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June 8, 2021 — Telling the Truth Whether or not They Believe

“Some time back,” Stan began, “I got a registered letter.  I had to go to the post office and sign for it as proof that I got it.”

“I remember that,” I said. “You used that letter to make a point about whether there is evidence of having received the Holy Spirit. [Note to reader: See Posting number 81, “Proof of Receipt”.]

“That’s right,” Stan replied. “Good remembering!”

“Not that it’s any of my business,” I said, “but you never told me what that registered letter was all about.”

“Well, “ Stan replied, “it was a notice for me to testify about a car crash I had witnessed.  As you know, these things take a long time. Today is the day I’m supposed to go to court and testify.”

“Are you concerned?” I asked.

“About testifying? No, I’m not concerned about it. I will just say what I saw.  One party or the other may try to get me to change what I say, but I know what I saw.  I will just tell the truth.”

Continuing, he added, “It’s  just like the personal testimony of my Christian witness.  I am to tell people what I know to be the truth.”

“We have talked about the value of having a personal testimony,” I responded.  “How it can really impact another person to hear what we have to say about how we came to faith, what our faith means to us, and things like that.”

“Exactly,” Stan replied. “Other people can accept or reject what I say, but I know it’s the truth, and I am to tell them whether or not they believe.”

“Didn’t the apostle John in his gospel write something along that line?” I asked.

“He did,” Stan replied. “Near the end of his gospel he said that the reason he wrote what he did was so that people would believe, and believing that they would have life.”

“Believing to have life,” I responded. “That’s a vital truth. But I wonder, does it ever hurt your feelings when people don’t accept what you say as the truth?”

“No,” Stan replied.  “That’s up to them.  I feel badly for them, but whether or not they believe is not up to me. My role is simply to tell the truth. Just like when I go to court today. I will tell the truth, but it’s not up to me whether the judge, the jury, or anyone else believes what I say.”

“With God,” he continued, “each person has a choice to believe or not to believe.  I feel badly for those who do not accept the truth and miss out on everything they could have by believing.  Everything for both sides of eternity, but that’s their choice, not mine.”

“My role,” Stan concluded, “is simply to tell the truth and leave the rest in God’s very capable hands!”

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Bible verses to consider:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. John 14:6.

If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. John 8:31-32.

And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.  John 19:35.

Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:30-31.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for showing me the truth of your love, grace, and mercy.  Thank you for the truth of being able to spend eternity with you by accepting through faith your free and gracious gift of eternal salvation.  All through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Thank you for leaving me on this side of eternity so I can testify to the truth so that others may believe.  I confess that too often I do not take advantage of every opportunity to present to others the truth of all of your provision.  Please help me in living and speaking the truth in every aspect of my life so that others may also see, believe, and have the life you intend for them on both sides of eternity. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the precious name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this: Have you accepted the truth of God’s provision so that you have the assurance of spending eternity in His presence when it’s time? If no, why? If you do have the assurance of salvation, how are you doing in presenting to others the truth of God’s provision for them? As well as you would like? As well as God would like? If you sense some changes may be needed, how are those changes going to happen? Does the fear of rejection keep you from sharing the truth? If so, do you know that God can and will help you with that if you ask Him?

June 9, 2021 — Stuck

“I was walking the dog the other day,” Stan commented one morning “and I saw a neighbor’s truck sitting in his driveway.  It was a mess.”

“In what way?” I asked.

“You would’t have believed the mud.  The whole thing looked like it had been in a big mud fight and lost!”

“What was that all about?”

“As I was standing there wondering the same thing,” Stan replied, “my neighbor came out. He was pulling a garden hose and carrying a bucket of soapy water. I asked him what had happened.”

Continuing, he added, “He said he had been on his way to a camping get-away up in the wilderness area east of Weston.  He said he came upon a sign that cautioned about a muddy road ahead, but figured that wouldn’t be a problem with his four-wheel drive truck.”

“But it was a problem?” I asked.

“Seems so,” Stan replied.  “My neighbor said that about half-way though a real muddy spot he got stuck.  He couldn’t go forward and he couldn’t back up.  The wheels just kept spinning, throwing mud all over the place.”

“Then what?”

