Romans 7:18 “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”
There’s no such thing as self-help in God’s kingdom. If self-help was as effective as its promoted to be, we wouldn’t have needed Jesus Christ to die in our place and rise again conquering sin, Satan and death. We all can identify things in our minds, hearts and lives that we’d like to change. Many of us search for answers in the strategies of human reason than the power of the Holy Spirit. The reality is our will is limited in its ability to bring sustainable and permanent change to our hearts. Stop trying to change yourself by your own will and just start following Jesus. When you surrender to Jesus as your Lord, and you start to follow him out of relationship, transformation is a natural byproduct of the work of the Spirit’s power in your life. Paul said to the Romans, “If you live according to the flesh you will die but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (and daughters) of God.” Selah!
Acts 3:6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
The context of this event in Scripture is the profound momentum of the early church. Souls are being saved, lives are being changed and miracles are a common occurrence. Two key church leaders, Peter and John are walking to the temple at the hour of prayer when they encounter a lame beggar, asking for money. Peter responds, (paraphrase) “I don’t have any money on me but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk.” Peter acknowledges what he doesn’t have but simply gives out of the 4 things he does have: 1) A revelation of the name of Jesus Christ; 2) The anointing of the Holy Spirit; 3) Faith for healing; 4) A love for people. Peter possessed something far more valuable than riches, he owned a tangible faith in Jesus Christ. Money would have sustained the beggar temporarily but what Peter passed on transformed this man’s life forever. You can only pass onto others what you own for yourself. Frustration arises when we try to pass on what we haven’t cultivated in our lives. Too often we see needs around us but lack the resource material or spiritual to help the situation. Rather than letting these moments go by passively, we need to adopt a posture of personal growth in God to become a solution to someone else’s problem. You can’t lead others where you haven’t gone and you can’t help bring transformation in others where you haven’t grown in authority to do so. I encourage you to grow in a revelation of who Jesus is and what his name can do in people’s lives. Spend time in prayer and grow in a greater measure of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Increase your faith through hearing God’s Word and be ready and willing to reach out to others through practical demonstrations of God’s love. Explosive Insights!
We are a culture enamored with changing the external, thinking if we change our jobs, image and relationships that our lives will be happier. We have TV shows that promote this ideology and the web is saturated with images and stories of people who proclaim to be happier because they lost weight, made a million dollars or bought their dream car. Whilst being healthy, prospering and achieving life goals are admirable and meaningful pursuits by themselves, they might only make you 10% happier at best. Real change happens from the inside out. Romans 12:2 exhorts us to not be conformed to the pattern of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As we meditate upon those things that are godly, excellent and life giving, our minds are renewed to think like our creator and our spirits come into alignment with Gods perspective on our lives. If you desire an extreme makeover in 2016, begin with renewing your mind with the truth of Gods Word and you will discover you’ll be happier far beyond anything this world can offer you.
Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
A new year brings with it new hopes and resolutions. The truth is by Feb 1 most people’s new year resolutions are discarded for the onslaught of everyday demands. Don’t let this be you. The bible exhorts us to put off the old self and put on the new self, patterned after Christ. If you are going to embrace the new you in 2015, you need to pay attention to your thoughts. Where the mind goes, the body follows. What is your mind predominately preoccupied with? Faith, hope and love or doubt, fear and hate. The bible exhorts us to focus our minds on the things that are above and not on the things that are below. Millions of people are unhappy and unfulfilled because they only ever look horizontally around them at the things this world is preoccupied with but God is inviting us to get a vertical perspective on life by looking heavenward and seeing life from Gods perspective. Don’t struggle in your strength to put off the old self but ask for Gods help to empower you to be the new you in 2015!
Here are the top 5 trends that will define our culture’s future more than any other:
- Speed – Life is getting quicker and quicker and it’s only going to increase in momentum. The blinding rate of change will touch every aspect of your life.
- Complexity – Life is becoming increasingly complex and multi-dimensional. The complexity of life will impact every sphere of society including your personal life.
