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649. Can’t Be Taught Without Being Teachable

“One of my neighbors,” Stan began one morning, “is a teacher over at Brown’s Middle School.  She and her husband were over for dinner last night.”

“Nice time?” I asked.

“Very,” Stan replied.  “Great people and wonderful neighbors.”

“What does she teach?” I asked.

“A couple of different subjects,” Stan replied, “but mainly history.  That’s her speciality, and I’ve heard she’s a very good teacher.”

Continuing, he added, “Last night we were talking about teaching in general and how she is able to engage her students in wanting to learn.  Without the students wanting to learn, there is not a whole lot a teacher can do, so she spends a lot of time focusing on building into the students the desire to learn.”

“The love of learning?” I replied.

“That’s it,” Stan said.  “Without that desire it’s hard, maybe impossible, to teach, but with it there is virtually no limit to what a student can learn.”

Continuing, he added, “Not unlike my relationship with God.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Well,” Stan replied, “I have seen that with a lot of people.  I saw it with me.  I said I wanted a closer relationship with God, but I didn’t do anything about it.  I just didn’t have the motivating desire to have a closer relationship with God.”

“Kind of like what you talk about with eternal life being about knowing God the Father and Jesus the Son,” I said.  “If a person doesn’t have the desire to know them, it might not happen.”

“More than ‘might’,” Stan replied.  “I would say that it won’t happen.”

“As well,” he added, “again with the person I know best, I spent a lot of time praying to be taught what God had for me, but any such desire to be taught ended with my prayer.”

“But something changed at some point,” I replied.  “What was it?”

“One day I was praying and asking God to fill me with all He had for me,” Stan responded, “and all of a sudden I had this sense of God replying with something that really affected me.”

“What was that?” I asked.

“God’s response to my prayer,” Stan replied, “was something like He had heard that prayer from me many times, but He didn’t see that I had done anything to prepare for what I was asking.”

“What did you think that meant?” I said.

“Bottom-line,” Stan replied, “is that God made it clear I wasn’t teachable.  I asked Him to fill me with all He had for me, but I hadn’t made any room for Him to do so.  I was still filled with all of the stuff that kept out what God wanted to pour in.”

Continuing, he added, “God made it clear that for me to be teachable, for me to have a love for what God had for me, first I needed to make room for Him.  The answer to all of my prayers to be filled waited for me to first choose to be emptied.”

“Is that kind of like the first step in discipleship?” I asked.  “Of denying self?”

“You got it, my friend,” Stan replied.  “I needed to deny myself by choosing to be emptied of everything that was in the way of God’s filling.  Until I did that, I could not proceed into a deeper relationship of knowing the Father and the Son more closely.”

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Teach me Thy way, O lord; I will walk in Thy truth; unite my heart to fear Thy name.  Psalm 86:11.

Lead me in Thy truth and teach me, for Thou art the God of my salvation; for Thee I wait all the day.  Psalm 25:5.

Jesus therefore answered them, and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who Sent Me.”  John 7:16.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for wanting to teach me all there is to know about you, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  I confess that too often I am not teachable because I choose to not be teachable;  I choose to be taught other things and other ways rather than yours.  Please forgive that foolishness and please help me in following each step of your lead as you seek to teach me.  Please, Father, help me to be open to being teachable in accordance with what you want and have for me.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Do you think you are teachable in the sense of wanting to learn all that God has for you?  If not, what might be in the way and how can that be remedied?  Do you want to know God and what He has for you?  Why or why not?  What would it look like for you to be teachable just as God wants?  Is that something you want?  If so, do you know how it can happen?

650. First You Have To Get Up

“Earlier this morning,” Stan began, “I was again looking at the story of what happened when the apostle Paul, who was then known as Saul, was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians.”

“Jesus interrupted his journey big time,” I responded.

“Not only his journey,” Stan replied, “but his life and his eternal destination.”

Continuing, he added, “And I see a parallel between what Jesus said to him and what God says to me every single day.”

“Which part of what Jesus said?” I asked.  “Where He asked Saul why he was persecuting Him?”

“No,” Stan replied, “it’s what happened after that.”

“What was that?”

“Quick recap,” Stan replied.  “Jesus appeared like a flash of light from heaven; Saul was knocked to the ground; and then Jesus wanted to know why Saul was persecuting Him.”

Continuing, he said, “After that comes the part I hear every morning.  Jesus told Saul to get up and go to where Jesus had for him to go in order to hear what he, Saul, was to do.”

