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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - Break the Cycle That's Breaking Your Life

Craig Groeschel - Break the Cycle That's Breaking Your Life

Craig Groeschel - Break the Cycle That's Breaking Your Life
Craig Groeschel - Break the Cycle That's Breaking Your Life
TOPICS: The Power to Change, Habits

Well, when you think about it, nobody plans to mess up their lives. Right? Nobody plans to mess up their life. Nobody says, "It's like my five-year goal to really screw things up big time". But people mess up their lives all the time. And when they do mess up their lives, a lot of times, other people look on and will summarize what could be months or even years or decades of unwise decisions. They'll often look on and summarize a whole season of somebody's life in one sentence. Nobody plans to mess up their life, but people do. And when they do it, it takes a long time to do it. It's often summarized in one sentence. They might say, "Well, his sex addiction was outta control and his wife left him". One sentence. Or, "Man, she started using again and she lost her job and eventually lost her marriage". Or, "He always battled with his weight and he ended up dying in his mid 50s of a heart attack".

Nobody plans to mess up their life, but they do it all the time. And then often what takes years or even decades, people summarize it with one sentence as if they just had one bad day. But when you think about it, it's very rare that people end up at a bad place all at once. How do people mess up their lives? They do it one bad decision, they do it one wrong step, and they do it one harmful habit at a time. One unwise decision, one wrong step, one bad habit at a time. And I'm gonna show you today in scripture an example, you can shout out the character in the Bible if you figure it out, you can type it online if you figure it out as well.

But this guy's for the Old Testament, I'll give you some clues. He was a guy with amazing hair, amazing strength, amazing potential, Pastor Craig. He ended up... not Pastor Craig, that's not amazing here. Man, you got one on the front row, it's always the deal. Very good, very good, very good. I forgot where I was, he had amazing hair. He had amazing strength. He ended up losing his amazing hair. He lost his strength, he lost his sight. He lost his name, he lost his life. Who we talking about? Sampson. Talking about Sampson, right? It raises a really interesting question. Sampson, how did someone with so much potential end up so broken, living a life that was completely devastated? The answer is he didn't do it all at once. What did he do? He did it one bad decision, one wrong step, one harmful habit at a time. To be specific, it was probably about 56,250 steps in the wrong direction. I'll explain it to you. He didn't mess up his life all at once. It was a lot of unhelpful, unhealthy decisions and habits.

And you read, summarized in one sentence, the beginning of his destruction in "Judges," chapter 16 verse one, that says, "One day," everybody say, "one day". One day. You can type that in the comments section online. One day, one day, one day. "One day, Sampson went to Gaza where he saw a prostitute". One day, he made what was his first bad decision that led to other bad decisions that led to ongoing bad habits that led to a life of destruction. I did a little research on where he was born and where he traveled to. He was in Zorah and he traveled all the way down to Gaza. It raises the thought, how does somebody with so much potential end up in enemy territory where he was public enemy number one? And how does someone with so much going for them allow their life to unravel one bad decision at a time? How did someone so talented, with the Hand of God on him in such a special way, end up so far from home and risk so much for so little?

And the answer, he did it step by step by step 25 miles from Zorah to Gaza, or the equivalent of 56,250 steps is about what it would take to walk 25 miles. No one plans to mess up their life. No one plans to live paycheck to paycheck for year after year after year, struggling just to stay alive financially. No one dreams of doing a job that they absolutely hate, living an undisciplined life of mediocrity. No one plans to have Christmas without their children. But it happens far too often. And what I wanna tell you is it doesn't have to be this way.

We're in a message series called The Power to Change, and I wanna review where we've been and add a principle to our study that can be very, very helpful today. Let's review our main thoughts. If we go back to week number one, how do we actually change? And we learn the principle that real and lasting change isn't behavior modification, but spiritual transformation. If we just change the behavior without changing the heart, the behavior tends to come back. So real and lasting change isn't behavior modification, but spiritual transformation. And in week one, we started with identity. If you remember, why do you do what you do? The reason that you do what you do, you do what you do because of what you think of you. And so in the first week, we started with our spiritual who. Who do you wanna become? Who is it that God's calling you to be? Who is it that you want to be empowered by God to live a life that is worthy of giving him praise?

Then we talked about not just our spiritual who but our spiritual why. In other words, we don't wanna just look good physically to look good in our bikinis or on the beach. We actually want to honor God because our body's a temple of the Holy Spirit. Or we don't just wanna have financial flexibility. We wanna honor God by being wise stewards with what he entrusts to us. So we don't just have our earthly why, but we have a spiritual why. We have a spiritual who, we have a spiritual why. Last week we looked at our spiritual what. You remember, we talked about our habit. And the key question last week was this, based on who you want to become, what one habit do you need to start. Based on who you wanna become, what one habit do you need to start?

