There is no doubt that at some point throughout the week, we will make at least one poor decision. The extent and nature of that poor choice might not be big or have a big impact, but it is sure to happen. I don’t say this because I know you or am trying to cause you to stumble. Instead, I say this because we are not made perfect yet.
God created us to be skillful and useful for His Kingdom and His service. However, we haven’t been perfected yet. This will happen later when He brings us into His Kingdom. For now, there is grace for our mistakes and shortcomings; God’s Grace.
As we stumble about on earth during our lifetime, we have free will to follow God or to live for ourselves. God gave us this freedom of choice because He wants us to “choose” to follow Him. Otherwise, He would’ve just programmed us to only worship Him and nothing more. But with this freedom of choice comes great responsibility.
Many of us are falling short here.
So, we go about our days doing what we consider important to us. For some, this is to follow God; for others, this is to create the most comfortable life possible. Although this article is more directed to those who don’t know Jesus yet and those who do, but are struggling, it’s also a great reminder for those walking daily with Christ to pay attention to the way things are going.
In either scenario, we are susceptible to making poor choices. Although we might not see it immediately, for every action there is a result. This means, plant a seed of poor choices and yield a harvest of poor results.
We only need to look around us at our circumstance to gauge how we are doing here. Do you see a bounty of wonderful blessings or do you see nothing but stress and burdens and negative consequences?
We must change our ways if we want to improve
If you are like me, you will see the remnants of many poor choices. In my forty years so far, I have racked up quite the list of poor choices and I have the consequences to prove them. Even though it’s been many years since I made any big poor choices, the lasting consequences remain. This is the main reason that it feels important for me to talk about this.
I know that there are many people struggling through life making poor decision after poor decision. For them, every morning is another chance to see the results of their mistakes. What is the result of this routine? Well, for one, starting the day off looking at the negative; and two, starting the day off feeling defeated already. I can say this because I lived it for a long time, and still battle these thoughts.
In this article, I want everyone to leave feeling like there is hope for them; that they can be inspired to give it another try. But what I want everyone to understand is that only God will make this possible for each person.
As you read through this article, think about things that you would like to do better; also, things you would like to stop doing. Stop and write these down as they come to your mind, if need be. Because, later, you need to bring these to God in prayer.
We have the power to make temporary changes, but if we are trying to work under our own power apart from God, we are sure to burn out. There is a force in this world working against us. He does not sleep, and he does not take coffee breaks; just a constant chipping away at us in hopes to break us down. The only thing that can stop this evil force is a good force, which apart from God, we don’t have.
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The devil made me do it
Yes, the evil force I speak of is Satan. Surely, we have all heard of the devil! Well, I will say that he is always working at breaking us down by putting thoughts of doubt and fear into our minds. He is steadily trying to tempt and entice us with things that we want and desire for. Everything he does has a purpose; to create distance between us and the Living God.
If the enemy is successful with this, then we will spend eternity living with him, apart from God. His goal in fact, is to prevent us from even starting a relationship with God. This is because he knows that there is power in the name of Jesus; a power greater than his.
So, through deception and trickery, he is always putting destructive questions into our minds; “Are you sure there is a God?” “Are you sure you can be saved?” “Are you sure God has truly forgiven you?” “Do you really think God can use you for anything?”
But here is the important thing to understand about the enemy; the only power over us that he has is the power that we give to him. If we spend time listening to his lies or pondering the questions that he has for us to a point of siding with him, then we are handing him the direct power to our lives. We are essentially giving him our housekeys and telling him to make himself comfortable; and he will.
I have, and will continue to write, many articles concerning the nature of the enemy and how he is always trying to destroy us, but what I won’t do is credit him with our poor choices. Our poor choices are on us. This is because we have free will; remember?
We have free will to follow Jesus and we have free will to follow Satan. Satan can’t make us do anything. If we do give into a temptation that the enemy puts before us, it is because we made a choice to do that instead of to run from it.
If we have Jesus in our heart, we also have His Spirit in us
In Galatians 5:22-23, we are told about the Fruit of the Spirit. There are nine of these: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is the default characteristics package we get when we are born again into Christ; that is, when we choose to die to self and to live for Jesus.
What we get as a default characteristics package when we are born into this world is also listed in Galatians 5, but in verses 19-21. These are: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.
For the sake of this article and the point I’m trying to make, we will consider the ninth Fruit of the Spirit; Self-control.
Self-control is just that; our ability to control ourselves. We hear people say, “If only I could have some control over myself.” Well, we do. If we are trying to live for God, then we can have control over ourselves. Even if we aren’t doing life perfectly, we can still have control. Walking with God imperfectly is still far better than walking without God perfectly.
God’s Spirit in us, the Holy Spirit, is a faithful God. He is with us through the thick and thin of this life once we accept Jesus. Not only is He there when we make good choices, He’s also there when we make poor choices. The trick to walking in rhythm with the Holy Spirit is to learn to listen to what He is saying to us.
If we are about to do something wrong, and we get a feeling that this is wrong and might yield a poor result, this is the Holy Spirit trying to warn us to turn and run. However, due to free will, we will do exactly what we choose.
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Okay, I am tired of making poor choices; what can I do to change my ways?
At some point after trying to live in the mess we create for ourselves, we get to a place where we want to start over. Fortunately, there is such a place; Jesus.
We can swallow our pride, we can tuck our tail between our legs, and we can call out to Jesus: help!
At this time, Jesus, as faithful and trusty as He is, will show up and answer; “Yes?”
This is when it all turns around and we are given a new lease on life; this is when we humbly admit our failures to Him and ask Him to sort it all out for us and teach us the way that will lead to true living. And, He will.
Jesus won’t judge you for a single thing that you are asking forgiveness for. This is a common lie the enemy tells us; “Jesus can’t forgive you for that!” But don’t listen to him. Instead, read in Isaiah 43:25 where it tells us that not only does Jesus forgive us for our wrongdoings, He chooses to forget them, too!
Once we accept Jesus, we are given the Holy Spirit as God’s Seal on us; this marks us as His children. We are then marked, in essence, as “Do not destroy” for the upcoming Day of Judgment, unlike those who don’t choose Him.
So, this Spirit in us, God’s Spirit, is where the power to make unlimited good choices comes from. There is no end to God’s energy and patience and endurance, and this means when we have God in us, we can share in this unlimited endurance and patience.
After accepting Jesus, the only thing we need to do is to focus on how Jesus lived and do our best to live in the same manner. To break this down; trust God, love others, and do good.
We must use the wisdom that God gives us (God’s Wisdom is a different type than man’s wisdom) and think before we act. We must simply ask, “Is this good? Will this be helpful? Will this honor God? Will this produce a good result?”
By doing this before any choice we make moving forward, the Holy Spirit will guide us in this and if it’s wrong, will show us the way out.
5 Important changes to make
Now, we move on to some changes that we must make when moving from our old life to our new life. Even if you aren’t a new Christian, you still might be making mistakes on a continuous basis. This is common. I’m not saying it’s right; I’m saying it’s common.
We are all habitual people. Everything we do throughout the day is based on our habits and beliefs. If we are stuck living in an undesirable condition due to some poor choices and habits, then we only need to change our habits to change our conditions.
I will briefly go through five habits that will surely rectify any wrongs and improve overall conditions. How long will these changes take? That depends purely on God, your attitude, and how much work He needs to do in you. I would recommend putting your full trust into Him that He is able and will create a new person in you, regardless of how long this takes.
Don’t forget, we are not perfect. We will make mistakes. But we are made perfect with Jesus in us. This is what God see’s, and because He see’s His Son in us, He is willing to help us; no matter how big the task.
Here are five steps changes to make today:
- Stop doing anything that is destructive to your situation
- Surrender to Jesus
- Spend daily time in prayer with God
- Spend time daily reading God’s Word
- Develop a mindset of patience and contentment
1. Stop doing anything that is destructive to your situation
The first step to making anything better is to stop doing anything that makes it worse. The first step to getting out of debt is to stop financing new items. Likewise, the first step to living better is to analyze anything that is not helping your living conditions and eliminate those; no matter how much you hate to give it up.
Giving up certain habits might be difficult at first, but giving these up now will start yielding good results quite quickly.
If something feels too big to give up right away, work on the smaller things first. As God delivers you from your smaller poor habits, you will gain confidence and momentum, and then you will move into a position where God is able to deliver you from the bigger habit. Again, we must choose to give these up. God can and will deliver us from harmful things, but first, we must be willing in our hearts to give it up.
God is also faithful to reveal any and all things that are harmful, especially those that create a blockage to a right relationship with Him.
2. Surrender to Jesus
If you don’t know Jesus yet, all it takes is a simple prayer, you can see this link (Prayer for Salvation), to see how to accept Jesus.
Otherwise, if you are already a Christian who is struggling with self-control, full surrender to Jesus is still necessary. It is very easy to get caught up in the daily race in the world and allow Jesus to fade into the background. Of course, this isn’t ideal, but it happens. Slowing down, confessing sins and repenting, and seeking Jesus to help you get back on track is an important step here.
When we develop a routine where we wake up and seek God first, our day tends to go smoother. We start our day off on the right foot and we tend to be more focused on doing a good job unto God. It’s when we wake up and start thinking about whatever floods our minds that we get into trouble. Usually, the enemy is up early seeking to cause trouble in our thinking. Then, what we end up with is a day of stress and frustration because we started off on the wrong foot with negative thinking. When we are in a bad mood or are frustrated and stressed, that’s when it’s even more difficult to practice self-control.
