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520. The Light At The Crossing

“Did you notice the new crosswalk down the street on Main by Hoover?” Stan began.

“I haven’t been by there lately,” I responded.

“Well,” Stan replied, “they put in a new crosswalk and a light to help pedestrians get across the street safely.”

Continuing, he said, “I was standing there the other day waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street.  I was reminded of what the apostle John wrote in his first letter.”

“And before you ask,” Stan said with a smile,  “he was not writing about crosswalks and pedestrian lights!”

“What did he write?” I asked.

“John wrote about walking in the same manner as Jesus walked,” Stan replied.  “And I think it is important to remember, as one person put it, that Jesus was what God looked like walking around on two legs!”

“And doesn’t it say somewhere,”  I asked. “that Jesus said He is the light of the world?”

“You’re right, my friend,” Stan replied.  Jesus is recorded as saying that in John’s gospel.”

“So,” I asked, “if Jesus is the light of the world, and we are to walk in the same manner He walked if we say we belong to Him, would it be kind of fair to say that Jesus is in charge of the light that tells me when and how to walk?”

“I do think that’s a fair way to put it,” Stan replied.  “Walk as He says to walk.  Don’t walk when He says not to walk!”

Concluding, he said, “When the light says, ‘Do not walk’, I am to wait.  I am not to go on across the street however I want.  I am to wait until the Light says to walk.  Then I am to walk in the same way He did, following the lead of the Holy Spirit.”

“Lots of signs pointing to ‘Walk’ and “Do Not Walk’!”

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The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.  1 John 2:6.

Again therefore Jesus spoke to them saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  John 8:12.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you provide all of the directions I need in order to walk with you as you intend as long as you keep me on this side of eternity.  I confess that too often I choose to not walk in accordance with your directions, but I choose to walk on my own apart from you.  Please forgive me.  And please help me in following your lead so that I walk only in the way you intend, when you intend.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:

1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

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Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

521. Going To Your Jerusalem?

“When Jesus was walking the earth,” Stan began, “He was very focused on being who and in doing what God the Father intended in fulfilling why He was sent into the world.”

“Why was He sent?” I asked.  “What was He sent to do?”

“Die,” was Stan’s one-word response.  “He came to die in my place to pay the price to reconcile me to God.  Not only me, but you, my friend, and all who believe.”

“And Jesus was determined to do that?” I asked.

“He was,” Stan replied.  “It is recorded that He ‘set His face’ to go to Jerusalem.  To me, this  means that He was determined to go where God had for Him to go, and Jerusalem was the place.”

Continuing, Stan said, “Jesus knew all that awaited Him in Jerusalem.  The pain, the suffering, the rejection, and the death, but He still went.  He did that because that is what God the Father had for Him to do.  Oh, I pray that I would have that same sort of commitment to be who and to do what God has for me.”

“You don’t have that commitment?” I asked.

“Not as much as I would like,” Stan replied.  “Some days and hours the answer is ‘Yes’, but too often the answer is ‘Maybe’ or ‘No’.  But I know for a fact that my commitment to what God has for me is a whole lot less than God would prefer.”

“If you don’t have the sort of commitment you say you would like, why don’t you?” I asked.  “Why not just be committed?”

“It’s called ‘self’,” Stan replied.  “It comes from my preferring me over God.  It comes from saying one thing and doing another.  It comes from being a human living on this side of eternity.  It comes from refusing to continuously move along the path from conversion to transformation.”

Concluding, he said, “The bottom line is that it is all about choice.  It comes from my failure to choose to be fully surrendered to the leading of the Holy Spirit for His help in being determined to go to my Jerusalem, whatever and wherever it is.”

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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.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you have for me places to go and things to do for you.  Thank you for wanting me to be involved in what you are doing.  I confess that too often I prefer doing what I want to do, going where I want to go, rather than what you have for me.  Please forgive me.  And please help me in following your lead in going only where and in only doing what you intend in every aspect of my life on this side of eternity.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Things to think (and journal) about:

  1. What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.    What does what you read say about God and about us as His people?

