Today’s scripture: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Jeff Miner):

Here’s a startling statistic. Dr. Edward Miller, former Dean of the medical school at John Hopkins University did a famous study of patients with serious heart disease who were told their disease would kill them unless they changed their lifestyle by eating healthier and exercising more. Guess what percentage of people in the study changed their lifestyle? Only 10%. 90% found it easier to die prematurely than to change their life patterns!

Message: Changing ourselves is extraordinarily hard. We resolve to make positive change in our lives, but within a few weeks the overwhelming power of deeply ingrained patterns reassert themselves. So why even try?

Because sometimes miracles do happen.

Some of you know Randy King? He’s a Deacon at LifeJourney. I share his story because he himself is very public about it. A couple years ago, his doctor told him that he was at a critical point: lose significant weight or your life will be cut short. Randy had heard that before, tried before, and failed. But his love for his grandkids compelled him to try again. And for some reason, this time was different. I’ve lost track of exactly how much weight Randy has lost, but somewhere around 100 pounds and still going. When you see Randy, you see a different person.

Message: Changing ourselves is extraordinarily hard, but with God all things are possible.

Today’s Scripture passage is a parable about change. In it, Jesus describes 4 categories of people who seek spiritual change in their lives. Notice that people in 3 out of 4 of the categories fail. They quickly fall back into old patterns of spiritual complacency. But 1 out of 4 do succeed!

Message: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Even if you’ve failed 3 times before, the fourth time may be a charm — or the 20th or the 30th. Learn from your past mistakes and give it another shot. What critical change is God calling you to attempt? This year I’m going to…

  • Become an every-Sunday church attender.
  • Lose 25 pounds and keep it off.
  • Finally summon the energy to look for a job that feels more meaningful.
  • Break a negative pattern of thought that has long held me back and replace it with its positive opposite.
  • Achieve a better work/life balance.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What critical change is God calling you to attempt?

Thought for the day: The most important changes in life usually require multiple false starts before victory is finally achieved. Summon the courage to try again!

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.