Blog

September 8, 2022 — Healed to be a Disciple

“As a person reads through the Bible,” Stan commented one morning while we waited for Ricky to bring our breakfast, “there are a lot of stories about how Jesus healed various people.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “that seems to have been a big part of what Jesus did before He went to the cross to heal for eternal purposes everyone who believes.”

“You’re right,” Stan said, “and there’s one particular story of healing that is an important lesson for my faith walk.”

“Which one is that?” I asked.

“It’s when Jesus went to Peter’s house and found that Peter’s mother-in-law was sick in bed,” Stan said.

“So Peter was married,” I commented.

“Seems so,” Stan replied. “Unless there’s something I don’t understand, I think that’s how a person gets a mother-in law! But that’s not the important part of the story.”

“What is the important part?” I asked.

“It’s what she did after Jesus healed her,” Stan said.

“After He healed her? What’d she do?”

“She got up and began to wait on Jesus,” Stan replied. “And it’s supposed to be the same for me, you, and for everyone else.”

“In what way?”

“When I became a Christian by accepting the finished work of Christ on the cross, I was healed of my eternal separation from God. Because I accepted God’s free and gracious provision of life with Him in eternity when it is time, I was moved to get up, wait on Jesus, and to serve God while He keeps me on this side of eternity.”

“That sounds kind of like discipleship,” I commented.

“How so?” Stan asked.

“Well,” I replied, “the getting up to serve is like denying the self-centered notion of just wanting to serve myself. And then there’s the taking-up part, where serving God is doing what He has for me to take up. And, of course, there’s the third step of following Him after I have denied self and taken up what there is for me to take up.”

“Sounds about right,” Stan said. “As well, I think that’s what God intends for each person who is a part of His church. Once we have been healed from our eternal separation from God, we are to get up and serve Him as disciples.”

___________________________________________

Bible verses to consider:

And when Jesus had come to Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever.  And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and began to wait on Him. Matthew 8:14-15.

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. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:23-24.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for healing me of my separation from you when I accepted your free and gracious provision of the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross.  Thank you for healing me so that I have the opportunity to get up and serve you. I confess that there are too many times when I do not choose to serve you while you leave me on this side of eternity. Please forgive the foolishness of not serving you with the life you have given me to live. Please help me in following every step of your lead so I do, in fact, serve you as a disciple however, wherever, and whenever 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 accepted God’s free and gracious healing for eternal purposes so you know you will spend eternity with Him when it is time? If no, why don’t you want to be healed in that way? If you are a Christian who has been healed of your eternal separation from God, how are you doing with serving Him on this side of eternity? As well as you would like? As well as He would like? If you sense the need for change in how you serve God as a disciple, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

September 7, 2022 — Paying Attention to what Matters

“Last Sunday at the church service,” Stan commented one morning, “a friend of mine was sitting in the row right in front of me. During the pastor’s sermon, he kept nodding off. At one point, when he leaned over into his wife she jabbed him awake.”

“That must have been kind of distracting for you,” I commented.

“It was,” Stan replied, “and I was thankful it lasted only briefly because the pastor’s message was really good and I didn’t want to miss any of it.”

“After the service,” he continued, “I asked my friend if he was feeling ok, and when he asked me why I was asking, I told him I saw that he was nodding off.”

“What’d he say?”

“He said he was fine, just tired because he stayed up late the night before watching something on television.”

“Probably not a real good excuse,” I commented, “but I guess that’s up to him.”

“It is,” Stan replied. “We all have the choice about to what and where we give our attention. In this instance, it was a choice between the pastor’s message and a television program. And I recall,” he continued, “the apostle Peter wrote something about this in one of his letters.”

“Obviously not about television,” I said, “so what did Peter write?”

“About paying attention to the word as a light shining in a dark place so that our hearts are filled with that light.”

“Paying attention to the word,” I repeated, “as contrasted to paying attention to something other than the word? Is that it?”

