Monthly Archives: October 2013

Walking in the Will of God

Peninsula Community Church

October 27, 2013

Worship – Walking in the Will of God

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

As we look at this passage this morning, we see that as we live as living sacrifices and as we are being transformed by the renewing of our minds, our ability to understand God’s will is increased. While this may be one of the greatest challenges, understanding God’s will is possible. It is my belief that this portion of the text is often overlooked or is given a precursory review because of the grandeur of the preceding verses but this later portion is just as a critical as the previous verses.

Would you note a couple of things about this passage this morning? Notice, if you will, what Paul says here. Notice that God’s will is defined as what is good, what is acceptable, and what is perfect. In other words God’s will is good. It does not mean that it will be easy but it will be good. We will see more of this later in this study. 

Notice that he infers that we can discern the will of God. Notice the word “prove” or “test” that he uses here. It is a word that means to test or prove to determine reliability or truth. The fact is one way to begin to discern God’s will is to test what God’s will is. Through testing we confirm and understand God’s will and we can understand what it is not. While Paul does not give us a direct command, we do understand that we can learn to live in God’s will.

We must develop our ability to discern God’s will. Why is this so? We are not called to be living sacrifices just to put a check in that box of our life accomplishments. We are not called to be transformed by the renewing of the mind just so we feel good about ourselves. All this occurs so that we will be able to recognize that we have a purpose and that there is a plan for our lives. That is God’s will.

To test the will of God we lay what we are sensing against the word of God to be assured that what we are being called to do would counter what the word says. Second, we receive counsel from those who are knowledgeable in the area where we are being called. Third, we look to see what God is doing and join him in that effort. This is critical because too often we try to manipulate God’s will for our benefit but God’s will always has our best interest in mind.

The will of God for us can be simply defined as the purpose God has intended for us. This is a simplistic thought but it is one that we so often miss. A great part of God’s will is simply understanding the purpose God has for you. The problem with too many people today is that they lack purpose. They lack a vision for their lives. They fail to possess a forward thinking mentality as they are trapped by the past or held captive by their present circumstances. Their anthem is “there is no hope!” “This is just the way it is!” “Nothing will change!” These are the words of a defeated believer and a believer who does not understand their purpose. These are the words of one that has given up and has lost hope. But that is not God’s plan.

Let me make some observations on this subject. First, God’s will is good. We may not always understand it or even like it in the moment, but it is always good, perfect, and acceptable. The problem too often is that we complicate God’s will. We are afraid that we will be called to some forsaken place where no other human would dare to go. This is not to deny that this will absolutely not happen but that is usually not the case. 

The fact is too often we are so busy concentrating on what is yet to come in terms of God’s will that we miss what he is doing in the moment. It is like the old saying that “we can’t see the forest because of the trees.” We tend to believe that God’s will is out there. We believe that it is a destination rather than a lifestyle. I am convinced that if we were to enjoy the blessing of God in the moment and if we were to allow the reformation process to continue on a daily basis that we will be positioned to understand His will even more. In fact, the travail over His will is diminished when we live in the moment and are being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Too often, we have the understanding of the will of God too hard and too cumbersome. We must understand that God’s will is to be enjoyed and not endured. It is a good, acceptable, and perfect will. When we are being transformed and when we present our bodies as living sacrifices, we will be better equipped to know and understand his will. To a large part this is a result of what we saw last week in Colossians 3:10 and Ephesians 4:24. When we are being transformed we will have a greater knowledge of God. This knowledge will be more based on a relational model rather than a intellectual model. While both is important, the relationship is most important. When we understand God’s will we will know and understand that what I do in this moment is God’s will. If I am faithful now and I am in God’s will then I will be in God’s will tomorrow.

Second, we must discern what we are passionate about. One of the things that I have found about the will of God is that God’s will and my passion are often connected. God has deposited in each of us a passion. Quite often these passions are manifested through the gifts and abilities we were given at birth. 

