Habits for Spiritual Growth - Part 6: Change

Habits for Spiritual Growth
Part 6
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
October 30th, 2016
Image courtesy of Rawich at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Listen to full sermon here.

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Habits for Spiritual Growth - Part 6
The method we have been talking about to get these habits started and keep them in our lives is a 4-Stage method that is based on the stages we go through when we become Christians: Belief, Commitment, Change, and Continue.

A few weeks ago, we started talking about the four stages in detail and we started with belief.  In terms of our habits, we believe that prayer, scripture and serving have incredible power to change our lives.  And we believe that our lives need change. So because of these beliefs, we now have the goal of making Prayer, Scripture and Serving Others and Serving God a part of our life.  

This leads us to the stage of commitment, a commitment to adding these things to our life.  And what we learned about commitment things we need know before we get started. And the first we want to think about is our motivation.  Why don’t we want life to stay the same, Why do we want these habits in our lives, and who else does it affect when our lives change?

Then we need to choose a method.  Our method will be the path we take to reach our goals.  That is to say the specific plan of action that we will be taking. For instance, if we have decided that we want to diet and exercise, this step would be deciding which diet plan we want to commit to.

And the final thing we need to know before we commit is our metric.  We need to know how we are going to measure our success or failure.   This is also an important step, because we need to know if our method is working.  If it is not working, then we need to back up a commit to a different method.  Our metric for diet and exercise might be weight or blood pressure and our metric for adding in these habits to our lives might be seeing more fruits of the spirit in our lives and less works of the flesh.

The result of the stage of commitment is action.  We put into place our method and we start down the path, doing what we need to do to reach our goals.  And once we begin doing these things, then this is what creates change in our lives, and this is leads us to our third stage: Change.

2 Corinthians 3:18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory

This is what happens to us as we become Christians.  As God continues His good works in us, we are being transformed into image and glory of our Lord.

Understanding Change.
Last week we talked about commitment and commitment is important to us, because it is this commitment that is going to help us make it through the difficult stage of change.  And here is why…

Change is not on us (it is not our responsibility).  In fact it’s not even in our power.  We do not have the power to change ourselves…

Loss of weight (the actual melting of fat), growing closer to God, an attitude changing.  These are things that we cannot do on our own, instead we must rely on the power of something else to create these changes in our lives.

Commitment, however, is our responsibility and is on us

In other words, we are not creating the change, we are just committed to those things that brings change.  We are committed to a diet, we are committed to Jesus, we are committed to these habits and those are the things that are going to bring change in our lives.

Matthew 4:19
“Come, follow me,” He told them, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

Jesus is talking to Peter and Brother Andrew.  And what He is saying here is -come be my disciples.  Peter and Andrew would know that is a huge commitment.  This wouldn’t have been just a weekend of camping or helping out in their spare time.  They would be leaving their livelihood. And this is what commitment is all about - leaving something behind in order to start something new.

And so Peter and Andrew’s commitment would be to follow Jesus.  That was their part and their responsibility and changing them to be fishers of men, would be Jesus’ responsibility.  That was His part.

So change is not on us, commitment through change is on us.  Sounds easy enough right?  Except that as we go through the stage of change we will encounter stumbling blocks, hurdles and obstacles.  And we must be committed to finding ways around them, thru them or over them.

Obstacles and Hurdles
In terms of our 3 habits, consider the following…

James 1:2-3
2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

This is that feeling you have after you have just finished exercising.  While we are exercising, we experience pain and difficulty, but when it is over, we feel rejuvenated and energized.  And this is what this scripture is telling us we can feel like when we overcome hurdles and obstacles in our efforts to reach our goal of making prayer, scripture and serving a normal part of our lives.

just what are some of the stumbling blocks and hurdles that we might face?  The two biggest hurdles we will face in starting our new habits are time and distraction.  As soon as we try to get these habits started we will find we suddenly have no time for them.  Or as we get started we will find things that are competing for (and often winning) our attention.

What do we do when we face these obstacles?  We think back to our beliefs and motivations and remind ourselves why don’t we want to give up?  Why do we need to keep going?  Who are we going to let down, if we quit?

The final thing we need to think about in terms of change is having a mentor.  And there are two requirements for our mentors.  First, they must have been successful in reaching their goals and second they must have faced obstacles and hurdles.  And the reason is, because they are going to be our example of how we overcome our obstacles and hurdles.

As a side note, our mentor doesn’t actually have to know he is our mentor.  Or our mentor can be someone we know and they can know they are our mentor, which means they become one of our carry motivations, because we will be letting them down if we don’t reach the goals we have set.

This is one of the roles of Jesus Christ.  He is our example, He is our mentor for how we should live.  He is our example and our mentor of how we should face obstacles and hurdles.  Because Jesus faced many of the same hurdles that we face…

Jesus was tempted, we are tempted…
Jesus faced criticism, we as Christians face criticism
Jesus faced a world with little or no hope, we face world with little or no hope

Ultimately here is what we need to know as we enter into the stage of change…

1. Change is not on us but staying committed through the change is…
2. It’s going to be difficult, and we will face many hurdles and obstacles…but when we do, we need to reach into our toolbox of Belief, Motivation, and Method to help get us over, around and through those obstacles…
3. We need to find a mentor.  Someone who can be an example to us.  Someone who has faced hurdles, but has also been successful in reaching their goals….

Knowing these things and being prepared for them is the only way we will be successful in reaching our goals…

Are you ready for change?  Are you ready to face the challenges of change?  

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