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November 9, 2021 — The Futility of being Angry with God

“I was walking the dog the other day,” Stan commented one morning, “and I saw something in the neighborhood that can have a real impact on people and their relationship with God.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“As I was walking by a vacant lot,” Stan replied, “I saw one of the neighborhood children throwing rocks up in the air. The rocks were coming back down and almost hitting him.”

“What was that all about?” I asked.

“I asked the boy the same thing,” Stan said. “He told me he was mad at God and was throwing rocks at Him.”

“Throwing rocks at God?” I commented. “Doesn’t seem like a very good idea.”

“I told the boy the same thing and asked him why he was mad at God,” Stan replied. “He said he had prayed and prayed, asking God for a new bicycle, but he didn’t get one. And he was mad! Disappointed and mad.”

“That sure seems childish,” I commented.

“Children are supposed to be childish,” Stan said. “But I’ve seen adults do the same thing.”

“Throw rocks at God?”

“Not throwing rocks so much as just being angry with God,” Stan said. “In fact, I had a friend who once got so angry with God that it pretty much destroyed his faith walk.”

“What was that all about?” I asked.

“He was a committed believer who had spent the bulk of his adult life in Christian ministry, but he became ill with a serious disease that really limited what he was able to do physically. He prayed and prayed for God to heal him, but it didn’t happen.”

“Then what?”

“He got really angry at God and he allowed that anger to seriously impact his Christian witness and ministry in ways that pretty much ruined the rest of his life. Not only his life, but the life of his marriage, his family, friends, and most everything. He didn’t finish very well.”

“He’s gone now?” I asked.

“Yes, he passed into eternity a few years ago,” Stan replied.

“Do you think he’s at peace now in God’s eternal presence?” I asked.

“I’ll find out for certain when I get there,” Stan said, “but for now he’s a good bad example of the futility of being angry with God.”

“Kind of like if people throws rocks at God they may come back and hit them.”

“And do some serious damage,” Stan replied rather solemnly.

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Bible verses to consider:

They will say of Me, “Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength,” Men will come to Him, and all who were angry at Him shall be put to shame. Isaiah 45:24.

Why dost Thou stand afar off, O Lord? Why dost Thou hide Thyself in times of trouble? Psalm 10:1.

To keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that out of your love you provide exactly what I need for an ever-deepening personal relationship with you. I confess that too often I think that I know better than you do that which is good for me, and I tend to ignore that you know what is best for me. Please forgive that foolish self-focus and help me in following every step of your lead into knowing that whether or not you give me what I ask for, all you allow in my life is for my good and out of your love. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you ever gotten angry with God? If so, what was that about and what, if anything, did you learn from that experience? Do you agree that “throwing rocks at God” can lead to damaging yourself as well as others? Why or why not? If you know someone who is angry with God, is there a way you can reach out and help that person? What would it look like to help that person?

November 10, 2021 — He said he would rather stay in bed

“As we’ve talked about many times,” Stan commented one morning, “journaling prayers, devotions, and general conversation with God is a passion for me.”

“Because it has made such a difference in your faith walk,” I commented.

“Exactly,” he replied.  “It has made such a difference for me that I would like it for everyone.”

“But you can’t force it,” I said.

“You’re right,” Stan replied. “And earlier this morning as I finished one volume of a journal and began another, I was reminded of a time when I had the opportunity to talk to a fairly large group of people about what I call my journal of the journey.”

“Journal of the journey?” I responded. I thought for a few seconds, and said, “Oh, I remember now, that’s how you refer to what you do each morning.” [Note to Reader: See Day 10,”The Journal of the Journey,” in S. Tory Teller’s, Waiting for the Train – Biblical Food for Growing before Going.]

“That’s it,” Stan said. “That’s what I call my time of journaling prayers, praise, thanksgiving, and conversation with God.”

“How did your talk with the group about that go?” I asked.

“Mixed,” Stan responded. “I think the presentation went well, but the response was not what I hoped for or what I prayerfully expected.”

“How so?” I asked.