“Well, after giving up trying to get the truck unstuck on his own, he was finally able to call someone to help.  He said the cell service was real weak and he had a hard time, but he finally got someone.  But it took just about forever for the tow truck to get there and get him unstuck.  By then, it was too late to go camping so he headed back home.”

“In a real dirty truck!” I commented.

“That’s it,” Stan replied, “and his whole adventure reminds me of an essential part of a person’s faith walk, including my own.”

“In what way?”

“Being stuck. I call it being ‘stuck on conversion’.”

“Stuck on conversion? What’s that mean?”

“Well,” Stan responded, “it’s real easy to get the ticket on the train to glory.  It just has to be accepted by faith as God’s free and gracious gift of salvation. However, as we’ve talked about before, that’s not the end of the story.  It’s just the beginning, but too many people don’t do anything other than clutch their ticket.  They’re stuck. Stuck on conversion.”

“What are they supposed to do?” I asked.

“Be transformed.”

“Into what?”

“The image of Christ.”

“How?”

“By getting unstuck and becoming disciples through the three steps of discipleship,” Stan replied. “Deny self, take up what I am to take up, and follow.”

“Will that help a person from getting stuck on conversion?”

“I believe so,” Stan replied. “And I also believe that keeping from getting stuck is a life-long process. Not in the sense of losing my salvation, but in the sense of missing steps in being transformed. But when I do get stuck like that, there’s a solution. It’s kind of like calling the Holy Spirit and asking Him to show up with His tow truck. He will get me unstuck. Then it’s time to get home and clean up the mess.”

“By confessing and repenting?” I asked.

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

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Bible verses to consider:

And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.  1 Corinthians 15:49.

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.  Romans 8:29-30.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your free and gracious gift of salvation and redemption through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Thank you, too, that you want me to draw ever closer to you in a personal relationship where I am manifesting the image of Jesus in and through the life you have given me to live on this side of eternity.  I confess that too often I fail to manifest what you have for me to manifest.  I do that because I choose to manifest myself apart from you.  Please forgive me, and please help me to follow every step of your lead as you seek to lead me from conversion into an ever-deeper transformational personal relationship with you.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this:  Have you accepted God’s free and gracious gift of salvation by faith so that you are converted? If no, why?  If you do have the assurance of salvation, how are you doing with the part about being transformed into the image of Christ?  As well as you would like?  As well as God would like?  If you sense there is something lacking, would you like to change that?  Why or why not?  If you want transformation, how is that going to happen?  Can you do it on your own? Whose help do you need and how are you going to get it?

June 10, 2021 — Revival One at a Time

“We had dinner at the Good Fortune Chinese Restaurant again last night,” Stan commented.

“And I bet you have something to say about the fortune you got in the cookie,” I responded with a laugh.

“You’re getting to know me pretty well,” Stan replied.  “The fortune in the cookie is one I have seen lots of times before, but it is always one that causes me to focus on its truth for my faith walk.”

“What did it say?”

Stan pulled the little piece of paper out of his pocket. “Listen to this,” he said. “It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.”

I thought for a couple of moments. “You’re right,” I said, “lots of application to lots of things, including my faith walk.”

“Indeed,” Stan replied. “What struck me about this fortune this time is its application to the whole notion of revival.”

“Revival? You mean like revival in the church, more people coming to faith?”

“Well, certainly that,” Stan replied, “but I was thinking more about personal revival.”

“Personal revival? How so?”

“It seems to me,” Stan said, “that there can’t be revival in the church without each individual person experiencing revival. I don’t think we will see any revival in the church until it begins with a single individual and goes on to another, and on and on.”

“No big sweeping revival,” I replied, “is that what you’re saying?”

“Well,” Stan replied, “God can, of course, do what He wants.  If He wants a big sweeping revival, that’s what we are going to get.  However, it is one at a time. One small candle in the darkness of one person’s life and then the next and the next. Going from revival with one to revival with as many as God has in mind.”

“Didn’t Jesus say something about rejoicing in heaven over a single person?” I asked.

“He did,” Stan replied. “He was talking about the joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. He went on to say something about that in connection with those not needing to repent, but that’s another subject for another day. Just take it for now that I know I am in need of constant repentance.”

