Making Changes

We all have hurts we never forget. We all have hang-ups we can never seem to get past. We all have habits messing up our lives. We’re on the Road to Recovery! R-E-C-O-V-E-R-Y. Today is “V-Day.” Step 5. The TRANSFORMATION Step.

 

 

V- STANDS FOR VOLUNTARILY submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my CHARACTER DEFECTS.

 

It’s based on the verse Romans 12:2 (AMP)

And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be [a]transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

 

The way we are transformed is by having our minds changed.

 

This is the step that deals with MAKING CHANGES. God — with his power — does the changing. And He does it from the inside out, by changing the way we think. Specifically, changing what we believe.

 

And the focus of His work is our character defects. Which requires me to have taken the previous R-E-C-O steps. I have to get honest about what condition my condition is in.

 

Last week we talked about where our character defects come from

 

MY DNA — I’m saying, some of your defects, you inherited. Your DNA. That’s your chromosomes. Both your mother and your father contributed to you 23,000 chromosomes each. And so you inherited some of their weaknesses. You inherited some physical defects from your parents, and you inherited some emotional defects from your parents.

 

MY CIRCUMSTANCES

 

You were raised a certain way, and you learned a lot of your ways of relating, your patterns, and your habits. You learned from your parents and you learned from other people. You learned to respond to your own needs in certain ways and how to cover for yourself, how to handle hurt and rejection.

 

MY CHOICES

 

You and I are free to choose. And if you choose to do something long enough, it becomes a habit. Once it becomes a habit, you’re stuck. Character defects come from my own choices. FREE WILL

 

So, let’s look at the truth. And let’s answer the question, “How?”

“How do I cooperate with God’s change process in my life?”

 

Romans 12:2 has the answer — “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Your thoughts are your auto-pilot in life. If you want to change your life, you’ve got to change the way you think. The Bible says that your thoughts/your beliefs determine your feelings, your feelings determine your actions.

 

If you’re in a boat and you’ve set the auto-pilot to go East, it’s going to go East. Now, you can turn it West. You can grab the wheel and lean into it and turn it. Of course, the whole time, you’re under tension. Eventually, though, you’ll get tired and you’ll let go of the wheel. And then, guess what? It will automatically turn back East.

 

Now, from that text, I want to show you 7 ways to change your mind — so you can cooperate with the way God wants to change you. God’s ambition is to make your character like that of Jesus Christ. And this is how you can cooperate with Him, as He shapes in you the life you’ve always wanted.

 

You can change those habits, hang-ups, hurts — even the ones you never thought you could change.

 

1. Focus on changing ONE DEFECT at a time.

 

Proverbs 17:24: “An intelligent person aims at wise action, but a fool starts off in many directions.” Maybe you’re thinking, “This is great! I’ve got 30 things I want to change.” Don’t do it. You’ll get overwhelmed. You’ll get discouraged. And you won’t change anything.

 

You gotta be specific. Pray, God, which specific defect would You like to work on first in my life? Not what I’d like to, but You.” You don’t just pray, “God, I’d like to be a better person.” That in itself can be denial.

You’ve got to be specific. “God, do you want us to work on my anger, my anxiety, my tendency to control people, my workaholism, or being dishonest?” Go back and get your moral inventory that you made in Step 4. Go down that list and say, “God, which of these is damaging my life the most?” Let Him start working on that. You must work on one defect at a time. Otherwise it doesn’t work.

 

2. Focus on victory ONE DAY at a time.

 

Jesus said, (Matthew 6:11) “Give us this MONTH our daily bread.” No, He says, “Give us this DAY our daily bread.” Why? Because God wants to give you enough strength to change for one day not for one week or one month or the rest of your life or all eternity. He wants you to take it one day at a time — SO YOU’LL TRUST IN HIM.

 

“Life by the yard is hard.

But by the inch, it’s a cinch.”

 

Take a lifetime problem and break it down into bite-size pieces. Then you work on it one day at a time. You get God’s strength — one day at a time. Pray when you get up in the morning, “Lord, just for this day, I want to be patient. Just for today, I want to think pure thoughts, instead of lust. Just for today, I don’t want to lose my temper. Just for today, I want to be positive instead of negative. Help me to not be afraid.” And take it a little bit at a time.

 

And it has the side benefit of keeping you from saying stupid things or asking stupid things of others, like, “I promise to never do it again.” PROMISE YOU'LL  NEVER DO THAT AGAIN. You’re doomed to failure if you say that. One day at a time.

 

Bite-size pieces. Like, if you have a boss or a relative that’s a real jerk and he tends to bring out the bad in you, and you tend to get resentful. OK. So, get up in the morning and pray, “Lord, just for the first 3 hours this morning, give me the power to respond to that boss the way you want me to respond. Help me to not get uptight or worried or resentful. Give me the power to be cheerful, kind and cooperative.”

