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445. Any Great Multitudes In Your Life?

“As Jesus was getting more popular,” Stan began, “Luke’s gospel records that Jesus would often get away by Himself to pray to His Father.”

Continuing, he said, “Luke mentions that there were ‘great multitudes’ that gathered to hear what Jesus had to say.  In addition, many of them wanted healing from Jesus.”

“I think it’s likely,” Stan added, “that a lot of them just wanted healing rather than to really hear what Jesus had to say. Kind of like people today who only want what Jesus provides, rather than truly listening to Him.”

“How many is a ‘great multitude’?” I asked.

“I have no idea,” Stan replied, “but there were enough people that Jesus felt the need to get away by Himself to be alone with His Father.  He probably did a lot of listening to what His Father had to say about dealing with all of those people.”

Stan then added, “I don’t have ‘great multitudes’ of people in my life that cause me to want to get away by myself, but I certainly can have ‘great multitudes’ of things in my life that interfere with my prayer time with God.”

“Great multitudes of things?” I replied.

“Yes,” Stan responded.  “If I am not careful to keep the right perspective in my relationship with God, along with my need to be alone with Him to hear what He has to say, I can get way off of the path He intends for me.”

Continuing, he added, “If I don’t watch out continually, the ‘great multitude’ of self, along with the ‘great multitude’ of the world, the flesh, and the devil can and will get in the way of an ever-deepening relationship with God.  Not a good thing!”

Concluding, he asked, “You have any ‘great multitudes’ you need to get away from?”

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But the news about Him was spreading even further, and great multitudes were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.  Luke 5:15, 16.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you allow me to come before you in prayer.  I confess that too often I allow “great multitudes” of things to get in the way of my wanting to be alone with you.  Please forgive me.  And please lead me in wanting to be alone with you so I can hear from you as to how you want our relationship to grow and to deepen.  Please lead me in focusing on you and your voice, rather than on the “great multitudes” of distractions that get in the way of being alone with 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.

446. Praying For Them Whether They Want It Or Not

“A few years ago,” Stan began, “before we moved here, I had a neighbor who was in a serious auto accident.  He was in the hospital and I visited him several times, both before and after he regained consciousness.”

“Was he okay?” I asked.

“Yes, eventually,” Stan replied.  “After a few weeks, he was released from the hospital and was able to rehab at home.”

Continuing, he said, “One day, while my neighbor was still in the hospital, I told him that I had been praying for him.”

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

“He said he did not believe in God and certainly did not believe in prayer.  He told me not to bother praying for him.”

“So,” I replied, “did you stop praying for him?”

“Absolutely not,” Stan said.  “While I did not tell my neighbor this, I certainly thought of saying that I took my orders from God, not from him.  But the Holy Spirit led me in not saying that.  I continued to pray for his physical healing, but especially for his spiritual healing.”

Continuing, Stan said, “The Bible says to pray for all people, not just the ones who want or ask for prayer.  I take that admonition seriously, especially when I have the deep sense of prompting by and from the Holy Spirit.”

“And you had that sense with this man?” I asked.

“I did,” Stan replied.  “As he was healed from his physical injuries, I could see there was a change in him.  He began to ask about my prayers.  Eventually he began to ask me to pray for him.  And he asked me about my faith.”

“During the time he was recovering at home,” Stan continued, “I visited him regularly.  After a time, I was able to be a part of God’s plan for the man and was able to lead him in accepting God’s provision for life eternally with Him when it is time.”

“Furthermore,” Stan added, “the man has become a real prayer warrior, being a prayer leader in the church as he works out the salvation that God worked in.”

“All because you prayed for him,” I responded.

“All I did,” Stan said, “was obey.  God is the one who answered the prayers He wanted me to bring before Him.”

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First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men.  1 Timothy 2:1.

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, that you want me to pray for all people, whether or not they want me to pray for them.  I am to pray and leave the answers in your very capable hands.  I confess that too often I fail to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit and I fail to pray as He leads.  Please forgive me.  And please open me to pray just as you want, to be obedient in praying as you lead.  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.

447. Being A Saint — Don't Sell Yourself Short

“It’s not uncommon,” Stan began, “for Christians to say about themselves, ‘I certainly am no saint’.”

“I’ve heard a lot of people say that about themselves,” I responded.

