Have You Sacrificed Relationships Because of Selfish Ambition?

Have you sacrificed relationships because of selfish ambition? I have. It may look different for each of us; possibly athletic achievements, career advancements, the pursuit of wealth and possessions, social status, online fame, etc.… Anything that so consumes us we loose sight of what is really important and of those around us. We all have to ask ourselves if our personal goals and pursuits are really worth sacrificing relationships for?

We have an opportunity to have a good relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
We have an opportunity to have a good relationship with our families.
We have an opportunity to have a good relationship with friends and others around us.

How we relate to God and how we relate to people are of utmost importance.  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

If our goals hinder these relationships, maybe we should re-evaluate our goals.

Alcohol is Always a Good Time, Right?

We live in a culture that loves its wine and alcohol. Where I’m from people go to bars if they want to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. Others drink because of the stresses of life or it’s their idea of having a good time. But alcohol is a substance that can easily control a person. Whether through personal experience or through observation we have all seen this. I’ve seen women go home with guys they would have never gone home with if they were sober. I’ve had drunk people tell me things they would never tell someone in their right mind. I’ve seen drunk people act like complete fools and idiots, and I’ve seen drunk people become very angry, aggressive, and easily agitated. While drinking may not be condemned as a sin, getting drunk is. “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). But the Bible says a lot more about it than just this. We would be wise to reflect on what God says about it and be willing to reevaluate our own lives.

Galatians 5:19-21
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Peter 4:3-5
For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

Proverbs 20:1
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

Proverbs 21:17
Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.

Isaiah 5:11
Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them!

Isaiah 5:22
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink,

Proverbs 23:29-31
Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
Those who tarry long over wine;
those who go to try mixed wine.
Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup
and goes down smoothly.

Proverbs 31:4-7
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
it is not for kings to drink wine,
or for rulers to take strong drink,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed
and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Give strong drink to the one who is perishing,
and wine to those in bitter distress;
let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.

Isaiah 28:7
These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink; the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are swallowed by wine, they stagger with strong drink, they reel in vision, they stumble in giving judgment.

Hosea 4:10-11
They shall eat, but not be satisfied;
they shall play the whore, but not multiply,
because they have forsaken the Lord
to cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine,
which take away the understanding.

Micah 2:11
If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!

God, Show Me A Sign

How does the Holy Spirit work in the life of Christians? Is it through promptings that are based on a feeling we might get at any given moment? Is it through an unknown and ambiguous sign? I’m sure most of us have been in situations when you get a feeling or urge that you should do something and then a few moments later you start to think better of it and question whether this is really something you should do or not; before you know it you’re on a teeter totter going back and forth in your mind. Was this a prompting from the Holy Spirit?

The Bible says God is not a God of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). So, what does the Bible say about how the Holy Spirit works and leads in a Christians life?

The Holy Spirit is…
-Active in salvation.
(John 16:8-11; Titus 3:5)
-Active in assurance of salvation. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
-Active in Sanctification or the spiritual growth of a Christian. (2 Thessalonians 2:13; John 14:15-16)
-Active in guiding us in truth. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13)
-Active in the perseverance of faith. (2 Timothy 1:13-14, Romans 8:1-17; Ephesians 3:14-19)
-Active in helping us pray. (Romans 8:14-15; Romans 8:26-27)
-Active in giving us wisdom or the practical application of our faith. (Romans 12:9-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)
-Active in promoting Christian unity. (Ephesians 4:1-4)
-Active in fighting sin and pursuing righteousness. (Ephesians 6:10-20)
-Active in reasonable and practical Christian living. (Proverbs; Isaiah 11; Philippians 4:4-9)
-Active in discernment. (1 John 4:1-6; Acts 6:10; Hebrews 5:14)
-Active in producing the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16-26)

As we can see the work of the Holy Spirit is based in truth, the truth of God’s word; not in an ambiguous feeling or sense. The work of the Spirit helps us in practical daily Christian living. The Holy Spirits work is helping us actively live our faith out in a fallen, sinful, and hostile world towards God and His word. We need the Spirit to open our eyes to the truth of the gospel, to flee sin and pursue righteousness, to have the courage to share the gospel with those around us, to endure suffering and persecution, and to live with wisdom and discretion.

There is nothing ambiguous about that, rather it’s first and foremost about learning to become obedient and submissive to God and His word. And when you are living a life seeking obedience to Him, then He will guide you in His way and His time in those areas where there may be more freedom in choice; such as what job should I work, where should I live, who should I date or marry (within the Christian faith), etc…

We should not be living our Christian life based on senses, feelings, or perceived signs from God; but rather our lives should be guided by the Holy Spirit who practically helps us live out the truth found in God’s word.