“I thought that relating my experience,” Stan said, ”might have encouraged some of the people in the audience to try journaling as a way for them to draw closer to God, but the general response was reflected in what I overheard one person say to another.”

“What was that?”

“In essence,” Stan replied, “what the person said was, ‘that’s fine for him, but not for me; I like to stay in bed in the morning’.”

“Did that bother you?” I asked.

“It did,” Stan replied, “but not in the sense of someone rejecting my suggestion of journaling, but in the sense of a person possibly choosing to reject efforts to draw closer to God.”

“Of course, I could be wrong,” he continued, “but my sense is that if a person chooses not to spend time with God first thing in the morning, it’s likely that the person will choose not to spend any time with God at any point during the day. Life gets busy and time with God gets set aside.”

“If you say that,” I asked, “aren’t you just making someone feel guilty?”

“The point is not to make anyone feel guilty,” Stan replied. “The point is to try to open them to see what God may want to show them by telling them what He has shown me.”

“Kind of like a personal testimony,” I commented.

“That’s a good way to look at it,” Stan replied. “After all, God has granted us salvation as the beginning of a closer walk with Him.  Coming to faith is not the end of the story. I think it’s just the beginning of a closer walk with Him on this side of eternity.”

“Pursuing the eternal life of knowing God the Father and Jesus the Son,” I commented. “Is that what you’re talking about?”

“Exactly,” Stan replied. “And I think that pursuit is important, even essential. If what I or anyone else says makes other people feel guilty and the result is change, great.  If, however, it makes them feel guilty but doesn’t result in any change, they will have to talk with God about that, maybe while they are lying in bed!”

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Bible verses to consider:

And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there. Mark 1:35.

But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5:16.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8.

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 free and gracious gift of salvation and redemption through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thank you, too, that you allow me to draw closer to you in an ever-deepening personal relationship as I choose to pursue knowing you and Jesus. I confess that too often I do not choose to draw closer to you because I do not want to be closer to you.  Please forgive me.  And please help me in following every step of your lead in pursuing the knowledge of you and Jesus in the ever-deepening, ever-closer, relationship you have for me while you keep 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:  God has provided the free and gracious gift of life eternally with Him when our time here is finished. Have you accepted that gift? If no, why? If you do have the assurance of salvation, are you pursuing an ever-depending relationship with Him on this side of eternity? If you sense changes should be made in the way you relate to God, in the way you are pursuing the eternal life of knowing the Father and the Son, how is that going to happen? Do you want it to happen? Why or why not?

November 11, 2021 — Do You Know God or have You just heard about Him?

“I was talking with a neighbor last night,” Stan commented one morning, “and he had an important reminder for me and my faith walk while he was telling me about how he came to faith and has grown from there.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“The importance of knowing, not just hearing,” Stan replied.

“Knowing versus hearing,” I repeated. “How so?”

“As with many people,” Stan said, “my neighbor indicated that he had gone to church most of his life, but he went merely to hear what someone else had to say about God, rather than taking the step of knowing God on his own.”

“Oh,” I replied, “like listening to the pastor talk about God rather than talking to God himself. Didn’t Jesus say something about knowing God being what eternal life is all about?”

“He did,” Stan said. “John records that in the seventeenth chapter of his gospel account of what Jesus had to say while He walked the earth. Jesus said that eternal life is knowing Him and God the Father.”

“And how does a person do that?” I asked.

“Choose,” Stan replied. “Choose to pursue knowing God the Father and Jesus the Son as deeply as humanly possible during the time we have remaining on this side of eternity.”

“Before we board the train to be in God’s eternal presence,” I added.

“That’s it,” Stan replied. “Grow before we go! Grow in an ever-deepening personal relationship of knowing God, really knowing Him, not just listening to what someone else has to say about Him.”

“I can see where that might make a difference,” I commented.

“It’s more than ‘might make a difference,’ my friend,” Stan said rather forcefully. “I believe that such a difference is an absolute certainty if I make the effort to know God rather than just hear about Him!”