“That’s it,” Stan said. “Each one of us has the choice about what we focus on. God doesn’t force us to focus on Him and His word, but it sure can make a difference if that’s what we choose!”

“Seems to me,” I replied, “that paying attention like that could sure fit into the three steps of discipleship that we often talk about.”

“In what way?” Stan asked.

“Well,” I said, “the denying self part could be that I am to deny giving attention to that which takes me away from what God wants.”

“Good,” Stan replied. “And the next steps?”

“The taking up what God has for me to take up would be giving attention to what He wants, and, of course, the third step of following Him is the step of following Him wherever, however, and whenever He wants. And the ‘whenever’ is always.”

“Sounds like you got it, my friend,” Stan replied with a smile.

______________________________________

Bible verses to consider:

And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19.

Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105.

The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. Proverbs 4:18.

Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:78-79.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for those you brought into my life to bring me to the truth that I am to pay attention to your provision of life eternally with you when my time here is completed. Thank you, too, for all you have for me to give attention to while you keep me on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I do not pay attention to you as you want and deserve. Please forgive that foolish approach to living this life you have given to me. And Please help me follow every step of your lead so I do, in fact, give you all of the attention you want and deserve. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you given attention to and accepted God’s free and gracious provision of life eternally with Him when it’s time? If no, why? Do you not realize it is the only thing to which you can give attention that really matters? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with paying attention to God on this side of eternity? If you sense the need for change in what gets your attention, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

September 6, 2022 — Wondering about Malchus and me

“You remember the story in the Bible about the fellow named Malchus,” Stan asked me one morning while we waited from breakfast.

“Malchus?” I said. “Yeah, I think so, but fill me in.”

“He was in the Garden of Gethsemane the night Jesus was betrayed,” Stan replied. “He worked for the chief priest who was there with a bunch of other people to arrest and seize Jesus.”

“When Jesus was on His way to the cross,” I commented.

“That’s right,” Stan replied. “And this Malchus fellow got in the way of the apostle Peter’s sword when Peter tried to protect Jesus from being seized.”

“Got in the way of his sword? In what way?”

“Peter cut off his right ear.”

“Wow!” I said, “that must have hurt.”

“I can only imagine,” Stan replied, “but what Jesus did about it raises a question in my mind.”

“What did Jesus do, and what’s the question?”

“Well,” Stan replied, “the first thing Jesus did was to tell Peter to put his sword away. Then Jesus touched Malchus and healed his ear, which brings me to wondering what Malchus did in response to what Jesus did. And it’s the same question about me.”

“What same question?”

“About being healed by Jesus’ touch,” Stan said. “With Malchus I can’t help but think he must have become a believer when he saw what Jesus did by merely touching him. How could he not? And then I think about all that Jesus has done for me and how too often I don’t respond in the way I should to the way Jesus touches my life.”

“Oh,” I replied, “I see what you mean. It’s hard to imagine that this Malchus guy didn’t become a believer and a disciple, but maybe not, considering how we don’t respond to all that Jesus has done and continues to do in our lives.”

“Exactly,” Stan replied. “Just look at how long it took me to accept His finished work on the cross so I have the assurance of spending eternity in God’s presence when it’s time. Also look at how often I don’t acknowledge with praise and thanksgiving all He does in my life while He keeps me on this side of eternity.”

“So,” I said, “you think maybe Malchus just went home and continued on with his life even though Jesus had healed him with His touch?”

“I don’t know,” Stan replied, “but I do know that if it had been me in the garden, there’s a good chance I could have just ignored Jesus’ healing touch. However, I’m eternally thankful that the present-day me didn’t do that so I have the assurance of salvation along with the gift of being able to grow ever closer to Jesus and God the Father as a disciple on this side of eternity.”

________________________________

Bible verses to consider:

And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Matthew 26:51.

Simon Peter therefore having a sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. John 18:10.