“That kind of reminds me,” I said, “of the story about the child picking up starfish on the beach and throwing them back in the ocean.  The one about the old grump who told her there were too many to make any difference.  She picked up one, threw it back, and said that it made a difference to that one.”

“Exact same thing,” Stan said. “I can’t, and you can’t, fix everything or everyone, but we can do our part in lighting the small candle to disperse the darkness in one life at a time.”

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Bible verses to consider:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16.

I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:7.

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for sending the light of Jesus into the world to provide the way to spend eternity in your presence when it’s time. Thank you, too, that you want me to be a light into the darkness of this world, a light that can make a difference in the eternal destination and life before then in another person. I confess that too often I am not the light you intend because I choose not to be that light. Please forgive me. Please help me in following every step of your lead so I am the exact light you intend for me to be, shining into whatever darkness you want. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you accepted the light of Christ so that you have the assurance of salvation? If no, why? What is standing in the way of accepting God’s free and gracious gift of salvation and redemption by faith? If you have the assurance of salvation, how are you doing with being the light of the world you are intended to be, shining the light you have been given into the darkness of the world? If you sense that some changes may be needed, how are those changes going to happen? Is that something you want? Why or why not?

June 11, 2021 — Choosing to Enter Life

“Do you remember,” Stan asked me one morning, “when we have talked about what Jesus said to do with things that cause us to stumble?”

“You mean,” I replied, “where He talked about tearing my eye out or cutting off a hand or foot, if they cause me to stumble?”

“That’s it,” Stan responded.

“I do remember,” I replied, “and I have to admit that those words of Jesus have always caused me more than a little discomfort.”

“I know what you mean,” Stan said, “tough words to make the point about if something is going to cause me to stumble, don’t look, don’t touch, and don’t go there.”

“Last night,” he continued, “I was given an opportunity to learn something new about this from my next-door neighbor who was telling me about a pastor’s message that focused on the reason we are to avoid stumbling, as well as the same reason we are to do whatever is necessary to avoid stumbling.”

“What reason is that?” I asked.

“So we can enter life,” Stan replied.

“Enter life?”

“Yeah,” he said, “my neighbor pointed out that Jesus was talking about the importance of entering life without the things that cause stumbling, whatever those things may be.”

“What kind of life?” I asked.

“There are only two kinds of life that matter,” Stan said. “Life eternally with God when it’s time, as well as the eternal life of knowing God the Father and Jesus the Son before then.”

“Having those two kinds of life are a choice, is that the point?” I asked.

“That’s what it seems to me,” Stan replied. “Jesus used some tough talk to make the point that I have choices to make when it comes to choosing the life He has for me. Eliminating some of those things may cause some temporary pain, but that short-term pain is nothing compared to the long-term pain of being separated from God for eternity. Or the pain of being separated from what He has for me before then.”

“And it’s all a matter of choosing what to eliminate in order to enter the life God has for me?”

“You got it, my friend,” Stan replied. “It’s all about choice.”

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Bible verses to consider:

And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than having your two feet, to be cast into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell. Mark 9:43-47.

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

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

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your provision of life eternally with you when it’s time, as well as the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus before then. Thank you, too, for the truth that for me to have the life you intend for me that there are choices involved.  I confess that too often I do not choose the life you intend for me.  I do that because I choose a life apart from you.  Please help me to follow every step of your lead in eliminating all that is in my life that causes me to stumble and walk apart from you.  I want only to walk in an ever-deepening, ever-closer personal relationship with you.  Please help me.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this: Life on both sides of eternity involves choices. Have you chosen to spend eternity in God’s presence when it’s time? If no, why? Do you know it is a free and gracious gift that just needs to be accepted by faith?  What might be in the way? If you have the assurance of redemption and salvation for eternal purposes, how are you doing with making the choices to eliminate from your life things that interfere with a closer walk with God while you wait for the train? As well as you would like? As well as God would like? If you sense improved choices are required, how is that going to happen?

June 14, 2021 — The Menu

As Ricky poured our coffee, he asked, “What are you guys going to have this morning, your usual?”

“I would like to look at the menu,” Stan replied.  “Maybe I’ll have something different this morning.”

“I’ll be right back with the menus,” Ricky said as he hurried away.

