

“It is finished,” Stan replied. “To me that means just what it says. Jesus’ death on the cross granted me redemption and salvation. Period. When I accepted God’s free and gracious gift through the cross, my separation from God was finished for all of eternity.”

“Nothing else required?” I said.

“Nothing else,” Stan replied. “But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t something else expected.”

“Nothing required, but something expected?” I said. “In what way?”

“Plural,” Stan said. “Ways, not way. And, it seems to me, that’s what the whole Christian life is to be about for as long as God leaves me on this side of eternity. I am to live out the salvation that was granted by Jesus’s finished work on the cross.”

Continuing, he added, “Jesus was finished with what the Father had for Him to do, but He’s not finished with me from the standpoint of continual transformation into what He intends for His purposes.”

“Sounds kind of like discipleship,” I commented.

“It does, doesn’t it?” Stan replied with a smile.

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Bible verses to consider:

Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?  But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they (the Gentiles) are also.  Acts of the Apostles 15:10-11.

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.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not the result of works, that no one should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9.

And He (Jesus) 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.

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

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the free and gracious gift of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus.  Thank you that my acceptance of that gift is all that is required for me to look forward to spending eternity in your presence.  You are fully aware of how Satan tries to work in Christians, including me, to try to get us to think there has to be more required than the finished work of Christ.  Lord, please make it perfectly clear to me and to all believers that your grace through His shed blood is all that is necessary, and help me to focus on knowing you on this side of eternity rather than getting bogged down by human- and Satan-induced distractions.  Thank you I can and do bring before you all of these prayers in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this: Have you accepted God’s free and gracious gift of salvation and redemption so you know you will spend eternity in His presence when it’s time? If no, why? If you have accepted Jesus’ finished work on the cross, do you believe that your acceptance is all that is required, but there are other things that are expected of you? Why or why not? If you have the sense that there may be more for you to do in working out the salvation that has been worked in, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

January 7, 2022 — Some Cheese might go nicely with that Whine

“I hate to admit this, my friend,” Stan said one morning while we waited for breakfast, “but, if I’m not careful, my native language tends towards whining and complaining.”

“Whining and complaining?” I replied. “What do you have to whine or complain about?”

“You’re the second person to ask me that today,” Stan replied.

“Who was the first?” I asked.

“The Holy Spirit,” he responded a bit sheepishly. 

“And what was that all about?” I asked.

“When I first got up this morning,” Stan said, “I just didn’t feel quite right. I couldn’t point to anything in particular, but I just wasn’t filled with joy. More whine and complaint than joy and praise.”

“But you seem fine now,” I commented. “Anything happen between then and now?”

“God happened,” Stan said with a smile. “As He is apt to do when I’m open to seeing and hearing what He has for me, He showed me something in His word that took care of any sense of my whining and complaining.”

“How so?” I asked.

“As I do every morning when I am starting my time of journaling,” Stan replied, “I prayed. I asked God to show me all He had for me. And guess what? He answered big time!”

Continuing, he added, “As I opened my Bible to the Book of Acts, the Lord showed me an account of Paul and Silas where they had every reason to feel down, but they did not.”

“Is that where they were in jail?” I asked.

“Yes,” Stan replied. “They had been unjustly accused, beaten with rods, thrown into the deepest part of the prison, and locked in stocks.”

“Yeah,” I said, “they had every reason to whine and complain.”

“But they didn’t,” Stan said, “and that’s what God showed me. They were praying and singing hymns of praise. Can you imagine? What a contrast to me and what I tend to do way too often. But, thankfully, the Holy Spirit asks me a question that I find really puts things into perspective for me.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Would you like some cheese with that whine?”

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Bible verses to consider:

And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having receive such a command, threw them into the inner prison, and fastened their feet in the stocks.  But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing  hymns of praise to God.  Acts of the Apostles 16:23-25.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23.

Be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8.

Prayer:  Father, you know my tendency to whine and complain about my circumstances, the way of the world, and all sorts of things.  Please forgive me.  And please help me to know in the depth of my being that I have absolutely nothing to complain about.  I am blessed beyond compare.  I know that and you know that.  Please lead me, and help me to follow, to exactly where you intend for me to be in continually offering praise and thanksgiving to you regardless of my circumstances.  May my life be one filled to overflowing with praise and thanksgiving for all you have done, all you do, and all you have for me as I choose to draw ever closer to you. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this: Can you relate to how Stan described his “native tongue”? If the fruit of the Spirit includes “joy,” what could cause a Christian to whine and complain about anything?  How do you think Paul and Silas could do what they did in the circumstances in which they found themselves? Could you do that? Do you do that? If yes, how? If no, why?

