LEARNING HOW TO SAY ‘NO’

LEARNING HOW TO SAY ‘NO’

Are there bad habits in your life? Are there things about yourself that you would like to change? I’m sure we all do. No one is perfect; but all of us want to be. And not too long ago, we looked at how we can Break Bad Habits Jesus’ Way by

1. Turn it over to Jesus.
2. Remove your ego and follow His lead.
3. Rest in the fact He has made you a good tree, and you WILL bear good fruit.

Sounds simple, isn’t it? But saying it is one thing; doing it is another.

You know, there are many things that we know we shouldn’t do; and we know that if we keep it up, those habits, that lifestyle, indeed those choices will eventually do us in. But we keep doing it anyway, don’t we? Ever wondered why?

On Mount Pinatubo, in the Philippines, live several tribes of indigenous peoples. They have been there for centuries. Even though each eruption takes away many tribesmen, they refuse to move. Why?

In Manila, Philippines, there are people who make a living out of ferrying passengers up and down the city’s railway lines on makeshift wooden rafts with wheels. These contraptions are powered by human effort and they earn less than 5 US cents per person per trip. Now, the line that they are plying their trade on is an active line. Trains pass by every few minutes. And when they do, these entrepreneurs will have to stop, lift their rafts off the track and wait for the trains to pass, before continuing on with their journey. Yes, it is dangerous and yes, many have been killed, yet, they continue to live this life, day after day. Why?

In Lagos, Nigeria, makeshift squatters have grown into permanent precincts. They are poorly built, have no proper sanitation, have no running water and are the target of constant harassment by the city authorities who want to get rid of such places to preserve the city’s image. Yet, demand for units in these squatter colonies is so high, they are put out on rent for half the normal working man’s monthly wage. Why?

When I use these case examples in my ‘Urbanization and Development’ lectures, one thing comes through very clearly. People carry on doing the things that they are doing and leading the lives that they are living because they have no alternative.

The indigenous society on Mount Pinatubo is agrarian in nature and they depend on the fertile soils of the volcano. So even though it kills them, literally, they have no place else to turn.

The railway men of Manila are victims of the high unemployment that plagues their demographic. Tapping the insatiable demand for travel in and out of the city center is the only way that they can make a living. So even though it may kill them, they don’t have an alternative.

In similar fashion, the squatter dwellers of Lagos have no place else to turn. Many of them were victims of famine or war in their local provinces and they sold all that they had just to get to the city to find a job. So even though the authorities may not want them there, unless they are given alternative housing options, they have nowhere else to turn.

Now what about you? Are you stuck in a situation? Do you find yourself having to do things that you know are bad for you just because you have no way out? Are you stuck in your own squatter of sin, depending on your own railway of bad habits for a living; and you do it even though you know that it will kill you?

Well, beloved child of God, if you are, then I have good news for you.

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,” Titus 2:11-12 [NIV]

You see, God our Father knows the state that you are in. So all those years ago, He sent Jesus to be your solution. As it is written,

“…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

But what is Grace?

“…the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.” John 1:14 [AMPC]

Grace is favor, grace is loving-kindness, grace is God looking kindly on you, and turning His ear to your cares.

“For while the Law was given through Moses, grace (unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing) and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 [AMPC]

And Jesus was the perfect embodiment of grace, wasn’t He? He healed the lepers (Matthew 8 and Luke 17), He healed the lady with the flow of blood (Mark 5), He raised Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5) and Lazarus (John 11) from the dead, He turned water into wine (John 2), He healed Peter’s mother from her fever, He healed the Centurion’s servant from a distance (Matthew 8), He made the blind to see (John 9) and the lame to walk (John 5) and forgave sins. Not only that, Jesus made it His deliberate effort to reach out to the social outcasts. In fact, this was said of Him many times.

“And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” Mark 2:16

So much so that He eventually made a name for Himself,

“a friend of tax collectors and sinners” Matthew 11:19

In fact, this was His mission, by His own admission.

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Mark 2:17

He came to bring the love of God to the very people who did not deserve it; and to those very ones, He showered upon them God’s unearned, unmerited favor; God’s grace.

But how is it that Grace is able to teach us “…to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,” Titus 2:12 [NIV]

That is because Jesus is our alternative. In His exposition on the ‘I AMs’, Jesus showed us that

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

So if you are in need, all you need to do is rely on Him and He will supply your need, just like He did the crowds of 5000 and the 4000.

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” John 11:25

So if you are facing a dying situation, if your marriage is on the rocks, all you need to do is rely on Him and He will turn the plain mundane water of your marriage into fine wine, just like He did at the wedding.

“…I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

So if you are worried about the hereafter, if you are concerned about the sins of your past and doing everything in your power to make up for them, so that you don’t end up in hell; all you need to do is trust in Him and receive His salvation,

“For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:28

And finally,

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:11

If you have been abandoned and are looking for care and concern, Jesus is telling you that He is, right now, reaching out to you, and He wants to carry you on His shoulders, just like the shepherd carried home the sheep that was lost.

You know, beloved, our Father is not a God who tells you to be good and then leaves it to you to figure things out. He gives you the best alternative you could ever have to all the bad habits which you are depending on to get by right now. In Jesus is your complete and comprehensive solution, because from Jesus comes the unearned and unmerited favor of God.

Yes, saying ‘No’ is usually the hardest thing to do. But you are not going to have to do it alone. For you see,

“God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life.” Titus 2:11-12 [MSG]

And while a big part of how we are able to turn our backs on a godless life comes from the unearned and unmerited blessings that Jesus gives in the here and now, we have something even greater to look forward to, because we are

“looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,” Titus 2:13

Beloved, child of God, Jesus, “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:14

Has already “offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.” Titus 2:14 [MSG]

Because He, by His blood and by His death and rising, has already set you free, you can say ‘No’ to your bad habits and you can be rid of the bad things that you are relying on to get by in life. For

“The key of the house of David
I will lay on his shoulder;
So he shall open, and no one shall shut;
And he shall shut, and no one shall open.” Isaiah 22:22
So take hold of your liberation and live in sin no longer. Rely on Jesus and you will most certainly see that He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”. Ephesians 3:20

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