Procrastination — The Great Destroyer

The effects of procrastination plague like rusting relics — visible and invisible evidence of the presence of the great destroyer. Why does procrastination invade so many of our lives, paralyzing us from making decisive decisions and confident actions.

As many as one quarter of people struggle under the weight of procrastination. Often the issue is linked to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or an inability to focus. Perhaps, it results from a combination of many factors. Whatever the reasons, we are all affected by it in some way.

This lack of confidence in making decisions and moving into action impact us all in so many ways. God knows the root lies deep and He says much on the subject. But one of the most sobering is this:

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
James 4:17

Whatever holds us back from doing the right thing or making the right choice, God counts as sin. That alone should be enough reason to take procrastination seriously and recognize it as a great destroyer of God-given potential.

Mental Health

Just as we seek help to overcome physical health issues, we cannot afford to ignore the crippling impact of poor mental health. I’ve struggled enough in this area to realize change isn’t a simple one-two step and your done. Recovery requires time and often professional assistance. But the first step in any recovery begins with acknowledgment.

Procrastinators habitually put off for later the things that should and could be done now. Later may mean an hour, a day, a year, or a lifetime. The resulting consequences of the delay could prove to be small or devastating. To procrastinators, it all feels overwhelming.

In the wait, life falls apart around them — a fence, a house, a business, a marriage, or an entire life. The pressure of making a decision and acting upon it proves far more risky than any consequence.

“One day I passed by the field of a lazy man, and I noticed the vineyards of a slacker. I observed nothing but thorns, weeds, and broken-down walls. So I considered their lack of wisdom, and I pondered the lessons I could learn from this: Professional work habits prevent poverty from becoming your permanent business partner. And: If you put off until tomorrow the work you could do today, tomorrow never seems to come.”
Proverbs 24:30-34 TPT

Limited

Most often the areas of procrastination show up where a person feels the most vulnerable and insecure. Those times when a person feels at the greatest risk of failure or making a mistake. But it is also a sign of passive aggressive behavior — a deliberate avoidance of what needs to be done.

Little by little the walls begin to crumble. Finally, one more missed project turns into a missed grade. One more failure to step up at work turns into dismissal. One more refusal to be responsible results in a breakdown in relationship.

Several times this past week, I have heard the tell-tale comment of the great destroyer, “May I have an extension. I thought I had more time.”

The procrastinator assumes they will be granted more time, more opportunity, more grace, more tolerance, more of whatever is needed to continue dancing with the great destroyer.

Time is short! Today’s opportunity to do what is right and good will never come again! When the sun sets, today is over — never to return.

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
Ephesians 5:15-17

Occupy

Jesus used the parable of the talents to illustrate the importance of fully using opportunities. When He handed His servants their gifts, He commanded them to “work until I come back” (Luke 19:13). Another version says “occupy until I come.” This implies immediate and consistent action.

Those who used their time and resources wisely were delegated greater authority and received a greater reward. The one who was slothful and procrastinated, delaying action and decisions on how to use the talents, ended up losing everything he had been given. How tragic! But how common!

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! …”
Matthew 25:26

God doesn’t take the abuse or misuse of our time lightly! Both are a precious gifts from Him. He holds us accountable for both. If God takes it seriously, we would be wise to do the same.

Healing

We might consider God’s assessment a bit harsh, but the first step toward better emotional health and healing begins with confession and prayer. God knows procrastination is self-protection, an escape from the responsibility whenever possible. But there is good news.

“If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
1 John 1:9

Forgiveness is the beginning step. To overcome the great destroyer, we must redeem the time! God can and will turn things around, when we work with Him through the healing journey. He has not left us to fight any battle alone.

  • Choose to no longer put mental health on hold.
  • Seek Christian counsellors and mentors.
  • In a healing environment, confess faults to one another so we will be healed (James 5:16).
  • Identify the specific areas when we tend to procrastinate and ask others to hold us accountable in that area.
  • Don’t expect a quick rescue! Work through the healing process.

