Decisions, Decisions… - Choose Freedom
Purity 473 07/17/2021 Purity 473 Podcast
Today’s photo is the natural progression of yesterday’s photo as the setting sun has sunk into the Pacific horizon from the vantage point of the shores of Kaanapali on the Island of Maui in the great state of Hawaii. My friend’s vacation photo sharing of that Pacific paradise presented me with a dilemma. When you are given two wonderful shots from more or less the same setting, which one do you choose? Often in life we are only given the option of one thing or another, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. But on occasion, even though your choice may confound, or even bother those around you, (Are you thinking: What another picture from Hawaii? I wanted something different, today!)”, sometimes you can choose both!
Now I know, I didn’t “really” choose both. I chose one photo yesterday and I chose the other photo today. While I could have shared both photos yesterday, somehow that idea goes against my philosophy of “today’s photo’, singular. And like I have indicated, there is a natural tendency in all of us to want to move one to “something new.”
But as in other decisions we make in life, we shouldn’t be held in bondage to other people’s opinions, or our own ideas, and let our preconceived notions always dictate how we act. Spontaneity includes the possibility of doing the same thing again. Repeating what we have done before unfortunately won’t recapture the exact essence of our previous experience, but we can still find pleasure and a measure of satisfaction in a repeated activity as long as we temper our expectations with the understanding that our new experience will not be “just like” our previous experience.
The possible opinions of others around us, or our ideas of what we should or shouldn’t do, hinder us from living freely. With my silly example of selecting a photo of the day, maybe some people will be displeased. Maybe some people will be thrilled because they wanted to see that sight again. Maybe others will like this dusky photo better than yesterday’s. But regardless of all those potential varying opinions, that may or may not out there in reality, in each one of our lives we have to choose what we are going to do for ourselves and live with the consequences.
Sometimes we also have to challenge our own opinions and preferences to grow. While I like to present and experience new things, we all have a tendency to get in a rut of doing things according to the rules and regulations we have established over our own lives.
Now, I’m not talking about running down the road of immorality that leads to debauchery land. I’ve taken that trip way too many times before to encourage others to lose their good senses and to jump into something that will bring guilt and shame if not worse consequences. No, what I am talking about is challenging the preconceptions of what is possible or is more along the lines of “how we always do things” rather than violating what is right according to the word of God.
One of the first calls from God that is highlighted in the Bible is God’s call to Abraham to leave his people and to go into the land that the Lord would show Him. I’m sure Abraham had to hear lots of negative opinions from others when He decided to follow the Lord’s call. Can you imagine just one day, out of the blue, telling everyone you knew that you were leaving because God had called you to go somewhere else? Could you imagine the inner turmoil that you would experience at the prospect of doing that?
Now, don’t freak out, I’m not suggesting you pack it all up and take off for a destination unknown. I am merely suggesting that you exercise the free will that the Lord has blessed you with to explore the life that God has given you to see what possibilities for growth are available for you to walk into. I’m not telling you to leave the comforts of your home, I’m asking you to consider leaving the comforts of “doing things the way you always do them” for a way that is guided by the Lord and that leads to victory, freedom, and peace.
So, enjoy your weekend. Enjoy doing the same old things again but temper those expectations by realizing you can’t recapture the happiness of the past and that’s okay. You like what you like. But at the same time, maybe be daring and try something new.
Regardless of what you choose, rejoice over the freedom you have and consider entering the experience of peace and joy that comes when you decide to seek and follow God’s call on your life to live with Him.
No two walks with God are the same. But when you walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit, there may be bumps in the road but regardless of what you run into there will be the peace of God’s presence and the joy that comes from discovering the meaning of your life and growing into the purpose that He has for you.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
1 Thessalonians 2:8 (NKJV)
8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.
Today’s verse speaks of the deep affection we can have for our fellow travelers on the path of Christian Discipleship, as we not only share what we know but we share our very lives with one another.
As a teacher of Christian recovery and Christian discipleship, I can tell you that I have a deep affection for all the people I have taught over the years because while I teach a lot about principles of Christian doctrine and Christian living, I like to share how what I am teaching about has impacted my life experiences.
So I tend to share a lot about my life with my brothers and sisters in Christ that I teach. Many have commented on how transparent I am, maybe too transparent. While I sometimes cringe at the things that I share as they are somewhat personally embarrassing, I do so because I wish to show people that I didn’t just “learn this stuff”, I lived it.
I wasn’t particularly smart, I just decided to trust the Lord and sought to know more about Him and to apply what I learned to my life. If you look at the twists, turns, and disasters that I walked through on the path of Christian recovery and discipleship, some may decide that they want nothing to do with it. It costs too much. You lose too much.