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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 nor 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.

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

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for giving Jesus as the way to spend eternity in your presence through acceptance of His finished work on the cross. Thank you, too, for allowing me to pursue the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I do not pursue knowing you as deeply as you desire because that’s what I choose. Please forgive that foolish approach to my walk with you that is intended to be an ever-deepening walk. And please help me in following every step of your lead into the exact personal relationship you intend for me. 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 life eternally with Him when your time here is completed? If no, why? If you do have the assurance of life eternally with God, how are you doing with the eternal life of knowing Him on this side of eternity? Do you take the time to know Him personally rather listening to what someone else may have to say about Him? Can you explain that difference to someone who may ask? If you sense you are being called to a deeper personal relationship with God, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

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The Book.  Waiting for the Train — Biblical Food for Growing Before Going, by S. Tory Teller (Foreword by Josh McDowell) is available at amazon.com and from the publisher at http://www.s-toryteller.com.  It’s a great way to introduce yourself, family, and friends to what Stan and S. Tory Teller talk about concerning discipleship.

November 12, 2021 — Is it Enough to Choose to be a Disciple?

“Back in our old town before we moved here,” Stan began one morning, “I had a friend who came to faith and decided to be a disciple.”

“Great!” I replied. “The church needs disciples. That’s what Jesus said we are to do — make disciples.”

“You’re right,” Stan said, “but it didn’t work out so well for my friend.”

“Why? What happened?”

“It was more about what didn’t happen,” Stan replied.

“In what way?” I asked..

“Choosing to order blueberry pancakes for breakfast is not the same thing as eating them,” Stan said. “There’s a second choice involved. It was the same with my friend. He chose to be a disciple, but he didn’t make the follow-on choices in being a disciple.”

“Oh,” I replied. “Like he didn’t take the three steps that Jesus talked about. Is that it?”

“That’s it,” Stan said. “And it’s the same for me with every step of my faith walk. I can decide that I’m going to do, or not do, such-and-such, but merely deciding without corresponding action doesn’t get the job done.”

Continuing, he added, “People can decide they are going to be disciples, but unless they deny themselves, take up what God has for them to take up, and follow wherever, whenever, and however He leads, they will not be disciples. It simply does not happen by the mere act of making a decision.”

“The decision to be a disciple is just the first step,” I said, “that has to be followed by subsequent steps. Is that what you’re saying?”

“You got it, my friend,” Stan replied. “Merely choosing to be a disciple is not enough!”

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Bible verses to consider:

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

But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, “Son, go work today in the vineyard.” And he answered and said, “I will, sir,” and he did not go. And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, “I will not;” yet he afterward regretted it and went. Which of the two did the will of the father? Matthew 21:28-31.

And why do you call Me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say? Luke 6:46.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. John 14:15.,

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for carefully laying out what you require of me in order to be a disciple of Jesus. Thank you, too, for the truth that making a decision to be a disciple is not the same thing as doing what is required to be a disciple. I confess that too often I do not deny self, I do not take up what you have for me to take up, and I do not follow wherever, however, and whenever you have for me, even though I have said I will. You know, and I know, the reason for that is that I choose not to follow through with my decision. Please help me in following every step of your lead in being the disciple you intend, not just saying that I will be that disciple. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you decided to follow Jesus all the way to heaven in the sense of having the assurance of life eternally with God when it’s time? If no, why? That free and gracious gift is available to be accepted by all. If you do have the assurance of salvation, how are you doing with being a disciple on this side of eternity, not just saying you want to be a disciple? If you sense changes are needed to go beyond choosing to be to actually being, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

November 15, 2021 — Being like John

“I was reading again earlier this morning about John the Baptist,” Stan commented one morning, “and I saw that I’m to be just like him.”

“Just like him?” I replied. “How? Like wandering around in the desert eating bugs and wearing clothes made out of camel’s hair?”

“No,” Stan said, “more like how he was described by another John, the apostle John in his gospel account.”

“And that is what?” I asked.

