Foolish Decisions

Foolish Decisions

We all make foolish decisions like ordering pizzas with anchovies and extra jalapeños for a party or buying one of those ugly Christmas sweaters. We are human; foolish decisions seem to be what we do the best.  

As followers of Jesus, our humanity is often a burden that wars against us. This “war” is explained in several New Testament Scriptures such as Galatians 5:17 ESV, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

The progeny of Adam has become profoundly flawed and seem to be more so with each passing generation. A great example of human frailty while desiring God’s will is the Bible’s account of King Amaziah.

As you remember, Judah became its own country while the rest of the Israelites formed their own country. Well, King Amaziah, the king of Judah, was trying to be obedient to the LORD, but when war broke out, he thought he needed more troops, so he rented 100,000 soldiers from Israel. He paid a ton of money to “rent” these Israelite soldiers.

A prophet of the LORD came to King Amaziah

During the time of King Amaziah, all of Israel was wiped out; only the tribe of Judah was following God. So, when a prophet of the LORD came to King Amaziah and told him not to use the Israelite troops but to send them home the king was perplexed and worried about all the nonrefundable money he spent. But, God came and reassured him he would be blessed beyond the amount of the king’s wasted cash.

We see in 2 Chronicles 25:9, Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about the hundred talents (i.e., money) I paid for these Israelite troops?” The man of God replied, “The Lord can give you much more than that.” Foolishly, King Amazon later challenged Israel to a battle – he lost the fight and Jerusalem was sacked and left in ruins,

Whatever your weakness, whatever aspects of your life, you make bad decisions, ask God in a solemn prayer for self-control and guidance by the Holy Spirit. Also, find a spiritually mature Christian that can help you be accountable. Don’t be like King Amaziah and continue to make destructive decisions. And, hey, don’t buy that ugly Christmas sweater. It’s July, for crying out loud!

Photo credit: ramseymohsen on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

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Ford 9N

As a young man living on a small farm, I learned how to plow a field. We had an old, underpowered Ford 9N tracker. Unfortunately, anything I tried to do would kill the engine every few minutes. There were times when I thought 9N should be pronounced “nein” because its answer to everything I tried was “No!”

There’s a skill one has to develop to plow effectively. Plowing takes work, especially with a 9N. I was constantly adjusting the depth of the plow over uneven terrain, keeping the furrows straight, adjusting the speed of the tractor to create consistent furrows while compensating for varying densities of the ground, varying moister content and other factors, all of which requires an unrelenting focus. And, I had to set my sight on something at the very end of the field and then plow my way to that place, never wavering.

As I grew older, I grew careless. I thought I had mastered this skill. I would let my mind wander, and then I started making mistakes. Even worse results occurred when I’d get in a hurry because I had someplace else I wanted to be. I put my hand to the plow but looked back (or ahead in my case). I would get to the end of the field and discover I missed my mark by three feet; trying to fix it was just an act of futility. Look what Jesus said about this problem:

Luke 9:62 (NIV) Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

It is perilous to tamper with the world; we must not look at its pleasures or seek its society. I’m not implying losing our salvation, but I am saying we can miss out on our reward in God’s kingdom. Our disqualification from a work Jesus has called us to rarely is due to actually returning to the world, but rather a reluctance to break from it. Christ will not accept “conditional service.”

Neither hardship, nor bereavement, nor home ties are an acceptable “absence from work (see Luke 14:25-33).” Let’s keep our focus where it belongs, not for fear of what we might lose but for the joy set before us to join with Jesus in His work “while it is still called today (Hebrews 3:13).”

Larry Norman wrote a song about this condition called “I am your servant.” Here’s Honeytree singing this powerful song:

I am Your servant

“Ford Ferguson 9N tractor 1942” by Charles01 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ford_Ferguson_9N_tractor_1942.jpg#/media/File:Ford_Ferguson_9N_tractor_1942.jpg

The law of discipleship

Sometimes difficult teachings contain joy in them. This devotional is one of those teachings.

Note: I use myself in this brief commentary out of ignorance. I don’t know what you or others do to practice the law of discipleship. Therefore, I’m left with me. That is sad. Please feel free to add in the comments section how you practice this law.

First, let’s look at this primary law of discipleship from Jesus: Luke 9:23-24, Then he [Jesus] said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

This concept is so important that it is also recorded in Matthew 16:24 and Mark 8:34 as well as Paul’s declarations in Romans 8:36 and 1 Corinthians 15:31. It’s so crucial that Meyer’s NT Commentary points out that the phrase, “whoever wants to save their life will lose it,” in the Greek can be translated, however, shall have lost himself, or have suffered damage.” 

The idea that Jesus proclaimed goes far beyond denying ourselves some pleasure or profit. Nevertheless, denials can serve as reminders, hence the reason for “Ash Wednesday” and Lent leading up to Easter Sunday. So, here’s what I try to do, daily, all year. It may seem dumb to you and please know I am NOT saying these are what you need to do.

  • In the morning I make it a point of reading a Scripture before I read anything else. Yes, even Facebook. 😉
  • I make it a practice not to eat before I read at least a passage of Scripture and pray.
  • I typically write my devotionals during this time. I may eat while writing, but occasionally I feel that the Holy Spirit wants me to stay focused, so I delay breakfast.
  • I make it a point to daily pray the Lord’s prayer, not because I believe it is an ecumenical mandate but because I want to spiritually join all the other Christians in the world that are praying the words of Jesus to our Father.
  • Throughout the day I look for ways to put the law of discipleship into practice. That may including talking to a stranger about Jesus, working on my devotional websites instead of my two technical sites, and so forth.
  • Praying to our Father for the guidance, promotion, health, and welfare of those on my prayer list – this includes you and each person that has taken their time to read a devotional on my site.
  • Ministering, if God so chooses to use me.
  • Other stuff that is for Christ but I won’t share lest I lose my blessing in them.

Any day that I fail to put into practice this law of discipleship is a day wherein  I suffer damage. My prayer is that you make this is a day of gain and blessing; take up your cross for Jesus.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

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