We must note here that there are time where we will be moved by someone or something but that does not mean we are to join the ministry. The problem here is that we will continue to be tossed and move at every new thing that comes along. Let me illustrate this way. I have a compassion for the work that Renee Bach is doing in Uganda. I am so excited to see the results of her faith and her obedience. But that compassion does not lead me to join her in ministry because while I have compassion I do not have a passion to serve in her ministry. There have been times where I have seen people who are reactive emotionally and join ministries when they are moved by compassion but I need more that compassion I need passion to serve God. Too often we are moved by emotion rather than a correct understanding of what God’s will is for them. When the emotion is gone, so is the passion and they now feel trapped in positions they never were to be in to begin with.

Third, there are elements to God’s will that are not negotiable. Salvation is not a negotiable. He wants us all to be saved. He wants us all to live a holy life. He wants us all to be sanctified. He wants us all to understanding His will for us. He wants us all to fulfill His purpose and His plan for our life. These are not debatable. Where we run into problems however is when the decision involves; where do I work? Where do I go to school? Who do I marry? Where do I go to dinner? These are the negotiable elements of God’s will. These are the items that do not need to be discussed or debated. 

When it comes to the negotiable elements of God’s will, we must understand that most often it is a matter of common sense. It is a matter of having good information, good counsel, and a sense of what God wants. Sometimes we forget that God has created us with the ability to make choices and those choices should be made with a common sense approach. 

Fourth, discerning God’s will is a process where there seems to be failure or things do not go the way we think they should. But when we are in God’s will we can trust Him, His word, and His plan. Look at the disciples who Were commanded to go into their boat to the other side of the lake.

Mark 6:45-52 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Mark 4:35-41 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Notice that they were commanded to go to the other side. God would not have commanded them to go there if he were not going to keep them. This was an opportunity for Christ to teach the disciples to obey God regardless of the circumstances they face. Too often we are afraid to to step out and do anything because we do not know what the future holds. Too often we are afraid of failure. Too often we are afraid that we have problems. The truth is we do not know what the future holds but that does not stop us from proceeding with what god calls us to do. The truth is we may fail but that does not mean that we are a failure nor does it mean that we are outside God’s will. The truth is even in the middle of being obedient to God’s will we will have trouble and problems. 

 

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Worship – From Formation to Transformation – Part 2

Peninsula Community Church

October 20, 2013

Worship – From Formation to Transformation, Part 2

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Let’s review what we have learned so far. We have learned that what we value we will worship and what we worship will control us. We have learned that God desires that we live as living sacrifices which means that that all of life is worship and all worship is about life (Hayford). We have learned that we cannot and must not be duplicitous in regards to the sacred secular divide. We cannot put on and take off our spiritual worship as we would an old garment. Our worship and our Christianity must impact every aspect of lives. We have also talked about presenting ourselves as living sacrifices which is an ongoing process. It is an ongoing act of surrender. We learned that to be living sacrifices, we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This act must be a proactive one, as the renovation of the heart does not happen by osmosis. We learned that we must be in the word on daily basis. We must have more than a superficial study of God’s word. We must study to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15).

Today, let us look at the need we have to move from formation to transformation. I love what the late Dallas Willard stated in his book “The Renovation of the Heart.” He stated that the process of transformation carries the idea that we have been formed but change is needed. We need to be transformed because the current formation process is not working for us. 

The fact is we are not a blank canvas. We all have things written on our hearts which have formed and shaped who we are. We have all been formed and shaped by our experiences, by our culture, by our education, and by the influences in our lives wether they be friend or foe. This formation of self effects our ideas, beliefs, feelings, habits, choices, bodily tendencies, and social relations. Some would call this our worldview as it is out of one’s worldview that one lives and acts. 

Let me illustrate this in this way. Just this week I heard a message by Pastor Jimmy Evans (Gateway Conference) who stated that when we have hurt or pain in our lives there is a tendency to live out of that pain rather the healing that is available to us through Christ. He suggested and I concur that when we have been hurt or we have experienced failure, there is a code embedded into our psyche. The code works something like this, I failed at “x” so I must be flawed because I am flawed I cannot succeed or accomplish anything. Every time we face an obstacle or a problem our response is to not even try because we believe we will fail before we ever begin. 

