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January 18, 2022 — Who’s Listening?

“The other day,” Stan mentioned one morning, “I admitted to you about my unpleasant tendency to whine and complain.” [Note to reader: See the posting for January 7, 2022, “Some Cheese might go nicely with that Whine”.]

“You did,” I responded.  “About that being your native language if you’re not careful.”

“Exactly,” Stan said. “And there’s another part of that story about Paul and Silas I would like to mention this morning.”

“What’s that?”

“You’ll remember,” Stan replied, “that Paul and Silas were in prison in some dire circumstances.”

“But rather than whining and complaining,” I said, “they were praying and singing hymns of praise to God.”

“That’s it,” Stan said, “and you know who was listening?”

“God?”

“Most certainly,” Stan replied, “but also the other prisoners. And that’s an important lesson for me in my faith walk.”

“How so?”

“Seems to me,” Stan said, “it’s pretty much a given that what the other prisoners heard had a  positive impact on them. Here were two prisoners, Paul and Silas, locked in stocks in a dark dingy prison, and they were giving praise to God.”

Continuing, he added, “I think it’s equally true that if Paul and Silas had been whining and complaining about their circumstances, the other prisoners would have been impacted negatively, thinking that they were just like any other whiner or complainer.”

“And how does that impact your faith walk?” I asked.

“Knowing that how I respond to circumstances can and probably will have an impact on others. Will my response be as a Spirit-filled Christian, or no different from the response of anyone else?”

“You’re right,” I responded.  “We never know for certain who’s listening.  If I’m complaining and whining, that doesn’t present a very good picture of who I claim to be as a Christian.”

“Yes,” Stan said, “and in the opposite way, if I am praising God in difficult circumstances, it may make a difference in other people’s perspective on what being a Christian is all about.”

“And,” I added, “possibly encourage them to want to find out more.”

“Bingo and Amen,” Stan responded with a smile.

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Bible verses to consider:

But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.  Acts of the Apostles 16:25.

. . . be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:18-19.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you bring me into circumstances and give me the opportunity to represent you well by praising you.  You know how often I fail to praise you because of what is going on in my life. Please forgive all of my failures to represent you well, to have missed the opportunity to make a difference in another person’s perspective of what it means to be a Christian.  You know how much help I need with this, and I ask you for all you can provide. Please help me in following every step of your lead in praising you regardless of what’s going on, knowing and accepting the truth of the “all things” of Romans 8:28. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: People watch what we do and they listen to what we say. What they see and hear can have an impact on how they view Christians and Christianity. Do you agree with that? Why or why not? Have you ever responded to a circumstance in a way that you wished you hadn’t because it did not reflect well on who you are as a Christian? If so, what was that all about? On the other hand, has there been the opposite, where your response did have a positive impact on someone else? If so, reflect on that and see how that can be made a part of your life on a consistent basis.

January 19, 2022 — A Well-Spent Youth? It Depends

“Back in our old town,” Stan commented on morning, “I had two particular friends who were about as different as day and night.”

“In what way?” I asked.

“How they spent their youth,” Stan replied, “and what became of that.”

Continuing, he added, “One friend had spent his youth in a way that he liked to say allowed him to live off a well-spent youth.”

“Oh,” I responded, “like having made good decisions when he was younger that allowed him to live off of those good decisions as he aged. Is that it?”

“That’s it,” Stan said. “He had been quite successful in this world and was living off of that success as he got older.”

“What about your other friend?” I asked.

“He was a bit of a character,” Stan said with a smile. “He liked to talk about how he spent his youth writing his future testimony.”

“Writing his future testimony,” I repeated. “What’s that mean?”

“As he put it,” Stan said, “he spent his youth doing things that, without change, would have resulted in a life that wasn’t much more than a good bad example.”

“A youth not well-spent,” I commented. “I’ve seen a lot of them!”

“Me, too,” Stan said, “but with my friend, he came to faith, saw that God saved him, not only for eternity, but for this side of eternity, and, as well, gave him a testimony that impacted a lot of people over the years.”

“In what way?”

“His message,” Stan replied, “was that if God could change him, God can change anyone. And that while he was spending his youth pursuing what he wanted to pursue apart from God, God was leading him in writing a future testimony of how God can change a life.”

“So,” I said, “even though his life did not look to be well-spent at the time, it turned out that way. I guess we shouldn’t think that God is finished with a person until He is finished!”

