Transformation From Sinner To Saint

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Paul declares, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2).
Transformation is change.  It is a complete, radical, change under the power of God that finds expression in character and conduct.  The change impacts every aspect of a person’s being.  The change is in God’s direction motivated by both faith in Him and love for Him.  The direction of the change is based upon conformity to God’s Word.  The change involves resistance to the forces of the world that would attempt to assimilate us to the sinful aspects of the culture in which we live.
The Change Begins With The Renewal of the Mind.
You and I must change our thinking and bring it into conformity to God’s Word.  The goal is to conform to God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will.  The human mind must come into contact with God’s revealed and inspired Word (Rom. 10:17). Faith in God comes by hearing His Word.  We must begin to see ourselves as God sees us with no masks and no excuses.  Looking into the perfect Law of Liberty (James 1:25) will confirm our need for change from a life of sinful conduct to one of righteous conduct.
The Change Continues With A Change of Heart.
Repentance is a change of heart with regard to sin.  We turn away from sin and turn to God (Acts 3:19, 17:30).  Repentance is a universal command of God.  Each person must realize that he/she is lost (eternally doomed to hell) because of sin.  Our sin places our soul in peril.  Each person must realize that salvation is only through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).  Every soul in eternal peril must change their hearts by renouncing sin and setting out on a new course as a servant of righteousness (Rom. 6:16-17).
The Change Continues With a Change of Our Spiritual State.
In sin, we are lost.  In Christ, we are saved.  The transition from sinner to saint is not complete until we have confessed Christ and been baptized into Christ (Acts 8:37-39; Gal. 3:26-29).  We must undergo a new birth.  We must be born of water and Spirit in order to become a part of God’s kingdom–the church.  The new birth produces a new creature and a new life (John 3:3-5; Rom. 6:4).  We stop being the servants of sin and we begin being servants of righteousness.
The Change Continues With A Change of Life.
Paul states, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Cor. 3:18).  The image (eikon) of Christ is summed up in all of the moral excellencies found in the character (impress) of Jesus Christ.  We represent and manifest these qualities by imitation of His example.  We must put on Christ.  We are transformed into His image by following/obeying His Word, imitating His life, and duplicating His work in as much as it is possible for us do so (preaching God’s word, compassion for the lost, the poor, the suffering, etc.).  We must put on the new man which is created in Christ Jesus unto righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24).  Pursue the sacred (Col. 3:1).  Put to death the former lusts of the flesh (Eph. 4:22).  Put on Christ in all His moral excellencies.  The Christian life involves a perfecting of holiness in the fear of God (II Cor. 7:1).
Change is Possible.
Change is possible, but it requires a change of thinking, a change of heart, a change of spiritual status, and a change of life.  Are you ready for a change that will bless your life now and secure the promise and hope of eternal life?  This change is possible by obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16).



Elements of Worship

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What is worship? Wiliam Temple makes the following comments, “Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness, nourishment of mind by His truth, purifying of imagination by His beauty, opening of the heart to His love, and submission of will to His purpose. All this gathered up in adoration is the greatest of all expressions of which we are capable” (quoted in Cries of the Heart by Ravi Zacharias, 207).
Worship is adoration of deity. There is only one God and worship is to be directed to Him. God is a spirit and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
What are the Elements of Worship?
In Malachi chapters one and two, the prophet addresses the sins of the people of God who had perverted worship. Perverted worship is a sign of perverted hearts. He calls God’s people back to pure devotion and adoration of God. He calls them back to holiness. Adoration of God in the spirit of holiness is needed today.
It is impossible to worship God without love. God loved His own people, but they failed to love Him back. Malachi 1:2. Love for God is manifested by keeping His commandments (John 14:15). Disobedience to God is iniquity. Love rejoices not in iniquity but rejoices in truth (I Cor. 13:6).
It is impossible to worship God without reverence. Malachi states, “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name…” (Mal. 1:6). The priests corrupted worship and so despised God’s name (authority). Reverence for God involves listening to God’s authority in Scripture.
It is impossible to worship God without sacrifice. Malachi continues his rebuke of the priests. “Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts? (Mal. 1:7-8). God deserves the very best that we can offer. Our sacrifices must reflect our love and reverence for Him.
It is impossible to worship God acceptably with the wrong motive. Malachi chastises the people because they had profaned the sacred (Mal. 1:12). They were more intent on pleasing themselves than pleasing God. Worship demands God pleasers.
It is impossible to worship God without instruction in truth. Malachi offers some strong words in 2:7, “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.” Honorable worship is guided by truth. Pure hearts are guided by truth. Vain worship is defined by teaching the doctrines of men rather than of God (Matt. 15:9).
It is impossible to worship God without obedience. Malachi addresses the desparity between the everyday lives of the people and their approach to God. They mistreated the wives of their youth by divorcing them (Mal. 2:13-16). What they did in their family life had an impact on their worship. They failed to honor God in their daily lives. Corruption has a way of permeating all of life. They failed to maintain the sanctity of marriage as God had commanded. Their corrupted hearts led to perverted judgment (Mal. 2:17).
Malachi cries out against the sins of the priests and the people. He calls for repentance that will lead to a renewal of the love of the sacred. Pure hearts will lead to pure worship. Corrupt hearts find worship wearisome. The pure in heart delight in the presence of God. Don’t measure your worship experience by externals. Measure it by your own heart.