This encoding happens quite often when we have faced a divorce, have faced rejection, have suffered a major loss in your life, have suffered an illness, or continue to deal with issues of sin. These issues serve to embed in us that we are failures and that we are no good. If this continues, we can have embedded in us a code that we are unlovable and that there is little or no hope for us. The problem is that too often we strive for acceptance and to have people love us. We will do what it takes to make this happen including a compromise of who we are, as a person. We will sell ourselves to the devil if that would make us be loved by others. The sad truth is that we are already loved and when we allow the embedded codes of our lives to rule us, we miss out on the greatest of opportunities to experience love and life to its fullest.

This act of encoding our psyche and our emotions is like having a virus on our computers. Quite often we have viruses embedded in our files that we are not even aware of. Sometimes these viruses are revealed when we least expect it. Often they are attached to files that are seldom used but when these files are opened the virus acts up. For some it is a simple virus where the files we are opening are extremely slow or there can be a full failure of the system. When our psyches have been encoded with these false images of who we are, our responses, our imaginations and our reactions will be effected. For some there is only minor harm done as we have learned to contend with difficulties and deal with these codes. For others, it is a system failure when these codes are acted upon. Our world falls apart and we are devastated to no end.

It is for this reason that we must realize that we have all been formed and shaped by things and people even when we don’t see the formation taking place. One way to illustrate this is to ask a question. When you get angry what is the first reaction you have. Is it to curse? Is it to throw things? Is it to scream? Is it to clam up? How you respond is a result of how you have been formed and shaped. It is a response to the encoding that has taken place in your life. It is a conditioning of your heart, your emotions, and your will. If you have presented yourselves as living sacrifices and your heart has been transformed, then your actions and reactions will be different than a person who has not been transformed. As we are transformed, how we respond will be an act of worship and an act of living as living sacrifices.

God wants us to be transformed but, how do we know we are being transformed? To understand this lets turn to two passages: Colossians 3:9-10 and Ephesians 4:19-24.  

Paul says Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Again in Ephesians 4:19-24 Paul once again gives us insight into how we are being renewed. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

In these two passages, we have three areas of our life that reveal how we are being renewed or transformed. First, are you being renewed in the knowledge of God? Through the transformation process our knowledge of God, our understanding of life, and our worldview is being changed. We are in fact being transformed into the original intent of God’s creation for us. From the fall of man in the Garden until our present day, the knowledge of God has been tested. Throughout the centuries we have experienced a distorted view of who God is, His purpose for our life, and His expectations for us. When we have our knowledge of God transformed we will begin to see God for who He is. Moses asked this question. Can I see you God? What God revealed to Moses was His character. He is a loving, forgiving, justice God. 

Second, we know we are being renewed and transformed in the spirit of our mind when we begin to understand true righteousness. Righteousness is how we relate to others. How do we treat one another? Do we genuine love one another or are we filled with anger and hatred? Notice that it was only one generation after Adam and Eve that we have our first murder recorded in the Bible. You would think that being so close to the experience of the Garden that mankind would have been a bit wiser but as we see here he failed. He had a code embedded in his heart. It was one of anger and malice which lead to death. Of course as you may guess we are talking about Cain and Abel. Throughout Biblical history we have seen what happens when anger and malice has been embedded in man’s heart. Look at the story of Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, David and his sons, and Christ and Judas. But as we read so many of these stories we see the redemptive story of God revealed. As we are being transformed by the renewing of our minds the way we deal with people is also being transformed. As we are being transformed, we begin to realize that we are made righteous by the gift of God. We don’t have to make ourselves righteousness we are righteous because of his acts on Calvary, and the empty tomb.

Third, we are being renewed and transformed in the spirit of our minds when we begin to understand true holiness. We understand this holiness is not a legalistic list of rules, but it is a life of freedom. We understand that we are not holy by our actions but by the actions of God on our behalf. In this our understanding that we are being transformed and renewed to God’s original will and intent. The result is how we think and what we think is being changed. We live holy because we have been made holy. 

In all three of these illustrations we are being transformed into His image. We are being transformed more into His likeness. So how are you doing? Are you being transformed? How is your life different today than it was last year, or last week? How about yesterday? Today is the day for change. Today is the moment we can be restored to God’s purposes and His will.

