Habits for Spiritual Growth - Part 7: Continue

Habits for Spiritual Growth
Part 7
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
November 6th, 2016
Image courtesy of Rawich at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Habits for Spiritual Growth - Part 7
Today we wrap up our series on Habits for Spiritual Growth.
And before we get started, let’s review what we have covered so far.

4 Stages of Change: Belief, Commitment, Change, Continue

Stage 1. Belief (John 3:16)
a. Belief in the Power of Something
                b. Belief that Change is Needed
                c. Belief that Change Can Happen

The result of the stage of belief is that we end up with a goal.
Goal: to have Prayer, Scripture and serving become habits in our lives…

Stage 2. Commitment (Romans 10:9)
a. Motivation (Push, Pull, Carry)
b. Method
c. Metric

The result of this stage is action…we actually put into place our method and we start…

Stage 3. Change (2 Corinthians 3:18)
a. Understand
Change is not on us, But commitment
through change is.
b. Obstacles
There will be hurdles and Obstacles
But that doesn’t mean we have failed
c. Mentor
We need a mentor who was successful in
Reaching their goal AND who overcame
Obstacles and hurdles to be a model for us.

The result of the stage of change is success in reaching our goal.

And this brings us to our last stage of continue…

Stage 4. Continue

I Timothy 6:11-12
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

This scripture tells us to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  That is to say, pursue these things as a way of life…Not just momentary battles and not just when it suits us.

And this is what this series is all about and it is really what we are after, a new way of life.  And that is what the stage of change sets up for us.  The stage of change has created new habits and new change in our lives, but now we want to make sure we continue in that change as a way of life.  So, the question becomes, what do we do in order to make these changes stick so that they do become a way of life?

The first thing we must do, is resist the temptation to reward ourselves…

Often when we reach any of our goal we will allow ourselves to indulge in the old lifestyle as a reward…but the thing is that this reward is not a reward, it is a setback.

For instance, when a person goes on a diet and reaches their goal weight, one of the first things they are tempted to do is go out and have a big unhealthy but indulgent dinner as a reward.  But the thing is, this is not a reward it is a setback.

We need to think of our old habits as dangerous to us as a drink is to a recovering alcoholic.  You would never encourage an alcoholic to reward themselves for doing so well, by having a drink.  Drinking is what got them in trouble in the first place.  And our old habits is what caused us to need change in the first place, so we need to see them as setbacks, not rewards.

2 Timothy 2:22
Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

I Thessalonians 5:21-22
hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

These scriptures does not say…Hey every now and then…give yourself a break and go have some fun.  Instead they warn us to run from our old ways.

So what do we do?  How do we avoid giving into wanting to reward ourselves with bad habits?

We do it by reaching back into our toolbox.  Our toolbox carries things from our previous stages.  In it are our beliefs, our motivations, our mentors, our method…etc.  So, when we are tempted we need to  reach back into our toolbox and revisit those things in order to help us resist the temptation..

These Stages Repeat
The next thing we need to know, is that when we reach the stage of continue, we aren’t done.
These 4 stages are going to continue to repeat themselves in our lives over and over.

And what I mean by this is that as we are continuing to live in our new way of life, we will learn new things. For instance, let’s take our diet example.  When we first start, maybe we go on a low carb diet.  But as we are losing weight and continuing the diet, we learn what foods are good for a low carb diet and what foods aren’t. And so as we find this new information, it will lead to new beliefs about what we should eat, these new beliefs should lead to new commitments (i.e. to cut out even more food or to allow some that we had cut out), this new commitment will lead to even more change, and of course   the new change will result on tweaking our new lifestyle.

Okay so…here is where we are at.

If we adopt a lifestyle that denies ourselves “rewards,” 
And if we continue to grow in the change that we have…a new way of life,
Then all of this will lead to a new identity.

And that is what this 4 stage method is all about:
change in our lives that brink about a new identity…

New Identity
Before we go any further I want to ask the question…

If God is so powerful and He loves us so much, why doesn't he just instantly restore us, instantly give us a new life, without making us go through the difficult stage of change?
Here is what I believe the the reason is. The stage of change (all of the hard work) not only changes what we do, but it also changes us as a person... It changes our identity…

Romans 6:6-7
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Our scripture here in Romans tells us that our old self was crucified with him and that we are no longer slave.  So now that we are no longer slaves, it’s time for us to no longer have the mindset of a slave.  In other words, we need our identity to change as well.

And so the final thing we must do, in our 4th stage of change…is we must accept our new identity...we must accept it and we must own it.

When I first became a pastor, I had a hard time introducing myself as pastor because I hadn’t fully accepted my new identity.  But over time, it became easier, and that is because I began to embrace my new identity as a Pastor.

And to complete our change we must fully accept and embrace our new identity.  What do I mean by a new identity? I mean we no longer identify with our old ways and old habits. Instead, we begin to identify with the new.

In terms of the three habits we have been talking about, it’s a new identity of being a person who prays constantly.

It’s a new identity of being a person who puts more importance on studying scripture than keeping up with the Kardashians.

It is a new identity of being a person who serves others before we serve ourselves.
It is a new identity of being a person, who has drawn close to God, and who God draws close to.
It is a new identity that takes us from being the person who desperately wishes for God’s blessings, to one who lives in His blessings.

If we haven’t yet accepted our new Identities, then it’s time we give in, give up, and give our lives over to Christ…for Him to change us, to give us a new identity, new desires, and for the Holy Spirit to start producing Spiritual fruit in our lives.

So here we are in our final stage of Continue and what we must do now is remember:
1. Reward, is not a Reward, it is a setback.
2. We aren’t done yet, these 4 stages will continue as a cycle…
3. And finally, we MUST accept and live in our new identity…

Are you a new Person, or do you Still need Change?



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