Stretching Your Faith

We are in a season we call Heart for the House here at Motor City Church. There are many ways we can show our heart for God’s house. Many serve on the Dream Team, our volunteer teams, and many tell others about Motor City Church. We also show our heart for the house through our giving during the year.  But, once a year we get together and imagine what we could do to help bring about the vision for the future. 

One of our vision statements is “Make A Difference.” Difference makers build a legacy that will affect our children and our children’s children. It’s important to invest our time, talent and treasure on behalf of others. God actually designed the human body to release endorphins when we give to others. He designed us to get joy from helping others. Psychology has even proven that humans have a need to be significant. As we look to the vision God has given for MCC, we incorporate service, evangelism, and finances to fulfill what God has designed us to be, to make a difference.  

As we give, Hebrews 6 assures us,For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love for him by caring for other believers. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.” God does not forget what we have done to help and serve others. What we do for ourselves dies with us, but what we do for others lives beyond us. I say it often, church is not about us. The church exists for others. As a church we organize ourselves to make a difference in the lives of others.  

As we are in a special season of giving, I am reminded of my first significant step of faith to invest financially in my church at the time. I was in a service much like the one we had at MCC today and God told me to give $500. I had $503 in my bank account at the time. But when God speaks to you about a seed, He has a harvest in mind. I let go of what was in my hand and God let go of what was in His hand. A week later Christine was asked to be in a Walmart commercial! Not only did she get paid for the commercial but she got paid every time it aired. We ended up with more than $15,000 from that commercial! The $500 we gave was a huge stretch of faith for us. It was all we had. It takes faith to please God. But, we have to learn to use faith. Faith is a muscle. We need to exercise it. And like exercise, we start where we are and we stretch and strengthen and work our way up to new levels. Since that time, I have had many opportunities to stretch and strengthen my faith in the area of financial giving. 

As we learn to trust God, we become a distribution center. We are blessed to be a blessing. Think about water pipes that have water flowing through them. They are wet on the inside. A water pipe’s purpose is not to get wet. Pipes are for distribution. But pipes do get wet as part of the process. As we become a conduit of generosity, we will experience favor and blessing because it is flowing through us. Like pipes getting wet, the effect of the flow will be upon us. 

Keep in mind, having and giving are two different things. When you can be trusted to give what God has led you to give,  it will flow into your hands. I have been in situations where I did not have what God was showing me to give. I gave what I had and then believed for the rest. Just like a farmer, when you give, you are sowing seed. God will supply seed to the sower. 

As God blesses you, remember there is a difference between harvest and seed. Many times God will put a bigger blessing in our hands and we spend it on ourselves. We mistake it for the harvest. But it is actually just more seed. I learned this after God blessed us with a much needed car and then we were led to give it away soon after we had acquired it. I discovered God is trustworthy as I obeyed Him and trusted Him. Every time He's raised the standard of our giving, He's raised the standard of our living. As we put the Kingdom of God first, God will add everything else we need. As we focus on building His house, He builds our house. 

Each of us gives at different levels but each one should be operating in generosity and give something. We want to give our best to God, trust Him and release what we have in our hands. Something powerful happens when we come together in unity. In unity God commands the blessing and it all counts. We give at different levels but with equal sacrifice. It can be scary and it takes faith. In 2 Corinthians 9:1-15 we learn the story of the Corinthian gifts to the believers in Macedonia. Paul explained the principle of seed and harvest - planting small, reaping small and planting more, reaping more. God provides an increase in our resources to allow for even more generosity. And God will be glorified. Two good things result from this ministry of giving. As I give to the ministry, God ordains it and then uses it. What’s your stretch today? Stretch and know, God sees and won’t forget. Seek first the kingdom of God, and all the things you need for your life will be added to you. 

Heart For The House

Heart For The House

At Motor City Church, we are in the season we call “Heart for the House.” Heart for the House is all about making a difference together by giving our time, talent, and treasure. 