“Good guess!” Stan replied with a smile. “We never know what testimony God is preparing for us to have for the benefit of others.”

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Bible verses to consider:

Jesus answered, and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3.

Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for those you brought into my life to tell me the truth of your free and gracious provision of life eternally with you when my time here is completed. Without knowing that truth and being able to accept it, I would have spent the rest of my time here just as it began, separated from you. Thank you for changing that, and for giving me a testimony of your love, grace, and mercy that I can share with others so that they, too, may have their lives and eternal destinations changed. I confess that too often I am reluctant to tell others what you have done for me and can do for them. Please help me in following every step of your lead in telling others what you have for me to speak and to demonstrate. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: What does a “well-spent youth” look like to you? Every Christian should have a personal testimony of how God changed a life. Do you agree with that? Why or why not? Do you have a personal testimony that you readily share with others so that their lives and eternal destinations might be changed? If no, why? If you sense changes may be needed in how you view the need for having and expressing a personal testimony, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

January 20, 2022 — What are you doing in there?

“I had an experience the other day with one of my neighbors,” Stan commented, “that, hopefully, will have an impact on him.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“As you know,” Stan replied, “I get up early each morning to spend time with God.”

“Yeah,” I said, “your time of journaling prayers, devotions, what God shows you in the Bible, and that sort of thing.”

“Exactly,” Stan said. “For me it’s an essential part of my day.”

“And what about your neighbor?” I asked.

“Well,” Stan replied, “the other afternoon I was out in the front yard trimming some roses. My neighbor came over and said he often sees the light on in my den early in the morning. He wondered what I’m doing in there while it’s still dark.”

“What did you say to him?”

“I told him that I’m following Jesus’ example,” Stan replied. “He then wanted to know what that meant, and I was able to share with him some things that, hopefully, will make a difference.”

“What kind of things?”

“About how Jesus would get up in the early morning while it was still dark and go spend time by Himself with His Father.”

“Why did He do that?” I asked.

“To find out what was on His Father’s mind about what He had for Jesus to be and to do,” Stan said. “And, it seems to me, that it’s to be the same for me. If I don’t take the time to be alone with God, how am I going to find out what’s on His mind? How am I going to get to know Him?”

“Get to know Him,” I repeated. “That’s kind of like how Jesus described ‘eternal life’ isn’t it?”

“More than ‘kind of like,’ my friend,” Stan replied. “Seems to me that once we have the assurance of spending eternity in God’s presence when our time here is finished, the ‘getting to know God’ part of eternal life is what we are to pursue for as long as God chooses to leave us here.”

“And,” he concluded, “that’s what I told my neighbor when he asked, ‘What are you doing in there?’”

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Bible verses to consider:

And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there. Mark 1:35.

And after He had sent the multitudes away, He went up to the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. Matthew 14:23.

And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you allow me to come before you in prayer, and that you want me to spend time with you in a quiet place so I can hear your voice of what you have for me to be and to do. I confess that too often I do not come before you in the quiet place you have for me. Please forgive that foolish approach to being able to hear what is on your heart and mind, what you have for me. Please help me in following every step of your lead so I choose to spend time knowing you and your Son in an ever-deepening personal relationship. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in His name. Amen.

Think on this: Jesus not only taught His disciples how to pray, he showed them where to pray, in a quiet place. Do you agree with that? Why or why not? Do you purposefully spend time quietly with God in prayer listening to what He has for you to be and to do? If no, why? If you sense changes may be needed in how and where you spend time with God, how are those changes going to occur? If you do spend such time with God, how would you explain to another person what that means to you?

January 21, 2022 — Which Menu are You going to select from?

Ricky was on vacation and a new waiter came to the table with some menus. As he handed one to Stan, Stan said, “Thanks, but I don’t need a menu, I know what I want.”

I said the same thing and the waiter took our orders. Both Stan and I ordered the blueberry pancakes.  “Can’t go wrong with those,” I mentioned to Stan as the waiter left to tell Cook what we wanted.

“That’s so true,” Stan replied, “Not only with breakfast, but with the whole menu of life.”

“Menu of life?” I said. “What’s that?”

“Choices,” Stan replied. “Each day I am faced with an uncountable number of choices. Some will take me closer to God and some will take me further away from what He has for me. It’s up to me to choose from the right menu.”

“The right menu? Is there more than one?”

“Definitely,” Stan said. “There’s God’s menu, and there’s the menu of the world, the flesh, and the devil, along with the side menu of self.”