 

Don’t get sucked into taking the long view. Jesus said, (Matthew 6:34): “Don’t worry about tomorrow, each day has enough troubles of its own.” Don’t worry about how you’re going to win the battles you’ll fight tomorrow. Just today.

 

Of course, we want it now. We’re used to “instant” everything — mashed potatoes, coffee, microwave popcorn. So, it’s not surprising that we want instant spiritual maturity, too. But it just doesn’t happen that way. You must grow by inches. You must grow by days. Just work on it one day at a time.

 

And remember this: YOU’LL WORK THIS STEP AND ALL OF THE OTHER STEPS IN THE ROAD TO RECOVERY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.  So every night, just stop and thank God for whatever change or victory you experienced that day — no matter how small. Take one defect at a time, and focus on victory one day at a time.

 

3. Focus on GOD’S POWER, not willpower.

 

You already know willpower isn’t enough. If willpower worked, you’d already be changed. If you coulda, you woulda. But you can’t, so you won’t. You just don’t have the power to do it. In fact, depending on your own strength — that just blocks recovery in your life. When you say, “I can work it out, I can handle it, I can do it all myself. Really, I’m fine. This is not a big problem…” — all you’re doing is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

 

I want you to literally imagine God taking away your defect. Like a trash collector. Put it in the garbage can. Put the lid on it. Set the garbage can out by the street. The garbage truck comes up that says God & Son, doing business with people like you for 2000 years.” They pick up the garbage, dump it in the truck, mash it down. Then you watch the truck turn around and speed off to heaven. That’s what it means to visually think about giving my problem to God.

 

And if you’re like me, you’re gonna have to have Him make a garbage pickup about every hour. Not just weekly.

 

You trust God’s power, not your own. He can help you master it.

 

4. I focus on what I WANT, not what I DON’T WANT.

 

Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Focus on good things, not bad things.

Whatever you focus on is what you move toward. Whatever you focus on is what dominates your life. If you focus on the bad, it will keep dominating your life. If you focus on what you’ve been, it will keep dominating your life. But if you focus on what you can be and what God wants you to be, then you move that way.

 

Whatever has your attention, has you. If you say, “I’m not going to think about porn, I’m not going to think about porn…” What are you thinking about? Porn. Did you know that not once in the Bible does God command you to resist temptation. Why? Because whatever you resist, persists. The harder you push it — “I’m not going to do this” — the harder it pushes back.

 

Instead of resisting, the Bible teaches refocusing. Just turn the mental channel of your mind. If you’re watching a bad show on TV you don’t say, “I’m not going to watch this, I’m not going to watch this …” No, you just turn the channel. You refocus off of what you’ve been, to what God wants to do in your life.

 

This is the power of memorizing the text you got from God. Memorize one promise from God each week — 7000 to choose from.

Every time you think any thought, it makes an electrical impulse across your brain. Every time you think the same thought, that gets deeper, reinforces that brain pattern. Some of you have negative ruts in your mind because you’ve thought them over and over and over. The only way to get rid of negative ruts is to think God’s Word over and over and over.

SCRIPTURES AT THE END TO MEMORIZE AND MEDITATE ON.

 

5. Focus on DOING good, not FEELING good.

 

Galatians 5:16 The Message (MSG)

16-18 My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness.

 

If you do the right thing, your feelings will eventually catch up with you. If you wait until you feel like changing, you’ll never change. It’s always easier to act your way into a feeling than to feel your way into an action. If I don’t feel loving towards my wife, I have to start acting loving. And then the feelings come. Do the right thing even though you don’t feel like doing it. Eventually your feelings catch up.

 

Anytime you start trying to change a major part of your life, like obeying Bible verses for the first time, — a major character defect, flaw, personality weakness — it’s not going to feel real good at the start. But eventually it will feel great.

If you overeat, or drink or smoke, the first time you try to break that habit you’ll feel weird: “Nothing’s in my mouth.” It’ll feel funny for a little while and it may not feel right. But if you do the right thing over and over and over, eventually your feelings catch up with your behavior. You cannot control your feelings, but you can control your muscles. So you do the right thing whether you feel like it or not and the feelings will catch up with you.

 

6. Focus on PEOPLE who help me, not hinder me.

 

The right kind of people will help you. The wrong kind of people will hinder and prevent your recovery or your progress. The Bible says, “Bad company corrupts good character.” In other words, if you don’t want to get stung, you stay away from the bees. If you know what kind of people tempt you, just stay away from them. If you’re struggling with alcoholism, you don’t say, “I think I’ll go down to the bar and just eat some peanuts.” Bad idea. You don’t get around the things that mess you up.

