I think it’s interesting how God keeps putting certain scripture in front of us. Do you think he’s trying to make a point? Our passage yesterday was Ephesians 4:17-24, and guess what? That was the footnote for my regular bible study last night! Now, how often does anyone read a particular passage, let alone twice in one day? That’s pretty cool! In case you missed it, we discussed casting off the old self of sin by renewing our minds and putting on our new self in Christ.
It’s a matter of taking care of old business. Do you have any old business to take care of? As we enter the last month of the year, commercial businesses are looking hard at their books to determine if they accurately represent the true financial picture of the company. Inventory and receivables are assessed. Are the values of these accurately reflected? Do we need to have a blow-out sale on some of this stuff? That’ll mean taking a loss, but that may be the reality of it. May as well free up what cash it will bring in than to horde it and get nothing. Same with I.O.U.s. Are these any good? Really? Maybe they should be chalked up to experience and written off. You know what they say, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” They really do say that, you know. Businesses also assess what worked and what didn’t work for the year. Did things go as planned? Why or why not? What does that say for next year? What changes can we make? Are we even headed in the right direction?
These principles are just as applicable to our personal lives. It is interesting to note, however, that many good business planners are lousy personal planners. That’s really no excuse. Wouldn’t we be wise to take some time, now, before the end of the year, to take a personal assessment and make some plans for the new year? Sure, this could (and should) include a financial assessment and plan, but we don’t want to limit this thinking to money. There are plenty of other things to think about.
Time for a station break and a word from our sponsor…. I’m not going to give you a “Seven Things You Must Do” list that will make your life perfect. Nope. I don’t like those lists. Yes, they are beneficial, but they also are the checkoff stuff that often is activity rather than productivity. How many lists have you started only to end up frustrated? Enough said.
No, I’m talking about life-changing stuff. Seriously. How many things do you wish were different. Let me prime the pump just a bit.
I can’t function without coffee.
I need to drink less.
I need to lose weight.
I need to stop looking at pornography.
I need to break a secret emotional/physical relationship.
I need to break off an unhealthy relationship.
I need to engage invitations from healthy people.
I need to exercise.
I need to forgive someone.
I need to ask for forgiveness and make amends.
I need to get on top of my bills.
I need to spend more time with my kids.
I need to want less stuff.
I need to clear out the clutter of my house/life.
I started the list with coffee. Why that? Let me make an observation. How many people do you know that are very difficult to deal with until they have had a certain amount of caffeine? Don’t we even brag about how miserable we are until we’ve had our coffee? We buy clothing that has this message for all to see, right? Coffee cups? “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had three of these!” All this is quite funny, but let’s stop to think about it. I’m this way because I am addicted to a drug that is in coffee. I can’t function appropriately until I have my “fix”. Like it or not, caffeine is bad for us. Is this really the way I want to live? Did God make me to be like this? Or, does He have something better for me?
Suppose I have a neighbor/friend/family member that has a lifestyle that affects me. Maybe they are very negative. Do I become negative after spending time with them? Do I drink more than I should when I’m with them? Am I tempted in other ways? Could I be with healthier people? Let’s face it, negative people draw us in and suck the life out of us. Are we doing anyone any good by becoming like them? I know this is very difficult, especially with elderly people. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to take a hard look at this? Some people we would be better of cutting ties with completely. Others, like family, we can’t. However, we can change the rules of engagement. Are we willing to look into this, or do we simply complain instead? We may need to get profession advice. Honestly, folks, wouldn’t we be better off by studying this problem so that we can implement positive changes, changes that are positive for ALL parties? We don’t help the complainer by giving them an ear to complain into. Yes, we can love them. Yes, we can spend time with them. But wouldn’t we be more loving if we learned how effectively steer conversations? Dare I say “manipulate” conversations? You’ll need to make a significant investment of time and maybe even money to do this, but would it be better to love a person wholly than secretly dread being with them? And, the hard truth is that we must cut ties with some people.
What if you are the difficult one? What if you have hurt people? What if others come around only out of duty and obligation or because of your sin? Is that even possible? I say it’s not only possible, it may be likely. Maybe you aren’t there yet, but you could be on that path. Look at it this way. Of all the difficult people you know, how many think they are the primary problem? You may see them as such, but they don’t. Don’t kid yourself. We all have fences to mend and amends to make. Why not start now?
Yes, this list is hard to look at. I have plenty that I need to work on. Here’s the deal. Start with one. Just one. You already know which one it is. It’s the one you keep avoiding. It’s your primary stronghold. Get right with Jesus about it. He’s already given you everything you need to rid yourself of this sin. If….you are willing to cooperate. That’s our problem, not his. Ask the Holy Spirit to pray for you.
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
Did you read that? BlessED. As in past tense. You already have everything you need inside of you (the Holy Spirit, knock-knock, puddin’ head!), you just need to let Him work in your life. Cast off all your doubts, fears, resentments, and sinful desires. Welcome his blessings and cooperate with him. He’ll change your life. He really will.
Father, please bring to light any sin that I need to come to terms with. “Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless and innocent of great transgression.” Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers