Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Transformers

Lately I’ve found myself thinking about transformers…you know the toy that changes from a man to a car or something like that. My oldest son had one of them and it caused some frustration and created a few headaches. I haven’t helped him with that for a few years, but recently I found myself thinking about them again. Only this time it wasn’t a piece of plastic I was thinking about…it was myself.

At times I’m a secure, confident Christian who depends on and trusts in our faithful, heavenly Father. I believe what He whispers to my heart thru His Word and Spirit, I have the courage to step out in faith and do what He calls me to. Then something happens and I find myself feeling defeated and experiencing doubt. I wonder if I’ve heard God correctly and question what it is He seems to be asking me to do. Friend, this leads to way more frustration than my son’s old toy.

Awhile back this frustration brought me to my knees and led me into God’s Word. I know He is the One who transforms and have been part of a women’s event who’s mission is "to see women’s lives transformed by the Truth." I know this, but my experience as a “Transformer” led me to dig deeper. 

In my last post, I wrote about my "baby" learning to ride his 2 wheel bike...he's removed the training wheels. As I've walked in faith, in a spiritual sense God has done that for me, but as I transform back to my old self it's like I put them back on. I visited about this with my kids and we laughed thinking about J.D., our teenager, putting training wheels on his big bike. That is silly, but in a way it's what I sometimes do in my mind. I'm ready to be done with that, so I went to the only place that will help...

Romans 12:1-2 is a passage I’m familiar with and one I go to, but I’ve never really studied it, so that’s what I did. There is much packed into these 2 little verses that Paul shares. First of all, they are the beginning of the half of the book that is all about our behavior. The first 11 chapters of Romans tell us much about our beliefs while the last 5 chapters instruct us on how to live out those beliefs. One commentator even talked about how these 2 verses could easily be adapted as the Christian's pledge of allegiance. 

First of all, let's read this verse in a few different versions -

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. (NIV)

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (NLT)

Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete. (The VOICE)

What do these verses say to you? What do they say about God? Have you ever spent much time thinking and praying about being conformed? Do you realize your need for transformation? Do you wonder how your mind can be renewed?

Friend, these are all good questions to think about and better ones to answer, so let's look at a few key words. Strong's dictionary, which looks at the original language of the Bible, defines conform like this - assuming a similar outward form by following the same pattern, mold or model. This happens when we go with the flow, blend in and don't rock the boat. Have you done this? Stop for a minute and think - "Who or what do you conform to?"

Personally, as I've worked thru this study I've been convicted of conforming to who I once was...in my mind I go back to old ways of thinking, battle lies God's helped me recognize and live out habits time has created. This is not a picture of transformation, which leads me to our next word.

The Greek word for transform is metamorpho, which is where we get the word metamorphosis and it means to change after being with. This is a present tense verb, meaning it's not an on again off again process, it's continuous. It's also a passive word meaning God is the catalyst, but it's imperative as well, which tells us we have a response.

Clearly there is a difference between conformed and transformed, would you agree? I found a few - conformed is an outer response while transformed is inner. Conformed tends to more of a pressing into while transformed is an internal change. If we are passive and let life happen conformity will take place. When we are intentional and abide with Christ and in His Word, transformation is a possibility. Friend, God desires to transform us while Satan loves to see us conform to the world he rules.

If you are a disciple of Jesus, I'm guessing you long for transformation. You are aware of areas of life you want to see changed, but may find yourself wondering how this can happen. Paul gives us the answer - we must renew our mind, which gives us another key word. According to Strong's renew means to make fresh or new, it's achieved by God's power and results in a change of heart. Friend, I've said it before and I'll say it again...our minds are powerful. It's where our thoughts happen and these thoughts lead to our actions and words, we must renew our thinking repeatedly.

Just in case you need further proof for that point, take a look at Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 11:3. Here he says, "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." Our minds are vulnerable and Satan is on the attack, renewal is necessary.

Understanding is the first step, but the important question is – “How does this happen?” There are many things to consider, but let’s start with a look at Romans 8:29 – “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters." This verse tells us who does the work and gives a positive picture of confirmation. Are you willing to surrender today so God can transform you as He conforms you into the image of His Son?