Continuing, he added, “It’s important to know which is which and to know God’s menu well enough to choose what He has for me. It seems to me, that the apostle Peter in John’s gospel was talking to Jesus about this.”

“Ordering off a menu?” I asked.

“Kind of,” Stan replied. “At one point in Jesus’ ministry, some of the disciples decided to quit walking with Jesus because they couldn’t accept some of the things He had said to them, and, in essence, Jesus asked the twelve apostles if they were going to order off a different menu.”

“What did they say?” I asked.

“It only records what Peter said, and he had the right response,” Stan replied.

“How did Peter respond?”

“Perfectly,” Stan said. “Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life’.”

“To whom shall we go?” I repeated. “What a great question that was the answer!”

“Exactly,” Stan replied. “And I think that’s the question that applies to me when I’m deciding which menu to select from for every part of my life.”

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Bible verses to consider:

As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him any more. Jesus said therefore to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” John 6:66-69.

And just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, “What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Mark 1:23-24.

. . . choose for yourselves today whom you will serve . . . . Joshua 24:15.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for all that you have for me: life eternally with you when it’s time, along with the eternal life of growing ever closer to you before then. I confess that too often I select from a “menu” that is different from the one you have for me to select from. I do that because I want to do what I want to do apart from you. Please forgive that foolish approach to being yours in an ever-deepening personal relationship. And please help me in following every step of your lead in choosing only what you have for me, not what is available for me from the menu of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you selected God’s provision of life eternally with Him when your time here is completed? If no, why? What’s standing in the way of accepting His free and gracious provision? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with selecting from God’s menu for your life here? If you sense changes may be needed in which menus you are looking at and selecting from, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

January 24, 2022 — Who’s Watching?

“As you’ll remember,” Stan commented one morning, “we have talked a little bit recently about the story of Paul and Silas being in a prison.”

“I do remember,” I said. “Two different points. One about giving praise in difficult circumstances, and the other about being alert to who’s listening to what we say about our circumstances.” [Note to reader: See the postings for January 16, 2022 (“Some Cheese might go nicely with that Whine”) and January 18, 2022 (“Who’s Listening?”)].

“That’s right,” Stan replied. “Good remembering!”

Continuing, he added, “There’s one more thing I want to mention about this account of Paul and Silas that has an impact on my faith walk.”

“Fire away,” I responded. “Tell me what you have.”

“While Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and while the other prisoners were listening to them,” Stan said, “there was an earthquake that caused the prison doors to open and the chains to fall off of the prisoners.”

“Wow!” I said, “What a happy coincidence.”

“I don’t think coincidence had anything to do with it,” Stan replied. “I think God was making a point.”

“What point?”

“The point about who’s watching what we do in our relationship with God.”

“How so?” I asked.

“When the earthquake occurred,” Stan replied, “the jailer was concerned that the prisoners would have escaped and he would be in big trouble with his boss.  He was so concerned that he was about to take his own life.”

“He was going to kill himself?”

“That’s what it says,” Stan said, “but God intervened by letting the jailer know that the prisoners had not gone anywhere.  When the jailer then brought the prisoners out, it says that he was so impressed that they had not escaped that he asked Paul and Silas what he needed to do to be saved.”

“All because the jailer had seen what Paul and Silas had done or not done?”

“That’s it,” Stan replied. “And I see this as something for me to keep in mind. The world is watching what I do and don’t do in my relationship with God. And it may just make a difference in lives and eternal destinations.”

“By making them want to know what they must do to be saved like you are saved,” I commented. “Is that it?”

“You go it, my friend,” Stan replied. “That they will ask me, ask you, and ask everyone who demonstrates their faith by what they do and by what they don’t do.”

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Bible verses to consider:

But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all of the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened. And when the jailer had been roused out of sleep and had seen the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here!”  And he called for lights and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after bringing them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  Acts of the Apostles 16:25-30.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you want me to be intentional about my faith in you.  Thank you that you bring people into my life who want to see you in and through me.  Please forgive all of the times I have failed to manifest you and have failed to demonstrate to the watching world the reality of you.  I need and I ask for your help in always being aware that what I do and what I say in manifesting your presence can have an eternal impact on those who are watching.  Please, Father, move in me so that others will be drawn to you and will ask what they need to do to be saved.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this: When people see what you do and what you don’t do in this life, do they see someone who is acting based on their faith in God? If no, is that because you have not accepted God’s free and gracious gift of life with Him eternally when your time here is done? Or is it because you are not intentional about demonstrating your faith? If you sense changes may be appropriate based on your answer, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

January 25, 2022 — We are all Teachers and Students

“One of my neighbors is a teacher over at Elmsbrook Elementary,” Stan commented one morning. “She and her husband came over for dinner last Saturday.”