3. Spend daily time in prayer with God
We need to spend time praying to God. This is our direct path to God. Not only when we need something should we pray, but instead, at all times and about all things. Anything that is on our heart should be brought to God. Anything that is troubling should be immediately brought to God as we don’t want to allow something to grow into a bigger thing.
If we feel that all is well, we can still go to God in prayer and thank Him for all that we have. In fact, prayers should be started with praise to God. Why would we run up to the High King and start demanding requests? Of course, we wouldn’t. Instead, we would give respect and praise to win His favor and to lift Him up to His position of authority, and then we would bring our requests.
But before bringing our requests, wouldn’t we first confess our sins and ask forgiveness of these? I mean, if we are in wrong-standing, do we really believe The Great King would grant us any request? Surely not!
However, when we do bring our wrongs to light and ask forgiveness, we can be sure that The King’s Grace is sufficient and that He has forgiven us. Then, when we move forward with our requests, we can do so knowing that we leave little reason for Him to deny us. If any request we bring to Him at this point is denied, we can be sure it’s not because we are walking in darkness, but instead, it’s because the King is wise and knows it won’t be good for us.
4. Spend time daily reading God’s Word
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”
The bible, which is God’s spoken word, also known as the Sword, is what we need with us at all times. In this dark world of deception, we must be filled with the Lord’s Wisdom. We get this directly from God, and God most often speaks to us through His Word when we spend time reading it.
If we ask Him to help us understand His bible before we sit down to read, this will surely make the reading more enjoyable. God’s bible is very deep and if we aren’t in the right mindset and if we don’t put on the right eyes, we won’t understand the scriptures we read.
We will read words, but they won’t have any real meaning. We will hear a preacher speak, and he will say this or that about a verse, but the person not able to understand the verse will say, “I didn’t get that from that verse.”
Just like coming into prayer with God is to come into His presence, opening up the bible and asking Him to open our eyes to it is also coming into His presence. It’s gaining access to His mind. The bible is God’s thoughts, written by several authors.
People who don’t walk with the Spirit of God in them will not be able to understand God’s Wisdom and revelations given throughout the bible.
We should see this new-found information from the bible as priceless and we should be eager to get as much of it into us as possible while we can. This is one of the few times where we can say “The more the merrier!”
5. Develop a mindset of patience and contentment
This might be the hardest part of these five changes, but with God’s help, this is possible. I don’t think it’s possible without God’s help. I struggled with contentment for many years, and everyday now, I still struggle with it. As I see stuff all around the internet and media and in the stores, I struggle to be content with where I’m at and what I have.
But the trick is this: focus more on God than on the things that we desire. Psalm 37:4 tells us; “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”
God wants us to live an enjoyable life. This includes having the desires of our heart. But first, He wants our greatest heart desire to be Jesus. If this is true about us, there is no saying of the limit of His blessing for us.
But just as it takes time to mold us into the character He desires, we must patiently endure the conditions we are currently in. When we pray, God might answer prayers immediately. More often than not, the answers come in time; in God’s time.
As we don’t understand God’s timing, we can get restless. In this time, we are wise to learn how to live confidently, knowing that God is working things out for us (Romans 8:28) and that in due time, it will all come together.
If we lack peace and joy, God will give us those. We can help the situation by considering all that is good in our lives. We can consider the people we know, the things we have, our health, our freedom, our skills, and we can start by praising God for these. When we do it this way, we open ourselves up to a position where God can help us and even bless us as He desires.
We are not slaves to bad choices. We can choose right or wrong. But we must live with the results from the choices we do make. If you are tired of living a difficult life due to poor choices, try making the changes listed in this article. Although it will take time, changed actions produce changed results.
God is able to do things in our lives that we can’t easily understand. Also, God works in His timing and in His way. This means, putting on attitude of patience and contentment is the wise choice. Just know that you are now working with a Champion on a plan to better your life and that in due time, it will all work out in a good way.
Matthew 6:20 says,
“Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.”
If life is difficult on earth, remember, time here is short compared to eternity. If you have asked Jesus into your life, just know that Heaven is where your true treasures will be. Even though we might have to put up with difficult situations here just to get by, we are told to store up treasures in Heaven. This means, love others and do good. This is pleasing to God, and this is behavior He will reward. Instead of worrying about the struggle here, focus on the promises there!
If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, you can follow this link (Prayer for Salvation) to find out how. Also, if you need prayer for your life or your family, feel free to fill out a private prayer request in the provided prayer box in this article. My wife and I would love to pray for you.