Well Done

Everyone wants to hear Jesus say, “Well done.” God cares far more about who we are than about what we accomplish for Him. He wants us free from the control of the great destroyer.

We dare not expect more time, when we are not fully using the time God has already given to us. He has given us time to receive His grace, time to share our faith, and time to love others.

God is not obligated to guarantee any of us more time or opportunity.

“For God says, ‘At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.’ Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2

“The right time is now.” Let’s make today the day for change. Let’s not let procrastination remain as the great destroyer in our lives.

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Freedom and Victory: Living the Victorious Christian Life Today!

The cross of Jesus Christ delivered us from the sordid penalty of sin. It also guarantees our freedom and victory from the power of sin. What He accomplished is for today! For here! For now!

As a Christian, our future deliverance from the presence of all sin will eternally be experienced in Heaven. But how well have we been taught and demonstrated a life of freedom and victory in the grungy realities of our present circumstances?

The enemy keeps way too many people trapped in the recesses of darkness by blinding us to this beautiful reality.

Probably for you, as it is for me, the battle with sin refused to cease upon the confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Why? What’s going on? Why are so many Christians living cloaked in unnecessary guilt and shame.

We find the solution in Romans chapter 6.

Because of Baptism

Paul encourages the Roman believers, and us today, that because of baptism in Christ, we sin no more!

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Romans 6:1-4

In Christ, we died to sin. It is done! Finished! Past tense!

And in Christ, we were baptized into his death. So in the same way, in Christ we may live a new life of freedom and victory now — today.

That’s worth shouting, “Freedom! Celebrate! Victory is ours!”

No Longer Slaves

Our old lives conditioned us to listen to the slave master of sin, who continues to bark out orders. Everything in us cringes and cowers to the sound, while we resist the urge to obey our old master.

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”
Romans 6:6

The Passion Translation contains a wonderful note:

“…that the body of sin might be annulled and put out of business. To beg God for victory over sin is a refusal to understand that we have already died to sin. Our joyful task is to believe the good news, rather than to seek to “crucify ourselves.” Sin is not suppressed by the cross; it is eliminated. Upon the “water” God commands us to step out and walk, for we are now in him.”

We don’t need to beg God for victory over sin in any area of our lives. But oh how marvelous to understand that we have already died to all its demands. Through our union with Jesus Christ, every sin in our lives has been put out of business.

Listen to the Right Voice

Jesus gives us the freedom and victory to listen to the right voice — His voice.

The voice of sin barks commands, “You may as well give in, you will do it anyway … You’ll enjoy this … Just once more … You know you want this …” Whatever his enticement, we don’t need to listen to the deceptive voice of our old slave master, sin.

Jesus whispers His truth to our hearts, “You don’t need to do this anymore. You don’t need to watch that, tweet that, smoke that, eat that, say that, or do that. You are mine! I have set you free! You don’t have to sin anymore!”

I keep a simple “self-portrait” in my Bible as a cheerful reminder of my union with Christ. Just as this little image is in my Bible, I am in Christ. Where my Bible goes, the sketch goes. As Christ leads, I follow. Why? I am in Christ Jesus.

“For by his sacrifice he died to sin’s power once and for all, but he now lives continuously for the Father’s pleasure.”
Romans 6:10 TPT

Consecrate

The Oxford dictionary defines consecration as declaring something to be sacred and formally dedicated to a divine purpose. Things are consecrated and sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intended. Everyone, once consecrated, lives according to God’s design and perfect purpose for their lives.

With Jesus’ example before us, we consecrate and devote ourselves to also live continuously for the Father’s pleasure. We give back to Him what He has already given to us — our hands, our feet, our mouths, our time, our resources, our gifts, our all — living each day in freedom and victory.