 

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Peninsula Community Church

October 13, 2013

Worship – From Formation to Transformation

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Let’s review what we have learned so far. We have learned that what we value we will worship and what we worship will control us. We have learned that God desires that we live as living sacrifices which means that that all of life is worship and all worship is about life (Hayford). We have learned that we cannot and must not be duplicitous in regards to the sacred secular divide. We cannot put on and take off our spiritual worship as we would an old garment. Our worship and our Christianity must impact every aspect of lives. We have also talked about presenting ourselves as living sacrifices which is an ongoing process. It is an ongoing act of surrender.

Last week, we learned that to be living sacrifices we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This act must be a proactive one, as the renovation of the heart does not happen by osmosis. We learned that we must be in the word on daily basis. We must have more than a superficial study of God’s word. We must study to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15). 

On this issue of osmosis, while it is critical that we are a part of the Sunday service and Sunday school time, it is also critical that we study the word on our own. We must take what is said on a Sunday morning and study it, digest it, question it in the sense of application to your life. Make notes on the message. Allow God to send you on the rabbit trails that could be God’s voice speaking into your life. You see, just because I understand the workings of electricity, does not make me an electrician. Just because I understand the dynamics of flight, does not make me a pilot. Just because I am sitting in a service, does not make me a Christian, nor does that action make me mature. It is the application of the understanding that I have that develops my maturity. 

In essence, what we are talking about here is the gaining of wisdom. Wisdom is the proper application of truth. We can have all the knowledge in the world but if we do properly apply the truth our knowledge is useless. The writer of Proverbs was fairly direct when he stated:

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways (Proverbs 2:1-15).

One of the illustrations used last week is that it would be foolish for our armed forces to wait until they are on the front lines of battle to prepare and train. The same applies to sports teams that are on the field of play every week. As you know, I love football. One of the things I have learned about football is that you cannot show up the day of the game without preparing yourself to face your opponent. You will most likely face defeat if you do that. 

Whether you are a soldier, a football player, or passionate follower of Christ, we must be in the game. We must prepare ourselves for every battle. We must prepare ourselves to live life as living sacrifices. We must have our head and our heart in the game. As we continue to walk through this verse, we can draw the conclusion that true worship requires a commitment of the head and the heart. It is the introduction of truth into the mind which finds its way into the heart that brings about a transformation of worldview and concepts about living life as a passionate follower of Christ. Everyone has a worldview. A worldview is simply this. It is the beliefs, experiences, and ideals that shape the decisions we make and it is the focus of our life.

I love what the late Dallas Willard stated in his book “The Renovation of the Heart.” He stated that the process of transformation carries the idea that we have been formed but change is needed. We need to be transformed because the current formation process is not working for us. 

We have been trying the same things. We have been doing the same things but nothing is happening. There is no significant change occurring in our lives. Clayton has line he always uses and it is applicable here…. “So how is that working out for you?” If things are not working out perhaps what you need is a transformation of the heart and not just the mind.

We are not a blank canvas. We all have things written on our hearts which has formed and shaped who we are. We have all been formed and shaped by our experiences, by our culture, by our education, and by the influences in our lives wether they be friend or foe. This formation of self effects our ideas, beliefs, feelings, habits, choices, bodily tendencies, and social relations. Some would call this our worldview as it is out of one’s worldview that one lives and acts. 

While we may not be able to control the issues of life, we can certainly control our responses. While I am not responsible for another’s actions, I am fully responsible for my actions and my responses to life. Our reactions to the issues of life will often reveal how we have been formed. Think about this is in this manner. Have you ever said something or acted in a way that reminded you of your parents and the way they responded to issues in life. I can remember a time that I was verbally correcting my son about a particular issue. In the middle of my verbal diatribe, I suddenly did that thing that we as kids say we will never do. I don’t even remember the phrase but I remember hearing my dad scolding me and now I was doing the same thing. I went from anger to laughing because of the statement I made. I am sure it was something like, “If you don’t stop crying, I will give you something to cry about.” Or, “This is going to hurt me more than it does you.” Whatever the comment, I broke into laughter because I couldn’t believe that I was my dad in that moment.