“Good time?” I asked.

“Fabulous,” Stan replied. “Great people. Good neighbors. Committed believers.”

“What does she teach?” I asked.

“We talked about that,” Stan replied. “She teaches the fifth grade, but she had an interesting perspective on how we are all teachers, as well as all being students.”

“We are all teachers and we are all students,” I said. “How does that work?”

“It depends,” Stan replied.

“On what?”

“Who we listen to,” Stan said, “and what we say and do. Seems to me that applies to every area of my life, but especially in my faith walk. I am to be a student by listening to God, and I am to be a teacher by being intentional about my faith.”

“But,” I asked, “what if other people don’t want what you have to teach them about your faith?”

“That’s up to them,” Stan replied. “I am to do what I am to do and leave the results in God’s very capable hands. The apostle Paul wrote about this to his friend Timothy. While it seems Paul was writing to Timothy specifically about Timothy’s leading the church, it seems to me that Paul was also writing to each one of us for how we are to conduct our lives as teachers and students.”

“In what way?” I asked.

“At one point in Paul’s first letter to Timothy,” Stan said, “Paul told Timothy to pay close attention to himself and to his teaching.”

“Pay close attention to himself and to his teaching,” I repeated. “I see how this can have a broader application. To pay close attention to myself is like being careful about what I am taught. If I want to be taught God’s way, I need to go to Him and pay close attention to what He has to say.”

“That’s it!” Stan replied. “That’s the part about being a student. How about the part of being a teacher?”

“Well,” I replied, “I guess that would be like taking what I learn from God and manifesting it in my life so that others may see, hear, and learn.”

“More than a guess, my friend,” Stan replied with a smile.

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Bible verses to consider:

Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching. 1 Timothy 4:16.

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Acts of the Apostles 20:28.

You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right; for so I am. John 13:13.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for all you have to teach me about you, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and everything you have for me to learn so I will manifest you and what you teach me to make a difference in this world. I confess that too often I do not seek to learn from you, and I do not manifest what you teach me. Please forgive that foolish approach to living the life you have given me to live for you and your kingdom. Please, Father, help me to follow every step of your lead so I not only learn all you have for me, but I manifest that to make a difference because of what you teach 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 the knowledge of God’s saving grace so that you have the assurance of spending eternity in His presence? If no, why? Do you not know it is His free and gracious gift that needs only to be accepted? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with learning all you can about God so you can manifest that to the watching world, to make a difference for God and for His kingdom? If you sense there is a need for change in being a student as well as a teacher of what God has for you, how is that change going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

January 26, 2022 — The Discipline of being a Disciple

“Seems to me,” I said to Stan one morning while we waited for Ricky to bring our breakfast, “that you talk an awfully lot about discipleship. It’s almost like you see discipleship as the core of what it means to be a Christian.”

“If it seems that way,” Stan replied, “it’s because that’s the way I see it. I do see it as the core of what it means to be a Christian, and I think that’s what Jesus was talking about when He set forth what we call ‘The Great Commission’.”

“How’s that?” I asked.

“Jesus said to go and make disciples,” Stan replied. “He didn’t say to go and make converts because I think that was a given. People can’t be disciples until they are Christians, so Jesus focused on discipleship, knowing that the discipline of being a disciple is to follow becoming a Christian.”

“Discipline of being a disciple?”

“Yeah,” Stan said. “That’s what I think Jesus was talking about. Seems to me that the apostle Paul wrote the same thing to Timothy when Paul told him to be disciplined for for the purpose of godliness.”

“So,” I responded, “there’s some sort of connection between discipline, discipleship, and godliness?”

“More than ‘some sort’ of connection,” Stan said. “I think that’s what it’s all about. Discipleship doesn’t just happen. It takes discipline.”

“Like discipline in denying self, discipline in taking up what God has for us to take up, and discipline in following?” I said. “Is that it?”

“That’s it,” Stan replied with a smile. “Remember it doesn’t just happen; it takes discipline to be a disciple.”

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Bible verses to consider:

On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8.

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.

If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.  Matthew 15:24-25.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20.