Challenge Yourself!

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Caleb was a member of the tribe of Judah.  He was selected at the age of forty to help eleven other men spy out the land of Canaan.  The children of Israel had just fled Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, encamped at Sinai and were now poised to enter the promised land.  Twelve spies were sent to investigate the land.  Ten of the spies brought back an evil report saying that the Israelites were too weak to conquer the inhabitants of the land.  They balked in unbelief.  Joshua and Caleb spoke of Israel’s capability to conquer the land.  They spoke by faith in God.  They desired to be obedient to God’s command (Deut. 7:1-4).  The unbelief of the ten spies infected the rest of the people and they feared and refused to go up and conquer the land.  For this rebellion, God punished them.  Those twenty years old and up were sentenced to die in the wilderness before entering into Canaan.  Two exceptions were made to this decree by God.  Joshua and Caleb would be rewarded for their faith and they would possess the land (Num. 13:6,8; 17-20).  Clearly, they had a different spirit within them.  They were motivated by faith in the one, true, and living God.
God promised Caleb, “Him will I bring into the land whereinto he went: and his seed shall possess it” (Num. 14:24).  Caleb was preserved by God.  He endured forty years of wildnerness wanderings with God’s people.  He spent five years with Joshua in the conquest of Canaan.  His strength was not abated at the age of eighty-five when he made a special request of Joshua.
Caleb’s request was made during the time that Joshua was dividing the land of Canaan among the tribes of Israel.  It is recorded in Joshua 14:6-12.  “And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.  Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said” (Joshua 14:10-12).
Caleb’s inheritance was located in the the middle of the land given to the tribe of Judah.  Joshua heeded Caleb’s request and gave him Hebron and the surrounding area for his possession.  Thus God’s promise to him was fulfilled.
Even though Caleb was advanced in years, he challenged himself to accomplish great things.  His words not only speak of his physical strength and ability, but they resonate with confidence in God.
Will you take up the challenge?  Challenge yourself in some new way in 2014.  Consider some of these suggestions to help motivate you.
Challenge yourself to learn something new.  It is possible to continue learning even though one is advancing in years.  Why develop a new skill or ability?  There are many areas of work in the Lord’s kingdom that we can apply this principle to.  Have you ever taught a Bible class?  Have you lead the singing?  Have you written a book?  Have you ever attempted to write a hymn?  Why not explore your potential?
Challenge yourself to overcome a weakness.  Must we continually perpetuate our weaknesses?  Have we become dependent upon them for excuses for our failures?  What about overcoming procrastination, lateness, absenteeism from the worship assemblies, lukewarmness and other weaknesses that become besetting sins?
Challenge yourself to grow in the knowledge of God’s Word.  Have you read through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation?  Why not set this as a personal goal in 2014?  It takes less than nine hours to read through the New Testament!  You could read through the New Testament many times in the New Year.
Challenge yourself to love deeper.  We need to grow in love.  We need to work to master love.  Love for God is the greatest commandment.  Love for neighbor is next (Matt. 22:36-39).  Pettiness, selfishness, pride and arrogance need to be slain in us and replaced with virtues that honor God.  In I Cor. 13:4-8, Paul lists the virtues of love.  Read this passage and master the characteristics that will enrich the human heart.
Challenge yourself to follow God in all things.  Caleb did this even when the command of God was demanding.  We often shrink back and hold back from obeying God when what He commands is difficult.  God’s commands are not grievous, but they can be demanding of courage and sacrifice.  We cannot pick and choose what commands we will obey.  We must do all of the will of God.
Challenge yourself to forgive.  Is there anything more demanding than forgiving your enemies?  Often times when we are injured, we desire to get even.  We seek revenge rather than reconciliation.  Jesus is the epitome of the forgiving spirit (Luke 23:34).  Forgiveness was on His lips in the final moments of His life.
When Caleb was eighty-five years old, he still had a vision for what he wanted to accomplish with his life.  He had a different spirit within him.  He was driven by faith.  What about your faith?  What’s your vision?