The idea here is that we all have been formed and shaped even when we don’t see the formation taking place. Let me illustrate this in this way. When you get angry what is the first reaction you have. Is it to curse? Is it to throw things? Is it to scream? Is it to clam up? How you respond is a result of how you have been formed and shaped. How you respond is a result of the conditioning of your heart, your emotions, and your will. If you have presented yourselves as living sacrifices and your heart has been transformed, then your actions and reactions will be different than a person who has not been transformed. As we are transformed, how we respond will be an act of worship and an act of living as living sacrifices.

How do we know we are being transformed? I turn your attention to Colossians 3:9-10. Listen to what Paul says here.  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Again in Ephesians 4:19-24 Paul once again gives us insight into how we are being renewed. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

In these two passages we have three areas of our life that reveal how we are being renewed or transformed. First, are you being renewed in the knowledge of who God? Through the transformation process our knowledge of God, life and our worldview is being changed. We are being transformed into the original intent of God’s creation for us. Second, we know we are being renewed and transformed in the spirit of our mind when we begin to understand what true righteousness and holiness is. We understand this is not legalistic, but freedom. We understand that we are not holy by our actions but by the actions of God on our behalf. In this our understanding that we are being transformed and renewed to God’s original will and intent. The result is how we think and what we think is being changed.

How are we transformed? We know we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, but how do we do this? First, we study the word of God to understand God’s commands, His principles, and His ways that bring us success in the purest sense. Second, we need to recognize what God has done for us and is doing in us. Too often we fail to remember and respond to the mercies of God. Too often we are to achieve what has already been achieved on our behalf. Third, we must practice the presence of God. We must realize that God is with and that He wants to reveal Himself to us, in us, and through us. We must realize that God wants us to be transformed and that he is with us to help us achieve transformation. Fourth, we must live out the life of God in everything we do. It is for this reason that we cannot use the excuse, “that is just the way I am.” Why? Because we are we being changed and transformed. It may be true that is what you are but it does not mean that is how you should stay. God is in the business of transformation.

So how are you doing? Are you being transformed? How is your life different today than it was last year, or last week? How about yesterday? Today is the day for change. Today is the moment we can be restored to God’s purposes and His will.

 

 

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October 14, 2013 · 12:10 pm

Worship – Being Transformed

Peninsula Community Church

October 6, 2013

Worship – the Transformed Life

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Let’s review what we have learned so far. We have learned that what we value we will worship and what we worship will control us. We have learned that God desires that we live as living sacrifices. We have learned that all of life is worship and all worship is about life. Therefore, we cannot and must not be duplicitous in regards to the sacred secular divide. We cannot put on and take off our spiritual worship as we would an old garment.

Last week, we talked about presenting ourselves as living sacrifices. In this regard, one of the things we must also recognize about the term “present” is that it carries with it the idea that we present ourselves but we must also continue to present ourselves as living sacrifices. In other words, we present ourselves to God as a one time event, but we must continue to present ourselves as living sacrifices on an ongoing basis. It is an ongoing act of surrender.

Because the act of presenting ourselves as living sacrifices is an ongoing act, to be effective we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The point to be made here is that presenting ourselves as living sacrifices is not a passive act. It does not happen by osmosis. It must be an active act of pursuing God’s will and His ways. Presenting ourselves is also a proactive act. The term proactive means to prepare for and to anticipate the issues and circumstances that will arise in our life’s. The fact is, we don’t sit and wait passively until an issue arises; but we are always in the process of renewal and transformation. We don’t wait until we are in a situation that we need God to be prepare ourselves. We prepare ourselves daily.

Let me illustrate this in this way. When our troops go overseas to fight on the front line they do not wait to get on the frontline to train and practice their warfare movements. They prepare and train on an ongoing basis. They would be foolish to wait until they are in a battle to learn how to fight and protect their buddies. As believers, too often we are ill equipped to fight the battles we face because we have not been proactive in our preparation for battle and for growth.

