Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I want to ask the question again, Is it possible to make a fresh start? Can we actually start all over again? I said in Parts 1 and 2 that if you take the word START, it’s a good way of doing it—S-T-A-R-T. ‘S’ is Stop making excuses, and ‘T’ stands for Take an inventory of yourself. And I said people don’t want to do that because of failure.
A – Act in faith
Failure is the way you become a success. You figure out what doesn’t work. When Edison figured out on the 200th or so time, what would make a light bulb stay lit, he did that because he knew 199 ways that didn’t work. You never call it a failure in your life. Call it an education. You learn from past failures and mistakes and act in faith for the future. Some people will never act in faith because they have been paralysed by the fear of past failures and mistakes.
Learn from the past, act in faith for the future and look to God for guidance. How do you get rid of fear of failure? Faith. That’s why the third step in starting over is acting in faith. Faith is not so much the absence of fear, as it is moving ahead in spite of your fear. Sometimes faith is doing the thing you fear the most.
Stop worrying about what others say or think. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Being afraid of people can get you into trouble.” The same verse in the Living Bible says, “Fear of man is a dangerous trap, but to trust in God means safety.”
R – Refocus
I need to refocus my thoughts if I want to change my life. If I want to get going again, if I want a fresh start, I need to rethink the way that I think. I need to change my mind about a number of issues. Proverbs 4:23 (GNT) says, “Be careful how you think. Your life is shaped by your thoughts.”
The way you think determines the way you feel. And the way you feel determines the way you act. If you want to change your actions, just change the way you think and it will inevitably change the way you act. If you are depressed, discouraged and distressed it may be because you’re thinking depressed, discouraged and distressing thoughts. That’s your choice. You don’t have to think those thoughts. If you’re acting in fearful, worried ways it’s because you’re thinking fearful, worried thoughts.
The Bible says in Romans 12:2 (NIV) “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
If I have to refocus my thoughts to start over to get a fresh start, that means I have to stop thinking some old patterns. Which memories are you still rehearsing that keep you from having a fresh start in life? The Bible says let go. Let go of those things. The more you hold on to that memory, the more you rehearse it, it continues to hurt you today. It cannot hurt you without your permission. You have to change your mind and let go and get rid of those painful, hurtful memories of shame and guilt and other things.
How do you do that?
First, confession. You say, I’ve confessed to God but I still feel guilty. How do I get rid of a painful memory? Not by resisting it but by replacing it. Not saying, I’m not going to think about it! I’m not going to think about it! What are you doing the whole time? Thinking about it. Stop focusing on what you don’t want and start focusing on what you do want. Get your attention onto something else. Refocus. Replace those memories by—every time they come up—start thinking about something else. Focus on something else.
What’s the best thing to focus on? God’s word. Psalm 1 says, “Happy are those…who are always meditating on God’s word. They’re like trees along a river…that do not dry up. They succeed in everything they do.”
Those are the two things that everybody wants in life. We all want to be happy and we all want to succeed. The antidote, the answer, the way we get those is the phrase right in the middle: meditating on God’s word. That’s the answer to the other two. The more you meditate on God’s word, the happier and more successful you’ll be in your Christian life. It’s a promise from God.
Meditating on God’s word simply means rehearsing God’s word in our minds. It’s interesting that the Bible does not say, If you read this book, you’ll be happy and successful. It does not say, If you listen to this book, like through a sermon, you’ll be happy and successful. It says, If you meditate on it you’ll be happy and successful. Meditating means I think on it over and over and what it means in my life. I consider it and consider its implications for my life. As we fill our mind with God’s word, it begins to change our mind. We stop seeing ourselves as other people see us or as we have seen ourselves and we begin to see ourselves as God does. That’s where the change takes place. That’s the power to start over.
T – Trust
Trust God to help you succeed. Depend on him. We don’t need to depend on ourselves. We’ve already proven that we can’t do it on our own. That’s why we’ve failed. Some people stumble and fall and then they get up and say, I’ll just try harder! It’s like you go up to a wall and bang your head against it and the wall doesn’t fall down. You try it again and Bang! Again. You keep doing it thinking, Maybe it will fall over this time. If we keep doing the same thing then we will keep getting the same result. We can’t change who we are, only God can do that. I am not speaking about the outward man but the inner man. The real person is the hidden person of the heart. Success in the Christian life is not trying harder, but living smarter. Giving God control of my life.
Zechariah 4:6 says, “You will not succeed by your own strength or power but by My Spirit,says the Lord.”
When someone becomes a Christian, they become a brand new person inside. They are not the same anymore. A new life has begun! God specialises in new beginnings. Jesus Christ has the power to do that. It’s called being born again, the chance to start over. We can have a fresh start with a new life. God says, I don’t want you to turn over a new leaf. I’m going to give you a whole new life.