“You hear that every morning?” I asked.

“Sure do,” Stan replied.  “Just like Saul couldn’t continue on to Damascus without getting up, God wakes me and says it’s time to get up and go where He has for me to go so I can hear what He has to say.”

“The only difference I see,” he continued, “is that Jesus told Saul to go on to the City of Damascus, whereas I am told to go to the “city” of my time with God.  Saul would be told what he was to do; and the same is true with me.”

“And what’s that?” I asked.

“The specifics are different for me each day,” Stan replied, “but the point is always the same.  I am to continue in my ever-deepening relationship with God.”

“Out of that relationship,” he continued, “I am told what it is I am to do in being who I am intended to be.”

“Kind of like working out the salvation that has been worked in?” I asked.

“Not just ‘kind of like’,” Stan replied.  “Exactly like!”

“But the first step,” I responded, “is for you to get up.  Is that the point?”

“That’s it,” Stan replied.  “For me, it’s essential that I get out of bed and go to the ‘city’ so I can hear what it is God has for me to do as I work out the salvation He has worked in!”

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Rise and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do.  Acts of the Apostles 9:6.

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 to tell me what it is you have for me to do in response to your free and gracious provision of salvation.  Thank you, too, for making it clear that I have to be where you want me to be in order to hear what you have to tell me.  I confess that too often I am not where you want me to be because I choose to be elsewhere.  Please help me in following your lead to where you intend for me to be, doing what you want, wherever and whatever that may be.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Do you have a time each day when you go to the “city” of spending time with God to hear what He has to say to you?  If you do, what is that time like?  If you don’t, why?  Also, if you do not, would you like to have such a time each day?  Do you think it’s important to hear what God has for you to do?  Why or why not?  If you think it is important and you would like to have that sort of time with God, do you know how it can happen? 

651. How Are You Going To Obey If You Don’t Know What To Obey?

“I just love to read about the early church,” Stan began.

“What do you mean by ‘early church’?” I asked.

“It’s the time right after Jesus went to the cross, died, was buried, was resurrected, and then ascended into heaven,” Stan replied.  “It’s recorded in the Book of Acts of The Apostles.”

“What do you like about reading that?” I asked.

“It was the time for the church to get off on the right foot,” Stan replied.  “The Holy Spirit was clearly leading.  If they didn’t get it right, the church might not have survived.  I think there’s a lot for the present-day church to learn from what the early church experienced.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“Many, many things,” Stan replied, “but the one I was focusing on this morning is a prime example, not only for the church in general, but for me in particular.”

“What were you looking at?” I said.

“Peter and the other apostles,” Stan replied, “were being bold in talking about Jesus and what He had accomplished through His life, death, and resurrection.  The Jewish leaders didn’t like what Peter and the others were saying and they gave them a really hard time.  They had them arrested and all sorts of things to try to get them to stop talking about Jesus.”

“Did they stop?” I asked.

“No,” Stan said, “and the reason why they didn’t is what’s important for me.”

“What’s that?”

“They said,” Stan replied, “that they were obligated to obey God not men.”

“Sounds like a reasonable thing to say,” I responded.

“Yeah,” Stan said, “I agree completely with that sentiment, but there’s an essential part that may go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway.”

Continuing, he added, “How am I going to obey what God says rather than what other people are telling me if I don’t know what God says?”

“And how will you know that?” I asked.

“By reading God’s word and listening to His voice,” Stan replied.  “If I don’t do that, there’s no way I’m going to know how to do what He says.  I will be sucked into thinking that what other people say is what I’m supposed to obey.”

“And if those other people aren’t in touch with what God says,” I responded, “they may be telling you or me the wrong thing.  Is that what I’m supposed to watch for?”

“You got it, my friend,” Stan replied.

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But Peter and the apostles answered and said, “We must obey God rather than men.”  Acts of The Apostles 5:29.

But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.”  Acts of The Apostles 4:19, 20.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you make it clear what it is you have for me to obey.  Thank you, too, for making it clear that I cannot know what you say and what you have for me to obey unless I spend time reading your Word and listening to your voice.  Please help me in knowing what you have for me to obey so I will not get sidetracked by listening to the voice of others who do not know you.  Help me to obey you at all costs.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Is it possible to obey God without knowing what you are supposed to obey?  Why or why not?  It can be difficult living in today’s world, where the world does not know God and His word, but seeks to impose rules contrary to God.  How do you deal with that?  If you have not been confronted by that, you will be.  How will you respond?  Do you agree with the sentiment that we are to obey God and not men?  Why or why not?