I know some of you are tired of my comments about football but an analogy fits here. So please bear with me. Before a game, the coach and his staff send the players through the drills that will prepare them to successfully compete against the other team. Once they are in the game, their opponent may throw plays at them that they have not seen before but if they are trained and developed they will be able to adjust to the situation on the fly. One of the things that I love about Coach Saban from the University of Alabama is the fact is that his team has been trained to adjust and meet every adversity they face. One of the things he does is to train his players to play to the end of the game. When you watch an University of Alabama game, you will find that Saban coaches to the end of the game and he expects his players to play to the end. God also expects us to be in the game and to play until the end. Too often we give up and give in because we are ill equipped to endure until the end.

Whether you are a soldier, a football player, or passionate follower of Christ we must be in the game. We must prepare ourselves for every battle. We must prepare ourselves to live life as living sacrifices. We must have our head and our heart in the game. As we preview this verse we find that Paul is making the conclusion that true worship requires a commitment of the head and the heart. It is the introduction of truth into the mind which finds its way into the heart that brings about a transformation of worldview and concepts about living life as a passionate follower of Christ. Everyone one of us have a worldview. A worldview is simply this. It is the beliefs, experiences, and ideals that shape the decisions we make and the focus of our life.

How does this work? Basically, what we allow into our minds affects our transformation. Let me ask you? “Do you spend more time in the word than in the newspaper?” “Do you spend more time speaking with others than with God?” “What are the thoughts that you entertain?” When you recognize evil thoughts what do you do with them?” “When you hear gossip and evil surmising, what is your response?” The answer to these questions will determine how you are being transformed.

How does this take place? It happens through the renewing of the mind which leads to a transformation of the heart. This word transformation is an interesting word. It is the Greek word “metamorphoo.” It means to change. It is from the same word we get the English word “metamorphous.” Metamorphous means a change of form. Like the caterpillar that is changed into a butterfly or the tadpole that is changed into a frog, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. It is also noteworthy that the word “metamorphoo” is in fact made up of two words. The first is “mete” which means “being with.” The second word is “morphoo” and means “change in form.” When these two words are combined we understand the truth of the word. When are “with Christ,” we are “changed in form.” The change comes from the inside out and impacts who we are in reality. It is a decision to act differently. It is a decision to live in obedience to God’s will, His ways, and His Word.

Paul also speaks to a contrast between being conformed to the world’s image versus being transformed by the renewing of one’s mind. How are we transformed? It is by way of the truth that comes from God’s word. We need the truth that sets us free. It is also truth that leads us to faith. Truth alone in the sense of intellectual prowess falls short of God’s purpose and His plan for our lives. The key for truth to be effective is that it must find root in our hearts so that the truth received is applied in order to bring transformation to who we are and how we act.

The late Dallas Willard has stated that we all have been formed by the teaching, experiences, relationships, and emotions of our lives. But, God’s desire is to transform us into His image. We are to become more like Him in terms of the way we act, the we way we speak, and the we respond to life’s issues.

Colossians 3:9-10 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Romans 8:29-30 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Let me illustrate this in this way. When you get angry what is the first reaction you have. Is it to curse? Is it to throw things? Is it to scream? Is it to clam up? In this case, how you respond is a result of the conditioning of your heart, your emotions, and your will. If you have presented yourselves as living sacrifices and your heart has been transformed, then your actions and reactions will be different than a person who has not been transformed. As we are transformed, how we respond will be an act of worship and an act of living as living sacrifices.

How are we transformed? We are transformed by the renewing of our minds but how do we do this? First, we study the word of God to understand God’s commands, His principles, and His ways that bring us success in the purest sense. Second, we need to recognize what God has done for us and is doing in us. Too often we fail to remember and respond to the mercies of God. Third, we must practice the presence of God. We must realize that God is with and that He wants to reveal Himself to us, in us, and through us. Fourth, we must live out the life of God in everything we do. It is for this reason that we cannot use the excuse, “that is just the way I am.” Why? Because we are we being changed and transformed.

So how are you doing? Are you being transformed? How is your life different today than it was last year, or last week? How about yesterday? Today is the day for change. Today is the moment we can be restored to God’s purposes and His will.

 

 

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