Stories. That seems to be my theme these days. Stories that came from the pulpit a long time ago and embedded themselves in my heart. Stories that helped me understand the Word of God and it's principles.
Jesus knew that young Christians needed stories to help them understand His truths. He told lots of stories. The Bible calls them parables. God knows that His thoughts are not my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9), and lately He's been helping me to understand that in a way that I didn't as a younger Christian. Even now, nearly fifty years later. I'm just so much more aware of it now. And I try to keep that in mind when I wrestle with what the Lord wants from me. And for me. I've learned to listen more and think less. My thinking messes things up. His ways are past finding out. (Romans 11:33)
Anyway, here is another story that has been very helpful throughout my life. I first heard it from the pulpit back in the eighties. I've taught it often. I just did a little research and it seems that Billy Graham told a similar story in a book he wrote in 1978. My version of it goes something like this:
An old, salty fisherman from a remote village near the sea would come into town every Saturday to purchase supplies. With him he always brought his two dogs. They were large dogs, gnarled and scarred, and he had taught them to fight each other on command. Every Saturday afternoon the old fisherman and the dogs would go to the town square and many people would gather. The fisherman would take bets and then command the dogs to have at it. The dogs fought and the people cheered. Sometimes the one dog would win, and then other times the other dog would win. But the fisherman always won, and went away with a pocketful of cash every Saturday. His friends in his village by the sea asked him how he did that. How did he always know which dog would win the fight? His reply: "All during the week I starve one dog and feed the other. No doubt by Saturday, the stronger dog will win."
This story is huge in the life of a Christian. We have two natures within us- our old nature by birth, and the Holy Spirit of God, who we receive when we trust Christ. And every day there is an inner struggle. A battle. It is warfare, and the fight is one that only you control. We talked about Galatians 5:17 on the 'Home' page. Galatians 5:25 tells us, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Just read all of Galatians, chapter five. And Romans, chapter seven. And Luke 16:13. :)
Which dog do we feed?
We feed the Spirit of God (also called 'the new man' and 'the inward man') by praying and thinking on the things of God. By reading His Word and sitting under good preaching. By singing hymns and spiritual songs. By practicing His presence.
We feed the old nature (also called 'the flesh' and 'the outward man') with everything else. All of the noise and junk of this world. It's everywhere. We can't completely control our exposure to it. But we can limit what we choose on purpose. Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see (...and ears, what you hear; ...and feet, where you go; ...and brain, what you think).
I know to the worldly heart, even as a Christian, these things that feed the Spirit do not sound all that appealing. I do know. I've been there. But push past that, and you will learn to love the things of God and yearn for them like the air that you breathe. And you'll want them with all of your heart. On a good day, anyway.
There is another story that goes with this one. It's about a tiger. Another day. :)
But for today, I'll just ask you as I ask myself. What dog will we feed today? And which one will we starve?
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