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November 22, 2022 — If you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask

“I saw something in Mark’s gospel the other day,” Stan commented one morning, “that showed me that I really don’t want to be like the early disciples in at least one respect.”

“Wow!” I replied. “In what way do you not want to be like the early disciples?”

“There’s a statement in the ninth chapter of Mark’s account,” Stan said, “that indicates the disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying, but they were afraid to ask Him.”

“Oh,” I responded. “They didn’t understand, but they were afraid to ask any questions to get a better idea of what Jesus was saying. That’s kind of like sitting in a class, not having a clue as to what the teacher is saying, but being afraid to ask for fear of exposing your ignorance.”

“Been there, done that,” Stan replied with a smile. “But I don’t want to do that with God. And I think He doesn’t want me to do it either. If I don’t understand something I read in His word or something I hear from the voice of the Holy Spirit, I am to ask for clarification.”

“You think you’ll get that?” I asked.

“I do,” he replied. “I know that I will never know or understand God fully on this side of eternity, but that’s no reason for me not to make the effort to know and to understand as fully as possible.”

In fact,” he continued, “it seems to me that’s what may be at the heart of why Jesus said eternal life is knowing Him and His Father.”

“That’s it’s not just about life eternally with the Father when our time here is done,” I replied. “Is that it?”

“That’s it,” Stan said. “I think God wants us to know Him as well and as deeply as we can while we remain on this side of eternity, and if we don’t understand, we are to not be afraid to ask.”

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Bible verses to consider:

But they did not understand this statement, and were afraid to ask Him. Mark 9:32.

But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they might not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement. Luke 9:45.

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 written word and for the indwelling Holy Spirit to help me know and to understand what you have for me. I confess that too often I don’t seek clarification when I do not understand something I have read or heard. Please forgive the foolishness of not wanting to know you and Jesus as deeply as possible. Please help me follow every step of your lead into the deepest possible relationship with you based on a continual pursuit of knowing and understanding. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Do you know God in the eternal sense that you have accepted His free and gracious provision of life with Him forever when it’s time? If no, why? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing in pursuing the deepest possible knowledge and understanding of Him? Have you ever been afraid to ask God about something you didn’t understand in His word or from His voice? If so, what was that all about? If you sense the need for change in how you approach God with your questions, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

November 23, 2022 — Thinking about Thanksgiving — Returning to the Source

“Earlier this morning,” Stan commented, “I was reading in Luke’s gospel and I was struck by how often I’m like one of the nine lepers.”

“Like one of the nine lepers?” I replied. “Why? Aren’t you feeling well?”

“Oh, I’m fine,” Stan replied with a laugh. “At least I’m fine from the physical health standpoint. But too often I’m not so fine from the thanksgiving side of things.”

“The thanksgiving side of things? How so?”

“Quick recap of what was going on according to Luke’s gospel,” Stan said. “Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. Ten lepers in a particular village asked Jesus to heal them. Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests. As they were going to do that, they all were healed.”

“Healed just by obeying Jesus?”

“That’s what it says,” Stan replied. “But that’s not the important part.”

“What is?” I asked.

“Of the ten lepers who were healed,” Stan replied, “only one came back to thank Jesus.”

“Really?” I said. “Only one of the ten bothered to thank Jesus?”

“That’s it,” Stan replied. “And way too often I’m just like those nine guys.”

“In what way are you just like them?”

I’m so happy with the blessings that God pours out on me, I focus on the blessings rather than going and thanking the source of those blessings.”

“Oh,” I replied. “I see what you mean. Don’t just go on my way enjoying the blessings, but go back and express my thanksgiving to the source of everything for which I have to be thankful.”

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Bible verses to consider:

And it came about while He was on the way to Jerusalem, that He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten leprous men, who stood at a distance; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” And when He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And it came about as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine — where are they? Luke 17:11-17.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for all you have given to me: life eternally with you when it’s time, along with the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus on this side of eternity. You bless me in so many ways, but too often I don’t thank you the way I should. Instead of focusing on you as the source of all of my blessings, I focus on the blessings. Please forgive that foolishness. And please, Father, help me follow every step of your lead so I am truly thankful and express my thanksgiving for all you provide. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Are you able to thank God for His provision of life eternally with Him when it’s time because you have accepted His free and gracious provision? If you cannot thank Him for that, why have you not accepted what He offers? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how about your thanksgiving for all you have on both sides of eternity? Is God the focus of your thanksgiving for all you have, or do you tend to focus more on the blessings themselves? If you sense the need for change in how you view and express your thanksgiving, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

November 24, 2022 — Don’t go away; Draw near

“I was reading in Mark’s gospel last night,” Stan commented, “and I saw a simple statement that reminded me of something that very nearly happened to me.”

“What simple statement was that?” I asked.

“At the very end of a particular verse,” Stan replied, “Mark wrote about some people who left Jesus and went away. And the same thing almost happened to me.”

“What same thing?”

“Soon after I came to faith,” Stan replied, “and I started pursuing being a disciple, not just a convert, the cost of discipleship became clear and I almost concluded that the cost was too high.”

Continuing, he added, “I was almost to the same point as the people Mark was writing about. I was on the verge of leaving Jesus and going away.”

“Why?”

“I was finding the basic steps of discipleship to be more than I could handle,” Stan said. “I just couldn’t get to the points of consistently denying myself, taking up what God had for me to take up, and, or course, I could not follow. Rather than deny myself, I wanted to exalt myself. And rather than take up what God had for me to take up, I wanted to do what I wanted to do apart from Him. Then, of course, was the part about not following.”