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

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your provision of life eternally with you through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Thank you, too, that the assurance of life eternally with you when our time here is completed is to be followed by being a disciple of Christ.  I confess that too often I do not pursue being the disciple you intend because I choose to do what I want to be and do apart from you. Please forgive that foolish approach to being yours. And please, Father, help me to follow every step of your lead so I am the disciple you intend for me to be for as long as you keep me here. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of the One I am to follow. Amen.

Think on this: Have you accepted God’s free and gracious gift of life eternally with Him when it’s time for you to step into eternity? If no, why? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with being a disciple? Do you think that being a Christian automatically makes you a disciple? Why or why not? If you sense a need for some changes in your discipleship, 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, Waiting for the Train: Biblical Food for Growing before Going, is all about discipleship, what it means to be a Christian, and how to live the life we have been given. It’s a great tool available at amazon.com and www.s-toryteller.com 

January 27, 2022 — Excited to Spread the Word?

We had given our breakfast order to Ricky and were waiting for a refill on our coffee when a young woman stopped at the table.

“Hi, Stan,” she said excitedly.  “Mind if I give you a flyer?  I’m getting ready to head off to college and I’m having a garage sale this weekend to get rid of a lot of stuff I’m not going to need. I would really appreciate it if you would spread the word.”

“Be happy to do that for you,” Stan replied as she handed him a flyer, thanked him, and bounced on her way.

“Wow,” I said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone that excited about a garage sale!”

“Well,” Stan replied, “she’s getting ready for some real changes in her life. Nothing wrong with getting excited about that!”

“You’re right,” I said, “but it makes me wonder how great it would be if everyone was that excited about making eternal changes in their lives.”

“Good thought,” Stan replied. “And it applies equally to the life changes that can occur on this side of eternity once a person has changed direction for eternity.”

“However,” he continued, “speaking for myself, I see that for way too long I was not excited about about spreading the truth. I was more apt to get excited about things that really made no eternal difference.”

“But,” I responded, “weren’t you excited about where you were going to spend eternity, in God’s presence?”

“Of course,” Stan replied, “but it was only when I began to see that it’s likely that God is excited to see who I bring with me, it was only then that I got excited about spreading the truth.”

“You really think God gets excited about that?”

“I do,” Stan replied. “The Bible talks about the joy in heaven when a person repents. I think it’s likely that the joy comes from excitement.”

“And you want to be excited about what excites God?” I said. “Is that the point?”

“Bingo and Amen,” Stan responded with a smile. “If He gets excited when I spread the word, that’s what I want to do!”

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Bible verses to consider:

And the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great number of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.  Acts of the Apostles 6:7.

Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:12-15.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Romans 10:17. 

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.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that there is nothing more exciting to hear than the free and gracious provision of life with you eternally when my time here is completed. Thank you also for the exciting news of being able to know you in an ever-deepening personal relationship on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I am not excited about telling other people about your provision so they, too, can know and be excited about the truth. Please forgive my failure to be excited about sharing your Good News. Help me in following every step of your lead so I am excited to spread the word of you, your provision, and the fact it only has to be received to make a difference for eternity and for this side before then. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Are you excited because you have accepted God’s free and gracious gift of life eternally with Him when it’s time? If no, why? Is it because you haven’t accepted it? If so, what’s holding you back? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, it’s likely because someone told you about it. Who was that person? How are you doing with being excited about spreading the Good News? Are you more reluctant than excited? If you sense changes may be in order, how are those changes going to happen? Would you like to be excited about sharing the Good News with people who don’t know? Why or why not?

January 28, 2022 — The Melody was Enticing

“I was on my way over to Johnsonville the other day,” Stan commented one morning. “While I was driving I was listening to some Christian music and was reminded of a friend I was able to lead to the Lord a few years back.”

“What were you listening to that reminded you of that?” I asked.

“Amazing Grace,” he replied.

“Oh, I love that song,” I said. “Such a powerful message. It’s haunting. Tell me about your friend.”

“He was not a believer. He was actually from a Jewish background, but he didn’t seem to have a religious bone in his body. No real interest in anything spiritual. But he absolutely loved the melody of ‘Amazing Grace’.”

“Did he understand the meaning of the lyrics?” I asked.

“Not at first,” Stan replied. “And I asked him that very question one day. I asked him if he understood what John Newton was writing about when he wrote the lyrics.”

“How did he respond to that?”

“He said he had never really listened to the lyrics, that he just loved the melody and found it very enticing.”

