Deep, lasting spiritual change is a process. Spiritual change flows out of an intimate relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The plan of God for each of our lives is that we "be conformed to the likeness of his Son." In Romans 8:29 we read, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." The change that we should desire in this life is to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Paul wrote, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:18) We are not just hoping to be like Jesus Christ in eternity, we must be like Him in this present life. Paul travailed or labored with the Galatians "until Christ is formed in you." (Galatians 4:19) We must "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24) These behavior changes are rooted in a changed heart, but the process is often slow. Here are three simple, spiritual steps that can bring about a big change in our life and in our relationship with God. "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)


          Learn to be joyful or to rejoice evermore. True joy is found in our eternal relationship with God. Paul wrote, "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." (2 Corinthians 6:10) David wrote, "Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart." (Psalm 32:11) As a Christian I must find a way to rejoice in every situation, including the hard and difficult ones. It is not always easy to be joyful, but with Godís help it is possible. Once we take that small step of learning to rejoice evermore, our problems are covered with the Lord's peace and joy. It is just a simple step but it brings a big change -- be joyful.


          Learn to be prayerful or to pray without ceasing. "Oh! What peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bare, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer." We cannot grow at all in our Christian life unless we learn to be prayerful. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." (Philippians 4:6) We should not allow anything to trouble us to the point of worry and stress. We should pray about everything and place it all into God's hands. The command to "pray without ceasing" is not given to the unbeliever. It is given to Children of God. (Galatians 3:26-27) God wants more than a moment of your time each day. He wants you to pray without ceasing. It is just a simple step but it brings a big change -- be prayerful.


          Learn to be thankful in everything. Be thankful for what you have and be thankful for what you do not have. By not having everything you have something to look forward to and to work toward. "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." (Psalms 100:4) Be thankful for good times. But, be thankful for difficult times too. Difficulties help you to grow stronger and build character. Be thankful when you are tired. Exhaustion will likely mean that you made an effort to do something. Find a way to be thankful for your troubles. When you are thankful in troubles you will somehow find a blessing in them. Let us follow God's instructions in Ephesians 5:20, "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." It is just a simple step but it brings a big change -- be thankful.


          God teaches us to (1) Be Joyful, (2) Be Prayerful, and (3) Be Thankful These simple challenges are life changing if we will take them to heart and decide that this is the kind of person we are going to be. Deep within God's children is a desire to please Him. That desire to please God is nurtured by being joyful, being prayerful and by being thankful. To become a Christian hear the word (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized into Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27) What about you? What do you have to be thankful for?


By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA