Encouragement for Today, November 3, 2003

Getting Rid of Old Habits

Sharon Jaynes


Key Verse: 


“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approver what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will” Romans 12:2




Of all the activities ten-year-old Miriam enjoyed, she loved riding horses the best.  Charlie, her favorite horse, had a sleek chestnut mane, well-defined muscular legs, and a fierce strong will to match.  Miriam felt powerful and self-assured when controlling this massive animal – except, that is, when he caught a glimpse of the barn.  Whenever Miriam and Charlie returned from a jaunt in the woods, as soon as they got close enough for him to see the barn, he bolted homeward, forcing Miriam to hang on to the reins for dear life.


One day, Miriam’s riding instructor witness this strong willed animal taking control of his master.  She was indignant.


“Miriam! What are you doing?” she asked.  “You can not let that animal control you in that manner!  Bring that horse back out of the barn this instant.”


Dutifully, Miriam mounted Charlie and led him a distance away from the stalls. 


“Now,” the older wiser woman instructed, “when you turn around and Charlie sees the barn and begins to run toward it, turn you reins all the way to the right.  Do no let him go forward.”


On cue, Miriam steered her horse toward the stalls.  On cue, he began to bolt. 


“Turn him! Turn him!” the instructor shouted.


Young Miriam pulled the reins to the right as hard as she could until the horse’s head was inches away from touching his right shoulder.  But instead of obeying her lead, Charlie fought her with the force of a war horse.  Round and round the horse and rider circled.


“Don’t let go,” the instructor shouted.  “You must break his will!”


After ten long minutes, of going in circles, Miriam and Charlie grew exhausted and quite dizzy.  He stopped circling.  She stopped pulling him to the right.


“Now gently tap him to see if he will walk toward the barn instead of run,” the instructor commanded.


Charlie did not bolt, but walked at a steady pace.  Miriam had broken the horse’s will and she now regained control of this beautiful animal as he submitted to his master’s touch.


Just like Miriam’s horse that had a tendency to bolt toward the barn because it was the pattern he had developed after many months, we tend to fall back into old habits and patterns.  This tendency can only be broken when we are walking by the Spirit and yielding to our Master’s touch.  But I have to warn you!  Sometimes you might find yourself going in circles as the Master tries to break your will.


This new way of walking begins by developing a new way of thinking.  Then as we begin to replace old thought patterns with new godly thought patterns, we begin to walk in the right direction.


My Prayer for Today: 


Dear Lord, help me not to continue in old thought and habit patterns that are harmful and ungodly.  Rein me in when I run ahead of You and spur me on when I lag behind.  I give the reins to You to do with my life what You will.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Application Steps:


Evaluate your life and see if there are areas where you seem to be going in circles. 


Could it be God is trying to get your attention and lead you into a different direction?


Write down on a piece of paper an old habit pattern that you know God is asking you to change.  (This could be negative speech, critical spirit, smoking, or any number of things).


Reflection Points:


Is God calling me to change an old habit pattern in my life?


Where and when were those old thought patterns established in my life?


Does it make sense that by being a new creation God would have me establish new habit patterns?  Explain.


Who is holding the reins in my life right this moment?  God or me?


Reading about King David’s life in the Bible, can you see the difference in the outcome of his days when he took control instead of allowing God to take control?


Power Verses:


Romans 7:15-24 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 1And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (NIV)


Romans 7:24, 25 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! (NIV)


Galatians 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (NIV)


Galatians 5:22-24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (NIV)


Psalm 32:9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding

but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. 10Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. (NIV)


Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.  (NIV)


Additional Resources:


Ultimate Makeover by Sharon Jaynes


Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed  by Lysa TerKeurst


Coming Out of the Dark by Mary Southerland




Originally published Monday, 10 November 2003.