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489. Words Matter — For Both Sides Of Eternity

“I was working in my front yard yesterday,” Stan began, “and a neighbor mother came by with her young son.”

Continuing, he said, “The woman and I were having a nice conversation about gardening, but her son was getting a bit impatient.  At one point he said something totally inappropriate and his mother reacted quickly.”

“How?” I asked.

“She said something like, ‘You better watch your mouth, young man!’”

“Did he mind her?” I replied.

“He did,” Stan said, “and I complimented the mother on her quick discipline as they headed on their way after some more conversation.”

“Later, I was thinking about that,” Stan continued, “and I saw a real correlation about how God says to me that I had better watch my mouth.”

“In what way?” I asked.

“At least two ways,” Stan replied.  “In the first instance, the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, points out that I am to confess with my mouth Jesus as Lord.  There’s nothing more important that I could ever say with my mouth.”

“Secondly,” Stan continued, “in James letter there are all sorts of instructions for how I am to control my mouth on this side of eternity.  I have the choice with my mouth to build up or to tear down; the choice to manifest what God has for me to manifest or to manifest the opposite.”

“Words matter for both sides of eternity, Stan said.”  I’m all set for when I step into eternity because of what I said with my mouth in confessing Christ.”

“However,” he concluded, “while I’m still here, when God, through the Holy Spirit, says, ‘Watch your mouth!’, I listen and take seriously His admonition to manifest God, and not manifest self or the world, or the flesh, or the devil by the words I allow to come out of my mouth.”

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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

And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.  James 3:6.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your provision of salvation through confession of faith through my mouth.  Thank you, too, for your instructions on how to control what comes out of my mouth on this side of eternity.  I confess that too often what I allow out of my mouth does not manifest what you intend, but manifests the opposite.  Please forgive me.  And please, Father, help me in controlling my mouth so my words are of praise, honor, glory, and manifestation of you, not of me, and not of the world, the flesh, and the devil.  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.

490. Keep The Beast Under Control!

“Yesterday was a busy day,” Stan began.  “Lots of errands, meetings, phone calls, and eating on the run.  I was finally able to stop late in the day and have a cup of coffee with my wife.”

“Nice to have time to sit and relax,” I commented.

“Always with her,” Stan replied.  “However, when I sat down with her at Arbuckle’s Coffee Shop and gave her a kiss on the cheek, she said something like ‘I bet I know where you had lunch, and probably what you had’.”

“Was she right?” I asked.

“She was,” Stan replied.  “Mario’s Pizza.  And the Garlic Supreme.  Then she said the obvious that I could use some mouth wash!”

“However,” he continued, “I didn’t have any, but I did have some breath mints.  I  popped a couple of them in my mouth.”

“Did that help?” I asked with a smile.

“My wife said it did,” Stan replied.  “From there, she and I had a great conversation about spiritual mouth wash.”

“Spiritual mouth wash?” I said.  “What’s that?”

“James wrote about that in his letter when he wrote about the need to watch what comes out of my mouth.  Of course, he wasn’t writing about Mario’s garlic, but he was writing about something much more significant.”

“What?” I asked.

“Keeping my tongue under control so that what I say matches with who I am in my relationship with God through the finished work of Christ that resulted from His life, death, and resurrection.”

Continuing, Stan said, “James put it in terms of ‘bridling’ my mouth, using the analogy of a bit in a horse’s mouth that can control the whole horse.  I am to keep my tongue under control so that the whole me is under control.  In order to have that kind of control, I have to give it all to the Holy Spirit whose fruit includes self-control.  Controlling self, that’s what it is all about.”

“But,” I asked, “doesn’t that require that you first take every thought captive?”

“Absolutely!” Stan replied.  “If I don’t first take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and give each thought to the Holy Spirit, my tongue can and will cause me to be run like an unbridled horse.”

