The arrival of a new year brings a great opportunity to renew our faith and love for God. It’s also a wonderful time to renew the joy of salvation in our hearts, as a new creation in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Many look at January 1st as a new beginning. We hear people talk about New Year’s resolutions. The previous year wasn’t good, they are aware of mistakes they made, and the New Year is an opportunity to start over.
I am thankful as believers in Jesus Christ, every day we can start over. The New Year’s Resolution is called “Confession” and it is available every single day of the year.
What does that mean? We acknowledge the sin in our life to Jesus and we ask Him for His help to stop. This gives us freedom from the effects of sin by turning to Jesus.
As a believer, January 1 is a day to remember all that God has done for you over the previous year. A day to give thanks.
Our church mission is “Transformed by God to bring hope to others through Christ.”
Today is the first of four messages on our mission.
Over the next four weeks we are going to focus on a specific key word:
1. Today we are going to dive into the idea of Transformation.
2. Next week, we are going to focus on God
3. Third week: Hope
4. Fourth week: We will close our series with Mission in Action: Christ.
Until we are changed people – transformed, experiencing a heart change, then we can’t truly reach others with the good news of hope.
There is an order to our mission statement. We believe that, first we surrender to the process of transformation and then we can bring hope to others through Christ.
· We love others because He first loved us.
If you’re a part of our church, or if you’re considering becoming a part, understanding our mission matters.
· Not just that you know the words but that you personally experience transformation, and the excitement of what God is doing in our campuses.
One of my life verses is Romans 12:1-2. I especially like the Message translation.
The Message translation reads:
12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Unlike the culture around you, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Paul – the author of those words in Romans – experienced a major transformation on the road to Damascus. He knew about personal change.
Paul spells out the doctrinal foundation for the Christian life in the first 11 chapters. Paul informs us in great detail how to actually live a surrendered life to Jesus.
Then, in chapter 12 verses 1-2 Paul tells us how our faith should be lived out. These transitional verses introduce us to the attitudes and actions which should set the Christian apart from the world in which he or she lives.
Romans 12:1 (NIV)
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Paul is calling Christians to action. His words are directed toward application. These words challenge the Christian to make a decisive commitment—to take action. It’s easy to say something and never follow through.
· As a Christian, are you walking your talk?
· Are you being transformed? Or are you conforming to the world?
· If you were on trial for being a Christian, would you be convicted?
Romans 12:2 NIV says,
2 Do not conform 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.
We believe that Christ is in the change business, constantly working to form us in His image. Praise the Lord, He’s still working on me.
Paul knows what it means to live a life of excellence, a transformed life unto the Lord. Paul was transformed.
What does it mean to be transformed? Simply: The heart of a transformed believer is surrendered to God’s will.
· A believer who is fully transformed is concerned that their words, thoughts and actions stem from a right attitude and right motive.
· As opposed to obeying God out of what you want Him to do for you.
God wants ALL of you and all of me.
· God loves you so much that He will take you exactly as you are and He loves you too much to leave you there.
· God instantly comes into your heart when you ask for His forgiveness and invite Him in. He doesn’t have to stop and think it over.
When you surrender to Jesus, He is working in you even when you can’t feel it or see it. This is a continual process until we are in heaven.
Paul urges us to be transformed. The Greek word for transformation is metamorphosis, which is defined as a marked change in appearance, character, condition, or function.
· Everyone knows that a caterpillar develops into a beautiful butterfly and that process is called metamorphosis. The beginning stage looks very different than the matured grown-up stage.
· Such is true for us as a child of God.
o When we accept Jesus we begin to act and talk differently.
o We even begin to listen to different music.
Verse 2 says we should not conform ourselves to the pattern of this world but be continually transformed by the renewing of our minds.
The renewing of our minds can only take place as the Holy Spirit changes our thinking.
This process of changing us to be more like Jesus is called sanctification. You can’t reproduce the character of Jesus on your own or by your own strength.
New Year’s resolutions, willpower, and best intentions are not enough.
A renewed mind is saturated and controlled by the Word of God.
· Are you renewed?
· Are you saturated?
God gives us the Holy Spirit to impart to us the mind of Christ.
May 23, 1993, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. He rescued me from drugs, alcohol and a life of sin.
The day I asked Jesus to forgive me and come live in my heart was many years ago. Yet, I remember it like it was today. It was life changing. A TOTAL transformation took place in my heart, mind and soul.
Today, January 1, 2023, Jesus is more than my Savior…He is my LORD, my HOPE, my WAY MAKER, my FATHER, my BEST FRIEND. He is my EVERYTHING!
God is continuing to transform me. My old ways are disappearing.
Personal examples that are close to me today are:
1. I have learned and I am learning to choose my battles. I have learned to ask the question, “Does this really matter?”
· In the past, ‘the before Jesus Terry’, and even after accepting Christ into my heart, I seemed to be constantly late wherever I would go.
God began to reveal to me that my being late was causing other people to sin.
· God was working on my character, and He still is, so that I represent Him well in all circumstances.