“And you were ready to walk away?” I asked.

“Hate to admit it,” Stan replied, “but I was. The cost of discipleship just seemed to be too high. But I’m eternally grateful that I didn’t walk away and leave.”

“And why didn’t you?” I asked.

“It was a verse in James’ letter,” Stan replied, “The one about drawing near to God and having Him draw near to me.”

“How’d that work?” I asked.

“After reading the verse in James’ letter,” Stan replied, “I prayed and told God exactly what I was feeling about the cost of discipleship being too high, that I was having trouble and that I needed His help.”

“Then what?”

“I had the most amazing sense of peace,” Stan said, “as it was made clear to me that the role of the Holy Spirit is to help. That’s why He’s in us!”

“And did He help?” I asked.

“He certainly did,” Stan replied. “He showed me how foolish it would be to walk away from God rather than to continually seek to draw nearer to Him. Discipleship’s not that tough; it just takes some choices that, on our own, may seem hard.”

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Bible verses to consider:

And so they left Him, and went away. Mark 12:12.

And hearing this, they marveled, and leaving Him, they went away. Matthew 22:22.

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

For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Luke 14:28.

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 your provision of Jesus as the way to you for eternity. Thank you, too, for the provision of discipleship on this side of eternity while I wait for the train. I confess that too often I do not deny myself, I do not take up what you have for me to take up, and I do not follow as you intend. Rather, it’s like I leave and walk away from you. Please forgive that foolishness. Help me to follow every step of your lead in being a disciple who denies, takes up, and follows wherever, however, and whenever just as you want. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you chosen to accept God’s provision of life with Him eternally? If no, why would you not accept His free and gracious gift? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, are you pursuing discipleship in a way that does not look like you have left Jesus and gone away? If you sense the need for change in your view of pursuing discipleship beyond conversion, how is that going to happen and what does it look like to you? Is discipleship what you want? Is it worth the cost? Why or why not?

November 25, 2022 — Easily Distracted?

“I was reading in Luke’s gospel the other night,” Stan commented one morning, “and I saw a simple statement about Jesus that strikes me as something really important about my faith walk.”

“Don’t you think everything about Jesus is important for your faith walk?” I asked.

“You’re right, of course,” Stan replied, “but what I was looking at narrows it down to keep me focused.”

“Keep you focused?” I said. “What were you looking at?”

“When Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to go to the cross and eventually to return to heaven,” Stan replied, “Luke records that Jesus ‘resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem’. That’s what His Father had for Him to do. And I think I’m to do the same thing.”

“Set your face to go to Jerusalem?” I asked.

“If that’s where God wants me to go,” Stan replied with a smile, “But it’s really that I’m to be focused on wherever God has for me to go, as well as focused on whatever He has for me to do when I get there. I am to be focused so I am not distracted from what God has for me.”

“Not distracted?” I said. “In what way might you be distracted?”

“Plural,” Stan replied. “Ways. There are virtually an unlimited number of ways I can be distracted from doing what God has for me to do, as well as being distracted from being what He has for me to be.”

“It seems to me,” he continued, “that’s one of Satan’s primary goals in dealing with Christians. He wants to distract us from living the lives God intends. He knows he can’t do anything about our eternal destination to be with God forever once we have made a true commitment, but he sure can cause havoc with a Christian’s personal testimony on this side of eternity. I’ve had a lot of experience with being easily distracted like that and I don’t recommend it!”

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Bible verses to consider:

And it came about, when the days were approaching for His ascension, that He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem. Luke 9:51.

Let your eyes look directly ahead, and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn you foot from evil. Proverbs 4:25-27.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for giving Jesus as the way to you for eternity. Thank you for His obedience in going to the cross to finish what you sent Him to do. Thank you that He was resolute in doing what you had for Him to do. I confess that too often I am not resolute in being and doing what you intend for me. Please forgive the foolishness of trying to live this life without being obedient. Please help me in not being so easily distracted. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Jesus was obedient in going to the cross so you could accept His finished work and know you will spend eternity in God’s presence when it’s time. Have you accepted what He did? If no, why? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with your obedience to what God has for you to be and to do? Are you easily distracted from what He wants for you? If you would like to be more resolute and less distracted, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

November 26, 2022 — Refilling the Coffee Cup — Week of November 21, 2022

Stan’s main takeaway for each day this past week.

The full version of each posting can be found at www.waiting4thetrain.com

Note: Please forward this to friends, family, etc. as a way to introduce them to Stan,  S. Tory Teller, and the conversations about faith, discipleship, and what it means to be a Christian.

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Monday, November 21 (Taken by the hand) — Jesus took a boy by the hand and he got up. That’s a picture of what’s intended for all of us.

Tuesday, November 22 (If you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask) — There were times when the early disciples didn’t understand what Jesus said but they were afraid to ask. That’s not to be a model for us.

Wednesday, November 23 (Thinking about thanksgiving — Returning to the source) — Ten lepers were healed, but only one thanked Jesus. Am I like the nine or the one?

Thursday, November 24 (Don’t go away — draw near) — Some of the early disciples stopped following Jesus when the cost of discipleship got too high. How about us?

Friday, November 25 (Easily distracted?) — Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem to finish what His Father had sent Him to do. He was not distracted. Are we?