CHRISTIAN TRANSFORMATION

When we become believers in Jesus there is a massive change that takes place in who we are
And, A continuous change – as we continue to grow and mature in our walk with the Lord
A change that begins on the inside
A change that eventually others can see on the outside

The inside:
In your attitude
In your values
In your morals
In your perspective
In your desires and dreams
In your priorities
The outside:
In your actions
In your words
In your Bible reading, prayer, church attendance
In the way you live and value life
Treating people like Jesus did – with dignity and respect
When we encounter God and His love and become born again we become, as you know, “new creatures in Christ”
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
The Passion Translation “Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new.”
The inner changes are instant and permanent
Changes on the inside often take a little while because the “new things” need to take root before they bear fruit on the outside, in your life, so others can see
Change is a given and a constant when you are a true believer
I have a deep concern that I have been mulling over the last few years and really chewing on the last few weeks …
It seems in the vast majority of the Christian world today that believers lives are not changing
People get born again and then continue to live life just like everyone around them who are not disciples of Jesus
Little changes and if something changes it is usually an external change and it does not last long – it is not sustained – it has no roots
Example: People add things to their lives when they become followers of Jesus
Daily prayer
Bible reading (seldom Bible “study”)
Worship
Journaling
Membership in a local church
Infrequent attendance
Fellowship with other believers (coffee and chat)
But, these additions – outward changes – do not lead to inward life-changes
There seems to be little real “inner life change” leading to outward change and thus little difference in the way we live when compared to how non-believers live
So, others, especially young people, see little relevance to the Christian faith and the Church because they see how little it has impacted and thus influenced the life of believers
As I think about this and examine what has happened and is happening I see some fairly consistent trends
First, the Church is focused on ‘information’ and not ‘transformation’
Not against knowing the Bible
Not against teaching good Christian doctrine
Not against imparting a good Christian worldview
BUT, the reality is that it often becomes more information for the sake of more information … no life-change from the inner heart
Secondly, the Church has aimed at the ‘head’ and not the ‘heart’ and change originates in the inner person – the heart
We have a “rational” approach to the Christian faith and the Bible
We work to understand the Bible and the teachings of the Church
We have a rational and logical approach to the Scriptures
We live in an age of reason
As a result we have a natural outlook and approach to life and not a supernatural understanding and approach
We trust our own understanding of things
We work from a foundation of our own life experiences
Our wisdom and not God’s wisdom
And, as a result, we see little release of this “new life” that is in us
We certainly do not live the “abundant life” that Jesus spoke about and promised us
We see little of the “new creature” that the Scriptures speak about
It does not work itself from the inside to the outside!
That all sounds negative I am sure
But, I don’t feel negative and certainly don’t want to be negative or leave you with a negative taste in your mouth
However, I do want to face reality and sort through why we, the Christians, are not seeing what the Bible promises
And, why we are not living the supernatural and abundant life that Jesus lived, spoke about, demonstrated, and promised
Why are we not seeing the powerful transformation we read about in so many of the biographies about believers who lived ‘back then’
SO, as I approach the 43rd anniversary of my personal encounter with the Lord I am asking a lot of questions in this whole area of TRANSFORMATION and LIFE-CHANGE
In another month I will have been born again for 43 years
November 8, 1976 – healed
November 9, 1976 – born again
February 9, 1977 – baptized in the Holy Spirit
The night that I was healed I had no idea what really happened other than I was healed
No deep, biblical understanding of how this happened in my life
It was simply, for me, a sovereign and unexpected encounter with the living God
The night I was born again (saved) I again encountered God in a very real way
You all know my story … I saw, I heard, I touched (1 John 1:1-4)
I had a second encounter with the living God – Jesus!
Both of these events totally changed my life
Inside: forgiven, cleansed, removal of unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness…
Outside: new values, motives, morals, attitude …
I had encountered Jesus and His presence – key word: PRESENCE – changed my life
Over the next three months I experienced Jesus working in my life and through me in the lives of others
Each time I experienced His presence things changed inside of me
More of a release
More freedom
More life
Then I encountered God in a big way three months after being healed and saved when I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit
Again, another life-changing encounter
And in my walk with the Lord ever since it has been a series of major encounters and then regular (but not always daily) experiences with the Lord (Holy Spirit)
It has been these infrequent big encounters and more frequent experiences with the Holy Spirit that have brought about the changes in my life
When I touched His presence and knew that He was with me and speaking to me
Not more knowledge as good and important as that may be
Not filling my head with information but allowing God to touch my heart
Changes on the inside bringing about changes in the way I live (outside)
God touching my heart – my encountering God (presence)  – brought about life-change
Heart not head
Inside not outside
Transformation not information (knowledge)
Admit it:
If sermons and teachings could change your life – after listening to hundreds if not thousands of sermons – you would be massively different than you are today
If reading your Bible every day is the way to change your life then, wow, we would all live in a way vastly different than how we currently live
If prayer could change our lives, again, we would be powerfully altered and transformed
We need to encounter God regularly and experience Him frequently
So, I was thinking about Bible characters
The real people whose stories are recorded in the pages of Scripture
Jacob – Meets God at Bethel and so begins an amazing life-transformation
Jacob – Wrestled all night with God and it changed him, transformed him forever
Then experienced God on a regular basis (protection, family)
Moses – Encountered God in a burning bush and transformed him
Moses – Encountered God on the top of Mt. Sinai and again transformed him
And then, on a regular basis, experienced God (manna, water)
Isaiah – Encountered God in the temple and seriously transformed
And then, as the prophet, experienced God regularly
Jeremiah – Encountered God as a teen and his life is transformed
And God touched his life many times after that
Almost all the main characters in the Bible stories had an encounter with the living God that transformed them
And then had continuing experiences with God as life progressed bringing about even more change
The common feature is that every one of these men and women encountered God and thus knew His presence in their lives
Today:
Christians have all these disciplines that they are working to do daily – Bible, prayer, worship, witnessing – hoping they will bring about change, transformation
And, of course, it does not bring change – often we can’t even keep up the daily disciples
So, I asked myself, “Why is it such a struggle?”