A final warning about reckless living
Proverbs 14:6
One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.

Jeremiah 23:32
Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the Lord, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the Lord.

2 Timothy 3:1-5
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Casual Christianity

Excerpt taken from this article: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/06/23/im-pastor-and-want-to-quit-church-now.html

“Only 39 percent of active believers consider the Bible as the literal word of God. Only 5 percent have shared their faith with a non-believer. More than half of all church members attend church once a month or less.

If we quit the casual way we approach God’s principles can you imagine what would happen in our personal walks of faith and in our community of believers?

My conversations over the past several years revealed the spiritual habits necessary for personal and church growth and revealed the “why” behind disengagement in the church.

The truth is, if we don’t feel passionate about something we don’t do it. If we don’t like something that happens in the church, we find another one. If the spiritual practices don’t fit our lifestyle, then we don’t do them.

This mindset permeates our “I want it now and I want it my way” culture and is only enforced through social media, website choices, TV options and countless other platforms that have risen in prominence in our lives. This is not the way God intended the church to live.

Jesus felt the church was worth dying for – it should be our mission as Christians to value living for it.”

Christian Women are More Committed to Faith than Men

Excerpt from: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/christian-women-religious-christian-men/

“As a study conducted by the Pew Research Center finds, based on a broad range of factors, Christian women in the United States express a higher level of religiosity and religious commitment than Christian men.

For example, more than seven-in-ten Christian women (72 percent) say religion is “very important” in their lives, compared with 62 percent of Christian men.

Women are also more likely than men to read Scripture at least once a week (49 percent vs. 40 percent) and believe the Bible is the Word of God (78 percent vs. 72 percent).

While there are likely to be numerous factors that influence this gap, I suspect the most important is the difference in Bible reading habits. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers for Bible reading and prayer.

 

 

 

 

As Donald Whitney says, the most important spiritual discipline is “the intake of God’s Word. No factor is more influential in making us more like the Son of God than the Spirit of God working through the Word of God.” Whitney also adds that “of all the Spiritual Disciplines, Prayer is second only to the intake of God’s Word in importance.” Prayer is second in importance because it relies on our knowledge of God, which comes from reading his Word. Without engagement with Scripture, our prayers are lacking. It’s like having a phone conversation in which the other person can hear us but we can’t hear them.

While I don’t want to underestimate the complexity of addressing the problem, I think the core solution is to encourage Christian men to read their Bibles. What if women are more inclined to pray, attend church, and say their faith is very important to them simply because they’ve first taken the time to encounter God in his Word?”

 

 

Source: Article: “Why Are Christian Women More Religious Than Christian Men?” by Joe Carter

Treating Others as Objects

An Excerpt from “A Culture of Freelance Relationships”

 

“An article entitled “Sexual Freelancing in the Gig Economy” (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/15/opinion/sexual-freelancing-in-the-gig-economy.html) appeared in the New York Times. Its premise is this: economics influences dating.

And here’s where things get interesting: the article argues that dating simply “applies the logic of capitalism to courtship. On the dating market, everyone competes for him or herself.” Hold on. Is this really the way we view dating? Honestly, I think we have to own it: We do, in fact, tend to treat people as objects instead of people. But is this the way it should be?…Many of us treat relationships like unpaid internships: We cannot expect them to lead to anything long-term, so we use them to get experience. If we look sharp, we might get a free lunch.

What can we do, then, to confront a worldly attitude that promotes using other people? I think we must start here: as single people looking to date other single people, we must take each other seriously. People are not to be invested in for the simple return they may yield to us.

Jesus’ words are hard to hear: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25); “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

In the topsy-turvy ethic of the Kingdom, true life on this planet looks more like losing an investment than gaining a profit. Love looks more like the cross than the crown. Meaningful relationships look more like the servant who washes feet rather than the master whose feet get washed.

In other words . . .

Meaningful Relationships Are Costly

We need to steep ourselves in the truth that meaningful relationships cost time. In an age of instant gratification and constant distraction, simply finding the time to talk meaningfully about life is rare.

Meaningful relationships also cost the facade. The thing about the freelance mentality of relationships in our culture is that this constant shopping around helps us avoid the true vulnerability that comes with meaningful relationships, where we are both known and loved, not simply for our accomplishments but for our failures as well.

Does the prevalent view of humanity we pass to singles look more like the gig-relationship mindset that pervades our culture? Or does it look more like Jesus, who takes us and our lives seriously from the outset, who served us that we might be washed, and who sacrificed Himself that we might have life in Him?”

 

Source: (https://www.harvestusa.org/culture-freelance-relationships/)