Draw a line in the sand. At some point in your life, you have drawn a line in the sand, so to speak, to say you will not do that “thing” anymore. When we started our financial journey of getting out of debt, Kasey and I sat down and said here is the line, we will not cross it. We knew the expectations set before us, we had a goal, we were focused, we controlled what kind of information we exposed ourselves to in order to keep us from temptation, and to be honest avoided areas where we knew we could easily fall back into our old ways of accumulating debt. It was a moment in time I will always remember, when we decided no more. There is a better way. A way already written down for us. A way that was the truth, the life of how to handle money. And no I am not talking about Dave Ramsey, I am talking about the word of God. Choose this day whom you will serve, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord -Joshua 24:15
Drawing this line in the sand will cause temptation to come at you when you lease expect it. Subtle ideas people place in your head like take this vacation to Disneyland, you can only do that when your kids are little. Or you need to update your kitchen or buy this warranty on the refrigerator or the list goes on and on. Or the other day, when we had saved up money for months and months to buy new truck tires. Kasey went to the dealership to buy the tires and they offered him another $100 off the total price (which was not any small amount) if he would sign up for their credit card. Now you would think after all of our years of teaching this material that we would immediately say NO!! Do you know what we are about? We don’t use debt of any kind? But we ended up actually talking about this, considering it. I can just hear it now, are you crazy, why in your right mind would you even contemplate for a second crossing that line in the sand for anything. So now that I have you on the edge of your seat, we did not sign up for the card. After about 2 minutes of talking about it, we began to laugh in that we even contemplated the idea. I tell you this to illustrate just how quickly and easily temptation comes our way.
I believe our walk with God is no different than the example above. At some point you have to draw a line in the sand. 11 years ago, I drew that line. I knew the expectations set before me, I had a goal, I was focused, I controlled what kind of information I exposed myself to in order to keep from temptation, and to be honest avoided areas where I knew I could easily fall back into my old ways of life. You cannot be on both sides of the line. James 1:8 says a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Expect temptation to come in all forms, be prepared by knowing the word of God, and seek wise counsel through fellow believers and prayer. Draw a line in the sand for it will lead to freedom.
Every faithful believer has life in Christ Jesus. “In Christ” means that you now live and act in the sphere of Jesus. Union with Christ as His redeemed is your new environment. “In Christ” you have a conscious communion with the Lord, and in this relationship your life is seen as the life of Christ living in you. The Bible contrasts our new life “in Christ” with our old unregenerated life “in Adam”. Whereas your old life is characterized by disobedience, sin, condemnation and death; your new life in Christ is characterized by salvation, life in the Spirit, abundant grace, righteousness, and eternal life. This personal fellowship with Christ is the most important thing in your life! In Christ you are holy and blameless before Him. In Christ you have been adopted by Jesus to Himself, where He has made you His beloved. In Christ you have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. In Christ you have obtained an inheritance. In Christ you are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. In Christ you have been given the greatness of His power. You have been made alive! In Christ you are seated in heavenly places. You are His workmanship created in Christ. In Christ ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE! See Ephesians
Years ago a sister in Christ said something mean about my son on several occasions. I knew that I had to forgive her in order for my own peace and also for the relationship. However, I know that I have forgiven, but it hasn’t been easily forgotten. Words leave scars. Words break trust. Words aren’t so easily forgotten. Yes, time heals but listen to wisdom: Proverbs 18:19 “A brother offended is harder to be won over than a strong city, and [their] contentions separate them like the bars of a castle.” We are told that offenses can cause a deep separation, and if you’re anything like me and have a hard time trusting people, an offense creates a barrier of distrust. Read the next 2 verses in Proverbs, it says “a man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth”- speak blessings and you will receive blessings in your own life, speak curses and you will receive curses. Please hear this word today, YOU MUST FORGIVE! If you do not forgive others, God will not forgive you! I NEED forgiveness. You NEED forgiveness. If you’ve been offended, let it go. Choose life. Choose the path of love. If you are the offender, realize that people need time to heal. Pray. Apologize! Seek reconciliation!
I had a dog 23 years ago that followed me EVERYWHERE I went. When I say everywhere, I mean everywhere he was allowed to go. I had 2 1/2 acres of grass that I used to push mow, and it would take me 5 hours to accomplish. This dog would walk behind me the whole 5 hours. If I stopped to get a drink, he’d follow me inside and then return to walking behind me while I mowed in 100 degree weather. My neighbors commented on how funny, they never saw a dog do such a thing. This is how we should be with our Savior. John 10:4, 27 “When he has brought his own sheep outside, he walks on before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me.” Jesus said those who are true followers obey His voice and FOLLOW HIM; they are in CONSTANT fellowship with the shepherd. “Hear” and “follow” are in the present tense, denoting repeated and habitual activity. To them who CONSTANTLY FOLLOW Him, He gives constant affection and care. They will never lack anything nor can any power or circumstance take them from Him. There is safety and security for even the weakest sheep who FOLLOW and OBEY the good Shepherd.
Definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result.” I hear it all the time, “Why doesn’t my life change?” Well dear saint, if you keep doing the same things, thinking the same way; you’re going to continually get the same results, over and over again. Now, you’ve entered the realm of foolishness. Proverbs 26:11 “As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.” Your theme song, “She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes.” So, how do you get out of this viscous cycle? First, you MUST change your thinking! Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but you need to be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind”. You must begin to live in alignment with God’s Word. Obviously, your ways and thoughts aren’t working; why not try God’s? His ways are perfect. His Word is right and true. What are you struggling with? Give it over to Him and obey His Word from the heart. Are you stuck in a continual financial rut? Then tithe according to His Word. Are you in a bad relationship? Then make that relationship right before the Lord. You cannot continue to think you’re life will change when you disobey God’s Word. Stop going around that mountain today!
The law of God called for only one fast day each year, the Day of Atonement in the seventh month. The Jews at the time of Zechariah had added a fast in the fifth month to remember and mourn the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar’s armies. Now that the temple was being rebuilt, they wanted to know if they had to continue observing the fast day Zech 7:3-6 The word of the Lord was that they were not fasting in the right way, “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did you fast all day unto Me, even to Me? And when you did eat and drink, did you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?” Their fasting was mere formalism, empty of real hunger and thirst for God and His righteousness. The people needed to pay attention to the prophets and to respond by fasting and praying for grace to live holy and just lives before God and others. What does your prayer look like? Do you pray to seek God? His ways? His will? His kingdom? Or are your prayers selfish, a mere formality and only about you? God desires to be sought after by you! He longs for your heart! He wants EVERYTHING you do to be done AS UNTO THE LORD. Your life is a sweet offering unto Him!
God had consecrated the Nazarites to be the highest examples of dedication and righteousness in Israel. Part of their consecration was to abstain from all types of wine. During this time, many Israelites loved intoxicating drink, and because of their wickedness, they subverted the faithfulness of the Nazarites by making them abandon their pledge of abstinence. Amos 2:12 “But you gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.” Because they placed this temptation before the Nazarites, God would bring judgment upon them (2:12-16). What does this mean to us? If we are influencing others to break vows and compromise their conscience and move toward a life of sin; be warned. Paul speaks of this very thing in Romans 14:13-23; 15:1-3 “It is good neither to eat meat nor to drink wine, nor ANYTHING whereby my brother stumbles, or is offended, or is made weak.” This idea of “I can do and live like I want” has no place in the Kingdom. YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN! YOU WERE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE! Living to please ourselves destroys God’s work; BUT living sacrificially so as to help others will strengthen the Kingdom. Jesus did not live for His own interests but for the interests of others.