And a certain one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him. Luke 22:50-51.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you healed me for all of eternity through your free and gracious provision of the finished work of Jesus’ cross. Thank you, too, for healing me of my separation from you on this side of eternity by your provision of being allowed to know you and Jesus ever more deeply while you keep me here. I confess that too often I do not seek or accept your healing touch. Please forgive that foolishness. And please help me follow every step of your lead so I do, in fact, claim and embrace all of the healing you have for me. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you accepted God’s healing touch in the sense you know you will spend eternity in His presence when it is time? If no, why? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with claiming and embracing all of the healing God has for you on this side of eternity? If you sense the need to be more aware of and accepting of God’s healing touch in your life, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

September 5, 2022 — God Causes the Growth

“As I mentioned the other day,” Stan commented one morning, “one of my neighbors is quite a gardener.  [Note: See the posting for September 1, 2022, “Weeds will Choke out Produce.”] She has a big vegetable garden in the back of her house. The other day she gave me a box of the most amazing tomatoes out of her garden.  Big and red, with the most wonderful flavor.”

“Does she have some particular secret to growing them?”

“I asked her that,” Stan replied. “She said she uses some vegetable food she buys at the Big Box Wholesale Club.  It has ‘Miracle’ somewhere in its name.”

“Wow,” I said, “miracle in a box from the Big Box!”

“Yeah,” Stan replied, “she puts on the plant food, gives the plants the water, and God provides the sunlight they need for growth.”

“Last night,” he continued, “as I was enjoying a BLT sandwich with one of her tomatoes on it, I was thinking about my neighbor and what she said about growing the tomatoes. The apostle Paul came to mind.”

“The apostle Paul?” I said. “You kidding? What does he have to do with growing tomatoes?”

“Well,” Stan said, “Paul wasn’t writing about tomatoes, but he did write about water and growth.”

“In what way?”

“What Paul was writing about in his first letter to the church in Corinth has to do with spiritual growth.  It seems that he was addressing a question about who does what regarding spiritual growth and who is to be given the credit.”

“Who does what, and who gets the credit,” I repeated. “How so?”

“Paul was writing about spiritual seeds that he had planted in the Corinthian church.,” Stan said. “He acknowledged that the seeds he had planted were watered by another person named Apollos whose watering furthered the spiritual growth, but that it was God who was to be given full credit for the actual spiritual growth.”

“Oh, I see,” I replied. “Paul planted some spiritual seeds, Apollos came along and watered those seeds, but neither Paul nor Apollos was to claim any credit because it was God who caused the growth. Is that it?”

“That’s it,” Stan said, “and it’s to be the same today. We are all to plant seeds for spiritual growth by sharing the truth of the gospel, and we are all to water those seeds as the opportunity arises, regardless of who planted the seeds, in order to help with spiritual growth. And we are never to be concerned about who gets credit for such growth, knowing that it is God who causes the growth.”

“Plant and water,” I said, “and then watch as God causes the growth, being thankful for being allowed to be a part of what He’s doing.”

“I think you got it, my friend,” Stan replied with a smile.

____________________________________

Bible versus to consider:

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 1 Corinthians 15:10.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for those you brought into my life who planted the seeds of the truth of the gospel. Thank you, too, for those who watered those seeds so I eventually accepted your free and gracious provision of life with you eternally when it is time. Thank you for those who continue to water so I grow in an ever-increasing knowledge of you. I confess that too often I do not plant seeds for you and I do not water seeds that have been planted by me or by others. Please forgive me for that, and please help me follow every step of your lead in planting and watering exactly as you intend, always giving all credit to you for whatever growth you cause in another person. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Planting and watering. What do those things look like to you? Have people planted and watered the truth for you so you now know you will spend eternity in God’s presence when it’s time? If you do not yet have the assurance of salvation and redemption, what is standing in the way? If you are a Christian, how are you doing with planting and watering so others will also have the assurance of salvation and redemption? If you sense the need for change, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

September 3, 2022 — Refilling the Coffee Cup (Week of August 29, 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: Feel free to 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.

_________________________________

Monday, August 29 (Are you holding up both signs?) — John 3:16 and John 17:3 go hand-in-hand. What does that mean for our lives here?