 

Matthew 6:25-33 is a classic passage and ends with, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things (things we tend to worry about) will be given to you as well.” The focus according to this verse is God’s kingdom. Have you ever asked, “What can I do for God?” Yes, we are His kids and He has amazing things He has given us in the past and wants to give us in the future, but we are also His servants and He has a Kingdom focus. What does it mean to have a heart for the things God has a heart for? 

 

God has a heart for the world. We are blessed at Motor City Church to have frequent opportunities to invest in or even participate in ministry to the world, to give to and serve on the world stage. We give to different projects and we have mission connections that allow some of us to actually go out on missions, a place to use our gifts and abilities to impact the world. We may drill a well or build a church or school, but in the end, it is about building an environment where people can experience the love of God. That's why missions exist. They provide an opportunity to advance God’s kingdom and watch Jesus change people. He changes our perspective AND changes the lives of those we take the mission to. 

 

A heart for our community is another aspect of having a heart for the house. People need Jesus. Local outreach creates a space where people have opportunity to work together to create safe space within their neighborhood or within a neighborhood across town. It is love in action. It opens opportunities to help people and to pray for people in person, to bless them and to let them know God loves them. Sometimes local outreach is a fun event that creates a low stress, safe space for people to bring their families where kids are free to be kids and families experience God's love in a caring atmosphere. Do you reach out to your neighbors? Ask God what you can do for your neighbors and expect Him to move. Be ready to listen to God and obey what He shows you. 

 

A heart for the house is not just for the world and community but it’s for the local body of Christ. The body of Christ, the church, is the answer to a lot of the world's problems. This is why it is important to be a part of the local church. Hebrews 10:25 exhorts us not to neglect meeting together. We tend to conflate “gathering together” and “assembling together”. We come to “gather'' most of the time, but we gather and then go home, unchanged by the experience. When we assemble, we interlock and work together for a bigger purpose - like a puzzle - to accomplish all that God has for the house and for the Kingdom. We make a space for people to say yes to Jesus. What are you doing to fit together with others from the house, to assemble and be used to build something together? God is the builder and He is using us to build the vision of His heart.

 

This same verse in Hebrews tells us to encourage one another. Competition is not encouraging. We need to learn the skill of encouragement. We are called to encourage each other. Encouragement starts with engagement. Get involved in the local body of Christ and get engaged. You will be encouraged and you will be in position to encourage others. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says that “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” Don't let each other do life alone. Stand back to back, protecting and helping each other. Stand arm in arm to help each other succeed. We are powerful together. We are equipped to fight for the Kingdom together. Be a part of a life-giving community. How are you encouraging other people?

 

Remember, our enemy, the devil, roars around seeking whom he may devour. Lions wait for their prey to be exhausted. They go after the one that's by themselves.When you live without assembly and family, you're in danger. Thinking of the puzzle analogy, the enemy is going for the edge pieces. When they're in place, they help with the vision, the big picture, the overall perspective. But they are also the ones that get lost or drop off the table. People who interlock and engage are protected and covered by those whom they are connected with.

 

You are invited to help us build, to join us and to assemble, to come together in one place for a common purpose. There's more to church than just attending. There is connection, purpose, making a difference. Encouraging one another allows us to experience God's presence collectively and then do something with what God has just shown us. Think outside yourself!! The goal of the church is to create space for you to learn who you are in Christ and impact the world around you in alignment with your identity in Him!

Read more: Heart For The House

Created for Greatness

In today’s message, the scripture I want to focus on is Joshua 1:8, “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

Joshua speaks of success in all you do. True success is not measured by material things. As you steer yourself purposefully to develop skills based on spiritual laws and principles, you can chart a course for true, good, success. No matter how discouraged you are with the circumstances in your life now, no matter how many disappointments you have experienced, you can do some big things with what you have, because God has a perfect plan for your life. You are like a seed. Inside of you is everything good that God created you to be. And as with any seed it is just waiting to be released into all of its fullness. There is greatness inside of you. I believe success is becoming the person you were meant to be and living out your God-given potential. Fulfillment will come when you get in line with His plan for you. And, when you are aligned with God’s plan for you, that plan will not fail.