“Sounds like that could have been a great opportunity to tell him to listen to the lyrics.”

“Exactly,” Stan replied. “And that’s what I did. I suggested that he listen to the words, and that I would be pleased to answer any questions he might have.”

“And did he?” I asked.

“He did,” Stan replied. “He listened and asked what it was all about. I told him that the title of the song said it all. Amazing grace. I was able to explain what was so amazing about God’s gracious provision of life with Him eternally and on this side of eternity.”

“Did your friend come to faith right away?”

“He did not,” Stan replied, “but the door was opened and we had many wonderful discussions as he asked and I answered his questions. One day he came to faith and he never looked back.”

“A great memory,” I commented. “All from an enticing melody.”

“The melody entices,” Stan replied, “but it’s the words that convince of God’s truly amazing grace.”

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Bible verses to consider:

. . . I was shown mercy, because I acted in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 1:13-14.

. . . one thing I do know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. John 9:25.

For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:17.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your amazing grace in providing the way to your eternal presence through the finished work of Jesus’ cross. Thank you for those who brought me to the truth that has set me free to be yours. I confess that too often I do not take advantage of situations and circumstances to tell others of your amazing grace so that they, too, can come to faith. Please forgive me for that, and please help me in following every step of your lead to help others know of your amazing grace — your gracious and free provision of everything needed for life with you, both here and there. 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 amazing grace, His gracious and free provision of life with Him eternally when your time here is finished? If no, why? What is holding you back? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with God’s amazing grace on this side of eternity? How are you doing in telling others of His amazing grace? If you sense changes are needed, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

January 31, 2022 — You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

“You familiar with the expression, ‘You can run but you can’t hide’?” Stan asked me one morning.

“Well,” I replied, “as far as I know, it’s attributed to a professional boxer who said it, or something like it, before some big fight.”

“Yeah,” Stan replied, “I think you’re right. Joe Louis.”

“But why do you ask?” I said.

“It came to mind earlier this morning when I was reading the apostle Paul’s first letter to his friend Timothy.”

“Is that where he wrote about fighting the good fight?” I asked with a smile

“No,” Stan replied with a bit of a laugh, “but that was good!”

“The part I read that reminded me of running but not being able to hide,” he continued, “was where Paul was writing to Timothy about the fact that good deeds are obvious and bad deeds can’t be hidden.”

“Can’t be hidden? Why not?”

“That’s what the Bible says,” Stan replied. “Jesus said it and the apostle Paul wrote it in one of his letters to the church in Corinth. We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

“So even if people think they may be getting away with something they’ve done,” I said, “they’re going to have to account for it at some point; they won’t be able to hide it forever. Is that what you mean?”

“Yeah,” Stan replied, “that’s it. I don’t think that’s what Joe Louis was talking about before the big fight, but it sure is a good reminder for me.”

“A reminder,” I said, “that even though your sins are forgiven because you ran to the cross and accepted Jesus’s finished work, if you don’t want known the bad things you’ve done, don’t do them!”

“That’s it,” Stan said. “I may be able to hide bad stuff for a little while, but it will eventually come out, and if I don’t want that to happen, the best way is for there to be nothing to come out. I need to choose to live a holy life.”

“A holy life?” I responded. “How’s a person supposed to do that?”

“Big subject,” Stan said. “One we can talk about forever, but, in a nutshell, I find it is useful if I  focus on why the Spirit of the living Christ who lives in me is called ‘The Holy Spirit’ as well as ‘The Helper’. He is in me to help me be holy. I am to let Him do why He’s there!”

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Bible verses to consider:

Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed. 1 Timothy 5:25.

He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out. Proverbs 10:9.

For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths. Proverbs 5:21.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you have provided all I need to live life as you intend. You provided the way for me to know I will spend eternity in your presence when my time here is finished. You gave me the Holy Spirit to live in me to help me work out the salvation you worked in. I have all I need, but too often I choose not to live the holy life you have for me to live. Why? Because I want to do what I want to do apart from you and what you have for me to be and to do. Please forgive that foolish approach to living this life. And please, Father, help me follow every step of your lead in living the life you intend. 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 eternally when your time here is completed? If no, why? Are you trying to hide from Him? If so, why would you want to do that? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, are there things in your life you are trying to hide from God and/or from others? If so, what is that all about? If you sense the need to be more (totally) open to God so there is nothing you are trying to hide, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?