3.    What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.    Who can you share this with to make a difference?

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Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

522. The Futility Of It All

“I was reading in the apostle Peter’s first letter this morning,” Stan began, “and I was struck by his exact description of me at one point in my life.”

“Peter described you in a letter that was written a long time ago?” I responded.  “Long before you were born?”

“Sure did,” Stan replied.

Continuing, he said, “Peter was pointing out to the readers of the letter, including me, what he described as their ‘futile’ way of life they had inherited from their forefathers.”

“Before I became a Christian,” Stan said, “I was certainly living a ‘futile’ type of life because I did not have a heritage of faith.”

“Futile in what way?” I asked.

“Well,” Stan replied, “I went to the dictionary to see the precise meaning of ‘futile’, and I was struck by its apt description of my pre-Christian life.  ‘Useless, vain, hopeless, incapable of succeeding,’ that sort of thing.”

“Wow,” I responded, “that’s pretty harsh!”

“Truth often is,” Stan replied.

“Peter’s use of that word,” Stan continued, “was perfect in describing me before I came to the truth of redemption, conversion, and transformation that was and is available through Christ’s finished work on the cross.”

“Without the acceptance of God’s free gifts of all He has for me in eternity with Him, as well as on this side of eternity in being able to know Him ever more deeply in a personal relationship, all that I sought to accomplish apart from Him was certainly futile.”

“Did you know it was futile?” I asked.

“Not at the time,” Stan replied.  “Only in retrospect, only as I was faced with the truth of God’s provision through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, could I see the futility of my life.  Only then could I see that all of the efforts on my own served no purpose that aligned with what God had for me.”

“I was blind, but I was given sight to see the utter futility, along with the only solution for overcoming it.”

“You mentioned a second thing,” I replied, “something about a lack of a heritage of faith.  What was that about?”

“That, my friend,” Stan said, “is another subject for another day.”

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. . . knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers . . . . 1 Peter 1:18.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for bringing me out of the futility of life without you.  Thank you for drawing me near to you and opening me to the truth of life eternally with you when it is time, along with the eternal life that is available on this side of eternity, the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus.  I confess that too often I tend to pursue things that are futile, rather than pursuing only what you have for me.  Please forgive me and please help me in following your lead into the fullness of life, away from futility that results from a life without you.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:

1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

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Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

523. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

“Throughout the Bible,” Stan began, “it’s recorded that Jesus asked a lot of questions.  Some were hard to answer and some were not so difficult.”

Continuing, he said, “I saw one of the easy ones this morning in Luke’s gospel.”

“What was that?” I replied.

“Are you familiar with the story of the good Samaritan?” Stan asked.

“I am,” I responded. “A fellow on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho got beat up and robbed.  A priest and a Levite saw him and passed him by without doing anything.  Then a Samaritan came by, stopped, and helped.  Jesus said it was because the man felt ‘compassion’.”

“Exactly, my friend,” Stan said.  “Jesus’ parable was in response to the question someone had asked Him about loving neighbors.  The person who asked wanted to know who Jesus thought was a ‘neighbor’.”

Continuing, he said, “To point out who Jesus thought is a neighbor, He asked at the end of the parable who had shown mercy to the injured man.  The answer to the question was easy.  It was the one who had stopped and helped.”

“The Good Samaritan,” I replied.

“Yes,” Stan said, “and what Jesus said next is key for me.  He told the one who had answered, ‘Go and do the same’; have compassion on those who need compassion.”

“To me,” Stan concluded, “this means that I am to have my eyes and ears open to be ready at a moment’s notice to stop what I am doing and have compassion on anyone, whether a next-door neighbor or a neighbor on the other side of the street, city, country, or world, anyone who needs compassion.  I am not only to have compassion, but I am to do something with it!”

