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May 10, 2022 — Need Help in Overcoming?

“There was a point in my life,” Stan commented one morning “when some things happened that I was not sure I could handle. There were some significant setbacks that seemed like too much for me to overcome and survive.”

“What was that all about?” I asked.

“I had made some decisions that in retrospect turned out to be foolish,” Stan replied.

“Things are usually a lot clearer in hindsight,” I offered.

“That’s right,” Stan said, “but in the situation in which I found myself I had no job, no income, no prospect, and things looked bleak. I tried my hand at starting a business, but it was not a roaring success and I soon closed the doors on that.”

“But, as God would have it,” he continued, “all of this came at a point in my life when I was just beginning to pursue a more serious relationship with and commitment to Him and He had something to show me.”

“What was that?” I asked.

“That the important stuff had been taken care of,” Stan replied, “and that God would take care of the rest.”

“What important stuff?”

“Salvation and redemption,” Stan said, “resulting in the assurance of life eternally with God when my time here is done.”

“And that took care of your problems?”

“The one that matters the most,” Stan said. “The problem of overcoming the world and all that the world was seeking to throw at me.”

“How could that be?” I asked.

“God says so,” Stan replied.  “Both Jesus and the apostle John address this.  First of all, Jesus said that I am to take courage, which means to not be afraid, for He has overcome the world. He also said that I was to seek first the kingdom of God and the other stuff would be added. I did seek first His kingdom and claimed His promise that He would provide what I needed.”

“And what did the apostle John have to say about this sort of overcoming?” I asked.

“He wrote in his first letter,” Stan replied, “that if I’m born of God I have overcome the world and that my victory in that overcoming is my faith.”

“Victory in faith,” I commented. “That’s very reassuring.”

“It is,” Stan replied, “and there’s great confidence and assurance for me to know that whatever happens, I’m going to be okay.  More than okay!  I’m not going to be overcome by the world.”

“Since you’re sitting here telling me about it,” I responded with a smile, “it looks like you succeeded in overcoming.”

“I did,” he replied, “but not on my own.” “It was through faith in God and in all He provides for  victory over what may seem like too much to overcome.”

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Bible verses to consider:

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.  John 16:33.

For whoever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is victory that has overcome the world—our faith.  1 John 5:4.

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

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for sending your only begotten Son to overcome the world. Thank you for those who brought me to the truth so that I could be born again through accepting all that Christ accomplished through His life, death, and resurrection. Thank you for the victory in faith that results from my surrendering to all you have for me in overcoming all that the world seeks to throw at me, trying to drag me down.  I confess that there are too many times when I do not claim your victory as fully as you intend.  Please forgive that foolishness.   And please help me in following every step of your lead to claim your victory over the world in every aspect of my being.  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 provision for overcoming the world in the sense that you know you will spend eternity in His presence? If no, why? Do you not know His free and gracious gift of life eternally with Him is available simply to be accepted? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing in relying solely on Him for all you need in overcoming whatever the world may try to throw at you? If you sense the need for change in how you rely on God in your life, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

May 11, 2022 — Nothing to be Ashamed About

“The other day,” Stan commented, “I was again looking at the apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome and I was reminded that something he wrote in a single verse in the very first chapter is the reflection of how I came to faith.”

“A single verse?” I said. “What’s it say?”

“Paul wrote that he was not ashamed of the gospel,” Stan replied.

“So?”

“Because the people God brought into my life were not ashamed of the gospel and were not ashamed of sharing their faith with me,” Stan replied, “is why and how I was introduced to the truth of what Christ accomplished by His finished work on the cross.”

“Because they were not ashamed,” I said, “you now have the assurance of salvation and redemption, is that it?”

“The assurance of life eternally with God when it’s time,” Stan replied, “along with the opportunity to pursue the eternal life of knowing Him and Jesus before then.” 

“If those people,” he continued, “had been ashamed of the gospel and ashamed of sharing their faith, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I wouldn’t be on the way to where I know I’m going when my time here is done.”

“So,” I said, “do you think there are people out there who will never know the truth because someone was or is ashamed to tell them?”

“I do,” Stan replied, “and it makes me wonder about them. There’s nothing to be ashamed about.”

“Well,” I replied, “if there’s nothing to be ashamed about, why would some Christians act like there is by not sharing the gospel with others?”