“That surprises me,” I said to Stan. “You almost always have the blueberry pancakes.”

“I know,” Stan replied, “but I thought it might be good to see if something else appeals to me this morning.”

“Well,” I replied, “I know I’m going to have what I always have. No need to mix it up for me!”

Stan was quiet for a moment. “You know,” he replied, “what you just said is a good point for my faith walk.”

“How so?”

“Each day presents a variety of choices,” he replied. “A menu of choices, if you will. God presents a menu for me to look at and decide what choices I’m going to make.”

“I bet Satan does also,” I commented.

“Safe bet,” Stan replied.  “And his menu is the one I have to watch out for. His menu, along with the menus of the world, the flesh, and, of course, self.”

“All kinds of menus, with all kinds of choices,” I said.  “Probably a pretty good idea to stick to God’s menu, what He has for me.”

“You, my friend,” Stan exclaimed, “are a master of understatement! Of course, it’s better to stick to the usual, assuming my ‘usual’ is God’s menu. No need to be examining any other choices.  There’s only danger lurking there.”

Just then Ricky returned with the menus.  “Thanks,” Stan said to him, “but I’m going to stick with my usual. Bring me some of those fabulous blueberry pancakes!”

“Me, too,” I said to Ricky.

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Bible verses to consider:

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

Or do you not know that your body is a 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.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your provision of life eternally with you when it’s time. Thank you, too, for allowing me to pursue knowing you and Jesus in an ever-deepening relationship while you keep me on this side of eternity. I acknowledge that there are lots of choices in how I live the life you have given me to live, and I confess that too often I make choices that are contrary to you.  Please forgive those wrong choices. Please help me in choosing only to follow you and what you have for me, not what self, the world, the flesh, and the devil have for me to follow apart from you. 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 salvation, having accepted by faith God’s free and gracious gift? If no, why? What is holding you back? If you do have the assurance of spending eternity in God’s presence when it’s time, how are you doing with all of the different “menus” you are presented with each day, “menus” as to how to live your life while you wait for the train? If you sense that you may need to make changes in which menus you are looking at and choosing from, how are those changes going to happen? Do you want those changes to happen? Why or why not?

June 15, 2021 — Keep Going

“One of my friends at work,” I mentioned to Stan one morning, “is really feeling low. It seems that everything he does or tries to do is being attacked on every side by Satan.”

“Is he a believer?” Stan asked.

“Very definitely,” I replied. “He has strong faith in knowing where he’s going when his time here is finished. As well, he is serious about pursing the eternal life of knowing God the Father and Jesus the Son on this side of eternity.”

“But he feels under attack by Satan?” Stan asked.

“He does,” I replied, “and there are times when it’s difficult for me to encourage him.”

“I’ve been in that situation many times,” Stan replied, “and I have found it helpful to pass along something Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the Second World War, had to say on the subject.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Winston Churchill is reported to have said, “When you are going through hell, keep going.”

“Keep going,” I replied, “as in not getting stuck under Satan’s influence?”

“Exactly,” Stan said. “Satan just loves to pull us down and get us to focus on how difficult he can make things seem. It’s like he wants us get stuck on him, rather than focusing on what God has us to focus on, which is God and His every provision.”

“So,” I replied, “when Satan is trying to pull me down to focus on how difficult things can seem to be, I am to keep going, not stop where he wants me to be. Is that what you’re saying?”

“That’s it, my friend,” Stan said. “And God has provided all I need to keep going and not get bogged down.”

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Bible verses to consider:

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your provision of everything I need for both sides of eternity. You allowed me to accept by faith your free and gracious provision of life eternally with you when it is time. And you allow me to pursue the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus in an ever-deepening personal relationship. Thank you. I confess that too often I allow myself to be pulled down by the evil one, pulled down to where he wants me to focus on how difficult he can seem to make things for my walk in and with you.  Please, Father, help me in not getting stuck in that way, but to follow every step of your lead to exactly where you want me to be in total reliance on you and your provision. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Can you relate to being pulled down by Satan and how important it is go keep going and not get stuck there? Why or why not? Do you think that keeping going in that kind of situation is easier said than done, more wishful thinking than reality? If you feel that, and also sense that you need to focus differently, how is that different focus going to happen? Is that something you would like to see happen in your life? Why or why not?