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“Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”  And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.”  And Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”  Luke 10:36, 37.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the truth of mercy and compassion.  Because of your love, grace, mercy, and compassion I have the assurance of spending eternity with you when it is time, and I thank you.  I also thank you for bringing people into my life to whom you want me to show the mercy and compassion you intend.  Those people may be ones I know, or they may be ones I have never seen before, it doesn’t matter.  You want me to be their neighbor by showing mercy and compassion.  I confess that too often I do not.  Please forgive me.  And please, Father, help me follow your lead in being the neighbor you intend to everyone you intend.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:

1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

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Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

524. Prayers Bouncing Off The Ceiling?

“Stan,” I said, “sometimes I have the sense my prayers are just bouncing off the ceiling and not getting to God.  You ever feel like that?”

“I have,” Stan replied.  “I used to feel that way quite a bit, but not any more.”

“How did you get over that?” I asked.

“Praying with confidence,” Stan replied.

“Same question,” I responded.  “How?  How did you get that confidence?”

“Several ways,” Stan said, “but the first essential step was for me to pay attention to what the apostle John said about this in his first letter.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“That I can have confidence that God hears my prayers,” Stan replied, “when I pray in accordance with God’s will.”

“Okay,” I said.  “But how can I know if I am praying in accordance with God’s will?”

“I think there are at least two ways,” Stan replied.  “The first is for me to give all of my prayers to the Holy Spirit and ask Him if they are in accordance with God’s will.  It’s kind of like having a filter that passes on to God the Father the approved ones and rejects the ones that are not in accordance with God’s will.”

“Secondly,” he continued, “the sure-fire way of knowing if I am praying in accordance with God’s will is whether or not the prayers are being answered.”

“That seems about right,” I replied.  “If God only answers prayers that He hears, and if He hears only those prayers that are in accordance with His will, there is a much better chance of having my prayers answered if I follow the directions.”

“You got that right, my friend,” Stan said.  “Pray in accordance with God’s will.  If I do not pray in accordance with God’s will, my prayers, will indeed, be bouncing off of the ceiling!”

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And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  1 John 5:14.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you allow me to come before you in prayer.  Thank you, too, that you give guidance and instruction as to how to pray.  I confess that too often I come before you with prayers that are in accordance with my will, rather than yours.  Please forgive me.  And please, Father, help me in following your lead in all of my prayers so that I pray only in accordance with your will and can know, with confidence, that you hear my prayers.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:

1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

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Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

525. Just Looking Good Doesn’t Cut It

“I went to that new grocery store on Elm Avenue yesterday,” Stan began.

“Nice?” I asked.

“The store is great,” Stan replied.  “Nice looking.  Workers seem dedicated and knowledgeable.  Produce, however, has a way to go.”

“How so?” I replied.

“I bought some apples,” Stan said.  “Really great looking applies.  Big and red.  Couldn’t wait to bite into one.  But when I did, I was sorely disappointed.  Bitter and tart.  Sweet and delicious was what I was expecting.”

“Did you take the apples back for a refund?” I asked.

“That’s where I am heading after you and I finish here this morning.” Stan responded.

Continuing, he said, “This whole thing reminds me of what the apostle Paul wrote at one point in his second letter to the church in Corinth.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“About people who take pride in appearance, but not in the heart,” Stan replied.  “Those apples looked really great, but they weren’t.  Same with me.  I can look good on the outside, but it’s the heart that matters.”

Continuing, Stan said, “Jesus talked about it to the Pharisees when He pointed out their hypocrisy of looking good on the outside but not being so good on the inside.   Paul wrote about it in the letter I was focusing on earlier this morning.  And the Holy Spirit talks to me about it all of the time.”

Concluding, Stan added, “If the subject gets that much attention, it’s obviously important and I need to pay attention.  The fact is that just looking good doesn’t measure up to what God has in mind for me to be and to do.”

