Choosing Each Day: God or Self finale

By no means is this the end of the mindset to choose God first thing in the morning and throughout the day just because it’s the end of a 3 day Bible study. A few takeaways for me include:

• Write Joshua 24:15 in as many places I can, make it phone lock screen even!
• Pray, pray, pray…pray for God to clear your mind, to consume your heart and to guide your every word, thoughts and action!
• You have a choice to make with every moment of the day, pray for peace, hope, and renewal of your mind and heart!

Joshua 24:15
15But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Lamentations 3:22-24
22Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

SWORD
What do we learn about God?
God is sovereign but has given us free will to make a choice. We have the choice to love or hate. Would we be able to give glory if we were programmed to only love or to “automatically” love God with no choice otherwise? The ability to set our sights, hearts and minds on God is glorifying to Him who gave us life.

What do we learn about people?
We are a wretched, ungrateful creation. We are susceptible to the slightest distraction, the most obvious deceptions and can display 0% loyalty with the drop of a hat. What if you were to build a robot with robust AI but programmed it to love only you, no matter what you did? Would that be gratifying knowing that the robot had no other choice? Fortunately we are not programmed only one way, unfortunately, we often make the wrong choice, a poor choice that can have eternal consequences.

Is there a command to obey?
Turn your heart and set your sights on the one and only true God.

Is there a command to follow?
With every thing, every day, CHOOSE who you are going to follow.

I will continue on my journey to CHOOSE God and document my experience here.

-Brad

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Choosing God Each Day – Baby Steps

Disclaimer: A lot of reading and backstory, jump all the way down to the bottom if you want, I won’t be offended.

Day 2 of my Choosing Each Day: God or Self? Bible study from you version.com started at about 1:05am for me this morning. My youngest son is sick, “likely just a viral infection” the doctor said, since flu and strep tests came back negative (THANK YOU, LORD!). Because he is not feeling well and under the weather, the recommended medicines were rest and hydration. So, we’ve been letting him sleep outside of our typical structure because sleep is the foundation to the healing process as doctors say. Which, by the way, if this is true, why do they wake you every 2-3 hours during your hospital stay? Hmm.

If you were to become ill 2,000 years ago in the empire of the Ancient Greeks, you would have sought out an Asclepian physician. The Asclepians were priestly healers and the immediate predecessors to the better-known Hippocrates (of Hippocratic oath fame). Your medical management would have included an invitation to a private coastal villa for a retreat with plenty of rest and sleep for five or six days. A subsequent interpretation of your dreams from that time of restitution would be seen as divine inspiration to guide your treatment course.

5 or 6 days of plenty of rest or sleep?? Are the Asclepians and their Grecian villas still around? Forget Disneyworld, I know where my next vacation is going to be! Oh man, I’m getting way off topic…

Back to the story, my wife is sick as well right now. We were concerned because they both were under the weather around the same time but, once again, the doctor ruled out the major bugs going around this time of year and chalked her suffering up to a pretty bad case of allergies, otherwise known as cedar fever, aka, the plague of Central Texas during this time of year.

So, how does all of THAT fit into this study and the reason for divulging too much? Well, like I said earlier, my day started at 1:05am with my bedroom door shutting from my wife, being an amazing wife and returning with a peanut butter sandwich for my son, who is sick and on an odd sleep schedule right now. I know she didn’t wake me on purpose, she was actually in and out of our room catering to my son most of the night! Whether it was a cup of water, taking him potty, another snack, more motrin, she was likely in and out about a dozen times before this last time woke me up.

During times like this, we try to strategize and prepare for the battle that is coming. You may be familiar with this battle when you have a sick child, it’s called, “being able to care for your sick loved ones without losing your mind”. As a parent, you will need to change your cycles as well which means there will be lack of sleep and sacrifices made (no, not the Isaac kind although, we do have a history of “sleep eating” in this family). Speaking of sleep deprivation, there’s a reason it’s used on prisoners around the world…it is a scary-powerful tactic that can break a person, ruin a marriage and misconfigure your face to where every small child will hear you for miles around! I’m joking of course but, if you are going to suit up for such a battle, you have to have a method to be able to fall asleep when necessary so you can wake when necessary (my method: look up “10 hours of ocean sounds on youtube, I don’t think I last more than 5 minutes).