“Just like garlic breath is the natural result of eating tasty garlic-filled pizza, an uncontrolled life will be the result of an uncontrolled tongue.  The damage from one can be remedied with some mouth wash, the other may cause damage that can’t be or is not easily repaired. It’s better for the damage from an unbridled mouth to be avoided. Much better than having to deal with the damage.”

“Keep the beast under control!” 

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Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they may obey us, we direct their entire bodies as well.  James 3:3.

We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:5.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you make it clear what you do and do not want to come out of my mouth.  I confess that way too often what I say does not reflect who you intend for me to be in Christ.  And I confess that too often what I say leads to actions that are also contrary to what you intend for those who claim to be yours.  Please forgive me.  And please help me in following your lead so that I keep control of what I say, as well as what I do, by taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in His name.  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.

491. Got A Gift? Share It!

“I was blessed to witness something yesterday that really warmed my heart,” Stan began.  “And it was a perfect example of Christ in action.”

“What was that?” I asked.

“I was out in the front yard doing some gardening,” Stan replied, “and one of the neighborhood children, a young girl, came by with a box of candy.”

“Was she selling candy?” I asked.

“No,” Stan responded, “and that is what was so great.  She was giving it away.”

“Giving it away?  Why?”

“I asked her that,” Stan said.  “And she told me her daddy had come home with a box of candy for her.  A gift for no particular reason.  It wasn’t Valentine’s Day, her birthday, or anything like that.”

“Okay, then what?” I asked.

“Apparently she had a piece and then went out in the neighborhood to share.  And that is where I came in.  The little girl opened the box and showed me that there were only two pieces left.  She said something like, ‘These are for you and Mrs. Stan’.”

Continuing, he said, “I teared up and thanked her.  She left and I went inside to share the gift with my wife.  As we enjoyed the delicious candy, I mentioned that the neighbor girl had just done what Peter told us in his first letter.”

“What’s that? I asked.

“While I don’t think Peter was talking about a box of candy,” Stan replied, “Peter did tell us that we are to share with others whenever we receive a special gift.  But I can assure you that every gift from God is sweet!”

“And,” he continued, “I think what Peter was writing about applies to every special gift I receive.  Doesn’t matter what it is.  It can be a material blessing, insight as to a truth God has for me, whatever.  I am to to share it in serving another person.”

“If,” Stan concluded, “God has given me a special gift, I am not to be greedy about it.  I am to share it with those people God brings before me.”

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As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  1 Peter 4:10.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for all of the gifts you have poured out and continue to pour out on me.  Thank you for the gift of life eternally with you when it is time through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Thank you for the gift of knowing you and Jesus on this side of eternity. Thank you for all of the gifts of your provision of everything I need.  I confess that too often I want to keep what you have given for myself alone, without sharing with others.  Please, Father, forgive that selfishness.  And please help me in following the lead of the Holy Spirit in giving and sharing all of your gifts.  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.

492. Making The Right Turn

“My wife and I,” Stan began one morning, “went out towards Garberville yesterday afternoon to get some apples from an orchard out there.”

“How was that?” I asked.

“Once we got there it was terrific.  We got some of the most amazing apples.  Apple pie is coming down the road!”

“But,” he continued, “I got a bit lost on the way and had to stop at a gas station and ask for directions.”

“Then everything was okay?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Stan responded.  “The fellow told me the way to go.  Stay on the road to the second stop sign, turn right, and go straight.  He said I couldn’t miss it.   He was right.  Got to the orchard just fine.”

Continuing, he added, “Kind of like what the apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the church in Thessaslonica.”

“How’s that?” I asked.

“Making the right turn,” Stan replied.  “Paul, in essence, patted the church on the back for turning to God from going the wrong direction.”

“In order for me to get to where God wants me to be,” Stan continued, “it is essential for me to make the right turns.  If I don’t know the way, I am to stop and ask for directions.”

“I couldn’t find the apple orchard without the right directions,” Stan concluded,  “and I can’t find where God wants me to be without stopping to ask Him.  He, through His word and His Holy Spirit, is more than happy to point me in the right direction.  I just have to listen and follow!”