Tuesday, August 30 (Caution: faith can be fragile; handle with care) — We are to be careful to not destroy another person’s faith by emphasizing what is unimportant in the big picture.

Wednesday, August 31 (Don’t get bored with repetition) — God repeats Himself to us because we don’t listen and/or we forget what He wants us to know. Don’t get bored with the repetition.

Thursday, September 1 (Weeds will choke out produce) — In a garden, weeds will choke out what we want to grow. Weeds in our lives will choke out what God wants to produce. Get rid of those weeds!

Friday, September 2  (Can’t or won’t?) — When we don’t do what God asks, is it because we can’t do it or because we choose not to do it? A lesson from the rich young ruler.

September 2, 2022 — Can’t or Won’t?

One morning while we waited for Ricky to bring our breakfast, Stan asked, “You ever think how often people say that they can’t do such and such, when what they are really saying is that they won’t do it?”

“Can’t versus won’t,” I replied. “Yeah, I’ve seen that a lot, especially when I look in the mirror!”

“I know all too well what you mean,” Stan said. “Many times I have been just like the fellow in Matthew’s gospel referred to as ‘the rich young ruler,’ except I’m not rich, young, or a ruler!”

“If you’re not rich, young, or a ruler,” I replied, “in what ways are you like him?”

“Let’s do a quick re-cap,” Stan said. “You probably remember the story, but there was this rich young man who asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life.  When Jesus gave him a list of things, the young man said, in essence, ‘Been there, done that’.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “and then Jesus told him there was one thing that he needed to do.”

“That’s right,” Stan replied, “Jesus told him that he needed to sell all that he had, distribute it to the poor, and follow Jesus.”

“It’s like Jesus was telling him what he needed to do to be a disciple and to have a personal relationship with Him.”

“Right again,” Stan said, “and when the young man heard what Jesus said, he became sad because he was very rich. He left and, as far as I know, he was never heard from again.”

“So,” I said, “the young man missed eternal life and all that it means because he couldn’t do what Jesus said.”

“This is what we mentioned earlier,” Stan replied, “it wasn’t so much that he couldn’t, but that he wouldn’t. The young man didn’t have so much stuff that Jesus couldn’t have helped him divest his assets if that is what the young man had chosen.”

“It seems to me,” I commented, “that maybe it was that the young man was more interested in keeping what he had, rather than getting what Jesus offered.”

“Just like a lot of us,” Stan replied. “Jesus tells us what to do to be a disciple, but we are too quick to say that we can’t do that, that He’s asking too much of us, when the fact is that we are choosing not to do what He says in denying self, taking up what He has for us to take up, and following Him.”

“Following Him,” I said, “wherever, however, and whenever, which is always.”

“Not always easy,” Stan commented, “but look at the alternative of missing out on all that is available by changing the ‘can’t’ to ‘can’ and the ‘won’t’ to ‘will.’”

______________________________

Bible verses to consider:

The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property. Matthew 19:20-22.

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. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” Luke 9:23-25.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your provision of life eternally with you when my time here is completed. Thank you for those who brought me to the truth so I could accept your free and gracious provision. Thank you, too, for the truth of discipleship that is to occur while you leave me on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I do not do what you require for being a disciple, in that 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. Please forgive the foolishness of not being a disciple wherever, however, and whenever you have for me. Please help me in following every step of your lead just as you intend. Thank you that 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? Consider what it keeping you from that and ask yourself if it is worth being separated from God for eternity.  If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with being a disciple? If you sense the need to truly deny yourself, truly take up what God has for you to take up, and truly follow wherever, however, and whenever, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

September 1, 2022 — Weeds will Choke out Produce

“One of my neighbors,” Stan commented one morning, “is quite a gardener. Her house has an extra large lot and she has a big garden in the backyard.”

“What’s she grow?”

“Some flowers,” Stan replied, “but mainly vegetables that she shares with the neighbors.”

“Well,” I said, “she must be a very loving person.”

