Spirit of Grace Ministries
SOGM
Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

 

Decisions Series # 7
Decide for your future

Decisions Decisions

by Dennis Pollock

We are daily making what seem to be small decisions which will play a huge role in determining our future. Much of what you are presently and where you are is a result of decisions, large and small, that you have made in the past. And the decisions you make today are establishing your destiny for years and decades to come. This means that if your decisions can be changed, your future can be changed. It also tells us that the higher the percentage of godly and wise decisions you make, the better your future will be. None of us will go through life making 100 percent perfect decisions, but we can strive to make wise and righteous decisions the rule in our lives and not the exception.

Once we have been born again, our life in Christ is to consist of abiding in Jesus and daily choosing the right and shunning the wrong. The Bible says that God will render eternal life to those who "by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality" (Romans 2:7). This is Paul's definition of the Christian life. It involves "patient continuance in doing good." Imagine someone started a campaign to set aside a day in which we would all be good. On this certain day we would refuse to argue with our spouses, we would go out of our way to show compassion and love to all, and we would refuse to do anything that seriously violated our consciences. I suppose most people could come close to pulling that off for a single day. But the problem is, God expects us to live that way not merely for a day but for a lifetime – to patiently continue to do good, day after day, week after week, and year after year.

More than resolutions

This comes from more than mere noble resolutions; it is the result of an abiding walk with and trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus brings this about by providing two things: first the desire to do good. The Bible says God works in us "to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). Imagine if there were a surgery available that would cause you to begin having an overwhelming desire to treat others better than yourself, to consistently show compassion to the weak and hurting, and to shun all forms of selfishness. The minute you awake out of surgery these noble feelings would overcome and override every other emotion. What a wonderful operation this would be! We could fix any criminal and cure any pervert if only we could give them a strong enough desire for goodness. But alas, there is no such surgery known to man.

God, however, provides precisely such a spiritual surgery through the new birth. We are given a new nature, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and find righteous desires springing up where none had existed before. We have to learn to yield to this new nature, and it is not automatic. Nevertheless, we are given the "want-to" which serves as a tremendous help in moving us forward in the will of God.

But the desire for righteousness it not enough. God not only gives us the want-to, but He also provides the power and ability to do that which we now desire. In Ezekiel we read: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them" (Ezekiel 36:26,27). This is fulfilled when we put our faith in Jesus Christ and are born again. This desire and ability to please God and live righteously are expressed in the many decisions we face each and every day. Walking with Jesus is a day by day experience of making godly choices. Some are as small as foregoing a second piece of pie, and others as large as refusing to file for divorce when everything within you is saying, "I want out of this marriage."

Daily Cross

Jesus tells us up front what it means to be His disciple: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." (Luke 9:23). The cross speaks of pain and death to self. He does not say we should take up our swimming suit and follow Him, or we should take up our picnic basket and follow Him. We are called to take up our cross. And we are told to do this daily. Sometimes we think of the cross in terms of Gethsemane experiences which involve major crises in our lives, but the cross is more comprehensive than that. The cross comes into play every time there is a conflict between the desires of our flesh and what we know to be the will of God. Every morning that you wake up, you can be sure that there will be some choices you will have to make that will be displeasing to your flesh. Your cross must go with you to the breakfast table, with you to your job, and when you come home in the evening and relate to your family, it must still be with you. The cross is your constant companion and it will be so as long as you live on this earth.

By daily choosing to follow Jesus and carry the cross, you are planting seeds that will produce a beautiful harvest, both in this present life, and in the life to come. Part of walking by faith is believing that planting is followed by harvest. How miserable it would be to plant a garden, water it regularly, daily fight a battle to keep the weeds out, and yet have virtually no expectation of ever seeing a harvest. Planting seeds is pleasant because we know that we are working toward a goal, we have purpose in our planting; we shall see a harvest. The Bible tells us, "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:5,6). We must not only be sure to plant, but we must make sure that the seeds we are planting are good seeds. Just as no farmer would plant thistles or poison ivy, but lots of farmers plant wheat and corn, so in the realm of the Spirit there are good seeds and there are bad ones, and no wise person would want to consistently plant bad seeds.