June 16, 2021 — Making it Important to You

“Some neighbors,” Stan began one morning, “celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary last weekend with a dinner they had at their home. They were kind enough to invite us.”

“Wow!” I responded. “Fifty years. That’s kind of unusual these days.”

“That’s true,” Stan replied. “And at one point during the dinner, the husband offered a perspective on that.”

“In what way?”

“He gave a little talk about something they, as a couple, had learned early on in their marriage that had a positive impact. As well, he gave a great testimony of how the same thing applies to a person’s faith walk, including mine.”

“Tell me about it,” I replied.

“The husband said that when they were first married, he spent too much time focusing on himself and what he wanted. He came to realize the importance of approaching everything with his wife from the standpoint that if it was important to her, he made sure it was important to him as well.”

“If it’s important to her, it’s important to him,” I repeated.  “Good lesson.”

“At that point,” Stan replied, “the wife interjected and said that she had learned the same approach to him and that it had done wonders for their relationship with one another.”

“Kind of like the ‘deny self’ part of discipleship,” I commented.

“Exactly,” Stan replied, “and that was the next point that the neighbor made in his little talk. He said that as important as that attitude was in his relationship with his wife, it was even more crucial in his relationship with God.”

“How so?” I asked.

“If something is important to God, he makes certain it’s important to him.  And it’s supposed to be the same for me, although I’m not real good at that too much of the time.”

“Did your neighbor shed any light on how he keeps that focus, both on his wife and on God?”

“He did,” Stan replied.  “He put it in terms of knowing her and in knowing God.  Without taking the time to listen to what’s important to either one of them, there’s little chance he’s going to know what’s important and how to respond.”

“Didn’t Jesus say something about eternal life being about knowing Him and His Father?”

“He did,” Stan replied. “We’ve talked about that before and we will probably talk about it again because it’s important.  Once a person has the assurance of spending eternity in God’s presence, that person is to spend the rest of the time on this side of eternity pursuing knowing God the Father and Jesus the Son in an ever-deepening personal relationship.”

“That knowledge,” he concluded, “has the potential to impact everything I think, say, and do while I wait for the train, including making what’s truly important the top priority!”

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Bible verses to consider:

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

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

Let marriage be held in honor among all, . . . Hebrews 13:4.

Consequently they (husband and wife) are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate. Matthew 19:6.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you considered me important enough to send your Son into the world so that I could believe and have life eternally with you when it’s time. Thank you for those who brought me to that truth, as well as to the truth of being allowed to pursue the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus. Thank you, too, that you, through your word and the voice of the Holy Spirit, let me know what you consider to be important. Please help me in following every step of your lead in making what’s important to you important to me, knowing that what you make important to other people is also to be important to me. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: What’s important to God is to be important to you. Do you agree with that? Why or why not? Is the opposite true, that what’s important to you is supposed to agree with what’s important to God? If so, how are you doing with that? How about in making important to you what God makes important to other people in your life? If you sense changes may be in order, do you want to make those changes? If so, how are those changes going to happen?

June 17, 2021 — What to do when you don’t feel like praying

“You ever have times when you didn’t or don’t feel like praying?”  I asked Stan one morning.

“I can’t tell you how many times that’s been the case,” he replied, “but the answer is clearly ‘Yes.’  There have been many times when I just didn’t or I don’t feel like praying.”

“What do you do about that?” I asked.

“Pray,” he said.

“Pray?” I replied. “You pray when you don’t feel like praying? How does that make any sense?”

“It has to do with what I see to be the purpose of praying,” Stan responded.  “To me, the purpose of prayer is to know what’s on God’s heart and mind so that the same things will be on and in my mind and heart. I see prayer as a continuation of the process of pursuing the eternal life of knowing God the Father and Jesus the Son.”

“As Jesus laid out in John 17:3?” I asked.

“Exactly,” Stan replied. “And,” he continued, “when I view praying in this light, and when I look to see who doesn’t want me to know God more deeply, it’s a pretty easy step to frankly admit to God that I’m having a hard time praying right now. I ask Him to draw me close and open me to see all He has for me to see about Him. I ask Him to help me in resisting the one who is trying to tempt me to keep from praying.”

