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September 2, 2021 — Salvation and Discipleship go Hand-in-Hand

“It seems to me,” I said to Stan one morning, “that you spend a lot of time doing things for God. Good things. That must make you feel really good.”

‘Yes and no,” he replied.

“How can it be both?” I asked.

“Depends on perspective and motivation, and I prefer to follow what Jesus said as set out in Luke’s gospel concerning service to and for God.”

What’s that?”

“In essence,” Stan responded, “Jesus said that I am not to rejoice in successful service, but, rather, I am to rejoice in the fact that I am rightly related to Him.”

“In some ways,” I said, “that sounds a lot like a combination of salvation and discipleship.”

“A combination of the two,” Stan replied. “Interesting. Tell me what you’re thinking.”

“Well,” I said, “the part about not rejoicing in successful service sounds a lot like not trying to work my way into God’s favor and into heaven by what I do.”

“Okay,” Stan replied, “we both know that’s not possible.  Salvation and redemption have to be accepted by faith, not earned by anything we do.  However, I think it’s important to add that I do think that God wants and encourages my service to Him, but not from the standpoint of thinking I can earn my salvation by anything I do. How about the discipleship part in what you’re thinking?”

“As we’ve talked about,” I said, “Jesus was very specific about the three steps of discipleship.  Seems to me that the first step of denying self will get me out of the way so I don’t rejoice in anything I may do on my own.”

“And what about the second step?” Stan asked.

“The part about taking up my cross, or taking up what God has for me to take up, that would be doing for God what He has for me to do, not doing what I want to do on my own apart from Him. So, again, the only thing to rejoice about is being rightly related to God in that I’m doing what He has for me to do.”

“I’ll fill in the blank for the third step of following Jesus whenever, wherever, and however He wants to lead,” Stan said. “It seems to me like that step can only happen with a person who is rightly related to God.”

“Rightly related through acceptance by faith of God’s free and gracious gift of salvation and redemption,” I responded. “Is that what you’re saying?”

“That’s it,” Stan said. “And once a person has the assurance of salvation and redemption, the second part of the combination, that of discipleship, is supposed to follow hand-in-hand.”

“Is that why Jesus said to go and make disciples, not go and make converts?” I asked.

“Good question!” Stan replied. “What do you think?”

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Bible verses to consider:

Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall harm you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven. Luke 10:19-20.

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 until the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20.

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.

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, 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. Philippians 2:12-13.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your free and gracious gift of salvation and redemption that can be accepted by faith. Thank you for those who brought me to that truth so I can rejoice in the  assurance of spending eternity in your presence when it’s time. Thank you, too, that you have things for me to do on this side of eternity while I wait for the train, things that flow out of my relationship with you, a relationship that you allow to grow ever-deeper—to grow before I go! Please help me in following every step of your lead into all you have for me to be and to do. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Discipleship is to follow salvation. Do you agree with that? Why or why not? Do you have the assurance of spending eternity in God’s presence because you have accepted His free and gracious gift? If no, why? If you have the assurance of salvation for when your time here is completed, how are you doing with the discipleship part? As well as you would like? As well as God would like? If you sense there’s something missing in your role as a disciple, what can be done about that? Is that something you would like to have happen in your life during the time you have remaining here? Why or why not?

September 1, 2021 — Is Longing Enough?

“I was reminded of a lesson for my faith walk last night,” Stan said, “when I went to the freezer to get some ice cream.”

“How could that be?” I asked. “What about ice cream could have any impact on your faith walk?”

“There wasn’t any,” Stan replied.

“Wasn’t any what?”

“Ice cream. It was all gone. And that’s where the reminder began.”

“How so?” I asked.

“The more I thought about ice cream,” Stan replied, “the more I longed for it. I just couldn’t get it out of my mind.”

“And then what?”

“I finally got in the car and drove down to George’s Grocery. I bought a carton of vanilla ice cream and some chocolate sauce just in case we were also out of that.”

“And where did the part about your faith walk come in?” I asked.

“Longing for some ice cream didn’t put any ice cream in a bowl,” Stan said. “I had to go and get some.  Same thing with my relationship with God.  I could spend my entire life longing to know that I will spend eternity with Him when my time here is done, but until I did something with that longing, that’s all that it was, longing.”

“You changed that longing into reality by accepting God’s free and gracious provision of life eternally with Him, is that the point?”

