Friday, January 11, 2008

Moving BEYOND Good Intentions in 2008

Isn't it wonderful to see lives that are transformed by God? Sometimes though, while we may have good intentions, it won't lead to much fruitfulness unless we take action and turn our good intentions into reality.
And many times it takes radical pain to make a radical change. The good news is that we can avoid that pain if we use wisdom to change.

We're always looking for measurable signs that we are doing good. It may be a grade, a compliment, a raise, or an award that gives us confidence that we're on the right track.

However, God gives us His sign as to whether or not we are mature in our love: "…whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected" (1 Jn 2:5). The word "perfected" is sometimes more appropriately translated as "matured." So what this means is that God's love is seen in our lives as mature when how we live starts to match what we believe. Yet too often we rate ourselves by our intentions. We sometimes feel if we have a desire to worship and serve God, we chalk it up to "good enough". Yet, is desire enough? The Bible says it is he who keeps His word who will understand what a mature love is all about.

We have to have more than a religious desire. "…the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 Jn. 2:6). In other words, if we know how to get beyond good intentions, then our love matures. Too many of us live on our intentions thinking that worshipping God is enough. Then how do we bridge the gap or chasm between intending to serve God and actually serving God? There are three things that we can do to get beyond just good intentions. The first is …


"…everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness … But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil" (Heb. 5:13-14). The word "practice" is an apprentice's word. In the Greek, it's where we get the word echo from. For example, it means to copy or mimic a master craftsman or carpenter. In other words, the Bible says solid food is for the mature who because of practice follow God's ways until it becomes natural. Often however, our conflict is when we don't feel like it. People sometimes think it's hypocritical to do something we don't feel like doing. The truth is that when our actions are right, we train our senses and heart to know when we are acting faithfully and it eventually becomes natural.

So our mood or feeling should not determine our action. In fact, when we became a Christian our mood or emotion is not saved, thus we must train or practice what we know is right. For instance, even if we may not feel like going to church, we still practice what is right instead of letting our feelings dictate our actions. So that's the first step toward getting beyond good intentions. Another important requirement is to …


We need to ask ourselves this question: Will we match what we believe to the way we live or will we match how we live to what we believe? When we let the way we live dictate our beliefs, it is like rationalizing away our sins. The result is evidenced in the dilution of our churches because we have this knack of matching what we believe to how we live. And then there's no guilt.

So what should we do? Well to develop a deep understanding, insight, and mature love we need to establish parameters or limits on our behavior and stick to them. This means we have to decide to give up certain things, stay away from certain places or people, or not watch certain movies. This may sound restrictive, but it is actually empowering. Consider this: a river without a bank is a swamp. Force without direction is an explosion. Fire without control is an inferno. A road without road signs is a one-way ticket to being lost. A mind without discipline is insanity. A life without discipline is a life wasted. A roller coaster runs on rails and is a lot of fun, but would be a disaster if released from those rails.

The same goes for us. We have to set up for ourselves parameters in order that we will have direction and clarity of life. We must not let the Devil dupe us into believing God has put too many limits on us and thinking we will never become who He wants us to be. Those lies lead to death and destruction of marriages, relationships, and lives. Instead…"Set up for yourself roadmarks, place for yourself guideposts…" (Jer. 31:21). We have to set up parameters and guidelines for ourselves because no one can do it for us. You see often our hearts have a tendency wander, but when that happens we can say to ourselves, "No, I want to serve Jesus Christ or my heart is for the Lord or I will think on the things God wants me to think about." However, if that tendency still persists, stop and pray "Holy Spirit, come fill me afresh." Get beyond good intentions by setting limits.

The Bible says: "Listen, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way" (Prov. 23:19). This means that we must give our hearts direction and not let our hearts rule our actions. Surrounding ourselves with guideposts will help keep us on the right track. One parameter we must set is watching the kinds of friends we have because the Bible says bad company corrupts good morals. Bad friends have a tendency to remove those guardrails and parameters we've set for our lives. So prune your life of bad friends.

Then God says we have a mature love, one of wisdom that puts good intentions into action. So the first thing we must do is practice what is right. Next, set parameters in place and respect them. Finally, in getting beyond good intentions…


Do you know what's valuable to God? It's not our faith it is proof of our faith. When we have faith in Christ, something is produced because it changes not just our philosophy, it transforms us. The Bible says, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.
"…the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:7). So ask yourself, is there any proof of your faith? The fruitfulness of our lives will be proof. Actually tithing, not just intending to tithe is proof. Journaling and devotions are proofs of our faith. If we only have intent but no action, we will struggle.

So I beg you to practice your faith, set parameters, and establish proofs. From time to time, look at your calendar and journal to remind yourself of proofs of your faith you know you are on track. Remember, the proof of your faith is more precious than gold to God. Then when Jesus returns there will be confidence, honor, and glory when we act beyond good intentions.

So practice over and over what is right even when we do not feel like it. That means we must be sure to match our actions to what we believe. Secondly, we must set parameters for our lives and respect them. It may mean pruning away friends, activities, and thoughts that tend to rationalize sinfulness. Finally, establish measurable proofs -- not just intentions of our faith because that is most valuable to God. Then our good intentions will turn to fruitfulness.

Study Questions.

1. How are you keeping God's word by practicing what is right? In what areas can you improve? In what areas are you staying on track?

2. How has that practice helped you to train your senses and heart?

3. What is the most difficult parameter you've set for yourself and how do you keep from being tempted to relax those guideposts?

4. Many of us have faith yet fail to get beyond good intentions. Is there solid evidence or proof of your faith? What evidence do you have that proves that?

"All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong with our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do." (2 Tim. 3:16-17 NLT)

My prayer for you is that you have a wonderful weekend! I hope to you seen you in our services Sunday! Blessings!

This weekend's "THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR" reading:

Today (January 11, 2008)-Genesis 31:1-36:43
Saturday (January 12, 2008)-Genesis 37:1-41:57
Sunday (January 13, 2008)- Genesis 42:1-45:28

THIS WEEKS VERSE TO "HIDE IN YOUR HEART": Psalm 119:11 "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."

How did you do on last week's verse? 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Pastor Rusty

Bible Study Tools online: (This has different versions of the Bible for you to read from, as well as Audio Bible for you to listen to) (Different Devotionals. Some you can have sent to your email daily) (Great study sight) (My favorite. You can download Bibles, dictionaries, commentaries to your computer. I use this daily) (International Bible Society. Different translation of Bibles for you to read from) (My wife's online Bible Study) (Daily Bible reading, prayer request, etc. Laurie Adams (Associate Pastor Wife) developed and maintains)


Anonymous said...

We do God a great wrong when we do not take our intentions a step further and make them reality instead of a thought. We need to "put skin on" the good intentions we have and make them come to life. God blesses us by speaking, directing, and giving us wisdom to see the things He would have done and He give us so great a privaledge by being a part of His work. Intentions are good for me. Putting skin on my intentions are Jesus to a lost and dying world, and THAT's what it's about. Thanks Pastor for another topic that we can apply to our daily lives.

Pastor Bill