As a new year begins and an old one passes away, it seems a bit more natural than usual to consider the deeper realities of life. Upon the turn of another year, we tend to assess areas of needed growth and confront areas that have become stale or simply ignored. We look beneath the surface, to the heart, and while some of us find ourselves with excitement for change, others look away, already in defeat at the battle before them.
How is it we believe change happens?
Through the biblical counseling process, I am growing more convinced that change is not a formulaic process. It’s not ultimately a process led by us, nor is it one that happens without our consent. Change comes by way of deepening our relationship with and faithfulness to the God who created us, redeemed us, and is redeeming us still.
It's in this tandem of God working in us and with us that brings about change. It's repentance and faith governed by His kindness and grace. It's surrender and trust compelled by knowing more of His steadfast, unchanging character. It's renewing our minds by the power of His Word. It's being transformed in our affections as we behold His glory.
Have you experienced this – how change happens in relationship? How God leads and authors, and we surrender, trust, and obey? A wonderful mystery that can only be held together by the God who became flesh, dwelt among us, and gave His life that we might have the resurrection power living in us to redeem us and bring us to be with Him in glory.
It’s only in Christ, from our union in death and new life with Him, that we can find the power, the reason, the motivation, and ultimately the standard for change.
Christ is the standard. It’s His image into which we are being transformed; therefore, we have the gracious privilege of looking to Him to discover areas of needed growth. And as we do, we find our hearts desire not only to be like Him, but to know Him more.
And knowing Him more is the ultimate catalyst for any and all change.
So what motivates you to change? Maybe it’s the strain and pain you’ve created or experienced in your relationships. Maybe the weight you’ve carried to please others has grown heavy. Maybe habits you've had for as long as you can remember are making you into a person you don't want to become. Maybe your lack of joy and luster for life is numbing you, and you’re ready to feel again.
All of these are good things. But they’re not enough. Motivation that ends in self or others will never have the power to carry us. These must be brought to the foot of the Cross. It’s only at the gospel center that our motivations can be surrendered, purified, and ultimately stewarded to bring glory to our Lord. And when we are faithful to work out areas of change for His glory, we have the promise of greater intimacy with Him on this road of sanctification.
So here are several Biblical concepts (though not exhaustive), most with Scripture references, about the way that change happens. Maybe consider studying one or several of these in Scripture as a whole. Maybe consider which ones you’re prone to resist or fail to utilize. Or maybe as you read over them, find rest in the God who cares about the details of your life and look to Him to be your Shepherd in the process of change.
Whatever you choose to do with them, I pray they serve you in your walk with our God this year towards holiness, glory, and great intimacy with Him!
· Power of the Word –
o 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Luke 8:4-18, Hebrews 4:12, Isaiah 55:10-11, Philippians 2:12-16, Psalm 119
· Power of the Spirit –
o Romans 8, Ephesians 5:15-21, Ezekiel 36:25-28, John 16:1-15
· Abiding –
o John 15:1-11
· Looking to Jesus –
o Hebrews 12:1-4; Philippians 2:1-11, Colossians 3:1-4
· Repentance and faith –
o Romans 2:4, Romans 6, Matthew 3:8, 4:17; Luke 5:27-32; Galatians 2:20-3:14
o Luke 18:1-14; The books of Psalms & Acts
· Humility / Poor in spirit / Identifying with Christ
· Beholding the glory of God –
o 2 Corinthians 3:12-18
· Surrender –
o Everywhere! Luke 9:23-25
· Suffering –
o Romans 5:1-5, James 1:2-4,
· God’s grace
o Laced throughout every story in the Bible
· Renewing of mind / transforming of affections
o Romans 12:1-2; Luke 6:43-45
· Discipline –
o Hebrews 12:5-17
· Discipleship / Church Membership –
o All of Jesus’ life with His disciples, Matthew 28:18-20; all of Paul’s letters to churches, Ephesians 4
grace & peace,