“Exactly,” Stan replied. “As well, I can sit around all day longing to have a deeper relationship with God, but longing is not going to get it done. I have to do something with that longing.”

“Oh, I see,” I responded. “It’s kind of like what the apostle James wrote in his letter about drawing near to God. If I choose to draw near to God, He will respond and draw near to me.”

“That’s it,” Stan said. “I could spend my entire life longing for a deeper relationship with God, but until I choose to put feet to that longing, until I choose to draw near to Him, not much is going to happen with that longing. Longing without more is not enough!”

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Bible verses to consider:

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

The Lord is  with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. 2 Chronicles 15:2.

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. Matthew 7:7-8.

Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; how blessed are those who long for Him. Isaiah 30:18.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the truth that you draw near to me when I choose to draw near to you. I confess that too often I say that I long to have a deeper relationship with you without doing anything about that longing. Please help me in following every step of your lead into the deepest possible relationship with you. Please help me to move beyond longing to satisfying that longing. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you gone beyond longing to know you will spend eternity in God’s presence by having accepted by faith His free and gracious provision? If no, why? Do you not realize that merely longing for life eternally in His presence is not going to get it done? If you have the assurance of salvation, how are you doing on this side of eternity? Do you long for a deeper relationship with God? If no, why? If you do long for a deeper relationship, what are you doing  to satisfy that longing? If you sense some changes are in order, how are those changes going to happen?

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The book: Waiting for the Train — Biblical food for growing before going. For information, see http://www.s-toryteller.com

August 31, 2021 — Where’s your Faith?

“I was reading in Luke’s gospel earlier this morning,” Stan commented, “and I saw where Jesus asked one simple question that has a whole boatload of application for my faith walk.”

“What was going on?” I asked.

“A little background,” Stan replied.  “Jesus and His disciples were in a boat going from one side of a lake or sea to the other. Jesus was tired and fell asleep. A storm arose that began to swamp the boat. The disciples woke Jesus up and told Him they were perishing. Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves, everything calmed down, and then came the question that Jesus asked.  He asked the disciples and He asks me the same question on a regular basis.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Where’s your faith?”

“Where’s your faith?” I repeated. “What do you mean?”

“Jesus asked His disciples that question, implying, it seems to me, that how could they possibly think that God the Father was going to allow them and Jesus to perish before Jesus  had completed what His Father sent Him to do.”

“And that applies to you in what way?” I asked.

“If I am open to hearing,” Stan replied, “the Holy Spirit is constantly asking me, ‘Where’s your faith?’ Is my faith in God or is it in me? Is it in God or is in the world? Do I come to God in faith for everything or just with the things I think I can’t handle myself?”

“Tough questions,” I commented.

“Indeed,” Stan replied. “Tough questions that are aimed so that I may always have the same answer.”

“What same answer?”

“That my faith is in God for all things,” Stan said. “Big things, little things, in-between things, all things regardless of whether or not I think I can handle them on my own. I am to give them to God with unwavering faith that He knows how to handle them a whole lot better than I do on my own apart from Him.”

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Bible verses to consider:

And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” Luke 8:25.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1.

And Jesus said to him, “if You can! All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and began saying, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:23-24.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you want my faith to be in you and in you alone for all things, the big and the little. I confess that too often I think I’m capable of handling certain things on my own, or by relying on someone or something other than you. Please forgive that foolishness, and please help me in following every step of your lead so I truly trust in you for everything. Help me to be able to answer your question, “Where is your faith?” by saying, “It is in you and you alone!” Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you by faith accepted God’s free and gracious gift of salvation and redemption so you have the assurance of spending eternity with Him when it’s time? If no, why? If you do have the assurance of salvation by faith, how are you doing with your faith on this side of eternity? Do you bring everything before God in faith? Or are there certain things you don’t “bother” God about, thinking you can handle them on your own? If you sense there may be a need to change your response when God asks, “Where is your faith?” how is that change going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

August 30, 2021 — Is once a day enough?

“One of my neighbors was over last night,” Stan commented on morning, “and we were reminiscing about some of the things we thought and did as young people that really missed the mark for our adult Christian lives.”

“Anything in particular?” I asked.

“Good deeds,” Stan replied. “My neighbor said he was taught that he should do one good deed a day. He would focus on doing one good deed, get it done, and then go on with his day, doing whatever he wanted.”