Shoot for your maximum potential. Work to create a mindset for the fulfillment of God’s plan for you. Romans 12:2 has been the theme verse for this “Mindset Matters” message series. You need transformation, but you can't transform you. God does the transformation. The vehicle for that transformation is a change of mindset. Most of us want to get to Heaven someday because that is where there are no sorrows and no sickness, where there is peace of mind and security. Well, I believe heaven can be in the here and now. You can enjoy the goodness of God in the land of the living. You have the ability to release the will of God, enjoying God’s will on earth as it is in Heaven.

You're designed for the spirit of life to operate within you. Eden was here on earth. It was created for humans to dwell in. God gave people dominion, but we lost our ability to see things correctly and were removed from that perfect place. Because God couldn’t bear to be separated from us, He sent Jesus to restore us. Jesus brought a portion of Heaven to earth and demonstrated the will of God through His life, through healing and teaching, through His life, death and resurrection. Jesus was the Word embodied and demonstrated truth for us through His life. The Word of God gives us instruction for every area of our life. We need to know God’s word. In fact, the Bible is the original success book.

Hosea 4:6 shows us that people are being destroyed because they do not know God. The right kind of information gives you the ability to see correctly. Wisdom and correct judgment come from knowing the Word. With this knowledge, you can tell the difference between light and darkness, evil and good. You learn to stand on the Word, to live your life based on the truth. Circumstances and feelings will blind you. Learn to open your eyes to the truth as it is, based on Scripture, not what truth seems to be when you look at your circumstances.

Joshua 1:8 says to study continually. Don't be destroyed from lack of knowledge. God gave this book to help you. Meditate on it day and night. Think seriously about God’s word. Ponder it. Only then will you be prosperous. And God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory. Then you will do well and have good success. Then you will become the person you're meant to be. You do the study and meditation and then this promise follows. This is reflective of our partnership with God. The Word works for those who work the Word. That is how you have a foundation for living, a foundation of righteousness, thoughts that are right, beliefs that are right and speech that is right. As you allow this transformation to take place you will be in a position to receive what is right. This is your prescription, read the Word every day. it will settle in your heart and change your life.

James 4:2-3 reveals the truth, “You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” Check your heart. Learn to ask God for what you want - or - settle for what you get. It is still your choice. God has so much for you. Don't settle. Make your mind mind. Don't let wandering and unintentional, random thoughts rule. Harness and bridle your thoughts. There is an old saying. “A bird may fly over your head but you don't have to let it build a nest.”

Choose your thoughts. Study God’s word and meditate on it. Introduce good things to your mind. Reject thoughts that do not reflect the truth of God’s Word. Thoughts will impact your feelings and your feelings will impact your behavior. God created us for brilliance. You decide what to let in. We each have a purpose to reach our maximum potential. As you ponder the truth, it subjects your mind to God‘s plan for your life and it establishes you with hope and defeats discouragement that limits progress. “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” (Hebrews 6:19). Don’t live your life with inhibited hope. Harness your thinking. Get God’s plan, His thoughts. Build on the Word of God. Just like an instrument rated pilot, trust the instrument God has given you. Study and meditate on His Word and then watch Him replace the impossible with the possible. He will transform your thoughts and your life as you meditate on His thoughts. Renew your mind with God thinking. “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

Transformation Power

 I have been talking about how our Mindset Matters for the past few weeks. Last week we talked about making lasting changes. Today we're going to flip it a bit. Wrong mindset can hold us back from achieving things in our lives. Well, our mindset also faces the battle of believing for those things we dream of for our lives.

God is a transformer. He wants to transform you into the person He intended for you to become and He has wonderful things in mind for you, beyond what you can even ask, think or imagine. But, as we’ve been discussing, our thinking is the key. God is more interested in changing your thinking than He is in changing your circumstances.

It is no secret that people from all walks of life understand that the way people think impacts their behavior. With that in mind, I believe God exists, that He created us on purpose, for a purpose and that He has a specific plan for us. But, we hold the keys to our destiny. We're not a puppet on a string. We have the power of reason. We plot our own course on our way to destiny. Decisions we make compile to shape our future.

