Overcome Bad Habits and Memories

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Confess Your Frustrations to God
When frustration threatens to overwhelm us, we can choose to express it, repress it, or confess it. It’s easy to see that expressing frustration by lashing out is unhealthy, unwise, and unlike Christ. It’s a little more difficult at times to see how repressing frustration is similarly unhealthy. When we pretend that frustration is nonexistent in us, it bubbles up underneath and starts to come out sideways – in our relationships, in our words, even in physical symptoms of stress and restlessness. The best option – and really the only Christ-like response – is to confess your frustration. First and foremost, we confess our frustration to God. He is not surprised by our emotions. In fact, Romans 8:20 lets us know that the whole creation is subjected to frustration for the purpose of refocusing on our hope in Him! When we confess our frustrations to Him, bringing difficult feelings to His throne and laying them at His feet, He is faithful to hear us. Even when we don’t know exactly what to pray for or how to articulate it, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us “through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26). Not only should we confess our frustration to the Father, but we also share our burdens with the community of the body of Christ. We were created for community, and confession is part of living in true fellowship with others. While we often think of confession as pertaining to confessing sin (and rightly so), the sharing of burdens with one another is also a form of confession! When we live in a rhythm of confession as God intends and Scripture instructs, there is great spiritual benefit for us. Weights are lifted and patterns are broken when we practice the discipline of confession. DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Read Romans 8:18-27. Consider the reality of the Spirit’s dwelling in you. What reassurance is there in knowing that the Spirit of God knows your mind and heart on such a deep level? The same Spirit indwells us not just as individuals, but as the unified body of Christ! In what ways is He prompting you to practice confession with brothers and sisters in Christ?
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Focus on Eternal Things, Not on Earthly Things
“God’s bucket of forgiveness is always bigger than your bucket of sin.” The truth of this statement can be found in another passage from the book of Ephesians. “Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms with Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:4-7 In these few verses, the apostle Paul emphasizes the vast riches of God’s mercy and grace. Even while we were still spiritually dead, still tangled in sin, still enemies of His kingdom, He acted through Christ to bring us to life. It is impossible to sin too much for God’s grace to reach you, recover you, and restore you.  In light of God’s mercy and grace, and with the perspective of our eternal hope in Christ, we are reminded that the struggles of this life are ultimately temporary. This reminder can help us to control our reaction when irritations and trials arise.  DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTIONS: What does it mean that you “have more life ahead of you than you do behind you”? For believers, whatever your age, you have eternity to look forward to with Christ. How does this perspective inform your reaction and response to the world around you here and now?
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We Can Deal With Frustration by Refocusing Our Perspective
It is an important question to ask ourselves: how do we deal with frustration in a God-honoring way? The answer is surprisingly simple. Rather than acting out in frustration, or suppressing our anger and acting like it doesn’t exist (this may be the greater temptation for those wanting to appear holy), we deal with frustration by refocusing our perspective. By shifting our perspective we focus on good things, not bad. If we have eyes to see, there are so many good things, blessings provided by God, for us to point our attention toward in life. As followers of Christ, we have the greatest blessing, the ultimate perspective-shift, in the person of Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 1:3, the apostle Paul writes “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Over and above the things of this world, we have EVERY spiritual blessing in Jesus! Paul is wise in drawing our attention to the abundant spiritual blessings in Christ. Frustration, at its core, is caused by the feeling of helplessness, inability to change, or prevention from moving forward. Ultimately, frustration makes us feel hopeless and blinds us to the many blessings found in Jesus. In order to combat frustration, then, we must cling to Jesus as our true and perfect hope. Paul reminds the Church of this later on in Ephesians chapter one. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened,” he writes, “in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” Jesus Christ is the ultimate answer to our frustration, providing the power to work change in and through us, and an eternal perspective to reorient our focus. DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTIONS: What is the greatest cause for frustration in your life today? Take some time to prayerfully consider where the feeling is coming from. Is it a sense of injustice – something wrong that should be made right? Is it a desire for change that seems impossible? Is it a feeling of being stuck in the same thing over and over? As you identify these things, invite Jesus into them. Read Ephesians 1 and consider all the things the Father accomplished through the person of Jesus.