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Day 17: Doing the Next Right Thing

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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. 1 Corinthians 10:13

How does someone transform their life? We’ve all been inspired by their rags to riches stories and their before and after pictures. But often it seems like that is “out there” and we are too busy just trying to “get by” to tackle major lifestyle changes.

But it’s really very simple when it comes down to it. How? Decide what you want. Do the next right thing.

Our lives are largely comprised of habits and rituals we have cemented over time. I was watching Queer Eye on Netflix with my daughter recently, a show where five guys come in and give another man a full makeover and help him transform his life. It’s a very heart-warming show. The gentleman who they were working with was in his mid-50s and was completely stuck.

His house was a mess. His appearance was haggard. He was depressed. And alone. He admitted to coming home from work, making the same dinner and a margarita, sitting in the same recliner in his bedroom and watching TV.

But he didn’t want that life. He felt he didn’t have any option. He had tried some dating sites that didn’t work out well for him. He was sad that he didn’t have someone to love and share his life with. He kept saying to the guys, “You can’t fix ugly.”

How easy it is to get stuck in negative thinking patterns. How easy it is to unconsciously do the same thing day after day without considering where those thoughts and decisions are taking us. It’s the difference between a wildly amazing and fulfilling life and a life lived in sorrow and mediocrity and regret.

Jesus says in response to the Pharasees who were trying to criticize his disciples for not washing their hands before eating, that it is not the externals that screw you up, but the internal thought world that will.

What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man. Mark 7: 20-23.

Again in Jeremiah 17:9 the prophet warns us saying, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Throughout His ministry here on earth it seems that his entire focus was to get us to stop focusing on the physical realm, and understand all of that shows up because of the spiritual realm. It is birthed through our continued attention on certain thoughts which stem from our beliefs. Thoughts are seeds planted in the heart and eventually they will sprout into your life. That is why guarding your thoughts is of utmost importance.

The gentleman described above who said, “You can’t fix ugly,” was living out that reality in his world. He allowed his unchecked thoughts to tell him he was not worthy. The seeds were planted in his heart. Then from a core belief that he is not worthy of happiness he created a life to match that belief. Unhealthy lifestyle. Disastrous environment. Alone.

We too have this same opportunity. We can choose to create or uncreate our destiny by choosing first the thoughts that align with what we truly want based on God’s word and what He says about us, over the deceitful, untrue, negative thoughts that spring out of our heart in it’s natural sinful state. I believe this is the highest duty we have as Christians. To manage our thought-life and bring it into alignment. Make it THE priority to see yourself as God sees you, to believe the things that God says are true about you, and to act based on those higher thoughts. Not allowing your impulsive and deceitful heart to run your life into the ground.

In Proverbs 4: 20-27 we are given the keys to transformation and right living.

20 My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
22 For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.

Take caution where you allow your attention to go. For where your focus goes, your energy flows. Identify areas where you have allowed yourself to stray from the path. Examine your heart and ask yourself why you have allowed it? What have you believed, falsely about yourself, that has created your current reality. Find scriptures that will be a light unto your path. And when those thoughts plague you, choose the higher thought. It’s deliberate action to shift your focus and your thinking. Repeatedly, one moment at a time, you can change your reality when you change what goes on between your ears and you are careful what seeds you plant in your heart.

By the end of the show, the hosts had restored his confidence. They had helped transform his house into a place worthy of having a companion there. They had poured love and compassion and compliments into his spirit throughout the program and his heart soaked it in. It was both an external and an internal transformation. He cried as they said goodbye.

You see, we all want to feel good. We all want to be seen. We all have the same basic human needs for connection and companionship and yet, sometimes we don’t know how to meet those needs. So we veer off the course and try to do things our own way. Or we get stuck in habits that don’t lead to the desires of our hearts.

Doing the next right thing is therefore not an action. It is often a thought. Choose the next right thought. Delay a decision that might take you off course. Say, “Just for today I will…” and choose the new, right habit, over the old, destructive one. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Take it one day at a time. A life rightly lived is only different because the small thoughts and choices have added up to a big difference.

Yes we can. One. Day. At. A. Time.

What do you want? What does your after picture look like in your mind? How will you get there? What thoughts do you need to give up? What new thoughts do you need to start believing about yourself and who God says you are? Find some scriptures to support that destiny and believe them over and over and over. Say them over and over and over. Plant those seeds in your heart and watch as your life become the “After” you always wanted.

Day 17 Lenten Love Prayer:

What power you have given me between my ears. I confess I have not managed my thought life to the best of my ability. In fact, up until now I was largely unaware of how crazy I have allowed myself to think at times. I’m grateful that your Word can be a light unto my path. That it can light up the thoughts and beliefs that don’t align with who You say that I am and that I can choose to shift my focus and thinking to the Truth of being a worthy and loved child of God. Help me today to be aware of when I allow my thinking to slip into negativity and untruth. Help me to catch it and replace the thought with Your thoughts. Let me see every time I do that, a seed being planted in my heart that will yield a harvest of a beautiful and fruitful life that is pleasing to you. May I be of maximum service in all that I do, starting with my commitment to a right thought life. I know with your help I can do it. One day at a time.

Day 17 Scripture:

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14: 26-27