We have just gone into a new year. New Year resolutions were made, many of which have been broken already.
- Change is needed
- Change is possible
- A new year is a good time to implement change
But things won't change because you had more to drink this year or because you shot off more fireworks. Things will only change if you change. You and I don't change lives - God does and he uses His Word to convict stubborn hearts of sin.
Salvation starts with change and to live differently we must think differently. Repentance is 'metanoia' in the Greek meaning a 'change of mind'.
Rom 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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.
This passage speaks of transformation (change) by the renewing of our minds.
Honest Question: Is the Church radically different from the world?
Are we strangers, aliens, pilgrims? Or are we conformed to this world? If so our minds must be renewed To change we've first got to be convinced that we need to change and secondly we've got to want to change and lastly we must take action eg: start with fasting and praying.
As mentioned to act differently we must think differently. Living by rules imposed on you that are not inward convictions is RELIGION. 2 Cor 5:17 says that "If any man be in Christ he is a new creation old things have passed away behold all things have become new."
Eph 4:17-19 & 22-32 17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more... You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
God doesn't magically wave a wand and our habits change we've got to exercise our free will and put things to death. ie: strangle or kill them.
Humans are creatures of habit. We tend to act as we acted in the past and like a river running through a canyon, the longer the habit continues the more deeply it becomes ingrained and the harder it is to change. This is true of good and bad habits.
A) Learn good habits
- Bible study
- Attending church
- Teaching others
B) Eliminate bad habits
- Foul language
- Uncontrollable temper
There are things that must change if we want to change but I just want to focus on one today.
CHANGE YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE
- What is your purpose in life?
- What are you passionate about?
- What drives you?
- What do you think about?
- What do you spend your money on?
- What do you spend you time on?
BEFORE PEOPLE ARE WILLING TO CHANGE THEY MUST BE MOTIVATED.
Most of us who are exposed to God's Word and ministry know that there are things in our lives that need to change and yet we come to the close of another year and they haven't changed.
SOME THINGS THAT SHOULD MOTIVATE US TO CHANGE OUR PURPOSE IN LIFE LOVE AND DEDICATION TO GOD.
As an example, consider the Macedonians.
2 Cor 8:1-7 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But just as you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us - see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
They first gave themselves to the LORD. An unconverted person thinks giving 10% of your salary to God is crazy, but once you have given yourself to God, giving 10% to Him is just a starting point.
Honest Question: Do you tithe?
God doesn't drop money into the church or missions bank accounts. Sadly many professing Christians are described in Haggai 1:4-9.
Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?"
Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."
This is what the Lord Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the Lord. "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the Lord Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house."
Changing our conduct becomes much easier when we are totally dedicated to God's service. LOVE IS THE STRONGEST FORCE IN EXISTENCE. A parent will run in to a burning building to save their child. In John 3:6 we read that God "so loved" the world that he gave his only Son. In Romans 2:4 we see that "The love of God leads to repentance". If you are having difficulty changing you need to learn to appreciate God's mercy and blessing and love him in return. Jesus said that if you love him you will (not must) keep his commandments (John 14v15,21,23 & 24).
IMITATION OF CHRIST OR A CHRIST-LIKE PERSON
The desire to be like someone we admire is another powerful motivation.
Sports hero's inspire people. In 1 Cor 11:1 Paul says, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ".
DESIRE FOR ETERNAL LIFE NOT ETERNAL PUNISHMENT
1 Cor 9:25-27 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Athletes control their habits to win temporary earthly honour. Christians have a strong motive - We seek the crown of eternal life. Lack of motivation is the major reason why people do not change to please God. They do not have sufficient desire to change, instead they want to please themselves or their friends or family. When we determine to please God and realize that serving him is our most important purpose in life, we will find the means to make the necessary changes.