But like the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:8-10, I count all the hardship and losses that I suffered to be nothing compared to knowing Christ Jesus as my Lord, and as today’s verse indicates, also knowing all the saints that I have met along the way.
I rejoice when I see other people pursuing their relationship with God and I love to fellowship with them and discuss the things of God and how we are applying our faith to our real-life difficulties, to discuss living an authentic Christian life.
God is so good that we must share what He taught us but those lessons we teach are that much more valuable when it is played out in the context of community. Whether it’s the community of the local church, a small group meeting, accountability relationships, or just over a friendly meal, community allows us to sharpen our understanding and to care and love one another according to God’s way for our lives.
So, don’t be a stranger and don’t be a Lone Ranger, draw close to God and draw close to the other people in your life that hear and follow His voice. It might be Saturday, but Sunday is coming and if you don’t have a other Christians that you can share your life with and have an affectionate longing for, step out in faith, be strong and courageous and find a place where you can worship, learn, and grow.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing Chapter 8.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:
Proper Guidelines Lead to a Proper Walk
As far as the devil is concerned, the next best thing to keeping you chained in spiritual darkness or having you live as an emotional wreck is confusing your belief system. He lost you in the eternal sense when you became a child of God. If he can muddy your mind and weaken your faith with partial truths, however, he can neutralize your effectiveness for God and stunt your growth as a Christian.
We have already determined that God wants you to be successful, fulfilled, and happy. It is imperative for your spiritual maturity, though, that your beliefs about success, significance, fulfillment, satisfaction, happiness, fun, security, and peace be anchored in the Scriptures.
In this chapter, I want to review each of these belief areas from the foundation of God's Word. Compare these eight descriptions with the eight statements you wrote for the Faith Appraisal in the previous chapter. These descriptions may help you make some vital adjustments that will steer you back to the middle of the fairway.
1. Success. Key Concept: Goals
A few years ago, a young woman flew to Los Angeles from the East Coast to spend a Saturday with me in counseling. She said she had deep spiritual problems. She did, and I was surprised the airplane stayed in the air with her in it. She was hearing demonic voices and was plagued with many problems.
Mattie quoted to me 3 John 2: "Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health."
"If God has promised prosperity, success, and health to me, why is my life all screwed up?" she complained.
"There's more to that verse," I said. "Finish reading it."
"Just as your soul prospers," she continued.
I asked her pointedly, "How is your soul doing?" Mattie then told me her sad story. She had submitted to three abortions as a result of illicit sexual affairs; she withdrew from drugs several times; and she was presently living with another man outside of marriage. I felt like telling her, "I think the verse is working."
Success is related to goals. If you rated yourself low in the success category, you are probably having difficulty reaching your goals in life. If you aren't reaching your goals, it is probably because you are working on the wrong goals.
A good summary of God's goal for us is found in 2 Peter 1:3-10:
His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.
Notice that God's goal begins with who you are on the basis of what God has already done for you. He has given you "life and godliness"; justification has already happened, and sanctification has already begun. You are already a partaker of the "divine nature, having escaped" (past tense) sin's corruption. What a great start!
Your primary job now is to adopt God's character goals diligently—moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and Christian love—and apply them to your life. Focusing on God's goals will lead to ultimate success: success in God's terms. Peter promises that as these qualities increase in your life through practice, you will be useful and fruitful, and you will never stumble. That is a legitimate basis for a true sense of worth and success and nobody can keep you from accomplishing it!
Notice also that this list does not mention talents, intelligence or gifts that are not equally distributed to all believers. Your identity and sense of worth aren't determined by those qualities. Your sense of worth is based on your identity in Christ and your growth in character, both of which are equally accessible to every Christian. Those Christians, like Mattie, who are not committed to God's goals for character are sad stories of failure. According to Peter, they have forgotten their purification from former sins. They have forgotten who they are in Christ.
Another helpful perspective of success is seen in Joshua's experience of leading Israel into the Promised Land. God said to him:
Be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success (Joshua 1:7, 8).
Was Joshua's success dependent on other people or favorable circumstances? Absolutely not. Success hinged entirely on living according to God's Word. If Joshua believed what God said and did what God told him to do, he would succeed. Sounds simple enough, but God immediately put Joshua to the test by giving him a rather unorthodox battle plan for conquering Jericho. Marching around the city for seven days and then blowing a horn weren't exactly approved military tactics in Joshua's day!
Joshua's success was conditional on obeying God regardless of how foolish His plan seemed. As Joshua 6 records, Joshua's success had nothing to do with the circumstances of the battle and everything to do with obedience. Success is accepting God's goal for our lives and by His grace becoming what He has called us to be.
Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.
God bless you all!
Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship