Do you ever feel like you have so many things to work on to improve your walk and yourself and becoming more Christ like? Do they ever overwhelm you? Do you wake up in the morning with the best of intentions but on the drive to work you get cut off and end up throwing hands in air and gesturing (I would never do that btw.....noooooo.....not me......never ever........)?
Anyway, I enjoy reading the Daily Devotionals on the Purposed Driven website every morning. I seem to learn something every day. Now do I use everything I learn....probably not....hence the first question above. I found this additional article on the website yesterday and I found it to be comforting, helpful, educational and hopeful. I thought I would share:
How Do We Cooperate with God's Change Process?
John Baker From PurposeDriven.com The only way to change the direction of our lives—long-term—is to reset our “autopilot.” That’s what the transformation choice is all about. Romans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Transformed. Renewed mind. If we want to change our lives, we’ve got to reset the autopilot on the way we think. Our thoughts determine our feelings, and our feelings determine our actions.
What character defects are you trying to stop by using your own willpower? Are you tired yet? Have you figured out that you can’t do it on your own until you reset your autopilot? By God’s power, your mind can be changed and your autopilot can be reset.
The following seven focus points will show you how to cooperate with God as he works to change your autopilot and gets you heading in the right direction.
1. Focus on changing one defect at a time
You may have 30 different things you know need changing, but the wisdom of Proverbs tells us, “An intelligent person aims at wise action, but a fool starts off in many directions.” Trying to tackle all 30 problems at once is like those little bugs that fly around in all directions, never making any real progress but stirring up a lot of motion. Ask God to help you focus on changing one defect at a time. Otherwise you’ll feel overwhelmed and discouraged, and you won’t be able to change anything at all.
Focus on one specific change at a time, such as your anger, anxiety, workaholism, dishonesty, or your tendency to control people. Let God help you focus on one defect at a time.
2. Focus on victory one day at a time
God didn’t promise to give us all the groceries we need for the entire year so we can stuff our refrigerator full and then forget about him. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he said, “Give us today our daily bread.” He didn’t say, “Give us this month our daily bread.” He didn’t ask for one week, one month, or the rest of his life. Why? Perhaps for two reasons: first, God wants us to lean on him day by day; and second, he knows we can’t handle looking forward to a whole lifetime all in one chunk. We need it broken down.
We live in a world of instant everything: mashed potatoes, coffee, microwave popcorn, even information. And we want instant spiritual maturity. One day we are a total mess, and we want to be Billy Graham the next. It doesn’t happen that way. Don’t set a deadline for yourself; just work on it one day at a time. Each night thank God for whatever change or victory he has worked in your life, no matter how small.
3. Focus on God’s power, not your willpower
Can you remember your last New Year’s resolutions? Even if you can remember them, have you followed through and actually done them? Probably not. Studies show that within six weeks, approximately 80 percent of us break our New Year’s resolutions.
You already know that willpower isn’t enough. If your own willpower worked, you would have already changed. The truth is, your self-will can’t help you change because you don’t have the power to do it. In fact, depending on your own strength will actually block your recovery. It’s like trying to turn that big boat by your own willpower when it’s set on autopilot to go the opposite way. You struggle and try, but in the end you are defeated.
God’s Word gives us some profound insight: “Can…a leopard take away his spots? Nor can you who are so used to doing evil now start being good” (Jeremiah 13:23). Forget it. You’ll never change by your own willpower. Here’s the good news: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). He can help you change your character defects if you submit to him and pray, “Lord, I know I can’t change on my own power, but I’m trusting you to change me.”
4. Focus on the good things, not the bad
The Bible says, “Fix your thoughts on what it true and good and right. Think about things that are pure. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about” (Philippians 4:8). What you focus on is what you move toward. What you focus on dominates your life.
This is where the power of God’s Word comes in. Did you know that there are more than seven thousand promises in the Bible? When you get these promises into your mind, you can change your channel to something good at any time.
Did you know that every time you think a thought—positive or negative—it sends an electrical impulse across your brain, and that impulse creates a path? Every time you think the same thought, the path gets deeper and reinforces that brain pattern. Some of us have negative ruts in our minds because we’ve thought the same negative things over and over. But we can also create positive pathways in our mind. Every time we think about a scriptural truth, we reinforce that positive brain pattern. The only way to replace the negative ruts is to think God’s Word over and over.
As you focus on what you can be and what God wants you to be, you will move in the right direction. Whatever has your attention has you. Stay focused on the good and not the bad.
5. Focus on doing good, not feeling good
If you wait until you feel like changing, you’ll never change. The enemy will make sure you never feel like it. But if you’ll go ahead and do the right thing, your feelings will eventually catch up with you. It’s always easier to act your way into a feeling than to feel your way into an action. If you don’t feel loving toward your spouse, begin to act loving, and the feelings will come. If you wait until you feel like it, you may have a long wait.
The old phrase “Fake it ‘til you make it” applies here. Do the right thing even though you don’t feel like it. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Eventually, your feelings will catch up. Anytime you try to change a major part of your life—a character defect, flaw, personality trait, or weakness—it won’t feel good at the start. In fact, it will feel awkward. Even more, it will feel bad for a while. Why? Because it won’t feel normal. Sometimes we are so used to feeling abnormal that normal doesn’t feel good.
Let’s say you’re a workaholic, and you decide to do the right thing whether you feel like it or not. So you go home at five, and you don’t take work home in your briefcase. The first time you try this, it feels really weird. The first time you try to relax, you find that you don’t know how to relax because you’ve worked so hard for so long. But if you do the right thing, over and over, eventually your feelings will catch up with your behavior.
As we focus on doing what’s right, we must draw on the power of the Holy Spirit. Scripture makes a powerful promise about our reliance on the Holy Spirit: “If you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence” Galatians 5:16 (JB). The guiding of the Holy Spirit works in direct opposition to self-indulgence. So as we do what’s right, his power works in us to bring our heart and feelings in line.
6. Focus on people who help, not hinder you
The Bible says, “Do not be fooled: ‘Bad friends will ruin good habits’” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NCV). In other words, if you don’t want to get stung, stay away from the bees. If you know what type of people tempt you, just stay away from them.
On the other hand, you do need to hang around people who will help you make positive changes in your life. Again, the Bible has words for us: “Two are better than one . . . If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! . . . A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12 NIV). There is power in numbers.
7. Focus on progress, not perfection
Life change is a process. It’s a decision followed by a process. To the Philippians, the apostle Paul said with total confidence, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6 NLT). If you have turned the change process over to God and have resolved to cooperate the best you can, God will work change in you through the power of his Holy Spirit.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that God will only love you once you reach a certain stage. God loves you at each stage of recovery and growth. God will never love you any more than he does at this very minute. And he will never love you any less than he does right now. A father does not expect his seven-year-old to act like a seventeen-year-old. The seven-year-old still makes messes and acts like a child, but the father is pleased with and loves his seven-year-old child.
God is pleased with whatever growth and progress we make. Just as a parent thrills at his or her baby’s first steps, our heavenly Father thrills at each and every step of our growth—no matter how small. It’s the direction of our heart that pleases him.