So with our youngest asleep by 7pm, we both knew he would likely be waking up anywhere from 10pm to 1am. Well, I say, “we” as my wife and I are usually a team (team is too gracious for my contributions…she does 99% of everything and I might be able to handle the 1% she left for me to do. Not that she thinks I’m incompetent but, she is just that awesome and handles the vast majority without keeping score.) during these times and we have our process ironed out but, with her down for the count, I knew I needed to take action and do what is necessary. So, I went to bed around 8pm. “Wow! What a sacrifice!” you might be thinking but I’m not mentioning this for my own attention, just setting the stage to show you my process to rest up because I will need energy later. I realize 8pm might be perfect or even late for some of you, it’s actually a little early but not by much, I prefer to be in bed at 9 so it’s all good and, once again, I’m sharing more than you want to know.

Now we are all 3 asleep so waking up whenever our youngest wakes up and needs attention or necessities, I should be in good form at least. But, I must be a heavy sleeper because I could tell from the cups and the crust on a paper plate and the fact the bathroom light was on that she instinctively did what a mother does and catered to our son while I slept. Once I was awakened, I assured her, “I have it from here” and…sorry, no joke, quick diversion…it’s now 3:05am and he was asleep about 20 minutes ago so I came out to the living room to dive into my study but I heard the pitter patter running in the hallway and he came out here asking for a bean burrito lol! Of all things…oh well, maybe that means he’s feeling better and the bean burrito should be filling and help him get back to sleep. Bean burrito delivered and he’s laying down with that sleepy look in his eye again, we’ll see if it holds. Meanwhile, mom is sleeping through all of this thankfully. I will probably want to crash again around 8pm tonight so I’m doing what I can, when I can, with what I have. Napping won’t be an option today (busy work schedule) so I pray that it works out a bit similarly tonight with a bit more sleep and then everyone heals quickly. Not that I mind trying to laughably fill her shoes in any way. Believe me, my wife is Mrs. Amazing and when I try to fill in and serve the way she serves, it is nowhere close!

Ok, let’s get back on track with the study and how it’s going, shall we? Today’s devotional really hit home this morning, I immediately went into the posture and prayer I should have defaulted to much earlier in the “day” but even more so, in my life.

Remembering from the day before in the study, Joshua 24:15 reminded us, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Today’s devotional included these words: “How might this choice play itself out, especially first thing in the morning? It seems that most people usually spend a few minutes gathering their thoughts for the day before they get out of bed in the morning. In these moments it can be a temptation to choose to think first about our day, our schedule, what we need to do, who needs to be where, etc. Before we know it, we can fall prey to the lies of the enemy and begin dreading our day or feeling overwhelmed by it, and then try to tackle it as soon as our feet hit the floor.

What if, instead, we were to choose the Lord? What if, by God’s grace, we would choose to fight our sinful flesh, put it to death as God’s Word instructs us, and set our minds on His way instead of allowing our thoughts to run amok? Practically, what would this look like?

We would begin by thanking the Lord for the gift of a new day and acknowledge that He alone is sovereign, that He alone is in control—not us. And then by His grace we would put aside our thoughts, our concerns, and our agendas and draw near to God by spending time in His Word and in prayer.”

After reading that far into the devotional and feeling hit upside the head with the reminder, I immediately went into prayer and did just that. It felt great, it felt natural and it made me think, “why don’t I do this already?” I know I have done this in the past but not only did it forcefully come about once I was reminded like this or convicted but it was also very short-lived I hate to admit. I am praying for God’s intervention to wash my selfish heart and help me assume this posture naturally. To make it my natural state when I wake and at all times in between.

