Childish selfishness or mature choices?

walkfreeJoe is 16 and so full of himself.  He rejects counsel and discipline and thinks, in his immaturity, that he has the world in his grasp.  He manages to live without demands, playing video games, eating junk food, refusing responsibilities. Fun? I suppose it is for the moment. But, his choices, which are allowing him to have fun right now, are short-sighted and will have real and lasting consequences in the future. Joe is not all that unusual. So many of us decide that we know what is best and reject the wisdom of others and even God Himself.  In self-will we fill up this day even as we rob ourselves of eternal reward!

Jesus made this amazing statement about the way He chose to live. “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” (John 5:30, NIV)  That last phrase caught my attention this morning as I read the Word. The Perfect Man had a choice, just like me, and He chose obedience.  His obedience was not grudging or forced. God’s will was His delight!  One day after He had shown the way of life to a Samaritan woman, He felt great satisfaction.  When His friends offered Him lunch, He said, “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34, NIV)  Knowing that He was living in the center of His Father’s will was more satisfying than a rich meal.

Do you know the will of God? The question is not a simple one.  Sure, we know the 10 Commandments.  But, how about forgiveness of that person who has wronged you so many times? Where is the line between God’s desire for reconciliation and a healthy boundary?  What about situations where the choice is not between right and wrong but two conflicting demands?  Sorting out the priorities of life in a way that recognizes God’s place requires wisdom, patience, and surrender.   When we were children, we had parents that told us ‘do this, go here.’ Our options were few.  As we grew, we gained more freedom to choose and that freedom brought the weight of responsibility.

How can we choose well, pleasing God rather than Self?

We must know the Scripture.
I love this Psalm. “How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.” (Psalm 119:9-11, The Message)  Our mind must be saturated with the wisdom of the Word, replenished by daily reading and understanding.

We must keep our heart aligned with the Holy Spirit in prayer.
“God, be present with me,” we pray.  Ancient Christians observed a daily cycle of prayer, consciously returning to prayer 7 times through the day! Paul urges us to “pray without ceasing.”  That is not a universal call to living in a monastery!  It is a way of life that is consciously hospitable, welcoming to the Holy Spirit. The Word tells us that “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25, NIV)

We must learn to delight in God’s ways.
Take heart from Jesus’ example. He knew temptation, felt the allure of self-will, and He surrendered. There will be seasons when, for complex reasons, we find ourselves wrestling with doing God’s will.  Remember, it is not our ability to will ourselves holy that gains mastery over Self. It is the work of God deeply in us as we confess our need and hold desperately to Him.  He finds us in our weakness and makes us ‘more than conquerors through Christ!”

Who will you choose to serve this new day? Self or Jesus? Here is a word from the Word.  May God make it living Truth for each of us so that we will choose the path of life eternal.

How well God must like you—
you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon, you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,
you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.
Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.

You’re not at all like the wicked, who are mere wind-blown dust—
Without defense in court, unfit company for innocent people.
God charts the road you take.
The road they take is Skid Row.”
(Psalm 1, The Message)

__________________

Lord I Need You

Lord I come I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
And without You I fall apart
You’re the one that guides my heart

Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay

Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

Christy Nockels | Daniel Carson | Jesse Reeves | Kristian Stanfill | Matt Maher
© 2011 sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Sweater Weather Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

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