Do you ever give much thought to change? Many people are uncomfortable with the whole idea of change, but at the same time they recognize that in their lives some things need to change. Much of the things in our lives that need to change are nothing more than a result of poor choices we have made in response to difficult circumstances or temptation. So for real change to come into our lives, we really need to change our focus. There is a principle you need to know: The way we think determines how we feel. How we feel determines the way we act. Therefore we must change the way we think by changing our focus.
This principle is true because we are often guilty of focusing on the undesirable things in our lives such as pain, hurt, anger, disappointment, addictions, and habits while we neglect to focus on the things of life that really matter. So when it comes to change, there are several things on which we need to focus. What are these things?
First we need to focus on the process of change. Change is a process. We cannot change everything about ourselves at once. We must do it one character defect at a time. Here is what you need to do right now. You need to begin to pray, “God, what defect do you want to work on first in my life starting today?” Let God point it out to you and surrender that defect to Him right now.
Second, we need to focus on God’s power. So many of you are trying to change yourself and it cannot be done. You must stop focusing on changing your own life by your own will power and start focusing on and relying on God’s power. If will power worked, everyone in would be skinny, have big savings accounts, and would deal with no damaging habits. The Bible teaches us you cannot change on your own. Listen to the words of Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Phil. 4:13).” No matter what you are facing today you can find transformation in Jesus.
Third, we need to start focusing on the positive. The Bible does clearly teach us that our thought life directly affects the actions of our lives either negatively or positively. Paul said “Finally, brothers, 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 (Phil. 4:8).” If we do not control our thoughts, our thoughts will begin to control us. When it comes to our thought life and the things we think about, we must learn to refocus our thoughts on those things which make us better and are positive.
Fourth, we need to focus on the practices of our lives. In other words, you need to learn to focus on doing good rather than focusing on feeling good. If you wait to feel like changing then you will never change. Right now you need to trust God and take action toward positive change. You may need to stop some things, make a call for counseling, get an accountability partner, join a Celebrate Recovery group, or at least admit the issues to yourself and to God. You must begin to take action and then let your feelings catch up. Satan will make sure that you will never feel like changing your life, therefore you must first take action.
Fifth, we need to begin to focus on the right people. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company corrupts good character.” To put this into Arkansas terminology, Paul is saying: “If you want to soar with the Eagles, you gotta stop running with the turkeys.” To change you must stop hanging around with the people and got to the places that will mess you up, cause you to make bad choices, or will not hold you accountable for dong what is right! Here is what to ask yourself, “Are the people I am surrounding myself with making me a better person and bringing me closer to the Lord?”
Finally, focus on progress each day. Transformation and healing are a process. It all begins with surrendering your life to the Lord, allowing Him to forgive you sin, and become the Lord of your life. This is the starting point of the process. But the healing and change will take place in a process. Therefore, you must focus on the victory of each day and even small steps of progress. The Lord wants to change you, but He will not make you a robot. Each day you have to personally take responsibility for choosing to live for the Lord and not yourself or some other person. He will give you the strength you need to see change and will guide you, but in the end you cannot put yourself in tempting situations or around negative triggers for your life. “Be confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).”