“That’s a good question, my friend,” Stan said rather solemnly. “One we could talk about for a long time.”

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Bible verses to consider:

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

Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed in Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32.

Every one therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 10:33-33.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the truth of the gospel. Thank you for the people you brought into my life who were not ashamed of that truth and were not ashamed of sharing it with me so I would know. Because of them I was able to come to the truth and be able to accept your free and gracious provision of life eternally with you when it’s time. I confess that too often I do not share the truth of the gospel with others so they will also know that truth. Help me to never be ashamed of the gospel and never be ashamed to share the truth. Please, Father, help me in following every step of your lead so I do share the truth and I do help others to be free from all that is keeping them from you. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this: Has someone shared the truth of the gospel with you? If so, have you accepted all that God has for you: life eternally with Him and the eternal life of knowing Him and Jesus on this side of eternity? If you have not accepted God’s provision, why? What’s in the way? If you are a Christian, how are doing in sharing the truth with others? Is there something that makes you “ashamed” of the gospel? If so, what it that all about? If you sense the need for change in how you share the truth of the gospel, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

May 12, 2022 — What does he want now?

“You know,” Stan commented one morning while we waited for Ricky to bring our breakfast, “fathers play a huge role in the lives of their children.”

“That’s true,” I replied, “but why do you mention that?”

“I have a neighbor who was talking with me the other day about his dad and the relationship he had with him.”

“Good, bad, or in between?” I asked.

“What he was focusing on was definitely on the less-than-good side,” Stan replied, “but he’s a Christian and doesn’t dwell on the past. He uses what went on before to help him and others in moving forward in Christian maturity.”

“So he wouldn’t mind if you tell me his story?”

“Not at all,” Stan said. “In fact, he encourages it because it’s a part of his personal testimony.”

“In what way?” I asked.

“As my neighbor tells the story,” Stan replied, “early in his married life he called to wish his dad a happy birthday. His mother answered the phone and he spent a few minutes talking with her.  Then he heard his mother say to his dad, ‘It’s your son and he would like to talk with you.’  Apparently not knowing that his voice could be heard, his dad said in a cranky voice something like, ‘What’s he want now?’ His mom said, ‘He would like to wish you a happy birthday’.”

“Wow!” I said, “hearing what his dad said must have hurt his feelings, knowing his dad thought he would only call because he wanted something.”

“That’s what my neighbor said,” Stan replied. “He talked with his dad and wished him a happy birthday, but that the conversation was really strained because of his hurt feelings about what his dad had said.”

“Did he say if he told his dad that he had hurt his feelings?”

“I asked him the same thing,” Stan replied, “and he said that’s not the kind of relationship they had. He said that at that time both he and his dad were not Christians, and that his dad passed away before my neighbor came to faith.”

“So it’s likely that your neighbor’s response as a Christian would be different if both of them were alive today,” I commented. “Is that the point of his testimony about this?”

“It is in a way,” Stan replied, “about what a person can miss by not growing up in a Christian home, but the main point he makes is about his relationship with his heavenly Father.”

“In what way?”

“The difference between the response of his earthly father and that of His heavenly Father who never responds to his prayers with, “What’s he want now?!”

“And,” I responded, “I suppose that your neighbor’s story could be used to emphasize that our prayers are not to to be about what we want, but are to focus on what God wants.”

“Good supposition, my friend,” Stan replied with a smile.

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Bible verses to consider:

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart. Colossians 3:21.

And it came about that while He was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1.

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

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done.” Luke 22:41-42.

Prayer:  Thank you that you are my loving heavenly Father and that you do not get tired of hearing from me.  Please lead me in my prayers so I pray only in accordance with your will, seeking to know you in an ever-deepening personal relationship. You know the limits of earthly fathers and how too often they do not respond to their children the way you intend. I lift each earthly father to you and ask that you would draw them to you and open them to want to know you and all you have for them so that they will call on you as their heavenly Father. Please open them to see, understand, receive, and embrace all you have for them in their roles as fathers.  Thank you I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this: Have you accepted God as your heavenly Father so you know you will spend eternity in His presence when your time here is completed? If no, why? What is in the way? How is (or was) your relationship with your earthly father? If you are a father, how often do you look to your heavily Father for help in being the earthy father He intends for you to be? If you sense the need for change, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

May 13, 2022 — Exhausted?

