What will change my life72

By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus

The question, “how do I change my life?” is really answered by WHO will change my life.  Jesus is the answer.  The only thing that brings true and lasting change into the life of any person is the saving grace of Jesus Christ, first in salvation (positional justification) and then in sanctification (practical application).  God made us to live in communion with Him, in perfect harmony with His will and ways and with our thoughts and actions directed by His Holy Spirit.  Of course we know that changed in the Garden when Adam sinned, but God in His love and mercy sent Jesus.  Jesus IS the answer for real change.

We just celebrated the remembrance of Jesus’ birth and now we have entered into the New Year.  This is the perfect time to make two New Year’s resolutions: 1)  to spend more time with God in prayer and 2) to in read and study His Word.

New Year’s Resolutions?

You’re probably thinking…”but New Year’s Resolutions don’t work!”  Statistics like this support that statement:

Studies reveal that 25% of New Year’s resolutions are broken by the end of January, [1] and the likelihood of keeping a resolution throughout the year is very bleak. It’s estimated that 88 percent of New Year’s resolutions will have been broken by the year’s end. [2]

So why set a New Year’s resolution to read and study the Bible more?  Because when we do so…

We have a Helper who will challenge us to stick with it.

We have a Helper who will give us the strength to keep our resolution; and

We have a Helper who will teach us God’s Word.

The Helper, of course, is the Holy Spirit.  Jesus promised to send Him to us and that He  would teach us all things.

John 14:26  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

The Bible is the only book that, when we read it, the Author is present with us—to teach us and to help us understand.  Ask the Author questions as you read, and be ready to hear Him “speak” from the pages of His book.

So why set a New Year’s resolution to pray more?  Because prayer is a restoration of our communion with God and it will facilitate a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him.  We cannot begin to understand the communion with God that Adam and Eve enjoyed prior to their sin.  Jesus’ gift of salvation has given us both the forgiveness of our sin (Ephesians 1:7) and His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) that makes us worthy to come before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) and to talk with God.  Through prayer we enter more closely into the presence of our amazing, gracious God, our Father in Heaven.  Remembering that creates in us a desire to spend more time with the Lord talking to Him in prayer.

Spending time with God in prayer and reading and studying His word is the best way to  establish our hearts in His love and grace (Hebrews 13:9b); and, with a heart devoted to Him, our lives will change.

Our Lives Move in the Direction of our Most Dominant Thoughts  

The things that we “feed” into minds will fuel our hearts and direct our words and actions. All too often we forget the things we should remember and we remember the things we should forget.  What we should remember is JESUS!  What we should fill our minds with are thoughts about Him, His will, His ways and His teachings.

Sanctification (growing in holiness) begins with 1) rightly remembering who Jesus is, 2) what He has done for us and 3) who we are in Him. When we forget any part of those three things, we are prone to wander, to turn inward, and to likely fail and fall.  God in His mercy and grace has already given us everything we need:

God has given us liberty from sin, sight to see and ears to hear. (Luke 4:18)

God has given us eternal life and unity with Him. (John 17:3, 23)

God has given us His Holy Spirit. (John 14:16, 16:7)

God has given us His love (John 17:26, 1 John 3:1)

God has given us His joy, peace and hope (Romans 15:13)

God has given us His Word and His mission. (John 17:8, 18)

God has given us the promise of glory to come. (John 17:22)

Do we really believe that we’ve been given all those things?  Of course we do!  The real question in daily living is less about whether we believe those things, but whether we remember them and if it is reflected in our lives.

In my book Why the Butterfly? Rightly Remembering Jesus I wrote about rightly remembering.  The book includes a section on remembering who we are in Christ.  One of the best places to learn about our identity in Christ and remember all the riches we have been given is in the Book of Ephesians.  We are told in the first three chapters what it means to live in newness of life, regenerated by Jesus.

We are are: blessed (Eph 1:3), chosen (Eph 1:4), holy and blameless (Eph 1:4), predestined (Eph 1:5, 11), given, redeemed (Eph 1:7), forgiven (Eph 1:7), enlightened (Eph 1:18), quickened/made alive (Eph 2:5), saved (Eph 2:5, 8), raised up (Eph 2:6) and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Eph 1:13).

When you read these verses, remember that God doesn’t say you will be blessed, but rather that you have been blessed. He doesn’t say, you will be chosen if you do something, but that you already are chosen. God doesn’t say, you will be made alive if you do the right thing, but that you already have been made alive.  Every designation of who you are in Christ is spoken of in the past tense because it has already taken place. God gave you this identity when He saved you.  [3]

“It is Finished”

We live in the finished work of Jesus Christ.  Because we are “in Him,” His finished work has been credited to our account and we have received all the gifts listed above.  We truly have everything we need.  When we remember that, we are free to give everything we have.  Remembering what we have been given, and to whom we belong, will direct our thoughts and actions to make better choices in daily life and to more graciously and lovingly serve others.

Make a choice today to remember better.  Set a resolution to read the Bible and pray more.  When we read the Bible, God speaks to us.  When we pray, we speak to God.  We are to enter into that holy communion with God, trusting that the Holy Spirit will empower us to faithfully choose to love and serve the One who has given us everything.

Here goes….our beginning-of-the-year pitch for daily Bible reading:

Make a resolution to read the Bible daily!  And, remember, you have a Helper who will encourage and teach you.  If you read 3 1/2 chapters of the Bible each day, you will read through the Bible in one year.  You would not go a day without food.  So, do not go a day without your “daily Bread.”  Reading the Bible will grow your faith and fuel you to pray more and to serve Christ in God-honoring ways.

Where should you start?  You can start anywhere (suggestions here).  Jesus is on every page of the Bible.  Keep your eyes open and look for Him—the volume of the Book is written of Him (Psalm 40:7) and all the Scriptures expound things about Him (Luke 24:27)

Your word is a lamp to my feet 

And a light to my path….

Revive me, O LORD, 

according to Your word. 

(Psalm 119:105, 107)

 

[1]  Tom Connellan, The 1 Percent Solution: How to Make Your Next 30 Days the Best Ever” Peak Performance Press, 2011

[2] Ibid.

[3] Shari Abbott, Why the Butterfly?  A Book About Rightly Remembering Jesus, pg. 76-77 available at the Reasons for Hope* Jesus store.  Preview the book here.

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