· My desire is always to be respectful of other people and that means that I must arrive on time and early is even better. I am working on early. J
In Christ, we are always better each day when we die to our old self, and we are willing to allow Him to change us into being more and more like Him.
Another transformation story that I have been given permission to share is from Wanda Herald. Many of you know Wanda. She attends our Harrisonburg campus.
I first met Wanda in August 2017. She was incarcerated at the Rockingham County Jail. Wanda attended a Ladies Bible Study/Chapel Service that I led.
I remember the first night I met Wanda. She prayed to rededicate her life to Jesus. After the message and prayer time, Wanda said “Preacher, I gave my life to Jesus tonight. You said earlier that He knew me when He was forming me in my mother’s womb.”
· Yes. I agreed that I had said that.
Wanda had a very pointed question to me. She wanted to know my thoughts on a particular sin in her life that God knew about when he was forming her.
I thank the Lord that by His grace, He gave me words to reply. I spoke the truth in love. I did not compromise the gospel.
One could have heard a pin drop in the room that night as I replied to Wanda.
· Suddenly it was time for the ladies to be handcuffed to return to their pod.
· BEFORE Wanda was handcuffed, she came up to me and she said…
”Preacher, can I hug you? You spoke the truth in love. You didn’t judge me and you didn’t talk down to me. You just spoke it. I will be back.”
Wanda attended every meeting. She was active in discussion and prayer.
· She got out on December 21, 2017 and immediately started attending the Harrisonburg Campus where she is faithfully attending now.
Wanda started serving at Hope Distributed Food Bank at the same time and she has been serving there faithfully ever since.
1. Wanda attends a Life Group.
2. She leads a class at Celebrate Recovery on Drug and alcohol addiction.
3. Wanda has served on several Work and Witness Trips. She plans to go on another trip in spring of 2023.
Wanda’s words to me, “God has really showed me favor in these past five years by blessing me with beautiful people in my life, a new townhouse fully furnished, and jobs that I never thought I would have”.
God met Wanda exactly where she was on that night in jail.
Wanda is a transformed child of God.
· The metamorphosis has taken place in her life no longer to conform to the things of this world.
· Moment-by-moment, He is transforming her into His image.
· With the help of the Holy Spirit, Wanda is representing Christ well. She is pointing people to Jesus by her transformed life.
· Wanda has experienced a heart change, a true transformation of a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly.
Wanda has been sober and drug free for 5 ½ years and serving Jesus.
If you would like to hear more of Wanda’s testimony, you can go to COTNAZ.org and select Watch/Listen online and go to Hope Talks.
· Wanda’s story is a ‘YAY FOR JESUS!’ story.
· YAY for Wanda and YAY for Jesus!!! (Clap) Wait for clapping to stop.
Through the renewal of our minds, we begin to see things differently, we see our life and others through the eyes of Christ.
Paul calls for us to offer our bodies. Our sacrifice is to be a living sacrifice. We can only live for Christ when we have died to the worldly claims on our life.
We at the church of the Nazarene believe our mission statement is true and relevant to the times in which we live,
‘Transformed by God to bring hope to others through Christ!’
Transformation is a call to change.
Think of it this way…if you were a musical instrument, your true purpose isn’t realized until you produce beautiful music.
Insert: Touch of the Master’s Hand: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/vab3nrtuw3o1dip/AACu19imcelX0PU_AzNsOn02a?dl=0&preview=Touch+4_37.mp4
The Touch of the Master made all the difference to everyone in the room. Suddenly folks were ready to bid $1,000 for what seemed to be a worthless violin.
The TOUCH of the Master in my life and in Wanda’s life radically changed who we were, who we are today, up until we take our final breath and are in heaven.
Paul is calling for a specific decision by everyone in this room. As a believer, He is calling you to live your life selflessly for God.
As a church, this kind of transformation is so important to us, it is the first idea in our mission.
We know we can’t bring hope to others through Christ until we are, ourselves, are being transformed.
This kind of transformation happens when we choose to offer ourselves to God and we choose to determine who we will serve and who we will follow.
Divine revelation requires our response.
· What is God saying to you? (pause)
You know…Christians are called to serve.
· Is He tugging at your heart calling you to serve in 2023?
This passage is also for the person who has fallen away from Christ or who has never made a commitment to offer their life to Jesus.
Today is the beginning of a new year. Hope has been shared. Today can be the beginning of your life transformed by Jesus.
Today you can recommit your life to Jesus or pray to accept Him for the very first time.
· It is called repentance, a churchy word, which actually means to turn around, a change of your thinking and behaving.
Jesus will meet you exactly where you are. There is no easier time than right now, choose Jesus to help you change your thinking, values, and your motives.
When you are transformed, He is continuing to form you in His image.
· The liberation of the Holy Spirit living in you begins to change the world of all those around you.
· You become contagious. People want what you have.
When you turn to God in obedience, the world’s influences diminish.
Have you trusted Jesus Christ for your salvation? Have you experienced the mercies of His love?
Have you offered your everyday ordinary life to Him as a living sacrifice?