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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

Is Change Really Necessary for New Year's Resolutions?
Date Posted: January 5, 2014

(I'm cheating... this is from my blog post yesterday.)

I get depressed thinking about making New Year Resolutions. Do you? Do you look at your list six months down the road and think... ACK! I've failed!

How often do we recognize what others need to change in their lives before we recognize what changes we need to make? So many of us make New Year’s resolutions with truly less resolution and more "feel better about myself". After the first month it seems all the resolution to change and be a better person dissolves. Sometimes we keep those resolutions alive for several months before they bite the dust: Lose weight, quit smoking, less temper and more patience, better with money management, start saving for retirement. Most of our resolutions can be reduced down to having more self-control, which is part of the fruit of the Spirit. Should I repeat that?

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, self-control. Against such things there is not a law.

Wait… what was that last part again? Against such things there is not a law. Being led by the Spirit we are not under Law, Paul says it in verse 18. It isn’t too much of a leap to conclude that we cannot exhibit these things such as love, joy peace, self-control, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, long-suffering, by our selves. Only through the strength of the Holy Spirit and by His gift of the Fruit can we exhibit these things which are a testimony to God’s work of changing our hearts and minds: in short sanctification.

Change is a scary thing.

I was checking out Twitter and found a reference to this story about why Change is so hard to do -- it requires self-control and that commodity is expendable/exhaustible. Or so the study results seem to indicate.

That sounds good, and the experiment with the chocolate chip cookies and the radishes seems to support the theory. But, there is something that just doesn't sound quite right about it.

If you indulge yourself with a chocolate chip cookie, you are supposed to be able to do some task for a longer period of time than if you exert self-control and eat radishes while the savory aroma of chocolate chips, all melty and warm and gooey floats about you.

This is one of the things that I had problems with in my Social Psychology class in college. So many of the things that these social psychologists "test" with their experiments completely leave out the God-factor in their experiments. They either do not know, or forget that self-control is part of the Fruit of the Spirit. If a person asks God for help with a seemingly insurmountable task but that has to be done, then the task does become easier to do.

I have found that God will never do a task for me if whatever job He has set for me to do contributes to my growth in the eternal scope of things. He will provide things for me supernaturally which I am constantly amazed at, but I keep thinking that God is sitting on His throne and is jogging on the inside (laughing) at some of these crazy experiments that we humans come up with in order to understand the human Psyche.

We resist change almost to death because we love the familiar and hold that close. We go to the same Bible verses because we know them, we study the same passages because we love them. Yet, there is so much more to behold in God’s love letter.

A year ago, my church started a Read The Bible in a Year ... again. We're doing it again this year, too. In the reading last year some verses went along with Genesis 3&4. James 4:7 was one of them. I almost did not look it up because I didn't want to take the time, then I decided right then that God was more important than time and He would bless me. I would receive His blessings, if nothing else, He would at least give me peace for checking the verses. Then I decided that one verse wasn't enough, but I should read the background chapter as well as the verse. For quite a long time now, God has been working on me about reading bits and pieces and filling in with my own understanding rather than studying the whole using His guidance and understanding.

Even though I have studied my Bible deeply for more than -- cough -- for a long time, He has reminded me that I lose so much because of familiarity. I think I know, so I skip it and move on hunting a "new truth" or "new insight". I'm ashamed to say, I've missed so much in the past few years because of familiarity.

Yes... I would have missed God's admonitions:

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
James 4:14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

So, I ask you is change completely necessary? Certainly, it is. Human nature is sin-full. As Christians, we must conform ourselves to godly ways. Healthy bodies and healthy minds, and we must put everything in perspective. Why try to do anything with our own understanding and our own power and our own self-control?

He gives us the desire to get out of the box of familiarity, to be still and know God, to unlock those dark corners of our heart and let the fresh breezes of God's word whip away those cobwebs masking our deeper understanding of what He is saying.

Read the Bible using His understanding which is a free gift of the Holy Spirit. Thank God for helping us to realize there is no place like peace, and no greater self-control than His.

Pass the cookies, please.

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and
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