Summer Concert Series Pt.4 – Take it Easy

Summer Concert Series Pt.4 – Take it Easy

Matthew 11:28-30 The Message  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

“Busy” is the hallmark of our times. I’ve lost count of how many times I ask people, “How are you doing?” and the answer comes back – ‘Oh, I’m just soooooo Busy”. ‘I haven’t got a moment to myself’. It’s almost like our busyness has become a ‘badge of honour’ – a medal for us to wear.

We live in a very tense, uptight and fast paced world filled with hurry.  We are frazzled, overwhelmed, & bewildered. Truth is we are addicted to noise

Take it Easy Chorus 

Take It easy, take it easy 

Don’t let the sound of your own wheels 

drive you crazy – Lighten up while you still can 

don’t even try to understand 

Just find a place to make your stand and take it easy 

Movie – Michael Douglas stars in Falling Down

It was a story  about a day in the life of a man who had experienced all he could take of the pressures, disappointments, & and inconveniences of life. He experiences mounting anxiety as he endures a traffic jam (caused by construction), suffers the oppression of inflated prices at a local store (owned by a foreigner), and is put through indignities of poor service (with a smile) at a fast food restaurant.

These everyday frustrations, combined with a sense of being disconnected from his family (the result of a recent divorce), & the loss of his job, all culminate on this fateful day to push him over the edge!

As a result of all these pressures, his normal, healthy logic & rationale are suspended, & he resorts to violence, murder, & blowing things up!

John 16:33 Amplified – I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

Where are you going to live? Tribulation? Or Christ

How many of us feel like that? Let’s take a group quiz to see how many of us are being dragged through life. Fill in the blanks:

I’m ready to throw in the… I’m at the end of my…

I’m just a bundle of… My life is falling…

I’m at my wit’s… I feel like resigning from the human…

Apparently we’re all experiencing the rat race. Just when you thought you were getting ahead, along come faster rats. But remember, he who wins the rat race is still a rat.

Philippians 4:7 NIV – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

We are living in Overload

IF there is one term that describes the state of affairs in the lives of people today, it is OVERLOAD. We are Overwhelmed, Overworked, Overcommitted, Overanxious, Overmatched, and Overextended. Our tanks are on empty and we’re running on fumes.

Our world has become the world of the Red Queen of Alice in Wonderland: “Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.”

We need to learn how to Take it easy, chill, relax, and rest! “A life lived reflectively is a life lived effectively.” 

Weariness is a trap. 

(Luke 21:34 NIV) “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.” 

Rest is a choice. 

(Hebrews 4:9-11 NLT) So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. 

Rest is not a physical position but a spiritual condition and It is Commanded by God

Leviticus 23:3 “There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord.”

(Exodus 33:13-16 NIV) “The LORD replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 

God’s message is plain: “If creation didn’t crash when I rested, it won’t crash when you do.”

(Matthew 11:28- NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” 

How To Take it Easy

Hebrews 4:11 (GWT) So we must make every effort to enter that place of rest. Then no one will be lost by following the example of those who refused to obey.

Mark 6:30-31 NIV The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 

1. Relax and Be still. 

Psalm 46:10 NIV “Be still, and know that I am God.” 

Still – to abate, to cease, to let go, or to stop. The state or an instance of being quiet or calm. The Hebrew word translated “Be still” literally means ‘shut up’. It means coming before God, away from the noise, away from the commotion, away from the busyness. Not with a shopping list, not with a list of demands, but actually with no words at all – just with a heart that is open to listen.

“The great reason why life is troubled & restless lies not without, but within.”

Proverbs 4:23 NIV – Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Norman Vincent Peale said, “Learn to relax. Your body is precious, as it houses your mind and spirit. Inner peace begins with a relaxed body.”

Isaiah 26:3 NIV – You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Sometimes life shakes us up a little. We become disoriented, overwhelmed, consumed by the day to day happenings of our lives.  The British Navy has a practice known as an “ALL STILL”. When something goes wrong on a ship, particularly a submarine, the captain announces “All Still”. For 3 minutes no one is allowed to move or speak.

