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Overcoming Bad Choices

“I have a Christian friend caught in adultery . . . what do I tell him?”   OVERCOMING THE IMPACT OF BAD DECISIONS What if you find yourself (or a friend) in a mess created because you (or they) were not walking with God (like choosing an incompatible...

Hearing from God

The great news is that you can have a personal word from God any time you wish – every single day It’s impossible to worship a God you don’t know. Neglect God’s Word and you’ll live out of sync with your created purpose – to love Him, to enjoy Him,...

Overcoming Bad Choices

“I have a Christian friend caught in adultery . . . what do I tell him?”  

OVERCOMING THE IMPACT OF BAD DECISIONS

What if you find yourself (or a friend) in a mess created because you (or they) were not walking with God (like choosing an incompatible marriage partner or an unwanted pregnancy)? Is a newfound decision to walk with God justification to cut bait and run? Absolutely not. Start walking with God in the thick of your mistake. Trust Him to straighten what you made crooked as you fully surrender to Him. But surrender fully, by all means. (There is no such thing as partial surrender). Take responsibility for your own actions and invite God into the situation – daily and moment-by-moment. God has a long, successful track record of beautifying the bizarre, providing peace among pain, making something terrific from tragedy and giving hope in the horrific. He can do that with your situation.

What about adultery? How does one bounce back from that? A close friend of mine sent me this troubling text the other day: “I have a Christian friend caught in adultery and lost job. What do I tell him?” First of all, Christians make mistakes. We sin. That doesn’t make it right – it’s simply reality. My close friend’s friend was caught in adultery. He was not only unfaithful, he was also deceptive. The reason he committed adultery and was caught in adultery is the same reason any of us sins – he lost sight of life’s number one objective: to love and enjoy God.

Public deception starts with self-deception. The man who was covering up his adultery believed the lie that there is something more rewarding in life than loving and enjoying God. The truth is that loving and enjoying God is what makes every other life pursuit enjoyable to the fullest. Failure here is the mother of all other failure. This man lost sight of life’s purpose – and it is costing him and at least one other person very dearly. He sinned for the same reason any of us sins: because he stopped intentionally walking with God. Relational faithfulness is a consequence of spiritual faithfulness. When we are faithful to God, we are faithful to people.

Repentance is what it means to walk with God . . .

Here’s how I responded to my friend’s troubling text: “Love him. Tell him to thoroughly repent and accept whatever discipline God may have for him as a consequence, and walk with him though repentance so that it finishes its course and he (and potentially his spouse) can be healed.” Adultery and deception against his wife were symptomatic sins of the root sin – rebellion against God. A lifestyle of continual repentance is what it means to walk with God. It’s not something we do once and for all. It’s something we do moment-by-moment, day by day. If you think you’ve repented that’s good. Now, do it again. This is what it means to walk with God.

Repentance is like bathing. For a lifetime of cleanliness, it must be repeated. We live in a microwave society where instant turn-arounds are assumed these days. God, however, has not changed. There are times where our decisions have consequences – consequences which we must face, own and walk through. Think about this long and hard: if you’ve made a bad decision – or know of someone who made one – the worst thing you or they could do is follow it up with another bad decision.

Repentance is the beginning of all lasting change . . .

The worst thing in the world you or anyone else can do after making a bad decision that came from walking away from God is to let that pattern continue for another second. Turn it around – immediately and vehemently – with true repentance and complete surrender to God. This is the beginning of all lasting change. Remember, it was foolish rebellion that got you (or the other person) in trouble. Foolish rebellion, if continued, will do nothing but wreak further havoc, pain, hardship and misery. Stop the rebellion by repenting. Prevent it from reigning by repeating the process.

YOUR NEW TRAJECTORY: 30 DAYS IS THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

Be careful you don’t begin (or continue) building things in life that don’t stem from walking with God. You must be intentional. Begin to make time, every single day, to read and apply the Bible, God’s Word. Guard this time – because your life – God’s life through you – depends upon it. Do it for thirty days. Pretend that’s all the time you have left in life. Over the next thirty days, intentionally pursue, love and respond to God.

pretend

Walking with God now does not mean turning your back on the consequences of poor decisions you may have made when you ignored Him. Walking with God means giving Him an opportunity to move like never before. You know first-hand the problems you created when you didn’t walk with God. At least to some degree. Now it’s time to see the solutions God provides when you walk with Him.

Right now, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, get on and stay on your thirty day revolution of walking with God. Forget about how hard the next week, three months, six months or years may seem. Be honest to God and honest to yourself and others. Focus only on the next thirty days and I promise you – the rest of your life will take care of itself.

Rememberthirty days is all you need to develop a habit.Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or you mess up during the day! Get back in the saddle, immediately, and resume your pursuit. This is what it means to repent, and it’s what God will thoroughly honor. Remember, you are looking to create trajectory – an overall trend in your life where you prioritize, pursue and respond to God.Do this for thirty days and repeat. Your life will take care of itself. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts . . .

What to read next: Your 30 Day Spiritual Revolution or The Power of a Secret Closet.

If you like solid Bible teaching and want to enjoy God fully, you’ll appreciate the Courage Matters App, available on iTunes and Google Play. If you’re near York, Pa, come visit us on a Sunday at GenesisYork.com— and be sure to introduce yourself. This is all made possible by generous listeners, readers, and supporters like you. Please consider giving towards Courage Matters to ensure our nation has the opportunity to hear the message of TRUTH and LOVE. You can donate by clicking the “Give” tab on CourageMatters.com or on the Courage Matters app.