“Get it done and out of the way,” I commented. “Kind of missed the idea, don’t you think?”

“Not unlike me at one point in my life,” Stan said, “and, I suppose, not unlike a lot of people seeking to be disciples.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Well,” he replied, “you remember what Jesus said about being a disciple, about denying self, taking up what I am to take up, and following Him.”

“I do,” I said. “What about it?”

“In Luke’s gospel account,” Stan replied, “he records that Jesus said I am to take up my cross ‘daily,’ and I don’t think that means once a day. I think it means all day, every day. It took me some time to get to the point of recognizing, understanding, and pursuing the notion that it’s to be a lifestyle of discipleship.”

“A lifestyle of discipleship,” I repeated. “Not just take up what I am to take up once each day, mark it off the list, and then go on with what I want to do on my own.  Is that it?”

“That’s it, my friend,” Stan replied. “And remember, it all begins with the first step of denying self, getting me out of the way, so the next two steps of taking up and following can and will occur. And, I believe, all three steps are to be ‘daily’ in the sense that all of me is to be dedicated to being a disciple all of the time. Not just once a day!”

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Bible verses to consider:

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.

And he who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. Matthew 10:38.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your provision of life eternally with you when it’s time through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thank you, too, for the provision of being His disciple on this side of eternity for as long as you keep me here. I confess that too often I do not pursue being His disciple on a daily basis, with a life of denying self, taking up what He has for me to take up, and following Him wherever, whenever, and however He wants to lead. Please help me in every way I need in order to be the disciple you intend, living the life of discipleship, not the life I want apart from being a disciple. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you accepted by faith God’s free and gracious provision of life eternally with Him when your time here is done so that you can pursue being a disciple on this side of eternity? If no, why? What is standing in the way? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption for when your time here is completed, how are you doing with the three steps of being a disciple on a daily (full-time) basis? If you sense some changes may be necessary for your role as a disciple, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

August 27, 2021 — A Ready Person Doesn’t Have To Get Ready

“Growing up on the farm,” Stan began one morning, “my dad was not a harsh person, but he certainly was real adamant about punctuality. He taught me about being ready.”

“In what way?” I asked.

“Well,” Stan replied, “as I’ve told you before, the farm was quite a distance from the nearest town where we would buy groceries, go shopping for other stuff, see movies, go to the doctor, and all of those sorts of things.”

“So if you had a doctor appointment,” I commented, “it would take you a while to get there and you would have to leave in plenty of time.”

“That’s it,” Stan replied. “And when dad said he would be leaving at a certain time, that’s when he left.”

“Whether or not you were ready?” I asked.

“Exactly,” Stan said. “He would get in the car or his pick-up truck and leave, whether or not we were with him.  But only once did he leave without me because I wasn’t ready.  Once was all it took for me to know I needed to be ready the next time!”

Continuing, he added, “My heavenly Father acts a lot the same way.  If I’m not ready, He is apt to leave without me.”

“And He does it for the same reason, to teach me to be ready the next time.”

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

“Good question,” Stan said. “Just to be clear, once I made the decision to accept by faith God’s free and gracious gift of life eternally with Him, God doesn’t leave me in the sense of forsaking me, However, I do think that He certainly will leave me in the sense of going where He’s going, whether or not I’m with Him.”

“You got an example of that?” I asked.

“How about growing in an ever-deepening personal relationship before I step into eternity?” Stan asked.

“In what way?”

“As you will remember,” Stan replied, “Jesus said that eternal life is knowing Him and God the Father.”

“As contrasted to life eternally with God when it’s time,” I commented.

“That’s it,” Stan replied. “Through the Holy Spirit, I will be taken as deep as I am willing to go in a personal relationship with God the Father and Jesus the Son, but an ever-deepening relationship will not be forced on me.  It’s kind of like they, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, will leave me where I am if I’m not ready to go with them.”

“And,” I replied, “if people are not ready to go, they will miss out, and it’s their loss. Is that a fair statement?”

“Definitely a fair statement,” Stan said, “and I can tell you it’s nothing I want to happen.  That’s why I try always to be ready for whatever God has for me, remembering that if I’m ready, I don’t have to get ready!”

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Bible verses to consider:

For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father, the son in whom he delights.  Proverbs 3:12.

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6.

Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5.