God wants to be your partner and He will share His plan with you if you look to Him. Jeremiah 29:10 says, “I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.” But you have to take the steps. You will make the most of the navigational decisions for your life if you look to God and what He has to say. With God, you can stay on track and stay in God's best for you. When He speaks to you and you follow what He is telling you it is like the teacher who gives you a pop quiz and then tells you to choose “c” because that is the answer. It's easy to pass the test if you have the answers and God never holds back.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 proclaims, “Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life.” We have so much power for our lives. I don't believe in luck. I believe in favor. If we are walking according to God’s principles we will walk in His favor. Each of us has a promised land like the children of israel. We can choose to go into the promise ... or we can wander for forty years. Don't let fear keep you out of God’s promises for you. When the Israelites had their first chance to go into the promised land, they chose not to go because of the giants in the land. They had faith. They just had faith in the wrong thing. Don't put your faith in giants. Put your faith in God. Possess your promised land and receive the blessing God has for you.

Release God's best in your life. It is His will for heaven to be on earth. Job 22:28 says “You will succeed in whatever you choose to do, and light will shine on the road ahead of you.” Stop waiting for opportunity to present itself to you. Keep on asking and seeking and knocking (Matthew 7:7-11). God has great things for you. “Whatever will be will be” is no way to live. You have to possess your promise. See yourself there, in possession of your promise. You will never leave the desert if you can't see yourself in Canaan. Ask God for what you want. He gave us thousands of promises in His Word. Claim these by reading them, meditating on them and declaring them. You will be amazed how your life will change - no more just floating through life waiting for things to come to you.

Can you see yourself getting that job? How about owning your own house? As a person desires and judges, so are they. Base your decisions in the truth of God's word. Any time you step out of the way of truth and open yourself to deception, you will get wrong information and your decisions will be affected negatively. Jesus came from heaven to earth, into humanity, to free us from failure to receive heaven on earth. It is the will of God for you to be healthy. It is God's will for you to be able to pay your bills and to have money left at the end of your month and not to be stressed out. Heaven came to earth in Jesus and you can choose to release that into your life.

Walk by faith in God’s Word, and not by your senses. Feed your faith and starve your doubt. The biggest battle you'll ever wage will be to keep the things God has for you in your mind. The devil comes with distractions and lies to steal, kill and destroy. Your position is in God's purpose to give you a rich and satisfying life, heaven on earth, peace of mind, well-being, favor, and life more abundant. Through God, we see things as they are and we are equipped to make good choices.

We have choice in what we want to think about and the power of choices that result from what we are thinking about. We are the ones who have to keep bad thoughts out. What are you believing? What are you putting your faith in? What thoughts are you using to make decisions and choices? God is for you, for your family, for your health and for your future. In Matthew 8:13, Jesus told the centurion that his belief made it happen. Believe and watch it happen. The things you believe in your mind take shape in your life. God will do for you what you believe. This is a principle of Jesus. He promises to supply all your needs. Believe it. With God all things are possible. Faith comes by hearing and hearing, hearing and hearing some more. Position yourself for transformation. Mind your mind.

MAKING LASTING CHANGES

Our verse for this series is Romans 12:2. God is transforming us from the inside out by changing the way we think. When our thinking is changed, then we will learn to know God’s will for our lives.

Our goal is to learn to make our mind mind! But how do we make a change that is lasting? Change always follows choices and it requires learning and facing the truth. We cannot have a positive change based on negative ideas, lies and mistrust. We have got to learn the truth. “Learn the truth and never reject it. Get wisdom, self-control, and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). Pills and resolutions are not going to change us. Knowing the truth and facing the truth brings about change. The truth really does set you free. It can be uncomfortable and painful. We are like our ancestors before us, we want to hear things that make us feel good. We tend to avoid what we don't want to hear. We're broken and imperfect. As 1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” Say it, “It's me that needs to change.” 