All Still – is an God opportunity to catch your breath and out things into perspective

Abba Poeman, one of the ancient desert fathers, taught his disciples, “If you are silent, you will have peace wherever you live.”

2 Chronicles 20:17 NKJV – “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you…”

IF you don’t break the tensions of daily living, they will break you! If you don’t like where you are going in life – STOP. Let go of the challenges, worries, and anxieties that encumber us.

Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is Take it easy. 

2. Take the Time to Pray. 

Philippians 4:6-7 NLT – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

When You Pray You are Trusting God to Take Care of Things Beyond your Control 

Jeremiah 6:16 NIV This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. 

Luke 18:1 NIV  Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

•Henri Nouwen writes about prayer in his book The Way of the Heart. And he says that the early church fathers wrote that we should “pray always.” And he says that the literal translation of these words is “come to rest.” 

What a wonderful picture – that as we come to pray, we’re actually coming to rest. And he goes on to say, “that the rest we find in prayer has nothing to do with the absence of conflict or pain. It is a rest in God in the midst of a very intense daily struggle.

•The problems are still there, the challenges are still there, the busyness is still there, there’s meeting to attend, there’s people to see, there’s work to do – but in the eye of your storm – amongst all the activity and chaos – there is perfect peace and tranquility and rest.

•Prayer is the highest order of spiritual business. For it links a powerless human to the creative force of God’s sovereign power!

Colossians 4:3 NIV Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

The greatest value in prayer is not what you can get from God but what you learn & become

•If you and I are too busy to Pray, we give our spiritual life a funeral!

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me, all the time waking and sleeping. It does not change God. It changes me.” CS Lewis

Prayer is the most difficult thing in the world to do. In prayer we find ourselves standing on the edge of a deep, dark, abyss – the world of the divine, infinite, and eternal.  We come face to face with ourselves and face to face with God.

Take it easy….. Slow down, breathe deeply, reflect deeply, pray deeply, live deeply!

Relax and refuse to let worry and stress rule your life. There is always a solution to every problem. Things will work out for you when you take time to relax, refresh, restore and recharge your soul.

How you can practice Relaxing

1. Schedule a time. For me, I schedule stillness first thing in the morning. It has become so precious to me, that I won’t want to start the day without it. I practice this first—before prayer, before Bible reading, before journaling, and before exercise.

2. Find a place. When I was on vacation, I sat outside by the pool. This was ideal. But it is not my real world. Now I simply go into my study or my back patio. The main thing is to find a place where you won’t be interrupted.

3. Set a timer.  set aside fifteen minutes a day. In my limited experience this seems about right. It is amazing how my perception of this time changes from day to day. Sometimes it seems like forever. Other times, it goes by very quickly. I use the timer on my iPhone.

4. Relax your body. I simply sit in a soft chair with my eyes closed. I then systematically relax my body and get quiet. If you can’t sit still, then engage in any mindless physical activity, like rocking in a chair or watching some natural motion like fire or running water.

5. Quiet your mind. This is the biggest challenge for me. Just when I get still, I have some random thought or a whole flurry of thoughts. But I am getting better. a discipline that keeps your allotted time from being hijacked by an overly-active mind.

6. Be present. Don’t be regretting or celebrating the past. Don’t be worrying or dreaming about the future. Instead, collect your thoughts and be present—in this moment. It is the most important time you have. In fact, it is the only time you have.

7. Learn to return. This has been the most helpful component. In involves recalling a “place of peace,” where you had a particularly vivid experience of peace and stillness.

