TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6b NKJV)
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• My dog (Beth) has gotten into a very bad habit at bedtime. She resists going out to potty “just one more time” with the determined stubbornness of a 4-year-old who never wants to go to the bathroom. But instead, she waits until she gets her nightly medicine… swallows her pill pockets… decides she’s thirsty… and thinks, “Oh, while I’m up, I’m ready to go out now.” The likelihood of this occurring pretty much quadruples if I’ve already gone to bed.
I try not to be mad at her. Beth is an elderly dog. She’s the sweetest girl with such a gentle heart, and I absolutely adore her. I know she’s not trying to frustrate me on purpose. But when I’m tired, grumpy is a close companion. So I grumble at her. Then I feel guilty, so I remind her that she’s a good girl and she’s the best doggie ever. I can’t stay mad at her…
Especially when her stubborn willfulness so closely models my own. Yeah, if I’m being honest, I can be just as hard-headed and easily fall into (or back into) bad habits.
It’s so frustrating. Like everyone, I have my own personal brands of sins and I struggle with them. From being short-tempered and snappy to prideful and arrogant… the list goes on… and on and on and on some more. And every time I think I’m finally getting a handle on things, my stubborn, want-things-my-way willfulness raises its ugly head. And I fall back into the bad habits I want to break.
I take comfort from the words of Paul in Romans 7:15-25. They are, in my opinion, some of the most raw and vulnerable words in Scripture… to me, the transparency of Paul’s emotions are in the same category of Psalms and even the words of the desperate father in Mark 9:24 (one of my favorite stories from the Gospels). His honest emotions humanize him. We tend to put Paul on a pedestal. After all — he really seemed to get what it means to be totally sold out for Jesus! But he was a flesh-and-blood sinful human just like the rest of us. I am grateful for these verses that show the transparency of his own sin struggles! Because like Paul, I do what I DON’T want to do! I relate to his cry of frustration in verse 24, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Let’s go to Philippians 1:6b. It says, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Doesn’t that verse get you excited?! We may mess up, but God won’t give up on us! We are works in progress… We are new creations in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). We may slip, but we are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:6). We are being transformed (2 Corinthians 3:18). We don’t have to be defeated by bad habits.
I loved how Charles Stanley summarized this, “God is faithful to finish what He starts. Once we accept Christ as our Savior, the work of sanctification begins.” (Sanctification means the action of making something holy or set apart.) Dr. Stanley continued, “And [sanctification] continues. There is always more to walking with God than what we’ve known, seen, learned, or experienced.”
Wow. Let that sink in.
Then, we have the promise from 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
While I should work daily to get past my own willful stubbornness, the battle isn’t uniquely my own. We all face this battle every day in one form or another. But like Paul, we don’t have to stay there. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us, our willfulness is replaced with the desire to follow God’s will. Of course, mistakes will still happen, but we aren’t stuck in our own sinful habits, even if it seems that way at times. We can break free, and we have the promise of His forgiveness when we repent and ask for it.
I may not be able to teach my old dog new tricks, but if I’m willing, I can be taught. The Holy Spirit can do amazing things in my life when I surrender my own willfulness. And there’s no better guide and teacher than the Holy Spirit.
Today, as you pray, thank God for His extraordinary patience with you. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep molding you in the image of Christ and ask Him to help you overcome the sins that keep trying to overtake you. Ask Him for a heart that seeks God’s will and not your own.
SHARING ••• My Grace-Full Life is written by Denise Heidel. You are welcome to share anything I write, but please credit my writing and graphics accordingly. Visit www.MyGraceFullLife.com to read past blogs. Subscribe through my website to have My Grace-Full Life delivered to your email. You can unsubscribe at any time. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the NKJV translation.