Time Gap

What many fail to understand is that planting is not immediately followed by harvest. There is always a significant period of time between the planting of seeds and the harvesting of the mature crop. Peter writes: "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time…" (1 Peter 5:6). "Due time" is a good Bible phrase. It speaks of the sovereignty of God in determining when our crops will be ripened. You cannot hurry due time or know when it will be, but by patient continuance in doing good, you can insure that there will definitely be a due time. Sports cars are sometimes described as being able to turn on a dime, but it takes a while to turn an ocean liner around. Just so, to turn a life around is not usually a quick process, but it can surely be done. The good news is that when you have made a total wreck out of your life, you can start today in creating a wonderful future. Your future will be built one day at a time and one decision at a time.

So what are these good seeds we should be planting? They are decisions to live unselfishly, to do the right thing even when it hurts. In our families and relationships we must plant the seeds of kindness and forbearance. In Proverbs we read, "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands" (Proverbs 14:1). This is not talking about a physical dwelling, but a family. Through love, wisdom, self-sacrifice, and prayer a wise woman builds up her husband and children. But women who constantly complain and fuss at their husbands, and berate their children are pulling down their own houses. The tearing down of a family or any relationship is normally not done by a single dramatic act or decision, but by making poor choices day after day and year after year.

Even in material things we are deciding for our future with every choice we make. The Bible says, "Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest" (Proverbs 6:6-8). The ant is smart enough to prepare a secure future for himself by choosing to store up supplies in the summer, when the times are good. When the cold winter comes, the ant can chill out, enjoy some fellowship with his little ant buddies, and live well from his labor during the warm days of plenty. Many people find themselves in financial ruin because of decisions they made, or did not make, years earlier. They took out loans on houses with payments far higher than they could comfortably pay, bought things they did not need and at prices they could not afford, and charged all kinds of items with intentions to pay off the card the next month, but found it easier to make the minimum payment instead. Choices, choices, choices.

Harvest from decisions made

Just as right decisions eventually lead to a blessed harvest, poor decisions will always eventually lead to a disastrous harvest. Proverbs tells us, "He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow…" (Proverbs 22:8). The illusion that snares us is that you can appear to get away with planting bad seeds for quite a while. Harvest time is never immediate, but it is always sure. There is no such thing as a non-harvest. And the interesting thing is that weeds and poisonous plants seem hardier than the good crops. Good crops often require watering and tender care for a bountiful harvest, but nasty, noxious weeds require no care at all. Let them get hold in the ground, and you don't need to do anything further. You will be sure to have a marvelous crop, whatever you do or don't do (unless you root them out).

There is tremendous encouragement in understanding these things. Regardless of how messed up your life is, by the grace of Jesus, you can start turning things around. You can start investing in the rest of your life. No, you probably won't see any dramatic results by tomorrow or next week, but in time you'll be amazed at how your life will change for the better when you start to take up your cross and follow Jesus. Although the Christian life involves decisions, at its heart is something far bigger than any decisions you can make. At the heart of Christianity is Jesus Christ, and God calls us to trust Him as Savior, and then to learn to trust Him as our Shepherd, our Fountain of Living Waters, our Wisdom, the Keeper of our souls, and much, much more. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can decide your way out of your mess, apart from the grace of Jesus Christ. Your solution will surely involve making good decisions, but the first step will always be repent and believe, and call upon Jesus Christ. If you are a sinner, you repent of your ungodly life and believe on Jesus as your Savior. If you are already a Christian, but find yourself in ruin through planting bad financial seeds or bad marital seeds, or bad dietary seeds, or any other bad seeds, the first step is to repent of all the lousy farming you've done, and believe on Jesus Christ to help you turn things around.

Faith in Christ does not negate the need to decide wisely, but it must always precede it, and be the strength behind our decisions. We make our decisions with an unwavering gaze upon the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting Him as our Wisdom and our Motivator. The Scriptures tell us, "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God --- and righteousness and sanctification and redemption ---that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the LORD" (1 Corinthians 10:17).

To see a full listing of all articles available, go to our Written Devos Page.
For a full listing of all articles as audio mp3 files (free downloads), go to our Audio Devos Page.

 

     

        For inspirational devos, bios of Christian leaders, free downloads, and the latest SOGM news:
Sign up to receive E-newsletter
>>

Your donations are needed and greatly appreciated!

 

 

Just for you!

Missions Outreach


A major part of Spirit of Grace Ministries is our ministry in the great continent of Africa. There is a tremendous harvest going on in the world these days, and we are privileged to be a part of it. Above is a brief music video featuring some pics from our recent mission in Magodes, Uganda.

Audio Devo: "Why is there suffering?"

People have debated this question for millennia. And we cannot speak concerning specific individual questions of suffering, but the Bible clearly speaks as to why suffering has always been a part of the human experience.