“The apostle John described John the Baptist as someone who was sent by God to bear witness of Jesus. And it seems to me that the same two things apply to me, as well as to each person self-described as a Christian.”

“Be sent by God?”

“That’s what Jesus said when He was talking about making disciples,” Stan said. “He said to go into the whole world. If that’s not being sent by God, I don’t know what is!”

“And, by definition,” I replied, “I guess that includes being a witness of Jesus.”

“More than a guess, my friend,” Stan said. “It seems to me that’s exactly what Jesus said to do when He said to go into the world, make disciples, and teach them to observe all that He had commanded.”

“Okay,” I responded. “Got it. I’m to be just like John the Baptist.”

“You, me, and the rest,” Stan replied.

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Bible verses to consider:

There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. He came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. John 1:6-8.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you so loved the world, including me, that you sent your only begotten Son so that all who believe can have life eternally with you when it’s time, along with the eternal life of knowing you and your Son on this side of eternity. Thank you, too, for those you sent to tell me the truth so I could accept your free and gracious gift. I confess that too often I do not go into the world as you intend and, as a result, there are those who I don’t tell about you and your every provision. Please forgive me and please help me in following every step of your lead so I do bear witness exactly as you intend. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of the One about Whom I’m to bear witness. Amen.

Think on this: Do you have the assurance of salvation so that you will spend eternity in God’s presence when your time here is done? If no, why? If you do have that assurance, how are you doing in being sent by God to bear witness to the light of Christ? Do you sense you are sent by God? If so, are you going? If you are going are you bearing witness? If you sense some changes may be needed, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

November 16, 2021 — Revival Begins with the Individual

“One of my neighbors,” Stan began one morning, “is part of a church body different from ours. The other day we were talking and he was complaining about his church.”

“What kind of complaining?” I asked.

“He mentioned several things,” Stan replied, “but the bottom-line was that he just thought the church was dead, without any life whatsoever.”

“Wow!” I said. “No life whatsoever. Did you encourage him to change to another church?”

“No, I didn’t,” Stan said, “but I did try to encourage him in a different way.”

“What different way?”

“I encouraged him to pray for revival,” Stan replied.

“Revival?” I said. “As in the whole church suddenly being revived?”

“Not so much that,” Stan said, “more like personal revival that will lead to greater revival.”

“You mean like one person at a time?” I asked.

“I do,” he replied. “While I believe without a doubt that God can do whatever He wants, and if He wants to instantly bring a whole body to revival, He will do so, but I also think that God is more interested in each individual being revived with the life of Christ. As each individual is changed or revived, it will impact the church body.”

“The revival will spread to make a difference in the whole body,” I commented. “Is that what you’re saying?”

“That’s it,” Stan replied. “As individuals change, the body will change. And that will result in changes in personal relationships, changes in the family, the community, the town, city, state, country, as far as you can see!”

“All because of personal revival?”

“I think that’s the only place it can begin,” Stan replied. “People can pray for revival of the church until they’re blue in the face, but unless there’s personal revival, I don’t think much is going to happen!”

“And how do you think there’s going to be personal revival?” I asked.

“How about through being disciples?” Stan replied with a smile. “Seems to me that’s the only way. If each individual is committed to getting self out of the way so personal revival can occur, and if each individual is committed to taking up the personal revival God has to be taken up, and if each individual then goes on to follow wherever, however, and whenever He leads, bingo, you’ve got personal revival. And that’s the beginning of greater revival!”

“As simple as that?” I asked.

“As simple, and as complicated, as that,” Stan responded. “Revival has to begin with the individual. No individual revival, no greater revival.”

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Bible verses to consider:

O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make it known. Habakkuk 3:2.

Wilt Thou not Thyself revive us again, that Thy people may rejoice in Thee? Psalm 85:6.

I came that they may have life, and might have it abundantly, John 10:10.

