The season of New Year’s resolutions is upon us! Most people are thinking about their goals for a new year and prepping and planning for those to start at the beginning of January. I know I am! I’ll be focusing on my health (which includes weight loss) and parenting in 2018. Everyone starts out motivated and hopeful that they will achieve the big dreams that they have for themselves, but somewhere around week 3 or month 3 people begin to fall off... The gyms go back to their dedicated few and those books you said you would read become end table accessories. Why does this happen? Why do we get so pumped up and then fall flat on our face?
I believe this happens because we are fueled by will power alone. In order to truly see life change in any aspect of our lives, we MUST see a shift in our thinking and thought processes.
Willpower can only take you so far. It’s like throwing gasoline on a fire, it burns with excitement for a short period of time and then dies down. The remedy to pursuing any lifestyle change that will stick is to change how you view what you are trying to start or stop. I’ll give you an example from my life.
I want to lose 40 lbs this year! If this is fueled simply by a desire to be “happy,” I won’t get very far. This feels counter intuitive because I DON’T feel happy since I’m not eating (and enjoying) pizza and chips!
However, when I realize that I actually have an unhealthy relationship with food; it changes my motivation and thought patterns. When I realize that to me, eating is an addiction and I rely on this for comfort instead of God; it changes my motivation and thought patterns.
The funny thing is that the same is true for our spiritual lives. When sin approaches us and beckons us to come and play, we can only resist and be fueled by will power for so long. Our enemy is counting on us being fueled by will power. He knows it isn’t sustainable. In order to gain victory over any type of sin, we must change the way we view our sin. This is what repentance is! It is completely changing the way we view the sin in our lives.
In Romans 12, Paul says this:
Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.
When our thoughts are not influenced by the Holy Spirit, it is not likely that we will be able to make strides towards moving away from the sin in our lives. When we allow and invite the Holy Spirit to rewire our brains, we shift from viewing sin as something that is justifiable to something that is detestable in the eyes of God! Our motives are no longer “I don’t want to feel bad about doing this anymore so I will stop.” They move to towards “My sin grieves the heart of God and I want nothing to do with this!”
So as you embark on starting things or stopping things, remember that without changing your thought patterns and process, what you are striving for will be difficult to achieve.
I would encourage you to start each day by praying a prayer similar to this:
God, I desire to see change in my life. I know you have plans for my life and I desire to see those come to pass. I believe that _____________ is holding my back from those plans. I want to change the way I view ___________. Holy Spirit, would you begin to rewire the way my brain processes ___________. Change my thought patterns. Renew my mind. Empower me to take steps towards being the person you have created me to be!
You can download a PDF of this prayer here. Print it out and tape it somewhere you will see it everyday. This would be a great prayer to pray as you get ready in the morning.
Stay encouraged! Your dreams and desires can come to pass! Do not be discouraged when you slip up now and then. This will happen. The important thing is that you strive for progress instead of perfection. When you get off track, realign your heart with God’s heart. Our team at Living Water Church is praying that 2018 will be a great year for you!
-Pastor Chris Cerna