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Do you believe that God can truly and completely transform a person’s life? Can a person really change? Understandably, some of you may be skeptical and find yourself in a very perplexed position. John McArthur, Pastor of Grace Community Church, shared a story of a woman in a similar position that approached him after a conference at which he was speaking. This woman was very distraught and tearful and as McArthur heard this woman’s story, he recalled many before her with similar stories. She told McArthur, “I just can’t seem to live the Christian life the way I should. I am frustrated. I am without victory, without a sense of accomplishment. I struggle seemingly with the very simplest forms of obedience in my Christian walk. I’m constantly defeated. Can you help me?” McArthur responded by saying “Well, what has been your approach to solving the problem yourself?”
She responded by saying “I have tried everything and in spite of all of this, I am not pleased with my life. I’ve tried to get all I could get out of God.”
McArthur said “That’s your problem.” The key to spiritual victory is not getting all you can get, but giving all you have. There’s a big difference. And there are people literally flocking into churches and spiritual experiences to get more of God when the issue is not what they need to get but what they need to give.”
It’s true—the key to spiritual victory is not getting all you can get, but giving all you have. That statement may seem backwards, or like a contradiction, but in reality, it is the truth. Have you ever thought about living your life trying to offer everything you have to give to God? Or have you been too busy trying to get all you can get from God?
Barb, in her message, talked about how God can and does transform lives. But first, in order for this to happen, we must give ourselves fully to Him, and believe that God can change us. Romans 12:1-2 (New Living Translation) puts it this way, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” We can see it plain and clear, God wants our entire body as a living sacrifice. He wants us to take the focus off of ourselves and the many things that we seem to want from Him. Then, He can transform us and do a good, pleasing and perfect work in us from the inside out.
Are you hoping that God will transform your life into what He wants it to be? This week, you’ll learn how God can transform you by applying just the right amount of pressure. Hopefully this week challenges you to look beyond your own needs and desires and be open to God’s transforming power.
“The key to spiritual victory is not getting all you can, but giving all you have.”
MONDAY — What is Transformation?
Big Point: True spiritual transformation is putting ourselves aside in order to fully and profoundly love God and people.
John Ortberg explores how transformation works in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted. He writes “How do I grow? What does a spiritually mature person even look like? Will I ever really be any different? The Christian gospel insists that transformation really is possible. Never easy. Rarely quick. But possible. It begins to happen anytime people become intensely serious about learning from Jesus how to arrange their lives.”
It’s good to challenge yourself with some deep and thought provoking questions, such as, why do you really come to church? Is it just something that you’ve chosen to do over the years? Is it to hear some great music and sing songs? Or do you like to hear and get inspired by some great stories? Who doesn’t like a great story of triumph and victory. It is no wonder that our favorite stories and movies are tales of transformation. For the young (and not so old at heart), it’s the stories of the frog becoming a prince. Cinderella transforming into a princess. Pinocchio becoming a real boy. Even Adam Sandler in Bed Time Stories tells a tale of transformation. Why are we so enchanted by these stories of transformation? You have to think that we truly believe and desire life transformation. For a Christ-follower, you had best believe these stories reflect the heart of God and His desire for our lives to be transformed.
Be honest, are you tired of the status quo? Are you frustrated with where you’re at spiritually? Well, get ready because God is already transforming lives and we are quite certain that He would like to do the same for you.
READ & THINK…Find the answers
We learned in John McArthur’s story on the cover of the Living it Out that spiritual transformation can only happen when our focus is on what we have to give not on what we are hoping to get. What are we told to give to God in Mark 12:30?
Mark 12:30 (New Living Translation)
And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.
Romans 12:1-2 describes how transformation can take place. What are we told we must give to God in verse 1 and what must we stop doing in verse 2? What will God do for us in return?
Romans 12:1-2 (New Living Translation)
1And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
“The desire for transformation lies deep in every human heart.”
The verses in Galatians 5 below tell us what our lives look like before (vv.19-21) the Holy Spirit transforms us, and after (vv.22-23). List examples or behaviors of life before and after spiritual transformation.
Galatians 5:19-23 (New Living Translation)
19When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasure, 20idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of live will not inherit the Kingdom of god. 22But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
LIVE…What will you do now?
Mark 12:30 commands us to love God with all our heart, all our soul (emotional nature), all our mind (intellectual nature), and all our strength (energies). This engages every aspect of our being. We cannot separate any actions, thoughts, feelings, or energies from loving God. By including our mind, we disallow and kind of blind devotion. What area(s) of your life are you withholding from loving God? How might this be prohibiting God from transforming you?
definition: When we cease being what we are in order to become something else.
Process that enables us to gradually die to sin, self and society in order to fully and profoundly love God and people.
Read the definitions of “transformation” and “spiritual transformation” in the box to the right. What is the difference? What do you need to surrender in order to truly experience spiritual transformation?
The idea of Romans 12:2 is that commitment leads to transformation and transformation leads to revelation. In your own words, describe what this commitment might look like in your life.
PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
When praying today, be open and honest with God about your frustrations, what you may be withholding, and how you’re willing to offer yourself fully to God so that He can transform your life.