The Time Is Past – Start a New Life

This week was a busy week for me.  I am trying to finish up one semester and get started on another summer semester.  In the midst of all of this I was blessed to be able to share with a young person in regard to some challenges they were facing.  They are trying to make some changes in their life and the reaction they are receiving from some people is less than supportive.  In fact, some people are actually discouraging them from making these changes.  It seems like there is pressure to stay where they are, mired in a situation which threatens to drag them down.

As I visited with this individual I shared with them a similar situation from my past.  I was much younger man and had recently asked God to help me change my priorities.  There was a time in my life when I allowed alcohol to set my schedule.  I would eat a big, late breakfast so that I could skip lunch and dinner.  This allowed me to start drinking right after work and “catch a buzz” a lot more quickly.  Drinking not only set my eating schedule, it set my social calendar too.  I did not go to certain places with certain people because I knew that alcohol would not be a part of the scene.

God was not in first place in my life.  He probably came in third behind a couple of guys named Bud and Miller.  It is painful and embarrassing now for me to look back on those times.  I knew that God was calling me to a deeper, stronger, more meaningful relationship with Him but I never fully committed to that relationship.  I finally decided that things needed to change.  I decided to cut back on my drinking.  At first I just decided to only drink on Fridays and Saturdays.  I allowed for special occasions on Mondays and Thursdays depending on the football game or sporting events.   Pretty soon it became evident that limiting my drinking to certain days was not working as planned.  I made a strategic move in my effort to change things and decided that I would limit the number of beers that I drank each week.  I started off with 24.  Then I decided that maybe 30 was better.

Ultimately, early one morning as I sat at the foot of the toilet, I realized that my plan was not working.  We had a party at our house and I was the life of it.  I was not mean or rude but as I sat on the floor at 3 am I knew that I was not the man that God meant me to be.  I was not the husband God called me to be. I was not the father God called me to be.  All of these years I had allowed alcohol to dictate my eating, my social activities and everything else.  I did not need to change things, I needed to change me.  The problem was, I could not change me.  As I sat on the floor that night I confessed to the Lord that I had been doing wrong.  I had not been a good steward of my time, my family or the blessings He had placed in my hands.  I confessed to the Lord that I had tried many ways to control the situation and I could not do it.  I asked Him to do it for me.

I went to bed and slept.  As I slept I dreamed.  I dreamed that I was driving down the road and I saw a convenience store on the road ahead.  As I drove I thought, “Man, some beer sure would be good” and I put on my blinker to turn into the parking lot of that store.  In my dream the Lord asked me, “Do you really want me to help you?”  I said, “Yes, Lord”.  And in my dream I turned off the blinker and kept going right on down the road.  That day was February 22, 1997.  I have not had a drink since that day and I have been doing a much better job of letting God be the priority in my life.

A few months later I was at a wedding.  Some friends were giving me a hard time for not having a drink.  They said I was only doing because I was afraid my wife would gripe at me.  I let them know that I was not drinking because it was not in God’s will for my life.  I can tell you that my reply to them did not slow down the “hard time” I was receiving.  When I got home I opened up my bible and after awhile the Lord led me to a passage I had never seen before.

1 Peter 4:3  “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.  4 In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you”

The Lord was addressing exactly what I was going through in His word!  My old friends were surprised that I was not acting the same way.  They were encouraging me to fall back to my old ways but the Lord was encouraging me to be strong and keep moving forward in my relationship with Him!  His word told me not to be surprised that some people might give me a hard time about this change He was making in me.  In the rest of the chapter, He reminded me everyone only answers to Him.  He also told me that He has gifted everyone and given them a place and a purpose in His kingdom.   He had a place even for someone who used to only give Him the leftovers of their time!  What a gracious and forgiving God we serve!

Those were glorious words to someone making a fresh start.  I was blessed to be able to share those with someone this week.  The Lord is willing to help us to make a fresh start.  He is willing to forgive us of all of our sins!  He is willing to do a new work in us and use us in His kingdom!

If you find yourself around people that are not supportive of His work in you, you may need to consider if you should be hanging around those people.  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Don’t let anyone keep you from experiencing God’s best.  Be the person that God called you to be.   Don’t try to do things on your own, let Jesus Christ do a transforming work in your life.

If you would like to know more about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, feel free to email me directly at pastorpstephens@aol.com

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About pastorpstephens

I have been blessed to have served as a pastor and to have been involved in other ministries throughout the years. My wife Marta and I have been blessed with a wonderful family that includes our daughter, her husband and their two daughters and our son and his wife. Each of them are very special to us so please keep them all in your prayers. One truth that I always try to share with people I meet is that anything God asks you to do, He will help you to do. God has your back.
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