I pray that you are working your way through these last few devotions. I know it can be tough. I know that many of you are wrestling with hurts, habits, hang-ups… and I know that it can be emotionally draining. I also know that there can be a lot of collateral damage that goes along with these issues.
Yesterday’s and these next 2 devotions can be hard, time consuming, and emotional! That’s a good thing because it can help you deal with past issues and present consequences. Hang in there, honestly work thru the material, and spend quiet time with the Lord.
I encourage you to be real and honest. Ask God to guide you through this journey to a healthy, Christ-centered, Joy filled life! If you have missed any of the last 4 devotions, go back and read (or reread) them.
So far we have looked at:
- The Reality Choice… Admitting that you are not God…and life can be unmanageable…. identifying the main issue that impacts your life.
- The Hope Choice… Believing that God exists, you matter to Him, He can help you deal with your hurts, habits, and hang-ups.
- The Letting Go Choice… the Commitment Choice. Committing your life to Christ’s Love, care and control.
- The Coming Clean, House cleaning Choice. Taking time to examine your past and to confess your faults…first to yourself…and then to God. Many find it very helpful to confess them to a trusted person…to own them and release them.
- Now today we will look at The Transformation Choice…making changes. This is when you begin to be who God created you to be! This is when you voluntarily submit to every change that God wants you to make and to humbly ask Him to remove any character defects. Sounds simple, right? Of course not! But it will be life changing!
Imagine that you are dealing with a habit of alcohol…you admit it’s a problem…you trust in a program that can help…you commit your life and addiction to God…now what? Well you must make some changes. You can not stop at the bar and think, I will just watch others drink, God will protect me. Changes need to happen! Changes to what you fill your mind with, places you go, people you hang out with, and other triggers.
Note…We are all sinners! Jesus died for our sins! We confess and thru faith are forgiven! That’s the beginning and the foundation! But now what? Now we make healthier choices and become more Christ-like…one step at a time!
I am a basketball fan; I love to watch the game. A major truth is that players play and coaches coach. What is the coach’s job? To observe and to make changes for a better outcome. God wants to “coach” you to a better outcome as well!
I read an illustration that works well for today. It’s about being in a boat and the autopilot is set for east, but you want to go west. You push and pull with all your might and finally manage to force the boat west for a while. As long as you hold on with your own strength the boat keeps going west…but soon you tire of fighting against the boat’s pre-programmed direction, and you let go…and the boat goes east as programmed. Every time you try to force the boat west, you are going against its pre-programmed direction. It’s a losing battle.
That’s how it is when we try to go against our own internal autopilot (sinful nature). By our own willpower we try to force a new behavior, but we get tired and let go. On our own we will go off the diet, get involved in another unhealthy relationship, start smoking again, burst into anger, etc…and inevitably we revert back to unhealthy choices! We can not do it alone! But the good news is that we do not have to do it alone!
Romans 12:1-2…Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
This change will not be easy, and it will not be overnight, but it is so important!
It gets summarized in today’s beatitude found in Matthew 5:6 (gnt)… Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!
When I pray for myself each day, I ask God to help me “be the best Dave Timm I can be.” I then envision me playing follow the leader right behind the Lord. I ask Him to lead my thoughts, words, and actions…to keep me close behind Him…to keep me from wandering to the right or the left…and to stay at the pace He has set for me.
So…now what? We know we need to change, but how? Well, first we need to acknowledge that on our own we can’t! The only way to change the direction of our lives is to reset the autopilot. That’s what this Transformation Choice is all about. Our verse above in Romans says be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Our sinful nature, the world around us, and Satan are all trying to taint our minds! By God’s power your mind can be changed, and your autopilot reset. Sounds good but how do I begin?
- Go back and look over the last 4 healthy choices to be focused on your main issue and then on the Lord’s strength.
- Focus on one hurt, habit, hang-up! Proverbs 17:24 (tev)…An intelligent person aims at a wise action, but a fool starts off in many directions. Just as you cannot clean your room, cut grass, and grocery shop at the same time…you cannot tackle all your life issues at once. Ask God to help you figure out what to tackle first. You may see that many of them are intertwined anyway.
- Focus on God’s power and not your willpower! Philippians 4:13 (nlt)… for I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. On your own you will most likely fail (how are your New Year’s resolutions holding up?) God has great plans for you, and He wants to enable you to make changes…and let Him transform you from the inside out.
- Focus on the good things, not the bad! Philippians 4:8 (niv)… Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. What you focus on dominates you…where is your attention focused and where is it leading you? Stay focused on all that is good…stay focused on your blessings…and on the giver of those blessings…your Loving Savior.
- Focus on progress, not perfection! Philippians 1:6 (tlb)… And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns. Turn this process over to God and be open to every change he wants you to make….one day at a time.
The fact is that we all sin…and have habits and hang-ups. We live in a sinful world and consequently we all have hurts. The good news is that God loves you unconditionally. In the midst of your biggest battles, He is there. He knows that left on our own power we will fall short. He wants to transform you!
Just like within a chrysalis the old body parts of a caterpillar are undergoing a remarkable transformation called metamorphosis, to become the beautiful parts of a butterfly…. God wants to transform you into the masterpiece that He created you to be!
I told you that this journey to healthy living was going to be challenging! The best advice I can give is to be honest with yourself…and honest with God! The truth is that I am just scratching the surface on these steps or choices. They are all points on a map for a trip you want to take. You need to go through each point to get to the destination. Keep reading the map that I am laying out…but go back and work through each of the stops along the way.