LIO 5/5 – Transformed Spiritually: How to Get Closer to God

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Heaven is desirable. Hell is terrible. Time is short. Eternity is infinite. The soul is precious.

 –Charles Spurgeon

Have you ever read the literary classic, “The Lord of the Flies”, by William Golding? If you read the book or saw the movie, you know that it tells the story of a group of British school boys who are deserted on an uninhabited island, left to govern themselves with disastrous results. Without any adults to set rules or boundaries, the once proper school boys descend into savagery. As the book progresses, the boys become increasingly violent and hostile toward each other. Ralph, the early leader of the boys and the book’s main character, slowly begins to lose control of the group. During the final scene of the book (spoiler alert!), Ralph runs throughout the island in an effort to get away from the bloodthirsty group.

Just as he’s about to be overtaken, he stumbles into a Royal Naval Officer. The officer is surprised to see Ralph, to say the least, and in a single moment the savage chase is reduced to a boys game. Ralph and the other boys burst into tears. The officer states that he would have expected “a better show” from the British children. For the group of boys, seeing the Naval Officer was a wake up call that shocked them back to reality. In a mere moment, they saw just how far they had fallen.

The Prodigal Son had a similar experience. In one of Jesus’ most well known parables, he told the story of a young man that demands his share of the family inheritance and goes away from his father’s house to a distant land where he spent his money on wild living. Presumably, things are fun for the young man for awhile, but over time his money runs out. Starving, the young man is forced to take the job of a pig farmer. This would have been a shockingly low position for a Jewish man and Jesus’ first century audience would have picked up on that immediately. As he feeds pods to the pigs, the young man is shocked back to reality. In a single moment, he sees the error of his ways. This is the beginning of the young man’s spiritual transformation.

Have you ever had a “rock bottom” moment like this? In many recovery groups, the term “rock bottom” is used to describe a place where a person has nothing left to lose. Whether you have been to this place or not, it’s possible that your spiritual life has begun to drift away from God without your knowledge. Many Christians find themselves stalled at some point in their Christian lives, but it rarely happens overnight. Don’t wait for a traumatic, “rock bottom” experience before you realize that you need to be transformed.

Being transformed in the spiritual sense means loving God and loving people above all else. That seems like a simple enough goal but in practice, it’s not so easy! Without choosing to grow spiritually, you’ll find yourself regressing. If you’re not being transformed into the image of God, you’ll end up conforming to the world around you. If you get off track and start to love something else more than God, He may just send a wake up call your way! This week we will learn from the Prodigal Son and break down the necessary steps to spiritual transformation.

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MONDAY —  Get Fed Up With Your Life
Big Point: Only when you are sick and tired of being sick and tired will you hunger for something more.

That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more!

-Popeye

Are you fed up? Are you completely sick and tired of feeling lonely, stressed, overworked, depressed, angry, resentful, confused, hurt…the list can go on and on. Fill in the blank with what you want to change about your life. If your challenges have become so painful that you can’t stand it anymore, then you’re in the perfect place to begin a journey of transformation!

Life transformation will not happen if you are only mildly annoyed with your circumstances, or slightly disappointed with your life the way it is now. You have to be to the point where the discomfort of the mess you’re in outweighs the comfort of what you know. John Maxwell says, “People change for two reasons. They learn enough so that they can, or they hurt so much that they have to.” In order to make a positive change in your life, you have to be hungry for that change. You have to be anxious for change. Nothing happens until you get a little fired up! In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the wayward son didn’t start to make positive changes until he was literally starving.

Are you at this point in your own life? What have you been convincing yourself is fine while knowing, deep in your heart, that it is not? You need God’s help. What is it you need to admit to Him? God is right there waiting for you. He’ll continue to wait until you’re desperate for Him. He’s patiently waiting for the moment that you are so fed up with the mess of your life that you can’t take it anymore. He’s ready to help you make a change! What are you waiting for? Make today the day that you admit you’re fed up!

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?
1. In this passage, God was giving the prophet Jeremiah a promise about what would happen to the people of Israel after the Babylonians conquered them. It would be a dark time for the people, but God would not forget about them. Today, the people of the church can claim this promise of God for themselves.

Question: When and where will we find God in our lives?

Jeremiah 29:13 (New International Version)
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Answer:

 

 

2. This week we are going to focus on the parable of the Prodigal Son. The word prodigal doesn’t mean “lost” as some erroneously believe. Instead it means, “spending money or resources freely and recklessly.” The Prodigal Son had fun for awhile but soon faced the consequences of his life choices.
Question: Where did the son end up, literally and figuratively, before he was ready to change?

Luke 15:16 (New Living Translation)
The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

Answer:
3. The Psalmist is definitely in a desperate state. He writes of having a diet of tears and a soul in turmoil. He is fed up with his life and crying out to God.
Question: In the following verses, what does the Psalmist desire above all else?

Psalm 42:1-2 (New Living Translation)
1 As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.
2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?

Answer:

 

 

LIVE… What will you do now?

What factors have stopped you from making positive changes in your life in the past? What has stopped you from seeking out God to help you change?

 
Have you ever hit “rock bottom” and been forced to make changes in your life? If so, describe the circumstances. If not, reflect on a low period in your life and what you learned through that experience.

 
Do you desire God the same way that the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 42 does? What things in your life make it difficult for you to desire God above all else?

 

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?
Thank your Heavenly Father for being with you always, in good times and bad. Ask Him to forgive you for becoming comfortable in your sin. Ask His help to bring you to a desperate place where transformation can occur. If you are already there, tell Him you are fed up and ready to be transformed.

 

 

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