Hearing from God

The great news is that you can have a personal word from God any time you wish – every single day

It’s impossible to worship a God you don’t know. Neglect God’s Word and you’ll live out of sync with your created purpose – to love Him, to enjoy Him, to walk closely with Him and to be a vessel through whom He can change lives. The great news is that you can have a personal word from God – any time you wish – every single day – courtesy of the Bible. Do you understand what you just read?  You can have a personal word from God – any time you wish – every single day. By prioritizing daily, attentive, prayerful Bible reading, you help ensure that you hear from God. Hearing from God is the starting point and the sustaining factor in having the life of Jesus emanate from you, permeating every encounter, every endeavor, every ambition. This is nothing to take lightly. Consider what Jesus says:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 (NIV)

We can’t remain in Jesus if we’re not listening to Him in the first place. There is no substitute for listening to God. The question is not whether or not God is speaking. He is. The question is whether or not we are listening. Really listening. Do we grasp that the Almighty wants to speak to us – and is speaking to us – and that really listening changes everything?

remain-quote

If you expect to hear from God and to remain in Him, you have to actually read and reflect upon God’s Word. Ideally, this is done each day of your life. (Yes, you may miss a day or a time you planned to read and reflect on it. Don’t become a legalist!) What you are looking for in your life is atrajectory of growth – an overall trend where you intentionally prioritize God and grow as a result. There will be bumps along the way, of course. You will not be perfectly consistent. You are not looking for perfection; you are looking to cultivate a trend. When you fall off your horse, get back into the saddle and resume your quest.  That’s how you get past the bumps and create the trajectory, the trend.

The primary way a man, woman, boy or girl remains in Jesus Christ, is by prioritizing God’s Word – and acting upon it. Remember the Pharisees? They knew God’s Word, but failed to put it into action. And those things they did put into action missed the heart of God: personal purity and influence that comes from loving affection. Purity (holiness) that doesn’t arise from loving affection is legalism. But don’t let the danger of legalism keep you from cultivating a pure life. A pure life that arises from loving affection toward God is the kind of holiness God’s after – and the kind you should be after, too.

What you are looking for in your life is atrajectory of growth – an overall trend where you intentionally prioritize God and grow as a result  . . .

Let me share something I learned from my own failures: only a life built upon loving affection to Jesus Christ replenishes itself, realizes its potential and produces a holy life. We don’t pursue holiness; we pursue God. The byproduct of pursuing God – really pursuing God – is a pure and holy life. An enjoyable life comes with it. Ask someone who is entrenched in filth, sin and selfishness if they really enjoy themselves and their answer proves this true. And, if at any time we begin to become self-righteous, that attitude should serve as a reminder that we’ve strayed from the primary goal of every moment of life: loving affection to Jesus Christ.

Here’s a profound truth that needs to settle down into the deep recesses of your soul: you will not be able to “remain” in Jesus if you are not in Jesus’ Word. This is the foundation of all fruit-bearing. If you do not prioritize reading and applying God’s Word, there will be specific, measurable consequences in this life and the life to come. If you remain in Jesus, you have His Word – you will bear much fruit. It’s impossible to walk with God and be stagnant.

YOUR DAYS ARE YOUR LIFE

Life is precious. You won’t have another this side of eternity. What you do with every day matters, because your life is the sum of your days. The startling thing about Jesus’ words is that through them we learn the futility of attempting anything apart from walking with Him. If and only if we walk with Jesus will we bear the fruit He promises. Walk away from Jesus and you walk away from fruitfulness. You walk away from life.

intentional-quote

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you must be intentional about your walk with God. Your aim is not first and foremost to do great things for God. Your first objective is to walk with Him, closely, day by day, moment by moment. Jesus’ words provide a clear picture of what He envisions for your life – that you walk closely with Him, moment by moment, and by doing so you will produce goodfruit –and lots of it. Fruit that won’t otherwise blossom.

Do you want to live a merely possible life or the kind of life that God alone can grow, as you walk in surrender to Him? Only you can decide, but decide you must. Your decision is reflected by how you prioritize hearing from God – by reading His Word, the Bible, on a daily basis.

Some have unintentionally belittled the words of Jesus, thinking he means “apart from me you will not reach your fullest potential.” But this does not capture the gravity of Jesus’ teaching. He is talking about an entirely different kind of life, fruit and impact that only materializes when we really walk with and stay in Him. What Jesus intends for you and me to grasp is that whatever else we may achieve on our own, without it arising from our close walk with Him, it will amount tonothing by comparison. Jesus says “apart from me, you can do nothing.”

What are you being tempted to do that does not originate from God, does not depend upon Him, fully, and does not overflow from a close walk with Him?It may seem important, but it is not important to God. It shouldn’t be important to you. Only the things that originate from God, that come from listening to Him and abiding in Him, are the things that bear the fruit of God’s interest. They are the things that create the deepest fulfillment and impact. Whatever else we do or attempt that doesn’t come from God is powerless and pointless. It’s a distraction and a delusion.

Thirty days is all you need. Focus on thirty and the rest will take care of itself.

Your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.

What to read next: Your 30 Day Spiritual Revolution or Overcoming Bad Choices.

If you like solid Bible teaching and want to enjoy God fully, you’ll appreciate the Courage Matters App, available on iTunes and Google Play. If you’re near York, Pa, come visit us on a Sunday at GenesisYork.com— and be sure to introduce yourself. This is all made possible by generous listeners, readers, and supporters like you. Please consider giving towards Courage Matters to ensure our nation has the opportunity to hear the message of TRUTH and LOVE. You can donate by clicking the “Give” tab on CourageMatters.com or on the Courage Matters app.

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