652. The Desert Of Unbelief

“I was reading in the letter to the Hebrews this morning,” Stan began, “where the writer was focusing on the subject of the Jews wandering around the desert for forty years.”

“Forty years wandering around in the desert,” I replied.  “I’m not sure I’ve ever understood what that was all about.”

“I think the writer nailed it,” Stan said, “where it says the Jews were not able to enter the Promised Land because of unbelief.”

“As simple as that?” I responded.  “Their unbelief?”

“As simple and as complicated as that!” Stan replied.  “And I can certainly relate.”

“In what way?” I asked.

“I wandered around my own desert of unbelief for way too long before I came to accept the truth of what God did for me through the finished work of Jesus on the cross.”

“That finished work has given me the assurance of spending the rest of eternity with God when it’s time,” Stan added.  “As well, God has given me the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide, help, and counsel me in entering into God’s ongoing work on this side of eternity.”

“I guess there’s no need to continuing wandering,” I replied, “if the ability to stop wandering is readily available.”

“Bingo and Amen!” Stan exclaimed.  “But it’s not just a guess; it’s the truth!”

“But,” he continued, “the ability to stop wandering in the desert of unbelief usually comes about because someone else who has stopped wandering tells another how to do the same thing.”

“The Jews wandered for forty years,” Stan added, “because they failed to believe.”

“Just think,” he concluded, “of all the people out there who are wandering in their own desert of unbelief because they don’t know how to stop wandering.”

“And why don’t they know?” I asked.

“Because no one has bothered to tell them,” Stan replied.  “Is there someone you need to tell so they can stop wandering?”

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And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.  Hebrews 3:19.

How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  Romans 10:14.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the truth of your provision of life eternally with you through the finished work of Jesus.  Thank you for those who told me the truth so I could accept it by faith and stop wandering in the desert of unbelief.  You bring people before me each day who are wandering the way I was.  Too often I fail to tell them the truth so they, too, can stop wandering.  Please forgive me.  And please help me in following your lead in telling everyone you want me to tell so they will be able to stop wandering without the truth.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Have you stopped wandering in the desert of unbelief?  If not, why?  If you have stopped wandering, can you point to a specific person who told you how to do that?  If you are no longer wandering, are there people in your life who need to hear how they, too, can stop wandering in their own desert of unbelief?  Are you willing to do that?  Why or why not?  If you are willing, do you know how to do that?  If you don’t, do you know where to get the help?

653. Unjustly Accused?

“Stan,” I said, “do you remember I asked you to pray about a situation at work last week?”

“Sure do,” Stan replied.  “I’ve been praying. Has anything happened?”

“Yeah,” I said, “something definitely happened.  After my boss accused me of doing something I didn’t do, she spent some more time looking into the situation,  She came into my office yesterday and apologized.  She said she was wrong.”

“Great!” Stan replied.  “So everything is resolved?”

“Seems like it,” I said.  “And what’s really interesting to me is something my boss said when she apologized.”

“What’s that?” Stan asked.

“She said that she was really affected by my sincerity when I told her she must have gotten some bad information about what I had supposedly done.”

Continuing, I said, “She told me she went back to her office and spent some time thinking about my denial and that maybe she had gone off in the wrong direction.  She dug more deeply and realized her error.”

“So,” Stan replied, “you think how you handled her accusation had something to do with how it was resolved?”

“I do,” I said.

“That’s kind of like what it says in the Book of Proverbs,” Stan responded.

“How so?” I asked.

“Proverbs puts it in terms of an ‘unjust curse,’ but I think it covered your situation of being unjustly accused.  The verse goes on to say that such an unjust accusation will not stick.”

Continuing, he added, “While the verse doesn’t say anything about how the unjust accusation is handled, I think it’s fairly obvious that the reaction of the one unjustly accused certainly can go a long way toward the situation being straightened out.  Just like it did with you.”

“Kind of like Queen Gertrude in Shakespeare’s Hamlet,” I replied.

“You’re right,” Stan responded, “when she said, ‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks’!”

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Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse without cause does not alight.  Proverbs 26:2.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your instructions as to how I am respond when unjustly accused.  You sent your Son into the world for our salvation.  He was certainly unjustly accused and treated poorly by the ones He came to save.  Please help me in manifesting His response to whatever the world may throw at me in terms of unjust accusations.  May my response align with His when He asked you to forgive them for they didn’t know what they were doing.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in His name.  Amen.