- Risk – As much as we seek safety and security, life in the future will involve greater risk. We will all be exposed to new risk and higher risks.
- Change – If you don’t adapt quickly to an ever-changing environment you will simply be overwhelmed by the force of change. You need to embrace flexibility.
- Surprise – Life is full of surprises and they will come almost daily in the future. Your sense of logic and process will be interrupted by sudden-lies.
How do we respond to the interplay of these challenging dynamics in our lives? I think it’s so important to be informed and forewarned. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. If you know something is coming your way, you can better anticipate it and prepare for it.
I think it’s important that we place our faith in what will stand strong in the midst of the cultural upheaval that is happening around us. Jesus said, ‘In this world you will have tribulation but take heart I have overcome the world.’ Faith in Jesus is going to be an even bigger issue in the future as cultural super-shifts test our anxiety levels and undermine our shallow values.
The future is fast approaching and the church needs to be prepared for it. A new wineskin is needed for the new wine that God wants to pour through the church to meet the needs that will surface as a result of the massive forces that will shape our world.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 ‘For everything there is a season and a time for ever matter under heaven.’
Life is filled with times and seasons. Just as there is summer, autumn, winter and spring built into the cycle of seasons in nature, there are spiritual seasons of pruning, preparation and productivity, among others that make up our lives.
One key to being fruitful in life is knowing and embracing the season you are in. A lack of awareness of your current season could result in you trying to make something happen in your present reality that’s more suitable for your future. We need to match our expectation and application to the time and season God has us in.
There are 2 dimensions of time – Chronos and Kairos. Chronos time is the ticking of the clock and the turning of the calendar. Kairos time is the divine window of opportunity that God presents to us to accomplish something powerful and unique. Most of life is lived in Chronos time but we have to be aware of the Kairos moments God is presenting to us, if we’re going to seize the season we are in.
Seasons don’t last forever and so we need to be able to transition into a new season with grace and wisdom. Seasonal transitions can occur through a change of location, job, career, calling, relationship or financial circumstances. But seasonal transitions can also occur in your life in less obvious ways, while you are still in the same job, same location and same circumstances. God works in mysterious ways and is always at work in us, regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in.
Embracing transitions in life effectively requires lots of prayer, God’s grace, input from wise counsel, paying attention to the sign posts along the way and not holding onto anything so tightly that we actually have no room for the new thing God wants to do in us and through us. What season are you in? Are you in the middle of a transition? Gods with you and will instruct you in the way you should go!
Read 2 Corinthians 3:18
How does transformation actually occur? Many of us long for it but do we actually know how it happens. After years of discipling and counselling people through the process of transformation, I believe it happens best in 3 spheres.
Call to Personal Obedience – Often we are quick to try and resolve external circumstances rather than dealing with root causes. This is merely a band-aid attempt to deal with symptoms rather than the underlying issue in our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 says, ‘Guard your heart, for out of it flow the springs of life.’ Change is more than a white-knuckled attempt to take responsibility for external circumstances. A complete change of heart is required. One of the first steps to a change of heart is answering the call to obey the Scriptures and the leading of the Holy Spirit in our personal relationship with God.
Call to living in a community of grace and truth – This is where the church comes in. A healthy church isn’t just marked by acceptance and affirmation but accountability. Jesus came not just in grace but in truth (Jn 1:14). Grace only isn’t complete without truth. We must speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). It’s only when we confront the truth about ourselves in a grace filled environment that change is made possible.
Call to a lifestyle of reflection – This third sphere is characterised by daily spiritual disciplines. These include prayer, fasting, solitude, worship, bible study, reading, silence and journalling. Guard against compartmentalising your spiritual life from the rest of your life. A Grecian mechanistic worldview isolates reflection to a ‘quiet time’ but God is central to everything in life, not peripheral to the busyness of our lives. Do you have a prayer time or a life of prayer? There’s a big difference.
All 3 of these transformation spheres need to be held in tension with each other for deep personal change to occur. To the degree we are personally transformed will be the degree to which those we serve are transformed.