Over the last 7 weeks we have been focussing on what it really means to be a saint.
No, that doesn’t mean we are members of a well known football club based on the south coast. It’s actually something very different yet it still reflects our individual involvement and personal commitment.
Being part of a church is God’s plan for every Christian and becoming part of that church is His plan too. We can’t do it on through our own effort and merit but are called by and made alive in, Christ.
In our final sermon of this Transformed life series we’ll see how God’s love and power bring us together, hold us together and enable us to grow together. It can all seem too much to grasp at times but God is able to do far more than we can ever ask or even imagine. Nothing is impossible for Him
There are serious benefits to be had when you’re connected with someone who is a mover and shaker. Not only do you get to bask in the reflected glory of another’s work, you get an open door to some good things yourself simply by virtue of who you know.
I’m not saying that the relationship of any Christian to Christ is like a business transaction – that’s far too pragmatic – but don’t forget the benefits of being connected and remaining connected. Setting it up is all Jesus’ work – that’s why it’s called grace – and the benefits are clear: growing up and spreading out.
But it will only happen if we stay connected to the source.
You don’t have to look too far to find a makeover show on the TV schedules.
Whether it’s your home, your garden or your image – it seems that anything is fair game. Shots of a disordered “before” are followed by the attentive intervention of experts such that in the closing minutes the final reveal (or “after”) seems to bear very little relation to what you began with.
The thing is, I don’t want a makeover, I need a transformation. There’s a danger that the work will be only skin deep and too much of the old me will remain – only to surface once the experts have left for the next victim (sorry, “project”).
The key word in today’s passage is but. Not related to water, nor anatomy but a recognition that not our outside but our very self is given a makeover by God. We’ll never be the same again afterwards, either.
Since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.
As we look at Hannah's prayer (1 Samuel 2: 1 - 10), we'll have the opportunity to share our own experiences of God and to pray with expectation for what God will do.
It’s right in front of you but you just can’t make it work or even work it out.
If that’s the case for simple things like self-assembly furniture, then surely it must be impossible for us to even begin to understand God? Well, we might think that but that’s not the case.
In today’s passage, we are encouraged to pray – for prayer brings revelation. We can see and understand the nature of God and our relationship with Him. It helps us as we explore those big questions of life - identity, purpose and belonging.
Whether we praise God with our hands raised or with our arms firmly at our sides, worship is the natural reaction of the believer in response to God’s nature and grace.
But what does it take for the King of Glory to come in?
Worship is personal and also costly. Our resolve to worship “in spirit and truth” will reflect both our relationship with God and the nature of our own heart. If we are thankful we will want to show it – and if we really mean business with God, we’ll do anything to make sure we are in the right place to express it. Our outward approach (clean hands: integrity) will reflect our inward attitude (a pure heart: holiness).
A trip to the bank or the hole in the wall isn't always the positive experience we'd like it to be. What we think should be there isn't always confirmed by what actually is there - too many calls on our flimsy reserves!
Thinking more personally, what does your spiritual bank balance look like? What's there for a rainy day? What holds it all together?
In today's message we'll learn how, in Christ, we are eternally blessed: there's always something there whatever our external circumstances might look like. We'll see how we are chosen and adopted in Christ, forgiven and free in Christ and expectant and forgiven in Christ.
Things can change depending on how you look at them.
A close examination of a piece of porcelain can reveal delicate brush work or hairline flaws. Instead of a minor windfall you can be left papering over the cracks.
A transformed life helps us to see God, others, the world and ourselves in a very different way. The cracks may be clearer but the way to wholeness is brought into sharper focus as we understand what barriers Jesus has really broken down.
There’s something special about “newness.” It’s starting again; it’s grasping opportunities; it’s realising long sought after goals.
Paul was aware that great changes had taken place in his life as a result of meeting Jesus on the Damascus road. But, things didn’t stop there – there was a spiritual journey to embark on and further changes to be made. None of it would be possible without God working in his life.
Every saint has a past but every sinner has a future.
Why choose me? What have I got to offer? Who will listen?
Transformation is dependent on relationship. A relationship can only begin and then grow if we are prepared to find common ground – to come together. In calling us God demonstrates how much he loves us.
The opportunity is here for us to realise the extent of that love: God is reaching out to us. But, we often settle for less than second best because we are afraid or somehow can’t really believe that God loves us so much.
It’s a battle we’ll fight on several fronts but we must first overcome the conflict or the struggle within. We are worth it – just believe it!
Over the next eight weeks, we are going to be focusing on three critical life questions: ‘Who am I?’, ‘Where do I fit?’ and ‘What am I living for?’ These questions concern our need to know our identity, belonging and purpose – and are vital for our whole existence and security.
We're using the Transformed Life materials to help us understand our relationship with God. This morning, as we look at the big picture of God's work in creation and (through Christ) in saving us - we'll see how we are marvellously made, fatally flawed but also totally transformed.
If we are self satisfied, self sufficient or self righteous then prayer really has no place in our life. We will have enough or know enough - at least in our own estimation - and so will not feel the need to involve God in our lives.
Only one "self" drives us to pray - that is being self aware. We know we can't sort things out for ourselves and are keenly aware that we need God's Grace through His direct involvement in our lives.
I've started so I'll finish.
For once this doesn't involve a leather chair, portentous music or a hectoring question master. In this case, it's an invitation and an opportunity to continue what we've begun in the sense of our developing and growing relationship with God.
Discipleship isn't rocket science - well, nothing is apart from rocket science. It's a process of transformation that is focussed on a developing relationship not changes to the way we behave or the way we live. We're pursuing God's goals and we need to keep on moving to get there!