Monday, April 19, 2010

Getting the right results

I have been considering posting some of my Sunday School lessons lately and have finally decided to do so. My class is teenage girls, ages junior high through tenth grade, but most lessons are applicable to any Christian in some way or another. A major reason I am going ahead and sharing these is that sometimes we Sunday School teachers have a hard time thinking up a fresh lesson every week, and maybe there is a SS teacher who reads my blog who may need an idea or two to help get them started. I, for one, have used other people's lessons as a jumping off point and was so thankful they had so generoulsy shared their lessons.

Getting The Right Results

As Christians, and particularly as teenagers, we often sit under preaching and teaching that inspires us to make decisions for the Lord. Decisions to change our behavior or thinking, or maybe decisions about our future and what we intend to accomplish for the Lord’s work. When our hearts are tender and receptive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, the result is wanting to please God and make our lives honoring to Him. So often we return home from special conferences and camps, or revival meetings here at our own church, with one or two, or maybe more decisions that we made about our walk with the Lord.

But then what happens with those decisions? Do we always keep them? Unfortunately not. How often do we make a decision for the Lord, and then later on need to make that same decision over again. I don’t want to discourage you from making decisions for the Lord but I want to challenge you to stop thinking of them of mere decisions and start referring to them as commitments, and maybe even vows. I would also caution you not to make commitments or vows to the Lord without a sober and serious consideration for what it means. Never make a commitment to God simply because of peer pressure, or even pressure from authorities. It’s better to not make a vow then to make one and not keep it.

Commitment, n.

Vow, n
To give, consecrate or dedicate to God by a solemn promise. When Jacob went to Mesopotamia, he vowed to God a tenth of this substance, and his own future devotion to his service. Gen. 28

Scriptures to read:

Psa. 37:5 "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass."

Prov. 16:3 "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established."

Num. 30:2 "If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth."

Ecc. 5:4 "When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed."

When we read the Bible, or sit under preaching, or maybe read good Christian books, we learn a great deal about what God expects from His people and what is wise for us to do. However: It’s not enough to know what is right, we must DO right.

Object lesson: Potato Stamp

Have you ever made a potato stamp before? It’s an easy cheap craft. All we do is cut the potato in half and then we can cut a shape out and use it as a stamp. I would like to make mine a heart shape. So I will take my sharpie marker and draw a heart shape on this cut potato. My goal, or my desire… my “decision” you could say… is to make a heart shape on this piece of paper. So now I’m going to take my knife and cut out the shape to create my stamp.

(As I cut out a shape, I ignore the heart outline I had drawn and instead I cut out a square. Then I dip my stamp into paint and show the class the result: a square is visible on the paper.)

Hmmm… A square? That’s not what I wanted. I wanted a heart. A heart was my goal. That’s what I drew. But you know what? When I took the knife and carved, I actually didn’t follow the heart shape I drew to be my guide. And I ended up with something I didn’t want: a square.

The sad truth is that sometimes this happens with people’s lives. They really wanted a better result. They had every intention of doing right. They went to church and youth conference and revival meetings. They made the same decisions that you made. But their actions didn’t match these decisions.

No one ever says as a young child, “When I grow up I want to be a prostitute.” Or “I want to be a drug addict.” Or “I want to be criminal.” Sometimes when people find themselves in terrible situations in life, they say that they just don’t know how they ended up where they are. They certainly never intended for things to turn out that way.

It’s great to make decisions or commitments to the Lord about being pure on your wedding day, or finishing high school, or getting your college degree, or only listen to music that pleases God or… well, you tell me… what are some commitments that you have made?

(Make a list on the dry erase board as the girls share commitments they have made.)

Those are all wonderful, worthy goals. And it is a big step to simply make that commitment to God and write them down. And telling others about your newly made commitments is a great idea, too. But do you know that many, many girls (and boys) at one time made a promise to God to be pure on their wedding day but somehow, they ended up breaking that promise. They never thought they would. It was like they drew a heart on their potato stamp but then their actions created a very different result.

The same could be said about any commitment we make to God. It’s not enough to know what is right. It’s not enough to want to do right. We have to actually DO that which is right to do.

Those big goals we talked about are reached though setting smaller, everyday goals. Today, you probably do not face the choice to be immoral with a boyfriend. But you do face the choice about how to conduct yourself around the opposite gender. You do face the choice of how to dress. You do face the choice of what kind of words, whether crude or chaste, you will say. You do face the choice of whether you allow yourself to be alone with men and boys. I’ve focused on purity a lot today but the same can be said about what kind of TV you watch, or what kind of music you listen to. We probably aren’t going to be tempted to watch an X rated movie after church today. But we do face the choice of whether or not we will watch a sit com with swearing and immorality on it. We do face the choice of what we load onto our iPods. Do not minimize those “small” steps you take away from the commitments you made toward God.

“Sin always takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, and costs you more than you want to pay.”

Every big commitment you make to God will be kept or broken based on the small choices you make in your day to day life. When we think we can “get by” with the “little” things, slowly but surely we are carving an image into our potato (our lives) that is NOT what we intended. One day we will look at the stamp we have left on this world and it will be so sad and disappointing to see a square instead of a heart…. A life marred by sin and regret rather than a life that glorified God and made an impact on a lost and dying world.

With God’s help, we CAN keep our commitments to Him, and we CAN have a victorious Christian life!



Joyful Blessings said...

Kayte, that was so good and so true. That is a wonderful illustration.

Child of the King said...

I loved your usual! :p :D