Summer Concert Series Pt.3 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Lookin’ For

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For 

Bono sings about searching for meaning in life, and not finding it in nature, city life, relationships or religious experiences. “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Nature: I have climbed highest mountain, I have run through the fields

City Life: I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls

Relationships: I have kissed honey lips, Felt the healing in her fingertips

Religious Experience: I have spoke with the tongue of angels, I have held the hand of a devil

I believe in the kingdom come, Then all the colors will bleed into one

You broke the bonds and you, Loosed the chains; Carried the cross, Of my shame, Of my shame, You know I believed it But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

THE BIG IDEA: What are you Looking for? Are you thirsty? Do you feel cracked and dry, broken, lost and empty? Come to Jesus and let Him satisfy your soul hunger and thirst!

Text: John 4:4-35 NIV Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a]) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him. 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

Background of the Story – 

  • Why did Jesus have to go through Samaria?
  • He knew that there was a woman there who still hadn’t found what she was looking for.
  • This woman had tried to find satisfaction in relationships with men – she has been married five times, and was living with a sixth guy – but she was still empty inside.• Was Jesus talking about well water? No! He was talking about something much deeper!
  • He said: There is water you can drink that will never quench your thirst.

• In other words, there are things in life you can go to for fulfillment, but they will never satisfy: drugs, alcohol, relationships, sexuality, money, power, fame.

  • But the water Jesus offers will quench your thirst: it is a fountain of living water!

ILLUSTRATION:

A small boy is sent to bed by his father. Five minutes later he calls out, “Da-ad!”

“What?”

“I’m thirsty. Can you bring drink of water?”

“No. You had your chance. It’s lights out.”

Five minutes later the boy calls out again: “Da-aaaad!”

“WHAT?”

“I’m THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water?”

“I told you NO! If you ask again, I’ll have to spank you!”

Five minutes later he calls out again, “Daaaa-aaaad!”

“WHAT!”

“When you come in to spank me, can you bring a drink of water?”

1.There is More To God and More To Life than what you’ve already Experienced

Ephesians 3:20 NIV  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

QUOTE: “The weakness of our hunger for God is not because He (doesn’t taste good), but because we keep ourselves stuffed with other things… If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.” (John Piper, Hunger for God). 

Spain – during the days of Christopher Columbus was very proud of the fact that they were the last point of solid land for sailors going westward. When travelers arrived  was a large sign that said their motto in latin, “Ne Plus Ultra”  which means “ No more beyond”. It was on their flag and coins as well.

There outlook on life was “No more beyond”. It was the world as they knew it. Result – They settled. People settled there because they were told there is nothing beyond Spain.

After Columbus discovered the New World – the national motto for Spain changed to “Plus Ultra”  which means “MORE BEYOND” they dropped “Ne”

Sadly, Many people people have settled for their own version of Spain. Have you stopped dreaming, hoping, believing, and praying. Some people accept something far less than God’s bigger, greater plans for their lives.

•There is more to God than what we’ve already experienced

3 Reasons People Settle and Stop Searching

  1. People settle when they get sentimentally attached to a past season of their life. 

People may have to stay where they have been, but nothing is supposed to stay like it has been  – When people don’t emerge and embrace change, they settle for a lifetime in what was meant to be a season.

Don’t let temporary conditions of your life dictate a permanent perspective.

      2. People settle in a place of relational wounds

Genesis 11, Abraham’s father, Terah, was on his way with his family to Canaan, which is where God planned for him to go and live. Terah had another son named Haran who had died a premature death. Rather than passing through, Terah settled in a city with the same name as the son he had lost.  That wasn’t God’s plan. Grief caused him to stay.

Don’t let yourself linger in the place of relational wounds and miss out on the future God has for you.

3. People settle because where they are is “good enough” and they want to stay comfortable

Good enough is the enemy of “better than ever” – Good enough is not your destiny

Ignore the signs that say No More Beyond!

Refuse to just Drift!

Hebrews 2:1 NIV – We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

Phil. 1:6 NIV – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

2. Whatever you need more of – God is the source of an endless and generous supply

Phil.4:19 NIV – And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

God has an endless supply of whatever you need! He never runs out!

Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV – Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The Message version – God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.

