New Hope Notes
Moving Beyond Good Intentions
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro
Happy New Year! We are now walking in the new light of 2009. And, because we don’t know what the future holds, here’s a good tip: Enjoy today while we have it!
Many events have happened in 2008 which now lead us to a shake up. We don’t know if the recession will hold but many lives and businesses will be tested. It’s a time when the strong will get stronger and the weak will get weaker. The good news is that you’ll get to choose which one you’ll be!
I’m sure many of us have made New Years resolutions for 2009 with good intentions. Yet, how many of us have started on them? Or, failed in the first week of this year? Good intentions are good because it’s in our hearts; however, there’s more to just having good intentions. In fact it’s important to God for us to move beyond our intentions. And, He was pretty serious about them.
“'What do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, “Son, go work today in the vineyard.” And he answered, “I will not”; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, “I will, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the
Isn’t this interesting? This scripture shows us a contrast between good intentions and moving beyond good intentions. In this scripture Jesus was conversing with the Pharisees. As it goes, the first son said he’d go, but didn’t. Later, he felt bad and moved beyond good intentions. Whereas, the second son said he’d go and then didn’t. Most importantly, the one who did the will of the father was the defining difference. This teaches us was about bridging the gap between intentions and action.
This also tells us the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the
No matter what resolutions we’ve made for this year, wouldn’t it be true that most of us want to be closer to God’s best? Of course! It may be in our marriages, family life, our minds, finances and even in our character. And, this is good!
Nonetheless, it is important to understand this will not happen by accident. We’ll need to go beyond intentions by intentionality.
GOD’S BEST WILL NEVER HAPPEN EXCEPT THROUGH GREAT INTENTIONALITY!
You’ll need great intentionality this year about certain things. If you ask, how can we do this? Well, you can do this by writing them down and disciplining yourself towards them. In other words working hard on them. You see, there is a bridge for us to cross the chasm. It is between good intentions and transformation. So by the end of this year, we can look back and see the improvement we’ve made in our lives.
Each and every one of us has dreams. These are dreams for the future. So keep dreaming and work towards them. Don’t ever get exasperated to the point where you’ll say, what ever will be, will be. Remember, this is not the kind of life that brings God’s best. Therefore, the best way to bring your dream to fruition is to see it clearly, aim at it and fire! Because the clearer the picture the more apt you are to hit the target.
In addition to your dream, here is what Solomon says, “For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.” (Ecc. 5:3) This tells us if we want our dream to come to pass we’ll need to put much effort. In other words, work towards it. How often are we unable to get beyond our good intentions? Maybe we’re afraid to act upon it because of the risk factor. Listen, the dream is the beginning, not the end. So believe in your dream. Make decisions and move forward! Yes, even if it is through a season of lack or criticism.
Moreover, it is important to understand that intentionality is not the same as intention. In fact, intentionality is the next step. One of our greatest enemies towards destroying our dreams is this. We often raid ourselves by our intentions. For example, some of you may say you intended to exercise and loose weight. Despite the intention, you never got around to disciplining yourself. As the result, your intentions never melted a pound.
A year later, we recycle our intentions again. Of course by then the desire and intention is much greater than the year before. And again, not a pound was lost. So by the third year, we purchase an exercise video only to open the cellophane off of it three months later. But again, no pounds were shed. Nevertheless, the same goes for our walk with God. Our intention was to serve in a ministry, but never got around to joining one.
Did you know successful people leave clues behind? I like to watch and study them. I try and find ways to increase who I am for Christ. Chuck Swindle once said, “let us never forget that our Lord’s goal for us is that we become people who obey not nearly study the bible more. Those of us in His will is to yield ourselves to His service not merely expanding our minds for greater intelligence.”
And, the Bible tells us, “…the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (1Jn. 2:6) This tells us it needs to be visible to others. Otherwise, we’ll just learn more, become intelligent about, but never translating into our shoes. And we never cross over the chasm from intentions and intentionality. Sometimes, we just want to learn more and speak intelligently about God. The key is to transform this knowledge into our shoes. Because sooner or later we’ll all have to answer this question…
· WILL I MATCH WHAT I BELIEVE TO THE WAY I LIVE?
… OR …
· WILL I MATCH THE WAY I LIVE TO WHAT I BELIEVE …
You see in the beginning God created us in His image. But since then we’ve been creating God into our image so we don’t have to change. Nonetheless, be careful because once this subtlety takes place, it becomes the norm. And all we’ll want is for God to fit us and the way we live. Even though it’s so much easier and convenient to change God into our image, we’ll never get beyond good intentions.
So do it God’s way and adjust your life accordingly to His. Otherwise, we’ll rationalize. The people in the Old Testament did this as well. However, scriptures says, “They have set up their own standards for signs.” (Ps. 74:4)
Thus, here are three planks to bridge the gap between intentions and intentionality. Of course you’ll be the one who’ll need to walk across these planks. These planks or boards are to span the chasm between good intentions and reality. If you place these three planks in place it will be the beginning of a bridge that you can build in order to move beyond good intentions. The first is,
1. FIRST PLANK: PUT GUARD
This tells me I’m not going to do what ever I want to. Rather, I’m going to work hard in order for my life may be transformed into His image. For example, the way I think could use a guard rail.
