Three Things to Consider When You Want Lasting Change
1 Kings 19:19-21 | Philippians 3:12-21
What do you think of when you reflect on the last year?
Do you marvel at God’s goodness and the many trials He brought you through?
Do you find yourself questioning if 2019 will be any better because 2018 just wasn’t your year?
Do you find yourself feeling like there wasn’t much change and that you’re pretty much the same person you were at the beginning of 2018 as you were at the end of it?
Some of us look upon the last year with regret, others of us look at the last year with joy. The danger for all of us is that we spend so much time looking at the past, that we don’t realize the real opportunity of the future. We don’t realize the blessing that God isn’t leaving us in last year, but calling us to follow Him in this one!
Don’t forget this freebie!
God does have a plan for us this year, friend. He has a plan for you, a plan that requires growth in our relationships with Him, growth in our faith, growth in our character, and growth in our influence. Simply put, God doesn’t want us to remain the same person we were last year. He wants us to continue chasing after Him. If His mercies are new every morning, so are His blessings and His desire to grow closer to us.
The growth He wants requires change. It requires a lasting change, not a change that lasts for a moment but one that impacts our eternity.
When I think about lasting change, it’s easy to think of the obstacles that block the way to lasting change and the life God is calling me to.
Let’s talk about those obstacles to our lasting change and the life that God is calling us to.
Obstacle #1- The place we find ourselves isn’t where we think we should be. We find Elisha plowing a field. Usually when we think of pastors, missionaries, prophets, and evangelists, we think of schools dedicated towards helping these ministers in their callings. Elijah didn’t find his eventual successor in a school, but working in a field. Maybe we feel a lot like Elisha, working in a field that is so far away from what we feel we’re called to. Maybe we feel that the field disqualifies us from ministering in God’s name.
Obstacle #2- We simply realize the incredible sacrifice that comes with the call to follow Jesus. Elisha’s calling came just after Elijah was convinced he was the only prophet left. Elijah felt incredible loneliness, he felt defeated, and he had felt that death was better than the life that God had called him. It was a hard life. Prophets were being killed constantly. The life that Elisha was offered was a hard one. It was one that could easily find Elisha feeling lonely, defeated, and as if death was better than the calling God had placed on his life. Not many people are quick to volunteer for such a life that could end in a brutal death, but Elisha was. Elisha had felt God’s calling on his heart and he began making plans to sacrifice for it. When we leave behind the fear, we’ll discover that God’s call is absolutely worth it!
Obstacle #3- The life we currently have is more comfortable than the unknown of what God is calling us to. The Israelites that had been freed from Egypt struggled with this so much that they wanted to go back! Elisha recognized that this could be a problem and he sought to take away the temptation of his current life in favor of obedience to God’s call. He destroyed the very tools that could make it easy for him to come back to this life and pick up where he left off. Elisha recognized that it would be disobedient to God to return to his old life. He destroyed it so that he could walk in obedience to God. What do you value more? Being obedient to God or being comfortable with your old life (disobedience)?
So what can we learn from these obstacles? How can we guarantee success moving forward now that we know what those obstacles are?
Lesson #1- When we want real and lasting change, sometimes it’s necessary to take steps to make it hard to go back to our old life. Elisha destroyed his plow and then butchered and ate his animals. He wasn’t going to be going back to farming, he knew that God was calling him to something different. He also knew that stepping out in obedience meant that he would have to leave that old life behind. For us, it might mean moving to a new location, quitting our jobs, putting new boundaries in place so that we don’t return to the life that we had.
Lesson #2- When we want change, we need to be intentional about making changes. Change won’t happen when we choose to live the same life in the same old way. I think about Elijah and how Elisha’s calling had kind of come about. Elijah was stuck in his fear and defeat. What if he wouldn’t have stepped out in faith and obedience and listened to God about Elisha? What if he would have stayed put and not made the changes God had called him to make? Instead, Elijah did step out in obedience to God. He had to change the way he lived and ministered. He wasn’t ministering alone, now he had a friend and partner in ministry who would be with him for the rest of his ministry.
Lesson #3- God’s change is worth it. Let’s face it: Change can be really scary. Charging into the unknown, unsure of the outcome, most of us want a bit more control than that! But that simple truth that God’s change is worth it, let it ring out in your heart and mind. God’s change is more rewarding and lasting than the average New Year’s Resolution (which fizzles out after a few days). God’s change is eternal!
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to step out in obedience to God’s call on my life. Whatever this year may hold, I long for it to be a year where my relationship with God, my faith, my character, and my influence all find lasting growth and change!
Let’s Discuss! Comment Below!
What benefits do you notice about God’s lasting change?