January 10, 2022 — Was she just lucky to be there?

“I have a friend,” Stan commented one morning while we waited for Ricky to bring our breakfast, “who just about drives me crazy with what he says about ‘luck’.”

“In what way?” I asked.

“Simple example,” Stan replied. “The other day I was telling him about how I had prayed for something and how God had answered my prayer exactly as I had prayed. My friend said something about me being ‘lucky’.”

“Lucky to have God answer a prayer?” I responded. “Is your friend a believer?”

“He claims to be,” Stan answered. “And that’s a big part of what drives me crazy about this guy. He doesn’t seem to see that answered prayer is about praying in accord with God’s will, it’s not about luck!”

“Sounds like your friend could use some prayer about how he sees prayer and how God answers.”

“I think you’re right,” Stan answered. “In fact, I saw something in Luke’s gospel the other day dealing with God’s answer to a woman’s dedication to prayer that might have been seen as ‘luck’ to someone who didn’t know the truth.”

“What was that all about?” I asked.

“It had to do with with Jesus’ birth and how His parents, in accordance with the law of Moses, presented Him to the Lord in the temple when He was eight days old. There was a woman named Anna who was in the temple. She saw Jesus, came up to Him and His parents, and gave thanks to God for the redemption He provided through Jesus. Without knowing Anna’s background, a person could conclude that she was ‘lucky’ to be there to see Jesus.”

“But that wasn’t the case?” I asked.

“Not in the least,” Stan replied. “Anna had been a widow for a long time. Not sure exactly how long, but it says she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow and was eighty-four when she saw Jesus in the temple. But how long she had been a widow is not the important part.”

“What is?”

“That she never left the temple,” Stan replied, “but served night and day with fasting and prayers, waiting for the Redeemer.”

“Waiting for the Redeemer,” I repeated. “So it wasn’t that she was ‘lucky’ to be in the temple when Jesus was presented. She had been waiting for Him, as if she knew that God would eventually answer her prayers. Is that the point?”

“That’s it, my friend,” Stan said. “And I think it’s the same for me. When I pray and wait for the answer, it’s not just a matter of luck when the answer comes! It’s all in God’s timing.”

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Bible verses to consider: And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with a husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. And she never left the temple, serving night and day with fasting and prayers. And at that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16.

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

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your provision of Jesus the Redeemer, through whom all who believe have life eternally with you when it’s time. Thank you, too, for the fact that I can come before you in prayer knowing beyond a shadow of doubt that you will answer my prayers in accordance with your will, including your timing. I confess that there are times when I try to “answer my own prayers” by going ahead of you without waiting for your answer. Please forgive that foolishness and help me present to a watching world the truth of your provision. 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 salvation? If no, why? If you do, have you ever thought of yourself as “lucky” to be where you are with God? Have you ever considered an answered prayer to be a matter of “luck”? If someone, a believer or a non-believer said such a thing to you, how would you respond? God’s plan of salvation is not a matter of luck. There are choices involved!

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The Book — S. Tory Teller’s book (Foreword by Josh McDowell), Waiting for the Train: Biblical Food for Growing before Going, is available from amazon.com as well as from the publisher at s-toryteller.com 

January 11, 2022 — Getting what you Expect?

“You seem to get a lot out of the time you spend reading the Bible,” I commented to Stan one morning. “Has it always been that way?”

Stan laughed. “Absolutely not!” he exclaimed. “As I look back on how I approached the Bible, it was with no or very low expectations, and I got exactly what I expected!”

“You didn’t expect much,” I commented, “and that’s what you got.”

“Exactly,” Stan replied. “Only when I began approaching God and His word with the expectation that He had much for me to see and hear, it was only then that I began to see and to hear.”

“And how did that happen?” I asked.

“For me it was little by little,” Stan replied. “At one point soon after I became a Christian, I undertook to read the whole Bible in a year. I followed the plan and made it through on schedule, but I have to admit I didn’t get a whole lot out of what I was reading.”

