Faith that Replaces My Bad Habits 2

Faith that Works series…
James 2:18 NLT
18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

Faith that doesn’t work is useless

So far, we have learned how to have a faith that isn’t defeated by problems… problems test our faith; develop our endurance; grow our character… rejoice in our problems; Ask God for Wisdom; Trust God to help us; Remember and rest upon God’s promises.
We have also learned how our faith can make tough choices easier. When we put our faith in God, he gives us wisdom (God first, Apply WOG, Surround self with Godly people); He frees us from doubts; he acts on our behalf; He uses my mistakes.
This week we will continue with a faith that replaces my bad habits. When we are under extreme stress, as we all are during most of this year so far, we begin to look for and practice coping strategies … not all of which are good for us that will ease our anxiety. Unfortunately, most of the time, our strategies make things worse and they become bad habits. James, who was dealing with persecution from the Roman Empire, is going to give us some steps we can take to prevent ourselves from developing bad habits that are self defeating and leave us discouraged and defeated. Today we will learn how our faith can replace bad habits with good ones.
This week, we will finish the study of How our Faith replaces my bad habits. Last week, we began to look at how when we are under stress, we begin to develop coping behaviors, most of which are bad habits.
James 1:13–16 NLT
13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. 16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.
The point I want to make is this...
We are not Powerless to temptations that come our way.
1 John 5:4–5 NLT
4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. 5 And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
John is telling us that we can defeat the evil in this world. We know that we will never be perfect, but we can defeat evil.
If you have a particular habit, or a particular temptation, or particular distraction that is your downfall and you tend to go back to it over and over every time you're under stress, you're probably going to have that the rest of your life. But you are not helpless.
Last week we learned

1. We need to know our “go-to” coping strategies

These might be eating… drinking… sleeping… drugs… angry outbursts… porn

2. We need to learn our emotional triggers.

Emotions are powerful triggers. The devil uses negative emotions. Lonely… discontented… empty… wounded… hurt… bitter…

3. We need to learn our patterns of temptation.

When, Where, Who, What, How
And then once we learn all of that,

4. Plan to avoid those situations.

Proverbs 4:26–27 GNB
26 Plan carefully what you do, and whatever you do will turn out right. 27 Avoid evil and walk straight ahead. Don’t go one step off the right way.

5. Ask God for Help

He is willing, waiting and wanting to help you. If you are having daily times with God, microwave prayers are ok. That just can’t be the extent of your prayer life. The bible is full of people who prayed quick prayers…
Psalm 50:15 GNB
15 Call to me when trouble comes; I will save you, and you will praise me.”
Call… to cry out to God. We need to pray all the time, but in an emergency… you are being tempted… cry out for help. Jesus understands…
Hebrews 4:15–16 GNB
15 Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. 16 Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.
Jesus faced every temptation you and I have faced or ever will face so he understands, but he did not sin. That means he struggled with fatiguelonelinessanger… all of it.
Ask God for help

6. Refocus my attention on something else

When you are being tempted, don’t try to fight the temptation. Choose to focus on something else. Replace the negative with a positive.
If you don’t like a program on TV, change channels.
The reason most people struggle and are defeated by temptations is because we try to resist the temptations instead of refocusing. What you focus on becomes bigger and bigger. The more you think about it, the more attractive it will become. When you focus on NOT eating desert, you focus on desert and you want it more and more. You have to change your focus. Get your mind interested in something else. Change the channel of your mind…
Romans 12:21 GW
21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil with good.
This is the principle of replacement… not resistance. You don’t resist evil… you replace it. You don’t resist temptation… you replace it… you refocus. If you fill your mind with good thoughts, there is no room for negative thoughts and you will feel better.
Temptation always begins with a thought.
James 1:15 The Living Bible
15 These evil thoughts lead to evil actions and afterwards to the death penalty from God.
Evil thoughts lead to evil actions.
They start by getting your attention… advertisers do this. Then it moves from attention to desires being aroused and then to action. Whatever gets your attention gets you.
How many times has someone said, Hey are you hungry right now and the response been, well now that you mention it… yes. Cold? yes… upset? yes…
Whatever you think about gets stronger and stronger in it’s hold on you. You don’t have to be upset… it’s a choice. You choose to think about upsetting thoughts so you feel upset. You need to refocus.
The more you fight a feeling the more it controls you.
They key is not to fight it, but to refocus and replace it. When you ignore it… refocus away from it, it grows weaker. This is why the Bible says we are to capture every thought....
2 Corinthians 10:5 NCV
5 and every proud thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.
This takes practice. You have to control your thoughts. Some people don’t ever try to control their thoughts. They are so open minded that their brains fall out. They let all sorts of things flow through their minds. They worry about every type of pollution except brain pollution.
Everything you allow into your mind, impacts you… every movie… every song… everything.
You can’t stop temptations from being put in your mind, but you can reject and change the focus of your thoughts.
You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop him from building a nest.
If a thought pops in your mind, don’t dwell on it… refocus.
Have you ever had a thought pop in your mind and go … wow where did that come from? It probably came from the devil.
Thoughts come from God, the devil and yourself. You get to choose which to believe and not believe. You and Satan will both lie… God never lies to you. Worthless… scriptures that show your value...Can’t do something… scriptures that show you can… Don’t try to fight and argue with the devil… he will win. You must refocus your thoughts…

7. Get plugged into our church

You were never meant to fight your battles alone. We are better together than we are apart.
Hebrews 10:25 GNB
25 Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.
The purpose of us getting together is to encourage each other. I know it’s tough when you are being asked to stay home as much as possible, but you can plug in on Sundays and Wednesdays… you can touch base with people. You can join a group when we start them back.

8. Get at least one friend to share your struggle

Get someone you can share your struggle with… someone who loves you no matter what and who will help you in your struggle. You will not have victory over that persistent temptation.... the one you continuously fall into… fear… anxiety… worry… guilt… low self-esteem… anorexia… pornography… whatever.
You can’t win on your own so enlist someone you can trust to help you.
Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 GNB
9 Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. 10 If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it’s just too bad, because there is no one to help him.
During this pandemic, Check up on your friends. Give them permission to check up on you. You don’t have to tell everybody your secrets struggles, but you should tell someone you can trust.
Galatians 6:2 NCV
2 By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ.
Help each other.

9. Always remember, God is on your side

1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT
13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
We all have the same temptations. Common temptations mean there are common solutions. He promises that he will never allow you to go through more than you can handle with his help. He promises to always show you a way out of the temptation.
So when someone says they couldn’t help themselves… they are not letting God help them because hr promises to help…
James 1:12 NLT
12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Not sure what all the crown of life is, but it’s going to be good. You know it’s good when we get Jesus.
You may struggle with some of these, but you don’t have to stay the same… It’s never too late with God to get a re-boot… to start over.
2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
PrayerLearn my go to coping strategies.Learn my emotional triggersDiscover my patterns of temptation.Plan to Avoid those situationsAsk you God for helpRefocus my thoughts and attentionGet plugged in at churchEnlist a friend to share my struggleRemember that God is on my side.
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