In your life, behind every self-defeating defect that makes it difficult for you to get along with others or whatever it may be, behind every self-defeating behavior, there is a lie that you are believing. This is why the first requirement for personal change is to learn the truth and face the truth about yourself. Learning to face the truth is the most loving thing you can do for yourself - and for others. Eph 4:15 (CSV) - “Love should always make us tell the truth.” Where do you get the truth? Go to the owner's manual, the Word of God, the Bible. God knows His purpose for you and He knows how He made you. God’s word is truth. As you learn God’s Word and your thinking changes, other parts of your life will change. When it comes to personal change, the Bible is the manual for resetting your life. It shows you the path, where you got off the path, how to get back on the path and how to stay on the path. Read the word everyday. It's like a mirror, revealing the good and the bad. So, how do we make changes in our lives that will last?

Lasting change requires a new way of thinking.

You are not what you think you are, but you are what you think. Ephesians 4:23, “Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” What you think determines what you feel. All feelings start with a thought. How you feel determines how you act. You can't just change your feelings. You have to change your thoughts, discipline your mind. This is repentance. The Greek word for repentance is metanoya. It means to change your mind. Do a 180. “Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Choosing is the beginning of changing. When you change the way you think and you begin to think God‘s thoughts, when you begin to put on the mind of Christ and think like He does your defects will come to light and you will see them in a totally different way. In fact, defects are often strengths that are being misused. For instance, if you have a gift of discernment, it can be misused in the form of judgment. If you are detail-oriented, a misuse can be pickiness or a desire to control. Defects are often attempts to meet unmet needs. Needs are legitimate but meeting them has to be done in the right way. 

Lasting change requires community and coaching.

Have you ever seen a football player that can’t be stopped without a team tackle? The guys trying to bring him down need help. We need help. We can't do it by ourselves. We need to join a small group and serve on a team. We need to get good counsel from mature believers and we should find a mentor. Ephesians 4:25 tells us to stop the lies and tell the truth. We are connected to each other. Another version says we belong to each other. The moment you tell somebody else about your truth, you get instant power and relief. Proverbs 28:13 drives the point home,  “You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up; then God will show mercy to you.” In fact, you can try to hide them but you can't. Others already see them. We spend energy trying to cover up things to no avail. Our biggest hurdle to holiness is to look good. We need to build relationships with people and see ourselves and our situations through their eyes. “By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). We need those who keep us accountable. We all need coaches. A coach helps you maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Magnify the strengths so that your weaknesses are forgotten. Moses mentored Joshua and Elijah mentored Elisha. Timothy had the Apostle Paul  and of course, Jesus mentored the disciples.We all need mentors and we should also be speaking into the lives of others.

Lasting change requires the Holy Spirit.

We cannot change with human energy alone. We need God. Laws and rules cannot change us. Zechariah 4:6 instructs us - “‘You will not succeed by your own strength or by your own power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord All-Powerful.” We cannot transform ourselves on our own power.  We didn't collect hangups and habits overnight and we won't get rid of all of them at once, but as we commit to learn His word and to submit ourselves to others for coaching and mentoring, God changes us daily to be more and more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). How serious are you about changing for the better in your life? How serious are you about changing those parts of your personality that irritate you? How interested are you in no longer being a victim of fear and worry? 

You can change with God’s Word, with help from your community, and with the help of the Holy Spirit. Put these into practice. We're not perfect and some changes we need to make are very painful. But learn the truth and face the truth. Allow your church to come alongside and let’s see what happens. Change the way you think. Mindset matters. 

Don't Hold Back

I Kings 20:35-43 is an interesting account of a prophet. “And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow at the command of the Lord, ‘Strike me, please.’ But the man refused to strike him. Then he said to him, ‘Because you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as you have gone from me, a lion shall strike you down.’ And as soon as he had departed from him, a lion met him and struck him down. Then he found another man and said, ‘Strike me, please.’ And the man struck him—struck him and wounded him. So the prophet departed and waited for the king by the way, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. And as the king passed, he cried to the king…” This seems like a weird story, right? But I want to make it clear for you. The Bible has a message in this for us. If you don’t do what God has called you to do, He will find someone else to do it. My biggest fear is God might find someone else to do what He has called me to do. I don’t want to miss the blessing God has for me! God tells us, “Do not harden your heart the day you hear my voice.” We need to make time to spend with God in prayer and reading His word, to tune our hearing to His voice. I am talking about accessing the presence of God. Systematic disobedience will result in Him finding someone else to do what He called you to do. 