“More like a race through the Bible to get done on time?” I asked.

“You could say that,” Stan replied. “I expected that if I followed the plan, I would get through the Bible in a year. And that’s what happened. I got through it. I met my expectation.”

Continuing, he added, “While I think that reading through the Bible like that is a good way to get an overview of the whole thing, for me it wasn’t until I started focusing on the Bible with the expectation of being shown what God had for me, it was only then that a different expectation began to be met.”

“Began to be met?” I said. “Not met?”

“That’s it,” Stan replied. “And for me it’s the same thing regardless of how many times I’ve been through the Bible. If I’m open to being shown what God has for me, if I expect to be shown, I will be shown. The Bible is the life-giving Word of God that takes me deeper and deeper in my knowledge and understanding of God in a personal relationship.”

“Maybe,” I responded, “that’s why Jesus said that eternal life is about knowing Him and God the Father.”

“You could be right,” my friend,” Stan replied. “And it seems to me that if I expect to know God the Father and Jesus the Son in an ever-deepening way, my expectation will be met if I take the right approach.”

“And how do you do that?” I asked.

“Each day,” Stan replied, “as I come before God, I pray and ask Him to open me to see all He has for me to see in His Word. And I ask Him to open my spiritual ears to hear all He has for me to hear.”

“And,” he added, “I expect Him to answer my prayers. And He does!”

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Bible verses to consider:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly. John 10:10.

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

This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you have provided all I need to know you in an ever-deepening relationship. You have given me your written word in the Bible. You have given me the Holy Spirit who is in me to help me know you as you intend. I confess that too often my expectations of knowing you and what you have for me are too low and I do not come before you with the expectation that you will show and tell me all you have for me. Please forgive that foolish approach (or non-approach) to knowing you. Please, Father, help me to follow every step of your lead into the deepest possible relationship with you, the relationship you intend for me. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Do you know God for eternal purposes in the sense that you have accepted His free and gracious gift of life eternally with Him when it’s time? If no, why? What is standing in the way? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing in knowing God while you wait to step into eternity? Do you open God’s Word with the expectation He will show you exactly what He has for you? If you sense changes are needed in how you approach God, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

January 12, 2022 — Choosing God’s Faithfulness

“I was reading in the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians last night,” I mentioned to Stan one morning, “and I have a question.”

“Well,” he replied with a smile, “I hope I have an answer! What’s your question?”

“At one point in the letter,” I responded, “Paul writes that the Lord is faithful and that He will strengthen and protect the readers of his letter from the evil one.”

“That’s right,” Stan said. “What about it?”

“If what Paul wrote is true,” I replied, “why don’t I always feel strengthened and protected from Satan?”

“I only have an answer for myself,” Stan said. “I can’t speak about you because I don’t know your heart. But I know mine, and I can tell you I have had the same question lots of times. If God is faithful to strengthen and protect me from Satan, and I do believe that, why am I too often weak and unprotected? For me, the answer is simply the choices I make.”

“Choices you make?” I replied. “In what way?”

“Plural,” Stan said. “Ways, not way. Each hour of each day I am confronted with choices that have to be made. Yes, God is faithful to strengthen and protect me, but the question is whether or not I choose to rely on His faithfulness, or do I go off on my own trying to rely on my own strength to protect myself?”

“Oh,” I responded, “you think a person needs to choose to rely on God’s faithfulness. Is that it?”

“That’s what I see, my friend,” Stan said. “Based on way too much experience, I have learned that God does not force on me what He is faithful to do. I have to choose to allow His faithfulness to replace my unfaithfulness.”

“So,” I responded, “it’s just a matter of choosing. It’s as simple as that?”

“Yes, my friend,” Stan replied, “but just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy!”

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Bible verses to consider:

But the Lord is faithful and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3.

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7.

