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A Transformation Checkup

 


There was a man who made a permanent move into a retirement home.

It wasn’t long before he made friends with a special lady. They spent a lot of time together and finally one evening he proposed, asking her to marry him. The next morning he woke up remembering his proposal, but couldn’t remember her answer. So, he went to her and said, “I’m really embarrassed. I know I proposed to you last night, but I can’t remember if you said ‘yes’ or ‘no’.” “Oh, thank goodness!” she exclaimed. “I remember saying ‘yes’ but I couldn’t remember who asked me.”

Well, that’s the way it may seem when we make New Year’s resolutions and try to remember them a few months later. We remember making and committing to them, but we just don’t remember them for very long. Here in the beginning of March, with some going through the Lenten Season, it’s a good time to have a Transformation Check-up and see how we’re doing..

Paul confesses, “The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.  I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can help me? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.” (Romans 7:21-25) (Message Bible) He assures us that real transformation is possible, but only through Jesus Christ. Jesus summed it all up in Matthew 26:41 by saying, “Watch and pray so that you don’t fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” You see, the ultimate resolution is not to cut the carbs, or quit smoking, or get to aerobics class twice a week, but to live in the presence and power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, so that He can transform and strengthen us from the inside out.

So, how does this all work? I believe it’s like an Electrical Transformer. It takes high voltage and transforms it into energy that we can use in our everyday lives. Through His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus has transformed the power of God into impulses of grace for salvation and for everyday living. The real resolution is to allow that current of grace, through the Holy Spirit, to control all of our impulses, making life a moment-by-moment adventure with Jesus living in us.

But what is my part in all of this? Jesus needs our permission. He needs us to exercise the power of our will to allow Him to make the changes needed for a full and abundant life. The book, Ministry of Healing, says, “We cannot change our hearts, we cannot control our thoughts, our impulses, or our affections. We cannot make ourselves pure, that is, fit for God’s service. But we can choose to serve God, and we can give Him our will; then He will work in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13) Thus our whole nature will be brought under the control of Christ.”

By daily yielding up our will to Christ, we ally ourselves with divine power and an entire change may be made in the life. We receive strength from above to hold us steadfast. Believe me, it’s a powerful transformation experience. All God needs is our consent and cooperation; a choosing to serve Him; and a yielding of our will to Him.

I know there are all kinds of diet drugs and pills, miracle working equipment, and life-changing products and plans calling us to sign up. Did you know that 55 percent of Americans will keep their New Year’s resolutions for only one month; 40 percent will keep them for six months; and less than 20 percent will keep their resolutions for two years? Our intentions are noble, but lasting change does not come easily. But Paul advises us in 1 Tim 4:7-9 - “Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God - no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both for today and forever.” (Message Bible) Spiritual transformation is not a matter of trying harder, but of training wisely with the right coach.

Please don’t get discouraged by the trying process of change and making resolutions, just begin training with Jesus one day at a time and experience His personal transformational power. “Be confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)

Retired Pastor Jim Nichols

Sidney Seventh Day Adventist Church

 

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