“Me, too,” Stan replied, “and my question is always to wonder why someone would say that.”

“Probably want to express their humility or just to be honest about what they see in themselves,” I ventured.

“Perhaps,” Stan said, “but I can’t help but see it as contrary to what I think God thinks or how He sees.  And I saw something about this at the beginning of the letter to the Hebrews this morning.”

“Did Paul write that letter?” I asked.

“Seems like no one on this side of eternity knows for certain who wrote it,” Stan responded, “but whoever did put in an excellent description of Jesus that, I think, bears on what we are talking about.”

“How so?” I asked.

“The writer of the letter described Jesus as being the exact representation of God’s nature.  Kind of like looking at Jesus to see what God looks like walking around on two legs.”

Continuing, Stan said, “And if that’s true, which I believe it is, and if the Holy Spirit of God lives in me, which I believe He does, there is no reason for me or, for that matter any Christian, to be self-described as ‘no saint’.”

“If I do that,” Stan added, “I think I am denying what God has for me to be, which is the manifestation of Christ.  It may sound humble, but I do not think that God wants me to be humble in that way.  No, I think He wants me to be bold in representing who I am in Christ.”

“It doesn’t mean,” Stan concluded,  “that I am to run around proclaiming that I am a saint, but I am to manifest the sainthood of being a Christian.”

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And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.  Hebrews 1:3.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for sending Jesus into the world as your exact representation.  Thank you for His finished work on the cross that gives me the assurance of spending eternity with you when it is time.  And thank you for His presence in me through the Holy Spirit which He asked you to send.  I confess that too often I do not manifest His presence in me the way you want.  Please forgive me.  And please, Lord, help me in being bold in allowing your exact representation to be manifested in and through me to make a difference for you on this side of eternity.  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.

448. Measuring Success

“A few years ago,” Stan began, “before we moved here, I knew a fellow who is a perfect bad example of something we see way too often.”

“How so?”  I asked.  “A bad example of what?”

“I met him in a Bible study class.  He was bright, young, ambitious, and anxious to be  successful in business.”

“And that’s bad?” I replied.

“No, of course not,” Stan said, “but the story gets better, or worse, depending on your perspective.”

“This fellow had some great ideas for new tech products and we spent a lot of time together praying for God’s wisdom and guidance, not only for the business, but for whatever blessings of success God might choose to grant.”

Continuing, Stan said, “I remember clearly this fellow’s commitment to giving God all of the glory for any success and for using that success to advance the Kingdom.”

“I still don’t see the bad example,” I replied.  “It all sounds good to me.”

“Success came, but the fellow left,” Stan replied.  He left the Bible study saying he was too busy.  He stopped attending church services, saying he had to work.  Pretty soon his whole demeanor changed as he took more and more credit for the wonderful success of the business.”

“Before too long,” Stan continued, “he had moved into a very large and very fancy new house, was driving amazing cars, and had all of the trappings of great financial success.”

“I didn’t see much of him as we were in different circles, but one day I ran into him by accident. At one point in the conversation I asked him for a donation to a mission trip our church was organizing.  He didn’t donate anything then, but told me to catch him later.”

“As we ended our conversation,” Stan said, “I asked him something about how the business was going.  He said he had worked really hard to build what he had built, that he was enjoying the fruits of his labor, that he was still working hard trying to keep it growing, but that there were some challenges on the horizon.”

“It wasn’t too long after that,” Stan continued, “that I saw in the business section of the on-line business news that the company had filed for bankruptcy protection and that this man had filed for personal bankruptcy.”

“In my personal and humble opinion,” Stan said, “he had gone spiritually bankrupt long before then.”

“Did you reach out to him?” I asked.

“I did,” Stan replied.  “I left several phone and text messages.  I sent some emails and an actual snail-mail letter, but I never heard anything back from him.  I pray for him regularly. I pray for his wellbeing and that God would draw him close and open him to want to know God, His will, and His provision. I pray I will see him again on the other side.”

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Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Thy name give glory.  Psalm 115:1.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your amazing provision in every aspect of my being.  I stand in awe of your greatness and your goodness.  I confess that too many times I take personal credit for your provision.  Please forgive me all of that.  Please, Father, lead me in always acknowledging you as the source of all I am allowed to enjoy and in never taking personal credit for what you do.  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.