Another step we must not overlook is found in 1 John 5:14-15 - "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of Him." With humble hearts and expectant spirits, may we ask God for transformation. He hears our prayers and is faithful to answer them.

Part of this prayer needs to be confession. This is the step that leads to repentance, which means to turn around or change direction. It’s a change that is part of transformation. We must first confess our sins to God (1 John 1:9) and then confess them to others (James 5:16). This is never an easy thing to do, but accountability and prayers from others are a part of the transforming work God can do.

This work we need God to do begins in our minds, which means we must practice taking our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) and setting our minds are thoughts that are good, pure and from the Lord (Phil. 4:8). So friend, when those thoughts come that are wrong or lies from the enemy…STOP. Don’t allow that thinking to continue. Pray and ask for Truth to replace them.

Last, but not least it’s God’s Word that has the power to transform us. The Bible is not merely a book of information it is a book of transformation. It is the inspired Word of God that is useful (2 Timothy 3:16) and it is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). God will speak to us, convict us and comfort us with His Scripture. The Holy Spirit will give us discernment and wisdom as we read the words. Simply said, we will be transformed as we read, study, meditate and pray the Word of God.

Friend, before we close I want to share a few things in case you want to dig a bit deeper. We recently worked thru a study on transformation at our local Titus24U group and I was encouraged. We must remember transformation is a process, it involves surrender, time and work. This won't end until we meet the One who transforms us. We each have areas that God is molding and chipping away. He is able to change us from the inside out. So if you want to join Him in the process, take a look at these verses that give us a glimpse of what the transformed life looks like -

Colossians 1:10
2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Galatians 2:20
Habakkuk (A different type of prophet book...most share what the Lord says, this is a look at a conversation between Habakkuk and the Lord. Note the transformation that takes place...God's Word changes us!) 
Paul
2 Peter 1:3-11

Some Things to Think About
Where? How? Why am I conforming?




What area(s) need to be transformed?




Related Truth that will Transform (Study, Memorize, Meditate On and Pray This)





Prayer
Heavenly Father, I thank you for your grace and because of your mercy I want to offer my body and life as a living sacrifice. May this act of worship be holy and pleasing to You. Lord, I don’t want to conform to the world any longer. Show me when and where I do this then Lord transform me by renewing my mind. Lead me to your Word, use it to penetrate my heart and right my thinking. Fill me with Your Spirit and tender my heart. In humility, may I let you do what you need to do to mold me into the person you created me to be. Thru this process help me do what you gifted me to do and shine my light so others see and glorify you. Father thank you for choosing me and calling me your masterpiece, may your good, pleasing and perfect will unfold today. Have your way. In the precious and powerful name of Jesus I pray, Amen

Before
Friend, as I worked thru this study and continue to long for transformation, God gave me another illustration. This summer my daughter took an old wood pallet and turned it into a table. It was quite the project...it took time and work. She heard encouraging words, but some thought I'd never let her put it in the house. She sanded, she cut, she sanded some more and varnished. Eventually, she proudly brought in her finished table. Every time I walk by it, I'm reminded of the change that took place and am excited to think about God doing a similar work in me.

 In the Biblical context, transformation tends to be a permanent change. Just like Joy's table it may take awhile to get there, but it is possible. God will be faithful to do His part, let's commit to be disciplined and do our's!! And friend, when that area of transformation is complete, let's take another lesson from Joy, my girl who's started another project, and let the next one begin!!

After

Finally, may this song from Phillips, Craig and Dean encourage you as the transformation process continues!! Blessings to you friend...thankful to join you on this journey!



1 comment:

  1. Jill, this is an excellent teaching on conforming vs. transforming. Thank you for not only taking the time to study it, but to present it so well to teach and equip us. I too struggle with the going back to where I was - my old, familiar way of thinking. We must pray for strength to stand firm against those lies from the devil who wants to take us back to where we were before the Lord transformed our hearts and and minds. Great Scriptures to hold onto for me today.

    Blessings,

    Wendy

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