Do you know who you are? What is your identity wrapped up in? Could it be where you spend your time, energy, and money? I know that when I was heavy in my addiction there was a lot of effort put to satisfy that addiction. Now that I have found freedom from that addiction I spend a lot of effort to not satisfy that addiction. I’m spending my time, energy, and money on things that bring me closer in alignment with being Christ-like. Do I get it perfect all the time? Absolutely not! But I know there is more to life than getting the next fix! The is more than me trying to fill what I thought was the greatest need in my life, which was much self. Now, I want to challenge believers in their spiritual walk. I want to challenge their assumptions about how they pursue Christ. We are sleepwalking through life and it will probably take a “rock bottom” experience to wake us up. We have generations at stake, and we can only think about that next fix. That “I gotta get comfortable because this life is uncomfortable, and I can’t take it.” What are we doing? What will it take to get you to live in the uncomfortable, to live in a space where we can’t stay passive and allow our families to take 3rd place in our lives?
Who are you protecting? Are you living a life of self-protection? Are you hiding a secret life? Do you hear the lies “If someone really knew me, they wouldn’t love me!” Self-protection builds walls that keep people out and keep you in! God has created us to be known and know. Not only God but others. Will you keep denying God’s intention and purpose for your life by continuing to live a life of self-protection? Have you found a safe community? Do you even know what to look for in a safe person? You need safe people and intimate relationships in your life. God has created us to have these things because we are created in His image. So what are you not talking about, what are you not getting out, and what are you going to do to stop living a life of self-protection? Who are you protecting?
Psalm 101:4 I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil. Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2015), Ps 101:4.
James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2015), Jas 5:16.
Hebrews 6:7-12 When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. 8 But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it. 9 Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. 10 For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. 11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. 12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2015), Heb 6:7–12.
Do we know why we do the things we do? Do we go to bible study, small groups, and conferences to prepare ourselves for the doom and gloom of life? Am I a dooms day prepper? Are we just trying to feel better by filling your life with good things, all the while holding your sin close to our chest? Deep down you are not ready to let go of the earthly things that bring you comfort. You want the “best” of both worlds. You want to be the “King” of your own life and have all the blessings of the “King of Kings.” You have to find your patterns of sin and eradicate them in your life. How can you let go of your kingship if your pattern keeps putting you back on the throne of your life? You have to surrender it to the Lord. In that surrender, you are going to find your purpose and calling in your life. You are going to figure out what it is costing you to keep chasing these patterns. Do you want to pass on a legacy of sin or righteousness? In this free gift of grace and salvation, we do have a part to play. We have lived a life worthy of our calling and pursue Christ with a full heart! We cannot keep going back to the things of dead life. So what is God telling you, and what are you going to do about it?
19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. 22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. 26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2015), Jas 1:19–27.
1 John 1:9
9 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. Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2015), 1 Jn 1:9.
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2015), Jas 5:16.
We’re in this together! Are you? I have been wrapped up in the world of pornography addiction most of my life. And in my journey, I have found grace through the example of Jesus my wife has given me. This week Angi and I sit down talk a little about our journey through redemption and what it looks like to live a life of oneness together. We talk about how in my broken state, we were missing out on what it truly meant to live as one in Christ. I don’t think we understood what it really meant to in a state of oneness until I started living a life in a community of men and breaking free from that bondage of porn. I was able to pursue who I am meant to be in Christ and lead her in our marriage. Listen as we talk about these things, and be encouraged that you can find the same things in your marriage.
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When God spoke to Abram, He gave Abram instructions or a code. God’s code was for Abram to Go from here to there, and I will tell you when to stop. In my strength, you will become great, and through you will come a blessing for everyone. I will protect and react accordingly by blessing or cursing those who bless or curse you. Abram packed his things and went. After setting up camp, a famine came over the land. Abram began decision-making out of fear instead of faith. He went down to Egypt for fear of dying from starvation. He lied about his relationship with his wife for fear of death from people. Because of that lie, Pharaoh took Sarai as a wife and paid Abram generously for her. This was outside of God’s plan, so He let Pharaoh know that Sarai was Abram’s wife. Pharaoh confronted Abram and gave Sarai back to him. He then sent Abram and Sarai on their way.
We can sit here and pick apart how Abram failed. And he did fail. But Abram made decisions based on fear instead of faith. He left the land God had given him; he self-protected from the people in Egypt. This ultimately led to his wife as a sacrifice so that he could live. But what is the root cause of his fear and failure? Did he think, “God can’t meet my needs; I have to meet my own needs.” I must find my own food, making sure I live to fulfill God’s promise. Did he question the power of God to handle the situation? Abram, who God changed his name later to Abraham, is known for his faith throughout the bible. So, what happened here at the beginning?
Abram is the father of the Jewish nation. This is where it all began. Could it be because he lived 75 years one way, and suddenly because God speaks to him, he is trying to live another way? What was his faith like in the beginning? What was our faith like at the beginning of our spiritual walk? He had bad days; they are recorded in the bible. He made a bad decision, and fear was at the very core of the decisions in this passage. How many bad decisions have I made from fear? Looking back or even looking forward, how many bad days could I count. As a believer, I am to put my faith in God. It seems that some days that is easier than others.
What about me?
So, what does this story of Abram’s life show me? God’s sovereignty, grace, and mercy. God had a plan for Abram; through his family line, he would share the gospel with the world. Next, even on our worst days, God’s grace is enough for us so that He can use us to bring His message of hope to the world. Through God’s mercy, He saves us repeatedly so that we will have the opportunity to share His message of hope. A few chapters later, we see Abram as Abraham with faithful decision-making on full display.
I challenge you to examine your spiritual walk with Christ. Are you making all your decision based on fear? How are you trusting God to fulfill your needs? Are you progressing in your decision-making from fear-based to faith-based? I know there are areas of my life where I struggle with making decisions based on my faith in God. But what I am learning is that when I fail in those areas, Jesus is right there with me—helping me up, helping to keep going, and allowing me to share His message of hope.
Relationship or Perfection
My life is not about attaining perfection. It’s about a pursuit of a relationship with my Savior, God, and King. There is freedom in that. I have the freedom to fail in life because Jesus is there with grace and mercy. I have the freedom to succeed in life because Jesus is there to receive honor and glory. We must change our perspective on wins and losses, failing and succeeding. I must keep going, striving for that finish line where Jesus is waiting and wanting to say, “Well done!”. Are you in the race? Some people that claim to be Christ follows are stuck on the sidelines. They are stuck in fear, afraid to fail and not meet the “standard” of God. News flash, we are never going to meet the standard. That is why God came to us in the flesh. So that we could have a relationship with Him that was cut off when sin entered the world.
Abram failed. More than once. Just in this chapter. Take a step. Move and decide based on faith in a good, holy, and perfect God. Who wants the best for you. Who wants you to be free from sin. To be free to pursue a relationship with Him. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to serve someone else because of fear. You would not be reading this devotional if it wasn’t for taking that next step of faith. What’s your next step?
Father, as a believer, we have the freedom to fail. We also are free to succeed. Either way, you love us just the same. You want us to check our hearts and lean into a relationship with you. I believe you like us to be more relational than legal because, in our relationship, we will learn to want to follow your word. Give us that desire; open that area of our hearts that hinders us from knowing you. Expose it to the light so it can be moved, and we take that next step closer to you. Amen