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For they themselves report . . . how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God.  1 Thessalonians 1:9.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you want me to be right with you.  And thank you for showing me what turns I need to make in order to get there.  I confess that too often I have not and I do not ask for directions.  Please forgive me.  And please lead me, and help me to follow, the exact directions you have for me.  I know they are not complicated.  All I need to do is ask and follow what you have to say.  Please help me in doing that.  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.

493. An Opportune Time

“After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist,” Stan began, “Luke’s gospel account says that Jesus was led about in the wilderness by the Holy Spirit.”

“Is that where Jesus was tempted by Satan?” I asked.

“That’s right,” Stan replied.  “And the whole account of that temptation is a valuable lesson for me, especially the last part.”

“What was the last part?” I replied.

“Luke says that when Satan was finished with his every temptation, he departed from Jesus, but that he would be back at an ‘opportune time’.”

“For me,” Stan continued, “that is an essential thing for me to know.  That even though it seems that Satan has decided to leave me alone when I am able to resist his temptation, he is just waiting.”

“No,” Stan added, “Satan has not decided to leave me alone for the rest of the time I have on this side of eternity just because I have successfully resisted him.  He is waiting for an ‘opportune time’ to raise his ugly head and tempt me again.”

“If I am not aware that Satan is waiting,” Stan concluded, “and if I do not call upon the Holy Spirit for all of the help He has for me, I am apt to fall into Satan’s trap when he pounces at what he thinks is an ‘opportune time’.”

“What might such a time look like?” I asked.

“Whenever and by whatever means Satan chooses,” Stan replied.

“Satan’s opportune times do not put me in danger of losing my salvation,” Stan added, “for that has been settled by my acceptance of Christ’s finished work based on His life, death, and resurrection, but I am certainly in danger of not being all that God intends for me before I step into eternity, before I get on the train!”

“If Satan is just waiting for an opportune time,” Stan concluded, “it is my role to allow the Holy Spirit to lead me with His and my own opportune time to counter Satan’s.”

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And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.  Luke 4:13.

If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.  Genesis 4:7.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you provide all I need to resist the temptations of Satan, including the knowledge that he is just waiting for an opportune time to tempt me again.  Please help me in always being aware that Satan has not gone away, but is just waiting at the door of my life, waiting to tempt me when the time is right.  I confess that too many times I have fallen into Satan’s trap.  Please forgive me.  And please, Father, help me in following all of your leading in keeping me alert to and away from what Satan considers an ‘opportune time’ to tempt me again.  Please help me in surrendering all of me to the Holy Spirit’s own opportune time to lead me in resisting Satan’s temptations.  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.

494. Have Him Do What He Came To Do

“A couple of days ago,” Stan began, “I noticed a plumber’s truck across the street at one of my neighbor’s.  Yesterday, at the same neighbor’s house, there was a truck from one of those companies that clean up flooding and water damage.”

“What was that all about?” I asked.

“I went over to see if there was anything I could do to help,” Stan replied, “and I found out what happened.”

“Not surprisingly,” he added with a smile, “there’s a lesson for my walk with God!”

“So what happened?” I asked.

“Seems that my neighbor noticed that his hot water heater was leaking a little bit.  He called the plumber to have him look at it, but they both got sidetracked.  Turns out the neighbor had the plumber fix a number of things, leaky faucets, a water-pressure valve, and a couple of other items. The plumber never got around to the hot water heater before it was time for him to leave for the day.”

“In the middle of the night,” Stan added, “the hot water heater broke completely, the bottom fell out, and the basement was flooded.  That’s why the flooding and water damage people were there.”

“That’s a shame,” I responded.  “Probably a sure bet that your neighbor wishes he would have had the plumber do what he called him for.”

“You’re right about that,” Stan replied, “and that’s the lesson for my walk with God.”

“How so?” I asked.