When the first man refuses, the prophet goes to another man and he hits the prophet so hard, he actually wounds him. (Maybe he saw what happened to the first man.) Now that the prophet was wounded, he waited for the king to come, knowing that the king would listen to what he had to say because he was wounded. In other words, “My wound will qualify me to be heard.” So many of us are trying to dodge things. Do you do everything in your power to avoid suffering and pain, challenges and difficulties? And when you do experience these things, you try to hide them because you think it disqualifies you. Look at this truth - it is your wound that will cause the king to stop. It is your pain and suffering that makes your words carry weight. Intelligence and beauty do not qualify you. But it is the stuff you’ve been through that qualifies you to be heard. 

The enemy wants you to think you are disqualified. However, when God heals you, He leaves the medicine inside of you to heal someone else. You are a walking pharmacy! You can offer healing to other people with your words. Testify! God will heal your wound but He will not make your scar disappear. Your scar is your testimony. Be willing to be identified by your scars, like Jesus. We show our faith by what we have been through. Quit sitting on the bench and rehearsing the wounds. God heals you and makes you whole but He leaves the scar. God never wastes pain. If you cover the scar, you will feel victimized. But when you are honest and show your scar, others realize they can get through their stuff because you got through your stuff. You can turn misery into ministry and pain into praise. Be honest with God. Give Him your wounds. Allow Him to heal you. Then use your healing to help heal others.

We tend to think when bad things happen, that the devil has stolen control of our lives. But God never sleeps or slumbers. It was God’s will for this prophet to be wounded and to carry this scar on his face. What do you do when God orders challenges? Learn to be content. Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered. God will use these things for His glory. We go through difficulties and storms, but they don’t stay. If you get so preoccupied that you keep talking about the storm and reliving it, you will lose your joy. Rejoice and be glad. We’ve all been through stuff. Get in the truck, put it in gear and drive into your destiny. You are not disabled because of your challenges and difficulties. Look at the full circumference of your life. Don’t pull one segment of your life out and focus on that. Start ministering to people from right where you are but in consideration of all that you are, and stop believing the lie that you can’t serve because of your scars. 

Yes, you’ve been wounded. But you also need to know the truth of God’s word. Many continue in sin because of what they have been through. Romans 6 is a powerful chapter. What shall we say, shall we go on sinning? By no means! We have died to sin. How can we live any longer in it? When Christ sets you free from sin, you are free. Salvation is only the first step of your walk with Jesus. You’ve got to move past this first step. Otherwise, the devil is right there to rob you of your joy. The flesh has to die. No one, the church or anyone else, can fix your flesh. (“Still struggling” is Christian for “still doing it.”) Your flesh has to go to the cross so you can become what God has called you to be. Sin is the fruit of iniquity. You can deal with the sin but it will keep coming up if the iniquity is not dealt with. Ask God to deal with your iniquity. Jesus was bruised (bled on the inside) for our iniquity. That tree of iniquity that bears the fruit of sin has to be cut down and uprooted. If iniquity is not dealt with, living the Christian life will exhaust you because you’re trying to do it in your flesh. You will continue to struggle. 

Colossians 3:3 is my final point. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Your life is now hidden in Christ and the devil cannot find you when you are hidden in Christ! He can’t find you to buffet you and tempt you. Only what you hold onto can Satan use to hit you. Learn to let it go. Be hidden in Christ. It’s God’s heart that you be free. And if you are set free in Christ, you are free indeed. Go to God and ask Him to remove anything in you that you should not be hanging onto. It is what we are hanging onto that makes us unstable, up and down in our walk with Christ. Be rooted, hidden in Christ. Go to God and ask Him to deal with your iniquity. It is not enough to just be in church, even if you are serving and giving. Listen to God and respond in obedience. Don’t let iniquity become seared into your heart. Surrender it today. No holding back. 