My pastor recently preached on a “Journey To Freedom”, a very encouraging and refreshing journey through the steps of salvation and ability to grow in your faith that will only come when you have freedom. I’m paraphrasing and simplifying it more than it should be, it’s an incredible multi-part study that I encourage you to check out, it will likely be the best use of your time! – Journey To Freedom

There was something very impactful that was said, more of a challenge to me, that went along the lines of, “Fall in love with your Bible.” Psalm 119:97-100 was referenced:

97Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
98Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
99I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
100I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.

This particular scripture hit me hard in a number of ways. First of all, these verses were already highlighted in my Bible…BY ME! I don’t remember doing it, not sure why I did it, maybe for the same reasons I went to do it again when I saw the words up on the projector! I thought to myself, “Oh! I want to remember this and read it later!” but come to find out, I must’ve had that same revelation at some point years ago too!

Another way this scripture shook me was, I thought to myself, “You know, I used to read my Bible a LOT more than I do now…why is that??” That was a scary question but a wake up call that I was thankful to be alive and breathing to realize, therefore, that’s why I’m here writing about it, digging in to make the changes! Thank you, Pastor Peter for shaking me awake once again and giving me that nudge I needed (or as you say, “spur along” but that just sounds PAINFUL lol)!

Side note…it’s now 4:19am and the youngest just came out here to be on the couch with me so I’m going to try to wrap this up now so I can love on him and pray that the day is filled with restoration for mother and son.

SWORD

There were 3 passages today and I’ll try to verbalize what I got out of each one through this method.
Romans 8:1-14 (not a light topic by any means)
  • Because of our depravity and failure to live in the Law, we were doomed for eternity.  Through Christ Jesus, God has set us free.
  • The Law was weakened by the flesh so He sent His Son for our salvation.
  • To live in the flesh is death but to live in the Spirit is life!
  • To live in the Spirit is to be a Child of God!
  • Our natural, sinful state is to follow the flesh and obey what the flesh wants.
  • We are set free and no longer under this law, we know what the fruits of the flesh and the Spirit look like, pursue the latter!
  • If you belong to Christ Jesus, you have crucified the flesh!
  • Since you have been raised with Christ, set your mind and heard on things above, not on earthly things put these things to death or they will put you to death!
  • Clothe yourself with the virtues of the Spirit with the binding of Love, which holds it all together.
  • And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Well, there you have it…what seemed to be an inconvenience to me (waking at 1:05am for the day) has turned into a rich time to spend in the Word, prayer and service to my family. If I would have followed my flesh, stayed up late serving myself, therefore, waking up late to only serve myself more (and very shabbily as usual), I wouldn’t have this opportunity to write down my thoughts. Thank you, Lord for this day for it is pregnant with opportunity to serve and be your vessel to help guide others to You!

Choose Each Day: God or Self?

I started a new plan today. I’ve been feeling convicted for far too long to get back into my bible reading and study habits. This plan’s title stuck out to me as it hits directly home with my habits. Here’s a transparent, ugly, generalized view of my typical day:

– Wake up, check social media and news, what happened in the world and how will it affect me?

– Drive to work or begin work from home (I’m beyond blessed to be able to choose where I work from each day, only God could do this for a poor kid from Mississippi). Do I choose a sermon or biblical podcast to listen to on the commute or while I complete admin work? Hardly ever, lately. It’s either news, some worldly topic I’m interested in or music (and rarely God-glorifying music).

– Work all day, maybe get a lunch, interact with a few other self-professed Christians (in unintentional ways) but God, Jesus or anything related rarely ever comes up. Oh, I’m part of the Christian diversity group at my work but never go to our meetings or functions, another “check” in my own pathetic Christian box that I’m not proud of.

– Drive home, pick up kids from school. Work until about 6pm usually, dinner gets made miraculously from my wife (the miraculous part is that she’s still with me, still serves our ungrateful family and whips up the most delicious food, tailor made for all of our preferences (vegetarian, some don’t like this or that, she customized it all and eats last)). Needless to say, we don’t deserve her and she deserves way better but we are too busy thinking of ourselves. The ONLY thing we do that forces us to realize that there are others in this world is that we eat at the table, no tv and no devices although we slack on the no tv sometimes just to break the uneasy silence of no one really wanting to talk about their day unless it’s for the most selfish reasons (me, I, me, I, etc).