As I sat down across from Stan, he said, “You look like a mess. You okay?”

“I’m feeling really exhausted,” I replied. “I’ve been putting in very long hours at work trying to get a project finished.”

“Just about done?” he asked.

“I am,” I replied. “Then I’m going to take a few days off and get some rest.”

“Good,” Stan said. “You have to take care of yourself. Physical and mental work will inevitably lead to exhaustion without adequate rest. But did you know that the same is not true with spiritual work for God?”

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

“Depends on whose strength is involved,” Stan responded. “If I’m trying to do anything in my own strength and don’t get adequate rest, I’m going to get exhausted because I only have so much strength to exert.”

“Burned out,” I commented.

“That’s it,” Stan replied. “But if I’m relying on God’s strength, rather than on my own, for what’s to be done, my experience has been that the harder I work the more of His energy and strength I am given.”

“So,” I said, “spiritual exhaustion is not possible if I am relying on the right source of strength. Is that what you’re saying?”

“That’s what it seems to me,” Stan replied. “If I get worn out doing work for God, I had better look to see who is trying to accomplish what.  Is it me, rather than God?”

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Bible verses to consider:

Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light. Matthew 11:38-30.

If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38.

But he (Samson) did not know that the Lord had departed from Him. Judges 16:20.

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the strength you have available to renew me for all you have for me to be and to do for you. I confess that too often I rely on my own strength (not yours) in seeking to to do what you have for me to do. The inevitable result is exhaustion that is not from you. Please forgive the foolishness of that approach to being and doing what you have for me. And please help me follow every step of your lead in relying only on your strength and what you have for me, rather than on anyone or anything else. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you “come unto” Jesus in the sense of accepting His finished work on the cross so you have the assurance of salvation and redemption? If no, why? If you are a Christian and seek to do work for God, do you always seek His strength, rather than relying on your own? Do you believe that God will supply all of the strength you need to accomplish what He has for you to accomplish, and that if you feel exhausted from doing work for God you are not relying on His strength? Why or why not? Are any changes needed in who and what you rely on? If so, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

May 16, 2022 — That’s What Friends Do

“It happened again last night,” Stan said with a smile.

“What happened again?” I asked.

“My wife and I were at the Good Fortune Chinese Restaurant and I got a fortune cookie that spoke volumes about my faith walk.”

“Volumes on a tiny piece of paper? I said.

“That’s right,” Stan replied. “And sometimes I wonder if there isn’t someone in the back room writing them just for me!”

“What’d this one say?”

Stan pulled it out of his pocket and read, ‘A friend will come through at just the right time’.”

“You have a friend like that?” I asked.

“I’ve talked about her before,” Stan replied, “but there was a true friend who was very instrumental in helping me come to the truth of the availability of God’s free and gracious gift of life with Him for eternity when my time here is completed.”

Continuing, he added, “And that led to me pursuing the eternal life of knowing God the Father and Jesus in an ever-deepening personal relationship while I remain on this side of eternity.”

“And you think it was at just the right time?” I asked.

“It took me a long time to finally accept the truth,” Stan replied, “but I finally did and it was just the right time. God knew it was the right time for me, and my friend was there willing to be a part of what God wanted at that right time.”

“So,” I said, “she was a friend who was there at the right time!”

“That’s what friends do,” Stan replied. “And it makes me wonder about myself. Am I there at the right time?”

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Bible verses to consider:

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13.

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24.

You are My friends, if you do what I command you. John 15:14

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the people you brought into my life to be friends who cared enough to bring me to the truth of the gospel so I have the assurance of life eternally with you and can pursue the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus. I confess that too often I am not the friend you intend because I do not manifest you to others in the way you have for me. Please forgive me and please help me in following every step of your lead in being the friend of and to others just as you intend. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Do you consider yourself a friend of Jesus? If no, why? If you do, what does that mean to you? Are there friends in your life with whom you have not shared the truth of the gospel? If so, why? What will it take for you to be the friend that will make a difference in the eternal destination and in the lives of your friends? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

May 17, 2022 — It’s Called a “Faith Walk” for a Reason

“Have you ever had the sense that God wanted you to do something or to go somewhere,” I said to Stan one morning, “and you had no idea why?”

“You might as well ask me if I’ve ever taken a breath,” Stan replied with a smile.

