This being the first Sunday of the new year, it would be normal to suggest a few new year’s resolutions, maybe, we should join the end of obesity campaign or in the financial sense, get control of our credit, so that we either cut up our credit card or manage it so we never buy without the means to pay. Or maybe we should be green and reduce our carbon footprint, whatever that is. But rather than suggest resolutions which we cannot keep I want to look for something that is worth far more and is a work of God rather than us, although it requires our willingness and obedience.
Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5 verse 5 (NIV)
We have spent some time declaring that Jesus is the Hope. Not just this Christmas but all year. We have this message for our family, friends, neighbours and everyone we live and work with. And the hope we have does not disappoint not because we all live happily ever after and all is sweetness and light but because the Holy Spirit has been poured our in our hearts. That is why the hope does not disappoint. You have the Holy Spirit in your life pouring in the love of God. For those with a theological bent, it is that God’s love comes through the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Holy Spirit and his actions are all outworking of the love of God. But he pours his love into our hearts for a purpose. And that is what I want to move on to this morning. The banner I have given for Romans is ‘Life changing power in Jesus’. As we continue through this exciting book full of detail of the greatness of our salvation we see that at the heart of our gospel is that God wants to change us. And it is the how and what that will occupy our thinking in the coming months.
So I want to turn to Romans 12:1-2 this morning to give a taster of what it meant by ‘God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit,’ because it is easy to think that the Holy Spirit does all the work and somehow we become like Jesus without our wills and our desires and our thinking changing.
Romans 12 verse 1 - 2 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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.
First, I want you to notice some important elements to these verses.
Paul is referring to the teaching that he has given in the last 11 chapters,
(Teaching), it is in the light of what we learn from God’s word, through our experience of living in the Spirit that we are led
to offer(Prayer) Too often our prayers are detailed and contain our demands of the God we hope will hear us. True prayer is about our offering ourselves to God, to his will, to be changed by his Spirit, and you are to offer
your bodies as living sacrifices(serving), that reflects the first command – to love the Lord your God with all our heart and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is nothing less than removing ‘I’ from the controls of our lives and handing the handset over to Jesus. From now on, Jesus chooses what I see, what I say and what I do . And he can make our lives
holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. If worship is limited to what we do on Sunday mornings or evenings or even in our quiet times with God, then it is a sham. Jesus wants our body in service not just lip-service.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.(Discipleship) Discipleship, as we have seen, is not about carrying out actions but being changed by God. The practical exercises of prayer, Bible study, meditation, fasting, and so on are simply exercises to bring about spiritual change in our lives. The outcome of all this ?
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will(Fellowship; Telling the Good news; Community care; Mission Links).
So Romans is all about us responding to the love of God in Christ Jesus. This year, we have chosen to centre our thinking on these words which are a translation of
Romans 12:2b in the CEV which says:
Let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.
So why concentrate here? Because we are constantly bombarded with the wrong thinking. We are squeezed into the mould of our culture and its values. And our culture is anti- God or ignore God or blame God. So unless we change the way we think we will never know what it is to live as God made us to live.
Let God change the way you think.
So what do we mean by changing the way you think? Well in everything you think about. Let God change the way you think.
Money – If you haven’t thought through your finances before God then now is the time to start! Let God change the way you think.
Sex- we are not prudish, God talks about sex, which is not suprising - he invented it! But he knows how sin warps his holy ideal to adultery and perversion . Let God change the way you think.
Power – how we try to stay in control , manipulate others for our own ends, run our families, our office, our country. Let God change the way you think.
Identity – our security as a person too often lies in our family, our job, our church, our possessions, our achievements and even our ancestry. Let God change the way you think.
Relationship – the heart of all relationship is love and love itself is turned to selfishness and self-seeking. God sent Jesus into this world to model his idea of relationship, one based on the security of being accepted and loved by God, knowing forgiveness and being able to forgive, giving friendship rather than receiving it. Let God change the way you think.
Ambition – what you want to be. How you dream you might be if you got the opportunity. Let God change the way you think.
Values. – what do you value or treasure? Is it in a bank or building society, parked in the road?, have you got it on CD or DVD? Jesus said quite simply ‘where your treasure is there your heart will be also.’ Matthew 6:21 Let God change the way you think.
So what this morning is about is setting a challenge for this year. Not a challenge to do but a challenge to let God do in your mind. The question is by the end of 2009, will you have let God change the way you think or have you frustrated his will and purpose for you by refusing to let him transform of your thinking.
Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.
Simple isn’t it! If our thinking was transformed, our actions would be correct and holy and pleasing to God. How often do we wonder about guidance and gifts of discernment and gifts of knowledge because we want to know God’s will and our verse says it is a straightforward case of let God change the way you think and the guidance follows. Or to put it in Jesus’ words “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. “ Matthew 6:33
This is not a call to instant resolution. It involves, learning, prayer, worship, discipleship, fellowship, telling good news, community care and Mission Links but this is the adventure we are on. Let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.
God knows where it will lead us but this is the hope that does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.Return to top