Grace, mercy, and peace be to each of you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
As we begin, I invite you to pray with me:
“0 Lord, speak in this place, in our minds, in our hearts, by the words of my mouth, and in the thoughts we form. Speak, 0 Lord, we, your servants, are listening. Amen.”
When Jesus rescues us, He begins a process within us that takes each of us from where we were to a life that is secure and centered on Him. It is true that Jesus loves us just the way we are, but it is equally true that He loves us too much to leave us that way.
As we begin, please keep in mind that any kind of TRANSFORMATION is not a quick or over-night process. It takes time, dedication, and commitment to make it happen.
So we are continuing our series we started last week called, “Collide.” We kicked things off by looking into the biblical principle of standing firm in our faith.
The world attempts to offer us a different set of values, one that includes things that are initially seductive, but ultimately inconsistent and difficult to stand on.
So how do we pursue the things of Christ? Well, we allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit into all truth as we discussed last week.
When we do, we will start to experience the life Christ came to give us. But how do we keep that experience going day to day? I believe God desires three things from us as we move forward in life after we lay the foundation. The first one I want us to discuss today is
Do you or your kids or grandkids see any of the popular movie series titled, “Transformers.” This series of movies were a huge hit, and still are popular to some in our society.
Besides the incredible graphics, the reason these movies were so successful had much to do with the idea of a transformer.
For example, ordinary cars would transform into superheroes that had amazing abilities. The point being that once the ordinary vehicles transformed, they were truly extraordinary.
I believe God desires the same work to happen in our lives … where we are transformed from something very ordinary to something very extraordinary.
Many of us have been tempted to follow the patterns of the world. We get caught up in sinful behavior, which ultimately fails to fulfill us or make us happy every time.
But God truly does know best. In fact, there’s a specific verse in the Bible that talks about all of this. We are going to look at Romans 12:2.
Here the Apostle Paul is directing us to do something very specific (let’s READ ALOUD TOGETHER)…
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
Here is the neat thing about this verse … within it, Paul gives us an equation.
First, there is a subtraction, then an addition, and finally an outcome. We are going to break this down together now to find the keys to transformation in our lives.
The first thing Paul invites us to do is simply say “no” to the patterns of this world, say no to worldly things…
No to the World
I am a firm believer that in everyone’s life, there is a rhythm of some kind. Some of us have healthy rhythms.
For example, perhaps you wake up early each morning, drink your cup of coffee, spend some time in God’s Word and in prayer, and then head to work or school.
Others of us, however, may find ourselves caught up in unhealthy rhythms.
There have been times in my life where I had a terrible rhythm going for a period time. It was unhealthy, and it affected all other aspects of my life.
There was a time, in short, where I had too many responsibilities. I worked 3 jobs and had several volunteer positions as well. I was essentially a workaholic. At the end of those days, my family suffered because I never seemed to place them first in my life.
Today, I regret making many poor choices in the past. During those times, I allowed the things of this world to lead me astray. I was stuck in a rhythmic cycle, and I didn’t know how I could get out of it.
However, with a great deal of help from Naomi, I finally came to the conclusion that what God needed from me was a willingness to simply say “no” to some things. It is okay to say no.
In your life right now, maybe your first step toward transformation is some internal dialogue between you and whatever is your unhealthy rhythm … your sinful habit. Half of the solution to any problem is simply recognizing that you have a problem.
Perhaps many of us may have an unhealthy rhythm in our life right now because we have been, as Paul says, trying to copy the behavior and customs of the world too much.
When we have a rhythm in our life, we will be, in some form or fashion, mirroring something. Either we mirror the world and its values, or we mirror our God and His values.
So, the initial subtraction that the Apostle Paul says must take place is our ability to say “NO” to some things in this world.
After we subtract the NO, the Apostle Paul says we need to add something? We need to add something by simply believing that…
Yes to the Way
Once you recognize the worldly patterns you have been following, the space is then created for God’s TRANSFORMING work to take place in your life. Jesus desires that we live a life that is constantly seeking to grow.