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

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for providing the way to you in eternity through your Son Jesus. Thank you, too, for the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus in an ever-deepening personal relationship on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I do not continually draw as close to you as is possible and I need to have our relationship renewed, refreshed, and revived. Thank you for awakening me to that need. Please help me in following every step of your lead as you show me all that you have for my personal revival, a revival that you can and will use to help others in their own personal revival. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you been revived for all of eternity in that you will spent it in God’s presence? If no, why? There’s nothing more important! If you do have the assurance of salvation for when your time here is done, how are you doing with your ongoing personal relationship with God in Christ on this side of eternity.? Do you agree that church-wide revival can only start with personal revival? Why or why not? If you sense the need for personal revival that God can use for greater revival in the church, how is that going to happen?

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The book. Waiting for the Train — Biblical Food for Growing Before Going by S. Tory Teller (Foreword by Josh McDowell). Available from Amazon.com and from the publisher at www.s-toryteller.com 

November 17, 2021 — The only Thing that Satisfies God’s desire for Obedience

“I was reading in Matthew’s gospel earlier this morning,” Stan began, “and I saw something that relates to the hypocrites in the church that we have talked about before.”  [Note to reader:  See Day 46 of S. Tory Teller’s, Waiting for the Train—Biblical Food for Growing Before Going, “Why are there so many hypocrites in the church?” www.s-toryteller.com]

“More hypocrites?” I replied with a smile.

“Yeah,” Stan replied, “more hypocrites. But this time with much more serious consequences coming from just saying what I think God wants to hear from me, rather than doing what He has for me to do.”

“In what way?” I responded.

“Jesus was talking about those people who give Him lip service by calling Him ‘Lord,’ but go about doing just what they want to do rather than what God has for them to do.”

“That sounds kind of like ignoring the steps of discipleship,” I ventured.

“You’re getting the hang of this discipleship thing!” Stan said with a laugh.

“And,” he continued, “it’s very similar to where I was when I thought all I had to do was attend a weekly church service and say all of the right things, while then going off and doing whatever I wanted.  I thought the words were sufficient.”

“And they weren’t?” I asked.

Rather than answering directly, Stan said, “While Jesus does not use the words ‘fool’ or ‘foolish’ to describe such behavior, the Holy Spirit sure did with me when He made it clear that what is wanted is obedience, not just words.”

Concluding, he added, “There’s only one thing that satisfies God’s desire for my obedience, and that is my obedience!”

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Bible verses to consider: 

Not every one who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 7:21.

And why do you call Me “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say? Luke 6:46.

If you love Me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15.

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

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you make it clear that there is no substitute for obedience.  Please forgive all of the times I have called you “Lord,” but have chosen to not do what you have for me to do.  Please help me in not just saying empty words to you, but to want to obey what you have for me to be and to do in every instance and in every aspect of my being.  You want my obedience, and I want only to obey.  With your help and my surrender it will happen and I thank you for that.  I also thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this: God does not want to hear our empty words. Do you agree with that? Why or why not? Have you ever been in a situation where you called Him, “Lord,” but didn’t do what He had for you to do? If so, what was that all about? Did you learn anything from it? If you sense there is a need to go beyond saying to doing, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want to have happen? Why or why not?

November 18, 2021 — Living the Lie or Living the Life?

“You ever think about the people who live their lives seemingly without any thought about God?” I asked Stan one morning.

“I do,” Stan replied. “I was there. That was me. I know what it’s like to try to live a life ignoring God. I was there, but now I’m here. I know the difference and I want that same difference for everyone!”

“You think that’s going to happen with everyone?” I asked.

“Probably not,” Stan replied, “but I know if it could happen with me, it could happen with anyone — and that ‘anyone’ is the target audience.  It’s not up to me to know who is going to respond to the gospel, my role is to present the truth that can set people free and leave it in God’s very capable hands in overcoming what I call ‘Living the lie’.”

“Living the lie?” I said. “What’s that?”

“Jesus talked about it in one of His parables about a fool,” Stan replied. “He didn’t exactly use that short-hand expression, but He did talk about the foolishness of the person who only focuses on eating, drinking, and being merry rather than focusing on the life God has for that person to live.”