– Strict bedtime curfew of 8:30pm. The kids beg for some TV time since they have smart TVs in their rooms (big mistake if choosing spiritual walk with God, easy solution when choosing self). I bend and approve just to get the whining to stop. I turn on American Ninja Warrior for my 13 year old son and Austyn & Ally for my 11 yo daughter. I justify my actions by committing to a 30 minute limit (which I often forget because I get so wrapped up in my own comfort of not being bothered by them for the night) and thinking to myself, “well, there’s probably worse stuff they could be doing or watching.). They typically stay up past the time I would’ve cut off the TV judging by their grogginess and unwillingness to want to get up. Now I’m feeling guilty and likely stayed up too late myself due to my own desire to escape from the world…TVs in bedrooms I have to say are a huge regret.

– Now I’m in bed with my wife and 3 yo son, we do the co-sleep thing which I would never do if it were left up to me and my worship of self. Thank God for my wife and her heart because I deep down know that this nurturing produces compassion and kindness (and probably prevents us from having 2 dozen more kids). But this also produces a bit of dependency where the child is dependent on the need for us, which feeds into my ego. The child does have a bed at the foot of our own bed but I can count on one hand how many times he’s slept in that bed, and that’s ONLY because we put him there after he fell asleep elsewhere.

Well, I think that’s enough doom and gloom to paint the picture as to why I need more of Him and less of me. When it comes to gatherings of my fellow church friends and Christians, I try to wear the costume of a serving, unselfish, read-my-Bible-3-times-a-day Christian but I don’t think anyone buys it. My friends are way smarter than I am and can’t detect the lack of authenticity a good 2 miles away at the very least.

Since putting my faith in Jesus and professing to be a Christian, those first few years seemed to go quite well. I was on fire for God, read my Bible very often, participated in just about every study I could find and really felt good about my “walk”. Then I became confident I knew what I needed to know about God and didn’t think I needed any further study when, realistically, it was the equivalent of a 4 year old going to pre-School and, after finishing the first day, was convinced they had enough education to be independent and no longer require any further schoolin’. That story can be summed up in one word, foolish.

Now, during the midst of all of that journey (and this one too), one isn’t aware of the mistakes and damage that they are doing, at least, not to the full, realistic extent. This is one of Satan’s most useful tools, deception.  The past few years, I’ve known I need to do better, that what I was doing was not the life God wanted me to have but, it was all about me and those minuscule milliseconds in time where I would turn my attention and actions to Him, wouldn’t be noticeable to a flea.

So, here I am for the great I AM.

God did the unthinkable to the undeserving and kept me alive long enough to open my eyes to Him as well as bring my focus back TO Him. Death at any time in between might’ve meant a trip to hell for eternity or at the very least, a lifetime of explaining, guess we will eventually see in the future.

But, for now, through grace, I have been given a slap on the head and a spark back in my heart! Through actions that take away from me and focus on service and giving, I have been re-energized! Music, children and outreach ministries have all been impacting me as I serve and leading with a small group of fellow believers had just all been stoking the ashes and keeping the possibility of a raging fire alive! Thank you, God, thank you, Jesus, thank you to the people in my life, my family, my pastor, anyone that helps encourage as a Christian, thank you!!

Now, on to this study. It’s a 3 day study from YouVersion titled, “Choosing Each Day: God or Self – http://bible.com/r/2o3

I figure even I can do a 3 day study so I’m giving it a go, starting small but having bigger plans in mind. I really want to try to keep this study a bit streamlined, not overthink what is being spoken to me and just write down simply what comes to me right out of the gate…let’s begin.

Scripture: Joshua 24 1-15

SWORD

What do we learn about God?
God is faithful to His seevants, he will lead you to victory.

What do we learn about people?
People are weak, we will turn and fizzle out easily.

Is there a command to obey?
Fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness! Joshua 24:14

Is there a command to follow?
With everything, every day, CHOOSE who you are going to follow.

The fire is lit!🔥