 

EXAMPLE: If you have close family members or friends who you know are anti church and don't believe in giving money to the church don't go and ask their opinion about church and finances. They are in rebellion to the word of God, to spiritual authority and don't have a spiritual covering. Love them but don't use them as a source of advice. Get a different opinion. That is a poor choice and lacks wisdom.

 

I said this in the first week of the series — and it’s still true: You can’t recover on your own. Recovery always happens in relationship — never on your own. You’ll never recover just listening to a series of messages. It happens when you’re with other people.

 

That’s why we we’ve launched our Life Groups with Celebrate Recovery.

 

True testimony of a local man here in Montezuma County. I thought I was in control. But I didn’t realize that God actually had me on the road to recovery. He was showing me how to let go of the alcohol.

During one weekend, a couple that my wife and I were friends with invited us to go out on the town.  As we were leaving our house, I gave my girls a kiss goodnight and my youngest daughter asked, with tears in her eyes, “Daddy, you’re not going to get drunk are you?”  This broke my heart.  To see that my behavior was affecting my kids to the point of bringing them to tears was enough — I decided that night that I needed to quit drinking.  

 

It didn’t take long for that decision to be tested. The test came sometime later in the form of an invitation to a friend’s house to watch the UFC fights.  My wife and I, along with another couple went over to this party.  After getting there, a drinking buddy of mine showed up with a case of Red Bull and a big ole bottle of vodka.  Red Bull and vodka was my drink of choice by the way.  I don’t remember his exact words but something to the effect of “get a cup”.  About a million thoughts went through my mind at this point.   Most of the thoughts were trying to justify one more, so called, “good time”.  

 

I finally was able to muster up the courage and told him thanks anyways and said I was going to quit drinking.  I walked away but he kept talking to my wife, asking her what was going on.  She told him, “Bob promised our girls that he was going to quit drinking. Aren’t you proud of him?”  His response was, “Proud of him?  Hell, I’m disappointed”.  He later told me that he respected what I was doing and would support me.  I thank God for our friends from the church being there to support me and just by their presence, holding me accountable to my commitment.

Around the same time, my wife’s grandfather — a man I deeply respected for his strength — was dying of a fast-moving respiratory disease.  On the night before he passed away, we had asked him if he was afraid. His response was “Hell, yes, I am afraid, I have never done this before.”  His words really impacted me and made me realize that there are some things I just can’t control. By following these steps and relying on the Lord and his church family this man is free!!!

 

It still amazes me how Jesus Christ can change the heart, soul and direction of grown man like that. Yea, God! We are a work in process. That’s why you need to cooperate with God, also, by…

 

7. Focusing on PROGRESS, not PERFECTION.

 

Maybe you’ve been here for every weekend of this series. And you’re thinking, “I’ve been trying to do these steps. But I don’t see a whole lot of change yet.” Don’t worry about it. It’s a process. It’s a decision followed by a process.

 

Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

God’s going to do it. God who starts His work in you will bring it to completion.

That’s what it means to be a Christ-follower. It’s about following His direction. Not, “Hey, everybody! Look at my perfection.” It’s all about Him. Not me, not you. He’s got the life-changing power. I don’t. You’re still a mess in some areas. But God is pleased with your growth. It’s the direction of your heart that says, “God, I want to voluntarily submit to the changes You want to make in my life. I humbly ask you to remove those character defects.”

 

Jesus said (Matthew 5:6) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.That’s a promise. But God doesn’t start changing you until you are entirely ready for the change. But when your greatest desire is to do what He requires, He will quench your soul-level thirst.

 

He will fill you up. And there will never be anyone else or anything else that can.

 

Say “Yes” to Jesus today.

Scriptures to meditate on and memorize:

I am justified in the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 6:11)

I am victorius. (1 Cor. 15:57)

I walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7)

I am healed by the stripes of Jesus. (1 Peter 2:24)

I am redeemed from the curse of the law. (Galatians 2:13)

I am in Christ therefore I am Abraham's seed and heir according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)

I am overtaken with blessings. (Deuteronomy 28:2)

I am partaker of God's devine nature, therefore I have the ability of God working in me. (2 Peter 1:4)

My prayers availeth much (James 5:16)

I am doer of the Word of God. (James 1:22)

I am a beautiful person full of God's forgiveness and love. I love as God loves me and I forgive as God has forgiven me. Therefore His faith is working in me by love. (Galatians 5:6) (Romans 5:5) (Mark 11:25)

I am the head and not the tail. I am above and not beneath. (Deut. 28:13)

I am more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37)

I am translated into God's kingdon. (Colossians 1:13)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthened me. (Philippians 4:13)

I am the light of the world. (Mathew 5:14)

I am joint heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17)

I have peace of God which passes all understandning. (Philippians 4:7)