So we had our spiritual WHO, our spiritual WHY, our spiritual WHAT, and today we're gonna look at our spiritual WHAT NOT. And our question for today is very, very important and I want to give you a moment to think about it. Our question is this, based on who you want to become, what one habit do you need to break? Why do you do what you do? You do what you do because of what you think of you. Based on who you want to become and the spiritual why behind you wanna become that, what one habit is stopping you from becoming more of who God wants you to be? Just think about it for a moment and give yourself a second to think about what habit has been haunting you maybe for years? And you've tried to stop before and you haven't been able to stop, and you don't know why you haven't been able to stop and you wanna stop but you can't stop. Based on who you want to become, what habit do you need to break?

And "James," chapter one, verse 21 says this, I love this. Scripture says, "Get rid of every filthy habit". Don't entertain it, don't tolerate it. Don't just say, "It's just the way I am," but get rid of it. "And all the wicked conduct," how do we do this? We don't do it on our own, but we submit to God, to His authority, to His word, to His present, to His power. We submit to God and we accept the word that He plants in your hearts, which is able to save you. We get rid of anything that is not pleasing to God. We submit to Him, we accept His living, powerful word that dwells within us. He plants it in our heart. And that word is able to save you and transform you. You can renew your mind, be transformed by the renewing of your mind, and then you can test and improve what God's will is for your life. I want you to be specific. Based on who you wanna become, what one habit do you need to break? Define it, why does it matter? Because you cannot defeat what you do not define.

Define it, what is the habit that you want to break? And based on a lot of people I interact with, there are some common ones that you might want to address. Some people might say it would be their diets, what you eat or don't eat. You might want to say, "I want fewer sweets". That's very specific. Or you might say, "I wanna cut down on carbs". Or, "No more fast food". For you, it might be digital instead. You don't wanna play video games for your entire life. Maybe you do, but your wife doesn't want you to.

So better listen to that. Or maybe you wanna limit your time on social media. Your life is too valuable and you're calling is too great to waste your life on things that don't last. Or you might have an addiction to porn and you need to get that out of your life. It's ruining you, poisoning you, hurting your relationship. It could be a substance issue in your life, that there's some substance that's taken over your life. You might be abusing prescription medicine or you might be trying to quit smoking. You haven't been able to quit smoking, or maybe it's alcohol and you think it's not that big of a deal. But I'll tell you right now, if more than one person that loves you and cares about you has raised a concern about some substance in your life, you probably would be wise to pay attention. It may be something that's not as visible on the outside, but is very real on the inside. It may be your attitude. You got some habitual attitudes that are robbing you from the life and joy that God wants to give you.

Maybe you just got a critical spirit, like you got the spiritual gift of criticism. You can pick anything and everything apart. You've already given the 15 reasons why you don't like being here today or whatever it is. Or you've got a complaining heart, nothing's good enough for you. You're always complaining. Or maybe it's a gossiping tongue. Based on who you want to become, what one habit do you need to break? Do you want me to tell you what I've been working on? Yes. I'll tell you. I don't know when you guys get this from your phone, if you do, Sunday morning, I don't know if it's for everybody, but my phone tells me how much time I spent on there during the week. I don't know if it's that way for everybody or maybe I programmed it.

So Sunday morning, it'll tell me this is how much time I've been on there. I look at it and go, "Every day, I spent that much time on there"? I did a little research and my time on there is actually slightly less than average, but it's way more than I wanna be on my phone. So I got really serious about it and I said, next week, I'm not gonna be on my phone much at all. So I got my iPad out where it didn't count. You gotta be creative in this game, right? And so I actually got my time down on my phone and the next week, I went back, and my numbers were actually up from the week before. I've got this really, really good intention and yet my follow-through is not good. This raises an important question. Why is it that good habits are really difficult to start? And why is it that bad habits are really difficult to break?

I wanna talk about it because this is important to understand. Why is it that good habits are difficult to start? The reason is because the pain is now and the payoff is later. If you're gonna have a good habit, it's difficult now. Like, let's say you wanna get in shape and so you're gonna become a jogger. And so you get the shoes and you get up in the morning and you go, "I'm gonna go jogging in the morning". And you wake up in the morning and it's cold out, baby. And then you start jogging and your feet hurt and your legs hurt, and then you go and you weigh on your scale at the end of the week and you weigh about the same thing. The pain is now and the payoff is later. Why is it that bad habits are difficult to break? And the answer is the reverse. Because with bad habits, the payoff is now and the pain comes later, right? Like the chocolate cake and ice cream tastes really, really good now.

And then the bad doctor's report or whatever comes later. For me, I don't wanna be a slave to this. That's right. I don't wanna be a slave to this. And I did a little bit of research and I want to show you what I found out. And for those of you who have not been convicted yet, you might be about to be convicted. The average person spends a little less than four hours a day on their phone. Let me show you some math. I did this with a calculator, just so you know. Four hours a day on your phone times 365 days a year equals how much time do you spend? You spend about 14,060 hours a year on your device, staring at a screen.

Let's look at the next one. 14,060 hours times, let's just say 60 years. Let's say you get a phone at 15 because your parents are really mean and they won't let you have one when you're 12. And so you don't get one until you're 15 and you actually die at 75. And so you're only on 60 years. Most people, it'll be longer than this. 1,460 hours times 60 years equals 87,600 hours. How much real time is that? Well, 86,600 hours divided by a normal 24-hour day means the average person will spend about 3,650 days or 10 years of your God given life staring at a screen. And that's why most people don't ruin their lives all at once. They do it one bad habit, one bad decision at a time. So based on who you wanna become, I wanna be a godly man engaged with the people around me, not a godly man engaged with Instagram. Based on who you wanna become, what one bad habit do you need to break?

If you were with us last week, we talked about how do you start a good habit? And we said, let's make that easy. So we're gonna do the opposite for a bad habit. We're not gonna make it easy, we're gonna make it difficult. And what we're gonna do is we're going to remove the cue, because we're always cued to do something. My phone bings or I just look at it, it's right there. We're gonna remove the cue. Scripture says this in "Proverbs," chapter four verses 14 and 15, "Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers". Don't even get close to that which would be harmful to your relationship with God, to your spiritual power. "Don't set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers".

Now watch how direct Solomon is. "Avoid it. Don't travel on it. Turn from it, and go on your way". In other words, if you're not listening now, like don't step foot on it, avoid it. Don't travel on it, turn from it. Go on your way. If you're not listening, I'll tell you once, I'll tell you again, I'll tell you again, I'll tell you again, remove the cue. Don't get close to it, don't get near it. Don't travel on it. Turn from it, remove the cue. We looked last week at the habit cycle and we know that anytime you get in a habit, there's always a cycle. The first thing that triggers your habit is the cue. You see donuts, you crave donuts, you eat a donut, you get a sugar high, and you get a habit loop. There's always a cue.

If you want to break a bad habit, you remove the cue. If you wanna stop what you do, you remove the cue. Get the phone outta your room. Take it away, you remove the cue. And what I wanna do is I wanna show you five of the most common cues so you can recognize very specifically when your spiritual enemy will tempt you and when you become most vulnerable to being cued to do the things that you don't want to do. The five most common cues would be these. First of all is when you go to a certain place, you're cued, you're triggered to act in a certain way. There's also certain times of the day you're more vulnerable to certain activities. There's certain moods when you're more vulnerable. There's also certain moments where you might do the wrong thing. And finally, there's certain people that when you're around them, you end up doing things that you probably wish you wouldn't do.

Let's talk about 'em one by one. We'll start first of all with places. There are certain places that will trigger you to do the wrong thing. For example, if you're wanting to eat right, you probably don't overeat at the gym, right? Where do you overeat? At the all-you-can-eat buffet where you're trying to be a good steward and get your money's worth to honor God by being a good financial steward, right? Or talk about places, if you're trying not to get high, most of you, I've actually heard of a few people that do this, but most of you don't get high at church, right? I mean, some of you might, but most people don't. Where do you get high? You get high at a party or something like that. The places matter.

Think about Sampson. Sampson didn't sleep with a prostitute in his hometown. He took 56,250 steps away from where he was into enemy territory. If there's certain places, just don't go there. That's right. It's not worth it. You stay away from those places. The second thing would be times of the day. You'll notice that you'll often generally do the wrong things at similar times. For example, if you have a battle of looking at pornography, my guess is most of you don't look at pornography in the morning when you're doing your YouVersion Bible app. It's probably not the time of day you do it. It's probably late at night when you're tired, when you're mad about something, when you're worn down and when you need something to distract you.