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

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for all of your faithfulness in providing all I need in order to live this life the way you intend. I confess that too often I do not rely on your faithful provision, but I seek to live this life by my own strength. Please forgive that foolishness in thinking I can do anything apart from you and your faithfulness. Please, Father, help me follow every step of your lead so I rely entirely on your faithful provision. With regard to your faithfulness, please help me to claim it, receive it, and embrace it exactly as you want. 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 faithful provision of life eternally with Him through the finished work of the cross? If no, why? If you do have the assurance of life eternally with Him when it’s time, how are you doing with accepting His faithful provision of all you need to live the life He has given you to live for Him? Is His faithfulness overridden by your attempts on your own, or by your unfaithfulness? If you sense some changes may be in order regarding how you view and embrace God’s faithful provision, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

January 13, 2022 — Do the lights come on automatically when it’s dark?

“The other day I was at Big Box Wholesale Club doing my regular shopping,” Stan commented, “and I saw something I hadn’t seen before.”

“That’s one of the things that makes shopping at Big Box so much fun,” I replied. “What did you find?”

“Outdoor lights,” he said, “that have some sort of sensor that makes them come on automatically when it gets dark.”

“Oh,” I replied, “I’ve seen those. Pretty clever. Did you get some?”

“I did,” Stan said. “I’m not real handy with electricity and haven’t put the lights up yet, but one of my neighbors told me he would help me install them this weekend.”

“That’s certainly nice,” I said. “You have some nice neighbors!”

“Sure do,” Stan responded. “And with this particular neighbor I’m hoping to have the opportunity to tell him something that was brought to my attention about how these lights are just like my faith walk is supposed to be.”

“How’s that?” I asked.

“When I am confronted by the darkness of the world, the flesh, and/or the devil,” Stan replied, “how the light of Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirt is to come on automatically to get rid of that darkness.”

“Come on automatically,” I repeated. “You think that’s the way it’s supposed to be?”

“I do,” Stan replied. “Although Jesus wasn’t talking about electricity when He was talking about the lights, He was talking about a much brighter light when He first described Himself as the light of the world. He then turned around and told us who believe that we are the light of the world.”

“Well,” I said, “if we are to be the light of the world, what are we supposed to do?”

“We are supposed to do what light does,” Stan replied. “Get rid of the darkness, remembering two things: first, that light is the only remedy for darkness and, secondly, that the light is to come on automatically when darkness approaches!”

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Bible verses to consider:

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. Genesis 1:3.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him; and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness; and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:1-5.

Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under a peck measure, but on the lampstand and it gives light to all who are in the house. Matthew 5:14-15.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for giving your Son as the Light of the World so that all who believe can have life eternally with you when it’s time. Thank you, too, that His light can and will shine in and through each person who surrenders and chooses to have that light shine. I confess that too often I am attracted to the darkness of the world, the flesh, and the devil and I choose that darkness over your light. Please forgive that foolishness. And please help me follow every step of your lead so I am the light you intend to shine into the darkness and make a difference for you and your kingdom. 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 salvation by having accepted God’s free and gracious provision of the Light of Life? If no, why? If you do have the assurance of salvation for when your time here is completed, how are you doing with being the light of the world that shines the Light of Life into the dark world? Do you believe that the light of Christ is the only solution for the darkness? Why or why not? If you sense the need for changes in your life to be the light you are intended to be, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

January 14, 2022 — The GPS

“Does your car have a GPS?” Stan asked me one morning.

“It does,” I responded. “I use it all of the time and find that it’s really helpful.  Why do you ask?”

“You know what GPS stands for?” Stan asked.

“Global Positioning System,” I said, “or something like that.”

“I think that’s right,” Stan replied. “And the other day I saw how the GPS in my car can teach me spiritual lessons.”

“Spiritual lessons from your GPS? You must be kidding!”

“Not when I see GPS as ‘God’s Positioning System’ or ‘God’s Protective System’,” Stan replied with a smile. “Actually,” he continued, the GPS voice on my car helped me to focus on a spiritual lesson just yesterday.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Well,” Stan said, “I heard about a new discount tire store over in Junction City. I didn’t know where it was, but I had the address. I put that address in the GPS and headed out.”

“Sounds good,” I commented. “Then what?”

“At one point,” Stan replied, “I missed a turn and the GPS voice said, ‘Recalculating.  Make a U-turn if possible’.”

“Yeah,” I responded, “mine says about the same thing when I make a mistake and miss a turn.  What about it?”

“It struck me,” Stan said, “that the Holy Spirit often says the same thing to me, but with an important difference.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I’m going in the wrong direction, the Holy Spirit says I am to make a U-turn, but He does not add, ‘if possible’.”

