Be Careful How You Live
By Toni Smothers
"So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Donít act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do. Donít get drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you." (Ephesians 5:15-18 NLT)
Paul contrasts getting drunk with wine, which provides a temporary "high", to being filled with the Spirit, which brings everlasting joy. Today, getting "high" may look different. Thereís always the alcoholic beverage of choice, but now you guys are faced with pot, ecstasy, crack, cocaine, and all other kinds of illicit drugs. But as hard as it can sometimes be, getting "high" has to be part of a former way of life. Unfortunately, many are still trapped by the lure of the drugs and it is still a current way of life for them. That stuff is all about selfish desire and temporary fixes and it is sinful. In Christ, we have a better joy, higher and longer lasting cure to our depression, monotony, or anxiety and nervous energy.
Itís funny, but the world fears the power of the atom, yet we belong to the God of the universe, who not only created that atomic power but also raised Jesus Christ from the dead! Think about it. Godís incomparably great power is available to help you. There is nothing too difficult for Him.
Remember always that the long awaited Messiah has come to break the power of sin and begin Godís personal relationship with his people. You are one of those people. To identify with human beings, Jesus had to endure Satanís temptations too. Although Jesus is God, He is also man. He was human; he was born into the line of Abraham, whom God had chosen to be the father of a great nation, through which the whole world would be blessed. We are blessed because of what Jesus Christ, Abrahamís descendant, did for us.
Being fully human, Jesus was not exempt from Satanís attacks. Jesus faced temptations but overcame them Ė He can help us to do the same. He prayed openly to His Father for help and used the Word of God to fight Satan. He is our champion and our example of how to face temptation without sinning. It is the greatest of goals for a Christian to spend their life becoming more like Jesus, trying to live a life of love, forgiveness and purity. Just because it seems impossible to live a life like Christ did, that doesnít mean we canít grasp at it as hard as we can, as we then discover spurts of spiritual growth.
We often assume that Jesusí disciples were great men of love and faith from the first time they met Jesus and that we could never live up to such a high standard of faith and loyalty. But they had to grow in their faith just as all believers do. We should not be as concerned with how much of the Spirit of God we have, but rather with how much of us the Spirit of God has. Submit yourself daily to His leading and draw near with confidence in His power. Enjoy the love and total acceptance found in an intimate relationship with Jesus.
Jesus cares for all his believers. Is change needed in your life before you can hear and understand Jesusí message? You have to admit that you need forgiveness before you can accept it. To prepare to receive Christ, repent. Denounce the worldís dead-end attractions, sinful temptations and harmful attitudes. Pour out your heartís concerns and desires Ė let Him have it all, especially those things you are ashamed of and try not to think about. They all need to be washed away by our loving Savior.
When you have been completely cleansed of your sins, you will be open for Jesus to reach you. Then listen to the voice of God and pay attention to the promptings you will encounter, taking whatever action is required with complete obedience; all of which will lead you in new directions.
Your life is so precious to Him. Reach up your arms like a child and ask your Heavenly Father to pick you up to new heights.
"I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future God has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people." (Ephesians 2:18 NLT)
Toni Smothers is a child of God, wife, mom, grandmother, writer and lay-speaker. She has had serious exposure to the rougher side of life and from that experience has been left with a heart full of love for others who struggle with learning about our beautiful Savior. Through her writing, Toni delights in helping young people especially, who are seeking to find a true, intimate relationship with their Heavenly Father. You can write to Toni through the Your Letters page of this magazine.
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