Friday, February 10, 2012

Transformation takes time

This Sunday (February 12), my message to God’s people at First Pres, Evanston, will be based on I Corinthians 6:1-8, Transformation takes time. If you are able, come and worship with us.

Transformation does take time. The process of change is not a ride on a bullet train. Going from rebellion to full-hearted surrender to Jesus is a process of growth. I like to say that every Christian should carry a sign that says, Under Construction.

In my reading of Joel, I saw three powerful incentives for transformation of the heart. I commend the three chapters of this powerful book to you.

Day of the Lord
This is a major theme in Joel. Five times he talks about this coming Day. For Joel, the “day” refers not only to a final day of judgment upon the nations (3:2) but also to God’s ongoing judgment of Israel, both past and future (1:15; 2:2, 11), and instances of his intervention between Israel and the nations.

Knowing that the Day of the Lord is coming is an incentive to carefully live our single, solitary life. One day--we don’t know when--we will be held accountable for the lives we have lived before God.

In Joel, the whole community must cry out to the Lord (1:13–20) and look to him—not merely with external actions but in sincerity with their whole persons. It is here in Joel that we learn the famous quote, rend your heart, and not your garment (2:13). Don’t hide behind pretensions and religious acts. God wants you to repent and turn away from all sin.

Holy Spirit in our midst
Joel sees a coming day when God’s Spirit will be poured on people of every race, class, and gender. Without the presence and power of God’s Spirit poured out on all flesh, preparing for the day of the Lord and genuine repentance doesn't happen. The Holy Spirit is THE agent of true change.

                        Return to the LORD your God,
                        for he is gracious and merciful,
                        slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
                        and he relents over disaster.
                        (Joel 2:13)
Lord, continue to remind me that you are Lord of every heart. Help me remember that I have these moments to live and then one day I will stand before you and account for my life. Lord, I repent of all my sin and all the ways I hide my sin. Send your Holy Spirit upon my heart and change me from deep within. I pray this for myself, my family, my friends and your church. Thank you for grace and mercy through Jesus Christ! Amen

Question: Which of the three incentives inspire you to live a transformed life?