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 the free and gracious provision of life with you eternally that I could accept by faith. Thank you, too, for the gift of knowing you and Jesus in an ever-deepening personal relationship on this side of eternity.  I confess that too often I choose not to be ready to go with you into that ever-closer relationship.  I know that my failure to be ready for what you have for me is my loss.  Please help me in following every step of your lead into the deepest possible relationship.  Help me to be ready for 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: Are you ready to step into eternity in the sense that you know you are going to be in God’s eternal presence? If no, why? What is keeping you from being ready for that step?  If you have the assurance of salvation and redemption because you have accepted by faith God’s free and gracious provision, how about on this side of eternity? Are you consistently ready to pursue and ever-deepening personal relationship with God in Christ? If no, what would it take for that to happen? Is that what you would like? Why or why not?

August 26, 2021 — What about the Tough Parts?

“Do you ever find yourself skipping over the parts of the Bible that present challenges?” I asked Stan one morning.

“Challenges in the sense of being hard to understand?” he replied.

“Not so much that,” I said, “but more in the sense of being hard to accept.”

“Oh,” he responded, “like when it says something you really don’t want to do, or think you can’t do it? Is that what you mean?”

“That’s it,” I replied. “What do you do with those verses?”

“Well,” Stan said, “let me give you two different perspectives, one in the past and one in the present.  There were certainly times in the past when my approach to reading the Bible was to skip over or ignore the parts that went against what I wanted to do or thought I was incapable of doing.”

“But you’re not like that now?” I asked.

“To be totally honest,” he said, “there are still times when I am tempted to skip over some tough verses, but I take to heart what the apostle Paul wrote about all scripture being inspired by God and profitable for teaching. If Paul believed and wrote that, it’s good enough for me.  When I come to a tough part, rather than skip over it, I dig deeper. I give it to the leading of the Holy Spirit to help me understand what it is I am to gain from a particularly tough verse or two or more.”

“You got an example?” I asked.

“There’s a lot of examples I could cite,” Stan replied, “but there was one just the other day that really struck me. It caused me to stop and focus on its application to me and my faith walk.”

“What’s that?”

It started in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that he also sent to me, the part about forgiving others just as God in Christ has forgiven me.  The ‘just as’ part is a very high standard. It’s easy for me to accept that I have been forgiven by God, but the question is whether I apply that same standard to me in dealing with others?”

“Tough question,” I commented.

“It is,” Stan replied, “and it becomes eve harder when I look at something Jesus said about forgiveness.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“In Matthew’s gospel,” he replied, “Jesus is recorded as saying that if I forgive others, God the Father will forgive me, but if I don’t, He won’t. This is right after Jesus was instructing His disciples and me about how to pray that I am forgiven as I have forgiven others.”

“Tough indeed,” I said. “I can see why a person might be tempted to skip over those verses.”

“Yeah,” Stan replied, “skip over and miss the lessons of living this life I have been given to live. I can’t accept the forgiveness of the cross without living the forgiveness of the cross. The ‘just as’ is a very high standard, but that’s what it says. Don’t skip over the tough ones. They are there for a reason!”

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Bible verses to consider:

And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12.

For it you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your heavenly Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6:14-15.

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.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the forgiveness of the cross that allows me to look forward to spending eternity in your presence when my time here is completed. Thank you, too, for the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus in an ever-deepening relationship on this side of eternity. Thank you for the truth of all of your word that is set forth in the Bible. I confess that there are too many times when I am tempted to skip over the verses that I find difficult to apply to my walk of faith. Please forgive that foolishness. And please help me in following every step of your lead as you show me all you have for me in your word, as you open me to hear all you have to say to me. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you ever skipped over parts of the Bible that you found too difficult to understand or too difficult to apply to your life? Is so, what was that all about? When you come upon parts of the Bible you are tempted to skip over, which part of “all” in what the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16 don’t you accept? And why is that? When you have difficulty with such verses, what is the best way to gain the understanding and application God has for you? Skipping over them is not the right answer!

August 25, 2021 — It was not the feeding of the twelve

“I was reading in Luke’s gospel earlier this morning,” Stan commented, “about the feeding of the five thousand, and I was struck by the idea that it could easily have been the feeding of the twelve.”

“Feeding of the twelve?” I responded. “What’s that mean?”

“You remember the story,” Stan said, “about where Jesus was going to get away with the twelve apostles, but the multitude followed and were taught by Jesus about the kingdom of God. As well, Jesus healed those who needed healing.”

