A changed heart comes from God

Ever wonder why it’s so hard to stick to a resolution? Or maybe you don’t struggle with that. Most people I know have a difficult time with resolutions, though. Oh, they’re easy enough to make, but keeping them is another story.

Is there a reason for it? Well, there’s a reason for most everything that happens in our lives, and it isn’t always that we’re not trying hard enough or that we’re not sincere. I can tell you that I’ve made some very sincere resolutions before that have fallen through. And I’ve worked my tail off to keep a resolution before too, but that hasn’t always made a difference.

So what is it that makes the difference between keeping a resolution and falling off the wagon?

love-heart-hand-romanticToday’s verses are Romans 2:28-29.

For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.

The people I know who keep their resolutions or achieve their goals most frequently have a mindset that is in line with their resolutions. Their heart is aligned with what they want to accomplish.

Maybe this is a bad example, but you can’t lose weight if you aren’t dedicated to the process of losing weight. Being healthy and living healthy takes time and effort and hard work, and if you’re doing it right, you won’t see results overnight. You have to stick to it. You have to keep going, even on the days when you don’t feel like it. And if your heart isn’t in it, you’ll eventually fail.

What about not being late? That’s a good resolution. Say you resolve that you won’t be late to meetings anymore. That’s great! But being on time for a meeting means you have to get organized. You have to get things done, which means you can’t dawdle or daydream or waste time. You have to prioritize, and prioritizing takes hard work and sacrifice. You have to be willing to let some things slip in order to achieve the things you want to achieve.

If you want to keep your resolutions, you have to have a heart that lines up with what you’re trying to accomplish. Your heart has to change before your behavior can change. Many times our culture gets that messed up. We try to change our behavior in hopes that our attitudes will improve, but it doesn’t work that way. The attitude comes first, and then the behavior will straighten out.

The fact remains that God is the only one capable of changing the human heart. He can give us new dreams and healthy desires, but we have to put Him first in our lives. That’s not always easy, but it is always worth it.

So how’s your attitude today? Is it sour? Bitter? Resentful? Jealous? It might be angry or frustrated. It might be hurt or bruised. It might be self-focused and petty. We’ve all been there, friend, but none of us have to stay there.

Spend some time getting to know the Lord. Read the Bible, and talk to God about what’s bothering you. Take steps to put Him first in your life and see what happens. You’ll find that when your only concern is pleasing Him, the rest of your priorities will fall neatly into place. No, that doesn’t mean life will be easy, but it will get a lot clearer. And that’s more than half the battle as far as I’m concerned.

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A lamp post at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Uncharted territory is rarely predictable

The beginning of a new year is always an interesting time because everyone is thinking about the future. Everyone is making plans for how this year will be different than last year or how they’re going to improve themselves or their lives. And it’s absolutely a good thing for people to look into how to better themselves. Resolutions are great things, especially if you can keep them. But have you ever been in a position where God is leading you to do something you’ve never done before?

We all get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a new year, the making of resolutions, the struggle to keep our resolutions, the disappointment when we drop our resolutions. Everyone has experienced that. But what about God? Not that God makes new year’s resolutions, but if He did, what would they look like?

A lamp post at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

A lamp post at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Today’s verse is Isaiah 43:19.

For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

One thing I love about God is that He’s always up to something. He’s always got something going on. Life with God is never ever boring, and those of us who truly follow Christ understand what the Bible means when Jesus tells us that He came to bring us life more abundant. Life following Christ is always exciting.

What God is referencing in this verse through the Prophet Isaiah is the coming of Christ to save His people. That was something that had never happened before. That was something people had never seen before. And the way He promised to send Christ was impossible, but He explained how it was going to happen centuries and centuries before Christ was born. He gave people a head’s up so they could get on board with what God had planned before it happened.

I think God does that for us today. I think sometimes He hollers down at us and is just waiting for someone to pay attention long enough to see Him waving. God has plans. He has lots and lots of plans, and He’s just looking for someone to step up and offer to do what needs doing. His plans don’t always make sense to us, and even when He makes “paths in the wilderness” for us to follow, they don’t always seem like they go anywhere. But if you’re one of the people who agreed to do what God asked and you find yourself feeling lost, remember that God may be doing something new in your life.

What does it mean to do something new? It means that it’s nothing anyone has ever seen before. So if it’s nothing anyone has ever seen, if it’s a path that no one has ever traveled before, why do you expect to know where you’re going? How can you think you will know what to expect? It’s uncharted territory. The only person who really knows what’s coming is God. He’s the map maker, after all.

So if you’re one of those people who has decided to chase after God wholeheartedly, to live for Him, to “sacrifice” everything else you could be doing with your life, remember in the dark moments that you’re not going to be able to see the end of your road all the time. Navigating God’s plan isn’t like navigating in Kansas, where you can see 20 miles in front of you. It’s more like trying to get around in London or Edinburgh or one of those ancient cities where you’re fortunate to be able to see your next step because the roads are so narrow and the buildings are so close. And because you can’t always see where you’re going, that just means you have to trust your navigation system.

What’s great about God is that He doesn’t leave us to navigate alone. We have the Bible. We have the Holy Spirit. And if you’ve decided to follow the path God has marked out for you, you have everything you need to find your way. You may not be able to see where you’re going, but sight has never been essential when it comes to following God.

It’s not that far into 2014 yet, and some people may already be ready to give up on their resolutions because change feels impossible or too uncontrollable. Be encouraged this morning. Don’t give up, especially if it’s something you know God has called you to do. You won’t always be able to see your next step, but if it’s something God has called you to do, He won’t let you fall.

Resolution

So, I’m not very good at New Year’s Resolutions. I never have been and have honestly always thought them kind of silly. If you need to make a change in your life or in your habits, why wait until a new year starts? Start the moment you realize the need for a change. Anything else is procrastination.

Well . . . this is me working on a New Year’s Resolution right now. Maybe it’s hypocritical . . . or maybe it just worked out that starting this happened to coincide with the new year. I’m going to attempt to put a post on here every morning (M-F) before I go to work, both as an effort to continue to work on my writing skills and also because it’s probably good for me. =) I may not make every morning, but–hey, I made it today! The one thing that might keep me from doing this is getting up earlier than normal; that’s hard but I think it’ll be worth it. (Although my office is freezing at this time in the morning . . . . that could be a negative factor too! LOL)

I’m going to include BibleGateway’s verse of the day in my ramblings too, since that’s usually what I do my devotions around. Whoever puts their verses up must plan for the time of year too, becuase during Christmas they were all verses out of Luke 2 and today’s is very appropriate for the start of a new year:

Titus 2:11-12
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God,

Sounds like a good verse for starting a new year, huh? It would be quite an interesting thing if believers did this. What if our resolutions for a new year included less dieting and more focusing on the truth of these two verses? To live with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God would be a healthier resolution than Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, that’s for sure. Not saying losing weight is bad; I totally put on some pounds that need to come off. But everyone always makes such a big deal out of losing weight as a New Year’s resolution and by February usually most people have given up.

I feel like if you’re going to make a resolution, you should be resolved about it. Why else would we call it a resolution? It’s all about making up your mind. 

So, I am resolved to live with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God this year. I am also resolved to write about it . . . and losing a few pounds wouldn’t hurt either.