LIFE CHANGE: Formation

Pastor Terry Inman

4-15-12

 

Last week we talked about faith in the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ and how it activates our spiritual metamorphous. A metamorphous is a manifest change in appearance, character, condition, or function. It’s used to describe the radical change that occurs when a creeping caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly.

Spring is my favorite time of the year because everywhere you look new life is emerging. Birds break out of their shells, blades of green push up through the soil. Blossoms sprout from pruned branches. Blooms unfold with fragrant color. All creation is a parade of death, burial and rebirth.    

Our theme passage for this series describes the process of this Life-Change. “God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindess he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.” Rom. 2:4 (MSG)     

Jesus mandates water baptism a our celebration of our transformation. In Mark 16.16 He said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

The Apostle Peter also confirmed this. He says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Acts 2.38 (NIV)

I heard a really good explanation of what it means to repent. “Pent” is used in “penthouse”. A penthouse is usually on the top floor. Repentance is more than turning around and going a new direction. It is returning to something much higher! God is calling us up to a whole new life-change!

The bible says, If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Cor. 5.17 (NIV) Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, is a pro-type of our personal transformation.

So baptism in water is our début from spiritual death to spiritual life. It is like a dramatic sketch. The bible says, Going under the water is a burial of your old life; coming up out of it is a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ.  Col. 2.12 (MSG)

Some of you may have expressed your faith in Jesus and experienced this life change last Sunday or maybe it was in the last few weeks or months.

Your next step is to be baptized. It is the first stage of our new life change! It is our rite of passage into Christ and His body the church.

Once we have taken this vital step of water baptism we are off to a great start. I will never forget a few weeks ago when we had spontaneous baptisms. At the conclusion of the service over 40 people were baptized!

Next Sunday morning, we will begin our worship service with more exciting baptisms. If you have not been baptized just call our office early this week. We will send you some brief instructions. Invite your family and friends. This is your day to declare your faith in Jesus! Bring a change of clothing at 10:00 am and we will prepare you for your own baptism.

This Life Change series is about four factors that help facilitate our spiritual growth. Last week we talked about a supernatural life-encounter. I;kt is a life-altering experience with the living Lord Jesus Christ. 

Today I want to talk about Life Formation. The intentional integration of biblical truth along with prayerful conversation shapes our spiritual life!   

Next week we will cover life mentoring or coaching. Authentic and accountable interaction promotes wholeness and accelerates life-change.

Finally life-challenge is about the temptations, limitations, and misfortunes that we all face. These tests and trials can also advance our spiritual life. Don’t miss any of this. There is something here for everyone new or mature believer in Christ. We are always changing! Right!

We are “being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3.18b (NIV)

So how do we make these changes. Well its not rocket science. Spiritual maturity is not very different from physical, emotional or mental maturity.

Life formation is simply spiritual development. The Apostle Paul took very seriously the spiritual formation of those he brought to Jesus. My dear children I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you. Galatians. 4.19 (NIV)

The two foundational building blocks in our spiritual formation are bible integration and prayerful conversation. When we get into the scriptures the scriptures get into us! The bible even makes a great prayer book. When you don’t know what to pray just open up the psalms.

Bible integration is more than reading, reflecting, or even studying. It is the observation and assimilation of biblical truth. Prayer that promotes spiritual growth is not a shopping list of our wants and needs. It is a continuous dialogue with our creator and life-changer.    

Scripture is as critical to spiritual development as food is to physical growth. For beginners the word of God is like baby’s milk. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” 1Pet. 2.2 (NIV)

As we mature we move from milk to meat. Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.  Heb. 5.13-14 (NIV)

It’s not just the consumption of spiritual food that develops maturity. It is the constant use. If all you do is eat and not exercise you will get fat. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1.22 (NIV) Bible integration is feeding and heeding the scriptures.

Here’s how the bible gets fully integrated into our lives. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  2 Tim. 3.16-17

First scripture is God-breathed or inspired. It is not just the thoughts and words of human authors. “You must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along (prompted) by the Holy Spirit.”  2 Pet. 1.20-21(NIV)

Humans who were influenced by God transcribed scripture. Men spoke and wrote from God as they were moved or led by God. So as we read and reflect on God’s word we are also moved and led by God.

God’s spirit helps us with this integration of God’s word into our lives. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4.12 (NIV)

God’s powerful probing truth renews our minds, our attitudes and behaviors. Our value system changes from mere temporal values to eternal values. The scripture I read earlier demonstrates how this works.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Tim. 3.16-17 (NIV)

So lets look at these four ways scripture effects change in our lives.

(1.)       It teaches, instructs or informs us. It reveals God’s truth. Jesus prayed, Sanctify (set apart) them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17.17 (NIV) The scriptures tell us what is right.

(2.)       It rebukes or reproves us. It tells us what’s wrong. God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Psa. 19.11

(1.)       It corrects us. It shows us how to change what’s wrong. Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.  Psa. 119.133 Correction here is a word that means to straighten up or straiten out what wrong and make it right. This is re-formation.

(2.)       It trains us. It puts new practices disciplines and structures in our lives that also change us. Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practiceis like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matt. 7.24 (NIV)

So when you read and reflect on scripture, make note of what it is teaching you. Is it exposing something that is not right in your beliefs or behaviors? Let it change your course. Put what you are learning into practice and you will experience life change. That’s bible integration.

Now let’s talk about prayerful conversation. Bible integration is how God talks to us. Prayer is how we talk to him. In fact scripture can shape our conversation with God.

The reason I like the word conversation is that prayer is too often a monologue. It’s consumer communication. We give God our list of needs and wants. That’s a very small part of the conversation. How long would you stay in a friendship where the only time people talk to you is when they are asking for something?

Prayer that brings life change is a dialog with our Father. He knows us, he cares deeply about us and he loves to hear from us. He also wants to encourage us and counsel us. Call to meand I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.  Jer. 33.3 (NIV)

Religious leaders in the time of Christ taught their followers the art of prayer. So Jesus disciples asked Jesus for his methods.

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11.1 (NIV)

Notice he didn’t say teach us how to pray but teach us to pray! So Jesus demonstrated a short and simple prayer to help them learn to pray. We know it as the Lord’s Prayer.

There are five features to this prayerful conversation.  

(1.) Admiration: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. This is a conversation with our loving Father. How do you talk to your Dad?  First, show him respect. Praise God for His good name. Learn the names and titles of God because they reflect his character and his influence. Begin your conversation with love and respect and it will fill you with hope. 

(2.) Submission: Your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Sub-mission simply means to yield your agenda to his purposes. Your kingdom come your will be done. So before we charge off with the shopping list of our needs and wants. Let’s find out what’s on his mind. He’s the king we are his subjects. Sometimes we act like we’re the kings!  

(3.) Provision: Give today our daily bread. Now tell him how you feel and what you think you need. The bible says he knows what we need even before we ask. That’s what Fathers do they provide for our basic needs. 

(4.) Forgiveness: Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. This is so important. We constantly need forgiveness. We also need to forgive. Un-forgiveness is a debt. Jesus paid the debt for our sins so we need to release others form what we think they owe us. Forgiveness frees us to enjoy a clear conversation with our Father.

(5.) Protection: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Fathers also provide protection. God wants to protect us from temptation and deliver us form the evil one. He did that for his own son why would he do that for us.

This isn’t religion or ritual this is all stuff you would talk to a loving caring father about. This is prayerful conversation. Start talking he’s listening!

So let me wrap it up. If you are just beginning this life change, get baptized. Jesus wants you to some show and tell. Then get into his word and let his word get into you. Turn it into a daily dialog with your father!