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JFH Devotionals by J.M. Farro

Breaking Destructive Patterns

"People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord." - Proverbs 19:3 NLT

I recently heard from a woman who complained about all of the men she had been in relationship with who had lied, cheated, and mistreated her. She was completely disgusted, and she sounded bitter and resentful. She asked for prayer, that God would finally send her a decent man who she could share her life with, and who would be good to her. As I read her words, it didn't take long for me to figure out what this woman's real problem was. It wasn't men, in general. And it wasn't God. It was her. This woman was continually being hurt because she was continually out of God's will, where her relationships were concerned. She was not being led by God's Spirit in choosing a partner, but she was being led by her own feelings and emotions. And as a result, her relationships with these men were doomed to fail.

Maybe you've known people like this woman. I certainly have. And maybe, like me, you've desperately tried to help them. Unfortunately, people like these who have displayed a pattern of failed relationships and destructive habits aren't likely to change just because we reach out to them. Scripture says: "A short-tempered man must bear his own penalty; you can't do much to help him. If you must try once, you must try a dozen times!" (Proverbs 19:19 TLB) While this proverb refers to people who have a habit of losing their temper, the principle is the same for those who exhibit other destructive tendencies. Another proverb puts it like this: "As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness." (Proverbs 26:11 NLT) We can earnestly pray for these people, and we can give them sound advice when the Lord leads us to, but anything beyond that will most likely be a waste of time and energy on our part. What these people really need is a change of heart, and that's something that can only come from God. Sadly, God is often the last one that people like these will resort to.

What if YOU can identify with this woman yourself? I believe I have some godly advice for you today. First, focus on becoming the man or woman of God that you were created to be. The Lord is more likely to reward you with a loving and faithful mate if you are the kind of person who deserves such blessings from Him. Proverbs says: "The man who finds a wife finds a good thing; she is a blessing to him from the Lord." (Proverbs 18:22 TLB) God may have the perfect spouse all picked out for you, but He may first want to prepare you to receive this blessed relationship, so that it has every chance of not only surviving, but thriving, when you finally come together. Use this period of waiting to nurture your relationship with God. Jesus said, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33 NIV) Putting God first in our lives can have a positive impact on every area of our lives, even where our relationships are concerned. Secondly, trust God to bring the right mate for you at just the right time. Most people don't realize how critical this is, and because of that, they get involved with relationships that God never meant them to. Realize that by involving yourself in the wrong relationships, you could be delaying or forfeiting the ideal one that God has destined for you.

Benjamin Franklin said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." When we've established a pattern that isn't working, we can call on the Lord to help us break that destructive pattern once and for all. When we do, we can rest assured that all the help of Heaven will be on our side!

Prayer: Lord, do a new work in my heart and life now, so that I will begin to focus on becoming all You created me to be. Help me to wholeheartedly trust You to bring the right relationships into my life at just the right time. Please reveal to me any destructive patterns that I might have in my life today, and show me how to gain the freedom that is mine in Christ. Thank You, Lord, that no matter how badly I've failed in the past, I can begin to walk in victory as I give You first place in my life!

- J. M. Farro


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