Hard Changes

We are talking about mindset in this series. What we think about is essential to what our lives become. Our choices impact our behavior and our situations. Changing our mindset means changing what we are thinking about. To help you with that, text ‘godspromises’ to 689-214-5554. As you meditate on these things that God has in His mind for you, you will get hold of them in YOUR mind for you.

Choose to feed your mind daily with the best thoughts. Resolve to free your mind from destructive thoughts. Feed your faith and starve your doubts. “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit” (Romans 8:5) 

You have got to fight to free your mind. Focus every day. Focus on what matters the most. How do you make your mind mind, especially when your thoughts often disobey you. Do you find, for example, that when you want to read your Bible or pray, your mind drifts away? Or do you spend a chunk of time worrying about something that never happens? Defeat in life comes when we don't know how to fight the battle of the mind. 

One battle of the mind is with temptation. When temptation comes, it follows a process described in James 1:14. Desires entice us and drag us away. Temptation starts in desire. 

Desires are not inherently evil. They are usually natural desires that are a part of life. They are God-given. There is nothing wrong with a desire for food or sleep for instance, but if desire grows beyond control, it becomes destructive.

Doubt follows desire that has gone rogue. Doubt in what God says, the truth we find in His word, leads us further into the temptation process. Maybe we decide that He doesn’t really mean what He has said about a certain topic. We doubt the truth and give way to deception. 

As a person doubts God’s word and what He has to say about the area we are struggling in, we begin to settle for lies. These may be justification for the uncontrolled desire or they may be a lie about not really having a choice in the matter. Maybe it is a lie about how others will feel if we don’t participate with them. Remember too, we have an enemy and Satan will use just the right bait to draw us in. He always has a hook that will snag us.

Disobedience is the step after doubt. Scripture says that the truth will set us free. If we depart from truth and yield to deception, we will lose our way. Disobedience to the truth causes departure from healthy, life-giving behavior and good choices will be forfeited for behavior that brings defeat. 

As defeat becomes reality, we are in full-fledged sin which leads to death. Attraction leads to action and that's where the problem lies. Whatever you flirt with you will fall for and the end result is death. Death does not mean you quit breathing necessarily, but it definitely means you are not living the life God has in mind for you. You are not making choices that satisfy your soul and birth abundance into your life. 

Make up your mind to obey - no matter what (Ps 119:112).  Have you made that decision? You become what you think about the most. What you think about the longest becomes the strongest focus of your mind. Heavenly minded people tend to be of more earthly good. A lot of us are too earthly minded to be of any heavenly good.

 

So, why are certain behaviors, that are not doing you any good, hard to change?

 

  1. There are thought patterns you've had for a long time. Some are survival tactics you developed as a child. They may be thought processes that don't really work well, that are obviously harmful to you and others, but they are like old friends. 
  2. Some are perceived identity. An example would be “I'm a workaholic.” Or “I will always be overweight.” Those defects are not your true identity. Your identity is in Christ and it is what He says about you and what He has authored in you, that is the truth. However, what you expect with confidence will become your self-fulfilling prophecy. Listen to your self-talk and what you say about yourself. It can be very revealing.
  3. There is a payoff - emotional, relational, physical… You're “rewarded” for that bad habit and whatever gets rewarded, gets repeated. Ask yourself what the payoff is from a thought process you're trying to change. Your thinking leads to behavior and behavior is reinforced when it “works for you”. A good example is a mother calling family down for dinner. She tries nicely several times even adding that the food will be cold if they don’t come eat. Finally, she yells and that is the behavior that gets results. The reward is that when she yells, the family comes to dinner. Another way to say it is that we get our way when we act out. If you can't get approval, you'll get attention.
  4. Satan wants to keep you stuck. It is his constant goal to keep you from reaching your God-given potential. He is the accuser of the brethren. He can't control your mind but he can drop negative, accusing thoughts into your mind.

Change starts with choices. What are you choosing to think about? Since you've heard about Jesus, throw off the sinful nature let the spirit work (Ephesians 4:21 27). Join me next week to learn how to make lasting changes. Meanwhile, don’t forget to download the Promises Over Problems ebook by texting godspromises to 689-214-5554.

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