HALT is the thing that people talk about in the mood, H-A-L-T, which stands for this, it stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired, when you're most vulnerable. You're vulnerable when you're hungry. I'm hungry a lot, I mean, I'm vulnerable. When you're angry at somebody, you're very vulnerable. When you're lonely late at night or when you're tired, there are certain moments that you're more vulnerable. You're very vulnerable in these moments. It might be that you do the same thing in certain types of moments, like after a fight with your husband, you do the same thing. You call your girlfriends and you bash all the men. That's what you do, for the glory of God, to talk bad about 'em. Or after your softball game, you go out with your buddies, and you all get drunk together.

That's what you do after the softball game. It's a moment in time. Or after you flunk a test, you eat dessert to console yourself. Or after you pass a test, you eat dessert to celebrate that you passed the test, right? There's certain moments where you tend to do the same thing over and over again. What you wanna do is you wanna look and say, "At what places am I vulnerable"? Stay away. "At what times am I vulnerable"? Let's be wise during these times, let's remove the cue. And, "What moves trigger me at what moments"? And then finally, one of the strongest tempting factors is the people that we're around.

And studies are fascinating on this. Studies are conclusive that the closer you are to someone, the more likely you are to have the same habits as a person that you're around. The closer you are to someone, the more likely you're to behave in a very similar way to them. In fact, they tracked 12,000 people in this fascinating study for 12 years. 12,000 people for 32 years. And they found at the end of this time period, your chances of being overweight increased by 57% if you had a friend that was overweight. If you're just around them and you go to the same kind of place and eat the same kind of plates, the chances are that you're gonna become like the people that you're around. And then the flip side was true as well.

If one friend in a group loses weight, the other friends lose weight one third of the time because you tend to become like those that you're around. Studies show it, scripture said it a long time before the studies came out. The Bible says, "Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm". If you find yourself often doing the wrong thing around a certain group of people, you might want to change the people that you're hanging out with the most. What we're gonna do is we're gonna watch for the cues. What are they? We're gonna remove the cue, whatever they are. Whatever it is that triggers you, we're gonna remove the cube.

The second thing we're gonna do is we're gonna interrupt the action. That's right. We're gonna interrupt the action. You may have something you're trying to stop. You wanna attack the day. You don't wanna hit snooze 73 times in the morning. And so very simply, what you can do is you can take your phone, if that's what you use, you can take your clock, and you can put it on the other side of the room. So when it goes off, you have to get up and go over there and you're interrupting the action of hitting snooze. If you are one of those people that overspends on Amazon, click Buy Now, beep-ba-bop-bop-bop-bop-bop-bop, and you go okay, you can give your password to someone else, to a friend, and you can't click Buy Now unless your friend signs off on it. You're simply interrupting the flow.

For those of you that battle with pornography on your phone, you can limit adult content. You can make it to where, there's a picture of Amy, by the way. Aww. It's telling me I'm preaching live right now, which is good to know. You can eliminate your ability to download any app, certain apps that might make you vulnerable. You can get rid of social media. If you can't have one of these phones without looking at something inappropriate, get rid of your smart one and buy a dumb one. Like, for real, for real. What we're gonna do is we're gonna remove the cue and we're gonna interrupt the action. And you may say, "Well, I don't really need to right now". Well, one day you might have a different mood. Or one day you might be in a different place. One day you might be more vulnerable. So we're gonna put that which tempts us as far away from us as humanly possible.

And the way I always ask it is this, I always say, why would you resist a temptation in the future if you had the power to eliminate it today? Oh, that's really good, I'ma say it again: why would you fight something later on if you had the power to get it out of your life today? I wanna pause for just a moment, and I wanna go just a little bit deeper because for some of you, there is a more dangerous, habitual activity in your life that needs addressing. And you might need to take more severe measures, more than just blocking your phone. If you're addicted to gambling, or drug addiction, or an alcohol addiction, or an ongoing sexual addiction, you may need to totally remove the cue and interrupt the process. You may need to go to rehab, which is one of the smartest things that you can do.

I want you remember that asking for help is never a sign of weakness, it's always a sign of wisdom. It's always a sign of wisdom. And... This matters more than you can imagine. Because when you think about your life, for the most part, who are you today? For the most part, your life today is a reflection of whatever habits you had before, for the most part. And for the most part, the habits you have today will shape who you become tomorrow. That's right. Your habits matter so much. Nobody plans to ruin their life. And very few people do it all at once. How do they do it? One wrong decision, one wrong step, one bad habit at a time. For the most part, the habits you have today will shape who you become tomorrow.

So I'd ask you this, do you like the direction your habits are taking you? If you don't, remove the cue, and interrupt the action. Nobody plans. Sampson didn't plan to take all that God-given potential and let the Philistines humiliate him to die blind. How did he get there? The bad news is he took 56,250 steps in the wrong direction. That's the bad news. The good news is he had 56,250 chances to turn back to God. And you do too. You do too, God's grace is so good. His presence is so powerful. What I want you to understand is you are not what you did. You're not what you're doing now. But you'll become more of that if you don't turn away from it.

Jesus, let me tell you about Him. He is the Son of God. He is perfect in every way. And he loves you more than I could ever adequately describe to you. He came for people with bad habits. He came for the broken. He didn't come for the righteous, He came for the sinners. He didn't come for those who were healthy. He came for the sick. He came for people like me and he came for people like you. And he became sin for us and died in our place. And God raised Him from the grave so that anyone, no matter what you've done, no matter how you're stuck, anyone who calls on the name of the Lord could be forgiven. That's right. Could be transformed, could be completely saved and changed. There is no habit too great for God's grace. His power is made perfect in you, as Jesus, as Jesus, as Jesus is Christ in you is stronger than the wrong desires in you. You can overcome, you can overcome.

Some of you today, draw a line in the sand today. Mark it down this day, put it down on that day. In the presence of God, the Holy Spirit sealed faith in my heart. I will not walk on the path. I won't go near it, I'm gonna turn from it. God's gonna deliver me from that which has held me hostage. Based on who you want to become. what one habit do you need to break? And with the power of the risen Christ, you leave that behind and you step into the life that God called you to have. Today. Today, today, today, today, today.

Father, I ask that by the power of Your Holy Spirit, You would do a work that goes beyond our ability to even comprehend.

As you're praying today at all of our churches and online, those of you that have something in your life, you're gonna define it, you wanna defeat it. There's something that you wanna break. You know what it is. Would you lift up your hands right now? Just lift up your hands and say, "There's something I wanna break by the power of God". Online, you can type it in the comments section. You can even put in there what it is if you want to. "I need God's help to break this habit". You can just type that in the comments section. "I need God's help".

Father, in Your presence, I ask that the Holy Spirit would do what only you can do that in our weakness, God, Your strength would be made perfect. Move, God, in a supernatural way. May we find strength, and power, grace. God, help us to remove the cue. God help us to interrupt the action and God, renew our minds with Your truth to do your will in every way. God, we declare victory today. Victory in the name of Jesus that He who the Son is set free is free indeed.

As you keep praying today without looking around, there are some of you that would go, "Uh, you know, I'd like to break a lot of things, but I, my life is such a mess right now". You know what our worst habit is? Our worst habit, we all have it, we just sin. We disobey God. In our culture today, sin is not a popular word. It's an important word. God is holy and we're not. And when we're not, scripture calls that sin. And the Bible says all of us, every single one of us has sinned and we fall short of God's standard, we've all sinned. And this is why the grace of God is so amazing. Jesus was without sin. He was perfect, He was the Lamb of God. And because He was without sin, He could be the sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. He shed His blood that we could be forgiven. He died and God raised Him from the dead.

So you, no matter what you've done, no matter how dark your life may feel, when you call on that name, the name that is above every name, the name of Jesus, God hears the cries of your heart. He forgives all of your sins. He separates them as far as the east is from the west and you become new. You're not better, you're new. The old is gone and you become new. Wherever you're watching from today, those who would say, "I need that, I need His grace. How do I get it"? You can't work your way to it. You can't earn it, you just receive it. Is it the gift of God given by His love through Jesus. Wherever you are, you say, "I want His forgiveness". We're gonna step away from our sin. We're gonna step toward Jesus. When you call on Him, God forgives your sins and makes you new.

Wherever you are, you say, "Yes, I need His grace. I want His forgiveness today by faith, I'm leaving my old life. I want to be a disciple. I choose today to follow Jesus. Jesus, I give you my life". That's your prayer today. "Jesus, I give you my life". Lift your hands right now all over the place and say yes. Yeah, praise God for you right here. Others today say, yes, Jesus. I surrender to you, I trust you with my life. Right back over here, praise God for you, yes! Thank You, God, praise God for you. Others, today, online, just type in the comments section, "I'm surrendering my life to Jesus". Just type that in and we're gonna pray. Pray aloud, pray:

Heavenly Father. Forgive me for all of my sins. Jesus, save me. Make me brand new. Fill me with Your Spirit so I could know You, and serve You, and follow You for the rest of my life. My life is not my own. I give it all to You. In Jesus' name, I pray.

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