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Being a Christian isn’t being perfect. It is a life walk that takes many turns as we learn to yield to God’s sovereignty. We often go our own way which can lead to mental and physical harm.

When we make poor decisions that are contrary to God’s will, he will allow the consequences of our decisions to affect our lives. For example, unfaithfulness can lead to disease and or divorce. Drunkenness, lying and drugs have their own dangers. The Word of God however, gives us life and health if we follow it.

Proverbs 4:20-22

My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.

Our flesh has strong desires and if not controlled, families fall apart, relationships disintegrate, and life can become cold and depressing as fulfilling desires becomes the focus of our lives, they actually become idols to us.

You may say you don’t have any of those problems, but there are man things in life that can become idols that replace God. For example wealth, other people, power, position and even religious work can all replace God being the center in our lives. Anything that we turn to for comfort and completion that is not God is an idol.

Mark 12:30

And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. – Jesus

God has to be our focus, or our own desires will begin to take over. It is God’s power in us that frees us from the slavery of want and desire. I know, I have lived this time and time again as I have allowed my own sovereignty to take over and God to become secondary in my life.

To often, God is only a Sunday Savior. Then we add some good deeds and we think we are good to go. I have learned that treating God as an add on in my life causes me to lose ground. Putting God on the back burner for when we need him, only grieves his Spirit. It is through the Spirit we receive the power to live a godly life, not by our own effort.

Ephesians 4:30

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

2 Peter 1:3

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him,

 

We have no power in ourselves, though we continue to try in our own energy to do good and be righteous. Trying harder just doesn’t work. We need to put our effort into our relationship with God, and let him do his work in us.

Colossians 2:23

These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.

I thank God for his mercy and endless love. When we turn back to him, sincerely wanting his will in our lives, and giving him our lives so he can live through us, he is there accepting and forgiving us.

2 Timothy 2:13

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful,…

James 4:8-10

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. … Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

There is a difference between being sorrowful and being repentant. Judas betrayed Jesus and in his regret committed suicide. Peter however, also betrayed Jesus and was restored by Jesus himself. God looks beyond our actions and into our hearts.

Matthew 27:3-5

When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”

“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”

Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.

Luke 22:61-62

At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.

Judas did not seek God for forgiveness, he went to the corrupt religious leaders looking for absolution. His sorrow did not lead to repentance. Many mistakenly equate repentance with regret or sorrow but it is not. Repentance is changing your direction.

2 Corinthians 7:9-10

Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.

Maybe you are feeling condemnation because you want to change but have not been able to. Maybe you are like I have been and keep doing what you don’t want to do. Let me encourage you, The apostle Paul was no different.

Romans 7:18-25, 8:1

… I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway…

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law [commandments and instructions] with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

The power to change is the Spirit of God within us. We have to stop trying to change by our own will and determination, we can’t do it. Our focus should be on God. It is his promise to change us, his work within us. Don’t focus on not sinning, focus on God the Father. Have you heard the old saying, if you look after the nickels and dimes, the dollars will look after themselves? Well, if you look after your relationship with God, he will look after the rest.

God knows our weaknesses and has provided the remedy, Jesus Christ. When we finally put God first in our lives, he will forgive us and he will empower us.

1 John 1:8-9

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

Matthew 18:21-22

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

Luke 12:22-23, 30-31

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing.

These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

Psalm 103:8:18

The LORD is compassionate and merciful,

slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

He will not constantly accuse us,

nor remain angry forever.

He does not punish us for all our sins;

he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.

For his unfailing love toward those who fear him

is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.

He has removed our sins as far from us

as the east is from the west.

The LORD is like a father to his children,

tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

For he knows how weak we are;

he remembers we are only dust.

Our days on earth are like grass;

like wildflowers, we bloom and die.

The wind blows, and we are gone—

as though we had never been here.

But the love of the LORD remains forever

with those who fear him.

His salvation extends to the children’s children

of those who are faithful to his covenant,

of those who obey his commandments!

Robert J.

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