“I do,” I replied. “When the day was drawing to a close, the crowd was hungry and that’s when the miracle of the feeding occurred.”

“That’s right,” Stan said, “and that’s the part about where it was the feeding of the five thousand, not the feeding of the twelve. This is a lesson for me, my faith walk, and how I deal with God’s provision.”

“How so?” I asked.

“After the apostles had rounded up what food they had, which was only five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus looked to heaven, blessed the food, and gave it to the apostles.  And this is the point. Jesus gave the food to the twelve, not for themselves, but for them to pass along to the five thousand. And it’s to be the same way with me.”

“What same way?” I asked.

“When God blesses me, which is all the time,” Stan replied, “I am to view the blessing as not for me alone, but to pass on to others. I am to be a conduit of God’s blessings, not keep them for myself.”

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

“All kinds,” Stan replied. “Physical blessings, spiritual blessings, whatever God chooses to bless me with. Those blessings are not for me alone. I am to pass them on in accordance with following God’s leading. I think this is especially true with the spiritual blessing of having the assurance of salvation along with the blessing of being allowed to know God in a personal relationship. I am to pass those blessings on to others, not keep them for myself.”

“This whole thing,” I replied, “sounds kind of like it could be described as the discipleship of being a conduit.”

“In what way?” Stan asked.

“Well,” I said, “the part about denying self could be viewed as not wanting to keep the blessings for myself. Then there is the part about taking up what God has for me to take up. That could be viewed as passing on what He has given to me. Both of these would lead to the third step of following Him wherever He wants to lead.”

“Bingo and amen!” Stan replied.

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Bible verses to consider:

And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the multitude. Luke 9:16.

He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.  Matthew 14:19.

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 all of your provision, but especially for your free and gracious provision of life eternally with you when my time here is completed, along with your provision of being able to know you in an ever-deepening personal relationship on this side of eternity.  You bless me with spiritual truth and you bless me with physical provision.  I confess that too often I want to keep, and do keep, your provision for myself rather than being a conduit to pass along your provision to others you bring before me. Please forgive me for that selfishness.  And please, Father, help me to follow every step of your lead in passing on every blessing you pour out on and for me.  Help me to bless 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: Have you accepted by faith God’s free and gracious provision of life eternally with Him when your time here is completed? If no, why? What’s standing in the way? If you do have the assurance of salvation, how are you doing with being a conduit for God’s spiritual and physical blessings to be passed along to others? As well as you would like? As well as God would like? If you sense changes may be in order for you to be the conduit God intends, how is that going to happen?

August 24, 2021 — Is Truth Optional?

“One of my neighbors,” Stan commented one morning, “is quite a character. He often has a different view and can be a real joker about most everything.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“Simple example,” Stan replied. “I was talking with him last night and he said something like he saw in the Bible that Pilate must have been watching 24-hour cable news.”

“Pilate watching 24-hour cable news,” I repeated. “What does that mean?”

“My neighbor was referring to John’s gospel where it says that Pilate said to Jesus, ‘What is truth?’”

“Oh,” I replied, “like not being able to tell what is true and what is not true in what we hear in the news.”

“Exactly,” Stan said. “And, as you know, with so much that goes on in our world, truth is optional. It’s really hard to know who’s telling the truth and who’s not. Sometimes I think it might be better if I quit listening to the so-called news.”

“And do what?” I asked.

“Listen only to the One who said He is the truth,” Stan replied.

“Who’s that?”

“Jesus,” Stan responded. “He said that He is the truth.  And, getting back to Pilate, the Truth was standing right in front of him and he didn’t even recognize Him.”

“Aren’t a lot of people like that?” I asked.

“I know I was,” Stan replied. “For way too long I did not recognize or accept the truth of Jesus. But the blinders finally came off and I was able to see, accept, and embrace the truth of God’s free and gracious provision of life eternally with Him when it’s time, along with the truth of being able to pursue and ever-deepening personal relationship with Him before then.”

“That’s great,” I replied, “but don’t you think it’s important to know what’s going on in the world?”

“Sometimes I wonder,” Stan replied. 

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Bible verses to consider:

Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” John 18:38.

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

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they may not see the lights of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.

Whenever he (the devil) speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for sending the Truth into the world in the form of your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who provides life eternally with you to all who believe. Thank you for those who brought that truth to me so I could accept by faith all of your provision. As you know all too well, with the world, the flesh, and the devil, truth is optional. Please help me in following every step of your lead so I follow only your truth in everything. Help me in presenting the truth to those who do not know so they will know.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you accepted the truth of God’s free and gracious provision of life eternally with Him when your time here is done? If no, why? If you do have the assurance of salvation, how are you doing with pursuing the truth of knowing God in an ever-deepening personal relationship on this side of eternity? Do you believe that with the world truth is optional? If so, how are you to determine what is true and what is not concerning what is going on in the world? Is knowing what is going on important to you? Why or why not?

Waiting for the Train: Biblical Food for Growing Before Going

This is the title of S. Tory Teller’s new book, with a Foreword written by Josh McDowell.

It’s a 100-day devotional focused on helping Christians grow in their faith while they wait for  the train to glory.

When asked what the book is all about, S. Tory Teller replied, “In a word, it’s about discipleship; in two words, it’s about Christian maturity; in a bunch of words, it’s about working out the salvation that has been worked in!”

You, as well as everyone you tell, can find out more about the book by going to the book’s website at http://www.s-toryteller.com. Have a look — and pass it on!

August 23, 2021 — Go and Tell

“I suppose you remember,” Stan commented one morning, “about how we have talked about the importance of the personal testimony.”

“I do,” I replied. “Having a personal testimony is important for each one of us so we can tell others how we came to faith. What we have to say may have an impact on someone else choosing to accept God’s free and gracious gift of salvation, as well as to pursue the eternal life of knowing Jesus and God the Father on this side of eternity.”

“Exactly,” Stan exclaimed. “And this morning I was reading in Luke’s gospel and saw where Jesus made a powerful statement on this subject.”

“Jesus was talking about personal testimonies?” I asked.

“Sure was,” Stan replied. “And it struck me as a real encouragement to tell others about my faith walk.”

“What was going on with Jesus?” I asked.

“He and His disciples had made their way to the country of the Gerasenes, which was opposite Galilee, and encountered a man who had a serious problem with being possessed by many demons.”

“Is that the account where Jesus sent the demons into a herd of swine that then ran off the cliff into the sea and were drowned?”

“Same one,” Stan replied.  “An amazing story of healing that changed everything about the man.”

“And,” I added, “as I remember, the people who owned the swine that drowned were quite upset by what Jesus had done.”

“That’s right,” Stan replied, “but that’s another story for another day.”

Continuing, he said, “What struck me about this story is that the man, once he was healed, asked Jesus if he could go with Him.  Jesus told the man he could not. Instead, Jesus told the man to go home and tell everyone about what had happened. In essence, Jesus told the man to go tell his personal testimony.”

“Tell his personal testimony,” I repeated. “Did the man do that?”

“He did,” Stan replied. “It says that he went throughout the whole city telling what great things Jesus had done.”

“What happened when the people heard what the man had to say?” I asked.

“Luke’s gospel doesn’t say,” Stan replied, “but the parallel account in Mark’s gospel says that ‘everyone marveled’.”

“Everyone marveled,” I said. “How wonderful would that be if everyone marveled when I told them about all the great things God has done for me?”

“Seems to me,” Stan replied, “that’s the point of the personal testimony. People can’t marvel if they don’t hear anything about what God has done! Each one of us is to go and tell.”

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Bible verses to consider:

But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him (Jesus) that he might accompany Him, but He sent him away, saying, “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” And he departed, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:38-39.

And as He (Jesus) was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was entreating Him that he might accompany Him.  And He did not let him, but He said to him, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”  And he went off and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone marveled.  Mark 5:18-20.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for giving me a personal testimony to tell about how you provided and I accepted by faith your free and gracious gift of salvation. I confess that too often I do not tell others what you have done and continue to do for me. Please help me in following every step of your lead in telling others all you have done so that they may marvel and come to have their own personal testimony that they can then pass on to others.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this: Do you have a personal testimony to tell others about what God has done for you? If no, is that because you haven’t accepted by faith His free and gracious provision of salvation? If that’s the reason, what is holding you back? If you do have the assurance of salvation, how are you doing with having and sharing your personal testimony? Remember that believers’ personal testimonies of what God has done in their lives can have a huge impact on those who hear what you have to say. By sharing your personal testimony you may well help others come to have their own personal testimonies.