[Bring a plant and some water on stage. Pour the water over the plant, showing that the water helps it grow.]
However, for this plant to continue to grow, I have to continue to pour water. I can’t pour ice tea, soda pop, or any other substance. It must be the purest of them all … water.
In our Romans 12:2 verse, Paul seems to be concerned with how we think. Our thought process is important when it comes to growth potential in the kingdom of God. Oftentimes the temptation to follow worldly patterns and values begins with a thought.
But the same is true for the patterns Christ wants in our lives. Spending time reading and studying the word of God will give us the right type of thought processes, and help us respond well when we are confronted with worldly things.
And just like the plant a moment ago, we can’t simply “water” our minds and hearts every once in a while. It must be a healthy routine and rhythm we enter into.
The Bible talks about this concept. We earlier read this Psalm in our service. Let’s read it aloud again…
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”
God desires that we not just have His Word near us, but IN us … in our minds, in our hearts, and throughout our lives.
The work of transformation will only be done when we allow God to do it. Maybe something needs to change in your morning or evening routines to allow God to TRANSFORM you from the inside out by spending time with Him.
By doing this, you will move worldly distractions out of the way, which allows God to come and do transforming work in you.
This transformation begins in your mind. Paul closes out Romans 12:2 with an OUTCOME once we take these steps toward transformation. He says, “Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Then, you will better know HOW to…
Discern your Purpose – learn to know God’s will for you
Paul wrote this letter some 2,000 years ago, and it is amazing to me that God knew what we would need even now. Perhaps some of you listening today have spent time searching tirelessly for your purpose in life.
You have tried to find God’s will in the things of the world, and finally figured out you couldn’t.
You have tried to find God’s will in a relationship, and finally realized that you couldn’t.
Or, perhaps you have tried to find God’s will by achieving a certain social media status, and finally figured out you couldn’t.
Christ is the only one who can give you meaning and purpose in your life. He has called you TO DO great things for His kingdom here on earth.
You have giftings and abilities that no one else has, for the building up of the Church, that we so often talk about.
But I wonder how many of us have yet to sense a calling from God because we have allowed our unhealthy rhythms to distract us from a solid relationship with Him?
If that is your case, I have good news for you … there is still time, right now, to rewire your life.
The Bible is full of instances where God makes it clear that there is still time to give Him your life. Even the thief hanging on a cross next to Christ had time to receive eternal life … in just moments.
Joel 2:12 says; “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart…”
All the way back in Joel, the Lord invites us to give Him our lives, to run back to Him in repentance. Jesus Christ came to this very earth, was tempted by the same worldly things you and I are tempted by, yet He did not sin.
Ultimately, He died on a cross for our sins, so that we could be transformed into walking and talking reflections of Him.
You are not too far-gone. You are not out of the game.
Christ wants you back. He has a seat for you at the table.
I can share with you that it is only through the pure grace of God that I can stand before you today as a redeemed child of God.
Naomi led me to Christ when I was still in school before we were married. It was a simple invitation by someone who cared, which you could extend today to your friends and family members.
For example, I am teaching an Adult Information Class next Sunday on June 6 right after worship. We will feed the class lunch, and then we will have class the rest of the afternoon.
This is a perfect opportunity for you to invite a friend or family member to come and learn who we are and why we do what we do. Better yet, bring them with you and stay for a good refresher class.
Let them know that as long as one has breath, it is never too late to make a profession of faith.
Perhaps for some of you today that will mean returning to a vibrant faith and relationship that you have allowed to grow cold.
You may have allowed the distractions of life to collide with your faith. And you may have been feeling distant from God for some time, but haven’t mustered up the energy to do anything about it.
If that is the case, today is your day.
For some of you here this may be a big step of faith into a bigger relationship that you have only heard others talk about, but now you are ready to make it your own.
Believe me when I say a life of faith is the wildest adventure you will ever take, and the eternal reward is worth every single moment. Amen