“So that’s a ‘yes’?”

“It is,” Stan said, “and it seems to me that when God does that, and I respond in obedience even though I’m not sure what I’m obeying, that’s the heart of faith.”

“Heart of faith,” I repeated. “Isn’t the whole idea of faith a really big subject?”

“It is,” Stan replied,”and it isn’t.”

“How can it be both?”

“In the first place,” Stan said, “it seems to me that the subject of faith is actually quite small and kind of simple; either you have it or you don’t. But, on the other hand, a lot of people spend a lot of time thinking and talking about what does and what does not constitute faith. For them it’s a really big subject.”

“For me,” he continued, “I like simple, not unlike the man who started out being named Abram, and ended up being called Abraham.”

“How so?” I asked.

“God called him out from where he was to go elsewhere, do something different, and Abram obeyed. He didn’t argue with God about it, as I know some people would, but he simply obeyed.”

“He stepped out in faith?”

“That’s right,” Stan replied. “He took one step in obedience and kept on walking in a fabulous and famous faith walk that is an example to all who want to have their own faith walk in obedience to God.”

“Obey God and step out in faith when He says something,” I commented. “Is that it?”

“That’s it, my friend,” Stan replied. “It’s called a ‘faith walk’ for a very good reason!”

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Bible verses to consider:

So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him. Genesis 12:4

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8.

No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. Genesis 17:5.

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you have places for me to go and things for me to do for you and for your purposes. Thank you for telling and showing me what it is you want me to do. I confess that too often I do not respond in obedience to your word and your voice. As you know all too well, that is what I do because I want to do what I want to do apart from you. Please forgive me. And please, Father, help me to faithfully follow every step of your lead so I am always where and doing what you intend. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you come to faith and know you will spend eternity in God’s presence when your time here is completed? If no, why? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing in your faith walk on this side of eternity? Are you faithfully following every step of God’s lead so you are where He wants, doing what He wants? If you sense the need for change in your faithfulness, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

May 18, 2022 — Dead Man Talking

“You remember the story of the two brothers, Cain and Abel?” Stan asked me one morning.

“A little,” I replied. “Weren’t they the first two sons Adam and Eve had after God kicked them out of the Garden of Eden?”

“That’s right,” Stan said. “Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. Cain ended up killing Abel because both he and his brother made a sacrifice to God and God rejected Cain’s sacrifice while He accepted Abel’s.”

“Yeah” I replied, “he killed his brother in a jealous rage. But why do you bring that up?”

“Legacy,” Stan said. “I was reading the letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament about Cane and Abel and I saw something that made me want to pursue having a legacy.”

“Killing someone in a jealous rage is quite a legacy,” I replied. “You sure you want that?”

“No,” Stan said, “it’s not Cain’s legacy; it’s Abel’s.”

I was quiet, so he continued. “The letter to the Hebrews, at the end of a single verse, sets forth something about me and my faith walk that I want.”

‘What’s that?”

“It says of Abel,” Stan replied, “in regard to his righteousness, that though he is dead he still speaks.”

“Still speaks even though he’s dead,” I repeated. “Though he’s long dead, he’s still an example of a righteous person. Is that it?”

“Exactly,” Stan replied. “And I want to have a legacy so that when it’s time for me to step into God’s eternal presence because my time here is done, I will have lived a life that someone might point to and say, ‘Though he’s dead, he still speaks!”

“A life that made and continues to make a difference. Is that it?”

“That’s right,” Stan replied, “A difference for God and His kingdom.”

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Bible verses to consider:

By faith, Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. Hebrews 11:4.

For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should teach them to their children. That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children. Psalm 78:5-6.

For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. 2 Timothy 1:5.

Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth, the generation of the upright will be blessed. Psalm 112:2.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the legacy of faith you have encouraged, strengthened, and built in others, a legacy that has impacted me and my faith walk. I ask that you will work in and through me by the truth of your word and your voice to build a legacy of faith and righteousness in me that will impact those to come after my time here is finished. Please, Father, build in me a legacy you can use for your purposes in the lives of others. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Everyone leaves a legacy when their time here is completed. What is your legacy going to be? Does it include spending eternity in God’s presence because you accepted all He offered? If no, why? If you have the sense some changes may be appropriate in building a legacy that will help others to build their own legacy that is pleasing to God, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?