Approach sex faithfully. Recognize the wisdom of God’s plan for sexuality to be expressed only in the right relationship – within marriage between a man and a woman – because sex can bless you within marriage but harm you spiritually, emotionally, and physically outside of marriage. Pray for the strength you need to pursue sexual purity even when those around you aren’t doing so. If you’ve sinned sexually, ask God to guide you through the healing process.

Pursue committed love. Since God loves you with true commitment – He never gives up on you – say “yes” to His call to love other people within committed relationships. Never give up on your friends and family. Be willing to act in their best interests, work through conflicts, and forgive. Ask God to help you love other people the way He loves them, and strengthen your ability to deal with difficult relationships faithfully. When you love others with a committed love, they can experience a taste of God’s justice and mercy in their relationships with you. Realize that people need you to do more than simply tell them that God loves them; they need to experience God’s love acting through you.

Take good care of your health. Recognize that sin can damage your health by leading you to make self-destructive choices, but faithfulness can improve your health by motivating you to make healthy choices. Pray for the strength you need to make healthy choices such as eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, thinking positively, worshipping frequently, practicing good hygiene, getting enough sleep, and resting regularly to reflect and pray. Ask God to remind you respond to life’s stresses by placing your trust in Him.

Take good care of creation. Keep in mind that creation is a good gift from God that is worthy of your respect and care. Ask God to help you notice the many ways that creation reflects the different parts of His character, from lightning that shouts of His dynamic power to rocks that whisper of His reliable presence throughout time. Realize that an attitude of feeling free to do whatever you want with God’s creation is sinful; you have a responsibility to seek and carry out His will for how you interact with what He has made. Be willing to do whatever you sense God calling you to do to take good care of creation, such as recycling, conserving energy, treating animals humanely, cleaning up pollution, and living simply to avoid waste. Keep in mind that the way you treat vulnerable people – those Jesus called “the least of these,” such as children, the elderly, and poor, and the disabled – is also part of caring for God’s creation. Ask God to give you the compassion you need to do what’s right when caring for everyone and everything that He has made.

Adapted from Love Written in Stone: Finding God’s Grace in the Boundaries He Sets, copyright 2011 by Philip Carlson, MD. Published by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Bloomington, Mn., www.bethanyhouse.com.
Philip Carlson, MD(ThM, Fuller; MD, University of Southern California) is senior pastor of Bethany Church of Sierra Madre and practices family medicine in Pasadena. He also teaches at the college level and is a conference speaker. His first book, You Were Made for Love, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. He lives in Sierra Madre, California, with his wife, Carole, and their four children.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at:angels.guide@about.comto send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience.  

Publication date: July 25, 2011