Summary: How do we make positive changes in our lives?
Good morning. I’d like to begin by congratulating all of you for surviving the horrible consequences of the Y2K bug - the food shortages, the long lines at the gas pumps, the collapse of the banking system, the airplanes falling out of the sky, accidental launching of Russia’s nuclear missiles, the meltdown of the nuclear reactors. I know it’s been tough living these past nine days without electricity, or heat, or fresh water. I especially appreciate your showing up here this morning, knowing that every time you leave your house you take your life in your hands, risking attack by the roving bands of criminals who were released prematurely when the computers calculated that they had been in jail for over a hundred years.
Well, let’s talk about something else that happens around this time of year. Now, how many of you made a New Year’s Resolution this year? Would anyone like to tell us what their New Year’s Resolutions are?.
New Year’s Resolutions represent the triumph of hope over experience. It’s like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football, even though Lucy always pulls it away at the last minute. In spite of the fact that we’ve failed to carry out our resolutions in the past, we think, "this year is going to be different!"
What I’d like to do this morning is give you some helps for change from God’s Word. Change is possible. The desire to make positive changes in our life is a good thing. It’s not foolish to want to . . . [examples]. But to be successful you have to go about it the right way, and that’s what the Bible can show us.
First, acknowledge the need for change
"How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but it has to really want to change." It may seem obvious, but unless a recognition of the need for change, and a desire for change, there will be no change. You have to decide you want to change.
Corollary: you can’t change someone against their will. There’s a musical on Broadway now called, "I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change." Doesn’t that sum up most relationships? So this is not a message about how to change someone else. I can’t give you any help with that. This is about helping you to make changes in your life.
· Listen to what others are telling you about your need to change.
"Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice." - Proverbs 13:10 (NIV)
"Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise." - Proverbs 19:20 (NIV)
Would all the people in the room who cannot think of one area in which they need to change please raise their hands? If you look closely, you will see that none of those raised hands are wearing wedding rings. Why? Because all of us have flaws, and the closer you get to someone, the easier it is to see those flaws. Most of you who are married are familiar with this concept.
So do we make use of this resource? Do we seek out the assistance of those closest to us, to help us identify areas in which change is needed? No. Why not? Pride. What happens when someone tries to point out a need for change in our life? We quarrel with them. Isn’t that true? Why? Pride.
What’s the opposite of pride? Wisdom. If you want to be wise instead of foolish, listen to advice. Accept instruction. The next time someone says, "you know what the trouble with you is?" Say, "no, please tell me." First of all, you’ll really confuse them, and they’ll probably forget what they were going to say. But if they don’t, you may learn something.
The Scottish poet, Robert Burns, wrote, "Oh, that some power the gift could give us, to see ourselves as others see us. It would from many a blunder and foolish notion free us."
· Listen to what God is telling you.
"Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like."
-- James 1:23-24 (NIV)
Now, we don’t always consider the mirror to be our friend, do we? Especially at this time of the year, when we’re just getting up the courage to step on the scales after the month-long feast of ThanksgivingChristmasNewYears. "No," you say to yourself, "that can’t be right." So you step off and step back on a few times. Then you readjust the needle. Then you take off your watch to lighten the load, then your socks, like a hot air balloonist releasing ballast.