Looking For Change In All The Wrong Places
I’m writing this in the first week of January. New Year’s Day has passed, but my inbox is still flooding with emails about making resolutions and setting goals and promises of “A New Year: A New You!” Are you being bombarded with similar messages?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting change, of course. We all have things in our lives we’d like to change. But how do we find lasting transformation?
Resolutions? Don’t Hold Your Breath
If you’re placing your hope in your New Year’s resolutions, I’ve got some bad news. A recent study by researchers at Scranton University revealed that only 19% of Americans will keep their resolutions, and most give up by mid-January. If you don’t believe the researchers, just compare the number of people using gyms and fitness centers in January with the number of users in February.
Contrary to popular belief, though, the problem isn’t solely willpower. Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist, says most resolutions fail because people shouldn’t have started them on January 1st. Writing in Psychology Today, Morin notes that people who make New Year’s resolutions “are making a change based on a calendar date when they think they are prepared to change their lives. This is the reason most resolutions fail. What are the chances that you’re going to be ready for the action stage at exactly the same time the calendar rolls over to a new year? They are probably pretty slim.” Morin advises delaying a resolution until you’re really ready to commit, and then establishing what steps you’ll need to take.
This may increase your chances of success, but it’s no guarantee. I used to make New Year’s resolutions, but I gave that up many years ago (yes, I’m in the group that didn’t show up at the gym in February). So if New Year’s resolutions don’t work, what will?
Goals Are Good, But Not Enough
Some people prefer to set goals rather than make resolutions. The word “resolution” isn’t in the Bible, they say, but God’s Word does speak about plans. Setting goals involves making a detailed plan of what and how you intend to change. The Bible has much to say about this:
- “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3). Pray and ask God about the plans you are to make. Seek His guidance and direction.
- “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Proverbs 33:11). Be sure the goals you are setting line up with His plans and purposes, and the precepts set forth in His Word.
- Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). Consider asking trusted mentors for their advice and suggestions.
- “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Realize that the Lord may redirect your course if your plans are leading you in the wrong direction.
- “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). Remember that God’s plans supercede yours.
My wife’s favorite verses are Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” God understands more than you do, so trust Him to direct you and submit to His guidance.
Setting goals, however, is like self-help: it will only get you so far. You may be able to make some changes in your life.
A Transformed Life
But if it’s a total make-over you need, consider the words of the Lord in Jeremiah 29:11, one of my favorites: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
God– almighty God, the Creator of the universe– has plans for you!
“Plans to prosper you–“ Imagine all your needs met! A life of prosperity!
“–and not to harm you–” God’s not angry at you! He’s not out to get you!
“Plans to give you hope and a future–“ God wants to give you hope! He has a glorious future awaiting you!
Doesn’t that sound good?
Resolutions and goals can bring some change, but transformation comes through Jesus! Salvation is as simple as A-B-C:
Accept that you are a sinner. Believe that Jesus loves and died for you. Commit your life to Him.
That’s it! One simple prayer can change your life.
My life changed when I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I’m still a work-in-progress, but I am living the transformed life.
So can you. And you don’t have to wait until January 1st!
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God Has PLANS For You!