People DO Change, Here's How...
On Monday we started a blog series about transformation. How do you allow God to change your thinking? How do you transform your mind? How can you experience real, lasting change so that you can start living a better life?
I change the way I think by changing my FOCUS.
I am going to give you seven ways to change your focus so you can cooperate with the way God wants to change you. I have you the first three on Monday....
I focus on changing one DEFECT at a time.
I focus on victory one DAY at a time.
I focus on GOD'S power not my power, my willpower.
Here’s the 4th way.
4. I focus on what I WANT not on what I don't want.
Phil 4:8 "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and good, and right. Think about things that are pure. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about."
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 what you've been it will keep dominating your life. If you focus on what you can be and what God wants to be in your life, then you move that way. Whatever has your attention, has you.
If you say, "I'm not going to think the brownies, I'm not going to think about brownies in the cupboard..." What are you thinking about? Brownies! You don't resist temptation. Not once in the Bible does God command you to resist temptation. Not once. He says, resist the tempter, resist the devil, but not 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 you want to be, to what God wants to do in your life.
5. I focus on DOING good not feeling good.
Galatians 5:16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.
If we do the right thing, our feelings will eventually catch up with us. If we wait until we feel like changing, we'll never change. The devil will make sure we'll never feel like it. It's always easier to act our way into a feeling than to feel our way into an action. If I don't feel loving toward my wife, I start acting loving and the feelings will come. If you wait until you feel like it, it will be a long time.
So you say, "I don't feel like it." Do the right thing, Don't worry about feeling the right thing. AA uses the phrase "Fake it until you make it.” Do the right thing even though you don't feel like doing it, because you know it's the right thing to do and you do it anyway. Eventually our feelings catch up.
6. I focus on people who HELP me, not hinder me in making these positive changes I want to make in my life.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Bad company corrupts good character
We’ve talked about this before. Friends influence the direction and quality of our life. Pastor Rich has told many students in the past, “Show me your 5 closest friends and I’ll show you your future.” Friends influence the direction and quality of our life. If you know what kind of people tempt you, just stay away from it. If you're struggling with alcoholism you don't say, "I think I'll go down to the bar, hang out with my old drinking buddies and just eat the peanuts." Bad idea.
7. I focus on PROGRESS not perfection.
Phil 1:6 "And 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."
Some of you who have been making some of these BETTER choices, but you say, "Jerry, I don't see a whole lot of change yet." Don't worry about it. It's a process. God who starts His work in you will bring it to completion.
In WWII the Marines had a definite strategy they used when they went to retake the Pacific from the Japanese. They used the same strategy on every island and it worked every time. First, the Marines would go to the island that had been taken captive, and they would start bombing it and they would just pelt it with bombs and grenades and all kinds of explosives. That was called the softening up period. Many of you are in the softening up period right now. All kinds of explosions are going off in your life that are just sending fragments everywhere and you’re saying, “This isn’t working.” You come to a point where you say, “Yes, I need something beyond myself.” It’s softening up your pride. “I need help. I need God in my life. There’s too much stress.”
The second phase, the Marines would come in and establish a beachhead, maybe only 20 yards deep and 200 yards wide but they would get a presence on the island. When they had established the beachhead, had they liberated the island? No. They had just gotten in. From there they began to fight the battles. Sometimes they’d move 100 yards forward and sometimes they’d get pushed back. But everybody knew that once they had established a beachhead total liberation of the island was inevitable. It was just a matter of time. In the history of WWII once the Marines had landed and established a beachhead they never lost an island. It was just a matter of time that the entire island would be free.
When you make these choices what is happening is God is establishing a beachhead in your life. Does that mean everything in my life is perfect? Absolutely not. It means God is in your life. He is establishing his presence, like a beachhead, and the rest of your life He’s going to be setting you free. Little by little, changing you. It’s a process.