It’s a New Year, and all about fresh starts. That brings us new accounting records, new insurance deductible totals, new calendars, new year resolutions. How many of you have made New Year's Resolutions in the past? How many of you have broken them? Multiple polls from sources such as Statistic Brain Research Institute, Forbes, & US News & World Report (to name a few) claim the number of people that keep resolutions, ranges from a high of 20% to a very commonly quoted low of only 8%. Why do we break these resolutions? One of the articles read, gives a very thoughtful explanation as to why: “Make resolutions you've thought through and are willing to dedicate your time and energy to... If you're not 100 percent committed to your goal, the odds of staying motivated are not in your favor." We break them because it is not what they truly wanted from the bottom of their heart in the first place. We break them because our hearts just aren't in it; because it really isn't important enough to give whatever it takes to make it happen.
How many of you have ever listened to a solid, undeniable Biblical Truth about something God would have you do in love and obedience to Him, and you know that you were not going to change? And you are still living that way now—intentionally. I don't mean you hear a Truth and yet you still fall sometimes, or that you stop sinning forever, or even that you don't continue to struggle with something for an extended period—I mean that you know God, in His Wisdom and Word, is telling you that you cannot do something in life if you love Him and trust Him.? I mean when you absolutely know God’s Word says you are against Him, and His will, and you choose your way; indefinitely; completely; every time. And go on determined to continue in your life as though all is okay. But you’re not okay… James 2:14, 17-26. God loves you no matter what you have done or will do; it is God's sacrifice and only His sacrifice that saves—nothing we can do—but Jesus' Blood was shed for, “whosoever!”, right? That means, “whosoever” would truly accept and love Him for His Gift!” Not, “whosoever” would use Him, use His Name, and His Blood to get what they want. The very Blood of our Creator was not shed flippantly, and carelessly for those who make nothing of Him; nothing of how much He loves; nothing of how much He sacrificed; nothing of how Holy His Character is; nothing of what His desires, and wants may be. Matthew 7:20-21, James 2:17-26. Some of you believe there is One God, and His Name is Jesus; and you sing songs to Him at worship; and you even come to the altar sometimes, to pray; but that belief in Him has not altered one thing in your life to please or serve Him. If you know this is you, let me give you a sobering look at a few Biblical Truths that you need to consider: Truth #1- You have no real knowledge or wisdom in the ways of God whatsoever. Proverbs 9:10, Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 14:27, Proverbs 15:33. You may think you know Him, but you do not know the real God if you are living for yourself, and have no fear of Him. Why should we be fearful? Because all of God’s commands are there to teach us to love others, to love Him, and to live selflessly, and God isn’t exactly naïve or desperate; He knows that if we just flat out ignore or refuse these commands, we are only living for ourselves, no matter what our lips say. We should be in fear that He will not be fooled or mocked; that we are not secure in our place with Him; that we are headed for an eternity without Him; that our fake life is not accepted. Truth #2- we are literally Jesus Christ to so many people, and you have accepted that wonderful, difficult burden when you accepted Him. 2 Corinthians 5:20. You are supposed to be so filled with Christ, that you love and act as He does. Would people know you are Christ’s disciple based upon your lifestyle and attitude? With no church or conversation involved? Would they know by your sacrificial life for Him? Is your life for Christ even costing you anything? Would they know by the way you see and treat others? Or, are you the example and influence to cause people to go further from Christ, if they act as you act? This is a heavy weight if you know God is real. Understand this: if no one else can definitively tell you adore Him by your life and sacrifices, you probably don’t. Truth #3- If you are purposefully, willingly living and acting in a way that you know displeases God, you do not love Jesus Christ, as you say you do, maybe, as you even think you do. John 8:31, John 15:14, Matthew 12:49-50, 1 John 2:3-6, John 14:15, 21, 23-24. Jesus did not die for a religion—He died for your love. He wants a real, committed relationship. If you are okay with hurting Him, and disappointing Him, and rejecting His way of life, it is not a relationship to you—it is self-serving. Jesus spilled His Blood to save those who would love Him back; and though your actions cannot save you, if you see all He has done, all He's given, how great His love is, and it doesn't motivate you to give back, to change your way of seeing things, to be happy in sacrificing things for Him, to putting Him above self or others in life, if it doesn’t make you want to stop doing the very things that caused Him to shed His Blood to desperately save you; do not fool yourself into believing that you belong to Him. The question is not does He love you; the question is not whether His blood alone covers those who have accepted Him; the question is simply this: have you ever truly loved Him and accepted His gift? Because if you will live according to your wants, and follow your desires and goals, and refuse to live for Him, or sacrifice for Him, or trust His wisdom over your own; you have not accepted Him and His gift; you are living for self. He has accepted you; He has died to pay your way; but you have not ever truly accepted Him. James 2:17-24; Genesis 22:10-12. Abraham let his life show love the most the moment he was willing to let go of all that was dear for God. Does God know you love Him by what you sacrifice to follow His Word in love? There are people who believe deeply that God exists, but, the problem is, they have tricked themselves into also believing they love and serve Him, when they don’t. Based upon these Scriptures alone, and based upon what they know God is telling them in their own hearts, they are not loving Him, they are lost.
Hebrews 3:12-14, Galatians 4:8-9, 11, Colossians 1:21-23, 2 Peter 2:19-22: There are probably some here, who truly did start their walk in love and excitement for Christ, but have made a conscious choice since that time, to follow what they desire over that love for Christ. These Scriptures clearly, repeatedly say they have walked away from Christ in their passions. Does this mean that when we sin, we are lost? Absolutely not! Christ never leaves or forsakes us; Christ never gives up on us. What it does mean, is that when we have chosen sin consciously and purposefully over Him as a way of life, we walk away from the love we had. He still loves us; He still waits for us; but He will let us go, in our freedom. There are people who do not belong to the 8% club, and have either never truly given their lives to Christ in real love and surrender, but have instead had a moment of, “easy believism!”, and their lives reflect an unchanged heart, and a love for self; or, those who started strong for Christ, but through pain, anger, or desire for the world, have walked away from God, though they may not even acknowledge it, and are living a life that shows they have embraced the world over Christ. You have to realize you are not where you may think you are! And a trip to the altar in brokenness is a great start, but not the whole answer. You have to truly choose Him; trust Him; follow Him in obedience and sacrifice—no matter the change or cost. Your torn life is not in joy, as God intended!
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