“The apostle John zeroed in on this in his first letter,” Stan replied, “where he points out in a simple statement of why Jesus appeared on the earth.”

“Which was what?”

“To destroy the works of the devil,” Stan replied.  “I chose to have Jesus as an integral part of my life when I accepted His finished work on the cross, got a new life through His resurrection, and received the indwelling Holy Spirit He asked His Father to send.  Thus, everything is in place to do what needs to be done.”

“I just need,” he continued, “to choose, through my full and complete surrender to the Holy Spirit, to have the works of Satan destroyed in my life.  Satan’s full and final destruction will occur one day as laid out in the Bible’s Book of Revelation, but, in the meantime, I am to choose to accept and to abide in why Jesus came.”

Concluding, Stan said, “I am to let Jesus do what He came to do.  I am to keep from getting sidetracked into things that are much less important.  Let Him do what He came to do, destroy the works of the devil, and avoid the damage that will result if I don’t.”

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The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil.  1 John 3:8.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for sending your Son into the world to destroy the works of the devil through His finished work on the cross, His death, and His resurrection.  Thank you for those who brought me to the truth of your provision.  Thank you, too, for your provision of the Holy Spirit to live in me to help, counsel, and guide me in the ways of choosing to destroy the works of Satan in my life.  I confess that too often I do not choose to have those works destroyed.  Please forgive me.  And please help me in following your lead in my total and complete surrender to all the Holy Spirit has for me in choosing to accept His power in destroying all of the works of Satan.  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.

495. What Is It You Want?

“During the night before Jesus was crucified,” Stan began, “there was all sorts of stuff going on with Jesus’ trial.”

Continuing, he said, “First, he went before a council of elders that consisted of chief priests and scribes.  Then they took Jesus to Pilate, who sent Him to Herod.  Then Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate.”

“A lot of moving around,” I replied.

“You got that right,” Stan replied, and continued, “and there is something about when Jesus was before Herod that really caught my eye this morning.  Something that at one point in my life was similar.  And, if I am not careful, it is something that can still be a part of my life.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Luke’s gospel indicates,” Stan replied, “that Herod was really glad to see Jesus, but that it was for the wrong reason.  Just like it was and can be with me.”

“How so?”

“Herod wanted Jesus to perform a miracle.  Luke describes it as a ‘sign’.  Herod didn’t want to know anything about Jesus, he just wanted to be entertained by seeing Jesus do something.”

“Did Jesus do that?” I asked.

“Nope,” Stan replied.  “Jesus didn’t do or say anything.  I think it was because Jesus knew Herod’s heart, that Herod was not sincerely seeking anything Jesus had to offer.  Not unlike me, when I want only what Jesus can do, rather than wanting Him, and Him alone.”

Continuing, he said, “Jesus knew Herod did not believe in Him.  Same thing with me before I came to believe.  Jesus knew I did not believe in Him for who He is.  He knew I only wanted Him to do something for me — and that something did not include my acceptance of what He did with His life, death, and resurrection that provided salvation. I only wanted the shallowness of self-focused things that did not really matter.”

“Even today,” Stan concluded, “if I am not vigilant in my relationship with God the Father through Jesus the Son there is always the possibility that I will not seek Jesus for the sake of seeking Him, but will only ask Him to do a miracle.  He does miracles, but not in accordance with my schedule.”

“I am to seek to know Him, not just to be ‘entertained’ by what He can do for me. After all, remember what Jesus said about eternal life in John 17:3, that it is all about knowing Him and His Father.”

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Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him.  Luke 23:8.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for sending Jesus into the world to provide salvation and a new life through His death and resurrection.  Thank you that you allow me to seek all you have for me in spending eternity with you when it is time, as well as the opportunity to pursue knowing you and Jesus on this side of eternity.  I confess that too often I want only what you provide, rather than wanting you and you alone.  Please forgive me.  And please, Father, help me in following your lead in wanting only you, only Jesus, and only the Holy Spirit.  Help me in being very glad to see you for only what you want 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:

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.