Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Time for change,

1 Samuel 16:7New International Version (NIV)

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Time for change...
With the new year coming, many of us are thinking about what our hope and dreams are for the new year.  We are also thinking about change.  How I want to change.  With that comes resolutions.  We resolve to do better than we did the year before.
We set goals, prepare for failure.  Out with the old, in with the new.  New and improved behavior for the old bad ones.  Some call these habits.  Some call them addictions.
So we plan to get organized, quit being lazy, stop smoking, eating too much, don't work so hard, work some, don't shop so much, don't waste more time...the list goes on and on and on.
So we suck it up.  Make a game plan and into the new year our plans take us.  Only to find us a few months later back into our old habits and ways again.  They say it takes 2 months to change a habit.  But are we really changed?

I ask myself, why change anyway?
Do I want my life to go better?  Do I want the admiration of others or the praise of God some would say?  Do I want to feel better about me?  God wants me to change anyway right?  To get better...
This morning as I was having my time with the Lord, I ask Him to show me about addiction, habits.  

Here are some things I have learned...

1. One of the purposes for sin in our lives, for Satan's work,  and for the law is to bring judgement to us.  We must feel the hopelessness and guilt of our sin.

2. God tares down, but He builds us back up.  We become so desperate and hopeless only the rescue of Christ can hold on to us.

3. We are to set each other free from guilt, and oppression and wounds and give the good news of the gospel.  Christ died for sinners.  We are righteous in Christ.  Forgiven.

4. God's goal for us in our suffering is to make our heart tender.  God was pleased to bruise His Son.

I have shared before, I have smoked since I was about 18.  It has been the one thing I could not get under control.  It has broken me in pride, self righteousness and a hard heart.  There are other things in these last 20 years that have also done the same.

Many times I have prayed for God to set me free.  I have held a rotten lung, had acupuncture, been hypnotized, taken meds, worn patches and chewed gum, exercised.  Finally I just told my friends and came out of the closet.  I was tired of hiding.  They just loved me anyway.  In this addiction I have learned so much about God and His unconditional love for me.  About being forgiven.  I have received compassion for others with addiction.  Even for the lying and sneakiness and rebellion.   I do not condone it but I do not see myself apart from the grace of God any better.

I want you to know I am not giving you license to stay in your addiction.  It is such a bondage.  It takes away freedom and blinds us.  It can harden our hearts.  Or it can break us.  We are in Gods mercy for this.  It not only hurts us but it hurts those we love because we give our heart to it.

But what I am saying is God has got you.  If you are caught in a bad habit, it does not catch God by surprise.  He is not interested in getting the outside of you together.  He is interested in the humility of your heart.  Then the outside will happen as you lean into Jesus.  Only through humility and tenderness can we be obedient through dependence and reliance on Him.  Any other way is only self reliance, even if you pray while trying to get it done.  Not an excuse to sin but a call to trust Gods perfect plan for your life.

Change of habit is a fruit of the Spirit.  It is being set free from guilt, oppression and lies from Satan.  The more you are set free.  Ask God for His Spirit and look to Jesus to be Lord over your life the more free you will become.  I prayed so many times for self control. To know Gods love for me more and to have more faith and trust Him more.

This morning I prayed.  Father, I give you my addiction to smoking.  I want what you want in my heart.  I don't care anymore if I smoke until the day I die, I want you to work in my heart the work you want done through it.  I want a tender heart for you Father.  The Spirit nudged me to get up, run water in my pack of cigarettes and throw them away.  I said I can't Lord.  Then I thought you can always buy more.  Don't let the fear of failure hold you back.  Here is the way walk in it.

So I don't know what is going to happen.  I know the smoking thing is not the issue so much with me now.  I see why God allowed it in my life for so long.  I have been in such bondage in my heart with fear, depression and anxiety. I have had such wrong beliefs about God in my heart and Him towards me.  But before that, I was so so strong and self sufficient.  God had to break me to build me.  He had to bruise me to heal me.  I have to die to be raised.  Dying is painful.  Not getting our way is painful.  Giving up our control is painful.  It is a bitter sweet.  That is where there is peace and life.

It is like the Shepard who rescued the lamb from going outside the pasture where the wolves were.  He picked him up and broke his leg and bound it and placed him around his neck until he heals.  The lamb will never leave the shepherds side again.  

We all like sheep have gone astray.  We cannot find our own way.  We self destruct.  God uses the guilt, the oppression and the lies to bruise us.  Then He gives us truth, opens our eyes and sets us free to live and obey Him out of a love that we have never known before.  No one or nothing can hold us back and that is how I believe we can change.  It is for me anyway.  If you can learn from this.  If God can set you free beginning now, I praise Him.  Then so tell someone else what you have learned and how God is changing you.

Happy New Year!