Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tuesday's Top Ten [Advice for Graduates]

Most graduates fresh out of high school are offered lots of advice and most reluctantly listen. For those of you who are willing to listen (high school or college graduates) here's some advice I wish was given to me...

1. Contrary to what the world tells you, do not follow your heart. Jeremiah quotes God in 17:9 the truth about our hearts, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" Therefore, think. Use that brain God gave you to patiently sift through your emotions, search Scripture for truth, and pray. 

2. Know your chief goal in life. For Christians that goal is to do one thing: live for the glory of God.

The world will tell you to live for your own glory. Your glory is temporal and worthless compared to your Almighty Creator's. He holds the stars in His hand (and knows them all by name) (Psalm 147:4-5), He knows each and every hair on your head (Luke 12:7, He also gives you your very breath (Job 12:10). And due to the fact that He holds your very life in His hand, live it for Him!

3. This relates to #2, but it's important to know: exalt God's name and His Word, for those are the two things He exalts above all things (Psalm 138:2). Therefore you should as well.

4. Live well, die well. Life is not just about the journey. Although the journey is important, it is mostly about the destination. This also relates to #2, but live your life with an eternal perspective in mind. Someday you will die. Because of that undeniable fact, live a life that glorifies God so that on the day you meet Him face to face your faith becomes seeing and He tells you (as you place your crown at Jesus' feet), "Well done my good and faithful servant."

5. God does not waste pain. Life is hard. It is full of mistakes, conviction, discipline, heartache, pain, temptation, suffering, &etc. Learn, grow, change and be thankful... God is using whatever it is that you're going through so that you experience more of Him.

6. Yes, life is full of hardship, but it is also full of joy! Therefore, rejoice always!

7. He must increase, you must decrease. He = Jesus. What an amazing statement to live! John the Baptist made this comment when his disciples left him to follow Jesus. Rather than being jealous, John was thrilled because his disciples were following God, which is exactly what he wanted for them! This should be every Christian's credo. More of Jesus. Less of me. More of Jesus. Less of me.

8. Love Jesus. Love others. Love yourself. In that order. You will receive the most JOY in life when you love Jesus and others more than you love yourself. Again, this is contrary to what the world will tell you. The world will tell you to love yourself above all else because no one can love you like you love you. Let's think about that for a second. Did you die for your sins? Nope. You're a dirty, rotten, stinking, sinner. Period. You deserve to die for those sins (Romans 6:23). BUT while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you (Romans 5:8)! There is nothing more selfless than someone giving their life for yours. You can offer nothing in return for that gift, except your life. In pure and utter thanksgiving for that sacrifice you did not deserve, live as He lived: selflessly. Hold Him in highest esteem. Love Him! Love others as He loves you as you love you. Think about that. How do you love you? You live in a way that will make yourself happy, right? You eat when you're hungry. You shower when you're dirty. You wear your favorite clothes. You take time to do what you enjoy. You need to take care of yourself. Now, with that knowledge comes responsibility. For Jesus says that you are to treat others better than you treat yourself! The new commandment is this: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." (John 13:34) That is incredibly hard to do and you will fail, daily. So bask in what Jesus accomplished on the cross and give thanks for his saving grace!

9. Give thanks daily. For you did not deserve Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. That in and of itself should put have you giving thanks daily - for He saved you from eternal damnation! Now, do you have running water? Clothes to wear? Shoes on your feet? Food to eat? A diploma in your hand? You are blessed! Give thanks to the one who has given it to you. "Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine." (God speaking to Job in Job 41:11.) If that isn't reason enough, here's 10 more.

9. Preach the gospel to yourself daily. When you think of what Jesus accomplished on the cross you'll want to glorify Him with all you say and do, you'll want to spend time in Scripture learning about Him, you'll want to exalt His name and His word, you'll want to live for Him because He died for you, you'll want His name to increase, you'll better understand how God is using your pain, you'll better understand what it means to put others before yourself because Jesus did that for you, you'll stand in thanksgiving for this one act and everything else will become incredibly blessings. Jesus is our perfect example on how to live - selflessly - remind yourself of that selfless act every day. You need HIM every hour of every day!

10. Know Scripture. Seriously. If you know God's Word you will not be swayed by false teaching or worldly values that mean diddly squat eternally. Stand firm in the Bible. Read it daily. Go to a bible teaching church. Learn. Grow. Increase your knowledge. Never be satisfied or think you "know it all". You will spend an eternity learning about God and never know enough. Don't believe me? Read the very last paragraph in John (John 21:25). He is infinitely bigger than we can possibly imagine. The more you know the bigger He becomes. He needs to increase in your life, and you need to decrease. (remember #7?) The only way He becomes bigger is by learning what He has said about Himself in His Word. Peter claims in his second letter that the prophetic word is more valuable than seeing the transfiguration (Matthew 17) and if an eyewitness to an experience such as that makes a claim that big, well we'd better take it seriously. (Read 2 Peter 16-21.)

As if that list isn't hard enough, I'm adding one more! Find a discipleship relationship. Someone to teach you and hold you accountable. That was Jesus last statement on this earth, take it seriously (Matthew 28:19).

Make every effort to live life for His glory. When that is your focus your words and your actions reflect your faith in Christ. It will not be easy and it won't always be fun, but it is eternally valuable. This life is so incredibly short compared to eternity, don't waste the time He is giving you!

To God Alone Be the Glory

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