Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Changing By Grace

Great article on how to change by Paul Tripp
The Bible is all about the grace of change. It’s a story of new beginnings and fresh starts. The Bible holds before us that hope that we can change, and in so doing, act and speak in new and better ways. And although the Bible clearly presents that change generally is a process and not an event, it does call us to do all that we can do to participate in God’s work of change.
So here’s the question you need to ask yourself today: “What can I do to participate in God’s agenda of change for my life?” That’s what today’s article is all about. I want to lay out a series of 10 steps that will move you in the direction of personal change.
1. Don’t give way to regret.
It’s so easy to meditate on the long list of your past mistakes. But your Lord knows that growth is a process. He won’t turn His back on you because you’ve failed. Remember this: God not only forgives your mistakes; He empowers you to not make them again.
2. Embrace gospel hope.
You need to remember that you have been gifted with grace that is more powerful than all of your sins. On the cross, the power of sin over you was broken, and although the presence of sin still remains, you don’t have to live under its domination. Your Lord is with you, working to free you from sin’s addiction and to change you into His image.
3. Examine your fruit.
What kind of fruit does your lifestyle produce? What have your decisions harvested this past week?
Good Fruit: encouragement; hope; love; forgiveness; reconciliation; peace
Bad Fruit: discouragement; division; condemnation; bitterness; foolishness
Examine your harvest honestly; it will tell you a lot about where you need to change.
4. Expose your roots.
It’s not enough just to examine your harvest; you must expose your roots. We need to humbly admit that our bad fruit is connected to bad thoughts, attitudes, desires, and motivations in our heart. Don’t settle for superficial behavioral modification; you need to go after the heart of the problem – your heart.
5. Seek forgiveness.
It’s only when we humbly ask for forgiveness that we quit excusing, quit rationalizing, and quit justifying ourselves. You see, when you do that, you’ve provided self-atonement, and because of that, you don’t go and seek the forgiveness of God and others, and you abort His work in your life. When was the last time you self-atoned for yourself with a statement like:
“I wasn’t angry; I was just trying to emphasize my point.”
“She has the unique ability to drive me crazy.”
“I wasn’t feeling well, so I wasn’t myself when I spoke.”
“I was just having one of those days.”
Jesus provided all the atonement you needed at the Cross. Stop trying to provide it yourself.
6. Change the rules.
Lasting change is the result of a commitment to a new and better way. You need to ask yourself:
“What old patterns is God calling me to replace?”
“What will the new way look like?”
“Where are places where you will be tempted to go back to the old way?”
“Where will change be hard and demand perseverance?”
“Who are the people in your life that you can invite to hold accountable?”
7. Look for real opportunities.
So much of real change starts with a change of perspective. Instead of looking at those difficult and tough moments as obstacles to change, see them as God-given opportunities to experience God’s grace and to step out in a better direction.
8. Choose your words and actions.
Determine to be intentional, rather than reactive. Determine to think before you speak, and pray before you think. Change is all about choosing your words and actions wisely, and God will give you the grace to choose.
9. Confess your weakness.
Our problem is not that we’re weak; God delights in meeting us in our weakness with His powerful grace. We don’t change because we have delusions of personal strength and holiness.
10. Don’t give the devil an opportunity.
Learn to locate where you are most susceptible to temptation. Learn to watch for his tricks and prepare yourself.
You don’t have to be discouraged. There are steps of change, and in every step, God will make Himself and His grace known to you. God will not call you to do something without giving you the wherewithal to do it. There really is a way to get from where you are to where God has made it possible for you to be. Change is possible.
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