“She certainly is,” Stan agreed, “but she also has some hate in her.”

“Hate? What kind of hate?”

“She hates weeds,” Stan said with a smile. “Weeds in her garden and weeds in her life.”

Continuing, he added, “She hates weeds with a passion because she knows that the weeds in her garden are going to impact what she’s growing. They rob moisture and the nutrients that are in the soil. Unless she gets rid of them, they are going to do their damage. Same with the weeds in her spiritual life.”

“Weeds in her spiritual life?” I replied. “What kind of weeds?”

“Well,” Stan said, “I don’t know the specifics of the ‘weeds’ in her spiritual life, but I sure do know mine, and I know that if I don’t have the same attitude and take the same approach that she does, those weeds are going to do their damage.”

“How so?”

“If I’m not diligent in looking for the weeds,” Stan replied, “and if I don’t dig them out by their roots, they will spread and choke out what is supposed to be growing in my life.”

“Oh,” I said, “it’s like the weeds will choke out the vegetables your neighbor is trying to grow in her garden, and the weeds in your life will choke out what God wants to grow in your life. Is that it?”

“That’s it,” Stan replied. “My life, your life, everyone’s life. When God granted us the assurance of spending eternity in His presence by accepting the finished work of the cross, He gave us His Holy Spirit to live in us to grow His fruit. We are to be diligent in not allowing any weeds to choke out what He wants to produce!”

_______________________________________

Bible verses to consider:

Lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, that you may be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.  Ephesians 4:22-24.

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be with you. John 14:16-17.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your provision of life with you eternally through the finished work of Jesus’ cross. Thank you, too, for the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus while you keep me here. Thank you that knowing you and your will helps me keep the weeds of the world, the flesh, and the devil out of my life. I confess that too often I do not pay enough attention to those weeds and I allow them to choke out what you have put in. Please forgive the foolishness of allowing those weeds in this life you have given to me. And please help me in following every step of your lead so only your fruit is produced in my life, not anything that will choke out what you have for me. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Where are you in relation to “weeds” in your life. Have you gotten rid of those eternal weeds so you know you will spend eternity in God’s presence? If you do not have the assurance of salvation and redemption, what’s in the way of accepting God’s free and gracious provision of that? If you are a Christian, how are you doing with keeping the weeds of the world, the flesh, and the devil out of your life? If you sense the need for change in how the fruit of the Spirit is manifested in and through you, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

August 31, 2022 — Don’t get Bored with Repetition

“You ever hear the expression, ‘measure twice, cut once’,” Stan asked me out of the blue one morning while we waited for breakfast.

“Sure,” I replied. “Make certain I’m cutting at the right place before I cut and find out I didn’t measure right. Why do you ask? You forget to do that?”

“You got that right,” Stan said. “Yesterday I went by Fred’s Frame Shop and picked up some photos I had Fred frame for me. They were from a trip we took last year and I wanted to hang them in the den.”

“How’d it go?” I asked.

“It was great,” Stan replied, “if you happen to like pictures hanging next to each other at different heights, and if you like the frustration of doing a job over that could have been done right in the first place!”

“Oh,” I replied, “You forgot to measure twice before putting the picture hooks into the wall.”

“Sure did,” Stan said. “I thought I knew all I needed to know about how to hang the pictures and that measuring once would take care of it. But it didn’t. I had to repeat the process until I got it right, until I understood that repetition can be a good thing, not only for hanging pictures correctly, but also in gaining a better understanding for my faith walk.”

“Your faith walk!” I replied. “What does hanging pictures have to do with your faith walk?”

“It’s the repetition of the basics,” Stan said. “The apostle Paul wrote about that and I think it’s essential for my understanding of what God has for me to be and to do while He leaves me here before I step into eternity.”

“Paul wrote about repetition?” I asked. “What’d he have to say?”

“That repeating himself was no trouble to him,” Stan said, “and that such repetition would be a safeguard to his readers.”