Jesus:
First sought to change the inner desires of his followers by bringing them into repeated encounters of the Father’s love and power
Once their hunger for more of the Father’s love had increased, they were able to develop disciplined habits in their lives
The desire to maintain a daily discipline comes out of an encounter with the Living God
Today:
Christians seem to think the more they know of their Bible and of God the less sin will have power over them
They think that correct information will inevitably lead people out of bondage and into abundant life
People are not trapped by the idea of sin – they are trapped by the experience of it
Jesus:
Sin rises out of the heart and so an encounter with the Living God that transforms the heart will free the person from bondage to sin
Encounters with God are not an end in themselves
They are intended to awaken us to God’s presence and move us closer to Him
Once we have encountered His incomprehensible love, our desire for Him increases, then the spiritual disciplines can kick in
If transformation (encounter and experience) does not continue throughout a believer’s life
The fire of an intimate walk with God will eventually be replaced with religion
We have these rules that tell us we have to read the Bible, pray…
Listen:
There is no secret process to spiritual transformation – the only “secret” is more of God’s presence (encounters, experiences)
So, I believe:
An encounter or experience of God’s presence is the key to a transformed life and actually living as “new creatures in Christ”
Our prayer should be:
“God, I want more of you at any cost! I will pay any price!”
It is time to trade up:
We have settled for a formal relationship with God
God wants a radical, passionate love affair – not a formal relationship
God wants us to experience His presence all the time
Let’s talk about God’s presence for a minute
God is everywhere present – “omnipresent”
There are times when God lets us feel His presence – manifest presence of God
There are other times when we have a personal experience of His manifest presence
This personal encounter and experience is what brings immense and immediate life transformation and change
However, because we are “new creatures in Christ”
We are literally walking within His presence all of the time (bubble) as well
“Christ in you…” and “you are in Christ”
His presence:
It is not a feeling – although it can be
It is an awareness of Him
It is a knowing that He is here, now, with me and you
It is a reality that we live in and walk in all the time
He wants us to be a “people of His presence” as were the Israelis under Moses’s leadership
Exodus 33:15-16 “And Moses said to God, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favour in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
So, His presence is with us all the time
How do we get to the point where this becomes a reality?
Where we realize that He is always here for us – present with us?
The foundation (step one) of being a continuous  “person of His presence” is simply encountering His love and experiencing His love in a real way every day
We know all the verses starting with “God is love” and “we love Him because He first loved us” 1 John 4:8; 4:19)
“God so loved the world …” (John 3:16)
Love is the key to life transformation … because if we truly know He loves us we can trust Him to come in and make the necessary changes
The second step – if we can call them steps – is to receive and walk in His peace
Peace with God receive when first saved – Romans 5:1
Peace that Jesus gives to us in the midst of life issues  – John 14:27
Resulting in trust, rest, and relying on Him
Peace of God that passes all understanding – Philippians 4:7
Once you encounter and experience His peace then you can enter into His presence
The third step – Live in His presence
Peace with God allows you the freedom to enter His presence
Peace of God allows you to “be still and know that He is God/love” (Psalm 46:10)
We become the “people of His presence”
The fourth step – Let the rivers flow – power  (John 7:38)
His presence then allows you to walk in His power
And exhibit Him in the world, putting Him on display for all to see (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
And, you can move in the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)
Love —> Peace —> Presence —> Power
My Point:
We need to encounter the living God on a regular basis as it is in the encounters that we are transformed
We need to experience His presence daily so that we continue to grow, change, and be transformed
Transformation – extreme life-change – happens only when we have an encounter with our Heavenly Father
And continues to move us forward in our walk as we experience His presence daily
Then people will see / notice that we truly are different and that His presence is really with us
Then we can “put God on public display” 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 … word: ‘demonstrate’
So, my prayer challenge:
“God I want more of you at any cost! I will pay any price!”