“God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” CS Lewis

GOD never gives up on us! Quit being down on yourself and look up to God!

3. Before we will hunger and thirst after God, we must come to a place where we realize that the other things in our lives haven’t really satisfied!

Jeremiah. 2:13 NIV “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

The real reason that people are unhappy, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled is because Jesus Christ is not the center of their lives. They are looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. They run from this to that… looking for something that is going to satisfy them. From relationship to relationship, from job to job, from hobby to sports to recreation … fads, therapy, books, seminar — looking for the key. But God has laid it out very clearly. You were made with a God shaped vacuum in your life and nothing will fill that void except God.

John 7:37-39 NIV – “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Are you thirsty? Do you feel cracked and dry, broken, lost and empty? Come to Jesus and let Him satisfy your soul hunger and thirst!

Matthew 5:6 AMP – “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied. (full, content)

Summer Concert Series – Landslide

Landslide – How to Handle Change in Life

It has been said that the only thing that is constant is change. Change can be a little scary. It shakes up what we know and puts us in the most uncomfortable place of what we don’t know.

Landslide Lyrics: 

I took my love, I took it down Climbed a mountain and I turned around 

And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills ‘Til the landslide brought it down

Oh, mirror in the sky What is love?

Can the child within my heart rise above?

Can I sail through the changin’ ocean tides?

Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’ ‘Cause I’ve built my life around you

But time makes you bolder Even children get older And I’m getting older, too

When it comes to life change, what is God’s part and what is our part?

Philippians 2:12-13 ESV – Therefore, my beloved, fas you have always gobeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for hit is God who works in you, both to will and to work for ihis good pleasure. 

What would you like to change in your life? As I was growing up, I heard people say, “Jesus changed my life.” How does Jesus change your life? Does He do surgery or brain wash you? Zap you with something and all of a sudden you’re changed? There’s a lot of confusing advise coming out now days on how God changes us. Some people say, “Just wait on the Lord.” A passive approach. Other people say, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” An activist viewpoint. What am I supposed to do in order to grow? Is it all me or is it all God or is it a combination? Paul deals with this very issue. When it comes to your spiritual growth, the fact is God has a part and you have a part. Paul uses two phrases to explain this cooperation:

To “work out” means to cultivate or develop. He doesn’t say you earn your salvation. He says you make the most of what you’ve already got. You work “out” what God is working “in”.  

“…work out your salvation…” He’s talking about an individual assignment. Accept personal responsibility for your growth. Your salvation, not somebody else’s. Yours. Individually. God does not want cookie-cutter Christians. He doesn’t want a bunch of spiritual clones walking around, everybody copying each other. You are unique and individual. He wants you to be you.

Ready or not Change happens. Change imposes itself on you. It doesn’t even wait on you to be ready. It doesn’t ask for your permission. But change is not a bad word.

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by Change.”

Why People Resist Change

•Fear – Unknown threatens our comfort zone

•Insecurity – Thinking we will be worse off

•Power -We will lose it

•Inertia – Easier to maintain the status quo

•Energy – Takes lots of work to change

The question is, “How will you respond to it? What kind of attitude will you have toward it?”

I. DON’T FOCUS ON WHAT WAS, BUT ON WHAT CAN BE

Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV –  “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it. I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland

No one likes change EXCEPT a baby with a wet or dirty diaper. Change can be intimidating and frightening. It can be a “Landslide”. You can change and not grow…but you can’t grow without change!

•Life span for modern technology is less than 6 months

•The American worker will face up to multiple career changes

•Over 500,000 graduates have degrees in a field that becomes non-existent every year

John 5:6 ESV – When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”

-Jesus felt it necessary to ask! You Must Want Change!

Changes in life bring changes in you!  By Product – Growth & Transformation

We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are!

II. Three Tools God Uses to Change Us

1. God Uses the Bible 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Bible changes our thoughts so it changes us. If you want to get serious about change, you need to get into this book. Read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, live it in your life. The more you get the Word of God in your life, the more you’re going to be changed.