The Bible tells us, “Set up for yourself road marks, place for yourself guideposts; direct your mind to the highway…” (Jer. 31:21) This tells us guideposts are standards which guardrails are built. Jeremiah wrote this because our minds need directing. If not, our minds will buckle-loose. It can go into fear, anger, grumbling or gossip. Yes, our minds have the tendency to easily get distracted. Thus, by having guard rails, you’ll be able to direct your minds back. And you’ll say to yourself, I’m not going to think that way again. Otherwise our minds will go back into default of the way it was last year.
Please do not think you’re placing limitations on yourselves. In fact, it’s the other way around. It gives you power. This is called self-disciplines. Although some think they are free to do what pleases them. However, freedom is being free from doing the things you previously did. Without discipline and guardrails our lives become wild and destructive.
Here are some examples. A river without a bank becomes a swamp. And, force without limits becomes an explosion of destruction. In addition, a fire without control becomes an inferno that destroys. And, a mind without a perimeter is called insanity. And a road without road signs is called, lost!
Listen, a life without discipline is a life wasted. And although people say they just want to be free doing what ever they want is really heading into destruction. In fact the Bible tells us, “Listen my sons and be wise, and direct your heart in the way.” (Pro. 23:19) So how do we start directing our hearts?
Yes, write them down because you’ll easily forget them. You’ll need to see and hear those guide posts to discipline yourself. For example, if your mind has been going off you can write, “watch what I’m thinking”. As for me, I have four digital post it notes on my computer to remind myself. These are certain things I need to be working on. These are about my character, the way I see things, certain areas of grace I need to increase and certain things with my spouse and my family. I’ve written them down because I want to obey certain things God has speaking to me about.
I encourage you to do the same. You can also use a life calendar to write things God has been speaking to you about. You can also write these down on your iphone and every place that you’ll go so you’ll see it and you’ll be reminded of them constantly.
Why do you think God had the Bible written? Even Jesus Himself knew this when the devil tempted Him. In fact, He replied, “It is written…” (Luk. 4). Additionally, “Therefore, write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.” (Rev. 1:19). God is going to reveal some things about your life, your marriage, future and finances. Therefore, write them down and get them in order.
It is important to understand these guardrails are not to hinder or limit us, but to save our lives. Listen, freeways have signs and it is to save our lives. Moreover, we’ll need reminding often. This is how we’ll know if we’re hitting the mark or not.
Listen, if you don’t have objectives in life you won’t have a winner. For example, a marathon has a finish line and therefore will have a winner. If not, they’ll just keep running and running without end. The same goes for us, if we don’t write our objectives down, we’ll be running around all year aimlessly.
Then the second plank we need to place in order for us to cross over the chasm from good intentions into intentionality is…
2. SECOND PLANK: YOU BEGIN TO PRACTICE WHAT YOU KNOW IS GOD’S BEST!
After you’ve written what God wants you to work on you’ll need to practice it. Yes, no one really wants to practice but we must! And yes it’s not fun and easy to do. But when the test comes or contest begins we’re doomed to fail.
So in what ways can we practice? Well, at home we can speak of words of love. In fact, just say I love you even if they don’t deserve it. Again, practice by repeating those words. For example, a concert pianist plays the piano beautifully because he’s practiced his scales and fingering over and over. Otherwise, it’ll just be a horrible noise. “For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 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 that comes through is called milk.
And this milk is what’s delivered to you during service. It only becomes meat when you’ve applied it into your life. This is where the transformation takes place. You see, when we became Christians although saved, our senses, emotions, feelings and flesh did not get saved. Hence, these are still as rebellious, renegade and spoiled as ever. Even Christians have wild emotions. And the only way to discipline them is by practicing what is right. If not, they will run your life.
Equally important is to not mistake your heart from your flesh in order to excuse yourself from God’s best. In other words don’t call your heart your flesh. And, don’t call your flesh your heart. We’ll need to discern the difference between the two.
The third and final plank is…
3. THIRD PLANK: LOOK FOR THE PROOF OF YOUR FAITH AS MEASUREMENTS.
You yourself must measure the race God has asked you to run. Why? “So that 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.” (1Pet. 1:7)
In other words, when Jesus returns He doesn’t want to find faith. More than this He wants to find the proof of faith.
If you think about it, there’s a lot of faith in the world. Hindus and Muslims have faith too. Yet, the question here is, is there proof in your family that your faith is healthy? Furthermore, are we better this year because of our faith? Moreover, do we treat our spouses better because of our faith? And, am I a better employee because of my faith?
All in all, the answer to these questions is the proof of your faith. It is where intentions became intentionality. If the answer to these questions shows no proof then something must be wrong with the roots of your faith. So look for the proofs. For example, if you intended to tithe, look at your check book and see if you have. Or if it is to love your wife more, look at your calendar if you’ve scheduled her in for dinner this month.
Why proof? Because it gives us confidence to walk in it. Additionally, it gives credibility of the bridge you’ve crossed. And, it’ll show that I’m not afraid to get beyond good intentions because I’ve set planks over it. Watch and see by the end of this year. You’ll turn things around and see great fruitfulness that glorifies, honors and praises God! Is a year of intentionality the kind of year you’d like in 2009? Halleluiah!
1. Write down your New Years resolutions or intentions. Post it where ever it will remind you of it.
2. Write down guard rails/guard posts to keep you on the bridge from intentions to intentionality.
3. How will you practice and how often will you practice to accomplish your resolution? (Discipline, accountability and perseverance for 12 months will be hard work, but you’ll master discipline and perseverance by the end of the year).
4. At the end of 2009, look for the proof of the discipline you’ve applied all this year.
5. What impacted you most and how will you allow it to transform your life unto His glory?