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You will have an answer to those who take pride in appearance and not in heart.  2 Corinthians 5:12.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.  Matthew 23:25.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you want to create in me a clean heart, a heart that reflects you.  I confess that too often I am concerned with what I look like on the outside without giving adequate attention to what’s going on in the inside.  Please forgive me.  And please lead, and help me to follow, in surrendering and abandoning all of me that is contrary to you and what you have for me to be so that I will, indeed, have the heart you intend.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:

1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

_____________________________

Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

526. Did I Do What I Could?

“I was in Mark’s gospel this morning, “Stan began, “and I saw something that Mark records Jesus to have said that I long to hear Him say to me.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Jesus was in Jerusalem, just before He was going to go to the cross to finish what the Father had sent Him to do.  He and the disciples were having dinner at the home of a man called Simon the leper.  I don’t know if he was a friend of Jesus, a disciple, or what, but it doesn’t matter who he was.”

“What matters about him?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s not him,” Stan replied.  “It is the account of a woman who was there.  A woman who poured some expensive perfume on Jesus’ head.  The woman, what she did, and what Jesus said about it, those are the important parts to me.”

Continuing, he said, “When the woman poured the perfume on Jesus’ head, some of the people who saw what she did were indignant, calling it a big waste.  They criticized the woman for being wasteful, saying that the perfume could have been sold to get money to give to the poor.”

“Where did she get the perfume?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Stan replied, “and that’s not important either.

“So what is important about this?” I replied.

“What Jesus said,” Stan responded.  “That is what is really important for me.  As well, what He said is what I want to be able to hear Jesus say to me.”

Continuing, he said, “Jesus took to task those who criticized the woman.  He said she had done a good thing and that she would be remembered forever.”

“What Jesus said about her is what motivates me,” Stan added.  “Jesus said that the woman ‘did what she could’.  “Oh, that He will be able to say the same thing about me!”

“I long for Jesus to be able to say, ‘Stan did what he could’.”

“But,” he concluded, “the only way Jesus will be able to say that is if I do what I can.  And the only way I can do what I can is not to try to do it on my own, but to surrender all of me to all of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead me in everything I do.  Allow Him to lead, and choose to follow that lead.”

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She has done what she could.  Mark 14:8.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your word and the voice of the Holy Spirit that set forth how you want me to live on this side of eternity before I get on the train to spend eternity with you.  As with the woman who did what she could in her relationship with Jesus, I pray that you will be able to say the same thing about me, that I did what I could.  I confess that too often I only do what I want to do apart from you, rather that doing all for you.  Please forgive me.  And please help me in following every step of your lead wherever you want to take me for your purposes so that I will do what I can.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:

1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

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Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

A Note From S.Tory Teller

News has been received that a dear friend boarded the train.  Word is that she arrived safely and was greeted by Dick and many who had gone before.  She is resting comfortably in the arms of her Lord and Savior.  Please remember Carol’s family and friends as they grieve and adjust to life without her on this side of eternity.

527. Remembering Who And Whose You Are

Ricky brought our breakfasts.  Stan looked down at his plate of blueberry pancakes, looked at Ricky, and said, “I think you forgot something.  I need some of that maple syrup.”

“Sorry, Stan,” Ricky replied.  “Sometimes I think I would forget my head if God had not attached it so well!  I’ll be right back.”  And he was.

After thanking God for His blessings of the food, Stan said, “Forgetting can be a real problem.  And, unfortunately, it can go way beyond the ordinary things of life.”

Continuing, he said, “I am constantly forgetting who I am.  Not only that, I forget whose I am.”

“Who and whose?” I replied.  “Do you really forget who you are?  And what do you mean by ‘whose’?”

“I do forget,” Stan said.  “Not in the sense of forgetting that I am Stan, but certainly in the sense that I am in Christ.  As to the ‘whose’ part, I am constantly forgetting that I belong to God.  I no longer belong to Stan or to the world, the flesh, and the devil.  I belong to God and I have to remember that!”

“No,” he continued, “once I accepted the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross, I became a new creation in Him and gave up the right to belong to anyone or to anything other than Him.”

“Through His life, death, and resurrection?” I asked.

“Exactly,” Stan replied.