“Oh,” I said, “the lie of eat, drink, and be merry. The lie of focusing on self and ignoring God. That’s kind of like the opposite of discipleship, isn’t it?”

“Certainly,” Stan replied, “but before people can get to the steps of discipleship, they have to accept by faith God’s free and gracious gift of salvation and redemption for when they step into eternity. Then, and only then, can they begin the steps of discipleship.”

“But,” he continued, “that’s not where the eat, drink, and be merry crowd is located. They are living their life the way they want apart from God. I was there, living the lie, now I’m not. And I want the same thing for them.”

“So,” Stan concluded, “back to your first question.  Yes, I do think about those people who are living their lives apart from God. Not only do I think about them, but I pray for them. Not only do I pray for them, but I take every opportunity that God makes available to tell and show them the fatal flaw of where they are, and what it looks like for where they can be.”

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Bible verses to consider:

And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. Luke 12:19-21.

Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. 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? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring tidings of good things!” Romans 10:13-15.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Romans 10:17.

Jesus therefore was saying to the Jews who had believed in Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for those you brought into my life to bring me to the truth that set me free from living a life that was apart from you. I know that if you could do that with me, you most certainly can do it with anyone. Please help me in speaking and manifesting the truth of your free and gracious provision of life eternally with you, along with the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus, to each “anyone” you bring before me. Please help me in helping them to see, accept, and embrace the truth that will set them free. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this: Have you been set free by the truth of God’s free and gracious provision of life eternally with Him when it’s time? If no, why? What’s in the way of accepting by faith what is available? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing in telling others so they can and will have the same thing? As well as you would like? As well as God would like? If you sense changes are in order, how are those changes going to happen? 

November 19, 2021 — Changing Laughter into Laughter of Joy

“You ever have anyone laugh at you because of your faith?” I asked Stan one morning.

“More times than I can count,” he replied, “especially when I first came to faith.”

“How do you handle that?” I asked.

“Then or now?” he asked.

“Is there a difference?”

“Sure is.  When I first came to faith and people laughed at me for what I said I believed, I was more embarrassed than anything.  I wasn’t sufficiently mature in my faith to really have a response, so I usually didn’t respond. I just kept away from those people.”

“However,” he continued, “as I have matured in my faith, I am secure in what I believe and I’m  able to share my story with those people.”

“Your personal testimony?” I asked. “Is that what you mean?”

“That’s it,” Stan replied. “I’ve found that people can’t really argue with my personal experience. They may not believe it and certainly may not understand, but that’s as it is. My role is to tell the truth in love. They may continue to laugh, but that doesn’t bother me, just like it didn’t bother Jesus.”

“Didn’t bother Jesus?” I responded. “What do you mean? Did some people laugh at Him?”

“Sure did,” Stan said. “There’s a story in Luke’s gospel about a man named Jairus who asked Jesus to heal his sick daughter, but before Jesus could reach the daughter, Jarius was told that his daughter had died. Nevertheless, Jesus went to Jarius’ house where there was a whole bunch of people weeping and lamenting for the daughter. Jesus told them to stop weeping because the girl wasn’t dead, but was just sleeping. That’s when they laughed at Jesus.”

“Why did they laugh?” I asked.

“It says they laughed because they knew the girl had died, and by implication that they knew it was the end of the story.”

“But it wasn’t?”

“It was not,” Stan replied. “It says that Jesus took the girl’s hand and said, ‘Child, arise!’ And she did. She rose up immediately.”

“Did the people quit laughing at that point?” I asked.

“It doesn’t say that,” Stan said. “It just records that the girl’s parents were amazed, but I can just imagine what the people thought when they saw the girl walking around. They probably thought they laughed for the wrong reason, and that’s my prayer for all of the people who may laugh at anyone for what they believe.”

“Wrong reason?” I replied, “How so?”

“My prayer,” he replied, “is that their laughter will change from laughter at the person into laughter of joy because they, too, have come to realize they didn’t know as much as they thought, and have come to believe and accept the truth of God’s free and gracious gift of salvation and redemption!”

