Coping with change: Part 4 - Hope 103.2

Coping with change: Part 4

Morning Devotions is for those curious about the Christian faith and who want to explore Christian issues that relate to their daily life.

By Chris WittsThursday 13 Feb 2014Morning Devotions with Chris WittsLifeReading Time: 0 minutes


Romans 8:28 (NLT)
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

I’ve lived through the seventies,eighties and nineties,and now in the first decade of a new millennium. And I know some of you have me beat. But even in my lifetime I have surfed many waves of change. I’ve seen in my lifetime room-sized computers get shrunk to the size of a deck of cards. I remember the heyday of disco. There was a time I had to get up to change the channel. But that’s okay… there weren’t that many channels to choose from. I even remember life prior to post-it notes. Post-it notes didn’t come on the scene until 1981. What did we ever do before we had post-it notes? 
Just think about some of the changes in the past 70-80 years. Electricity and plumbing and telephones in every home. Televisions weren’t introduced in Canada until the 1940s,colour television a few decades after that. (In the U.S.,introduced in the 1930s – Today we have email,cell phones,Blackberries. We can communicate pretty much anywhere on the planet at anytime,and we can do it all wirelessly. It’s amazing.

Change happens. In fact,I think the only constant in life is change.  I think this is something every one of us here can relate to. We’ve all seen change,and we’ve all experienced change.

Like when you started that new job,or went to a different school,when you moved to a new house in a new city,when you got married,when you retired… no matter who you are or how long you’ve been around,you know what change is all about. But we all experience change,sometimes big,sometimes small.

Have you had a nasty experience with change in your circumstances?  We all have these changes in our lives,often planned or expected,but not always… these changes that kind of upset the balance of our lives,we’re a little afraid or intimidated by them,we’re stressed out over them,and we’re not quite sure how to handle them.

Those are the kinds of changes we’re talking about this morning.

When Making Big Life Changes:

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1.    Seek God’s direction

Sounds obvious doesn’t it ..but really there’s a lot of wisdom to it.  Because for you and me,when it comes to making major life decisions we really have a limited perspective. I mean,even when we gather as much information as possible and try to account for all available options,and even when we’re pretty confident in our decision making abilities,we still don’t see the big picture. But God does. God is all-knowing,His wisdom has no limits,He’s full of love and compassion,and He wants the best for you and for me.

1 Corinthians 1:25 (NIV)
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom…

Which is basically saying that God knows better than we do,even on our best day and His worst day. We can trust His judgment,we can trust His direction. It’s 100% reliable.

So how do you do this? How do you find out what His direction is? Does it mean you have to stop and pray before every little decision? Valuable spiritual habits.

But when I talk about seeking God’s direction,I’m talking about in all of life. I’m basically talking about walking in step with Him. I’m talking about getting to know Him,reading His Word,talking with Him regularly… just as an ordinary part of your life. Learn about His character and His priorities and His values. Start living according to the clear principles found in the Bible.
And then,when it comes to making those big decisions in your life… you’re already walking in step with God. And you begin to intuitively sense what decisions He would have you make.

In Genesis 12,God clearly gave direction to Abraham,  Genesis 12:1 (NLT) The Lord had said to Abram,”Leave your native country,your relatives,and your father’s family,and go to the land that I will show you.”

Pretty big change for Abraham,and pretty clear direction from God. Wouldn’t it be nice if God verbally spoke to all of us when we had a decision to make?

Well,when you have a decision to make,I don’t think you’ve going to see sky-writing about what to do – though it’s certainly nice when that happens. But you can develop a relationship with God where you begin to think God’s thoughts after Him,and you become sensitive to His promptings.

Psalm 119:105 (NLT)  Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

So just in general,when it comes to making any decision,seek God’s direction. Because His direction is always best.

2.    Use common sense in making decisions

Now that’s not too earth shattering,is it? But it’s amazing how many people don’t seem to use common sense and think things through.

You know,in the Bible,you don’t always see people praying before making big decisions. Again,that should be a normal part of your life,where you’re consistently living in communication with Him under the influence and sensitive to the promptings of God. But I also believe that God gave us the ability to think and He gave it to us for a reason. I wholeheartedly believe that there are decisions He trusts us to make. We have brains and God expects us to use them. Often we have to make the best decision based on the information we have at that time.

Think about the Apostle Paul. Paul was essentially a travelling missionary. He went from city to city,telling people about Jesus,and establishing communities of Christ-followers in every city as he went.  Well,there were times that He would sense God’s leading to go to this city or that city,or when to stay for a while,but there were also times when it appears that he just made the decision on His own. For example…

Titus 3:12 (NLT)  I am planning to send either Artemas or Tychicus to you. As soon as one of them arrives,do your best to meet me at Nicopolis,for I have decided to stay there for the winter.

So Paul’s travelling around,but winter’s coming when it’s not going to be as easy or as safe to travel,so he’s going to hold up in Nicopolis for the winter. Seems like a perfectly reasonable and logical decision that Paul was able to make on his own.

In 1 Corinthians,Paul writes about making a decision to get married. He advises people,”If you’re not married,then don’t feel you have to get married. If you’re content being single,stay single.” But then he says,”If you can’t handle being single and want to get married,then get married.”

So what I take from that is,sometimes you just have to make a decisions. Sure,pray about it. Gather some information. Ask for some advice. But then decide.

3.    Look back fondly,but move forward

You may have had had a major life change – maybe it’s something you planned for,maybe it’s a decision you made,or maybe it’s just something that happened to you – and you start to look back thinking,”Oh,if only I could turn back time.” And you kind of become anchored to a reality that no longer exists. You’re just living in the past,and it paralyses you from moving forward.

Look,whether your past was great or it was terrible,it’s still the past. And as Zig Ziglar is famous for saying…

“Yesterday ended last night.”
~ Zig Ziglar

The disciples of Jesus spent three terrific years with Him. During that time,they saw things they had never seen before and learned things they never would have imagined. I’m sure they would have been happy for that to go on for the rest of their lives.

But the time came when Jesus knew He would be leaving them. And so He was trying to prepare His disciples for that to happen,and they weren’t exactly happy about it. They didn’t want Jesus to leave; they couldn’t imagine going on without Him. And that’s when Jesus told them…

John 14:12 (NLT)  “I tell you the truth,anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done,and even greater works,because I am going to be with the Father.”

So Jesus tells them,”Listen,we’ve had some great time together. We’ve done marvellous things,you’ve seen the power of God at work,and you’ve grown a lot. But there are even greater things ahead. Life is about to change,but don’t dwell in the past. Keep moving forward.”

How many people do you know who live in the past? Do you even find yourself doing that? For those of us who struggle with this,we need to heed the words found in…

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God,through Christ Jesus,is calling us.

I can look back fondly,grateful for the positive experiences of my past. But my focus must be forward.