Continuing, he said, “The whole issue of forgetting who and whose I am is mentioned by James in his letter in the Bible.  What he wrote about the reason for that is essential to me for my continuing faith walk with God.”

“What did he say about that?” I asked.

“That the reason I forget,” Stan replied, “is because I do not do what I hear in God’s word what He wants me to do.  If I hear from God’s word and His voice that there is something He wants me to do in the furtherance of His word, and I do not follow up by doing it, I have forgotten who I am, a new creation in Christ, and whose I am, His.”

“The remedy for this kind of forgetting is fairly simple,” Stan concluded.  “I just have to choose to be who God intends, doing what He intend.  And I need to never forget that it is a choice that doesn’t just happen all by itself.”

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For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.  James 1:23, 24.

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

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.  1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for all you have provided for me on both sides of eternity.  Life eternally with you when it is time, as well as the eternal life of knowing you and your Son on this side of eternity.  Thank you for your word and your voice that tell me what it is you have for me to be and to do in furtherance of your kingdom.  I confess that too often I do not hear your voice because I do not listen.  And I too often fail to do what I do hear from you because I want to do what I want to do apart from you.  Please forgive me.  And please, Father, help me in following your lead in being who and doing what you intend for me.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:

1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

_____________________________

Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

528. It’s Your Turn To Do Something

“In the early part of John’s gospel,” Stan began, “there’s the account of a Jewish leader named Nicodemus who went to visit Jesus one night.”

“Why did he go in the night, rather than during the day?” I asked.

“Not sure,” Stan replied.  “Maybe he was busy during the day.  Maybe he didn’t want to be seen talking with Jesus.  I don’t know for certain.  But the main point is that he went to see Jesus.”

“Why did he do that?” I asked.

“It says,” Stan replied, “that he went to tell Jesus that ‘we’, and it doesn’t say who ‘we’ included, that ‘we’ know that He came from God as a teacher.”

“Does it say how Nicodemus knew that?” I responded.

“It does,” Stan said.  “Because of all the things Jesus did.  Nicodemus said that because of what Jesus did, he knew that Jesus came from God.”

“How did Jesus respond to that?” I asked.

“Jesus told Nicodemus,” Stan said, “that it was time for Nicodemus to do something.  In essence, Jesus said, ‘Okay, you have seen me do things, now it’s your turn to do something’.”

“What did Jesus expect Nicodemus to do?” I asked.

“Be born again,” Stan responded.  “Jesus told Nicodemus that he could not see the kingdom of God unless he was born again.”

Continuing, he said, “Same with me.  God made it real clear to me by saying, ‘Stan, you want to see the kingdom of God?  Here is what you have to do, be born again’.”

“Did Jesus tell him how to do that?” I asked.

“He did.” Stan replied.”It’s a big subject, big enough to last a lifetime, but the point is that it has to start with accepting the free gift of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, as well as being filled with the Holy Spirit.  That is the re-birth.  That is being born again.”

“That’s the beginning,” Stan concluded, “that gives the assurance of spending eternity with God when it is time to step into eternity.  And it’s the beginning of seeing and entering into the kingdom of God on this side of eternity, the process of going from conversion to transformation.”

“Big subject to be taken one bite at a time.  One step at a time down the path towards spiritual maturity.  But it begins with the first step of taking the turn of doing the essential something of being born again.”

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

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your provision of a new birth through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Thank you, too, that you sent the Holy Spirit to live in me as part of the rebirth that came from my acceptance of your free gift of salvation.  Thank you that I have the assurance of spending eternity with you when it is time.  Thank you, too, that through the re-birth, I can see your kingdom on this side of eternity as I walk the path towards transformation that started with my re-birth.  I confess that too often I do not continue walking that path because I choose to walk elsewhere, apart from you.  Please forgive me.  And please, Father, help me in following your lead so that I will see all of your kingdom that you have for me to see.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Things to think (and journal) about:  What does being born again look like to you in the sense of what does it mean to you for the time you have remaining on this side of eternity?

Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.