“A safeguard,” I repeated. “I can certainly relate to that. Not only do I tend to forget things God has said to me about my faith walk, too often I don’t even listen in the first place.”

“So,” Stan affirmed, “repetition is a good thing, whether I’m talking about measuring more than once to make sure I get the pictures hung properly the first time, or whether I’m talking about having God repeat the same thing more than once to make sure I got it right! I am to not get bored with repetition!”

_________________________________

Bible verses to consider:

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and is a safeguard for you.  Philippians 3:1.

And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder. 2 Peter 1:13.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you sent people to repeat to me the truth of your free and gracious provision of life with you eternally when it’s time. That repetition was necessary for me to understand and accept what you had for me. Thank you, too, for repeating the same things to me while you keep me on this side of eternity. You know and I know how I need to hear the same thing from you because I do not pay attention and do not remember.  Your repetition is welcome!  Please repeat yourself to me as often as you know is necessary.  And please open me to hear, listen, and embrace in obedience all you have for me.  Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this: Have you accepted the truth of the gospel so you know you will spend eternity in God’s presence when it’s time? If no, why? How many times does it need to be presented before you accept it? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, do you find that God has to repeat Himself to you several times before you obey or understand what He is saying? If yes, why is that? What value do you see in the repetition of the basic truths of Christianity? If you sense the need to respond more quickly so God doesn’t have to repeat Himself, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

August 30, 2022 — Caution: Faith can be Fragile; Handle with Care

“I took the dog for a walk in the neighborhood the other day,” Stan began, “and I stopped to talk with a neighbor who was out in his front yard examining how some bugs were destroying his roses.”

“Oh,” I responded, “I hate that when something destroys something else like that.”

“The apostle Paul wrote about that,” Stan said.

“Bugs and roses?” I asked. “That would surprise me.”

“No,” Stan replied, “he was not writing about  bugs and roses, but he was addressing the issue of Christian destruction.”

“Christian destruction? What’s that mean?”

“In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome,” Stan replied, “he was addressing the issue of conscience and not letting unimportant things get in the way of what’s important.”

Continuing, he added, “Paul was specifically addressing the matter of believers getting along with fellow believers about matters of conscience.”

“Such as what?”

“What they eat, what days they worship, and, basically, everything they do with their faith,” Stan replied. “It seems to me that the bottom-line Paul was addressing was about not judging another person.  Leave that in God’s very capable hands.”

“But what does that have to do with destruction?”

“Paul described it very graphically,” Stan said, “by writing that the readers were and are not to destroy those for whom Christ died on the cross.”

“Christ died for all,” I replied, “don’t destroy any. That is powerful!”

“Exactly,” Stan said, “and that’s what my neighbor was talking about after he lamented about his roses being destroyed by the bugs.”

“How so?”

“He said that when he was a new Christian, someone in the church just about destroyed his faith by telling him something about what he was eating and drinking that he later found out was way off base. He said that what he was told made him feel like he wasn’t a ‘real’ Christian and maybe he should just forget about it.”

“But you said it didn’t destroy his faith,” I said. “What happened?”

“He went to the pastor of the church and told him what was going on,” Stan replied. “Fortunately, the pastor knew the truth that Paul was writing about and was able to reassure my neighbor so his faith was not destroyed. Not only was it not destroyed, he said that what happened made a lasting impact on him in his relationship with other believers.”

“In what way?”

“By always keeping in focus that Christ died for all, and that if anything he did would keep another person from that reality, he was off base. And I think it’s the same for me and for each one of us.”

I didn’t respond, so Stan continued. “I am to focus on the one essential, that Christ was crucified for all, and I am never to destroy another person’s opportunity for life eternally with God when it’s time, and I am to never do anything that will keep another person from drawing ever closer to God on this side of eternity by anything I say or do.”

“So,” I said, “ we are to focus on what’s important, which is Christ was crucified for all, and leave the rest to God. Is that it?”

“That’s it,” Stan replied. “God does not want any to perish, and He certainly doesn’t want me or anyone else to do anything to get in the way of what He wants!”