Think on this:  Have you ever been accused of doing something you know you didn’t do?  If so, how did you react?  How did it turn out?   Do you think your response was pleasing to God and in accordance with His will?  Why or why not?  Were you able to forgive the person who made the unjust accusation?  If not, why?  It’s not easy to echo Jesus’s words, “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34), but that’s the target.  Do you agree with that?  Why or why not?

654. The Choice Of Life Is Up To You

“Before we moved here,” Stan began, “we had a neighbor who became very ill.  He was a mess.  He knew he was dying and he was really afraid.”

“Was he a believer?” I asked.

“He was not,” Stan replied, “and that’s why he was so afraid.  He didn’t know what was going to happen when he stepped into eternity, and he was afraid of the unknown.”

“Did you try to help him?” I asked.

“Many times,” Stan responded, “both before he was in the hospital the final time, and while he was there waiting to die.”

Continuing, he said, “I went through God’s plan of salvation many times.  I talked with him about what Jesus said about how a person will not die.  I told him that it was a fact that Jesus was and is who He says, but that it’s a choice whether or not a person chooses life in and through Him.”

“Did he come to salvation before he passed into eternity?” I asked.

“He did!” Stan exclaimed.  “Just a few hours before he died physically, he accepted God’s provision for life eternally with Him.”

“What a joy that must have been,” I replied.

“A fabulous joy for him,” Stan replied.  “His fear of death was gone.  He was looking forward to getting on the train because he knew where he was going.”

“In addition to seeing the joy and difference in him,” Stan continued, “there was the wonder of something he said that had a real impact on me.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“He said,” Stan replied, “something like, ‘Why did I wait so long?  What have I missed?’  In the short time he had been a believer, even though he did not have the opportunity to live it out before he stepped into eternity, he knew the truth that he had missed having a personal relationship with the One who took away his fear.”

Continuing, he added, “And what this man then said to me, and I really think it was God speaking through him, has had a lasting impact on me and my faith walk.”

“What did he say?” I asked.

“With tears in his eyes,” Stan responded, “he told me to never stop telling the truth of the choice of life, the truth that overcomes all fear.  Keep saying it so that those who come to faith  will have longer to live in that joy while still here.”

“While they are waiting for the train,” I replied.

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Jesus said to her (Martha) “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.  Do you believe this?” John 11:25, 26.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your provision of life with you when it’s time to step into eternity, all through the life, death, and resurrection of your Son.  Thank you for those who brought me to that truth.  Thank you, too, for leaving me on this side of eternity so that I can work out the salvation you have worked in and tell others the truth before it’s time for them to step into eternity.  I confess that too often I do not tell and manifest the truth in the way you intend.  Please help me in following every step of your lead in being only who and in doing only what you intend for me as long as you keep me here.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers  before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Do you have the assurance of knowing where you’re going when it’s time?  If not, do you want that assurance?  It’s available for the asking.  If you do have that assurance, are there people in your life who are afraid of dying because they don’t know where they are going when they step into eternity?  What would it take for you to help them to have the joy of knowing?  Is that something you want to do?  Why or why not?

655. Professing And Denying God

“Stan,” I asked, “do you think it’s possible for a person to both profess God and deny Him at the same time?”

“Sure do,” Stan replied.  “And I have ample evidence to back that up!”

“What kind of evidence?” I asked.

“Me,” was his one-word answer.  “And the apostle Paul addresses this very thing in his letter to Titus, who Paul had left on the Island of Crete to work with the church there.”

“What did Paul write?” I asked.

“He wrote about the people in the church who said one thing about their belief in God, but acted in ways that showed the exact opposite.”  Continuing, Stan said, “And that’s where I fit in way too often.”

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“There’s not doubt in my mind,” Stan responded, “that, when the time is right, I will get on the train to spend the rest of eternity with God.  Also, there is no doubt in my mind that God has left me on this side of eternity to be and to do what He intends while I wait for the train.”

“Okay,” I said, “I can understand that, but what about the part where you said you deny God?”

“That’s where what I am and what I do are the opposite from what I say.”

“Is that kind of like the old saying,” I replied, “about ‘Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk’? 

“Exactly, my friend,” Stan replied, “not just kind of like!”