“No,” Stan continued. “the Holy Spirit says to make a U-turn and He adds no qualification to it.  He says ‘turn around and go in a different direction.’ When I hear and listen to His voice, I am to change directions. Period. None of this ‘If possible’ sort of thing!”

“Isn’t that kind of what repentance is all about?” I asked.

“Yes, my friend,” Stan replied. “And it’s more than ‘kind of like’. I think that’s what it is all  about.There are to be no ifs, ands, or buts.  It is when I seek to add some qualification to my repentance that I am continuing to go in the wrong direction.”

“Make a U-turn and make it quickly,” I commented.

“Bingo and Amen,” Stan replied.

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Bible verses to consider:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9.

Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. Acts of the Apostles 3:19

I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:7.

And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you sent Jesus into the world so that all who change from their direction of unbelief can believe and have the assurance of spending eternity in your presence. Thank you for those who brought me to that truth so I could repent. Thank you, too, for the provision of the Holy Spirit who leads me in daily repentance to change directions and walk with you. I confess that too often I do not listen to His voice and I do not change directions. Please forgive that foolishness. Please help me in following every step of your lead so I follow you and your direction exactly as you intend. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you repented for eternal purposes so that you know you will spend eternity in God’s presence when it’s time? If no, why? That assurance is free and is available to be accepted by faith. If you do have that assurance, how are you doing with repentance on this side of eternity? Are there times when you purposefully do not repent and change directions? If so, what is that all about? If you sense the need for changes in how you view ongoing repentance, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

January 17, 2022 — Like a Yoyo?

“I took the dog for a walk yesterday afternoon,” Stan commented, “and I saw something to reflect on about my faith walk.”

“Two walks,” I commented. “One with the dog and one with God!”

“That’s it,” Stan replied. “If I’m open to seeing, every step I take will show me something about God and what He has for me.”

“What’d you see yesterday on your walk?”

“A neighbor boy playing with a yoyo that Santa had put in his Christmas stocking,” Stan replied.

“What did the boy’s yoyo show you?” I asked.

“Two separate things,” Stan replied.  “First, my faith walk is not to be like a yoyo in that all I do is go up and down without making any progress in my spiritual maturity.”

“Don’t just go up and down in your faith,” I said, “but break loose of the strings that are limiting you; is that the point?”

“Yeah, that’s it,” Stan replied. “That’s the first point. The second one has to do with how some people use the term ‘yoyo’ to mean ‘you’re on your own’, and there’s a real danger in being that kind of yoyo.”

“What kind of danger are you talking about?” I asked.

“Rather than being on my own and relying on what I think I should be doing,” Stan replied, “I am to seek, find, and follow God’s will for me.”

“Rather than being on your own,” I commented, “going where you think best, doing what you think best, be surrendered to God, is that it? Sounds kind of like the three-steps of discipleship that Jesus talked about.”

“You’ve got that right, my friend,” Stan replied. “Rather than being on my own, I am to deny wanting to be on my own. Rather than being on my own by doing what I want to do, I am to take up what God has for me to take up in being His. Those are the first two steps.”

“And the third step,” I added, “is to follow,”

“Wherever, however, and whenever,” Stan added, “which is always!”

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Bible verses to consider:

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33.

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law. Proverbs 29:18.

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, for providing the way to you through Jesus so we are not on our own, trying to make our way into your eternal presence by our own efforts. You provided the way into your eternal presence for all who believe and you provide the way to know you and Jesus so we are not on our own on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I try to do on my own what only you can do. Please forgive that foolishness. And please, Father, help me in following every step of your lead so I am the disciple you intend by denying self, taking up what you have for me to take up, and following you wherever, however, and whenever you want, which is always. 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 provision of life with Him in eternity so you are not on your own, trying to earn what He has available for free? If no, why? What’s standing in the way? If you do have the assurance of spending eternity in God’s presence when it’s time, how are you doing with living the life He has for you on this side of eternity? Are you trying to live it on your own? If so, why? If you sense the need for some changes in how you are living your life here, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

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S. Tory Teller’s book (Foreword by Josh McDowell), Waiting for the Train — Biblical Food for Growing Before Going is available at amazon.com and through the publisher at s-toryteller.com