________________________________

Bible verses to consider:

Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.  Romans 14:15.

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. 1 Peter 3:18.

But we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24.

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. Romans 10:9.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for giving Jesus so that all who believe can have life with you eternally when their time here is completed. Thank you that it is belief for the opportunity to know you and Jesus in an ever-deepening relationship on this side of eternity, a relationship that is build on the foundational truth that Christ died once for all, including me. You make it clear that I am to focus only on the importance of the truth, and not let the things that are unimportant get in the way.  Please help me in never causing any destruction in another person’s life or eternal destination by focusing on what is not important in the big picture.  Help me to keep myself out of your way so you can do all you want in and through me for your eternal purposes.  Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this: Have you accepted the fundamental truth of God’s free and gracious provision of life with Him eternally when it is time? If no, why? What’s is holding you back? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing in only focusing on the important things and not getting sidetracked with what is not important in the big picture? Especially how are you doing in not putting anything in the way of another person’s belief and faith? If you sense the need for any change in what you focus on for yourself, as well as for others, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

August 29, 2022 — Are You Holding up Both Signs?

“You ever watch any sporting events on television,” Stan asked me one morning, “when there is some person in the seats with a sign that says ‘John 3:16’?”

“John 3:16,” I replied. “The verse that’s at the heart of the gospel. Eternal life for all who believe. Yeah, I’ve seen those signs but I have to admit I’ve wondered about if such a sign has any impact on anyone coming to faith.”

“I’ve wondered the same thing,” Stan said, “but that’s another subject for another day. What I want us to focus on today is why don’t we ever see a sign that says, “John 17:3.”

“John 17:3?” I replied. “Why would anyone hold up a sign that says that? What does John 17:3 have to say?”

“It’s a verse that I think goes hand-in-hand with John 3:16,” Stan said. “In fact, I once heard a pastor say that he couldn’t preach John 3:16 without also preaching John 17:3.”

Again I said, “What does it say?”

“It’s where Jesus stated that eternal life is knowing Him and His Father,” Stan replied.

“Knowing them?” I said. “I thought eternal life was about what happens when my time here is done and I step into eternity.”

“I like to think of that part of eternal life, the part covered by John 3:16,” Stan replied, “as more focused on life eternally with God when my time here is completed.”

“Life eternally with God,” I said, “as contrasted to the eternal life of knowing Him and Jesus. If that’s true, where is the knowing part supposed to take place?”

“Here,” Stan replied. “Here, while I’m still on this side of eternity working out the salvation that grants me life eternally with God when it’s time. It’s the time for being a disciple here on earth.”

“Oh,” I said, “I get it. That’s why a pastor would say he couldn’t preach John 3:16 without also preaching John 17:3. They go hand-in-hand. We are supposed to do something with the salvation we have been given, and that ‘something’ is to know Jesus and God the Father.”

“That’s it,” Stan replied. “At least that’s what it seems to me. And the whole purpose of knowing Jesus and His Father is intended so I will know what it is I am to do in being a disciple while I remain here.”

“In being a disciple,” I repeated. “Like in denying self, taking up what God has for you to take up each day, and following Him. Is that it?”

“Bingo and amen, my friend,” Stan replied with a smile. “Hold up both signs!”

________________________________

Bible verses to consider:

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

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

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 provision of life eternally with you when my time here is done because I have accepted your free and gracious provision of the cross of Christ. Thank you, too, for the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus ever more deeply while you keep me on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I do not make the effort to know you and Jesus by working out the salvation you have worked in through the finished work of the cross. Please forgive that foolish approach to living the life you have given to me. And please, Father, help me to follow every step of your lead in knowing you and Jesus exactly as you intend. Thank you that 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 forever when your time here is completed? If no, why? What’s in the way? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with the eternal life of knowing Jesus and the Father in an ever-deepening relationship on this side of eternity? As well as you would like? As well as God would like? If you sense the need for change in your relationship with Jesus and the Father, how is that change going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?