22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)
This morning as I read my devotional, off to the side was a quote by Pastor John C. Maxwell which stated the following.
“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”
(I will note that in researching this quote, other names came up suggesting different people who either used the quote or were the author of it.)
This devotional and this quote ministered to me. We want to see change in our world, in our workplace, in our schools, in our homes and lives, and see good results, but we don’t want to change what we are doing. Or we may change some things, but still hold onto certain things that need to be let go of or removed from our lives be it temporarily or permanently. These are the things that could free us from our bondage IF we would simply let them go and turn them over to Jesus. Many times we know what needs to be removed, but we procrastinate and think “Now is not a good time. It’s not that big of a deal. I’ll do it later.” All the while wondering why there is never any improvement in ourselves or situations. But the problem is, we never get to it. We hold onto it like a prized possession or something of great value, but in reality, it’s something that hinders our walk and prohibits us from getting even closer to God. Sometimes it’s simply something small that removes our thoughts from God because we focus more or worry more about that one thing than our time with God. This is how the enemy steals the glory we are to give to God. He knows we would not out rightly glorify him (the enemy), so he must steal it. And the only way he can do it is by fixing our sights on something that either we enjoy excessively or something that causes us worry and fear. Romans 13:14 states:
14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
We must make every effort to conquer our flesh and we can only do this by taking action with God’s Word and doing what it tells us to do. We cannot see good results or the fruits of our labor if we take no action. In other words, if we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always gotten. Simply having head knowledge of God’s Word isn’t enough. There are many who have head knowledge but fail to put it to good use. It does us no good to research, study and memorize, if we have no intention of utilizing what we learn. Recently, I had to make changes in my diet in order to lose some weight. I knew I had to do this, and I had made some good changes and incorporated exercise prior, but it wasn’t enough to cause me to lose the weight. I researched, read and educated myself. Yet, until I took action and made the effort to apply what I learned, I saw no results, even with the good changes I had already made. As we grow older, our bodies change and there are things we may not be able to tolerate like we used to and probably shouldn’t have tolerated at times. Mine happen to be carbohydrates as I got older. Though I cut many of them out of my diet (leaving the good ones!), and though I made good, healthy changes to the one I kept (homemade bread utilizing spelt flour which is easier to digest and using less ingredients than store bought bread), I consumed more than I should which led to me feeling poorly and being unable to lose the weight. So, I temporarily removed it (meaning when I do add it back in, it will be once or twice a week in small portions) and added more healthy protein, fruits and vegetables. I also began monitoring calories, fat and carbs. By making these two small changes, It was what was needed to begin losing weight again. Was it difficult? Not really, but truth be told, I didn’t want to make the change. I love bread (and pasta!) and it’s a comfort to me. But if we consume or do things only because it’s a comfort or a security blanket for us, then it’s something we may be too attached to and the Bible states we are not to become attached to anything on this earth.
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
Bread isn’t bad, but anything in abundance can be harmful if not utilizing self-control. Then there are things that are just not good for us and we must remove from our lives permanently. My problem was a flesh problem. It was something I enjoyed and didn’t want to get rid of. But if I wanted to see good results, I had to take action.
So, in order to be free of a bondage, we must take action and make a change in order to see good results. Sometimes it’s a temporary change and sometimes it’s a permanent change. It may mean we need to change our way of thinking and that means we must remove our focus off of what we are holding onto so tightly and re-shift our focus to Christ, who can help us to let go of it. It could be food, an old thought pattern, drugs/alcohol, pride, self-righteousness, unforgiveness, controlling ways, anger, fear, depression, money, perfectionism, material possessions, technology or even other people.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
In order to make a change, we need seek God first and ask for His help, which is what I did. We then have to take action. I have had to do this spiritually as well when I needed something within myself removed because it hindered me from moving forward and being free. I had to put God’s Word into action which is exercise. I had to incorporate exercise into my life as well in order to shed the weight, which I had done . Whether we are shedding physical weight or spiritual weight, it can’t happen unless we take action. We must conquer our flesh and seek God to obtain self-control. Then when we take action and do what the Word of God says, we will then see our chains become broken. We must purify our hearts and ask God to remove the things that are hindering us and defiling us because Christ will be returning someday, and we want to make sure we are clean and prepared for His return!
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.