Hebrews 4:12 ESV For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The Bible is authoritive not just bc it is a manual for living, but bc it reveals to us JESUS who has the power to CUT through all our BOLONEY and change our lives!

“The Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives”

2. God Uses the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:11 ESV –   If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[a] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

God puts His Spirit in us. This is where the power comes from to change. Romans 8:11: “Once the Spirit lives within you, He will bring to your whole being new strength and vitality.” God will bring power into your life. The Holy Spirit is God Himself. When you commit your life to God, He comes into your life.

II Corinthians 3:18 Living Bible – But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.

The Holy Spirit in you gives you the desire and the power to change. God’s number one purpose in your life is not to make you happy, but to make you like Jesus.

(1 Thessalonians 5:19, 23 NIV) “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire…May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“Every time we say “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” we mean that we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter into human personality and change it” JB Phillips

God’s ideal is to tell us how to change through His word and give us the power to change through His Spirit. You read it and then He empowers you to do it. Unfortunately, we don’t always follow the ideal. So God has to use a third way to change us when we don’t respond to the Word or the Holy Spirit.

3. God Uses Circumstances

Problems, pressures, headaches, difficulties, stress always gets our attention.

Romans 8:28-29 NIV – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 

There is nothing that could come into the life of a believer without God’s permission. He doesn’t say they are all good, but He will use them for good to fit into a pattern. There is a divine pattern.

Proverbs 20:30 Good News Translation – Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.

We rarely change until we get desperate. We don’t change too often when we see the light, but we always change when we feel the heat. God lights a fire under us and we get moving. Often we will put up with things we know needs to be changed in our lives until we being to be uncomfortable. God sometimes has to bring some thunderstorms into our lives to say, “Do something. I want you to change. Don’t get stuck in a rut.” (A rut is just a grave with the ends kicked out.)

Learn to see the Purpose in the Pain – God is more interested in your character than your comfort.

Three Ways We Can Cooperate with God and Change

1. I Can Choose What I Think About    

Proverbs 4:23 NCV “Be careful what you think because your thoughts run your life.”

Your Thoughts not only shape your life, your thoughts are your life! You will never change your life until you change the way you think.

You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” James Allen

Romans 12:2 NIV – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Change begins in your Mind. Your mind is the drawing room for your tomorrow. What happens in your mind will happen in time.

Psalm 1:1-3 NIV – Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

The key to success is meditating on God’s Word. Another word for meditation is “rumination” – what a cow does when it chews it cud. The cow is straining every once of nourishment it can out of that grass

•Meditation is Thought Digestion

Philippians 4:8 NIV  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things

Joshua 1:8 ESV – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success

2. I Can Choose to Depend on The Holy Spirit

John 15:4-5 ESV – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

A branch is totally dependant upon the vine. When it is cut off from that vine, it won’t bear any grapes, or figs, or whatever. A branch cannot produce fruit by itself. It’s got to be connected. Jesus is saying that’s the way we have to be with God. We have to be plugged in. God has the power. But it’s not automatic. It’s when you’re plugged in, tuned in to God that the power comes through you.

Fruit is an inside job

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

3. I Can Choose My Response to Life

Romans 5:3-4 ESV– Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

You cannot control all the circumstances in your life, but you can control how you choose to respond to them. It’s not what happens to us that matters; it’s what happens in us that makes the difference.

James 1:2-4 ESV – Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Don’t ask why, ask What

II Corinthians 4:17-18 NLT  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

What do you want to change the most about yourself? The power to change comes from God’s power and your choices. When you choose to do the right thing, God gives you the power. What God tells you to do He gives you the power to do. Whatever you want to change it takes cooperation with God. He will work it in if you will work it out. God has promised to give you both the desire, the will power and the ability to make those changes. He will do it through His word and through His spirit. He will energize your life to make those changes. But it starts with our choices