“So let it be the same way with you! Since you are now joined with him, you must continually view yourselves as dead and unresponsive to sin’s appeal while living daily for God’s pleasure in union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”
Romans 6:11 TPT

An Invitation

“This life of reflected goodness, and beauty is not only a demonstration, it’s also an invitation. By its very nature, it calls to people and invites them to more. More than they ever thought was possible. More than they could ever ask or imagine … So the life we live and the work we do reveals a new reality in Christ that is both available now, and will continue to unfold for all eternity … How you live matters to God because you are His plan for releasing His Kingdom in the earth … This is the work of the Kingdom. It’s for now and it only gets better. Abundant, transformative living with an eternal hope.”
– Matt Tommey

Let’s respond to God’s invitation to walk in liberty, united with Christ in the freedom and victory we possess today.

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God Walks With Us All the Way!

I am reminded again that God never quits. He stays with us all the way. The good work He began in each of us He will finish. My thoughts are rooted in Deuteronomy 8. Moses reminded Israel, and us, of the faithfulness of God.

“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” Deuteronomy 8:2

The words “all the way” seemed to bounce off the page of my Bible. My journey with God has transitioned through more than forty years. I, too, can say, “He has led me all the way, through the good times and the not so good.”

Any and every success of my Christian walk results from His faithfulness, not from anything special on my part.

In the Wilderness

For some, the wilderness sections of our journey came darker and dryer than for others. But no matter where we start, He promises to go with us.

All the way from broken to whole,
from tormented to delivered,
bound to free,
a nobody to the King’s palace
as His own sons and daughters!

The verse calls us to remember. Though memory grows distant, there is value in remembering the tattered sin-stained cloth He tore us from.

Paul minced no words with the Christians in Ephesus,

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.”
Ephesians 2:1-3

No one dare claim ground for immunity. We all were cloaked in sin, “just like everyone else.”

To The Cross

And because of this, Jesus went “all the way” to the cross. He didn’t have to, you know. He could have opted out. But, He made that difficult decision because of His love for us. He wrestled over it, asking God for another way.

We read these famous words,

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luke 22:42

Even knowing ahead of time the tremendous price of saying “Yes!” to the Father, He loved us too much to say, “No.” Because Jesus surrendered going “all the way” to the cross, we now access the unlimited and unmerited blessings of God.

To an Inheritance

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 2:4-7

God led Israel “all the way” into the promised land — a land of brooks, streams, deep springs, valleys, hills, wheat, barley, vines, fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey (Deuteronomy 8:7-9). Their inheritance lacked nothing they would ever desire.

So, too, He leads us. This life is only the beginning. He brings rich blessings here and now, but the best waits on the other side. Then He will reveal the full measure of the “incredible wealth of his grace and kindness.”

Oh friends! Just as He has faithfully led us in the past, He will lead us into all He has promised.

Into His Promise

How can we be sure?

Every good and perfect gift comes from God, James 1:17 tells us. God, in His perfection, gave the perfect gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus.

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9

The gift has already been given. We only need to receive it. The Father went “all the way,” offering us the best He had, His own Son — the ultimate sacrifice of grace to us all. Then He gave us the Holy Spirit as a deposit of greater things to come (2 Corinthians 1:22).

All the Way

The hard part stands finished. God waits for us to receive His gift of love. He did it all for us. Will we reach out with thankful hearts to accept it?

Whether we still walk in our wilderness, or it is a faint memory. The Father waits for our response.

“Father, thank You for going all the way through the wilderness with me — humbling, uncloaking, and revealing the condition of my heart. Thank You for not giving up or abandoning me. I receive Your gift of salvation, made available through Jesus on the cross. Thank You for reminding me the price Jesus paid for my sin. I believe He was raised again to new life and that He offers that life to me. I accept Your gift. Lead me into the inheritance and promise You have for me. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for going all the way.

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The Best Gift — Reconciliation

During the Christmas season, we consider the best gift for those we love. When God sent His Son, Jesus, He sent His best gift for us. What made this gift so perfect?

