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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Our Ongoing Transformation

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt


I’d like to share with you an important principle of life. That principle is this: How a person conducts their daily life; their attitudes, conduct of behavior, and diligence or lack of it, tells you much more about that person than what they would ever tell you about themself. People often speak higher of themselves than what they actually live out. You've already noticed those in your own life who are always late and make excuses for it, yet don’t believe they are habitually late. You've already noticed those who make promises or pledges they never keep. You've already noticed those who boast of great things but do little. I say this not to be critical of anyone. The opposite is true. We all have areas in our life where we esteem ourselves or view ourselves as more developed and mature than we truly are. Yet the truth is, we all have areas of needed growth and development and areas we need to mature in – and that especially holds true for spiritual growth and maturity.

We see the principle of what people say they’ll do vs. what they actually do play out in a parable Jesus told in Matthew 21:28-32. Jesus said, "What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. "Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. "Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”

Nothing Jesus teaches is for the purpose of producing condemnation so don’t you let what I am writing produce that in you now. If what He teaches you produces conviction, or in other words – if it helps point out something within you that you need to ask the Holy Spirit to help you change in – that’s good! It means that your heart is sensitive enough to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and note that need for change.

Each and every one of us is in need of ongoing change to happen in our life. We all need the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to help us become more like Jesus. To be honest, it’s an unattainable goal. We will never attain perfection or be perfectly like Jesus. That is why Jesus came and paid the penalty for the sins and imperfections in our life. Our faith in Jesus and in His sacrifice of taking the punishment for our sins is what makes us righteous before our Heavenly Father. Our faith in what Jesus did is what makes us spotless in God’s eyes. What a magnificent thing! But, we still see our own imperfections and flaws and areas of needed change. Jesus cares about them and desires transformation within us because they affect and work to hinder our blessing in this life. They also get in the way of our ability to influence others and for the Lord.

2 Cor. 3:18 speaks of the need for this ongoing transformation saying, “And we …all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." This verse reminds us of the need to experience life-long transformation that will come only with the help of the Holy Spirit within us. So, we don’t beat ourselves up but we do take honest assessments of the need for transformation as the Holy Spirit shows us.

For those who don’t adopt this attitude, Proverbs 26:12 will be their life. It says, “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” This person may love Jesus but if he won’t let the Lord work change in him, he’ll experience very little transformation and hinder the blessing God wants for him.

God’s Word is powerful! Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes the very thoughts and attitudes of our heart.” God’s Word has the inherent ability to bring transformation to our lives if we will put faith in the promise of God’s Holy Spirit strengthening us to make those changes.

Just knowing about God and His Word can become a place of pride. 1 Cor. 8:1 “…Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Actions to what God instructs us in produces transformation. It’s about what we do, not just what we say. Is the fruit of the Spirit of God actually evident and an ongoing pattern of your day-to-day lifestyle?

The Apostle Paul closes out today’s Fresh Manna speaking of the need for spiritual development and maturity putting it in words I could never improve upon.

Galatians 5:22-26 “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit's leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or irritate one another, or be jealous of one another."

Let’s not just know about the fruit of the Spirit. Spiritual maturity is developed in the person who has developed the fruit of the Spirit within their character. That only happens over time and through transformation! So keep on keeping on and keep changing with the help of the Holy Spirit within you.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns" 

In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
 


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