Concluding, he said, “What I say about being God’s and moving on towards spiritual maturity and knowing Him has to match what I am and what I do.”

“What if it doesn’t?” I asked.

“If my walk and talk are not in agreement,” he concluded, “it’s time for me to open up and allow the Holy Spirit to do some serious talking to me!  Serious talking, followed by listening, repenting, and obeying!”

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They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him.  Titus 1:16.

And a certain servant-girl, seeing him (Peter) as he sat by the firelight, and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him (Jesus) too.”  But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”  Luke 22:56, 57.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the truth of your word that brings to my mind where you want me to be, and where I fall short, in my relationship with you.  Thank you for the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross that gives me the assurance of spending eternity with you when it’s time.  Thank you, too, for the presence of the Holy Spirit in me to show me how it is you want me to live the life you have given me to live on this side of eternity.  I confess that too often my walk with you does not match what I say about our relationship and my commitment to you.  Please, forgive me, and please help me in making my walk with you match my talk about you.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Is there a disconnect between what you say about your relationship with God, as compared to what you do with that relationship?  Why or why not?  If your walk does not match your talk, is that something you want to change?  If so, do you know how to go about having that change occur?

656. How Long A Life?

“I got word yesterday,” Stan began, “that a man from the church where we used to live passed into eternity.”

“Was he a believer?” I responded.

“Very definitely,” Stan said.  “He was an old guy who had walked with God for a long time.  He  had a significant impact on my faith walk, and he definitely got on the train to glory!”

“How old was he?” I asked.

“I’m not exactly sure,” Stan replied.  “We moved here several years ago, and he was at least in his early 90’s when we moved.”

“Wow!” I responded, “so he may have been close to a hundred.”

“That’s right,’ Stan said, “and he was a perfect example of living a life for God, regardless of how long that life may be.  With him, it was a long life; with others, their lives may be much shorter.”

“But for me,” Stan continued, “the point is the same.  Regardless of how long God chooses to keep me on this side of eternity, I’m to live for Him the life He has given.”

“Kind of like the old saying of not putting off to tomorrow what you can do today,” I responded.

“Exactly,” Stan said.  “I don’t know when I won’t have a tomorrow on this side of eternity;  that’s up to God.  However, what is up to me is how I spend today.  I choose to spend it being who, doing what, God intends.”

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With a long life I will satisfy him, and let him behold My salvation.  Psalm 91:16.

Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve; . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15.

This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the life you have given me to live for you.  Thank you for the assurance of spending eternity with you when it’s time for me to board the train.  Thank you, too, for the opportunity to know you ever more deeply before then.  I ask for all of the help you can provide so that I will live my life for you as long you want to keep me here.  Please help me in following your lead to make the most of each day for you.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  We do not know which day will be our last.  Are you prepared to step into eternity to be with God when it’s time?  If so, what does that assurance feel like?  If not, do you know how to receive that assurance?  It’s way too easy to put off until tomorrow what needs to be done today.  That not only includes accepting the free and gracious gift of salvation, it includes being and doing what God intends because of that salvation.  Where are you with that?  Where would you like to be?  Do you know how to get to where you want to be?

657. Choosing Not To Look

“I was reading in Matthew’s gospel last night,” I said to Stan one morning.

“Anything interesting?” He asked.

“Yeah,” I said, “both interesting and somewhat bothersome.”

“What were you reading?” Stan asked.

“Where Jesus told some people to rip their eye out and throw it away if it caused them to sin,” I replied.

“You’re right,” Stan replied, “tough talk that could be bothersome.  But it wasn’t uncommon for Jesus to say things in a  strong way to make a simple point.”

“What’s simple about telling someone to rip their eye out and throw it away?” I asked.

“Well,” Stan responded, “to me, the bottom-line point Jesus was making concerns sin, stumbling into sin, and how destructive sin can be in a person’s life.  I can tell you from personal experience that sin can, indeed, have a destructive impact on a life.”

Continuing, he added, “I think what Jesus was warning about is that if what I look at causes me to stumble into sin, I had better watch out and pay close attention to what I look at and the consequences of that looking.”

“Okay,” I said, “rather than rip my eye out and throw it away, I am to guard what I look at.  Is that what you’re saying?”

“That’s it,” Stan replied.  “And you probably know as well as I do that there’s a lot of stuff to look at that can cause stumbling into sin.”

Continuing, he added, “Books, magazines, movies, television, the internet.  You could even include that there are certain people I shouldn’t be looking at in a certain way.  This list goes on and on.”