For a moment, consider the best gift you have received. It probably never came from a store and could never have been purchased with money. Was it the birth of child? Or special occasions with someone you loved? A friendship?

This may seem odd for most of you, but one of my most cherished gifts has been the last ten days of my mother’s life. Our relationship had always been rocky. We never seemed to mesh on anything, although we both tried. There were many misunderstandings, painful words, and harsh judgments. But during the last ten days of her life, when moments mattered most, God showed us great mercy and brought reconciliation. We talked, prayed, laughed, and loved. Those ten days proved richer than all the previous sixty years combined. I will be eternally grateful for that sweet gift.

Reconciliation. How deep the chasms of indifference, apathy, and misunderstanding grow! How humanly impossible to restore relationships so deeply severed!

But God! But God through His only Son, came to reconcile. First, to reconcile us to Himself. Then, to reconcile us to each other. Both necessary. Both impossible apart from Him.

“For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16 AMP

Reconciliation

We find it difficult to comprehend just how much “God so greatly loved and dearly prized” you and me. He would not rest until we were reconciled back to Him. The Oxford Dictionary defines reconciliation as the restoration of friendly relations, or the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.

You see, we all begin life alienated from God — enemies in fact. We arrive bent, broken, and turned away from Him. Though He loves us deeply and desires a personal and intimate relationship with us, we carry on preoccupied, self-absorbed, and consumed by temporary things. Though He calls, we choose not to respond to Him.

It took something drastic to get our attention. It required extreme measures to bridge the gap between us. When reconciliation seemed impossible, He alone made the way.

“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
Romans 5:10

A Savior

Many outside the Christian faith live contented and unaware of their need for a Savior, believing that doing good is enough. Surprisingly, many within the faith maintain a false sense of security based upon the same reasoning. They go to church, serve faithfully, and even give financially.

If doing good was enough, there would be no need for Jesus, the cross, or the resurrection. But, doing good will never be enough to bridge the gap between holy God and broken humanity.

” . . . He has also set eternity in the human heart . . .”
Ecclesiastes 3:11

We all have an inner knowing that there is something more to life than what we now see. Though we live bound by the temporary and limited by time, God created us for eternity — an eternity with Him.

But why do “good” people need a Savior? Paul explained it this way,

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:23

We all sinned in some way. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, we lie, steal, gossip, hurt others, live selfishly, disobey authorities, and a long list of other moral failures. No one meets God’s perfect standard. We all fall short.

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23

Separation

Not only does sin separate us from God, it results in more than a physical death, but an eternal separation from God. Therefore, we need a reconciler. We need someone to restore relationship and compatibility with God.

Each Christmas, we celebrate the coming of that One — the One who arrived as an innocent baby, lived a sinless life, died a cruel death as payment for our sins, and rose again to offer hope of an eternity. The innocent paid the price for the guilty.

The Bible tells us how.

” . . . For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will experience salvation. The heart that believes in him receives the gift of the righteousness of God—and then the mouth confesses, resulting in salvation.
Romans 10:9,10 TPT

When we declare Jesus Christ as our Lord, believing that God accepts his death as penalty for us, we receive salvation. How unbelievably amazing is that? Jesus closes the gaps between God and us, reconciling us to the Father. The best gift becomes ours. Through Jesus, we become righteous before God.

The Best Gift

Many gifts will be shared this Christmas season — gifts expressing friendship, love, and family. But my greatest desire is that we would receive the best gift of all, the gift of reconciliation. I pray that we would receive the gift of eternal life which God offers us today.

Jesus already paid the full price! We cannot earn what He has already made available for us.

“So turn away from your sins. Turn to God. Then your sins will be wiped away. The time will come when the Lord will make everything new.”
Acts 3:19 NIRV

I anticipate the reaction of those I prepare gifts for. The giving only becomes complete as the recipient accepts my gift. The gift of salvation, the best gift of all, waits for each of us to receive it. To accept God’s perfect gift, we verbally declare our faith in Jesus from a believing heart. It is a simple but profound action.