“You think Satan tempts people to not pray?”

“Without a doubt,” Stan replied.  “Satan is in the business of trying to keep me from God and God’s will for every aspect of my life. He lost the battle for my soul when by faith I accepted God’s free and gracious gift of life eternally with Him when it’s time, but Satan doesn’t give up on trying to impact my relationship with God before then.”

“Just as with every other of Satan’s temptations,” Stan added, “I am to resist his temptation to not pray by praying. When I do that, Satan flees and God has a clear shot at placing on my mind and in my heart what He wants.”

“So, my friend,” he concluded, “when you don’t feel like praying, that’s the time above all times when I think you should pray!”

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Bible verses to consider:

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:7-8.

In addition to all, (take) up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all of the flaming missiles of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you allow me to come before you in prayer to find out what is on your mind and heart so that those same things will be placed in me.  I confess that too often I do not come to you in prayer because I allow Satan to keep me from wanting to pray.  Please help me to come before you in prayer at all times, but especially when I am being tempted to not pray. That is the exact time I need to come before you in prayer more than ever, and I ask for you help in wanting to draw closer to you in all things, but especially in prayer. Thank you I can and do bring these and all prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: What do you do when you don’t feel like praying? Do you agree that when you don’t feel like praying, that is when prayer is needed the most? Why or why not? Who does not want you to pray? What do you see as the reason to come before God in prayer? Is prayer an important part of your life as a Christian? Why or why not? If you sense the need for a deeper relationship with God through prayer, how is that going to happen?

June 18, 2021 — Work it Out

“Do you remember,” Stan asked me one morning, “when we talked about the Holy Trinity and the other three-part things that can get in the way of walking the path God intends?”

“I do,” I responded.  “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the Holy Trinity.  The other two you mentioned were ‘the world, the flesh, and the devil,’ along with ‘Me, myself, and I’.” [Note:  See Posting Number 64, “The Wrong Trinity”.]

“Well done, my friend,” Stan replied.  Continuing, he added, “I was in James’ letter earlier this morning and was touched by another statement about three parts that are essential to my walk with God.”

“What three parts?” I asked.

“Conversion, transformation, and works,” Stan replied. “And be sure to note that they are to occur in that order.  There can’t be transformation until there is conversion, and the works are to follow as a natural consequence of the process of the transformational walk towards spiritual maturity.”

“What about the idea of ‘working my way to heaven’?” I asked.

“Can’t happen,” Stan replied.  “Salvation is the free and gracious gift from God through the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross. There’s nothing that can be done to earn salvation. Either accept it or don’t have it!”

“However,” he continued, “as we have talked about before, and will probably talk about again because it’s important, conversion is not the end of the story.  It’s just the beginning.  Because I have the assurance of salvation, the knowledge that I’m going to spend eternity with God when my time here is done, something is to follow that assurance.”

“And what’s that ‘something’ supposed to be?” I asked.

“Transformation leading towards spiritual maturity,” Stan replied.  “And a part of that transformation is supposed to include works.”

“Works?” I said, “What do you mean?”

“Doing what and being who God intends as the reason He’s leaving me on this side of eternity.”

“While you wait for the train,” I commented.

“Exactly,” Stan replied. “I don’t think God has left me on this side of eternity just so I can sit around and think about how great it’s going to be to spend eternity with Him.  No, I don’t think that’s what salvation is all about.  Life eternally with God when it is time, yes, but there’s much to be and to do before then.”

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Bible verses to consider:

Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.  James 2:17.

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17.

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the free and gracious gift of salvation through the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross.  And thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit to live in me to help me on the path towards transformation and spiritual maturity.  Thank you for the truth that being who and doing what you intend is an essential part of transformation.  I confess that too often I focus on what I want to be and to do apart from you, rather than being fully surrendered to you and to your leading.  Please help me in following your lead in working out the salvation that you have worked in. 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 salvation by having accepted by faith God’s free and gracious gift? If no, why? What is standing in the way? What does “working out the salvation that has been worked in” mean to you? In other words, how would you explain to someone the difference between working out salvation and working for salvation? If you think you understand, how are you doing with that “working out”? If you sense changes may be necessary for that, how are those changes going to happen?