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Bible verses to consider:

Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, “Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him, knowing that she had died. Luke 8:52-53.

And when Jesus came into the official’s house, and saw the flute-players, and the crowd in noisy disorder, He began to say, “Depart; for the girl is not dead, but is asleep.” And they were laughing at Him. Matthew 9:23-24.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. Galatians 6:7.

Immediately the boy’s father cried out and began saying, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for building in me the faith to believe all you have for me to believe. I confess that there have been too many times when my belief in what you say was less than what you wanted when, in essence, I laughed at the possibility that I did not know what was best on my own. Please forgive that foolishness. Please help me in following every step of your lead into the deepest possible faith so I truly believe, accept, and embrace all you have for me, both for eternal purposes for when my time here is done, and for the life you have for me to live before then. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Can you relate to the story of the people who laughed at Jesus because they thought they knew more than He did about the situation? Have you ever laughed at another person’s statement of faith? If so, what was that all about? Have you come to faith so that you are in the position of being laughed at by those who don’t know the truth of your faith? If so, is your faith strong enough to be able to handle being laughed at? If you sense you need better preparation, how is that going to happen?

November 22, 2021 — It’s Raining; It’s Pouring. Are You Snoring?

“Did you see or hear that rain storm that passed through about five o’clock this morning?” Stan asked.

“No,” I replied, “I was still asleep, but I did see the rain puddles on the way here.”

“Yeah,” Stan said, “lots of rain puddles. There actually was another shower just as I parked the car and was walking here. I saw some children having a great time jumping in the puddles and singing that Mother Goose rhyme about it raining and pouring.”

“And the old man is snoring,” I added. “Kind of like me when I was asleep during the rain storm earlier this morning!”

“Kind of like a lot of us when we sleep through God’s pouring out,” Stan responded.  “At least for me, way too often!”

“God’s pouring out,” I repeated. “What does God pour out that I might be sleeping through?”

“Big subject,” Stan replied. “One that is at the heart of Christianity, what it means to be a Christian, and everything that is involved in our relationship with God. But in a nutshell I think it’s what discipleship is all about.”

“A rainstorm, a nursery rhyme, and discipleship,” I said. “How do you tie those together?”

“It seems to me,” Stan replied, “that everything about my faith walk, everything to do with discipleship, revolves around seeing who God is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He wants to do in and through me. And that all concerns His pouring out.”

“And,” he continued, “it’s too easy for me to sleep rather than be involved with what God has for me to be and do in being a disciple.”

“Let me see if I get this,” I replied. “The first step of discipleship, that of denying self, would be like not sleeping through what God has for me. The second step, of taking up what God has for me to take up, would be like waking up to what he has for me.”

“You got it, my friend,” Stan said. “And the third step is following Him wherever, however, and whenever He wants.”

“Even during a rainstorm?” I asked.

“Even during, and maybe especially in, a rainstorm,” he replied.

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Bible verses to consider:

“Drip down, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down righteousness; let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, and righteousness spring up with it. I the Lord, have created it.” Isaiah 45:8.

And it will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, and old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. Joel 2:28. (Repeated by the apostle Peter in Acts 2:15-17.)

And when He (Jesus) rose from prayer, He came to His disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:45-46.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you have poured out all that you have for me. You gave your only Son to provide the way for me to have life eternally with you when it’s time, and you have provided the way for me to know you and Jesus in an ever-deepening personal relationship before then. You have poured out your Spirit on me and on all who believe. I confess that too often I sleep though what you have poured out, what you have for me to be and to do. I sleep because I choose to not be awake to you. Please forgive me of that foolishness. And please help me in following every step of your lead so I accept, receive, and embrace all you have poured out for me as well as all you keep pouring out. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you accepted all that God has poured out for you, both in terms of life eternally with Him when it’s time and in terms of pursuing the eternal life of knowing Him and Jesus on this side of eternity? If you sense changes are needed in waking up to all that God has for you, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?