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After years of owning used cars—dealing with surprise breakdowns on busy streets and highways, being stranded, and scrounging for money for car repairs and maintenance—we were finally able to buy a "new" car. It was new to us and we felt blessed indeed.

It was a 1994 Taurus and we bought it late summer of 1995, so it had already depreciated two years before we drove it off the lot. But it was "new" and came with full warranty at an excellent price, and for several years we enjoyed its many amenities.

Then one summer the air conditioner went out. We live in central Florida, where this is a must-have—not a luxury. Based on past experiences we believed the dealership would charge too much money for repairs, so we opted to have an acquaintance look at it. He recommended a friend and together they worked on the repairs. They were veteran auto mechanics and although we paid a substantial sum, we thought we were being frugal because it was better than "what the dealer would charge." We were satisfied that we were being good stewards and made the right decision.

The repairs, however, lasted only one week and since we could not afford additional repairs we were without air conditioning for the remainder of that summer. We drove it that way for another year and a half, come rain or shine. After all, we were used to making do with what we had. At the end of that time, I managed to convince my husband to allow the dealer to at least look at it for a diagnosis and estimated cost of repair. What did we have to lose?

My husband had originally refused to go to the dealer because he knew the cost would be prohibitive and air conditioning would not be covered under the warranty. But he agreed to give it a try and took it to the dealer at last. He also took our warranty with him in case it helped in some way.

The dealer knew exactly what to do. The mechanics quickly went to work to replace and restore, renew and recharge everything that was needed. Cost? Absolutely nothing. The unit had been under full warranty the whole time. All we had to do was bring it in and show the warranty. They would do the rest.

What a relief and what a lesson we learned that day! If we hadn't been so quick to assume what we imagined instead of researching the facts, we could have been enjoying the benefits of our guarantee for years, without paying another dime. It was all part of the package.

How like our Christian walk sometimes! When we try to apply what we experienced in the past to our current situation without looking at the guarantee or consulting the "manual," we risk closing our minds to what God has freely made available to us.

How often do we go through life following our old patterns of behavior just because it's what we have been used to doing? We scrounge around trying to fix what only God can fix instead of appropriating what He has already freely made available to us. Have you ever done that?

If we had only read the warranty and checked the "manual" we could have been riding in comfort instead of sweltering heat for over two years. Ignorance is not bliss!

God has given us valuable guarantees. We just need to know what they are and how to appropriate them. We cannot rely on our past experiences even if they have been valuable because this is a new day with new challenges and new solutions.

Let's make it a point this year to research God's "manual" and read the guarantees. Let's rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth as we read. It is only then that we will know what we've been guaranteed and can embrace our lives appropriating His promises for today, tomorrow and forever.

PRAYER POWER FOR THE WEEK OF 01/21/2013

This week ask the Lord to guide you through His Word and take note of His guaranteed promises. Thank Him and begin to apply them to the situations in your life. Remember that He's promised to never leave or forsake you, and to be your redeemer, provider, defender and everything you need for whatever challenge you face. Ask Him to continue to guide your steps this year and increase your faith in the process. Continue to pray that God would pour out His Spirit, bring revival and restoration to His Church, send laborers into His harvest fields and spread His kingdom around the world. Remember Israel and pray that our leaders would recognize our total dependence on God, seek His face and heed His counsel. James 1:5,6

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