Welcome to 2018!
Everyone I know is looking to making this year better in some aspect of their lives. It is just natural to have this hope.
While we live in an increasingly complex and corrupt world, much of what befalls us can be overcome by our own efforts and wise choices. We have it in ourselves to win!
On top of that we have a wide array of promises, made by God Himself, to help us walk away from mediocrity towards greater peace and fulfillment. There can be no doubt that God wants His children to do well, even as earthly parents desire the best for their children.
Most of us who have been Christians for a while usually know what to do when things go wrong in our lives. Misery is not the default that God intended for us. Our enemy is an expert with thousands of years’ experience in distraction and deception to make us turn our backs on God’s will and purpose for our lives.
God’s goodness rains down on those who find themselves in His will, doing life His way. He has no obligation to bless those who live according to their carnal likes and dislikes. He makes no room for personal preferences that contradict His will.
With the above in mind, let’s look at two things that will certainly challenge us at various times and in different ways as we pursue a more victorious life: faith and sacrifice. Note how these two things always work together.
Since it is impossible to please God without faith, it will always play a role in every battle that we fight.
Faith is not mind over matter, or positive thinking; it is trusting God to do what He said He would do; it is believing that He will fulfil His promise for the area of life where we struggle. And because faith is action, it means taking practical steps of obedience to God’s will for it. The first step is to find God’s will in your situation.
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. 1 John 5:14-15
There is simply no point in praying for a breakthrough if we are disobedient to the principles laid out in the Word. God is sympathetic and compassionate, but He will not bend His will for you. And ignorance is no excuse.
You discover God’s will for your situation by studying all that the Bible has to say about it. There will be easy-to-do parts, as well as some challenges. When you finally found His will for your specific problem, you will also know where you have gone wrong.
Next, you must acknowledge that you are wrong, and that changes need to be made. Bear in mind that it is often so that you will have to change before your situation will change. Change your mind, adjust your appetites, cultivate an appreciation for God’s ways, and work on desiring to obey Him. You will find it hard to obey God if you are in disagreement with Him. This is a very important step toward victory, and it might take some time to establish it in your mind. Remember, wrong thoughts inspire bad action, eventually leading to hard consequences that make your life miserable.
Only when your will is in line with God’s will, and your desire with His, will you be ready to begin a journey of faith. Consider that you can have a good heart and still entertain toxic thoughts in your mind.
Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. Psalm 86:11
Don’t see submitting your will to the Lord as a defeat; in fact, it is defeating a lie of the devil. Every thought that is in opposition to God’s will is inspired by the father of lies.
Taking steps of faith is a sacrifice; it is never easy to change established habits of the mind or the flesh. Bad habits become strongholds that are securely anchored by many personal preferences. The battle might be hard at times, but the reward will be worth it. There is a reason why the devil reduced your life to misery, and that is to maintain power over you.
The good news is that Jesus is calling you out of that misery.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10
Christians don’t like the word sacrifice; they prefer to think about faith as some magic trick that will change everything on the spot. God will do it all. But when we read about the giants of faith, we see how much they sacrificed – and accomplished – as a result of it.
- Noah sacrificed a life of social acceptance, but only he and his family were saved from the flood.
- Moses sacrificed life as a prince, but became the greatest leader Israel ever had.
- Abraham sacrificed Isaac, his only and beloved son, so to speak, but became the father of many nations.
- Rahab risked her own safety when she hid the spies, but was saved with her family when Jericho fell, and she was given a place in the genealogy of Jesus.
- God sacrificed His Son, but gained us all.
There is a spiritual law that all of those mentioned above – and many more – activated, yet few modern Christians seem to know about it. They suffer daily as they violate that law in their attitudes and personal preferences, and they hope to change God’s mind by continuously bringing their grief before Him. Here is my interpretation of that law found in the verse quoted below: “What you are willing to give up, you gain; what you hold onto, you lose.”
Truly, I tell all of you emphatically, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces a lot of grain. The one who loves his life will destroy it, and the one who hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. John 12:24-25
Between your misery and your victory, there are some steps of faith that you can take. There is something that you can give up in exchange for something better. And remember, sacrifice is an offering; it is never forced. If what you can gain is better than what you are willing to give up, make a quality decision to follow through, even if it is hard.
Do some research; search the Scriptures and find out what the will of the Lord is. Learn from those that are successful in things that you struggle with.
Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:17
If you find it difficult to go looking for answers, you are simply not serious, and will probably live on in mediocrity. There is a way out of it, and the Lord will show it to you.
The necessary steps of faith, and the appropriate sacrifice, are well within your reach.
As you look forward to 2018, look at the areas in your life that can do with an upgrade, and decide to go for better. You were not put on the earth to struggle and then die, but to fulfill a specific purpose. Don’t allow unnecessary issues to derail your life; pay the price, and don’t go cheap – remember, you only get what you pay for!