The Savior waits for our response.

Jesus, thank You for Your salvation. I confess that I have sinned and could never meet God’s standard of perfection. I need a Savior. Forgive me, Lord, of my sins and failures. I believe that You died to save me and set me free. I believe that You were raised from the dead to give me eternal life. Come Jesus. I invite You to be my Lord and Savior. I thank You that You have become my best gift.

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Hebrews 12 Throw Aside Every Weight and Sin

Throw Off Every Weight

There is a responsibility that accompanies the privilege of following Christ. To make the greatest impact, we must throw aside every weight and sin!

“…let us strip off and throw aside
every encumbrance (unnecessary weight)
and the sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings
to and entangles us…”
Hebrews 12: 1

Encumbrance

Encumbrance is not a word I normally use in everyday vocabulary. It means “a burden or impediment”. It has the idea of any kind of weight, bulk, or burden being carried.

I know several people who are avid marathon runners. Every one of them keeps track of their diet, has a strict exercise routine, and plans carefully what they will wear or carry during a race. They know that any excess weight will hinder their ability to finish well.

Marathon

This is exactly the analogy used in Hebrews!

Defining the unnecessary weight in my life isn’t as easy as looking in the mirror! As matter of fact, some of the things I may have to examine closely may seem quite good.

Cloud of Witnesses

Some hints can be gained from looking at the preceding chapter in Hebrews from those who have run this race of faith ahead of us.

“Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…”
Hebrews 12:1

Close your eyes for a moment and image being completely surrounded by faith giants cheering you on in your life and walk with Christ.

Witnessed

For me that thought is more intimidating than encouraging!

  • Abel threw off Cain’s weight of indifference in creating his own rules of worship or worshipping God “just enough” to be accepted.
  • Enoch chose solitude with God above continually hanging out with friends.
  • Noah rejected wickedness that had become the cultural norm, choosing righteousness instead.
  • Abraham’s encumbrance was everything familiar, including family, religion of his father, and a secure home.
  • Sarah’s greatest hold back was getting past her physical limitations.
  • Moses had to give up on privilege, position, wealth, and power to break free.
  • Joshua broke through natural intellect.

Similarly, the writer of Hebrews calls us to “throw aside” whatever it is that would potentially hold us back from fully and effectively following Christ. Only you will know what God is calling you to leave behind!

And the Sin


Sin is termed εὐπερίστατος  meaning to place oneself round, or encompass.
The sense is therefore: sin, which easily surrounds us and takes us captive.”

In a literal sense, it is like a runner in a loose-fitting garment that could easily get wrapped around his legs to trip him up. Whereas, the sense of encumbrance is general, sin is more specific.

Sin

Every one of us has at least one area we keep “tripping over”. The enemy is clever! He knows our weakness even better than we do. Constantly staying accountable to those who will honestly and bluntly speak into my life is one way to help me avoid unnecessary falls.  Still, they come!

“so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings”

Pride and independence are perhaps two of my biggest areas; they show up in subtle and not so subtle ways. These may be the two biggies, but they aren’t the only ones I’m constantly throwing off!

The Cross is Enough

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross,
scorning its shame, and sat down
at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12: 2

So, what then? We’ve tripped in an all too familiar way again. What do we do when the shame of past or guilt recent failures is pulling us ever downward?

The cross is enough! Jesus paid the price for it all – past, present, and future. He knew how much we were going to fail. Yet, He loves us still. In reality, the only thing He fully expected we would do is fail, only to fall again. The provision of His sacrifice on the cross is complete in every way.

Joy

Don’t let shame and guilt hold you back! Place whatever entangles at the foot of the cross and step back into your place. A crowd of others who have tasted the bitterness of failure and defeat is cheering you on to complete your course.

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to
salvation without regret,
whereas worldly grief produces death.”
2 Corinthians 7:10

When you run, run without regret in the full freedom of the cross!

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