Oct 1, 2018
A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
It has been said the first sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.
It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But often we act like it’s true. We think we can get away with doing what we want to do and not reap the same consequences we have experienced in the past or we have seen someone else reap because of the same actions. We mistakenly believe we can get away with doing what we want without repercussions. But unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. God built into the nature of things the cause and effect consequences that accompany behaviors just as they accompany the theorems that are the mechanical underpinnings of physics. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Sounds familiar, right? The same thing kind of follows through in the consequences we feel because of our behavior, whether good or bad.
There is another saying that seems to hold true, also. It says that the best predictor of the future is the past. We humans have a tendency to do what we did yesterday and the day before and the day before. We are creatures of habit. We do what we learned and what we are used to doing. Our behaviors take a lot of energy and concentration to change. For instance, my wife gets on to me in restaurants and other social situations because I’m always tapping the table, turning my glass, moving the salt shaker around, twisting my fork, or something. I’m constantly moving my hands.
I’m a professed fidgety person. It seems that I just can’t hold still. I’m sixty-four years old and I’ve done this as long as I can remember. My parents told me to quit fidgeting. My teachers told me to quit fidgeting. My wife tells me to quit fidgeting. My kids tell me to quit fidgeting. Everyone tells me to hold still. I can’t. Whether it’s learned behavior, some mental or medical condition, or just bad habit, I can’t seem to stop. I have to be moving something all the time. It’s not big thing, but it’s distracting to others sometimes. So that innocent habit takes away the focus I might be wanting from those I’m talking with around me. As a consequence of my movements, they may miss an important point I or one of the other speakers in our group might be making. It’s not a good thing, but it’s a natural consequence of my behavior.
Is it big deal? Usually not. But sometimes a point is missed. Focus goes the wrong direction. Attention veers off the speaker for a moment and those accompanying me miss an opportunity to hear or see something because I’ve distracted them from what is certainly more important that watching me fidget with a water glass. But guess what, I would predict that if you sit down at a table with me this evening or tomorrow or next week, between the time our drinks come to the table and our food is served or as soon as I finish my meal, you’ll get to see me playing with something on the table. It won’t be long before I’m moving a glass around or playing with some utensil or flipping packets of sugar around or doing some other mundane action with my hands. I just can’t keep still. As hard as I try, I just can’t seem to do it.
But the same too often holds true in our spiritual life, too. If you didn’t go to church last month, it is likely you won’t go next month. Not because you’re necessarily a bad person, but because we are creatures of habit. The past is the best predictor of the future. We do what we’ve done and expect different results. But the world doesn’t work that way. We usually do what we’ve always done.
If you didn’t do any devotions at home this week, I would predict you won’t do any devotions at home next week. Why? Because we are creatures of habit and usually do what we’ve always done. Change is hard. Changing spiritual things when the world does its best to keep us from God is extremely hard. Remember Jesus said the world would hate us because of him. The world will deceive and put obstacles in our path. The world will try its best to kill our spirit and shape us into its mold instead of God’s.
We talked about how hard habits are to break last week. Change is hard, but sometimes necessary. Change takes commitment and perseverance. Two words that have somehow disappeared from our vocabulary in the last decade or so. We won’t commit to anything and when things get hard, we just quit. Something changed in us to make us rather lazy as a society. We don’t want to work. We don’t want to spend the time and effort be excellent at anything. We don’t reach out for new opportunities or new experiences. We don’t recognize the importance of life and the worth of the human soul. We have changed as a society in the last couple of decades. We have lost God.
Now we need to change. We can’t do it with just words. We can’t change easily. We can’t expect things to get better by sitting around doing the same things and hoping something different will happen. It won’t. We must change our habits. Our behaviors. The way we think. Paul admonishes us to “let our mind be transformed”. That’s where it all begins. We must work hard to think differently. Change the way we think. Dismiss the evil thoughts that the world puts there. Change the pattern of thought and as the Psalmist tells us so often, “meditate on God’s word day and night”.
David meditated on the word of God available to him at the time. Did you ever stop to think about what he really had? The Old Testament came to be what it is today after the Israelites were allowed to return to Jerusalem after their exile. Around 400 BC. David wrote many of the Psalms we have today. He had the Torah, the first five books of our Old Testament. He might have had the stories from the book of Judges. He knew the story of his heritage from Naomi and Ruth and Boaz and his father, Jesse. He didn’t have much else, yet through scripture David was noted as a man after God’s own heart.
Why? His habit was to meditate on God’s word. Did he always please God? Absolutely not. Bathsheba. Uriah. Murder. Adultery. Deceit. Treachery. Bigamy. Favoritism among his children. He failed many times. But he always came back repentantly to God and asked forgiveness. He changed his heart and his actions. He changed his thinking. He meditated on God’s word instead of the things the world popped into his brain. He changed his focus to try to see the world from God’s eyes instead of his human eyes.
To become like Jesus, we must change. He can help us if we let him. But we cannot do the same things we always do and expect to be like him. He will continue to shape us and mold us throughout our life when we honestly and fervently seek him and desire to be like him. He is the change maker. He created us in the first place. He knows how to fix our broken parts. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it to help us make it through this journey toward heaven.
How can we change what our future looks like? We need to recognize what we’ve done in the past and remember that the only way to change the future is to do something different. When we do the same things, expect things to be just like they were. When we think the same way, we will act the same way. If you want a different future than than your past or current state, look to Jesus and let him transform you. Only by breaking through with him and living life in a different, Jesus filled manner can you hope to have a different future.
Expecting a different outcome from the same actions is insanity. Let Jesus help you change your future by directing your thinking and your actions. Let him in today as the change agent for your life.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.