“So,” I replied, “if I’m not constantly aware of the danger of what I look at, or how I look at something or someone, I guess I could be headed for trouble.”

“Much stronger than a guess,” Stan said.  “I would put it in the category of being an absolute certainty.”

Continuing, he said, “While this sort of stumbling into sin is not about the possibility of losing my salvation, it certainly can be about missing the mark of who God intends for me to be while He leaves me on this side of eternity.”

“And,” he concluded, “if I miss the mark it may very well cause another person to stumble as well.  I don’t want that to happen, so I purposefully call upon the Holy Spirit to help me in what I look at and what I don’t.  I give Him full permission to help me in whatever way necessary so the choices I make are not going to cause me, or anyone else, to stumble.”

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And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your body to be thrown into hell.  Matthew 5:29.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13.

It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.  Luke 17:2.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the warnings set forth in your Word, the warnings that give instruction as to what and what not to do.  You know how often I am tempted to look at things and people in ways you do not want, ways that may lead me to stumble into sin.  I need and I ask for your help to avoid stumbling in ways that will impact who you have for me to be and what you have for me to do while you leave me on this side of eternity.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Do you agree that the world, the flesh, and the devil have all sorts of things for us to look at that can cause us to stumble into sin?  Why or why not?  Are there particular things you look at in ways that have caused you to stumble?  If so, what happened?  Do you want to avoid that kind of stumbling in the future?  Why or why not?  If you do, are you familiar with the help that is available?  Do you want that help?

658. Caring About Ignorance

“The other day,” Stan began, “I was reminded of the old joke about ignorance and apathy.”

“The one,” I replied, “about which is worse, ignorance or apathy?”

“That’s right,” Stan said, “And, as you know, the answer is, ‘I don’t know and I don’t care!’”

“What made you think about that?” I asked.

“I was again focusing on John’s gospel,” Stan replied, “where Jesus said that eternal life is about knowing Him and God the Father.”

“What does that have to do with the joke?” I asked.

“Not being apathetic about my ignorance,” Stan replied.

Continuing, he added, “Not only do I think that I’m to pursue knowing God as deeply as possible, I’m to be open and admit to Him that I don’t know what I don’t know.”

“Admitting that you don’t know what you don’t know?” I said.  “What’s that all about?”

“As we’ve talked about before,” Stan replied, “I believe that if I ever get to the point of thinking I know God as well as I need to know Him I will be off base and heading in the wrong direction.  I am to pursue knowing Him, as the Father, as the Son, and as the Holy Spirit, as deeply as humanly possible for as long as I’m here.”

Continuing, he added, “And I think an essential part of pursuing that knowledge is a frank admission that I don’t know what I don’t know.”

“Like asking God to show you what you don’t know?” I replied.

“Exactly!” Stan said.  “I begin each day alone with God seeking to know Him better.  At the beginning of that time, I tell God I want to know Him more deeply.  I admit to Him that I don’t know what I don’t know, and I ask Him to open me to see what He has for me to see, know, and understand.”

“It’s an admission,” he continued, “that I’m ignorant and that I’m not apathetic about having that ignorance removed in accordance with what God has for me to know about Him.”

“How will you ever know that you have learned as much about God as you can?” I asked.

“When I board the train,” Stan replied, “that will be the end of my opportunity to know God more deeply here.  So, in that respect, my boarding the train will be the time when I have learned as much as I can on this side.  Until then, I am to keep on learning!”

“But,” he added, “I also believe that when I get off the train and I’m in God’s eternal presence, that will be when I will know Him as deeply as possible for the rest of eternity!”

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

At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes.  Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight.”  Luke 10:21.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you allow me to pursue knowing you, your Son, and the Holy Spirit while you keep me on this side of eternity.  It is a great privilege to know you more deeply and more intimately.  Please help me in following your lead so I freely admit I do not even know what I don’t know.  Please, Father, build in me the desire to know you as well as is possible while I wait to step into your eternal presence in heaven where I will truly know you forever.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Do you think it’s possible to know God? Why or why not? If it is possible, how well do you know Him?  Do you think He wants you to know Him more deeply? Why or why not?  Are you willing to admit that you don’t know what you don’t know about God?  Have you ever opened a present only to find another present that needs to be unwrapped?  And then another?  Pursuing knowing God is kind of like that.  Keep opening His presents to gain His presence!